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    3 Types of Online Content that Prospects Love

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Consumers rarely make purchasing decisions without doing their research. And today, most start by searching online to gather the information they need about local businesses, products, services, and even business owners. The insights and information these prospects find through online content – like blogs, social media, online reviews, and even paid advertising – may eventually determine whether or not they contact you. That’s why it is so important to have a comprehensive content and online marketing program in place. An effective content marketing plan will earn a prospect’s trust through valuable, helpful, and credible content. 
    Here are three types of online content that do just that.

    1. Informative Blog Posts

    By writing a blog about your particular industry, you present yourself as a thought leader, not as a salesperson. Consumers love blogs because they can contain entertaining content like videos and infographics as well as educational and helpful articles that provide them with sought-after information about a particular subject. When writing a business blog, be sure to feature ideas, insights, and facts about your industry or business, rather than a blatant pitch of your products and services.

    Posting fresh, valuable content on a business blog is also a great way to build your business Web presence, grow your presence in organic search, educate prospects about your industry, and promote yourself as an expert. Make sure to include links to your website about products or services you mention in your blog posts so readers can find that information about your business. And, boost visibility and build readership by following best practices like using target business keywords in your copy, sharing posts on social media, and featuring a link to your blog on your website home page and email signature.

    2. Social Media Posts

    Another form of valuable online content that prospects love is social posts and updates. Platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube are wonderful venues to help break the ice between you and your prospects and provide them with useful content. Consumers love social media posts because they are quick and easy to digest. By engaging with consumers through social media posts like photos, helpful tips, special offers, videos, and more, you’re sharing your thoughts, skills, expertise, and personality with an engaged audience.

    Plus, the conversational nature of social media gives your fans and followers a platform to talk to and about your business, so they want to know that you’re listening. Through this shared communication experience, you’re building a business relationship with your prospects and earning their trust – two crucial elements in helping you earn new business. Pro tip: Post engaging content and ask fans to share it with their networks to drive word of mouth for your business.

    3. Customer Reviews & Testimonials

    Prospects also love to see content from your past and current customers, because it can help them get a feel for what it’s like to do business with you. While word of mouth from friends, family, and work relationships is a still an important source prospects use to learn about local businesses, they also love to search online to find out what your customers have to say about you. In fact, 88% of consumers have been influenced by an online review when making a purchase decision. This is why it’s crucial to manage your online reputation. By monitoring what people are saying about you and your business online via directories and review sites, you have an excellent opportunity to address negative comments to help improve your online and offline reputation. But reputation management isn’t just about managing the negative things people are saying; it’s also important to continually ask happy customers to leave positive reviews about you online. Pro tip: In addition to reviews, also ask for video or written testimonials that you can publish on your website and social media pages to help boost your credibility with site visitors and social fans so they want to contact you.

    By creating and posting content that’s helpful, share-worthy, and paints a great picture of your business, you can help provide prospects with information they need, want – and even love!

    Are you using these three types of valuable online content to help market your business online?

    What types of online content do you share that gets good feedback? Tell us in the comments section.

    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.

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    Is Your Website Working? The Trick that Gets You More Calls

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Go to the home page of your business website. Do it. Yes, right now.

    How long does it take you to locate your phone number?

    Okay, now, look at an interior page, like a product page or “About” page. How long did it take you to find your phone number then?

    Last test: find a smartphone or tablet and pull your website up. You guessed it – how long did it take to find your phone number here?

    If it takes you more than five seconds to locate your phone number in any of these scenarios, your website has a serious problem.

    Like many other small business owners, you might believe a phone call from prospects is the Holy Grail of your marketing efforts, because it’s one of the easiest lines of communication between you and potential customers. You wouldn’t put up a billboard or place an ad in the local paper without a prominent phone number, so why should your website be any different? So, if you want more calls from your website, the answer is simple: make your phone number easy to find. Here are a few amazingly simple tips to make your phone number stand out. 

    1. Put it at the top of every page.

    Yes, on every page. Not just on your home page or “Contact us” page. Every. Single. Page. Why? Because people are visiting them. Consumers who are serious about contacting you to learn more about your products or services, getting quotes, and booking an appointment with you won’t just look at your home page – they’ll jump around your website to look at product information, customer reviews, videos, photos, and more.  You never know at what point they’ll make the choice to pick up the phone and call you, so don’t make it hard for them; put your number at the top of every page, in an easy-to-see font and color. Remember: the easier your number is to locate, the quicker prospects will call you. 

    2. Give it a call to action.

    Every effective website page has a clear call to action for a visitor to take. In this case, direct potential customers to call you. It’s always best to pair your specific action with a compelling benefit – essentially, what they’ll get out of contacting you. Additionally, this provides a visual cue for prospects to locate your phone number and helps persuade them take the action you want them to. A few examples of a call to action for your site could include:

    • Call Now for a Free In-Home Estimate! 555-0122
    • Call Today to Book Your Appointment: 555-0122. Space is Limited!
    • Plumbing Emergency? Call our 24-Hour Hotline at 555-0122 

    3. Mobile-optimize it.

    Did you know that now 46% of consumers have relied solely on smartphones or tablets to find local businesses? And, one-third of those consumers are specifically looking for – you guessed it – your phone number. So, if you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, or your site does not have a quick click-to-call feature, just think of all the mobile leads that may be passing you by. Having a mobile-friendly site for your advertising and organic marketing is imperative in today’s mobile world. So, it’s time to invest in, at minimum, a mobile landing page with click-to-call functionality that you can drive your online prospects to. You don’t want to miss out any more potential customers! 

    Bonus Tip: Designate someone to answer the calls – and to return them.

    Maybe you're already getting a lot of calls- and that's great. But, the quickest way to lose a hot lead from your website is to keep them from becoming a lead at all. And, one of the terrible things a consumer can experience is eagerly calling a local business and listening to the phone ring and ring for what seems like an eternity. Or worse, leaving a detailed voicemail, but never receiving a call back. If you’ve experienced this when contacting another business, then you know what it feels like if a consumer has this experience with yours. If you really want more business from potential customers who call you, consider using a call recording system that alerts you when you receive a new contact, so you have a means to review calls that are answered (either by a human or by a voicemail system) and promptly call back any prospects that aren’t taken care of immediately. Studies have shown that 50% of consumers will go with the business that responds to them first – so make sure it’s yours!

    What other tricks have you tried to get more calls from your website? Do you have an effective system in place to handle the calls you do get? Let us know in a comment. 

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    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.

    Are Customers Choosing Your Competitors Over You?

    Last updated 1 year ago

    “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton

    As a business owner, you know that attracting prospects and turning them into customers is the lifeblood of any company. But have you ever thought about why someone would choose a competitor over you? If you’ve ever lost a prospect to a competitor (it happens to the best of them), there are several likely culprits. Check out five reasons you’re losing business to your competitors and what you can do to win back the hearts of your prospects.

    1. Poor Search Rankings

    Do you know which search terms your prospects use to find local businesses like yours on popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo? Are you landing on the first page of these search engines after a prospect types in a search term? If you don’t know which search terms to use for your industry in order to be found online, or if your competitors rank higher on a search engine page than you, you’re probably losing business to your competition. That’s because most consumers don’t look at search results past a search engine’s first page. And, according to BIA Kelsey and ConStat, 97% of consumers use online media to shop locally. The best strategy to high search engine rankings uses both organic search engine optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click campaigns. So make sure you have an online strategy in place so you can be found in search engine results before prospects find your competitors.

    2. Poor Online Reputation

    Do you know what people are saying about you and your business online? Do you know how your reputation compares to your competitors? Managing your online reputation is critical in today’s connected world. That’s because prospects will often check online review sites and your social media pages as part of their research during the buying process. In fact, 90% of respondents in a 2013 survey said online reviews influenced their buying decisions. No matter how good your products or services are, if past customers have left negative online reviews or posted negative comments on your social media pages, you’re most likely losing business to your competitors. The good news is that there are proactive strategies you can use to address poor online reviews and negative comments on social media. And, you can work to build a positive reputation online to help provide a more balanced view of your company. There are also services that can save you time by monitoring your online reputation for you.

    3. Website Quality/Features

    Your website is your calling card to the world. It’s often the first place prospects visit to learn more about you and your business. But if your website has poor design, lacks crucial information like an easy-to-find phone number, or is difficult to navigate, your prospects will simply leave your site to check out competitor websites. There are many features you can add to your website to help make it more appealing and helpful to your prospects – features that can help convert a prospect into a customer. The time and money you invest to ensure your website is the best it can be will pay off by attracting and keeping your visitors on your site, which in turn can lead to new business.

    4. Slow Response Times

    When prospects contact multiple companies via an online contact form or leave messages after business hours, you want to be the first business to follow up. That’s because up to half of all sales goes to the company who contacts the prospect back first. Your prospect is a warm lead because they have already reached out to you either online or over the phone. So don’t waste this opportunity to win new business simply due to a slow response time. By being the first one to follow up with your prospects, you’re demonstrating that you’re proactive and professional. It’s your opportunity to establish rapport, answer their questions, and perhaps even set an appointment or schedule a visit.

    5. Customer Service

    A brand loyalty survey by ClickFox noted that 56% of respondents said their “first purchase or first customer service interaction with a brand” is the deciding factor in determining long-term brand loyalty. Quality customer service is essential at both the prospect stage as well as the customer stage. Think about yourself as the customer of other businesses and the interactions you’ve had. How were you treated? If you called a company, did the person speaking sound professional and courteous? If you visited a business, were you greeted warmly and given the attention you needed? If you contacted a company by email, did you receive a prompt and articulate response? These are just a few examples where excellent customer service comes into play in the earliest stages of the sales cycle. If you’re providing poor customer service to your prospects, they’re more likely to take their business to your competitors. So take the time to do an honest assessment of how prospects are being treated once they contact you. If you can win a prospect’s heart early on, you have a better chance of converting them into a customer later on.

    What strategies do you use to attract new prospects to your business? Let us know in the comments section.

    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.

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    4 Signs You Are Making Your Customers Angry & What To Do About It

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Your online reputation helps build a strong foundation when it comes to potential customers choosing your business over competitors. In fact, according to one survey, 88% of respondents’ purchasing decisions were affected by the positive or negative reviews they read. But if you aren’t doing everything you can to ensure that what’s being said about you online is positive, then you could possibly upset potential customers before they even get to experience your business for themselves. 

    Here are four telling signs that you need to take a hard look at your business’ reputation before it’s too late. 

    You haven’t addressed customers’ questions or comments online, ever.

    Hopefully, this isn’t the case for your business, and you have addressed critical issues in the past. But in order to maintain a good reputation for your business, you should at least try to acknowledge comments and questions as soon as you see them online, even if you don’t have a complete resolution. A recent survey indicates that of consumers who leave comments for businesses online, 42% expect to get a response at least within an hour. So, in order to show these customers that you are listening, consider setting up alerts for your business name and critical keywords like “complaints” and “reviews” so that you are up to date on any new mentions that matter for your reputation.

    You address your online feedback, but you’re never to blame.

    Chances are if nearly every comment about your business online is negative, blaming customers for their own negative experience will only result in more negative feedback, and very bad PR. There are many examples of business owners who cyber-attacked reviewers who by all means had legitimate frustrations about the business, on online review sites. These attempts at justifying bad customer service and bad business practices resulted in more negative reviews from people who would likely never become a customer. So if there’s one thing you should remember about these incidents, it’s that you can’t erase what you write online. The lesson to be learned here is to keep your cool when you see negative reviews, and respond only when you can do so with professionalism and a clear head. 

    You have a lot of one-time customers.

    There are different reasons why customers may do business with you once and not return: for example, if they aren’t from your local area. But if your business doesn’t have loyal customers, then you might have a larger issue at hand. As a business owner, you might not always know the various problems your business is having. But by inspecting your online reputation, you may be able to identify problems that you didn’t know existed. Maybe your online advertisements are dated, creating a false representation of your business. Perhaps your customer service is not up to par. Whatever the case may be, customers are very likely to share negative experiences online, so make sure you know what they are saying and do what you can to fix it.

    You have one mad customer whose goal in life is to bring you down.

    The saying “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” can often be applicable to your online reputation. And if you have that one unhappy customer who consistently rants about you online, then you probably understand the phrase a little better. While their continuous complaints may stem from actual problems, the fact that they continue to scorn you online may be a sign that they just really want to be heard. If you have a reviewer like this, ask about the details of their experience and do your best to right the wrong. If anything, this will show other potential customers that you are listening and attempting to make up for any less-than-satisfactory experiences. And remember, while a timely response is important, a professional response is critical.

    Have you dealt with any of these situations? What did you do to resolve them? Let us know in a comment! 

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    About the Author

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

    7 Popular Types of Social Media Fans [Infographic]

    Last updated 1 year ago

    What do all of your social media fans and followers have in common? They follow you on your social media sites. Aside from that, your social media fans can range dramatically – from the fans who like, retweet, or repin every one of your updates seconds after you post it to the angry “fans” who follow you only to share their bad customer experience.

    However, by understanding the different types of consumers on social media, you can determine the best type of engaging content to post in order to get them to take action and share your content. This infographic features seven of the most common types of fans, and what they mean for your business on social media. 

    What types of social media fans do you have, and what kind of content do they like the most? Let us know in a comment!

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    About the Author:

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

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