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Merry, merry! It’s budget season! The stores are already full of budgeting decorations—glittery percentage garlands, beribboned income statement wreaths, strings of festive EBITDA lights. Okay, okay, I’m describing a fantasy world. But your 2015 online marketing budget deserves the same attention from you as the holiday season gets from America’s retailers.
I was going to use a metaphor here about looking into Blue Corona’s crystal ball to see what the best strategies are for 2015, but then I realized how inappropriate that is—we use something way more accurate: real data and analytics. That’s how we know what online marketing strategies will work for our clients. Here are some of our top recommendations for the new year.
Five Smart Online Marketing Strategies for 2015
Optimize for Mobile
Believe it or get left behind: people are using their phones more often than their laptops to search—especially when they’re looking for local businesses. What does that mean for you? If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, it’s going to be a pain in the index finger to navigate on a smartphone screen. That’s why most newspapers, news sites, and retailers like Amazon and Gap have either a site that’s optimized for mobile or a custom mobile site—both of which make it a cinch to navigate on a phone. When faced with the choice of using a mobile site or a non-optimized site on their phone, most people are going to go for the site that’s easiest to use. That’s why mobile sites convert better on phones.
Track Your Calls
Do your customer service reps (CSRs) know how to close? How do you know if they do or not? You’d be surprised to learn what we hear on the calls we track for our clients. We’ve heard CSRs recommend competitors, say their company doesn’t serve an area when it actually does, fail to get the right caller information (which is critical to tracking leads), and make other mistakes that let leads and sales just slip away. Even if they aren’t making obvious errors, CSRs can often benefit from increased training on how to handle calls better to get more leads and conversions. When it comes right down to it, there’s little point in getting more visitors to your site if you can’t convert them when they call.
Push Long-Tail Keywords to Get Better Traffic
What tail? I know it sounds weird. But listen. Some business owners come to us with the hopes of ranking for terms like “plumber” or “kitchen remodeling.” Terms like these are known as short-tail keywords. It’s highly unlikely that your company will rank for them, no matter how strong your SEO strategy is. A smarter and more effective approach is to try to rank for mid- or long-tail keywords. A mid-tail term would be something like “Gaithersburg remodeling” or “Dupont Circle bike shop.” These are easier to rank for than short tails, but you can drive even better traffic to your site with long-tail terms, which get more specific. If you optimize your website pages to rank for long-tail keywords like “Silver Spring Toyota mechanic” or “Fairfax Corian countertop installation” you’ll be more successful in ranking for the exact services you offer in your area.
Flip Pigeon the Bird: Change the Way You Approach Local Search
You know those local search results that appear at the top (but below the ads) of Google’s results page? Like when you’re looking for pizza delivery in Peoria? Google decided to change how those results appear with their recent Pigeon update. Since that update, when someone types in “pizza delivery” without adding a geo-modifier (i.e. the city or neighborhood you want to find the service in), Google uses the searcher’s current location (if their phone or computer’s location settings are turned on) to find the closest results. This has shaken up a lot of businesses’ rankings. And while we have little control over how Google generates its search results, there are a few things we can do to show Pigeon who’s boss:
- Optimize your directory listings, like those on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google My Business, and others. Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) are consistent across all these sites. Pigeon seems to like it when businesses have complete, consistent directory listings.
- Follow these smart tips for getting in good with Pigeon. They include some of the same strategies listed here in this post.
Invest in Targeted PPC Strategies
Now, I’m on the Blue Corona SEO team, so I am ride-or-die for good old, organic-traffic-getting SEO. But adding pay-per-click advertising (PPC) to your 2015 online marketing strategy is a smart move. PPC is a good investment because it gets you more real estate on the search results page—which is a good thing to have for many reasons, including the Pigeon update we just discussed. And PPC can go deep into your specific services and service areas with highly-targeted keywords, geographic areas, time of the day, languages, and more. You can even target people who are searching on mobile vs. computer or vice versa.
Get a Customized 2015 Online Marketing Plan for Your Small Business
Embrace budget season! It’s an opportunity to ramp up your online marketing efforts with more precise strategies and fresh ideas. We’re confident about the strategies above—but every small business is different.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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