Contact Us – The Importance of Lead Generation

Contact Us – The Importance of Lead Generation

Contact usOne of the most imperative properties of your website is your contact form. And, one of the most valid reasons for using a website as your main marketing tool for your business is to not only create awareness around your brand but to also ascertain lead generation. Believe it or not, people DO want to connect with you and your business and trust me, you want to make this as simple as possible. That’s right, not only do you have to put cheese on the mousetrap but you also have to put the mousetrap where it is easily accessible for the ever so curious mice!

I work mainly with WordPress web development not because it’s my favorite but because it is the best and the best meaning, it is SEO ready out of the box and you can customize WordPress websites with all sorts of helpful plugins. The standard contact form that comes with WordPress websites is completely functional and customizable and above all, absolutely necessary! Contact Form 7 has definitely improved and even though it does the job, there are some drawbacks. It is simple in terms of esthetics and it can be a little confusing for the common Joe just starting out, but as I mentioned and will continue to say over and over, it is better than nothing!

Because of Contact Form 7’s limited abilities, I decided to research what contact forms and plugins were available for WordPress. I first looked at functionality and price. Secondly, I looked at the ability for customization and implementation. I really wanted a robust contact form that encompassed everything from social media links to website links (yes website links) and email connections. Sounds redundant right? Here’s a Pro-Tip: backlink everything even it is on your contact from relinking it to your website and social media. Yes they are on your website looking at this contact form but in the that form are important links that enhance your SEO, so yes keep the links on there! I also wanted something on every single web page not just the side bar or footer but something that pops up and says hello, connect with me everywhere, almost to the point of annoying because the power of suggestion should never go underused!

What I Found
After testing out several options and contact forms, reading reviews, forums and implementing and using different contact forms suggested by bloggers and WordPress lovers and experts abound, I stumbled upon one that particularly stood out against the rest, it is called Contact Us (http://contactus.com. It is fully integrateable with your WordPress website. Not only is there a plugin that integrates it seamlessly but, it is free to use and has more customization once you sign up for your free account on the Contact Us website which you will want to do regardless. You can choose from several colorful, simple, robust templates to design your perfect contact form and for a small annual fee you can also up the ante and choose from premium themes and customizations such as request an appointment etc…
But for now let’s stick to the FREE offering.

I recently tested this out for a client of mine who really wanted to have an option for their patients to be able to connect with them in addition to requesting an appointment. We implemented the contact from and within one day we already had a return. This FREE contact from captures one new patient a week and now they are averaging 4-5! That’s a huge return for something that is FREE! We recently implemented the Request an Appointment (for a small annual fee) option and this also works like a charm. The patient is able to click on a day and time they would like to be seen and the office receives a traffic email stating they have a new appointment request from, they are also given the patient’s information, email phone number, address, email and insurance (you can customize required lead information). You can also add your social media links as well as website at no extra cost to you. This is a full package brilliant marketing piece! Some other items that

Contact Us offers the following items:

• Custom Lead Generaton Design Forms
• Data, Analytics and Testing
• Contact Management
• Social Media Implementation
• Appointment Scheduler
• Opt In/Out Forms
• Chat
• Custom Fields

When evaluating the marketing functionality of my client’s websites the first thing I look for is how they capture leads, secondly how can I connect with them on social media. Most companies have websites but have no idea how they should function as a marketing tool. This is rule #1 in Leslie’s big book of marketing do’s and don’ts! #1 Lead Generation DO NOT NOT have a contact form! Make it easy for your customers to connect with you on all levels.

Social Media is lead generation too!

How can 650 million Twitter users be wrong? Think about it, there are over 650 million Twitter users, over 1 billion Facebook Users and now over 380 million Google + users and growing. Still think Social Media isn’t prevalent in our marketing society and a lead generation? Think again, social media is a pure, definite and complete form of lead generation! Don’t underestimate the power of social media and how it can function as a complement to your contact form and lead generation efforts. Social media not only allows your customers to connect with you on a different and personal level but also allows them to find you and communicate with you immediately! 89% of the population is using the internet to do their research on businesses, as do most use social media in their day to day routines for personal and business purposes. Social Media allows customers to connect with you instantaneously whether it is directly through Twitter or Facebook messages or adding you to their Google Circles, this is an incredible way for potential new customers to understand what is not only dynamically going on with you a s business but also allows them to see what everyone else is saying.

Below are some simple guidelines for lead generation that will help you in understanding how and why to implement the perfect lead generation tools and modules.

Respond!

Make sure you are responding to leads! Leads are the key to the growth of your business and if you ignore your leads, word gets out! Trust me! One mistake I see my clients make all the time is pointing their leads to an email they do not use regularly or not at all. My suggestion is to create an email specifically for leads. Most companies use info@xxx.com for example. Make sure this inbox is directly linked to your outlook, firefox, apple mail, and/or iphone/droid mail application of choice. The biggest slap in the face to your customers and potentially new customers is not responding to their lead interest. Make sure you are checking these leads on a daily basis. I would suggest creating an email through your current domain name. For example lets say your domain is http://www.johniscool.com make sure to create an email that is info@johniscool.com. If you don’t know how to do this, then contact your web administrator and have them set you up, you can also usually do this through whomever hosts your domain or website such as GoDaddy, open pages etc…

Guidelines for lead generation

1. Contact From (any contact form will do, just make sure you have one!)
2. Make the contact form as accessible as possible (pop-up or on every page)
3. Make sure social media links are in the header above the fold
4. Follow up Immediately on all contacts
5. Make sure the contact form information is being sent to an email you use regularly

If you are not using a contact form on your website, you are missing out an incredible free marketing tool that is functional, essential and effective. It’s like owning a shoe store and you only stock size 8 shoes, if you want to reach a broader audience and connect you need to have it all, social media, contacts and emails!!! Don’t underestimate the power of leads, the power of social media and connectivity. Trust me when I say this, if you are not using contact form or social media to connect with your consumer base, you will be left in the dust very quickly. Stay current and connect!

Rank on Bing

Bing-vectorA couple of years ago I started using an SEO assistance software (UpCity.com) that helped me capture some online directories and other beginner SEO tactics. Being a novice at SEO at the time I didn’t really understand the importance of ranking on any other search engines besides Google. Bing and Yahoo have merged their directories and even though you still need to have a listing on both Yahoo and Bing, Yahoo is where you will increase your rankings on Bing believe it or not.

Similar to Google, Bing has their own algorithms to help throw off all those black hat SEO cowboys. But for us white hat SEO people, I’ve discovered a fairly simple way to help increase your rankings on Bing/Yahoo. Even if it is short lived, Bing will pull down your ranking numbers if you are not consistent with your traffic, so keep this in mind. I first discovered my ranking on Bing when I set up my UpCity SEO software. I chose my industry keywords and I automatically indexed very very high (100+) with my chosen keywords, but ranked in the mid 20’s with Google with those same keywords. I just thought this was good enough, being naive to the importance of online diversity and search engines. However, slowly this number started to bother me and I began to do some research and reworked some of my website content, but still nothing. Then one day, I noticed someone wrote a review about our office on our (free) Yahoo local listing. Two days later I opened up my UpCity and noticed my numbers dropped below 100 and we were sitting at 55, which is a significant difference. At first, I didn’t realize that the impact of the Yahoo Local review but as I looked further I noticed there were two reviews.

yahooThis was no coincidence. Yahoo and Bing are lumped together, like Google+, Yahoo local is a place where people can post reviews, and Bing does not have a review platform, so they point everything over to Yahoo Local. For testing purposes, I let some time pass and after not soliciting any reviews to our Yahoo Local page I noticed that our ranking on Bing went back up to 100. Over the next couple of weeks, I solicited a couple more reviews from satisfied customers that had Yahoo accounts. The ranking went back down to 65 with one review. I updated our content as well and put in some keywords in our description and it went down a couple more points too.

Bottom line, similar to Google, Bing wants fresh content on their sites. This is understandable, and this is good and basic SEO. It’s the simplicity of SEO practices that we so quickly disregard, so don’t forget about the simple things. Content is always king and raw data and content such as reviews should never go untouched or undervalued! If you are not collecting and asking for reviews, chances are people will not partake and this is your easiest way besides blogging to create original content and authority. It’s a lot to ask someone to take time out of their busy schedules to write a review about your business. So, make it enticing for individuals to write about you online by offering a small reward for doing so.

PRO TIP: One other point, if you have not set up a Bing Local (Places) account or Yahoo Local account, do so! Also make sure to index your website through Bing Webmaster Tools. One of the biggest mistakes I see with clients who are managing their own websites and SEO, they never index through Bing. Big mistake!!!

NOTE: Yahoo Local is one of the most confusing and frustrating directory listings on the web, however it is important and essential to your business and online authority. DO NOT disregard Yahoo and do not pay for a listing with them. Use the free business listing but keep in mind every time you change something on your Yahoo local listing, it has to be approved by Yahoo. And it can sometimes take up to 7 days for it to be approved. They want you to use their paid listing, but in my opinion, I’ve used the $10 month premium upgrade listing and you still have to wait almost 7 days for change approvals and if you don’t have a yahoo account, it can be tricky to login and find your local listing. Use your Google account to login instead of creating a yahoo account, it will keep things congruent and easy to remember.

Links and Likes

Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Places/Local
Yahoo Local
UpCity SEO
Google Webmaster Tools

Make a Non-Friend a Facebook Manager

Les Profile2Have you ever tried to make someone a Manager of your Facebook page that wasn’t a friend? Previously, Facebook made it rather complicated to make someone a manager of a Facebook page if they weren’t your friend first. But now, they’ve simplified the process, but there’s a trick to it.

First of all, if you have more than 50 likes on your Facebook page, Facebook will allow you to view your on page analytics about your page including who likes your page. Through the See Likes window, you can see a list of individuals who have liked your page and next to their name there is a small button that says “make admin” simple right? As I mentioned as long as you have 50 likes or more this is the simplest way to make someone a manager or admin of your page.

What if someone doesn’t like your page can you still make him or her a manager?

You bet! As long as they have a Facebook account you can make them a manager. And it’s pretty simple too. Goto to the “Edit Page” menu at the top of your Facebook Page, click on Manage Admin Roles, from here you are taken to the editing Admin Roles page. You can make someone a manager or just a content creator depending on his or her role. All you need is the email they use to login to their Facebook page, plug that in where it says Specify Email Address and the drop down menu right below allows you to select what role you want them to manager such as manager, content creator, moderator, advertiser or insight analyst. Once this is done, they can now manage your page. However, they must approve this request first.

To approve this role request they must be logged into their personal Facebook profile and goto: https://www.facebook.com/pages this will take them to their invites, click on the invites tab and approve. Done and Done.

Facebook Advertising 101

facebook

Facebook Advertising 101

facebookAs we all know Facebook is the king of social media and now that they are starting to revolutionize the platform for advertising online. Facebook makes it very simple for you as a business owner, blogger and company, to increase awareness around your brand, product or service(s). Admittedly, the Facebook advertising platform is not the most intuitive, however it is effective and with a couple of tips and tricks you will be on your way to your first social media advertising campaign before you know it. I’ve received several questions from clients and I’ve compiled a list of common questions and my responses.

What is “Promote a Post” or “Boost a Post”?
Essentially the same thing. Promote a Post or Boost a Post, which means you will only reach your fans and their friends and these chosen posts are shown specifically in News Feed, they are not right side bar advertisements. The goal of these ads is to reach more of a company’s existing audience and some of their friends. These help get a page’s content seen but usually do no result in many Page Likes. When creating the ad, you tell Facebook, which post you would like to feature – Facebook creates the content of the ad by automatically generating this post from content you’ve posted on your fan page.

What is a Page Post Ad?
The intent of Page Post Ads are to reach non-fans or friends of fans which allow more flexibility as they allow for interests or category based targeting, such as zip code, married, single, divorced, college degree, women, men, age, industry etc.. You can get more explicit with Page Post Ads, however you have to custom design the ad using Photoshop, Illustrator or other graphic design programs. And, this is purposeful because Facebook only allows 20% text within these ads. Which isn’t a lot considering the required dimension are 1200 x 900 px (max) or 400 x 209 (min). A good way around this is with quality pictures. These are what attract consumers and are what will help you sell. The text should be right to the point and the picture should be relevant to the brand, business or product you are selling. Page post ads are intended to amplify likes, comments, and shares. These advertisements show up in News Feed and sidebar.

What is a Page Like Ad?
Page Like Ads are self-arranged. You can produce a straightforward “Like” campaign by promoting a relevant picture of a staff member or business event, product or service. I did this for a client who is a dentist; we used a posted picture of him and a patient that was very happy with their new smile. We got 100 Page likes in 24 hours and gained a few customers as a result and we only paid $80 for this campaign for a 2 day run.

Rules and tips when creating an ad:
• 20% text maximum (tip use a great graphic photo, keep your message simple)
• Ads must be in the dimensions of: 1200 x 900 px (max) or 400 x 209 (min)
• Carefully choose your demographic
• You must have a credit card to pay for advertising with Facebook
• Choose your budget wisely
• Advertise for more than one day (two day minimum)
• Create a Like campaign first to boost awareness around your brand then create advertising campaigns.

Facebook advertising isn’t as complicated as it may seem, but the only way you’ll know is by trying. The best thing you can do is jump in with a small budget to see how it works. Once you’ve seen a return on your investment increase your budget. The first thing I tell my clients is to try a like campaign first, then look at advertising with a Page Post Ad and a small budget, nothing less than $30 per day and nothing less than two days, otherwise you could decrease your ROI.

Useful Facebook Advertising Links
Facebook Advertising Rules and Guidelines
Create And Ad On Facebook
Facebook Advertising FAQ

Get Google to call you!

google-logo1Are you having issues with your new Google Maps listing for your business? I’ve had a bunch of questions regarding this and how to fix this. Easy, have Google call you! Some of you might have noticed something wrong with your maps marker or Google Maps or information in general. Some stayed the same, some disappeared/re-appearead, markers have moved, information didn’t stick. Whatever the case may be, if you use Google Maps and are having a difficult time getting your maps issues resolved by filling out the online form “fix your listing” with Google here’s a little trick and a not so obvious thing I just learned about Google. You can have them call you! That’s right! You heard me right, and in my experience the phone call is immediate. Here’s how!

What Do I Need?
1. A Google Places or Google+ account
2. The phone number associated with your business
3. The correct information for your Google listing

How Do I Get Them To Call?
1. Goto Google Places – use your Google login/pw
2. At the bottom of the screen you will see 5 hyperlinks, click on Google Places Help See Fig. 1
3. Click on the red button that says “contact us” in the upper right hand side of the screen See Fig. 2
4. A new window will pop up, click on the Blue button that says “Call Us” See Fig 3
5. A screen will pop up where you will need to fill out your Name, Google Email Address and of course your phone number See Fig. 4
6. Click on “Call Me” and Google will call within seconds See Fig. 4

Google 1

Fig. 1

Step3a

Fig. 3

Figure 2

Step4a

Fig. 4

TIP: You have to use your business phone number associated with your account, you can’t call from just any phone, keep that in mind. When they call you it will say press 1 for a Google specialist, and sometimes when you press one it keeps repeating it, just continue to press 1 you will be directed to a Google Specialist. More than likely, your Google specialist can make the changes to your account almost immediately do NOT let anyone tell you it will take 7 days for changes to take affect. I’ve asked Google every time I needed to make this call to make the changes immediately and they’ve done it!

Can I have Google change something else on my account?

Yes. If you have multiple business listings on the map or Google accounts you can have them combine all the listings for you. I recently did this for a client of mine. They had 3 listings in three separate accounts, they had reviews on all the sites and their maps were incorrect. Google was able to combine the accounts under one account, combine all the reviews and fix the location marker. Boom!

How often can I call?

As often as you like! I am always checking and making sure the Google listings for my clients are correct because they can change from time to time from Google glitches. If this happens Google will fix it for you and sometimes give you an email address to email them if it continues to happens.

Shopping Cart Websites Made Simple

Ecwid

I manage a great deal of diversity in my business, my clients are from all walks of life which in turn makes my life very interesting. I deal with doctors, dentists, handymen, bakers, accountants and because of this interesting and eclectic list of clientele I receive a new challenge about every other week. I enjoy this challenge and because of it, I can keep my creative juices flowing as a marketing consultant and business owner. I embrace daily challenge and quite honestly if everything was even flow all of the time, nothing would be interesting or engaging and that’s what its all about being an entrepreneur!

I was recently contracted by a Gluten Free baker, Ebenezer Foods, who needed a Website, Social Media and branding assistance. To start with she is a Gluten Free enthusiasts and baker that wanted to bring her Gluten Free Mixes to the outside world by developing her own eCommerce company but didn’t know how to go about it; enter 512City Design. She was wanting to use the website to showcase her products and then allow people to call her or email her their orders. My initial response was why not set up an commerce website, as if I knew how to do this, but I knew I could get the right people involved in the event this was something she elected to do. However, her needs were small initially and she just wanted the website and then possibly down the road she wanted to discuss the possibility of an eCommerce site. Little did I know that there was a very simple and easy way to set up a virtual shopping cart on her site with little or no effort at all.

First of all, for most of you that follow or read my blog, you know I am a huge proponent of WordPress powered websites. There are two reasons for this, one they are robust and two they are customizable. WordPress websites allows for a great deal of customizing and with the amount of free plugins offered from thousands of WordPress free lance developers around the world, you can pretty much do anything to and with a WordPress website. With the new Cherry Framework, WordPress just got a little bit sweeter and more efficient from a productive point of view.

Ecwid

Ecwid Shopping Cart

I began doing some research on eCommerce websites but everything I found was very involved and directed more towards larger scaled eCommerce sites and then I stumbled upon a new client who contacted me needing to increase his online traffic and reputation for his online t-shirt business. He was using a Wix website which is a very basic do-it-yourself website builder program, very minimal in regards to SEO and not as customizable or robust as WordPress. But he was using something I found extremely useful, he was using a simple shopping cart powered by a company called Ecwid. And even though his website was very simple and minimal, his customers could very easily purchase their T-shirts without a fail through his website using the Ecwid shopping cart. I did some research and came to the conclusion that Ecwid is a legitimate payment provider company worth using for small scale eCommerce websites, enter my new client Ebenezer Foods the Gluten Free Baker.

I talked to my client, Ebenezer Foods about the possibility of using a shopping cart on their website to simplify the ordering process, save them time and reduce manpower by running all transactions through Ecwid. Melissa, the owner was all for it, and I endeavored in my first eCommerce website. It was pretty simple to setup, WordPress has a very simple Ecwid plugin you can use to add an Ecwid store to any WordPress website. The setup is simple and easy to implement into your WordPress website. All you need to do is setup an Ecwid account, which is FREE for basic use and upgradable over time depending on your demand and product amount. The transactions are run through a business Paypal account, also free. You upload your pictures, catalog, descriptions and sku’s all through ecwid (see features here), This is a great approach for small eCommerce companies looking for a simple and effective solution for their online transactions.

Social Media/Directory Listings: Made Simple

sm imageThe worst possible thing you can do as a small business or any business for that matter when it comes to social media is sitting idle. So many businesses have no initiative as to where to start with social media, they end up doing nothing at all. BIG MISTAKE. Colossal. I say this because, social media marketing is not going away anytime soon, and you don’t have to know everything about social media marketing to make it effectual for you as a business trying to be found on the internet. So what the hell are you waiting for?

Time and time again I’ve had the same conversation with clients about what they should or shouldn’t do about their social media marketing efforts. The biggest response I get from clients is, “I don’t know where to start”. My response is: “You really can’t screw it up, but don’t do NOTHING”. Yes, SM implementation is time consuming, less intuitive than one could ever envision and yes, it can be exasperating at times, however, if you sit down and determine what is relevant and what is not, you will rapidly find yourself with a short list of SM venues that might suit you. Worst-case scenario, you set up the sites and then what? You scarcely post to them, this is common, and it will change once you start noticing what others are doing and how it works for them. More importantly, the foremost thing is, at least you have accomplished the hardest part by listing yourself as a business. Believe it or not you are now on the road to something larger than before when you were sitting on your hands contemplating, “Where do I begin?”

When I started out in Social Media Marketing, I was faced with this very same challenge. I was thrown into a position as an Internal Marketing Coordinator for a dental office, and I was given a small manual on how to claim social media sites. I began reading a lot on my own, and learned that you need to claim your listings on the Internet. So I sat down and made a list of the ones I use, personally and started there. This list has perceptibly amplified now, but here’s what I’ve established to be the most essential

MY TOP TEN SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

Observably we can add more to this list now, but quite honestly, if you are just starting out and you want to know where to start, this is a good base. Another thing to contemplate in addition to all of these are: Directory Listings. Yes, directory listings are also just as vital as social media listings and you don’t have to pay to list for basic directory listings, they are FREE, and they are effective. In the beginning I found a beta testing site called Brandify to help me understand what our brand looked like on the Internet. Brandify now charges a small fee to use their service, but this helped me understand our brand online, compile my list and it also gave me a list of directories they deemed valuable, necessary and prudent as well. I’ve added to that list and here are my

MY TOP TEN DIRECTORY LISTING SITES

When you initially look at these lists you are scratching your head going, “huh, I’ve never even heard of these before”? Yes I know, some of these you’ve never heard before and some of them you have, but consider this: singularly they are meaningless, united they are powerful. What that means is, the more places you put yourself on the Internet, the easier you are found through Google, Bing and Yahoo searches.

Things to consider when setting up directory listings and social media sites:

1. Uniform – Keep your information uniformed throughout your sites! Continuity is king as well as content! Make sure you fill out all of the information you can, the description, the about us, keep it uniform. Write a universal description and about us and copy and paste it throughout your sites and directories.

2. Media – Make sure to post relevant pictures, photos, videos and logos wherever you can. Don’t leave things blank, your brand and the awareness around it are vastly important when it comes to being found and consumers remembering who you are!

3. Claim before Create – Make sure you are claiming your sites before creating new ones, it’s quite possible someone might have already started a Facebook page for you when they checked in at your business or wrote a review about you on Yelp. Yes, you have to claim your sites, not all of them but most of them, just make sure you do a search on that site before setting up a new one.

4. Be Prepared – This process will be much more painless if you are prepared and have your information ready and accessible! The more prepared you are the faster you will get your listings posted. Keep your media and information in one universal folder on your desktop where it is accessible.

5. Don’t pay to claim – When claiming, there are some sites that want you to pay to claim faster, don’t do it. They will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification pin and instructions. Most of them will say it takes 2 weeks, but I’ve never seen that, it usually takes about 5 business days or less.

HINT: When setting up your map directories in MapQuest, Google Maps and Bing Business Maps, make sure your location pin is in the right location, if not, move it. You can drag and drop your pin anywhere on a map. If not, then you contact Google/BING/MapQuest.

After you’ve set up your sites, start posting to them and drive traffic to them. Use your social media sites to drive traffic to your directory sites, use your directory sites to drive traffic to your social media sites by linking you social media sites on your directory sites. Any link that backlinks to your website, is great Simple SEO 101. Once you jump in to this ever-changing tide of social media and online marketing, you will soon find out, it isn’t as intimidating as it looks. It is very easy to start campaigning and promoting your business with a few clicks of the mouse and keyboard and it didn’t cost anything more than your time, BOOM!

Some good SM management softwares: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, CoTweet