There has obviously been a lot of research into “how to market your local business online.” In this post, I will run through my top four things you can do to market your business for free.
First let me say, my recommendations below have been tested and worked. It’s something I do at the beginning for all my client’s businesses in several different sectors.
First of all, there are some simple rules when marketing your local business online.
* You need a well-built website (it has to have optimisation)
* Your website needs to be mobile responsive (customers can quickly view and navigate on any sized screen)
The reason for this is that just like your office, shop, business building, your online business has to have a dedicated home. I have explained in other posts that the only thing you can truly own online and control is an owned website. Everything else is borrowed or paying someone else to have a presence with their rules.
Fact: if your website is not safe or give easy access to what customers are searching. Then no amount of marketing will help you to grow your business online consistently.
P.S. it’s surprising how little you have to implement to beat most of the competition.
So let’s get on with the key areas you can apply to increase your presence online – AND GET FOUND:
#1 Listings of business directories
Have you ever typed something into Google to find a local business? I bet that you found a lot of listings on the first page that turns out to be business directories!
That’s because business directories earn their revenue by promoting other businesses, that’s all they do! Your attention as a business owner is primarily to focus on running your business. All of their marketing and concentration is on getting clients to appear on the first page.
How to get listed:
- Type your business product or service into Google
- Type different ways to ask for your business or service (i.e. puppy trainer, puppy training, puppy obedience training, etc.)
- List all the business directory websites that appear in the first two pages of search
- Go to each website and try and find if you are listed already.
- If you are you will usually find an “already listed?” button where you can sign in and update the information to your liking.
- Go to each website and find how to submit a free listing of your business (usually at the bottom of the page)
- Enter as much detail into the submission as they allow (don’t scrimp, the better your listing, the more likely it will appear and get clicked)
You can also search for like-minded businesses to see if they will allow you a mention on their website. Some sites for instance which are not directly in competition with you.
P.S. Now put this in your diary to check again in about six weeks. You may find that another business listing shows up on the first two pages that you missed before.
#2 local, maps and local business listings
Now we all know that currently, Google is the highest used local search engine. So it pays to utilise every opportunity that they give you. But before you think it’s the only place to be found. You must also use Yahoo and Bing local search = 3 bites at the cherry (I hope that translates).
The image below is what a listing looks like:
How to Market Your Local Business Online - 4 Things To Do Straight AwayClick To Tweet
First of all, you need to have an account I will use Google as an example (the others are much the same to implement).
How to get a Google my business listing:
Navigate to this page https://www.google.com/business/ (if you don’t have a google account it will take you through the process first).
- Complete everything it asks for in detail
- Ensure that you apply for business “verification” (google will send you a text, or postcard to enter a code, this is important as everyone can see you are a real business and not a fake one).
- Put a few entries in your diary/calendar to check your listing every so often.
- Get customers and contacts to give you’re listing a 5* star review (when you have a certain amount of reviews 5+ Google takes notice and gives your listing a bump up).
#3 Email marketing Helps To Market Your Local Business Online
Email marketing is one of my top go-to marketing tools. The reason for this is just like your website you own the data. Whatever software you use the data belongs to you, and you can download it and upload to another software platform whenever you want to.
The best thing about email marketing is that you can build a list of engaged customers. The worst thing about email marketing is that businesses can ruin it by spamming.
In a previous post, I wrote about why you should “never” buy an email data list.
The thing about email marketing is that you can pre-write several emails in advance. Each email can be changed to personalise the content to each person (with a few little tweaks to the master version).
You can manage your email marketing from your email software like Outlook or Mail. But the bigger your list this will suck up time you can least afford.
So my recommendation is to have an account on an email marketing platform. This way you can use your website to capture emails automatically from your site. You can also create automated emails that thank people for giving you their data.4 Things To Do to Market Your Local Business OnlineClick To Tweet
How to start email marketing:
* Open an account on Aweber or MailChimp (two that I have used with success)
* Create a set of emails to send (great headlines are significant for higher email opens)
* Create the content for each email (context and purpose are important at this stage, even telling a story)
* Create a great call to action that is relevant to the content (not just buy my stuff)
* Create a capture form with the software (these are easy to produce with step by step instructions)
*Place the capture form on relevant pages of your site (software provider will give you the info to do this)
* Make sure you give them a reason to give you the data “what’s in it for them.”
Another way to shortcut this is:
* If you have a database of customers or prospects then you can gather the data and upload it to the system.
* Send relevant emails to tell them how you know them
* Send your pre-written email campaign
* Get them to go to your website and sign up for your newsletter etc
You can imagine there is a lot more you can do to grow your business with email marketing (a more detailed blog post for that). Also, there are a lot more technical things you can do to increase your open rates, create personalisation and calls to action. But starting with the areas above will increase your business growth.
#4 Social media To Market Your Local Business Online
You know and have heard a lot about social media marketing unless you are living in the middle of nowhere with no tech.
Social media is here to stay – period! And it will continue to evolve for many years to come. Your job is to manage this engagement and marketing medium to your advantage so that it is a tool to grow your business.
You can do this on your own personal Facebook profile for instance. Please note it is generally against social media platform rules to do this, but many marketers do it anyway. The risk is they can shut you down at any time, and there is nothing you can do about it!.
Social media has to be worked at and can take a lot of time to build momentum. There is no free quick fix! Imagine the amount of effort you put in to create and maintain a relationship with your customers offline. Well, each social media channel takes at least the same amount of effort and time.
My best advice is to find the channel where you can create the closest relationship and stick with it. Then, and only then consider adding another social platform.
Confession: The list of four items are just a few of many things you can do to grow your local business online. However, if you take on too many tasks, you will get overwhelmed and fail! So that’s why I have kept it to the top four areas that can have an effect on your business in the short term.
What is your top tip to Market Your Local Business Online? Leave a comment below; I would love to know.