To put it simply, inbound marketing is the collaboration of SEO, social media and blogging. I say blogging instead of content marketing because most business owners I run into don’t like it when I throw out a lot of industry jargon. Since blogging is the heart of any inbound marketing strategy, that is how I will present it. With that said, your strategy is not has complicated as you might think it is. Below are three simple strategy tips to help your strategy run smoothly.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Your customers begin their buying cycle online. Most likely they are using Google to research about questions they have. To get found, you need to carefully pick keywords and optimize your pages and content around those terms your ideal customers are looking for.
Social Media Marketing: This is your chance to share your content and valuable information on social networking sites, engage with your prospective customers, and put a human touch on your local brand. Take time to find out which social networking sites your ideal customers hang out on. Is it important to be everywhere? It’s important to test the waters on multiple social networking sites to see what will drive the best results back to your business.
Business Blogging: Inbound marketing is nothing without blogging. A blog on your website is the easiest way to drive new traffic to your website. In order for your ideal customers to find you, create engaging and educational content that answers those questions they seek the answers to. Start small by posting a new blog each week on the same day. Build yourself an editorial calendar for each month to keep you on track. Staying on track with your calendar will make your inbound strategy successful and easy to maintain.
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Local SEO results play a key component for any small business marketing plan. Dominating local search engine results is possible by improving your marketing efforts in content, social media and ratings and reviews.
Please review my tips below for local SEO success:
1. Properly Optimize Your Website
It is vital to optimize your business website to increase your search engine rankings. Add highly targeted keywords on each page title to identify your business services and location.
Make sure your contact information is on every page of your website. In addition, boost your local visibility by including your entire service area. Customers prefer to buy from local businesses.
2. Keep your Business Listings Up to Date
If your business isn’t listed on local websites, the search engines are unable to build trust with your website and business. Review these sites on a regular basis to make sure your information is correct and consistent.
Claim your business on local listing sites like Yelp, YP, SuperPages and Foursquare. A lot of these sites hold a lot of value with the search engines. There are many sites out there so spend some time each week dedicated to building out local profiles on these sites to increase your online exposure.
Don’t be lazy. Include videos, URL and photos. Fill out each section completely and that you are listed under the proper categories. If you have multiple locations, build out a profile for each location.
3. Share Content to Build Links
Pretty straightforward here. Have a business blog yet? Share links to your blog via LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media networks and ask your network to also share your content. Don’t forget to include links to your website in your monthly newsletter. Try to always include a link to your website in every posting.
A lot of business owners are active in their community and network with other local business owners. If this describes you, create your own local directory of trusted local businesses and link out to their websites. Each of these trusted partners can provide you with additional blog topics or even become a guest blogger for you.
4. Don’t Give Up on Social Media
Now more than ever, social media plays an important role in local search results. The more consistent you are engaging with your network, the more likely your results will appear higher in search results.
Develop your own editorial calendar that engages your network via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other networks. Do this on a regular basis will only strengthen your social media strategy. Depending on what your business is, share updates on your products and services, hold a contest or promotion or share industry related content with your customers.
5. Ask for Reviews and Respond to Each One
Don’t be afraid to, but always ask for a review. Send a follow up email as soon as service has been performed asking for a review with a direct link to Google+, Yelp or Facebook. And don’t be afraid of negative reviews. We don’t like them but they help you improve your business and it shows potential customers that you care by responding to them in a timely matter and by offering a solution to any issues.
We’ve seen great success with follow up surveys and offering a small discount or coupon to each customer for completing the survey. It’s a nice touch to say thank you and helps build repeat business back to you.
Email Marketing is not dead!
The best website traffic is repeat traffic. If you’re not already, you should be touching your customers every month by running a newsletter or some type of follow up email with your customers and prospects. As a small business owner, you are responsible for so much, Inbound Marketing, SEO, Google AdWords, Social Media and much more to bring visitors to your business website. It’s vital to build long lasting relationships with your customers and stay in touch with them or someday they may go elsewhere.
Here are 18 Email Marketing stats Small Business Owners need to know:
1) As of 2013, there are 3.6 billion email accounts (Radicati). (Tweet This Stat!)
2) 54% of emails sent by businesses are marketing messages (Epsilon). (Tweet This Stat!)
3) 838 billion marketing messages have been sent in 2013 (Forrester). (Tweet This Stat!)
4) 91% of consumers check their email daily (ExactTarget). (Tweet This Stat!)
5) 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email (Merkle). (Tweet This Stat!)
6) The average clickthrough rate for B2B marketing emails in Q2 2013 was 1.7% (Epsilon). (Tweet This Stat!)
7) 60% of marketers believe email marketing produces positive ROI (Marketing Sherpa). (Tweet This Stat!)
8) 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message (Direct Marketing Association). (Tweet This Stat!)
9) Email marketing has an ROI of 4,300% (Direct Marketing Association). (Tweet This Stat!)
10) 59% of companies are integrating email and social channels together (eConsultancy). (Tweet This Stat!)
11) 76% of email opens occur in the first two days after an email is sent (Alchemy Worx). (Tweet This Stat!)
12) 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices (Litmus). (Tweet This Stat!)
13) Only 11% of emails are optimized for mobile (Equinux). (Tweet This Stat!)
14) 69% of mobile users delete emails that aren't optimized for mobile (Litmus). (Tweet This Stat!)
15) Gmail opens have decreased by 27% since May (Litmus). (Tweet This Stat!)
16) 25% of emails are opened on iPhones (Email Client Market Share). (Tweet This Stat!)
17) Suppressing anyone in your list who hasn't engaged with your emails in over a year increases your deliverability rate by 3-5% immediately (HubSpot). (Tweet This Stat!)
18) 17% of marketers don't track or analyze email metrics for their organization (MEC Labs). (Tweet This Stat!)
As you can see, email is still preferred by consumers to stay in touch. It is the biggest driver of new leads, a HUGE ROI (like $40 per $1 spent), and needs to be included in your 2014 inbound marketing strategy.
Setting up and managing your social media strategy is a big task. Once your social media profiles are set up, you must create content on a daily or weekly basis, depending upon how competitive your local market is. In addition, you also have to respond and interact with your network of followers.
How much time does it take?
It’s not an exact science so all I can really do is give you a solid estimate based on how much time we devote to each of our clients. You can expect to spend between 25-35 hours per week managing your social media marketing strategy. As a small business owner, the most important question is: Where will you find 25-35 hours per week to manage this? Is social media manager a new hat you are willing to wear? If not, then who?
Depending on the size of your business, you might talk to your employees to see if one of them is willing to help you manage it on a part-time basis. Maybe even two employees can help. There are some advantages to this and of course, some disadvantages.
- Your employees are on the front line, therefore, they know your business better than anyone.
- Your employees will enjoy the additional “fun” job responsibilities.
- Employees can update your social media profiles in real time.
- It’s not a top priority.
- Employees might spend too much time on their own accounts.
- Employees are not properly trained to set up and mange business pages.
- Out sourcing your social media to an inbound marketing agency might be less expensive.
It’s a tough decision to go all in with social media marketing. If you don’t have the time, the staff, or simply don’t want to do it, then hiring an inbound marketing agency
is the right decision for you.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is always changing and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing that. After all, as a small business owner, if you haven’t hired your own SEO Firm, you’re probably trying to stay ahead of the game yourself. Which brings us to 2014 and how changes to the SEO world are evolving and what you need to know to maintain or improve your search engine rankings.
In 2013 we had Panda, Penguin and most recently Hummingbird. These changes were implemented to make search user friendly and to stop irrelevant content from being relevant. Small business owners can no longer rely on their keyword research to outrank their competitors, rather learning new strategies to grow your local business.
What should your SEO Strategy focus on?
Your main focus should be on generating useful content for your local online users. Instead of generating content stuffed with keywords, generate content as if you’re having a conversation. Build your brand locally instead of just building online local listings. Your content and business will get more views if you keep customers up to date about your business and services. Today, it’s no longer about optimizing your site as it is more about creating a meaningful user experience for your visitors.
Google’s updates stress the importance of high quality content. It’s pretty simple, good quality will rank higher, poor quality will rank lower. Providing good content on a consistent basis will win you the marathon race. Your content needs to be credible and provide customers with useful material to keep them on your website and to keep them coming back.
What about Social Media?
Like 2013, social media will continue to play an important role in your inbound marketing strategy of SEO. Having seen many business owners fall into this trap, just having a social media business page is not enough. To be successful, you must remain active on social media, not just be there. Keep in mind, not every social platform is going to provide your business with the same return. Some platforms prefer more visual content and some prefer strictly content. The hardest part is getting started. Take the time to create your own content calendar to keep you and your business on track. Finally, don’t forget about Google+. It’s the largest search engine’s social platform so don’t ignore it when promoting your business.
Lastly, make sure your business website is responsive or is optimized for mobile devices. Mobile devices will soon be more relevant than desktops and laptops. If you don’t have a website or are looking to redesign your website, make sure your website developer is familiar with making it responsive to all types of user devices or it comes with a plugin to make it mobile friendly. Also, stay away from flash. Websites with flash do not work on most devices.
Need help updating your SEO Strategy for 2014? Click on the button below and fill out our quick contact form and we’ll provide you with a FREE inbound marketing assessment.
As a small business owner that wears many hats I’m sure you’re tired of hearing how important a business blog is for organic search engine rankings. And how often have you asked why? In this post I’d like to show you how blogging can improve your SEO and the connection between the two of them.
How to Improve Your Local SEO by Blogging
1) Start a business blog
I’m sure you’re calling my Captain Obvious by now. But seriously, blogging is one of the best and easiest ways to increase your search engine rankings. Each new blog post is a new page on your website. Each new page of your blog becomes a new opportunity for your website to be indexed and ranked on Google.
In addition to creating new organic ranking opportunities, you are increasing your overall website presence. It’s seems so basic but don’t underestimate to power of your business blog. Image if you posted 1-2 blogs per week in one month. That’s 4-8 new pages to potentially rank by the search engines.
2) Develop unique and engaging content
Make sure your blog content is your own. Don’t simply copy and paste duplicate content as your own. Its okay to share content but don’t pass it off as your own. The search engines frown upon that. You’re probably wondering if it’s okay to right about the same topic. Yes it is. Make sure you offer your own ideas about the topic and why your perspective is different. This will provide more value to your blog.
3) Optimize your blog for SEO
Don’t just blog to simply blog. Online users are smart and they want to read engaging content about your type of business and services. Like the rest of your business website, optimize each blog post for keywords that you want your business rank for. That is how many of your readers found your blog in the first place. Remember, each blog post becomes a new page on your website, therefore, it needs to be optimized accordingly.
4) Set up Google Authorship
Does this look familiar when you are looking for a specific type of business or service on Google?
Google has made it quite clear that they want to know that it is actually you creating your content for your blog and website. We highly recommend setting up Google Authorship. It tells the search engines that you created this unique content. Also, small business owners that include authorship have higher click through rates to their content compared to those that don’t.
5) Use social media to share your blog content
Include social sharing buttons on each blog post. It’s an easy way for your content to be shared and seen by more people. Also, the more your content is shared, social signals will tell the search engines that your blog has quality content. In return, this will help increase your rankings for this particular topic.
As we near the end of the year I’m sure you’re evaluating the performance of your business website for 2013. Google made many updates that impacted many business websites and their search engine rankings. Now is the time to re-evaluate your inbound marketing strategy to better understand how Google’s updates will impact your SEO.
What do you need to know in 2014?
- Stop purchasing links. Take time to build natural inbound links to your website. Link exchanges no longer work and do not artificially boost the number of inbound links to your website. Some simple ways to boost natural links are by publishing your own business blog on your website or publishing your blog content on relevant sites you want to link to.
- Consistently publish quality content on your business website. It can be time consuming but it’s very simple. More importantly, Google loves fresh, high-quality content. How do you stay on track? Create an editorial calendar to stay on track. Plan the next three months-worth of content. In addition to your blog, discuss seasonal changes in your business, new products or services and company milestones.
- Don’t give up on social media. Search engines use social signals to help indicate the quality of your website’s content. Increase your social media activity to draw local traffic and trust from the search engines.
Not sure where to start evaluating your website’s performance and plan for 2014? Contact us for a free inbound marketing assessment today.
Do you have a Google Plus business profile yet? Your small business needs one. Most small business owners ignore it or think it is a non-essential social media platform. Google Plus actually plays an important role in your SEO strategy. By now you’re unfashionable late but incorporating Google Plus into your small business marketing plan might be in your best interest.
Even though many users do not actively use their Google Plus account, it carries a lot of SEO weight. It is now the second largest social network behind Facebook. Even though it is still very far behind Facebook, it still provides an enormous audience to share your content.
We all know Google is the most valuable search engine to drive internet users to your business. Ask yourself, why wouldn’t I want to promote my business on the most popular search engine? Your current SEO is already geared toward Google’s search engine rankings. Google will rank its content on Google Plus higher than its competitors.
What can Google Plus do for your small business? Reach new local customers. Google Plus will allow you to reach a local audience quicker by connecting your business with people looking for your content or services. Facebook and Twitter are great for existing relationships but developing a new network of followers will be slow and more challenging.
For more information about using Google Plus as a Social SEO Tool, contact tiburon interactive today!
Do you recall when you last evaluated your inbound marketing strategy for your small business?
Small business marketing is always evolving with new marketing tools and platforms along with your customers. Believe it or not, it is important to evaluate your current strategy every six months. If you never have or if it’s been too long to remember, now is the time. January 2nd is NOT the time.
First, revisit your original marketing goals you set for your business. Are they still accurate and are your priorities in line with your goals? After reviewing, determine if it’s time to go in a different direction.
Next, has your target market changed or remained the same? If you don’t have a clearly defined profile of your target market, your entire staff will not be on the same page. It is vital to know your demographics and their interests and knowing where to reach them.
Does your brand need a makeover? Do you have a consistent brand image across all inbound marketing channels? When customers see your brand online, they need to know who you are and what you are. If your brand is outdated, it may be time to consider a rebrand of your business.
Finally, are you tracking your return on investment of your inbound marketing strategy? Do you know which marketing channel is providing the best results? It may be time to scrap some channels and allocate more resources and time to more profitable ones. Not tracking your ROI will cost you time and money in the long term.
About tiburon interactive
tiburon interactive is an inbound marketing agency focused on driving more leads to small and medium sized businesses. With over 10 years of small business marketing experience, we have helped hundreds of businesses increase brand awareness, increase lead generation activities while increasing profitability.
For the past 2-3 years, website design has been evolving. Web design was always a simple concept. Make sure it looked good, was user friendly and that is functioned well on PCs and laptops. Most consumers are not using PCs or laptops anymore. Your website must display and function well on all devices and screen sizes like your smartphone and tablets. Your website must be responsive to allow your webpages and its content to adjust to each browser screen.
Why is this so important now? Responsive web design was considered an additional feature to have for your website prior to 2013. As 2014 is fast approaching, it is now essential and no longer an option for your small business. At one time it was predicted that mobile Internet users would outnumber desktop users by 2013.
As a small business owner, if your website is not mobile friendly, how much revenue from mobile traffic do you think is going elsewhere? The short term cost is relatively low to adjust to but the long term cost of ignoring the adoption of a responsive web design will cost you revenue and long term success in your local market. Even large ecommerce sites have reported up to 20% of their website hits come from mobile devices.
What does this do for local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
If you’ve gone mobile and have done it right, your mobile visitors will stay longer on your site and stay engaged longer. Having a more responsive website will give you an advantage over your local competitors. How? If a potential customer has to try and zoom in to get a better look at your website, you’ve failed and they will most likely go on to the next one. Local search results will provide the user easily accessible results via their mobile device. Therefore, keeping the user on your site. Finally, Google prefers responsive web design because it is easier to index and organize content.