February 19, 2007

What's New in Internet Marketing - Part 2: Local Search

What's New about How People Search

Nielsen//NetRatings reports that online search rose 39 percent between January 2005 and January 2006. The pace of online search use continues in the double-digits.

In addition (and amazingly, to me), people are using search engines to find sites that they already know about and sites that have familiar URLs, such as using search engines to find "google" or "ebay." Instead of simply typing in the URL in the address bar (www.ebay.com) they're going to Google and typing "ebay" in the search box. More and more, people are using search engines as the start page for all their online needs.

According to WebProNews, three out of five shoppers say that the internet is their primary source of information when evaluating products and services. The greater the household income, the more likely it is that a person will use the internet to compare products and services.

Nielsen/NetRatings also reports that Google typically getting 50 percent of all the searches performed; therefore, it is wise to start with Google when planning any of your search engine marketing techniques. For comparison purposes, Yahoo hovers around 23 percent of all searches performed, and MSN slides in third at 8 percent.

Notes and News about Local Search

One of the up-and-coming internet marketing techniques is "local search." Think of local search as an online replacement for the Yellow Pages. People type in a search phrase to find local service providers, local retailers, and local restaurants.

For example, a typical user might go to Google and type in "painting contractor san diego," and local contractors will show up at the top of the page. In addition to listing the contractors, local search also tells the user how many miles away they are, and provides a map to show the user where the contractor's location is. The best part is, if the contractor has a website, local search will display that URL as well. Bingo!

Here are some tips for using local search as one of your marketing techniques:
  • Make sure that all the branch locations of your company are listed.
  • Make sure your website is in the search engine's organic listings; most search engines won't include you in their local search database unless you are in their main database.
  • Be patient; getting listed in local search can sometimes can 7-8 weeks.
  • Google's local search: http://local.google.com/
  • Yahoo's local search: http://local.yahoo.com/

February 14, 2007

Older Americans Jumping On The Internet

According to an article in this week's Time Magazine, people aged 50 and older are jumping on the Internet at ever increasing rates. For instance, in 2002 only 38% of adults over 50 were on the internet. Recently that number has shot up to 54% and the numbers are growing!

Long have my clients lamented that internet marketing wasn't working if their target audience was over 50. Sounds like a change is in the air! If you've been putting off internet marketing because you think your audience isn't "wired," now is the time to put internet marketing back into your marketing plan.

February 7, 2007

State Business Tax Climate Rankings

From the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship:

If you really hate paying taxes, you might consider a move to Wyoming. That’s because Wyoming ranks No. 1 in the latest State Business Tax Climate rankings produced by the Tax Foundation. Each year, the Tax Foundation assesses how states perform on a host of measures. The reports assess 113 different variables that examine corporate taxes, individual taxes, sales, unemployment, and property taxes. The Index doesn’t simply honor states for keeping taxes low.

The Tax Foundation’s top performers have low, flat taxes that treat all taxpayers in a similar manner. In addition to Wyoming, other top performers (in rank order) are: South Dakota, Alaska, Nevada and Florida. On the other side of the ledger are Rhode Island (#50), Ohio (#49), and New Jersey (#48).

February 5, 2007

What Ever Happened to Customer Service?

It happens all the time and I'm beginning to feel like I have a "customer service bad luck charm" hanging around my neck.

I go to the supermarket, and the checkout person spends more time talking to her coworker about how much she hates her job, than she spends thanking me for my business.

I call a contractor to fix a problem with the roof, and he never calls back.

I wait on hold for 30 minutes before the phone company picks up my call. Or worse, I get a recording that says, "Our phone lines are busy, try calling us back later."

We are told over and over again that we have to be unique to catch the attention of prospective customers. But in most industries and professions, you aren't all that unique. (There are hundreds of small business coaches!) Here's one way you can shine above the rest: good customer service.

We're becoming immune to poor customer service, probably because we receive bad service so often that we're not expecting anything better. Even our colleagues will take other phone calls while on the phone with us, or read their email while we're trying to have a conversation. It's an epidemic.

Instead of getting angry and frustrated at businesses that don't treat you right, create a list of "Things I'll never do to my customers or colleagues." Do everything you can to focus solely on your customers when you're communicating with them. Send them thank-you cards after you start working together, or when a colleague sends you a referral.
These small things do matter and will make you shine...and bring you more business!