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How To Make Your Website Sing

Is your website selling your business?

Dennis Armstrong

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If you are reading this I have to assume that you are an intelligent, salient being that already understands the value of having a strong online presence.

Whether you run your own business or occupy a management role in another, you know that the socially and digitally connected world we live in demands your ‘shop’ is easily found in the online space.

You also (should) know that the days of merely plonking down your flag on the digital landscape is not good enough – certainly not in terms of converting online traffic into sales – which is the ultimate point of having a website is it not?

Your company website

First things first. Your website is a company asset. It is your building, your office, your store – it is where people go to do business with you. The building (development) of that store is an investment; it is not a marketing cost from which you can expect return.

The activities that drive traffic to your ‘shop’ and aid in converting that traffic into leads (and sales) are, however, marketing-related and there you must certainly expect return from.

Your website is an asset and just like stores of brick and mortar where location, location, location was, and still is, a critical element of success, your website needs to be positioned and created in such a way that it maximises the number (and value) of feet that walk through your doors.

Three key questions your home page should answer

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What do you want the visitor to do?

 It is difficult enough to get the right kind of traffic to your website in the first place, the last thing you want to do is confuse potential customers with muddied messaging.

Everything, from your logo and company slogan, to your positioning statement and images used – all need to clearly convey what it is your company does. Take a look at this example below from FreshBooks.

Fresh-Books

What you see here is everything that’s visible on their website above the fold – meaning everything you can see before you have to scroll down.

Read Next: The Mega Online Marketing Guide

What you have is:

  • A clear logo with a slogan that already tells you what the company does. This is then followed by a positioning statement that reiterates the core function of the business, followed by an expansion on that by saying “Join over 5 million people using FreshBooks to make billing painless”.
  • Right there you have a quantified statement of 5 million+ who trust the product, along with what the product does, AKA, “makes billing” (accounting) painless.

You’d have to be few briquettes short of a braai not to understand what is being offered to you.

Cleverly they then position three features of the product just above the fold you so can see their solution is ‘easy to use’, that you can ‘work from anywhere’ and that you can ‘save time’. They then follow that up with clear calls to action to try the 30 day trial or take a tour.

Contact details are also clearly displayed, providing a pretty good example of what your website home page should look like in terms of messaging.

  • Don’t try and be too clever (just yet)
  • Don’t try and say too much (save it for later)
  • Don’t confuse the goal (ever).

The FreshBooks example could be improved on even further, perhaps with a quick view video and other tweaks but the basic principle is 100% correct and those principles should then be followed throughout your website’s sub-pages.

Use language that resonates with your target audience and make sure the content is laid out in a way that it’s easy to scan through, and just as easy to delve deeper into if required.

The main difference between a website and a physical building (bar the obvious) is that your website is never, ever, done.

You can always improve, you can always optimise and evolve, and you must always test the efficacy of those changes to ensure you get the very best results from your investment.

4 Key elements of web design

Before I close off I’d like to briefly touch on four key elements.

1. Mobility

Your website must be optimised for mobile devices. Responsive design plays a key role here where your site adapts to suit whichever device it is accessed from.

A website that is not geared towards meeting the demands of a mobile consumer-base is a website knocking on death’s door.

2. User experience design (UXD)

Yes it’s a science and it’s all about how a user (site visitor) interacts with your website.

Knowing how a user’s eyes would naturally scan a webpage and then catering for those natural movements, choosing the right colours and images, and visually being able to guide someone effortlessly towards goals is what it’s all about . . . and, no, your brother’s friend’s son (who is good with computers) cannot do it for you.

Users are impatient and increasingly so. The fewer hoops they have to jump through, the more intuitive your design and flow of your website, the more conversions you will have.

Friction is the devil – great UX and common sense reduces this greatly.

3. Calls-to-action (CTAs)

Make sure that each page, or section, has clear calls-to-action. You are guiding someone through your store and you need to have appropriate, relevant, enticing catchment points where you can prompt the visitor to giving you their details, or perform another goal-orientated task.

Without CTAs your website is DOA (dead on arrival)

4. Test, amend and test some more

Websites are data-driven animals. With analysis of your website traffic you will be able to pinpoint where visitors drop off (leave), where they come from, how they convert and a whole host of other indicators that can help you identify areas of your business that need work.

Without analytics you are flying blind and wasting money . . . Every. Single. Day.

I leave you with this quote from Jared Spool in comment about website usability: “Intuitive design is how we give the user new superpowers.”

Does your current website do that?

Read Next: 5 Need-to-Know SEO Trends for ‘Treps

Dennis Armstrong is the managing director of Interface Media, a full service digital agency with over 2 000 clients and, more recently, contracted service provider to a host of agencies across SA. Dennis’s expertise include marketing and business development, more recently taking on a national sales role before being promoted to MD. Dennis manages over 200 staff and is directly involved in growing some of the biggest digital accounts in South Africa from search, to SEO and display marketing. He is a hands-on individual and available to advise on all digital marketing requirements.

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Online Marketing

Everything You Need To Know About Instagram’s New Shopping Features

The app is giving influencers and brands new channels on which consumers can discover them.

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Influencers and brands have two new ways to sell products to users scrolling and tapping through their Instagram feeds. After a summer of testing shopping buttons that drive purchases via Stories, the Facebook-owned app has launched them for businesses in 46 countries.

It’s also begun rolling out a personalised shopping section in the Explore tab, which Instagram redesigned earlier this year to feature AI-powered channels categorising content based on topic (e.g. travel, art, decor).

The shopping tab will be a place for users who know they want to browse and potentially buy, with Instagram’s algorithm serving up brands the user already follows or would likely be into, based on past activity on the app. Meanwhile, the shopping bag stickers in Stories will give users a chance to not just admire their favourite influencers’ outfits, but actually click through and learn more about promoted items.

Since Instagram began testing the feature in June, more than 90 million users per month have tapped to reveal tags in shopping posts, according to a Sept. 17 Instagram blog post. The app already allows brands to purchase ads in the form of Stories.

More than 400 million accounts watch Stories daily, and one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses, Instagram also reports.

Instagram has been testing shopping in feeds for nearly two years.

Related: Creating Power Digital Campaigns

Back in November 2016, the company explained on its Business blog that online shopping often involves research and deliberation, rather than impulse purchases, which is what led Instagram to build out shopping posts that would provide consumers with information about products without having to leave the app until they’d made a purchase decision.

Salesforce has forecasted that the referral traffic Instagram drives to retailer websites will increase by 51 percent between the 2017 and 2018 holiday seasons, according to Adweek.

Speaking of leaving the app, Instagram is rumored to be developing a standalone shopping app, according to The Verge, but the company declined to comment on these reports to both The Verge and Entrepreneur.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Online Marketing

Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

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Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing, when you’re short on funds, can seem like an intimidating prospect. If you and your team aren’t already knowledgeable about digital marketing strategy, you may think it’s impossible for you to manage marketing campaigns yourself. With a bit of determination and a great deal of studying, however, your startup will be able to successfully launch, direct, and refine your own digital marketing strategies.

What things can you do to help your start-up get more press, attract more customers, and get more brand awareness? There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

Get to know your niche

Many young companies adopt random acts of internet marketing. They’ll throw a few hundred dollars into promoting Facebook posts without necessarily understanding how to communicate to their audience.

Before you dive into advertising and promotion platforms, you should spend some time to define – and to get to know – your niche.

To help define your target market, use questions like:

  • Who are your existing customers?
    • How would you group them?
  • Who does your product or service help?
    • Does your product help business owners, stay-at-home parents, college students, or someone else?
  • Who are you looking to reach out to?
    • That is, are you looking to refine your target market or expand it?

Once you’ve answered a few questions like the ones listed above, you should be able to get a better idea of who you’re marketing to. With an understanding of who you’re communicating with, you should be able to craft a tailored message about your brand.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Choose social media platforms wisely

Many start-ups try to master as many social media platforms right at the start. Instead of dividing your attention between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you should identify one or two social media platforms that will help you market your product or service. This is why defining your target market at the beginning is so very important.

You must first decide who your message is intended for before writing, editing, and positioning that message. After you’ve got your target market down, you’ll be able to pinpoint which social media platforms can serve you best.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea of which social media platforms are best suited for your needs:

Twitter

  • Best for blog links
  • Frequent posts: 1-4 posts every few hours is the most effective
  • The community is open to businesses promotion

Facebook

  • Best for communicating to existing customers
  • Daily posts: 1 post every 2 days is the most effective
  • Users respond best to images, videos, and clips

Reddit

  • Strictly promotional posts are undesirable
  • Building readership and/or a following is slow
  • Better suited for long-term growth strategy

Do your social media research

Start conducting some preliminary research about social media platforms. Build a profile of each, listing their pros and cons. Try investigating other social media platforms such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Quora. While these aren’t platforms as large as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, they could have a far greater impact on your start-up.

Answering questions on Quora and interacting with other users on GitHub, for example, could help you build genuine business and customer relationships.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Concentrate on mastering a few channels

Ultimately, it’s important to concentrate on one or two social media platforms based on your target market and your goals. Attempting to have a significant presence on all of them will prove expensive, time-consuming, and, at worst, counterproductive.

Focusing on one platform will allow you to track your marketing efforts with greater precision, revise your marketing strategy more easily, and help you speak more directly to your target audience.

Digital marketing, while best left to a team of experienced marketers, content creators, and creative designers can be done by your team.

Start-ups tight on cash don’t need to fret, they only need to do a bit of market research and direct their energy accordingly. After narrowing down your audience and performing some preliminary research on social media platforms, you can start working on your social media marketing strategy.

Master a few channels rather than trying to dominate all of the social media space. Keep conducting research as you start your marketing campaigns. Each community naturally changes so you’ll want to keep up-to-date. Leverage your research and dedication to get the most out of your startup marketing.

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How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Ethan Dunwill

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It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. If you don’t have online presence, it will become difficult to obtain the results you expect. Your target audience is using the internet nowadays for almost anything. So, if you want to attract more customers and build your brand reputation, you need to build a website. This is how you will be able to expand your business in an easy and not so expensive way.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a savvy web developer to create a basic website and let the others know about you. Web development and design software have evolved a lot and now you can use several website builders to develop a functional site. You will have plenty of templates to choose from to increase your business’ visibility.

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Easy and Effective Steps to Create a Website for Your Business

1. What is the purpose of your website?

It doesn’t matter if you develop a simple or a more complex website. Before you start working on anything related to your website, you should start with saying what your company does. Your customers need to understand from the first minute they access your homepage what is your mission and vision. They don’t have too much time to invest when they enter on a website. So, you can make their journey smoother by telling them from the beginning about you. In case you are not so talented at writing, you can use writing companies like RewardedEssays or SupremeDissertations to give you a hand.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

2. Choose a domain name and a web host

Even though many think they shouldn’t focus too much on it, the domain name is an important feature of your website. You will use the URL to promote your business to existing and future clients. So, this means that your domain name should be explicit and talk about your business to anyone who wants to find more about you. A domain name should be short, clear, without acronyms or numbers. What is more, you shouldn’t forget to check if your domain name isn’t already taken by someone else.

Apart from a domain name, your website will also need a server where all your data is stored. When you own a small business, creating your own web host will represent a serious financial effort. So, it would be more cost-wise to choose an external host.

As your business grows, you can choose a different host, or you can ask several providers to work on a personalised solution.

3. Build your website’s pages

website-pages-build

You will need more than a homepage to create a good website. If you want your customers to understand that you are a professional in what you do, you will create several pages dedicated to different elements of your business. For example, you can include a catalog with your products or a blog.

Natalie Andersen, CEO of GetGoodGrade mentions that “It is obligatory that apart from the homepage, a website should have at least a page with the products’ catalog and a Contact Us page.”

Below you can find a list with the minimum number of pages a professional website should have:

  • Homepage – here you will include details about your business, making sure that you also talk about your mission and vision.
  • List of products and services – your customers need to know what are the products and services you offer. This will help them decide whether you can answer their questions and provide a solution to their problems.
  • About Us – “About Us page is the place where you talk about your story. Your target audience wants to know more about yourself. This is how you will create a connection with your customers and let them know more about you”, says James Daily, Head of content department at FlashEssay.
  • Contact Us – it should include your address, email, phone number and working hours. You can also include the links for your social media profiles.

Furthermore, if you want to achieve an international presence, you can also use the translation services offered by IsAccurate. Thus, you will be able to address your message to a wider group of people and expand your business on new markets.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

4. Test if your website works properly

Christopher K. Mercer, CEO of Citatior recommends that “before you launch a website, you should first test whether it works. You cannot tell your future customers about your website without knowing for sure that it will work without problems once you launch it”. Therefore, you should click on each page and check whether it has any errors. You still have time to fix something if necessary.

Once you have launched your website and something goes wrong, it will become more difficult to do any change. Plus, always remember that the first impression matters. So, you need to be perfect in the eyes of your customers.

5. Maintain your website

After you launched your website, this doesn’t mean that your work is done. You will need to keep your customers engaged and curious about your business. Therefore, updating the products’ catalog constantly or producing content for your blog will keep your audience informed about what you can offer and the latest trends in the industry. Plus, you should also check if your website is up to date with the latest add-ons. If you don’t know how to produce new content for your website or you feel that you are not talented enough, you can collaborate with HotEssayService or RatedByStudents for professional writing services.

It shouldn’t be complicated to create a website for your small business. As long as you keep a clear structure and create a story around your business, you don’t have anything to worry about. It is very important to understand that a website is very important for your business visibility. Thus, you should put all your efforts into it.

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