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Why It’s Important to Make Content Specific Pages

Francesca
July 29, 2016

The beauty of a small-to-medium sized business is the unique products that you can offer all in one place. I’ve worked with dealers that sell jam, NFL jerseys, and gardening products all in one place – and their business, and web traffic, continued to grow each year. Making yourself unique inside of your business is great, but when it comes to marketing those departments online there is a specific approach we should take to ensure that search engines understand how to present searchable content to customers.

Back to the jam, NFL jersey, and gardening products example above – adding all of this content to your website is of course something that a business owner would want to do. As we’ve talked about previously, the first step to being found online is making sure that the content is on your website. But adding all of these different departments to the same page would be very confusing for search engines. A search engine wouldn’t understand the specific purpose of the page and would have a difficult time listing a page properly in a search result.  All three of these very different departments would appear on a results listing for a search that was done for “garden products.  If all three of these departments were on one page, you would probably just search okay, maybe page 2 or 3, for various search terms. If you break out the content and make a specific page for each of the departments you would have a much better chance of showing up at the top of search engine results for your area. Creating pages with specific content also makes the user experience better because it breaks up the content for customers. This way they don’t have to spend time reading all of your sites content at once.

Search engines are continuing to evolve all the time. Search engine results used to be based on the search query that you had typed in. Now they focus on providing content that you haven’t even searched for yet, but that you may be interested in based on your initial search. Search engines, like Google, are trying to be one step ahead for users and in order to do that they need to be able to understand the specific function of each page on your website. The content of a page on your website is what makes it worthy of a search result position, so you want to make the content as specific as possible.

Preparing for the Holiday Season on Social Media

Francesca
September 30, 2015

This year has just completely flown by! It seems crazy to think the holidays are just about upon us, but ready or not, here they come! As you begin to prep your stores for the holiday season, it’s also important to prepare your social media pages as well.

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Social media plays a huge part in the holiday shopping season, in fact in the 2014 holiday shopping season 67% of shoppers purchased a gift they found on social media. When preparing for the holidays on social media, find a theme that matches your store and determine how to create content around that theme. This content may include photos, videos and posts to allow you to interact with customers on social media.

Use social media to showcase new products coming in to the store, upcoming sales and promotions, in-store displays and to show off products (come on, we should all be doing this!).

Here are a few action ideas to kick start the planning process:

  1. Store photos

Easily add a holiday theme to your social media channels by sharing photos of the store decorated for the holidays. This could be as simple as taking photos of holidays lights hung in the store or as creative as building a holiday tree with store items as ornaments.

  1. Gift ideas

This is valuable content that you can share with customers in a fun way! Often times, the hardest part of holiday shopping is just getting started coming up with ideas. This can be especially true when buying gifts for the opposite sex, which may require you to go to stores that you may not be familiar with. Let’s make this as easy for customers as possible!

Work with your Marketing Specialist to develop a blog for the website of a shopping list for “him” or “her”. Put the same products that you mention on the blog post together in the store and take pictures. Easily share this content on social media for an attention grabber and drive traffic back to the website with a link. Providing valuable information like this helps you as a business make your customers’ job easier during this crazy, hectic time.

  1. Get creative

Turn your Facebook page into a countdown to the holiday season. With the 25 days leading up to Christmas Day, you can post funny memes, quotes, exclusive coupons, staff photos, etc.! It’s a fun and easy way to build excitement.

Looking for other ideas? Reach out to your Marketing Specialist – they would be happy to help!

Introduce Your Staff on the Web

Francesca
April 30, 2015

As a small business, each person that you bring on to join your team has a real opportunity to make an impact on your business. Over time, each employee will begin to find their strengths and build relationships with your customers. Having good employees can make your job as a business owner much easier. Quite simply, the best business strategy in the world doesn’t mean anything without the right people to execute it. That’s why it’s important to make your staff as approachable as possible and really give your current and potential customer a chance to get to know them!

People like to do business with companies that they feel they “know,” and there’s no better way for them to get to know you than by introducing them to your employees. Including a staff section on your website is a great way to create an opportunity for people to get to know your team.

Include a photo
When you’re introducing your staff on your website, include a photo so customers can easily put a face to a name! This doesn’t have to be a professional shot photo – give your employees a chance to show their true personality and submit a photo or take a selfie.

Contact Information is Important
If you have several locations, be sure to include where each employee works. You may also want to consider putting contact information for managers of each store so that customers feel management is accessible to them for any comments, reviews, or questions.

Encourage Accomplishments
If your employees have certificates or training in an area that pertains to your business – be sure to include that information on their staff page! This is a great accomplishment that would also benefit your business and should definitely be shared with customers. Highlighting your employees’ accomplishments is a great way to boost likability and show customers that your employees are serious about their job!

Passion Goes a Long Way
Some employees really seem to shine when talking about certain products or departments within your business. This would also be great information to include on a staff page. For example, “If you’re looking for a new Deck, stop in and see Bob! Bob has worked with hundreds of customers to help them design their dream deck. Come on in and meet with Bob and see how he can turn your outdoor dreams into a reality!” really gives this employee a lot of recognition about his interest in designing deck and builds credibility to customers.

Adding Testimonials to Your Website

Francesca
March 31, 2015

Including testimonials on your website answers questions for both current and potential customers. When a visitor comes to your website, testimonials provide an opportunity for them to learn why they should do business with you, without having to go look for the answer themselves. For current customers, it may speak to your continued service in a particular area, but for potential customers it created a credible sales pitch for you.

Adding testimonials is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your website, and an opportunity to generate more sales opportunities for you.  Testimonials build trust by allowing customers to speak for you, perhaps they will speak to a particular product you sell or to a positive service experience they’ve had with you – they tell your story for you in an unbiased way. But that’s not all. There can also be an SEO benefit to having testimonials on your site. Your service area extends outside of the area in which you currently do business, which means your customers do to. If customers send you a testimonial from a nearby town, there is an opportunity to help you rank for that town by including their location in the testimonial on your site.

It can be tough to feel comfortable asking for testimonials, but there is no need to be. Sometimes, testimonials can even come up organically. It’s important to recognize the opportunity and use it to your advantage. The easiest way to ask for a testimonial, is to follow up with a customer after the service/sale has been completed. In most instances you will have their email address, sending something as simple as, “We’d love to hear about your experience with us!” is a good way to get the ball rolling. This also may come up naturally during conversation with a satisfied customer, asking them to jot down their positive experience is also a great way to collect testimonials for your website.

Don’t miss out on a great way to add valuable content to your website!

Top 5 Ways to Stay On Top Of Your Online Marketing in 2015

Francesca
January 30, 2015

It seems like we say the same thing every year, but where did 2014 go!? 2015 is officially underway and it’s going to be a great year. This year, more than ever, we need to make it a priority to update your website each month.

It’s easier than ever for consumers to find information online. We’ve seen a huge shift from desktop activity to mobile activity over the year. Consumers are searching not just to find anything, but to find the right thing. Search engines, like Google, have tried to make this as easy for consumers as possible – even going as far as providing extra content that the consumer may have been searching for without even realizing it. You make think having a website isn’t important or you’re too busy to update your site this month, but the truth is if you don’t have a website that search engines care about then it’s pretty much like you’re invisible online. It would be like having boards over your windows with no sign out front as customers drive by – they would just keep driving.

Sure it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the tasks that you have going on, but even spending as little as 15-20 minutes per month on your website can go a long way. Adding fresh content is key for two reasons: 1. It helps your website be found more in search engines and 2. Your customers want to see fresh, new content each time they come back.

We’ve certainly talked about Google preferring frequent website updates before, but it’s important enough to cover again. Search engines, like Google, rank websites that are frequently updated higher than those that are not because they consider it to be a fresh source of information for searchers. Here’s a super simple example, if you subscribed to a monthly magazine and each month you received the exact same magazine in the mail with all of the same content you’d probably cancel it pretty quickly. Similarly, if searchers are finding your website with the same content again and again then they will stop going to it. Understanding that, search engines rank websites with fresh content higher to consistently provide new, quality content to its users.

Consumers are smarter than ever, let’s be real, they have small computers in their pockets. They can find anything they want online and with that their expectations have grown. Searchers expect new content each time they visit your site, and by providing them with this you’re actually giving them a reason to return!

Of course we understand how overwhelming this may sound, but you have the help of a Marketing Specialist to guide you through this whole process. Here are 5 ways that you can stay on top of your online marketing this year:

1. Take some time and plan your website updates out for a whole year in advance
This will make it seem much more manageable when new, exciting things are going on to contact your Marketing Specialist! You already have a bulk of the work off your plate.

2. Track your analytics
Spend some time with your Marketing Specialist to see what worked for you last year for each month of updates that you are working on. If you had a lot of activity around “pet dental products” in February or “decking options” in April, they you may want to focus on adding what’s new in your store relating to those topics this year.

3. Schedule it out
Create a time once a month where you and your Marketing Specialist take as much time as you need to work on all of your website updates at once. This can be as easy and walking around your store and reading off SKUs or getting some good ideas for coupons. Having this time set monthly will be an easy way to rely on knowing that your website will be updated each month.

4. Use seasonal purchases as a guide
Create a seasonal chart based around your business and use this as a guide for website updates for years to come! For example, if in the spring your customers are ready to head outdoors to work on DIY projects then build your content around that. Make it as easy for your customers to find you – and rely on you – as possible.

5. Check out your competition
As a business owner, you are probably already checking out what your competition is up to. If something that they are doing sparks your interest, do it bigger and better than they do!

7 Easy Ways to Collect Email Addresses

Francesca
November 26, 2014

With the holidays quickly approaching (seriously where did 2014 go!?) it’s a great time to build your email list with all of the traffic that will be coming in and out of your store! Here are 7 ways to collect email addresses in your store to build your email list for 2015!

  1. Keep a pad of paper next to the cash register. Ask someone for their email address and in return, give them a bite size Snickers bar. We like to call this “simple as a snickers” – it’s an oldie, but a goodie!
  2. If you send invoices to customers, include a call to action inside the envelope to encourage them to sign up for your email list. This could be as simple as a link to sign-up on the printed invoice or a separate piece of paper with specific instruction of how to sign up and what they’ll get for signing up (exclusive offers, event info, etc.)
  3. Collect business cards in a fish bowl near the register. Just have a small sign next to the bowl letting customers know what they’ll receive discounts and special offers by putting their business card in the bowl.
  4. Place a kiosk at the register for a seamless way to collect email addresses. A kiosk is a tablet that has been synced with your MailChimp or Constant Contact email accounts. Once a customer signs up it automatically syncs with your account, so you don’t have to import any email addresses manually. Kiosks look professional and they are a great conversational piece!
  5. If you are having an event in your store during the holidays, take advantage of this amazing opportunity to rapidly build your email list. You can walk around with a pad of paper or collect business cards in a bowl. If you have a kiosk (mentioned above), you can unplug it from the counter stand and bring this around the store! It’s an easy way for customers to fill out their information directly.
  6. Include a link to your email sign-up in your email signature. It’s an easy way to consistently remind customers about your email list.
  7. Incentivize your employees to build your email list! Reward employees for building your email list with cash or gift cards to local stores/eateries.

Happy gathering!

Include Your Team in Your Marketing Efforts – Online and Offline

Francesca
October 31, 2014

As a small business you have one MAJOR advantage – your team! You can work together to provide an amazing customer service experience with your customers. Better yet, because members of your team are so dedicated, they are probably “experts” in certain areas and your customers rely on their expertise when making buying decisions!

Think of your store dynamic, do you assign certain staff members to specific locations in the store because of their passion and expertise? For example, if you have an associate who loves to garden, it’s a hobby and they are constantly buying books to learn as much as possible, it’s safe to assume you would have them work in the garden section of your store to help your customers as much as possible! You probably even get great word of mouth marketing by your customers who share their experience in your store with someone who was so knowledgeable and helpful! This concept helps to drive business to your store, so let’s use the same concept online and reach even more customers!

Talk about your team online, mention their strengths and what specific types of things customers should come in and ask them questions about! But don’t stop there! Once you’ve had a chance to introduce your team on social, keep the theme going by having your employees talk about specific products. For example, as we are officially into fall and heading into winter, have a team member who loves gardening recommend a product in a photo or video and talk about the highlights of the product and how it will help your customer by purchasing this item. You can continue this theme into any section of your store. If you haven’t tried posting videos on your page yet, give them a try this month! Videos are a great way to engage with customers.

Having conversations with your team members about what’s happening online is equally as important as talking about them online. You could set up some really great marketing efforts online, but if you don’t talk to your team about what’s going on they won’t be able to carry the messaging through! By now we know it’s important to update your website every month, but let’s take this one step further by printing a copy of your coupons and specials each month so that your staff can talk about them with customers. Staff members can train your customers to visit the website prior to shopping by saying something as simple as “I see you’re buying this item today, we have a coupon online for this! I’ll give it to you today, but be sure to check out our website before you come in next time!”

If you have new members joining your team, be sure to take some time to sit down with them and go through your website. Having a team who understands the values and benefits of what customers can find on your website will only help your traffic grow in the store and online!

The Importance of Customer Feedback

Francesca
September 30, 2014

We regularly talk about the importance of customer feedback on our blog for two main reasons, it helps current and potential customers understand more about your business and search engines want to see reviews.

Your Customers Care About Reviews

Search engines, like Google, know that customers care about reviews and in an effort to provide customers information that will help them with their searches, have been building reviews into a more prominent placement on search results pages. This prominent placement is known as a Knowledge Card, seen on the right side of the image below.

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Because the knowledge card is so visual, your eye is automatically drawn to the right side of the page. Think of yourself as a consumer, your first impression of this business is generally good, but you probably won’t order the chicken wings. If you don’t have a loyalty to them, or an incentive, you’re probably not going to try the chicken wings. Of course, chicken wings are a smaller ticket item, but put this into perspective for your own business. This is a specific example of how reviews impact current and potential customers.
(Side note: We did get permission to talk about the business example above.)

According to a survey by Dimensional Research, roughly 90% of respondents claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Are your current reviews holding you back from selling products or services and therefore effecting your bottom line?

Search Engines Care About Reviews – But How?

Reviews should be important enough to your business because of the impact reviews have on customers, but there is also an SEO factor to consider. According to Moz’s 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors, online reviews make up 10% of your search engines rank your website.

What Can I do Moving Forward?

Make it a priority to work review requests into your everyday business practices. Of course there are right ways and wrong ways to go about this, don’t be too pushy with this request. Simply make it a point to email customers once the sale has been completed and ask them to leave you a review on a variety of accounts that you use, but remember, you can’t ask for a review on Yelp. Other than Yelp, most review sites are okay with you asking for a review, as long as you aren’t specifically asking for a positive review.

Once you start receiving reviews, respond to every single one! Don’t just respond to the bad ones. This shows current and potential customers that you are a human, it shows that you care to thank each customer for their feedback, the same way you would at the register.

Getting Customers Excited About Upcoming Email Blasts

Francesca
August 29, 2014

As a marketer who works online with websites, social media, and email marketing campaigns every day, you think I would be sick of this stuff by the time I get home!

But it’s actually just the opposite. I’m a marketer and a consumer, which means I also benefit from companies who use these tools to their advantage. There are a few companies that I regularly am waiting for their email blast to appear in my inbox each month. As a business, they have trained me to know when the email will be arriving and what I can expect when I receive it.

How did they do this?

This isn’t a crazy new concept, in fact, it may be simpler than you think. Businesses got me excited about their email list by talking to me where I was already engaging with them. This could happen in a variety of places, online, on social media, or in the store.

Email marketing is a great tool for businesses to use to regularly to contact customers, generate sales, and build relationships. You should be using it to your advantage and regularly talking about your email blasts to get people to sign up AND to keep people engaged.

It’s pretty common to talk to people about signing up for your email list. You can ask them at the register, put a sign up form on your site, and have a sign up form on Facebook. Great! Hopefully you are building your list and regularly sending emails to your customers who are asking for you to contact them (hey, that’s what it means when they give you their info!).

But we need to do a better job of reinforcing the value of our email campaigns to customers who have already signed up. Let’s make it a priority to build some hype around our email blasts! When you have a customer at the register about to check out, say to them “Hey, we sent out a 20% coupon yesterday did you get it?” Whether or not they have it is fine, give it to them anyway but make it a big deal. “I’d be happy to give it to you this time, but be sure to check your inbox before coming in next time for exclusive offers to save you money!”

You can use a very similar approach online! Start by creating posts on Facebook and Twitter a few days prior to your e-blast going out. Something as simple as “An exclusive offer will be sent to our email club this Tuesday! Sign up today if you’re not a member yet so you don’t miss this great deal!” Continue posting enticing messages once per day until the e-blast is sent out, but continue to change up the message to keep it exciting for fans of your page. This concept reinforces why people should be on your list and gives new customers a great reason to sign up!

Encourage Positive Reviews About Your Business

Francesca
March 30, 2014

Potential customers are using the internet to research a product, business, or service before making any shopping decisions. When someone does a search on the internet, a customer review can go a long way in speaking for your business. Have you done a search to see what customers are saying about you? Potential customers are aware that not all customers are going to be happy all of the time, so it won’t come as a shock to see one or two bad reviews. What they are looking for are two things: 1. Did you respond to the negative comment? 2. Are there positive things people are saying about your business as well?

In today’s world, a lot of merit goes into a customer review. One of the most popular places for online reviews are on your Google Place Page. Be sure to check out your page today to see what customers are saying about you. If you would like to add some positivity (whether it’s currently there or not) to your page, try offering customers an incentive for leaving you a review. A lot of companies are trying this, for example, if I order something online, I’ll receive a card in my package that says “Write a review on this item and we will give you free shipping on your next order!” It’s a simple way to encourage reviews, but to not be too sales-ey about it. Why not try this at the store level so that you have an opportunity to interact with customers at the same time. Offer customers 5% off their next purchase if they write a positive review about you online. Here are a few sites that accept customer reviews to help get you started:

If you need help promoting this in your store, or on social media, contact your Marketing Specialist for some great getting started ideas!

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