I'm definitely not alone. Just look at the carnage in the yellow pages business.
If you're a business owner, it's become necessary to get on board local online marketing. Not only will you find good customers, but you'll be able to measure results (how many clicks you are getting), target segments (you can focus on various demographics), and help build your brand.
OK, let's take a look at some helpful tips to get started:
Use a Third Party Service: While Google has the dominant market share in local search, there are still other important players, such as Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), MSN, Ask, and so on. However, each system is different and requires a certain amount of marketing expertise. In fact, if not managed properly, your online advertising could turn into a fiasco (such as by busting your budget).
As a result, it's a good idea to use a third-party service like Web.com (NASDAQ: WWWW). Such a service will not only build a solid foundation, but also provide ongoing maintenance. And, the packages are affordable for small businesses.
Optimize Your Web Site: Even if you have a strong online marketing campaign, you still need to make it easy for users to buy your offerings. This means having clear marketing copy. That is, what are the key benefits to your goods or service? The cost advantages? What are the latest promotions/discounts?
You should also try to optimize your site to help increase your rankings on the search engines. Basically, this helps to improve traffic and conversion rates. For more information on this topic, you can check out one of my recent posts.
It's also a good idea to participate in online review sites. For example, one of the largest review sites is Yelp.com, which gets 20 million unique visitors every month. Make sure you claim your business, and then you can post photos, show the latest special offers, and even advertise on the site.
Test, Test, Test: Online marketing is far from a science. Rather, it likely will take a few months to start seeing results. What's more, you will need to keep trying new things. But, so long as you keep at it -- and learn from your experimentation -- the benefits should be well worth it.