Sunday, 13 December 2015

Online Marketing Basics 101 – Why Online Marketing Works for Local Business

If you want to grow your business, how do you get the word about your product or service? By going where your market is – and these days, that’s online.
This article will give you a straightforward, easy to understand overview of online marketing and why it is perfect for your business.
Like any form of marketing, your starting point should be your marketing aims and objectives. ..in other words what you want to achieve from your marketing.
Read on for a crash course in online marketing strategy and also discover some key principles of social media that will enable you to get a flood of new customers and create customer loyalty.
Online marketing in a nutshell
There is no great mystery to online marketing. It does a lot of the same things that traditional marketing does, but it does them more cheaply and effectively to a much wider audience.
There are literally billions of people online. Some of these people are your ideal clients or customers. If you can reach even a tiny fraction of them you will have a thriving business.
The Internet has changed the way companies market their business for the better.
Here are some examples of how the Internet makes it easy for you to market your businesses:
Websites: Your website is like a virtual store that is always open 24 hours a day without the need of employing dozens of staff.
Emails: Your emails can reach a highly targeted audience notifying them of news, updates and special offers.
Blogs: Your blog provides regular information for customers and prospects which also allows them to engage with you by leaving comments.
Social Networks: Social networks enable you to make direct connections with people who are interested in what you have to offer.
No matter how specialised your niche, there is a global market for it on the Internet. Online marketing not only helps you to reach these people but, by increasing your online visibility, they will also come looking for YOU.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Website Spring Cleaning!



5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Website
Just like your home, your business website also needs a spring-cleaning. It’s easy to let things slide, and the consequence of that would be a decline in traffic, reputation and ultimately sales. This is a relatively insidious way to lose traction with your website, as you don’t immediately see it happening. But it’s quite real, and will have very real results.

So in the spirit of prevention, listed below are 5 ways for you to make a positive change in the way your sites appear, operate and prosper.


  • Are your pages loading quickly? – It’s been said you’ve got less than 10 seconds to load your page or most people will abandon and head for faster, greener pastures. If your website is image heavy, and full of flash, you may well want to optimize for faster performance. Remember, Google will punish your site in the search rankings when your pages load too slowly.
  • Old products, programs, links lurking – Make sure you remove any old product, programs and links that are no longer pertinent. Nothing says your page is stale and dated more than your PDF download from 2008 that’s not only outdated but unavailable. Dead links and 404 page errors will not help your search rankings either. “Broken link” detector plug-ins are available and will automatically alert you when a link is no longer valid.
  • Stale content and old images – Likewise cull out text and images that are no longer topical. Those awesome pictures from 2007 which feature people no longer working with you can perhaps be archived, don’t you think? People and search engines are both after fresh, current content!
  • More fresh content that rocks – There is nothing you can do to help in this respect more than to inject a fresh dose of new, relevant to 2013 content! If you have content on the first page of your blog that is more than a month old, you definitely need to be more aggressive with your content strategy.

It’s spring, and time to get cleaning. You’ll be glad you did!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Are Your Emails the Right Size for Mobile?



It’s tough enough ensuring your email marketing messages get through without making the task even more onerous. Making sure you are optimizing your marketing emails could be the difference in success or failure in your campaigns, especially as mobile email open rates are increasing rapidly.
Mobile email opens are exploding!
Mobile email is now the most opened email, surpassing desktop with a robust 36%, according to Knotice.com. Combine that with the reality that email is the favored online communication mode of 74% of all adults, and you’ll see why it’s so important. It’s not just phones either. Tablets are beginning to take a major share also. ReturnPath documents that iPhones make up 59%; iPads 26%; Androids 14%; and Windows phones bringing up the rear at less than 1%.
Some tips for optimizing your marketing emails
So not to leave you without a plan for perfecting your marketing emails, here are some actionable tips that can help ensure your marketing messages appear the way you want them to!
  • If you would like your emails read, particularly on a mobile device, make them short and sweet. Create engaging and enticing headlines and content that keep the recipient hooked, as it’s extremely easy to delete an email with a mobile device!
  • Keep image files small, as large files take far longer to load. You don’t want people leaving before they even get a chance to see what you’ve got to offer!
  • Try for a font size of at least 14. Anything smaller may just be automatically changed and wreak havoc on the way you’ve laid out your formatting.
  • Make sure any calls to action are adequately sized for easy tapping. The normal adult fingertip measures around 45 pixels, so bear that in mind.
  • Make sure you test your marketing emails on the various mobile platforms prior to clicking the send button! This can be well worth the few minutes it will take!
Optimizing your emails for mobile isn’t something to put off for another day – it’s a big deal – you have to do it today! You can be sure your competition is!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Have You Asked for Referrals Lately?



7 quick and easy ways to get more client referrals
Everyone is searching for ways to get more client referrals for their small business, especially in competitive markets like New York City. Surprisingly enough, nearly 60% of us don’t even ask for them! Customer referrals do not appear just by wishing it so, but rather as a result of a clear, focused and persistently applied strategy. Listed below are seven ways we’ve found to increase client referrals, and they’re quicker and easier than you might imagine!
  • Ask your best clients – They can be your best business evangelists. People who are already in love with what you do won’t need much cajoling to sing your praises.
  • Offer practical incentives – Offering product discounts, select offers, or other bonuses which make sense for your business are a fantastic way of getting people to send you new clients.
  • Over-deliver on first-time customers – Whenever you get a new customer, a terrific way to get them talking to their circle of contacts is to over-deliver and exceed their expectations. This could happen in a number of ways, but be sure they view your business as a cut above the rest.
  • Actively engage customers – Getting your customers talking and interacting with you, and ultimately their social circles, can open many doors. Find common ground, and possibly create an online community for your customers, say for example blog or Facebook group.
  • Be courteous and a giver – Make saying “Thank You” a part of your daily lexicon and be generous with regards to handing out perks. Laying a surprise gift card or thank you note on a customer can be very beneficial.
  • Get the staff working on it – Helping your employees get behind this can magnify your efforts. You might need to put together some sort of reward, but it can be well worth the time and energy to set it up.
  • Create a loyalty program – A customer loyalty program, preferably online, will assist you to create excitement and engagement. Reward interaction in addition to purchases, as this can lead to more and more people becoming involved.

Just like social media interaction, consistently working a customer referral plan takes some dedication, but at the end of the day it can create excellent results.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Increase Your Sales! Make Them Laugh!



Get Some Laughs and Some Sales at the Same Time!

Plain and simple – humor sells. It puts people in a good frame of mind and essentially disarms them to the point where they forget you’re actually trying to sell them something. Art Linkletter wasn’t joking when he opined that laughter is the best medicine, and it might be exactly the prescription your business is looking for!

4 great ways to use humor in your marketing!
Take advantage of pop culture – This is a generation that has largely left the evening news behind, favoring the likes of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and the other late night mavens that have built careers around the daily misfortunes of celebrities, sports stars and politicians. It’s all fair game, so don’t hesitate to use your share if you can find ways to make it humorous. Getting your audience smiling and in good spirits from the very beginning can go a long way toward helping build rapport with them.
Make a funny video – Portraying your products or services in a humorous light will get people looking forward to your videos wanting to know what you’ll do next. Making videos doesn’t have to be a major production either. Use your smartphone! The camera quality in smartphones keeps getting better and better making them a perfect tool for the job. Another great tactic here is to use animated videos. Go!Animate has an easy to use app that lets you make your videos quickly. It also provides text-to-speech functionality.
Create a visual mashup – A good way to take advantage of both humor and the wicked hot photo-sharing world is to generate a humorous meme. They’re just about required on Facebook, and can be a great ice breaker. Plus, memes are highly sharable all over the place through Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other sites.

Use humor in your content – Don’t be shy about getting a little edgy with your content. The payoff will likely be that people will see you as more like them, and not just some stodgy company bent on selling them a product. The better you connect on a shared (and funny!) level, the better people will like you and share your posts.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Your Business Needs To Be Visible If You Want To Succeed Online



Imagine how cool it would be to be invisible…You could sneak into the cinema and watch films for free (providing no-one sits on you) while pinching popcorn from the person next to you, think of all the major events you could get up close to, the conversations you could listen in to…you would be able to observe life from a totally different perspective
But what about the downside? How lonely would it be if you couldn’t interact with people? After all, who would be able to listen to a bodiless voice without thinking they are going mad? You would get injured by people walking into you. How would you get a sales person or waitress to sell you clothes or food?
After the novelty had worn off, the negative effect of being invisible would start to outweigh the initial fun. So when would it definitely NOT be a bonus to be invisible? If you were a TV actor, perhaps? Or a safety steward? In these situations, it is impossible to be successful unless you can be seen.
Why Being Invisible Online Is Fatal For Your Business
Now let’s think about a business. Many businesses would love to be invisible for taxes, but joking apart, what about the impact it would have on your customers? There are absolutely no advantages to being invisible to your customers, and yet still today, that is exactly how some businesses appear (or rather don’t appear) to their customers. How could this happen to you?
When it comes to making an informed purchase decision, customers are much more savvy today. They won’t just take your word for how good your product or service is. They will research companies and products online, looking for the best solution for themselves. You may have the best product in the world which will match their demands 100% better than any other company but if they can’t see your business quickly you won’t even enter the running for their business.
If you have a suspicion your business may be invisible to a lot of your customers at the moment, there is no need to panic. Unlike the original Invisible man, your visibility can be restored with a little work. Here is some great advice on how to restore your company profile to the attention of your customers.
Is Your Business In Plain Sight?
Mobile
For any local business, customers who live within 5 – 10 miles are their lifeblood. While some businesses may have a local customer base slightly further afield, local customers will be your most important consumer. This is especially true if your business provides services they can’t get remotely. For example, who gets their teeth fixed by email?
As we mentioned earlier, customers want to make a much more informed buying decision. They want to research what products or services are available, which local businesses can supply them, what price they are and which company offers the best value and service. What’s more, they want to be able to look online whenever and wherever they may be – at work, out having a coffee or just generally on the go. Smartphones and tablets have made the internet portable so your business needs to be able to go where the people are.
But having a website isn’t the end of it. It doesn’t automatically follow that the website you see on your desktop computer will display correctly and be user friendly when a person looks at it on their smartphone. Don’t assume it is, CHECK! By looking at your site on a smartphone and trying to navigate around it, you can make sure visitors to your site get the experience and information you want them to see quickly and easily. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it may be slow to load or clumsy to navigate. Smartphone users have notoriously short patience levels. If a site takes longer than 5 seconds to load they will simply go off to look at the next site.
Searchability
Search engines are constantly being refined and people choose to use their mobile devices rather than a physical directory like Yellow pages. Today, the results from search queries are being delivered to people based on the location they are searching from, so local businesses near to the position of the searcher are shown first. That is only a plus for your business if the search engines can find you in the first place. So when was the last time you checked how visible you are in search results?
First, try a general search. Type in your business name. Can you see your business website listed? You should also be able to see other accounts like your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Local pages, as well as reviews and articles that mention your business.
Next, try a more specific local search on Google maps. Go to http://maps.google.com. In the search box type in your city and the type of business you run. What the results bring up is a local area map with 4 – 10 little red balloon-shaped markers that have a letter on. Down the left hand side of the screen you will see the letter key for the markers, giving the business name and web address of each of the markers.
Here, you will see all the competition in your area marked out. As you hover over each marker, information about that business is shown. This page is great for making your business stand out from the competition especially in a highly competitive market. Can you see your business here?
One final check to do – try typing just your business telephone number into the search box. Ideally you should see your website, all your Google entries and any other inline directory you have added your company details in. But what do you see in the results? Are your details there or can you only see sites offering to reverse trace the number?
Do these checks give you confidence about the visibility of your business on the internet or are they confirming your worst fears…that no one out in cyberspace can find you?
You needn’t worry. Nothing is irreversible. With a little work on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you can turn it around. Is it all that vital? Yes it really is. If you have a local business that relies on customers coming through your door – say a dentist or restaurant – if your customer can’t find your business first on their mobile device while they are out and about, they will find a competitor instead.
Now you have determined how visible your business is to your potential customers online, it’s time to start raising the size of the audience that can notice it through sound marketing strategies.
Market Your Business
Here are some really helpful marketing tips and advice on ways you can increase the visibility of your business to as many potential customers as you can.
Be Unique
The iPhone. Blu Tack. Velcro. Why were all these products such incredible successes? They all offered a solution to a problem that was unique, special and that wasn’t available anywhere else. You need to take that principle and apply it to the information available on your site. What could set you up as an authority more than being able to supply answers to the issues and problems of your potential customers.
If visitors know they can come to your site, ask a question and then get a useful solution, you are putting a value on your business in the minds of both the people who ask the questions and in the minds of the many more people who read your answers. These people will come back to you time and again. Once you have established your credibility, you will create loyal customers who buy from you time and again.
Create A Resource
How many times have you had a question and typed it into a search engine to find the answer? It is the most common way to find an answer quickly any place and at any time. Now imagine someone searching for a solution to a problem and your site comes up in the search results. There on the page is the solution they have been looking for, not only to that question but to other problems they have been having. How happy do you think that person would be?
This is something you can easily put into place by adding a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to your site. It will act like an information resource for people searching for answers. It is easily set up with possible issues your business can give solutions to, and very easy to keep updated with queries as they come up. If visitors can see you are giving great customer service by helping them make an informed choice, it won’t be long before they go from potential to actual customers.
Be Informative
How many pages does your site have? 10? 2? 1? What does the size of your site tell visitors? If it is only 1 page long with your business hours and telephone number on, it won’t encourage much confidence in your attitude toward your customers. It tells them you can’t be bothered with, or have much interest in, your customer.
People can’t know who you are, what you do or what you can offer unless you tell them. So tell them! Don’t be shy in showing exactly what you have to offer, after all this website is your shop window. How many shops block up their bricks and mortar business windows to stop people looking in? The role of your site is to show people all the many ways your business can help make their life better. So fill it full of really useful information, but not just about your products and services.
When people are looking for a solution, they will go to whichever site has the answer, not which site has the prettiest header. If there is no information there, they will move on and are much less likely to revisit your site the next time they have a question. By offering visitors a range of useful, accurate and informative advice, not only do you raise the profile of your site but you are encouraging and building their confidence in you as an expert. This will lead to a greater confidence in your business and on to them buying from you.
Chose Your Words Wisely
We don’t read the same way we talk, so we need to keep in mind there is no intonation or emphasis when words are written down on a page or screen. Because of that, a sentence that sounds mischievous and funny when we say it turns into a rude or offensive comment.
So make your words count. Don’t put irrelevant information on your site just for the sake of filling up space. That only results in making your visitor have to work to pick out the information they need from the rest and can have the effect of putting them off ever coming back. Everything on your site needs to relate to your business and have some value to your visitors, whether it is information about products or services, or solutions to problems.
And less is more. When someone makes a search they are often pressed for time. People like to be able to quickly get the pertinent points out of what they are reading and be able to act or move on. So don’t put in useless information or keep repeating product information in different ways just for something to look at. It is counterproductive – it puts people off.
Get Fresh!
Why do supermarkets keep changing the position of groceries on their shelves? It is because the appearance gets stale and old if you get used to the way something looks, and you cease to notice things. The same principle applies to your website.
Once someone has been on your website, when they come back they will expect things to look differently, otherwise they will pass over things and not see any relevant information, even though it may be exactly what they are looking for.
Just as big global brands refresh and shake up the way they look to become more visible again to their customers, local businesses should be using the same principle and regularly update both the look and content of their site. That way, customers will always have something new and interesting to come back to.
If you don’t feel confident about changing the main site information, adding a blog is a really easy but fun way to add new information regularly. Blogs are much less formal than other information contained on your site. Being more conversational in tone makes them quick and easy to add to. You can easily add a blog entry in 10 minutes and it puts a more human side on your business being able to read the conversation of a real person.
Fresh content is absolutely crucial to raising the visibility of your site to the search engines. These monitor how regularly sites are updates with content, as well as the amount of traffic going to your site. The more of each you can accomplish, the easier it will be for your potential customers to find you.
Lost For Words? Show Them!
Sometimes words aren’t enough to describe how something works or will benefit a customer. Sometimes, words won’t show you how reliable the product, service, advice or information is. Sometimes you just have to see it for yourself to make up your own mind. The great thing about the internet is you can do just that!
People love to see things in action to see how they work. Websites are great billboards for videos, pictures, even audio media. How much better it is to be able to SHOW people cast iron proof that YOUR solutions WORK? How much more confidence will a visitor have in what you are telling them if you can then show them the results? It’s an acknowledged fact that being able to see something in action will sell more product.
Be More Human
The internet has been good and bad for both businesses and customers alike. Gone are the days when a customer’s only choice was to visit a bricks and mortar business or not, where they could uncomfortably browse under the hard beady stare of the sales assistant. Now, shopping is a much more long distance affair. Customers can browse in the comfort of their own home and order remotely without ever having to speak to a real person.
But this kind of shopping doesn’t generate the kind of brand loyalty someone has to personal service or good customer relations. Social media provides a perfect outlet for your business to start re-humanising itself again in the minds of customers. Strategic targeting marketing through social media is having great results for businesses of all sizes.
Use Other Media To Get Yourself Heard
Businesses can be a little shy in telling the world about themselves, not wanting to be seen as blowing their own trumpets. So if may be that you are sitting back waiting for someone to come to you and ask if they can write a piece about you. Unless you are a global success story, that isn’t likely.
Learn to bang your own drum! There is nothing wrong in sending regular press releases in to newspapers and local TV media, especially if you have a new solution to a problem, or have been involved in a community event or celebration. Local media is always looking for filler stories about local events, so don’t be afraid to try. If you don’t think you could write the release yourself, there are many affordable sites to send information to which will produce a professional review or press release for you.
Use What You’ve Got
How many customers have purchased a product or service from you in the past? How many of them gave you their contact details for an invoice or delivery? How many of these customers do you keep in contact with?
These customers should be treated with respect and nurtured, not thrown away like they have no further use. It costs a business ten times more to find a new customer than to keep a current one. These customers are already aware of who you are and what you do. You’ve done the hard part by getting them to be a customer. Don’t let yourself become part of the background to them. You already have information on what they are likely to be interested in so by sending regular targeted updates of products they might be interested in, and reminding them of the benefits of using your business, you can keep these contacts fresh and keep your business in the front of their minds.
Get Out and Get Advertising
Even with all the different options you have to raise your visibility online, you should also consider paid targeted internet marketing opportunities like Ad Words and Pay-Per-Click ads. These have a proven track record in directing more traffic relevant to your business through to your website and in increasing sales profits.
These marketing campaigns are very adaptable to changes. You can quickly alter the focus and direction of these campaigns to increase the impact they are having. So if you find that you are targeting the wrong audience, it is much quicker and cheaper to alter your keywording for instant results.
The more you understand how and why your business is not visible to others, the more you can make changes to be able to be found online easily and quickly by a greater number of people.
We Can Help
We know that it takes time away from your business to be able to research and put changes into practise. We can help you to do that.
Our company has many years of experience assisting local businesses to reach out to more people and we are very effective in doing this.
Why not give us a call and we can arrange a free, no-obligation chat to show you how we can be of assistance in all your marketing campaign strategies.

NYC Business Owners, Do You Have a Mobile Dilemma?



How do you decide whether or not to develop a mobile app for your business?
Mobile site or mobile app? That’s the real question. Do you need one or the other, or both? Knowing your businesses’ needs, not to mention your customers’ behavior, goes a long way toward helping you decide whether or not to invest the time and money necessary to develop and implement a mobile app for your small business.
Does a mobile app make sense for your company? What are the costs, both in building one and in maintaining one? Have you got anyone capable of updating it? You’ll need the answers to these and several other questions in order to really come up with a smart choice. Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons.
Developing a Mobile App: Pros and Cons
Pros:
  • More than 50% of adult Americans use smartphone technology
  • Enables you to brand your products and services easier
  • Increases customer retention and loyalty, as the app is always in front of them
  • Users spend more time on apps
  • Mobile apps are available offline, though users will need to login to perform any actions, such as sales
Cons:
  • Mobile apps need to be made for each different mobile platform
  • Mobile apps need constant maintenance, when it comes to fresh content along with technology updates
  • Mobile apps are not as easy to optimize as a mobile website
  • Mobile ads may well serve the purpose
  • Apps can be very expensive! If you go the Do-It-Yourself route, be prepared for a lot of headaches, as they constantly break, and need to be updated.
We all know that there are as many uses for an app than you could ever imagine, but some are better than others. Here’s an example of how apps were created in the health care market.

By ensuring your app is useful and not merely a novelty goes a long way toward helping you make your decision. While it’s pretty much a given that you need a mobile version of your website, the question of whether or not you should shell out what might be big bucks for an app is one you want to examine carefully. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons for your business before you decide to leap into developing a mobile app!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Here’s how Google+ can separate you from your competition



Small business owners, not sure what google+ is and why you need to be there?
Google+ has thus far not been taken overly serious by businesses trying to market their products and services. This is swiftly changing! Google+ has now positioned itself nicely to challenge Facebook as a major social network for business. Websites using the +1 Button increase page traffic by 350%, and more than 925,000 people join Google+ each day! Combine all the functionality of your Google account, and massive search engine benefits, you have something we can get serious about.

Seven Strategies for Utilizing Your Google+ Page

Confused on how to use Google+? No worries – use these to get started!


  1. Complete your Google+ profile – Give this a bit of thought as you do it. Use compelling photos and images, and make sure you link out to your other social media accounts.
  2. List your key information – In particular business hours, contact information, along with maps and directions.

  3. Link to your sites – make sure you link to your main business blog or site. This is a must!

  4. Create your business page –You can create content of any length, including video. This has strong benefits for search results as well as people who find you on Google+.

  5. Link to your other material – Link out to your blog posts. In addition to having them indexed nearly instantly, this also has a number of SEO advantages. You can also use your Google+ page for making posts, including multimedia that can link to your pages elsewhere. The possibilities are staggering.

  6. Utilize Direct Connect – Utilize this feature in Google+ to let visitors to add you to circles when they find you in search. Think of this as a Facebook “Like”.

  7. Use video chat in Google+ Hangouts – This one is incredibly useful. Whenever you conduct a video chat, Google+ streams it, records it, and sends you the recording via email. After that you can upload to YouTube, thus creating even more useful content. One terrific way to use this is to make impromptu product demos.

  8. Want more information? Feel free to reach out to YNS and we can show you Your Next Step to engage Google+!