Last updated 6 months ago
Did you know that 83% of people surveyed by Online Marketing Institute said they sometimes leave a website because it takes too many clicks to find what they want? And, according to Online Marketing Coach and Small Business Trends, 70% of business websites don’t ask site visitors to take any action, like calling for a free quote or filling out an email contact form (also called a “call to action”)?
Common website mistakes like these often keep business websites from reaching their full potential and miss the goal of getting businesses the new customers they want. In fact, mistakes like cluttered messaging, poor design, or an unclear call to action, can result in fewer people finding your site, fewer conversions from site visitors, and, ultimately, lost potential customers.
In our newest ebook, Try This, Not That: 10 Website Mistakes & How to Avoid Them, you’ll see 10 common website mistakes that businesses make. You’ll also see the solutions to these mistakes along with before-and-after website makeovers from actual ReachLocal clients using the ReachEdge system, which combines a smart website and lead management to help clients turn more visitors into customers.
The good news is these mistakes are easy to overcome. Download our ebook now to see if you’re making any of these mistakes and how to fix them so you can stop leaking leads from your website.
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 6 months ago
In the world of online marketing, 2013 held many new changes and trends. Some we weren’t very surprised by, but others really shook up the way businesses use the Web to attract new customers. Here’s a quick look at five biggest online marketing trends that will impact your business in 2014 and how to get the most out of them.
1. The Mobile Web
Last year saw a continued growth in the use of the mobile Web, thanks to record numbers of both smartphone and tablet purchases. In fact, mobile devices now account for half of U.S. adults’ time spent online.
And if you aren’t already optimizing your business website, local listings, and other online marketing for mobile devices, you need to start right away. For beginners, it’s as simple as making sure your phone number, address, operating hours, and website are listed accurately and consistently on both Google+ Local and Yelp listings (which feed mobile results on Google Maps and Apple Maps, respectively) to help ensure that consumers can find you when searching for a business like yours from a mobile device. In order to put your best step forward in mobile, make sure having a mobile-optimized website is on your 2014 to-do list.
2. Big Data
Chances are you’ve heard or read something including the latest business buzzword “big data.” Although local businesses might not have access to data on the same scale as large tech industries, the trend still applies. Every day, consumers are providing all kinds of data to businesses and websites. And even though you may not be the direct source they are giving this information to, there are many ways that you can access it and use it. For instance, on social media sites, comments, shares, likes, retweets, checkins, +1s, etc. provide you with information about what types of content fans and followers find interesting and entertaining. Plus, analytics built into social media sites show details like the demographics of your fans and followers and the days and times they engage most often with your pages. Plus, website tracking software, like that included in ReachEdge, works behind the scenes of your website to help identify where your visitors come from and what actions they take on your website.
All of this information is incredibly beneficial to you, and taking the time to analyze it can help you create and publish content and optimize your marketing so that you spend more time and money on what gets you the most in return.
3. The Evolution of Social Media Sites
Setting up an account for your business on social media sites is only the beginning of being “on” social media. In order to get the most out of your social media sites, you should always stay up to date with the changes and updates as well. For example, in 2013 Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm in order to provide its users with more relevant content. Instagram announced a new advertising plan for businesses using its platform. Also, Pinterest took a step at giving businesses an opportunity to localize pins with Place Pins.
These changes should inspire you to first take a look at your business social media pages to make sure they are all up to date (if you need help with the basics, check out this seven-day social media makeover guide). Plus, as more types and sizes of businesses embrace the use of social media, consumers’ news feeds will become filled with messages from more businesses. Creating engaging and relevant content, like product benefits, information about local organizations you support, and customer testimonials, can help fans pay attention to you and share your content. This year, find what makes your customers love you and promote that sentiment across your social media presence.
4. Consumer Expectation for Social Customer Care
Today, people discover new businesses, ask friends and family for recommendations, find and share coupons, have access to real customer reviews, make purchases, ask for support, and give their praises (and complaints) to businesses – all online and most through social media. This has also shifted the way consumers interact with businesses, creating a new type of customer service called social customer care in which customers turn to a business’ social media page for topics they once called or emailed about.
As the use of social customer care grows, it will become even more important to have someone on your end ready to meet customers’ needs. You can do this by having a person or team of people monitor your social media pages regularly for direct posts to your business or posts that mention your business. If these people cannot directly solve the problem, make sure they have the right contact information for someone who can. Lastly, ensure that all issues are followed up with in at least 24 hours. This benefits both your customer – who now knows you are at least listening to them – and you – who now demonstrates that you put your customers first.
5. Continued Google Search Algorithm Changes
In this recent blog post, we stated that “2013 was a busy year for Google…” and this is definitely not an understatement. Recent features have given more weight in search results to high-quality content from authors who connect their content to their Google + profile. Some SEO feathers were ruffled with Google’s “(Not Provided)” update, which means specific keyword data is not shown in Google Analytics. Hummingbird gave an analytical brain to Google search that answers search queries rather than just matches keywords. And now, Ad Extensions are factored into quality score, so businesses that use the extensions in their search advertising can achieve a higher quality score and in turn, get better visibility on Google search. And in 2014, we can only expect to see a lot more impact from these updates.
These updates demonstrate Google’s continuous effort to provide searchers the most accurate results, not just those that fit a checklist of matching keywords. In order to make sure your business shows to consumers searching for your products and services keep these things in mind:
Write content for consumers, not for search engines. When you do this, keywords will become part of the copy and not the focus of the copy.
Use relevant Ad Extensions as part of your search engine advertising to make your ads more usable for searchers.
Optimize your website for mobile devices to reach consumers on the go.
Track how consumers get to your website so that you can better optimize your online marketing and advertise for better conversions.
All of these online marketing trends continue to point out the importance of building your entire Web presence. Not only do you need to build your presence everywhere consumers are searching, surfing, and socializing, but you also need to stay on top of the ever-changing best practices to optimize your business in each of those places so you can get the most out of them.
Is your business ready for 2014? What online marketing trends and tactics are at the top of your to-do list this year? 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 6 months ago
We are proud to announce that ReachLocal has been named the winner of Google’s 2013 North America Premier SMB Partner Award for “Best Quality Accounts.” We were selected as the winner in this category for having the highest average Google AdWords Quality Score during the judging period.
The Google Premier SMB partner program helps local businesses connect with online advertising partners like ReachLocal that are trusted to successfully create, manage, and optimize their search advertising campaigns.
Recognized as a Google Premier SMB Partner since 2011, ReachLocal continues to meet Google’s high standards of excellence in search engine advertising through Google AdWords. We continuously strive to deliver this expertise directly to our clients through:
Campaign experts with extensive Google product and account management training
Full-service campaign management and detailed reporting
One-on-one client service and online marketing guidance
Together, this enables our clients to get the most out of their search engine advertising.
We are extremely honored to not only be a part of the Google Premier SMB partner program but to also be recognized for the high quality of our accounts. Read the entire press release or learn more about what being a Google Premier SMB Partner means for our clients.
Last updated 6 months ago
It’s 2014! Now that the new year is in full swing, it’s a great time to take a look at your company’s Web presence to make sure it’s up to date and refreshed. After all, when was the last time you checked your company’s Twitter profile, Facebook description, or list of services on LinkedIn? It’s important to make sure you have your best foot forward across the Web. Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a simple seven-day checklist you can use to makeover your social media presence and start the new year off right.
Day 1: Audit Your Current Social Media Presence
Where does your company have pages and profiles across the Web? Take stock of all your social media accounts and make sure your overall social media presence is polished, professional, and up to date. Here’s a checklist for getting ready and starting your audit:
Create an Audit Doc: If you don’t have one, create a document with a list of every social media account your company has claimed, including the user name, URL, and important information for each site. This will make your next social media audit a much quicker process!
Update Your Passwords! While you’re creating your initial audit document, log in to each account you own and update your passwords. Make sure that each site has a strong, secure, unique password. Since several notable sites have had user passwords compromised recently, it’s important to make sure your passwords are fresh and new. Make sure you have a different password for each account, and if multiple people need to access your passwords, search for a secure password manager. Here are some tips for creating better passwords.
Create a Task List: As you go through each site, note on your audit document each of the following that need to be created, revised, or updated: descriptions, profile photos, cover photos, logos, videos, and product and service descriptions.
Double Check the Facts: It’s important to make sure that your basic business information, like your business phone number, brick-and-mortar address, Web addresses, and email addresses, are all updated and consistently listed across each site. Make sure that the way you spell, punctuate, and abbreviate each word is consistent on each site you use, because this information is important for making sure search engines attribute your business with proper citations.
Align Your Assets: If you will need creative help in updating your logo, profile image, or copy on your sites, make sure to put the right requests in to the right people so you will be armed with all the assets you need for the rest of your makeover!
Day 2: Google+ Local
If you haven’t claimed your Google+ Local page, stop now, download this ebook, and do it today. If you have, it’s time to give it a refresh. Log in to Google+ and navigate to your page from the square profile image in the upper right-hand corner. Once you’ve selected your page, you can go to the individual elements you want to change.
Refresh Your Cover Image: To change this, hover over it and click “Change Cover” on the cover image. You can select from a gallery, upload your own photos, or pick images from your albums on Google+. The image can be up to 2120x1192 pixels, which takes up a significant portion of the screen for anyone who visits your page. So, make yours memorable, interesting, and relevant to your business.
Update the About Section: Select the “About” tab on your profile and navigate to the “Story” module, where you can update your page’s tagline or add an introduction. You can format these with bold, italics, and even hyperlinks to share more about your business, products, and services.
Check Links: What types of links should you add? Consider adding links to relevant sites like your website, blog, and social media profiles. Make sure these are all working links with up-to-date content, since this profile is associated with Google and helps it know what other accounts are affiliated with your company.
Confirm Business Details & Contact Information: If you have a page that’s a local page, you’ll also want to update it to make sure all your details are optimized and current, because this content feeds into other Google properties like Google Maps. So check your phone number, address, email, and hours of operation to make sure they are up to date and consistent across your Web presence.
Day 3: Facebook
Update Your Cover Photo: Your cover image can be 851 x 315 pixels. It should be a unique image that represents your company and its current look, feel, and emphasis. Make sure you have rights to the image you use, and don’t infringe on any copyrights or trademarks. Also, keep in mind that your cover image can be made up of no more than 20% text, so focus on a bold and inviting image.
Update Your Profile Image/Logo: Your profile image is 160x160 pixels and should be recognizable to those who follow you on Facebook. While it’s displayed as an overlay in the corner of your cover image, it must be able to still stand alone in the newsfeed and should be clear and recognizable at 90x90 pixels, the size it will appear in the feed.
Arrange & Update Apps & Icons: You can customize which top “apps” you display on your page by default, so make sure the most relevant apps are showing at the top of your page (photos will always appear as your first app, but you can select the other three). These will appear next to the “About” section of your page. So, if you have outdated, old, or irrelevant apps showing, change it up! Also, you can select new “cover images” for many apps by selecting the down arrow and the edit pencil. The cover images for new apps should be 111x74 pixels.
Update Your Page Content: Under “Edit Page” you can change various pieces of content affiliated with your page, such as your subcategories, address, short description (this shows up under “About” on your public page and is short, so keep it pithy!), awards, products, and more. Make sure the most updated information and relevant business details are reflected under this Edit view.
Update Settings: When was the last time you looked at the settings of your Facebook page? Under “Edit Page” you can select to see exactly how your page is operating and make sure you have it set up ideally for how you are running it today. For example, you can change the posting ability, private messaging settings, tagging ability, restrictions, and other page settings that affect how your page functions. You can also view other settings such as the apps you have installed on your page, who is set as an admin, and more. It’s a good idea to take a look at these every once in a while, so refine your settings when you do your Facebook makeover.
Day 4: Twitter
To update your Twitter account, you need to click the gear icon and select “settings” to edit your profile. Once there, you can update a number of things under the following sections.
Update Your Logo or Profile Photo – This should ideally be a square photo that uses your photo or logo and is recognizable at a small size, like 90x90 pixels.
Update or Add a Cover Photo – Did you know Twitter also has a cover photo feature? The recommended size for this image is 1252x626 pixels, with a maximum file size of 5 MB.
Update Your Bio Section – You have 160 characters to say something interesting about yourself, so make sure your Twitter about section is up to date with your latest job title, interests, and facts.
Double Check Your Location – Make sure your location is up to date with the most relevant location for you. If you have multiple locations, consider making the location that of your main location or headquarters.
Confirm Your Website: You’ve only got one hyperlink you can share from your Twitter profile, so make it the most impactful location, whether it’s a website, page, article, or another social media page.
Refresh Your Background: You can create a custom background for your Twitter profile, and many companies choose to have a custom background that coordinates with their cover image and profile photo. In order to display well on most monitors, experts recommend using an image that’s 1600x1200 pixels and under 2 MB in size.
Coordinate Background & Link Colors: Make sure if you update your background that you use coordinating colors that display well together.
Make sure to go through a list of all the apps you have authorized to access your Twitter account and revoke access to any apps that you no longer use or that you don’t remember authorizing in order to keep your account secure.
Day 5: LinkedIn
To update your LinkedIn company page, log in to your LinkedIn account, hover over your profile image in the upper right-hand bar and click “Manage” next to your company page. This will take you to a view with several editable tabs – “Home,” “Careers,” and “Services.” To edit what’s on these tabs, select the tab and then click the blue “Edit” button in the upper right-hand side, then navigate to the section you want to update on each page.
Page Details: Has your business grown or changed since you set up your LinkedIn profile? Here’s where you will make these changes. Make sure your company type, size, URL, industry, and locations are all up to date.
Company Description: Make sure you’ve got the latest description of your company, which can be up to 2,000 characters.
Image: This is essentially your LinkedIn cover image that displays prominently on your page. Make sure this cover image is fresh, relevant, and on-trend with your current marketing look and feel. This image needs to be 646x220 pixels and can be up to 2 MB in size.
Standard Logo: Your standard logo needs to fit the ratio of 100x60 pixels for LinkedIn.
Square Logo: This is a version of your logo that appears on some places in LinkedIn, like the feed. It should be 50x50 pixels or square, since it will be resized to fit that size.
Company Specialties: This is a place where you can list different products, services, and specialties your company focuses on. Make sure this is up to date by adding any new services or major product lines and removing those you no longer offer.
Cover Image: This is a separate image at the top of your careers page. It should be a minimum of 970x240 pixels and can be cropped to fit the space. This image should invoke why potential employees would want to work with you and complement the look and feel of your overall branding.
Content – Description, Video, Slides, Images: You can customize what’s on this careers page to include a description, video, slides, images, and even a custom set of links.
Testimonials: You can even include quotes and testimonials from employees who work with you in this section, so make sure these feature current – and real! – employees who are glad to say why they love working for your company.
Products & Services: You can customize this page with product logos, images, descriptions, names, and even video modules. Make sure to spend some time configuring and updating this page to best showcase your products and services.
Day 6 – YouTube
Go to “My Channel” under the dropdown menu, and then select the areas you want to edit. You can learn more about how to optimize your channel on this page called “Channel Optimization” from YouTube. The site estimates this process should take about an hour. Here are a few elements you’ll want to update:
Channel Art: You can add photos to your YouTube channel by uploading them or accessing photos already affiliated with your Google+ account. YouTube recommends a photo at 2560x1440 pixels to best display across all devices (desktop, TV, mobile, tablets) with a “safe” area within this image for text and logos of 1546x423 pixels centered within the image.
Channel Icon: You’ll want to make sure your icon is a high-resolution, square image that displays well at smaller sizes. 800x800pixels is what YouTube recommends.
Description: Under the “About,” section, update the description of your company, and optimize this description for search. The first few sentences of this description show up most prominently on the site, so make this an accurate description and include relevant keywords.
Links: You can include links to relevant sites such as your website and social pages.
Videos: Make sure that you have the latest, most relevant videos featured on your page. It’s also important to go through each video and make sure your titles are descriptive enough to get viewers to watch your video and contain important keywords they use to search for your videos. Check your descriptions as well to make sure they include critical keywords and even links to your website or product and service pages so they can learn more information. You can also update your videos by creating playlists and organizing them by type, product, or service, to make watching your content an easier, more enjoyable experience for visitors.
Day 7 – Pinterest
If you aren’t already using Pinterest, now is a great time to consider it. The site is growing exponentially and is the second-highest driver of website traffic of all social media platforms, driving more website traffic than Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit combined. If you’re just setting up your account, check out these tips. If yours is just due for a refresh, log in, locate your profile icon in the upper right hand, hover, and select “Your Profile & Pins,” then, select the pencil under your description and select “Edit Profile.”
Account Type: If you joined Pinterest before it had the option for business pages, you can convert your account type to a business at business.pinterest.com. This gives you more options than a personal account does, such as a business type, contact person, and business name, rather than a first name/last name of a personal account.
Profile Image: This should be your business logo and is a square image format at 211x211 pixels, which displays at various sizes across the site.
About: Make sure your about section is relevant, updated, and optimized for search. You have 200 characters to convey what your business is, what you share with Pinterest users, and why you’re a great brand to follow.
Location: Make sure you’ve got the most relevant location affiliated with your Pinterest account.
Boards, Board Covers & Descriptions: In addition to making sure your Pinterest profile is updated, it’s a great idea to refresh your Pinterest boards. You can update the name of your boards to reflect a new branding or messaging theme. Give new life to your profile by selecting new cover images for each board and arranging them into a new order on your page. You can also update the description or category for each board by clicking “Edit.”
Add Maps: A new Pinterest feature is the ability to add maps to boards, called Place Pins. This is a great way to participate in content about your location and help attract local Pinterest users to content you share on the site.
Who knew there were so many different aspects of your social media presence that could use a good update? Using this handy guide, you can refresh your social media presence to start off 2014 with a fresh start. Any other sites you’ll include in your social media refresh? Sound off 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+
Amy Neeley contributed to this article. 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 7 months ago
This year, some truly memorable videos made it onto out list of the top viral videos of 2013. Chances are you’ve seen or heard of many of them already, so we wanted to round them up for your viewing (or re-viewing) pleasure and also share some tips and takeaways from each one that you can apply to your own video marketing process. Here’s a look at some of the top viral videos of the year and what you can learn from them:
1) Kmart Ship My Pants
“Ship my pants? You’re kidding?” So starts the funny viral Kmart ad appropriately titled “Ship My Pants.” With over 20 million views, this ad delivers punchy, funny, euphemistic one-liners all centered on the use of well-scripted humor in this vein. But it’s not all just for fun and giggles. The punch line has a purpose: “If you can’t find what you’re looking for in store, we’ll find it at kmart.com right now, and ship it to you, for free,” the viral ad concludes.
The ad was so successful, Kmart released a series of euphemistic humor ads this year, including “Big Gas Savings,” promoting the store’s gas discount, and “Yo Mama,” which turned classic playground taunts on their head to promote the store’s layaway program. The takeaway from these viral ads?
Humor Works – Well-scripted humor can really pack a punch, especially when it’s well-delivered and tailored to your audience. Particularly funny and entertaining ads can have a life of their own online as well.
Pair Puns with Good Promotions – Not only did Kmart tackle humor admirably, they also paired each pun with a particular promotion that served as the punch line of each ad, helping the consumer not only have a nice chuckle, but also to remember the message of each promotion as well.
2) Dove Real Beauty Sketches
In this online video, Dove had a forensic artist sketch drawings of women based on their descriptions of themselves, and then a separate sketch done by a stranger they had met that day. The sketches side by side demonstrate how the negative perceptions women had of themselves shined through in the original sketches.
“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty,” said one participant in the project. The video is a part of Dove’s ongoing Campaign for Real Beauty, which uses powerful, positive messages and images of women and has been a huge success for the brand. The video’s tagline “You are more beautiful than you think” captures the spirit of this video, whose positive, uplifting message helped catapult this ad to over 60 million views and counting. What can you take away from this viral video success?
Humanize Your Customer – By using real women in their videos, their messages have resonated with millions of women. You can humanize your customer in your online videos by using real customers, telling stories, sharing case studies, and sharing authentic quotes or testimonials.
Get Emotional – Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty isn’t afraid to use emotion to make a strong, powerful statement. Video can be a powerful medium for sharing stories, concepts, and ideas that stir strong emotions, so if it’s the right fit for your business, don’t shy away from appealing to emotion in your online videos.
3) The Camp Gyno
“It’s a serious responsibility,” says the adorable star of one of this year’s with 6.5 million views, the video helped successfully launch a new brand called HelloFlo, a monthly subscription service for women.
When it launched, the video ad was sent by the company founder to women-focused sites and industry publications that ended up covering the ad’s unique angle. It was then passed along to millions of viewers via social media. So what can you learn from this video success story?
Tell Great Stories – This video was such a success because it makes great use of storytelling, uses humor, and presents an often awkward, yet very normal, part of life in the form of a great story – that also happens to position the product as a perfect solution. Plus, the video was interesting enough for media sites to pick it up and comment on its approach, helping to boost its visibility.
Target Your Customer – Another thing that makes this ad so spot-on is that it stars a girl experiencing a rite of passage, arguably unique in the market for this kind of product, and something that appeals both to parents of said girls as well as girls themselves. The takeaway here is to be knowledgeable about your target customer and find unique ways to target them in your online videos and ads.
4) What Does the Fox Say?
Chances are you’ve heard the catchy tune “What Does the Fox Say,” which not only became a viral hit, but also has become a bit of a meme in and of itself. But what you might not know is that it was originally created as a promo for the creators’ new season of the Norwegian talk show “Tonight with Ylvis” and that it was “created to fail.”
The duo says they intended to create a video that flopped in order to have a funny sketch for their talk show. The video did anything but flop. Instead, it has had over 273 million views, one of the breakout viral videos of the year.
“Viral” Isn’t the Goal – You’ll often hear people say they are creating a “viral” video, but most experts will tell you that truly viral videos are difficult to engineer. Instead, you should aim to surprise and delight your viewers. Say the creators of this viral video: “We’re not chasing the next hit. We’re just making stuff that we think is funny.” Which is exactly what they are in business to do.
5) Harlem Shake
In case you missed it (or have already forgotten), the beginning of this year kicked off with a new kind of video meme centered around the song Harlem Shake. In the meme videos, the song plays while participants dance to the song in funny costumes in a short clip, usually about 30 seconds. The original video that kicked the meme off was parodied countless times by everyone from companies like Facebook to celebrities Stephen Colbert to the Norwegian Army and various sports teams. The Miami Heat’s version of the meme video has received over 46 million views.
Videos Can Be Memes Too – Memes have become a popular way for companies to participate in pop culture to engage and entertain fans online. The Harlem Shake was a popular video meme that many large and small companies participated in. But staying up to date on what’s happening in pop culture, you can create videos that appeal to memes and trends and add some easy entertainment to your video repertoire.
Bonus: A ReachLocal Harlem Shake Video
These are just a few of the top viral videos of 2013. What were your favorites? What are your takeaways? Share your thoughts in a comment!