Most small business owners are aware they need to focus their marketing efforts towards a local audience. But many of those same business owners may not be aware of the major trends that are shaping local marketing, and instead resort to traditional marketing strategies such as email.
And while email marketing remains a powerful tool, especially when it comes to marketing automation, we still see a very small open rate for emails. Some may even consider a 10% open rate for emails an excellent figure, while a 20% open rate would be sublime. But compare this to SMS, which regularly sees a 90%+ open rate, and you can already see how much more effective SMS marketing can be.
In fact, many online marketers believe mobile may represent the future of marketing. This is because by using text messaging and chatting apps like Whatsapp or Telegram, businesses can interface directly with their customers and communities, which engender stronger loyalty and revenue streams.
This is just one of the strategies that are helping to shape the future of local marketing. We’ll cover SMS and other developing local marketing strategies today.
Ostensibly, local marketing is all about trying to target the communities and areas, especially if you’re a business with a physical location. While it’s true that most advice seems to be global marketing, a lot of that advice is aimed at those who are trying to sell on a global scale, and that doesn’t necessarily align with every business. This becomes especially true when discussing SEO techniques to increase traffic and how it specifically relates to a local business.
Take, for example, a local bakery in Brooklyn. It’s never going to compete in terms of SEO when it comes to the word “Bakery”, obviously, but it can start to compete with “New York Bakery”.
Even better, by going more granular (think something along the lines of “Brooklyn Bakery”) not only do you encounter less SEO competition overall, but you are also more likely to capture those within its area. After all, there’s a concept that 80% of customers only purchase within twenty miles of where they are, so a twenty mile radius is roughly the sweet spot a local business would want to target.
Another important factor to keep in mind is making the buying process as seamless and easy as possible for clients and customers. A slow or awkward buying experience that involves multiple steps isn’t something that customers will forget.
For example, reliable cloud-based invoicing software that comes with crucial features, such as email integration and multiple payment options, can help streamline the customer journey during the checkout process. This is especially the case if a large portion of your business is a service, rather than a physical product that is being sold and shipped.
Why is SMS so effective even though it’s a nearly decades-old technology? Well, it takes the average individual around 90 seconds to answer a text vs. 90 minutes for an email, which is a significantly shorter time and excellent for time-sensitive marketing. It is also equally great for abandoned cart recovery, especially in those moments the customer still remembers the purchase, and of course things such as customer service requests.
Another thing to consider is that SMS marketing is very unique in that it’s not as cold and associated with spam as sometimes emails may be. As such, it works better with customer retention strategies, where a customer may be made to feel as if they are a part of the brand than just purely a customer. It also helps make up for a lack of brick-and-mortar shops that direct-to-consumer businesses often have to deal with.
Finally, with a strong marketing strategy and budget, it will actually help decrease the customer acquisition cost, and somewhat level the playing field with bigger corporations. The truth is, as eCommerce and automation advances, the more SMS can be achieved, and a full online shopping experience may ultimately only be a few years away.
Another thing that many companies forget to do is optimize their local My Google Business page, and oftentimes, don’t even bother claiming one or filling it in. This is a big mistake not only because it can provide at-a-glance information about your business to a potential customer, but it also avoids having somebody maliciously take over the page and Ransome you for it.
Additionally, what’s important to note about MGB optimization is that with their new zero-click searches, it’s become more important than to make sure you show up in the snippets. These two strategies alone can help not only strengthen your keyword standings but also help you grow your local business.
Besides your My Google Business page, look to optimizing your website as well. Just because there’s a focus on the local marketing aspect doesn’t mean that your website should be forgotten.
Even if you have a physical brick-and-mortar store downtown, your website (essentially your virtual store) is more likely to serve as the first direct contact with customers. It’s important to have a website that is professionally designed, and how you pick a dedicated website developer is similarly important. A developer can help make your website easier to navigate with a superior layout and reduce site downtime if you grant them access to the backend.
The most affordable way to hire a developer is to hire a self-employed developer via a freelancing service versus hiring an agency. But carefully look into the applicant’s background and their portfolio of work, especially since a majority of developers working today possess less than five years of experience.
Ultimately, the truth is that marketing as an industry is changing, and it’s going to change quickly. As the market gets saturated with businesses competing for fewer keywords, the next step will be to focus on innovative techniques of approaching old technologies to help level the playing field. This is where SMS comes into play, as it provides a quick and direct connection on a personal level.
Local marketing helps a business feel more connected to a specific region or neighborhood, even if they aren’t necessarily from that area. That being said, be careful how you approach marketing localization if you’re not from the area since this can easily backfire. Nonetheless, SMS and local marketing strategies are here to stay, and they’ll likely be a large portion of what marketing and customer relations are going to look like in the future.