9 Essential Steps for Effective Local Council Advertising Online

richmond upon thames local council advertising online using meta

Harness the Power of Local Council Advertising Online: 9 Essential Steps

Picture yourself as the captain of a ship, setting sail across the vast ocean of the internet. The waters of local council advertising online might seem vast and intimidating. They’re filled with the swirling currents of digital marketing and the gusty winds of technological change.

But fear not!

With the right compass and map—a.k.a. a solid advertising strategy—you can navigate these waters skilfully. You’ll make these crashing waves your most potent ally in connecting with your local community.

So, why is there an increasing number of local councils hoisting the sails and venturing into these digital waters? The answer is as straightforward as spotting a lighthouse on a clear night.

Why Online Advertising for Local Government ?

Online advertising is crucial for local councils for several reasons. In a nutshell, it offers a direct, efficient, and versatile medium for communication and engagement with the community. Before we talk about strategy, it’s vital to look at the community-strengthening benefits of local online advertising. They showcase the power you’ll harness when you start digital advertising and guide your strategic decisions.

Online advertising enables local councils to reach large segments of the community instantly. This immediacy is vital for disseminating information quickly, especially in times of emergency or when promoting council events and initiatives.

When we’re speaking of online advertising, social media and search advertising are the most popular. Their effectiveness can be summed up with a few thought-provoking statistics:

  • 56 million people in the UK regularly use social media, and the top reason people use it is to “stay connected with family and friends.”
  • Across age groups, the 1 reason people use search engines is to “find information”, with the “following news and events” falling into position 3 or 4 for most adults.

Reaching and engaging people in your community starts with understanding where they are and why they’re here. People are on these platforms —all day long.

Imagine you’re a chef in a bustling kitchen, but instead of a kitchen, you’re cooking up great experiences online for a community dining room filled with hungry customers. Your diners are diverse, and some of them are picky eaters.

Just as you wouldn’t serve a spicy curry to someone who prefers mild food, online advertising allows you to tailor your dishes—oops, messages—to the specific tastes of your audience.

By using the sophisticated tools of online platforms, councils can pinpoint their communications as precisely as a chef selects ingredients.

Whether it’s seasoning your message with local cultural references for longtime residents or adding a dash of trendy lingo for the younger crowd, this tailored approach ensures your message is as appetising to your audience as possible, increasing the chances they’ll come back and bring their friends.

Online marketing tools allow you to target based on important factors like:

  • Geographic locations
  • Age range
  • Interests
  • Other demographics
  • Recent online behaviours (within privacy laws)
  • Whether or not they’ve engaged with your website or social media profiles before
  • Whether or not their friends or family have engaged with you

Using targeting features like these is like learning a super-secret handshake that confirms with strangers that your local council is trusted by your community.

Compared to traditional forms of advertising, such as TV, radio, or print media, online advertising often offers a more budget-friendly option. With a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising strategy you can:

  • Control spending
  • Track performance
  • Optimise performance
  • Reduce wasted ad spend on things that aren’t working

Read more about my PPC Consultant services to find out how we can reduce your Ad spend.

Online advertising provides measurable results. Councils can track the effectiveness of their campaigns in real time with metrics such as views, clicks, and engagement rates. This transparency helps refine strategies.

What’s more, it demonstrates accountability in the use of public funds.

You can think of online advertising as the town square of the digital age. It’s where everyone gathers—not with pitchforks and torches, but with likes, shares, and comments.

By launching interactive ads, social media campaigns, and digital forums, local councils can turn the monologue of government announcements into a vibrant dialogue.

This modern town square doesn’t just broadcast messages from the council’s megaphone; it invites the community to grab the microphone and voice their own thoughts. It’s a place where every click, comment, and share is like a resident raising their hand in a town hall meeting, making their voice heard.

This active participation not only energises community engagement but also strengthens the bonds between the council and its constituents, ensuring that everyone has a stake in their digital neighbourhood—and in real life.

Regular and strategic online advertising helps build and maintain relationships with community members. Over time, this builds trust and informs the public about the council’s ongoing commitments and achievements, reinforcing your role as a cornerstone of the community.

In essence, online advertising is not just about promoting services or events—it’s a strategic tool for enhancing the overall relationship between your local council and the communities you serve.

However, it’s not as simple as opening a Google Ads account or boosting some posts on Facebook. To meet your goals cost-efficiently, you need to have the right strategy in place, so let’s explore what that looks like.

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How to Build a Local Council Online Advertising Strategy

Step 1: Define Your Objectives Clearly

Think of diving into the world of local council advertising online, like setting off on a treasure hunt. Before you start, you need a map, and in advertising, your map is your set of clear objectives.

What treasure are you after?

Is it a horde of attendees at your next council event, a vibrant forum of engaged residents, or perhaps the golden glow of awareness around new local services?

Setting these goals is like marking X on your map. It helps you avoid wandering into the murky waters of aimless (and wasteful) advertising, ensuring every penny spent is a step towards real treasure—not just fool’s gold.

This focus will shape your entire advertising approach, steering your campaign smoothly towards its target and hopefully away from the dreaded budget-eating Kraken!

Step 2: Research Your Audience

Who are you talking to? Tailoring your message to the specific needs and interests of your local community can make or break your campaign. Understanding the demographic nuances of your audience will guide your tone, messaging, and medium choices.

Some great ways to get to know your audience include:

  • Surveys
  • Polls
  • Audience research
  • Speaking with local non-government leaders
  • Speaking with those who handle community queries
  • Social listening

Step 3: Evaluate Your Website

Your best online advertising strategies will quickly be defeated if the website you plan to send people to is slow, unresponsive, and not mobile-friendly. Never underestimate the importance of web design and website development to make the best first impression and guide visitors effortlessly toward taking desired actions.

Your council’s website is often the first port of call for information-seeking residents. A user-friendly, visually appealing optimised website that’s easy to navigate can significantly enhance public perception and trust.

Bottom line: Websites make or break your ad performance.

Consider which landing pages your online adverts will point toward and ensure these pages are exceptional. A landing page should always:

  • Be clear and to the point
  • Be visually compelling
  • Have a single purpose
  • Include a direct call to action (CTA) telling a visitor precisely what to do next.

This single purpose will change depending on the goal of an ad campaign, so know that you’ll probably have many landing pages.

Step 4: Get Your Socials and Review Sites in Order

Think of your social profiles and review sites as an extension of your website. Together, they build a brand reputation. When people click on advertisements, they often navigate to social media and review sites to learn more.

These can shape their perceptions and directly influence participation rates, so make sure they’re filled out completely and that you’ve begun posting to them regularly.

A Digital PR Consultant can help you with this.

Step 5. Start with Social Media Advertising

For those new to online advertising, social media is a great place to start. It’s relatively easy to choose your campaign goals, target audience, and campaign budget. Plus, you can reach people with a relatively low budget.

Social Media advertising allows for dynamic and direct interaction with the community. From announcing a local festival to emergency updates, social media platforms offer an immediate link to your audience.

Step 6: Add Strategic Search Advertising

Search advertising is like fishing where the fish are—when they’re at their hungriest.

When locals search for council-related services or information, your ad appearing on top ensures visibility and relevance. It prevents them from disappearing down a rabbit hole of misinformation.

This targeted approach means your ads are seen by those who need them the most at the perfect time.

To win at search advertising, you need to do keyword research to learn what questions your community has related to your services. This can guide both the searches you target and the words you use in your advert to earn a click.

Avoid advertising too broadly and appearing in irrelevant searches. To generate the greatest Google and Bing advertising ROI, focus on generating high click-through rates and improving search ad performance over time.

Step 7: Choose Ad Formats

As you delve deeper into the art of local council advertising online, it’s crucial to understand that not all ad formats are the same.

Each format has its unique strengths and can be leveraged to achieve specific community engagement and informational goals of local councils.

Social Media Ad Formats

  • Carousel Ads: Perfect for storytelling or showcasing multiple services or events, carousel ads allow users to swipe through several images or videos. Imagine taking residents on a visual tour of upcoming community projects or historical landmarks.
  • Video Ads: With the power to capture attention quickly, video ads are great for conveying complex community messages in a digestible format. Use these for important public announcements or behind-the-scenes looks at council operations.
  • Poll Ads: Interactive and fun, poll ads engage the community by soliciting their opinions. They can be a fantastic tool for gauging public interest on various issues, from planning new parks to community safety measures.

Search Ad Formats

  • Text Ads: These are the bread and butter of search advertising. Simple yet powerful text ads appear at the top of search results when residents look up relevant local council information, such as rubbish collection schedules or council tax queries.
  • Responsive Ads: AI-powered ads adjust your message and format to match what potential viewers are searching for. Responsive ads provide a flexible approach to reaching your audience with the right message at the right time.
  • Local Search Ads: These ads are critical for councils aiming to promote local services or events. They appear based on the user’s location, making them highly relevant for residents searching for immediate solutions or opportunities in their area.
  • Display ads: These are a type of online advertisement that appears on websites, apps, and social media platforms through banners or other ad formats made of text, images, flash, video, and audio. For local councils, display ads can be used to raise awareness about local issues, promote council services, or inform residents about upcoming events.

Step 8: Craft a Comprehensive Communications Strategy for a Local Council

Your strategy should not be a one-trick pony but a comprehensive plan that integrates various forms of media. A robust communications strategy for a local council ensures that all your advertising efforts are cohesive and consistent, enhancing your council’s presence both online and offline.

Doing this allows your various assets to complement each other, amplifying your reach and performance.

People rarely engage with a brand—including local government brands like yours—through one medium. They’re more likely to interact with you on social media, in search, on your website, through email, and on direct messaging platforms.

It’s important to unify, integrate, and maximise impact through strategic alignment.

Step 9: Track, Measure, and Optimise

Setting up Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager tools to track your performance will help you understand what is working for you and what you can cut from the sports roster.

You’ll notice patterns in which adverts people click on and can use that information to hone your local government’s online advertising strategy.

It’s critical not to lose sight of why you’re advertising. Keep your advertising aligned with your goals and audience to watch response rates and engagement grow.

Wrapping It Up: Your Blueprint for Success in Local Council Advertising Online Strategy

By mastering these eight strategic steps, you’re not just broadcasting messages. You’re engaging in meaningful conversations and fostering a vibrant digital community.

Forget the megaphones and billboards of yesterday—your council’s voice can now resonate in every corner of the digital landscape, from the bustling feeds of social media to the interactive pages of your cutting-edge website. A click can be just as powerful as a handshake.

At JReece Digital we’re unlocking digital success one click at a time by helping you plan, execute, and optimise effective marketing strategies. Whether you’d only prefer a little help with paid advertising or want to completely re-envision your digital community engagement strategy, we bring 10 years of experience helping local government organisations unlock digital success.

Let’s Begin Your Journey

To get started, schedule a free 30-minute chat.

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