Where is your customer at?

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Writing for the Right Reader: Where is he/she at in using your product or service?

When you are adding content to your website, you (or whoever is writing for you) should be able to describe the person who is likely to be looking for your product or service. The content you add should talk directly to that type of person (or those types of people, if there is more than one description) for the best effect.

If you have a lawn service, for example, it may be that most of the people who contact you to start service are female, and the household tends to have a certain level of income so they can afford to hire a lawn service. There may be certain neighborhoods that have a heavier proportion of lawns that are serviced by outside companies.

If you have a bike shop, you may have multiple categories of customers. You may have a great selection of mountain bikes, road bikes and children’s bikes. You may have staff specially trained to focus on each type of sale. You will need to understand the buyers in each category and appeal to each of them with custom content addressing the needs of each group.

Are they Users? Buyers? Researchers?

You also need to understand where they are at in the buying cycle. For a higher priced purchase especially, most people browse repeatedly before they buy. By building in a robust feature that lets people browse and research without commitment, you can appeal to this pre-customer.

For a buyer, a feature that lets a person build a custom bike just to their liking helps people create that dream in their minds. That service may just cause them to walk in your front door when they are ready to buy. I like the way that car companies let you build your dream vehicle online. (I just visited the Ford Motor Company website and compiled my dream pickup truck. My only complaint was that the site did not update the image as I added features. Now I just need the $32,000 to make my dream come true.)

If they are already owners, they may need help maintaining their purchases. You can appeal to these customers by putting repair manuals online, by providing an ideal maintenance schedule they can download, by offering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for repair of their bikes, a price list for routine maintenance and other features. You could also ask people to sign up for a seasonal alert service – you capture email addresses and send out reminders to get a tune-up in the spring or tips on storing a bicycle over the winter. You can also offer notifications about local bicycle races, and even new shipments of popular bikes.

A bicycle owner who has a high-performance road bike may want to hear about races but a mom buying a child’s first bike may want to hear about safety classes.

Also Contributes to Search Engine Optimization

Here is the REAL point of working out where your customers are at in the buying cycle. If you do create customized content for the different types of people who will be looking for your products or services, it’s pretty automatic that you are going to also be creating quality content in the eyes of search engines. And this is the Age of Quality Content. Every search engine out there is refining their operations to offer the most relevant content possible to keep people from switching over to another search engine.

If you are doing your own writing, keep this in mind. If you have someone else write for you, make sure this is foremost in his/her mind. Search engines will like it – your customers and potential customers will like it – this means more business in the door by way of your website. 

Building Authority for Better Search Engine Optimization

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The game of having a successful website has a lot to do with search engine optimization. And as just about everyone in the world knows, the most popular search engine is Google. It’s a little scary, how much influence this company has, but I can’t really argue with their intent. They keep modifying their functionality with the goal of providing the user with useful, reliable information.

The concept of “authority” has long existed in the Google universe. Google attempts to find measurable criteria for determining if a website possesses authority and if it does, it places that website up higher in the search results.

For years, companies tried to artificially build up their authority. And for the last few years, Google has found ways to penalize companies who used these artificial means.

For example, the number of links to a website tends to show its authority. There are plenty of links to CNN, to YouTube and to Facebook. For several years, there were websites that simply sold links from that website to yours. Of they would trade a link on their site for one on yours. This worked for a while but then stopped working.

Why Purchased Links Don’t Work

I know one company who used this method and every other sneaky trick in the book to obtain scads of links to their website. It worked – for a while. I tried to tell them that this was simply not sound marketing but they didn’t want to hear it. When Google overhauled its system for recognizing authority and stopped counting these non-authoritative links when preparing search engine results, this company got hit very hard. I don’t know how many millions of dollars they lost. They had been relying heavily on a couple of strong websites and they practically had to start over.

This brings us back to quality content once again. If you add useful, accurate information to your site, you’re going to build authority. It might be a bit slow, but you’re going in the right direction.

Now, you should be creating posts on Facebook and adding tweets to Twitter about the information you post. This will get people going to your site and reading. And if your information is useful, you will start building links the right way. People will share the information on Facebook or Twitter. Or a few people might mention your site in their blog posts. It’s all going in the right direction.

The age of a website is also a factor. There’s really no solution for that one except to add more valid content and let it age – like a fine wine!

No Duplication

I can remember the days when it used to work to copy large amounts of data from – oh, say a government site – and pad out your website with it. You used to see this a lot – long pages that quoted government publications. It totally doesn’t work now. In fact, duplicative content of any kind is useless and will actually work against a website.

Maybe you’ve never quoted long passages from public domain information. But if you run articles in more than one place on your websites, or on more than one website you own, you need to stop. All your content needs to be unique. Really, truly unique.

Any business is going to be talking about the same materials, products and uses in many of their articles and that is not the problem. Just assume it needs to be unique and useful.

It might work to think of Google as Santa Claus. “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.” Google keeps building the ability to operate in more intelligent ways so trying to outsmart them is not useful. Just keep adding quality, timely, useful, accurate information in as much volume as you can. Promote your services and drive people to the site. Let Google take over from there.

It’s not quite that simple, but it’s still good advice.

And if you want the full story, you can always call me at 727-446-0834…

Carlos Bernot

Answering Questions, Building Relationships

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Answering Questions, Building Relationships

So you’ve got an online presence. You’ve got a website, a Facebook page, a blog you are adding content to on a regular basis. You’re on LinkedIn. You even posted a couple of videos to YouTube. This is a good start but do they end up making you money?

If the content you have been posting is random, based on whatever struck you when you said to yourself, “Wow, I better add some social media content,” then it might not be doing a lot of good for you.

But if you think through the process of building a relationship with your customers or potential customers, you may reap more profits from your online investment.

Answer their Questions

Do you have a product that people need but don’t know they need? Suppose you had a pest control business that used non-toxic chemicals to get rid of ants, termites, roaches and the like. You’re in a minority and a lot of people may not know enough to look for you. You need to get a lot of information out on to the web to start building an understanding of what you offer and why.

You might want to start a series of blogs on toxins in the home – ALL KINDS of toxins in the home, not just pest control toxins. Become a go-to guy for answers about having a non-toxic home.

You might alternate these with information about how allergies might be able to be improved if an environment has fewer chemicals in it. Throw in some testimonials.

Do you have an air conditioner business? Do you offer seasonal maintenance that will save people money? Offer a whole series of money-saving tips, with some that relate to your services and others relating to the expenses of owning a home.

Video Content, Too

The pest control business can offer a series of videos on identifying pests, how to make your garbage pest-proof and much more. There’s so much that you know that your potential customers don’t know. Just make very simple videos that explain one or two simple points in each one.

The air conditioning business could make videos explaining the mysteries going on inside your air conditioner. I, for one, would like to see this series of videos.

Then you can write a blog about the video and even send an email out to your customers and prospects for whom you have an email address. Direct them to the video. And of course post the information to Facebook. So you get at least four separate communications from each subject you come up with.

And ask for feedback! Comments! Be honest and say you are new at this and you want to give them information that is valuable! Did you succeed? Ask them to tell you what they like about the video, don’t like about it or other topics they want to see addressed.

This begins to build a relationship with those who see your social media content.

And LISTEN

Pay attention to the feedback and comments you get. When you get one that feels significant because you know it is a common opinion or misconception, respond to it. If someone has a complaint, handle it and then go inform other people of how a complaint came up and you were able to address it (keeping the complainant anonymous, of course unless they really insist on going public).

As you continue to inform your potential customers and respond to their needs and questions, you build a closer relationship. It’s that relationship that you are really looking for. This is the factor that will inject power into your social media marketing activities. It will take a while to build up to this point. The right time to start is right now.

Carlos Bernot