17/06/18 Content Marketing

A Minuscule 10% of Local SMBs Have Any Marketing Staff, The State of Local Marketing Report Finds

Of all the aspects of operating a business (customer service, production, service provision, sales, accounting, operations etc…) poor marketing gets the least attention.

And most often, none at all.

BrandMuscle’s State of Local Marketing Report for 2018 found only 10% of local SMBs use any marketing staff at all. 7% have a dedicated in-house employee on staff. Just 3% have a vendor’s help.

Why Do Most SMBs Overlook Marketing?

Typically, it’s because marketing’s ROI is the most difficult to prove. With sales, you know whether you’re closing deals or not.

But with marketing, how do you know exactly what brought a new customer to you?

Did they read your blog, view your website, talk to your staff, click a PPC ad, or respond to an email?

It’s hard to figure out how much each interaction with your company had to do with you acquiring the customer.

Since proving ROI can be difficult, SMBs often become reluctant to hire marketing out.

…But You Still Gotta Try Marketing Tactics

The best marketers are the biggest brands. They pour millions of dollars each year into marketing.

Think Old Spice, Dos Equis, Miller, Corona, Budweiser, Toyota, Lexus, Coke, McDonald’s, Nike – or any of your own favorite brands.

They keep their market share because they know how to appeal to their market segments.

That type of marketing takes decades to develop.

But even though it’s out of your reach, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be marketing.

So my advice is to try small, controlled experiments until you find what works well for your SMB.

Because, after all, 90% of local SMBs don’t do marketing. So when you find what works, you have a huge advantage over your competition.

8 Possible Marketing Tactics to Try

Take a look at just a few marketing tactics that make sense for you to try – and one pro and con for each:

  1. Website/SEO – Get the best ROI for the dollars you invest; may take 12-18 months before you see results
  2. Direct snail-mail – Easy to track results and fast response; can be hard to find someone who does it well.
  3. Google Paid Ads – Lots of data and easy to track results; can cost a fair amount early on while you work out the imperfections.
  4. Radio – Works well for name recognition and branding; hard to track ROI.
  5. Facebook – Great data and access to specific market segments; can have higher startup costs in early stages.
  6. TV – Excellent name recognition and branding; rarely generates a good response.
  7. Writing Expert Articles – Can quickly generate a flood of good leads; can be boom-or-bust and require months of trial-and-error before you succeed.
  8. Cross-Promotion with Other Local Businesses – A great way to reach customers with a likely interest in what you offer; you have to make sure you offer your promotional partner similar results they offer you.

So even though I’m an SEO and recommend SEO, it’s far from the only way to market your business locally in 2018.  

It’s a great long-term strategy when you have an agency you trust. But there’s other tactics you can use too that also create predictable revenue streams.

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07/05/18 Content Marketing

3 Advanced Sales-Boosting Website Conversion Techniques

Keywords. Traffic. Rankings.

These things are all good…

But what do you really want from your website?

Sales!

Right?

Because that’s what keeps you in business after all, yes?

SEO’s code word for sales is “conversions.”

You hear this more general term because it could also refer to newsletter subscribers, product sales, contact form requests, or service sales.

It can be a broad term, depending on the source.

But when I use it here today, I mean “sales” – cash in your company’s pocket.

The average website converts 2% of traffic into paying customers.

Even though a 50% improvement results in just a 3% conversion rate, you still get 50% more profit in your coffers.

So for those websites that convert well above average, what are some advanced techniques they use?

These:

Exit-Intent Popups

Typically, you think pop-ups only annoy. They do in some cases. But when used right, they capture a substantial amount of business.

Affordable tools, like Sumo, allow you to customize when popups appear and exactly what they say. Then you test the heck out of them until you find what works.

“Exit-intent” pop-ups appear when people on your site hover their cursor over the “X” in the upper right of their browser.

Instead of living, you could hit them with a 10-20% discount on an item (and get their email address). You’d have to test offers to find the highest converting one specific to your business and website (because every website is different).

But it certainly presents a great opportunity to win more business.

Use Sticky Bars – AKA “Nanobars”

You’ve likely seen these before. Basically, they’re a small bar at the top of your website that follows your visitor as they scroll down the page.

You do give them the power to close the bar if they want.

However, you increase your conversions by giving your most persuasive offer. If you sell a service, maybe you give a limited-time offer of 25% off to just the next 5 customers.

If you sell products, maybe you notify your customers of a site wide sale that’s only good for the next 72 hours.

Again, you have to test the offer structures to find what works best. But, another opportunity to increase your conversions.

A/B Test Your Marketing Messaging

Called “split testing,” you can now get free tools (through Google and others) that allow you to easily test one variant of a website against another.

What you say in certain areas of your website (especially your titles) affects your conversions.

…Like a lot!

You could easily increase your conversions 100-300% by testing different titles.

Where do you find ideas for your titles?

Easy. Anywhere you can find reviews:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • A niche review site like Avvo (a law directory for lawyers)

You can even use your competitor’s reviews to cross-reference and gain more certainty of what messages to test.

As long as the messaging applies to your company and you can deliver on the promise it makes, it’s totally fine to use.

Look for words and phrases people use over and over for the highest-selling ideas.

Conversion Doesn’t End There

Those are just some simple low-time, high-return conversion techniques you can use starting now.

However, entire websites with millions of words of information dedicated to conversion optimization exist.

Companies exist who charge 7 figures or more to do “conversion optimization.”

So, it gets highly sophisticated.

For now, you’re at least loaded with a few high-return techniques to grow your sales.

And that’s something no business can object to!

Contact us at Best Dallas SEO for to let us help you throug onling marketing.

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27/03/18 Content Marketing

New Court Decision Could Have Dramatic Copyright and Linking Implications for Small Blogs

It’s not often the courts get involved in anything that impacts SEO. But it does happen.

And you do hear controversy…but usually, it turns into a whole lotta nothing.  

In this case, the impact’s pretty far-reaching.

If the judge’s decision is upheld, it could expose practically any website (and especially those with blogs) to costly lawsuits.

What’s the Big Deal?

Federal Judge Katherine Forrest (based in New York) found embedding a Tweet that includes a copyrighted photo could make you liable for copyright infringement.

Embedding” means you include a link with code from a third-party source that allows you to display their content.

The story is that Justin Goldman took a photo of Tom Brady meeting with Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge in an attempt to lure Kevin Durant to the Celtics. Goldman uploaded the photo to Snapchat, where it went viral and was taken for use and embedding by a number of sports media outlets (Yahoo, Gannett, Time, Boston Globe, and many others).

Judge Forrest rejected the argument that, if upheld, her ruling could affect millions of websites.  

And interestingly, her ruling goes against past precedents.

You could possibly defend yourself from copyright infringement by arguing fair use. But of course, if you’re threatened as a small business, you would probably just back down to save yourself time and money.

Judge Forrest also qualified her ruling a bit, noting that it’s not clear whether Goldman released his image into the public domain by posting it to his Snapchat account. And she also said limitations on innocent infringement exist.

But nonetheless, her ruling contains far-reaching implications for the entire internet.

What Should You Do?

Right now, you don’t have to do anything. No one has proven embedding someone else’s content constitutes copyright infringement.

At the same time, since using images and media remains such a contentious issue, make sure you stay fully within the law to the best of your ability.

If you take a screenshot of someone else’s work online, link back to their website and give them credit.

You can paraphrase an idea without crediting the source. But if you quote it, again, link back.

When you do use images, and especially stock images, make sure you buy them or have permission to use them.

Some images can be used without mentioning the site you got them from – but make sure the website’s owner tells you that explicitly.

If you’re supposed to buy the image, pay for it. But, for what it’s worth, remember that stock photos don’t do you much good in terms of attracting readership or paying customers. In fact, they usually hurt you. They might look cool sometimes, but they don’t necessarily improve your bottom line.

And FYI – companies like Getty Images (who owns large stock-photo sites like iStockphoto) do sneaky and nasty things like installing special tracking code within their images. Then, if you copy, save, and use their image, they hunt you down and threaten you with a lawsuit – unless you pay their unreasonably high fee.

White-collar crime at its best!

For now, you can use the embedded content. But, exercise caution as I just described so you protect yourself.

And, keep your eyes and ears peeled to this blog and others for updates on how this pressing issue might affect you.

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20/03/18 Content Marketing

How to Do a Content Audit in 2018

Have you ever done a “content audit?”

By now, you should have more content in your blog than you can easily keep track of.

With content, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, confused, and out of your strategy.

Plus, this topic doesn’t get discussed a ton.

And then in small and local business, you already have more than your fair share of battles to fight.

…Now I’m recommending you add another item to your list that gets longer every day?

Yep.

What You Want to Learn

When all’s said and done, you want your content to grow your business, right?

Otherwise, why do you create it?

Here are the top goals and metrics you can use to measure your progress:

 

Sales

 

At the small and local business level, this is difficult. No one reads your blog post and excitedly dials your phone.

That’s just not how content works for any business!  

In reality, they read your blog, email, e-book, or whatever. And they do this several times over the course of months, or maybe a couple years. Then, because they remember your information and find it so useful, they give you a buzz when they need your service.

It’s incredibly difficult to measure the precise role a blog post plays in the purchasing process.   

You can drive website visitors from your blog posts to a landing page with a form or unique phone number.

You could also do a correlational analysis. For example, when you notice an increase in your blog readership, you also see an increase in contacts on your website’s main contact form.

That’s less definitive proof.

But if you see a relationship, you know your blog plays a role.

This isn’t easy to measure. And it can require a high amount of customization based on your business and content strategy.

 

Organic Traffic Increase

 

Traffic leads to sales.

If you don’t get the traffic you want, this may mean you have an ineffective content strategy, no good way of promoting your content, the wrong type, or perhaps content that simply doesn’t interest your audience.

It takes months to increase your traffic because Google takes months to index your content.

And if you choose to promote your content actively, it can take months before your contacts actually publish their link to you.

But if you’re consistent in content creation, you should notice an increase in traffic over time.

 

Time On-Page

 

This one tells you whether you hit the mark with your content itself.

A couple aspects to consider:

  • Your content may not receive the time-on-page you want if you don’t have an interesting writer
  • Low times could also mean well-written topics, but a poor topic selection

Basically, you want to see greater than a minute for a 500-word blog post.

That puts you above average.

And if you see a couple or several minutes for a blog post of any kind, you’re knocking it out of the park.

In terms of topic selection, keep doing what you’re doing, and the traffic and sales will come.

…So that’s kind of a quick poor man’s content audit.

And remember, you may need to highly customize yours to accurately measure the effectiveness of your own strategy.

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31/01/18 Content Marketing

How to Write Content That Actually Generates Traffic and Customers

Ever get the advice to just write all kinds of content and then watch the traffic flow in?

What’s been your experience with that?

Got all the traffic you want?

Sadly, many companies don’t get all the traffic and sales they should from their content.

And yes, it does sometimes happen that companies flood the web with content…and end up with practically nothing for their effort.

So how do you create content that generates real business results?

Here’s how:

First, Understand What Works in Your Niche

Buzzsumo’s tool scans the web and finds the topics with the most shares. Just like Google, you simply enter a keyword to find what you want.
I entered a nondescript term, “accounting.”

Buzzsumo came back with:

search content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, several of the top-shared posts focus on controversial accounting topics. So clearly, that’s a good angle to use to get more shares.

You simply have to make sure you tie the topic back to your customers and show them the pain it could cause. For example, you might write a story about taxpayers overpaying by $2 billion.

Then, your accounting service lines up nicely as a solution that helps taxpayers save money and avoid overpaying.

This is just a quick analysis. Make sure you read a good 50 or so posts to get a good idea of what works in your niche.

Top the Best Content You Can Find

You’ll do quite nicely by simply creating your own version of what’s already proven popular.

…But you can do even better if you top the best you can find.  

This would be a long-term approach to content marketing. It results in consistently higher search rankings that last for years to come.

With the accounting example, you might use the overpaying angle as the opening story.

That gets real interest.

Then, you could share tips, both from yourself and other credible sources, that help taxpayers avoid overpaying.

…Except you don’t just stop with 3, 5, 7, or 10 lame tips.

You go way above and beyond, featuring 25, 50, or even 100.

Wouldn’t that make for a long post?

You bet.

But you see, since most companies aren’t willing to do the same amount of work, you give yourself a huge competitive advantage.

You may even be able to only write one such post per month.

…But that’s okay.

Because you’ve done something so different that most other companies won’t duplicate, you’ve got a much more secure position in search. Far more secure than pumping out 50 – 100 short posts throughout the entire year.

Promote to Attract Links

Is your blog not yet the go-to thousands of people read daily?

Admittedly, your blog may only have a few regular readers at this point.

…No problem!

Every small business deals with the same issue.

Putting in some good ol’ fashioned sweat equity solves that for you though.

At Buzzsumo, and at another tool which does the same thing, ahrefs, you can see all the sites that link to the popular article you emulated.

But remember, you made yours much better.

So, reach out by email to each site that linked to the original post you chose. Just let them know you created a more thorough version.

Some will ignore you. But some will share your post. And others will link to it.

You may want to outsource this process because frankly, there’s no magic trick or special skill to it. You just email other linking sites and enjoy the results you get.

Rinse, Recycle, Repeat

That’s all there is to this.

Now, you simply do it over again.

Of course, you’ll notice tiny improvements you can make that get you even better results.

But if you focus on this strategy, it’s one of the surest ways to secure yourself high search rankings and quality customers for a long, long time!

 

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