Here at E/Power Marketing, we are passionate about helping local businesses succeed. Local businesses are an important part of the financial well-being of the communities they serve, help define a community identity, and are filled with creative, hard-working individuals. But we also recognize that local businesses are up against their own unique set of challenges. Finding and attracting the right customers is a never-ending process. Small business owners with limited marketing budgets need to make sure every dollar is working as hard as they are to drive revenue for the business. As a digital advertising specialist, I’ve put together some specific tips and ideas to help you stretch your advertising budget for better results!
1. Choose the Right Platform (or Platforms) to Advertise On
Depending on your total marketing budget, you will need to prioritize which platform you are going to invest in. There are many platforms available, all of which have the capability to target a specific geographic area and language setting. Especially if you are working with a very limited budget, don’t spread it too thin by trying to be on every platform available. Make sure you are exploring the benefits of a few before deciding which one to use and expand as your business grows. If you have buyer personas in place, that is an excellent place to start when choosing a platform. You will want to make sure you are utilizing the same platform as your customers. Below is a brief description of the two most popular platforms for local businesses.
For many, Google Ads is a good starting place. It is the most popular search engine, so your audience is most likely using Google to search for products and services. Google Ads offers a diverse array of ad formats, including search, display, video, app install ads, shopping ads, and more. On top of that, you can add in different audience lists, shopping behaviors, and interests to really hone in on your best customers. By linking your Google Ads account to your Google My Business listing, you have access to even more features, including store visit tracking and the ability to show up in local search ads. Because there are so many features, it is in your best interest to hire someone with experience or work with a Google Partner agency so that you get the most out of your advertising while quickly identifying and addressing wasted spend.
Facebook Ads is another popular advertising platform, and for good reason. Facebook owns Instagram, so you get access to advertise on the two most popular social media networks with one ad platform. There are different ad formats and setup options to suit a variety of business objectives, such as store visits, and can be a cheaper alternative to Google Ads. Again, it is important to have someone managing the advertising who is familiar with the available options.
2. Utilize Ad Extensions
In both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising, extensions for search ads are available. Extensions are ways to showcase additional information alongside your search ads. They help ads take up more space on a search results page, increasing visibility and click-through-rates. According to Google, 88% of people who perform a local online search visit a store within a week, so it is important that your extensions are optimized for local searches. Make sure you are taking advantage of the following extensions:
- Location extensions: show your address alongside your search ads. In Google, you can link your Google My Business location so users can click or tap your address for directions to your store.
- Call extensions: show your phone number to people and encourage them to call you.
- Sitelink extensions: Link to additional pages on your website, such as your store hours, popular products or services, or customer testimonials
- Callout extensions: short snippets of text that allow you to showcase unique features and benefits of your business
3. Pick the Right Location Targets
As noted above, one setting that is important when setting up any ads program is the location targeting. Setting up purposeful location targets helps you tailor your message to the right audience, control costs, and allow your ads to show more frequently to the people you are trying to reach.
In some cases, it may be wise to set up more than one location target. If you have a primary market where your best customers are and a secondary market that you are trying to expand into, you will want to control your costs separately and maybe even have separate messages for the different audiences.
4. Do Your Keyword Research
We all know that different geographic areas use different words for the same thing. For example, here in Wisconsin, some of us drink out of a bubbler, while others prefer to use a drinking fountain or water fountain. Knowing the terminology your local customers use for your products or services can literally help you speak their language. When you are setting up your local search campaigns, make sure you do your keyword research, and make sure that you are exploring keywords for your specific area.
On top of the terms people use to describe your product, you also need to know how people are pairing their searches with location-specific terms. Oftentimes, “near me” or your city name is all you need. But for some whose business serves an urban area or a group of cities, you will need to know the specific terms people use to search in that local area. For example, E/Power Marketing is based in Oshkosh, WI but we are surrounded by several other cities and connected by the Fox River. Because of that, the group of cities is called the Fox Cities or the Fox Valley. For businesses in our local area, these are terms that we will want to include in our keywords.
Most platforms’ location targeting can get pretty granular, but not exact. You can choose a specific address in Google Ads, for example, but it will target the location PLUS a 1-mile radius. There are times, however, when a business may want to show ads to people in a very specific area. Geofencing is a much more precise way to reach a highly relevant audience.
Geofencing allows an advertiser to hone in on a specific geographic area and show ads only to people that were physically in that location. Similarly, a conversion zone can be set up for the specific business so that walk-in visits can be directly attributed to the ads.
There are many use cases for geofencing, and the exact setup will depend on the goals of the program. Here are just a few examples of how E/Power Marketing has used geofencing for our clients:
- A seasonal watercraft rental and boat cruise company: since this company relied heavily on local tourism, we showed ads to people who had been to local hotels and campgrounds, then tracked how many of the people who saw the ads walked into one of our client’s marinas.
- Trade shows: we have set up several geofencing campaigns that targeted the convention center where a trade show was happening, encouraging attendees to visit our clients’ booths. We then followed up by targeting the same people for 30 days after the trade show with a special offer just for attendees.
- Restaurants: we have targeted local tourism hot-spots with ads for restaurants, putting a conversion zone around the restaurant to attribute walk-ins to the ads.
6. Track Your Calls
This one is of particular importance for service-based businesses that rely on leads from phone calls. Having a call tracking system in place gives you the ability to attribute leads to multiple sources and share that information with the right people.
Benefits and features of call tracking:
- Reports that show which sources and keywords drove phone calls.
- Option to have the employee answering the phone hear which source the call came from BEFORE speaking with the caller.
- Option to have the employee score the call after speaking with the caller, marking it as a new customer, new lead, unqualified lead, etc. This helps you better track which efforts are bringing in qualified leads and which are not so you can make better advertising decisions.
- Option to record calls for later review if needed for training or to gain more insight for advertising.
- Simple integration with Google Ads and Google Analytics for seamless reporting.
- Ability to track calls from both online and offline sources (such as business cards, billboards, etc.).
7. Carry it Through to Your Website
Because so many people start their search for products and services online, you need a website that addresses the needs of your customers. Make sure it is organized so that once on the site, users can find what they are looking for quickly and outline your service areas. Be direct with your calls-to-action (CTAs) and tell people what the next step is, such as “visit us today at (address)” or “call now for a quote.”
Ensure your ads are taking users to relevant landing pages. If there is a group of search terms related to your business that has a high volume of searches in your local area, but you don’t have a page that addresses those particular terms, you are missing an opportunity. Ads that are targeted to a keyword that isn’t on the landing page tend to cost more, have a lower click-through-rate, and show up lower on the search results page. In addition, customers are likely to feel frustrated or annoyed if they click through to a website that does not address their original search. If you don’t have a landing page that fits in well with your ads, create one.
Keep in mind that all of these tactics are a means to an end. Your marketing strategy should reflect your broader business goals. Here at E/Power Marketing, we know how to work with our clients to really understand their goals and craft advertising strategies to achieve those goals. We know how hard you work for every dollar, so we treat your advertising budget like our own money.
If you are ready to explore how a local marketing agency can help you drive results with digital advertising, let us know! We combine our “old school” midwest work ethic with forward-thinking digital strategies to create results-focused programs for our clients. Request your free consultation today.