6 Customer Acquisition Strategies for Small Local Businesses

For those who have a small local business, such as a hairdresser, a beautician, a shop in the province, very often the promotion and marketing is reduced to word of mouth, the care of the window and some traditional marketing activities such as leafleting.

On the other hand, online marketing is often seen as a business for sites ecommerce or big business.

In this post we are going to see how in reality web marketing can be applied in a performant and targeted way also to small local activities, far from big centres, whose customers are often people who live in the neighbourhood of the activity.

The 6 customer acquisition strategies for small or medium-sized local businesses that we will discuss allow the owner of a shop to intercept people who coincide with their target in a restricted geographical area, such as the surroundings of a neighborhood or a municipality.

Let's see them together, starting with the first, the notoriety in the area of Facebook Advertising.

Facebook Advertising mileage

Update: "notoriety in the area" is no longer available as a promotional goal, but you can still target for very low mileage spokes.

Notoriety in the area is a function of Facebook Advertising which allows you to show your Facebook ads to people who live within a pre-defined mileage range.

Once in the Facebook Advertising Ad Manager, choose the goal "Reach people close to your business":

notoriety in facebook ads area

Once done, enter the address of your local business and choose the mileage range in which to display the listings, starting at one kilometer:

reach people close to your company facebook ads

Why is notoriety in the area an effective tool for local businesses?

Why local businesses have a clientele that usually comes from the surrounding area.

Let's make an example: Paolo is a hairdresser who has his salon in the province of Padua, in Conselve, 20 km from the center.

Who is Paolo's (target) clientele?

Probably women, aged between 25 and 65, who live within 5 km of the salon. Warning, I do not claim that this is an exact target, in any case it is highly plausible that a business such as a hairdresser has a clientele that lives in the vicinity of the store.

That's why zone awareness can be an effective strategy for Paolo: because it allows him to go right to making himself visible to potential customers in his area of influence with a specific strategy, such as a cut or a color at a competitive price.

The Targeting by Radius of Google Ads

Also Google Ads, Google's advertising program, allows you to show your ads to people who are in a specific geographic area or have expressed interest in it.

Once you create a Campaign, in the location section of the settings you can choose a specific province location.

Let's go back to the case of Paolo the hairdresser in Conselve: in this case Paolo will be able to select not only the municipality where his business is located.

Google AdWords campaign management locations

But also select a kilometer radius from a specific address, again starting at 1 km:

Google AdWords campaign management targeting by radius

Similar to Facebook Ads zone awareness, targeting by radius of Google Ads allows you to target your ad in a radius close to where your business is located.

Google Ads' radius targeting and Facebook Advertising's area awareness are ideal tools for any business, be it hairdressers, takeaway pizzerias, restaurants, DIY stores, whose potential customers come from the surrounding area.

Google My Business

We've seen how a local business can make itself visible on Google with radius targeting. But this mode of Google Ads targeting is not the only way to make yourself visible on Google.

As you know, making yourself visible on Google is possible not only with Google Ads sponsored results but also among the organic results. SEO.

But be careful: for a local business, a traditional organic positioning, i.e. using keywords, is an unwise strategy. Let's try to understand why with an example.

Let's assume to have a restaurant - trattoria again in Conselve, or in any municipality not very close to a big city.

The first step of an organic positioning job SEO is the choice of keywords. In our case, from a quick brainstorming, could emerge keywords such as "Conselve restaurant" or "trattoria Conselve".

If we go check on Google Ads Keyword Planning tool how many people Google our words, that's what we find out:

Google AdWords keyword planning tool

With 20 or 30 monthly local searches, even ranking first or second on the first page, with an estimated CTR of 10-15% we would probably get 4 visits a month, which is a bit limited, especially as visits do not mean bookings!

If we then go to see the relative search results for these keywords, we notice that the first results are occupied by Google maps:

restaurants conselve Search with Google

The results you see in this SERP are probably the most effective way to be visible on Google without Google Ads: to insert your business among these results you must first subscribe to Google My Businesswhich allows you to highlight the right information about your business in Google Search and Maps.

This way verified information about your business can be displayed on Google Maps, allowing potential customers to make your contacts, ratings and reviews about your business visible:

Google My Business

Once you have inserted your business on Google My Business, you must proceed with some shrewdness for the positioning of your business on Google Maps, the so-called Local SEO.

Sms Marketing

We've seen a few strategies for reaching potential customers who reside within a mile radius of your business.

But how to do sell more to current customers? Or simply connect with those who come into the store without buying, such as those who come into a clothing store just to "check it out"?

Let's assume the case of Paola, who has a clothing store in the province.

Someone sees the window, goes in and takes a look: they'll probably leave without buying, because they have to think about it or who knows.

A great way to connect to the user and be able to inform him of any promotions or other, in short to make him return to the store, is to create a "loyalty card" that allows discounts or promotions: in exchange for a discount on the first purchase you could ask your customer to leave their details.

That way you can get:

  • the mobile phone number to send SMSas we shall see in a moment;
  • other contact details such asemailuseful for subsequent email marketing;
  • information like gender, location... that can help you understand your target audience.

SMS is a way direct, fast information to your potential customerespecially if your target audience is made up of people who don't use email so much or if your communications need to be communicated promptlyas in the case of flash promotions.

Effective first and foremost because of their nationwide coverage: mobile devices are the tool with the highest degree of penetration among the population: 97% of Italians own one, for a total of almost 50 million devices.

Once you have the mobile phone numbers of your potential customers, you can use systems to send SMS about promotions or other events, with systems such as SendinBlue.

But are SMS really effective as a marketing tool?

According to a statistic by Nielsen, The Mobile Consumer of February 2013, in Italy:

  • 89% of respondents spent most of their time on their mobile phones texting and receiving text messages;
  • 22% stated that it also received advertising by messagechoosing it as the preferred mobile channel.

With regard to SMS advertising, according to a statistic reported by Ninja Marketing on SMS Marketing, the return on investment of an SMS discount coupon campaign is between 15% and 40%, compared to 2% for traditional printed coupons;

According to a study carried out by Vola.it, sms marketing:

  • has universal distribution: 90% of those with mobile phones use SMS (compared to 22% who use email from mobile);
  •  is direct and relevant: 97% of SMS are read within 5 minutes of receipt (compared to 10% of email);
  •  is immediate and allows for interactivity: the 32% of those who receive a promotional SMS responds/interacts to it.

Email Marketing

As we have seen, a "loyalty card" can be an effective way to gain leads and information about our customers and prospects.

Next to SMS, one method of communication can be email.

Unlike SMS, emails are obviously less immediate and direct and therefore can be exploited in 2 ways:

Instagram Ads (Facebook Advertising)

Advertising Instagram for Business.

We return to Paola, the owner of a provincial clothing store.

Fashion, like other industries, relies heavily on the visual aspect, on images, on photos: what better channel on the web to enhance visual content like Paola's shop clothes with social visuals like Instagram?

In addition to creating their own profile on the 2 socials, a local business like a clothing store can increase the visibility of their products with the respective advertising programs of the social, Instagram Ads: let's see it together.

The Instagram advertising program can be managed as a "placement" through the Facebook Advertising program.

It's clear that, similarly to what we've seen for the "local awareness" objective, you'll need to target people who live near your business.


The big challenge for the small business owner is trying to use marketing tools that allow them to intercept their target audience and at the same time get a return on their investment.

If the means traditionally used, such as leafleting and billboards or newspaper ads are hardly able to intercept the target of potential customers and even less to make the entrepreneur understand the relative return on investment, the 6 web marketing strategies for small local businesses that we have seen in this post allow you to:

  • Precisely define and reach the target of your potential customers, especially if they are interested in a geographically defined area;
  • proceed with a lower investment than other channels and absolutely variable, as in the case of Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or even free as in the case of Google My Business;
  • understand the exact ROI, the return on investment of the initiative.

What tool does your provincial business use to acquire customers? Let's talk about it in the comments!

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