The 3 Best Ways to Market Your Small Business During COVID-19 (Local SEO is #1) | X3 Marketing

2020 has hit everyone hard – especially small business owners and their local businesses. Government enforced closures and restrictions, less consumer discretionary income and general fear in the marketplace have become a factor to the toughest business climate since the Great Depression. With spending getting tighter and the competition for dollars intensifying, the marketing strategies that a CEO/CMO chooses will make or break many operations. Local SEO and other digital marketing strategies have been pushed ahead by over five years and your business needs to be ready.

In this article, we will discuss 3 of the best areas to invest in marketing during the COVID pandemic to maximize return on investment.

The 3 Best Ways – focus on return on investment

With COVID-19 severely reducing the amount of time that a person spends out and about and drastically increasing the amount of time that they spend at home, it’s no surprise that people are spending more time online – on their smartphones, tablets and computers.

The increase in time spent on devices means that customers are searching, researching and buying more online. This means that even the smallest local search ranking factor can mean the difference between a person finding your business listing or another. Here are the top 3 ways to take advantage of these trends as a smart marketer:

What are local SERP's?

Global spending on digital marketing nears $100 billion: study

X3: The 3 Best ways to market your small business during COVID-19 (#1 is local SEO)

1. Improve Your Company’s Local SEO

 

 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. (Source: SEO Tribunal)

A decrease in leaving the house means an increase in online shopping from home. An increase in shopping from home means more people using search engines and shopping online. Increasingly, potential customers areusing local search and platforms like Google My Business for services “near me” or “close by”. These Google searches grew by more than 900% over two years according to Chat Meter.

With your customers increasingly turning to search engines like Google for local products and services, it is essential that your local businesses rank well in LOCAL SEO for your main offerings. If you don’t rank in the top five organic SEO search results for local businesses with your main keywords, that factor will get smoked by your local competitor as they will snap up your potential customers.

So what are a few of the ways to get your business listing to rank in local search above your nearest competitor on Google? Well, let’s look at the LOCAL SEARCH part of the equation – which includes Google My Business and the results which appear on a Google Map. The first thing a local business can do is decide where you want to see opportunity. Most potential clients and customers are going to search with local intent. This means that they’re going to use Google search to find local listings. If someone is searching for a plumber, they don’t want to see the business profile for a plumber who is located 100 miles away. They want someone who appears high in a local ranking because being local is a factor that more often than not drives business.

What are local SERP's?

Global spending on digital marketing nears $100 billion: study

One of the best ways to increase your local SEO is to research local small business SEO packages. A great digital marketing agency will help you to reach local customers based on your business location rather than having a local ranking for a potential customer who may be hours away. That person may be searching for a business like yours but they are not truly YOUR local audience.

One of the best ways to increase your local SEO is to research local small business SEO packages. For other ways to increase your local SEO, check out our article:

5 Ways to Improve Your Local SEO

X3: The 3 Best ways to market your small business during COVID-19 (#1 is local SEO)

2. Digital Advertising

Probably the fastest and one of the best (if done correctly) ways to get a positive return on your marketing investment is through digital advertising.

With digital ads on Google, you are essentially buying the right type of traffic and leads to your website. Unlike local SEO, digital ads can generate leads for a product or service right away. This means that search engines like Google show ads targeted to a specific “avatar” which an agency such as X3 can help you develop. In other words, if you want a local link to be shown only to a person searching for “roofers near me” who is also a woman between the ages of 25 and 34 who speaks english within 10 miles of your business location – only a person fitting that profile will be shown your ad.

The best types of ads to market your small business during COVID are:

Retargeting

The click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad. [Source: Wishpond]

Data rules the world around us and the big tech players (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn etc..) are tracking everything that you do on the internet.

If you search for something (new shoes for example) Google and Facebook both know that you are interested in buying new shoes and will show you ads for businesses that sell new shoes. If you read a blog post on how to cook a great apple pie or click on a Google map result showing the best fried chicken in your zip code, Google and other search engines know.

If you go to a shoe website, that website knows that you have been there (through “cookies”) and can serve you a retargeted ad to you via Facebook or the Google display network on other websites. This sort of tactic is meant to re-engage a potential customer.

Because you have searched for shoes and gone to a shoe website, you are likely to purchase shoes and being shown a retargeted ad will have a high conversion rate.

Very few small businesses that we meet with as a digital advertising agency in Denver are running retargeting ads which can be a huge missed opportunity. A competitor of a certain business owner may have social or paid campaigns going but a person will only see ads from that organization once or twice and only on selected platforms whereas retargeting will follow a potential customer who’s already been to the retargeting company’s website.

Because of the high conversion rate and low relative cost, we recommend retargeting ads to most of our digital advertising clients. This is doubly true for those who frequent mobile search since our phones always know where we are and using NAP citations (Name, Address, Phone number) can show us ads targeted to our location at that moment. This results in better offers to the people who are most likely to buy.

Pay Per Click Ads

Pay per click (PPC) ads are still a great way to go for small businesses that are looking to maximize their spend on digital advertising.

If the agency in charge of PPC is running a great campaign for the small business, then the ads are only being shown for keywords where potential customers are going to buy products or services and are therefore more likely to respond to those offers.

The PPC agency also has to make sure that the keywords selected for the campaign are not too competitive or costly. When that happens, the business will run out of budget quickly and will not show a positive ROI. However, because these ads can be so narrowly targeted to exactly who a business wants to reach, they can fit into national or local search.

When using PPC ads on a platform like Google or Google My Business, a business also doesn’t pay for impressions (impressions are similar to paying for a billboard which people drive by without ever paying attention). Rather, this tactic means that the only time you pay Google is when someone actually clicks on your ad. After that, it’s up to your website to convert them into a customer.

Many local searches also give a business owner the opportunity to include specific, local keywords which takes the results of search engines like Google and displays ads that aren’t simply relevant to the topic a potential client is looking for, but also the business listing of someone nearby who can be on-the-spot much more quickly. This not only delivers faster results and local knowledge but it also give the business organization a chance to influence their local search visibility.

X3: The 3 Best ways to market your small business during COVID-19 (#1 is local SEO)

3. Social Media

As of Q1 2020, there are 2.6 billion monthly active Facebook users. (Statista, 2020)

Social Media posts and ads (especially Facebook ads) can provide a very high return on digital marketing investment for small businesses.

Because Facebook knows their users interests, friends and search histories, ads can be very targeted and only served to users with a very high likelihood to engage and purchase. Additionally, Facebook and Google can often share the sort of information gleaned from your posts which make the advertisements you see on both platforms that much more catered specifically to you

Small businesses looking to do retargeting ads through Facebook should hire a digital marketing agency that can dive deep into their ideal customer’s behavior and demographics and can create compelling visual ads with great written copy. Part of our job is to makes sure that your social media posts are focused, have proper timing and display the proper “look & feel” of your business personality.

Encouraging your social media audience to engage with a business can also encourage more sharing and gaining of a new local link to your website (think of it like a person‘s website with a link back to your business as “social proof”). Things like this not only share your website but also increase your business profile and brand recognition. Aspects like this will also increase appearance of a given local keyword on social media just as it would in Google.

The final thing we’ll mention as it relates to social media is the online reviews which live there. Giving your customer base a chance to leave both positive and negative reviews on social outlets allows a steady stream of your customers to share their feelings with you and other potential customers. It also allows you to openly resolve conflicts which shows your professionalism in handling a bad review. Search engine rankings will ultimately be affected by all online reviews – even on social media – so local organizations should make sure their SEO strategy includes a way to respond to all reviews – good AND bad.

The Bottom Line

Due to COVID-19, (and technology adoption as a whole) your target customers are spending less time in cars listening to the radio, less people are watching traditional TV and very few people still pick up a physical copy of a newspaper. The traditional methods of advertising (Radio, TV and Print) are dying. Business owners must change with the time to maximize return on investment and the top ways to go are: local SEO, digital advertising and social media.

At X3, we are experts at delivering local SEO and digital advertising campaigns to maximize return on investment. It all starts with a free assessment or contacting us to learn more!

Curious to see how small business from X3 can hep you DOMINATE YOUR COMPETITION ONLINE? Get in touch!

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