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4 Steps to Local Inbound Marketing Success in 2018

The ways potential clients find local businesses are changing dramatically. However, the marketing funnel for SMBs should remain the same. Google’s Consumer Barometer offers insights into how local consumers use the internet and how they interact with digital assets of SMBs. Using this data, marketers can help local businesses create content and campaigns for each stage of the marketing funnel.

1. Awareness

LSA Graph 1

The initial stage of the marketing funnel involves consumers who may not have a specific business in mind and those who may not even know they have an issue to solve. Google’s data demonstrates that consumers in the “Awareness” stage of their digital discovery process search for SMBs to plan activities (33%), find a specific product or service (25%), or plan a purchase (24%).

According to Moz, the this stage is “about figuring out what the audience wants and needs to learn about and teaching them those things. If you’re doing that well, you’re associating feelings of gratitude and respect with your brand—not to mention authority.”

Local businesses are often different than larger or enterprise businesses in that content matters less to ranking in local search than factors like link signals, business citations, and NAP consistency. However, that doesn’t mean that content won’t boost visibility in a given niche.

Recommendation

Focus on making sure the initial awareness touchpoints for consumers are in order–like Google My Business (GMB) listings, reviews, and a mobile website. Think about the types of niche content that could potentially bring in new clients who are searching for longer-tail (voice-search-friendly) queries.

For example, someone looking specifically for a “Panama City Beach hotel” will probably have GMB as the first touch point. However, someone searching “best spring break destinations” is looking for deeper content recommendations. This would be a great opportunity write a blog about why Panama City Beach is the best spring break destination and why readers should stay at the blog owner’s hotel.

2. Evaluation

LSA Graph 2

Once consumers are on a site or local business listing, what matters to them? The evaluation stage is where consumers determine if your product or service is the right one for their needs. Hubspot describes this evaluation stage as “the stage where you want to show why your solutions in particular are the best fit.”

Consumer Barometer data indicates that, for local consumers, the most important details include pricing, hours, location, and reviews.

Recommendation

Firstly, ensure that GMB citations are up-to-date and that NAP is consistent with your website and other listings. In addition, make this basic information available on the homepage of your site in a visible area like the header.

If your basic information is too complicated to put in a header, make sure the navigation is named for these elements (pricing, hours and location especially). In addition, markup your pages with local business schema to give a business the one-up advantage in voice and digital assistant search.

3. Retention

After the first sale, the goal is to keep clients coming back for more. A one-time buy is great, but a customer that keeps coming back is even better.

The retention phase of the SMB marketing funnel involves delighting the consumer during all interactions with the business both in-person and online so they become a repeat buyer. Along with providing a good in-person customer service experience, part of retaining customers includes responding to both good and bad reviews online. Sherry Bonelli wrote for BrightLocal that “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.”

Recommendation

Respond to reviews on your GMB listing and other citations across the web (especially niche-specific listings). Make sure to respond thoughtfully and not in a reactionary way.

Highlight satisfied customers in your content. For example, writing a blog on that customer who visits your small coffee shop every morning with her dog in tow is a great way to foster a sense of community around your business. Be creative about how to craft that content around your own industry or product/service.

4. Growth

LSA Graph 3

For local businesses, growth in the marketing funnel can include upselling existing clients as well as having delighted consumers refer family and friends. Depending on the vertical, customers could be looking for seasonal or industry promotions or reasons to come back, like new services or products.

This phase means keeping a business top of mind for these customers and making assets shareable through all means possible–social media, email, and even direct mail promotions.

Recommendation

Think about the kinds of content and activities that foster sharing and growth in a particular industry and remove any barriers to entry. eMarketer, for example, shows that most people open their email on a mobile device–so make sure any email promotions are designed for a mobile experience and include a share link.

Make sure to engage customers by requesting an online review. Don’t try to influence their reviews, just ask them to leave one.

The upcoming new year is a great opportunity to plan your content, SEO, and inbound marketing strategies based around local consumer data and stages of the marketing funnel. Arranging a local marketing blueprint around points along the funnel ensures there’s something online for every client–no matter what stage they’re in.

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