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Local Online Marketing Strategy Depends on Careful Targeting

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Targeting

Local online marketing is successful when the effort focuses on a combination of careful targeting and cost efficiency.

Consistent effort also helps quite a bit.

Businesses that target locally come in two main flavors. They are either national companies with a local presence or local companies with of course just a local presence.

National companies have the benefit of expertise and their own cost efficiency. They often have dedicated marketing departments with people who do nothing but online marketing at both a national and local level. Doing that kind of work all day long gives these people a keen sense of what works and what doesn’t. They learn how to spend their money wisely.

Local companies have the benefit of knowing their markets. But they often lack the online expertise of national companies because of small staff sizes. Some of them are lucky to have even one dedicated marketing person who usually does both online and offline marketing.

Even smaller local businesses may have no dedicated marketing person at all. The marketing task may fall on a single business owner or an employee who has other things to do. For those people, a local marketing strategy doesn’t have to be difficult if it focuses on three simple goals:

  1. Careful targeting.
  2. Cost efficiency.
  3. Consistent effort.

Careful Local Targeting

Tip: Take full advantage of geographic and demographic targeting in small doses.

Bing, Facebook, Google and other major advertising platforms allow customers to target ad campaigns based on geography and demographics. Advertisers should take full advantage of both capabilities to maximize their return on investment.

Local online targeting

A local campaign can target a geographic area that has the highest probability of attracting customers.

For example, a business in the small city of Warrenton, Virginia, may want to target an area within a 10-mile radius around the city. That’s where the business gets the majority of its customers.

It may want to create a second campaign that targets a nearby city with the potential to attract customers from there.

Likewise, a smart local campaign targets specific demographics groups within those specific geographic areas based on age, income and affinities. All of these targeting factors are available within sophisticated advertising platforms.

Just as a business can have campaigns targeting two demographic areas, it also can have multiple campaigns that target different demographics.

What matters the most is a careful analysis that identifies 1) the people most likely to respond, and 2) of those who respond, the ones most likely to buy.

Local Cost Efficiency

Tip: Track keyword cost per click at least weekly in case new competitors force up the price.

Careful targeting by itself creates cost efficiency with local online marketing. This is especially important with small businesses that have limited money to spend.

They already may be spending money on direct mail, radio, TV, newspapers and other forms of traditional media. They may already be spending time (which is also money) on website maintenance, social media accounts and other forms of low-cost and no-cost marketing.

Maximizing cost efficiency means something just as important as the careful targeting that goes into launching a campaign. It also means tracking the results of that campaign.

Businesses that run local online campaigns should review results at least monthly if not weekly. They should see which geographic and demographic targets are getting the best and worst results and make changes in response to them. Are the targets coming to the store or website? If they are coming, are they also buying?

Campaigners also should keep a close eye on the cost of the keywords they are using in their campaigns. New competition may force up the cost per click and lower the return on investment for those keywords.

Matching the responses and the costs will produce a set of useful insights about the return on investment for the online campaign. Those insights should lead to continuous improvements until multiple campaigns achieve consistently strong results. Failures are simply lessons in how to do it better next time.

Consistent Local Effort

Tip: Run small, brief and frequent campaigns more than large, lengthy and infrequent ones.

Consistently strong results rely in part on consistent effort. Business owners that launch a one-month local campaign and then do nothing else for the rest of the year won’t learn important insights. The skills they learned the first time will deteriorate through underuse, and they will have to learn them again later.

For the sake of continuous learning and improvement, it is better to have a series of small, brief and frequent campaigns than a few large, lengthy and infrequent ones.

It is better to review results frequently and make necessary changes to expand areas of success and shrink the failures. But keep in mind that campaigns should run at least several weeks before they offer enough information for good decisions.

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