What Is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. That might not mean much to you, but it means a lot to Google. Here’s why.
SSL is the standard encryption used to protect web users’ information when it’s transmitted online.
You may have noticed that some websites’ URLs start with:
While others start with:
That “s” makes all the difference when it comes to security. When a user gives you their personal information, whether it’s an email address, a home address, a cell phone number, or a credit card number, they want to be confident that thieves and hackers can’t access their data.
It makes sense. SSL is the protection that stands between your customers’ personal information and the dishonest online predators who want to steal it.
Why Does SSL Matter?
What if your website isn’t a place where you collect private information? Do you still need to worry about SSL?
The short answer is yes. At the beginning of 2017, Google announced that by October, it would start labeling any sites not using SSL as Insecure. This was a change from their previous policy, which highlighted secure sites with a green padlock webicon on the browser bar.
The bottom line here is that even if you’re not collecting sensitive information on your site, you don’t want Google telling your visitors that your site isn’t secure. Many of them won’t stop to consider that they have the option of not giving you personal information.
They’ll just leave.
That’s a bad thing for obvious reasons. You want both your current customers and potential leads to feel that it’s safe to do business with you.
Once you’ve properly installed your SSL certificate, Google will display your URL with a gray padlock next to it. That tells customers that your site is secure.
How to Upgrade SSL
The process of upgrading your SSL and complying with Google’s new rules isn’t a complex one, but it might seem that way to beginners. You’ll have to follow several steps to get it done. We’ll run through them here, but don’t worry if it seems like a hassle. At the end of this article, we’ll give you a link to a service that can take care of the whole thing for you.
Here are the steps you should follow.
Determine What Kind of Certificate You Need
There are three different types of SSL certificates, and you must choose the proper one to make your site secure:
You’ll have to verify ownership of your site to generate the certificate.
Obtain or Purchase Your Certificate
Next, you must obtain your SSL certificate to install on your website. Some hosting companies offer certificates at no cost, but you also have the option of buying a custom certificate. The costs may range from less than $50 to more than $200, depending on your needs or where you buy the certificate.
Keep in mind that the SSL certificate you buy will need to be updated regularly. Each certificate is good for between one and two years. Most sites that issue certificates will allow you to sign up for automatic renewals, so you won’t have to worry about your certificate expiring.
A good rule of thumb is to pay for a certificate only if you need to. If a simple DV certificate will do and you can get one at no cost, that’s what you should do.
Install Your Certificate
Now, it’s time to install your certificate. The specific installation process will vary depending on your host and server, and it’s not practical to list step-by-step instructions for every option.
That said, the process of installing a certificate is usually well-documented and you should be able to find instructions that tell you how to do it.
The tricky thing about the installation process is that it requires you to go in and do a lot of redirecting and tweaking to your site’s code after the fact. Every link that redirects users to the http:// version of your site must be updated to redirect them to the new, secure version.
It’s this part of the process that can be a roadblock for entrepreneurs. Without the specific technical knowledge to do it – and without time in their busy schedules – it can be easy to overlook links and leave your site partially or completely unprotected as a result.
Test Your Site
The final step is to test your site and make sure that the SSL is working the way it’s supposed to. There are online tools you can use to do it, and your hosting company may give you a verification after you’ve completed the installation.
Just remember that testing is crucial. If you miss any step along the way, you might end up with only a partial installation.
Here’s Help If You Need It…
Whew – that sounds like a lot to do, doesn’t it? The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own.
If you’d like a pro to help you upgrade your SSL and prevent Google from flagging your site as insecure, we recommend SSL Sniper. Click here to find out how they can help you get through the process of installing and testing your SSL certificate.
That doesn’t mean that attracting new customers is a waste of time. But it does mean that your long-term goals might be suffering as a result of your current marketing strategy.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how to calculate the value of a lifetime customer. How much is it worth to hang on to one customer?
The Cost of Acquiring New Customers
You’ve probably heard the statistics about the cost of acquiring a new customer compared to the cost of retaining an existing one – but they bear repeating.
Research shows that it costs five times as much to get a new customer to make a purchase as it does to build loyalty with the customers you already have.
Why is new customer acquisition so expensive? It makes sense if you think about it. For example:
Loyalty Drives Sales
What happens when a customer makes a purchase from you? It turns out there are some psychological quirks that kick in that make it more likely they’ll buy from you again.
What Your Customers Are Worth
How much is a lifetime customer worth? As you might expect, the specific answers can vary. One loyal customer might spend ten times as much as another. But that said, there are some statistics that can show you the average lifetime value of a single customer.
The initial conversion rate for any potential customer is very low – usually between 3% and 5%. However, the conversion rate goes way up when we’re talking about repeat customers.
But those 3 customers who do convert are nine times as likely to make a purchase as any new customer would be. Just like that, your conversion rate skyrocketed!
As you can see above, the numbers continue to increase over time. That’s due in part to repeat customers having a comfort level with your products, as we discussed above.
Now, let’s use some hard numbers to get an idea of what a lifelong customer might be worth to you. Let’s say that you spend $1,000 a year on marketing to new customers, and a year, you attract 100 new customers. That means that your cost per customer acquisition is $10.00.
That number might seem high, but you can’t understand your acquisition cost without including the average purchase made by customers and the likelihood that they’ll buy from you repeatedly.
If your product sells for $20.00 with a 100% mark-up, and you spend 25% of your profits on overhead, you’re looking at an initial return of $7.50 per customer. In other words, you’ve earned back 75% of what you spent to acquire that customer.
Now, let’s look at what happens if that customer buys from you repeatedly, assuming all prices, mark-ups, and overhead stay the same:
Attracting new customers might feel more exciting than retaining old ones, but you’ve got to ask what’s more important to you: the thrill of attracting a new buyer, or the money that comes with retaining an existing one. Personally, we’ll take the money.
If your marketing isn’t getting the job done right now, it could be because you’re not hitting the right notes with your campaigns. Maybe you feel scattered – or maybe you’re just not sure which strategies should be in your marketing mix.
We get it. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for local marketing, but there are methods that are proven to be effective. Here are five killer ways to get your local marketing on track.
#1: Use Yelp
As you probably know, Yelp is a crowd-review website where users can post reviews of local businesses. The site has become a first stop for consumers – and it’s easy to understand why. 80% of all consumers say that they trust an online review from a stranger as much as they would a recommendation from a friend.
To use Yelp, you’ll need to start by claiming your listing. Once you do that, you can update your profile. You should make sure to:
#2: Update Your Local SEO
If it’s been a while since you updated the SEO on your website, then it’s time to revisit it. Why? Because for local businesses, SEO can spell the difference between success and failure.
Local SEO uses keywords that include local words. For example, “children’s clothing boutique” is a general keyword; “Minneapolis children’s clothing boutique” is local.
Using local keywords can help you land a spot in Google’s coveted 3-pack. This is the group of three business listings that appears at the top of each page of local search results. The companies whose listings are in the 3-pack get the lion’s share of the clicks, so you want to be there!
Other aspects of local SEO to update include:
#3: Target Your Ads to Local Customers
Marketing local companies online doesn’t stop with SEO. You can also target your ads on Facebook and Google AdWords, so they display only to local customers.
The benefit of this, of course, is that you pay for advertising based on the number of impressions your ad makes. Narrowing your audience to only local searchers means that you’ll have a better chance of getting the clicks and conversions you want.
Location targeting makes sense. The more carefully and accurately you define your audience, the more new customers you’ll be able to attract. And, you’ll also have an easier time connecting with existing customers!
Google AdWords and Facebook both offer locational targeting, and using it can make a big difference in the success of your marketing campaigns.
#4: Join a Referral Network
You expect to spend some money on marketing and advertising, but wouldn’t we all prefer to get referrals from people who know us? Referrals are free, and they’re likely to be pre-qualified, too. After all, few of us refer a friend to a business unless we know they’re interested in it!
You can look for online referral networks and local networks, as well. It’s possible that your Chamber of Commerce or a local business organization has a working referral network. Checking with online resources may be helpful, too.
Referrals can come from people in similar or related businesses. For example, the owner of a bakery might team up with a party planner to get referrals. These businesses have a lot of overlap, so referrals make sense.
If your area doesn’t have a referral network and you can’t find one online, don’t give up! Instead, start one yourself. Reach out to other businesses in your area and suggest that you might be able to help one another by making referrals.
#5: Combine Your Marketing Efforts with a Neighbor
Sometimes, marketing can be a solitary affair. You might feel that it’s a burden you have to bear on your own – but what if that weren’t the case?
One of the best ways to give your marketing efforts a boost is to pair up with one or more of your business neighbors. Here are a few suggestions:
Local Marketing Is a Must…
While the world marketplace is an increasingly global one, many consumers prefer to shop close to home. They understand that buying local products and services supports the community and creates a positive climate for residents and business owners alike.
These five marketing musts can help you shepherd your company to new levels of success in the coming year.
The key is not so much trying to stay on top of Facebook’s changes as it is getting a handle on what your marketing goals are.
So – what is it you want to accomplish in 2018? Let’s start there.
Setting Social Media Marketing Goals
One of the great things about social media marketing is how versatile it is. Whatever goal you want to achieve, you can do it using social media.
The problem that a lot of companies run into is that they don’t know what they want. They end up taking a scattershot approach to social media marketing. As a result, they:
How do you avoid these things? The answer is simple. You do it by taking some time to think about what you want to accomplish it, and then planning how to do it.
Here are some of the common goals of marketers:
We suggest picking three goals that will be your priorities in the coming year. You may have secondary goals as well, but your top three will determine what you do on social media – and how you do it.
Choosing Your Social Media Strategies
Your next step must be deciding on the specific strategies and tactics you’ll use on social media to achieve your goals.
This is where social media marketing can be a little overwhelming. There are many potential strategies to consider. For example:
For example, if you want to make influencer marketing a priority in 2018, you might do some research and make a list of potential influencers to approach. You could also give some thought to what kinds of things you would want your influencers to do, and quantify the results you hope to get.
The strategies you choose should be specific to your goals and appealing to your target audience. If you’re eager to attract male customers, for example, then a dedicated Pinterest campaign probably isn’t the way to go.
Social Media Trends for 2018
After you’ve identified your goals and chosen some general strategies, you can brush up on the latest and greatest social media trends and see if any of them fit into your plans for the coming year.
Let’s break down some of the biggest and most important trends.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the trend that was inspired by the recent Congressional inquiries about Facebook advertising during the election. You can expect a crackdown on ad content in the coming months.
Most routine ads won’t be affected, but it’s important to note that Facebook is adding new AI monitoring as well as human monitoring. It may take a little longer to get ads approved in the future, and it’s possible that glitches and misunderstandings might occur, as well.
The Landscape of Social Media Is Constantly Changing…
New technologies, apps, and trends appear on the horizon faster than we can keep up.
The keys to making your social media marketing successful in 2018 are to: