1. How did you first become interested in digital marketing?
I got into it when I was marketing my chess projects via Facebook. Then, I was interested in trying to increase my social following, so I learned more about social media marketing in the process. But it was not until I launched my personal blog, www.rafichowdhury.com, that I really began to understand what digital marketing is all about. I began experimenting on that site and learned a ton of stuff in the process about how to get traffic.
2. Does your academic background in psychology come in handy in your work with helping people get more traffic for their websites?
Most definitely. I use psychology all the time to figure out exactly what will appeal to a user. I begin by figuring out who the customer is. Then from there, I try to learn as much about the customer as possible and their behaviors online. Only then, I go about figuring out things such as the best platform to advertise to them, what sort of content to create, how to design the proper sales funnel, etc. Creative marketing is really nothing more than applied psychology, if you think about it.
3. What's the importance of getting local when it comes to building an online presence, and what are some specific ways that you help local businesses in the Memphis area?
You want to start local simply because it's usually low-hanging fruit for most businesses. If you are a local business and you can effectively dominate search engines for local searches better than your competitors, you can seriously grow your business. Google is taking local searches into account a lot more these days. In fact, Google is putting heavy efforts to get Google + to become even larger, so Google is now giving some special ranking privileges to those companies who have a large Google + circle and are sharing good content on their Google + and Google Local business pages.
When you do on-page optimization, focus on local keywords and focus on local on-page optimization. Try to rank for long-tail local keywords while taking into account commercial intent keywords. So, for example, the keyword "carpet cleaning facts" may be something a user is searching for when they are looking for more information about how they can clean their own carpet. On the other hand, the keyword "cheap carpet cleaners" is a commercial intent keyword since this user is probably later on the in the sales cycle and has already done his or her research and now is ready to hire or find an affordable carpet-cleaning company in his area. So, a small business owner (carpet-cleaning company, let's say) who wants to rank for local searches, may want to invest in the keyword "cheap carpet cleaner Memphis, TN," for example, if he wants to get business in the city of Memphis.
This is the kind of research I do to find out exactly the kind of keywords a business may want to target. I use Google Webmaster Tools, Google Adwords, Google Keyword Research tools, MOZ, and other analytics platforms to gather this kind of data. Once I have done keyword research and found the proper keywords to target, I then find out where the customers are and create unique content to market to these customers. It's really a lot more complex than this, but I don't want to bore everyone with all this technical stuff!
4. How would you define the role of chess in your life?
It has helped me in networking and learning self discipline, but most importantly, it has taught me how to do long-term planning and decision making. Almost every decision I make now, I think about how it might affect me in the future. I really do think this is one of the most essential qualities to have in order to stay focused. You have to always be able to see the forest through the trees no matter how complex the present situation gets. Chess has taught me that, along with like a million other things. If nothing else, it paid all my bills starting from early high school until now! Although no longer active in national tournaments, I still sometimes play in an occasional tournament casually or hop online for some speed chess games.
5. If you could give just three pieces of advice to anyone who is wanting to grow their business, what would you say?
1. If you do not have an online presence, you need to. Build a mobile-responsive website for your business.
2. Focus on creative marketing for growth hacking purposes. Be as transparent with your target market as possible. Remember, people buy why you sell them, not what, so be sure to sell them the vision first.
3. Content is King. This is the information age. Those companies who give out the best pieces of information for free will establish themselves as the top dogs within their particular niche. Target your niche and just give away as much free content as you can. Then, focus on how you can turn these visitors into paying customers. You have to be willing to experiment and learn (and be creative!).