The 3-Point Plan to Evaluate Your Web Presence and Fine-Tune Your Local Marketing Plan
Its a well known fact that your next customer is going to come from a source you know very well - your existing customer. This is not a coincidence. You worked hard, created a successful business and made sure you provided the best service and satisfied your customers. Your customers did their bit by talking about your business to family and friends, which in turn gave you more business.
That situation existed yesterday, or realistically, maybe a couple of years ago. In any case, a long time in today’s digital age. Today’s customer have smartphones. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, today 64% of U.S adults have a smartphone and 7% of them use that as their primary device to access the internet. This means that a large number of people are looking for your business on their mobile phone through search engines, maps, and local directories. Even more, they are asking friends if they have used your business on social media and, more importantly, researching reviews on sites like Yelp to make use of the “wisdom of strangers”. Many may even see your online ad or banner to check your products. The question then becomes: Are you using these channels to market your business and do you have a plan and the tools necessary to manage your marketing all in one place?
Your Web Footprint is More Than Your Website
A small business digital presence is more than just the website. The website is your central showcase for your business online. Once established, your website needs traffic just as your business needs customers to call you and email you about your projects or walk into your office, if you have one.
A website is the first step toward online lead generation, yet your web presence is more than just a website. Having a robust web presence helps you to differentiate your business, build up your relationships with customers and give them more avenues for interaction.
As you can see from the Consumer Barometer study above, customers look at more than just your website. They're looking at search engines, review websites, social networks, online maps and local directories.
To establish a strong web presence you will need to set goals and build a strategy. To be successful, a web presence is not a build once and forget it. It needs nurturing and updating so your customers get the latest information from you.
Mission statement for a web presence: Provide the customers and prospects the quickest way to communicate and learn about the products they need from your business.
Keywords : Relevant, Accurate and Timely
Before you spend another dollar for your web presence, use this 3 point plan to evaluate your web presence.
1. Search On Google For Your Brand Name
a. Your website should be no 1 in the search for your brand or company name. You may have to use location phrases if there are other business with similar names.
b. Analysis of the Search Results ( I chose this business randomly)
i. Web: Growlers is a common name but I searched for Growlers sitting in a location in Gaithersburg and was happy to see the results. The Website is the number one result.
ii. Local Directory: The Google Map pin and results are attached to the website as Google recognizes that this is a local business and shows the address. Since the business a bar is not open in the morning, the listings show that the business is closed in the morning underlining the importance of the need to have accurate information.
iii. Social: Their Facebook page is also high on the result and since I am logged into Google, I can see their Google+ page on the right side of the search results. I did not see their Twitter id come up in the search results even though it was linked from the website as the last time they posted their was 2011. This business is more active on Facebook.
iv. Reputation: See how the first result of the website also shows the reviews rating and the number of reviews and Google conveniently offers you a way to write a review directly from the search result.
v. SEO: See how the menu page comes up better in the results. That is probably due to that section having more content and updated periodically.The search term I used was “Growlers”. Chances are you will see a completely different result depending on where you are. Google’s way of customizing the results.
2. Check Your Local Directories And Maps Presence
a. Use this easy tool provided by Surefire Social. I work for this company and we launched this free tool to provide a easy way for small business to check and see if their local directory listings are accurate.
b. Check to see how many directories your business is listed in, is the information accurate and uniform across all directories.
3. Search for Local Keywords and Phrases to See Who is Appearing in Your Area
a. For home services and remodeling contractors they have an added step to see the results of different geographic areas.
b. In this case I used “pubs gaithersburg” and can see that Growlers has competition from O’Malleys Pub and Dogfish Head Alehouse.
Google also presented a local knowledge graph at the top of the search results by analyzing that the user search is for a local business by the use of the term pub and the location.
Your Local Marketing Plan
From the chart mentioned earlier in the article and available at the Think with Google website, the customer journey involves website content, search, referral, social, paid advertising, email marketing, etc. Here are the key components that should be part of your local marketing plan.
- A website is a showcase for your business. Visitors should get the best information on your website to enable them to make the decision to use your business.
- Your primary website will appear in local searches. Optimizing the website with name, address and phone data will help classify you as a local business. Have clear calls to action and provide easy ways for visitors to interact with you and share your content with their networks.
- Good pictures, video and testimonials from existing customers are some examples of great content to have on your website.
Build a presence on social to engage with customers. Use it as an avenue to join and nurture conversations with customers and the community. Having a complete Google My Business page with accurate information is crucial to your appearing on Google Maps and Google’s local results. Social profiles like Facebook Places also serve as citations for locations for the business. Your content like news and blog posts can also be shared across social platforms. LinkedIn company pages with new showcase pages help you to present your services and products to customers. Use the top sites that your customers visit as a measure to see where you want to start your presence first. An example of a niche social network for home services businesses, is Houzz.
Directories and location-based local listing services provide results information not only within their directory, but also in search engine results and on maps. The danger of inconsistent information is that a business may lose ranking if the naming is inconsistent and lose business if the hours or phone number are inaccurate. Google's Maps app will now alert users if their destination is closed, or will be by the time they reach it.
Reviews & Reputation
- Your customers know you better than you know yourself. They could be discovering conversations about your business. Since reviews appear on search results themselves, you risk potential customers losing interest even before they visit your website.
- Getting ahead and proactively getting reviews from customers, plus establishing a reputation monitoring and responding program is useful to increase positive reviews.
- Surefire Social’s GeoJuice® creates instant, engaging content and check-ins published with your location using a mobile device. Your crews can check in using their mobile phones and send a geolocation signal to your website -- a quick way to establish the areas you serve. Showcase your past projects and happy customers on your website and social media to turn your successes into future sales by taking photos of your finished projects and posting them. GeoJuice can also be used to get your happy customers to review your business and add these reviews as content on your website.
Analyze digital marketing stats around your website. Metrics to measure are the number of sessions, how long visitors stay on your website, how many pages they visit and if they have filled any forms or taken actions towards converting to a lead.
- Many different tools are available to help you track your marketing. To get a comprehensive view of the results of your marketing, use Surefire Social’s SurePulse platform.
- SurePulse, the Local Cloud Marketing platform, helps you track and measure your traffic, search engine ranking, reputation, digital marketing and website with SurePulse dashboards, so you know exactly where your leads are coming from and can maximize all lead generation activities.
1. Questions to consider:
- Evaluate your business goals and plans for expanding your business over the next year.
- Are you driving enough leads to sustain your growth plan?
- Do you know the results of your digital marketing efforts?
2. How many more qualified leads do you need to meet or exceed your growth plans?
3. Allocate budget for the digital marketing efforts you will need to meet your targets.
Use this useful guide from Google to learn how to “Measure what matters the most”