Marketing

How Can Small Business Owners Leverage Location-Based Marketing? 10 Tips and Examples

Here’s an in-depth guide on what location-based marketing is and how it works – complete with experts’ tips sharing how you can win at it.

Masooma Memon Masooma Memon on February 22, 2022 (last modified on February 18, 2022) • 17 minute read

Ever googled ‘plant nurseries near me’ and got a list of highly specific recommendations? Or jumped on to your WordPress dashboard and noticed they typically feature a list of events happening near you? 

These are examples of location-based marketing – something you should be tapping into too if you’re looking to personalize your marketing.

Want to learn about location-based marketing? This guide will you with just that as we dig into:

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What Is Location-Based Marketing?

Location-based marketing involves using customer location for targeting them with relevant marketing campaigns and offers.

Essentially, the marketing targets people on a granular level based on location data derived from their GPS-enabled cellular device.

Related: Optimize Your Business for Local Searches with These 8 Google My Business SEO Tips

How Does Location Marketing Work?

Location-based marketing works by gathering customer physical location data. For this to happen, however, it’s essential target prospects allow your app/site to track their location.

Put another way, privacy is a big concern with location-based marketing. And, as you’ll learn from the expert tips below, it’s not something you can ignore. Essentially, these tips come from folks who have well over a year’s experience with this type of marketing.

In fact, almost 50% of our contributors have 3 years of experience with location-based marketing, while more than 45% have between 1-3 years of experience.

What is your experience in using location based marketing

The majority of the businesses we surveyed (45.28%) are small businesses selling products of B2C services. 30.19% are marketing, digital, and media agencies or consultants, and 18.87% are B2B small businesses (services and products).

Circling back to location-based marketing though, the idea behind it is simple: use the location data to plan more relevant and personalized marketing campaigns.

For example, using location-based marketing triggers automated messages when a target customer is in a specific location. Similarly, you can target potential customers with more relevant ads.

Other than targeting and personalizing customer experience, location-based marketing also works for gathering better audience insights and segmenting audiences.

Location-Based Marketing Expert Tips and Examples

Finally, for the location-based marketing proven tips that we promised. So here’s a snapshot of all the tips, followed by the details:

  1. Position yourself as the go-to authority
  2. Try geofencing
  3. Optimize for local SEO
  4. Be mindful of your audience’s privacy
  5. Market at the right time and place
  6. Pair geotargeting with PPC
  7. Establish local partnerships
  8. Create more of bottom of funnel content
  9. Leverage social media marketing
  10. Try mobile app localization

Here we go:

1. Position yourself as the go-to authority

“The best tip that I can provide to small businesses looking to make the most out of location-based marketing is to focus on cultivating an expert authority in your chosen niche,” advises Teresha Aird of Offices.net.

Aird is a “Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer and someone who is extremely familiar with the benefits of location-based marketing for small businesses, particularly those with a sizable online presence and interest in search engine optimization.”

According to Aird, “Make yourself the utmost authority on your product or service in your chosen area, whether that be a city, town or suburb.”

So, for instance, if you design visual identities for local brands, position yourself as the expert in the field. Some ways to do so include:

  • Speak on the topic at local events
  • Host free, value-packed workshops
  • Create content on the topic

Aird also suggests “investing time in creating location-specific content for your website that answers questions commonly asked by consumers or clients in your area. This type of location-based content will help to drive clicks to your website and boost your search engine rankings.”

“I recommend using keyword research tools such as SEMrush and Answer the Public to identify questions asked and keywords used in your local area, before then developing your content to answer these questions.”

You can also do a quick Google search to find out questions popping up in Google Suggest, People Also Ask, and Related Searches section.

Sharing their example, Aird writes: “At Offices.net, we create location-specific content that outlines current market trends in cities across the United States.”

“This content, while often time-consuming to create, generates a high number of clicks and establishes our brand as an authoritative expert in the commercial property industry, something which helps to attract potential clients.”

“I would also stress the importance of crafting a comprehensive Google My Business profile to ensure that your small business is appearing on Google Maps and local SERPs,” Aird adds.  “These profiles are simple to set up and invaluable to the potential reach of local businesses.”

2. Try geofencing

“Geofences are the digital boundaries of a physical location,” defines Jared Bauman of 201 Creative.

“Customers’ preferences and location data can be linked, which, in my opinion, enhances data quality and increases the utility of marketing messages,” Bauman says.

“For instance, where is the user (a mall, a stadium, a park) and what kind of weather are they experiencing? When and how often do the users want to be notified?”

This makes sense as geofencing also means you aren’t disturbing your leads’ privacy.

Bauman continues, “One of the most important aspects of this strategy is locating venues where customers are likely to be receptive to offers outside of the retailer’s store. The sponsor of a concert or a sports drink may be advertised around a gym, for example, or dog food or pet stores in a dog park could be promoted.”

Nolah Mattress’s Stephen Light commends geofencing too. “For small businesses looking to increase foot traffic and sales, geofencing is an excellent location-based marketing tactic that leverages real-time consumer behavior and proximity to your store.”

“At its core, geofencing allows you to send notifications and content to potential customers’ mobile devices should they enter the virtual perimeter you’ve set around your store.”

“It’s particularly useful for small businesses that might lack the brand awareness of larger companies,” Light points out. “Sending relevant, enticing content and promotions to people who are already nearby has been shown to greatly increase foot traffic, and also has the advantage of being cost-effective.”

3. Optimize for local SEO

Sharing their example, Sure Locks’s John Dearden comments, “Location-based marketing is one of the ways we make sure that customers can easily find us and ensure we are their first choice.”

“We have two strands to our business, emergency call-outs, and general locksmith services and home security advice,” Dearden explains. “Location is important for both, but especially for the emergency call-outs where customers naturally want the most local service possible, and we want to make sure that is us.”

Related: 36 Local SEO Metrics That Every Local Business Should Be Tracking

“One example of how we do this is by optimizing our local SEO,” elaborates Dearden. “The most common way for customers to find us in an emergency is through a Google search, and we want to make sure that we are at the top of the results page.”

“One of the main ways we do this is by having individual location pages for each of our local offices on our website. So whichever area a customer searches for, our website will likely be the first choice.”

The goal here is simple: “Make sure to dominate in local google search SEO if your business has a brick and mortar location,” observes Kelly Maxwell from Seniors Mutual.

“We dominate and generate a ton of business in the area because we have loads of 5-star reviews on google and post daily making people see us more when searching for a business such as ours,” Maxwell says. “Doing this first will help your paid traffic rank higher and develop more credibility.”

Related: Earn Higher Local Search Rankings With This 15-Point SEO Checklist

Similar to the suggestion above, Dearden shares they “also invest time in maintaining our Google My Business listing, keeping it up to date and responding to reviews, which again increases our chances of appearing in local search results.”

This makes it clear: not only is it important you set up your Google My Business profile but it’s essential you keep it up to date. And, don’t forget, responding to customer reviews shows you care about your customers, therefore, take out the time to respond to them.

One more thing: respond to reviews – even if they’re negative. The reason? It shows prospective customers you tried to do whatever you could to solve your customer’s concerns.

4. Be mindful of your audience’s privacy

The key to success with location-based marketing is ensuring your marketing campaigns don’t come across as invasive.

Put another way, instead of obsessing about getting your brand in front of your target buyers by hook or by crook, ask yourself: is this something I’d like to see myself?

If the answer is in the affirmative, it’s likely your prospects will be okay with it. Do make sure you answer this question honestly though.

“We had a very bad experience with Geofencing and Beaconing,” admits Charles Leduc from Mold Busters.

“Small businesses should be careful with these forms of location marketing. Many people view these methods as invasive and you could do more harm than good,” Leduc warns.  

“People look at more ads than ever each day. Do not force more upon them.” Put another way, don’t be business-centered. Focus on your target customer and what they’d like instead.  

“Geotargeting works very well without this invasive aspect,” suggests Leduc. Our expert respondents agree. The majority say geotargeting is the location-based marketing tactic that has worked best for their business.

This is followed by mobile targeting and geofencing. In comparison, fewer contributors have, however, found success with beaconing.

Location based marketing tactics

5. Market at the right time and place

This doesn’t mean beaconing doesn’t yield results at all. For others like Roy Morejon of Enventys Partners, it has shown great results.

Talking about it, Morejon highlights: “Small businesses can make use of beaconing to leverage consumer proximity and send out valuable deals, promotions, and content to turn nearby foot traffic into in-store sales.”

“It’s all about marketing at the exact right time and place, and beaconing can help small businesses increase their reach and deepen relationships with consumers by triggering customized content directly to the smartphones in their hands,” explains Morejon.

“A more long-term advantage of beaconing is that it also provides deeper insight into consumer behavior, and gathers data that can help small businesses paint a clearer picture of how and when to reach their audience,” Morejon points out further.

Not to mention, you can use the same insights to learn more about who your customer is. This helps you plan more relevant marketing campaigns.

6. Pair geotargeting with PPC

“Location-based marketing is one of the best things small businesses need to swear by,” opines David Attard from CollectiveRay.

“To begin with, we used geo-targeted PPC to identify the pool from our audience to try and understand who might need our initiatives in web designing. Progressively, we made these pitches the bait to catch the smaller fish the geo-targeted PPC gave us,” Attard explains.  

“Then, we used those people as the bigger baits to catch the school of fishes that found web designing difficult,” continues Attard.  

“Smoothening this transition, we finally made ourselves known to the local newspaper and had them do our story for the locals. This stayed the necessary step because having your small business featured gets the locals to trust you.”

Needless to say, you can also try the same approach with a local, widely-read magazine.

Eden Cheng from PeopleFinderFree also advises in favor of ads on location-based keywords for location-based marketing.

“For PeopleFinderFree, we have tried this method and gained a lot through it,” Cheng says. “Our tool is specifically for people of the US so the users willing to search details about US citizens must land on our page.”

“Only this way, we can achieve good conversation rate,” highlights Cheng. “For this, we tried location-based keywords in our content and ran ads for particular locations in the US alone. The latter method worked super-effectively in our case.”

Related: 16 Expert Strategies for Researching Your Ad Campaign’s PPC Keywords

7. Establish local partnerships

Speaking of building trust, you can also collaborate with local partners.

This way, “you will have connections that will strengthen your business and promote your locality,” in the words of Stephen Keighery from Home Buyer Louisiana.

“For example, in real estate, we have discovered that people will be more inclined to move into the community once they find out that you can guarantee a seamless construction and property turnover because you have the contacts that will make the process easier for them,” says Keighery.

8. Create more of bottom of funnel content

“Small businesses can make the most of location-based marketing by dominating the bottom-of-funnel,” opines SEO Growth Partners’ Joseph Randazzo.

Here’s what Randazzo means in terms of a hypothetical local chiropractor example that they share.

  • Bottom-of-funnel: people that are going to Google and actively searching for things like ‘best chiropractor in Portland, OR.’ These folks are ready to take action and go spend money at a chiropractor.
  • Middle-of-funnel: people who are considering going to a chiropractor but aren’t fully convinced yet. They may be doing some research on the different chiropractors in town that take their insurance.
  • Top-of-funnel: people who are experiencing pain and are going to Google, YouTube, etc. and looking for things like ‘best exercises for back pain.’ They may be interested in going to a chiropractor, but they’re not actively looking. They’re in the research phase of how they can solve the problem themselves.”

“For location-based marketing,” Randazzo explains “the best opportunity a business has is to dominate the bottom of the funnel. Why? Those are the people that are ready to buy right now. People are actively searching for what they have to offer on Google.”

“There’s not as much education or effort to convert that potential customer,” writes Randazzo. The best way to dominate the bottom of the funnel is to dominate Google (through SEO) for high-intent keywords like ‘chiropractor near me,’ ‘best chiropractor in Portland,’ or simply ‘chiropractic clinic in Portland, OR.’”

“Again, these are the people that want to spend their money right now! Too many businesses start focusing their location-based marketing on other areas of the funnel before investing in SEO. They say ‘let’s build a video marketing campaign and run Facebook ads. Let’s target women aged 40-60.’

Can those videos work and drive leads? Absolutely! However, they’re not hyper-targeted and therefore are going to likely be served to many people at the top-of-funnel (or potentially people not in the funnel at all).”

“Not only that, but the second you stop spending money on the ads, the leads dry up,” Randazzo continues. “With SEO, it’s like farming. Once you get to the top of Google, it’s a maintenance game and you can drive consistent leads for years.”

It’s also a good idea to create location-specific landing pages targeting such BOFU keywords. That said, make sure your content is ultra-useful to your audience. Otherwise, you run the risk of attracting the relevant, right-to-buy audience but stop short of converting them into paying customers.

Randazzo walks the talk too. “Our business ranks at the top of page 1 of Google for keywords like ‘Portland SEO company’ and because of that, we drive tons of qualified leads. Basically, we eat our own dog food!

Now, after we’ve started dominating Google for bottom-of-funnel keywords, we’re going to run more robust location-based marketing paid ads campaigns on Google and social for those folks in the middle and top-of-funnel. But first, we invested heavily in our own hyper-local SEO.”

9. Leverage social media marketing

Social media marketing is one of the best and my absolute favorite location-based marketing strategy,” says Laura Jimenerz of Ishine365.

“Social media marketing is about you establishing your presence in front of an audience and daily delivering value with this audience, turning the audience into followers, then a community that trusts you, before making them, loyal customers,” Jimenerz shares.

“Promote your website at social events like community-based gatherings, where people are more like to discuss issues like cost-cutting and petty domestic issues, rather than promoting in top tier urban malls, where they have come for excursions for fun.”

Not only does organic social media marketing that takes a community-first approach help but paid social advertising does too.

In fact, 58.5% of our respondents say location-based advertising on paid social has proven highly effective for them. 30.2% say it’s okay with only 3.8% saying it’s not effective at all.

PPC location based marketing

Case in point: the Viien team has been using paid social media advertising for location-based marketing.

Sasha Matviienko shares, “Our business is targeting a local audience of people, a couple of kilometers away. Because our services apply to (almost) all women older than a certain age, we’ve been advertising to this audience through social media channels, aiming to reach as many people as possible.”

The results? Matviienko shares: “This has delivered a 3x positive ROAS and has been one of the most effective tactics we used to build a client base.”

Related: 18 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

10. Try mobile app localization

This last tip is a hat tip to Harriet Chan from CocoFinder. “A lot of website traffic originates from mobile devices, and businesses are looking to capitalize on it,” Chan outlines.

Admittedly, over half of the web traffic comes from mobile. For example, in the last quarter of 2021, 54.4% of global website traffic came from mobile devices.

“Using mobile app localization, companies [can] target specific regions with ads on mobile apps,” notes Chan. “The trend has become popular, and it is only set to gain more popularity. Marketers use demographic information to target these audiences. For more relevant ads, geographic information is essential.”

Related: 24 Ways to Increase Your Mobile App Conversion Rate

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Level Up Your Marketing Campaign Today with Databox

While following these location-based marketing tips will certainly help you, there’s one other step that can assist you further: track your progress.

Essentially, running location-based marketing campaigns is one part of the puzzle, tracking progress to determine the results you’re driving is another.

To this end, make sure you determine the important metrics you need to track. Then, put them in a central Databox dashboard so you can track progress quickly and easily.

The best part? The dashboard auto-updates so you don’t even have to take out any extra time to make sure it’s up to date.

So what are you waiting for? Try Databox for free today.

About the author
Masooma Memon
Masooma Memon Masooma is a freelance writer for SaaS and a lover to-do lists. When she's not writing, she usually has her head buried in a business book or fantasy novel.
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