4 Rules for Integrated Local and Digital Marketing That Works
For many brick and mortar businesses with a largely local customer base, mastering digital marketing can be difficult. Understanding which of the many options available to broadcast your message and boost brand awareness, and ultimately drive sales, is a dizzying prospect for those who’ve relied primarily on local marketing and advertising in the past. Digital marketing may even seem wasteful at times, from the uphill battle to rank well in search engines to social media engagement often coming from faraway, irrelevant places.
I’ve worked with many franchises on local marketing campaigns with strong digital components. I’ve seen what happens when digital marketing is conducted without regard for your local audience. However, a franchise that relies on in-person business, like a gym, a restaurant or a salon, needs impactful digital marketing to complement existing or new local marketing efforts. Without the digital component, businesses fall behind. Without the local component, they fail to reach their target audience.
At Bluewater, we’ve established some ground rules for integrating local and digital marketing to ensure our clients succeed.
1. Know Where You’re Going:
It may seem obvious, but the first step in digital marketing is to ask yourself why you’re taking your marketing online. Without predefined goals, you won’t be able to measure the success of your efforts. And much of digital marketing is knowing where to find your audience, and when to target them. Finding the best channels for this can be tricky, given how many options are available. Narrowing it down to the ones that will best reach your local audience is critical.
To do this we use some simple tactics to see where people are finding out about your business. First of all, you need an online tool to track the performance of your website and digital campaigns, like Google Analytics. If you’re unsure how to analyze your digital metrics, hire someone who knows — it’s that important. Analytics will show you which of your digital efforts are bearing the most fruit and which are dying on the vine.
Secondly, we always recommend the tried and true method of asking your customers how they found your business. When your customers buy something from you, they may be willing to tell you how they discovered your location. If you’re hearing a lot of “I found you through Google,” then you know your audience is using that search engine actively and it’s worth making an investment to rank higher than your competition. If you hear “Facebook,” you know that channel is working. Customers may not always feel like answering this question, but for the ones that do, the information is invaluable.
2. Take Your Marketing to Mobile:
Your best customers are discovering and shopping on mobile devices — it’s undeniable. Global Web Index reports that 80 percent of Internet users search on their smartphones. And of all smartphone users, 80 percent also use their devices to shop. Add to that the fact that 70 percent of consumers who find a business on their mobile devices act within an hour. It’s staggering how important mobile has become in such a short time. If your website is not optimized for a mobile experience, you will lose business. This means your local site must load quickly and be easy to read and navigate on a small screen.
Mobile is more than just your website, though. If you’re employing digital marketing tactics, you must make sure they all work on mobile devices. For example, if you’re looking to purchase ad space on a relevant website, but that site is not mobile responsive, your ad won’t make the right impression to mobile-savvy customers.
3. Untangle the Web of Search Engine Marketing:
SEO, SEM and all the other related acronyms can be confusing to business owners who’ve never played the game of ranking higher in search engines. But understanding the impact these tactics have on your business is essential. If you’re a big brand with big resources, ranking well organically in search is an easy task. For small and medium businesses, where competition is especially stiff, it’s much harder. However, going back to the previous example of customers mentioning they find you a lot on Google, if you’re seeing a ton of search referrals to your website and your business then you can’t afford to ignore paid listings.
Paid listings, like Google AdWords, allow you to bid for higher placement above even organic search results on engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. You can typically buy these ads with a pay-per-click option, so you only have to pay when someone actually clicks on the link. Some also offer a pay-per-call option that’s great for mobile searches; in this case, you only pay when someone calls you through your ad. The key to success with search ads is optimization of the copy. You need to make sure your copy is eye-catching, but also contains the key words or search terms you anticipate your customers will use to find you.
When it comes to SEM, Google reigns. Studies have found that over 70 percent of customers who use their mobile phones to search for a business call the business directly from a Google result. A full complement of business tools for Google are available for free, with Google My Business integrating with Google Maps and Google+ to give customers who are searching for you on mobile devices access to all the information they need to research and contact your business.
4. Long Live Traditional Marketing:
Digital marketing is undeniably on the rise, but traditional local marketing is still alive and well for many businesses. This is especially true if your customers tell you they found you through a local tactic like a postcard or print ad. If these are drumming up business, don’t be tempted to abandon them for digital simply because it seems like the way of the future.
It’s worth keeping traditional ads running alongside your digital and mobile efforts, at least until you’re absolutely positive which works best for you. There’s a lot of experimentation involved in any good, well-rounded marketing strategy. Through some trial and error, you’ll learn which channels give you the most bang for your buck. Remember, you need to make sure you have a mechanism in place to keep track of the performance of each channel, and compare against your overall goals.
In the end, we’ve found focusing too much on either digital or traditional local advertising is short-sighted in the present day. Combine the two to find the right recipe for your business, and they’ll play off one another beautifully to drive new and repeat business!