Local Online Marketing: What It Is and How To Use It

Christy Walters


September 16, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

iphone in person's hand with Google maps onscreen

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In search engine marketing strategies, local search can be a great tool for in-person businesses that want to get more traffic into their physical store or office locations. Local online marketing differs from regular internet marketing because you’re trying to reach people in a specific area. Learning how to optimize your strategies can help you save time and money while still reaching all the right customers.

What Is Local Internet Marketing?

Local internet marketing is a strategy for targeting online advertisements or content to people within a specific town, community, neighborhood, or area. Other names for this practice include local online marketing, location-based marketing, local store marketing, and neighborhood marketing. You can use this strategy through a variety of methods, including on digital platforms, with ad programs, and through content marketing and emails. It may work best for companies with brick-and-mortar locations or service-based businesses like:

  • Banks
  • Barbershops
  • Car dealerships
  • Catering services
  • Construction companies
  • Dentists and orthodontists
  • Doctors
  • Dry cleaners
  • Electricians
  • Hair salons
  • Hardware stores
  • Heating and cooling specialists
  • Hotels
  • Ice cream shops
  • Lawn care companies
  • Lawyers and law firms
  • Libraries
  • Mechanics
  • Nail salons
  • Pest control services
  • Photographers
  • Plumbers
  • Realtors and real estate firms
  • Recreation facilities
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retail stores
  • Roofing companies
  • Spas
  • Therapists
  • Tattoo parlors
  • Wedding venues

For businesses like these, engaging local online marketing can help build a brand’s recognition and reputation. It can also improve lead generation and attract new customers.

Local Online Marketing Platforms

Local online marketing can use both inbound and outbound tactics to reach potential customers, though inbound is more common. Inbound marketing is the strategy of trying to encourage people to come to your business on their own. Methods like content marketing, connecting on social media, and using search engine optimization are examples of this type of marketing. Outbound marketing involves seeking potential customers to solicit them or tell them about your business. There are more offline outbound marketing tactics than online ones, but sending email blasts or cold emails to recruit new clients are outbound marketing strategies that work online.

Platforms where you can engage in these types of local online marketing include:

  • Google Ads: This program is Google’s hub for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Its creation and bidding services let you target local searchers and consumers.
  • Google Maps: This service has features to let your business location appear as a point of interest on the map. Includes other features like contact information and directions to help people connect with your business.
  • Google My Business: This business profile allows you to share an informational listing linked with Google Search and Google Maps to provide more public-facing information about your company and services.
  • Facebook: This social media platform allows you to create a business page to share information, get ratings, collect reviews, and interact with followers.
  • Yelp, Angie’s List, and other related sites: These community-based sites allow people to post reviews and ratings for local businesses and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Your website: Your company’s web presence can share all the important information customers need to know and serve as a place to backlink from your social media marketing and ads.
  • Snapchat: This social media app recently implemented a new “My Places” feature that uses information from TripAdvisor and user recommendations to promote local businesses and events.
  • Instagram: This social media outlet has location tagging features, shop options, and contact options on its business profiles to help you engage a local online community.
  • Email: This option lets you send information directly to your local subscribers to share information, promotions, and other messages.
  • Text messages: Similar to email, a text subscription list allows you to send important information and updates right to customer’s phones.

How To Build a Local Online Marketing Strategy

According to a study by Access Development, 93.2% of consumers travel 20 minutes or less from their home or work to make purchases. The same study found that 87% of those same people travel only 15 minutes or less to make purchases. Engaging in local marketing can help you reach those consumers that live and work within 15 to 20 minutes of your location and capture their business. Use these steps to create your local online marketing strategy:

1. Understand Local SEO

Local SEO helps increase the visibility of small and medium-sized businesses on location pages and online maps or in search results. When people search for city-specific information or add the words “near me” to their queries, this type of SEO becomes important. Local SEO uses some different factors than regular search does in order to determine which results to display. They include:

  • Searcher’s location
  • Name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations for each business
  • Existence of a Google My Business profile
  • Keywords from the Google My Business profile
  • Online reviews
  • Keywords from online reviews
  • Check-ins for a specific location
  • Social media shares
  • Google Maps ratings

If you understand how these factors affect search and learn how to create and update these features on your website, social media, and profiles, you may have an easier time gathering organic search results in your region.

iphone in person's hand with Google maps onscreen

Image via Unsplash by @hjkp

2. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business Profiles are full of helpful information for potential customers and the search engine. Your profile appears to people when they search for your business name or another related query. It includes your contact information, links, ratings, reviews, and hours of operation. To control the information on the profile, you can claim your listing with Google. This feature can help you get more visibility in searches and make it easier for customers to interact with your company.

3. Optimize Your Website

It sounds simple, but optimizing your website can actually help your local online marketing strategy. Including your contact information and directions makes it easier for customers to find you. Other important information to include on your site may be your hours, products or services offered, reviews, your coverage area, and parking information.

When listing contact information, make sure you include all the ways people can get in touch with you, like phone numbers, fax numbers, social media profiles, email addresses, and even an online contact form. Your street address can help people map their routes to your location, and you can make it easier for them by including a Google Maps widget on your site. You may also consider optimizing your entire website for mobile viewing so people can access it on any device.

4. Create Local Content

Content marketing isn’t just for big, national businesses. Writing content that’s valuable for your community can help your company gain visibility. It can also help you become an established community source and voice. When creating local content, keep the customers in mind. What do they like? What questions do they ask? Are there products or services you can tie to local or regional content?

Seasonal stories and events can help you integrate local content into your marketing strategy. If your area has fall festivals, summer parades, or holiday events, you can tie your business to them. You may even consider sponsoring an event or volunteering in order to find another way to make your content relevant to the business and the community. Do you need help writing great local content for your marketing strategy? Start a call with CopyPress to learn how we can help!

5. Promote Customer Reviews

Community reviews that include praise and feedback can help your local online marketing strategy without taking up too much of your time. Developers designed sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor for this kind of communication, but Facebook and Google also have rating and review sections. Additionally, most social media platforms rely on comments to start conversations. If you receive an excellent review from a customer on one of your social media pages or on a designated review platform, be sure to respond and thank them for it. Engagement may encourage others to leave comments, too.

6. Embrace Email Marketing

In local marketing, your email campaign strategy should use a list of local subscribers. People nearby may sign up to receive your emails in person, through an online form, or on the recommendation from a friend. Email newsletters are a great place to share your local content. They’re also helpful for advertising promotions or events for nearby customers.

7. Focus on Your PPC Advertising

PPC advertising is a way to target people across the internet to raise awareness about your company or products. There are plenty of ways you can localize this tool to reach your desired audience. Location-based bid adjustments let advertisers bid higher on keywords in specific areas, like cities, states, or zip codes. If you do this, you can prioritize bidding on keywords for which people already search in your area. This may help you get more conversions.

Another option is to use ad scheduling, also known as dayparting. This feature lets you control not just where your ads display to users, but also when they appear. This can help you get more clicks during times your store or business is actually open and operating. Ad scheduling can help maximize visibility and help you better control your ad budget so you’re only spending money when you can actually attract paying customers.

8. Run Targeted Ads

Many online ad programs have targeting features. Facebook allows you to select the age, gender, relationship status, languages, and locations of users to control who sees your ads. People enter this information on their profiles willingly, so you’re able to use it to your advantage.

Google Ads also lets you target users by location. This can be helpful if you conduct local business because you can broadcast your ads to people that are nearby. Google Ads targeting may also be helpful for businesses that serve in wider regions, like pest control specialists or plumbers. Using this service, you may be able to blast your advertisements to your entire service area rather than just to those who live and work near your headquarters.

9. Localize Social Media

Most companies use social media for worldwide advertising, but you can localize it too. If you want to target nearby users, consider:

  • Setting a location in your business profile
  • Tagging locations in all of your posts
  • Using local hashtags
  • Sharing your locally created content
  • Taking part in local events and sharing photos and videos
  • Hosting contests with prizes for locals
  • Sharing content from other local businesses and personalities
  • Working with local influencers
  • Joining community groups, sharing information, and interacting with other users

10. Provide Constant Updates

Sometimes your basic information, like hours of operation, may change. Adding new social media profiles or a secondary email address are other things that may interest your local audience. Update your website, social media, and Google My Business profile to reflect any temporary or permanent changes to your business. This helps your customers get the most accurate information possible. It also helps your brand look trustworthy if you’re honest about changes in operation.

11. Refine Your Strategies

Monitor the results of your campaign and marketing efforts. Are they helping you get more online and in-store visitors? What about sales? Are some techniques working better than others? Collect data on a regular schedule—weekly, biweekly, or monthly are usually good options—so you can improve your efforts. This may help you get better results faster while spending less money on campaigns.

Local Online Marketing Tips

Use these tips to help you come up with other ways to increase your local online marketing efforts:

Create Landing Pages

Create a custom landing page for every campaign you run. While it may be tempting to use the same landing page every time, it’s a good idea to make each page as specific and targeted as possible, as this can lead to more audience engagement and conversions. Putting in the extra time to customize each campaign helps make your content, website, and business look unique.

Create “Call-Only” Ads

“Call-only” campaigns eliminate the need for a third-party platform, like a website or landing page. You can create these campaigns in programs like Facebook and Google Ads. The call-to-action (CTA) button reads “Call now.” Instead of sending people to another website for more information, it connects them right to your phone lines. This feature can help advertisers who want to connect with prospective customers rather than leave them to do their own research.

Businesses like restaurants, hotels, salons, and repair shops may benefit from using a campaign like this to book reservations and appointments. This is also an option to consider if you have very persuasive sales team members on your staff because their connections with a customer may create more conversions than a landing page.

Include Ad Extensions

Google Ads offers features and formats that can improve visibility, including Ad Extensions. Two of the most popular ones include:

  • Display location extensions: This feature lets you display your business location as part of your PPC ad. Your map location appears in a window along with your ad and the Google Maps options for visiting your website, calling, or getting directions.
  • Promotion extensions: This feature allows you to add time-sensitive offers to your PPC ads. You can select coupons, gift offers, and other types of promotional content to attach to each ad.

Using these extensions may give viewers more information about your company that can lead to conversions and new customers.

Emphasize Time-Sensitive Offers

Though you can use the Google Ad Extensions to provide offers, you can also incorporate them right into your copy. Use persuasive writing and time-sensitive words and phrases like “act now” or “while supplies last” to encourage people to click. You can combine persuasive copy and ad extensions to get double the exposure for promotions and deals.

Try Local Search Ads

Local Search Ads are part of Google Maps that allow you to put an ad directly in the search listings on the web or through the app. The expanded map results include call and directions buttons, making it easier for searchers to connect with you in one click. This is just another of many tools that allow you to reach people where they search for products and services.

Engage in Cross-Promotion

Cross-promotion is when two non-competitive businesses work together to expand their reach and audience. You can collaborate with other local community businesses and organizations to get additional exposure and access a new client base.

For example, a local ice cream shop may partner with a mini golf course for cross-promotion. If players get a hole-in-one, they can bring their scorecard to the ice cream shop for a free small cone. Those same people may enter a drawing at the ice cream shop to win a free game of mini golf.

Promote Your Company Offline

Though it might sound counterintuitive, you can increase your local online marketing by promoting your company offline. Include your website address, email address, or social media handles on all your print materials, such as signs, flyers, and billboards. This allows you to create brand consistency across channels to maximize your reach.

Local online marketing can help you earn more customers in your geographic location. Using targeted strategies and creating an online community may translate to more interest and more sales in the real world.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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