Why You Need to Upgrade Your Web Design Now

Web design is an important part of your customer’s experience.  You might view your website as a secondary component of your business, but it is not. For many, it is the first impression they will have of your business. This is why the design of your site is so important. In order to make sure that first impression is what it should be, your site needs to be designed in a visually appealing manner.

The goal of web design, whether you are a B2B or B2C company, is to increase the number of leads you get. And for your website to truly be a success, you need those leads to translate into conversions – for the people who visit your site to become paying customers.

What are some of the things you should consider about web design in order to achieve success?

Aesthetics and Perception

You have less than a second to make a good first impression when someone visits your site and design is going to play a major role in this. You need to have compelling visuals, professional photographs, and a sleek, clean overall layout.

It is also important for your site design to communicate what your company is about. If you prefer to be perceived as homespun and cozy, your site should reflect this. If you have a modern, sleek business, then your site design needs to reflect that.

Another important component of your sites aesthetics is the typography. Words needs to be clear and you need to get your point across quickly with your text. Your message should be strong and meaningful, and obvious to visitors.

Navigating Your Site

Your site’s navigation might not be the first thing your visitors notice, but it is certainly among the first. And if it is bad it will be enough to drive them away.

Think about the leads you want to convert in your business and create funnels that appeal to these people. Funnels are essentially the process you push people through to act. Those who make it to the bottom of your funnel are the most knowledgeable about your industry and the most likely to become paying customers.

Conversions 

Finally, look for conversion opportunities on your site. At what point are visitors most likely to act. You want to capitalize on these areas when people are at the point where they decide whether or not to follow through on contacting you or making a purchase.

Want more tips for making the most of your website design? Give us a call!

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Want to Improve Your Customer’s Experience? Try These Tricks!

The better the experience you give to your customers the more likely they are to return to you for future business and let their friends know about you, too.

Unfortunately, most business tend to embrace transactional relationships instead of ones that are experiential. They offer a basic service or product in return for financial compensation, and give the customer very little in terms of a memorable experience. This makes it difficult to build customer relationships and a loyal following. Basically, you view your customers as replaceable and they view you the same way.

On the other hand, businesses that have managed to get it right – those that give customers an experience – are in a completely different category. They have loyal customers that return to them again and again. Their customers trust them and feel good shopping with them. As a matter of fact, that feeling is in part what the customer is buying – and they’re often willing to pay a lot more for it.

What’s the key to providing an experience, as opposed to just completing a transaction?

First off, you need to know your ideal audience. What is it they expect and how can you go above those expectations? What are some of the best ways you can improve the customer experience?

Rewards Programs are So Yesterday

There was a time when having a rewards program – sometimes even called a loyalty program – was the trend in bringing customers back. Those days are over. Customers are no longer impressed by this and many are irritated and going out of their way to avoid your business because you have a loyalty program.

Instead of loyalty points, consider experiences to reward customers. For instance, invite your customers in for a special service or event. And consider ways to make it fun, so customers will share their experience on social media and let everyone know about it.

Offer the Support Customers Need

What is one thing your customers want that you have been reluctant to do? Is it allowing them to use modern conveniences, like ordering on your website or paying via mobile payment? Now is the time to opt into these programs, no matter how intimidating they might seem. Your customers will love having options and you will give them what it is they want, not what you are guessing they want.

Be as Transparent as Possible

Never try to hide your mistakes or gloss over something that went wrong. The more you try to pretend something is not wrong the worse it will be, especially in this day and age of social media. Instead, confront the problem out in the open and fix it.

Want more tips for improving the customer experience? Give us a call!

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Negative Comments? Here’s Three Things You Can Do to Make It Better

It is what every business owner dreads and the reason why many avoid joining review sites: negative feedback. It is a fact of life and if handled properly, can actually turn into an opportunity for your business to shine.

Social media can be a hotbed of negativity and you do not want that bringing your business down. The good news is there are ways to manage any negative feedback you get in a productive manner and make the most of this chance to show the world you are a pro.

Here are a few tips:

Use Your Manners and Try to Help

As tempting as it is to rail back at someone attacking your business, take a deep breath and pretend our grandmother is listening to every word you say. (Unless your grandmother was a hot head!)

Remember, everything you say in response to the nasty comment directed at you is public and is a reflection of your business. If the comment is about a legitimate concern, find a way to resolve the issue. If the reviewer is just being nasty, you can still try to help. If you cannot fix something, just be nice. It might be appropriate to ask that the reviewer contact you directly, in which case you will need to provide a means to do so.

Do not Ignore Negative Feedback

The worst thing you can do is ignore comments about your business, good or bad. Make sure you respond to every comment and take action when necessary. Hopefully, the issue can be resolved then and there in the comments, but this is not always the case. Regardless of the matter, make sure you are actively engaging with the people taking time to review your business, even if their review is less-than-glowing.

No Sneaking Around!

Again, it might be tempting to avoid confrontation by deleting or hiding negative comments, but this ultimately gets you nowhere. Everyone knows everything said about your business is not going to be positive. As a matter of fact, people are waiting to see how you deal with negative feedback. Do not let them down!

Granted, you are going to be forced to deal with trolls – it is part of the online universe. But even these occasions can be great for helping your business shine.

Leave negative comments in place in your reviews and demonstrate how you solve problems. It is going to help you in the long run.

Want more tips for dealing with reviews and negative comments? Give us a call!

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Think You Can’t Manage SEO on a Budget? Here’s How!

Nobody wants to overpay for SEO, but cutting too many corners to protect your budget could result in a failed strategy.  Essentially, you will be wasting a small amount of money instead investing a greater amount into something that works.

The good news is it is possible to save on SEO, but not create a budget so lean you will regret it.  Here is what you should know:

How Cheap SEO Damages Your Brand

First, you need to understand the value of quality SEO and why it is worth paying for.  Using SEO strategies that are cheap can hurt your brand in a variety of ways.  It can result in poor content that not only does not help you in your rankings, but also makes you look bad as a business.  You will get more value from a $200 blog post or article for your site than one that costs only $10.  Like most things, paying less gets you less and that will only hurt you in the long run.

Taking the cheap route for SEO can also damage you in other ways and get you into trouble.  A lot of the cheap SEO providers use “black hat” techniques that might appear to work very well at first, but will actually get you penalized by Google in the long run.  At one time these methods worked, but these days they are not worth a dime.

Finding Quality SEO Providers

Now that you know why you are shopping for quality SEO, here are a few things to consider that can help you still get a good deal on what you need:

Trust Your Instincts

There is nothing wrong with shopping around for the best value, just make sure you do not fall for a gimmick.  If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

In addition to going with your gut, it is also important to do your research.  Consider the history, knowledge, and experience of an SEO provider.  Ask to see case studies of past client success.  Look up reviews and evaluate the communication process during the preliminary stages of your relationship.  If it is tough to get someone on the phone before you sign a contract, it is only going to get tougher once they have your money.

SEO is a necessary part of your online marketing strategy, but it does not need to break your budget.  It is possible to find a blend of quality SEO for an affordable price, and get the best value possible for your investment.

If you would like to know more or you are ready to discuss your SEO needs, give us a call!

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Web Design Seem Like a Foreign Language? Here’s What Business Owners Need to Know

Chances are you have heard the advice before as a business owner: “Don’t build your own website.  It will be a disaster.”

It is true.  You should not leave professional work to non-professionals.  However, you also should not walk away from the process completely and turn all control over to someone else.  As a business owner there are a few important things you need to know about web design.  These things include many of the basic principles that go into designing a valuable site for your business.  Check these out:

User-Friendly

Having a user-friendly site is one of the most important aspects of design.  You do not need to know how to code a user-friendly site, but you should know the basic things that make a site user-friendly.  For instance, your site should be easy to navigate, intuitive, and provide a quality user experience.  Think about what you like and dislike when you go to any website.  Is it cluttered, confusing, or difficult to navigate? It’s not user-friendly.

Speaking of navigation, your site needs easy menu navigation that ensures visitors are able to find what they need.  Make sure links or sidebars are included on every page so people can move from one piece of information to the next without endlessly searching.  Do not overdo it with links to other pages, but be sure to include easy access to the most important and informative page on the site.

Other factors that go into ensuring your site is user-friendly include:

Layout

Layout controls the user experience.  You want your design to be uncluttered and not make a visitor feel overwhelmed.  Each element of a page should have the space it needs to breathe and communicate the right message.

Color

Color trends vary from moment to moment, so do not get too caught up in them.  A simple design accented with your brand’s colors is the best option for most businesses.  Let your brand identify guide your color choices on your site.

Also consider whether color affects the navigation or use of your site at all.  For instance, your brand colors might be pale pink and white, but if you try to create a site with pale pink font on a white background you aren’t going to make anyone happy.  Invest time in finding the best ways to incorporate your brand colors into your design.

Content

Finally, understand your content needs.  Content is the most important component of your site and should be treated as such.  It is what allows your customers to learn the details of your business.

For more information on what you need to understand about design, give us a call!

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Minimalism in Social Media: Latest Trend or the Way to Go?

“Less is more,” as the saying goes and it is as true for social media as it is for other things.  To really make the most of the opportunity social media provides for your business, it is best to scale back and take a minimalist approach.  How do you go about doing that without destroying anything valuable that you already have in place?

Start by understanding why minimizing your social media can help you in the long run.  It makes it easier to prioritize and stay organized – which are both essential for staying on top of a successful social media marketing strategy.  It also ensures your time is easily managed and you are not throwing resources into the wind.

Ready to take a minimalism approach to social media? Here is how you can get started:

Conduct an Audit

It is time to figure out what your rate of engagement is on each platform and move forward accordingly.  In addition to engagement, also look at what is actually converting to business.  You might have a lot of people talking to you on Twitter, but only few users clicking through from Facebook ever buy from you.  It’s up to you to decide which of these two audiences are more valuable.

Slow Down

The rush to be a first adopter on every social media platform has died down and now it is time to get strategic.

Take a deep breath.  Social media can be an important part of your business, but it is not make or break.  It is a long-game that works best when you make strategic decisions.

Tune Out the “Experts” (to Some Degree…)

Stop listening to the hype and figure out what really works for your business.  You do not need to be everywhere, just on the platforms that make the most sense for you.  And maybe just on a platform – that is right, a single, solitary social media platform that ensures you are engaging with the people you want to be part of your community.  It might sound drastic, but for many businesses, it’s the right approach.

So is minimalism the wave of the future? And if minimalism is about not listening to trends and just focusing on what works for you, shouldn’t you avoid the trend of minimalism?

The truth is you need to do what works for your business, and for many, that has been taking a more minimal controlled approach to social media.

If you would like help sorting it all out or establishing a social media strategy that is customized to your brand, give us a call!

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Five of the Most Important Things You Can Do to Improve Social Media Marketing

Most business owners know social media is an essential part of their success, but they are not sure where to go from there.  And unfortunately, far too many head in the wrong direction.  If you want to incorporate social media into your online marketing strategy, here are five tips for doing it the right way:

  1. Invest in Learning

Before you make another post, invest some time and effort (and possibly money) into learning how social media works.  There is a lot of free content and tips online, and several paid courses can be invaluable when it comes to helping you plan a social media marketing strategy.

  1. Pay Attention

Social media has given brands a way to speak to their audience, but more importantly, it is also a way to listen.  Unfortunately, many business owners fail to take advantage of this second part.  They are so busy talking they do not bother listening.

Your audience is going to have the most to say on social media.  Few people will bother calling or writing directly to you if there is a problem, but they will have no trouble telling the world about it on social media.  The secret to growing a trusted brand is to show you are listening and willing to respond when there is a problem – and when there is no problem and a customer is happy, too!

  1. Engage with Your Audience

Though you should respond when you receive criticism or feedback, it should not be the only time you respond to your audience.  If you notice a conversation on social media that is relevant to your industry, use it as an opportunity to engage members of the community.  There is no need to be controversial – unless it is in line with your brand – but social media provides an opportunity for you to engage with and have actual conversations with your customers on a large scale.

  1. Keep Your Social Media Strategy Controllable

It’s tempting to hop on every social media platform out there, but that is going to do you no good.  Focus on just one, two, or three that is well-suited to your target audience.  Where do your ideal customers hang out? There is a different crowd on Instagram than on Facebook than on LinkedIn, and so on.  Find your people and focus on being a part of that community.

  1. Track Everything

Social media is fun, but it is also a business tool and one that needs to be monitored.  Make sure you are tracking everything about your social media marketing so you understand what is worth your time and money.

Want to know more? Give us a call!

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Google’s Trusted Stores Replaced with Verified Customer Reviews

Google has retired the Trusted Stores program and replaced it with Verified Customer Reviews.  The difference between these reviews and Google’s regular review system is that Customer Reviews are from people who are guaranteed to have made an online purchase from the business.  It is possible to leave Google Reviews for any business and by anyone, even if he or she was never legitimately a customer.

It is also possible for businesses participating in Verified Customers Reviews to request a badge from Google and opt-in their sites.  It is free, it just requires a business to have a Merchant Center account that includes a sign-up process.  The program will be used to help create a seller rating for your Merchant Center account that are shown on Google Shopping, AdWords text ads, and your own site.  If you believe Google, adding your seller rating to your text ads can up click-through rate by as much as 10 percent.

Below is a step-by-step guide for enabling Google Customer Reviews:

  1. Sign in to your Merchant Center account (or sign up if you do not have an account).
  2. Select “Merchant Center programs” from the drop down in the upper right-hand corner.
  3. Click “Get Started” in the Google Customer Reviews card and accept the Program Agreement.
  4. Add the survey opt-in code to your website.

Once you  have taken care of this process, the badge code can be added to your site for all to see.  It will show your seller rating and indicate that your store is a part of the Google Customer Reviews program.

Joining this program can help you build trust with potential clients and improve your rankings.  Obviously, customers know how powerful Google is in the world of online marketing and if they are giving you a good review, customers will notice.  Google is also happy when businesses participate in their programs and reward them accordingly.  This is a great way to get a boost in SEO results without investing too much time trying to figure out the “who, what, when, where, and how” of the latest algorithm.

Keep in mind, like all review programs, you need to feel confident in your services and products to also feel good about participating.  Simply being a part of a review program is not enough because you need to get good reviews.  As a matter of fact, the key to using this program successfully is making sure those verified customers are happy with what you have done for them so they give you quality reviews.

If you would like assistance or you want to know more about how Google’s Verified Customer Reviews can help you, give us a call!

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PPC and Your Small Business: What You Should Know

PPC (pay per click) marketing is something that confuses many business owners.  Those who are unfamiliar might even think it’s a scam, but it is in fact a great marketing tool small business owners can use to drive tremendous volumes of traffic to their sites.

What do you need to know if you want to incorporate PPC into your marketing strategy?

Tighten Ad Groups

Like many marketing strategies, your ad groups in PPC need to be focused.  You can target several keywords within a single ad group, but you need to make sure they are all similar.  When you fail to do this and you choose broad word, you will have a difficult time creating an ad that’s capable of targeting all of the search terms.  This results in lower click-through rates (CTR), in and of itself bad, but especially negative when you are paying per click.

Keep CTR High

A low CTR means less traffic but more expensive.  Google and the other search engines you use want to make money off of the service they are providing for your business, so the more click-through you get the better – for them and for you.  When your rate is low, they show competitor ads instead, or charge you higher rates, so make sure you are giving the search engines what they want.

Monitor Your Quality Score

Adwords programs offer a quality score for the campaigns you run.  It is a scale that provides a number from one to ten, and helps you make decisions about your campaigns.  When you get a score lower than five, it means you need improvements in your ads and landing page to make them more relevant to one another.

How Do You Know PPC is Right for You?

There are so many online marketing opportunities out there, it can be tough to tell which one is right for you.  And since PPC tends to be viewed as technical or detailed, many business owners bypass it in favor of simpler methods.  Unfortunately, if you are the type of business that would benefit from PPC, this is a mistake.

How can you tell PPC might work? Campaigns tend to work for business that offer higher customers lifetime value, such as doctors, subscription services, or utility providers.  They are also effective for businesses with high profit margins or that sell niche products.  If you own a business that fits into any of these categories, you should try PPC and see how it works for you.

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Online Reviews: The Importance of Having a Management Strategy in Place

Online reviews are one of the most important factors affecting your business.  There are currently more than 115 million reviews on Yelp, making it one of the most powerful marketing sites on the internet.  Yelp is a valuable consumer tool, but unfortunately for business owners the news is not all good.  Bad reviews are a make-or-break issue and if you have established a plan for managing your online reviews, you’re already in trouble – even if you don’t have a single negative review.

As a business owner, you need to know where to find your reviews, how to manage them, and how to make them work for your business.  Here are a few things you need to know about online reviews:

Anyone Can Write Anything They Want About Your Business and You Do not Get to Approve It

Now, this is not to say people can randomly slander your business.  Review sites do make an effort to keep reviews credible, and most readers can tell if a reviewer is giving honest feedback or just has an ax to grind.  However, if a customer had a negative experience with your business and likes to writer online reviews, you can bet that negativity is going to be posted, even if their version of things might not be the same as yours.

Furthermore, unofficial and unclaimed review pages are also an issue.  Your business can make it onto these reviews sites without you ever setting up a page.  This is because customers can “check in” even if you are not officially registered.  It’s also possible for people to write reviews about these unclaimed pages, which means people could be saying negative or positive things about your business and you’ll have no idea.

Online Reviews Can Help You

As scary as it is to receive a negative review, it is even more frightening to be receiving positive reviews and not putting them to good use.  Your positive reviews can help your Google ranking and can improve your reputation with customers.  You need to be aware of your reviews and making the most of the opportunities they provide.  Google offers something called “rich snippet reviews” which is illustrated with their star rating system.  Google validates these reviews, so they carry greater impact and are considered more credible than random reviews.  If you haven’t thus far, check your star rating with Google.

Online Reviews are Part of Your Brand

Online reviews are powerful and affect your brand – something you absolutely need to be in control of.  According to a recent survey from BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 74 percent say positive reviews help them trust a brand.

Reviews can help you grow your business and make the most of what other people have to say about you.

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