Digital marketing strategy moves at a breakneck pace. It's a lot for business owners to keep up with. We're heading into the second half of 2022, and we want to do an update with a few critical bits of digital marketing strategy that can really make a difference.
This article is structured into three sections. While we recommend reading all of it, you can skip to any of the three tips by clicking the section title below.
- Google Business is King (as well as local listings)
- Know Your Market's Demand Level (You may be able to piggyback based on your market's awareness)
- Build Your 1st Party Email List (The only list that can't be taken away)
Google Business is King (as well as local listings)
Google Business (formerly Google My Business) is king. Not having it set up and optimized is like building a house without laying a foundation.
Google wants its searchers to spend more time on their search results (and more time looking at their ads).
So they utilize Google Business to show essential business information to searchers while taking up a lot of precious screen real estate. Let's take a look at how much Google Business is prioritized.
In the following screenshot, we are Googling the name of a small business we work with. The entire home page is taken up by the Google Business profile. All the way at the bottom is our website listing.
Google is making it a priority to show their Business Profile to people searching your brand name at the expense of your website.
That means if your Business Profile is not set up correctly, you are giving a sub-par experience to people trying to find you!
Another massive benefit of the Google Business profile is your appearance on Google Maps and recommendations. If a searcher is typing in something generic like "Escape Room Tempe", your Google Business profile will show up as a list item up top.
Despite Alcatraz Escape Games not ranking in the listings, our Google Business Profile shows up as #2 in the map search.
If you click that listing, it brings you to a map view with only your Google Business profile! The only way to the website is that tiny button that says "website". Google wants you to stay on their website.
The map listing pictured above depends on the location of the person searching. So the listing is no longer just about keywords, it's about location too.
We can use a tool that runs the search from multiple locations around around the physical location.
Here is an example of us monitoring the Google Business ranking based on a 1.5-mile radius of the business location.
The circles with a number indicate where the Google Business profile ranks in the screenshot above.
Here is an example of a non-optimized Google Business listing with more competition.
You can see if the searcher steps into the wrong geographic region, their business is invisible - and since this takes precedence over your website, no amount of SEO will get your website to show up. It's Google Business or nothing.
Even though website's are being pushed down a bit in favor of Google Business, there is a huge upside though. Everything in Google Business pushes a searcher closer to doing business with you.
We can track the actions a user takes.
Here we tracked 2.8k visits to our website, 1,070 GPS Direction Requests, 207 calls, and 8 direct messages - just from our Google Business profile.
Also - all these people saw your reviews which meant before you even had to interact with your customer they had been reinforced with social proof!
And here we can see it's not just Search that is getting people to this really valuable information - it's from Google Maps as well.
So far we have only focused on Google - but the internet is full of listing aggregates. Despite Google Maps taking up most of the oxygen in any conversation about these listings - don't forget to optimize Apple Maps (and others).
Here's an example of an unoptimized Apple Maps listing vs and optimized one:
Unoptimized Apple Maps Listing:
Optimized Apple Maps Listing:
Notice the hours, cost, photos, call button, website button, guide button, share button, etc.
At the very least get Google Business setup and optimized. If you have the time then start knocking down the other local listings from our complete list of local listings:
- Google Search
- Google Assistant
- Apple Maps
- Trip Advisor
- Microsoft Cortana
- Foursquare Network
- Google Maps
- Tom Tom
- Where to?
- Find Open
- Judys Book
- My Local Services
- Yellow Pages
Know Your Market's Demand Level
Knowing your demand level can let you shift funds and focus on the right parts of your strategy.
If a considerable number of people with high intent are searching for a product or service, then we may not need to spend as much on awareness marketing as a company with very little awareness.
A high volume of high intent searches means that awareness is already really high for your market.
When you have a high level of awareness baked into the market, we can capture that demand. Google Search ads are literally built on this premise.
Let's take a look at some Google Search Ad results that are served on high intent searches for a high-demand industry (escape rooms):
8x ROAS... $1,980 spent -> $17,400 revenue earned
11x ROAS... $2,130 spent -> $24,000 revenue earned
10x ROAS... $1,680 spent -> $16,800 revenue earned
What if you don't have overly high demand in your market?
It's time to start looking at a more holistic approach to marketing your business.
You will need to spend more time in the awareness part of your marketing and aim to get people onto your first-party email list to extend the length of your marketing touch points.
It's essential to keep an eye on your market's demand. We have encountered a lot of small to medium-sized businesses pouring way too much money into awareness campaigns when their prospects were already well aware of their service. They just needed to know who could provide it for them!
Understanding the demand in your market is step #1 to getting your marketing budget allocated correctly.
Build Your 1st Party Email List
Things that you don't own as a small business owner:
- Your social followers
- Your YouTube subscribers
- Your pixel'd audience data
- Your organic Google rankings
- Your Google Business Listing
- Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc
All of these incredibly important marketing platforms can be taken away from you at any time. For example:
- Google Business came to replace rankings for your own website
- Facebook Pages have less than 2% reach to your followers (unless you pay for more reach)
- Instagram has a <5% engagement rate (unless you pay for more reach)
- Google Rankings can change at any time by an algorithm update
- Yelp can start charging you for access to your market at any time (and they do)
It's so common to lose access to an audience you built (without you even being told) that people searching about being shadow banned on Instagram is consistently trending on Google!
And because it's so common there is an entire eco system on helping people not lose access to their own followers!
Here's an example of a high performing web page getting de-ranked by Google. Thousands of people loved this content and it was a great source of revenue for this business - but Google one day decided no more.
Every marketing channel that allows your customers to "follow" or "like" your online marketing is not yours. Those lists, fans, followers, and groups all belong to the website. Don't think for a second you own it and it will be with you forever.
What can't they take away from you? An email list.
Despite having a bad reputation, email marketing is insanely effective - and best of all - it can't be taken away from you.
Even if your email marketing partner decides they don't want to send your emails, you can take your list elsewhere and keep reaching out to your audience. In the landscape of digital marketing, there are very few marketing channels where you can do that.
People react strongly to nasty emails and complain loudly, but they love the emails they get from brands they trust and want to support.
Here is an example of an email list we have of real customers who love our brand with a daily average open rate of 61.7%.
Here are some examples of high performing emails that didn't even give away a coupon or discount. Just general outreach to an email list full of people who love the brand.
Email Marketing is the absolute best way to re-engage and stay top of mind to your best customers. As long as you don't spam them or send low value emails, an email list is incredibly valuable.
Sending emails to your list is so important! You will not bug them!
There's a bonus if your website sells anything online - having that email list even lets us setup some automations based potential customers activity!
Because we have the first party data (an email list), we are able to match a person browsing your website with their email address and then send them an email two hours after they looked at a product but did not checkout with it.
The math works out to have earned this small business $4.35 for every email sent out. ($1,270 earned with 293 emails sent in this one week period). Check out this data:
The digital marketing landscape changes quickly. Facebook and Instagram might not be around forever. Even giants fall - remember Myspace and Yahoo? Maybe laws change and these companies can't be this big forever.
We're not saying don't invest in those channels - just don't put all of your eggs in a basket that you can't control.
As a small business owner you need to make sure that if you build any kind of following it is on a list that you can take with you. Don't get caught having to start over if one of these platforms changes for the worse.
Right now, the best way to do this is to collect email addresses from your customers and nurture them like your own family.