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Building an Effective Referral System

You have a strong passion for your business. Now the question is how to market your business efficiently to ensure it will grow and thrive. With all of the different marketing strategies available, it may be hard to choose where to focus your valuable time. Did you know that 65 percent of business comes from referrals? And you are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

Building a strong referral base not only creates customer loyalty but will help increase your bottom line and company’s reputation.

Here are a few basic ways to create an effective referral system:

Great Customer Service

One of the most important things you can do is provide outstanding service to your current customers. Make sure you have a quality team in place to help make each customer experience valuable. Happy, satisfied customers can be a strong voice for your business. Always give referral cards to each of your customers to encourage recommendations.

Create and Identify

Who is your ideal referral? Do you have current companies you refer business to? What companies are related to your products or services?  Identify and map out a list of people and sources motivated to refer you quality leads. Utilize current clients and networking sources, giving them tools to refer easily. Team up and market with companies related to you and swap referrals. Find out what motivates your sources to refer you business. Keep it simple and listen to those who are referring to you. They may give you insight on other sources to target for additional business.

Educate and Provide Incentive

Taking the time to educate your referral sources can increase the quality of the referrals received. Share what an ideal referral looks like for your business. What incentive is in it for them? Walk them through how the referral process works for your company. The extra time spent will help set you apart from everyone else knocking down their doors for business.

Follow Up Strategy

Keeping your referral sources informed and providing consistent follow up communication is important. Sharing the status of a referral received and following up with a big thank you when a lead turns into a client, shows appreciation you have for them supporting your business. Taking good care of your referral sources can lead to longevity in your business success.

 

What other ways have you been successful in getting more referrals for your business? Are there any strategies you would recommend when building an effective referral system?

Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job

If you haven’t checked out John Jantsch’s article, “Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job” over on the Duct Tape Marketing blog, I suggest you click over there post haste …

8 tips to local SEO for small businesses

Thousands of consumers are using the internet around the clock daily to search for local products and services. Is it your goal to have your business listed at the top of the search results? How crucial is it that you can be found by your customers? How important is it that they click on your website? This makes it extremely important for small business owners to set up a smart local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.

“How do I strategize when it comes to local SEO,” you might ask. Below are 8 local SEO tips to help your business rank higher in local search results.

List Locally

Here is a simple step to get started: Make sure you create a local business listing for all three of the major popular search engines. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are highly recommended. A few others to consider are YP.com, Yelp, and foursquare. Also, list your business in as many free local directories as possible to create more local traffic. It is important that you fully complete each profile, staying consistent with your information in all of your local listings.

Blog Frequently

Setting up a blog on your webpage and posting on a regular basis will help increase your visibility. It will help engage those visiting your website and keep them coming back to read future posts. It is generally recommended that you shoot to post at least 400 words weekly or bi-weekly. At a minimum, this should be done monthly. Your blog content can help target local keywords and search options in relation to your business. This will help drive traffic to your website. Also, share your blog on your social media profiles to help expand exposure for your business.

Encourage Reviews

Positive, informative reviews online can help build trust and credibility for your business. Customers constantly look at reviews as a part of their purchasing decision making process. Offering your customers a list of review websites to share their feedback and thanking them for taking the time (this can be via incentives like discounts, hand-written thank you notes, etc.), will help build your reputation.  You may be surprised at how many customers are happy to help write a review. Create a page on your website displaying all of the review options or send out an email to your customers asking for their feedback.

Use Keywords

Targeting a local market can make Google local SEO go a long way, especially since high rankings in local search are much less competitive. The more local keywords you use the easier it will be to narrow down the options for the customer searching for your line of business. A good rule of thumb is to shoot to integrate a keyword once for every 50 words of web copy.

Connect Locally

Reach out to local organizations, forums, clubs, etc. online that relate to your business. The more people you have relationships with, the better chance you have at word spreading, sending people your direction. You can optimize those relationships online by soliciting guest blog posts from those local organizations, etc., or by blogging about them yourself.

Use Quality Photos and Videos

Customers respond well to quality visual content. Using several photos and video will draw people in, helping them to look at your website longer increasing your chance for a potential sale. Our recommendation is to use a picture of your actual building, both inside and out for your main photo (this way customers will recognize a brick and mortar business). You can also take pictures of your products and logo.

While the consensus about how this actually impacts SEO is unclear, it is commonly thought that video content has a big impact on your Google rankings. Additionally, photos and video create opportunities to insert tags and alt text which will contribute to you rankings.

Furthermore, about 80% of all mobile traffic is currently video (more about mobile below).

Mobile and Tablet Friendly

Sixty-three  percent of mobile phone owners use their phones to access the Internet, and 46 percent of shoppers report using their phone to research local products and services. With so many searches taking place on mobile devices, it is extremely important to offer a user friendly experience. If potential customers have a difficult time navigating your site, they will leave and look for another site set up for their device.

Let’s hope they don’t find your competition.

Constantly Test & Optimize

Finally, to stay in front of your local market you need to always be in search of ways to be ahead of the competition. Products and services are ever-changing, so take the time to test and make changes. You may be surprised at how the smallest adjustment can often result in the biggest return for your business.

Are there any other ideas you think would be important to share about setting up strong local SEO?

You’ve Redesigned Your Website, Now Let’s Get to Marketing!

It takes so much work to finally get a website completed that many small business owners are left saying to themselves “Now what?” after the process is over.  Are you someone who spends most of your time trying to keep the day to day operations running for your small business? With all that is required of most small business owners, it’s easy to let marketing fall through the cracks, especially after you’ve spent so much time dealing with a web designer (even when working with the best, it can be an incredibly time-consuming process). With a few more steps, you can start making your website earn its keep.

“But where do I even get started?” you might ask. Below are a few simple ideas.

Get Social Media Involved

Take a look around and you’ll notice almost everyone you know has a cell phone, computer or some device to search and access the web. Did you know that 46% of shoppers reported they exclusively use their mobile device to conduct pre-purchase research for local products and services? Putting your business on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can give you more exposure to potential customers. Make sure if you utilize any of these social media resources that they link or direct to your website. This gives you an opportunity to connect to build relationships, trust and loyalty with your customers.

Register for Business Listings

Register your business locally and on the web. Here are a few great places to start: Google My BusinessBing Places, and Yahoo Local Listings. Registering with these sites will definitely help your SEO.  You can increase your market by registering on local directories like Yellow Pages and Yelp. We recommend registering with as many as possible. You can find a list of the major ones here  and even more at Moz Local. You never know where your next customer could be searching for a product or service you offer. The web has so many avenues for free, inexpensive marketing. Take the time to utilize these resources.

Get to Writing

One of the most important and often overlooked steps to gaining organic SEO is blogging. It’s difficult to find the time to bust out a 400 word post on a regular basis, but when done regularly and with some effort, it will pay huge dividends in terms of SEO as well as brand credibility. Furthermore, the original content will work double duty as you’ll be able to use it for social media posts.

Ideally, most should shoot for a new blog post every week. But a post every other week is acceptable and once a month is better than none at all.

Use Google keywords planner to come up with the key search terms people are using to ultimately find your business or businesses like yours. Then, as a good rule of thumb, try to incorporate a keyword for every 50 words in your post.

If you can honestly not find the time to write compelling blog content (or if your time is better spent elsewhere), consider outsourcing the task to a credible content marketer or writer who is willing to provide you with quality content with as much or as little direction as you’d like to provide.

Do you have any other helpful tips on how to market and leverage your business website you would like to share?