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The State of Local SEO and How to Get More Local Customers

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Do you want to acquire more local customers from search?… Of course, you do!

First, you need to understand that SEO is no longer the way it used to be. A lot of has changed. In fact, the impact of these changes are more glaring in local search engine optimization.

When it comes to Local SEO, you need to get serious with Google My Business Page and citations.

When you implement both practices, you’re telling local consumers and search engines alike that you’re open for business. And your sales will possibly increase.

Remember that local searches are more likely to lead to sales, compared to non-local searches. According to a research study by Google, 18% of local smartphone searches generated a purchase within 24 hours.

Of course, links are still important to search rankings, but the approach has changed a lot in the last 3 years. You now need to understand the on-page technicalities first, before moving out to get links.

Make no mistakes about it. Modern SEO boils down to listening to and attending to your website’s visitor – people who consume your content, after clicking on your search result from Google organic listings.

It’s no secret that you have to do more to thrive in the search these days. If you choose to manipulate search using blackhat techniques, you may end up losing your precious rankings.

That’s why I created this in-depth article, to help you understand the State of Local SEO & where to pay attention now.

Your SEO is not all about ranking #1

If you think that SEO is all about getting ranked in #1 position, then you’re making a deadly mistake. Of course who wouldn’t desire that spot – but that’s not the focus.

At the end of the day, the focus of SEO is to build sustainable rankings for your target keywords. You want to rank today, tomorrow, and even next year.

For this to happen, you need an effective social media strategy – because social signals have become an integral part of organic ranking factors.

Once you pass some social juice to your web pages, every other effort would yield better results. In fact, your CTR will weigh more – because you have a lot of people engaging with your content on social media sites.

So the #1 result in Google may not always get the most clicks. Remember that majority of your searchers, especially those outside internet marketing field don’t know the difference between organic and paid search results.

To a large extent, what determines whether a search result (both organic and paid) gets clicked on is the title, meta description, and page URL. And more importantly, the local map packs with reviews and star ratings.

For example, I searched for “plumber” but I don’t feel excited with these results. So I’ll skip them and scroll down a bit.

Scrolling down the same page, a search result in the Google maps caught my attention. I thought I should click on this one. With all these reviews and ratings from real customers, how can I go wrong?

Your localized link is your new advantage

In today’s local rankings, where you got your inbound links play a vital role in the search rankings.

More so, if you get more links from relevant directories and websites in the same geographical area, Google may reward you better.

And for that to work, you need to gain links to your brand social media, to your product page (or specific service page), and pass more link juice to your video content. [image

To surmount your competition, you don’t need the best website design or a huge marketing budget. You need compelling content and trusted backlinks. It’s your new advantage.

Compelling content will help you rank for several long-tail keywords that you’re not directly targeting. And being on Google’s first page drives more clicks to your local business landing pages.

Note that when you get few inbound links from a website with high domain authority, this can improve your rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

On the flip side, low domain authority websites can result in a nose dive for your web pages that are already climbing the top of organic listings. Ahrefs conducted an exclusive research study in this respect.

If you look at it closely, you’ll agree with me that modern SEO isn’t about keywords, but on the searcher’s intent.

For example, why do people search for “small business tools” in Google?

Are they looking for tools to buy, or they just want to learn how fast new tools are being released in the small business field?

An in-depth market research will answer that question.

Higher Organic Rankings depends on how much you engage your site users

Truly, links are the lifeblood of local search rankings.

But all links are not created equal.

Since 2014, brands that proactively research authority websites, build relationships, and eventually earned links to their web pages, have seen a spike in organic rankings as the year goes by.

The imminent challenge that local businesses face is the time and expertise to build these links. If you’re in the same both, the solution is to:

Build engagement with site visitors.

Engagement is so important.

For instance, when website visitors are engaged, they’ll share content, cite it, leave valuable comments, write honest reviews, and push your brand to the spotlight through word of mouth.

When I did a search for plumber earlier, did you notice what inspired me to click on a search result?

Reviews and star ratings.

You’ll often find reviews and star ratings in rich snippets of the organic search results.

Reviews are hard to get.

Reviews speak volumes and show how responsive your customers and website visitors are towards your content or product.

Customer reviews may not improve your search rankings (at least Google hasn’t made it clear yet), but it improves user experience.

Consequently, the more reviews your local business garner, the more inspired and ready your customers will be. It can increase your product orders.

From the results above, I can boldly say that the trust level you have with customers can be directly or indirectly traced to how engaging your content is.

Yes the term “content engagement” has become a buzzword. So many local businesses throw it around, but only a few people truly knows what it means.

Of course engagement could mean several things at the same time. But when it comes to getting more local customers through content, the engagement that you want can be summarized in these few points:

  • Get local clients to click on your headline and read your content.
  • Your content inspires local clients to call your business.
  • Your ideal customers find your physical business address, and take steps to visit you now or later.
  • Get customers to place order on your online store.

And so forth.

At the end of the day, you want to track conversions, not some vanity metrics like reach, comments, and so on.

However, you can increase content engagement if you understand the consumer engagement cycle. This is more or less the various paths that your ideal customer must tour, before deciding on your business.

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Conclusion

Local SEO is all about telling great story of your brand without rambling endlessly. You don’t have to be a natural-born storyteller.

Great storytelling entrepreneurs thrive on a simple secret:

They understand their audience more than the average Joe.

In your page title, page description, and within your content, find reasons to tell stories that pique the user’s mind. Don’t stuff keywords. Instead, stuff your content with stories.

This is Marcus Sheridan’s strategy. Though he’s known as a pools guy, but by telling stories of his brand and the struggles he had to go through, his local business went international.

And guess what? Today, he generates more traffic from organic searches. Every challenge that you’ve experienced is a goldmine when creating content.

Tap into it – and tell the story – while driving your brand message home. Your local customers will understand it better.

 

This article was a contribution from Michael Chibuzor, who is a seasoned freelance writer. If you’re looking for long-form articles that drives traffic and sales, visit ContentMarketingUp.com.

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11 Ways to Build an Email List That Actually Yields ROI

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Every online business and brand needs to have a mailing list. It’s simply the best way to get subscribers to leave their personal information before they leave your site. Some of the largest websites and blogs on the world today do nearly all of their business through their mailing list.

When used properly, email campaigns can be one of the most effective marketing tactics for any brand. Campaign Monitor reports that email marketing can yield $38 for every dollar spent — but if you’re not targeting the right people, you’ll never see that kind of return on investment.

Building an opt-in email list can be tricky, especially as a website owner, but with the right tactics, you can translate subscribers into profits. Here’s what 11 YEC members had to say about creating an email list with ROI in mind.

1. Consistently Offer Valuable Content, Before and After Signup

You want access to the inboxes of potential leads, and you have to give them something in exchange. You can persuade people to give you that privilege with relevant and valuable content, compelling branding and trust. Bring leads to your site with social media posts, SEO, blog articles and videos; then offer even more valuable content in exchange for that all-important email address.

Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

2. Use Social Media to Target Your Audience

Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide brands with a way to create marketing campaigns that can target a specific demographic audience that will most likely buy their products and/or services. Simply create an online form that prompts the user to enter their email address in exchange for a 30-minute consultation or free download.

Codie Sanchez, www.CodieSanchez.com

3. Invest in Content Marketing That Speaks to Customer Needs

What has worked well for us is investing in content marketing and taking blogging seriously. Use sites like Quora and Answer the Public to find out the questions your target customer is asking. Then, come up with catchy titles and hire freelancers to write great articles that answer their questions. Optimize each blog post with opt-in forms and you’ll start forming a highly targeted email list.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

4. Build a List From Your Existing Subscribers

Buying a bulk email list is definitely not the way to go. If you’re looking at optimum return on investment, it is important that you focus on building a targeted email list. Your best bet is to turn to people who subscribe to newsletters through your website. Website owners should also consider providing users with relevant top-quality content in the form of e-books, white papers and blogs.

Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns

5. Hire an Email Marketer

People assume that once you have a list, it will simply sell itself. You have to make tactful and succinct drip sequences and carefully layer in your offers. If you’re just providing news, it’s important to consistently reiterate good content.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

6. Find Your Company’s Voice

Use your e-blasts to tell a story, and make sure there’s a consistent voice. Emails written by a company look like spam. Emails written by a singular voice with personality have the best chance of survival in this new frontier where social media has highlighted our fascination with the individual. If your Instagram and Facebook pages have a narrative, your e-blasts should too.

Anthony DiFiore, Neverland Events & Artist Management Corp.

7. Include a Short Survey With Email Signup

Ask three to four key questions with your signup form to shape a better email list with a more targeted audience. This will help you sift out the people who may not be as ready to buy from you or who are not interested at all.

Angela Ruth, Calendar

8. Offer Mutually Beneficial Incentives

Incentivization, when handled correctly, is a great way to build an effective (read: profitable) email list. Whether it’s a discount on your most popular product or service, or a link to a valuable resource or white paper, the key is to offer an incentive that is beneficial enough to encourage the sale while ensuring you are still meeting your margins.

John Scheer, Herman-Scheer

9. Use Engaging Pop Ups

Wheelio is an interactive exit-intent pop up that allows users to spin the wheel for a chance to win a prize after entering their email address. A user who is willing to engage with your pop up is clearly interested in receiving a special offer or promotion to use toward their next purchase. Thus, these users are more likely to engage with future emails and convert.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

10. Take Advantage of Pinterest

For us, Pinterest is the most effective way to build an email list. We use it when we publish a new blog post with a content upgrade, offer a freebie or launch a new product/service. We will link to a landing page where people can opt in to receive some type of download. We will then use BoardBooster for automation. Since we’ve started using Pinterest, our email list has grown by 35,000.

Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC

11. Focus on Segmented Journeys and User Intent

Simply slapping a form on your site will not work. List-growth magic happens when you identify top traffic sources to your site, then tailor the message and creative in your forms to that visitor journey. For example, if a Facebook ad for a red sweater drove them to your site, don’t show that visitor a generic form. Rather, present a specific form or offer including that same message and creative.

Ben Jabbawy, Privy

Turn Visitors into Customers through Email Marketing

Now that you’ve learned some of the best ways to convert site visitors and social audiences into high-value email subscribers, it’s time to start implementing these methods into your own site or business. Also, remember, it’s all a numbers game. Just 30 new email subscribers per day is more than 10,000 over the course of a year. Think small, to think big.

To see more expert roundups like this one, be sure to view our previous articles on improved Facebook marketing and the best tools for monitoring your brand online.

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Preparing for Cyber Monday: 15 Ways You Can Improve Sales and Reach

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The last couple months of the year are crucial for many consumer-focused companies. People are in the mood to buy during the holiday season, and there is a lot of competition for their attention.

In order to build up engagement, you need to create content that helps ease consumers into your sales funnel. Deals should be offered to people in the know — through subscriber lists and social media groups — but you should avoid encouraging people to wait to buy. Small micro sales can help, as they get people to check in regularly.

To help you narrow down the many options, we asked 15 entrepreneurs from YEC for their best advice on how to promote your fast-approaching Cyber Monday sale to increase its reach and success.

1. Expand Your Top Funnel Ad Buys

There’s still time to juice the opportunities you have in order to capture more volume during the holiday sales. Widen your top funnel with ad campaigns that target reach or brand recognition goals instead of actual conversions. The more people you can pixel for retargeting later this year, the better. This should be followed up with a strong retargeting campaign as your sales go live.

Derek Shanahan, SuperRewards

2. Collect Email Addresses

Start collecting email addresses by A/B testing different email capture forms on your website. Segment your email lists to send the most relevant offers to your customers based on how they interacted with your website and which sign-up form they submitted their information through.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

3. Use Pay-Per-Click Ads, Then Retarget

Launching an early pay-per-click ad group is a great way to get people aware of your promotions in the week leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. All throughout Thanksgiving weekend, launch a retargeting campaign for people who have clicked on your ads during the early stages of their research. This will keep your brand top of mind once a purchasing decision is finally made.

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

4. Have Chatbots Provide Offers

Chatbots share personalized messages with each person who contacts the company with a question. Before they leave, and after having their questions answered, the chatbot has time to search through purchase history and match the person up with one of many promotions you have developed, and then share that deal with a special link.

Murray Newlands, Sighted

5. Create Helpful Content

Creating content may take effort, but if it answers your target customer’s questions and moves them down the buying funnel, there are few things more effective. Other methods may involve more push, but content helps you pull your prospects and customers in to learn more about your offerings.

Karl Kangur, MRR Media

6. Don’t Get Too Specific

Promote the sale, but don’t offer specifics. That way you will minimize sales decreases in the time leading up to Cyber Monday. People wait to stockpile their usual items on sales, but if they don’t know they will be on sale, it will maximize non-deal sales for better overall margin. Ambiguous terms like “Biggest sale ever!” can be used to pique interest without killing normal sales.

Marc Lobliner, TigerFitness.com and MTS Nutrition

7. Provide Early-Bird Specials

Promote your Cyber Monday deals through a social media campaign and offer a promo code they can use on Cyber Monday for larger discounts. This not only allows you to display your Cyber Monday deals, but also encourages customers to visit your site and take advantage of the promo code the day the deals become live. Start off with larger discounts and slowly decrease them as you approach Cyber Monday.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

8. Create Story Videos

Create videos that start highlighting what you have planned for the holidays. Make little stories around each product highlight to get people feeling warm and fuzzy about the upcoming holiday season. Include helpful hints for your audience as they start their shopping. Early shopping promotions can be included to start ramping up sales early on.

Angela Ruth, Calendar

9. Tap Into Amazon Deals

If you’re selling on Amazon — and if you’re not, you should be — take advantage of features such as Lightning Deals. While you have to provide a substantial discount, the volume you could generate during Cyber Monday or for the holidays is incredible, not to mention the additional exposure that comes along with it. Entire product lines can be popularized in this fashion.

Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

10. Offer Free Shipping

How many times have you wanted to buy a product but decided not to because of its shipping cost? Too many, I’ll bet. People love it when things are free. Free shipping is the cherry on top of your Cyber Monday discount sale sundae. Whether you use social media, your blog or ads to market your products, make sure that your customers know you can deliver your products free of charge.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

11. Hold Mini Sales Until the Big Day

Drum up excitement for the big sale with tiny daily sales that get unlocked every day until Cyber Monday. One great way to make this interesting is by bringing back every item that was on sale throughout the last few weeks so that anyone who missed the sale they wanted has one more chance!

Adam Steele, Loganix

12. Use Instagram’s Poll

Instagram Stories are becoming a popular platform for marketers — and with good reason! Instagram recently launched a tool called Poll that allows users to ask their audience interactive questions. This is a great way to let your audience pick what they want and get them excited. Using data to choose the perfect promotion will increase engagement and give you a great holiday season.

– Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

13. Get Strong Returns Through Facebook Canvas

Our ROI from Facebook Canvas ads has been over 50 times in some recent cases. Those ads are so visual and interactive that they really engage the users and drive them to act. For a Cyber Monday deal, use a Facebook Canvas ad to drive to a landing page with a wait list for the deal. Give a small incentive to the first set number of consumers on the list.

Brennan White, Cortex

14. Advertise Subscriber-Only Discounts

In the weeks before Cyber Monday, advertise subscriber-only discounts via social media, your blog and email. Only shoppers subscribed to your mailing list get the discounts. Encourage customers to share the discounts with their network. It’s a great way to generate advanced interest and build an email list of shoppers you can target with specific promotions.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

15. Partner With Niche Influencers

Influencers are a great way expand your reach and connect with consumers, but many people make the mistake of trying to find influencers with a wide reach rather than a deep one. Focus on influencers in a relevant niche and prioritize high-quality content. Build them into your Cyber Monday plan and share your promotions and sales with them, which they’ll share with their audience.

Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

How to Make the Most Out of Cyber Monday and the Holidays

Now that you’ve read through some of the most actionable tips for ways to not only make more sales and generate Revenue during Cyber Monday but to also increase brand exposure for your service and products. it’s time for you to actually Implement some of these methods into your business.

In short, it doesn’t matter what you are selling on Cyber Monday, as long as you were selling something and giving your audience something to take advantage of. Everyone is going to have their credit card in hand and ready to buy like crazy.

This is simply the best opportunity for you to make additional money and generate sales like never before.

If you enjoyed this expert roundup, also be sure to check out our previous ones on the best ways to create buzz around your brand and twelve working methods to increase homepage traffic.

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11 Ways to Reduce Churn Rates by Keeping Customer Card Data Up to Date

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Losing a customer can be devastating for any business. Losing them because of a credit card decline that comes from outdated information is just plain frustrating. Keeping credit card information current is a necessity for all business owners, yet it is a task that gets little attention.

With the expansion of e-commerce, customers can make online purchases quicker and easier than ever before. When credit card declines occur, customers need to be able to update and input information quickly. You should stay on top of their expired information and update it regularly to ensure all purchases go through seamlessly when your customer wants to buy.

Below, 11 entrepreneurs from YEC share their strategies for minimizing credit card declines and increasing online revenue.

1. Send Email Reminders

Have multiple payment options available. For customers who pay using their cards, send out friendly reminder emails in case the card is about to expire, ideally one month before the expiry date. If the account shows outdated information, remind them well in advance. Give them a grace period, if really necessary, to update their account information. Customers will feel appreciated.

Liam Martin, Staff.com

2. Provide Other Payment Options

By offering other payment methods, such as digital wallets, e-cash, peer-to-peer payments, ACH and e-checks, there are ways to get around such churn rates. Plus the more payment methods offered, the more likely you are to retain and attract new customers, increasing your online revenue.

John Rampton, Calendar

3. Encourage Digital Wallets

Encourage customers to use a digital wallet feature so they can update all their information across all companies they buy from in one action. This will keep them from returning and shopping with outdated account information.

Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

4. Use a Payment Method Updater

Visa and MasterCard offer a service that automatically updates card information. Due to security measures, new cards are issued more frequently than ever before, making it inconvenient for your customers to constantly update card information. A payment method updater (PMU) can stop declined payments from happening, but this could still creep out your customer so get their permission first.

Karl Kangur, MRR Media

5. Use Recurly to Do the Work for You

Recurly has saved us thousands of dollars (and tons of following up). It’s a simple app that integrates with all e-commerce systems. When you sign up with Recurly, all of your repeat customers will be notified automatically when their cards are expiring. It’s a simple platform for customers, and anyone who intends to do business with you will find it easy to keep doing so.

Aaron Schwartz, Passport

6. Give Them a Call

From my personal experience, the most effective way for a company to reach out to me and to get me to update or confirm my billing information is for them to give me a call. Email reminders are great too, but a phone call is even more effective.

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

7. Use Stripe

Stripe and some other payment processors have largely solved the problem of outdated cards. Stripe works with MasterCard, Visa and other credit card providers to ensure that customer cards still work after the card has been replaced. The system has limitations, but it takes care of many outdated card issues.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

8. Fix the Problem Before It Happens

Fixing the problem before it happens is the only true way to avoid those declined cards. Reaching out to your customers before their cards expire will help you retain repeat customers for much longer than if you allow cards to be declined. Use payment technology that alerts merchants when a card stored in the system is about to expire, making it easy to update records and get paid.

Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

9. Set Automated Expiration Date Detection Functionality

Have a basic script set up that automatically detects what cards are about to expire and sends the customer an email reminder to update their credit card information via a direct link. If you do not have this functionality, there are third-party solutions that provide similar functionalities. We use this with our e-commerce clients who have recurring products or orders.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

10. Ask for a Backup Credit Card

Ask your customers for a backup credit card to keep on file in the event that charges cannot be put through on the primary card. Savvy companies like Google and Amazon asked me to input a backup credit card when I signed up for services such as Google AdWords and Amazon Prime. All recurring revenue businesses can and should be equally astute.

Adam Mendler, Beverly Hills Chairs

11. Offer Financing to Customers

A simple solution for avoiding failed credit card payments is to utilize services like Affirm or PayPal Credit. These services take on the credit risk and you receive the total order price upfront. The advantages to these services are that you decrease your accounts receivable and save time by not having to dedicate an employee to track down customers to update their credit card information.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

Reduce Churn Rate by Implementing these Expert Tips

No one likes the thought of churn rates and the real numbers behind companies and how much money they are losing with subscribers or recurring subscription drops. However, this is part of the business industry and it’s something that needs to be addressed. If you are currently ignoring drop off rate within your company, be sure to implement some of the expert tips above while also checking out their recommended tools and solutions.

If you enjoyed this expert round up, I highly recommend you take a look at this roundup with 83 online marketing experts and their best advice on “How Do I Start a Successful Blog?“. If you don’t already have a website or blog of your own, follow my blogging guide to getting started with one today.

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