Welcome to the Local Marketing Tools section, a curated list of tools for local service-based businesses. These are the tools that I use regularly in my job at a plumbing company. Some I’ve brought over from my past experience in website design and online marketing, while others I only discovered while trying to find a solution for daily problems as a local business.
The tools on this list are sorted by the category of problem they address. The categories correspond closely to Local Marketing Strategies, so if you’re wondering how these tools could help in your business, head over there.
Managing Your Website
This set of local marketing tools will help you build, launch and grow a website that brings you work.
If you’re going to build your own website, WordPress is one of the most powerful and effective tools for the job. Both this website and my plumbing website are built in WordPress, and while they have vastly different goals and styles it works well for both. WordPress allows you to control your own website, which is crucial as a small business. Visit wordpress.org
Built by the world’s top SEO company. You tell Moz your business NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) and they’ll syndicate it to the top citation sites, proving to Google that you exist. Citations are one of the most time-consuming parts of SEO, and Moz Local will save yourself hours of work tracking down and manually requesting updates. Visit moz.com/products/local/smb
SEO rank tracking
I recently discovered this rank tracking tool, which I really like because 1) it’s simple and 2) it’s affordable. Oh, also 3) it tracks everything I need it to: organic ranking, Local Pack ranking, and my competitors’ rankings. I’ve spent thousands of dollars for SEO services from “experts” and never received reporting as robust as RankTrackr. Visit ranktrackr.com
Heatmaps, visitor recordings and more
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand what customers are doing on your site. Analytics can help with bigger picture stuff, but at the page level they don’t provide much information. Hotjar provides heatmaps, cursor tracking and visitor recording, so you can see exactly what is stopping people from clicking through and becoming a customer. My favorite part about Hotjar? They have a free plan that will cover the needs of most home service companies. Visit hotjar.com
Connecting With Your Customers
Every business is built on relationships. These tools will help you build and maintain those relationships as you grow.
An email marketing app that allows me to customize and personalize our marketing. With Drip I can automatically send a custom email to customers who replaced their water heater 6 months ago, wrote a review, but didn’t like our Facebook page. It’s difficult to explain how powerful this tool is. Visit drip.com
Social media scheduling
If you’re in charge of social media for your company (and you probably should be), you know it can be hard to post consistently, day after day. Buffer helps to solve that problem; you line up a queue (or buffer) of pre-written posts, and Buffer will post them for you at the appropriate times. Visit buffer.com
I installed Drift on our website to make it easier for customers to start a conversation. It was quick to install, and while it’s not revolutionizing our world, I do get a few chats a week. Visit drift.com
Organizing Your Business
Disorganization is the mortal enemy of the small business owner. Stay in command with these local marketing tools.
G Suite (formerly Google Apps)
Email management and online storage
We set up G Suite to have company email addresses, but it provides so much more than that. I do most of my heavier content writing in Google Docs, and Google Sheets works well for most spreadsheets. I even use Drive to give our membership customers access to coupons.
One of the most common and frustrating problems I’ve seen for small businesses is losing access to their online services – whether it be a website, email, domains, the list goes on. LastPass helps to prevent this problem by storing all of your passwords securely in one place. You can access it on your computer or your phone, and you won’t lose your credentials to hackers or a fried hard drive. Just make sure you don’t lose your master password. Tattoo that thing on your left buttock or something.
When you’re running with a small team, there’s not just one person sitting by a phone waiting for it to ring. We’ve found it’s most convenient to ring to multiple cell phones, so that there’s a backup plan if someone can’t get the call. Talkroute solved this problem perfectly. We’ve set up “business hours” to select when to ring and when to go straight to voicemail, and a custom ring order to send calls to multiple team members.
Scheduling and customer relationship management
We’re a service plumbing company, which means multiple service techs and dozens of calls daily. Housecall Pro keeps us all connected and on the same page. Along with scheduling, invoicing and estimating, Housecall Pro helps us with remarketing and customer service.
Designing Your Marketing
Keep your company looking good with these graphic design and marketing tools.
Agency marketers and professional graphic designers can use their Adobe products; I’ve found Canva to be more than adequate for most of my needs. This online graphic design app is easy to learn and provides a big library of free and low-priced templates.
I’m a snob when it comes to printed material – I want all of our business cards, flyers and folders to feel ritzy. While other online print shops left something to be desired, MOO exceeds my expectations.
Who doesn’t like inside information? The James Bonds and Jason Bournes of local marketing tools.
This is probably the flashiest tool I use. SpyFu is one of those online tools that you would see in a sci-fi movie; it lets you spy on your competitor’s web traffic, see how much they’re spending on Google AdWords, find out what keywords they’re ranking for… it’s super cool, and super useful.
Checks for backlinks
One of the important ranking factors for your website is the number of other websites that link to you. These are called backlinks, and the great thing about them is that they’re all fair game. Using this backlink checker, you can find out where your competitors got their backlinks and find places to get your own.
Built by Moz, the giant of the SEO world, the MozBar gives you quick access to website stats like Domain Authority, Page Authority, external links, and pageload time. Install it in your browser and you’ll have an instant look into the ranking factors for your competitor’s website.
Similar to the MozBar, but drawn from different data sources. In addition to a global rank, external links, and pageload speed, the Alexa Toolbar also points out similar websites for additional research.
Ever wondered what was used to build a website? BuiltWith will show you the frameworks, tracking and analytics, plugins, reputation software, hosting, and a whole lot more. This tool is fantastic if you’re building your own website and want to figure out what someone else is using.
Do you know of some local marketing tools that should make this list? Let me know!