For those clients that need to promote their businesses locally, here are some helpful links and networking ideas to help grow your business and increase sales. The majority of these items are of no cost.
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce – generally they have online links back to your site, have networking mixers and are a great source of referrals
- Craigslist – have an “image ad” not just text and be sure to include your website link back to your site ALWAYS. Don’t forget one of the most popular sites online, Craigslist allows you to post free classified ads, on location(s) chosen by you.
- Yellow pages - just like the Yellow Pages only online so you can increase hits back to your site
- Yahoo Local despite Google being the reigning search engine, Yahoo! remains a popular option for its loyal users. Sign up on Yahoo! Local and grab all the free exposure your website can get!
- Google Local Maps create an account with Google and use Google Maps or Google Local to ensure that your business shows up in the search results on Google. When Google infuses these results on its page, it increases the value of its local search and maps application.
- Merchant Circle, Manta and Alignable are great ways to network locally
- Local.com Add your listing to a well traveled site that displays local favorites, reviews, maps, movie listings, and more.
- Kijiji free local listings on a site much like Craigslist
- White Pages are the same idea as the Yellow Pages but for businesses
- Connect with your local Economic Development Corporation. Generally they will be able to help promote your business and even offer a link back to your site as well.
- Send enewsletters – Email marketing is a great way to grow your client base by encouraging people to forward the email to a friend. Include a coupon in the email to entice new clients even more.
- Have postcards designed and printed and use them like flyers! Lay them at coffee shops, post them on cork boards at diners, automotive places, etc. People are more likely to notice them rather than a business card because of their size and are more likely to not discard it due to the nice printing and paper stock.
- Start a Blog and post on other blogs related to your industry or locale
- Start a Facebook ad and target your specific city, demographics, etc
- Post on forums specific to your city
- Yellow Pages ensure that you are listed on the online version of the popular phone directory. A basic listing comes free of cost.
- Yelp is another local venue for people to locate and review your business
- Get vinyl lettering for your back window. Keep the message simple with your business name, a couple of your services, phone number and website address.
- Leave business cards or tri-fold brochures at other local businesses
- Get social on websites like Facebook groups for your local areas or interact with local people in Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Drive registrations and attendance through email and social media marketing
With any event, be it a class, seminar, open house, fundraising gala, or something in between, the ultimate goal is to get as many people as possible to attend. There's no point in planning a free or fee-based event if no one shows up.
To get the most out of your event efforts, here are five ways to maximize registration and increase attendance:
1. Save the date
People are busy and calendars fill fast, so you want to make sure your event is on your intended attendees' calendars as early as possible. Once you have the basic logistics (when and where) nailed down for your event, let all your desired attendees know with a save the date email. For invitation-only events, send an email and/or mail a save-the-date postcard to the future guest list to get on their calendars.
If your event is open to the public, you can and should add social media marketing to the mix by posting the date and details to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts -- essentially, to any social media network where you connect with members and customers. When using social media marketing, particularly Twitter, it is recommended that you link to an event homepage so those thinking about attending can find out additional information beyond what you can fit in 140 characters. You can host the event homepage on your own site or build one using Event Marketing. For the latter, remove the registration button from the homepage until you're ready to start accepting them.
2. Send an email invitation
About six to eight weeks prior to your event, send out an official invitation to your contact or target guest list. A personalized invitation makes the recipient feel wanted and can help compel him or her to register for your event. The invite should clearly outline the key event details and explain the benefits of attending from the recipient's point of view. Keep the invitation itself short and to the point. To provide additional information about your event, link to an event homepage.
At this point in the event planning process, registration for your event should be open and ready to accept guests.
3. Promote your event through social media
For events that are open to the public, use social media marketing to spread word to customers and members as soon as your invitations go out. Using social media allows you to promote your event multiple times a week, which you can't do with email. Change up your wording a bit for each pitch to your social networks so it doesn't look like you're constantly posting the exact same thing. And, like with your save-the-date email, link to an event homepage to give would-be attendees more information.
One variation on this idea: You could offer limited-time exclusive access to your event to email subscribers -- providing a benefit to your most loyal customers and members -- and hold off on the social media marketing until the exclusivity window has passed.
4. Send follow-up reminders to non-registrants and registrants
Within a few days of the event, send a follow-up email invitation to those on your original invitation list who have yet to register. Change the subject line to add a sense of urgency, such as "Only 2 days left to register" or "5 seats left -- register now."
For those who have registered, you can send them an email reminder that the event is coming up shortly and provide any last minute details that they may need to know. For free events, this helpful reminder can help drive attendance and lower the no-show rate.
5. Ask your attendees for a little promotional help
Word-of-mouth referrals are the Holy Grail of marketing, so why not get a few referrals for your event? Ask attendees to tell their social media friends and followers that they are attending your event. Make it easy by giving them the text and a pre-shortened link to your event homepage or registration page that they can copy and paste to Twitter and Facebook. For Twitter users, add a hashtag (a # sign followed by a word or phrase, i.e. #homeshow2018) to brand individual tweets about your event. This lets Twitter users (and you) easily see who else is tweeting about the event.
Planning an event is a time-consuming process. Use these five tips to ensure all that hard work pays off by using every promotional channel available to you to maximize attendance at you gathering.
In the world of email marketing: permission-based email marketers are the good guys.
They value the trust and privacy of each and every customer that walks through their door and thus, the trust and privacy of every subscriber that joins their email list. As a result, they have better open rates, less spam reports, and more opportunities to grow their business with email marketing.
Permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships that can drive repeat sales and valuable word-of-mouth for your business. And these practices also keep you in compliance with legislation such the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-Spam) and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
1. Collect email addresses the right way
If you’re adding a new contact to your email list, it’s important that you have consent, either implied or express.
Implied consent is inferred based on actions, such as having an existing business relationship (making a purchase or donation, for example). In order to maintain implied consent to comply with CASL a contact must take a business action with you at least once every two years. Under CAN-Spam there is no need to maintain implied consent, it is assumed until the receiver indicates they no longer wish to receive messages.
Express consent is obtained when you explicitly ask your potential contacts for permission to send them email, and they agree. Once you obtain express consent, it is good forever or until someone opts out.
When possible we recommend obtaining express consent.
2. Be straightforward at the point of sign up
When asking people to join your list, be straightforward about what type of content you plan to send. Special offers, promotions, and exclusive content are great incentive for people to join your list but if you don’t follow-through, you could lose them as a reader and possibly as a customer.
DO YOU HAVE EXPRESS CONSENT?
ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS
• Does your sign-up form have clear and obvious language asking for permission to send the contact future electronic messaging?
• Does your sign-up form clearly identify the person, business, or organization asking for the consent?
• Does your sign-up form contain a valid mailing address and either a telephone number, email address, or web address?
• Does your sign-up form indicate that there will be a mechanism for people to easily unsubscribe at any time?
• Do you have a process in place to document this express consent?
3. Give people the option to opt-out
Permission can be given, and it can be taken away. It is very important that every email you send has the option for the recipient to unsubscribe or “opt-out.” Interests may change over time and communications may no longer be valuable to a given subscriber.
4. Add a permission reminder to your emails
Whether they are a valued customer, a prospect who expressed interest or a client you want to keep in touch with — adding a permission reminder will add credibility and help provide context for your email.
5. Respect your audience’s privacy
6. Keep your contacts up-to-date
People change email service providers, jobs and email addresses at random. Often, you’ll be the last to know.
Ask for updated information and give subscribers an easy way to change their email address. This will ensure that your communications continue to be received if, and when, they make a change.
7. Don’t overwhelm your audience
Respect the privilege of communicating with your customers and prospects by taking care not to communicate too often. Think carefully and plan how many, and what kind of communications you send to your subscribers.
8. Be diligent
Some subscribers will reply to an email to unsubscribe instead of using the automatic unsubscribe link. Monitor your inbox for unsubscribes, and complaints, then make sure you remove unsubscribe addresses right away and take action on any grievances.
9. Watch your reports
Look at your reports! There’s a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. Always pay attention to your unsubscribe rate — if you are losing more than 0.5% of your subscribers per month, you need to make adjustments. Opens and click-throughs can also indicate where you might be missing the mark.
10. Never buy or rent a list
Beware of strangers bearing lists! Permission is not transferable. Today, subscribers want to receive email from those companies they have subscribed to, not an unknown third party. Don’t be fooled by the false promise of ready-to-buy lists.
Be part of the solution!
Remember, permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships. Follow these 10 steps and you’ll be on your way to better results from your marketing and your business.
Sign up for eMail Marketing for FREE for 60 days, and we'll put a FREE "Subscribe" form on your website to start gathering your visitors email addresses!
I am often asked what SEO is, what it isn’t, and what’s one thing my clients can do to help their SEO. As you will see Search Engine Optimization is not just one thing that will or won’t keep your site from reaching the coveted first page of Google. I’ll try to cover a good deal of what contributes to a site's Search Engine Optimization.
Ascertain competitors inbound links
Often by researching your competitors, you can find where their inbound links are coming from and, advertise/promote yourself at those exact links if applicable. While you are at their site, check out their keywords – you can maybe get ideas as to what keywords/phrases they are using that you may not have considered.
I can’t say enough about blogs and the effectiveness of blogging! They offer credibility to your site and your knowledge of your product/service/industry, they let your customer know you care enough to share this information with them, they promote two-way conversation by allowing visitor comments; then you comment on their comments, they allow for more opportunities for your website/keywords to be found.
- Body text, titles and headings (using appropriate CSS tags) and body copy should support and reiterate rich keywords, and be unique to each page
- Bold keywords within the body copy
- Web pages containing more than 2,000 words can rank higher
- Utilize keywords in your H1 text (Headings)
Purchase your domain name for long periods of time. Search engines see that as a stable, notable site. Many spam or adult sites are “here today, gone tomorrow” and are therefore not ranked as high with search engines.
Also, a domain name with a name bearing your industry is much more effective. For example: instead of choosing “JoesStore.com”, select “JoesShoes.com” This is much more descriptive for the search engines. The downfall of this is that many good domain names are often hard to find or come with a high price tag and sometimes you are left with something that isn’t your first choice.
Each time I send out an email marketing campaign, I receive calls from customers. Not just one call, but several – mostly that same day! Talk about great return on investment! This is because when you deliver an effective email campaign, you are keeping that communication open with your clients and reminding them that you are there for them. But probably the most important feature of email marketing is getting clients to "hit" your site. Link articles and other important information back to the pages on your site.
RSS Feeds are quickly becoming an industry standard for potential clients to subscribe to your blog and being notified when new content is posted. Feeds bring more hits back to your site as well.
The name is synonymous with web ingenuity.
- Use Google Analytics to check visitor trending such as, keyword usage and adjust accordingly. Check ROI immediately by seeing visitors coming from referring sites, create a traffic funnel for how you want clients to navigate through your site, and MUCH more.
- Create a free Google Local Ad
- Google Webmaster Tools are a great way to see how often your site is being indexed, if a Sitemap has been uploaded, number of inbound links and more.
Honor thy Press Release...
by submitting them to PR Directories. Worthwhile news can be shared with others and offer more opportunities for inbound linking and others to find your site.
In order for your site to rank well in search results pages, it's important to make sure that Google can crawl and index your site correctly. Uploading a sitemap to Google and Yahoo is particularly helpful.
Just say no to SEO killers
- Don't use Flash, frames or DHTML on your site
- Don't use images on your site for navigation, buttons or important information – search engines can’t “see” images.
- Don't use tables on your site
- Too many graphics, not enough content
Focus on high-traffic, highly-relevant keywords. Give the search engines a few days to access your content and re-check your ranking based upon this. Tweek and refine as needed.
- Make sure links are representative of what they pertain to, as search engines pick up on links as being an important part of your site. For example, a link to a continuation of an article, instead of click “here” to read that article. Say something which is more descriptive for the search engine spiders to read, have it say “building valid links.”
- Periodically check for non-functioning or broken internal and external links. There are many free link checkers out there.
- Keeping the number of links per page under 100.
- Don't belong to a weblink or link ring. They don't work.
- Include meta-tags and keywords relative to page content
- Titles and headings should support and reiterate keywords, and be unique to each page.
- Don’t leave out or duplicate the title, description or keywords as search engines rely on these to “read” unique content on your site.The title is one of the most important things that Google and other search engines utilize when evaluating page content.
- Keep descriptions, title and keywords to the specs below as specified by major search engines:
Title: max 70 characters
Description: no more than 150 characters
Keywords: 10 words/phrases per page is a good amount
Search engines are increasingly considering the age the site and how long the domain is registered for. To help this, register your domain for as long as you can (to let search engines know you plan on sticking around) and get an aggressive SEO program in place.
On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO
On-Page SEO pertains to the actual content (keywords, meta information, to increase searches) in/on the website. Approximately 25% of visits are based on this content.
Off-Page SEO pertains to driving traffic to site through linking (via social media, RSS reeds, directories, etc). Approximately 75% of visits are based on (inbound) links.
Google ranks websites based on how “valuable” a website is. Google relies upon the nature of the web and its vast linking structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.
Having a higher page rank equates to higher probability of being at the top of searches. Links are the basis for page rank – those sites that are less known is because they aren’t as important and have few people linking to them. Those sites with thousands of inbound links, Google sees as being a worthwhile site.
Quantity of Inbound Links
Don’t fall prey to the link networks, or link webrings; nor ever pay anyone that promises to bring you links.
Repeat Visits (encourage)
- Use at least one conversion form to get leads (keep the form short and sweet)
- Increase hits back to your site by doing regular email/eNewsletter marketing campaigns
- Add a "bookmark this page" to your site so customers can easily come back
- Add an "email this page to a friend" link to your site
- Your website address should be printed on all business and marketing items, and also your email signature
- Start a blog - this helps in many ways: keeps the communication open between you and your visitors if you allow comments, search engines will index (and rank) your site higher when you keep uploading new content, shows potential customers that you care about their interests, offers more opportunity for search engines (and customers) to find you.
- Email marketing with links back to articles continued at your site.
- Keep a “running article” going on the site. For example, I have an article that is kept current with upcoming contests for designers and photographers. It’s a great way to get repeat visits.
Submit articles to directories and bookmarking sites
This ensures your website carries an extensive web presence outside of your own website. Furthermore it will allow more opportunities for prospects to find your company by adding greater visibility for your business.
Twitter, Technorati and the entire Social Media realm
Social media, Bookmarking, Article Submissions, Social Networking can and should be utilized to its maximum potential to market your business.
Put keywords or phrases in the URL via the folder/directory structure or the HTML page name. Again, this offers more opportunities for search engines finding keywords.
Be sure to print your URL on ALL marketing materials you have (business cards, signage, brochures, etc), and in your email signature – MANY people use this link.
Valid or Quality Links
The more quality inbound links you have coming to your site, the higher your Google page rank will be.
Writing on forums, Q&A’s and other blogs
Many people will click on a forum signature in response to someone’s question. Be sure to take this opportunity when posting to well traveled forums, blogs and Q&A forums to have a “signature” that states your name and URL to your business.
Utilizing such technologies as XHTML, CSS and PHP, ensures less page errors, faster loading times for your visitors and also eliminate the need for tables which can cause problems with search engines and accessibility.
XHTML limits the code size naturally and you end up with being simple to crawl for Google and other bots.
Yahoo, Google, Bing – Submit your URL
Though Google boasts the most searches per day, Yahoo! and Bing are also very well traveled. Regularly check your standing in popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) using keywords potential clients would be using to find your site.
Zap Spam - simple web guidelines from Google:
- Don’t hide keywords on your pages or use too many in the metatags; search engines can see this as a potential spam website and won’t index it.
- Don’t use hidden text or hidden links
- Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords
- Don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains or domains with duplicate content
- Don’t use doorway pages.