Larry Ludwig | The Must Haves for A Successful Online Presence

Adam LeanPodcast

In today’s episode, we chat with Larry Ludwig, website developer, marketing expert and CEO of Ludwig Media. Larry specializes in helping companies learn how to use internet marketing to get leads and create better relationships with customers.

Working with the internet since the early 90s, when he started his own web development and hosting business, Larry started working for himself when he created Investor Junkie in 2018—  which grew from zero traffic to over 300,000 unique visitors per month. It’s evident that Larry’s decades of experience lend to his ability to deliver results for his clients. 

We’ll chat with Larry about how to use the web effectively to get leads and grow your business, as well as…

  • How his experience in the early years of the internet put him on the path to helping modern business owners
  • Where businesses are going wrong when it comes to internet marketing
  • The importance of knowing how to acquire traffic organically
  • The “must haves” for a successful online presence
  • Where the internet is “going,” and how you can get ahead of it
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

Adam Lean: In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to use the web effectively to get leads and grow your business. We’re going to talk to a website and marketing expert on how to use internet marketing to get leads, create better relationships with your customers, and grow your business. This is P is for Profit. 

Adam: Welcome to P is for Profit. My name is Adam Lean and I along with the rest of the team at The CFO Project are passionate about helping business owners improve the profitability of their business. My guest today is Larry Ludwig. He’s the CEO of Ludwig Media and has helped businesses ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies use the web to get more leads and grow their business. Larry, welcome to the show.

Larry Ludwig: Thanks for having me.

Adam: Yeah, so I’m excited to jump in and figure out how you do all this. So, before we dive in, tell us a little bit about yourself.

How Larry Got Started in Web Development

Larry: Well, I’ve been, I’ve started in the web 94, 95, where, you know, I help really start creating some of the very first websites from some of the Fortune 500 companies I worked with. And from that, I had the itch in the late 90s to start my own web development web hosting business, and created that business for about 10 years. 

And from that, got a little frustrated with the customer base I was working with in that I don’t think they appreciated the work I was doing at the time. And had the idea of instead of creating blogs for others, why not create one for myself and monetize it through affiliate marketing? So I did just that in 2009 created a site called Investor Junkie and built that from zero traffic to over 300,000 unique visitors a month and then eventually sold in 2018.

Adam: Excellent. Okay, so how did that bring you to what you do now with helping businesses?

Larry: I think the big issue, so once it’s sold it in 2018, obviously, you as an entrepreneur, you always have that itch to, you know, what’s the next opportunity? What’s the next thing on the horizon? And just looked at, you know, since I was really successful with my business and again, was able to build this blog from nothing to eventually selling it, just sort of the other business owners out there not really effectively monetizing their blogs and just seeing opportunities to help other business owners.

Adam: Okay, excellent. So essentially, you help businesses use the web effectively, to get leads and grow their businesses. So just at a 50,000-foot view, how do businesses not use the web effectively now?

Larry: I mean, a simple level, there’s a lot of businesses don’t have a clear call to action or have many call to actions on a page. That’s a simple issue. What I mean by that is they have, they’ll have many different things to distract the user from the primary objective. Let’s say even ad banners, you know, I removed, I had at one point ad banners on my blog. 

And it was just a distraction. You try to take all this time and effort to get people to your site and then the goal is to get them to click on the ad banner to go off to somewhere else. That doesn’t make sense, necessarily. So that’s one example.

Adam: Especially for who that’s not their primary business model. If your business model is to sell ad space like a billboard, then yeah, that makes sense. But if you’re an ecommerce business or a heating and air business, why have ads to get people, you know, to get pennies on the dollar when it comes to ad money? 

Keep it Straightforward

Larry: Yeah, that and just having different, more than one objective on a page. I really try to simplify the message and say, let’s stick to one objective per page or one primary objective. Maybe some secondary ones, but they should be de-emphasized or just not as important as the primary objective, be it to just get an email lead to actually get a conversion. It depends on where you are that sales funnel. 

So I think those are, that’s one of the big issues I’ve seen from the get-go is that people put everything in the kitchen sink on just say the homepage or various pages on their site. And really it just makes, it’s the deer in the headlights issue that people, you know, the one choice or many choices. If you have too many choices, people don’t wind up doing any actions. And you don’t want to do that for your users. You really have to look at it from a user’s perspective, your blog, and I think most people don’t think of it in those terms.

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. So, you know, one of the biggest ways business owners get their, you know, misuse their website is they just simply don’t have a clear call to action. And that completely makes sense. You want to sort of lead your visitors to do one thing. So if you own a heating and air business, you want your potential client to call you. So what is the one call to action to click on a button or even to maybe download a lead magnet or something free just you can contact their, get their contact info?

Larry: And I use it like the analogy of herding cattle. Granted, it’s not the best analogy for your customer base, but you’re kind of leading them down a path and you want them to go down a certain path and only one path. Either want them to convert or bounce and go somewhere else, meaning you want to make sure they’re first and foremost in the right place. And if they’re in the right place, making sure they go to get the correct desired action that you’re looking for.

Adam: So what are one or two other massive errors that business owners make when it comes to using their website? Or the internet presence, whether it’s on Facebook or, you know, LinkedIn or whatnot.

Larry: The other is not understanding how SEO works. I think it’s another key issue. What I mean by that is, SEO means search engine optimization, where search traffic, organic traffic is about, geez anywhere from 60 to 80% of all traffic for any website out there. So if you’re really not focusing or understanding how you or trying to acquire traffic organically, you’re missing out on a huge audience. 

Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t do paid traffic or social media or email lists or what have you, to get more of an audience. But you should definitely be thinking most of your traffic still comes from organic search, even though Google has kind of decreased that amount of organic search results that happen out there. So you still want to focus on that.

Adam: What do you mean Google has decreased the amount of search traffic?

51% of Google Searches Yield No Click

Larry: Well, with things like featured snippets or FAQs now or things on their site that, Google’s ultimate objectives, they want to keep you on Google’s site. That makes sense. Or to use paid traffic. So you’ll, if you do a search result, let’s say for, let’s use the example of a plumber near me. You’ll see a lot of the search results will have, you know, Google properties or Google results like, you know, even the ad banners themselves are monetized by Google. So you’ll have a map usually. 

You’ll have various other things that are Google properties within their site. You’ll have YouTube videos. So, therefore, Google’s wanting to keep people on their site. And the recent stats I saw was 51% of all searches yield no click. Now that means over half of all searches yield no click to some website. That’s been a dramatic increase in the past 10 years. So, therefore, you know, you have to think in those terms. You have to figure out a way to entice the person to get to your site or also realize that search is not the only means to get people to your site.

Adam: Well, actually, what are the other ways other than search? So if they don’t go to Google or Bing, or Yahoo, what are the other ways to get them to your website?

Larry: Well, you can do paid traffic, you can do social media, you can do organic social media, which is not really that effective, but you can, you have to really think of it is, my biggest issue I’ve seen is people rely on one traffic, one source of traffic and then, you know, let’s say Facebook changes their algorithm and then all of a sudden they lose all that traffic overnight. 

They rely on just one primary method to get people to their site. Obviously, that’s not that they should ignore that, because it’s successful. But realize that you’re relying on one source or one algorithm change away from losing all that traffic. So you have to be careful. I mean, organic search is no different. 

You know, Google’s constantly changing their algorithms. And one minute, you could be ranked number one for some keyword and the next minute, you’re, you know, on the second page, which effectively means you don’t exist. So, therefore, you have to realize you have to rely on other means of traffic as well. Be it paid traffic, organic, social media, paid social media, email, your email list, and have more control over the ways that get people to your site. 

Adam: Hmm. Okay. So let’s switch and talk about what are the most, the lowest hanging fruit of the things that business owners need to have in order to use the web effectively? So what are those things that are just must-haves? 

Larry: You should be at least communicating on a regular basis to your audience via the web, via a blog post, via email. You have to make sure you’re keeping your prospects hot. So definitely making sure you’re having content out there that will help engage that audience and eventually convert to be a paid customer. 

But I think that’s the first and foremost is making sure you’re constantly, and it can be anything from the basics of, like you mentioned, plumbing, to, meaning even a plumber should have some basic content on their site and have updates of what’s going on with their business than just purely keeping static content or a glorified sales page. You have to have some way to engage that audience. So that’s the first issue. Outside of that, I think especially nowadays, there’s no reason not to have a professionally designed website. 

There’s plenty of tools out there like WordPress and themes that are available either for free or very cheap, that make your site look professional. Nothing’s worse than going through some business and looking at their blog and just getting dissuaded for even wanting to buy something from them because it just looks so unprofessional. So I think you have to keep that in mind. I mean, again, what was once spent on print brochures or print material, all that should be focused on doing online instead.

Adam: Hmm. I mean, you’ve been in the internet world for, you said, what, the past 20, 25 years?

Larry:  25 years, yeah.

Adam: So what has been the most striking change in the internet over the, on the way business owner should use it or consumers use it over the past 25 years that you’ve seen?

Larry: Well, I mean, it depends on where, it depends on the business toon but just the biggest change was once was, is this internet was kind of a passing fad that wouldn’t last. And now obviously, everyone uses it every day and then some and use it not only on their computers, but, you know, mobile phones. 

You know, how much we’ve, especially in this day and age within the current COVID crisis, we’re, I don’t think we’d be able to survive 10, 15, 20 years ago in terms of, without the internet, and be able to buy things through our cell phones no less, and have it delivered to our doorstep in two days. So I think that the whole, the ability to do transactions online and make it so frictionless, I think it’s become more commonplace. 

Where years ago when I first started, to do an ecommerce store, not only from a merchant standpoint, it was very costly and hard to implement. But it was, people were very unsure about it, whether or not their credit card was secure. Was this business legit? You know, was the information ultimately stolen the next day? We take all this stuff for granted nowadays. It’s just, commerce just happens on the internet. You take it for granted.

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. Where do you see the internet going? And what can business owners do to sort of get ahead of that curve? 

Larry: Well, if anything, I think automation is key. You know, you hear obviously, a lot of things in the news about automation’s gonna steal a lot of businesses, jobs, and I’m on the other front of you still need a lot of people to help automate those systems. So I think what was done manually or what’s done via manual process, you should definitely, as a business owner, think of it How can you automate it? 

How do you put it online and make it much easier for you and the customer to transact? So I think that’s a critical aspect to think about. You know, I mean, years ago, it was, everything was paper-based. You had to do, for even a simple plumbing business, you had to do it via paper, where my plumber recently came and they brought a tablet and was able to pay the credit card via their mobile device and give me a printed email receipt, all electronically. 

I mean, if you’re not doing that now, you should be doing that as a business. You should definitely think of technology as a certain level of money to spend per year as infrastructure and constantly improving your business because it helps improve the bottom line in the end, even though it might be some expense or even a massive expense as a business owner, it’s something that can help increase the revenue generated in the long run without question.

Adam: What do you feel that separates successful business owners from those that always seem to struggle with their internet, digital marketing, web presence?

Embrace Technology… You Really Have No Choice

Larry: Good question. I guess, again, not embracing technology. I would re-emphasize that. Using technology to your advantage. There’s, back when I first started 25 years ago, again, things, there were a lot of ideas of how to do like one on one marketing to your audience. And that was all the pie in the sky dream that you could do. And again, large business owners were able to do this, but it was very costly to implement. And nowadays, you can literally do it for pennies on the dollar. 

You should have an email service that can automate the whole entire sales funnel for your leads. And again, you could do it as a small business owner. So I think that the technology is all out there. It’s all available readily to any small business owner. But I think it needs to be, you have to understand what capable, I think more the capabilities are not understood. What’s the potential opportunities out there to use these technologies to leverage it and make yourself a better business in the process?

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. So you mentioned blogs earlier. So blogs, to me, seemed like they were something that, you know, was huge in the early 2000s, mid-2000s. Do you still recommend that people start a blog and why? 

Larry: I mean, depends on the business. So that’s not to say every business should have, I mean, on some level, you need to have a presence on the web without question. And I guess a blog helps better communicate what’s going on within your business. 

And then obviously, if you’re selling some boring widget, some business to business widget that no one cares about, having a blog on, you know, what’s going on, it’s kind of hard to, you know, make that sexy and appealing to a mass audience. You’re not going to have that. But that’s not to say, you should constantly be telling your, you should be keeping your, not only your customer base, but potential leads, inform them what’s going on with your business. 

What new things are available, what new services you are now offering you didn’t have before. So I would make sure you do that at some level be it through a blog or a mailing list or some medium. You know, again, nowadays people want to digest their content in different ways. Meaning, you know, back in the olden days, email was the primary method people communicate, and that would be it. But nowadays, people want to get their, you know, SMS messages, email, social media channel, youtube, you have all these different channels. 

So obviously, what medium you use is really dependent on what your business is. Where your audience really lives. You know, for a consumer-based business, they exist in all those different channels, but for business to business, you know, channel it really depends. Where LinkedIn may be more appropriate than say Tik Tok, let’s say. No one’s gonna be, your audience is not gonna be on Tik Tok. You have to really understand where your audience lives. 

And, you know, cultivate that audience. But also realize some of those channels you don’t own either. So going back to Facebook, if Facebook groups were really big, or have been big in the past few years, but that’s not to say in the future, Facebook decides to change their algorithm. You know, you could, your Facebook group could literally disappear overnight, so you have no control over that channel. You have to think of that as well. So control is definitely an aspect of it.

Adam:  Yeah, that makes sense. And one thing you can control is your own website and your email list. 

Larry: And your email list. Those are the two primary things to do. And even then, it’s funny, I have a lot of, you see a lot of email gurus say email, you know, money is in the email list. You got to own that mail list. But if you look at the stats, who’s the major email provider out there? It’s Google, Google Gmail, which I think is what, 60% of all email comes from Google. So, therefore, they still can control whether or not your mail gets into that inbox. Maybe it goes to one of the dreaded tab folders, you know, be like promotions or

Adam: Or updates.

Larry: Updates. Yes. And that happens all the time, or even worse, spam, which means they effectively don’t exist. So, therefore, you have to keep that in mind as well. But to the point of you do have more control over email and your blog. You own it. Where, you know, you don’t want to have some, going back to, you know, Google as the example again, if Google decides to change your algorithm and you rely on only just organic search, if they change it and you disappear from the search results, you’re screwed. So, therefore, you have to diversify and realize you have other channels. 

So make sure you have more than one channel. There may be one channel again, where all or most your audience lives and it’s most effective, but realize they should have other channels as well. That’s definitely one thing I learned by owning Investor Junkie, my previous blog, is I had an issue with Google at one point where I lost about 20% of my search traffic. I realized that I can’t just rely on Google. So that’s where, you know, I did pay traffic, built up my mailing list and had more people come via those other methods as well. 

Adam: Hmm. Okay. Somebody’s listening they’re, you know, you’ve piqued their interest, they know that they need to get better with attracting, growing their business by attracting qualified prospects online, but they have no idea where to start. So what would sort of be the first step they should take?

Where Does Your Audience Live?

Larry: I mean, first of all, figure out where your audience lives, like I mentioned before. If your online business, yeah, where they live online. If you’re business the business and you’re you’re putting Tik Tok videos online, that’s not the right audience. I mean, you got to really get that straight, is realize where they live, first and foremost. Because of your, it’s the same thing with, Pinterest is another great example. 

You know, from my previous blog, Investor Junkie just didn’t make sense where most of my demographic was male, mid-40s, where Pinterest is more women, more females and the topics are very visual. So, therefore, It just didn’t make sense to have investment Pinterest channels. I didn’t focus on it on purpose. But yet, other, you know, other blogs, other websites, that may make sense. You have to understand where your audience lives. That’s first and foremost. So definitely make sure you figure that out first.

Adam: So, on the other end of the spectrum, a business owner or a company has a massive web presence but they’re not even sure if they’re getting a return on it, if it’s even worth it. If they’re, you know, they have an SEO company, for instance, that’s doing all this SEO, they have no idea what the SEO company’s doing or, you know, what is your piece of advice for how to think of their internet web presence? Let’s say they have a brick and, you know, offline business like a roofing company, for example. How should they think of their internet or what is your top piece of advice for those people?

Larry: Beauty of the internet is you can measure pretty much everything. And most businesses don’t. So the answer to your question, I think, first and foremost, and this would be an organic search to paid traffic, for that matter, which is especially worrisome. You’re paying for traffic and you’re not properly measuring your ROI on your ads. 

Most people are, the reason why most people are negative in their ROI for ads is because they don’t properly measure it. So first and foremost is you’ve got to figure out how to track those leads, how to track your sales and make sure you are ROI positive for your ads. And search is the same way. So making sure you track everything. You know, I have, I recommend tools and systems that are really advanced that can track every step of the way of that person’s journey. 

And not only that, but not only take their web traffic, but integrate your mailing list, your shopping cart, your push notifications, all these different ways to get people into one journey. So you literally show this person just took, you know, seven, eight, 10 touchpoints before they finally converted. And most analytics doesn’t show you that. It shows you maybe only one channel or it will show you your web traffic over here, your email over here. 

And the goal, I think long term is to make sure you get a cohesive journey of that person along the way. And therefore, but anyway, the first tool I would recommend, which most bloggers should have, or most people have websites have is some sort of tool like Google Analytics. They may even have it installed but not effectively using it. So first and foremost is understand how to effectively measure, you know, your conversions from paid traffic. Again, most people don’t do that at the beginning levels.

Adam: Well, Larry, this has been very helpful. So one last question, where can people find you if they just want to get your help on their specific situation?

Larry: If you go to larryludwig.com.

Adam: All right, and that’s Larry LARRYLUDWIG.com

Larry: Yep. 

Adam: Perfect. Okay. Well, Larry, thank you so much for being here today. This was great. 

Larry: Thank you, Adam. 

Adam: So, again, Larry, thank you so much for being here. And if you would like to see if Larry and his team can help you with your business, feel free to reach out. I’ll put his website, larryludwig.com in the show notes. But again, thank you so much for listening. And remember, the goal of your business should be to make more profit than last year and turn that profit into cash that you get to keep. Thanks for listening.