Category Archives: local business marketing ideas

hands on laptop sending business email as part of email marketing campaign

8 (Easy) Ways to Build a Solid Email List

When it comes to building email lists, we feel like (some) companies are missing the mark. There are so many missed opportunities and misconceptions that can stand in the way of results.

To be clear, there are a lot of results to be had. This list of email marketing benefits from Business2Community spells out the most compelling reasons, including building brand awareness and generating more website traffic and sales.

It should be noted that none of those results are reachable without building a solid email list and producing relevant emails. The basis of every solid e-mail list is a list of recipients that want to receive communications from the business and emails with information they want to receive. Here’s how to get started on the first part of the process: building an e-mail list that gets results.

 How to Build a Solid Email List

Don’t buy or rent e-mail lists.

The first, and biggest, part of gathering emails for marketing purposes is a stern “don’t.” As tempting as it may be, don’t buy or rent email lists. This unfortunately all-to-common practice can lead to wasted efforts and incredibly low results.

Put simply, if the people behind those e-mail lists don’t want to receive e-mails from a business, they’re not going to open the e-mail. This leads to a higher bounce rate and lower open and click-through rate, which can get businesses tagged as spammers without generating any (or few) sales.

Ask in sales meeting, tradeshows, and at the register.

The biggest missed opportunities for e-mail addresses come during daily interactions: in sales meetings, trade show interactions, and during in-person checkouts. This is a prime reason why every employee should be included in the effort to request e-mails (and ask for online reviews).

The exact method of asking is different for every business, which is why identifying opportunities involves an overall evaluation of all business practices. For businesses that ship products, marketing materials asking for e-mails can be included. If the sales process is online, a follow-up email can be sent thanking them for their business and asking if they would like to communicate further.

If a sales team is involved, there are several chances for these asks: during follow-up visits and interactions. Even technicians can collect e-mails and ask for reviews when the service is delivered. Both of these efforts can be useful for marketing purposes and improving a business’ local SEO. (For more information on the pros, contact local SEO experts.)  

Create a social media ad.

Social media is an essential part of every business marketing effort and another way to boost a business email list. Effective social media ads are run on social media sites that reach the target audience (more on how to choose the right social media site here) and are targeted (via interests, demographics, or location) to ensure that a relevant audience is being reached. These ads may include incentives for compliance, such as a discount for e-mail list sign-up or an offer that the viewers can’t refuse.

Make e-mail sign-up part of the check-out process.

For e-commerce websites, an e-mail sign-up is a logical part of the buying process. The exact process of the e-mail sign-up should be easy and reasonable. Long forms and indirect links can weaken the resolve of even the most dedicated user.

Directing users to the e-mail process should be just as clear-cut. The ask can be made via a box included in the purchasing process or via a follow-up e-mail after the purchase. If repeat sales or retaining customers is a campaign goal, the follow-up can include an incentive for another purchase (i.e. percentage off on next purchase, discount on certain item, etc.)

Make followers aware of the perks of e-mails in a social media post.

Social media is a great way to spread the word about the benefits of joining an e-mail list. This is a business’ chance to (occasionally) let users know what they’re missing out on (exclusive e-mail offers) and direct them to the e-mail sign-up page. Social media posts about the e-mail list should be included in a regular social media plan with relevant topics.

Add the request to promotional materials.

The request for e-mails can extend beyond social media and in-person asks. The ask for e-mails should be included on promotional materials strategically produced for the targeted audience. As with online, the request should make the process easy for the recipient. QR codes (which are easy to scan with a mobile device) and URLs to the sign-up page are both easy and effective. The preferred method can be included on brochures, post cards, materials included in shipments, and trade show packets.

Add a pop-up with the ask to the business website.

Website pop-ups can be unpopular and incredibly effective for e-mail sign-ups. The pop-ups should utilize the best online marketing practices and give viewers a reason to want to click. These incentives could include a discount for e-mail sign-up or valuable insider tips that viewers only receive for taking action.

Include the request on the business blog.

Content marketing is a great way to bolster a website’s search engine rankings, offer customers valuable and relevant tips, ask for engagement on social media, and request e-mail sign-ups. The request for e-mail sign-up can be included as a call-to-action in the content, in blog pop-ups, or in clickable images on the blog. These clickable images can include, “for more information, subscribe…” or “to get more great tips, sign-up…”

Tips for Effective Email Sign-Ups

  • Make it easy for users to sign-up (no long forms!)
  • Give users an incentive to sign-up.
  • Make the sign-up process secure.
  • Include the ask for e-mail sign-up in business standard operating procedures.
  • Ask employees to spread the word about the business email list on social media, in e-mails, and in e-mail signatures.

Ideas for Engaging E-mail Content

  • Blog posts relevant to the season or recipient (from the company or from other industry leaders)
  • Sales/discounts/offers (including exclusive offers that make the recipient feel like part of a loyal club)
  • Useful tips
  • Communications from business leaders
  • Requests for donations
  • Daily points of interest
  • Photos and videos relevant to the audience

12 Awesome Stats that Prove Local SEO Pays Off

group of friends looking for information on smartphonesDigital marketing is like a speeding freight train. Along the way, digital marketing trends pop up and evolve; some disappear down a dead-end track, never to be seen or heard again (good-bye cloaking). Smart company owners and managers jump on board at key stops, putting the right trends to work and reaping the rewards of a strategic digital marketing plan.

Local search engine optimization, both on-site and off-site, is a digital marketing trend that’s here to stay. The reason behind the long-lasting nature of local SEO is that it’s based off real consumer behaviors.

Think about it. People look for answers to their problems online. Often, those answers are products and services. Sometimes those answers are information. All of this information can be found online, making online searches a key source of leads and sales for local businesses. Smart local business owners are investing in a solid local SEO strategy (more on how to kickstart a local SEO plan here) based on statistics that highlight key consumer behaviors.

Consumers are using local search to find businesses.

Key takeaway for businesses: Every effort (either in-house or by outsourced experts) should be made to get into local search listings, such as claiming listings on Google My Business, review sites, and local directories.

Mobile-friendly websites are important part of website optimization and customer conversions.

Key takeaway for businesses: Business websites need to be optimized for search engines and consumers. An optimized, fast, and mobile-friendly site is not optional for any business who wants to get higher search engine listings and convert visitors into sales.

Positive online reviews play a key part in customers’ buying decisions and search engine rankings.

Key takeaway for businesses: Online review sites play an important role in earning customer trust and a solid local SEO effort. Businesses need to take steps to claim listings on review sites and create a comprehensive in-house strategy of asking for reviews from satisfied customers.

Effective Online Marketing Tactics that Target Local Customers

local business trying to reach local customers with marketingLocal businesses need to invest their dollars into marketing tactics that target local customers. After all, a customer thousands of miles away isn’t going to travel cross country to buy your product.

And local customers aren’t looking in their phone book anymore. Consider phone books in the same category as the extinct do-do bird.

It’s time to move into the modern age of smartphones and tablets—and use them to target local viewers that can actually buy.

The chance for increasing sales is high. The investment (of time and funds) in the marketing tactic doesn’t have to be (if you choose the right marketing firm that delivers results).

To be clear, we’re not discounting the significance of in-person customer interactions. Customer service (both online and off) is more important than ever, building relationships and customer loyalty. However, you have to reach customers before you can provide excellent customer service. Far too often, local business owners waste their money on generic marketing tactics that can reach anybody anywhere. Frankly, a flooring store isn’t going to increase sales if their marketing is seen 1,000 miles away.

Website Optimization

An optimized website is built and designed for users and search engines. This is not done blindly. The best websites are built with the right structure for search engines and fast enough for any impatient customer (statistics have shown that online viewers leave websites that take too long).

For the benefit of both search engines and online viewers, website content should be written with information and images relevant to local online viewers. Lastly, contact information for the business should be included on several web pages for search engines and customers. For the latter, include easy-to-use ways to contact the business, such as a contact form and social media.

Optimization Technology

An optimized website is the first step; it shouldn’t be the last. The next step is to continually optimize with content and technology. Search engines credit websites that regularly add high-quality content (i.e. blog posts, infographics, etc.) Online viewers use the content as they research topics that solve their problem. The answer is to regularly add content to the website for both online viewers and search engines. If a staff member isn’t available to do so or doesn’t have expertise, consider outsourcing the effort to the experts.

For brick-and-mortar businesses with one or several locations, optimization technology is the logical next step. Optimization technology specifically targets customers within a specific radius around a business location (or locations). This marketing tactic takes a high level of expertise and understanding of best-use search engine practices; use this guide to choose a marketing firm that offers effective optimization technology that has proven results.

Social Media

Social media is a free marketing tactic that gets results. Unfortunately, those results can be hit-or-miss if some best-use social media practices aren’t followed. Sales-driven posts can also be more in the miss category if these ideas for local social media posts aren’t used.

To build a solid social media following that buys, promote the social media channel on every marketing piece (i.e. website, e-mails, traditional mailers) and during in-person interactions (i.e. register sales, sales meetings, etc.) Get the maximum amount of followers and audience engagement by carefully choosing the social media network that the business target audience is on. Use this helpful social media chart to select the right social media networks and post regularly for maximum effect. Regular posts fit into the “not too often, not often enough” category. The exact schedule should be determined by using statistics, social media insight, and a testing method that determines the best time for customer engagement (i.e. comments, likes, etc.)

Increasing sales on social media does not necessarily mean “only sales” posts. Social media marketing is more of a subtle practice; approximately 60 percent of posts should be sales and 40 percent should be relevant content. To that end, plan a marketing calendar that meets this criterion and showcases the local nature of the business (this list of ideas for social media posts).

E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics—especially for local businesses. The first step is to build an e-mail list that is open to communications (use this list of ideas for building an e-mail list). Try to avoid buying e-mail lists which can fill the list with e-mail users that don’t have any interest in the business.

Set a regular schedule of e-mails (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) around dates that are relevant to the e-mail recipients. Try to avoid sending e-mails too often (this is a sure-fire way to annoy e-mail recipients). If the schedule starts to feel too arduous, consider outsourcing the effort a marketing firm.

In the e-mails, include content that is relevant to the target audience. Just like social media content, these topics are not always sales-driven. For local businesses, include community events that the e-mail users are interested in and topics that e-mail recipients want to act on. For a maximum return-on-investment, include call-to-actions in the e-mail that are easy-to-use.

Local Businesses: 20 Marketing Ideas that Connect with Customers

local customer with smart phoneAs local business owners, another sale may be the ultimate goal, but a connection with a customer is what gets those sales in the door. With in-person and digital options available, local business owners and managers need to select the right (and most efficient) marketing ideas that form those invaluable connections with local customers.

What is the goal of a customer connection?

A connection with a local customer is more than just a means to another sale—and it’s different for a local business versus a huge national corporation. A local business owner should choose tactics that inspire actions from a customer, such as (but not limited to) a referral, brand awareness, positive reviews, or in-person contact. The desired action should play a key factor in deciding on the type of tactic selected to reach business goals. A marketing professional can also offer advice on the specific tactics right for a local business.

It’s also important to realize that many marketing tactics are more than just a part of a plan; they are an integral part of operations that should be implemented via customer service employees who are the face of the business. This means that local business owners and managers should develop standard operating procedures that are a daily part of business and a standard part of employee trainings.

When its time to outsource local marketing efforts, take that team approach a step further. A marketing firm is an extension of your business’ efforts; contact them regularly with updates and information that can be used for a cohesive execution of all local marketing tactics.

How can I get more connections with my customers?

In-person

  1. Ask customers during customer interactions to follow business on social media
  2. Provide a card or flyer during customer interactions with social media options
  3. Ask customers during customer interactions to sign up for email list
  4. Provide a card with deals and contact information to be included in local community event goodie bags
  5. Ask satisfied customers for online reviews
  6. Give customers a mobile device for payment and for leaving an online review (when service is completed)

Website

  1. Optimize your website so you appear in search engine rankings
  2. Include clear call-to-actions (graphic & text) that ask for social media follows and email list sign-ups
  3. Post content with local news, tips, and information helpful for customers

Social Media

  1. Post pictures of employees doing work or on special occasions (with their approval)
  2. Drive traffic to a specific website page from social media
  3. Share website content relevant to customers’ lives
  4. Respond promptly to messages from customers with helpful advice
  5. Share posts from other local businesses and events
  6. Social media advertisements that target local users

E-mails

  1. Send out personalized e-mails with relevant information
  2. Showcase community involvement and local news pertinent to the community and business

Print

  1. Send out flyers or printed materials to local prospects
  2. Ask other local business owners to carry printed materials

Online Review Sites

  1. Take ownership of business profiles on review sites
  2. Contact a company with brand reputation software that manages positive and negative reviews from all online review sites
  3. Respond to all online reviews (negative and positive)
  4. Provide excellent customer service to customers who leave negative reviews (i.e. assist with resolving issue, offer to help)