Local Search: 6 Types of Data to Include in Your Local Listings

Local search is one of the best ways to generate leads. A quality local search presence starts with taking control of your business listings and providing the key points of data that consumers are looking for as they make purchase decisions.
The type of information you can provide varies by publisher, but you should make sure to include these 6 types of data in all your local listings to ensure that your online presence is cohesive and consistent.

1. Business Name, Address, Phone Number, and Hours

Make sure you enter this information exactly the same way across all sites and apps to avoid duplicate entries (e.g. don’t submit Joe’s Towing to one site and Joe’s Towing, Inc. on another). This can cause a less than optimal experience for consumers who may be looking at your listings in multiple places.

2. Service Area

If you have a business that doesn’t have a physical street address, or one that offers deliveries to a specific region, you’ll want to include your service area.

3. Business Categories

Select relevant business categories, as these are the keywords consumers will use to locate a specific business, product, or service. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant that serves pizza and subs, you might choose the categories Restaurant, Pizza, Subs, and Italian.

4. Your Business Description

Provide a concise description of your business that includes the city and state you service.

5. Relevant Keywords

Use keywords whenever possible so that local consumers can find the information they need. This provides a positive experience for the consumer.

6. Rich Content and Links

In addition to your basic information, you can also include rich content such as photos, menus, product and service lists, videos, special offers, and more. Additionally, you can provide links to your company website, social media accounts, and directions to help people find you online and in person.

The Bottom Line

Providing cohesive, detailed information about your business on listings sites and apps will ensure that consumers can find you when they perform a local search, which means more leads for your business.

Want to learn more about how you can use local listings to benefit your small business? Download our free eBook, The Mechanics of Local Listings today.

How to Land New Leads with Content Marketing

The term content marketing has been thrown around for a while now in the business world, and it’s becoming increasingly popular as a lead generation mechanism. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of business-to-consumer marketers plan to employ content marketing in 2014.
But what exactly is content marketing, and how can you use it to generate leads for your small business? This article will address both questions.

What Is Content Marketing?

In short, content marketing encompasses any marketing method that involves creating and sharing content in order to acquire new customers.

What’s the Purpose of Content Marketing?

Rather than selling a specific product or service, content marketing is focused on providing valuable information to readers. The goal is to inspire interest and brand loyalty among online readers who will then become more likely to turn into revenue-generating customers for your business.

What Kinds of Content Can Work for My Business?

The great thing about content marketing is that it can take many forms. You’ll need to consider what makes sense for your business in terms of your industry, personal interests, and staff bandwidth as you put together a content plan. Here are a few types of content you can use to generate leads:

  • Blog Posts: Hosting a blog for your business is an easy way to share valuable advice or entertaining content with prospective leads.
  • Social Media Posts: Social channels allow you to share news, information, and other engaging content with both current customers and potential leads.
  • Videos & Photos: Share quick insights, show behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business, and spotlight happy customers with visual content.
  • How-to Guides, Whitepapers and eBooks: More in-depth publications such as how-to guides, whitepapers, and eBooks can provide real value to consumers and generate concrete leads you can follow up with about your products or services.
  • Tips and Comments: Providing tips on forums or commenting on review sites with helpful information can also generate leads if you link back to your business website.

When Should I “Gate” Content?

Marketers often talk about “gating” premium content. “Gating” simply means requiring a user to submit contact information (name, phone number, email) in order to access a particular asset.

Generally, more in-depth pieces of content such as how-to guides, whitepapers, and eBooks are the kinds of items marketers will “gate.” Requiring contact information from viewers will, by necessity, turn some people away. Keep in mind that whatever kind of content you offer has to be worth a reader “paying” for it with their information.

The Bottom Line

Content marketing can take many forms, depending on your audience and industry. Developing and publishing great content will take time and effort, but the effort will be worthwhile when you start landing new leads—and converting those leads into customers.

Lead Generation for a New Generation

As a small business owner, you know that the two primary ways to grow your business are to retain customers longer and to generate new business by converting leads.
Digital marketing has made it much easier to identify and track leads as they interact with you online. It has also opened doors to a variety of new channels by which you can communicate with potential customers.

But what exactly are these channels, and how you can take advantage of them fully to connect with interested consumers online? Here are 5 things you can do to generate new leads for your small business:

1. Optimize Your Business Website

There are two primary ways you can improve lead generation on your business’s website: make it easier to find your site online, and make it easier for consumers to contact you from your site.

The first step requires SEO, or search engine optimization. This involves making sure that your website content includes keywords that users will be searching for when they look for a business like yours online. These keywords can be incorporated into the text of your website, your company blog, or specific landing pages you create for marketing campaigns.

The second step requires optimizing your contact page so that leads can reach you without a hassle. Make sure your phone number, store hours, and email address are easy to find. A direct contact form on your site can also help streamline the communication process for consumers.

2. Produce and Distribute Free Content

As we discussed in December, content marketing will be one of the major small business trends in 2014. In terms of lead generation, content can include open-access pieces such as blog posts and social media, as well as longer pieces of content such as eBooks, whitepapers, and how-to guides that can be downloaded only after a user enters their contact information.

This latter type of lead generation is valuable because you’re able to get more information from the customer to promote future communications. If a user is willing to fill out a form to download a content piece, they’re also more likely more interested in your product or service than a casual reader of your social channels or blog.

3. Update Your Local Listings

If you don’t host your own business website—or even if you do—having up to date, detailed local listings on search engines, review sites, and mobile apps is extremely important for generating new leads. The more information you provide to users, especially rich content like menus, product and service lists, photos, and announcements, will increase your chances of converting leads on these sites into paying customers. SinglePlatform can help you manage and enhance your local listings without the headache of manually updating your information on multiple sites.

4. Actively Manage Online Reviews

Keeping up with your online reviews is an essential factor in generating new leads. A Search Engine Land survey revealed that 72% of respondents trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 52% are swayed by positive online reviews.

However, no business will ever receive great feedback from 100% of its customers. That’s why it’s important for you to actively monitor your online reviews so that you can respond to any negative feedback appropriately. Not only will your participation improve customer retention and inform improvements for your business, but it will also make a positive impact on lead generation as well.

5. Share Referrals and Testimonials

As with online reviews, customer referrals and testimonials are a great way to generate new leads. Employing the power of word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging your customers to share with others—and by sharing your customers’ stories directly with your audience—can help you drum up new business with relatively little effort.

The Bottom Line

These 5 lead generation techniques will get you started, but there are a variety of others you can employ as well. Consider which strategies will be most effective for your type of business, who will manage implementing them, and how much time and money you’ll need to invest before adjusting your lead generation plan.

Inbound Marketing: An Overview for Small Business

Small business marketing is evolving rapidly, and one of the biggest shifts in recent years has been from traditional outbound marketing (advertising, sponsorships, partnerships, etc.) to inbound marketing. But what, exactly, is inbound marketing? What does it entail, and why is it worth the effort? Read on for the answers.
What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the umbrella term for marketing tactics that help consumers find and connect with your business through unpaid means. The main goal of inbound marketing is to create value, provide help, and educate/entertain an audience.

Why Is Inbound Marketing Effective?

Rather than disrupting people as they go about their business online, inbound marketing reaches consumers where they are with information that is relevant and interesting to them.

Inbound marketing also encourages engagement and participation by consumers on a brand’s behalf. Instead of being a one-way conversation, with the business talking at the consumer, inbound marketing promotes a two-way conversation between consumers and brands.

What Are Inbound Marketing Techniques?

When it comes to inbound marketing, content rules, whether it’s content you create from scratch or content you share from another source.

Some inbound marketing techniques include:

  • Social media
  • Online listings
  • Blog posts
  • Emails
  • Comments on online forums
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

How Much Does Inbound Marketing Cost?

Overall, inbound marketing costs about 62% less than outbound marketing in terms of budget. But there are additional costs associated with inbound marketing that have nothing to do with money. It takes time and talent to produce and curate great content. It also requires a strategy and dedicated resources to get involved in conversations where your potential customers are online.

The good news is that, while inbound marketing is labor-intensive, it definitely pays off. According to a recent HubSpot survey, inbound marketing generates 54% more leads than outbound sources, and the cost per lead is lower across all inbound marketing channels.

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t already started to invest in inbound marketing for your small business, or if your inbound investment is minimal, consider adjusting your strategy for 2014 to take advantage of all that inbound has to offer.