Monthly Archives: May 2016

6 Ways to Get Your Local Business Found Online

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come in we are open sign hanging on a window door outside a local business trying to drive online customers inDriving traffic to your local business is a marketing animal all its own.  It’s true: If you’re a brick-and-mortar business that needs customers to walk in the door, or contact you for a quote, the nuts and bolts of your online marketing plan should be geared differently than an e-commerce website; after all, you are trying to drive people to your door—literally.

Website Optimization

If you look in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of optimization is “an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.”  When applying this to getting your business found online, optimization is the process of making your website as friendly for search engines as possible so you get to the top of search engine results.

An optimized website starts with a well-built website, structured for search engines.  Ensure that your website has an easy-to-navigate menu system and adequate loading speed, both for optimal user experience and search engine credit.  The next step is adding optimized content, written for search engines and customers.  Make sure your contact information is clearly included on your website for customers and search engines to use.  Use compelling images on your website optimized for search engines and to get customers’ attention.  If this all sounds good, but you have no idea where to start, entrust your website creation to a good web design business.

SEO Technology

Search engine optimization (SEO) technology, provided by a reputable SEO firm, is one of the most effective online marketing tools for businesses looking to attract local customers. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location, including a major metropolitan area. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, and stronger opportunity for online conversions.

Mobile Marketing

The amount of mobile devices is steadily increasing (and isn’t going to slow down any time soon), and it’s time for every business to take notice (search engines do).  No matter what the demographic of your targeted audience, build a website that is mobile-friendly with an easy-to-read format and navigation system.  Since your aim is to drive customers to your store, make it easy for customers to call, email, or find your address on your mobile site.

Social Media

Social media has four key advantages for any business trying to get customers to the door:

  • A business’ social media page is often listed in search engine results;
  • A solid social media page gets your audience’s attention and gets them in the door with specials, examples of your work, reviews, and information (without overselling);
  • A social media page full of positive reviews can reinforce your potential customers’ review of you.
  • Social media gives your customers an easy and convenient way to start a conversation with you or contact you.

To ensure that your social media site is geared toward driving customers to you or your website, create a complete social media profile with your website address and contact information.  Respond to their messages and inquiries promptly.  Don’t delete negative comments or questions; instead turn it into an opportunity to showcase your stellar customer service skills. To learn more about creating a solid social media page, use these social media tips to get started.

Review sites

Use common internet review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List to your advantage.  Fill out a complete profile on top review sites and ask your customers to post feedback after their experience with your company.  If you have multiple locations, you may have to create numerous profiles.

Content Marketing

Search engines look for fresh, updated website pages with relevant content.  Customers search for entertainment and answers to their questions.  Successful content marketing fulfills both. One of the most effective content marketing tools is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless.  A business blog is full of content that should be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Successful business blogs contain relatable and regular content. The latter term means you add content to the blog on a consistent basis—without gaps in posting. Unfortunately, many business blog writers start out with best of intentions and lose steam. If you don’t have time for a business blog, contact a content marketing company that can keep your blog updated with content specific to your business—and get you found online and on a road map.

5 Must Haves of Every Online Marketing Plan

Puzzle Squares On Smartphone Shows Pieces of Online MarketingWhen we were coming up with a title for this post, the logical choice was ‘5 essential elements of an internet marketing plan.’ Though logical, that title didn’t strike us as strong enough—not nearly strong enough to emphasize how much owners and managers need these must-haves to achieve online marketing results.  No one is going to find out about your website just from its mere existence (called the ‘if we build it, they will come’ phenomena).  Your business MUST have a solid internet marketing plan with all the essential elements that drives customers to your online presence—and converts them to paying customers.

Solid website

A solid website seems like a given; after visiting thousands of sub-par websites, we’re here to tell you that isn’t true.  Your online marketing efforts should revolve around your customers (not what you want them to know, but what they want to know) to drive traffic to your website.  Without a solid website for customers to land on and use, all your online marketing efforts are going to result in a big goose egg.  A solid website includes:

  • Text your English teacher would approve (i.e. no spelling errors, typos, grammatically correct),
  • Excellent user experience (clear call-to-actions, user-friendly navigation, etc.),
  • Design targeted toward your primary audience,
  • Mobile-friendly features and option,
  • Easy-to-read content written specifically for your audience,
  • Loading speed,
  • Quality images,
  • Contact information.

It’s important to note that you need all of these elements when building a solid website.  We’ve all seen websites that have some of these elements but not other key parts; we’d strongly recommend you go down this checklist and make sure your website checks off all the boxes.  If it doesn’t, find a company that can build a solid, customized website for your company—and provide all the services that go into a high-quality website (professional writing, design, security, etc.)

SEO

SEO Optimize Keywords Links Signpost Showing Website Marketing Optimization road sign for local seoSearch engine optimization is creating an optimal website and content for search engines to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are many different ways to optimize your website, but here are some of general, basic ways:

  • Adding regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content targeted for your primary audience
  • Using search engine optimization tactics such as writing strong, accurate headlines and building an optimized website structure
  • Hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you at the top of organic search engine listings in local towns and cities. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization technology is an essential part of reaching local customers searching for information and services. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website at the top of local organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

blog at center of targetContent marketing is creating and sharing content relevant to your customers. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless.

The goal of content marketing is to build trust. In the past, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. Excellent content marketing delivers the information your customers are searching for on the internet (on search engines and on social media), and gives them links to find more out about products, and to contact your business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with search engines. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.  If you don’t have time to maintain a regular content marketing schedule, contact a company that can produce professional content specific to your business and targeted at your customers. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Remember that you still need to allocate time to give input.

Content should be shared via social media, email marketing, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Social Media Marketing

social media sites behind smart phoneSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. Social media marketing gives your business these benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products and services. We’ve seen businesses where customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine what networks your customers are on. Factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for social media.  Automation tools can help with this process, but don’t overuse social media automation.   Be real on social media and avoid the common social media marketing ‘traps’ that some businesses fall in.  A solid social media presence consists of regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network), relevant resources, and prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service).  To check all those criteria off your list, designate a staff member (or company) adequate time to devote to your efforts.

Email Marketing  

Statistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers and good email marketing program.  Don’t send out thousands of emails from your company server.

To get the best results out of your email marketing, don’t buy random email lists.  Spam emails are a sure turn-off for customers and potential customers. Instead, compile a strong email list by:

  • Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch in-store or at tradeshows.
  • Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases.
  • Create a social media contest, and include an honest request for their email in the contest.

Craft emails with all the elements of a essential email marketing piece:

  • Truthful, eye-catching email subject line.
  • Strong media, videos, and visuals.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA).

Online Marketing Diagram Shows Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsIntegration

For optimal results, integrate all your online marketing efforts into a regular, coordinated internet marketing plan.  Start with a strong, optimized website with search engine optimization, and create a blog with topics that drive traffic back to your website.  Finally, create a schedule in-line with your business cycle that promotes your content (email marketing, social media marketing) and your website. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

8 Bad Social Media Mistakes Every Business Should Avoid

Failed Stamp Showing Social Media Marketing FailureOne of our favorite sayings is, “You don’t learn how to do things right if you don’t do them wrong” meaning that the learning process involves quite a bit of wrong to find out what is ‘right.’  While the road to social media success is not immune from the testing theory, one very big mistake (or mistakes) on social media can land you in very hot water—or not get you the results you’re on social media to achieve.  To save you from the embarrassment of a business social media post or comment gone wrong, the backlash (not to mention jeopardizing your job security), and the inevitable “FAIL” stamp on your social media efforts, we’ve listed some very bad social media mistakes made—and being made—by businesses on social media.

Making light of a horrible situation

Everyone appreciates a bit of humor, but make sure you don’t apply that levity to a situation that doesn’t warrant it (i.e. death, bombing, violence, etc.).  The internet is full of articles about brands that made humorous comments about a crisis, and it didn’t bode well for their brand.  Treat the situation with the sympathy it requires—not the misplaced joke that repels customers.

Lesson: Think twice, post once. Be cautious about using humor—especially related to a current event.

Ignoring comments from customers

A neglected angry customer is a ticking time bomb.  An ignored potential customer is not going to become a paying customer.  We have personally seen the effects of a ticking time bomb: a floor company’s Facebook page filled with angry rants from the same customer under EVERY post.  Worse yet, it took days (and many posts) for the company to realize what was going on.  Learn from their mistake: pay attention to your social media pages and respond to every customer that tries to interact with you on social media (for other tips on how to deal with the angry online customer, click here).

Lesson: Monitor your social media channels regularly, and have a process in place for responding to negative comments.

Responding to every comment with a canned response

You can picture this if you haven’t witnessed it in person: a food company that produces children’s products receives a complaint from a customer on social media.  In the blink of an eye, the company’s page is full of customers with the same complaint.  The company responds to every post (to their credit), but with the same (obviously copy and pasted) response.  This irritates the customers even more, and soon the crisis is spreading like wildfire.

Lesson: Respond to each customer with a personal, real human voice.

Overselling

Let’s get something straight: social media is not a billboard.  It’s a conversation.  If you want to be part of the conversation with your customers, don’t beat them over the head with posts that sell, sell, sell.  One of the top social media mistakes we see is businesses that look at social media only as a form of advertising.  It’s also one of the key ways we educate our clients when they hire us for online marketing expertise.  Instead follow the 80/20 rule so you are building trust with your customers (and potential customers).  Eighty percent of your posts should be relevant information.  The other 20% should focus on your products and brand.

Lesson: It’s okay to sell on social media, but social media marketing is a more subtle form of marketing.  Create a schedule that follows the 80/20 rule.

Posting personal comments to your business account

This sounds like common sense, but it’s incredibly easy to do.  One wrong click can leave your business social media followers snickering about your wild and crazy night; we guarantee your boss won’t take it quite as well.  That’s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a personal voice; it does mean you should post your dinner and stories for your friends, not your customers. Trust us, your friends will respect you in the morning (hopefully)—your customers and employer, not so much.

Lesson: Check, check, and double check before posting so that your personal opinions and comments stay off of your business social media account.

Classic social media feast-or-famine approach

It’s a cycle that just keeps repeating on social media pages: business posts, posts again, posts again, and then…days pass.  Weeks pass. No tweets or posts.  Suddenly, the business starts posting again.  Then nothing.  Social media results come from a schedule of regular and relevant posts.

Lesson: Create a schedule of relevant posts, and stick to your schedule. If you can’t, hire a company who can keep up a regular social media schedule with relatable information.

Not knowing who you’re talking to

What good is talking to a room full of people who don’t care about what you’re saying?  How is that room full of people supposed to care about what you’re saying if it doesn’t apply to them?  Apply that same concept to social media: know who you’re talking to, so your proverbial “room” or social media followers doesn’t fall asleep by your social media posts.

Lesson: Know who your social media audience is, and choose content that is relevant to their lives.

Spamming other businesses

Posting to another business’ website without their permission is a sure-fire recipe to get you in trouble.  Use this trouble-free theory in your social media marketing: ask first, post second.  Don’t post on other business social media sites trying to reach their fans without their permission.  It’s that simple.

Lesson: Establishing relationships with other businesses is good practice, but don’t betray that trust by posting without asking permission.