Quick Tips On Using Video On Your Social Media Channels

Video is definitely a favored form of content, no matter which platform you’re on. But there are some general rules and tips to follow when you’re planning where and how to utilize video for your business. Amber’s got the tips you need for better results on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Quick Tips On Getting Reviews For Your Business

Do you feel like you and your team know the value of reviews, but have some discomfort around asking for reviews? Our very own Chris Pitts has some helpful tips to make getting reviews easier and less stressful.

Where Do People Click On SERPs for Service Area Businesses & Why Should You Care?

BrightLocal just released a new study on where people click on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for service area businesses and it’s chock full of good insights. Don’t have time to read the full study? No worries. We put together a list of key takeaways and actionable steps you should take to ensure your business gets all the clicks you deserve.

Note: This study compared click rates when Local Service Ads (LSAs) were and were not present, and evaluated SERPs for plumbers, locksmiths, house painters, garage door pros, and towing companies in San Francisco.

#1 Organic is still the leader in clicks.

With 50.8% of people clicking on organic search results when LSAs are absent and 43.9% still clicking on organic search results when LSAs are present, it’s time to stop saying SEO is dead and that the only way to win is to pay the reaper. Organic is still the popular girl at school.

Organic position #1 is the top most clicked SERP result overall, but as long as you’re on the first page, you shouldn’t worry. Only 3.60% of people said that position on page determined where they clicked on organic search results when LSAs were present vs. 8% when LSAs were absent.

Why should you care?

You need to be where people are looking, and people are looking (and clicking) in organic search results. An optimized, attractive, informative, and user-friendly website will help your business rank on the first page of organic SERPs. And given the importance of review ratings (which we’ll talk about in just a minute), you may want to consider adding review Schema markup to your site for a little extra click incentive.

#2 Nearly 1/3 of organic clicks are on directory sites.

According to the study, the number one reason people clicked on an organic search result was because it was a list of businesses (aka a directory). Interestingly enough, Yelp claimed the #1 organic spot in all 5 service business categories.

Why should you care?

If people are clicking on directories, they need to find your business on those platforms. And as much as we all hate Yelp, we shouldn’t ignore it because it’s getting a lot of clicks. As part of your SEO strategy, you should make sure your listings on directory sites are accurate. You may not have time to get incredibly detailed on every major directory, but at the very least, you should have your Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), and hours.

It’s interesting to note, however, that 6% of people clicked on an organic result because it wasn’t a directory (3.18% when LSAs were present). So once again, having an optimized website matters.

#3 Review rating and number of reviews were the leading determiners in who got the clicks in the local pack and in LSAs.

We all know that reviews matter, but this study confirmed that the review rating and number of reviews that a business had largely determined whether or not it got the click in the local pack (51%) and in LSAs (also 51%). The local pack is the list of businesses that shows up just below the map, and spots 1 and 2 are the most clicked SERP results after organic position #1.

Why should you care?

Potential customers are judging you in the SERPs and deciding whether or not to even consider your business based on what others are saying about you. No matter what type of business you have, you need to be regularly getting more reviews and better reviews.

A lot of business owners know they need more reviews but they’re either uncomfortable asking or inconsistent. Asking for reviews needs to be a regular part of your service process, but if you need some help, shoot us an email at reviewhelp@sparkmarketer.com. We have some tools that make the “ask” easy and effective.

Note: Make sure you’re still getting reviews on your Google My Business, even if you’re enrolled in Local Service Ads. Reviews from GMB count towards your LSA rating, but LSA reviews don’t count towards your GMB rating.

#4 PPC Top Ads & Local Service Ads are getting clicked, and with time, education on what it means to be “Google Guaranteed,” and familiarity, the number of clicks may increase.

When LSAs are present, LSAs and PPC top ads are collectively claiming 24.9% of clicks in SERPs. When LSAs are absent, PPC top ads are still getting 14.1% of clicks. While the #1 reason for clicks on LSAs is review rating, the #1 reason for clicks on PPC top ads is position on page. On mobile, numbers are presumed to be even higher, because people are even less willing to scroll down on a smaller screen.

Local search expert, Tom Waddington, points out that with the rise of voice search, “in four of the five categories in this study, the results from Google Assistant would be 100% paid.”

Why should you care?

Even if you have a fully optimized website, if you’re not using PPC or LSAs to grow your business, you’re going to miss out on some customers. If you haven’t already, it’s time to consider adding PPC to your strategy and integrating LSAs if they’re available in your area and vertical. You don’t have to blow your entire marketing budget on ads, but strategically integrating Google Ads campaigns and Local Service Ads can help you cover all the bases and grow your business faster.

Make sure you’re creating clear, attractive ads that people actually want to click. 40% of people click on an ad because of its content. Use the limited space you have wisely and think about what entices you to click. If your ad is unattractive, unprofessional, and doesn’t have a very clear call-to-action (including your phone number), it’s just taking up space.

The #1 top PPC ad is still getting more clicks than all of the LSAs and about 100x the clicks of bottom of the page PPC ads, so that’s really the spot you want if you’re using PPC as part of your strategy. Don’t waste your time on ads at the bottom of SERPs. No one’s scrolling that far down to see your ad, except maybe you. If you’d like to talk with a Google Ads expert about your business, reach out to Christian at christian@sparkmarketer.com.

Pretty interesting stuff, huh? We’re hoping BrightLocal will do a similar study on mobile, because we have a feeling the findings would be quite different. Stay tuned!

The Benefits Of Offering Health Care Benefits

Determining whether not to it makes sense for your business to offer health care to your employees is a big decision, and by no means a one-size-fits-all decision. Obviously no blog post can make the choice for you, but here are some of the perks of offering health care benefits in the workplace:hands-holding-tablet-with-word-healthcare

  • It’s attractive to those looking for a career. When people are looking for a job, pay is often the most important factor. But the best workers — the ones who are looking for a career — want a place that offers them more. Health care is expensive, and when you’re thinking about where you want to stay and build your career, you want to make sure you’ll have what you need to provide for yourself and your family. Yes, pay rate is still important, but without our health, what good is that extra money? When it comes down to it, if another company is offering a similar pay, health insurance can be the difference between you getting that great employee or someone else getting him or her.
  • You can lessen the financial worries and stresses of your employees. Even if you can’t cover all costs, providing some help with health costs can really make a difference in the lives of your employees. Things happen — we get sick, we add on to our families, our kids break limbs — and because we have nothing if we don’t have our health, we can’t just save up or wait to take care of ourselves. We won’t get into how broken our health care system is here in the U.S. or how absurd costs are, but it’s important to remember that our health is not a luxury. By providing health insurance to your employees (and their families), you can lessen their financial worries so that, should they ever need to go to the hospital or have emergency surgery, their only concern is getting healthy, not whether or not it can wait or how they’re going to pay for it.
  • Healthy workers are more productive. When your health is poor, it’s all-consuming. You can’t think about how to streamline a process or how to do your job better if your head is pounding or you have chronic bronchitis or a serious back injury. But when your health is good, you don’t even think about it. You feel good and you’re freed up to focus on getting work done. By providing health insurance to your employees, you can help them maintain better health and get the treatment and medication they need so they can focus on daily life. And healthier, more content workers have less sick days and are always going to be more productive, period.
  • You may be eligible for tax advantages and credits. While the government doesn’t do a lot to benefit small business owners, it does offer some tax advantages and credits to businesses offering health insurance to employees. For example, you can deduct your employees’ health insurance costs (as well as your own insurance costs), and if you have fewer than 25 employees, you may be eligible for an additional tax credit. Head here to learn more.

So should you offer health care to your team? That’s a decision only you can make, but we hope we’ve given you something to think about during the consideration phase.

Great Apps For Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, any tools that can make your life easier, streamline communication, or save you time are pure gold. Thankfully, developers are always working on new apps to address some of your biggest challenges. Here are some of the apps we recommend to business owners and what they can do for you:hand-holding-a-phone-with-app-icons

Google My Business — With the Google My Business app, you can manage your GMB information, respond to customer reviews, share photos, and get insights into how you’re performing online, all from your phone or tablet.

Evernote — You don’t always have a notebook in hand when brilliance strikes, but you probably have your phone nearby. With the Evernote app, you can easily jot down ideas; organize notes; create to-do lists; save business cards; and scan, store, and organize important contracts and documents. And since it’s all right there on your phone, you can reference it anytime.

Google Drive — Like Evernote, the Google Drive app allows you to create documents, store them, and share with others for collaboration. Want team feedback on a new direct mail flyer? Want your team to be able to easily pull up contracts, Google sheets, or other important documents? Google Drive makes it possible.

Slack — Slack is a great tool for real-time communication with your team, no matter where you are. Within Slack, you can easily direct message anyone on your team, but you also have the ability to create channels, like a general channel where you can post important information that’s relevant to the whole team, or project/topic specific channels. You can also pin documents within channels (Google Drive integrates with Slack, as does Asana, Salesforce, Dropbox, and others), and the search function makes it easy to look up previous conversations using a keyword. Another great thing about Slack is that you can select when you want to be notified: when conversation happens in any channel, when someone messages you directly, or only when you’re mentioned in conversation with an @.

Voxer Walkie Talkie Messenger— Voxer is a messaging app that allows you to have real-time private and group chats in a walk talkie style. Unlike walkie talkies, with Voxer, you can choose to listen and respond immediately or wait until a better time. You can also have your voice messages transcribed to text so you can read them, and easily share your location, photos, videos, and dropbox files with others.

Messenger/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter — Your customers want to be able to reach you through their preferred method and at their preferred time, and many are now using social media to do so. Customers also want quick responses, which is why we recommend getting Messenger app, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the apps of any other social media platforms you have a business profile on. With the apps, you can make sure no messages, comments, or tweets that need to be responded to go unanswered.

Yelp for Business Owners— Whether you love or hate Yelp, many customers and potential customers still use the app to learn more about you, review your business, and get in touch with you. With the Yelp app, you can easily manage your profile, track activity, add photos, respond to reviews, and answer customer messages and questions quickly, right from your phone.

Facebook Ads Manager — Running ads on Facebook? The Facebook Ads Manager app allows you to easily check in on ad performance, create new campaigns, and stay up-to-date on important info and updates. With Facebook ads, time is money, so being able to check performance and learn about potential problems or concerns quickly and easily is important.

AdWords Express — Running ads through Google AdWords express? With the AdWords Express app, you can quickly create and edit ads, set ad goals, and track ad performance right from your phone.

Square Point of Sale (POS) — The Square app makes it easy for you to accept payment for a job, regardless of whether your customer is paying with a debit card, a credit card, Apple Pay, or a chip card. All major credit cards are accepted (2.75% per swipe) and money is deposited fast. Within the app, you can set up products, services, photos, and prices, and at the POS, your customer simply signs directly on your phone or tablet. All you need is the Square reader and the app and you can kiss checks goodbye.

QuickBooks Accounting — Let’s face it, as a business owner, you have to know your numbers. Looking for an app that allows you to create and send invoices, capture photos of receipts, manage cash flow and expenses, and quickly view your P&Ls? The QuickBooks app is it.

Your Business Banking App — Most banks these days have apps that allow you to transfer money from one account to another, view past transactions, track direct debits and direct deposits, and view bank account totals quickly and easily. Many also allow you to quickly deposit money without ever stepping foot in the bank. Simply snap a photo of the check and hold onto it until it clears. Whichever bank you use for business, get the app on your phone or tablet so you can keep your eye on your money and say in the know.

Closing Commander For business owners, time is money. But have you thought about all the money you’re losing out on because you don’t have the time to follow up on every open estimate? It may take up to 7 touches for a customer to move forward after receiving an estimate, and that’s a lot of work for an already busy business owner or service team. Enter Closing Commander. This app makes following up and closing sales easy. It’s automated, personalized, and affordable. Some users are seeing more than 34% success rate in closing more of these open estimates. Check it out!

What are some must-have apps you rely on? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Have An Overwhelmed Employee

So you thought you were hiring someone with the grit and confidence to tackle it all head on, but now the hire that seemed so promising is caving under the stress. Here are three questions to ask yourself so you know what changes you need to make to prevent a repeat:


#1 Do you know the personality types of each person you hire?

You may not give much weight to personality assessments and tests, but they’re oftentimes spot on and can provide some value to you as the leader in your business. The DiSC behavior assessment tool is a very popular option and it essentially breaks people down into four personality types using a number system. With the DiSC assessment, you’re left with a snapshot that shows where your employees score high and where they score low, which can help you identify what they like and don’t like in regards to, not just the tasks they’re performing, but the environment in which they’re performing those tasks and the way they’re being told to carry those tasks out.

The four personality styles that make up the DiSC assessment are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Why would knowing which traits are highest in your employees help you prevent overwhelm and burnout? Because when you know which personality types you’re leading, you’ll know how to adapt your management and communication style to better fit each employee. You’ll be able to craft your interactions to each individual in a way that speaks to and supports their needs and preferences.

For example, an employee with a high C score likes to have all of the details before getting started and has a fear of being wrong. Knowing this, you could ask that employee if they have all the details they need or if there’s anything else they need from you before they can confidently move forward with the job or project they’re working on. Someone with a high D, on the other hand, may become bored by all the details and just want to jump right in. How you present a job to each would and should differ so you can be a more effective leader of each individual.

#2 What expectations have you created?

No one wants to screw up, but for some personality types (like high C’s, for example), the fear of failure can be paralyzing and prevent them from taking any steps or actions. On top of considering the innate traits and levels of pressure that are self-induced by each personality type, you need to consider the type and level of pressure that you’re consciously and subconsciously placing on your employees. Ask yourself what your attitude towards failure is and what you’ve expressed to your team regarding failure. Have you presented failure as something that’s undesirable at all costs and apocalyptic in nature or as something you can learn from? Failure often leads to innovation and improvement and teaches us more than our successes, but no one wants to be the one to fail or take risks that could lead to failure if management portrays failure as something to be avoided if you want to keep your job. Yes, put systems in place to prevent mishaps, but don’t make mistakes the unforgivable sin in your business. How you approach failure will largely determine how your employees do, and without that big lurking F hanging over their heads, they’ll be freed up to focus on the task at hand.

#3 Do you encourage open communication?

When an employee is overwhelmed, you have to consider whether or not it could have been avoided if you had a culture in place that encouraged open and honest communication and mutual support. If your employees can come to you when they first start to feel overwhelmed, the escalation that leads to breakdown and burnout can likely be avoided and you can get your employees the support they need to do the job with confidence.

Is transparency a word or a practice in your business? Do you encourage teamwork and support? Can your employees come to you or another person in management when they’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or in need of more support? Even if it’s not you, make sure your employees have someone they can go to to talk it out and get the support they need.

Better Leadership Is Within Your Control

Look, HR stuff can be frustrating and time-consuming, but knowing your employees and creating a culture that encourages transparency can help you better lead your team, provide a better work environment, get more value and productivity from every employee you manage, and prevent burnout, overwhelm, and other common workplace problems. Take the time to understand your employees and adapt your leadership style and culture, and you’ll find it saves you a lot of time and a lot of frustration in the end, which is what we all want, isn’t it?