The Creekside Marketing Blog

Localized online Branding, SEO & Content Marketing for Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Ventura County

Does Content Marketing Work For Small Businesses?


Strategically, content marketing is focused on communicating, not selling per-se. However, quality content, communicated consistently, establishes credibility, authority and trust. Trust is the Holy Grail of relationship-building, and building relationships with paying clients grows your business.  The answer to the question is "yes".

Tactically, content marketing consists of generating or re-purposing good quality material to draw in and educate visitors on your website, then using your social media channel(s) to attract attention to the new content as it is published.

Content Marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.

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Web Research Will Lead to 53 Percent of Total Sales in 2014

According to Forrester Research, the number of sales influenced by web-based research accounted for 42 percent of total retail sales in 2009, and that number is expected to grow to 53 percent by 2014.

Localized web marketing is using the web to market to a specific geographic area. This could be a combination of zip codes, a combination of cities, a Congressional District, a metropolitan area, a state, a country, or any combination of these.  Tactically, localized web marketing includes local ads (include print with your digital if you can), email campaigns, mobile ads, search engine ads, display network ads, and social media (including amplifying posts and ads).


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The Fallacy of Big SEO for Small Businesses


Have you gotten the robo-call or email yet? The sender/caller can get your small local business to the top of the organic Google search results with an optimized website and better SEO. In fact, they may even be able to rebuild your website and make it world-class. It will be simple, you only have to do it once, and the results are always fantastic. Yep, you betcha.

If you are a small local business, run away. Even if you temporarily get a spike in visitors to your website after one of these SEO mills is done with their "optimization", the majority of the visitors you get are not local, and they aren't any good. The increase in rankings won't last, because Google will eventually figure this out. The SEO mills know how to get visitors to your website by tapping into big data keywords and global directories. Many of these "Big SEO" driven visitors are nothing more than packing material, fluffy stuff that fills space in your Google Analytics reports.

On the other hand, periodic SEO sweeps and content updates of your website is actually a good idea. Updating the content gets Google's attention, along with Bing, Yahoo and the other indexing robots running around looking for clues to your authority and credibility.

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Why Small Businesses Should Pay Attention to "Internet Presence"

b2ap3_thumbnail_AlGore.jpgYou are a small local business.  Your customers are either local or they fluidly come and go as the seasons change. Your customers actually walk through the front door.  You don't sell ANYTHING online.  Why the heck should you pay attention to Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or even have a website?  

Weber Shandwick, a leading global public relations agency ( recently released a new report called "The Company Behind The Brand: In Reputation We Trust" that breaks down exactly why business owners should be concerned with the online footprint they’re leaving (or not leaving) behind. Any disconnect between business and brand reputation triggers a sharp consumer reaction. That means even if your product or service is excellent…if the image of your brand is less than stellar, it will hurt.

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Simplify- There are Only 4 Roles in Web Marketing


How committed are you to web marketing?  Do you engage on the edges, putting piecemeal campaigns together with out-sourced services and delegating some of the tasks to sharp youngsters on your staff that are eager to please? 

Building web marketing campaigns into a sustainable framework will enable you to sustain your technology marketing efforts even as new technology grows in value and old technology withers and shrinks. 

The key to a sustained, successful web marketing program is breaking down all the activities into a roles framework, assigning ownership of the activities to in-house or out-sourced personnel, then managing just like you do every other day-to-day function of the business.  Here are the top-level roles:

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2 Characteristics of Small Businesses That Make Money Online


Making enough return on your web marketing investment yet?

You probably know intuitively that you will have more and more opportunities to make money with web marketing as the world turns at Internet speed. In fact, the need to engage online is permanent, so how do you as a small business with limited resources control this virtual super car, and how do you do it while not throwing your money down a virtual money pit? 

Answer: you do it by building a cohesive web marketing engine.

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Take Control of Your Google Results


Where do you start when you want to find a particular product, a restaurant's phone number or the name of that fun new store on State Street or Telephone Road? Google, right?

Instead of having Yelp, TripAdvisor or some directory or guide that a nameless Google algorithm decided was the best result, you can start taking control of that result with a simple, well designed SEO website. There is no doubt that being on the first page of Google search results means prospects will find you first, call you first, and potentially buy from you first. 

If you already have a website, make it work harder for you.  First, make sure the content of the pages match up with the keywords that your prospects and customers use to find you and buy from you.  This should be relatively easy to figure out.  Sprinkle valuable key words and phrases throughout your website on relevant pages.  This is a good start.

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Facebook Not Working For You?


Did you know that at the beginning of 2012, more than 277,000 people were logging onto Facebook in the Santa Barbara area, and another 655,880 from Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo? This is a great opportunity if you can take advantage of it.  Did you know that there were 500 MILLION people on the Facebook network worldwide at the end of 2011?  This is 1 in every 13 people on earth.

If your small business has a door that consumers walk through, Facebook should work as as a marketing tool. If you have been working at it and it isn't working, you might kick start it with a synchronized campaign that includes email blasts and receiving landing pages on your website.  

On the other hand, Facebook may not be the optimal social media network for you.  What about LinkedIn, Twitter or Google +?  An assessment of your typical customer profile will inform your decision on which social media networks to concentrate on.

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Good Executions Are Fun! 6 Steps to Growing Your Small Business With Web Marketing


Good execution of a sustainable technology marketing program is actually a result of not only good strategic planning and tactical implementation, but also good sequencing. Expending limited resources and time in the proper order can make a huge difference in results. Unfortunately, sequencing doesn't get much attention. What is the right sequence for your technology marketing success?  Of course, there are variables and nuances that would come out in an analysis, and every business starts in a unique position with different assets already in place, but there is certainly a fundamental sequence to follow.

Each technology marketing asset is like a building block, and the bottom blocks that represent the first steps should be stable and sustainable before the top blocks are placed. No technology marketing asset is in a silo, nothing is "stand-alone".              Here is the fundamental sequence for small business success online:

Build a Scalable, Sustainable Website:  A Best Practice would be an extensions-based Content Management System (CMS) for building and sustaining a contemporary look & feel and adding new bells & whistles as the marketing technology universe changes.  Among many, Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress are very good and have vigorous support communities.  Use Analytics: Metrics are the lifeblood of web marketing. The reports, alerts and tools for measuring online activity in analytics is invaluable.  The longer you use analytics, the more you will know about your business through the eyes of your online visitors. Start with Google Analytics. Its robust, and it's free.  If Facebook is one of your assets, use Insights.Use a Blog or Newsletter: It may not be practical for all organizations, but a blog or newsletter makes your web marketing more credible.  You are building relationships, and credibility builds trust.  If you don't think you have the time or the inclination to write articles, there are other ways to build trust online.    Use Email Marketing: Use email to anchor your synchronized technology marketing campaigns. iContact, Constant Contact, Emma and Vertical Response are all good. If you don't have an email list, start one. You only need three fields: email, zip code, mobile phone.  If you can do it, having first name and last name would be optimal.  Amplify with Social Media: Use Social Media in conjunction with your website, email and traditional media, not instead of it.  Social Media amplifies and engages, but it can also be a time sink with no real business value. Your industry, personnel, products and services can inform you about what kind and how many social media network(s) to engage with. Don't over-reach....  Run Micro-Ad Campaigns: Google and Facebook provide two different sets of targeting criteria for ads. Used together, they can inform your traditional and technology marketing efforts in ways you simply cannot attain otherwise. There is no more cost-effective way to test and measure the marketplace response to your brand and offers.  Optimize for Mobile: We are in the midst of an acute trend upwards in the number of views from mobile devices.  The vast majority are iApple devices and Droids- and tablets are included in this.  Cater to your mobile visitors with mobile web exensions and apps.  Experiment with mobile coupons, check-ins and SMS marketing.Localize: Take what you've learned and run a synchronized local media campaign.  Newspapers and industry publications are on the digital marketing bandwagon.  You can also run short print, radio and television ads pretty cost effectively.  Test and measure some local media ads.

If you are not satisfied with the results you are getting from your Internet technology marketing, or if you want to get your online business to the next level, start with a functional assessment of your technology marketing assets.

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Sustainable Web Marketing In Three Steps

Web marketing is a dynamic process that will beautifully build your brand, if only a little diligence is applied. Although having a mobile-enabled, professional-looking website is the important to effective web marketing, it isn't really marketing.  Re-building your website with a responsive development platform like Joomla or WordPress is a great idea that will elegantly support mobile devices, but if you aren't seen by Google, listed on relevant local review sites, industry-specific business directories and social media networks, you are missing out on an opportunity to grow your business. Here are three of the core principles of effective web marketing:

1) Your Website Is The Hub

Build, supplement  or remodel your website to synchronize all your sales and marketing efforts, from print ads to Facebook promotions to email campaigns to your booth at the upcoming Old Spanish Days festival.  Websites that are strategically built to be the hub of marketing operations are active and naturally attain better results, always farther up in the hierarchy of web search rankings.  You don't need to do this all at once, you can budget smaller amounts over many months to get the new platform completed, and then take advantage of the new features even before the whole site gets migrated.

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