- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On August 1, 2012
Online marketing is increasingly important for local businesses.
There is a major shift occurring in how consumers want to receive information from businesses and being aligned to this trend is imperative for the long term success of local businesses.
Some traditional local marketing approaches like local newspapers are becoming ineffective. New digital mechanisms are taking their place. The tide is not likely to reverse. As new generations of consumers grow up, local commerce looks likely to become increasingly digital.
In this post we highlight two fundamental elements of online marketing that every local business should consider: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & email marketing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You may have heard the term “SEO” thrust around and wondered, “What is it?” SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. Search Engine Optimization means your website is “tuned” for search engines, like Google.
“Tuning” your website in this way means your site is more likely to be found by consumers searching for a business like yours. If “Joe’s Flower Shop” in New Brunswick, primes his website using SEO techniques then he has a great chance of coming up near the top of Google’s search results when someone searches for “Flowers New Brunswick”. On the other hand if Joe’s website is not optimized for search engines he may show up far down Google’s search results for “Flowers New Brunswick”, most likely not on the first page of results. Research shows the vast majority of consumers never look further than page one of any Google search results.
Many local businesses have not yet invested in SEO. They are resting on their local reputation. And that may be fine for now. But as old customers move away and new ones move into the area these new customers are not going to know about your reputation within the community. They are increasingly likely to start their search online. If they Google and don’t find you, they may well find another business to frequent and that could be a lifetime customer lost.
Some email marketing has similarities to traditional mail marketing where you get someone’s address, you send her a card every quarter with a $10 off coupon and then they come in and spend. This form of email marketing has proven itself to be more cost effective than traditional mail marketing – but only if executed correctly.
Many shrewd local businesses have begun sending e-newsletters to their customers in addition to promotional emails. These newsletters talk about what’s going on in your business, what specials you’re having and what customers can expect going forward. Customers generally appreciate well-written e-newsletters as they provide valuable content whilst still acting as a soft-sell reminder of what’s available from your business.
Many consumers are very sensitive to unsolicited emails (aka “spam”) so in email marketing it is very important to build your own “opt in” list – where consumers explicitly request to join your mailing list. Some other email best practices include: being clear about your intentions when requesting a consumer’s email address and always having a clearly marked opt-out button on all your emails.
We will be covering these subjects in much more depth in future posts but next we want to give a quick overview of another important area in local online marketing: social media.