9 Fresh Local Marketing Tips for 2019

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Written by Michael Del Gigante

Today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape has led to significant changes in the way local businesses connect with customers. Shifts in consumer behavior, tools, and approaches have made it essential for local businesses to keep up with the latest marketing trends.

So, what techniques and tools are worth watching in 2019? The team at MDG Advertising sifted through recent surveys and research reports to find out, using the data we found to predict which tactics will take center stage. Here are nine key marketing trends that every local business should consider this year.

1. The Significance of Online Reviews and Ratings

Most local business owners know that receiving stellar online reviews and ratings is a great way to attract new customers. Consumers increasingly rely on crowdsourced content to make buying decisions, with 86 percent of U.S. consumers regularly looking at online reviews when choosing a local business. This means that earning great reviews is now essential to your local marketing plan.

If your goal is to attract younger customers, online reviews are especially important—research revealed that 91 percent of these customers trust an online review just as much as they would a personal recommendation.

2. Leveraging Customer Reviews for SEO

A series of great online reviews has a positive impact on your business’s reputation, but it can also influence other areas of your digital marketing strategy.

One key area is local search engine optimization (SEO). According to Search Engine Watch, Google uses high ratings and favorable reviews to determine which local businesses are displayed more prominently in search results. Businesses without a significant number of good ratings and reviews may find themselves less visible to potential customers.

3. Kick-Starting Digital Efforts with Google My Business

If you’re launching a digital strategy in 2019, you may be unsure of where to begin. This is where Google My Business comes in: a hub for creating and managing online profiles, Google My Business is an essential tool for local marketers that features integration with Google’s search engine and maps.

During an analysis of local search ranking factors, Moz discovered that Google My Business elements—including categories and specific keywords—have a significant impact on both local pack and organic results. Be sure to keep your Google My Business page updated with a current address, relevant keywords, and recent photos.

4. Gaining Social Proof Through Facebook Recommendations

Social media platforms—especially Facebook—also influence customers’ decision-making. Facebook has been actively encouraging users to post reviews through several product changes, including enhanced Business Pages, an improved search tool, and options for businesses that highlight sales and special events.

Most significant is Facebook’s addition of Recommendations, which allows users to suggest brands they like by adding photos, tags, and written posts. “Social proof” is valuable to customers, and these tools are likely to become more popular in the year ahead.

5. Improved Online-to-Offline Conversion Tracking

Are your digital strategies yielding results? Connecting digital efforts to real-world actions can be challenging for marketers, who often are unsure whether their digital approaches are working.

Fortunately, bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds is becoming easier due to product improvements. Google and Facebook have both implemented more robust offline conversion tracking tools, allowing local businesses to better track the success of their campaigns. These tools are expected to become even more advanced as the year progresses.

6. Mobile Loading Times Matter

On-the-go consumers value fast-loading pages when searching for information on their mobile devices, and often become disengaged when a page takes too long to materialize. Google has taken notice—the firm announced in 2018 that mobile site speed would be a factor in determining search rankings.

This announcement compelled many firms to optimize their mobile sites, leading to a decrease in average load time by seven seconds. Despite this improvement, it still takes 15 seconds for the average mobile page to fully load—which is still too long to keep customers engaged.

7. Targeting Local Customers with Tracking Tools and Ads

It’s often said that “location, location, location” can determine a local business’s success, and this has become even more true due to advances in mobile technology. Now, businesses can connect customers with relevant businesses and offers using location-based data.

Businesses also can engage customers using sophisticated ad targeting tools, which allow them to customize ads according to their target consumer’s location. As these tools are further developed, eMarketer predicts that location-based mobile ad spend will double over the next four years.

8. Boosting Brand Recognition with Local Events

Sometimes it pays to think outside the box when it comes to engaging local customers. During a recent survey of 800 local marketers, local events (trade shows, festivals, etc.) and hosted events (classes, seminars, etc.) were considered effective marketing tactics. However, they also were considered two of the most difficult tactics to implement.

Event marketing can help you build stronger relationships with customers, but the high effort means that it should be used judiciously. While showcasing your brand at a local event may not always be efficient, a well-executed strategy may reap rewards.

9. Ending the Digital vs. Traditional Debate

As new digital platforms and devices have become more popular, local marketers have debated whether traditional ad channels would eventually disappear. This year, the answer seems clear: digital is here to stay. Young audiences spend more time streaming videos than watching television. This led to declining ad spend on traditional channels, but that seems to have stabilized.

According to a recent survey, 74 percent of small- and medium-sized business owners use a combination of digital and traditional advertising tactics. Cross-channel bundles are also popular as brands determine which mix of approaches works for them.

These trends reveal that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to marketing a local business—marketers must choose the tactics that best complement their brand’s goals. Ultimately, implementing a smart strategy that engages customers with relevant information is always on trend.

About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising

In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.