For most businesses, acquiring local customers online becomes crucial and that is where digital branding comes into the picture.
A digital branding strategy for a local business helps you specifically target, appeal and serve potential customers in your geographic area only.
A well executed digital strategy can not just help you grow in the face of stiff local competition but in fact help in overcoming the drawbacks of a stagnant market.
In this post, we take you through a step-by-step process to help you effectively reach out to local customers for your store, restaurant or other locally focused business.
Let’s start right away!
1) Build An Engaging Website
The only interface between a local business and their customers is the business website.
Begin by concentrating your efforts on the website content. Consumers expect local businesses to provide products and services that are high in quality.
In order to demonstrate your ability, your content should be convincing. Keeping away from sales-oriented content and instead focussing on educating and adding value to the lives of your target customers should be the priority here.
Your target customers tend to search for a restaurant, store or other local business on their smartphone. Not having a mobile optimized site makes it difficult for them to interact with your site and hamper its local SEO.
Club this with a well defined Call To Action(CTA) button, extensive use of locally relevant images, including your location in the site content and having other local businesses link to you.
A website that stands perfectly on all the above grounds is that of Little River Trading Co.
2) Be Active On Social Media
Since every customer traces a different journey to get in touch with your business, you’ve got to be connected with them on every channel they use. While Linkedin and Twitter work for B2B business, Facebook and Instagram offer impressive platforms for targeting potential customers online for B2C business.
Setting up an account is not the target here. You have to actually engage people on those sites to stay at the top of their mind. Use these platforms to
- Share your blog content
- Latest offers and discounts
- Solving the queries of your customers.
Be sensitive towards the concerns of customers helps in building a brand image of being customer oriented.
One of the best examples that strike my mind when I think of social media engagement is Red Mango’s content soon after the Trump presidential win in the US elections.
3) Colour And Theme Consistency
Although this has never been said explicitly but brands and color are inextricably linked to each other.
Colors have the power to convey meaning and message without words in an instantaneous fashion.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that brands communicate meanings with the language of color and shape.
Due to this reason, the color and theme with which your brand is associated with should be consistent on all channels and platforms. This involves your website theme, your logo, your background score, images and videos on social media and your ad campaign as well.
Here’s how Red Mango keeps his color scheme ‘Red and White’ not just across their site but their social channels as well.
4) Get A Local Business Page
Creating a local business page on Google+ Local Pages, Facebook Pages and Bing Places (or in the Yellow Pages) goes a long way in tapping the local market. For a simple reason, the appearance of these pages in local search makes them highly valuable for customers at the time of need.
For this, make sure you define your business category, city and region accurately to ensure that your business shows up in people’s search results. For example, if you are a California-based donuts business, your category becomes ‘food and cuisine’ with the location being ‘Carlsbad, San Diego, California, United States’.
Other local business pages to focus on are Foursquare, YellowPages.com, Manta, and Yelp profiles. By creating these local pages you’ll be improving your local SEO and helping potential customers find your business.
One of the best examples of an impressive google+ page is that of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino.
5) Monitor And Obtain Constructive Online Reviews
Your reputation is not what people think of your business when you’re around, rather it’s what they say about it when you’re not in the room. Today, consumers have a plethora of platforms and review outlets for leaving behind their reviews. Reviews about your services, your product, your team and your brand. According to a recent Moz survey, customer reviews impact decisions for 67 percent of consumers.
In the case of customer reviews, it’s important to realize that quantity is as important a signal to Google regarding the popularity of your business as is their quality. So go ahead and ask for reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages sites and other directory listings.
Make sure to take action on the bad ones. Bad reviews hamper both public perception and search engines.
You have a choice of managing those inevitable bad reviews on an individual basis and in a cohort fashion.
Check out how Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood’s short, simple response to this Yelp review painted a picture of a happy team of employees committed to customer success:
6) Maintain An Active Blog With Educational Content
Believe it or not, content is the king when it comes to digital branding. Adding an educational sense to it adds a feather to your cap.
To acquire and retain customers, local businesses ought to build a confidence among their target customers by proving their expertise. Pushing out educational content and keeping away from sales-related words goes a long way in achieving this goal in your area of business. It also provides confidence to the buyers that they’ll be happy with the purchase.
For instance, I receive regular newsletters from Spriggs Brothers, the organic lawn care providers, giving an insight into organic fertilization, landscaping and gardening advice based on season, weather, soil type and other local conditions. Their newsletter does a good job demonstrating their expertise while providing timely and helpful tips.
Posting content that’s actually relevant and useful to your audience on both your blog and social media is important.
Doing so gives people more of an incentive to follow and continue or begin interaction with your business.
For example, Williams-Sonoma sells high-quality cookware and regularly updates on cooking recipes, eating and drinking pleasures and much more.
7) Engage With Your Customers Online And In Person
Engaging with your customers is a way to build trust with your target customers while building respect for each other. Communicating with your audience aids in familiarizing them with your business in an active, trustworthy, personal and likable fashion.
With consumers nowadays spending more hours on social media, you should be extensively tapping it for local branding.
Building social media awareness triggers social media activity such as an increase in fans/followers, likes, and check-ins. In turn, the volume of this activity acts as a brand signal to Google that you and your product/service are liked by your target community and hence your business pops up in more and more search results.
Engagement needn’t be long, but regular and frequent. Breaking longer posts into bite-sized pieces and consequently stretching out your content into a larger number of posts could be a good idea.
During Super Bowl XLVIII, Namecheap, which provide services on domain name registration, posted 48 interesting questions related to both the big game and information technology. This helped in keeping their fans interested and related to the company’s niche.
8) Have A Content Rich FAQ Section On Your Website
Just about any local business, then be it lawyer, plastic surgeon or donut bakers, has common questions they often get from their customers.
For instance, before you actually visit a dentist the one question that would pop into your head is “What is a dental implant?”. You may like to find an answer to “What is rhinoplasty?” before seeing your plastic surgeon.
For all these and more, keep a priority to implement rich answers on your website so that when people ask Google these questions, your site shows high up in search results.
Having an impressive chunk of content in the FAQ section also shows your expertise in your respective industry and helps your customers realize that you genuinely care for them.
‘The 3/50 project’ presents an apt example for the FAQ section I’m talking about.
9) Optimize Your Site For Local Search
One of the best ways of pulling in more local customers organically is via having a comprehensive search strategy. Begin with the most crucial information about the products and services you’re into along with your location, blogs, and other relevant keywords.
Next, comes providing sufficient contact methods making it easier for people to contact you for answers to additional questions. Provide a phone number, email, social media accounts, live chat, or a combination of these so that people always have a way to get in touch.
Optimizing your site for local search can be a significant driver of web traffic. Make sure to analyze the quantum of traffic you receive via different devices like desktop, tablets, and mobile and then optimize accordingly.
Here’s an example of the Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems’ website that stands perfectly on all grounds:
In A Nutshell
There are two battles to be fought in marketing. The first one revolves around ‘being found’. This begins by realizing that your brand is a material factor in Google’s search algorithm. As a result, local businesses have a great opportunity to market their brands in their community.
The second battle is “to be chosen”. This battle can be won by having a recognizable brand that appears in search results and is at the top of the mind of your customers.