Reaching Dot Boomers Through Your Online Marketing Strategy

This article was first published in the March 2012 issue of The Business Scene magazine.

“When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now … Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” One can only imagine if the lyrics to this epic song would include, “will you still tweet me, w” if Paul McCartney had written these lyrics today.

If you are planning your annual marketing strategy and think that the Baby Boomer(those of us born between 1946 – 1964) market is anywhere that does not include the Internet -then think again!

Boomers in the U.S. are technologically savvy enough to comprise 1/3 of all TV viewers, online users, social media users and twitter users. You can’t afford to overlook them!  Despite the misconception that since Baby Boomers didn’t grow up with the Internet, they don’t use it -Baby Boomers are fast becoming “Dot Boomers” and are including online activity as part of their daily routines.

While this demographic may have been a bit slow to embrace these new technologies, they are the fastest growing segment on the Internet; using Search and Social Media to stay connected (or reconnect) to family and friends, to make purchasing decisions, conduct banking, research a topic, purchase online, or plan a trip or the weekend’s activities.  Leaving this group out of your online marketing strategy is short sighted and a missed opportunity.

It is important for you to understand that Baby Boomers are willing (and do) spend their money and make up the lion’s share of the spending power in the United States. Baby Boomers are using the Internet to research and make both online and offline purchasing decisions.  Over $7 billion dollars is spent online by a generation that has embraced the Internet as a cyber super mall.  Boomers aren’t just buying online, they now consider the Internet to be the most important source of information for their purchasing decisions. Older adults are finding that the Internet provides a safe and convenient alternative to brick and mortar retail stores that have low lighting, loud music, and young employees.  Small businesses have a huge opportunity to meet Boomer needs online, but most businesses haven’t tried to tap into this opportunity –but now is the perfect time to start!

Understanding Baby Boomers’ purchasing patterns and making small changes to your online marketing strategies can make a big difference.  While younger Americans tend to make decisions based on the “cool” or “wow” factor, Baby Boomers rarely do.  Studies show that Baby Boomers are drawn to a business that garners trust and promotes relationship building.   Your online presence should  include the right balance of images and wording.  While a younger consumer will make a decision to stay on a site in approximately 7 seconds, older consumers stay on a site for much longer.  They want to know how many years a company has been in business, they want to know that they are reputable and promote a feeling of trust and well-being.

Another small change that is easy to make is to include more age appropriate images in your online presence.  Even changing your wording in small ways can make a difference; Baby Boomers have changed the face of “old Americans”, but they are looking for businesses that engender trust and reliability, not flash and pizzazz.  While Americans are working later in life, they often have more flexible schedules; encouraging Baby Boomers to take advantage of off hour specials can fill your restaurant, winery or retail store when the younger crowd is busy with their work or family life.

Going to “grandma’s house” to connect with older relatives may be a thing of the past.  Boomers are using titter, Facebook, LinkedIn and social networking sites in increasing numbers.  Boomers in general have more time to engage in Social Media activities and are doing so.  They are participating in growing numbers in posting original content, writing blogs and reviews.  Like your online marketing strategy, your Social Marketing strategy should take into consideration that Boomers are using Social Media and that they are looking for businesses that solicit trust and loyalty..

The Internet has changed the way we live, play, shop and connect with others.  Savvy business owners who understand their total target audience and who consider Baby Boomers in their online strategies will be able to harness the buying power of a generation soon to make up over 45% of the American population.

About the Author – Carol Lee Collins is the Vice President of  MyLocally, an online directory that showcases local businesses and encourages them to interact with the customers through seamlessly integrated Social Media tools.  She has worked in the advertising, marketing and internet/SEO space for over 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Understanding Your Target Audience for Local SEO

“Local” Optimization

Marketing/Advertising 101 teaches us two basic principles; you need to know your target audience and you need to know how to get your marketing/advertising efforts in front of your target audience.  The same applies to Local Internet Marketing.

Most small business owners are local in nature, and with over 2.75 million SMBs in the United States all vying for that coveted spot on the first page of Google, Yahoo!, or Bing in a local search query (which accounts for 20% of all U.S. searches or 3.83 billion a month), knowing how to get found is paramount to a successful online advertising campaign.

Knowing your target audience – Most businesses know who their target audience is and what they are looking for in their products or services. For example, Home Security Systems have three targeted audiences; single women in their mid 30s to mid 50s who want protection for themselves, men in their 30s through 50s who want to protect their families, and elderly who want the extra protection or whose middle aged children want to be certain they are safe.  For this business, the average customer earns over 40,000 and owns a home.

To try to determine what your target audience is, you only need to think about your product and who you receive the most calls or walk ins from; women or men?  Does the price point require a certain income, marital status, or home ownership?  I recently found a good article  on About Us that explains the process of understanding your target audience with Internet Marketing.

Reaching Your Target Audience and Knowing How to Get Found

Once you understand your target audience, you need to focus on how to get your business in front of those customers.  A well crafted billboard on an untraveled road is not effective marketing.  With Internet Marketing and SEO for Natural Organic Results, specifically understanding Search behavior is equal to placing your billboard on a busy highway filled with your target audience.  One important way to get your business found is to understand consumer search behavior.

When searching for a local business:

  • Males use ZIP codes as part of their Search queries.  Does this have something to do with the old belief that males are better at math than women?  Not sure, but using zip codes (sparingly) in your content can help drive results to male searchers.
  • While zip code searches currently account for less than 3% of Search Engine referrals, as the use of hand held devices increases, so will the significance of zip code driven Search Results.
  • Females use Town Name and/or City Name.  Including geo targeting by combining keyword/geo or geo/keyword can help if your product or services are directed toward females.
  • Younger searches focus on generic search terms without geo modifiers, allowing the Search Engines or Mobile to handle the localization. (see point two in reference to zip codes)
  • Older searchers almost always focus their search queries on search terms with local modifiers and tend to take the time to write out a full statement or question.  As a result, always including the answer to their question in the content is helpful.  For example; Where can I sell my car?  What type of plumber fixes leaky pipes? or even the spelling of a state name can help attract the “older” generation.
  • Only 6% of all searches include a neighborhood or region, but very few businesses are targeted for these searches, so if you include it in your content, you are likely to get found by those 6%. (ie: Inland Empire, Middlesex County Tri-borough)
  • Adjectives and superlatives still help.  Remember that understanding your target audience means that you will know what they are looking for.  If they are budget conscious, they will be looking for an affordable (maybe even cheap) solution to their needs.  If they are quality conscious, then they will desire quality products and services.  According to a “marketing” friend of mine, the word BEST is beyond cliché, but words like quality, superior, distinguished, and fine can help not only with Search results, but with conversion.

Wrapping it All Up – Understanding your audience and their search behavior is key to getting found and to growing your business.  A well rounded Local SEO campaign should use as many of the “tricks of the trade” as possible, but including too many tactics can result in poor results as you may be seen as scammy. Instead focus on well thought out, targeted content written for the types of customers you want to attract.  Build a great billboard on a busy street and they will find you!

About the Author

John J. Buzon is currently the Content Manager at eLocal Listing, he and his team are responsible for the creation of thousands of pieces of highly ranked content being published on the Internet for thousands of businesses of all sizes.

 

 

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Blogs – Not Just for Nerds Anymore

To Blog or Not To Blog

Just in case you have spent much of the last few years under a rock blogging has gone main stream. Blogging once belonged to political fanatics or nerds. In the age of twitter (the world’s most famous micro-blogging site) where micro thoughts allow everyone to be famous for fifteen minutes everyone blogs….even me. The key question is does blogging help the average business owner’s bottom line. According to Hubspot, the answer is YES!

In a recent survey Hubspot asked companies what marketing efforts resulted in an increase in new business leads. The highest value was attributed to good old fashioned Search Engine Optimization (something eLocal Listing knows a thing or two about) which gets the credit in 75% of the cases.

Surprisingly, just behind SEO is blogging at 69% and somewhat lower is social media at 47%. Shockingly according to Hubspot, paid search advertising trails almost at the back of the pack with just 16%.

Why is blogging so effective?
Blogging gets credit for driving search engine visibility, which in turns drives new clients.

Blogging drives repeat traffic where your message is interesting people come back for more.

If you drive a visitor to your site through your blog, they may stay on your site and perhaps then become a lead. A blog may even go viral, which is perhaps the best possible result. All this activity tends to lend authority to your site which in turn drives more business.

Blogging is at the heart of our new platform MyLocally. On MyLocally local businesses can blog about their businesses, clients can post reviews and all that blog content contributes to search engine visibility. It’s interesting to note that although, SEO, blogs and social media get credit for driving new business, ultimately all of this effort pays of high search visibility.

Blogging, not just for nerds anymore!

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Good Bye Steve Jobs

This could be a long winded post about this amazing man who will be seen in the history books as the Thomas Edison of our generation, but a conversation with Mark Cahill, a friend from my Atex days who pondered whether Steve Jobs wished he had spent less time working, made me change the direction of my post and I found some quotes from his commencement speech given at Stanford in 2005; one year after his diagnosis.

Of his success and of love, to which I feel he felt were indelibly entwined, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do … If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Thanks Steve, you were an amazing man!

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Facebook Freak Out!

The speakers at last Wednesday’s f8 conference were barraged with complaints about Facebook’s new features.  Facebook’s answer: “people will get used to it.” Interesting response, but I guess when you have 750 million users you can dictate how the market SHOULD respond to your initiatives!  I wonder if while at Harvard Zuckerberg learned about the fall of the Roman Empire or the old adage, “Before pride comes a fall… “

Regardless, they are Facebook and it appears that the changes are here to stay.  I do have to admit that MyLocally is including some of these features in our new online directory, so hopefully Zuckerberg is right that people will get used to features like tickers and activity news feeds.

While I doubt that Facebook sees MySpace as a threat to domineer the world of Social Media, it does look at its rise and fall as a lesson they should choose not to follow.  According to a Facebook executive, as a company they realize that in order to survive and thrive they must change and adapt.  I recall just last week, when a musician friend of mine, Adam Bubert, wrote a post on Facebook about his MySpace page, some bewildered 20 year old asked ½ tongue in cheek what MySpace was!  I guess Justin Timberlake isn’t “bringing MySpace back” quite yet.

While many of these changes were in the works before the introduction of Google +, its meteoric rise (and slide) certainly gave notice to Facebook that they weren’t the only game in town.  That being said, according to eMarketer, Facebook has $3.8 billion in worldwide advertising this year and a predicted $5.8 billion in 2012 – so they are doing something right.

I wrote this blog last week on my way to the Lake Tahoe Marathon and never posted it, so a week has passed since “Black Wednesday” when many of us Facebookers woke up to find our beloved home pages altered.  Since that time I can tell you that I have gotten used to the changes, and the ticker on the side has some interesting features that I like, such as scrolling down and seeing someone’s post appear with images and the thread!  But I did find it a bit disturbing that Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com was listening to some band I have never heard of and NOT returning my calls…can you say “Facebook stalking” Andrew?

 

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Facebook and SMBs

Tim Judd sent a post from DMS 2011 with some interesting updates about Facebook.  His comments come on the heels of major (and somewhat annoying) changes to Facebook and the f8 conference in San Francisco.  f8 is Facebook’s conference for developers and innovators.

The news from DMS was surprising, confusing, and promising.  Facebook reported that although Facebook has over 750 million users and that over 48% of all SMBs are “doing” Facebook; most create a page, update business hours and little else.

SMBs are still confused about how to use Facebook (and social media in general) as a marketing tool.  Facebook provided some great tips for SMBs to reach out to their fans through targeted ads, promotions, events, and deals.  It reinforced what many of us already know;  it is difficult to use Facebook to drive calls.

During the session, Facebook revealed that the cost of advertising on Facebook had decreased and that inventory had increased.  This was promising news, as it would allow SMBs with a more affordable and targeted advertising option.  Then, surprisingly, they announced that it had a total of three people working on Small Business Strategies.   I am still scratching my head over this one!  I guess Facebook felt it was important enough to attend DMS, but not to read the first paragraph of their home page;

“Globally there are an estimated 50 million SMBs, spending tens of billions of dollars on media and advertising. BIA/Kelsey’s new U.S. SMB Spending Forecast (2010-2015) indicates that SMBs will allocate 70 percent of their marketing budgets to digital/online media, performance-based commerce and customer retention business solutions by 2015.”

There is no real news here as SMBs and lead generation providers like eLocal Listing continue to try to find a way to drive calls to SMBs.

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Deals – The Way of the Do Do Bird

OK, I am probably predicting the death of Daily Deals a bit too prematurely, but Tim Judd, CEO of eLocal Listing is sending me updates from the SMBs and Deals: The Next Wave session being held at the Directional Media Strategies Conference in Denver and informs me that perhaps I am not the only one that is annoyed with the constant barrage of deals.

Groupon has become controversial with thousands of users complaints, plus it is a crowded space with over 600 different deal sites.

Deals have spread beyond just spas and salons, it has twice as many email subscribers in Chicago than both the Chicago newspapers.

Building a social buying community which focuses on vertical communities is key to deals’ success!  Creating virtual communities where “word of mouth” becomes a part of a successful business’ marketing strategy helps drive deals and trusts!

Tim, you must be pretty excited in these sessions, since this is exactly the direction of MyLocally.com.  In reading Tim’s summaries, I can see that Deals are still a “Do Do”, but unless Daily Deal sites don’t adapt and become part of the newly socially engaged Search world – Deals may be a “don’t don’t”.

Great info Tim, keep the posts coming!

 

 

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Google wants “YOU!”

Do you think that Google wants “YOU!” to sign up for Google +?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that according to industry experts, Google + posts have decreased by 41% since its invitation only launch earlier this year.  According to industry experts,  the average number of public Google+ posts per day has decreased from 0.68 between July 19th and August 20th to 0.40 between August 19th and September 14th.

Does this decline in public posts mean that Google+ is losing its momentum? Is it the new kid on the block phenomenon? Or could the labor day weekend and a general drop in searches the first week of September (for everything except back to school searches -as indicated in research using Google’s Insights tool) be the cause of the drop?

Time will tell, but in the meantime maybe now Facebook can stop trying so hard …

 

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Social Media; the new Paul Revere

One if by Facebook, two if by Twitter and three if by YouTube!

To paraphrase Longfellow’s historically inaccurate poem outlining Paul Revere’s warning that the “Red Coats” were coming, so did Social Media warn New York that a revolution of sorts was about to take place on Wall Street.

Appropriately dubbed “Operation Icarus” after the boy who flew too close to the sun despite his father’s warning, the movement sent a clear message to bankers and other CEOs that their hubris has caused the American public pain, and that they won’t stand idly by.

While the crowds were not as large as Anonymous (an activist magazine) had hoped, it was a rallying cry for the public to get involved.  Now I have to admit that while (like John Hancock and Samuel Adams) Anonymous is a bit of a trouble maker, it reinforces the power that Social Media has in uniting people against politicians and companies who do not take their role as stewards for the common man seriously.

If only Longfellow were still around …“Listen my children and you shall hear about a thing called Social Media …….

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It’s Google’s world; we just live in it!

As I began to do research on Google’s gobbling up of Zagat, I found a quote from Paul Saffo, Managing Director of Discern Analytics, that I just couldn’t resist “borrowing”.

In its continued effort to capture more of the online local marketplace, Google announced the acquisition of Zagat for an estimated 200 million dollars.

For those of you who may not know, Zagat was the Yelp of yesteryear whose reviews could make or break a business.  Formed three decades ago by Tim and Nina Zagat with the notion that “normal” people could review a restaurant or hotel, it revolutionized the way consumers made choices.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when travelers would never think of venturing on vacation or to a restaurant without their little burgundy book and its short and witty reviews.

This acquisition of Zagat is another sign that Google wants to (control the world), I mean to crack the local business market and to keep competitors like Facebook from gobbling up a share of the estimated $140 billion that small businesses spend on local advertising each year.  Google wants to become the go-to guide for consumers researching local businesses.

 It also reinforces Google’s emphasis on unique, relevant content; reviews; and consumer participation as part of a good user experience.  Marissa Mayer, in charge of Google’s local strategy, comments that “Zagat is something where the Google spirit, format and process of reviews come together, I just love the user-generated content nature of it.”

What this will mean to those of us who focus on Local SEO is still unknown.  My hunch is that those SEO companies that focus on good, unique content and on providing a good user experience for both small businesses and consumers will probably fare ok with this new acquisition and the on-going strategy changes at Google.

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