Blog

5 Ways Content Marketing Can Help Your Small Business

For some businesses, content marketing is a familiar term and a critical part of their overall marketing strategy. But others have never even heard of it, and for them the concept of sharing knowledge and information – for free – is a foreign concept. But there are proven benefits for doing just that, and today it’s become one of the best ways for small businesses to gain leads, build relationships and increase sales.

First off, what is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

“…a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

This content can be delivered in a variety of ways, including internal and external blogs, consistent newsletters, podcasts, white papers, social media and more. What’s most important is that the information is consistent and helpful to the targeted audience. Let’s face it, potential customers aren’t interested in YOU, they’re interested in themselves. So if you can provide information that helps them – content they actually want to read – you can build long-term relationships, eventually leading to more sales.

Wait? You want me to share my hard-earned industry knowledge and expertise for free? Say whaaaat?

Some small business owners are leery to share information, because they’re afraid of competition. Or maybe they don’t think they have the time. But that mindset needs to change. If you do it right, you WILL be paid for your knowledge, but that will come with a wider audience, long-term relationships and overall increased sales. If you’re still unconvinced, here are five reasons to incorporate content marketing into your overall marketing strategy:

5 Ways Content Marketing Can Help Your Small Business:

1). Establish Your Company as Industry Expert – By consistently providing high quality, relevant information you can establish your company as an expert in its industry. You’re a leader, not a follower.

2). Develop a Loyal Following – You can build strong relationships with potential and current customers by providing regular content that they actually want to read. They get to know your brand personality, which helps them identify with and trust you more than they would with other traditional forms of advertising.

3). Gather New Leads – Done correctly, content marketing helps you reach people you could never have reached before. It gives you the opportunity to capture new leads, with the goal to convert a certain percentage of those leads in to customers.

4). Increase SEO Rankings – Search engines like high quality, consistent content. The days of “beating the system” have changed. Top companies understand this, and devote their resources to providing the audience what they really want. It works.

5). Could Lead to Other Opportunities – Providing top quality content can open the door to other opportunities. Conference speaking engagements, strategic partnerships and new business opportunities are just a few examples of things that can happen when you provide good, consistent, content.

Now that we’ve told you what to do you don’t have any excuses. Get out there and start creating content.

Do You Use Submit Forms on Your Site – do you use them correctly?

At adWhite we’ve been focusing intently on new SEO objectives around here lately, which has lead us to some great new information on landing pages. Recently we had an internal discussion about some of our collective, recent learning on the use of submit forms on a landing page. To re-cap, a landing page is a specific web page designed as part of a campaign, used to capture a user’s information and pique their interest in your product or service.

So, keeping all of the landing page basics in mind, let’s see if you’re using the submit forms on your site correctly. Landing pages are simple and should only contain one link, which is the CTA (Call To Action) for the user – aka your submit form!

The submit form should be short and sweet, yet the way you ask people to fill this out does matter. It’s important to know that the way you ask your prospective customer to fill this out is just as important as the information you’re asking for. So the way you ask for their information and what you ask for are equally important. landing page tips Do You Use Submit Forms on Your Site – do you use them correctly?

Next, let’s discuss audience friction as it relates to completing online forms. Friction is created by any hesitation the user might have to completing your submit form. It’s important to make your lead generation relevant to the audience in order to make them correlate with the level of friction involved to obtain the incentive. There are two categories of friction, perceived and actual. Perceived friction is essentially the “shock factor” of having to complete a long form. This perception is that the form can be overwhelmingly long and cause people to change their mind. Avoid this and split your form over more than one page, if needed.

Actual Friction refers to the time and trouble it takes to actually fill in the form. To ensure you don’t lose a prospective customer, avoid too many open-ended questions, don’t provide drop-down menus that don’t encompass all options, and lastly capthca forms, while safe, can significantly slow this process down on a landing page, so just avoid it if possible.

Our last teaching point that we’d like to share with you is that using different virtual currencies can increase your conversion opportunities and offer people more options. It’s important to offer an incentive to your prospective customer for completing your submit form. The goal is to balance the size of this incentive with the friction. We suggest offering an incentive such as: a free trial, discount coupon/voucher, contest entry, free quote, newsletter registration, or free consultation to just name a few.

 

So let’s see what you’ve taken away from our discussion and take the mini quiz below (answers are below):

 

1) (T or F) The way you ask people to complete a form doesn’t matter, so long as you have a form.

2) It’s important to make your lead generation relevant to __________ in order to make them correlate with the level of friction involved to obtain the incentive.

3) 4) (T or F) Actual friction is the perception that the submit form can be overwhelmingly long and cause people to change their mind.

4) Different __________  can increase your conversion opportunities and offer more options.

 

 

Answers

1) F – The way you ask people to complete your form fields is just as important as the information you’re asking for

2) The audience

3) F – Perception friction is that in which the user perceives the form to be overwhelmingly long.

4)  Virtual currencies

 

All About Landing Pages

AM 300x281 All About Landing Pages Why Landing Pages & What Are They?

Our world is even more interconnected today than it was a decade ago. The Internet is now seen as a necessity, a tool that we all access on a daily basis to find the information that we are seeking, at a fraction of a second, directly to our fingertips. With the increasing usage of the Internet, Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) have arisen. Most websites now integrate their social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, with their websites in order to increase traffic to their sites and raise brand awareness. Small to mid-size companies face even more difficulty when competing in the global arena, which is the internet.
Being interconnected with social media is definitely key to optimal website performance. So how can a company more efficiently drive traffic to their site and increase their overall search ranking? This is where landing pages come in! In this post we are going to discuss how to drive more traffic to your website through the use of social media and landing pages.

What are landing pages and how do they work?
A landing page is designed to be an extension of your actual website. It is usually a singular page filled with rich content that highlights one keyword/keyword phrase that relates to your site and offers specific information to a prospective client/customer. The page is designed with a contact form to drive traffic and hopefully turn onlookers into potential clients/customers by requesting more information. The goal of a landing page is to capture relevant, specific searches for the keyword outlined in the site into actual clients and business for you. Since the searches are relevant and specific to the landing page content, it results in more conversions.

Can I see some examples?
Below you’ll find two examples for a client’s site that we recently worked on. Each landing page is geared towards a specific keyword. See the below links to find out what a landing page can look like:

Example 1

Example 2

Jhues 300x179 All About Landing Pages

How do help drive traffic to my site or my landing pages?
While landing pages are designed to drive direct search results, you can also drive traffic there yourself. It’s best to do this via social channels, where users can direct traffic to these specific pages. In addition to positing on your social media channels, it’s important to consider the use of a blog. A blog is a great idea to help generate new, fresh and unique content that search engines will also pick-up/index. Here at adWhite we can easily integrate your social media channels into your landing pages, and help you with posting to your social media channels.In closing, Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are very important to the marketing success of a small business. At adWhite we can help you with any, or all of this, but you can also find many resources online and teach yourself if you have the time to manage.

Here are a few sites where you can learn more about landing pages and SMM, SEM and SEO in general:

What Is A Landing Page?

5 Landing Pages Critiqued

Anatomy of A Perfect Landing Page

Please note that from time to time we’ll update this blog with more landing page examples. We currently have three other client sites/landing pages that we are working on.

Maintaining Your Social Media Followers

We’ve covered ways to master social media and gain followers/business, but we haven’t covered the opposite end of that spectrum: how to lose followers, and potentially business. This may seem like an odd choice of topic, but I find that it’s equally as important to know what turns people off of something as much as what piques their interest.

Let’s start with the basics – social media platforms themselves. Just because there are so many platforms available doesn’t mean you should be on every single one. While this practice wouldn’t necessarily lose you followers, it could hinder growth by spreading followers too thin. As we’ve discussed before, Google+ is a good platform for any business because of Google’s search engine algorithm, but beyond that be aware of your market. Do you plan to interact with followers often and in real time? Then a Facebook page could be your next best bet!

This brings us to your content. If you are on multiple social media sites, you should try to tailor posts for each site. Posting the same updates on all of your platforms comes across as robotic and doesn’t encourage engagement. Also, try to steer clear of too many text-only posts. Pictures encourage engagement and are typically viewed more than text-only posts. Followers also tend to be turned off by businesses that talk too much about themselves. The idea behind social media is to actively engage with your followers. By only being self-promotional and never creating a unique customer experience, it’s likely followers will get bored and move on.

If you’re creating engaging content that your followers are interested in, are you also making sure to respond to comments? Whether a follower is commenting on a post or leaving a business review, it’s important that they receive a reply in a timely manner. A good way to start is to make sure that you immediately address any potentially negative situations. From there, be sure to address positive comments/interactions within 24 hours.

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to stay up-to-date with social media changes! Whether you love it or hate it, social media is an ever-changing field and those who don’t keep up will lose followers and customers alike.

The Differences in Mobile Users

As the tablet and smart phone industries grow, so has the importance of properly targeting the mobile customer. A key to targeting mobile customers is understanding how they use their devices. A customer on a tablet, for instance, will engage differently than a customer on a smartphone. Here are the differences between the two.

Studies have found that in only three years, tablets now drive more traffic than smart phones. Websites across the globe get more traffic from tablets than smartphones and Internet users typically view 70% more pages per visit when they are using a tablet. This means that tablet users behave more like PC users in the way that they browse and engage with websites.

Another finding shows that consumers’ preference for a tablet or smartphone will vary depending on what type of website they’re using. Users tend to prefer tablets when shopping e-commerce sites, but smartphones for browsing media sites. One thing to keep in mind as sizes continue to change for these devices is connection type and referral source when optimizing web experiences.

Smartphones are relatively even in terms of iOS and Android users, while the tablet industry is dominated by Apple’s iOS. There are a few other operating systems out there for tablets and smartphones alike, but it’s best to focus mobile experiences on the two major players.

Studies have found that tablets dominate mobile reading, showing that 75% of mobile reading sessions occur on tablets. Tablet users are also shown to open their reading apps twice as often per month and read three times as many pages every time they read. Tablet users are also more likely to watch videos on their mobile devices, as opposed to smartphone users.

Mobile shopping, while still strongest on PCs, has shown some increases from tablet users. Researchers have found that a tablet user’s conversion rate is three times greater than that of a smartphone user. Tablet users will typically compare and even purchase products from their mobile devices, whereas smartphone users generally only use their devices to compare prices and find store locations. This should be kept in mind, as all mobile visits should not be treated the same.

It’s safe to say that tablet users are now dominating the industry. Smartphone users are reliable for media sites and their numbers should be kept in mind for any mobile advertising campaigns. Tablet experiences, on the other hand, should be treated less mobile, to ensure a positive experience and encourage site traffic.

*Study referenced can be found here.

FREE Websites?

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way, there is no such thing as a truly free website? In fact, let’s also get this out of the way, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Now you can’t say you’ve never heard that before.

From my research I can find several companies out there pitching free websites and here are a few of the potential pitfalls I see in utilizing these services for your business website:

–there’s often a monthly/annual fee associated with it – usually a hosting fee

–the company providing the free site hosts your site and controls all of your content. This usually means that once you stop paying their monthly fee they take down your site and all your content – copy and graphics – and you have to start over from scratch on a new website; hopefully you didn’t build a brand around those graphics, not to mention the negative SEO hit you’ll potentially take from this

–the URL contains the providers domain name with yours as an extension

–you do technically get the site for free (after you put in the man-hours to learn their system and upload the design and content yourself) but you have to “advertise” the providers brand on your site

If you can’t afford to have a professionally built website for your business, you shouldn’t have a business. To start a business you need a certain amount of money for initial operating expenses. A portion of this should be earmarked for sales and marketing and of that portion some should be set aside for a website.

Websites are important (and the sky is blue). Don’t get off on the wrong foot when you start your business and not create a professional website that will properly communicate your offering to your audience. At adWhite we’ll do a 5-page, HTML website for approximately $2,000. There are other providers all over – either local to you or find them via the Web – who can do the same for even less. Find a professional designer/developer, look at their portfolio and get references if you have concerns about what they say they can do. It’s worth it, trust me!

adWhite is now a Google Certified Partner

We’re pleased to announce that in late December adWhite became a Google Certified Partner. What that means is we have completed testing and met Google’s criteria in demonstrating expertise and experience in managing our clients’ AdWords accounts. The Google Partner badge recognizes that we excel with Google’s products, and that our business is healthy, our customers are happy, and we use Google’s best practices. Google recognizes that business owners can benefit from partners like us who have the expertise to help manage their AdWords campaign, freeing up business owners to do what they do best — running their business.

adWhite is currently the only Google Certified Partner in The Woodlands, TX and one of only six Houston Google Certified Partners!

Check out our Google Partner page and then contact us to help manage your AdWords advertising!

PartnerBadge Horizontal adWhite is now a Google Certified Partner

 

Google+ Really Works

We’ve been encouraging clients for a while now to build a Google+ page and get them verified. We knew there was a method to our madness and the latest tweaks to Google’s algorithm have only confirmed this. Now let me give you the breakdown as to why a Google+ page is so important for SEO.

First of all, after building your page to include as much information as possible – including a profile image – be sure to link the page on your website. Not only is this an extra inbound link, it also makes it easier for the search engine to recognize that your website and Google+ page are associated with each other. After creating your page, be sure to consistently post high quality, relevant content. Not only will you attract followers, your page will be more likely to show up in relevant search engine queries. The higher your Google+ page shows on search engines, the more likely your website will reap the benefits.

After you have created your Google+ page and linked it to your website, be sure to also add the +1 button to your site. The +1 button is similar to the Like button on Facebook, but much more beneficial. Since users who click the button are essentially sharing content with their network, it can result in more traffic for your page and website. The +1 button is also used as a social signal for the search engine and can drive up your search engine ranking. Basically, the more +1s your site has, the higher you will show in search engine rankings.

Currently, we manage twelve Google+ pages and have always felt strongly that these help with SEO. We keep our content consistent with the business we are posting for and often incorporate links back to the company’s website. We also tweak little things like profile and header images from time to time to keep pages looking fresh.

If you don’t already have a Google+ page for your business, we strongly encourage it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.

We Only Eat What We Kill

As a small business owner, I only eat what I kill. Does that make sense to you? Most people that read this blog (I know there are a few of you out there) work in or for small businesses. However, not all are owners. I am an owner and about 50% of the people I do business with – my business-to-consumer or retail clients – are small business owners too.

As employees of a business, you get paid for the work you do. Some get a steady salary, some are paid hourly. If you are an employee of a small business what you do day-to-day greatly affects the business as a whole, but your compensation can only be so much and it’s based on the overall success of the company you work for and your particular role.

Small businesses don’t have some money tree out their back door. Some do have extremely niche markets where they dominate and that produces a relatively steady stream of revenue, but most are like us. We only make money on what we produce, when we produce it – thus the saying, we only eat what we kill. If we can’t perform the work within the parameters we sold it, we don’t get paid, so we don’t eat. Get it?

I’m partially typing this post to see if I can even communicate this message to myself, because I’m trying to better explain it to others.

Employees that work at bigger companies sometimes have very little to do with the end of product. They may just be very tiny pieces of a big puzzle. In theory their production is tied to the overall success of the company, but it’s a very small percentage. In a small business, that’s not the case. Every action, every purchase, every mistake is amplified and almost each of these plays a role in the production or lack thereof from that business. Once everyone within a small business understands this, then the business performs much better.

There, I feel better now…

Easy Way to Clear Browser Cache

I was just discovered a cool and easy way to clear your browser cache. If you’ve been told that we’ve updated your Web site but you don’t see the changes, in whatever browser you use, at least for PCs, press CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE all at once – the browser window must be active. It will bring up a box where you can choose what you want to delete.

The box looks different depending on what browser you use, but the data you should clear are Temporary Internet and website files and Cookies and website data. If it’s just a simple Web site that doesn’t use cookies (most of ours don’t) you don’t have to clear cookies. Here’s what the windows with the correct settings look like for the individual browsers:

Internet Explorer

Browser Cache Clearing IE Easy Way to Clear Browser Cache

Firefox

Browser Cache Clearing Firefox Easy Way to Clear Browser Cache

Chrome

Browser Cache Clearing Chrome Easy Way to Clear Browser Cache

I tested it on Safari for PC but it didn’t work. But seriously, who uses Safari on a PC?