Local Marketing

Local digital marketing: What’s the best strategy for you?

When done right, digital marketing for local businesses can be a powerful way to boost revenue

Quick summary
  • Local digital marketing should be a key part of the overall marketing strategy for companies targeting customers in their area.
  • Digital marketing for local business doesn’t have to involve a huge investment and in some cases can be effectively run for next to nothing.
  • Semrush’s Listing Management tool gets your digital local marketing strategy up and running fast so you can start seeing results sooner.

With lower budgets and narrower demographic targets to hit, local digital marketing is fraught with unique challenges that require well-planned strategies in order to succeed.
When properly executed, digital local marketing can mean the difference between a booming business and a company nobody in the area has even heard of.
Not all local digital marketing suits all businesses, so it’s important to plan carefully and decide which is best suited for your business to achieve the maximum ROI.
But before we break down the main types of local digital marketing, let’s start with a brief overview.

What is local digital marketing?

Local digital marketing leverages online channels to attract customers in a local area. This can include search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, and local listings management.
In the past, local businesses were limited to buying ad space in local publications, handing out flyers or paying for expensive billboards and posters. But now, local audiences can be reached by more efficiently targeted local digital marketing campaigns.
Not only is digital local marketing a powerful tool for bringing more customers through your doors, it’s also a lot easier to track the return on your investment than with traditional channels.
A screengrab of Google Business Profile call performance to measure local digital marketing progress
A screengrab of Google Business Profile call performance to measure local digital marketing progress

Local digital marketing allows you to get a clear understanding of your ROI that traditional marketing methods lack.
Whether you start with one channel, a combination that complement each other or a full-scale local digital marketing strategy, it pays to use helpful tools to minimize errors and get going faster.

Semrush´s Listing Management tool offers a complete collection of local digital marketing tools to boost your online visibility and generate progress reports with ease.

Optimizing your website for search engines makes sense for most local businesses, considering how many people turn to sites like Google to help them find local products and services.

Google results for “best italian restaurants in Chicago”
Google results for “best italian restaurants in Chicago”

On top of optimizing your website, you should also pay special attention to your Google Business Profile and other directory listings.
These results actually appear above local organic results, so it really pays to make sure the information in these listings is complete, accurate and up to date.

Instead of creating profiles on dozens of directories to promote your local business, get it done in next to no time with Semrush´s Listing Management tool , which distributes your business listings to 70+ top directories without the hassle.

The beauty of PPC ad services like Facebook Ads and Google Ads is that you can target audiences in specific locations, as well as narrow it down by their interests and search intent.

A sponsored listing that appears for the Google search term “architect in north London
A sponsored listing that appears for the Google search term “architect in north London

PPC is a great local web marketing channel for shooting your business straight to the top of results above competitors with minimal effort.
Plus, you can retarget users who have made a transaction previously, visited your website, or engaged with your social media posts, which means you can show ads to people you know are already interested in what you have to offer. Creating compelling content about local topics will not only build trust with your local audience, but if you do your keyword research properly, it can also boost your local SEO.
Of course, you’ll want to create content around your business too, but consider attracting users by writing informative posts about your community so it doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.
For example, you could write a post on the best spots to visit in your town and mention your own business in the list. It’s not just movie stars and athletes that can earn a side income by promoting products on social media.
Local influencers might not have the same following as the likes of Selena Gomez, but they do have a niche audience tuning in to see what they have to say about the best products and services in their area.

A post promoting a restaurant from London local influencer Liv Purvis
A post promoting a restaurant from London local influencer Liv Purvis

One study found that influencer marketing is 87% more memorable than TV commercials , and more emotionally engaging.
Find local influencers by searching relevant hashtags, looking at top posts from your city or using an influencer discovery platform like BuzzGuru . It’s unlikely to be very impactful to simply promote your business in local Facebook groups.
Instead, engage with people on local topics and position your business as a valuable part of the community that cares about local issues.

A human interest post raising brand awareness in a local social media group
A human interest post raising brand awareness in a local social media group

Discounts and competitions tend to do well on local groups, but as they’re still of a salesy nature, try to limit them to one in every ten posts. Newspapers used to be one of the only options for local businesses to reach a wide audience. Now those publications have gone digital, there are even more opportunities to get eyes on your business.
Advertising packages often include exposure in both a newspaper’s print and online editions, and can also include social media mentions and sponsored posts.
But you don’t have to spend money to get decent exposure from local news outlets. Try crafting a compelling press release for an event or newsworthy headline about your company, like a large charitable donation, and you could get coverage for absolutely nothing.

A news article published after sending a press release about a local charity fundraiser
A news article published after sending a press release about a local charity fundraiser

If the news article is published online too, this could also lead to high-quality backlinks for an added local SEO bonus! Collecting emails from customers allows you to build your own audience that you can engage with for free without having to rely on social media algorithms or marketing budgets. Use promotions and irresistible free content downloads to get people to sign up and build a local audience you can rely on.
And instead of just pummeling your email list with pleas to visit your business, try nurturing them with an email sequence that offers them value: share stories about your business, make recommendations, and ask them to reply with their opinions.

Digital marketing for local business: Best practices

Local digital marketing is only effective when done properly, so there are a few things you’ll want to make sure you’re covering in your processes. Client personas are specific profiles of the audience you’re targeting so you can have a clear image of who you’re creating content and marketing material for.
Conduct interviews with your best customers and find out exactly what it is that led them to you in the first place and what pain points you solve for them. There are likely several local options available to them, so why did they choose you? Why do they keep coming back?
People make decisions based on emotion and justify it with logic, so it's important to work out the emotional drivers that make your customers want to do business with you so you can include them in your local digital marketing strategy. From Google Business Profiles to Facebook pages, consumers have plenty of opportunities to leave an opinion about your business.
Google reviews for an interior design studio in Denver that clearly understands good digital local marketing
Google reviews for an interior design studio in Denver that clearly understands good digital local marketing

Reviews are a great way to build your local reputation and improve your click-through rate, but it’s important to reply to all the feedback you’re getting so customers feel their opinion is valued.
Put a system in place to make sure you’re getting back to everyone, so both regular and new customers can see you’re a business that cares about learning and improving.

Quick replies: Keeping track of notifications from multiple platforms where customers are leaving reviews can be a real headache. Bring it all under one roof with Semrush´s Listing Management tool , which allows you to reply to reviews using one simple tool.

Mobile website designs are essential for local web marketing campaigns because a lot of people are on the go when they’re looking for products and services in their area.
Make sure your website loads quickly on mobile, the navigation is simple to use and that there are no links or buttons too close together.
Search engines favor websites that are mobile friendly and ignoring this is likely to cost you in lost rankings. People won’t be able to discover your local business if your NAP (name, address, phone number) data isn’t properly distributed.
Get your business listed in the top directories, including local ones, and make sure it’s all consistent.
You’ll also want your NAP data on your own website marked up with schema code to help search engines find it.

Don’t snooze on NAP data: Keeping track of all your listings and making sure there are no duplicate profiles is a 24/7 job. Semrush´s Listing Management tool takes care of this for you so you can make amendments and quickly suppress listings you don’t need.

When users land on your website, it should be clear that you specifically serve your area so they know they’re in the right place.
If you’re running a business that serves multiple locations, create landing pages with unique content for each area and direct local PPC ads to them, rather than the homepage.

Code to embed a map on Google Maps
Code to embed a map on Google Maps

Embed a Google Map on your localized landing pages to help users plan their visit and make it clear to search engines where you’re based. Before you launch your digital local marketing campaign, decide which metrics you’re going to track and make a report that shows where you’re starting from.
Local rankings are key metrics for local digital marketing, but you might also want to track calls, website clicks and direction requests.
Checking your positions by simply searching the keywords you’re competing for yourself isn’t going to cut it, you’ll need a local ranking checker that can give you objective average results.

Tracking you can trust: Instead of creating profiles on dozens of directories to promote your local business, get it done in next to no time with Semrush´s Listing Management tool , which distributes your business listings to 70+ top directories without the hassle.

The dangers of poor local digital marketing

Failing to create a proper strategy for your local digital marketing can negatively impact your local rankings and ruin your local reputation.
Overwhelmingly negative reviews for a hotel in London
Overwhelmingly negative reviews for a hotel in London

Refusing to engage with reviews and take feedback seriously all but guarantees you’ll be the last choice for users searching for businesses like yours in your area.
Poorly targeted ads and improper ad account management will just waste your budget on audiences that would never visit you. .
And if you don’t have a reliable way of tracking your local digital marketing, you'll have no idea if your investment is giving you any kind of return.
Fortunately, no small business needs to wade out into the choppy waters of local digital marketing alone when you can leverage powerful tools to keep your local digital marketing boat sailing smoothly.

Learn more about Local SEO: get up to speed on all aspects of local SEO with our Semrush Academy course .

Check your
local listings for free

Energize your digital local marketing with Semrush’s Listing Management tool

Make sure they know you’re here.

Distributing business listings should be the first step of a strong local web marketing campaign.
Building citations gets your NAP data out to multiple directories for both potential customers and search engines to browse, but publishing it all is easier said than done.
Semrush’s Listing Management builds citations on 70+ directories and all you have to do is upload your business’ details just once, saving you hours of monotonous data entry.
Correctly published citations that form part of a good local digital marketing strategy

Let your stars shine brightly.

When potential customers search for local products and services on Google, they’ll likely be presented with the Google 3-Pack (also known as the snack pack or map pack).
Users will often make their decision based on these three choices, and aside from the distance from their location, reviews will play a huge part in their selection process.
Semrush’s Listing Management is the local digital marketing tool you need to manage your reviews and make sure your profile stands out above your competitors.
Review progress displayed in Semrush’s local web marketing tool

Leave no room for errors.

Inconsistent citations are problematic for local web marketing campaigns because they confuse both users and the search engines that use them to determine rankings.
But short of logging into every available directory and checking there are no mistakes or duplicate profiles every day, it’s practically impossible to prevent conflicting data on your own.
Let Semrush’s Listing Management monitor your brand’s online presence and alert you to inconsistencies and duplicates so you can quickly correct them via the tool.
Possible duplicates found by Semrush’s Listing Management

Track your local digital marketing.

Launching a local digital marketing strategy without a plan to track relevant metrics makes it difficult to know if your hard work is benefitting your business or not.
And when it comes to digital local marketing, it really pays to go deeper to determine in which specific areas “near me” searches are triggering results for your business.
Premium Location subscribers have access to Heatmap, a special feature of Semrush’s Listing Management that maps local rankings on a grid so you know which areas aren’t seeing your business in Google’s 3-Pack.
Local rankings displayed in a grid via Semrush’s Heatmap tool
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