Archive for Social Marketing

10 Critical Website Tips for 2015

Your business services and products can be top of the line, but if your website is poorly designed and does not resonate with your visitors, you will not attract attention or convert them into customers. If you’re unsure about your website, check out these critical tips to increase your website’s contribution to your overall business goals.

  1. Design – With over 40% of website traffic originating from mobile devices, it is critical to have your website look equally impressive whether your visitors are using a desktop, a tablet, or a phone. For your website to be more engaging and easier to use, make sure it is mobile friendly. Using a WordPress Responsive design is an effective way to accomplish this.
  2. Colors – Colors can be a driving force on your website. They can touch the emotions of your site visitors. There is a science to how colors can influence a person’s mind. Branding is critical. When designing your brand, take into account the psychology of colors and then integrate that same pallet into your website, as well as your other online and offline marketing collateral.
  3. Navigation – Today’s online consumers want to be able to find their way around your website quickly and effortlessly. Your navigation should be simple, intuitive, and help people find exactly what they are looking for in the shortest possible time. If it takes more than three to five seconds, you’ll lose them. When faced with indecision, they will leave rather than try to figure it out.
  4. Call-to-Action – Your home page, where most visitors enter, needs to be clear on what you want the visitor to do. What action do you want them to take? Whether it’s purchasing your product, downloading your white paper, signing up for a free consultation, opting into a newsletter, or requesting more information, make it clear and urge them to take action.
  5. Content – Your page content needs to get your main points across quickly. Use simple, highly relevant content, with an attractive and readable format. Visitors don’t want to read 2,000 words on the history of your company, so get to the point. Make sure that your page text is specific to the context of that page and focuses on the reason the visitor has chosen it. Each page of your site should have its own purpose.
  6. Visuals – Website visitors today want to see more visual content. Use photos, graphics, and videos on your site to convey your message. However, don’t overdo it. The webpage should still have white space and not be overly cluttered.
  7. Testimonials – Statistics show that the vast majority of online consumers value what other consumers say about your products and services. Display your customer testimonials on your site and encourage new customers to add their own. Glowing reviews compel the visitors to trust you and increases the chance they’ll want to do business with you.
  8. Contact Information – Quite a few business websites don’t provide adequate contact data and as a result, may lose potential business leads. Failing to provide easy access to contact details is one way to frustrate visitors and incent them to leave, potentially to a competitor.
  9. Social Media – With the prevalence of social media today, you have to assume that your potential customers are there too. Make sure to increase the visibility and reach of your website through the use of social media channels. Show your visitors and customers the various ways they can communicate with your company directly. However, just being on social media isn’t enough. You have to be active on social media for it to be effective. Remember, “Like Rome, a massive web presence is not built in a day. A massive web presence is built a little bit each day”(Jeff Herring – Article Marketing Expert).
  10. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – One of the main reasons to develop a website for your business is to attract new customers. Statistics show that as many as 90% of consumers today use search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find their goods and services. Having a site optimized for search engines is absolutely essential in being able to achieve a high enough ranking that new customers will find you. If you don’t know about SEO, or don’t know someone who does, I would suggest seeking professional help. Having a website that can’t be found on the internet is like having a gourmet restaurant in the desert. It’s great, but nobody knows it’s there. If you’ve done all the steps 1-9 but left this last one out, your supreme effort ends up being a waste of time and money

Your website is an extremely important component of your marketing strategy. Done right, its ability to attract and influence your visitors can have a significant impact on your lead generation. Done wrong, and it’s just another of the thousands of websites that can’t be found. Make sure yours is not lost in the crowd. If you’re not sure how well yours if performing, give us a call and we would be happy to provide a free, no obligation marketing assessment of your site.

But I Don’t Have Time for Social Media

I can’t tell you how many times we have heard someone say “I don’t have time for social media, I’m too busy”. Everyone is busy, but when you actually sit down and think about it, are you really?

Do you have 20 minutes every day or every other day to spend on something that could improve your business? In the past, we have helped clients put together organized and well-branded social media programs and trained them on their use only to see them wither and die on the vine from lack of attention.

Remember the old saying

“You can lead a horse to water…”

Would you attend a networking event and choose to sit alone and say nothing? Probably not. That would be a waste of your time and money.

Social media is not an attempt to add more to your already full plate. Online marketing is the way of the world today, and using social media to promote your business has become not just a good thing to do but a required component. When you think you don’t have the time, ask yourself if what you really mean is that you feel uncomfortable with social media, or that you consider other activities more critical than social media, or that you would just “prefer” to do other tasks.

There are some things that you can call a professional and get help with;

  1. Setting up social media profiles
  2. Branding your presence for a professional look
  3. Linking the proper sites such as your website
  4. Training you on the best practices of using the particular channel(s) you’ve decided to use
  5. Social Media Management Services (posting, monitoring, etc.)

We tell our clients that once they have a well-designed presence and know how to use the tools, the only thing left is to just do it. We recommend putting an appointment on your calendar just as you would for a business meeting and when that time arrives, DON’T BLOW OFF THE MEETING. Sit down and do it. Once you get into a regular routine, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier.

If you have problems, don’t give up. Consult a professional for guidance or training.

Using social media for business today is as important as using email for business was 10 years ago. Everybody wants to expose their products and services to a larger audience. The more people who are aware of your business, the greater the chance you have of turning those connections into referral sources, leads or even paying clients. Remember though, first things first. Be social. Don’t oversell. Opportunities to promote your business will follow in due time.

Why Use a Single Service Provider for Marketing and Branding

An integrated marketing strategy is something most businesses would say they want because it sounds good. However, many are not really sure what that is, what it looks like or why you need one.

The Approach

An integrated marketing strategy is an approach that delivers a consistent message across all marketing channels. Its objective is to insure that your target market receives the same brand image and message about your goods or services, no matter where they see it.

Here are examples of marketing and branding a business might use:

  1. Business Logo
  2. Letterhead/Stationary
  3. Business Cards
  4. Promotional Brochures and/or Flyers
  5. E-Newsletter
  6. Website
  7. Blog
  8. Online Business Directories
  9. Social Media Sites
    1. Facebook
    2. LinkedIn
    3. Twitter
    4. YouTube
    5. Google+
  10. Magazine/Newspaper/TV/Radio/ ads

And this list can go on, and on depending on the business…

In theory, it sounds pretty simple. In practice, it can be surprisingly difficult. Especially if your implementation is fragmented and different people/vendors complete various components. Consistency in colors, fonts, text, graphic styles and message are more difficult to integrate.

The Single Service Provider

The right service provider requires a diverse set of skills. These include web design, graphic design, branding, search engine optimization and social media marketing, just to name a few. Working with the right firm provides the opportunity to develop a branding and marketing strategy that is consistent across all marketing channels before you begin. To find the right service provider, make sure to research your options. Look at their past work, look for reviews or comments on the quality of their work and ask questions.

The Vision

Start with a common vision of what you are trying to achieve. Whether your organization is large, medium or small, the key is to make sure that all decision makers share and agree upon a similar vision of what you are trying to accomplish and why.

The Process

Identify your current position. Quite often, a business will already have one, two or more of these components in place. This requires analyzing the quality of the existing components/materials and determining whether they can be integrated with the overall vision or whether they need to be altered or replaced.

The How

Identify the channels you will use to communicate with your target market. Where will you need to be so that wherever your potential customers look, you are there with a consistent brand appearance and message? This doesn’t mean that you need to be everywhere, or be all things to all people, it just means that you should prioritize your efforts so that the largest part of your target market gets your message.

The Team

Plan for the resources you will need. An integrated marketing approach needs to be worked consistently and across all channels which requires coordination and effort. When you look at failed marketing strategies, as we often do, you find that a top reason they fail is due to a lack of priority. Other factors come into play taking focus away from the plan. Consistency is not easy. One approach many clients use, especially smaller ones with limited resources, is to outsource part or all of the program. This not only brings additional resources to the table, but also objectivity/accountability and specialized skillsets.

The Monitoring

Consistent monitoring and occasional tweaking are necessary. We continually refer to the old adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Successful programs always monitor their implementation, measure their success, and make “tweaks” as necessary. Marketing is never a “set it, and forget it” proposition.

The Conclusion

The bottom line is that working with a single qualified service provider to guide you through this maze of tools and techniques is more cost effective, more consistent, you have a single point of contact which reduces confusion and finger pointing, and it typically results in a more cohesive approach with better outcomes.

So I’m on Facebook, Now What Do I Do?

If you are a small to mid-sized business that started up a Facebook account because, well, that’s what all the “in” companies are doing these days, then this post is for you. Good for you for choosing this high-impact, popular social media option as part of your brand identity and communication strategy. Of course it’s only strategic if you implement and operate it well. Here are a few guidelines to help increase your impact and improve your returns on Facebook.

Who Are You?

With the advent of the “Timeline,” Facebook pushed businesses to become more human. Now a company is expected to act more like people. The focus on building relationships has grown from there and now it is likely that a place of business will add pictures from the company picnic or party to the timeline, and perhaps both informational and entertaining links to other websites. Facebook offers a big chance to build a relationship with your customers. You’ve probably heard or seen this quote:

“People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~ Maya Angelou

You can’t “feel” a machined product, a technology, a building, a telephone wire, a baked good, or whatever your business. Ask yourself “what would I look like on this Facebook page if they took away my product?” What remains is exactly what you talk about the most. Your ability to inspire, connect, communicate and build real relationships. Now you don’t want to be completely devoid of shop talk, but this deeper approach allows you to present your products and services by way of your unique, personal bond that you develop with the audience member.

Think, “How does my product/service connect with the reader to make their life better? How does my company’s existence enhance life for somebody out there; what do we do to make things better in the world?” Rather than opening with “here’s what’s interesting about ME,” let your customer know, “We understand our customers…,” “We are motivated to create the blah blah blah because of these specific things our customers need,” Talk about how connected you are with your readers. On top of that, maybe you donate something, or recycle on a large scale, or fund some kind of research or aid education. Perhaps you are involved in some way that stretches beyond the scope of your product or service. Whatever it is, it is part of your values and says something about who you are. All of these connections are important building blocks between you and your customers. Talk about it and get them talking about it.

Focus on Value or Forget it.

When it comes to online content, keeping customers engaged and wanting more is a balancing act with a focus on quality. Is specific attention placed on high-value content based on serving your customers’ needs? Or are you primarily collecting “likes?” Research shows that 98% of folks who click the “like” button do not return to the Facebook page again*. In the digital marketing game it is critical that a business maintains a high value paradigm or not even bother. To push idle chit chat and fun games is okay for a coffee break, and certainly not every Facebook page has to be too restrained. But if value-driven take-aways are not the priority, your audience will move on to some else’s page where their needs are king. According to Moore, if you are not investing in long-term value relationships by providing content your audience trusts you just might be short for the digital world of business.

Is Facebook Enough?

Be watchful when planning your social media strategy. While employing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn makes for wise marketing moves, you are playing by someone else’s rules. Absolutely take advantage of the reach and impact these sites offer, but be certain that your website is up-to-date too. The company website, if well-designed and well maintained is the one online marketing source that you own and control in this mix. No one knows what happens to your Facebook page in 6 months. Would your readers seek you out if Facebook ceased to exist and a new social media site went up suddenly? How can you ensure this? It always comes down to building trust, offering relevant high value, and creating strong relationships. Also be sure to point all of your social media messaging to your website where you have complete control of your representation of your brand and values.

So long as you keep your communication efforts aligned with building trust and long-term relationships, you will be likely to make good choices for your online content. Be sure to keep writing and stay on top of your news and information. An up-to-date source of information is much more likely to garner trust and better business. The bottom line, make Facebook, other social media, and your website work for you – and not the other way around.

Ten Steps to Social Media Success

When we meet with clients who want to use social media to grow their business, our project plan includes these 10 steps.  The “strategy” that results is often very different, but that’s OK because no single solution works for every business. If you know you want to get started, but don’t know where to begin, start with these Ten Steps:

  1. Educate yourself on the latest tools and techniques in Social Media
  2. Define your business objectives
  3. Identify your target market
  4. Decide how much time you have to spend on social media
  5. Decide who will manage your company’s social media
  6. Choose the social media channels you will use
  7. Develop a strategy to achieve your objectives
  8. Set up your social media channels
  9. Engage with your audience
  10. Manage your campaign and monitor your progress

This is an over-simplification of the process, but it outlines the major steps you should follow to be successful. If you have questions or get stuck on any of these steps, call us. We can help.