Strategy #1: Get Listed
When it comes to local marketing for small businesses, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The typical components of a digital strategy are effective individually, however many of these components—which include local listings, SEO, online display ads, social media, and geo-targeted pay-per-click campaigns—are more powerful when they’re managed together as part of an integrated local digital strategy. In this new series from Mediative, all five areas will be explored, with tips and strategies for each.
Small businesses are expected to spend more than $50 billion on local media this year, but whether a merchant is actually successful at acquiring new customers usually has more to do with the channels he or she uses than the amount being spent on any single marketing component.
Nearly one in five merchants pinpoint local listings as the one area of local digital marketing where they could use the most help
In a survey of SMBs conducted by Street Fight Insights and Thrive Analytics, nearly one in five merchants (18%) pinpointed local listings as the one area of local digital marketing where they could use the most help. Specifically, these merchants said they’re looking for guidance in getting accurate listings information published in online directories.
U.S. consumers make 7.6 billion searches for local information each month, and yet more than $10 billion in potential business sales is lost annually due to inaccurate business listings. Although statistics regarding the percentage of erroneous listings can vary, some researchers have pegged the number of listings containing errors, such as incorrect addresses, business names, or telephone numbers, as high as 43%.
The situation is even more dire in Canada, where researchers from the digital marketing firm Mediative found that 80% of Canada‘s top retailers have inaccurate local listings. (Click here to download the full report.)
That’s one of the reasons why merchants like Brendan Madigan, owner of Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, Calif., say local listing management is an important component in their larger digital marketing strategies. “If you’re not [managing your listings], you’re leaving holes in the dike, so to speak. So many people want to contact your business … and if you’re late to the party, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot,” he says.
Rather than tackling the individual components in an online marketing strategy as they come, Madigan has developed an integrated strategy that includes both offline and online platforms. Madigan’s digital strategy involves social media, contests, and online advertising, along with a local listings management component that has him regularly visiting listings websites to make sure the information about his business is accurate. Madigan estimates that he spends between six and 10 hours each week managing his digital marketing initiatives.
Being able to effectively manage local listings is a fundamental basic for small businesses, and it’s an important first step in developing a successful local marketing strategy. Here are three ways that local merchants can ensure they’re getting it right:
1. Start with the big dogs.
Local business information can be found on hundreds of online directories, however there are four main aggregators that merchants should make sure to watch closely. Infogroup, Axiom, Neustar Localeze, and Factual are four of the largest data aggregators. The listings displayed on these sites are distributed across the web.
2. Keep online fingerprints consistent.
A local business’s fingerprints are its name, address, and phone number. Merchants must make sure these markers are consistent across all listings and directory sites. Not only do inconsistencies hurt consumers—which is an important piece of the puzzle—but they also lead to poorer Google search rankings.
3. Find a partner.
Most merchants don’t have the time to manually check their local listings for accuracy. For these merchants, technology partners can fill the void. Vendors like Yext, UBL, and Locu, among many others, offer services to distribute business information across multiple business directories and networks like Facebook and Yelp. For business owners who are interested in a hands-off approach to local digital marketing, these technology partners can be an excellent solution.