A Blueprint For Acquiring Local Customers [2020 ed.]
For local businesses, growing new and repeat customers determines profitability and business success. In this blueprint, we give you a complete rundown and game-plan on how to acquire more customers through digital advertising.
Nice To Meet You
Adwhip is a Southern California-based firm that creates and quarterbacks local growth strategy for businesses all over the US. We help put local businesses in front of new customers and keep old customers coming back using our proven advertising strategy. In these times, we believe business owners should have an understanding of advertising online to grow the customer-base. So we decided to put together a complete, no-strings blueprint on exactly how to do just that.
In today’s world, where everyone essentially uses their phone to discover local services, it’s 100% paramount for your business to have a strong digital presence to acquire new customers and stay connected with returning customers.
However, before getting into a step-by-step strategy blueprint for your business, we need to go over the fundamentals of local advertising online so you are in the loop on the important variables and the lingo.
Direct VS Carrot-And-Stick Ads
If you are new to online advertising, all of the various ad platforms out there can feel like information-overload However, all ad platforms and ad formats tend to fall within just two categories – “Direct”, and what we like to call “Carrot And Stick”. Direct advertising uses platforms like Google, which targets potential customers that are “directly” searching for something, like a car service or a delicious burrito spot in the area.
The “Carrot And Stick” approach is fundamentally different. It is the process of advertising your business to potential customers while they are doing other (possibly related or unrelated) things, like scrolling through their friend’s Instagram photos. These ads have to be enticing, as you are trying to grab someone’s attention away from what they’re doing and convert them into customers.
Direct advertising tends to be a higher “cost per action” (a click or a video view), as you are paying for “warmer leads”. However, both approaches can have extremely positive results when deployed correctly.
Geo-targeted advertising is our ideal method for building foot traffic for local businesses. Geo-targeting is one of the best ways to build awareness about your business to a local audience. Building a strong presence utilizing geo-based ad campaigns in the local community is the perfect way to expand your customer-base as well as retain existing customers.
Geo-targeting on Facebook and Google is relatively straight forward. Both platforms offer options to set a radius around your business location to run ads. The trick is narrowing down on the audience that is actually interested in your business within that geographic range. For example, if you operate a gym catering to women, you may want to isolate just ads to just women in the area, especially those that are already into fitness or are looking to get into fitness. We go into this audience refining below.
– Demographic Segmentation
This is where “custom audiences” and demographics come into play. Custom audiences (Facebook) and demographic selections (Google) are used for picking the right audience for your specific business ads. They require testing and on-going optimization to ensure your ads are yielding the best possible results over time. For example, targeting women between the age of 40-50 may yield more positive results than showing your ads to women between the age of of 30-40.
Understanding geo-targeting and demographic segmentation is a must when running ads for your local business, as these variables directly impact how effective your ads are in capturing local customers and building brand presence. A skin salon vs a dive-bar, or a Poke Bowl spot will have significantly different demographic segmenting for optimal ad engagement and results.
What Is Retargeting/Remarketing?
As customers discover your business, it is essential to add them to your Instagram and Facebook profile as “followers”, which many local business owners often fail to do. The importance of this is the “retargeting” aspect of these profiles and followers. Even though you may have provided a great service to the customer, we live in a busy world and people forget things rather quickly. Retargeting ads towards your business’s social followers is a great way to keep your business fresh in your customers’ minds.
If you capture customers as Facebook or Instagram followers, you can run ads directly to those individuals for a relatively low cost and share important updates – such as new deals, additions to the menu, or new services (like deliver/takeout options for restaurants). This is a great way to get repeat business and keep your loyal customers remaining interested in your business.
Retargeting can also be taken a step further. For example, if somebody watched a video of your previous ad or even visited your business website sometime in the past 3 months, you can “retarget” those individuals with additional ads on a periodic basis. This can have profound ROI, as you are continuously building rapport with this group of potential customers and making them more and more familiar with your offerings.
Social Profile Synergy & Our Opinion On Email Lists
As mentioned above, social media can be leveraged as a powerful form of retargeting and re-engagement with past customers. Many local businesses always wonder if they should be focusing on social media profile growth or email list building. First of all, we don’t recommend allocating valuable resources into building an email list in 2020 and beyond, as email marketing is seeing diminishing returns year after year. Social media profiles, however, are a fantastic way to stay engaged with customers and allow your customers to help further build your brand FOR YOU through easy sharing and word of mouth marketing that doesn’t cost you a cent.
Your social media profiles will grow exponentially as you run ads and introduce individuals to your business. This will allow customers and followers to share your business profile, fueling continuous and ongoing growth – revealing the full power and scope of marketing your business through social platforms.
And remember, you can easily retarget your social profile followers with ads, promoting seasonal promotions, deals, and new offerings. This is a powerful way to stay relevant and not seem “pesky” (email blasts).
Mobile Map Ads
Facebook map ads can be an extremely powerful tool in growing your business if done correctly. Facebook map campaigns allow you to understand how many people actually saw your ad and showed interest in visiting your business by requesting directions. These ads show your marketing message with a map-based “call-to-action” button, which acts as a trigger that opens up directions to your local business directly on the viewer’s default smartphone map app, may it be Google Maps or Apple Maps.
We are huge fans of directional map ads, as they show how many people showed intent beyond just viewing your ad. You can then calculate a relative percentage of how many of those people visited your location within a reasonable span of time by using a unique coupon code, which gives you an ROI figure for your geo-targeted advertising.
Facebook also currently offers (and is continuously working on improving) ways to directly track walk-ins that were generating from ads automatically, using several points of GPS via a smartphone’s location tracking technology. This feature is currently available to larger companies, such as franchises with multiple locations (with each location required to have its own Facebook Page, as to show the location’s address and other elements). However, manually tracking visitors through unique codes works well, without the additional complexity.
Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business is quickly becoming the most powerful way for new businesses to be discovered. We are noticing a drastic change and evolution in how Google wants people to consume local information. Instead of Google pointing customers to visit a business’s website directly, Google wants to provide that business’s information directly…on Google. They are now in direct competition with Yelp and other major directory websites like Houzz and AngiesList – and Google has a major advantage.
We are experts in developing Google My Business listings and helping client listings be seen ahead of their competitors. We found that the biggest factor in making sure your Google My Business listing gets to the top and stays at the top is simply maintaining its quality. For our clients, our secret formula consists of maintaining their listing with weekly content and relevant link-building that points to the GMB listing. Additionally, it’s important to follow up regularly with past customers who leave a review (and reply to those reviews), as this is a big factor that both Google and new customers use to benchmark you vs local competitors.
Summary Of Elements
Google and Facebook ads are fundamentally different, which you have to make sure to understand. The primary Google ad types (search/shopping), are shown to people actively searching for something in the present moment, with direct intent. However, Facebook ads are delivered to people on Facebook, Instagram, and countless websites/ads, and must entice the viewer towards intent, now or later. However, both forms can be extremely successful for growing your local customers when utilized correctly.
The beauty of geo-ads on both Facebook and Google is their intuitiveness in showing off your business to the right customer. With the power of Google My Business, a potential customer doesn’t have to search for something on Google, then go to a website like Yelp and search some more. Instead,
Let’s Talk Game-plan
Now that you understand the fundamentals of digital advertising, let’s get to the good stuff – a strategy on how you can get things going to get more customers for your local business starting this week.
Step 1 – Account Prep
Step one consists of first setting up your business Facebook Page, Instagram Profile, and Google account. Each account requires a separate registration with an email and password. However, both your Facebook Page and the Instagram account can be linked together under Facebook Page “settings”.
It’s important to make your profiles completely filled out and as detailed as possible, as customers will be visiting them from ads. The more detailed your profiles are, the higher the chance of potential customers following them, which increases your ROI.
Google My Business can be set up here. Your Google My Business account needs to be set up and “verified” after initial setup. To verify your GMB, you must request a postcard to be sent to the address of your business, which contains a code that you can then input into your GMB profile for verification. Once your profile is verified, it will soon be listed in Google Maps and can then be linked to Google Ads. It’s also important to make your GMB profile as detailed as possible, with all business information filled out and images taken from your phone then uploaded to your profile.
If you already have these steps complete, then you are already ahead. Let’s proceed to the next step.
Step 2 – Google Ads Campaign Setup
Step two consists of setting up Google ads. Our aim here isn’t just general Google search ads, but ads that are tied with your Google My Business profile. After setting up both a Gmail and GMB for your business, head to business ads (https://ads.google.com/), and begin setting up this campaign.
Search campaigns are most ideal when growing your local business. These allow your ads to appear in search results and Google Map search results when a potential customer searches for a business keyword that’s relevant to your business or services.
From here, the campaign setup is straight forward. After selecting a campaign, you can then input your conversion objective and call-to-action text. For local businesses, we recommend selecting the “Call” objective, as this will present a large phone button that will allow customers to call in and place an order or schedule an appointment directly with you.
After your objective is selected, you will then be able to put together the text that customers will see in your search results. As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to keep text simple and to the point. To stand out, we recommend including numerals like “#1” when describing your business and numerals for deals like “50% OFF”.
Next, you can begin to input relevant business keywords that your customers may input when searching for services that your business may offer. We don’t recommend more than 20 keywords initially, as it will take time to analyze and determine the keywords that work best. Keyword lists can be scaled over time. “Negative Keywords” can also be added, which blacklist certain keywords or phrases to ensure you don’t appear in results for them. Keywords can be input in several formats from broad to exact match.
After your initial campaign is ready to take off, the last important step is to set up your location “Extension”.
Extensions show up below the primary text and act as a call-to-action. The location extension will allow you to link your Google Ad account to your Google My Business account. The major benefit of using this extension is that it will make your search ads appear in both search results as well as Google Map search results. If you have multiple locations added on Google My Business, they will all be linked to your Google Ads account and the closest location to the searching customer will appear.
As shown in the above screenshot, setting this location extension can be done through the “Extensions” tab of Google Ads. After reaching this section, press the + button and select Location extension. If your GMB and Google Ads profile is the same, they will link straight away, but if you used separate Gmail accounts, you will have to ask the GMB profile for “permission” to be linked to your Google Ad account, which will be emailed to you. After accepting, your GMB locations will be linked with your Google Ad account and your search ads will be linked with your GMB profiles and will begin showing up within the Google map listings.
Many of our clients also ask us about voice-based search answers on devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. In many cases, we notice those platforms use search engines like Google to pool relevant results. Thus, advertising on Google and having your business show up first can have additional benefits pertaining to voice-search that many business owners don’t initially consider. As more and more vehicles become integrated with voice search, having your local business be voice-ready when someone is near you and looking for a related service, will prove extremely beneficial.
– Google Ad Budgeting
Growing companies on average spend roughly 30% of their NET income on advertising to continue expanding their market share. This is even true with large corporations like Apple. However, when starting out with digital advertising, it’s okay to start small – roughly $500-$1000 per month, then scale up accordingly.
– YouTube Ads?
We often get asked if YouTube ads are worthwhile. YouTube ads can be extremely powerful and profitable for many businesses. However, it comes down to the scale of your business area. Once again, if you are attracting customers in a smaller city, your YouTube ads may not prove very successful due to limited reach capability. However for larger, nation-wide businesses, YouTube advertising should definitely be analyzed for ROI. YouTube ads can be quickly set up when choosing a campaign and uploading a video to run throughout YouTube. Keyword/geographic targeting is similar to search campaigns.
Step 3 – Facebook + Instagram Ad Setup
From your personal Facebook account, go to settings and select “Ads Manager“. Any individual Facebook account can create ads from facebook.com/adsmanager, or you can create a dedicated business account (at business.facebook.com) – which you can then link to your Facebook and Instagram accounts. The business account can be a bit too complex and we don’t recommend it unless you have more than three people that are going to manage your ads and have multiple ad accounts. Otherwise, simply go with an “individual” ad account, which is far easier to navigate and manage. You can always link your individual ad account to a Business ad account down the road when the need arises.
From here, you can set up your first “campaign” (click traffic, direct message, lead, etc). Upon setting up your campaign, you can set up multiple “ad sets” within a single campaign, which target different audiences. Within an ad set, you can create multiple “ad units”, which are used to test different images, videos, text, and call-to-actions.
For growing a local business, we prefer “Reach” campaigns, as this campaign allows you to use a “Call Us” call-to-action button (other campaign types don’t allow this), which is very powerful for most local businesses. You can also use “Reach” campaigns to send traffic directly to a landing page on your website where they can schedule an appointment or to your Google My Business profile. Another major benefit of “Reach” campaigns is their ability to control how often viewers see your ad, to limit ad-exhaustion. So unless eCommerce is your focus, “Reach” campaigns are most ideal.
After setting up your campaign, you can create an “ad set”, which is where you determine your geographic range and your targeted audiences (demographics and interests). Once the ad set(s) are ready, you can create an “ad unit”, which consists of your introduction text, image/video, and call-to-action button. As mentioned, you can create multiple ad sets within a campaign to test multiple audiences as well as multiple ad units within an ad set, to test various copywrite, images, and call-to-action buttons to achieve the best results.
– Facebook Ad Retargeting
Retargeting on the Facebook Ad platform is one of its most powerful features. For local businesses, we find that websites doesn’t get a substantial pool of traffic in most cases (initially). However, if you begin running ads to your website, you can retarget those visitors with additional periodic ads, which can continue building your rapport with visitors and convert them into customers over time.
Using video in ads is far better than using a still image in most cases. The reason for this is that you can retarget potential customers that watched your entire video ad or a portion of it. The fact that they watched it makes them a warmer customer lead, so retargeting with additional messages to this segmented audience can prove to have a very high ROI.
Finally, you can retarget individuals that liked or engaged with your Facebook or Instagram account as well. Retargeting this audience can also prove profitable as they showed some level of interest in your business already by engaging with your social profile pages.
Retargeting ads take several steps to set up. You have to first go to the audience tab within Facebook Ad manager. Here, create an audience with variables that focus on retargeting. Once this custom audience is made, you can set it as the target audience within you ad set.
– Facebook Ad Budgeting
A Facebook budget for new local businesses should be at least $500/month, to begin with, then expanding your budget from there as you see fit. This is ideal for smaller local companies but can be increased based on how many offices you have and how much data you want to collect initially. It’s important to understand that the more you spend, the more data you will have at your disposal to improve your ad targeting and long-term ROI. However, you have to take the time to analyze your data and act on it accordingly. Facebook ad platforms are more data-driven than Google in our opinion. This is due to the fact that Facebook is “carrot and stick” based and requires more data to determine who to serve ads to and the best way to serve it to them.
Step 4 – Customer Capture
Understanding the optimal way to capture your customers is critical for growing your business using digital advertising. For example, if you are running a restaurant, you may want to make the “call to action” a phone number to call or a direct link to your Doordash delivery menu. If you are a service firm, you can include a “Call Now” button, a “Send Us A Message” button (that is linked with Facebook Messenger), or a link to your Google My Business profile where the customer can learn more about your business then call or schedule an appointment from GMB.
Once you have both Google and Facebook campaigns running, we recommend waiting several weeks before optimizing existing ads and increasing your budget. Many businesses new to online advertising have the impulse to change ads after just several days. Running ads for just several days doesn’t give you enough data to understand what works and what doesn’t. Thus, it’s best to wait at least a couple of weeks until making major adjustments to your ad campaigns.
Placement refinement is a major element of refining your ad campaigns for better performance. This includes device placement, such as desktop vs mobile. We are seeing that the majority of ads are being seen on mobile devices today, however, the price of serving your ads on a desktop may be cheaper and less competitive opposed to mobile. Thus, it’s an important variable to track and refine.
Secondary, ad platforms give you multiple placements for serving ads, such as the top of search results, map, display partners (Google), as well as main feed, right side Feed, the marketplace, and stories (Facebook). This is the visual location of where the ad appears. It’s important to understand the performance of each location, as the cost and results of how well customers engage with your ad can vary dramatically.
Keyword optimization is a critical aspect to Google campaigns. Keywords are what customers search for on Google search. For example “Dentist in Los Angeles” or “Injury Lawyer San Diego” are keywords you can target. You have to test multiple keywords to determine which keywords are bringing in the best results, at the best price. One thing to note about keywords is that if your ads are already being served in a defined geographic location, it is not necessary to have a geographic location as part of the keyword, as Google’s ad algorithm is smart enough to add in additional geographic variables.
Optimizing your ad audiences should be your primary focus on Facebook when it comes to refinement. Unlike keywords, audiences are determined by Facebook and Instagram to be groups of people interested in certain things (such as people that like a certain Facebook Page or attended a certain event). For example, you can target individuals that love “Hamburgers” if you are a local restaurant with a killer bacon cheeseburger that you are now putting on the takeout and delivery menu and want to promote it.
One audience strategy that has worked well for some of our clients is targeting similar business pages within the ad set. For example, if you are a dentist in Dallas, TX, you may want to target teeth whitening strip companies and also teeth straightening kit brands like Smile Direct Club. This will ensure that the audience viewing your ads have already shown some interest in your industry.
Optimizing the geographic radius of where your ads are being served is also an important adjustments you can make. For example, a law office that services Southern California may have very different results when running ads within the different cities within Southern California. Periodically testing and optimizing this variable is critical for the long-term performance of your ad campaigns and their impact on your business.
An effective call-to-action is critical for all campaigns. Your call-to-action is the trigger to capture new customers. A call-to-action can be a “Call Us Today” button, that when pressed, calls your office to schedule an appointment. Another example can be “Order Today For 10% Off”, with a button leading to your website’s landing page (a page describing your service and contact form), or even a Doordash delivery profile that has your menu ready for delivery orders.
Including a discount code or coupon code within the call-to-action trigger has worked very well for us. As this creates a sense of urgency for customers and makes them feel as though they are getting something really special (which they are). If you have POS (point-of-sale) system that allows to create unique deal codes, you can promote them with ads, and then determine how many people used them at your location.
Lexical Sentiment Analysis
Lexical sentiment analysis has to do primarily with Facebook’s campaigns. As you run ads, Facebook uses a complex algorithm that ranks your ads on several factors. This includes color, imagery content, and several other factors. For example, Facebook prefers ads with happy, smiling people and nature. The reason for this is that Facebook wants people to spend more time on their platform, so keeping their users content and making sure your ads aren’t ruining their mood is a variable they definitely consider and weigh.
Other variables like the amount of comments, emojis, and and likes that your ads on Instagram and Facebook get, also impact cost – as this is factored in as engagement. In some cases, it’s not a good idea to delete “negative” comments either, as Facebook keeps track of this. Allowing for natural conversation is a positive in their eyes. So weigh this factor when looking over the comments that arise in your ad campaigns.
Resources for getting free, royalty-free images and videos to place within your ads include:
Pixabay.com – A great resource to get free images and videos.
Canva.com – Free editing platform to make great promotional images.
About Facebook/Instagram “Lookalike” Audiences
We often get asked about “Lookalike” audiences and their effectiveness when leveraging them on Facebook ads. Lookalike audiences are derived after running general audience ads on the Facebook ad platform or other traceable sources such as your website traffic. After compiling enough data from conversion events or Pixel data, you are able to create an algorithm-generated “lookalike audience”, or an audience that based on previous data, is likely to interact with your ad positively and thus be more likely to turn into a customer.
When it comes to the effectiveness of these lookalike audiences, it depends heavily on your market area. For small local businesses that serve in an area under 100,000 people, lookalike audiences may not be the most practical option, as you are already limited to the pool of people you can market to. However, if your business is in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles or New York City, and your business is more “niche” than your typical Burger Shop, then targeting customers through a lookalike audience filter may prove to be very successful.
– Cross Platforming
One trick that works very well for our clients is creating Facebook ad campaigns that take viewers directly to your Google My Business profile. This leverages your GMB profile (which may contain reviews) and allows potential customers to see the positive things other customers are saying, making it much more likely they will convert into customers themselves.
Additionally, you can have your ads send traffic directly to your Facebook Page, where potential customers can be greeted by a chatbot or live support. Your Facebook Page can then be used to schedule appointments or send traffic off to relevant destinations like your website or a delivery order menu (on Doordash, UberEats..etc). The benefit of send traffic from an ad directly to your Facebook Page is that it tends to be a lot cheaper, as Facebook prefers you to keep people spending time on their platform (for obvious selfish reasons).
Having a strong Facebook Page with more than 5000 likes can give your ads a major boost as well, as Facebook sees you being a “vetted” business opposed to another business having a Facebook Page that is 2 days old and has 6 likes. This can also decrease costs on ads and help you yield better results.
– Chatbot Deployment
Chatbots are another great synergy aspect to consider. A chatbot is an automated system that integrates with your Facebook Page and website, and engages with customers who are messaging you on either one. It can be programmed to guide them towards calling your number, ordering online, booking an appointment, or just giving out general information about your business. This works wonders for small businesses as it frees up the owner and the team from repetitive question/answer tasks. As you run ads and get customers visiting your Facebook Page and website, the chatbot can help gather customer information for future retargeting ads and make the customer acquisition flow streamlined.
– Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
Outside of the primary ad platforms that we’ve gone in depth on in this guide, there are additional platforms for advertising. Clients often ask us whether or not they should run ads on all ad platforms or focus on just one or two primary ones. The most important thing here is to really lock into where your customers are and focus on that platform, especially when it comes down to a smaller business. Each platform has slightly different demographics and the way people engage in them. It may be worthwhile to dig test holes and probe each network for ROI, but once locked-in on where your ideal customer is spending their time, focus on that platform. Advertising on more platforms doesn’t always equate to more profits, especially for local business advertising.
– Take your transactions online.
Many businesses today, including restaurants, shops, and numerous other services are taking transactions online, allowing customers to checkout and/or book services directly from their phone or computer. Transitioning payments online can work wonders with ads, as you can expedite the process of acquiring customers and locking them in before they even have to visit your physical locations. This is for services like local salons but can be applied to almost every local business.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Engaged and relevant traffic to your website is the most powerful method of building SEO on your brand’s website. As your ad campaigns become more optimized and as more relevant traffic is sent to your site, you will see an increasingly positive impact on your SEO growth, helping you rank higher when potential customers search for business-related keywords like “Injury Lawyer in Dallas”.
It’s a challenging time for all businesses right now, especially for the small local segment. That’s why we decided to put our knowledge of things that work for us in growing our clients, into a single blueprint for you and your business to follow. When running ads for the first time, it’s important to come at it with a analytical perspective. Ads can take your business to new heights, but it’s important to take time to sit down and really absorb the data. Be patient with initial campaigns, dig test holes and you will be able to find the winning formula.
Our team at Adwhip refines this blueprint with the latest tactics on a regular basis – so check back. If you subscribed to our Advertiser’s Circle, we send periodic and free tips on additional ways to grow your customers and revenue (which you can unsubscribe from at any time).
You can also schedule a free consultation with an Adwhip ad campaign expert below if you would like further clarification on any points of the blueprint or would like full setup and management of ad campaigns done for you. Consultation calls are between 30-minutes to an hour and are completely free. We’d love to get to know you and help your business prosper.