Types of Content That Increase Traffic and Leads

When looking for more effective ways to market your business, you should consider the types of content that increases website traffic and bring in higher quality leads.  According to Content Marketing Institute, 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing and more than half plan to increase their content marketing budget and production over the next 12 months.

content marketing leads traffic

With the growth in content marketing, one of the main obstacles marketers and business owners face is a lack of content creation ideas and resources.  Determining what content you want to create and where you will get it is a stumbling block for many small businesses who lack the resources to hire or outsource a content marketer and strategist.  To scale down your content marketing and make it manageable for your business, creating a simplified content marketing strategy can get you over the hump.

top content marketing challengesCreating a Simple Content Marketing Plan – 5 Step Process

Whether you are addicted to spreadsheets and binders, or live your life in the land of Post-Its and Evernote, the point is to scratch out a simple content marketing plan.  If you can write out, or type out the answers to these five questions, you’ll have a jump off point you can use to produce more effective content.

  1. Determine your business goals for your content marketing efforts (leads, traffic, opt-ins…).
  2. Identify your ideal customer.
  3. Look at your sales funnel and determine where your existing content fits and where there are gaps, drawing on an understanding of what type of content work best at each stage.
  4. Identify and calendar what content needs to be produced, for what marketing channel, and the timing of publishing.
  5. Determine the metrics important to your business when considering your goals and put a process in place to collect and measure on reportable metrics.

Once you get this done, you’ll know what types of content your business should create and promote to attract higher quality leads to your website.

4 Types of Content that Increase Traffic and Deliver Quality Leads

This list concentrates on blog content as it is the cheapest and easiest form of content for a small business (with a small budget) to produce. Written in-house or contracted out, blog post feed your marketing across many channels including search engine marketing and social media marketing.  Also, it is builds a strong foundation for all your future content marketing efforts because your written content can be economically repurposed into infographics, videos, podcasts, slide presentations, or even ebooks.

content marketing costs less

Ultimate/Definitive Guides

They say you should do the hardest thing first, so starting us off is the EPIC, ultimate, definitive, comprehensive guide posts.  If you are using these words, you have to deliver some in-depth content because your readers are expecting thousands of words.  That is a lot of work, but if you can do the residual payoff is huge.  Long-form content has the potential to be repurposed whole or in parts in a multitude of ways that could feed your content pipeline for months.

Lists Posts

What’s a list post? Well, you’re reading one.  We started with a little education but really you’re here for the list of 9 content types we promised.  Lists post are everywhere because they work to attract traffic, and they are less work to create.  They are attractive because people like the promise of an easy-to-read and smartly formatted list the can scan.  Picking which parts of the list they want to dive into.  Pack your list with valuable information, and the larger number of points you offer (think 100 Ways to Avoid Paying Taxes) the more popular it will be.

Tools/Resources Posts

Readers believe you are going to save them time or give them an easier way to do things when you use the words “tool” and “resource.”  With the hectic lives we lead, everyone is looking for a tool or resource that will make his or her professional and personal lives better. In writing your post research each tool and let the reader know how they can use it.  Provide useful links that go to a features page, and include the cost in your post so readers won’t have to search only to find it was not in their price range.

Expert Roundups

If you are not scared to reach out to people outside of your circle of influence, then you have to do an expert roundup.

  • Start by picking your niche-specific topic (i.e. “building an email list”)
  • Internet search for experts and their contact information
  • Send ALL of them a short, one-question email asking if they could participate in your roundup (“…doing a roundup post, would be great to get an expert quote, could I get a few sentences one your top tip for building a quality email list by deadline, tons of appreciation…”)
  • Expect that some experts won’t respond (which is why you emailed everyone you could find)
  • Publish the expert responses you did receive in a post

Here is a secret about experts: They are regular human beings, just like you and me, and they love when people call them “Experts.”  That means when you ask for their expert opinion and publish in your post; they like to share it with their network.  Now your post is reaching the audience of the experts and influencers you included in your post.

What Types of Content Are You Going to Create?

Remember that quality content is useful, accurate, and evergreen.  Find out what type of content resonates with your ideal customers and then promote the heck out of it to broaden your reach.  Increased traffic is great, but the real purpose of content marketing is to generate quality leads for your business.  To do that you need quality content, so it all begins here.

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 Types of Content That Increase Traffic and Leads appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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CHECKLIST: Picking the Best Social Media Network for Your Business

“If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail.”

Benjamin Franklin had it right. As a business owner or marketer you need a plan for everything, including how to successfully utilize social media.  Business 101 has you claiming your profiles on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from day-one.  But picking the best social media network for your business isn’t beginner’s marketing.  Without a plan and a well-defined strategy, you end up posting blindly which is a huge waste of time.

Well, no more.  Take advantage of the power of social media and create a social media plan that generates leads and drives traffic to your website and locations.  Without a social media strategy, your business will not deliver an effective message to your audience.   You’ll want to develop a distinct voice, set measurable goals, and create your social media policy so you can build a social media calendar.  However, the first step is figuring out which social networks your business should be concentrating on.

SMB use Facebook Twitter most

Checklist for Determining the Best Social Media Network for Your Business

[  ] Determine your goals.

The best social media network for your business is the one that supports those goals.  For example, If you want to get product photos in front of potential customers then Pinterest might be a better platform for your business and maintaining your Twitter presence can be kept to a minimum.  Some goals you put in your social media plan include:

  • Increasing conversions
  • Building brand awareness
  • Helping customers with relevant content
  • Customer service
  • Reputation management
  • Connecting with influencers
  • Displaying expertise and establishing authority

[  ] Check your website analytics and see which social networks are sending you the most traffic.

Can you see a direct correlation between how active you are on each social network and how much traffic each is sending to your website?

[  ] Determine how much time can you commit to your social media strategies.

The vast majority of small businesses are spending over 6 hours a week on social media.  Time may be the determining factor on which network you will focus on if you only have time for one.

smb time on social media[  ] Dig into the analytics of  your existing social media profiles.

Determine which ones are giving you the best return on investment for not only your ad dollars (if you are advertising) but also for your time spent.  Beyond tracking traffic, pinpoint which social networks are sending you valuable traffic to know where to focus your resources.

[  ] Look at your growth in both engagement and followers across networks.

If you are very active on Twitter and seeing the same growth on the Pinterest profile you check once a month, maybe your content and your business are resonating more effectively in a visual environment.

[  ] Identify industry influencers and check on your local competition.

Your top competitors are most likely on social media. Follow the most successful businesses in your niche on each network and make note of tactics you can copy to grow your presence on social media.

[  ] Define your target audience and know where to find them on social media.

By developing personas for your audience, you can pinpoint how to meet your audience’s needs.  Check out this highly detailed social media demographics post by SproutSocial to see where your customers are spending their time.

[  ] Consider the manpower and budget needed to create and curate content.

Do you have enough visual content to support promoting your business on Pinterest or Instagram?  Do you have a source for enough B2B or B2C content to keep your profile relevant on LinkedIn?

social media content takes time

[  ] Get feedback from your customers by asking what social media networks they use.

Determine the best social media network for your business by knowing where your customer like to hang out online.  You are having conversations with your customers all the time online, in person, and through emails. Ask the question, and add to surveys you send to your customers to find out their preference.

Determine Which Social Media Networks Work For Your Business

Keep in mind that social media marketing is an Ironman triathlon and not a 100-yard dash.  You can go all in on every social media network out there but by picking one or two you can focus your resources and get tangible results with your social media strategies.  Engage your customer base and find out what they are really thinking while generating leads and sending more traffic to your site with a well-executed plan on the right social media network.

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 CHECKLIST: Picking the Best Social Media Network for Your Business appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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Get More Useful Feedback and Better Reviews – 10 Tips

 

Collecting useful feedback from your customers should be a continuous part of your business process.  Positive or negative, feedback in the form of reviews and comments from real customers give your vital insight into what is working and what is not.

dissatisfied-customers-useful-feedback-and-better-reviewsGetting useful feedback and better reviews is not easy.  It can be downright difficult to get customers to dedicate time to a few questions when dealing with even the best products and providing stellar customer service. So…

How Do You Get More Useful Feedback and Better Reviews from Your Customers?

You know the truth of the matter is people are more inclined to tell about and take action (like leaving a review) a bad experience.  It makes sense when we go through the trouble of buying something to expect our money’s worth.  That includes a product performing as promised and people who are abundantly happy to ease us through the buyer’s journey.  When a business provides that they are simply doing what was expected.  When they fail to meet those baseline expectations, the chances are much higher that the whole world is going to hear about it.

It’s not the end of everything to get negative feedback.  It is actually helpful in pinpointing where you can make improvements.  But we also want to encourage and collect positive and “blah” feedback so the business knows what they can do more of to delight the customers and if their customer service expectations match their customers’.  Here are 10 things you can do to get more useful reviews and better feedback:

1. Be Active on Social Networks and Respond to Customers

With its rapid-fire nature, social media can seem like way too much to add to your overflowing list of things to monitor and act on.  That said, if your customer base is on social media then you need to be as well. Do you NEED a social customer care plan or social media marketing budget?  Probably not, but you should be monitoring mentions of your business on social networks and responding to customers and prospects who are trying to communicate with you online. You’ll get to see the real (and unsolicited) feedback of customers and build deeper connections with consumers who use social media.

2. Monitor Customer Reviews on Relevant Review Sites

On this blog we could (and DO) talk a lot about the importance of generating positive customer reviews and I invite you to scroll through the Reputation Loop blog to learn all about growing your business with a five-star online reputation.  Right now I want to impress upon you how vital it is you encourage customer reviews and make it as easy as possible for customers to give them.  Automating the entire customer review process – from soliciting the review to getting them posted and monitored on the websites where they matter the most – with a low-cost service like Reputation Loops makes the customer review process incredibly easy.  Packed with features, with an email address you can contact customers, get immediate feedback after purchase, personal contact and handle negative feedback, and send happy to customers to post their five-star ratings online.  As a bonus, you get constant monitoring of your online presence and listings so you are seeing the feedback that lets you know what people are saying about your business.

3. Ask “Why?” When Customers Abandon Their Landing Page

With personalized behavioral popups you can select different popups to show on your website depending on how the visitor is clicking around.  One of the most impactful uses is to have an exit popup that ask the site visitor for a little feedback on why they are leaving your website.  Keep it simple with a one-question fill in the blank or multiple-choice selection.  And why not through in a special offer or a one-time discount to keep clicking around while you are popping up.  You’ll increase conversions with the special offer and get feedback on how you can lower your bounce rate and cart abandonment.

Exit Surveys4. Provide Live Chat Support

To a customer, 10 seconds online is like 10 days in real life.  If you have a new customers or prospects visiting your website don’t expect that they will happily spend the time to pick up the phone and ask a question.  Even more farfetched is that they are invested enough in your business to happily send an email that could take hours or days to get a response to.  Give them real-time customer service with live chat support.  Chances are you aren’t State Farm insurance and won’t need 24/7 support, but during your business hours prospects and customers should be able to easily reach a person who can answer a question or two and ease them towards the sale.

5. Make On-Site Feedback Easy with One-Click Email or a Feedback Page

Have a feedback email or webpage dedicated to making it almost too easy for customer and site visitors.  Make this option highly visible on your website so customers who are comfortable on email know just where to go to ask a question or give feedback on their experience.  There are simple website plugins and services like Freedback and Iron Spider you can use to put feedback forms directly on your desired website pages.

Use Online Feedback Forms

6. Use Feedback to Track Customer Service Performance

Gathering customer feedback enables you to track not only customer satisfaction, but the performance of your customer facing employees. A Harris Interactive survey found that 86% of clients quit doing business with a company after a bad customer experience.  When choosing what information, you want to get when from your customers, don’t ignore the importance of the customer’s interactions with your staff.  Useful feedback and better reviews will give you insight on more than just your product and your website.

7. Make Customer Surveys Part of Your Confirmation Page and Emailed Receipts

There are a lot of ways to optimize the confirmation page you customers see after a conversion or the email they receive after making a purchase or opt-in.  Business often use this real estate to encourage social sharing, upsells, and referrals.  All smart ways to drive more conversions, but you are missing an opportunity to get immediate feedback on the customer experience right at the time of purchase.  There is a really good reason to find out why this particular person made their purchase and the right time is when they are still in the buyer’s cycle.

8. Prominently Display Review, Ratings, and Testimonials on All Pages

Build customer confidence and encourage feedback by displaying the feedback you already have on your website in the form of reviews and testimonials.  There are plugins and software like Reputation Loops reputation management software you can use to create attractive displays of your best feedback on your heavy traffic pages in just a few clicks.  Automated software and widgets keep your website reviews fresh and show customers the importance you place on their feedback.

Display Reviews on Website9. Proactively Call Your Customers

When you want the truth, you go to the source.  A phone call to your customer is a surprisingly effective way to show your dedication to the customer experience while getting firsthand (and more thorough) feedback.  Answering a few questions over the phone is easier than typing a response.  In addition, you will have the benefit of hearing and noting the customer’s tone as another gauge of their satisfaction with your business.

10. Humanize Your Customers Journey

People like to do business with people they can trust.  When your website and customer service are mechanical and impersonal, customers have a hard time making the connections that encourage loyalty and repeat business.  When you add the human touch to every stage of the buyer’s cycle customers feel more confident about interacting with a real person.  Make sure your brand has a personality that lets customers know that there is a person who cares about their experience and wants to hear their feedback.

 

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 Get More Useful Feedback and Better Reviews – 10 Tips appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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The New Google SERP Layout – Local Search Impact

As of February 19, there is a new Google SERP layout for desktop searches. With this new desktop format Google search engine results pages will no longer show AdWords text ads on the right hand column of your search results pages. If you haven’t noticed, Google anything from your desktop and you’ll see a much less cluttered SERP page. Now Google your industry in your city and you’ll really notice a difference in the layout.

Google Search’s desktop users will now see that the side text ads have been removed and this space is now reserved for product listing ads (PLA) and knowledge graph boxes.

OFFICE PHONE SERP RESULTS

The new look of Google’s desktop SERPs layout and what it means to local search visibility.

No Side Text Ads Means Higher Cost and Less Impressions for AdWords Campaigns – Probably

It seems ugly and cut-throat but this isn’t the end of AdWords for small budgets – remember that less than half of all searches happen on desktop computers. Presumably businesses using AdWords will see a marked rise in competition (and presumably price) for paid ad space. An impact that might be huge for CPC (cost-per-click), especially for smaller businesses, as ads are now limited to up to four spots above organic search results in general searches and one (or none) above the Local Pack on local results pages.

It’s not all bad though. With the new layout comes more native looking ads, meaning they blend well with organic results. Additionally, there are also up to the three ad spots at the bottom of the first page of SERPs on desktops where you can use the location and sitelink extensions like top of page ads for more robust and clickable ads if you are using paid search.

Getting Into the Local Pack Is the Best Way to Be Seen – Desktop or Mobile

With this new change, the Local Pack remains atop local search results. But remember that back in August 2015 the Local 7-Pack became the Local 3-Pack. So you have three chances to get your business at the top of the first search results page where it matters most. This shouldn’t be your full strategy for competing in the new SERP desktop layout, but rather one of the tactics you should incorporate into your SEO. Mobile search has a tremendous impact on customers finding your business, and the Local 3-Pack shows up in both mobile and desktop results so getting in there is a game changer for any local business.

Since the Local 3-Pack is effected by the location of the user and/or the locator specified in the search query the best way to rank high is to localize your SEO, optimize your Google My Business page and get as many five star reviews as you can posted.

Local 3 Pack SERPRanking No. 1 in SERPs is More Important than Ever – Kinda

There may well be larger impact on organic (unpaid) search for small business and local results as businesses compete to stay above the fold and visible without scrolling down. What use to be No. 1 in organic search results is now No. 4 of ad space on SERPs with the full four allowed ads. That means that on desktops search the top organic search result may be the only one that shows up above the fold. If the user is on a tablet, there is a good chance the No. 1 organic result won’t be seen at all without scrolling down.

It seems Google has been chipping away at the limited space given to organic search results forever. The keep adding features to “enhance” search, but if you aren’t ranking in images, videos, ads, news or the local pack your business is not benefitting from these enhancements. But… if your SEO game is as diversified as it should be organic search results is not the only place your business is ranking high.

If you are new to (or struggling with) Local SEO – Reputation Loop has informative resources to help break it down and give you steps to take to get your business ranking higher in local search:

 

OK… The New Google SERP Layout is Here… What Do You Do Now?

If you feel like giving up on SEO, get that out of your head immediately. Search results are still a major contributor to the health of your business so if anything now is the time to step up your focus on SEO. Google keeps most of the “WHY” of the things they do a secret but the data is out there so we can make some “best guesses” on what is important to Google and not.

MOZ LOCAL RANKING FACTORS2One of the best-guessers out there MOZ and they are quick to share what information they have to help the rest of out. The graphic above borrowed from their 2015 Search Ranking Report should serve as your local ranking cheat sheet on where you should get started with your local SEO efforts to show up higher in the new Google SERP layout.

 

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 The New Google SERP Layout – Local Search Impact appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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Handling Negative Reviews by Creating a Process

As a business owner you can do everything in your power to ensure that your customers have a great experience but sooner or later it will happen… you WILL eventually receive a negative review posted online about our business. So when thinking about handling negative reviews of your business the question you have to answer is not “What if I get a bad review?”, it is “How do I handle things WHEN I get a bad review?”

What are you going to do when you get that first 1-star review? Negative reviews don’t only hurt emotionally. They have a direct impact on the trust consumers have in your business. It is essential that you have a system in place to handle negative customer reviews in a professional manner. Even one bad review on a popular review site can have a negative effect on your business, but an appropriate and timely response can lead to positive results.

Your 4-Step Guide to Creating a Process for Handling Negative Reviews

Before you tackle the sensitive subject of someone bad-mouthing your business online, there is one very important thing you have to do: Keep your personal emotions and feelings separate from the business of handling business. Whether right or wrong, a jerk or a great person who came by your business on their worst day, you can’t treat a negative review like a personal attack. You will not be able to respond appropriately. You have to set your mind to see the good in bad reviews and tackle this problem like any other business hurdle.

Step 1: Designate a person responsible for monitoring and responding to negative reviews

If not you, who can you trust to watch your online reviews and provide a prompt and empathetic response online and (if given the opportunity) directly to dissatisfied customers. This person needs to be able to present a sincere apology for the customer’s less-than-stellar experience without being aggressive or combative. Additionally, they must know enough about your business to be able to address the complaint and explain what has been done to correct the problem or how customer’s experience could have been better. To monitor online reviews businesses can use Review and Reputation Management software such as Reputation Loop to intercept unsatisfied customers before they post online and receive notifications when new reviews for their business show up online.

Step 2: Know the rules for responding to negative reviews for the review sites that matter most

Depending on your industry, there are going to be review sites that your customers use the most to find businesses like yours. You’ve already claimed your business page and filled out your profile in its entirety (and if you haven’t – do it now!) so read their guidelines on how you can be notified of reviews and how you can respond to customers as part of those reviews. For example, Yelp allows private messaging and public responses on review posts.

yelp handling negative reviewsGoogle allows you to respond to reviews from your Google My Business account with just a few clicks. Your response will be posted publicly as a comment from your business.

google handling bad reviews

Step 3: Compose a standard response that can be filled in to customize for handling negative reviews

You want to create a response with future customers in mind. Taking ownership of the issue and letting prospects know that your customers are important to you can turn a bad review into a good thing for your business. Writing a fill-the-blank response now, before you get a negative review, lets you create a professional and business-like response before your emotions are involved. Plus, it ensures that the most important things you need to say (the apology, how much you care about the customer experience, and how you can make it right) aren’t forgotten.

An apology and appreciation for their time in visiting your business and posting the review can go a long way in restoring any trust that has been lost. Remember that a bad review is an opportunity to post a response that will positively influence future customers towards trusting your business.

Step 4: Respond promptly to negative reviews and watch for reviews referring to the post

Removing negative reviews can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. But you aren’t helpless! There are two things you can do to lessen the impact of a negative review:

  • Respond quickly in a way that lets readers know what to expect from your business.
  • Gather more positive reviews to drown out the one negative review.

Knowing the importance online reviews to your business, the person responsible for monitoring and responding to reviews should waste no time in posting a response to a fresh negative review sitting at the top of your review page. When the next person looks at your business on the review site make sure they are more influenced by your response than the negative review. A lot of times a negative review will prompt loyal customers to leave a review stating how awesome their experience was in contrast. But if you see a pattern of dissatisfaction then know there are issues that need to be addressed.

buffet quote reputation loop

NOT Having a Review Response Plan is a Mistake

When negative reviews show up online you have an urgent opportunity to reverse the impact of the review. A sincere and empathetic response, coupled with an honest effort to “make it right”, can positively influence future customers by showing your honest human interest in providing an exceptional customer experience. Having a process in place to handle negative reviews lessens the impact of a negative review on you and your business.

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 Handling Negative Reviews by Creating a Process appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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