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Local marketing refers to strategies that can be used to reach customers that live or work near a small business. Targeting customers in neighborhoods or cities close to the location of a business is especially important for brick-and-mortar operations such as restaurants, specialty stores, coffee shops or others that rely heavily on foot traffic for a significant portion of their sales.
Local marketing strategies can be used with an e-commerce website to draw customers into your store and capture the interest of buyers who prefer to shop locally. Marketing software, like other strategies in your marketing plan, can help you to improve the efficiency of your local marketing efforts.
Local search engine optimization, or SEO, can improve your online presence and brand awareness. Appearing on the first search engine results page for queries related to your business's products or services will help draw local traffic to your website and store.
Business profiles and listings
One way to improve your business's search ranking is to complete business profiles for the top search engines. Google is a good place to start with its free Google Business Profile. You can supply essential information about your business, such as its address, phone number and website link and also personalize your profile with images, photos and logos. Once complete, your profile will be accessible on both Google Search and Maps platforms.
Bing Places, also free, allows you to claim or create your business listing similarly. In addition to completing details about your business, such as hours of operation and services offered, you can include photos and request a PIN to prevent unauthorized changes.
A Yahoo listing, managed by Yext, allows you to submit basic details about your business for free. Still, you'll need to pay a subscription to guarantee this information displays on its site (and access advanced listing features).
Yelp for Business, Nextdoor, Apple Maps, Foursquare and the Better Business Bureau are other platforms that allow you to provide details about your business to help customers find you. Specialty listing sites are another option, such as Tripadvisor for businesses in the hospitality sector or Houzz and Angi for home design or repair sectors. Also, remember to create a Facebook business page and add a description of your business, contact info, location and hours of operation.
Website optimization tips
In addition to up-to-date business profiles on third-party sites and search engines, you should create and maintain your own business website. These optimization tips will also help with local SEO:
Include "local" keywords that contain location-specific phrases for your area.
Create content that is relevant to your location and local customers.
Include your business name, address and phone number on every page of your site.
Identify target keywords that your ideal customer will search for, such as a combination of your location and your service, product or brand.
Add helpful pages to your website, answer customers' most common questions and include your target local keywords.
Use a responsive website design that allows your site to display correctly on all devices, including mobile, tablet and desktop.
Include meta tags — snippets of text that describe a page's content — in the HTML code of your website pages.
Email marketing campaigns
Email marketing campaigns can be directed to existing and potential customers in your local area. Here are some tips to get started:
Segment your existing contacts by location to identify the contacts in your area.
Send emails with special coupons, discounts and event details to draw your local contacts to your business.
Offer personalized service to contacts who visit your business.
Regularly connect with contacts through newsletters and other automated email campaigns.
Capture contact information from visitors to your website through pop-ups and other forms.
Direct mail promotions
Local marketing is not just limited to digital strategies. Direct mail marketing — typically costlier than digital communication — can be an incredibly effective way to entice locals to try your business. Materials highlighting your business's promotions, coupons, discounts and events can be used in direct mail. In addition to mailing to local contacts in your database, you may also want to reach out to other residents in your area.
The United States Postal Service can help you promote your small business in the local community. The USPS Every Door Direct Mail tool lets you view mailing routes in your target area and demographic details such as age, income and household size. You can select the routes most aligned with your target audience and use USPS to send direct mail campaigns to the residents along those routes to help spread the word about your business.
Community event participation
Taking part in local community events and organizations, whether through sponsorships or other participation means, is an opportunity to associate a face to your business, meet locals and gain brand recognition.
You can announce your participation through direct mail, email or text marketing to provide the relevant information on when and where the event is taking place. An up-to-date customer relationship management platform, or CRM, can make sending messages to the right contacts easier.
While you'll likely benefit from the event's advertising, which typically lists participating businesses and sponsors, offering branded swag is another great way to increase brand awareness.
Liz Froment, a freelance writer, contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.