How to Grow Your Small Business
Step-by-step guide on how to use digital marketing to grow your small business and dominate your local market.
SEO, SEM, PPL, PPC, CPC, CPL, CRO… holy moly… brain freeze… where to start?
Here’s a better path…
How to Grow Your Local Business in 2018+
In the age of the smartphone, digital marketing is how you grow a small business to not only compete in 2018 and beyond, but to dominate your local market and thrive.
“4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local products and services.” ~ Google
“56% of all mobile searches are local.” ~ SearchEngineLand
“50% of consumers who conducted a local search visited a store within one day.” ~ ThinkwithGoogle
Traditional advertising and marketing channels don’t work as well as they used to because they’re all being replaced with online versions that are free of advertising.
Yet about 44 percent of small businesses don’t have a website according to a 2016 Capital One Small Biz Survey. [That’s crazy!]
That same study showed that less than 30 percent of small businesses had a mobile ready website. [I’m passing out now.]
For the last twenty years small businesses have constantly been told how technology, and especially the Internet, is changing their world.
But many small businesses were able to ignore the Internet or just throw up some static website and forget about it. They were growing their business the old fashioned way and it was working… but it’s not anymore.
If you’re one of them, well this time my guess is no one even has to tell you really, because your gut probably already knows that something very different is happening this time around.
Old school marketing results are decreasing because everyone has a powerful computer in their pocket disguising itself as a smartphone. It’s that simple.
It’s highly likely that the very future of your business depends on you understanding this one single fact. If you’re still a doubter, ask the next 100 people you meet how and where they look for new products, services, or companies. You will know after that.
“The currency of business now is attention. If you don’t get that, your business is massively vulnerable.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Fiber optic cable brought high-speed Internet access which allowed for smooth streaming of video and audio and a full multimedia experience.
Then the cellular and WiFi smartphone came along and put that experience in your pocket, and in your hand. That combination has changed the world forever.
“In 2018 nearly 80 percent of people in the U.S. now own a smartphone.” according to the Pew Research Center.
The “tipping point” has happened.
Everyone’s attention is on their smartphones.
The game has officially changed. Consumer behavior has changed forever. Small business has changed forever.
To grow, your business must go where the people are; and they’re on their phones.
Successful digital marketing includes these essential features:
- your website is the central hub of everything
- consistent content that’s well-researched and shown to be in-demand and of value
- structuring and coding everything for search engine optimization and high rankings
- business, industry, and reviews directory listings like Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local, etc.
- guest posting, press releases, and building quality backlinks
- trying to grow reviews and testimonials and show them off
- staying connected to existing customers thru email, SMS, social media pages, and blog
- Google, Facebook, and Instagram ads
- analyzing it all, split-testing, optimizing, etc.
It can get overwhelming pretty fast and very expensive real quick. The industry will hit you with an endless barrage of buzzwords, SEO, SEM, SMM, PPC, PPL, CPC, CPL, CRO… it goes on forever.
But like all fields, modern digital marketing has a solid fundamental foundation upon which success is built. Without these core requirements, you’re just floundering, shooting from the hip, and receiving inferior results.
We make it simple!
We set aside all the industry jargon and put together this 15 step plan to creating and maintaining a rock-solid digital marketing foundation that will serve you well and help your local business grow and dominate in 2018 and beyond. We wish prosperous futures to you all.
Step 1. Is Your Website Working Well?
Are you getting calls, emails, sales, and customers from it?
Is it growing your email marketing lists?
Is your business website a responsive / mobile-friendly design?
(test on Google here)
Does it look good on a smartphone and tablet?
Does it take more than 3 seconds to load?
(test on Google here)
Is your website ranking for any keywords right now?
Does it provide value to the consumer?
Is it loaded with calls-to-action?
Step 2. Is Your Website Optimized for Search Engines?
Does your website have the proper URL, permalink, and category structure?
Are your web pages and blog posts coded with proper URL, title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, image filenames and alt tags, etc?
Are your images optimized for small file sizes and fast loading?
You can test if your website has good on-page SEO coding with the basic and FREE Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool.
Step 3. Does Your Website Have Great Content?
Does your website have at least one well-written, well-researched article of at least 2,000 words on a key topic to your business?
This article needs to be about a high-traffic keyword in your niche and your article offers free value in helping your prospects answer questions and solve problems, or learn something they seek.
Most of your marketing and advertising efforts will point back to your website and a piece of great content.
Great content is the cornerstone of your online marketing.
Be sure to do lots and lots of keyword research because targeting the wrong keywords or traffic is like planting the wrong seed and nothing will grow.
First, a mobile-ready responsive site with good on-page SEO is needed, then a piece of great content gets you started.
Promote all of your new blog, video, or audio content in an email newsletter, by text message with a link to it on your blog, on your Facebook business page, on all other social media platforms you use, and within forums and websites in your industry, etc.
Re-purpose all content into video and/or audio and distribute and share it all over again.
While you can start with a single piece of great content, traffic, leads, and sales statistics clearly show that the more content you produce that’s truly of value to the consumer, and the more consistently you produce it, the more traffic your site will get and the greater your business will grow.
Step 4. Is Your Business in the Google My Business Directory?
Do a Google search for your company name in your city.
(click here to open Google)
Do you see a knowledge card listing of your company in a large box in the Google search results?
This is your “Google My Business listing” that shows up in Google maps when people do a local search for your type of business in the local area.
Have you claimed or created your listing?
Have you optimized the listing with exact name, address, phone, and URL of your website?
Have you listed the proper business category and your correct operating times?
Have you set up a link to an appointment calendar or menu on your website?
Have you added geo-tagged photos of your staff, your business, your products & services, customer reviews, etc?
Do you keep updating the listing with photos you geo-tagged with city and state?
Do you post regularly to your GMB account?
[posts show up in your Google maps listing – use them to your advantage]
Do you ask your customers to post photos of your products or services on Google and Yelp?
Step 5. Are You In Other Business, Industry, & Reviews Directories?
Is your business listed in Yelp with an optimized description and plenty of great geo-tagged photos?
How about in Bing Local? Yahoo! Local? SuperPages? YellowPages? etc.
There are tons of these business, industry, and reviews directories and they can all get you ranked bring you leads.
Many of them are vital to your business and website ranking in maps, local search, and organic search.
It’s hugely important that they all have EXACTLY the same business name, address, and phone number (NAP) as what’s on listed on your website.
“Nonexistent, incorrect, or duplicate directory listings are the #1 reason why businesses don’t rank in Google.” – SearchEngineLand
Step 6. Is Your Business Listed in Top 3 of Google Maps?
When people do a local search in Google for your kind of business in your city and state, a map is displayed with three businesses listed.
Those three businesses gets most of the calls, sales, and customers. Are you one of them?
The way to get to the top 3 is to have good on-page SEO on your website first, then lots of listings with the same name, address, phone, and website URL in lots of other important directories like Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp, SuperPages, TripAdvisor, YellowPages, Manta, etc.
You can either build these links yourself manually or hire someone like us to do it manually. There is also automated software available but beware, all directories are different and software can often makes things worse with incomplete, incorrect, or duplicate listings.
Plus if you stop paying many of those software plans, then you lose all the listings. The old way is still the best way; build them manually and own them.
Step 7. How’s Your Customer Reviews & Testimonials?
Customer reviews and testimonials are trusted by online readers like recommendations from friends.
Video testimonials are the most trusted.
Like them or not they’re incredibly important to your business and can be the single biggest difference between success and mediocrity or even failure.
Reputation management plays a major role in controlling and enhancing your online brand and marketing.
Every business needs to be providing an awesome customer experience and then actively soliciting customer feedback. Make it easy for customers to write them where you want, and display, share, and promote those reviews everywhere.
Step 8. Do You Regularly Email or Text Your Existing Customers?
It costs a lot more $$$ to attract new customers than it does to get previous customers to come back and spend more.
Most businesses make the mistake of spending most of their marketing efforts and ad dollars on getting new customers and ignore the ones they have already.
A Harvard business study showed most customers want to come back to businesses they liked but they lose connection with that business and don’t return.
Staying connected to your existing customers through email, sms text messaging, social media, and your blog are all essential in the new age of the smartphone and the truly smart and efficient way to use your marketing efforts and dollars.
Don’t be selling stuff all the time here either. Give, give, give, then let them know you sell stuff, then repeat.
Read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book entitled,”Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
Step 9. Does Your Company Have a Facebook Business Page?
Your customers are all on Facebook or Instagram, or both.
Your FREE Facebook business page is a great place to stay connected with your customers and prospects.
In addition to your email and text-message marketing, a Facebook business page is an important ingredient in staying connected and growing your business.
Your Facebook business page is also a prerequisite to setting up and testing highly targeted Facebook ads to drive more people into your business.
Share your great content on Facebook. Share yourself, your staff, customer video testimonials, customer tips, etc.
Step 10. Have You Announced Your Content to the News?
A Press Release is an awesome marketing tool to get lots of exposure and traffic to your great content.
Most importantly, Press Releases create lots of high-quality, high-authority news organization links to your site.
These high authority links help your business and website content get ranked in Google.
Press releases provide faster search engine ranking results boost than most other SEO strategies.
Step 11. Have You Built Industry Blog Links To Your Site & Content?
Guest posting articles on other high-authority blogs in your niche and local area are the best long term strategies to building the ranking power of your business and website content.
Google says that three things rank your business and website in search engines: depth on the article on a subject, the width or breath of the article [it covers several sub-topics also], and the number and quality of incoming links pointing to your site.
Have you been active in building links to your site using guest posting?
Step 12. Are You Consistent with Blog Content?
Establish yourself as THE authority in your field in your local area.
The statistics are plentiful and clearly show if you want traffic to your blog and website and social media, then you have to consistently produce new content for them to consume.
Produce content weekly or better to increase traffic and create more leads, sales, and customers without having to advertise very much (if at all).
Step 13. Have You Created Video Content?
Videos are dominating the Internet and now over 70 percent of all content consumed is video.
Videos have better conversion rates, shares, and links than any other form of content or advertising.
Every business should have a ‘”business listings” video posted in YouTube and on your website. It should show the owner or manager speaking inside or outside the business, provide it’s name, what you do for people, your address and major cross streets, hours and asy open, a very short why you’re good, and maybe an interview with an employee why they like working there and a customer or two on why they like doing business with you.
Every business should get used to creating more content in VIDEO form. It’s what’s in demand and how consumers want their content.
Demand for AUDIO is also on the rise with podcasts as people listen while they drive or work like they used to with the radio.
Step 14. Have You Advertised on Facebook?
The average American spends nearly as much time on social media today than they do watching TV or movies.
Facebook has more information about everybody than anybody in history. And that lets you target your ad audience better than ever before.
In 2018 Facebook is still one the best and lowest costs ways to advertise a local business.
It’s easy to create custom audiences, others that look like your existing customer profile. Facebook provides the ability to test ads and audiences and make changes in real time.
The flexibilities are truly amazing and allow for constant optimizing to get the best conversion rates and return on investment possible.
Step 15. Outsource: let the Pro’s do it = that’s us 🙂
Your digital marketing plans, execution, and management will directly dictate how successful your business is in 2018 and beyond.
Times have changed. The smartphone has changed the business and consumer worlds forever.
Marketing is NOT something for you or your assistant, or one of your sales guy’s brothers who builds websites on the side.
If your business wants to GROW, you need a professional doing this work. You can either hire to bring that skillset inside your company or outsource to a professional or agency.
Unless you love marketing, web design, content creation, search engines, as well as managing people, why hire someone internally?
The best marketing professionals run their own agencies, like us, which is better for local companies because that saves you payroll, taxes, insurance, benefits, paid vacations, and managerial headaches.
NO contracts here. We don’t lock you in to any crazy contracts that you need a team of lawyers to figure out.
We’re results oriented. We operate month-to-month, you can pause or cancel anytime for any reason.
We listen to your goals, provide our marketing input, then we draw up an outline of our game plan designed to bring you the best results per your goals. There’s no magic secrets, it’s all about laying down that foundation and then putting it in motion daily.