Author Archive
  • Website not generating leads? Here’s how to turn that around

    businessman using laptopWhile it’s wonderful that websites exist to bring awareness to your product or service to the more than 20 million shoppers currently online, there is a downside: there’s lots of competition out there. Which means your website may be getting lost in the shuffle. And which also means your leads aren’t what they should be.

    This could be for a lot of reasons. As you take a critical look at your website, keep an eye out for these common mistakes:

    Complicated design: How is the navigation on your website? Can your visitors easily find your landing pages as well as your products and/or services pages? If your website is too complicated and people can’t find what they’re looking for, you’ll need to do a redesign.

    No clear call-to-actions: When people visit your website, what do you want them to do? Having clear call-to-actions are crucially important to generate leads and it can be done through a variety of ways. Some popular call-to-actions include an email newsletter sign-up, a contest, a giveaway, a whitepaper, an ebook, or a discount or some other kind of promotion. Make sure the call-to-action is easily visible through a button above the fold on your homepage or landing page.

    No email marketing plan: Believe it or not, there are companies that still do not email their customers regularly. Sending out an email at least once a week is a great way to continually receive new traffic on your website. Your traffic, however, will only grow if you add more email subscribers daily. A good way to do this is by occasionally offering something for free like an ebook, a whitepaper, or a contest or prize giveaway.

    Low or no social media or SEO presence: If you’re not receiving much traffic on your website, you’ll need to take a good look at your social media and SEO efforts. Social media can help bring in a steady stream of visitors as well as more engagement to your site, especially if you’re offering something your audience wants. Along with social media, you’ll need to make sure your website is driving enough organic traffic for targeted keywords on search engines. SEO will bring in more traffic than even social media and PPC combined if it is done correctly.

    Lack of landing pages: Many company websites are missing landing pages, which are crucial for online marketing efforts. Landing pages drive consumers to your call-to-actions so they don’t have to hunt through the navigation on your homepage to find the ebook, whitepaper, giveaway, contest, or promotion you are offering. Landing pages will also help you capture more email addresses and accurately measure online traffic.

    As you can see, there are plenty of things that can prevent the success of your website. Make sure you’re avoiding the things mentioned above so you can drive more online traffic.

    Do any of these five things accurately describe your website or do you have any other questions about how to generate more leads online? If so, leave a comment below.

  • Developing authenticity on social media

    social-mediaHow does it feel when you realize you’re being pitched something? Do you get a little twitchy and anxious to move on to something more meaningful and fulfilling when you see a clear attempt to sell you on a product? We all do.

    With this in mind, being authentic on social is key to success, but how do you do it?

    Authenticity is all about being genuine, which sounds simple, and it mostly is — once you have a couple of tips under your belt.

    Fries before Guys — As with any marketing project, priorities are important in social media. More than sales or brand awareness, your main goal should be offering valuable information. So before you get into the sales pitch or behind-the-scenes corporate stuff, make sure you’re providing tips and advice that’s relevant to your followers. Be a resource and promote the sharing of ideas. That — and the occasional cat video — will give your followers a reason to keep coming back.

    Bye, Felicia — Don’t want your followers to dismiss your message or, worse, you? Stay away from the brand-speak. People want the real you, the person behind the company. To get them to care about you (and your business), engage like a real person would. Don’t refer to yourself as your business. Comment and ask questions. Provide valuable information just for the sake of it, rather than always asking for something in return.

    Messy Hair, Don’t Care — Life isn’t perfect, and your social media shouldn’t be either. By that, we mean you don’t have to use perfect grammar or big, fancy words in your social interactions. Communicate professionally but like you would if you were chatting with a colleague at the office or networking with someone over lunch. People trust people — and want to buy from people — who are real, flaws and all.

    It may be quick and easy to set up your online presence, but developing relationships takes time. Remaining consistently engaged and interacting authentically with your followers is the foundation that will build your social media success.

  • One successful strategy you may be overlooking in growing your online business: YOU

    Who am IIs your business lost in a crowded marketplace? You may be overlooking something that could differentiate your business from all those other competitors: YOU. Personal branding can be a powerful marketing strategy for small businesses, allowing an entrepreneur to capitalize on personal expertise and know-how to attract customers.

    Personal branding shouldn’t be the sole growth strategy for your business. But it fills a unique niche in an overall marketing plan, particularly if you have an aptitude for connecting with people via social media. The first step: get a social presence. Launch a Facebook page. Build a LinkedIn profile. Learn how to talk Twitter-style. But keep this in mind, cultivating a personal brand should never turn into a self-aggrandizing “look at how great I am” sales pitch. Also remember to aim for consistency in your online branding and your printed materials.

    Personal branding should not consist of an effort to emulate those marketing campaigns crafted by large companies. Although Madison Avenue-style marketing attracts lots of social media followers, it lacks a personal connection that’s so important to cultivating a local, trusted persona.

    So how do you stand apart from the crowd? Build a personal brand with a commitment to humility. (This is why we didn’t use a superhero for our photo.) Start with an attitude that readily acknowledges you are not a self-made success story. There are and were many people in your life who contributed to your business and helped your enterprise grow. Remember the neighboring businessman who gave you that first big break by referring you to a business-oriented network? And don’t forget about the customer who took the time to share the story of the excellent customer-service you provided in a time of need.

    The next step is to envision what kind of brand best fits you. What effect do you typically have on others? Is it a calming influence or are you a live wire who crackles with energy when you enter a room full of people? Do you see yourself as a hero, or a humble servant? Remember your personal brand should be built upon your authentic self. Never try to foster a brand that is counter to your basic nature.

    Above all, let others see your personal brand as you interact in your community, through high-quality printed materials, fun swag and consistent branding through all of your promotional collateral. Have fun with it, get out of your comfort zone and be willing to play up the part — zany, caring or flashy — as opportunity knocks. And definitely share your personal brand through social media channels. If you’ve always been one with a great sense of humor, you’ll find your personal brand may catch on like wildfire among your followers.

  • Defeating Goliath: How to make your small business stand out

    ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????As a small business with a limited budget, you might feel like you can’t compete with the big brands. You may, in fact, feel a bit like the little guy who is facing down a giant with no slingshot in sight. Thankfully, there are fundamental social techniques that any business, regardless of size, can use to maximize marketing efforts.

    1. Video: Video has become increasingly popular on social media, for good reason. Video is more immersive than text or images, allowing viewers to virtually step into your world. You may not be able to afford fancy camera equipment, exotic locations or elaborate sets, but you can still use video effectively. Use your smartphone to shoot footage and post it on YouTube. Or try Facebook Live.
    2. Customer Service: Social media is all about instant gratification. People expect lightning fast responses to customer service issues. You might not have a dedicated customer care team, but there are ways you can listen in socially. For example, you can set up Google alerts for your company name and get notified by email when it’s used online. Review the emails and respond as needed.
    3. Authenticity: One advantage small businesses have over big ones is authenticity. Large corporations can have a hard time showing their human side. It’s easier for small businesses to be real and connect individually with their audiences. To make that connection, use social media to give followers a glimpse behind the scenes of your business, highlight volunteer efforts and introduce employees.
    4. User-Generated Content: User-generated content is a terrific way to extend your reach, and you don’t have to be a brand behemoth to take advantage of it. Ask customers for reviews. Organize a contest for the best photo or video of your product. Create a dedicated hashtag so it’s easy for followers to participate.

    Social media has made it easier than ever to shine as brightly as the big brands. Try one – or all – of these strategies to give your business its time in the spotlight.

  • What does your online footprint say about your brand?

    Brand is king in the digital era. We interact with brands on social media, search algorithms match us with brands they believe we’ll buy, and on the most intimate level, some of us are encouraged to come up with a “personal brand” to further our professional lives.13746672 - footprints on sand dune, sahara desert, algeria

    But what does any of that actually mean? Why does brand-building matter, and what does a digital presence have to do with it?

    We’ve had brands for about as long as we’ve had traditional ads, and at the most basic level, branding hasn’t really changed — it’s how one product or company is distinguished from another. Think Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Marlboro etc. and you get the picture.

    Still, and maybe more importantly, there’s also an intangible element to the brand, a feeling customers associate with an organization based on the sum total of their experiences with its products and its marketing content. Is the organization professional? Is it smart? Funny? Does it seem catered to or inclusive of people like you? Those are implicit questions whose answers can define a brand by giving potential clients an expectation of what they will get when they interact with you.

    In its most basic form, your online footprint addresses those questions by telling the story of your organization. It’s fairly simple to answer the question of why you need to do this online — that’s where your customers are. Nearly 90 percent of adults in the U.S. make use of the Internet. When you break down the demographics, you’ll see almost 100 percent of people 18-49 years of age are on the web.

    What are those people seeing when they search for your organization on the Internet? Do they find a clean, professional web presence that accurately summarizes who you are, what you do, and why you matter? Or do they find nothing? Even worse, they might just be finding your competitors instead.

    For the majority of businesses, the stakes are too high to not be online. When it’s time to make the leap, work with a partner who will make it their mission to bring you the best digital strategies to make a strong niche where your customers go to find information that shapes their daily lives.

  • Are you making these online marketing mistakes?

    Serious middle aged executive manager explaining colleague online work

    Let’s say you sell garden supplies. When is the time to increase your SEO marketing efforts? If you said summer, that’s not exactly the right answer. In fact, you should probably begin your efforts well before the planting season, say late winter when people are starting to get tired of snow and want to begin purchasing seeds and other supplies for the garden they spend all year dreaming about.

    But don’t feel bad if you answered summer. Chalk it up to human nature. People procrastinate, which is why the first snowfall sends drivers herding into tire service waiting rooms.

    SEO is a powerful marketing tool. But when business owners cut the legs out from under their marketing by letting those seasonal opportunities slip by, a last-minute SEO dash won’t cut it. You’ve got to think six months ahead. When runway models are showing off the latest swimming suit fashions, if you’re selling beachwear, you’ve already missed the boat.

    The key is to put together an SEO marketing calendar, because many small to medium-sized merchants have such busy days they are often caught by surprise when the prime selling season is over.

    The other major pitfall is not having all of your social media buttons operational, or even worse — not having those channels connected to your website.

    And here’s another note of caution: Constructing intuitive site navigation is no simple thing. It requires an SEO professional that understands the nuances of how customers will interpret and navigate through your website. And seasonal opportunities to sell merchandise are often missed when merchants do not freshen web pages with new content.

    These oversights are the psychological equivalent of allowing spider webs to collect on your wares. Stale webpages don’t perform very well when Google and other search engines are indexing new websites at an incredible rate. Freshness is an important element in website rankings — so watch your timing!