Today, every business owner needs to be a great marketer to succeed in the digital economy. This article shares some useful online marketing tips for local businesses.
First, let’s face it – local is different! Most marketing experts and resources cater to big brands and e-commerce companies. Their strategies often don’t apply to businesses with customer base that is limited by geography. Also, local businesses’ budgets are often stretched thin, therefore being effective and efficient is crucial.
One fundamental thing to remember is: you need to know who your ideal customers are. Once identified, you need to understand their behaviors when it comes to online usage for your marketing to be effective and efficient.
Question 1: Does online marketing work with your ideal customers?
The answer to this question is the deciding factor whether your business should incorporate online marketing strategy at all. Just because the world is evolving into a more digital presence, it doesn’t mean that your ideal customers prefer receiving their information online. Therefore, it is crucial to know the answer to this first question.
The next step is to strategically allocate your online marketing budget by going through this questioning exercise:
Question 2: What time of the day are most of them online?
You should schedule your posts and emails around that time.
Question 3: Which communication tool of choice they prefer the most?
The most commonly used ones are, not in any particular order, Facebook messenger, phone call, email, Whatsapp, Instagram DM, Snapchat, and text. It is also a good practice to set up auto responses in these communication tools that support such feature.
Question 4: What type of device they use most often for online activities?
Make it a priority to optimize your marketing for that device whether it is user interface and/or features and functionalities.
Question 5: What kind of smartphone do they use the most?
Make sure your contents, at the minimum, work well with that operating system.
Now let us take a deep dive into social media marketing:
Question 6: What is the most popular social media platform among your ideal customers?
Is it TikTok, Nextdoor, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube…just to name some?
Question 7: How often do they use them?
Engagement matters the most. For example, if study shows majority of your ideal customers use Pinterest, but Facebook as the runner up have more frequent visitors, then you should gear your social media effort toward Facebook instead of Pinterest.
Question 8: What kind of social media features your ideal customer use the most?
Your marketing contents should be designed to utilize those features. For example, if most of your ideal customers like to engage in Facebook group activities, you should consider having a group and push marketing contents through that feature.
Question 9: Which platform’s Ads do your ideal customers usually click on?
If your marketing strategy includes pay-per-click Ads, you need to know which platform to place your Ads, so they get the most exposure to your ideal customers.
It is a basic marketing principle that it takes on average seven “touches” before a potential customer will internalize and/or act upon your call to action. The last set of questions will help you gain insights on how your ideal customers research local businesses and maximize your return in your online marketing investment:
Question 10: What method do they use for research?
For example, do they Google, use social media for recommendations, visit rating & review sites/apps, ask a friend for referral, read community blogs, or search local directories, etc.?
Question 11: What factors do they put into considerations when evaluating a business?
Is it pricing, location, reputation, quality, availability, or other factors you didn’t even think about yet?
Question 12: What information are they looking for or expect to see the most from local businesses?
Do they want to receive promotions and offers, get the latest update, learn something new, or something else?
Question 13: What is their preferred method of frequent communication from local businesses?
Do they prefer email, text, direct message through Facebook/Instagram, or other?
Question 14: Do they value reviews and how they react to reviews?
Understand which platform they use most to read reviews, whether their purchasing decisions are influenced by 3rd party reviews, will they leave a review for local businesses, and how they react to negative reviews and owners’ response to negative reviews.
Question 15: What types of incentives will most likely make them buy?
This is particularly important for your first-time customers. Do they respond better to % or $ off total price, free trial, sibling discounts, bundling offers, or charity contributions, etc.?
Asking these 15 questions will help you to understand your ideal customers at a much deeper level, so that you can implement online marketing strategies that lead to more customer conversion and at the time reduce waste and costs.
Hulafrog is a hyper local digital marketing site focusing on helping local businesses that cater to kids & families. If you would like more information on how Hulafrog can help your business please reach out to me, Karen Kwong, Managing Editor at Hulafrog the Brunswicks, NJ.