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10 Ways to Boost Your (Relocation) Brand Online:

10 Ways to Boost Your (Relocation) Brand Online

Andrea Martins

Reprinted with permission of Worldwide ERC®, from the August 2010 issue of MOBILITY

Relocated families love the Internet. It feeds their need for information about new destinations and keeps them "connected" with friends and family when their companies transfer them miles from home.

Logic follows that if your mobility-related business is trying to tap into the valuable online relocation market, you need to be online media savvy to know how to best reach your target customers.

Ideally, you will develop an online marketing strategy. You will do your research and learn from key players in the online media world. You will find out what your competitors are up to, decide what you believe to be "best practice" for your industry, then match these ideas with your company's goals (such as increasing brand awareness, increasing customers, and/or improving your credibility as an industry authority), values, mission, resources, and time constraints.

However, if a comprehensive strategy seems too daunting, start by committing to some of the approaches below and give your company the online boost it deserves.

1. Improve your website. Your ultimate online marketing goal should be to lead people back to your own mobility company's website. This means that before spreading your wings online, you need to critique the "stickiness" of your own website to assess if people would want to stay on your site when they arrive.

First impressions count: Is your site easy to navigate? Does it succinctly explain how you can help? Do you have photos of "real people?" Will someone know how to contact you? How can you seek feedback and what changes can you make today?

Cost-saving tip: You do not always need a full website overhaul: sometimes the simplest update can increase the number of visitors and/or inquiries a business receives.

2. Optimize your site. To improve your site's search engine ranking, it is a good idea to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). SEO, most often outsourced to a professional webmaster, involves assessing and enhancing technical facets of your website (such as page titles, meta-tags, keyword usage, site maps, page rankings, and more) so that it appears higher on search engine results lists.

Cost-saving tip: One piece of advice that could save you thousands of dollars: instead of paying for an ongoing SEO package (which seems "mysteriously essential" when presented by an external web firm), ask first for an SEO audit. This means that you will pay a professional SEO firm to go through your entire website and then give you an audit of your site's performance–clearly articulating how your site can improve, especially with regard to your audience. Then, with report in hand, you can go through and decide what you might do internally, what you need to outsource, what needs to be done immediately, and what can be done in your next budget cycle.

3. Get linked on related websites. The general rule is to get your website legitimately linked on as many relevant websites as possible. To get through the gatekeepers (who receive dozens if not hundreds of website link requests daily) of the large websites, make sure that your website is indisputably relevant and/or be aware that sometimes you might need to pay for the privilege of a link on someone else's site.

Insider's Tip: If you engage a professional "link master" to help get your site linked on multiple other sites, check how your link master will personalize your link requests (because typically they send impersonal, standardized requests that not only frustrate website owners, but do more damage to your brand than good).

4. Submit articles. Most employee mobility and expatriate sites welcome voluntary article contributions. Given that this is your company's area of expertise, this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, earn some audience trust online, get a free link back to your site (often, on a site that would not have otherwise given you a free link) and keep your business up-to-date and on its toes.

To get started, offer articles to website owners already in your network. Then, search key terms online such as "relocation," "mobility," "real estate," or "expatriate," and offer articles to the sites that rank the highest on your search results.

Insider's Tip: Try to retain the copyright for your contribution so that you can submit your article to other sites and publications as well. Then do so as soon as possible.

5. Blog your way to the top. Many companies have boosted their online reach via a clever, personable blog. Relocation blogs can establish your/your company's authority, as well as act as an online repository of useful mobility industry news snippets, which, again, fosters your/your company's credibility.

Participating in a value-add capacity on other blogs also can benefit you/your business. An increasing number of blogs (and mainstream websites) have a growing need for useful content but a shrinking capacity to write said content.

Insider's Tip: Do not ignore the power of blogs. Google searches blog entries and comments (especially those on Blogger.com–a Google-owned platform) on a daily basis and, believe it or not, sometimes these blog conversations end up higher up on Google's search result rankings than normal company websites.

6. Share your wisdom. Discussion groups can be a great, low-cost way to share your relocation wisdom and to spread your business name among online relocation communities. The more involved you get, the better your knowledge of the relocation audience and the more ideas you might generate to service your own relocation customers' needs.

Insider's Tip: The key to credibility in online discussion groups is to listen, make sure that anything you say is relevant, and avoid over-the-top promotion of your brand.

7. Be a credible expert. The more visible you are online, the more credible you need to be. Not just your company, but you personally. The best way to do this is to build a "100 percent complete" LinkedIn profile that reinforces your "relocation-related" experience and expertise.

Insider's Tip: Aside from the credibility factor, LinkedIn can help you grow your network of business contacts enormously. For example, if you connect to 100 people and those 100 people are on average connected to 100 people, that is 10,000 contacts in your network that you could potentially access and/or influence.

8. Think social media. The beauty of social media is that it offers everyone–and every business–a genuine chance to listen to what is being said and to have a voice online. Right now, the rage might be Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and social bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and FriendFeed, but, whatever the site(s) of the moment, try to dedicate at least part of your week to learning more about social media and how it can help to grow your relocation business.

Insider's Tip: One lesser-known social media site that has a great concept is Help A Reporter Out (http://www.helpareporter.com), which started as a Facebook group. Sign up to HARO and if you can help journalists with their press requests, your business could score some priceless, free publicity–both online and offline.

9. Pay attention to Facebook. With 400 million users and growing, every company should be paying attention to Facebook–the world's largest social networking site.

There are three main ways to get involved in Facebook.

1. Set up a fan page for your business

2. Become more active on your personal Facebook page (which can, in turn, help your business).

3. Advertise.

Insider's Tip: Many people check Facebook more than e-mail.

10. Advertise online. Online advertising offers literally endless possibilities. The most well-known online advertising channel, Google AdWords, is still popular. LinkedIn is starting to interest people. But today's buzz is really around Facebook advertising–because it works–or at least it has for me and many other businesses. Facebook advertising allows you to pinpoint your target audience by age, gender, education, location, languages spoken, relationships, interests, and more. What business is not interested in potential customer segmentation that is this specific?

Find out which sites your customers are frequenting and advertise there. The benefit is the endorsement of an already trusted online community that can save you a lot of time in online credibility building. Bear in mind, however, that not all sites have the same target audience. Some sites are global, some target a specific geographical area or nationality, some are divided by gender or content type, some are online community-oriented, and some are more news-oriented. Before investing in online advertising, research your audience and choose your site(s) wisely.

Insider's Tip: Ask the site that you are advertising on if they can track the clicks that your advertisement receives. If not, you can accurately track click-throughs yourself if you ask your webmaster to (take one minute to) set up a dedicated landing page on your site, such as www.[your site].com/[name of site that you advertised on], then direct all click-throughs from your advertisement to this specific landing page.

Be Seen, Be Rewarded

Boosting your online presence is all about helping more potential customers find your business, then relaying a sense of online credibility that will encourage the conversion of those new leads into tangible business revenues.

As Juliette Powell in "33 Million People in the Room" says: "Visibility and reputation affect the decision-making process, and at the end of the day, they influence behavior." In other words, be seen more online (on sites that your target customers patronize) as a credible authority and watch your business be rewarded.

Andrea Martins is the director and co-founder of www.ExpatWomen.com.
August 2010
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