The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing
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So, it’s finally here. The Lead Machine.
The reason I wrote this book is because after twenty years, I’ve worked with an incredibly wide range of businesses. Marinas, psychologists, bed & breakfasts, authors, jewelry makers, insurance companies, septic specialists, ticket sellers, universities and english as a second language schools!
So many of them came into our offices at flyte and told me that their business was unique. That they were not like other companies in their town, region, or industry. That how they did business, reached their customers, or delivered their product or service was unlike any others.
And you know what? They were right!
Each business is unique. However, after working with well over 500 companies, organizations, and entrepreneurs—honestly, I’ve lost track at this point—I’ve discovered that there is a framework that can be used to develop an effective digital marketing strategy for any of them.
The first thing to recognize is that every business needs leads. It’s the lifeblood of every company and organization. What those leads are may change.
For a wedding planner, that lead may be an interested couple who don’t want to manage their own wedding. For a software company, it might be about getting someone to download a free, trial copy of their app. For a non-profit, it might be about getting someone to apply for membership, make a donation, or call their senator.
It might be about getting someone to fill out a contact form, pick up the phone, sign up for an email newsletter, download a white paper, or even click on a buy now button.
But without these steps, every business, especially a small business, will fail.
So, the purpose of digital marketing is to get people to take that desired action.
The problem with just running to the Internet to figure out how to generate leads online is the incredible wealth of information—and misinformation, and even disinformation—out there. Do you focus your attention on search or social?
If you focus on search, what are the best, most effective techniques that will get you onto page one but not get Google to penalize you? Should you focus on organic search or local search? Should you bother trying to get incoming links or hire an outside agency to do it for you? What might you do today that will work but get you penalized tomorrow? Should you spend money on Google Adwords or is that just a waste of money?
If you focus on social, which platform should you go after? Should you try and “be everywhere” or focus on just one channel? If you are going after just one, which one? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? YouTube? Snapchat? Pinterest? Should you be advertising on these platforms? After all, didn’t you read somewhere that Millenials HATE being marketed to and advertised to? Will a sponsored Instagram post ruin your ability to reach this audience, or is it the only way to reach them?
And what about content marketing? Blogging? Podcasting? YouTube and other video platforms? Should you investigate Slideshare, or put on webinars?
And what about your website? Is it turning visitors into leads? Are you collecting information from your site visitors? Is it fast loading? Mobile friendly? Are you able to make changes easily and without the help of a web developer?
And finally, how do you know if any of this stuff is working? What should you be paying attention to? Monitoring? What are your KPIs?
It can be overwhelming if digital marketing isn’t your life. Hell, DM IS my life, and it’s still overwhelming. In fact, I think that it’s the business model of a lot of digital marketing consultants to make you feel overwhelmed and want to crawl into a little ball in the corner and just hand them your wallet, based on how they present their information.
The Lead Machine is an answer to that. It says that while every business is unique, there’s an underlying framework that businesses can use to develop an effective digital marketing strategy. A strategy that isn’t overwhelming, won’t break the bank, and will produce a positive ROI.
This framework, this model, is called The BARE Essentials of Digital Marketing, and it’s strong enough and flexible enough to work for you and your business.
BARE is an acronym…B A R E. Build, Attract, Retain, and Evaluate. Those are also the four sections of The Lead Machine.
It’s my belief that by using BARE you’re bound for success. Not guaranteed. There’s no guarantee. Business is difficult. Competition is fierce. Customers are fickle. But if you use these essentials as a framework, you’re greatly increasing your chances to generate leads online.
What I also like about this framework is that it’s flexible. As I mentioned before, I’ve worked with a wide range of businesses. Accountants may not need to spend as much time on Instagram as jewelers. Pizza parlors may not need to spend as much time on LinkedIn as lawyers. Realtors may need to focus more on Google Adwords and local SEO versus investing in a podcast. The framework is there, but you still have the ability to adjust your focus as needed to build your business.
Let me walk you through the BARE Essentials.
B stands for Build. The purpose of this section is to help you build or rebuild a more successful website. One that will covert at a higher rate.
There’s a process. Understanding who buys from you and why they buy. Why they choose you or your competition. Understanding how you want to represent your business online. The book actually comes with a free companion workbook that’s based on the very tools we use here at flyte when working with a new client.
There’s an optimal way to set up and organize your website. There are essential tools that every website needs, as well as some value adds or industry specific plugins that can enhance your visitor’s experience.
You’ll find advice on writing your copy and increasing conversions. About elements such as which colors to use, how to use pictures more wisely, and a bunch of other tricks I’ve learned over twenty years of building websites.
A is for Attract. In the second section of the book we discuss the main three ways of driving qualified traffic to your site. Search, social, and digital ads.
You’ll see how to run your own keyword research to find just the words your audience is using. I actually use a real world example as I break down the steps you need to take to find and implement the right keywords on your site to attract more search engine traffic. You’ll see how to brainstorm, test, and implement your best keywords. You’ll see examples from tools we use every day like Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends.
About the importance of Local SEO and the tools we use like Moz Local to help businesses like yours get found in local search.
You’ll also see the importance of offsite optimization, which includes the quality and quantity of inbound links, and how to get them. Even when you hate asking for links, which I certainly hate.
In the social media section we focus on social media as a traffic driver. I want to be be transparent here: writing a book about social media is tricky, because things change so quickly that by the time your book is published, everything you wrote is wrong. To avoid that trap, and to make sure this book is as evergreen as I could, I talk more about over-reaching strategy than I do about day to day tactics. For that, keep subscribing to this podcast, or Social Media Marketing Podcast by Mike Stelzner. (BTW, that’s one of my go to podcasts for staying on top of all the changes in social media. I can’t say enough about that show.)
As I’ve said in the past, I often look at social media as two separate tools: platforms and networks.
When I was in college (Speaker Corner story.)
Social networks, on the other hand, are more like real world networking events. Without the h’ors d’evours. Or cash bar. Hmmm…that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as real world events. They are great places to meet people, engage with them, and chat them up. They are more challenging as places to sell. You wouldn’t go into a networking event with a blank contract…
We go deep into blogging, podcasting, and YouTube. After all, this is a book on generating leads and for most small businesses, creating content and distributing them through your social channels is going to be the best way to generate leads, imho.
On the networking side, we look at how to build an irresistible profile, grow and engage your audience, and drive traffic back to your site. We also talk about social ads, as this is becoming more important as algorithms change and organic reach dwindles.
R is for retain. Remember back in the late 90’s when websites would say things like “check back frequently for updates!” Did you ever check back? Of course not. No one did. No one does, outside for some news sites, ESPN, and the weather channel.
People come to your site because they hope you have the answer to their question or the solution to their problem. If they’re looking for a product or service, it’s quite likely they’re in information gathering mode. They’re going to check out you and your competition. They’re going to visit 5, 10, 20 other sites before making a buying decision, and likely forget all about you.
How can you stay in touch with them once they’ve left? How do you get business from someone who’s no longer at your site?
The first—and in my opinion—best solution, is email marketing. That’s a theme and a message you’ve heard a hundred times here on the AOC podcast. Every digital marketing expert we have, from the Facebook to the Twitter to the Pinterest experts all talk about the importance of building your list. I can’t think of one small business that wouldn’t benefit from building an opt in email list of people who are interested in what you have to offer.
The Lead Machine takes you through how to get people to opt-in, what techniques work the best, and which tools to use. You’ll see how to get your emails delivered, opened, and acted upon.
The second option is retargeting. (Boots example).
The 3rd option, and in my mind probably the weakest, is social media. Getting someone to follow, fan, or friend you.
E is for Evaluate. Sometimes we think something is working, but it isn’t. Other times something we didn’t even realize is important is driving the most important traffic to our site. What’s better for you: writing more keyword rich blog posts or budgeting some money for Google Adwords? Are your email newsletters working or just annoying people?
There is no point in spending time, money, and resources on your digital marketing if you’re not tracking what’s working and what’s not working. And, it’s not that difficult to do, or at least to do the bare minimum.
You’ll see how to set up Google Anlaytics on your site, or to optimize your GA if you already have it installed. You’ll discover the most valuable and important reports in GA, and how to get more information out of them.
You’ll see how to get even more detailed information by using the URL Builder, so you can track exactly which email, which FB post, even which Tweet helped you last your latest customer.
You’ll also discover other analytic tools for email, Facebook, and other social platforms.
Writing this book actually helped me clarify the lessons learned over 20 years of helping businesses generate more leads online. Hopefully, it helps demystify digital marketing for you, and gives you the tools you need to develop your own successful digital marketing strategy.
Build, Attract, Retain, and Evaluate. Those are the BARE Essentials of Digital Marketing.
If you are interested in picking up a copy of the book it’s available at Amazon, and hopefully one day soon, at a bookstore near you. You can search for The Lead Machine on Amazon, or visit theleadmachinebook.com/amazon and it will take you right there.
The paperback version is $19.99, and the Kindle version is $9.99. However, through the month of February I’ve reduced the Kindle price to just $4.99. That’s five bucks. That’s the cost of a Subway footlong. Less than two coffees at Starbucks. About two gallons of gas (at least here in the US.) 30 minutes of babysitting. Heck, there’s probably $5 in change between your pants pockets, sofa cushions, and floor mats in your car.
In short, there’s no real price barrier to you building a better website, driving more traffic to your site, and converting more visitors into leads and business. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, go right now to Amazon and grab your copy of The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing and start generating more leads at your website.