Internet Marketing For Small Business Tips – Choosing A Domain Name For Your Lead Generation Website

If you want to create an internet marketing for small business strategy for your local business you will need to have a website set up. This website needs to be a lead generation website in order to be effective as a marketing tool.

So what do we mean by lead generation website? To be an effective marketing tool for your local business the website that you have set up should be search engine optimized, and have the ability to capture the names and email addresses of those who visit it.

The first step towards an effective lead generation website is to choose a domain name for it. This is the name of your website and it also determines the address where it may be found on the internet. When you choose a domain name remember to include the main keywords that your target market will type into the search engines to find you.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate more clearly what I mean. We will assume you have a local business, called Anderson Plumbing Services in the town of Membury. You certainly would not want your domain name to be the name of your business because not many people would find your site this way. You want to use the keywords which a prospective customer might type into Google to find your services, and incorporate them into a domain name. So a better example for your domain name might be memburyplumbing.com.

So now that you understand that it is important to include keywords in your domain name, where can you find out what keywords people are using when they are looking for information on local business services? Fortunately there are many tools that can help you find these words. One of these is the Google Keyword Tool. If you type the phrase “Google keyword tool” into your search bar you will find it is the first result to come up.

Type into the search box some words that you think people might be searching for such as “Membury plumbing” and the tool will bring up a list of many others related to this one. You will also see some columns which tell you how many times a phrase is searched and what the competition is like for that phrase. Ideally you will want a keyword phrase that gets enough searches but for which there is not too much competition. Once you have a few domain name ideas written down you need to select a domain name registrar to see if the name you have chosen is available and register it. The domain name registrar that I use is Godaddy. Do not take any notice of all the upsells that this registrar will try and sell you. Just register the name you have chosen. It is a good idea to register your domain name for as long as you can; five years is best. The search engines are able to pick up these details and tend to take more notice of a domain name that has been registered for longer.

Now that you have a domain name that has keywords in it you will be stand a better chance at achieving an effective lead generation website as people will be able to find it more easily.

The Three Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes Small Businesses Make And How To Overcome Them

If you’ve been looking for simple, proven and tested, step-by-step methods for generating more leads for your small business, then this article may just have the answer. Firstly, I want you to stop for a moment and think about all the advertising you’ve seen over the past week.

How many of those actual ads can you name? Researchers estimate that over the past seven days, you have been exposed to as many as 117,000 ads based on national averages. So out of 117,000 ads, how many can you name?

If you’re fairly attentive, you may be able to come up with 3 or 4 specific ads… but I’ll bet that’s because you probably see those ads over and over… week in and week out. Let’s face the facts… repetition works. When you see any advertisement multiple times every day you’re bound to eventually begin to recall the ad. But now answer this question.

What few ads you do remember, how many of their products or services have you bought? Because I have a passion for marketing I tend to go online and research for well accepted ads. Take for example a series of ads from online trading company E*Trade which uses babies to promote their products. These have a massive audience on both TV and YouTube. They even had one during the Superbowl. I think they’re a scream. But… I don’t have an E*Trade account. Never have, never will. Why should I?

What benefits do they offer me as a potential buyer of online trading services that any of the hundreds of other stock trading services offer? See my point? Does a smart-aleck, wise-cracking baby have any relevance to online stock trading whatsoever? Of course not. So why does E*Trade continue to make these commercials? Believe it or not, there is a reason… and by the end of this short presentation, you’ll fully understand what that reason is.

Businesses today are led to believe that all they have to do to build a successful business is create some type of attention-grabbing form of marketing and they will generate leads at will. Nothing could be further from the truth. And that’s just in the area of marketing. What about generating fast cash flow? EVERY small business needs to generate fast cash flow. So how do you do that as a small business owner? What about generating profits? Generating more cash flow is great… but not if you don’t get to put any of it in your pocket at the end of the day. How would you like the answers to all of these problems?

In this article I am going to reveal to you the three biggest lead generation mistakes small business owners make… and outline how you can overcome them.

Here are the three mistakes. Mistake #1… they fail to get professional help. Mistake #2… they don’t know the fundamentals required to successfully market their business and attract as many new clients as their business can handle. And mistake #3… they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow. Let’s explore these three in depth, and show you how you can easily and systematically overcome each one of them.

Mistake #1… small business owners fail to get professional help. Can you name me just one professional athlete who does NOT have a coach? There aren’t any. Tiger Woods actually has a total of 9 coaches guiding him in everything from his golf game to his financial investments. But do small business owners really need professional help? Remember the TV ads we previously discussed? Those ads are created by “professionals.” Unfortunately, those professionals have no clue what they’re doing. Everything they’re doing in marketing and advertising today is wrong! But let me prove that to you right now.

If you currently use any form of marketing such as a print ad, brochure, postcard, flyer… or for that matter… your company website, take it out and look at it carefully. And if you don’t have any form of marketing right now, take out a sheet of paper and sketch out what you think would make for an effective ad for your business. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy… just create a basic outline of the ad and where you would locate the various elements on the page.

Now that you have your ad… or a mock up of your ad sitting in front of you, let me provide you with the little known secrets that produce more leads than your business can handle. 99% of all marketing professionals DON’T know the lead generation secrets I’m about to reveal to you. This information is so powerful and compelling, it will position you in the top 1% of all lead generation professionals today. This example will show you why every small business owner should acquire our step-by-step roadmap as they start to generate leads for their business.

Here’s what a true marketing professional will know… and help you implement into your marketing. It’s known as the “marketing equation.” This marketing equation will let you quit competing on price… and let you start selling your product or service for what it’s really worth. You will drive in more leads and increase your advertising response by 10 to more than 100 times. You will convert a higher percentage of those leads and dramatically increase your number of sales. You will get a bigger bang for your marketing buck. The bottom line is this you will literally create a profit faucet that you will have TOTAL control over.

First, you MUST understand what marketing is supposed to do. Its purpose is actually three fold. Its first job is to capture the attention of your target market. Second, it must give them the hope that reading or listening to your marketing will give them enough information to help them make the best decision possible when buying whatever you sell. In other words, train and teach them how to recognize the true value of your product or service… and conclude that you… and you alone… offer the best value versus your competition. Marketing’s third job is to lower the risk of taking the next step in the buying process… and if necessary… continue to educate the prospect regarding the value you offer.

Marketing that accomplishes these three objectives will result in your prospects and customers coming to one single conclusion, that they would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price. It’s estimated that as many as 96% of all small businesses fail within their first 5 years. The main reason for this tremendously high failure rate has to do with the lack of expertise when it comes to generating leads and making the phone ring.

Most small businesses don’t know anything about those three things that marketing is supposed to do. But there’s also an additional problem to consider. Most small business owners use a tactical marketing approach instead of a strategic approach. Let me explain.

Running an ad in the local newspaper… sending out an email or direct mail letter… airing a radio or TV ad on a local media station are all examples of tactical marketing. Now don’t get me wrong… the newspaper, radio or direct mail can be successful marketing channels… If your marketing message is powerful and compelling. But that’s the problem… the message is the strategic side of marketing… and yet, it’s the most neglected.

This distinction between strategic and tactical marketing is huge and one you need to be acutely aware of anytime you start talking about generating more leads. Many companies mistakenly assume that when you talk about lead generation, you’re automatically talking about tactical lead generation… placing ads, sending out mailers, joining a networking group, attending tradeshows, implementing a prospect follow up system and so on.

They fail to realize that the strategic side of the coin, what you say in your marketing and how you say it is almost always more important than the marketing medium where you say it. If you fail to make this distinction, then you risk becoming jaded towards certain forms of marketing and advertising that should be a part of your tactical plan, but you eliminate them from consideration because they haven’t worked for you in the past.

When lead generation results are less than optimal, small business owners tend to almost always blame the marketing medium… like the newspaper the ad ran in or the postcards they sent out. They blame the tactical part of the plan… without any regard for how good or how bad the strategic messaging in that marketing piece was. People often say things like, “we tried radio and it doesn’t work for our kind of business,” or “we sent out 50,000 pieces of direct mail and only generated 3 orders. It just doesn’t work.”

Just because it didn’t work, don’t assume that it won’t work. Most people don’t have the evaluation skills or the know-how to judge whether poor marketing results from poor strategy or poor tactical execution. This is where our step-by-step roadmap can generate more leads than your business can handle.

For example, most small business owners rely heavily on platitudes in their marketing. They say things like – we have the lowest prices… the best service… we’re family owned and operated… we offer convenient hours… the best value… not to mention that we’ve been in business since 1431 B.C. Look at your own marketing that I asked you to acquire or create earlier. How many platitudes did you use in your own marketing?

By the way, this is NOT your fault. Small business owners have been conditioned to think this is the proper way to market their businesses… since most advertising follows this same pathetic marketing formula… including the Fortune 500 types.

As human beings, we’re all after just one thing when we buy something… the best deal! Unfortunately, when you use platitudes in your marketing, there’s absolutely no way to tell who is actually offering the best deal. Everyone says they have the lowest prices, the highest quality and the best rates. So who do you believe? There’s only one way to know… and that’s to research every single business that offers what you want to buy. How many of us have the time or patience to do that?

So most of us just automatically assume that everyone is pretty much the same, and therefore we default to calling on the business that offers us the lowest price. When you can’t communicate the true value your business offers, you’re doomed to forever compete on price. Our marketing equation will change all of that for you forever. It’s going to be the backbone of your strategic marketing plan. It’s the foundation on which everything else we build for you is based. Let me give you a quick overview and then spend some time going through it with you in detail.

A proper marketing equation has four main components. First, it must interrupt your prospects. It must get your qualified prospect to pay attention to your lead generation marketing. Simple enough to say, but a lot more difficult to pull off in real life unless you understand what you’re about to learn here. The interrupt is done through your headline if your marketing is in print… or it’s the first thing you say if your marketing through radio or TV. The second component is engage. Once your prospect is interrupted, it’s critical you give your reader the promise that information is forthcoming that will help the prospect make the best buying decision possible. In other words, it must help facilitate their decision to pick you over anyone else. This is the job of our subheadline.

The interrupt is our headline that highlights a specific problem that your prospects are looking for a solution to… and the engage is our subheadline that promises them that you offer a solution to the problem we mentioned in our headline.

The third component you need to include is ‘educate’. Once you have interrupted and engaged your prospect, you have to give information that allows them to logically understand how and why you solve the problem they’re facing. This is accomplished by giving detailed, quantifiable, specific and revealing information. This is typically done in the body copy of your ad. When you educate, you need to reveal to your prospects the important and relevant information they need to know when making a good decision, and that your business… and yours alone… provides it to them. The interrupt and engage hit the prospects emotional hot buttons. Educate is the logic they need to justify picking up the phone and calling you.

The fourth and final component of the marketing equation is your offer. Now that you have interrupted your prospect based on problems that are important to them… engaged by a promise of the solution… and they’ve examined the educational information that makes your solution real and believable… the last step you need to take is to give them a low risk way to take the next step in your sales process. You do this by offering a free marketing tool, such as a report, brochure, seminar, audio, video or something that will continue to educate them. Your offer will allow your prospect to feel in control of their final decision to call and buy from you.

So your marketing equation is interrupt, engage, educate and offer and together they equal market domination. Now here’s the problem. Most marketing today only contains two of these components. They interrupt by throwing something at you that’s either familiar like Tiger Woods… or unusual like a monkey or talking pets. Sometimes they like to use both, as in the case of the E*Trade baby. Then once they grab your attention, they make you some type of offer such as “call now for whatever.” They have left out the engage and the educate, and marketing seldom succeeds when that happens.

In fact, the only time this type of marketing does succeed is when you can afford to run the ad over and over nonstop for an extended period of time. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz… melts in your mouth, not in your hand… and the burgers are better at… have literally been rammed down our throats by Fortune 500 types. After hearing these slogans thousands of times, of course we’re going to remember them. But how can a small business owner like you that doesn’t have a billion dollar marketing budget successfully market your business. The answer… you can’t… UNLESS you follow the entire marketing equation.

And finally the third biggest mistake small business owners make is that they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow. When you follow this marketing equation in every form of marketing you do… from your business cards to your company website, the financial results are instantaneous and immediate.

So in conclusion, the three biggest lead generation mistakes small businesses make are #1… they fail to get professional help. #2… they don’t know the fundamentals required to successfully market their business and attract as many new clients as their business can handle. And #3… they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow.

The above marketing equation contains the fundamental components for instantly making your phone ring and positioning your business as the dominant force in your market. It provides the marketing foundation that will enable you to generate immediate cash flow. And small businesses can use this information as a minimum standard when seeking out professional help for their business.

When you can overcome these three biggest lead generation mistakes, you will generate all the leads your business can handle.

10 Most Important Factors for Small Business SEO

The online space is changing constantly and every day there is a new product, platform or idea being created to attract and distract business owners. Whilst writing this article there could be a new product being launched that renders this article out of date and so rather than look at the shiny new things available online this article will focus on the fundamentals of online success for a small business owner.

  1. Clear Project Aims – What do you want to achieve online? Are you looking for brand awareness, direct sales, lead generation or is your web site simply a supporting act for your more traditional offline activity? Setting out clearly defined goals will lead to the second key area for online activity which is keyword selection.
  2. Keyword Selection – Once you have identified your project aims you can set about the task of creating a keyword map. The aim here is to identify keywords or phrases that people who are searching, browsing or even fumbling their way online would use to find you. An example of this might be “Cheap Car Insurance” might be a phrase suitable for generating direct sales whereas “Insurance Companies” might be more brand awareness. Google’s own keyword tool is a really useful free offering for identifying good phrases with regular search volumes.
  3. Traffic – Once you have created a keyword map you need to identify the best place to generate traffic. Search engines like Google are usually the best place to start but are you looking for a Pay per Click campaign through the likes of Google Adwords? This is quick and easy to achieve but very often far too expensive for most small to medium sized businesses. Are you looking for organic traffic from the natural listings? This typically needs a good Small business SEO specialist to help but tends to deliver more quality and sustainable traffic. Could social media be more suited to your product i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in or the host of social bookmarking sites like Delicious or Digg? What about the power of video which is becoming ever more important online and traffic can be gained from the video streaming platforms like You Tube, Daily Motion or Metacafe and also direct from the first page of Google.
  4. Traffic Quality – One key factor when deciding where to get your traffic is the quality and quantity you need. There is a fine line between quality and volume – too much attention to the quality and you may not generate enough visitors to convert, too much attention to volume and you may waste lots of money generating leads that do not convert or you cannot cope with. Concentrate on your highest profit margin phrases first and build from there.
  5. Traffic Behaviour – Once you get visitors to your web site they need to stay in the first instance, get to where they need to be quickly and efficiently and once there convert into a lead or sale. If you have a high bounce rate it could be that people are searching for one thing and arriving at a page that says something different. If someone is searching for “red shoes” make sure they arrive at the page within your site that sells red shoes not a page that sells “green track suits” or your home page that talks about your business in general. If someone is searching for ‘sports wear” by all means send them to your home page or a category page that says Sports Wear. Can the user navigate the site easily without needing a crash course in code writing!! Is your site clunky or slow to load if so change it customers will get board, it is a fact that searchers are spending less time on each page they visit and bounce rates as a whole are increasing indicating that today’s searcher is less prepared to dig for what they want and are looking for it to be served to them quickly.
  6. Traffic Conversion – Once visitors are on your site and have been able to navigate or have landed on the correct page you need mechanisms to help them convert. If you have a shopping cart this is straight forward you want them to buy something however if they don’t what next? How can you grab their details so that you can market to them again? It is essential to have multiple reasons for a searcher to leave their details and often less is more here. Rather than giving away every piece of information at your disposal reduce it slightly and get the searcher to ask for it. Give them a snippet of a newsletter or white paper and get them to ask fro the rest (this way you generate a lead), show them a video and ask them do they want more? (another way to generate a lead). Early stage researchers may only want to leave an email address in order to receive a newsletter perhaps whereas a searcher who is ready to buy might leave lots of information to receive full product specifications or a price list?
  7. Traffic Retention – Most small business owners have one chance to convert traffic into leads or sales and that is usually the first time a potential customer visits the site. Many blue chips and larger web site real estate work really hard to create a web site that is appealing enough for visitors to return therefore giving them multiple opportunities to convert traffic to sales. Small business owners however usually do not have the time, resource or subject matter to create a site that engages visitors over and over again with the possible exception of e-commerce sites. This doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t try by introducing videos, industry news updates, company news updates, blog posts, twitter posts, weekly offers or even competitions in order to give visitors a reason to return.
  8. Traffic Profiling – Most businesses will now have some kind of traffic analysis software (often Google Analytics) however few small businesses are conversant with all there functions. With Google analytics for example it is possible to set up targets and goals to track the performance of traffic throughout the site. Traffic profiling takes this a stage further by separating traffic and leads into predetermined categories from early stage researchers to general enquirers and the holy grail of hot leads who are ready to buy now.
  9. Lead Management – Once a lead has been captured it is essential that business owners can store and manage these leads effectively. This ranges from creating categories for leads, compiling a history, prospect system to manage calls and recalls and some kind of filtering system to facilitate target marketing and re-marketing. Even if your site is an e-commerce site it is proven that less than 5% of people who visit your site for the first time will buy something and so it is essential to have a lead management programme to facilitate the other 95%
  10. Re-Marketing – It has long been proven in the world of offline marketing that it takes between 5-7 contacts on average to turn a prospect into a top quality lead or sale and this is no different online. On average small to medium sized business owners tend to contact their prospects only 2-3 times and many only make one contact. This is one major area where a small business owner can truly maximise their ROI when it comes to online marketing by having the capacity to simply and regularly contact their prospect base.

A CRM Solution For Small Businesses

Managing customers, conducting marketing campaigns and achieving timely follow-up on sales leads is a vital process that can overwhelm a small business. Keeping promises, storing correspondence, managing sales and being able to quickly determine the status of accounts is crucial to success. Having a single, integrated solution to accomplish all this makes the lives of small business people so much easier and more productive.

Internet-based customer relationship management (CRM) and contact management solutions offer significant advantages. Typically, they are more affordable for small businesses because there is no software to buy or maintain. Equally important, online CRM solutions are accessible from any Internet connection by authorized personnel, providing a good centralized answer for both far-flung sales forces and company management. Too, online CRM solutions circumvent the danger of viruses accessing or destroying vital company data. And most solutions do not require a long-term contract, so it’s easy to get started and companies are not locked into a solution that may not be right for them.

I recently helped a client modify his Website to communicate with AppShore’s online CRM and contact management solution. I was impressed by what I saw.

Why? First, AppShore is designed for small businesses, a market that my own consulting service targets. Having tried other online CRM solutions myself, I am familiar with their functionality. What struck me right away about AppShore is how simple it is to use. Things that seem complex in competitive Internet-based solutions like Salesforce.com or desktop packages such as Goldmine are straightforward and fairly easy to understand in AppShore. I believe this reflects the background of the AppShore team, which consists of seasoned software professionals experienced in start-ups and small businesses.

Speaking as a small business person myself, here are some things that I particularly like about AppShore:

  • It has an intuitive design and offers functionality that is a good fit for small businesses rather than enterprise-level companies. I did not have to spend hours studying a manual to understand the function of each tab or how to use it.
  • It employs “mouse over” technology to give you a quick overview of accounts and leads, as well as the ability to edit them.
  • Accounts and leads can be imported using csv files. This means your Outlook Contacts and ACT! files, for example, can be easily imported to AppShore.
  • Relevant documents, such as proposals, agreements and RFQ’s can be uploaded and stored for fast access and management.
  • AppShore even offers a means to seamlessly transfer captured data from Website forms into the AppShore “new leads” database and then automatically notify you via email. This is a terrific time saver that ensures that Web-generated sales leads never fall through the crack!
  • The ability to prioritize tasks by customer or prospect helps you to focus on activities that generate business.
  • Opportunities are easy to track and (by assigning a probability and dollar amount to each) provide a basis for forecasting sales. Setting up a sales funnel with different stages is straightforward and beneficial.
  • Versatile reporting capabilities facilitate management of marketing and sales functions, as well as providing fast looks at expected revenue.
  • AppShore includes a convenient outbound Webmail function that allows you to send email using your domain name. Emails can be linked to customer and prospect accounts for easy retrieval and reference.
  • The ability to set up and use templates with multiple “insert” fields for outbound email marketing campaigns and customer/lead follow-up is available with the premium plan. This is both convenient and effective, allowing small businesses to be responsive and conduct inexpensive marketing campaigns. Just be sure that emails are sent only to valid contacts to avoid violating CAN-SPAM laws and provide an “unsubscribe” capability if you use this feature to send email newsletters or promotions.
  • A “dashboard” tab allows you to quickly review upcoming activities, your latest leads and top opportunities.
  • Password-based access and a separate Administrator function provide adequate security. AppShore databases are also backed up on a regular basis. Having vital customer and sales information located offsite also facilitates disaster recovery.

Overall, AppShore is an excellent solution for a small business. It’s not too much, nor too little. Like any CRM package, however, set-up and terminology may be a little confusing for small businesses that have never used a CRM package before.

What would I like to see more of? The AppShore solution is surprisingly lacking in online tutorials and a Help tab to provide quick answers for “how to” questions. This oversight is balanced by AppShore’s free personalized training, set-up assistance, and excellent telephone support (I know because I tried it!). And, AppShore will release a new version in June 2008 that includes a searchable FAQ (answering “how to” questions), user manual downloads and online problem ticket submission.

Best of all, AppShore is affordable for small businesses, with prices starting at just $11 monthly per user after a thirty-day free trial. Moreover, there are no long-term contracts, so companies can export their data and discontinue AppShore at any time if they are dissatisfied. But from what I’ve seen, small businesses will be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact on their bottom line once they start using AppShore CRM.