To start, you may question “why is my online presence important”? Simply put, ACESSIBILITY. The internet never snoozes. It is awake 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The internet doesn’t take sick leave or vacation days, and never skips a beat. So why not ensure you are BRAND BUILDING upon a marketing vehicle in constant drive. 78% of the population in North America has actively used the internet, while 40% of the world population actually has access to internet connectivity (and growing).
A benchmark which business owners often overlook is their customer acquisition cost. Yes, your sales are up, but what are you doing to procure those sales? You should be able to measure exactly how much money you are spending to obtain a sale, convert a lead, or ‘close the deal’. You can effectively lower your customer acquisition cost by having a strong online presence. A relative example resides in the fact that 77% of individuals have searched for a product online WHILE SHOPPING INSIDE OF A STORE.
3 FREE ways you can leverage your online presence:
DISPLAY RELEVANT INFORMATION
- Have a consistent N-A-P (Name, Address, and Phone Number). Ensure your NAP is consistent among all directories and contact pages across the web. Your business listings should all match up.
- Your website should be organized with ‘structural consistency’ and ‘structural familiarity’ in mind. If a user comes to your website, they are expecting a ‘Home Page’, an ‘About Us’ page, ‘FAQ’, and a ‘Contact Us’ page. Don’t try to trick them or make them rummage through a maze. Give them the information they came to find.
- In fact, try to answer your prospective clients’ questions before they are asked. Take the most commonly asked questions of your business, and put them on your website right in front of your customers. The less time you have to spend answering FAQs, the more time you have to focus on other aspects of your business.
- Diversify your content. Some people want to read. Some people want to listen. Some people want to watch. Find a way to appease everyone by using videos, photos, audio, among other options. These reasons should be used as supplementary material, enhancing your messages strategy rather than sacrificing it.
ALWAYS REFINE & OPTIMIZE YOUR LISTINGS
- Aside from displaying accurate credential information about your business, do what you can to consistently refine and enhance your listings. Update your avatars and photos. Provide offers and discounts, in addition to news, updates, and shares.
- Claim your Google+ Business Page, then populate your business on all other directory websites you can locate.
- Secure placement or ‘mentions’ on any authority websites that you can.
- Authority websites (as I see them) are high-quality, trusted websites. They are respected by knowledgeable people in the industry, they harvest links to other trusted places on the web, and had strong rankings based on their perceived value and rankings among search engines. For further explanation, here is a little more insight: http://moz.com/learn/seo/domain-authority.
- Polish your business descriptions and categorize your business consistently. Make sure the descriptions are meaningful and easy to read, as this will help improve your organic rankings.
- Create comfort and trust for your consumers by being found often. “Lack of trust kills conversions”.
BELIEVE IN & UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF REAL REVIEWS
- You’ve heard of ‘word of mouth’ for marketing. Well, this is “word-of-mouth-marketing ONLINE.”
- Try to acquire reviews on different platforms. If possible, actually ASK your clients to post reviews. Start with Google and other search engine reviews, followed by Yelp and other review platforms. Follow with any other third parties websites that you can find.
- Offer discounts or incentives for reviews. Understand that people want to take action to complain more than they want to praise. This is why positive reviews carry a tremendous amount of weight and are simply invaluable.
- Always respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative. There is no need to be combative to negative reviews, but addressing the issues publically will help. Also, make sure to recognize a positive review by thanking the reviewer personally.
Showcase your reviews on your company website (or really anywhere that you can). There is no such thing as too many positive testimonials. In fact, people like to read full stories as they often can relate to more than a two-sentence statement. Don’t be afraid to post a happy customer’s story, as well!
Content Marketing. Summarized.
Although there are far more intricate methods to leveraging your online presence, I wanted to highlight some of the ones that can be done immediately, and at no cost to you. After all, everyone loves free stuff. Mostly every piece of information described in the above copy is synergized with the term ‘Content Marketing’, which can be defined as:
Creating and sharing valuable, free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.
The type of content that you share should most certainly be closely related to with what you sell. You want to educate people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to reach out, engage, and potentially do business with you. Make them aware of your product/service, and prove that you are an expert. Content marketing creates discussions, comments, and posts. Do not ignore these, and always make sure to respond and engage. Do not miss out on FREE opportunities to interact with prospects or current customers!
ENGAGE. In whatever form of content marketing you do, the target objective should be to first get your prospect to engage. Create some interest by stimulating their senses. You can do this with a to-the-point advertisement, or offer a discount or incentive. Tell a story. Create a short documentary or motion graphics clip. Use some type of comedy skit, a cartoon, or perhaps build a campaign around a game. The possibilities are endless, and this creative brainstorming is the fun part for us.
CONVERT. Next, you want to convert them. Through whatever digital strategy or other method you use, find a way to get them to make an appointment, request more information, or buy your product.
SUBSCRIBE/REQUEST. After the ‘sale’, get them to subscribe to a future offering or update, or request additional information. Existing customers are your best sales tool. Utilize them as a means for recurring transactions!
SHARE. Finally, get them to share their experience. How many times have you seen the ‘share this with a friend’ button, or ‘get X discount by posting on your Facebook Wall’. This viral effect is stronger and ‘free-er’ than any other type of marketing.
One of the most commonly used vehicles for content marketing are blogs and articles, whether digitally composed, printed in magazines, or in the form of webinars or podcasts. Content marketing is sure to be even more effective when underlined with the use of media and videos. Although ‘content may be king’ for organic purposes, visuals certainly engage the average consumer more. You will often notice trends of users navigating directly to videos on websites to visualize something, rather than taking the time to read it.
ome other vehicles include persuasive landing pages, conversion driven e-mails, and of course, social media. While social media is certainly the most popular form of content marketing, it has been proven in many studies not to be the most effective. Although SM-sponsored and organic posts may be ‘attention-grabbers’, conversions will most likely prove not to be as strong.
Whatever vehicle you choose to employ your content marketing, understand that you are establishing integrity by presenting factual and relevant information. Know that insourcing content will almost ALWAYS beat outsourcing content. Take the time as a business owner to create content yourself. You know your business and your customers best. Time may be money, but money not spent is money earned. So strategize how you choose, but content marketing is definitely a smart choice.
To finalize on all made points, one of the biggest marketing issues for a company is ineffective messaging. This messaging challenge not only applies to content marketing – it applies to each company’s overall outreach and strategy in general. It is important to understand your overall goals, and use those goals to actually create your content. As an owner of a marketing and advertising agency, it is disheartening to see wasted advertising and marketing dollars spent on ineffective messaging. If you have something to say, let a professional help create a compelling message, while building a structured campaign around it. Be creative, witty, and comical – but insure you are also genuine. Offer a discount or incentive, or useful information; focus on what you need to do to get the attention of your customers.
And if you need help…. myself, my agency, and many other companies out there are here for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who understands these topics. After all, realize that you just subjected yourself to be a part of my company’s content marketing in reading this blog. You are the eye of our creative brainstorm.