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Brian Robben

cincinnati-local-seo-case-study

We Took A Cincinnati Chiropractor From 0 To 1,000s Of Views In 3 Months

By | SEO | No Comments

You know why getting traffic to your business website is important? It’s not about the traffic at all.

Website visitors matter because along with them come highly interested leads who are ready—on the spot—to buy from your business.

Every business owner with an ounce of ambition is looking to grow their company, right?

One way you grow an organization by 200%, 500%, or 1,000% or more every year, is by increasing your traffic—specifically your local SEO traffic. This singular objective will send more leads, customers, and sales to your business.

Because when you break it down, marketing is always the same: Higher visibility equals higher profits.

And that’s the formula whether you sell ecommerce products, services, or you’re a flower shop where customers can only call in or visit your store to purchase.

When you get thousands of more visitors to your site, then you’ll add thousands of dollars to your business bank account.

That’s exactly what we accomplished for this local Cincinnati chiropractor.

See how the process came together from start to finish to learn valuable takeaways that you can implement for your company.

How We Sent Traffic To This Cincinnati Chiropractor

1. Designed A Sales-Focused Website

ecommerce-website

First things first, it makes no sense to send thousands of visitors to a website if the design is not making a positive first impression and convincing visitors to take actions, such as: call now, submit a form, or sign up for your email list.

You need a website that’s built with sales in mind to convert your traffic into paying customers.

Otherwise, you’ll be spinning your wheels to attract traffic, only to get little to no business gains from the work. That’s not rewarding.

What is sweet is when your website is a money-making machine that works 24 hours, 7 days a week, to grow your business.

So what did we do for this chiropractor and how can you get there? It takes a fundamental understanding of what factors increase conversions.

In my experience growing a six-figure digital marketing company in just 5 months, I know the best converting websites have these factors:

  • Their overall appearance is clean and simple
  • Their headlines clearly state who they are and what they do
  • Their call-to-action text and button placement is compelling
  • Their support information screams credibility and trust
  • Their contact forms are short to limit friction

Take a look at how our Illumen web design team built this website.

There’s a clear call-to-action in the top right header.  Another button is in the featured slider image. And at the bottom of the page is another contact form, giving visitors at least three chances to take a step to schedule an appointment.

If a customer has a bad back or neck and is remotely interested, they’re more likely to take the step to call this chiropractor based on our button placements.

2. Identified Profitable Keywords

local-seo-keywords

Know why some local business websites rank high on Google and their doors are flooded with new customers?

It’s because they’ve optimized their website with keywords that their target audience searches. Then Google recognizes these keywords on their site, and ranks their pages for said keyword.

Essentially Google’s job is to show the websites that best match the keyword phrase to the consumer’s search.

The smart business owners identify the keywords that their average customer searches for to find a business like theirs, then edits the heading and paragraph text on the site to match the keyword.

But ranking for competitive keywords is a tightly competitive and never ending challenge. Plus, good luck targeting a one word keyword or national keywords if you’re starting from scratch. That can take 3 to 5 years to get any traffic.

Instead, it’s all about local SEO, in other words ranking on the first page of Google for strategic keywords with the name of your city or town in the keyword phrase.

For example, the odds your website ranks for the word “BBQ restaurant” is close to zero. However, if your building is located in the town of Mason, Ohio, you have much better odds of ranking for the keyword “Mason BBQ restaurant”.

And unless you have an ecommerce store, it doesn’t help your business if someone across the country finds your local business. They’re not going to drive from Texas to Mason, Ohio to eat your BBQ—that’s absurd.

We did this exact approach to rank our case study client by targeting keywords like “Cincinnati chiropractor” to put his business in front of people whose bodies were aching.

As we all know, it doesn’t help a local business (who doesn’t sell ecommerce) if they get a website lead from an individual across the country. That’s why local SEO remained our focus to rank this particular business.

3. Wrote High-Quality Content

local-seo-content-writer

Nothing moves the traffic needle like solid content for your audience. It’s the oxygen of any marketing strategy, including this local SEO case study.

As long as the content is there on your business website in some fashion, the material can come in any form: written blog post, recorded audio podcast, or a video.

It’s not good enough to get up any material, what you put on your site needs to be meaningful.

Your business website’s content should either educate, entertain, or excite your audience to get them coming back for more. And you shouldn’t make these business blogging mistakes.

For example, if you sell a complicated service or product, do an explainer piece of content that walks people through exactly how to setup and use your offering.

With our chiropractor, we had one of our in-house writers publish two 1,000 word posts a week. The blog post titles covered topics like Is Chiropractic Care Safe? to What’s The #1 Solution For Neck Pain Relief? and so on.

Since the only clients who would come in were around 10 miles or less from his office, it didn’t matter about national or global exposure. We utilized Cincinnati local SEO strategies in the blog posts to rank our chiropractor’s site on Google and get it in front of people in a 15 mile radius to his office.

Not only did these posts educate the local community, but in the conclusion of every article, we wrote a call-to-action for the readers to schedule an appointment with this chiropractor.

That’s a great example of giving 99% value and then asking for a sale at the end.

We also did a post that promoted other non-cpompeting local businesses in the area to build up some goodwill for their brand. These businesses shared the post and linked to it, which expanded the post’s reach.

Quality content will always send traffic to your website, always.

4. Utilized Internal Linking

internal-linking-search-optimization

A link from one page of the Internet to another page is a boost in SEO juice for the page receiving the link. That’s precisely why external links are so valuable since they tip off Google to rank your site higher.

However, getting a few external links is often hard to come by in itself. It takes serious effort and patience to see receive just one or two links this way.

Good thing there’s another solution: internal linking. These are pages that link from one page or post of your website to another page on your same site.

As you may have guessed, they also make a significant difference for your SEO and website traffic goals.

We decided that the focus pages for this chiropractor were the homepage and the Chiropractic Services page. For many of the articles we wrote on his site, we’d link back to one of these pages—all the while helping their individual SEO score.

Pro tip: Don’t link random words back to your main landing pages. Instead it’s far more effective to use the keywords you discovered in the previous step, to link back to the main page you want to rank higher on Google.

For example, in our efforts to rank our local SEO services, I’d link those words since they accurately tell Google what that page is about. That action will get our Local SEO page indexed higher compared to linking the words “click here” or “services”.

Also, don’t try to game the system by linking every single post on your site to a main page. Google will easily sniff this out. And you may even get moved down in the rankings for that spammy move.

Internally link to your main pages, naturally, and your search engine traffic will consistently grow.

5. Collected Online Reviews

google-listing-reviews

Online reviews on listings like Google, Yelp, and Facebook are like the new word of mouth.

People back in the day would go out on their porch or to their local diner to discuss with neighbors the local businesses and their service quality. That’s how you’d find out if Bob’s Dry Cleaners were worth the money or a ripoff.

Nowadays, consumers check business listings like Google My Business to get the inside scoop before they choose where to hand over their money.

On these listings, they immediately check out your reviews and customer feedback, without having to leave their bedroom.

Then, a lot of times, they decide, right then and there, what company to buy from. If your online reviews are numersome and positive, you put yourself in position to win the customer over.

With a low total or a negative star rating, you’re company is not even a consideration anymore. You’ve lost out on them and their money.

Don’t believe me? Consider this: Over 80% of consumers value online reviews with the same weight as personal recommendations from their friends and family. That’s 8 out of 10 people—insane!

In our work with this chiropractor, we made review cards, an email list push, and word-of-mouth efforts to gain this business reviews on Google and Facebook.

Basically, we tried every reasonable strategy to rake in as many reviews as possible, because we sensed the importance for a local business like theirs.

Guess what happened. Over time, we started to see more people get referred from these listings and Google Maps.

That’s what happens when local business marketing is done right!

The takeaway is to never get lazy in your efforts to bring in more Google reviews from customers.

Because over time, it’ll be a fivefold increase in profits. And, if you’re fortunate, these reviews can become the backbone of your marketing for years.

Use Local SEO To Bring In More Customers

Just as we ranked this Cincinnati chiropractor in a matter of months through local search marketing, you can rank your local business. I guarantee results if you execute and stay focused.

Maybe the best advantage of search engine optimization is that the results are exponential. Meaning you can put as much time into it now as you do six months from now, but the results will be a high multiplier better than month one.

That could look like this: month one you only bring in 61 views to your website, but month three you have 1170 views, in month six your business site jumps to 2,000 views, only to rake in 7,000 views a month in month 12.

That’s only a year out. This equation multiplies higher with the more effort you put into your SEO channel over the years.

Just imagine the damage you can do in three to five years.

Some day, you may get to the point where you never need to pay for advertising again because the combination of Google searches and your website traffic gives you all the business you could ever need.

Don’t be surprised when that happens.

But first, take action like your business’ survival depends on it—because it kind of does—and then you will start to rank for the profitable keywords that will bring you more business.

If you don’t know much about search engine optimization (SEO) or don’t have the time, consider working with us to get top notch results.

reasons-to-hire-seo-company

5 Smart Reasons To Hire A Cincinnati SEO Company

By | SEO | No Comments

Why should your company consider hiring a SEO company? It’s the same reason you’re in business: to make more money!

When your website ranks higher on Google through effective search engine optimization, interested traffic floods your website, and that produces more direct sales.

Then your company starts prospering, you can hire more sales reps or a bigger team, and now you have a growing machine—all thanks to the initial SEO push.

As you can imagine now, it’s all types of good to be at the top of a Google search for the service or product your company sells.

And not only is it profitable, it’s efficient.

When qualified leads are coming to your company, they’re more likely to enter your sales funnel and buy faster and at higher dollar amounts. This is compared to cold calls that take years to develop into anything somewhat worthwhile.

Those are a few quick reasons why your business is missing out if you haven’t hired a SEO company to get your website more traffic and online business.

I personally know the power of search engine optimization from experience.

I first spent years learning SEO and from that time studying I’ve sent close to a million views to my personal development business TakeYourSuccess.com, and raked in tens of thousands of dollars in profits from book sales, affiliate sales, advertisement deals, and coaching.

Since I inherently understand SEO, I’ve done this before for multiple websites, and for the 5 reasons below, you should seriously consider paying a Cincinnati SEO company to grow the traffic of your business website.

Reasons To Hire A SEO Company

1. You’ll save your company time

Imagine you’re a business owner who has your staff spend hundreds of hours blogging with the goal of sending more traffic to your site, except it doesn’t work.

All of that energy spent writing becomes wasted dollars, that the owner has to pay for, and missed opportunities to complete other tasks at hand.

For a small business, this can be a crushing defeat.

And the failed blogging scenario is actually likely in today’s hyper-competitive content space.

The truth is it takes strategic keyword research to know the exact terms your ideal customer will search for, a thorough website analysis to fix the errors in your site, and tactical execution to jump to page one on Google searches.

The average business owner isn’t going to know where to begin with any of these SEO-critical tasks, just as a SEO genius won’t know how to cook bruschetta chicken pasta like an experienced chef.

Or maybe the small business is doing everything right and targeting the correct keywords, but Google isn’t indexing their website pages. If your site has a critical error in its coding, it doesn’t matter how much you blog because it’ll all be for nothing.

Again, this can cripple a business since they invested a bunch of time into a failed project with no return.

A qualified SEO company will be able to sniff that out from the start, saving you months or years of frustrating results.

So if you value your company’s time and your own as the business owner, then it makes all the sense in the world to pay for SEO.

Time is always money.

2. You won’t waste money

You’ve probably heard the phrase:

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

This is not one of those sayings said out of thin air with no backing behind it. It’s 100% true in any industry, but especially SEO.

There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting money. It gets worse when you’re not a Fortune 500 company who can afford to throw around money in every which way.

So ranking your website high on searches is not a task you can delegate to an intern or your niece. They’ll mess around and accomplish nothing.

Then you’re back to where you started at the best, and penalized by Google at worst.

You’re also losing money every day to your competitors who do show up on Google’s first page when your website isn’t optimized for search engines.

For example, a Cincinnati florist company who doesn’t appear on the first page of Google when people search for “Cincinnati flowers” is losing thousands of dollars per year to their competitors.

local-seo-cincinnati-ohio

Results from a Google search for “Cincinnati flowers.”

And think about this. Anyone who invests a few grand into a beautiful website that has all the bells and whistles imaginable, but gets zero traffic, basically wasted their money. Right?

Having a simplistic and well-designed website is only as important as sending people there to see it. What’s the value if no one visits it?

Hiring a Cincinnati local SEO company like us to expert to send thousands of views to your pages ensures the money you invested into a web design project is worth it after all.

Don’t waste your money. Get thousands of views from organic traffic to grow your business.

3. You’ll quickly rank higher in Google searches and receive more traffic

All business is moving toward the Internet if it hasn’t already yet.

So when your customers have a pain point or an immediate need, they’re going straight to Google search to type in what they’re looking for online.

I’m not making this up.

Check out the Google search results in Cincinnati, OH alone for these popular keywords:

  • cincinnati florists = 1,000 to 10,000 searches per month
  • car rental cincinnati = 1,000 to 10,000 searches per month
  • cincinnati apartments = 1,000 to 10,000 searches per month
  • hvac cincinnati = 100 to 1,000 searches per month
  • cincinnati pools = 100 to 1,000 searches per month

I could provide hundreds of different examples for any business, in any industry, with any target audience.

No matter if your customers are young or old, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, they’re finding their way to a computer or phone and Google searching their need. Even poor people who can’t afford a computer or smartphone can visit a local library for free Internet usage.

The point is the businesses on the first page of Google get all the website traffic. And that traffic turns into phone call orders, online purchases, and form submissions.

When you work with an SEO company—who knows what they’re doing—your business website will start to climb the rankings of Google searches and do it quickly.

Then, say you’re a florist, a husband looking for flowers to give his wife on their anniversary types in “cincinnati florist” and your business shows up. He gives you a call and you made $100 thanks to a high Google search ranking.

As your search rank improves, you go from getting 7 organic views a month to 107, and then 507 views every month. That’s when business starts booming.

Getting more traffic and positive business results is precisely why you should invest in search engine optimization.

4. You’ll set your sales team up with a stream of quality leads

Ask any sales person about this and you’ll find there’s a huge gap in success rate when a lead is inbound—introducing themselves to the company—compared to outbound—where your team is trying everything in their power to get someone’s attention.

The difficulty level is night and day.

Leverage is everything in sales, so inbound leads from search engine optimization will make your sales team’s job incredibly easy.

Why? Well when an inbound lead from a Google search submits a contact form asking for a quote, they have all but done the sales team’s job for them.

This customer has made it clear they have a need. They’ve said they want to hear pricing. And they’re all teed up to almost close themselves. A below-average sales rep can close a deal like this one.

To get a better understanding of inbound marketing, Hubspot did an excellent job of visualizing the inbound process from start to finish.

visual-representation-marketing-funnelThe orange category titled Blog is where SEO primarily comes into play. This graphic highlights how close it is to the buying cycle of customers and why I always point my clients attention to inbound traffic.

Inbound traffic is powerful when you remember that more traffic to your website means more of all the categories in the graphic above: awareness (consumers go from Google to your website), consideration (viewers read your case studies and testimonials), purchase (ecommerce and in-store sales increase), retention (customers learn more about your brand), and advocacy (social shares, signing up for your newsletter).

Your sales team’s jobs will be 10,000% easier when they’re jumping on calls with people who’ve found them through Google and asked to learn more, compared to cold calls.

5. You’ll grow your company revenue

I’d honestly tell you to not have a website and forget about search engine optimization if it didn’t work to reach quality prospects and set your business up to close more sales.

But I know from first hand experience that search marketing does work. That’s why I’ll always be an advocate for it!

Yes SEO takes an investment of time or money, or both. But what doesn’t to grow your business?

There’s not a single marketing channel that you can set up, never touch it again, and rake in big money to grow your company. This channel doesn’t exist or I’d be all over it.

The best reason to focus your business on SEO is not benefits one through four, but this one: effective SEO will grow your company’s revenue to record highs.

The fact that a better SEO strategy saves your company time, saves you money, sends quality traffic to your site, and makes it easier for your sales team to close deals, all means more money is going to your company’s bottom line.

So whether you’re in business for the money or a cause you believe in, at the end of the day more money means you can fundamentally stay in business as well as grow to serve more customers.

That’s real value.

Illumen Media Has A Proven SEO Track Record

SEO is not something we act like we know about at Illumen Media.

It’s not a “fake it until we make it” experiment on your company’s site where you get barely noticeable results (unfortunately a bunch of other Cincinnati SEO companies can’t say the same).

We have a proven track record of results for ourselves and clients.

In other words, doing search engine optimization and creating a keyword-focused content plan for your business website is a lay-up for us.

We’ve done it before, we’re getting results in the present for our clients and ourselves as we speak, and we’ll execute for you—regardless of your industry.

To prove it, see the work we did on the only three-years-old TakeYourSuccess.com’s traffic:

SEO-pageviews-results

And check out the traffic on this Illumen site, which isn’t even a year old:

new-wesite-google-analytics

That’s why if you decide to work with Illumen to get more Google traffic, then I guarantee we’ll produce more sales and results out of your website that will make you satisfied.

Not only will you be satisfied, but you’ll receive the benefits already outlined above:

  1. You’ll save your company and employees time
  2. You won’t waste money with amateur work
  3. You’ll start ranking higher in Google searches and receiving more traffic quickly
  4. Your sales team will have too many leads to process—an awesome problem to have
  5. Your revenue will grow to all-time highs thanks to your website

And if you’re a local Cincinnati business, we can meet with you in person to discuss your specific needs, timelines, and how we’ll track results so you can know you’re business is growing.

We’ll also work with you step by step the entire way to ensure you’re satisfied. Basically what I’m saying is, you can’t go wrong by hiring Illumen Media to do your business website’s SEO.

So why attempt a Hail Mary pass doing SEO yourself or with an inexperienced company, when you can work with Illumen and take the easy lay-up with us?

Put us to work and we’ll show you results.

Related:

Got Your SEO Keyword? Here’s Exactly Where To Place It On Your Site

illumen-media-google-listing

How Setting Up Google My Business Will Grow Your Company’s Revenue

By | Reputation Management, SEO | No Comments

Setting up your company’s Google My Business listing is such an easy and effective way to grow your business’ revenue.

So it blows my mind when businesses don’t have one because this is truly a no brainer for any business owner with their head on straight.

Literally in a matter of seconds, ok maybe minutes, you can set up your business listing on Google and start receiving more online and in-store traffic immediately.  

After reading this, you’re going to know learn more about local SEO, why this is powerful, and how to set a verified, Google listing for your business that will bring you more customers.

What Is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a listing service that allows businesses to create a profile and add their important information so they will appear more often in Google Search and Google Maps.

Sometimes a business already appears on Google, but through Google My Business the company can go into their listing and manage the information. This is especially helpful for verifying the business, updating their address if their store location has changed , or they need to edit incorrect information that damages the company.

If you’ve ever been on your laptop and searched for a business, then on the right of the links you saw a business listing with a logo and map, the business name, address, phone number, hours, and reviews? That’s a company’s Google listing.

How Does A Google Listing Help Your Business?

When your company has established a quality Google My Business listing you’ll receive three specific benefits. Each of these will directly or indirectly work to increase your revenue:

1. Expand your online presence

Do you know how many local customers in your city who are Google searching for the services and products your business sells? Depending on your industry, at least hundreds a month, most likely thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Google traffic results for keyword sushi.

Around 1,000 to 10,000 Cincinnati people search specifically for “sushi near me” every month.

How often does your business show up in these searches? I know for a fact that it appears less without a Google listing than it would with one.

With a Google listing and a large quantity of positive reviews, a sushi restaurant will appear first on the map listing when locals search “sushi near me”.

A Google My Business listing will definitely expand your online presence so more relevant customers find you.

That’s exactly what you’re looking for on a daily basis, right?

2. Sell to new customers

Expanding your online presence so new people see your business name is one thing, but what you really want is to land sales from it.

I have good news for you: 18% of local searches on mobile phones lead to a sale within 24 hours! That proves when people search locally, they’re not just looking for information. They often want to spend their money and spend it quickly.

It makes sense because consumers in the buying process often have an immediate problem (like they need to visit a nail salon to look better before a wedding this weekend) or an immediate desire (they want their nails done because they feel like it) that they want to solve quickly.

You better believe there’s not only marketing in setting up this listing, but cold hard cash to be made.

3. Improve your customer service

A healthy business isn’t all about getting new customers to buy from your store. That’s part of the equation, but the other half is keeping your current customers happy with quality customer service.

One way setting up a Google listing helps is it makes it convenient for consumers looking you up on Google.com or Google Maps to find the information they desire.

For example, maybe they want to swing by your shop at night but don’t know if you’re open. If you have no Google listing showcasing your hours, then they may drive out of their way only to discover you’re closed. They very easily can take out the frustration on your business and vow to never come back.

Now if you have a Google listing then your hours would appear front and center when they search, so they could know ahead of time to not waste the trip and to visit your shop the next morning.

It’s also a nice touch for consumers looking for your company phone number. When they type your business name in Google, it will pop up right away for them.

How To Add Or Claim Your Business On Google

Depending on if you need to add your business listing or your business is already on Google and you need to verify it, there are two different lists of directions.

How To Add Your Business

Step 1: Visit Google My Business.

Adding your business to Google My Business is free. All you need to do is have a Google account and follow the instructions below to get your company more local awareness.

If you don’t have a Google account, sign up for one first. Once you have one, then run through the rest of this step-by-step guide.

Step 2: Enter your business name in the first field and then address. Suggestions may appear, and if one is your business then click it.

Typing in business name on Google My Business.

Typing in address on Google listing.Double check to make sure you spelled your business name and address 100% correct. Sometimes Google can be thrown off if there’s a quotation mark or the business name doesn’t match their database.

Step 3: If you see a message saying someone else has already verified your business, then follow the steps below under How To Regain Access To Your Listing.

By one way or another, you’ll get to the bottom of this so you have control of your listing and it’s verified.

Step 4: If your business name doesn’t appear, click ‘No, these are not my businesses’ or ‘I’ve correctly entered the business.’ Then enter correct details for your business like a complete street address and a business phone number that you can easily answer, and click ‘Submit.’

Again, accuracy is key here. Take your time to ensure every letter and number is correct before moving on.

Step 5: Fill out your business information: hours, address, contact information, and pictures.

Illumen Media's Google listing.

This is important for two reasons.

First, adding this information goes a long way for customer service. When a consumer types in your company name on Google, all of the important contact information and hours are right in front of them.

Second, this also adds more weight to your Google listing and increases the odds that your business appears in Google search results and Google Maps results.

Step 6: Verify your business by requesting a code that will be mailed to you, then when it arrives just enter the numbers in your Google My Business page.

Illumen Media is verified on Google.

Illumen Media is verified on Google. (Let’s go!) This verification also helps us show up more frequently in local search results for businesses in our space.

How To Regain Access To Your Listing

Sometimes you’ll try to sign into your Google My Business listing but it’ll say that someone else has already verified your business.

If you’re the business owner, this can be incredibly frustrating because clearly you should be the one, if anyone, who owns and manages this listing. It’s your business after all.

Though don’t get too annoyed. There are also steps to get control of your listing back.

The first step is to try using a different email address to sign into Google My Business.

What often happens is a business owner already created their listing with a business email address, and then later tried to sign in with a personal email address so Google doesn’t give them access.

The trick here is to sign out of the email account that didn’t work and try another email of yours to see if this signs you in. If that works, then you’re good. If it doesn’t, move onto the steps below.

Step 1: Visit Google My Business.

Step 2: Sign in with the account you use to manage this listing.

Step 3: Type in your business name and select it from the results. Or if you see a message that shows part of the email address who owns the listing and it looks like yours, sign into that email.

Step 4: Fill out the form because the current listing owner may need to contact you for more info, and to submit your request you need to share your contact details with them.

If you continue to have problems, give Google customer support a call at 1 855-836-3987 and they’ll assist you in resolving the matter.

1 Major Way To Grow Your Business With This Listing

Once you own and have a verified Google listing, it’s time for the best part: getting the most out of this listing to grow your business.

How can you do this? Claiming your business, adding its important information, and verifying it were all helpful steps.

However, the single best way to turn your listing into a sales machine for your business is to get your previous customers to review your business on Google.

I’m going to quote a local business Illumen article to tell you the reason why:

  • 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 58% of customers say the star rating of a business is important to them

Once you send enough positive reviews to your business, then Google takes over and will start to rank you near the top of local searches related to what your company offers.

These local searches then lead to significant traffic to your website, phone calls, in-store visits, and ultimately sales. Walla! your business is generating more profits than it ever has before.

Though this deserves its own article, here are a few ways to encourage your loyal customers to review:

  • After every purchase, have someone on your team personally ask them to review (studies show 70% of customers will review if asked politely)
  • Clearly instruct customers on how to review by handing them a step-by-step print out card with directions
  • Incentivize reviews by giving away a low-cost gift like a coffee mug
  • Run a giveaway contest on Facebook where the only way to enter is by leaving a review
  • Have multiple touch points online and in-store encouraging customers to leave an honest Google review
  • Write an emotionally compelling email every 6 months that explains why reviews are important to spreading the word about your business in the local community

Also, it’s helpful to respond to the online reviews you already have received and all future reviews. We previously wrote a guide on how to respond to Google reviews.

With this Google listing set up and a strong effort to receive customer reviews, you’re going to bring in a flood of sales for your business.

You’re welcome.

speed-up-website

Make Your Website Load Insanely Fast For Better SEO

By | SEO, Website | No Comments

Knowing how to make your website faster is an extremely valuable skill for your customers experience, your SEO, and your online business revenue.

It’s not just because slow websites are painfully frustrating. The main reason you can’t, and shouldn’t, live with slow loading pages is because it’s going to hurt your bottom line.

Slow websites cost business owners money! And lots of it.

Factually speaking here, the more seconds it takes your page to load means the more people who are clicking away from your site. The effect is you’ll have less people go on to browse your site, subscribe to your email list, and buy from you.

Literally one or two extra seconds of load time can be the difference between getting them to buy from you or your competition. That’s a big deal!

When you combine the fact people are the opposite side of patient these days and you’re not the only company who offers what you do, any business with a slow website shouldn’t wait another day without fixing it.

The stats below prove this statement too true.

Why Website Load Time Matters

Disagreeing with what you think is my personal opinion is one thing. But ignoring the facts surrounding the importance of load time is a costly mistake. Take a look.

Did you know that 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less (Wired)?

Displeasing a consumer right before they consider buying from your business is the exact opposite approach you want to maximize sales. This stat shows that slow websites hurt visitor’s expectations and make a bad first impression right off the bat.

Instead, the goal is to make it as seamless of a buying experience as possible to encourage consumers to buy lots of your products and services. A fast website makes it convenient for your online shoppers to pull the trigger.

A fast website can totally make the difference on whether your business or the competitor gets the sale.

For local businesses, this can make or break their survival.

Kissmetrics found that 18% of mobile users will click off your site if it doesn’t load in under 5 seconds, and 30% click away if a page takes 10 seconds to load.

I’m honestly surprised these percentages aren’t higher given the first statistic. I find it hard to believe that 70% of people have more than 10 seconds of patience to stay on a slow-loading website.

The problem compounds when you realize that not just the first page is slow, but every page on a slow site will most likely take longer than 5 seconds to load. They click on 6 pages and they’ve wasted more than a minute of their time.

How are you going to get an online sale if they’re more focused on their frustrating experience than what you’re selling? This is a poor strategy.

A smarter business owner will speed up their mobile site, and desktop site, to deliver an exceptional online experience.

A page that loads just one second slower causes an 11% drop in page views and 7% drop in conversions according to Aberdeen.

Your customers are busy as hell. They want to view your page fast so they can learn what they’re after and make a decision.

But a slow site will quickly lose the people who visit it as seconds pass by and the page is still loading. The 11% is one thing, imagine the millions of dollars lost across the industry resulting from 7% less conversions.

And I’m not sure it’s technically correct to assume this from the study, but I’d imagine every second longer is another 11% of people who click away or even worse.

Google admitted page speed is part of their ranking system.

Google is usually extremely reserved about disclosing what goes into their website ranking algorithm. But they did admit that page speed influences how they rank sites in search results.

The fact that they made it a point to communicate this means any website that’s serious about ranking for first page search results needs a fast website.

I mean, why invest in local SEO strategies like setting up a Google My Business and other listings, asking customers for online reviews, or even paying a digital marketing company if your results are only going to be undercut by a snail-paced site.

Slow websites get heavy bounce rates which damage a website’s SEO ranking, cause fewer people to visit the website, and therefor online sales decline.

Whereas a fast site will help humans and bots visit more pages of your website and improve the other important SEO factors like time on site and page views per visitor.

By now I hope you realize that a slow website is like dead weight to the growth of your company. It’s up to you whether you make your website faster or go on doing business at your own risk.

For those of you wanting to cut off seconds from your site’s load time, you’re in luck.

How To Speed Up Your Website

Fast moving traffic.

Why waste time, energy, and money sending people to your business website if it’s slow, they click away, and you lose sales? It’s time you speed up your website to capitalize on every single visitor.

Take the action steps below and you won’t have to deal with a slow website ever again.

1. Make your website simpler to reduce HTTP requests

A busier website with more stuff going puts a heavier burden on the page to load quickly. Or just think about it in layman terms: A 300-pound-person weighed down by soaking wet clothes is not going to be as fast as as a lean 175-pound-sprinter with a six pack and their shirt off.

The same concept applies to your website.

How do you make your website simpler? There are many different solutions and you should take all of them:

  • Delete all elements on your website that don’t serve a specific purpose
  • Reduce the amount of 301, 303, and mobile redirects since these add HTTP requests and hurt website load time
  • Use less scripts when possible, “minify” your scripts, and combine them into as few files as possible (see #5)
  • Combine multiple CSS stylesheets into one style sheet

The biggest factor is the first bullet point. You don’t need your entire product line showing on your homepage, for example. Use a button for that.

By using a minimalist inspired design where every element of the site has a functional or aesthetic purpose, you’ll reduce the number of tasks your website goes through to load a new page and speed up your website.

2. Use compression to reduce file size

What do you do with your pages full of long content and images?

You don’t want to give less value to your audience, so the content length can’t change. But how it’s organized can, and should, to speed up your website loading time.

Here’s what to do: Zip the files through compression. This term compression means your website reduces the size of files into a smaller file. Doing this takes away a burden from your host and site, enabling quicker load times.

It can be somewhat technical to implement this on your website. If you have WordPress, there are plugins that make it simpler (scroll down to the end where we talk about Cloudflare—and there are other options too like W3 Total Cache and WP Fastest Cache).

If you want to learn and get your hands dirty, or see under the hood as to what a company would be doing for you, here’s a great post about HTTP GZIP compression. Essentially, this makes the process of delivering the website code to your web browser (like Google Chrome or Safari) as efficient and speedy as possible.

3. Improve server response time

This is the only task outside of your website, but how well your website host is performing is critically important to the task at hand.

Since I doubt you have your own server in the basement of your business, odds are your website is on a server with countless other websites all competing to receive server response time—thus slowing each other down.

A bad hosting performance can significantly slow down the page load time and get your visitors off to a bad start before they see anything on your website.

A quick way you can see how fast or slow your server response time is by typing in your URL here. If your host has anything lower than a C+ grade in the results, then it’s only smart to switch hosts so your users get a better experience and your business brings in more cash.

If you’re looking for a solid web host, we use A2 Hosting. After assessing dozens of web hosting companies, we determined they are among the top server response time and offer great value for the price point.

4. Smush image sizes

The smaller images the better. That makes sense right? Smushing file sizes of image reduces the page load time.

The way you accomplish this is by using a plugin like Compress JPEG and PNG Images.This will automatically smush your images after you upload, while keeping resolution. And you can use it to optimize your previous images already in your WordPress Media folder.

You can also be smart by uploading the correct image size to fit your website first, instead of uploading a massive 5500px by 3500px image and making your website reduce it to fit your page settings. I recommend you go through a site like Canva to crop your image, then upload it.

Also the file type of the image plays a factor for website load time. JPEG is the best for site speed, followed by PNG. The other image types are only going to load slowly and bring down the rest of your page speed with them. That’s not cool.

5. Minify HTML, CSS, Javascript

Initially, code takes up a lot of space, because it’s written by humans who need to be able to read it. The code is spread out over hundreds or thousands of lines so it’s easy to write and modify.

Your web browser doesn’t care though, and it delivers performance improvements (by reducing file size) if all the code is on one line.

If you run a Google Pagespeed Insights test, they’ll automatically generate “minified” CSS and Javascript files for you and tell you how much file size you’re saving by using these files.

WordPress plugins, like W3 Total Cache mentioned earlier, can take care of this for you automatically as well—even as you install new plugins, write new blog posts, and add other new content to your site.

Part of the minifying process is combining multiple files into one—be careful when you do this though. The order in which JavaScript files are loaded actually matters (as one JavaScript file may depend on another being loaded first).

If you have a complicated website, you almost certainly should engage a professional developer or company to handle this for you, so they can ensure it speeds up your site rather than breaking it. But it’s worth it for the performance improvements you’ll get. We shaved a few seconds off the load time for several websites recently, just from this step alone!

6. Enable caching

There are images and files used across multiple pages on your website—for example, your logo probably appears on every page. There’s no reason your browser needs to download a new version of the logo every time it needs to load.

So “browser caching,” explained simply, is the process of storing these files on your computer so they don’t have to be downloaded again from the server. Images, CSS/JavaScript files, and HTML content can all be cached.

Essentially when your website has enabled browser caching, there’s less to load because the files have already been preloaded on your customer’s computer for the next time they visit. That makes for a much quicker load time and user experience.

Caching can improve site speed by a few seconds, which makes a difference, for your regular visitors. And trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

7. Delete unused and inefficient plugins

Plugins are a lifesaver when they’re useful and they work. However, after getting access to many clients’ websites, I routinely see unused plugins that take from the site and contribute nothing.

Since they only make your website slower and increase the likelihood something breaks, you must delete unnecessary plugins. Toss them to the curb and kiss them goodbye.

Not only should you delete plugins that aren’t in use, you should also look to replace poor-performing plugins with better ones.

In this plugin article, we recommend replacing popular plugins like Jetpack and Sumo. And delete that default Hello Dolly plugin for the sake of my sanity.

Website Speed Wrap Up

Making your page load times faster may look too technical. It may look like a major time suck. But realistically this is a one time investment that’s going to pay dividends for years to come.

If you don’t have the technical ability to make these changes on your own, then hire someone (like us) who does so you can complete this project. And if you do know your way around this technical work, block off a few hours on a Saturday to grind away until the job is done.

For a reminder and motivational purposes, these are the benefits waiting for you after you speed up your business website:

  • Customers will have a better experience scrolling through your website and think more highly of your brand
  • Google will rank your pages higher which will increase overall traffic to your website
  • It’ll be more efficient to edit a faster website
  • Most importantly: Your business revenue will grow!

Shaving seconds off your site load time could be the best business move your company makes all year.

Related: 9 Ways To Update Your Business Website Out Of The Stone Age

Don’t Use WordPress Without These 15 Must-Have Free Plugins

By | Website | No Comments

With so many options, choosing the best WordPress plugins for your website can feel overwhelming. No WordPress website is complete without these 15 top free plugins.

In pretty much every situation, WordPress is hands down the best platform for your website. One of the advantages of WordPress is the massive amount of free plugins you can install to improve your website.

If you coded your website by hand, it would take hours to implement features that WordPress plugins can get up and running on your site in seconds.

There are more than 50,000 plugins on the official WordPress plugins directory. And there are even more if you consider the vast amount of paid plugins you can purchase and install.

When you’re looking to add something to your site and start searching for plugins, chances are there are multiple similar options that appear to achieve the same goal.

How do you pick the best plugins? Experiment! The best way is to try all the options and see how you like them, looking for any “side effects” like breaking other features on your site.

That takes a lot of time—fortunately, we’ve done the work for you. We’ve built dozens of WordPress websites for our clients and experimented with our fair share of plugins.

There are even plugins that add features to your site you don’t even realize you need!

We’ll review the top free WordPress plugins you should install to maximize what you’re getting out of your website. Where relevant, we’ll also suggest alternatives for more technical users and explain why the plugins we picked stand out from their competitors.

Keep reading until the end, as the post will wrap up with a few plugins you really should avoid.

The Best Free WordPress Plugins

There are numerous benefits to adding these plugins to your website. They’ll help your SEO, improve its performance, integrate your site with your other digital marketing efforts, and add other features your users have come to expect.

While we’ll only talk about free plugins in this post, there are quite a few powerful paid plugins as well that are worth exploring. However, these free plugins will get you in the game while you consider whether you might get an added benefit by investing in their paid alternatives.

You can install all these free plugins right from the WordPress admin dashboard by navigating to Plugins > Add New, searching the plugin name, clicking “install”, then “activate”.

1. Yoast SEO

Let’s start with an important one—Yoast SEO!

For good reason, this is one of the most popular plugins of all time. The purpose of your website is to get the word out about your business. Yoast gets your SEO in shape to increase your traffic from search engines.

Brief refresher for the uninitiated: SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of strategies you can use to help search engines understand what your site is about, and in turn, send more traffic your way.

Yoast covers all the essential SEO tactics. The plugin makes it really easy for you to update the title and description that appear on search engines (called “meta” title and description).

configure-yoast-seo

We recommend Yoast over the other immensely popular SEO plugin called All In One SEO. Both are great options with similar features, but Yoast is much more user-friendly.

Yoast is easier for a non-technical user to understand, while All In One SEO works well for SEO and website development pros. (Yoast is good for pros, too, with all the same essential features.)

2. Ninja Forms

Your website should make it easy for visitors to contact you. Ninja Forms is the best free option to make that happen.

Without coding anything, you can set up customized contact forms and embed them in the relevant spots on your site.

Ninja Forms, like many of the best free plugins, has a paid version. They’re not shy about trying to get you to upgrade either. But the plugin’s free features are enough for most situations.

Another great option is Contact Form 7, but it doesn’t have the simple user interface of Ninja Forms and it’s harder to customize the look and feel of your forms without basic HTML knowledge.

So if you’re a website pro, Contact Form 7 is a better option as there are more free options that cost money with Ninja Forms and other form plugins.

Setup Tip

Also install Flamingo so you can save form submissions. It’s useful to have everything in one place and to have a backup in case you have any issues with email delivery. Ninja Forms includes this feature in the main free plugin.

3. Akismet

Everyone hates spam. Since contact forms are a must-have for your website, you also need to save your inbox and prevent spam.

Akismet uses a variety of tactics to prevent spam comments and form submissions on your website.

This plugin is great because it just works. Install the plugin, walk through the initial setup, then leave it be. It’ll automatically safeguard your site from annoying automated spam.

Your email inbox will thank you!

4. Google Analytics Dashboard

If you don’t already use Google Analytics, this should be the first thing you do after finishing this post.

Google Analytics is a ridiculously powerful, free system from Google that tracks your website traffic. It’s easy to install and collects a ton of data you can use to understand what visitors do on your website, how they found you, and so on.

So after you’ve created your Google Analytics account, you need to set it up on your website. The easiest way to do that is through Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.

It’s super simple to set up. Google Analytics Dashboard will authorize your Google account, walk you through a very easy setup process, and then you never have to worry about it again.

There are dozens of Google Analytics plugins, but the others aren’t as simple. It’s easier to make mistakes as they usually require copying your tracking code snippet—if you don’t already know what that means, go with Google Analytics Dashboard.

You can also see the most important website analytics every time you login to WordPress, so you can take a quick look without making a special trip to Google Analytics.

Setup Tip

If you’re anything like me, you’re always testing your site and loading the same page dozens of times to get it just right. So you don’t skew your own analytics with these pageviews, you should exclude administrator traffic. 

Go to Google Analytics > Tracking Code > Exclude Tracking, then check the boxes for any users you’d rather not show up in your analytics.

This way, the analytics you see will be your real customers.

5. Pixel Caffeine

Google Analytics has been around forever. The new kid on the block is the Facebook Pixel, a similar offering from Facebook.

Why do you need both? It’s always great to have multiple data sources so you can compare notes and see if anything looks inaccurate. But more importantly, Facebook advertising is highly effective (and cheap) for many businesses, and the Facebook Pixel opens up options to get more out of your ads.

Even if you don’t plan to advertise on Facebook, adding the Pixel to your site is still a good idea for the additional analytics and insights about your audience.

Click here for Facebook’s official, straightforward instructions to create your Pixel.

Once your Pixel is set up, install the Pixel Caffeine plugin to add it to your WordPress website.

Just like Google Analytics Dashboard, Pixel Caffeine makes it very easy to add the Facebook Pixel to every page.

And as you’ve come to expect from the last few plugins, you can just set it up once and forget about it, even as you create new pages and posts on your website.

Pixel Caffeine is the best option because of how easy it is for any user to get their Pixel up and running. It just works. And it’s a free tool developed by AdEspresso, the Facebook advertising arm of Hootsuite, one of the best social media marketing platforms—so you know it’s going to work.

6. MailChimp

If you don’t already use MailChimp, it’s a great place to start for your email marketing. You get 12,000 monthly emails and 2,000 subscribers for free, which is plenty for businesses just getting started with their email lists.

You should definitely be collecting email addresses on your website. It’s a huge missed opportunity to let your viewers leave your site without securing a way (their email address!) to bring them back to your site again.

Use MailChimp for WordPress to add an email signup form with just a few clicks.

mailchimp-for-wordpress-fields

The plugin works well with your MailChimp account, so there’s no confusion as you set up what list to subscribe users to and any other fields (like name) you want to capture.

Setup Tip

One drawback of this plugin is that you only get one form in the free version.

But you can set up a form and then include it in multiple places on your website, like on your homepage, contact page, sidebar, and wherever else you think users will be likely to sign up.

7. Popup Maker

If you want a simple, feature-rich plugin to add popups to your site, go with Popup Maker.

Popup plugins are among the worst for making you realize an hour after you start tinkering that you actually need the premium version.

We used Popup Maker to set up our email capture (why not give it a try?).

Popup Maker has everything you need to set up all kinds of popups. After setting up MailChimp for WordPress, embed your signup form in a popup and your website becomes a lead-generating machine.

Setup Tip

Popup Maker includes several decent-looking themes, but make sure you take time to customize them to match your site colors and fonts. You don’t want your popup to look like out of place spam!

8. UpdraftPlus

You’ve probably had several “computer catastrophes” by now, like hard drives crashing and viruses. These incidents can seriously hurt your productivity and cause major setbacks.

UpdraftPlus is a free plugin that helps you avoid time-wasting (and money-losing) website catastrophes.

Set it up to automatically make regular backups of your site, store the backups in a place of your choosing, and then sleep easier knowing you can recover from a website glitch or hacker in minutes, not days.

There are over a dozen options for where to store your backups, and one will definitely suit your needs. We recommend taking daily backups and retaining at least 10 so you have a little over a week to catch any issues with your site and restore a backup if necessary.

9. Really Simple SSL

SSL, or secure socket layer, creates a secure connection between your website and users so hackers can’t compromise their browsing. You may have also heard of this as “HTTPS”.

You might think you don’t need SSL if you aren’t selling anything or collecting sensitive data on your website, but think again.

In October 2017, Google Chrome started marking websites without SSL as “not secure”, which makes users nervous about using your website.

Since the fix is so easy, there’s no reason not to maintain your users’ confidence by setting up SSL.

Start by installing Really Simple SSL, which implements this important security measure on your site in just a few clicks.

There are several options for free SSL certificates that work just fine for most websites. Our favorite is Comodo Free SSL Certificates, a service from one of the most trusted SSL providers.

You might need some technical help to get your certificate—Comodo also has simple instructions if you want to give it a shot yourself.

Then once you have the certificate, set it up with Really Simple SSL to bring your users the security they deserve.

10. Ultimate Social Icons

The WordPress plugins directory is flooded with options for social media sharing. This makes sense because it’s one of the most important features your website can have. Who doesn’t want free advertising?

We recommend Ultimate Social Icons because it includes every platform you could want, many different button styles so they look great with your site, and plenty of options for how and where to display the icons.

Those are just a few of the 16 options for icons that come with this versatile plugin.

Many of the other options are “clunky” plugins, meaning they have tons of unnecessary extra code that slows down your site. Or they’re harder to set up or come with fewer free options.

11. Shortcodes Ultimate

If you have a solid paid WordPress theme, your WordPress might already be loaded with custom visual components (like image slideshows or fancy list displays).

Shortcodes Ultimate is still worth a mention as most WordPress sites could benefit from the plugin’s visual components. Laying out your content in the cleanest, simplest way possible is important to drive a positive impression with your customers.

This plugin includes more than 50 “shortcodes” that are easy to use in posts, pages, and other content areas across your site.

Take a look through the list of included shortcodes and see if any of them could improve your site appearance.

12. The Events Calendar

This may not be relevant for every website, but this phenomenal free plugin deserves a mention on our list.

The Events Calendar is by far the best free plugin to—as the name suggests—keep your site updated with upcoming events.

It’s very easy to add events, the calendar looks great right away, and the free version comes with tons of features.

Maybe dates are irrelevant for your particular business, but The Events Calendar is definitely the way to go if your website needs a calendar.

13. Google PageSpeed Insights

The next few plugins are related to your website performance, so you can give your viewers a blazing fast browsing experience.

Years ago, Google started considering website loading time (“pagespeed”) as one of their ranking factors. They have continually increased the impact of pagespeed, especially recently as mobile browsing has increased in popularity.

Pagespeed is important to Google because it is important to your users—every second it takes your site to load can decrease your conversions by 7%, and 40% of users won’t wait around if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Google has your back to help you speed up your website. They have a tool called PageSpeed Insights that you can use to identify opportunities to decrease loading time for specific pages on your site.

But there’s an even easier way. The Google PageSpeed Insights plugin automatically tests every page on your website so it’s easy to find pages with particularly big issues.

pagespeed-insights-example

For each page, you can see the issues that are hurting your score and how to resolve the issues.

The next few plugins will help you increase your PageSpeed score, decrease your website loading time, and offer your users a buttery smooth browsing experience.

14. EWWW Image Optimizer

One of the easiest ways to decrease your website loading time is to use images with a smaller file size. You can decrease the file size of most images without any noticeable impact on image quality.

Many websites have hundreds or thousands of images, so fixing them manually would take forever. EWWW Image Optimizer will take care of this for you automatically.

This plugin will compress files behind-the-scenes as you upload them so you never have to worry about image file size again. And EWWW comes with a “bulk optimizer” so you can compress the images you uploaded to your site before setting up this plugin.

There are several other widely used image optimization plugins, like Smush and ShortPixel. As I tested all the options, I noticed EWWW has the best features and effectiveness without shelling out cash for the premium versions, which all the plugins offer.

15. Cloudflare

This plugin is a gift for pushing your website performance to the next level.

Cloudflare is a content delivery network and website optimization tool. Let’s break that down:

Content delivery network

Right now, your website is probably hosted on one server, wherever your hosting company is located. For this example, I’ll say your hosting company is in Texas.

Your website will load faster for users accessing it from Texas than for users from Ohio, Maine, or France. As users get further away from the server, your website will take longer to load.

Most hosting companies do not offer an option for where to host your site. So even if you’re a local restaurant in Ohio, your website might be hosted in California. That’s inefficient, and it’s also an unnecessary delay for your customers.

A content delivery network automatically hosts your site on multiple servers around the world. While you only update the one site as you always have, the changes are pushed to all these servers so users can connect to the server closest to them.

cloudflare-map

This alone can deliver drastic speed improvements.

Website optimizations

I’m not going to go too far into this so as to keep the post on-topic. Basically, there are a number of behind-the-scenes methods like caching and code “minifying” that speed up your site.

It’s hard to explain these concepts without going into the technical background. What you need to know is they are very important for your website loading time, and they have the highest impact on your Google PageSpeed score.

Fortunately, you don’t need any technical background here. Cloudflare takes care of these optimizations automatically.

Why Cloudflare?

We recommend Cloudflare over other similar offerings because it’s reliable, easy to use, and the free version is adequate for most websites. If you get thousands of visitors per day, you probably need one of their paid plans, but the pricing is very reasonable for the enormous benefits.

The Cloudflare plugin makes it easy to get started. You probably don’t even need a website developer to help set it up, but the installation process does involve changing your domain name’s DNS settings.

This is easy to do with popular domain companies like GoDaddy, so it’s up to you whether you handle this step yourself or ask an IT professional for help.

Avoid These Popular Plugins

We recommend steering clear of these widely used WordPress plugins, as they cause more harm than good and there are many better options.

Jetpack

This plugin is one of the most popular, which isn’t too surprising as it’s developed by Automattic, the creators of WordPress itself.

Jetpack has plenty of drawbacks and we recommend using (superior) alternatives. Jetpack bills itself as multi-use plugin with tons of important features, which is true.

Frankly, it screws up your site. Jetpack is a very “clunky” plugin that will decrease your site performance. It causes issues with many WordPress themes and many other plugins, so you might spend hours troubleshooting an issue only to find uninstalling Jetpack was the one-second solution.

For all the features you get with Jetpack, there are better options. Here are a few examples:

  • Site stats and analytics – use Google Analytics instead
  • Brute force attack protection – this feature is included with Cloudflare
  • Email subscriptions – MailChimp for WordPress does just fine
  • Contact forms – Ninja Forms is far superior

I could go on. For some of the Jetpack features not covered in this post, simply search the feature in the plugins list and you’ll certainly find a better option.

Sumo

As one of the most popular social media marketing services, this might come as a surprise.

It’s a shame, since Sumo has a lot of great free features to improve your digital marketing. But the Sumo WordPress plugin is really bad.

We actually used to have Sumo on this website. When I removed it, the website started loading 1-2 seconds faster. That’s a big difference.

The benefits of the plugin’s social sharing features are offset by all the visitors who leave your site since it’s so freaking slow.

MailChimp for WordPress, Popup Maker, and Ultimate Social Icons achieve the same goal without sending your site to the stone age. The extra effort is worth it!

Improve Your WordPress Site With These Plugins

Any of these plugins will go a long way—and all of them will make your website a superstar.

To recap, here are all the features you get with these free plugins:

  • SEO enhancements
  • Robust contact forms
  • Spam prevention
  • Detailed traffic analytics
  • Better Facebook advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Dynamic popups
  • Automated backups
  • Secured website
  • Social sharing
  • Simple events calendar
  • Automated page speed monitoring
  • Image compression
  • Lightning fast website speed

Not bad for free!

We love WordPress for this reason—you’d have to pay a fortune or spend hundreds of hours to get all these features anywhere else. This enables website design companies like us to offer more affordable prices, since we’re equipped with so many tools to give you the site you want. 

If you have any questions about these plugins or anything else about your WordPress site, drop us a line and let us know how we can help.

advertise-small-business-on-budget

12 Thrifty Ways To Advertise A Small Business On A Budget

By | Social Media | 2 Comments

Know you need to get the word out about your business but on a tight budget? We get it. And you’re not out of luck if advertising money is hard to come by.

While marketing your business will be more difficult with little to no money, it’s 100% doable to attract a new audience that will push your business to the next level.

In fact, this predicament can be used to your company’s advantage if you’re smart and hard working enough.

There’s power in a company having a chip on its shoulder knowing it doesn’t have extra money to throw around for marketing. You’re going into an uphill battle, so it’s put up or shut up time. This often gets the most out of people.

Plus, what’s the alternative? Are you going to not advertise or market your business? Good luck with that strategy. It’ll end in disaster and missed expectations quarter after quarter.

Stop that. Do grow your business with the savvy, inexpensive marketing strategies below.

Ways To Bootstrap Your Marketing On A Budget

1. Email marketing

If you’re a regular reader of the Illumen Insider Blog, this is about the fifth time in a month that we’ve ranted about email marketing. But we do that for a reason.

This is such a simple and effective outlet to bring in new revenue—not to mention it’s free!

This strategy boils down to collecting email addresses, nurturing the leads with weekly emails that provide value, and then selling to them around once a month to grow your business.

How you do it is up to you, whether you add it into your e-commerce checkout process, add email capture pop ups to your website, incentivize customers giving their emails for in-store credit, or other creative ways, it’s a sound business practice to follow up with interested consumers.

If you’re new here and haven’t seen the bush beaten about email marketing, read this, this, and this data article. Then follow through to build and contact your email your list so your business revenue takes off.

2. Publish videos

The blogging tactic is great but—hands down—if executed well, videos are more likely to go viral and cash in for your brand than any other form of content.

Videos break through the “get to know your brand” wall by presenting your company’s personality, voice, and message all in one easy to consume medium.

What could you do a video on? Its focus could be on how to use your product for maximum results, an entertaining video to get people excited about your brand, a founder’s story, a history of your company, thanking your current customers, and a host of other countless ideas.

To get a feel for a business video done well, check this out.

Once the video is produced, publish it on your website, a blog post, social media profiles, and email it to your list. If you can get this video done for free with in-house equipment, it will be an even bigger marketing win.

3. Improve website for SEO

Do you realize that a few tweaks to your website can bring in many more page views (and paying customers)? This is a fact. And your business should get on this.

The simple premise is there are tips and tricks to add to your website that will tip off Google that your company is about this subject, in a certain location, and people searching for what you sell should be sent to your page.

A website optimized for search engines has a full grasp on:

  • Keywords
  • Headings
  • Meta tags
  • Image titles and alt tags
  • Header and footer information
  • External links
  • Being mobile optimized
  • Fast website speed
  • Valuable content

If you don’t understand any of this then first read this Backlinko guide for on site SEO.

And blogging is a complimentary growth hack for optimizing your site for search engines.

4. Blogging

The beauty of blogging is that your company always wins the leverage game. What I mean is when you put out high quality content on the internet, qualified leads are going to search for information and visit your site.

This type of inbound marketing is powerful since the visitor is in need of something—information or looking to buy—and landing on your site they subconsciously recognize you’re offering the exact thing they want. The psychology behind this, and the fact you’re not trying to hunt their business down with an advertisement, significantly improves the odds you get a sale.

For example, consider this data:

  • Content marketing (blogging) costs 62% less than traditional marketing and returns about 3 times as many business leads – Demand Metric
  • 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI from their inbound marketing – HubSpot
  • Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders – Marketeer

This advice comes from a hardcore blogger, and I’m only hardcore given the incredible results of putting out blog content. Any company looking for more leads, brand awareness, and industry authority must blog.

5. Fresh Facebook content

Facebook isn’t going anywhere. It’s by no means the trendiest social media platform, but its reach is and will always be top notch.

That’s precisely why the more Facebook posts your company publishes means more chances your audience will like, comment, or share your content and introduce your brand to their friends.

You need to be consistently posting at least once a day and probably more now that organic reach is getting destroyed.

To combat the organic reach decline, consider throwing a $100 or more behind an ad to see if it gets any traction. Sometimes that is enough to get more people to see it and then they’ll share it to their friends, which gives you free reach.

Sorry to break it to you, but you have to experiment and put effort into social media to stay relevant in today’s marketplace. The next two thrifty marketing tactics are under the same umbrella.

6. Daily Instagram posts

B2C companies not on Instagram in 2017 have already been and will continue to miss out on growing their brand. Don’t get me started with how foolish it is to not be on this platform if your company’s target audience is millennials.

Publish a picture or video post once a day and then take the following steps below to grow your account: create a content plan for the next 30 days so it’s easy to know what to post daily, comment 30 relevant and local hashtags to every one of your posts, get shoutouts from Instagram influencers, like and comment on other Instagram profiles, and consider running a giveaway to grow your following.

Then link to your business website in your profile and you’ll get people clicking to your website to learn more.

While it may be less beneficial for B2B companies, it certainly can’t hurt.

Fun fact: The best time to post to Instagram is 8 AM to 9 AM.

7. Frequent Twitter activity

free-twitter-marketing

JetBlue is all in on Twitter marketing to the point where they respond to every single question tweeted to them.

Twitter is another free option to advertise your business. Post insightful, educational, or inspirational content around your business and people will start to follow and pay attention to your brand.

If you decide to produce content on your website, Twitter might be the best outlet to share it and get others on your website.

Keep in mind that Twitter also rules when it comes to customer service for your business.

Here are convincing stats from a Twitter blog post we published this summer about why Twitter matters:

  • 54% of Twitter users took action after seeing a brand mentioned on Twitter
  • 76% of consumers are likely to refer a company after positive customer service
  • 60% of customers expect brands to get back to them within 1 hour
  • 80% of users mentioned a company in their tweet

Spreading your brand and serving your customers better all in one place? That’s a winner.

8. Call previous customers

What’s the best part about previous customers? They’ve already decided to take their business to you in the past.

This inherently means your company has two very important benefits going for it, assuming the experience went well, with a previous customer: you’ve earned enough of their trust and they’re already aware of you.

Most companies don’t capitalize on their past customers and leave a goldmine of dollars untouched right under their nose. That’s not going to be your business anymore.

You’re going to get someone on your staff to call every single past customer that’s bought the most expensive to the least expensive item. Whether you speak to them directly or leave a message, the key point is to mention an offer they might be interested in and encourage them to come back with their business in the most polite way possible.

Dialing like this is an easy and free option to bring in a rush of new business.

9. Send a letter in the mail to customers

Maybe you don’t have phone numbers of previous customers (that’s not smart but let’s say you don’t collect them) though you do have their address.

Design a creative direct mailer with a special offer for them who bring this mailer at the time of purchase. You can make it postcard size and don’t have to get a special 3-D effect to cut costs.

A restaurant can advertise people who come in with this card get a free appetizer—and then make money when they bring others and buy their main entrees. A nail salon can advertise a special around a certain holiday or season for past customers. You get the point.

Not only will this translate to immediate sales, it will also boost your brand awareness and lead to future sales.

Plus, with everything going digital nowadays, sometimes it’s powerful to switch it up and use an old form of marketing like mail.

(This is probably the most expensive option on this list and it’s far cheaper than any TV, radio, or billboard ad.)

10. Incentivize customers to market your business

How does this sound, you incentivize your customers enough that they go about their day marketing your business for you?

It’s totally possible and your business should start doing it because it works.

For example, for one of our Illumen Media chiropractor clients, we designed a referral card for patients to hand out to other people they know. The way this works is current patients who refer a new patient are gifted with the new patient special price for their next visit.

And the chiropractor loves it because he only needed to spend $20 getting the cards printed but he’s getting loads of new business walking through his door with a salesforce not on his payroll (his patients).

What can you incentivize your current customers with to tell their friends, family, and colleagues? Come up with a good answer and then follow through with this because it can change the entire health of your business.

11. Run a giveaway

If you’re not used to spending money on advertising or marketing, this won’t be your favorite option on the list. But a giveaway could generate the most new leads and sales if you do it the right way.

A giveaway executed correctly will get your brand in front of thousands of new customers, collect their emails, and give the brand an opportunity to reach out to them for future buying asks.

The way you communicate your giveaway (social media post, video, a blog post on your website) and the qualifying rules are up to you (people commenting on a social media post, entering their email, or sharing your video, for example).

But I stand by the fact your business has some extra inventory, software, or gift that you can give away and it won’t cost much at all. Or buy the perfect gift that only people in your target audience will appreciate most.

Giving away money upfront to make more money on the backend works well for all types of businesses. This strategy won’t fail yours.

Related: 10 Creative Facebook Giveaways To Jumpstart New Business

12. Build your Google listing reviews

(If your business doesn’t have a Google listing, you should totally create or claim one here. It’s an easy process.)

Once that’s up and populated with the right information, it’s all about getting positive reviews to fill that listing.

You know why? The more positive reviews you have plays a factor in Google’s algorithm of what companies show up when a local types in “(insert what your company does) (insert your city)”.

That fact along with the data from BrightLocal presents convincing arguments to pursue getting more Google reviews:

  • 84% of people give online reviews the same importance as personal recommendations
  • 58% of customers feel the star rating of a business is the most important
  • 70% of consumers will review a business when asked
  • 9 out of 10 people will read 10 reviews or less before reaching an opinion about a business

The key data point here is if you ask your customers for reviews, they will leave them. Then your business will rank higher in local Google searches. And you’ll have a steady stream of new business coming to you, without having to dip into your marketing budget

This reputation upgrade and marketing opportunity is simply too good to pass up.

Thrifty Advertising Wrap Up

Businesses have single-handedly been built on the back of free or inexpensive marketing. Given that fact, you have to be fired up and think, “Why not us?”

The only thing stopping you from getting your products or services in front of more consumers is good old fashioned hustle.

If you want it badly enough and put in the work required, it’s inevitable you’re going to succeed.

Small businesses who fail either don’t know how to market themselves—that’s not an excuse after reading this—are lazy, or are impatient.

Commit your company and yourself to the thrifty advertising hustle until it produces enough cash flow that you can reinvest into paid marketing.

Your business will boom when get the most out of both free and paid advertising. For now, just focus on gaining momentum as cheaply as possible.

What’s a thrifty way a small business can advertise that’s not mentioned in this article?

email-marketing-stats

40 Unbelievable Email Marketing Stats Prove It’s Thriving Into 2018

By | Email Marketing, Trends | No Comments

The first email was sent in 1971. There must be newer technology since then to help businesses communicate better and sell more to their audience, right? Not so fast.

Ever heard the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? That describes email marketing perfectly.

Because it’s a workhorse at building customer relationships, establishing trust, education, and then selling to consumers.

Email marketing is like that old American muscle truck—regardless of age, miles, and rust, it continues to deliver in the clutch day after day.

Let me ask you this. Is your business collecting emails from customers? Are there email captures on your website? And are you actively sending personalized emails to your audience at least once a week?

Any company that’s not doing what I listed above has a major hole in their marketing strategy and their overall business plan.

From analyzing the email marketing stats below, it’s obvious that there are hundreds of thousands of dollars to be made from this.

40 Stats Show The Power Of Email Marketing

After reading this data, you won’t question the power of email marketing when it comes to growing your business. It’s a 100%, no doubt about it, no-brainer for every business.

1. Every $1 spent on email marketing produces $44 in return

This stat is probably the most convincing to business owners not using email marketing. Put $1,000 into emails and get a ROI of $44,000. Put in $10,000, get out $440,000. Put in $100,000, produce $4,440,000. It’s easy money!

2. 58% of adults wake up and immediately check their email

What better than your business being top of mind to start the day? A simple early morning email can plant the seed for your customers to buy from you later in the day. And imagine the power a breakfast or lunch joint has to get their customers craving their food before they’re out of bed.

3. Sending welcome emails to subscribers increases engagement by 33%

Thinking once a subscriber joins your list then you can just email them in the same cadence as the rest of your email list? You thought wrong. An introductory welcome message sharing what your company is about, what kind of emails they can expect, and maybe a generous offer will keep this subscriber interacting with your company.

4. Welcome emails generate 320% more revenue than regular emails

Another strong welcome email statistic proves this is not just about engagement—real dollars come from this savvy move. So link to your product page in the middle of the welcome email, and stats show your new email subscriber is three times more likely to buy from you.

5. 59% of B2B marketers report email is their best revenue-generating channel

Professional B2B marketers across the board know the hand that feeds them, it’s called email. However, marketers aren’t business owners, and these owners don’t capitalize on it to their own detriment. If you own a business, it pays to step into the light on this.

6. Email is 40 times better at converting people than Facebook and Twitter

Social media is the big buzz today—as it should be for its unique marketing powers—but once a customer is on your email list you’re far more likely to get them to buy than these two social platforms. If I had to bet, it’s because when they read your email it’s the only thing on their screen compared to scattered social media feeds with text, pictures, and videos in every which way.

7. US marketers found email had a median ROI of 122%, which is more than four times higher than paid search, social media, and direct mail

Paid search, social media, and direct mail are all effective marketing methods by all means. Though they may be most effective at driving consumers to join your email list based on this stat. Email more than pays for itself!

8. More people read their email on mobile than desktop

If email were dying, it wouldn’t have evolved so well to mobile phones, but it has. More emails are read—54% of total—on mobile devices now than desktop computers and web-based email programs. Also keep this mobile stat in mind while designing your email campaigns. The formatting needs to be responsive for all devices.

9. 72.9% of 18-24 year olds say they use their smartphones to check email

Have a brand that’s targeting young adults? If you put in the work to get them on your email list, they will read your emails during the day. The harder part is marketing to them to join your email list.

10. Just 7% of small and medium-size businesses use email for brand building

The opportunity is there to build your brand through email marketing. While your competition is always going right to sell, your business can go left to build your brand. Send educational, entertaining, or provocative emails to boost brand awareness. Then you’ll have an audience ready to buy when you eventually ask for a sale.

11. Businesses are 6 times more likely to get a click-through from an email than a tweet

Twitter is excellent as a customer service and brand awareness tool for businesses. But when it comes to business results like getting consumers to your website where they can order from you, email dominates Twitter.

12. 80% of professional retailers say email marketing is their best method for customer retention

If 4 out of 5 pros come to a consensus, that supermajority can’t be too far off about email’s effectiveness in building customer retention. Do it yourself and you’ll see the results speak for themselves and fatten up your company bank account.

13. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than leads that aren’t nurtured

You might make more short-term profits going for the sale right away, but in the long haul it’s far more profitable to first provide some value to your leads. Businesses who are patient and in it for the long game will 100% win.

14. 42.3% of Americans say they sign up for email lists to get discounts and savings

Want to please your audience? Send them discounts every once in awhile for being a loyal subscriber. What’s even smarter is to incentivize people to sign up for your newsletter on your website and in the store by promoting the fact email subscribers receive exclusive promotions.

15. Consumers who buy products marketed through email, spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers

Who knows why, but email’s super power is getting consumers to spend more than they normally would have. That’s reason 15 to add this asset to your marketing approach or be a fool.

16. Plain text emails produce the highest open rate

We always stress this point to our clients at Illumen Media. Because what kind of email do you send your family, friends, and co-workers? A plain text email. Fancy formatting gets in the way of itself when it comes to open rates and business results.

17. 20.9% of people check their email more than 5 times per day

It’s pretty promising that one fifth of email users are guaranteed to see your email the day it’s sent based on their high frequency to check their inbox. And for these people, that’s five opportunities to read and engage with your email.

18. Emails with videos receive 96% higher click-through rates than emails without them

This one doesn’t surprise me since I’m super high on video and its ability to persuade consumers to take a specific action. Video just demands attention like nothing else. Use it in your business emails and you won’t be disappointed.

19. Consumers check their mobile phone up to 150 times a day

It’s safe to bet that most people have phone notifications turned on, and when you couple that with people checking their phone 150 times a day, it’s a safe bet that the majority of your company’s emails will be read minutes from the send time. This seemingly instant access to your audience should be appreciated.

20. 49% of small businesses send emails without using email marketing data

Stop throwing up a prayer on your email campaigns just guessing what will work. Your email open rates, clicks, and sales will improve when you analyze the performance of previous campaigns and adjust. Experiment until you find email subjects, times of day, and content that works best given your list.

21. Ecommerce companies who send multiple emails to abandoned cart consumers are 2.4 times as likely to get the sale than if they send one follow up email

You’ve put in the work or paid to get a consumer to your cart page, why give up on them and their abandoned cart? Don’t, instead send them a few automated follow up emails to give them the little push they need to buy what they almost did earlier.

22. 20% of shoppers convert if the company reminds them within an hour regarding their abandoned carts

This execution is more technical, but if you can set up an automated email that sends the abandoned cart to the consumer then you’ll receive 20% more purchases right then and there. It pays to be smart and use automation!

23. Most people prefer to promotional content through email over social media

Give the people what they want: content marketing to their inbox, not their social media news feed. This three-step process works: build up an audience on social media, get then to subscribe, send them promotional content.

24. 27.1% say they prefer to receive marketing emails “once a week”

I’d say the sweet spot in email marketing is sending one every one to two weeks. If it’s more frequent you’re going to hurt open and click rates. Personally, I aim to send one a week to stay top of mind.

25. Sales emails have 8 times more opens and clicks, and can produce 6 times more money, than other types of email

Let’s break this down because it can get tricky. Sales emails are bomb, when done right and spread out between valuable content. Go for the sale every email and you’ll get killed. But do it right, and there’s a large payday to be made.

26. 34.5% of people will unsubscribe from marketing emails they opted into

This number goes to show how many people are quick to opt out when emails get too salesy and away from what they signed up for. Keep your emails full of value and limit the aggressive marketing for special occasions only.

27. B2C companies using email marketing automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%

Small business owners are limited on payroll budget and often do email marketing themselves. But that’s a mistake when you can pay for email marketing automation and watch your sales skyrocket!

28. There will be 2.9 billion email users worldwide in 2019

Who knows how many users Facebook will have in 2019, but email will be right there with it in 2019. The point is your customers are on email and still actively using it. Businesses that use email as a marketing and sales weapon from now through 2019 are going to reap what they sow.

29. Employees spend an average of 13 working hours each week in their email inbox

B2B and B2C companies should salivate at this opportunity to reach workers during the work day. This proves you can still get people’s attention even if they’re at work. And let’s hope your employees aren’t wasting much time in their inbox during work hours.

30. People can multi-task while reading email—79% check on vacation, 69% check while watching TV, and 59% check in bed

People carry their phones everywhere nowadays, which means they also carry their inbox everywhere. Your company can take advantage of their multi-tasking by popping in their inbox at any time—just make sure it captures their attention to be worthy of their multi-tasking.

31. More than 86% of businesses say they plan to increase their email marketing budgets

This is good news and bad news: Companies are starting to get that email marketing works. They’re going to double down in efforts to grow their business. Are you?

32. 73% of millennials prefer to be contacted by brands through email

Whether your business specifically targets millennials or not, it’s a positive sign that email is preferred over other platforms. These young adults go to social media for entertainment and to escape their life for a minute, but when they open their inbox it means business.

33. 4.24% of visitors from email marketing buy something, which is more than the 2.49% of visitors from search engines and 0.59% from social media

If you feel pounded over the head with data showing email marketing produces sales more than other marketing channels, good—that’s the goal. And don’t think about that 4.24%, but think about growing your email list by the thousands so your revenue grows exponentially.

34. People spent 17% more time checking email in 2016

It can’t be a dying platform if the usage rate is only increasing. Keep sending those business emails and they will continue to be opened at a higher rate.

35. Click-through rates are 100.95% higher in segmented email campaigns than general ones

In case it’s unclear, a segmented email campaign puts an entire list campaign to shame. By tracking what page your subscribers opted into your newsletter, you’ll know the information they’re most interested in. All that’s left to do is cater it to them.

36. 41% of your customers look for new product updates and information in emails

It’s always easy to market to a consumer who knows what’s coming. With 41% of consumers looking for updates, you’d hurt their experience by not sending them product information and give them what they want when you do.

37. 89% of United States citizens check their email at least once a day

Though it’s a noisy world out there, email still breaks through people’s attention. There’s a good chance your email is seen, at least, given almost everyone in the US checks their email daily.

38. Email subscribers are 3 times more likely to share content on social media than visitors from other sources

You’d think emails weakness is it’s lack of viral ability since the communication is one to one. Apparently subscribers are able and ready to share content that comes to their inbox. A smart marketer will integrate their social media campaigns with email to maximize their reach.

39. Increasing their email marketing engagement rate is a top priority for 54% of marketers

It’s all about engagement because without it your emails don’t get opened, read, or clicked through to a website link. Plus, if you do invest in higher engagement, you’re getting a leg up on the 46% of businesses who aren’t focused on their email list engagement.

40. Messages are 5 times more likely to be seen in email than Facebook

Facebook is hectic. There are videos, pictures, political rants, drama-filled posts from friends, and ads all over the place. Email is nice and clean, it’s no wonder your message is better received there.

Grow Your Business With Email Marketing

Look, I wouldn’t advise you to focus on email marketing if the data out there disagreed with me. An abundance of stats prove it works so you have no excuse now not to make this a staple of your company’s marketing efforts.

Improve your website with email capture forms to quickly build a subscriber list. Possibly add an email capturing pop up form that appears the second visitors open a website page or are about to exit your website. And start collecting emails as part of the customer check out experience when they buy from you.

Over the next few months you’ll grow an email list of interested prospects and customers who want to stay updated with your business, special promotions, and other offers.

That’s how you grow your business through email marketing!

And if its effectiveness does eventually die down the road, you won’t sweat it because you’ll remember how much money your business made from this platform now, in 2018, and beyond.

But there’s no signs of email becoming obsolete. So let’s cross that bridge if it comes and invest in email marketing today.

Related: Why You’re Crazy If You Don’t Use Email Marketing

holiday-marketing

Holiday Marketing: Don’t Miss Out On Your Best Sales Season

By | Social Media | No Comments

Looking for holiday marketing ideas that will work in 2017? You’re in the right place. Don’t make a mistake by missing out on the consumer frenzy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

If you search “holiday marketing” on Google, you’ll find content about campaigns that have been successful, and brief, textbook marketing advice about what you should be doing.

I’ll be honest—I’m not impressed. These suggestions mostly appeal to national brands, but no one seems interested in helping small and medium businesses get in the game.

That’s where this post comes in. I want to bring you up to speed with the superior digital marketing strategies that are generally only used by retail giants.

The holiday season in November and December can yield your best sales of the year. Your business can and should be a contender just like national brands spending millions of dollars on marketing every month.

Holiday marketing matters. You’ll probably get a sales boost regardless, but with so much more advertising taking place every year, you have to work harder to avoid getting washed out by all the other noise.

A great roundup post on holiday marketing campaigns shares the following about seasonal trends:

  • Retailers can expect a 59% increase in customers
  • Email frequency to subscribers increases by 50%
  • Last year, consumers spent $1.2 billion on Black Friday—just on mobile devices!

You’d be nuts not to take advantage of this season when wallets fly open.

The benefits of holiday marketing aren’t just for retailers selling products—there is a huge opportunity to grow for restaurants and other entertainment businesses too.

You can benefit from these holiday marketing strategies whether you’re a retailer, restaurant, accountant, or pool installation company. The holiday season is primetime for getting people to buy whatever you’re selling.

Use Digital Marketing To Dominate This Holiday Season

Start Promoting Now

November is when 59% of shoppers say they’d like to start seeing holiday advertisements. So in theory, you should start planning your holiday marketing campaigns in September or October.

Let’s be realistic—if you’re a small business, you probably don’t have the time to be that rigorous and plan that far in advance.

I’m writing this post to give you some tangible steps you can take right now. Of course it’s always ideal to plan earlier and earlier.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re hitting your audience hard with Black Friday promotions and then keep at it throughout the holiday season.

Every business amps up their marketing during the holiday season, so what will give your business an edge? Use the following strategies and I promise your business will have a bell-jingling sales season.

Promote On Every Channel—Especially Less Common Ones

Your business has different ideal channels based on your industry and size. To drive explosive sales, hit all your usual channels hard.

Post more frequently than you normally would on Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and so on.

And if you aren’t using all the best marketing channels for your business, you can either give it a shot or make a strategic decision to wait until next year. Just make sure you start building your following in January!

In order to get any attention during all the holiday noise, you have to make a lot of noise as well.

You might be afraid of being annoying or saturating your customers with too much content, but that’s a better problem to have than not hitting them with enough.

Business owners tell me every day they wish more people knew about their brand, or their customers want them to post more information online. It’s rare that I hear complaints of posting too much.

Since 1 in 5 gift purchases are based on impulse, promote your products everywhere to capitalize on these impulsive purchases.

Keep in mind Facebook organic reach is as low as 2%, so if you don’t already run paid advertisements online, the holiday season is a great time to start. Since people are spending more money than usual, it’s even more likely you’ll get a great ROI.

I named six of the most prevalent platforms before, but don’t neglect less common platforms. Your competition is probably neglecting them, creating a real opportunity for you to stand out.

Depending on your industry, consider whether advertising on Reddit, Quora, Waze, local news sites, and other more obscure channels might be worth it. If you want help charting a course for your specific business, schedule a free consultation and we’d be happy to talk you through it.

Give your website a facelift to feature your best holiday promotions. Create a “holiday promotions” page, add a few slider images and call-to-action buttons, and make sure a website visitor couldn’t possibly miss your holiday deals.

And don’t forget the power of email marketing, still the most effective digital advertising channel in terms of converting campaigns to sales.

Once you’re pushing your holiday promotions on all the right channels, you need to take your digital marketing to the next level to stand out.

Use Remarketing To Skyrocket Your Conversion Rates

If you’re not already familiar with remarketing, the holiday season is a great time to enjoy its massive benefits. You can expect your conversion rates to increase drastically.

Remarketing enables you to increase the value and effectiveness of your marketing efforts by targeting the same individuals across multiple channels.

You know how Facebook creeps you out all the time by showing you ads related to websites you recently visited? That’s remarketing—so let’s make your business a bit creepier AND more profitable!

Set up the Facebook Pixel on your website. Make sure you fully integrate the Pixel across all relevant pages, especially your cart and checkout pages.

If you’re technical or work with a company, you can further integrate the Facebook Pixel with an e-commerce site, reservation system, or whatever you sell on your website. Capturing this data about what specific individuals do on your site is tremendously valuable.

Use Google AdWords Remarketing to get more out of your AdWords spend. Per Google, one advertiser used dynamic remarketing to get 30-40% more revenue during the holiday season.

There I go with the fancy marketing terms. “Dynamic remarketing” is promoting specific products or services your website visitors learned about on your site.

For example, if you run a home goods store and sell a wide variety of products, targeting me with a general ad about your store isn’t going to be as effective as possible.

And if I was checking out plants on your website, advertising bedding to me isn’t going to be extremely relevant.

But if you serve an ad to me offering 10-20% off the exact plant I spent a minute reading about, I’m going to think “wow, how convenient” and click through to buy that plant.

Google, Facebook, and other advertising platforms arm you with the tools to score an unbelievable ROI with the right campaigns.

It’s great to have remarketing trackers running on your website year-round, but even if you’re just now hearing about this, you can still use it to make a big difference with your sales.

If your company is big enough to justify the expense and robust effort, consider a comprehensive platform like HubSpot Marketing to take this effort up a notch.

Turn Abandoned Carts Into A Gold Mine

More than two-thirds of online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is made. Talk about a disappointing stat for Santa!

You can use the same remarketing tactics we just discussed to serve highly targeted ads to customers who were just a few clicks away from completing the purchase process.

Just think about it—who’s more likely to buy a given product, someone who added it to their cart and left or someone just learning about it for the first time?

People leave online carts all the time, and it’s not just because they changed their minds. With the prevalence of mobile browsing and constant notifications, you shouldn’t be surprised people get distracted.

It’s great to tie in email marketing with your abandoned cart campaigns in addition to Facebook and Google remarketing. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp offer features to make it simple to integrate email campaigns with your website e-commerce system.

You only have so much money to invest in online advertisements, so you should spend this budget with the most effective that will result in the highest ROI. And abandoned cart advertising is among the best uses of your digital ad budget.

Use Data

Let’s turn on our left brains for a moment—you should put yourself in a position to use data to make great holiday marketing decisions this year and beyond.

Installing the Facebook Pixel (mentioned above) on your website is a great start. You should also make sure you set up Google Analytics.

All the big advertising platforms offer conversion tracking features, which don’t cost extra on top of the ads you’re already buying. You’d be crazy not to use these features that arm you with information to improve your ads over time.

Here’s an excellent video from Google about conversion tracking in AdWords.

Make sure you use an email platform that tracks a ton of data like open rates and click-through rates.

Most of the major platforms offer these features, so just look into what’s available to you and then really think about what the data says. (If you have a boatload of data but you can’t make sense of it, schedule a free consultation and we’ll share our take.)

If you run a lot of paid advertisements or focus heavily on e-commerce, it’s most likely worth it to pay for a platform like LeadPages or ClickFunnels that will help you design the best landing pages in terms of ROI and track the results in detail.

With effective marketing like this, you’ll be in business for years to come. Track all this data about your holiday campaigns, then save it for next year so you can make more informed decisions.

Go Viral

Viral has become an Internet buzzword, but what does it mean? If your business gets viral attention, that’s the best marketing gift Santa could put in your stocking.

Your business or promotion is going viral if tons of people are sharing it, commenting, and giving you completely free traffic with no paid advertising spend on your part.

With greedy organic reach rates, going viral is basically the holy grail now.

Luck is a big part of it—you can’t just read a few bullet points here and go write a post in 5 minutes that will get thousands of shares for free. If that were possible, no one would ever pay for advertisements.

You can certainly strategically develop content and promotions, though, that your audience is likely to share.

In my eyes, “viral” doesn’t have to mean your website crashes from millions of hits and you get invited to appear on Ellen.

It can be as simple as running an effective giveaway that gets a ton of attention in your local market and builds great awareness for your business.

Think about what your audience is most interested in seeing on social media (other than silly arguments of course), and try all sorts of content formats to get something to stick. You can make a video, write a blog post, create an infographic, and so on.

Be Bold: Run A Shocking Promotion

I don’t want to state the obvious, but I have to get back to the marketing basics for this last point.

Your offer needs to be absolutely awesome, desirable, and memorable. And it needs to be better than what your competition is offering.

Your customers are probably in the 97% of consumers who look for deals before making a purchase.

It’s true, the Internet has turned us all into “coupon clippers!”

So give your audience a coupon worth clipping, or in other words, an offer worth clicking on. When every fourth post they’ll see on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms is a holiday advertisement throughout November and December, an awesome offer is the bare minimum you can do to grab their attention.

Customers don’t care who they’re buying from, they just want the best deal.

Whatever you sell, you might think “if I always sold at this price, I’d go out of business!”

That’s probably how you should feel about your holiday promotion. If not, the promotion isn’t bold enough.

Here’s why it’s ok: you’ll sell a lot more volume than normal and you can earn back many of these customers for additional purchases throughout the year.

It’s also great for cashflow at the end of the year or liquidating inventory of an old item you don’t intend to sell in the following year.

Restrict these promotions to a limited time to encourage your customers to buy now. This is why time-specific promotions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are so prevalent—they work!

Take advantage of market trends too—when are your customers most likely to buy? If you’re a catering company, offer a sweet deal on a special holiday buffet. If you’re a gym, sell half-off memberships to the New Year’s Resolution crowd. If you sell novelty items almost always bought specifically as gifts, run a great deal and fill stockings everywhere with your product. And so on…

Maximize Your Holiday Marketing

Speaking of shocking promotions, we’re offering packages that will send your holiday marketing efforts through the roof.

We wanted to craft a way to give business owners a customized playbook for a digital marketing booster shot. We turn around packages very quickly, so it could be just what you need to crush your competition and make this holiday season yield your best sales ever.

Most small businesses don’t use nearly any of these powerful tools in their arsenal, leaving the revenue for the giant corporations. Your product is great, so go claim your piece of the pie.

Implement these strategies and you might just be spending your next holiday season where you belong—on a beach!

business-blogging-mistakes

9 Business Blogging Mistakes That Cost Your Company Sales

By | Website | 5 Comments

Do you have a company blog that publishes content? Great. What’s not good is costing your business sales with common blogging mistakes we’re going to cover.

First off, you do deserve credit given the fact that websites with blogs get 434% more indexed pages than those business websites without one. That’s a solid win for bringing more traffic to your site.

Though don’t be too proud just yet. Because there’s a big difference between having a blog and getting every ounce out of it to improve your customer acquisition and cash flow.

The level of business production from a master blog to the regular blog on the internet is like a Tesla Model S (world’s quickest car) compared to a horse and buggy. It’s not comparable.

For example, the average blog does little to grow a business.

An excellent blog will help the marketing department raise awareness about your products and services to your ideal customer segment, relieve the customer service reps from answering questions callers can find the answers to online, position your company as an authority in the space, and—most importantly—tee up leads for your sales team to close deals.

Name something more effective at wearing multiple hats for an organization?

This is why I promise your business will grow if you avoid the following mistakes and invest in your company blog.

9 Common Mistakes On Company Blogs

Mistake 1 – There’s not a Blog page to be found.

Ok, maybe I tricked you to start this list. The first problem is that millions of companies choose not to have a Blog at all.

According to statista.com, only 36% of Fortune 500 companies had a blog in the last year. These are conglomerates with unlimited resources and who should have their act together more than a local mom and pop shop, but still choose to ignore this critical piece to their online presence. It blows my mind!

But where there’s undervalued attention, there’s a business opportunity to profit from—I see the blog in this light.

While the giants in your space are paying for online traffic, you can eat up market share through organic traffic to your website (and a mix of pay per click ads if it’s in your budget).

And if you’re already paying for Google, Facebook, or some other form of online advertising, don’t count out getting enough organic traffic that you no longer need to spend company money on paid ads. At least that should be the motivation to start publishing content to promote your B2B or B2C operation.

Mistake 2 – Inconsistent blogging makes you look like an amateur.

Stuck in a cycle of publishing a few blog posts in a row and then going six weeks without publishing a single piece of new content? That should never happen.

This mistake does more damage than you can imagine. Your website visitors will see the gaps between published dates and you’ll instantly lose credibility. Plus, this bad habit kills SEO growth since Google prioritizes blogs that consistently publish new content. And you’re costing your company sales since the less posts published equals less incoming traffic and sales.

What’s the solution? On a macro level, stop putting up with lazy blogging habits. Clearly you see the value of blogging if you started one in the first place. It’s time to commit to your business’ growth by committing to your company blog.

On a micro level, get extremely organized to help your team or yourself publish new content, every single week.

I use the content calendar Editorial Calendar to map out my articles in an organized fashion—it’s easy because all the users on your WordPress site can see what article is due when and who is responsible for writing it.

content-calendar-for-bloggingHeck, use post it notes or a Google sheet to plan your articles if you have to. Do whatever it takes to keep publishing new blog posts without skipping a beat.

Mistake 3 – Your articles are too short and don’t provide enough value.

During a busy season where you’re juggling 10 different responsibilities, it’s tempting to jot down a 250 word post and publish it.

But answer these questions: How much value can you really provide your audience in 250 words? Will you get any SEO traffic from this short of a post when the average articles on Google have 2,000+ words of content? And does that make your company look lazy? (Hints: Little to zero value, no traffic, and yes it does point toward laziness.)

Your blog posts need to drown your audience in value. Hate to break it to you, but that can’t be done in a wimpy post with 10 total sentences.

For example, a cleaning company would fail miserably if they just mentioned the name of the product and a brief summary of what customers it serves. The reader is going to finish the post with unanswered questions—then go to your competitor.

Instead, this cleaning company needs to describe the pain of not having their cleaning solution to show they understand their customer, mention the problem it solves for all office buildings, dive into the science behind it, share the cost of the service, and say how they can learn more or buy it now.

If your team or you the business owner don’t have the time to write high-quality articles, then it’s time you hire someone else or hustle during non-work hours (nights and weekends). Something needs to give if you truly want a blog that brings in more leads to your business.

Mistake 4 – There’s no email capture to collect leads.

People don’t randomly end up on your website. If they’re there, it’s for a reason like information, curiosity, or they’re ready to make a purchase.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could collect their email and follow up with them to ask for a sale later?

And what about those visitors that come from clicking an ad but then never come back again. If they don’t buy right then and there, you just spent advertising money on someone who will never visit your site again.

Don’t you wish there was a way to get them to come back and keep your brand top of mind?

Adding an email capture form that adds your customers emails to a mailing list is the solution you’re looking for. This gives you the opportunity to get in their inbox at any time—a study found 58% of adults check email right when they wake up—and after building trust you can send a sales email to reap the profits.

Not having an email capture form on your website is the equivalent of your business burning a pile of cash on the office doorstep.

Related: 5 Tactics That Will Quickly Increase Your Email List Subscribers

Mistake 5 – There’s no multimedia, just text.

Visitors expect a solid experience when they read your content. It will get really boring, really fast, if you don’t spice up your articles with images, charts, infographics, and videos.

Images, graphs, and charts are perfect for aiding the reader’s understanding—and you get an SEO boost by placing the article keyword in the image title and alt text.

Adding multimedia also has some other huge advantages to keep readers engaged on your site for longer periods of time.

For example, people love watching videos online and actually retain 95% of a video message compared to 10% from text. Plus, the average person spends 88% more time on a website with video.

Just adding some different media and colors to that otherwise black text on a white background blog will go a long way.

Mistake 6 – There are no social media sharing buttons to be found.

If a main reason to blog is to spread brand awareness, why limit the exposure of your blog? It’s stupid to, right?

That’s what business blogs with no social media sharing buttons are doing—limiting their traffic growth and the opportunity for fans to share your content with their friends.

This rookie move is the equivalent of shooting your blog in the foot or making an unforced error in sports.

Plus, you have no excuse since it’s easy to add social sharing buttons including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, for example.

The website Winning WP listed their 10 best social media plugins. Download one from that list and you’ll make it effortless for visitors to share your online content.

If you’re reading this article from a computer, you’ll recognize we follow our own advice with our share bar on the left of the screen.

Mistake 7 – There’s no effort to gain traffic through SEO practices.

Many businesses do the publish and pray approach where they write articles hoping people online search for it and find them.

The reality is there are people Google searching for the exact product or service your business offers. With a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you can influence Google to have your website show up on the first page and capture these ready-to-buy customers.

And with far greater potential than any other source of traffic, free organic search traffic has to be a focal point of any digital marketing strategy.

It doesn’t take many steps to attracting more visitors to your website with SEO. You can get started by:

  1. Choosing some long-tail keywords that apply to your business.
  2. Placing this keyword on your site in the correct places on your website.
  3. Writing valuable content that people actually want to read.

Mistake 8 – There’s no data to support the blog post’s opinions.

Who are you more likely to trust: The loud guy yelling nonsense or someone who backs up everything they say with hard evidence? Most people, and your readers, are going to side with the stats.

This logic applies to your company blog, too. While writing your article, remember opinions never hold as much weight as something backed up with data.

Adding support to your statements will always increase your credibility.

So if you can make it a habit to have a 1-2 punch of opinion then data to back it up—your blog will receive more links to it, social shares, and traffic, which accomplishes the ultimate goal of acquiring more leads.

Yes, I know, executing this requires more time to research data that you can use to support your point. But it makes all the difference in being memorable.

Mistake 9 – There’s no call-to-action to buy.

Having a blog to build brand positioning, online presence, and your authority in the industry are all nice ideas, but you’re in business to make money. You need to sell to keep your company going.

So, last but not least, every piece of blog content has to play some part in persuading online visitors to spend their money with your business instead of a competitor. Maybe the content supports lead generation of your product, raises awareness, goes for the sale, or answers questions to customers who already bought from you.

The problem many blogs make is they’re afraid to ask for the sale. That’s ludicrous! If you write a killer guide, by all means you should be comfortable adding a blurb about what you’re selling and where they can click to learn more.

Remember, once you provide value and get these visitors hooked, you’re doing them a disservice by not selling them your services. And the people on your email list are actively communicating that they’re interested in your business and might want to buy. Give them the opportunity on your website to buy from you!

Start Blogging The Right Way

blogging-leads-to-salesBusiness blogging is guaranteed to work as long as you commit to the cause and don’t commit the 9 deadly sins above.

Many times it’s just a simple fix to improve your blog and get radically better results, like setting up an email capture or social sharing buttons. Then you don’t have to think about it again. However, other improvements, like including pictures and data, need to be applied to every post.

Though I promise you’ll receive real business results from your blog when you do it the right way. Your traffic will come slowly at first, then build momentum, and eventually your blog will be flooded with new business opportunities.

It’ll be an intoxicating new growth point to build upon.

So hire a writer or do whatever you need to do to ensure your company is consistently publishing high-quality articles—even if it means you as the business owner have to set aside time to blog yourself—it’s worth it!

digital-marketing-profits

Here’s How We’d Double Your Sales With Digital Marketing

By | Email Marketing, Reputation Management, SEO, Social Media, Website | No Comments

You’re already skeptical, I realize. I have a lot of work to do to convince you I’m not promoting a ridiculous get-rich-quick scheme here.

What I can definitely assure you is I’m not this guy.

Indeed, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, because it involves smart strategy and hard work.

Let’s talk about how you should be using digital marketing to “get richer” as a small business owner or entrepreneur.

Small business owners make various social media mistakes that hurt their business.

We see a ton of opportunities for improvement when we check out a business’ online presence—fix the outdated website, clean up the Facebook page, start using email marketing, reply to negative reviews correctly, and so on.

However, as a small business owner, it’s perfectly understandable your digital marketing is not perfect. Why would it be? With how quickly the Internet changes, it’s more than a full-time job to stay on top of the latest tricks and strategies to grow your business online.

You’re great at making food, giving financial advice, planning events, or whatever your business is. It’s impossible to be an expert at everything.

You could read blogs like ours all day everyday to brush up on your digital marketing knowledge, but you shouldn’t—you should be focused on doing what you do best, running your business.

That’s why digital marketing consulting agencies like us exist—to do the heavy lifting for you, like a mechanic would fix your car or an electrician would wire your house. It’s just not efficient for you to learn how to do those things.

Every business owner isn’t ready to go all in and hire a digital marketing agency to handle everything. That’s understandable, it can be a big decision, especially if you haven’t experienced the power and importance of digital marketing firsthand.

Sometimes we talk to clients who just aren’t ready yet, sometimes it’s a budget or time issue, sometimes the business owner is a more “DIY” type who wants to get their hands dirty.

Whatever the case, we like to arm business owners with the tools they need to be successful, so we developed an offering to get you in the game at a lower price point you’d normally find given the ROI of the strategy.

We’re introducing our Digital Marketing Deep Dive packages. Here’s how they could be a game-changer for your business.

Double Your Sales With Our Digital Marketing Deep Dive Packages

We’re offering three tiers of packages so you can decide what’s right for your business and what investment you’re prepared to make.

We spent tons of time crafting the packages so they contain zero-fluff, actionable strategies and tools to grow your business.

Our Digital Marketing Deep Dive packages will equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to give your online presence a booster shot. Here’s what we’re including.

Online Listing Assessment And Recommendations

Outdated or incomplete online listings are a huge problem for your business. If customers can’t easily find your phone number, hours, or address, they’re not going to spend much energy tracking you down. They’ll just go to one of your competitors.

We’ll take a look at all your online listings on Google, Facebook, and other platforms relevant for your industry, and make an actionable list of changes you need to make to get the most out of this free advertising. We’ll tell you how to make the changes yourself, how to verify ownership of your business, and everything else you need to know to get your listings in order.

Social Media Reputation Audit

You’ve probably heard of Google and Facebook “algorithms” that determine how many users they show your business to.

Google, Facebook, and other platforms want to give users the best recommendations and most relevant content so they regard the platforms as reliable sources.

These companies have gotten smarter and figured out how to use a more complex algorithm to give great recommendations in search engine results and news feeds.

Your online reputation is becoming more important every day. Businesses who have zero, few, or negative reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other popular platforms are punished in search engine results and news feeds. These platforms don’t want to recommend businesses other customers didn’t like.

We’ll review your online reputation, make recommendations about how to reply to reviews (and answer any specific questions about particularly challenging customer comments), and give you strategies to get even more reviews. By doubling or tripling your number of 4-star and 5-star reviews, you will see an increase in customers discovering your business online.

Website SEO And Conversion Audits

Unless you’ve read digital marketing blogs before, you may not know what “SEO” and “Conversion” actually mean in the context of online presence. That’s exactly why we’re offering these packages!

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of strategies you can use to make your website appear higher in search engine results. By convincing the search engines your website is relevant to what users are searching for, your traffic will skyrocket.

Conversion optimization is a blossoming area of digital marketing. Like in typical sales, a “conversion” is when one of your website visitors takes a desired action, like buying a product, scheduling a demo, or joining your mailing list.

In our experience, most business websites are not optimized for conversions. Why invest the time and/or money on your website if you’re not going to get a solid ROI? And why literally give away customers to your competition when a few changes could drastically increase your conversions?

We’ll audit your website for SEO and conversions and tell you exactly what you need to do to get more out of your website. If you follow our recommendations, the money you spend on one of our packages will be the best, highest ROI money you’ve spent in a while.

SEO and conversion optimizations are included in our Maximize and Dominate packages. In the Dominate package, we’ll get access to your website and make the SEO improvements for you.

Paid Advertising

Since social media platforms are giving you less organic, free traffic than ever, it’s critical to run strategic paid advertisements even if you have a complete profile and post regularly.

In our Maximize package, we’ll give you everything you need to run a paid advertisement on the best platform for your business (it may be Google, Facebook, Instagram, or others depending on your industry and audience). And in the Dominate package, we’ll give you three.

These paid advertisements could be a blueprint for your most effective marketing spend this year. You’ll find yourself wondering why on earth you still spend money on dying, near obsolete industries like print advertising.

Clicking the Facebook “Boost” button is not nearly enough. That’s Facebook’s brilliant way to get more money from you, but it’s sort of like wandering into a casino and playing a game without knowing anything about the rules. You might win, but it’s just dumb luck.

There are specific things you need to do with ad targeting, placement, copy, graphics, and overall strategy. We’ve run tons of ads to learn what works best so you don’t have to. And we’ll give you what you need to get started with paid advertising or improve your current efforts. (Lots of businesses we talk to are frustrated by the poor performance of the online ads they run.)

Bringing It All Together

A consultation is included with all our packages—30 minutes for “Compete” and 1 hour for “Maximize” and “Dominate”. We’ll walk you through our recommendations and audits during the consultation so you have everything you need to bring your digital marketing to life.

We’ll send you some preparation materials to guide you to brainstorm questions, because we really want you to make the most of the consultation. We’ve done all the digital marketing research so you don’t have to. We can help you make decisions that’ll make a huge difference.

The packages include a few other goodies too, all of which are engineered to add immediate value to your business.

Are You Ready Or What?

Thirty years ago (or now), if someone called to offer you a free billboard ad placement for your business, I’m assuming you’d take it.

While paid advertising is important—and included in our packages—there are so many steps you can take to grow your business that are absolutely free. You just have to know what to do.

That’s exactly what our packages are designed to help you do.

If you have any questions before you’re ready to get started, please reach out and we’re happy to explain!

SEO-keywords-placement

Got Your SEO Keyword? Here’s Exactly Where To Place It On Your Site

By | SEO | 2 Comments

If you know anything about search engine optimization, you’re aware that finding the right keywords is crucial to increasing online traffic to your business website.

That’s ok if you didn’t know that, many of our clients at Illumen Media have no idea until we tell them that at the core of successful SEO is using keywords on their site. And once they get the hang of it, they dominate in their online space. The goal is that your business will do the same!

Here’s a real quick summary of the power of keywords: They tell the Google crawler bots (yes, they’re like digital spiders that crawl the HTML of your site) what your article is about. The better you optimize your keyword on your site, the better chances you rank closer to the first result in a Google search.

Though it’s not all about finding a solid keyword for SEO. Businesses need to know where to place these keywords on their website to rank higher, bring in more traffic, and boost their monthly sales—this is called on-site SEO for nerdy people in this industry.

After reading this, you’ll learn the exact places where your specific keyword phrase should appear on your business website. (To be clear, this order of operations assumes you’ve already found your keyword. In a future Illumen post, you will learn how to do this.)

Understand the list below, execute it, and then you will build a steady flow of online traffic to grow your business for years to come. P.S. These are roughly listed in order of importance.

Related: 20 Tips To Increase Search Engine Traffic Like A Pro

Effective On-Site Keyword Placement

To get the most out of your site’s SEO, place your keywords in the following places:

1. In the page title

Your page title has to include the keyword for two main reasons: 1) this signals to the SEO bots exactly what your page is about, helping you rank higher in search and 2) it persuades people who type in the term on Google to click on your article.

You also get bonus SEO juice if your keyword is in the front of the title. For example with the keyword “eat on a budget”, a title would be more search optimized if it was “Eat On A Budget: 7 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Money” compared to “7 Different Tips That Will Help You Eat On A Budget”.

To get technical for a second, your page title should be in a Title (<title>) tag and a Heading 1 (<H1>) tag to clearly signal the topic of the material—a WordPress site will automatically do this.

2. In the URL of the page

The keyword you searched long and hard for should appear in the permalink of your URL. It’ll look like this: yourwebsitename.com/insert-your-keyword-here — note the name of the full post title shouldn’t be in the URL just the keyword.

Hopefully your website makes it easy to edit your URL with the specific keyword.

For WordPress, here’s how you switch your URL structure in the admin menu:

  1. Scroll over ‘Settings’
  2. Click ‘Permalinks’
  3. Select ‘Post name’ under Common Settings
  4. Click ‘Save Changes’

A screenshot below shows what to look for.

wordpress-permalinks

With this set up, you can customize the URL of your posts to include the keyword in it and knock this off the checklist.

Then it’s time to move on to another very important detail: meta descriptions.

3. In the meta description

The meta description is the little snippet that shows up under the article title on searches—you’ll want your keyword there. Optimizing this will help you land extra search engine traffic.

Take a look at the screenshot below to get a clear picture of how it shows up for potential visitors.

whats-a-meta-description

Notice how one of the two keywords here (Illumen) shows up in bold in the description? This is a bad example, but you’d want your entire keyword phrase to show up there.

Something to also keep in mind, some visitors go by how many bold words they see in the description to decide what article they’re going to click on.

4. In the first 200 words

This is not the place to save the main topic for later. Right from the beginning—I’m talking first sentence maybe, at least the first paragraph—you want to write your keyword in the introduction of the blog post.

Again, this will tip off both your readers and the search indexes that the article is focused on the keyword topic at hand.

When your online visitors see the phrase they’re looking for, they’re more likely to stay on the page. That is key because it will increase the time visitors spend on your site while lowering your bounce rate (how many people leave your site rather than clicking something else)—two important SEO metrics to boost you higher in the rankings.

5. In the last 200 words

While less important than having it in the introduction, I personally believe it’s in your company’s best interest to add that keyword phrase one more time in the page’s conclusion.

For no other reason than it sums up your content by giving the reader a summary on their way out, plus it may help your SEO a tiny bit.

There’s one warning that applies to this tip and in general: never ever “keyword stuff” a website page or you’ll get penalized and won’t rank at all. Keyword stuffing is using your keyword far more times than is natural, like if your keyword appears in every sentence or two. Google wants to rank sites that are useful to readers.

Getting delisted from search engines defeats the purpose of this exercise.

6. In internal backlinks to the page

An internal backlink is when you link from one page of your site to another page. Putting the keyword in the anchor text is a SEO boost that will help the page linked to receive more traffic.

Say I wanted to help the SEO of a page focused on the keyword “corporate catering”. I’d use one of my other pages to link to that site and make the text “corporate catering”.

However, please don’t overdo it and put every single internal backlink to a page with the keyword in it. You’ll want to mix it up and internally link with words like “this article”, “here”, and “guide”.

(Getting external links with the keyword as the link text is incredibly helpful, but this post is about on-site SEO so I won’t go on any further about this.)

Final Words

Here’s the thing about SEO. I guarantee it will lead new visitors to your business website because I’ve seen it happen firsthand. I’ve helped Illumen Media clients do it for their business. And I’ve done it successfully for my own site TakeYourSuccess.com.

This guarantee that SEO will produce results has two stipulations: you must put in the work and you must be patient for months.

Without those two ingredients, you’re not going to get any results from it. And then the snowball effect means you’re not going to capture online traffic, you’re not going to win online sales, and your business is going to suffer.

Let’s avoid that outcome. Let’s get your search engine optimization rolling.

You’ll take a solid step in that direction by placing your keyword in these places:

  1. Page title
  2. Page URL
  3. Meta description
  4. Page introduction
  5. Page conclusion
  6. Internal backlinks

With this knowledge you can already consider yourself a better online marketer.

What questions do you have about on site SEO keyword placement? What do you want to learn about SEO in general? Are you getting the most out of your local SEO and Google Maps listing?

Related: 5 Effective Tactics To Market Your Business Online

small-businesses-need-website

Small Businesses Without Websites Will Go Extinct Like Dinosaurs

By | Website | 2 Comments

Are you a small business without a website? Sorry to be a hater, but your business is in deep trouble of being extinct soon—like really soon.

This isn’t the boy who cried wolf. It’s an honest alarm.

Before we get into why, let me explain a high-level approach at the new business world.

Retail giants are in desperation mode after seeing other giants fall:

  • Circuit City declared bankruptcy in 2008
  • Blockbuster submitted bankruptcy filing in 2010
  • Sports Authority filed bankruptcy in 2016
  • Toys “R” Us goes bankrupt in 2017

I’m not making the point these companies didn’t have websites, because they certainly did. But they didn’t have a smart digital strategy to sustain their business or take it to the next level in the future.

For example, Toys “R” Us made a terrible decision by choosing to use Amazon for its e-commerce in 2000 instead of building out its own digital e-commerce store. When Toys “R” Us finally decided to get off the Amazon drug and wisely build their own e-commerce capability, they were already years behind their competitors and struggled to catch up.

The toy giant’s costly move to ignore its own online presence and online sales contributed strongly to its future bankruptcy (while Amazon’s profits are richer than ever).

The point is that you don’t want your company to ignore its online sales and become the Toys “R” Us of your space while your competitors steal your customers.

We’ve seen how that ends. We at Illumen Media want you to stay in business and thrive.

The only way to future-proof your business is to be on top of the newest trends: having a website to greet online shoppers and turn them into customers.

No Website, No Online Sales

all-businesses-need-websites

I hear the counterargument all the time when I do sales for my digital marketing company, “Oh no, we don’t need a website or online advertising. We use word of mouth to bring in new business.”

The funny part of this story is more often than not when I hear this I’m standing in their office lobby and it looks like a ghost town, kid you not.

In my head I’m thinking, “Sure looks like you could use some more sales! You sure you have enough income to pay for the electricity bill this month?”

Business clearly isn’t booming and they don’t have a website, you put the pieces together.

Now I’m not naive to think the only thing that can derail a business from bringing in new customers is the lack of a website. They could have a terrible product, zero marketing, unhelpful service, or rude customer support among other issues that are hurting the company’s success.

However, you can’t be too naive to believe that more online sales wouldn’t help a business grow into the modern world we live in. You’d have to dismiss the success of Amazon altogether to hold such an ancient perspective.

But here we are with nearly half of total businesses without a website to market themselves. In short, no online presence means no online sales.

That’s billions of dollars of revenue left on the table that each old-school company can grab a piece of the pie by adding a website and running online marketing campaigns to grab the consumer’s dollars.

Maybe they falsely believe their type of company doesn’t need a website. Maybe they don’t realize the power of online marketing. Maybe they’re scared of what they don’t know in a technical aspect. Maybe they’re stuck in the “we’ve always done lead generation this way” mindset. Or maybe they don’t believe they have the money for one.

Who knows the real reason, among plenty of other excuses I didn’t mention. I’d guess it’s a combination of all the above.

What I’m absolutely certain about is the loss of sales in the short-term and long-term for these website-less businesses. That’s undeniable.

Below is a list of every major benefit companies without a website and online traffic miss out on.

Reasons Websites Generate Sales

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A solid website can become the x-factor of your entire business going forward. Don’t underestimate its potential.

1. Websites market your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A website is truly your digital storefront with the best part being it’s always marketing your products and services 24/7/365, even when your office is closed.

It doesn’t need a lunch break, to sleep, or to recharge over the weekend.

And vacations? Your website has you covered. Holidays? Check. When you’re home taking care of your sick child? Done, don’t sweat it.

Literally any example you can think of, your piece of digital real estate will keep working for your business when you and your employees call it a day or take off work.

Get a solid, modern website and it will market your offerings non-stop to new visitors. This kind of workhorse effort should win employee of the month, every month!

2. Websites help your business get in front of new customers.

For local B2C businesses, thousands of consumers a day in a 10 mile radius of your business are typing in “(insert desired service) near me.” And people are also just as much searching for solutions from B2B companies.

Guess what? The companies with websites compete to be near the top result. And the companies without a website aren’t even in the game—they have a 0% chance to bring in any of these active online customers.

Also you can pair Google ads or Facebook ads with your website to jump to the top of these searches and promote your services at a very cheap rate of a few dollars per click. With no website, you can’t use the best modern advertising methods—Google and Facebook ads—to your advantage.

If you get in the game of attracting new customers by having a website built, marketing your business will take a giant leap forward.

3. Websites bring in more profits for your business.

It gets better than just marketing. With a well-designed website optimized for business conversions, your inbox will be filled with new leads and sales orders for you to wake up to.

That’s the definition of making money while you sleep—every sales rep and business owner’s dream come true.

All you have to set up on your new site is a form to capture visitors contact information—perfect for insurance companies, consultants, and software companies who need to have a consultation or demo to move the buying process forward.

And if you’re selling a product or service that can be bought right away, utilize an e-commerce plugin to let the customer buy from your site right then and there.

Besides being a master marketer and salesman, what else can the website do for your business?

4. Websites improve customer service by communicating important information.

Your site also acts as a communications center to answer customer questions, explain the benefits of choosing your business, and inform them of your company policies.

Just take a look at how some of our clients utilize their website to improve customer service:

  • A local baseball organization has a homepage list with all of their tournaments by date, name, age group, fields, and cost to enter
  • A dog groomer has a FAQs page to answer questions about what dogs they groom, the services they provide, and what payments they accept
  • A shopper software company utilizes video to explain their online tool and has a button for requesting a demo

This will save plenty of incoming phone calls and email correspondence when you can link to a page that already answers their questions to a tee. Plus, if there’s any confusion by a customer, they can always fill out the form on the Contact page to get clarification too.

It’s always good customer service to deliver answers to customer questions that’s just one click away.

5. Websites boost your company’s credibility and trust.

Not having a website is almost as bad as not having a business name. It’s sketchy. People like to see the copyright, address, telephone number in your footer.

They like to see your office building on the site or a picture of the CEO. Personifying your company in these manners builds trust, and we all know customers need to trust you before they pull the trigger to buy from you.

It’s not even the digital marketer in me who says this: If I see a company without a website, I 100% question if they’re still in business anymore. It’s a red flag for me and a concern for some other potential customers of yours.

Instead of giving the public a shaky feeling about your business, give them the opposite emotion of trust through a knockout website that shows we’re legitimate and ready to serve your needs.

6. Websites make it easy to expand your presence.

Businesses have been built solely on the back of search engine traffic (SEO), and you’re trying to say that free traffic from Google searches isn’t valuable to your business?

That’s crazy talk, especially if you have ambitions of growing a statewide, regional, or national presence in the future.

Even if you’re only local, you also won’t have to pay for online ads if you have a steady stream of organic traffic coming from Google.  

And even if you don’t want to grow your business, wouldn’t it be nice to raise your prices because of high demand? That’s more money to go in the pockets of your loyal employees and your own as the business owner.

Or you could take the work you want and profit share with a smaller company to send them business since you’ll have more than enough after your SEO kicks in.

7. Websites save you money and time.

Consider this. The average cost of one employee is say anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 or more per year for a small business, and the average cost of a standard website is around $1,000 to $3,000 for the build and then a small monthly hosting fee.

And already we’ve laid out how your online presence will improve your company’s marketing, sales, customer service, and brand reputation.

Couldn’t you let a few employees on your staff go since the website would make their previous job responsibilities redundant? That could be cost-savings of over $100,000 plus.

And an informative website with a helpful Frequently Asked Questions page can also save your employees time since they can redirect phone callers to the website instead of explaining the policies.

Since time is also money for a business, the question should be changed from where are you going to find the extra money for a business website to how can you afford not to invest in one?

8. Websites work to future-proof your business in the growing digital economy.

I see it time and time again. A company relied on radio, magazine, tv, billboard, or other old-school advertising to generate business. But then this well dried up and they have no way to make up ground in the new digital company.

Companies with mobile-ready websites are prepared for the new mobile age. Not only that, if done right, their website is actively:

  • Capturing emails to communicate and build relationships with their audience
  • Linking to the company’s social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter LinkedIn) to build their followers and stay top of mind with consistent posts
  • Pointing people to their Google listing to leave a review
  • Producing social media shares from their blog posts
  • Getting customer feedback to improve business operations

A website done right can build a future-proof base of touch points with your customers.

Plus, if a new technology comes out bigger than the internet—doubt it, but possible—you just lead your website traffic to that new platform and carry on.

Your Business Needs A Website

Call us at Illumen Media biased since we sell websites. But I swear I’d be singing the same song if we sold piano lessons.

A website is critical to your business success—some would argue there’s nothing more important based on its versatility to win you more business.

Do the best thing for your company and get in the digital world to connect with your audience. After all, you wouldn’t want to starve your business of these benefits.

  1. Websites market your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. Websites help your business get in front of new customers.
  3. Websites bring in more profits for your business.
  4. Websites improve customer service by communicating important information.
  5. Websites boost your company’s credibility and trust.
  6. Websites make it easy to expand your presence.
  7. Websites save you money and time.
  8. Websites work to future-proof your business in the growing digital economy.

And if you have a website but it’s bad—ugly, hard to navigate, not mobile optimized, doesn’t clearly communicate what you do, doesn’t convert sales—you’re in the same sinking boat.

You too need to upgrade your digital real estate with a new and improved website. Sure it’s an investment, but the new website should more than pay for itself in the first year it’s up.

You’ll also change your company’s trajectory from the path toward extinction toward one of hopeful promise.

Why risk going out of business when your company can thrive online?

Related: 9 Ways To Update Your Business Website Out Of The Stone Age

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