According to a research report from the Kelsey Group, about 54% of consumers have substituted internet search in place of phone books. "Users are searching local information from the desktop as well as mobile devices," said Kirk Crenshaw, who is the CEO of RevCatalyst. "Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL)'s iPhone should also accelerate these trends."
So how can your business capitalize on local online advertising?
Paid Search: This means you purchase search phrases on Google and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO). For example, if you operate a mobile phone outlet, you could bid on the phrase "Mobile phone store Fresno California."
Keep in mind that you can geo-target your ads, which means that they will pop-up only for local searches.
However, it can get tricky to manage your campaigns in terms of measuring effectiveness and budgeting. To help things out, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) has developed an online advertising system that's part of its Salesforce Group Edition.
"I talk to a lot of small businesses who are new to internet marketing and online advertising," said Kraig Swensrud, a vice president at Salesforce.com. "Companies tend to use online advertising as a mechanism to generate new leads, so they need a way to present a marketing message to interested buyers and then capture the name and contact information of that interested buyer."
To this end, he recommends spending a few hours to answer the following questions:
- What goals are we trying to achieve by marketing online?
- Who is the target audience for our message?
- Where physically is our audience located?
- How do we intend to get this audience to react? What is our offer? Where will we bring them after people click on an ad?
Search-Friendly Website: It's often the case that websites are not optimized for search engines. No doubt, this can result in missing out on possible leads.
Well, there is a website development platform – which is geared for small businesses – that can help out (although, it will mean recreating your presence.) It's called Doodlekit.
"With our service, each page has a descriptive URL and are W3C complaint," said Heath Huffman, who is the co-founder of Doodlekit. "Or, if you want to insert an image, we require that your write up a description. Such things are often overlooked – but can make a big difference in your Google ranking."
Tom Taulli operates SmallBizMix.com.