How do local businesses engage with today’s consumers? As technology and behavior patterns evolve, marketers must find fresh ways to attract new customers and engage existing ones.
(Newswire.net — March 5, 2019) — New tactics and tools are emerging in 2019, making it a great time for local businesses to fine-tune their marketing strategies. So, which channels and techniques will help grow your business? MDG Advertising’s team examined some surveys and analyzed recent research reports to find out exactly what you should watch closely this year. Here’s what we found:
1. Online Reviews and Ratings Are a Must-Have
In the past, many marketers considered online reviews and ratings as something nice to have, but not necessarily vital to their marketing efforts. Now, these reviews have become essential as customers increasingly rely on others’ opinions before making buying decisions. In fact, 86 percent of customers regularly check online reviews before committing to a local business, according to a recent survey.
The survey also revealed that online reviews are especially important to younger consumers: half of respondents ages 18–34 stated that they always read reviews before trying out a new business. Plus, 91 percent of these customers trust online reviews and ratings as much as an in-person recommendation.
2. Customer Reviews Can Improve SEO
Gathering positive customer reviews may bring in new business, but it also can boost your search engine optimization (SEO). According to Search Engine Watch, Google recently began considering a local business’s reviews when determining its search engine ranking, making high ratings and positive reviews even more essential.
A business that showcases a variety of favorable reviews may see a noticeable bump in its SEO rankings. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true—local businesses without a significant number of customer ratings and reviews may not be easily found in search.
3. Google My Business Jump-Starts Digital Efforts
When developing a digital marketing plan, creating a Google My Business page is a great place to start. Google My Business is a hub for posting and managing local business profiles, which include location information, keywords and categories that can assist in search.
According to an analysis from Moz, Google My Business elements have a significant influence on local pack results as well as overall organic results. Keep your Google My Business page updated with fresh information and photos, and you may see a higher search engine ranking.
4. Facebook Recommendations Earn Customer Trust
While Google My Business pages are popular, they aren’t the only resource customers use for information and opinions—many customers turn to Facebook as well. Facebook has responded to the demand for these reviews by including more detailed Business Pages and improved search functionality.
Facebook also is emphasizing Recommendations, which allow people to highlight local businesses they like with text, tags, and photos. This type of social proof is valuable to consumers and can help local businesses earn a sense of trust. Facebook Recommendations are expected to become even more important as the year progresses.
5. Enhanced Online-to-Offline Attribution
Most local business owners know that a well-planned online strategy can result in customer engagement, but an online campaign’s offline success can be difficult to quantify. Fortunately, connecting the online and offline worlds has become easier due to product improvements from Google and Facebook. Improved conversion tracking will make it much easier to attribute offline success to online initiatives.
Attribution is important to online marketers, who must be able to determine whether their campaigns are worth the investment. Expect further advancements in conversion tracking tools in 2019.
6. Speedy Mobile Sites Engage Customers
Does your local business have a fully optimized mobile site? If not, now’s the time to get started—mobile site speed is extremely important to today’s on-the-go consumers. A slow load time also affects a business’s position in search engine results, as Google now considers loading speed when determining a website’s ranking.
The good news? Local businesses are getting the message, decreasing load times and creating a more mobile-friendly experience for visitors. The bad news? It still takes approximately 15 seconds for mobile pages to fully load, which is still too long to keep a customer’s attention.
7. It’s All About Location
As digital platforms evolve, a business’s location becomes even more important. Thanks to the GPS capabilities of smartphones and sophisticated advertising tools, consumers can now connect to businesses and offers close to home.
Local marketers are expected to invest further in these location-based tools as they become more advanced. A recent eMarketer report revealed that location-based ad spend is projected to rise by nearly double throughout the next several years.
8. The Power of In-Person Events
In a recent survey, 800 local marketers were asked which approaches brought the most engagement for their business. The results were surprising: local events and hosted events were listed as two effective ways to interact with customers. Interestingly enough, these tactics were also considered two of the most difficult to execute.
Because of their high-reward, high-effort nature, in-person events should be used carefully by local businesses. An event may not always be the most efficient approach, but it may be necessary to reach potential customers.
9. Resolving the Digital vs. Traditional Ad Debate
Should marketers fully embrace digital campaigns? Are traditional channels still relevant? As smartphones and online platforms became more popular over the last decade, marketing experts debated which approach would triumph.
There’s no doubt that digital platforms are here to stay. Young consumers, in particular, spend more time watching online videos than television. However, despite this behavioral shift, the overall decline in traditional ad spend has leveled off.
What does this mean for marketers? While utilizing technology is important, some businesses may benefit from traditional tactics as well. Many businesses will see success using a mix of traditional and digital tactics—74 percent of small- and medium-sized firms currently use a cross-channel approach.
A brand’s location, target market, and advertising budget will all factor into which tactics will get results over the next few months. Instead of focusing on one area, successful local businesses will adopt a multifaceted marketing approach in 2019.
Written by Michael Del Gigante
About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising
In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.