Constructing the Core: 4 Critical Components to Market a Local Business Online
Many designers that you might hire don’t really understand marketing and design’s role in a marketing campaign, preferring to showcase their WordPress design abilities rather than using it for their client’s sake. And many search engine professionals lack the experience to really comprehend it at a deep level. And most marketing agencies will mark up their prices and outsource the work overseas, losing control at the quality level.
To make sure you get the best results, it’s best if you have a firm handle on what it takes to succeed if you plan to spend your hard-earned dollars advertising online.
Your marketing is too important to get wrong.
1. Maps, Directory, and Reputation Optimization
This should be the first step to getting a physical business that’s targeting local markets online. If you have a physical address, then you can make it work. This is one way of getting leads and getting your business on the web for free, and you don’t even need a website to complete this process successfully. Another plus is that by registering for various directories online, you can start to rank in Google Maps, which is huge when it comes to local, geographic search.
Also, by creating a listing on review sites like Yelp and Yahoo!, as examples, your customers can write reviews for your business, further extending your reach and influence online.
For an outline on HOW to actually perform this process, see the following two posts on our blog: http://www.lavalinkonline.com/google-places-optimization-part-1/ and http://www.lavalinkonline.com/san-diego-local-business-directories/ and you’ll understand exactly how to perform the process better than 99% of other people out there.
2. Website design
You’ll probably want to perform a strategy session with a competent WordPress designer before just throwing up a website. Anyone who’s familiar with bestselling entrepreneur author Michael Gerber may recall that in “E-Myth Enterprise” he says that your brand identity is everything, so your website needs to have a cohesive brand image that satisfies the visual and emotional preferences of your customers, your employees, and everyone else involved in your business.
Second, it should be crystal clear what the objective is. You should have a compelling action for the visitor to take. Simply asking the customer to contact you doesn’t usually doesn’t work very well, and if you hide it away you’re lowering your chances for conversion. You’ll want to come up with a compelling call-to-action based on your “Most Wanted Response,” the SINGLE option you’ll want visitors to make.
And sometimes, this defies conventional logic. If making your home page a sales page instead of a general information page increases conversions, and in most cases it does, then why not make the home page centered around your most compelling call-to-action?
Third, it should bring conversion elements to full bear. If you’ve read Influence by Robert Cialdini and are familiar with the “weapons of influence” that persuade people, then you should know that three weapons of influence that work well with websites are Authority, Liking, and Social Proof.
You can establish social proof with third-party reviews and/or testimonials. Authority can come in many ways, often through a highly credible, intelligent design, displaying a thorough understanding and expertise of your topic, or third-party validation through PR and other sources.
For liking, in my opinion the best way to establish a relationship is by placing an online video on your website. This is because it simulates the “face-to-face” interactivity better than text, audio, or any other medium currently available online. Plus, video is a great way to portray yourself as an authority on your topic, if you inform while selling.
3. Create a marketing stair-step
Third, is to create a Stair-Step marketing plan based on the weapons of influence of Reciprocity and Commitment & Consistency. This could be done through giving away a whitepaper or report that will be useful and relevant to your target audience.
One of my favorite sayings is “good marketing doesn’t sell, it helps people buy.” By taking this approach, you educate your prospects and become a trusted consultant as opposed to a salesperson trying to get into their wallet. Its a stealth marketing technique, and a benevolent means of persuading someone.
You establish reciprocity in the sense of someone offering you a plate of cookies. Very few people will say no to cookies if they’re offered to you (solicited or not), and it warms people up to doing business with you. You also establish commitment and consistency by making them commit to you, setting up a small “Yes” in order to get a bigger “Yes” of making a larger sale.
All of the most successful businesses online are implementing this approach. The goal is to increase the conversion rate through your website, usually by a factor of 3 – 4.
Finally, you can then institute follow-up through e-mail marketing and offer your prospect back-end sells later on in the customer relationship timeline. And of course, you’ll want to suggest that they connect with you on social media and follow your blog as well. The key is to build the relationship with them so that they know you, like you, and trust you.
4. Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, Content, & Social
This is the process of actually driving traffic to your site by carefully choosing and optimizing your site for the most valuable keywords possible. You’d begin by assessing the most profitable keywords possible, and performing an analysis of the competition and your current ranking. One thing you’ll want to look at is your PageRank (an assessment of your current Google rating), your amount of indexed pages, and how many inbound links you currently have to your website.
Many companies charge $10,000 or more just for this “review.” But at LavaLink, we’re happy to perform an analysis for you at no charge.
Once you’re ready to proceed, the process usually looks something like this:
For the first month, you’ll want to publish at least 4 fresh, new articles to a blog a week. This ensures that Google and other sites keep coming back to your site and find new, relevant content. Then you’ll want to make any necessary technical ﬁxes and perform on-site optimization, such as using keywords strategically in the proper places and using internal links and deep linking.
On the technical side, this includes the creation of Analytics, Webmaster tools and submission of a sitemap, and additional things like a ROBOTS.TXT file that tells search crawlers which pages to index, and which ones not to.
Then it’s usually a good idea to submit your best blog posts to a Twitter and Facebook account, and drive social media traffic to your website. This is important because when I look at my analytical score for my own website, almost half of my web traffic comes from social media sites. Also, activity and traffic from social media factors into your Google ranking score, so don’t neglect this step if you want to rank well in searches.
Then it becomes a process of improving and diversifying the amount and quality of inbound links to your website through do-follow contextual links created from PR 3-7 homepage domains, blog commenting, press releases, business directories, article directories, and so forth.
We like to target local and industry-related markets through Twitter account using followerwonk.com, and continue at least one blog post per week to keep people coming back to the website and to keep search engines coming back. We encourage trafﬁc through Activity Loops (RSS subscriptions, email, social media, in-person, etc).
This blog post is basically a brief overview of some of the steps that will be required to be successful marketing your business online in 2011 and beyond. The internet is becoming more and more competitive every day, and is becoming a place for big business. Having an online marketing manager with experience is key.
Hope that this sheds light on the process and what would be involved.
If you’d like to talk more about online marketing for your business, or have any questions, please leave us a comment or request a consultation with our team.
Warm regards to you and good luck in all of your business endeavors.