Target local customers with your online ads

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Date: 4 March 2020

A pair of smiling entrepreneurs stand in their coffee shop and bakery - local business concept.

So, Mother’s Day is approaching, and you want to order some flowers. You search on Google for ‘florist near me’ expecting to find the highest-rated shops nearby.

To your surprise, the first result is from Boston City Florist, whose nearest store is 3,198 miles away:

Screen grab of Google search results for a local florist

Back you go to the drawing board, rather than Google, to find another florist that you can actually use - preferably a bit more local. Boston City Florist could sell the biggest, most luxurious bouquets you’ve ever seen - but you can’t order flowers from across the Atlantic.

A good example we can learn from is Ori Gym’s personal training courses. If a customer searches for “London fitness courses”, an ad like this will show:

Google search results for London fitness coursesThe point we’re getting at here is that local businesses need to be clear on where their customers are, and use this to create successful, targeted ads.

Location targeting

One of the first steps to targeting your local customers is to take advantage of location targeting, otherwise known as geotargeting. This feature is available on Google, Facebook and Microsoft ads, and allows you to select where you want your ads to show.

You can select a single city, one or multiple countries, or even a certain radius around a location. It’s essential for businesses that rely on foot traffic such as restaurants, car dealerships, and small bakeries, particularly with the rise of online delivery companies like Deliveroo.

Once you’ve selected a location, you’ll be able to see how many people could potentially see your ads and make changes to improve it. If it will only reach 5,000 people in the city centre of Manchester, expanding to suburbs nearby might be a good idea. In the same way you’d select where you want your ads to show, you can also exclude locations to avoid wasting your budget. This works the same way as creating a negative keyword list and is crucial to your campaign success. If you establish that people won’t travel more than 30 minutes to get to a restaurant, don’t waste your time advertising to people outside that zone. Instead, focus your budget and efforts on those who are closer by.

Most of these features apply across all advertising networks, though there are some additional features such as ‘location of interest’ and ‘session-based matches’ on Google Ads. These are based on the keywords you include in your ads, but are something to focus on once you’ve got your initial targeting right.

Location extensions

Where location targeting shows your ads in specific areas, location extensions direct people to your store by highlighting its physical location. In doing this, your ads are shown with your address, a map, and/or the distance to your business. You can also include opening hours, photos, and directions, as well as a phone number or call button in your ads. You see this a lot with taxi companies, particularly on mobile, as the majority of people will quickly reach for their phones when they need a lift. For instance, if you’re in London and you search for a taxi, the results will look something like this:

In platforms like Google Ads, you can also set location bid adjustments for the locations you’ve selected. This allows you to put more money into local customers that search for one of your keywords - if you think they’re valuable - or decrease your bids if you find the opposite.

Google Local Services Ads

Google’s Local Services Ads are ads that show at the top of the search results when local customers search for your services. It’s perfect for businesses who are just getting started with PPC and want a simple way to manage their customers.

You set your budget based on the number of new leads you want each week, and only pay when someone calls or messages you directly from the ad.

When someone gets in touch, you can easily keep track of their enquiry in the dashboard. If you find yourself overworked, you can pause your ads until you’re ready to take on more leads. To make it even easier, customers are directed to your Google profile, removing the need for a detailed landing page.

A good tip is to get your existing customers to leave a Google review about their positive experience with you. These reviews will show every time someone clicks on your profile and give them another reason to choose your service.

It’s basically like having Google as an assistant, picking up relevant leads and shooing away ones that aren’t as good. That saves you time and costs, and boosts your profits. 

Reach the right people at the right time

If you find Google Ads difficult to navigate, there are a handful of tools and resources available to make your life easier. Not to mention, a lot of them are free, such as this guide to Local Services Ads for small businesses.

Social media goes far beyond weekly or daily updates. Use your channels to connect with users on a more personal level, and build a rapport that will keep them coming back for more. As well as posting pictures of your bakery’s delicious goods, engage with your customers and tell them about the new highly-requested batch that’s coming next week.

The next time they want a warm, hearty loaf of artisan bread, the chances are they’ll come to you. Easy.

Think about what you search for yourself to find a local business, and use this information to improve your online advertising. Don’t underestimate the power of data - tools like Adzooma’s free reporting suite can really ramp up your results by showing you what is and isn’t working.

For a bigger impact, knuckle down on PPC marketing to get in front of your customers when it matters most with successful, targeted ads.

Copyright 2020. Post by Jess Kirkbride, Copywriter at Adzooma – the simple, quick & easy way to manage your online advertising.

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