Most legacy media organizations know that if they want to help their SMB advertisers succeed in a more meaningful way, they need to get a bit more digitally savvy. After all, more and more local business are investing in at least some form of digital marketing to complement their print campaigns.
Want to help your advertisers out with both print and digital? Start by familiarizing yourself with a few of the most effective, commonly used digital marketing tools and channels for local businesses:
Every business wants to be found. In today’s plugged-in world, a big part of that means being discovered easily in online search when a potential customer is looking for a relevant product or service. Appearing toward the top of search engine results matters to local businesses because the top listings in a Google search get 72% of all clicks, and 87% of people who search for a local business call or visit that type of business within 24 hours, according to HubSpot.
Search engines, like Google, look at a variety of factors when deciding which businesses to move to the top of results. SEO is complicated, but to understand it at its basic level, think of it like a point system. Google crawls the web and digs up all the available information on a given business. If Google sees something it likes, the business gets some points. If Google sees something it doesn’t like, the business loses points. Some factors are more important to Google, and therefore worth more points than others.
A few factors Google loves (that will improve a business’s SEO value): when a business’s website gets high traffic and engagement, or when a business is associated with a website with high traffic and engagement; when the content associated with a business is high-quality, fresh, and easy to read; when a business’s web presence is mobile-friendly. A few factors Google frowns upon (that will harm a business’s SEO value): when the content associated with a business is stale, outdated, hard to read, or irrelevant to what the business actually does; when a business is associated with a website that is difficult to navigate, slow to load, or not optimized for mobile.
3 SEO quick tips to share with your advertisers:
- Update regularly. As we mentioned, Google loves fresh, new content. Make sure you are regularly maintaining all aspects of your web presence and providing new, quality content on a regular basis. Thirty-three percent of marketers identify lack of quality content as a major challenge to SEO success, according to Contently.
- SEO stacks. Just getting started with SEO? There are so many tactics you can use to improve your SEO value, and the great news is that they all complement and build upon each other. Start by building a solid foundation, and then invest in more digital marketing tools from there to improve it even more.
- Search engine rankings are ever-changing. SEO is not a one-and-done deal. In other words, if you do get to that coveted first page in Google, you can’t just abandon all your digital marketing efforts and expect to stay there. Your competitors—including other local businesses in your space and online competitors—are also vying for those top spots. SEO must be maintained.
A website is the foundation of a local business’s online presence. A clean, modern, user-friendly site goes a long way to make a good impression and establish credibility with potential customers. Websites generate leads: 40% of consumers age 18-54 said they are more likely to contact a local business if they have a website, a 2016 BrightLocal survey revealed. So it’s not surprising that 51% of small business marketers said they plan to prioritize—and increase their budget for—their websites in 2016, as indicated in an SMB marketing trends report conducted by Leadpages and InfusionSoft.
3 website quick tips to share with your advertisers:
- Responsive design is crucial. Websites that are responsively designed can be easily viewed on mobile, tablet, and desktop. In a world where consumers are using multiple devices throughout the day, responsive design ensures your website will display nicely—and function properly—for all your visitors. But responsive is also important for SEO. Mobile-friendly websites have seen a 10.8% increase in traffic since Google’s Mobile-Friendly algorithm update, according to Duda Website Developers.
- Quality matters. Poor quality content is the #1 website feature that stops consumers using a local business, BrightLocal found. What does quality content mean, exactly? Avoid spelling and grammatical errors, use concise messaging and readable language. Put your contact information, address, and hours of operation front and center. Professional, high-resolution imagery is also a leading indicator of quality and credibility.
- Keep it skimmable. Web users have short attention spans. You want to get your message across as quickly as possible. Cut to the chase quickly. Use active voice and short, poppy sentences. Pare that homepage info down to the essentials, because customers aren’t likely to work their way through a wall of text.
Some people assume that email is ineffective because it’s an older channel, but that’s far from the case! Actually, email marketing is one of the best—and most popular—ways for small businesses to promote themselves and connect with the community.
Local marketers can use newsletters and email campaigns to promote products and special offers, share coupons and discount codes, announce upcoming sales and in-store happenings, offer helpful tips, and keep their business top-of-mind with a subscriber list that has actively opted in to hear from them.
Email marketing is effective for driving engagement, site traffic, and in-store sales. Consumers across all age groups prefer email over any other communication channel when interacting with brands and businesses, according to a recent survey by MarketingSherpa.
3 email marketing quick tips to share with your advertisers:
- Craft catchy subject lines. Thirty-three percent of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone, HubSpot found. Give readers an enticing (and accurate) glimpse of what’s inside, while staying as concise as possible. Avoid filler words!
- Optimize for mobile. This is really important. Fifty-five percent of email is opened on a mobile device, says Email Monday. That’s more than half of your audience, so triple-check to make sure that email is properly formatted for all devices before hitting “send.”
- Address your readers by name. Email resonates with customers because it feels personal and one-on-one. To maximize the effectiveness of your emails, use an email marketing service that automatically personalizes greetings based on the information in your contact list.
You’ve probably heard the term “content is king,” and more and more local business marketers are adopting this mentality. Blogging is a great way for small businesses to give their brand a unique, authentic voice and build trust among their target audience. A strong business blog provides value to its readers, whether in the form of entertainment, education, or both.
Maintaining a blog can be a time investment for a small business owner, but the ROI is hard to argue with: 61% of consumers are more likely to purchase goods from businesses that offer custom content and 52% of consumers say blogs have impacted purchase decisions, according to Get Found Fast. And when done right, blogging is also one of the most effective SEO tactics.
3 blogging quick tips to share with your advertisers:
- Blog at least a few times a week. Daily blogging is 25% more effective than monthly blogging, when it comes to customer acquisition, HubSpot says. We suggest creating an editorial calendar (and sticking to it!) to get in the habit of consistent posting.
- Give it a personal touch. This is your chance to connect with the community on a more personal level and give a face and voice to your brand. At the very least, include your byline—with a photo—on each post. Your readers want to know who’s writing. Make your topics relatable: write about your experience running a local business, tell stories about your customers, recap community events you attended, and showcase the value of your products or services through a real-life lens.
- Pair each post with a call-to-action. Your blog posts provide value to your audience, and CTAs are your chance to ask for something in return. What action do you want to encourage your readers to take? You might end a blog post with a call-to-action to book a service or make a reservation, to request a quote or book a consultation, to subscribe to your email list, to follow you on social media, to try a specific product or service, to take advantage of a special offer, to stop by your store, or whatever action best aligns with your business objectives. Just make sure your CTA is clear and relevant to the post.
Ninety-six percent of SMBs say they use social media in their marketing strategy, according to Blue Corona. Local businesses use channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to interact directly with existing customers and grow their customer base.
Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to boost brand visibility and reach: 47% of adults hear about new brands through Facebook, according to MarketingCharts. And on social platforms, brand discovery drives revenue: Social Media Today says 74% of consumers rely on social media to making a buying decision. After discovering an SMB on Twitter, 38.6% of consumers shopped at the brand’s store or website, and 25.4% made a purchase, a 2016 Research Now study shows.
Local businesses also leverage social platforms to distribute blog posts and other content, drive traffic back to their website, showcase products, and start real-time conversations with members of the community.
3 social media quick tips to share with your advertisers:
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. There are so many great social media networks to choose from, and the networks that make sense for one type of business might not make sense for another. You don’t need to be everywhere. In fact, it’s much more effective to do one or two channels really well than to do three or four channels poorly. When determining which social media channels to invest in, consider your target audience first. Where are they most active? You should also consider the nature of your product or service. For example, if your product and messaging is best showcased visually, Instagram or Pinterest woud likely be your best bet.
- Measure engagement. Keep track of the number of likes, comments, shares, and mentions each of your posts generates. Once you’ve gathered enough data, look for patterns: does engagement spike on certain days of the week or certain times of day? Is there a certain filter, call-to-action, tone of voice, or topic that resonates particularly well with your followers? Do more of what’s working, and nix what isn’t.
- Authenticity rules. Similar to blogging, social media marketing is an opportunity for businesses to show off the “human” side of your brand. Sharing behind-the-scenes content, showcasing the people behind the brand, and using an authentic brand voice are all proven strategies for building an online community and generating sales leads through social media.