Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A look at Local Internet Marketing

Every day millions of consumers are searching for local products and services on search engine directories such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. In fact, there are over 1 billion local searches conducted each month across these search engines, and it’s estimated that 86% of individuals who research local businesses online will follow up with a phone call or in-store visit. The trick to mastering local internet marketing, however, lies in the ability to get listed on the first page of these search engines.

Typically a user who types in a search query with a local identifier, let’s pretend it’s “mechanic San Francisco”, can see up to 7 results for local mechanics in the surrounding areas. Since the search engine’s primary goal is to serve up listings that are most relevant to what the consumer is seeking, it is very rare that a consumer will actually go past the first 10 local listings before they find a mechanic they are looking for and either click through to his website, or place a call directly. Often, consumers associate quality of company with search ranking, and thus the companies who enjoy top 10 rankings stand to get the bulk of the website traffic, and consequently, the majority of the business.

So how do you get your company to be listed within those first 10 spots? The answer is Localized Search Engine Optimization, or as we call it LSEO. Essentially, LSEO is the process of formatting your website to meet the technical quality standards issued by the individual search engines, and then work to continuously develop fresh content and build inbound links which enhance your website’s reputation. If done properly, you can propel your company’s local listings in as soon as one month’s time. For example, in May 2010, we experienced our most dramatic success yet, when we took a small business from the 49th ranked local position on Google to the 4th local spot in only 2 weeks time! They have since had their listing shown over 3,500 times, seen a more than 200% increase in website traffic, and received numerous phone calls for their services.

If any of that explanation sounded like technical jargon that you want no part of, we have a solution for you too. The Local SEO team at TRS has proven experience helping small and mid-sized businesses harness the power of Search Engine Marketing. Our expert staff can diligently manage your online listings across Google, Yahoo! and Bing to help increase your rankings and give you access to consumers who are actively searching for your products and services. Best of all, unlike traditional print media, online marketing solutions are completely transparent so you can track everything from number of ad displays, to website clicks, and even phone calls – making your ROI calculations easier than ever!

Interested in learning more? Contact one of our Web Marketing Consultants today! 800-551-0567

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Small Business and Online Marketing - A Changing Landscape

by Bryan Kauffmann

Small businesses are closing at an overwhelming rate due to the economic climate. Often the fine line between survival and closing is reliant on the amount of marketing of the business is actually done. Unfortunately, when faced with a choice of where to cut in the budget, the marketing is usually the first to go. This should not happen – and smart businesses know this, and put their marketing budget toward a more cost effective and targeted channel – online marketing.

A Changing Landscape

In November, 2010, Ad-ology Research conducted a survey of over 750 small businesses to see where their marketing budget would be spent in 2011. The results showed that more small businesses will be putting their budgets toward e-mail (72.7% in 2011 vs. 56.6% in 2010) and website development (70.5% in 2011 vs. 57.7% in 2010).

What this shows us is that online marketing is becoming the way companies promote their goods and services. Traditional forms of marketing are not going away – there will still be direct mail pieces sent, flyers printed, telephone directories used, and billboards utilized, but overwhelmingly there is going to be great growth in the online marketplace.

Benefits of Online Marketing

Why would a company want to market online? First, there is a greater reach to consumers, and more opportunity for growth. According to Google, over 85% of consumers are going online first when looking for products and services - totaling over 16 billion search queries a month. Secondly, of the over 20 million registered businesses in the U.S., only about 5-10% have any type of online presence, and only a small percentage of those are doing anything to market their company online.

Online marketing is not just limited to having a website, and marketing that, or an email campaign to prospects and clients. There is also a great push toward the utilization of social media. For businesses that are following a business to consumer model, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are an excellent source to get new business as well as connect with your current clients. Social media sites gather personal consumer information at sign up that businesses can use to target their ads. These ads cost a fraction of what it does on a major search engine. Also, social media sites allow a quick update to your “followers”. Posting relevant, timely information can establish a company as an expert in their field, and who doesn’t want to be known as an expert in their own field?

With such a large untapped marketing space, there is great opportunity to grow. No longer do small businesses have to focus on their own backyard for customers - their reach is only as limited as they want it to be. With the right marketing strategy, their small business can change from a struggling shop to a profitable entity quickly.

Analyzing costs

As with all comparisons, it turns into a question of numbers and dollars. Small businesses using a traditional form of marketing can spend over $10,000 on a direct mail campaign, see less than 1% response, and then a smaller closing rate, and consider the campaign a success. If they took that same $10,000 and invested it in online marketing they could see a much higher exposure, greater contact rate, and much better closing rates because they would be targeting to the consumer who is specifically looking for their goods and services. For example, one of the companies I have worked with wanted exposure for his website. In one month, and for under $1,000, his web traffic increased over 20,000%. Another client I worked with saw a 500% increase in web traffic when he started utilizing an email campaign.

Online marketing is a powerful tool, allowing small businesses to compete with, and beat their competition. Those who take advantage of the opportunities have a greater chance of success over those who continue to use more traditional forms of marketing. As the landscape evolves, and new opportunities arise, what is your small business going to do to succeed?