By Mike Liebensohn
Most small businesses have some form of web presence these days - a website, Facebook page, maybe some YouTube videos - but not very many are taking advantage of the true (and often free) power of the internet to market their business.
Here is my Top 10 list of common mistakes - things that businesses are NOT doing. They're leaving lots of money on the table and probably throwing away lots of money in other places...
1. Not Having a Free Offer. Do you know how many people visit your website each month? How many of them call or email you? How many buy? What happens to all those other people? How about those people you meet at events - the ones you don't have time (or desire) to follow-up with? What if you had a way to automatically engage and keep in touch with these people? Start by creating something of value - a coupon, video series, e-book - that you can give away (electronically) in exchange for an email address. Put a sign-up box on your website and shift your focus from selling your product to "selling" your free giveaway. Now, "touch" these people on a regular basis...
2. Not Sending Regular Emails to Everyone in Your Database. (Or doing it the WRONG way) It's so much easier to sell to existing customers. This is the low hanging fruit - marketing to your existing database helps with referrals and repeat business by keeping you "top of mind". It's also a good way to sell other products that you or an affiliate company may offer. The key here is to have good, helpful, interesting content, and send it out with the right frequency.
3. Making it Hard for People to Contact You. Why would you go out of your way to hide your phone number and address on your website? I can't tell you how many websites I've visited where this information was either hard to find or was only in a picture (where Google can't find it). Your phone number should be large at the top right of the page and your address should be at the bottom of every page, along with a general email address.
4. Not Knowing Your Main Keywords. Just about anything you do online gets indexed by Google. The way to get found online is by understanding and using the proper keywords in your website pages, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages, etc. Many people focus on optimizing their site for keywords without truly knowing what keywords to optimize for. How can you bait a hook if you don't know what the fish will bite at? Ask your customers, friends, and try googling different words yourself and see if your competition shows up. Set up Google analytics (free) on your site and get REAL scientific data on what words people are using.
5. Not Being Everywhere Online. Online is not just about having a website. Google looks at other sites that link back to your main site - local directories, Yelp, Manta, Facebook, YouTube, article sites, blogs, etc. The more places you can put your keywords, website address, phone number, and address, the better. You'll cast a much wider net, having more places to show up in a Google search, while also making your main website more relevant (because other sites are linking to it).
6. Not Having 5 Reviews on Google Places (Google + Local) This means reviews your customers leave themselves, not the ones they give you in a letter that you then put up on your website. This is really important - I have a client who finally got his 5th review and his Google Places rank jumped to #1 almost immediately!!! There's something magical about having at least 5. So how do you do it? Send something to all of your customers stating that the first 5 that go on your Google Places page and leave a positive review will get a $50 gift card. Or, have each customer do it on YOUR laptop right after purchasing or signing the contract. The best thing about the act of soliciting testimonials: your customers are further solidifying in their mind the reasons why they bought from you and are then much more likely to buy again and/or recommend it to their friends!
7. No Videos or Videos Not Properly Optimized. Having videos on your website makes it 50x more likely to rank on the first page of Google than not having videos! And, having videos on YouTube is even more important, since Google owns YouTube, and many people (300 million a month) go there first to find information. Customer testimonials are best - or you can answer FAQ's about your business. If you're camera shy, make a PowerPoint and talk over it. The most important things to do (that most people don't do) when uploading a video on YouTube: use your main keywords in the title, put a link to your website in the description (start with http://), include a specific call to action, set the location (where the video was made) -- AND keep the video length to 2 minutes or less!
8. Thinking People Care About You and Your Company. Ever heard the radio station WIFM? Also known as "what's in it for me" - and that's the mentality of the typical person hunting for something online. They don't care about your bio or what your building looks like. They want what they want when they want it. Not because they are bad people; they are just overwhelmed. I suggest giving clear free information about what you do and about your industry, product, or service. Give away some of your secrets. This is reality: they'll find it somewhere else online eventually, why not take the opportunity to position yourself as the local expert, and count on them reciprocating some day in the future (or telling their friends how helpful you were).
9. Not Updating Your Website on a Regular Basis. Just to clarify - regular does not mean once every 5 years! Content on the web is like produce at the grocery store. Everything has a sell by date on it. Your information will constantly be piled "on top of" by others who are creating newer information. The easiest way to stay current is with a blog hosted on your main website. A What's New section on your home page is great, and a very good place for specials or coupon (that change on a regular basis!). Updates can be made "off-site" also. A great strategy is to upload new videos to YouTube or publish articles that link to your website. Try to do this once a week or once a month at the very least. Consistency counts!
10. Not Tracking EVERYTHING. The secret to writing good copy and ads, and creating offers, etc is not creativity, it's testing. No matter how smart we think we are, we'll never know if something will really work until we try it and measure it. Some of the ugliest ads and web pages make the most money. Therefore, try something, measure it, then tweak it until you get something that really works! Sometimes changing one word is enough to make a huge difference in response rate!! Use Google analytics to track website traffic and use unique phone numbers (Google voice is free) and offer codes to track all other offline ad campaigns.
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The following links will give you the inspiration and tactics you need to get better engagement and reach on Facebook.
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In the mood to learn about one of the first things we do for new local SEO clients? Google Places is the most important place for any business to get listed properly.
The following training is from Google staffers themselves and outlines everything you need to know about getting set up and running on Google Places. (You'll see why a lot of businesses choose to hire pros like us to do this and other search engine optimization work for them.)
(Note that you need to click on the bottom of the video above and choose the 4th video in the playlist for the Google Places training. All of the videos in the list are great, but the one mentioned here is #4 in the list.)
Using the internet effectively to attract new customers and keep your repeat business growing requires a plan. And with everything you and your staff must do to keep your business running, that plan must be simple and something you'll stick with over time to get the best results.
The web has so much to offer a local business which is visible where locals surf and share information. Don't be intimidated by the technology. And don't kid yourself about the fact that the web is your best tool to increase your business cost-effectively. It's 2013. It's time to get very serious about your web marketing!
Here's a simple 14-point list of ideas for gaining traction and visibility with your web marketing. These points should be considered one by one in light of the resources you have to make them happen. It is highly recommended that you don't spread yourself too thin and try to work on too many marketing tactics at the same time.
Rather, it is best to tackle one or two at a time and really get the most out of them. Then you can move on to other marketing tactics. Of course, if you have help, you can tackle more internet marketing tasks at once and get where you want to go much faster.
More local business internet marketing tips from Marie Forleo:
Here's to a great 2013 for your local business!
Jeremy, Jack, Constance, Trish, and Mary wish all of our friends, families and clients a VERY merry Christmas!
Ever wonder what kind of SEO and local internet marketing reading material is on the Brick Road team's phones, tablets, or desktops?
Here's a snippet of what I've shared so far today:
Mobile Search Beyond Google: Search Engines Inside Apps »
A couple months back, I covered the rise of a new generation of Windows Phones, and how they will slowly bring more mobile search market share to Bing. But, there’s more to mobile search than just Goo...
You Must Blog and Blog Smart in 2013
Blogging has had its ups and downs as an SEO, social media, and content marketing activity. But there’s no doubt whatsoever that blogging will be crucial to all three areas in 2013. These two big-picture 2012 developments are what have elevated business blogs from optional to essential.
Boning up on the new WordPress 3.5 release coming soon.
Top 10 Most Shared Social Video Brands Of 2012
Social video has been on the rise this year, with more brands turning to sites like YouTube to get their brand messages out than ever before. Unruly Media has compiled a list of the top 10 most shared social video brands of 2012, based upon the number of shares each brand’s social video campaigns attracted on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. Together, these brands accounted for over 36 billion shares!
The above reading list is just from this morning. I'm not sure, but willing to bet we have to read more and keep up on more tech, social, search, and marketing news and training than professions like doctors and lawyers do. Of course, those professions don't change and add new things to be aware of on a weekly basis either.
For the small business owners or staff who have been tasked with getting more and better search engine rankings for their sites, this new free SEO course should be a big help.
No subscription required to access 12 training videos which are geared toward people with little technical experience.
If you like the training, please show your support on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Google+ on the SEO course page!
Do that, and we'll keep making great training resources like this free for you!
This exhaustive list of resources and expert advice (actually well over 101 of them!) was made for busy local business owners who are great at what you do, but not so great at marketing your business on the web.
Most of the local marketing tips you see online might as well be in another language, right? And if you understand the language, a lot of the strategies you read about take an incredible amount of time, which you don't have. So this list of 101 ways to get in front of more local customers takes your internet marketing experience (not much) and time (even less!) into account.
Follow some or all of these tips to get more local customers with internet marketing. More importantly, to make your business shine in the right places where your customers hang out!
Setting Up The Right Accounts and Profiles
Below are the accounts and profiles Brick Road always sets up for local business clients from the start. The bulk of a successful online marketing campaign for local businesses can be accomplished with social and search. The following accounts will lay the foundation for the rest of your campaign and put you ahead of most of your competition from the start.
Signup to everything below with your exact business name and always use the same NAP (name address phone number) for every profile or account you create.
15 Social Media Mistakes You Should Avoid - Once you learn what to avoid in social media marketing for small business, use the resources below to find out how to market properly with social media.
Facebook Marketing Tips
Twitter Marketing Tips
Google+ Marketing Tips
Pinterest Marketing Tips
LinkedIn Marketing Tips
Video Marketing Tips
The Ultimate Business Blogging How-To Guide - excellent, in-depth resources for business blogging.
This is the most important thing you can nail down for your local business website from the very beginning. It's also the hardest. You can do-it-yourself with the tips and tools below, or better yet, hire Brick Road to get it done professionally and accurately.