Last updated 4 months ago
Today, consumers typically start their journey to find a local business by going online. As they move through the buying journey, there are many ways for them to discover your business, visit your website, contact you, and choose your business over your competitors.
But if you aren’t taking advantage of all opportunities in each part of the buying funnel, or if you aren’t following the best practices that help drive conversions, your marketing will have “leaks.” It’s likely that these leaks will cause you to lose important leads and customers along the way.
So where do you start when looking for leaks in your marketing?
In the latest ReachLocal ebook “Don’t Leak Leads: How To Identify Leaks & Get More Customers” we discuss some of the top places where leaks happen within each section of the buying funnel. Plus, this ebook offers tips and best practices you can apply to your online marketing, SEO, website optimization, lead management, and lead nurturing so that you stop losing leads and start getting the most customers out of all your efforts.
Download the free ebook today!
Last updated 4 months ago
Have you ever called a business only to hang up with more questions than you had before you even called? (Including questions like, “Why did I bother calling?”) If so, you understand how frustrating it can be when a business doesn’t practice basic phone handling techniques and is therefore unprepared to take calls from consumers who want to get information about products and services, schedule an appointment, or ask basic questions about the business. This frustration that comes with not being able to get the information they’re looking for is the last thing you want consumers to experience when they call your business.
So, here are five things you should never say or do when a prospect calls your business and what to do to ensure they get the best experience.
“We’re open until 7.” Hangs up the phone.
When a prospect calls your business, it’s probably not just to find out your business hours – your website, social profiles, and online listings should be optimized with this type of information to begin with. Instead, make sure anyone who answers your phone knows how to also ask qualifying questions in order to better understand the caller’s needs in addition to providing the information being asked for. For example, when a consumer calls you make sure to ask questions about the problem they are trying to fix, find out their needs or wants, and ask how soon they plan on purchasing. This information will not only provide you with a clear picture of what additional products or services to recommend but also helps you identify the quality of the lead so that you can follow up with them appropriately.
“I don’t know.” Doesn’t attempt to direct the call to someone who does.
If a prospect calls your business and senses inexperience or lack of knowledge from the person who answers the phone, it could make them question whether your business is capable of meeting their needs and expectations. It’s understandable that you may have a receptionist who may not know the exact ins and outs of your business, but he or she should still know how to represent your business with a certain level of expertise, confidence, and professionalism.
Make sure your staff is trained to answer basic questions about your products and services, look up staff schedules, schedule appointments, and provide them with a directory so they can transfer the calls they really can’t handle on their own. If there’s truly no one available to provide all answers the caller is looking for, train your staff to capture the caller’s contact information and specific questions in a central repository, and have someone knowledgeable call them back within the hour.
“We’ll have someone call you back.” Nobody ever does.
If you or your staff promises to call a lead back, make sure you do. Consumers have many options today on where to spend their money, and they are likely to contact several of your direct competitors while making a purchasing decision. By promising to call back a new prospect and not doing so, you could lose the contact as an important lead and leave them with a negative impression of your business all in one step. For new contacts, it’s important to call them back within an hour if possible, and within one business day at the latest. For existing leads, make sure you have a way to keep track of leads that require follow up and stay in contact with them regularly so they know you still care about earning their business.
“You can visit our website.” They are on the phone now!
When a prospect calls your business, they are moving one step forward in the consumer buying journey by contacting you for more information. When you tell them to visit your website, you’re essentially sending them two steps back. Chances are, consumers who call you have already been to your website, saw your number, and called you. Since your website is built with a phone call as a primary goal, you need to making the most of your online marketing efforts by providing the caller with the information they expect while they are on the phone in order to move them toward a purchase. This is another great reason to make sure that your staff is well-trained and has access to resources about your products and services in order to help convert more calls into customers.
“It’s not our fault.” Don’t go there – just don’t.
Never. Say. This. Sure, in some situations your business may not be at fault when it comes to customer complaints, but responding defensively or rudely will only upset your customer even more. Instead of taking an aggressive or argumentative tone, make sure that your staff listens completely to customer complaints and responds with professionalism and empathy. Accept the complaint, apologize for any mistakes, and try to solve the issue while you have the customer on the phone. If you can’t immediately solve the caller’s problem, ensure that someone who can follows up with them promptly before they decide to voice their complaint elsewhere, like an online review site, about their dissatisfaction with your business.
How does your business stack up when it comes to handling phone calls? What other best practices should businesses make sure they use when they have a prospect or customer on the phone? Let us know with a comment!
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.
Last updated 4 months ago
Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any online marketing strategy, but do you have a solid understanding of this marketing tactic and how to use best practices to help your business rank well in organic search? Here’s a look at the top three key SEO principles you need to be successful on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.
SEO Skill #1: Write Keyword-Optimized Content
With its Penguin 2.0 release, quality website content remains one of the main factors in determining high Google search rank, according to Matt Cutts of Google. “Content” is the umbrella term for what you write, upload, share, and post online. This can include everything from website and blog content, images, and videos to downloadable PDFs or slide presentations. Creating and posting high-quality content on your website and blog provides a rich and engaging experience for your readers, which the search engines reward with high rankings. The more content that your readers read, comment on, share, re-pin, re-tweet and like online, the more Google, Bing, and Yahoo! will determine that the content you are providing is valuable.
An important tactic for creating valuable website content is the strategic use of keywords. So what is a keyword? It’s simply the term for a word or phrase that you believe people are looking for on search engines that you want your website or blog post to rank well for. To use keywords strategically, it’s important to start with keyword research so that you can identify the best keywords for your content. Then, use these keywords along with related terms naturally within copy.
For example, let’s say you’re writing content for the website of your brake repair shop in Dallas, Texas. “Brake repair Dallas, TX” would be a localized keyword phrase you may want to use throughout your website copy. But it’s important to remember not to overdo it with keyword stuffing, which in this case might sound something like this: “Need break repair work in Dallas, TX? We offer the best brake repair in Dallas, Texas. Our prices on break repair in Dallas, Texas can’t be beat. So call us to book your break repair in Dallas, TX today.” This is a prime example of what not to do.
Rather, your writing and use of keywords should sound natural. If Google determines that your website copy is stuffed with keywords, you can be penalized with a lower-ranking website. A good rule of thumb is that your selected keyword or keyword phrase should represent no more than 5 percent of your copy.
To improve the rank of your site for your target keywords, it’s also important to use them in your page meta descriptions, title tags, and anchor text, which are part of your website’s code and typically accessible through your site’s or blog’s content management system.
SEO Skill #2: Drive Inbound Links with Shareable Content
An inbound link, also known as a backlink, is one that links to your website from a completely different site. In other words, when other sites link to your Web material, it creates an inbound link. This signals to search engines like Google that another site on the Web views your content as an authority. Search engines see websites that have multiple inbound links as more authoritative and rank them higher, and this is still true in Google’s Penguin 2.0 algorithm.
That means the more other sites and people link to your content, the better your odds of ranking higher in a search engine. In order to get more inbound links, it’s important to create compelling content and blog posts that people want to share – because a share is inherently a link back to your content. Share your blog posts on social media, promote them in emails, and include links to them when you write guest content on other blogs or publications to help generate more inbound links to your content. You can also include URLs to your content in your PDFs, images, videos, and more so when those get shared, there’s still a reference others can use to link back to the source — you. This is especially important when creating infographics as a content marketing tactic.
Internal links — those that link from your website or blog posts to other Web pages or posts on your site — are also valued by search engines, so be sure to refer back to your own Web material using inbound links whenever you can.
SEO Skill #3: Be Active on Social Media
When it comes to SEO, search engines love social media. What does this mean exactly? Basically, Google, Bing and Yahoo! look at social media signals as a key factor in their ranking algorithms. So, it’s important to include a social media strategy in your content marketing program to help improve your SEO.
It’s also important to be active on all the top social media sites, because this helps you own more “shelf space” on the search engines. In other words, by claiming and actively using social media profiles for your business, you create more pages that can index for your business keywords, so that when consumers search for you, there are more pages on a variety of sites that can lead them to your business.
A Google+ page and a Facebook business page are great places to start. Once you have your social media pages created and launched, you can begin sharing, commenting, and engaging with your prospects and customers.
For your social media to help boost your SEO, it’s important to both engage and educate your online audience who in turn will share that content with others. Content sharing increases online traffic, creates inbound links, and promotes social signals — all of which can help you rank better on search engines when people search for you.
Have you used these SEO skills in your business marketing? Let us know with a comment.
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.
Last updated 4 months ago
When it comes to measuring the return on investment, or ROI, of online marketing, small businesses are often at a loss. And with good reason – ROI is a tricky thing to determine, much less make sense of. So in today’s Ask ReachLocal video, we not only discuss why it’s valuable to calculate your return on investment, but we break down measuring your marketing ROI into a few easy steps. Watch the video now to learn how to:
Get started measuring marketing ROI
Set SMART goals for your business
Track calls and other metrics
Determine lifetime customer value
Tie ROI back to your marketing strategy
How is your business measuring marketing ROI? What are some best practices you’re using to help you effectively track your marketing efforts and tie the results back to your strategy?
For more videos about online marketing basics, check out our Ask ReachLocal playlist on YouTube.
Last updated 1 month ago
At ReachLocal, we’re constantly looking for new ways to transform local business and forge the way for new online solutions for the local space. That’s why we are excited to announce two new offerings for local businesses in the home services industry. First is ReachCommerce, a new local commerce platform for home services clients. The second is a strategic partnership with Yelp to offer consumers the ability to book appointments with ReachCommerce businesses in real time, directly through their profiles on Yelp.
First, we are announcing the launch of ReachCommerce, our new local commerce system for home services merchants, that enables them our clients to digitize their back-office operations, automate interactions with customers, and track their marketing effectiveness.
ReachCommerce fully automates and optimizes every step of the local commerce lifecycle, from online customer booking to fleet management to mobile payment processing. The ReachCommerce software is pre-loaded on technicians’ iPads to help manage their schedules, customer information, and mobile estimates and invoicing while on the road.
ReachCommerce also features an online booking widget that integrates with merchants’ existing calendaring system, allowing customers to see real-time technician availability, immediately book appointments, and receive automatic appointment reminders.
This booking widget technology will also be harnessed to enable ReachCommerce clients to offer booking functionality on the Yelp website through our partnership.
Beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, users of ReachCommerce will have the ability to automatically integrate this booking functionality into their Yelp profiles. Yelp visitors will be able to book appointments in real-time, directly through the site.
“We view this partnership with Yelp as tremendous acceleration of our local commerce strategy we announced earlier this year,” said Zorik Gordon, ReachLocal’s co-founder and CEO. “The home services market will invariably undergo the kind of offline to online transformation the restaurant and travel industries have already experienced. Leveraging the power of Yelp Platform is one of the many ways ReachCommerce can help local service providers ensure they prosper in an era of digital transformation.”
ReachCommerce compliments ReachEdge, a new marketing automation system within the ReachLocal Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) suite of products. Together, these offerings help local merchants book more business, optimize their marketing ROI, and grow their profits.
Learn More about ReachCommerce
Pricing for ReachCommerce starts at $199 per month, with an additional a $2 per booking or $89 per technician fee. To license ReachCommerce, speak with one of our software specialists, or learn more about the platform, visit http://www.reachcommerce.com or call 888-369-5810.