Local Marketing for Small Businesses: How to Use Precision Targeting in Social Media

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The jury is out: Shopping and buying local is in.

Hubspot’s 2018 State of Inbound Study found that “72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.”

The study also found that “30% of mobile searches are related to a location,” and “28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase.”

Those statistics point to a wealth of opportunities for businesses to market to buyers looking to shop local.

dominate local marketing for small businesses with precision targeting

Small and midsize businesses are missing out on this amazing opportunity if they aren’t applying precision targeting to reach out to customers performing local searches.

What is precision targeting?


Precision targeting is the application of customer insights and data to the process of building custom customer segments. The more you understand your customers, the more effectively you can address their needs.

We’ll walk through the sales funnel and look at how to leverage precision targeting on social media at three pivotal moments in the buyer journey:

Choosing the right channel for your local marketing

We previously discussed how to define the target market(s) for your small business, laying out the process for centering your marketing strategies around well-built, data-backed customer personas and the importance of continual auditing and editing of those personas as the needs of your customer change.

Once you’ve done the work to build out your customer segments and personas, you are ready to start actually marketing to potential and returning customers with a strategically localized campaign.

So where do you start? Social media is one of the most effective and widely available platforms for this kind of marketing. Facebook, in particular, is well-suited to small businesses that want to locally target customers through every stage of the sales funnel.

In Gartner’s 2017 Multichannel Marketing Survey, marketing leaders were asked to rank the most effective digital marketing channels across the buying journey. (Full research available to Gartner clients.)

Across the buyer journey, social marketing ranks as the top most-effective channel.

graph showing the most effective marketing channels across different stages of the sales funnel

Local marketing at the top of the funnel: Get on the radar

As a small business, sometimes the biggest challenge is the first one: Making your community aware of the goods and services you offer.

Why market to this stage of the funnel?

At the top of the sales funnel, your business has a nearly limitless supply of potential customers. Marketing to drive awareness requires you to decide which of those potential customers are likely to benefit from the product or service you provide and then target your marketing efforts towards those potential buyers.

In a 2017 Manta poll, small businesses listed raising awareness as their most common goal for Facebook ads. This means your small business is looking at a crowded field and will need to distinguish itself through effective targeting.

graph presenting the goals of small-business owners on Facebook

Manta poll of small-business owners (Source)

What are my marketing options?

Small-business owners can build awareness campaigns on Facebook or Instagram using local awareness ads.

This allows your business to spend its limited social media advertising budget on targeting users who are geographically near your business location. These localized ads are specifically designed to be more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels, while offering more precise targeting and greater reach.

You can also advertise to a specific demographic such as age, gender, or interests. If you own a small chain, you can create a unique campaign for each of the locations.

At the awareness stage of the funnel, your marketing success should be measured by impressions. If your social media post receives a lot of “likes” or other positive feedback, you’ve successfully broken through the noise floor and connected with your potential customers.

How do I localize it?


As you’re already focusing your awareness campaign on a localized, precise target of buyers, the content of your social post should reflect that local spirit. Leverage your connection with your community and strive to make your new customers feel good about that community connection too.

Local marketing down the funnel: Pique their interest

With a successful awareness campaign, your marketing team should have generated a list of leads who interacted positively with your social media post. The next step is to move these leads down the sales funnel with engaging and trust-building content.

Why market to this stage of the funnel?

Engagement is the hook that leads your potential buyers into becoming happy customers.

An awareness campaign can’t move customers all the way though the sales funnel by itself. So, design a follow-up campaign that builds on the impressions formed in your awareness campaign.

A successful engagement campaign should build trust in and excitement about the product or service your business offers and should always include an action for the audience to take.

What are my marketing options?

When Facebook surveyed local businesses (defined as a business that isn’t part of a chain, franchise, or nonprofit and isn’t purely online but has fewer than five store locations in a single market), 46% said they maintain a close connection to the local community.

Reciprocally, Facebook found that 48% of people they surveyed say they shop locally to support local businesses.

Is your small business catering to those 48% of shoppers? An engagement campaign can be an effective way to motivate locally minded shoppers.

Own a small chain of grocery stores? Consider running separate, localized versions of your Facebook ads for users in close, geographic proximity to each unique store location.

The most effective way to manage many different social media interactions scripted to target different kinds of potential customers is through social media marketing software.

With social media marketing software, your marketing team can take the leads generated from your awareness campaign and empower you to follow up with an engagement campaign that uniquely suits the customer.

The kind of engagement you can strive for varies depending on what you want to ask your social contact to do. But whether you’re trying to drive traffic to a sales page or encourage downloads of a whitepaper, be sure to include a clear and actionable “next step” so your audience knows how to get more information.

How do I localize it?


The direct message feature of your social media channel offers you the opportunity to communicate with your customers on a personal and local level. Messaging can draw people and businesses together into an ongoing conversation, ultimately enabling more meaningful connections. Check out Facebook’s article on direct response campaigns for more information.

Give your social marketing strategy a localized lift

With 1.47 billion active daily users on Facebook, part of your social media marketing strategy must be breaking through the noise. A smart, locally targeted campaign can be very effective in reaching your most likely potential customers.

Whether reaching out to first-time buyers or building a relationship with your local, loyal customers, leverage the ways in which you share a common connection to the community.

Use social media software to manage your communication with potential and current customers, continuing to offer local, precise content and opportunities to be a brand advocate.

If you’re interested in investing in software for your small business, check out our social media marketing software directory for professional insights and thousands of user reviews.

Looking for Social Media Monitoring software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Social Media Monitoring software solutions.

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About the Author

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Samantha Bonanno

Sam covers Buyer Marketing at Capterra, offering insights and thought leadership on marketing trends and best practices for small and midsize businesses. An Upstate New York native, Sam spends her free time backpacking with her dogs and holding snobby opinions on craft beer and single origin coffee.

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