Geomarketing: Digital Marketing for Local Businesses (Part 2)

Geomarketing: Digital Marketing for Local Businesses
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Geomarketing is used by the big Internet companies, national brands, and large retail chains to provide targeted web content by location. They work with companies like Facebook and Foursquare to send ads and promotions to smartphones and digital devices, when one is near one of their locations. The large companies use geolocation on websites to let you see local inventories. How does a small company compete?

Geomarketing is being used to direct consumers away from local small businesses, and into the the embrace of big, multinational corporations who could care less about your local community. In small towns across America, Internet retailers and large box stores are forcing small businesses to close, diminishing the local community and identity, and pulling money out of local economies. 

There are three characteristics of value that bring customers in the door: price, quality, and customer service. In many cases, a small local business is not going to be able to compete with the prices of multinational retailers like Walmart. However, price is not everything.

You must use geomarketing and digital tools to create brand loyalty and a sense of community around your local business. You need to give customers a reason to buy the chlorine at your local swimming pool store, rather than buying online for 10% less with free shipping. Does that make sense?

Last week we touched on aspects of Local SEO and Content in a geomarketing strategy.  This week I will discuss both developing your geomarketing using a social media action plan.

Geomarketing with Social Media

Social media is a form of computer-mediated communication. It allows users to create, share or exchange information, ideas, pictures, and videos within virtual communities and on networks, using a variety of Internet-based applications,. This is all collectively identified as user-generated content. Wow, if that explanation doesn’t get your eyes to glaze over.

Basically what we are talking about here is any website or app that allows individuals or communities to share or discuss information across the web.  Even if your local business does not use social media, your clients and customers are, and they are talking about you.

If you are a plumber, and just fixed a customer’s gushing pipes and flooding basement in a top-notch way, there is a good chance your customer is going to brag about you. On the other hand, if they feel gouged or taken advantage of, absolutely expect the world to know.

This is the new word-of-mouth advertising. Social media users can quickly and easily tell all their friends, family, colleagues, and other personal contacts how well you did—and with pictures to prove it.

Visitors can check-in when they arrival at your local business, adding a notification to their timeline and promoting your business. Users also often have the ability to link to you in posts or tweets, or tag your business in photos and videos. Having some control of how you are portrayed on social media is very important.

Organic Social Media

Organic Social Media is the unpaid growth of fans and followers across your various Social Media accounts, and unpaid reach of your content when a fan or follower likes, shares, replies, comments on something posted. This type of online activity fits right into a geomarketing strategy.

Each social media site works a little different on how you attract fans or followers, and this is why having a strong geomarketing strategy is so important for a local business.  If you have 10,000 fans on Facebook, it may look impressive, but if they are not within driving distance of your hair salon, or marble & tile store, they are not helping you.

With Facebook, organic growth starts with your personal account, and inviting friends and family to “Like” the page. In Sales and Marketing, this is called your “sphere of influence.” Facebook places limits on who you can invite to your page as a way of controlling SPAM.  However, your “sphere of influence” are people who should already like and trust you in real life, creating a positive start for your Facebook Page.

Geomarketing on Twitter: near West Chester

Twitter will be a little tougher to locally target.  One of the best ways to get Followers is to follow others. Use Twitter’s search feature to find local Twitter accounts. Creating lists of local Twitter accounts will mean you will not get tagged for aggressive following, then you can follow 20 accounts a day to slowly build, following only those who are truly active.

Other social media (such as Instagram, Swarm, and Youtube) have their own strategies for geomarketing, but you may find that you will rely heavily or Facebook and Twitter to be able to organically attract local eyes.

Content on Social Media

Social media is all about the creation and exchange of user-generated content. If your business is not regularly creating content for (or sharing content with) your fans and followers, there is no reason to be there. These are not merely directory listings, like the old Yellow Pages of now obsolete phonebooks.

The purpose of social media is to engage with existing and potential customers. It is also not about shameless self-promotion. It is about creating a community. Your local business benefits from the value created by being informative and engaged. Even your company’s biggest fans will stop paying attention if your content is just blatant advertising.

The big companies have different rules. There are things you will need to do on social media that you will not see many big brands doing. Home Depot, Olive Garden, and Walmart are going to gain fans and followers, and people sharing their content, because they have an innate level of influence from being already popular brands and large corporations. A local business has to create and maintain their own influence manually.

Influence is the having an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. Therefore, online influence is affecting what people see, think about, and share online. This clout and credibility is then applied to generating leads and attracting customers. (I know. You glazed over again.)

Content is king, but it is curated content that will have a tremendous value for fans and followers. Content curation is selecting, organizing, and sharing digital content from other sources. This will include sharing or retweeting the posts of others, and finding links to news articles, blogs, videos, or photos.

This is not a hard and fast, but keep the “Rule of 80/20” in mind with content:

  • 80% Curated Content
    • 80% shares, retweet, repost
    • 20% found on other sites
  • 20% Original Content
    • 80% helpful, informative, funny, or entertaining
    • 20% shameful self-promotion

You will notice how little of what is being posted will be “shameless” self-promotion, only 4 out of 100 posts. However, keep in mind, this is all self-promotion. Supporting others will improve your brand recognition and reputation.

The more time a visitor spends looking at your content, even if it is shared, the more time they are not looking somewhere else. You are creating value for your fans and followers to pay attention, rather than to just seeing your account as blatant advertising. The more a person sees your company’s name, the more they will remember you when they need the products or services you provide.

Ideas for content sources:

  • Other trusted local businesses or marketing partners
  • Local government, school districts, and fire departments
  • Local televisions news, radio, and newspapers
  • Local charities and organizations

Using social media, as part of your geomarketing strategy, requires making your social media account a valuable resource for local information. As your influence, clout, and credibility grow, you may find that there will be those asking you to help them. You become seen supportive of the local community, and people will want to support you in return.

Paid Social Media

Geomarketing: Facebook Ad Targeting

Paid advertising on social network sites is also an outstanding geomarketing tool because those viewing are active and targeted. Social media sites, but Facebook and Twitter specifically, have a tons of personal data. This is invaluable to local businesses, and allows you to specifically target not only your specific location, but your ideal customer.

If you are the owner of a swimming pool store, you may want to target your advertising to those within 15 miles (roughly 30 minutes) of your location. You also may want to limit your advertising to homeowners making more than $60,000 per year. Your experience may also tell you people over 55 years old are less likely to keep and maintain a swimming pool. Therefore, you target your advertising even more by limiting it to those under 55 years.

Targeting options include:

  • Custom audiences, such are targeting those who visited your website in the past
  • Location, based on your address or other geographical area
  • Demographics, such are education level or where they graduated
  • Age & Gender, target the correct age demographic and gender
  • Interests can be broadly targeted, such as Fitness $ Wellness, or more narrowly like Yoga
  • Behaviors can be targeted as well, like if your audience is a coupon user, dog owner, or even maybe a someone who supports cancer causes.
  • Connections allow you to target those who already “Like” your page, or the friends of connections

Every targeting option limits and helps define the audience you want to reach. If done right, your advertising dollars are optimized for those most likely to patronize your local business.

Here are some types of paid advertising campaigns:

  • Increase engagement of posts or tweets
  • Promote your Page or Twitter account
  • Send visitors to your site, blog, or web-store
  • Increase online sales conversions, if you sell online
  • Reach people near your brick-and-mortar location
  • Raise attendance at your local events
  • Have people claim your special offer
  • Get video views

The various paid advertising platforms across social media, but especially Facebook and Twitter, give you the opportunity to use geomarketing data to extend your reach to thousands of potential clients and customers for your local business, in a way that is intelligently targeted.  Even the smallest business can now take advantage of big data.

More on Geomarketing

Geomarketing is nothing more than marketing geographically. The large Internet companies and multinational corporations spend billions of dollars on big data to target your local customers. Local businesses across America, but especially in rural communities, can now fight back.

Across two articles, I have touched on geomarketing techniques such as:

  • Local Seo
  • Content Creation
  • Content Curation
  • Organic Social Media
  • Paid Social Media

These are geomarketing activities that every small business can easily begin using today. In future articles I will delve deeper into these and other topics that ensure your local business’ online presence is specifically targeting your local customers.

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