Category Archives: Uncategorized

Many small business owners know about online business directories but aren’t quite clear on how advantageous they are to their business. Online directories are not just a digital version of the Yellow Pages, where you have to fish through information and flip through pages to find what you’re looking for. They are comprehensive platforms that enable users to instantly identify, learn about, and contact businesses relevant to them. Online business directory listings can work wonders for your small business. This post will familiarize you with online business directories and the specific ways they benefit small businesses.

Types of Online Business Directories

An online business directory refers to an online database that connects users with relevant businesses. Directories contain a diverse range of information on each business, however, some may have a primary focus. Some of the more specific focuses of an online directory might be to:

•  Provide accurate customer reviews
•  Enable side-by-side comparisons
•  Use GPS and social media data to provide real-time results
•  Focus on a specific niche or industry

Online business directories can take the form of a website, app, and/or other platforms. They exist on the web, social media platforms, smartphones, and even on specific devices.

The Cost of Business Directories

There are many online directories for which listing your business is free. Some are free but require additional payment for special features, such as multiple locations or categories, including a website link or call to action, removing ads from your listing, or adding photos and video.

Benefits of Online Business Directories

Some small business owners mistake online directories as massive databases where their listing will just get lost in the shuffle. The truth is, these platforms have significant benefits for small businesses. Here are eight:

1. Amplify Your Online Presence

If you search for your business name on the internet, you will likely see your business show up in directories for which you never submitted a listing. This is because many business directories today pull from other larger directories and automatically create listings.

This means that getting listed in one directed usually means getting listed in several more, allowing you to kill two (or more) birds with one stone. On the flip side, sometimes the information doesn’t transfer over properly. It’s very important to check, claim, and update your listings frequently and regularly.

2. Improve Your Local Visibility

Though they are massive, online business directories have advanced filtering and suggesting capabilities, and serve to connect you with your target audience. As a local business, directories are beneficial because they make your business visible to your local community.

3. Get Discovered More

The typical online business directory allows users to search by specific criteria, such as service, location, and category. By simply entering complete and accurate information in your listing, the directory will then connect your business to the people searching for it, even if they don’t search your business name explicitly. This is highly beneficial because oftentimes, people don’t know to search a specific business name or the specific service they need.

4. Use Word of Mouth

Most online business directories have a customer review component, as word of mouth has always been a trusted source for consumers. With real-time and sharing capabilities of mobile devices, customers can now publish reviews more quickly—even during their experience. People seek out and trust online customer reviews today more than ever, so get listed in online business directories and you’ll be placed in a direct channel to your target audience.

5. Strengthen Your Business Reputation

The fear of negative reviews prevents many businesses from getting listed online, but this shuts them off from getting positive reviews too, which are essential for a good reputation. As long as you know how to properly handle one, the cost of one negative review is outweighed by the benefit of many positive reviews. Plus, a mix of reviews can even strengthen your reputation, as it shows that you are a genuine and healthy company that has nothing to hide.

6. Increase Brand Awareness

When a user performs a search in an online business directory, it will display a list of relevant results, each with a brief snapshot so that you can decide which one to click on to learn more. This means that even if a user doesn’t click on your listing, they still see your business. Every encounter a person has with your business increases their awareness and familiarity with your brand, which warms them up for further engagement.

7. Boost Your SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of providing your web content in such a way that search engines will favor it and rank it higher in results for applicable searches. A search engine wants to be trusted by its users, so the more information it can obtain from your website, and the more consistent that information is, the better you will rank. Online business listings are a great way to support and supplement your already existing information to give it that extra validation.

8. Show Up on Google

It is possible to get on the first page of Google through SEO practices, but it can take a few months to start seeing results. Online business directory sites, on the other hand, have been around for a while, have high amounts of traffic, and are for the most part trusted by search engines. Since Google likes these characteristics, its first page of search results regularly contain pages from online directories. If you get listed in an online business directory, you have a chance of benefitting from their well-established SEO and showing up on the first page of Google.

Online business directories have immense benefits, and neglecting them can actually hurt your business. So get started today with creating, claiming, and updating your listings online.

Jet Blue, Waldorf Astoria, and Biotherm all use digital advertising as a way to reach consumers.Image Credit: Jet Blue, Waldorf Astoria, Biotherm / Image Designed By: Blue Fountain Media

Jet Blue, Waldorf Astoria, and Biotherm all use digital advertising as a way to reach consumers.

Companies spend a significant amount of time and money on advertising and marketing their brand’s products or services.

It used to be that when you advertised on offline channels like TV and print, you just hoped for the best in terms of results. Now, with digital marketing and digital advertising you can track and tweak your ads for better performance as often as you need to. Unlike old-fashioned advertising, what I love about the digital world is it’s real time tracking. You can monitor and make improvements instantly, or adjust creative to a different media channel and that’s it—you’re done! This means you don’t have to shoot that commercial all over again if it’s not driving results, or you don’t need to re-create and republish a new print advertisement when you want to make a change. With digital advertising, you simply adjust the content as needed and you’re ready to go.

While the benefits of digital advertising can seem endless, as a brand how can you make sure you’re maximizing performance and boosting ROI? When implementing digital advertising campaigns, there are certain best practices to keep in mind to garner the best results possible. I’ve outlined these guidelines below and provided some simple steps to explain how these tactics can be integrated quickly and efficiently into your digital ad campaigns and day-to-day digital marketing:

  1. Clear Calls-To-Action

Buy Now, Book A Flight, Request A Quote–Whatever next step you want the user to take (which is typically the objective of your campaign) should be vibrantly displayed in your content.

Every successful advertising campaign contains a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA). This “button” tells the user what the next step is and is how they get from the advertisement back to your site, moving them further down the funnel and closer to the point of conversion.

When it comes to selecting a CTA, you want to focus on language that is relevant to your brand, service or products, and completely obvious to the user. Anything ambiguous can confuse the user, and even if they click on the CTA, arriving at an onsite page that doesn’t meet their expectations won’t result in a conversion. That being said, you want to avoid generic language like “learn more” or “read more”—while this can be relevant to what you’re promoting, it isn’t unique to your brand, or even your industry.

Jet Blue's digital ads feature compelling call-to-actions and unique messaging.Image Credit: Jet Blue

Jet Blue’s digital ads feature compelling call-to-actions and unique messaging.

JetBlue uses language tailored to their industry and brand in their digital ads, as seen above.

In the example below, Sotheby’s has a beautiful digital ad campaign that promotes different destinations. The imagery is striking (another must-have for successful digital advertising), the text is readable, and it’s ultimately a clean design. However, there is no real CTA. As a user, I could, of course, click on the ad and be directed to their site, but there is no real incentive to do so and no real button showing me what step to take next. Simply adding a CTA button to this ad would likely improve the performance of these campaigns and result in higher conversions.

One of Sotheby's digital advertisements is featured here.Image Credit: Sotheby’s International Realty

One of Sotheby’s digital advertisements is featured here.

  1. Compelling Messaging

It should come as no surprise that messaging is important. With any digital platform, messaging is critical as it’s the core communication with a potential customer. In terms of digital advertising, when you don’t have a ton of copy space or even time to capture user attention it’s important that messaging be compelling and, most importantly, succinct.

You lose the attention of most digital users in just a few seconds. That limited period of time is all that you have to capture interest. Stick to messaging that evokes emotion or encourages users to click on the ad, and keep it to just a short phrase. For many brands, this means highlighting their value proposition, showcasing their core values, or defining an incentive for the user.

Biotherm uses compelling messaging to encourage users to make a purchase.Image Credit: Biotherm

Biotherm uses compelling messaging to encourage users to make a purchase.

In the example above, Biotherm incentivizes the experience for the potential customer. Their core message “Enjoy Free Shipping + 25% Off All Orders” captures the user’s attention and for someone already interested in their products, it’s likely to be that last added touch to convert. For all brands, this is an incredibly well-done ad to take notes from. If you’re running a retargeting campaign where the user has already visited your site, for example, this type of incentivization could not only help you stay top of mind as the potential customer navigates other sites, but can serve as the final touchpoint before the user finally makes the purchase.

  1. Designated Landing Pages

Whatever the content you’re advertising is related to, you should always drive users to a page that is relevant to that content. This simple step will help to keep users on your site, offer a better user experience, and ultimately improve conversion rate.

If you’re an athletics brand and you’re advertising women’s running shoes in an AdWords campaign, sending users to your women’s running shoes page will help facilitate the conversion process. The more relevant the page is that you drive clicks to, the greater likelihood that the user will follow through and convert. After all, your advertisement has captured that user’s attention enough that they clicked on the ad, so the likelihood is they want more information pertaining to that specific subject – not general information you’d find about your brand an entire line of athletic attire on your homepage.

Sending users to your homepage instead of a designated landing page that is correlated to the particular campaign can be a costly mistake. Users generally won’t search your site for the item they’re looking for. As a brand, bringing the potential customer as close as possible to their unique needs and the point of conversion is not only the best approach but also the best user experience.

  1. Imagery Matters

For each of your digital campaigns, it’s essential that you think about where you’re serving users with these ads. The likelihood is that the ad will appear while the user is absorbing other content somewhere else online, so the way your ad appears visually is important.

Using high-quality imagery that is telling as to what the ad promotes is one of the most important features of all successful digital advertising campaigns. Failure to use imagery that is captivating or visually appealing doesn’t help capture the user’s attention. In the example below, Waldorf Astoria uses beautiful photos of their resorts to advertise to a targeted set of users. Not only does this stand out as the user scrolls through the page, it truly sparks interest.

Waldorf Astoria's beautiful imagery helps to enhance ad effectiveness. Image Credit: Waldorf Astoria

Waldorf Astoria’s beautiful imagery helps to enhance ad effectiveness.

For brands in the B2B space, or in industries where imagery may not be as “naturally” beautiful as a beachfront resort, there are still options. Focus on imagery that is bold, clean, and compelling. In a lot of ways, imagery should tell the story your brand is trying to convey and give the user a solid expectation of what you have to offer. This is especially important for new or potential customers who may not be familiar with your brand. If the imagery in your ads doesn’t stand out, they may not even recognize your brand or your products if they see them later on a different platform.

  1. Test, Monitor, And Test Again

You’ve probably heard it said many times, that for any marketing channel, testing the effectiveness of your efforts is important. When you’re running digital advertising campaigns, this is no exception. Without monitoring your campaigns, how are you able to identify areas to continue focusing on versus areas for improvement?

Sometimes, seemingly arbitrary factors like time of day, language choice, audience segment, or image selection can really play a role in the success of your campaigns. For that reason, it’s critical that you pay attention to these factors and monitor which campaigns have which varying elements. If you’re finding success with one campaign or finding an alternate campaign to be less effective, don’t be afraid to change it. A/B testing with digital ads, where you test ads with varying content, can be incredibly valuable when determining which messaging or content resonates best with your audience—and often for reasons, you can’t foresee.

Also, testing your ads before you implement them is critical. More times than I’d like, I’ve seen brands with fantastic ads pointing to the wrong pages, 404 pages, or with messaging targeted to an audience that I’m mistakenly segmented in. Take the time to make sure your ads appear as they should and direct users to the right pages. When little mistakes like this happen, not only have you wasted the resources spent on this particular campaign, you’ve also adversely impacted the user experience. This extra moment of testing can save your company a lot of money in the long run.

Driving Results With Digital Ad Campaigns

In this day and age, digital advertising holds a ton of potential. For most brands, it’s one of the most effective ways to get your company, products or services in front of a qualified and targeted user. However, if you’re not following the right guidelines to make your digital advertising as impactful as possible, the likelihood is that you won’t garner the results you’d most like to see. Keep in mind the above tips when crafting your campaigns and optimizing your conversion rate.

Source: Forbes ” 5 Digital Marketing Tips To Increase Your Brand’s Growth Online And Improve Ad Results”

1. Mobilfication

We’ve heard about mobile for the last few years, but for some crazy reason, many businesses are still not taking action. Stand in line anywhere nowadays and watch what people are doing. I can assure you they have their face buried in their mobile device. Mobile will continue to be a top priority for marketers for years to come.

Put a mobile strategy in place to engage with your prospects and customers. This means creating a mobile website but, depending on your business, mobile elements might include the ability to send text messages to your customers. For example, the restaurant industry can get away with sending texts once a week with specials, whereas a doctors office would be hard-pressed to send something so regularly.

I’d suggest starting off by sending two messages a month, one fun text and one promotional with a call to action. Once you get started, you’ll be able to quickly gauge how many messages your audience will respond to.

2. Media Properties

What type of business are you in? Regardless of your answer, I would challenge you to start thinking about your business as a media company. Where do you get most of your information about what’s going on in the world? Whether you read your news online or still read a paper copy, the news controls the conversation for the day, week or month.

The best way to control the conversation in front of your prospects and customers is to get in front of them with quality content. Launch one media platform that’s 100% focused on providing helpful, authentic content to your end customers. This could mean a podcast, a well-written and thought-out blog or even a live stream video that you film on a weekly basis. The business that produces the best (and most) content will come out on top.

3. Chatbots

Chatbots are all the rage as of late and for great reason. If you’re not familiar, think of them as a tool on the other side of a computer that can respond to your customers’ questions or comments. Chatbots are used for engagement, customer service issues, general questions and even closing business.

I’ve been testing them out the last six months and the results have been off-the-charts. The crazy thing is, if you set up the bot correctly, it’s very tough to tell if you’re talking to an actual person or a bot.

Launch a website or Facebook chatbot to engage with your prospects. Find something fun or engaging to start the conversation, as the prospect needs to initiate the chat. I’m a huge fan of data-driven marketing and have seen open rates exceed 80% or higher with an engaged audience. So, if you send 1,000 messages via your chatbot tool, chances are high that at least 800 people will see your message. Those rates are far superior to email open rates, making this a unique channel not to ignore.

4. Reviews

Organic traffic from SEO continues to be one of the best sources of web traffic for many businesses. While there are a lot of elements involved in ranking, the number of reviews you have is a key factor. Google looks at your Google reviews, Facebook reviews, Yelp reviews and more. Why would Google want to prioritize a business in the search rank that has a one-star rating?

While your reviews are essential for search engine rankings, they can also make or break a sale for you. According to research, half of the adults under the age of 50 regularly check online reviews before purchasing a new item. What will they find? I hope a substantial amount of positive reviews that makes the decision easy.

Put together a solid plan for getting reviews for your business. Be careful not to incentivize people (as this is not allowed), but instead have a system for asking for reviews.

5. Video

I expect to see more Facebook Live videos and a rise in web TV. In many surveys out there (like this one), consumers say they much prefer video over text. Video helps tell more compelling stories, gets your point across faster and can improve sales. Video on a landing page or sales page, for example, can help increase conversions by as much as 80%, according to research.

Get started by committing to doing four videos per month. Whether you do a Facebook Live, YouTube video or a video for your website, it doesn’t matter. Get into the habit of producing quality video content for your prospects and customers.

6. Branding Versus Direct Response

Telling your story versus telling people what to do is critical. To paint a more vivid picture, let me provide an example.

Educators Credit Union, a client of ours, hosts dozens of events throughout the year that provides value to their members and portrays their brand to the community. Several times a year, they host a shred day, allowing members to bring their papers to be shredded at no cost. Their team is there to help and makes it a fun, community-based day. There are no fancy calls to action. Instead, they’re continuing to keep their name out in the community and telling their story.

Stop focusing all of your attention on the call to action and make sure you’re delivering value first, telling your story and portraying your business in the best possible light.

Above, I’ve provided six trends. Pick one and execute. Ready, set, go

Source: FORBES ” Six Digital Marketing Trends To Watch For in 2018″

1. Snap to it
On Thursday, Snapchat opened up its fun augmented reality lenses to the masses, allowing developers, creators and brands to make their own 3D animated figures and face-swapping lenses.

While Snapchat and Facebook continue to battle it out over the best features, Snapchat has a big advantage with the massive amount of content created with the app every day.

Snapchat expects 1 trillion photos will be taken using the app this year, equivalent to 31,710 Snaps every second. Yep, every second.

2. Millennial DIYers
Move over, Bob Vila. This Old House, the home makeover TV show hosted by Vila, is making a big push to reach a new group of millennial homeowners.

According to the brand, 40 percent of its multiplatform audience are millennials and it’s launching a new property dubbed House One to reach them. Moreover, digital impressions across all of This Old House’s properties total 65 million.

3. Instagram-worthy brands
Speaking of millennials, they like Instagram. And just like every other highly coveted advertising demographic, they really love when brands reach them through the app. Insert skeptical-face emoji.

According to a survey of 1,000 women conducted by Bustle Digital Group, 81 percent said that social media is the most effective way to reach them. From that group, 40 percent said that Instagram is the best way to reach them.

Another 36 percent of women find brands through websites while 35 percent said that email and online articles help them discover brands.

Click here to read Adweek staff writer Katie Richards’ full rundown on Bustle’s report.

4. Wrestling for views
World Wrestling Entertainment (more commonly referred to as WWE) is getting its own weekly show for Facebook Watch.

While a number of sports organizations are experimenting with programmed shows on Facebook, here’s one stat that shows how big WWE’s audience is: 38 million. That’s how many followers the brand has on its main Facebook page.

For comparison, the NFL’s page has 16 million followers while the NBA counts 34 million followers on its main page.

5. Facebook continues to eat the world
In other Facebook-related news this week, the social giant announced that 17 billion, yes billion, video chats have been sent via Messenger this year, doubling 2016’s numbers. Beyond video, people sent 1.7 billion emojis on a daily basis.

Even while Snapchat, Kik and other messaging apps continue to tout huge messaging numbers, Facebook’s scale is unmatched and will likely only continue to grow.

Here’s more on Facebook’s burgeoning messaging empire.

6. I want my mobile TV
T-Mobile wants a piece of the streaming business. The carrier purchased Layer3this week for a non-disclosed price. According to experts, the deal could in theory layer phone plans and offerings on top of streaming TV.

As more consumers cut the cord, T-Mobile sees a big opportunity to customize streaming. Layer3 offers a skinny bundle of 250 channels that costs $75 a month. The brand is pretty mum on specific details, but it’s not hard to imagine that it will find a way to include Layer3 into phone packages, particularly as T-Mobile continues to fight Verizon and AT&T—both of which are also making a big bet on content and video.

Also this week, Verizon will reportedly pay $2 billion to stream NFL games over the next five years.

7. Bloomberg’s crazy for Twitter
Bloomberg is betting big on Twitter’s 24-hour news cycle with a new program called TicToc.

According to Axios, the publisher is hiring 50 people to staff the ambitious digital effort and will launch with six partnerships on Monday: Goldman Sachs, Infiniti, TD Ameritrade, CA Technologies, AT&T and CME Group. Such partnerships include a steep investment of $1.5 million to $3 million, reported Sara Fischer.

Moreover, Bloomberg Media’s digital advertising revenue has grown 25 percent year over year for 2017 so far, which includes 27 different ad tech products.

8. Facebook and Google aren’t going anywhere
The duopoly’s reign continues to grow tighter.

According to Forrester Research, online ad revenue grew globally by $10.5 billion years over year during the third quarter of 2017. The firm tracked 13 companies’ ad sales including Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.

The chart below helps explain marketers and publishers’ gripes with Facebook and Google. Along with Alibaba, the three companies control 75 percent of the global online advertising market, making it hard for publishers to increase revenue and difficult for brands who want different advertising options.

Source: Adweek ” 8 Digital Marketing Stats That Grabbed Our Attention”