How to Turn Your Website Into a 24/7 Sales Machine!

How to Turn Your Website Into a 24/7 Sales Machine!

Having a great-looking website that represents your company is enough to keep your business healthy and growing – right?

If only it were that simple. The sad truth is that most local businesses aren’t doing everything they can to generate leads online. And, it all starts with their websites, which – let’s face it – aren’t getting the job done.

In fact, I’ll take it a step further. If you’re not opening your inbox to find new leads from your website every day, you might as well not have a website.

The good news is, you can change that. Your website might be basic or have all the bells and whistles. It might be years old or freshly designed. No matter what it looks like, you can make it better and turn it into a 24-hour marketing machine.

I’m not going to bore you with the same old advice you’ve heard a million times. You know that your site needs great content and a killer call to action. Instead, let’s dig into some of the next-level stuff you can do to kick your website’s lead-generating power into high gear.

Do a Complete Website Audit for SEO and User Experience

Audits. Nobody likes them, but they’re necessary if you want to fine-tune your website and get more leads than you are now.

A website audit should look at two things. The first thing is SEO. You want to make sure that:

  1. Each page on your site is optimized for a local keyword
  2. You’ve completed every tag and you’re using your keywords in them
  3. You’ve written a killer meta description for every page
  4. Your site is free of broken links and spammy links
  5. You’ve got a good system of internal links

The second element of your audit should focus on the user experience. You may even want to hire testers to pinpoint roadblocks on your site. If your pages take too long to load or your site is difficult to understand, user testing can help you get to the bottom of it. You can find a list of effective usability tools here, including some that will allow you to create heat maps of your site even mimic the eye movements of users.

Use Responsive Content 

For many local businesses, creating one-size-fits-all content is the goal. It’s certainly easier to do that than to work on unique content based on the user’s preferences and needs. But I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s also holding you back in terms of conversions.

You have two basic options when it comes to tailoring your content to a visitor’s interests:

  1. Create separate landing pages for each product or service you provide and then craft a marketing campaign around them; or
  2. Have visitors to your home page check boxes to identify their interests and then display responsive content tailored to their selections.

The first method is the old-school way of marketing. The second is something that’s become increasingly popular.

Here’s a simple example of responsive content. This martial arts school prompts visitors to choose a program on the home page. Once they do, they get a page of content where they can choose “pain points” to see the benefits of the program.

Once they finish choosing, the page would display information related to their choices, including benefits and frequently asked questions like this:

Writing this type of content doesn’t take any more time than it would take to write individual pages of content. It ensures that every visitor to your site feels that they matter. You can even offer lead magnets that are tailored to each product if you choose.

Live Updates and Chat

What happens when someone visits your website outside of your regular business hours? If the answer is that visitors are greeted with a static site that does nothing to acknowledge their presence, then it might be time for an update.

Interactive and live content can help you engage new visitors to your site and give the impression that you’re there to serve them even if you’re at home with your family. There are two simple changes you can make that will engage visitors at any time of day.

The first is by providing live updates. That means displaying a notification any time someone new fills out your contact form or buys your product. This is something we’ve been seeing on some sales pages as well as on website home pages.

To see an example, check out the website for Inspire Martial Arts in Burbank, CA. They display a notification that reads, “Jane from Burbank requested information about our classes.” If your site gets a decent amount of traffic, these notifications will capture visitors’ attention and create a sense of urgency.

The second option is live chat. You’ve probably noticed live chat windows popping up on some of the websites you visit. They often have a greeting, something like “Hi! How can we help you?”

The technology behind this type of live chat is actually less complicated (and less expensive) than you might think. It’s basically a chatbot that can be programmed with simple answers to your most commonly asked questions. If you’ve got an online store, your chatbot can even make product suggestions.

It might surprise you to learn that there are programs that will allow you to design your own chatbot. Of course, you can pay a programmer – and you may need to if you want your bot to engage in complex interactions. But if all you want is a simple bot to give the impression that you’re available at all times, you can check out this article for more information on DIY options.

FAQs and Self Service

If it’s been a long time since you updated your FAQs, then reviewing them and adding some updated information with internal links to your lead forms and sales pages can go a long way toward helping your website generate leads.

Not sure which questions to answer? Try checking your social media pages for ideas. Your followers probably ask questions and if several people ask the same question, it should be part of your FAQ.

A related issue is self-service options. The more information you provide on your site, the more likely it is that visitors will want to buy from you. Providing articles, links, infographics, and other information can help you keep visitors engaged and increase your conversions.


There’s no reason your website shouldn’t be generating leads around the clock. In addition to the usual advice about your content, images, design, and call to action, the four areas we’ve outlined here can help you engage visitors, get more leads, and ultimately, close more sales.

Why Maintaining Your Website is a Must

Why Maintaining Your Website is a Must

As a business owner, you’ve got to wear many hats in the course of a day. You might be a salesperson one minute and a human resources manager the next. It’s a lot to do.

And, when it comes to add items to your to-do list, you might do everything you can to minimize what you take on. Your time’s limited – and valuable – and there are only so many hours in a day.

Website maintenance is the perfect example. It might seem unnecessary – and you might wonder if it’s something you can ignore.

Hot tip: It’s not. In fact, website maintenance is essential to everything from SEO to user engagement – and those things both lead directly to your bottom line. Here’s why.

Google and Website Maintenance

Let’s start with something that’s a huge priority for most business owners: earning (and keeping) a high Google rank for your primary keywords.

Let’s start with something that’s a huge priority for most business owners: earning (and keeping) a high Google rank for your primary keywords.

As you know, Google doesn’t make its search algorithm public. However, we do no some things about it. For example, we know that:

  1. Google prioritizes fresh content
  2. Websites with a high bounce rate don’t rank as high as websites with a low bounce rate
  3. Google cares about security and will sometimes penalize sites that aren’t secure

Put these three things together and it’s pretty clear that failing to maintain your website can affect your search rank.

WordPress and Website Maintenance

If you used WordPress to build your site, then you need to do routine maintenance to ensure that your theme, security, and plugins are all up-to-date.

In fact, that’s true of any Content Management System (CMS) websites, including Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and others.

A failure to do regular (at least monthly) updates on your website can lead to a host of problems, including slow loading times, security breaches, and even a drop in your page rank with Google.

Most updates don’t take long and considering the negative impact they can have on your website, they’re worth doing regularly.

Website Maintenance and the User Experience

What does website maintenance have to do with the way users experience your website? The short answer is: quite a lot.

You’ve probably had the experience of clicking on a link from Google’s SERP and landing on a page that’s slow to load. You may have hit the back button to return to the list of search results and try another site. In other words, you bounced – and that means that, as a user, you had a negative experience with that site.

A user’s experience on your website can also be affected by these things:

  1. Stale or outdated content
  2. Broken internal or external links
  3. A confusing menu or a lack of intuitive navigation (such as having your logo be a hotlink back to your home page)
  4. Page not found (404) errors
  5. Spelling and grammar mistakes

If it’s been a long time since you’ve updated your web content or checked your links, this might be a good time to do an audit of your site, identify potential problems, and fix them.

Website Maintenance and Security 

We’ve already covered several reasons that website maintenance should be a priority, but there’s one more – and it’s hugely important.

The security of your website – that means everything from your data to your users’ privacy to your server – depends upon regular website maintenance.

Let’s use WordPress as an example. If you have a WordPress site, then you’re probably using multiple plugins, whether they’re free or premium, to give your site the features you want. Any plugin has the potential to give hackers access to your site if it’s not properly maintained.

It’s your responsibility to install any updates and patches as soon as they become available. You’ve also got to ensure that your code is up-to-date and that you’ve done things like update your site to HTTPS to protect and encrypt your data.

What You Can Do Right Now to Maintain Your Website 

You know why website maintenance should be a priority, but what can you do about it right now? Here are some quick suggestions.

  1. Log into your WordPress dashboard and check for updates to your WP theme and any plugins on your site. Install them immediately and then create a schedule to remind yourself to log in at least once a month to take care of updates.
  2. Do a quick audit of your site. Check for:

    a. Broken internal and external links
    b. Outdated or stale content
    c. Slow loading times
    d. Spelling and grammatical errors

  3. Fix any of the errors you identified in your audit. Internal links you can fix yourself. If an external link isn’t working, you should either remove it or find a link to replace it. If spelling and grammar aren’t your strong suit, hire a proofreader or editor to review your content for you.
  4. Update your content. Your basic content (like your homepage and About Us page) don’t need to be updated regularly, but it can’t hurt to make a few tweaks to get Google to crawl and re-index your page.
  5. Find a way to post fresh content at least once a month. Whether you add a blog to your site, write a press release, or add a news page that you can easily update, do something to ensure that you’re posting new content regularly.
  6. Backup your website to ensure you can recover your data in the event that something happens. Specifically, you should back up:

    a. Your website’s code, including Javascript, HTML, CSS, PHP code, themes, plugins, and other files. Plan a backup anytime you change or update your site, as well as any time your CMS releases an update.
    b.Your content, including audio files, images, text, and videos. Backup at least once a quarter – but, if you have a blog, you may want to create a new backup every time you post something new.

  7. Create a comprehensive web maintenance schedule to remind yourself of what you need to do and when you need to do it.

It might seem like a lot to do, but once you’ve done your initial maintenance, it should only take you a short amount of time to stay on top of things.

Maintaining Your Website is a Must…

Website maintenance might not be glamorous, but it can spell the difference between building a meaningful web presence and having your website fall off the map. Dedicating just a little time to it each month will ensure that users to your site have a great experience – and that your data is safe.

Protecting Your Website Against Hackers – What you need to know!

Protecting Your Website Against Hackers – What you need to know!

If you’re paying attention, you know that cybercrime is no joke. In 2015, cybercrime cost $3 trillion annually, and projections indicate that number will double by 2021.


The real question is, what are you doing to protect yourself? A lot of local business owners do the bare minimum and tell themselves it’s enough.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s not enough. If all you’re doing is updating your anti-virus software and filtering out spam, you’re still vulnerable.

Scared? You should be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to protect yourself. Cybersecurity experts are working constantly to stay ahead of hackers. Here are 8 ways you can protect your website and data.

#1: Keep All Software Updated

Have you ever received a notification that your software needed an update and delayed it because it wasn’t convenient? The answer is probably yes, and yet delaying updates for your website can leave you vulnerable to hackers.

One of the best ways to protect your site is to install all updates and patches as soon as they are available. Yes, it can be a pain to do it. But you need to weigh that against the inconvenience and cost of being hacked. Any software, application, or plug-in you use should be as up-to-date as possible at all times.

#2: Install an SSL Certificate on Your Site

As of 2018, Google Chrome is displaying a warning on any site that doesn’t use HTTPS protocol to protect its data. But that’s only part of the problem.

Having a secure site will build trust with your users. More importantly, it will make it far more difficult for a hacker to gain access to your data or to use it in the event they can break through your other defenses.

There are several types of SSL certificates. You can read about them here and decide which one is best suited to your needs.

#3: Require Strong Passwords

When you log into your site on WordPress, do you use a password that you also use for other sites? When was the last time you changed it? If the answers are yes and never, it’s time to create a new password, one that uses upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special symbols.

At the same time, look at your password requirements for your site’s other users. If you allow clients to sign in on a portal, you should require them to use strong passwords and update them regularly. This is a common-sense change you can make that can prevent hackers from accessing your site.

#4: Hide Your Admin and Login Folders in Plain Sight

Hackers sometimes take the easy way out and scan websites for folders with names like ‘admin’ or ‘login.’ They can focus their attention on those folders and, if they’re successful, gain access to your data through them.

There’s actually a very easy way to prevent this – or at least, to make it more difficult for hackers to find your folders. Instead of giving your folders obvious names, try giving them innocuous names that don’t reveal their importance. A determined hacker may still be able to find them, but at least you won’t have made it easy for them.

#5: Use Double Validation for Form Data

Do you collect data using forms that are embedded in your website? If you do, then the potential exists for a hacker to inject malicious code using the form. And, if your form is in a “one and done” format, you’re making it easier than it should be for them to do exactly that.

The solution is to use double validation for all of your form data. That way, you can accomplish two things:

  1. Help valid users by ensuring that the data they enter on their forms is properly formatted; and
  2. Prevent malicious actors from injecting harmful code onto your website

HTML 5 form validation is now supported by all browsers. You can read more about it here.

#6: Limit File Uploads

If your website has a customer portal where users can upload files, you’ve got to be careful to include extra security measures around the uploads. Why? Because an infected file could easily take your website down. A user might even upload a file they don’t know is infected.

There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself, but the best option is to quarantine uploaded files outside of your server, so they can be scanned before you allow them in. You should also use secure transport methods (like SFTP or SSH) when allowing files to be uploaded from the internet. Learn more here.

#7: Minimize Administrative Access to Your Site

How many people have the login information for your site? If you have given administrative authority to multiple employees, then you could be opening yourself up to attacks by giving hackers more potential entry points to your data.

Does that mean you should deny anyone access to your site? Not necessarily. But here’s what you should do:

  1. Delete any users who don’t need access to your site or who no longer work for you
  2. Require every user to use a strong password that they update regularly
  3. Talk to your administrators about security and the importance of protecting your data

A lot of big companies use what’s called a “least access” system, which limits employee access to only those systems that they need to use to do their jobs. That’s a method that can work for small companies as well.

Website Security Should Be Your Priority

A lot of small and medium-sized businesses think they won’t be targeted by hackers because they don’t store the same kind of data that big organizations do. Don’t make that mistake. Even a small data breach can do irreparable harm to your business, causing you to lose money. Even worse, it can damage the trust you’ve built with your clients.

The Foolproof Way to Get Around Facebook’s Page Algorithm

The Foolproof Way to Get Around Facebook’s Page Algorithm

In February of 2018, Facebook announced plans to prioritize personal content and de-prioritize content from pages. That means that if you’ve got a Facebook page for your local business, your content is only being seen by a very small percentage of your followers unless you pay to promote it.

Nothing to be done, right? It’s one of those things that you can’t control… or is it?

It turns out there’s a super-easy (and FREE) way to connect with both existing and potential customers on Facebook without paying to promote your content. It involves creating a Facebook group to promote your brand. Here’s what you need to know.

Group Content is Prioritized Ahead of Brand Content 

The first thing you need to know is that Facebook has downgraded content posted by company and brand pages. However, it still prioritizes content from groups.

Why? Well, the short answer is that people must voluntarily opt in to a group.

You might be thinking that users have voluntarily followed your page, too – and that’s true. But Facebook views groups differently than pages. It has to do with the purpose of a group:

A group’s purpose is to promote conversation and build a community.

You might want your page to do that, too, but Facebook assumes that the primary goal of a page is to sell a product or service. That’s an important distinction.

In other words, by creating a Facebook group, you can build your brand and engage with customers without worrying that members won’t see your content.

Not convinced? There’s actually research to support the idea that groups are a better way to reach your audience than pages. A study by Digiterati revealed that groups get approximately 50% more reach than pages.

Creating a Group is Easy

You can create a Facebook group from your personal Facebook page. In fact, the process is very similar to the one for creating a Facebook page like the one you have for your business.

Simply go to the upper, right-hand corner of your Facebook page and click the little down arrow there. You’ll see an option to Create Group. Click it and follow the steps.

It’s important to choose a memorable, brand-specific name for your group. You don’t want to give it the same name as your page, but you do want it to appear in the search results when people search for your business.

The title should be inspired by the content you’ll be posting. So, if you run a dog grooming business, you might offer dog care tips and incorporate that into your group name, like this:

Fancy Dog Groomer’s Dog Care Advice

In other words, combine your business with name with some compelling, buzzy words to make people want to join your group.

Invite People to Join 

You’ve created a group… but what’s next?

That’s easy. It’s time to invite some people to join. Here are some easy ways to jump-start your group and get new members:

  1. Send group invitations to everyone who follows your business page.
  2. Send invitations to your personal connections on Facebook.
  3. Send an email to your list with a link to your group and an invitation to join.
  4. If you have a Twitter account for your business, Tweet an invitation to your followers.

It’s likely that a significant percentage of your followers will join the group. Once they’ve done that, you can also post content in the group encouraging members to send out invitations.

Create Compelling Content

Once you’ve created your group and invited some members, it’s time to create content. Remember, the primary goal of group content is to drive engagement. You want members to be talking to you and to one another.

Facebook has a tool to create Welcome posts. Underneath Members on the toolbar, click Write Post. Facebook will automatically tag up to 100 new members (in this context, new means that they have joined in the past seven days) in the post. If you prefer, you can write a general welcome post and ask new members to introduce themselves in the comments.

Here are some other suggestions for engaging group content:

  1. Inspirational posts can be a good way to engage your members. For example, if you’re a life coach, you might post something inspirational on a Monday morning and then ask group members what they do to keep themselves motivated.
  2. Tips and advice can also make great content. You can share things that you’ve picked up while running your business and then ask members if they have anything to add – or if they’ve tried any of the things you’ve suggested.
  3. Community discussions can drive engagement and make your group page a lively place to be. You might post a question or conversational topic and then ask members to chime in with their answers or opinions.
  4. Q & A posts are great for getting people involved. Creating a post can be a simple as saying “I know people have questions about ______. Post them in the comments and I’ll answer them!” Only do a post like this on a day when you have the time to respond promptly.
  5. Depending on the kind of business you run, you may want to share success stories from members. For example, if you do local marketing, you could share a story from a member who killed it with a marketing campaign. And if you sell a product, you could share photos of members using what they bought.

The content you create will have a direct impact on the success of your group.

Social Learning Groups

Do you have the kind of business that lends itself to the creation of video courses? If you do, you might want to check out Facebook’s new Social Learning Groups feature, which enables groups to add video courses to their group pages.

To add courses, go to the Edit Group Settings tab and choose Group Type. Then, select Social Learning Group from the menu.

From there, you can create new Units for your courses. They can be optional or mandatory, and if they’re mandatory, users will see a progress bar to track their accomplishments.

The great thing about this feature is that you can upload courses or webinars you have already created or create new content. You can find a full guide on how to use this feature here.

Groups Are the New Pages

The bottom line is that Facebook Groups are to businesses today what Facebook Pages were five years ago. They offer an inexpensive but effective way to connect with current and prospective clients, build your brand, and grow your business.

Your Website Redesign Checklist for 2020

Your Website Redesign Checklist for 2020

Is your website in need of a facelift? Even if you’ve spruced it up in the past couple of years, it might be outdated. And, if that’s the case, your website’s lackluster design could be hurting your business.

The key to a successful web redesign is understanding what the latest trends and tools are. Here’s what you need to know.

Website Redesign Checklist 

Let’s start with an overview of what you should be looking at. Then, we’ll drill down into some of the specifics, including my recommendations for the best tools to use for your redesign. Here are the steps to follow for your redesign.

  1. Audit your existing site. It’s important to make an impartial accounting of your website as it is now to determine whether you need to invest in a redesign. Your review should include:
    a. A review of your Google Analytics to see which aspects of your site are still performing up to your expectations, and what things need improvement.
    b. A look at your website’s aesthetics to see if its appearance is negatively impacting the user experience.
    c. A look at the technical aspects of your website, including plug-ins, security, links, and so on.
  2. Decide what your goals are. Perhaps you want to increase conversions, attract more leads, or increase your profits by 10% this year. Whatever your goals are, it’s important to keep them in mind during your redesign.
  3. Think about design options. Are you rebranding at the same time you’ll be redesigning your site? If so, your new design should reflect your new logo, colors, and brand identity.
  4. Create a site map. Your site map is an overview of the site’s architecture. It should include a complete overview of your menus and navigation with an eye toward creating an optimal user experience.
  5. Employ design best practices. Why mess with what is proven to convert best? That means including plenty of white space, putting your call to action above the fold, implementing light boxes and other conversion boosters, and linking your logo back to your home page.
  6. Research keywords. Keep in mind that recent trends favor long-tail local keywords and voice search. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to rank for top keywords anyway, so you might as well laser-focus your SEO to get the best results.
  7. Research the market and your competitors. It’s always a good idea to review your competitors’ websites and see what you can learn. For example, you might see that most of your competitors blog twice a week and have online stores. That’s information you can use in your own redesign.
  8. Research the market and your competitors. It’s always a good idea to review your competitors’ websites and see what you can learn. For example, you might see that most of your competitors blog twice a week and have online stores. That’s information you can use in your own redesign.
  9. Create evergreen content. If you have outdated content on your site, your redesign is the best time to update it. Evergreen content is extremely useful because it remains fresh with the passage of time.
  10. Take advantage of the latest website tech. The internet has evolved since 2012… Your web redesign should employ the latest plug-ins and technology. For example, you may want to consider adding a chatbot for customer service or using a plug-in that allows visitors to your site to write reviews.

Using this quick checklist will ensure that your redesign covers all the bases.

Tools for Your Redesign

I always like to recommend tools and resources to business owners. After all, you’ve got enough on your plate!

Let’s start with web design platforms. Here are the three I’d recommend.

  1. WordPress. WordPress is the single most popular web design platform in the world for a reason. They’ve got thousands of templates, a huge library of plug-ins, and an interface that’s easy to use even if you don’t have web design experience.
  2. WebFlow. WebFlow is a low-cost web design interface that’s ideal for beginners. It has a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface that will create HTML or CSS code for you. You can try it out for free and even start designing your site to see if you like it.
  3. Adobe Dreamweaver CC. Adobe Dreamweaver is a well-established web design product. While it costs a bit more than some of the other products on the market, it allows you to create a truly custom website even if you don’t have design experience.
Once you’ve chosen a platform, the next step is to choose the other tools to make your website look and perform up to your standards. Here are some other tools I recommend.

  1. WotNot is a bot-design platform that’s easy to use and can help you add automation to your customer experience. The thought of designing a bot might be an intimidating one, but this tool makes it easy enough that anybody can do it.
  2. ThriveLeads is a list-building plug-in that makes it easy to add opt-in and subscription forms to any page on your site.
  3. Yoast SEO is a WordPress plug-in that takes the guesswork out of search engine optimization. You can use it to choose keywords, optimize images, and create the best titles and meta description to attract traffic to your content.
  4. WP-Rocket is another WordPress plug-in that I recommend. It gives your site an instant speed boost when you install it. Considering that many business websites lose traffic due to slow response times, this is a premium plug-in that’s a worthwhile investment.
  5. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP gives you the option of viewing your Google Analytics directly from WordPress, making it easy to keep your website up to-date by responding to the data you collect.
  6. Akismet is a plug-in that eliminates spam comments that can clog up your website and create problems for your visitors.
  7. WooCommerce is a must-have plug-in if you have (or plan to add) an eCommerce store to your website. It’s the most popular eCommerce plug-in in the world.
  8. SearchWP is a WordPress plug-in that addresses an issue that a lot of people have with WordPress: its lackluster search function. With this plug-in, you can make it easy for your customers to search your website and find what they need.

Once your site is redesigned, I recommend reviewing your Google Analytics regularly. That way, you’ll be able to spot potential problem areas and fix them before they have a negative impact on your business.

15 Great Ideas for Promoting Your Content to Drive Leads

15 Great Ideas for Promoting Your Content to Drive Leads

Did you know that content marketing earns an average of three times more leads than paid searches?  And more than 20 billion new blog posts were published on WordPress in 2019?  That’s a huge number and it’s one that illustrates the ongoing importance of content in marketing.

That said, your content isn’t going to do you any good if nobody sees it or interacts with it. Bummer, right?

The key to driving engagement and using your content to generate leads is knowing how to promote your content. Promotion is what will ensure that people see the great content you’re creating and understand how your company and products can help them.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best ideas I know to promote your content, find your target audience, and kick-start your lead gen.

Use Your Social Media Cover Photo to Promote Content

Do you have an offer you want to promote on an ongoing basis? One easy way to get more traffic is to incorporate your offer into your cover photo on Facebook. You can hotlink the photo to your landing page and change it periodically as needed.

Create a Hashtag to Promote Your Content

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all allow users to employ hashtags to categorize the content they post. Best of all, anybody who wants to can create a new hashtag and use it. The next time you have content to promote, try creating a custom hashtag to use with it. You’ll get the best results if you use common words at the start of your hashtag because more people will see it when they search.

Include Multiple Links to Your Offer on Your Website

A mistake I see a lot of businesses making is only promoting their content in one place. There’s no reason you can’t have multiple links to your most important content on multiple pages of your website. You can either incorporate them into your text or put them in a box beside other content.

Put a CTA for Your Offer on Your Home Page

Your home page is the first thing most people who search for your company online will see. For that reason, you should always have a call to action for your most important content on your home page – preferably above the fold.

Blog About a Piece of Content Multiple Times

When you’ve spent your valuable time creating a lead magnet, it makes sense to promote it as much as possible. One way to do it is to blog about related topics from various angles. End each related blog post with a call to action leading back to your content.

Create a Content Library on Your Website

If you’ve created multiple pieces of evergreen content, why not put a content library on your website? A content library makes it easy for visitors to your site to find your most valuable content. You can create a system where visitors must provide their email address to access the content. Then, you’ll have a list of leads you can turn into paying customers!

Create a Trigger-Based CTA

Static calls to action can be effective, but it’s even more effective to display a CTA based on behavior. A trigger CTA can pop up when a visitor has been on your page more than five minutes or when they’ve read more than 50% of your content – or when they’re about to leave your page without opting in!

Encourage Social Sharing 

One of the easiest ways to get your content in front of more people is to encourage visitors to share it on social media. Adding share buttons and embedded Tweets is easy – both can be done with a free plug-in – and your site’s visitors will do the rest.

Make a Sales Video 

Landing pages with video convert at a higher rate than pages without video. You don’t need to spend a lot to create a memorable sales video which you can post on your landing page. On a related note, you can also post excerpts on YouTube and social media with a link to your content landing page.

Create YouTube Pre-Roll Ads

You know the video ads that appear before most YouTube videos? You can create a simple ad and pay to have it appear before videos that are related to the keywords you choose.

Link Emails to Your Content

Do your emails have a signature at the bottom? If so, you can simply update yours to include a link to the content offer you want to promote. If you don’t have a signature, you can add one with any email provider you use and include the link in it.

Email Your Database

Another quick and easy way to let your existing subscribers know about your content is to email them with a link to your landing page. You can use the email to encourage them to download the offer and share it with their friends.

Boost a Facebook Post

You probably already know you can post your content offer on Facebook. Since Facebook’s algorithm can make it difficult for your followers to see it, you can use part of your marketing budget to boost the post and get it in front of a bigger audience. (Tip: Create a lookalike audience to reach people who might not otherwise see your content.)

Partner with Other Businesses

A lot of times, local businesses share customers in common. If you know other business owners in your area, why not partner up to share one another’s content? Just make sure to put the agreement in writing, so that all parties understand their responsibilities and commitments.

Get Industry Influencers to Link to Your Content

When you hear about influencer marketing, it almost always has to do with big celebrities. However, someone in your industry or niche with a decent social media following can do your business a lot of good by mentioning your content. Seek out influencers and work out a deal to have them promote your content to their followers.

The point? Promoting your content and generating leads doesn’t need to be difficult and it doesn’t need to cost you much money, either. The ideas here will help you jump-start your lead generation and grow your business this year.

Step Up Your Game (and Revenue) with these Proven Email Marketing Strategies

Step Up Your Game (and Revenue) with these Proven Email Marketing Strategies

Email marketing has been around forever, it seems, and yet it remains one of the most popular and effective marketing strategies for local businesses. Let’s face it, sometimes old school marketing techniques become old for a reason! If they didn’t work, they’d die young – so to speak.

I love email marketing. I think it’s a sure-fire way to attract new customers, nurture leads, and grow a business.

The key, of course, is doing email marketing right. Let’s talk about how to attract new subscribers – and keep their attention once they’re on your list.

Tips for Building a List

List-building gets a lot of attention and it can sometimes sound like a lot of work. When you’re already wearing multiple hats every day, it can be exhausting to think about adding another chore to your never-ending to-do list.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be difficult to build a list. Here are some quick and easy methods to try.

  1. If you have a store, train your cashiers to ask for email addresses during checkout. This is such an easy method that I’m always surprised when businesses don’t use it. Many customers will simply recite their email address without thinking. You already know they like your products, and you can always sweeten the pot by letting them know they’ll get early access to sales or special coupon codes if they subscribe.
  2. Post about your list on social media and include a link to your opt-in form. This is a great tip if your social media following is outstripping your subscribers. It takes only minutes to do and you can build your list very quickly this way.
  3. If you have email addresses that you’ve collected from your loyalty program or other sources, you should add those people to your list. Provided that you include an opt-out option at the bottom of the email, it shouldn’t be a problem.
  4. Partner with other local businesses and see if they’re willing to plug you to their email list to help you attract more customers – and vice versa!
  5. Put opt-in forms on every page of your website, including your home page. You may want to experiment with static opt-in forms on the margin of the page as well as pop-ups and light boxes to see what gets the biggest response.

These are all techniques you can implement in very little time – and they can help you to build your email list quickly.

The Best Email Marketing Strategies for Local Businesses

Now, let’s talk about some of my favorite email marketing strategies for local businesses. The techniques that work for big national companies may not be useful to you, and yet they get a lot of the attention. Here are six options that I know work.

  1. Create a local-centered newsletter. Your newsletter can go out weekly or monthly, but either way, it’s an opportunity to touch base with your list and provide them with useful information. I think the best newsletters cover topics that dovetail with both your business and your location. For example, you could include:
    a. Local how-to tips, such as how to prepare for an influx of tourists in the summer or what flowers are best suited to your climate.
    b. Guides that are tailored to your customers’ needs. A camping supply company, for example, might provide a camping guide that includes a supply checklist, safety guidelines, and recommendations of the best camping equipment by season.
    c. Local announcements and news – especially if you can find a way to link the news to your business or products. However, any local news is a good addition because it shows that you’re a member of the community.
  2. Set up a local content calendar. That means creating email campaigns around special holidays and events in your area. Of course, some holidays will be universal – think Christmas – but you can also post in conjunction with local festivals and seasonal events.
  3. Send special offers to your local customers. Everybody loves a bargain or an opportunity to save money. Your email list is the ideal way to show your local customers that you appreciate them by sending them coupons, discount codes, and inside information about your business and products. You can even create subscriber-only events to sweeten the deal.
  4. Tell your customers’ success stories! (also insert “success”) Reviews are important and shouldn’t be ignored, but they don’t often show readers the true journey that your customers go on when they buy your product or use your services. Creating a customer journey or testimonial to share with your list is a great way to turn a lead into a paying customer – because they’ll be able to see themselves in the success stories you share.
  5. Promote your loyalty or rewards program. If you don’t have a loyalty program, now’s the time to create one. If you do it right, it will incentivize your regular customers to shop even more often and entice customers who are on the fence to visit your business. You can even incentivize people on your list by offering a special reward if they convince their friends to sign up. (Side note: I also like it when businesses offer special gifts on customers’ birthdays. It’s a nice gesture that doesn’t cost much and makes customers feel appreciated.)
  6. Collect information about your subscribers. Let’s face it, market research can be expensive. But, it costs only pennies to send a poll to your list – and you can use the data you collect to fine-tune your marketing and attract even more subscribers.
These six ideas are proven to work, and they’re a great way to use your email list to grow your business. Keep in mind that when you send out emails, you should always:

  1. Include an offer or promotion in the body of the email
  2. Put a compelling call to action at the bottom of your email
  3. Add subtle references to your products and company, including mentions of other products
  4. Link to important content on your website, including blog posts and product pages

In email series, I like to add an enticing PS at the bottom to tease my next email and build anticipation.

The bottom line is that email marketing has one of the highest ROIs of any marketing technique, which is why I recommend it to all my clients. The local email marketing tips here will help you build a robust list, create content your subscribers will love, and grow your business.

6 Customer Success Metrics You Should Actually Pay Attention To

6 Customer Success Metrics You Should Actually Pay Attention To

How much value are your customers getting from your products or services?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, you might be putting your customer retention at risk. And, considering that it can cost up to 10 times as much to win a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, ignoring customer retention is – simply put – a bad idea.

Of course, the key question here is understanding how your product affects your customers. One of the best ways to do that is to track customer success metrics. Here are 6 you should be paying attention to.

#1: Qualitative Customer Feedback 

It would be impossible to know what your customers think of your company without asking them – so the first thing you should do is talk to your customers about their experiences with your business and products.

There are multiple ways to solicit qualitative customer feedback. The quickest and easiest method is to create a customer experience questionnaire and email it to your list. You can also post it on your social media pages. Use the responses to measure customer satisfaction.

An alternative and more labor-intensive option is to have your sales reps ask customers one-on-one about their experiences. For example, you could host a customer appreciation day, ask questions, and use the answers to measure your results.

#2: Customer Churn Rate 

Knowing how many customers you lose in any given period is another key measure you should track. The customer churn rate is a measure of how many customers “churn” or leave your company.

You can calculate your churn rate by counting your clients or customers at the beginning of a month. Then, count the number of customers who churn during that period and divide it by your starting number.

You should not include any new customers unless they churn in the same period they became customers. In other words, if a customer bought your product at the beginning of January, wasn’t satisfied, and vowed never to buy it again, you should count them in both your starting figure and your churn figure. However, new clients that stay on should not be counted until the next period.

#3: Monthly Recurring Revenue

Your monthly recurring revenue is a measure of how much money you are making from your existing customer base. It can be a good way to track customer success, particularly for companies whose clients buy products on an ongoing basis.

To calculate your monthly recurring revenue or MRR, start by calculating your average revenue per customers (Divide your total revenue from customers by the number of customers you have.) Then, simply multiply your total number of active customers by your average revenue per customer.

For this calculation, it’s important to differentiate between active customers and inactive customers. Recurring revenue is revenue you can count on. A client who orders only once a year may be counted, but for monthly recurring revenue, you should either divide their revenue by 12 if you want to include it every month, or add the total only to the month when they normally buy from you.

#4: Customer Health Score

The customer health score measures the specific and tangible ways in which buying your product is benefiting your customers. To calculate it, you’ll need to ask some questions. For example:

  1. How many customers or clients do they have?
  2. Is the customer hiring new employees?
  3. Are they taking on more business – additional orders or clients?
  4. Have their customer retention rates improved?

Once you have answers to these questions, you can create a scoring system. For example, you might score each question on a scale from one to 10 and add the scores together to get a total. Then, you should plan to follow up and recalculate on a regular basis.

#5: Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores are something that’s always worth tracking. While they might not be related directly to your customer’s success, they are an important measure of your product’s worth and usefulness to a customer.

For example, a low CSAT score is likely to indicate that your product or service is underperforming for your customers. It could mean that your Customer Service team isn’t performing as well as it should. A high CSAT score likely means that your customer is satisfied and will continue buying from you. It may also increase the chances that they’ll recommend your business to other customers.

Whatever the reason for the score, tracking it gives you an opportunity to intervene, provide the value your customers need, and increase the chances that they’ll stick with your company in the long haul. Improving customer satisfaction is linked directly to improvements in customer retention and our next metric, as well.

#6: Customer Lifetime Value 

The final metric you should track is a big one. Customer lifetime value, or CLV, is a measurement of how much an individual customer is worth to your company over time. It’s directly related to some of the other metrics we’ve discussed, including customer retention, CSAT scores, and customer health.

To calculate the CLV, you’ll need three pieces of data. They are:

  1. Your average purchase value (total purchase revenue divided by total number of purchases)
  2. Your average purchase frequency (for example, twice a month)
  3. Your average customer lifespan (for example, three years)

So, if you had an average purchase value of $100, an average purchase frequency of twice a month, and an average lifespan of three years, your CLV calculation would be:

$100 X 2 X 36, for a total lifetime value of $7.200.

Your CLV is a useful metric when you determine your marketing budget. It wouldn’t make sense to spend $1000 acquiring a new customer if your CLV is only $1,200. You’ll need to crunch the numbers to back into a customer acquisition and retention budget that makes sense.

While there are many factors that can influence your customers’ success, you should always have a handle on how your product is helping them. The 6 metrics here are ones that you can’t afford to ignore. After all, your success may depend on it.

How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads

How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads

What if I told you that you could be the James Bond of local marketing? Would you be interested?

I can’t promise you access to an Aston Martin and Bond’s cool gadgets, but I can tell you how to get a bead on your competitors’ Facebook ads. It’s one of the best ways I know to fine-tune your marketing and outpace your local competition.

The good news? It’s not hard to do! You don’t need a lot of money or a British accent. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Facebook Ad Library?

You’re probably aware that Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, have come under some intense scrutiny since the 2016 presidential election due to the use of the social media platform for “fake news” ads. One of the tools that Facebook has made available to address the criticism is the Facebook Ad Library.

On the surface, its intended use is to provide transparency in advertising. You can plug in the name of any Facebook page and see the ads they’ve placed – with a special emphasis on political and issue-based ads.

The search option defaults to issue, Electoral or Political ads, but there are two other options available:

  1. Housing (Facebook has also come under attack for allowing lenders to use ads in discriminatory ways)
  2. All Ads

That last option is the one that lets you peek at what your competitors are doing.

How to Use the Facebook Ad Library 

The key to using the Facebook Ad Library is understanding how it works and what to do with the information you find there.

The first step is to make a list of your competitors. Make sure to note the exact name they use on Facebook – you’ll need that information to view their ads.

Next, go to the Facebook Ad Library. Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the “All Ads” option.
  2. Type in the name of the competitor whose ads you want to see into the search box.
  3. Choose their page from the list that appears.
Once you click the name, you’ll see a page that displays the Facebook ads the page is running. You’ll be able to see:

  1. Whether the ad is active or not
  2. When your competitor began running the ad
  3. The ad content, including copy, images, and video
  4. The ad’s ID number
  5. The URL of the ad, so you can add it to your library for future reference

What I particularly like is that you can see every iteration of the ad that’s running. For example, you might notice that a competitor is running two similar ads with different images or slightly different copy.

The one thing you can’t do is spy on their targeting, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make inferences from what you find.

Tips for Using What You Find on Facebook Ad Library

How can you use what you find with Facebook Ad Library? Here are some tips and best practices to help you make the most of your espionage.

  1. Save any ads you think are useful. As I mentioned above, you can easily get the URL of any ad by clicking on the three dots on the upper right-hand corner of the ad. Click on “Copy Ad Link” to get the Ad Library URL for the link. I keep a spreadsheet to track the ads that I collect.
  2. Look at the images your competitors are using for hints about what their target audience wants. If you know a competitor is doing well and you notice they’re using illustrations or infographics in their ads, it might be a good idea to emulate what they’re doing and upgrade your images accordingly.
  3. Make notes about the types of content your competitors are promoting. Are they using images? Videos? Quizzes? It’s especially useful to note the content that gets used most frequently. If your competitors are paying any attention to the ROI on their Facebook ads, the repeated content is also likely their most profitable content.
  4. Pay attention to how your competitors link the images in their ads to the copy. Most effective FB ads use images that are directly related to the offer in the ad, but there are exceptions. Paying attention to trends among your competitors can help you do a better job of choosing compelling images for your own ads.

Think of the ads you see as a textbook showing you how to connect with your target audience and pull customers away from your competitors.

Dynamic Creative Ads

One of the best ways to capitalize on what you learn from spying on your competitors is to let Facebook do some of the work for you. If you’re not already using Dynamic Creative Ads, which is Facebook’s automated ad creator, then you’re probably missing out on a chance to connect with your audience.

Dynamic Creative Ads will help you create ad combinations you might not have considered on your own. You’ll need to make sure you have the types of content you want to use in your library, but you can do that easily enough after you spy on your competitors.

Basically, Dynamic Creative Ads will mix and match your options to allow you to reach your marketing goals. You can choose goals that include:

  1. Conversion
  2. Traffic
  3. Video Views
  4. Reach
  5. Brand Awareness
  6. App Installation

I think of the Facebook Ad Library and Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads as a one-two punch that will help you to get the best of your competitors even if they have a bigger advertising budget than you do. By using both, you can eliminate much of the guesswork and uncertainty that comes with Facebook advertising.

My suggestion is to dedicate some time early in the new year to scoping out what your competitors are doing with their Facebook advertising. Use what you learn to create the kind of content that’s going to help you divert traffic from them, increase your conversion rate, and grow your business.

Get Optimized for 2020 – Your Local SEO Resource

Get Optimized for 2020 – Your Local SEO Resource

I talk a lot about local SEO and if you’ve recently updated your site, you may roll your eyes at the appearance of another article about local SEO.

I get it. Believe me, I do. I don’t want to sound like a broken record.


The truth is that local SEO is changing all the time. It’s hard to keep up – and I’m a professional marketer! I know it can be hard for small business owners to stay abreast of changes and keep their sites optimized for local search.

To keep things simple, I’ve put together this local SEO resource for you to use to get the new year started right. I’ll focus on the quickest and easiest things you can do to ensure that your local SEO is up to scratch – and that the people in your target audience can find you.

Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

I’m not going to go into detail here about Google My Business because I’ve written about it extensively before. That said, please don’t ignore GMB in 2020! An optimized listing is your best friend when it comes to local SEO.

Make sure your listing is complete and up-to-date. Add pictures and your company logo if you haven’t already and do everything you can to encourage people to review your business on Google. It’ll help – I promise.

Standardize Your NAP Listings

NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) listings are another topic I’ve covered extensively, but they’ve become more important than ever before thanks to Google’s Hawk update in 2017. Having even one listing that’s not standardized can and will dilute your online presence – so don’t skip this step.

Google your company and make sure that your NAP listing is identical everywhere it appears. Remember that even minor differences (Ave instead of Avenue) can cause a problem. I know this is a painstaking, nitpicky job, but it’s important.

Specify Your Service Area 

You own a local business and that means you have a service area. Even if you can technically ship anywhere, it’s still important to let potential customers know where you are.

There are two quick and simple ways to specify your service area without overhauling your entire website. You can:

  1. Add a bulleted list of cities, districts, or neighborhoods you serve
  2. Embed a map on your site with pins in your service areas (or indicating your locations if you have more than one)

This easy step will ensure that potential customers who land on your site will be able to see at a glance whether you serve the area where they live.

Create Geo-Targeted Landing Pages

One of the changes included in Google Hawk is that Google made the target search areas smaller than they used to be to (at least in theory) prevent businesses from being elbowed out of search results.

What I suggest is creating separate landing pages for each of your service areas. Here are some tips:

  1. Remember that Google ranks pages and not domain names, so there’s no limit on the number of geo-targeted landing pages you can have.
  2. Choose highly targeted local keywords and focus on one main keyword per page.
  3. Do not duplicate content too closely or Google will flag your pages.
  4. Whenever possible, link geo-targeted social proof to each page by including relevant reviews and testimonials.

Most searches these days are happening on mobile devices. Having geo-targeted pages will help you to take advantage of voice search, including “Near Me” searches that are relevant to your business.

Optimize Your Citation Pages

Did you know that it’s common for consumers to spend only a few minutes on a business website before converting? That might sound unrealistic but it’s true – and it’s because they spend far more time on citation pages before buying anything.

Some of the best-known citation pages are review aggregation sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, but there are dozens of others – some of which are specific to certain industries.

To get a jump on optimizing your citation pages, check out this master list from Moz, which lists common citation pages by industry. Then, Google your business and make your way through each citation. Keep in mind that, in some cases, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to a premium account, so you can add images and make the most of your business listing.

Use Schema Markup on Your Website

Another local SEO factor that you may have overlooked until know is Schema markup. Schema tells Google how to display your pages when they come up in search – and it can make a big difference in how local customers feel about your page.

You should use Schema markup to provide potential customers with vital information about your business. Many small businesses don’t bother to include a ‘rich snippet” with their Schema markup. You can find more information about how to use Schema markup to boost your SEO here.

Focus on Reviews

There’s no denying that social proof is the name of the game when it comes to local marketing. The research shows that almost all consumers pay at least some attention to online reviews, with many giving them as much credence as a personal recommendation.

You should start with Google My Business because those are the reviews that people are most likely to see when they search for your business. After that, you should look at review aggregation sites such as:

  1. Yelp
  2. Angie’s List
  3. BBB (Better Business Bureau)
  4. Facebook
  5. Industry-specific sites

I suggest sending an email request to your subscribers asking them to leave reviews on Google. Link directly to your review page to make it easy for them to comply with your request.

Then, make it a company policy to ask customers for reviews. You can decide what makes sense. For service providers, the best bet is probably to reach out to clients when a job has been completed. For retail, you may want to have your cashiers remind customers to leave reviews when they check out.

For extra credibility, consider linking directly to your review pages from your website. That kind of transparency is something customers value and it will help your local SEO, too!

Getting optimized for 2020 doesn’t need to be complicated and you don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it. The quick fixes I’ve provided here will help you fine-tune your local SEO and grow your business in the new year.