The Importance of Social Media in Today’s SEO

yorkshire-columnIn today’s search engine optimization, social media giants like Facebook play a large part in the overall visibility of your business on the web.

While Google’s SEO team hasn’t admitted to this outright, there are a number of search engine optimization bloggers that agree: it appears that Google considers your business’s activity and engagement on Facebook when deciding where to rank your website.

Now, in all honesty, Google is never 100% upfront about what their system looks for when deciding the fate of every business out there — they make sure to include plenty of mystery in their generic hints. After all, if everyone knew how the system worked, it would defeat their purpose. They’re trying to find the best and most informative sites to feature in the organic rankings, not the ones who know the rules of how their game is played.

But — coincidence or not — there have been a number of instances of businesses with more activity on Facebook and other social platforms who find themselves with increased visibility in Google’s rankings.

In a broad view, it makes sense. Google’s bots are constantly crawling the web for relevant and useful content, and they weigh what they find for each company/website and determine how well that company should be rewarded in the rankings based off of their findings.

If a business is highly active on social media while sharing real value with their customers and prospects, that may help them rank higher in Google searches.

Additionally, there is also the factor of driving more and more interested traffic to your website from social media, which can also make you popular with Google. For instance, if you are getting more engaged traffic coming in from your actions across social media platforms, Google may reward you for having better performance in these areas:

  • The amount of time a user spends on each page
  • How long the average length of a visit to your site is
  • Bounce rate (percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately, without spending any amount of time on your website)

In summary, a good social media strategy can benefit you in two ways. It can increase your business by enabling people to find you through social media channels and it can strengthen your position with Google and boost you in search results.

But even when they’re aware of the value, many business owners still don’t know how to properly utilize their social media followings.

Is Social Media Really a One-Way Street?

One of the most common misconceptions we see among small business owners is that social media is a “one-way street,” so to speak. They view it as a platform from which to declare the merits of their products or services, and that’s about it.

The truth is, social media is just that — a social platform. Users don’t go on Facebook expecting to search for their next purchase or to locate which company to buy from. They go on to be social, to be entertained, informed and amused and to interact with their friends.

As a business, you can tap into the success of these social platforms by providing the interaction and entertainment these users are looking for. Savvy marketers will be able to brainstorm ideas of how to incorporate aspects of your products or services into posts that delight and elicit responses from viewers.

How to Separate Yourself From the Competition

yorkshireDo a little bit of research on your biggest competitor(s). Go check out their Facebook Pages and scroll through some of their posts. Are they just advertising their services or a special? Perhaps an occasional goodwill message like “Happy Holidays?”

Now go take a peek at the Facebook page of a brand that gets a ton of interaction on their posts like Groupon

Granted, you probably don’t have 17 million likes on your Page, so expecting that much interaction is unreal, but look at the type of questions they ask in their posts.

How about looking at a lesser-known brand, like Yorkshire Tea? In the examples below, you’ll see how they respond to posts in a friendly, personal way. It humanizes the brand and, we expect, increases loyalty.

How can you start posting like these brands, and gaining the interaction and loyal following they have?

 

Making Social Media Work For Your Business

Here are a few rules of thumb when it comes to increasing engagement (shares, comments, reactions) to your posts:

  1. Post a picture that will catch the eye of someone scrolling through their newsfeed. Whether it looks beautiful, tasty, or just plain weird, post
  2. something that will get someone to stop and glance at it for a moment.
  3. Rather than promoting your services, ask your fans a question.

Here’s how Groupon does it:

groupon

What’s With This Pokémon GO Craze & How Can I Make Money Off of It?

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If you’re under fifty, work with people under forty, or take occasional walks around your town, you’ve probably heard about the latest craze: Pokémon GO. Already the most downloaded app in U.S. history, this game has users in a frenzy to “catch ‘em all,” as the slogan goes.

What is Pokémon GO? Simply described, it’s a smartphone game that uses the GPS and clock to detect your location and match it to your progress in the downloadable game. If there’s a Pokémon character hidden somewhere in your location, it will show up on your phone. Keep moving around and you’ll find more game characters. It’s sort of like matching up true reality with virtual reality. It’s surprisingly popular with the eighteen to thirty-four demographic.

Players’ phones will vibrate when they are near a Pokémon, at which point they need to take aim on their touch screen and throw a “PokéBall” to try to catch the creature. One object of the game is to try to catch all 150 Pokémon, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Avid players are running all over their towns, looking for the next catch.

You might be thinking, “That’s great but what does this have to do with marketing my business?” And to be honest, this article is only going to help out a certain number of our subscribers. But it’s worth a few minutes of your time to see if you might be one of them, or at least get some fresh ideas on how you can stay current in your marketing.

How’s It Work?

This game is driving tens of millions of users to go outside, walk around and participate in real-world activities, like going to the park or the beach or visiting local businesses to receive in-game benefits.

Where this gets exciting for you as a business owner is that there’s a way to flood certain businesses with these creatures with an in-game purchase called a “lure” — allowing users to see that your business is a veritable hot spot and urging them to come in to partake in the catching craze, all the while patronizing your place of business.
Attracting these waves of customers can be as cheap as just $1.19 an hour, but at the most, it costs just $.99 for a half an hour. Here’s what two local business owners posting on Reddit had to say about the effectiveness of this tactic:

“We did this last night (college town), and within minutes of dropping the lure, 30 people walked in.”
“I own a pizzeria that’s a Pokestop and I literally did this all day. I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out.”

You’re probably wondering if this would work for your business, so let’s dive right into it.

Which Businesses Are Able to Participate?

Unfortunately — and this is the less exciting part — only certain businesses are featured within the game.
There are a couple different ways a business can appear within the game, if so featured:

POKE-2As a PokéStop: this is what you want your business to be, or to at least have one near your business. These “stops” are where players (called “trainers) can restock on supplies in the game as often as every five minutes.

POKE-3As a Gym: these are the “training” facilities for trainers, and while not as valuable to businesses as PokéStops at first glance, these gyms should still attract a steady crowd, and can still be used to your advantage.

PokéStops are particularly exciting, because these are the only locations where these lures can be dropped. There isn’t yet a map of PokéStops or gyms, but chances are there’s someone around you right now that has the game installed and can show you whether or not your business is either a PokéStop or a gym.

How to Get Started Driving Customers With Pokémon GO

If you have a PokéStop nearby, it’s worth buying a lure or two to try the tactic out to see if it drives traffic for your business. Here’s what a lure looks like within the game (and what potential customers will see to draw them in):

As you can see, there might be a lot of other people in your area with the same idea. Keep in mind these lures may be purchased by players, or by savvy businesses to keep customers in their stores. It’s smart to put out a sign of some sort advertising what you’re doing, and any current specials for players.

If you’re featured as a gym, not a PokéStop, you likely won’t have the same volume of players coming by, but you will probably have rival team members coming by to stake their claim and maintain control of the gym.

POKE-6Signs have been popping up all over the internet with discounts offered to whichever team is currently in control of the gym (team names are: Mystic, Valor, and Instinct).

If you do decide to try either of these tactics, I highly recommend getting the word out there through social media, and even dropping a few bucks in boosting a Facebook post to make sure players in your area know that you have (or will have) lures out, or that you’re offering a discount to trainers of the current prevailing team.

Even if your business isn’t featured in the game, you can still capitalize on this craze! One local bar in St. Petersburg, FL, offered half off bar tabs to anyone who showed the bartender a Pokémon that they captured in the bar. There have also been Pokémon bar crawls popping up all over Facebook as well.

With a little creativity, and a knowledge of what your customer base is looking for, I’d be willing to bet you can turn this craze into new customers — and big money — for just about any business with a storefront!

POKE-5While the maker of the game hasn’t yet announced a way for businesses to become featured in the game as a PokéStop or a gym, there has been overwhelming interest in the subject, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they came out with something along these lines before too long.

While you can be pretty certain this craze won’t last forever, you can definitely make the most out of the next few weeks, or months, that it is carrying on strong, and work to win over those new customers you do bring in, to keep their business long after this trend is over!

For a step-by-step explanation of how this tactic works, check out the full article here. For more great ideas on how to keep your digital marketing fresh, call Visual Edge Design!

Using Email Follow-up to Increase Buyer Frequency & Maximize Profits

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Email Marketing
As a small business owner, your eye should always be on one of four goals in order to grow your business:

  1. Increase the number of leads you’re getting
  2. Increase the number of customers you have
  3. Increase the amount of profit you get on each customer
  4. Increase buyer frequency

Today, we’re going to show you a key strategy you can use to increase buyer frequency and therefore make more money from your existing customers. We’ll show you how to modernize the age-old concept of customer follow-up by utilizing email technology applicable to any market.

Email follow-up has been around for decades, but it still isn’t being used enough or correctly. And when you can set up a follow-up system that does the work for you — one that has the potential to double or triple your profit — why not take advantage of that strategy?

If you can spend money just once to acquire a customer and continue profiting from that customer for weeks, months, or even years, that maximizes your profit from every customer.

First, let’s answer a few simple questions:

What’s Your Moneymaker?

  • What has your average customer already bought from you? If you only sell a couple of products or services, which is your most popular? If you sell many, which are your top sellers?
  • What else might that average customer want to buy from you? (The same product or service after a while? The same product or service immediately? A corresponding product that will help them better utilize what they’ve already bought from you? Now’s your chance to list it out — get specific!)
    • If someone got a haircut from you two months ago, maybe it’s time to remind them to stop back in for a trim or let them know that you offer facials and manicures.
    • If someone purchased an insurance policy from you a year ago, you might want to find out if anything has changed in their coverage needs.
    • If someone has purchased a book on learning to play the piano, is there a DVD you could offer them with additional instructional videos to make it easier for them?
  • If you offer informational-based products or physical products, is there a service that you could offer that would help your customers accomplish their goals faster than using the product on their own?
    • If someone has purchased a weight loss supplement, perhaps you could offer a diet plan, an exercise plan or a workout DVD to help them achieve their goals quicker.
    • If someone bought a piece of sporting equipment, how about offering them lessons?
    • For a customer of musical instruments or books, you could offer music lessons or set up a workshop in your business and invite former customers in.
    • A scuba shop that sold someone equipment could offer a dive vacation or more advanced certification.

For some businesses, it might be easy to come up with the right answers, but for some, it might be tricky to answer each of these questions. It’s important that you really take a few minutes to think through your service list or your inventory, and get some solid ideas in mind for this exercise, otherwise there won’t be anything actionable for you at the end of this newsletter.

Have you got those answers in mind now? Good!

Getting Started

The next thing you’re going to want is automated email follow-up software. One of the most popular and inexpensive programs on the market today is MailChimp. But if you think a more robust system would better serve your needs, InfusionSoft is a great application that can help your business scale to the next level (and then some!).

If you are just getting started and have a very small customer list, you may not need to get an automated system just yet, but you’ll still want to implement the same techniques manually. Plus MailChimp is free for smaller accounts!

Prepping Your List

A great way to organize your customer list is by which product or service they purchased. It’s even better if you can also organize them by the product or service they might be interested in next.

In MailChimp, this is done through separating your customers into different lists. In InfusionSoft and other CRMs (Customer Relationship Management programs) this is done through “tagging,” labelling each contact in a certain way. Some CRM programs may have a different name for this function.

Separating customers into lists or tagging them allows you to easily put together a mailing for a particular segment of your list. It also makes it very easy to automate email follow-up, so that you can set something up once and let it work for you on autopilot from there.

Crafting The Right Message

Every market is different and as a business owner, you undoubtedly know your market. If you give it some thought, you’ll probably be able to come up with an angle for your offer that makes it nearly irresistible for your customers.

It might be as simple as asking them, “Want some help with that?” To someone facing a challenging task with little knowledge of the area, that offer might come at just the right moment.

Like just about everything with marketing, it requires some testing to see which copy, images (or no images) and headlines bring you the best results. Keep your copy and offer highly relevant to your customer, their purchase, and their area of interest for best results.

Get Going

Start by keeping it simple — identify your customers by their interests and which product or service would come next for them naturally and make them a great offer on it, one that’s personalized to them.

Once you’ve got the feel of email follow-up, you can do some more research and begin adjusting and testing different elements. But remember that any follow-up is far better than no follow-up. If you haven’t been following up with past customers yet, you’re very likely to see some serious improvement by sending out any messages, even if they are rough at first.

And, as always, if you need help with that, all you have to do is ask the team here at Visual Edge Design!

How to Capitalize on Your Existing Website Traffic to Maximize Your ROI

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Traffic-CTA-ROI
Let’s talk about using your website to market to the traffic you’re already bringing in. That’s right, I said using your site — as in, taking action with it. Having a great looking website that is mobile friendly, easy to navigate and gets found on Google is the first part of the equation. But there’s plenty more you can do to bring in even more results from your site and create the kind of expansion you went into business to achieve.

That might sound broad, but let’s dive into a few specific actions you can take today to start getting more customers and making more money from your website.

First off, let’s analyze what happens to visitors who do come to your site. Depending on the purpose of your site, you may be directing them to reach out to you to set up an appointment, request a free estimate or come into your storefront to purchase the products or services they need. Or, if you have an e-commerce site, your goal is obviously to get them to buy immediately (or as close to it as possible). But what happens if the visitor leaves your site without filling out a form, giving you a call, making a purchase, or visiting your establishment?

The fact is that a site visitor will usually decide whether or not your website has what they’re looking for within nine seconds. If you don’t catch their attention in that time (or even if they stick around for a bit and decide to leave without “converting” to a lead or a sale), they’re gone forever — or are they?

Repetition is Key

While the number of times a consumer must see the same message before acting varies according to the study done, general consensus is a minimum of three to five viewings of the same message are required before a consumer will decide to take action to find out more or (hopefully) purchase your product or service. But in a marketplace that relies on repetition to generate sales, how do you keep from losing the hundreds, if not thousands, of potential customers that are currently visiting your site only once?

The answer is that you must capture their identity so you can send them those repeat messages. You have several options of how to do this and thus get more opportunities to prove to them that you are the company they are looking for.

One common and highly successful way is to incorporate a sign-up or opt-in form on your site that offers them an exclusive deal if they join your mailing list. The more specific your offer, the more successful your opt-in form will be. For example, if you have a hair salon, rather than saying:

“Join our mailing list and get 10% off your first service,” you might say:

“Get your first haircut for just $29 when you join our mailing list!”

Not only will you gain a new customer for that first haircut, you will have multiple future opportunities to win their continued business through your excellent service, your e-mail campaigns and more special offers to bring them back to your shop.

If you decide to engage in paid advertising (which can be extremely inexpensive and bring serious bang for your buck), there are tools that can be used on your site to place a cookie — a piece of code that identifies each visitor as someone who has already visited your site — on your visitors’ browsers so that you can later send specific ads to them to remind them why they need you.

One specific and effective method of paid advertising is to boost or promote a particular piece of content from your site through Facebook. You can spend as little or as much as you’re comfortable with, whether that’s $1 a day or $10. Facebook can find users who are likely to be interested in your content and display your post in their Timelines. Once they visit your site, you use one of the techniques discussed here to add them to a specific list so that you have the opportunity to advertise to them again later, should you choose to do so. To clarify that concept, here’s an example.

As the hair salon owner, you add a post to your website’s blog on how to choose the right hairstyle for your face shape. (You DO have a blog on your website, don’t you?) You could reasonably deduce that visitors to that article are interested in a new hairstyle that flatters their faces. You could then share that post on Facebook and tell Facebook how much you are willing to pay to put that post in front of those who have shown an interest in hairstyles. Your blog post should include a very specific offer, maybe for a free consultation to find the right style for their face shape, or $29 for their first haircut, etc.

Again, this can be extremely inexpensive and targeted to exactly the clientele you’re looking to reach. But your website needs to have an enticing blog or other content to get them interested in your services or opt-in forms with great offers that will get them on your mailing list. And the site must rank well in Google search results or you won’t even be able to get that far. Visual Edge Design has the marketing, design, SEO, and content skill set your site needs to bring you the business you’re looking for. Give us a call today if you’d like to get more business from your website.

Google Shifts Online Community to Mobile-Friendly Search Results

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When Google sneezes, the entire worldwide online community says, “Bless you.”

That’s another way of saying that many businesses live and die by their rankings in Google search results. So if Google makes a change in the way they index websites and offers search results, smart webmasters everywhere are quick to catch up. Very often, this has meant many webmasters putting their heads together to decipher the changes that must have been made. That’s because Google often makes these changes without prior announcement – sometimes without any announcement at all.

This time, however, it was different. Google announced a major change months ahead of time. Back in February, Google staff announced that as of the 21st of April, sites would need to be mobile-friendly to compete for top search result placement.

That announcement on the Google Webmaster blog stated:

“We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps.” What does this mean, exactly?

1. As of April 21st, websites configured to display well on smartphones or tablets as well as desktops and laptops will have an advantage. Google wants to serve up results with a good appearance and functionality on all devices so obsolete sites will start to rank lower in mobile search results. (Desktop search results will not change.)

2. Google will also offer search results obtained from “relevant apps.” We’ll explain what that means.

Google scans websites for specific information that tells them what that website is about. Some websites also double as applications that people can use to help them get information, take action or make choices and they may sign into these apps as needed. These website/apps include Pinterest, Orbitz, TripAdvisor, Etsy, Walmart, Yelp, Zillow, Buzzfeed, Twitter, Autotrader or ABC News. Until now, these apps were not scanned to include their information in mobile search results. Now, information from these sites will be given preference over sites that have not been updated to perform as well on a mobile platform.

We’ll give you an example to show you how this will work. Suppose a person has the app TripAdvisor installed on his smartphone and he performs a Google search for restaurants in San Francisco. Among his search results could be a few listings from TripAdvisor. If he clicks on one, he won’t be taken to the restaurant’s site, he’ll be taken to the mobile-friendly Trip Advisor app where he can read reviews for that restaurant.

Google always has its eye on the future. Phones are mutating into slim portable computers, which means that an increasing number of people do their searches on their phones. In fact, in 2014, MORE people are doing mobile searches than desktop searches. Google’s mission is to provide quality relevant content – and now, being mobile-friendly is an essential part of that quality.

Check out this graph to see why this is such an important issue for Google.

CaptureGraphBlog

The days of throwing up some interesting content and some attractive images and expecting them to draw business are long gone – if they ever existed at all. If a website is part of a company’s success, that site must keep pace with the changes the online world goes through. For a website to consistently rank high in Google’s search results, it must be continually updated in appearance and functionality.

This is no small task. Pages must be designed to load quickly on a mobile device. A mobile site must emphasize the functionality that your customers will want on the fly. For example, if your customers will search for products on your site, the search function will probably need to be redesigned to enable easier use on a smartphone. The same with a purchasing function. What you’re looking for is conversions – that’s when visitors to your site “convert” into buyers, subscribers, fans or whatever it is you want them to do. That conversion process looks and acts different on a mobile device and your site must accommodate these roaming visitors.

If you haven’t already done it, you should have your website maintenance company convert your site to a mobile-friendly structure and thoroughly test it for any errors. Google has provided the tools for analysis and guidelines for conversion. If you haven’t tended to this task yet, call Visual Edge Design today to get started.

Graph from http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

Greater Mobility Means Your Clients Could be Looking at Your Website From Anywhere in Town

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The big news of the moment is the increase in internet use on mobile devices. In 2014, the number of mobile users finally matched the number of desktop users and in 2015, it’s expected to keep climbing steeply. The number of desktop users is only expected to make minor growth in 2015.

In 2014, both these numbers were at roughly 1.6 BILLION users. This is a dramatic change from 2007 when desktop users numbered about 1.1 billion and mobile hovered around 400 million.

So what does this mean to you? It means that location is more important than ever. Not only should potential customers be able to easily locate your business in their geographic area, it becomes even more important if you think of all those mobile people looking for your business while they are away from home. This indicates a need for a special kind of optimization for your existing website.

Research indicates that between 80% and 90% of consumers search the internet before making a purchase. Some of these people will be making these searches while they are sitting in their car, trying to figure out the best place to go get their (haircut, new shoes, dog grooming, car repair, insurance, lawnmower, etc.). Your website not only should show up high in the search results for your category, it should show up even higher in the search results for the area they are in.

A few years ago, did you ever try searching for a local business like a florist or hardware store? You wanted to find a place you could walk into right then and walk out with the bouquet you needed in your hand. Until about two years ago, the top listings in the search results were always national companies. They had the money to invest to beat out smaller local companies. Google realized that people need to find businesses close to them much of the time and changed the way they provided search results. Now, if you search for a florist in Clearwater, Florida, your top search results will actually be local businesses. That’s because Google realizes those are the most relevant search results for most people making that type of search.

So if you have multiple locations for your business, you need to be highly accessible to people searching for vendors in every one of those locations. Say you own a string of auto repair shops located along Route 66. You’ll need to have specialized websites that show up well in the search results for folks in Flagstaff, St. Louis, Amarillo and Tucumcari. What’s more, those websites also need to be designed to show up well on mobile.

So when Jason is sitting in his car on the shoulder of Route 66, trying to figure out where to get a new battery for his car because it just barely started the last time, the website for your auto repair shop should be the first thing he sees on his smartphone when he does a desperate search looking for immediate help.

We can help you keep up with the demands for accurate local search and mobile both. This industry is changing fast and to keep on top, you need to update your site regularly. Just call us for a review of your current site and we’ll let you know what we can do for you to keep you #1.

Get Ready for the Next Big Thing in Marketing: Conversion Marketing

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This is your chance to be ahead of the curve in understanding a new marketing trend – a trend that is just beginning to make its first waves. I’ll tell you exactly what Conversion Marketing is, but first, let me give you a little background.

Internet marketing basically tracks with the way Google operates. As the automated processes of this gigantic software machine become more and more sophisticated, websites have gone through mutation after mutation, trying to keep up. Google’s purpose is to develop the programming that results in users receiving the most relevant, useful content in response to their search requests. As Google passed through each new phase, web developers scrambled to figure out the latest system being used and then, unfortunately, all too often tried to work out ways to scam the processes. For awhile, the best scammers arrived at the top of the search results and better-quality sites were shut out.

For a few years, we had a lot of websites that people could barely read. But because they were filled with the right keywords, Google offered them at the top of the search results. The problem was that they omitted persuasive sales copy. They might land at the top of the search results, but no one would ever buy anything after landing on that page.

That Was Followed by the Backlink Storm

Then there was the era of buying, trading or otherwise acquiring backlinks. This meant that another site (the more prestigious, the better) placed links on their site that led back to your website. This was supposed to mean that some other site owner found your content relevant and useful. What it ended up meaning, really, was that some sites began to sell backlinks to anyone. “Link farms” sprang up – these were groups of sites that all linked to each other. Well, this practice got so out of hand that finally, Google began penalizing sites with too many backlinks. Penalizing, in Google terms, means that if you would normally have shown up on page two of their search results, now you end up on page 355.

In general, Google is working hard to deliver the goods. Their refinements, while painful at times, have been moving in the right direction. Now, when you search for “Florist, Mobile, Alabama,” you actually get a list of florists in that city, rather than a lot of listings for brokers like FTD Florists who will send your order to a shop in Mobile and take their cut.

Taking a Cue from Google

What Google values now is content that readers find valuable. They advise you to “create a useful, information-rich site.” “Make pages primarily for users, not search engines.” “Think about what makes your site unique, valuable and engaging.”

So now we find ourselves in this this brave new world of content that is valuable and engaging for consumers. The next big wave that is predicted is the business of shaping that content to convert visitors to your site into purchasers, members, subscribers or supporters. In essence, you are activating them. Perhaps you’re a non-profit and you just want them to come carry signs at your next human rights demonstration. But a cosmetics company would want people to become buyers. On the way to becoming buyers, however, their visitors might first be newsletter subscribers or free sample recipients.

So a new type of marketing is now developing, Conversion Marketing. Have you ever started an online purchase and then abandoned the shopping cart because you changed your mind or found a better deal somewhere else? Any company with a shopping cart wants to make sure you make it all the way to “SUBMIT.” So an easy shopping experience, customer feedback after the sale and sharp customer service all contribute to the conversion of as many site visitors as possible into customers. Also, emails telling you your product has been shipped or asking about satisfaction with the sale enhance their ability to build that loyal relationship with you.

Have you ever visited a site and suddenly seen a chat window pop open or a figure appears and begins talking to you? These are some of the conversion marketing techniques being used.

The more a site can scrape up any personalized information to offer you by tracking your path through their site, the more likely you are to stay on the site and buy something. Have you ever noticed when you are thinking of buying something on Amazon, they will tell you what other people bought WITH the item you are considering? And Netflix offers you other movies that are similar to the one you just watched.

A site should also make it completely painless to sign up for newsletters, download free items, find a phone number to call, learn your location, your hours and so on. Once you read an article about restoring vintage cars, you should be offered free tutorial videos relevant to car restoration and oh, by the way, here’s where you can buy parts for your ’57 Chevy or ’67 Mustang.

As internet marketing grows into maturity, it’s a relief to see that marketing methods are being directed at the consumer where they always belonged, not at the automation that is Google’s vast indexing machine. With intelligent Conversion Marketing, people actually find products and services they are interested in. A company has a chance, finally, to build a real relationship with customers because they are talking to the right people and offering them the right products. Everyone benefits. Except the scammers, who have, fortunately, gone to the end of the line where they belong.

Using Facebook to Promote Your Business

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In the US, if an adult is online at all, there’s a very good chance he or she is on Facebook. Seventy-one percent of these online adults include Facebook in their social media activity. Of course, some are far more active than others. More than 120 million people in the US are on Facebook every day and 179 million visit once a month or more. The number of people accessing Facebook via smartphone is growing fast, too. Now, more than 140 million people access Facebook at least once a month via their phones.

Pretty much every business should have a Facebook presence. It’s really not difficult but of course, to get anything out of it, you have to be smart about it and you have to be consistent.

The first thing you need to do is to create a Facebook Page for your business. This is formatted differently than your personal Profile page. Some of the functionality is different and there are some great services added to these pages that help you maximize the benefit of your time spent maintaining this Page.

If you have not done so yet, create a Facebook Page. Add a picture of the building your business is in, if applicable, to the banner across the top of the page. In the small profile image space, post an image of yourself or your staff.

It’s important to make your Page as complete as possible. So fill in the About page as fully as the questions apply to your business.

Some people create a banner for the top of the page that includes both images and their phone number. Don’t make it a flagrant advertisement. Remember that the purpose of Facebook is engagement and interaction. You’re going to invite people to enjoy your online presence, not hard sell them.

For many companies, what comes next is a lot harder than getting the page all set up. You’re going to need to engage people’s interest in order to attract their business. Facebook is all about building an awareness of your business. When you do this skillfully, you bring viewers into a relationship with your business that can result in them walking in the door or visiting your website to learn more about your products or make purchases.

If you’ve ever spent any time on Facebook, then you know that plenty of people are running ads. You can certainly do this but you can also build up a lot of recognition for your company by interacting with potential customers on Facebook.

You’ll need to get a lot of people to Like your Page. If you have a Profile, log in as yourself and then search within Facebook for your new business Page. On the left side of the page, there should be a feature near the top that shows who has Liked your Page. There will be a small link under it that says “Invite your friends to like this page.” Your Facebook friends will be available through this link. Go through all your friends and family and invite them all to Like your business Page. Then get a couple of family and close friends to do the same (preferably people with large friend lists) and you will have a good start.

Once you have a following, build greater awareness of your company, its products or services and your philosophy of business (quality, customer service, etc.) by posting regularly. Focus on creating engaging content that would be of interest to anyone who might become a client or customer. Post testimonials from current customers, images of new products, notifications on sales or special offers and helpful information to help people understand how your products can improve their lives. And don’t just talk about what you sell. You can get very popular by frequently adding information about your field. If you’re a car repair shop, post notices about a new speedway opening or recalls from major manufacturers. Remind people how and when to winterize their cars. If you have a hair salon, post images of celebrities with trendy new hairstyles or tips on how to keep one’s hair from being damaged by sun or winter cold.

Just think of that friend you have who always knows the latest news and fills you in. He doesn’t push the information on you, just offers it. And it’s always interesting. Model your comments after someone like this.

Managing a Facebook page and advertising is an extensive subject that we don’t have the room to cover here! There are many books written to help a businessperson get up to speed and Facebook itself has many tutorials. If you’re going to get started, just focus on spreading good news and generating a greater awareness of your products and services and that will be a good start.

Why Many Companies Neglect One of their Most Valuable Business Assets

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There’s a very simple thing any business can do to increase their reach into the right audiences but they toss the assets that would enable them to do it into the garbage. In this day of electronic communication, it’s ludicrous that anyone would mismanage these assets but I still run into companies doing it.

What asset am I talking about? I’m talking about the identities of everyone you come in contact with as you do business.

I was recently consulting a company that provides an expensive but vital service. Because the service is pricey, many people may be interested but don’t financially qualify. So this company has people calling and emailing them all the time but many of these sales cycles don’t go through. After these transactions, all these leads were put in envelopes and stashed in boxes that were shoved in a corner. I spent some time convincing them that every time a person calls or emails, that identity must be carefully retained in a form that makes it easy to contact them in the future. A person who does not qualify now may qualify in a year or two. Or they may run into someone who does qualify and if you have been contacting them regularly – say with an emailed newsletter or helpful information – they will remember you and mention you to other people.

Awhile back, I used to take my car to a little out-of-the-way garage. The guys who worked there were like my uncles. Completely reliable, excellent mechanics. One day I noticed their records of their past sales. They were credit card slips spilling out of boxes in the back room. I’ve also seen this kind of record keeping in more sophisticated businesses – vital information on customers and the results of their service kept stored in boxes in the garage.

The identities of the people who have purchased from you or indicated that they were interested in your products or services are invaluable assets. They should be collected and maintained in some kind of useable form – database, spreadsheet – even sorted into file folders is better than nothing. You’d eventually have to get them into a form that enables them to be emailed, phoned or mailed to but at least that is a start at preserving them.

Once you have collected and preserved these assets, you should next work out ways to communicate with them regularly. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to get fancy. And you don’t have to use every outreach effort to push your product hard. The primary thing is to keep yourself alive in their minds.

Do you sell patio furniture? Look for the most delicious grilling recipes you can find and send them along to your former or potential customers one month. Next month, send them tips on how to keep gnats and mosquitoes away while they are enjoying the backyard. Now, if you’re sending a postcard or an email, you can tuck a special offer or a discount in the margins. This business could really pour the coals on in the spring, sending out splashy advertising on all their new shipments or special pre-summer sales events. Because they have been helpful and interesting all year round, their former or potential customers are more likely to have a favorable impression of the company and will be more likely to give that pre-summer sales event some thought.

You can operate in a similar manner in the online and social media worlds. Give people a good reason to be interested in you and then collect those identities. On Facebook, this means getting people to “like” your page. On your website, it means offering something valuable that just requires providing an email address to receive. You don’t even have to think about whether or not you should contact them later – just do it! You must also be sure to give them an easy way to unsubscribe or opt out of your messages so you can keep your list clean.

 

So why do people ignore this valuable asset? Simply because they didn’t know that these identities could be turned into future sales. Some companies rely on word of mouth or referrals from other businesses but they are losing all the potential of these people who have already expressed an interest or who purchased from them in the past. You don’t have to put a lot of money into each name but keep the relationship alive by being helpful and interesting.

 

Above all, just be sure you are collecting and preserving the identities of everyone who contacts you with an interest in your product or service, along with at least one method of reaching them. If it takes you a little while to work out what to do with them, you will have collected a resource pool of identities to work with when you’re ready.

 

And of course, if you need to know what to do with them, we certainly know how to help you with that. Call us any time for our expert advice.

The Google-Mandated Migration to HTTPS: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

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Most people know that Google is the biggest search engine in the world. More people use Google to locate the data they want than any other browser – by far! What this means, then, is that businesses are dependent on the way Google offers search results. When Google shifts the way their programming selects and offers results – called their algorithm – businesses had better pay attention and keep up with those changes. They risk falling in the search results if they don’t. 

To give you a little background before I explain what HTTPS is, in the past four years or so, Google has made a number of significant changes. Sometimes they explain what has changed and sometimes they don’t.

You may or may not know that you can use a service called Google Analytics to watch how many people visit your site, how many pages they visit, which pages perform better than others and similar data. When Google makes these shifts, you can very quickly see if your site is performing better or worse.

Here’s an example of how Google’s modifications can change a company’s result. In August 2013, a site I’ve been working with saw its results decline severely. We all studied the changes and made some changes and the site began to climb slowly. In May of this year, Google made another change and the company saw the number of visitors to the site jump up considerably, back to the prior year’s level.

Now, Google is encouraging all site owners to switch to a different website technology – HTTPS. As motivation for this change, sites that use this more secure system will rank higher in the search results that Google offers up.

HTTP refers to the language used for building websites. It’s this language that enables you to place live links on your web pages that carry you instantly to a new page. When you add the S to HTTP, this refers to Secure Socket Layer, an encryption process. When you send information across the internet on an HTTPS site, your data is encrypted and is unavailable to whoever might be snagging information from this traffic. If you have an HTTP site, the data is freely available to anyone who can trap these bits of data.

Shopping and banking sites are normally HTTPS. You might be browsing on HTTP pages and then when you go to buy something, that new page is HTTPS.

To see this in action, go to Amazon.com. Find a book you might like to buy. The address at the top of the browser window will start with “www.amazon.com.” Add the book to your shopping cart and then move on to checkout. Now the web address starts with HTTPS.

So shopping carts and confidential reports to government or law enforcement agencies (for example) use this more secure foundation for their sites. Google wants ALL sites to shift over to this system.

When preparing your site for this change, your content and design remain exactly the same. Some of the settings of your site will change and you’ll need the the service of a company that offers this security protocol. The good news is that we can handle this for you. All you need to do is tell us that you’re ready for this shift.

Remember, this change should make your site rise in the Google rankings and that is valuable. A better position in Google search result enables you to put more dollars in your pocket. And your customers who know about the increased security offered by HTTPS know you are offering them a more secure browsing experience. In these days of hacked websites, that’s valuable.

By making this change now, you will have an advantage that millions of other sites do not yet have. Call us any time and we’ll let you know exactly what will be involved in updating your site to HTTPS.