6 Core Marketing Strategies Guaranteed to Attract Clients for Small Businesses

Top performing marketing strategies for small businessesWithout question, you love your business.

But, how can you convey that love to your prospects in a way that not only piques their interest, but also makes them take action and become a paying customer?

It’s all about marketing and promotions. That is, the work you put into raise awareness about your brand, increase demand for your product or services and boost sales.

The problem is, there are literally dozens of different promotional strategies being applied by businesses. How can you know which ones would get you the biggest return on your investment?

There’s no magic formula or perfect answer. There are, however, six core strategies that have been proven to be highly effective, regardless of the industry.       [Read more…]

Why Smart Simple Marketing Went Missing and How You Can Use Our Example To Grow Your Business [FREE DOWNLOAD]

You are going to discover an important secret…

It’s a secret that many small business owners ignore, but so desperately NEED. (I want to lead you from the group of “ignor-ers”. So keep reading.)

Wil & Sydni in Paris

Wil & Sydni near Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Intentionally, Smart Simple Marketing disappeared!

Why would we go missing for months?

The answer is simple…

At the same time, it will help you to overcome any glitches, setbacks or roadblocks to your business success.

This is what we did…      [Read more…]

Facebook Live to Help Boost B2B Profit

Originally published at Hoovers.com

Like every other trend in digital marketing, video marketing is constantly shifting and evolving. If you’re just hopping on the video bandwagon, don’t worry – you’re not too late to take advantage of all this growing medium has to offer. In fact, it’s never been easier to use video marketing – and live stream video in particular – to drive B2B business and sales.

Pre-recorded video is the past. Live stream is the future.

If you’ve ever had a marketing agency or SEO firm encourage you to create and publish more video on your website or YouTube channel, there’s a good reason – video content drives organic search results.

When you publish content that includes video, you’re much more likely to get found earlier in search engine results for certain terms.  And when your website appears at the top of the search results for terms relating to your business on Google or YouTube, it’s that much easier for prospective customers to find your business.

But times are changing. Staying relevant online isn’t just about creating great video content anymore – it’s about broadcasting and streaming live video. That may sound a) kind of scary, and b) potentially irrelevant for B2B businesses. The truth is that live video is actually much easier to create, promote, and publish than pre-recorded video.

Even better, it’s proving to be a powerful tool for B2C and B2B businesses alike.

What is Facebook Live, anyway?

Facebook Live launched early 2016 and has been steadily gaining steam.  This new Facebook feature allows you to instantly broadcast a live video right from your smartphone. There’s no editing, no uploading, and no fancy footwork required.

All you have to do is:

  • Publish a new status update on Facebook
  • Select “Live Video”
  • Fill out a short description of what viewers can expect to see
  • Select the audience you want to share the video with
  • Start streaming!

Now that you know how user-friendly Facebook Live is, let’s take a look at how to use this feature to boost B2B sales.

Live video: not just for B2C anymore

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have finally jumped on the social media train – some leading the way, and others scrambling to play catch up. If you’re in an industry that’s notoriously slow for jumping on social trends, why not be a pioneer in live streaming video?

Facebook Live can be a great way for B2C companies to directly engage with customers. That’s because live video makes it easy to answer questions in real time, demonstrate new products, and directly engage the end user.

But that’s just as true for B2B companies – if not more so!

Just like a business-to-customer relationship, a business-to-business relationship is all about people. The key is to be engaging, connecting with, and convincing the right people to partner with you or to purchase your products for the mutual benefit of both companies.

And what better way to engage, connect, and convince than by inviting prospective clients into your office or worksite via live video?

Facebook Live allows you to:

  • Make a deep, authentic connection with prospects – even if you’ve never met them in person before
  • Educate prospects about your business
  • Demo products
  • Build authority as you demonstrate your industry expertise

But the hands-down best part of Facebook Live is the ability to engage prospects and business associates in real time.

While you’re live streaming, you can verbally and visually respond to the comments people post beneath your video feed. You can call people by name, give them the answers they seek, and invite them to take action on a special offer or meeting invitation.

Facebook Live for B2B: Dun & Bradstreet

Are you brainstorming different ways you could use Facebook Live to impress clients and attract prospective B2B customers?

Great! Here’s how companies like Dun & Bradstreet are using Facebook Live – and you can too!

Dun & Bradstreet has a dedicated Facebook presence geared toward B2B companies. Since the launch of Facebook Live, D&B B2B has been using live video streaming to present educational content and expert panels on topics like government contracting, suspension and debarment, and other challenges and opportunities faced by B2B business owners.

One of Dun & Bradstreet’s most successful Facebook Live video streams featured an expert panel that was live streamed from the D&B B2B Facebook page.

During the Facebook Live broadcast, Dun & Bradstreet brought together industry experts to answer common questions and solve pressing problems that B2B business owners care about most. This video helped business owners identify suspension and debarment pitfalls when doing business with the government. With over 7,200 views in just a few months, this content resonated with B2B business owners in a way that was timely and relevant across different industries.

But was timely, relevant content enough to make this Facebook Live video a smashing success? Like with any successful piece of content, there was more to it than just choosing the right topic – Dun & Bradstreet also followed these 7 best practices for turning a live stream video into a conversion machine.

Facebook Live for B2B: 7 best practices

1. Make sure your audience cares

First and foremost, make sure your video is laser-focused on the audience. You may want to educate them about an exciting new product or service your company is offering, but don’t forget to put yourself in their shoes – no one likes feeling sold to.

For their video, Dun & Bradstreet chose a hyper-specific topic they knew their audience would be interested in. How could they be sure the topic of suspension and debarment would resonate with viewers? By doing lots of research and social listening before deciding on a video topic.

Ask yourself:

  • How will this content benefit the viewer?
  • What problems am I solving?
  • Do I have social proof this topic will be popular with my audience?

Even if you don’t have the budget to send out surveys or do formal market research, you can still take stock of Facebook comments, blog comments, and other social clues that reveal what your audience most wants from you.

2. Promote your broadcast ahead of time

Just like promoting a webinar with email marketing, social campaigns, and paid advertising, you can promote an upcoming Facebook Live video before it airs. The more promotion and preparation ahead of time, the higher your viewership will be – both in terms of quantity and quality of viewers.

Interviewing industry experts is an excellent way to provide valuable content while promoting your video before it airs – the more experts you showcase, the bigger your reach and potential audience during the broadcast. By leveraging the audiences of each of your guests before your Facebook Live stream begins, you can triple or quadruple the number of people who tune in to your video.

If Dun & Bradstreet had simply started broadcasting, they would never have been so successful. In the same way they prepared their video topic beforehand, they also had to promote their live video before it aired.

3. Take care of the technical stuff

In addition to preparing your topic and promoting your broadcast, you also have to prepare the technical stuff.

  • Make sure you have a strong Wifi connection
  • Place your smartphone on a tripod to avoid that shaky ‘hand-held’ effect
  • Make sure you have good lighting and good sound – that means it’s easy and pleasant to see and hear everyone who needs to be seen and heard

4. Optimize your Facebook description

Some people in your audience may have Facebook videos set to autoplay, where any video in their newsfeed plays automatically. Others may have this setting turned off, and only press play if a video description or thumbnail catches their eye.

That’s why it’s crucial to create a great video description using keywords, hashtags, and compelling benefits to encourage the viewer to click play. Keywords and hashtags make it easy for people searching Facebook to find your content, while a strong description compels the viewer to watch now.

Keep your description between 40 and 80 characters – that’s the length that’s been statistically shown to have the highest number of conversions and shares on Facebook. 40 characters is not a lot to work with, so remember – keep it brief and benefit-rich.

5. Engage viewers

The beauty of Facebook Live is that throughout the broadcast, you’ll be able to directly interact with your audience. When they comment on your video, you’ll be able to view the comments and respond verbally right on camera. Being able to call viewers by name and answer their questions in real time is a fantastic way to build instant trust and rapport.

6. Be prepared – but not too polished

If you watch the Dun & Bradstreet video, you’ll see that the host and his expert guests are prepared, but not too polished. Clearly a lot of preparation went into gathering the right people in the same room at the same time. But the conversation never feels scripted or over rehearsed.

That feeling of spontaneity is crucial for success on Facebook Live. The whole point of watching a live video stream is to see things happening in real time. If your live stream feels more like a calculated presentation, your audience may view your company and brand as inauthentic.

7. Repurpose your content

One of the best things about Facebook Live is the fact that the video stays on your newsfeed and prospective customers can watch it any time – even if they missed the original broadcast.

While the excitement of watching a live broadcast isn’t as acute after the fact, you can still generate buzz by promoting and showcasing your live video recording to those who missed it. Your B2B customers and prospects still get valuable content, and you can use the recording to start promoting your next Facebook Live video.

Facebook Live is a powerful, engaging, cost-effective way for B2B businesses to attract leads, demo products, build trust and engage prospective buyers.

Live video generates buzz and excitement in a way other types of content simply can’t. By tapping into the innate power of Facebook Live, you can create powerful publicity for your brand, connect with interested buyers, position yourself as an innovator in your industry, and generate revenue faster than ever before.

References

  1. http://www.fastcompany.com/3028656/work-smart/the-proven-ideal-length-of-every-tweet-facebook-post-and-headline-online

 

7 Secrets of Online Event Marketing Success

Originally published at Hoovers.com

Online events are fantastic for building brand awareness and driving small business sales. Unlike traditional events, which require a physical location and incur a variety of different hard costs, online events are low-cost and low-maintenance with the potential for very high returns.

Just like a live event, virtual events require a strong marketing plan to ensure their success. The right preparation is key to making sure your online event is not only well attended, but attended by the right people – the ones most likely to purchase your products and services and become loyal fans of your brand.

Whether your online event is one-time or ongoing, a webinar or a course, a large virtual summit or a VIP mastermind group, these 7 secrets of marketing success will help you get more sign-ups, attract more attendees, and transform those attendees into paying customers.

  1. Choose a Proven Topic

No matter what format your online event takes, the topic and format of the event should be based on research. The best online events have components of education and entertainment. They provide an enthralling experience for attendees while sharing valuable information that make their lives better.

While it may be tempting to brainstorm highly creative, innovative topics for your online event, it is far more effective to design your event around the problems, questions, and interests of your prospective customers.

Find out what your prospects are struggling with, or what they’re most passionate about. Then, choose event topics, speakers, classes, and offerings based on what you have discovered.

How can you determine which topics will succeed with your target market?

You can…

  • Create a survey and send it to your email list
  • Research comments and threads on forums and social platforms
  • Look at past events held by your competitors, and poll attendees about what they liked and didn’t like

When you plan an online event around a topic your audience is sure to be interested in, half the marketing battle is already won.

  1. Conduct social outreach

Even if you have a robust email list and social following, one of the biggest benefits of holding an online event is exposing new prospects to your brand.

In addition to marketing your event to existing and past customers, leave yourself enough time to connect with new leads that may be interested in attending your event.

  • Track trending topics and keywords on social media that are relevant to your event. When the opportunity presents itself naturally, engage with prospects and share your event as a solution to their problem or answer to their question.
  • Follow and friend prospects that fit the target market description for your event. Engage them by sharing their content, liking their pages, and commenting where appropriate. Work to build an authentic relationship first and then direct them to your event sign-up page when the time is right.
  • Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups whose members may be interested in your event. Become an active member of the group and provide valuable insights and help to other members without asking for anything in return. When the moment feels right, share your online event with members who may be interested.

You can also conduct a paid PPC campaign to promote your event via social media. However, given the organic nature of social interactions, your best bet is to develop authentic relationships with individuals first, then supplement with a paid campaign second.

  1. Design a great landing page

For online event marketing, your landing page is everything. It is the catalyst that excites prospective attendees and inspires them to sign up for your event.

In Step 1 and 2 above, you laid the foundation to drive targeted traffic to your event landing page. Now that you have a proven topic for your event and targeted traffic coming from social media and your email list, it’s time to create a landing page that converts.

  • Choose a strong, benefit-rich headline that immediately captures the attendee’s interest.
  • Make use of video, graphics, and multimedia. Consider split-testing different layouts to see which page design works better.
  • Focus on the benefits of your event. What will participants get out of attending? How will your event make their lives better? What problems are you solving?
  • If applicable, include the photos and testimonials of past event attendees. If your event features industry experts or thought leaders, be sure to include their photos and bios as well for an extra boost of social proof.
  • Make sure the only place people can click is to the registration page. Don’t include any external links that could distract them from your goal.

Your landing page can make or break your online event. Make sure it’s benefits-focused, light on text and heavy on social proof. Make it as easy as possible to sign up for your event, and constantly remind the attendee what they’ll get for attending.

  1. Create an email autoresponder campaign

Now that you’ve secured plenty of sign-ups with a great event landing page, you’re marketing is as good as done, right?

Sorry! Step 4 is actually where the real work begins. Getting sign-ups is great, but what you really want is for everyone who signed up to actually attend your online event.

According to Shibani Roy, a senior digital marketing executive at LeadSquared, the average registration-to-conversion rate for webinars is as low as 30%. [1] Hubspot estimates even lower average attendance at just 25%.[2] That means if you get 125 people to register for your online event, only about 30 are likely to show up.

The best way to increase your chances of higher attendance is by making use of email autoresponders. These ‘set it and forget it’ campaigns allow you to automatically remind registrants about your upcoming event through strategically timed emails.

Autoresponders are not only great ways to remind registrants about your event in the weeks, days, and hours before it happens; they are also fantastic for promoting the benefits of your event, providing further testimonials and social proof, and introducing registrants to other aspects of your brand.

  1. Leverage brand ambassadors and industry experts

The next proven way to market your online event is by leveraging relationships with brand ambassadors and industry experts.

Work with your current customers and colleagues to promote your event to their networks and exponentially expand your marketing reach.

  • If you have a loyal customer who’s also well connected, ask them to share your event with their friends and followers.
  • Offer affiliate incentives or discounts to current customers who can secure sign ups to your event.
  • Reach out to industry experts and thought leaders in your field, and ask them to take part in the event. Find ways your event will benefit their audience, and offer an incentive for sharing your event with their email list and social networks.

Leveraging personal connections is the best way to market your online event, but don’t worry – they don’t have to be your personal connections! Reach out to colleagues and even competitors and present your event as a mutually beneficial opportunity to provide value to your respective audiences.

  1. Time it just right

When it comes to online event marketing, timing is everything. Give yourself plenty of time to engage attendees and partner with influencers long before your event is scheduled.

As the event draws near, make sure to time your email campaign for maximum impact. The closer you get to the day and hour of the event, the more reminders you’ll need to schedule.

Here’s a sample email campaign schedule for the week leading up to an online webinar:

  • 7 days before the event – benefit-rich reminder email
  • 5 days before the event – email with video testimonials from past attendees
  • 3 days before the event – reminder email with social share request
  • 2 days before the event – reminder email with incentive to share with friends
  • 1 day before the event – TWO emails with last-chance incentives and reminder of benefits
  • Day of event – email link with online event access
  • 30 minutes before event – resend link with time-sensitive reminder
  • Event start – “We’re live, join us!” email reminder
  • 10 minutes post start – “We’re live, where are you?” autoresponder sent to registrants who have not joined the event

Depending on the type of online event you’re holding and the nature of your attendees, you may need to send more or less reminder emails in the days and hours leading up to your event.

Regardless of your event type and audience, the marketing experts at Hubspot recommend sending a minimum of two email reminders in the 24-hour period before your event happens. [3]

  1. Follow up

After choosing a killer event topic, conducting social outreach, designing a great landing page, creating an email autoresponder campaign, leveraging relationships with industry experts, and timing your reminders perfectly, you’re sure to hold a successful online event.

After the event, you have an opportunity to entice attendees with special offers and to purchase your products and services.

While you’ll likely make a special offer during your online event, not everyone will make a purchase. While interest is still high in the days and weeks following the event, be sure to follow up with another email autoresponder.

Use this campaign to…

  • Reiterate the value provided during the event
  • Give access to slides, videos, or recordings from the event
  • Offer complementary products and services attendees will likely be interested in

Conclusion

Online events are a great way to boost profits short-term, but they’re also wonderful tools for cultivating long-term lasting relationships with new and existing customers. If you take the time to prepare and research before the event, and follow up strategically after the event, regular online events will prove to be some of the most indispensable tools in your marketing toolkit.
 

References

[1] https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-average-registration-to-attendance-rate-for-webinars

[2] http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33540/18-Ways-to-Guarantee-Nobody-Misses-Your-Next-Webinar.aspx#sm.0000kr8c1jg01ezty001ss0qb064v

[3] http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33540/18-Ways-to-Guarantee-Nobody-Misses-Your-Next-Webinar.aspx#sm.0000kr8c1jg01ezty001ss0qb064v

5 Digital Marketing Trends That Work Wonders for Small Business

Smart Simple Marketing - Small Business TrendsIt’s tough to keep up with digital marketing trends, isn’t it?

Every day there seems to be a new “must-have” app, new software programs, and new ideas about how to use digital tools to drive profits and win customers.

A lot of these trends come and go, while others become staples of any solid small business marketing strategy.

So how do you know what to pay attention to, and what to ignore? And how can you tell the difference between fly-by-night trends and new techniques that will really give your business a major boost over time?
[Read more…]

How to Get Listed in the Right Online Business Directories

Originally published at Hoovers.com

If your business is a local business, it’s highly likely that your customers are already using online business directories to find you.

How likely?

According to hyperlocal business monitor Street Fight, over 92% of internet users utilize online directories to find local products and services in their area. Customers crave the hyperlocal details and location-specific knowledge that larger search engines can’t always provide.

The problem with online business directories is that over 50% of these local listings contain business information that is either outdated, missing, or just plain wrong. Many directories aggregate information without your knowledge or permission, capturing what they can find from other websites. Before long, this game of digital ‘telephone’ results in completely incorrect listing information for your business – sometimes all over the internet! And that can be a huge problem when customers are trying to reach you.

It’s clear that you should keep your online business directory listings up-to-date. If you don’t, you could be missing out on new business. Prospects who become frustrated by calling the wrong phone number will quickly move on to the next competitor on their list.

But with hundreds, possibly thousands of online business directories to monitor, how can a busy small business owner find the time to submit to all of them?

How can you find out where your business is listed?

More importantly, how can you find out where your business information is listed incorrectly?

Here are three fast, powerful ways to help achieve flawless local listing management and make sure your business is listed correctly on the right online business directories:

  1. Know where your customers are searching

Do you know how most of your customers find your business online? For some small businesses, the answer may be “Google.” For others, it may be a local or hyperlocal search engine or online business directory. Knowing how your customers find you is a crucial first step in the listing management process.

Begin by conducting some keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner, or by entering some keyword sets into Google’s search engine.

Let’s say your business is a local florist. When you search “your city + florist” a bunch of local listings should come up, but in most cases you will also see several local business directories on the search results page. Take a look at the top 3 to 5 directories and search for your business. You can also try searching for local competitors.

These top-ranking directories in your community are likely to be searched by your customers. While it’s possible to update your business information on more than just a handful of sites (I’ll get to that in step #3), begin with those directories that are most likely to be seen by your target market.

You can update this information manually by claiming your business listing, contacting the directory manager, or editing the listing yourself once you’ve established it as yours.

Keep in mind that this is only a first step to help ensure your business information is accurate for those searching in your local market. There is still more to do to help make sure your business can be easily found anywhere online.

  1. Conduct a citation audit

Now that you have the top business directories in your local market updated with your correct business information, it’s time to see how accurate your business listings are elsewhere online.

Listing consistency can be crucial to your business being discovered. That means your NAP+W (name, address, phone number, and website) are the same across business listings and directories. Inconsistent listings with different addresses, missing suite numbers, or incorrect phone numbers won’t just confuse your customers – they can confuse search engines as well. This can make it infinitely harder for customers to find you and give you their business.

To find out if your business listings are consistent, use a search tool like the one available on Moz.com. In just a few seconds you’ll be able to see if your business is listed in multiple categories or with different NAP+Ws.

From there, you can find out where the different information is coming from. For instance, there might be one listing on Google My Business and another one on Facebook Places. Using this tool, you can check for duplicate listings and determine the source of your problem. Once you know where the wrong information is coming from and how widespread the problem is, you can make an educated decision about how to fix it.

  1. Choose the right tools with the biggest reach and impact

By this point, your business information should be accurately listed on the very top-searched business directories in your local area, and you’ve discovered discrepancies by conducting a citation audit.

The third and final step is to choose a tool to help you create accurate NAP+W listings across major online business directories and beyond.

Choose a tool that will help you get listed and stay updated on sites that your customers use. There’s no point in focusing on hyperlocal search engines like Yelp if you’re targeting customers all over the U.S., just as there’s no point in focusing on big search engines if your customers only find you through local search engines.

There are a few tools on the market and Dun & Bradstreet has several products that can help distribute your information:

  • Credibility Review can help you create a business listing that will be distributed to over 125 local search platforms, directories, navigation devices, and mobile applications. There are 3 tiers that include different features:
    • Silver – featured in search results, 750 word description, and 15 keywords for enhanced search
    • Gold – featured in Silver search results, VERIFIED™ Plus, Hoover’s Direct Submit Data Distribution, 1500 word description, 40 keyword for enhanced search, and hide competitors & stats on your profile
    • Platinum – featured at the top of all search results, VERIFIED™ Premium, Hoover’s Direct Submit Plus Data Distribution, 3000 word description, 80 keywords for enhanced search, hide competitors & stats on your profile, and advertise on your competitors profiles
  •  VERIFIED® – verify your business information and social networking accounts through a third-party verification process; distribute your business data and reach up to 90% of U.S. consumers through Dun & Bradstreet’s network of local search platforms, mobile apps, navigation solutions, and more; and access to a real-time VERIFIED business report verified by Dun & Bradstreet

These services range in price. However, all of these tools offer pricing packages for a variety of small business budgets, and some provide for free options.

In order to get found online, it’s imperative to have a consistent online presence. For local small businesses, that starts with consistently publishing the correct name, address, phone number, and website wherever your customers search online. Once your NAP+W is up-to-date, you can grow your presence in search engines and online business directories in order to get found by more and more customers locally and globally.

7 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Online Ads

Originally published at Hoovers.com

In 2016, it can be easy and cost-effective to target your audience using Search Engine Marketing across a variety of online channels. The trick is knowing which of those channels will give you the biggest Return on Investment (ROI), and which types of online ads will inspire your audience to take action.

While many small business owners use Search Engine Marketing to connect with their target markets online, most focus solely on Google AdWords campaigns. However, there are many online advertising opportunities that can be just as effective as AdWords, if not more so.

When you move beyond the traditional definition of a search engine, you can open yourself up to advertising on more strategic search channels – channels like Facebook and LinkedIn, where it’s possible to develop deeper connections with your target audience while creating ads that pinpoint their unique wants and needs.

Although Search Engine Marketing has become more strategic and more effective than ever thanks to social media, many small business owners still waste precious time and resources advertising in the wrong places, to the wrong audiences, with the wrong messages.

Here are the 7 most common Search Engine Marketing mistakes small businesses make, and how to avoid them:

1. Choosing the wrong platform

When you buy online ads, you are essentially ‘paying to play’ in the online space; in other words, you’re spending money to attract your target market online and get them to click on your ad.

Choosing the right platform is crucial to Search Engine Marketing success. If you don’t advertise where your target market hangs out online, you’ll waste money marketing to those with no interest in buying your services.

Why do so many small business owners create a Google AdWords campaign and stop at this point?

While advertising on Google search can be an effective strategy, it can also be wildly expensive and ineffective for certain types of businesses.

People use Google search to find information and answers to problems they’re having. If your business has a “how-to” blog where you focus on solving hyper-specific problems, such as how to troubleshoot smartphone issues or how to bake the perfect soufflé, buying AdWords could be an effective Search Engine Marketing strategy.

If however, your business is built on relationships, or creating tribes, or providing consulting services that require a lengthy courting process (as opposed to a ‘quick fix’), AdWords might leave you lost in the giant sea of Google.

When thinking of search engines, remember that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube are all search engines. Because of that, your Search Engine Marketing can focus on any of these platforms, all of which offer paid advertising opportunities and the ability to target smaller, more specific target markets.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match platforms as well. You may find that combining AdWords with YouTube advertising targets different buyer personas more effectively.

2. Writing the wrong ad copy

When purchasing online ads, you have very limited space to craft the perfect marketing message – one that will get the user to click on your ad.

Because of this limited space, it’s important to create a powerful, benefit-rich headline and text that includes a specific Call to Action (CTA).

Let’s say your company sells accounting software, and you want to run an ad on Google. Every part of the ad – from the headline you choose to the URLs you include – has two jobs:

  1. Intrigue the user and distract them from what they were already doing online
  2. Get the user to click on your ad

The only way to achieve these goals is with copy that gets attention and clearly states the benefits of your product.

Instead of focusing on features of your product or service (“offers payroll and payments”), use your limited space to focus on benefits (“free trial,” “custom solutions,” “quick to deploy,” “money back guarantee,” etc.).

Next, use the rest of the ad space to tell the user what to do next. Move beyond “click here” to more specific, benefit-rich CTAs like:

  • Get the app
  • Take a free tour
  • Try it free for 30 days

Remember that with Search Engine Marketing, every word counts. Choose your keywords carefully by asking yourself “What is my target market searching for?”

Whether creating an AdWords campaign for Google or advertising on a different search engine, it’s helpful to use the Google Keyword Planner to find affordable-but-competitive keywords for your ad.

3. Using a bad design

One of the costliest mistakes I see people making with their advertisements is poor design. The design of your ad matters, not just in terms of getting people’s attention, but in getting them to actually click on the ad.

With AdWords, you don’t have much say in how your ad looks. But if you’re advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, or another website, the visual aspects of your design become very important.

The design of your ad should be appropriate for the platform.

  • If you’re placing a banner ad on a professional-looking financial website, don’t use a flashy design with crazy colors and frenetic animation.
  • If you’re targeting Millennials on Reddit, on the other hand, a fun, eye-catching GIF or wild image could be just the way to get the click.

4. Clicking through to the wrong landing page

With all the time and money you’ve spent getting the click, you’d think the story of your ad would end there. The user clicks your ad, you kick back with a latte, and the profits start rolling in.  Right?

Wrong!

Getting the click is just the beginning. What happens once the user clicks your ad is the most important part of the process.

Make sure you’re sending them to…

  • A landing page, website, blog post, or opt-in form that delivers on the promise made in your ad. Don’t hype up the amazing benefits of your accounting software and then send them to a generic homepage about your accounting firm.
  • A page that offers something of value, followed by an opportunity to interact with your brand. This might mean a sales page where they can make a purchase, but it could also mean a lead capture form where they can sign up for your email list.
  • A page with a clear CTA. Just as your ad tells the user what to do next (“click for a free trial”), the page you send them to should tell them which action to take (“download your free trial here”).

5. Failing to test

Search Engine Marketing can only be successful when you test, test, and test again.

What do I mean by testing? Constantly tweaking:

  •       The copy you use
  •       The images you choose
  •       The platforms you advertise on
  •       Your daily per-click budget

If you create an AdWords campaign and find that it’s not working, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Try changing one aspect of the ad – say, the headline – and see if that improves your click-through rates.

You can also run simultaneous ads with slightly different elements to see which ones are more effective.

  •   Try creating two different campaigns with exactly the same copy, but different pictures.
  •   Test what works best, and use what you learn to improve all of your current and future campaigns.

6. Not tracking ROI

Search Engine Marketing can feel really expensive, especially if you fail to track your Return on Investment. If you’re spending $1 every time someone clicks your ad, what is your ROI for that?

Things can get a little hazy here, especially if you have a sales funnel with multiple steps. If a user clicks on your ad, then completes a series of additional steps, and ends up purchasing from you six months later, how can you tell whether that ad was worth it or not?

  • First, set specific goals for every ad campaign you create. Only when you define clear outcomes can you measure the success of those outcomes.
  • Second, make sure you’re tracking the right metrics when running an ad campaign. This might mean creating tracking URLs in AdWords, measuring email opt-in’s after someone clicks a Facebook ad, or modifying your AdWords account to better reflect your specific advertising goals.
  • Third, use all of the tools at your disposal – from Google Analytics to social media metrics – to determine a specific dollar amount that indicates the ROI of each ad you place. You should be able to say “if we spend $1 per click on this ad, our ROI is $1.25, or a twenty-five percent profit.”

7. Not scaling ROI

Once you’ve successfully determined your ROI, don’t stop there. Many small businesses make the mistake of getting stuck into an advertising cycle and ‘failing to scale.’

If you’ve created an ad with the right copy, the right design, and are advertising on the right platform, you should see a positive ROI. Once that’s in place, it’s time to scale your ad in order to increase profitability for your overall campaign.

Let’s say you’re spending $100 per month on an AdWords campaign, and that’s generating $125 in revenue. If you scale your campaign by spending $200 per month on advertising, will your revenue increase to $250?

The only way to find out is to test.

If you increase the amount of your ad spend and find that your profits hold steady, try continually increasing in increments ($500/month, $750 month) to see if the campaign scales. If it does, you’ve discovered a ‘secret sauce’ that works with your target market – keep scaling up to keep increasing your profits!

In order to preserve precious resources and make the most of online advertising, be sure to….

  1. Advertise on the right platform.
  2. Write the right ad copy.
  3. Invest in the perfect ad design.
  4. Make sure your ad clicks through to a strategic landing page.
  5. Test different versions of your ad with different audiences on different platforms.
  6. Track your ROI.
  7. Scale your ROI to increase profits.

5 Profit-Boosting Essentials For Your Small Business Website

Originally published at Hoovers.com

Your website is much more than an online storefront for your small business. If properly optimized, your website can become one of the most important resources in your marketing toolkit. It can help your customers find you online, generate new leads, enhance your authority in your industry, and significantly increase overall profits.

If a website is so important for running a successful small business, why do so many business owners overlook it? You’ve probably seen many bad websites: poorly designed, poorly planned, with little-to-no value for the visitor.

Many small business owners believe that creating a great website is too expensive. Others simply don’t know how powerful and impactful a website can be when the right tools are used.

Boosting profits with your website isn’t just about using the right website design. In order to increase your website’s ROI, it’s crucial to include five core website essentials throughout your site. These essential items will help…      [Read more…]

(Very) Low Cost Market Research Tips for Small Businesses

survey-business-growth_270In order to stay successful and relevant as a small business owner, you have to “give the people what they want.”

That means never leaving business decisions to chance or guesswork, and always basing your next move on client feedback and market research.

Market research isn’t just for big corporations, and it doesn’t have to be insanely expensive.

If you’re interested in…

  • Understanding what problems your ideal clients are struggling with
  • Improving your customer experience, your product, or your service
  • Assessing customer needs and expectations
  • Determining how receptive your audience will be to new products or services

[Read more…]

4 Email Marketing Secrets That You Need To Deploy… NOW

Email marketing - powerful strategyYou need to know this…

That is the reason I will share all of the details with you right here, right now.

As a small business owner, roughly 90% of your business comes from repeat clients and customers.

But what about the other 10%?

The most successful businesses are the ones that are able to tap into new client bases through marketing and engagement, convert leads into paying customers, and turn customers into repeat clients and brand champions.

Since word-of-mouth remains the #1 way to promote your business and increase profits regardless of your industry, engaging your customers and getting them to tell their friends about your business is the best way to secure that remaining 10% of the market.

Thanks to email marketing and social media – what’s commonly known as “Engagement Marketing” – it’s easier than ever for customers to share their experiences with friends, family, and the world.

The best part about Engagement Marketing is that it’s measurable. By tracking email opens, clicks and social shares, you can pinpoint exactly what your customers want and make sure you’re the one to give it to them.

Email marketing is particularly effective for increasing engagement, referrals, and sales. But simply sending any old email to your customers isn’t enough to increase profits – your content must be strategically created to increase positive word-of-mouth between your current and prospective customers.

Here are 4 email content secrets proven to get your customers engaged, keep them coming back, and turn them into brand advocates.      [Read more…]