Guide to Online Advertising for Local Businesses

Many small businesses need to learn to leverage online marketing tools in order to drive footfall and increase overall customer base. This is a basic guide to the most important elements to put in place when thinking about an online strategy to give your business a local boost.

Google My Business is a MUST

If your business has a local presence and you are not yet displayed on Google Maps – what are you waiting for? Building a profile on Google my business that will display your location on local searches has fantastic advantages: people will start leaving reviews, you will appear more prominently on search and you will generate website traffic with one simple move. So build your Google My Business business profile with fresh quality photos and as much information as you can fit in and keep an eye on reviews, actively replying and engaging with both happy and disenchanted customers.

Use Google AdWords and Target specific geographical locations

Google Adwords is not an easy task to undertake as a small business owner and generally needs a bit of study before implementing, but one thing that can be said is that Google has outstanding support over the phone that can walk you through setting up your campaigns.

With carefully designed campaigns, local businesses can generate great business results, traffic and conversions from pay per click campaigns so if you are thinking of investing in one online advertising tool, I would suggest Adwords as the weapon of choice.

The best aspect of promoting online is that you can carefully choose to spend on the right demographics (location, age, operating system, etc) so you get the best return for your budget.

Google campaigns get smarter as you let them unfold and your selection of keywords, postcode targeting and strategic bidding will become better with time, as long as you pay attention and tweak.

Local Facebook and Instagram Advertising

While Google displays your ad when people are looking for relevant keywords, social media pushes your ads to people we guess might be looking for your products and services. This requires a bit of a change of strategy in terms of communications – you need a visually stunning message and a compelling call to action. Many companies decide to push useful information to generate traffic to their website rather than a decisevly sales pitch, depending on circumstances and campaign objectives. In all instances, customer experience is king and building a campaign with fantastic results becomes more complicated and you might need qualified help – it really pays off to ask for experienced help.

Think about your objectives and build a compelling story: offer an exclusive discount, add stunning visuals or explain your benefit in simple compelling ways. Build custom audiences by using the Facebook pixel.

In the dawn of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the GDPR regulations, Recently Facebook has withdrawn many of the targeting options – like income, some lifestyle preferences and demographics which offered advertising options that were considered intrusive.

There is still good opportunity to target potential customers by location and age. Also the use of Facebook pixel data has become an absolute must. By targeting people who have visited your website or lookalike audiences – audiences who display similar behavior to your current audiences and overlapping that with targeting only postcodes that are relevant to your business should give you a well defined audience and increase your chances to obtain good results.

Just make sure your Privacy Policy explains transparently how you leverage user data to make sure you are GDPR compliant.

Three very important tips when promoting your business locally:

  1. Careful with the pitfall of spending too little:

There is a risk you might be fearful your promotion might not do well and decide to only spend very little. But if after you choose your targeting you have a potential audience of 10,000 but your budget only reaches 100 daily – then your budget is too small and you will not reach the critical amount of people to make a good informed decision on whether that campaign has been a success or not.

Instagram stories are currently getting very good response and are good value for money so companies can tell compelling local stories and push them only to the audience that is relevant – which makes incredible value for money.

 2. Have a compelling message that is adapted to the network you are using.

Facebook and Instagram are huge on visuals so make sure you have good quality, authentic materials that reflect your business and entice potential clients. Most of the times, stock photography just doesn’t cut it any longer.

For Google Adwords search campaigns you will not have the option of using visuals so make sure you build a compelling proposition – a strong sales pitch and a compelling call to action

 3. Create relevant fresh local content to keep your website ranking.

When setting up a Google Adwords campaign, your spend and ad position will depend on how Google ranks your website – is it relevant to your keywords, does it have good quality content, is the content fresh and constantly updated? All these aspects will impact your campaign. On top of the local organic searches will display your quality relevant local content, which is another huge advantage – to be discussed on another day.

Hi, I am Ina, an experienced Marketing Consultant in the Glasgow area. I have over 15 years of experience in delivering marketing campaigns from corporate to agency to startup environments, currently helping local small and medium businesses achieve their marketing potential. 

I currently drive the digital team for a creative agency in Glasgow and have gained valuable experience in delivering strategic plans for a variety of clients. If you would like to ask me a question just drop me a line at

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