You’re probably wondering “what does email have to do with local SEO?” To wit you would reply “Ok, what do email blasts have to do with Local SEO?” Well, little as far as ranking, but a lot as far as branding and branding has a lot to do with Local SEO. As I mentioned before, Local SEO should not and cannot rely on regular on-page and off-page optimization techniques like SEO. Local SEO builds off of several community factors and email blasts are another segment of that.
Before I continue I should clarify that I am not talking about your own email blasts to your own database. That’s silly. Last week, I mentioned that to succeed in Local SEO, you need to be able to know your community. You need to know where they hang out online, what they read, where they go to read it and where they don’t go. Usually, the default places of importance are the local TV stations, the main newspaper, the most popular radio morning shows. Traditionally, these mediums rely on selling advertising for commercials and ad spaces and, if they’re creative, online web-space. But that’s not what we’re after. Due to banner ad blindness and just general ad avoidance, these methods don’t seem to generate the response justified by the expense. However, there is one avenue that seems to generate enough buzz with branding and that is email blasting from the mediums database.
I’m not a fan of email blasts, but I actually am rare and according to my own result data, I am very rare.
What did I do?
The top TV station in our area is well respected and is the go-to source for breaking news and weather alerts. They had just decided to use an email blasting program to their double opt-in database for news stories that they also decided to let sponsors send out a special offer every once in awhile. Keeping in line with best practices, I was apple to send out a special offer brought to them by their trusted station.
Did it work?
Holy gosh yes! Shortly after the blast went out, the landing page conversions were flying in all evening, trickling in the next day and even a few popping in a week later. Why did it work? Co-branding. Just as you want a link from a TV station to your site, the TV station’s clout mentioning your business is huge.
A Word of Caution
Email marketing is finicky. You can really make your subscriber list dwindle if you keep blasting to them. Just because the Radio station is the Radio station, if they are blasting to their database everyday, chances are they are upsetting their database and you don’t want to be associated that way with them. So here are some guidelines to ask before you get to send your message to another’s database
1. What email system do they use? They need to use some sort of email system like Exact Target or Constant Contact. If they just BCC everyone, stay away.
2. What is the size of your list? From this you can measure a response rate as well as figure how much they are charging per email address.
3. Where does most of your database reside? For Local SEO, if you have addresses that are out of your “service area,” it doesn’t make much sense to send them an offer.
4. What is your average open rate? This will give you a good indication if people actually like getting emails from them.
5. What is your average subscribe/unsubscribe rate? People will unsubscribe, that’s normal. People will subscribe, that’s just as normal, but the rates at which they are doing both will tell you the potential of the co-branding.
6. When do we get a list of results and what will be on there?This is a biggie. You want to know how your money was spent. Since email isn’t tangible, if an email goes out and is blocked or deleted and no one responded AND there isn’t a report to go along with it – did it really go out?
If they can’t answer these questions, steer clear. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Sparing you the gory details unless asked, let me say that if the salesperson can’t answer these questions, ask to speak to the actual person pushing the button to blast.
As you brand, link, market, pr, and barter your way to be known in your local community, every little bit helps being sought out in the local scene. Remember to keep track of your online reviews (and ask for them too).