Investing in e-commerce is a significant step for businesses accustomed to brick-and-mortar retail. But what happens when such a venture doesn’t reap the results you anticipated?
E-commerce is often seen as a silver bullet for businesses seeking growth and advancement. But while it can certainly help deliver on such ambitions, success isn’t guaranteed.
One area businesses often struggle with when entering the e-commerce arena is attracting regional customers to their new website. And that’s a problem, because for both B2B and B2C enterprises, local customers often represent a high-value demographic.
So, how do you attract regional consumers to your online store? And what tools should you use to guarantee local traffic in an e-commerce setting?
Here, we’ll show you how to reach local customers on your e-commerce site.
- Why Are Local Customers Important to E-Commerce Success?
- How to Reach Local Customers: Essential Marketing and Site Management Tips
While your overarching goal in launching an e-commerce site may be to gain new customers in new territories, it’s critical that it reaches local users too. Why? Because 45% of all Google searches are for local businesses – a stat which more than demonstrates the value of getting your e-commerce platform in front of regional audiences.
Whatever your products, goods and services, your e-commerce site should appear in local search results. This is not only beneficial from a web health perspective, legitimising essential details about your business, but also advantageous in generating sales and leads from customers local to, and familiar with, your business.
You may see a recently launched e-commerce platform as a vehicle to drive more online sales, but it can also help steer local customers into your physical premises. For this reason, an optimised web store brings multiple benefits, supporting both online and offline sales activity and performance.
Reaching local customers online isn’t as simple as it sounds. With competition high and a range of parameters in place, bringing regional users to your e-commerce platform requires a considered and multi-channel approach.
Here, we offer some essential tips on reaching local customers on your online store.
Utilise Data to Identify and Target Regional Customers
When building a strategy to reach local customers, utilising existing data can be hugely beneficial. It informs your marketing and sales activity, helping you target the right customers with the right products, services, incentives, and initiatives. Sales logs and Google Analytics are both great tools for identifying regional customers, helping you understand who your local customers are.
Data presents an invaluable asset when targeting specific demographics and users. Use it to your advantage, determining who your regional customers are and what products and services they buy, before using this as a basis for your strategy.
From there, you can target users based on their location and preferences, providing tailored offers and services that encourage both online sales and visits to your brick-and-mortar premises.
Consider Local SEO
With over 45% of Google searches having “local intent”, it’s important that your e-commerce platform taps into this prospective revenue stream. One of the best ways to achieve this is via local SEO – an off-shoot of search engine optimisation that specifically targets customers in your area.
Local SEO has risen to become one of the most powerful means of reaching customers based on their location. Indeed, perform any search on Google and you’ll typically see “The Map Pack” at the top of the page – a set of three search results, accompanied by a map, that represent the most relevant local results for a given search term.
To stand any chance of appearing in “The Map Pack” and getting your business in front of regional customers, you need to embrace local SEO. There are several “ranking factors” (elements that affect how well a site ranks in search engines) that drive success in local SEO, including:
- An up-to-date Google My Business listing – If you haven’t set up Google My Business for your company thus far, it’s high time you did. This free service lets you list essential details about your business, including location, opening times and contact information. It also aids local SEO, showing Google’s algorithms that you’re relevant for key local queries.
- Keywords in Google My Business profile – Don’t stop at simply filling in your Google My Business profile either; you need to include specific terms you want to rank for. This is an additional way of ensuring that your e-commerce site is generating the local traffic you’re after. You can add relevant keywords to four areas of your Google My Business profile, including the description, FAQs, posts, and testimonials fields. Go easy on this, however; you don’t want to spam your profile with keywords and get on Google’s bad side. Only include relevant terms where it fits naturally.
- A Google Maps star rating and reviews – Google Maps is a powerful advertising tool in its own right, with reviews and ratings having a direct influence on a business’ sales and revenue. Where possible, encourage your e-commerce and offline customers to share a positive review on Google Maps, especially those in the area you’re hoping to drive traffic.
- The location of the searcher – Delve into your website analytics to find out where your site traffic is coming from. The location that a person is searching from can aid local SEO, increasing the relevancy of your brand within a specific region.
Lean on Social Media
Not only does social media remain one of the best ways to generate brand advocacy and awareness, but it also provides a platform through which to be found by prospective customers. Just as with a Google My Business profile, your social accounts provide a means of establishing your business within a specific geographic area, with the option to include key details that could spur users to visit your e-commerce site.
When it comes to utilising social media to drive regional traffic, here are a few things to try:
- List all contact and location information across all social media accounts, including Instagram
- Use local business hashtags in social posts to build awareness in your region
- Tag the location of all social posts
- Interact with customers, users, and other businesses from your local area
- Work with local influencers to promote your brand
- Share content that reflects the link between your business and the region; aim to become a thought-leader on a specific subject in your area
- Don’t overuse social media to advertise your e-commerce site. Instead, encourage followers to visit your site through engaging content and regular interaction
Utilise Outbound Marketing
Growing an e-commerce site requires ongoing investment, with much of this resource reserved for outbound marketing. A multi-channel approach can extend the reach of such efforts, helping you get your business in front of the regional audience you’re hoping to attain.
From radio commercials and display ads on local news sites to email marketing, tradeshow presentations, and local event sponsorship – there are lots of ways to utilise outbound marketing to grow regional awareness for your e-commerce platform. Generally, the more you’re willing to invest, the greater the chance of seeing a healthy ROI; just make sure you’re allocating marketing spend to the appropriate channels before any heavy outlay.
Combining local SEO best practice and social media engagement with a multi-channel approach to outbound marketing, your business will be well placed to accelerate its regional presence. As local search continues to grow in prominence, and both B2B and B2C customers move online for greater choice and convenience, promoting your business with local marketing will be more vital than ever.
Take Advantage of the Growing Demand for Click and Collect Services
Changing customer habits and shopping preferences, accelerated by events such as the coronavirus pandemic, have led to a surge in demand for click and collect services. In-store and kerbside collections have become a convenient option for online buyers – and a powerful way to encourage local customers to your brick-and-mortar store.
Offering a click and collect service brings an obvious two-fold benefit to your operation. Firstly, it encourages regional customers to use your online store, driving visits to both your e-commerce site and your premises.
Secondly, it makes things easier for new and returning customers, increasing brand advocacy, and making them more likely to shop with you in the future. It’s faster, cheaper, and more convenient – three major selling points for the modern consumer.
Of course, offering a click and collect service requires a review of your current logistics and supply infrastructure. Does your business model suit rapid in-store collections? What is your warehouse capacity? And can your product procurement strategy support a move towards click and collect services?
At Intact, our solutions help businesses achieve more, whatever their aspirations. From e-commerce to marketing to sales, you can manage and control every facet of your operation to maintain growth and advancement. To learn more about our ERP and business management software, visit the homepage or get in touch via our contact page.