How Bing’s New Mobile Features Affect Your Small Business

Last week, Bing made some improvements to their mobile search features. According to Bing, these are the first of several mobile features being rolled out over the next few weeks.

Bing for Small Business 2015

Take a look at how the following will now be displayed in Bing Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs):

Changes:

  • Extra Facts + URL Breadcrumbs
  • Deep Site Links

Bing Exact Search Results

Online reviews will be added, along with their star rating and the way they show your URL will appear differently as well.

For a “before and after” comparison of the update, visit Bing’s blog.

How will this affect my small business?

More Millennials than non-Millennials reported using a mobile device to read user reviews and to research products while shopping (50 percent versus 21 percent). Source (BCG)

Reviews greatly affect how people view your company. Think about how online reviews affect your decision to purchase when you do research for a company or product. What assumptions do you make about a restaurant,  product or business after reading online reviews?  What do you think if someone hasn’t left a review at all?  If your small business isn’t getting reviews or is getting poor reviews, this could have a detrimental impact to your overall bottom line in 2015. Reviews matter!

Bing will now provide deep site links into their mobile search results, allowing a greater number of people to access more than just your Home Page. Now visitors will have the ability to reach deeper into your website, giving them greater access to your content. Content Marketing is going to continue to impact your site visitors – especially for small businesses in 2015. Make sure your content is worthwhile and interesting to your readers and that your SEO is implemented properly.

As you can see from the above examples, small changes can make a big difference between success and failure for your business. Never miss an opportunity to reach out to your audience and always put your best foot forward.  Be prepared for more customer interactions in 2015 and watch your company (and hopefully bottom line) grow!  

Invite New Customers to Shop Your Small Business during Small Business Saturday

by Mary Jo Caruso, SEO Manager at The Interactive Firm
 

As a small business, are you looking for ways to promote your products or services, especially during the holiday season?

Take part in Small Business Saturday, an initiative to support shopping small businesses.

SS_Logo_Clean_Blue

According to American Express, which founded the movement in 2010, Small Business Saturday was created “to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.” 

Now in its fourth year, this year it falls on November 29.  Open the doors of your small business or shop up to small business supporters across the US — not only as a way to reach new customers, but to gain exposure as part of the movement and in your local community.

You can download brochures and marketing materials for your small business to help you advertise across your website and social media. American Express also supplies signage you can use to post in your stores. It’s a great way to rally your neighborhood and gain support for your local small business.

Take advantage of the varying types of participation including:

Personalized Marketing Campaign – If you hurry and fill out the marketing materials, you can still be added to ShopSmall.com.  This is the main website that will be listing local participating small businesses across the country.

Neighborhood Champions – These are usually state and local offices, chamber of commerce or local organizations who want to organize Small Business Saturday in their areas.  It might be a little late in the year now to organize this year’s event, but there’s always next year.

Join the Small Business Saturday movement and tell your neighbors what sets you apart from your competition. Enjoy the flow of traffic to your business that it generates and have a great time!  After all, it’s not every day that you are recognized for your efforts.

Image Credit: American Express

Top 5 Small Business Marketing Strategies

Mary Jo Caruso, resident SEO expert, put together her top 5 small business marketing tips!

A lot of small business owners face the same challenges online – the first and main challenge is usually that you don’t have time and energy to devote to learning all there is to know about small business marketing.

If you fall into this category, relax, sit back and unwind, while we bring you the top 5 small business marketing strategies that you should be implementing:

  1. Set up Analytics – Take Inventory of your business.  With 2015 just around the corner, now is a great time to take stock of your marketing efforts.  One of the best ways to do this is to install an analytics program.  Google Analytics is FREE and will help you gather knowledge from your website visitors & online marketing campaigns.
  2. KPI’s – They change from year to year, especially for small business marketing strategies.  Decide what you want to measure.  Are you interested in measuring Newsletter Subscribers, SEO, PPC, and Social Media?  Once you have your KPI’s, you will be able to learn from your site visitors’ behavior.
  3. Local SEO – Learn about local SEO or hire a company who can help do this for you.  There are tried and true methods to being found for local search – make sure your NAP (name, address & phone number) are visible on every page of your website.
  4. Social Media – If you have multiple social media marketing accounts (Google+, Facebook, Twitter,) make sure they are all tied together and that they are owned by the same company and have the same website URL.
  5. Website Design – Make sure your website accommodates mobile visitors.  As more people now use their mobile devices, it’s important to ensure that you have a responsive web design for your mobile website.

If you implement the above strategies to your website, over time, you will be able to change/update the tactics that you use to reach your companies’ overall goals, while attracting your target audience.

Need more small business marketing tips? Let us help you! Contact The Interactive Firm.

PPC for Small Business Owners – Part II: Getting Started

The Interactive Firm’s Paid Advertising Manager, Gouri Karode, is back with more on PPC for Small Business. Learn how to get started with PPC/CPC.

Part II: How to get started advertising on search engines

So how do you get started advertising on search engines? The major search engines all have their own advertising programs (like Google Adwords for example). Creating a goal plan is only the beginning for a paid search campaign. The following best practice tips are a good starting place for you to accomplish your objectives.

Keyword Research: It’s not just about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitor. You may want to take a look at the list of keywords you built for optimizing your website, and use those to trigger your search advertisements for right kind of visitors.
 
Analysis of the competition: Being specific about your industry and geography can often lower the cost of paid search marketing. So know the budget you have to spend and do some research to learn what results you can expect from your marketing dollars.
 
Deliver the Right PPC Ads: Have a strong call-to-action within your ad copy. If you are running a special and/or offering a discount make sure it is mentioned in the ad copy.  Give people a reason to book at your hotel with the message of urgency like “Buy Now”, “Buy More”!

These are the basics. Small business owners should take steps to keep up with their campaigns. Stay agile and maximize the efforts you’ve made.

Everyday Monitoring  You should be checking a campaign 4-5 times a week to monitor performance. Add keywords; update ad copy with latest offers and promotions.
 
Manage Complex Campaigns – Some campaigns have very large budgets and dozens of ad groups and will need high level of expertise to manage them correctly.  
 
Good SEM/PPC = A Qualified Partner – You’ll save time and money on the long term. You should have right type of talent, with the right level of experience to manage your campaigns.
 
Devise a Complete Strategy – Efficient SEM/PPC strategy must be developed as a part of your overall marketing plan. For example, if you want to target new markets, you can buy keywords through PPC and avoid waiting months to be well positioned in organic search results.

One of the most important points we share with our clients is to have a global vision of your strategy. SEM is just a part of it and that’s why you should identify opportunities, then optimize and analyze the ROI of each actions started. That’s the secret of an optimized strategy and a controlled budget.

SEM/PPC is now a basic Internet marketing tool. Very few businesses can afford to ignore it, but doing SEM to do SEM is useless, and will not bring you anything except bills. You must manage your marketing and communication strategy in a 360-degree way, by investing specifically on each sales channel that will bring ROI.

Here at The Interactive Firm, that’s what we do – create, manage and analyze PPC for your small business. We’re specialists in our field and our professional team knows how to bring visitors and revenue to your website.

Contact The Interactive Firm. Let us guide your small business through PPC.

Top 5 Small Business Web Design Tips

Every small business owner wants a website that engages your audience, creates new leads and generates revenue. While this may sound easy, it is often difficult to achieve without the proper tools and foundation. Below our SEO Manager, Mary Jo Caruso, shares her top 5 small business web design tips.

Top 5 Small Business Web Design Tips:

Build a Strong Foundation – Incorporate SEO from the beginning. If you are giving your website a facelift or upgrading to a responsive web design, this is the best time to incorporate SEO. Site Navigation, Web Design Code, Titles, Descriptions, Keywords, Images and Links all play an important part in marketing your website.

If you already have a website that does not have SEO, hire a full-service digital marketing agency like The Interactive Firm to help you. SEO not only consists of Titles, Descriptions and Keywords for your website, it also contains technical aspects that should be incorporated into your website design.

Apply the K.I.S.S. Principle – Keep It Simple. Make it easy for your site visitors to buy your products and services. Take them on a path that makes sense for them. Make sure that mobile and desktop visitors can easily access your site.

Use “Friendly” Code – Mobile devices can’t read Flash. Search Engines can’t read images. Make sure your marketing message is readily accessible to your audiences.  Make sure that your new website code is not obsolete and adheres to the W3C guidelines. Don’t make the mistake of creating beautiful Flash or image presentations that will be missed by the majority of your visitors. Save these types of assets for the proper marketing channels on the Internet.

Create Engaging Content – What sets you apart from your competition? Why is the content you are sharing important to your visitors? Will they walk away feeling as though they got value from their time spent on your site? Do they want to share it with their colleagues, friends or family?

Have a Web Design Marketing Strategy – It’s easy to redesign a website because it “looks” old or outdated, but what is its purpose? Are you launching new products or services that you want to coincide with your “new look”? What do you hope to gain? Identify your goals so you can determine the best avenues and tools to raise awareness for your new site and its purpose.

Once you have decided to create your new website, following the above tips will help you garner more relevant traffic to your site while engaging your audience and increasing your brand awareness. Contact us today to learn more about our Small Business Web Design services.

Lodging Interactive Adds to 2014 Design Accolades with W3 Awards

Exciting website design award news from our sister company, Lodging Interactive:

The Manhattan Club and Residence Inn Marriott Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharf websites, designed by Lodging Interactive, were selected to receive design awards by The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.

Lodging Interactive, an award-winning digital marketing and social media engagement firm exclusively serving the hospitality industry, continues its 2014 award streak by adding W3 Silver Awards to its industry accolades.

The 9th annual awards, which were recently announced, recognized The Manhattan Club and Residence Inn Marriott Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharf sites for distinction in web design. According to the W3 Awards website, “The W3 Awards honors creative excellence on the web, and recognizes the creative and marketing professionals behind award winning sites, videos and marketing programs.”2014 W3 Silver Award Winner

Lodging Interactive’s W3 Silver award-winning websites:

– The Manhattan Club
– Residence Inn Marriott Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharf

These accolades are the latest industry awards Lodging Interactive has won in past weeks, totaling eight in 2014. The W3 Silver Award is the third design award for The Manhattan Club’s new responsive design website. Other awards for the site include a Magellan Silver Award from Travel Weekly and 2014 Web Award. This is the second award for Residence Inn Marriott Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharf’s website which also received an Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement earlier this year.

“Once again, we are honored to receive recognition from AIVA, The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, and proudly add these two awards to the recent industry acknowledgements Lodging Interactive websites have earned,” said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. “The W3 Awards showcase our ongoing commitment to providing the best in innovative website design to the hotel industry. This is a win for our talented in-house team and the clients that have put their trust in Lodging Interactive to provide them engaging, eye-catching sites.”

To learn more about Lodging Interactive’s web design solutions for hotels, resorts, branded properties and independent or boutique hotels, please visit our website.

PPC for Small Business Owners

Why Small Businesses Need PPC from Gouri Karode, Paid Advertising Manager at The Interactive Firm.

Marketing on search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo!, using text advertisements or sponsored links, is now a reality for small business owners. Learn how with the help of The Interactive Firm’s paid search marketing efforts, you can drive quality traffic to your website and increase your revenue.

Part I: Why is PPC for small business owners essential?

SEMWhen you think about marketing on search engines you most likely think of keywords and link strategies but paid search marketing is another avenue you need to consider.

Paid search marketing (the text ads or sponsored links you find in the margins of search engine results) has proven extremely effective for large corporations and now – thanks to new search engine marketing solutions for small business – paid search isn’t just for the big guys anymore.

Paid Search is referred to as PPC (pay-per-click) or CPC (cost-per-click) marketing; because most search engines charge advertisers on a “per-click” basis – meaning the advertiser doesn’t pay anything until someone clicks through the ad.

Example:

Let’s say Ryan owns a pizza shop and he wants to increase web traffic on his website.
 
Ryan might use Paid Search and purchase query keywords like: buy gourmet pizza, ultimate cheesy pizza, and pizza around the corner.  By bidding on these keyword lists and phrases Ryan’s Pizza Shop can target customers looking for competing brands like Pizza Hut & Dominos as well as complimentary food like burgers and fried chicken by ensuring that when these search terms are used, Ryan’s Pizza Shop has an ad displayed on that searcher’s computer.

What better time to advertise to a person than exactly when they have indicated their interested in a product or service by searching for it? And, for a small business, paid search marketing (PPC/CPC) allows you to set a specific budget cap and/or location to target for your advertising campaign.

You can create a search advertising campaign that will fit within your budget, needs and location, whatever it may be.

Without understanding how pay per clicks or PPC advertising works, a small business can quickly lose money without seeing an increase in sales or traffic. Marketing your website and business using PPC requires attention to details and an understanding of how PPC advertising works to drive traffic to your website and business.

For more on how small businesses can use PPC to increase sales or website traffic, visit our website.

Want more on PPC? Gouri will provide more valuable insight into paid search in Part II of her series on PPC for small business!

Stay tuned for Part II: So how do you get started advertising on search engines?

Lodging Interactive’s New Hotel Brand Social Media Scorecard Service

Exciting news from Lodging Interactive, our sister company…

Lodging Interactive’s service ensures full compliance with hotel brand social media scorecards

Is your hotel full compliant with your brand?

Lodging Interactive, an award-winning digital marketing and social media management firm exclusively serving the hospitality industry, has launched its latest service aimed at ensuring branded properties are in compliance with their monthly brand compliance scorecards.

Hotel Social Media Scorecards

The service is provided by Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle Social Media team, experts in hospitality social media marketing and reputation management. Hotels can work with the social media management compliance team on four levels varying from basic consultation to a full-service model where CoMMingle executes brand requirements to ensure accounts are brought up to brand standards on behalf of the hotels.

Lodging Interactive’s hotel brand management and compliance services include:

Brand scorecard review
Manage brand updates on social media channels
Participate, as a hotel partner, in brand social media calls
Ongoing consulting as needed

“For branded properties, it is no longer enough to simply decide to get involved in social media,” says DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. “Hotel brands have implemented social media standards and are handing out compliance scores to branded properties. We understand what an undertaking it is to stay in compliance and on message all the time. Our service takes the guess work out of social media and provides properties with peace of mind and a scorecard they’re proud of.”

Visit our website to take advantage of the Lodging Interactive’s Hotel Brand Social Media Scorecard service.

Small Business Web Design Services

SEO Tips for your small business from SEO Manager, Mary Jo Caruso.

The Interactive Firm provides small business web design services, whether you’re interested in starting from scratch or refreshing your site’s look.

    • Are you looking to give your website a facelift?  
    • Does your website work for both desktop and mobile website visitors?  
    • Do you want a blog to enhance your already existing website?  
    • Do you need a brand new website?

Our digital marketing firm provides award-winning small business web design services. Our designs, including responsive design websites, attract visitors no matter what platform they use to connect to you — desktop, mobile device, tablet, etc.

Full Service NJ Small Business Web Design Company

Our responsive website designs are complete solutions for your business. Our client’s sites have SEO built into them – giving you a solid foundation to expand and grow over time. The customized web design suites the look and feel of your business and utilizes the latest technologies and marketing tools. Our commitment to high quality design at affordable prices means we learn the needs and goals of your business and utilize our full suite of solutions to deliver a web design perfect for your small business.

The Interactive Firm – Different From Other Small Business Web Design Firms

Our web design team works with businesses of all sizes. We know how to scale your responsive website design so that it grows with you over time.  Our designers win awards for their ability to capture audiences through images and content. We advise you about your choices when it comes to web design, but you make the final decisions.

Contact us to learn more about our NJ Small Business Web Design services or to partner with The Interactive Firm on your next website design.