Local Business DIY Online Marketing Audit

If you’re a local business there are a vast amount of opportunities to build your brand and expand your website traffic. Many local businesses realize the impact that online marketing can have but either don’t know where to start or focus on less effective opportunities. If you feel you fall into this category, and would like to improve your local search, here are a few things you should start with for your DIY Audit.

1. How are you tracking what works? Tracking is essential before we even worry about the rest. Have a plan in place. Consider the following:

  • Google Analytics or something similar
  • Goal Tracking in your analytics software.
  • Ask your customers how they found you
  • Call Tracking – use different phone numbers for any paid campaigns
  • Track your contact form submissions or emails from your website

2. Are you keeping up with your competition? Understanding your competition and knowing what they are doing is essential. Many consumers will compare you to them and read reviews, evaluate your brand, specials and if you’ve invested in your company enough to have a professional website.

3. Local Search Results are critical! You should be verified and registered with Google, Yahoo, Bing and have logged in recently to your local profile. Here’s just a few of the other sites you should also pay attention to:

  • Yelp
  • Patch.com
  • Foursquare
  • Superpages.com
  • Citysearch.com
  • TripAdvisors.com
  • UrbanSpoon.com

4. Ratings! If you haven’t noticed search engine results pages now include ratings in many cases, especially for local results. Make sure you ask your customers to leave a review. More importantly than ever, you must make sure your customers are satisfied.

5. Social Media is here to stay! You should have a branded and active social media campaign that is relevant to your customer base. Here’s some additional Social Media tips:

  • Use videos and vibrant images – text is boring, even mobile users want to be engaged visually.
  • Provide offers and communicate with other businesses in your area to build a larger audience.
  • Use hashtags (#) and tag other businesses in your posts.
  • It’s ok to sell your services, otherwise what’s the point? There’s no need to be obtrusive and always have your sales hat on, but if you are going to engage do so in an effective manner. If you are going to provide non-related content and never promote your business then what’s the point?
  • Sponsored posts, tweets etc. are a great way to increase your audience. Start with a small budget and choose posts that are engaging. Be sure to track the success as closely as possible; Each social media network provides tracking mechanisms that work with Google Analytics.
  • Spread out your posts, and schedule them if necessary. There are many tools that allow you to manage your posts. Facebook even includes a schedule option when posting.

6. Pay-Per-Click and other online advertising should be an essential part of your online marketing campaign, but it should be done well. Paid Online Advertising should be the easiest type of marketing to track the success. If you do not know what your ROI is on a paid marketing campaign to Google, Bing etc. then stop wasting your marketing budget.  If you have put the proper tracking in place here are some great tips on enhancing your campaign for 2013:

  • Image & Video Ads – Visual content will enhance your results.
  • Re-Marketing – Not new, but essential to reminding visitors to come back while they continue their research online.
  • Maps Advertising – Google and Bing Maps now provide opportunities to advertise on the Map results pages.
  • Evaluate partner networks and sites that allow placed ads.

7. Schema.org – While this may be too advanced for some of you, Schema.org provides a unified way to structure data in a manner accepted by the major search engines. This can help you show reviews in the Search Results, ensure that your location is picked up correctly, and even improve your listing in the search results page.

Schema mark-up creates enhanced listings.

Schema mark-up creates enhanced listings.

8. Email Marketing is not dead. There are many email marketing solutions that allow you to manage your own branded campaigns. Most of you have probably collected email addresses from customers or visitors who have given you permission to contact them. Give them something for being loyal and they will return!

Online marketing is essential to any business, but even more so to those that cater to localized markets. Mobile phones have allowed users to find what’s nearby quickly and determine the quality of the business fast. Listing and rating sites allow consumers to target areas for travel and ensure they enjoy their visit. Keep up on your Online Marketing Audits and reach out for help when you need it.