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How to drive foot traffic to your local business through online channels

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Geotarget your search marketing campaigns and establish an online presence on local search Web sites.

Millions of businesspeople hop on the Web to find local retailers, contractors and other busi- nesses. Make sure your business is found by running localized search marketing campaigns and submitting listings on popular local search Web sites. At the end of the day, if you get X people in the door, Y are bound to become paying customers.

Furthermore, using both display and search ads raises in-store conversion rates, compared to using only one tactic, according to eMarketer ("Search and Display Work Better Together," Aug. 2007). Forty-three percent of consumers who saw both types of ads made in-store purchases, according to the company, compared with 26% who saw search ads only, and 6% who saw display ads only. Consumers who saw both types of ads spent 83% more than those who hadn't seen either type of ad.

Here are two programs you could implement:

  • Use the geotargeting features available in Google AdWords (google.com/ads), Yahoo Search Marketing (searchmarkeitng.yahoo.com) and Microsoft adCenter (adcenter.microsoft.com) to drive foot traffic to your business. You'll have an option of targeting predefined geographic locales, such metropolitan areas, states or specific cities, or you can select a radius around your local business address. All programs are available on a per-click pricing structure.
  • Set up business listings on Web sites specializing in local search. Each Web site by itself will never generate substantial traffic. On aggregate, however, you will be considerably improving the reach and frequency of your brand for the local audience. The following sites offer free listings: Google.com/local, Local.com, Local.Yahoo.com, SuperPages.com and YellowPages.com.

Local businesses are inherently better situated to win new business on the Web over their online competitors because they are local. Why go fish in somebody else's pond when there is still room and savings associated with targeting local markets online?

Greg Laptevsky is a senior pay-per-click specialist at Internet marketing company Prime Visibility (www.primevisibility.com).

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