Do you feel like your current marketing just isn’t doing it for your local business? Did the last lot of fliers bomb when you took them round the Stanwix side of Carlisle?
Social Media Gets Cumbria and Borders Businesses Heard, Seen and Found! The jury isn’t even out on this any more, it’s a well demonstrated fact. It is no longer a new fangled nonsense this social media thing… it’s here to stay and it’s evolving faster than the flu virus.
When it comes to SEO Cumbria is way behind the times! From business start ups in Barrow to established businesses in Eskdale; desperate for fresh customers; it’s the same old head in sand attitude from Cumbrian business owners.
Google Places Listings: What Cumbria Businesses Need to Know!
(Since this page was originally posted the whole frame of reference for Google Places has changed. The system is being absorbed by Google Plus to act as part of the context marketing economy that is on the horizon. RC 29/11/12)
How are your customers finding people these days? Once upon a while, they were doing their research in phone books and newspapers. Footwork and local knowledge were needed in the days before directories and t’Internet!
The current answer almost completely ignores the traditional methods of local places research. The simple fact is, possibly 90% of your customers are searching for what they want by typing their question into a search engine such as Google. Just as you have done many, many times yourself!
If I need the contact details for takeaway food or to book a haircut when my usual people are busy or closed; what do I do? I look up “indian takeaway”; typically in Google and check out what appears first and I don’t dig very deep! Enjoy this video and start to get a feel for the importance of a places listing that shows up on Google Maps for searches that are relevant to my indian takeaway example.
This short video ”What You Need know About Google Places Listings” I’ve attempted to give you a flavour of why Google Places Listings are so important to any small to medium enterprise with a local customer base. As the video explains, this example is focussed on Carlisle in Cumbria. Much business consulting and website design happens in complete obliviousness to the importance of Internet marketing for even small enterprises. So many fantastic LOOKING websites are never seen by the target market, because nobody involved had the skills or knowledge to optimise the on-line presence of the business to match the actual habits of the people searching for your product or service.
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These case studies of some of our clients are a very simple demonstration of the new online marketing reality. Investment in your website, to create a positive return on the investment you have made in your business, is one of the most effective ways to increase profits and viability, particularly in these days of hesitant recovery. Traditional advertising simply doesn’t produce the returns that it used to. Paper advertising is so wasteful, it’s an affront to green business. It cannot be tracked with any accuracy and it almost always results in people trying to find you online anyway. So make it easy for customers or clients to find you and reduce the friction – that takes them to your competitors. Whether you need help with social media marketing, getting your website found or turning web visitors into engaged fans and buyers, who come back for more; we can help you find the pathway that will funnel more customers your way.
I was approached by Tony Stephenson Social Media for Business. Tony was seeking some assistance with work for one of his major clients Tentipi AB of Sweden, manufacturers of Nordic tipis. The remit was to promote the Tentipi Adventure range of Nordic tipis internationally via Twitter and Facebook. With an increasing work load he needed someone with experience of the outdoors and with an understanding of the equipment needed to engage in a range of outdoor activities. This had to be combined with social media skills and an ability to apply an understanding of Brand values across several social media platforms. This fitted into my development plan perfectly, so we agreed to collaborate on this work. Over the following 3 months Tony inducted me into the very intense work pattern established by the company, based on his own and his colleague’s extensive training and experience of a full social media management workload. My early foundations in social media marketing have been substantially enhanced through this level of business involvement. Communicating with the target audience has involved developing a high level of understanding of products, the audience, and the Brand values too. All this has been necessary to allow sourcing of good quality materials of interest to the target market, promoting everything about the Tentipi brand and its values in a proportionate manner, responding to user engagement, referring sales leads and enquiries to the most appropriate suppliers internationally; and the management of lists, followers and fans. Building on the foundations established before September 2012, we have continued to test and refine what we offer to the Tentipi audience. Followers on Twitter have grown from around 3000 to current levels of almost 4300. We have a low level of unfollowing and good levels of engagement. The Facebook account has grown from around 1200 to over 1800 in the same time frame and very high levels of engagement are common. During my period of involvement with Tentipi social media marketing has been directly involved in new distributors and retail stores selling the brand. Numerous retail enquiries now combine with excellent levels of engagement within our target markets. Feedback from our client Tentipi AB is, likewise, excellent, and CEO Bengt Grahn is increasing his commitment to social media marketing activities for 2013.
Solway Timber Engineering Ltd (STE) were established in January 2012 on the site of a previous timber frame manufacturer. A website had already been prepared and launched but did not appear in any search results for products or services; apart from “floor cassettes Dumfries” and it’s own brand names. The website was an almost direct copy of the company’s brochure and was constructed in a tables format that severely distorted many of the images. There was no sign of any keyword awareness in the text and the navigation menu did not correspond with any queries that customers or clients make. The client asked for a social media package initially, but I had to point out that the current website would simply bounce potential clients away as it did not address any searches at all. As a result it was agreed to use the simplest approach to attracting leads through organic search engine optimisation. After detailed keyword research and assessment of competing websites, 6 primary keywords were identified. Content was rewritten, the layout of the website was tweaked to improve the images; navigation links were altered to echo the chosen keywords and the metadata of each page and image were updated to match the theme of each page. Social media sharing buttons were also added to the pages to encourage some sharing. Externally, a set of directory listings were generated, as was a Google Plus Local listing. (Again this caused problems as Google kept regenerating business listings at STE’s location but with an incorrect address. This was traced to the previous company’s listing which seems to have used a non standard address, of which there were many copies still scattered around in the major business directories.) Slowly these old listings are being found and eliminated and the correct Google listing for STE is gaining ground. The website continues to generate leads from its surrounding area which are converting to sales of many products.
Stanwix Community Association required a website that would help them get over a period of 2 years when the community association was unable to generate any revenue; due to a long drawn out refurbishment and frost damage. Members of the community association were keen to be able to automate some of the booking processes and to be found in local searches for appropriate keywords. One committee member with an eye for design chose the overall look of the website. It was then optimised for a series of 7 keywords that appeared to be related to the target audience we wanted to attract to hire the room and keep it viable for the community members to use for their activities. Despite being up against a network of long established local authority community centres, different landing pages soon began to appear in searches for the services we offer. 1 page failed to: but this is deliberately de-tuned: until the facilities are in place to actively promote Stanwix Community Centre as a training room. Currently the website brings in 2 or 3 ad hoc bookings per month which is on target for the first year. It is also one of the key factors that has attracted the attention of adult education leaders to take the “tiniest” community centre seriously as a venue.
The owner of Arte Plumbing and Electrical Services in Andover sounded quite pleased when he told me that they had finally got round to getting a website online. When asked how many leads it had generated, the answer was none! When we looked for it online, it only showed up for searches that included the brand name. Educating the company about the possibilities of being able to tune in to what prospects were looking for online allowed a very low budget project to take place. The business did have good placements in Yell and Mybuilder listing services; but had little else showing up online. However despite the alphabetical advantage of the company name in the listing services, they were still lost in a sea of competitors. The strategy for Arte involved focussing the website on a 3 keywords that suited the business he wanted to attract; rewriting the text content of the pages and then converting the site to a very basic WordPress installation. Next, a series of local business listings were set up and a Google Places (now Google Plus Local) listing set up. There is virtually no social media work being done for this website. We discovered in the course of this work that there was a troublesome rogue Google listing which had been placed on the business address of Arte Plumbing. Research indicated that the company listed, no longer existed (in fact it had ceased trading years ago from it’s central Andover location) and a long drawn out process of enlisting Google’s support people, to permanently remove the listing followed. After moving the marker several times (and it being placed back on the wrong address); it did begin to look like another example of malicious work by a competitor. Persistence paid off and Google eventually got back to us with a phone call and the listing was removed. This highlights the importance of claiming, taking control of and editing your local business listings in all the important directories. The changes resulted in Arte being in the top 3 results for plumber / plumbers/ emergency plumber and commercial plumbers for Andover consistently for the past two years. Recent changes in the way Google assesses the search results and website’s suitability for ranking have actually increased Arte’s ranking, highlighting the effectiveness and long term value of the original work carried out. The website continues to generate a slow steady 2 or 3 leads per month which convert to paying customers.
Amberdrive Services are a driving school in Carlisle. On first acquaintance with this client, we found that the company’s Google Places listing was quite strong, being found in 3rd to 5th place for most of the keyword phrases that are valuable to the business. The website however, languished at the bottom of page 5. There was a programme of Pay per Click advertising in place which was generating leads and paying customers for the learn to drive market and the training to become an instructor market. The rate of generation was low and the company was paying a high rate to get any adverts into prominent locations. Several of the keywords targeted were disallowed by Google because of low quality scores for the landing pages and there was virtually no organic search traffic to the website. In this case the cure was relatively straight forward, as the content simply had no optimisation for key phrases such as “driving lessons Carlisle” or “instructor training Carlisle”. In other words, it did not speak to the questions being asked by people looking for driving lessons and driving instructor training. Content was rewritten within the limitations of the existing html website’s graphically controlled layout, as the client was unwilling to start over. Within 4 weeks the website had risen from the depths of page 5, to 5th place on the first page of search engine results. (Interestingly the Places listing completely vanished.) What at first appeared to be a disaster; proved to be an affirmation of success. The new found prominence of Amberdrive had prompted a competitor to flag the business as permanently closed. This was rather inconvenient for the 2 weeks it took before we could remove this status.) The Places listing soon returned to its place and over the following months it would often be 2nd in the Local Listings Pack on the search results page. The website ranked in the top 3 for an extended period of over 18 months. (update Feb 2013: The business owner decided not to continue with any more organic SEO work, other competitor websites improved their standard and gradually pushed Amberdrive out of their place in the first page of organic results). Local SEO, tuning your website in to the needs of your locally based prospects, works… and it can severely rattle your competitors even in a small city like Carlisle! It is important to understand that Search Engine Optimisation is rarely a one time fix; your competition are also looking to own the positions at the top of the search results and will gradually overtake your standard if you do not continue to adapt and improve your offering. (update May 2013: The business moved out of Carlisle to new offices at the owner’s home and this has resulted in a noticeable decline in its ranking in the following 6 weeks). Further Work Recommendations:
If you want a bigger slice of the local commercial pie, you need to take action now! Don’t wait until the competition have already taken the easiest pickings! Online marketing that uses the best SEO, Social Media and Web Design strategies has repeatedly been proven to deliver the lowest cost new leads and customers. Let Consulting Cumbria Ltd turn your website from just another ghost town on the web, into a lead generation profit driver. Do you want evidence rather than anecdote? Get valuable fresh marketing research insights by signing up to our email list. Getting your business in front of the right – targeted – eyeballs, belonging to the ideal customers for your business because you are prominent in search results, will involve a mixture of the following strategies:
Well… what are you waiting for, the journey to improved returns can start here. You know your website could do better than the competition. Get More Customers by picking up the phone now. Talk to Ray Cassidy on 01228 907 795 or 07576 893 178