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The Catch-22 of Small Business Web Design

Posted Wed, July 16, 2014 by Julie Short

Small businesses often face an interesting marketing dilemma: Customers really like working with them on the one hand, but love the convenience and low prices that big, well-known chains and corporations can offer on the other.

The Internet can balance things out a little bit, but there's no question that the larger players in any industry almost always have a distinct advantage when it comes to marketing themselves. How can you, as a small business owner or manager, take advantage of the fact that the public is on your side and attract new customers in a cost-effective way?

Here are a handful of easy-to-follow web design tips that can help you do just that:

Simplify everything. For all of their great design features and functionalities, buyers don't necessarily love the complexity of big websites. If you can keep your web presence simple and straightforward – showing visitors what you do and why they should work with you – you'll be more likely to get new buyers to give you a try.

Allow for easy ordering and inquiries. The more hoops someone has to jump through to do business with your company, the easier it is for them to decide to just stick with their existing source or vendor (often a bigger business). Make it as easy as possible to open an account, place an order, or contact your company directly if needed.

Provide lots of info. Don't make visitors guess about what they're in for if they place an order with your company. Give them lots of information that tells them what will happen, how much they'll be charged and when, what sort of questions they'll have to answer, and so on. This is another way to reduce the barriers (real or imagined) that could stop someone from working with you.

Give rock-solid guarantees. With offers like a "money-back guarantee," customers have little to risk when it comes to deciding whether or not to give you a try. As a smaller business, you should know exactly how good your products and services are. Advertise that, and then don't be afraid to stand behind what you sell.

Be friendly and personal. Lots of small business owners like to hide the fact that they’re small. While that's sometimes wise, you can sometimes make a better impression by highlighting your personal touch. The most obvious way to do this is by including a little bit of personal or biographical information on your website. When people know and like you, they want to help you succeed – something few people will ever say or feel about a bigger business.

Having a small business might not always seem like an advantage, but it certainly can be. The fact that so many people like to root for the "little guy," especially when it comes to spending their money, is a powerful factor in your favor. Set up your small business website in the right way, and you can tilt the odds of winning new customers into your favor.

Need help with a new website for your business? Contact the team at WebRevelation today by calling 817-283-3324.

Posted in : Websites , Website Content , Tips and Tricks | 
Tags : small business , websites , tips


4 Things to Know Before You Launch an Online Store

Posted Wed, July 9, 2014 by Julie Short

Even the prospect of launching your first e-commerce site can be exciting. There are so many choices and opportunities in front of you, not to mention the possibility of finding a new revenue stream that can continue for years without forcing you to spend long hours at the desk.

There is more to building a profitable online store, though, than simply choosing an e-commerce template and watching the profits roll in. To help you get a sense of what the most successful Internet entrepreneurs know, here are four things to keep in mind before you launch your first (or next) online store:

1. Most products really don’t sell themselves. Occasionally, we meet with would-be entrepreneurs and e-commerce site owners who think they’ve stumbled upon the one product that's virtually guaranteed to go viral and bring them huge profits in a short amount of time. Even if that were possible, it's likely you'd be facing some pretty stiff competition in no time at all. The reality is that it is relatively easy to spread the word about great products and services online, but you still need a strong Internet marketing plan to get the ball rolling.

2. Trust matters. Trust is incredibly important to e-commerce for a couple of reasons. First, if searchers and shoppers don't trust you or your site, they aren't going to enter in their credit card information and complete a purchase. And second, if you don't build trust over time by following through on your promises and guarantees, then no one is going to trust you going forward.

With that in mind, it's important to build trust by putting visible reminders of your business associations, e-commerce verifications, and other credentials on your e-commerce site. Then, make service and transparency a top priority to get the reviews and reputation you need.

3. You’ll have to work to get (and keep) customers. One of the reasons that e-commerce is getting tougher is that search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are more competitive than ever. That means you're going to have to work hard or spend money (and possibly both) to win your first few customers. After that, you'll have to keep them coming for great products, top service, fast shipping, or low prices… and possibly a combination of a few of those factors.

4. E-commerce is all about efficiency. The most successful online stores aren't always the flashiest or most popular. Instead, they are the ones that continually refine their marketing and budgeting approaches, working one percentage at a time, slowly but gradually improving their financial picture. Whether your store is a hit from the day it launches or takes a while to gain momentum, never fall into the trap of being satisfied with what you have.

Make no mistake: You can grow a popular and profitable online store, often in less time than you would think. But, it's going to take a little bit of imagination, a lot of hard work, and the right e-commerce design team on your side.

Posted in : Business Strategy , e-commerce , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : ecommerce , marketing , tips


How to Attract the Best New Talent to Your Company this Hiring Season

Posted Wed, July 2, 2014 by Julie Short

To attract the best employees, you need to capture the attention of this year's most talented college graduates. Job boards and campus recruiting are two great ways to spread information. But to reach the widest pool of job seekers, you also need to maximize the one resource that every company has at its disposal: your company website. A website that is coherently branded, contains solid information, and is easy to navigate gives young job seekers a good first impression and can even predispose them to want to work for you.

Use your website to promote your brand

If producers decided to make a film about your company, what Hollywood actor would play your CEO? What genre would the film be? Would it be a romantic comedy or a period drama? What’s the soundtrack like?

You get the idea. According to talent maximization expert Roberta Matuson, "attraction trumps recruitment time and time again". HBR's poll of 15,000 millennials supports this idea: the number one thing young people look for in a company is "people and culture fit" – much more so than salary.

Related post: Does Your Website Effectively Reflect Your Brand?

Think of your website as projecting your company's identity and telling its story. Images, color, layout and font need to be consistent so that your brand is both recognizable and stays with your viewer. Create personable, engaging profiles of your employees – or, if you’re a larger organization, your leaders – so that the culture and work environment are part of the primary focus.


Make sure the site is easy to navigate

A few years ago, it was popular to construct websites that held their viewers hostage with disabled back buttons and large popup windows. Now these features are understood to be cardinal sins of web design. All features like this do is irritate the viewer, who will simply close the browser and start all over again, making a mental note not to return to your site. Ouch.

Keep distractions to a minimum. You want to construct an appealing website that prospective job seekers not only want to explore but also immediately know how to explore. You can accomplish this goal in the following ways:

  • Make your company information easy to access by adding a professional-looking "contact us" form or button on every page.
  • Streamline the content on your site so that viewers can load it in under four seconds.
  • Include a clear navigation map on your header or footer. Visitors should never have to click at random to find their way around the site.

Don't forget the bells and whistles

We said to streamline, we know – but there are a couple extras that aren’t actually extras at this point. If you’re going to attract young talent to your company, you must have these two things:

  • Mobile-ready design
  • Strong social media presence

Related post: 4 common pitfalls of mobile web design


A report by beyond.com states that 77 percent of job seekers are using mobile apps to locate jobs. Not having a mobile-ready site is almost as big a mistake as not utilizing social media to advertise and promote your company brand. The number one way that millennials learn about great companies to work for is recommendations from friends; and social media is one of the main ways that friends stay in touch. A mobile-optimized site and a solid social media presence will drive the traffic you want straight to your website.

When you’re trying to attract new grads to your company, remember that making yourself visible is half the battle – so use your website wisely, and you’ll be receiving applications in no time.  

 

Posted in : Websites , Business Strategy | 
Tags : attracting , hiring , college , graduates


What to Do When Google Treats You like a Russian Gymnastics Judge

Posted Wed, June 25, 2014 by Julie Short

Most business owners and Internet marketers are already at least somewhat familiar with the concept of the Google AdWords Quality Score. It basically amounts to a numerical evaluation of how relevant and effective your pay-per-click ads are, which in turn affects how often they are shown and the prices you need to pay to maintain a certain ad position.

The basic idea is that, when your Quality Scores are high, Google will allow you to bid very little for a prime advertising position; with low Quality Scores, though, you'll pay through the teeth to even show up for your most important keywords (because your Quality Scores vary from one keyword to the next, the best way to check them is by logging in to your AdWords account).

The net of all of this is that it's impossible to run an efficient and effective paid search campaign with low Quality Scores. Getting clicks and conversions will just cost too much, especially if you want to maintain a high bid position.

So, what can you do when Google's Quality Score evaluation process treats you like a Russian gymnastics judge at the Olympics and marks you with a lower number than you expected?

The first step is to understand where your score actually comes from. Here are a few of the ingredients that are known to be important:

Click-through rate. Google runs ads to make money, but also to help searchers find what they're looking for. Running ads with lots of click-throughs helps them do both, since it's a sign that searchers find the offer to be relevant.

Content on your site. If relevance didn't matter, people would simply choose the keywords and search phrases with the highest traffic and put unrelated ads with them. That would lead to a lower-quality experience for end users, so Google evaluates the content on your site to make sure it matches up with your keywords and ad copy.

How focused your campaigns and groups are. Google likes to see campaigns and ad groups that are tightly focused. If you have too many keywords stuffed together, your Quality Score will suffer.

Account history. Google factors your account history (and even other accounts for the same keyword or search term) into your Quality Score, so it pays to be an excellent advertiser over time.

There are other things that factor in, but these are the most important and easiest to change. So, if you find your Quality Scores are suffering, your best course of action is to first reevaluate your ad groups and keyword combinations, and then start testing new versions of your ads to increase your click-through rates.

The important takeaway here is that bad Quality Scores can be overcome, but it's always going to be easier – and less expensive – the sooner you start.

Need help getting your AdWords account in order? Let the team at WebRevelation help.

 

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM , Website Content | 
Tags : google , quality , scores


Three Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back Time and Time Again

Posted Wed, June 18, 2014 by Julie Short

Getting new customers is great, but unless your business is starting from scratch, keeping your existing ones is more important.

It's not difficult to see why: Repeat customers tend to place the biggest orders and buy the most services, are the ones who refer you to other customers just like them (shortening the sales process at the same time), and cost you the least to market to.

When you can keep them happy, you'll have a stable source of revenue that you can count on from one month to the next. When you can't, you'll always find yourself churning through marketing campaigns and digging around for new business.

So, how do you keep hold of your best customers and make sure they come back time and time again? Obviously, having great products or services, pricing fairly, and being known for customer service are good first steps. Beyond that, here are a few things you can do to tilt the odds in your favor:

1. Know, understand, and anticipate their needs. In most markets and industries, people can turn lots of places to get what they want or need. If you can save them time and energy, though, by understanding their buying motivations and anticipating their needs even before they realize them, you'll be rewarded with lots of repeat business.

2. Show them that working with you is safe. Adding things like online transaction verification, good customer reviews, and a number of different local and industry association memberships is a good way to build trust. And of course, being known for providing five-star customer service helps, too. What you really want is for buyers to know that working with you is as safe as it possibly could be.

3. Use the power of extras and freebies. There are hundreds of ways to reward loyal customers – from birthday cards to coupons and freebies for big purchases – and each of them has value. The idea is to find something that's convenient and meaningful to your buyers and then make sure they get enrolled. Remember, these people are the best friend your business can have, so make sure to treat them appropriately.

As you probably noticed, the most important point about keeping existing customers is simply putting their needs and concerns first. That's a simple idea, but one that's likely to pay dividends again and again.

Looking for creative ways to improve your bottom line with stronger marketing? Contact WebRevelation today and ask for a free consultation.

 

Posted in : Business Strategy , Tips and Tricks | 
Tags : customer , loyalty


Using Social Proof to Convert More Web Visitors Into Leads (or Even Buyers)

Posted Wed, June 11, 2014 by Julie Short

Social proof – a huge topic in the world of Internet marketing – is a technical-sounding term for a very simple concept: Most of us are more likely to do something if we know other people are doing it, too. That's especially true if the "other people" are ones we respect and admire.

In fact, if the perception of social proof is strong enough, we might even feel like we should be doing something that we aren't already. It's a kind of subtle peer pressure we tend to put on ourselves.

The effects of social proof are everywhere. It's the reason we're more likely to try an exotic new food or workout style if we've read about it in a magazine. It's how fads and trends pick up steam, and the reason that advertisers will pay celebrities huge amounts of money to use and endorse their products.

As you've probably guessed already, there are a few things you can do to take advantage of the power of social proof and put it to work on your business website. You don't even have to have celebrity endorsements, just a few selected numbers or statistics shared or posted in strategic places.

Here are a few good examples:

Displaying the statistics for downloads or registrations. No matter how strong your offer is, there's going to be a natural tendency for potential customers to put off taking the next step, even if it's a minor one, because it involves risk. The more they can see that hundreds or thousands of other people have already taken that step, the more comfortable they’re going to be doing it themselves.

Showing how many people have "liked" your content on social media. Most of us like to be associated with winning ideas and points of view. That's why it's easier to take a social post from 1,000 views to 10,000 views, for example, than it is to get the first 100 from nothing. If your content is popular, build on that and make it more popular.

Letting customers give feedback and reviews. This is a powerful form of social proof, so long as your reviews are positive and credible. People don't have to hear from big names or experts if they think they're getting fair and honest opinions from others who are just like them.

In practice, the uses for social proof on your website could be virtually endless. What makes it powerful, though, is the fact that you're showing that other people already know, like, and trust your company… which implies that your prospect should, too.

One word of caution, though: You only want to activate or share these figures after you've already generated some traction. Seeing that "zero people" have downloaded your report, for example, is essentially the opposite of social proof. So, don't put up anything that's going to hurt your marketing efforts.

Looking for innovative ways to get more from all of your online and offline marketing? Contact WebRevelation today and let us show you what we've been able to do for other businesses just like yours.

 

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM , Websites | 
Tags : social , proof , marketing


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