The Foundations Of An Effective Local Marketing Strategy

We’re working with a SaaS provider that builds auto dealer websites. As they’re speaking to prospective dealerships, we have been analyzing their prospects’ online marketing presence to help them understand the gaps in their digital marketing strategy and how switching their site platform will assist in maximizing their return on investment (ROI).

How Is A Local Marketing Strategy Different?

Local and digital marketing strategies can and often do overlap, but key to a local strategy are prioritizing some marketing channels over others. Here are some key differences:

Key to developing a marketing strategy is recognizing consumer behavior as they’re searching for or discovering a local business. Google analyzed the behavior and identified the micro-moments when consumers were ready to discover a local business:

Let’s break this down for a few examples of local service companies or retail sites:

Used Cars

  • I want to know – what’s the payment for a $20,000 used car?
  • I want to go – Who are the top-rated used car dealerships around me?
  • I want to do – Can I schedule a test drive online?
  • I want to buy – Who is selling a used Honda Accord near me?

Roofer

  • I want to know – How do I troubleshoot a leak in my ceiling?
  • I want to go – Who are the top-rated roofers around me?
  • I want to do – Can someone come inspect and quote a roof?
  • I want to buy – Who installs both roofs and gutters near me?

Attorney

  • I want to know – How do I start a business in my state?
  • I want to go – Who are the top-rated business attorneys around me?
  • I want to do – Where do I register my business?
  • I want to buy – How much is it to start a business in my state?

Regardless of what industry you’re in, these micro-moments break down into three foundational strategies that every local must be deploying:

Local Citations

A citation refers to any online mention of the name, address, and phone number of a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. They don’t necessarily need to provide a link back to your websites to be valuable.

Citations are a key factor in search engine ranking algorithms. Search engines like Google use citations when evaluating the online authority of a business. They view each citation as a vote of confidence in the legitimacy and relevance of the business.

There are two main types of citations:

  1. Structured Citations: This is where your business information (NAP: Name, Address, Phone number) is provided on a business listing directory like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google Business.
  2. Unstructured Citations: This is where your business information is mentioned, perhaps in passing, on any other site – like a news website, blog, or in social media.

It’s crucial for local businesses to manage their citations to ensure accuracy and consistency, as inconsistencies can negatively impact SEO. This is often referred to as NAP consistency (Name, Address, Phone Number), and it’s one of the fundamental elements for ranking well in local search results. Citations also help Internet users to discover local businesses and can result in direct web traffic referrals.

There are three absolute must-haves in this scenario:

  1. Google Business – Build and maintain a Google Business Page and continue to keep it updated so that you’re actively competing on the Map Pack of SERPs. While they don’t have a significant market share, I’d also recommend registering on Bing Places. One nice feature is synchronizing your Google Business account to your Bing Places account. A critical aspect of managing your business page is responding to every request. Google displays your response percentage and likely utilizes it as a ranking algorithm for the map pack… so even spam requests made through your page MUST be responded to (I know that’s dumb).
  2. Listing Management – Ensure your business is listed on all legitimate and reputable business directories with a consistent name, address, and phone number.
  3. Review Management – Capturing reviews is essential to maximize your visibility on Map Pack results for maps or searches incorporating a geographic component (eg. Attorney near me).
  4. Product Management – If operating a local retail outlet, you can list and synchronize your products and inventory using Pointy. This enables search engine users to search for a product and find it nearby.

Additionally, I’d also recommend maintaining a presence across social media. While you may not be building your own community, having an active social media presence where you are sharing content that boosts your visibility, providing trust indicators like public accolades, certifications, and partnerships, along with being responsive to customer concerns is essential in managing your reputation.

Locally Optimized Website

Having a website that’s optimized for search, showcases your unique value proposition, helps prospects build trust for your organization, and enables conversions is critical to your success. Your website is going to be found and used by prospects in a few different ways:

In order to fulfill each of these scenarios, there are some critical elements needed to optimize your local website:

A beautiful website that incorporates an exceptional user experience along with content that promotes the local presence is critical. There are a ton more features any site can include, but they’re not always critical to a local marketing strategy.

Along with sharing photos of the local region, we build common footers that display the cities that a local business serves along with the additional information above. The goal is to ensure every visitor recognizes the brand’s regional presence and that content is ranked regionally as well as topically.

Off-Site Mentions and Promotions

Ensuring citations are built, reviews are generated, and having a great website still isn’t enough to maximize the potential for acquiring regional customers. You should be deploying off-site marketing strategies as well, including:

Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list of the marketing strategies you can deploy… just a foundation of the minimum that you should be preparing and executing. If you need assistance in developing and executing your local marketing strategy, DK New Media is always here to assist!

Tips For Deploying Your Local Marketing Strategy

We’ve been doing audits for our prospective local marketing clients and wanted to provide some tips:

  1. Ownership – it’s critical that your business owns every aspect of your local search strategy. That doesn’t mean that you execute the strategy, but that your organization has ownership over your domain records, social media pages, directory listings, phone numbers, paid search account, analytics… everything. You can always provide access to these accounts to your agency, but should never defer ownership. Here’s an example: A prospect doesn’t own their paid search account but is unhappy with their agency’s results. Rather than us accessing their current account which has valuable insights, quality score, and reputation… we will have to start fresh. That will cost time and money to get their account up properly.
  2. Expertise – it’s rare, if not impossible, to find an agency that is vendor, medium, and channel agnostic. This means that the agency will implement the strategies they are comfortable with and not necessarily the one that is right for your business and your customers. An example is social media marketing. We see many companies hire social media marketers internal or an external agency only to find that it’s not a medium that is conducive to driving conversions. This means that money may be better spent on other strategies. Getting an omnichannel, vendor-agnostic marketing agency is essential. Many (like DK New Media) will work with your other consultants… but we’ll also hold one another accountable to a unified marketing strategy.
  3. Investment – Marketing is an investment and must be measured that way. Touting engagement, mentions, views, and retweets is fine if you can connect the dots to that activity and actual conversions. Every marketing team member, internal or external, should fully understand your customer journey and the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your business and match their activity to those goals.
  4. Timeline – If your agency sets expectations on your ROI, you may want to seek a new agency. Every client is different, every region is different, every industry is different, and every competitor is different. It’s fine to ask the question, but the response should be that you have work to do and within a few months should be getting a clearer picture of how the strategy is working, what needs to be adjusted, and how that ROI can be attained. Asking an agency for a timeline for an ROI is like asking a Doctor that’s never met you how he’s going to get you healthy. It’s not possible without a lot of effort.
  5. Education – Marketing is a business operation and if you’re a business owner, you should understand its strategies, channels, mediums, and your customers’ personas and behaviors. If you delegate your marketing to an external partner, an expectation should be that they are educating you and your team along the way!

I’d encourage you to contact us if you have doubts as to the effectiveness of your local marketing strategy. We can provide an audit of your current efforts or we can put together and deploy a full strategy for you.

Contact DK New Media

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