2020 has been a tough year for local businesses due to the covid pandemic and lockdowns that followed. Things might not change a lot in 2021. In fact, even when the lockdowns and restrictions are lifted, many people will continue to shop online because they have experienced the convenience and ease of finding and ordering a product or service online. This is why it is important for local businesses to adapt and focus more on digital marketing. Following are some of the most important areas where they need to focus.
This might come as a surprise to many but a recent survey conducted by SBA revealed that 36% of businesses still don't have a website. Having a website is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity. And we are not talking about ANY website. The website needs to be mobile-friendly. Your customers will judge your business based on the user experience they have on your website. It doesn't have to be a fancy one but it must be user-friendly and shouldn't take more than 2 - 3 seconds to load.
The next thing after getting a website is to claim and verify your business listing in Google my Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps (whatever is available in your country). GMB listing is needed to get ranked in Google local search results, while Bing places or Apple Maps will help you rank in Bing and Apple devices. You can also consider Yelp or some other local business website.
The best part about online marketing is that you can track everything. You can see which medium is sending you the highest number of visitors and how many of them are converting into leads or customers. This allows you to invest more time and energy on things that are working for your business. Google Analytics is free and gives you a wealth of information. Also, set up Bing Clarity on your landing pages which is another free tool that gives you an idea of user behavior that helps with conversion optimization.
SEO is all about improving the user experience. We have already discussed the importance of having a mobile friendly and fast loading website. That will also help your SEO. Also create good content while keeping the search intent in mind. Keep it simple and don't get obsessed with things like keyword stuffing or link building (especially if you are doing it with spammy methods like blog comments or PBNs). Build good relationships with other bloggers or site owners and you will naturally get the links.
The easiest and quickest way to start getting leads for your local business is to invest in Ads. Adwords and Facebook Ads are unarguably the two biggest and best platforms. Adwords allow you to show your ad to people who are searching for a product or service in your area. You can't get better targeting options than these. Paid ads can be a very powerful tool for generating leads. So much so that you can even consider a lead flipping business (here's a course that teaches you how to do it).
Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp allows you to connect with potential customers. Many local businesses have successfully used WhatsApp to get orders from their customers during the lockdowns in Covid Pandemic. You can share product catalogs, special offers, or announcements through these apps.
Facebook or WhatsApp chatbots allow you to set up automated chats or conversations to answer some frequently asked questions. This will help with customer support or even help with guided selling (where customers will get product recommendations based on their preferences). Chatbots are readily available at a nominal fee and it will save you a lot of time and money.
Content creation is not limited to writing a 500 words blog post twice a month. You must invest some time and resources on video marketing. Keep an eye on popular social media platforms, especially the ones most used by your target audience. Getting active and creating content for platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, or even TikTok can help you reach your target audience without spending big on advertisements.