The untapped potential of local digital marketing

By Jaspreet Japper | 20 Aug 2020

Local marketing and footfall to physical stores have declined in recent times, but with some travel restrictions still in place and the public’s hesitation to travel far for non-essential items, ‘near-me’ searches continue to grow.

‘Local businesses’ doesn’t just refer to independents, but also franchises. Local branches can be supported naturally by national brand campaigns, but local digital marketing strategies are more challenging. There tends to be a slower and lesser focus on local tactics such as local SEO, Google My Business (GMB) optimisations, and localised social media. Whilst the positive impact of investing time in local digital marketing has been proven, the challenges faced can prevent the implementations of local strategies. For example, the relationships between global and local teams can lead to disjointed operations, either through a lack of resource available to support stores or a lack of contact between in-house teams and the external agencies that are managing multiple channels.

Irrespective of where the energy comes from, a local initiative is worth investing in. This should consist of five key elements:

  • Listing management: It’s essential to have accurate business information, business hours, location and photos. Any inconsistencies can have a negative impact on SERP results, which can lead to fewer store visits.
  • Local SEO: This closely links to listing management as Google will assess the accuracy of listings when ranking – the better the listing, the better the ranking! However, it’s also important to localise SEO data such as title tags, meta descriptions and URLs.
  • Local landing pages: With the increase of ‘on-the-go’ customers searching via a mobile device, a streamlined local landing page offering business information can go a long way. Along with optimised title tags and meta descriptions, a landing page gives search engines the relevant fields to up rankings and increase visits to store.
  • Review management: Google factors in review counts when assessing local search rankings. The more positive ratings a store has, the greater the improvement to local rankings. Offering a seamless journey to submit a review will also increase user-generated ratings. Negative reviews are essential here too – don’t just ignore them. Instead, respond and turn them into a positive customer experience.
  • Paid search and social media: Brands with multiple locations or markets show that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Whilst the fundamentals of the business’ paid strategies remain, it’s still important to localise them with the correct geographical messaging and targeting for search and social ads.

Implementing the above strategies, and spending time nurturing the elements to ensure they fit with a local audience can help to boost local rankings and, in turn, sales. In the current climate, this is especially pertinent to customers as ‘local’ search continues to increase.