For most people, "ecommerce websites" are sites that sell products nationally or internationally. And while that is true, these same websites can be structured to target a specific geographic region, instead of trying to sell to the whole world. Therefore, regardless of the product, service, information or the regional market to which it pertains, every company should have a website. The secret to making regionalized websites work, is in knowing how to modify the marketing to focus on a specific region. In other words, if you have a local business that can only be marketed locally in your town, then a website can work!
Imagine you are a Dentist. You serve a base of patients that usually live within reasonable driving distance for your office. Can a website serve you? Would anyone in a far-away place even consider traveling to your office to have a cavity filled? Of course not. So then what is the point of having a website? Good question.
But what if there were promotion techniques that you could implement that would make your website visible in your local community? What if you could generate 20 to 50 unique visitors a day from your local community, or even within a 20 mile radius of your office? That equates to easily over 500 visitors a month from your local community. If your website visitors converted to patients at a 2% conversion rate, you would be getting 10 new patient inquiries each month. But wait a minute! Typically, it is parents who shop for a dentist, right? But if a mother becomes your patient through finding your website, she is eventually going to bring her whole family in to see you, too. I think you get the point here. One inquiry could lead to several new patients. So here is the key question: How much is a new patient "worth" to your practice? How many new patients do you need to get from the Internet before you cover your entire cost of setting up and promoting your website? It would likely just take a couple of new patients. And that is the big point. For a regional service-oriented business, the Internet is probably not going to flood you with dozens of new clients every day. But it could do that on a monthly or even possibly a weekly basis. Ultimately, a properly promoted website is a very cost effective addition to your overall marketing efforts.
What is the purpose of the local site?
Before we move on to promoting the site and driving local traffic, we should first discuss some issues related to the site design itself, as these are crucial to the success of a local website. The first question to ask is: What is the purpose of the site? There are possible answers:
- Direct Product Sales
- Lead Generation
The important point here, is to begin to think of the Internet in terms of a local advertising tool that is very flexible in what you need it to do for you. It doesn’t have to be selling and shipping stuff. As you consider your local website, be sure to make a clear call to action (see Dialing It In, for more information on a call to action) that instructs visitors on what to do. Example: Call to schedule an appointment for a free checkup and cleaning.
Driving Local Traffic
Let's look at just a few of the strategies we can use to regionalize your marketing efforts to bring in visitors from your desired region whether that region is a city, state, or even a country.
- Vertical Portals
- Regional Portals
- Link Trading
- Regionalizing Pay-Per-Click Search Engines By Country
The bottom line here is that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for any company--no matter what the product, service, or information sold or promoted on the site--to not have a website. With a little modification in promotional strategies, any business with a regional focus can enjoy success with their Internet marketing efforts. It is not a mystery, but like anything else worth doing, takes a little time and effort.