Local Search Marketing

If you’re a small business with a brick and mortar store front, it’s important your customers – and prospects – in your local area find your business quickly. It may be a patient looking for physical therapy or someone hankering for a cupcake. In either case, you’ll need to have a website that’s optimized for local SEO (a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization) so you’ll be at the top of the Google or Bing search results page when people search “physical therapists near me” or “cupcake near me“.

Here are six ways to enhance your Local SEO and improve the chances your small business will show up in front of more local customers:

  1. Create a Google My Business Profile Creating a Google My Business page gives Google all the vital information about your business so you’ll listing will show up in local searches. It’s free and only take a few minutes to set up, so it’s a ‘must have’ for all brick and mortar small businesses.
  2. Check your NAP information “NAP” stands for Name, Address and Phone number and is the standard information that Google uses to identify your company as a local business. Check anywhere you have your NAP – on your website or in online directories like Yelp, Foursquare or AngiesList – to make sure that it’s exactly the same. This isn’t such a big deal for new companies, but if you’ve ever moved there’s a good chance one of your addresses isn’t up to date.
  3. Gather Reviews Nowadays, online customer reviews are the first place folks look when checking out your business.

    Pro tip: create a review request card and get it printed online at VistaPrint and hand it out to your customers at checkout. It’ll greatly reduce the time and effort it takes to get a review, and good reviews really boost your small business local SEO ranking.

  4. Have a Mobile-Friendly Site Today, more searches are done on mobile than on desktop. In addition, most customers are actually away from home when they search for local businesses. And since Google factors in your site’s “mobile-friendliness” in their ranking algorithm, it’s a good way to ensure your business will rank high on the search results page.
  5. Get High Quality Backlinks Backlinks – links from other relevant, high-quality websites – are a great way to boost your site to the top of Google or Bing. You get backlinks by creating awesome content that other people want to share or link to from their website. Alternatively, you can partner with other local businesses and co-author or guest author content for their website.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Web Design Fairy

There’s no such thing a magical web design fairy who can wave a magic wand and grant a small-sized business instant success. The recipe for a successful business website has two key ingredients:

  • hard work
  • persistence

Every small business owner knows their website is a vital part of their businesses. But here’s the deal: to have a shot at success, your online presence can’t be anything less than outstanding.

The most common mistake made when redesigning a website is that the owner fails to pay attention to the myriad of details before the site goes live. Consequently, the site launches and looks pretty good overall, but has tiny errors and glitches.

Sure, site visitors will find your newly redesigned website interesting, useful, navigable and enjoyable. But your visitors are coming to your site with a specific goal in mind. It can be that they’re looking for the answer to a question or in need of a specific product or service. First and foremost, you need to provide them with answers and/or services they’re looking for, but there are also several unwritten “gotchas” to avoid:

Rambling On and On

Nowadays, people will give your site only a few seconds before deciding if they’re going to continue reading. If they can’t instantly understand what your business in about, they’ll bounce.

As a business owner you must be ruthless with your content — edit, edit, edit and don’t pack too much above the fold.

Busy designs with tons of images, text and buttons take a long time to load. Give your visitors some breathing space and keep in mind that a crowded website is overwhelming. If a visitor is overwhelmed, they reach what’s called their “cognitive limit” and they’ll click away out of confusion. Aim for being brief, simple and perfectly clear.

Stale, Out-of-Date Content

Providing the latest information on products and services is imperative simply because your prospects, customers and industry are constantly changing.

A simple fix is to have a business blog with a new post every week. Not only will it drive visitors to your site, but search engines will reward you with higher ranking.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a large following or recent posts on Facebook or Twitter, temporarily deactivate the links to those sites from your website. It’s better not to expose yourself to the negative impact of being “behind” compared to your competition.

Aiming for the Wrong Target

A website without goals is similar to a race with no finish line. And not knowing your ideal customer causes confusion about who your website’s talking to.

Don’t design your website for “everyone”. Figure out who your most frequent users are and concentrate on creating the ideal experience for them. If you try to please everyone, in the end, you’ll end up pleasing no one.

Poor Optimization (SEO and Speed)

Unlike in your commute, when we’re talking about websites, traffic is great! It’s the single most desirable thing for a small business website as a site with no traffic is virtually useless.

In order to increase your overall traffic – visitors and clicks on your website – you need to optimize the way people find you and the speed at which your site performs. This means paying attention to your website’s SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEO involves many things, a few of which are:

  • describe your images with “metatags” so Google and Bing associate key search words with your pictures
  • make sure your images aren’t too large and slow the loading of your web page
  • add hidden “keywords” to your page so Google and Bing can rank your page higher
  • install helpful plugins to make it easy to manage your website’s SEO and page speed

Taking the DIY route

If you’re thinking of redesigning your website and want to do it yourself, that’s not a mistake. Just be sure to do what web designers do: put on your thinking cap and figure out:

  • Your ideal customer(s) and what makes them tick
  • The result you’re looking for
  • What you want to say
  • How you want to organize (structure) the information on your site and each page

Uuse the same processes that web designers use – creative strategy, persona development, site map, wireframe, design, code, QA, launch – to ensure you’re building a scalable site – one that’s solid today and easily upgradeable down the road.

Forgetting the Basics

  • Link to links: Always, always remember to hyperlink! Don’t be one of those companies who has their email address without making it clickable.
  • Mobile testing: Research shows that more than 50% of website visitors are on mobile devices, so make sure to test your site on a smartphone and tablet.
  • Social exposure: Don’t add social media links as an afterthought. Only add links to your social channels if you’re active on them.

Paying Too Little or Too Much

Lots of small business owners have been burned by shady web companies resulting in atrocious, overpriced disasters. Some assume that they need an expensive agency that’s worked with big brands in order to ensure they have a great website. The truth lies in between.

Simply put: don’t blow your budget on web design. Do thorough research before hiring a web agency and make sure you balance your marketing resources for a site upgrade – but more importantly – growth services to make sure your overall traffic increases.

Conclusion

Although there is no secret web design fairy, with hard work, persistence and by keeping these “gotchas” in mind, you should be able to create a magical website for your small business.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Website Credibility

The average user knows within a couple of seconds of landing on your site if they want to stay. That’s the harsh reality of trying to attract today’s attention-challenged web surfers.

Often, the reason they’re clicking away is because they website doesn’t feel credible.

In order to even have a chance of getting a site visitor to share an article, fill out a form, or make a purchase, your website must first be credible. Let’s take a look at four ways to increase a website’s credibility.

Design

The look and feel of a website is the most obvious place to start. That’s because people are wired to process visual information much faster than written content.

Images, colors, fonts, and icons are essential in helping users quickly determine what a site is all about. The trick is to keep things simple and obvious. It’s always preferable to have fewer elements on a page – say 12 to 15 – rather than overwhelming a site visitor with hundreds of tiny pictures and buttons.

Take your Home page. A common mistake is having too many visual elements on the page. The most common reason for cluttering up a Home page is because the you’re worried if you don’t tell a site visitor everything about your company, they might click away without finding it how great you are. The opposite is true! Instead, think of your Home page like the lobby of a building: give users a directory of what’s within your site and simple directions on how to get to their final destination.

The goal is to make your site “usable”. In other words, write simple headlines and use obvious buttons or links to guide visitors to the information they’re looking for.

And don’t forget to maintain the consistency from page to page. Don’t overdo it with too many font styles, sizes or colors. If you aren’t consistent you’ll increase the “cognitive load” – a fancy web designer’s term for how much a user has to think in order to decipher what you’re saying. By paying attention to the design of your site, users will – on an intuitive level – grant you “credibility points” because you’re showing that you understand how to clearly and simply present your products or services.

Content

While the visual aspect of your website is important, it really all boils down to the content.

Simply put, content should be useful. For example, if you have an online store, make sure you’re very detailed in your product descriptions. And by all means, be organized. Sort information into tabs – one for the product overview, another for features, another for technical information, etc. Sorting information into chunks allows users to enjoy discovering about your company and it’s products instead of being overwhelmed.

Another key to building credibility is to ensure your content is accurate and current. Nothing kills credibility faster than inaccurate or out-of-date content.

Social Proof

The whole idea behind social proof is we buy from people we like. Your business can gain trust when you highlight your relationships with your customers, prospects and other companies. The “company you keep” is all part of providing social proof that you’re a likable – and credible – company.

Some common forms of social proof are:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Social Media likes, mentions or shares
  • Industry awards
  • Press reviews

Links from your website to your social network pages allow users to connect with your brand. Another way to increase your credibility is to embed feeds from one or two of your social network on your website – like your the latest Tweets or Instagram posts.

Although you don’t need to have all of these forms of social proof on your site, the more social proof you provide, the more your website will improve your company’s credibility.

Security

Nowadays users are becoming more and more aware of electronic fraud and security breaches. It’s up to you to make sure you reassure site visitors that your site and their information is secure, particular if you’re an online store.

Even if you don’t have an online store, Google recommends you enable HTTPS for your site. The HTTPS system uses SSL encryption to create encrypted links between the server and the user. In this way, the data entered by the user cannot be intercepted by third parties, even for something as simple as filling out a contact form on your site.

If you have an online store, be sure to include security certificates to give your users peace of mind. These are logos or seals from companies like Verisign, Norton, TRUSTe, and others that you can place in your footer or on checkout pages.

Finally, if you don’t already have them, be sure to include Privacy Policy and Terms of Use links in your footer to assure users you won’t share their personal information.

In conclusion…

Contrary to what you might think, the credibility of your website isn’t just about security. It’s about simple, easy-to-understand design, thorough content and social proof. All four factors influence how a site visitor feels about your brand and company, so it is important that you consider them in order to gain their highest level of confidence.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Website Analytics Large

You’re a small business owner and you have a great website. You’ve even done some SEO for your site so your company can rank high on Google and Bing.

But how do you know if your website is getting results?

Google has a free service – Google Analytics – that provides you with a few sentences of text (a tracking code) to add to all of your website’s pages to provide you with all sorts of useful information about your site, including:

  • How many people are visit your website
  • Where your site visitors live
  • Whether they’re using a desktop, tablet or cell phone
  • Which pages are most popular
  • How many of your visitors become customers

But this is just a tiny portion of what Google Analytics can do for you.

This Quick Start Guide will help you sift through Google Analytics to find three of the most common metrics to give you a handle on how your website is performing.

Analytics Interface

1. Number of Visitors

The number of site visitors you get every week or month is about as basic as it gets – they more visitors you have, the better.

Visitors Overview

How to View: Click on Audience > Overview.

What to Watch: Once you have the Google Analytics tracking code installed, check your traffic baseline. Over time you’ll then be able to notice how your traffic slowly grows or spikes upward or drops.

What to Do: Slow, steady growth is what you’re shooting for, but if you see big changes in your site’s traffic, pay attention! A big upward spike may correlate to a recent post that got a lot of traction because you did a good job in promoting it on social media. Ask yourself, “What’s causing the increased engagement and how can we recreate it?”

2. How Visitors Are Finding You

Most small business owners don’t know visitors arrive at their website. Are they clicking on links in a Google or Facebook or Twitter? Well, with Google Analytics, your web traffic is divided into channels:

  • Organic Search – people click on a Google or Bing search link
  • Social – people click on a link on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Direct – people type your site’s address into a browser
  • Referral – people click on a link on Facebook, Twitter, news article, etc.
  • Email – people click on a link in an email
  • Paid Search – people click on one of your paid ads

Traffic Channels

How to View: Click on Acquisition > Overview.

What to Watch: Compare the relative success rate of each of your four traffic channels to determine which is performing best for you – organic keywords for Google and Bing search results, catchy social media posts that link back to your site or offline campaigns that require visitors to type in a specific web address.

What to Do: Tweak your marketing efforts to boost productivity. For instance, if most of your visitors are coming from Twitter referrals, focus your resources there while exploring ways to increase the performance of the other channels. Your goal is to continue to build on your successful traffic sources and troubleshoot your underperforming channels so they start to feed traffic to your site.

3. Time Spent On Your Site

Getting visitors to your web site is half the battle. The other half is keeping them there. That involves great design and compelling content and offers that piques their interest and attracts their attention.

Bounce Rate

How to View: Click on Behavior > Overview > Bounce Rate or Behavior > Overview > Avg. Time on Page.

What to Watch: Check out your bounce rate – the number of visitors who only go to one page on your site before leaving – and the amount of time a visitor spends on a specific page. The more you investigate what’s happening on individual pages, the more you’ll understand how to interpret the data.

What to Do: Are visitors finding and what they need or quickly leaving in frustration? For example, if a demonstration videos is 3 minutes long, but visitors are only watching 44 seconds, can you shorten the video or is the video host making people click away?

These three metrics are just the beginning of what you can do with Google Analytics. Once you master these, challenge yourself to learn how to run new reports to help you keep your website in tip top shape.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Small Business Website Return on Investment

So here’s the deal: figuring out the return on investment (ROI) of your website or digital marketing is simple. The only hitch for small businesses is it costs about $5K a month. That’ll give you access to a robust marketing automation platform (HubSpot, Salesforce, Marketo, etc.) and a decent budget to generate content and manage your lead funnel.

But for most small business owners that’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider the first year is when you set up the system and the second year is when you finally get to analyze and tweak the results.

So what can a small business owner do to prove – or at least give some level of assurance of – website and digital marketing ROI?

Here are the easy steps you can take to not only indicate ROI, but lay an important knowledge base for when you are ready to migrate to a robust marketing automation platform:

Know Your Baselines

First off, you’ve got to get some data on your website. Because without some sort of baseline of performance, you’re just winging it.

Google Analytics

The easiest and cheapest way to do that is to set up Google Analytics for your website. It’s free and all you have to do is add a few lines of code to your website. Once you do that, you’ll have access to all sorts of valuable statistics like:

  • number of visitors
  • length of visit
  • number of pages/visit
  • most popular pages
  • etc.

With Google Analytics, you’ll be able to slice and dice your statistics, compare month-to-month or year-to-year trends and identify content that’s getting the most traction with your audience. There’s so much information that it’s easy to get lost, so check out this blog post for a Quick Start Guide to Google Analytics for Small Business.

And if you have social media for your business, you can look at those metrics as well.

Twitter Analytics

For instance, if your company has a Twitter account, you can go to your account by clicking on your profile picture, then select “Analytics”. There you’ll find valuable insights to help you gauge the ROI of your social media activities.

Check out the statistics as often as you like, but at a minimum take a peek every quarter and see if you can take away one insight. Consider it practice for when you’ll be in charge of a more complex marketing automation system.

Ask Your Clients

Probably the simplest way to find out the value of your digital marketing is to simply ask your clients. A really easy way to do this for service businesses is to weave a couple of questions into the conversation during a kickoff meeting. For instance, just as the meeting’s wrapping up, casually say, “you know, I’ve been meaning to ask you, how did you find out about us?” After they give their answer, you can nurse a bit more specific information from them by asking, “so do you remember doing a Google search or reading our reviews? I’m just wondering how it is folks like you find out about us. Was it someone you knew who pointed you our way or maybe some of our blog posts?”

And you might want to consider collecting this intel in a Google Sheet, especially if you have a small sales or marketing team.

Learn SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an industry term for using words on your web pages that Google and Bing will use to help your site rank higher in the search results. The goal is to use the exact words people type into Google or Bing to find your products or services.

Now SEO isn’t necessarily going to prove ROI, it’s just that developing good SEO practices is vital to your business being found on the web. And since that’s what we’re trying to measure, you don’t want to assume your website isn’t working for you when your site’s performance was hindered by simply forgetting to use accurate keywords.

Build a Lead Generation System

Setting up a system to funnel leads to your sales team – a lead generation system – is how enterprises prove digital marketing ROI. This involves defining personas (common customer types) and all the different types of content (blog posts, white papers, social media posts, emails) needed to nurture a prospect along their “buyer journey” – from knowing nothing about your company to ultimately becoming a new client.

But what small business need is a simplified way to do create their own lead gen system.

The bad news is it’s not simple.

The good news is once you build it, you’ll have done all the hard work required to set up a marketing automation system, but without spending $5K/mo!

There’s a lot to cover, so when you’re ready, download our How to Build Your Own Small Business Lead Gen System.

Start Tracking Campaigns

Once you have your Lead Generation System, you’re going to need a way to track conversions (clicks, downloads, etc.). This is how you’ll ultimately determine your ROI. As you might imagine, if you have HubSpot, Marketo or Salesforce, all this is integrated into their platforms.

For the DIY small business, there is again yet another free option from Google: The Campaign URL Builder. This tool integrates with your Google Analytics and allows you to track the performance of an email campaign, landing page or download success page. It’s the exact same functionality as the big boys use and equally as robust, it just takes a bit of manual work to set one up each time you have a unique campaign you want to track.

ID Web Visitors

Lastly, if you’ve got a bit of money in your pocket and the majority of your prospects work at enterprise-sized companies, you might consider installing a Visitor ID tracking service (GleanView, WhoIsVisiting, etc.). With prices ranging from free to around $70/mo., you can get contact information on who’s visiting your website. It will identify the company that they work at and automatically add them to a popular CRM (Customer Resource Management software like Zoho, Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.) so you can reach out to them via phone or email.

While this isn’t very useful if your prospects are smaller businesses or individuals, it’s a simpler version of the tracking that all the major marketing automation platforms use and a great concept to be familiar with before you upgrade to a marketing automation platform.

But until you have $5K burning a whole in your pocket every month, give any one of these things a try. The sooner you implement even one of these, the sooner you’ll be on the road to determining your website and digital marketing ROI.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

effective website design

When it comes to your company website, giving your prospects and customers a great first impression is critical to building trust and credibility.

And if you’re like most small businesses, you want your website to act like a 24/7/365 salesperson to help you attract prospects, generate leads, and win new clients.

Here are six essential tips to get your small business website design whipped into shape.

1 Keep It Simple

Effective design is all about simplicity. If your website is too cluttered or confusing — lots of colors, too much text, tons of little graphics or annoying popups — site visitors will bounce. The better approach is to think of most of your web pages as billboards: focus on being brief and clear. Much like a person glancing at a billboard on a freeway, your site visitors are scanning your page for a reason to slow down to actually read your content. Embrace white space and simple, bold headlines. The more you do this, the lighter the “cognitive load” (the amount users need to think when deciphering your web page) and the more likely your site visitors will enjoy the experience of learning about your business.

But how can you tell if your website pages are simple enough?

Here’s a simple test: go to any page on your website and count all the elements on the page – headlines, text blocks, pictures, icons, etc. Then go to one of your competitors that you think has good website design and find a similar web page and count their elements. Chances are they have less elements on the page.

Take it a step further and compare the number of elements and compare the sizes. Is the text in the headlines larger on their website? Do they use fewer words? Are the pictures bigger or smaller? By looking at the number of elements and the sizes, you’ll start to figure out ways you can simplify your web page designs.

2 Make Navigation A No-Brainer

Helping site visitors quickly find what they’re looking for is a shockingly overlooked aspect of effective website design. If you just have a 10-page website it’s not a big deal. But as your site grows you need to have a plan to organize your pages logically so visitors won’t get lost or leave in frustration.

Pro tip: Want to know a simple way to test if your site navigation is intuitive? Ask someone. Find a person who doesn’t know your company or industry and ask them to find a specific page. Don’t help them, just observe. Encourage them to speak out loud the thoughts that are going through their head as they’re navigating your site. Once you’ve done this, congratulate yourself: you’ve just done your first user test and you’ve discovered the best way to find out if your site is intuitive to navigate!

3 Lock Down Your Brand

Nowadays, the company website is the flagship “brand” property. As such, it needs to accurately and positively represent your company and be the “sun” around which all the other pieces of your brand orbit. The trick is to be consistent – using the same logo, fonts, colors and visual style throughout your website and collateral materials.

Pro tip: Start gathering all the bits and pieces of your brand into a “brand guide”. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a corporate color palette, your primary font(s), and the source file (high resolution or vector-based) for your logo.

4 Be Responsive

When it comes to web design, being responsive means your website automatically adapts to the different devices that people use these days – desktop, tablet or mobile. That’s because the majority of site visitors use mobile, touch-enabled devices.

Did you know? Google lowers the search result ranking of websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. If you want your business to be found on the web, make sure your site is optimized for all devices!

5 Forms that are Easy to Love

Even a fabulously designed website isn’t working as hard as it should be if you’re not generating income. That’s where forms come in. Forms are used to capture contact information from your site visitors, but if they’re complex or clunky, your lead generation efforts will suffer. Don’t treat your forms as an afterthought.

Pro Tip: Create different forms for different purposes – short ones for quick access to helpful information for new prospects and longer forms for high-value downloads for users who are closer to a purchase decision.

6 Have a Friendly Contact Us Page

Most contact pages are just a directory of contact information. This is a huge mistake, even for small businesses in conservative industries. Make it a point to express a friendly, approachable personality on your Contact page. It sets you apart as “real” and easy to get in touch with.

Pro Tips: Provide a minimum of three ways to get in touch with you: phone, email, and contact form. And for brick and mortar businesses, have a Google map with your business address. 

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Content Marketing

Marketing is evolving.

Even if you’re the founder, owner and chief bottle washer at your small business – the future of marketing no longer found in a marketing department or in your freelance network. These days, anyone and everyone at your company can contribute to your content mix — particularly your sales team.

Here’s why: your website is a 24/7/365 salesperson. If it’s loaded with the right content, it can answer the most common questions your sales leads have.

So instead of a sales rep pestering prospects by answering a few questions at a time, homegrown content allow you to upgrade your marketing and gear content towards different target customer types (personas) at different stages in their buyer journey. This gives you two essential benefits:

  • it positions your business as an authority
  • it allows prospects to “raise their hand” when they’re ready to talk

Plus, content like blog posts or white papers are able to convey information thoroughly and consistently while making sure all of your leads are getting the same messages.

So if you’re ready to try generating your own content, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Capture Pain Points

Through conversations with prospects, sales reps uncover issues that trigger action – or “hot buttons”. These hot buttons correlate exactly to the type of content your prospects are interested.

The trick is to get sales reps into the habit of recording common questions and objections. Chances are they already have common responses to popular questions and a system of adapting them to different scenarios. But instead of keeping that intel to themselves, they can share it so it can be converted into marketing content.

2. Schedule a Sales and Marketing Powwow

No question about it: your sales team are the subject matter experts when it comes to your prospects pain points. But without a marketing mindset, there’s no way to brainstorm how to turn that knowledge into actual content.

Get marketing and sales in the same room for a powwow session to brainstorm ideas, prioritize needs, and create a plan for content creation. And if you don’t have two separate people in those roles, you take one role and have someone else at your company take the other.

Divvy up your leads into personas and catalogue their pain points at different stages of their buyer journey – awareness, consideration and decision. Doing a deep dive into your prospects and their challenges is the foundation of a robust marketing content plan.

3. Don’t Force Non-Writers to Write

If you’re like most small businesses, almost no one at your company is going to be comfortable writing content. That’s totally fine.

But it’s still important your sales reps are be involved in content creation to some degree because they’re the ones who know the questions prospects are asking and how to answer them effectively.

The easiest way to suck knowledge out of a sales reps head is to interview them and record their answers. A simple transcription of their answers can serve as the foundation for a blog post or whitepaper. A freelance editor can tag team with your sales rep to make sure their expertise is captured correctly.

4. Create a Resource Library

Collect all your blog posts, case studies, videos, and whitepapers in one central place to allow your sales team – and sales leads – to find the right resources. Tagging your resources by FAQ, content type, buyer stage or industry persona helps users find the exact resources they need.

5. Rinse and Repeat

Once you’ve built your marketing content system, don’t stop there. Continue sales and marketing powwows to address new data points, technologies, and questions that inevitably come up.

For larger businesses, consider using Slack or another instant messaging platform to make it easy continue conversations outside of meetings and to enable team members to share about questions or new ideas.

Keeping your sales machine humming isn’t easy, and it’s way tougher when you don’t have any resources. By following these five tips for creating content, you can help your sales team contribute to your company’s goals.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Business Blog

Many small business owners have a marketing department of one: you.

For small businesses with one-person marketing departments, a business blog can be your new best friend. Why? A blog on your website regular and ongoing attention to the products or services you offer, which is critical to helping prospects and customers find you on the web.

When done right, blogging – a.k.a. “content marketing” – will grow your business in ways you could never have imagined, increasing leads, search visibility and sales.

Here are the 6 great reasons to start your small business blog:

1. Boost Traffic to Your Website

Every business needs new customers to fuel growth and profitability. And getting them to find you on the web is usually an expensive proposition. You may have even tried your hand at Google, Bing, Facebook or Yelp Ads only to discover that the learning curve isn’t cheap.

Small businesses have small budgets and for them to thrive, they have to come up with creative ways of attracting traffic. That’s where your small business blog comes in.

Think of every new blog article – or “post” – as a new page out there on the web just waiting to be discovered by prospects. The more blog posts you generate, then greater the chances your website will rise to the top of Google’s search results pages.

2. Convert Traffic into Leads

Every effective blog has an underlying strategy. Typically it’s to convert a site visitor – or lead – into a new customer. This is called “lead conversion”. Since every blog post becomes a new page on the world wide web, web surfers who visit your blog have the potential to be your new customers. That’s why every blog page should have a form – or “call-to-action” – off to the side or at the bottom asking for the blog visitor’s email address. This becomes a valuable list of leads for you to nurture through email marketing.

3. Build Authority

A really good small business blog does more than dish out helpful information to customers and prospects – it positions you as an industry leader.

Blog posts that are relevant and informative to your target customers also establish you as a reputable authority in your industry. It’s a funny thing, but lots of the time small business owners devalue their industry knowledge. Don’t be fooled into thinking that simply because it’s second nature for you doesn’t mean it’s not important – it’s precisely this type of knowledge that makes customers perceive you as a “subject matter expert.”

4. Boost Customer Engagement

By it’s very nature, a blog is a great way to strengthen your relationship with your new and existing customers. It facilitates engagement by sharing relevant information and thereby building trust and confidence in your products or services. Blogs make it easy to start a two-way conversation via the comments section at the bottom of each post.

5. Increase Your Audience

Content sharing is one of the top reasons to start a small business blog. When one of your customers shares a post, it boost your company’s reputation and your website’s authority in the eyes of Google. Over time, blog shares build social trust and expand your audience in an authentic way, much like word of mouth.

6. Drive Long-Term Results

The long-range value of your small business blog is that over time, the larger your “digital footprint” becomes. This means the more posts you have, the more links and shares your site will have. This means that your website – and small business – becomes more visible to Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and the like. For months and even years to come, the effort you put into your blog will continue to generate traffic and new leads.

So, in case you haven’t tried it yet for your small business, start a blog. It’s a sure-fire way to build traffic for your website, boost engagement with your customers and generate new leads for your small business.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.