A 2009 Vistaprint survey of 300 SMBs found that the average business spends just 4.1 hours on marketing each week. Sole proprietorships log only 3 hours per 40-hour week.
You can understand their challenges. Most small-business owners must wear several hats throughout the course of the day and have been forced by an anemic economy to make do with less.
But the fact is, marketing isn’t an option. Because it’s absolutely critical if your goal is to increase sales and grow your business.
It’s too bad that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Jantsch’s schedule may work for you, or it may not. Every business owner has to find his or her own strategy for balancing the demands of daily operations with the larger existential need to acquire new customers and generate new revenue.
How you balance these things isn’t important. It’s just important that you do!
(Shameless plug: We can help you.)
Isn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity? Perhaps it’s time to try something new. Here are some basic starting points and guidelines.
- Use the web to capture more referrals. Nowadays, when someone gets a referral, what’s the first thing they do? Chances are they look you up online. If they do not get useful information, what makes you think they won’t move on to your competitor who has a social media presence, a content-rich website, and web page packed with testimonials?
- Embrace social media. Because it’s here to stay. According to a 2010 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 61 percent of American adults use an social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn. Why pass up this effective way of reaching your audience? Why cede this fertile ground to your competitors? If you like customer referrals, you’ll love Facebook and Twitter.
- Do not be scared of Google. Optimizing your website (to increase customer visits) isn’t rocket science. Sure, you can’t expect overnight results, but the optimization process itself isn’t complicated. Focus on providing useful content to your target marketing and Google will reward you with a higher ranking.
- Show your savvy. If you’re a business owner, you know things. You have special skills. You can help your prospects. The web gives you great new tools to demonstrate your expertise and earn trust with your prospects. This can be done through social media, email campaigns and webinars, just to name a few.
- Build your suspect list by using that wonderful resource right at your fingertips—the Internet. (Get a few tips here.)
Don’t get us wrong, there will always be a place for old-school marketing tactics. But when it comes to ineffective marketing tactics, anything less than a zero-tolerance policy is sheer insanity.
Rand Fishkin, founder and CEO of SEOmoz, offers 12 Rules for Choosing a Domain Name. Rule number one? Make it keyword-y.
When you first begin your domain name search, it helps to have 5 terms or phrases in mind that best describe the domain you’re seeking. Once you have this list, you can start to pair them or add prefixes & suffixes to create good domain ideas. For example, if you’re launching a mortgage related domain, you might start with words like “mortage, finance, home equity, interest rate, house payment” then play around until you can find a good match.
But Fishkin cautions against making it too generic. Your domain should reflect your unique brand, he says.
Using a unique moniker is a great way to build additional value with your domain name. A “brand” is more than just a combination of words, which is why names like mortgageforyourhome.com or shoesandboots.com aren’t as compelling as branded names like bankrate.com or lendingtree.com. SEOmoz itself is a good example – “SEO” does a good job of explaining the industry we’re in and creating expectations, while “moz” gives a web association, and an association with being free, open, and community-driven.
I highly recommend reading the entire article. It does a great job summing up the key considerations for picking a domain that will work best for your business.
This MarketingSherpa article (11 years old but still accurate!) adds a few more helpful suggestions.
See also: Top 10 Worst Domain Names (e.g. www.expertsexchange.com)
As you know, creating a business listing in Google Places is part of a good overall search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Local business listings often get top billing in the search results for key terms, which translates to more visitor traffic.
But you don’t have to stop there. Creating a coupon in Google Places is an easy (and free!) way to leverage your listing. You’ll stand out from other businesses and potentially draw more clicks — especially if it’s a good deal.
Did I mention that creating a coupon in Google Places is easy and free? Once you log into the Google places, just click on the ‘Offers’ tab and follow the simple instructions.
Clients consistently ask how their Google Analytics results stack up to industry leaders. They’re usually interested in traffic volume — the number of website visitors in a given period. Analyzing these numbers can be a bit tricky. But after reviewing hundreds of Google Analytics accounts, we have compiled a list of basic principles to consider when looking at your results:
1. How large of an area are you targeting?
All other things being equal, a website targeting a more populated area is typically going to have more traffic than a less populated area. (In highly competitive markets, however, the opposite can be true.)
2. How long has your site been live?
Longevity, in Google’s mind, is an indication of quality. So the length of time your URL has been in existence and the continuous ranking of your site impacts your traffic results.
3. What keywords are you targeting?
In many cases, a high ranking for a particular keyword/search term will generate a healthy flow of traffic to your website — unless you have a high ranking for a term that very few people actually use…
4. How well is your site optimized?
How your keywords are structured within your site can significantly impact your results. Are they in your title tags? Page headings? Body content? Anchor text? Metadata?
5. How frequently is your site updated?
Google’s spiders looove fresh content. Websites that are updated frequently get crawled frequently, and are thus more likely to climb the rankings than static sites. Ignored/uncrawled sites don’t rank well in Google … which means they don’t get any traffic.
6. How many websites link to your site?
Referral traffic is wonderful — you get more visitors AND you can win points with Google. When a quality website links to your website, Google interprets that as a vote for your site. Note: The ‘quality’ part is key. You won’t impress Google if set up 16 empty WordPress blogs and link them to your site. Also, reciprocal linking doesn’t work either.
7. How well do you rank for your business’ name?
This impacts how much direct traffic you receive. When someone googles your business name, do you show in the top spot? For businesses with generic names (e.g., Technology Consultants LLC), this can be a challenge.
Putting the numbers in perspective
When reviewing your analytics data, it’s important to be realistic about the results you want to achieve. How many people do you think should be visiting your site? What kind of traffic are you aiming for? Again, be realistic. If only hundreds users are searching for services in your area, don’t expect huge boosts.
Traffic isn’t the only number that matters
It’s worth pointing out that traffic volume is just one metric among many. Bounce rate, average time on site, pages per visit, and conversions are probably more accurate measures of your site’s performance. If your managed services website had only 23 visitors last week, but most of them did some exploring and two of them contacted you, you’re actually doing quite well! In other words, quality trumps quantity.
To be sure, more traffic means more conversion opportunities, so it’s a worthy goal to drive more visitors to your site (provided they’re in your target market). But keep in mind that increased traffic does not happen overnight. It takes time. The best results come from consistent effort!
On a side note, Google offers certification programs in order to become an analytics expert. The online course is free to everyone, but offers an option to pay $50 to take the Google Analytics IQ Test.
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