Online marketing

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 marketingOnline 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. A marketing consultant has the experience to develop a customer profile and set up online marketing campaigns to measure responses. Marketing small business online has never been so efficient.

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 search 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 Shep Morrow

Shepard Morrow, Your Search Engine Marketing Consultant

Realign Costs to Revenue through Sales Process Improvements

Quote Small Business ConsultingIf we think of a businesses success as relying on satisfying customer needs, and who can argue this is critical, there is no more important aspect of operations than the sales and order fulfillment functions that make up the sales process. As organizations grow, they need to continuously analyze and refine their processes to ensure they are doing business as effectively and efficiently as possible. Fine-tuning processes can give an organization a competitive advantage. Process improvement initiatives, however, require a commitment, and this is difficult for most businesses to consider in the daily routine of "getting the work" done. This where our small business consulting services come in.

A company's sales process should generate Inquiries.Sales Process Improvement

Process improvement is a strategy and a tool to help an organization meet its long term goals and objectives. One key goal for all organizations is to meet the needs of their clients. Clients’ needs change – whether due to economic conditions, competitive offerings, or shifting demographics. Continuously reviewing processes for potential improvements and efficiencies enables companies to adapt effectively to their clients’ changing needs.

Sometimes improving one process may inadvertently have an adverse affect on other processes. For example, let’s say a company changes its lead generation method. Once that process is improved, it becomes apparent that the improvement in that process has created higher call volume and an increased need for taking orders on the phone. A project management approach would address such issues as part of the process mapping plan, and the order taking process would have been reviewed as an extension of the sales order process. Or, the initial project would have been assessed to determine if making changes to the sales order process would be beneficial to the company as a whole, given investments needed for other parts of the company.

Location Traffic's Small Business Consulting Services can guide you through defining a sales process and integrating the internet into that process as an automated Lead Generation system

Small Business Consulting and Internet ROI

An increase in Web traffic is just the beginning, that web traffic goes through a Sales Funnel on the website, to enable the visitor's themselves to further qualify themself, and become a Lead.

Next is where our expertise in Consulting with businesses and using the Internet for lead generation and conversions came into play. We look at the entire sales process and each touchpoint is an opportunity for business marketing:

  • Phone system – how are calls routed?
  • Was it easy to place an order: by phone, online?
  • Were the order receipts branded ?
  • How did the email system work ?

    Website sales funnel generates leads

B2B Sales Process and Lead Management

In a B2B SALES PROCESS the steps of receiving, qualifying, routing and closing sales leads must occur over time. Think about the life of a lead. What do you do with that lead once its received? How do you integrate the information from that lead into your CRM system? How do you qualify it? When is the lead sent to sales for a phone contact? What do you do with it if it’s not ready for sales? Without a detailed sales process to address these questions, sales and marketing will be challenged every step of the way.

A sound Sales Process has the following characteristics:

  • Focus on Quality of Leads, Not Just Quantity
  • An effective lead management process will assign "readiness" of leads that are generated.
  • It is about Engaging the potential customer at various stages in their buying decision process.

Your website supports your Marketing StrategyCompanies that implement lead management as part of their sales process will achieve, and be able to measure…

  • Higher marketing campaign effectiveness
  • Higher conversion rates of their prospects
  • An increased return on their marketing and sales investments
The Internet and your website support your sales process. A website automates part of the Lead generation and conversion processes. But first and formost, a solid Business and Marketing strategy are necessary. Location Traffic can work with you to ensure your Internet Marketing Strategy, and website support your Business Strategy. At Location Traffic an Internet Marketing Consultant will work with you to priortize the steps.
Posted: 3/5/2012 4:42:29 PM by Shep Morrow

Online Marketing for the New Year: What to Expect in 2014

The internet evolves at lightning-fast speeds – and online marketing changes with it.

The businesses that are most successful at using the internet to drive sales are forward-thinking, flexible, and ready to adapt to new strategies as the landscape of the Internet changes. As 2013 draws to an end, now seems like the perfect time to look at what we can expect in the coming year.

First, let’s briefly look at an overview of Internet marketing’s past to give ourselves some better context.

The Beginning of Internet Marketing: Keyword Cramming and Link Building

Those who were working in the industry during the early days of the Internet may remember that, when SEO marketing began, it wasn’t particularly refined. Before Google, the biggest names in search engines were Yahoo!, HotBot, and AltaVista—all of which determined ranking largely by the frequency of words that appeared on a web page.

This meant that anyone who understood SEO could easily cram a whole bunch of keywords onto their page without sharing any really valuable content and still rank in the first page of search results. It was an easy trick for marketers, but it wasn’t particularly helpful for anyone who actually wanted to use the Internet to find products and services.

When Google came onto the scene in 1998, they quickly began changing the way we think about SEO. They introduced the idea of using links from other websites as another important metric. Essentially, the idea was that if other websites are sharing links to your site, you must be a reputable source. Google’s new system led to the practice of link building and sharing guest posts on other sites, which we still see a lot of today.

This past year, Google introduced a new search algorithm called Hummingbird, and online marketers are being forced to revise the way they think about link building and other traditional SEO practices. Let’s look at how Hummingbird and other Internet tendencies are going to continue to shape internet marketing in 2014.

Hummingbird Will Change the Way We Think About SEO

There are whole companies that have been built around the idea of creating SEO links… and they’re either going to have to rethink their strategy or go the way of the dinosaurs now that Google has changed the way they evaluate links.

SEO marketers already had to reevaluate their strategies in 2011 when Google introduced Panda, an update that targeted sites using “shady” linking practices (such as posting links on low-quality sites with lots of ads) and punished offenders in the search engine rankings. Now, Hummingbird is even more refined and looks at things like the context of content, bounce rate, social sharing, and time spent on a site to determine whether you’re actually linking to quality content.

So how will these affect the strategy of internet marketing going forward?

1.    The Human Element Matters

Google’s goal has always been to deliver what web users are looking for, and web users want authoritative information and answers to their queries, not keyword-stuffed web pages and bad links. With that in mind, online marketers are going to be focusing much more on content marketing than traditional SEO practices in 2014.

Online marketers will need to produce content that informs and/or entertains their readers, and they’ll also need to engage with consumers through social media platforms in order to become a strong voice in their industry.

Google+ is also going to be an essential tool for online marketers. (If you haven’t created an account yet, you should.) Google Authorship allows you to become an authoritative voice by attaching your image and a link to your Google+ profile to the online content you create, and while we’re not quite sure what weight they carry yet, it’s reasonable to say that the +1’s you can gain will impact your site’s rankings.

2.    Web Design Matters

You probably already know that if you have a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the late ‘90s, web users are quickly going to bounce away. However, what you may not have known is that Google pays attention to your website’s appearance, as well.

The Panda update actually allowed Google to check sites for quality and the kind of “user experience” they offered, with high-quality sites being rewarded in the rankings.

In 2014, good web design is going to be even more important. Now is the time to update your website’s design (with a focus on generating sales – not just an attractive aesthetic) if you haven’t already.

3.    Mobile Is the Reigning King

Speaking of web designers, you’ll want to work with someone who has experience with mobile platforms, because mobile marketing is going to be an even bigger deal this upcoming year.
In 2012, 46% of Americans owned a smartphone, and that number rose to 56% in 2013. As smartphones get cheaper and more accessible, that number is going to rise even higher, which means that a lot of people are going to be accessing the Internet on their phones.

If your website is not optimized for viewing on a mobile screen, your audience will quickly find another site from a mobile-friendly competitor that can meet their needs. Not only that, Google is now generating different search results depending on if you’re using a computer or a phone, and sites that aren’t optimized for mobile are going to sink below those that are.

4.    If You’re Not Active on Social Media Yet…You Should Be

Although Google won’t say exactly how social engagement affects your SEO rankings, it certainly seems that the sites doing a good job of maintaining a social media presence are faring well.  

Think about it: if you’re engaging with followers across multiple platforms, you’re increasing awareness of your brand and encouraging others to talk about you. When you start building up buzz, you drive traffic back to your site. Staying active on social media has been a good practice for businesses ever since websites like Facebook and Twitter became such integral parts of the way we communicate online, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Will Your Business Harness the Power of Internet Marketing in 2014?

It’s always been the job of the marketer to pay attention to trends in communication, and now that smartphones and the Internet are a part of everyday life, we need to pay even closer attention.
The businesses that fare best in 2014 (and the long-term) will be the ones who can adapt to new practices and communicate effectively with the modern consumer.

Posted: 1/6/2014 10:50:06 AM by Shep Morrow

Internet Marketing: Family Business

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.

Family Business: Internet MarketingTwo 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:
  • Yelp
  • Citysearch
  • Google Places
  • UrbanSpoon (for restaurants)
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.

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 to rank for 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. Contact a Marketing Consultant at Location Traffic.
Posted: 1/11/2013 12:36:28 PM by Shep Morrow

Making the connection between an Owner Operator and their Business

Where we diverge from most Internet Marketing companies is our special understanding of businesses that are closely held companies, most often Owner Operator managed. We have found that these businesses gain thier very identity from the stregnth of the personna projected by the individual running the operation. It is his, or her, unique personnality that customers have related to over time, and it is critical in transitioning the business into the digital age to fully capture that personna, or embellish on it, as part of the communication of the Brand.

In fact, this process often leads to some very signifigant transitions for the owner. As they begin to externalize their concept of Brand/Business they find themselves freed to work on their business and not in their business. This can be a liberating transition, and often leads to clearer focus on revenue growth, profitability, and even exit strategy.

How does the process begin?

In increasing numbers, consumers are searching for and engaging with local businesses by using the internet. Both on a cell phone while already out shopping, or from a desktop while researching products and stores, consumers are using digital media in place of phone books to locate local businesses. Location Traffic can provide everything a business needs to optimize a Web Presence and get found online.

We consult with you to create and execute the perfect Web Presence strategy for you, and your business. Our general steps look something like below:

  • Set up your social profiles, online directories, and a custom web site that serves as your content hub

  • Develop a Content Strategy that drives the unique content we create about your business across the Web

  • Listen for mentions, comments, and reviews of your business and engage with consumers.

  • Utilize analytics data from consumer response to develop new content and engagement tactics

Integrating the Owner Operators professional network

Once the initial layers of the existing business information are in place, we are often asked how to integrate the owner’s professional network with the content hub that has been created. This is especially relevant for B to B type organizations, or companies that rely on professional credentialing for referrals. At this point Location Traffic reviews the individual’s web presence (online reputation), and creates a plan to update, and integrate relevant social platforms. Our process may involve developing a set of unique statements for the individual, creating or modifying a part of their business web site, to re-writing a resume. We then distribute this communication message, over time, to multiple platforms as a way of projecting the business’s persona and substantiating creditability.

Posted: 5/14/2011 1:46:39 PM by Shep Morrow

Internet Advertising for Local Business

Why Every SEO Strategy Should include Local Search Marketing:

Online Internet Advertising - Internet Advertising for Local Business

Internet Advertising for Local businessMost Retail and Service Businesses draw customers from a radius around their locations. To effectively attract customers, in our age of mobile search, internet advertising for local business can be accomplished using several online marketing techniques.

The first concept of internet advertising today is “engagement” and encouraging a prospect to engage with your company as resource, it’s not advertising as it used to be. Local Search Marketing is about “proximity” and Optimizing Business Listings Online so searchers find and consider what you offer. That’s true whether you have a single location serving just one neighborhood or a franchise with hundreds of locations across the nation.

Why? Since the 2012 Google algorithm updated named “Venice,” the company has served up results based on your location – whether it’s included in the query or not. That means that someone in New Jersey will get entirely different results from someone in California – even though they searched for the exact same terms.

If you run a national or regional business, you want to ensure that your business appears on that first page regardless of where people are searching.  And, of course, if you serve a smaller geographic area, your business needs to dominate the search results for those locations.

The 3 Most Effective Strategies for Local Search Marketing

Local Listings and Maps
Many customers aren’t using traditional search engines to find local businesses. They’re on directory and review sites trying to locate those businesses with the best reputations. There are hundreds of these sites, and some are also industry-specific. Each site has different requirements, features, and other ways to enhance your listing, such as including photos, videos, and product listings. You can also expand your reach and convert more leads through announcements, deals, limited time offers, and other promotions.

But it’s also important that you’re monitoring your reputation on the sites that allow for customer feedback. Just a few bad reviews can drop your rating and drive customers into the arms of your competitors. Google itself allows for reviews, but it also links to other review sites. So even if you have a stellar rating on Google, your reputation on other less important directories may still impact your ability to convert a lead.Online Business Review
Not staying on top of these maps and listing sites can mean inaccurate or outdated information about your business, and that can cost you sales. You can learn more about how your specific business is listed with this free scan.

Also, each of these listings is a “citation” that confirms your business name, address, and phone number, and even if they don’t actually link back to your website, these citations are as valuable (or maybe more valuable) than other inbound links when it comes to Google’s ranking algorithm for geo-targeted searches. That means the more your business is listed with the same (exact) business name, address, and phone number, the more likely you are to achieve a higher ranking in search results, which brings us to the next local SEO marketing strategy…

Local Organic Search Results

Hyper-local searches are more likely to produce results, driving foot traffic to your store or converting into an online sale. The difference is the intent of the searcher. For example, someone searching for “personal injury” may just be looking for general research on the topic, but a search for “personal injury attorney in New Jersey” is much more likely to actually be seeking to hire someone. These geo-target keyword searches are more likely to bring action-oriented searchers to your website.

Let’s take a look at how different the search results can look for a branded search versus a local search.
Just using the term “In-N-Out” brings up the main corporate site at the top, an attention-grabbing information box with the logo (from Google's Knowledge Graph), and multiple locations near the Austin area.

But if you add local keywords to the inquiry, you get a very different result. The corporate website doesn’t appear until the third result, no locations are listed, and there’s no prominent display of the company logo.
Local Paid Click Ads

Building a solid local SEO strategy takes time, but there’s one way to reach that coveted first page immediately: a pay-per-click ad campaign. Your ad will appear higher than the organic search results, and 40% of consumers aren’t even aware it’s an ad.

Pay-Per-Click adsThe localization of all search results also means that single-location and regional businesses are now facing stiffer competition from national chains getting in on the game.  After all, that 10-pack only showcases 10 businesses, even if there are dozens of competitors in your area.

The good news is that you may actually have a leg up on these corporations if you’ve already built a strong presence for local keywords. But even if you’re just getting in the game, a PPC campaign can help level the field and ensure you’re still achieving visibility in your community.

But it’s not just enough to target local keywords. You also need to optimize the ad itself for local searchers with AdWords’ Location Extension. It dynamically adds your business’s name, address, phone number, and a link to a map. It’s just a click away for them to get directions and appear at your doorstep:

internet advertising for local business
If you have multiple locations, you can set it up to display those closest to the searcher:
Location Traffic is an Internet Marketing company that can help build your Business Listings Online, and prioritize the steps of Internet Advertising for Local Business.

Have questions about your business’s local SEO strategy?

Call Location Traffic at 609-737-8667 for a free consultation.

Posted: 3/17/2014 10:25:51 AM by Shep Morrow