Our small business marketing saga continues with this week's article focused on digital marketing tactics that are worth the investment.
You have a lot of options when it comes to marketing your business online. The average small business owners gets a ton of marketing phone calls a day, which gives you the power to choose what marketing efforts will work best for you and your goals.
So how do you know which marketing mix is right for your business? You read this article of course!
Paid Online Marketing Strategies
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the digital marketing strategy with the goal of causing your business to rank as high as possible on search engines. The idea is to attract the attention of new customers that would be searching for a service or product that your company offers. These people are rarely going to type in your business by name, rather they search for a keyword such as "plumbers". Ideally, your business would appear in the top results for your targeted keywords, winning you the attention of that consumer.
SEO is actually a compilation of many digital marketing tactics that are used in conjunction to achieve the same result; online visibility. The majority of the online marketing strategies mentioned in this article are considered SEO practices.
A website isn't really a 'marketing idea', it's more of a 'marketing necessity'. Nowadays, you can't have a business without a website. Period. I don't know how to be more plain.
Business owners are obsessed with ranking.
Yes, ranking is great...but it relies on other marketing factors that often get overlooked in favor of the coveted #1 spot. People can be quick to sign-up for a service promising instant first place ranking, yet few are willing to listen to the web specialist that is trying to improve their website.
A website is a significant part of marketing your business. In order to internet marketing campaigns to be effective, you need to have a properly built, mobile-friendly website.
Realistically, this section needs to have it's own article, which I will supply in due time. But in the meantime, if you're not convinced, let me show you some statistics:
- 10 of the top ranking factors in Google's algorithm and local listings are dependent on your website.
- 63% of consumers use a company website to find and engage with local businesses.
- The lack of a company website causes consumers to doubt the legitimacy of your business.
- 37% of consumers polled online stated that they would not consider using a company found online that does not have a website.
If those stats aren't enough, you can read through this case study where a business increased it's profits by 34% with a website overhaul. These metrics don't only apply to eCommerce sites (online shops). Studies show that 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases.
Pay-per-click ads, often called PPC, are a series of paid ads that are ran on different media channels such as Google, Facebook, Bing, Twitter, etc.
The most popular type of PPC is Google AdWords. Most people are familiar with the ad spaces on Google search, however, AdWords also has a 'display network' - Meaning your ad could be displayed on other websites and/or phone apps.
Just like with most marketing tactics, PPC has an equal pairing of good and bad. The great thing about PPC marketing is that it's practically instant. If you want to be seen today, you can make that happen. The instant gratification aspect of paid advertising is strong. The downside to PPC is that it can be very expensive. Ad spend is based on the cost-per-click (CPC) of the keyword in your area.
For example, at this moment, the average CPC for the keyword 'lawyer' in NYC is $11.39. That means that a $300/month budget only gets you 25-30 clicks. However, if you are in a less competitive area/industry, your CPC could be much lower. For example, the CPC for 'kayak rentals' in Austin, TX is only $0.70. In this case, you can spend less for a higher return.
A successful AdWords campaign involves a lot of A/B testing, as well as keyword research, and more. You may want to hire a certified AdWords professional in order to manage an effective AdWords campaign.
Pay-per-lead (PPL) is much different than PPC and there are a lot of different forms of the service. The most common PPL services that you will see are sites like HomeAdvisor, Yelp, Porch, etc.
Essentially, these services supply you with leads for a price. Normally, they work like so:
- You set up your account and choose a budget.
- Potential customers visit the site and request a quote.
- The site sends you the customers information so that you can contact them and submit a bid.
- You get charged for that lead.
- Customer chooses between multiple bids.
If you can't already tell, there are some downsides to PPL. You are charged for the lead, regardless of if they convert. I've heard reports of these leads costing upwards of $50 each.
Many contractors are forced into low-balling their bids in order to win the job. Another downside is that not all people requesting quotes are looking to make a purchase that instant.
Even with those negatives in mind, you can still have a successful PPL campaign. Many consumers trust these lead sites and use them exclusively. When used sparingly, you can come out ahead.
To put it simply, link building is getting sites to link to yours. It sounds easy enough, but you can find most SEOs pulling their hair out over it.
Every website has a value placed upon it by search engines. That value is decided based on the search engine algorithm, your site popularity, and the onsite SEO of that website - in other words, how well coded your website is.
When other websites link to yours, it increases the value of your website because the search engine decides that you must be providing consumers what they're looking for.
All links are not made equal. Bad links can actually harm your ranking placement.
We suggest that you avoid any 'black hat tactics' such as link trading with sites that have nothing to do with your industry, buying links, taking part in private blog networks (PBNs), etc.
Here are my suggestions for some natural link building:
- Help A Reporter Out (HARO) - You get emails 3 times a day from journalists looking for quotes. You email them a quote, they use it, you get a link to your website. If you use this site, I'd suggest taking a look at this how-to guide.
- Blog - Write & promote valuable content on your website. If you have good content, people will naturally want to link to it.
- Networking - Naturally allow friendships to grow with industry leaders. That way they'll want to link to your website.
There are a ton of ways to build links. All in all, if you know someone with a legitimate website, find a natural way for them to link to your site.
When link building, remember that anchor text is important. Anchor text is the written text that is hyperlinked to your location. For example, this is anchor text. Sure, links on reputable sites are great. But if proper anchor text is used, there is a great chance of impacting your ranking placement. If you're not sure what anchor text to use, linkio.com is a great platform that tracks your anchor text profile and recommends the best anchor text to target for SEO purposes.
You may be wondering why I added link building to the 'paid' article in the series. Well...link building is not easy and it's very time consuming. Most small business owners will find it easier and more cost effective to pay their SEO agency to provide this service for them.
If you're a service based business with a low marketing budget, you can use Craigslist to get leads.
It's inexpensive and you can get leads the same day as you post, which is great. However, I have been notified that in the contractor industry, Craigslist ads can come off as 'shady'.
Also, your ad is usually pushed to the bottom of the page relatively quickly, which means you have to re-post. There are services that will post ads for you however.
Although, if you have the budget for that, I would recommend using that for more legitimate and long-term SEO services mentioned above.
To be continued...
That's it for our paid digital marketing strategies. My hope is that you learned more about the different ways that you can market your business online, as well as what certain terms mean.
Stay tuned for the final part of our Small Business Marketing series all about real-world marketing strategies that might cost you a little scratch, but will yield a nice return on investment (ROI).