David vs. Goliath Advertising Budgets: Three Simple Yet Effective Ways to Compete

david_goliath_giantReaching consumers in Houston can seem difficult or even impossible for the average small business. Large online and offline companies such as Amazon and Wal-Mart have so much money to spend on advertising that it seems there is nothing a small business based in Sugar Land could do to compete with these corporate giants. Even some of your local competitors might seem like they’ve got endless budgets, far beyond your means.

However, there are some simple, cheap (or even free) and very effective ways in which a small company can effectively reach its target market, generate more leads, and close more business in Houston.

Here are a few tips on how to compete with the advertising Goliath’s of the world:

Team Up with a Local Business

Networking with a local business is one of the best ways to reach more local clients. For instance, a veterinarian can offer discount coupons for a local pet store; in turn, the local pet store can offer coupons and/or recommend customers to the veterinarian.

Such agreements are not hard to work out and offer a win-win advertising solution to both parties involved while doubling your efforts. This form of marketing is extremely effective because it targets people who are almost certain to be interested in what you have to offer.

Consider Different Online Advertising Options

Google and Facebook ads reach millions of people, but they are not necessarily the most effective form of Houston marketing. These ads are expensive and the price tag is extremely fluid, making it difficult for a local business to keep tabs on its advertising budget.

Thankfully, there are effective advertising options that are quite reasonably priced. Companies that deal in wholesale rather than retail will find that LinkedIn ads are quite effective, as they reach owners and managers of companies that would be likely to want to do business with you.

Another great form of advertising is to pay for ad space on a local, industry-related, highly-popular blog or website. You pay a certain price per month for these ads and the ads reach local people who are very likely to be interested in what you have to offer. While you might not be reaching the masses, you know that your ads are being seen by people more qualified and targeted for your message.

Stay Abreast of Marketing Options

As technology advances, Houston small business marketing options change all the time. A form of advertising that was not feasible before may be a great option now. Conversely, a form of advertising that was effective in the past may now be a waste of your hard-earned cash. Stay abreast of marketing developments, keep a close eye on how you spend your advertising budget and note the results. Doing so will enable you to do more with less money.

A small company may not be able to compete with large corporations when it comes to prime time, network advertising during the Super Bowl, but it can effectively reach a local niche market in a way that even a multi-national company would not be able to.

A Houston business owner who follows the above mentioned points will find that it does not necessarily cost a lot of money to promote a business, product or service. In fact, sometimes less expensive advertising methods lead to more creativity, which in turn can lead to better results.

SEO is as SEO Does: Tips for Effective Search Engine Optimization

seo_keywords_marketing_etcOne of the most important things that you should know about search engine optimization (SEO) for any market, including Houston, is that it is not easy. Google is continually updating the way it ranks websites, which means that a company will need to stay abreast of SEO developments in order to earn or retain a high search engine ranking. Plus, it’s important to remember that SEO does not usually bring instantaneous results. It takes time for on-site and off-site search engine optimization to bring in heavy organic traffic.

However, keeping all this in mind, SEO as a marketing effort for any Houston business will be time and money well spent. Recent statistics show the following:

 

  • Over 131 billion search engine queries are generated every single month
  • 70% of the traffic goes to organic results rather than the paid advertisements at the top of the page.
  • Over 95% of consumers turn to the Internet to find a local business that can meet their needs – according to Local search engine statistics

 

With these numbers in mind, the question then is, “What are you doing to ensure your business is showing up for the right terms and searches?”

A busy business owner who does not have time to take on website SEO efforts on their own may want to hire a professional SEO company, like Cox Media Group. There are a number of Houston based digital marketing agencies and media companies that have diverse experience in handling long term on-page and off-page optimization for businesses. Even if you have a Marketing Director, they may not have the time or expertise to execute an effective SEO and content marketing strategy.

However, whether you hire an expert or do it yourself, every business owner and marketer should know the basics of SEO. Knowing which tactics are effective and which are not can save you thousands of dollars in advertising and generate a significant amount of revenue.

Choose Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are five to ten words in length. These keywords have the potential to be highly profitable because they do not get much competition; at the same time customers who are seriously interested in buying a particular product or service often use them.

For example, a local car wash company might want to show up for “Car Wash” or even “Car Wash in Houston” but these keywords might be more competitive than others and could attract a variety of people not actually searching for services but instead want tips on how to wash their own car. However, long-tail keywords such as “Car Wash Company in Downtown Houston” or “Best Car Wash Companies in Memorial Park” are going to provide you with much more qualified and targeted searchers.

Increase the Number of Indexed Pages with a Company Blog

Having a blog, and consistently publishing on it, can have many benefits to a Houston business. However, one of the top SEO benefits is the ability to greatly increase the number of indexed pages on your site while incorporating keyword-optimized posts onto your website.

Strongly written and consistently published content that answers the questions of your prospects and customers is the best kind of content to deliver on a company blog. Skip the product announcements and press releases and instead write about what people actually want to read and share. This will ensure your site is showing up for a variety of keyword terms, while also establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry and area.

Use Video in Your Online Marketing

Video content is one of the few forms of online content that has not been negatively affected by Google’s recent search engine updates. Post an interesting or informative video related to your business on YouTube, add the company URL in the description field and choose keyword-rich tags. Because Google owns YouTube, it often gives relevant videos from this site a first-page ranking.

Plus, videos and images are the most shared content online – especially with social media – so having this kind of content with your name on it can benefit your company in many ways.

Test, Optimize, and Stay Informed

What does and does not work in the realm of SEO is changing all the time. Tactics that worked well yesterday may be detrimental to your site today. Keywords that were irrelevant yesterday may be highly popular now due to trends in the marketplace. The key to successful SEO is to keep up with local developments, analyze site and buyer statistics, consistently do your research, and experiment to see which keywords work for you.

Write for Humans

Above all, continue to include website copy and content on your site that is written for humans. Follow copy writing best practices and ensure that your headlines make sense. Be descriptive, tell a story, make your website user-friendly, and be active on social media. All of these best practices will help ensure you are driving organic traffic to your site for years to come.

A company that wants to successfully drive new traffic to their site will find that SEO can be one of the most effective ways of doing so. At the same time, a company owner must realize that SEO is not a “magic wand” that can bring in instant success. It takes time, effort, and expertise to ensure that it is done right.

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Your Houston Online Marketing Estimate: What Does it All Mean?

online_marketing_termsFor your business’s online advertising you might find yourself working with a local media group or a Houston online marketing company to facilitate the purchase of different marketing assets. While it’s critical to have a solid strategy in place before launching any type of campaign, it’s also important to be sure you understand what is being presented to you by a third party so you can make an educated decision.

We don’t want your possible lack of knowledge of the internet marketing world to negatively impact your purchasing power, so we’ve compiled some of the most popular terms and language you’ll find in an online marketing estimate. Fully understanding these terms will also help ensure you are able to properly measure and track your results online.

Above the Fold:

Ideally, any time you place an ad on a website, you want to be above the fold. This references to being on the top part of a webpage so you are visible without a person having to scroll further down the page.

Analytics:

Any Houston marketing campaign should provide you with analytics. This is a form of metrics to tell you about the performance of your marketing so you can check on the effectiveness.

Behavioral Targeting:

This is a great marketing tool as it will put the ads in front of people who are more likely to take action. If your marketing estimate doesn’t have this, you want to find out who your ads are being placed in front of.

CTR:

This is known as the click through rate. You need to know this number so you know how many people are clicking on the ad to go to your website.

Conversion Rate:

This is the rate that tells you how many people are becoming customers or taking action on your site instead of actually visiting. You want a high conversion rate with any marketing campaign as it will bring you more business and/or leads.

CPA:

This is the cost per acquisition. Instead of just getting a click, this is the cost per actionable event, such as a purchase or filling out a lead form.

CPC:

This is the cost per click. You would pay a pre-determined rate for each click that you get to your website. You need to be cautious of this rate because you want a good location and behavioral targeting on the higher priced clicks.

Day Parting:

You need to know if your campaign is subject to day parting. Similar to how you would market with a commercial, your ads would only be visible during certain times of the day or week based upon your agreements and settings.

Impressions:

This is the number of times someone has viewed a page with your ad on it. It may not be your ad, but they have the chance to view your ad. Many times, an estimate will include the cost per 1,000 impressions.

Paid Search:

This is another form of pay per click or search engine marketing where you pay to be listed in the search engine result pages.

PPC:

Pay per click, otherwise known as cost per click.

ROI:

Return on investment – you want a high ROI to have a successful marketing campaign and you want to make sure the company you’re working with has a plan in place to track and measure your ROI.

SERPs:

Search engine result pages. When someone searches in a search engine, the results or links that show up on that page are known as SERPs.

All of these terms should have you well on your way to talking the lingo and understanding how your Houston online marketing estimate and campaign is made up. And any Houston online marketing company you’re working with should be more than willing to explain terms and make sure your proposal and estimate is 100% clear.

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Top Mistakes Made in Houston Paid Search Ad Campaigns

ppcIn the digital age, getting to the top of search results and competing online has become increasingly more difficult. But paying for search ads (or pay per click ads) on search engines such as Google or Bing allows you to have a prominent location for your desired keywords, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website when prospects are searching online. However, these types of paid search advertising campaigns should be carefully planned to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth rather than throwing it down the drain.

We’ve compiled the top mistakes that Houston businesses often make when placing a paid search campaign for their business. Be sure to avoid the following fatal flaws and you’ll be well on your way to search engine marketing success!

1. Only utilizing paid search and ignoring organic search

Many businesses spend a lot of time and money focusing on paid search, which can be incredibly effective when done right, but you shouldn’t ignore search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities. Online searches are all different and when targeting specific keywords you want to have a solid SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) plan in place to make sure you’re covering all of your bases. In our experience, Houston companies are most successful with search when they implement both tactics into their online marketing plan.

2. Going too big

Remember the old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket? This extends to paid search campaigns, and frankly, any advertising tactics in general. We suggest you never run a single campaign around just one keyword. Several smaller campaigns might provide you with the greater payoff in the end, as well as the ability to test and optimize your efforts.

3. Having one creative message across all online marketing

The ads that appear directly on the search results may not be the best option for Facebook or Google’s Display Network, which includes other sites and non-text advertising options. You should absolutely have different creative messages and campaigns for the different sites you advertise on, as well as the uses of those sites. Think about the target audience, the placement, the way users interact with these different sites, and always plan on testing your creative.

4. Not thinking local

Marketing to Houstonians is a big job because Houston is a top market with a lot of competition. It’s also full of many different neighborhoods and some people rarely leave their work and home “bubble.” You might want to ask yourself if your business caters to specific neighborhoods like The Heights, Bellaire or Spring Branch? Not only does thinking about smaller areas open up new keywords for Houston online marketing campaigns, but it also attracts more potential customers by speaking directly to them in a way that you can’t do when targeting Houston as a whole.

5. Ignoring long-tail keywords

Long phrases, also known as “long-tail keywords”, are less frequently searched but they are often much more targeted and effective in reaching your ideal prospects. Plus, long-tail keywords tend to have a better conversion rate due to their focus and can ultimately provide better results.

Research shows that more online users are searching by asking questions or typing in more detailed queries. This is why Google recently updated their search algorithm to reflect this type of activity. As a whole, consumers are become more and more savvy in fine-tuning their online search to help deliver exactly what they’re looking for in the shortest amount of time.

6. No customer benefit

Yes, your company might be 80 years old and trusted, but what can you do for consumers right now? Are you available 24/7? Do you have a money-back guarantee? Maybe you make house calls. Any way you can guarantee effectiveness and/or promote your convenience to customers makes your company look desirable and sets you apart from the competition.

7. Lacking call to action

Internet users want to know what they should do next. Should they click here? Call now? Buy this product? Whatever it is, add that call to action to any online advertising including paid search copy and encourage browsers to become buyers.

8. Not testing your ads

After you create a paid search ad campaign, take the time to compare your efforts. Some keywords may not perform as well as others… or maybe some keywords deliver lower conversion rates but more qualified leads. This is the kind of datathat you want to be sure you’re tracking. If you don’t have the expertise or time to properly track and manage your paid search campaign then make sure you hire an expert who can.

9. Skipping paid search advertising all together

Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean that purchasing paid search ads isn’t possible. You might not have the dollars to compete for the most targeted keywords but with the right research and long-tail keyword strategy in place you can effectively reach consumers early on in the sales process by showing up for the right search results.

10.  Bad website or landing page

Once someone clicks on your ad you want to make sure they’re directed to the exact page their expecting to get. If you provided a special offer in your copy, then they should be sent to a landing page that reflects this exact promotion… not just your homepage.

Also, it’s critical that your website is updated and user-friendly. This could be a consumer’s first impression of your brand and getting the click is only half the battle, they need to be happy with where they ended up or you’ll immediately lose them and probably not have the chance to win them back.

11. Starting SEM campaigns over repeatedly

Google rewards businesses with relevancy and history. The longer you’re out there with an SEM campaign – the better your quality score will be with Google – and the higher you’ll pull up in search results. Every time you pull your campaign, you pull your history and momentum. Have some faith and keep your SEM campaigns alive. There will always be peaks and valleys – especially in the start. Ride the wave to the upswing and you’ll see it will have been worth the time.