2019-10-02-why-local-business-needs-google-mybusiness

Why Local Business Needs Google MyBusiness

Holiday shopping season is about to begin, and if you are a local business you are likely starting to think about how you’ll reach your market. Online advertising might be the obvious choice, along with an organic social media strategy. However, there is also one powerful little online gem that not a lot of local businesses are utilizing. It not only increases the chance your business will be found online, but could also generate more foot traffic for your store. That online powerhouse is Google MyBusiness. 

This free tool has been available to businesses for quite a few years, but it is often underrated in terms of its power. Since it is a Google tool, by using it to its full potential you will leverage Google’s search algorithm and increase your chances (along with the rest of your online strategy) of generating increased online and offline traffic. 

What Is Google MyBusiness? 

Google MyBusiness (GMB) is a free online tool that allows you to control how your business appears on Google Maps and search results. Through this tool, you can claim your business’ location and name*, giving you control over what your potential customers see, and how they contact you, when they search for your business. 

Your full profile will display on the right-hand side of the Google search results page, displaying valuable information about your business. There are many benefits to setting up a full profile, listed below. 

*You will need to verify your location once you claim your business and location. Google does this by mailing you a postcard with a special code you’ll need to enter into your GMB profile. This ensures that only the true owner of the business can claim it, rather than anyone from the public. 

Businesses ‘Near Me’ Searches 

One of the great benefits of having a complete GMB profile is that your business is more likely to show up in Google searches when visitors use the ‘near me’ search functionality. As an example, if you are a clothing store and your potential customers search “ladies wear” and use the ‘near me’ functionality, your business will pop up as an option.  

Hours of Operation 

Empower your customers to maximize their shopping time by enabling your store hours through your profile. When they Google your business, they’ll immediately be shown a list of your shop’s hours and whether you are currently open or closed. 

Appointment Booking 

Set up a designated appointment booking link which can be shown on your GMB profile. When customers search for your business, they can book an appointment directly from their Google search result. Providing them the ultimate convenience in booking appointments can increase the number of appointments you receive. 

Answer FAQs Right Away 

Many businesses will experience their customers asking some common questions, and your GMB profile is a great way to address those immediately. When potential customers search your business, these questions and answers will appear within your GMB profile that is displayed on Google’s search results page. This provides your potential clients with the information they may be looking for in an effortless manner. 

See How They’re Finding You 

Within the administrative dashboard of your GMB profile under Insights, you can see the search queries visitors used to land on your profile. This information is valuable to you as a business owner to see what matters to your clients, if your profile is set up to attract the right kind of customers, and to give you basic information on how you might optimize your social media and your website to attract more followers. 

Send to Your Phone 

If a visitor has landed on your GMB profile and is interested in visiting your business, or checking you out again later, a quick and easy “Send to Your Phone” button can be pushed and the visitor receives a text message with your profile link. They can then easily revisit your listing at their convenience, and receive instant directions to your business through Google Maps. 

Manage Your Reviews 

Your business from time to time may receive Google Reviews. GMB allows you to manage these reviews directly from your dashboard in a quick and easy manner. 

Assists with Voice Searches 

More and more smartphone users are now activating searches via their voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Home. As a result, your GMB profile gives you a leg up in search results. In order to show up in voice searches, you must have a GMB profile and it must be complete. 

How to Set Up Your Google MyBusiness Profile 

Simply visit google.com/business to get started. Follow the prompts to fill in your business information, and then select your verification method. You can still fill in the remainder of your profile while awaiting verification. 

Be sure to fill in as much of the information section as possible. Use photos of your business that are enticing and clearly display what your business offers. Be sure to include all of your business’ locations if you have more than one. 

Need help setting up? We’d love to help, just shoot us an email. 

2019-09-27-3-engaging-social-media-post-ideas

3 Engaging Social Media Post Ideas

Coming up with enough social media content to keep your profile active and engaging can be a very daunting and exhausting task. As a business, you are a Jack/Jill of all trades, acting as business owner, sales person, accountant, marketer, superhero—I mean, in addition to all that how is it possible to find time to come up with social media post ideas? 

It’s not impossible. I have a few ideas outlined below to help you create handfuls of engaging social media posts at once so you can schedule out a good chunk of your calendar all at the same time, and in advance. 

Post Idea #1 : Ask your followers a question. 

This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know your audience on a deeper level. You can ask them a simple question completely unrelated to your business, such as “Since it’s the first day of summer, we’re dying for some ice cream. What flavour is your favourite?” Bonus: Tag your favourite local ice cream shop to share the love. You never know what sort of cross promotion you might receive. 

You can also ask them a question related to your business to learn more about their buying habits. An example of this could be, “What is your biggest hurdle to buying X (one of your business’ products or services)” These questions are great conversation starters, and it’s important to take a little time to respond to the comments your audience leaves. Give them advice on how to get over that barrier, or simply acknowledging their concern can go a long way to relating to your audience. 

Bonus Tip: People naturally want to voice their opinion and be heard, so asking questions on social is a great way to stir up engagement. This engagement, in turn, helps you immensely with your social media algorithm, which is the all-important thing that feeds your content to your followers. The stronger your profile’s engagement, the more relevant you are to the algorithm, and the better your results will be. 

Post Idea #2: Answer a frequently asked question. 

Whether you’ve been in business for a long time or are relatively new, you likely already know what sorts of questions your customers frequently ask about your product or service. Posting an answer publicly not only shows your audience you care about their needs, but you’re also creating value for your followers. 

Let’s say you’re an event planner. One of the FAQs you could answer would be “If my event is outdoors, what sort of backup plan do we need in case of bad weather?” By offering a few handy tips, you’re offering your existing or potential clients solid advice on how to ensure their event is successful, and you’re also showing that you are the expert in what you do. 

As another example, you could bust a myth about your business or industry. Is there something that the public assumes about your business or industry about which you could clarify or educate? Present it in a fun way by offering “the myth” and “the truth” in two separate posts. 

Post Idea #3: Curated content. 

Coming up with your own fresh content is the hardest part about keeping your social media active. There’s nothing wrong with filling in the blanks by sharing someone else’s content and offering an opinion or a reiteration of the topic. 

Are there other social profiles you follow that relate to your industry, or inspire you? Share one of their posts, blogs, videos, or other such content to your profile, and explain why you are sharing this information. Be sure proper credit is given; sharing the original post is always best. 

As an example, if you are a Psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders, you could share a related TED Talk or YouTube video that you found supports your style of therapy. Or, if you’re an Orthodontist you could share a blog post you’ve read about the changing methods in your industry (such as 3D printing of retainers) and add your opinion on the topic. 

Conclusion

These are just three post ideas that are easy to implement and don’t take a lot of time or thought, yet they are likely to generate quality engagement between you and your followers. Your social media is only successful to your business if your followers feel you are building a relationship with them, and to do that requires providing value and conversation around your business and the things that interest them.  

Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts should be engagement-based, no selling at all; 20% of your posts can be directly related to presenting your product or service for purchase. 

 

Looking for more ideas? Download my FREE 90-Day Social Media Planner, containing 90 days of social media post ideas:

2019-09-12-website-coding-blog

‘WordPress Is Crap!’ And Here Is Why I Use It.

There has been a long-running, heated debate among website creators about whether WordPress is a crappy choice for websites. There are distinctly two sides to this argument: those that use WordPress (or any other Content Management System) and those that build custom websites.
 
The arguments are—from the custom side—that anyone who uses WordPress to create a site is a basement dweller who wants to charge thousands of dollars for a site that takes a few hours to build. I’m sad to say there are actually freelancers out there that do this, but just as in any business there will always be the bad apples that spoil it for the rest of us.
 

Custom website builders have a few reasons to hate WordPress:

They have to work harder to sell clients on custom websites.

A custom site costs significantly more to build so they have to work to justify those costs. I should point out I don’t disagree that they should charge for the value of the work involved; we all should. However, it depends on the client’s needs and budget as to whether a custom site is viable for their business.

They will argue that WP is hackable and your website will crash and burn and your hair will start on fire.

While this is true that WP is hackable, so is every other site despite what custom builders may claim. Nothing on the Internet is 100% safe, just ask NASA, Equifax, or Capital One. It all banks on whether you are working with an experienced professional who has the skills and knowledge to choose the right server to host your site, and that the plugins you use in your site are trustworthy and built by other experienced professionals. And most importantly, work with a website designer that understands how to keep your website as safe and secure as humanly possible.

I could go on; they have dozens of arguments. All of which can be addressed by someone who is as invested in WP as they are in their own programming language.

Here is why I use it for my clients’ websites:

I don’t believe in locking my clients into a tool that will constantly cost them money moving forward.

WP is easy to use, and anyone in a business can be trained to use it. This means you don’t need to hire a website designer to make every little change to your site. Need to change your hours? You can do that yourself. 

You won’t be locked into having only one company that can work on your website.

Because WP is the most-used Content Management System on the Internet, there are millions of developers that can work with this system. If you are unhappy with my work*, you can easily hire another company to handle your website.

*I fully believe in the relationships I build with my clients. The last thing I want to do is trap you into working with me because your website can’t be transfered to anyone else.

I would rather spend my time helping you grow your business over custom coding every website.

I am not interested in spending day after day coding custom websites for my clients. Your website is only one tool in a collection of other tools your business needs to succeed. I have other services I provide that help your website—and your business—succeed.

I started my business as a website developer, so I understand the code.

One of the biggest complaints custom website developers have is that freelancers building sites on WordPress are just “copy-and-pasters”. They don’t know how to actually build a website, and therefore cannot understand how to ensure your site is optimized for load speeds, Search Engine Optimization, etc.

I am a coder at heart. I’ve coded websites from scratch since 1995 so I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve used WordPress since its inception in 2003, and I’ve seen its endless iterations and evolution. I understand this product and how it benefits many businesses that don’t have $40,000 for a custom website.

Using WP, you can have a website crafted for your business within a budget you can afford.

This one is the most important piece for me. I, too, am a small business, and although I fully comprehend the benefits of a custom website, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. So rather than operating my business without a website, or worse using Facebook as my website, I choose to use a robust tool such as WordPress.

I relate to most of my clientele in this aspect, and that’s why I have built so many websites over the years using this platform.

2019-07-09-what-to-do-about-bad-reviews

What to do about Bad Reviews

Bad reviews can unfortunately be a sad reality of doing business today. Consumer expectations have become elevated due to social media and the immediate ability to share and collect information about customer experiences. Although you do a tremendous job of caring for your customers, sometimes a customer will feel their experience wasn’t what they expected. Inevitably, they will take their experience public.

Companies have a bad habit of blaming the customer in most instances, which only makes the situation worse. Consider that many consumers today take to searching online reviews about a company before they even decide to interact with you, and you’ll quickly realize the importance of managing your reputation online.

4 Important Reasons to Manage Your Online Reviews

  • As mentioned above, consumers are searching online reviews before engaging with a company. They’ll judge you by others’ experiences before giving you a chance.
  • Online reviews typically show up when users Google search your company. You want to ensure they properly represent your business.
  • You cannot delete online reviews–you have no choice but to handle them in some way. If you ignore them, you are stoking the potential fire.
  • Likely the most important reason of all: if you respond properly to a negative review, you will not only show that existing customer you care about their experience, but you will show the viewing public how you handle the situation if/when something does go wrong. This builds trust, and trust is imperative to your business’ success.

How to Respond to a Bad Review

  • Start by ensuring you are in a calm state when you type your response. You’ll need to keep all emotion out of it and only state facts.
  • Acknowledge their frustration. Most of the time customers just need to be heard. Don’t judge or shame them for their opinions.
  • Apologize where needed. Being sorry isn’t necessarily an admission of guilt; you can be sorry they didn’t enjoy their experience. That being said, if you are partially or fully to blame, you absolutely need to accept responsibility.
  • Never post personal information online, including details of their experience, unless it is imperative to correcting the issue. As an example, if a customer is upset that your business didn’t complete a task they expected, you can explain your process without using details of their personal situation.
  • Always attempt to diffuse the situation and take it offline. Don’t argue with the customer in your response. Simply offer to discuss further and include your phone number and/or email address. If the customer continues to post or edit their initial review, do not take it any further.
  • If possible or applicable, offer to make it right. Doing this in public is valuable to potential customers to show that you are ultimately interested in ensuring your customers have a good experience. (If you’re worried customers will see this and try to expect the same, it doesn’t actually happen that often.)

Example of a Proper Response

This response is crafted to be relatively neutral. If your situation permits including some details about the situation, by all means go ahead as long as it doesn’t include personal information or potentially offensive information.

Hello, [name]. Thank you for taking the time to post your feedback. I am sorry that your experience wasn’t as you expected. We would like to work with you to correct the issue and improve our process if needed.

I’d like to discuss this matter further with you. If you’re comfortable, please reach out to us at [phone number] or [email address]. We’d love to make this right.

When crafting your response, do your best to be as authentic as possible, catering each response to the review that was left for your business. If you go with a canned response, other potential customers will see this and quickly judge your company as inauthentic and uncaring.

Need help with your online reviews? Give us a shout, we’re happy to help.

2019-07-03-what-is-a-facebook-pixel

What Is a Facebook Pixel and Why Do I Need One?

A Facebook Pixel is a small snippet of code installed on a website, with the purpose to match website visitors with Facebook users. This allows businesses to utilize Facebook advertising to laser target specific audiences to promote its product or service.

So How Does This Work?

With the Facebook pixel installed on your website, you are able to rely on more than just basic demographic audiences for your Facebook advertising. The pixel allows you to build custom audiences that have visited a specific page on a site, added a product to an online cart, or took a specific action you want to track.

Why Would I Want to Do This?

Let’s say you are a dentist looking for new leads. You try out Facebook advertising and send an ad out to a basic demographic audience such as women in your city between the ages of 18-35. This is a pretty broad audience, and you have no idea if the people seeing your ad are in the market for a new dentist. However, you get some clicks to your website but no one contacts you.

Now let’s say you have a Facebook pixel, and you build an audience of people who have visited your website already. They already know who you are, which is a great start. They maybe just hadn’t seen any urgency yet to take action to book a consultation.

You now publish a Facebook ad that targets this new custom audience, and your ad contains a special offer for new patients–let’s say a free teeth whitening with a booked consultation. This ad contains a lead form to inquire about the special offer.

BOOM! You have given the right audience the right offer, and you are far more likely to obtain new leads this way.

Warming Up Leads Even Further

The above example is a simple retargeting tactic that addresses a warm audience, but it won’t appeal to everyone. Facebook advertising is robust, and offers a large variety of ad types, targeting options, and methods of communication.

Using a Facebook Pixel, you have the power to create a variety of custom audiences, essentially taking users on a journey to learn more about your business. This allows you to also get to know your audience better and learn what offers work for them and which ones don’t. Imagine being able to know your clients that well before they even buy from you.

Facebook offers a variety of ad types, as seen in the diagram below (taken from Facebook Ads Manager):

2019-07-03-facebook-advertising-types

In each type of ad, audiences are targeted in a different way. In all cases, Facebook’s powerful algorithm determines which users should be delivered the ad based on the objective you select. For example, in Brand Awareness, Facebook will match your ad to the users that are most likely to be interested in your business based on their past activity.

If you choose Reach, your ad will be fed to as many people as possible to maximize your reach.

Cost Effective Marketing Strategy

Facebook advertising is still very affordable, and is a very cost efficient manner to reach your audience. For businesses just starting out, setting aside a monthly Facebook ad budget is a valuable marketing investment and offers great ROI along with a sales strategy.

Video Ad Case Study

As an example, some of you may know I am a painter as well as a marketer. I recently ran a video ad using a $1 a day ad spend for my custom commissioned art. I targeted a specific audience of interior designers and new home builders (for show home art). 

My results over a one-month period are shown below:

2019-07-03-facebook-advertising-video-results

With a total amount spent of nearly $37 (for the whole month) I earned nearly 800 views. Since this was an awareness ad, I didn’t expect any direct sales from this ad.

My next step is to build a custom audience of all the people who have watched this video. I will then deliver an ad to that audience that could A) contain a special offer to solicit direct sales, or B) if I feel I want to warm up this audience even more before asking for a sale, I will offer a free eBook download on how to choose art for your home. If I choose B, I expect to obtain fresh leads from the download.

From these leads I generate, I can now build yet another custom audience on both Facebook as well as an email drip campaign to obtain sales inquiries.

Conclusion

As you can see, the idea is to warm people to your business, ultimately building a relationship in which they will invest in your product or service, and/or refer your business to others. This manner of advertising is both cost effective and a great addition to any existing marketing strategy your business may have in place.

Questions?

I’m happy to answer any questions about Facebook advertising at no charge. Give me a shout today!