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A Few Things You Might Not Think Of When Creating Your First Business Website

There’s no bigger mistake than learning through experience what you could have learned through simple forethought.

Connor Rickett

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Hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is priceless

No one who’s been in business long is a stranger to the cold hard reality of experience. Sooner or later, we all think, Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

A great many of life’s lessons are obvious in retrospect, and the truth is no one is going to succeed if they’re going to let the fear of those inevitable failures paralyse them. So the goal for all of us is to learn from our mistakes, yes, but whenever possible to learn from others’ mistakes, instead.

We at First Site Guide are going to help you out with that bit, by pointing a few of the problems you might not have considered, if you’re going to be starting your first business site.

Related: 10 Steps To Starting Your Business For Free (Almost)

1.What you need to know about site design

The first thing you need to think about is site design. It’s tempting to put in every bell, whistle, and shiny thing that’s new and trendy in the tech world. Take a deep breath. Then don’t do that.

Form has a place, and that place is the background

There’s nothing wrong with having a pretty site. Your site should absolutely have a clean, professional, feel. Cleaning up how a site looks is fairly cheap and easy, rebuilding a site that looks good but doesn’t do what it’s supposed to is a very expensive proposition.

Focus on function

What your site really needs to do is whatever it does and that’s it. So if you’re selling something, your site should be optimised to sell things well. If you’re goal is to build up subscribers for marketing purposes, then you should be focusing on your marketing funnel. The point is, you can add functionality for your userbase later, but you’re never going to have a userbase to begin with.

Moreover, if you plan on selling any part of your site or brand later, your prospective buyers will be far more interested in the functional elements of your site than the metaphorical wallpaper.

If customers are confused or tired of waiting, they’ll leave

The painful reality is that users are generally unwilling to wait more than five seconds for a website to load before they leave. So, if your expensive flash video on your homepage is stopping it from opening within a couple of seconds, well, it’s actually driving your visitors away.

The same goes for confusing user interfaces. Your first priority should be making it easy for users to do whatever they’re there to do. If people can’t figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, they’re going to head to Point Somewhere Else.

Yes, that’s simple. Yes, that’s obvious. Funnily enough, almost everyone messes it up on the first try, anyway.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

2.What you need to know about content

website-content-creation

Content is often overlooked, even by large companies. It’s the sort of thing that’s perennially foisted off on an intern, or tacked on to someone in PR’s workload as an afterthought. That’s a borderline fatal mistake.

Short content is less useful for driving views

For one thing, people and search engines show a preference for thorough, well-organised, long form articles. For another, fewer people link to the shorter articles. So you’re looking at fewer organic views, and fewer referrals compounding your troubles.

Strong content is better than no content, no content is better than weak content.

Keeping a dependable schedule is a good idea, but not at the expense of quality. At the end of the day, strong content is better than no content, but poorly-written, incomplete, or overly generic content will not just fail to bring in subscribers and repeat viewers in many cases, but cost you subscribers in the long term.

Better, by far, to establish a sparser regular schedule of quality posts, than to try for the optimum number of posts, but fail on quality.

3. What you need to know about social media

Social media isn’t exactly the “next big thing” anymore, but it’s pretty well cemented itself as a big thing for the foreseeable future. There are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when getting ready to jump into using social media for website promotion.

It takes some level of expertise to do right.

Some people are good at social media, some people are bad, most people get better with experience. Most social media accounts out there don’t attract very many followers, and so their impact is limited. You need to have someone onboard who can expand readership and avoid costly missteps.

Expertise costs money and/or time.

Expertise doesn’t just come out of nowhere, though. You’re either going to need to pay a specialist or invest your own time (or an employees) in developing expertise.

For that reason, you might consider which social media platforms you want to utilise at all, and whether it might make sense to specialise.

You might not need one of everything.

So, rather than just creating a gross or two of social media accounts, bundling them up, and assigning some random person control over them, you might consider what you intend to gain from each social media site you want to create a presence on.

We’ve established that social media is going to represent an investment. Why invest in something without a plan for eventual payoff? You might still want to snag your company’s name by creating accounts, but that doesn’t mean you actually need an active account on every social media platform out there to succeed.

There are drawbacks to social media.

Huge drawbacks. For example, handing the new intern the Twitter feed might seem like a good idea, but, well, it’s not. In the hands of someone who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of social media, Twitter is, at best, going to be a net wash for your company… and a single malicious or unintelligent tweet can be a PR disaster. So, basically, having a social media account in the hands of a novice is a large risk with a low, low, potential for gain.

Related: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

The challenge is half the fun

Are there potential problems we haven’t covered here? Oh, heck yeah. One of the simultaneously fun and frightening aspects of the ongoing explosion of technology in the world is that there are always new and exciting ways to either get ahead or fail miserably. Which one you do is up to you, up to luck, and, well, up to how well you anticipate the problems which don’t even exist yet. Good luck.

Connor is a professional writer and blogger. He's passionate about helping other writers take their craft to the next level. Follow Connor on Twitter.

Online Marketing

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.

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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.

Peer pressure

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.

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Value +

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.

Omni-potent

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.

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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?

Madex

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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

jodene-shaer“’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.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

“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.”

Authenticity key

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.

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Online Marketing

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.

Entrepreneur

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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

how-to-market-your-hotel

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.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

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.’

Online marketing

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.’

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

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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