I deal with a lot of startups and while the owner(s) are creative programmers, innovative app developers, savvy business people or brilliant tech nerds, they know nothing about marketing their own companies. That’s why they hire someone like me. The problem comes when they don’t listen to my advice on how to best use social media for their marketing, proper element placement on their web site, especially the home page and how to deal with converting a visitor into a customer/client. While the product or service may launch them to greatness very quickly, staying there is the trick of marketing as the competition moves in on your territory, stealing as much of the pie as they can. That’s why you can’t afford to make even the slightest foolish mistake with your first contact with a prospective client; your web site.
1. Welcoming, Clean, Easy and Professional
You are judged by how your house looks from the street. This is why any real estate agent will tell you that to keep up the value of the house and neighborhood, you should concentrate on refurbishing the outside front of your home, even if you have to live in unpainted inside rooms.
When someone arrives at your website, the first impression they should have is confidence in your company as professional and not a website put up by a high school student. Ask yourself, or better yet, ask people you know for a frank opinion on these following points:
- Is your logo professional looking or does it look like your 12 year-old niece designed it?
- Are your site colors exciting and professional or muddy or much too vibrant?
- Are the most important points, put forth in readable copy above the scroll line (some refer to it as “above-the-fold”) and short, to the point or does the copy ramble incoherently in several places on the page without being tied together?
- Are there visible and enticing calls-to-action (subscribing to your email, RSS feed or registering for notifications on specials) buttons where people will see them or have you left the visitor alone to view the site once and then abandoning your site?
- Can the viewer find and view all of the information they need on your site in under four minutes and understand everything you want them to know or does the visitor have to search around to find what they need?
Hopefully, people will tell you that your site fits the first part of all of these questions. If the second part is what people see, then you need to redesign your site.
2. Is Your Site Something People Will Revisit?
It’s often said that your site must become a “home” to visitors, both as customers and prospective customers. So, what will bring them back again and again? Here’s a few proven things:
- Your site must be warm, welcoming, and humanized for visitors.
- An entertaining blog with information that will be of service to customers and prospective customers. If you set yourself up as an expert, people will come back to find more information.
- Keep your blog reliable! If you publish less than once a week, change publishing days or give up for a long period of time, leaving old posts up, people will find another expert on another site.
Do your visitors know that you will post different information on a regular basis about sales and discounts? Will the information about your product or service change with evolving technology, seasons or client needs? You must make them aware that it is a part of your site.
3. Do You Use Email Marketing?
- Email marketing empowers customers, informs them of the latest things about your company or the industry, introduces new products, highlights specials and discounts, and services, and encourages visits.
- Email marketing is proven to be more effective than other social media channels as it is delivered to a willing recipient who has opted-in to receive the emails.
- Emails allow for a greater explanation of a product or service, testimonials, tips and tricks and other information that would be too lengthy on your website.
4. Do You Listen to Your Customers?
Customer feedback is essential to success, not only for a functioning site that fulfills all of their needs. Having a tab or button that allows customers to contact customer care should be an important part of your site.
Even using checkboxes for a poll or survey, while easier for customers to give feedback, can give you insight into what is and what is not working in your favor.
5. How Do You Advertise Your Site?
The use of social media, banner ads, attachments to your product or packaging and all printed business material helps get your website URL out there. I suggest to all of my clients that each blog entry should have a banner ad for their site placed into the article. This way, if the article is shared or placed on another site, the banner ad will give free advertising for your site.
Are you a member of certain LinkedIn groups that would benefit from your website information? Post links to your site content, blog articles, specials and discounts. Let other people create inbound marketing for you. The same goes for a Facebook page, if you have one. Keep it updated with posts of new material. Shoot for going viral!
How Long Does it Take for Your Site SEO to Take Hold?
Most clients ask me how long will it take for their sites to be at the top of a Google search for their type of business. There is no answer as it takes time and rankings can change every day. It all depends on sticking to everything listed in this article, keeping up with posting new material and using your website as the most important tool for marketing. You may use other avenues for advertising and they may all be important and effective. You just need to keep up with your efforts as one stumble can let customers slip away. Once you make it to the top five returns on a Google search, don’t sit back and consider the struggle over… you can drop down in the blink of an eye as your competition keeps up their postings and efforts. The web moves quickly, so don’t let up!