Local Area Marketing
Google My Business and Bing Places
Imagine your website as a store on a busy street. Your storefront might be situated on a highly visible commercial street, and potential customers know you’re there. But how do you get them in the door? You promote your business.
You might post a big “Sale” or “Grand Opening” sign, or you might take out advertisements in local newspapers. You might post flyers or hand them out on the strip in front of your business. Website promotion works the same way. Digital marketing tactics are designed to drive customers to your website, get them to stick around, and become customers.
What is digital marketing? There are numerous tactics for marketing your website, all of which can help you generate traffic. Some of the most common include:
- Local Area Marketing on Google and Bing
- Social Media advertising and promotion
- Search Engine advertising
- Retargeting Ads
In this section, our aim is to introduce you to all of these various website promotion tactics. And show you how they can help you drive and sustain traffic to your website.
Local Area Marketing: Getting Found by Customers In the Moment
Your customers use mobile devices to search for businesses in the moment. They’re out with friends and looking for a restaurant for a quick bite. They tap in “restaurants near me,” and voila, several options show up. The ones at the top of the list? The restaurants that have been most successful at local marketing. And that’s why local marketing is so powerful. Customers are in the moment; they have buyer’s intent. The mission of local marketing is to provide the right information at the right time (when people are searching). We’ll show you exactly what you need to do to make your business findable when users are looking for local providers.
Here are a few steps:
Google My Business
Google My Business is a free tool. It allows businesses to claim and manage info about their locations that appear in local search and on Google Maps. This can include a variety of information: Address, phone number, reviews, hours of operation, and photos of the location or products. You should claim your business listing if you haven’t already. In fact, according to Google, consumers rated businesses with accurate and complete Google My Business listings as more reputable.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get started. You just create an account on Google, add your website, verify you’re the owner, and voila! When people search for your business on Google, they find a lot of helpful information that can drive them to your website, get them to visit your physical store, or make them give you a phone call. Another bonus: Google says that a solid business listing can and will improve your ranking in local search results.
Google My Business is a useful tool for local area marketing. For example, let’s say somebody is searching for a hardware store close by. When they search for ‘hardware store near me’ businesses indexed for the keywords ‘hardware store’ and the city they are in will appear. Google will suggest the first few businesses and provide immediate information about them.
Making a good impression on a local consumer is the first chance to get them to visit the store. In the following scenario, there are two local businesses selling the same product. Which business is most likely to get the customer to visit their store? A hardware store with their information provided (address, telephone number, hours, map and website link) or a hardware store with only a name and no other details? The first hardware store proves that it is open for business.
Its updated online presence shows the customer that they are ready for business. The hardware store without any information is less likely to attract a customer. People don’t want to find their hours and telephone number, they want it handed to them. The aim is to always create a positive customer experience, so making information easy to find is extremely important. This is where Google My Business comes in.
This tool allows business owners to verify information like address, telephone number, hours and a website link. This verification proves that the business is open and reputable. This is exactly what the search engine user was looking for. About 73%7 of consumers will lose trust in a brand if the information is inaccurate or missing. Information is verified on the Google Search Console home page. For this reason, Google users can trust that the store they found online is the store they will go to.
Google My Business also gives a business owner the chance to promote their products. Posting photos of products or services can significantly increase exposure to new clientele. Let’s look at another example. Which pizzeria would be more appealing to visit? The first pizzeria has pictures of their pizza, calzones, salads and garlic knots. The second pizzeria doesn’t have any pictures.
As a customer, people tend to want to have a preview of what they’re buying before committing. Businesses with photos had 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and 35% more website clicks than similar businesses without photos8. Pictures help consumers while having the Google Business platform promote products and services for free. Another way to promote a business is through customer reviews. In 2017, 97% of online consumers read reviews for local businesses before visiting them. 85% even stated that they trusted online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend9. Google My Business puts reviews in front of consumers that show an interest in the product or service.
Verification Your Google Listing: Google offers a variety of ways to verify your business for Google My Business, including by email, phone, postcard or through Google Search Console. (Ultimately, it depends on what type of business you are.) Once you’ve claimed and optimised your listing, you’ll need to verify that you are, in fact, the owner of the business for that information to appear. Get started with Google My Business
Bing Places is very similar to Google My Business. And the benefits of using it are the same: Higher rankings in local search, a better user experience, and a free, easy way to make your brand more reputable. You can get set up on Bing Places easily.
First, claim an existing Bing-created listing for your business or create a new one. Then, build and optimise your listing by providing accurate info. Finally, verify your listing. And just like that, you’re all ready to go.
Verification: Bing sends a verification postcard with a unique code (much like Google My Business). You receive the postcard in the mail and then enter the code, along with your business email address online to verify the information is correct and that you’re the rightful owner. Get started with Bing Places
Beyond Bing Places and Google My Business, there are many other local listing services that you can claim and optimise.
Yelp, True Local and Yellow Pages, for example, are popular web directories. These allow you to add information for your business – i.e. phone number, address, and website – and increase the credibility of your brand. These directories are all free to use, and they can also offer a secondary source of traffic for your website.
Online reviews make business owners sweat. All it takes is one irrational customer to tank your ratings. But they’re a very real part of doing business in 2018. People trust online reviews. (In fact, about 85% of consumers trust them as much as a personal friend recommendation, according to Brightlocal.) What can you do to keep your reviews up to date? Here are a few tips:
- Encourage customers to like and review your business – especially customers who’ve had a great experience.
- Respond to negative reviews. Offer a solution and let them know that you care.
- Make customer service easy. A negative review, is often, a last resort for customers – try to connect with them before this happens.
Use coupons and deals on review websites to engage their most active users and draw them into your business.
Source – Brightlocal.com