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50 Ways to Get Customers in 2014

The holiday & New Year period is a great time to stop, hit the “Pause” button for a few days, and get outside of the daily grind.

Many times through-out the year we keep our heads down, focused on simply surviving the day-to-day, and we completely neglect the bigger picture.

We might have been efficient last year, knocking off to-do list items. But should you even have been doing that stuff in the first place?

Right now is the time to re-calibrate. It’s time to not only figure out what new things you’re going to introduce over the next few months, but more importantly which things you’re going to STOP doing.

Here are 50 ideas to get your juices flowing.

 

Figure Out Your Goals

1. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing (or wanting to do). Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Build customer loyalty? Increase sales? Pick ONE and design your marketing initiatives accordingly, because improvements in one area won’t necessarily improve the other.

2. When deciding what area(s) to focus on in the new year, think about what HAS and HAS NOT gone well in the past. For example, list the top three sources of clients and customers in 2013. Now how much time, energy, or money did you spend on each? Was it worth it? If so, then double your investment this year. If not, then cut your losses and move on. (Can’t tell? That’s a problem. Track your time with and measure your progress with Google Analytics.)

3. Once you figure out your motive(s), be purposeful in your online strategy and make these the driving forces behind everything you put out. When at a loss on what comes next, always come back to the basics of what your customers need and crave from your particular industry. Fulfill that need the best way you know how.

 

Prioritize Search

4. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. And Google owns 65-70% of the search engine market share. Guess where you should place your online marketing dollars?

5. 70% of the links search users click are organic. 70% of links clicked are organic, which leaves only 30% being paid. However spending in paid search is 3x organic. What’s wrong with this picture?

6. 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. That means it’s better to be HIGHER on a less popular keyphrase, as long as it’s descriptive and relevant. You’ll end up converting more of these people in to sales in the long run.

7. 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. 10 billion internet devices are connected this very second. 50% of buyers use social media to identify solution providers. How do you stack up? And are you keeping pace? Try using Open Site Explorer to run a quick competitive analysis.

8. Get perspective. Everyone talks about Pinterest, but only 70 million are on it. Compare that to Google+ which has 500 million users, connects to YouTube (which has 1+ billion users per month), AND impacts organic search — which do you think is more valuable?

 

Work Within Your Means

9. Limit your social media profiles to no more than two or three. For every profile that you manage, more time, money, and energy are expended (and often wasted). Instead of depleting your resources and sanity on 10 different social networks, seek and achieve optimal growth in only a few social platforms.

10. Have fun with your online presence! Create informal, casual, non-business-related conversations on social media. Choose interesting angles for the content you put out. Not only will this make the process more fun for you; it will also build trust with customers because they’ll see you for who you are — an interesting, fun person they’d like to work with in the future.

11. No time? No problem. Hire professionals to do the dirty work. Look into hiring a virtual assistant to outsource your lowest level tasks. Or, invest in affordable training or coaching resources to speed up your learning curve and provide lasting returns.

12. Lots of time and no money? Even better! Spend 10 minutes a day learning something new about ONE new topic. Learn the best ways to create content and develop a meaningful social media presence for your business. Then make it happen.

 

Want More SEO Traffic and Customers? DO these things.

13. The keyphrases you choose are as important as the ones you DON’T choose. Picking appropriate keyphrases comes down to identifying (a) relevance, (b), search volume (or demand), and (c) competitiveness of existing pages ranking.

14. Always use a keyphrase in the headlines and title tags of website pages and blog posts. Sounds obvious, but go check yours and record how many include an appropriate keyphrase? (Go ahead, I’ll wait. You’ll probably be surprised to find that many don’t have it.) Don’t forget to make still make headlines that are intriguing and eye-catching. Put the keyword towards the front and avoid going over 70 characters in length.

15. Clean up your URL or permalink structure (WITHOUT changing the URLs of existing, popular pages). Remove any necessary words, phrases, or strings of numbers. This not only looks better aesthetically, but also allows people to easily remember and share your site and allows search engines to quickly and easily crawl your page.

16. Keep people interested. Because website usage data has an impact on SEO, high bounce rates will negatively impact you. So go deeper than the website’s average, and look down at the bounce rates for individual pages. Which ones have the highest bounce rate? That means people don’t like those pages — so fix them!

17. Want to drive traffic and backlinks? Try contributing content to other websites, publishers, forums and communities. By creating relevant and engaging content that you know will succeed with a specific audience, you will in turn acquire links from high caliber sites.

18. More and more often, mobile devices are becoming the first point of contact between a business and a business and its customers. This trend is highlighted by a 75% rise in growth of mobile advertising in 2013 according to the AdAge Mobile Fact Pack. For this reason, it is imperative to create a create a mobile-friendly website that is easy for customers to navigate.

19. BE PATIENT! Significant results take time, and many hours of trial and error. Create a culture where it’s OK to fail (at least on a small scale). Instead of getting discouraged when one thing doesn’t work out, move on and try something else. Remember to pay close attention to what does and doesn’t work. Success in digital marketing is proportionate to your comfort with failing.

 

Want More SEO Traffic and Customers? DON’T do these things.

20. Don’t make it so people have to look hard to find something on your site. Try to keep your most important pages within 3 clicks of your homepage. Both people and search engines alike will have trouble finding content that is buried deep in your site.

21. Stay away from optimizing posts with more than one keyphrase. Instead spread them out with different pages or posts for each, and keep each page focused on one topic. Having a nice, content management system (CMS), like WordPress, makes this much, much easier.

22. Don’t have a slow site. If your website is slow to load, your search engine rankings will be negatively affected. Fortunately, Google Analytics has a GREAT site speed section. You can run a report, and figure out exactly where to improve (although you might need help implementing the changes).

23. Never stop looking for opportunities to network and build credibility offline. Traditional groups and associations like the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce can boost credibility as well as SEO efforts.

24. Don’t be stingy. Donate your time and/or money to a good cause! In return, you will receive links from non-profits and schools that are seen as extremely trustworthy and reputable.

 

And please DO NOT do any of these things

25. Please stop buying links. Seriously, stop. You’re not fooling anyone… it’s incredibly easy to tell if you’re buying links by looking at your link profile. Not only is this practice cheesy and unprofessional, but also risky. Bought links have the potential to result in a significant drop in ratings or your website being removed completely. Not a risk worth taking.

26. Don’t blog about news stories, or anything else people can read on hundreds of other sites. To get some ideas, try researching some of your industries popular content and then cover similar topics with a fresh slant.

27. No one cares about your company. Seriously. They only care about THEIR problems and pain points. So instead of only posting promotional, “branded” information, create posts that will provide insight and entertainment for your customers!

28. Your SEO keyword rankings are quickly becoming obsolete. So don’t spend your time and energy tracking, monitoring, obsessing and reporting these. Because each person’s search results are now personalized, individual results are now tailored based on: (1) past browsing history, (2) location, and (3) social media connections. Which means EVERYONES’ search results and rankings are going to be completely personalized.

29. Don’t rely on Directories. They suck. At one time, this was an effective way to drive SEO. However, most of those directories have now lost a significant amount of value and trust in the eyes of Google.

30. PageRank is another old school SEO relic that has VERY LITTLE relevance in today’s dynamic environment. Even Google recommends you should stop tracking it. Instead, focus on your (1) conversion rate, (2) bounce rates, and (3) Clickthrough Rates (CTR).

31. Stop abusing keywords and worrying about “keyword density.” The meta keywords tag was once used as a way to tell search engines what each page is about. They’re much smarter now, so they can figure that out all by themselves. Today, search engines use it to identify potential spammers. Don’t bother.

32. At one time, people relied on spamming the comments section of blogs as a way to acquire backlinks. I hope that you have stopped doing this long ago. This is a dumb, inefficient and ultimately ineffective strategy. Instead of trying to “game the system,” start investing in tactics that will also drive traffic and build your brand. SEO value will come as the result.

33. You can’t rely on people to “discover” or “spread the word” for you. Instead, you have to engineer it. Stand out. Take chances. Go out and find people to contact. Help influential people, and they’ll help you in return.

 

The Social Stages

34. Most social media failure occurs because of having the wrong expectations. Yes — it can help your business through increased brand awareness and better customer engagement (which increases conversions and repurchases). But no — it’s not a great, direct “sales tool”. And no — you won’t see results in the first few months. In order to capitalize on any of these benefits, you have to understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Otherwise don’t even bother. Seriously — don’t bother… just because it’s the latest fad doesn’t mean you should do it. And if you’re still having issues with product/service fulfillment and customer service, then fix those things FIRST.

35. Stage One: Create. The first step is obvious. Create your social presence based on the different “personas” for each type of customer you might be trying to reach. Where do these people hang out, where do they get their news, and how are they influenced? Then put your eggs into as FEW baskets as possible.

36. Stage Two: Maintain. Once you have created social profiles for your business, use them to maintain your business’s current reputation and image. (Is the business information on each site consistent? Are people already talking about your business? Don’t forget that Yelp and related websites are still considered “social”.)

37. Stage Three: Protect. Social media can be harsh. But it also gives businesses the opportunity to publicly resolve conflict and do damage control when necessary. Be friendly, natural, human, and empathetic at all times. But don’t fall victim to mob mentality.

38. Stage Four: Research and Listen. Discover what your “personas” are talking about or following online. REALLY listen. What kind of language, words or phrases do they use? This will be helpful when it’s time to create new marketing campaigns or messaging to reach them.

39. Stage Five: Promote. Now that you have listened to what people are saying about you, start crafting marketing ads and posts that cater to your audience’s needs. If you base these marketing tactics on meaningful observations, they are bound to succeed. Use data like Facebook’s Insights to figure out what’s working, and what’s not.

40. Stage Six: Community. This final stage is a culmination of stages 1-5. By now, you should have a pretty good idea of who your customers are and what they want. They should also know who you are and what you provide. Start creating meaningful interactions with your customers. Get them excited about your brand! This will result in a customer base that ACTUALLY cares about you and refers you to others.

 

1 + 1 = 3

41. Explore social media tools to leverage your time. Social hubs (Postano, RebelMouse, FeedMagnet), management sites (HootSuite, Sprout Social, Antavo), and social optimization sites (Raven, Moz), can make social media easier for you while increasing results at the same time.

42. Use VIVID images. Trend Reports, a research company that gathers crowd-sourced consumer insights, found that between 65 and 85 percent of people describe themselves as visual learners. In addition, a recent study from Socialbakers found that photos make up 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook.

43. Better yet, use videos! With 100 hours of video uploaded every hour, YouTube is obviously showing no signs of decline in popularity. It’s the second most popular search engine, and video consumption patterns are at an all time high. Combine that with decreasing costs to shoot, edit, and produce high-quality video and you’ve got a winning formula.

44. Go beyond the company account. 41% of people believe that company employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department or CEO, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. To reach more people and build public trust, encourage all employees to share company content through their personal social profiles!

45. Delay gratification. No one gets it right the first time. The customer lifecycle of transforming complete strangers into loyal customers doesn’t happen overnight. So give new campaigns and tactics time to breathe before judging them failures or successes.

 

Create USEFUL (Read: Not Mediocre) Content

46. Content builds trust. When people begin to view you as a reputable source of useful information of some sort (aka “Thought Leader”), they will begin to trust you. And then buy from you. It’s that simple.

47. Offer free content. When people experience the high quality of the content that you put out for free, they will feel more confident in paying for a service because they know what you are capable of. There are simply too many similar alternatives out there today.

48. Add some variety. In addition to blog posts and articles, consider offering your knowledge and expertise to the public through a variety of different venues (video, podcast, ebook, etc.). Then release these premium items as “carrots” to lure people in exchange for their contact information. Now you can follow up, and nurture them until they’re ready to purchase.

49. 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared every day according to a 2012 study by AOL and Nielsen. But more isn’t always better. Developing a content strategy is crucial in order to stand out in a sea of (mostly) mediocre content. Start by answering every single question you (or your customer service department) has been asked in the past few months.

50. Your content must be geared toward your ideal prospect. In order to do this, you must figure out the problems and needs of this group of individuals and create content that gives them solutions to these issues. Create small buckets or segments of people, and treat them differently. Don’t create content — or do anything in marketing — that tries to appeal to everyone (because it won’t please anyone).

 

The Next Step

Clearly, there isn’t a shortages of options and opportunities to get customers in 2014. So that’s not the problem.

The problem is being disciplined enough to pick a few from this list and get started IMMEDIATELY. Put a few into action over the next month, and get started. It’s better to do one small thing each day and make it a habit over the course of a month, then to wildly try a hail mary when it’s crunch time.

Because the biggest impact on your marketing this year will be momentum and consistency.