After getting listed in online directories, setting up SEO-optimized websites, and creating profiles on popular social channels, running a PPC campaign is the next logical step for local business marketers. Having an optimized website is the foundation for attracting organic traffic but it can take several months before organic efforts take effect, so most local businesses still need online advertising to get their websites in front of specific users searching for businesses like theirs.
Businesses with little experience managing PPC campaigns will typically select industry-specific keywords without targeting their campaigns to the specific communities they serve. This strategy works to some degree if a business is selling to a global audience—for example, an e-commerce retailer. But running a generic PPC campaign without targeting will rarely generate a positive return on investment.
Location, Location, Location
The key to cutting wasted spending and maximizing results is segmenting online ads by location. This is known as geo-targeting or local PPC. Although most businesses will want to target to the city or county level, some businesses with brick-and-mortar establishments may be able to dig even deeper, down to the postal code or neighborhood level.
Here are three steps to setting up a geo-targeted PPC campaign:
Select campaign goals. Online campaign goals can be anything from acquiring new customers to driving more telephone calls. A business’s specific goals will determine the keywords, demographics, and locations to be chosen to target in a PPC campaign.
Define a target audience. In most cases, businesses will want to target down to the country, region, city, or zip code level. Depending on the platform, a business may be able to target neighborhoods or the radius around landmarks, such as local arenas or malls. Demographics are tied to location, as well. Geographic segmentation provides businesses with the opportunity to target ads to groups of consumers based on things like income or age.
Select unique creative messages for specific locations. When designing campaigns, digital agencies will often identify unique creative messages to be delivered to users at specific locations. Using experiments and testing, businesses may discover that certain messages are more effective in selected zip codes. Targeting those messages is yet another way to improve ROI from a PPC campaign.
Analyze, Revise, Hone
Getting a geo-targeted PPC campaign set up is just the beginning. Local businesses must be aware that budget can be wasted because of “strategic and managerial errors.” The best way to avoid these errors is by continuing to refine campaigns as the results roll in. Here are three tips for maximizing the value of a geo-targeted PPC campaign:
Allocate budgets to the best performing locations. The locations that a business excludes are just as important as the areas included. Excluding specific areas, which prevents ads from running in those locations, reduces wasted spending.
Control keywords at the location level. Targeting campaigns at the city or postal code level gives businesses more control over keywords and landing pages. Business owners can also use search term reports to see which keywords are being triggered by visitors coming from different areas. This is particularly important for businesses with services that vary by location. (For example, an insurance broker that only sells flood or fire insurance to homeowners in certain zip codes.) In addition, geographic bid modifiers can give businesses control of keywords based on the locations where their ads are displayed.
Create specific landing pages for geo-targeted ads. Landing pages should be designed with specific calls to actions based on location, and they should include content that matches the intent of the visitor. Including keywords referenced in the ad copy on the landing page reassures customers that they’ve found what they were searching for. Pages with driving directions and local phone numbers, for example, often have higher click-through rates than more generalized ads.