Looking after and maintaining your company's website can be a difficult job, yet a third of small businesses still choose to do it themselves.
At first the process appears simple; hire the right designer, manage hosting prices and then maintain the site from there. However, there are several other factors that demand attention and that can be detrimental to your website if ignored.
Here are four website mistakes that are often made by small firms:
Like the fashion world, website trends are always changing and new designs are constantly emerging; what looked good a few years ago won't be reaching the standards expected by your customers today.
First impressions are important, so ask yourself: "what does my site say about my business?". That you don't care? That you're outdated? That you're disorganised? That you're not the best option available?
If you answered yes to any of these, then it is time to think about redesigning.
The content on your site should be created with two aims in mind: SEO gain and user engagement. Whilst you want to include keywords and longtail phrases specific to your business, you still need to focus on standing out against your competitors.
However, achieving the balance between content that is optimised for SEO performance and content that is written in the right tone of voice can be difficult.
By hiring a professional, you can publish unique content that will attract traffic, engage with visitors and tell the story of your business.
It is important that your site is built to be adaptable. If you're currently using a proprietary platform, move to an open source CMS system such as Magento and enjoy the lack of restrictions and advanced flexibility.
If a user can't find their way around your site easily, they are very likely to leave and seek out one of your competitors. This is known as a high bounce rate. Confusing navigation systems only add extra steps to the customer's buying journey and they can lose sales.
To improve, your website should be:
Address these issues on your website and you'll see a significant difference to your business.
Copyright © 2015 Nick Pinson, director at iWeb Solutions.
With the popularity of online advertising and email as marketing channels, the low cost of delivery has made the allure of e-media powerful. But it’s leaving many marketers asking, is print dead?
We get a staggering amount of digital communication each day, and every message is easily replaced by the next tweet, email or status update.
Print, however, is tangible, high-impact and high-ROI — and it stands out in today’s increasingly cluttered online universe. Direct mail provides a tactile response that stimulates the senses, creating more positive brand associations and making the communication more memorable. And it’s impervious to spam filters.
But it’s not about abandoning one for the other. By merging the digital world with the world of print, the success of both increases.
Print marketing: the secrets of success
In order to get the best return on your investment, your print marketing should contain these three elements:
The companies that are the most successful at integrating print into their marketing mixes are masters at crafting a cohesive campaign across all marketing channels with personal, relevant materials.
In many ways, it’s easier than ever to start up your own business but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand apart from the crowd. But it’s not impossible. Here are four ways to help your business to gain valuable visibility.
Businesses that lose themselves within the crowd are often the ones that don’t have anything to stand for. I’m not saying you need to be prepared to fight crime Batman-style, but do agree on a clear message that you want to communicate and share this with your audience.
People will remember you for your message — just look at Volvo, with its “safety first” message. This is how we remember Volvo; this is what makes the brand stand apart from its competition. If you want a safe car, you know where to turn.
We can’t score the winning goal on our own — we need a team around us to help set it up, block the defence and pass the ball. The same applies to making your business stand out from the crowd; you have to create a trusted dream team — and that includes partners and customers as well as your own staff (if you have them).
Whether you have a marketing team or do that job yourself, you need a fearless brand leader, loyal staff and brand advocates (the customers). These are the people who will set your business apart. This dream team can be difficult to construct but get it right and you will be able to take on the world.
If your company isn’t online yet — it should be! A lot of businesses make the mistake of thinking what they do or sell won’t translate online. They couldn’t be more wrong. It’s time to make what you do or sell visible online because this is where your audience is.
There are many ways to communicate with your target audience online — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr and YouTube. This is where your message needs to be clear — it’s easy to confuse what you’re trying to communicate with the audience and your message can get lost in translation. Don’t spam your audience, choose the most appropriate media, have a clear message and communicate at the right time.
Going digital is perfect for small businesses as it cuts out the advertising middle man, saves thousands of pounds and provides you with greater control of your marketing message.
If you don’t know what the competition is doing, how can you set yourself apart? Take time out to research what those around you are doing; what worked and what didn’t.
If your competitors are doing something you like, think about how you can adapt the idea for your own ends and do it better. Or better yet, take on board everything those around you are doing and do something completely different.
Leah Jarratt is writing on behalf of Salt Recruitment.
It has never been easier for small businesses to market their businesses for little more than their time. But if you are still unsure about social media, content marketing, online advertising and blogging, you are not alone. Many sole traders and small firms are only now starting to take full advantage of the possibilities that digital marketing offers. It’s not too late to start!
Landing pages are focused, customised digital sales pitches, designed to transform your website visitor into a valuable business lead. A good landing page targets a specific audience and allows you to capture a visitor’s information through a lead-capture form.
Social media is big, really big. In fact, it has been predicted that by 2016, Facebook may be the largest country on Earth. And with some 130,000 people signing up for a Twitter account each day, it’s easy to see why businesses are tackling social media head-on. To get started, create profiles on the places where your prospects hang out and start talking.
Content has been the marketing buzzword of the past two years. And alongside content marketing, techniques such as inbound marketing and lifecycle marketing have done away with the older, push marketing techniques and heralded new, more effective pull marketing.
Pull marketing uses intelligent, high quality content to encourage people to visit and seek out your website and products, rather than showering them with endless emails and phone calls.
To really crack online lead generation, you need to distribute lots of content, and not just any old content. Only high quality, fresh and relevant content will do. This is where blogging really comes into its own.
From fashion-forward teens to amateur chefs and even celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, bloggers are taking over the digital landscape. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to benefit from blogging. For good old fashioned B2B lead generation, blogging has become the reliable wingman that can help you gain prominence and boost your reputation in your target market.
Rhian Morgans is an online PR executive for Tomorrow People.
“That’s interesting, tell me more.”
These are the five words that should guide every aspect of your digital marketing strategy.
For each blog page you write, advertisement you place, landing page you produce, all we’re trying to do is garner a simple five word response — “That’s interesting, tell me more”.
Step by step, you’re leading your audience down a path towards purchase or conversation. You light the way through engaging written and visual content.
This is about absolute marketing basics. We’re not talking about content marketing or search marketing strategies, we’re talking about good old fashioned marketing. People respond when they read something that is of interest, an article that leaves them desiring more information.
So why do we miss out on so many opportunities to incentivise a “tell me more” response? And why do so many business websites fail to include strong Call To Actions (CTAs) that resonate with their associated content?
Picture the scene. Your breath is leaving a ring of vapour on the window. Your eyes are squinting as you focus on the carbon fibre dashboard. You can almost smell the leather upholstery as you walk back and forth pondering your next move. The car salesman strides over. Does he ask you if you want to buy this car? No, his years of training and experience guide him with a logical opening line tapping into your obvious interest — “she’s a beauty, isn’t she?”. And so the conversation begins.
You want reassurance that your brain is making the right call. Lo and behold, here’s another person to reassure us that yes, that car really is a beauty. This is simple psychology that we usually fall for pretty quickly.
Each aspect of the car is discussed, we nod along… the interest is well and truly there. Does the salesman now close you? He doesn’t need to, you want to take that test drive. You want to find out more.
Admittedly, few decisions in life trigger desire as much as the purchase of a new car. Whether we’re buying software, a book or a piece of art, somewhere along the line there’s that single trigger (at this stage I highly recommend Roger Dooley‘s book Brainfluence) that takes us from contemplating our next move to making our next move. It’s that “phone a friend” moment. If your audience has built trust in your service, you are that friend.
Take a look at the landing pages you produce or the ad copy you have written. Does it really evoke interest? Does it leave your audience asking to be told more? The art of business storytelling allows you to position the reader in a pre-purchase and post-purchase scenario. You develop personas that are rich with association between the main character and your reader. You tell the story of how your product can impact upon the reader’s own life. Whether it’s as short-term as the relief provided by cold remedies, or, as we all hope, long-term as the assurance that life insurance provides us.
The smart advertiser tells a story.
That story delivers the interest, your sales logic delivers the appropriate “tell me more” statement. Your audience listens, your audience believes, your audience acts.
What are you doing to ensure your own audience responds with “tell me more”?
Display advertising has been a stalwart channel for marketers for some years and with the proliferation of new digital channels, has tended to seem a bit behind the times in terms of technology advancements.
But now display marketing has made the technological leap by targeting customers in real-time and providing them with relevant ads based on their interests. So, why exactly should display marketing still be allocated a proportion of the marketing budget?
1. The online consumer
Marketing spend is increasingly shifting from offline to online as more and more people access content on smartphones, tablets and computers. Display is benefiting greatly from this shift as more and more premium inventory is becoming available as the number of websites and mobile sites multiply. This explains the rapid growth in the market with online display advertising set to make up about two-thirds of the total online advertising market this year.
2. Real-time success
Display marketing seemed behind the times because it was stuck in the manual phase; a phase where you needed several people and multiple parties to display a single banner ad. Now there is the option of automation, saving the marketer’s time and resources, as well as serving ads that are more rewarding for both marketer and consumer.
Programmatic buying has brought automation to the world of display advertising and allows ads to be served to consumers on a real-time basis, automatically serving the most relevant marketing to the most relevant consumer based on their interests. For example, if a woman is looking at jeans on the House of Fraser website, a House of Fraser ad promoting a sale in women’s jeans could be shown on other fashion websites that the woman was browsing on.
This trumps the process that display marketers had been using. True, previous models allowed marketers to target people with ads that they might be interested in but this didn’t always allow for the personal touch. Using the same example, as above, former approaches would ensure a House of Fraser ad was shown to the woman who was looking at the House of Fraser website, but it might show her an ad for a sale on menswear, losing its conversion potential, simply because it didn’t make use of the personal data available.
Programmatic buying is certainly the hot topic of digital marketing right now and with the likes of Google and Facebook making use of the technology, its adoption within the industry is set to soar.
3. Creativity in communication
We’ve established that the ads can be shown to a well-segmented audience but how are they engaging in themselves? Well, display is no longer restricted to the banner formats you see running along your computer screens. It has evolved to encompass interactive elements or rich media including music, slideshows and video across multiple formats such as mobile and tablet. Instead of simple pop-ups, a retail catalogue or a music video can be incorporated into a banner ad, creating much more engaging content for consumers and again, massively increasing click-through rates.
So, where before the creative was restricted to the parameters of a small rectangle at the bottom of the screen, now the web is the display marketer’s oyster, with multiple possibilities for creative content plus a chance to integrate display advertising with other platforms, particularly social media.
Display marketing is now at the forefront of cutting-edge technology that increases consumer engagement and marketers are sure to profit from integrating display into their campaigns. Marketers will find themselves in a win-win situation since the technology has allowed display marketing to become a much more cost-effective, time-efficient and transparent process to both advertiser and publisher, and it can serve more relevant ads to interested consumers — the dream solution for any marketer.
Gustav Mellentin is the CEO of Adform.