Tyler Rice

Tyler Rice

Search Engine Optimization is more important than ever for a local business to bring in consumers.

In a time where everyone is wired to their smartphones and computers, local businesses need to make sure they are providing easy access to the information that their customers are looking for.

Are customers really using search engines for my business?

In a consumer study conducted by Google in May 2014, researchers unveiled that 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find information on local businesses with 88% of those people with their smartphones.

What are these consumers looking for?

During the study by Google, Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, researchers determined that the main intent of consumers searching locally was to find information on business hours, directions, and local address.

While searching for local information on their smartphones, it was found that:

  • 54% searched for business hours
  • 53% searched for directions
  • 50% searched for the address

If this information is not readily available with a few seconds of any consumer’s search, you could be losing valuable business to other local businesses.

Not only does having this information consistent and correct help a user find what they are looking for, but it also helps with your rankings on search engines.

What are the most important Local Search Ranking Factors?

A survey conducted by the researchers at Moz in 2015 shows the most important SEO factors attributed to local businesses ranking well within search engines.

On-page SEO Signals (20.3%)

On-page signals consist of the presence of business information on local directories, keywords in titles, and domain authority.

Local Directories

There are so many business directories out there to add your local business’ information! Include your business information on listings such as USDirectory.com and Superpages.com, but also look for any business directories that might be specific to the town that you are located in.

For example, here in Durango Colorado, we have 360Durango.com and the Visit Durango business directory.

Finding a way to list your business on as many directories as possible will increase your visibility and your search engine optimization efforts.

Keywords in Title

This is one of the most important methods in on-page SEO and it is also one of the leading factors for local searches. When optimization your website for search engines, make sure you are matching your website title tags to the most relevant keywords that your consumers are searching for.

The <title> tags are located on each individual page in the <head> HTML section of your website. While this may seem technical, depending on the website builder or web design services you use, there are common ways to update these tags.

For example, if your website is built using the popular platform WordPress, you can download a plugin like Yoast SEO that will serve as a central hub for updating your title tags for keyword optimization.

Domain Authority

This measure is determined by the overall website’s SEO efforts. This can include anything from linking to the page, relevant content, on-page SEO, and reputation. Domain authority takes an incredible amount of time and effort and can be best served by an expert at search engine optimization.

While there are many great resources on learning search engine optimization, we know that as business owners, it can be hard to find the time to allocate towards these efforts. Feel free to reach out at Animas Marketing to learn how we can help your business rank higher in search engines.

Ok, the sales pitch is over.

Link Signals (20.0%)

These signals include the anchor text on inbound links, the linking domain authority, and the number of links achieved.

Inbound Anchor Text

When a website links to your business website, you want to make sure that the anchor text (the linkable message used) is relevant to your business without being overly keyword based.

Here is a great resource if you’re would like to learn more on anchor text.

An important thing to note when addressing the anchor text of a link is to make sure that it is not a generic message such as “Click Here” or “This Website”.

Linking Domain Authority

Just like we discussed previously on the domain authority of your website, the same goes for other websites that link to you.

Simply put, the higher quality and reputation a website has that links to you, the higher reputation you gain from the link. Obtaining a link from the Huffington Post is going to be much more authoritative than a link from a small, new website that has little relevance to your business.

Quantity of Links Obtained

While it is better to have fewer quality websites linking to your business, the number of backlinks is a large factor in ranking high on search engines. Just make sure that the links you obtain to your business are relevant and are from reputable sites.

Factors such as this also have a large effect on a website’s domain authority.

Business Signals (14.7%)

These signals include the keywords in a business title and the proximity to a consumer.

Business Title Keywords

While it is important to have your own unique brand, having relevant keywords in your business name will help your ranking efforts.

For example, if I were to type in ‘local auto repair’ into the search bar at Google, a business name of “Mike & Ike’s Auto Care” will rank much higher than the generic version of “Mike & Ike’s”.

Proximity

When 88% of consumers are searching for local business information on their smartphones, you better believe that most of those consumers are searching on the go. 72% of people who searched for local information on their phone visited a store within 5 miles of their location.

Convenience is a large factor for consumers and if their search shows your local business in proximity to their location, they will be more likely to come shop at your store.

External Location Signals (13.6%)

These include business directory consistency and citation volume.

Business Directory Consistency

This is one of the largest issues with local businesses ranking on search engines. Many businesses fail to update or keep an eye out for the consistency of their business information on directories.

This is an issue with reliability and reputation. If Google sees that your business has different phone numbers listed in different locations, it loses trust for you and you lose rankings on the search engine. Keep your information updated constantly.

Citation Volume

While a citation does not have to be a business directory, it is a reference to your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). This is yet another role in Google evaluating the authority of your website.

Behavior Signals (9.5%)

These signals are related to your business website click-through rate, mobile click to call, and bounce rate.

Click-through Rate

Think about it. If people search for terms and your website is ranked in the top 5 results without receiving many clicks, then your content might not be relevant to the user. Google understands this and if your website has a low click-through rate (CTR), it will dock your website in the search engine results.

Mobile Click to Call

Most modern browsers on smartphones have links to call a phone number of a business. If a consumer is searching for a business phone number and finds it through the link, they can click on it directly to call the number rather than enter the digits themselves.

This is a great metric when evaluating your local search relevance and is used by Google as a ranking factor.

Bounce Rate

If consumers are landing on your web page to only leave after a few seconds without going to other pages, then Google sees that as an irrelevant site over a website where a user can spend a few minutes on.

If your bounce rate is extremely high, then it would be wise to evaluate why consumers are not finding the information they are looking for on your web page and to fix the issue.

Personalization (8.5%)

This includes the personalization of search results for each individual user. If a consumer is constantly searching the phone number at “Bob’s Pizza” since they order there frequently, then when they search for pizza near me, that result is more likely to show higher in the results.

Google is getting better at understanding their consumers’ behavior each year and as of 2017, they tailor the results for a user biased experience.

Review Signals (8.4%)

These include review quantity, velocity, and diversity.

Review Quantity

While it is not one of the largest factors, the number of reviews plays a part in search engine optimization.

Remember that the goal is Google is to provide the most relevant results to a customer query so if they see that a business has a large number of reviews, it can understand that many people have been to that business and have much to say about it.

Review Velocity

Are all your business reviews outdated? If reviews are continuously streaming in then Google sees this as a signal that your business is active and relevant to consumers.

Social Signals (8.4%)

Social signals include how your business is placed on social media such at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

While this is the lowest ranking in a search engine displaying local results, it is important to keep all of your information updated on social media accounts and keeping people engaged on those platforms can help a search engine see that your brand is active.

SEO for local business is different than SEO for an online business

It is true. When searching for search engine optimization needs for a local brick and mortar business, make sure that the specialist or service that you use is geared around these important ranking signals above.

Feel free to contact us at Animas Marketing to find out more about how SEO can provide tremendous value to your local business. 

Is Twitter really important for my business?

Twitter can be a powerful tool if you know where to look. Here are some tips for building your Twitter Marketing Strategy.

Oh, and if you do not have Twitter, pause now. 

Do you have a Twitter account?

Is is completed? Really?

Ok, you may continue. 

1. Brand Awareness 

It is no secret that Twitter is a powerful social media platform as it boasts 317 monthly active users each month as of January 2017. With those monthly users comes 500 million tweets sent every day.

With these many users at your disposal, why wouldn't you take advantage of the exposure? While you don't have to "tweet" every day to get the proper brand awareness involve yourself in your community and industry and let them know that you have a voice.

There are quite a few ways to spread your brand over Twitter and I am going to go over a few ways you can interact with people without being annoying.

Follow Industry Leaders

Go out of your way to make a list of relevant leaders in your industry. There are a couple of reasons for this. 

  • They are most likely posting awesome content that could be useful for your own business.
  • The content that they create could be a useful guide to reaching out to your audience.
  • You can create relationships with them. Like, share, and mention them on your Twitter and they could begin to recognize you and return the favor.

Overall, if these industry leaders are doing so well, then they must be doing something right. Take notes.

Follow your Target Audience

If you want to bring in leads from your target audience, it would be helpful that they follow your brand.

Many times if a person gets a notification that you followed them, they will follow you back. While having many followers is not a huge success measure, if you have many followers in the specific niche that you are targeting, then you have a good chance of converting them to sales.

Engage with People. Be "Interested" in Them

People love it when you love them. I mean the social status of having to check social media at every waking part of the day to see if perhaps one more person had "liked" or "shared" what you had to say is amazing! Possibly sad. 

Regardless, put your business out there and start engaging with both your target audience and others in your industry. 

The more you take interest in your audience, the more likely they will be to form a bond with your company and building that relationship is key to building your online presence. 

For engaging with other industry leaders, think about the potential reach you can have when they share your content? Start showing them your interest in the hopes that they take interest in your brand and content.

2. What are people saying about your business? What about your competitors?

There is a great tool offered by Twitter that can help with both of these options called Twitter Advanced Search. 

twitter advanced search

While this tool may seem a bit complicated at first, once you get the hang of it, it can be a valuable resource in implementing your Twitter strategy.

Your Brand

Want to know what people are saying about your company? Easy. 

In the words section, you can add multiple words (in no particular order) and it will show relevant tweets containing those keywords. 

For finding what is said about your brand, use the exact phrases box. When I type in Microsoft Office into the search, I get the result of every tweet that contains that phrase.

microsoft office tweet

This is super helpful in understand what people are saying about your company. Are people talking negatively about your brand? Then you would want to be there to address the issue.

Are people talking about your brand in a positive manner? Well then wouldn't you want to reinforce those awesome comments?

Recognize what people are saying about you and communicate with them on it. This can be monitored easily with a social media dashboard such as Hootsuite.

Competition

While you may be interested in what is said about your brand, you should also be staying up to date with what is said about your competitors. When in the Advanced Search tool for twitter, use the same methods to search with your competitors brand name. You can also use the 

3. Use Lists

Lists can be a great part of your Twitter marketing strategy. For my digital marketing services, I have multiple lists to keep me organized in potential customers, competition, and industry leaders.

I can't tell you any "right" or "wrong" way to create lists for your business. The point is to use them to build organization into your marketing strategy.

When I am able to separate accounts defined by who they are to my business, then I can easily refer to each list to see specific content pertaining to what I am looking for.

Are you interested in knowing what all of the experts are saying in your industry? How about any recent news for your industry? The lists allow you to stay up to date with any of these tasks and much more.

4. Incredible Content

Having awesome and unique content is a huge part of any strategy, whether it be for your Twitter account or for driving an audience to your website. Once you have your niche specified, write useful content to them. People want to see information that is specific to them and when the content is appealing, people are more likely to engage with it.

With that in mind, keep your content fresh. Think about it. If you were to create two articles a week for your website's blog, then you could use that on all social media platforms, including Twitter.

If you keep consistently writing articles, after the course of one or two years, you will be able to cycle through old articles on your twitter. This will allow you to post more original content without reusing content you already published. 

If you are interested in learning more on how to create awesome content, then check out Joe Pulizzi's book, EPIC MARKETING.

5. Use Images & Videos

It is no secret that posts with images are bound to receive more engagement than content without images. If you have something to say, consider if you can attach a relevant picture to it.

Make sure that the picture is appropriate for the message, though. It wouldn't make much sense to attach a picture to a tweet just for the fact to bring in more engagement if it doesn't make sense. 

twitter picture

Twitter also allows GIF videos to attach to a tweet. These are similar to short videos except that it is an image file format that animates when combining several images.

twitter gif

Another visual-rich method would be to attach videos to a tweet. While the social media platform does not allow you to directly integrate videos into tweets, you can use a third-party service such as Vine to add a short video. 

If you are looking to add a longer video to your tweet, simply add a video to YouTube and copy the link into your tweet to display the video. 

twitter video

Having a mix of videos and pictures allows you to share awesome visuals with excellent content. 

6. Using Twitter Cards

Twitter allows you to share content directly from your website to drive traffic with photos and videos of your choosing.

By adding lines of markup to each web page you would like to share, you can have the article show up in a "card" format, which is much more visually stunning and can drive more traffic to your website rather than a simple link. There is plenty of documentation of Twitter Cards on their website. 

Most website platforms include a plug-in that will allow you to add Twitter Cards to each page without having to manually add code to each page.

This is the most effect way to present content from your website and will drive more traffic, resulting in a higher lead-generation. 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 22:02

The 2nd Step in Simple SEO - Title Tags

Great title tags are crucial to high ranks in search engines.

Last week, we discussed the first step in implementing search engine optimization for your website.

http://animasmarketing.com/blog/item/10-the-1st-step-in-simple-seo-keywords

If you haven't had a chance to check out the first blog in this series, I would recommend checking it out!

Once you have built a comprehensive list of keyword phrases, it is now time to put those keywords into each title tag of your web pages.

Plugging Keywords into your Website Titles

Each one of your web pages will have a title tag located inside the head tag of your HTML code. This will be the title of the web page that shows up in search engines and at the top of a browser tab.

SERP

What is the best way to optimize my title tags?

There are some important tips to keep in mind when creating each title tag.

1.Place your important keywords in the title

Place the most relevant keywords to your business in the beginning of the title for the best optimization. Then consider using the next best keyword phrases to follow.

2. Keep the title short

Google search engine will not show more than the first 60 characters of a title. If you keep your title below this limit, then you can make sure that your whole title gets displayed correctly. Keep in mind when creating the title to use characters such as ":" or "|" to separate keyword phrases as many other characters are not supported in the title tag.

3. Don't Overdo it

If you stuff your title with the same keywords, Google can recognize this and dock you in the search engine results. Keep it relevant and pleasing to a user experience.

4. Don't Duplicate Titles

You want to make sure that each title of your web pages has a unique title to them. This will help with your click-through rates for each page and will spread your results out on the long-tail of keyword searches. Refrain from using titles such as "Home" or "About" since Google will see this as possibly having duplicate content on your website.

5. Make sure it looks nice!

Make sure that your title looks good to any potential visitors to your site. No matter how you optimize your title tags, if it is not relevant to a user, then they will not even click your link!

Remember that Google is built for showing the most relevant pages

Always keep in mind that a search engine such as Google strives to bring the best web pages for each search. If Google feels that your web page is too keyword heavy and not good enough content for a great user experience, then it will dock your site from the top of the search rankings. Next week, we will dive into the next step of simple SEO which will be discussing meta descriptions and content marketing. We will dive into plugging your keywords into awesome content to not only provide a great user experience, but to also rank higher in search engines.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 21:16

The 1st Step in Simple SEO - Keywords

Search Engine Optimization does not have to be rocket science...

 

With some simple steps and research, you can find yourself one step ahead of other businesses in your industry with a competitive edge on knowing your audience.

For example, say you owned a live music venue with having three music venues in town. Although there are many methods in finding the correct terms and phrases for your target audience, wouldn't you want to find the best way to market to your customers with a passion to music to drive them to your venue over others?

A simple term such as "live music in Austin" could resonate and be more applicable to your customers than the term "local venues in city limits". When you have the proper tools and knowledge to drive down to the root of your target market's searches, then you can find the best way to send the correct message to keep them interested in your business.

Keyword Research

There are many easy and fairly reliable keyword research tools on the internet to provide you with a great foundation of phrases.

If you are looking for a free option, you can use the keyword planner from Google.

https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner

Google Keywordplanner

Now Google wants you to sign up for a "paid" advertising campaign with them before using the Keyword Planner tool and will send you to that landing page. All you have to do to bypass this is to set-up an ad campaign without spending any money into it and putting it on pause.

Once you access the Keyword Planner tool, you will be able to target by location, language, and by search engine. You also have the option of adding negative keywords. If you add to the negative keywords, the search inquiry will eliminate any search with that keyword in it.

This tool is an excellent way to get started with great keyword ideas and the competition level behind them.

There are endless amounts of Keyword Planning Tools

I personally like to use the application provided by https://app.wordtracker.com/ which is a paid service. Which tools you decide can be determined with how in-depth you want to build your keyword research but do not in any way feel you are obligated to spend tons of money on a paid service. I find it quite convenient due to the work I do for clients with SEO on a daily basis with Animas Marketing digital services but that is not the case for most small businesses looking to work SEO themselves. 

WordTracker Results

Which tools you decide can be determined with how in-depth you want to build your keyword research but do not in any way feel you are obligated to spend tons of money on a paid service. I find it quite convenient due to the work I do for clients with SEO on a daily basis with Animas Marketing digital services but that is not the case for most small businesses looking to work SEO themselves. 

Once again, take note to not only how important and searched a topic is, but also the competition behind any search phrase used. Once you have a list of all relevant words and phrases you can think of, brainstorm any type of "helper keywords" to go along with them. These words could be related to the location, names, or any other keywords that can be tied to your business specifically. 

It is recommended that once you come up with the relevant keywords to your business, bring the list to your team to have them come up with any possible keywords. After brainstorming with your internal business team, take the list to outside representatives that are not affiliated with your business to get an outside perspective. 

With the list, jot it down on a spreadsheet with all of the important metrics that you see as value to your business. For example, when using the Wordtracker App, I record three of the metrics that they provide.

 

Volume

This is simply how many times the phrases has been searched within a certain population.

iAAT

In Anchor And Title is a metric that checks in how many web pages a specific search phrase is included in both a title and anchor text (link.)

Competition

The competition metric can be calculated in multiple ways but in the case that I use it, it is the difference in search volume and web pages that are optimized for that phrase

 Excel Keyword Research

With the correct metrics matched up with your business goals, you should in no time be able to come up with a lengthy and informative list of phrases that your potential customers might be using to find your business.

To learn more on the next "simple step" of SEO for the small business, stay tuned for the next blog post for On-Page Search Engine Optimization. If you have any questions or find this aspect of the business confusing, or just want to get weekly tips on subjects such as this for your small business, send us a message at Animas Marketing. We would be more than happy to answer any questions in your business SEO needs.

Are you having a difficult time bringing people to your venue for live music? It seems that there are so many great venues with awesome bands playing yet when it comes to bringing an audience, the room can be lacking. Having a large social media presence can help your business bring in the correct audience for each band that comes to your venue. Here are some helpful tips to bring your venue the audience it deserves. 

1. Make a Facebook event for each show

To start with the basics, have an event for people to get details on the show. Most people will not find the time to go to a website to see the details of each show so it is important to keep events up to date so people know which shows are coming up and what type of music it is. Keep the description short and informative but also exciting to keep a user interested in the show. The event page should provide a photo that represents the band and should list the appropriate times that the doors open and the band starts. This information should also include any specials and ticket prices with a link to their music for people to listen to. 

2. Invite, invite, invite!

Once you have an event created for a specific show, invite all of your friends in the local and surrounding areas to inform people right in their notifications. There is a specific Google Chrome app that allows you to quickly invite all relevant friends located below:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/invite-all-for-facebook/eopekjehpibhfpjjcokfmhcaeiclddih?hl=en

facebook invite all

3. Get others to invite their friends

Get a street team for your venue! A street team can go way beyond hanging up posters when it comes to social media. Give a free drink or discount to patrons that can invite all of their relevant friends or share an event. Think of how many more people could be aware of each event at the expense of some free drinks! With just a few select people to help promote the event, you not only gain a larger audience but gain loyal patrons that can consistently spread the word for you.

4. Make a Facebook post leading up to the event

Share the Facebook event on your business page with some hype to it! Remember, do not sell the show to your audience, but inform them of the great show that is coming up for them. 

5. Boost the Facebook event

Don't be shy when it comes to spending a little bit of cash on social media promotion. One boosted post for $5.00 can reach more than 500 people. That is only $1 to show your event to over 100 people who might not have known about the show. The power in Facebook promotion is in the specifics. You can target people based on gender, age, location, and their interests. 

Let's say you have a bluegrass band coming from out of town that not many people know about. With a small budget, you can boost to the exact target audience you want to reach with the show. You can drive down to picking specific interests of the targeted audience by choosing interests that are relevant to the show. For the bluegrass band, you could choose an interest in bluegrass music, or an interest in a popular local bluegrass band that many people know about in town. With this specific targeting, you can bring in people who would actually be very interested in the show rather than just sharing it with anybody. 

Facebook Targeting

6. Study the Analytics

There is an insights section of your business Facebook page that will show all of the posts you have created from your Facebook page. On this important page, you can see the reach and engagement of each post. You can compare any two posts and can see which methods work best for your business. This can be important to find out what your audience reacts to the best. This can be useful for the wording and pictures you use in your posts along with which types of bands your audience engages with the most. 

facebook insights

7. Give the band hosting privileges for the event

This will allow for the band members to also share the event and invite the people they believe could make it to that particular show. This will allow them to also make any changes or edits they see fit.

 

There are many methods in boosting your audience for any particular show but these 7 tips are a good starting place to help your venue succeed in making more money and build better relationships with each band.

If you are finding it difficult to find the time to build your social media presence, our team at Animas Marketing specializes in social media management for venues to help grow sales. Sign up for weekly tips for your business or drop us a message

Sign up for weekly tips for your business or drop us a message HERE. We would love to hear from you! 

 

 

Sunday, 25 December 2016 22:52

8 Tips for Selecting a Domain Name

The Long Process of Finding the "Perfect Domain Name"

We know that finding the perfect domain is no easy task for your business. We believe that the correct domain and brand is an essential step towards the creation of your website so we decided to put together a list of 8 "must do" tips in obtaining your domain name.

1. Brainstorm 5-10 relevant keywords


When you are searching for your new domain name, whether it is for a new product launch, business blog, or optimizing a subdomain link, it is important to come up with the best keywords or phrases that describes what you are offering. With a cup of coffee or your favorite cocktail, take the time to pick your top keywords from the list and add prefixes or suffixes to the words to create good domain ideas. For example, if you were creating a website for a local accountant in Durango, Colorado, you could start with words such as accountant, bookkeeper, finance, analysist, auditor, business banking, and money management. With these basic terms, you will be able to build upon them to create a creative domain name (or business name.)

2. Make the Domain Unique


Make sure to research all companies that could even closely resemble what you had in mind for a domain name to not get confused with a different business. It could be chaotic to be confused with another brand it would potentially lose you substantial leads.

3. Pick a Domain with a .com extension available


While this may be obvious to some, it is important to keep in mind how important it is to have the .com extension tied to your brand. In the fall of 2013, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) began to assign new domain extensions such as .photography, .media, .rocks, .shop, .space, and .today. These extensions (as of the end of 2016) have no significance to the search engine optimization of a website and could confuse users as the extensions are not well known. Even if your domain is geared towards a non-profit organization with the .org extensions, it is helpful for the average user to have a .com extension direct towards your main domain.

4. Keep it Simple to Type


If your brand and/or domain name is difficult to spell for the average user, then that could lose your business a considerable amount of sales before a customer can even get to your website! This will devalue your brand and marketing value extremely quickly. Consider keeping the domain memorable with easy-to-type letters.

5. Keep it Easy to Remember


Keep in mind that no matter how much of your efforts go into digital marketing, word-of-mouth is going to be an important component of most businesses. Therefore, it is essential to have a domain or brand name that is easy to remember. How would a customer tell their friend where to go for your services or products if they cannot remember where to go?

6. Keep the Name Relatively Short


Keeping a short domain goes together with keeping it easy to remember. A shorter domain also has other important benefits such as allowing your URLs to show more information on search engines and allow your information to be presented in a more professional manner on your offline advertising material such as business cards.

7. Keep Your Brand Unique


With a memorable brand, you can build upon your customer generation and engagement. A name such as Instagram is much more memorable and unique as opposed to another photo sharing company such as photosharingcenter.com, which is target for optimized keywords without the creative branding.

8. Meet Customer Expectations


If a customer hears your brand or domain, are they able to guess what your business represents? People should be able to understand what type of products or services you offer right when they hear your domain. While there are many businesses such as Amazon.com that do not follow this expectation, they devoted large amounts of resources to build their brand to be known in their industry.

Friday, 16 December 2016 01:00

The 9 Building Blocks for any Business Model

The 9 Building Blocks for any Business Model are as follows:

 

1. Customer Segments

2. Value Propositions

3. Channels

4. Customer Relationships

5. Revenue Streams

6. Key Resources

7. Key Activities

8. Key Partnerships

9. Cost Structure

I am going to discuss each section of the business model to help you create more value to not only your business, but to your customers. 

1. Customer Segments

The first building block of a business model is customer segments. This defines the different groups of people or organizations that a business plans to reach.

Without profitable customers, how can any business succeed?

When looking at customer segments, it is important to group people into multiple segments to better satisfy their needs. The groups could be small or large depending on their common needs, behaviors, location, or attributes.

With these groups, you can better understand how to communicate properly with them and find out what works best for any demographic.

Once you have a clear idea of who you are providing a service for, you can make the steps towards creating value for them.

2. Value Propositions

The second building block is based on how your company bundles products and services to meet each customer segment’s needs.

A Value Proposition creates a unique value for customers through a mix of elements that could be qualitative or quantitative. This could include price, speed, design, or customer experience.

What value do we deliver to the customer?

What makes a person choose AT&T over Verizon Wireless or Sprint? Perhaps they decide to choose Virgin Mobile. Now, think about how each company offers value to their customer segments. Verizon might offer value to customers that are looking for the best cell service at an affordable price. They could also offer a great bundled deal with DISH network for a user that doesn’t want to pay for two different bills.

How about the customer that lives in the city with great coverage and is looking for the best price? That could be exactly what Virgin Mobile offers with a low cost and no contract involved.

It is due to the value proposition that a person might want to choose one service over another.

Don’t just try to offer what everyone else is with lower prices, think outside the box. It is often due to innovation and disruption that new businesses succeed.

Think about how you can fill the gaps of customer needs and problems that other companies in your industry are not fulfilling.

3. Channels

The channels building block, is how your company will communicate with each customer segment, delivering them your value proposition.

These channels can include social media, websites, newspaper advertisements, and word of mouth to name a few.

Evaluate how you communicate which each customer segment and how you can either improve or change that communication. Also, consider which methods of communication are the most cost-efficient.

It is this sort of brainstorming that will improve how you reach each customer and build a relationship with them.

To help with your brainstorm session, here are 5 channel phases to build upon:

1. Awareness

How do we raise company awareness and build upon our brand?

2. Evaluation

How do we reach customers to have them evaluate our value proposition?

3. Purchase

Through which channels can we direct customers to purchase our products and services?

4. Delivery

How do we deliver the value proposition to the customers?

5. After Sales

How do we provide customer support after a purchase?


This may seem like a standard set of phases for you.

Well, that is the point!

These phases are in place to help building your thinking outwards towards all the possibilities to best serve your customer segments.

4. Customer Relations

I truly believe that this part of the business model is the most important. If you build personalization into your brand and company, then the sky is the limit!

Although this service can be personal or automated, it is crucial to understand which method will best serve your customer’s needs.

There are three driving motives to building relationships with your customers.

  • New Lead Generation
  • Customer Retention
  • Upselling

With these motives, rank which goals are more important to your company than the others. From there, decide which issues you might come across with these goals and how to best communicate to your customer segments in each goal.

5. Revenue Streams

This building block measures the earnings a company generates from each customer segment. When targeting each customer segment, think about what each group is willing to pay. When you realize that different groups of customers are willing to pay at different levels, you can come up with different revenue streams to apply to each of these groups.

A business model includes only two types of revenue streams:

  • Transaction Revenues – This results from customers who make one payment for a product or service.
  • Recurring Revenues – These on-going payments can include a prolonged value proposition or a post-purchase customer service.

When deciding which type of revenue stream fits well in the communication with a customer segment, ask yourself:

How are they currently paying?

How would they prefer to pay?

Does a certain method of revenue contribute to overall earnings?

6. Key Resources

What are the key resources that can set your business apart from the rest?

What resources are key to offering your value proposition?

Key Resources are the important assets that are available to you and are required to make your business plan a success. These resources allow you to create your unique value proposition, maintain important relationships with you customers, reach new markets, and create revenue.

These resources can range from physical, financial, intellectual, or human assets.

7. Key Activities

The key activities building block describes the important process that a business must take part of for a business model to work.

Much like key resources, these activities are required to maintain customer relationships, reach new markets, create value propositions, and earn revenues.

Key activities can be grouped into three categories:

1. Production

These key activities is the focus of manufacturing firms and relates to the designing, creating, and delivering of products.

2. Problem Solving

These activities include knowledge management and training. Problem solving is key to coming up with new solutions to customer problems.

3. Platform/Network

His category includes platform management, service positioning, and platform promotion. This is built around a company that relies on networks, software, and brands that can function as a platform.

8. Key Partnerships

The building block of key partnerships revolves around the network you build. This can include suppliers, partners, or even other businesses in your industry to create an alliance with.

There are 4 main categories of partnerships:

1. Strategic Alliances with Non-competitors

2. Strategic Partnerships with Competitors

3. Joint Ventures to create new Businesses

4. Buyer-Supplier Relationships

With these 4 categories of partnerships, we find 3 main motives:

1. Optimization and Economies of Scale

This motive is based on reducing costs and can involve outsourcing or a sharing infrastructure. This optimizes the allocation of resources and activities so your company doesn’t rely on owning all the resources or performing every activity on its own.

2. Reduction of Risk and Uncertainty

This motive is brought on by competitors joining in strategic alliances in one area while remaining competitive in other areas.

3. Acquisition of Resources and Activities

It is rare for any business to have access to all the necessary resources and activities to create the most value to their customers. It is important to realize which assets are more cost-effective to outsource and to rely on other businesses to bring resources that you could not come up with on your own.

9. Cost Structure

The cost structure building block describes all costs involved in operating a business model.

When your business defines how to create value, maintain customer relationships, and generate income, it will see costs incurred on each of these levels.

The cost structure of a business can be placed into one of two categories:

1. Cost-driven

This cost structure focuses on minimizing costs wherever possible. This process can include high automation, extensive outsourcing, low price Value Propositions, and the leanest possible cost structure.

2. Value-driven

With the value-driven cost structure, a business focuses on how the create the best value for each customer segment. This can include a highly-personalized service and exclusive services.


That concludes the 9 Building Blocks that go into a Business Model!

These building blocks are put together to create a handy tool for your business known as the Business Model Canvas.

This model is meant to be a hands-on tool for your whole business team to add and take away items when needed.

To print out a poster sized canvas, please visit www.businessmodelgeneration.com

I will leave you with three last instructions to help build your business model:

1. Print it out on a poster!

2. Place the poster on the wall!

3. Sketch out your business model!

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 03:56

Building a Brand Awareness Strategy

There are three goals in social media marketing for business:

1. Brand Awareness

2. Generating New Sales

3. Customer Retention

 

Today, I want to dig deeper into the first goal of social media marketing: Brand Awareness.

Brand Awareness is basically the start of the lead generation process. Customers must know of your brand before they can buy your products and services whether you are running brand awareness campaigns or not. There are two types of brand awareness when it comes down to social media: campaigns and reputation management.

Brand awareness campaigns are geared towards having people remember your brand. Think about a catchy jingle that gets stuck in your head and now every time car insurance is brought up, you can’t help but sing, “Nationwide is on your side…” This is how Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company created a “memorable” experience for people to remember their brand.

This is not to say that a fancy jingle is the best and only way to create this experience. There are campaigns that are also geared towards sparking emotions or campaigns geared towards having the customer actively participate in their brand.

One fine example is Frito Lay’s Chips and their $1 million-dollar giveaway for the best user-submitted flavor of chips. This was a nation-wide campaign that was easily spread not just from the company, but through everyday people. This campaign was labeled, “Do-Us-A-Flavor” and ended up with the winning flavor of Biscuits & Gravy in 2015.

You do not have to waste money in forcing a message to your audience when you could have customers share the message for you.

The next type of brand awareness is reputation management.

Dealing with reputation is about monitoring what is being said about your brand and being able to gear the conversation towards a positive reputation for your company. Not only do you have to build positive reinforcement for your brand, but you must also prepare for crisis and negative publicity.

The most difficult part about dealing with this negative publicity is that it usually comes unexpectedly and can hurt your business even before you have the chance to respond to it. This can be avoided by preparing for a crisis and knowing how to deal with it quickly and efficiently. 

Reputation management is also about being careful what you say to your customers. If you have to raise the prices of your products, it is not a wise idea to explain that to eh people and how it is going to benefit your company. People do not care about how the price change will help you, they care about how it will benefit them. It is important to keep careful consideration into these messages since the wrong communication can seriously damage your brand.

Remember, communications now happen in real-time with social media and that a misplaced message can spread like wildfire.

No longer can businesses stay quiet about a situation and wait for it to blow over. It is imperative to be proactive about any issues with your business otherwise, people will feel disrespected by not having their issues resolved. When one customer is upset about an unresolved issue, they can communicate that over social media to hundreds or thousands of people in the matter of minutes.

Honest and tone have never been as important to reputation management as they are today.


Developing a Social Media Strategy for Brand Awareness

Your first course of action when developing a strategy for brand awareness is to understand your audience. You need to understand what they care about, why they use social media, and how they engage in conversation in regards to your business.

It is important that you group you audience not only into target demographics, but into niche groups. Obviously, you can target certain age groups and geographic locations when you sponsor content on social media, but did you know that you could target niche groups?

You can target people based on just about anything these days including marital status, parenting, or even what type of music they listen to! This can be extremely useful when grouping your audience into specific groups. Then, you can send out specific content to best serve each type of consumer.

You cannot do your job unless you know what is being said about you.

Once you understand your audience, the next step would be to create a list of keywords that are applicable to your business. These keywords could be in regards to your brand, competition, and the industry. There are tools that can help you achieve these keywords and allow you to see what people are saying about the industry such as: HootSuite, Sysomon, and Google Alerts.

Once you have your keywords and phrases into place, listen to the conversations and see what people are saying about your brand, competitors, and industry.

Are people saying good things about your brand? Negative things? Are they saying nothing at all?

If good things are being said about your brand, reinforce those feelings and engage in conversation.

If negative things are being said, address those concerns and complaints and work to turn your reviews around.

If nothing is being said about your brand, give them a reason to talk about it!

The same analysis can be done with competitors and the industry, giving good insight on the questions and concerns being addressed in your field.

When listening to what people are saying about your industry, you have the power to create applicable content to match their needs, questions, and concerns.

Be as narrow as possible when it comes to your social media goals. If you goal is to drive sales from social media to your website, then break this goal into sub-goals to gain a clear view of each strategy that can go into the process. There is no one strategy that can achieve the best results.

From here, find what social media platforms work best for your audience and goals and begin with one or two of these platforms to begin with.

Last, but not least, what would you like your strategy to accomplish? Now that you have the who and the where, it is time to figure out what.

How can your brand awareness campaign “convert” an average user to a sale? This is what the top management team is going to want to see to prove success in social media.

What type of conversion is the most valuable for your business? These types of conversions are mainly seen in website visits and email subscriptions because it directly shows the result of exposure to engagement which can ultimately result in lead generation.

Now it is time to define your strategy. This should be a simple and broad approach to build from.

Example 1:

Musician/ Band

Generate album awareness with young adults (18-35) who are also interested in bands such as Yonder Mountain String Band or Del McCoury Band.

This can be achieved with selective niche audience when advertising on a platform such as Facebook or Instagram.

Example 2:

Create product awareness with businesses with less than 10 employees in the Boulder, Colorado area.

Once you are creating social media campaign ideas, you can check if they fit into your overall strategy to see if it is a goal that will be of value for your business.

How Will You Do It?

Now that your strategy is in place, it is time to go crazy on ideas. Once you have numerous amounts of ideas on paper, cross out any ideas that do not align with your immediate strategy. There are also some key, but simple questions to ask when implementing your ideas.

Do we have the resources to make this idea work?

Do we have the capabilities to make this idea work?

Will there be any road blocks along the way?

How likely will the audience respond to this idea vs. others?

Once you have your list, pick the top 2 of 3 ideas to begin working on and save the rest for later if you decide to create them later.


Developing a Social Media Strategy for Reputation Management

While reputation management strategy differs quite a bit from a brand awareness strategy, the beginning stages are very similar.

Listening to your Audience

Just like with brand awareness, it is important to see what people are saying about your brand, competitors, and the industry. You can use the audience perceptions to have a basic understanding if you need to focus more on correcting misperceptions or reinforcing your positive image.

Types of Reputation Management to Prepare For:

Negative Press Coverage

It is imperative to have a plan to react to negative press coverage. The planning should include who will respond and how they will respond to it. Remember, even with negative articles, it is important to give a personalized response rather than making it seem like an automated reply that took no effort.

Customer Complaints

This is by far the most dreaded component of reputation management. Tone is of the utmost important when replying to customer complaints and needs to have personalization to the conversation. Plan for this by having someone that has skills in customer service and will know how to continue a conversation rather than just a simple reply to a complaint.

Positive Press or Customer Messages

Let’s not forget to praise the people wo give praise to us! While many businesses craft up common responses to praise such as, “Thank you for your kind words!” it is a great idea to have many different responses to these good reviews. Remember, personalization is key to customer satisfaction. 

Monday, 05 December 2016 00:48

The Reality of Social Media Brand Awareness

No one really cares about your brand. There I said it. Once you accept this fact, you can begin building the correct communication with your audience. 

This is what sets social media and traditional media outlets apart. Think about how long advertising took hold of television. People would be watching their favorite program when suddenly, it would get interrupted by an advertising that was "in your face." You had no choice but to watch the advertisement until your program returned. Well, I guess you could have used that time to use the restroom or grab a bag of cheetos.

The point is that people reject the annoying, pushy messages that pop-up on the internet and on their television sets. Advertising is now about providing something interesting, useful, or even funny, to gain more engagement from them. As much as you want to show people how "cool" your brand it, they will never think of it as highly as you do. 

People do not really want to engage with your brand; they want to engage with people

It is imperative to keep this fact in the back of your head when you are coming up with communication strategies. This goes to show that social media marketing is about connecting with people. You have to humanize your brand and connect with them on their level. With this mindset, you will gain a deep relationship with your customers, which is what will boost your brand awareness and reputation. 

You Do NOT Control Your Brand

Yet another "Yikes" moment. As mentioned before, social media marketing involves personalization and it is this humanizing factor that makes people listen. This means that you can no longer control the messages on your brand. The people control it. People have a perception of what you do and what they like or dislike and spread that information to other people that actually listen. With social media, these messages can be spread quicker than ever with tremendous reach. 

Imagine you work for TripleTree Hotels and one of your employees has a bad day (terrible break-up) and gives a customer a snotty attitude at the front counter for asking too many questions. This customer then walks away angirly thinking about how they never want to stay at TripleTree again while they spend one minute giving a one-star review on Yelp about the terrible service. Shortly after, the person posts publicy on Facebook:

"I Will NEVER stay at a TripleTree Hotel again!!! Worst Service EVER!"

Sally, one of the customers' best best friends, shares the post commenting that she cannot believe how TripleTree still cannot get their act together after the awful service she received the last time she stayed at their hotel. 

Now you have hundreds to thousands of people who are instantly exposed to this terrible message for your brand. You could dump hundreds to thousands of dollars on expensive, flashy, marketing campaigns but in the end, are people going to listen like they listened to other people talking about your brand from whom they trust? 

Advertising and marketing is an evolving field and it is important to keep up with how people react to businesses. This is a time where you are able to spend less time pushing your brand and more time influencing brand perceptions and correcting misperceptions. 

Sunday, 04 December 2016 00:39

Sales Funnel & Communications

Social media is a way for customers to communicate with your business in order to lead them to sales. If the communication is not on point, then customers will not make it to the final stage of the sales funnel. If your social media facilitation is not gaining a deep relationship with your customers, then you need to decide how to change the communication in order to lead them to the sale. Here are a few pointers to evaluate your communications through each stage of the sales funnel.

1. Record Existing Communications

With each stage of the sales funnel (exposure, influence, engagement, action, and customer retention), write out all of your current communications with your social media contacts. This includes any form of communication such as phone calls, emails, direct mail, webinars, etc. Recording each communication outlet wll allow you to evaluate if each form is relationship-building or if a type of communication is hurting the engagement with a customer. 

2. Identify Communication Outlets That Don't Work

At this point, you need to decide if there are communications that hurt the engagement when brought to a social media contact. Are you sending out the wrong information to people who are not interested in your products or services yet? Are there communications that are pushing customers away by being over the top? If there are any of these communications that make you cringe, then you need to step up and adjust your strategy to solve the problem. While you do not have to get rid of any of these communications entirely, any communication can be altered to best serve the customer. This could also mean creating new communication pieces. 

3. Determine Metrics on Where People Fall Out of the Funnel

Now that you understand how your contacts recieve information from you on each level of the sales funnel, it is time to determine how to evaluate whether or not a communication outlet if helping or hurting a relationship with a customer. For example, you can evalute the metrics of newsletters by the # of unsubscribers, # of opens, and # of clicks. 

If your social media customers stop opening up the emails, stop clicking on links, or are unsubscribing at an unusually high rate, then you will need to adjust your communication. 

With phone calls from the sales department, if the calls are not generating leads and follow-up opportunities, then the calls may not be helping to building upon your relationship with the consumer. If this is the case, then is it possible that the calls are happening too early in the buying process when consumers are not ready to commit to the sale. Remember that social media contacts are people who may not be actively search to buy a product or service from your brand, but show interest in your company to result in a sale later on down the line. 

If you can recognize where the gaps are in your communication with your social media contacts, then you are one step ahead of many other businesses in communicating with your customers online. 

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