“There are plenty of fish in the sea” is one of those clichéd phrases that I’ve never quite understood. It seems to me that in relationships, quality trumps quantity: most of us want The One, not the many.
The same can be said for Internet marketing. Sure, the Web makes it possible to cast a wide net. But as we’ve all experienced, whether you’re marketing your neighborhood bar that attracts mostly locals, or an expertise in building chicken coops that attracts mostly – well, who does that attract? – you need a way to make your ad dollars buy advertising that will reach those specific people.
Here’s where the comparison to dating takes a sharp turn: in marketing, once we’ve identified quality, we certainly do care about quantity – we want as many of those targeted leads as possible. The trick is to first find and be found by those targets, and then to give them an experience that makes them want to buy, recommend you to their friends and keep coming back.
Here are four tips for increasing your Internet “catch”:
Tip #1 – Build more pages.
Getting your website to appear higher in search results is great, but in the age of social networking, your site is no longer the center of your online universe. There are a variety of free and paid online communities and services that can expose your business to consumers, from social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to review sites like Yelp.
While it can be time-consuming to refresh each individual site regularly, there are tools that make it easier. One of my favorites is from a company called Posterous (www.posterous.com) because it allows users to use regular email to send social updates (perhaps notifying customers of a new coupon) and it will automatically post to all of the other social services.
As the analogy goes, the more lines in the water, the better.
Tip #2 – Link all of your pages.
So now customers can find you in Facebook, in Google searches, even within their mobile texts – but are all of your pages connected and saying the same thing? Nothing works better to convince a prospect to do business with you than making your unique value clear and consistent across every medium where a prospect may choose to interact with you.
If you build pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and then link all those pages to each other – visits to ALL pages usually will increase as a result. The more links you have to your information on multiple, popular sites, the higher your pages will rank on search engines, too.
Tip #3 – Update all of your pages.
No one likes to see “the same old thing” on the Web – and that goes for humans AND machines. Truth is, Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and your prospects are looking for fresh, relevant information on your pages. It doesn’t need to be Tolstoy, and it doesn’t mean you need to constantly add new specials or offers (although consumers do love their coupons).
Write about changes going on in your business, your experiences as a business owner, or your thoughts on trends in your field – even link to other articles on other websites you think are worthy. Think of your business as a “hub” of information – advice, tips, promotions or offers (and perhaps a little humor to give it a personal touch) – and view the various social sites and location-based services as spokes with which to push this information out to customers or prospects.
The search engines will reward you for it by placing your pages higher in search results. And, better yet, prospects will think you are more credible. Keeping your pages updated, and actively contributing to your industry by sharing your expertise online, will build trust in the mind of consumers and lure more leads with fresh bait.
Tip #4 – Re-purpose.
If you read Tip #3 and thought, “When am I going to find time to write the content for all those Web pages?” … I have good news: other people can help you for free. There’s a reason the term “retweet” (or RT) has become so popular – people love to pass along interesting tidbits to their friends. It’s up to you to find that line between simply “interesting” and something that would ultimately help your business and/or reinforce your relationships with your customers.
This is not just limited to Twitter. You can re-post, re-purpose, or reuse all sorts of content from other people on your pages. Keep your antenna up for anything that reinforces the identity you want to create for your business. Retweet a positive statement about your business made by one of your customers. If you read an interesting article that talks about your field, add a quick sentence that points out the section(s) you liked and link to it. If you see a Top 10 list made by someone you respect (people love lists), find a way to relate it back to your business and post it.
The point is: being a curator of useful information can be just as powerful in drawing prospects as being a creator of content.
To continue the fishing metaphor: the more lines you have in the water and the more enticing your bait, the better the results.