It's easy for local businesses — especially small ones with a single location — to look at the online world of e-commerce and digital marketing and feel like they exist on their own terms outside of that world. After all, if you own a local dancewear retail company, you might think that since you aren't competing directly with retail giants, you don't really have to exist in the online marketing world, instead relying on local clients and traditional marketing only. However, even though this line of thinking may keep your doors open, it could be limiting your growth potential.
Here's why local businesses can't sit on the fence anymore when it comes to online marketing.
Getting Local With SEO
According to Entrepreneur, only 17 percent of small business are investing in SEO. However, this shortcoming can be your gain, as Google showed approximately 70 percent of customers that had an immediate need, and nearly two-thirds with a non-immediate want, turn to mobile search to assess their options before visiting a physical store.
For instance, let's continue with the example of the local dancewear store. If a customer has a child enrolling in dance class for the first time, they'll want to compare options for dancewear, turning to the internet to assess their options. If your business can use a smart SEO strategy to ensure that users in your community see your business at the top of the first search engine results page (SERP), your business will almost certainly see a big bump. However, local SEO is only one part of the picture.
While it may be tempting to think that content marketing is a tactic only for large companies that have plenty of room in their budget for reach and can connect with thousands of users daily, local businesses can actually use this marketing tool to great effect on a smaller scale to boost their profile locally and increase their online visibility. Every time a business posts an article, video or even photo online, they can use smart SEO methods to help customers find them via search engines. And there's another benefit here as social media shares can increase exposure on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which will grow your business' profile organically, leading to more follows on social media and, hopefully, more foot traffic at your location.
Online retail sales have grown 16% year over year according to Meeker's Internet Trends. You can take advantage of this growing trend by offering some of your products for sale online. Local customers who find your business online can make purchases right from their devices, thanks to your content marketing and SEO efforts. Using the example of the local dancewear company, imagine a customer searching for supply lists for a specific tap class, and not only seeing your company at the top of the SERP but buying the appropriate dancewear, shoes and costumes for the class right from your website.
Though online marketing, e-commerce and digital storefronts require some real investment from local businesses, the returns are well worth the cost, especially as local businesses face increasing competition in today's world.