Digital technology and the Internet have made it easier for retail locations to be found by customers. Before broadband technology made the Internet accessible to everyone on the planet, it was hard for consumers to find businesses that had what they needed. Your fingers would get tired walking through the Yellow Pages. You would have to waste precious time burning the telephone lines calling one retailer after another. With the Internet, it became much easier to build a strong local presence.
The Value Of Having A Strong Local Presence: Does Convenience Trump Branding?
If you forgot your wife’s birthday in 2003, you would be in trouble. Today, you can easily search for the nearest retailer that has her favorite perfume in stock. Likewise, today’s retailers can thank the advances in digital marketing for making it easier for customers to find their businesses.
Unfortunately, very few retailers have taken steps to harness the power of the Internet. According to a survey conducted by SurePayroll, only 26% of small businesses have a website.
There are business-owners who still believe that their digital marketing efforts can achieve results even without a website. They believe running social media and email marketing campaigns will be enough to bring their businesses to the forefront of the consumers’ consciousness.
While social media and email marketing strategies do generate positive results, they are more effective when used as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
Instead of using these processes as independent sources of traffic, you would be in a better position to optimize their full power if both social media and email marketing were utilized as channels to drive inbound traffic to a website.
In our previous example, if you did forget your wife’s birthday, what would be the first thing you do? You would probably do a quick Google search. If your wife’s favorite perfume is Chance by Chanel, you can run a Google search query for “stores with chance by chanel near me”.
The search results page will feature a list of websites belonging to physical retailers within your area that currently have Chance by Channel in stock. You click on the website that appears first on the search results page.
If the website has chat support, you can engage the agent and find out the perfume’s availability, price, and ask for discounts or promotions. If not, you could simply look for the store number on the website and contact it from your mobile phone.
A website is an important component of your local marketing strategy because the first thing the consumer would do is run a search query. The user may try to find your business on Facebook or Twitter but that would be more time- consuming.
The same can be said for email marketing. Your newsletter could be lost in the pile of emails consumers receive.
Put simply, these processes would make it difficult for you to be top-of-mind. However, as part of a digital marketing strategy, both social media and email marketing can give your website a boost in Google’s search ranking.
According to a study by Google, 76% of consumers who run a search query from their mobile phones will visit the retail location within 24 hours. The best part is 28% of those visits have resulted in a purchase.
If they run a search query and find your website at or near the top of the results page, they will click on your URL. It does not matter if the consumer has not heard of your brand or store. It is all about convenience: “Who can help me find my need in the fastest possible time?”
Let’s go back to our example one more time. If the results page shows a website of a giant retailer, it will take time for the husband to find a store locator that will show the list of locations within his area. Then, he will have to find out which of these locations have Chance by Channel in stock.
Can these tasks be done from the convenience of a smartphone? Yes, but it is time-consuming. In contrast, if your URL comes out on the results page as one of the retail locations in the area, it would make the husband’s search much easier.
Social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, paid ads, and blogging are great ways to build your brand. However, as far as consumers are concerned, their decisions would be more motivated or influenced by convenience. If you want to fortify your local presence, make sure your business can easily be found online.
How To Develop A Strategy That Will Ensure A Strong Local Presence
In the days before broadband technology, retailers would resort to local area marketing to get their businesses found. Local area marketing strategies included traditional marketing methods such as flyer distributions, installation of posters and streamers, and setting up POP or Point-of-Purchase materials at the cashier area.
The idea was to target consumers within a radius of 5km from the location of the store. Generally, this was referred to as “within walking distance” of the location. For retailers with larger budgets, local area marketing would likewise include publishing ads in community newsletters, running cross-marketing promotions with related businesses, and getting listed in the Yellow Pages.
Traditional marketing methods were quite expensive. They were also not sustainable. Once the ad had run its course, it was discarded. Given the tools available with digital technology, are traditional marketing methods useless for developing local marketing strategies?
Not quite! The reason is some of these methods have evolved and adapted to conform to the requirements of digital technology and the Internet. In combination with digital marketing techniques, these methods can help your retail location develop a strong local presence.
1. Set Up a Mobile-Responsive Website
Before anything else, you should set up a mobile-responsive website. As we discussed earlier, consumers looking for information will always run an online search first. You should establish your online presence by having an active, mobile-responsive website on the Internet.
If you already have a mobile-responsive website, ask your web developer to run periodic audits. How responsive is it? Your website should be able to accommodate various screen sizes and browsers.
Technology is evolving at light speed. Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops are consistently improving to meet the demands of the consumers.
Your web developer should also check for site speed. Consumers are not very patient. If your website takes time to download, they may abandon the search and go to your competitor.
2. Set Up Your Social Media Business Pages
Social media marketing will help bring you closer to your customers. You can post more information about your products and services, its benefits, and other useful tips.
You don’t have to set up a business page on every social media network. Choose the ones that can support your digital marketing objectives and highlights the strong points of your business.
For example, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are best suited for highly-visual products such as cosmetics, perfumes, fashion apparel, and technology devices.
Make sure your social media business pages have the same information published on your website.
3. Get Listed In Search Engines
Think of Search Engine directories like the Yellow Pages on the Internet. As a matter of fact, the Yellow Pages are on the Internet!
Getting listed in search engine directories will make the consumer’s search activity much easier. All the information they need about your business can be found in the search engine directory.
You can find our recommendations on the best search engine directories to list your business in our article, “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?” Google My Business should be at the top of your list as Google is the biggest search engine on the Internet.
We also recommend adding high-resolution images of your store and its products to your listing. Also, try to generate positive reviews from Yelp. Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm has included favorable reviews from influential sites such as Yelp as a ranking factor.
4. Set Aside a Budget for Paid Ads
Paid ads are a good way to give your website an immediate boost in the search rankings. Anyone who clicks on your ad will land on your website. You can read more about paid ads in our article, “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business”.
The great thing about paid ads is that it will appear in search results which are relevant to your industry or type of business. You can be assured that the people who see your ads will have some interest in your products and services.
5. Get Into Cross-Promotional Arrangements
Cross-promotional arrangements are traditional marketing methods that have stood the test of time. They are cost-effective and gives you the opportunity to present your business to a whole new audience. Make sure it is a non-competing business. The best arrangements are those whereby the products or services are complementary of one another.
For example, if you have a bakery, you can enter into cross-promotional arrangements with a floral shop for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas Day.
You can also run cross-promotional arrangements in Pinterest. Going back to our previous example, you can post content about the floral shop on your “Pin Board”. The floral shop will gladly return the favor and post about your cakes in their own Pin Board.
6. Get Involved with the Local Community
If you want to increase your visibility within the area, make sure your presence is felt. You can do this by getting involved with the local community. Every community strives to be active. There are always events and projects that you can be involved with.
For example, if have a Personal Training business, why not offer free exercise classes in the community every Saturday morning? You could also sponsor community events such as a “Fun Run” or a dance marathon.
By getting involved with your community, you increase awareness about your business and give people first- hand experience of what you can do.
While the Internet can give you avenues and channels to promote your business to wide, far-reaching areas, you can likewise localize your scope within proximity of your retail location.
The important thing is to focus on building a strong local presence. This is your captive market. People who reside or work within the area are potential customers. They may have need of your products or services. You should make it easy for them to find your business.
If you want to learn more about digital marketing and other ways to improve your local presence, please give us a call or drop us an email.