We're going through a kinda strange time in the marketing industry now.
Platforms like AdWords, Facebook and Twitter let you advertise your product or service to the global market with ease, and at a remarkably low cost to boot.
Marketers are taking advantage of these new(ish) distribution channels and pushing out content to an ever increasing audience. They're writing content that'll be read by keen readers from around the globe.
There's a problem, though.
Have you ever read an article, gotten halfway through, and realized you're totally not the target audience?
That's exactly how your audience feels when you're not focusing on them.
It's Not All About Content
Imagine two marketers: Bob and Fred.
Bob is a master Snapchatter from Downtown Atlanta. He just finished writing an awesome guide called How and When To Use Snapchat (Even if You Just Don't Get It) to promote his fledgeling Snapchat discovery startup. Bob's proud of the guide, and he should be. I mean, who past 25 does get Snapchat?! 😱
Bob decides to spend $1,000 promoting his Snapchat guide on Twitter—after all, people didn't get Twitter to start with, right?
He sets up his campaign to target 25-40 year olds that're interested in tech. He doesn't bother targeting specific countries since Snapchat's pretty hot everywhere right now.
Bob starts off his campaign and sits back to watch the results roll in.
He starts seeing traffic pouring in from all over the world. It's amazing! Except... he finds that the average reader's only sticking around for 12.5 seconds. That's barely enough time to read the title, let alone his 6,000 word behemoth.
We'll get to why in a second, but first, let's look at another example.
Fred's a content marketer from Toronto, with a passion for data and analytics. His startup makes awesome error analytics software for developers. Fred's written a guide too—Node.js Error Handling: A Dev Odyssey—that he just knows his target audience are gonna love 😍
Since Fred also has $1,000 to spend (lucky coincidence, huh?) he decides to use that money on Facebook ads, targeting 20-35 year old developers. He's very familiar with the tech scene in Toronto, and he knows the devs in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are really going to enjoy the content.
He even puts in a couple Torontonian references. The ugly yet strangely welcoming tower that you secretly love, and would really miss if it was gone. The Blue Jays beating the Rangers last night. The coldest February in recorded Toronto history.
Fred presses play on his campaign, and starts to see a ton of traffic pouring in from all across the GTA. The servers are barely keeping up with the new trial signups, and Fred's dealing with a ton more inbound leads from people who wanted a PDF version of the guide.
The Case for Hyperlocal Marketing
Both Bob and Fred made awesome guides, and they know their target market inside out. So why, then, did Bob's campaign fall flat and Fred's skyrocket?
Here's the thing. It's not always a problem with the content.
Bob wasn't wrong, his market really is global, but his content wasn't. For instance, he wrote everything in American English and that didn't go down so well with the non-English audiences he was reaching. Or the Brits.
As a Brit, I totally get that "not all English is created equal". (Besides your disorganised spelling) the marketing and messaging that will resonate with an American audience often really doesn't 'translate' well here in the UK.
Ed Fry, inbound.org
His readers often didn't know why they should keep reading. He didn't capture their attention, so they left.
They could just tell the guide wasn't for them.
Fred's guide, on the other hand, spoke to his readers. He knew them. They were his people. 👊 He made in-jokes and referenced current events. He made Node.js error handling fun and relatable, and that's no easy feat.
Fred's content was just more appealing to his target audience. Because it was written just for them. This hyperlocal marketing effort paid off, and his guide converted like gangbusters.
Localizing Your Content
OK, so that's great and all, but how does this work out in practice?
I won't lie, localizing content is hard, and you'll have to make compromises along the way.
For instance, most of the Contentacle team is based in the UK, but we've embraced Americanization. Our keyboards make us use zs with reckless abandon. We're sacrificing our own spelling because a ton of our users are based in the US.
We promote our content to our audience in tech hubs in the US, and try (often poorly) to include references they'll understand. Is that hyperlocal targeting? Maybe not yet. But certainly local marketing, and certainly something we can work on.
Takeaway: Write for your readers in a style (and language) they'll wanna read. Include local insights and be relatable. Your conversion rate will thank you.
Using Technology to Scale Your Local Marketing
Scaling local content's a unique challenge. And one that nobody seems to have gotten right yet.
Sure, you can write content for a single audience, but what about when you wanna scale? You could always include local references for a ton of places, but there's a limit before your audience notices your local-knowledge-spamming.
There's no off the shelf software I've found to help with this yet. But it's something that should definitely be made.
There should be a way to write a string of local text (some kinda context) that gets dynamically swapped into your article depending on where a reader's reading from. Preferably a string of text more interesting than the weather, but that could be a good start.
Then it's just a matter of writing up all the text strings (or creating a library of them to use in future articles) and letting the browser do the rest.
It's something I'm certain will exist in the future. And if you're the one that builds it, please do me a favor and let me know! If not, maybe it'll be a side project for our devs here.