Finding cost-effective ways to build online awareness is an important digital marketing strategy for local businesses in today's media landscape. Through creating and distributing relevant and valuable content, you can attract, engage, and acquire more target customers. We call this "content marketing." But for local businesses, what kinds of content should you be marketing? And how do you make sure it's valuable to local consumers and gets discovered online? Here are 10 go-to topics for your customers that will help you do just that.
Comment on other content
Start a blog. Discover ideas from reading other people's content and share your commentary on the topic along with a short snippet of the post -- with a link and proper attribution, of course -- to extend the conversation to your audience. For example, if you are a service shop, you could share a story on the advantages of new synthetic oils, adding your opinions to the mix.
Prove industry expertise
As a local business owner, you may or may not see yourself as an expert in your industry, but your consumers do. So, take this opportunity to share your personal insight, knowledge, and industry expertise with local consumers. For example, a local jeweler could produce videos or blog posts sharing what to look for when buying a diamond.
To help your readers make a buying decision, consider providing answers to your most frequently asked questions in a series of blog posts. If you've got a customer support team, you could also share answers to the questions they receive. Local customers are probably searching questions like these online, so you can become an online resource of local answers.
Tips and how-tos
Another great topic is tutorials or tips on general industry topics. You can offer tips on how to use and how to get the most value from your products or services. Not only does this help the customer understand the right and wrong way to use your products, it also helps them get more for their money, enhancing your value to the consumer. For example, if you owned an auto repair shop, you could offer tips on increasing the life of your tires.
Product photos and videos
Bring your products and services to life by showcasing them as high-resolution photos or videos. While your website should feature plenty of beautiful photos of the products you sell, you can also leverage new customer purchases as a content marketing topic. For example, a home renovator could blog about completed projects using detailed before and after shots, allowing the reader to picture these results in their own home or backyard.
Using local events
To drive potential new visitors to your website and inform your local community, consider publishing a local events calendar. This not only provides a valuable and relevant service to readers, it also increases your brand's visibility when consumers perform a local search for events. Updating a resource like this at least once a month is a valuable content type.
Interview happy customers
Besides claiming you have "happy customers," why not interview a few of them so they could say it for themselves? This not only showcases customer satisfaction, it also informs prospects about the types of customers your business helps. This is a great topic for videos, but you can post written interviews or share online reviews as well. For B2B businesses, you could ask the customer to share how they found out about your business, what kind of solution you provided, and how they felt about working with you.
Feature your employees
People buy from people, so why not showcase the folks behind the scenes? Consider creating a "Day In The Life" series by interviewing or showcasing the employees your prospects and customers may interact with. Tell the story of how your employees help your customers every day. These videos can also help with recruiting new employees.
Use Google Analytics for ideas
One easy way to identify potential content ideas is to look at the keywords consumers have used to find your website or blog. Within Google Analytics, you can find the actual keywords used to discover your site under "traffic sources," which can be phrases or ideas you can easily write about.
Timely and seasonal themes
Whether or not your business is seasonal, you can use seasonal themes to create relevant, interesting content. This could include writing about subjects or celebrities that are in the news. For example, a spa could write a blog post about how to create a hairstyle that a celebrity wore to the latest red carpet event. You can also write about an upcoming holiday. For example, a local restaurant could talk about how to cater that amazing holiday-themed party.
Use ideas like these to create an ongoing calendar of content ideas to market your local business online. Don't be afraid to get creative and involve the entire team in your local content marketing efforts. Make sure you're optimizing each post for local search discovery and sharing your content online for maximum impact. Most importantly, keep your content marketing efforts alive because the more online content you post about your business, the more customers you will reach.
Mike Merrill is director of marketing for ReachLocal.
On Twitter? Follow Mike Merrill @MikeDMerrill and iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.