02 Jun

Valuable Online Marketing Techniques for Local Businesses

Local businesses are always hungry for new customers, new revenues and increases in sales. For some, the margin between a very profitable and comfortable year and a tight, uncomfortable year can be just a few extra customers.

Obviously, all the standard marketing tactics and strategies still apply. You must have a great product and service, you have to have a good reputation and encourage word-of-mouth referrals, and you must have excellent customer service and provide an easy customer experience.

Hopefully all those things can be taken for granted. In this article we are going to talk about some of the other tactical approaches to local business marketing, specifically for generating online referrals. Hopefully these can provide you, your business or your clients’ business with an extra boost it takes to make this years a very profitable one!

#1 – Don’t Neglect Local Business Directories

For some this may come as less of a surprise, but don’t neglect local business directories for your online strategy. While many of them might seem like they don’t offer much, it is extremely important you can your business listed is as many of these as possible. For a few different reasons:

Firstly, you never know how much traffic these sites get, and how much of that traffic could be coming to you. Over the years I have written off some directories and ‘Yellow Page’ type sites, only to see referral traffic become a very significant source of customers to me and my clients properties. They are as legitimate of source of potential clients as Organic Traffic, PPC or any other form of advertising, so don’t right them off, at all.

Secondly, they provide a valuable form of branding for your site. When a potential client is researching for a purchasing decision, they will likely take to several different sites before coming to a final choice.

If they see your companies brand all over the place, that is an extremely positive signal to them, it brands you as an authority in the field. If they only see you once (even if you are ranked first page in Google), they are less likely to think of you as a trusted authority and someone to do business with.

Finally, they can help you rank in search engines. It’s true, directories help you rank, especially for local terms. Being listed in local directories is a natural and almost universal aspect of real, trusted businesses, and that is what Google and other search engines are looking for. So give them what they want!

P.S.: almost all of them provide some sort of free listing, so you don’t need to pay anything, if you don’t want to.

Some directories to get listed in (just to get you started):

http://www.porch.com
http://www.thumbtack.com
http://www.yelp.com

#2 – Video Marketing

YouTube is of the top search engines in the world. It should always be in the conversation when talking about online marketing, but often times it is neglected. Many online marketers view youtube and video optimization as spammy or cheap, but in reality a local customer is not going to have that bias.

“Regular people” (i.e. not Marketers) see videos as just as trusted and valuable as any other search result. In fact, due to the added graphics that video results give in the search results, videos can often garner above average interaction rates. It’s a no brainer to make video marketing part of your strategy.

As an example, one local company, called Tri-State Delivery and Assembly, which provides (among other things) swing set installation services in the NY, NJ and CT area, uses a simple, and to the point video marketing method, see below:

If you notice, the title of the video and it’s description in Youtube are treated as any other marketing webpage. Provide some unique and valuable content, prominent calls to action and a descriptive, keyword-relevant title, and viola, you have yourself a perfect example of video marketing.

Keep in mind the video itself is only 30 seconds long, but it provides a perfect summary of the companies services and finishes with a display of the companies contact information. That’s all a customer really needs.

This is something that makes video marketing so powerful, short, to-the-point, and extremely visual in nature. Think of it like a television commercial, only better, because chances are your viewer is actually interested in your product.

3. Keep Social Profiles Up-to-date and Provide Exclusive Content

Social media is obviously a large part of online marketing, especially for local restaurants, bars and events. It is more relevant in some sectors than others, but all companies should have at least moderately active and up-to-date social accounts. It helps connect with customers and remain actively part of their daily lives.

This provides excellent branding impressions and maintains an audience base that can be leveraged at any point down the road. Following our example from above, Tri-State has a moderately active Facebook page, where it shares pictures of it’s latest installations and provides occasional reviews from happy customers. This is a perfect way to maintain a positive sentiment and continual awareness from your customer base.

One trick to increasing the perceived value of your social accounts is to provide your users/customers/followers/etc with exclusive content on the social account. For example, a local restaurant could offer a free drink coupon to it’s Facebook or Twitter followers. You can also incentivize sharing of your content and account by providing freebies to users who retweet, share or otherwise promote your social content.

Hopefully this has provided you with some insight and ideas about local online marketing. Following these basic rules (as well as the fundamental rules of a successful business) and you can find yourself bringing in extra revenue and ROI from your marketing efforts.