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Social Media, Local SEO, Pokemon & You

Adobe Spark (9)

A virtual phenomenon swept the country last year aiming to get “gamers” who stereotypically live in their parents basements, wear sweatpants, and subsist on hot pockets out into the real world, interacting with the elements. You may have heard of it – “Pokemon Go.”

While I have to admit that I tried it out and enjoyed it for a while, it became a waste of time. HOWEVER, my son has recently taken it up and since he’s only 8, I have to go around with him.

Essentially, the game consists of walking around your neighborhood or city hunting and “catching” virtual and fictitious animals with ridiculous names that you can then use to battle against other players’ collections.

But part of the game is “checking in” at various places of interest to collect supplies. They’re called “Poke-Stop’s.” Walking around with him got me thinking, “This is what Chem-Dry owners should be doing!”

You Want Me to WHAT?!…

Okay, so I don’t literally want you to go out playing a video game. You have more important things to do. But I want you look at it this way:

As a service-area business, you want to be local. SUPER local. A great way to do that is to tie your business to local places of interest. What does that mean?

Here are a few ideas:

  • When your technician gets lunch, does he/she go to a popular local diner? Have him/her snap a quick picture of their plate along with your business card.
  • Cleaning for a business? Take a picture of your team out front of the establishment before you begin. Encourage people to come by the next day to see what a great job you did.
  • Participating in a town parade? Share your parade position and what you’ll be handing out.

Ideally, you should pair a picture every time you do this (it improves engagement). But the biggest thing is that you “check in” when doing so. It’s easy.

How Do I Do That?

On Facebook (Desktop):

Click to start writing a post from your business page. Then “Check In” to a local place. If you’re not actually nearby, you can search for it and select the location.

 

Facebook Mobile:

pencil

Just touch the “Publish” icon to start typing a post (the pencil & paper one like you see over to the right).

Then, from the next screen, touch the “Check In” icon at the bottom right of your screen. Again, if you’re nearby, the place should come up automatically. If you’re not, simply search for the business and tag the listing.

It’s that easy. Now, not only will your post show up on your own Facebook page, tying you to the noteworthy location, but the place/business’s page will get a notification that you checked in there and THEIR followers will see your post as well.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Instagram (Mobile Only):

If your company is doing Instagram (which I highly recommend, in this webinar), you can kill two Pidgey’s (or birds) with one stone.

After you selected your picture and typed your caption (using the appropriate Chem-Dry hash-tags), you can flip the Facebook switch (and Twitter if you like) for your own page and then use a locale that’s recommended under “Add Location”. When you do that, you’ve accomplished the Facebook Check-In AND the Instagram one.

Big Takeaway:

Social Media and location tagging is a great, easy way for you to connect your business to the community. It doesn’t take much. A few pictures/posts each month will go a LONG way.
  1. Check in at local places of interest.
  2. Find a way to tie your business to the place.
  3. Invite customers to check out the other business to see how you did. Their customers will see your activity as well.
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Some Just Want to Text

why_we_love_text_messaging

I’m about to write regarding something that’s usually met with rolled eyes and sighs or reluctant acknowledgement – Text Messaging.
Yes, yes. I know. Texting is the bane of most “responsible” adults because all they see nowadays is their kids or other younger people staring at their phones with thumbs flying to tweet, text, or instant message their “friends”.
But here’s the question I must ask you: Would you really turn away a perfectly willing customer just because they prefer to text message rather than call you to schedule a job? I didn’t think so.

Customers Texting You

Consumer’s lives today move at breakneck speed. Between meetings, running kids to soccer practice, catching up on social media, and keeping dinner from burning, they don’t have time for hardly anything – especially conversations that aren’t convenient to have during the day. If you’ve noticed a change in the dynamic of phone calls with your customers, there’s a reason – they’re busy.
Picture this: Mrs. Jones is a busy mom of 3. While her two oldest are at school, she’s running errands of all sorts with her youngest in tow. She’s constantly thinking about the PTA meeting she has this evening, whether or not to buy Lucky Charms or the “organic, non-GMO” cereal that her kids won’t touch, and the article she’s been asked to write for her part-time job. As she’s hurrying through the grocery store, she walks through the cleaning isle and spots a bottle of some junky surfactant-loaded spot remover and realizes, “Shoot. I need to get our carpet cleaned before the party on Saturday, but I don’t have time to call them right now.”
After a quick Google search, she finds a local Chem-Dry’s listing and sees that, lo and behold, she can TEXT them to ask about availability! She taps the “message” button your listing and you’ve got an engaged customer that wants an appointment, STAT!

How Do I Do That? And What’s the $$$?

Google to the rescue! You probably didn’t know it, but you can set up text messaging with your Google My Business listing without any cost or risk of divulging your cell number. Your customer never sees it. In fact, they see a dummy number that Google assigns to you. YOU, however, WILL see your customer’s number.
When you log into your Google My Business account, you’ll see several menu options on the left side of the screen. Select “Messaging”. You’ll enter the mobile phone number you want to use for texting and verify it with a code that Google will send you. After that, you’re all set. You’ll be able to craft an outgoing message that automatically responds when your customer starts the conversation.
I tinkered around with this on my own and found it very intuitive. I even had a short text message conversation with the business (myself).
You see on the right how such a conversation might work for you. Pretty easy, right?
Do you think you could handle this? OF COURSE you can!
Oh, and guess what else… It’s FREE! That’s right. It costs you precisely $0.00. Since most of you probably have an unlimited text messaging plan, there’s no need to worry about any cost whatsoever.

Why Should I? Will I Ever Really Need It?

Short Answer:  Because it’s easy and it’s cheap.
Long Answer: While you may not have that many customers come to you via text message, you don’t really know how many of your customers you’re missing until you try it out.
People today are getting more and more reserved and giving them the option to text you to arrange service could be just one other way to set yourself apart from the competition. It’s not hard, and it shows courtesy and deference to people who may not be able to comfortably contact you otherwise. You just won a loyal customer because you let them contact you on their terms.

Big Takeaway:

Texting isn’t going away anytime soon. If there’s an opportunity to quickly and easily capture a customer via text message, why wouldn’t you do it?
  1. Set up your Google listing with a mobile phone number for texting.
  2. Craft a welcoming message to potential customers.
  3. Keep your phone available and answer promptly!
Text messaging is another potential funnel to bring customers in to your business. Get yourself set up or schedule an appointment to get some help.
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Advertising on Google for Free

Yes, you read that correctly – FREE. Doesn’t cost you a dime. And it’s easy. We’re not talking about the complexity of AdWords. This is something you could do from your phone. All you need is a few minutes.

Google “Posts”

Google My Business has recently released a new feature called
“Posts” that allow you to highlight specials, services, and other media directly below your Google listing in search results.
See the example that I’ve shared below where TNT Chem-Dry in Nashville has leveraged the space below their Google listing to feature a special for carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, and highlighting their reviews. This costs NOTHING! Let’s show you how to do it.
TNTCD Google Posts

Creating “Posts”

Start by signing into your Google My Business account. When you get to your home screen, you’ll see a menu like this over to your left.

You’ll not only have access to your reviews and other information here, but you’ll notice the “New” feature pointing to “Posts”. Click there.

 

 

On the next screen, you’ll see something that looks like this. If you click anywhere in the white box, you’ll be given a screen like the one you see below.

Now you get to create your post.

I’d recommend doing something with a picture that you either downloaded from the Gateway or a high-resolution photo you took yourself. Maybe a before/after shot.

You can also make it an “event” adding dates for the promotion and create a button to drive action like “reserve” or “get offer” which take them to a page on your website.

The Finished Product

By the time you’re done, you should have something resembling what you see to the right.

I’ve highlighted the allergen study results, added a time frame, and made a compelling offer for people to call.

It took me about 5 minutes to put this together. See how easy it is?

Big Takeaway:

It’s not very often that Google gives you the chance to advertise for FREE. Take advantage of every opportunity they give you. This will be especially relevant if you’re working on building up your online reviews, too!
  1. Update your Google My Business listing.
  2. Pick 2-3 pictures that you can create a “post” with.
  3. Make some alluring posts that can drive customers to call your business!
This is a HUGE opportunity that can really benefit your business. Don’t miss out on it! If you’d like some help, click here to schedule an appointment with me.
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SEO Supports PPC – Not The Other Way Around

It’s been a common idea and belief in the small business world that Pay-Per-Click website traffic boosts Search Engine Optimization and organic ranking. Most business owners have the plan of paying an SEO specialist to work on their website so that it eventually ranks highly enough so as to not need PPC.
I, however, believe that idea to be misguided. Here’s why.
***(Side note: I drew that picture. Feel free to mock my art skills.)***

PPC Traffic Doesn’t Always “Count”

When a website visitor gets there via paid advertisement, Google (obviously) knows it. Depending on the duration of their session (visit to the website), and how they interacted with your website, the traffic may not meet their “qualifications” for a visit. The biggest reason is that if PPC traffic counted as “true” website traffic, that would mean that you can buy website visitors.
While those criteria of what truly “counts” isn’t commonly known or talked about outside the fortressed walls of Google, you have to understand that Google’s biggest concern is how interesting or relevant the information on your website is to whatever your target is searching for.

How Does SEO Support PPC?

When you combine Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click efforts, it’s known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The primary goal of SEM is to give your business as many placements as possible on the first page of search results.
That means you show up in an ad, the map listing (3-pack/”snack pack”), AND the organic (unpaid) search results. Ideally, you’d have all three down pat and enjoy a high “impression share” (percentage of times you show up vs. the number of times you have the chance to show up).
Continual, regular updates to your website (SEO) help to make sure your website more attractive and relevant to searches on Google. The more optimized your website gets, the better prices and placement you’ll start receiving when advertising with AdWords.
Once your website start showing up well in the organic search results, however, that doesn’t mean you should give up advertising. On the contrary, your paid placement only increases the chances that the person who started the search will end up on your website.

NEVER Stop Doing PPC or SEO

Search Engine Marketing is a continual process. You should be doing both PPC and SEO so that you increase your chances of being found – especially when you have potential customers who are actively looking for someone of your expertise. It’s like submitting a bid for a commercial job in miniature. You pay for the chance to have your customer hire you.
The better your website performs, the cheaper you’ll be able to make your bid, or at least you’ll get a higher placement in comparison to a competitor placing the same bid.

Look At It This Way

Go back to when you were a little kid and think about the Merry Go Round on the playground. It was one of my favorite things. I have very dear memories of the playground down the street from my grandma’s house. When my cousins would all get together, the little kids would all pile on and the bigger kids would be the pushers. But there was a BIG difference between my wimpy cousin being a pusher and my older brother (who worked out). When he pushed, we got going so fast that we thought we’d go into orbit!
That’s how an optimized website can propel your PPC efforts. The better your site, the more Google is willing to promote you to potential customers, and the more often you’ll show up (think of revolutions on the merry go round). You’ll also have to pay less and less for your clicks (once it gets going, you don’t have to push as hard to keep it that way).

Big Takeaway:

No matter where your business is located or how long you’ve been there, the ideal is for you to show up as often as possible when a potential customer is searching for you. SEO supports PPC efforts, which should never stop.
  1. Talk to your SEO & PPC vendors about how often you’re showing up in search.
  2. Never stop doing PPC advertising. It’s an opportunity to connect with potential customers.
  3. Never stop working on your website. Google is constantly changing its search algorithm. Your vendor should never stop working on your website.
Take a look at your SEO and PPC strategies to make sure they’re aligned. Your website should support your PPC efforts. Always remember that.
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Why Hiring a Digital Vendor is Worthwhile

In my work as a business coach and in my conversations with business owners, I often have to ask myself “Is this something I’d be willing to do myself?” Even though I consider myself a “jack of all trades,” especially where it comes to digital marketing, there comes a point where I have to admit that I’ve reached my limit of ability and need to bring someone else on board.
Could I learn to do it myself effectively? Probably.
Would it be worth hiring someone else to do it? Probably.
I’ve been harping for years now about how important it is to be doing online marketing. As a business owner, you have to be willing to ask yourself “If I’m not getting it done, is it important enough to have someone do it for me?” In the case of online business growth, my answer would be a resounding “YES!”
Here are 3 reasons why hiring a digital marketing vendor is worth your hard-earned money:
1) Time Savings
2) Knowledge & Expertise
3) Business Growth

Time Savings

As a business owner, you have many demands on your time. Whether it’s answering phones, managing employees or – most importantly – servicing customers, from when you wake up to the time your head hits the pillow, there seems to be a non-stop barrage of “things”.
Would you rather spend your most precious and valuable commodity (time) trying to do those “things” yourself or risk them not getting done?
If you find at the end of the day there are still too many “things” to get done, save yourself some time and stress by letting a trusted vendor take care of it for you.

Knowledge & Expertise

Have you ever wondered why CEO’s manage to get so much done?
They delegate to specialists. That’s why your customers come to you and are willing to pay you for your service. You know more. You can do it better and faster than they can.
The same should be said of a vendor – especially in the ever-changing space of online marketing. To make sure it’s done right, and at the right time, it’s worth having someone take that off your plate. Just like you go to annual training’s to stay on top of your game, any vendor worth their salt is going to be attending conferences, re-certifications, and webinars. They’re going to be reading books and blogs on new subjects.
They speak “Digital Market-ese.” Do you? No? I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Business Growth

I hear all too often something like, “Scott, I can’t afford to do this stuff myself, how can I afford to pay someone else to do it?”
Look at it this way:
If you were to pay yourself for your time and work, what would you charge? $100/hour? If you’re taking time out of your busy day to manage your online marketing on a weekly basis (which you should be doing), you’re likely costing yourself $800-$1,600 (in time/opportunity cost) per month to do something you may not be technically qualified to do. That’s time that you could be spending doing what you do best – servicing your customers.
Instead, it makes more sense to pay a specialist $300-400 per month do help you get even MORE customers, make MORE money, and have MORE time to do it in.
You want to grow your business this year? Don’t just invest in digital marketing that you do yourself. Invest in someone to do that marketing for you.

Big Takeaway:

Your business needs digital marketing. If your time, knowledge, or costs are the reason it’s not getting done, are you ready to fix it?
  1. Check the list of approved vendors for services like Pay-Per-Click, SEO, and Social Media. Make a few calls to see what they can offer you. Most will do a free assessment for you as well!
  2. Adjust your marketing budget to allow for paying a vendor. You’ll free up time and sanity while seeing more quality work come to you.
  3. Read this post to learn more about holding your vendors accountable and making them work for you and with you.
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PPC Needs Mobile Access

Image Source_ worldwidemasters.com

According to a recent study, upwards of 60% of online searches happen on mobile devices. Google now gives organic search result preference to websites that are mobile-friendly.

On top of that, with the advent of “Expanded Text Ads” from Google, you now have ads that targeted at both desktop AND mobile websites, and you can tell it which one to pick, but the ad is the same. So what would you do?

There’s a BIG Difference

When it comes to accessibility for websites on mobile devices, it’s important that you make some changes. Searchers on mobile devices usually have:
  1. Immediate needs
  2. Short attention spans
  3. Small screens
That means you have to have the right information available to your customer as quickly and visibly as possible.
Below is an example from Carnation Chem-Dry Middleton, located near Madison, Wisconsin. They have done a GREAT job building their chem-dry.net website, which came with their franchise. It looks wonderful.
But here’s the thing:

While they’ve done a great job building the site, and it’s perfectly navigable on a desktop (i.e. ACTUAL computer) the site doesn’t naturally transition itself and adjust to be more readable on a mobile device like an iPhone or Android.

More recently, Carnation Chem-Dry has made the move to a more mobile-friendly “.com” platform (as seen below).

In this case, they’ve opted for a micro-site from Web Marketing Services at HRI, which have mobile versions of your core service pages (carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, PURT, tile, etc.) by default, and it’s not hard to add more. WMS has several templates available that work well, but you don’t necessarily HAVE to get one from them.
Most website hosts will now offer a mobile friendly website, which can drastically improve your overall organic ranking and site performance in Google because they recognize the trend toward mobile.

Why Mobile Matters

As I stated earlier, the number searches happening on mobile devices is quickly outweighing desktop searches which means that you need to have mobile versions of your web pages – especially your high-traffic pages.

Google’s new ad format, “Expanded Text Ads” increase the amount of text you can have in an ad by about 20%. While this is great in and of itself, it also makes it so you don’t have to create desktop and mobile versions of your ads. They adjust them for you based on the device doing the search, BUT you have the option of sending a mobile search to a mobile version of your page, which is what I would do.

What this means for you is that if you’re paying to have someone click on your ad, you want to get as much out of that click as you can. Sending someone on a mobile device to a non-mobile friendly page can really hurt your chances of converting.
For instance, if you are running a PURT ad, and you normally send people to your regular PURT page, it may work very well on desktop. However, if your desktop page doesn’t convert to a mobile one, you may lose out on that opportunity because the visitor gave up on finding what they wanted.

Big Takeaway:

If you’re currently doing any kind of advertising online, especially PPC, you should give serious consideration to the ratio of mobile searches to desktop. That means:
  1. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you need to get one ASAP. Talk to your vendor today.
  2. Pay-Per-Click ads (especially with new Expanded Text) are one of the most sure-fire ways to find new customers. You should be using them.
  3. When you start advertising on PPC, make sure you’re using mobile-ready versions of your web pages to enhance your customers’ experience and increase likelihood of conversion.
Take control of your online marketing today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.