How Can Local Businesses Effectively Market Their Business Online?

“97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day”

Customers may not always be right, but they are online. If you are small, local business, competing on the internet can be a daunting task, however, that is where your customers need you to be. In 2018, data shows an overwhelming correlation between how online behaviour is reshaping how we as consumers make decisions, with some reports claiming that 85% of our buying decisions begin online. On a micro level, “According to Google data, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.” Thus, there is no doubt your online presence in 2018 has a direct impact on your bottom line. 

In order to help the small and local businesses leverage the online world to grow their consumer base, here are 3 easy ways to ensure your digital strategy is working for you. 

  1. Placement in Local Directories - It seems there are new directories popping up on a daily basis and the reason being - we use them. Due to this demand, new directories are being created to focus on niche communities, for example, Dine TO which is focused on restaurants. Directories allow customers to find information quickly and gives them the ability to compare businesses, whether that be in a certain vertical, in a certain radius from their location, and or by ratings and reviews. Due to directories also having high authority within search engines, they often appear high in search results, which can lead to more visibility. So whether it is Google my Business, Yelp or Foursquare, being on relevant directories can help any business be found when potential clients are looking. 

  2. Use Geography in your Messaging & Keyword Strategy - If you are a small business, chances are you have a specific target audience, and that audience resides in a particular geography. If so, let people know why you are the go to neighbourhood business of sorts. Outright telling people you focus your services to consumers within a certain area, can help sell your services over your competitors. When potential clients can identify with your ideal or specified clientele, they will be more inclined to buy. We are tribal beings by nature, thus, building a sense of community surrounding your business offerings can be a very effective way to market. Moreover, from an online perspective, when people are searching for a business, they are often using a geographical parameter in their search query to narrow the results, for example “yorkville dentist”. Therefore, remember to include where you wish to show up, and include those geographical identifiers in your keyword strategy for more tailored visibility. 

3. Get Reviews. Consider the following statistics, published in a 2017 Consumer Review Survey:

  • 93% of consumers read online reviews for businesses

  • 85% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation

  • 73% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

We have understood the power of referral marketing for decades now. Just the other day I used a service that I heard about for the first time from a friend just raving about it. Luckily, businesses in 2018 now have the ability to do so themselves, by posting positives sentiments from past or current clients using online reviews. The majority of directories and social platforms have the ability for visitors to leave their feedback and rate your services. Thus, when you have a happy client make sure you capture this online to help generate future clients.

Gone are the days that small, local businesses can avoid being online. However, using simple methods and tactics as listed above, can help ensure you are being found when your potential clients are looking.