How to Market Your Local Business on the Internet

Today I have a special guest contributor for you, my friend Will Swayne from Marketing-Results.com.au. Will’s business specializes in online marketing for Australian businesses. This article looks at how online marketing can be used to promote a local business. You can also read “what the dickens” Will is all about in his blog.

If you currently market your local business using the Internet please feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments and Will may respond.

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It’s funny how often I hear business owners say “What would I want with a website? I’m not looking to reach a global audience.”

The preconception still exists that the internet is only suited to reaching a far-flung national or international audience. This is simply not true – local business can and are building super-profitable websites that generate new business from within their local area.

In this article we’ll look at some strategies that you can use to successfully market your local “offline” business using the Internet.

What kind of businesses suit local internet marketing?

Providing that potential customers are searching for your product or service in your area, you can benefit from local internet marketing.

If you operate in a traditional “Yellow Pages industry”, internet marketing can work like gangbusters.

By “Yellow Pages industry”, I’m referring to products and services that are typically only intermittently required and that people traditionally search for in the Yellow Pages. For example:

Plumbing
Electrical
Mechanical
Landscaping
Pest Control
Some professional services (Legal, Accounting, Financial)
Construction
Bookkeeping

Using some of the internet-based marketing strategies below, many of our clients are able to acquire new customers for around 80% – 90% less than the Yellow Pages.

Consider your local population base

The effectiveness of your local internet marketing activities will be influenced to some degree by the population of your market. If you’re a small business accountant in Sydney, then you have a large population base from which to draw. But if you’re located in a small country town, search-based local internet marketing may not be as appropriate in your situation.

How do people search?

When people search for products and services in their local area, their search will most often look something like this:

[industry name] + [location]

e.g.

Plumber Brisbane or
Financial planner Melbourne

For example, one of our clients is a pest control specialist that services the Sydney area. Two of the more popular search terms used to find their website are Sydney pest control company and termite control Sydney.

By being highly visible in popular search engines (particularly Google) for these terms , this company is able to generate a lot of new business (more about some of the specific traffic generation strategies they use below).

What should your website say?

The subject of how to convert website visitors into enquirers would fill a whole book in itself, but here are a few important guidelines that many high-converting local business websites follow:

  1. Make it clear that you operate in your local area so that local visitors know they’ve come to the right place. Referring to your location within your website content may also help to boost your ranking in search engines.
  2. Your website content should take the form of a sales letter designed to generate an action (i.e. an enquiry) from your visitors. A good phrase to start with is, “Are you looking for a [what you do] in [your location]?”. e.g. Are you looking for a personal trainer in Perth? Then go on to explain the benefits of doing business with you.
  3. Bear in mind that when people search online, they’re probably comparing 3 or more websites just like yours. So be sure to explain how you’re different and give plenty of reasons why customers should choose you and not your competitors.
  4. Provide a clear “call to action”, or instruction about what to do next. e.g. “Fill in the form below for a same-day response.” Our results show that most website enquiries come via a online contact form as opposed to the telephone, so make sure your contact form is easy to find and use.
  5. Just like in a Yellow Pages ad, do everything you can to enhance and communicate the credibility of your business. In the Sydney pest control website mentioned previously, notice how the logos and industry memberships along the left hand column reinforce their position as the pre-eminent pest control provider in Sydney.


How to drive targeted local traffic to your website

The next part of the equation is driving website traffic. You might have a fantastic website but if no one in your target market can find it, it won’t do you much good. Here are some successful local traffic generation methods to try:

  1. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, particularly Google Adwords. This is instant, targeted and cost effective. There are other PPC search engines including Yahoo! Search (formerly Overture), but Google Adwords consistently produces the best ROI.
  2. Online Yellow Pages – this can be a good source of high-quality traffic. Like any marketing approach, you should track your results to ensure that it is profitable in your situation.
  3. Search engine optimization or SEO. Search engine optimization means ranking your site in the “free” search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. For many local search terms, it is relatively easy to achieve high rankings. You can either employ a provider of SEO services to do this for you, or learn about it for yourself (Brad Fallon’s resources are a good place to start).

The above 3 ideas are obviously a non-exhaustive list, but these three strategies alone can generate a significant amount of additional revenue. The pest control business mentioned above will conservatively generate an additional $200,000 in business online this year – that’s a healthy sales boost that is only set to grow as more and more people use search engines to find what they’re looking for.

About the Author: Will Swayne is the director of Marketing Results, a firm of internet marketing consultants and sales lead generation experts. His passion is showing companies how to get the most out of the Internet as a marketing tool. To learn more about internet marketing strategies that work in the real world, download this free sales lead generation guide from the Marketing Results website.

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Comments

  1. Les Chui says:

    Thanks for the nice concise article. It helped me see internet marketing with a slightly different perspective.

  2. Yaro, Will,

    This was probably one of the most powerful articles yet to run on smallbusinessbranding. It gives specific examples of some “cookie cutter” web sites that are being used to generate traffic for local businesses.

    It also allows us to examine and pick apart the copy letter and format.

    Very cool stuff! Thank you guys very much!

  3. Hi Nick – yes this is certainly one of Will’s favorite topics and his experience shows. Thanks for the feedback. Will I’m sure will drop by soon to comment too.

  4. Hi Les and Nick

    Thanks for your comments. I believe that internet marketing is a “no-brainer” for local businesses, precisely because most people aren’t doing it (or at least not very well).

    I quite often post at my blog (www.Marketing-Results.com.au/blog) about related topics so if you’re interested hop on over and have a look.

    Will

  5. I think THE most powerful local web ad idea is ensuring that your business shows up in local map searches for Yahoo, Google, MSN, etc.

    Check out this article: “Local Search Engine Listings Can Attract New Customers” at
    http://verusnova.com/blog/index.php/2006/03/10/local-search-engine-listings-can-attract-new-customers/

  6. Hi Mike M,

    Thanks for your blog post. Unfortunately we don’t have any of that cool stuff in Australia yet but when we do I’ll be sure to apply some of your ideas.

    Local Search will certainly be very powerful and will blitz the print Yellow Pages.

  7. Thank you for presenting a clear-cut guide to internet marketing. For info, there’s now a new product in a single CD that, via a series of short movies, guides the netrepreneur to build a business online.

  8. SEO and PPC works but SEO take a long time and PPC sometimes can be very expensive.

    Btw,have you heard of cost per action technique to get qualified leads? If not yet, you can download a free report from http://www.w3submit.com/noppc/

  9. I was doing some research on local search engine statistics for my company AddLocal.com when I stumbled upon this article… Which did catch me by surpirse, articles regarding local internet marketing as clear and acurate are being written half way around the world (I am in the USA). Great article I will be inplementing some points on my website days to come. As the say in Australia… “Cheers Mate”.

  10. Google Local Searches says:

    interesting topic. thanks to google local / google maps. they made the lives of the small businesses a little easier as far as internet marketing is concerned.

    thanks for posting a very brief but concise list.

  11. Great article for business owners. Companies like ours localviz.com/ help small businesses just like these stay on top of their game and focus on the United States. It’s great to see how other countries are taking advantage of the power of local marketing as well.

  12. Internet Business says:

    Perhaps this was one of the most popular articles, but strong run on trademarks for small businesses. And provide specific examples of some of the “cookie cutter” sites on the Internet that is used to generate traffic for local companies. It also allows us to study and choice but to copy this message and coordination. Very cool stuff! Thank you guys very much!

  13. Great tips for what your local small business website should say and especially stressing the “creditability” part. So important to get across to local small businesses that you are the one to use.

    Keep up sharing the good information…

    Connie

  14. LocalBusiness says:

    Great article.
    I think that as important as it is to have your local business with google local maps, people should not depend on this for their top rankings.

  15. Great article!

    I think social media and google place is the best for internet marketing.

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