The internet may have completely transformed the way people connect and businesses find and develop relationships with customers, but the need for local marketing will never completely disappear. The world is getting smaller, and consumers can now interact with companies they never would have even known about just a few short years ago. But as the world grows smaller, our desire to engage with local businesses expands. Part of it is created by the environmental sustainability trend. Packing and shipping is one of the business activities that packs the highest carbon footprint. So while you might be able to get something cheaper by purchasing it from a wholesaler halfway around the world, the impact of that purchase on the environment is extreme. The other reason people focus on local businesses is to avoid a future when the small town main street completely disappears. People will buy local if given the chance, but they still need to find you, and you must offer a compelling service. So here are five local marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2013.
First of all, you’ve got to understand that the world of search engine optimization is becoming increasingly complex. SEO is a necessity for any business that markets its services online. You must create a web presence that shows up high in keyword searches for your particular industry. And if you’re not on top of it, your competition certainly is. But Google is changing the rules, making it harder for SEO experts to keep your site high up in the rankings. You’ll have to stay abreast of the latest online data if you want to maintain your presence.
Google will still remain the primary way that customers discover a business, but it won’t be the only outlet. First off, the Google+ Local pages that launched last year will become more and more important for connecting with customers in your home region. But the companies that manage to break through the noise will be the hyper-local ones. You’ve probably already heard of Uber, a taxi transportation company that only does business in certain markets. Consumers want to connect with businesses that are interested in doing one thing very well in their home city.
With that in mind, keep an eye on how national brands adjust their focus to appear more local. It’s becoming more and more obvious to the large marketing organizations that local promotion has a higher ROI than anything you could attempt on a regional or national level. So you’re going to have stiffer competition from the major chains in your home market, especially if those companies are franchise-based. You”ll end up spending more on your marketing efforts to keep up.
So can you stretch your dollars by marketing on Facebook? In 2013, that answer is a resounding ‘no’. Paid advertising on Facebook seems to work on a national basis, but has a very low ROI on the local side. Consumers just don’t click on those local ads, and will only ‘like’ your page if you offer something of value in return. Hopefully the addition of a local search mechanism will help. But if you want to spend money advertising on Facebook, be extremely conservative.
Finally, experts are declaring that traditional sales leads are going to become less and less important. Since it’s incredibly easy for a consumer to sign up for information through your website or social network, those ‘leads’ don’t actually translate into sales most of the time, making them next to worthless. If you spend one dollar on sticker printing for everyone who liked your page, with the thought that those leads will turn into business, you’d probably lose your shirt. Sales are the only way to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. In 2013, the bottom line is the key.