The East Village is one of the iconic neighborhoods in New York City that has seen radical transformations over the years. It's hard to imagine now, but if you know any of the local history, few tell the story quite as well as the Umbrella House on Avenue C.
In the late 1980-90s, many buildings in Alphabet City were abandoned. They were occupied by urban squatters, determined to keep some of the neighborhood alive. This house was a home for dozens of people, who lived without utilities and a leaking ceiling. So, the residents got creative and used umbrellas to keep out the elements during repairs. Giuliani tried to kick them out in the mid 90s and lost. Today, the building is a relatively affordable Co-Op oasis among the high-priced gentrified condos, townhouses, and apartments.
The rising rents put a significant added strain on local businesses, which is a key marketing challenge when facing gentrification.
All that diversity creates a unique targeting challenge. With so much choice packed into such a small area, the key to success in the East Village is how to stand out. Your website is key to do that.
For building a digital marketing strategy for your local business, it may differ greatly from what you’ve been used to in the past. Local digital marketing works best when it helps local customers find what, when, and how to get what they need quickly.
Google trends is an invaluable tool when looking at changes in real-time and over time. This graph is an example of how consumer behavior has changed. As you can see, the interest in location, ‘near me’ has jumped 4 fold in google searches over the past 5 years.
However, “near me” alone is not enough.
There has been a 3-fold increase in the desire to find solutions that are not only ‘near me’ but also, ‘near me, now’. Your target audience is looking for solutions that are readily available. Potential customers do not want to wait.
This trend makes it not only important to have your name, address, phone number, and products/services listed, but also your hours of operation. If you just solved for ‘near me’, with the common advice of consistent name, address, and phone, you would have missed those that were looking to see if you were open now.
Maybe a consumer would dig deeper to find your hours, but more likely, he or she would just go to the next listing.
Having multiple contact methods is another way to make it simple for the local searcher to reach you. Having a listing with multiple options makes it easy for the consumer to choose how they wish to interact. Email and phone are reliable standbys, but newer methods like chatbots and texting are also a way to extend your service differentiation before the sale.
This is a somewhat dated study from Google (2017), but the data are still relevant even if the numbers may have changed.
In their study, they found that 7 out of 10 mobile searchers purchased something in store after researching it on their phone. For example, if you are a restaurant owner, these data suggest that 70% of your customers probably read your menu, reviews, etc. before they even stepped foot in your place.
This same study showed that over 90% of those who searched for a solution on their phone followed through with a purchase. This is a powerful signal of purchase intent. Therefore, you want your small business to show up when that decision is being made.
According to Search Engine Journal, there is a positive correlation between images and views on Google My Business Pages. They state that “Having more images in a Google My Business listing correlates positively with receiving more views.”
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that the benefits of local digital marketing are worth your attention.
According to Best Designs, original graphics are the most successful.
“Original graphics make up 40% of all successful visual content that accomplishes marketing goals, but 43% of marketers struggle with the consistent production of captivating visuals.”
Since we are communicating one message, the artwork that supports it must work very hard to support the message. This is where local market know-how can really help. Original photos and images of your business in the East Village interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around the East Village or at your business location.
Every email, no matter how trivial, should have a call to action. This is where all the hard work above pays off. If we omit one, we just wasted resources that could have been spent more cost effectively.
We cover email list building in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. Again, we will just hit the highlights here as it pertains to the East Village. Every neighborhood has summer fairs. While these were severely impacted by COVID, in our post COVID world they should roar back with a vengeance. It would be smart to see if you could piggy-back off one or more of them.
Incentives, deals, free trials, and samples are all great options when developing your calls to action. See if you can partner with your neighbors to create a shared promotion. This way one shopper in the East Village has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
All that diversity creates a unique targeting challenge. Who is the right target to pick? With so much choice packed into such a small area, the key to success in the East Village is how to stand out.
There are three key tools you can use to maximize the effectiveness of your local digital marketing.
80% of all searches in the US are on Google. When you search “_____ near me”, you will be shown what is called the Google Local Pack on your search engine results page (SERP). The Google Local Pack looks something like this:
Google automatically returns the top 3 ranked businesses, which are restaurants in this example. If you click on one of these businesses, you will automatically be shown its GMB page. GMB is a free resource that is easily accessible to any business owner. The process is simple. First, you have to go to the GMB page.
To start, you would click the Manage now button in the upper right hand corner of the page. You will then have to choose “Add a Business”, which will take you to this screen.
Here, you enter your business’ name. If it is an existing business, you can claim that business. If it is not an existing business you can create one. There are too many steps to cover in one post, but if you would like more information, you can read the GMB FAQ page for a more step by step guide.
Earlier we discussed that 80% of customers search online before they decide to make a purchase. Today over 50% of device use is mobile. Given 9 out 10 mobile searches lead to a sale, you want your potential customers to search for you on mobile.
The fastest way to lose that potential customer is to have a poorly designed mobile website experience. There are two areas that are a must if you want to succeed in providing a flawless mobile experience.
Bounce rates go up dramatically if a site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It pays to run a speed test on your site. I recommend Google PageSpeed Insights. They are a tough grader, but it is better to know what great looks like, rather than to settle for mediocre.
If you find your site is working optimally, it is probably due to your web design, and more specifically your CMS. While I can’t cover all the details here, I wrote a post on the impact of CMS on Pagespeed that can help.
Many themes claim that they are responsive. However, a truly responsive site provides a seamless experience regardless of device. Few themes can actually deliver this type of experience without causing problems with page speed.
To avoid a poor mobile experience, it is helpful to be aware of some of the built-in biases in web design. The most important is desktop design bias. Most developers design using a desktop. Unless the developer actively checks his or her work on a mobile screen setting, design errors can be introduced.
This is why we always recommend that you design for mobile first if you are not doing a custom build. For a more in depth explanation of these issues and how to manage them, you can read my guest post on SMBCEO.
Finally, local search advertising is something worth considering, as those mobile searchers are very valuable. The ideal path would be to rank highly enough on organic SEO that you would warrant a listing in the local pack. However, when that is not possible, paid search can still return a solid ROI if executed appropriately.
When it comes to being successful in digital marketing in [location], there are three things I hope you remember.