Google Plus or Google My Business- what’s the difference?

Google Plus or Google My Business- what’s the difference?

There are always changes in local SEO services with Google and Facebook. Recently there has been some Google services changes and additions that you should be aware of and how they might affect your online presence. There has been some confusion between Google Plus and Google My Business. So why do you need these free online services from Google, which ones are right for your business type and what do they do to help your business?

Google Plus (Google+)

This is Google’s social media page which is similar to Facebook and allows share links, videos, pictures, and other content with people who share your interests. Having a Google+ Page is good for online recognition and it helps with your SEO rankings as it’s tied into Google’s search engine. So if your business model doesn’t have a physical location and requires an online brand presence, then this tool should be set up.

Google My Business (GMB)

This online marketing tool allows your customers to find your business locally by providing mapping, hours of operation, photos and reviews of your business. GMB is really designed for businesses that have a physical location, but you can add a home-based business or services business too. GMB will help your business rank better with local searches and provide insights of the results. Recently a basic web page, promotional posting has been added and Google Adwords Express will now display ads for increased exposure.

Summary

Google My Business is a dashboard that allows you to see different kinds of information that relates to how your business is found on Google. Google Plus is a social network that allows you to more closely connect with your online visitors. Most businesses are aware of one or both of these Google tools, but the industry has changed over the years.

This summer might be a good time to set up these services and integrate them with your current online marketing efforts. Start by getting a Google account if you don’t have one, then set up Google My Business to get found by local searchers or Google Plus Page to engage people interested in your type of business or nonprofit.

Realtors need a cutting edge for marketing – Part 2

Realtors need a cutting edge for marketing – Part 2

Must-have Video Marketing – It’s no secret that video is a hot marketing tool with Facebook likes and views 10-20 times over text postings. Creating quality video is important so avoid mobile phone recordings and uploads. It’s best to use a professional along with good editing for the best results. For the the best ROI, I would recommend only using videos for your high-end homes and properties.

Use Social Media  – Beyond just photos today, Instagram is a great help tool for real estate agents as photos can be geo-targeted and very useful for location based services.  As a real estate agent it’s all about networking and referrals as we discussed, so LinkedIn is a natural opportunity to target a more professional market. But be careful, these folks won’t put up with a lot of promotion or advertising so just network or post your informative blogs. Last but not least, whether you like it or not, you must use Facebook in todays online world. Your Facebook Page should match the look and feel of your website. Make sure you add a good call to action button, upload good quality photos and videos and make sure you post regularly about topics, not just you listings.

Integrated Blogging – If you’re not a writer, this tool is not right for you unless a friend or family member can be your ghost writer. Having said that, you may want to consider the huge benefits of blogging. Blogging is a more passive means of establishing your credibility as an expert in your field and it dramatically increase your SEO (getting found by web searchers). Start with embedding the free ones either www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com but the best way is to add it to your WordPress website.

Online Paid Advertising – For the novelist, Facebook Ads are a good place to begin and the are highly affordable. They also cater to the DIY market so set up and management are not required. Keep in mind these are display ads and not search ads. It’s kicking your marketing up a notch, but not breaking the bank. Google’s relativity new Adwords Express offer an affordable and more simple way to set up search ads to help your website rank better from the start. Retargeting should be put in place so people that click on your ads see your ads again during other searches.

Gorilla Marketing – This is the “ultimate thinking outside the box” marketing. It would include things like dropping off gifts for recent homeowners, handing out flyers door to door, having a table at the local mall, doing a local radio interview, or advertising on a bus or park bench. As far as your creative mind goes, so do the ideas.

It’s the best kept secrets that keep people wanting to know what you’re up to.  These tools aren’t secret anymore but how you use them is your cutting edge in marketing yourself.  

Realtors need a cutting edge for marketing  – Part 1

Realtors need a cutting edge for marketing – Part 1

So you’ve been a realtor for a while now or perhaps you just started. As you probably know, your industry is all about marketing yourself, your Realty services and how you are different from all the rest of the agents. Perhaps these current ideas might help you get the competitive edge, increase your listings and attract new buyers. Here’s what I’ve seen and used for the tops sellers in your industry. Perhaps they might work for your real estate sales and marketing efforts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an affordable, effective marketing tool with one of the best ROI’s in the marketing world. To build your list, add signup to your website, your Facebook page and your email signature. To improve signups, offer incentives; ideally something of good value to subscribers, but low cost to you. To get more opens with email marketing, keep your subject lines short and interesting. Reminder to keep your readers educated, not sold to. Use email automation that will trigger from signups sending out welcomes, birthday wishes and timed email series about you, your company segregate topics of interest and demographics.

Website Lead Capture

Most real estate agents use some form of sales CRM for leads, opportunities and task tracking. Using this sales tool has proven to increase sales opportunity to close ratios up to 24% by making sure that all leads are followed up in a timely manner. Most CRM’s have web to lead forms that can be added to your website to automate your lead generation process. Of course it goes without saying, your website has to be found, so good SEO settings must be made on and off your website so Google searchers will find you.   

Build A Referral Program 

As many of you know, one of the best ways to secure new business is through referrals from your past clients that are “happy campers.” Often these referrals are coming from friends and family. In fact, studies show that referrals and repeat business makes up 82 percent of all the business signed with real estate agents. However, it’s also a well known fact the only 11-12% of sales people ask for them. Therefore, it’s good to make a conscious effort to have a referral request conversation. Make sure it’s done through a natural dialogue so as not to appear desperate.

Get 5 Star Reviews

It couldn’t be easier to get reviews today with website widgets and social media. People are looking for and believe the reviews from other people. In fact, statistics say 88-89% percent of consumers look for 5 star ratings for businesses. Close friends or family referrals have been a proven way to spread the good word about good realtor services. This means making a conscience effort to ask for good referrals to use for your reviews of your quality services online.  

Use A Professional

It might be worthwhile to take a few things like marketing off your plate. Did you know that the average business owner spends 20 hours a week on marketing? Besides, why wear so many hats and still only end up with average results and possibly harm your personal brand? It might be a good idea to hire a professional marketing agency or freelancer to take on the challenge. Good rule of thumb: spend 10% of your annual revenues on marketing for moving forward results.

To be on the cutting edge of Realtors today, you need a cutting edge. Watch for part 2. Same time, same place next week.

Canadian Small Business – Happy 150th Anniversary

Canadian Small Business – Happy 150th Anniversary

Not only do I wish you Happy Canada Day, but as a proud Canadian, I want to take the opportunity to wish Canada a happy 150 years of being a nation. Keeping with the Canada’s birthday eh, I’d like to contribute some recent Canadian stats about websites and online marketing:

Top Canadian Marketing Factoid

  • 49% of small businesses have websites
  • 91% of websites are not mobile friendly
  • 85% of people search the web for businesses
  • 87% won’t consider a business with low ratings
  • Number one complaint is websites are not current
  • The most popular website platform is WordPress
  • Most small business websites have partial or poor SEO

Keeping those stats in mind, the next paragraph explains how business Canadian business owner markets their business. It’s unwrapping all those stats like unwrapping birthday presents.

What do Canadian small businesses need today?

Before any design or marketing is done, branding and identity must begin with a well designed one-of-a-kind logo. Once that’s, in place, a mobile responsive website should be designed. It should be clean and simple with a clear message and good quality photos. To support your website, branded social media pages need to be created and integrated as well. Adding video or an animated explainer video is always a great idea providing more engaging media. It’s like blowing out 150 candles if you will – a wow factor!

A website not found by searchers is simply web waste. Therefore, websites must include organic SEO settings to get found by searchers. To boost search results and ranking, pay per click advertising with Google Adwords is recommended for more instant SEO results. Regular postings with blogging and posting in social media pages, will also improve business ranking with searchers.

The most effective marketing with the best ROI starts by reaching out to existing customers with email marketing campaigns. Along with this, triggered email automation sending a single or series of emails based on customer interactions is recommended. Marketing automation can increase lead generation, thereby reducing a marketing team’s time and improving the selling process blending sales CRM and marketing efforts.

Oh Canada!

There’s nothing greater than being a Canadian. So what does that mean for Canadian businesses? It means it’s time to create a mobile responsive website, have proper SEO settings to get found and acquire current up-to-date content. Using the website as a hub, marketing stays current with automation. It’s kinda like Canada’s birthday – 150 years in 2017 is up-to-date. Happy Birthday Canada – God keep our land glorious and free!

Untangle the difference between email and marketing automation

Untangle the difference between email and marketing automation

If you have been reading my blogs or just doing a bit of research, you are likely wondering what the difference is between email automation and marketing automation. Furthermore, you might be asking yourself, “When do I use them, why should I use them and what types of businesses can use them?”  Just so you don’t get all tangled up, let’s first discuss the basic differences between the two online digital marketing tools.

Email Automation

This is intertwined into email marketing of which most of us have been using for the last decade as a push marketing tool. It’s kinda the cat’s meow because it’s used to email messages out to our customers and clients. The next level of email marketing is email automation which has been happening over the past several years. It’s now available to the small business owners, (not just the “big boys”.) This automated email system allows single or multiple emails to be triggered, timed and personalized to reach specific people based on their activities. A great example is a series of timed on-boarding emails triggered by a new customer purchase sending a welcome, more product information and a few user tips.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation system is simply the combination and integration of a cloud based sales CRM (customer relationship management) and email automation. As sales and marketing teams merge together these days (finally!) this powerful and”purrrfect” combination streamlines and improves both buying and selling processes. Buyers are now more informed and feel less pressure thus improving the buying experience. Salespeople can spend more time with clients face to face while the email automation is working behind the scenes preparing potential buyers with solid product and services education. It also helps with the setting up the selling process.

So what type of businesses use these tools?  

Email automation can be used for both B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business) type of businesses. However, marketing automation from my experience, is really designed for B2B companies with a sales team. (although I’m sure those selling software may disagree).  As an example, B2C businesses with online stores need email automation to encourage more buyers from abandoned shopping carts, specials and similar products to complete their purchases. A typical B2B company can use email automation with their triggered series of timed educational emails along with sign ups. Marketing automation in B2B improves lead generation and increases sales conversation rates.

Now that your questions have been answered, there’s one final important step: no matter what business type you have or the type marketing you choose, once you purchase these tools, they must be implemented. Not doing so would be a ‘cat’astrophe. After all, business is all about ROI. If you are going to invest in email and marketing automation, be prepare to lose a bit of time knowing that the initial loss will be your greatest gain.

Pay per click advertising is not child’s play

Pay per click advertising is not child’s play

Most of us are aware the new way of promoting your products, services or brand today requires organic SEO to make sure you’re found. However, the red bull of getting found instantly is PPC (pay per click) advertising and the king of ads, Google Adwords. Having said that, from my experience, due to the complexity of the set up, PPC programs are not child’s play. Using marketing skills like copy-writing, consistency and the time required for adjustments, most small business are best to use a trained marketing agency for the best ROI. Why waste your ad budget dollars? However, I want to address common questions, explain a few terms and provide a few advertising tips for all those DYI small business owners and partners.

Why Google Adwords?

  1. To attract more customers to your website, increase your online sales, keep the phones ringing and bring customers in your business.
  2. To reach out to the right people at the right time getting your business found exactly when customers are searching for your products or services.
  3. To promote locally, nationally or globally, targeting your customers in specific locations or within a radius around your business.

What’s the difference between Adwords and Adwords Express?

A brief overview comparison shows many of the features are the same. On the other hand, Adwords express is easier to understand and set up for small business owners. Both are on a pay per click basis and show ads on Google search, maps and other related sites. Both are shown on mobiles and can target ads geographically, but here is where they differ: Adwords will work with other ad formats like video and mobile apps. Adwords Express offers an easy solution without a website and provide an automated management system.

Types of Adwords

Right now there are four basic categories of search: display, video and mobile ads. This has been increased from one category over the past few years and has been reduced from five last year. Search ads appear next to Google search results when people look for products and services. Display ads are like Facebook ads reaching people across all types of devices to over two million websites. Most of us have seen video ads as we watch YouTube. These types are only relevant ads targeted to the right people. Businesses only pay when they are viewed by the reader so your business doesn’t waste money. Finally, app type of ads gets your mobile app in front of the right audience to promote to iOS or Android smartphone users.

Keys areas to make your ads successful

Copy-writing– since ads are based on ad copy-writing, using the right combination of words and phrases are required for success. You must make your questions and statements in concise short phrases to be effective.

Keywords – take the time to select the right keywords or phrases that your customers use in your target area. This can be a daunting task, but Google has some tools to use or Adwords Express has some automation tools to scan your website for them.

Ad Budgets – this task as well can make or break the bank. Since it’s a bidding process, setting up your keywords bid amount needs to come close to your competition’s bids. There are help tools for those from Google, but learning to do it well can be challenging at best.

Landing Pages – without a hidden landing page built into your website, your Adwords no matter how well written, will not convert your “clicks into cash”. Your ad budget needs the best ROI to make sense, so make sure time is spent on a good marketing landing page. It should address customers issues and your solution. Make sure to add good “call to actions”.

So, if you’re a DIYer and you run into difficulty, you can chalk it up to child’s play. However, to help you make sense of pay per click ads, take the Google training courses and get good at setting up and running ads. Or better still, take the task off your plate and hire a professional to get better results with your hard earned money.

How can your small business benefit from eCommerce?

How can your small business benefit from eCommerce?

Many small businesses now acknowledge the true value of a quality and responsive website as the hub for their online presence. They are also learning how marketing automation can save their time. Ecommerce is the next logical step to automate the buying process. Your business can increase revenues while you are running an organization or addressing other pressing matters. It’s the best way to take away the stress of bringing in more money.

Business to Business

Not every business model requires an online shopping cart, but many business to business companies are realizing the potential of improving cash flow. This means using eCommerce to set up invoice payments online as well as recurring payments to save collecting costs. Ecommerce provides logins to access accounts for payments and can embed a small purchase area for common transactional purchases.

Business to Consumer

Selling to customers directly today may require an online store to capture a new audience in order to improve business revenues and profits. By using eCommerce, even beginning with online payments for services, products and deposits on a secure website has proven beneficial for many companies. Setting up recurring payments and customer account logins for payments can improve collection methods.

Blended Online Shopping

Many small businesses have store fronts, but to compete today, these businesses have shifted to a blended selling model with eCommerce by incorporating store sales along with a mirrored online store. This way they can capture new customers searching on the internet for products, services and downloads.

Home-based and Micro Businesses

This one is a no-brainer one would think as it’s usually the sole proprietor with little time or assistance. But many design businesses, yard maintenance companies, photographers, DJ’s wedding planners, cake decorators, health product distributors etc, really should set up online payments to make billing easier and faster.

Non- Profits and Charities

These type of organizations depend on donors, volunteers and usually run on very tight budgets. With many of the population today, cash isn’t on hand for donations required at fundraisers and events. Ecommerce is there to aid the revenue stream, recommend online payments and donations on websites and mobiles.

Bottom-line, whether you’re a small business B2B or B2C, a storefront, a home-based company, a micro business or charity, it couldn’t be easier today to set up some form of online payment in our internet based society. I understand some business owners like “old school” payments. However, to keep competitive it may require a change. After all, your ‘change’ may just make (dollars) and sense. (cents).

What’s all the noise about marketing automation?

What’s all the noise about marketing automation?

Its best to define what marketing automation is and then discuss the benefits. Marketing automation in layman’s terms is simply “the combined automation process of a sales and marketing using cloud software”. How can it help your small business? It’s saves your time and effort by providing a more effective way to market and communicate to your customers.

Who is marketing automation designed for?

These combined software services are designed for a B2B (business to business) type of company for sales and marketing teams. Sales leads from your inbound marketing efforts such as organic SEO and Google Adwords, are routed to the sales CRM (customer relation management) for salespeople to follow up and close. The automation process continues to inform and send more leads to existing clients.

What are the key areas within marketing automation?

It starts with contact management for the whole team. Contact management gives complete contact information to sales people, as well as inside support and marketing teams. This allows all groups to know everything they need to know before reaching out to customers. Second, in order to reach out to customers, getting to the heart of software integration is the kind of marketing automation that is easy to use and simple to apply. Practically speaking, this means A.Email campaigns which educate and inform. B. Auto responders to greet and C. Behavior triggered emails to keep in touch. Third, to complete the cog in the wheel, sales automation integrates sales follow-ups with personalized auto responders and a series of emails to educate and inform as a pre-sales tool. Finally, on-boarding after the sale can be automated to save time and foster better business relationships.

Summary of marketing automation benefits

  • Modernizes small business marketing
  • Completely integrates sales and marketing efforts
  • Provides better company branding and consistency
  • Generates more qualified leads
  • Gives better customer buying process
  • Manages leads and opportunities better
  • Increases cash flow with eCommerce
  • Improves click to conversion rates
  • Saves more management and employee time

So go ahead and make some noise, improve your marketing process, engage with your customers or clients and save some valuable time along the way.

How do you stop sales and marketing from being a tug of war?

How do you stop sales and marketing from being a tug of war?

Is your sales and marketing a tug of war?

Having come from a corporate sales and marketing background, I saw many sales and marketing departments very disconnected and disjointed – almost like a tug of war. Today we see the value of a connected and coordinated sales and marketing team.  Paradigm shift has gone from 80/20 percent sales/marketing ratio in the selling cycle to 80/20 percent marketing/sales. Therefore, the need for the two to coexist in harmony is even more important. Integrating the two related departments incorporates these three things: lead generation, automation and consistent messages. It’s harmony instead of tug of war.

How do you connect the two?

Today connecting sales and marketing has never been more possible. Communication and marketing software is the key. There’s now no reason to be at either end of the rope. On the sales side, cloud based CRM integrated with email programs allows contact, tasks, calendar and file sharing on any device, anywhere there is an internet connection.  As for marketing, leads for sales can be generated from both inbound and outbound marketing efforts. Sales leads and outbound automation help salespeople to focus on closing the deals. The pre- sale process has now become a thing of the past. Technically, combining a CRM with marketing tools requires an API (application program interface) key or code. It’s the connecting glue.

What type of software is required?

The type of software that makes these work are cloud based and are known as SaaS (software as a service). There are two ways to incorporate sales and marketing software together: The first option combines your choice of SaaS services and is very affordable. However, it requires few API skills. The other method is to purchase the new all in one services. However, you should be aware that there is a premium monthly fee and a substantial on-boarding fee. Common SaaS for separate services might be something like Salesforce for a CRM and Mailchimp for email automation API’d together. This combination starts around several hundred annually depending on the number of users and subscribers. The top brands for these all-in-ones are Hubspot and Infusionsoft. These two with on-boarding costs begin at thousands per year versus the hundreds previously mentioned.

What can be done with integrated sales and marketing?

There are lots of API integrations, but here are some common applications: By using a good CRM, not only can salespeople integrate activities and tasks into their email program, but they can also offer embedded lead generation to come from email campaigns, websites and ad landing pages. Signups can trigger welcomes, send out an education series of emails and notify clients on anniversaries or birthdays. Website eCommerce can streamline common transactional items to allow salespeople to work with more complex sales cycles. All of these actions have full management reporting for activities and results. Keep in mind that both solutions still require internal labour costs to create content and coordinate actions between the two teams.

Your marketing and sales could coexist in harmony

I’ve just tugged on the rope regarding sales and marketing integration. However, the point is to inform you about the benefits and provide you with some idea of their practical uses. Your marketing and sales tug of war could in fact, exist in harmony. I welcome your thoughts and inquires.

Is there a right time for outsourcing?

Is there a right time for outsourcing?

Nowadays most of us wear too many hats. We quite often end up running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, hats and all, only to find out we never got our tasks completed or we stress ourselves out. Then, even the tasks we’ve finally completed are substandard or late due to the lack of attention we should have given them if we were able to ‘stay on task’. Over many years in corporate sales and marketing, I believe I have learned the secret to this problem. If you are running your own business or are a partner in a small business, learning to stick to your core competencies, not only frees up your schedule, but allows you to focus on more important tasks. Outsourcing your other tasks to capable experts usually costs less in the long run and the work done by professionals usually elevates the level of quality.

So when is it the right time to outsource?

As in most business decisions, timing is always everything. Learning how and when to let go takes time and experience. If you and your team are wearing too many hats, I believe the signs to outsource are when the tasks are not getting done in a timely manner, when completed projects appear to be substandard and important deadlines are being missed when a priority was shifted to other work. For small business owners, it just makes sense to outsource services like accounting, payroll, IT services and marketing especially from a business startup. For more established companies, outsourcing is logical as your company grows. You can then spend profits on expansion costs and additional payroll. Without getting into manufacturing outsourcing and the political debate that goes with that, most outsourcing allows a good use of company funding.

Top Reasons for Outsourcing

  1. Reduce Payroll Burden – outsourcing services can saving money
  2. Focusing on Core Business – free up time to focus on core business processes
  3. Lower Regulatory Costs – reducing delay in regulatory choices
  4. More Tax Breaks – take advantage of lower corporate tax rates
  5. Improved Service – many times outsources professionals can increase service quality
  6. Risk Management – less risk outsourcing than risking internal resources locally
  7. Freeing Up Internal Resources – wasted time with employees in areas not focused on core functions
  8. Peace of Mind – contract agreements offer protection for both parties
  9. More Efficiency – companies can spend months training only to have staff leave
  10. Greater Flexibility – provides the ability to expand or downsize quickly

I would highly recommend the next time you need to reduce costs or expand capabilities outside your field of expertise, that you consider the benefits of outsourcing professionals versus keeping the tasks and projects with internal employees.