Make time for Offline – BusDev and the SME #7

At its most simple there are three business development objectives:BusDevFunnel

  • Keep existing customers (retention)
  • Add new customers (conversion)
  • Increase the base of prospective customers (generation)

A well designed and built website, coupled with effective online marketing, will keep users coming back and make it easy for website visitors to convert to become either users or paying customers.

Effective online search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns will drive traffic to the site and enable the number of prospects to increase. Previously I outlined some of the important online SEO steps to improve site visibility as well as using PPC to drive relevant traffic to the site through the smart use of keywords.

Another part of the online BusDev toolkit is a series of techniques collectively known as Offline SEO. While some of these techniques are technical, the majority do not require technical expertise, and may be contributed to by a range of people in the business.

The objective of offline SEO is to build Trust, Authority and Relevance with your target audience which will draw them to the Authoritysite. This is a longer term strategy, and underpins online SEO activities.

The tools at your disposal are many and varied but here are my Top 5 offline SEO strategies; ones that will positively impact your site metrics.

1. Be active on (relevant) social media
If you are a business to consumer (B2C) company then you should be active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. If you are a B2B company then LinkedIn is likely to be more relevant SocialMediaIconsto you than Facebook. Social media activity can be executed by your digital agency or in-house marketing team, but it also provides an opportunity for everyone in the business to get involved, with appropriate training and the guidance of a company social media policy.

While this may seem like an insurmountable task for the social media newcomer there are many productivity tools, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, to make the task more efficient.

2. Produce an informative blog
A blog is a great way to build credibility and authority in your geographic region, market sector or functional specialisation. A blog is straight forward to set up with tools such as the leading blog HowtoBlogapplication, WordPress. The hard(er) part is the regular production of quality content, for which there are a variety of “curation” tools such as MyCurator, Scoop.it and Feedly as well as blog amplification tools such as Triberr.

3. Publish a quality, online newsletter, or Ezine
An Ezine is an e-mail newsletter that is produced regularly and distributed via e-mail to an audience of subscribers. This is not an e-mail broadcast to a massive mailing list, rather regular communication of quality content with your “house list”. It’s a great way of keeping in touch with existing customers while reaching out to prospects. Useful e-mail automation tools are applications such as AWeber or MailChimp.email_overload

Good Ezines will increase your business profile, develop stronger relationships, generate qualified prospects and even produce sales. They keep your business visible to the audience and enable you to become the voice of authority on a range of subjects.

According to the Direct Marketing Association E-mail marketing returns over 21 times the cost of investment and is the digital marketing method of choice for business worldwide.

4. Build links
Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo send out “spiders” that crawl millions of website pages to index the content so that they can present meaningful responses to user searches. Links are theGoogle-spider streets between pages. Using sophisticated link analysis, search engines can discover how pages are related to each other and in what ways.

Quality links reinforce your position as an expert, attract other quality links and drive traffic.

The 5 most effective link building strategies are:
a. Press coverage: be newsworthy (even viral!) and earn the attention of prominent bloggers and news mediaviral-content
b. Guest blogging: publish your valuable and informative resource on other blogs and participate in online conversations
c. Broken link building: Using automated tools to find outbound links which link to sites that are no longer there, contact the linking website and offering to change the link to a more relevant article.
d. Infographic placement: infographics are a neat way to present complex data or ideas which attract links and often result in being embedded in blogs.
e. Resource page links: Resource pages are curated pages that link out to other useful pages on the web. They are fantastic link building opportunities that don’t take a lot of time to action.

5. List on quality directories
Linking to quality directories such as Yahoo! Directory, DMOZ.org, BOTW.org, Googleplaces, businessmagnet.co.uk and B2BIndex.co.uk only take minutes each and can be highly effective.

Health warning: Google changes its search algorithm over 500warning times per year. Most of these changes are minor but every few months Google rolls out a major algorithmic update that affects search results in significant ways with a consequent impact on offline and online SEO strategies. Keep your eye out for Penguins and Pandas!

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About This Week in Business

I'm CEO @YesGrowth a leading AltFin company which provides syndicated, short term working capital to UK businesses in any sector. Connect with me on LinkedIn or Google+ and follow me on Twitter.
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