It’s no secret that local online advertising is expected to continue growing. In fact, according to BIA/Kelsey’s 2009 U.S. Local Media Forecast, local online ad spending is predicted to grow by more than 15 percent in 2010. As more and more local businesses allocate marketing dollars to online, a lot of those dollars will flow to paid search, which will make that marketing avenue a much more crowded market as local businesses vie for the same keywords and use similar techniques.
For local advertisers looking to break away from the pack, there are several, more advanced techniques that can be implemented to better refine exposure to the desired target audience, and in turn, improve campaign ROI. Whether you are a local business owner managing your own online campaigns or a search engine marketing agency helping your clients reach their campaign goals, following are some of the tactics we use through our Marchex Connect platform to serve local advertisers.
Daypart targeting: When is the best time to reach your potential customers?
Using dayparting is a well-known strategy for TV and radio advertisers but is often an overlooked strategy online. The tactic makes sense—think about your target audience’s habits and make sure that your ads are running at the key times and days when your prospective customers are most likely to see them. While there may be times where it makes sense to run your advertisements 24-hours per day (for example, if your business offers emergency services like towing), if you are a business with specific hours of operations, it’s unlikely that incoming phone calls at 2 a.m. when your business is closed will help you. Running an ad during your hours of operation can greatly improve the success of your campaign when you can be sure that your ad will appear at a time when the consumer can reach you.
Geographic targeting or geographic modifiers: Which should you use?
There is a lot of buzz right now about local advertising, especially new offerings that enable consumers to be exposed to advertising on their mobile devices based on their location, even as they walk by the business itself. The ability to use geographic targeting (geo-targeting) to target your advertising specifically to those consumers within your service area or a store location can have a big impact in directing traffic to your business.
While geo-targeting is a major advancement in advertising and a benefit for local advertisers in many instances, it may not be the right option for your campaign depending on the unique audience you are trying to attract. For example, a resort hotel in Hawaii will probably not want to target their local market as it’s highly unlikely that a local consumer will want to purchase a vacation package. Instead, that resort might opt to use geographic modifiers as part of a nationally targeted campaign that allows consumers in the U.S. midwest hoping to escape the cold winter months, to find the resort’s Hawaiian vacation package based on a search for specific geographic keywords.
The most important step in making a decision between using geo-targeting or geographic modifiers is for you to take the time to clearly think through the desired consumer audience you are trying to reach to effectively use this technique to your advantage.
Demographic targeting—Further narrowing the funnel
In addition to geographic targeting or modifiers, you might also consider further defining your desired audience by demographic. Using this technique allows you to narrow in on a gender (let’s say women) and age (between the ages of 20-35 years old) by using specific keywords and creating bidding, budgeting and ad copy strategies for this unique set. A retailer selling women’s clothing could easily target this unique audience using any one of the major search engines.
But let’s take it a step further. What if in addition to targeting this group you also want to get found by consumers who are interested in these items as gifts—especially during the holiday season?
One way to target a broad group is to create a campaign that doesn’t limit the gender targeting but has keywords with modifiers (i.e. women’s pants, women’s shirts, etc.) to enable consumers outside of your target group to find your ad. With this technique, bidding, budgeting and ad copy strategies will vary from the demographic targeting example described above because keyword demand will likely be much higher (read: more expensive) when targeting a broad audience so you will need to carefully monitor your campaigns to ensure they are being effective during that time.
Finally, whether using basic or advanced techniques, it is critical that your campaigns are evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that the right keywords, bids and strategies are in place to optimize your campaigns, increase your ROI, and most importantly—deliver customers.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.