How to Turn Your Small Business Website into a Lead Generation Tool

boost-conversionsIt starts with traffic, but not any traffic, because you want qualified traffic coming to your website. By “qualified”, I mean that they are genuinely interested in your product or service. Anyone can get generate hundred if not thousands of hits to your website, but if they aren’t coming for what you have to offer then you’ll end up with a very high bounce rate and zero qualified leads.

Therefore, traffic numbers are subjective. Often too much priority is placed on this single statistic when analyzing analytics. Traffic is simply one of the many metrics to be interpreted during an analytics review. Where the rubber meets the road though is how many actual conversions took place during the period of time which the analytics review covers.

A conversion is a term used to describe when a visitor converts into a lead or sale. This might simply be a visitor filling out a contact form requesting more information, scheduling a service call, calling a phone number, entering their email address in order to gain access to a white paper or it could be completing an actual transaction for your product. In a broader sense of the word, it’s when we obtain an identity with a visitor and find out who they are.

High conversion rates are a website’s “Holy Grail”. If we were going to judge the success of a website by a single statistic, this would be it. So, how do we obtain high conversion rates?

Many times we are so enthralled with the product or service we’re providing, we go on and on and don’t recognize when the visitor is ready to buy. Make it easy for them to convert by placing a clearly defined call to action on every page. The harder you make it for them to find a way to close the deal, the lower your conversion rate.

Incentivize them to take that action NOW! Most people, present company included, will delay an action if given the opportunity. If there is some reason for me to take advantage of a “special offer” that may be “only available for a limited time”, there is a greater chance of me converting.

Conversions are both a science and an art form. Buzz My Biz has been helping companies with conversion optimization since 2006 and we’re excited about helping your company!

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

5 Reasons Every Small Business Website Should Be Using Online Video

online_video_production2Our clients LOVE video! I will be honest and say that MANY, MANY are reluctant to actually appear in the videos. In a way, it’s much like bungee jumping. Man, it’s looks fun! But you want WHO to do that? NOT ME! I wish when we scheduled video shoots for clients, there was a clandestine way to do so. Invariably, we’re told “I was up all night tossing and turning” or “my stomach is just in knots over this thing”. After thanking them for eating a light lunch, I assure them they will do fine and I can honestly say we haven’t killed anyone while shooting video yet!

You may ask, “Why would a small business owner subject themselves to such torture?”. It’s simple really. Because it works. Our experience has proved that video is an essential way to build traffic, engage visitors and ultimately, increase conversions. What’s a conversion? It’s converting a visitor to a lead and eventually a sale. More on that in my next post.

1) That’s how we roll – Chances are, you’re been watching television your entire life. from childhood to present, you’ve spent a substantial amount of time watching the “boob tube”. Research says between about 100-200 hours each month! Do the math! Passive viewing is a primary form of the way we consume information. It’s no coincidence that online video accounts for 40% of consumer Internet traffic and forecasts online video will reach 62% of Internet traffic by the end of 2015.

2) Talk to me – Beyond an actual face-to-face meeting, wouldn’t it be great if you could get your message to EVERY potential customer and deliver it with YOUR style? Of course, in most cases, that’s impractical. There’s too many customers and not enough you! That’s why you’ve assembled a great team to help you reach them, right? Sure, but this is YOUR company’s website and they want to hear from YOU – the business owner! What a great opportunity!

3) Let’s get engaged – Much has been said about how to properly engage current and potential customers. what could be more stimulating or memorable than online video!? This is true interaction where you can ask for the sale, offer a guarantee or suggest a test drive. In my opinion, there’s no better way to communicate with your customer than this channel.

4) We’re #2 – Google claims that YouTube is the #2 search engine on the planet. While normally you wouldn’t be happy about being #2 at anything but, when you’re already #1 and one of your other properties is #2, that IS something to be excited about. Working YouTube can be essential strategy then in gaining some “Google juice”. See my next points.

5) Be the big fish in a small pond – When you post a web page about a certain topic, you may be competing against tens of thousands, if not millions, of similar pages. When you upload a video, you may only be competing against a hundred or so. Your competition is AUTOMATICALLY cut down. Why? Because it requires WORK. A four letter word that people don’t like to do. Expend the effort – it IS worth it.

Are you convinced yet? I think every website should contain at least one video. If there’s one thing I wish I could do more of for our own site is to work more on videos. if you need help with online video, Buzz My Biz has a tons of experience to help you get going!

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

6 Ways to Turn Your Small Business Website into an Internet Rockstar

elec guitarPrior to the Internet, small businesses were at a distinct disadvantage to larger companies. With a typically small marketing budget there was only so much that a small company could do. Small business, and this was especially true with startups, were limited by small budgets for marketing campaigns. The climb up the ladder normally took some time and marketing was funded  by either sales or investors willing to give a small business a chance.

Enter the age of the Internet, and the playing field begins to level. In some cases, smaller companies take advantage of their flat organizational structure, make decisions more quickly and implement creative and exciting campaigns online that capture the following of a growing number of Internet users.

Today, less and less budgets are directed to traditional forms of marketing and online marketing continues to exceed projections. More importantly, is HOW a marketing campaign is driven rather than HOW MUCH.

The Internet has become the great equalizer. From the users’ standpoint it has become much more difficult to distinguish between a 5 person company from a 50 person company because the entire perspective is based on a company’s website.

Users want to see several things when they visit a company’s website.

1) Professional Image – If your website looks like it was built in the 90s by a team of girl scouts for a summer project, your potential customer is going to hit the BACK button so fast it’ll make your head spin. While typically I am much more content-driven, you cannot get past a poor first impression. Hear me now – I am NOT saying spend ten grand on fluffy artwork. A professional image is available at an affordable price but the most difficult thing is understanding what looks professional. If you want a professional looking website, hire a professional. Your brother-in-law may profess to knowing HOW to build a website but your company deserves to get off on the right foot with your potential customer.

2) Content is King – Your users arrive at your website expecting to consume information. When they get and see one paragraph on the HOME page, a paragraph on some ABOUT US page and then a standard CONTACT US page; they yawn and your company had just jumped on the list of “also-rans”. Just another boring company website with the obligatory information. Make your website stand out by providing AS MUCH INFORMATION as you can possible provide!

3) Activity – is this thing on? When as user arrives at your website they want to know that your company is alive and kicking. Many times I’ll visit a website and wonder “Are these guys still in business?”. Why? Because I see ZERO activity. ZERO new content. ZERO updates. Your website tells your visitors what’s going on with your company. No updates means to the user that there is nothing happening. The result? They will move on until they find one of your competitors who is actively working their website.

4) Call to Action – You should have a call to action on each and every page even if it is something as simple as displaying a phone number and saying CALL TODAY or a BUY NOW on a product website. There’s a old saying in sales – you have to ASK FOR THE SALE! Too often, because we’re nerds about what we do, we want to go on and on about features, functions and benefits and don’t realize when a prospect has made up his mind to buy. Ask for the sale by making it easy for a customer to initiate closing the deal.

5) Be accessible – Make it easy for someone to get in contact with you. Prominently post you preferred method of contact. This may be a phone number or a contact form but DON’T make someone search or even have to click a CONTACT US page to reach you.

6) Be responsive – Congratulations! You’ve got a lead off your website. Guess what? It doesn’t mean SQUAT if you don’t follow up and follow up promptly. I will never forget even though it’s been many years ago… I was searching for a mortgage provider and I went to Quicken Loans on the Internet (they placed very high on organic search. Score one for the SEO guys Winking smile). It seemed like I had barely filled out the contact form and clicked SUBMIT and my phone was ringing. This left a lasting impression with me on how to deal with internet leads and a favorable impression for life of that company.

A company website requires a lot of work. A lot of time. A lot of effort and experience. Buzz My Biz has been providing internet consulting services since 2006 and has the experience and resources to get the job done for your small company. Give our office a call today and get started buzzing!

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

5 Things you MUST do when implementing QR Codes in your Small Business Mobile Marketing Strategy

 

qr-codeIn my last post, I introduced you to the concept of using QR codes in your small business marketing strategy. In this post, I will discuss in greater details how to use mobile marketing for your small business.

As mentioned in my previous post, there are many ways to use QR codes. Some aspects of the mobile device that you can launch are:

  • Calendar
  • Contact Information
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Geo Location
  • Phone Number
  • Display Text
  • URL

 

In each case, the phone will respond with the correct application. While all that seems very cool, I want you to look at these two QR codes below.

randy_cooper_contact_QR_CODE        QR-TGIF

While both of these are perfectly valid QR codes, notice the greater density of the QR code on the left versus the density of the QR code on the right. I point this out because the density is important because QR codes with greater density are harder for the QR code reader to decipher and will lead to a greater number of people who fail when attempting to scan your QR code. QR codes are great but few humans can read them!

With this in mind, take a look at these URLs and think about which would result in a QR code of greater or less density.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=atlanta+ga&hl=en&ll=33.805967,-84.388046&spn=0.280711,0.467606&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=34.259599,59.853516&vpsrc=0&z=11

or

http://bit.ly/oRbdeB

If you said the second one, you’re right! of course the less data you encode, the less density there will be. But let’s prove that by actually generating the QR code for each.

fox-theater-long   fox-theater-short

Now that we’ve proven the obvious, I should point out that both URLs go to the same location. Thus, I need to introduce you to the need for a URL shortener, such as Bit.ly . One of the advantages of Bit.ly is that, if you register and sign in, you can actually track the codes. If you know me, I am a stickler for metrics and always believe that if you can’t track it, it didn’t happen. Why is this important? Because your analytics may not be able to accurately determine the referring URL and properly associate this with your mobile marketing campaign. Then all you end up with is knowing that a certain page, video, etc. received X number of hits but you have know idea of how many of the mobile users were a direct result of your QR code campaign and how many were simply surfing your site on their mobile device.

Remember, CONTENT IS KING. If I’ve failed to mention this web constant recently, I’ve been in remiss. With this altruism in mind, BE SURE that your QR code points to mobile-friendly content. How dumb would it be that it doesn’t? Major brands (read BIG, BIG companies) have made this simple mistake and blown tens of thousands if not hundred of thousands of dollars and WORSE – publicly fallen on their face. NOT GOOD!

Lastly, make sure the content is relevant and useful for your user. THIS IS YOUR ONE SHOT! MAKE IT COUNT! If not, you may not get another opportunity.

Here’s your small business mobile marketing takeaways:

 

1) Create a quality QR code that, above all is readable by 99% of QR code readers.

2) Use URL shorteners to reduce the density of the QR code to improve readability.

3) Track your QR codes using some metrics. If you can’t track it, it didn’t happen.

4) Provide mobile users mobile content and send them to a something that looks FANTASTIC on their mobile device (regardless of what device that may be.

5) Content MUST be useful and relevant if you want them to scan your next QR code.

Buzz My Biz has been on the leading edge of introducing QR codes to small businesses and wants to help your small business achieve a successful mobile marketing campaign.

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

QR Codes and What They Mean to Small Business

www-buzz-my-biz-com

You’ve probably seen these barcode boxes around before and you might even know they’re associated with mobile devices. What you’re going to learn in this post is everything about them and how you can use them in your small business marketing efforts.

QR (Quick Response) codes were initially developed in Japan to help track inventory in an auto parts manufacturing facility. Today, with a little ingenuity, there is not much that QR codes can’t do. Most smartphones have scanner software pre-loaded on them that read the QR code using the smartphone’s camera. (For a complete list visit http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-software/)

The most common use of a QR Code is when used with print media (such as a flyer, poster, magazine ad or product box) so that the consumer can scan the QR Code and the browser on their mobile device is fed the URL pointing to a webpage containing more information on the promotion or product. This information can be anything consumable by the mobile device – an article, technical specifications, a video, or images.

Another interesting use of QR Codes is in a store locator app. Buzz My Biz  developed a store locator application for EcoDiscoveries which displays a QR Code in the search results. The user can then scan the QR code and a Google Maps URL is sent to the phone which then can starts the phone’s GPS application to take the user directly to the store. When viewed from a mobile device, the address is simply made a clickable link to the same URL.ecod-store-locator

Want more friends on Facebook? Make it easy for them to friend you!

Qr-code-tshirt

Okay this may be a little extreme…(But I like the way you’re thinking)

qr-tattoo

I hope you have been able to see some of the unique aspects of QR codes and what they may bring to your small business. In my next post, I’m going to discuss some things that a small business owners should think about when implementing QR codes into their mobile marketing strategy.

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

Using Location-Based Services for Small Business

foursquare-cling-300x187

In my last post, I introduced you to location-based services. In this post, I will describe the various players in this space and summarize what I feel is their unique contribution and how small business owners might wish to participate.

The company that started this craze was foursquare (all lowercase intentional). The company is just two years old and has over 10 million registered users with average check-ins of over 3 million each day. In my view, the thing that makes foursquare unique is that it is played like a game. Badges (virtual badges, of course) are displayed for users who achieve certain milestones and if you check-in the fs_special_flagHeremost at a venue you are granted the title of “mayor”. The take away for small business owners is that as a venue you can run specials for foursquare users. For example, we were dining at a restaurant last night and when I checked in I was offered 30% off my next visit.

google-placesGoogle Places is most known for local search results on Google’s website. Small business owners should ALWAYS make sure that your business is registered on Google Places as this is one place users zone in on in their search results page. Google Plus users can check-in at Google Places.

 

lbs-facebookFacebook Places is nice because, for Facebook users, it’s all contained within their single mobile app which makes it easier and simpler for users to check-in. The downside is that venue management is not straight forward as it is on Google and the venue listings are no match for Google Place’s seemingly infinite resources.

 

lbs-yelp

Yelp is the trendy newcomer on the scene but it one to be watched. The interesting thing about Yelp, and one small business owners should take note of, is that Yelp is all about reviews. Reviews can be a double-edged sword. While a good review can drive traffic to you, a bad review can certainly make prospective customer think twice about doing business with you.

 

Buzz My Biz has a social networking staff skilled on location-based services and reputation management (the art of protecting your brand online). Contact us today to find out how we can help your small business take advantage of location-based services.

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

Introduction to Location-Based Services For Small Business

location-based-servicesBefore we get started, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what exactly IS a location-based service. Wikipedia’s definition is: Location-Based Service (LBS) is an information or entertainment service, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device. Put more simply, a location-based service identifies your small business geographically to customers using certain mobile apps on their smartphones.

foursquare-cling-300x187Location-based services center around a CHECK-IN. When people they arrive at a location, they CHECK-IN using an app for that service on their smartphone. The app uses the phone’s GPS to determine where the user is and then presents a choice of venues available to check-in that are nearby.

One of the questions those uninitiated to using such services might ask is… WHY? Why would someone voluntarily disclose their movements and precise location to the world? GOOD QUESTION! Many times someone will share “going out to dinner with the fam” to Facebook and Twitter only to be pelted by “where are you going” or “you ought to try this place”. Location-based services simply make this simple and more convenient to share with your network.

For users, this also expands their social networking as this is yet another community to join and build relationships. Often perks will be given for checking in such as points and users will compete for most check-ins in a specified period of time or who has checked-in at a specific venue the most times. Foursquare, for example, then gives you the title of “Mayor”. Oh it gets better! Then you want to see HOW MANY places in town YOU can become Mayor of!

Oh okay, it might sound silly to you but location-based services are now part of the social networking fabric and are here to stay so you, as a small business owner, need to understand and learn how to play together in this sandbox.

In my next post, I will identify the the key location-based services that small business owners need to know about and talk about how to take advantage of each one’s unique capabilities.

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

4 Tips For Small Business To Build Online Communities

online-community

The greatest achievement any business can garner is when people build communities around their brand. It is not an easy thing to perform but it does happen, although rarely occurs quickly.

Building an online community requires patience, diligence and persistence – but most of all discipline. It requires the use of proven methodologies which one fine tunes to capture the interest of participants which fit the company’s demographic target.

1) Tell your story – Nothing is more credible and sincere than your story. The story of small business is typically one of achievement in spite of difficult circumstances. Don’t be afraid to share something that you may not necessarily proud of. For instance, if you come from a humble upbringing, you have much to be proud of starting your own business. Yours is the story of ambition and living the American dream. I dare say, all small business owners have an inspiring story to tell if you reach deep enough.

2) A reason for belonging – Think about why we have communities to begin with. We form communities because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Find a need for collaboration among your customers – something that drives them together in a positive way and you are well on your way to forming a community around your brand.

3) Create an American Idol – Your brand needs something distinctive enough that people embrace it for itself. One of my favorite brands is Coca-Cola. Think of all the memorabilia available with that brand name. I think you could supply almost everything in your home with a Coca-Cola logo. Why do people embrace the Coca-Cola brand (emblem, logo, design)? Because they identify it with some aspect of themselves – they own it. This is magic, small business owners, but it DOES happen! For example,  it might be a really great t-shirt design you’ve done for your business. Everyone wants one! Congratulations, you’ve done it!

4) Share your culture –  One of the reasons why people do business with you is they like you and your employees. They like the way you do business. Put more plainly, they like your style. Now, all you need to do is to transmit that style, your culture, over the airwaves to your online community (which more than likely includes potential customers as well as current customers).

Building a community online around your brand can be both challenging and rewarding. Buzz My Biz stands ready to assist you on this journey which begins with a single step.

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

Does Social Media Pay Off For Small Business?

social-media-ballThere was a great article in the August edition of Fast Company titled “Does Social Media Have A Return On Investment?” which I really enjoyed. The article speaks mostly to larger companies but, I found myself chuckling at some points in the article because of the large amounts of revenue spent on social media marketing and the idea that there is virtually no accountability for such expenditures.

Small business owners demand to be able to track and measure marketing programs whether those programs are online or traditional marketing. Many times an incentive is included to mark this as an “internet special” just to track where the leads come in. Other aspects such as brand awareness, product announcements and service offerings are more difficult to follow.

One thing that the article points out though is that “EMarketer estimates that 80% of companies will participate in social-media marketing this year, nearly double the number of just three years ago.”  So the question is not whether your company should participate in social media but how much should your company participate?

One sentiment shared by many of our clients initially is fear of the unknown. One such fear is “what if someone says something bad about my company in a open forum?”. If your company deals with any volume at all, there is certainly at least one customer who is somehow less than satisfied even though you do your best to make sure that never happens. Reputation Management is a service that looks out for just such an event. By monitoring your company’s brand, not only can Buzz My Biz bring this to the attention of someone within your company who can respond appropriately, I’ve actually seen cases where such an event has turned out IN FAVOR of the company. Many times your loyal customers will run to your defense with rebuttal testimonials declaring how well your company has treated them. There’s nothing better than having someone else fight your battles for you, right?

Eventually, all companies – small business included – will be dragged into the social media party (some kicking and screaming). The most benefit will be those who enter early enough to make a lasting impression for years. This effort however, and this is especially true for small business owners, must be measureable.

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!

5 things a small business should know about websites

business-startup1

CNN says Georgia ties Nevada for the #1 spot for small business startups and for good reason. Not only, as the article states, are there numerous universities churning out bright graduates regularly but, Atlanta seems to be a hot bed of entrepreneurial spirit.

What should small business owners, entrepreneurs and startups  look for when investing in a website for their new venture?

1) Deal with a reputable agency. Buzz My Biz (formerly known as randycooper.net) has been helping small businesses grow since 2006. We’ve managed projects from mom & pop’s all the way to medium-sized businesses and full-blown e-commerce projects. You can trust our experience and expertise.

2) Choose a domain carefully. Most people want to run out and purchase a new domain with their company name. A couple of suggestions here – one idea is to grab a domain related to search terms that your users would search for. For example: atlantaplumber.com Another suggestion is to buy an existing domain since one of the variables Google uses to rank is the age of the domain. Existing domains vary greatly in cost, so be careful about how much you spend but $200 would be a great deal on an existing domain.

3) Always use your domain email. Using the email address of your domain presents a professional image from the beginning. There’s nothing worse in my book, than a business that uses companyname@gmail.com (or yahoo or hotmail or AOL). A limited number of emails is usually included in the hosting agreement so take advantage of that and begin using your corporate email address right away.

4) Trust the people you hire. When you hire experts, let them do their job. A classic fault of entrepreneurs is that we want our hands in EVERYTHING. This is one time to back off and defer judgment to people who do this everyday. We may love animated flaming torches on the front of the website but the people you hire know whether that will work for your potential customers or not.

5) WORK THAT THANG! I’ve often heard that a business plan is a living document. The same holds true for your website. The minute you claim “it’s done” is the beginning of it’s death. If you don’t have the time to maintain your website (remember it’s activity that tells your visitors it’s alive) hire an agency that will. Buzz My Biz offers affordable monthly plans that keep new, fresh content coming into your website – stuff the search engines love!

In conclusion, a website is your face to the world – at least until the meet you or your staff in person. Don’t you want to make that first impression a GREAT one?

I’m ready to get my business buzzing!