Practical Ecommerce

Hyperlocal Marketing: 5 Ways to Drive In-store Traffic

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

The dictionary defines the term hyperlocal as “relating to or focused on a very small geographic community.”

Hyperlocal marketing, therefore, consists of marketing activities that also concentrate on a tight geographic circle. Most local business marketing fits within the hyperlocal category.

Aside from having a search engine-optimized, mobile-friendly website and claiming a listing in regional business directories, what are some ways that your company can use hyperlocal marketing tactics to drive in-store sales? Here are five to consider.

1. Geo-targeted Advertising

When we think of advertising at the local level, our tendency is to focus on mainstream, offline media such as TV, radio, and print. The Yellow Pages (or one of its variations) also comes to mind.

With the advent of hyperlocal online advertising options such as Facebook’s Local Awareness Ads or mobile apps like Pushlocal, both of which use a smartphone’s GPS data to target audiences within a certain radius (a technology called geo-fencing) main street businesses can spend their advertising dollars more cost-effectively and reach local consumers at the same time.

Geo-fencing uses a smartphone's GPS data to target a radius around a given location.

Geo-fencing uses a smartphone’s GPS data to target a radius around a given location.

2. Community News Sites

A few years ago, hyperlocal online newspapers were all the rage. I’m referring to sites like Patch, Backfence, and others. While those publications faltered — perhaps they were ahead of their time — there seems to be a resurgence of that approach.

Jason Kinzler, the founder of online public relations platform Pitch Engine, has developed a series of community-based sites — “Community News Streams” he calls them — to serve towns surrounding his local area. Each offers advertising and content marketing opportunities to businesses.

"County10" is a community news site created by Pitch Engine servicing Fremont County, Wyo.

“County10” is a community news site created by Pitch Engine servicing Fremont County, Wyo.

Advertising comes in the form of display and classified ads, news releases, event promotions, and more. The sites also allow businesses to share content related to upcoming events or other news of interest to the community.

Some sites, like OnlyOswego.com, which bills itself as “News and views for 60543,” also include directories where local businesses can claim their listing (which is good for SEO from the standpoint of building citations), allow sponsored content, and provide social promotions.

"Only Oswego" serves the 60543 area code in Oswego, N.Y.

“Only Oswego” serves the 60543 area code in Oswego, Ill.

Brian Ostrovsky, CEO of Locable (Only Oswego is a member of Locable’s publisher network), said that it’s critical for local businesses to share their story, which is something a community news site can facilitate.

“Local news sites often have a strong local affinity,” Ostrovsky said. “Working with community publishers enables you to reach their audience, share your core value proposition, and demonstrate your community involvement.”

3. Ad Retargeting

Retargeting (also referred to as “remarketing”) is a form of online display advertising that lets you show ads to people who have visited your website and is a tool you can use to bring prospects back to your site when they are ready to make a purchase. It works on both mobile and desktop devices.

Google AdWords offers retargeting capability, as do ad networks such as AdRoll, Retargeter, and Perfect Audience. You can restrict ads to only target a radius around your location.

Related article: Ad Retargeting: 5 Steps to Get Started

4. Beacons

Beacons are small, Bluetooth-enabled devices located inside a store, which recognize a customer’s smartphone (once the person crosses the store’s threshold), and sends personalized coupons, special offers, or loyalty rewards.

Beacons send special offers to a customer's smartphone via a mobile app.

Beacons send special offers to a customer’s smartphone via a mobile app. (Source: Cvent)

The use of beacons, previously the purview of large retailers such as Target and Macy’s, is growing in popularity among local retailers. They provide customer convenience, improve the shopping experience, and enable local businesses to compete with big-brand stores.

Typically, beacons are tied to the retailer’s mobile app, but Facebook now offers the devices free of charge and uses “Place Tips” to send information to customers who have the Facebook mobile app open on their phones.

According to Facebook, “Place Tips gather useful information about a business or landmark … and show it at the top of News Feed to in-store visitors.”

Restaurants can use Place Tips to display the menu, customer reviews, and other information while a retail store can promote business hours, popular items, and upcoming events, such as sales.

5. Social Media

In respect to hyperlocal, social media, while not a sales-driver necessarily, is useful for building a community of local fans and followers, with whom you share pertinent information — that which is relevant to the local area — as well as promotional posts. It gives businesses the opportunity to have face-to-face interaction with customers and prospects.

One local business, an antique store located in the city where I live, uses a Facebook page to promote its products. The owner, Ricky Smith, said that Facebook is one of two tools he uses for advertising (Pushlocal being the other) and that it works so well that he gets calls or in-store visits from prospective buyers almost every time he posts a picture.

Antique store uses Facebook page posts to drive in-store traffic.

Antique store sees results from Facebook page posts.

For local businesses, the use of online hyperlocal marketing tactics like these is the key to reaching relevant audiences, reducing advertising costs, and driving in-store visits and sales. Perhaps it’s time for you to give hyperlocal a try.

Correction: Originally, we said that Locable published Only Oswego. That is not the case. The site is part of Locable’s publisher network. Steven Jack, the owner of Only Oswego, is the publisher.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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