Understanding a common Problem with Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing is absolutely the key to success for pretty much every single business online. With close to all new customers today first finding a business online, It’s safe to say that if you don’t really nail the specifics of digital marketing, you’re just not going to be successful, particularly if you’re are a new business.
Even if you’re an existing business, you’re just not going to get the new customers, it will be increasingly difficult to keep your existing customers, and you are not going to increase your order value.
However, it can be a frustrating nightmare experience for small business owners because there is just no common repository of knowledge of help and advice. While it’s vitally important to devote a good chunk of your efforts to online promotion, it’s ridiculously frustrating and hard to get right.
What Do You Focus Your Business’s Marketing On?
The internet is key to getting new customers, whether it’s from Google search or Facebook, referrals or reviews.
Any marketing plan needs to focus on the following 3 things:
1. Getting new customers
2. Keeping existing customers
3. Increasing average order values
This has always been true for any business in history. Things are unprecedented today, as never before has there been so much power readily available in the hands of a small business owner.
Just 25 years ago, the marketing platform of choice would have been the Yellow Pages. Sure, you had radio advertising, television, mail and the newspaper, but for Google of search 25 years ago, everybody went to The Yellow Pages! End of story.
Today, though, we have a huge variety of sources online to market our business:
• Google Search
• Google Maps
• Email marketing
• Text marketing
• Paid advertising
• Facebook and social media
• Review sites and online directories
• Video media
Unfortunately, all this power and choice can cause all sorts of problems due to the incredible complexity and the inability to really focus. As a small business owner, what choice should you make?
With so many options, you may suffer from “paralysis by analysis” because since there are so many things you could be doing, nothing gets done.
Worse, you may be constantly worried that your competition is doing so much better than you are, & understands everything they need to know about digital marketing. They seem to show up when people search for the services that you provide as well.
How do you even know where to start?
3 Solutions for Small Local Business Owners
So what is the solution to this dilemma & complexity of choice?
Solution #1: Become an expert in digital marketing
You could spend hours and hours of your time trying to learn how to be an expert Facebook marketer, how to be an expert with reputation management, how to create and build the best customer relationship management software you can possibly can, how to do search engine optimization within Google, etc etc.
You could conceivably become an expert in all those things but is it not easy to do. Where do you have the free time, when are you able to fully focus on it? After all, you have your own business to run!
It’s not that it’s impossible to learn it all, but it takes time & an investment that most small business owners don’t have. After all, they are busy trying to grow their own business’s services!
The other annoying thing is about digital marketing is that it changes regularly, & is often hard to keep up with.
You shouldn’t have to take the time & effort to learn the complexity of digital marketing, especially if it detracts from your own business.
Solution #2: Hire somebody
Since digital marketing can be complex, many small business owners don’t really know what questions to ask. This makes it more difficult to evaluate people & what kind of a job they say they are going to do.
As there really is no certification or definition of who represents a “digital marketer,” there are a lot of really bad actors out there. You’re probably getting bombarded by calls & emails by people vowing to do your “SEO” for you and “rank you #1 on Google.”
You don’t know these people, & you don’t know exactly what techniques they are going to do to market your business online. On top of that, they could charge you $5,000 or more for their services, & you won’t exactly know how well that $5,000 is spent.
Solution #3: Hybrid 80/20 rule with hiring a digital marketing expert
The final solution is a hybrid solution. That is, figure out what to focus on, & apply the 80/20 rule (aka the “Pareto Principle”).
The concept of this is that 20% of what you need to focus on will give you 80% of the reward.
Let’s learn a little bit about what this 20% is. With this quick foundation of knowledge, you can then be more informed when you approach a digital marketing expert to help you. You’ll know the questions to ask & you’ll know exactly what you need & what you’ll receive for your budget.
The 80/20 Rule of Online Digital Marketing – 4 Key Activities
While digital marketing encompasses a huge range of activities, there are 4 key areas that will give you the biggest bang for your buck – this is the 20% that will give you the 80% value. You should focus on these:
2. Customer Relationship Management
3. Reputation Management
4. Facebook Presence
Let’s look at each of these four key activities.
Google has an entire separate website search called the “local” search results, designed just for small local business owners like yourself. It includes:
• Organic (regular) Search
• Local Search (also called the local pack)
• Google Maps
Why is it important?
Simply put, this is where most of your new customers will come from. Both locals & “tourists” use Google to search for the services they need. If somebody is looking for a restaurant in their area, there is a very good chance they will look on Google Maps or use an app on their smart phone that is powered by Google Maps.
Similarly, if somebody who lives close to your business or within your service area is looking for a plumber, take a guess at where they will look first? That’s right, through a Google search.
Local search works in many ways, through multiple devices, such as the Google website, Google Maps, “Hey Google” voice search, Android phones, & apps.
What are the goals?
• Show up when people search on their laptop or PC
• Show up when people search on any mobile devices
How Do I Show Up?
For local search, you first need to create or claim your business listing on Google through a “Google My Business” (GMB) account. From there, you can describe what your business is, your address and/or service area, your business hours, a category that best describes your services, & images of your place of business or the work you have done.
To rank in regular search, & to give power to your local listing, you need a website. This website needs to have a minimum level of “quality” to even to be accepted into the mix of prioritization.
By quality we mean on-page optimization like:
• Responsive design – how does your business site look in Mobile?
• Load time and website speed
• Any errors
• Title and other HTML tag issues
So how do you do this yourself? Find a good & trusted web designer! When searching for somebody, ask for samples of websites that they have designed that perform well online & are ranking well.
Keep in mind that your web designer is likely not a digital marketer. However, in today’s market, they would definitely need to know how to optimize a website to rank properly in Google search.
Once your site is complete, or if you have an existing website already, you can run and audit to check your website page speed:
• You need to get a B or better for page speed or load time
• Be absolutely certain your website is “responsive’ – does it change & look good on Mobile?
• Ask about other errors & things that come up on Pingdom report
• Run the Pingdom tool once every 3 months or so
Having a great website isn’t enough, of course. Not everybody can rank at the top of the search results with just a fast-loading website with no errors or issues. Google determines who is located at the top based on a number of factors. The number 1 factor is the number of relevant and quality backlinks from other websites. Backlinks are simply a link from another site.
The theory is that the more people that are talking about, mentioning & referencing a certain website, the more popular it is.
So how do you get backlinks? There are a variety of ways, but for the purposes of ranking in the local results, there is a special kind of backlink that works best – these are known as citations.
Citations are links from business directories & review sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Superpages, Yellowpages, BBB, etc. There are actually hundreds of citation sources, along with specific sources based on your industry, such as Autotrader for car dealerships or Weddingwire for catering services.
Each of these websites reinforces trust. While any spammer can get their site linked to hundreds of citations, the power comes in the reviews & engagement with each citation source. So, if a lot of traffic comes to your listing in Yelp, Google will notice this and bump you up a little bit higher in local search. Combine this with activity, engagement & people leaving reviews in other citation sources, & you will have a great chance of your business listing ranking high in local search and your website ranking well in organic search.
2. CRM – Customer Relationship Management
A CRM is a central repository of your customers’ information & communication – mainly, their email addresses and phone numbers.
Why is a CRM important?
• Run promotions
• Keep your current & past customers engaged with you
• Increase average customer value
You want to continue your dialogue with an existing customer, because they already know & trust you. If they ever need your services again, you will be on their mind first.
Word-of-mouth advertising is also powerful in that you can also be referred by the friends & family of your customers, resulting in new business @ zero cost to acquire them.
Finally, for the purposes of digital marketing & local search, you can use a CRM to solicit reviews.
What are the goals?
You want to get enough reviews on prominent platforms – at least ten or more. If people don’t see enough reviews about you on the right sites, they could pass you over for a competitor.
With lots of great reviews and a high rating, a potential customer will look more closely at your business & your services.
Finally, by being in communication with your existing customers, you’re increasing customer retention & order value through regular promotions & repeat business.
To start, you’ve just got to start collecting it! You can do this through email lists, your point of sale systems, & even email archives. The sooner you start, the sooner you have this asset to run promotions & get reviews.
To communicate, email is the de facto standard, but text messages get a lot better engagement & a better open rate as well.
Autoresponders are email list systems. They store your customer information & you can send them emails such as promotions.
There are many autoresponders on the market, such as:
Autoresponders don’t just allow you to store a customer’s email & allow you to send them emails. You can also send them chains & sequences of emails.
For example, when your customer has just been added to your list, you could send out an email sequence that says “Could you leave a review?” 5 days later you can automatically send out an email for a coupon on their next purchase or service with you. Most email systems will allow you to send sequences based on when they joined your list, on certain specific dates or times of the week, and if they trigger a certain event such as clicking a button in your email. Of course, all allow you to send out a broadcast, as such as a monthly newsletter or flash sale.
You can do the same thing with text as you do with email autoresponders. This means that you can send automated sequences or an ad-hoc broadcast. Some good text services include:
• EZ Texting
• Chomp SMS
These tools can be expensive, & while there are a couple of ‘free’ services out there, most start out as free & then move to paid if you send a certain amount. Unfortunately, a lot of them have bad delivery rates & are leveraged by spammers and bad actors.
You can also subscribe to pay as you go plans with a minimal monthly fee too. It’s routine to see a small business to spend $300 – $750 a month on this. However, if done right, it is usually worth it. For instance, if you are a restaurant & send out a text for a happy hour promotion the same day, you can typically do quite well.
3. Reputation Management
Your online reputation is critical to maintain! This mainly has to do with reviews at certain sites, such as:
• Google (which has its own star ratings in local search)
• Specialized review websites like Realtor.com, Trip Advisor, etc, depending on your business niche
This is all about getting reviews & maintaining good ratings for your business.
What are the goals?
You want to ensure you claim your listings on all platforms & to identify yourself as the business owner for your listings on Yelp, Google, Foursquare, etc, as well as any prominent specialty review sites in your niche.
You also want to:
• Create a Facebook page for your company
• Encourage reviews on major platforms – 10 or more
You’ll need to monitor these reviews sites all the time and:
• Read each new review
• Respond to each and every new review, positive or negative
• Ensure 4.5 star or higher rating across all reviews
• Appeal ‘bad/fake’ reviews to get them removed where ever possible
So what is the easiest way to increase your score if you only have a 3.7 review? Get more 5 star reviews! You can do this by encouraging new reviews using your CRM & simply asking for them from your satisfied customers.
4. Facebook Presence
With so many people on Facebook all the time, this is a really great place to advertise your business. However, it is a source that is actually quite difficult to gain new customers from, unless you do advertising. Facebook has made changes recently to filter & block out a lot of content from business pages, mainly due to user complaints.
At its core, Facebook is a service to connect with friends, not necessarily businesses. However, it’s a great platform for brand awareness & customer engagement once you build up a following of a couple hundred or thousand people.
Here’s a tip on how to market on Facebook correctly.
Create a Facebook page
First, create a Facebook page – there’s tons of great information online to help you out. Simply Google “setting up a Facebook page for my business”. You don’t have to do fill out every little detail. Just get your page up & running so you have something.
Now, it is time to gain some followers and Likes.
• Friends & family at first
• CRM – at the end of each email sent out say “hey like and follow us on Facebook”
• Text message campaign
• In your location – put some signage up where you can
• Business cards
Posting on Facebook
Post on your Facebook page regularly with updates. Two to three times per week is recommended.
This is all about engagement. The idea is for people to talk about you by sharing your content. The more people share & comment on your content, the more chances that other people will see it.
Some helpful ideas of content to post include polls, contests, funny pictures, images of your work or you working, some interesting tidbits about your day, motivational sayings, etc. These are all great ways to keep your audience engaged.
Another thing you can do is find some viral content from others that you can share yourself.
You can use a tool like Buzzsumo to find out the latest trending content & viral ideas, and you can track your own content to see how effective you are communicating via social media.
The 80/20 Rule – The #1 Thing You Should Do TODAY
It is now time to decide on the 80/20 rule. What will you focus on today? How will you approach & attack it? Build your plan and act on it. This is the single most important thing that you need to do today in order to make a start on your own digital marketing!
To help you get started today contact us at the link below, for the best plan of attack for your business https://localseoservices.co.nz/contact/