There’s no shame in admitting we all procrastinate about making changes. The tougher the changes, the more we dread making them. Thank goodness New Year’s Day comes around and give us the excuse to make changes as if it were a deadline we need to keep. Some people join a gym to lose weight or get into shape, some vow to clean up their garage or basement and others swear they’ll quit smoking. Personally, I decided to smoke more while enjoying more junk food while sitting among the junk in my garage. Chances are I’ll be able to keep those resolutions.
For business, the need to keep resolutions defines income and failing to keep those resolutions can be disastrous. What have you decided to change for 2013? Keeping better records? Filing all those papers in the stack behind your desk? Increasing your business? Ah, that caught your eye. Increasing your business.
Take stock in the tools you are using for your business marketing and customer retention. What’s working, what’s not working and what do you think you need to make these tools work better? With any business, dealing with service or products, selling is the number one need. One doesn’t have to be Willy Loman, the struggling, traveling salesman of Arthur Miller’s depressing play, Death of a Salesman, especially when we have the web to do our traveling for us. If you remember the play from your high school English class, Willy was not one to listen or change but his heart was in the sale.
For business today, one must not wait for permission from the calendar to evolve. Succeeding against competition can be… war, fought with marketing weapons and while Sun Tsu’s, “The Art of War” can lend examples of smart business decisions.
Climb to Your Full Potential
If you climb a staircase half way up, you are nowhere. Neither up nor down and too many businesspeople tire and stop halfway up. Sometimes it’s stubbornness but usually it’s a loss of realizing what waits at the top. Climbing the rest of the way takes effort. That effort becomes easier through technology but incorporating the available technology also takes time and investment. People have no problem buying the latest cell phone once a year and the company that services your copy machines or office telephone systems will update that equipment to keep us on the cutting age of technology. What about those selling tools you have that only you can update?
- Is your online business website taking full advantage of these tools?
- Surveys, polls, response-forms and other interactive web page design elements.
- Navigational tools including color-change for links (these show the customers where they have visited your online store, which makes it easier for them to revisit an item they were considering).
- Online traffic and online shopper tracking tools.
- Business blogs and other tools you can use to give your business website your own “voice” and engage customers.
Take a hard look at your existing website. Review your customer data and online sales results and place that all into the examination.
Decide on Re-design or Renovation
Which elements of your existing online store or business website have been most effective? Which have been least effective? Don’t know? Then you’re not effectively tracking and monitoring the results your various webpage design elements have on your online business efforts. Add tracking to your functionality.
If you do know, then be sure to keep those elements of your online business and web marketing materials that have proved most effective for online sales. Don’t change what works for you! If you are doing a redesign for your site, migrate successful elements to the new business website design – and eliminate unsuccessful webpage design elements.
Whether using website software or creating a custom website with a professional web designer, you should review every element of your existing business website, deciding whether you need to renovate individual elements of the website or undertake a complete re-design. If you decide to re-design your business website entirely you should:
- Consider re-naming your web address (URL) to more closely match the name of your business or business function.
- Consider a new logo for your online business. Even Microsoft and bay have redesigned their logos recently.
- Re-write all website copy to take advantage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, using keywords to help increase your presence in the leading search engines.
In 2013 most of the traffic to your website will come from a mobile device. Is your site mobile friendly? Studies have shown that mobile users are more likely to buy if your site is mobile optimized and more likely to leave immediately if it’s not. If you don’t get a mobile website up this year you are literally just handing off your customers to your competition.
Plan your promotion while you plan your re-design. In addition to reviewing the individual web pages within your business website, use the re-design as an opportunity to breathe new life into your web marketing campaign as well.
- Add new URLs and SEO terms to your email campaigns, newsletters and other web marketing materials.
- Schedule a date for re-launching your re-designed or renovated business website and map out a web marketing and email campaign to promote the re-launch.
- Improve your SEO, especially for local business. If you generate a good portion of your business locally, you really need to step up your local SEO in 2013. Visit GetListed.org and make sure that your company is listed in all the local databases. Encourage customers to leave reviews on sites like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) and other user-driven review sites.
Once you have control (claim) of your listing you can update your information, post photos and videos and take other steps that will increase your visibility for local search and listings will be available to mobile users, which is of the utmost importance in 2013.
Rethink Your Social Media Marketing
Maybe 2013 isn’t the year for adding another social media platform to your marketing mix… maybe it’s the year for dropping one. If you can afford to be everywhere on social media channels and keep it all updated, then there is no reason to drop one but if you can’t keep up with all of them, a stagnant account will have negative impact on your business reputation. 2013 is the time to rethink your priorities and concentrate on what is the most effective for your ROI.
If you can drop one or more platforms without losing business, maybe you can reinvest that time into forming deeper relationships with the customers that matter more on the platforms they spend the most time using. 67% of customers who stop using a companies service do so to what is called perceived indifference. If a social media channel isn’t engaging customers, then it’s just a waste of time; time that is better spent building customer relations.
Email Marketing is Still Strong
When people opt-in to your emails, you have a great communication tool that ties all social media, your web site and business together. With the proper copywriting, you engage customers. Here are a few tips for building your email list:
- Understand the fact that most people don’t want to sign up for “another email newsletter,” so use “email bait” to persuade them. It could be a white paper download, entry to a raffle, tips that pertain to owning your product or using your service or discounts available only through the emails.
- Make the calls to action for your email signup more obvious and place them in multiple spots on your webpages. Make sure viewers understand there’s discounts available only through these emails.
- Use social media to reach out for list building.
- Create landing pages that focus on converting visitors into subscribers.
- Make sure you have top notch content as every email newsletter is an invitation to unsubscribe from your list.
Update Your Technology
When was the last time you updated your web site? Is information outdated? Most of all, does your web site serve the needs of your customers and reach out to prospective customers? Here’s some of the newest technology you should consider for your web-based marketing and customer relationships:
No matter how much money you throw at SEO (search engine optimization,) no matter how much time you spend on social media marketing like Facebook and Twitter, no matter how many resources you dedicate to blogging and online video, if your site isn’t mobile compatible you will lose business.
The idea of having a “personal cloud” for storage is so 2012. Now you can combine office, mobile, web-based and even home based storage options to achieve near-automatic caching of data on everything from your smartphone to your TV set-top box. What’s more, the line has become blurred in terms of personal and business use of such technologies.
“Many (people) today not only use the cloud to automatically back up their photos from their smartphone to their computer and share those photos with friends, but they also use the cloud to share critical files with their co-workers, collaborate on those files and have access to them from any device they happen to have with them,” says Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync, a San Mateo, California-based integrated storage provider. “One could argue that the ‘personal cloud’ is dissipating as the lines between business and personal lives are shifting, and that now it is just the all-purpose cloud.” Your business may need cloud storage for consumers/clients.
The trend that started with smartphones and tablets jumped off the small screens:
- Now desktop computers, printers and more can be managed by a touch of the finger. Innovations in the technology have helped bring the price way down. Formerly enterprise-only solutions like touch-controlled office kiosks, interactive point-of-sale terminals and even sophisticated employee inventory systems are now within reach of the smallest small businesses.
- Responsive web design has been around for several years now, but it really came alive in 2012, and we’ve seen more widespread adoption of this adaptive, fluid approach to designing web layouts. Responsive design allows users to receive your web site on any access device and with the best usability. Devices will continue to change, so your site must adapt to every new device that is introduced.
- Forcing an update of images on your web site, “retina display” is now appearing on new devices and by the end of 2013, it will be standard on all devices. Apple coined the term for the latest generation of displays that boast up to four times the pixel density of non-retina displays. For web developers, retina displays cause issues with some image-heavy websites, where some images can appear “grainy.” Now that DVD and Blu Ray players are incorporating web viewing, image resolution will be even more important to users.
- Most importantly for any business is to use satisfied customers to market you and your product/service. The opportunity to share purchases, must-have items and favorite brands, along with any positive experience or post on your site or blog via social platforms is key for any business. Integrating social sharing onto your website design will increase customer engagement and brand awareness.
- Don’t overlook creating an app for your business!
With these simple and effective changes to your digital outreach, you’ll find your business increasing as your brand strengthens. Just psyche yourself up and get ready for 2014. Chances are the new technology will really have some huge changes.
Images ©GL Stock Images