Internet Strategy

The Crucial Internet Marketing Piece You Might Be Neglecting

Steve Wolgemuth | Oct 2, 2014

attentive sheep in field
You might be investing a lot in SEO, but is your business getting attention from the locals?

Common Scenario #1
Sarah manages the marketing budget for her family’s HVAC company. She understands the importance of getting leads from the Internet, but has already been through a few website vendors and SEO companies. She’s frustrated with the low volume of traffic coming to the website and she feels that with a budget of $1,500 a month, she should have a stronger presence on Google for her targeted keywords.

What is Sarah really getting for that marketing investment?

Then Sarah’s prayer is answered, or so she thinks. A $100 voucher to use Google AdWords comes in the mail. She sets up the campaign, carefully chooses her keywords to target customers, and waits for her inbox to fill up with new leads. Instead, Sarah is shocked to have gone through her first $100 in two days only to deliver a few leads that didn’t pan out. Internet marketing seems too expensive to her and she’s ready to give up.

Common Scenario #2
Jake is a partner in a 10-person law firm that provides a variety of law services. Jake learned that blogging would help their business and with a little help, he started writing a blog post every week. Jake fancied himself a better than average writer. His posts covered a variety of interesting topics and included information relevant to their many different services. He wrote about legal issues for non-profits, corporate clients, and personal law clients, and even gave some how-to tips along the way. But as time went by, Jake became discouraged. Not many people are reading his posts.

Is this really the best use of his time?

Not easily discouraged, Jake became proactive and did additional research, which led him to the idea of using social media for promoting his blog. He revisited his attempt at advancing the company Facebook page and started posting regularly. He attended a webinar about social media where he examined a case study on Southwest Airlines. It sounded good in theory, but when he tried it, it just didn’t get traction. If felt like another time-waster for him. When even his administrative assistant and his best friends stopped “liking” his posts, he knew he needed to re-evaluate his marketing effectiveness.

The Crucial Piece They Were Missing

Jake and Sarah are implementing the right tactics: SEO, Paid Search, Content Marketing, and Social Media Marketing, but these efforts aren’t bringing in the expected results for the time and money they are investing. Jake’s and Sarah’s stories are not uncommon, and their frustration is nearly universal, at least for businesses who haven’t prioritized the most fundamental principle in marketing strategy: targeting. Targeting is crucial. But why aren’t Sarah and Jake applying this principle?

Targeting has somehow gotten lost when we take it online. We somehow forget that the Internet is by default the world-wide Web. To make it work, you have to go deep in a specific location, reach a specific audience, and offer recognizable value.

Where did Sarah and Jake get off track?

For starters, Sarah was focused on SEO, which is extremely competitive when done on a national or international level. But Sarah didn’t need national exposure. Her customers were within driving distance. Sarah was focused on keyword targeting, not location targeting. She wasn’t focused on local SEO, which is more dissimilar to SEO than most people realize. Local SEO interacts with Google’s map database, not just its webpage database. Local search results give businesses the opportunity to appear when searches are done by nearby web users. Sarah’s HVAC business could appear on Google’s “map pack,” and in organic search results which are strongly biased by the proximity of the searcher to the business. Sarah could dominate the directories that also appear on local search results as well as in the top paid portion. Had Sarah set out to target only local search, she might have selected a vendor that was a talented specialist in this field. And had Sarah known how to geographically target her AdWords, and created landing pages that used conversion strategies that work for local audiences, her $100 might have lasted a week or more and given her some great local leads, right out of the gate.

google map pack vs organic
Optimizing her location would show potential customers that Sarah’s business is local, her phone number, and reviews.

Jake had a similar problem. He jumped into content marketing without having a local strategy in mind, and that’s a recipe for obscurity. Jake’s unique understanding of his local market might establish a few local “personas” in his mind. He already understands what services are important to them, how to communicate with them, and he knows what questions they typically have when talk. Using this knowledge, Jake could choose to be the expert for that specific local audience, then always write from that perspective. Jake’s attempt at writing month after month to everyone about everything related to law interested no one, anywhere, ever because it’s already been done on every other law firm’s website. His attempt to build an audience on social media platforms failed for the same reason. Jake needed to leverage his unique knowledge of his local audience and build a content and communication platform around those insights.

Embrace Your Localness

Targeting is the crucial element in your digital marketing strategy that you’re most likely to forget or have the most trouble implementing, but remember: It is crucial to your success. Failing to create and execute a local marketing strategy will disappoint you and drain your bottom line if your audience is within driving distance from you. You need to leverage your “localness.” Using local strategies and tactics that align with local reach are the crucial Internet marketing pieces you might be neglecting.