Goals. They aren’t just for sport.
The most common mistake business owners make when engaging in their marketing efforts is putting the cart before the horse. They know they want a website, but often times they skip an important step before building that site.
They think they need a website because their competitors have one.
They think they need a video because, “aren’t TV commercials the best way to advertise?”
They think they need to be on Facebook because “everyone is on it”.
They know they need to follow the trends in order to keep up. The problem is, they never ask themselves, “Why?”
We’re not saying you don’t need a website.
You do! Everyone does. If you want to be found, that is. A recent study showed that nearly 100% of consumers do online research before choosing a product or service. That’s literally almost everyone.
So, you do need to represent yourself on the internet. Your first instinct might be a series of “what” questions:
What colors should I use?
What type of layout should I use?
What kind of font should I use?
While these are all important questions, you should be asking yourself:
Why does my business need a website? What is its purpose?
A salesman came to us with a simple request.
“I want a website.”
Our first response was, “Why do you want website?”
He replied, “Well, because everyone else has one.”
While it is important to keep up with the competition, it is equally, and probably more important to have a strategy and a set of goals to make sure you are maximizing the full potential of your marketing tools.
Before we could offer a solution, we first had to identify the problem.
So we dug in. The salesman traveled from customer to customer selling his product. He had regular customers and a loosely defined routine for his sales schedule.
In addition to his regular customers, he would also try to obtain new customers in the particular region he was travelling in.
After briefly talking it out, we discovered the goal: more leads! He wanted to minimize the down-time, maximize the reach.
We now have the problem (leads & time management) and the solution (website). The only thing left to do was map out the route to get there!
We set him up with a web calendar, allowing clients to come to him and cut out drive time. We also added the ability to do video and phone conferences so he could take more meetings and spend even less time in the car.
In the end, the salesman was able to use his time more efficiently, by making his website work for him. By removing unnecessary drive time and with the ability to schedule his weeks with the click of a button, sales rose dramatically.
It was easy for the salesman to measure his success. He only had to compare monthly sales with and without his new plan, and the results were obvious.
Without discovering the true purpose of the website, the salesman might have never realized he needed to change his sales approach. He might’ve gotten a few more leads from the website, but he might not have taken that step back to assess his process as a whole.
Just by simply setting those goals for the website, he realized, and solved, a problem he didn’t even know he had.
Take a step back. Examine your marketing approach and ask yourself:
“Why is this (ie. video, website, social media) needed? What is the purpose? What should it accomplish?”
Answering this will help you define your goals and move your marketing strategy forward.
Owning a website and keeping it secure is a full-time job in today’s world. Whether you’re trying to keep it mobile-friendly or merely protect it from the latest rounds of hackers and exploits, it’s easy to get disgruntled with the whole process and just cross your fingers hoping for the best.
Scams are a dime a dozen, and they spare no expense when it comes to getting inside your website and costing you incalculable amounts of money. Last time, we talked about SEO scams and what to watch out for. But, today, our blog focuses on some common domain name scams and what to watch out for when someone tries to pull a fast one on you.
What is a domain name?
To know what a domain scam is, you first must know what a domain name is. Wikipedia describes a domain name as “an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet.” It goes on to add that domain names “are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System, or DNS. Any name in the DNS is a domain name.”
If that were all you had to go off of, that all seems very technical and complicated—because it is. Scammers depend on that misunderstanding and confusion to make money off of you. In a more laymen sense, domains names are what you type into the address bar to take you to a web site.
They are a helpful marketing tool if used correctly. Making your domain name something memorable, or at least easy to remember, is key. Some companies even opt to use their domain name as a sort-of call-to-action such as www.buythisproduct.com. The mark of a great domain, however, is usually one that is short and gets the point across.
Common Domain Scams
Easily the most common domain scam you’ll see is known as domain slamming. This tactic deceives the site owner into believing they are renewing the lease on their current domain when in reality, they are signing up for a new domain that looks very similar to your own. The difference can be as minute as one letter, but it is enough to keep you out of your own website.
Scammers will essentially data-mine databases to find domains that are coming up for renewal, making this a lucrative business by targeting many web sites all at once. The scam depends on a person’s lack of attention to detail—the invoices they send look legitimate, and the easiest way to avoid falling prey to this scam is to always make sure the invoice is from the company you’ve purchased the domain from, and to double-check the domain name being renewed is yours.
Less common than slamming, is the bogus trademark protection claim. Trademark protection is pretty important to companies, as it is asset protection in a sense. Laws across the globe say that brand owners need to be seen to protect their specific brand or they will lose the right to protect it in the future.
A scammer can play on this fear by sending you a notice that basically suggests there’s an organization trying to register a domain with your branding in that country. Again playing into your unfamiliarity, they offer their help by letting you register the domain through them like they are doing you a favor.
Failing to notice these scams can result in a devastating blow to your website and business.
Needing more guidance with your web site and brand? Don’t fret, Innovations Branding House is at the ready to help you. Schedule a consultation with the experts and see what areas you need to improve on. What do you have to lose?
You’ve developed a truly awesome website, complete with valuable content, visually appealing design, and all the SEO tricks in the book. Somehow, you still think the number of qualified prospects visiting the site should be higher. What can you do?
The first step should be to check out these two blogs posts:
- Why isn’t my website drawing in business? 10 Key Elements of a Great Company Website – Part 1
- Why isn’t my website drawing in business? 10 Key Elements of a Great Company Website – Part 2
If you’ve marked off every item in those lists, there are a few more helpful actions you can take:
- Display your domain name on everything you do. Every traditional marketing piece you put out should have the domain listed somewhere. This includes flyers, brochures, signage, postcards, TV commercials, radio advertisements, etc. The same goes for anything that leaves your desk – business cards, letterhead, email signatures, and so on. Don’t forget about inbound marketing areas! Each of your social media pages should prominently feature your website’s domain, preferably with a direct link to that web address.
- Interact in relevant online communities. Find outside articles, blog posts, and forums that are related to your business. Then, start commenting in these places.Be sure to add your name, position, company name, and web address somewhere in the comment.
- Create content for other related blogs. Expand your audience by reaching out to some well-known blogs within your niche. There have to be blogs out there that receive more traffic than yours.Use their readership to your advantage. Writing guest blog posts for these places is a great way to generate additional traffic. Remember to include a short blurb about yourself at the end of each blog post written for outside sources. This blurb should include your name, position, company name, web address, etc.
- Hold competitions that require contestants to visit your website. For an example of this, check out what Innovations Branding House did for the launch of our new website!
- Send out email newsletters. In these newsletters, you should find ways to link back to your website. If the content in these emails is well written and intriguing, readers will gladly click on the links.
Continue optimizing your site by discovering the five things every website needs to start generating business leads.
Your company’s website can serve as a valuable resource for converting visitors into leads. If you haven’t experienced much success with your brand’s site, it may be time to reevaluate.
If you missed our last blog post, click here. You’ll want to begin by learning the first 5 key elements of a great company website.
Now, let’s continue with our list:
- Balance of Visuals and Text
As we mentioned before, it’s beneficial to include both written word and visual components within your website content. The trick is to find a good balance of the two. Your goal is to be informative and entertaining at the same time.
The flow of your website is crucial in two ways. First, each page should flow well together. Order matters. Moreover, when a viewer switches from page to page, there should be a sense of consistency amongst the design elements. Sizes, shapes, and placement should be complementary to the overall theme.
Secondly, it’s important to take on the mindset of your target audience. How will these people browse throughout your website? There are many pathways they could choose to take. Consider these paths and find ways to cater to this flow. That could mean placing a link to another page here or a CTA there.
- CTAs, Landing Pages, and Forms
These three items work together and could make or break your website. Calls-to-action are simple and direct messages that tell your audience what the next step should be. The CTA may encourage your audience to proceed to that next step by offering something of value. This thing might be a free download or even a coupon. It will help if you make the CTA look like a clickable button. Also consider the colors and size of this button. CTAs should stand out while still complementing the theme of your site.
Once users click on a CTA, they should be taken to a landing page. This landing page will usually contain a headline, a reminder of the CTA/offer, at least one image, and a form.
Forms are used to capture the information of potential consumers so that you can better market to them in the future. Without an effective form, CTAs and landing pages are basically pointless. Remember to only put as many fields in the form as you think you’ll really need. The fewer fields a form has, the more likely people are to complete it.
This is the best way to earn the trust of potential clients while establishing credibility for your brand. A blog allows you to consistently share valuable, in-depth information without asking for anything in return.
Today’s consumers are tired of being harassed by the typical salespeople trying to make a quick buck. Show them that you’re genuinely interested in providing solutions to their needs.
- Social Sharing
Word of mouth is the cheapest and most effective method of marketing. How can something that’s free have such a significant impact on your business? That’s easy. Consumers trust other consumers. People are more likely to use a product or service when it has been recommended by someone they know.
If you read last Friday’s blog post, you know that recommendations seen on Facebook have resulted in purchases by 33 percent of online consumers in the U.S. alone. (BlogHer) Make online sharing easy for your audience by placing prominent social sharing icons within your website and blog.
When done properly, company websites can be a valuable asset to your business. Without these 10 essential elements, your site may become a missed opportunity for sales growth.
With our newly redesigned website up and functioning, we realized that many of you out there might be struggling with your own websites.
Maybe you’ve checked the analytics and realized that your site isn’t drawing in business. Even worse, maybe you see that the site is drawing in visitors but not converting them into leads. This means that people are visiting your site and then leaving almost as quickly as they came. Take this as a hint that it’s time for a change.
For that reason, we’d like to present 10 key elements of any great company website:
This is what’s going to help search engines draw traffic to your site. Your website’s content should be relevant, have value, and include keywords that your target audience is most likely to search. This will involve a bit of research on your part, but the outcome will be well worth your time. Alt tags, title tags, and meta descriptions also play a large role in proper SEO.
Helpful hint: Blogging and participating in social media will work to increase your search engine ranking as well.
The design of your website will serve as a first impression. Make sure the look of the site is appealing to your target audience. Your brand may be one in hundreds of thousands of online search results, so remember that the audience has other options. If your company’s website doesn’t interest them, they’ll move along to the next search result. Displaying an attractive design is your first hope in convincing viewers to stay on your site.
- Navigation and Functionality
If users choose to remain on your site, they’ll begin browsing. Don’t be too confident. This doesn’t mean they’ve made a commitment to your brand yet. You still have a lot of work to go.
If the information on your website is too difficult to find or if the layout doesn’t make sense, those visitors will leave. Keep the navigation options simple and visible. Primary navigation links should typically be kept at the top of your site. It’s also important that your site functions properly. No one wants to click on a link only to receive a “Page Not Found” error.
- Clear, Valuable Content
Consumers don’t want a sales pitch. They also don’t like having to dig through a lot of fluff. Give them valuable content that solves their problems and is easy to digest.
Furthermore, write content for your audience, not for yourself. People visit your site to find out how you can help them, not to hear you go on and on about the company’s accomplishments.
Always remember to keep content fresh. People will appreciate this and so will search engines! Having outdated and irrelevant information on your website can be a major drawback.
- Captivating Graphics or Images
Most people are visual learners; they would rather look at images and graphics than read a large block of text. For this reason, you’ll want to incorporate visual elements into your site. (Some concepts are better communicated visually anyway).
Is there a lot of data that needs to be represented on your site? Instead of typing it all, consider developing an infographic. When numbers and figures are displayed visually, they become much more interesting and easy to understand. Infogr.am is a site where you can actually create these infographics for free.
The list doesn’t end here! On Friday, December 20, we’ll cover the other half of these essential website elements. You won’t want to miss it! The last 5 elements go more in depth and will help tie your entire site together.