5 Essential Marketing Strategies You Can Use To Grow Your Business

5 Essential Marketing Strategies You Can Use To Grow Your Business

These days, it seems like everyone’s talking about FOMO – the fear of missing out. They use it to talk about life experiences and events, including everything from trying new foods to traveling to new places.

Well, that fear of missing out applies to marketing, too.

You might think that you’re doing everything you can to market your business…

… but what if you’re not?

You might be losing out on:

New customers

Increased sales

Your future success

You don’t want that to happen to you. And you might be wondering what marketing strategies you should be implementing to make sure it doesn’t.

Here they are.

#1: Optimize Your Website

This first marketing strategy might seem obvious but a lot of local businesses don’t bother doing it. That’s because they have limited marketing budgets and know-how and they often create websites on their own. We’re talking about optimizing your website.

That might not be a problem for a business that already has a solid customer base, but what if you want to grow your company? An optimized site is a must.

There are two key kinds of optimization to think about:

Optimization for local search

Optimization for mobile

Both kinds of optimization are designed to help you attract organic search traffic to your site. For the former, you’ll need to audit your site, choose the right keywords, and use tags and content to get your site to rank.

For mobile optimization, the key is to use a theme that allows mobile users to view all your content easily regardless of what device they use to access your site.

#2: Claim (and Standardize) All Online Listings of Your Business

Your website is important, but it’s not the only way people find you online.

You might already know that, but few local businesses take the time to research their online listings and claim them – and that means they’re missing out.

Unclaimed listings may be incorrect. The last thing you need is a misleading listing that has the wrong URL or business hours.

The process of claiming your listings should go like this:

Do a Google search for your company and identify all online listings

Claim each listing according to the instructions on the site

Standardize all NAP listings (that’s Name, Address, Phone Number) so they’re identical. Everything, from street names to abbreviations to the format of the telephone number must be the same.

If you do this, you can be sure that you’re not diluting your online presence with a slew of inaccurate or unclaimed listings. It might seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference to Google.

We do offer a service that can help you claim and manage your online directories.

Learn more about our business listing marketing service.

#3: Include an Opt-In Form on Every Page of Your Site

Building an email list is a must for every local business. It lets you communicate with both existing and prospective customers, announce new products and events, and turn leads into sales.

So why is it, then, that so few local businesses do everything they can to attract email subscribers? It might be because they don’t realize how easy it is to maximize their efforts.

It all starts with an opt-in form. If your form is appearing on only one page on your site, you’re not capturing as many subscribers as you should be.

The solution? Put an opt-in form on every page. On some pages, you may want to include an offer, such as a tip sheet or a short eBook, to attract subscribers. On others, the presence of the form on the sidebar or as a pop-up may be enough.

The main point is that anybody who lands on ANY page of your site is a potential subscriber – so treat them that way.

#4: Be Smart on Social Media

For some local businesses, social media is an afterthought. They might have a Facebook page or a presence on Instagram, but they post sporadically and don’t do much to build or engage their audience.

There’s no denying that social media looms large on the marketing landscape. Here’s what you should be doing:

Creating and adhering to a content-posting schedule so your followers know when to look for you

Posting content that’s entertaining and valuable to your audience

Varying your content so it’s always interesting

Answer questions from customers

Don’t let your social media accounts stagnate. They’re the perfect place to engage current customers and show new ones what they’re missing.

#5: Pay for Advertising Strategically

There’s an awful lot you can do to market your company online for free, but sometimes, it pays to pay.

Here’s the thing: on Facebook, your posts only reach a tiny fraction of your followers organically. The number was 6.5% as of 2015 and it’s declined since then. Some business with a lot of followers may only get about 2% organic reach.

There’s a similar problem on Twitter due to the volume of Tweets on the average users feed. It’s easy to miss things.

Don’t lose heart, though, because the solution is a simple one. Every so often, you need to pay to advertise on social media.

On Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, you can boost a post – often for just a few dollars. Boosting greatly increases the number of people who see your content.

Here are the types of things you should post:

Content that gets a lot of organic engagement

Product announcements and event information

Content that’s designed to attract email subscribers

Content that you think is particularly relevant and useful to your audience

There’s an art to boosting content, and it’s your job to master it. Even if you spend only a dollar a day on boosted content, you’re likely to see a significant increase in your engagement.

Stop Worrying about Missing Out…

… and put yourself in the thick of things. You might not have a huge marketing budget, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your marketing goals. The five marketing musts on this list will ensure that you don’t have to worry about marketing FOMO ever again.

6 Smart Ways to Generate More Positive Reviews

6 Smart Ways to Generate More Positive Reviews

Who doesn’t love a positive review from a satisfied customer? Every business owner knows the value of positive reviews – and they’ve never been more important than they are right now.

 Did you know that more than 80% of all consumers say that they trust a product review from a stranger as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend? Not only that, people trust user reviews more than the official descriptions of products.

If you’re thinking of customer reviews as something that you can’t control, think again. Business owners can do a lot to encourage reviews – and of course, you can increase the chance that most of your reviews will be positive by providing excellent quality and service.

Still, those things aren’t enough. You can’t afford to sit back and hope that customers leave reviews of your business.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take a backseat to your customer’s whims. Here are six smart ways you can get more positive reviews online.

#1: Email Customers After a Purchase

Do you send customers an email after they make a purchase?

I’m not talking about the confirmation email where you send them an order number if they order online. I mean an email where you specifically ask them how they like your product and request that they write a review.

This is a practice that’s become increasingly common – and for a good reason. Some people automatically leave reviews for everything. They’re the well-known Yelpers who have thousands of reviews.

Many people need a reminder. They’re not going to leave a review of their own accord – but they just might if you ask them nicely. This is the review version of the call to action on your website. It’s a specific request to take a specific action.

Try sending your review request email a week to ten days after the purchase. That way, the customer will have had a chance to use your product and may be ready to offer an opinion.

#2: Empower Your Employees to Ask for Reviews

Sometimes, making the right request at the right time is all it takes to get the reviews you want. That’s why it makes sense to have your employees ask for reviews.

Some Uber drivers do this. Just before they arrive at their passenger’s destination, they ask about the review. The simple request puts the idea of leaving a review in the customer’s mind and greatly increases the chances that they’ll comply and leave a review.

Why ask at the point of service? When a customer has just made a purchase or used your service, the experience is fresh. A cashier who provides a friendly checkout and some banter is ideally placed to ask for a review because they have an opportunity to build rapport with the customer.

If you decide to use this method of getting reviews, consider printing cards asking for reviews and putting links to your review pages on your website. You don’t want customers to be confused about what to do – so eliminate the guesswork and you’ll reap the rewards.

#3: Use a Reviews Provider

Are you selling products from well-known brand names? If you are, you might benefit from using a reviews provider like Bazaarvoice or Revoo to build up reviews on your product page.

The benefit of using these providers is that they can get you a bunch of reviews at once. They’re real reviews from real people and they can give your page instant credibility.

The downside is that the reviews aren’t from your customers. They’re from people who have bought the product – and they’re all verified. That’s the good part. The less-great part is that they can’t and won’t be providing reviews of YOUR business, including your ambience, customer service, and other key drivers of business.

These providers are a good option for start-up businesses because they can make your website appear to be well-established and popular. As you go, you can supplement the reviews you get through a service with new reviews from your customers.

#4: Try to Get a Google Local Guide to Review Your Company

Google Local Guide is a program owned by Google that designates certain reviewers as local experts.

The process of getting a local guide can be a complex one, but here are some tips to help you do it:

Make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and active

Join Google Local Guides on your own – you can write reviews of local businesses and raise your visibility provided you don’t use the platform to promote or favor your business

Attend local events with other guides

Invite other guides to come to your business

This isn’t a quick fix, but the nice thing about Google Local Guides is that when a local guide reviews your business, their designation shows up in the review and that gives it more weight than it would have otherwise. Another benefit is that Google requires guides to use their real names, so there’s less of the anonymous ranting that shows up on Yelp.

#5: Automate the Asking Process

If there’s a way for you to automate the process of asking for reviews, why wouldn’t you do it?

Automation means that there’s no worry that a stressed-out employee will forget to ask. It turns the process into part of your customer service – a hands-off way of encouraging customer feedback and garnering the kinds of reviews you want.

Here are a few suggestions to help you automate your system:

Set up an autoresponder to send an email requesting a review. Instead of manually sending those emails, link the date of a customer’s purchase to their email and have it go out on schedule. If you link customer purchases to your email marketing provider, you can rest easy knowing that every customer will get a request for a review.

Print up review request cards and put them in the customer’s bag at checkout. This method eliminates the need for your cashier to ask for a review, and makes it simple to do even at times when you’re busy and have a line at the register.

Put review links on your product pages. That way, when a customer makes a purchase they can easily read reviews of it – and it may help to remind them to leave a review after their purchase.

Automating your review request system makes good business sense because it eliminates the guesswork.

#6: Set Up a Review System in Your Company

Even if your business is small, you shouldn’t fly by the seat of your pants when you’re requesting reviews. The method you use to ask for reviews should be part of your company’s standard operating procedures.

Your review system should:

Specify whose job it is to ask for reviews

Specify the language to be used when requesting a review

Specify methods to be used (email, conversation, links and printed cards, to name a few)

Specify the timeframe for requesting reviews

Lay out procedures for responding to both positive and negative reviews

If you codify your system for requesting and managing reviews, you can be sure that there isn’t any confusion and that customers always get the request you want them to get.

Don’t Sweat the Negative Reviews… 

We’ve focused here on garnering positive reviews for your business, but don’t get too stressed about negative reviews. If you handle them properly, they can help your business too!

Respond quickly and graciously and offer solutions. Don’t get defensive. Many businesses use negative feedback to demonstrate that they care about their customers.

If you’re getting so many reviews that you’re having trouble keeping up, you may want to consider using an online review management system to help you – and having too many reviews is the problem you want to have! That’s how businesses grow.

How to Optimize Your Website for Smart Speakers and Voice-Activated Devices

How to Optimize Your Website for Smart Speakers and Voice-Activated Devices

Do you use voice search on your phone or on an in-home device like Google Home or Amazon Echo?

More people do this year than last year – and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue. As of March 2017, 12% of American households have a voice assistant.

Some are named Siri and others are named Alexa…

But they’re all doing the same basic thing. They’re providing voice-activated, localized search results that use casual human speech and questions instead of traditional keywords.

In other words, instead of going to Google and typing:

Best delivery pizza Chicago

People are saying:

Okay Google, what’s the best pizza delivery place?

Virtual assistant use GPS to provide local results, and they read the intent behind the questions we ask them. That means that it’s no longer enough to use the keywords people type on your website.

You need to consider the things they say, too.

What Keywords Should You Be Using?

The good news is that keyword stuffing is dead. You don’t have to spend your time worrying about keyword density, and you certainly don’t need to tie yourself into verbal knots trying to use an awkward long-tail keyword 30 times in a thousand words of content.

Does that mean you can ignore keywords?

Of course not, but it does mean that you need to be smart about how you use them. You need to find long-tail keywords that people use to search businesses like yours and use them on your website in ways that give them prominence for virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri.

Long-tail keywords should include specific information about your business, including local words like your city or neighborhood. They’re the words that will help smart speakers and virtual assistants find you even if the speaker doesn’t use those words.

How Can You Find Long-Tail Keywords?

You might be wondering where you can go to find long-tail keywords – and if you’re not already using them on your site, this is an essential question to answer.

Fortunately, it’s not a complicated process, and it shouldn’t be. There are several free tools you can use, and some of them don’t even require you to go any further than the Google home page.

Let Google autofill suggest long-tail keywords. When you start typing in Google’s search box, you get a list of suggested searches that pop up automatically. As you type, the suggested search terms change. These lists – which are based on search volume – can help you identify long-tail keywords to use on your website.

Another Google tip involves scrolling down to the bottom of the search engine results page and checking out the related searches. You’ll see a list of words in bright blue with a headline that starts, “Searches related to” and then lists the keyword that you originally searched. These terms are also known as LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing, and they can add context and meaning to your website.

Try Ubersuggest, a free tool that suggests long-tail keywords for your business based on an existing keyword. It’s simple to use and can provide you with useful ideas to build your site’s SEO for voice. It even links out to Google and GoogleTrends to make it simple to dig a little deeper on any suggested keyword.

Speaking of GoogleTrends, you may want to try it, too. This is another free tool that gives you the opportunity to gage a keyword’s popularity before you add it to your site.

Consider asking your customers how they’d search for you if they were using a smart speaker or virtual assistant. Even an informal poll like this can help you choose the right keywords.

As you compile your list of keywords, try to add some stats and data that will help you determine which keywords you should focus on. You can use that information when you start to revamp your site for voice search.

Incorporate New Keywords into Your Site

Earlier, I said that keyword stuffing is dead – and it is. Remember that.

When you start to add new keywords to your site, resist the urge to go overboard. All the search options we’ve mentioned are looking for relevance, not volume.

In other words, you shouldn’t be trying to pound people over the head with your keywords. It’s important to use them – but in a smart way that leaves your website readable and useful to potential customers.

Sometimes, the keywords that you find might sound awkward. You don’t want to force yourself to use phrases that sound unnatural on your site, nor do you want to tie yourself into linguistic notes trying to make them fit your existing copy.

If the keywords you find work as topics of Frequently Asked Questions, then using them there can be a quick and easy way to incorporate your new keywords into your site. And if a topic merits more in-depth coverage, consider writing a blog post about it or using it in a key spot on your home page or on a product page.

Keep Your Local SEO Updated

Because a big percentage of voice-activated searches have local intent (40% according to BrightLocal) it’s essential to make sure that your entire site is optimized for local search.

That means using local keywords, linking to local authority sites, and claiming your listings in online directories and on review sites like Yelp.

You’ll also want to make sure that your NAP listings are uniform and that your online presence is coherent and designed to help local customers find you.

It’s a Whole New World of Search…

… And you don’t want to be left behind. The likelihood is that the percentage of people who search for your business using smart speakers, virtual assistants, and voice searches will increase in the coming months and years. Some local businesses may be caught unawares – but you won’t be if you follow the advice in this article and start optimizing for voice now.