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The Matrix of Metrics: Online Marketing and Your Small Business

Often we encounter clients looking for ways to increase their bottom line and their exposure without putting a dent in their wallet.  One of the most effective tools that can be used, when done correctly, is online marketing. Online marketing encompasses PPC ads, social media marketing, email marketing and all the other great things you can do on the internet to brand and market your business (and usually for a much lower cost than traditional marketing).

The key to online marketing is to use it the right way. Done correctly, it will be quick, effective and inexpensive. When it is done incorrectly it can be a serious waste of resources.

Before you start your online marketing campaigns- be it Facebook, Twitter, Adwords, etc., you need to track and analyze the metrics for all that work you are doing online. Generally these metrics are going to include measuring traffic and visitors to your blog, social networks, social media, and any ad campaigns you are running. The reason metrics are important is because they will give you that needed insight into whether or not what you are doing is working, and how you need to adjust and tweak your campaigns.

Items such as inconsistent search phrases or flawed audience can cost you money. And of course, the metrics will also tell you what you are doing correctly!

Over our next few blogs, we’ll be going over some of the ways you can measure your online marketing effectiveness.

One of the more popular ways our clients choose to market online is through Google Adwords.

Google Adwords

Should you use pay-per-click or site targeted advertising (banner ads, rich media ads and text) then it is important that you pay attention to these 5 things:

  • Click Thru Rate (CTR) – this would be the percentage of people that clicked on your ad. If you have a 10% CTR that means that for every 100 people that saw it your ad, 10 clicked on it.
  • Average position – this lets you know where the placement of your ad is in search results. Generally the most success if found in positions 3 thru 5.
  • Impression share – this is the number of times your ad is displayed per number of searches of a particular keyword phrase. If your impression rate is 50% that means that every time that phrase is searched your ad pops up half the time. A strong impression rate is considered 80% or higher.
  • Bounce rate –this is the rate (percentage) of people that clicked on your ad, went to the landing page and left. In other words they did not follow your call to action. A bounce rate of 30 means that 3 out of every 10 people that clicked the ad, left once they got to the landing page.
  • Conversion rate – this is the good one, this is the rate that visitors become customers.
  • Landing page- You also need to make sure you have effective, measurable landing pages for your ads.  Your visitors who you are paying to click through on your ads need to “land” on the right kind of webpage.  For example, if you just take them to your homepage, they might not be seeing what it is they are looking for and they’ll be more likely to leave (increasing your bounce rates!). The most effective landing pages will speak to your visitors, address why they clicked on your ads in the first place, and encourage a conversion through a form, click through or other option.  Your landing pages can make or break your Adwords campaign.

In our next blog post, we’ll be going over email marketing and website analytics.  Stay tuned!

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Social Media Marketing Advice For B2Bs

A few years ago the sentiment was that if you didn’t have a website than you weren’t in business. Having a website designed gave current and potential customers a way to get to know the business they were getting ready to do business with, check out services and find a way to get in contact with you.

Today, it is a given that you will have a website BUT you also need a social presence. Don’t think that just because you are a business to business service/product provider and not B2C that you don’t need to take advantage of social media. You need to use social media to prove to potential customers that you are an industry leader… that you know what you are talking about.
Here we are going to give a few reasons as to why B2Bs need to utilize social media, but first we want to make a point. If you do nothing else, make sure that your company blog is talking about industry related information. A nice combination of original and curated content is best, but talk about what is happening now, trends, issues and how your company would handle them.
The reason is twofold, your rankings will sky-rocket. Remember when a company sits to do a search for someone to address a need they have, they aren’t going to scroll through pages of results. They are going to take a look at the first few results on that first page, and you may be surprised to find out that they are going to pay more attention to the website results that are ranked organically. The latest stats report that businesses that maintain an active blog receive 67% more leads through their website and 57% of companies that use their blog have acquired customers from blog generated leads.

Don’t make the mistake in thinking that only your marketing person needs to promote your company, get all of your employees involved. Encourage them to refer people to the blog content in conversation, email and social networks.

A Few More Reasons to Use Social Media

1. A customer needs to see a company’s name 7 times (on average) before they trust that company enough to do business with them.
2. 89% of consumers view online sources of products and services reviews as trustworthy
3. 63% of consumers are more inclined to buy from a site that has product ratings and reviews
4. 75% of B2B buyers say that social media will influence future purchases
5. A company using its blog to create interesting content and promote internal content can increase their monthly leads by 8 times.
6. 91% of Fortune 500 companies use social media as part of their marketing mix
7. 82% of your potential clients online can be reached socially through social networks
8. 72% of marketers have reported that they are closing more business deals because of social media

Keep In Mind

The point of social media is to engage your potential customer. You engage the with interesting relevant content. Calls to action that lead them to more great content are important. Social media, especially social networks is NOT about selling. If you do nothing but talk about how great your company and your product is you are going to lose potential customers and possibly current ones.

If used right, social media can be a great, very low cost and effective marketing tool for your small business.

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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Social Media

Social media is a really neat tool for business owners to use to connect to consumers and other business owners.  It’s free marketing and pr.  It’s a great way to give potential customers a deeper insight into who and what your business is all about.  We’ve been over the basics, but here’s some things you might not know yet about your social powers:

1.  Pinterest Images can be posted several different ways. You can pin images directly from your website or upload them via the Pinterest website.  When you upload an image via Pinterest’s website- be sure to add your keywords and the domain (url) people can go to for more information on where the picture came from.  And one more tip- post your Pinterest pages as status updates to your Facebook page.  This can help co-promote and build your fans and followers on both social networking sites.

2.  Facebook posts can be scheduled- but that doesn’t mean you should do it!  Facebook used to “punish” users for scheduling posts or using scheduling software (think Hootsuite) by preventing scheduled posts from showing up on people’s newsfeeds.  They say now that they don’t mind if you do it (they even added a scheduling option right to business page admins).  So why not schedule?  It’s tricky to know why Facebook doesn’t care when it used to be a big deal.  If you’re using scheduling software to make your posts, it’s much less personal and Facebook knows this.  We think there may be a correlation between how your posts show on fans’ newsfeeds and how you send those posts out.  We would sure say it’s okay to use scheduling software once in a while, but since it doesn’t take long to post an update to a page, so why not just do it manually if you can take a few seconds?

3. Speaking of scheduling- don’t think you can “Set it and Forget it”.  A lot of business owners who manage their own social media will sit down one day a week, month, etc. and set that week/month’s tweets up in Hootsuite and then won’t touch it again for another week/month. What happens if someone responds and you miss it?  Besides that, if you’re scheduling tweets and posts for a week or month, then you are probably missing out on the main goal of social media- communication. Setting tweets/posts without the intent of checking back in for a few days misses the whole idea of connecting and reaching out to your followers.  Talk to your fans, compliment them, question them and interact with them. Be sure to check in once every day or two at the most- it only takes a few minutes and can be a valuable addition to your business!

4. Your keywords can help through social media!  Keyword density is also important in social media.  If a big goal of yours is better search engine optimization obtaining better rankings for keywords, then remember to use your keywords in the things you post.  Just be careful not to go overboard.  Your primary target is your audience, not search engines, but it’s always good to post about your keywords from time to time.  It won’t make a gigantic difference, but all these things can add up to better rankings.

5. It’s not as easy to see when another business has “liked” your Facebook fan page.  You get notified everytime a person “likes” your page, but you don’t get notified (nor is it included in your fan count) when a business “likes” your page.  You have to look at your “Likes” click on “See All” and then select “Pages That Like This” in order to see if any businesses/pages have “liked” your page.  Do this once every other week or so- and always “Like” them back!  Whew! That’s a lot of LIKES!  Don’t forget that networking with other businesses can be a great marketing tool.  If you both have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., use them together to co-promote.  Since we’re rolling with the cliches: Two heads are better than one!

6. It’s noted throughout the web that a whopping 70% of social media users trust unknown users reviews versus trusted experts and brands.  That means that 70% of your fans would rather read the comments on your Facebook page and other social media sites, than go through your website to learn about you and the work you do. With a number like that, make it count.  Facebook allows users to leave recommendations for your business on your Fan Page.  Ask your users to leave reviews and always ask your customers to leave reviews.  Even a good tweet your way from a happy customer should be retweeted and promoted on your own site.  A little goes a long way!  🙂

 

What do you think of these tips?  Do you think they’re sound advice? Anything you’d like to add? Post it on our Facebook page!

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5 Things You Can Do On Your Own To Boost Your Website’s SEO

We get people all the time who come to us saying- we need help with SEO but can’t afford to hire someone!  Working with Small Businesses, we understand how budgets can be tight. Building your traffic organically can be time consuming, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot.  We have a few tips you can use to help boost your site’s search engine rankings all on  your own.

1. Images– Your images should be saved properly.  One of the easiest things you can do is save the images on your website and include keywords to help describe the image.  Since search engine spiders can’t tell what an image is, this helps to tell them what the picture is about and how it relates to your site.  Try saving that image of your storefront titled: “img01.jpg” to “chicago-pet-food-store.jpg” instead.  Try to use your keywords in the title, but make sure you’re still accurately describing the picture.

2. Links–  One of the most important factors Google and other search engines take into consideration is the links that point back to your site.  These links should be of high quality and be from websites that are  related to your business.  So ask your colleagues to give you a link to your website from theirs- and you can return the favor if you’d like.

3. BLOG!– We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it.  Your site needs a blog.  The more you blog, the more fresh content you are putting on your website.  We can help you get a blog installed on your website and even teach you how to use it most effectively for SEO.  It’s not that hard, and is well worth the little amount of time it takes.

4. Socialize– Twitter, Google +, Facebook and other social media sites like Pinterest are really important to search engines. Having active social networking accounts can help show you put the effort in to help promote your company- and search engines like to see that! Plus setting these up are all FREE!

5. Update your site– The more you update the content on your site, the better.  Websites with fresh content that are updated frequently tend to rank higher in search engines than those that aren’t.  So in addition to your blogging, don’t forget to update the rest of your website!

There’s a lot to a successful SEO campaign, but little things like these can make a real difference when it comes to how your site gets indexed by search engines.  The most important thing to keep in mind is to remember that SEO takes time, and a lot of effort, so take the time to network, blog and socialize and your website will be rewarded for it in the long run.

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Is Your Site Ranking?

How does your site rank on Google? What have you done to improve it? Your website content has so much to do with how Google, Yahoo and Bing index it and display it in search results. Your content should contain your top keywords as well as links to various parts of your site. It’s also important to make sure each page has the appropriate keywords, titles and descriptions. While your visitors won’t usually notice things like this, a search engine will.

Aside from On-Page Optimization, your site needs to have the right links coming back to it.  Quality over quantity is very important here.  Remember to gain links from higher PR sites.  Getting vendors and clients to link back to your website is always a good tool when done properly.

Read more about SEO and your website.

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Web Design Made Simple

Small businesses should save where they can.  One way is to use a pre-designed theme and customize.

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Brand Identity

Branding concept in tag cloudHow do your potential clients identify with your brand?  Does your logo identify with your core business practice?  It’s important to carry your themes, colors and logos across all your marketing material from your website to your business cards to your brochures.  Proper brand identity can help your products and services sell themselves.  If you offer more than one product or service, properly identifying your brand can help one service or product sell another.

We’ve seen many companies fail at branding.  Using different logos for the same products, different colors to identify the same services, and it only leads to confusion by the potential customer.  It’s important to keep your logos, schemes and themes the same across your website, social media and print material.  Your customers will be better able to identify you and your products and it makes it easier to recommend a product or service to a friend.  With the influx of social sharing, this can be crucial to a businesses success.

 

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Local Marketing for Your Small Business

 

Countless small businesses are missing something from their marketing campaign:  Local Marketing.  Do you own a storefront?  Are your main customers people within a 25 mile radius?  How do they find you? As a local business, you need to make sure you’re advertising in the right places.

One of the best and least expensive ways to get started is to create a local listing.  It’s easy to create one- head over to Google’s Local Business Center.  Log in with your Gmail or Google apps account and claim your listing.  Add tags that are appropriate to your business- think of what you’d type in a search engine if you were looking for a company like yours.  Google will even help you with suggestions if you aren’t sure which keywords to choose.  Don’t forget to upload images of your products (up to 10), add your address, your website, your hours, and your phone number.  You can create special offers, coupons and deals too with your local listing- be sure to take advantage of this!

Now that your local listing has been created, it will take a while for it to bump up to the top of the search.  To be sure your listing moves up the list, make sure to update it regularly, and be sure you have accurate information about your business.  Ask your customers to rate your business through your places page. The more ratings you have, the better chances you have to move up the list.

As you wait (and pray!) for your local listing to move up towards the top of the list- you might be interested in trying one of Google’s PPC campaigns.   You should try out Google Boost. Google boost gives your add a “boost” to the top of the list for your selected keywords.  It’s a relatively inexpensive and effective way to boost your local search results. As a local business, you may even find that Google Boost is more effective than Adwords for your small business.

Have you tried Google Boost?  Is your places page up to date?  Tell us what experiences you’ve found with Google Local Listings for your small businesses.  Leave a comment below or come and find us on our Facebook page!

 

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Small Business Blogging- Finding Topics

Blogging is one of the best ways to build up a following on your website.  I tell my clients again and again, one of the best things you can do to improve your search engine rankings and traffic is to add a blog to your site, have it set up properly, and post to it regularly.  You see, the way a search engine works is that it looks for websites that offer up fresh content.  Sites with blogs that are updated regularly are more favorable to search engines than sites without blogs.

Many people get stuck with their blogs and come to me saying “I’ve written all there is to write on my business topic!”  Too many business bloggers make the mistake of focusing only on the one topic that brings in business- and then they run out of things to write.  You have to think outside the box and think about what else it is that your blog readers/visitors would be interested in.  One of the best things you can do to help increase and retain visitors is to become a source of information for them.  For example, if you own a bakery- you’ll certainly blog about cupcakes, muffins and brownies… But what about giving your readers recipes?  How about writing about low fat options your bakery offers? Your readers would also probably be interested in learning about the recent school fundraising event your bakery sponsored, and about how you donate your day old bread and sweets to a local homeless shelter.

Can’t relate to the bakery blogging?  Okay then, let’s say you own an auto body shop.  You may want to blog about the new engine mount you just got, or the 66 Mustang you just had in the shop that you found a nest of black widow spiders in (thanks Bill!).  You can also blog about the NASCAR race and the feud between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, and make fun of the way they drive!  Make more sense now?  Become a source of information and entertainment for your readers and they will want to keep coming back.  Keep your blog topics diverse, yet still something your customers can relate to and you’ll genuinely offer a great experience for your readers, as well as make search engines more likely to direct more traffic to your site.

If you’re still unsure of how to get started blogging for your small business, contact us and we’ll be happy to help and offer some guidance.

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