Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

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5 Tools Every Business Needs to Create an Amazing Website

5 Tools Every Business Needs to Create an Amazing Website written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. Every other tactic that you undertake should drive visitors back to your website. It’s the one corner of the internet that is all your own. It’s where you can share your brand story in the way that best represents who you are and what you do.

But having a great website goes beyond creating great content. There are some technical elements that you need to nail in order to keep things running smoothly, give visitors a great experience, and easily keep track of leads. Here are the five tools that every business owner needs in order to create a website that works wonders for them and their customers.

1. A Tool to Host Your Website

First thing’s first: You need a way to get your website out there! There are a lot of web hosting services, but they are not all created equal. A bad host can hurt your website. Bad hosting can slow down load times on your site, which drives prospects away. In fact, a one second delay can result in a seven percent reduction in conversions!

Security is also a major concern nowadays. Having an HTTPS certificate for your website is an essential part of trust-building. Google now calls out websites that aren’t HTTPS by labeling them as “not secure” in big red letters in the address bar. If that’s the first thing a customer sees upon clicking on your website, chances are they’ll think twice before handing over any sensitive information to you on your site. Some web hosting companies include HTTPS certificates at no additional charge, while others will try to upsell you for this necessary element.

For my part, I swear by Pressable WordPress Hosting. They provide super-fast and secure web hosting, and their customer service team is on hand 24/7 so that you’re never left in a lurch if you have issues with your website.

2. A Tool to Design a Beautiful Site

As much as we may hate to admit it, looks do matter when we’re browsing websites. Sites with outdated designs and hard-to-read formatting are a major turnoff for customers. And if your business isn’t big enough to have a full-time web designer on hand, it helps to have a tool that allows you to make changes to your website so that you can keep information current and include all the elements you need in a modern site.

A tool like Thrive Architect can help you get it all done. They have simple drag-and-drop layouts that allow you to control the content and design of your site without a computer science degree. And it’s about more than just adding texts, images, and video; they have conversion-focused elements that you can easily incorporate into your pages.

3. A Tool to Generate Leads

Speaking of conversions, a great website needs a way to collect and generate leads. You can have the fastest, most secure, and beautiful website on the internet, but if you don’t tell visitors what they’re supposed to do once they get there, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Yes, your website should include your promise and story, but you also must tell visitors what you want them to do next. Do you want them to sign up for your mailing list? Register for a free trial? Providing a call to action, where you ask visitors to take one specific move, is the first step in the process of generating a lead and moving them down the marketing hourglass.

Thrive Leads is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you do just that. It allows you to create forms using simple drag-and-drop design so that you can capture the information that you need from your visitors. Getting this information is step one to building a relationship with a prospect. Without that information in hand, you can’t possibly move forward with other tactics to move them further down the hourglass. And the Thrive Leads plugin has advanced testing, targeting, and analytics so that you can measure the success of each lead generation effort.

4. A Tool to Integrate Email and CRM

Once you start collecting these leads, you have to do something with them! Housing all of the information in one centralized location is an important first step—that’s where a CRM comes in. I love ActiveCampaign, which brings together CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing tools all under one roof.

Having all of your prospect and customer information in one place allows you to begin an effective email marketing campaign. You can also design targeted search and social media marketing campaigns, with messaging designed to speak to various segments of your audience.

5. A Tool to Design Custom Landing Pages

Once you begin to undertake marketing efforts beyond your website, the end goal is still to drive traffic back to your online home. But you don’t want to send paid search and social media ad traffic back to your homepage. It’s far more effective to have a custom landing page for each and every campaign you run.

Landing pages allow you to tailor the information to the specific offer that’s featured in the ad. When your audience clicks through and finds only the most relevant information on your website, conversion rates go up, and you get the greatest return on your advertising investment.

A tool like ClickFunnels can help you create these highly customized landing pages. Like the other tools I’ve recommended, they have a drag-and-drop design feature that makes it easy for you to build a page with the layout and messaging you want. Their focus is on lead conversion, and they have the strategies and tools on hand to help you create the most effective landing pages possible.

Building a great website means incorporating a lot of different elements—from superficial things like design elements to behind-the-scenes pieces like proper security. Fortunately, there are lots of tools out there that make it simple for any business owner to create a strong, effective, secure online presence for their business.

What Does the Future of Paid Search Look Like?

What Does the Future of Paid Search Look Like? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Paid search has been an important channel in a comprehensive marketing strategy for years now. But we’ve also seen some major shifts in the way that PPC works, and as with most technological things, the pace of change isn’t slowing anytime soon.

That’s why it’s important for marketers and business owners to be forward-thinking. Noting the current trends and predicting how they’ll shape the future is the best way to stay a few steps ahead of your competition. Here, I’ll share some of my thoughts about what to expect from the future of paid search.

Automation Will Rule

Automation has become an increasingly critical part of paid search. We’ve seen Google Ads offer marketers the ability to create multiple headlines and descriptions for ads as a part of its responsive search ads program. Over time, Google pairs different headlines and descriptions together to find the combination that gets the best results.

Additionally, marketers can use automation on their own side to take the manual work out of handling bidding and budgeting for ad campaigns. This used to be a tedious part of the job, and with automation, you’re now freed up to spend more time on creating effective ads rather than fiddling with numbers.

I anticipate that the role of automation in PPC will only increase as technology becomes more advanced. This will help marketers to focus more on the strategic elements that go into creating a great ad campaign, and will help businesses maximize their ROI by automatically optimizing their advertising approach.

Amazon Will Move into the Space

Google has long been the gold standard for search engines, and so it’s long been the place where advertisers first turn to with their PPC spend. However, recent studies have shown that more consumers are starting their searches on Amazon now, rather than Google. And with this shift in consumer behavior, we’re also seeing a shift in marketers’ focus.

More marketers are beginning to purchase ad space on Amazon. The audience there is broadening, and it’s currently cheaper to market on Amazon than it is to advertise on Google. Now is the time for you to consider making the shift for your own business. Particularly if you offer goods or products that consumers might be searching for on Amazon, there’s the potential for you to get a lot more value from your ad spend on the e-commerce site.

Video Will Continue to Gain Ground

Text ads have long been the focus of paid search advertising. However, video has been gaining ground across all marketing efforts, and paid search is no exception.

More and more consumers are indicating that video is their preferred medium for learning more about a company. Why not give the people what they want? Plus, video is a great way to stand out in a sea of text. A colorful video with appealing music and engaging voiceover will catch the eye of searchers. And as we continue to see more marketers turn to video to tell their stories, if you don’t embrace the medium, you’ll get left behind.

New Ad Types Will Enter the Scene

Each year, we see Google expand and change their ad offerings. It seems like not so long ago that Google ads were simply the blue links that appeared at the top of search results. Now we’re seeing ads that incorporate images and video, plus ad types that are specific to certain industries, like Google Local Services Ads.

Plus, rumors that Google is thinking about charging for enhanced features on their Google My Business platform indicate that expanded offerings may be coming by way of that particular platform, which will be tailored to local business owners.

While it’s impossible to know exactly how and where Google will expand their efforts, it’s always worthwhile to keep an eye out for news about changes to their advertising offerings. When you’re able to stay on top of changes, you can get ahead of trends and get in on the ground floor of new paid search tactics while the investment is still low.

Marketers Will Think in Audiences, Not Keywords

The final major shift that I see in how paid search will operate moving forward is in the central focus in creating campaigns. Up to this point, it’s been all about finding the appropriate keywords for your ad campaign.

Audience data and segmentation tools have been continually evolving over the years. And search engines are making it easier than ever for marketers to target their ad spend at people with the right behaviors and attributes. Why do keyword research, hope you’re picking the term that will resonate with your desired audience, and then measure and refine your approach, when you can instead target ads at the audience that you know is most likely to find it relevant?

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future holds for paid search, by looking at recent trends, savvy marketers are able to infer what changes are coming and how best to capitalize on them for their business. Things like automation, Amazon, and audience segmentation aren’t going anywhere, so it’s best to figure out how to make these trends work for you so that you can outpace your competition.

Why A Solid Landing Page is Key to Effective PPC

Why A Solid Landing Page is Key to Effective PPC written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Some marketers choose to send prospects who click on their paid search results to their website’s homepage. While this will certainly get them to a page with relevant information about your company, it is not the most effective option when dealing with search marketing.

Instead of sending people to a generic page, it’s far more effective to design a custom landing page with information and an offer tailored to the verbiage in the paid search ad. While landing pages serve a number of other purposes, one of my favorite techniques is to create one for PPC ads. Here, we’ll look at the many benefits to creating a solid landing page for PPC, and what elements go in to creating a winning page.

Increase Conversion Rate

Designing a custom landing page is one of the keys to increasing conversion rates on ads. Your ad copy should be for a specific product or offer. When a reader clicks on the link, they want to learn more about that certain thing, not be taken to a page that’s more generally about your business.

When visitors are driven to your homepage, it’s now up to them to root around for information that’s relevant to what they saw on the ad. Even if you have a great website, it’s easy for them to grow frustrated and impatient, looking for the information they wish they had right in front of them in the first place. That makes them more likely to give up their search and return to the SERPs.

A custom landing page, however, that addresses the messaging from the ad directly, presents the reader with everything they want to know. This is a lot more likely to generate an immediate positive response from viewers.

Keep Cost per Click Low

A landing page with a high conversion rate also works to keep your cost per click low. When more people convert, you’re generating more revenue from the ad campaign, which means that you’re getting more bang for your marketing buck along the way.

Earn a Higher AdWords Quality Score

There is yet another bonus to creating an effective landing page for PPC ads. When you achieve higher conversion rates and keep visitors on your site for longer, Google takes notice. They infer that the content on your website must be highly relevant to searchers, and so in turn improve your standing on their site. They reward good ads with better placement and show them more frequently.

How Do You Build a Great Landing Page?

So now that you understand all of the value that a solid landing page can bring, let’s talk about how to create one. (And if you’d like a look at what not to do when creating a landing page, check out this post.)

Focus on One Call to Action

Visitors to the landing page are coming there because of the offer you made or product you cited in your PPC ad. Your landing page should contain just one call to action, and it should be directly related to the offer or product from the ad.

Let’s say, for example, that you own a plumbing company. Your PPC ad touts your same-day service. People clicking that ad are probably not interested in the work you do installing environmentally-friendly plumbing systems as part of home renovations. They likely have an emergency situation and are in need of immediate assistance. Your landing page should have a call to action that drives them directly to your online booking system so that they can get on your calendar ASAP.

Keep the Page Clean and Simple

Because visitors are coming there with one express purpose in mind, they don’t need a whole lot of information to convert. Instead, a simple headline; one big, bold, relevant image; and a clear description of the details of the product or service you’re offering will do.

Going back to the plumbing example, start with a headline that says something like “Same-day plumbing services, 365 days a year.” The image should be a hero image—one of your plumbers in front of his truck, striking a bold pose that says, “I’m ready to solve all your plumbing problems!”

Then the description of the service should include what you’re offering (licensed plumbers for same-day service) and what is expected of consumers (there’s a flat-rate fee for your service).

If you’re looking for inspiration when it comes to designing your own landing page, check out these examples, gathered together by Instapage.

A solid landing page can help your PPC ads perform better, rank better, and generate more revenue for your business. By keeping your messaging narrow and targeted, you speak directly to the immediate needs of your prospects. And by building a simple, visually engaging page, you guarantee that you’ll catch their eye and hold their interest.

The Three Step System for Keeping Clients for Three Years or Longer

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 3 Step System to Keep Clients 3 Years or Longer

I’ve been a marketing consultant for many years, working with all sorts of small business owners. Not only that, but I’ve also spent a lot of time with fellow marketing consultants, having developed the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

The topic of this podcast relates to any business, but especially to those in a service business or those who are marketing consultants. When you’re running this type of business, the key to success is developing a specific method for keeping clients happy and getting them increasingly better results over the years.

My business took off when I realized that there was a process to doing this, and in the intervening years, I’ve created a three step system, which I share with the Consultant Network, that helps them to keep clients for three years or longer. Today, I’m going to share that process with you.

1. Develop a Repeatable Process

Having a process that you can repeat and get better at is one of the secrets to scaling a consulting firm and keeping clients longer.

The Duct Tape Marketing System is our repeatable system. It relies heavily on the idea of placing strategy before tactics; we call our practice strategy first. We help our clients understand who their ideal client is, what their core message and value proposition are, and then use content as the voice of that strategy. All of this is mapped out over the customer journey, or what we call the marketing hourglass. Any client that walks through our door gets a variation of this service. After that, we get into build, grow, and ignite—our terminology for our implementation steps.

This allows us to have a repeatable process that isn’t simply cookie cutter. In reality, 80 percent of small businesses all need the same 80 percent of services. They just need those services applied in slightly different ways, depending on the specifics of their business and their core strengths. That is really what the consulting part of the job is; the other stuff is about implementation.

Beyond the repeatable marketing system for developing your strategy, you must also have a repeatable methodology. Every client is educated the same way, converted the same way, the discovery process and research you do for the client is managed the same way. You not only have a repeatable process for getting them results, you also have a repeatable process for their experience.Duct Tape Marketing System

Our system is also built around the fact that marketing is always changing and evolving. We have 11 channels that our approach is built around.

We have to understand that all of these channels exist, and our job is to look at where each business is and then see which channels make sense for them. For example, if a business has an outdated website and no social media presence, they’re not going to be ready to start a podcast. We’ve got to go back to basics with them and get those foundational steps up and running before moving on to other channels.

We use the build, grow, and ignite roadmap to show a client how they’ll move down the roadmap. We charge a monthly retainer fee and can show a client exactly where we’re going to take them. A lot of consultants sell a project or specific result; we show clients how they have the ability to grow over the years if they stick with us and our broader plan for their business.

2. You Need a Consistent Flow of Leads (and a Process to Convert Them)

You don’t need a ton of leads or a complicated funnel to find them, you just need to make those leads convert. You need to get to a point where 50, 60, or 80 percent of those leads see a compelling reason to hire you.

A lot of consultants can get by with only a handful of clients at any given time. That means you only need to be speaking to two or three leads—as long as they’re the right leads—every month.

It’s important to establish a set of funnels. Don’t just put all of your prospecting eggs in one basket. Network with strategic partners to tap into their existing set of customers and contacts. Go out and speak at relevant events and conferences, establishing yourself as a thought leader and showing to people the value that you could add to their business, should they choose to hire you.

Content plays a huge role in the prospecting process. I’ve been speaking a lot recently about the value of hub pages.

hub pages graphic description

If you want an example for how a hub page looks in the wild, check out our local marketing guide. This page is structured in a way that looks like an online course, and it contains everything you could want to know about local marketing. A lot of this content was written long before we created this hub page, but it was scattered everywhere.

We know people are looking for information about this broad topic, so we built a hub pages where we’ve taken all of our relevant content that we’ve written over the years, and structured it in a way that would be helpful for someone looking for a total crash course on the topic.

Then on the page we include a content upgrade—someone looking for local marketing tips is probably interested in the local SEO checklist, too. From there, we capture their email address and are able to start a conversation that gets us on the road to nurturing that lead.

Once we’ve shared information via our hub page and gotten the attention of leads with a content upgrade, we offer our Total Online Presence Audit. As a part of this audit process, we’ll look at your website and understand the message; look at the content, structure, SEO, paid leads, competitive landscape; and then provide you with a full report and recommendations on what should be your top priorities.

We charge a little money for this service. And the reason we do this is because it attracts leads that have the mentality of wanting to invest in their marketing. We’re then able to use the research from the Total Online Presence Audit to put together a thoughtful, specific proposal for that business, should they choose to engage us for marketing services.

This approach not only allows us to convert more people, but to also convert them to a higher priced fee. Customers get bought into wanting to really fix the problems we’ve identified, and then we’re able to convince them of the value of investing in a broader marketing strategy.

3. Have Trained Partners and an Account Team

Unless you’re just doing strategy consulting and not offering any sort of implementation, you’re going to need extra hands to help you get it all done. It doesn’t make sense for you as the consultant who’s building the business to spend time on implementation for each of your clients. You need to be free to do the higher level thinking on behalf of your clients and on scaling your own business.

Bringing in a team of qualified partners and an account team allows you to free up your time. And when your process is repeatable, it’s easy to delegate tasks to this team.

There are components of a repeatable process that you can train outside people to do. There are so many great freelance remote workers out there; you as the consultant can do the strategic thinking, but then you can ask the account manager to deal with the more tactical work.

They can also manage reporting. An account manager is able to keep track of both your clients and your partners, communicating with them on a weekly basis. You as the consultant can then stay at the strategic level, but you can remain in clients’ fields of vision each week so that they know they’re being taken care of.

Bonus Step: Invest in a Mentor and Community

When you’re a solopreneur, it’s important to have a community for feedback and support. You want proof that you’re not crazy, help finding new clients, and feedback on your strategy and approach.

Working by yourself in a room every day can be lonely and leave you feeling disconnected. Finding a community that is doing the same thing you’re doing can be extremely valuable (both in growing your business and keeping your spirits high).

If you’re a consultant and anything resonates that you’ve heard here today resonates, check out ducttape.me/discover for information on upcoming live trainings with me, where I walk you through the methodology of our Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at SEMrush.com/partner/ducttapemarketing.

6 Email Marketing Myths You Can Ignore

6 Email Marketing Myths You Can Ignore written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Email marketing has been around for a long time, and consequently, people have developed a lot of opinions about what works and what doesn’t. However, as the digital marketing landscape has changed, some things about email marketing that used to be true are no longer so. And there are some things that have always been myths, but still persist today.

Here, let’s debunk the six biggest email marketing myths out there.

1. Email Marketing is Dead

As more digital channels have emerged through which you can reach clients, there have been whispers going around that email marketing is dead.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Marketers still see a great deal of value in email marketing, and are still investing heavily in this tactic. According to surveys from HubSpot, 93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content. On the B2C side of things, 59% of consumers report that information in an email has influenced their purchasing decisions. And everyone is on email. Ninety-nine percent of consumers check their email every single day (and most report doing so multiple times a day).

2. Frequent Emails Feel Spammy

Some marketers are hesitant to send regular emails at the risk of annoying their mailing list. And it’s true, for most consumers, their inboxes are crowded places. A survey from Marketing Charts found that the average person receives 416 marketing emails each month.

But just because others are sending emails doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send any (or only send one once in a blue moon). The key to avoiding that spammy feel is ensuring that your content is always valuable. If you send emails that add value, provide information, and are actually helpful to your audience, you’re a lot more likely to see strong open rates and a reduction unsubscribes.

If you’re looking for tips on creating engaging content, check out this post.

3. Unsubscribes Are a Bad Thing

No one enjoys rejection, and an unsubscribe can certainly sting. But the reality is that unsubscribes are not necessarily a bad thing. A clean email list is key to staying on ISPs’ good sides, and that’s what will keep your emails from being barred from inboxes.

You can do things on your end to clean your list—like scanning for typos and giving people an option to re-opt-in if they’ve been unresponsive to your recent email marketing efforts—but unsubscribes are a way for you to get your customers to do some of the heavy lifting for you. An unsubscribe is someone saying they’re no longer interested in your content, and that could be for any number of reasons.

If you see a large number of unsubscribes all at the same time, that might be indicative of a problem with your content, but if you see people leave your list from time to time, that’s simply making space for a higher open rate overall and a better relationship with ISPs.

4. There is a Magic Day and Time to Send Emails

Some marketers swear by sending emails at a very specific time. If it’s not Tuesday at 10am, they won’t send an email!

There has been a lot of research over the years, with marketers trying to find that magic time where open rates will be high and conversions will abound. But these studies have been less than definitive, and so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to timing emails.

It’s certainly true that some audiences will engage with emails at a higher rate at certain times of day, but that will vary from business to business, so trying to stick with some antiquated idea about the one day and time you can send an email won’t serve you.

Instead, do some experimenting, send emails at several days and times throughout the week and see which ones get the highest engagement. Then aim for that time again, and see if you can repeat your results. Be willing to mix things up, and don’t be afraid to send emails out more than once a week (see point 2 above).

5. Long Subject Lines Spell Trouble

For a long time, marketers were told to shy away from subject lines that were too long to be fully displayed in someone’s inbox. That sounds on the surface like a sensible piece of advice, but it turns out that a recent study from Marketing Sherpa busted this long-held belief.

While email subject lines that fall into that “sweet spot” of 41-50 characters performed well, it’s actually longer subject lines with 61-70 characters that did the best. So don’t stress about fitting all of your email subject lines into those narrow parameters. Instead, work to create a subject that is attention-grabbing and really tells readers what they can expect to find inside the email.

6. Avoid Repeat Messages

Super Office reports that the average open rate for emails in 2018 was just shy of 25%. That means that three out of four people on your list are not seeing any given email. Some people won’t read a given email because the subject line doesn’t interest them, but others will miss it for completely innocuous reasons. They may have been busy that day or accidentally deleted the message.

Whatever the case may be, for your most important content, it’s okay to send the same email copy twice in order to get the highest engagement. This isn’t a tactic you should take with every email message, but it can actually be valuable when used sparingly.

There are a few caveats here. First, don’t send the same email on the same day. Instead, wait several days before you resend it. You should also switch up the subject line, so that those who wrote the email off the first time because of its subject line might open it this time, and so that those who opened it the first time around aren’t put off by getting the exact same email twice.

Why A Small Business Needs A Responsive Website

Why A Small Business Needs A Responsive Website written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Responsive websites are a necessity in today’s digital marketplace. That isn’t surprising when statistics state that 51% of time spent online in the United States took place from a mobile device, rather than a personal computer. Your website should be mobile-friendly and responsive any time a user visits. Otherwise, you’re turning business away at the first click.

What is Responsive Web Design?

Though it is a common business marketing term, many small business owners still wonder what a responsive website really entails.

A responsive website, aptly named, means that the site’s web design has been developed to adapt and respond to the different forms of technology that your audience uses to view your site.

If you’ve ever opened a website on your mobile phone that seems to have you scrolling horizontally more than vertically, leaving you piecing together cut-off sentences and large photos, you’ve viewed a website that is not responsive. On the other hand, a responsive web design ensures that your visitors have a seamless experience while on your small business’s website.

What Are the Benefits of a Responsive Website?

Strategic business marketing includes many tactics to help your small business reach your goals, both online and offline. Responsive web design is a key tool, offering many valuable benefits to your online marketing efforts.

Faster Web Pages

Countless statistics indicate that internet users’ attention spans are becoming increasingly short, with more distractions than ever pulling your audience away from your site. With responsive web design, your site will be optimized. Optimization and faster webpage loading times mean that your website users will be able to more easily navigate your site, rather than getting frustrated and clicking away.

Higher Conversion Rates

With easier navigation and shorter loading times, website visitors are more likely to stay on your website and find information easily. Once your visitors are able to find your services, they are much more likely to decide on contacting you. Furthermore, a responsive web design ensures that your website remains consistent and recognizable for return customers who are using different devices to find more information about your business.

SEO Ranking

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the term SEO. Though the term can seem vague at times, the important aspect of SEO to remember in terms of your web design’s responsiveness is that Google prefers those who have a mobile-friendly and desktop-version of their site. Even better, if your site can configure to all the tablets, large phones, and everything in between, your website will be ranked even higher in search results. Better SEO means better traffic to your website!

Less Website Upkeep

Rather than choosing a responsive web design, many small business owners choose a website with a mobile version and a desktop version. A problem arises with that solution. With the changing sizes of mobile phones and tablets, only two versions of a website prove to be a challenge. With a responsive site, an optimal layout is available for any screen size, thanks to fluid grids. Less time spent updating the sizing and layouts to keep up with technology trends means more time on what you do best!

Determine Marketing ROI More Efficiently

A responsive website provides an additional benefit to your small business’s analytics and reporting. Rather than managing multiple versions of a website, a responsive site allows you to track your audience, conversions, and traffic sources much more simply. Similar to Google awarding you through better SEO ranking, Google Analytics now caters to the responsive web design model to deliver consolidated information that gives you the whole picture on your marketing results.

A Unified, Memorable Brand

One of the key benefits of a responsive website is the ability to design one site that is applicable to all internet users. As a result, a single design delivers your brand’s look, personality, and voice in a unified fashion. Though this may seem surface level, business marketing best practices indicate that a unified brand builds loyalty and recall, which then directly converts to repeat customers.

Effortless Business Marketing

At Outreach Local Marketing, we believe that with a responsive website, your small business will be a marketing machine! Our process for website development centers around Google best practices, taking keywords, SEO, social media, and content into consideration. In the end, our goal for your responsive web design project is to create a website that ensures your business is putting your best digital foot forward. Forty percent of internet users have stated that they exclusively search on their mobile phones, so don’t let your small business fall behind the times!

About the Author

David Gersh is the founder and president of Outreach Local Marketing, a digital marketing agency based in Westlake Village, CA. Through his agency, he helps local businesses build a marketing machine that attracts leads & customers by implementing a strategy first marketing approach.

 

Best Practices for Keeping Your Email List Nice and Clean

Best Practices for Keeping Your Email List Nice and Clean written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve likely built up a quite a long email list. Email remains a convenient, effective way to reach prospects and customers, so it’s great to have a lot of names to send offers and updates to.

However, if your marketing emails are getting low engagement, it may start to raise eyebrows with internet service providers (ISPs). If you continue to have issues with your email list, ISPs will block your emails from ever reaching your customers—even those who are still excited to hear from you.

That’s why it’s important to keep your email list neat and clean. Sending emails only to those who are engaged and happy to be on your list will ensure better open rates and a greater return on your marketing efforts.

If you’ve let your list get to a scary place, now is the time to tidy it up. Here’s how you do it.

Look at Your Bounces

The first place to start when you’re cleaning your email list is to see where it stands now. Take a look at your bounce rates. Email marketing services will pull reports that show you hard and soft bounces.

A soft bounce is an email address that they were temporarily unable to reach. It may be because their server was down, or some other short-term issue. These addresses don’t need to be removed from your list right away, but do know that if the soft bounce continues week after week, it will become a hard bounce and then should be addressed.

Hard bounces are for email addresses that cannot be reached permanently. It might be because the email address has been closed (this happens a lot when someone signs up with their work email and then leaves the company). It may also be something that you can fix on your end, like a typo.

If the hard bounce is something you can fix, you should fix it and otherwise leave the name on your list! If the hard bounce isn’t something you can control on your end, remove that email address from your list.

Check for Typos and Role Addresses

As I mentioned above, a lot of typos in an email list can have an effect on bounce rate. Some typos are obvious and easy to catch—for example, email addresses with “gamil.com” instead of “gmail.com.” Others require a little more digging to fix. For example, you’re not necessarily going to know how a person’s last name or company name should be spelled, but there are ways to identify these issues. If the person has signed up for your email list through a form on your website, cross check the spelling of their name across different sections of the form. If they entered one spelling into the “last name” box, but then spelled their surname differently within their email address and the email is bouncing, you can assume that the email spelling is incorrect and instead switch it to the spelling reflected in the other portion of the form.

Role addresses should also be removed from your mailing list. These are emails that are “support@” or “info@.” These are addresses that are easy to scan for and remove, and eliminating them can have a positive effect on your standing with ISPs.

Opt-In Messaging

Once you’ve gone through your existing email list and cleaned things up, you want to take steps to keep your list in good shape. That starts with opt-in messaging.

For people who sign up via your website, provide them with a double opt-in prompt as they’re entering their information. This means that they’ll click on the “Sign up for our mailing list” button, put in their information, and then receive a second prompt—”Yes! Sign me up for this list”—which they’ll have to click to confirm enrollment. Asking people if they’re sure they want to register will keep those who are on the fence from even getting on your list in the first place.

You can take the same approach with names who have been dormant on your list. You shouldn’t delete them right away on your own, but you can check in with those people who have not read your emails in some time. Send them a re-opt-in message. This gives them the chance to choose to remain on your list. If they do remain, this re-opt-in will perhaps reinvigorate their interest in your list and get them opening messages from you again. If they choose to go, that’s okay, too! They’ve done some of the work of scrubbing your list for you.

Create a Welcome Email

Sometimes people sign up for a new email list and then promptly forget that they’ve done so. A week later, they get the first email from the company and say, “What is this doing here? I didn’t sign up for this!” Suddenly, they’re reporting your email as spam. Get reported as spam often enough, and you can get dinged by ISPs.

That’s why it’s good practice to send a welcome email. Thank your new subscriber for signing up, tell them what they can expect from you going forward, and give them an opportunity to opt out now, in case they’ve already changed their mind.

Better yet, consider establishing a welcome journey series, focused on getting them to a sale even more quickly. No matter what route you choose to take with the welcome email, it will help to manage expectations for both you and them, and allows you to keep your email list clean from the start.

Send Regular Emails

Once you have a list of email addresses you know are valid, from people who are excited to be there, it’s up to you to stay in regular contact!

Setting a regular schedule for your emails keeps your fans engaged and open rates high. People who really want to be on your list will be excited to see your content, offers, and updates on a regular basis. If you only send emails once in a blue moon, it’s possible that even those who like your business will ignore it or question why they’re on your email list.

Sending regular emails is also a great way to weed out those who don’t really want to be there. When a customer or prospect regularly receives an email from a business they’re not excited to hear about, it’s more likely to drive them to unsubscribe. While having someone leave your list may seem like a bad thing, it actually saves you from having to do the work of identifying them as unengaged subscribers and removing them on your end.

Segment Your List

Another great way to keep subscribers happy and engaged is to segment your list. Segmentation means that people will get the content that’s most relevant and important to them, which will keep them opening and reading your mailings.

There are a number of ways to segment. One is by stage in the customer journey. You can provide your best repeat customers special discounts, sneak peeks at new products, and other fun bonus offers. Another is by past purchase behavior. Let’s say you own a toy store. A customer who’s purchased toys for babies in the past likely won’t want information about the newest board games or Lego sets, but they would like to hear about the latest car seat toys.

In the world of email lists, it’s quality, not quantity, that wins out in the end. Building and maintaining a clean list, filled with subscribers who are happy to be there, will help you to decrease your bounce rate, increase your open rate, stay on ISPs’ good sides, and get the most out of your marketing efforts. A tidy email list is a win-win-win, so set aside some time this summer to clean things up and set yourself up for email marketing success.

How Giving Back Can Create Business Success

How Giving Back Can Create Business Success written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Sam Ashdown
Podcast Transcript

Sam AshdownToday on the podcast I speak with real estate and marketing expert Sam Ashdown. Ashdown has built three successful real estate businesses: as a consultant to real estate agents; a consultant to home sellers, called HomeTruths; and a real estate agent, with her company AshdownJones.

Beyond her passion for real estate is a deep knowledge of marketing strategy and tactics. She became an expert to promote her own businesses, but then expanded to start a club to help other small business owners with their marketing efforts.

Ashdown speaks about how she started her own businesses, how she became passionate about marketing, and how and why she runs the Success at Marketing Club.

Questions I ask Sam Ashdown:

  • How do you find leverage points within your existing business to develop other elements of your approach?
  • What is the Success at Marketing Club, and why did you start it?
  • How do you stick with an idea when you’re not seeing immediate results?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to get creative about building your referral engine.
  • Why trying and teaching is a unique way to grow your business (and learn something yourself).
  • How a non-traditional path can actually lead you to a richer understanding of your industry and business.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Sam Ashdown:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Want to learn how to get the most from podcast advertising and sponsorship? Check out our ultimate guide on the process.

Why Your Marketing Must Be Led By Strategy First

Why Your Marketing Must Be Led By Strategy First written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Strategy First Marketing

A lot of people use the term “marketing strategy,” when what they’re really talking about is marketing tactics. Strategy is not just a Facebook post or a paid search campaign or blog posts. Those are the tactics you use to execute your strategy. But if you don’t have a larger strategy to guide you, then you’re just going to be guessing about what tactics you should be using as part of your marketing efforts.

Today, we’re going to look at what you need to do to put strategy first so that you can get intentional about your marketing approach.

Who Is Your Ideal Client?

Chance are that, today, you’re defining your ideal client too broadly. If you’re a tax preparer, your ideal customer is not just anyone who wants to do their taxes.

Sure, some of them are, but what makes a customer ideal for your specific type of work? If you charge a lot more than the national tax preparer, who opens up shop on the corner and charges $49.00 per return, then the people who would want to go with this cheap and easy option are not your ideal client. But maybe you have expertise that’s best suited to people with a specific tax need—like a high net worth individual who has lots of investments and philanthropic write-offs. Plus, they’re the ones who’d be willing to spend more to get the job done correctly.

Don’t guess about who your ideal client is. You are already working with some great people, so turn to your existing client base. Who are your most profitable clients? Who refers the most business to? What are the common characteristics that you find in those clients?

This doesn’t mean that this ideal client will ultimately be the only type of person you’re going to serve. But it does mean that all of your marketing messaging should be demonstrating that this is the type of person you can get the greatest results for.

What Is Your Core Message?

The first step to finding your core message is asking, “What problem does my brand solve? And what promise can my brand make to solve that problem?”

Let’s say you own a lawn care business. Your potential customers will automatically operate under the assumption that you know how to mow a lawn. But that doesn’t really address the problem the potential customer has.

For most homeowners, their biggest problem associated with a home care service is about something beyond the basic service the business provides. Homeowners hate having to wait around for the provider to arrive during their service window (and how often are those people actually on time?). When they hire someone to handle their landscaping, the team leaves behind a big mess of hedge trimmings and lawn clippings. Or it’s difficult to get payment to them because they only accept checks. These are the real problems your clients have.

So your core message is not, “We know how to care for your lawn”—of course you do! Instead, it’s “We show up on time, every time.” Or, “We leave your yard looking cleaner and better than when we arrived.”

This core message should be featured above the fold on the homepage of your website. It’s a key element of strategy because it is how you differentiate your business in a way that your customers care about that goes beyond your products or services.

How Do You Make Content the Voice of Strategy?

Customers don’t need a description of your product or service right up front. Sure, once they get further along in their journey and begin considering their purchasing options, they’ll want to know the nitty gritty details. But for now, they want to know how you’re there for them.

Back to the lawn care example: If the prospect is looking to create a better lawn, they may not have decided they need someone to do that for them. They may initially just be looking for advice and expertise, thinking this is a task they could tackle on their own.

The lawn care business, then, wants to establish themselves as that local source of expert advice. This is where hub pages come in. The lawn care business will publish “The Guide to the Perfect Lawn”—a hub page that consolidates all of their content around lawn care into one place.

This hub page will rank in Google results for someone looking for the perfect lawn in your local area. Now, you become their go-to source for guidance on lawn care. You develop a relationship with them, and they come to trust you. Some of these people will, of course, still opt to go it alone and handle their lawn themselves. But others will say, “It looks like these lawn care people have it all figured out. Why don’t I just hire them to do it?”

The hub pages are a way to draw people in who might not even be looking to make a purchase or become a customer. But then, your expertise is what builds trust and eventually convinces them that they do need the solution you offer.

Guiding People Through the Marketing Hourglass

Customers have buying questions and objectives, and these will change along the various stages of their journey with your business. It’s your job to guide customers through the marketing hourglass, taking them through the logical steps of getting to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer your business.

To make sure you’re providing customers with what they need at each stage, start by asking questions. In the know phase, the essential question for a business owner to answer is, “If someone didn’t know about us, where would they go to find a business like ours?” For most businesses, the primary answer to that question is Google. But in the lawn care example, you also might have prospects that ask a neighbor for a referral, or see your truck around town or your signs on people’s lawns.

Once you’ve done that for the know phase, you move on to the other six stages of the hourglass. Once they find your website, what do they see when they get there? Do they see that other people know, like, and trust you?

How does someone try what your business is offering? If you’re the lawn care business, that might be getting a quote. But how exactly do they go about getting that quote? Is it a form on your website, or do they need to call or email you? How quickly do you respond? Is the response personalized, or does it feel like a boilerplate offer? These elements all become a part of the customer’s experience and journey with your business.

The buy, repeat, and refer stages are more internal. How do you onboard a new customer? What are your team’s checks to ensure that customers are getting the results that they want from your business? What makes a great experience that will bring them back for another purchase or encourage them to refer a friend? This is where you want to get into the buyer’s head to determine what they’ll expect out of you.

Once you understand what a customer wants from you at each stage in the journey, you need to make sure that your online assets address those needs.

You’ve now identified the ideal customer, you know the core message and promise, you know how content becomes the voice of strategy, and you know how your customers want to buy. Now, you can fill in the gaps to meet customers wherever they are. That is the heart of marketing strategy.

Now We Turn to Tactics

Tactics are what allow us to fill in those gaps to meet customers where they are. If your ideal customer finds businesses by searching the web, you need to create a hub page so you rank in those SERPs. You need testimonials on your website to build trust. You need to be on social platforms, so that you have information in lots of places that proves your legitimacy as a business. You need reviews on social media and review platforms so that others are vouching for you. These are the tactics that align with the larger strategy.

We have an engagement called Strategy First, where we do this entire process for our clients. As a part of this engagement we interview your existing customers and analyze your competitors. We build ideal client personas and establish a core message and promise that will speak to them. We map out your hub page and determine how to make content the voice of your strategy. And we go through the marketing hourglass exercise and identify the gaps in your current marketing approach. This gives you a firm foundation on which to build your tactics and move your marketing forward based on solid strategy.

Want to learn more? Schedule a consultation with us so we can talk about how to do this for your business.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Axa Logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by AXA.

It’s time we start giving life insurance the credit it deserves. That’s because life insurance can be so much more than protection for you and your family. It can also help you live, keep, and potentially build more cash value over time. To learn how, go to www.AXA.com.

Disclosure: Life insurance is issued by AXA equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10104 or MONY Life Insurance Company of America (MLOA), an Arizona Stock corporation with its main administration office in Jersey City, NJ and is distributed by AXA Distributors, LLC.

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Three: Ignite

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Three: Ignite written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 3: Ignite

This is the third episode in our three-part series on the Model for Marketing Maturity. Want to learn more? Check out the previous two episodes on Stage 1: Build and Stage 2: Grow.

We’ve reached the third stage of the model for marketing maturity. Stage one was focused on building your house and getting the five most essential elements in order. Stage two was about getting those five channels to a level where they can start to pay dividends, and then adding on three additional channels.

Now, in the third phase, you can take the foundation you’ve built and go even deeper into expanding upon the elements that will grow your business. Here, we’ll look at adding a final layer that will amplify and ignite the work you’ve already done.

In addition to going even deeper into the channels you’ve already established, here you add CRM, marketing automation, and analytics and tracking into the mix.

Expand On Your Website and Content

With a fully functioning website, your focus now should be on optimizing the various elements even further. You’ll want to track your conversion rate and make changes to optimize those numbers. This is also where you should think about segmenting your content. You might even build mini-websites on top of your larger website, with content that is targeted at specific groups and buyer personas.

Finally, you want to think about harnessing your existing content for specific stages of the customer journey. How can you use content to ignite sales? How specifically can it assist in cross-selling and upselling? And how do you create content that gets shared and establish viral loops?

Add to SEO

Once you’ve created your on- and off-page SEO approach, you can continue to build on it. This is where you can add other forms of content, like a podcast, to increase your authority and ranking within search results. Appearing as a guest on existing podcasts allows you to build up even more links to your content.

Continue to dive deeper into your Google Search Console data. Take what you learn there and use it to increase organic click through rate on your website. This data can also help you to make changes that will allow you to appear in voice search and featured snippets, both of which are becoming increasingly relevant in the Google landscape.

Build Social Media Campaigns

Now that you have a presence across all relevant social platforms and have begun to boost posts and take a stab at paid advertising, now is the time to create broader campaigns. You might even look to create your own community online, with groups that encourage your fans and customers to come together.

Live video is another critical element in social media, and a lot of business owners are tempted to start putting out video content immediately. In reality, it’s not worth adding live video into the mix until you’ve done the work in the build and grow phases and have the basic framework of your social media presence in place.

Enhance Email Marketing Campaigns

In the earlier stages, you cleaned up your email marketing list and ran reengagement campaigns. This is the phase where you can begin to further segment your audience and run more and more complex campaigns.

Grow Your Paid Search Approach

The next step with paid search is to build an even more robust approach to your Google Ads. Establishing landing pages on your website that are tailored to specific campaigns is a great way to enhance the personalization of your messaging and impress prospects. You can also add display ads and re-marketing to your paid approach.

Establish Processes Around Sales Enablement

In the ignite phase, you’re able to get even more strategic about the way in which you present your offers to prospects. What gives you the greatest shot at making the sale? How can you best nurture leads that come in? If someone is already a customer, what do you do to get them to repeat?

You can also consider adding speaking engagements into the mix, here. Like what you did earlier in establishing a partner network, speaking allows you to tap into others’ existing networks and grow your brand’s reach even further.

Delight as Part of the Customer Experience

A top-notch customer experience is about delighting them so much that they not only repeat, but refer your business. What can you do to stand out from the competition and win their repeat business? Maybe this is something like the talk triggers that Jay Baer advocates for, which not only encourage repeat business but create word-of-mouth marketing. Maybe it’s an event that offers a unique experience or access to valuable information to your existing customers.

Whatever it is, you should be using customer feedback to inform these marketing decisions. When you understand how your current customers feel about the service they receive from your business, you can create future campaigns, events, and products that directly address their needs and any gaps they’ve identified in your current approach.

You also should establish a concrete way to generate referrals; this is where a referral program comes in.

This is what a fully realized marketing maturity model looks like. It’s the groundwork for your marketing plan moving forward. Use this as your roadmap, and in some cases it can be your three-year marketing plan.

From here, we add in the final three elements of the ignite phase.

1. Customer Relationship Management

You’ve already organized contact information in the build phase. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can help you further organize and track all relevant customer data.

What does it take to initiate a record? How are you going to segment prospects and customers? What does the customer journey look like within your CRM tool? Once you’ve answered these questions and established a clear process for tracking and responding to customer behavior, you can go back in and take a look at the results.

Which approaches are generating conversions, and which ones are falling flat? When you’re tracking responses within your CRM, you can continue to refine your marketing approach over time.

2. Marketing Automation

Most CRM tools today include a marketing automation component. This allows you to track behavior, score leads, and create and launch campaigns that are triggered by specific behaviors or actions.

You can create campaigns that are triggered when someone opens an email, clicks a link, visits a website, or makes a specific purchase. This again speaks to the importance of personalization. When your business responds to customers’ actions with relevant follow-up, that is a key component in creating a great customer experience.

3. Analytics

Hopefully, you installed Google Analytics on the very first day you created your website. But now that the site is up and running, you can begin to set goals within Analytics. Decide on the KPIs you want to monitor, track your results, and tie all advertising activity back to what happens in Analytics.

Call tracking is another important element for any small business. Interactions through your online channels generate tons of data. You can see where you got a click on your website, who liked and shared your social media, or who opened your email newsletter.

But beyond that, you want to understand who actually became a customer. Call tracking allows you to keep tabs on who actually called your business, what happened in the interaction, and whether or not they decided to make a purchase from you.

The model of marketing maturity is divided into three phases for a reason. The build phase is about getting your house in order, and some businesses remain there for a very long time. Hopefully, though, you aim to progress to the later stages. But you can’t do that without the fundamentals from the build stage being in place. And you can’t do the work to ignite your marketing efforts until you have established all the channels in the grow phase.

The key thing to remember is that all of these elements are the tactics that make up a larger marketing strategy. You must have the larger strategic picture in place first, and use that to guide the implementation of the individual tactics.

If you want to learn more about the model of marketing maturity, or you feel like this strategy first approach is missing from your business, reach out to us.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Axa Logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by AXA.

It’s time we start giving life insurance the credit it deserves. That’s because life insurance can be so much more than protection for you and your family. It can also help you live, keep, and potentially build more cash value over time. To learn how, go to www.AXA.com.

Disclosure: Life insurance is issued by AXA equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10104 or MONY Life Insurance Company of America (MLOA), an Arizona Stock corporation with its main administration office in Jersey City, NJ and is distributed by AXA Distributors, LLC.