As 2013 wraps up to a close, it’s time for that annual rite of passage: New Year's resolutions. This year, in an effort to prevent these resolutions from becoming part of the 92 percent that fail, I’m going to make them specific, achievable, and all part of the goal of super-charging your online marketing in the coming year.
1. Encourage customers to write reviews of your business.
Online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are, for better or worse, incredibly powerful forces in both helping and hurting businesses of all types. With restaurants, a half-star increase in Yelp reviews causes a whopping 19 percent increase in reservations. For a business with high fixed costs like a restaurant, that 19 percent increase flows nearly straight to the bottom line and can make or break the business.
So whether you run a restaurant, a dentist's office, an e-commerce stores, or an insurance brokerage, having a strategy for nurturing positive reviews and responding to negative reviews should be an integral aspect of your online marketing strategy in 2014.
How is it done? Quite simply, find ways to actively encourage your best customers to post reviews of their experience. Most are more than happy to post reviews if they know it is important to the business, but very few (aside from rabid Yelpers) proactively think to post reviews on their own. So a systemic policy of asking for customers to share their experience, pointing them to the right place, and expressing gratitude for their help can have a huge impact.
2. Write more on your company blog.
Google’s ranking algorithm hugely rewards websites that consistently add new, unique, relevant content, and blogs are one of the best ways to facilitate this. Yet the vast majority of businesses with blogs sorely underuse them as a resource and don’t blog nearly often enough.
So this year, make a resolution to blog more. We have found that the best way to make that happen is to set a weekly or monthly schedule and have members of your team own pieces of the blog strategy. Otherwise, it will slip to the wayside like it did last year.
3. Make sure your mobile website experience is excellent.
It’s been official for years that the shift to mobile is massive, but as we enter 2014 if you do not have a website that is not just compatible with mobile phones but designed for mobile, then you are unequivocally losing business, whether you are on offline or online business, large or small.
Make it one of your New Year's resolutions this year to get your mobile site where it needs to be to leverage the increasingly growing audience that is going to visit--and judge--your site based on the mobile experience alone. Here are few things to keep in mind:
• Avoid any left-to-right scrolling.
• Make sure buttons and forms are easy to manipulate on the smaller mobile screen.
• Utilize longer, scrolling pages: mobile and tablet users prefer to swipe than to click.
• Make sure graphics are optimized and reduced in size to ensure quick loading on cellular networks.
4. Create and share great content.
SEO used to be about link building. Today, it's about content marketing. Creating compelling, engaging, shareable content is a win-win all around: Users actually enjoy and engage with the content, Google loves it, and your website is rewarded by higher rankings and more traffic because you are creating this content.
So what does this content look like? It can take on lots of forms, but two of the most common and effective are guest blogs and infographics. Infographics are a terrific way to distill complex topics, statistics, or just interesting tidbits or top-10 lists into visually appealing, easy to digest, viral pieces of content. And infographics can be used with great effect in even the most boring of industries. (Need some inspiration? Check out some of ours.)
If the above four resolutions seem daunting, then just pick one or two, identify the people and resources needed to follow through with them, and you will be well on your way to an awesome 2014.