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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.

 

SEO Blended Copy: Dos and Don’ts for Boosting Your Website’s Organic Discoverability

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

Duct-tapeThese days, it’s all about organic: organic produce, organic pressed-juice, holistic baby diapers made from all-organic materials – the list goes on. So, it should come as no shock the role that organic SEO plays in your website’s discoverability, even over paid alternatives like pay-per-click. In fact, 70-80% of Internet users ignore paid ads, focusing instead on organic search results.

Intimidating to some, boosting your website’s organic discoverability is easier than you might think. Just remember, if content is king then keywords are the crowned jewels.  The following are a few crucial ‘dos and don’ts’ all businesses need to consider when looking to optimize their organic SEO.

Don’t: Assume the phrase “keyword” translates to “one word.”

Do: Assign natural phrases as your keywords

By strategically assigning keywords to the pages of your website, you are essentially anticipating all of the different search variations that could and should lead users to your website. Don’t make the mistake of taking the term “keywords” literally though. Incorporate a series of natural phrases into your keyword strategy. Ask yourself – How would you search for your site?

Don’t: Randomly sprinkle keywords throughout your website copy.

Do: Utilize targeted keywords.

Unless you’re looking to get on Google’s bad-list, don’t just assign keywords without incorporating them into the various elements of your website. This doesn’t mean sporadically using a keyword here and there. In fact, there are several crucial areas that Google looks at specifically for keyword integration: Page title, page headline, body copy, meta description and links, both internal and external.

Don’t: Overload keywords in your website copy.

Do: Create engaging content and naturally integrate keywords.

There’s an art to determining the appropriate keyword density % of your keyword-blended copy. While there is really no magic number for keyword density, there is one guiding light: Good content will always beat SEO. With that said, it stands to reason that if you drown your copy in keywords at the sake of flow and cohesiveness, your ranking will probably take a tumble. Instead, focus on writing engaging content while seizing opportunities to naturally introduce keywords into your copy.

Keywords alone does not a successful SEO strategy make, however. While it is a large driver of your organic search results, there are other key areas that can further help boost your websites discoverability.

Be Mobile

Mobile-browsing usage is set to bypass desktop browsing within the year so your organization’s website design is more important than ever. Because your SEO relies heavily on your website’s engagement, it’s important to choose a responsive or mobile friendly design that will cater to your mobile audience’s experience.

Get Down with Google

It’s no shock that Google looks favorably upon those who actively use their ancillary services. An easy way to start doing this is to actively use and maintain a Google+ page. Also, if your business has a blog, you’ll want to set up Google Authorship so that your writers’ work can start to help boost your site’s credibility and ultimately, search ranking.

Stay Social

Never underestimate the power of social in you SEO strategy. Your organization’s social pages are a huge source of potential traffic for your website. Create and share engaging, original content as part of your social strategy, and always remember to link back to your website.

mariaorozovamod (2)Maria Orozova is the President and Creative Director of The MOD Studio, a boutique marketing & design agency based in Austin and the powerhouse behind many local and national brands. Together, Maria and the MOD Marketing and Development team build a strategic and dynamic mix of consumer and B2B clients. For more information on building a successful SEO strategy, visit: www.themodstudio.com

 

How to Incorporate Brand Advocates into Your Marketing Strategy

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

When asked about how and why they make purchases, most people say that reviews and recommendations play a major role. That holds true even in the B2B marketplace—according to one study, 60 percent of B2B tech buyers look at peer reviews before making buying decisions.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, when it comes to your own purchasing decisions, are you more likely to trust an ad or a person who’s actually used the product?

The question is, how can you boost positive reviews of your business and how should that play into your overall marketing strategy?

Brand Advocates: Generating Buzz

Brand advocates are more than just loyal customers—they’re ambassadors. They’re people who believe in your business and who are willing to answer questions, write blog posts, and help you create favorable word-of-mouth buzz. They can help you by reviewing your products and helping convince leads who may be on the fence about your services to take the plunge.

Who are your advocates? Where can you find them?

Begin by identifying customers who have had a good experience with your brand.

  • Get in touch with people who are interacting with you on social media or on review sites like Yelp.
  • Find customers who’ve given you positive reviews on comment cards or surveys.
  • Ask your salespeople—which customers to they turn to for references? Which customers are most satisfied with their experience?

Try to identify potential advocates on a regular basis—every three to six months or so—to keep your pool fresh.

This should go without saying, but in case it’s not obvious: in order to keep your loyal customer base large and happy, you need to provide consistently great service. It’s not enough to be just “adequate”— most companies do that—you need to “wow” your customers with attention to detail and personalized service. Try to accommodate special requests when you can, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Setting Up a Brand Advocacy Program

Identifying advocates is only half the battle. You need to decide what to do with them once you’ve found them. Here are some ideas about how you can leverage their power to help maintain a positive image for your brand:

  • Ask them to follow you on social media and comment on and share what you post.
  • Ask them to write positive reviews and testimonials on your site, review sites like Citysearch, or their blog and social media profiles.
  • Ask them if you can film them talking about their experience with your brand.
  • Ask them to contribute to communities or forums.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Ask them to write blog posts or create images for you.
  • Ask them if you can use their experience as a case study.
  • Ask them to speak directly (over the phone or via email or chat) to potential customers.
  • Ask them to come up with FAQ questions and answers or identify improvements for your website.

These are just some of the ways that brand advocates can be put to good use. You should get creative and decide on which strategies will work for your business.

You should probably start small. Ask potential advocates to do something easy at first, like follow you on Instagram or give you a five star rating on Google+, before moving on to bigger projects like testimonials and blog posts. You may also want to consider setting up some sort of rewards or kickback program where advocates get a percentage off, a nominal payment, or free products (à la Amazon Vine) for completing tasks.

You should also invest some time in mentoring and quality control. You should let your advocates be authentic voices for your brand, but you may also want to set some guidelines if, for instance, you plan on connecting brand advocates with potential customers directly.

How about you? How are you leveraging the power of brand advocates in your business?

Holly Cordnerhollycordner is a marketing manager living in Salt Lake City. She writes for Needle, which helps businesses of all sizes identify brand advocates and connect them with customers. Her first love is technology with tofu coming in a close second.

 

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand?

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

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand

photo credit: BigStock

While there are hundreds of definitions of the word “brand,” my favorites come from the World English Dictionary. As a noun: “a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product.” And as a verb: “to give a product a distinctive identity.”

Most of us keep our brands in mind as we develop product packaging or choose color schemes for websites. However, all too often, we arbitrarily pick words when writing marketing copy and content without so much as a thought about branding. Generic word choices fail to evoke an emotional connection and attachment to our brands that, in turn, can actually harm recognition and growth.

Good Examples of Brand-Oriented Words

Let’s watch a couple of videos and I’ll show you what I mean. Have a pen or keyboard handy and jot down the words that catch your attention or make an impression on you.

Video #1 – Gillette Body Razor

Did your list contain these words/phrases?

  • Terrain
  • Rugged
  • Control
  • Off-road razor
  • Take you where you want to go
  • Confidently

What do they all have in common? They are words commonly classified as masculine/manly. They give a visual impression of a man’s body that this target audience will want to be associated with. Sure, Gillette could have written video copy that said something like, “Trying to shave your body is way different than shaving your face, dude. You’ve got all those curves and you can cut yourself if you aren’t careful. Our new body razor pivots and makes it easier to shave across uneven surfaces.”

That would be accurate, but it wouldn’t live up to the brand. That type of copy also wouldn’t get anywhere near the same reaction as calling a guy’s body “rugged terrain” that requires an “off-road razor” for shaving. The copy is specific to the brand as well as the precise target segment for this product.

Video #2 – USAA Insurance

Right away, from the first words spoken, I picked up on the phrases:

  • Mine was earned
  • Handed down
  • Generation to generation
  • Superior level of protection

 

To wrap it up, the voiceover copy used “begin your legacy…”

What do those phrases say to you? For me, I get the message that USAA insurance isn’t just bought, it has to be warranted. Because USAA only provides insurance to military families and their dependents, you have to be part of a somewhat exclusive club. That immediately adds value to any brand because it separates the company from the mass marketplace.

In addition, the terms “handed down,” “generation to generation” and “legacy” show that this product has value and is worthy of being considered an inheritance of sorts. That boosts the perception of this brand instantly.

Is this practice just for video copywriting? Absolutely not! It’s for writing website copy, social media posts, blog articles or any other type of content you produce. Your brand, and the words that represent it, should stretch fully across the entire landscape of your marketing efforts.

Do This Before You Kill Your Brand

Performing this quick exercise will help you discover the best words to support and promote your brand. Once you have a good idea of the communication style you want to use, you can boost all your marketing copy and content with more power to persuade, engage and remember.

1. Determine How You Want Your Brand to Be Known

Create a list of words/phrases that should come to the minds of your target audience when they hear the mention of your brand.

2. Get a Copywriting Thesaurus

Books like “Words that Sell” by Richard Bayan are excellent for giving you different, enticing words to use, so your copy doesn’t sound ordinary.

3. Ask Yourself Questions

How do your target customers perceive themselves? Are they stereotypical manly men? Are they power women who kick corporate butt? Whatever it is, add to your list words/phrases that relate to their world in the areas of work, play, relationships, goals, self-perceptions, etc.

As you discover more about your customers, expand your list of words so you have a never-ending source of nouns and verbs that capture attention and remembrance for your brand.

Karon-black-150pxKaron Thackston is President of Marketing Words helping businesses convert better, rank higher and sell more. Having worked with companies including Gorton’s Seafood, American Boating Association and others, Karon builds success through copywriting, SEO copywriting and conversion techniques for businesses of all sizes. Download Karon’s “Copywriting Makeovers” ebook for real-world case studies that can equip you to boost the performance of your website.

The Biggest Stereotype About Marketing Automation

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

It’s not our fault that most of us associate marketing automation with complex campaigns run by advanced marketers in bigger companies.

That’s how it took off in the last decade.

But that stereotype is threatening the future of small businesses…

How It All Began

We know content marketing works.

We also know that more information is being created every 48 hours than the entire amount we made before 2003.

So, every 2 days it becomes harder to create content to engage people, especially those who are interested in what you do and are likely to become your customers.

This is a serious problem.

Roughly 5-7 years ago, a group of companies saw what was happening and did something about it.

They were HubSpot, Pardot, and Marketo, among others.

These companies knew it would be almost impossible to succeed at content marketing without streamlining the process. So they started automating tasks their corporate clients needed, and combining them in one place.

That was the birth of marketing automation platforms.

Why They’re “Too Complex”

Since the key with any great campaign is delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time, one of the things the industry became focused on was automating emails. Specially, creating complex trigger scenarios so that you could deliver those messages on an individual basis, ideally converting more customers.

Now we send over 294 billion emails a day.

Unfortunately, that complexity plagues the stereotype of marketing automation. It’s what most people think of when you mention the concept.

Besides the price.

And while it’s certainly useful for businesses with significant traffic, the cost and time involved is prohibitive for many smaller companies.

The Irony

The irony of marketing automation is that it’s viewed as complex and time consuming – yet the goal is to simplify tasks and save you time reaching your most profitable customers.

It’s simply a way of automating mundane tasks, so you can be more effective and reserve those spurts of energy for creative projects.

Due to the rapid adoption of content marketing, and the associated challenges of creating successful inbound campaigns, it will become more crucial than ever for all businesses to start adapting these time saving techniques.

In fact, some may be doing it without even realizing it:

  • When you use an SEO tool like Yoast to optimize your blog, that’s marketing automation – because instead of learning the rules, Yoast shows you what to do.
  • When you use a plugin to automatically share posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels, that’s marketing automation.
  • When you schedule your tweets using a service like Hootsuite, Buffer or TweetDeck…
  • When you monitor mentions of your business on the social web using Meshfire or Google…
  • Even when you use canned email responses to answer common questions…

It’s not about saving 1 hour by doing something different.

It’s about streamlining the process, so you save 3 minutes here and 8 minutes there at every step along the way.

With marketing automation, everything counts.

What’s next?

The demand from businesses with smaller budgets and time requirements is growing.

While the first wave of automation platforms was built for enterprise teams and budgets, we’re now seeing companies like ScribeContent, Orbtr, Spokal, Nurture and others designing platforms specifically for smaller teams, making it easier for anyone to create successful content campaigns.

Raab Associates recently showed that over 75% of companies adopting automation platforms in the USA are now small and micro businesses. And B2B Online shows that over 50% have fully integrated automation into their marketing.

 

photo credit: B2B Online

photo credit: B2B Online

 

Here’s the catch.

As it becomes easier for small businesses to leverage tools to make their content better, it will become easier to create better content. This means the quality of content that businesses need to produce to attract potential customers (and nurture them over time) will increase.

This is fantastic news for customers.

And it’s good for small businesses too, because those who can implement time saving techniques into their marketing practices now will have an even better chance of getting ahead of their competition and succeed at doing what they love.

Henry Ford was right.

Automation leads to great things.

AlexandraSkeyAlexandra Skey is the co-founder of Spokal, an award winning marketing automation platform for small businesses, and author of Zero Friction, which explores the future of online retail and will be released in fall 2014.

She lives on the west coast of Canada and is obsessed with customer experiences, horses and kiteboarding. You can connect with her on Twitter.

 

5 Tools to Make Your Email Smarter, Faster, Better

I believe that email is with us for a while longer. Despite the attempts of well meaning app makers and social networks, email is not dead. In fact, I get a ton of email from those same social networks that were going to kill email off.

email

photo credit: tompagenet via photopin cc

Email, like it or not, is the one tool that pretty much everyone has, everyone uses and everyone checks on a daily basis, so business use of email isn’t going anywhere soon as an external communication tool.

I say external, because I believe some tools like Basecamp, Yammer and Quip do allow you to replace some internal email and work better in teams that need to collaborate, discuss and track frequent iterations of conversations.

The key to making email flow externally is to find tools that make it smarter, faster and better with the way you work.

Below are five such tools that I’ve worked into my email toolkit.

Contactualy – I suppose you could call Contactually a light CRM tool, but it really shines when it comes to managing relationships that happen via email. It features lots of email functionality such as scheduled sending and open tracking but it also helps you prioritize your most important relationships and put them in “buckets” that prompt you to stay in touch if you have not communicated with someone within a designated amount of time.

Rapportive - This is a pretty simple browser plugin that keeps contact and social details from anyone that sends you an email in the sidebar of your email reading pane. That way when you get an email from someone your know or don’t know, you’ve got some pretty handy information at your fingertips.

Signals – This email addon from Hubspot does one thing very well – it tracks your emails and lets you know when someone has opened it. To me this helps in a couple areas – you know someone got your email and you know when they might be most receptive to a follow-up nudge or question.

Assitant.to – If you’re like me you’ve wasted a lot of time going back and forth with people trying to schedule meetings and phone calls. I don’t like those scheduling apps that make people go to a page, pick a time and add all their contact info. Assistint.to taps your calendar and allows you to send someone up to 3 times – they just pick one and it automatically creates calendar invites for both parties.

Gmail screenshot with Assistant.to meeting scheduling

Gmail screenshot with Assistant.to meeting scheduling

Boomerang – This add on allows you to get reminders when you want to resurface an email thread or if someone hasn’t responded in a set number of days. You can also write a bunch of emails in the evening and have them scheduled to send around coffee break time the next day.

I have all five of these services connected to my gmail account and rely on parts of each for my email workflow. I currently use Google Apps for Gmail and Chrome browser as each of these integrates with Gmail and all have Chrome support and extensions.

5 Ways Your Website is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jake Magleby  – Enjoy!

Marketers have touted the benefits of an online presence for businesses for years. However, starting a business website is only the first step. For many would-be Internet business gurus, their bottom line is falling short of what it could be. Make sure your business is competitive on and off the Internet by avoiding these five common mistakes.

1. Unresponsive Web Design

If you haven’t optimized your web design for multiple devices (i.e. mobile phones, desktops, and tablets), you could be driving traffic from your site. According to eMarketer, local mobile searches are expected to exceed desktop searches by 2015. This means your site needs to operate seamlessly across devices in order to compete.

Smartphone

photo credit: Flickr, leo_prince008

Unresponsive designs equal cumbersome navigation and a frustrated user. The more intuitive the design (and navigation), the higher your conversions will be.

2. Slow Loading Time

Time is money, and Internet users are impatient. If you can’t deliver page results within a few seconds, you could be losing valuable traffic. According to Kissmetrics, a one-second delay in page response can result in 7% loss in conversions.

While there are many ways you can improve your page load time, consider focusing on these areas:

  • Minimizing HTTP requests
  • Optimizing images
  • Compressing larger pages
  • Combining CSS sheets

Akamai found that 47% consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds, and 40% will abandon the site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Don’t lose out on conversions before visitors even have a chance to see your content.

3. Unreliable Hosting Services

Small business website hosting services come in various packages. However, whether you host on a shared server, a dedicated server, or something in between, your web host should be able to do four main things:

  1.  Provide 24 hour tech support. If something goes wrong on your website, you need a guarantee that tech support will be able to help you right away to ensure the site is running properly as soon as possible.
  2.  Guarantee at least 99.9% uptime. When Amazon experienced a 40 minute downtime in August 2013, they incurred a $5 million total loss. Though a small business may not suffer revenue loss on such a grand scale, downtime directly affects your bottom line. Look for host providers like Midphase, that offer 99.9% uptime to ensure the best results.
  3. Protect your data. Most hosts will back up your web data on a separate server. This protects your information in the case of a costly security breach.
  4. Scale their services. Make sure that your hosting service can accommodate business growth and scale their services to meet your expanding needs.

If your host cannot fulfill these four promises, you could be setting yourself up for lost business.

4. No Calls to Action

Call to ActionTo turn visitors into repeat customers, consider adding a call to action after a purchase on the thank you page. Invite them to share the offer they purchased with their friends; encourage them to sign up for a newsletter; or ask them to “Like” you Facebook or follow you on Twitter.

Though you’ve already earned one conversion, a call to action can turn your single conversion into a loyal customer.

 5. Lack of Optimization

You can’t rely solely on branding to generate online leads. Marketing Charts found that 39% of customers for online merchants came from searches. What does this mean for you? You need to optimize your site for search and usability; because if people can’t find you, they can’t purchase from you.

There are many aspects to a good SEO strategy, but keep in mind these basics:

  • Include relevant keywords in your meta descriptions, title tags, and alt texts.
  • Update your contact information.
  • Add relevant keywords to your content and copy.
  • Share posts, deals, and information via social media.

Optimizing will increase your visibility in the SERPs, the traffic to your site, and ultimately your online conversions.

Though there are many factors that affect a company’s bottom line, taking time to improve your website will be worth the effort. If you have already done most of these things, investing in data analytics, such as Google Developers tools, is a great way to identify more nuanced problem areas with your website.

Evaluate your traffic patterns, click-through rates, and individual page conversions to discover small but significant ways you can improve your site and your bottom line today.

Jake MaglebyJake Magleby 1 has written extensively about effective marketing, sales, and financing strategies to help small business owners succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing business world. He also has an interest in education and development.

How to Get Past Cold Calling

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Andrea Hewitt – Enjoy! 

Cold calling is proven to lead to high levels of anxiety for at least 40 percent of sales people during their careers. That’s why every company should strive to get to the point where they can stop relying completely on cold calling and finally see hot leads coming down the pipeline.

Unless you become a giant corporation, which is not the case for most companies, you’ll still be tracking down new clients through cold calls. It’s the perfect way to touch base with many potential customers that wouldn’t find you otherwise.

But how do you transition to less cold calling and more customers coming to you? Start with these four steps and you’re sure to see more hot leads coming your way:

1. Provide a great product or service

The easiest way to draw people to your brand is to have an incredible product or service to offer them. Find a need in whatever market you want to break into, and make something great to fill the void. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Find something that needs to be updated and create a better version. If your product is good, people will talk about it and you’ll start to see positive feedback that could attract potential customers.

2. Network every chance you get

If you focus on a specific industry, get to trade shows and use the opportunity to spread the word about your products. If you’re trying to sell to a specific region, go to local festivals, gatherings, and any opportunity for you to mingle with community members and leaders. Hand out as many business cards as you can, then let the customers come to you. Utilize every opportunity to hit the pavement and you’ll be sure to build awareness of your brand.

3. Create an awesome web presence

One of the main ways you can drive leads to you is to have an incredible web presence. If it’s been a couple years since you built your site, create a more modern design. Think of your website like a book—people are judging it by the cover. You also need to make yourself search engine optimized (SEO). For example, if you own an ice cream shop in Duluth, Minnesota, when people search Google for “ice cream in Duluth,” you want to be the first result. Start increasing your SEO by conducting a site audit. This step will point out problem areas that you can work to fix so your site starts performing higher in the rankings.

4. Cultivate a good reputation

Build relationships with the movers and shakers in your industry. If there are publications that many of your potential customers read, contact them with well-written press releases about new products and updates. Or ask if you can write something for them to get your name out there, educate your audience and demonstrate your authority. If there are professional organizations or chambers of commerce that are trusted in your area, get in touch with head honchos and convince them your company deserves public attention. Getting those people on your side and talking about you will lead to more inquiries.

You’ll also create a stellar reputation by having solid customer service. If you consistently go above and beyond for your current customers, they’ll do word-of-mouth marketing for you by bragging to their friends and colleagues.

Once you’ve tackled these first four steps, you’ll be on your way to finding the balance you desire between cold calls and hot leads. This won’t happen overnight but if you take your time and take pride in your exceptional product or service, you’re destined to get where you want your business to go.

Andrea Hewitt Andrea Hewitt is a content writer at StorageAhead, a web marketing company. She spends most of her time writing blogs that help others grow their businesses. She loves tackling a variety of topics and if she’s unfamiliar with one, she’ll do hours and hours of research until she feels like she has enough authority to write about it.