The digital marketing landscape has never been more fragmented (or confusing) for small businesses than it is today. In this workshop, we learned to separate the marketing wheat from the chaff with renowned Local Search experts David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal. They took us through their recommendations for how to squeeze the most out of your time, energy, and marketing dollars to acquire and retain customers through digital media and local search.
“It’s Google’s world and we’re all just living in it.”
The knowledge panel is taking over. For weather, local search, healthcare, celebrities, etc., you’re getting more information on your search page rather than just 10 blue links. This is changing SEO. ¾ of all searchers are interacting with this feature, so they’re being used more and more. In fact, you can conduct transactions directly in the knowledge panel, so you never even have to visit the website at all.
Think of your website as a data source for Google rather than an end destination for your customer.
Search is becoming your artificially intelligent assistant, and this is way more possible than flying cars.
Strong local brands
Web searches through Google
90% of time spend on mobile phone is spent in apps, and this increases every year. Facebook gets used 1/5 of the time, and for many people it actually is the Internet, so it’s time to start thinking about Facebook as a search entity beyond just a social media platform.
Google Maps has a 2:1 advantage over Apple Maps overall, but it’s 3:1 Apple Maps over Google on ios devices.
It’s becoming a much more fragmented world, and Google is no longer the only player in the digital landscape. 50% of product searches start at Amazon, not at Google.
Siri can perform transactional inquiries, book a table, etc. You can also interact with Siri over text, so you can perform these search behaviors on many different platforms.
Webpages –> Knowledge panels
Desktop –> Mobile
Clickthroughs –> Transactions
SERP –> SERP-less
Google –> Not Google
This won’t translate to consumers for a couple of years, but it’s important to be ready.
“Customer funnel” / “sales funnel”
Traditional marketing funnel: Awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, advocacy
Now it’s a marketing “pretzel.” This requires you to take a holistic view of your marketing.
The Local Marketing Ladder
- 9/10 use local search, and it converts very quickly into a purchase
- While it’s declining in the future, right now it has a lot to offer
- This is the foundation of every listing
- It’s complex, and if any of it is wrong, the system doesn’t work
- If you go to Google, Apple, and Bing (“Here”), does your address, business, and navigation drop in the right spot?
- Use “Moz Local” for free to test your local search and look for discrepancies (you can also do this in Google by typing in your business name and phone number)
- You can use Moz Toolbar or NAP Hunter to check this as well
- Tip: Claim – City + Industry Search
- How Google and your customers know what you do
- Starts with your branding
- How users are looking
- Website and content links
- Reviews and social reinforcement
- Business name
- Consider a name upgrade
- Think content buckets the way the consumer does
- Search suggest (start typing and they drop down a list of relevant terms that are frequently searched)
- Google.com/trends to refine this further
- Link critical content in very clear language
- Content ideas:
- Compile the top 10 questions you or your staff are asked. Does your website answer all 10?
- Google loves fresh content, but it’s difficult for small businesses to do this.
- Gather and highlight customer feedback & testimonials (can use Get Five Stars) so they generate the content for you
- Social content reinforces relevance (use Google +)
- Relevance helps drive rank in both places and organic
- Site architecture
- Usability – “Don’t make me think”
- Clear navigation options
- Calls to action / next steps
- Contact info right up top (and bottom)
- Hierarchy – Don’t bury the lead
- Check your title tag
- site:pinemountainsports.com query
- All should say what the page is about and where it is
- Home page has name first
- Product pages have product first
- “Like handing search engines a business card”
- Requires a little bit of HTML
- Importance of design
- Conversion Optimization: the 5 C’s
- Photos in local listing get more direction requests and homepage clicks
- Compelling images should be everywhere – but check your cropping
- 360-degree tour capability
- Reviews on all platforms mean 360% increase in homepage clicks
- Make communication easy at point of purchase
- Make it easy to complain – ask for feedback immediately after sale
- Make it easy for people to review you
- This is your secret marketing weapon
- Retention vs. acquisition: it’s 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one
- Retention drives referrals and recommendations and more incremental revenue
- Retailers depend more on top customers, so increase their word of mouth about your business
- Provide great service
- 9/10 people will choose a small business over a national brand because of great service, and you’re much more likely to get recommended
- Collect feedback on service you’re providing with Get Five Stars
- Pay attention to the comments, not just the numbers, and make those problems better
- Stay in touch ( top of mind)
- Social media doesn’t generate leads for your business- that’s not the primary goal
- Don’t use it just because everyone tells you to
- Rather, use it to build brand awareness and loyalty, get credibility, connect with partners, build relationships, etc.
- Instagram’s brand filter isn’t as strong, so it’s better for organic social engagement, especially in you’re in a visual industry
- Most people want communication via email over social media- even the worst-performing emails still get a 6% open rate, which is 3 times better than Facebook (if you do a good job you can get 15-20%, so it’s much better ROI)
- Email best practices
- Get over your fear (7/10 people prefer to get emails, actually want to hear from you)
- Think mobile: 1 out of every 2 emails last year were opened on mobile
- Set expectations when people sign up about how often people will receive emails from you. This makes it far less likely that they’ll unsubscribe.
- MailChimp (free up to 2,000 subscribers) or Constant Contact
- Sending information
- Use your name personally (ie David at Tiding)
- Business email address @domainname.com
- No generic handles
- Subject lines are your title tags- this is key to open rates
- Make it relevant and personalized
- Preview text- the line that shows up underneath the subject
- This is something you can optimize http://bit.ly/preview-text
- Tell people what you want them to do
- Single call to action above the fold
- Focus on content as opposed to design
- Single column layouts work better (for mobile)
- Go easy on images- focus on text
- Use templates
- Formatting is unpredictable (more so than testing websites)
- Surprise and delight
- Don’t sell to them too much
- Remarkable, valuable, functional, respectful
- Special offers for returning customers
- The future of local SEO is effective customer communication
- Citations and links indexed by Google- these must be earned
- The new world of entity search
- Distance + reviews = answer (ie searching for restaurants)
- Reviews, top 10 lists, critic reviews
- Google + has a strong ranking of impact on local
- What matters most is if the content gets shared
- Search emulates how people act
- Articles that mention a business
- The more prominent the newspaper the better
- Is no publicity bad publicity? (Cecil the Lion case)
- Make your business newsworthy!
About the blogger: Tashia Davis is a content strategist & writer living in Bend, Oregon. tashiadavis.com