Challenges of Marketing an Online Only Business

by Jason Boom on May 4, 2013

166370070I’ve been working as a digital marketing consultant for a newspaper for over a year now. The work has presented many different small business scenarios as they relate to social media engagement, web design projects, and local SEO. One challenge is the regional store that’s only online. How do you market a regional ecommerce store, one without a physical address, to a population in a community?

The business in question approached us last November. They run a mom-and-pop kid’s clothing store online. While they won’t turn away business from outside areas, they wanted to focus on people in this community. The approach, they hoped, would lower their entry costs and keep them competing too heavily with the Macy’s and JcPenney’s of the online world.

We have a local SEO package that helps businesses take over their online presence, monitor what people say about them, and provides them with search engine placement reports. We do link building from a few web properties we own, but those are ancillary to the core product, and only serve to promote the businesses that are members of our digital subscription service.

This client was adamant about not having their physical address online. They have no storefront. They operate out of their home. And their home location is several miles outside of the close, major city. They wanted web traffic from that city, and from individuals searching for “kids clothing” in that location. A good Google Plus listing, with a physical address, should suffice to get traffic, but as you all know, without an address in the city you’re gunning for, it becomes harder to show for that city’s geo traffic.

We initially pushed with a PO Box being used in their home city, which had little effect after getting it authorized. Yelp allowed the listing to go live without a physical address, but it doesn’t show anywhere in search. The other listings around the web, secondary directories mainly, show the business profile, and link to the site, but do not have an address line. For those, it worked well.

Finally, a month ago, the client relented and allowed me to use their home address for things like the Yelp listing. The problem is, a CSR reviewed the address change, and didn’t publish it. I’m assuming that avenue is shot for them, unless I create a new account and re-list, hoping it goes live without matching incident.

The problem is not unique to this client. It seems every business has some sort of unique request that we need to address, like wanting their Plus listing to show in multiple nearby cities, prominent display on Yelp, further growth in search traffic for a keyword they no longer rank for, among a myriad of other cases. This one sticks out though, as the solution has eluded me so far. I’ll check back in with more once I have more data to share, and hopefully a resolved problem.


About the author

Jason Boom Jason writes not only about himself in the third person, but also about marketing, site building, SEO, and other topics related to marketing online. He's been an avid fan of blogging since the early days of Blogger. You can connect with Jason (me) on Twitter and Google Plus.

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