- What is the headache du jour for your industry? I have recently blogged about the hacking of WordPress because trying to outsmart the criminals has become a daily challenge. I might share ideas for nifty CAPTCHA or database backups plugins.
- What questions are your customer’s asking? This is an easy one as barely a day goes by that a customer doesn’t toss a how-to in my direction. Chances are that there are others out there looking for answers to the same question.
- What are people talking about in the industry? Do a quick scan of blogs or newsletters from your industry and find out what the hot topic is. Two weeks ago for me it was Google’s vow to slap those who are not mobile friendly.
- Storytelling about your brand. It’s always fun to share stories that will provoke conversation and build loyalty.
- What are your competitors doing? While you don’t want to mimic them it always helps to keep the creative juices stimulated by following the competition.
- What are the latest industry trends on your business? There is a learning curve in every industry and in order to be an authority in your field you need to keep up with the latest and greatest trends and share them with your audience so they know how savvy you really are.
- Look at industries outside of your own and think about how it is relevant to your line of work. I am always motivated by marketing ideas of other industries. Last week I visited the M&M store in NYC and was fascinated with the various characters that were developed for each color of the chocolate coated candy. You never know where your next big idea will come from.
Google declares Armageddon against those who have failed to comply with mobile standards. As of April 21, any website that is not mobile friendly will fall from grace and be booted down in search rankings. It’s been nearly ten years since the first mobile devices were introduced and alas, static sites are being sent the way of analog television, CD ROM’S and video cassettes.
What is a mobile responsive website?
Simply put, it is a website whose viewpoint changes when displayed on various devices. The images and content are styled in a way that allows it to adjust properly to accommodate different browsers on different devices. Any business who wishes to stay competitive in their local market niche should be certain that they are showing off their right assets.
Plug your URL in to this mobile-friendly page by Google and see if you are meeting the grade.
The header is the face of a website and the most important section as it is the cornerstone of your branding. It typically contains the company logo and tagline which, at the very least, should tell readers who the business is and what they do.
The navigation bar is the map of a website. All the material should be organized and labeled so that visitors can easily and logically navigate to the information that they are looking for without getting lost in their travels.
Compelling readable content with headlines that sell are a must. Brands have a matter of seconds to capture the attention of net surfing guests so it is important to engage them with valuable content.
Statistics show that photos and video are more memorable than content alone. Make the most of the available real estate on your web page and showcase products and services in the best light possible with high quality images and informative video.
Visitors look for signs that a company has a solid reputation and is socially acceptable. Reviews, blog feeds, social media icons, contact information and industry affiliations all help to build trust with potential clients.
Websites have changed drastically since the birth of the first website in 1989. Early websites were nothing more than online storage systems that evolved into online business cards and eventually evolved into an extension of a business. In order to serve as a viable marketing tool today, a website must meet specific criteria. Aside from the obvious factors such as being mobile responsive, user friendly and search engine optimized a business website must also achieve the following five goals:
Tell a Good Story
What makes you different then your competitors and why should a potential customer choose your company? Your website as an extension of your company tasked with achieving the same sales and marketing goals.Tell your story and tell it well.
Educate and Inform
Your content should answer all the questions that a visitor might have about your products and services so that they are able to make an informed purchasing decision.
Flaunt Your Stuff
Put your services and products in the best light possible. Use video’s, great photography and well written content to showcase your goods.
Wow your Audience with an Interactive Experience
Incorporate social media and actively blog. It’s important to leave visitors wanting more so that they will return again.
Reflect your Brand – be Recognizable & Memorable
The theme of your website should be consistent with the overall brand of your company. Stay away from generic out-of-box websites that represent any brand USA. Customization and personalization goes a long way.
Alas, the snow is melting but winter has left an indelible mark on the landscape. It is likely that your company website is a bit stale after its long winter’s nap. Here’s a few tips to freshen things up.
- Perk up the content with new seasonal material. Every has subject matter that is more pertinent at once time of the year than another. Take advantage of seasonal opportunities by freshening content and images so that visitors have something new to engage them when they visit your website.
- Is your SEO working for you? It’s easy to fall behind, see where you stand with Google. Is you competition coming in ahead of you on search pages? Perhaps it’s time to mix up your keyword phrases and page titles so they are more competitive in your local market niche.
- Get Chatty. Don’t be a wallflower on social media platforms – be an engaging conversationalist who adds value to the discussion. Be sure to include social media links on your website and blog posts. It will help you to building trusting relationships with customers.
- Mobile Compatibility. Google is now officially punishing those websites that are not mobile responsive. A review of the analytics of the websites that I manages shows that about 70% of visitors are on desktop computers, 18-20% are on mobile devices and 10% are on tablets. That means that about 30% of visitors are essentially on mobile platforms and that’s a big number to turn away if your website is not compatible with the mobile device.
- Credibility. If old holiday ads are still on your home page it is time to tuck them away for next year. Outdated material, misspellings and bad links are a turn off for visitors and your competitor is only a click away.
Once you’ve completed the spring dusting and cleaning your analytics report should perk up a bit.
Negative reviews and comments are the nemesis of every business owner. However, the most important reason to reply to online comments – whether they are good, bad or ugly – is not to satisfy the author but to influence the other people who are reading the comments. The majority of readers refrain from commenting but they are paying attention to what has been said and how a company responds to customer complaints.
Here are a few rules of thumb when responding to online reviews:
- Be short, sweet and professional: Remember that the best defense is a good offense! Rather than defend your character by blaming the reviewer or making excuses, take a professional approach. Apologize for their unfortunate experience and offer an opportunity to make it up to them. Social media is no place to air dirty laundry keep the conversation to a minimum.
- Make the most of the input: Companies pay big money for consumer research. Pay attention to the information that you collect from customers. It may be difficult to hear the negative comments but it is important to learn from them.
- Be aware of your audience: Remember that there are many people who are reading your responses. This is an opportunity for you to showcase diplomacy, customer service and subsequently build trust with your customer base.
- Pay a Professional: Consider hiring a social media manager or assign a capable person to monitor social media sites and make timely replies that reflect a consistent voice and message.
When I first heard about Instagram, I cringed at the thought of learning yet another social media platform. That is, until I saw the storyboard of my twenty year old son, and then I understood the craze. Instagram is a way to instantly document the special little moments in daily life and share it with your family and friends. Using his phone it was easy for my son to snap a photo of the green eggs and ham waffle sandwich that he had just ordered, the crazies on Venus Beach or the pelican that sat down beside his girlfriend on Huntington pier.
In another time, these memories might have been lost as we didn’t have a camera in our hand 24-7. Thanks to smart phones we can savior the little things in life. Among the other pluses of Instagram:
- The app integrates well with Facebook.
- It has the capability of creating short video clips.
- You can follow your friends and see what they are up to.
- It’s hashtag friendly.
How does it benefit brands?
If a picture is worth a thousand words than Instagram should be the social media vehicle of choice for brands in the apparel, entertainment and food industry who are trying reach those under the age of 35. Instagram users are not just sharing selfies but they are posting photos of food, favorite stores, clothing, jewelry, sporting events and more. It is essentially free advertising. Try it, You’ll like it!
LinkedIn is a great vehicle to increase exposure to your website, content and brand message. I’m referring to blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, white papers and the like that have a business slant. In fact, LinkedIn has a convenient publishing platform that will allow users to either link a feed to your LinkedIn profile or create a post. It is a terrific way to increase your visibility and improve your professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, the information becomes part of their professional profile and is shared with their network. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to share with your connections? Isn’t that what networking is all about?
Most small business who are just getting their feet wet using social media are unable to effectively market themselves on multiple platforms. It is best to embrace a select few and do it well rather than to jump on the social media bandwagon and be left speechless. The three most effective social media tools for small business owners are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While each has a different style these platforms are powerful enough to build a solid social foundation for any business before they expand into other social media outlets such as Pinterest and Vine.
be sure to schedule the time to work on Social Media. Whether it is a block of time once, twice or three times a week it is the most effective way to approach this very necessary task.
The timing of posts is crucial to effective social media marketing. Research shows that just before or after the hours, around meal times and Tuesdays and Thursdays are the prime posting times. There are business specific preferences that should also be considered such as weekend postings for restaurants and bars.
Social media platforms are not an opportunity for brands to talk about themselves. In fact, 85% of the chatter should be about topics that are fun, timely or valuable. Like a good dinner guest, in is impolite to monopolize the conversation talking about oneself.
If a business has gathered the email addresses of customers who are interested in what they have to say that means they have both an audience and an opportunity to turn them into paying customers. But how can those readers be inspired to open the mail and then click through to the website?
How to increase the Email Open rate
Pay attention to the subject line – it should be short but sweet. It is imperative to grab the reader’s attention prompting them to read further.
The ‘from’ name and address should reflect your brand. People hesitate to open the door to strangers.
Be aware of the day of the week and time of the day that you send emails. You will find that results vary and different businesses have success on different days and times.
How to get more Clicks
The ‘Call to Action’ must be clear and compelling. That doesn’t mean that it needs to be flashing and follow the cursor but it should be easy to find and beckon a visitor to click through answering the 5 W’s in information gathering.
If possible have a primary and secondary Call to Action to be sure to cover all your bases.