December 18, 2007
Having a website puts your business out there for all the world to see, but any savvy business owner knows that the best customers are going to come from your own city. As expansive as the Internet is, there’s been a marked increase in the use of local search, and even big search engines are branching out into local guides.
Integrate your local offline efforts with your online marketing to help draw in the people around you. Here are eight tips to start you on your way with local marketing.
1) Optimize for local SEO.
Recent studies have shown that people are turning to the Internet rather than the phone book when they need to find something local. Optimize your site by having a page that has a map and driving directions, as well as a physical address. This way, you’ll make it easy for the people doing local search to find you.
2) Promote in-store events via email.
Don’t just leave the promotion of your in-store events to fliers and newspaper ads. If you’ve been collecting customers’ email addresses on your site, such as in a newsletter sign-up, send them an email detailing the upcoming event. You’re guaranteed that your promotional efforts will at least hit those people on the mailing list. Plus, you’re practically inviting them to step off the Web and become in-person customers.
3) Printable coupons on website
Give the people who visit your website a good excuse to come into your store. What better way to do that than offer them a coupon that gives them a discount on the very product that they’re searching for? Printable coupons that are redeemable in-store will encourage site visitors to make an offline visit.
4) Link exchange with other local businesses
If you know of other local businesses that you trust and respect for their work, why not do a link exchange with them? Both of you get an extra link for the search engines, and your customers get a recommended local resource for whatever they may need. It’s best to partner up with businesses that are in a similar industry as you. For example, if you’re a bakery that specializes in wedding cakes, link to local florists and formal wear shops.
5) Include website on all marketing materials.
Business cards, offline ads, brochures: no matter what your other marketing materials are, make certain that your URL is on every single one. A simple URL will be easier for people to remember than a phone number, and they can check out your business via the Internet at their convenience.
6) Collect email addresses at in-store events for a mailing list.
In-store events are great. You’ve got a lot of people coming in, including a lot of people who may not have been to your store or your website before. Even if you’ve got a newsletter or mailing list sign-up on your site, have a sheet at your in-store events where people can leave their email addresses for more information. You’ll be able to add a lot to your mailing list, and hopefully keep some of those people who showed up to the event as repeat customers.
7) Get into local directories and city guides.
Find out if your city has local directories and city guides online and make sure your business gets listed on them. You’ll not only have tourists or new people who’ve moved to town searching those to find businesses they need, but also local residents who’d rather use a city guide as opposed to using a regular search engine and getting results from Anywhere, Michigan, instead of Anywhere, Montana.
8) Get into national local guides.
Major search engines are branching into the local industry. Yahoo! Local, Insiderpages.com and Citysearch.com are just a few. With the sudden upsurge in local search, local guides like this will likely become more and more popular. Make sure your business gets listed in them to ensure that your online marketing fingers are stretching into as many pies as is prudent.
For more information about local marketing online and off, check out this Work.com article: http://www.work.com/marketing-in-your-local-community-497/
Making the most of local marketing isn’t hard. You’ll find just as much local business online as you would in offline marketing efforts, as long as you know what to do and where to look. Integrate your online and offline marketing today to give customers the best chance at finding you.
Author: President and founder of Xeal Inc., Tony D. Baker is Oklahoma’s leading Internet marketing expert with more than 10 years of Internet marketing experience. You can catch Tony on the Xeal Radio Show on Sunday nights on 1170 KFAQ Tulsa. Sign up for a free 25-point website evaluation and pick up crucial tips at Xeal’s free Thursday webinar at http://www.xeal.com/webinar.