The businesses that appear in the top five spots on Google get the lion’s share of the traffic. If you miss the mark, you’ll be missing out on business.
With that in mind, here are the most important things you need to know about what’s changing with Google – and why you should care.
#1: Google Searches Will Be Mobile-First
This first one is a big one and you can expect to have a big impact on your business. Google has a huge advantage in mobile search. One estimate is that while Google garners approximately 63% of desktop services, it grabs a whopping 95% of mobile search. People with smart phones really need to go out of their way to use a search engine other than Google.
Google knows that people are more likely to search local business on their mobile devices than on a desktop, and it also recognizes the importance of the “near me” search term when people are out and about.
You want to make sure that your business grabs one of those top spots in mobile search? Here are some quick tips to help you ensure that it does:
#2: SEO Is Your Key to Showing Google Your Relevance
It’s no secret that Google prioritizes the user experience over everything else. That’s why keywords have diminished in importance while things like LSI, authority backlinks, and local reviews have risen as indicators of a site’s relevance and usefulness.
Keywords may not have the impact they once had, but there are other elements of SEO that are essential to ensuring that Google knows what your site’s about and why users will care about it.
The first thing is creating optimized content that’s highly engaging and useful to your site visitors. The more recent the content the better. If your site doesn’t have a blog, it should – and you shouldn’t wait to add one. Every blog post you write gives Google another reason to crawl your site, and users another reason to visit.
The second thing is your data. If you’re not already drilling down into your data from Google Analytics and social media, you should start. Those numbers aren’t just numbers – they’re a map that can show you the kind of content that’s most appealing to your followers.
#3: Content Still Reigns Supreme
Speaking of content, there’s simply no way to overstate its importance. While you’ll still need to optimize your site for keywords and use appropriate tags, your content is what will ultimately make a user decide to stay on your site or – alternatively – to click the dreaded back button and try again.
The truth is that posting content regularly is likely to garner you up to five times the results that you’ll get without regular content updates. That’s not a statistic you can afford to ignore – and you can be sure that Google will notice if you don’t create content that users care about.
Of course, content can take many forms. It might include:
#4: Video Content is Huge
Finally, there’s reason to believe that 2018 will truly be the Year of Video Marketing. We’ve been talking about the rise of video for a while now, but its importance continues to increase. Let’s start with this:
By 2021, 82% of all global IP traffic will be video traffic.
Whoa. We’re not talking about a tiny chunk of traffic here. Video traffic was already at 73% as of 2016 and its rise is ongoing.
Visitors to your site are four times more likely to watch an explainer video about your product or service than they are to read a page of text. Of course, there are exceptions – but you can’t afford to ignore the fact that preferences have changed.
The good news is that video is cheaper and easier than ever to product. You can pay big bucks for a professional videographer to make videos for your business, but you don’t need to. Even a decent smartphone camera can shoot video that’s good enough to represent your business.
Some videos – the more formal ones that appear on your site, for example – might benefit from high production values. But the videos that you post on social media can be casual and short – and don’t forget about live video as an option, too
Now, about that Jell-O…
Yes, it’s a pain to keep up with Google’s constant changes. But ultimately, getting a nail through that Jell-O – even if you have to do it again tomorrow – is worth the time and effort. It’s the thing that will bring new visitors to your site – and help your business earn more revenue.
The trick is knowing which platforms are most likely to bear fruit – and which are better left alone. Here are some things that can help.
Understand the Key Attributes of Each Platform
Each social media platform has unique qualities. Sometimes the benefits of one platform overlap with another and sometimes, they don’t. Here’s a rundown of each platform’s marketing value as we see it.
Facebook is still the biggest social media platform. That means that you’re likely to find a significant percentage of your target audience there. In most cases, choosing just one social media site for marketing probably means choosing Facebook.
Facebook is ideal for brand-building, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry or niche, and strengthening customer loyalty. It’s easy to share an array of content, including written, visual, and video content.
Of course, arguable Facebook’s biggest strength in terms of marketing is its advertising options. You can easily segment your target audience, run ads, view detailed analytics, and adjust as needed.
Twitter is built for instant communications. It’s the perfect place to share updates with your followers, create an immediate give-and-take, and release company news without relying on the media.
Twitter’s use of hashtags also makes it easy to track your company’s mentions and trending topics. Many companies have integrated their customer service with their Twitter accounts to provide immediate support when it’s needed.
Pinterest focuses on visual content and is a great platform for driving users back to your blog or website. They also have an option that allows retailers to sell directly on Pinterest.
The ability to create micro-targeted boards and use hashtags can make it easy to ensure that people in your target audience see the content you create.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform where you can share photographs and videos of your products or services. It has a slightly more casual feel that the other sites we’ve mentioned so far and that can be useful for some brands because it can help them connect with customers.
Instagram is also a good place for user-generated content. For example. Starbucks uses Instagram every year for its White Cup Contest, where it asks users to decorate a plain white Starbucks cup with a unique design. The contest winner’s design is manufactured each year and available as a limited-run product in stores.
LinkedIn is the best social media platform for B2B marketers. It’s where you can share relevant blog posts, connect with other leaders in your industry, and make the kinds of connections that can help your business grow.
You can target LinkedIn users by their industry and job title, as well as by using traditional keywords. Sharing information about your business is a good way to build credibility and trust.
Identify Your Target Audience’s Preferred Platforms
Now, you’ve got to take the time to clearly define your target audience and identify the social media platforms that they are most likely to use. To do that, it’s helpful to have a demographic breakdown of each site so you can narrow your options.
Know How Much Time You’re Willing to Spend on Social Media
Let’s say that you’ve identified Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram as the most beneficial social platforms for your business. Does that mean you should set up accounts on all three?
To be effective, a social account must be active. That means you’ve got to tend to it every day, creating or curating new content and being there to answer questions and comments as needed. Here’s a rule of thumb for posting on each platform:
Choosing the right social platforms may take a little time…
But, it’s time well spent. Your time is valuable, and it makes no sense to waste it posting on platforms that your audience is not using.
If you’re a CPA or Attorney, you probably don’t use Pinterest…
Auto repair shops probably aren’t too active on LinkedIn…
Home remodeling & roofing contractors don’t do a lot of tweeting…
You see where I’m going with this?
So we hope this article will help you make the best choice for your own business – and for your bottom line.
In case you don’t know, that’s the collection of businesses that appear at the top of Google’s SERP when someone searches a keyword. It turns out that one of the keys to landing a coveted spot in the three-pack is getting good reviews. Here’s what you need to know.
The Proof That Reviews Matter
How can we tell that reviews make a difference in SEO? Google’s algorithm is proprietary and the known ranking factors (keywords, links, and Google Rankbrain, to name a few) don’t include reviews.
Local SEO experts have been saying this for a years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that reviews are important. Google any local business category and you will get a list of results with a three-pack at the top. When you look at the businesses that made it into the three-pack, you’ll most likely see the following:
It’s also worth noting that the Local SEO Guide found that local reviews were the second most influential factor in determining search rank in their 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study. The influence in this study did appear to be limited to reviews that specifically included the keyword searched, but customers are likely to use the most commonly searched terms naturally.
In addition, LSI keywords that are related to the search term may also play a role. Try Googling your top keyword and looking at what’s highlighted in the reviews in the three-pack. You may notice that reviews that use semantically-related words show up even if they don’t use the precise term you searched.
The Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO
There are some concrete reasons that Google thinks reviews matter. They’re directly related to the ways that Google’s algorithm has evolved. In the early days of the internet, it was possible to get a page to rank highly on any search engine by simply stuffing it with keywords.
That changed because it omitted any concern for the experience of a user who clicked through to a site. After all, if you could click on a site because it ranked for a keyword only to find that it was useless to your needs, you wouldn’t revisit it – and you might resent the search engine that directed you to it in the first place.
With that in mind, here are the top three reasons that Google likes reviews for SEO.
How to Make the Most of Your Reviews
Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your reviews:
You know that, and now you can do something about it. Organic traffic is increasingly difficult to come by but encouraging and highlighting your reviews can help you get the biggest possible bang for your marketing bucks.
And the secret it a surprisingly simple one:
Create better content than they do.
It’s been a long time since Bill Gates famously declared, “Content is king.” That doesn’t mean that it’s not true. In fact, content is happily sitting on that throne – and it determines how highly your site is ranked by Google and whether people will visit it, subscribe to your list, and turn into paying customers.
Easier said than done? Maybe, but here are 5 methods you can try to drive more customers with content marketing.
#1: Build Social Media Profiles & Engage Your Audience Consistently
There’s no denying that social media marketing is essential for local businesses. In fact, social content accounts for a whopping 93% of all B2B content and it’s responsible for a significant amount of B2C content, as well.
The first step is building your profiles. That means creating a consistent brand image by using your logo and a dedicated brand voice so that someone who finds you on Facebook won’t have any problem recognizing you from your website or other social accounts.
The second step is engaging your audience. You should plan on creating some content that’s unique to social media. You can also share your blog posts, YouTube videos, and other content from your website.
However, you should also be curating content from other sources as long as it fits in with your brand’s message. For example, we found a craft store in Seattle that shares:
The key is to make sure that the content you share is relevant to your followers.
#2: Contact Local Content Creators/Influencers
The next thing you can do is to pair up with local content creators and influencers both for content creation and for amplifying your brand’s reach.
Imagine that you owned a restaurant and you noticed that one of your food suppliers had a large following. You might approach them about creating content together or sharing one another’s content to help both of you. People who eat at your restaurant might like to know more about the person producing your ingredients and likewise, the people who follow your supplier might like to know where they can sample their products locally.
Of course, influencers don’t need to be directly connected to your business. Instead, they might simply have a lot of audience overlap to make cultivating a relationship with them worth your while. Use your imagination and keep an open mind for the best results.
You can find local influencers using websites like .peoplemap.co and tribegroup.co
#3: Partner with Local Businesses
You might also consider partnering with local businesses to build your brand and attract new customers. Sometimes, a partnership is the ideal way to lift both partners while at the same time providing relevant content to your followers.
For example, a local office supply store might pair up with a CPA to create content about how to organize your receipts and other information necessary for filing your taxes. Or a hair salon could pair up with a local charity that makes wigs for chemotherapy patients showing the process of how donated hair becomes a wig.
Here again the key is relevance. Any joint content you create should be relevant to your followers and give them the opportunity to learn something new – or try something new.
#4: Confirm Your Business on Mapping Platforms
Helping people find you online and in person is a key aspect of content marketing – and one you may be neglecting. Here are some examples of what you can do to make your business more visible:
#5: Event Marketing (Hosting Events and Experiences)
Finally, check out local events that you might be able to attend or sponsor. While our focus is on digital marketing, sometimes there’s no substitute for the personal touch.
If your marketing is primarily B2B, you might look for:
Remember, great content will always win out…
It might feel a bit daunting to constantly need to come up with new content, but the five strategies we’ve outlined here can help to demystify the process and ensure that your content is always stands out and gets noticed.
There’s no one approach that will work for all of them. That means you’ve got to know your audience and then customize your approach to ensure that you’re reaching them.
Marketing to Generation X
Let’s start with Generation X. The people in Gen X were born between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s. They’re sometimes referred to as the Latchkey Generation and they’re sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Millennials.
Nearly two-thirds of Gen Xers say that Facebook is their preferred social media site. Just about half of them follow brands on social media, and following a brand is a precursor to making a purchase. That means that your Gen X followers are primed to buy. You just need to give them a reason to do it.
The key is knowing why they follow you. 58% of Gen Xers follow brands because they want to get information about sales and promotions. In other words, if part of your target audience is in Generation X, you can engage them by offering them special deals, coupons, and promotions.
What does that mean in practical terms? You can target your Facebook promotions by age, so you might run an ad with a coupon and target it to people in your area between the ages of 39 and 53. You can add additional targeting options based on your audience’s interests, as well.
Generation X has a huge amount of buying power. They’re gainfully employed and doing well – but that doesn’t mean that they want to spend more than they need to. Keep that in mind when you’re marketing to them.
Marketing to Millennials
Millennials are a different breed than Gen Xers. Millennials were born between 1980 and the late 1990s/early 2000s. In other words, they’re between the ages of 18 and 38. Facebook is still their most-used social site, but they also spend a lot of time on Instagram and Snapchat.
Millennials are the first generation of digital natives, which means they’ve seen it all when it comes to online content. They’re far more likely to share viral content like memes and GIFs than Gen Xers are. Millennials want to be entertained, so the content you create should be informative and entertaining. Examples might be how-to videos, behind the scenes tours, and things of that nature.
The most important defining characteristic of Millennials when it comes to marketing is that they are inherently distrustful of content that’s created by brands and of sponsored content in general. They’re far more likely to put their trust in user-generated content (UGC) and online reviews than on anything you say about yourself.
The solution is to encourage your followers to create content on your behalf. A good example is Starbucks’ White Cup campaign on Instagram, which asked followers to decorate plain white cups and post pictures of them. They had to use Starbucks’ special tag to enter the contest, which gave Starbucks the opportunity to share that content with its followers.
Here again, it’s a good idea to create a targeted ad campaign that is directed at Millennials. By choosing the right content to promote or making an ad that will appeal to your Millennial followers, you’ll increase your chances of reaching them. It’s also a good idea to time your Millennial-targeted posts for when they’re most likely to be online: between 8 PM and midnight.
Keep in mind that Millennials now make up the majority of the work force in the United States and have a ton of buying power. You should allocate your Facebook advertising budget accordingly.
Marketing to Generation Z
Generation Z is the generation of young people born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, although there’s some disagreement about the start and end years. There’s some overlap with Millennials.
When it comes to social media use, Gen Z has a lot in common with Millennials. They use Facebook but also spend a lot of time on Instagram and Snapchat. Where they differ is in the type of content they prefer to see.
The first thing you need to know about Gen Z is that their attention spans are notoriously short. Where Millennials might watch a long video, Gen Z is more likely to engage if your video content appeals to them instantly – in about 8 seconds or less.
Another key concern of Generation Z is community involvement and charity work. While this issue has been a focus of articles about marketing to Millennials, it’s even more important when marketing to Gen Z. These are young people who want to use social media to change the world – and they want to support businesses that take a real interest in helping others.
You can reach Gen Z by creating short, snappy videos with relatable actors in them. You don’t want anybody who seems phony. Filming your staff wrapping up donations for a local non-profit would be a great way to engage with them. Likewise, flash sales and things that require immediate action can help you grab their attention.
Keep in mind that Gen Z is still young – but they’re the up-an-coming generation. Right now they might be spending their parents’ money, but in a few years they’ll have their own. If you can hook them now, you’ll be in great shape when they come of age.
Targeting your ads by age might seem like a lot of work…
… but it doesn’t necessarily require you to spend more money than you already are. Understanding generational differences – and providing the kind of content that will appeal to your customers of every age – will maximize the chances that you’ll be able to convert followers into paying customers.
The reason? There are some popular misconceptions about social media marketing and some secrets that you simply won’t know about unless someone tells you.
Here they are.
#1: The Size of Your Following May Not Matter
One of the biggest misconceptions about social media marketing is that Page Likes equal success. That’s often not the case.
You can create an entertaining account that attracts new followers and not see any change in your bottom line. If that happens, you’re basically whistling in the wind. The time and energy you spend on managing your social media pages isn’t getting you anything in return.
A better bet is to focus on attracting highly qualified and motivated followers who are likely to turn into customers and share your content with their friends.
#2: There’s No Such Thing as Overnight Success
To quote the cliché, social media marketing isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and dedication to attract a following and see results from your social media marketing efforts.
In many ways, this misconception relates to the first one. A big following doesn’t equal success. You may spend a lot of money boosting your page and attract a lot of followers. However, if those followers don’t buy from you, the money will have been wasted.
In other words, social media marketing requires an ongoing commitment to excellence. You’ll need to work hard to create valuable and entertaining content – and be willing to tweak your methods to get the results you want.
#3: You Won’t Succeed Without Analysis
Analyzing the results of your social media marketing is a must if you want to grow your business. It’s not enough simply to eyeball your Likes and other obvious metrics. You’re going to need to dig deep to refine your strategy.
Fortunately, most platforms offer basic analytics that you can use to get started. If you pay for a social media management tool, you probably have access to additional reporting and analysis. Either way, it’s essential to use the data you have to test, refine, and re-test your content and strategy.
Even if you’ve done well on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll need to commit to doing the sometimes-tedious legwork that will help you hit on the right strategy to grow your business.
#4: Engagement Is Just as Important as Content
You might create fantastic content on a regular basis, but if you aren’t also setting aside time to engage with your followers, you might as well not bother.
A lot of companies make the mistake of forgetting the “social” in social media. It’s your job to monitor your content, reply to comments, answer questions, and generally make your followers feel that they are important to you.
Engagement can be time-consuming, and it’s one of the reasons that a lot of small businesses don’t do well on social media. You may need to hire someone to monitor your mentions, comments, DMs, and questions to ensure that nothing is falling through the cracks.
#5: Success is Difficult to Predict
The Holy Grail of social media marketing is the viral post. Whether it’s a video, a meme, a photograph, or a blog post, every social media marketer dreams of creating The One – the special post that reaches millions of followers and sends their business into orbit.
We’d love to be able to give you a formula to help you create that perfect post. Sadly, there isn’t one. The best you can do is create the most entertaining, valuable, relevant content you can – and hope that your followers will share it and that it will catch on.
Of course, there are some things that can help your chances of going viral. Humorous content does well, and so does content that’s useful to different groups of people. Instead of focusing on virality, spend your time getting creative – and the rest will, hopefully, follow.
#6: You’ll Need a Creative Team to Help You
Your social media goals may be simple or grand, but either way, it’s important to understand that you may not be able to do everything you need to do without help.
Creativity is a plus when it comes to social media marketing. If all you do is share content from other people or Tweet out information about your products, you’re not going to attract the passionate following you want.
The key is to give your social media manager the creative support they need. That may mean hiring a creative team to work with them. Or, it may be as simple as giving them a creative budget that they can use to hire freelance writers, photographers, and artists to give your social media marketing a boost.
#7: Everything Can Change at a Moment’s Notice
One of the trickiest aspects of social media marketing is that change is normal. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are constantly tweaking their algorithms – and you’ll need to stay on top of the changes they make if you want to do well.
For example, Facebook recently changed its algorithm to prioritize posts from personal connections over those from businesses. As a result, business owners have had to rethink their strategies, work harder to get organic engagement, and increase their Facebook marketing budgets to make sure that their posts reach their followers.
Tracking your performance and engagement can help you in this regard. However, it’s essential to be aware of changes and to adapt your strategy accordingly so you’re not spinning your wheels.
Social media marketing isn’t as easy as it seems…
That much is clear. But, keeping the seven items we’ve outlined here in mind can help you make the most of the time, creative energy, and money you spend to promote your business on social media.
The problem that some local businesses have is that they’re not sure which type of lead magnet will prove to be irresistible to their target audience.
One reason for the confusion is that many of the online resources about creating lead magnets focus on online businesses. Local businesses need to take a different approach. Here are 5 ideas for lead magnets that will help you attract new leads and customers.
#1: The Mini eBook
Our first proven lead magnet idea is the mini eBook. Giving away a book is enticing to consumers because they’re accustomed to paying for books. Getting one for free is exciting and, if you choose your topic wisely, can be enough to get people to fill out a lead form or subscribe to your list.
The key, of course, is choosing a topic that will appeal to the people you want to attract. Here are some suggestions.
#2: The Checklist
The next option is very quick to create and can be useful to your customers. Checklists are one-page items that are designed to help your target audience complete a task or get organized.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of things that make for interesting checklists:
#5: The Resource Guide
Resource guides can be sort of a hybrid between an eBook and a checklist. It’s always helpful to provide your audience with something they can put to practical use – and a resource guide does precisely that.
Your resource guide might be focused on a service you provide. A party planner might include a list of local caterers and other related service providers in their resource guide.
You might also provide a list of resources to help your clients do something. A tax attorney might put together a list of online resources that includes links to the IRS website and other resources to help clients prepare to file their taxes.
#4: Case Study
What if your business is service-based? If that’s the case, you may want to consider creating a detailed case study as your lead magnet.
A case study isn’t actionable the same way an eBook or checklist might be, but it can be the ideal way to illustrate the value you can provide to your clients.
For example, a wedding planner might create a case study that demonstrates her ability to organize a beautiful wedding on a shoestring budget. An accounting firm might do a case study explaining how they saved a client thousands of dollars in taxes.
Here, your goal should be to show yourself and your business in the best light possible. Your case study doesn’t need to be long, but it should be something that’s designed to appeal to the audience you want to attract.
#5: Free Coupon/Discount
We’ve saved our least complex lead magnet for last. Everybody loves to get something for a discount (or for free!) and offering a free coupon or discount is a proven way to attract leads.
Of course, you can get creative with this option, too. Here are some suggestions:
Any audience can be drawn in by the right offer…
Your job is to consider the people you want to attract, and then create a lead magnet that is so irresistible that they’ll line up to give you their email addresses or fill out your lead form.
After that, the rest is easy.
The solution is to come up with a way to display a killer image, some compelling text, and call to action whenever anybody links to your website or social profiles.
In other words, it’s time to create some social cards. Let’s talk about what they are, what they can do for your business, and how to create them.
All About Social Cards
What the heck is a social card? It sounds like a Jane Austen-era throwback, something you’d leave on a silver tray in someone’s entryway.
In a way, social cards are the calling cards of the digital age. Just as a printed calling card could show something about the owner’s personality, a social card is your opportunity to show off your business in its best (and most compelling) light.
Basically, it’s a visual “card” that displays whenever someone links to your website or social media profile. They typically consist of an image, some limited text, and a call to action.
One thing that makes social cards special is that the image is clickable. You’ll have room to put a URL at the bottom (that’s your call to action) but clicking the image will have the same effect.
Another way to think of social cards is that they’re amped-up hyperlinks.
What Social Cards Can Do for You
What can social cards for your website and social profiles do for you? The answer is: quite a lot. They offer the combined benefits of a backlink and an ad, and you they’re free to make!
Here are some of the specific things that social cards can do for you.
They Show Your Business in its Best Light
Social cards show your business in its best light. If you don’t create a social card, you run the risk of getting saddled with a lackluster image pulled from the dark recesses of your website.
Think of it as the difference between choosing the perfect outfit for a date and having your closet randomly shoot out clothes for you to wear. Nobody would choose the latter option if the former were available.
They Make Sharing Links Easy
Without a social card, you’ll need to choose an image every time you share a link – or settle for whatever choice Facebook or Google makes for you. On Twitter, you won’t get an image at all if you don’t specify one!
Social cards use images consistently and eliminate the need for you to upload or select an image. Any time you decide to share your link, your social card will display.
They Give People a Reason to Care about Your Business
Perhaps the most important thing social cards can do for your company is giving people a reason to care about your business – and to click your link instead of the next one on their Twitter feed.
When you create social cards, you have the opportunity to share the kind of image and text that will make your business stand out from the competition.
Quick Steps to Create Social Cards for Your Most Important Links
It’s very easy to create social cards once you know how to do it. Let’s walk through the steps you’ll need to follow so you can get it done.
#1: Get the Right Tools to Help You
The first thing you’ll need to do is check to see if your web platform has tools to help you create social cards. WordPress has a great plug-in called Yoast SEO that, among other things, simplifies the process of creating social cards.
If you’re not using WordPress, check to see what tools are available. If none are, you may want to consider switching to a platform that has some.
Another tool we like is AnyImage, which makes it very easy to create images with text to use as social cards. You can also look at tools like Canva or Photoshop if you prefer.
#2: Choose a Killer Image
What image will you use for your social card? It needs to be a killer – something that perfectly represents your business and what it can do for people in your target audience.
You may already have an image in mind. If not, you can use the tools we’ve mentioned above to create one.
Stock images can be a good choice if you select the image you use carefully. You don’t want something that looks posed. Sites like Deposit Photos and Shutterstock are good places to start.
Whichever image you choose, you’ll need to make sure that it’s properly sized for the social media sites you’ll be using it on.
#3: Craft Compelling Text to Go with Your Image
You’ll need two pieces of text to go with your image. The first is a title or headline. It should be larger than the supporting text and compel the reader to pay attention and learn about your business. Just a few words will do – if they’re the right words.
The other thing you need is a sentence or two of supporting text. The goal is to make a strong case for people to click your call to action. What will they get if they do? What benefits will they reap? Those are the things to focus on.
#4: Add a Call to Action
The final step is to add a call to action. If the card you’re creating is just for people sharing a link, adding your URL may be sufficient. However, if you’re promoting a service or building a list, you’ll want to add a CTA button instead.
The button should use strong action words to get people to click. Consider using a contrasting color or a different font to make your CTA stand out.
Social cards can make your business stand out…
If seeing your link is a potential customer’s first date with you, you don’t want the first word that comes to mind when they see it to be “generic” or “boring.”
Creating a social card will help you make the perfect first impression – and get your new customer relationship off to a good start.
But – it’s also subject to a slew of weird glitches called cognitive biases.
Cognitive biases are basically mental shortcuts. They’re hard-coded into our brains, so much so that even people who understand them can still fall under their spells.
The good news for you is that you can use the psychology behind these biases to connect with people in your target audience, build your business reputation, and even convince people to buy your products. Here are 6 ways you can use psychology in your marketing.
#1: Use Emotions to Trigger Decisions
Have you ever noticed that your decision-making process changes when your emotions are engaged? If so, you’re not alone. Most people, even those that think they’re making decisions solely based on logic, can be swayed by their emotions.
Charities know this. It’s why the ASPCA features neglected animals in their ads. They know that animal lovers will want to help when they see those images.
Do you have a compelling origin story for your business? Are you connected with a local charity? Sharing these things can help people form an emotional connection to you – and increase the chances that they’ll turn into paying customers.
#2: Give Potential Customers Something for Free
One of the most commonly-used cognitive biases in marketing is Reciprocity. Reciprocity is the thing that’s triggered when someone gives you a gift and you don’t have something to give them in return. You feel a bit guilty – and you’re more likely to get them a gift as a result.
In marketing, you can trigger Reciprocity by giving people something for free. A lot of businesses use lead magnets, such as a short eBook or template, to entice people to sign up for their lists.
Giving people a sneak peak or a free sample can drive sales. Or, you might want to try offering a BOGO (that’s buy one, get one free) instead. These tactics are simple, but they can increase your profits dramatically if you use them properly.
#3: Frame Your Products or Services with Positive Language
The right picture frame can enhance the image it holds – and the wrong one can detract from it. The same is true of your products and services.
The language you use to describe your company and products can make a huge difference in how potential customers see you. It’s why restaurant menus feature words like gooey, crisp, and fresh. These words entice. If they described their meals with words like unhealthy, calorie-laden, they wouldn’t sell.
Look at how you’re framing your products right now. Is the language you’re using enticing? Are you highlighting the best things about your product?
If you’re not, it’s time to rethink your descriptions. A customer is more likely to buy something that is framed positively than something with a neutral or negative frame.
#4: Use Price Anchoring to Increase the Perceived Value of Your Products
The Anchoring Effect is a cognitive bias that shows that people attach importance to the first price they see for a product. TV infomercials and sales pages for affiliate products tend to use anchoring very well.
For example, they might start off by telling you that the product they’re selling is a $100 value. When they do, that price becomes the anchor price. The product is worth $100.
Then, they chip away at the price. By the time you get to the end of the commercial (or the bottom of the page), the asking price of $29 seems like a fantastic bargain.
You don’t have to be as hype-y as those commercials, but there are some things you can do to anchor your product’s price in people’s minds:
#5: Create a Sense of Scarcity
If you know anything about internet slang, you know about FOMO – the fear of missing out. It turns out that’s more than just a handy abbreviation. It’s a tool that you can use in your marketing.
Scarcity is something that they use all the time on the Home Shopping Network. If you watch, you’ll notice there’s always a count of how many items are left. Watching that number tick down to zero motivates people who might be on the fence to pick up the phone.
You can use scarcity by running 24-hour sales or including a countdown clock. One way to do it is by creating an email series. Even adding a PS (You only have 12 more hours to take advantage of this price!) can be enough to motivate people to buy from you.
#6: Use Social Proof
We like to think of ourselves as individuals, but human beings have a lot in common with herd animals. We stick with the crowd most of the time.
The psychological term for this phenomenon is Social Proof – or, if you prefer, the Bandwagon Effect. It says that people are more likely to go with the popular choice even if they don’t like it (or agree with it) at first.
You can use social proof in marketing in several ways. For example:
Thought control might sound like science fiction…
…but it’s really just a matter of understanding basic psychology and using what you learn in your marketing. These six psychological principles can help you connect with your audience and increase your bottom line.
#1: Local Search Marketing
Local search marketing has a lot in common with local SEO – but it represents an integrated approach to making sure that your company shows up in local searches.
To amp up your standing in local search, do these things. First, seek out and standardize your NAP listings online. It may take a while, but it’s worth the effort. When your listings are all identical, there won’t be any confusion about who you are – or where people can find you online.
Second, create and claim your listings on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing Places for Business, and Facebook. Make sure to use the same name and basic information for each listing. Choosing the right categories is important too. Be as specific as you can be without going overboard.
Third, get your business listed in relevant directories and make sure to standardize your listings. To find places where you’re already listed, clear your cache and cookies and then use local search terms to find your business. If you’re not at or near the top, you still have work to do.
#2: Build Your List
Email marketing might not be on the cutting edge, but we’re always amazed to learn how few local businesses are using email marketing regularly.
Whatever excuses you may have used to avoid collecting emails are holding you back. It’s time to let go of them and embrace email marketing as something that can make a significant difference in your bottom line.
Create a simple opt-in form to use on your website. Consider offering a lead magnet to entice people to subscribe. And, when people come into your business? Ask them for an email address before they leave. Most people will say yes.
Once your list is in place, you can use it to let subscribers know about new products, sales, and promotions. And even more importantly, you can ask them for reviews or to follow you on social media. These things can all help you improve your online reach and drive sales.
#3: Optimize Your Website for Humans and Search Engines
SEO should be part of your local marketing strategy, but it’s important to remember that your customers are not search engines or bots – they’re people.
Increasingly, search engines like Google and Bing are focusing on the user experience as a ranking factor. It’s why Google has added Rank Brain to its algorithm – because doing so increases the chances that searchers will get what they’re looking for.
In other words, you need to think about Google – and you need to know that Google is thinking about people. Your site can and should use local keywords, but you also need:
#4: Advertise on Facebook
Facebook advertising might already be in your marketing mix, but are you using it properly? Recent changes to Facebook’s algorithms have made it imperative for local business to pay to get their content in front of subscribers.
In addition to traditional image ads, here are some of the Facebook ads you may want to try:
#5: Add Video to Your Google My Business Listing
Until recently, Google My Business listings allowed businesses to list their hours and post photos. Now, it’s possible for business owners to add a short video to their listing as well.
Videos are limited to 30 seconds. For that reason, you’ll need to be mindful of what you include – and focus on the things that are most likely to convince people to visit your business.
Here are some suggestions:
#6: Create a Facebook Event
Facebook Events are free to create and provide a way for local businesses to hype upcoming events, connect with potential customers, and increase attendance.
The next time you’re having a sale, try creating a Facebook Event. You can upload a unique image, add details of the event, and post updates to remind people about it. Once the event is created, you’ll be able to send invitations to your followers.
You can also encourage your followers to share the event with their friends. This technique is also good if you’re participating in a community event or sponsoring a charity.
It’s time to turn 2018 into the year that led to your biggest success…
… and these six tips can help you do it. Marketing a local business online isn’t easy. The key is to choose the right techniques – and then employ them to help you connect with your target audience, attract leads, and ultimately, make the sales that will propel your business into the future.