One of the new advances in internet marketing for local businesses is the push to work with pay per lead (PPL) services. There are benefits and drawbacks to this strategy. Here is a recent page we added to this website which covers the basics of pay per lead companies and whether they are of enough interest to you to warrant further discussion:
I want to thank Greg Smith for the opportunity to contribute a post to his website this week. He was kind enough to let me share some suggestions and thoughts about the merits of incorporating internet marketing for local events, either free to attend or requiring paid ticket admission. Here is the link to the article I posted:
Greg and I share some of the same thoughts about tiered link building, promotion of “Tier 1” properties as standalone landing pages and much more. What this means to you is that, much like most local businesses only care about the phone ringing (or receiving e-mails from qualified prospects), whenever you promote live events you primarily care only about how many people show up to the event/game/show/etc. There are over 20 online marketing methods to get the word out, and some offer you benefit long after the event has concluded.
Should you find the post to interesting then you are welcome to share it or visit more about our event marketing information and consulting here:
One of the biggest challenges of helping clients with their online marketing efforts is to quantify an increase in business. There are several ways to track different online metrics, but the biggest question is:
“Is my phone ringing with new customers (clients)?” Equivalent questions could be:
- “Am I getting more e-mail opt-ins?”
- “Am I getting more people following me on XYZ social media property?”
- “Am I getting more walk-ins to my store?”
- “Am I getting more attendees to my live event?”
- “Are people ordering more from my website?”
The challenge for an internet marketing consultant is to manage expectations from the beginning of the conversation. There is only so much that can be addressed by the marketer who is brought in from the outside, especially if the business does not have an in-house marketing director or other salaried staff member in charge of marketing.
Here is a quick breakdown of topics to discuss with any online marketing consultant or agency when it comes to various ways to make your phone ring:
- Do you have a defined web page (e.g. home page, inner page on your website, YouTube video) to send your prospective audience?
- Is the audience you are trying to reach:
- a first-time prospect who was NOT referred by anyone previously?
- a first-time prospect who was referred by a current customer/client?
- a current customer/client to whom you are asking to purchase something new?
- Do you have a simple, easy to understand request (“call to action”) for this person to follow?
- Is there at least one (or more) method of tracking the activity, including ratios?
- If you are going to use online paid advertising, have you narrowed down the web properties (or search engine keywords) on which your ad(s) will appear? If so, do you have strategies in place to prevent your costs from getting out of control?
- Do you have a method(s) to have this person join one of your lists in case he/she/they do not choose to do business with you at this time?
- If so, what reasons have you given the person to join your list(s) if he/she has not done so already?
- If you are getting targeted traffic to your site, but you are not getting phone calls – or at least joining your list – then what are you going to change first:
- the headline?
- what the emotional benefit (not feature) is that you are offering?
- an appearance change (font style, color, placement of the offer)?
- something else?
- If you are choosing search engine optimization (SEO) as a strategy, where are you ranking right now? For which keywords/phrases? How much of a ranking improvement do you need?
- If your website needs lots of work (on the website + link building to the website), then do you have another web property that you don’t mind ranking on the first page of the search engines in the meantime (aka “Next Best SEO“)?
These are just a few of the questions to discuss in your initial conversations with any SEO agency or internet marketing consultant. If you are interested in getting answers to these questions – and many more – to help you make the phone ring, then you are welcome to contact us. Thank you.
Some business owners throughout the Dallas Fort Worth region truly can serve the entire DFW market and even additional markets. Unlike smaller services which can serve a realistic radius of 5-10 miles (or an even smaller radius), these businesses have a different vision such as:
- there is enough profit margin in the transaction to justify the time and expense to travel to a small town across the DFW Metroplex and conduct business
- the business is so unique, or perceived to be so specialized, that prospective customers across the region want the product, service or other benefits associated with the particular business
- the business can ship products and/or already has representatives near to the smaller towns in DFW
One question is which types of businesses can justify marketing to a wider radius than just the regular small 5-10 mile radius which is common with many local businesses? Another question is how to reach the smaller towns without having to become a member of each local chamber of commerce or placing ads in every newspaper or print publication across the region?
Types Of Businesses Which Qualify
Here is just a short list of the types of businesses which can pursue larger-radius marketing at the DFW level or even state-wide:
- Corporate relocation services
- Specialty legal and financial services
- Industrial products
- Higher end home improvement services (e.g. interior design, remodeling, etc.)
- Custom home builders
- Higher end home repair services (sewer line installation, etc.)
How To Reach All Of DFW And Beyond
The first thing you need to know is that there are over 200 towns and cities which comprise the DFW region. This is not just Dallas, Collin, Denton or Tarrant Counties either. The neighboring counties also are included as there can be highly-qualified prospects in the small towns throughout every DFW county.
To narrow down the options of how to reach these people, and do so in a budget-sensitive manner you have a few options:
- TV ads — obviously you must be hyper-vigilant about your budget and any tracking you can generate here
- Same with radio ads
- Classified ads are a great way to get exposure. Be sure to optimize your ads to include the towns and cities which you serve; and be sure to play nice by the terms of service and posting rules for the various online classified ads you intend to use
- Direct mail targeting specific neighborhoods in specific zip codes. A good mailing list broker, who can highly target your prospects across the region, would be a very wise investment here
- Paid press release distribution can be beneficial, especially if you mention specific towns in your content
- Pay Per Click (AdWords) is a smart way to start. You can target each specific town, but you want to send the traffic to optimized (town-specific) landing pages on your website. Also, be sure that there is some sort of benefit easily visible to the prospective customer and a “call to action” (e.g. “call today” or “download this coupon”)
- Note that there are other pay-per-click services besides Google AdWords, Yahoo’s advertising, and Bing’s advertising services. Please contact us for these alternative options where your competition may not be advertising
- For business-to-business (B2B) advertising in the Dallas Fort Worth region you may consider targeted advertising within LinkedIn
- You can do demographic-based targeted advertising, especially town by town, in Facebook. Just note that:
- depending on the devices your prospects use, you may not get complete exposure on Facebook to those using mobile devices
- you likely will have a higher conversion rate if you send the traffic to a page you control within Facebook. Most Facebook users don’t like to be led automatically off of Facebook at first, so consider sending the traffic to Facebook page you control regularly which has consistently-updated benefit-laden content (coupons, discounts, helpful tips, entertaining videos, etc.)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is one of the trickier, but possibly soundest ways to get hyper-targeted prospects. You can have created for you a multi-niche website (or a blog which resides alongside your website) which has town-specific optimized pages. Ideally, the content on each of the 200+ towns is unique including article content, images, any embedded videos, etc. Just so long as the combination of text/images/videos is unique you should be good, especially for phrases people type in which may have relatively low competition in the search engines.
The latter option (the blog/website with town-optimized pages) gives you additional benefit. For example, here is a website which has town-optimized pages for varying business niches. Here is one for a series of highly-related niches. And here is a site with optimized pages for just one niche.
The benefits here are:
- That you can control specific content for each town or city in which you want to market. For example, if you want to give coupons in one town but not another you can do so
- You have optimized pages to which you can send your pay per click (PPC) traffic such as traffic Google AdWords. This increases the odds of gaining a higher “quality score” for your ads (assuming everything else is done right) and possibly saving money by reducing your per-click costs
- The optimized page could rank well in the search engines for the times when the phrase is entered alongside the specific town (e.g. “your business Plano TX”)
- You even go “deeper” than the specific towns. For example, if you want to offer incentives to people in specific HOA’s or parts of a town then you can do so.
If you would help on any of these topics then you are welcome to contact us with your specific needs. Thank you for your time and consideration to share this post.
I want to thank Debra Pope for the invitation to present to her Networking University members who attended the workshop. It took place in the area of McKinney and Allen Texas on May 14 2013.
During the presentation I covered what is known as “Next Best SEO”. This is where business owners, who simply want the phone to ring with prospective customers or clients, have additional options besides just attempting to rank their respective websites in the search engines. What many of the attendees didn’t realize is that their websites, or ones given them by a corporate office, may – in fact – be violating several of Google’s best practices.
We covered many of the ways in which a business can grow through the use of internet marketing, of which SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) were just a part. We briefly reviewed other online marketing techniques such as video, pay-per-click, press releases, online classified ads, etc.
The attendees also learned that each major search engine is, or is part of, a publicly-traded company; and each wants to make ITS quarterly figures! The goal, then, is to give each search engine’s users the best possible content in a way which is user-friendly, is authoritative and relevant. One way to accomplish this is to rank OTHER web properties – in addition to the companies’ websites – in order to help get the phone to ring. Several examples were included in the presentation.
Four (4) action steps were given at the end of the presentation to help any business begin to improve the chances of receiving a call, e-mail or walk-in from a first-time customer or client by SEO efforts on other web properties. These were labeled also as “promote the promoters” strategies.
Feel free to download this PDF from the workshop:
If you are interested in getting help to promote your website or other web properties which mention you favorably (or otherwise give authority) then you are welcome to contact me.
Thank you again to everyone who attended!
Small to medium-sized businesses in Collin County and North Dallas have an interesting challenge when it comes to marketing their local services and retail locations to those in Plano Texas, which has a population over 250,000. For the most part, the city (located in Collin County) borders on Dallas County; and this can present some challenges for the business owner and their retained marketing teams.
While the audience differs depending on the business owner’s industry, let’s take as generic an example as possible. Since most Plano residents do not use mass transportation, the majority of teenagers and adults who drive cars will need to have their car’s oil changed every few months. Assuming that most people do not, or will not want, to know how to change their oil then there is a demand for this service. How does a new oil change facility, or an established one, gain market share in Plano and from other drivers who are in town?
The Challenges For Those Who Have Not Started Online Marketing Yet
Here are a couple of problems facing the oil change facility new to the area as well as for those who have declined to start online marketing yet:
- With Google Places and Google Local Plus, the challenge becomes when a service has a North Dallas address; but in the real world people from Plano are more likely to become customers. All of the directories listing the business’ address, however, promote Dallas. This can cause some SEO concerns for reaching Plano residents through the search engines
- The fastest way to get exposure is to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to send traffic to a web page. The costs for phrases like “oil change Plano TX” may be cost-prohibitive to the business due to the current amount of competition for that phrase. This does not include any “penalties” assigned by Google should the “Quality Score” (QS) of the page to which you are sending the traffic is not properly optimized to match your ad
- As with all paid advertising, once you stop paying the traffic goes away
- Search engine optimization, especially with the new Google Plus Local and Google Places optimization campaigns, are confusing to most people. SEO, while a fantastic way to get new customers, is a constant game of “leap frog”. If you are able to leap frog a competitor in the search engines then it is possible that, one day, another competitor can leap frog your website
- Video marketing is a great way to get exposure for any local business. The problem is that most business owners treat a YouTube video as a regular “30 second commercial” like they see on TV. In the online world, you must add value to the video viewer; and this is a tougher “shift” in mindset for the business owner than you might realize. Also, there are production costs to factor into the equation
- If you look at many local business videos you will see a glaring problem. A video has been uploaded for 6 months… and it has less than 10 views! You would think that a business owner has at least 10 friends and family members who would watch the video, but this points out a huge concern. Most business owners care about the lighting and graphics on a video… but they have no strategy of how to use that video (once completed) to get the word out about their business
- Online classified ads are great, but many have no marketing skill to create a call-to-action in order to get people to come to the specific oil change location versus that of a competitor
- Not many oil change facilities have social media properties, let alone reasons why a customer would want to join any of them. Most also do not even have an e-mail newsletter with tips, coupons or other incentives to bring in the cars of friends and family
- A press release announcing the store opening, or a new line of service, may not reach your audience due to several factors: timing, the style of writing, how the release is distributed, etc.
As you can guess, there are several challenges faced by local business owners… and this is not to pick on oil change businesses! There are some of these businesses who are using social media and other services tremendously in the area of Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney. I just wanted to give as close to a universal example as possible.
So How Do I Start If I Do Not Have Much Of A Budget Nor Much Technology Know-How To Rank My Website # 1?
This is a great question!
There are a few things which can be done which are inexpensive if you get outside help, and they even are no-cost if you learn how to do them yourself. Depending on your desired new prospects, here are things you can do:
- Use any e-mail marketing service for which you are currently paying. If you have ACT, iContact, Constant Contact or a similar program then take the time to learn how to give value to your customers. If not all of your customers are on your list then do what you can to get their permission to add them to your mailing list. This becomes an “asset” which you control which won’t go away for a long time. Make sure that your e-mails have an “opt out” (unsubscribe) option and are compliant with the CAN-SPAM rules
- If you know that your audience spends time on a particular forum relevant to Plano, Frisco or any of the other North Dallas and Collin County communities then discover what it will take to post helpful tips and answer questions on that forum. Build trust in that forum and have others sing your praises, both online and in the real world
- Have ways to get your customers to leave reviews on websites other than yours. For example, have your happy customers leave positive reviews on AngiesList, Google Plus, Google Places, your Facebook business page, Twitter timeline, Yelp page, LinkedIn and similar services
- Contact me regarding how to set up various alerts and notifications in order to be informed when someone in Plano (or coming to Plano) has posted something indicating a need for your service. You then will have ways to get in touch with that person or company needing your help
- Offer value by promoting an “education” event. For example, the oil change business can take an afternoon once a year and invite new drivers to learn how to check the tire pressure, check their oil, etc. Have the attendees take pictures and videos, and encourage them to share these with their friends
These are just a few of the ways to reach an audience who needs your service without having to go through paid advertising or using search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM). Please note that paid ads and SEO & SEM are, indeed, worth your time. They just have drawbacks and costs like all marketing tactics.
In any local market, there are over 60 methods to reach a prospect who does not know you nor knows any of your current customers. Feel free to contact me to discuss how to customize these methods to come up with a plan that is tailored specifically to your audience and business. From there, we can discuss ways to put into place a customer “retention and referral” program so that a new customer you gain can become a lead source to help you grow your business quickly.
If you are looking to increase top-line revenues for your business then you can do so in a number of ways, primarily by:
- increasing more first-time customers or clients who found you without any referrals
- increasing more first-time customers or clients who were referred to you
- increasing the size of the average transaction per customer
- increasing the number of average transactions per customer
- finding brand new revenues “hidden” within your business or industry
It is that last line item I want to discuss today in order to help you and your business become more profitable. Some of you know that I have a background in the professional independent baseball leagues (some know them as the “independent minor leagues”). I was a bullpen catcher, a player, a team official and a league official; and I maintain a few websites dedicated to various aspects of this subset of the professional baseball industry. Most of these teams are operated by owners and front office staff, as well as league officials, operating under the mindset that, in order to be profitable, the teams primarily must focus on being “local, affordable, family-friendly entertainment.” This model, however, does not work in all markets even when the owners and front office staff members are ethical, hard-working, and dedicated to make their teams successful.
In recent weeks some national attention has been given to these teams which are failing to pay vendors for months, have players living in substandard situations for minimal pay, and others which have to fold their operations due to not selling enough tickets and sponsorships.
When you have a moment, please take a look at any/all of these 3 blog posts:
Inside each of these articles may be some ideas which serve as a catalyst to help you think about new ways in which your specific business can become more profitable.
This website is called MORE THAN SEO, and it was chosen for a few reasons:
- many business owners and executives are being sold “SEO” services multiple times each week, some of which produce questionable results
- these services often keep the business owner “in the dark” and not explain why something is being done
- to be good at SEO requires a mindset that often is different than an executive or owner has; and not conveying why something must be done often causes problems
- SEO is just one way to get targeted first-time customers or clients. Other ways include all forms of online paid advertising, social networks, social news sites, video marketing, and many more
While I love SEO because it suggests a hyper-targeted searcher can find you, it is not the only way to help you increase your profits. Therefore I have to offer more than just SEO, hence the MoreThanSEO.com name.
By the same token, to increase profitability you may have to look at your business’ growth as being MORE THAN JUST getting another customer or client. Here is an example:
If you run a local, hamburger established serving families with young kids then you have to acknowledge that your customers are also likely to grill steaks and burgers at home. While you want them to come to your restaurant 100% of the time they think about red meat, it just won’t happen!
One way to improve revenues in this example is to produce helpful content (e.g. articles, videos, images) which could give tips on grilling techniques. Your chef could suggest a certain type of grill, grilling accessories, or suggestions for the types of plates which help maintain flavor and temperature the best after grilling.
These pieces of content could be distributed to your customers when they show up at the restaurant (QR code invitation, request to join e-mail newsletter, etc.). You also could ask your customers to share the video/PDF/article through their e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels. Embedded in the bottom of that content could be an affiliate (tracking) link where people, anywhere in the country, can click that link and order the suggested item(s). This way friends and family members of your customers who live outside of the area now have an opportunity to put money in your pocket 365 days a year. This is because you would earn a small percentage of their orders before shipping costs. By giving away helpful content which does not harm your premium product/service, you can expand your awareness (leading to first time customers) AND you can start to produce some additional profits for simply directing people to a place to order relevant items.
The above example is similar to suggestions I already have made to several independent baseball team owners. Some of them are starting to understand that they can increase profits, and possibly increase attendance next season, through giving away helpful content. You can read the articles listed earlier and begin to look at your business differently. Obviously, you do not want to minimize your main revenue models; so just borrow principles and ideas from the pro sports world to help you grow your business can help you to complement or supplement your current business model.
Feel free to contact me with your questions. If you want help for your specific business then please contact me through the contact form, and we can arrange a time to help you expand your business with strategies customized to your specific needs and regulations. Thank you for your time and you are welcome to share this post with anyone you know who might find it helpful in some manner.
What A Search Engine Marketing Service In Dallas Should Explain To You
Many local Dallas area business owners complain that they get calls, direct mail postcards, and other solicitations from people “promising to rank them number 1 on the search engines.” These owners often complain that they don’t believe any of what is said, and they stick with (what they believe is) “tried and true” marketing in local Dallas area magazines, chamber of commerce meetings, and TV spots. Sadly, these owners are mistaken because the internet marketing solicitations they receive are not “apples to apples” and, therefore, the owners get denied good, quick education on what the search engines can do for them. Here is a quick list of what a good search engine marketing service in Dallas can provide.
First, you want to make sure that a good Dallas search engine marketing firm explains to you the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)! Knowing the definitions of what you are being sold is the first step!
SEO refers to getting your website’s pages (not just your home page) to rank well in the search engines for keyword phrases which have actual quantified demand. This latter part will be discussed in a moment. SEM refers to getting your company’s name and/or message on the first page of the search engines for the same phrases, but this also includes getting your other web properties (e.g. business directory listings, YouTube channel or specific videos) to rank well in addition to getting listed on the Maps/Places listings. SEM also includes the pay-per-click (PPC) placement for the same phrases.
The “takeaway” is that Search Engine Optimization is a sub-set of Search Engine Marketing, and many Dallas small business owners have not yet been properly educated on this difference. No matter which Dallas online marketing firm or consultant you choose, please be sure to understand this difference! Make sure that you are getting a good amount of value for your marketing budget.
Next, a good Dallas SEM service will help you with thorough keyword research. This means getting you ranked for phrases which people actually type into the search engines with some sort of decent monthly volume (i.e. “Demand”). From there, the firm should provide you with at least some form of figures on the competition against that demand (i.e. “Supply”). This will help you to choose the specific phrases for which to optimize and create content; and you can further refine which phrases on which you will spend time and money to be indicative of a likely customer who will buy, join your e-mail newsletter, walk into your store, etc.
For example, if you are a plumber then you would love to rank # 1 in the search engines for “Dallas plumber”. That phrase, however, might be too competitive for you to rank well based on your current content, number of people linking to you, and your budget. Instead, you may wish to pursue ranking well for a phrase which still has some demand such as “24 hour plumber Dallas”. If you rank well for that phrase, chances are that you are going to get some late night calls to fix the problem right away!
A good search engine marketing service in Dallas also will provide you with options so that you get a customized strategy. For example, you may be sitting on some really helpful “how to” or “tips” videos you recorded last year but they are still applicable to the end viewer. Your SEM firm can help you optimize your videos, your video channel, and the descriptions of your videos when you decide to upload them to a video-sharing site. The SEM service can then help you optimize the video content for specific cities and towns and turn them into titles such as “Dallas Plumber Shows You How To Shut Off The Water In An Emergency.”
The next element of a helpful search engine marketing service in Dallas is to explain the benefits on-page and off-page optimization. The “off page” component is the creation of helpful, quality content which is used to drive traffic to a web property you control (e.g. your home page, Facebook page, YouTube channel) to encourage the website visitor to take your desired “call to action” step. You should be advised on how to change that destination page(s) including adding the keywords to the various “tags” on that destination page. This is known as “on page SEO”.
Another trait of a helpful SEM firm is one which will help you understand that a website’s aesthetics (appearance) is NOT the “end all” when it comes to web marketing. The appearance primarily affects what is known as “conversion rate”, and it is possible that a very pretty, fancy website actually could HURT your intended call to action. This is because your DFW audience may expect content on a consistent basis. If you invest most of your money on the website’s appearance, yet leave little for content generation then you may alienate your audience.
The “takeaway” is that you must get into the heads of your primary audiences, whether they are current customers or prospective customers. Your SEM firm should explain ways in which you can better identify these elements if you are not yet familiar with them.
Should you decide to pursue online paid advertising, of which pay per click is only one method, then the Dallas SEM firm should explain your options. For example, if you want to appeal to people in Frisco then you might consider a few things which a traditional SEO firm wouldn’t explain to you:
- You have the ability on Google’s search network (ads which appear on Google.com) to restrict your ads to certain zip codes and a geographic radius around them
- You can modify your ad to have the keyword in the ad
- From there, you must send the “click traffic” to an optimized page for the same keyword. If not, you risk incurring a form of “surcharge”
- Google has a “display” or “content” network on which you can place your ads on websites OTHER than the Google.com search results
- These can be targeted for specific keywords such as “Frisco TX” or specific websites which accept Google ads
- You could skip the search engines entirely and pay for ads on sites which rank well in the search engines for the city-specific phrase
- For example, you could buy ads on Frisco-online.com if you specifically want to target Frisco
- You might be able to pay for certain advertising in your Google Places listing
- You could pay for advertising on the Yahoo and Bing search engines, although their rules are slightly different than Google’s
- You could pay for advertising on the lesser-used search engines, but the quality of traffic might be better. This is a case-by-case basis
Finally, a good search engine marketing firm in Dallas will help you track results. Whether it is something as basic of based on the improvement in your rankings all the way to advanced split-testing for landing pages, make sure that you get at least some form of measurable results. In addition, do whatever you can to make sure that the SEM firm accounts for mobile phone usage in addition to desktop and laptop users.
I hope that all of these elements help you better choose a professional search engine marketing service in Dallas. If you have any questions, or need clarification on anything presented, then you are welcome to contact me. Thank you.
On the new FAQ page, I recently added an article for local small business owners and how they can better understand the “big picture” of online and internet marketing. They article covers four major topics:
You are welcome to contact me with your questions and how internet marketing might benefit you in your specific situation. Also, feel free to send me your online marketing-related challenges so that I can take the answers for future questions on the FAQ page