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    Lead Management: Your 4-Step Plan for Converting Leads into Customers

    Last updated 1 month ago

    When it comes to getting more customers from your marketing, the first goal is to drive consumers to your website. But that’s still not enough to determine true effectiveness of your online marketing efforts. You need your prospects to take the next step in the consumer buying journey, which is to contact you while they’re visiting your website or immediately afterward. And when prospects do call you, email you, or fill out a form on your website, they move even further down the sales funnel and can become leads once you qualify them. 

    How well you follow up with and nurture your leads at this stage of the buying journey often determines if they become customers. In fact, businesses that nurture new leads with marketing-related emails see up to 45% more lead generation ROI than businesses who do not use lead nurturing. So, how exactly do you turn new leads into customers? Try these four best practices that can help you master lead management and get more customers from your marketing efforts.

    1. Build Your Contact List

    When an interested prospect contacts you via phone, email, or website contact form, you first need to add their information to a centralized contact list. Collect details like their name, phone number, email address, and product or service interest. This is also the time to classify them as a relevant lead for your business. (If you know when the prospect is looking to make a purchase, you can even designate whether they’re a short- or long-term lead, which can help later in the process.) Having an up-to-date list of contacts and qualified leads gives you an easy and convenient way to organize the information you need to provide timely, pertinent, and consistent follow-up both over short- and long-term sales cycles.

    2. Track the Marketing Source

    How are people finding your business? Online ads? Social media? Direct mail? Radio? T.V.? (You get the picture.) Whether you’ve allocated marketing dollars toward online or traditional advertising channels (or both), you need to track what drives website traffic and contacts so you know which marketing methods are working. When prospects call your business, your staff can simply ask them how they found your company. You can also use tools like call tracking numbers, website URL tracking, and other lead management software to track your marketing sources.

    3. Respond to Calls & Emails ASAP

    Consumers often choose the business that follows up with them first, so it’s vital that you classify and respond to new leads by phone or email as soon as you can. While answering every phone call promptly is ideal, there might be times when you miss a call. In these instances, make sure you have a reliable phone answering service or call recording product in place so you can listen to the call recordings, classify new contacts as leads, and reach out to them quickly with helpful information.

    If you’re responding to leads via email, a quick and simple thank you note can be a great response to start with. Your email should communicate that you’ve received their request and what your next steps will be. For example, you might let your leads know that you’ll be calling them to set up an in-person consultation or to provide a phone quote. Whatever the next steps are, just make sure your lead knows what they can expect next from you.

    4. Regularly Follow Up With & Nurture Your Leads

    It’s important to continually follow up with prospects you’ve classified as leads, but who haven’t yet made a purchase. This is especially true in industries with long lead times. You can stay top of mind with leads by making timely follow-up calls with helpful information and sending compelling emails that nurture leads and convince them to buy. If you’re sending emails, consider messages like customer testimonials, before and after pictures of your work, and special offers and promotions. Don’t be overly aggressive in lead nurturing emails. Rather, focus on providing content that will help leads understand the value of your business and convince them why they should choose you over a competitor. These types of emails can help build consumer trust so that when the time does come, your leads will feel more confident in buying from you.

    Learn how to implement these lead management best practices, see email examples, and get a handy checklist in our latest ebook Convert More Leads Into Customers with the Power of Lead Management. You’ll also learn more about ReachEdge, the marketing system that includes lead management software to help you track, nurture, and convert more of your leads into customers.

    How are you using these lead management best practices in your business? Let us know with a comment!

     

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    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Follow her on Twitter.

    Case Study: How One Client Increased Visits, Leads with a Smart Website & Lead Management

    Last updated 1 month ago

    Think it’s impossible to double your website visits and grow your leads by 116 percent in just 30 days? One local business did exactly that by replacing their outdated website with ReachEdge, the smart website and lead management solution that helps them get more contacts, leads, and customers from their existing ReachLocal search engine advertising  campaign.

    With ReachEdge, ArkLaTex Blinds and Shutters not only got a brand-new website, but one that also helps them manage the current leads that come in to their business and turns them into customers. After just one month of using ReachEdge, this small business doubled the number of site visits and contacts like calls, emails, and Web forms they were getting from their new website. Plus, leads grew by 116 percent.

    Here are three ways ArkLaTex Blinds and Shutters increased visitors and leads with ReachEdge.

    Grew Contacts with a Smart Website

    ArkLaTex Blinds and Shutters’ existing site was problematic because it wasn’t effectively driving prospects to their business, keeping visitors on their site, or professionally showcasing the window covering solutions they have to offer. Alternatively, their smart ReachEdge website engages website visitors with a professional design and simple navigation. Plus, it’s built to capture contacts who reach out to ArkLaTex via phone, email, or form on their website.

    Managed Leads with Automated Notifications & Follow-Up

    The ReachEdge system includes built-in lead management software that provides ArkLaTex with text and email notifications of all the new contacts they get from their website. The company also benefits from automated lead nurturing and reminders that they can use to follow up with their leads via phone or email. And, with a powerful mobile app at their fingertips, ReachEdge enables ArkLaTex owner Chase Lockwood to manage his leads while he’s away from his office, too.

    “As a business owner on the go, it can be a daunting task to stay on top of incoming leads. ReachEdge has changed the way we manage our leads and provided us with a way to ensure we are not missing opportunities,” said Lockwood.

    Tracked Results & Saw ROI

    In addition to driving more contacts from their website, ArkLaTex now has an easy way to manage all the leads that come into their business. The company also has access to integrated tracking and reporting of their contacts, leads, and customers through the web portal or mobile app. With the lead source tracking and ROI reports built into ReachEdge, Lockwood and his team can now measure the results of both their existing online advertising and their direct site traffic. 

    Download the case study to get the full details of ArkLaTex’s new website and lead management solution, along with all the results they saw once they started using ReachEdge.

     

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    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Follow her on Twitter.

    Google Panda 4.0: How Will It Affect Your Site's SEO?

    Last updated 1 month ago

    The Internet is abuzz with Google’s latest algorithm update, Panda 4.0, Google’s latest algorithm change has marketers, webmasters, and business owners alike scrambling to understand how it’s impacting their existing websites and SEO efforts. 

    Like many of Google’s previous updates, Panda 4.0 emphasizes high-quality websites and content. But what does that actually mean, and how can small and local businesses make sure their websites are up to par so they can continue to stay visible on the Google search engine and generate search traffic? Here are two key things Google Panda 4.0 update focuses on and how to take advantage of them for your business. 

    Panda Emphasizes Fresh, Quality Content

    The original Panda algorithm release was aimed at ensuring low-quality websites with scraped or copied content didn’t fare well in the search results. And Panda 4.0 continues to make this a priority. This update, more than just a simple refresh, further emphasizes the need to post frequent, high-quality content to your website, and not just regularly changing your product pages.

    If you don’t have a plan in place to regularly publish fresh, quality content, it’s more important than ever to do so. The first step is to ensure that your site has a blog that allows you to post content. But even a well-designed blog wont’ help your site if you aren’t using it actively. So, create a process for generating, posting, and sharing new content on a regular basis.  And, make sure the content you post is unique, relevant, and stands out to both search engines and consumers. Why?

    Panda 4.0 emphasizes the importance of high quality content that’s unique. That means that if you are copying or duplicating content from other sources, posting low-quality, unengaging content, or not generating content at all, you need to rethink your approach to SEO. Set aside time each week to create high-quality, relevant content like how-to articles, lists, videos, and more related to your business and post them to a business blog on your website. If you don’t have time to produce high-quality content on a frequent basis, look for a solution that can provide this for you. 

    Modern Websites Matter to Google

    While the content you publish is a huge part of what makes a quality website, there are other factors you need to consider. When it comes to today’s SEO, quality refers to the entire user experience, such as having an intuitive website structure and navigation, a mobile-optimized site, and user-friendly content and metadata, which can all impact how effective your site is at getting indexed by search engines and found by your target audience.

    If your website is already designed with these elements in mind, then you have no need to worry. But, many small business websites don’t have an intuitive, modern user experience, inherently making it difficult for their sites to drive visits from Google search. Plus, they often contain website content and metadata that are stuffed with keywords, which can hurt them both in search results and in user satisfaction.

    If your site’s structure or experience are outdated, this may mean that it’s time for a new website design for your small business, so you can make sure you’re meeting Google’s recommendations regardless of the Panda 4.0 update. It’s also time to check your site’s metadata (the content that’s picked up by search engines) as well as your on-page site content to make sure it’s written for your readers using natural language and isn’t stuffed with keywords, as sites making this big mistake could be penalized in the search results with Panda 4.0.

    What It All Means to Your Business

    By helping move low-quality websites down in the search results, the Google Panda 4.0 update may work in favor of local businesses, not against them. That’s because this move will reward those that are truly proving themselves to be a quality, useful resource to consumers.

    So, ask yourself: are your website and content helping or hurting your SEO? Now is the time to invest in providing regular, quality content that can make your business an asset to local consumers, which will help drive even more visitors from the organic search results to your website.  

    About the Author
    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

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    On-Demand Webinar: Marketing to Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers

    Last updated 1 month ago

    The Millennial Generation’s expectation of how businesses market to them is different from any other generation before them. This generation, also known as Gen Y, grew up using the Web for everyday tasks, meaning that surfing, searching, and socializing online is part of their daily routine. (As a Millennial myself, I know this to be true.)

    And, what Millennials want from your local business on the Web goes way beyond just being able to find your website when they search online. How your business presents itself, the local and social sites where your business has a presence on (and how active you are), and what other customers are saying about you makes a huge difference when they are deciding whether they want to do business with you.

    So, how do you make sure your marketing reaches this influential (and influence-able) generation? Jenni Williams, senior integrated marketing manager at ReachLocal, discusses just that in the on-demand webinar “Millennial Marketing: Targeting Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers Too,” providing helpful tips local businesses can use to reach multiple generations online. 

    Watch this on-demand webinar now to learn more about millennial marketing, and download the slides for later!

    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how local business owners can reach more customers through inbound marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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    Giant Marketing for Small Business: Selfies, Videos, and Hashtags, Oh My!

    Last updated 1 month ago

    If you think creative marketing that gets people talking about your brand is only for companies with big budgets and full-time marketing teams, think again! In today’s socially-connected world of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites, your small business now has access to the same online marketing tactics big brands use to build awareness, drive engagement, and even generate leads.

    So, which popular big-brand tactics should you take advantage of for your small business? Take a look at three of the most popular online marketing trends well-known brands are using to drive awareness and social engagement for their products and services. Then, break out your smartphone, fire up your social media pages, and have some fun as you apply the same concepts to market your own small business online. 

    1. Take Smartphone Selfies

    Chances are you’ve heard of selfies by now (and have even taken your own). If you’re not familiar with selfies, they’re simply photos people take of themselves — usually with smartphones — and post to social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Selfies are effective at driving likes, shares, and comments on the user’s photo, and brands using this online trend can increase both awareness and engagement from their fans and followers on social media.

    Recently, brands, not just individuals, have used selfies to promote their products and services on social mediums. For instance, with more than 3 million retweets across the Web, the selfie that Oscar host Ellen Degeneres took at the 2014 Oscars holds the current record for most tweeted photo in Twitter history. Using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and the literal star power of several audience members this selfie generated huge online exposure for the Samsung mobile device (and temporarily crashed Twitter).

    How To Do It:

    While you may not have a live televised audience of millions or a handful of Hollywood celebrities at your disposal, you can still use the popularity of selfies to drive awareness for your own products and services. To create your own star-powered selfie, start by looking for big personalities in your town or city. For instance, politicians such as your mayor or state representative, well-known business people, and local celebrities (think popular bloggers, TV anchors and reporters, radio hosts, and more) can be great people to leverage. For example, you could invite them to a grand opening of a new location or to a charity event you are participating in as a great way to get them interested in supporting your business. Then, by taking your picture with them and sharing it on your social accounts, you can personalize your pages and create buzz among your social media followers.

    Don’t have a local celebrity to share the spotlight? Don’t worry! Consider taking a selfie with your employees during a team outing, with a happy customer, or even with a new product and sharing it across your social presence. Just be creative and this simple online marketing trend can work to your advantage.

    2. Create & Share Unique YouTube Videos

    According to Nielsen’s 2013 data of top U.S. web brands, YouTube is the fifth most-visited website in the United States. And, it’s the top source for video streaming, with 128 million viewers watching video content on the site each month. With video’s immense popularity among U.S. consumers, this online marketing trend can help drive awareness for your business. Videos can also be a huge benefit for search engine optimization (SEO) both on and off your website, which can help boost your visibility on search engine results pages.

    So, how are businesses leveraging video to drive consumer buzz and engagement? Big brands like Coca-Cola, Fiat, and Redbull have taken unique approaches to their online videos, which have gone viral and racked up millions of YouTube page views. What these three videos have in common is an out-of-the-box approach to their product positioning. Rather than delivering straightforward sales pitches about their products, these big brands focus on the experiences and personalities their products represent.

    For instance, Coca-Cola uses a hidden camera featuring real students enjoying the surprises of free soda from a Coca-Cola machine. Fiat takes a lighthearted approach to motherhood with its own version of a hip-hop video, and RedBull’s compilation video glorifies adventure and extreme athleticism. And, each video closes with an important call-to-action message, whether it’s to visit the company’s Facebook page or to watch the next video on the company’s YouTube channel.

    While there’s no way to ensure a video will go viral, these companies also drove YouTube page views by promoting their videos across their social media pages. For instance, Fiat has a dedicated “Motherhood” Facebook page that promotes their hip-hop video and gives fans a way to share the YouTube link and post comments. And, Coca-Cola has its own “happiness hub” Facebook page where viewers can go to post comments and watch additional hidden camera videos that feature Coca-Cola.

    How To Do It:

    The main takeaway when creating your own videos is to focus on the lifestyles and personalities behind the products you are promoting, just like these big brands have done. (Coke: youthful and fun; Fiat: hip motherhood; RedBull: extreme living). And, don’t to be afraid to be creative in your own video marketing. While making videos that take a straightforward approach to your products and services can be helpful to your target consumers, a more entertaining approach can help increase the YouTube page views you’re seeking to drive brand and company awareness.

    Then, once your video is made and posted on YouTube, don’t forget to optimize the video for the products and services you want it to show up for in search. Also, make sure to include a CTA in your video like visiting your website or buying your product. Then, promote the video on your website, social media pages, and even through email to generate views, shares, and discussion from your target audience.

    3. Leverage Hashtags in Social Posts

    The hashtag is a curation mechanism that filters all the posts about a particular subject into one single feed on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. And today, a lot of famous brands are creating their own hashtags to promote their products online.

    For example, Oreo Cookie, a popular brand on Twitter with more than 347,000 followers, uses these company-created hashtags (among others) on their Twitter page: #OreoDeepThoughts, #Ollusions, and #OreoSnackHacks. Each hashtag feed is filled with whimsical images and creative messages about Oreo cookies. By creating and sharing these hashtags with their followers (who can in turn share the posts with their own audiences or create their own posts using the hashtag), Oreo Cookie creates interest and drives brand awareness and engagement across Twitter.

    How To Do It:

    Use this popular online trend in your social media marketing by creating your own unique hashtags. You can start by creating a hashtag that’s associated with your business, a company event, or even a product or service. Use a word or words that are catchy and memorable, rather than a branded term. Then, write and share posts that contain that hashtag.

    You can also leverage generic hashtags that are commonly used on certain social media sites if they are related to your post. For instance, the “throwback Thursday” hashtag (#tbt) is very popular on Facebook. So, if you can tie your company, products or services around nostalgia messaging, you might consider asking your social media fans to post their own “throwback Thursday” photos to your company page. For example, if you own a hair salon, you could post a photo of yourself taken 20 years ago with a message like, “Happy throwback Thursday! What hairstyle were you wearing 20 years ago? #tbt.” By opening up the conversation around the hashtag, you can encourage your fans to share their own photos on your site.

    Keep in mind that you might not want to use hashtags for every post you publish, and that certain hashtags may work better on some platforms than others. Do a little digging on the different platforms you want to use and see which hashtags are popular with other users and brands on the site. Then, when you're ready to share your post, don’t overload it with too many hashtags; three or less is best.

    Now that you have a basic overview of how to use three online trends to market  your small business, go have some fun! 

    What kinds of selfies, videos, or hashtags are you using or do you plan to use in your marketing? Let us know with a comment!

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    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Follow her on Twitter.

     

     

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