How To Reach Your Customers Online

reach-your-customers-online

Whether you’re a local business with a store front (office, warehouse, etc.), or a business who serves its customers strictly online, the question always will come – “How do I reach my customers online?”

Let’s look at this from two angles… Continue reading How To Reach Your Customers Online

Your Digital Assets: Domain Names

Over the years, I have met with hundreds of business owners. They are all extremely different, and many of them seemed to start the journey into the digital world with a plan. They are organized, aware of the value of their online real estate, and they understand how important their digital assets are to their company’s bottom line. They own their online presence.

However there are many business owners who meet with us at Maximize Digital Media, either virtually or in person, who are embarrassed at their own lack of knowledge. They seem sheepish when they admit that they have no idea what a registrar is or what a hosting company does. When we ask them if they have an analytics code installed on their current website, they look like they want to run out the door and never come back.

You’re not alone.

We convince them to stay. “It’s ok,” we say. “You’re not alone. We know you’re busy running your business.” At this point, we’re ready to help them dig out of the hole that not paying attention has created for them. It’s frustrating, but it’s important. Because, someday, when it’s time to talk about what your business is worth, when you’re ready to sell it, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in retirement, the valuation of your business will be greatly increased if you can show how your digital presence is making you money.

Digital is here to stay.

It’s way too common and I hope, by writing this blog post, you will share this with the business owner whose website seems to need an update, or the owner of the company who seems to use his website more like a brochure than a lead generation tool. Because we find these are the signs that the business owner might need a helping hand.

In this first post in the Your Digital Assets series, we’re going to discuss your domain name. I compare this to the title of your home or property. Your virtual real estate works much like your physical assets. Ownership is the key. If you own the company, you/your company should own the assets.

There is never a good reason for a third party to own your domain name.

Period.

 We’ve sliced it every possible way – and we’ve never found a “good reason.” And it’s never been easy to obtain the information, or get the domain out of someone else’s hands and into the business owner’s possession.

It usually goes something like this: The business owner comes in to the office, and asks us to take a look at their website. They want to build a new site, or make some minor changes, or improve their online visibility in the search engines.

We ask them the 1st two questions: 1. Who is your registrar, and 2. Do you have your account access?

We can usually figure this out by checking the WHOIS information for their domain, and when we ask them, “Who is ________________?” (The person listed as the owner of their domain.) Then, it all comes out… “My business partner’s son, who is now out of college and traveling the world and he has the login information in his apartment in Seattle.” or “My friend who said he’d help me build a website for my company, but he got married and everything changed – he won’t even answer my calls.”

We don’t think people are (always) maliciously setting things up this way. And we agree, it would be easier, faster, and more efficient for the person who “understands these things” to go ahead and take care of it. But a little extra work on the front end avoids some major frustrations later on.

What, for example, will you do if/when:

  • The person who owns your domain moves on, loses interest in the website business, or just disappears
  • The person who owns your domain wants you to pay more, or worse, holds the domain ransom
  • You want to make changes or add services
  • You want to do something with another vendor or agency
  • You want to sell the company

Keep in mind – the domain registrar (ie GoDaddy) has a relationship with the person who purchases the domain name – that is their customer. So they won’t do anything if you call them to tell them that it’s your business. If the person who purchased your domain name is not cooperating, or won’t transfer the domain into your name, you are at their mercy – or you’re going to need to seek legal counsel.

Transferring is easy! You just need them to agree to the process.

Once you and the person agree to transfer the ownership from their name to yours, it’s a relatively simple process. It will require a couple of emails and some confirmation, and the purchase of a “transfer” with the company you are going to register the domain with so that you can transfer the domain from the existing registrar’s account to the account you set up (with whatever registrar you choose). This can take up to seven days to complete, depending on the level of communication between you and the current owner of the domain and the processes set up by each of the registrars. It’s usually pretty easy when you are transferring between two accounts with the same registrar. For example: If the current registrar is GoDaddy and you are transferring the domain to your GoDaddy account, the process can be completed almost instantly.

Registering your domain name is not expensive (about $8-12 per year). We recommend registering with GoDaddy, mostly because they are the most reliable, and tend to shoot straight when it comes to domain registration – they don’t charge you for things you don’t need. We don’t recommend their hosting, but that’s another conversation! Just get your domain with them and we can talk about the other stuff later!

We’re here to help!

If you need our assistance in obtaining ownership of your domain from another party, or if you are just getting started and need some help getting things set up, we are here to help! At Maximize, we’re invested in your business’s long-term success. Our office number: 863-606-5994 or you can send an email to info (at) maximizedigitalmedia.com

Get on the Map with Google My Business – A Part of Our Social Media Series

Google+ has made big changes to their business profiles recently. Completely reconstructing their goals, Google tore down the once-familiar Google+ page and has created their own social media for businesses: Google My Business.

Similar in look and feel to your Google+ of the past, this newly redesigned platform is optimized for your business. Centered on providing accurate and informative content for users, the Google My Business profiles have added content for ease of use, making it better for businesses and increasing what you want most out of being online: search optimization.

How is Google my Business different from my previous Google+ account?

If you are already on Google+ as a business, your profile will immediately convert over. You might notice some differences right up front:

More photos

Upload more photos than ever to sell your business and what you are offering.

Longer business intros

Use this to give customers a brief idea of what your company is about – hopes, dreams, aspirations.

Maps information

One of the most revered installations would include the incorporation of Maps on business profiles. This helps customers find your location easily through Google searches as well as on your profile and provide them with directions.

Local pages

Initially-created brands pages will now merge with local pages after verification. All information including reviews and address information will directly move over to the “new” page.

Insights

This gives Google+ page managers more information about the who and what when it comes to interaction with brand content.

Google Hangouts

Use video chat to get face-to-face interaction with customers. Announce customer appreciation days or special releases. The world is your oyster with this newest feature.

Upon first accessing Google My Business, you will be asked to verify all your information before being launched onto the new dashboard.

There’s an app for that

Google got smart and realized that in this fast-paced world we live in, we need to be able to access our information anywhere. So they gave us Google My Business in app form.

Through the app, manage and edit business information all at the touch of a finger. Access business information and more all by downloading the app through Google Play or iTunes.

How to set up your Google My Business Account: Beginners and Previous Users

If you already have a Google+ account for business, remember that your account will automatically flip over. You can skip this portion and scroll on down to the next section to help with setting up your new profile.

Beginner

Type Google.com/mybusiness into your browser. You will then be brought to the Google My Business Greeting Page. Scroll through the information if you like. Then click on the Get on Google button.

You will first be brought to a Page Categories section. Select the title that best descries your business:

  • Storefront: this works well if you have a physical location that users can reference or stop by for business. Shops, coffee houses, boutiques, hair salons, advertising companies, or other forms of retail or customer service would all fall in this category.
  • Service area: this is for those of us who don’t really have one location we may call home. Taxis, delivery services, food trucks, or other mobile businesses would check this box.
  • Brand: this is a non-local business. This category deals with everything else that the other two do not cover, such as bands, causes, major companies, products, name brands, and so on.

After selecting your category, you will be redirected to Google Maps. Depending on your company’s status, you will need to claim a business, create a new business, or claim a non-local business.

  • To claim an existing business, type your company name into the search bar on the Google Maps Page. You should be able to find the location and then follow the steps to verify the business is yours.
  • To create a new business, you will enter your company’s information and then click, “No, these are not my businesses,” or, “I’ve correctly entered the business.” You’ll then be asked to enter details, then click Submit.
  • If you are claiming a non-local business, you will most likely skip this step.

Finally, you are ready to take the guided tour and get to work on Google My Business.

Previous Users

If you are already on Google+, your page has already merged and become a Google My Business Page. You will skip all the steps above and begin with the new dashboard. Where do you go from here?

Share

Share with users the newest happenings. Keep up-to-date with users by adding various content here including events, videos, updates, offers, and more. Make your page look sophisticated and tailored to users, increase your presence and brand awareness, and make your business look credible.

Remember, in your description, that you have 735 characters to utilize to make your business stand out. Make sure to tailor these to be super hyper keyword to optimize search results. Since Google+ has done away with categories, this is extremely important.

Verify your Information

This is essential to gain access to insights. There are several ways to do this:

  • By Postcard: request a postcard to be sent to your business address. After receiving the postcard, go to your dashboard and enter the verification code.
  • By Phone: just click to verify your phone number on your dashboard and enter the code provided in the message upon receiving your phone call.
  • By Website: click the verify button next to your website link on your profile. A code will pop up. Just copy and paste into your backend on your website.

Insights

The Google My Business Dashboard gives you a quick overview of your Google+ insights. In 30 day increments, see how many people viewed your profile, actions on posts, and how many followers you have received to gage content and awareness. You have to be verified to access this feature.

In managing Insights, you have a few breakdowns of different elements.

  • Sum Total of Presence: shows your total followers, number of times your content has been viewed, actions taken on content, and your last post.
  • Viewership: how many times your business listing and content has been viewed in the last week/month. You can also view graphs on profile, posts, and local views.
  • Actions Taken By User: view new followers; +1 clicks on content and share; comments; and number of clicks on maps, driving directions, and local search results.
  • Post Performance: shows the number of views on a post, comments, shares, and +1. You can also view the numbers in increments, how it was accessed, and why it was accessed.

Reviews

On the Google My Business accounts, you will find a Reviews section (if you have reviews on your business). You can read and respond to these reviews as well as track analytics to see how customers are evaluating your business. User your Reviews inbox to see a list of reviews that customers have left for your business, or check out the Review Analytics tab to view detailed evaluations and average scores of your business.

Always remember when responding to reviews to do so in a timely manner, be polite, thank them for their service, and be professional. Continue to encourage reviews on your account and become active on the account to increase awareness and presence online. As always, make sure your information is verified and correct so that it meets Google quality guidelines.

A lot of information to take in?

Let us help you. Contact Maximize today and let us take your business to the next level on Google My Business.