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How Networking Can Increase Your Sales and Help Your SEO

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Samantha Pena – Enjoy! 

pushing social network structure

photo credit: Thinkstock

You know the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know”? Although your skills and dedication play a large part in starting your business, your chances of success rise when you know the right people.

Networking is one of the most valuable business tactics in growing your business, because it gives you the opportunity to learn from others and to tell them about your business in return. Consequently, networking can expand the reach of your business, boost your website’s search rankings, and increase your customer referrals. Here’s how:

Collaboration with industry experts increases your brand exposure

Networking gives you the chance to not only discuss your business with professionals but to also offer them something of value, whether that is your help, your service, or your knowledge.

When you meet others whom you think might be a great resource for your business, offer to partner with them on a project that is mutually beneficial to both of you. Although the type of partnership you create will largely depend on your business and your goals, there are so many collaboration opportunities available in real life and in the digital world.

Offering to speak at one of their events or collaborate with them on a white paper gives you the opportunity to showcase your industry expertise while tapping into and connecting with their existing network. Cross-business collaboration is thus a great way to gain greater publicity for your business without coming across as overtly promotional.

Trustworthy referrals influence consumers’ purchasing decision

In an age when reviews are readily accessible on the Internet and the market is inundated by similar products and services, businesses rely on positive referrals to gain new customers. In fact, statistics show that 65 percent of new customers come from referrals, primarily because people gather other people’s opinion before determining whether they should purchase a product.

Therefore, in order to boost your brand trust and increase your referrals, you must establish excellent business partnerships. For example, ask a business connection if they’d be interested in setting up a barter program with you, in which you’ll do work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa. Although you’ll be doing some work for free, the high-quality leads that you’ll receive from the partnership will override any monetary loss you may have.

In addition, maintain positive relationships with your loyal customers by offering them referral incentives. Offer a reward or a discount if they refer your business to a friend. A compelling reward and a clear and easy call-to-action will encourage customers to recommend your business to their contacts, increasing your network, brand reach, and leads.

Digital networking encourages brand trust

Building a network between your business, your customers, and experts in your field not only builds up your brand’s credibility but also boosts your SEO efforts. The best way to do this is to create connections with important bloggers and to network with your customers on social media.

In the last year, consumer confidence in social media as a trustworthy source of information increased +75 percent. Therefore, instead of advertising, which don’t work anyway, network on social media. When you connect with consumers on a personal level, you not only gather valuable insight on your their needs and wants but you also earn their trust. In addition, many experts say that there is a correlation between social media and SEO in link opportunity and search volume increase, which is an additional perk of using social media.

You also don’t have to network with just business owners. Sometimes, establishing a connection with thought leaders and influencers in your industry who are willing to write about your product or service and link back to your site is useful in increasing your brand exposure and building up your backlink profile. Especially since SEO and PR are becoming more integrated, it is important to get featured on authoritative sites in order to boost your site ranking.

Networking is a powerful strategy earning you high-quality leads, more customers, and brand trust. Therefore, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.

20140319144747_samSamantha Pena is a Content Strategist for Hudson Horizons, a digital agency that offers Web design, development, and marketing for small to mid-sized businesses. In addition to her weekly posts on Hudson, she also writes for various notable digital marketing sites on social media marketing and SEO. You can read her latest posts on Google+.

 

Are You Building Your Business With a Crock-pot or a Microwave?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Kraus – Enjoy!
Are you building your business with a Crockpot or Microwave?

Photo Credit: lisaclarke via photopin cc

My Hubspot channel colleague Rachel Cogar at Puma Creative has a phase that I just absolutely love – she describes Inbound Marketing as a crock-pot strategy, not a microwave strategy.  Meaning, quite vividly I would add, that you will get a very tasty meal of inbound traffic and leads if you are willing have patience and put the time in for inbound marketing.

I’d go further than Rachel does with this however, and say that pretty much all marketing in a complex buying process is a crock-pot strategy.  We work with a lot of technology re-sellers/dealers/vars and they sell complex and expensive software, which performs critical functions for mid sized and smaller large businesses.

This is a not a quick turnover process.  A new customer purchase, with software and services, easily runs into the six-figures.  And the process to buy is long, complex and fraught with difficult questions to ask, answer and consider.

We’ve been seeing estimates that customers in complex purchases believe that they have completed anywhere from 60% to 80% of their buying process before they ever talk to a vendor on the phone.  SIXTY TO EIGHTY percent finished before you ever get to talk with them.

If you’ve been in business for about 10 years or more, think back – what was your sales cycle before the search engine ruled the world?  And what is it today? I am willing to guess that if you said your sales cycle used to be 6 months, and you really look at the time from engagement to close today, it probably is 6 to 8 weeks now.  So no, it hasn’t gotten shorter – its gotten hidden.  That engagement you used to have early on, as you educated a prospect, is now engagement the prospect takes upon themselves in a self-directed manner.

The impact of this is pretty profound in 3 key areas:

  1. We have a much more difficult time forecasting our sales future because we get engaged with prospects much later.  If we sell a product that used to have a 6-month sales cycle, we could reasonably do a weighted forecast, six months out.  If you are only seeing prospects now 6 to 8 weeks before they buy, it’s a lot hard to forecast six months.
  2. You don’t get a lot of opportunity to impact your prospects thought process.  The education that your prospect goes through is self-directed.  You don’t get to control the conversation. In fact, you will probably not even be able to impact the conversation unless you are putting out high quality educational materials on a regular basis such that Google sees you as a good source of education.
  3. You have a shorter window of time, space and energy to show why you are different than you have ever had before.  If the sales cycle that you are engaged with is shorter, and the prospect is self-educated, you have to have an extremely clear point of differentiation that is in-your-face obvious (and can be seen on a mobile phone).  If your prospects have to dig around to see why you are different, you lose.  The back button the browser or opening a new tab on my mobile is just too easy.

So back to our crock-pot and microwave.

To help educate these prospects and have them engage with you at the end of their buying process, they need to find you at the beginning.  This is the crock-pot.  You need to know the ingredients and keep adding them to the stew.  And give it time to cook.

Non-metaphorically – you need to know what the knowledge or understanding that your prospect is looking for and make it available when they want it (and in the format they want it).

The challenge with microwave strategies in a complex buying cycle is that sometimes they work.  Your telemarketer looking for leads might stumble upon someone who is ready to buy now.  That lead you purchased from a lead-aggregator may be a perfect fit customer for your organization and purchase next week.  But these results are unpredictable and make it difficult to consistently grow your business.

So by all means, use the microwave, but just like in your kitchen, there are some things that just don’t cook well in three to five minutes of radiation.  To make sure that you will always be well-fed, be sure you also get the crock-pot going, and always keep adding new and tasty ingredients for your prospects to feast on.

Dan KrausDan Kraus is the founder and president of the Leading Results marketing agency and a Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant.  Dan has been a sales and marketing professional for over 25 years, previously working for companies such as Great Plains Software and SAP. Based in Charlotte, NC, Leading Results has worked with Duct Tape Marketing for five years and is a Gold Certified Hubspot partner.  Leading Results helps clients in 14 different time zones to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t get results.

A Visual Guide to Local SEO for Small Business Websites

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Sturges – Enjoy!

How to Build a Perfectly Optimized Local Website by Following the Google Guidelines!

Building a winning local website is no simple task. We need content about our business, a blog, location pages, photos and galleries, contact pages and more! All this can quickly overwhelm budgets and plans.

HannibalSSo in order to help, we’ve built an infographic which attempts to help small business owners, consultants, web designers and local marketers get a better plan.

Anyone a fan of the A-Team? Remember Hannibal Smith, big cigar in his mouth, saying “I love it when a plan comes together”? I loved that.

And the goal here is to help your plan “come together”.

In the process of creating this post, we first attempted to write it in s standard blog text format… we tried hard, but it was B-O-R-I-N-G. Really, boring. Then we got the idea to make it into an infograhic.

We think it worked, it’s a big one, but hopefully you’ll agree it’s the best approach. We hope you’ll save it and use it to guide the development of your website and get the clarity you need as you go.

We’ve combined our experience with extensive research across the local space online. At the bottom of the infographic we site the sources we used in developing the blueprint.

At the bottom of this post we provide a PDF link and embed links at a couple sizes as well.

Here you go:

Local-SEO-Template-Blueprint-Infographic3

This graphic and the systems we use ourselves in-house to build sites following these guidelines are always evolving. If you have questions or further ideas from the trenches we’d love to hear from you.

Share this Image On Your Site

Wrapping up:
The key take aways here are to please read the Google SEO Guidelines, you will be a step ahead if you do. Use the Google guidelines together with this infographic and you will be far ahead of 99% of the folks out there.

Get the PDF version:
Visual-Guide-To-On-Page-Local-SEO.pdf

Justin is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Systemadik Marketing where he and his team work with local businesses to build better online marketing systems.  Justin has been working online since 1994, he is currently working on launching the Systemadik LMS (Local Marketing System) which is a custom WordPress SEO and content solution for local businesses.  He is a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and employs the DTM system to provide strategic support and leading marketing tools to his clients. Justin is a father and husband and enjoys exploring the cenotes and coral reefs of the Yucatan Peninsula with his family.

How to Get More Customers for Free This Week Through Google

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Erik Larson – Enjoy! 

You’re getting frustrated.

You see neighboring businesses, competitors, and everyone else get customers through their door, and you’re getting nothing.

So you ask around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

You keep hearing your friends tell you “My customers keep telling me they ‘saw me on Google’ or they ‘found me through their smartphone’”.

You have a website! That one guy you paid way too much money to put up your website said you would be found on Google! What gives?

So you type your name into Google, and sure enough, there’s your website, right where it was. And you remember that supposedly, you were going to be on the first page of Google for [whatever your industry is, let’s say plumbing]. So you type in plumbing, and you’re nowhere to be found. But you do see this:

PlumbingMaine1Large

‘Wait, how come I’m not on that map?’ You ask. ‘This must be why the other plumbers are crushing me!’

Welcome to Google My Business, a free service provided by Google.

I know it can be frustrating to see your competitors looking really good on Google, and you’re nowhere to be found, I understand that. I also understand the idea of getting your business up on Google can be intimidating, the idea of going through a huge elaborate process, jumping through hoops, and not understanding any of it is scary.

But guess what, it’s surprisingly easy.

Using the built-in Google My Business tutorial, you will usually be able to get setup and going in an hour or less. Anyone that has a basic understanding of how to use the Internet can do this, so by the sole reason that you are reading this blog post, I believe in you.

Let’s get started so we can  get you some more customers, shall we?

First off, there are some important things you need ready and at your fingertips:

  • A Google or Gmail account
  • A nice picture of the front of your building
  • Your address
  • Your logo

Once you have these things ready, go to http://www.google.com/business/, and click on the “Get on Google” button. Follow all the directions exactly, make sure to fill out as much as possible. Once you’ve got your account setup and verified, it could take a couple days to get your business in the results.

Getting the HUGE boost in traffic we talked about

Alright, so now that your account is setup and verified, here’s the tricky part, making your business stand out on the search page.

I typed “Plumbing in Portland, Maine” and I got these results.

PlumbingMaine2Large

Which result do you think gets the most clicks?

As you might have guessed by the lack of reviews on the front page, getting a Google Review can be kind of tough. I’ve seen a lot of companies with Google profiles that have been up for a long time, and still don’t have any reviews.

So, how do we go about getting these elusive reviews?

Here are three really easy steps to getting a Google review:

  1. Type your company name and city into Google. [For example: “Joe’s Plumbing, Baltimore”
  2. Find the “Write a review” link, right click it and copy the link.
  3. Send that link to 30 of your best and favorite customers, and ask them to write a review.

In the email, make sure you thank them for being an amazing customer, and make sure to thank them again after they wrote the review. If you are a customer of theirs as well, you can offer to do the same thing for them.

Once those reviews start rolling in, you’ll likely notice a bump in traffic to your site, your Google+ page, and your business.

Getting even MORE customers

Wait, you want even more customers?

Well, if you have the money, there’s a way to boost the amount of people coming to your website dramatically. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, Google Adwords Express let’s you show up in Google Maps results, and you’ll show up in the yellow bar in Google search. It’s pretty easy to setup, and it’ll run automatically.

If you want to go more in-depth, you could run a campaign in Google AdWords, there are tons of great tutorials out there to help you out.

Now, the next step is to get your business set up in Bing Places, to take advantage of all of the Siri and Windows Phone users out there.

How many of you have used Google My Business? How has it helped your company?

150portraitErik Larson is the founder of RunTheMarket, a small business marketing blog. He is also the SEO specialist for Lendio, a free online tool to find business loans, and writes on small business topics on the Lendio Blog. He can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

 

The Future of Mobile Search Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Emig – Enjoy!

emarketer-mobile-growthJust a few short years ago, smartphones were reserved for those bleeding edge consumers willing to spend half of their paycheck on a device double the size of their existing ‘feature’ phone that allowed you to replicate an experience historically reserved for desktops or laptops. The adoption quickly exploded and in 2012, global smartphone adoption reached 1 billion users. Emarketer predicts that in 2014, that number will balloon to 4.55 billion. 1 in 4 worldwide mobile phone users will have a smartphone this year, and each of them are using this device to find products and services, many of them locally.

Search on Mobile Devices

Armed with connectivity, consumers quickly realized that they could find the information they needed with just a few clicks and keystrokes. Since Google is obviously in the search business, they tried to make mobile search easier through their cross device native apps and streamlined browser experiences.

In just a few short years, mobile search is quickly on its way to becoming the primary search vehicle; dethroning the once almost untouchable desktop search experience. Even Google’s famed SPAM fighter, Matt Cutts, commented he wouldn’t be surprised if mobile search surpassed desktop this year! With such volatile adoption, marketers and small business owners need to be aware of what this paradigm shift will mean for their business.

The Future of Mobile Search

One of the biggest challenges with mobile search is the fact many consumers start a search on mobile and finish on another device. Tracking consumers throughout the shopping experience will provide a stronger idea of what drove the purchase and how to market to them more effectively. The other big challenge is the scarcity of consumer attention. With mobile search consumers extremely unlikely to venture past the first search results page, showcasing the correct information, as fast as possible, is paramount for winning the mobile search click.

Smartphone manufacturers, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are scrambling to find out ways to predict what you will search for, before you search for it. This data will help streamline the process, speed up your mobile search experience and ultimately win the lion share of your attention. Amazon has already figured out a way to predict what you are going to purchase before you purchase it, so it is just a matter of time before this weaves its way into search.

Many people continue to scratch their head about Amazon releasing the Fire smartphone, with such dominant forces like Samsung and Apple occupying a stranglehold over the industry. While it appears to be ‘just another phone,’ Amazon introduces some features that could potentially change the mobile search experience forever.

Firefly Technology

Firefly TechnologyWith Firefly, your phone is able to view printed text, recognize things around you, and most of all, listen to what is happening around you. Imagine having a conversation about making French Toast and being unable to remember what spice to use, and in a matter of seconds, a French Toast recipe appears on your phone, without any direct user interaction.

The Future of Mobile Search Marketing

There is no doubt that mobile search will surpass desktop search this year and be the primary vertical marketers and small business owners must focus their time. The major question is what will mobile search look like.

Google Now has the fundamentals necessary to be that predictive search engine. They have our cross device personalized history, manually curated search cards, and real time information. Add in a component of ‘selective’ listening to what is happening around us, and predictive search could be born. Apple is already ramping up their Siri efforts to compete with Google Now and so is Microsoft, with Cortana.

As if online marketing wasn’t hard enough for business owners and marketers to reach their target audience, the instantaneous needs of mobile search add yet another avenue they need to focus their efforts. However, moving quickly and optimizing your site for the mobile consumer could mean the difference between winning the mobile search battle and being relinquished to the catacombs of page 2.

Justin-Bio-shot-150x150Justin Emig is the Search Marketing Manager for Web Talent Marketing, the #1 Digital Marketing Agency in the United States, according to TopSEOs.com. Here, Justin uses SEO, Paid Search, Content Marketing, and Social Media to increase conversions and leads. Justin has spent his career building brands of all sizes and effectively mixes the traditional advertising world with online marketing to effectively tell a brand’s story. You can connect with Justin on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, or see more of his content on the Web Talent Blog.

In Sales & Marketing, Zero Dark Thirty is 30 Minutes Too Late

… or why the biggest sales problem businesses think they have isn’t the one they actually have!

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network - Kurian M. Tharakan– Enjoy!
Zero Dark Thirty

Photo Credit: Zero Dark Thirty – IMDb

In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the US Navy Seal team raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s house was conducted at 00:30, or thirty minutes past midnight. If that raid were a sales and marketing operation, zero dark thirty* would be thirty minutes too late!

Before I explain what I mean, let me provide some background. In the past few months I have consulted with numerous companies who believe they have a sales problem. However, in almost every situation the primary issue was identified as a marketing problem and not a sales problem. How did I determine this? By examining close ratios, or how many leads were converted into a sale. Although average close ratios vary by industry and market, if you are in a competitive environment and closing more than 15 – 25% of your QUALIFIED leads you are on the right track!

All of these clients were closing their fair share of the leads they were generating. They just weren’t generating enough QUALIFIED leads to pursue.

Lead Generation is a Marketing Function

In each situation above the sales team were expert closers but spent most of their non-sales time waiting for the phone to ring or following up on previous leads. Now some might say that these guys should be using their “spare” time prospecting for new leads, but, by definition, prospecting (lead generation) is a marketing function. Besides, these sales teams’ skills and expertise are best used to close sales, but their company’s marketing efforts were not producing enough qualified leads for them to pursue.

Now, Here’s the Big Problem

It’s estimated that up to 70% of the buying decision is made PRIOR to anyone even talking to a sales person. Today’s customer has numerous resources available to them, usually just a few mouse clicks away. By the time that they arrive at your sales desk the majority already have a preferred direction to go and are now seeking confirming or dis-confirming evidence to support their decision. If you have not positively biased their decision PRIOR to this contact point, YOU ARE AT A SEVERE DISADVANTAGE!

This is Time Point Zero Dark Zero

A properly functioning company will have a marketing process which creates qualified leads to HAND OFF to sales. Let’s name this crucial timeline juncture as zero dark zero. This is the point of truth where marketing delivers a “primed” prospect for sales to close. Primed is the key word. These are the prospects that have a preference to choose you from all of your competitors! If a company only STARTS their selling process AFTER zero dark zero WITHOUT HAVING PRIMED THEIR PROSPECT to choose them, they are at a severe disadvantage!

You Don’t Have a Sales Problem, You Have a Lead Generation Problem!

So, these clients don’t have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem. All of their future revenue depends on their sales abilities with UNQUALIFIED, UNPRIMED prospects. But sales abilities can only go so far with prospects whose minds have already been 70% made up to travel in other directions!

If we were to put this into the context of Zero Dark Thirty the movie, the vast majority of the plot dealt with the CIA unearthing, tracking down, and qualifying leads on Bin Laden’s exact location. The seal team’s actual on the ground time was less than 38 minutes from entry to exit, but it took over 10 years of research to pinpoint the location to attack.

The First Step to Improving Sales is to Improve Lead Generation!

So, if the primary sales problem is actually a lead generation problem (marketing), what are some things you can try? Here’s a VERY BASIC list. Although not all of them will apply to your specific business, you should be using at least six on a consistent basis, with full measurement and tracking of the results. How many are you doing?

Website

  • Pay per click (e.g. Google Adwords)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

Social Media

  • E-Mail marketing
  • Facebook
  • Industry specific social sites
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Etc.

 

Content Marketing

  • Blogging
  • eBooks
  • How to guides
  • Newsletters
  • Special reports
  • Video
Advertising

  • Billboards
  • Catalogs
  • Classified ads
  • Direct mail
  • Fax advertising
  • Flyers
  • Magazine
  • Radio
  • TV

 

Other

  • Joint Ventures
  • Press Releases
  • Pro bono work
  • Publicity
  • Seminars
  • Speaking
  • Sponsorships
  • Trade shows
  • Webinars
  • Workshops

*technically, in military terms zero dark thirty does not reference a specific time of day, but is slang for the very early morning.
StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors

 

 

Kurian M. TharakanAbout the Author – Kurian M. Tharakan
Kurian Mathew Tharakan is a Sales & Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Facilitator, and founder of the marketing strategy firm StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors. Prior to StrategyPeak, Mr. Tharakan was vice-president sales & marketing for an Alberta based software firm where his team achieved notable wins with several members of the US Fortune 500. Previous to his software experience, Mr. Tharakan directed the sales and marketing programs for the Alberta practice of an international professional services firm.

30 Tips for Great Digital Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Tara Banda – Enjoy!

Tips-great-digital-marketing-ducttapemarketingA man walks into a bar/restaurant/hotel/car repair shop. Chances are, he found it online. That’s because today’s consumers, 80% according to Google, rely more on the Web to find and choose local businesses.

So how do you make sure that these consumers find and choose your local business? By using a mix of these four strategies for great digital marketing: search advertising, webSite, search engine optimization, and social media. Here are 30 tips to get you going.

 

Search Advertising Tips

1. Identify and follow the rules of Bing, Yahoo!, and Google search ads before running your campaign as all have slightly different formats.

2. Optimize the URL displayed in your search ad so that it’s relevant to the product or service you are promoting.

3. Include target keywords in your headlines and copy that either match or closely match the keywords you bid on in order to boost the chance that your ad appears for those terms.

4. Write strong calls to action for your search ads that directly state what you want consumers to do. For example “Contact for a Free Estimate” or “Get a 50% Coupon.”

5. When using a click-to-call extension, consider using a tracking number so that you can identify and measure which ads perform the best.

6. Don’t spend precious text ad character count on your business name. It should already be in your optimized URL.

7. Do capitalize the first letter of major words in your ad. Don’t (read “NEVER”) go crazy with all caps.

8. Should you use correct punctuation in text ads? Yes! It just makes good sense.

9. Using trademarks in text ad copy is a no-no unless, of course, you own them. You can, however, bid on terms relevant to your business.

10. DUUA (don’t use unknown abbreviations). While it could pique the interest of a few searchers, why take that chance?

Website Tips

11. If you haven’t updated your website since 2010, do it now. A clean, modern design is key in digital marketing, plus it ensures that you meet today’s best practices and Web standards.

12. Make your website mobile-friendly! The 2014 Local Search Study results indicate that nearly 80% of local mobile searches end in a purchase. This is a big audience you shouldn’t ignore.

13. Accurately complete your site’s metadata (title tags, descriptions, alt text, etc.). Not doing so can negatively impact your visibility on SERPs.

14. A business blog is a winning addition to your website. It can help boost your site’s SEO, set you apart from the competition, and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. It’s a win-win situation.

15. In order to get found by local consumers, you need to optimize your site with local information like your address and geo-targeted keywords.

Search Engine Optimization

16. Having a business blog is useless if you don’t regularly create and promote original and sharable content to help prove relevance and therefore rank in search engines.

17. Enable share buttons on your blog so that readers can easily post your content to their social media pages and drive visitors back to your website.

18. Optimize your Google+ Local page to help your business name, phone number, location, and even opening hours show up in Google Maps and Google’s local search results.

19. Much like Google+ Local, Yelp is platform to complete and post information about your business. More importantly, it helps feed Apple Maps with local business results.

20. Include geo-specific keywords, such as your city, neighborhood, and zip codes, in your website, blog, and even social media copy to appear in search results for these terms.

19. Don’t only promote blog posts once. Repurpose them as engaging images, quotes, or questions in order to generate additional views, shares, and subject relativity.

21. Getting backlinks from influencers and other industry-related websites that have already established credibility are great for building your own authority and driving more visits back to your site.

23. Enable Google Authorship to help build your personal brand. By establishing yourself as a subject matter expert, you can share your own content, generate more shares, and drive more website visits.

22. Since positive reviews rank in search engine results, generate positive reviews with high rankings to help persuade consumers to choose your business.

26. Once you receive positive reviews, promote them on your website and social media sites so that consumers who search for you business on social sites or local directories see the great things others say about your business.

25. Images can help sell your business, and they also rank in search engines. Don’t name your images “photo.jpg,” and instead name them more descriptively, add alt text, or captions on your website to help images show up in search results.

Social Media

27. Think, review, and review again before you make a social media post or comment. The ability to easily take screenshots makes it difficult to take back a social media mistake.

28. Since your employees also represent your brand, both in person and online, implement a social media policy that at the least permits them from sharing internal information.

29. Before you jump on a trending hashtag, make sure you know the origin of it. Not doing so can potentially cause social media regrets.

30. Like it or not, you “share” your brand on social media. And since consumers can start good and bad conversations about you, make sure to set up alerts that notify you of new mentions, comments, or messages.

Tara Banda Duct Tape MarketingTara Banda is a brand-builder, copywriter, and social media marketer in Dallas, TX. She has worked with businesses of all sizes — from Fortune 500 companies to local non-profits to startups — to define their voice, promote their brand online through digital marketing, and build lasting relationships with fans and advocates.  Tara is a currently a Content Marketing Manager at ReachLocal. In her spare time, she is obsessed with learning recipes for international cuisines. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

Bridging the Small Business Marketing Gap

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Faggella – Enjoy! 

customer-relationship-management

photo credit: abdevlabs.com

Email marketing and marketing automation software often fails to achieve business goals of enhancing revenue and profitability, creating a “marketing gap” for businesses.

This is a particular challenge for startups and small businesses that have fewer internal resources and more immediate business demands.

The problem can be traced to concerns over lack of time, limited internal marketing resources, the complexity of managing the ongoing program, the absence of training and guidance from vendors, and frustration with disappointing results, but these organizations can bridge this gap by understanding some of the basic steps that will help them achieve more effective use of marketing automation and email marketing investments, and a better focus on the areas of focus for these technologies.

There are four distinct areas of focus for email marketing and marketing automation: Collecting, Connecting, Converting and Circulating

Collecting

Here businesses need to look at the ways they are presently acquiring leads, contacts and, in some cases, front-end sales. Some collecting strategies include landing page optimization/split-testing, opt-in form variations and drop-down segmentation, outbound lead generation campaign design.

Best Practice: Maintain a vigilant split-testing regimen on all major landing pages that involve email capture functionality. Any web page responsible for substantial lead-flow should be split-tested.

Connecting

Here organizations need to build the best possible initial relationship with their prospects through automated follow-up sequences and communication calibrated by prospect type and behavior. Some connecting strategies include customer avatars and customer profiles (purchase motives, etc.), analytics for email open and click-through rates, split-testing of email sequences and subject lines.

Best Practice: Segment email subscribers and leads (from white papers, etc…) early, not late. If you can segment prospects effectively, you can communicate to them in a more relevant way (by business size, by goals, by industry, etc…), your emails can drive much better results in terms of engagement, appointments / sales.

Converting

Business should be working to leverage email and automation strategies to assist customers in making their first significant step forward with the organization’s business. Some converting strategies include appointment form split-testing, landing or sales page split-testing, offer and campaign construction.

Best Practices: It’s important to be able to quantify what a “conversion” is in your business. If you sell online, you may want email marketing to directly drive sales (very measurable). If you sell in person, email should usually be responsible for settling up appointments (also quite measurable).

Circulating

Organizations should be looking to continue relationship-building with customers and/or prospects. Some circulating strategies include determination of broadcast regiments, long-term customer lifetime value mapping and optimization (“deep” campaigns as an alternative to neglecting past prospects and customers), “newsletter” segmentation, and testing methods engineered to refine communication for long-term engagement.

Best Practices: The “vanilla” newsletter is the same, bland message that goes out monthly to all your contacts. It is a thing of the best. If you do keep a newsletter, segment it into categories of relevance, such as “customer,” “past customer,” and “prospect,” and speak to those groups individually.

While these strategies may seem foreign to some, there are real-world many examples of smaller organizations that mastered marketing automation and email marketing and as a result, uncovered areas of improvement that deliver significant yields by more efficiently and productively managing projects of high priority to their business.

It all begins with understanding the steps necessary to bridge the “marketing gap” and if help is needed to navigate this journey, there are those who could guide – all businesses need to do is stop and ask for directions.

Dan Headshot100x100Dan Faggella is the founder and CEO of CLVboost, a marketing consultancy based in Cambridge, MA, that works with businesses to help them realize their growth potential by maximizing new and existing marketing technologies. Dan is a sought-after speaker on this topic at Internet marketing events, startup conferences and business workshops across the US, and he has been featured on media channels like MIXERGY and GrowthHacker.TV.  Dan is also founder of TechEmergence, an online community and strategic resource supporting the work of startups, researchers, investors and others focused on technology that has the potential to alter human potential.