10 Ways to Find Local Customers Online

The benefits of targeted local marketing, like the advantages of using a memorable local number, are too numerous to explain in one short blog post.

That provides plenty of reasons to experiment with hyper-targeted online marketing tactics, but can also make it difficult to know where to start. Thankfully we've spent a lot of time with that kind of targeting and are happy to share our experience to ave you time (and money!) Today we'll identify ten ideas for targeting customers by their location, and some of the best marketing tools available to help you find and close new customers in your area.

google maps business poster 


Use Geo-Targeting for Your Marketing

Geo-targeting simply means using location-based signals to tune-in to your customers where they are and communicate a marketing message, by one of several smart online tools. With the massive expansion of mobile devices that can broadcast where they are being used, the real-time location of the user is being shared more frequently and across a variety of apps and online platforms. This opens up an completely new route to customers, often at a point when they're close to a retail location and open to hearing about the products or services your business provides. Geo-targeted marketing should attract their attention just at that moment, using paid promotions, automated messaging generated by their device apps, or manually monitoring the web channels that consumers use to share their location. This gives small business marketers an opportunity to leverage local advantages and close customer services, but also presents a complex marketing challenge: how to pick the right platforms, tune into the right conversations, and identify the most relevant opportunities out of the thousands of location-based signals that potential customers can send.

Setting a radius for geotargeting


10 Ways to Start Scouting Local Customer Signals

To start scouting location-based signals and build geo-targeted marketing into your mix, consider these ten tips:: 

1. Set Your Area: How far are your customers likely to travel to see you? Answering this question will help to not only define your tracking, but also to stop you alienating potential customers who are simply too far away to consider your business.

2. Tweet Local : Twitter's advanced search has a 'Places' filter that helps you to track tweets in relation to the name of a town or zip code. Spend some time creating an effective search for your business to find those talking about your business, industry, and competitors. If you catch people complaining about a service or even just expressing a general interest in your field, you have a unique opportunity to connect with a potential customer in your area.

3. Map Your Instagram: The Facebook-owned photo platform is growing in popularity and potential customers may be taking photos of your business and others near you, whether you know it or not. Thankfully you can easily browse images by location without having to have a full profile for your business. If you do create one, however, it's a great way to start a conversation with someone who has already shown an interest in your business, by asking them for permission to use their photo or complimenting their image.

4. Place Your Pins: If you're expanding your business Pinterest profile, don't forget to tag new pins with locations and, where relevant, include that location in the pin description. Users increasingly search by including geographical terms or filters, making it more likely that you'll connect with potential customers in your area when you combine images of what you do with details about where you are.

5. Find on Foursquare, Talk on Twitter: Perhaps you have one or both of these already, but used together they can be a valuable way to automatically track who is checking into your business. Admittedly these folks are already with you, but acknowledging them will allow you to connect with them on Twitter, aid customer retention, and also share their presence so that others note the location. There are also local SEO benefits to claiming your business on Foursquare.

6. Build Your Twitter Lead List: Using steps 2 and 5, you'll start to identify a number of potential (and current) customers tweeting in your area. Although some are ready to be communicated with immediately, others may simply be leads by virtue of their general interests or connection to others who already do business with you. Add them to a Twitter list that you can monitor and start a conversation (or help them out) when the time is right.

7. Use a Local Vanity Number: Having a familiar area code helps potential callers to place your business and connect when they feel more comfortable with that number. It's an eye catching marketing angle that can help to filter your leads down to the most appropriate for your location (or be used to channel potential customers in different areas to the right branch of your business more efficiently.)

8. Go Local on Google+: Your business needs to be on Google+ for many other locally-related reasons that we'll come to in future posts. For now, just know that it's a platform that will most likely be key to building your local business reputation online. Getting started with a profile now will help, and you can begin to use the 'circles' feature on Google+ to keep track of only those in your defined area. When the time comes, you'll be able to target information and promotions to just those in your local circles, building a relevant regional relationship to move them closer to doing business with you.

9. Pay to Get Found on Facebook: The advertising solution on Facebook is more sophisticated than ever before, to the point that you can promote your business page and your posts there by specific town and zip codes. As well as targeting towns, you can set varied mile radius settings to different posts and ads to learn how far your message if effective before results start falling away. This can be handy when you're working on tip number one to define your area.

10. Stay On Top of Trends: Perhaps most importantly because the location-based marketing and mobile field moves so fast, it's vital for businesses to keep track of mobile trends. By understanding when developments like beacon technology and location-based push text messaging hit their stride, it makes it that much easier to take advantage of them in the early and more affordable stages.

These are some early steps to start your connections with local customers who are open to online communications, whether they're new to your business or loyal customers with whom you're reinforcing a relationship. Combined with your wider online marketing strategy to build out a local business presence, your small business marketing will see a significant boost without spending too much money to get there.

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