Content marketing has risen to become one of the top marketing strategies in recent times, with most organizations now investing at least some part of their marketing budget on a content strategy.
In fact, a recent survey by Content Marketing Institute found that nearly 76% organizations in the U.S planned to increase content creation in 2016
However, the same study also concluded that only 30% respondents considered their content marketing efforts effective.
Having worked with several B2B and B2C organizationst, I believe lack of focus is one of the biggest reasons behind ineffective content marketing campaigns.
When your content strategy doesn't have a clearly defined reader, and a very specific niche focus, it's hard to differentiate yourself and engage readers.
And this lack of focus hurts local businesses the most.
Niche focus is the backbone of any local content marketing strategy. Everything from your website and blog design to the topics of your blog posts needs to be tailored for your local audience.
Content marketing often requires heavy time and resource investments - investing in a weak or unfocused strategy is the last thing you'd want to do.
Here are a few key points you need to consider while creating a local content marketing strategy.
1. Create a Strong Local Brand Image
Before you start creating content and driving traffic to your website, you need create a strong brand image that appeals to your local audience. This includes things like your website URL, design, brand name etc.
For example, a simple URL like Webdeveloper.sydney'' immediately tells visitors that you're specifically targeting Sydney based clients.
Similarly, you need to mold your website design according to the preferences of local customers - the Indian website version of Coca Cola is a great example
When a local customer visits your website, you need to make him feel comfortable and at home. It helps you build rapport with the visitors and increases their chances of taking action on your site.
2. Create Actionable Blog Content Tailored for Local Audiences
The quality and usefulness of your blog content will ultimately determine the success or failure of your content marketing strategy.
When coming up with content ideas, you need to be as specific and targeted as possible. Identify the biggest problems within your target audience and create content that's full of actionable insights.
To find content ideas that resonate with your audience, you can use tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo.
Both these tools can be used to identify blog posts and other content types that have performed well on different social networks. You can also find blog posts with the highest number of backlinks.
Note down the best performing titles on a separate sheet and search for similar topics on Google just to get a better idea of the kind of content that resonates with your audience.
Again, focus is the key here.
For example, for a legal consultancy business in New York, targeting local customer, the following blog titles/subjects would make perfect sense:
"Registering a Business in New York: A Step by Step Guide for Registering a New Company"
"Divorce Cases on the Rise in New York: 17 Eye-Opening Stats from the Past Year"
Similarly, a Chinese restaurant in Seattle could use something like this:
"Chinese Food in Seattle: 5 Delicious Recipes You Need to Try Today"
In short, focus on the problems of your local audience and try to make a real difference with your content. Offer solutions that are actionable and effectively resolve problems.
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, shared this great piece of advice with local business content marketers.
"Let's say someone rounded up all your content and placed it in a box like it never existed. Would anyone miss it? Would you leave a gap in the marketplace? If the answer to this is no, then you have a problem"
3. Develop a Targeted Guest Blogging Strategy
Guest blogging is a super effective strategy when it comes to branding and reputation building - it's one of the best ways to 'borrow' credibility by featuring your business on high authority blogs and magazines in your niche.
You need to make guest blogging a part of your local content marketing strategy, however to really benefit from it, you need to identify relevant blogs in your niche which are also popular among your target audience to ensure your content is reaching the people you want.
Google search is an easy way to find relevant guest blogging opportunities. Search for your niche keywords + "write for us", "guest blogging", "guest author", "contribute" or other related terms.
Twitter is another place where you can look for guest blogging opportunities.
90% of the time when people write guest posts on high authority blogs, they Tweet about it as well. Search for them on Twitter.
You can approach such blogs with your own guest contribution - but make sure that the blogs you choose are directly related to your industry and your audience, otherwise you won't get any benefit.
4. Leverage Local Trends and Hashtags for Targeted Social Media Promotion
Following local social media trends not only helps you create relevant content for your audience, but also makes it easier for you to promote your content to the right people.
You only need to keep an eye on the trending topics in your target area, and use relevant hashtags while promoting your content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram etc.
Twitter is the best place to find trending topics - most of the time, the topics that are trending on Twitter also trend on other social networks.
You can change the trend location of Twitter to your city to get an understanding of exactly what your local audience is talking about.
Another way is to simply search for your city or location on Twitter to see related conversations.
Social media is about engagement and interaction, so you can't just use these trending hashtags with your Tweets and expect people to notice you, this approach usually doesn't work.
Instead, you should become a part of the conversations happening on social media, engage people and build relationships. In between, you can push your content on Twitter (and other social networks) with relevant hashtags.
5. Engage Your Local Community in Offline Events and Activities
When you link your online content marketing activities with local offline events, it can become a hugely effective combination.
As a local business owner, you're much more connected with your community since you work and live among them. You can use this reach to fuel your online content marketing efforts as well.
Use your blog and social media content to promote events and encourage people to participate. It not only helps you understand their needs much better, but also builds credibility and creates brand loyalty.
Content marketing is one of the best ways for local businesses to connect with their target audience, differentiate themselves, and truly demonstrate their industry knowledge. It can help you earn expert status in your local community and help you build a loyal brand following.