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In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever for local businesses to have a strong online presence. With the majority of consumers turning to the internet to research products and services, a well-executed digital marketing strategy can be the key to driving growth for your business.

I’ve lived back in Rugby town for approximately 5 years now. To try to touch base with goings on and events in the community and local business environment; I recently decided to join a few local Facebook groups.

There’s been quite a lot of frustration aired from locals through Facebook about the number of coffee shops, ice cream parlours, restaurants, vape, tattoo shops and barber shops – showing a frustration that there’s a lack of diversity in what the high street offers nowadays. 

What’s been seen across Rugby over recent years (as well as many other towns up and down the UK) has been the big brands pulling out of the high street and onto the retail park. The latest firm to move from Rugby town centre, and its Rugby Central shopping centre location is Dunelm – moving to a larger premises (formerly occupied by Debenhams) on the Elliots Field retail park.

On a more positive note for the town centre, the high street may not necessarily be dead to boutique independants with a unique offering. Although the town may currently be overly-saturated by coffee shops, takeaways and barber shops; there are some fantastic boutique, independent retailers in Rugby, on Regent Street and Albert Street in particular.

One local business driving initiatives to drive footfall back into Rugby town centre is ‘Gallacher’s Wine Merchants’, who don’t just sell wine, but offer an experiential and immersive experience. They offer wine and cheese tasting events – a perfect way to incentivise people to visit the town centre. They are a prime example of a Rugby business doing a fantastic job to encourage the local community to ‘shop local’ and they even arrange meetups with local businesses to drive ideas around how to further develop ideas for Rugby. A great initiative! Here’s one of Gallachers recent posts.


Of course, to see this post on Facebook, you need to be either following Gallacher’s Wine Merchants or to have seen one of your friends share this content from their FB page.

What more can local businesses and councils be doing to drive awareness of initiatives, events and footfall?

Rugby is the second largest town in Warwickshire with approx 77k people residing, with its population growing at a rapid rate vs other towns in the West Midlands. This growth has been especially noticeable over the past few years with new housing developments and even new areas being developed in Houlton.




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Some key events have happened during Rugby town’s recent history, with the Queen’s baton coming through the town (with various events in town to support this) in the buildup to the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. When we look at some of the key Facebook pages however from the main authorities for the town, there’s a combined total of 16 likes and 9 shares of their Facebook post about this, which is disappointing to see.




Facebook Advertising is a key channel here

Facebook Ads is a great platform to market through, not just for local businesses, but bodies such as Business Improvement District (BID) – Rugby First and also Rugby Borough Council. 

Being a resident of Rugby town, I’ve decided to take the initiative to follow a number of Facebook pages such as these to keep track of developments in the town, and also to support local businesses. That said, this type of messaging ‘which is important for the local community to see’ can often get diluted and lost within a Facebook feed amongst updates from friends or other businesses – and subsequently, easily missed. If you don’t happen to see the Facebook post on the day it was posted, it’s unlikely you’ll be scrolling endlessly through your Facebook feed to spot it.

With Facebook advertising, the organisations mentioned above, as well as local businesses across Rugby can target local audiences through radius targeting and by specific demographics. They can even apply a Facebook pixel and retarget to audiences who have previously visited their respective websites. Moreover, they won’t just be targeting those already likely to be following their respective Facebook page, but also attracting new or existing residents to like their page and engage with their content, when this audience may not have otherwise had been aware of the page or content presented.


If businesses and local organisations take some steps towards more effectively advertising their businesses directly through digital advertising to their key target audiences, this may result in greater awareness, engagement, contact, in-store or online purchases. Facebook Ads is a good, affordable medium to make strides in this respect.

What is the case for independent businesses to follow this approach?

One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is the ability to reach a large audience at a relatively low cost. Traditional forms of advertising, such as TV or print ads, can be expensive and may not reach your target market. With digital marketing, you can easily target specific demographics and geographic areas, ensuring that your message reaches the right people.

Another benefit of digital marketing is the ability to track and measure the success of your campaigns. With tools like Google Analytics, you can see how many people are visiting your website, where they’re coming from, and what actions they’re taking. This allows you to adjust your strategy in real-time to optimise for better results.

In addition, digital marketing can help build trust and credibility for your business. A strong online presence and positive reviews from customers can go a long way in establishing your business as a reputable and trustworthy option for potential customers.

There are many different digital marketing channels available to local businesses, including social media (as cited above), email marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Each of these channels has its own unique advantages and can be used to achieve different business objectives. Ultimately, all can play a part to supporting business transactions and revenue when people aren’t physically in your store, or on days when your shop is closed for business.  In effect, digital can ensure you are trading on Sunday without being present in person, or having to pay overheads to open your physical shop! During a moment in time when commercial energy bills are at an all time high, there’s never been a better time to focus on your online proposition.

Support a lack of footfall in town with a standout website, supported by the power of social media

What strikes me in towns up and down the country is that retail stores still depend almost entirely upon footfall in their store to generate sales. The online marketplace can often still be neglected, even in the digital age we live. Whether that be the organisation not offering a transactional experience with a website with ecommerce functionality built-in, or the website being of a poor standard; making conversion unlikely. Why not double up on efforts and strive to generate footfall in your store from local audiences by using your website as a storefront to the local community ‘online’, generating ideas , initiatives or events? Otherwise, work to strive for online transactions from the rest of the UK, making sales from further afield than you typically would from someone who has no intention of visiting Rugby town.

Retailers can ill-afford to think along the lines of, “let’s use our website to support sales“. It should be more along the lines of “let the website power sales both online and in-store“. One of the key ways in which to reduce the volume of frustration from the local community is by generating awareness of what’s happening in town. Are there any offers, events, initiatives or experiences your business can provide to incentivise footfall that can be promoted online? Are you clubbing together with other organisations in town? Ultimately, if your audience key demographic are aware of your organisation, supported by the efforts being made – the local community will be far less likely to grumble about a lack of an offering in their local town.

Overall, digital marketing is a powerful tool that can help local businesses grow and reach new customers. By investing in a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, local businesses can establish a strong online presence, increase brand awareness, and drive more sales. If you require support with your website, or social advertising, please contact our team.

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