Small businesses can often be better positioned than larger firms, thanks to their ability to pivot, anticipate trends and respond to their customer needs faster than larger competitors. That’s why many businesses are focusing on becoming hyperlocal.
A hyperlocal focus means a business targets a narrow geographic area, typically online and driven by search. Google near-me searches are no longer about just where to go, but about finding a specific thing, in a specific area, and in a specific period of time says Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas in a piece for Think with Google.
Gevelber points out that online searches have changed; “near-me” mobile searches that contain a variant of, “can I buy,” or, “to buy” have grown more than 500 percent between 2015 and 2018. Many of the users were including location qualifiers like ZIP codes and neighborhood names in local searches because users assume, she says, the results will be automatically relevant to their location thanks to their devices.
These local search trends are important because learning how to be discovered at the hyperlocal level can help businesses grow a loyal, consistent customer base.
Here’s what small businesses can do to improve their hyperlocal traffic.
Grow Loyalty in Small Batches
Focusing on your city and region, as well as things of interest to your target audience can have a big payoff. Some large businesses create hypertargeted connections to create a virtual bridge to feel more local, even if they aren’t. The rationale is simple: dedicated customers who are embracing your product or service can help to grow your business on a hyperlocal level by creating a personal connection among their concentrated local sphere of influence.
Instead of going after mega-influencers who have thousands of followers on social media, many companies are looking for the “non-influencer” who has a lot of pull within a smaller, more intimate circle.
For example, Pedialyte, the toddler flu remedy, has widened its market with hyperlocal marketing as a hangover remedy.
According to Vox, “Pedialyte’s social media team started commenting on every single post that mentioned the brand, most commonly with, “You made our day!” and, “Stay hydrated,” paired with a sunglasses emoji. Then they started hopping into DMs, writing, “You’re a big fan of ours, it’s no secret. Well, we noticed and were wondering if you’d consider joining #TeamPedialyte? And we aren’t just asking anybody. … Only real-deals like yourself.”
Then Pedialyte sent out care packages and summer survival kits, recommended hashtags such as #TeamPedialyte and sharing an Amazon discount code.
What was surprising: “Almost none of these fans have more than 800 followers, and most have between 200 and 300. They’re not influencers, except in their very immediate social circles.”
A small business, such as a local coffee shop, can do this on a more intimate scale by reaching out to it’s social media followers and invite them to come in for a free cup of java or to try a new menu item as a public thank you for their loyalty coupled with a creative hashtag that can easily be tracked and followed.
Maintain Mobile Compatibility and Location Information
To connect on a hyperlocal level, it’s important to be easy to find.
Make sure your business is listed and verified on Google maps as well as Bing, Yelp, Yahoo! Small Business’ Localworks, DexKnows, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor, for travelers who are looking for a more local experience.
Double check to ensure your website is mobile optimized to make your business easily accessible, and ask for online referrals to help build traffic.
Be present on social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and make sure to add location tags into social media posts.
To help your ranking, make sure your basic information, sometimes also referred to as NAP— name, address, phone number— is listed, verified, and matches across as many services as possible to help with search rankings. For other search tips, review this post on Convince & Convert with Jay Baer.
Geotarget Potential Customers
Being in the right place at the right time can make a big difference. Offering a promotion to the correct audience can be even more important.
Small businesses can actively reach out on a hyperlocal level by geotargeting a specific group of influencers or potential customers based on a state, region or city, typically by using IP addresses.
Geotargeting can be done on a state, city or zip code level with IP addresses, through GPS signals or by geofencing, setting up a virtual perimeter where a promotion is valid. Although it’s not 100 percent accurate, the first three digits of a person’s IP address typically corresponds to the country code, while the remaining digits usually refer to specific areas.
Your company’s location will help determine how big or small of a geographic region you should create. Small businesses in more rural areas may want to set a larger target radius of 20 or 30 miles in diameter. For large urban areas, many businesses only target a one-mile radius, according to Adweek.
Create a Hashtag
Want things to trend locally or spread virally? The #MeToo movement has proven that a worthy hashtag and topic will go viral in a very short amount of time. That methodology can also help small businesses who might want to promote a trend, theme or sale on a hyperlocal level.
Not sure what hashtag to use? CreativeandCoffee blog offers a comprehensive list of hashtags for small businesses. Consider using local hashtags along with more general hashtags like #ShopLocal, #SmallBusiness, #Entrepreneur and #MakeItHappen to help align your business with others.