local business marketing online

Why Local Businesses Fail With Online Marketing

Online marketing can be a mystery to many small business owners and it’s even more difficult when so called “experts” are giving them conflicting information. Who should they believe? How do they know which strategy is the right one for their business?

My heart goes out to so many small business owners who struggle to wrap their arms around the online marketing game. It is constantly changing and as the old saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. So it isn’t surprising that they can talk to three different marketing agencies and come back with three different strategies.

It’s no wonder some small businesses struggle with their online marketing strategy. We’ve compiled a list of ways that local small businesses fail with their online marketing and how they can avoid these mistakes.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Don’t focus exclusively on internet marketing. Given that this article is about internet marketing, this item may seem out of place. But it is important to note that although the internet is a powerful source for driving new business and building your brand, it shouldn’t be the only marketing strategy in your arsenal.

local online marketing2. Marketing budget is too low – If you consider the national average for businesses of all sizes, the average marketing budget is about 10% of the entire budget. Now if you compare that to the local small business owner, 56% spend less than 3% of their total budget on all of their marketing. Unless you or someone in your business has the skills needed to develop a strong online marketing program, you should be investing in your online strategy.

3. Outdated or poorly optimized website – When it comes to marketing online your website becomes your central point for sales. All your social platforms, online ads and videos should lead consumers back to your website. Having a website that make a strong first impression is important. Make sure contact information stands out and that the site is easy to navigate. Your visitors should be able to easily find the information they are looking for.

4. Don’t forget about the power of email marketing – We recently sat down with one of our landscaping clients who was getting ready for their busy season. Instead of spending marketing dollars on ads for sprinkler startup and aeration, we suggested they create an email campaign to reach out to previous customers who used these services in the past. It doesn’t cost anything but a few hours of their time and will get them off to a fast start this season.

5. Capture the low hanging fruitLeverage local search to be found by consumers who are ready to buy right now. Smart phones are everywhere and the number of mobile searches for local intent has surpassed desktop searches. Consumers searching via a mobile device will make a purchase within 3 days more than 50% of the time. Mobile users search for everything from shopping and restaurants to home services.

6. Don’t try to do it all by yourself – Marketing online is complex and ever changing so unless you have an in house specialist, it will too challenging to keep up with. It’s true that some online marketing can be expensive but you don’t have to do it all at once. Figure out what your budget is and start with something small. As sales increase your marketing budget should follow.

“Business success is all about finding the right outside service providers and using them wisely. You can’t do it all yourself.” ~ Anita Campbell, Founder of Small Business Trends.

7. Hire the “right” marketing agency – Small business owners are experts in their business but they don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to marketing online. This becomes a Catch 22 – how do you hire a good agency when you don’t know what to look for. Part of this will be following your gut but it should also include asking a lot of questions and asking for referrals. Also, if you’re unsure about an agency start off with a smaller project that doesn’t take too long. This way you can see how the agency works and if they follow through with your expectations.

Last but not least….

local marketing failureDo something! Procrastinating and waiting for the right moment is a sure fire way to fail. Put together your online marketing strategy with timeframes and budget. Having something in writing will give you a blueprint for success. Make changes to your blueprint as things change.

If you would like help with your marketing strategy, schedule a free no-obligation 30 minute consultation.

cure for writers block

An Effective Cure For Writers Block – Don’t Stop Blogging!

Unless you’ve engaged the assistance of a blog writing service, you are pretty much on your own for content creation. Assuming that you already have a busy operation to run, you probably don’t have time for writer’s block. Fortunately, we have some effective cures for when you run into this common obstacle.

The first tip comes from the folks at SmartBlogger.com:

Chug some caffeine

 

Okay. Okay. I know caffeine isn’t good for you. But sometimes you need something to keep going. Don’t waste your fantastic ideas just because you can’t keep awake.

Try this schedule: Set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes – or use the focus booster. After 25 minutes of concentrated writing, take a break. Stop even if you feel like finishing a paragraph.

Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Start your next 25 minutes and drink your cup of coffee.

Green tea fuels my blog posts. What fuels yours?

Sometimes it helps just to look back at your older, most successful blog posts. What topics seemed to gain the most traction with your target audience and sparked engagement? Maybe it’s time to elaborate on those topics, or perhaps reviewing your old content may even spark a new idea. Referencing your older content provides you with a great opportunity to link back to the original post when writing your new one.

Yet another idea from freelancewriting.com

Switch Topics

If you are having problems with a particular piece, stop writing it. Go on to something completely different. Something radical. Something new. Something you never thought you would write about. If you’re writing about the shrinking middle class-stop and start writing about some childhood experience that left a mark on you. Your work doesn’t have to be publication quality. It just has to be something different.

Take advantage of social media. Ask your followers about which topics are most important or interesting to them. You could also utilize your multimedia tools to add another element to your blog, such as a video post or a series of photos. Or you can do what I’m doing right now and curate some content from other peoples articles. Just make sure you link back and give credit when you do.

Your ultimate goal should be to create content that is interactive and engages your audience. Developing new ways to continue to inspire your readers. If you need help developing a marketing strategy for your business that will make the most from all of your marketing efforts. Contact us and schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

wordpress marketing tools

WordPress: An Important Online Marketing Tool

Understanding that a website essentially acts as a virtual storefront, the majority of small to medium sized businesses in the U.S. have created some type of website in an effort to reach more customers. Unfortunately, due to the time and expense that it takes to create and manage a website, some small business owners have decided not to spend their resources in this area at all, therefore missing out on a huge opportunity.

For those budget minded business owners, WordPress is the ideal small business marketing tool that can be used to create a professional looking website and business blog. WordPress is a free website design for small businesscontent management system that is extremely user friendly and allows you to edit and manage your site without having to know the HTML or coding. This means that you can still have a great website for your business without spending the money on an expensive web developer to create and maintain your site.

We use WordPress for not only our blog, but all of our clients’ blogs that we host and manage! Before we get into the feature and benefits of WordPress, here’s a straightforward graphic that outlines the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

As you can see, WordPress.org is the best choice for your small business. Although it will cost you money (as WordPress.com is ‘free’), the money will be well worth it in the end. Outlined below is a brief overview of the features that WordPress offers users:

  • Themes: You can select from a wide variety of free themes to give your website a distinctive look. In the event that you wanted to custom design something, you can refer to the massive WordPress development and designer community for assistance.
  • Plugins: Plugins add functionality to your website, such as creating a forum for discussions or a customer only area. Basically, if you can think it up, there is probably already a plugin that is available to meet your needs.
  • Blog: We hear so much these days that content is king, and an easy way to produce more content to boost SEO is to create a business blog. With WordPress, you can easily create a blog to help drive more traffic to your website.

In conclusion, while many people often think of WordPress as a blogging platform, it really is a much more powerful small business marketing tool that can also be used to create and maintain a website. WordPress is also extremely SEO friendly and makes it easy to share your content through your various social media channels as well, making it a valuable social media marketing tool as well.

website design for small business

Improving The Conversion Rate Of Your Website

The home improvement industry as well as some other service industries have a greater need for an easy to navigate website. So when it comes to our websites all the shiny bells and whistles look great but if a visitor can’t find what they need quickly, they just move on.

Here we are going to take a look at some features that will help increase the leads and sales conversions generated from your website.

Contact information – most people will pick up the phone and call for service repairs and they are hoping to speak with someone right now. Most homeowners will get a list of contractors and start dialing, looking for a quote or to get an answer to a problem. If they have to hunt for your companies contact information, they lose interest and go to the next website. Make sure your contact information is easily visible on every page. The top right corner is the most common practice and is easy for consumers to find. It is also a good idea to have it in the footer as well. And of course you should have a contact page with your phone number prominently displayed.
Contact forms – Some consumer still prefer email to narrow down the top few contractors they want to speak with. It isn’t always easy for consumers to get away from work to manage their personal home maintenance needs so an easy to find quote form is ideal. Keep your forms short and simple, getting just the important information needed to provide a quote. The home improvement industry doesn’t always lend itself to accurate quotes via the internet so in these instances find out the best time and number to contact the consumer. Your contact form should be on the home page, most if not all of your inner pages and definitely on your contact page.

Services – break down your services into easy to navigate pages. So for example you might have a page or section dedicated to residential services and another for commercial services. Or a repairs page and replacement page. Whatever makes the most sense for you industry. Your services and links to the inner pages should be prominently displayed on the home page so your visitors can easily find what they need.

Simple but attractive website – Unless you service a high end clientele, a simple design that is easy to navigate and looks nice will do the trick. Avoid light colored text on a dark background. Studies have found that most people will not read an entire site that is opposite of the norm. Now this isn’t always the case…. some light text on dark performs well so just be cautious going down this road.

I have seen some unattractive website perform well when they follow the guidelines above so there is no silver bullet when it comes to website conversions but the list laid out in this article will help 80% of website perform better. Contact Social Climb for your free consultation.

8 Best Practices for Website Design

 

Track Your Online Business

Set objectives with Google Analytics Goal Tracking

If you didn’t already know, Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to measure the performance of your website. One of its more powerful abilities is Goal Tracking, which allows you to create and measure specific user actions on your website, such as shopping cart purchases, blog article reads, or recommendations on social media. With this information you can measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns, test which of two layouts is best, and determine the success of your business’s social media page.

Our Social Climb team uses Goal Tracking as a part of the website optimization process for our clients, as well as during launch promotion planning. For those of you who are interested in managing these tools yourself, or learning about some of the components we can help you use, here are three of Analytics’ most useful features:

URL Tracking
google analytics toolsThere are a variety of ways that people arrive at your site and finding out which are working hardest for you is a crucial part of maintaining a steady stream of visitors. URL tracking allots you the ability to create custom URL addresses for gathering data from specific sources. You can check your search marketing campaigns, track repeating customers and how they purchase the items in their shopping cart, all by assigning these addresses to Analytics to oversee.

Funnels are a useful asset to URL tracking in which you specify a route through the various pages of your website. User data is then collected on the progress and frequency of that route. You use your custom addresses you’ve created and track the path taken to arrive at a secondary address. For instance, you set up a funnel between a particular item to the last step in your shopping cart to track how many people are purchasing that product. This allows you to see whether visitors are completing the funnel in the way you expect, or whether there are problems (such as visitors leaving before checking out), highlighting where improvements can be made in order for the desired transaction to occur.

Duration & Page Visits
Analytics keeps track of how long a visitor has been on your site based on recorded arrival and departure time stamps. The only drawback of the time stamp system is that the duration cannot be measured until a visitor has left one page for another, even if they have been there for hours. Duration is useful for monitoring how involved visitors are with your content and detecting the speed with which people are navigating. Specifying duration goals, such as setting a limit of three minutes, would alert you of how many people had stayed on a particular page for three minutes or more.

You can also monitor page visits; who is visiting, how often and how quickly they proceed. Statistics gathered from this section will determine the level of user-friendliness your site exudes.

Events
Events with Goal Tracking are just goal items you wish to track that don’t already fall into one of the above categories. A few items that can be considered Events, are:
Social media links that lead back to your site to monitor the effectiveness of your social media campaign.

Downloads on your site; are your resources being used?
Videos or photo galleries; are they useful or just filling up space?
Other external sources of traffic to your website, such as in email blasts or newsletters.
If you can name it, you can most likely track it in Events, down to a single mouse click.

Knowing is half the battle
Google Analytics provides an extensive set of tools and yields a great deal of information about the success and usability of your website, empowering you to measure the results of your efforts. Without empirical data about how your site is used and which strategies are effective, any effort to improve the way you do business online is tantamount to guesswork.

Social Climb’s marketing specialists are experienced in crafting digital strategies to suit your unique business needs. Whether you hire us to assist you or plan to do it yourself, Goal Tracking should be an integral part of your marketing efforts. To find out how your company can benefit from the use of Goal Tracking to improve website performance, feel free to contact us.

online marketing strategies

Top Marketing Strategies To Grow A New Business

Starting a business can be the most exciting, frustrating, challenging and rewarding undertaking we ever do. Like so many we dive the business full of ideas, dreams and ambition. But sometimes all the planning doesn’t give is the dose of reality that hits us once we get started.

Some entrepreneurs hire a business coach but many go it alone… and as someone who didn’t hire a business coach, I discovered very quickly that I at least needed to get involved with like minded groups and online coaches that offered training, coaching and more importantly accountability. It’s easy to focus on the wrong things and “not see the forest for the trees”. So having gone through many challenges and at times still going through the growing pains I thought it might be of some value to share what I’ve learned.

 

  1. Identify your weaknesses early – Entrepreneurs wear many hats (especially when we are getting started), we can be everything from the janitor to the CFO when our businesses are young. This is the time to identify the things we may not be very good at, the things we really don’t like to do and the things we love about our business.
  2. Hire a coach or join a group – Get help with the things that you may not be very good at. This could be marketing, managing finances, managing employees or some other aspect of the business. There are a great number of groups that can be a voice of reason when we need it, offer guidance and information to help overcome the challenges.
  3. Find an accountability partner – There are some tasks in our business that we don’t enjoy doing and these tend to get pushed to the bottom of our to do list. An accountability partner is someone you meet with bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on your needs. You help by holding them accountable for tasks and goals in their business and they will do the same for you. There is no greater motivation than realizing you have an accountability meeting next week and you haven’t completed the task you were committed to doing before the next meeting.

 

small-business-marketing-strategiesThese 3 items are really foundational components of your business. Develop processes, structure and time frames for all the tasks needed to keep your business running and over time these will become daily, weekly and monthly habits.

 

  1. Spend 70% of your time growing your business – 70% sounds like a lot of time but sales are the life blood of every business. Without a steady stream of sales your business will become stagnant and the slightest shift in your market could be devastating.
  2. Track all your marketing – If you spend time or dollars on a marketing strategy you need to be able to analyze it 30 days out. Keep the marketing strategies that deliver the highest ROI. Dump the ones with a low ROI or negative ROI and keep trying new things.
  3. Develop inbound and outbound marketing strategies – Inbound is most beneficial for service based businesses. Outbound tends to work better for eCommerce, insurance and the health care niche but there is no hard fast rule; every market and niche is a little different.
  4. 80/20 rule – Invest 80% of your efforts on the marketing tactics that are bringing you the greatest return. Spend 20% of your time trying new marketing tactics, testing and learning. Technologies are changing so fast that it is nearly impossible to keep up with the newest big thing… this is where you will be really glad you joined a group of entrepreneurs, marketers and like minded individuals.
  5. Stay focused – For me this was the hardest thing to do. I’m like a sponge that gathers all types of information from the internet, conversations and my groups. I love to test new marketing concepts. And this can quickly send me down a rabbit hole and way outside of my wheelhouse. My accountability partner has played a major role in keeping me on task. This doesn’t mean that I can’t test new concepts – I just ask myself these two questions; “is this project going to benefit the current business goals?” and “will this enhance the business financially?”. If I can answer yes to these two questions, I can spend less than 20% of my time testing (or “playing” as I call it).

Conclusion:
In summary, there are many rewards to having your own business. Developing a strong foundation, hiring great employees and having a good marketing strategy will set you on the right path to success. I want to leave you with one important thing if you take nothing else from this article; Seriously, spend 70% of your time on sales. All of the other work will get done… it really will. You’ll have the finances to hire more employees and if you really don’t enjoy sales, hire a sales rep or a marketing company to deliver exclusive leads… just focus on growing!

local marketing stats for small business

Local Marketing Statistics That Impact Your Business

Developing an online marketing strategy for your local business means keeping up with the latest trends and understanding your customers. You’ll find a plethora of marketing statistics online from search engine optimization to local marketing. Understanding how this information is applicable to your local business can be challenging.

Back in July we wrote about Launch of Google’s New Ads in Local Pack and how it could impact local businesses. I was recently talking to one of our National clients who read our article and called me to find out how they could take advantage of these changes. She saw an opportunity to start marketing locally in her biggest markets and possibly reducing her national Adwords campaign cost.

There is a value in keeping up with local marketing trends. So how do you figure out what your local business should be doing?

Solution: Local Marketing Stats
Make use of local marketing statistics to focus your current marketing strategy

 

local business marketing trendsEighty percent of Internet Users Own a Smartphone

In 2015 desktop searches was surpassed by mobile searches. Google changed their algorithm to boost mobile friendly websites. This change rocked the SEO industry and was dubbed “Mobilegeddon” because it was believed to have a significant impact on local rankings. Some business were impacted more than others (both positively and negatively).

It’s inevitable that technology will continue to develop and mobile will increasingly become more important to your business. The best way to know how many of your visitors are mobile is to take a look at your Google Analytics. You can see a break down of the traffic coming from mobile devices vs. desktop.

 

Twenty percent of consumers look for answers to complex questions on social media

Just as mobile search has changed online marketing, so to has social media. Today consumers spend more time on a variety of social media platforms. Yes, they do spend time venting about their day and uploading pictures of their lunch, but they also spend a great deal of time looking for answers and asking questions. This is especially true with the Millennials.

The questions posed in social media are on a wide range of topics from “how do I fix my leaky faucet” to “I’m upgrading my old junky car, what kind of car should I buy?”. Your business can be there to answer these questions. Knowing the most common questions your potential customers have will allow you to post answers via an FAQ on your website, YouTube videos and blog posts that answer these questions. If you have the resources, setting up Google Alerts will help your staff find and respond to these questions directly. You can search places like Quora, Twitter, Yahoo Answers to name a few.

 

Word-Of-Mouth is the #1 influencer among Millennials

When it comes to making purchasing decisions, Millennials look more closely at online reviews and referrals. As of 2015, the number of Millennials are greater than Baby Boomers, making up 25% of the US population. This group will undoubtedly become an increasingly more important makeup of your customer base. Creating a strong online reputation will be invaluable for your business going forward. Sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook are some of the places Millennials turn to currently (This will most likely changes as more review sites become more popular).

 

Content Searches have a great close ratio

Content marketing is the new trend that so many local businesses are reluctant to adapt. Leads from a content search are eight times as likely to result in a sale. Consumers are searching for answers, helpful information that is useful. Developing content for your blog will allow you to share your knowledge and attract consumers who are looking for this type of information. These articles can then be shared across many social platforms, email campaigns and advertising.

 

Keeping up with trends can help your local business put more emphasis on marketing that will have a greater impact on your business. Share your experience with these and other trends that are impacting local business today.

Launch of Google’s New Ads in Local Pack – How It Could Impact Your Business

Google is always shaking things up and some changes that will be coming down the pipe in the near future could impact your business.

At the SMX Advanced Local Workshop held on June 22, Google announced and confirmed that ads will be coming to the local 3 pack that we are familiar with. In this workshop Google talked about the ad placement. Which has left businesses with a lot of unanswered questions.

So the biggest question is what does this mean for the many local businesses that have worked hard to gain placement in the coveted 3 pack?

Let’s see if we can help answer some of these questions…

Before we dive into the changes let’s take a step back and make sure everyone understands what the local 3 pack is and some of the recent changes/transformations we have seen.

Google’s Local Pack

Google’s local pack is a group of search results that have local intent. So for example if you search for a plumber you don’t want a list of plumbers in another State or City. Google recognizes certain business types as local and created a section of the search results specifically for local. It currently looks like this:

google local 3 pack

 

Previously Google’s local pack had 10 listings and about a year ago there were 7 local listings:

 

Local 7 Pack

 

Now Google is looking at making another major change that would reduce the number of local listings from 3 to just 2 as the first placement is replaced with an ad. It might look something like this:

 

google local 3 pack with ad

 

Google has been testing this new ad placement for a couple of months now but in their tests they have kept the 3 local organic listings and just placed the ad on top.

How Does This Impact Your Business?

If Google reduces the local pack to 2 listings from 3 it will mean that you have less chance of ranking organically in the local pack. As I see it this means local businesses will have basically 2 options…
1. Put more work and time into ranking in the top 2 positions

  • Go back to your Google My Business Page and make sure that you have completed your profile to 100%. Check your categories and select all that are relevant – you can add up to 5. Check your description and include keywords that consumers would be looking for, but be careful not to overdo it.
  • Make sure that the NAP (name, address and phone#) are on your website. Specifically on the page you are linking to from the Google My Business Page. The NAP should be exactly as it is on Google My Business page. If Google lists it as “123 Market St” don’t use “123 Market Street”. Check all your directory listings to make sure the NAP is exactly the same as well.
  • Get your business NAP listed on as many directories as you can.
    For more information about using local directories for improved rankings read this article: The 3 Best Ways To Drive New Customers To Your Door http://socialclimb.org/search-engine-optimization/the-3-best-ways-to-drive-new-customers-to-your-door/

2. Pay For An Ad
Alternatively you can pay for a listing in the #1 ad spot of the local pack. This would be done through Google Adwords. If you’re not familiar with Adwords you can read more about setting up your first campaign.
If you’re not familiar with Adwords you may find it difficult, complicated and time consuming. If you don’t setup your ad correctly it can be an expensive endeavor. Although once you’ve learned how to set it up so that your campaigns are working efficiently you may find ads to be a great way to drive more business. If you need help running an ads campaign you can turn to Social Climb’s Small Business Marketing Program.
In Summary
The new local pack has not gone live yet but now is a good time to start preparing for the changes coming, especially if your business relies on the local pack for most of your leads and sales. Follow the basic guides we laid out in this article and contact us if you have more questions. Note: that until Google implements their new local search results, it is subject to change. As we learn more about the new Google local search we will keep you posted.

marketing online with live chat

Live Chat Will Build Trust and Retain Customers

Have you considered adding a live chat option to your website? Depending on the business, a live chat service can do much more than simply provide quick and painless customer service. When used in the correct situation, it can increase conversions on your site, the number of returning visitors and ultimately, revenue.

At Social Climb, we’ve encouraged many of our clients to utilize the benefits of a live chat service if we feel it would help that particular business. Our internet marketing department performs extensive research about your users and their behavioral needs in order to decide what type of support would be a beneficial addition to your online business.

responsive website design

5 Reasons You Need A Responsive Website Design

Mobile devices are becoming more accessible and popular for people of all ages. This is why having a responsive website has become a necessity for online businesses, publishers and retailers. With a responsive design, there is no longer a need to develop separate designs for your website to make them work across various devices such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

Most websites are specifically designed to work on desktops, which can become really irritating when viewing the same site on a tablet or a smartphone. If you’re an online business owner, advertiser, or publisher, here are five reasons why you need a responsive website.

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