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Integrated Digital Strategies - A Franchise Marketing Agency

There's an old saying in the marketing world that states, “half of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half.” The other adage commonly heard was that if you throw your ad dollars against the wall like a bowl of spaghetti, half will stick and half will fall to the ground.

Outbound marketing is similar to the two adages referenced above. When newspapers were strong and full page ads in a major Sunday metro publication cost tens of thousands of dollars, many ads were ROP, or run of the press. What this means is that they are randomly placed throughout the paper. The problem with this outdated approach is that it is “spray and pray” or a “shotgun strategy.” Advertisers who used this strategy hoped that a reader who needed their product or service would see the ad and take action including making a phone call or visiting a store. It was not targeted marketing.

The same could be said about a radio ad. The desired outcome is that an interested consumer hears a commercial. The only problem, however, is that the odds of this happening are slim. When you consider how many radio stations exist and how many people listen to an ad that answers a specific need the consumer has at that moment, the potential audience of potential buyers is fractional.

Outbound marketing is mass marketing. It does not deliver a message to a targeted audience. Rather, it blasts a promotion or pitch that tries to sell to people that have little to no interest in what is being sold. Typically, this form of marketing sells to the consumer and does not educate them based on their specific needs. Consequently, a high percentage of ad dollars are wasted.

inbound marketing

Shift From Outbound to Inbound Marketing

Fast forward to today, where inbound marketing has had a revolutionary impact on the way people seek information and purchase goods and services. There are profound differences in the manner that consumers obtain information to purchase products and services. The advent of inbound marketing has everything to do with the internet. When people search on Google, they provide keywords or phrases for exactly what they are looking for. In an instant, they are provided an endless array of options to browse through.

The biggest change in this paradigm shift in marketing is that the consumer is now in control. While sitting at their desk at work or on their couch at home, they are able to seek solutions to their needs on their terms. The days of flipping through the Sunday newspaper to find what you are looking for are over. Trying to remember an ad on TV or radio is a thing of the past. Inbound marketing has created efficiencies in the way we obtain and process information. Websites have enabled any individual or company to have complete control of their information.

Not that long ago, a company would buy an ad in the Yellow Pages and they would be stuck with the same static message for a year. With a website, the message may be changed in a moment’s notice. Furthermore, the volume of information contained on a website is exponentially higher than any form of outbound marketing options that previously existed.

What does this mean for the consumer? It means that they obtain information when they want it and how they want it. With behavioral targeting, the messages they receive are sent to them because they either asked for it or it was sent to them with content that is based on their online profile of places they have visited on the web. The most important aspect of this change in marketing is that the consumer is able to educate themselves prior to making a purchase. Most people prefer to buy something rather than be sold.

What does inbound marketing mean for the advertiser? It means that they are now able to precisely target their ideal buyer of their product or service. This could be done with the following digital media:

In conclusion, marketing today is far more efficient and effective than it was a few years ago. Buying habits and profiles of consumers have become so sophisticated that advertising is geared toward people who are interested in what advertisers are selling. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the marketing is easily measured. The days of hoping that half of an advertiser’s marketing is working is over. With inbound marketing, it’s now easy to target a potential buyer and know with a high degree of certainty that the advertising is working.

Contact the experts at Integrated Digital Strategies to learn more.

Search Engine Optimization

Most small businesses understand the power and importance of Search Engine Optimization. These businesses normally fall into three categories: 1: They have a budget and will hire an outside firm that masters SEO. 2: They get their “cousin Vinny” to do it. Or 3: They try to manage it themselves, which in turn allows their competition that is most likely doing #1 to bypass them in the search results. Most small business owners who think they’re good at SEO rely on the knowledge they may have learned years ago or from one-off articles that are read from time to time. True SEO practitioners are needed nowadays to truly understand the intricacies and changes that have come down the pipeline over the past two years.

Because we know that most small businesses either practice #2, #3 or do ZERO SEO, we are providing 5 Local SEO Mistakes that we have seen many businesses make recently. Avoiding these mistakes can pay off dividends… so here they are….

Not Considering Local Intent

Over 33% of all searches on Yahoo, Google, and Bing have local intent. Mobile searches have also dominated the way people look for local businesses (represents over 27% of all searches) which only drives home the importance of being optimized locally. In order for local businesses to be found and chosen by searchers, there are several strategies that need to be in place. Some include:

The time and effort spent on creating optimized content for local searches will be well spent.

Ignoring Social Media

Many small business owners ignore social media due to “being too busy” or “not knowing the true ROI”. Others think its too frivolous or their potential customers would never make buying decisions being active in it. Well, none of this is true. You CAN measure the ROI of your social media and social media DOES have an effect on the bottom line…..only if you have a strategy in place.

Businesses that aren’t on social media are missing out on awesome opportunities to expand their search engine visibility. Putting out strategic, fresh content is not only friendly for your users, but the links associated with shares are becoming increasingly more important for search engines.

Afraid of getting into social media full force? Don’t know where to start? Do research on your competitors. See where they are active socially. Most importantly, find the channels your customers are active on. Focus on one channel at a time, updating it with fresh content, interact with customers and potential customers then add more social channels as you see fit.

Duplicate Content Issues

Content marketing, while a huge buzzword right now, is something every business should master if they want to appease the search engines and transition their business according to how people make their buying decisions now. Many larger corporations have taken full advantage of content marketing by hiring editorial teams, adding continuous blog content and engaging their customers over time through nurturing and creating “Youtilities“. Some smaller businesses may see this and get discouraged as it takes time, dedication, resources and a complete understanding of WHY you’re doing it in the first place.

For those small businesses, a common practice might be to duplicate site content that was well written or well optimized for the search engines. This may increase the size of the website but its frowned upon by the “All Mighty” Google and makes for a bad user experience. Duplicating content is a focus of Googles recent algorithm change called Penguin 2.0. This change finds unethical search engine optimization strategies/ tactics and will remove the website itself from being able to rank well. Duplicate content may seem like the easy way out but it causes more issues than it does benefit your local or national business.

Not Posting Fresh Content

Posting duplicate content on your site can also be as bad as not posting any content at all. Not understanding the benefit updating your site’s content or blogging causes many small business owners to be sporadic or not create fresh content at all. Studies have shown that having consistent, fresh content on your site, increases organic search rankings and keeps people coming to your site which is important for Google’s ranking factors. There are several easy ways smaller businesses can create fresh and unique content in conjunction to social media. A couple tactics include…

Your Search Engine Optimization is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Just because you’ve done keyword research and a little bit of competitive intel, doesn’t mean you’re able to stop. Search Engine Optimization is a long-term strategy that includes continuous tweaking and changes. The previously mentioned tactics are a great first step to launch your small business marketing campaign but they aren’t the end all be all. You should always be looking to generate new content ideas, build links to your site and to make sure the user experience on your website is top notch.

As Google’s algorithms change, businesses that answer the questions their local prospects are looking to get answered will become more and more relevant in the search engines. The importance of keywords will always be there, but major search engines are growing further away from needing only keywords to know what your website or brand is all about. Starting around 2 years ago, your business is an accumulation of all of your earned and owned media. Wanting to “be #1 on Google” in a short period of time may happen but the tactics used to get there will end up hurting you. Take your time, be strategic and be consistent with search engine optimization.

reputation management

A recent Wall Street Journal article written by Angus Loton reports that small and mid-sized U.S. businesses are expected to spend $700 million on tech tools or platforms to monitor customer opinions on the Web over the next year, more than double the spending in the past 12 months. This is according to BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Va., media-research firm. With the explosion of digital content, it is necessary for businesses to monitor their representation in the digital world. The practice of data scraping creates negative consequences when contact information is copied and re-purposed on other sites. Companies frequently move, change URL’s, telephone numbers, and other pertinent information that are critical to how a company is represented publicly. Loton reports in his article that Matt Booth, Bia/Kelsey’s chief strategy officer and program director for interactive local media, says more businesses are expected to shift from using free online applications to paid services in the year ahead, in part because the job of monitoring online reviews and other comments is simply too much work.

This issue was of little importance in the days when telephone numbers rarely changed. People either found you in the Yellow Pages and White Pages or called 411. Today there is an endless array of data points for people to reach you. Cell phones, smartphones, and traditional landlines, social media, and email are all commonly used to communicate. It is important to monitor how and where your company is represented online.

Online Reputation Management

Fortunately, online reputation management helps to search the Internet and find all mentions of your company. This service provides basic information regarding the who, what, where and when of a company all from one location. In addition, references in social media and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are sent to you regularly. Reputation management allows you to monitor good comments if your company is mentioned in a positive manner. Conversely, when complaints or negative comments are uncovered, this service may provide a great opportunity to take corrective action to help provide better service.  In some instances, it is possible to act proactively by responding directly to the consumer by making good on a bad interaction.

For example, if a patron to your restaurant complains on Twitter about bad service or poor quality, you will receive an alert as soon as the following day. This allows you to promptly reach out to the dissatisfied customer to assure them that you want to make good on their negative experience. Perhaps offering a complimentary meal, or even dessert or a drink. This corrective action will let them know that you care and are aware of the situation will go a long way toward improving your reputation. Conversely, if you receive rave reviews, you may want to post the good news on Facebook or Twitter to generate positive publicity. At IDS, we strive to provide you with the tools to accentuate the overwhelmingly good reviews that most businesses receive, thereby overshadowing any negative publicity- which is often almost impossible to erase.

Integrated Digital Strategies Can Help

Integrated Digital Strategies (www.idigitalstrategies.com) provides a robust reputation management platform and listing push to more than 100 popular internet sites. This enables companies to closely monitor posted reviews and how they are represented online. We will help you set up a custom dashboard that provides frequent updates so that you are kept abreast of any information that references your company. The good news is that most companies generate positive comments. Estimates are that 75% of all reviews and references online are positive. Those that aren’t positive may now be addressed and possibly corrected.

Contact us today and let us know how Integrated Digital Strategies may assist you in managing your company in the positive manner you desire. We will provide you with the technology required to instantly monitor feedback and present your company in the best light possible.

Dentist looking at patient records

Advertising seems like it's losing its appeal. Many dental content marketing consultants say that all you really need is a solid inbound marketing program and new clients will come streaming in the door. Well, I'm here to say that it's not true.

If anyone is a firm believer in Inbound Marketing, it's me. I also believe that most dentists need to have a supplemental paid media budget set aside for their advertising program. Simply creating content and throwing it up on your blog isn't enough now. A well thought out dental content marketing strategy needs to be in place before you start investing your time and money into any sort of marketing. Seeing that search engines such as Google are constantly updating the strategies associated with inbound marketing, it's important for you to be up-to-date on the latest practices.

Ways to Improve Your Dental Content Marketing

There are three ways that can improve the results from your current dental content marketing:

For more information about how you can target more customers for your dental practice with dental content marketing strategies, reach out to the inbound marketing experts at Integrated Digital Strategies and find out what we can do for you!

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