Website design – what’s needed today?

Website design – what’s needed today?

Website Design Today

So you have a small business and you want to get a new website design or refresh an old one. But you want to make sure your internal staff or your website designer have all the right features and components. Perhaps you are asking yourself these questions? What are the latest trends? What is required for better SEO? What does my business need? What’s not good to have anymore? What does my target audience want to see? These may be just a few of the questions you may have. However, there may be questions you don’t know to ask. I’ll try to address the key areas to make sure your website is the best it can be.

Page Content

When considering your content, keep in mind for your website, ‘Content is King’. That being said, you need to know your home page for search engines like Google, are heavily weighted at about 80% so focus on that page the most. Understand your target audience and be able to convey your story clearly by introducing each section. Keep in mind you need a minimum number of words for good search ranking. Additionally, your copywriting needs to free of jargon; So, identify your keywords and phrases and make sure your readability meets industry standards. For those few people that like writing, remember too many words can be a deterrent for most viewers. Remember less is more. Choosing the right words and phrases make good copywriting for readers.

Visual Aspects

Your colours should be based on your branding and logo. Remember simple things like primary colours, secondary colours and your contrast colours. Colours create thoughts and emotions so choose wisely. Photos still speak a thousand words and like colours, they create emotions more powerful than you really think. Stock photos are a good place to start, but original professional photos are best if you have a budget. Videos are key today whether produced, animated or testimonials. Some may argue uploaded and others social media embedded for better search results, but you must have video to capture attention. Sliders (motion timed photos usually across the top of a website) are hot items right now encouraged viewer engagement combining text, photos and video. Podcasts may be a consideration depending on your business model as well. It’s a best practice to make sure that either video and podcast do not autoplay ads because most viewers consider that annoying.

Suggested Features

The latest is animation, text sections or photos. Website design today must not be just static, but need to be highly engaging to keep viewers on your website. Speaking of engaging, your website must be responsive to grab viewers who use various sizes of devices. It’s not just to keep them on your website but to improve your search rankings with Google and Bing. Social media icons are pretty much a given. However, newer features like chat boxes, pop up signup forms and booking widgets should be considered for your type of business.

Technical Suggestions

The following are a few best practices in this area because I certainly do not have the space to write out everything. Here’s the most important: Always start with good hosting with backups and malware scanning. Starting in the new year your website will also need SSL security (https) with your domain to get better Google search results. If you are a DIY person then choose best of brand website builders. Beware, there are less expensive builders to build your website on but they come with a cost. Often they have compromised features and questionable search friendly platforms not to mention your own possible lack of marketing design knowledge. Today’s growing platform for most small business is the WordPress platform with about a third of the world’s websites and blogs resting on it. Why? Because they are a good user content management system and Google’s search engine likes to find a word based platform. That being said, your website pages have must external links to related topics or businesses.

Last Comments

Your website needs to have good onsite, offsite and local SEO to be found by search engines like Google and Bing. “Build it and they will come” is not a good philosophy for websites. It’s a waste of money to build and not get found. Equality along with that, your content must stay current. Just don’t build it and leave. Having new and fresh content should be part of your SEO strategy. Your website should always be a work in progress. Regular blogging is a good way to increase SEO and stay current. Hiring a ghostwriter if you are not a writer is a good investment. Offering promotions or freebies also works.Your viewers and potential clients will thank you.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Online marketing is not child’s play! Are you a small business owner or business partner? Are you starting a new business and your budget is tight? Or, are you trying to reduce your marketing costs? Perhaps you just like to try things for yourself. Those are all good in their own right, but is it the best thing to do for your business? As I learned in my personal life after a divorce many years ago, when entering the dating scene again, ‘just because I can date again didn’t mean I should’. I needed time to heal and I needed to spend time elsewhere.

Priorities and time management

Just because you can figure out how to make a website, how to set up your SEO and how to create online marketing campaigns, ‘doesn’t mean you should,’ for several reasons: For example, I could crawl under my car and change the oil as I used to when I was a poor student in order to save a few dollars. I could also lay on my back under my kitchen sink and learn how to replace my kitchen taps. These both could be a good learning experience, but is it worth the time to achieve meager results and possibly cause more damage? There is a good chance I may have gained small knowledge and left with a good feeling, but is it worth my time? The old adage ‘Time is Money,’ is still accurate. Spending time doing things I’m only okay at, is not likely the best use of my time and I may miss out on other much more important opportunities to grow my business..

DIY design and online marketing

If I have heard this story once, I have heard it a hundred times. I honestly admire small business owners or their staff who want to take on new challenges like designing their own website and doing their own online marketing. I understand how the DIY strategy can potentially save your company some money. However, from experience and knowing how marketing changes daily, I’m suggesting ‘doing it yourself’ or using untrained staff can have a double-edge sword effect. Designing a website is not as simple as the experts make it look. Your need to understand the home page needs a marketing and content writing expert to tell your story. Like an iceberg, ninety percent of the website work is what you don’t see. What you can’t see is how much SEO is required for a Google searcher to find you. That simple process alone requires no coding errors, proper keywords, good copying writing for readability, fast loading times and great responsive mobile results. Marketing requires current training as the tools of yesterday don’t work well and have poor ROI. Additionally, not to mention, marketing today can change daily so it requires current training across all platforms from SEO practices to pay-per-click advertising.

Best practices and recommendations

The rule of thumb for DIY digital design and online marketing is to figure out what your time is worth per hour (annual income $$$ divided by 2112). Don’t waste time on marketing projects that cost you more than you would’ve had it done by an expert. The hard part is knowing what the true cost of your efforts that end up poor or meager results. These efforts could affect your business sales growth or your company reputation with poor quality or bad ROI. Unless you or your staff have the time start marketing training, it’s usually better to hire a good marketing freelancer or marketing expert that is current trained to handle to digital design and online marketing. Perhaps there is truth to “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” Focus your efforts on what you do best and stick to your core competences.

Technology. Where are you on the scale?

Technology. Where are you on the scale?

Many small business owners struggle with technology and to stay current, but the reasons differ. Some owners just want to stick to the tried and true, others worry about the cost and the learning curve and still others fear the future rather than embrace it. Here are a few trends to keep you in the know and reasons why you should consider updating your technology, marketing and tools. Where are you on the technology scale? Are you a 3, 5 or 8 out of 10?

Websites

Statistically, only a third of small businesses have a website. Having said that, many websites are still not mobile friendly yet and many are still the old static website designs. How will updating help you business? Nowadays your website needs to be responsive so that it can be viewed on all device sizes. This type of mobile website ranks better with search engines like Google so your business is seen more. Having a new design allows motion and media which keeps viewers more engaged and less likely to move on to other sites. To have a current website today, it can include integrated booking calendars, customer account logins and shopping carts for products and services. These are just a few reasons to make you higher on the technology scale

Social Media

If you haven’t established an online social media presence, then perhaps it’s time to start a least with a Facebook profile and add a Facebook Page (business). Not sure how? Ask a tech savvy friend or family member to help get you started. Once you’re comfortable with that, add a YouTube channel and upload some videos and a Linkedin professional profile. Furthermore, stick to the common social media and add a twitter, Instagram and Linkedin profiles. Your website and marketing should be integrated to make all your marketing to work together. You could be close to a 6 or seven on that technology scale now!

Marketing

Are you still sending out flyers and expecting the same results as ten years ago? Today a high percentage of people search online for products and services. With online marketing not only are the results better, but your customers can be targeted and results measured to tweak for further campaigns. Online marketing or digital marketing today includes SEO (website settings to make sure your found), social media marketing reaching out to online followers, Google and Facebook ads and email marketing reaching out to existing customers. Recently, marketing automation for online stores and sales teams are where online marketing is currently. How’s your technology knowledge now?

Business Tools

So you’re still using an office PC tower with older Windows and Microsoft office software and no back ups? Perhaps your phone is a flip phone or a Blackberry? What are current tools of the day and why should you upgrade? Today’s office tools include laptop or tablet with online services containing email, word processing and cloud backup storage. Connected with this technology is a smart phone that allows full sync with your other devices enabling complete remote access to files, emails and file sharing. Today’s current business includes online accounting to allow remote expense adds, quotations, invoicing and payments. Cloud backups and storage are old news, as remote collaborating and video web meetings are now commonplace.

To figure out what works for you, do a little research for current business tools or talk to a few business colleagues asking them what marketing tools works for their business and ask why. Make your small business current today. Become a 9 or 10 and be up-to-date with technology! Make it work the best for your business.

Why do you need a landing page for online ads?

Why do you need a landing page for online ads?

You may have read that Google Adwords and Facebook Ads recommend a landing page along with their online ads. Every marketing agency knows this all too well. It’s not so they can increase their billing, but they understand the power of conversation versus wasting ad budget money.

If I had a dollar every time a small business says they will do their own Google Adwords or Facebook ads and direct the ads to the website, I’d be a rich man. What I always hear them say after they’ve tried it for a while, is that these ads are a waste of money because they had no results.

It’s best to start by explaining what a landing page is. A landing page or marketing page is usually a hidden page on your website that online ads are directed to in order to help convert ad clicks in actual dollars.

Why can’t you just send the ad clicks to your website? It’s been proven that ads sent to your website do not show the results and do not provide good ROI (return on investment). Why? It’s because landing pages have key components to encourage viewers to stay engaged and to move to action.

Here are the components required and why: to begin with, the landing page needs an engaging capture line and image to keep them reading. Usually this page should identify a problem, provide a solution and then expand with some key benefits. All this needs to lead to a call to action that matches your business model. (buy now, get a free trial, book an appointment etc.)

Suggested Components

  • no website navigation
  • social icons or sharing
  • captivating catch line
  • relevant photos
  • key features
  • 2-3 different call to actions

So take the advice from Google, Facebook and the professionals, design your own or have a landing page created so that your ad money is not wasted. You want your ads to convert from clicks to conversations to increase your business revenues or exposure.

Does marketing automation have the best ROI?

Does marketing automation have the best ROI?

I get this asked of me many times over. What is the least expensive way to bring in sales? The answer is simple; sell to your customers. This coincides with the business principle indicating that 80% of your business comes from your existing customers. It’s the easiest way to bring in more revenue because customers are already sold on your goods and services. Furthermore, your return on your investment is usually far greater than selling to a new audience. Marketing automation is an affordable and effective tool that allows you to target existing customers and sell them your products and services. Once that’s in place, relax and let the marketing automation work for you!

Ecommerce Marketing Automation

Ecommerce means a lot of different things, but I want to look at online store or shopping carts and assume you are not a new business. You need to spend some of your marketing budget to get found by web searchers with good SEO and spend money on paid ads to boost your efforts. However, email marketing automation is still the best “bang for your buck” and offers the best return on your investment. Automating your marketing with your website store will help you stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis, keep them informed about related products or services and remind them when they abandon a shopping cart. All this with little effort and cost on your part. Thus this added marketing tool will provide a huge uplift in your online store sales as well as save you time.

Sales CRM Marketing Automation

A business model that uses a sales team requires more than just marketing automation. They require a customer relationship management system known as a CRM, to track leads, opportunities and activities. These also integrate email programs to sync up tasks, calendar events and contacts. These CRM’s integrated with marketing automation provide a combination of sales and marketing now expected from salespeople and organizations. Marketing automation usually includes lead generation forms added to websites, triggered autoresponders from signups, a series of educational emails and email campaigns to promote and communicate with clients. This powerful dual tool can increase sales and improve business relationships with less effort, yet personalize the buyier experience.

What should you do moving forward?

It makes sense to automate your marketing for two great reasons:

  1. Increase your sales revenues
  2. Reduce wasted time on your own efforts

Pick a marketing automation that works for your business model and set it up properly or get it setup for you. Put it to use to get the sales you require and to save your time. All business owners need to take a breather. Let the automation do the work..