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Google is the New Yellow Pages… Did Your Company Adjust?

It used to be that placing an ad in the Yellow Pages was the surest way to attract local buyers. Over the course of the last decade, however, those thick printed directories have been almost completely replaced in most parts of North America.

In 2017, buyers don’t flip through thin sheets of paper to find businesses in their neighborhoods. Instead, they turn to their smartphones and tablets to find what they need because Google offers them more choices, up-to-date contact information, and even unbiased reviews from other buyers.

This change in technology has provided a big boost to lots of savvy marketers. And, it has allowed them to save quite a bit of money – it’s a lot cheaper to find customers using Google than it ever was to place a full-page ad in a print directory. But, if your business hasn’t adjusted, then you might be missing out.

Here are a few steps you can take today to get more customers from your local area…

Make the Most of Local Search Engine Optimization

Ever wonder how Google figures out which businesses match up to customers in a certain area? It mainly determines location by scanning a website for geographic keywords. Having city, state, and province names (as examples) on your website can help search engine spiders to figure out where you’re located. Additionally, things like street names, ZIP Codes, and neighborhood identifiers can be helpful in the same way.

Go Beyond Geographic Keywords

As important as it is to have geographic keywords in your website, there are other tools you can use to pull local customers into your business. Maps, driving directions, and local landmarks are all useful. In addition to giving Google more data about your geographic location, they can help you turn search visits into new revenue. That’s because photos of your location, along with updated phone numbers and contact details, make it easier for someone who is thinking about visiting your office or store to find you in the real world.

Have a Mobile-Ready Website

It’s no coincidence that print directories began to decline in importance just as smartphones found their way into millions of pockets. Lots of buyers are making spur of the moment decisions from anywhere, relying on Google to show them the closest restaurants, dry cleaners, and other local businesses. To take advantage, it’s important that your website be mobile-friendly. Otherwise, those customers are going to take their time and money to a competitor.

Boost Your Reputation With Buyers

Customers looking for local companies to work with aren’t necessarily going to find your website. That’s because they may explore third-party review sites (like Yelp) to look for recommendations first. For that reason, it’s important that your business have profiles on these types of portals, that your information be up-to-date, and that buyers can see lots of positive reviews about your business. Encourage your best customers to say good things about you online and you’ll have an easier time standing out in your local market.

You probably have hundreds or thousands of local buyers who are ready to work with your business, but only if they can find you on Google. So, if you haven’t already replaced the Yellow Pages with a good online marketing strategy, now is a great time to set up a meeting with our creative team to see how we can help.

4 Things Advanced CRM Systems Can and Can’t do for Your Website

Executing a profitable internet marketing campaign can involve a lot of tedious and exhausting details. It’s no wonder, then, that so many business owners ask us about the value of advanced customer relationship management (CRM) systems like HubSpot and Infusionsoft.

Hardly a week goes by when we aren’t asked whether one of these platforms (or perhaps a lesser-known competitor) is worth the investment of time and money. Unfortunately, there’s hardly ever a clear-cut answer to this question. Although advanced CRM’s work differently, and offer some unique functionality, no solution is perfect for every situation.

To understand whether you need an advanced CRM like HubSpot in your business, you should be aware of what they can and can’t do in a broad sense. So today, we want to focus on for things you should know before you make a decision…

#1 An Advanced CRM Can Help You Organize Your Online Marketing Activities

One major challenge facing small business owners these days is keeping track of all the different activities needed to move an online marketing plan forward. There are different tools and platforms for blogging, SEO, and email, not to mention several different social apps and websites. an advanced CRM can help you manage and organize these different systems so you can stick with a coherent plan.

#2 An Advanced CRM Can Put Information at Your Fingertips

It’s hard enough just to use all the different tools and platforms we've just mentioned. Keeping track of your progress with them is even tougher. With software like HubSpot, you can put all kinds of detailed and interactive reports right at your fingertips. That way, you won’t just be able to stay on top of your marketing channels, but you also get a sense of what sorts of results you’re achieving on a day-to-day basis.

#3 Advanced CRM’s Can Boost SEO, Sales, and Lead Generation

Advanced CRM systems allow you to structure and refine your campaigns easily. Because you have blogs, emails, social posts, and other tools all working in coordination, it’s easier to stay in touch with prospects and turn them into leads or actual customers. By following a coordinated approach, you can not only get a bigger payoff from SEO, social media marketing, and other channels, but you’ll be much more profitable overall.

#4 No Software System Can Do the Hard Work of Marketing for You

There is an important caveat to the three benefits we’ve given you with regards to advanced CRM’s – you have to actually use them before they’ll pay off. That means taking the time to learn the software, and then plugging in new content, posting to your social accounts, and checking out the results. No matter how sophisticated a platform is, it can’t do everything for you. Advanced CRM’s make it easier to organize your marketing, but they can’t replace the time and effort that’s needed from a committed business owner or Internet marketing professional.

The bottom line looks like this: an advanced  CRM like HubSpot can help you if you take the time to learn its features and then put them into use in your campaigns. However, if you’re just looking for a magic solution that will help you get real results from very little effort, it’s just going to be a waste of money.

To learn more about how advanced CRM’s and other online marketing tools might fit into your business plan, contact our team today to schedule a free consultation!

4 Things You Might Not Know About Web Hosting

While business owners love talking about web design and Internet marketing, most aren’t that concerned (or familiar) with the details of their web hosting plans. That’s easy to understand, given that servers and hosting software work behind the scenes and under the surface. They aren’t visible in the way a social media profile or prime search engine spot would be.

But, that’s not the same as saying hosting doesn’t matter. In fact, the quality of your web hosting package will have an enormous effect on the performance and stability of your business website. To understand why hosting is a bigger deal than you might think, here are four things we’d like you to keep in mind…

#1 Web Hosting Affects Web Performance

Usually, when an Internet connection is moving slowly, we think to blame our computers, tablets, or routers. However, there are two sides to any online interaction. The disc or server your website is stored on can either speed the delivery of your content up or slow it down. Those differences in speed matter, particularly when your customers are coming to you via mobile devices and are impatient to get to your site. Better web hosting means customers spend less time waiting and you end up with more conversions.

#2 Google May Ignore You if You’re on the Wrong Hosting Platform

Google uses multiple elements of web hosting (like page loading speed, for example, along with website availability and SSL connections) as search signals. That means the better your website performs, the more visible you are going to be to potential customers. Having a faster, more reliable website won’t take away the need for lots of great and original content, but it can give you an edge over your competitors. The tighter your search market is, the more important the hosting -related details of SEO can make a difference.

#3 Better Web Hosting is More Secure

Security is a big topic in web design and online marketing, and for good reason. You need to know that your HTML – not to mention customer information – is being kept safe. An easy way to do that is by using a better web hosting package. That’s partly because premium web hosting can give you availability to its SSL connections, system monitoring, and automatic backups. It’s also because the cheapest web hosting packages tend to group lots of budget websites together on the same servers, meaning your site could become “contaminated” by less ethical or careful neighbors.

#4 Premium Web Hosting is Incredibly Affordable

For all that you get from upgrading to premium web hosting, it might surprise you to know that the difference between your average run-of-the-mill shared hosting plan and a premium package could be as little as a couple of dollars per day. And, better hosting means you’ll get more from the money you spent on your website the first place. Financially, that makes it one of the smartest and most cost-effective investments you can make in your business.

Web hosting will probably never be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering upgrades or improvements to your business. But, with a little bit of attention to the space where your site is stored – and a few extra dollars a month – you could gain big benefits in performance, security, and even search visibility. Knowing that, doesn’t it make sense to talk with a member of our team today to see whether a fast and inexpensive tweak could make your web presence stronger?

How to Scare Online Competitors Away

As part of our web design and internet marketing process, we often evaluate the competitors our clients will have to face. We perform a competition-analysis to see who they’ll be up against, and whether they have any reason to worry.

The challenging part about this part of the job is coming across a company that is so firmly entrenched online that it can take months or years for our clients to catch up. The best scenario is when the situation has is reversed, and we know none of the other business owners out there are going to be able to duplicate our work without starting massive campaigns on their own.

In some cases, a competitive edge can be so big that a business won’t even try to compete on line. Today, we want to show you exactly what it takes to scare your online competitors away…

Streamline Your Responsive Website

In order to dominate online, you have to have a modern website. That means a responsive layout with mobile compatibility. It also means streamlining your menus and user interface so visitors can find the information they need very quickly. Do that and your website will be more helpful than anyone else’s.

Use Your Blog Regularly

Nearly every business website includes a blog, but most marketers don’t actually use them. But because Google treats every new post as a fresh page of search-friendly content, blogging once a week or more gives you a massive search visibility advantage over the competition.

Target Your Search Terms for Niche Markets 

A classic mistake in search engine optimization is to target big, generic search phrases. That makes it easy for your competitors to get around you by focusing on smaller groups. Decide who your buyers are, in which geographic areas you want to target. That’s a great way to shut out the competition.

Refine Your Google AdWords Campaigns

The best way to beat a competitor in online advertising is to simply be more efficient. You don’t have to spend more on Google AdWords, for instance, if you have high Quality Scores. But, if your campaigns already feature search terms with 9/10 or 10/10 scores, it’s hard for the competition to match you in visibility… much less search advertising profits.

Generate Buzz on Your Social Accounts

It’s not how many social followers you have, it’s how tuned in they are to your marketing messages. Nobody cares if you have 10,000 fake followers, but if every one of your posts gets many likes and shares, you’re going to get a lot of social exposure. Compose messages that get buyers talking and you’ll be doing something most other business owners can’t.

Build up a Strong Online Reputation

A good online reputation is an enormous advantage in today’s digital marketing world. That’s because buyers are likely to Google your company and products before they make a purchase decision. Rack up more great reviews than the competition and you’ll win customers they can’t.

Grow Your Email Subscriber List

When you have a healthy and growing email subscriber list, you have an instant and almost free way to reach thousands of targeted prospects at a time. Even better, you get a chance to contact them directly without having them hear from your competitors in the first place.

When you have most or all of the items on this list covered, you don’t leave the competition any room to step in and steal your customers or grab attention from your prospects. If that sounds like the kind of position you want to be in, we hope you’ll take a minute to call or email our team today so we can begin a customized plan for your website.