The rise of the World Wide Web has helped make the world more connected than ever before. You can run a business out of your house with little more than a laptop, reaching people as far away as the other side of the world.
And yet, at the same time, we all do things locally as well. Everyone lives somewhere, whether it's the heart of Manhattan, or a postage stamp town in rural Alabama with one stop light, a Wal-Mart, and not much else.
While it's true that ecommerce has had a profound effect on the way we shop, brick and mortar businesses aren't going anywhere. Restaurants, bars, hotels, boutiques, landscaping companies, specialty businesses like comic shops — all of these are local brick and mortar businesses.
And just like businesses that operate on a national or international scale, local businesses can benefit tremendously from smart digital marketing strategies.
Of course, the most effective ways of planning, executing, and refining a local business's marketing campaigns is different from how you'd market a location-independent company like a SaaS platform or online store.
The focus, after all, is local.
One of the things that can work wonders is content marketing.
Content marketing isn't just about blog posts, though these can be an integral part of your strategy.
It also involves visual media, like gorgeous food photography for a restaurant's Instagram.
Content is key, but what kind of content should you be creating? In a recent post from the Moz Blog, marketing agency president Mike Ramsey outlines how any local business can create and execute a successful content marketing strategy.
1. Identify your local audience
Most of you reading this will already have a service or product and hopefully local customers. Do you have personas developed for attracting and retaining more of them? Here are some helpful tools available to give you an idea of how many people fit your personas in any given market.
Pretend for a minute that you live in the unique market of Utah and have a custom wedding dress line. You focus on selling modest wedding dresses. It is a definite niche product, but one that shows the idea of personas very well.
You have interviewed your customer base and found a few interests that your customer base share. Taking that information and putting it into Facebook insights will give you a plethora of data to help you build out your understanding of a local persona.
[image source: Moz]
We are able to see from the interests of our customers there are roughly 6k-7k current engaged woman in Utah who have similar interests to our customer base.
The location tab gives us a break down of the specific cities and, understandably, Salt Lake City has the highest percentage with Provo (home of BYU) in second place. You can also see pages this group would like, activity levels on Facebook, and household income with spending habits. If you wanted to find more potential locations for future growth you can open up the search to a region or country.
[image source: Moz]
From this data it's apparent that Arizona would be a great expansion opportunity after Utah.
Neilson offers a free and extremely useful tool for local persona research called Zip Code Lookup that allows you to identify pre-determined personas in a given market.
Here is a look at my hometown and the personas they have developed are dead on.
[image source: Moz]
Each persona can be expanded to learn more about the traits, income level, and areas across the country with other high concentrations of the same persona group.
2. Create goals and rules
I think the most important idea for creating the goals and rules around your local content is the following from the must read book Content Strategy for the Web.
[image source: Moz]
You also need to ensure that everyone who will be working on things even remotely related to content has access to style and brand guides and, ultimately, understands the core purpose for what, why, and how everything is happening.
3. Audit and analyze your current local content
The point of this step is to determine how the current content you have stacks up against the goals and rules you established, and determine the value of current pages on your site. With tools like Siteliner (for finding duplicate content) and ScreamingFrog (identifying page titles, word count, error codes and many other things) you can grab a lot of information very fast. Beyond that, there are a few tools that deserve a more in-depth look.
With BuzzSumo you can see social data and incoming links behind important pages on your site. This can you a good idea which locations or areas are getting more promotion than others and identify what some of the causes could be.
Buzzsumo also can give you access to competitors' information where you might find some new ideas. In the following example you can see that one of Airbnb.com's most shared pages was a motiongraphic of its impact on Berlin.
[image source: Moz]
This is another great tool for scraping urls for large sites that can return about every type of measurement you could want. For sites with 1000s of pages, this tool could save hours of data gathering and can spit out a lovely formatted CSV document that will allow you to sort by things like word count, page authority, link numbers, social shares, or about anything else you could imagine.
4. Develop local content marketing tactics
Local landing page content
Our initial concept of local landing pages has stood the test of time. If you are scared to even think about local pages with the upcoming doorway page update then please read this analysis and don't be too afraid.
I not so secretly have a big crush on Airbnb's approach to local. These neighborhood guides started it. They only have roughly 21 guides thus far and handle one at a time with Seoul being the most recent addition. The idea is simple, they looked at extremely hot markets for them and built out guides not just for the city, but down to a specific neighborhood.
Every decently sized city has had a plethora of infographics made about them. People spent the time curating information and coming up with the concept, but a majority just made the image and didn't think about the crawlability or page title from an SEO standpoint.
Think like a local directory
Directories understand where content should be housed. Not every local piece should be on the blog. Look at where Trip Advisor's famous “Things to Do” page is listed. Right on the main city page.
Ideas of things that are local:
- Sports teams
- Local celebrities or heroes
- Groups and events
- Local pride points
- Local pain points
Ideas of things that are useful:
- Favorite local sports
- Granular details only “locals” know
5. Create a content calendar
I am not going to get into telling you exactly how or what your content calendar needs to include. That will largely be based on the size and organization of your team and every situation might call for a unique approach. What I will do is explain how we do things at Nifty.
- We follow the steps above.
- We schedule the big projects and timelines first. These could be months out or weeks out.
- We determine the weekly deliverables, checkpoints, and publish times.
- We put all of the information as tasks assigned to individuals or teams in Asana.
6. Launch and promote content
My personal favorite way to promote local content (other than the obvious ideas of sharing with your current followers or outreaching to local influencers) is to use Facebook ads to target the specific local personas you are trying to reach.
7. Measure and report
This is another very personal step where everyone will have different needs. At Nifty we put together very custom weekly or monthly reports that cover all of the plan, execution, and relevant stats such as traffic to specific content or location, share data, revenue or lead data if available, analysis of what worked and what didn't, and the plan for the following period.
There is no exact data that needs to be shared. Everyone will want something slightly different, which is why we moved away from automated reporting years ago (when we moved away from auto link building… hehe) and built our report around our clients even if it took added time.
You can read more about content marketing for local businesses over at Moz.