1. Improve your website for conversions

Improving your existing website should not just be about a new look. Your website has to generate leads and ultimately deliver sales in a competitive marketplace.
 
As well as developing a website design brief, we also take account of:
  • Where your website currently ranks on search engines and for which keywords?
  • What your best performing keywords are?
  • What keywords your competitors are using and where they rank?
  • Your calls to action and are they converting?
  • Where visitors are leaving your website pages?
Ultimately, your website has to perform well against your competitors and generate sales. The content on your website has to convert readers into customers and help to rank your pages on search engines.

2. Design

Good design is about capturing the attention of your audience and guiding them to the most important messages on your website.

Using images, illustrations and infographics is a great way of getting your message across. Web designers will use these elements to provide immediate impact, maintain users’ interest and help them to navigate around the site.

UX and UI (user experience and user interface) are about knowing how to blend functionality with creativity. This will provide easy navigation and a design that is informative and interactive by using animation (motion) and video where relevant. UX also includes technical aspects of the page such as fast loading speed and SEO content.

Modern design is moving towards more white space and uncluttered pages to make it easier for the user to find your most important messages, links and calls to action.

With mobile accounting for around 50% of internet traffic and rising year on year, your website design must be fully responsive and intuitive to use on a mobile device.

Designer_making_website_visuals_for_pages


You only have a few seconds to make a good impression and convince visitors they will find what they are looking for when they land on your website.

3. Content

An effective content marketing strategy costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates 3 times as many leads.

To give your words maximum impact and help tell your story, your content should guide the design of your website. Your content needs to:
  • Convert visitors
  • Perform well for organic searches
  • Represent your current brand values and latest information
  • Be original
  • Be well written with good grammar, checked for plagiarism and spell-checked
  • Include your best-performing keywords
  • Be regularly updated and added to.
Write for your audience first but keep keywords and SEO in mind at the same time for maximum impact and high search engine page ranking.

4. Website page structure

Using your keyword researched content, you should establish an effective page flow for your information by using:
  • Your most searched keywords in the header and subtitles to break the page up into manageable sections
  • Bullet points to quickly get your facts across to the reader
  • Hyperlinks that click through to more information on other pages to help users navigate the site
  • Calls to action on pages to encourage users to click through to a checkout, find more information or complete an enquiry form.

Calls to action
CTAs work more effectively if you can offer the reader something of interest or value. If they sign up to your newsletter or fill in your enquiry form, offer a discount or an E-book that visitors will gain some value from.

CTAs should be bold to attract attention with careful use of colour and information to encourage the user to click through. Using the right colour for a button has been proven to increase the click-through rate.

Website_Content

Tell your story more effectively by providing well-structured pages that will help users find the information they need and take action.

5. Continuous improvement

New content added to your website will keep your pages up to date for your customers and provide more information for search engines to improve the ranking of your pages (Search Engine Optimisation - SEO).

An ideal way to add new content is with blog or news articles. Search marketing is an essential element of the continual improvement of your website page rankings. Regular posting of informative articles on your blog and reviewing and optimising your existing web page content is the most effective way to achieve this.

Without continuous work to improve and add content to your site, it will not be found on the web unless users already know your brand.
In view of the current economic uncertainty, most businesses will be focussing on how to maintain services and minimise disruption to their customers until the worst effects of the pandemic blow over.

Creative agencies will have to adjust to these changes and support the needs of their customers during this period whilst adapting to new ways of working themselves.

Changing the agency structure and model

Creative and marketing agencies provide the support organisations need to keep up to date with the latest marketing trends and are responsible for delivering integrated marketing campaigns that help businesses to grow:

Digital (online) marketing:
  • Website design
  • Web-based apps
  • Search engine optimisation
  • PPC online advertising (Google Ads and Bing)
  • Content marketing (blogs, white papers, case studies and web page content)
  • Email marketing
  • Data analysing (Google analytics)
  • Social Media Management.
Offline marketing:
  • Branding
  • Press advertising
  • Printed materials
  • Events management
  • PR.
A full-service agency can develop an integrated marketing plan tailored to your business and targeted at your customers to generate sales and grow business.

They combine creative and technical skills together with project management, account management and business consulting all under one roof. This usually requires offices large enough to accommodate all of these employees, together with the additional facilities that go with it.

This model works well for businesses that have a considerable marketing budget and multiple marketing personnel to manage and work with the agency.

For smaller businesses without a dedicated marketer or only 1 or 2 marketing people, these high agency overhead costs could arguably be better channelled into areas of the marketing budget that will increase exposure such as advertising spend or increased brochure print runs.

Will this pandemic change the way agencies work forever?

Will agencies find that they can conduct more meetings without the need for travelling?

Can their employees work remotely and remain just as productive, freeing up office space or getting rid of it altogether?

Virtual_agency_future

Growth of the virtual agency

As more services move online, bricks and mortar premises with high rents and rates are becoming an expensive commodity that, in some cases, do not provide any advantage. The high street is a prime example as we see online shopping figures rise year on year.

The game-changer here has been the ability of online retailers to discount products, make returns easy and offer relatively cheap delivery costs.

Will creative agencies go the same way?

Covid-19 is forcing more agencies to temporarily close their offices or operate with a skeleton staff and make employees work from home.

The game-changer is again technology-led, with better broadband, instant messaging, team management software and video conferencing quality getting better all the time to bring team members together wherever they are based.

Can communications be as effective as getting together around a desk?

Maintaining the same formalisation for virtual meetings as for physical meetings will help. Written agendas with clear instructions on who should attend and what outcome is expected. The same structures still apply for managing time, keeping it relevant and making sure everyone is able to contribute. It can be more difficult to stop everyone talking at the same time on a video conference call, especially if there is a bit of a delay on the line. It takes firm leadership and a bit of patience by everyone present.

Management of remote team members is fundamentally no different to them being in the same office. Lines of communication need to be constantly open. Instant messaging services provide an ideal solution. It can be easier to message than walking down the hall and knocking on your colleague’s door. However, this ease of access can cause problems in itself unless you have a protocol in place to manage expectations and response times.

Will more agencies adopt this more flexible and cost-effective approach to working once the pandemic has run its course?

Freelancers have been working this way for years and you can hire a freelancer for any element of your marketing mix. However, if you want an integrated marketing campaign where all elements are connected and visually consistent, you will need a full-service agency with creative, technical and management skills. If that team is used to working remotely to produce tangible results for their clients, the result will be to provide the same high quality of work at a lower cost.

2 years and counting

At Crystal Thought and Mauve Design, we have been running this model for over 2 years now. Our solution focuses on value for money and quality of service. Mauve Design (branding and design for on and offline solutions) and Crystal Thought (web design and digital marketing).

Are we ahead of the curve in view of the current pandemic? We are already set up and well used to working together remotely.  

Using all the latest communications technology for team messaging, management, file sharing and video conferencing, we have learned how to work remotely and stay connected.

Benefits of working with a virtual agency:
  • Low overheads
  • Flexibility
  • Select one service or a range of services
  • Develop an integrated marketing strategy
  • No monthly retainers, unless you need it
  • Future-proof, proven concept.

Plan for the end of the pandemic

While there is a slowdown in activities, now is an ideal time to review your marketing strategy and look at areas that may have to be changed or re-targeted. Using this time to prepare for the upturn, when it comes, will ensure you stay ahead of your competitors:

If you are thinking about:
  • Changing your marketing focus
  • Reducing costs during this period
  • Doing a website refresh or change of content
  • Brochure redesign
  • Exploring opportunities to increase business
  • Working more cost-effectively with your agency.
Call Mark on 01582 890725 or Rob on 0121 353 4016 for an initial discussion to find out how we can help you.

Mark Langston Crystal Thought
Rob Langston Mauve Design
 

25th October 2019
Business start-ups and small local enterprises with a few employees can find it daunting when they come to think about building and maintaining a website.

Today, most businesses whether they are a local builder, hairdresser or insurance broker need a presence on the web. Your customers are all searching online and even if they find you through a referral or press advert, they will want to check out your website to find more information before making contact.

A website gives your business credibility by providing additional information about your business. What you do, how you do it and where you are. Additional proof of the quality of your services or products is provided through images and testimonials on your web pages.

Small-Business-Website-Design

Domain names, hosting, HTML, website builders, content management

These are words you will be hearing regularly when you start looking into getting a website built.

You can write the content, take the photographs and even build it yourself these days if you have the time to get to grips with what is needed to develop a presentable website. The risk is, you will end up with a website that does not work properly, cannot be found on local searches and turns visitors off instead of converting. If you decide to do it yourself, these are some of the elements you will need to get right.

Developing websites for small business

Because your competitors will already have well-established websites, you need to make a good first impression when you launch. Your website must have a great visual impact and contain well-written content that helps to sell your products or services and gets you found on local searches.
 

Design
A well-designed website with intuitive navigation will give your site a unique presence on the web. Web designers have to keep up with the latest trends in design and technology to provide a website that will convert visitors and perform well on search rankings so you will have to do some research on your competitors and other websites that you consider have good design and perform well.

Website copywriting
Google search algorithms reward websites that are well written, have good grammar and spelling and are easy to read and understand. Search engines and your readers will value content that quickly explains what you do and how you do it. Highlighting the features and benefits of your services will make it easier for them to choose you over your competitors. Duplicate content, thin or low-quality content will put you at a disadvantage in the search rankings.

Before you start writing content, you need to know the keywords your target audience will be using to search for your product or service. You can use Google’s keyword tool or a proprietary software platform to find out how many searches are being made on your keywords and then include them in your content.

Our_Work

Photography
There are many stock image libraries where you can buy images and some of these are free. However, if you can take your own photographs of premises, work you have done for clients or products, they will often have a greater impact than generic stock images.

If you do take your own pictures, they will need to be high quality, fit the layout of your web page and be relevant to the content. Images taken from a mobile phone or camera will give you a large jpeg file that will need to be compressed so it does not slow the web page down.

Web development
The technical quality of a website helps it to rank in searches.  Broken links, large images (uncompressed) that make a web page slow to load and pages that cannot be crawled will all affect your local page rankings on search engines. Speed is a big ranking factor especially on mobile phones and your visitors will not thank you for making them wait while your page loads.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
This is a huge subject that has been covered in some of our other blog articles. The same principles apply whether you are a local or global enterprise, the better the quality of your content, the better your website will rank on search engines. You also need to continue to add content and keep your content up to date. The best way to do this is with a blog. Writing articles about your business sector and informational pieces about your products or services will add new content to your site and help improve search rankings. To read all our articles covering Search Engine Optimisation, click on the SEO tag below.

Online marketing
Once your website is complete, you will need to have a marketing strategy that will drive traffic to your website. It does not have to be expensive. As a small business, you will probably be working with a limited budget to spend on advertising. Social media pages are free to set up and post on except for your time. Email marketing can be a very cost-effective way of keeping in touch with customers and informing them of new developments in your business and there are plenty of free email platforms you can use to design and send multiple emails.

Google My Business
To help get your business listed on local searches you need to register with Google My Business. You can add information about your opening hours, location map, business profile and relevant images together with a link to your website.

Website prices
You may prefer to leave the website build to a professional web developer and supply the content yourself which is a good balance of resources. The cost of developing simple brochure/information style websites has come down over the last few years as template designs and content management tools have improved. The process can be quick and cost-effective if you can gather all the information you need for your web pages.

One of our recent articles covers all you need to know about working with a web designer to get your website built, click on the website design tag below to read all of our website design articles.

Mark Langston
 
SSL_CertificateDuring 2018 there was a lot of information circulating around the internet about SSL certificates (Secure Sockets Layer). This was mainly because in July Google started to mark all sites without an SSL certificate as “not secure”. Websites with an SSL certificate show up with a green padlock and “https://” before the address at the top of your browser.

Google is keen to improve internet security to make web browsing and the transfer of information safer for internet users and gradually, more sites are adding SSL certificates. All our new websites and any site refreshes we do will automatically have an SSL certificate, if requested.

How does an SSL certificate work?
SSL provides security between a web server and a browser by setting up an encrypted link between the two. This protects any data being transferred while you are connected to the website.

SSL certificates are definitely needed if you are taking payments from your customers through a shop for example. If you have forms on your website which capture sensitive information, then you should probably get an SSL certificate. For straight forward content websites without any forms then the decision is not so clear; you probably will not need one unless some of the following benefits are important to you.

SSL benefits
By encrypting any data moving between your computer and the web server, you will avoid the risk of cyber criminals stealing information.

Visitors to your website will view your green padlock and will have confidence that your website is secure.
Google has communicated the fact that they are boosting the page rank of websites with SSL encryption. No one is sure how much of a boost this provides but if your competitors have an SSL site then there is an argument to say that you should also have one.

How do I get one?
We have set up a new server to quickly and effectively handle the addition of SSL certificates to all our existing customers’ websites.

We will have to transfer your website to the new server and test your website to ensure adding the SSL has not broken anything.

Because we are effectively changing your website’s URL, this can mean internal and external links will stop working unless we add 301 redirects. Therefore, some work is necessary to transfer your site to the new server and set up and manage the SSL certificate. The price to do this will depend on how large and complicated your site is.

After reading the above, if you would like to add an SSL certificate to your website or would like to discuss if you would benefit from it, please contact one of our team.

Mark Langston
 
If you are searching for ways to increase sales in today’s competitive environment, there are 5 steps you can take to start generating enquiries.

infographic1.Website performance
Your website is the hub of all your online activity.

Even if you are advertising off-line using press ads or mail drops, the first thing most people will do is go online to check out your website and research your business before taking any further action.

Like a lot of things from designer clothes to product packaging, image and design are important and will create the first impression visitors will have of your business.

Quality of build is also important. What determines how successful your website pages are at being found by search engines will depend on how the site has been constructed, how engaging the content is and the relevance of the keywords used.

It takes the skills of a good designer and web developer with an understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to provide a sound foundation for your website to develop and grow as your business goes forward. With the right management, continuous SEO work and generation of new content, these skills will help you achieve a page one ranking on Google over a period of time.

A good website is an investment and you will reap long-term rewards if you take time at the beginning of the project to work with your developers to give your website the best chance of converting visitors into clients.

2.SEO
Assuming your website has been developed with SEO in mind, this will provide a good starting point to monitor and improve the rankings of your most important keywords on the main search engines.

A new website will take around 6 weeks to settle and start providing the keyword ranking information needed to identify where to concentrate efforts on improving page content to move keywords up the page rankings.

New content and improving existing content are amongst the most important factors in SEO. Having a Blog on your website and regularly posting informative articles will help improve your keyword rankings.

We already work with a select number of our clients to achieve page one rankings. First, we carry out a review of your keywords and competitor activity. Then, if we think we can achieve results for you we would recommend a programme of work to achieve success. We will be honest with you if we think SEO is not the best way for you to achieve results and we consider one of the other steps below to be more cost-effective for your particular business.

3.Social media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the most popular social media sites. For small businesses with limited time, I would recommend focussing on one social media platform and spend your time there. Social media can be very time consuming if you want to generate quality leads and increase your connections with the aim of sending them to your website or taking the conversation off-line for a more detailed discussion. Call me to find out how.

4.Advertising
Developing a successful advertising campaign will bring a constant supply of leads into the business.

Choosing where to advertise and creating the adverts for a campaign that will generate enquiries will need research into your products or services. Price comparisons, competitor research and an understanding of your target audience will help decide where to advertise and what to say in your adverts.

Online advertising such as Google Adwords can drive traffic to your website immediately. Campaigns can be set up and tested very quickly to find out what works using conversion tracking and Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of click-throughs to your website.

Social media paid advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn is relatively new and can be very effective for some businesses. Like Adwords, adverts can be tested and refined to maximise response rates and conversions to provide a constant supply of enquiries to your website.  

Press and TV advertising are still relevant for some businesses; however, it is more difficult to track responses to justify the cost unless you can direct readers to a specially developed landing page or unique phone number to record visitor numbers.

Whichever route is best for you, your website will be the hub of the activity.

5.Email marketing
Sending regular emails to your clients and prospects, providing you have their permission, is still one of the most effective ways of getting your message to your audience.

If you are writing a regular blog article for your website, as well as sharing on social media, send a link in your email to the article and continue to remind subscribers of your products or services.

Further reading
You will find more information about each of the above steps in some of our previous articles and I will be writing in more detail about each of the above in future articles. Alternatively, visit the Marketing Services section of our website.

Call 01584 890725 to discuss how you can use these and other marketing techniques to grow your business.

Mark Langston.
 
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