F500 Advertisers Strategize Better, But SEO Still Offers SMBs Growth Opportunities

Recent research has shown that many small advertisers spend all of their marketing budgets online. These businesses, like poker players, go all-in: investing their entire marketing budget on Google and Facebook ads.

Recent research has shown that many small advertisers spend all of their marketing budgets online. These businesses, like poker players, go all-in: investing their entire marketing budget on Google and Facebook ads.

Large businesses approach the online space differently. They apportion their considerable advertising dollars across online and traditional media, seeking synergy in their efforts.

Small business owners often wear many hats and cannot, or rather do not, spend a lot of time on developing marketing strategies. They simply have too few people trying to do too many tasks. Neglecting to budget resources, whether time or money, for localized SEO has significant opportunity costs for these businesses.

Put the Customers Ahead of Rankings

The mobile-first Google environment gives small local businesses chances to shine in search that previously were unavailable. The big brands crowded them out at the top of the listings.

Today, by strategically optimizing the site for the business location, a small business can show up for targeted local searches more easily than it ever has before. The key to this visibility is to make sure that the site offers what an out-of-town searcher might look for as well, as the local clientele.

Create a customer-first, local-first approach to achieve success.

Here is an example of a customer-first, local strategy:

I recently sadly had to look for where to purchase funeral flowers to send to a funeral home in an area that I was unfamiliar with. I found a florist in the area by searching for “flowers for funeral + place name.” Not only did the florist’s site include content on flowers for funerals, but it even had confidence-inspiring photos of some of its work. The phone number was prominently displayed, and I immediately called and made my purchase. My curiosity was pricked, and I asked several questions and found out that the shop was local, not part of a chain, and had carved out several niches in the flower market, including flowers for funerals. Although very busy, the owners had developed a marketing strategy and developed their site to bring in the right customers.

As fate would have it, I encountered another florist in another town, griping about how online is hurting her business. The local shop did not have a clear strategy or even an up-to-date site and was relying on online ads for marketing. The contrast was sharp.

Glom Onto the Free Stuff First

SEO is more than just optimizing the site. For small businesses, there are search freebies that should not be missed. Here are just a few.

  • Google My Business is free. It takes a few hours to set up a business listing. This is the table stakes, so to speak, and many businesses set up a very basic listing and fail to flesh it out or keep it up-to-date. Accuracy is important, particularly for small businesses that have storefronts. It is always amazing to look at a listing and realize that it does not reflect current hours of operation. Additionally, for businesses that are tucked into strip malls, listings that include storefront pictures help bring live customers to the businesses.
  • Yelp and TripAdvisor offer free listing services that any qualifying business should take advantage of to improve its online visibility. Both are large sites and often dominate the top search listings, so the old adage applies: If you can’t beat them, join them.
  • Facebook Pages combined with Facebook Ads create a powerful one-two marketing punch. Just as with Google My Business, it is important to go beyond the very basics and create a page that engages and informs. I am an avid, but awful, golfer — and my personal Facebook feed includes postings from several golf courses. One simply posts pictures, no engagement required. They are merely pretty pictures, and do create an urge to go play the course. Another course recently posted a short post, asking folks to rate — by difficulty — the three Par 5 holes on the course. This post drew instant engagement with many ratings, comments, and likes as responses. This lively engagement created a desire to play the course, just to test out those difficulty ratings that I had assigned. Both courses post regularly on- and off-season, so they always have a share of mind. Both are small businesses looking beyond the ads for their online marketing.

Take Our 2019 Budgets Survey, Win Up to $300!

How to spend your budget is one of the most important questions every marketer has to answer. Whether it’s a department budget, social media budget, AdWords budget or any other, how you allocate those resources is the difference between failure and success. Help us figure out where marketers are putting their money for 2019, and you’ll have the chance to enter to win one of three gifts card for $300, $100 and $100, respectively.

TL/DR: If you just want to know how to get the money, click here and take our survey to enter to win!

We’re working on the latest Target Marketing research, and I need your help to make it a success.

How to spend your budget is one of the most important questions every marketer has to answer. Whether it’s a department budget, social media budget, AdWords budget or any other, how you allocate those resources is the difference between failure and success.

That’s why our latest research is the most important to date: The 2019 Marketing Budgets Survey.

Our goal is to collect data on marketing budgets that will turn into a series of actionable budgeting reports on three key areas: Content Marketing, Google AdWords and Social Media, as well as some baseline budgets research. With your help, these reports will reveal how your peers are spending their budgets on these areas, and give you a solid baseline to build your own budget.

The survey is only a few pages, and should take about 15 minutes of your time. And if you do help us, you’ll have the chance to enter to win one of three gifts card for $300, $100 and $100 respectively.

Click here to take the survey, and you could win one of $500 in prizes! 

Thank you for your support in all of our research. I can’t wait to share the results with you in the next issue of Target Marketing and through this series of essential reports.

The Digital and Content Team: Is Splintering a Verb?

In this post we explore the organization of a digital and content team, which we will call “the digital team,” and may include the designers and producers of the website and other digital properties. How you do organize around content and the website at your firm? Is your website appropriately categorized as content and managed out of this group?

target_marketing_blog_part5_1In last month’s blog post, I discussed the ideal demand generation group structure and exactly which functions are best centralized within. In this post we will explore the organization of a digital and content team, while touching upon Web designers, producers and other digital properties.

How you do organize your firm’s content and website? Is your website appropriately categorized as content and managed out of this group?

The Digital and Content Group

The charter of a digital and content group might look something like this:

Create compelling content to drive higher customer and prospect engagement, resulting in more qualified leads for sales. In addition, we will create a fluid customer experience, whether it is through inbound or outbound communications, to create one company feel.

Notice the word “engagement” in there? Companies are spending up to 30 percent of their marketing budgets on content and many have no clue if said content is actually engaging their prospects and customers. Are you measuring the level of engagement with each piece of content you produce today?

The digital and content group is the source of fuel for the demand generation engine. The group builds a roadmap based on input from the subject-matter experts (SMEs), product marketing, sales, requirements gathered from the demand generation team, field marketing and other marketing teams.

If you agree with my premise that the website is content, and as such belongs in the group where content for other media is created, then we arrive at an organizational crossroads. Do the search-, display- and paid-traffic gurus (or agencies) who are traditionally tightly linked to the website designers and producers also belong in this group? Or, since their function is really demand generation, do they splinter from their website production comrades and move into the demand generation group? I won’t rehash what I said in the last post on this, but suffice it to say most organizations have kept them in the same group — at least for now. So the organization chart probably looks like this:

target_marketing_blog_part5_2As marketing organizations shift toward building omnichannel campaigns in order to give prospects and customers a consistent multichannel experience, the inbound team is forced ever-closer to the marketing automation team in the demand generation group. If you leave your inbound and social team in the digital and content group, ensure they develop a very tight relationship with the demand generation team, as they will be working together more and more.

The Traffic Manager

I’m going to digress for a minute here, but I assure you this will have implications for the organization of the content group. Let’s talk about the life of an asset — a piece of content. You find an SME in the firm to write up a nice whitepaper (WP) and you put it on the website and you’re done, right? Not so fast …

target_marketing_blog_part5_3Developing the core content, the basis for the subsequent assets, is probably a third of the battle. These days, extracting the value from the core content probably looks more like this:

  1. Develop the core content and produce the first asset (a WP, for example).
  2. Write a blog post to promote the WP.
  3. Write email copy to promote WP with outbound email channel.
  4. Write landing page (LP) copy.
  5. Write ad copy if you are going to do some display ads or paid search to promote WP.
  6. Get a creative designer involved to add the graphics and images for all of the above …