19 Super-Creative Local Marketing Ideas
Effective local marketing is a beautiful mix of search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, content marketing, and social media advertising.
Local business owners know digital marketing is critical. Unfortunately, many fail because they cannot maintain consistency or because they run out of ideas.
Regardless of your experience level, this big list of 19 local marketing ideas will take you from local marketing rookie to the local marketing legend your mom always believed you were.
1. Promote Your Latest Customer Reviews on Facebook
Here’s a juicy stat from BrightLocal’s latest consumer survey: 92% of consumers now read online reviews (vs. 88% in 2014).
We already know our customers want to read reviews. The key is to make these customer reviews more accessible, and a great way to do this is by incorporating them into your advertising. By leveraging Facebook advertising you can quickly spread brand awareness and show off your stellar local reputation.
2. Get Your Yelp Categories Correct
How important are Yelp categories, you might ask? They are critical – and here’s why. If you advertise on Yelp, the queries that your ads show up on is determined by the categories you choose. Furthermore, where your listing ranks organically is also influenced by your Yelp categories.
For example, in the image above we ranked our client number one for their primary keyword, “divorce mediation,” by simply adding “Divorce & Family Law” as a category.
The importance of this spans outside of Yelp though! Look at the number one organic result in Google for “divorce mediation”:
Yep, it’s Yelp. By simply getting your Yelp categories correct you can start to immediately impact your lead volume.
If you pay for ads and don’t want to advertise on certain keywords, removing categories is critical as well. (Think of this like negative keywords.)
3. Build Custom Landing Pages for Every Campaign
Countless local businesses throw money down the drain by not tracking conversions or building local landing pages. Ideally, each of your AdWords campaigns should have a simple flow chart:
Click Ad > Go to Relevant Landing Page > Convert
The key things to keep in mind when developing a landing page for a local audience are:
- Clear call to action
- Descriptive hero image that compliments your value proposition
- Answer your audience's top questions
- Make your number clickable
Test, test, test your local landing pages, and make sure to add some of your own favorite examples in the comments!
4. Promote Your Content on Facebook to Your Local Audience
Social media advertising is a goldmine for the branding of your local business. We often hear clients say things like: “Do you really believe our target market is on Facebook?”
We hear your concern and our answer is YES! Whether you are B2B or B2C you are still advertising to people and frankly, people love consuming content on Facebook. In case you aren’t convinced yet, here are 25+ facts as to why you need to start advertising on Facebook.
Right now, we have found the following two types of campaigns to be most effective in promoting content:
- Website Click
- Brand Awareness
We have experimented with local awareness campaigns in Facebook, but with their poor targeting options have steered away from launching for accounts.
5. Use Remarketing to Generate Reviews
Do you have a confirmation page when people fill out a form or an event in your Google Analytics (GA)? If yes, simply add a remarketing tracking code to your confirmation page and set up the list in GA so that you can tag customers who visit that URL. A simple display ad that says:
“Love us? Leave us a Review! Google+, Yelp, Facebook. Your Choice.” will do the trick.
Google will even create a remarketing ad for you – just enter your URL and you’re good to go.
6. Build Guides for Local Activities & Promote Them!
What a great way to do local content! Instead of just creating content that talks about yourself or is “for keywords,” start building guides. The example above is for a coffee shop that we’ve partnered with in Irvine. They wanted to create content that would build their brand and help them be a part of their community.
With small budgets (like $20) we’ve been able to use promoted posts on Facebook to get massive reach and increase brand queries associated with their primary keyword: “coffee shop irvine”. You and your team can do these exact same types of content.
Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
- 10+ Dog Trails in (your city/county)
- Dates for Under $20 in (your city/county)
- Farmers’ Markets in (your city/county) That You Need to Visit This Weekend
- The Ultimate Guide To Craft Breweries in (your city/county)
7. Find Customer Who Are Active On Yelp to Avoid Filters
Nothing is more irritating than reviews you rightfully earned going to the “not recommended” filter. To save you time and pain, use the following tactic to find customers that are also Yelpers and do some outreach.
Here’s a great post by the local legend Mike Blumenthal that can help guide you through the process.
Here are some things that you need to avoid in order to avoid filters:
- Do not send clients a direct link to the page (Yelp can see this and know that you are asking for a review)
- Do not send an email blast (a large injection of reviews raises alerts)
- Do not have clients review the company from your place of business (gets filtered if reviews are coming from the same IP)
Lastly, to execute this tactic you must not use the "find friends" feature to ask them for a review; this is just to narrow down your clients who use Yelp.
Next, you can use Facebook or email to reach out to them for a review. Remember, do not email them all at once, and do not send a direct link! Typically, we ask clients by telling them to make the search themselves: "your business + yelp." Here is an example of what we send:
Hi Jon Doe,
I hope you had a great weekend. Did you ever have a chance to leave us a review? If not, we would really appreciate if you could leave us a stellar review on Yelp.
You can find our page by typing: “directive consulting yelp” and clicking on the first link.
I hope you have a great week!
Feel free to customize the message, but these tips will definitely help you avoid filters!
8. Always Have Facebook Ads Going in Your Neighborhood for Brand Awareness
Social branding and local SEO can be correlated. In the example above, we have been running Facebook ads on a small budget for this client for over two years. Now, we have successfully ingrained them as the leading service provider in their area, so that there is a direct correlation in the searcher’s mind: “If I need plumbing in Dana Point I go to Jeff Shaffer Plumbing.”
The ultimate goal for any local campaign is that over time, if someone offline asks a friend for a recommendation for what you offer, your name comes up. By having terrific ads running at all times, you drastically increase your chances of reaching local word-of-mouth nirvana.
9. Use Sticky Menus For Your Landing Pages
Sticky headers or menus allow you to keep your call to action visible at all times as a user scrolls. If you are using Unbounce, here is an easy script for you to use to set this up right away.
Keep it simple, but you are going to be able to get a boost from your landing page conversions. And as always, TEST TEST TEST.
10. Automate Your Social Media to Join In On Conversations in Your Shop
Staying up to date with your customers’ conversations on social media if you run a local business with foot traffic is tough. To help you out, we came up with a way to automate social media for you.
We made it simple for non-programmers like us and it only takes a Zapier account + Twitter to set it up.
The idea is that if someone in your location tweets something with your brand or your product’s name in it that your own Twitter account can respond to them with a variety of responses.
11. Leverage Call-Only Ads
We’ve talked about this before at WordStream, but if you are a local service business driving sales through phone calls, then call-only ads could be a lifesaver.
Call-only ads allow you to completely avoid the need for a landing page or a “leaky funnel.” If you do not have money for an ad team or custom landing pages, then call only ads give you a way to advertise directly to your customer with a singular focus: them calling you.
Be wary though: you will get calls that are not entirely qualified, so make sure to leverage amazing ad copy that clearly allows your target market to self-identify with your offer. Here are some examples:
12. Try Third-Person Ad Copy Instead of Talking About Yourself
Ever wonder how you can cut through the noise in the AdWords four-pack? How about talking in the third person?
We have experimented and seen higher CTR’s in ad copy that contains language that speaks to the customer in the third person. Here are some examples:
“We Hired Them To Do Our AC and It Was Perfect.”
“They Truly Are OC’s Best Plumber”
“I Am a Raving Fan After Their Customer Service. You Need to Try Them.”
By using language like this, your ad will immediately stand out from the competition and you can start to hack your CTR’s.
Our process is simple: Go to Yelp or GMB, read reviews from customers, copy and use in your AdWords ad copy. As always, test and re-test, but let us know how this works for you!
13. Add Relevant Local Info to Your Location Pages Using Wikipedia
Crafting killer local pages is a more of an art than a science. Beyond clarity and design, the relevance of the content on your page is hugely important. A great way to establish this relevance is by linking out.
Linking out to relevant local information is crucial in Google’s understanding of what you are associated with locally. To come up with ideas, we search: “city name + wikipedia” to come up with locally relevant ideas and talk about it in our page.
Here’s the basic template we follow:
- Keyword + city in title
- Talk about your history in the city and things you’ve been involved with in the community: link out.
- Talk about relevant partners or associated businesses. If you are a plumber talk about the different suppliers you use in the area. If you are a coffee shop talk about the places you buy your beans from.
- Talk about things that are relevant to what you do in your area. If you are a national lawyer, talk about the laws that are unique to that state. Here’s an example.
The key is that your page is useful, relevant, and builds a local bond with your searcher.
14. Set Up Detailed Radius Location Targeting in AdWords
Above is a simple explanation of Google AdWords radius targeting. At first, you might think it’s a no-brainer to set the target 2-5 miles around your store and call it quits.
Not so fast! Taking advantage of the radius targeting feature along with location bid adjustments is what will turn you into a targeting king.
Let’s pretend you are a specialty coffee shop in Irvine, CA. Yes, your coffee is so good that people should travel miles on end just for a sip. BUT, those same people are brainwashed by a mermaid and want something close/convenient. With that, your campaign should have targeting that directly correlates to the probability of a consumer visiting your store based off of their location.
Step 1: Create Your Locations
Let’s dive into the setup. Going along with our coffee shop example, we know that consumers are only willing to drive up to five miles to visit the store.
- Go to settings at the campaign level > all settings > edit locations > advanced search > radius targeting.
- Type in your address and select search.
- Add locations for a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 mile radius.
This is what the targeting map should look like when you are finished:
You know you are doing something right when your targeting is in fact a target!
Step 2: Collect Data
The most important part of this optimization strategy is using data to make your decisions. Now that the locations are placed in the campaign, you must give them time to collect clicks and more importantly, conversion data. Once your data reaches a significant level, you will then be able to perform the formula in step three and enter bid adjustments.
Step 3: Set Location Bid Adjustments
A location bid adjustment is the percentage you would like to adjust your bids for a given location. You can have an adjustment lower bids by setting it as negative, or raise bids by setting it as positive.
To input these location bid adjustments, go to your campaign settings and select the locations tab. Here you will see all of the radius locations that were just created in step one along with their performance data. You will notice a bid adjustment column (you will be using that one).
Here is the top secret formula that you should use to create your bid adjustments for each location.
Location Conversion Rate / Average Conversion Rate - 1 = Bid Adjustment
IMPORTANT: Bid adjustments will layer for a location within another location/locations. For example, ads showing in the 1 mile radius will have the 2, 3, 4, and 5 mile radius bid adjustments added up.
Here is an example of what actual bid adjustments will look like vs. the original adjustments that you will get from the formula above.
Formula Bid Adjustments: 1 mile: 50%, 2 mile 35%, 3 mile 20%, 4 mile 10%, 5 mile 0%
Actual Bid Adjustments: 1 mile: 15%, 2 mile 15%, 3 mile 10%, 4 mile 10%, 5 mile 0%
No conversion data?
First off, shame on you! The best thing you can do is go with the assumption that the further someone is from your store, the less likely they are to visit. With that, don’t set a bid adjustment for your 1 mile radius, and gradually scale negative bid adjustments for 2, 3, 4 and 5 mile.
15. Offer Emailed Mobile Coupons to Track Offline Conversion Intent
Offline conversion tracking is a daunting task and can often rely on the dependence of micro conversions (time on site, specific page visits, etc.). Lucky for you, we have the answer to all of your offline conversion tracking pains: Emailed mobile coupons! This is a coupon that the consumer can request via email and show on their phone when it’s time to purchase at your store.
Adding an emailed mobile coupon to your site is a great way to track both conversion intention and execution. You can add your paid traffic tracking script to the coupon request action to easily track purchase intention.
If you would like to take things one step further, build a custom landing page for this emailed mobile coupon and only show it to your paid traffic. That way, you can attribute all of your in-store transactions using the coupon to your paid efforts!
16. Show Approximate Distance from Store in Your Mobile Social Ads
Remember, your mobile campaigns are inherently...MOBILE. When advertising to mobile devices as a local business, make sure your ad copy has relevant info that helps your searcher complete their task.
As a local business you have an advantage over the national chains. They cannot, at scale, create hyper-local ads for each of their locations. Here are some tips to follow to take your ad copy to another level (read with Lil Jon voice):
- Use Google Search Console to find new ad group opportunities based on what’s driving search impressions
- Try including your Zip Code in the ad headline
- Talk about distance to your location
- Localize call out and extensions
Careful, your competitors won’t like you when you’re done stealing all their local CTR’s!
17. Create a “Get Directions” Page and Set Views as a Micro-Conversion
If you are a local business, such as a coffee shop, it can be incredibly difficult to tell if your online efforts are driving offline conversions.
To help make your life easier, simply set your “get directions” page or tab as a destination URL goal in Google Analytics. With this type of data, you can build a somewhat reliable attribution model for your paid efforts.
More ideally, however, I recommend comparing advertising channel spends with overall revenue growth. So, when we spent $1,000 on Yelp compared to $500, how much more revenue did we make? Was it worth it?
Start to notice trends and you can see where your dollar yields the greatest increase in marginal returns.
18. Create “Service Area” Hubs and Individual Location Pages to Boost Rankings
A clear site architecture for your location pages allows you to improve your internal linking structure and rank better organically. Furthermore, it can help you create a better user experience so that your users are not having to scroll through hundreds of pages and so you don’t have 10,000 footer links!
In addition, by linking from the menu you will have a more authoritative internal link compared to the footer.
Lastly, to take this to the next level, you can link to your county hubs from the bottom of the homepage and then create a unique physical location for each location and integrate into MozLocal.
19. Test Store-Front Images in Your Display and Retargeting Ads
You want to stand out in your advertising environment and make the user think: “Hey, I’ve seen that place.”
Big picture, if you are a local business that thrives on foot traffic you want to start to create a correlation between your online presence and your physical location. While copy like “Swing By Today” is catchy and needed, nothing ties the physical and the virtual together like a photo of your actual location.
Bonus Tip: Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Your Business Profile on Google is your local listing that appears in Google Maps, the local results of Google Search, and even the right-side Knowledge Panel on Google Search. Just as with ads and websites, Google ranks Business Profiles according to their relevancy to the search term and overall quality. This means that by optimizing your Business Profile, you can rank higher in local search, show up for more search terms, stand out from competitors, and even win more customers. To optimize your Google Business Profile, create a Google My Business account so you can access and manage the information in your listing. All of the attractive information you supply in your account dashboard will then populate in your Business Profile to boost its quality—and therefore your visibility in local search. Google My Business is not only a must-have for local businesses, but it's also free.
Still with me?
The idea with all these local marketing ideas is that you are able to cut through the noise and stand out from your competitors. These creative advertising and marketing ideas should be tested and either put to rest or elevated into the hall of fame. Feel free to share your own local marketing ideas in the comments below, and optimize on!
About the author
Garrett Mehrguth is the CEO of Directive Consulting, which provides local SEO services for small to mid-market companies. Garrett also teaches and speaks multiple times a month on SEO, content, and PPC throughout Orange County and Los Angeles, CA.