In the 20 plus years that I have lived in New York, one of the neighborhoods that has resisted change the most has been on the Upper East Side.
This wealthy upscale enclave complete with posh restaurants, boutique shops, and Museum Mile has remained surprisingly constant, while the majority of Manhattan has changed.
The same mix of brownstones and luxury high-rises are still fixtures in the neighborhood. It’s one of the few places where businesses had to constantly adapt to survive.
A fast, mobile ready site is the cost of entry today. Any business without one is likely to get left behind.
Being online is a necessity for any business large or small. Otherwise, you will lose out on a large and growing market segment. Local digital marketing is the key to standing out, especially for local businesses, who don’t have the budget to compete with national brands.
If you want to increase your business chances of being successful, it is worth the investment in time to learn how local digital marketing can help.
“Near me”, these are the most important terms in local search and digital presence. Those two simple words can mean so much in terms of traffic. In fact, interest in those two paltry words has quadrupled in the past 5 years of google searches.
Besides those two brief words, I would like to add the element of time. Potential customers that are looking to fill a need immediately or within 24 hours.
According to Google, near me now has almost doubled in the past two years. They also report a nearly tenfold increase in the growth of mobile searches for ‘near me today/tonight’. Finally, Google cited a two-fold increase in ‘near me open now’.
These factors go into why local digital marketing is critical for small businesses. You have increasing demand for local results that can satisfy the local customer’s needs in a very narrow window of time. If your online presence is weak, that demand is likely going to your competition.
According to a study by GE Capital, 81% of shoppers research their product online before purchasing. This is up two points, from 79%, versus last year. You will want to make sure that you can be found when customers are looking for solutions. If your business is not visible, then you missed the sale.
According to a study by Google,
“People rely on their phones to help make the best decisions at the moment of purchase. In fact, 70% of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their devices for information relevant to that purchase. And when people search on mobile, it leads to action: 92% of those who searched on their phone made a related purchase.”
Therefore, having a strong local presence is key to attracting a target audience willing to buy.
The case for local digital marketing is solid.
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 the Upper East Side 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 Upper East Side. 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 Upper East Side has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
No neighborhood can resist change forever. As the Upper East Side ages, there are fewer and fewer people wanting to move there due to the lack of amenities, access to the subway, etc. Eventually, demand will not keep up with supply, and businesses will have to attract new customers to replace the old.
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.