You don’t have to contract with a major marketing firm to improve your online brand, although that wouldn’t hurt. Even small companies with limited teams can improve their reach online and generate more leads
When you’re searching for a business online, the Google Places listing is one of the first things you see, especially on mobile. It’s where people can see when you’re open, click to give you a call and read reviews on your products and services. That is, if your listing is there and if it’s accurate. The great news is, it’s free and easy to add your listing. If it’s already listed, it’s free and easy to claim and update. See where I’m going here? You can check out all the details on Google Places, and get simple instructions for adding, claiming and updating a listing here.
For a great local example, check out Black Cloister Brewing Company. The company’s listing has hours, a web link, a phone number, photos and user reviews. In fact, they’ve passed the 6-review benchmark, turning their profile orange and helping it stand out from the crowd in a Google search. They’ve also taken advantage of the Chamber’s Google 360 program, adding a 360 view of the inside of their business to their listing.
Search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, is a whole lot more than slamming some keywords on a page and calling it a day. Highly successful SEO requires a targeted approach, incorporating well-researched keywords, quality content, visual and audio pieces and more tools of the trade. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re not an SEO expert. That doesn’t mean you can’t give your site a boost in search rankings.
- Update your content regularly. If you have a blog, use it. Don’t be afraid to change up and swap out text on pages throughout your site.
- Have you scored some media coverage? Request a link back to your website in any of those articles that appear online.
- Consider a name change—for your pages’ URLs that is. A simple change for Kohne Camera & Photo in Perrysburg made a big difference in how they rank. Consider how you can incorporate relevant search terms like they did here: http://www.kohnes.com/photography-classes-toledo/.
Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn—there are more ways than ever before to get social with your audience. Where should your company be? It all depends on who you’re trying to reach. Before you open an account on every up and coming social networking site imaginable, consider what fits your brand, your audience and your resources.
- Consider the key demographics of your target audience(s), starting with age and gender and expanding from there. Which platforms match up best? Check out this helpful guide and go where your audience is.
- Who will manage your presence, and how much budget (in time and dollars) is available? An active, engaging presence on one platform means a whole lot more than a half-assed presence on every network imaginable. Pick what you can do well and add others as your capacity and efficiency grow.
“But Tim, my company is already on Facebook and Twitter, so this isn’t very helpful.” Good point. Here’s what you can do to optimize your existing presence.
- Make it a backyard BBQ. Social media is all about conversations, but too many brands are still doing it wrong. If a person walked up to you at a party, talked about themselves for five minutes straight and walked away, you probably wouldn’t seek them out for a conversation again. The same goes online.
- Stay current. Stay active. That might not mean posting every day, but it doesn’t mean posting once every three weeks either.
- Fill out your profile. All of it. Even if you think it’s complete, go back and review it. Social platforms constantly change, and it’s a good idea to regularly review your profile to make sure you’ve taken advantage of every opportunity available.
- When appropriate, use branded graphics in your posts. Free to low-cost services like Canva make it easy for companies that don’t have a graphic designer.
- Tap into the power of analytics. Most platforms feature some type of reporting. Find out what your audience responds to, then give them more of it. The same goes for coordinating your posting times. Thursday nights may be a great time for some businesses to tweet, but one size doesn’t fit all.
For most companies, the internet is just one piece of a marketing program. But no matter your mix, online activity can be a good indicator of the success of offline efforts. The Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation of Perrysburg is a great example.
In April, the organization promoted National Organ Donor Awareness Month with an event at a Toledo Walleye game. Attendance was great, but what about after? A review of their website analytics showed a 45% increase in traffic the week following the event. The group also saw an increase in traffic from web users in Mexico following an outreach trip there.
How can you apply these findings in your business?
- Heading to a trade show? Create a custom landing page and use that address on materials you hand out at the show. Monitor traffic and see what comes in. The same concept can apply to direct mail.
- Hosting an event? Create a #hashtag and follow the activity on social media.
- Promoting a sale or special offline? Direct users to a digital coupon to redeem the offer.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re willing to read and you’re at least open to the idea of learning something new. Don’t stop now. There are a lot of great resources available, many of them free. Google it, or better yet, check out Think with Google and sign up for a weekly Thought Starter email. Tap into your local resources, too. Keep in touch with the Toledo Chamber and watch out for workshops, guest speakers and other opportunities to pick up some knowledge.
Of course, InfoStream is here to help. The only thing I love more than internet cat memes and Crossfit is grabbing a coffee or a beer and talking shop. Have a question? Let’s have a conversation. Anti-social? You can find a ton of helpful information online at InfoStream University.
Tim Saddoris is president of InfoStream Solutions, a Toledo-based online marketing firm that leverages the internet to make business better.