The Advantages of Near-user Marketing
Successful businesses identify which Internet marketing strategies achieve the best results. If your business has physical locations that serve nearby customers, we encourage you to consider Near-user Marketing as the approach that will bring you better results than more generic digital marketing.
Localized businesses choose to adopt Near-user Marketing when they discover the strong, often measurable, advantages that the approach gives them when competing for market share.
The Local Search Advantage
Search results are localized: Google, Bing, and Yahoo are returning locally customized results for more and more searches. Search Google for “electronics” or “photos,” and you will see what we mean. Nothing is more abundant in ecommerce than electronics, and there are hundreds of online photo services vying for your interest. Still, Google serves up a pack of local business results for both searches, because it knows that users overwhelmingly prefer to go a business that is nearby.
Paid search ads can be geographically hyper-targeted: Google AdWords allows businesses to hyper-target their search engine ads. It is possible, and usually very affordable, to target people searching for “financial planning” or “house cleaning” within a specific zip code or a single municipality.
Searches on local Web directories: Business directory sites like SuperPages.com and Yelp are sometimes called “two-box search sites” because they require a keyword in one box and then a location name in the other (for example, “garden supplies” and “Asheville, NC”). About 1 in 10 searches on the Web are conducted on a two-box search site. Businesses that don’t serve customers from physical locations are often excluded from these sites, which means they are missing out on 10% of the overall search market.
Prominence in search results: Opportunities exist for localized businesses to dominate search results pages. Businesses are able to display AdWords ads that include location information and, as a result, consume more screen real estate. These businesses also are able to have one listing appear in the organic results and one listing in the “map pack.” Businesses with a significant amount of customer reviews will benefit from the 5-star rating system, which will make their listing stand out even more.
The Local Website Advantage
Nothing is more important in your business’s Internet marketing than establishing trust. At the end of the day, the main place to establish that trust is on your business’s website.
It is human nature to trust someone who lives down the street more than someone on the other side of the country. The more your website is able to demonstrate how you’re part of the local community, the easier it will be for you to establish trust with prospective customers.
Local trust signals that are often effective on websites include:
- Photos of your building
- A map of your location
- Photos of key employees at the location
- Testimonials from nearby customers
- Organization membership seals (like your local chamber of commerce)
- Logos and information about local charities your business supports
The Local Social Advantage
The Internet is a technology that was designed to make geography irrelevant. It’s as easy to email someone in New Zealand as it is to email your next-door neighbor. But the story is the same in social media as it is in search—people prefer to connect with people physically near them.
On Twitter, for example, most users mostly follow other users who are within 25 miles of them. It’s easy to find active location-focused groups on LinkedIn, and Meetup.com, an online network for organizing real-life get-togethers, has never been more popular. Many real-life events and organizations, such as Ignite Phoenix or Creative Works of Lancaster, would not exist today if not for the power of social media that allows them to connect with local participants and supporters easily and inexpensively.
The Local Mobile Advantage
Search results on a mobile device have the strongest ties to location. When Google or Yelp knows where a mobile searcher is located, they can offer information (and ads) relevant to that location.
Foursquare and Yelp top the list of popular “geolocation” apps for mobile devices. Apps like UrbanSpoon help users find the perfect restaurant nearby. Such apps don’t stop at providing information—they also make it easy to browse reviews and tips left by actual customers.
Traditional Marketing Multiplier
When implemented to the fullest extent, Near-user Marketing also includes a mix of traditional marketing media and techniques. Advertising through television, radio, billboards, direct mail, and the like, especially when combined with quality P.R., has two profound impacts on the effectiveness of your business’s digital marketing:
- Traditional advertising and P.R. drive search. Today, users watch TV with one or two mobile devices at hand. Seeing an ad that piques their interest easily leads to a Google search.
- Traditional advertising and P.R. improve click-throughs and conversions. Studies show that searchers will skip the first result or two in favor of lower-ranked results based on brand perception. Think about it. If you’re searching for information on migraines and the first result is for stop-migraines-now.com and the second is from WebMD, which would you click? After you’ve clicked, which website would you enter with less suspicion?
Online display advertising has a lot in common with traditional advertising and is becoming a wiser investment for businesses every year, which is why online ad spend is a high-growth area in marketing budgets. Online display ads are the most targetable visual ads a business can run.
Lots of Overlap
The advantages of implementing the Near-user Marketing approach overlap, and that’s a good thing. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter offer highly targetable paid advertising. Paid ads on Google display information from social reviews and other information from Google+. Many Facebook users access the service from their mobile phone, meaning any link they click to an outside site is a disappointment if the page isn’t mobile-friendly. Few things affect your business’s local search rankings more than what is actually on your website, including how it is coded.
Because of this overlap and complexity, the true power of Near-user Marketing comes into play when all of its elements are aligned. Alignment isn’t just a one-time project either. Fluidity is the name of the game when it comes to the Internet, and maintaining alignment within Near-user Marketing requires constant vigilance and adaptability.
With a plan for alignment and processes in place for adapting as time passes, a localized business will clearly see the advantages Near-user Marketing provides.