Nothing makes or breaks a solid marketing strategy quite like focusing on the right (or the wrong) things. Knowing where to focus your efforts to get the maximum exposure… and the maximum return on your investment… is the first step to building the right marketing solution for your small business.
Download our free guide, 5×5, for a simple list of the things your business needs to focus on to get seen and get chosen by your local customers.
In military shorthand, 5×5 means “your signal is strong — I read you loud and clear.” If you want to grow your business online, your message has to be heard “5×5” – loud and clear – by your prospects and customers.
It’s too easy today to get lost in the pack online. You don’t have a couple competitors – the ones around the corner — you have dozens or more. All the other businesses that come up when someone searches for you or what you offer — that’s who you have to compete against online.
You need to make sure your business is seen (your message heard) by every potential customer – whether they’re searching on Google, surfing their favorite sites, or even socializing on Facebook.
This short guide gives you 5 key areas to focus on and 5 tactics for each. 5×5. If you focus on these strategies in the days to come, you’ll increase your visibility and position yourself for greater growth.
Let’s get started – here are the first 5…
1) Your online business information
1. Must be accurate
Your business information appears on dozens of websites and directories across the web (if not more) and you have no way of knowing where customers might find you, so you need to make sure the information they find is accurate… regardless of which site they find it on. At Hibu, we find that every small business client we work with has incorrect information somewhere online.
2. Must be consistent everywhere people see you
Searchers lose faith in a business with incorrect information (imagine the response if someone tries to call you and the number is wrong). But just as important, Google doesn’t like when your information is incorrect or inconsistent, and it will push you down the search results.
3. Must be kept up to date
Keeping your business information correct is an ongoing process – it’s far from one-and-done. You need to continuously check your listings to make sure your information hasn’t changed or simply become out of date. Pay particular attention to what some people refer to as your “NAP” – Name, Address, Phone.
4. Must drive to your website (or landing page)
And your website (or landing page) must deliver on the “promise” made by the listing. If your listing says you offer 24-hour service, your website should (quickly) confirm that you do, in fact, offer 24-hour service.
5. Needs to work in sync with your other digital marketing
Along with accurate information about your business, your listings should include customer reviews and any offers you’re currently featuring on your website or in your ads.
2) Your website
1. Must be mobile
As mobile usage grows each year, it becomes more important that your website is built to deliver a great user experience on phones and tablets. If someone visits your site on their phone, it’s crucial that they be able to immediately see what you offer and easily contact you.
2. Must be truly up to date and include “Schema”
A website is probably the one thing more business owners consider building on their own. But today’s website is a lot more than just a strong headline and some pretty pictures. There are a lot of factors that have to be built into your site to get you found — like Schema Markup, for example, a special code that enables Google to receive much more information from your site. Less than 20%* of small business sites have it today.
3. Must QUICKLY answer the question “Why you (and not a competitor)?”
Based on studies we’ve seen, your site has about three seconds to communicate who you are and why you’re the right choice — if it takes longer than that, the visitor/prospect is probably gone to someone else’s site.
4. Must make it easy for visitors to reach you (generate leads!)
Site visitors are great… but actual customers are much better! Your site needs to go beyond just giving visitors a phone number to call — you need to make it easy for prospects to contact you in the way they prefer — phone, form, Facebook Messenger, etc. Your mobile site must be click-to-call ready, your contact form should be easy to fill out (even on mobile) — and you have to make sure you respond quickly, however customers contact you.
5. Must be the center of your digital marketing
All the other marketing you do, online and offline, needs to drive traffic to your website. If your site is working the way it should, it’ll be far and away your best salesperson. Your online listings should include a link to your site, your ads should connect to your site, your social posts should encourage people to visit your site – and all these parts of your marketing need to have the same branding and the same messaging.
BONUS – Must highlight reviews
We’ll get into reviews more later, but when looking at your website, prospects should immediately see a positive customer review (or more) to instantly build trust.
3) Your customer reviews
1. Ask for reviews constantly
You can never have enough positive customer reviews. Today, reviews are probably the most important factor in the helping searchers choose a provider.
2. Ask at the right time
It may sound obvious, but you want to ask for a review any time you’re talking with a happy customer — at the end of a successful project or purchase, any time a customer pays you a compliment, even when you’ve corrected something that went wrong. Remember: if a customer is happy, whatever the reason, ask them to give you a review online.
3. Direct customers to share reviews online
Even today when most people look for reviews, most don’t know the best places to leave a review online. You need to give your customers clear instructions to leave reviews on top sites like Google, Facebook and Yelp.
4. Share positive reviews wherever possible
The first thing someone sees when they come to your website should be positive reviews (at least one).
5. Respond to reviews… especially bad ones
The easiest thing in the world is the thank someone for leaving you a positive review… but the most important thing is to respond to a negative review and do whatever you can to turn it into a positive.
BONUS – Search for your ratings online
See what customers are saying and see how you stack up against the competition. If you find positive reviews – great – ask the person to share them. If you find negative reviews, that’s your chance to improve your reputation online. Start with Google My Business, sites like Yelp and Trustpilot, and be sure to include traditional reviewers like the Better Business Bureau.
Small Business Saturday is right around the corner — and there’s still time to make a plan to promote your business!
10 quick tips and tricks to make the most out of Small Business Saturday:
- Plan something special for your business – and make sure you promote your event online
- Visit ShopSmall.com/YourDay to see all the resources that are ready for you right now
- Use the Shop Small Studio to create ready-made flyers, stickers and more
- Update your social media with #ShopSmall profile pictures, cover photos and social posts
- Check out this map of other small businesses in your area, and think about possibly partnering up with another business you know (or one you’d like to know!) for the big day
- Get to know the Neighborhood Champions in your area
- Open a little early — or stay open a little later — to make the most of the day
- Don’t forget to prioritize customer service (especially if things get busy!)
- Send a follow up email to your customers after Small Business Saturday to thank them — and consider including a discount or invitation to your next event
- Remember that Small Business Saturday is all about your local community. Get to know your local customers and other local businesses, all while promoting your business too!
As a Corporate Supporter of the event, Hibu encourages local businesses across the U.S. to get ready for your local customers to Shop Small!
4) Your social media
1. Match your website branding and messaging
Your business social media needs to feel as if it’s an extension of your business… because it is. If someone clicks from your business Facebook Page to your website (which hopefully will happen often), they need to feel as if they’re looking at the same business. The logo needs to match. The messaging – offers, key benefits, overall positioning – should all be same.
2. Must be of interest to your customers
Focus your posts on content that will interest your customers – post more about what you offer… and less about dancing kittens. Your social posts should certainly reflect your personality… your BUSINESS personality. Limit your posts to things you’d share with a customer standing in front of you.
3. Post often and be timely
You want your social media pages to reflect the fact that you are an active, enthusiastic business. You also want Google to know that. If you post on Facebook often, you’re more likely to get frequent return visits. If your Facebook Page and Blog are active, Google will be more likely to rank you higher in the search results.
4. Be professional
Unlike personal social media accounts, your business social needs to… well, mean business. It gives you a way to connect with your customers on a more casual online setting, but it still needs to be primarily a marketing tool. Use it to remind customers who you are, what you offer and why they should choose you over your competitors. Try to resist the urge to repost funny posts (remember those dancing kittens?) that you’d share on your personal account.
5. Use posts and ads
Social media isn’t just posts – you can use Facebook’s ultra-targeted ads to reach very specific customer groups. In fact, social ads are a key part of making sure you reach prospects where they spend the most time online.
BONUS – Use social media ads in conjunction with search and display ads
This way you’ll appear everywhere online that your customers are looking, whether they’re searching, surfing or “social-izing.”
5) Your SEO
1. Must be built with On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO
Lots of people think SEO is just a list of things you do to your website, but that’s just “On-Page SEO.” There are also a number of things, just as important, that you need to do elsewhere online to maximize your visibility — those steps are “Off-Page SEO.”
2. Make sure your website is built right
Especially title tags, meta descriptions and alt tags. (If you don’t know what these things are, don’t build your site on your own.)
3. Pay attention to keywords (On-Page SEO)
Your website copy needs to include both keywords and keyword phrases that matter to your business. Those are the words and phrases that Google will look for on your site when someone is searching. For example, a plumber would include keywords like: plumber, plumbing, pipe repair, sink installation, and 24/7 emergency plumbing service.
4. Include content that will help get you found with voice search (On-Page SEO)
As more searches are done using voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home, you need to make sure you’re “visible” in voice search. Of course, people search differently using their voice than when they type — so your website must include content that will help it get found specifically with voice search.
5. Create and share content that will matter to your customers (Off-Page SEO)
A big part of off-page SEO is sharing content — posts and articles — in your social media and on your blog. You also need to make sure your business listings are correct, and that you have lots of customer reviews. (I know we talked about these things before, but everything is connected… or should be.)
BONUS – If you only do one thing to improve your SEO, make sure you have an up-to-date Google My Business page
It’s the single most important source of information when someone searches for you or what you do on Google. If you work with a professional, like Hibu, it’s the first place they’ll start to build your online foundation.
Your decision: DIY or work with the pros
As you read through the tactics described in this guide, some of them are things you can easily do on your own. For example, you should start asking for more customer reviews right now, today. But, admittedly, there are some important tactics described that you will almost certainly need to get some help with.
Digital marketing in 2021 has expanded well beyond the days where you could build a simple DIY website and be found online.
Today, you need both paid ads and strong organic search results if you hope to effectively compete online.
If you feel confident and comfortable with technology… and if your budget steers you toward going it alone… you should try as many of these tactics as you can. Every step you take will help increase your visibility and put you in a better position to compete for new customers.
If you’re in a position where you can work with a knowledgeable, professional partner who has the experience to do this for you… consider all the advantages that come with working with professionals – you save time, you save aggravation… and frankly, you’ll most likely see better results.
For example, with Hibu, we can help you with everything outlined in this guide — so you have the added advantage of having all your digital marketing with a single provider. Plus, all your digital marketing will be connected — and we’ve seen how that can dramatically increase your visibility and drive more leads to your business.
Visit Hibu.com/solutions to see what we mean.