Local online marketing has proven time and again to offer a better Return On Investment than national campaigns.
But many advertisers still allocate only a relatively small percentage of their overall budget to local marketing - as the Balihoo survey linked to above shows, sometimes as little as 20%. Most advertisers are far happier conducting digital marketing for London or the whole of the UK than they are carrying out online marketing for a small borough or smaller village.
Because local online marketing is difficult and consists of various different parts as illustrated in this local SEO infographic.
It can be a massive drain on your time. And if you're not careful, your finances too. But the rewards - and the return - are there to be taken...
How Local is Local?
Who do you include when you picture your local community? Is it the people you work with? The people you live near to? Play sports with? Socialise with? Worship with?
That's how small the target group you're aiming at can be with local SEO services.
This means not considering whether this is the kind of digital marketing London residents will be persuaded by. It doesn't even mean whether this is the kind of marketing residents of the London Borough of Croydon will be convinced by.
It means targeting people who play football at the weekend in Addington, or people who shop in Crystal Palace (both smaller areas within Croydon).
Because what works for national or global-level marketing is almost never going to be the best solution for every individual location.
How to Optimise Your Local Online Marketing
- National Demographics Versus Local People
What would you say is the big difference between local marketing and global or national marketing?
Location. Location. Location. And community. Whereas at the national or larger scale you'll be looking at demographics, at the local level demographics are only important in how they intersect with the community and its location.
This means targeting is vital.
In local marketing you're dealing with a huge number of smaller, massively diverse communities. All of which, for the greatest return, should have an individual strategy and approach worked out for them.
This is why paid campaigns management is often a good option for larger, multi-location businesses. There simply isn't enough time in the day to produce strategies and stories (see below) for all of the disparate communities you want to market your products or services to.
- You Need the Support of Offline Activity
Word of mouth recommendations go a long way when it comes to local brands. This means that trust is an incredibly vital issue for local companies, and businesses operating in multiple locations.
To offset this, a lot more offline activity is usually required. Lots of big brands support surprisingly small local organisations - school and amateur sports teams, health and fitness events like park marathons, local markets, concerts, parades, even after school clubs or events.
It's great local advertising to be seen to be helping with this sort of community-driven event in and of itself. But, the big advantage arrives when it comes to the online benefits that this sort of event can lead to. These can include:
- Mentions on social media - when an event is being organised, advertised, etc.
- Website links and mentions - on the organiser's website and elsewhere. It's worth asking nicely if an organiser would link to a specific page of your website that you think is relevant.
- Newsletter mentions - by email. Free advertising!
- Local news mentions or views - local reporters may show footage of your brand, or your stall if you have one
You might not even need to be at the event itself to make it happen. But do make sure you follow through on promises, and that you're treating organisers as the valued partners they are. You're there at least in part to make friends, remember!
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- A Business Needs a Compelling Local 'Story'
It's not enough to simply tell a potential customer that you have a base near them.
A well marketed business will have a 'story' behind what they're doing in a person's community. Something beyond "we want to sell you things". There needs to be a sense of engagement with the community - the idea that the business is meeting local peoples' needs by being there.
It's very helpful if you can identify a logical link between your brand and the event you're sponsoring, for example. You can feel free to be pretty creative with this, though. In a world in which fast food companies sponsor sporting events, there'll be a link to be drawn somewhere.
Linking back to the points above, it's always easier to build a sense of story like this by identifying the key linchpins of a community. Do a lot of local people use the local community centre? What events do they have on there? Are there any that might offer a great opportunity for both you and the event organisers to benefit?
By identifying the heart of a community, you give yourself not only opportunities to contribute to it, but also conduct some truly effective local marketing.
That's the real difference between local SEO and national SEO.