Connecticut's Business Ecosystem(s) are Diverse and Unique: The tools to market a business do not align with this reality.
Recently, while performing Keyword research for another small business blog based in Connecticut, We went about the usual activities of identifying terms and searches currently being asked by the audience we are speaking to.
Those results opened our eyes to systemic pitfalls within our digital advertising platforms unique to Connecticut Businesses.
- "Connecticut Small Business" has almost Zero search volume
- Small Business OR Connecticut Independently has interest but has other search intentions
- Many Online services will "bundle" CT or Parts of CT into neighboring regions
- Setting Service areas or targeting ad campaigns by radius could reach undesirable areas if not careful.
A General Lack of Interest
No one cares about "Connecticut Small Business."
Small Business" and nothing, total flat line. So I look back a little further, as far as the google trends tool can, back to 2004. Again, the results are a total flatline. The initial conclusion: "Any website that depended on traffic with this specific search term would be doomed to fail" This, however, does not mean there is Zero interest in Small businesses or Connecticut Independently.
Keep in mind this article is merely an observation of very, VERY early research and general insights. We intend to challenge your commitment to supporting local and regional businesses by no means. Maybe we will change the title of this article to: "We the only people who care about Connecticut Small Business," But for the moment, no one cares.
We would move on without much thought in many circumstances, but something about these dismal search results was personal. We constantly hear about the importance of supporting small businesses. Last year the calls for support had grown more desperate, and business owners have been living on or over the edge. Our Government has passed generous legislation to support the economic recovery. These "efforts" are only the most recent in well-intentioned virtue-signaling supporting small businesses.
Google trends for search terms
"Connecticut Small Business"
Shape Shaming CT
We're Small, not non-existent.
Ok, maybe no one is trying to "shame" Connecticut; But in many ways, Business Owners in Connecticut are the victims of being surrounded by 2 of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. New York City on one side, Boston on the other. ( An area of study that deserves its own college curriculum. )
Some essential tools to promote a business online systemically sell Connecticut Short. There are many instances, but we will only talk about some of the few extreme examples of how our tech overlords have overlooked CT's unique business climate.
Ever try to post to craigslist? Posting can be challenging when your business is in Fairfield County. Craigslist combines Fairfield county with another New York region. Fairfield County isn't even listed under Connecticut. This is a market share of approximately a million people and a region with a considerable concentration of the world's wealth.
Linkedin is guilty of oversight in a different way. Although a profile is configured with the city/ town a member works in; They are still segmented into larger "pools" of members. This can be observed when viewing a member's profile or sorting your contacts. Connecticut Business Professionals are batched into the "New York City Metropolitan Area."
That might be just fine for some, but in many cases could be confusing and misrepresentative to a professional audience. Leveraging your business network is a primary activity to be successful; otherwise, Linkedin wouldn't exist. i.e., If you are looking for a Real Estate Attorney in Southbury, CT, it could be unclear when sorting by region and they get grouped into the "NYC Metropolitan Area" The Greater NYC area (obviously) is massive, and you may not realize that your best connection could be closer than you realize.
Connecticut business is also a victim of "Radial Overreach." Connecticut is fortunate to have the beauty and bounty's of long island sound; however, this presents an obstacle unique to Service-based businesses in most of Connecticut.
CT is one of a few states with an entire seaside border, but the only state with a qualifying service area on the other side of the water, Long Island Sound. So, for instance, a 40 service mile radius for a business in Naugatuck, CT, could extend to Port Jefferson in Long Island. Which foe some service business would take too long and cost-prohibitive to get to. While another city like Stamford, CT, would be within the service radius.
A "sound gap" of Ad Spend Waste.
The "Radial Overreach" problem extends into targeting areas for digital ads; approximately 20%* of the target area is water. For Businesses along Connecticut's Shoreline, any radius will have roughly half the service area in the sound.
An even worse scenario is unintentionally paying for ad impressions or ad clicks on Long Island. Imagine having to turn down a job that responded to an ad because it is too far to service.
Another significant issue with radial overreach is businesses with strict licensing requirements, such as an insurance company or general contractor. Advertising in areas without proper disclaimers could lead to undesirable consequences; if not simply wasting ad spend in areas you are not permitted to do business in.
There are, of course, easy fixes to prevent a worst-case scenario. Towns or entire states can be excluded from targeting. See figures B & C. Specific States can be targeted or excluded getting a better focus on a campaign.
40 Mile Radius Target Area from Naugatuck CT
The bottom part of the radius encompasses the northern part of Long Island.
40 Mile Radius Excludes City's Within the Target Area to prevent ads from serving.
Targeting Connecticut Only
Connecticut Businesses need to be aware of the limitations of their digital tools. When building an audience, take the extra time to confirm the appropriate demographics are targeted.
It would be best to dig a little deeper than your assumptions when doing keyword research. Again everyone says they support small businesses, and we know our communities in CT do. However, according to Google, no one cares about "Small Business Connecticut."