Launching or redesigning a website can be an overwhelming project. When laying out your website, it is important to define your website’s objective – who is your target audience and what is it you want to tell them about your business? You also want to focus on the value you bring to your audience. To do this successfully you need the following:
1) Home Page
Your home page is a visitor’s first impression of your business. It should not be cluttered, it should have appealing graphics or professional photos that are inline with your marketing objectives, and it should clearly present what value your product or service can provide. Make what it is you are selling obvious.
2) About Page
This is your opportunity to summarize your experience and/or education; and because your About Page is about you, make sure to include your personality in your description. The more authentic you are, the more people will want to buy from you.
3) Contact Page
When thinking about your Contact Page ask yourself:
- How should someone contact you?
- What is your preferred method of being contacted? I.e., email, phone, in-person or all of the above.
- Do you want to have a contact form on your website or just an e-mail address (or both)?
- Are your contact methods convenient for your customers?
Your Contact Page should be easy to find from every page of your website – because the easier you are to find, the more inclined someone will be to contact and buy from you.
If you have a brick and mortar business, this may also be a good page to include your address as well as hours of operation.
4) Services/Products/Menu Page
What is it you want people to buy from you? Whether it is a service, product or a visit to your store or restaurant, this information should be clear. This page is your chance to showcase what it is you have to offer. Make sure the products on this page are strictly yours (no third party advertisements!). If a product is only available online or in-store, or if some food items are only available for dining room patrons only, make that information clear.
If you are selling a service outline how your pricing works and if you do not want to list prices on your website make sure visitors know how they can easily obtain a quote.
If you are selling a product online, make sure the price is clearly listed and that any extras, such as taxes, shipping, etc. are indicated.
If you are posting a restaurant menu, you do not have to list the prices, but instead direct people to your contact page and ask them to contact you for more specific pricing information.
A blog page is a great way to keep your audience cognizant about new products or services that you are offering, but in an informal manner. It is also a place to write about industry trends or anything else that relates to your business. By posting consistently on your blog you are telling people that you up date your website frequently and therefore all the information there is valid and current. A blog also affirms your credibility and knowledge for what it is you do and/or the services you provide.
7) Media Page
Has your business or products been featured in print, television or on the radio? Have you written a guest post on another company’s blog or been interviewed on a podcast? A Media Page is where you list the links to all relevant media spots that help boost your business’ credibility.
A professionally designed logo, banners, and any other relevant graphics should be given to your website designer. All graphics should be consistent with your messaging and match your branding (as well as match any graphics that appear on any of your social media networks). A website that is visually appealing is more likely to retain a visitor longer.
9) Social Media Links
Where can people find you other than on your website? It is important to include each pertinent social media icon/link on the footer or header of your website. This includes, but is not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Periscope.
10) Newsletter Signup
Once someone has visited your website how can you keep in contact with them and include them in your sales funnel? Make sure your website has a call-to-action, such as a newsletter signup graphic that includes an enticing heading stating WHY someone would want to be on your mailing list – what value do you have to offer them?
When designing your website remember that no one likes to be confused. Keep your website simple yet make sure it contains all of the necessary information that your client needs to buy from you – and to ensure they will continue to buy from you time and time again.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of your website on top search engines like Google and Bing, to drive more targeted traffic to your website. The more people visit your website, the more they will know about your product or service. This generates increased business and everyone’s favourite: revenue.
Your business’ website must be efficient, functional and full of quality, engaging content. Content is crucial and highly valuable. Well optimized content makes it easier for search engines to locate. In other words, content is king! Your content should be specifically written with this in mind. If you want to have a successful website, it is imperative to pay close attention to your content. Remember, the Internet is the “information highway,” and people come there to get detailed information–not just generalities or pictures. Invest in good content to differentiate your business and give people reasons to do business with you. Of course, it must be easy for people to browse and read, too.
Here are some tips to optimize the content on your website, and to get found with Google Panda 4.2, Google’s algorithm.
- Make sure each page of your site has at least 300 words of unique content that can’t be found elsewhere on your site or anywhere else on the web.
- Set up a blog on your domain, and publish something on it as often as you can. To start, aim for twice a month. Write articles that you would personally find interesting and would want to read.
- Set up news posts and/or events on your website. Discuss what’s new for your business: new products, new services or other changes and updates. Create an event calendar for sales events, workshops, and promotions.
- Refresh your content often. Search engines look for periodic changes as a sign that content is updated and relevant. Even small changes in headlines and body copy can satisfy this requirement. Fresh content is one of the best investments in keeping your site higher in the search rankings. And, given that few of your competitors probably do it, site updates may give you a competitive advantage.
- Make it dynamic and visually interesting! For example, create videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, illustrations, PDF downloads.
- Identify 2-3 primary audiences for your product or service, and create unique content for each one. What are the main points or features that relate best to their individual needs?
- Avoid doing hard product pitches too often, and talk about other related topics that will interest your audience. Having users return to your site increases the likelihood that they will one day become clients.
- Add Social Share buttons to your blog and news posts so it is easy for visitors to share with their followers.
- Last must not least, make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website to keep track of the type of posts or content that is driving the most traffic to your site. Take a look at the keywords and phrases that visitors used to find your site. This will help you plan your content for future posts.
Review your website! Is your website content and the frequency of your posts helping or hurting your SEO? Investing time in your website structure and content is crucial in today’s business world. Providing regular, quality content that visitors will find beneficial and useful will drive more people to your website. Those visitors will bring even more visitors once shared on social media. The end result will be more search results to your website while allowing your potential customers to find you online.Read More
If the summer months are slow for your business, it doesn’t mean you should shut down your computer and walk away until fall. In fact, summer slowdown is the perfect opportunity for business owners to reexamine their social media strategy and see what is working, what isn’t working, what can be changed, where there is room for improvement, and decide what the coming months will look like for their social media marketing strategy.
Where to start?
- Update your social media profiles: When was the last time you updated your Facebook profile picture or your Facebook Page’s cover image? If it has been awhile since they were last updated ask yourself: do you still look like your profile photo? Is the messaging on your cover image still current and applicable?Some businesses change the cover image on their Facebook Page or Twitter profile seasonally, which is great; so long as you remember to change it again after the season has ended (this is especially true if the image relates to Christmas or other holiday seasons).
Regardless of the social media network, make sure your messaging is up to date, consistent and current. This may not seem like a big deal, but there is nothing worse than meeting with someone in person after they researched you online, only to have them mistaken the work you do simply because the messaging on your online channels were not inline with who you are or what your business does, sells or offers.
- Fine-tune your marketing message: With the first point in mind, summer slowdown is the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your marketing message. Does what you are broadcasting online about your business still apply? Are you still offering all the products and services that the “About” section of your Facebook Page states you are?And what about your LinkedIn profile? Do you have any skills, services or other information that should be removed, updated or added? Now is the time to go through all of this information and edit as needed.
- Refresh your opt ins: If you have been relying on the same opt ins to build your e-marketing list for more than a year, summer slowdown is the perfect time to think about creating new opt ins that will attract a new audience, or if your opt ins are doing well, slow periods are a great chance to take a look at the information you are providing in the opt ins to see if it is still correct and relevant.
- Connect in person: If the summer months mean more free time, then take advantage of it and invite some of your online connections to meet in person. Meeting people in person is a great way to build a relationship with someone who may eventually become a client – or may know someone who would be interested in your services or products. Networking and meeting people in-person compliments and builds online relationships.Speaking with people in person after knowing them online will also give you a feel for what people think or know of you from your online presence. This may help you strategize, change and plan future online content.
- Plan: Plan for tomorrow today! What are your social media goals for the fall and winter months? What is it you hope to achieve using social media? Instead of scrambling to find quality social media content during your busy periods, plan out what you want to say now using content that is already available to you, such as old (but still relevant) blog posts, third party articles and images that are appealing and of interest to your online audience.
These are just a few things that you should work on during your slow periods so that when business does get busy again you are not overwhelmed by your social media strategies, plans and content creation. By taking the time to strategize and plan your social media during slower periods means you will have more time later on to increase your online marketing even more!Read More
Too many small business owners spend time telling you how great they are without taking time to focus on the customer’s needs. Smart marketing delivers the right message to the right audience — a message that solves a customer’s problem. The customer always wants to know what is in it for them, how you can help them and solve their pains. Your marketing messages are the key messages that you want to convey across all your marketing platforms, from newspaper ads, to website, to social media accounts.
Start by defining your audience
You have to intimately understand your current and potential customers. Distinguish individual character profiles by age, gender, interests, profession, etc. Write down the details and find images that represent your target audience, this is your avatar or avatars. Based on your defined target audience, what are the key problems or concerns you can address or solve? Expand on and define those pain points for each character and write it under each profile. Below that, write down three key marketing messages you want to communicate to that audience.
What is messaging? How are key messages developed?
Basically, messaging is a term to describe how you talk about who you are and why you exist as a business or organization. It communicates key points you consistently make when you reach out to your audience. And it always ties back to your brand. They should also be developed for different audiences. You may want to consider crafting a set of short, standard phrases or paragraphs to describe your business, programs, products and/or services. Then, as you need to reach out to specific audiences, implement new marketing campaigns, you’ll have standard language ready to tailor to your purpose.
A well-crafted message will highlight your unique benefits, target your audience, support your mission and often include a call to action. What you want people to know about your business or organization, your services or products? What do you want people to do? How do you want them to feel about your business?
Develop a few core messages that makes the connection between what you do and how it relates to your audience. Be consistent with delivery. Each message you deliver should reflect your brand, who you are. Highlight what is relevant to the issue and your audience, but be sure to include a consistent statement about your business or organization. This makes your messaging memorable and helps position you in the market and in the minds of your audience.
Make sure there is not a disconnect from traditional marketing to your social media marketing side. They must reinforce each other. If someone reads your website, then your brochure, then your Facebook page and then talks to a staff member, all those points of information will be consistent and delivered in a similar tone.
Take a look at your marketing messages.
Are you focused on your customer’s needs or are you touting your wares? Your marketing message should be used in all your external communications. It starts with knowing the wants, fears, problems, and needs of your target market and ends by crafting a message that speaks to those problems in a compelling and believable way. The result is an irresistible message that makes your prospect want to know more.
Remember, a good marketing strategy plan starts with defining your marketing key messages. Long before you start choosing how you want to market your small business, you have to decide what it is you want to say. It’s critical to focus on something from the start and be consistent.
* Originally printed in the Smiths Falls Hometown news, July 2015 issue
Your relationship with your customers or clients is build trust and communication, like any relationship. Creating a successful business is done by nurturing and building these relationships. Email marketing can help you get there, but only if you’re doing it correctly. Usually a newsletter is not perceived as a marketing ploy. It is viewed more as a means of communication and news publication. Newsletters communicate trust, not a blatant advertisement. By being the source of quality content, you further build trust. This sets you apart from the marketing efforts of pushing a sale.
Email is effective because it’s permission-based. The people on your email list have signed up get get message from you. They have bought in. Add to this the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, they’re always listening. In fact, email is the number-one activity for people on their phones. Keep in mind, when people read email on a mobile device they do it quickly. That means your emails must be powerful enough to grab attention.
Here are five ways you can use email marketing to build customer relationships:
- Be Consistent
To stay connected, send them a regular newsletter. If you say you’ll send a weekly newsletter, make sure you deliver it weekly. If and when they have a problem that your business can solve, you will be top of mind.
- Meet Customer Needs and Lessen their Pains
Having a relationship with your customers means you know who they are on a personal level. It starts with gaining an understanding of who your customers are, what their needs are, what struggles they experience, and what success looks like for them. Send your customers highly relevant content that satisfies their needs and interests and solves their pains. The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to provide them with the content they’re looking for.
- Be Clear and Direct
Being clear and direct in your emails to your customers only strengthens your relationship. When they sign up to receive emails from you, tell them exactly what they can expect to receive from you. Tell them what their benefit is to signing up for your email. What’s in it for them? When you send emails, make sure you tell subscribers what you want them to do with a clear call to action.
- Reward you Email Subscribers
Another great way to strengthen customer relationships is to ensure that your customers know you value them. Who doesn’t love to feel important and appreciated? By rewarding your customers with exclusive content, information, discounts, etc., you deepen the relationship you have with them.
- Be Authentic
Customers appreciate authenticity from businesses. It builds trust, and they’ll stick with you if you are real with them. Make sure your emails convey an authentic and real approach. You will start to see how much this can strengthen the relationship you have with your customers.
Note: As many of you know, CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, came into effect July 1st, 2014. All email addresses you send to must be permission-based, meaning the subscribers specifically opted-in to receive your communications. CASL allows for what they call “implied consent,” where you have a business relationship that would require contact. For example, customers, clients, donors, supporters, volunteers or members of an organization from within the past two years. They also allow you to mail to addresses that are published on websites, as long as there’s nothing saying not to send email. Make sure to read all the rules before sending your first email campaign.
Do you use email marketing for your business? What tips can you share that has worked for you?
As published in the June 2015 issue of Smiths Falls HomeTown News