New York's second largest city gets a bit lost sometimes. I lived in Central and Western New York before moving to Manhattan. It's hard for the upstate cities to compete with all the noise my beloved NYC makes. However, these cities can teach us a lot about resiliency, tenacity, and grit.
I grew up in Pittsburgh during the deindustrialization of the US in 1970-80s. I have a special admiration for these industrial hubs that had to battle through some tough times and reinvent themselves. Buffalo survived, and its economy has made significant gain in the 2010s. It is testament to the hardworking people who stayed in the region to help it rebuild.
Western New York poses some unique marketing challenges. With the digital migration COVID has forced us to make, as region rebuilds, should businesses focus solely locally or expand beyond the region in light of their digital investment?
Digital marketing won't work with a great website. Your website is more than just a pretty page, it's an invitation for a new customer to get to know your business. In areas like Buffalo where you can't always rely on foot traffic to raise awareness of business, a great website in conjunction with strong digital marketing can more than make up for it.
According to research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 51 percent of all U.S. online readers identified a compelling headline as the reason why they clicked on a given story. (7 Headline Elements You Need for Content Marketing Success)
We cover the full list on headline elements in our in depth in our previous post on email marketing, so we will touch on the 3 we feel are the most important
Since you only have 55-60 characters for the subject line, it is best to focus on those that have the potential to have the most impact.
Conciseness is almost forced on us because of the character limits. However, this can lead to broad generalizations or hyperbole. For example, “Best Ways to Make Toast”, while concise, is also bland and uninteresting. Conversely, “Read this Email or Your Hair Will Fall Out”, is also concise, but so over the top to be believed. This leads us to our next point.
In the example above, “read this…”, the headline creates urgency, but a false one. We live in a world of urgency. There is so much noise that everyone is screaming. Fear is the tactic most applied because it gets the best results. Studies have shown that people are 3 times more likely to click on something that scares them than makes them happy.
Prior to the 2020 Presidential Election, I would have said this is a short-term tactic, eventually people catch on, and become disillusioned and the brand suffers. I think this will ultimately be the case. I share this because it works, but I do not use it because I think it borders on unethical.
I prefer to use local events or news to spur urgency. I believe by building positive urgency in terms of promotions or activities is brand building.
I prefer utility as the driver. Utility is the value the person will receive by reading what you send. Local relevance is a major driver of utility. People care about where they live or work. If you can help to improve their lives in their community that is a major driver of utility.
Don’t overburden your message. We just spent all that time creating a great headline only to lose them on a poorly designed, text heavy body copy.
Email design follows the same principles of web design. Communication is messy, and design helps aid in getting our intended message across
An email is an intrusion. We need to recognize this fact. Therefore, we need to make that intrusion as brief and clear as possible by sticking with one clear message.
We cover email design in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. We will just touch on the high points here.
The simplest way to think of a layout is using a grid. Each block in the email is called an element. A spatial zone is a group of elements.
Since in our email we are trying to be single minded in our communication. The hierarchical design or golden ratio can be very useful.
The hierarchical pattern that is the most pleasing to the eye follows the golden ratio. It is a fixed number 1.618. It means every spatial zone is 1.618 times larger than the previous one.
This is a pattern that is widely used in nature. Therefore, our eye is naturally trained to follow it. Therefore, you want to make the key point the largest and size the remaining points accordingly.
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 Buffalo interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Buffalo 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 Buffalo. 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 Buffalo has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
Many businesses make the investment to deliver goods and services digitally to comply with COVID restrictions. They now face the question of what to do with that part of the business as things return to "normal" as more and more people are vaccinated. For those who decide they want to invest in digital delivery, digital marketing is critical.
SPAM hurts us all. It jades consumers, and it causes them to ignore both good and bad emails. If you are tempted to do it, please do not.
Instead build a legitimate list. You will get better results in the long-run.
There are laundry lists of what makes a successful email sign up form. Following our principles on brevity, I would like to mention two that we’ve found successful
Pop-ups and “wait don’t leave” messages feel desperate, intrusive, and frankly annoying. Small chat reminders at the bottom of the page are fine.
A landing page is also a good tactic if you have a good incentive.
It may seem obvious that you would cultivate your list since it took you so long to build it. However, this is where many small businesses fall short. It takes time and effort to build and execute campaigns.
Because of the time commitment, many small business owners do not take full advantage of this resource. In full disclosure, this is what we do. Therefore, it is not a surprise that we advocate for a third party.
However, this is something that you can do on your own. You just need to plan enough time and be consistent. Inconsistent emails are almost worse than no emails at all.
I would like to leave you with 3 main points as you consider your own email marketing campaign.
If you're thinking about finding help in Buffalo for your small business, here are some things to keep in mind.
Aside from all the general tips above, here are some specific actions you can take based on the three key elements of local search algorithms:
All of this assumes that you have completed your keyword research and developed your keyword list. If you have not, this section will be more effective once you do. Please see our previous post on digital marketing in Buffalo and then come back.
Go through your keywords list and select those which are good descriptors of your business. If it were me, I would use something like “digital marketing agency”, “seo services”, for example. Then make a list of the neighborhoods you service, for example “seo services Niagara Falls”.
Now comes the harder part, that is frankly a bit tedious. For each combination, see if you can create a somewhat unique post that’s 500-1000 words for that keyword. For us, it is a post like this. I try to write a post that helps my potential clients learn something or do something they didn’t know they could.
Now, this is the good part. If you do write quality posts for these keywords, you will be raising your prominence. Google knows that all these locations are in or near Buffalo. So, for each good post you write, you help raise your prominence on a given topic in a given location.
Prominence is also helped by the basic techniques I mentioned earlier, such as being a part of local business groups. Please see the Buffalo Niagara Partnership or BBB of Buffalo for listings that might pertain to you. Any local listing helps.
This is why I like the blog technique because it hits all three key areas. If your keyword is a descriptor of what you do and the neighborhood is one you serve, it is highly likely that you will score points on relevance.
Finding the right SEO for your small business in a neighborhood like Buffalo can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.
If you are interested in what more we do, check out Small Business Marketing in Buffalo.