When you’re developing a B2B marketing strategy, one of the key things you need to pinpoint is where your potential customers are – and therefore, where you should be offering and promoting your products.
For many businesses, mastering local markets will be a key part of their growth plans. This is especially true for start-ups, but even firmly established national brands often work hard to have a strong local presence.
It may be that you are a bricks and mortar business with a limited reach, or you could be planning to start local before rolling out your services more broadly. You may even be offering a mix of online and offline services. Whatever your motivation, it pays to give some thought to the local picture.
It is also wise to put systems put in place from the start that will help make your life a little easier, as the business develops. But before you get stuck in, there is one more step you also need to take when thinking about local markets. You need to make sure you are fully up to speed on any laws and legislations that may apply to your business.
Different rules are applicable in different states (and in other regions outside of the US, if you go on to expand). You need to ensure you are up to speed on these rules and fully compliant – even if you are purely an online business.
Once you have a handle on the legal side, it’s time to get started with your plans. So, what can you do to ensure you achieve the maximum impact within your local markets?
Top tips for local marketing
1. Local level SEO
If you’re serving a specific local area, it is extremely important to have all your online material optimized for local search. (i.e. so you are being found when people are searching for products and solutions within a set geographic area).
According to a Google study, 4 in 5 people now use search to find local information, so tapping into this should be one of your main objectives.
You need to be aware of what people are searching for but also how their location may be affecting what they search for and the words and phrases they use. There are lots of tools that can help you, including Google and Facebook’s knowledge graph. For more advice and pointers on using it, check out this article by Webmeup.
Other Google tools that can help you unearth valuable local information can be found within the AdWords function, and also through Google trends – an online search tool that allows you to see how often a specific keyword, subject or phrase has been entered over a specific period of time, and in different geographic areas.
A simple tip, if you haven’t already done so, is to make sure you are providing a physical address on your website, so Google can index your page and knows where you are. On page SEO is another big factor in how highly you’ll rank for local search, so make use of structured data mark up on your website.
2. Local online listings
If you want to be found in local search, you need to have a Google My business (GMB) listing. Just make sure you choose the right category, as this will affect the searches your business appears in and that you are including all the information that customers will find useful.
To boost your GMB listing, you need to be present on other relevant local listings, such as Yelp, which offers specialist help for businesses to help them get set up quickly. Online reviews are also important for boosting your listing (something we will cover in more detail in Point 7).
Research by MOZ has looked in detail at the various local search ‘ecosystems’ and it makes for some interesting reading. You can view the US results here. One of the key messages coming out of the research, is that in the US, there are four primary sources of data used by all the major search engines. If information about your business is incorrect on any of these four sources, then it can override what the major search engines hold in their own database.
So, the golden rule with any listing is to fill in as much information as you can and to remember to keep it updated. This will make it easier for search engines to index and categorize your information, and will subsequently help you get seen by more potential customers. Plus, don’t forget to include lots of pictures! Images are a key driver online and their importance is growing all the time.
3. Local online advertising
Thinking that ‘one size fits all’ can be a very costly mistake. Tailored messaging is key to marketing nowadays and if you take the time to get it right, you’ll reap the rewards.
For example, in different geographical areas there will be clear differences in how people speak and refer to things. This will then spill over into how they search online.
You need to put some effort into finding out what the differences are that are going to be relevant to your product and marketing activity, so you can fine tune your ads accordingly. It takes time and resources to do, but will be worth the effort in the end.
If your ad creative has been adjusted for each local audience you are trying to influence, then you stand a far better chance of achieving a positive result. Use A/B testing, to find out how crucial this local tailoring may be for your particular circumstances.
4. Language and other cultural differences
It’s not just within your ads that you need to consider language and other cultural differences. It is within any copy or content you are sharing.
When pulling together your local marketing plans, it is important to always use the language that is being used by potential customers in the areas you’ll be targeting. State to state differences could mean people dismiss or breeze over your words, simply because they are used to messages being expressed in a different way.
If you are a nationwide brand (or even international) then spend time figuring out these local search differences and adjust your marketing as necessary.
5. Social media
If you are a local business, then make sure your Facebook page reflects this. Equally, if you are a national business that’s marketing locally, then make use of Facebook’s geographic fencing options when you post. Tailor your wording and messages to a specific local audience and then target it at them.
Events are another highly effective way to make local people aware of what’s happening near them. Facebook will sort upcoming events based on where the user is who is looking at your page.
For all your social media channels, check that you are using and optimizing them based on local context – i.e. target your posts, as far as possible, so only relevant posts are seen by people in different locations.
In terms of social ads, you have loads of options that can help you fine tune exactly who sees your ads – even whether they are shown to people who are just visiting an area, or who live there permanently. For example, if you are a gardening service that operates locally, it would make no sense to show your ads to visitors, you only want residents who are most likely to need your services. Restaurants, on the other hand, will want to target both.
Have you checked out Snapchat recently? They are focusing heavily on local marketing opportunities for brands, such as the My Story function. Their local filters are a great tool to get highly targeted information to people within a local area.
6. Website user experience (UX)
It goes without saying that your website needs to be mobile friendly. More and more traffic is now coming via mobile devices and it can benefit your marketing efforts to not only be mobile friendly, but designed specifically for mobile.
Local information will often be searched for on a mobile device – which is essentially a small handheld screen. If the individual cannot quickly and easily what they’re looking for, even holding a top ranking on Google won’t help you!
You need to keep grab and hold onto any web visitors you are driving. That means, once they arrive they need to be met with clear, interesting and helpful design that enables them to find what they want in an instant.
7. Online reviews
Some businesses cringe at the thought of online reviews, but they’re too important to ignore – especially when it comes to local marketing. Burying your head in the sand won’t help either, you need to pay attention and monitor what’s happening.
Study after study confirms that potential clients read reviews and trust them. If you have the option to respond, whether it’s positive or negative, then do so.
If you deal with a complaint, then do so in a professional manner and aim to take the conversation offline and to make it private, as quickly as possible. How you handle complaints will say a lot about you as a company and can actually be more powerful than the original problem.
MOZ has posted lots of information on this topic, including some specialized tips and tricks to help your local SEO efforts.
- Aim to know your local markets inside out. The better you understand them, the more effective you will be.
- Stick to the most important information for each of your local markets – avoid overloading them with waffle or irrelevant messages.
- Always measure, review and analyze any marketing activity you are doing. A/B test where possible and pinpoint what are your strongest tactics.
- Don’t forget to repurpose your existing content as much as possible, for all your different platforms and audiences. That includes tailoring it and targeting it at your local audiences.
- Use automation to help you make it a smooth process all round.