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Are Bad Business Processes Hampering Your Organization’s Growth? Part 1

Posted Thu, September 14, 2017 by Julie Short

Processes are supposed to make things work more efficiently. But there’s a downside to doing things the same way every time. If you’re doing it wrong, that process is ensuring you’re doing things wrong on a large scale and for a long time. And if you don’t have a good handle on what your processes are and how they work, you might not even realize there’s an issue. This is not an uncommon problem. According to the 2015 BPT Survey Report, 50% of businesses participating in the survey admitted that they only “occasionally” document their processes or keep them up to date. It’s no surprise that businesses that fail to document, adapt, and improve their processes often fall short of their growth objectives.

What’s the Impact of Poor Processes?

Bad business processes can hurt your organization by:
  • Contributing to errors or inaccuracies that require time and money to correct
  • Delaying the completion of downstream tasks due to bottlenecks
  • Taking up valuable labor hours with redundant activities
  • Hindering the timely completion of projects
  • Creating “blind spots” in your ability to monitor and improve quality
  • Increasing customer dissatisfaction
  • Preventing your organization from implementing best practices and new technologies

Time Can Turn a Good Process Bad

No company is perfect, and every organization has some flawed processes, but where did these poorly-designed and inefficient procedures come from? Sometimes, a process is flawed from the start because it was thrown together in a hurry without a lot of thought. Even more often, a process made sense at the time, but simply didn’t scale as the business grew or the marketplace changed. The bad news is, the longer a bad process has been in place, the more challenging it can be to change it. The good news is, it’s never too late for a positive transformation. First, you need to identify processes that are ripe for a makeover.

When Should You Suspect a Process Needs to Be Overhauled?

There are a number of warning signs that a process might need an in-depth review.

1. A process is informal (not written down) or it is difficult to teach to new staff members. A well-designed process should make logical sense and not require intuition or years of on-the-job experience to perform correctly. (BPM Leader offers insights into creating good process documentation here).

2. An issue is mentioned often in complaints, either directly or in online reviews. For example, customers might make negative comments about the way invoicing, service requests, product shipping time, or returns and refunds are handled.

3. Everyone in your company tries to avoid being responsible for a particular task, a common sign that it is tedious and redundant. Smart employees also avoid being associated with flawed processes because whoever is put in charge of those process-related tasks ends up in trouble for making mistakes or falling behind schedule.

4. There is a frequently performed task that has no associated KPIs or there is no way to track whether the process is resulting in the desired outcome. In some cases, there are processes that are necessary even though they don’t directly improve the bottom line. This is commonly the case with administrative and compliance-related processes. It’s even more imperative to make these processes more efficient, since they will always be a resource drain and a liability.

5. Employees complain that they can’t do their jobs well because of frequent miscommunication or delays in getting what they need. For example, if communication for a large-scale project is done via email, this can lead to confusion with constant back and forth and email threads that are incredibly lengthy. Too much time is being spent searching for the relevant information rather than performing work.

What Can You Do to Improve Processes?

Just from reading this far, you probably already have a few processes come to mind that need to be addressed. In the next article in this series, we’ll explore the steps for improving a process. We’ll also look at the role of automation and technology in making your business processes work better.

Do you have a business process you want to start improving right now? Contact Web Revelation for more insights.
Posted in : Business Strategy , Blogging | 
Tags : Business ,

How Inbound Marketing Affects Your Website Performance

Posted Thu, August 31, 2017 by Julie Short

How well is your website performing in terms of bringing in new leads, boosting sales, and helping your business grow? If it’s not having as much of an impact as you would like, it’s time to look at your inbound marketing. Making improvements in this area can have a dramatic effect on how well your website serves your business needs.

What Is Inbound Marketing?
It’s easiest to define inbound marketing by contrasting it with outbound marketing. Let’s say you want to get an up-close look at some birds. If you go hunting for birds with a shotgun, that’s outbound marketing. It’s a scattershot approach and may scare off far more birds than it takes down. Inbound marketing is like putting a bird feeder in your front yard and letting the birds come to you. Cold calling, email blasts, and paid ads are all examples of outbound marketing while blogging, social media engagement, and content marketing in general are inbound. Let’s look at what happens with your website when inbound marketing is on target.

Benefit #1: More Inbound Traffic from Organic Searches
Inbound marketing and SEO are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, they can and should work hand in hand. Whether you are publishing blog posts, podcasts, infographics, white papers, or videos on your site, some of the most effective inbound marketing content is designed around targeted keywords. Prospective buyers may feel like they have stumbled across this content by accident while searching for an answer to a specific question or problem. However, behind the scenes this content has been carefully optimized to rank well for your target audience. For example, a consulting company in the workplace safety and health sector might post an informational report with the keyword “cost of forklift accidents”. It’s a safe bet that some of the people searching for info on this topic are doing so because their company has experienced a recent safety incident—and these readers would make excellent prospects.

Benefit #2: Higher Brand Awareness and Inbound Links
While outbound marketing is often used to build brand awareness, inbound marketing also plays an important role in this area. Creating highly sharable content (even when it’s not specifically focused on your products or services) boosts exposure for your brand and can increase the number of reputable sites and platforms that link back to your site. Guest blogging and writing educational content for industry publications can provide valuable inbound links to your website from highly relevant sources. But social media is often the easiest place to start in terms of building brand awareness. Now that search engines are taking “social signals” such as likes, comments, and shares into account in terms of ranking, the more engagement you can inspire, the better.

Benefit #3: Increased Conversions on Your Site
This is the most critical metric for any business website. It’s far more important than the number of visitors you receive. If you offer free educational resources on your site, visitors stay longer. That’s great for reducing your bounce rate (another factor search engines weigh in determining the relevance of your site). But inbound marketing should do more than that. Most B2B websites convert only a tiny percentage of visitors into leads. Your inbound marketing should establish trust so that it attracts visitors who are ready to make a next step—even if it’s a small one. Consider distributing an educational blog post or podcast that links back to a landing page where visitors can download a helpful white paper, report, or checklist in exchange for their email address. That’s a fresh lead your marketing and sales people can cultivate, and a perfect example of how your website can deliver value for your business.

Benefit #4: Continuous Improvement for Your Site
What about performance over the long term? In some ways, a higher volume of traffic can be beneficial even if people aren’t doing what you want when they are on the site right now. Because at least you will have enough data to analyze. Inbound marketing gives you many streams of inbound traffic to mine for insights, determining what works and doesn’t work on your website. Be sure to use a customized link for each piece of inbound content (free link shortening services like bit.ly can help). That way, you don’t just see an increase in hits and wonder where they are coming from. Once these visitors are on your site, you can also see how they interact with various pages and identify areas for improvement in the text, layout, page load times, and more.
Are you ready to improve your inbound marketing and enjoy better performance on your website? Contact the team at Web Revelation for a consultation today.
Posted in : Websites , Online Marketing | 
Tags : Marketing , SEO ,

Three Ways Email Marketing Affects Your Website Performance

Posted Thu, August 17, 2017 by Julie Short

Are you paying attention to the relationship between your email campaigns and your web traffic? Done right, email marketing can be a highly effective tool to cultivate leads and keep long-term clients engaged with your website. Here are several ways that this kind of marketing might be impacting your website performance—for good or bad!

#1 Getting More Clicks to Your Site
Each email you send provides an opportunity for you to engage readers and invite them to visit your website. It’s important to be consistent about including a call to action in each email, because it’s going to take a lot of emails for the results to add up. Click through rates from email marketing have declined in the past decade. According to Campaigner.com, email marketers could count on about a 3.5% click rate in 2011. By 2015, that rate fell to less than 2%. That doesn’t mean you should stop bothering with email (because the folks who do click through are prime candidates for conversion). It does mean that it’s going to take more ingenuity on your part to improve those click through numbers.

What can you do to boost your click rates and drive more traffic with your email marketing? Obviously, delivering relevant and engaging content via email is the foundation. But there are other tactics that might help as well. Campaigner.com also shared this interesting fact: email marketing campaigns with a high number of links deliver the best click through rates. According to their data, campaigns with 1-10 links have a click rate of about 1%. That rate jumps to 2.6% for campaigns with more than 20 links. Build a robust campaign with a series of emails that let you experiment with linking to a wide variety of pages on your site. Segment the emails so that each campaign includes the links that are relevant to each target audience or buyer persona.

#2 Increasing Your Rate of Repeat Traffic
RVR or Return Visitor Rate is an important measure of the health of your website. Email marketing encourages prospects and current customers to visit your website frequently to learn, explore, or shop. In general, the more times a user visits your website, the higher the acquisition rate.

What’s a good RVR? Opinions vary, but thirty percent is a healthy return visitor rate according to sources like Contently. Less than ten percent indicates that you aren’t giving people sufficient reason to come back for more. On the other hand, if RVR is very high (especially if overall traffic to your site isn’t high) you probably need to focus more on obtaining new visitors. One way to do this with email marketing is to include content that’s shareable. Recipients can forward this content to people in their network and drive those new viewers to your site.

#3 Ruining Your Website Reputation!
That’s right, this can happen if you aren’t conscientious about how you curate your email marketing list. If you get it wrong, you may impair your ability to run any email campaigns associated with your website at all. When enough people mark your messages as spam—or if you send out bulk emails that look suspicious to mail delivery services, your email server’s IP address or even your web domain name may be blacklisted.
This can happen due to circumstances outside your control (even MailChimp got their URL blocked by mistake in their early days). But it’s usually the result of mistakes like the following:

  • Adding people to your list without obtaining their permission
  • Sending too many emails in a short time period
  • Emailing content that is irrelevant or overly “salesy”
  • Waiting so long between emails that recipients forget they signed up for your email list

Using a double opt-in process, sending content that’s highly targeted to interest your recipients, and keeping in touch regularly are good ways to reduce your chances of being considered a spammer.
You should also avoid the types of actions that make email delivery services mark your messages as spam or block you entirely. FulcrumTech has a good article about best practices to avoid the dreaded spam filter. Remember, if your emails aren’t getting through at all, then your website performance will suffer from the loss of all those clicks from people who really want to engage with you!

Do you need a trusted partner to walk you through your website analytics and improve performance? Contact Web Revelation today.

Posted in : Websites , Email Marketing | 
Tags : N/A

Omni-channel Marketing and Customer Care, How to Be Everywhere

Posted Thu, July 27, 2017 by Julie Short

Omni-channel Marketing and Customer Care (How to Be Everywhere)
Is your organization keeping up with the expectations of today’s B2B buyers? You probably know that key decision-makers are disqualifying vendors through online research before ever engaging with a salesperson, and they have higher expectations for good post-sale interaction as well. There’s never been a time when providing an outstanding experience has mattered more. From advertising to marketing, sales, and customer service, every aspect of a brand must make your company approachable in unprecedented ways.
Can Customers Reach You When and How They Wish?
In the past, that might have meant picking up the phone or faxing an order form. Today, B2B buyers expect much more:
  • Rapid replies to email (within hours, not days)
  • Live chat with reps consistently available during business hours
  • Responses to messaging through FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—anywhere a company maintains a profile
And don’t forget mobile texting and video chat. These more personal, familiar modes of communication can really help a B2B company stand out from the crowd.
Omni-channel Is Not Multi-Channel
Multichannel marketing is a tactical approach to reaching prospects and customers through a specific set of technologies. It is traditionally focused on what works best for the company doing the marketing. Omni-channel is about shifting the conversation away from platforms, technologies, and devices. It’s about focusing on availability and personalization. Customers want to interact with a vendor on their own terms using the technology of their choice. Even more, they want their interaction history to be available to any agent they speak with so that they don’t have to repeat themselves. They expect a seamless, consistent brand experience that takes their preferences into account. Three Tips for Delivering an Omni-Channel Experience
#1: Deliver mobile-friendly web design
This is at the top of the list not only because it’s the simplest fix but because it is so essential. Even business buyers are using a variety of devices besides their desktop to interact with your brand. They might see your tweets on their phone, read a thought leadership article on their tablet, and place an order on their laptop. Besides having a responsive website that automatically detects the parameters of the user’s device, be sure you actually are delivering great content on all the platforms they might use to research your brand.
#2: Provide continuity for e-commerce
Abandoned shopping carts can represent a huge missed opportunity for companies. When a prospect switches from one device to the next, their e-commerce selections should travel with them. Imagine if your business buyer is browsing your online catalogue on their phone and drops some items in the cart for later review. When they login to their desktop later, they receive a reminder that they have items still pending checkout. You’ve just made it that much easier for them to move from consideration to purchase. The ability to synchronize across devices is essential for omni-channel!
#3: Stop Keeping Data Siloed
Every interaction your customer or prospect has with your company is part of the total picture they build about your brand. That means the questions they ask via email or even social media should be available to your agents if the customer decides to follow up via phone or live chat. That may mean implementing more than just a traditional ticket management system. You want all the data on your customers so you get a 360 view of them as well. Not only does this approach boost satisfaction, it will help you market more effectively to your customer base on an ongoing basis.
How do you plan to use technology to make your marketing and custom care more personal, more available, and more consistently excellent for every user? If you want more ideas for strategy and implementation designed for your sector and customized for your brand, contact Web Revelation today. Our team can help.
Posted in : Tips and Tricks , Email Marketing , Business Strategy | 
Tags : Marketing , Customer care ,

Does Your Business Website Have Great UX,Understanding User Experience

Posted Thu, July 13, 2017 by Julie Short

Does Your Business Website Have Great UX? Understanding User Experience

What is User Experience (UX), and why does it matter whether your website has a good one? This design concept is about far more than just visuals or content. It’s the confluence of all the elements on-page and behind the scenes that add up to the total functionality of a site. When a web visitor has an experience filled with friction and frustration, your UX needs some work. As the folks at Moz point out, Google and other search engines are already taking User Experience into account in their search ranking algorithms. Whether people are bouncing off your site because it hurts their eyes to look at, your content is useless, or the page load time is driving them nuts, at the end of the day a lack of attention to UX is hurting your web presence. Here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to avoid.

Seek and Not Find

Users should never have to navigate through a complex or poorly labeled site to find the information they need. Keep your top tier navigation menu short (five options is about the max). Today’s users typically know they can click the logo at the top of your site to access the home page, so save your top level menu for essentials other than “home”. You can add more pages as drop downs but don’t go crazy there either. Also avoid using page designs that force users to click on tab after tab within a single page to reveal all the content.

Mystery Content

If there are hyperlinks to click on, make sure they come with a clear description so users know where they are being directed. That goes double for files like PDFs that will automatically download to their device. When you have lovely images to click for users to travel deeper into the site, be sure they are also labelled with text. That’s not just good SEO, it’s functional. For example, even if an image is linking to a portfolio piece, it should state what the user can expect to learn (e.g., Brickyard Museum Restoration Project or “Master Brake Center Case Study”). Don’t make users hover over an image to find out what it is for. They may miss that subtle cue.

Forms Done Wrong

Long forms can help you collect necessary information for your lead generation initiative. But a poor design can hurt more than it helps. Forms that ask for a lot of information that seems extraneous to the user will annoy them (especially if you make those fields mandatory). Never use a template that erases all information if an incomplete form is submitted—or one with the reset button too close to the submit button. You won’t get a second chance to capture leads from ticked off prospects. If you are asking for lots of info, give a reason. For example, a site providing vehicle wraps might ask for the make and model of a visitor’s vehicle in addition to contact info so that they can provide an accurate quote.

Excessive Animation

Sure, special effects are…special. But they can also add a lot of time to simple actions. Users have little tolerance for buffering—even when the fault is with their internet carrier and not with your website. But when you make them sit through a cute animation just to get to the content they are interested in? They know exactly who to blame. And it’s you. Using sliders, fade ins, and other effects is fine, but keep them limited to areas where it adds value (such as drawing attention to critical information) rather than just because it looks cool. For mobile, stick with interaction methods that users know well, like tapping and swiping.

Five Good UX Principles

Focus on designing your website with your typical user in mind—not your typical technology buff.

1. Navigation should be clear and easy to follow and the layout should direct the eye to important information.
2. Images should be relevant to the page topic and design elements and colors should not overshadow content.
3. Content should be written at an appropriate level and geared toward providing the information your audience needs.
4. Page load times should be kept to a minimum (image file sizes, scripting, and other behind the scenes factors can have a real impact here).
5. Users should be able to get to what they are looking for with a minimum number of actions.

Most important, you should get feedback from trusted experts and actual end users so that you can improve your UX. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering what your customers want.

Looking for a professional assessment of the UX on your website? Contact Web Revelation today for a consultation.
Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : UX , User Experience ,

What’s a Landing Page and How Can You Use It to Get Leads

Posted Thu, May 25, 2017 by Julie Short

With so much jargon to sort through, it’s easy to get confused about where to spend your time and effort in online marketing. If you’ve ever wondered what a landing page is and why it matters for your business, now you can find out!

The basics: A landing page is a static page on your website that’s built for a specific purpose, usually as part of a campaign, promotion, or other marketing effort. In the B2B space, landing pages are often used for lead generation. For example, a company may develop a white paper and make it available for download if a web visitor fills out a short form on the landing page with their name, company, position, email, and phone number. Assuming the white paper is still relevant five years down the road, it can still be collecting qualified leads for your sales team if you’ve got a landing page that converts well. Here are four quick tips for how to get it right.

Keep It Short and Sweet
In the B2C world landing pages are often long form sales letters. In B2B, that type of landing page simply isn’t appropriate (although if you can figure out how to write a landing page with a “buy now” button that convinces a buyer to place a $120,000 purchase order, we’d love to see it!) For a B2B landing page, most of the content should be viewable without significant scrolling.
The visitor should know from the link that directed them to the page what to expect. And that’s what they should find, presented as succinctly as possible. Never do a bait and switch! Don’t be afraid to use video to make landing pages more engaging. But keep these short as well. Thirty seconds is a fine length if you want visitors to actually watch the whole thing.

Match the Offer to the Buyer
A digital resource that can be delivered immediately is a great offer. But you should tailor the type of resource to the stage the buyer is in along their journey. They might be just learning about the brand or seeking information to solve a specific problem. Often, a landing page is used at the beginning of the journey or closer to the top of the funnel, when buyers are marginally aware of your company, looking for answers to specific questions, and potentially open to engaging and learning more.

A whitepaper is best for people doing initial research to make a better purchasing decision down the road while a checklist is a great idea for people who are trying to solve an immediate problem. The type of offer visitors respond to can tell you whether a lead is just warm enough to start a drip campaign or if they are ready for a call from a sales person.

Ensure Your Call to Action Counts
Always start with the call to action in mind and design every element of your page from the visuals to the text with that final step as the focus. Otherwise, you may create interesting content but deploy it ineffectively. Also remember that a call to action shouldn’t be a demand. It should be an invitation. For example, it’s appropriate to use words like “discover” and “explore” when buyers are in the information gathering stage and you are offering a resource that helps them in their quest. That type of terminology is in alignment with what they are already in the mood to do.
It’s a best practice to have only one call to action on your landing page, even if visitors could conceivably take more than one action. Don’t ask the prospect to call, email, text, sign up for a newsletter, share your content, connect with you on social media, and enter to win. Pick the action that matters most and make that the focus.

Make It Easy to Get Results
User experience is critical for a landing page to convert well. Design the page so the user can get what they want and you can get what YOU want with the least effort. For example, determine the best number/type of fields for your form so you don’t scare people away by asking for too much information. A form with more than five fields is usually a deal killer.
Ensure that the buttons or other elements that give direction on what to do next are easy to locate. Remember, people scan content online rather than reading it word for word. You may have some great copy on your landing page, but visitors must be able to jump immediately into taking the desired action if that’s what they want.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Landing pages are a great place to do A/B split testing or multivariate testing. You know exactly what you want visitors to do and can track which version of a page delivers the best results.

Need to add landing pages to your website to help you achieve your marketing goals this quarter? Web Revelation can help you develop and launch your next campaign.
Posted in : Website Content , Websites | 
Tags : Call to action , landing page

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