Five Online Advertising Tools to Help Small Businesses Reach Local Customers

Small businesses often need only reach customers within a small radius. Until recently, these businesses simply placed ads in local newspapers and through local TV and radio stations to reach those customers. But with the rapid growth of social media marketing and online advertising services, local businesses are left looking for ways to narrow marketing to local customers.

Several exciting tools provide local businesses with the ability to target ads to only those people in the immediate area. By maximizing marketing efforts, businesses can save time while maximizing ROI.

  • Facebook Advertising–Facebook advertisers are required to at least specify a target country for ads. Experts recommend shifting ads for various zip codes to maximize success. If your business services areas with very set demographics, you can create a different ad for each area, specifying zip codes for each one. Since Facebook is still the most popular social media site, it’s a great way to reach local customers as they’re connecting with friends. Don’t forget traditional Facebook marketing. Your business likely has a largely local following, so posting current specials and new products or services can be a great way to reach local customers without spending a dime.
  • Google Local–Through Google Plus Local, local businesses can set up a presence to get the attention of local customers. With Google Adwords’ Express, ads are presented based on where the Google user is located when he or she initiates a search, ensuring ads are seen only by those in the immediate area.
  • Yelp–For small businesses, a presence on Yelp is a must. Yelp provides local businesses targeted ads through ads on its search engine and on pages for related businesses. This locally-targeted ad placement is especially important in the mobile age, since Yelp’s users are increasingly searching for businesses on mobile devices.
  • Manta–Manta specializes in spotlighting businesses, so the site is naturally accommodating to local businesses. Manta offers several ways for businesses to pay for better exposure on local business pages on the site. Businesses have the option of paying for premium business listings on the site, as well as building pages that will show up more prominently in Google search rankings. Manta also offers more widespread ad placement, but the site’s small business feature lets small businesses create pages that will help them network with other businesses and reach customers.
  • edo Marketplace–edo Interactive recently unveiled edo Marketplace, an advertising initiative that allows businesses to extend offers to specific local customers. Offers are specifically tailored to individual customers’ shopping habits, with businesses able to measure ROI using real-time analytics. edo Marketplace will be rolled into 2Go Media, but businesses can use the service as a standalone application.

As small businesses investigate new ways to reach local customers in the electronic age, popular sites will continue to find ways to target ads to a narrow group of customers. With today’s advanced analytics, it’s possible to not only target to users in a certain area, but also to customize ads to a customer’s buying history, browsing and web search behaviors, and specific demographics.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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