Category Archives: Strategy

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To Niche, or Not to Niche in Your Business?

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on To Niche, or Not to Niche in Your Business?

There’s a big movement today of people selling advice, programs, and courses about how to build your business that all sound like this: “Find a niche, run Facebook ads to this niche. Then become specialized, and get rich.”

While I won’t go as far as to call this a marketing scam, I will say that I think it’s bad advice. Here’s why I think it’s not a great way to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

You Get Boxed In

When you’re just starting out, how can you possibly know what it is that you really want from your business? This obsession with finding your niche before you get going will keep you from experimenting and testing. You become focused on a very specific client from the get-go, and are unwilling to think beyond this narrow profile.

However, as time goes on and you start to actually run your business, you may discover that you don’t like working with that very narrow audience you’ve selected for yourself. The tough thing is that once you’ve gone all in with targeting and marketing to a small subset of the population, it’s tougher to pivot and broaden your approach. It’s usually easier to get more specific in your focus as time goes on, rather than to start hyper-focused and move outward.

You Stop Up Your Creativity

The other major risk to defining your niche too early is that you can stifle your creativity. When you only work with a narrow segment of the population, it’s easy to fall into the trap of offering cookie-cutter advice. While your suggestions may be useful to the businesses you consult for, it’s not a whole lot of fun for you.

I find that a lot of the fun of the entrepreneurial journey is constantly getting to try and learn new things. Getting to understand new industries, tackling new problems, and finding new challenges and solutions along the way is all part of the excitement!

Why Do People Fall for the Niche Approach?

There is certainly some validity to the concept of finding and leaning into your niche. For lots of entrepreneurs, particularly those working in B2B industries, you’ll encounter clients who want to work with people who have worked with similar companies. Those clients want the assurance that you already understand their industry and have a proven track record helping other businesses like them, so there are some pros to understanding a niche.

But there are some real cons to it, too. Sometimes getting too entrenched in just one industry keeps you from considering new, innovative ideas from the outside. I find that working across industries invites a cross-pollination of ideas and strategy—sometimes I’ll see something happening in one industry that inspires me to think differently about a challenge a client in an entirely different field is facing.

Share Your Point of View

To attract ideal clients, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself with a niche, but you can’t just leave it to fate, either. Rather than doing either of those things, start by defining your point of view.

In the case of Duct Tape Marketing, our point of view is that marketing is a system. This is a simple tenet that we live by, and it’s at the core of all the products we offer, decisions we make, and advice we give to clients.

While it’s not a hard point of view to get behind, it is one that differs from what the majority of marketers say. This unique point of view allows us to attract customers who are interested in this way of thinking, rather than those who are obsessed with finding a marketing firm that knows their industry inside and out.

Identify Your Ideal Client

Sharing your point of view will help to attract clients with the right mindset to your business. When you’re first starting out, you can’t go in with a rigid concept of your ideal client. Until you’ve done some work, you won’t know the types of problems you want to solve and types of people you like to work with.

Once you’ve gotten good results for a client in a specific industry, chances are other businesses from that industry will reach out, too. Either they’ll get referred by your original client, or they’ll see work on your website and be attracted to you because they feel you know their industry. But as you begin to build up a roster of clients, that’s when you can start to take control and make decisions about who you want to partner with in the long term.

With time, your business will change. You will change. Your capacity to do certain types of work will change. It’s better to learn as you’re going rather than to enter into things with a set outcome in mind.

Focus on Behavior

When you start to undertake the work of defining your ideal client, behaviors matter more than demographics.

For me, I like to focus on business owners who have the mentality of investing in and giving back to their community. The business owners who I most enjoy working with are those who are engaged in their communities and do work to lift those groups up. Perhaps they participate in industry boards or are involved in relevant nonprofits.

I’ve discovered over the years that there’s a link between the behavior of giving back to the community and the mentality of wanting to invest in professional services. Business owners who understand the importance of investing in their community also see the value of investing in services like marketing. So rather than looking at demographics, I look for this behavior that indicates a certain mindset of the type of client I most enjoy working with.

Once you understand who your ideal customer is, that’s when you can start saying no to those who don’t fit that profile. And when you start saying no to clients who don’t make sense for you and your business, you will organically fall into your own niche. The idea that you need to start by identifying your niche is poor advice; in fact, I think it’s the exact other way around!

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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!

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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!

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Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Two: Grow

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

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 2: Grow

This is the second episode in our three-part series on the Model for Marketing Maturity. Want to learn more? Check out Stage 1: Build.

The idea behind the marketing maturity model is that every business needs to begin by building the foundation for their marketing. Once they’ve built a solid foundation, they can start to grow and later ignite, or amplify, their marketing approach.

Website, content, social media, SEO, and email marketing are the primary five channels. In grow, now that we’ve built those foundational elements, we can add on paid lead generation, sales enablement, and customer experience.

1. Grow Your Website

In the build phase, you established a modern website. It has a clear promise and is mobile-friendly. Now is the time for you to add your business’s story. Incorporate your customer into the experience. Create segments so that visitors feel like the story you’re telling is speaking directly to them.

You also want to address additional technical concerns. Your website must be HTTPS secure. This is something that Google is taking note of, and those visiting your site on a Chrome browser now see a big “Not Secure” warning next to your URL if you haven’t switched to HTTPS (more on how to do that here).

Your website must also load quickly. Not only is this an important element in the customer experience, Google will also punish you in search rankings if your site loads slowly. Not sure where you stack up? You can check your site’s load times for both desktop and mobile with the PageSpeed Insights tool.

2. Get the Most Out of Your Content

Once you’ve begun the process of creating content, you want to use it as a lead generation tool. In the grow phase, the focus should switch from getting traffic to winning conversions.

In the build phase, you established a site with a review funnel, video, and core pages. The next step is to create hub pages.

Hub pages are the best way to create a content asset for your website. The pages bring together all of your relevant information on a given topic all under one roof, and so readers love them and Google rewards them in their rankings.

3. Grow Your Email List

Hub pages have an additional benefit. Once you’ve proven your thought leadership and expertise on the hub topic page, you can marry these hub pages with content upgrades. Visitors will be convinced by both the quality and quantity of information on these pages that you are the subject matter expert, and so they’ll feel there’s a good reason to give you their email address in exchange for more information.

Once you have obtained their email address and captured, you can begin to nurture your relationship with them through effective email campaigns.

3. On- and Off-Page SEO

In the build phase, you established your Google My Business page, ensured that data directories were all correct, and included descriptive, keyword-rich title tags and meta descriptions for all pages of your website.

As part of the grow phase, the first step is to master Google Search Console. This free tool from Google gives you remarkable insight into how and why people are coming to your website.

You also want to begin thinking about SEO beyond the bounds of your own website. How can you get other people to link to your content? Guest posts are a great place to start. Reaching out to relevant thought leaders in your industry and offering to write for their blogs (and asking them to contribute to yours) is a way to build up a network of external links—not to mention meaningful business connections.

Refreshing and updating your existing content is another part of the equation. For your evergreen content, what can you do to keep it relevant? Is there updated information that will keep this content useful for readers finding it today for the first time? Can you add new links that will enhance its usefulness and boost SEO?

4. Social Media Engagement and Outreach

Once you’ve established your social media presence, branded it, and have started posting content, you want to begin thinking about generating engagement. This is about asking questions that get your followers involved and start a conversation. It’s also time to think strategically about how to get people to like and share your content.

Media outreach can be a part of this next phase of social media as well. Are there publications in your area that you can share your content with? This will open you up to their established readership base, and introduce your name to new people who might be interested in what you do. Reaching out to influencers in the industry is another part of outreach. How can you get those who already have the attention of your ideal prospects talking about your products or services?

The key to expanding on the strategy you established during the build phase is doing it in a logical order. This chart provides an overview for the three stages of the marketing maturity model, and how you can begin to expand your existing channels and add new ones as you move through each stage.

Now that you’ve progressed to the grow phase, it’s time to add the following channels:

  • Paid Lead Generation
  • Sales Enablement
  • Customer Experience

Once you have the foundational assets down, you can use these assets to generate leads and get sales conversations going.

1. Paid Lead Generation

Paid lead generation is about advertising on social media and search engines. I’ve written before about best practices for Facebook and Google ads, but this is also the phase where you should begin boosting your existing content on social media.

This is precisely why paid lead generation isn’t introduced until the grow phase. You can’t boost content that doesn’t exist, and you don’t want to begin spending money to generate leads if you don’t have a solid foundation of content, reviews, and trust elements for them to look to. Spending money to drive prospects to a bare-bones website will not generate leads and may, in fact, scare people off. Prospects need to have a clear sense of what they’re supposed to get out of your website once they arrive there.

2. Sales Enablement

The first step of sales enablement is looking to establish strategic partnerships. Are there other business owners that you can network with to generate leads for your business? These partnerships are great because they’re mutually beneficial: you get access to their existing network, and vice versa. For more on how to establish a strong network of strategic partners, check out this post.

This is also the phase where you should introduce what I like to call the discovery process. Someone visits your website, clicks your ad, or gives your business a call—now what? How do you know if they’re a good fit for you, and if they’re someone you want to work with? In this phase, you want to build a concrete process around what you do when someone expresses interest in your business.

3. Customer Experience

The build phase was about generating reviews, the grow phase is about responding to them. How you respond to reviews is a critical part of the customer experience, not just for the reviewer, but for any other customers who may happen upon the review in the future. And in fact, your responses to reviews, when handled properly, can become a great form of content that business owners often overlook.

You also want to build a structured onboarding process for new customers. Marketing is about so much more than just getting the sale; it’s about keeping an existing customer happy and coming back for more. Once you acquire a customer, what happens? What does their welcome kit look like? How do you set expectations moving forward?

The build phase was focused on the fundamentals. The grow phase was about adding components onto those essential channels, plus introducing three new channels to the mix. Once you build these areas out, you have a well-oiled marketing machine. There is, of course, still fine tuning and tweaking to be done, but this establishes a strong basis for all marketing moving forward.

In the final episode on the model for marketing maturity, we’ll cover the ignite phase, where you build even further on these channels and introduce new tools to automate and strengthen your approach.

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

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Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage One: Build

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

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 1: Build

A lot of small business owners hear about the latest trends in online marketing—AI, paid marketing, marketing automation—and begin to feel overwhelmed. There are already so many channels and tactics to consider, and it seems like there are new ones each day.

Of course, in an ideal world, your business would be taking advantage of all the available channels. But there’s no point in trying to jump ahead to the latest and greatest technology if you don’t have the basics under control.

That’s why I propose a specific model for marketing maturity. Made up of three stages—build, grow, and ignite—it encourages businesses to start with a solid foundation and work their way up to the final stage where all channels are being used, and you’re optimizing and maximizing your existing marketing assets.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the first stage, build. What goes into building the foundation of a business’s online marketing presence? There are five key elements you must include, and we’ll go through them here.

1. Marketing Website

The first step to getting online is building your website. A small business can’t survive today without one. It is the hub of your business’s online presence. And it’s not just about creating any old website, it’s about building one that is modern, accessible, and gets your story out there.

Websites today must be mobile friendly. Mobile sites are getting indexed first by search engines, and the vast majority of searches are now happening on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re starting at a deficit.

Once you have cleared that first technical hurdle, you need to ensure that your website clearly articulates your promise to solve the greatest problem your audience has. It needs to tell the story of why your audience should trust you to do the job. If those most essential elements are missing, you shouldn’t pass go.

The other key to creating an effective website is having your full editorial plan and SEO approach in place before you begin the design or build process. Your website, content, and SEO techniques have all risen to the strategic level in terms of marketing importance, so your plan to get your website up-and-running must seamlessly incorporate those three critical elements.

2. Approach to Content

Your content must all work to tell the story of why a prospect should choose your business. This means leading with that value proposition on your home page. Each subsequent core page should build upon that message, and include video to tell your story.

A review funnel should also be a central component of your content program, particularly if you are a local business. These funnels are a way to stop bad reviews from being posted across various sites, and they make it easy for your happy customers to share their thoughts on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or any other platform of their choice.

Once you’ve built your content, you want to make sure the meta data (the titles and descriptions that display on search results) are keyword rich. It should be clear exactly what you do in your title tags, so that prospects looking to solve a problem understand immediately that you offer a solution.

3. Search Engine Optimization

SEO sounds confusing, but in reality it’s pretty simple. The most essential SEO component for any local business is making sure your business’s name, address, and phone number are correct on your website, and that that information is the same as what’s displayed on your Google My Business page. Just go onto Google and claim your profile there to make the appropriate changes and keep your information up to date.

If your business has moved, you’ve changed your name, or you find that there is conflicting information online, you can use a service like BrightLocal to ensure that your data is correct across all of the directories out there on the internet.

4. Social Media

The first step to building your social media presence is making sure you’re present on the major networks where your customers are. Claim your profiles, make sure your branding is all over it, include links back to your website, and ensure that it’s a good experience. Even if you don’t plan to be active on social media, these profiles still must be claimed and established, because they’re going to show up in searches related to your business.

In order to tackle the branding aspect, a free tool like Canva can help you create images that are the right dimensions for each kind of social media profile.

Once you’ve got the pages established, claimed, and branded, you can begin thinking about putting out some basic content. If you have promotions, products, or sales that you’d like your audience to know about, a channel like Facebook can be a great place to tell them about it. You don’t want every single post to be a promotion, but you can begin to get the word out there on social media.

You can also begin to show off a bit of your brand’s personality. I like to call these culture posts. How can you start talking about a “day in the life” of your business? Show off how a product is made. Share posts about the office birthday party of one of your colleagues. This allows your audience to see the real people behind the brand and builds trust with your audience.

5. Email Marketing

You already have a list, but what state is it in? Before you begin thinking about marketing campaigns, you need to do some list hygiene: how old is the list, how long is the list, and how relevant are the names on it?

If the list is full of people who haven’t purchased from you in five years, it’s time to get rid of those names. If there are people on there who have made a purchase in the last 24 months, those are contacts that are still valuable.

Once you’ve cleaned up your list, you can run a reengagement campaign. What’s the best way to reach back out to those who have bought from you in the past, to either get them to buy again or get them interested in doing something new (passing on a deal, referring us to their friends, or otherwise reengaging them)?

You also want to think about how to grow your mailing list. That’s where having calls to action on your website come in. And I don’t mean a tiny box at the bottom that says, “Sign up for our newsletter.” I mean offering up valuable information, which visitors can access if they share their email address. How about a free evaluation, comparison, or checklist?

You should also provide a variety of calls to action on your site. Multiple calls to action are ways to engage people no matter where they are on their individual customer journey. Different calls to action address the different needs of your various prospects or clients.

These are the basics of the build phase of the model for marketing maturity. In subsequent shows, I’ll talk about the grow and ignite phases. Once we have the foundation built here, we want to address paid lead generation, sales enablement, and the customer experience component—the factors that go into growing your marketing. Then once we add those, we’ll start talking about data, CRM tool, marketing automation and even AI. Stay tuned over the next week for the next two installments.

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Tips for Getting Your Audience to Stay on Your Website Longer

Tips for Getting Your Audience to Stay on Your Website Longer written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

You put a lot of time, effort, and money into developing a website for your business. So you want to be sure that it’s capturing people’s attention and giving them the information they need to feel good about doing business with you.

But no one can learn what you’re all about in a second or two. You must hold visitors’ attention long enough for them to learn what they need to learn about your business. And while you can’t control a stranger’s attention span, there are things you can do to encourage your audience to stay on your website longer.

Put Your Value Proposition Front and Center

Prospects are coming to your website because they have a problem. The most important thing for them to learn when your page loads is, “Can this business solve my problem?”

If you make it hard for visitors to determine what you do, they’re going to quickly lose interest. Google turns out thousands upon thousands of search results in an instant. A confused prospect can and will easily find another business who’s clearer about their value proposition and how they can fix the issue at hand.

Your value proposition should be one sentence at the top of your landing page that simply and elegantly highlights what you do. And it should be something that speaks specifically to your ideal customer—it won’t be something that everyone can relate to. For more on how to find your ideal value proposition, check out this post.

Write Better Copy

Part of keeping people engaged is presenting your information in an interesting way. There is a right way and a wrong way to write website copy. Long, jargon-filled paragraphs and wishy-washy headlines are a great way to confuse and alienate your audience.

Stick with short, punchy headlines that clearly demonstrate what a reader can expect to find on any given page. Paragraphs should be no more than four sentences, and those sentences should be concise.

Focusing on how the copy can serve your value proposition and your calls to action on each page can help you to define exactly what you need from your writing.

Create Informative Content

The best way to build trust and keep your audience on your site is to prove that you have the expertise to solve their problem. And the best way to do that is to fill your site with informative content.

Blog posts that provide rich information and actionable steps for readers are a great place to start. Once you’ve created content that’s meaningful for your audience, consider grouping it on hub pages. These pages allow you to centralize information on a given topic, which is helpful for visitors looking for answers, and also boosts your site’s SEO.

Outside of written content, you want to mix things up. Varied content keeps people engaged. Work to incorporate video into your strategy. Think about infographics and other ways, beyond website copy, to present relevant information. People have different learning styles, so creating content in various forms allows you to capture the attention of all your prospects.

Think About Structure

How you structure the information on your website can help to keep your audience around. Think about it from a storytelling perspective. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. For brands, the beginning of your story is your offer to solve a prospect’s problem. The middle is the specifics on how you do it, and the end is the prospect converting to customer.

When you think about it that way, it allows you to get smart about how you structure your website. Your landing page should address the prospect’s problem. Pages below that in the hierarchy should support your initial value proposition, and provide visitors with more specifics about how you can fix their issue. Finally, this leads them to a place where they can make a purchase or speak to your sales team.

Get Smart with Calls to Action

Calls to action are not only a way to keep your audience on your website for longer, they’re a great way to build trust and drive conversions.

Set a goal for each page of your website, and have a corresponding CTA that drives a related conversion. That conversion could be the collection of an email address to add them to a mailing list or to send them a relevant white paper. It could be setting up a call with a sales rep to discuss your product offerings. Or it could be something as simple as sending them to a relevant blog post on your site.

When your calls to action are tailored to the information on each page, then you’re ensuring a higher rate of conversion because the visitor to that page is interested in the topic at hand. The CTA provides you the opportunity to give them the additional information they crave, proving your authority and trustworthiness as a brand. Plus, you’re able to learn more valuable information about your prospects that you can use to greet them with additional tailored offers in the future.

Don’t Forget Technical Elements

While it’s important that you’re providing prospects with the information and elements they need to see on your website, it’s also critical that your site holds up behind the scenes. Things like a quick page load time are critical for keeping your audience on your website. How many times have you sat staring at a blank page for a handful of seconds before clicking back to Google search results to check out the next site down instead? If you’re worried about how your site loads, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how you stack up.

Having a mobile friendly site is also a must. The majority of searches nowadays happen on mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t look good on a phone, that audience will be passing you over quickly.

The longer you can keep your audience on your website, the greater shot you have at winning their trust. When you undertake the steps above, you’re setting your business up to impress visitors and hold their attention, which in turn will have positive results on your conversions and bottom line.

10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019

10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019

You’ve started a business and created your website. But that doesn’t mean your work here is done. Behaviors and trends change, your needs shift, and your website must continue to evolve so that it’s meeting your goals.

The first step is to think about what it is that you really want your website to do. Are you trying to get more readers or subscribers, make more sales, or generate more calls from prospects?

Before you go through the process of updating your site to best serve this newly identified goal, you want to begin by understanding how users currently experience your website. Consider using a tool that tests user experience. Something like Neil Patel’s Crazy Egg allows you to install a code on your website that produces a report of heat maps for each page. These maps show how and where people consume content on your site—where they click or hover, how they scroll, and what they’re really trying to do on each page.

Once you understand the basics of what you want accomplish and how your users want to interact with your site, you can go about planning and designing a website that serves both of your needs. The following ten tips will help guide you through the process.

1. Kill the Sliders

Carousels and sliders became incredibly trendy in web design over the last few years. They may look pretty, but the thing is: They’re bad user experience.

Web designers may push for them because of their ubiquity, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best way to showcase what your business does. Even if the web design expert recommends it, do not fall into the slider trap!

2. Start With a Promise to Solve a Problem

Customers aren’t looking for a product or service, they’re looking for a solution. What is it that you’re solving, and how are you doing it?

The problem you’re solving represents the starting point of any customer’s journey. They didn’t come to your website for a casual scroll through all of your products and services, they want to know—from the second they land on your site—that you understand their issue and have the means to solve it.

3. Bring Whitespace Back

Like any fashion, web design trends come and go. Your website can certainly look dated if there are stylistic elements that were popular in the past decade but are less so today.

The thing is, websites aren’t just about looks. They should be more able usability. What allows a visitor to consume content and move through the journey you want them to have in the easiest manner?

The answer is whitespace. Several years ago, the trend was to cram everything above the fold. Now, long-form scrolling homepages are very popular, and it’s because users don’t want to click anymore. They want to scroll through a journey and find all of the relevant information on one page.

When I talk about whitespace, it’s not a matter of having big blocks of it. It’s more about creating room for your content to breathe. Adding space between the lines of scrolling information allows you to draw more focus to the most important elements and information on your site.

4. Provide Fewer Choices

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. What is the intent for your business and your site? What do you want people to do?

Find your core difference and how it speaks to your ideal client, and go from there. Plus, you’ll want to understand how to feature the products and services that not only speak to this audience, but are also most profitable and provide the greatest opportunity for your business.

Creating a site that is vague and broad only wears people out and turns them off to the value of your offerings.

5. Put Strong Calls to Action in a Number of Places

While you’re not trying to be everything to everyone, you can also vary your calls to action slightly within the framework of your well-defined value proposition.

These calls to action should be specific, and you should be touting their value. Generic calls to action like “sign up for updates” don’t cut it anymore. What is an update, anyway, and why do your customers need it?

Focus instead on calls to action with concrete benefits. “Get a free quote” or “Get a free report on XYZ” are offers that can have real value for prospects. And if the call to action doesn’t speak for itself, put some text around it that emphasizes its value.

You can and should have three or four different calls to action. Some people are just looking to contact you, so a “call us today” call to action is right for them. But you also want to have calls to action that allow those looking for a deeper dive into your information the opportunity to learn more.

6. Build More Landing Pages

Landing pages are not necessarily built to rank for a key phrase. But they should be built for each of your ads, locations, products and services, so that you can drive people to things that have a specific intent or need.

When people are greeted with specific, relevant information when they land on your site, they’re more likely to trust you and want to learn more.

7. Create Hub Pages

We’ve been talking about the importance of creating content for many years, and some of you have taken that message to heart. But more often than not, the content is created, distributed on your blog, and then mostly forgotten about.

In order to put all of this content to work for you, it’s time to start internally linking the content you’ve written over the years. And to take it a step further: Start creating hub pages that are centered around your most important and relevant themes.

Not only does this create more value for your audience, who can then find all relevant information in one place, it also makes Google’s search rankings happy, providing you with significant SEO value.

8. Consider Mobile First

For most businesses 70 to 80 percent of views of your site are on a mobile device. If you want to see where your business falls, go into your analytics and check the device report. That will tell you how people are viewing your site.

If most of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, doesn’t it stand to reason that your website should be optimized to create the best experience on mobile? Designers sometimes lose sight of the focus on mobile—they work on desktops with giant screens, but that’s not the way the majority of people are consuming your site. Be sure to remind your designers not to forget about how to best serve your prospects and customers with your site’s design.

9. Assess Load Speed for Pages

How quickly your site loads is a significant ranking factor for Google. Not only that, but slow-loading sites are irritating for your users and create a bad first impression.

If you’re not sure where your site stands, check out the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will provide information on how your site loads on both mobile and desktop devices. If you’re not getting a green rating for both, speak with a programmer who can get your speeds up to where you want them to be.

Often the source of the problem is a technical issue that can easily be fixed by a professional.

10. Address Security Concerns

People are becoming increasingly worried about security these days. If you do not have HTTPS in front of your URL, you’re immediately eroding trust in your brand. An HTTPS certificate ensures that your site and the data you collect there are being properly encrypted and are protected from hackers.

All websites should have an HTTPS certificate, but this is particularly important if you’re collecting sensitive information from visitors, like their contact information or credit card numbers.

Google is now informing anyone on a Chrome browser whether the site they’re visiting is secure or not, and your rankings in Google search are being affected if you don’t have that certificate. Plus, when the first thing visitors to your site see is “Not secure” in the browser window, it doesn’t make for a great first impression.

Fortunately, most web hosting platforms are now including HTTPS certificates with their hosting services. If yours is a WordPress site, Pressable is a great hosting option. Investing a bit more in a high quality web host is worth it in the long run.

If you want to get better results from your website in 2019, it’s time to start thinking about these ten factors.

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4 Ways to Get Creative with Marketing Automation

4 Ways to Get Creative with Marketing Automation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

A lot of salespeople and marketers are already aware of what marketing automation can do to nurture leads and convert prospects. When you’re trying to stay on top of communicating with leads, marketing automation can help keep that conversation flowing and ensure that no one fall through the cracks.

But the potential applications for marketing automation technology extend well beyond the bounds of just communicating with prospects. Here, we’ll take a look at ways you can get creative with marketing automation when communicating with existing customers or even your own team.

1. Automate Your Social Media Approach

Social media is the best way to meet your customers where they are online. According to Pew Research Center, most adults have at least one social media account, and most check them daily.

But it’s the daily nature of social media that can make it so difficult to keep pace on this channel. When you need to be creating and updating content for social media each and every day, that takes up a lot of time and energy.

Automating at least some of the social media processes can help to ease that burden. There are a variety of platforms—like Buffer and Hootsuite—that allow you to schedule social media posts across platforms in advance, meaning you can set one day aside each week to upload the following week’s posts, rather than having to do that piecemeal each day.

When you put together a cohesive social media strategy, rather than throwing content up on various channels here and there, it allows you to develop a clear, distinct voice for your business. Having a clear voice and tone helps to build trust, which is not only critical in winning over prospects; it also turns one-time customers into repeat business.

2. Stay In Touch After a Purchase

One of the places where some businesses falter is right after a customer’s purchase. As Joey Coleman noted during his interview on our podcast, 20 to 70 percent of customers disappear after making their initial purchase because they’ve been neglected by the company.

Once you’ve put in all the hard work to convert your prospect to a first time customer, you need to follow through on the promise you’ve made of excellent, attentive service. Marketing automation can help you to make sure you don’t forget about those new customers.

Establish a set of emails that are triggered when someone makes a purchase. Let’s say you own a furniture company, and you have a customer that just purchased a dining room set. The first email that they might receive immediately after that purchase could contain a how-to video that walks them through assembly, plus basic maintenance and cleaning. Several weeks later, you might send a second email checking in on how they’re enjoying their purchase so far. This not only gives you an opportunity to address any issues, but you can also ask for an online review. Your third email might go out in the fall, and contain helpful tips for making the most of your dining space when having friends and family over for holiday dinners.

A set of follow-up emails after a transaction gives the customer the sense that you’re still invested in their experience. It wasn’t just about closing the sale—you genuinely want them to enjoy their purchase. This only helps to reinforce their trust in your business, and makes them all the more likely to become a repeat customer or to refer you to a friend.

3. Build Your Referral Program

Establishing a successful referral program is a great way to make sure that your business always has a steady stream of qualified leads coming from your existing customer base. Marketing automation can help you to grow this program by ensuring you stay on top of communicating with happy customers.

Once someone makes a purchase, this should trigger an email asking for a review or rating. If they don’t review immediately, you should have a follow-up sequence of emails set to go, reminding them to review and offering a way to get in touch with you directly if they have an issue with their purchase.

After a customer does leave you a favorable review, you can then kick off a series of emails introducing them to your referral program, outlining the benefits to them and those they refer, and inviting them to join.

Plus, marketing automation can help you establish a regular rhythm for communicating with all repeat customers, not just those who have signed up for your referral program. Whether it’s with a newsletter or emails alerting them first to new products or offerings, regular communication is a great way to stay top of mind so you’re more likely to be the business they think of when a friend asks for a referral in your field.

4. Use it for Employee Training

Typically, marketing automation is thought of as something to use on an external audience. But there are internal applications for these tools as well. Automating necessary training modules or an onboarding program for new employees can be a creative way to make sure you’re providing your team with the information they need to be their best, most effective selves at work.

Let’s say you own a pet grooming business. After doing some customer research, you’ve discovered that people don’t like your booking processes, so you’ve instituted a new online booking system and have revamped the way you handle incoming calls about booking.

In order to get your team up to speed on the changes, you can create a series of training videos, set to be emailed to your team on a regular basis. Each new email introduces another facet of the new approach, contains a quiz to make sure they’re absorbing and integrating the changes, or maybe a survey asking how customers are reacting to the new system (and if they have any thoughts on how to refine it).

Marketing automation is a powerful tool that can have many applications beyond follow up emails to prospects. When you get creative with your approach, you can nurture your existing customer relationships and even strengthen your team’s effectiveness and engagement.

The Three Elements of an Effective Total Online Presence

The Three Elements of an Effective Total Online Presence written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Total Online Presence

Business owners today understand that being visible online is important. But what does having an online presence really mean? It’s a lot bigger than just having a website and a Facebook page. And when you look at the statistics on how consumers behave online, it’s easy to understand why. Did you know that:

  • 77 percent of searches on mobile devices are followed up by an action within an hour;
  • 87 percent of potential customers won’t consider a business with low reviews/ratings;
  • 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information on social media sites; and
  • 82 percent of small business owners claim their main source of new business is still referrals?

All of these statistics demonstrate the importance of having a total online presence that is fully integrated. That means that the total online presence shouldn’t supplant everything else you’re already doing—it needs to support it.

In order to make the most of the way that consumers interact with brands online, there are three fundamental elements of strategy for your online presence: website, SEO, and content. These are bigger than just tactics, they’re strategic components; as such, they need to be blended together in an effective and efficient way.

Below, we’ll take a look at the three elements of your total online presence, and how to get them working in tandem to bring you the greatest results.

Creating an Effective Website

The way that both search engines and people search has changed how websites need to work today. Your homepage isn’t just a placeholder and index for all of your links. It’s now the start of a journey—it’s where you build the know, like, trust, and try elements of your relationship with customers.

The first thing your homepage must do is demonstrate how you solve the biggest problem your prospects are facing. No one comes to a website looking for a product or service; they come looking for a solution to their problem. If you can prove that you understand their issue, then you can begin to talk about how you solve it (with your products and services).

The content on your homepage needs to back up your claims. Video is becoming an increasingly important element in building trust. A video featuring your team talking about your deep understanding of the problems your prospects face builds trust. Not only do they feel like you really know what you’re talking about, but the simple act of seeing your face and hearing your voice builds a personal connection that makes the trust grow even faster.

You also want to provide an evaluation or checklist in order to give prospects a way to try your approach. When they can see the way you work to solve their problem, they gain confidence in your ability to get the job done.

Beyond those basic content elements, your website also needs to address two major technical hurdles in order to be competitive today. First, it must work on a mobile device. In 2018, Google announced that they’d be using mobile websites, rather than desktop websites, as their main basis for indexing and ranking. This means that if you don’t have a mobile site (or you have one that isn’t optimized for mobile), you’re lagging behind your competitors and falling in Google search rankings. Second, security and privacy are becoming bigger and bigger concerns for consumers. After years of watching some of the giants like Facebook and Target stumble with online security, consumers are looking for small businesses who work hard to guard their personal information. This means ensuring that you have an HTTPS site and that you are encrypting any data you collect from visitors.

Search Engine Optimization

It’s Google’s world, we’re just living in it. Whether you like it or not, Google is the biggest player in the online game, and so a small business owner’s chief concern needs to be optimizing for Google. But at the same time, you can’t lose sight of your customers and optimizing for their human needs.

The first thing that any small business owner should do to ensure they’re ranking well with Google is take a deeper look at Google My Business. I’ve talked before on the podcast about the importance of this tool, but Google continues to build out this platform and further integrate it with other tools. In fact, I suspect that in 2019 it may become Google’s very own social platform, allowing small business owners to interact with their customers. But for now, at the very least, it’s the number one way in which small businesses are being found by people looking for local solutions.

This means you should be taking your Google My Business presence seriously. If you haven’t done so already, claim your business and make sure there are no duplicate entries. Ensure the category of your business is specific, and that the name, address, and phone number all sync up with what you have on your website. Add photos and videos, posts, and descriptions to your profile. You can even use Google My Business to connect directly with customers and prospects through text messaging.

You also want to be sure that your website is giving you the best shot at ranking locally. Fill your pages with local data, content, and resources. And beyond what is actually on your website for prospects and customers to find, you need to be paying attention to the metadata behind the scenes. Make sure your titles and descriptions are helping you rank for those search terms that matter most to your prospects.

Reviews are the final piece of the SEO puzzle. They have become a significant factor in how you rank. Businesses with few reviews or poor reviews will fall behind those with lots of good reviews. And as with all of the other elements of SEO, while reviews matter for rankings, they also matter for the people reading them. Having reviews—and good ones at that—will make prospects far more likely to give your business a try.

Content Beyond Blogging

Today, it’s pretty common for “content” to be used interchangeably with “blog posts.” But in reality, content is much bigger than that. Content drives every channel. Whether it’s advertising, email marketing, social media, community events, videos, referral offers, or text messaging, these are all forms of content (or at the very least channels where content is needed).

When you’re developing content, you need to be catering to every stage of the customer journey. A great way to do this is through the creation of hub pages. These pages allow you to structure your content around specific topics. When you centralize all of your knowledge on a given topic within a hub page, that allows the content to be shared more easily and to draw attention in ranking.

Beyond just creating a centralized page for relevant content, you want to be sure you’re marrying content upgrades to those hub pages. If you have a page that ranks, attach a free checklist or eBook so that you can begin using all of that content to capture leads.

I’ve Got My Strategic Elements—Now What?

As you can see, these three main elements of your total online presence all go hand in hand. This means that you also need to get your website, SEO strategy, and content working together to generate and capture leads, so that you can begin the process of nurturing them and converting them to customers.

Building an effective strategy is about addressing the needs of your prospects and customers all along their journey. Whether they’re in the earliest stages of the marketing hourglass, and are just coming to know and like your business, or they’re a repeat customer about to make a referral to a friend.

Every element of your strategy needs to be focused towards moving people along the hourglass, and this goes beyond just website, SEO, and content. Things like advertising, outreach, pay per click, and reviews all must work together to accomplish this task.

Fortunately, if you’re using these three major strategic elements as your guide, you’re able to structure the other tactics around those larger forces to create a marketing system that best serves the needs of your business and your customers.

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The Top Four Marketing Trends for 2019

The Top Four Marketing Trends for 2019 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on 2019 Marketing Trends

‘Tis the season for end of year lists and content that’s looking to trends in the New Year. Rather than run through all of the ins and outs of what I see coming up on the marketing horizon, I’ve decided to focus on what I see as the four most important marketing trends for 2019.

If you’re a small business owner or a marketing consultant who works with small business teams, these are the trends you can’t afford to ignore.

1. Get Up to Speed on Google My Business

Google has been trying to crack the social media and small business ad platform code for a while. Some attempts, like Google Plus, have not worked, but it seems like they may have finally found their sweet spot with Google My Business. This is a tool where local businesses can advertise and consumers can find nearby businesses on mobile devices.

Over the past few months, Google has been more and more focused on the Google My Business platform. It’s become more feature-rich and useful for business owners, and I think it’s likely that it will become a sort of social CRM tool in the near future.

Google My Business

Photo courtesy of Google

What do I mean by that? In addition to the features like leaving reviews, finding directions, and making suggestions to edit the page, Google has recently added a feature where people can follow a Google My Business page. Not only that, Google’s recently introduced an app just for their Google My Business product.

These changes lead me to believe that they’re aiming to make Google My Business like a social network for businesses. This serves local business owners well. When someone starts to follow your company on Google My Business, that’s obviously a strong indicator that they’re interested in what you have to offer. This provides yet another channel for you to identify hot leads and connect with your fans.

If you’re running marketing efforts for a small business, then you should be paying close attention to all of these developments and additions to the platform and keeping pace with them accordingly.

Eventually, I anticipate that a business’s Google My Business platform will become a ranking factor in Google searches. The more followers you have on your page, the higher you’ll rank in search results. The quality of your business’s online assets and reviews are already ranking factors, so it’s not a leap to think that Google My Business will affect ranking in the future.

2. Focus on Retention

There’s an awful lot of work that goes into generating leads. It’s time, it’s money, it’s effort. This means that retaining leads is really where a business’s bread and butter lies. Research has shown time and again that it’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to go out and find a new one.

So what does that mean for your marketing efforts? It means you need to focus on your basic online presence. Existing customers will only stick around if their experience in interacting with you is one that builds trust. When you have a shoddy online presence that’s inconsistent or has big gaps in information, you make your customers doubt you. Have you ever thought twice about using a particular service provider because they had a bare bones website or they weren’t anywhere to be found on Yelp?

Retention is also about focusing on building a robust on-boarding process for existing customers. This needs to be a process that’s clear-cut and allows you to monitor results and make changes and improvements based on the data you’re seeing.

Finally, you need to make sure you’re creating real value for your existing customers. Build campaigns that really train them, events that are experiences that surprise and delight, and a referral process that provides true incentive for them to pass your name along to others.

CRM and marketing automation tools can help you manage these processes. These tools allow you to segment your audience so that you can easily guide, train, and over-communicate with the customers you already have so that retention stays high.

3. Embrace the Cloud

In recent years, the Cloud has become a bigger and bigger part of doing business. And small business owners have already begun to use cloud-based technology to improve their internal systems and processes. Cloud-based storage and communication systems have made it easier for distributed teams to collaborate and get things done.

However, the future lies in harnessing cloud technology to provide an even better customer experience. It’s not just about convenience or lowering cost, it’s become a part of the customer’s expectation that cloud technology is used to enhance the customer experience.

As you begin 2019, think about how you can use cloud-based tools that help with payment collection, online collaboration, and other customer service features to make your customer experience even more seamless.

4. Use Video Content Everywhere

We’ve been talking about content and we’ve been talking about video separately for years, but I think 2019 is going to be all about video content. Short form video content, in particular, is an important marketing trend. Studies continue to show that video content gets the most engagement and highest return on investment.

Developers and tech companies have caught wind of the trend as well. They continue to come out with new tools and products that make it easier for anyone to produce short and engaging videos that can be used for any and all marketing efforts.

Video isn’t just something splashy to put on your website’s homepage anymore. It can and should be used to provide meaningful content all throughout the customer journey. You may use it during the early phases to introduce the brand story and team members, but it can also be employed further along the journey to share content that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry (building trust with prospects), and later to provide in-depth tutorials for customers so that they can get the most out of their recent purchases.

You should be using video across channels, too. Video on your website is great, but also put your video content to use in ads, social media posts, and as a way to introduce your blog posts. When video is used in this way, it goes beyond being just a tool to becoming something that produces deep, meaningful content all along the customer journey.

I hope taking a look at these trends gets you excited about all of the wonderful marketing possibilities ahead in the New Year!

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