Marketing for a hyperlocal store is still a relatively new term, but the concept is as old as business itself. When someone first posted up on a street corner and started hawking their widgets, they were practicing hyper-local marketing. These days marketing is a bit more complicated than being able to shout the loudest: customers search for businesses online, find their way to the store with their phone, and rely on reviews to make purchasing decisions.
Marketing for hyper-local business, then, is an approach to managing the messaging that gets customers to walk down the street and through your door. How do you make sure that when someone pulls out their phone and searches “cafe with wifi,” your business will show up on? What steps can you take to ensure that your online reputation matches the excellent services you actually provide?
The strategies of hyperlocal marketing range from simple to complex, but this guide will get you started with the basics for your small business.
How to Get Started with Hyperlocal SEO
If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, or if your business is service-based, then you’ll need to make sure that you’re appealing to people locally. Google knows that if a user types in “get a coffee”, that person isn’t going to fly across the country for a coffee. Local SEO was once all you needed to bridge that gap. When the user would type “cafe in Boston”, Google could show that user a list of Boston-area cafes based on business location and SEO.
However, with Google’s push to offer even more relevant results, and with more people than ever using their mobile phones to search for products and services via Google, times are still changing. Not only does the search engine want to prevent someone from driving across the country for a coffee, but it even wants to provide that user with a list of businesses in close proximity to his or her current location. This is even more relevant to the user. Think about it like this: is that user is more likely to drive across town for a coffee, or is he more likely to visit the closest cafe with the best ratings? The latter makes more sense, and that’s why hyperlocal SEO is so valuable.
While it’s possible to go into a great deal of depth when it comes to hyperlocal SEO, there are simple tips you can follow to get the ball rolling and start improving your rankings immediately.
- Include hyperlocal keywords. Rather than keywords like “Boston coffee”, consider a smaller geographical area, such as a neighborhood. “Allston cafe” or “Brighton haircut” is far more relevant.
- Insert your business address. Make sure your exact business address appears on your website several times. Google can find this information and use it to match searchers with your company.
- Provide your name, address, and phone number in multiple directories. Good places to start include Google+, Yellowbook, TripAdvisor, and other similar directories. It may seem tedious and time-consuming, but the more places you can verify your information, the better.
Why Reviews Matter
When it comes to hyperlocal businesses, according to a 2017 study by BrightLocal, positive reviews can have a positive impact on consumers. Increasing trust with consumers is critical to winning their business, and positive reviews can help you move the needle on this goal.
The Bottom Line: You need to build positive reviews for your hyperlocal business online.
56% of consumers say search engines are the top source they use to look for reviews about businesses.
So, if positive reviews of hyperlocal businesses increase trust with consumers, how can you know if consumers are seeing them for your business? Search engines are the most important place to start. According to a Trustpilot survey, consumers use search engines more than any other source to find company and product reviews.
This means that search engines must be a component of your online reputation strategy. It’s a good idea to regularly search for your business reputation keywords online as what shows up can change constantly. And, since reviews on different websites can pop up in your search results, it’s a good idea to generate reviews across a variety of sites in order to own the search engine results page for important reputation and review search terms.
If your hyperlocal business is struggling with reviews online, there’s good news! The same BrightLocal study found that 7 out of 10 consumers would leave a review of a business if they are asked to.
This is the kicker for many businesses – they may have an extremely happy core client base, but happy customers do not leave unless they are prompted. A few unhappy customers can easily stain your online reputation with negative reviews, but thankfully, approaching your core client base and asking them to leave you reviews can help you balance out the feedback about your business online.
The Bottom Line: Putting a process in place to regularly request reviews from happy customers can make a huge impact on your reputation and your business.
Being a hyperlocal business, your marketing should have a local feel. Making use of local stereotypes could help personalize your marketing operation while addressing the challenges that you’ll need to factor into your campaign planning. Does your area receive a lot of rain? Create a campaign around that challenge and offer customers a “rain day special.” Take note of the local events that could be relevant to your campaign, or look for local partnerships that could endow with shared benefits. In order to build a loyal local customer base, it’s important to be accepted as a part of the community. Hyperlocal advertising is an efficient way to accomplish this kind of bearing.
Customers’ needs vary from region to region and hence calls for a region-specific social account and marketing strategies. Integrating your store into the various communities helps you build tremendous brand loyalty and trust. And it starts with a solid and concurrent strategic marketing plan. The plan can include social media, direct mail, mobile messaging and/or automated marketing campaigns.
Step Up: Offer a Great In-Store Experience
Remember, once you get the customer in the door, you still need to offer a great experience. The advantage that local small businesses have over national and internet-based behemoths is the opportunity to offer a unique and personalized environment.
One thing to help you stand out is to take advantage of the ways you can integrate technology into your approach. In-store WiFi should be a given. Not only does it offer something of value to your customers, but it also gives you a chance to collect information useful in a number of ways.
Make sure to keep abreast of any apps or other technology that can help you create a more seamless experience. Are there ways you could minimize wait times, make payment easier, or even simply publish your menu or services in an easy-to-find place?
Data from WiFi and other customer service apps can help you make changes to your layout, adjust your pricing, or identify what brings people through the door in the first place.
What You Can Do Right Now
While the landscape is always shifting, the basics of a hyper-local strategy are simple:
- Get noticed by making sure you are listed across a number of platforms and that all of your information matches
- Stand out by finding ways to encourage customers to write reviews for your business
- Take charge of your reputation by viewing each response to a negative review as a marketing opportunity
- Step up and use technology to offer a great in-store experience