Many small businesses are still stuck with the impression that the best way to advertise locally is in the paper, on a billboard or with a radio ad. While these media platforms definitely have some value, typically they are not the best use of time or money when it comes to marketing your business.
Now, I know what you are thinking; and yes, while we are certainly a little biased, we also have seen the power of online marketing at driving customers to make purchases.
Blogs and social media networks are low cost marketing platforms that have a potentially wide spread reach. Blogging to the local audience can have a profound impact on driving customers to your website, and eventually your front door.
Check out these 14 ways that your blog can bring local customers to your business:
Content Sharing on Social Media
This is a no-brainer, but pumping out valuable information through your blog gives you content to share on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit and all the other platforms out there. Just think, if you get one customer from any of these networks, it was worth it! So get posting!
Increased Exposure with Facebook Advertising
Facebook’s relatively new feature to boost a post to more viewers has allowed any business to get their message out to a larger audience. However, it is limited in what options you can target. An even better feature is in the Facebook ad creation area. This area allows a business to specifically target viewers based on geographical area, interests, and a host of other options. Blog posts can be promoted on Facebook with a high level of targeting to your potential customer right in your hometown. Jackpot!
More Links and Headlines With Your Local Business Name
Updating your blog with company news using your business name will pump the search engines with more content tagged with your name. You can post titles like Jack’s Plumbing in Brooklyn Is Fully Insured or The Cookie House Awarded “Best Place to Work in Syracuse”. Just like it used to be with traditional media like newspapers, TV and radio, the more your name is out on the Internet, the more visibility you will have. The power of “search” is huge on the local level – upwards of 80% of people go research a product or service online before actually making a purchase – and if your business name is there, your chances of getting picked go “ding-ding-ding!”
Increase In Search Engine Rank
As we know search is king. When people click on your blog post links, whether through social media or from search engines, it tells Google people care what you have to say. This increase in traffic will boost your search rankings and again, make your business more visible to the people that matter.
Ability to Ask Customers to Comment
Many businesses are scared sh*tless of having people posting opinions about their products or services on their blog, Facebook or Twitter. Our team at Good Monster thinks it’s one of the most valuable aspects of social marketing. It gives the people that buy from you a voice, a sense that their opinion matters. Where you might see a bad review, we see an opportunity to show them you care. Where you see bad visibility, we see an opportunity to show the public that you want to give them the best possible product/service. Encourage your readers to comment and start a conversation with them. Give them more than they expect and your business will reap the benefits.
Hashtags Will Bring Searchers and Potentially Readers
“Hail the hashtag!” Hashtags grew in popularity on Twitter, but have now been adopted by virtually every social media network out there. They are a way to search keywords that people tag their posts with. For example if someone wants to find what’s going on in Rochester they can use Facebook’s search bar to search #Rochester. Or if they want to find a lawyer in Sacramento they can type #SacramentoLawyer. This is nice and all, but the real value is to use already popular hash tags to boost visibility. If you share your blog post about Apple computer repair on Twitter with #Apple, you best bet that you are going to get some hits.
Include YouTube Videos To Build A Larger Audience
YouTube is a huge resource for business of all sizes. The big ones can put high-budget videos online promoting their services and make people laugh or cry their way to sharing their content. The small ones can use them to show people why they are the best at what they do and improve search ranks in Google. YouTube videos are search engine gold, especially when the right keywords are included in the title.
Promote Blog-Only Product Specials
Social media makes it easy to drive people to read your blog. Another great way to draw people in is to run contests and/or specials on your blog. For example maybe a restaurant could run a “Freebie-Friday” giveaway in which they give away free meal coupons to the first person that comments on your most recent blog post. Another example is a dry cleaning company could give away a “free dry clean to the fifth person that sends us an email using our email form on our website” – this has two benefits. Number one you are getting people’s email addresses for future targeted marketing, and two you are engaging your customers with kickbacks for being loyal.
Get Affiliated Businesses to Share Your Posts
Most businesses have professional relationships with vendors or neighboring businesses. Make good use of these relationships by offering to help them get their word out on your social media channels, while they do the same for you. Encourage them to share your blog posts, especially if they are relevant for their business. This is a great way to attract customers that might not have been exposed to your business before.
Educate Your Customers
This is one of the easiest ways to keep a local crowd coming back to your blog. If a law firm educates people in Boise, Idaho about changes in city laws and ways to avoid legal trouble, it will set the firm apart from other law firms. The local public will see that they are very knowledgeable in the legal field and will be more likely to think of them when they have a legal issue. Give your customers repeated valuable information and they won’t forget you.
Make Your Posts Sharable on Google+
As you know Google is king when it comes to search engines. About 65-70% of this world uses Google to plan their purchases, map their routes, read their news and find entertainment. Even though when it comes to social media networks, Google’s Google+ is not at the top of the food chain; there is one major benefit to sharing posts (or making your posts sharable) on Google+. Google seems to play favorites in this instance, and websites that are getting a lot of “+1’s” or shares on Google+, are getting ranked higher. Moral of the story, post good blog content and add a “+1” button at the top of your blog.
Use an Email Signup Form to Increase Readers
Making your blog easy to read for your potential customers should be your number 2 goal, behind posting great content. The easier it is for them to see your great content, the more they will read it. This is why having an enticing pitch on your website, as to why they should signup for email updates of your blog, is important. If they receive your blog posts in their email every day or so, and don’t have to actually go to your website on their own, you have a much greater chance of getting them to read your content.
Post and Link to Reviews and Testimonials
About 90% of people trust positive online reviews to guide them on business decisions, as outlined in a study by Dimensional Research. Why not make these reviews more easily visible to your customers to by highlighting them on your blog. To ensure that people don’t think you are making them up, link to the actual review on Google or Yelp. If you cannot link to a testimonial, because it’s written on paper or in an email, take a picture or screenshot and post that on your blog. Whether it’s a testimonial or a review, it proves that you know your stuff and that people trust you.
TV, Print and Radio Ads Cost Way More
Let’s be honest, what would you rather pay for advertising space, 1,000’s of dollars or zero dollars? Blog’s offer a low- to no-cost advertising platform that is more personal and engaging to your potential customers. With a little bit of time and effort, blogging can reach your local audience with a relatively small dent in your ad budget.