A lot of local businesses have not realized how important online marketing is to their success in today’s economy. The idea that the word “online” means it is only for businesses that operate solely via a website cannot be more wrong.
Local businesses can significantly increase their reach, attracting more customers to their doorsteps than ever before if they can implement the right strategies for marketing online.
How Can Local Businesses Benefit from Online Marketing?
In answering this question, we will try to be as practical as possible. Let’s assume that this question was asked by a cake shop in a particular location, say the San Francisco Bay area.
This business wants to know how they can benefit from online marketing.
The first question is the viability of an online approach to marketing. Will this make any difference?
As of 2010, the San Francisco Bay area had a population of over 7 million persons. Let’s assume that over the past 8 years, it has just grown to a population of about 7.5 million persons. Let’s work with this estimate.
For starters, the U.S has an internet usage of about 76.2% of the population. If we use this same percentage for the bay area, we will have an average of about 5.715 million persons who access the internet from this area. Now, if this area is your target market, how many have you reached so far?
With online marketing, you have millions of prospective customers to reel in. Let’s elaborate some more.
Practically everyone who accesses the internet carries out a search every now and again. In fact, most people carry out searches several times a day. Bearing in mind our estimated internet enabled population, let’s look at another statistic.
Almost half of all searches carried out on Google are local searches. It’s put precisely at about 46%. Assuming everyone who is internet enabled carries out a search every day, we will have over 2.5 million local searches in the bay area alone.
What exactly is Local a Search?
These are searches for localized information. It could be a search for a restaurant, a cake shop, a movie theater etc. all in a particular area. You can learn more here.
About 33.33% of people who do local searches do so just before they step out to visit a store or business place. Many (68%) get directions to the store or business place from their local search.
Using our example – a cake shop in the bay area, there are a few thousand who may need that service in that area at this time. You do not know them but they know they can carry out a search on a search engine to find a couple of cake shops.
Let’s do a search with the search phrase – cake shops in the San Francisco Bay area.
The image above is the top result of the search. Of 26,600 000 results, these three cake businesses took the lead. Let’s assume that 5,000 persons carried out this search with this search phrase or another one. Which of these 26,600 000 million results are they likely to click to visit?
There’s no doubt most if not all of the 5000 users will go with one of the three top results. “The Cake Gallery”, which is the number in the 3-pack has positioned itself to get the lion share of searches for this phrase. Interestingly, it was also ranked first for a slightly different search phrase – cake shops in the bay area. This means it will be getting hundreds of visitors from just these two search phrases.
Though they are local businesses, they have used the internet to sell themselves to their local audience. The same success that “The Cake Gallery” is achieving with its online marketing campaign is replicable. In fact for any business in the Bay Area, Bay Area digital marketing done right can also yield this quality of the result.
How to Get Started
Now that you know that online marketing is indeed critical to your success as a local business owner, how do you get started? There are two ways you can go about it. The easier and quicker way will be to engage the services of an SEO expert to manage the entire process for you.
The other alternative is a DIY approach. This will require a lot more work and understanding of the entire SEO (Search Engine Optimization) process. First, you need to have a presence online. A website is the best option for this.
Note the following as you set up your website:
- Optimize for mobile.
- Include a Site schema.
- Add your contact details.
- Make your contact details clickable for mobile users.
- Signup for Google my business and Bing places for business.
- Register on online business directories including local publications.
These few steps are some of the basic steps you need to take to get started. As you proceed, getting more information on SEO will make it much easier for you to achieve your goal.