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Local Online Advertising For Dummies®

Table of Contents

Introduction

About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You Don’t Have to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Getting Started with Local Online Advertising

Part II: Setting the Foundation for Local Online Advertising Success

Part III: Doing the Advertising Part of Local Online Advertising

Part IV: Keeping Your Customers Coming Back

Part V: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Getting Started with Local Online Advertising

Chapter 1: Online: It’s Where Your Customers Are

Understanding Online Consumer Trends

The Rise of the Search Engine

Google, the big kahuna of search engines

Customers use search engines to find you

Local Search: The Latest Search Frontier

Big demand + Tiny supply = Pay dirt

Thinking local: It’s only natural

Methods You Can Use to Advertise Online and Their Benefits

Going beyond search engines

Targeting the right prospects

Turning clicks into new customers

Taking an active role in optimizing results

Chapter 2: Engaging Your Advertising Arsenal

Getting Your Business Found Where People Are Looking

Leveraging search engines for success

Getting found organically

Using local search listings

Running pay-per-click ads

Seeing how you look in Yellow

Getting listed on directories

Lead aggregators

Driving Direct Navigation Traffic

Going viral with blogs

Using social networks

Using other free media vehicles

Going from Offline to Online: A Lesson in Cross-Pollination

Getting Seen with Banner Advertising

Moving Out with Mobile Advertising

Mixing and Matching Your Methods

Chapter 3: Planning Your Online Advertising Campaign

Making a Pact to Plan

Positioning Your Business for Success

Setting Your Goals and Expectations

Knowing what will happen

Setting reasonable expectations of success

Identifying Strategies for Success

Lead generation

Lead capture

Lead nurturing

Creating a Time and Action Plan

Establishing a Realistic Budget

Determining the right amount to spend

Determining your potential return on investment (ROI)

How the numbers all come together

Part II: Setting the Foundation for Local Online Advertising Success

Chapter 4: Building a Great Web Site: The Key to Online Advertising Success

Asking the Right Questions before Building Begins

Reviewing your Web site building options

Finding a template that best fits your Web site

Thinking it through

Finding a professional Web designer

Web provider directories

Understanding Your Site’s Role in Your Overall Strategy

Having a conversion strategy

Knowing what to measure and why

Creating a Framework for Success

Selecting, registering, and hosting a URL

Mapping out your information

Setting the Mood: The Right Look and Feel

Look and feel basics

Common Web site design mistakes

Striking the Perfect Balance between Information and Promotion

Chapter 5: When You’ve Hooked Your Customers, Reel ’Em In!

Implementing Proven Landing Page Techniques

Defining landing page and home page

Using the power of landing pages

Understanding the elements of the landing page experience

Engaging Customers with Two-Way Communication

Understanding and implementing chat

Raising your conversion rate with chat

Letting the pros set up a chat feature

Using proper chat etiquette

Effectively Using Interactive Elements

Online coupons

Online video

Capturing Customer Information

Online forms

Virtual phone services

Closing the Deal

Chapter 6: Analyzing Results for Long-Term Gains

Using Cutting-Edge Reporting Tools

Web analytics in a nutshell

Where the magic of metrics comes in

Choosing a Web analytics provider

Understanding Key Metrics

Where are your customers coming from?

What content are visitors consuming?

Which offers are visitors clicking with?

What does it cost to get new customers?

What is your lead-to-sales ratio?

Optimizing for Improved Results

Split testing

Testing page elements

Part III: Doing the Advertising Part of Local Online Advertising

Chapter 7: Demystifying Search Engine Marketing

Understanding Organic and Paid Search

Organic search results

Paid search advertising

Understanding How Consumers Rate Search Results

Pairing Organic Search with Paid Search

Chapter 8: Getting Web Traffic for Free: Practicing Search Engine Optimization

Leveraging Local Search Listings for Easy Visibility

Your (nearly) top-dog status

Counting the reasons to hook up with local searches

How to go local

Looking at local listing providers

Understanding How Search Engines Organize Content

First, they crawl

Then, they index

Next, they rank

Making Your Site SEO Friendly

Selecting keywords

Adjusting site structure

Page optimization

Internal linking strategies

External linking strategies

Domain names and URLs

Looking at Rankings with the Proper Perspective

Getting Help Optimizing Your Web Site

Some DIY resources

Using an SEO professional: Some tips

Chapter 9: The Nuts and Bolts of Search Engine Advertising

Using a Proven Strategy for Small Business

Following a Step-by-Step Guide to Paid Search

Setting up an account

Developing a keyword portfolio

Organizing your account

Writing effective ad copy

Managing your bids

Tracking and refining results

Finding and Using Resources for DIY and Outsourcing

Independent consultants or agencies

Yellow Pages companies

Full-service local online advertising companies

Technology platforms

Chapter 10: Saying It with E-Mail

Building the All-Important Address List

Finding the value of your e-mail list

Creating the address list

Creating an Effective E-Mail Blast

Considering what customers see in their inboxes

Composing your message

Getting Professional Help with Your E-Mail Campaign

Using Metrics to Gauge Your Success

CAN-SPAM Compliance and the Opt-In

Chapter 11: Linking Up with Directories and Lead Aggregators

What’s So Great about Directories and Lead Aggregators?

Seeing that Directories Aren’t Search Engines

Exposing the How and What of Directories

How directories get customer traffic

How directories get listings

The sort of information directories usually publish

Inside the directories: What are your options?

Identifying the Best Directories

The not-really-all-that-difficult process of picking the right directory to list with

So . . . are directories a good way to go?

Sharing Information with Your Chosen Directories

How’s your profile?

Your profile is a constant work in progress

Tapping into Community Sites: Craigslist and Then Some

A grapevine for the 21st Century

Some other local portals

Considering Lead Aggregators

Looking at the pros and cons

Deciding who needs to use an aggregator

Chapter 12: Targeting Customers with Banner Ads, E-Newsletter Ads, and More

Casting a Wider Net with Online Tools

Running Banner Ads

Leveraging the power of banner ads

Choosing a type and size for your banner ad

Picking the location, location, location

Making contact with the site to place your banner ad

Making your banner ad perform well

Pricing of banner ads

Paying to create a banner ad

Using E-Newsletter Advertising and Sponsorships

Choosing an e-newsletter for your ad

Tips for e-newsletter advertisers

E-newsletter sponsorships

Advertising with Online Classifieds

Developing a classified advertising plan

Creating a classified ad with clout

Choosing the Right Venue for Your Ad

Testing Your Ads for Fun and Profit

Chapter 13: Hanging Out on Social Networks

Joining In: The Social Networking Phenomenon

An excellent place for non-advertising advertising

What you get out of it

Wooing the search engines

Sharing Information about Your Business

Deciding what to share

Marketing tips and tricks for social networks

Putting Your Best Facebook Forward

Creating your profile

Creating your company page

Joining and creating groups

Building relationships

Making MySpace Your Space

Taking advantage of MySpace strengths

Setting up your profile

Getting LinkedIn

Establishing a LinkedIn account

Using LinkedIn tools and features

Exploring Some Other Networking Sites

Tweeting with Twitter

Sharing photos on Flickr

Sharing videos on YouTube

Using Social Media Specific to Your Business Segment

Chapter 14: Generating PR Buzz

Managing Your Reputation Online

Monitoring

Managing

Promoting

Building Credibility: Associations, Certifications, and More

Using Message Boards, Forums, and Other Places to Strut Your Stuff

Marketing on message boards takes patience

Having a goal for posting on message boards

Finding the right message board

Making the most of message boards

Hitting the Blogs

Using blogs for your business

Using blogs the right way

Making the Most of Online Press Releases

Comparing traditional and online press releases

Distributing online press releases

Chapter 15: Using Offline Channels to Drive Online Traffic

Putting Your URL in All the Right Places

Tracking with landing pages

Using vanity URLs

Using Cross-Pollination for Search

Leveraging the Insights You Gain Online

Applying online lessons to offline marketing

Applying offline lessons to online marketing

Using Integration as Your Key to Success

Part IV: Keeping Your Customers Coming Back

Chapter 16: Staying at the Top of Customers’ Minds

Standing Out in the Crowd

Making Nurturing Second Nature

Knowing why customers run away

Building relationships = Building profits

Finding Cost-Effective Ways to Keep in Contact

Sending thank you messages

Exploiting e-newsletters

Conducting satisfaction surveys

Rewarding Customers for Their Business

Promotions that perform online

Reveling in referral e-mail programs

Capitalizing on contests and giveaways

Chapter 17: Leveraging Customer Data: Reach Out and Touch ’Em

Mining the Gold in Your Data

Giving Customers More of What They Want

Targeting with segmentation

Personalizing your targeted message

Instilling relevance and timeliness

Optimizing Your Outreach Tools and Techniques

Staying dynamic

Uncovering patterns and trends

Keeping a clean e-mail list

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 18: Ten Local Online Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Assuming Your Customers Behave Like You

Not Knowing Your Limits

Assuming Web Site Aesthetics Equals Web Site Success

Creating a Web Site That No One Visits

Making It Difficult for Potential Customers to Contact You

Caring Too Much about How Many People Visit Your Site

Having Google Tunnel Vision

Not Knowing whether Your Marketing Is Really Working

Not Getting Sales from Calls

Not Doing Any Loyalty/Retention Marketing

Chapter 19: Ten Steps to an Effective Local Online Advertising Plan

Committing to the Planning Process

Having Clear Goals in Mind

Knowing Your Audience

Understanding How Users Behave Online

Considering Your Investment of Time and Money

Building a Web Site Designed for Conversion

Taking Advantage of Local Search

Choosing Your Tactics Wisely

Tracking and Measuring Results

Optimizing Your Ads and Web Site

Chapter 20: Ten Considerations When Choosing a Local Online Advertising Partner

How Measurable Will Your Advertising Efforts Be?

Do You Care about the Metrics the Vendor Promises to Provide?

How Big Is Your Commitment to the Vendor?

What Industry Expertise Does the Vendor Have?

Is the Partner Interested in Your Web Site?

How Wide Is the Vendor’s Distribution?

Who Handles Your Account?

Are There Any Hidden Fees?

Are There Keyword Limitations?

What Credentials Does the Partner Have?

Bonus Chapter: Ten Things to Keep in Mind When Creating Your Web Site

Knowing What You Want Your Site to Do

Designing with the Customer in Mind

Thinking Search Engine Optimization

Making It Easy to Contact You

Telling People What to Do

Providing a Soft Landing

Balancing Images and Text

Showing Awards and Accreditations

Adding a Personal Touch

Paying for a Web Site

Local Online Advertising For Dummies®

by Court Cunningham and Stephanie Brown

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About the Authors

Court Cunningham is the CEO of Yodle, a leading local online advertising company that works with over 6,000 local businesses across America. At Yodle, Court oversees all aspects of operations and strategy, including technology, product development, sales, and marketing. Prior to joining Yodle, Court held the position of COO at Community Connect, a niche social networking company, where he lead consumer marketing, product management, and development efforts. Before that, as SVP/GM of the Marketing Automation group at DoubleClick, he was instrumental in establishing DARTmail as the industry leading e-mail marketing solution. Court received a BA in English from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

For more information about Court and his company Yodle, go to www.yodle.com.

Stephanie Brown has been evangelizing Internet marketing since 1994. In fact, she specializes in helping clients use many of the tools and techniques contained in this book to grow their businesses. Over the years, she has held management positions at marketing firms and Internet companies, where she has led teams in creating customer-focused online solutions for accounts big and small, local and national. Today she is a partner at Word Communications, an integrated marketing firm in Albany, New York. Her clients are a living laboratory for exploring the latest best practices — in e-mail, social media, search marketing, landing page design, Web analytics and optimization, and offline integration.

Stephanie can be reached at sbrown3@nycap.rr.com or www.wordcommunications.com.

Dedication

Court Cunningham I want to dedicate this book to all small business owners, the hardest working people I know.

Stephanie Brown: This book is dedicated to the people and the dogs I ignored during the researching and writing of it. (You know who you are.) I also dedicate this book to my mother, Helga Olsson, and my stepmother, Ruth Brown, whose examples have always taught me to persevere.

Authors’ Acknowledgments

Court Cunningham A large number of people on the Yodle team played significant roles in creating this book — not the least of which was Cam Lay — who was instrumental in helping to organize the content of this book, leveraged his own marketing background to give us another set of eyes for each and every chapter, and arduously provided the first round of edits. Additional content contributors from Yodle included Joseph Sievers, Michael Baker, Arpan Jhaveri, Milind Mehere, and the invaluable John Switzer. Finally, I want to thank the Yodle Marketing team members who provided further feedback including Kara Silverman, Herman Mallhi, Allyse Coughlin, and Alisa Adler — as well as our Senior Director of Marketing, Joel Laffer, who encouraged me to do this book in the first place.

Stephanie Brown: It would be a sin not to acknowledge the two people who worked tirelessly (and occasionally feverishly) to bring the best out in this book: Editorial Assistant David Idema, whose wry humor makes this a fun read, and Yodle’s Cam Lay, whose steady support and gentle task-mastering got us through. Eat your peas!

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at http://dummies.custhelp.com. For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial

Project Editor: Jean Nelson

Executive Editor: Steven Hayes

Copy Editor: Jennifer Riggs

Technical Editor: Michelle Oxman

Editorial Manager: Kevin Kirschner

Media Development Project Manager: Laura Moss-Hollister

Media Development Assistant Project Manager: Jenny Swisher

Media Development Associate Producers: Josh Frank, Marilyn Hummel, Douglas Kuhn, and Shawn Patrick

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Graham

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Katherine Crocker

Layout and Graphics: Christine Williams

Proofreader: Susan Hobbs

Indexer: Potomac Indexing, LLC

Special Help: Leah Cameron, Teresa Artman, Becky Whitney

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services

Introduction

Not long ago, the Internet came along and changed everything. Or at least it changed the way a lot of things get done, including how consumers look for and find local businesses.

With the rise of the Internet as the primary way consumers connect with local businesses, a huge number of tools and techniques have emerged for local businesses to better capture those consumers and turn them into customers. Not only do these businesses seem to have done so almost overnight, but the smartest companies and Web consultants have already tried them, refined them, and came up with new ones. In other words, the Internet marketing tool kit is big, and getting a whole lot bigger every day.

Understandably, this whole Internet phenomenon can seem pretty complex, even intimidating, to local business owners who’ve relied for years on traditional advertising channels and methods. In reality, all the Web does is greatly accelerate the speed that traditional marketing concepts can now be applied and responded to by eager customers and prospects.

In Local Online Advertising For Dummies, we look at how local businesses can put online marketing to profitable use. We break down the subject into manageable, understandable chunks. By reading this book, you’ll become comfortable with the big picture of the online marketing process and with how each of its parts contributes to the whole. Most important, you’ll be ready to put many of those elements to work for your own business — and to be happily surprised by the results they bring you.

About This Book

You don’t have to read this book from front to back. Rather, think of it as a sort of library from which you can extract and examine only the pieces that interest you. You’ll find that (for the most part) the discussions in each chapter — and in each section within each chapter — are self-contained.

Of course, we wouldn’t mind at all if you did read everything in order. Local online advertising is one of those subjects that has a natural build to it, so going with the logical flow isn’t a bad idea. But, hey — it’s your book now, and you can read it however you want.

In any case, this book isn’t a textbook; it’s a reference, or a guide. This book’s purpose is to give you a basic introduction to local online advertising, from which you can then go on to more sophisticated sources, if necessary.

Conventions Used in This Book

We use a few conventions throughout this book to make things easier for you:

We use italics for emphasis and to set off a particular term that we define.

We use a computerese font to highlight Web addresses (or URLs), such as www.dummies.com.

Also, 99.99 percent of what we talk about in the book applies to both PC and Mac users. The very few references made to Microsoft applications aren’t exclusionary; Mac users can use versions of the same applications.

What You Don’t Have to Read

Here and there throughout this book, you see sidebars — text boxes that are separate from the regular content and feature a gray background. Sidebars include information that’s related to the content in the chapter but is also independent of it. The bottom line is that you don’t have to read them, and your understanding of the chapter’s subject matter won’t suffer if you don’t. Then again, if you do read them, you may discover something new. We leave the choice up to you.

Another thing you can safely skip without worrying about it is the occasional paragraphs with a Technical Stuff icon beside them. Big surprise, this is stuff for tech-minded readers. The geekier you are, the more likely you’ll value these pieces. The geekier you aren’t, the less likely you’ll care. And that’s just fine.

Foolish Assumptions

In writing a book like this, it’s difficult to know how broad and deep each reader’s existing knowledge is. We figure it’s pretty safe to assume that you know the rudiments of computer use and that you’ve had some experience with the Internet, which also means you’re probably familiar with search engines. Beyond those givens, this book assumes that you’re more or less a novice when it comes to local online advertising.

Of far greater importance, however, is our assumption that as the owner of a business, you’re nobody’s fool. Sure, online marketing may be a new concept, but we’re sure you have the fundamentals of business down cold. You know your market. You know your products and services inside and out. You know what kind of customers you sell to and what kinds of prospects you hope to turn into customers. And you understand profit and loss, competition, and the importance of investing your assets wisely. On all those scores, you’re an expert. So we don’t define universal business terms you already know.

How This Book Is Organized

We organized the chapters in this book into five parts. Each chapter is broken into sections, which are broken into sub-sections, and even into sub-sub-sections.

We compiled this book that way so that you can, with very little effort, get as much (or as little) information you need at any particular moment. Zip, zop, and you’re there. If only the rest of life was so easy.

The following sections briefly describe what the five parts in this book cover.

Part I: Getting Started with Local Online Advertising

This part gives you an overall picture of local online advertising: Why it’s become such a major tool for local businesses to generate more new and repeat customers, the evolution of search engines as they relate to local businesses, and the kind of pre-planning that the online space requires to be used successfully.

Part II: Setting the Foundation for Local Online Advertising Success

Here you discover the importance of building a quality Web site for your business, including whether you should handle this task or get outside help. We also explore the concept of landing pages, the range of interactive tools available, and the factors that go into analyzing the results of your online marketing efforts.

Part III: Doing the Advertising Part of Local Online Advertising

This is really the nuts and bolts of the book. We look, in some detail, at search engine advertising and the elements of a successful e-mail campaign. You also find out how to employ techniques, such as advertising in banner ads, directories, and sponsorships. We also discuss the uses of social media (such as Facebook) and how public relations can help drive traffic to your Web site.

Part IV: Keeping Your Customers Coming Back

Winning over prospects and turning them into paying customers is no easy task. After you do it, how do you make them repeat customers? We answer that question by examining several ways to keep your business at the top of customers’ minds and to reward them for their loyalty. We conclude with a discussion of database marketing — that is, how to use the customer data you collect to sharpen your online marketing campaigns.

Part V: The Part of Tens

If you’ve read through other parts of the book before coming to the Part of Tens, you’ll have been exposed to a lot of information. In this part, we provide you with lists of ten do’s and don’ts. This part makes for a handy resource that you can refer to quickly whenever the need arises.

Icons Used in This Book

At times in the course of this book, we separate certain points to broaden your understanding of a particular subject by placing an icon next to that paragraph.

tip.eps Occasionally we give you a little hard-won, real-world insight into how to apply the tool or technique we’re discussing. Consider each of these icons as a sort of “If we were you, we’d . . .” piece of advice.

remember.eps This icon is a friendly reminder of a specific point that we want to make sure you keep in mind as you proceed in your reading.

warning_bomb.eps Take heed of a Warning: This can prevent you from doing something that could get you into trouble (primarily, legal trouble).

technicalstuff.eps For those who like to delve into every technical detail, Technical Stuff icons may be of interest. For the rest, they’re eminently skippable.

Where to Go from Here

You’re ready to use this book, and the Table of Contents or index is the best place to start. Find the section or topic that interests you and jump right to that page. Or just turn the page and start with Chapter 1. We leave the decision up to you. Either way, we hope you enjoy — and profit by — what you find in this book.

Part I

Getting Started with Local Online Advertising

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In this part . . .

Call us stuffy old traditionalists, but we think the best place to begin is always at the beginning. To get started, Chapter 1 provides an overview of the online marketing world as it currently exists, including things like search engine marketing, identifying your best prospective customers, planning how best to reach and motivate them, and the importance of measuring your results.

Chapter 2 gets a bit more specific about the tools (and advertising venues) that the Web makes available to you. Chapter 3 talks about the importance of formulating an online advertising plan that makes sense for your business and then dives into choosing the kind of strategies that help you bring that plan to life.

Get ready to cast off, full speed ahead — and get down to business (pun intended).