Standing out amongst your competitors in 2017, with all the changes in the search, social and online media spaces can seem like a daunting task. Here are 4 actionable methods to reach more customers now and drive more leads to your small business.
Right now, Google is lining up to make user engagement one of the most important ranking factors for small businesses in 2016 and most websites are flat out ignoring this incredibly important element of their internet marketing strategy. You have 15 seconds, maybe less, to convey what you’re offering to your visitors and convince them that your business is the most qualified to provide the solution they’ve asked Google for. Here are 4 user engagement issues you need to tend to, in order to drive your small business rank up in 2016 and get more leads & conversions.
Page Intent Above the Fold
Get the intent of the page front and center above the fold on the user’s viewport on your website or specific product/service page. Determine your top 3 to 5 highest yield offerings and present them as options to contact or purchase immediately at the top of your front page. Most visitors will only scroll through 20% of a page with any length to it and they are expecting to have their problem solved by then or they hitting the back button and returning to Google. This presents two problems, not only have you missed an opportunity and upped your bounce rate but Google takes click through rate and time on page into account when determining if a set of search results is quality or not and you might lose rank if these metrics are lower than your competitor’s. You have to make sure that, you’re ranking for keywords relevant to what you offer with a measurable amount of specificity and that, the intent of the page that ranks for those keywords is front & center and clear & easy to use.
Conversion Funnel Engagement
Another method of increasing user engagement is to pose a question relating a problem to what you’re offering and directing your visitors to a point of contact for the solution. You can also offer multiple options and a way to select what they are looking for to then proceed to a point of contact as well. Guiding your visitors into making the decision to convert should be baked into the primary focus of your website. Creating new ways to deliver opportunities to convert should be a high priority and frequently revisited part of your ongoing small business internet marketing plan.
Lead Magnet Tactics
Incentivize your visitors to click through and contact with discounts or freebies in exchange for responding to specific calls to action. For example: you could offer your ebook as a free download in exchange for an email address. You could provide access to a private event or seminar in exchange for contact details. Offer 20% off for booking or scheduling service before a certain amount of time expires. Offer a coupon, promo code or gift card after a purchase. Choose whatever method resonates with your audience the best and tailor it to your unique situation. If you’re going to offer incentives in exchange for information, make sure there is real value added,. No one wants to feel scammed because you over promised and under delivered.
Above the fold Contact Information and Webforms
Making sure you have all of your points of contact and most importantly your contact form visible and easy to access, above the fold on every page, across all devices is extremely important in both SEO and ux design. Make sure your webform is simple, easy to use and only asks for the most necessary information so that it can be filled out quickly. You really only ever need a name, email, and message, maybe a phone number. It should be up to your sales team to follow up on your leads and obtain any additional information.
Measuring your success
Track, measure and analyze how visitors are engaging with your website.
These are the metrics you should be tracking and analyzing before making any drastic changes:
- When visitors are engaging with your web page.
- Where are your visitors coming from.
- What types of visitors are engaging.
You should also keep track of when, where and how often the engagement stalls or stops and run experiments to determine why and how to prevent it in the future.
Content Creation / Blog Writing Strategies
Content Marketing Strategy is probably the number one buzzword/phrase in 2015, all the SEO gurus have been screaming about content marketing strategies for the last couple of years and rightly so, it’s probably the second most ignored SEO tactic for small business websites and likely one best ways to outrank your competitors when done right. These 5 points will help guide you through the process of implementing a content creation strategy
Visually Managing Your Content with Mind Mapping Software.
You can use mind mapping software to visualize your ideas and brainstorm a long term content marketing strategy. Once you have a visible home for all of your great ideas it’s easy to pick one to focus on and continually grow new ideas and see how they relate to one another.
Structuring Your Blog with a Simple Outline.
Use an outline to ease the pain of runaway content and writer’s block. The best method for outlining your blog is to come up with three or more sub topics for your main idea and three or more details for each sub topic. This will keep you on track when writing, make it easy to expand on each subject and make editing and reorganizing much easier when you’re done. You can use a simple hierarchical list in any word processor to achieve a visual effect that will help guide you through the whole process.
Maintaining Consistency with a Structured Blog Content Template.
Create a structured blog content template. Building a template around your blog writing and outline technique can be a quick remedy to procrastinating on starting the writing process and it’s really quite simple. Take a short blog that you love, edit it down and reorganize it to fit your typical blog outline structure and writing style, find yourself an easy to use dummy content generator like lipsum and replace all of the actual content with filler text change the titles and subtitles to Heading 1, Subtopic Title 1, etc. and save it. Now you’re ready to hit the ground running by just filling in a few blanks you’ll be well on your way to a high quality blog post.
Overcoming Writer’s Block with Text-to-Speech & Dictation Tools.
I’m sure you can talk about what you’re offering until you’re blue in face, so If you’re still having trouble turning your knowledge into blog posts, you can use a text to speech service like the ones that ship with smartphones and tablets or dragon dictation or just film yourself talking and put it on YouTube, this is where content repurposing comes in. If you speak clearly enough, YouTube will transcribe what your saying automatically for accessibility purposes, just copy it and paste it in word then edit it down or fluff it up till you have a cohesive blog post and you’ve just created 2 pieces of content on different mediums and the same end goal, both can be shared and promoted almost anywhere and will reach different types of audiences in ways that are unique to their interests.
Managing Your Time While Keeping Your Content Strategy Sustainable.
Create a weekly content marketing schedule and stick to it, religiously, Mind map and/or brainstorm ideas on Sunday afternoon. Commit to an outline on Tuesday. Research and pull data and numbers on Thursday. Write or talk it all out on Friday. etc. Whatever plan you come up with make it simple, stay focused on your goals and be consistent.
Here we’ve prepared 6 ways to maximize your small business content marketing strategy, you can and should leverage all of them for each blog post but feel free to create your own based on these ideas and mix and match them in a way that works best for your small business internet marketing efforts.
Compile your blog posts or series of posts into an ebook. Once you have a fair amount of content you can compound it into an ebook and open up a whole new medium that you can utilize to reach more customers: the ebook market. Ebooks can be distributed through a number of different outlets like amazon, audible, iBooks and on your website, you can use them to incentivize your visitors into providing their contact information and you can even use them to turn a profit themselves as they can be sold on all of these outlets.
Create SlideShare presentations out of your blog posts. If you’ve ever used powerpoint you’ll love SlideShare it’s much easier to use, it’s online and it’s social you can take any blog post and build a presentation around it in minutes you can share your presentations through LinkedIn and on out to almost any other social media platform. You can even send your presentations out as email blasts giving your small business an additional way to reach more customers.
YouTube Video Marketing
Grab a camera or use your phone and hit record. Creating youtube videos of yourself presenting SlideShare presentations couldn’t be simpler. If you’re camera shy, record the audio only with SoundCloud then, using your favorite video editing software, stitch it together with a screen capture of you clicking through the slides and post that on YouTube.
Transcribe your YouTube presentations back into microblog posts or create unique short summaries of them. Then you can syndicate these microblogs out to tumblr and share them via email, twitter and all your other social media marketing outlets.
You can do a little research and get real numbers that back up your content. You can use an infographic generator like Canva to get the numbers into a visual medium that can be shared and promoted through email. You can add them to the blog post itself. You can have them pushed out through Pinterest to all your other social networking platforms using social media automation with If This Then That (IFTTT).
Email Marketing Campaigns
Summarize your blogs and create small snippets to send out in email blasts, you can use a service like MailChimp to create beautifully designed email templates and plug-n-play content into them creating a themed and branded presence for your business in your customer’s email inboxes. MailChimp and similar services will let you manage your contact lists and track your email marketing campaigns with really useful data like how many recipients opened the email, which recipients opened the email and how many times they opened the email. Customers who opened the email more than once may be really interested in that piece of content and ready to convert which creates an opportunity for you to send a follow up email prompting them to act or have a sales rep give them a call.
Online Brand Development
Solidifying your small business brand online, should be, near the top of your priority list when looking to maximize your customer reach. Tailoring your website to be the highest quality representative of your business is an extremely important and sometimes overlooked, aspect of small business marketing. Syndicating that persona to the social media space and putting your business everywhere possible, in a consistent way, is equally important and can help build your brand identity and trust with your potential customers and Google.
Your website should be branded with your logo and company colors and should include all of your company’s vital information, name, address, phone number, email address, hours of operation, year founded, company bio, owner, management & staff bios, company qualifications, memberships, associations, licenses & registrations, community outreach, charity & sponsorship information, links out to all the company social media profiles, major directory listings & review site profile pages.
Social Media Branding
Your online brand needs to have one of every major social media account branded with all of your company’s vitals with a link back to your website and as many relevant photos as you’re allowed to upload.
If you have multiple store fronts, offices or service areas, you must have one of every social media account for each and every one of those individual places, all with your company’s vitals, links and photos specific to those locations.
Ordered by importance, these are the websites your small business social media marketing efforts should be focused on, per location or service area. Make sure the links go back to page on your website for that location rather than the front page or primary location page.
- Google My Business (GMB), use the storefront or service area type whichever is appropriate, use a real address and relevant local area phone number and take care to choose the right category, fill in all 25 photo slots and create a 250 word description that’s unique to your GMB account and not visible any where else on the web, be specific and outline everything you offer with links to the pages on your website for each thing you’re offering. Make sure the primary, verified website link is pointed to the page on your website for this specific location.
- Twitter, use the contact/address book import service to invite your contacts to follow you. Also, search for and follow accounts related to your industry and location. Send out at least one tweet, with a photo and link to a page on your website.
- Facebook, create a verified page, not a personal profile and a group, add as much information as possible and invite everyone you can to like the page and add as many people as possible to the group.
- LinkedIn, create a company profile using a bonafide domain email address. You only need one primary company profile and you can add your locations to it.
- YouTube, create this through the GMB dashboard for your account fill out the about, email and link fields on the channel editor page and check the settings for advertising and privacy options.
- Pinterest, create a business account and verify your website link. Add a board, preferably one for each of your product categories or service segments and at least one pin to each board.
- Instagram, it may seem silly because it’s very standalone and seemingly mobile only but it needs to be there.
- Tumblr, this is a social micro-blogging platform, do not blog here, just brand it, personalize it and link it to your website. We’ll talk about social media automation and how Tumblr fits in with another post.
- Foursquare, this is a hybrid directory listing service/social networking platform, the verification process for Foursquare is unnecessarily slow and tedious. Put a sticky note where your junk mail goes to die and write “Important! Look out for Foursquare verification letter!”
Now you can choose to deploy individual or automated marketing and/or advertising efforts on any or all of these platforms or just let them be, once they’re set up they’ll always be there, people can find your business through them, but make sure they are all branded, personalized, linked to & from your website and specific to each location.
Putting it all together
Making these online marketing tactics work for your small business is entirely up to you and could be simple and easy or consume all of your time. It just depends on how much effort you put into keeping it all organized from the outset, documenting everything you do and making sure you pay attention to the analytics of how it all helps your business grow. You won’t know where your leads are coming from if you don’t ask your customers how they found you and you can’t solidify your small business marketing strategy without tracking, measuring and analyzing what works and what doesn’t over long and short periods of time. Create goals personal to your specific business growth needs and deploy plans to achieve those goals. Stay consistent in your efforts, and keep records everything you do, when you did it and what the effects were.
Tell me how your small business plans to reach more customers in 2016?
I’d love to know what’s working for you and what new tactics you’re using to get more leads for your small business this year.