Don’t Let a Negative Online Review Kill Your Sales

One of the best and worst things about the digital age comes down to the fact that customers have more power over businesses than ever before. If buyers say good things about a company, that positive feedback will show up on search engines, social media sites, and review platforms like Yelp. Then, more customers will come flocking and the cycle will go on and on.

On the other hand, a bad review can dissuade new customers from even investigating a business, particularly if the feedback is recent and sharp. That means you always need to be ready to protect your online reputation.

Knowing how important customer feedback is, and how hard it can be to recover from an online complaint or criticism, let’s look at what you can do to keep a negative online review from killing your sales and marketing efforts…

Read the Review Like a Customer

It can be easy, when you’re reading feedback from someone who is critical of your business, to immediately get defensive. Try to resist that urge and look at things from the buyer’s perspective.

Specifically, you want to see if their complaint or poor review has any merit. What is it specifically they were upset about? Is there some chance other customers feel the same way but haven’t expressed their frustration or disappointment? If so, that’s a bigger problem than the review itself.

Look at Your Business First

After you have thought things through, consider making changes or improvements to the way you work. Talk to staff members. Adjust your pricing and policies. Or explain details to customers more thoroughly.

This is important because one bad online review can turn into dozens if you make the same mistakes again and again. It’s never fun to read something bad about your company, but it can be a good thing if it alerts you to a bigger problem.

Respond or Refute

After you deal with any issues in your company—or decide there isn’t a problem you have to worry about—it’s time to think about the review itself. You essentially have three options: to ignore the review, write a response, or refute it altogether.

Believe it or not, simply ignoring a bad review can be your best choice sometimes. You can’t please everyone, and other customers are going to know that, particularly if the review seems off-base or irrationally negative.

In many situations, the smart move is to simply respond to the review politely. Tell your side of the story. Apologize to the customer. Or promise to provide better service in the future. Any of these show that you care, and that you’re paying attention to customer satisfaction. For all of those reasons, you can even decide to respond to positive reviews in the same way.

And finally, if you think the reviewer was mistaken, or if the negative review is somehow fraudulent or aimed at you personally, you could always request that it be removed from your page on a specific platform. Negative reviews won’t be deleted by administrators very often unless you can somehow prove they are unhelpful to other customers. Still, it’s something you can try if you think there is a chance to have it taken down.

Monitor and Grow Your Online Reputation

There are several tools you can use to monitor your online reputation and encourage your best customers to say good things about you online. They cost you very little, and can make a huge difference in your online reputation over time.

That’s important because the best way to deal with a negative review is to simply get lots of better ones that show up beside it. Anyone who uses the internet knows that even the best products and companies occasionally get complaints. And buyers will largely ignore the occasional piece of bad feedback if it’s next to lots of testimonials from happy customers.

Are You Getting All You Could Get from Your Business Website?

If you feel like your website and online marketing campaigns aren’t as profitable as they could be, it might be time for a change in creative direction. At the Marcom Group, we can help you make the most of your time, budgets, and websites.

What You Need to Know About Keyword Clustering and SEO

There is a new term floating around in the world of web design and search engine optimization: keyword clustering. More than a few business owners and marketing managers are wondering what it means, and more importantly, how it fits into their search and conversion strategy.

Today, we want to shed some light on this emerging SEO practice. Here’s what you need to know about keyword clustering and how it could affect your website and blog going forward…

An Overview of Keyword Clustering

You are probably aware that search engine optimization is getting more complex and competitive. There are more websites being crawled than ever, and advanced computers (in some cases even artificially intelligent machines) are using complex algorithms to sort through them. At the same time, searchers are getting more and more precise with their queries.

All of this takes us away from a single or simple keyword focus. It’s hard to type one or two words into Google’s search box, for example, and get exactly what you’re looking for. That’s leading us to a “long tail” of search, where multiple terms and complete phrases are thrown together to either signify or decipher the intent behind a query.

One way to give yourself an edge in SEO, then, is to target longer search terms with your site. That can be helpful, if you know your customers are looking for a very exact term or phrase. However, keyword clustering goes a step further. It involves having the right kinds of words in close proximity to one another, and sprinkled repeatedly through your website, to help create both keyword exact matches and context for your site.

In other words, a website like ours might have the phrase “business web design” used plenty of times. However, we might also sprinkle in terms like ROI, digital advertising, search engine optimization, etc., in the same paragraphs so it’s easy for Google’s spiders—and real searchers—to understand what our content refers to beyond the specific target phrases. That’s the power of keyword clustering, and it’s becoming a bigger part of the SEO process.

Using Keyword Clusters is Good for Both SEO and Branding

The great thing about using keyword clusters is that you aren’t just improving your search engine visibility (although many business owners and marketers will undoubtedly use it for that purpose). It’s also a way to think about your branding and positioning.

After all, when you’re forced to think about the context of your web pages, your attention naturally turns to things like target audience, searcher intent, and conversion strategies. You need to know who is coming to your site, what they want, and what you can do for them. In that way, using keyword clusters can help you tighten up your content and be sure you aren’t just attracting search traffic, but doing all you can to convert visitors into buyers.

The first step towards creating strong keyword clusters is to engage a proven web design and search engine optimization partner. Taking that step will prevent you from moving too far from your business goals or working with a team that isn’t going to get you the right long-term results.

Like most things in SEO, business owners tend to think of keyword clustering in terms of how many hits they can bring to a website, or how many places they can jump on Google. The real value, though, is in the way it can help the right buyers find you and take the next step.

Want to stay on the cutting edge of search engine optimization and online marketing? Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation and see what we can do to help you take your business to the next level!

4 Ways to Get More (and Better) Online Reviews

It’s no secret by now that online reviews drive sales. That’s true whether you have an online store, a professional services company, or a B2B business. According to some surveys and estimates, as many as 90% of all buyers will check out feedback left by other customers before making a purchase or committing to an appointment.

For a lot of business owners and marketers, though, the process of gathering online reviews can feel a little bit random. However, you don’t have to rely completely on luck to get the testimonials you need to make your company grow. In this post, we are going to share four simple and effective ways you can boost your online review profile. Let’s start with one that seems obvious but is often missed…

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Two Ways to Approach Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Along with a website that looks great, or more leads and sales, one of the top requests business owners and executives bring to us is a desire to stand out on Google and the other search engines. They aren’t concerned about search engine optimization (SEO) because they think it’s fascinating or enjoyable, but because they understand that earning a top search engine spot will help them to attract more customers.

That point is pretty self-evident, but it’s an important one to recognize. That’s because not every business owner is going to have the same ambitions, or the same level of commitment to promoting their company through search (or the internet in general). To get the most from your campaigns, creative team, and budget, you have to go into the process with the right ideas and expectations.

With that in mind, today we want to explore two different ways you might approach search engine optimization for your business website…

Philosophy #1: A Minimalist Approach to SEO

Some business owners want to benefit from search engine optimization, but aren’t willing to devote a lot of time or resources to the project. That’s understandable, and it can work so long as they hold the right expectations.

An experienced creative team can audit your website for technical problems, engage in a bit of keyword research to find out what your customers are searching for, and then do some on-site optimization. The likely result is that you’ll show up for specific search terms, particularly those related to your company name or geographic location.

If a lot of your business comes from local buyers or word-of-mouth advertising, that might be all you need. However, this sort of work isn’t likely to vote you to the top of Google’s rankings very often. To reach higher, you have to make a more consistent investment of time or money.

Philosophy #2: Aiming for the Top of Google’s Search Rankings

Just as some business owners want to do the bare minimum in terms of SEO, others want to shoot for the moon. They aspire to aim for a top three Google position for several different search terms and geographic areas.

To do so, they have to follow the same beginning steps as we outlined above. More attention will likely be paid to keyword research, but the basic initial plan is the same. The difference between the first philosophy and second, though, lies in the amount of subsequent work that needs to be done.

In order to truly dominate on Google, you can’t simply make some additions and upgrades to your website (as important as those steps are). If you really want customers coming to you again and again, you have to produce lots of relevant, high-quality content on a regular basis, develop a sales funnel, and get familiar with your web analytics. Additionally, you have to go back to those basic optimization steps again and again periodically to keep your website fresh.

You can perform a lot of these tasks yourself, but the bottom line is you’ll have to spend either time or money (and possibly a bit of both) if you want to blow the competition away on Google. Those investments pay off, but only if you follow through with them.

What Approach to SEO Works for You?

Now that we’ve laid out to different approaches to search engine optimization, ask yourself which one might be right for you. Are you more apt to optimize your site and post a few pieces of content infrequently, or to devote more time and resources to the project in hopes of getting bigger awards?

There is a bit of middle ground here, of course, and a talented creative team can help you make the most of a limited budget. However, if you are expecting to “do” SEO once and forget about it, then you should at least know where to prioritize your efforts and what to expect in return.

4 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Campaigns

Content marketing is all the rage, and for good reason. With the right pieces of information on your website or blog, you can draw in visitors from Google, Facebook, and even YouTube. Not only is content central to search engine optimization and inbound marketing, but it’s necessary if you want to establish credibility with buyers.

The only problem with these positive aspects of content marketing is that your competitors know about them, too. They are adding new material to their blogs and social feeds all the time, just like you are. So, it takes something special to stand out online.

How can you give searchers and customers what they want and set yourself apart from all the other businesses in your industry? Today, we want to share four of our favorite tips to help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your content marketing campaigns…

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Getting Views and Results From Your Online Marketing Videos

When it comes to online video marketing, the majority of all business owners tend to make three big mistakes:

  1. They don’t take advantage of the effectiveness and affordability of video at all, ignoring a big marketing opportunity.
  2. They produce video clips that aren’t ever going to help them get the attention they want from buyers.
  3. They come up with great video clips but fail to take the right steps to ensure they will be seen by their target audience.

Because you’re reading a post on video marketing for small business owners, we are going to assume you won’t make the first mistake. And, if you read our first post in the series, you’ll have the advice you need to produce marketing videos that stand out. That just leaves the third mistake, which might be the worst one of all. Why go through the trouble of shooting and editing a great clip if no one is going to see it?

Today, we want to give you some solid advice you can use to get big views – and bottom-line results – from every online marketing video you produce…

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Are You Making These Facebook Advertising Mistakes?

Google AdWords and Facebook advertising are built on a similar premise: show your marketing messages to the right people and you can generate an instant response. However, they represent entirely different platforms that work in unique ways. It’s no surprise, then, that so many marketers try to transfer the success they’ve had using search PPC to social media advertising and come up short.

To use Facebook advertising profitably, you have to follow an approach that’s tailored to the social network itself. That means avoiding a few all-too-common mistakes that small business owners tend to make again and again.

Let’s look at a few common blunders you should watch out for in your Facebook advertising campaigns…

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Are Negative Online Reviews Killing Your Sales?

Online reputation management is a relatively new topic in the world of internet marketing. For that reason, it’s not so surprising that a lot of business owners either don’t know what kinds of reviews have been posted about them online, or aren’t too worried about it.

However, we want all of our clients and readers to understand that negative feedback on the internet can absolutely kill your sales. That’s because a bad online reputation is like a hidden expense on your bottom line. It robs you of sales and leads without ever showing you the opportunities that have been lost.

That happens because new customers and referrals are likely to Google you, or look you up on their favorite social media platform, before they ever contact you. When they come across negative reviews, they are less likely to take the next step. Or, if they do decide to investigate more, they may be skeptical about your business. In that way, revenue can be lost even though a business owner isn’t aware of the real reason (or in some cases, that there was even a chance to make a sale in the first place).

So, how do you stop bad online feedback from affecting your bottom line? Here are some quick steps you can take starting today…

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Why You Want Web Hosting Through Your Web Designer

Did you go looking for the cheapest hosting you could find after you had someone design a website for your business? If so, you shouldn’t feel bad – experience tells us that’s the “normal” way for a small business owner to choose a place to park their new web presence.

However, a high-quality web design team (like the one we have) will recommend you host your site with the same company that designed it. That’s advice you should take, and today we are going to give you a few important reasons why.

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The X Factor in Web Design ROI

When business owners come to us for web design and Internet marketing, they generally want to know two things: first, will my site look great? And second, will it help me make more money?

The answer to the first question is easy. If you work with a talented creative team (and like their samples) you are very likely to get a beautiful web presence. The second question is a little trickier, however.

That’s because a lot of things go into the ROI you’ll get from a new website. There is the quality of the site itself, and the size of your market and the competition you’re facing, not to mention the strength of the marketing plan your team comes up with. Most importantly, though, there is a big X factor: how much work will you put into your own website?

If you expect to launch your new website and just have customers magically arrive, then you are likely to be disappointed. The launch of a new website is the start of your Internet marketing campaigns, not the end. To make your pages stand out, and to grow your bottom line, you have to pay attention to things like…

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