You’ve done it. You’ve created a business website. Maybe you even have a Facebook page.
If you build it, they will come, right?
If only it were that easy.
How do you establish an effective online presence?
We’ve been chasing after the answer for years, and we’d like to share our secrets to success with you.
Between 80-90% of customers look at online reviews before buying, and that number will only grow in the coming years.
Customers increasingly choose to buy based on what they see about a business online. An inconsistent or unmaintained online presence results in you losing business, your competitors gaining traction and Google demoting you in its rankings.
Maintaining an effective digital presence, however, can sometimes seem like a losing battle.
After all, if you try to rank for a search phrase like “cell phones,” you have to spend an incredible amount of time and money that really needs to be spent on running and developing your business. And if you’re a local, small or medium-sized business, how do you grab the attention of only customers near you without trying to compete on the national level?
If you search for articles on digital strategy, you could spend hours reading and still come away without any actionable steps for your business. After all, you can’t do it all!
Many small businesses give up cultivating a digital presence altogether because the amount of work seems so overwhelming.
Other small businesses are frustrated by their lack of results because they have only been working with one piece of the digital puzzle and not putting it all together.
Source: Mr. King’s English
Think of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: he had two of the Rings of Power, but he was missing the One Ring to Rule Them All. Without all three components working together, he could not produce the results he sought.
While we’re sure you’re not after Middle Earth domination, you are definitely interested in dominating your industry at the local level.
So let’s talk about what we like to call the “trifecta” of digital growth for small and medium-sized businesses—the 3 essential elements for expanding your business online and developing a powerful digital presence in a quick and cost-effective way.
The Trifecta of Digital Growth
In Remember the Titans, the football team cries out that they are “Mobile! Agile! Hostile!”
That’s you, if you implement the Trifecta of Agile Website + Geo-Targeted Content + Facebook Display Ads.
- Your agile website design adjusts to your audience’s device, whether desktop, smartphone or tablet.
- Your geo-targeted, laser-missile content tailors what your audience sees to their specific location so that you truly meet your customers where they are. You have a mobile digital presence that goes with them.
- Your Facebook display ads generate awareness among people who are a key market for your services, making you a hostile threat to your local competitors.
Sometimes cultivating a digital presence for a small- or medium-sized business can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all if you make sure to do the most important things.
1. Agile Website
A 1-second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.
An agile website is the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy, without which the other two aspects of the Trifecta won’t be as likely to convert. Most mobile users will only wait a few seconds for your page to load before abandoning your website.
You must have a website that automatically responds to whatever device site visitors may be using.
Your website should be designed with the user in mind. Pull up your company’s website on a smartphone right now. How fast does it load? You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to “score” your site and get some (often pretty technical) recommendations for speeding up your loading time.
Keep in mind that many customers on mobile devices probably aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, so if you are experiencing slow loading times right now, they are probably having an even slower experience when visiting your site.
60% of people today are conducting online searches from their mobile devices. Does your website invite them in?
If you don’t have a smartphone handy, use Google’s mobile-friendly test to view your website through your smartphone-using customer’s eyes.
Look at how the design conforms to the frame. Does the text look awkward? Do you have to zoom way in or way out? Can you still read the page, or does everything look jumbled? These issues will not only cause mobile customers to leave your website out of frustration; they will actually cause Google to rank your site lower in search results.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
What can you see on your mobile device? Is the call to action clearly visible? If your customer can’t “Learn more” or “Buy now” or whatever you want the website to prompt them to do, your website is not agile and not optimized for mobile conversion.
Some websites conceal their call to action with colors that blend in with the rest of the color scheme, or they hide the call to action “below the fold,” which means users have to scroll down to see it. You want to make it as easy as possible for prospects to become paying customers.
Your website should mimic a good salesperson in how it offers helpful information and guides people through the conversion journey.
Below is an example of a website we did for one of our clients. Both the desktop and the mobile version feature a clear description of the business, as well as images that help tell the customer who this company is and what they do.
In both instances, the call to action (the orange button) is clearly visible without the customer needing to scroll down. The customer is invited to “tell” the company about his or her project.
In summary, make sure your website adjusts automatically to every platform, whether desktop, tablet or smartphone. Check how your website looks on a mobile device, and optimize your website for easy conversion. Then you’ll have an agile website!
2. Geo-Targeted Content
Geo-Targeting saves you money by eliminating spending on clicks from people who are unlikely to convert into customers. It generates revenue by getting your content in front of the right people.
Why just throw your information out there on the internet hoping that out of millions of users your target audience will magically stumble across it?
Geo-targeting delivers specific content to a website user based on his or her location.
Geo-Targeting in Organic Search
Many tools fall into the category of “geo-targeting.”
One of our specialties is local SEO (search engine optimization). We help local and regional businesses get discovered through organic search by people who have strong potential to become customers. Many smaller businesses not only can’t compete on the national level but don’t want to! You only want to target the people in your specific city or region.
Source: Becky Dobyns
Let’s say you’ve got a hot air balloon ride business located in Fort Worth, Texas. A visitor in Dallas performs a Google search for “hot air balloon rides near me.” A good website will have phrases like “hot air balloon rides in the Dallas area” already on the page, so search engines will direct the visitor to your webpage or others that have that keyword.
This brings us to one of our major strategies in organic geo-targeting: city pages.
Geo-Targeting through City Pages
City pages display content that is relevant to each area you’d like to target.
What happens if you’re a regional business? Maybe you don’t want to squeeze information about each location you serve onto your main page, but you want your customers in both Dallas and Arlington to know you’re there for them and have a location in each of their cities. Or perhaps you only have one physical location but also serve all its surrounding areas.
We have worked with businesses such as pawn shops and banks that have this type of regional, multi-location business model. City pages are a great solution to this issue.
When one of your potential customers performs a Google search for a specific location, such as “prequalify for a loan in Midland, Texas,” they probably will not land on your main page because it’s about the entire state of Texas.
However, if you have separate “city pages” linking back to your main page with localized content for each city you serve, your potential customer might pull up the “city page” targeted to his or her specific city.
You have to know how to employ this strategy correctly, however. Some businesses in the past began creating what Google calls “doorway pages” with the exact same content on each one, and Google began penalizing them. Google hates duplicates.
That said, a city page with unique, localized content that is truly useful for your customer is a great way to let your target audience know you are local and able to serve their needs.
Returning to your Fort Worth hot air balloon ride company, we would have areas on the website already optimized to capture Dallas traffic, as well as traffic in the surrounding area.
Your Dallas city page could feature photos and testimonials of satisfied hot air balloon riders in Dallas. You could offer coupons that are exclusively available for Dallas residents or advertise a special hot air balloon historical tour of Dallas.
There are many fun possibilities with geo-targeted city pages! The whole idea is to make your product or service as relevant and helpful as possible to the people in that specific city or area.
So now you have optimized your website content to appear in your prospective hot air balloon rider’s search results! In addition to your Dallas city page, you have probably created other city pages geared toward Arlington, Grapevine, etc., so potential customers arrive at your website through free organic search. Hooray!
But wait! What if something comes up, they get distracted and end the browsing session?
Geo-Targeting in Display Ads
All is not lost! Because you have a comprehensive geo-targeting strategy, you can then remind the customer of their search through other web pages they view by using the following Geo-Targeting tactics:
Remarketing allows you to display ads to people who have already visited your website, like that potential hot air balloon rider in Dallas who just got distracted.
You can even remind people of the exact items they viewed and the merchandise they left in their shopping cart. You can optimize these Google Display ads for mobile devices or even remarket to these potential customers on YouTube with targeted videos. Creepy, right?
While remarketing targets potential customers who have already found you through organic search or social media, targeting helps you locate new customers who are searching for your product.
Source: Search Engine Land
Let’s say you’ve set up a Google AdWords account for your website. There are certain words you bid on when people search for them. Every time they click, you pay for that click.
What happens when someone in Jamaica clicks your link that is advertising your subway sandwich shop in New York City? (Don’t ask me how they pulled up your ad – this is just a “what if” scenario).
You guessed it – you still get charged. And unless they are planning on hopping on a plane to New York anytime soon, that person is not actually a potential customer. Therefore, a good geo-targeting plan sets up your Google AdWords in such a way that your ads only appear to your target audience and do not appear to those who are not in your target audience.
You may be wondering: If I set up these perfect city pages optimized for organic search, why do I also need to pay for traffic when I can just get it for free? Won’t the customers just be able to find me? In fact, you need both organic and paid strategy.
Here’s the thing:
Organic search is a long-term strategy. Paid search is a short-term strategy.
What if you have a brand new hot air balloon website, but your competitor’s website is 10 years old? If their website is half decent, even though you may have just created the best city page in the world, you will not be able to immediately outrank them.
So your Google AdWords strategy can include remarketing to that potential Dallas hot air balloon rider who found you organically and then got distracted, but it can also include capturing brand new customers, like the person who just searched “hot air balloon rides in Grapevine.” If hot air balloon competition is fierce in the DFW area, your ad can appear at the top when your organic listing might not.
To sum it up, a complete geo-targeting strategy uses organic geo-targeting, including city pages if you are a regional or multi-site company. You also have to include a good paid search strategy that both remarkets to previous visitors and attempts to capture new visitors through search engines. Your brand finds your customers wherever they may be.
3. Facebook Display Ads
In fact, Facebook ads have the potential to drive more leads to your business than any other paid channel. We’ve seen great success for our clients using this type of advertising. So how do you effectively use this powerful tool?
At Qualbe, we have a lot of experience with locally-targeted Facebook ads. It’s one of our strongest areas of expertise. These ads offer the following benefits:
Want to know the reason Facebook is so important for small to medium-sized business, local startups and even more established businesses that are only beginning to cultivate a digital presence? Facebook drives traffic.
Whereas Google can only capture traffic that is already searching for you, Facebook actually lets people know you exist who may not yet be aware of your brand.
How does it accomplish this?
Just like Google Ads, on Facebook you can set your ad to only display to people near you with the “Reach” feature.
Without local targeting, you will likely be wasting your money. Local targeting will do wonders for your business!
For example, if you’re a snow cone shop in Fort Worth near Texas Christian University, you can ramp up your Facebook ads in July and August to display to college students and see significantly more traffic. Students may not be searching for a snow cone stand in Fort Worth, but when they’re sweating and they see your Facebook ad, they’ll be much more likely to come to your shop!
Think about it: Facebook already knows where everyone lives, as well as what college they attended, where they work and who all their friends are. It can find your audience as well as introduce you to all their friends and family. Again, a little creepy but beneficial to businesses trying to target potential customers. If you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan, think of Facebook as Barney and your business as Ted:
Source: Endless Events
Also, Facebook has a feature called a Relevance Score, which means that the more relevant your ad is to your target audience, the less money it will actually cost to display it. That’s right – not only are you reaching the people you actually want to reach, you are also paying less for it!
Facebook ads with images receive over 2x more engagement than those without.
You have to have a compelling image or video for your Facebook ad to be effective.
This World Market ad is a great example of both visual appeal and remarketing. It shows beautiful, eye-catching furniture, but it also shows me an exact piece that I looked at earlier in the day.
Not sure what kind of image to choose? Unless it’s an obvious product, like the World Market furniture above, opt for people. People are naturally drawn to other people’s faces.
Our three key elements – Agile Design, Geo-Targeting and Facebook Display Ads – feed off one another. Over half of Facebook users only access the site from a mobile device, which further reinforces the fact that your website landing page needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
Optimize for Conversion
When creating any Facebook ad, ask yourself: What do I ultimately want the person to do?
Facebook allows you to optimize your ads for conversion. What this means is that you can track what people do after clicking on your ads to see who is actually buying your product or otherwise doing what you want them to do.
You can employ A/B testing with different ads and see which one has a higher conversion rate. For example, Save the Children was able to increase its conversion rate 4x by optimizing its Facebook ads for conversion as opposed to optimizing them for traffic. They tested, measured and monitored to achieve their results.
Facebook enabled Save the Children to display ads to only those people who shared common characteristics with existing donors. These are called Lookalike Audiences. Similarly, you can look at demographics of the customers who already buy your product or service and tell Facebook to only display your ads to your Lookalike Audiences.
In summary, Facebook ads that are locally targeted, visually appealing and optimized for conversion through monitoring and measuring are the third part of the digital growth trifecta. Facebook ads are the third Ring of Power that binds the other two together.
Your Next Steps
So what’s the bottom line?
We know it’s not easy growing a small, medium-sized or local business. After all, that’s where we started. Far too many people out there are used to only working with national brands and simply don’t understand the difference in scale of small businesses.
You’ll hear a lot of advice out there about “changes you MUST make on your website in 2018.”
You’ll receive countless emails from spammers around the world who find this and that wrong with your website and are just dying to fix it for you (for a hefty fee, of course).
And you’ll receive too-good-to-be-true messages from people who promise to get your website to the top of Google in a matter of days (and probably end up landing you in “Google Jail” as a result of using frowned-upon, black hat SEO practices).
We hope this Trifecta has helped cut through the clutter and given you doable, results-driven steps that will maximize your return on investment. In our years of experience working with businesses your size, these elements have consistently emerged as the most profitable steps for the least amount of money spent.
Need more information about anything discussed in this post? We’re happy to do an audit of your website and a consultation to help you figure out the next steps. Contact us at (682) 200-8512 or fill out our online form.