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Blog posts tagged website content

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Three ways to find out if your website is harming your business

September 08, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Three ways to find out if your website is harming your business{{}}

It’s an easy mistake to make.

You publish your shiny new website. You wait for the orders to flood in. Then… nothing happens.

It can be really frustrating, especially if you’re a new business.

But why is this? Your website looks great. Your friends and family all agree it looks amazing. But that doesn’t seem to cut any ice with the people who really matter — your customers.

So what is the solution? How do you turn things around without breaking the bank?

Your website needs to perform only three tasks

All you need to do is to focus on three basic functions: prospect, convert and grow.

It’s that simple. Let’s examine them in more detail.

Prospect

All we mean here is that you can attract visitors to your website. Sure, you need to put in some effort, but it is not difficult.

I have analysed thousands of websites and I see the same mistakes. Fix these and you are halfway there.

The most common is the wrong choice of keywords. Once you’ve chosen the best keywords for your business, you need to include them in the metatags, in the URLs, in the text links between pages and in the text of your website itself.

Also, set up a blog. The evidence is overwhelming — websites with a blog do better than those that don’t. Why? Google loves content.

Convert

You’re getting a steady stream of visitors. But you’re not there to greet them.

The next best thing? Create trust. Here’s how…

Don’t say “welcome to our website”. Give them a promise. Think of your customer’s biggest need and tell them how you will address it.

But why should they believe your claims? Use customer testimonials to sell for you. If you ask for them you’ll be surprised.

Add live chat to your site and you’ll be amazed. It’s fast, it’s instant and it gets results.

Offer something for free. Remember your promise to solve the biggest need of your customers? Create a report that solves that issue. Offer it in return for their contact details and you can follow up with them. This can be automated very easily.

People rarely make their minds up instantly, but they now see you as an expert and you are pushing at an open door.

Grow

Now you either have a customer or someone who is on your emailing list. Now you can build that relationship with them.

Remember your blog? This is where you can develop that long-term relationship with them. Keep them up-to-date with developments by email and regular correspondence and you will reap the rewards.

And finally…

Many people get disillusioned with online marketing but it is a vital part of being in business these days. The important point is to think about the purpose of your website and just repeat these three words to stay on track: Prospect, convert, grow.

Copyright © 2014 Tony Messer, founder of www.pickaweb.co.uk and author of The Lazy Website Syndrome.

How to pack a punch with your online content

May 08, 2014 by Sharon Tanton

How to pack a punch with your online content/ Box training and punching bag{{}}It’s good to be able to vary your copy style — different styles for different tasks.

Deep level service pages or white papers, for example, are a place where people will be looking for detail, and will expect to find copy that lays out your process or explains the nitty gritty of how your products work.

Your home page and blogs, however, are a different matter. Here you’re after copy that grabs people quickly, and packs a real punch.

So how do you do that?

Address the reader

The quickest way to pack a punch with your copy is to address the reader directly. Putting “you” into whatever you’re writing is your short circuit to making a connection. How do you feel about that? More connected, I’ll bet than if I had written how does the person reading this feel about that?

Direct from me to you is the shortest way to hit home fast. Imagine your ideal reader, and forget about everything else, just write it to them.

Vary sentence length

Short sentences are another way to keep people moving so quickly through the copy in a way that doesn’t feel like a long hard read. Keep sentences short. That way people won’t drift off. They’ll stick with you.

Of course not every sentence needs to be super short. You want to pack a punch, not make the reader feel under fire. So vary the sentence length sometimes, so it feels conversational, but not like gunfire.

Get active

Active verbs make writing punchier. Seeing, running, jumping are all pacier than saw, ran or jumped. Similarly cutting out unnecessary “wills” and “cans” make your writing more direct.  So don’t say, we can deliver solutions. Say, we deliver solutions. (Except avoid the word solutions at all costs. Find some real words that describe things people can picture instead).

Add colour

Metaphors and analogies can help pack power into your writing. I could tell you that last night in an Aberdeen hotel surprised me, because there seemed to be no women anywhere, except those working as waitresses, and that all the men seemed to be sizing each other up, and you might get the picture. If I told you it was like the Wild West, you’d get a quicker and sharper image of the place, and that picture will stay with you for longer. Metaphors add colour and vision to whatever you’re writing.

Knock them out!

To summarise, the key to writing copy that packs a punch is to make it resonate with the reader. Put them at the heart of whatever you’re writing, keep the writing pacey and colourful, and get creative with your comparisons. It will knock them out!

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, creative director at Valuable Content and co-author, with Sonja Jefferson, of Valuable Content Marketing.

Want a brilliant website? Ten things you need to consider

March 13, 2014 by Sonja Jefferson

Want a brilliant website? Ten things you need to consider/WWW written in search bar{{}}If you get your website right you will win more business — that’s the reality of promoting and selling pretty much anything today.

That’s all well and good I hear you say, but exactly how do you go about creating the right website — one that really works for your business?

Having worked on over one hundred web projects for service firms in the past few years, here are the top ten things we’ve learned. I hope they give you some ideas if, like us, you are redoing your own site in the coming year.

1. Think content first — before you get the designers in

If you want a successful website, you’ll need put as much time and effort into planning it as your designer spends on building it. Great design has never mattered more but don’t launch straight into it.

2. Choose a web designer with an active social media presence

By hiring a web designer or developer with a strong digital presence — someone who creates great content for their own business — you can be sure that they understand how to get your site right.

3. Involve your clients in the development

If you want to create a site that really engages prospective clients look at what you do from the outside in. See your business through their eyes by asking your clients for feedback. 

4. Give your website a strong story

Your story is a golden thread that runs through all your content and illuminates what you do. Get this right and the rest of the content will flow. Hiut Denim’s website, the super-strong message from Finisterre and B2B firm Desynit are all great examples.

5. Create a valuable online resource for visitors.

Good websites are also packed with helpful and inspiring content. In fact, when it comes to the helpful stuff vs. sales information, try following the 80/20 rule of content.

6. Provide content for every step of the sale

Effective websites equip the visitor with the information they need at every step of the sales process — from browsing and researching to just about to buy. Think through what your buyers need throughout the journey to becoming a loyal client.

7.Remember — relevance is all

It’s neat to be niche when it comes to the web. Whether you focus on one or many niches, the trick is to serve up relevant content that meets the needs of each sector.

8. A working website doesn’t stand alone

Your website is plugged into a much wider lead generation and lead nurturing system. It’s linked to the social web, to your growing email subscriber list, to your contact database, to smart analytics. Marketing automation is becoming more important — it can improve the visitor’s experience, help you power and manage relationships and measure the results.

9. Mobile matters

If you’re creating a new website, make sure its design is responsive, so that it is easily viewable and useable on any device. With the rise of mobile the power of visual content has never been greater so don’t forget to include video content.

10. The work doesn’t stop once you’ve launched your website

A website is a platform to build on, not an end in itself. Be clear on your content strategy, create a publishing plan for the months ahead and keep adding and sharing great content if you want to get found and loved. It takes time to build up that head of steam when it comes to driving leads from the web but hold firm. If you follow these tips and continue to add value, results will come.

Sonja Jefferson is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and content marketing consultant at Valuable Content. Sonja is co-author, with Sharon Tanton, of Valuable Content Marketing.

Are you embarrassed by your website?

January 15, 2014 by Sharon Tanton

Are you embarrassed by your website?/vintage typewriter{{}}The business case for having a good website packed with valuable content is very strong. Many people now realise that 60% of a sale happens before clients get in touch (or don’t — as the case may be). Your website plays an increasingly important part in the path to new business.

But it’s often sheer embarrassment that finally flicks the switch between “we really must get round to doing something about our website” to “we need to do it NOW”.

Worse than driving away potential leads (who we’ll never meet and can therefore ignore), a poor website makes it difficult to look our best amongst people we respect and want to do business with.

Having an embarrassing website is like having a really messy house. You just don’t want to bring people back there. Ring any bells?

Here are six signs that you’re embarrassed by your website:

  1. Like the spooky house on the corner, no one’s touched your website in years. It’s creaking at the seams. You daren’t even look in some places. It feels like it’s covered in cobwebs. If you dig too deep a skeleton will fall out of a cupboard or a bat will fly in your face.
  2. It’s like a ghost ship. Your website is haunted by the ghosts of people who left the company months ago, and the spectre of ideas you’ve moved on from. You’d change it if you could, only changing anything is so difficult, so you just avoid sending people to it.
  3. There’s no room at the inn. Look, you’d like to add some new content, but where’s it going to go? Your website isn’t a house, it’s a tiny caravan, and there’s no space for anything else. It’s just not up to the job.
  4. You’ve lost the plot. There are so many words but no one understands what you’re saying. Your website just doesn’t make it clear what you do. (In fact, you’re so mired in the wrong words that you’re finding it hard to explain it too).
  5. Your website looks like it was decorated by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen c.1993. Web fashions change. If too much frippery detracts from your message or the design gets in the way it just feels wrong. If your website fees like a rag rolling disaster, or a gold spray painted cherub fiasco, you’ll want people to stay well away.
  6. It has childhood bedroom syndrome. Your business is growing. You’ve changed. You’re clear what you offer, and how you help your clients but your website hasn’t caught up. Taking people back to the website is like trying to have a serious business conversation in a room decorated in Noddy wallpaper. You’ll do anything to avoid it.

If this sounds like your website, then it’s time to take action.

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, creative director at Valuable Content and co-author, with Sonja Jefferson, of Valuable Content Marketing.

The power of web content to boost your business

December 20, 2012 by Oliver Inwards

The power of web content to boost your business/web tree graphic{{}}This year, Google has made significant changes to its search engine algorithm, most notably their “Panda” update which devalues sites with poor quality content.

Poor quality content can be anything from plagiarised or duplicate content to text littered with SEO keywords clearly designed to manipulate the search rankings.

Small businesses which have website content that is not up to scratch will find themselves plummeting down the rankings, losing both vital traffic and potential business. So how do you create content for your website that’s inspiring, compelling and, most importantly, genuinely useful to your customers?

Identify personas

The best place to start is by identifying and researching the behaviours of all of the different types of people that use your services. We’re an airport parking specialist, so we understood that families going on holiday regularly book with us. That’s a good starting point but the trick is to delve deeper.

We looked at what issues families may face when travelling to the airport. For example, they tend to be carrying a lot of luggage plus buggies and their children and, as a result, can take longer to get to the airport than most people. Therefore the start of their holiday is often a stressful time. How could we help them further when they book with us?

Providing a solution

If you’ve identified all of the different types of people that may use your services then the next step is to delve into online forums and social communities relevant to your customers to find the kind of questions that they are asking. These questions can be used to generate ideas for content.

Continuing the families’ example, we looked into various parent forums online and saw that they were asking questions such as “what are the regulations with taking food and drink through security?” So we created in-depth content to answer these questions including a guide to Heathrow security and a family travel guide looking at packing, researching and booking a holiday, getting to the airport and what to do at the airport.

Extending your reach

So you understand your customers and have created content to answer their questions — now you need to consider how you’re going to spread the word far and wide to let more people know that your content actually exists.

Create a detailed seeding plan looking at relevant sites to approach with your content and consider writing and distributing a press release to send out via online newswires to help spread the word.

Time well spent

All of this may seem time consuming, and it is! However, if done properly, your efforts will be well worth it. Off the back of our new and improved content we’ve seen big increases in traffic to our website, better conversion results and increased overall revenue. Content is most certainly king.

Oliver Inwards is e-commerce manager at Purple Parking.

We have lots of great blogs and articles about creating website content to help and inspire you:

Why content is king in today’s marketing

How to promote your business by writing a killer case study

Keep your sentences short — and other secrets of good writing

Q&A: Is your blog up to the job?

50 shades of content

Writing for websites

July 07, 2011 by Sharon Tanton

Writing for websites - fingers typing on keyboard

A funny thing comes over some businesses when they start putting together their web copy. Rather like having a posh “telephone voice”, they write about themselves in an artificially “proper” way.

Instead of saying, “we run coaching workshops for new businesses”, they’ll write “we facilitate training sessions to leverage success for business.’”  It’s a bit like having Hyacinth Bouquet answering your office phone. More than a little off-putting.

When I’m writing web copy, I imagine I’m telling someone in the same room. My tone is conversational. I use the same words to explain something that I’d use if you were sitting next to me. Good web copy makes a connection with its reader. Lacing your sentences with unnecessarily long words puts your readers at a distance, and that’s not where you want them.

Sometimes I think it’s a confidence thing. People don’t feel they’ll be taken seriously if they talk in everyday language. Big words are good for hiding behind. My advice would be to take a deep breath, and just tell it how it is.

Top five web writing tips

1.  Be clear. Say it out loud before you write it down.

2.  Use short sentences. They’re easier to understand.

3.  Keep technical language to a minimum. Of course some pages demand it — especially if your offer is a technical one. But your Home page and About Us copy should certainly be straightforward.

4.  Be accurate. A conversational tone doesn’t mean you can forget your grammar. Good grammar ensures your writing makes sense.

5.  Get to the point. There’s no room for rambling digressions in web copy. Users want information fast, so cut anything superfluous and give important stuff room to breathe.

 

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant and a Valuable Content associate.

 

Read more on writing copy for your website:

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