When it comes to customers living in your area, do you think about reaching them through digital local marketing? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your physical proximity is your ace card. The huge popularity of ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) means even the local crowd wants to find you firstly online.
So, what’s local online marketing, why does it work, and how can you get on that train quickly, efficiently and at little cost?
It’s easy - here’s how...
What is local online marketing?
Once upon a time, a typical IBD got the word out about new stock, shop rides, special deals etc., through a chalkboard out the front, flyers in-store, letterbox marketing, billboard advertisements and maybe even local radio or TV. Some of these might be tried-and-tested offline strategies; others might have lost their shine and ability to convert over the years. Local marketing online just takes that same fundamental concept - business communicating to potential customers - and makes it digital.
What are the benefits of local online marketing?
In a nutshell, local online marketing creates more leads, sales and conversions.
The rise and rise of ‘near me’ and similar search prompts is nothing short of eyebrow-raising. Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas, Lisa Gevelber, put it best when she said using the term “near me” in search is “a pretty strong signal of intent”. If someone is looking for a “bike shop near me”, that certainly indicates they need to find a local store.
Creates more reach
You might be well-established in your local serious cycling community, but what about everyone else? Marketing helps keep you top-of-mind for the busy business commuter, the eco-conscious household grocery buyer, parents teaching kids to cycle, and more. These niche customer target markets might not otherwise be prompted to think of you when they need you. Moreover, each customer is out there talking and interacting with other potential buyers in your immediate area. We all know the power of ‘word of mouth’; happy customers become influential ambassadors who do your marketing for you!
Customers genuinely want to help local businesses, but only if they serve the customers in all the right ways. A local commonality is a great starting point for developing loyalty.
The best business relationships develop through face-to-face interaction. Marketing yourself online and attracting customers into the store helps build stronger relationships. With that comes trust, and with trust comes preferred-supplier status.
How can you quickly, easily and cost-effectively market your IBD?
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to market your IBD without breaking the budget. All you need is some time up your sleeve! But, first, let’s get you listed…
Google My Business Directory
Google My Business is a free listing that will profile your IBD’s key details in a user-friendly format to the right of the screen in Search Engine Results. A listing here not only generates broader reach and local custom, but it helps add credibility to your business.
Yext Business Directory
A partnership between Yext and Yahoo has resulted in a free business directory appearing on over 50 online services, making it straightforward to establish yourself across a wealth of key platforms frequented by your local customers.
The Microsoft owned search engine, Bing, is second only to Google. Although its presence is still growing in some markets, many retailers respect it for delivering quality results, as opposed to high quantity traffic. Don’t dismiss it.
Establish a local presence in any relevant online marketplaces
Online marketplaces such as BikeExchange are big players when it comes to local marketing. Thanks to a combination of paid activity and Search Engine Optimisation expertise, we typically rank high across most paid and organic search local keywords. It’s important to have a presence on such marketplaces so that you are top-in-line for local search results.
Consider local search engine optimisation
What search terms are specific to your area? Find out common keywords in your community and make sure your website leverages these. As mentioned, BikeExchange is well-versed in the craft of SEO and keyword mapping, and we’re happy to offer our advice.
We mentioned word of mouth earlier on. The power of social proofing is unquestionable. Your own anecdotal evidence is probably all the persuasion you need, right? How often would you book a hotel with a half star review rating? How likely are you to make that online purchase if the seller is a consistent five-star vendor? Be sure to seek out local testimonials and champion them. Don’t just leave them on Facebook, Google or other third-party review sites such as TrustPilot. Make a meal of them! Turn them into memes and post them regularly across social media so that followers regularly hear from your happy customers.
Speaking of social media, be sure to encourage local likes and follows, as this is an excellent opportunity to grow in your community. For best results, consider a combination of organic as well as paid activity. Why not photograph every happy local customer and profile their purchase (be sure to have their written permission beforehand, not to mention your GDPR policy in order)? Promote shop rides, offer local giveaways, support community cycling events and charities at large. Be a valuable and valued member of your community, and be sure to promote the fact.
Network with other local businesses
Who else operates in your hood, and how can you help each other? Can you buddy up with travel operators or hotels and provide guests with discounted bike hire? Could you offer free bike quality checks at your local primary school? Does the popular bakery down the road need a bike to make home deliveries, and could it brand you with every pedal it takes? Buddying up with businesses can result in shared social media activity, reciprocated direct email releases, maybe even a combined online paid campaign (double the strength of your spend!). Start searching online and find out who might be amenable to some innovative ideas.
Local online marketing is crucial for your business success. Although there are many ways to get the word out in your community, not everything comes at a financial cost. Start with low-hanging fruit like online listings and testimonials. Once these quick wins are established, then look to invest time into the long, slow but powerful burn of SEO. Then, as these all begin to take effect, reinvest some of your profits into paid local online marketing and benefit from the algorithms provided by those online Goliaths such as social media and search engines.
At every step of the way, feel free to reach out to the team here at BikeExchange. The world’s largest online marketplace for everything bike, we work with over 1600 stores globally. Whether your IBD is in a major world city or a small rural area, local online marketing principles remain the same. This is something we know only too well, and we’re happy to share our knowledge with you. Contact us today for a chat!