As with every story about gentrification, it starts with the appeal of lower rents. A young wave of new artists, actors, and others come to the city in their 20’s right out of college, with a ton of debt and not a lot of income.
What they lack in income, the make up for in spirit and creativity. Williamsburg is a classic example. Artists expelled from the East Village due to rising rents moved further east into Williamsburg. They started with art studios and funky restaurant concepts. They create an energy and vibe that is contagious.
Then, the inevitable happens. Rents rise as the new spot is seen as hip and fun. Then come the boutiques and foodie restaurants. Following on their heels is usually rezoning, and viola, luxury buildings start popping up all over.
What’s happened in Williamsburg has happened to countless other neighborhoods in New York City. The key challenge for businesses is how to adapt and anticipate these changes.
It is important for any local business to engage in local digital marketing. Digital marketing has grown from a method of attracting more business to a means to attract and not to lose business to competition.
Some businesses think that they only need digital advertising if their business is large or is more regional or national in scope. It is a mistake that puts them at a competitive disadvantage. They are at a disadvantage because roughly 8 of 10 customers search before they buy.
A brand that is not part of that search is not likely to be considered, even if they are the best solution or product. Potential customers simply are not aware they exist.
More importantly, customers want to find solutions that are near to where they are. No one wants to travel out of their way to get what they need. The search term “_____ near me” has quadrupled over the past 5 years in google searches.
Another interesting trend that builds on the one above is that your target audience are not only looking for solutions near them but also available now.
The search term “_____ near me now” has tripled in the past 5 years. So, if you are a local bakery that sells cakes and offers discounts late in the day, being visible during a search at 3 pm for “cakes near me now” would be valuable. Plus, you can also sweeten the offer by making sure your discount is clearly visible online to potential local customers.
This builds on my prior points. If someone is searching for “cakes near me now” is probably looking to purchase one. In fact, Google reported in one of their studies that 90% of mobile searchers made a purchase.
Therefore, a local business, I would argue, is in the best position to meet that searcher's needs because they have a local market solution to their problem and are available now. The only thing left is to ensure that that search is aware that the business exists.
In a gentrified neighborhood, your challenge isn’t so much in targeting as it is in standing out. Local digital marketing can help you get your message 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.