Last updated 5 months ago
Content marketing is one of the most important emerging online marketing tactics today. This year, over 1,700 marketing professionals from both large and small businesses gathered at Content Marketing World to learn about content marketing tips, best practices, success stories, technology, and trends. So, what were some of the highlights? We rounded up five content marketing tips we think every small business needs to know from this year’s conference. Here’s the scoop:
1) Make your marketing more useful.
Is your marketing so useful people would pay for it? This is the challenge author, speaker, and consultant Jay Baer kicked off the conference with in his opening keynote about the “Youtility” concept. In today’s saturated, always-on media landscape, any business that can cut through the noise by creating marketing that is truly useful wins.
Sound like something only big businesses can achieve? Think again. For example, Baer shared the story of a local cab driver “Taxi Mike,” whose guide to the best spots to eat in the city was a local triumph that also served to advertise his services. So, what can you do that would be extremely useful to your users, customers, or prospects? Start with this question in mind and let your creativity explore new ideas for true marketing magic.
2) Create marketing that is intensely interesting.
Every status update, image, blog post, ebook, and tool that is created in the name of content marketing is also competing with every other person, status update, question, conversation, video, or song that your audience is exposed to every day. Just think about your Facebook news feed: ads from brands you like may be competing with a post from a friend or loved one. In this context, does your marketing cut it?
One of the most re-tweeted sound bytes of the conference was a tweet from Ann Handley of MarketingProfs highlighting Jay Baer’s opening keynote:
“This is the bar your content has to clear on social: ‘Are you more interesting to me than my wife?’”
3) Use visual content to tap into the image boom.
In the last year, with the launch of video on Instagram, the Vine app, and the quickly- growing use of other visual apps and social networks, visual content has skyrocketed online, according to Todd Wheatland of Kelly Services.
By looking at emerging apps that younger generations are using, such as Path, Viber, WhatsApp, Kik, and snapchat, which are used heavily for image and video sharing, it’s clear that visual content is the trend.
So, what are the tricks to using visual content well? Wheatland recommended:
Making your images simple and compelling so that they perform well via mobile
Create images that are cool to compel your audience to share on social networks
Make sure that your images work well across different devices since your user may view them via desktop, tablet, or smartphone
Make sure your images are entertaining, because your audience is consuming so much visual content today
Since people see so many images every day, make them unique
4) Tell true and engaging stories.
When it comes to content marketing, it’s important to include fantastic storytelling. This doesn’t mean inventing a story to tell, because today’s customers are savvy enough to see through this smokescreen. Today, consumers appreciate and expect transparent and interesting storytelling behind the brands they love.
How can small businesses apply this? Think about these questions: What’s the real story behind your business? Your customers? Your products? Your services? What are their results? It may differ for every business, but at the heart of all great marketing is great storytelling.
5) Invest time in marketing your marketing.
It’s important to be creating content that compels, informs, entertains, and engages. And that’s such a time-intensive creative process that often it’s the primary focus in content marketing. In fact, a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that the biggest content marketing challenge is producing enough content.
But session after session drove home the point that while it’s important to spend time developing useful, engaging content, it’s just as important to spend time marketing your marketing. In fact, if it comes down to a matter of time, many speakers advocated creating less content in favor of finding ways to do more with it. This includes both repurposing some marketing tools into others (think creating blog posts from ebook content; transcribing video content and editing it into blog posts, etc.) and building a strategy and using the right tools to spread the word about your awesome content.
Are you using content marketing to share the story of your business and connect with prospects and customers online? Have a question about content marketing for small businesses? Share your thoughts in a comment!
About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as a blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
Last updated 5 months ago
ReachLocal proudly announces Christian Kligora as this year’s winner of the coveted ReachLocal Star Award. Established in 2011, the ReachLocal Star Award recognizes and honors an individual employee each year who demonstrates the following core values in their work: Team First, Servant Leadership, and Customer Focus. Employees are nominated by their colleagues and the winner is selected by a group of executives representing all areas of the business. The winner receives a crystal award, cash prize, and a donation to his or her chosen charity.
Christian Kligora was named the 2013 ReachLocal Star out of more than 160 nominees worldwide for his excellent work ethic, consistent commitment to our clients, and inspiring teamwork. He joined ReachLocal in 2009 and currently serves as the Regional Sales Manager (RSM) in our San Francisco office. Prior to this role, Christian was an Internet Marketing Consultant (IMC) in the Denver office, as well as an Interim RSM for the St. Louis and Minneapolis offices consecutively. Christian has selected Special Olympics Colorado to receive his donation, which will benefit over 10,000 intellectually disabled people who participate in the organization’s programs to build friendships and self-esteem.
Christian took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his experiences at ReachLocal, and how he feels about winning the 2013 ReachLocal Star Award:
Q: What has contributed to your success at ReachLocal?
A: When I was new, senior IMCs and other team members took me under their wings and gave me the knowledge and tools I needed to get started. I'm very grateful for their mentoring, coaching, and support. I realized from early on that I had joined a family…not just a team. The Denver office developed a culture that required everyone to share his or her strengths, and we all grew together. I take that same mindset with me to every office I visit. I share what I’ve been taught, I learn from everyone I interact with, and I pass that knowledge along.
Q: What is something you are most proud of in your career at ReachLocal?
A: I have an inbox folder filled with emails that I have received over the years from business owners and peers sharing the positive impacts I have made on their lives. It makes me proud to think that I’ve been able to touch other people’s lives; those emails serve as a great reminder of all the collaborations I’ve been involved with over the years.
Q: What advice would you give to a fellow ReachLocal employee on how to be successful in their career here?
A: Live and do right by your customer, your company, and your peers; the success will follow naturally.
Q: What does it mean to you to win this award?
A: To be nominated for, and to win an award that celebrates the spirit of our employees, not just their work-related contributions, a great honor. I know and have the greatest respect for a number of the other nominees, and it’s humbling to be viewed in the same light as them. I believe this award is a testimonial to the culture we have established at ReachLocal, where we are continuously teaching and learning from each other. I’m proud and humbled to have won, and feel it could be shared with all who have taught me, and whose lessons I’ve been able to pass on to others.
See how Christian reacted to getting the call that he had won:
We are truly honored and inspired to have Christian as part of the ReachLocal family. To learn more about the ReachLocal Star Award and previous winners, visit our ReachLocal Star Award webpage.
Last updated 5 months ago
When a student or parent does an online search for your college or university, will they like what they find? Reviews and other information about your school are only a few keystrokes away, and may impact the decision of potential students.
While you have direct control over the message on your website, you can’t change information posted by others. Whether reviews are thrilling or frustrating, you can implement some basic techniques to manage your institution’s online reputation.
Not sure where to start? Start with the basics to assess whether your online reputation is positive or negative, and take steps to manage it across the long-term. Here are five tips for improving your school’s reputation online:
1. Identify Top Review Sites
Students and parents talk about your school online. You need to be aware of how this affects your school’s reputation. Identify the top review sites for your education subcategory. Here are some of the major educational review sites for colleges, universities, vocational and trade schools:
2. Monitor and Address Your Reputation
Check to see if your school or institution’s listing is claimed on top directories, review sites like Yelp and Google+Local. Some sites allow you to officially claim your page or profile. Once it’s claimed and set up, make sure you check them regularly to see the kinds of reviews people are posting about you. In addition, set up Google search alerts that notify you via email when your school’s name is mentioned online, which can be part of a blog post, online review, social media comment, or something else. Once you know what’s being said about you on these sites, it’s important to become part of the conversation and address any issues that may keep a potential student from enrolling at your school.
3. Reply to Negative Reviews
For starters, check your emotions and don’t take negativity personally. Easier said than done, right? However, remember that any immediate passionate responses can actually hurt your reputation rather than improve it. Take a deep breath, read the review carefully, and research the reviewer’s bad experience.
Your objective is to acknowledge the issue and take the conversation offline. With a professional yet apologetic tone, briefly state any facts that may be associated with the issue (e.g., class availability, financial aid, parking, etc.). Then, offer specific contact information (name, phone number or email address) for the commenter to use to speak with someone directly about their grievance. This demonstrates that you heard their concerns, take them seriously, and want to help resolve the issue.
4. Build Your Reputation
Increase your positive reviews by recruiting your current school’s champions. At the end of each semester reach out to students who have been involved with extracurricular activities or demonstrated affinity for your school as well as highly involved parents and alumni, to write a review on what they like about your school. Alumni are especially good sources of reviews, as they may be able to share success stories they have had since graduation. Direct them to the specific sites you want them to post on, but don’t tell them what to say.
5. Create Fresh Content
Continue building your online reputation by creating content such as blog posts, videos, images on your website, YouTube or other social network pages about new programs being offered, campus highlights, events, student testimonials, and other topics that may interest your current and prospective students. Fresh content makes your website more search friendly and can help boost your site closer to the top of search results on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, so it will reach a broader audience. Plus, fresh content will help push negative reviews further down the search result page, so you have more control over what searchers will see about you online.
Reaching out to your online audience and potential students is essential in today’s connected world. By learning best practices, you can begin to be proactive in managing your online reputation, as well as building your institution’s brand online.
Which steps have you taken to manage your online reputation? Let us know with a comment!
About the Author
Paul Herrera, Marketing Manager for Education and Specialty Services, provides small- and medium-size businesses and B2C brands with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.
Last updated 6 months ago
ReachLocal’s chairman of the board, David Carlick, recently traveled to Adelaide, Australia to meet two of our clients, Glen Field and Tracey Handy, of Termi Home and Commercial. Come along with David as he recounts his visit in our latest edition of Postcards From David.
Glen Field's title is General Manager, but his career is entrepreneur. In 1992, a key pesticide was banned in Australia, leaving builders with a problem; without some sort of protection, termites would invade homes quickly and wreak havoc on them. (Apparently, Australia termites are particularly invasive and voracious.) Glen discovered a product called Termimesh and jumped at the opportunity.
Termimesh was invented in Perth by Victor Toomgas to help protect homes against the threat of termites without the use of pesticides. Glen negotiated franchise rights for South Australia and has built a highly successful operation over the last 20-plus years. But Termimesh is typically installed in new homes, and Glen realized that this product line was completely dependent on new home construction - a cyclical business.
So Glen decided to diversify his business and offer a range of products and services. Now, he also offers Termifresh, a separate product line that keeps ducts in HVAC installations fresh and bacteria free. A very creative product, Termifresh adds on to existing duct systems and sprays a periodic burst of Australia Tea Oil into the system. The oil pervades the ducts, coating them with a solution that smells fresh and kills mold, bacteria, and all the other things that can ruin air. But Glen didn't stop there. He also created Termidry, a service line for waterproofing homes and offices. He also offers Termiturf, a line of artificial grass surfaces that help solve a critical landscaping problem in Australia - the fact that water is a precious resource. This artificial turf provides an ecological solution that is easy to maintain, fun to play on, and beautiful to look at.
To support his growing business, Glen realized the need to advertise this diverse product and service line. That's when he turned to ReachLocal to start running search advertising in both Adelaide and Brisbane. His local IMC Deanna Daraden stepped in to meet the challenge, and they've had so much success with their campaign so far that they're looking to expand their advertising efforts into other markets such as Melbourne and Perth.
Glen's Termiturf operation is a beautiful thing - a combined showroom, outside staging of different Termiturf products, offices, the Termimesh assembly area, and a yard full of beautiful company-branded Utes. What most impresses me about this organization is what they create and what they leave "in their wake." They create opportunities and careers, and they build capital. In their wake: buildings that will last longer because they are protected from termites and pests; offices and factories with healthier, safer air; yards and terraces that are beautiful, easy to maintain, and require no water. Yay!
We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with such an innovative and interesting business and look forward to much more.
Onward and upward!
Board Director & Chairman, ReachLocal
About the Author
David Carlick is the board director and chairman at ReachLocal. He also serves as a venture partner at Rho Ventures, where he focuses on investments in digital media and marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Last updated 6 months ago
Getting your business found in Google is all the rage these days. And, rightly so. Google is still the top search engine, with 67% of all monthly searches happening there. That’s why the inquiring minds of business owners everywhere want to know: “How do I get my business to show up on Google when someone searches?” Here are 10 things Google’s search algorithm loves – so you can add some of these to your online marketing toolbox and improve your business Web presence.
1. Quality Content
One of the number one rules of online marketing today is generating fresh content. What this means is you need to post content that’s original, relevant, and timely that will appeal to people searching for terms related to your business. One of the best ways to actively share quality content is by having a blog for your business. Then, it’s a matter of finding time to create and share content. Start with an editorial calendar and plan weekly posts that are informative and engaging. While long-form content every once in a while is important, you can keep the majority of your posts short and simple. Some blog post ideas can include before and after photos of completed projects, a discount or promotion, an upcoming event, or a new product announcement.
2. Search Ads
Search ads are now emphasized very heavily on the first page of local search results – whether you search for direct local terms or if Google detects local search intent. For instance, when I search for a plumber in Dallas, Texas, six of the results above the fold—the portion of a webpage you see before scrolling— are paid ads – while only two are organic results. In fact, Google only shows between seven and ten organic results beyond ads and map listings— about 13% of the first page— and competition for those spots is high. So, it’s important to have a balanced approach that uses both search engine optimization and search engine advertising so that consumers will find your business when they search for your target and business keywords.
Mobile devices now make up 25% of search clicks. And, 88% of mobile ad clicks are incremental to organic clicks – which means paid clicks aren’t replaced by organic clicks when search advertising is paused. In other words, you get more mobile clicks overall when doing both paid advertising and SEO than when using SEO alone. That means it’s more important than ever to not only invest in mobile advertising, but also to make sure those mobile clicks take consumers to a mobile landing page or website that’s optimized to capture those leads.
4. Map Listings
Whether consumers are searching via mobile or desktop, your map listing is critical in getting found on Google. It’s important to claim and update your Google+Local page, because many consumers see your map listing before they ever find your website in the local search results. Make sure you optimize your listing with your business keywords, business category, address, hours, and other important information. Google+Local is even more important for some business types like restaurants now that Google+ Local results are even more prominent with Google’s carousel results for certain categories.
5. Google+ Pages
Of course Google loves Google+; it owns it. And that means having a Google+ page for your business is an important part of your online marketing strategy. Not only is having an optimized, active Google+ profile an important step in making your maps more robust and useful for searchers, but it’s a great place to share and connect with your audience and influencers who can help share your content. This can help increase exposure, comments, and links back to your content, which can help boost your SEO.
6. Social Shares & Likes
Just like it’s important to optimize your Google+ page, having claimed and optimized profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, along with updated content, can help you claim more territory for your business on the search engine results page. But, it’s not just important to have these pages; you need to post engaging, shareable content that will signal to search engines that these pages are an active, useful resource, which can help your social pages rank higher in search. Plus, social signals like Facebook shares and Tweets from your website or blog can serve as signals to Google search as well.
7. Local Keywords
To get your business found by searchers in your target area, it’s important to use geo-specific keywords. According to the Google search ranking factors, the target keyword you want to rank for, like “emergency plumbing dallas,” should be present in places on your website like your page title, links, and anchor text. It’s also important to use these same keywords on your social media pages, Google+ Local page, and other review or directory sites you may use to drive visits from local consumers. Make sure you choose keywords that are targeted to your location, business type and name, but be careful not to stuff your webpages and profiles with keywords, which can have a negative impact on your results – and on the consumers looking at your content.
Backlinks are still important signals of authority to Google’s algorithm that help the search engine determine the usefulness of your content. Essentially, backlinks are links to your website from other sites around the Web. But not all links are created equal. Google’s recent algorithm updates emphasize the importance of high-quality links, in other words, links to your content from sites and influencers who have authority and credibility. That’s why it’s important to make your content interesting and engaging enough that other sites will want to link to it. You can start by creating engaging content and sharing it on your blog, social media pages, marketing emails, and other properties online. When you share this content, include a call to action that asks your customers, fans, and followers to also share it as well. This can help spread your content and increase quality backlinks that Google loves.
Reviews for your business on Google+ Local are extremely valuable because they appear along with your map listing on the search results page. But, nobody wants to feature their business prominently with one-star reviews. So, ask happy customers to leave you positive, thoughtful reviews on your Google+Local page to make sure consumers new to your business see great things about you. Plus, the more reviews you have with your target keywords, the higher your map listing will display in the search results.
Authorship is a feature of Google+ that lets you link content you publish on another domain directly to your personal Google+ profile. When you do this, your Google+ profile picture will appear directly next to content you have written in the search results, emphasizing your content and helping increase clicks to it. This is great for building your personal brand, which can help you build credibility for your business by establishing yourself as the expert in your field. Plus, using your personal Google+ account is a great way to spread the word about your business to drive interest and shares among your personal network.
What are some things that you’ve noticed feature prominently in Google search? Let us know in the comments!
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.