Golden Rules for Integrating Local and Digital Marketing


The best strategy includes digital, mobile and traditional options that capture customers’ attention in multiple places and drive them to your door.

By Christine Kropp

Many brick and mortar businesses whose customer base is primarily local, find digital marketing a tough nut to crack. Often, local business owners struggle to find (and achieve) relevancy in the Internet jungle. From followers and engagement that is nowhere near their local audience, to confusing rules for higher placement in search-engine results, many aspects of digital marketing seem like an uphill battle -- or even a waste of time -- to local business owners.

In my experience perfecting local marketing campaigns for franchises, I’ve seen digital marketing done without thinking about the local audience, but a business whose clientele is primarily local, e.g. pizzeria, hair salon, gym, brick and mortar retail operation, needs online marketing that works alongside a strong local marketing effort.

At Bluewater, we follow some “Golden Rules” for digital marketing that ensure our clients’ local businesses succeed.

1. Know your destination before you embark on a digital marketing journey

What’s the reason you’re taking your marketing online? You need to have a clearly defined set of goals by which you can measure success. A big part of knowing where you should market online is knowing your audience. With so many options for locally targeted digital marketing, it’s a challenge to find the ideal channels for your business. Whittling down the options to only the ones that actually reach your key audience is essential. This can be done by:

• Using Google Analytics, or another similar tool for tracking metrics. If your marketing is digital, your website tells the tale of what works to drive traffic. (And if you’re not making sales, a review of your website and the customer experience is in order.) If you don’t know how to analyze your metrics, hire someone who does. Analytics will tell how customers are finding you, so you know where to focus your efforts. You’ll also be able to determine the channels that aren’t performing well, and cut them loose.

• Asking customers how they found you. When they make a purchase, they may be willing to say if they found you through an ad in the local newspaper, on Google AdWords, through social media, word-of-mouth, or any other ways you’re trying to drum up business. This is the simplest way to find out what’s working. However, customers may not always answer the question; that’s why it’s important to have more than one way of measuring progress.

2. Go mobile, because your customers are

Global Web Index reports 80 percent of Internet users search with their smartphones. And 80 percent of smartphone users shop on their devices. Figure in that 70 percent of consumers who find a business on their mobile devices act within an hour. These are astounding statistics that prove you have to have a website that is optimized for mobile. Responsive design is critical. If your site takes too long to load or can’t be read or navigated easily on a mobile screen, you will lose business.

Any digital marketing tactics you employ need to work with mobile devices, too. If an ad you buy doesn’t translate well on a mobile screen, you should look for more mobile-inclusive alternatives.

3. Get to the bottom of search-engine marketing

Ranking well organically in search engines is difficult, unless your company is a big brand with enormous resources. But if you discover from research that customers are finding you through search engines (e.g. Google, Bing or Yahoo), then it’s worth looking into paid listings. An ad on Google AdWords, with the right optimization, can place you above the competition when people search for keywords related to your business. And you can usually buy these ads on a pay-per-call option, so you’ll only pay when someone actually clicks your link. Furthermore, a PPC option lets you pay only when someone actually calls your business through the ad, a good idea if you generate a lot of mobile business. The important thing is good optimization for your ads -- they must have the right keywords and effective copy. If the ad network you’re using lets you test different ads to see which performs best, take advantage of that feature until you’ve got it right.

Google is a key player these days. Studies show that more than 70 percent of mobile searchers call a business directly from a Google search result. Google My Business, a free service, integrates with Google Maps and Google+ to let customers looking for you on mobile devices easily find out more, call, or provide directions to visit your business in person.

4. Traditional marketing is still alive

While digital marketing is worthy of a big place in your overall marketing strategy, you will find traditional marketing options that work well. If your customers say they found your business through a postcard mailing, then that’s a tactic to keep using. 

Going back to our first rule, if you know most of your customers are older and not as tuned in to the Internet and mobile, offline advertising could still be your best bet. 

Don’t cancel all your traditional ads and plunge exclusively into digital and mobile. Instead, integrate the two with the same visuals and messaging. Experimentation is crucial to discover which channels should get the most of your budget, so be prepared to track each option’s success, or lack thereof. 

The best overall strategy is a comprehensive one that includes digital, mobile and traditional options that capture customers’ attention in multiple places and ultimately drives them to your door.

Christine Kropp is the founder and CEO of Bluewater. Find her at