Local Web Marketing - 20 Minutes Per Day

Everyone on the Internet seems to be going local these days, and it seems to be the key to success for many small business with a Web presence - especially companies that focus primarily on their brick-and-mortar stores.

In a world where consumers are constantly monitoring review sites, looking for special deals and using their mobile devices to check-in at various locations, a local Web presence is absolutely crucial to keep you from getting lost in the shuffle. However, as any business owner can attest, time is your greatest asset. But fear not, because it is actually entirely possible to create and maintain a top-notch local Web marketing campaign and spend no more than 20 minutes a day working on it. Just work on these six tasks whenever you have a few extra minutes to spare:

Create Listings/Profiles
This may seem obvious, but you can't really do anything about your local Web presence until you've established your place on local listing and check-in sites like Yelp or Foursquare (or any one of these). Also, it's important to make sure that you are listed on Google Places. You'll likely appear in Google searches one way or another, but by having a Places listing, you'll have much more control over what is presented and how users see your company.

Setting up these profiles requires little more than simply filling out the required information (business name, address, phone number, etc.) and then following the verification steps, which is usually done over phone or mail. This can typically be done quickly (depending on how prepared you are), as in like just 10-15 minutes per site.

Update Profile
Once your profile is out there, check it periodically to make sure all of the information is up-to-date and useful for curious shoppers.

Encourage Reviews
User-generated reviews are, without question, the most important aspect of the local Web experience, as consumers searching for your business will base most of their decisions on these reviews. Thus, you should encourage your customers to go online and spread your message. This can be done at various points throughout that day, from your Facebook/Twitter feeds, via email or even in your brick-and-mortar store. The best part is, it never takes more than a couple of seconds to ask; in fact, it can be as simple as putting a sign next to your cash register.

Basically, any time you have a clearly satisfied customer, maybe after a particularly helpful in-store transaction or just a very complimentary Facebook fan, politely ask that they consider dropping by Yelp and writing a review about their experience(s) with your business. The more that you have, the better you're going to look to prospective shoppers, so take advantage of the kindness of your customer base.

Respond to Reviews
For as helpful as a good online review can be for your business, a bad review can be far worse. That's why you should always take a few minutes every day to look around Yelp, or other listing sites that you may be on, and look for any negative reviews. If you can offer some information or help that will alleviate the user's issue, you should absolutely respond to the review and attempt to rectify the situation. This shows other users that you take an interest in addressing the concerns of your customers.

Incentivize New Customers
Fact: When people are looking for places to shop online, they're usually looking for good deals. At the very least, they'll give a worthwhile deal greater consideration.

If you're trying to catch the attention of local shoppers online, one of the best ways to do that is to create special promotions that will provide them with the incentive needed to visit your store and make a purchase. One of the best platforms for doing this is Foursquare, where business owners can promote offers for customers who check-in at their store. Be weary, though, because this kind of deal has become a standard and is now expected by Foursquare users, so make sure that your promotion is unique enough to interest prospective shoppers. Yelp also allows businesses to create special deals that are exclusive the site.

Reward Recurring Customers
Business owners can probably agree that while bringing in new customers is important, the real money is made by turning them into repeat customers.

You can do this by creating special rewards every time a customer checks in, so that they may be willing to come back more often if they were satisfied the first time. Another take on this is to create loyalty rewards, where customers get an extra special deal after a certain number of check-ins. This is a quick and easy way to encourage customers to continue returning to your business.