Today’s global economy is bigger, more interconnected, and competitive than ever before. That’s largely due to the internet, which has all but erased borders and dramatically increased the speed and scale of global commerce. It hasn’t been beneficial to everyone, however.
For small businesses, the internet is something of a double-edged sword. It has leveled the marketing playing field, while simultaneously opening small local markets up to international competition. At first, it seemed that the only way for small businesses to compete was to trim their margins and do whatever it took to compete on price. Today, however, small businesses have a new option – to exploit their local bona fides with a local digital marketing strategy.
It’s the one area where small businesses have a clear and unshakable advantage. They have the ability to get to know their customers in a way that larger and far-flung rivals can’t and to use the knowledge they gain to deliver extra benefits and a killer customer experience. One of the best ways to do that is to execute a blended location-based marketing effort that leverages the latest technology to reach customers in innovative ways. Here are three forward-looking ways to do just that.
Use Augmented Location
Most people expect that the next evolution of digital marketing will involve messaging that’s based on pure proximity. By that, I mean advertising and other marketing tools that are triggered when a consumer nears a specified location. For example, a clothing store might trigger a sale notification when a particular customer is within five miles of their location. While that might deliver some results, it’s the kind of strategy that would work far better with one added element: context.
In practice, this means using customer data to make sure that messaging arrives at the right time. Imagine the above scenario, but with the added context that the consumer was passing nearby because they were headed to work. In that situation, no sale (no matter how irresistible) is going to lure that customer in. Instead, they’ll feel like they keep missing out on offer after offer. To avoid that situation, businesses can use a blend of customer-provided data (from surveys and the like) and information gleaned from mobile devices (such as finding patterns in available GPS data) to make sure that their messages arrive right when the consumer is primed to hear them.
Another excellent component of an effective local marketing strategy is to connect with consumers using hyperlocal content. To do it, small businesses can create compelling stories centered on interactions they have with consumers and the community, and share them via social media channels. It’s well known that people tend to identify more with real-world stories than they do with generic, mass-appeal crafted messaging.
Small businesses can start making inroads here by creating a “customer stories” series in print or via Instagram or Facebook Live video, with the goal of letting the customers themselves provide the marketing message. This approach creates a personal connection between the customers and the business that’s difficult to replicate in any other medium. It also provides a fantastic feedback system that the business can mine for information on how well they’re meeting their broader customer experience goals.
Localized Mobile Apps
Today’s mobile consumers spend more time on smartphones and other mobile devices than ever before – but they’re not visiting mobile web sites all that much. Most of their usage time is spent in a variety of apps that cater to their specific wants and needs, and especially shopping apps. Small businesses can take advantage of that by building a custom app for their market that offers features tailored to the user’s location. Today, it’s possible to create such an app with no prior programming experience and without much cost, so this is among the easiest strategies to execute in local marketing. This is also a strategy that should only increase in importance, as experts predict a coming surge in the use of wearable technology that will open up new advertising opportunities for businesses.
A Multifaceted Approach
If it’s not already apparent, all of the strategies outlined above should deliver high performance and excellent marketing ROI. What’s more, they can also be used together for even greater effect. For example, a custom localized mobile app makes a great hub for hyperlocal content and a perfect conduit for augmented location marketing. Ideally, small businesses can bundle all three together to create a multifaceted local marketing powerhouse that gives them a huge advantage in their market.
It’s also the perfect time to start exploring such forward-looking strategies. Since they’re the type of approaches that are still uncommon in the market, gaining a foothold now can help a small business to cement their position while promoting their brand as the kind of ahead-of-the-curve organization that consumers now gravitate toward. In short, there’s a ground-floor type of opportunity here that small businesses can exploit to great effect – if they embrace local marketing with a technological edge now before their competitors beat them to the punch.