Best Small Business Tools for 2016

Your Epic List of Sales, Email, Automation, Invoicing and SEO Tools

Looking for small business tools that will help you get organized, streamline operations, and save money?

Or maybe you would just like to cut down your to do list and automate some of the tedious daily tasks that are constantly eating up your day?

This comprehensive list of small business tools may not be all inclusive, but it is pretty darn close to listing a majority of the truly effective resources out there designed to make your business life not only easier, but more productive and profitable. Many of them are free, but those that are not are very reasonably priced for the return on investment. In making the list ease-of-use, integration, scalability, and customer reviews were all important factors and these tools all made the top of the list.

Email Marketing/Newsletter

MailChimp (Free to $15/mo with pro subscription of $199) – Bursting with marketing automation features, MailChimps is one of the most popular and cost-effective email marketing tools on the market. You’ll see that MailChimp integrates with a good portion of the tools on this list because its trusted industry wide for its ease of use and extensive list of features.

AWeber ($19/mo to $149/mo) – A deep feature set keeps AWeber in competition with the best in the business. One feature that might be important to your small business, and would put them ahead of MailChimp, is that while MailChimp only gives you customer support through email, at AWeber you can call and talk to someone.

LeadIn by HubSpot (Free) – Automate contact research and funnel information into HubSpot, MailChimp, AWeber, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, or Get Response.

Sales/CRM with Marketing Features

Infusionsoft ($199/mo to $599/mo) – Designed specifically for small businesses, Infusionsoft is an effective all-in-one sales and marketing platform. Its powerful CRM features allow for lead scoring, capturing and segmentation while handling social marketing, email campaigns, and sales. Additionally, the Infusionsoft Marketplace offers hundreds of third-party business services for further automation of your business activities.

SalesForce ($25 to $250) – A leader in business automation and CRM, SalesForce has powerful marketing and sales automation tools. Like Infusionsoft, SalesForce integrates with hundreds of third-party business apps to enhance your marketing campaigns and digital presence.

HubSpot CRM (Free) – Manage prospects and your sales pipeline with HubSpot’s free intuitive CRM platform. Learn while you grow with HubSpot’s impressive sales and marketing solutions and even more impressive educational resources. HupSpot has several tools (some paid) to help you cultivate leads and generate sales with using real-time marketing data and automated workflows for your marketing campaigns.

SalesAutopilot (Free to $19/mo) – With email marketing, sales and CRM all rolled into one, SalesAutopilot offers features small businesses need to live and grow online. The helpdesk module lets you automate customer support and you’ll enjoy automating your email marketing with ease without breaking the bank.

Customer Review Management

Google My Business (Free) – Google uses distance and location ranking parameter to deliver improved local search results. If you want to show up in local search you’ll want to set up your Google My Business account, optimize it with photos and accurate data, and get reviews to boost your ranking in search.

Yelp – (Free) – This review site lets any business set up a profile for free and it’s the go-to site for most US consumer when research and new business. Optimize your profile for local search and your Yelp profile can show up in local search results on search engines.

Reputation Loop – (Paid) – This low cost reputation management tool automates the entire process of gathering feedback from your customers and sending the best reviews to the review sites that matter most to your business to build your five-star online reputation.

Business Automation

Zapier – (Free to $125/mo) – This cool tool lets you connect any two Zapier-supported apps and create trigger that automate those little tasks that should get done every day. Integrate with over 500 apps to share data between your accounts or use event-based automation make things happen. You want to automatically create a contact in HubSpot from a new MailChimp subscriber? Done. Automatically. Without you lifting a finger.

IFTTT – (Free) If This Then That is a clever explanation of exactly how this tool automates just about everything you do, both at work and at home. The possibilities are literally limitless, so diving into the possibilities would take way too long but the basics are you create a recipe (IF receipt receive in email THEN add to spreadsheet in Google Drive) and your predefined triggers make a specified action happen. With nearly 250 third-party apps to integrate with you are sure to find ways to make your life easier by automating a few dozen tasks.

Customer Service

Zendesk ($5/agent/mo to $99/agent/user) Designed to enable you to help your customers wherever they are, Zendesk allows for support on any platform with features like team inbox, knowledge base, social, chat, phone, SMS and forum capabilities. Besides being a CRM, if there is a feature you don’t see, you can build your own Zendesk app but chances are you’ll find everything you need.

Groove (Free to $15/mo) – Get all your customer messages in one mailbox whether they come through email, social media or the website support widget. With support ticket assignments to track customer support and private notes to collaborate before responding the customers, Groove makes sure everything is handled. Plus you can create a knowledge library to offer 24/7 self-service support when your business is closed.

Zoho Support – (Free to $25/mo) – Zoho does a lot of things well (CRM, Accounting, etc.) but what they do great is customer support. With one account for all your Zoho apps you can get a lot done integrating all your Zoho tools to work with a full support center you can build for free. You get email, documentation, and a user platform with an unlimited number of support teammates allowed to manage support.

File Storage/Cloud Services

Dropbox – (Free to $15/user/month for Business) – This easy to operate cloud platform allows you integrate and share data, while making it all accessible from anywhere. A cool feature of Dropbox is the ability to share large files or videos with anyone, even people who don’t have a Dropbox account. If any changes are made, they are saved in the shared folder and updated for all users.

Box ($5/user/mo to $15/user/mo) – Securely store, share, and manage all of your files on Box’s cloud platform. You also get online collaboration, mobile and desktop apps, and an easy to use admin console.

Google Drive (Free) – Get access to your files anywhere with cloud storage and securely back up your files, photos, videos and more. Easily share files and photos by inviting others to view, download, or collaborate on any file you want (without sending attachments in emails).

Project Management

Asana (Free to $10/user/mo) – Facilitate team work as you track assignments and goals while managing projects that involve multiple people. Each individual get their own workspace that includes projects, and each project has tasks and a place for users to add comments, photos, and notes. Track projects with graphs or give a pat on the back by “liking” an accomplishment.

Trello – (Free to $9/user/mo for Business Class) – Organize your projects and tasks on virtual boards with cards for each goal, project, task, or assignment that you can easily move around. Visualize all aspects of projects at a glance with digital index cards that store notes, checklists, files, and photos you can assign or share.

Basecamp (Free to $79/mo with clients) – Communicate with your team and clients and store files while you manage your projects. This simple tool keeps projects neatly organized with your files contained in your project folders. Plus use handle project templates to get a jump start on getting things done.

Communciation/Collaboration

Slack – (Free to $15/mo) – This has become THE messaging app for teams of all sizes. Organize your conversations with teammates in open channels for transparency or create private channels for sensitive information that are invite-only. You can direct message and use drag-and-drop to share all your files. Completely free forever for small teams, Slack is pretty popular so there is a good chance that it integrates with a lot of the other tools you are using.

HipChat – (Free to $2/mo/user) – This simple tool give you group and private chat, file sharing and integration with a lot of the programs you already use. Built for business, this team chat app gives you video calling, private chat and screen sharing on a secure and safe platform. Plus, with notifications, API’s, and integrations with over 80 apps and services you will always know what is going on.

Google Hangouts (Free) – Google has a bunch of free tools you should be using or at least checking out: Google Analytics probably the most important). Google Hangouts is their free tool for messaging, voice calls and video chat. Have one on one video conversations or group chats up to 100 people and through in some maps, pictures, emojis and GIFs while you’re at it.

Skype (Free to $2/user/mo for Business) – You know Skype. Call, video chat or send messages to anyone, just about anywhere. They don’t even have to have a Skype account for you to reach them. Skype integrates with your Microsoft Office apps for meetings and collaboration.

Invoicing

PayPal (Free to invoice – 2.9% + $0.30 per payment received) – PayPal has designed a business solution that lets you invoice and get paid in just a few simple steps. Email an invoice and get paid on your website, in your store, in your app, or even on your phone.

QuickBooks (Small Business $10/mo to $24/mo) – As the most popular accounting software for small business, you can find QuickBooks both online and for purchase a desktop version. If you have an accountant, he probably prefer you work in QuickBooks where your invoicing will be all in one neat package when it comes time for taxes.

FreshBooks ($13/mo to $80/mo) – Especially nice for small, service-based businesses such as event coordinators, consultants, and beauticians, FreshBooks is a great platform if you don’t have inventory as its focus is on invoicing and making it easy for your customers to pay you online. Try their Free Invoice Creator to see what it will look like.

Visual Marketing/Design

Canva (Free to per image costs) – Not only is Canva an online image editor, but you can also create visual media of all sizes from business cards to posters. Where you will find it most useful is in creating images for your online sites and accounts such as banners, blog images, and social media profile backgrounds.

Pablo (Free) – The people over at Buffer offer an easy way to create images for your social media post with Pablo. Super simple, this tool is limited in its variety but you can created images for all your networks right from your Buffer account or separately.

Piktochart – (Free to $39/mo for Pro) – Piktochart makes it easy (or should I say easier) to create infographics for your website and social media promotions.

Landing Pages

LeadPages ($25/mo to $199/mo) – Quickly build landing pages and pop-ups with no coding. In less than five minutes you can create, edit, and deploy a high-converting, mobile responsive web page. Create optin, sales, or webinar pages that integrate with your email service with point and click simplicity.

Unbounce ($49/mo to $199/mo) – You get both a page builder and an A/B testing tool with Unbounce. Design your landing pages and then you can test one version against another to see which one works best.

Social Media Management

Buffer (Free to $250/mo) – Drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time by adding updates and articles to your Buffer queue that are posted on your chosen social networks throughout the day at the best time.

Hootsuite (Free to $10+/mo) – Manage your social media presence all in one spot with Hootsuite. Add multiple social media accounts and schedule post for the best time of day for each network.

Sprout Social ($59/mo to $500/mo) – Designed to help businesses fid new customers and grow their social presence this social media management tool does a lot. Smart Inbox brings all your messages from all your profiles into one mailbox and you can set monitoring on keywords that is delivered into your Smart Inbox.

SEO

MozBar (Free) – This SEO toolbar for Google Chrome give a quick overview of a page’s SEO metrics like page authority, domain authority, and inbound links. Create custom searches and see how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword.

Ahrefs ($79/mo to $399/mo) – The best in the biz, Ahrefs is the top link analysis tool you can find. With a host of up-to-date SEO tools, you benefit from historical background data dated back five years for a comprehensive look at a web page. Use the site explorer and rank tracker tools, and get crawl reports and alerts.

Yoast – (Free) – If you have a WordPress website, you have to use the Yoast SEO plugin. Not only does it optimize you content to rank higher in search, it also has useful features like sitemap submission and the ability to export to an existing WordPress blog.

 

BONUS! Use this free Local Score grader below to search the most important business listings and customer review sites to see where your business’s online presence is working hard for you and quickly find where you can make improvements.


What’s Your Local Score?

Enter any business name and zip code and see how you show up on directories.

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Best Small Business Tools for 2016 appeared first on Reputation Loop.

from Reputation Loop http://ift.tt/1OtT7wJ
via IFTTT From Our Associates at Reputation Loop

Top Blog Posts on Reputation, SEO and Local Search in 2015 – Our Most Shared Content

 

This week I really wanted to share with you our top blog posts of this year.  It’s been an exciting year for us at Reputation Loop as we’ve grown and given our clients and partners new and expanded tools to help them grow. With that, every week we work to publish a new posts with information that can make a real impact on your small business.

That’s over 50 post a year written just for you!

I encourage you to take a look back through the blog to learn how to improve your online presence and marketing, while increasing your productivity and effectiveness. Or just click around and see if you missed any posts that will answer any questions you have about Reputation Loop, Online Customer Reviews, SEO, Reputation Marketing, or just running your small business better.

To avoid any aimless wandering, I’d like to give you quick links to the most shared content in 2015 to start with.

ReputationLoop.com’s Top Blog Posts of 2015

local SEO ranking HEADER

Local SEO Ranking Influence – Rank Quicker without Backlinks    

  • Conversions
  • SEO Beyond Backlinks
  • Know Where You Stand with a Local SEO Audit
  • Optimization
  • Customer Reviews
  • Schema Markup

 

increase_local_search_visibility_HEADER

Website Pages that Increase Local Search Visibility       

  • Creating Local Content
  • Optimizing with Keywords, Locations and Services
  • Getting on Page 1 of Search Results
  • 11 Website Pages You Can Add to Increase Local Visibility

Improve Online Presence 2016 SMB Reputation Loop

Improve Your Online Presence for 2016 – SMB Guide   

  • Find Out Where You Stand
  • Business Listings Management – A Necessity
  • More and Better Customer Reviews
  • Optimize Everything for Local Search

Business Lisitngs H1 Reputation Loop

The What Why and How of Business Listings and Citations        

  • Why Local Citations and Business Listings are So Important
  • More Than a Name – Your Business Listings are Your Online Business Card
  • The Best Way to Manage Your Business Listings

Beating Competition Local Search HEADER

Beating the Competition with Local Search Engine Optimization

  • Optimize Your Web Pages and Listings for Local Search
  • Be SUPER Mobile Friendly
  • Create a 5 Star Online Presence Putting Reviews Where They Count
  • The Importance of Citations and Business Listings

best_appointment_setting_software

Best SMB Appointment Setting and Booking Software

Working in the service industry, freelancer or consultant means you need to keep a tight schedule, track billable hours and have your employees where they need to be. Make your life easier, your business more productive, and customers happier with easier ways to schedule and pay with one of these top rated appointment and booking software applications.

5-step-reputation-marketing-reputationloop

Reputation Marketing in 5 Steps             

  • What is Reputation Marketing
  • Create a System for Gathering Feedback
  • Build a Five-Star Reputation
  • Manage Your Online Presence
  • Market Your Five-Star Reputation
  • Monitor Your Online Presence

customer_reviews_repuationloop

The Wrong Way to Get Customer Reviews         

  • Customer Reviews – Are You Doing It All Wrong?
  • How to Get the Reviews that Drive Customers to You
  • Make Customer Review Management Part of Your Marketing Plan
  • Automate Your Customer Review Management
  • Don’t Be Shy
  • Make Leaving A Review Easier

Top Apps Local Search HEADER

Top 10 Apps for Mobile Local Search and Reviews

Local search and review apps are leading customers to your door because consumers now turn to their mobile devices and apps to solve their everyday problems. With over a billion downloads these top 10 apps should be in the sights of all small business owners.

25 Blogs for Small Business Header

25 Blogs Small Business Owners Should Be Reading

With the thousands and thousands of business blogs out there, you might benefit from some suggestions on which blogs can really make an impact on your small business. Here are 25 blogs that successfully provide the information a small business owner or marketer needs. Whether you seed education or inspiration, spend time on the right blogs to make a real impact on your business.

social_media_tools_header

8 Social Media Tools for Small Business Marketing

See the top social media tools to manage, engage, market and prospect. Get a breakdown on what each tool does and how much it costs. Build your brand awareness, market to your target customers, and find leads that WANT to convert.

Why Online Reputation Matters Small Business

Why Online Reputation Matters to Small Business

  • The Importance of Creating a Positive Web Presence
  • The Benefits of Online Reputation Management
  • What a Small Business Can Do to Build a Positive Online Reputation
  • Monitor Your Online Reputation
  • Get More and Manage All Online Reviews
  • Build a Search Engine Optimized Website
  • Get Established on Social Media
  • Blog Content that answers your target audience’s questions

header

Infusionsoft User? Reputation Loop Announces Integration with Infusionsoft

  • Comprehensive Marketing Automation with Infusionsoft and Reputation Loop
  • Why Ratings and Reviews are More Important Today
  • Leveraging the Power of Infusionsoft and Reputation Loop
  • Build a 5 Star Online Reputation and Grow Your Business

There you have it. The Best of the Best.

I write these blog posts to give you informative content and actionable steps to better your small business, so YOUR input is necessary. At Reputation Loop we value your opinion and appreciate your participation in these conversations. We’d really love for you to stick around for next year! So please leave a comment, ask a question, and let me know your thoughts.

What did you enjoy about the blog over the past year?

What would you like to see more of in 2016?

Oh! And bookmark this blog so you can come back next week for an EPIC POST on the dozens of tools (free and premium) every small business can use to do anything and everything better.

 

BONUS! Use this free Local Score grader below to search the most important business listings and customer review sites to see where your business’s online presence is working hard for you and quickly find where you can make improvements.


What’s Your Local Score?

Enter any business name and zip code and see how you show up on directories.

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Top Blog Posts on Reputation, SEO and Local Search in 2015 – Our Most Shared Content appeared first on Reputation Loop.

from Reputation Loop http://ift.tt/1YzDoao
via IFTTT From Our Associates at Reputation Loop

Your New Digital Marketing Strategy – 40+ STATISTICS to Guide You

Statistics to Influence Your New Digital Marketing Strategy

You’ve got a New and Improved Marketing Plan!

New Year’s Day you’re rolling out a Fresh and Innovative Digital Marketing Strategy!

Your team has a copy of the plan in hand. You Did It!

Right? No?

Not everyone shouts from the roof in bold print and exclamation points about their digital marketing plans, but if you want to grow your business you need to be giving your digital marketing strategy some serious thought and planning. It’s time to dig into your analytics and reports to figure out how to split up your marketing budget between traditional and online marketing for next year. Ask yourself:

  • What worked in 2015?
  • What was a bust?
  • What are your peers and competitors doing to succeed where you failed?
  • What digital marketing tactics are going to improve your digital marketing strategy?

There are a lot of online avenues leading prospects and customers to your business and strategizing for the twists and turns of the buyer’s journey can be a challenge. You’ll get the best ROI by spending more budget where your target audience hangs out and where you competitors are having the most success. As new technologies and search methods change how customers find you, so must the tools and tactics you use to give them the information they want, the way they want it.

Here are eye-opening digital marketing statistics to help inspire and guide a new digital marketing strategy that helps you reach new customers and encourage lead-converting action online.

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

1.  Online search engines are now a more trusted source for general news and information (64 percent) than traditional media (62 percent).  2015 Edelman Trust Barometer

Search Engines More Trusted

2.  Changing algorithms topped the list of challenges marketers face when it comes to SEO, with budget constraints and keyword management second and third respectively.  — Ascend2 2015 Search Engine Optimization Survey

Obstacles to SEO Success

3.  Search results enhanced with rich media such as star reviews and author images appearing farther down the page outperform standard links in position one.  In this study the target site received, on average, 61% of clicks when enhanced with rich media in position 2 compared to 48% of clicks to a non-rich media result in position 1, a lift of 13%.  — Blue Nile 2015 Research Study

Rich Snippets Outperform

4.  Buyers need thorough contact information to make informed purchasing decisions. Survey data shows that a lack of thorough contact information will cause buyers to leave a website as well as reduce the vendor’s credibility in the eye of the buyer. – 2015 B2B Web Usability Report

 

Video Marketing

5.  Four times as many online consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Additionally, 80 percent of them consider product videos to be important in the purchasing process. – 2015 Animoto Online and Social Video Marketing Study

Video Marketing Statistics 2015

6.  Whereas only 14 percent of consumers remember the last display ad they’ve seen, 80 percent can recall the video ads they’ve watched online in the last week. Digital Content Next

 

7.  Nearly half of today’s marketers believe video is their most effective form of content while also being the most difficult to create. Ascend2 Content Marketing Trends Survey

Video Marketing Cheat Sheet

8.  Customer testimonials (51 percent), tutorial videos (50 percent) and demonstration videos (49 percent) have been the most effective types of video marketing tactics for which marketers are seeing positive results.Ascend2 Content Marketing Trends Survey

 

Reputation Marketing

9.  A recent local consumer review survey found:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews (vs. 88% in 2014)
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews (vs. 29% in 2014)
  • Star rating is #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business
  • 44% say a review must be written within 1 month to be relevant
  • Only 13% of consumers consider using a business that has a 1 or 2 star rating
  • 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more (vs. 72% in 2014)
  • Consumers are becoming more concerned about fake reviews — BrightLocal 2015 Local Consumer Review Survey

92 Percent Consumers Read Online Reviews

Star Rating No1 Factor Reputation Loop

10.  Half of small businesses have seen listings for their business that are not accurate and 49% never update their local listing. –Constant Contact

 

11.  50% of potential sales are lost because consumers can’t find information they are looking for. – Online Marketing Institute

 

12.  90% said that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision and 86% of these respondents said that negative reviews also influenced their buying decision. Of surveyed respondents who shared a negative experience online, 45% posted their comments on social media while 35% posted on a review site. When the surveyed group was segmented, an astounding 100% of the participants who earn more than $150K or more a year said they shared their negative customer service experience with others. –ZenDesk Study

Influence of Online Reviews

13.  A business with 1-5 reviews and 10 photos sees 200% more user views than a business with the same number of reviews and zero photos.

Yelp Rating distribution for reviews as of September 2015:

  • 5 Stars: 43%
  • 4 Stars: 24%
  • 3 Stars: 11%
  • 2 Stars: 8%
  • 1 Star: 14% — Yelp Factsheet

 

14.  82% of users visit review sites because they intend to buy a product or service. 89% of those users make a purchase within a week:

  • 7% within an hour
  • 28% within a day
  • 39% within a few days
  • 15% within a week
  • 9% within a month –Nielsen

Content Marketing

15.  According to the 2015 Content Marketing Benchmark Report:

  • 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago, even those who say they are least effective (58%) and those without any type of strategy (56%).
  • Once again, infographics was the tactic that had the greatest increase in usage (from 51% last year to
  • 62% this year).
  • 58% of marketers use search engine marketing, making it the paid method used most often to
  • promote/distribute content (they also say it’s the most effective paid method).
  • Content marketing now makes up 31 percent of our respondents’ marketing budget. Content Marketing Institute 2015 Content Marketing Benchmarking Report

Content Marketing Challenges 2015

16.  By 2017, content marketing and native ad budgets will grow 59 percent and 46 percent respectively; potentially outpacing search and social budgets. –PulsePoint and Digiday 2015 Report

 

17.  91.4 percent of all marketers use customer data in their content marketing strategy. – Content Marketing Association 2015 Industry Report #2

Content Marketing B2B vs B2C

18.  More than three-quarters of today’s mobile marketing campaigns employ location targeting, with the ads also focusing on user’s search behavior and interests. — xAd 2015 Global Location Snapshot

 

19.  According to results from the “Marketing Automation Strategy Survey,” 65 percent of marketers believe that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of campaigns, however, a lack of in-house expertise looms as their most challenging obstacle to overcome. –Ascend2 Marketing Automation Strategy Survey

 

A lot of information to take in but the important thing to remember here is you have to plan to succeed. Reach as much of your target audience as possible. Optimize for search and social, monitor engagement, and make improvements as needed. When you commit to a quality across the board – product, customer service, customer experience, content – and allocate digital marketing spending across channels appropriately, you can’t fail.

Automating your marketing needs to be a priority if you want to ramp up your business in the coming year. Marketing automation tools like Infusionsoft (which integrates with Reputation Loop) and LeadSquared allow you to automate repetitive task. Now you can simplify managing the complexities of executing effective marketing efforts for your small business. This allows you to reduce human error while also measuring and optimizing your marketing efforts as you get organized, create marketing campaigns and funnels, and supercharge your email marketing.

Reputation Loop has an arsenal of powerful Reputation Marketing and Management features that build a 5-Star online presence by allowing you to:

Manage your online business listings to establish accurate directory listings and name, address, and phone number (NAP) across the leading sites, maps and apps so your business is found everywhere your customers are looking.

Initiate the automated feedback loop to easily to reach out and follow up with recent customers to gather feedback and encourage reviews.

Use intelligent review routing to filter and follow up with customers who leave positive feedback – directing them to your choice of rating and review sites while capturing potentially negative feedback promptly.

Monitor your reputation by finding customer feedback and online reviews and instantly adding them to the feedback dashboard that shows your overall feedback score and online ratings average, and notifies you of new ratings or reviews.

Filter customers to quickly segment customers by feedback star rating and send them special offers or notifications to reward your best customers and improve customer relations.

Promote your brand by sharing feedback and reviews on all your major social media accounts.

Don’t know what business information is showing when search engines and customers are looking at your business online? Use a free tool like the Local Score grader below that will search the most important business listings and customer review sites to let you know where your business’s online presence is shining bright and where you can implement a plan for improvements in 2016.


What’s Your Local Score?

Enter any business name and zip code and see how you show up on directories.

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Your New Digital Marketing Strategy – 40+ STATISTICS to Guide You appeared first on Reputation Loop.

from Reputation Loop http://ift.tt/1lSbQM4
via IFTTT From Our Associates at Reputation Loop

Online Marketing Strategies You Should Be Using in 2016

The headline for this post is “Online Marketing Strategies You Should Be Using in 2016” but that is because “Online Strategies You Should Have Been Using in 2015, but It’s Not Too Late to Start for 2016” was way too long. No new technological breakthroughs revealed here.  But its time to revisit what worked for you in 2015 and how you can improve and do more with your marketing to grow your business.

5 Online Marketing Strategies you need to Add or Improve This Year

Content Marketing

Content marketing focuses on creating, distributing, and promoting relevant quality content to attract and retain your targeted audience with the goal of driving profitable action from customers and prospects. Basically, giving customers the content they are looking for so that when they choose to buy, they buy from you.

Here are two great things about content marketing:

  1. You can keep top of mind with your customers without pushing the hard-sell all the time.
  2. It creates keyword rich and index-able content for search engines to give people on their search engine results pages.

Sharing educational, interesting and industry-specific information keeps your audience engaged. Finding the right balance between informing (or entertaining) your audience and pushing your own services or product might be a difficult to pinpoint but just remember that less is more. The 80/20 rule will help you create an effective balance of 80% helpful to the customer and 20% promotional for your business.

lead generation content dollarsIf customers feel they are getting relevant, timely and quality content, they will easily tolerate the occasional plug for your products or services. Then when time comes to make a buying decision your business will be right there in the front of their mind as the best choice.

Content Marketing Institute (contentmarketinginstitute.com) has a content marketing beginner’s guide that has about a dozen articles that will help you master content marketing quickly.

Reputation Marketing

Almost everyone is searching online to research and make purchases – research says over 95%. What customers can find about you online makes up your online reputation. You control a lot of your online reputation by what you create and post online, but customers have a lot of power in shaping how your business is perceived online with the ability to post (anonymously even) reviews, comments and complaints on review sites, social media, and complaint sites.

consumer-online-research-reputation-marketingManaging your online reputation isn’t something you can get around to later. Creating and maintaining a stellar online reputation that attracts new customers using your positive reviews is called Reputation Marketing. With 90% of consumers saying their buying decisions are impacted by positive reviews, there is an obvious need for your business to actively collect reviews, get them posted where your customers look for products and services, and monitor what is showing up online. Automate this process with reputation marketing services, and you’ll have a system that creates conversions with little work from you.

SEM or Search Engine Marketing

Often confused for one another or combined, traditionally SEM and SEO are not really the same thing. There are some blurred lines here, but search engine marketing usually pertains to paid search activity such as ads (think Google AdWords) and search engine optimization refers to on-page and off-page activities targeted at organically ranking high in search engine results.

When talking SEM and paid search advertising, you’ll hear these Paid Search Terms:

  • PPC – Pay Per Click or Pay Per Call
  • CPC – Cost Per Click
  • CPM – Cost Per Thousand Impressions

KissMetrics.com has a very indepth and informative tutorial on setting up a AdWords campaign that helps it all make sense.

I know… we talk about SEO a lot and how it’s a free or low cost way to get your business ranking high on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) so customers can easily find you. But don’t forget that paid ads have prominent placement on that first page of SERPs as well. If you have the budget to get your business links in this prime real estate, in front of a targeted audience using your selected keywords, you should look to add SEM to your marketing plan immediately.

Video Marketing

Finding the exact information you are looking for online is pretty fast and simply nowadays with how powerful and intuitive search engines have become. But do you know what is even faster and easier than reading an article or blog post from your search results? Watching a video that gives you the information you are looking for.

Even thousands of videos are posted on YouTube every minute, it is still a less crowded than the article based information that has clogged up the internet. And with video results showing up in search results you will have way less competition for your long tail and location based keywords since many local competitors are not doing videos. Plus, social media loves videos and what better content to post than your own videos.

video-mareting-digital-smbCreating videos can be fast and simple so don’t over-complicate things. Create short tutorials, turn your blog posts into videos, create a video blog that answers frequently asked questions, have customers record testimonials, or simply show customers your store, clinic, warehouse or facilities and the amazing people that work there.

Get More Social (To Engage, Not to Sell)

You’ve probably upped your social media game, and probably didn’t see the ROI you were hoping for. But if your social media efforts came up short, you might be using the wrong measuring stick. Making an actual sale on social media websites is a pretty tough thing to accomplish so what you really need to concentrate on is building relationships and creating the social signals that customers are looking for when they decide who to buy from.

Social Media Use reputation loopCustomers want to be heard and they also want to know what’s going on with the companies they do business with. Social media gives you the opportunity to have these interactions and develop stronger relationships with your customers while enticing prospects to connect with you online.
Don’t know what business information is showing when search engines and customers are looking at your business online? Use a free tool like the Local Score grader below that will search the most important business listings and customer review sites to let you know where your business’s online presence is shining bright and where you can implement a plan for improvements in 2016.


What’s Your Local Score?

Enter any business name and zip code and see how you show up on directories.

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Online Marketing Strategies You Should Be Using in 2016 appeared first on Reputation Loop.

from Reputation Loop http://ift.tt/1TCEHyw
via IFTTT From Our Associates at Reputation Loop

Do You Have Dated Testimonials on Your Business’s Website?

Testimonials Build Credibility

Positive word of mouth builds credibility for any business. And that increased credibility in turn helps increase the percentage of deals or sales you make.

However some have noted that testimonial can loose their value:

Testimonials are used so often that they have lost some of their value. Furthermore, prospective customers don’t always trust the truthfulness of testimonials. How do you make your customer testimonials stand out from the crowd and make them more meaningful for your prospects? To create effective, meaningful customer testimonials, they must be:

  1. Authentic
  2. Quantifiable
  3. Specific
  4. Diverse
  5. Approved

Or at least that’s what Susan Gunelius writes in Entrepreneur’s Blog

I would add one more element to that, they should also be timely.

I note that many businesses will put testimonials on their websites as a static posting.  That’s fine for the first 2 or 3 months, but as time goes on, they are quickly dated.

Here’s an example from one website I am familiar with:

com=nnected_home_website_reviews

In this case, there are two Yelp! reviews that date back almost 18 months ago and one Google review that may well have been from 2 1/2 years ago.

A better solution for on site reviews would  be if you could ad code or a widget for WordPress based sites that pulled up the most recent reviews.

A key feature that you would want, of course, would be the ability for it to automatically screen just those reviews that were positive.

And that is just one of the best features of our RepPilot system.

The first goal of RepPilot is to get more positive reviews  posted on the review sites you want to be seen in.  For most businesses this would include Yelp!, Google Maps and any number of additional sites.

RepPilot make getting these reviews easier.

It also helps steer the less good reviews into a feedback system that delivers issues to you directly so you can act on them. RepPilot helps make it more likely the occasional negatives are share only with you and not the public on a review forum.

But the point of this post is that RepPilot makes it possible for your most recent Positive reviews get posted in a dynamic format on your website.

All that is required is posting a simple bit of code on your website, that can be done in minutes.

Thereafter, as you generate new positive reviews they will be posted on your site.

And the good news is that they will not only be timely, they will be authentic, quantifiable,  specific, diverse and approved. All by virtue of your active use of the RepPilot system.

SEO in 2016 – What You Need to Know

SEO is always evolving. What does SEO in 2016 look like?  Algorithms change to outsmart the cheaters and therefore the best practices that you use to optimize your website for search engines will evolve as well. While your business priorities may be the same from this year to the next, remember that search engines are also running a business and will adjust the rules to match their priorities.

Mobile Optimization is the New Standard

So there is SEO, and then there is mobile optimization which we’ve been talking up as its own special thing for the past two years as everyone gets on the mobile train. Now we are moving into a time where SEO automatically includes mobile optimization. Anyone who is working on a platform that is not optimized for mobile should put SEO activities on hold while they get that situation fixed.

You may conduct your business, and build and update your website, on a desktop but customers have gone mobile and your website and marketing need to be as well. So take note, from now on SEO is for mobile and desktop user will be adapting to those advancements in 2016 and beyond. Google pretty much declared outright hatred of sites not optimized for mobile devices and if you haven’t complied with Google’s wishes there is no amount of SEO that is going to help you now.

SERPs will have Lots of Places to Compete for First Page Placement

You know that saying LESS IS MORE? Well Google thinks that more is more and so they continue to cram as much good stuff as possible on page one of their search engine results (SERP). Searchers want it all and they want it now so Google has added exciting elements to SERPs. You’ll want to take advantage of all these opportunities to rank on page one and stand out among the competition: Local Pack, Carousel Results, Knowledge Graphs, and Rich Snippets.

Almost all of your SEO ranking rules still apply, but you will want to pay special attention to three aspects that help you rank high and stand out in search results:

local search SEO 2016Social Media Will Have Greater Influence

For all the talk about social media, we haven’t seen social media activity having a direct influence on rankings. Its indirect role of promoting your website and content is obviously beneficial in increasing traffic is clear. And inbound traffic does influence rankings so don’t stop posting but the future promises a stronger connection between social media engagement and ranking. Pages with more backlinks and less sharing will be outranked by pages with stronger social signals.

Google and other search engines are working harder to incorporate social media in search results, such as relevant twitter posts showing up on page one of Google search results. If it is important enough to take up such important real estate, trusts that Google has put great value in what the Twitter-verse has to say because they believe it is what searchers want to see.

Look for social signals to have a greater influence on search engine results in 2016, but don’t allocate too much time or money to increasing social media activity in the hopes of increasing your ranking. While you can enhance visibility, it may have little effect on rankings and the competition for the one or two social mentions that will show up high in search results will be far beyond the capabilities of a majority of businesses.

Goodbye Local 7-Pack! It’s All About the 3-Pack

Google gave us the local pack (those top seven local businesses, matching your search query and listed with photos, contact info and reviews) which was great, especially if you could get your business in the local pack. But they must have figured out that seven was too many considering most local searches were happening on the small screens of mobile devices because four months ago they snuck out in the middle of the night and changed that 7-pack into the Local 3-Pack worldwide.

Makes sense but it means less opportunity to make the top three and show up in the local pack so that means that working on your local SEO, onsite and offsite, is going to be even more important. Optimizing the right way (meaning the way Google approves of) will boost your ranking so you can still get on the first page even if you aren’t in the Local 3-Pack.

positive_reviews_local_shoppers_online_stats

Smarter Keywords for Smarter Searches

It is almost scary how good search engines have gotten at trying to figure out what we want to search for even when we aren’t sure ourselves. They are correcting our misspelled words, recognizing the meaning behind our queries, and diving our intent before we finish typing the second word in the search box. You can ask a question a question three different ways, with three different keywords and still end up with the same results because Google is pretty sure they know what you meant. So Sarah in Sacramento might get the same results if she puts in “women’s shoes in midtown” and “high heels in midtown.”

So what do you do in 2016? Help Google out by digging in and finding terms and synonyms to your keywords and creating content on your pages that relates to your keywords and their related terms. This is great because it will make you get more specific with your content which needs to happen. The internet is stuffed to over-flowing with generic information pages so the more specific you can be in niche and topic the better your content will rank.

Don’t know what business information is showing when search engines and customers are looking at your business online? Use a free tool like the Local Score grader below that will search the most important business listings and customer review sites to let you know where your business’s online presence is shining bright and where you can implement a plan for improvements in 2016.


What’s Your Local Score?

Enter any business name and zip code and see how you show up on directories.

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post SEO in 2016 – What You Need to Know appeared first on Reputation Loop.

from Reputation Loop http://ift.tt/1MXJkBt
via IFTTT From Our Associates at Reputation Loop