The New Wave of Marketing
Today, local businesses have an advantage that the Mom n’ Pop shops of yesteryear did not. Thanks to the creation of the internet and the integration of a simple e-commerce system, these local businesses have the ability with local digital marketing to compete with the big box stores down the street, without implementing the same massive budget.
While digital marketing does help level the playing field, if you aren’t aware of what “digital marketing” encompasses and how each part works, you as a local business owner can get lost in the shuffle. Without implementing a digital marketing campaign, you are missing out on some easily accessible opportunities that can help grow your business exponentially.
While there are many important pieces in the digital marketing puzzle, there are 5 key elements you should be aware of to ensure that your marketing campaign will help grow your business without drastically shrinking your bank account.
1. Your Website
First and foremost, having a well-designed, user-friendly website is a huge step into ensuring your businesses success.
Think of your website as a second store front. That home page is the first thing they see and can be the deciding factor in whether or not someone decides to buy your product or service. It is important to be able to determine exactly what kind of business you are from a five-second glance at your home page.
You wouldn’t expect to find a high-quality item in a store that’s run down and dirty. The same concept applies to your website. A clean, well-organized layout can say a lot about your business and first impressions are crucial.
Menus and navigation bars should be simple and clear cut. There is an unofficial rule when it comes to designing and setting up navigation on your site– a customer should be able to find what they are looking for within three clicks from any given page. Having a simple and straightforward navigation system is essential.
Another key factor is having a website that is responsive and also mobile friendly. More often than not, when someone looks at your website, they’ll be looking at it via a smartphone or tablet. Having a website that isn’t mobile friendly can really put a dent in the amount of traffic driven to your site.
In fact, having a mobile-friendly site is more important than ever. On April 21, 2015, Google released a new ranking algorithm, designed to give mobile-friendly pages a boost in Google’s mobile search results.
Finally, implementing a simple e-commerce system can also help your business expand its market to include people across the nation and even across the globe.
All in all, when it comes to websites, a simple, clean, and effective design often wins out.
Another important piece of the puzzle is the creation of content. It is essential to have relevant and up-to-date content pertaining to your business, whether it’s blogs, videos, or images. This content, whatever it may be, should help provide an idea of who you are and also represent your brand’s values and vision. More importantly, when it comes to local businesses, having this kind of content available to potential customers lets them get to know you before any type of transaction occurs. Local businesses have what big-box stores don’t—personality and a sense of community. Presenting yourself through content can help to attract and give them a good idea of who they’re dealing with, something local consumers take into consideration before buying. This also sets the stage for you, your business, and your brand to become easily recognizable, which is important on both a local and national scale.
With content, consistency is key. But there is a difference between consistency and being repetitive. Each piece of content should be original and engaging. Something that can set you apart from competitors and offer the chance for people to engage with. It should also be posted at a pretty consistent rate, to show that you are an active business and are invested in what you do.
With an inconsistent stream of content or a lack of quality, consumers will begin to question the quality of the business itself and also those behind it.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is crucial to the web presence of any business. SEO is essentially what makes your business show up in the top results on Google. By using keywords and phrases related to your content that people often search for, you can get your business in front of more people than you would normally. The better you are when it comes to SEO, the higher you rank. The higher you rank, the more visible you are.
SEO also allows you to target your audience. This is done by targeting keywords, long tail keywords, and specific phrases that are high in search volume and related to your business. These specific words and phrases should be integrated into every step of your website development and the content that lives there. This is by far one of the most advanced digital marketing campaigns your business may require, but it can be the single factor that actually “levels the playing field”. The proper SEO can place your business above all others and with far less of a budget than other digital marketing campaigns.
Over 64% of searches include the terms “near me” or “nearby” by users attempting to find local businesses, according to a survey conducted by Google in 2016.
Ensuring that your SEO is optimized, integrated into every page of your website, and is continually improving through your content happens to support a long standing local business dilemma. This predicament is the difference between your target consumer walking into your shop or the one two doors down
4. Social Media
Before the digital age, a lot of local businesses relied on word of mouth to get their name out there. They took out ads in newspapers and magazines as an attempt to put themselves in front of people. Now, with the advent of social media and its ever-growing number of users, it is quickly replacing the “word of mouth” strategy of the past.
Your social media pages, like your website, are visual representations of who you are. This is where you post that content that proudly displays your brand, values, and vision. It also can be your source of strategically driven traffic to landing pages that bump your overall rankings and SEO.
Social media also allows a form of interaction between business and consumer that hadn’t existed before. Instead of calling a service number, a customer might mention you in a Facebook post or a tweet. This opens up the channel of communication directly to the consumer. It is exactly this personal interaction that can make your customers feel like they are more than just a number. It builds interest, trust, and above all brand loyalty.
Running ads through social media is another huge advantage, especially to local businesses. These ads allow you to target your consumer through things like geographic location, age, and interests. Ads like these allow you to put yourself in front of people who would look for a business like yours, rather than people who may scroll right past it.
This is arguably one of the most important tools for business growth. Analytics can show you how your business is performing in all aspects of digital marketing. Analytics measures your performance on your website, on search engines, and social media, painting an extensive picture of what you need to do to improve. This allows you to then make adjustments where needed, like posting more often to social media or improving your overall website SEO.
By making these adjustments, you can maximize the effectiveness of the campaign and optimize your return on investment (ROI). Analytics show exactly where your money is going and clearly communicates the results of the campaign.
Is Digital Marketing for You?
While separately some of these pieces can seem easy enough to handle, together, it can seem like an overwhelming and time-consuming puzzle, especially when you are just starting out or are simply a small business. Often times, this places you in a situation in which you don’t have the experience or resources to properly execute each of these key factors, causing your digital marketing plan to fall flat and cost more than its worth. On the other hand, your small business or local startup often is starting with a clean slate, therefore, a digital marketing campaign can be properly directed from day one. This is why small or local businesses can benefit the most from digital marketing, placing your store front in or above the ranks of larger businesses and established competitors.
Stone Road Media is here to support businesses like yours grow and prosper. With the help of our team of digital marketing experts, we can craft and execute the perfect campaign for your business. This strategic plan will help your business reach its full potential and start you on the path to continued and long term success.
As local digital marketing experts and residents, we know better than anyone what people in this area are searching for, buying, and talking about. It also helps that we are your target customer, a group of local, highly engaged, and brand loyal consumers. In addition, we have grown up here, are raising families here, and continually invest in the local economy. We are prepared to take your business, the local area, and the local economy to the next level. By placing our services on your doorstep we hope to accomplish both of our goals– grow and exceed your business expectations, and develop a strong local network of successful businesses!
Contact a Stone Road Media expert today to get started!