Targeting a local audience with online advertising used to be difficult, resulting in local businesses being some of the last to embrace digital marketing. However, changes to the way that search engines work over the past decade have made it easier than ever for local businesses to connect with potential customers and clients in their area. In fact, some would even go so far as to say that we’re now in a golden age when it comes to promoting local businesses online.
The main reason for this change is the fact that search engines are now advanced enough to give people results based on their physical location. This means that someone who types in a vague search term like “coffee shop near me” will get results showing which coffee shops are closest to them based on their actual location as determined by the search engine. As you can imagine, this has opened the door to some very powerful online advertising opportunities for local businesses who understand how to do local search engine optimization.
That said, local SEO is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to developing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to promote your local business. You also need to have an understanding of how to design your website, and how to use the power of the Internet to encourage repeat business. Let’s go over these three points, and how they can help you to boost your revenue, and rapidly grow your local business.
Point 1 – Building a Website That Converts
People will tell you a lot of different things about the purpose of your website. Some will say that it should serve as an overview of your brand, while others will tell you that it’s basically one big ad for your business. While this does have some truth to it, the actual purpose of your website is to convert visitors into paying customers and clients.
Your website is the central component of your online sales funnel. It’s where all the traffic you get from social media and SEO ultimately ends up. Much of your offline marketing will even lead people to your website as well. Since most of your leads will end up on your website it must be in a position to convert that traffic into revenue.
While there is no one size fits all model for a local business website, there are some key components and factors that you want to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at how you can best use your website to make your business more profitable.
Your Service And/Or Product Pages
In many cases your services and/or product pages will be the end of your sales funnel where you turn your leads into money. This being the case, they need to have their layout, text, and graphics optimized in every way possible. You also need to pay close attention to the conversion rates on each page so that you can spot any problem areas, and fix them as soon as possible.
Service and product pages also need to have a call to action. Just having a buy button isn’t enough. Tell the reader what to do, and tell them what they get for doing so. You’ll be amazed at how something as simple as having a CTA can increase your conversion rates.
Also be aware that service and product pages are a great place to remind your customers of any sales, discounts, or special offers you have going on. Injecting some scarcity such as limited time offers can also help increase conversions as well since people respond more to the fear of losing something than to the idea of gaining something.
Another thing to keep in mind is the psychology of pricing. When presented with multiple prices, most people will gravitate towards the middle price. You can use this to charge more for your services and products by using lower/higher price points to make your desired fee seem more reasonable by comparison. Just be aware that your business doesn’t exist in a bubble, and people may compare your prices to your competitors as well.
While some local businesses like to use their homepage as a sort of overview of their products and services, a better strategy is to turn it into a short sales page. People who land on your website are looking for something so you might as well show them what they want, and how to get it. This is the best way to lead them deeper into your sales funnel, and ultimately turn them into a customer or client.
The thing to remember here is to go for a “soft-sell” approach. Don’t put prices on the homepage, and make your CTAs low pressure by using text like “Click here to learn more” instead of something like “Hurry before our sale ends!” While there is nothing wrong with having more aggressive sales pages on your site, those should be separate pages designed to receive very specific forms of traffic, such as the traffic from ads.
That said, you can and should mention any special offers, deals, or sales you’re having on your homepage. Since people have short attention spans you have to capture their interest before they click away. This means that your homepage should also lead with a strong headline of some sort, and immediately show visitors that you have what they’re looking for. Presenting them with your USP (unique selling proposition) early on can also be a good idea.
Creating a Blog
Many local businesses these days have a blog on their website. The reason they do this is because blog posts can rank high in the search engines and bring in visitors looking for specific information. The blog post can then provide them with the info they want, while at the same time soft-selling them on the services and products that the business offers.
Another great thing about blogs for local businesses is the fact that they present the company as more “human” while at the same time building up trust and credibility. By giving your visitors quality content with a blog, they will know that you’re an expert in your niche/industry. Since people do business with those they like, know, and trust, this is a great way to ease people into your sales funnel.
Speaking of which, each and every blog post should end with a CTA, otherwise it’s essentially a waste. Other ways to monetize your blog is by having various links within the text to your service/product page, and by having popups that present special offers. You can also use your sidebar area to showcase specific products or services that your readers may be interested in.
Point 2 – Local SEO
Now that we’ve gone over how to build a great local business website, let’s talk about how to get people to it. Local SEO is one of the most powerful ways to get buyer-ready traffic to your website because of how advanced modern search engines are. Even better is the fact that these people are already looking for what you have to offer which makes this one of the best traffic sources in terms of how easy it is to convert into sales.
Local SEO consists of several components that all work together to help you manipulate search engines like Google into ranking your website and its pages high in the search results. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors, and how you can use them as a part of an effective local SEO strategy.
Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
Over the past decade there was a massive increase in the number of people preforming online searches from their mobile devices. In fact, half of all searches are now done on mobile devices instead of desktop computers. This means that most of the people that land on your website via a search engine will likely be doing so on a mobile device, and will be viewing it with a much smaller screen than a traditional computer monitor. If your website isn’t designed to display on these devices, then it will look like garbage, and your visitors will click off immediately.
Google knows this too, that’s why they’ve come up with a new algorithm for their search engine called Mobile First Indexing. Basically if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you get penalized and pushed down the rankings into obscurity. This is why having a mobile friendly website is the single most important SEO factor today.
Making your website mobile friendly is easy in most cases. If you’ve created it recently, then you likely did so on a platform that’s already mobile friendly. If not, doing the conversion shouldn’t be hard, and you can always hire someone to do it for you if you need to. In either case, converting your website to a mobile friendly format will be well worth it since all of your local SEO efforts will be pretty much meaningless if you don’t.
Business Directory Listings
Listing your business with online business directories helps your local SEO in a variety of ways. For one thing, it will give you backlinks to your main site which tells Google that it has more “authority.” This authority will help it get ranked higher in the search results.
Business directory listings also tell Google where your business is located. This allows it to recommend your business for vague search terms like “bakery near me,” or “need wedding cake.” This can help you to bring in traffic that you would have missed out on otherwise.
Also, don’t forget to sign up with Google My Business. This free service ties a lot of SEO related things together such as Google My Maps, and listing basic information about your business such as it’s location, contact info, and hours of operation. It can also list customer reviews and feedback, as well as showing valuable data such as how your customers are finding your website.
While this is the most old fashioned form of SEO, it’s still very important. However, these days on-page SEO is about more than just putting keywords on your website. Factors such as how fast your site loads, its navigation structure, and meta data are all just as important now.
Even so, make sure you at least do the basics such as putting keywords like “dentist Denver CO” on each page to let the search engines know what kind of business you run, and where it is located. Just make sure you’re not over doing it since “keyword stuffing” can get your site penalized by Google. You can also put these keywords into your navigation structure with something like “www.yourbusinessnamehere.com/chicago/bakery” which will also help your rankings.
Lastly, don’t forget to add text to your images. This is something a lot of people overlook but having image descriptions is a powerful form of SEO that can get your images ranked in the image search results. Just make sure that you try and avoid putting stock images on your site that are widely used since Google is starting to crack down on this. A good strategy is to edit your stock photos to make them a bit different, or to do a reverse image search on a stock photo before you buy it to make sure it isn’t all over the net already.
Point 3 – Getting Repeat Business
If you’re a local business, getting new customers and clients should never be the endpoint of your business model. In most cases creating repeat business is the most profitable strategy that you can use to grow your business. This is because the CPA (cost per acquisition) for new customers and clients tends to be much higher than getting existing customers and clients to do business with you again.
Think about it like this: Someone that has done business with you before will already have a certain level of trust and respect for you so you don’t have to build up that relationship all over again. This is why it’s so much easier to market to existing customers and clients rather than trying to obtain new ones. If you hear someone mention making money “on the back end,” this is what they’re talking about.
While making money on the back end is fairly easy, there are some core strategies that you want to keep in mind in order to get the most value out of your existing customer base. Let’s go over these strategies, and how you can use theme to get maximum revenue with minimal effort.
Exclusive Offers and Rewards
A great way to get your clients and customers to buy again is to offer them special discounts, rewards, and other bonuses just for being your customer. Not only does this make them feel like they’re “a part of the tribe,” it also increases the chances of them talking about your business with their friends and family since they can brag about the special treatment they’re getting.