Starting a new business venture is an exciting time, and often incredibly daunting too. There is so much to think about, even after the business plan is in place and the product or service is ready to be released to the public.
Sometimes it’s a slow process that happens organically as you gain clients or customers and realise that you actually have a business opportunity. Other times, it’s an idea that you wake up thinking about in the middle of the night and suddenly want to pour every inch of your being into making it work. Whatever your small business, in this day and age, it needs a website.
The key in this process is to not get carried away too quickly and to realise that your website needs to be simple, professional and relevant.
Here are the most common mistakes that small business owners make when building a website.
1. Buying a domain before speaking to a developer
Once your business has a name it’s only natural to want to reserve the website domain, as well as the username on all the possible social networks. You’ll need a domain in order to have a business email address so usually it’s the first step. However, it’s not always the correct way to go.
Buying a domain before you have spoken to a developer or understand where your website is going to be built, is like buying a filling before you’ve been to the dentist. It’s just much easier to know what you need once you’ve spoken to a professional.
2. Not considering your target audience
Once you’ve got a concept, you’ve spoken to a professional and you’re starting the web development process, it’s all about making something that will appeal to your target audience. Think about your target customer in detail: What they do, what gender, age or nationality they are, what they earn and where they find their information.
This should guide your decision-making process when it comes to what your website will look like or how it will function. For example, if you’re targeting a labourer who earns low wages then a desktop website that has little to no mobile functionality is not going to get you very far.
3. Using too many bells and whistles
Once you’re on the road to building your website and you’re designing the functionality, it’s important to sit down and decide what’s really important.
There are so many fancy features like sliders, flip-boxes, animations, buttons and transitions available for websites these days, and often business owners feel the need to include all of them on their website – in the hope that it will be dynamic and catch people’s eye.
This can become too confusing for new customers, causing them to feel overwhelmed and close the website. It’s more important to have one or two prominent features that show off the main call-to-action on your website and give customers a clear path to take.
4. Thinking it will be a quick process
For those who don’t know too much about building a website, it may seem like a simple process. We’ve heard business owners say, “I just need to quickly put something up”, or “It’s a simple website, just one page with some info about my business”.
It’s never simple, and it’s never quick. What starts out as a simple concept often snowballs into a three-month project when business owners realise what is possible and also how much needs to go into the work behind the website.
For example, setting up an online store is not about just getting the products on the website, you need to consider how people will pay online, what delivery costs will be, how you’re going to get the products to the customer and what your returns policy will be. This is part of the strategy that needs to happen before the website is built.
5. Trying to do it all on your own
There is a lot that needs to go in to building a website – not to mention writing compelling content (copy) that your customers will want to read and then take action, and finding emotive images that represent your business, or organising a shoot to take your own photos.
Most business owners make the mistake of trying to do all of this on their own. As with everything in business, you should stick to what you do best, and delegate the rest.
If that means finding someone in your team or close network to write the copy or take photos for you, then do it. The quicker you get a strategy together, speak to an expert and start working on the content, the quicker your website will be up and running.
And lastly, don’t wait until it’s absolutely perfect to “make it live”. If it’s your first website, no one will know the website is live until you tell them. The key is to get the site to the point where you’re relatively happy and then show your friends and family.
Chances are you’ve missed a typo here or a link is broken there, and a fresh set of eyes will give you a bit more perspective. When you’re all 100% happy with it, you can tell the world (and Google) about it!
Custom Content Via E-commerce Heralds The Future Of Marketing
Informative, catchy content is key to ecommerce engagement. It is an affordable marketing strategy with high impact on ROI.
Content does not demand huge resources; a blog can be launched fairly quickly. However, consumer attention spans are pulled in many directions, so they demand the best on offer.
With two hours per day spent by the average person on social media, it makes sense to harness the potential of these platforms for product inspiration and building hype and desirability of your brand. Studies have shown that most consumers value posts written by other consumers above scripted advertising. Advertising does still have a role to play, but the approach needs to be fresh in enhancing customer experiences alongside customers’ peer reviews to build relationships.
Millennials are so aware of an oversaturated market place that they are difficult to sell to. Images and messages are easily crafted and edited into being what they are not.
Likewise, influencer support can be faked or bought. Supposed sponsorship can be off-putting when relied on in excess to lend gravitas to a post. While influencer endorsement is rife, it must be approached with discernment. Fake engagements are equally rife. From buying followers to staging fake boosting of your friends’ posts, fraud is everywhere, but ultimately cannot sustain.
What does sustain is authenticity, and this is what Millennials are searching for. Brands are wise to allow consumers inside the real stories that make their brand what it is.
Consumers value brands that stand for more. Ethics, social welfare, and edu-commerce. Content that encourages development, both personal and communal is a draw card. Enlightening consumers as to how to get the most out of your products means you are concerned about maximizing value. In the age of ecommerce, transparency and authenticity, brands need to be clear on their vision and mission. In this way, a brand can consistently stay true to its values, and build relationships and trust with the consumer. Next level transparency means revealing all aspects of what makes your product what it is; taking pride in manufacturing, reviews, and individual relevance.
Shopping via the ecommerce is undeniably where it’s at for a myriad of reasons. Ease of price and product comparison, convenience, Generation X time constraints and techno affinity are all factors. Consumers now expect a slick, omnichannel shopping facility that meets their unique lifestyles and personal needs. A majority of customers value customer experience over price when choosing a brand. With sound content enhancing ecommerce engagement, the future of marketing has great potential.
Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions
With Facebook announcing that it is pushing brand and publisher content out of news feeds, how can businesses, especially small and medium enterprises in South Africa, remain relevant?
It was deemed a “rude awakening” early in January 2018 when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the social networking platform had changed its algorithm, basically meaning it had changed what users see on their news feeds.
This follows a pretty harsh year for Facebook, where it was criticised for not having the right countermeasure to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda. So now its set of rules has changed; bumping up users’ friends and family members’ status updates and photos, and underplaying public news articles and content published by brands.
But where does that leave the small or medium businesses reliant on communicating their brand messages through Facebook? How do they now reach Facebook users (estimated to be approximately two billion)?
There is still a way
“’Meaningful interaction’ is not something new to Zuckerberg’s focus on how brands engage with their Facebook audience,” explains Jodene Shaer, international business owner and head strategist of social media engagement specialist, Chat Factory.
“There is a place for paid media, but if a brand is trying to be seen organically, then it must feel like it is part of the flowing content people want to see from friends and family. It is pushing for the reason that Facebook was created in the first place – to be social.”
Truly embracing the power of live videos and video content on Facebook – and then creating reasons for the public to engage with those posts – is an excellent move for any business that is budget conscious, Shaer adds.
“The ranking for visibility of organic content is highest when live. Live videos are absolutely the route to go, as followers receive a notification that you are live and there is greater chance of visibility. A big advantage is that you can save that content to the page and it becomes shareable, and can be uploaded to YouTube, where there is still a strong call for business content.
“And it doesn’t have to be high budget either, but it must be authentic, informative, engaging and encouraging. Of all things, ensure that all comments are responded to and shares and reviews are acknowledged.”
Looking beyond Facebook
Shaer believes that smaller local businesses can make their ad rands stretch further on Facebook by moving onto Ads Manager, instead of simply using the Boost button. “The reach is different, so invest in watching some YouTube videos as tutorials,” she recommends. “Boost to unique target audiences and turn the boosting into a science, by watching your reach. Set up smaller boosts and spread your spend across a few posts instead of one big boost. Track your stats and see which audiences work best.”
“One way that South African SMEs could also make use of InstaStories, as these are gaining organic reach. They could also look at varying hashtags, but using a few to reach a very specific audience.
Related: Marketing Tips For Start-ups
“We’ve seen the opening up of the use of LinkedIn and had people return to using the power of Twitter, so it’s worth investigating how to maximise other platforms while trying to keep your budget low.
“None of this should put a small business off, but should create exciting and challenging opportunities to shift how social media is used and explore the outcomes of each post, to truly develop a social media presence,” she adds.
Shaer will be one of an entire panel of dynamic, expert presenters speaking at the upcoming Madex 2018 show, the ultimate marketing, advertising, design, social media and all that good stuff expo.
How To Market Your Hotel
An integrated digital marketing strategy that provides multiple channels to communicate on will help you to reach more potential customers.
It’s imperative these days to enable customers and guests to interact directly with your brand in real time – and your ROI will reflect this success. To achieve this, your marketing team should utilise a number of different channels in order to achieve an integrated digital marketing strategy.
Why? When potential customers are only able to use one means of communication or booking platform, such as a hotel’s website or blog, Facebook, Twitter or a third-party booking site, their frustration could cause you to lose their business.
Your digital strategy
By engaging in an integrated digital marketing strategy and addressing multiple channels with a clear, consistent message, you are bound to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Through the creation of a larger online presence, your engagement reach will be far higher, solidifying your company’s brand in the best possible manner.
Your first step in achieving an integrated campaign is to determine your target market. The second step according to Robert Nienaber, managing director of Suiteres, is to “create a message – tell a story about your product or service and what makes it unique.
For instance, the history of your establishment’s location, the nature/wildlife, your amazing food or historical rooms or perhaps the owner’s unique story. Tailor that story for your target market to captivate them – they will buy into your brand as a result.” Be sure to keep your message consistent across all mediums, be it written, photographic or video.
According to Ivo Kittel, head of Development & Design at Suiteres, different channels can be described as such: ‘These consist of website and online booking systems, third-party channels – such as online travel agents or your global distributions systems – and social media platforms that support the aforementioned and drive traffic to them.
‘Print media, events and other offline techniques can also assist by driving clients to visit your website or to engage with you on social media. All these channels should be strategically linked for best effect.’
An unusual hero in the travel market? Smart phones and tablets, on-the-go devices that allow users to review and recommend hotels on social media profiles, as well as third-party sites. Together with the integrated digital marketing strategy, this increases potential customers’ connections to hotels, airlines, car hire companies or event organisers.
What’s more, a key driver in drawing in new customers and causing previous ones to return, is the offer of regular perks, benefits, freebies and discounts via a newsletter.
Bear in mind though, that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Each company will have differing concerns and requirements, and these are what you should use to build an effective marketing campaign. The following should be noted:
- Effective communication between marketing team members is essential. There needs to be collaboration across the multiple channels you’re utilising. In doing so, your overall offering will be streamlined and have maximum effect.
- Choose your key channels, those that will receive the most attention and marketing spend. These need to be the channels that garner the most hits or collect the most bookings – also known as ‘converting’.
- Determine your target market and get as much information as you can on them, over time. For instance, which platform do they opt for first? Do specials lead them to make a booking, and if so, what are they? This and any other informative data assists you in your decisions and allows you to use your marketing funds in the best manner possible.
According to Vanessa Rogers, head of Communications at Suiteres, ‘The above-mentioned strategy should ideally be supported by a skilfully crafted PR campaign – one designed to complement and support your marketing message.’
Taking this into account, you should consider having relevant articles published on third-party websites and print media or arrange for a client to be interviewed on radio or a streaming site. These forms of PR are more cost-effective then an advertising campaign.
The details matter
Importantly, customers need to know they can contact you quickly and easily, whether they are making a booking or requesting additional information. One thing you can be certain of: if a customer is unable to communicate efficiently with you, they are very likely to book elsewhere.
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