Websites—The Face Of Your Business

Websites—The face of your business.

Websites. They’re the face of your business, your first impression on consumers, and a way to communicate with customers. Check out what you can do to update your website and what customers are looking for!

Personalization

In our previous blog, which you can find here, we talked about what it means to brand yourself – this includes your website! If your logo has certain colors in it, make sure you’re using that across your entire website. Keeping fonts, pictures, and color consist not only shows people that you have a clear brand, but they get to know you on a more personal level.

Ease of Navigation

Have you ever clicked on a restaurant’s website to try and order food and can’t find their phone number? How about frustrations with trying to schedule an appointment online? You may not realize it, but all of these small difficulties add up to a person’s impression of not only your website, but your entire business. If people can’t find it, how are they supposed to buy it? Use tabs to clearly label where things can be found. If you know of something that takes more than a couple of clicks to access, try adding a search bar to your website. You can also study the patterns of the use of your website and see where certain things can be fixed.

Call-to-Action

This one may seem obvious, but is often overlooked. You can have all the testimonials, photos, videos, and customer reviews that you want to validate the quality of your business, but if there’s nowhere to lead your customer to buy a product or an email to reach out to, how do they move forward with your services? Make sure there’s a, “contact us today,” or, “click here for more information,” etc. to point your customers in the right direction.

Updated Content

If you haven’t uploaded recent customer reviews, photos, or blog posts in a while, how do prospective customers know how you’re growing and developing? Having reviews from 8 years ago is great to show that your business has been about quality since day one, but how are consumers going to know how your business is doing now? Also, constant stream of uploading shows loyalty to your business and customers.

Social Media

People want to stay in touch and see what’s going on! Maybe you’re a heating and AC service company; chances are, customers don’t need your services on the daily or weekly. If you provide links to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., your customers can stay in the know with your business and get to know you on a more personal level! That way, when it does come time for an HVAC tune up, they’ll know exactly who to call.

Personalized About Page

When it comes to making a business transaction with a new company, people want to know not only what your business offers, but how you got started, what your business’ morals are, and how you like to work. Including these things lets your customers get to know you on a more personal level. Would you rather do work with a company that provides their title and a bare minimum description of their services, or do you want to work with someone who is transparent and honest?

Validation and Testimonials

We touched on this one earlier, but this can really make or break providing services to a prospective customer. Showing before and after pictures of your services, video testimonials, or even written reviews from current and past customers lets consumers know how you run as a business, and of course, other people’s experience working with you. If your business takes pride in quality service for low prices, or treating your customers like family, make sure your customers are there to back you up! It only takes a couple of minutes to reach out to your customers and ask them to leave a review for you.

You have a lot of competitors. Make sure your competition has nothing on you! Be honest with prospective customers, stand out with your own personalized touch, and be open and consistent with communication.

Cybercrime affects Small Business

This is a blue circuit board with a blue lock in front.

We have all heard the word Cybercrime and we know that we need to protect ourselves. What most small businesses do not understand is how much it affects them. We have heard all the stories from the news about the big companies getting hacked and information being leaked. What we never hear about is the small businesses that get hacked on a daily basis. According to a survey done by CNBC less than 2% of American small businesses say that they are concerned about getting hacked.The big reason why is, “We are the little guy, they don’t want to hack us.” This thought process is incorrect and is exactly why you should care more than the big companies.

Hackers know that you do not have the time, money, or knowledge to protect your site like the big companies do. Therefore, your website is targeted more than any other. Just because you only have 100 clients or 1,000 clients does not make you immune. It makes you a perfect candidate for hackers. They can go in, get what they want, and get out without anybody knowing. What’s better is that because you are a small business, the word that you got hacked won’t go out to everyone in the world because it won’t be considered a big story.

So, what can a small business owner do to protect themselves? More importantly, what can a small business owner do to protect their customers? Well, here you go!

1. Make sure your website is on a secure server. You have a lot of options when it comes to hosting your website. We highly suggest that you find out what equipment or software your host has to combat hacker attempts.

2. Redundancy is very important. Make sure your host has more than one copy of your site. Having multiple servers in different locations would be ideal. This way, if one location gets hacked then they can quickly change over to a backup copy.

3. Consistent security scans. Security scans should be happening weekly on your site or at the minimum monthly. If you keep up on your security scans you will remove any trackers that may have attached to your site in-between scans.

4. You must be updating your site monthly at the minimum. By staying up to date you are also keeping away any new hacks created by having an old version of the theme or integrations your site requires.

5. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts any conversation that you have with the customer, the website and your office computer. This item is so important that Google is now requiring this if you want your page to be found on Google. It is required as of June 1st to have it. You’ll know you have one by seeing HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// in your URL.

By following these steps we cannot guarantee that you will never get hacked or that your information will never get out. Hackers are getting smarter and smarter every day and nobody can ever guarantee that. What we can tell you is that by following these 5 things you are giving your clients and yourself the best protection you can.

6 steps to retail marketing

This is a view of a mall from the top floor.

Marketing in the retail world can be a lot of fun. It also can be very time consuming and monotonous. However, without marketing in the retail world, you will not maintain or grow. Retail has an attrition rate and it doesn’t matter how long you have been in business or how great of a reputation you have, there still has to be marketing. You have to replace the people you lose yearly or you might as well shut your doors right now. How do you do this, is the question and how do you do it well?

1. It all starts with building a brand. You have to have a brand recognition or you will not grow. When people think of the typical products you sell, you want your name to come to mind first. In marketing, there is a rule called the rule of seven. Now, some marketers will say it is the rule of 10 or a rule of 5, regardless, it is still important that you follow it. A person must see your brand 7 times before they start thinking about you for a certain product. How those 7 times is achieved can be hard, however, the rest of this blog explains a few tricks.

2. How you are found is important and that is where listings come into the equation. There are literally hundreds of sites that your business should be listed on depending on exactly what your product is. Personally, I believe that if you are listed properly on the top sites then the rest will follow over time. What people do not realize is that everything HAS to be exactly the same across all of your online listings, right down to the dot in the same place.

3. Social media marketing is going to give you the most bang for your buck. Depending on your demographic you will utilize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Anyone of these 4 are going to be important, however, the two most important are going to be Facebook and Twitter. The most important thing with these platforms is to not post just 1 time per week about your store and expect people to flock in. You have to post regularly and you have to not only educate the consumer about you but also about your products.

4. You have to create a personalized experience. Just as we talked about social being important well, so is mobile marketing. It is said that 58% of people will look on cell phones before they look for your store on a desktop or laptop. With the world of artificial intelligence growing it is very important to learn new ways to use personalized mobile marketing in order to attract new clients.

5. Reward programs are becoming very popular. Create an awards program through email marketing and offer a free product for being a member of your newsletter program. Once you start getting emails from consumers, do not miss a single month of sending newsletters out. I would suggest that you send out an email at a minimum of bi-weekly. One can be a newsletter talking about anything new that you have done and the other can be an offer of the month for members of the group.

6. People will come in and spend more if they know you are supporting the community. Your local chamber of commerce or business group will have a list of events that are community-based in order to help you find a great charity or event to support. Once you find one, offer your support or sponsorship then market about your contribution. Millennials today want to know that you support a charity or local event. They will remember that and come back to you because of it.

Having a retail establishment is a very exciting and fun thing. In today’s world, you have a great opportunity to provide a great location for people to get what you need. The more people that know who you are, the better. With the digital world, you have a great opportunity to tell the world about you! Have fun with it but remember to be respectful and responsible. You will be successful with these suggestions.

Why do I need an SSL for my Website?

Before I explain why you need one I should probably explain what it is. A SSL is a Secured Socket Layer. It is a level of security that is put on your website to keep all information encrypted between the clients computer and the main server that it is talking to.

Imagine going to a store and you paying by credit card. They write down your credit card number, your address, phone number and all other important information and they put it in a drawer. How many people will see that throughout the day? How many people will have as much information as they need to steal from you? I would say that is pretty unsafe, correct? So why would it be okay to give information on a website that does the same thing and makes it easy for hackers to take your information? It wouldn’t!

By installing a SSL certificate it takes your information and encrypts the information prior to sending it to the main server, you are sending it to the site you are purchasing from.

  1. There are a few reasons why you need to have a SSL.
    It affects your rankings. Google and other sites give priority to sites that have https:// instead of http:// in the url. As a matter of fact it is expected that in the future it will be required to have a SSL on all sites.
  2. Your clients want to know that they are safe, whether you accept credit cards or not. We are in a world of knowledge and people are educated more than ever because of the internet so they look for the little lock icon or the https:// on a site.
  3. Hackers are getting smarter everyday and it is now quite possible for them to get information through back channels within the URL to your clients desktop, laptop or mobile device.

So why doesn’t everybody have them? It is an expense is the simple answer. We have seen SSL’s range from about $65 to $85 per year. Small businesses do not like the additional expense and have not found a reason to spend it. For 23 cents a day I feel it is worth keeping your clients information safe, don’t you?

Why Do I Need Video?

In today’s day and age people are very visual in nature. I know that at my house my kids are watching videos all the time. What amazes me even more is that I talk to people who say they are too busy to talk or to decide or even to go to the bathroom. However, those same people message me and say “Did you see the video on youtube? Wow, it was amazing”. Then I look at the video and it was the latest fails of the week. This is the world we live in now! People do not have the time to do as much as the world moves quickly but they can always watch the latest video.

Here is where reality crosses with marketing. We get calls everyday about video because that is what we do. Everybody wants to make a video that goes viral to promote their company. Did you know that less than 1% of videos go viral? To say that anybody has the secret sauce to make a video viral would be a lie. Not to mention, is the best representation of your company really a viral video? Viral videos are silly or show what not to do a lot of times. However, if you can get a 6 second video ad during the pre-roll of a viral video, it makes a lot of sense. The key to it is making the most out of 6 seconds. That we can do!

Having a video on the homepage of you website increases conversions by 80%. This statistic varies based on who you look up the statistic with; however, there is one common theme. Video gives you more conversions than words. Think about how many conversions you currently have from your site. Now think of how much your website costs you per lead. Who wouldn’t want the cost per lead to go down and the amount of leads to go up?

What do we record? You are not looking to be the next viral video so stop thinking it. You are wanting to show why someone HAS to have you as their vendor of choice for the project they have or why they have to buy the product they want from you. You do not have to reinvent the wheel but you do have to tell them why you! I have said it many times. Know the why of what you do. Why do people come to you? Why do people need you? Why do you exist as a company? If you answer those questions in a 15–30 second video then you can watch your leads roll. Do not try to shove 50 years into 30 seconds. It will not show well at all. Show the why now! I believe that there’s a place for history videos, bio videos and product videos, however, that place is not on your homepage. Furthermore, you should absolutely have those videos as well. Those videos should be throughout your website and they should all link to your Youtube page therefore fulfilling one requirement of content marketing.

So in short, should you have video as part of your overall strategy? YES, for sure and definitely!

To Be Found Or Not To Be Found, That Is The Question

This is a woman searching something on Google on her laptop.

When you go into your phone and you type in air conditioning repair you get a list of people nearby that do that, right? Imagine if you are the business owner and somebody is 20 feet from your location and they type in air conditioning repair but your name doesn’t come up? That would probably upset you, correct? Well that is because you are not listed correctly with the major search engines. The last I checked there are over 700 online directories that you can be listed on. Do all of them make sense to you? NO.

There are many directories that are specific to industries that do not make sense for everybody. If you are a doctors office then it makes sense to be listed on WebMD however if you do AC repair then it does not. How do you know which ones you should be listed on? How much time does it take to go into each one individually and make sure everything is exact. That is where a Marketing company comes in with listing expertise.

Listings are very important to SEO for a website. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made with listing and no matter how little you think they are it is very important that you make decisions prior to starting the project. Decisions like Spelling Avenue or using Ave with or without a period? What phone number do you want to use? What email? What are your hours? If you are a restaurant do you want the menu? What pictures do you want to use? What keywords do you want to use? These all seem like basic things but they are very important because ALL of your listings need to be EXACT across all platforms!

Furthermore if you take this project on yourself you have to go in and fix these on a very regular basis. There are crawlers that will go in and change the information within 6 days of fixing it. At first it is one or maybe 2 sites. After 30 days over half of the sites you fixed are changed. That is why it is much more cost effective to work with a Listing Power user service like we are. We constantly fix listings and once they are fixed the crawlers can not change them. There is a fee of course, however how much would it cost you to have to go in and fix them all the time?

What I hear all the time is that I will hire an employee to do this and make sure I stay up to date. Let’s figure this out mathematically. You pay an employee $10 per hour to go in and fix your listings and keep them up to date. Each listing service will take about 30 minutes to fix. That means you are paying that employee $360 every time they have to go through all 72 sites. Now only about half of them get changes monthly. So you will have to pay an employee $180 every month to keep them fixed. These numbers do not include taxes, insurance and all the extra payments you need to make for every employee you have. For a listing professional to come in and have them constantly fixed it will cost you between $100 – $150 per month. So the math is easy right?

You are found online, now what?

When creating a website there’s many things to think about. You want it to represent you and your company. You want it to represent your core beliefs and how you want the public to perceive those beliefs.

 

We come across one issue all the time. We offer free web reports and listing reports as part of our service. The web report is graded on many levels with 100 be the highest score that your website can get. 90 if you do not have a SSL certificate. We constantly run across sites that are 85-90 without SSL certificate. Pretty good right? Wrong! See the issue is that they are not getting conversions off of the site. The site is Mobile, It is Keyworded, it is maintained, updated, easy to navigate and linked to analytics. It ticks all of the boxes for a good site except one.

 

Can you guess what it is?

This one thing it is missing is more important than anything else.

This one thing they are missing is the largest representation of the company that can be.

This one thing is what makes people want to click to learn more.

Do you give up on what it is yet?

 

ATTRACTION! Yes I said attraction! You can have the best site in the world. It can get people to come to your site by the hundreds or even thousands. However if it does not look good than people will not want to know more about your company, product or service? Why do people want to click the contact form if they do not like what they see online? 81% of consumers research you online before they make a decision so in this case you are found but you do not look good as a company.

 

Imagine a website likes this scenario. You are looking to buy a car. You run across 2 ads for the exact same car and the exact same price and mileage. One is an ad that is just words and the other has pictures and a video. Which ad will you request information from? The same goes for your website. You can have the best wording in the world and you could have a literary genius write it but if people can’t see it then they can’t relate to it. I read this statistic recently “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual which the brain will process 60,000 times faster than text information. That is an amazing number. I also read another statistic that having a video on your homepage will increase your conversions by 80%. We are in a visual world so your website needs to be as well!