When it comes to local marketing, sometimes casting a wide net isn’t the best approach, and instead you need something a little more refined and targeted. Oren Greenberg offers his tips for the best way to hone your targeting to a hyper-local level.
As you’ll no doubt be aware, local targeting is essential for almost every business on some level. Here I’ll be sharing my tips on how to get hyper-local with your targeting, but rather than focusing on SEO, I’ll be looking at broader themes of building a local brand and generating sales locally. Of course, SEO slots nicely into the mix of channels, so I’ve added details on how each tactic benefits SEO where it’s applicable.
I’ll be focusing on two areas:
- Local brand-building
- Local sales and leads
Without further delay, let’s get stuck in…
1. Local Events
Local events can be attended and/or sponsored. I’ll get into sponsorship a little later, so let’s focus on attending, exhibiting, and speaking at events.
Firstly you have the tried-and-tested corporate events. Conferences, seminars, workshops, roadshows, meetups, networking groups, and everything in between. These are most suited to B2B. The challenge here is to have the time and energy to offer your physical presence. These local events present key, grass-root opportunities to make contacts and build brand relationships in the immediate area.
Secondly, let’s think outside the box. Events needn’t relate directly to your industry. They can be “serious”, such as local Chamber of Commerce meetings, or more relaxed events such as art exhibitions, restaurant openings, and the like. Granted, the scope for SEO value is limited in these circumstances, but building local relationships will open future marketing opportunities.
SEO benefit: Backlinks from event listings are a useful side effect. Try to support others to publish roundups and reviews of their event experience. Get yourself featured and linked.
2. Local Influencers and Stakeholders
Influencer marketing isn’t only the domain of big brands with bottomless pockets. There are other ways to use an influencer-focused approach, without paying millions for Kim Kardashian to post a hashtag. Instead, why not build local influencer collaboration into content creation itself?
In practice, the process would look like this:
- Build a database of local influencers who have respect among your audience
- Plan a content calendar with these stakeholders in mind
- Reach out for comments, quotes, and value-add input in varying forms
- Employ a content distribution strategy to achieve maximum reach
This might take the form of curated content or deeper features; in written or visual formats.
For example, let’s say that your business offers ski insurance in the US…
You might wish to interview ten of the most established instructors about their favourite “apres ski” bars in a given resort. For a deeper story, you might interview the mayor about how a specific ski resort has changed over recent times. Both options will have relevant local impact.
SEO benefit: Traffic and engagement are proven ranking factors, and so a bigger reach is likely to yield better search performance. Over time, this will result in more backlinks and will solidify the content’s position. You can also request that contributors promote the content on their own website(s), thus generating a source of high-quality local links.
3. Local Sponsorship
As Claudia Cruz at Moz clearly argues in her comprehensive guide to local sponsorships:
“Local sponsorships remain the most-overlooked and opportunity-rich channel, and they build real local connections for both large brands and small business alike.”
There are many influential areas to focus sponsorship: local nonprofits, events, sports clubs, blogs, websites, and networking groups. Again, you must be comfortable with a somewhat unclear return on investment, as this is primarily a brand-building exercise.
Here are some important tips for local sponsorship:
- Align values and mission; don’t just sponsor for the sake of it
- Acknowledge fellow sponsors and breed a collaborative mindset
- Maintain a local focus in copy and communication with partners
- Sponsorships don’t necessarily need to be monetary
- Be patient with local partners, as they may not be used to having sponsorships
- Consider year-round sponsorship deals with venues
SEO benefit: Primarily, this will give link-building benefits. As part of any sponsorship, try to ensure that the recipient creates dofollow backlinks from their online platforms. As InsideLocal webinar panelists noted:
“Links can add a lot of location relevance. By joining the local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, sponsoring local events and local non-profits, and getting mentioned in the local media, you can boost your relevance for that particular location.”
Local Leads and Sales
4. Hyper-local Google Ads
Done well, Google Ads can be the fastest route to immediate leads and sales, locally or otherwise.
If you’re only SEO-focused, perhaps the PPC team will have this covered. If not, do give them a nudge. If your digital oversight stretches across organic and paid channels, hyper-local Google Ads are worthy of your attention.
There are other ways to target local audiences using Google Ads, already covered by BrightLocal over the years. Here are some articles worthy of further reading:
- Optimizing Local Search – Is Pay-to-Play the Way Forward? (Webinar – recap by Jamie Pitman)
- How to Build Local PPC Campaigns That Really Deliver New Customers (Liam Wade)
- How effective is Google AdWords Express for Local Businesses? (Myles Anderson)
5. Paid Social Media
Targeting sponsored social content to local audiences is remarkably cheap. Unsurprisingly, Facebook leads the way for paid social ads, and even launched a local awareness ad option for businesses.
Regardless of platform, here are some key principles to follow for local social advertising:
- Use local references in the copy
- Use local imagery (the more specific and recognizable the better)
- Consider using local language and/or slang, provided it isn’t disingenuous
It’s important that when using the paid approach to trying to generate local, top-of-funnel leads through things like email or webinar signups, the landing page content matches your local emphasis. Any dislocation in the message will create drop-off from the ad set to the point of conversion.
All of the main social advertising networks allow you to target by geo-location, and by definition this means you can target local audiences easily. If you’re selling products, create a compelling value proposition or special offer for the promotion.
6. Local partnerships
Who else is working within your niche in the local area?
The most obvious case study here is the wedding industry. Any wedding has a relatively predictable set of moving parts: the venue, the caterer, the live band, the photographer, and the DJ. This allows referral partnerships to operate within the ecosystem, with stakeholders passing leads onto each other and operating in partnership.
Can you spot a similar pattern for your niche?
If so, bear the following advice in mind:
- Research potential partners carefully and approach strategically
- Prove yourself and provide value before a referral partnership
- Personal relationships matter!
- Offer meaningful collaboration and support
- Don’t focus narrowly on revenue
- Agree on an ideal referral process, but remain flexible
Don’t think about “referral sources”; it’s a two-way street, so you need to pair up for referral partnerships that create mutually beneficial outcomes.
Local business marketing is always a long game to play, but don’t ignore the quick wins in the meantime.
Building the brand on a local level takes time, and it’s certainly a more manual and organic process. Whether you aim to grow to into national and international markets, or whether you are already there and want to consolidate local markets, this level of brand-building is key.
Paid channels are an immediate route to market, no matter how big or small that market is. Through hyper-local Google Ads and sponsored social, audiences can be targeted in specific locations better than ever. But relationships are still key to generating local sales, from nurturing top-of-funnel contacts to working closely with referral partners in your local area.
Oren Greenberg is a growth marketer and the founder of the Kurve consultancy in London, UK. He helps startups and corporate innovations projects scale using digital channels. He has written for leading marketing blogs and has been featured in the international press.