Want More Online Customers Walking into Your Store? Do This!


Many sales are online these days. And customers so often come to your store just to use it as a “showroom” for the physical product they eventually want to buy online.

But that’s not what you want to happen.

Instead, you want customers highly interested in buying, and who actually purchase. And you want the customers who become raving fans and happily tell others about your business, products, and services.

In an age where people love to shop by smartphone and computer, how do you get more to physically walk around in your store?

These tactics will help your cause:

  1. Make Your Company Website Worthy Of Getting Links

Part of marketing is getting exposure to your audience. That means driving your website pages up the search rankings. And right now, and for the foreseeable future, links will remain the most powerful method of doing that.

How do you get links? Today, you need content people want to link to. content that challenges their assumptions, is useful, and is new and different wins the attention war online.

  1. Get Your Google Reviews Rating as High as Possible

Those 5 gold stars stick out bigtime in Google search. They’re more of an indirect way of getting people into your store.

But, when they see an excellent rating of 4 stars or more, that’s awfully powerful in influencing people to choose you. And, it’s also highly influential as to what they say.

Plus, you can use the reviews for insights as to what your company does that makes customers happy and what you can do to improve.

  1. Tell People to Come into Your Store

Every website page featuring your products or services needs to have a call-to-action at the end. That’s where you tell website visitors what you want them to do: order, call, try a demo, view a video, and so on.

We don’t see many websites that do it, but if you want more customers in your store, tell them to come visit. You could maybe even incentivize them to do so by enticing them with a free gift or free samples.

Regardless of how you choose to approach it, simply telling customers there’s more for them to see in your store will result in more foot traffic.

If you work those three tactics into your marketing mix more often, you’ll get more customers in your store while your competitors struggle to keep up.

Top 3 Engagement Metrics, and What They Mean

Double exposure of businessman hand working

Does your website do what it needs to rank well and generate you more business? You can tell that by looking at the right metrics, and understanding what they mean.

If you sell a service, you probably have a more content-heavy website. And it can be tricky to interpret precisely what metrics mean for such websites.

Check out some of the top metrics to know in Google Analytics, or any other analytics tool you might use:

  1. Bounce Rate

For service-based companies with lots of content, this is a key metric. A “bounce” is a person who visits just a single page on your website and leaves.

Also called “pogo-sticking,” a high bounce rate means your website visitors aren’t getting what they need. That could be for two reasons:

  1. You’re not giving them the right content
  2. You’re writing content that attracts the wrong audience

A typical bounce rate is 40-60%. With e-commerce sites, a higher bounce rate may not be a bad thing. It could mean people are buying right away.

So, to understand the metric, you need to know the context of your situation.

  1. Average Session Duration

The higher, the better. For a content-heavy website selling a service, you should see at least 1-2 minutes or so. If you’re e-commerce, again, you will probably see less than that.

In fact, you’ll want to see a lower time because that likely means people are buying. However, e-commerce sites should have blogs too, which may get you close to the lower end of the 1-2 minute range.

  1. Return Visitor Rate (RVR)

Neil Patel actually discusses this one on his blog. And the thing about this metric is Google Analytics doesn’t actually calculate it.

However, it is valuable. What could be better than someone who comes to your website…again? Out of the millions of websites out there, they chose to actually come back and visit yours.

That’s hard to make happen.

RVR is simple to calculate. Just go to Google Analytics (Behavior à New vs Returning), and add up all your visitors. Divide the total by your number of “returning” visitors.

Contently, a content-heavy website for freelancers, boasts a RVR of about 40%. Neil Patel says anything above 30% is good. We say if you’re anywhere around 30%, you’re doing spectacular.

In a digital marketing world of vanity metrics, that’s what you should care about in 2016 and beyond.

What’s the Right Integrated Digital Marketing Approach for Your SMB?


Have you been totally “through the ringer” on this whole digital marketing thing? It gets frustrating at times because there’s so many things you can do. And you might have gotten burned by a not-so-honest company in the past.

Here’s just a short list of tactics you can try:

  1. SEO
  2. Blogging
  3. PPC
  4. Banner advertising
  5. Content marketing
  6. Video marketing
  7. E-mail marketing
  8. Social media marketing
  9. Text/SMS marketing
  10. Podcasts
  11. Webinars
  12. Influencer marketing
  13. Writing press releases

And then new social networks like Instagram, Peach, and Periscope pop up. Which ones make sense? Which should you use? When? And why?

Digital marketing is here to stay. Both consumers and business decision makers turn to it first to do their research before they buy. Not every single one of them, but the overwhelming majority:

This whole “digital marketing” thing works because it gives consumers and business decision makers power to compare. In the past, you had to walk all over the place or drive around to find the best product or service.

That’s hard work. So, you didn’t do as much comparison back in the early 1990s. Now, you can compare 5-8 companies and services in just 30 minutes online.

What Digital Marketing Mix Makes the Most Sense for Your Company?

The answer to this question changes over time. That’s why you hire an agency or have an in-house digital marketing team. It’s too much and changes too fast for one person to deal with.

For most companies, and especially for ones that sell commodity products and services, organic SEO makes sense (think of it as “ranking higher in Google”). Increasingly, it makes sense for niche products and services too because even those buyers are turning online to do research.

After that, you have all kinds of questions and options to consider. There isn’t necessarily a “right” or “perfect.” Only “your” mix. If you have a unique product or service, a video on your home page may make good sense to show it in action. On your about page, you might create a video introducing you and your team in person. That builds relationships much more powerfully than words and images.

If you need revenue fast, PPC makes sense. You can get the ads up and going and start getting contacts within the month. However, PPC’s expensive long-term, so you might add in offline referral marketing to keep those customers coming in.

In almost all cases, e-mail marketing makes sense. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association says it has an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent, or 3800%. However, its returns take time (usually months) to compound because you have to build the relationship slowly over time.

Will You Make Mistakes?

Absolutely. Every company tries things that don’t work. But, as long as you remember there is a successful digital marketing mix that will work for you out there, you’ll find it and do just fine.

How to Frustrate, Confuse, and Scare Away Your Website’s Visitors


“Customer experience” or “user experience” (“CX” and “UX” as us web geeks call them) is just as important for your digital storefront as your physical one. As a small business owner, you’re used to the traditional physical storefront. So you know how it’s important to have a clean, organized appearance and friendly staff.

With your “digital storefront,” the same ideas apply. It’s just that it works differently. Here’s some common mistakes SMBs make that scare away website visitors – and what you can do to earn their business instead:

  1. Hiding Your Contact Information

You should have a “Contact” page in your main navigation on the upper right of your website. Every user expects that. You should also have your phone number there too, as that’s where most people look first when they visit.

Also, include your phone number and/or e-mail address at the end of the words written on every page. Include both so your visitors can use their preferred contact method.

  1. Focusing Too Much on SEO

Yes, your keywords do need to appear on your website pages. But, today it’s more important that they make sense.

So, nearly incomprehensible language like “Southlake, Texas HVAC Services from Southlake’s Leading AC Repair Company” shouldn’t appear on your page. Get that keyword in the title and a time or two in the body copy.

Google actually prefers that these days.

  1. Slow Page Load Times

Users can’t stand all the bells and whistles of super-fancy websites (in most cases). For some specialty niche businesses, cool effects are appropriate. For example, if you run a website design company. But for commodity services SMBs like you offer, this frustrates and annoys.

You don’t need a repeating video background or sliders. Users simply want to get to know your company and see if you’re the best option to solve their problem.

An image, some text, a nice menu, and maybe a video or two to build the relationship makes sense.

Your web pages should load in less than 3 seconds, and ideally less than 1 on the typical internet connection.

  1. Confusing Navigation

Most websites are laid out similar to this:

  • Home
  • Services
    • Subpages
  • Blog
  • FAQ
  • About
  • Contact

You might have a few other unique ones, such as if you donate to a charity and want to talk about that. Or, you may write different pages to the various market segments you serve (homeowners and businesses for example).

But for the most part that’s what users see at most sites. So, go way “outside the box” and do something different, and you confuse them and lose their business to someone else.

Keep it simple and predictable. And follow the rule of not requiring any more than 3 clicks to get to any single page on your website.

Those rules are simple, easy, and straightforward. But, so many SMBs break them. Follow them yourself, and you’ll more, and happier, customers.

4 Apps to Boost Your SMB’s ROI in 2016


Regardless of the scale at which you work in your business, whether local, statewide, national, or global, apps have changed how small businesses work. What’s the difference between an “app” and “software?”

Theoretically, apps have a narrower functional focus. For example, they only focus on videoconferencing. Software, on the other hand, comes with many more features and a wider range of functionality. Think of QuickBooks.

While many apps add value to your business by saving time or money or organizing things, it takes a lot of time to find the ones worth using. You have so many competitors and clones that it can take more hours than you have in the day just to use your apps.

That doesn’t make any sense. But reading this list of suggestions takes a lot of the effort out of the search. Check these apps out, and see if they don’t save you time or money, or at least inspire you to find other apps that do:

  1. Keep All Your Messages in One Place with Pushover

If you’re the well-connected type who loves to network, you need Pushover. It sends you push messages any time you get a message on any of your devices. And it’s low-cost too.

After a 7-day trial, you pay a one-time purchase fee of $4.99 for lifetime use.

  1. Have a Lot of Business Travel Expenses?

Expensify may be just the solution you’ve been looking for. You can track your expenses either of two ways:

  1. By linking your credit or debit card to your Expensify account
  2. Take pictures of your receipts while Expensify automatically takes the relevant info out

Best of all, Expensify is inexpensive – just $5 to $10 per active account.

  1. Take Care of Payroll, Benefits, Time, and Compliance with Zenefits

Okay, so we lied a little. This isn’t an app. But this software’s so stinkin’ good that it’s a crime not to mention it.

Zenefits lets you track and streamline all the HR functions mentioned above – free. You can also administer paystubs, employee handbooks, contracts, job offer letters, and tax withholding forms. And it’ll likely stay free forever. The benefits providers that use Zenefits pay for the right to do so.

And you don’t have to pay anything at all!

  1. Lots of Employees to Manage? Try KanbanFlow

With this slick app, you can assign tasks to your colleagues, upload documents, and schedule due dates. You’ll get a visual representation of your workflow and simplified communication too.

You can get the basic version free on iPhone and Android. And the premium version costs just $5 per month.

“There’s an App for That!”

If you’ve heard this cliché before, it’s true. Whatever business problem takes most of your time, you can reduce that with an app. Just start searching for your problem and you will find the solution.

And hopefully, you’ll get a ton of value out of these free and low-cost apps.

Should YouTube Videos Be a Part of Your Marketing Strategy?


For some time, online marketers have typically thought of YouTube as an “awareness driver.” That means, in their minds, that it’s more effective at helping customers learn about products and services versus actually closing the sale. That in turn means it’s still important in the purchase process.

But, new data from Google suggests YouTube may not only be helpful for awareness, but may help boost purchase intent too.

YouTube’s TrueView Does Drive Purchasing Behavior

Do you know what TrueView is? It gives video viewers the option to skip an advertisement after 5 seconds. It also offers four different kinds of ads:

  1. In-stream, which lets viewers skip the video after 5 seconds. You only pay for ads that have been viewed at least 30 seconds.
  2. In-slate ads choose from several ads or to opt for commercial breaks in videos at least 10 minutes long.
  3. In-search ads show up in YouTube’s search results as searchers look for various keywords. You pay for all ads the viewer starts to watch.
  4. In-display ads appear in YouTube’s promoted videos overlay. You only pay when viewers choose to watch an ad.

According to Google, these “TrueView” ads, which give users the power of choice, resulted in their consideration being 45% higher, favorability of 14% higher, and purchase intent 19% higher than a control group with no power of choice.

Creative Choices Google Advises You Make to Get the Best ROI from Your Videos

Video does have a science to it. That science is evolving, so don’t consider anything set in stone. But as of now, Google advises this much for sure:

  1. Using funny ads or celebrities to hold attention (although not necessarily to close the sale)
  2. Viewers respond better to your logo when it’s attached to a product versus a free-floating logo
  3. People don’t watch videos as long when the focus emotion is sadness, fear, or calm. Focusing on humor always lead to the best results. For example, can you think of anything funny about trains? No one can. But Metro Trains Melbourne created a “Dumb Ways to Die” video that made train safety fun.
  4. How music impacts ads is unclear. Some brands have found not using music in the first 5 seconds leads to better engagement. And in terms of emotion, funny won out over any other when music was used. However, you’ll need to test your own video for best results.

Should you use video in your digital marketing strategy? You’ll have to be the judge of that.

However, it beats television when analyzed just about any way. In fact, the average return on ad spend for YouTube TrueView is about seven times that of TV.

For now, we’ll leave you with that fascinating statistic to consider.