Internet business marketing has gone through a number of mutations over the years. In the early days, online businesses were set up quite simply. A website was constructed, articles and some simple, cheap SEO services were employed. Overnight success ensured.
Local Internet Marketing for Lead Generation
These days, getting noticed by people on the Web takes a bit more work. Local lead generation requires a strategy that involves more than just building a few strategic links to a website. When small businesses begin to see the big picture, they often see the competition capitalizing on four main goals.
- Building authority
- Gaining trust
- Engaging a community
- Educating the marketplace
There are folks who get into the business of search engine optimization who think that the process building links and reaching page 1 for a few keywords in Google is their ultimate goal.
Whether they’re performing SEO for their own website or for a client, getting a few page 1 rankings should never be the goal. The ultimate goal is to achieve a conversion from the people who visit the website. You can have 100,000 visitors a day and achieve absolutely nothing other than great traffic stats.
Small business owners are not interested in traffic; they are interested in leads that convert to sales. In order to make this happen successfully on a regular basis the four objectives listed above should be achieved to some extent while the website has made its way into the public eye.
Building authority – whether the company is a hot dog stand or a five-star restaurant, the business must stand out from its competition. For many business owners, this means brand recognition. The hot dog stand may be located in in the business district where young professionals prefer a funky twist on everyday foods.
The hot dog vendor may have an interesting back story as a gourmet chef serving a variety of international flavors at his hot dog stand. Getting other people to tell his story and vouch for his expertise is a worthwhile strategy for building authority.
Gaining trust – this goal must take formation after the authority building phase in order to make any traction. Take this example the heart; a small SEO agency was trying to work with a local realtor in regards to real estate leads. The Sacramento area here in California is a great market for commercial and residential real estate. A new agent can rely on the company they are affiliated with or strike out on their own to generate leads.
Top SEO companies probably won’t take on such a small client because they don’t expect them to do for their services therefore local residential real estate agents often have a web designer act as a local search marketing service as well. If their efforts at SEO is successful in such a competitive field, the new agent will need to have some prior proven success in order to build confidence and trust with her prospects. Having proven abilities or an established client base with a solid list of testimonials will help.
One method of building authority that seems to be working well to establish trust, is publishing. By publishing or distributing information on a regular basis, prospects become familiar with the brand. A chiropractor or dentist who is a published author in their field can see his or her authority jump head and shoulders above their competition. A client of mine; a Texas chiropractor published a book on natural healing through my publishing company several years ago. He has managed to parlay the publication into a series of videos. Not only has he managed to build his authority with his book, but through local video marketing extended his brand beyond his local area.
Engaging a community – the use of social media to connect with prospects is an invaluable tool that is often overlooked. Many small business owners are impatient to sell products or services therefore consider social media and advertising medium rather than an effective marketing tool. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow businesses to engage with their customers and prospects. Rather than having a simple television commercial that promotes an offer, local businesses now have their own radio or TV station!
Did you know that there are hit reality shows on the Internet? That’s right, there are highly popular reality shows with regular episodes starting everyday people like you and me. These on shows about celebrity housewives prancing naked in pools or individuals looking for hookups. These are shows in the tradition of HGTV’s House Hunters, Animal Planet’s Tanked or DIY Network’s many fixer upper shows. You can learn about anything worthwhile on the Internet these days. Enterprising business owners have taken a leap into the entertainment world by educating their audience about subjects that they have an expertise in.
If you want to learn about home repair, you’ll probably find a channel on YouTube dedicated to that subject. Are you looking to build a large aquarium with tropical fish? Head over to YouTube and you’re going to find a lot of companies offering demonstrations and product recommendations. The question you may ask is how does appearing on an Internet TV channel benefit a local restaurant?
Introducing Lazze Jensen. Lazze is a metalsmith who has developed an international following on YouTube. This master of metal wanted to open his Northern California facilities to individuals who are interested in learning metal shaping. Since he was limited in terms of both space and time for training, he came up with the idea of videotaping short sessions and uploading them to YouTube. He also had a series of training videos that he sold from his website. Since Mr. Jensen had already established his company as an authority in metal shaping, his goal was to promote his training to people around the world with an interest in the subject.
Over the next year, Jensen’s books and videos were hot sellers because of his free online training. He developed quite a following both online and in person since he also traveled to trade shows throughout the year. Lazze became a celebrity as well as an expert. His in person classes are constantly sold out as well. Individuals travel from around the world to train under this master metalsmith.
Educating the marketplace – this goal may also rely on social media, video marketing or publishing and goes hand-in-hand with engaging your community. You must have something worthwhile to contribute to your audience in order to get their attention and keep it. The key difference between engaging your audience and educating them is about the content. You can entertain them with the reality show, but leave them with a message that answers a question or solve the problem. People are interested in a particular way of doing things or a product often find it beneficial to search the “how to…” phrase when they’re looking for answers.
Producing review articles and videos are also beneficial. One of the most popular methods of engagement on the Internet today is the review. There are lots of people reviewing products and services online. A local store may find it useful to review products or even promote question-and-answer sessions in short video clips. These can be posted on their website as well as links to YouTube, Vemio and other video outlets.
Content is key – building your content strategy in conjunction with search engine marketing is one of the most efficient ways of achieving the above goals. Whether you publish a blog, write a book or develop a video series, working with a content strategy allows you to have a valid reason for a search engine strategy. Simply putting up a website with a few pages and hoping to compete is no longer a viable option.
A small business SEO strategy must include a content marketing strategy in order to be useful a productive in the long run. Getting people to convert is even more important that getting traffic if there is to be any measurable value to the investment. Consider what happens when you decide to purchase a product or service for the first time. You want to ensure that the decision you make is the right one.
If a brand is unfamiliar, you may have reservations about picking that one without some background information. If the purchase is not a big deal, or an impulse, there’s no problem. If the product or service is important or urgent, you may take a bit more time to ensure that the decision is the right one. The ideal situation for a small business promotion is to bring visitors to the website after they are familiar with the company. Here is how that works.
Coke or Pepsi? – Branding Your Company
Celebrity endorsements are commonplace these days, but they still work effectively to bring credibility to a company, product or service. Logos, mascots or even tag lines help to brand a company in order to imprint the core message or image into the mind of a potential customer. This may seem to be a bit complex for a local business like a laundry, but consider the sign in the window or on the wall. These are examples of branding. The challenge of local business owners and their marketing team is preparing prospects to accept an offer proposed to them when they come to the website.
Start with the Right Questions
Building a comprehensive content strategy starts by getting the right questions from your potential customers. A small business owner may not be able to invest in focus groups and massive online surveys, but there is an even simpler yet effective method of finding out what your potential customers are looking for in terms of answers. You may ask them directly, but that might not get you to the core of the matter. Get your information from Google. That’s right. You can find out what people are really searching for by conducting comprehensive searches with keywords that ask questions.
Google Suggestions is an auto-complete tool that allows anyone to get a glimpse of what questions are being asked. Fire up your favorite browser on your computer. Go to Google and type in something in the search box like…”how to * a new job”. You’ll see a list of titles to website articles or headlines. That’s great for getting ideas of what others have written, but let’s go all the way to the bottom of the page. Let’s say that you are a freelance resume writer looking for the questions that your potential market would be asking. You’ll see Searches related to “how to * a new job”. The list might look like this:
- Applying for a job within the same company cover letter
- Applying for a new position within the same company
- How to tell your boss you are applying for an internal position?
- Applying for an internal position resume
- Changing jobs within the same company
- Applying for an internal position email
- Should I tell my boss I am applying for another job internally?
- Sample letter of interest for a job within the same company
You can create a list of question starters utilizing the * (star symbol) as the placeholder for your wildcard. This gives Google a chance to fill in the blanks with search terms that have been used by people in the marketplace. You can use software that speeds up the process and finds this information on the Web. The point of this exercise is to discover what others are searching for. This process is important to reaching the appropriate target for your offer. It’s integral to effective marketing and driving the right people to the message.
Go where the action is to learn more
If you have been digging around the web to find others who share your passions or interests, then you know about chat rooms, forums and sites devoted to answers. Two of the most popular sites for questions and answers right now are Yahoo Answers and Quora. These are places where members can ask questions relating to any topic and receive answers from a number of sources. If you have information on any topic you can also answer related questions. Some sites offer members points for correct answers, allowing them the opportunity to reach expert level. Here is a short list of the top sites for questions and answers.
Getting to know the kind of concerns that your market has regarding your product or service is vital to getting them to pay attention to your message. Small business owners cannot afford to waste a lot of money on hit or miss marketing ideas. Since the ultimate value of a campaign is to convert those who are familiar with a company and see the value in the brand, the major effort should be in building the foundation of authority, trust, engagement and knowledge prior to bringing them on.
Small business SEO services that incorporate a content marketing and branding strategy will be able to explode lead generation efforts for their clients. Prospects will be coming to the Web when they are ready to solve their problem. The goal is to be the one they have confidence in when they see the link on page 1 of Google, Bing or Yahoo at the end of their search.