There is an increasing demand to reach local customers for businesses who are advertising with Google. Many business owners and marketing professionals know that their target audience is likely right in their backyard, thus creating high demand for hyper-local ad campaigns. One tool that customers use to find local businesses is Google Maps. Google Maps has proven to be an easy-to-use, user-friendly platform by matching up local businesses with a user’s search query – and now you can add another dimension to targeting by enabling Local Search Ads within Google Maps.
Clients will often indicate that their online marketing efforts are in good shape because they have a Search Engine Optimization Strategy in place. Or some will say they‘re all set since they are involved in a Pay per Click program with Google AdWords. Some may actually tell me they don’t need to do either and that all of their business comes from word of mouth.
The best case scenario is to truly cover all of your bases and the only way to do that is by engaging in all components of online marketing. This can be a daunting task, given the fact that there are so many options available today. I’d suggest starting out with baby steps and then broadening your efforts slowly, but surely. Below are just a few of the most commonly utilized forms of online marketing initiatives to take into consideration:
Search Engine Optimization (frequently referred to as SEO)
According to Wikipedia’s definition, Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Clients love achieving high organic rankings in the search engines. This is especially true when it comes to Google, which is no surprise considering it holds about 65% of the market share. Remember: organic rankings equate to FREE traffic.
Pay per Click (also known as PPC)
In this platform the advertiser is paying or bidding on keywords based on their specific business or industry, in an effort to have their ad displayed in the sponsored section of the search engine. This section is typically on the very top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as well as on the right hand side, listed vertically.
Onsite Blog + Blog Postings
In my opinion, having an onsite blog is no longer an option, but rather a necessity. The main reason it ought to be onsite versus offsite is for the SEO benefits your website will gain. Blogs should have fresh and regular content on them, which the search engines love when crawling. You will want to ensure that your blog is updated on a regular basis (minimum of once a week).
Nearly everyone has a Smartphone or iPad these days and more often that not, most are surfing the web via their device. You ought to make sure that you have a simplistic, mobile friendly version of your website that allows for easy navigation.
Social Media Marketing + Strategy
This form of marketing has become increasingly important the last few years and continues to maintain its necessary place within a marketer’s ad budget. Social Media is an excellent medium to reach and engage your consumers and should be utilized to its fullest potential. Just having a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page is not enough, however. You must have a solid strategy in place before diving in.
It is a well known fact that the holidays are prime time for online retailers. A good holiday season can be the difference between what turns a company from being in the red to being in the green. The biggest, most obvious, and anticipated holiday is Christmas, which typically yields the highest traffic and sales; especially for an ecommerce website.
Unfortunately, a common mistake many online retailers continue to make is not capitalizing on the many other holidays that can also drive increased, qualified visitors and (ultimately) sales. It is important to remember that consumers are always looking for a deal and chances are… your competition is probably doing a good job of enticing them with holiday offers. As a friendly reminder, below are the holidays/seasons by month that should not be forgotten and can be taken advantage of in your pay per click initiatives. Some are religious holidays, others are simply the start of a new season, or perhaps a holiday you would never have even thought about, much less utilized to drive traffic to your website. Be creative with your ad copy, keywords and incentives; you just might be pleasantly surprised with the results!
January: New Years Day, Martin Luther King Day
February: Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, Lincoln’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day, Washington’s Birthday
March: Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Begins
April: April Fool’s Day, Passover, Good Friday, Easter
May: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day
June: Flag Day, Father’s Day, Summer begins
July: Independence Day
September: Labor Day, Autumn begins, Rosh Hashanah
October: Yom Kippur, Columbus Day, Halloween,
November: All Saint’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving
December: Hanukkah, Winter begins, Christmas, Kwanzaa
I highly recommended that you start planning your marketing calendar a few months before each holiday to ensure that you will be all set with whichever promotion you choose to offer, as well as have plenty of inventory available. Happy Holidays!