Essential Local Online Marketing Strategies for Beginners
Every business has unique marketing requirements, yet there are fundamental tasks that can be applied universally in the context of online marketing strategies. This is a basic blueprint for local online marketing that can be adapted by new businesses or those seeking to introduce digital marketing into their broader promotional strategy.
There are three factors to consider when formulating your local online marketing approach:
Your campaign elements should present a low risk, indicated by an affordable price and high probability of success. This could include creating an online presence, initiating a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign.
Your campaign elements should be scalable, meaning they can grow alongside your business.
Any element of your campaign should be easily terminable so you're not tied into a long-term contract for a service that isn't delivering results.
You should be able to track and measure the performance of your campaign elements, which will allow you to calculate your return on investment (ROI).
Your local online marketing plan should be cost-effective, flexible enough to scale with your business, measurable in terms of performance and easily exitable. The right plan can ensure your business is still thriving after two years.
Low-risk, High ROI Local Online Marketing Plan
Having a website is a must. If you already have one but it's not mobile-friendly or doesn't match up to competitors' sites in terms of resources or aesthetics, it might need remodeling. It's worth shopping around for designers - talk to their previous clients, check out their portfolios and compare prices. Remember: paying more doesn't guarantee better quality. A straight-forward 20-page website shouldn't cost more than $3,000. Make sure you trust the design company - your online presence is a pivotal component of any online marketing strategy and it's crucial that it's fit for purpose.
Once you've chosen a design company, it's time to look for an SEO service. Often, businesses wait until their website is complete before seeking SEO expertise but this could be a costly mistake. An SEO specialist will ensure your site is designed with search engine visibility in mind from the outset, saving you time and money in the long run. Be wary of design companies claiming to be SEO experts - look for a company that places SEO at the core of their offering.
Take care when choosing an SEO provider. For every ten you consider, only one may have real expertise. Vet potential candidates thoroughly - speak to their clients and ask for evidence of successful campaigns. Don't just take their word for it - make sure they can demonstrate competence beyond the sales pitch. Patience will pay dividends here: mastering SEO is central to any local online marketing strategy and promises potentially the highest ROI of all digital components. However, remember that it can take several months for results to materialize if your website or business are new.
Next up is setting up a PPC campaign, preferably using Google AdWords which can drive significant business revenue as well as potentially draining resources if mismanaged due to its complexity. We recommend getting professional help with this aspect of your marketing plan as PPC can (1) generate immediate revenues and (2) facilitate controlled growth while SEO builds momentum.
SEO and PPC should be prioritized components of any local online marketing plan; if they're working well, your business will benefit significantly.
Higher Risk Local Online Marketing Tasks
Once you've mastered search (organic and paid), consider exploring other online marketing channels such as Social Media, ReTargeting, Display Ads (Banner Advertising), and Blogging. All of these can be profitable if managed correctly.
Blogging/Content Marketing - Blogs can expand your website's reach and help establish you as an online authority. If the business owner or senior staff can create the content, so much the better - it will resonate more with audiences. If you choose to outsource this aspect of your plan, ensure the provider can generate high-quality content that offers real value to visitors.
Social Media - Successful social media campaigns are rare but potentially very powerful. But remember, it won't work for everyone. For example, if a pipe bursts in your basement and you need a plumber urgently, you're unlikely to look for one on Twitter; you're more likely to do a quick Google search (hence the importance of SEO or PPC). However, social media does offer a direct communication channel with customers and an opportunity to build a positive online reputation through satisfied customer referrals. We recommend either hiring a specialist social media agency or managing this aspect in-house but ensure that you're posting regularly (at least twice per month).
ReTargeting is best-suited to complex sales cycles and larger businesses with strong brand recognition. For smaller or new businesses, PPC is likely to deliver better ROI so focus on maximizing that before considering ReTargeting.
Display Advertising - Historically, CPM-based banner ads have underperformed so they're unlikely to be profitable unless you're a large company with an established brand. Instead of investing in Display Advertising from the outset, we recommend focusing on Google AdWords where you pay per click rather than per impression and ensure that your campaign is trackable so that ROI can be effectively calculated.
The best approach is to focus initially on proven channels before venturing into uncharted territories. As you become more comfortable with these elements, you will gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn't for your business.
If you don't have an online marketing team in place, SharpNet Solutions can help get your local online marketing campaign off the ground.