Six steps for the digital growth of local businesses

By Ravi Kumar

Local small businesses account for almost 30% of GDP and employ more than 100 million people in India. While search trends for local and “near me” terms have shown exponential growth, the turnaround of these searches is also promising.

According to statistics shared by many analysts and trend watchers:

  • Google trends for “near me” searches reportedly grew 1.6x in just one year.
  • Nearly half of Internet searches are for local information.
  • A significant number of searches for any business are made from within the locality (typically within a 5-mile radius).
  • Mobile searches are more transaction skewed 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 in your growth:

Google Business Listing

Your Google business listing is the first and most visible place online 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 allows you to create content, share offers, engage with customers, and help them find you and your business. The best part is that you don’t need any technical experience 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. Leveraging growing searches near me, a leading Indian eCommerce brand increased its ROI by 1.3x with a 1.7x increase in traffic.

Social networks and hyperlocal segmentation

Facebook is the second most popular online platform and the most popular social media platform. With nearly 3 billion users worldwide and 330 million users in India, you can trust Facebook to find relevant consumers.

A Facebook presence also offers a more casual 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 targeted audiences.

Plus, your Facebook presence benefits your other digital assets, including a website, if you plan to have one.

build a website

A website means you are seriously considering growth. Building a website solidifies your online presence. A website gives you the opportunity to grow your market by engaging users who have not yet identified your brand or solutions.

Your website will be the best confidence booster for your consumers. It may feel like a website is a high-tech company, 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 going through the pain of hosting and domain registration.

Remember, 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 feedback from your consumers, you also need a one-on-one channel of communication. And this is not just a subjective need or a good asset to have:

  • WhatsApp has a 70% open rate, double that of emails.
  • E-commerce platforms have seen more than 50% growth in new orders after using WhatsApp for Business.
  • Over 70% of customers check reviews and ratings online before deciding on a purchase.
  • Big brands have seen over 100% growth in consumer engagement.
  • Conversational marketing is the next stage of digital.

“While the biggest brands spend money building chatbots and developing advanced AI chatbots, small businesses can simply use WhatsApp to spark conversations for absolutely free,” says Ravi Kumar, CEO of MadHawks, a Gurugram based digital marketing agency.

“If you can spend a little money, you can also integrate the chatbot API with WhatsApp and turn it into a 24/7 customer service,” adds Ravi.

run ads

The distribution of brochures, the placement of posters and the installation of kiosks have been basic elements for local businesses to transmit their message. Although the real ROI of these methods has always been difficult to determine. However, digital channels are not so dark.

You can run ads and check their effectiveness, conversions, and other relative metrics in 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 Shop Traffic Ads to drive traffic to your actual store and Google Local Search Ads to drive visits to your clinic/shop/store.

create content

More than just ads, videos are great content assets. Creating engaging video content can work as an advertisement for the brand itself (organically). Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. are some channels where informative and entertaining video content works well.

In addition, the content allows you to collaborate with companies with similar interests or that share synergies with you. For example, a pizza bakery collaborating with a delivery company or a car showroom sharing informative content with insurance providers and lenders.

These six steps are the building blocks for building your digital presence as a local business. Your digital story is unlikely to stop here. In fact, these are the first six steps to a strong digital presence. With ongoing trends, you can continue to add more strategic and long-term plans to turn your digital presence into a business.

The author is founder, MadHawks

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