Location Traffic Blog
Who Are Your Customers and How Can You Reach Them?
For any location-based business, such as a restaurant or retail store, the key is foot traffic. You need to get people in the door to make sales.
But how do you reach customers? Who are they? And where are they located?
Technology has made the process of researching local restaurants or retail stores easier than ever for your potential customers. Building a customer profile is no longer something only major national brands can afford. Any business – whether a regional chain, a franchise of a national chain, or a single location – can take advantage of data to develop a more specific, more cost effective, and better targeted local marketing strategy.
Local marketing consistently outperforms national campaigns for driving traffic and coupon redemption. It can be more relevant and timely at the moment when consumers are making purchase decisions.
Local Retail Marketing Develop a Geo-Targeted Strategy: Use Data Appending to create a Customer Profile
At the core of a strong local marketing strategy is a well defined customer profile that can be targeted to a local geography. Your promotions, community relations, social web content, and local search optimization should all work together to appeal to this target customer profile.
Gather customer information.
The first step is to get information from your current customers. By looking at store receipts or asking customers directly for basic information, you can take as few as 1,000 names, input their addresses into software, and develop a radius on a map of where customers are coming from. You can literally circle the areas that you’re currently reaching.
Append data and develop a customer profile.
From here, you can use the zip code and address information to add additional information: everything from your customers’ average income and age to family size and media habits. This information can then be used to develop a detailed profile of your core customers.
For example, in my work with a local bike shop, I found they had two types of core customers. The first is the “comfort-oriented” customer who is in the mid-30s to low-40s, wants a recreational product to enjoy with their family, is more price-oriented, and tends to value comfort over performance. The second is the “performance-oriented” customer who tends to go for longer, daily rides, is over 40, has higher discretionary income, rides in groups or by themselves for exercise, and highly values the performance of the bike. With this insight Location Traffic developed two distinctly unique marketing efforts.
In some cases, you may be surprised by what the data reveals about your clientele.
Target and expand.
Once you know who your customers are, you can take steps to locate and reach more of them. For example, you can buy lists based on the specific criteria you’ve developed in order to do a mailing, whether by postal mail or email.
Or if you find that you are not currently reaching the customers you want to, you can take steps to find out why and change that. This may involve a radical rethinking of your overall marketing strategy and business practices.
Develop a local marketing strategy.
Now that you know who and where you want to target, you need to develop the right local marketing effort to match.
Armed with your customer profile, you may also use different methods of reaching customer groups – mailings, flyers, social media, blogs, events – depending on what you learn about these potential customers. And you can better orient your branding and messaging to speak to potential leads. Here’s a basic example using the bike example above: a campaign aimed at the comfort-oriented customers at the bike shop might involve imagery of families biking together and focus on promotions, while a campaign targeting performance-oriented customers might use imagery of an riding group and provide more details about bike performance.
Since you know where your customers are located, or additional locations that you’d like to reach, you can build a strong local marketing campaign online, so that you come up when local searchers search for your type of business.
The result is a more specific, targeted campaign, more likely to be found by qualified leads interested in your products or services – and more likely to convert into a sale.
Drive traffic to your location with Location Traffic
Posted: 4/29/2013 9:20:15 AM by
As a business owner, you recognize that your company isn’t growing at the rate it could, and you know the internet is the key.
Maybe you’ve already seen inklings of the potential through running a PPC campaign or starting a company e-newsletter. Or perhaps you’ve just started dabbling in internet marketing by assigning certain tasks to existing employees – someone in sales writing a blog now and then, or a tech-savvy receptionist running your social networks. It’s also possible that you have barely dipped your toe in the water; maybe you just have a static website that hasn’t been updated in years.
Whatever the reason, you recognize the value of finding leads on the web and you’re ready to develop an internal internet marketing department, but you’re not sure where to start.
Organize your department around processes – not functional tasks. When initially designing the department, it can tempting to make a list of all the tasks that need to be completed and simply hire a person to fill each function: a web designer, a writer, a social media manager, a graphic designer, an SEO expert, and someone to manage them all.
For most companies, though, it makes more sense to outsource some of these capabilities, and instead hire talent internally to manage the processes and keep them running smoothly. Not only will you have lower overhead, you’ll see better results. These employees will be focusing on the ends (revenue generation) – not the means (designing a landing page).
Outsource your setup. When you’re first building the system, you’ll use different resources than after it’s up and running. For instance, it will take a lot more manpower to initially build your website than to update and maintain it later.
Many companies make the mistake of hiring a single internal web designer permanently, but this simply doesn’t make sense. If you hire a web design company, you’ll get your website up and running faster, likely have a better product in the end, and have less overhead. If it’s developed with a content management system, you’ll have no need for an internal web designer since knowledge of coding isn’t required to make an update. And if you do need a more complicated update in the future, you can simply hire the web design company on a contract basis again.
Below is a list of tasks that you should consider outsourcing, either entirely or partially.
- Content Development: Copy for web pages, blogs, e-newsletters, etc.
- Social Media: Socializing/distributing content that matches the conversations and keywords
- SEO-PPC: Link building, business listings, on-page optimization
- Site Development: Web design, graphic design, and programming
- Strategy Development: Including organizational training, analytical data review, and adjustments
Get guidance for infrastructure development. What tasks should be handled internally? What can be outsourced? Who are your customers, and how can you reach them on different channels? How can the overall sales process be improved to handle these new leads and convert more of them into sales?
These are the types of questions that I help my clients with as they first develop an internet marketing plan for their business. Like the example above about web design, creating the initial design and infrastructure requires a different set of skills than using dynamic data (analytics) to fine-tune the lead generation and conversion system possible with the internet.
It amazes me how often companies launch a new website, only to find that a good-looking design is not the only factor in getting leads. Hiring the right consultant can save thousands of dollars and lost time by getting it right the first time.
Once a proper web strategy is implemented, continual improvements are needed to adapt to the market and to company initiatives. Once a system is up and running, I meet with clients regularly to review the leads they’re getting (are they the right leads?) and how they are getting converted. I don’t just look at how the internet marketing department is functioning on its own, but also how it fits into the larger picture.
The potential with the web is unlimited. Many of my clients recognize that their internet marketing strategy is scalable, enabling them to grow into new fields, move into new territories, and continually leverage their brand for competitive advantage.
But it’s crucial to get the right strategy in place initially, develop an ongoing marketing effort to create the momentum for leads, and maintain constant vigilance about what customers are looking for and how best to meet their needs.
Posted: 3/25/2013 9:14:24 AM by
Prospects and Customers are more accessible than ever, when we get them to engage with a brand. Engagement in a digital environment leaves a data trail, as searchers interact with our content. As Marketing professionals we have access to more data about customers than ever before as we build out a content strategy to attract and retain clients.
For many, marketing activities are still a rear-view mirror activity. Research can take weeks or months, and developing a plan of attack is static. Generating leads and converting in a digital environment can become
more dynamic as we put customer data to work to capitalize on opportunities when prospects are still in front of you - and predict outcomes instead of just reporting information.
In a B2C environment we use data mining and analytical tools to:
- Understand the demographic and psychographic attributes of existing customers so you can target them more effectively
- Create hyper-local marketing strategies and messages that target prospects with similar attributes as existing customers
- Measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and local marketing investments based on how they are driving improvements in sales, retention, and customer loyalty
In a B2B environment we use data mining and analytical tools to:
- Understand site visitors and where they are in the buying process, then to apply those insights to define and improve conversion rates
- Create hyper-local marketing strategies and messages that target prospects with similar attributes as existing customers
- Measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and local marketing investments based on how they are driving improvements in leads and conversions
Online marketers rely on channels like email, online PR, search and social media to generate awareness, leads and sales. Without planned content designed to attract, engage and inspire action with prospects, customers and
industry influentials, companies may find themselves looking in the tail lights of their competitors in the distance. Tie your SEO, Social Media and Online Public Relations efforts together in a way that's manageable and
The discipline of marketing is shifting from a process of research and strategy formulation that gets implemented over months, to a creative and dynamic assimilation of data driven decision points that get modified in real time.
Posted: 3/18/2013 7:52:49 AM by
Every business has a specific audience that they want to reach because they believe that those people are far more likely to become good, long-term paying customers than the general population – your demographic.
For years, real world marketers have sought out ways to help businesses pinpoint their individual demographic using a variety of methods to research and study consumers, but even their best efforts ended up causing companies to cast a wider net and hit lots of people who only partially fit the profile.
Online marketing has changed all that by offering clearer and more detailed profiles than ever before, while creating a number of new kinds of targeted advertising that help businesses to reach people who are already searching for services like the ones they offer, as well as people likely to seek out their help in the future.
How exactly can online marketing do this for you?
Niche sites. On the surface, advertising your company on niche site doesn’t seem much different than picking a particular newspaper or indie radio station to run an ad. There are a few big differences though. The first is that even the least expensive of “broadcast” mediums tend to cost a lot more than anything on the web. The second is that the internet is so vast that you can almost guarantee that there is a specific audience for what you’re selling, no matter how specific it is. Third, on a niche site you have the ability to create a brand image at a fraction of the cost of traditional media.
Lists and sign-ups. This isn’t a new idea, but rather an old one in a new form. Whereas many companies used to (and still do) ask customers to sign up for catalogues and newsletters and mailing lists, lots of people are getting fed up with all the paper junk mail they receive. Most studies show that we aren’t as annoyed by email advertisements that we sign up for, though, so hitting people up in their inboxes can be a great way to go. And once people have agreed to let you advertise to them, you know they are much more likely to be convinced to buy something.
Content Marketing. Wikipedia describes content strategy as “…the practice of planning the content creation, delivery, and governance. A repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process…”
When we think of Content Marketing we think of the customer, where they are at in the sales process, and delivering them the information they need, in all the places they are searching for it, across each stage of the buying process. This requires creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
SEO. Search engine optimization is a way to bring people to your website who are already searching for the specific types of services that you offer. With well-executed SEO, when people type “buy power tools” into a Google search, your power tool company will appear at the top of their results and they will be more likely to come to you. Obviously it’s not quite as simple as that, but with the right keyword strategy for your web pages and blogs, and utilizing other SEO methods like building backlinks, you can very successfully target the market that’s actively looking to purchase your services.
Location-based marketing. If you run a business that’s mostly local, or you’re primarily interested in getting more customers close to home, local internet marketing is an offshoot of SEO that can help you corner your local market with just a few words. Let’s say your power tool business is in Bloomington, Indiana. Instead of “buy power tools,” you might want to use search terms like “buy power tools in Bloomington” or “Indiana power tools.”
By making your search terms more specific, you’re likely to find that fewer people are entering those searches, but you’ll also decrease the competition you face. This audience is far more likely to choose your business because you’re even closer to what they’re looking for. It can also greatly help with brick and mortar foot traffic, because research has shown that the vast majority of people try an internet search first when looking for businesses close to home.
PPC. Pay-per-click marketing uses advertisements that can either appear on specific niche sites that you believe your target audience frequents or show up when people search for particular terms. The upside of this kind of marketing is in the name itself – you only pay the company creating the ads when people actually click on them and come to your site. After that, it’s up to you to finalize the sale.
These are just some of the methods to pinpoint your audience online and use your advertising dollars smarter so that you increase your return on investment. The best online marketing gurus know that the landscape is constantly changing, so you always have to know what’s over the horizon and be ready for it.
Posted: 3/5/2013 10:53:17 AM by
Effective retail marketing addresses customers’ needs. The challenge is that, no matter what you are selling, your customers will have different needs. A pet store sells to owners of cats, dogs, birds, and more. A CD store caters to clientele with vastly different music tastes. So how can one marketing message speak to all their leads?
The answer is, of course, that it can’t. But now technology has made it easier than ever to send many different messages to groups that have similar needs through the use of segmenting and dynamic content.
Segmenting is exactly what it sounds like: breaking your customers up into groups based on certain criteria. This can include everything from basic demographics such as age and family size to psychographics such as interests and attitudes. Then you can use this information to generate dynamic content, which is a fancy way of saying that your content on your website or email will change depending on which segment the lead is in. You can use this to drive your leads to the right content marketing in order to convert that lead into a sale.
One of most effective ways to segment for retail is to identify the buying stage. But how do you identify what buying stage each lead is in?
Ask. It’s unlikely that your customers will know if they are in the Awareness Phase or not, but there are many other questions you can ask that can help you figure that out.
For instance, if you are selling baby products, knowing the age of your customer’s infant can go a long way towards determining her buying stage for particular projects. For example, a parent of a baby who is ready to start solid foods is likely in the Decision Phase for bowls, spoons, and bibs, but may just be entering the Awareness Phase for the next stage in their baby’s development.
Give your customers incentives to answer questions, such as free information or a discount on products. Then you can use the information to tailor their entire experience from your web page to your email marketing campaign.
Mine the data. You can also determine the buying stage by assessing your leads’ past behavior, such as:
For example, if a customer purchased the first installment in a DVD series and then logged on to your site to give it a 5-star rating, you can use this information to presume that he may be interested in the sequel and send him a targeted email message promoting it.
- Responses to Emails: Which messages did they open? What links have they clicked on?
- Actions Taken on Your Site: What pages have they visited? How long did they spend on each page?
- Commercial Interactions: Have they purchased from you before? If so, which products and services?
Expect an Increased Conversion Rate
The use of segmenting and dynamic content takes more time and effort upfront, but the pay-off can be huge. Here are just a few results reported from case studies involving dynamic content:
By speaking more directly to their customers’ needs, your content marketing will not just reach your audience but move them to take action – resulting in more profit for you.
- Hewlett Packard reported that implementing this strategy for their e-newsletter resulted in 300% higher open rates and 600% higher clickthrough rates.
- Image Beauty reported a 15% increase in opens, 27% lift in read rates, and 41% increase in click through after implementing dynamic content for their email campaigns.
- Savings.com sent deals tailored to subscribers’ preferences via email, resulting in an 88% boost to clickthrough rates.
- Sprint instituted dynamic content in their newsletter and found that the personalized image was the most clicked-through link each month.
Posted: 2/18/2013 12:15:23 PM by
Before you can understand how content marketing plays a role in the three stages of the B2B buying cycle, it’s important to make sure that you know exactly what content marketing is, and at what stage in the Internet Marketing process it needs to be used.
The simplest definition is that it is content that a business creates and shares in order to promote a service that they offer or a product that they want to sell. But in contrast with a typical advertisement that you might see on television, content marketing doesn’t have to directly mention the product, service, or even the company – at least in the earliest stages. Instead, the content should be designed to entertain or help people solve a problem. In this way, it serves the purpose of making businesses aware that there are solutions to issues they might be facing in addition to promoting your company as a thought leader.
Content that you find on social networks and in blogs, videos, white papers, articles, and case studies can all be considered forms of content marketing. When looking at the B2B buying cycle, it’s important to know the different stages and which kinds of content work best for each stage.
Stages of the B2B Buying Cycle
The B2B buying cycle has three stages or phases: the Awareness Phase, the Consideration Phase, and the Decision Phase. During each of these phases, the potential consumer is at a different place in their mental buying process, so the way that you engage them with content marketing should reflect that.
In the Awareness Phase, your potential customers know that something isn’t working right and that they need to fix it, but may not even be sure what the problem actually is. You can reach them in this phase by creating content marketing that pinpoints exactly what issues they are dealing with and defines what would be required to solve those issues.
For example, if you run a shipping company, you might create content detailing common shipping problems faced by the businesses you want to target – customers aren’t getting their orders fast enough, packages are damaged, and delivery personnel leave items unattended – and offer a solution. In this case, your content could suggest a more reputable shipping company that provides tracking information and has rules and standards in place to deal with such problems. Some of the best content marketing during these early stages utilizes:
- Social networks – You can quickly catch people’s attention with short posts, tweets, and so on that include statistics, pieces of relevant news, and links to more robust sources of information. The great thing about using social networks in the beginning is that you can cast a wide net for people on services that they already use, which makes it easy and unthreatening.
- Search engines – The easiest thing in the world to do is type your problem into a search engine and see what comes up. In the shipping example used above, someone at the company that’s experiencing problems might search for “shipping trouble,” “damaged packages,” “slow delivery,” or something else related to the issues they’re facing. Maybe they’re not even looking for another shipping company at that point, but if content from your company pops up and they take a look at it, you have a leg up at convincing them to go with you.
- White papers – These types of documents make an argument that a specific type of product or service is the best way to solve a particular problem, often using scientific studies and research to back up their claim. Because of the way these documents employ research and logical arguments, they are particularly valuable at this early stage to convince people that your solution to their problem is the right one.
At this point, your potential customers know what’s wrong and have an idea of how to fix it, but they might not be completely sure. They’re still researching different solutions to find the best fit for them, and will then move on to looking for people who can help them locally. Towards the end of this phase, they may even bring in several vendors to interview.
- Articles, blogs, and videos – Where are those links in social network posts taking people? To articles, blogs, videos, infographics, and other kinds of more in-depth content. The goal is to provide them with further information that will help them define their problem and come up with a way to fix it. This kind of content marketing is also valuable in the Awareness Phase, but people will use it more and more often as they start considering different options.
- Case studies – As potential customers examine their options, case studies are a fantastic way to get them to choose you. They help companies to see in greater detail how you dealt with specific businesses in the past and what your product or service was able to provide.
- Product literature – Businesses further narrow their focus by looking into product and service literature at this point. That means descriptions of your offerings and what you or your product will be able to do to make their lives easier.
White papers and search engine content marketing also continue to be effective as people focus more on specific products and businesses and their search terms narrow the playing field by becoming more local and more clearly defined. People may also sign up for email marketing at this point, but it becomes even more important in the final phase of the buying cycle.
As potential customers enter this final phase, they already have a pretty good idea what they want. All that’s left to do is compare their top choices and take a final look at cost and references to make sure they’re making the right decision. You can help to continue to push them in the direction of hiring you with the following kinds of content marketing at this stage.
- Email newsletters. Once you get someone to sign up for your newsletter, it means that you can market to them directly and tip the scales in your favor by letting them know about important new information and content all in one place, as well as possibly offering promotions and discounts to entice them. But the best part is that it comes to them, so all they have to do is open their email and start reading.
- Case studies, online videos, product literature, and search engines. All of these kinds of content marketing can still be used effectively in the Decision Phase because people may not have seen them earlier, or might be more willing to spend extra time with your products and services now that they’re trying to decide between you and just a few other businesses.
As you can see, it’s very important to tailor your content to fit people at different phases of the buying cycle. Someone who doesn’t know what their problem is yet won’t be interested in signing up for a newsletter, but companies on the verge of making a decision aren’t likely to be spending time on social networks looking at infographics, either. Know where people are more likely to turn at the various stages and you’ll have a better chance at making a sale.
Posted: 2/11/2013 1:55:50 PM by
From my experience as an SEO and business consultant, search results are typically several months ahead of sales trends, meaning that they can affectively predict the near future of sales.
Why does this happen? It makes complete sense if you think about it for a second. When you buy something substantial, most of the time you don’t just do it on a whim. The time lag between search results and sales trends is showing that people are researching before they actually make the purchase.
Is there any way that you can use this information to plan for the future and increase your overall business? Yes and yes. In fact, there are many ways that you can take advantage of the data from your site’s traffic as well as your local internet advertising results to serve your customers better. Just consider if you are a retailer the advantage this information can give you in retail marketing, promotions, and inventory management.
Educating people should come before selling them.
This should be standard practice in internet marketing overall, but your goal is a slow build to a sale. This involves providing customers with quality information and positioning yourself as a trusted expert. All the while, you should slowly incorporate more information that pertains to your product and business in order to “convert” them from a prospect into a sale.
For instance, if someone arrives on your site after clicking on your local internet advertising, you can bring them directly to resources like white papers, information videos, and blogs that educate them on their particular issue and then guides them to the right product or service to solve it.
The more you can do in these early stages to show that you know how to solve their need and that your products really are the best – without pushing the sale! – the more likely you are to get what you want in the end.
Promote new and emerging products.
If you know that most of the people currently researching won’t be buying anything for a month or two, it gives you a great opportunity to promote things in advance. This might be a recently released product that isn’t quite as popular as your sales leader yet, something that is set to come out shortly, or even an event that’s on the horizon.
You can focus on hot items by adjusting your local internet advertising campaign, tweaking your home page, and even changing up the layout of your brick and mortar location. By doing this now, you’re increasing the likelihood that more people will make purchases or be around for those things a few months down the road.
Manage your stock more efficiently.
If you have a product that’s inherently seasonal (swimming trunks or road salt, say), you probably have a pretty good idea when you should order more and when you can ease up. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t have that kind of clarity. Except that, by analyzing search results, we kind of do.
If you notice that lots of people are searching for a particular product or clicking through your local internet advertising for a particular service, it’s smart to increase your inventory for the likely sales you’re going to get in the upcoming months. Conversely, a lower number of searches or click-throughs are evidence that you might want to slow down and try to get rid of the stock you have before ordering more.
Posted: 1/19/2013 12:04:13 PM by
Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they’re go-getters who aren’t afraid of working long, hard hours, learning whatever new skills they need to succeed, and keeping a tight control over every facet of their business to make sure that everything goes according to plan. They’re like Burt in Mary Poppins with his one-man band, or a vaudeville performer spinning plates or basketballs on poles and racing back and forth to keep the whole thing from toppling over.
In the beginning, entrepreneurs and new business owners have to work this way because they’re often alone or part of an extremely small crew. They need to fight tooth and nail to get the company off the ground and keep it from going under.
But working this way is exhausting, stressful, and frustrating. On a personal level, it can lead to burnout, but for your business, it can cause mistakes. Long term concerns that are important to the business’s future (the things that the company head should be working on) tend to be pushed to the backburner in favor of tasks that absolutely have to be completed in a timely manner. And perhaps even more importantly, companies can’t expand if there’s only one person to handle every single task.
The solution is obvious: you have to take a step back from day-to-day operations so you can free yourself up for big picture problems. But saying that and doing it are two very different things, so here are some things you need to think about (and, possibly, fix) before you move full steam ahead.
Change your mindset. It’s not easy to go from the person who does everything to looking for new people to hire or current employees to develop to take on what have been your responsibilities. Not only will you have to learn new things (like how to scout potential workers, how to interview people effectively, and how to manage), you’ll need to break habits as well so that you aren’t constantly hovering over your employees and making them feel like you don’t have any trust in them.
Put systems into place. Delegating to employees doesn’t mean that you have to give up all of your control. In fact, before you hire people to sit at desks (or however it works in your company), it’s vital that you lay down the law in terms of how things should work. You need systems and procedures for how each department should work both independently and as a cohesive group for the betterment of the entire organization. This means learning how to put into words all of that plate-spinning that you were doing, as well as finding process improvements that you always intended to implement but never had time for while running yourself ragged.
Employees or freelancers? You may think that it doesn’t matter a whole lot as long as you get good people, but there are big differences between the two – both to your bottom line and in how much control you have over them. Hiring someone as an employee means that you can do things like hold work reviews, discipline them for poor work or behavioral issues, and (if they’re salaried) ask them to take on extra work for the good of the company without extra pay. However, you also may have to pay for things like extra taxes, insurance, and sick and vacation days, as well as less-considered amenities such as restrooms, break rooms, desks, computers, and so on. A good freelancer can be a fantastic way to get the help you need while still keeping your business lean and mean.
The right people… and the wrong ones. When hiring people, regardless of whether they’re freelancers or employees, it’s important that you take the time to ensure that they are the right ones for you and your business. That means they have to be smart and talented, obviously, but it’s just as important that you work well together and possess the ability to communicate effectively. No matter what, though, having someone work for you means that you’re creating the possibility that you may have to fire them if things don’t go well. With employees, that process is a lot harder than it is with freelancers.
You can do better than, well, you. As good as entrepreneurs are at wearing lots of hats, the best ones freely admit that there are a lot of people out there who are better at doing things like accounting, marketing, and whatever other tasks it takes to run the day-to-day operations. Sure, you can become moderately skilled in graphic design with a little research and practice, but don’t you think someone who’s been doing it for a decade will do a better job?
Consider a business consultant. If you’ve been mired in the day-to-day operations for some time now, it’s often hard to see the forest through the trees. While it’s true that no one knows your business like you do, sometimes being too close is the problem. You might want to look into working with an outside person who has experience running a business, has guided others go through this process, and is knowledgeable about the long-term, big picture issues you will now be focusing on. Business consulting with a consultant that understands internet marketing, and how to grow a business can be invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who need a different perspective.
No matter what, it’s all about delegation. Find the right people to come in and help you, and you’re ensuring that the regular operations of the business will run just fine without you so that you can free yourself up to concentrate on growth.
Posted: 1/14/2013 11:50:20 AM by
If you have a local family business that’s been around for a while but has now gotten into trouble or sales are slowing, chances are good that your success came from providing a high level of service and advertising locally via the Yellow Pages and through word of mouth courtesy of your long term clientele.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where change is happening faster and faster, and lots of small family businesses are getting left behind and forgotten.
Engaging in a major marketing push that involves radio, television, and billboards just isn’t in your budget, though, so you’re not sure what to do. How can you remind people that you’re there and attract more sales? In a closely held business change can be difficult, as often the culture is built on relying on the owner's specific way of doing things. Customers are percieved as the relationship the owner has had with specific clients.
Two simple words: get online.
The internet is ideally suited to help businesses with a lower level of cash flow to get the word out about what they do. In fact, online marketing can be more effective than traditional marketing methods when used corrected. The key is to find a professional who can work with you to create a plan that’s specific to your business and who knows how the market is trending and what the latest techniques are. That consultant must also have experience for facilitating change in a closely held business.The use of Internet Marketing can be the beginning of a new sales strategy, and can affect how the company is organized to serve customers and grow.
Get listed. Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of people don’t really use things like the Yellow Pages anymore. When they want to find a local business, they go online and type their search into Google. What that means for you is that you at least want to make sure that your business can be found on places like:
How you list your company can make a difference for how often you are found, so it’s helpful to consult with a professional. Then once it’s up and running, be sure to pay attention to the various directories just in case you receive any customer complaints; it’s always best to respond quickly and kindly so that other potential customers will see that you actually care about their experience.
- Google Places
- UrbanSpoon (for restaurants)
Create (or update) your website. A website will help potential customers to view you as a legitimate and viable choice, and if you do it well, can become extremely lucrative. You may already have a website, but if you’re interested in expanding your audience, this isn’t enough. You need an SEO (search engine optimization) plan that involves learning the search terms most likely to drive business to your company and figuring out where and how to implement it in conjunction with the site.
The best way to do this is to build the search terms you want into the DNA of the website itself by using the terms in the titles, headings, and subheadings of pages, as well as sprinkling them throughout the body of the content. Doing this makes search engines prioritize your site more, which will cause it to appear higher in search rankings.
Expand your online offerings. Digital marketing can also involve offering downloadable white papers to convert leads, online videos to showcase your expertise, a blog with ongoing content to keep your search rank high, and setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts to increase the number of ways that potential customers can reach you and find out about your content.
Doing this is not only a great way to bring in more business from nearby, but also let customers from around the country and the world to learn about you. Build an online cart and checkout system, and you might find yourself experiencing a nice bump in sales from areas you never would have expected.
The best part is that it costs a lot less to seek out people and engage with them online than it does to market in practically any other medium, and it’s a lot easier to tell if your methods are working or not. If you haven’t looked into internet marketing for your family business, and it’s remaining stagnant or floundering, there’s no time like the present.
Posted: 1/11/2013 12:36:28 PM by
A whopping 83 percent of people in the U.S. are now using the internet to search for local businesses, according to The Kelsey Group. That’s an amazing statistic, and one that every business – big or small, web-based or brick and mortar – needs to take note of.
In today’s world, lots of people won’t even try businesses unless they have websites or positive feedback on review sites. People want to see that you’re legit, and the internet has become the new way to get personal recommendations from your friends. With social media sites encouraging people to like businesses, sometimes this “recommendation from a friend” is even literal.
But why when you search for record stores in Bend, Oregon, does Johnny’s Records show up while Vinnie’s Vinyl doesn’t? Because of local internet marketing.
Local internet marketing includes aspects of broader forms of internet marketing like SEO, but makes it specific to your area so that it’s easier for you to attract customers in your neighborhood. Generally speaking, there are four practices that you want to engage in to make your local business stronger:
- Analyze your competition
- Utilize online directory service
- Engage in targeted email campaigns
- Incorporate location-based keywords
Analyze your competition.
Why is this so important? Because you want to steal customers from your local competitors. It might sound dirty when you put it that way, but the ebb and flow of customers from business to business is the heart and soul of the free market.
Sure, you want to create new customers where you can, but it is also vital that you siphon people from people competing with you if you want to grow and prosper. In order to do this using local internet marketing, you need to embark on a competitive analysis by researching who is offering similar products or services in your area and what methods they’re using to market themselves.
This is an especially valuable exercise to engage in before you start a business or when you’re ready to update your site. While looking around, you can get ideas about which methods you feel would be a good fit for your business and which wouldn’t, and learn from their mistakes so that you can be sure to improve upon everything that they’re doing.
What should you look at? Here’s a list to get you started.
- Website architecture
- Written content
- Visual design and images
- SEO usage
- Social media incorporation
- Link building
- Email list
Utilize online directory services.
This one is fairly straightforward and shouldn’t require much maintenance on your part. You want to make sure that your business is listed in all of the major directory services such as Yelp, Citysearch, and Google Places. Depending on your business, you may even find that there’s a good industry-specific directory such as UrbanSpoon for restaurants.
Fill out the form correctly and thoroughly, and if something ever changes (like your address or phone number), make sure to update it immediately. Also, it’s valuable for you to pay attention to any customer complaints on these sites. Some offer ways for you to respond.
Engage in targeted email campaigns.
If you don’t have an email list for your customers, you need to get one, because local email campaigns can work wonders. Just include a link on your website where people can sign up to receive special offers. Be sure to ask where they’re located as part of the process.
Studies have shown that simply mentioning a particular neighborhood or city increases the likelihood that recipients will open the email because it will feel more personalized. Plus, you’ll raise your search engine profile if you incorporate location-based keywords, which means that more people will see your site. What are location-based keywords? Glad you asked.
Incorporate location-based keywords.
Describing location-based keywords is pretty easy actually. All that it means is adding a location to your keyword phrase based on research using the Google AdWord Tool. For example, your Cincinnati-based shoe shine business might be using the keyword “shoe shine” for general SEO purposes, but researching the location tells you that you can help yourself by using “Cincinnati shoe shine” or “shoe shine in Cincinnati.”
Be careful to look at what your competition is doing and how entrenched they are with particular keywords. If they seem to have a pretty strong hold on a certain phrase, often it’s best to move on to one that you can control, even if it’s a lesser-used search term. These location-based keywords should be as thoroughly integrated into your site marketing as possible:
- Page titles
- Static and fluid content
- Blogs and white papers
- Video content
- Email marketing
- Blurbs that you post on directory sites
Tackle Local Internet Marketing from All Directions
The goal should include not only doing things better than your competitor, but becoming as multi-pronged as possible by having your website, social media pages, directory pages, and even emails working together to strengthen each other, allowing everything to build and get more eyeballs (and revenue) to your business.
Posted: 12/17/2012 9:31:32 AM by