Six steps for local business digital growth
By Ravi Kumar
Local small businesses account for nearly 30% of GDP and employ over 100 million people in India. While search trends for local and “near me” terms have grown exponentially, the turnaround in those searches is also promising.
According to statistics shared by many trend watchers and analysts:
- Google trends for “nearby” searches are said to have increased 1.6 times in just one year.
- Nearly half of internet searches are for finding local information.
- A significant number of searches for any business occur within the locality (usually within 5 miles).
- Mobile searches are more transaction-prone and result in a store visit or purchase.
The question is, “Is your business part of this trend?” Here’s a six-step process to bring local search to your business and reap the benefits of digital as you grow:
Google business listing
Your Google business listing is the first and most visible online site for your local business. Setting up your business profile on Google is completely free and gives your store or office an instant online presence, as well as a location marker on the map.
A Google Business Profile lets you create content, share offers, interact with customers, and help them find you and your business. The best part is that you don’t need any technical expertise or even a computer for this.
Open your smartphone and start creating your Google business profile. At the same time, start local SEO and run local search ads to improve your visibility for relevant searches. Riding the growth of nearby searches, a leading e-commerce brand in India increased its ROI by 1.3x with a 1.7x increase in traffic.
Social networks and hyperlocal targeting
Facebook is the second most popular online platform and the most popular social media platform. With nearly 3 billion users globally and 330 million users in India, you can rely on Facebook to find relevant consumers.
A presence on Facebook also offers a more informal or intimate way to engage with your consumers. Hyperlocal targeting is another way to use social media to leverage your local business. Use social media influencers in your locality to broadcast your presence to specific audiences.
Additionally, your presence on Facebook benefits your other digital assets, including a website, if you plan to have one.
Create a website
A website means you are serious about growing. Building a website strengthens your online presence. A website gives you a chance to grow your market by engaging users who have not yet identified your brand or your solutions.
Your website will be the ultimate trust booster for your consumers. You may think of a website as a technology-intensive business, which is no longer the case. You can start your website building journey even without any technical knowledge.
HubSpot, WordPress, Google Sites, Strikingly, Wix, etc. allow you to create a website without having to worry about hosting and domain registration.
Remember that the purpose of a business website is to increase transparency. So be sure to include all the details in the appropriate places.
Reviews, ratings and conversations
While social media pages like Facebook and Instagram can be a great way to connect and hear your consumers’ opinions, you also need a one-on-one communication channel. And it’s not just a subjective need or a valuable asset:
- WhatsApp has a 70% open rate, twice that of email.
- E-commerce platforms saw more than 50% growth in new orders after using WhatsApp for business.
- Over 70% of customers check online reviews and ratings before deciding on a purchase.
- Major brands saw over 100% growth in consumer engagement.
- Conversational marketing is the next step in digital.
“While big brands spend money building chatbots and developing advanced AI chatbots, small businesses can simply use WhatsApp to drive conversations absolutely free,” says Ravi Kumar, CEO of MadHawks, a digital marketing agency based in Gurugram.
“If you can spend some money, you can also integrate the chatbot API with WhatsApp and turn it into a 24/7 customer service,” adds Ravi.
Distributing flyers, putting up posters and setting up kiosks were staples for local businesses to get their message across. Although the true return on investment of these methods has always been difficult to determine. However, digital channels are not so obscure.
You can serve ads and check their effectiveness, conversions, and other related metrics near real-time. Still, the best part is that you can target and retarget your target audience. Thus, maximizing the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.
You can use Facebook’s in-store traffic ads to drive traffic to your real store and Google’s local search ads to drive visits to your clinic/boutique/store.
More than ads, videos are great pieces of content. Creating engaging video content can work as brand advertising on its own (organically). Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., are a few channels where informative and entertaining video content works well.
Additionally, the content allows you to collaborate with companies with similar interests or those that share synergies with you. For example, a pizza place collaborating with a delivery company or a vehicle showroom sharing informative content with insurers and lenders.
These six steps are the pillars of building your digital presence as a local business. Your digital story is unlikely to end there. In fact, these are the first six steps to a strong digital presence. With ongoing trends, you can keep adding more strategic and long-term plans to turn your digital presence into a business.
The author is the founder, MadHawks