1. Research competitors and work out how to differentiate yourself

Competitor research is important because as a local business, you’ll want to be able to offer additional value in the market. Google Search is a great place to start. You can see how your competitors are positioning themselves within their ads.

Here are some methods of differentiation you could use as per MarketResearch.com:

  • Product – most notable but easily duplicated and could be short-lived
  • Service – training, installation, speed, ease of doing business etc
  • Distribution – suppliers, manufacturers, distributors or retailers you work with
  • Relationship – employees and customer service could be an effective means to differentiate. Perhaps add a review service such as a Trustpilot rating
  • Image/Reputation – this can be established through your current customers who can later become your advocates
  • Price – again, this can easily be duplicated. However, depending on your product, customers may choose to pay more if there is an added value in doing business with you

2. Get your website basics right

Online users are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of the experience they expect from a website. They want a fast loading website as a minimum requirement. As a local business, you may not have the budget of the bigger, national or international firms, but you can at the very least get the basics right.

From the above stats, you can see how much of an effect a slow website can have on your chances of converting new users into customers. Page speed or page load time is becoming ever more important as we shift to a more mobile-first world with slower 3G internet connections. Google PageSpeed Insightsshows you how you can reduce the loading time of your website.
You can test your website’s mobile speed with Google’s free tool and see how you could decrease bounce rates.

3. Spend some time to improve Google My Business listing and customer reviews.

Your online reputation as a small business owner could be the deciding factor when a prospective customer is searching for your product/service. Luckily, with Google My Business, you have a level of control when it comes to managing how people perceive your business. My colleague, Stan Dunthorne, has created the easy guide to optimising your Google My Business listing.

Some of the common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Duplicate listings
  • Setting up unnecessary new listings after a change of address
  • Business name misuse e.g. adding unnecessary promotional messages

Customer reviews aren’t anything new, but you would be surprised as to how often this is overlooked. 30% of people said reviews were key when judging local businesses so I would ensure this as a top priority as part of your digital marketing strategy.

4. Spend some time to create interesting blog content.

If you’re in a very competitive industry – and most local businesses are – you would need to think about a content strategy that will drive results. Working with smaller businesses, it’s often the case that it’s highly unlikely to rank on the first page of Google for a broad term related to their product/service.

For example, “Plumbing Nottingham” would be near impossible if you’re just entering the market.

Firstly, this would require a large budget and resources that wouldn’t make achieving this affordable. Secondly, ranking for a broad term may not eventually lead to more customers. This is where your blog content plays an important role.

Write the perfect blog post with this blogging guide from Rebecca Bull.

Tips include:

  • Putting the audience first
  • Making sure it’s SEO friendly
  • Correct tone of voice
  • Showing readers they can trust you

Some more tips in this article from November.

5. Improve your email marketing strategy.

Another digital strategy fundamental for your small business is email marketing. Click here for some tips.

There is a really comprehensive email marketing guide from Simply Business which ensures you cover all the essential email marketing questions. Some of which are:

  • Do you know the legal side of email marketing?
  • Have you chosen a provider?
  • Do you know what your competitors are doing?
  • Do you know how to craft an effective email?

The guide also includes checklists, provider comparisons and split testing guidance.

If you are struggling with this area or need to solidify your knowledge, you can also complete a free email marketing certification course from HubSpot.

With thanks to: Hallam Internet