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    Online Display Advertising on the Rise [Study]

    Last updated 7 months ago

    Thinking about spending marketing dollars on online display advertising? You’re not alone. According to findings published by Econsultancy, in association with Rubicon Project, companies continued to increase their spending on online display advertising during the past four years. The study, “Online Advertisers Survey Report,” notes that 67% of respondents indicated they increased their online spending, compared to 57% of respondents in 2009. Just 14% of respondents indicated they decreased their online display advertising.

    In his recent article, writer David Moth notes that this trend is a combination of a stabilizing economy and increased confidence in online display advertising’s ability to deliver value.

    The survey asked 1,000 advertisers and publishers, “Has your spending on online display advertising gone up or down in the last year?” The responses are illustrated in the chart below.

    Are you planning on allocating your marketing budget toward display advertising?

    ReachLocal offers online display advertising and retargeting to help SMBs build awareness online. Learn more about our services.

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    7 Tips to Optimize Your Website for Conversions [Infographic]

    Last updated 7 months ago

    If you’re familiar with the consumer buying journey, you know that a website is the primary destination for your online prospects. But, many small business websites are not optimized to turn visitors into leads, causing them to lose valuable prospects. So, what does a website really need in order to drive more conversions from interested site visitors?

    According to our infographic "7 Website Essentials to Land You More Leads," 66% of small business websites lack a form-fill option and 40% of people will abandon a Web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. If this sounds like your website, you could be losing website visitors before they contact you. 

    Take a look at the infographic below to learn the seven website essentials you need to drive more conversions from your site visitors. 

    What website features are critical to getting leads for your business? Share them in the comments!

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    5 Small Business Insights from Content Marketing World

    Last updated 7 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+.

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    Meet ReachLocal's 2013 Star Award Winner: Christian Kligora

    Last updated 7 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.

    School's Back in Session! Know What's Being Said About Your College Online

    Last updated 7 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!

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    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.

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