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Updated Oct 27, 2023

7 Ways to Conduct Local Marketing Online

Keeping your advertisements close to home has great benefits.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Verified Check With BorderEditor Reviewed
Verified Check With Border
Editor Reviewed
This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Marketing and advertising on the internet, which was once the domain of geographically unrestricted firms that benefited from its global reach, is now a great way for businesses to target a local audience. But how can you make sure your digital marketing and advertising efforts really reach your local audience and not some far-flung users who won’t ever be your customers? Here’s what you should know about using the internet to advertise your business to local audiences.

What is the current digital local marketing landscape?

Localized search engine marketing has long been a huge component of local digital marketing. As such, the current localized search engine marketing landscape can hint at the state of the entire local digital marketing landscape. A recent BrightLocal survey of 400 local marketers did exactly that.

According to the survey, 42% of respondents think local search engine optimization (SEO) will continue to be successful in the future. The survey also found that local marketing agencies have an average of 19 clients, which is higher than for national agencies, web design agencies and freelancers. Additionally, most clients work with local marketing agencies for three to five years, signaling just how effective digital local marketing can be.

The BrightLocal survey identified Google Business profile optimization as the most commonly offered local search engine marketing service. Content creation optimization came in second, followed by SEO audits and analysis, on-site optimization, and citation building and editing. You can incorporate these approaches into your own strategy for advertising your business locally.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Local marketing experts expect that localized search engine marketing will continue to be an effective long-term strategy.

Best channels for local advertising and marketing

The following channels are known to be effective for local a dvertising and marketing.

1. Search engine marketing

As of 2022, 266.7 million Americans shop online (the vast majority of the U.S. population). Consumers often start their shopping with a search engine query. That’s why search engine marketing is so effective for local advertising. If your website and content are compelling and rich with keywords related to your local area and target audience, you can appear in relevant searches.

Local search engine marketing starts with optimizing your website and content. It also involves creating new content that ties into trending customer searches. You may need the help of a content marketing agency or an online reputation management (ORM) firm to get the best results. Visit our guide to choosing a reputation management service to learn more, or start with our Podium review; this platform can help you obtain Google Business reviews.

2. Social media marketing

You’ve probably noticed a lot of ads in your social media feeds. Your business can reach nearby customers in these ad spaces. You can also reach customers through non-advertising content. 

For example, you can sponsor one of your social posts or create brief, compelling copy that pairs with an eye-catching photo. Using nonpaid content is a longer-term, lower-cost, more complex strategy. Experts suggest maintaining your brand voice across all your posts, consistently uploading content, and running analytics on your posts to track engagement. If you keep doing what’s working well to build your presence with customers, it could result in more sales.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is a tried-and-true way to reach customers, especially since 4.26 billion people use email, according to 99 Firms. That’s more than half the world’s population, imposing a sky-high limit on your potential audience size. Americans are especially tuned in to their email inboxes: 72% check their email at some point between waking up and starting their workday, according to Sleep Advisor.

You’ll typically have an easy time marketing via email. For starters, email marketing software is often highly user-friendly, even for first-timers. In addition, marketing automation software can deliver emails when customers take certain actions. Visit our best email marketing software page to learn more and find the right platform for your business.

4. Text message marketing

You can reach 97% of U.S. adults by text, according to the Pew Research Center, making text message marketing a powerful way to put your business out there. Some text message (or SMS) marketing platforms also include automation features that rival those of email marketing. SMS marketing is also great for distributing quick customer surveys that can inform your future marketing efforts.

Visit our best text message marketing services page to find the right platform for your business. Or, start with our ProTexting review if you’re new to text message marketing and ease of use is a priority.

5. Coupons or direct mail

Sure, direct mail marketing isn’t internet-based, and this is a guide to advertising locally through the internet. But direct mail can help you capitalize on an effective internet strategy. In fact, a 2020 MarketingCharts survey found that direct mail campaigns, when used alongside other marketing channels, yield a higher return on investment (ROI). Among the people surveyed, 59% said using direct mail led to a good ROI, and 7% said their ROI was very good. 

Our guide to direct mail marketing can help you get started with this tried-and-true form of advertising.

6. Online listings

You can list your company for free on dozens of websites that customers might search to find the products or services they need. These include prominent examples, such as Google Business, Facebook and Yelp. They also include lesser-known websites, like TomTom, Judy’s Book and Hotfrog. You can also look for free listing websites that are specific to your industry and create listings there.

7. Banner and display advertising

Every time you scroll through a website and encounter ads, you’re seeing display ads. You might also see similar ads above the website’s menu at the top of the page. These are banner ads. You can create these types of ads to target local customers. 

You’re best off creating a banner or display ad campaign through Google Ads. This platform gives you the tools you need to launch effective campaigns without having to reach out to any websites for ad placements. You’ll just need high-quality images, logos, headlines, descriptions and videos. After you submit your ad, it will typically go live within one business day.

How much do small businesses spend on local internet advertising?

BIA Advisory Services has predicted that local internet ad spending will total $85 billion in 2022. This figure is 49% of the $173.3 billion that BIA predicts will be spent on all forms of local advertising. Additionally, BIA predicts that, in 2023, local internet ad spending will outweigh nondigital local ad spending. The agency has identified finance, insurance, retail, leisure and auto as industries that spend highly on local internet ads.

Finding the customers in your backyard

You no longer have to step outside to find customers in your area. Instead, you can use the internet to reach the folks just around the corner. Pretty much any internet marketing tool you might use to reach a national market has local applications, too. And with everything you’ve learned from this guide, you’re in a great position to find new local customers, right from your computer.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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