For many brick and mortar businesses with a largely local customer base, mastering digital marketing can be difficult. Understanding which of the many options available to broadcast your message and boost brand awareness, and ultimately drive sales, is a dizzying prospect for those who’ve relied primarily on local marketing and advertising in the past. Digital marketing may even seem wasteful at times, from the uphill battle to rank well in search engines to social media engagement often coming from faraway, irrelevant places.
I’ve worked with many franchises on local marketing campaigns with strong digital components. I’ve seen what happens when digital marketing is conducted without regard for your local audience. However, a franchise that relies on in-person business, like a gym, a restaurant or a salon, needs impactful digital marketing to complement existing or new local marketing efforts. Without the digital component, businesses fall behind. Without the local component, they fail to reach their target audience.
At Bluewater, we’ve established some ground rules for integrating local and digital marketing to ensure our clients succeed.
1. Know Where You’re Going:
It may seem obvious, but the first step in digital marketing is to ask yourself why you’re taking your marketing online. Without predefined goals, you won’t be able to measure the success of your efforts. And much of digital marketing is knowing where to find your audience, and when to target them. Finding the best channels for this can be tricky, given how many options are available. Narrowing it down to the ones that will best reach your local audience is critical.
To do this we use some simple tactics to see where people are finding out about your business. First of all, you need an online tool to track the performance of your website and digital campaigns, like Google Analytics. If you’re unsure how to analyze your digital metrics, hire someone who knows — it’s that important. Analytics will show you which of your digital efforts are bearing the most fruit and which are dying on the vine.
Secondly, we always recommend the tried and true method of asking your customers how they found your business. When your customers buy something from you, they may be willing to tell you how they discovered your location. If you’re hearing a lot of “I found you through Google,” then you know your audience is using that search engine actively and it’s worth making an investment to rank higher than your competition. If you hear “Facebook,” you know that channel is working. Customers may not always feel like answering this question, but for the ones that do, the information is invaluable.
2. Take Your Marketing to Mobile:
Your best customers are discovering and shopping on mobile devices — it’s undeniable. Global Web Index reports that 80 percent of Internet users search on their smartphones. And of all smartphone users, 80 percent also use their devices to shop. Add to that the fact that 70 percent of consumers who find a business on their mobile devices act within an hour. It’s staggering how important mobile has become in such a short time. If your website is not optimized for a mobile experience, you will lose business. This means your local site must load quickly and be easy to read and navigate on a small screen.
Mobile is more than just your website, though. If you’re employing digital marketing tactics, you must make sure they all work on mobile devices. For example, if you’re looking to purchase ad space on a relevant website, but that site is not mobile responsive, your ad won’t make the right impression to mobile-savvy customers.