How to Reach a Local Audience Online
Believe it or not, local businesses have an advantage over larger companies when reaching their local area audiences online.
- Ad spend costs less when you are targeting people in smaller geographic areas.
- It’s easier to cut through the noise in a local area, especially when so many other local and small businesses aren’t utilizing the local online tools.
- Larger businesses are focused on targeting huge audiences in multiple geographic areas, which means more money.
- And people are more likely to take note of a small local business, showcasing their authentic self and having the local lifestyle in common. There’s a lot to be said for being a local insider who knows the local area’s ins and outs and quirks.
Here are some ways to help you leverage this advantage.
I’m talking blogging, podcasts, weekly videos, and creating content that aligns with your products and services and putting it on your website, then using it on social media and in your emails.
Content is the key to keeping your website ripe for Google and other web crawlers to find new/fresh data to index and mark you as alive and relevant. It’s also key to building your website’s SEO (search engine optimization).
SEO is a complex beast, so I will oversimplify it for the sake of getting started. If you start with this list below and the other tips from this post, you will see an increase in your website, social and foot traffic over time.
- Create one new piece of content regularly. Whether weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, be consistent. Make content about your products and services, create valuable content directly related to them, and tell stories about your audience, you, your business, the local area, and your products and services.
- Use natural language, don’t worry about keywords just yet, but talk about your products and services by name, use details and mention your local area in content as well. Doing so will help give your content a little SEO boost without being a master at SEO.
- Be consistent and give it some time.
Now the best part, this content will become the core of your social campaigns.
Your social strategy is practically done once you have a content plan. Here’s how:
- Take information from the blog or podcast to create a checklist, bullet points or list graphic (in Canva)
- Create a tips post from the content and share a tip a day or each week
- Pull quotes from the content and create graphic posts
- Make a Facebook or Instagram LIVE from the blog information
- Share your website link to the podcast or blog on social media
Utilizing your content to create multiple social posts can take off the social media posting pressure.
When working with a client, I ensure they have a content creation strategy first. Without it, there is no direction for social media and creating social content becomes a considerable undertaking. When we have a content strategy, the social plan falls right into place and takes less time to make.
Social Media is a distribution channel, not where your business content should live. Social platforms and your content are owned by the platform company, whereas you own your website.
Think of your website as your content hub.
Google My Business
Google My Business is one of my favorite tools; it’s free and gets local businesses so much exposure. Think of Google My Business as today’s yellow pages, but better.
Users can search for products and services in their local area, and your business will appear in the search results through your Google My Business listing, free and without any SEO work.
When potential customers have a question or are looking for products or services, they generally start by “Googling” their problem or request. Your Google My Business listing gets you exposure to those user searches.
76% of global searches are Google searches. I’m sure your customers are in that 76%.
You can include all the information on your business, such as phone number (with a click-to-call option), email, website, hours of operation, directions on Google map, photos, collect reviews, and add posts and offers like you would on social media.
I have a whole video showing you the Google My Business setup process. It’s free and easy.
Social media is one part of your marketing strategy. Remember that you don’t own your audience or content on social media platforms. Social media is a distribution channel for your core content (discussed above) and a way to reach new audiences (and get them to join your email list).
Create a social strategy to help you stay top of mind and show relevance when those users who Google your product or service want to see if you are “still” in business and get more information.
We’ll begin with Instagram, it’s a great place to reach your local audience and has fantastic tools for local businesses. Here are a few features I recommend you begin with:
- Localized hashtags: #YourCity and other hashtags used in your local area. For example, Reno, Nevada, has a #RenoIsRad localized hashtag.
- Connecting with other businesses in your area on Instagram (comment, follow and like)
- Focus your content on local area events, community, images, landmarks, lifestyle and anything that speaks to people in your area
- Utilize Instagram’s geotags – add your city or business’s address to all posts for added reach and exposure
Whether you love or hate it, the platform is STILL the third most visited website in the US and in the world.
And so, I still recommend it as a core piece of your social media marketing strategy.
Facebook is great for hosting groups if you have a paid membership and want to add extra value.
Digital advertising on this platform is effective and cost-friendly. Running ads is an excellent way to get exposure as a business on this platform. Cost per conversion and click-throughs costs much less on Facebook versus Google ads. And you can run your ads on Facebook and Instagram with one tool.
Facebook is still a very relevant marketing channel for businesses, and I highly recommend utilizing the platform. If you want to grow your email list, I recommend using Facebook advertising and incorporating Instagram into your strategy as well.
Social Media Advertising
Oh yes, I am talking about digital ads on the Facebook platform. I know you 1) hate seeing ads in your feed and 2) don’t know where to start.
Be honest – how many times have you seen a product on Instagram and purchased it? Whether you bought it later at the store, on Amazon or Instagram.
You aren’t alone, 44% of people report using Instagram to shop weekly. And 72% of users say they’ve made purchase decisions based on something they saw on Instagram.
As a local business, you have the advantage on your local area customers. You can target your area and spend less on ads to reach them.
And your “ad” doesn’t have to feel like an “ad.” Put some cash behind a popular post that is doing well and pay to have it served to your target person in your geographic service area.
Get More Great Business Growth Ideas with our free resources
Profitable Small Business Group – start your trial membership and get monthly training that goes in-depth into how to put all the marketing strategies and tactics in place.
Constant Contact – My favorite Email Service Provider for small businesses
Canva – the most fun and easy tool to create print and digital graphics, images and assets for your small business.