Business Owners: All Your Marketing Questions Answered

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man roaring into a megaphone trying to spread the word about business with lots of marketing questionsMarketing your business can be HARD.

We hear you, and we hear your questions. We hear them from our clients, our fellow business owners, our marketing associates.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of answers to the questions we hear. While we can’t give any hard-and-fast rules (post this, do this, etc.) that automatically go viral, we can give you marketing guidelines that you can apply to your business (and to your targeted audience).

Why am I not getting any more followers and likes on social media?

Many a business owner has jumped out of social media expecting immediate results. They don’t understand why their customers don’t like their posts, message them with questions, or come in to buy.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for these business owners, but there is a list of reasons why they may not be getting results from their social media presence:

  • Business is not on the social media platform where target audience is;
  • There is no strategy behind the social media posts;
  • The business does not have “personal” content that sets them apart;
  • The social media posts are irregularly posted;
  • The business only posts advertising and sales-heavy content;
  • The content posted is irrelevant to the target audience;
  • The business bought followers;
  • The social media posts don’t contain images (or really bad images-here’s how to choose relevant images);
  • The business posts at times when their audience is not online;
  • There are unrealistic expectations;
  • The business does not respond to messages in a timely manner;
  • The business alienates the audience with angry or controversial posts.

If you want to know more, read our post with more details about these common problems—and how to fix them. 

How do I increase the reach of my website?

After you invest all your time, funds, and effort into a website, it’s the logical next step: figuring out how to make your investment work for you. How do you let people know it’s out there? Or, even better, get your website in front of your local customers without much work?

  • Send an email to your customers (build a email list with these tips) as part of your marketing plan with a clear call-to-action;
  • Use website optimization to get to the top search engine listings (ask us how);
  • Announce your new website on social media and keep including your website in your social media posts;
  • Write quality content with links back to your website (this also is a ranking signal of a quality website with top search engines);
  • Fill out profiles with your website on relevant review sites.

Find out more about promoting your website after it’s built—and continually promoting it as part of a solid marketing plan.

What should I post to social media?

This is one of the most common questions we hear from business owners. Our answer is usually pre-empted by a question, “Who are your followers? Who is your target audience?” Once you have an idea of you are communicating with (note, not talking to, you should always view social media as a two-way conversation), build a plan with:

Exclusive discounts. Make your customers feel appreciated and like they are getting a deal just for them because they follow you on social media.

Entertainment. If appropriate for your business and chosen tone, give your followers entertaining graphics and information that makes them want more.

Resources. Build trust with your audience by giving them helpful articles and videos.

(Occasional) giveaways. Give your audience an incentive to take part in an occasional guessing contest.

Want a more concrete list of social media ideas? Here are a few ideas for your next post; find a more extensive list of ideas to post to social media here.

  • Photos with a request for an appropriate caption
  • Inside photos of your facility or employees (with their consent)
  • How-to videos
  • Share news from your community (especially photos of your business involvement)
  • Guessing contest
  • Photos of the history of your business
  • Memes (when appropriate)
  • Photo or video that gives followers a sneak peak
  • Helpful articles with tips
  • Photos and videos that highlight your succeses
  • Motivational quotes
  • Photos relevant to your business on a National Day
  • Upcoming sales and offer graphics

When should I post to social media?

If you speak to an empty room, would you expect to get heard? That’s what exactly is happening when a business owner or marketer posts when no one is online. Unfortunately, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for when to post that guarantees success, and every industry is different.

To figure out when is the optimal time for social media posts, use these guidelines:

Know your audience. If your target audience is a “more experienced” demographic, post earlier in the evening to reach the optimal amount of followers. Do the same for a younger audience, business-to-business audience, or whomever follows your brand.

Use statistics. Social media sites and scheduling tools often offer analytics that can help you track when your audience is online and when to post.

Relate to your industry. Industry norms can help guide your social media plan (and this article from Social Media today can help with that information).

What the heck is a blog?

We admit that this isn’t a common question, but it is our favorite—and we have heard many versions of this inquiry. “What is content marketing?” “What is a blog?” “What does a blog do for my website?”

The simple answer: content marketing is the process of providing content targeted at your audience.  One of the most successful content marketing tools we’ve found is a blog. A blog filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, and infographics, can be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked. As a bonus, search engines use new, quality content as a ranking signal, giving your blog posts and website a higher ranking in search engine results.

To be successful, new content needs to contain strategic content (in line with your marketing and optimization plan) published on a regular basis; if you need assistance, contact a marketing firm that can meet your needs and has the expertise to answer all your questions.

5 Things Your Online Audience Wish You Knew

customer with megaphone screaming out what she wantsYou may not see your social media followers. You may not know who your website visitors are. But those visitors should be the center of your online marketing strategy. From the second you figure out who your online audience is, it’s time to start crafting content for them. Here’s what they wish you knew—and what you should take to heart when marketing to them.

We LOVE images and videos

Would you believe that there are still businesses and organizations that are posting on social media and content marketing pieces without images? But the numbers say otherwise; statistics have repeatedly shown that posts perform significantly better with images and videos. Use these tips for choosing the best images for your social media and content marketing, and use them frequently (or outsource to a marketing firm that can produce quality images for your marketing).

We are not looking for your website

Unless they need you, the average customer is not surfing the web looking up random websites; instead they visit business websites when they want or need them. When they have a problem, they look for businesses or content that can help fix their problem. The takeaway? Don’t expect that customers are looking for you; instead you need to take steps to get your website at the top of the list and noticed. Contact a local optimization firm to optimize your website and get it listed at the top of searches by local customers. Create a rigorous social media, content, and email marketing plan to reach your audience with relevant and timely information so they notice you—and search for you when the time is right.

We don’t want to be yelled at (all the time)

While your customers understand that you’re trying to make money, they don’t want to be screamed at. They don’t want social media to be like listening to series of obnoxious radio ads. Instead, they want relevant and regular (and sometimes entertaining) content and social media posts. Don’t fill your social media and content marketing posts with “buy, buy, buy!” content. Instead, use the 80-20 rule for social media: 80% non-sales content and 20% sales pitches. Follow a regular calendar of social media posts  and content marketing pieces (or outsource your efforts to a marketing company that can keep up) for maximum results.

We want it easy

Don’t make your customers work; make your website and any call-to-actions easy to fulfill. Your website should be easy to navigate, contacting your company off of social media should be a walk in the park, and finding contact information on your next email should be extremely simple. One disclaimer: don’t make it too easy; you don’t want to get inundated by spam emails. Your time, and your audience’s, is valuable. Treat it like gold whenever you design a website, social media page, content marketing or email marketing piece.

We want to be answered

Marketing and customer service should go hand in hand. Don’t go to all the effort marketing your business without answering the inquiries PROMPTLY. The term “promptly” has taken on new meaning as well; today, customers expect a reply within two hours or less. Don’t leave them hanging; they’ll just move on to the next business. Assign a staff member to respond to every inquiry that comes in from social media, the website, or email marketing. Train them to respond correctly and promptly (more than once a day), and show what great customer service your business offers—even for those with negative feedback.

How do customers find your business website?

people looking at computer and tablet finding business websiteShocking fact of the day: people are not looking for your website. Unless they have a good reason to search for your website, unless they know it’s out there, your website is just another of the millions of websites out there.

So how can you get that perfectly designed, easy-to-navigate, branded website in front of the people who matter: your customers and customers-to-be? To get the answer, you need to look at the process through the eyes of the very people you want to reach. How do they find out about businesses? What channels do they use to find information?

Answering these questions comes with a somewhat annoying disclaimer: every customer is different and goes through the process differently. Customize your marketing to the channels that your target audience uses to find information.

Search engine listings

When people have a problem, they turn to the modern phone book: the internet. Indeed, statistics show that more than 90% of online experiences start with a search. If you want your website found online, and you want customers to use your website, you need to invest in two vital marketing tools.

Optimization is the process of optimizing your website for the search engines your audience uses to find you (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). We’ve given you a few tips to get you started as you write the content for your website; the next step is to use optimization technology so your website shows up in search engine results pages of local users. To stay at the top of the listings, write and produce regular high-quality content (information on what makes content high-quality here) so your website is recognized as a source of fresh, user-friendly content.

Once your website is at the top of the listings, it’s time to keep on them on your website with mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is more than just a new age fad; it’s a necessity when research shows that more than three-quarters of Americans have a smartphone. Your website needs (note, NEEDS) to be mobile-friendly for search engines, who use mobile websites as a factor in the rating process, and users who click on your website. They aren’t going to stay on the website if they can’t browse it on their smartphone easily.

Email

Using email to contact customers is a marketing tool with one of the highest rates of return. There is a caveat; you’re not going to get those returns unless your email recipients want to hear from you. Don’t buy e-mail addresses. Build a solid e-mail list by asking for e-mail addresses at the counter, in your content marketing, on social media, through contests, or by offering a discount (other ideas to build your e-mail list here).

When you produce an e-mail, use solid content (to save time, recycle content you’ve produced for your website) and strong call-to-actions to make your recipients want to visit your website. Include strong headlines, images, and videos to capture their attention and keep it.

Social Media

Social media can be useful in two ways: to connect with customers on social media and as an unbiased third-party review of your company. First, social media can be a powerful way to regularly post relevant content that makes customers follow your company—even when they are not contacting you for a sale. Choose your social media platform carefully; it’s more important to create a stellar social media presence on one channel than to be mediocre on many different social media channels. To drive traffic from social media to your website, include posts with your website link in your marketing plan. If you create fresh, high-quality content marketing pieces, add that to the plan.

A solid social media presence can be useful for driving traffic in another way. Include your website in your social media profile and pin a post to the top of the profile with your website link. Users often use your social media page as a way to research your company, and see what past customers think of your business.

Review sites

Research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land). Powerful statistics like this show how important it is to have a solid profile on a review site. Include as much information about your business as is feasible, including your website. Monitor the sites for negative reviews, and use the reviews to showcase your excellent customer service. If you are concerned about the amount of time it takes to monitor the sites, contact a marketing firm that has the tools that can help you efficiently monitor your company’s profiles on the review sites for any negative reviews. Your website and business are going to benefit in the long-term.

7 Things Your Marketing Firm Wish You Knew

businessman on phone with marketing firm exec who is frustratedOnline marketing is important and evolving, and can seem like the dark (and unknown) frontier.

Or you don’t have time.

Or you hate marketing.

Whatever your reason for outsourcing your marketing, you didn’t invest your funds without expecting some results. And we’re sure your marketing firm can deliver (though we’re partial to a certain online marketing firm if you want local results) IF you hold up your end of the bargain. Here’s what your marketing firm wished you knew (and did) so you’re not that “one” client that expects the moon but isn’t getting results.

We need to be in the loop

You can’t hand over the keys to your marketing and expect results without contributing. Pictures from events, new products in your store, employees delivering excellent service…all these images are vital to an effective marketing campaign. Don’t expect everything for nothing; keep your marketing firm in the loop. Notify them of upcoming events. Return their calls or send e-mails and texts with information and images, then let them do the “marketing magic.”

Viral is not always a good thing

Every business owner seems to be chasing the magic rainbow: the viral video or image that immediately puts them in front of everyone in the world. The truth is that while there is some value in viral, instant fame comes with a price. A million likes on Facebook can actually lead to less engagement or a million views from random people who are not from your targeted audience (those likely to buy) are not going to help you achieve your goal of increasing sales. Think of marketing as a marathon not a sprint. Slow and steady progress with an engaged following wins the sales race.

A crummy website delivers crummy results

A website is more than a marketing nuisance; it’s the way your customers judge your business. A professionally-designed, easy-to-navigate, mobile-friendly, optimized website filled with well-written content earns their trust and sales. It also gains the attention of search engines who seek to deliver the best results to online users (read more about the optimization process here). Don’t skimp when building your new website (or expect the moon from a crummy website!); it is, after all, the foundation for a solid marketing plan.

Your customers are tired of being sold to

You want to increase sales. Your marketing firm gets that. But solid marketing efforts are relevant; your customers don’t want to be screamed at 24/7. Hard-selling posts can be included in your plan, but not every post and written piece needs to be a hard sell. Instead, use the 80/20 rule; 80% are relevant marketing pieces and 20% are targeted selling. (Avoid any marketing firms that tell you otherwise!) Your goal is to give them all the information they need to make a buying decision (content and email marketing are ideal for this), then provide fantastic customer service when they are ready to contact you for the sale.

Strategic tactics (and a plan!) are important

Many a business owner thinks that online marketing is like a point-and-shoot camera. Just post to social media, write up a few sentences, copy and paste a few lines from a brochure, right? This is where a plan and knowledge is really, really important. Don’t undervalue the strategy that a marketing firm can bring to your business; they can make sure that your content is targeted, website optimized, social media posts are scheduled for peak times for your targeted audience, and your email marketing is personalized—all to meet your goals. We know because we do this every day.

You’re overthinking it

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but we have talked to quite a few business owners who think that everything they do is not good enough for marketing. Not every image has to be professional and not every post has to be perfect. Today, relevancy—especially on social media—trumps perfect.

You don’t have time

If we had a penny for every client that said, “I’ll send that to you as soon as I have time” or every business owner that thought they had time to fill in the marketing blanks and never did, we’d be drowning in pennies. There’s no shame or blame in handing over your marketing efforts to the professionals, especially when you don’t have time. Be honest with yourself. An experienced marketing firm can cover all your marketing basis when you don’t have time; all you have to do is ask and give input on a regular basis.

How to Choose the Best Online Marketing Images

woman taking photo for marketing pieceIn this case, statistics don’t lie. Every kind of marketing tactic—websites, blog articles, e-commerce, social media, email marketing—performs better with images, as the statistics show:

There is a caveat (we know, everyone hates those). Not just any image is going to set your image apart from the crowd. Your image has to be the right image to get results. Here’s how to find, or produce, the perfect image for your marketing.

Photo rights

This may seem like a minor detail, but the perfect image is more than just aesthetically pleasing; it’s legal to use, because whether you have the right to use an image is a BIG deal. Nothing makes our blood boil more when someone tells our clients, “You can use any image you find online.”  If someone tells you this, know that they are very, very WRONG.

The truth is that using any image you find online can land you in legal hot water, or at the very least owing money to the party who owns the image rights. Just assume that every image you find is off limits, unless you are using a free image service that explicitly spells out your right to use the images.

Relevant to your content

As great as it is to use any quality photo, choose a photo that’s connected to the topic you’re writing about for maximum impact. While the photo doesn’t always have to be exactly on topic, the perfect image is relevant to what you’re writing about. It draws your reader in and gives them a clue as to what’s coming as they read (remember that people process images faster than text). In addition to relevant, the image should capture your reader’s attention and make them want to dive into your content.

Quality

A high quality image is not necessarily a high resolution photo—and does not always need to be taken by a professional photographer. Technology has evolved over the years, so now even smartphones and tablets can be used to take photos for some platforms.

The key is to know the right resolution and size for your project; a blurry or stretched photo is an embarrassment to your brand. To avoid embarrassing, subpar images, know the optimal image sizes for all your platforms (i.e. blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and use the information as you produce and use images. Think of a quality image as a chance to make a favorable first impression and make your business look like the professionals you are.

People pictures are preferred

Research has shown time and time again (and surprisingly!) that images with a face or faces are preferred by online users. When searching or taking photos, remember that images with people can improve your website traffic and engagement metrics.

The key is to know your audience—and your limitations (it’s okay to consider outsourcing for quality images and expertise). Who is reading your blog posts? What do they want to see? Do the same for your social media—and any other promotional tools, such as your emails—when you craft your content and choose your images.

(Easy) Ways to Improve your Website’s Local SEO Like a Pro

Victorious corporate man celebrating with his arms lifted in the air because he improved website SEOSearch engine optimization was an entirely different concept when we set up shop 20 years ago. Today, SEO is more of an umbrella term covering all the different tactics that influence the hundreds of signals search engines use to compile search engine result pages. Though SEO has evolved, the value of excellent SEO has not; good SEO is still an important part of reaching (and converting!) local users into loyal customers. Here’s how you can (easily) gain valuable SEO points for your website—and towards your bottom line.

Improve your ranking

Optimizing your website may seem like an abstract concept, but the formula is very real. Use keywords and strong headlines in your website content, use a solid website structure during the designing process, and make sure your website loads quickly to gain favor with search engines and your customers.

Make it easier: Do your research. Contact a SEO provider with a proven track record, affordable local SEO services that have proven results, and the expertise to make it work for your business.

Start blogging (well!)

A website with updated, quality content helpful for online users is a precious commodity to your target audience—and therefore valuable to search engines. Note the adjective: quality. Poorly written advertisements just won’t cut it. Instead, invest your time in writing blog posts on topics relevant to your target audience with information they want to know. As you write, include relevant topics and keywords so the search engines find and put your post at the top of the list.

Make it easier: Supplement your content marketing with outsourced blog posts. Make sure each post is in line with your online marketing plan so the voice and topics are consistent.

Use social media

The relationship between social media and SEO is a complicated one, as outlined in this article by Social Media Today.  While having a solid social media presence doesn’t overtly or directly improve your website’s ranking, it does give you an outlet to push your content out.  The resulting clicks and links that stem from writing excellent content generate signals that the search engines need to move up in the rankings.

Make it easier: Make an online marketing plan that you can stick to and flexible enough that you can improvise with your social media posts (for current trends, interesting content, etc.)

Take an interest in reviews

If you’re like almost every other customer, online reviews matter: 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land). Fact is, all the online reviews about your company—both positive and negative—matter, and can make a major impact on your bottom line. To make sure there is more positive than negative, establish a solid presence on all major review sites and monitor the reviews that are posted. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to showcase your company’s excellent customer service skills (tips on how to do so here).

Make it easier: Use a reputation management tool that can monitor and alert you to new reviews. To make the process even easier, contact a marketing company that has a quality reputation management tool ready (and that they can assist you with).

What should I post to social media? What do people want to see?

light bulb of social media ideas above girlIt’s the million dollar question “what on earth should I post to social media today?”—especially on days when you feel like you have less than zero ideas for social media posts for your business.  What’s more, the stakes are higher.  With thousands of other brands to compete with, as well as the million other posts that fill up your followers, it’s hard to find the social media ideas that give your brand the edge—and sometimes it’s hard to find anything to post about.

We’ve compiled a list of social media ideas that can spark your inspiration—and the start of a slew of quality social media posts (all carefully planned out-here’s how to create a solid marketing plan).  If you’re tired of continually searching for ideas—and trying to keep up with the freight train that is digital marketing—remember, there is always the choice that gives you a break: outsource your efforts (or even part of your marketing) to the pros.

  1. Photos your followers can caption
  2. Pictures of your employees at work
  3. Share photos from events your business sponsors or is involved in
  4. How-to videos
  5. Pictures that help celebrate a national day (i.e. national donut day, national pet day, etc.)
  6. A picture that leaves users guessing—then ask them for their guesses (i.e. number of candies in the candy jar, number of items on a pallet, etc.)
  7. Historical pictures of your business or early employees
  8. Pictures of your products
  9. Ask people for a prediction
  10. “Inside scoop” video (for new products, inside new location, etc.)
  11. Sneak peak photos (i.e. pictures of part of an address sign from a new location, photos of part of a new product)
  12. Share articles that you find helpful
  13. Memes
  14. Testimonials from customers
  15. Funny things from the workday
  16. News articles about your company
  17. Industry news
  18. Fill in the blank
  19. Ask for feedback on new products or services
  20. Blog post (from your blog)
  21. Reminder about valuable page on your website
  22. Link to a photo gallery
  23. Photos from the past year (a look back)
  24. Reminder about an upcoming date
  25. Unique fact about your business or product
  26. Post with day-theme (i.e. Motivation Monday, Throwback Thursday, etc.)

How can I protect my business’ online reputation?

Smiling businesswoman standing with laptop and showing thumb up after reading positive review about companyYou don’t have to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation to know how valuable it is to protect your company’s brand online.  Poor reviews, fraudulent claims, and negative comments may seem small, but can have a huge impact on your brand—and your bottom line.  Bad reviews (literally) cost you sales.  Since the process of protecting your brand is so valuable, it’s never too early to get started protecting—and building—your business’ reputation.

Provide excellent customer service

Adequate customer service won’t do.  Every customer interaction—both in-person and online—should result in a positive review.  For consistent in-person customer service, train every member of your team that interacts with customers and vendors on proper phone and sales tactics.

For your online brand, assign customer service to a specific staff member or group of staff members to make sure every customer interaction is promptly addressed. Customers expect—actually demand—a reply to their questions within hours (or minutes) of their inquiry.  Take that customer service to the next level by offering a response that sounds like a human.  Canned responses won’t do; use that and these other online customer service tips to ensure that your customers are happy—and leaving positive reviews about the excellent service they received.

Reach your customers with everything they need

If you want your customers to choose your product or service, give them everything they need—and more than your competitors do.  For new customers, reach them early in the purchasing process before they are ready to buy.  Think like your customers do, and give them the tips and information (answers to their questions!) they’re looking for while they decide what to buy.

Search engine optimization (SEO), website content, content marketing, and social media are the four tactics that together can achieve that purpose. Together, these four online marketing tactics combine to reach potential customers and gain their trust.  SEO optimizes your website for the search engines so your website appears at the top of the listings when they look for products and services (local listings when you use local SEO).   Website content gives them the information your targeted audience needs.

Content marketing answers all their questions beyond what your website provides.  Through a series of content and images, content marketing answers your customers questions and gives them the information they need.  To search engines, content marketing is a signal that you are giving your customers what they want and need.  It also “tells” search engines that you are keeping your website updated with fresh new content. (If you don’t have time to deliver quality content, contact a marketing group that can.)

You can push your content marketing pieces out through social media channels, which is another way to gain your customers’ trust.  Use the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts should be information, tips, and entertainment that can build their trust.  Twenty percent should be direct selling about your products and services.

Establish a strong online brand

Your company goes to great lengths to create a favorable impression with your in-person customers and vendors; do the same online.  Craft a solid website that anchors all your online marketing efforts (use these tips to ensure your website is quality).  Respond to all website inquiries that come through promptly.

Use social media sites to make the conversation with your customers two-way.  Research social media sites and post regularly on the sites where your customers are (more information on choosing the right social media sites for your brand here).  In your social media posts, build trust and reach your customers with information about your products and services (social media post ideas here).  Respond to all inquiries promptly with excellent customer service.

Monitor online reviews

If you don’t use online reviews to choose a company product or service, you may be the only one.  Research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land).  Monitor online reviews on social media sites and review sites to see what customers are saying about your business (after all your potential customers are).

If someone does post a negative review, take a deep breath.  Do not try to argue with the customer.  Do not use a canned, blah-blah-blah response that sounds like a bad customer service recording.  Instead, contact the customer with a human voice and ask to start a private conversation with them.  Ask them for information about their contact with your business.  Don’t be defensive; instead work together with the customer to come to a resolution.  There are automated solutions that can make the process more efficient; however, remember that the human element should always shine through as your protect your business’ reputation.

7 BIG Reasons Why People Abandon Your Website

Man pointing gun at laptop because of bad websiteEvery business strives to make a favorable first impression with potential customers.  The good ones look for feedback and positive reactions to see what works so they can keep making a good impression.  In some cases, though, it’s the other reactions you get from your audience that should shape your future actions—especially in online marketing.

Obviously, if people don’t like the content you post to social media, don’t post it again.  In the same way, if your audience isn’t sticking around on your website (high bounce rate), take it to heart for future marketing.  Here are 10 of the most common reasons that your audience could be repulsed by your website (and what to do about it).

Your website is not mobile-friendly

What: With statistics putting American ownership of smart phones between 50% and 66% of the population, it makes cents (pun intended) to have a mobile-friendly website.  If they can’t read the text or take any action on your website, they are going to walk (or click in this case) away.

What you can learn from it: The investment into a mobile-friendly is worth it, especially with the number of mobile devices growing every year.  If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it makes sense to hire a website company to create a more modern and user-friendly website as soon as possible.

Your website content isn’t readable

What: Big blocks of text.  Fluffy content.  Content that sounds like you swallowed an encyclopedia.  Irrelevant blocks of information that clearly weren’t meant for the audience.  The list of unreadable content blunders could go on and on.

What you can learn from it: When you write content for your site, put yourself in your reader’s shoes (and search engines-more info on writing for them here).  Write in short paragraphs that are easy to read—and with information your audience wants to know (or hire the professionals that can).

They are not impressed with the old design (not “old school” but “old”)

What: While vintage may be fashionable in other areas, old design just looks old.  If your website design looks like one of the first websites to hit the internet, people are going to look at it as outdated and behind the times—and leave.

What you can learn from it: When it comes to online, updated design is the name of the game.  You can make your website look like your other vintage marketing materials without making it look outdated.

They’re tired of waiting

What: Slow page speeds are one of the top reasons why visitors hit the back button.  In this age of instant gratification, they’re not going to wait for the content and graphics they want.  Statistics from KISS Metrics shows that the longer your users wait, the more are going to do the digital walk-away.

What you can learn from it: Test your website to make sure the page loads quickly (or hire a website company that does).

They are repulsed by annoying pop-ups

What: You may think that ‘repulsed’ is a strong word, but repulsed is the exact emotion many people feel about annoying pop-ups.  Pop-ups can be an incredibly effective way to collect e-mails or boost sales, but they can also have the opposite effect of making people leave.

What you can learn from it: Choose the pop-ups you add to your website, and the way they are displayed carefully.  Give your website visitors an easy way to opt out of the pop-ups, and monitor your bounce rate to see if your pop-up is driving more people away than retaining them.

Typos

What: A typo in your content may seem like a small thing, but amateur content can make a black mark in the favorable impression you’re trying to accomplish.  Amateur content makes you look like an amateur company.

What you can learn from it:  Check, check, and double check your content.  Make sure you work is checked by another party, or hire the professionals that do.

The images you use are “amateur” (to put it nicely)

What:  Your company is judged by the quality of your images on your website.  If you don’t have quality images, website visitors are going to think your service or product is as crummy as your website images.

What you can learn from it: If your business wants to look professional, they need to use professional images.  Ask a photographer to take pictures of your services or products (they can be used again on social media or marketing materials) and use stock photos as needed.  Your website is your chance to impress your audience; if they are not impressed, they are going to leave your website (quickly!).

10 Concrete Ways to Get More Website Visitors

crowd of shoppers who want to visit websitesMarketing gurus can talk in all the concepts all they want (guilty!), but this blog post is not about concepts.  This list is all about more concrete, hard-and-fast ways to get more visitors to your website—and logically, to turn those visitors into paying customers.

Make sure your website is worth the visit(s).

Let’s be clear: you are not going to get meaningful website traffic that increases sales unless you have a solid website.  A solid website is well-organized, has information written specifically for your audience (if you can’t, contact the pros that can), loads pages quickly, and has an easy-to-use contact site that visitors can use (more must haves for a solid website here).  Many a business has tried to promote a crappy website only to find their initial traffic numbers have gone up—but so has their bounce rate (the number of customers leaving their website quickly).

Add your website URLs as the call-to-action in your content marketing pieces.

Content marketing is a powerful piece of marketing; writing content about relevant topics that you can share builds trust with your audience and search engines.  That content also gives you a logical place to include your website URLs.  Think about it: if you write about a problem you can solve, or something you can help with, it makes cents (pun intended) to link the call-to-action (i.e. for more information, if you have any questions, etc.) to your website where they can contact you for help.

Optimize your website pages.

If you want to get to your customers, you’re going to need to charm a powerful tool that’ll get you there: search engines.  Write your website content with two audiences in mind (or hire pros who can): your customers and search engines.  Include well-written, optimized, relevant content to keep everyone happy (including yourself when you gain website traffic).

Include website page links in your next email.

Email marketing is a marketing tool with one of the highest return-on-investments—if you build your email list the right way.  Once you have a solid email list full of people who want to receive your communications, make sure you catch their attention with creative headlines and direct people logically to your website for information.  Note: that doesn’t mean you should fill your email full of random website links.  Instead, add them in logically to your email text (or use your content marketing pieces in your email) so your users understand what you want them to do.

Use optimization to get your website to the top.

When users have questions or need information, they go to the top search engines (Bing, Google, Yahoo) and ask.  Website optimization gets your website on page one (if done right and with the right technology) so users can find your website (and your content) easily.  If you are a local business, you can target your website optimization efforts even tighter; top local SEO firms can get your website at the top of user’s searches within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius of your location.

 Add a website page URL to your postcards.

Adding your website to your postcards, direct mail pieces, and brochures should be common practice.  If you have a page where your customers and potential customers can (and want to) interact with your business, add the website URL and an easy-to-scan graphic to get them to your page.

Share your website on social media.

In the middle of all the sharing business pictures and funny memes, it’s easy to forget to share pages from your website.  Make sure that your website is a place people want to go to, and add sharing pages from your website to your marketing plan.  For example, if you have a page full of coupons, videos, tips, and discounts, let your customers and potential customers know—and make it easy for them to visit the page from social media.

Make your website part of your next video.

Video is the future, so use it to your advantage.  You don’t have to make a whole video and jump around and scream your website URL.  Instead, make a video with a purpose (as part of a campaign in your marketing plan) and logically insert your website URL as part of the video.  For example, if you are making a video about an event, add a page to your website with information and a call-to-action (or put it on social media) and include the URL in your video.

Invest in social media ads.

Social media advertising can be a powerful way to promote your website, if you make it relevant.  Social media ads are not a billboard; you need to craft an ad that people (your targeted audience) want to click on to make it effective.

Include your website URL EVERYWHERE.

We admit this isn’t a hard-and-fast tactic, but it’s time to start thinking about your website as part of your business instead of an isolated marketing tactic (more ideas for integrated tactics here).  If you have a solid website, put it to work.  You’ll be glad you did—and so should your customers.