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10 Mistakes That Start-Up Companies Make With Local Digital Marketing


Large companies are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of keeping their digital marketing efforts local, especially when they are a multi-location business. Such businesses are a source of major competition for start-ups who are entering into the market, especially when they are introducing a product or service that would be in direct competition with that of a larger business.

“The difference between your start-up bowing to the competition and holding its own is determined by how seriously you take localised digital marketing and how well you do it. Your sole advantage at this point could be that the big brands in your niche or other competitors are too busy paying attention to their national marketing campaigns that they completely ignore or don’t focus enough on local digital marketing. Take advantage of that!.” – Start Up Finance Company

Why digital marketing is going local

Digital marketing is becoming more local by the day because smart businesses understand that:

  • Marketing local equals higher visibility

When was the last time you made a Google search and found that the first results were businesses closest to you, with Google Maps showing you exactly where they were? That is Google’s way of helping users find the most relevant search results. This is part of the reason why smaller local businesses are often higher up the rankings in SERPs.

  • Consumers prefer to buy locally

Buying from a local brand feels more personal than buying from a large corporate entity because it feels good to buy from local people who will engage with you. People would rather buy from a trusted seller who is part of the local community and relevant to their geographical location.  

Mistake number one: Trying to compete on the national or international level

One of the worst ways to make sure your digital marketing campaign fails before it ever starts is to try to compete with older, larger brands for the wider audience. It is a war you will lose and no one might even notice. That is how pathetic it is really, yet start-ups continue to make this mistake. When you are starting, you need to start from the inside out, from those who are closer to you before expanding to a national or international audience. It is okay to want to want your business to expand as soon as possible, but long-term success requires careful planning.

Think about it, does it make sense to try to compete with Amazon? This is a company that has truckloads of money to spend on digital marketing and they are a household name – think Michael Jackson status. Trying to target the entire country or world audience won’t work; in fact, there isn’t much targeting there. Make your products and services easily accessible to those within your locale first and particularly target those areas your competitors aren’t doing too well.

For instance, if you are a physical store selling products people often order from Amazon, you could offer customers a killer in-shop experience which Amazon doesn’t have yet. Also, make your store easily accessible to those around you so they don’t prefer to order online because your store is hard to reach.

 Focus on local discoverability so people in your area think of you first before they think of a ‘less local’ brand. Remember that search engines such as Google and Bing reward local efforts in a bid to help users find the most relevant information. This alone can help you beat the bigger brands in SERPs.

Mistake two: Failing to plan or keep a documented strategy

Like you plan how your budget will be spent and follow a business plan, so must you have a properly documented strategy for your local digital marketing efforts. There has to be a plan for what you will do with paid, owned and earned media, as well as how they would complement one another.

Three: Lack of investment in paid media

One of the biggest problems start-ups have is limited capital and that does draw them back in many instances. This is part of why many start-ups fail to invest in paid media such as AdWords and Facebook Ads, among others. It takes sufficient capital to be able to use these digital marketing channels, but pending the time such capital becomes available, there should be a plan. There is no amount set in stone that is required before a paid media campaign can have an effect.

The other reason many start-ups don’t invest in paid media is they feel they won’t see any returns from it. This sort of thinking is wrong because paid media forms an essential part of any digital marketing strategy by driving traffic and promoting content.

Four: Lack of digital marketing expertise

Again, due to limited capital, most start-ups prefer to handle their marketing themselves with all hands on deck to put the company’s name out there. The problem with this approach is there is no real knowledge upon which the business’s marketing efforts are based. If a company cannot afford to maintain a consultant or an agency to deal with digital marketing, it would make sense to train one or two members of staff on how to properly market the company using local digital marketing techniques. Another way might be to offer to pay a consultant via products, services, skills, or stock.

Five: Focusing too much on content marketing and social media

As a start-up, chances are you would want to focus on new customer acquisitions more than on brand awareness. The problem however, is many start-ups focus more on content marketing and social media which are not great lead gen channels, especially social media. Whether this is due to a limited budget or a lack of understanding of how these channels work, it won’t help with gaining new local customers.

Six: Not creating local business pages

Bing Places for Business, Facebook Pages, and Google+ Local Pages are all places where you must have a local business page as they appear in SERPs when users make a search including your business category and region or city. While those are the major ones, there are others like Yelp profiles, Manta,, Foursquare, and LinkedIn Company Pages. By simply creating these pages, you will be helping potential customers find you and raising your online exposure levels.

Seven: Not following your own brand

It goes beyond simply creating local business pages; many start-ups create those pages and simply forget about them. Instead, you must continue to oversee the pages at least once or twice a month. Many also fail to do searches for their own brand, or follow their social media accounts. The only way to experience your brand the way your target audience might is to follow yourself and do regular checks. This way, you know how much of your efforts are paying off. Also, pay attention to analytics tools that let you measure how your local digital marketing campaigns are faring.

Eight: Ignoring local reviews

Reviews are one of the key ingredients to ensure success in local digital marketing. Often, start-ups forget that reviews exist and don’t recognise how much of a difference they can make. In other cases, they don’t pay enough attention to reviews and end up getting poor reviews in different places without even being aware of it. Businesses need to occasionally comb the internet to find places where they might have received a bad review.

Whether it is Google+ Local Pages, Yelp, or any other channel, start-ups need to get proactive and encourage their local customers to leave them reviews. As for bad reviews, you can show that you care by replying customers courteously and genuinely trying to right a wrong where possible.

Nine: Using the wrong SEO keywords

The right SEO keywords to use if your goal is local digital marketing are local keywords but unfortunately, a good number of start-ups don’t realise this. You must research the search terms customers use when they are trying to find businesses within your area and experiment with different keyword combinations. Via testing, it becomes easy to discover the highest performing keywords. Businesses must not forget such useful tools as geo-targeting for paid search ads. Also, adding the name of the region or city to terms relevant to your industry is a must.

Ten: Not paying enough attention to other local businesses

Backlinks remain one of the most important SEO tactics. Often, start-ups focus on getting backlinks from authority sites without bothering whether or not those sites have any impact on their local digital marketing efforts. To use backlinks to improve local marketing, one way is to ask for relevant links from local websites. Of course, this is not a onetime affair, you must be willing to gradually accumulate quality backlinks over time.

On a final note

Local digital marketing is not difficult once you know what to do. Once you have created a strategy, be sure to follow it through, but be sure to update it as needed from time to time.


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