In 2016, at least 53 percent of consumers searched online for local businesses. That’s up from 42 percent in 2015.
According to Google Data, 76 percent of these searchers visited the business they found online within a day. Purchases were made by 28 percent of those searchers.
Based on those numbers, St. Augustine and Jacksonville businesses should make a serious effort to optimize their online presence for local searches in 2017.
The following five action items can make a huge difference in the search engine ranking of your business.
1: Claim Your Google My Business & Bing Places for Business
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business or Bing Places for Business pages, click the links below and claim them right after you finish this article.
Both search engines provide you with a free page to list your business. Claiming these pages is an important step in showing up on your customer’s local business searches.
Be sure to add as much information and photos about your business as allowed by both search engine companies.
2: Optimize Your Website for Local and Mobile
First, is your website mobile friendly? If it isn’t, make that a priority. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites over non-mobile. Given that most of your customers are using their smartphones to search for local businesses, you want to ensure Google can present you to them.
Also, make sure your website is optimized for local searches. Make sure your site includes:
- Consistent and accurate Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)
- Consistent use of relevant local keywords: town, neighborhoods, etc.
- Use of address, town, state in your image’s ALT attributes (bonus search engine optimization points if your image EXIF data includes your NAP info)
3: Create Local Content for Your Website
Use your blog to tie your business to the community. Fresh content is a must today. It provides the search engines with signals that you have an active website. By localizing your content, you’re also reinforcing your location.
Need ideas for local content? Find ways to connect your business with local news, events, and activities. Set up promotions and specials around events.
Once you’ve developed your content, use social media to funnel your customers to your website.
4: Reputation Management
Make it a practice to ask for online reviews from your best customers. Online reviews contribute to higher rankings. And positive reviews influence searchers’ decision to contact businesses.
By the way, did you know 54 percent of searchers who read a positive review about a business will next visit the business’s website? Since most searches are done on mobile phones, make sure your website complies with Action Item #2 above.
5: Online Business Directories
The internet teems with business directories, also called Citations. These are sites where you can add your NAP information. Google takes many of these online directories—Yelp, YP.com, local and Industry directories—serious enough to include in their search results.
If your business has been around for a while, chances are you already have a listing on these sites. It’s important that you claim them and review your NAP info. Again, you want to provide the search engines with consistent and accurate information wherever you show up online.
The above action items aren’t overnight success schemes to rank your business number 1 on Google.
These action items, implemented in a consistent and thoughtful fashion, will help the search engine gain a firmer understanding of your businesses. They will also have a better idea of which of their searchers would benefit seeing your business in their search results. And that’s how you’ll increase your search engine ranking for searchers that matter to your business.
If you’re considering improving your online presences to get more customers, we’d love to help. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.
Ever have trouble coming up with marketing ideas to promote your business?
Maybe you’re challenged to come up with content for your social media campaigns?
Well, a little creative brainstorming can get your creative juices flowing. It’s amazing how one idea can cascade to another. Before you know it, you’ll have a list of promotional ideas you can use for creative campaigns or offers.
I’m going to focus on one way to generate ideas—tie your promotions to an odd holiday.
Odd holidays are those quirky sort-of-recognized days (e.g. National Donut Day—June 2) that pop on social media. These aren’t the full blown marketing extravaganza days like Mother’s Day.
No, these are fun observation days ripe for offseason, attention-getting, engagement building tie-ins for your product or services.
You can find a list of 2017 Holidays at Holiday Insights.com. When I’m needing some starting point to brainstorm promotion ideas, the lists on this site are great to get the creative mind working.
Let’s Play With Odd Holidays in April
Since April is a few weeks away, this will give you time to prepare for some tie-in campaigns.
April 1 – April Fool’s Day
April Fool’s Day has become a major marketing event with many national companies. Consumer expectations for a great gag can make coming up with an idea a daunting endeavor. However, it can be fun to bounce ideas around the table. And it’s a fun way to promote your brand personality.
- Promote a fake funny product
- Make an outlandish offer nobody will take seriously
April 3 – Don’t Go to work Unless It’s Fun Day
This would be great for a social media campaign. Offer assistance to employers to help make it a fun day for employees. If you’re a restaurant, suggest employers cater a lunch. A trip to an ice cream shop would be fun. Or, an afternoon being pampered at a salon would be a lot of fun. Party shops could remind employers that balloons always brings a smile.
April 7 – No Housework Day
What a perfect day to promote maid services, or for a restaurant suggest everyone stop by for dinner and they’ll do the dishes for you.
April 8 – Draw a Picture of a Bird Day
Now that’s an odd day. If you’re a retail store or restaurant, you could offer a discount for people who bring in a homemade drawing of a bird. Be sure to take photos of the drawing and artist for your social media posts.
April 10 – National Sibling Day
Invite siblings to lunch or a relaxing massage.
April 15 – Husband Appreciation Day
A great day to give husbands a gift of appreciation. A gift shop can promote mugs or plaques. Restaurants can offer discounts if wives bring in their hubby. Golf, outdoor and electronic shops share ideas on what to give husbands on this appreciation day.
April 17 – Submarine Day
Perfect day for delis! Offer a deal on a favorite sub.
April 30 – Hairstyle Appreciation Day
A salon could showcase hairstyles throughout the ages on social media followed by a call to action to visit their shop for a hairstyle that will celebrate the customer’s individuality.
This is just a sampling of the days and promotional ideas you can come up with as a tie-in. I’d suggest you look up the Odd Days of April and following month to help generate some fun ideas.
If you’re looking for someone to brainstorm ideas and help launch odd holiday campaigns, we’d love to help. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.
We recently shared how small businesses could benefit from creating videos to promote their business, services and expertise. With the help of Facebook, businesses can take video marketing one step further – by broadcasting real-time videos.
Facebook Live lets you connect instantly with your audience with the simple push of a button. Simply open your Facebook page, click “Status” and choose the Live video icon. Now you’re broadcasting live to the news feeds of people who’ve liked your page.
Here are Some Benefits to Using Facebook Live to Promote Your Business:
- Facebook Live videos are watched 3-times longer than posted videos
- Facebook Live videos appear higher in news feeds while they’re live than posted videos—Facebook is committed to this type of content
- Audiences comment 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than non-live videos
- Once someone views your Facebook Live broadcast, they can receive notification of new broadcasts
Another huge benefit –it’s simple to do. No need for additional software, editing or equipment – just use your smartphone and Facebook. The beauty of Facebook Live videos is after your broadcast ends, it can still be viewed later.
Attracting an Audience to Your Facebook Live Event
For a Facebook Live event, pre-promotion is key to building up an audience for your event.
Facebook provides tools to schedule your broadcast. Scheduling triggers a news feed post where your audience can request a reminder when your events start.
As with any news feed post, you can ask your audience to share the upcoming event. Ask your friends and family to share your event (and comment during the broadcast to broaden your engagement numbers).
Also, you can pay Facebook to boost the post to a wider and/or targeted audience.
If you’ve got an email list, use it to inform recipients about your upcoming event.
You can also boost and share the recorded video of your event after the broadcast once it’s been added to your timeline.
Creative Ways to Use Facebook Live to Promote Your business
Let’s take a look at how you could use Facebook Live.
Introduce New Products or Service
If it’s a new product, broadcast an unboxing (if it’s packaged) to show everything that comes with the item. In another broadcast, demonstrate using the product.
If you have a new service, share the benefits live. If it’s in your shop—for example a spa–demonstrate the service on a willing customer.
Also, if it’s a service carried out at a home, do a live event from that home. Interview the customer on why they chose that service (and your business).
Share Today’s Restaurant Menu and Specials
Talk about fresh content. Pick a consistent time of day to hit the Facebook Live button and talk about your daily specials—live from your kitchen.
Maybe offer a special deal for your audience in your call to action – today only, mention this “word” and get a free appetizer.
Give a Behind the Scene Look of Your Place of Business
People love seeing what’s behind the curtain. Give a live tour of your business. Show how a product is made or customer service is carried out. This is a great way for your audience to get a taste of your brand’s experience.
Answer Questions Live
Answer questions posed by your customers. You can request questions when you promote your upcoming event. Or, you can invite your audience to post questions during your broadcast for an engaging broadcast.
Host interviews with employees, customers or specialists in your industry
What a great way to communicate your expertise.
Is there an employee noted for outstanding service? Take 5 minutes and ask him or her how they approach their job, what their favorite part of their job is and tell a story of one of their positive customer experiences.
Do you have a loyal customer that’s always referring you business? Ask them to take a few minutes to tell you and your audience why they love your business.
Do you know specialists in your industry? Maybe it’s a vendor? They’d probably love to take the time to explain the benefits of your industry.
Hey, Don’t Forget a Call to Action
Make sure you know in advance your Call to Action. That way, you’re prepared to conclude your live event and motivate your audience to take advantage of your business.
If it’s a phone call, script it out a “call us to discuss how we can help you” or something similar.
Or invite them to visit your shop for a special offer or see a demonstration of your product.
Now Start Broadcasting
Facebook has made it easy for you to live stream your business. This can be one more tool you can use to generate attention and leads.
Looking for someone to brainstorm ideas using Facebook Live? We’d love to help. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and we’ll start discussing how you can use this tool to benefit your business.
January typically is the reset-button month for people. It’s a month where people make new resolutions to improve their health, finances and relationships
It’s also an appropriate time for small businesses to update their online marketing strategies.
To get you started, we’d like to present some marketing strategies and tactics you can use this year to help grow your business.
Mobile Search: Make Sure You Can Be Found
If your website isn’t responsive to mobile devices, you’re going to lose a lot of online visitors this year.
Last year, Google announced that non-mobilized sites will be considered second-class search engine real estate and would not be shown to searchers on mobile devices. See our article Google Preparing a “Mobile-First” Search Experience for details.
Given that mobile searches overtake desktop searches and that St. Augustine is a mobile-centric town (tourists, people on the go), you could be losing out on customers.
If website visitors and searchers are important to your business, making your website responsive should be one of your first to-dos this year.
Online Presence: Make Sure Your Business is Easy to Find
January is a great month to conduct an online presence audit to make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) and story are consistent wherever customers might find you (Google, Facebook, Yelp, YP.com, etc.).
Customer Focus: Make Sure You Know What They Want
Review your customer interactions from last year. List what you heard they wanted and their needs. Find out why they choose you over others? Use this information to strengthen your messaging to attract more customers with similar needs.
Become a Local Expert: Be that Go-To Business Everyone Recommends
Make sure you’re telling your story and sharing your know-how on your website, on Facebook and anywhere else the customer might see you.
Blog about how you help local customers.
Find online groups where you can share your expertise if people have questions (don’t sell, just help).
Volunteer to speak at local events and clubs to share your knowledge (okay, not an online tactic—but ask attendees to check in, mention you, like your Facebook page, etc.).
Customer Reviews: Standout with Positive Experiences
Positive online reviews influence buying decisions. Find ways to encourage positive customer experiences into powerful, positive reviews.
If you get a negative review, quickly take charge of the online conversation and respond helpfully and positively. Your online reputation is valuable.
We Can Help Make 2017 a Banner Year for You
We’d love to help you make 2017 a prosperous year. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 about any of these Marketing Resolutions.
Let’s pretend you’re a St. Augustine personal trainer. You specialize helping local women ages 40 to 60 interested in achieving a fitness goal, like running in the Gate River Run this March.
Now, what if someone shared with you they could introduce you to women who:
- Are age 40 to 60
- Live in the St. Augustine area
- Has expressed interest in running a marathon
Well, I’d like to introduce you to someone who can do all that and more for your business: Facebook.
Facebook Knows How to Connect You to Your Preferred Audience
With over a billion daily users Facebook dominates social media. They also collect every scrap of data it can from each of these users.
They know your gender, education level, income and net worth. They know your birthday, anniversary date and your friends as well.
Your interests are part of Facebook’s database. They know the books, shows and movies you like. They sense when you pause briefly on a video in your news thread. If you mention a topic, they make a note. If you join an interest group, they take interest. They know your home size and value.
They’ve collected your spending habits. Using various data brokers like Epsilon, Acxiom and Datalogix; Facebook can connect your purchases to your profile.
Your life events are available too. Getting married? Got a new job and moving soon? A new baby or grandchild on the way? Facebook records all of it.
Kind of scary, but it’s very useful data for businesses.
When you decide to conduct an ad campaign on Facebook you’re presented with a list of demographic options to narrow your search to that right customer:
- Location (country, state, city, zip code, address, even mile radius)
- Buyer Profiles (clothing, food & drink, health and beauty, etc.)
- Device usage (desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.)
- Connections (individuals who like similar businesses, pages or groups)
Facebook is Getting Very Local
Facebook is working hard to become the local search engine of choice with its users. If you have a Facebook account you’ve probably seen the social network push out to you review requests along with questions about a business you frequent.
This is helping them build better insights on businesses and user behaviors on a hyperlocal level.
That data can be used by you to build awareness/connections with campaigns in your neighborhood.
Budgeting Facebook Advertising
Facebook can be a very cost effective medium to advertise in or very costly.
When starting you’ll want to set a budget using Facebook’s tools. Decide to spend $5 to $20 per day and track results.
In a short period of time you can hone your ad’s message and target audience. Facebook tends to reward businesses who finely tune their campaigns with lower cost clicks and views.
If you’re interested in setting up a Facebook ad campaign in 2017 we’d be happy to help.
Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and we’ll start discussing how you can use videos to attract customers, increase leads and generate more sales from the local market.