Ultimate Online Marketing Guide for Local Businesses: 10 Strategies to Get Your Phone Ringing

It doesn’t matter where you are, what time zone you operate in, or where your customers are located. Accessing the global market ultimately comes down to being proactive and having an all-encompassing online marketing strategy.

While accessing global markets is indeed interesting, the reality is that you have to focus on dominating your local market before you can start enacting a larger plan for growth. With this in mind, here are ten critical online marketing strategies to help you increase your local presence, while simplifying how your local customers find your business online.

1. Having a Mobile-Friendly Website

Would it surprise you to hear that online searches via smartphones and mobile devices have greatly surpassed searches by laptop, desktop or tablet? Well, it’s the reality of today’s consumer; people are more inclined to search for their favorite store, retail outlet and restaurant with the mobile device. In fact, some estimates state that individuals with smartphones use it for searches two to three times a day.

Having a mobile-friendly website is critical to reaching your mobile customers. These are the types of customers who use their smartphones to share what they like most about your products and services through social media. They immediately notify friends and family members of their new-found favorite hot-spot.

A mobile-friendly website is one that adjusts its screen size so that mobile users only need to use their thumbs to navigate the page. This functionality is critical; Google’s April, 2015 algorithm changed has been dubbed “Mobilegeddon”. Its purpose is to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in online searches.

Ultimately, your website’s screen must self-adjust while having right-sized images, fonts and well-placed links. Having a mobile-friendly website will help you reach your local market and may just position you higher in local online searches.

2. Content Focused on Hummingbird Phrases

Google is well-known for its algorithm changes and their lasting impact on a website’s PageRank. One critical change that occurred in August of 2013 was referred to as “Hummingbird”. The change was geared towards helping local businesses reach their local audience by having those businesses produce content that answers three search-based queries.

These queries included information-based queries, navigation-based queries and transaction-based queries. These are outlined in detail below.

• Information-Based Queries: Provide content that educates your customers about the types of products and services you offer. Next, have your content link directly to those landing pages on your website that best describes these products and services.

• Navigation-Based Queries: Your content should also clearly define where you are located. This includes providing your full address, telephone numbers and directions on how customers can reach you. This is as easy as using your company’s name combined with keywords and keyword-phrases that describe your products and services. When customers search online, they’ll enter the town or city they’re in and the type of products they’re searching for. If your navigation-based queries are done properly, then you are more likely to come up in online searches.

• Transaction-Based Queries: Your content should also define the types of brand-name products you sell and information about your website, in addition to information about your own brand. This content should answer how customers can purchase from you, what they can expect in terms of after-sales support and how your company services its local market.

3. Link-Building: Local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you wanted to buy from a local company, but have never dealt with that particular company before, then how would you know if they were legitimate or not? Ultimately, you’d ask for references or you would simply go to your local chamber of commerce website or better business bureau website to see what, if any, reviews there were about the company.

Securing a link with either of these local institutions is invaluable. You may be able to get a link for free. However, don’t stop with your local chamber of commerce; having a link-building network with companies in your local area that offer complimentary services is a great way to build your local online presence. Contact companies in and around your town and offer to link to their website in return for them linking to yours.

4. Adopting a Low-Cost Social Media Strategy

It costs nothing to set up a company Facebook page, open a Twitter account and open a Pinterest account. In fact, social media is a zero-cost marketing solution. However, that doesn’t mean that mistakes can’t be made or that mistakes aren’t costly.

Adopting the wrong social media strategy can set you back weeks and months as you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to build a following on a social media website your customers don’t use. Therefore, make sure you work with a social media platform your customers use.

Facebook is an ideal branding solution when you’re selling to the everyday consumer. However, if your business is focused on business professionals, then LinkedIn is your best bet. Remember, stick to your business and your customers and match your social media strategy to both.

5. Taking Advantage of the Free Economy

Every customer just loves to get something for free, don’t they? Of course they do! Now, that doesn’t mean you have to give away a product or service for free and lose out on valuable profit. However, what it does mean is that you offer your local customers free downloads in the forms of e-books and whitepapers.

Take your content to the next level. Use infographics, graphs, tables, e-books and whitepapers that discuss best practices so that your customers feel like they’re getting more than just a product. These are excellent lead generation platforms because local customers will have to give you their contact details in order to secure the freebies you’re offering. Once you get those contact details, contacting them afterwards will be a much easier process.

6. Offering Live Chat on Your Website

In today’s digital age, it almost seems as if we’ve lost that all-important human touch. After all, winning new customers and business is all about building trust. Fortunately, you can build that trust by offering live chat on your website. This allows customers to interact with you in real-time by asking those questions they desperately need answered.

7. Using Videos

Unfortunately, everything you say in a video can’t be indexed by search engines. Even Google is unable to solve that issue. However, that doesn’t mean your videos can’t be found online. It simply involves you taking the time to write a detailed description of the video on whatever platform you choose.

YouTube offers a description field where you can describe what your video is about. You can include information about where your business is located, in addition to any other information about your products and services. Therefore, then next time you make a video about your company, make sure you write a keyword-focused description of about 400 to 500 words in the description box.

8. Building a Network of Like-minded Local Market Influencers

Most businesses think that having a network of important market players means they have to have some connections with the most widely-recognized CEO within their industry. However, that simply isn’t the case. Your local market has a number of well-known players, ones who have a vast following on social media and ones who are relied upon for their input.

Building your own local network is by no means impossible. It simply involves knowing where these individuals are and working with them to build a relationship. After all, they’re looking to build their reputation as well.

Every time you produce content, it’s these individuals who will help share that content with the potential prospects in your local market. They’ll help build your digital brand in a way that few mediums can match. You’ll get your name out into your local market, while creating that all-important buzz that comes from being a dominant local player.

9. Taking Part in Webcasts and Podcasts

Webcasts and podcasts are excellent resources for reaching out to your local market. These are can’t-miss opportunities where your company can showcase its expertise and reach customers who are desperately looking for insight. Better yet, within every webcast there’s a question and answer session. This is the ultimate soft sell approach, one where your customers will value your input and appreciate the time you take to answer their questions.

10. Starting Your Own Company Blog

Have you ever had something you wanted to say to your customers but didn’t know how? Better yet, did you ever want to showcase your knowledge without being seen as overbearing? If so, then starting your own company blog is the solution for you.

There are currently 4.8 billion webpages in existence. All of them are desperately trying to say something, but only those webpages that are devoted to their local market will end up reaching their local customers. Use those aforementioned keywords and keyword-phrases within your blog’s content. Combine text with vivid images, colorful infographics, eye-catching pictures and engaging video. The more time customers spend on your website, the more likely they are to call.

Finally, make sure your call-to-action (CTA) is clear, definitive and easy to understand. If you need help, then there is probably a well-recognized Miami online marketing agency that can provide guidance. Just make sure you’re able to sit down with the agency and discuss a plan suited to your needs. You need to clearly define what your business does, who you sell to and what you want to achieve in your local market. Each of these aforementioned strategies will help, but using an outside firm is often best.

Victor GonzalezUltimate Online Marketing Guide for Local Businesses: 10 Strategies to Get Your Phone Ringing
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4 Surprising Ways to Increase Your Social Media Engagement

Why do companies see social media as such an important part of building their brand? Well, when you consider just how often Google changes its algorithm, and how those changes can instantaneously drive down a website’s page views, then it’s fairly easy to see why generating traffic through social media is so important. In fact, when you have the right social media strategy, you are in essence protecting yourself against any future algorithm changes. So, what are some of the ways you can increase your social media engagement?

1. Engage Your Audience in Real-Time

Your customers must come to know that you’re always present, always around and always willing to lend a helping hand. That comes from directly engaging and interacting with your audience in real-time. A timely and well-placed Tweet that coincides with important news showcases your ability to be on the ball and fully aware of what’s going on in your market. Make sure you directly engage your audience in whatever social media platform you choose to work with.

2. Create Groups and Join Forums

Being present on social involves being an active participant and taking part in online discussions. Define the types of social media websites your customers rely upon and start your own group or forum. If your customers are on Facebook, then open a Facebook page and be consistent in how and what you post online. Directly engaging your audience is a surefire way to show that you care and are available to help.

3. Run Your Own Poll/Survey with a Question and Answer Session

Give your customers a reason to interact. Surveys and polls about subjects that matter most to your customers will surely get them thinking. Using online question and answer sessions incentivizes customers to act. It’s a soft sell and it allows you to converse directly with customers while subtly pushing your products and services.

Customers appreciate when you focus on their problems. Polls, surveys and questionnaires sent to your customers, or held online, are great social media outreach tools. If you need help, then a Miami online marketing agency might just be the solution you’re looking for.

4. Live Chat and Free Downloads

Sometimes the best strategy is simply the easiest. This is ultimately why a number of companies provide free downloads in the form of e-books, whitepapers, step-by-step guides and or free products and services. Live chat is another solution you can offer directly from your website that engages your audience and gives them a platform to ask pertinent questions. Ultimately, you want to combine these freebies with the ability to answer any questions your customers might have while they’re on a given webpage.

Most of the Miami website design companies are able to help you directly engage your audience. They can provide invaluable insight into what makes customers tick and what reasons they have for sharing content. Make sure you work directly with your firm of choice by properly measuring results and altering course, if need be.

Victor Gonzalez4 Surprising Ways to Increase Your Social Media Engagement
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5 SEO Strategies You Can Steal From Big, Successful Companies

Organic search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical part of building a business’s digital brand. It helps to position your company higher in online searches by improving your website’s PageRank. However, it only works if you’re well aware of the intricacies of organic SEO. With this in mind, here are five SEO strategies you can borrow from your biggest competitors.

1. Incorporating “Hummingbird” Phrases

Google changes its search engine algorithm daily. However, one change meant to simplify how users find companies included the Hummingbird algorithm change. Its focus is to produce content that answers search queries relating to where your company is located, what types of products and services you offer, and finally, how customers can use or purchase your product and service. A Miami online marketing agency can help structure your content around these three aforementioned Hummingbird phrases so that your local customers have a much easier time finding your business online.

2. Using the Right Social Media for the Right Customer

Having social media buttons on your website isn’t enough. Leaving it up to your customers to decide between 10, 20 or even 30 social media buttons is not a social media strategy. The biggest and best companies match their social media strategy to the types of customers they service. Make sure you clearly define who your target audience is and match your social media strategy accordingly.

3. Building a Network of Influencers

There is no benefit to organic SEO if the content you produce isn’t shared. In order to help make sharing an easier process, it’s incumbent upon you to build a network of influencers, individuals who have a substantial following on social media and ones whose reputation is well-appreciated within your market.

Those influencers don’t have to be the CEOs of your market’s biggest players. Instead, they can be individuals with substantial followers on Twitter, ones who are highly regarded for their insight. All markets have influencers and it’s your job to latch onto them so that they help get your content in front of new prospects.

4. Taking Part in Podcasts and Webcasts

The best way to be seen as a source of reliable and timely information is to take part in podcasts and webcasts. The biggest companies know that SEO is less about link-building and more about content marketing. Podcasts and webcasts are another means of getting your best content in front of new prospects.

5. Optimizing Videos

YouTube videos aren’t searchable by today’s search engines. It’s the description of the video itself that’s searchable. Unfortunately, far too many small businesses produce an engaging video only to leave the description box void of information. Make sure you optimize your videos by providing a mini-post of 300 to 400 words that thoroughly describe what your video is about.

Again, organic SEO is less about adjusting your content around keywords and or having a link-building network. Instead, it’s about marketing your content so that your company has a substantial list of followers. Your chosen Miami website design firm should be more than capable of adopting all of these aforementioned strategies.

Victor Gonzalez5 SEO Strategies You Can Steal From Big, Successful Companies
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5 Steps to Improving Your Google AdWords Campaign

Running a Google Adwords campaign is a proven strategy when looking to increase targeted traffic. However, it’s not just a plug-and-play process. There are a number of potential pitfalls that can all but destroy your digital advertising budget. However, these mistakes can be avoided. In fact, when employed properly, the following tips will help you optimize your campaigns so that you’re generating qualified leads and converting more sales on customer visits.

1. Proper Keyword and Keyword-Phrase Research

Everything begins and ends with how you research keywords and keyword-phrases. The best available tool includes Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner. It’s a free solution provided by Google that is both easy-to-use and easy-to-implement.

Your focus should be to come up with the most commonly-used keywords by your customers in online searches. Next, place those keywords into different categories so that you can create separate advertising groups. The Adwords Keyword Planner will then provide a complete list of the number of searches by your chosen keyword. You can then isolate that data by reviewing your local market and or your larger market.

Be sure you use keywords that are applicable to your market and never opt for the cheapest keyword; driving unqualified leads to your website because you want to save money won’t increase your conversion rates. In fact, it will frustrate you and drive up your website’s bounce rates.

2. Use a Descriptive Text With Your Keywords

Make sure each of your advertising groups incorporates a well-written text using your chosen keywords. Those advertising groups should link directly to those landing pages that best describe the product or service your advertising. This is a critical portion of the process because it allows you to compare the performance of these different campaigns later on. Ultimately, improving your campaigns comes from comparing results and testing different configurations.

3. Define Your Core Market

Define what market you’re pursuing and make sure your campaign is structured around that specific market. For instance, if you’re only able to provide a given product or service in a specific geographical area, then make sure your keywords incorporate the name of the borough, town, city or state you operate in. This is the type of information your customers will use in online searches.

4. Control Your Budget

The best way to manage your budget is to use Google’s Exact Match process. This ensures that your advertisements will only come up for users when they put in the specific keyword or keyword-phrase you’ve chosen.

5. Split Testing

Finally, be ready and willing to split test your campaigns once you’ve had time to review some of your initial results. Split testing forces you to make one change at a time to see what results it has on your CTR (click-through rates). You’ll then measure the increase or decrease in CTR before making additional changes. A Miami online marketing agency can provide insight into how the split testing is performed.

Make sure you choose a Miami website design firm that knows how to optimize AdWords campaigns. It’s not enough just to work with a firm that can redesign your website. After all, a new website design means nothing if you’re not driving traffic to your site.

Victor Gonzalez5 Steps to Improving Your Google AdWords Campaign
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Questions That’ll Help You Decide if You Should Redesign Your Website

Your website is an invaluable marketing tool that can generate high-quality leads while lowering your costs of getting new customers. However, while generating leads, and reducing your costs of customer acquisition, are definite selling points, the biggest selling point includes increasing customer retention; keeping more customers is far less expensive than searching for new ones.

None of these aforementioned benefits occur if your website is outdated. In fact, an out-of-date website can cost your company customer relationships and valuable market share. So, to help, here are some questions to ask yourself about whether or not your website needs a redesign.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Your marketing message needs to reach your customers no matter where they are or what they’re doing. This means having a website that adjusts to any screen size. Having a mobile-friendly website means users can navigate your website up and down or side-to-side on their smartphones using only their thumbs.

It means having right-sized video and images so that users aren’t frustrated because they have to pinch and zoom to see your content. Finally, it means having a design that increases the time your customers spend on your website while on their mobile devices.

Is Your Website Easily Navigated?

Customers must find your website easy-to-use and easy-to-navigate. That means having clearly defined links and paths that encourage and incentivize customers to move from one webpage to the next. If your website has a high bounce rate, one where customers are quickly coming in, and leaving just as quickly, then it’s a possible sign that your website isn’t properly laid out. Optimizing that layout means customers will stay longer and respond to your call-to-action.

Does Your Website Have the Right Social Media Strategy?

Today’s customers use social media to share what they like about your company and its products and services. However, it’s not enough just to be on social media or have a “presence”. Your website must incorporate the right social media strategy, one that’s tailored to the kind of customers you sell to and one that simplifies how they share your content.

Do You Consider Your Website Up-To-Date?

There are 4.8 billion webpages. Either your website is up-to-date, or your PageRank will suffer and your customers will go elsewhere. If your website looks tired, or otherwise looks like it needs a refresher, then it’s time to move forward on a redesign. There are several Miami website design firms to work with who can give your website that refresher it desperately needs.

A redesign is an important part of any rebranding effort. If you’re looking to make a lasting impression with customers, one that provides them with engaging content and gives them a reason to become a customer, then a Miami online marketing agency can help you do all of that and more.

Victor GonzalezQuestions That’ll Help You Decide if You Should Redesign Your Website
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Five Basic Rules to Follow When Launching Your Online Marketing Campaign for Your Small Business

Online marketing helps small businesses create a level playing field against their larger, more established and better-financed competitors. However, while the costs of building an online brand are significantly lower when compared to conventional strategies, that doesn’t necessarily mean that mistakes aren’t costly. In fact, those costs can quickly add up. To help, here are five basic rules to live by when launching an online campaign.

Define Core Customer Segments

You need clarity of purpose when launching an online marketing campaign. That involves defining the type of customer you’re pursuing, what they like and dislike, where they get together online, what websites they visit, and most importantly, what social media platform they use to share content. Casting too wide a net, by trying to appeal to too wide an audience, will make measuring success or failure next to impossible.

Don’t Go With the Cheapest Keyword

Keywords are used by potential customers in online searches. It’s those same keywords that are employed within digital advertising campaigns. A common mistake is to use an inexpensive keyword in the hopes that it reduces costs. It doesn’t. All it does is send unqualified leads directly to your website.

Instead of increasing your website’s conversion rates on visits, you’ll be left wondering why your website has such a high bounce rate. Inexpensive keywords increase costs because they produce unqualified leads. Avoid them entirely and focus your campaign around the most descriptive keywords available.

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Not all digital marketing agencies are the same. Some focus on business-to-business (B2B) markets while others focus on consumer markets. Be sure to match your firm to your business model. Review their portfolio and make sure they’ve demonstrated an ability to build brands for similar companies. Finally, don’t go with any firm unable to visit you, speak to you on the phone or provide references.

Tracking Performance and Making Adjustments

Regardless of whether you go at this alone, or opt to work with an outside firm, you must be able to track performance. Define your costs of online lead generation and have periods of review where you can assess what’s working, what isn’t and how best to move forward.

Online marketing isn’t automatic, static or stationary. Its benefits includes the ability to make changes in real-time and analyze results right down to every penny. However, that isn’t possible if you aren’t willing to review performance.

Testing Multiple Layouts and Variables

Testing is a vital part of success. Get used to testing different fonts, colors, images, and videos, while also playing around with your call-to-action (CTA). A/B split testing email campaigns, your website and different online campaigns is an absolute must.

Split testing involves making a single change and then tracking the impact of that change on the number of clicks generated. Split testing is a scientific way of increasing your marketing return on investment (ROI).

When looking for a Miami website design firm, start by outlining the customers you’re targeting and what your end goals are. The right Miami online marketing agency won’t just offer a one-time redesign of your website. Instead, they’ll offer a complete solution, one that helps you reach your local market, while also positioning you as a trusted resource for global customers.

Victor GonzalezFive Basic Rules to Follow When Launching Your Online Marketing Campaign for Your Small Business
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