I have lived in Manhattan for the past 20 years or so. I have watched the city change dramatically in just that small window of time. Twenty years is a long time, but few cities are as dynamic and ever evolving as Manhattan is.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I think it is a great city. Although I haven't lived there in twenty years or so, it still feels very familiar. In contract, the Chelsea I moved into in the late 1990s looks nothing like it did then. You would be hard pressed to see anything that has remained the same.
That's the fundamental challenge of Manhattan. How to survive and remain relevant when you are living in a whirlwind of change and evolution. Each neighborhood is slightly different in its rate of change, but they all share a similar theme - if you are standing still, you are falling behind.
Great web design is important no matter where you are located. However, in densely populated areas like Manhattan, where mobile usage is high. It is cost of entry. You are at a significant disadvantage without it.
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 Kipps Bay interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Manhattan 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 Manhattan. 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 Manhattan has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
Manhattan businesses are constantly trying to stand out. They are always competing with new ideas, concepts, and new ways to solve old problems. The question many of them face is about the brand. Can it evolve, or is it too rooted in one thing or another. Can the brand be authentic to both, or do you have to choose?
There are several ways to use targeted local digital marketing to win in [location]. We cannot cover them all here, but we can review some of the most common.
A superior mobile experience is based on the fundamental elements of good graphic design principles. By following good graphic design principles can make your site easy to read, navigate, and understand.
The first element is the grid layout. The most common grid patterns used in web design are Manuscript, Column and Hierarchical.
Before the days of responsive sites, hierarchical web design was in vogue. However, owing to the need to create seamless experiences between different devices, the trend has shifted to the column design.
The column design is a layout divided into a fixed number of columns. The columns set the scale for the page. The row sizes set the grid dimensions. Using a grid pattern helps maintain legibility and proportionality much simpler.
The next major element is color. There has been a lot of study on colors and their effects on moods. Much of the data has been inconclusive and highly sensitive to surroundings and context.
Luckily, we do not have to cover all these details in order to build a great design. Adobe has a very useful tool that can help you find the right mix of colors that work well together.
Font type is more an aesthetic choice. However, font size should be greater than 12 points to ensure legibility.
Lastly, we have images. Original graphics tend to be much more successful than stock images. Sites with original graphics tend to perform better than those without.
Nearly 80% of all users said the most important function of a website is to make it “Easy to Find What I Want”. This was almost 8x as important as the next items.
Since mobile searchers are 90% likely to purchase something relevant to their search. You need to be found in mobile and local search.
The best way to do that is to set up or claim your GMB page. Nearly 8 out of every 10 searches in the US are done on Google. Therefore, it makes logical sense to use their default platform. As this example shows, a mobile search of “restaurants near me” yielded this search engine results page (SERP).
You quickly notice the block with the map. This is called the Google Local 3 pack.
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 relatively easy, and if you would like more information, you can read the GMB FAQ page for a more step by step guide.
Finally, we come to local listings. One time in the not so distant past, these listings used to be free. However, now, there are listing aggregators that charge a fee. You can still get pretty far using the free listings, however it is a very time consuming and labor intensive process.
The reason we care about local listings is that consistency in NAP (name, address, phone) is a key legitimacy signal for Google. If you want one of those coveted local 3 pack spots, you will want to send as many of these signals as possible.
Other places to look are your local digital news sources, reviews, chambers of commerce listings, local awards, e.g. Top 10 Restaurants in _____. All of these listings add credibility and further enhance your legitimacy ranking.
I hope that we convinced you why local digital marketing is important no matter the size of your business. In order to be successful in using digital marketing to help your business, we hope that you keep these three things in mind:
As I said earlier, Manhattan is a place of constant change. This can be incredibly challenging for a brand to manage. Branding is about consistency and building equity. How can you do that when tastes and customers change so quickly?
The key is to find your core equity, which is less about what you do and more about who you are and why you do it? Methods and things can change, but core values do not. That's how you can evolve. You can change what you do or how you do it, without sacrificing the brand to do it.
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 Manhattan 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 Hudson Yards”.
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 neighborhoods are in Manhattan. 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 Manhattan Chamber of Commerce or New York Small Business Services 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 that you will score points on relevance.
These same tools would apply if you want to target local SEO in NYC