Essential Components of a Local Marketing Stack
Brandon Schmidt | Jun 14, 2019
Most local businesses waste their money on digital campaigns that don’t show results. And they do this while neglecting the areas that really matter to their overall digital marketing health. By focusing on the core elements of a digital marketing stack, you can create a solid foundation for reaching your target audience online.
Here are the most important components for any local digital marketing plan:
- Essential Elements:
- Core Elements:
- Important Elements:
- Luxury Elements:
What is a Local Marketing Stack?
The term “stack” is used in various industries to describe the essential elements that make up the whole. In our context, we are describing a local marketing stack, which are the essential elements that need to be in place for any business trying to conduct local digital marketing.
In this article, we won’t get into the tactics, platforms, or software recommendations – these all depend on your unique situation and goals. Instead, we are looking at the high-level components that you should focus on as a local business.
Components of a Local Digital Marketing Stack
When we talk about marketing your business online, we have to start with your website. Gone are the days when a website was optional; every company big or small needs to have online “home turf” – a place they control online.
A Facebook profile won’t do, because Facebook is making it harder for people to find your business without paying. Plus, what would happen if Facebook deleted your profile, or if/when Facebook shuts down? By owning and maintaining a website, you can control this foundational element of your company’s digital footprint.
Even if you don’t intend to grow your business online or are in a business that doesn’t rely on digital marketing, a website can still improve your company. If a potential business partner or employee searches for your business and you don’t have a website, it can send the wrong message and be hard to overcome.
Essentials for Your Website
- Information about your product/service(s)
- Information about you and your company (including trust symbols)
- For Brick & Mortar Businesses: Address & Hours of Each Location
- For Service Area Businesses: Address (if public), Service Area
- Multiple ways to contact you: Email, Phone, Online Form, Appointment Booking
- Performance: Site Speed, Responsive, and Easy to Update
Google My Business
While your website is the foundation of any company’s digital marketing plan, recent changes by Google has made your Google Business Profile almost as important for local businesses. In some ways, it is becoming the new homepage for local businesses.
For brick & mortar businesses (retail, medical practice, or lawyers/attorneys/other professionals with a physical location), potential customers will use your Google Business Profile to call you, look up hours, get directions, ask & answer questions, and read online reviews.
If you are a service area business, customers will still be interested in your hours, phone number, ask questions, read reviews, and see your service area. In some industries, you can also run Local Service Ads to get in front of more people.
As a local business in 2019, you must claim and constantly improve your Google Business listing if you want to stay competitive online.
Essentials for Your Google Business Profile
- Claim your profile
- Ensure all your info is accurate: Name, Address, Phone, Website, Hours, Map Pin
- Optimize your profile: Photos, Videos, Links, Questions/Answers, and Google Posts
Let’s face it, you can always use more business. When done right, paid digital advertising – whether that’s PPC, video, or social media advertising – can help you generate leads – especially in geo areas you don’t rank as well.
The reason why most businesses view advertising as a cost is that they are not seeing the ROI they want. By fully optimizing your paid advertising channels, you can get to a predictable cost per lead; once you have that figured out, advertising becomes an investment instead of an expense.
Essential Paid Advertising Components
- Start with one platform and a reasonable budget
- Measure everything, so you know can properly credit results
- Identify the best targeting, ad copy, and landing page combination that converts leads
- Calculate the Cost Per Lead
What would happen if all your social media profiles were erased, your paid ads stopped running, and your website was locked out? How would you reach your customers online?
Email marketing is a valuable but often overlooked component to digital marketing. You can use email marketing in a variety of ways – from nurturing leads during a long sales process to customer service and feedback.
Email is especially important if your business relies on referrals or repeat business. Any time you anticipate a dip in upcoming work, you can send an email out with an offer and watch the business roll in.
Essential Email Tasks
- Create an email list of existing and potential customers
- Segment your list so you can provide relevant messages
- Create a plan to email your list on a regular basis
The World Wide Web is a web for a reason; that’s because it relies on connections, or “links,” between sites. Links are crucial for any digital marketing plan for several reasons:
- It’s a way to get traffic from another site to your own
- It’s a way to highlight a connection between organizations
- Google places a high value on links
Not any links will do; you can buy tons of links from foreign or less-than-reputable sources, but they will only do harm to your website. Instead, think of links as mirrors of real-life business connections.
Essential Links for Your Website
- Links from Organizations You Belong To (Chamber of Commerce, Trade Organization)
- Links from Partners (Sister/Parent Company, Manufacturers, Dealers, Other Related Businesses)
- Links from News & Educational Content (Industry Blog Posts, Interviews, News Articles, Press Releases)
- Links from Charity Work (Sponsorships, Scholarships, Donations, Local Charities)
If you are a local business that has existed for more than one month, chances are there are dozens if not hundreds of citations in online directories. Some are well known (Yelp, TravelAdvisor, and Houzz), while others are rarely seen by humans but are important for Google.
Over time, as your business changes, issues like inaccuracies, errors, and duplications can be introduced into these citations. Without intentional citation management, you can be in a situation where your potential customers are calling the wrong phone number or visiting your old location.
Essential Citations Tips
- Ensure accuracy across the internet
- Remove duplicates
- Adjust based on business changes (Acquiring/Merging Business, Change Business Name, Move/Add Location)
As more people rely on online videos for research, information, and entertainment, local businesses are finding video marketing an important and growing component of their digital marketing strategy.
Whether you bring your video marketing in-house or hire an outside video agency, you need to create a video marketing plan that will influence where in the sales cycle your videos fit, the types of videos you make, and the platforms you place them on.
Essentials for Video Marketing
- Strategy for how you will use video marketing
- Identify the types of videos you need
- Plan for what platforms work best for your videos (Website, YouTube, Vimeo, Social Media)
According to one study, 97% of consumers aged 18-34 read online reviews to judge local businesses. Having a poor review profile – or not having enough online – could make the difference between a customer calling you or your competition.
A good reputation management strategy can help your business stand out among the crowd and attract new business. We typically recommend starting by improving your reviews on Google, followed by any industry-specific review platforms (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Avvo).
Your company’s online reputation is more than just reviews; it also includes preparing for negative publicity, attracting positive PR, and managing customer service online. For service area businesses and B2B businesses, you also need to be developing case studies, featured projects, or other client testimonials.
Essentials for Reputation Management
- Create a plan for asking for reviews (May include Automated, In-Person, or Mail)
- Monitor the important review platforms (Google My Business, Facebook, Industry-Specific sites)
- Monitor branded searches for negative publicity or mentions
- For Service Area Businesses & B2B: Create a plan for generating case studies
Organic Social Media
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are powerful places to build community and reach your target audience. Unfortunately, these platforms have constantly been putting obstacles in the way of businesses – so that you need to pay to see any tangible results.
Likes, comments, and shares are good metrics, but they don’t pay the bills. These platforms are good for building a community or to offer customer service, but you will need to treat them as a paid advertising platform to see a good ROI.
We also don’t recommend trying every social media platform out there – new or established. Start with one or two that works best for your company, and only once you have mastered and reach capacity for the platform should you consider branching out to another one.
A few years ago, the latest fad was to have a mobile app built for your company or organization. But the rise of newer web technologies and faster internet access has made websites and progressive web apps (PWAs) a better choice for most small and medium-sized businesses.
Native applications can work for some local businesses, especially those who offer online ordering/reservations/payments and those who already have a dedicated and loyal customer base. For the majority of local businesses, however, you will see better results by investing the resources earmarked for an app into improving your website or other digital marketing channels.
Invest In Digital Marketing that Matters
It can be easy to spend money on digital marketing that will not move the needle. As a local business, you want to invest in marketing that will lead to improved traffic, increased leads, and more business.
Unsure of the impact your digital marketing is having on your company’s bottom line? Contact us today for a discussion on how you can measure and improve your internet marketing efforts.