Whether you are a business needing a new website or an established company in need of a website revamp, taking time at the beginning of your project to plan and determine what you want to achieve will be time well spent. Writing a brief covering your goals and objectives along with an overview of your technical and functional requirements will provide a starting point for further discussions with your web developer.

Your website is your shop window and can have a direct effect on sales. Visitors will make up their mind in seconds whether to stay on your site or jump off to one of your competitors. You need to capture their attention, establish your credentials and prove your credibility at a glance.

Design, colours and the wording you use will communicate the reasons why visitors should delve further into your website pages to find out more information. By using the AIDA formula you can provide information to drive them to your preferred call to action.

Writing clear, concise information that will grab their attention is vital and you may want to consider using a professional copywriter to achieve this. Other sales drivers include testimonials from existing customers, blog articles and an enquiry form, all of which can be strategically positioned on the home page.

The next step is to consider how the user will navigate around your website and list the most important aspects of your service or products. Producing a simple site map will help you to scope out your offering and provide a menu for your website. Always consider that, ideally, you want to get your visitor to the relevant information with minimal clicks; three should be the maximum number of clicks to get them to a call to action.

A typical simple site map with two levels of navigation could look something like this:
 
Home page
Web design
- Brochure style websites
- eCommerce websites
- Hosting services
Marketing Services
- Copywriting
- Google advertising
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimisation
- Marketing planning and strategy
Blog
Testimonials
About us
Contact

 
Website-design

Site revamp
Compared to a new website, an existing site has a history and we would recommend looking at your website statistics software to find out how your site is currently performing. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website all sorts of statistics are available, such as; device used, bounce rates and visitor flows. All of the websites we build for our clients have Google Analytics installed as standard which provides us with the information needed to make a complete diagnostic check of the site.

Measure of success
The success of your website is determined by its ability to convert visitors into new customers or sales. Any revamp should include functional, design and content improvements that will increase your conversion rates.

By following the advice above and working with our team of experts who understand internet marketing, we will be able to improve the performance of your website.
Mark Langston

 
Target_market_1Google Adwords provides a way of delivering targeted customers to your website that is measurable and results driven.

We have helped many of our clients increase traffic to their websites that has subsequently converted into new customers and more business. We use it ourselves and measure the actual revenue generated against expenditure to make sure we get a good return on our investment.

The great thing about Adwords is that it can work just as well for small businesses with limited budgets as it can for large corporations with millions of pounds to spend on marketing.

The key factor is the ability to target your customers with precision. By carefully researching the most suitable keywords your customers use, your advert will appear on the first page of a Google search directly in front of customers actively searching for your products or services.

Another advantage is the ability to select the geographic area you want to cover. A local business may only want to target customers within a 50 mile radius of their business. You can select the area whether it is the whole of the UK or the whole world.

You are in control; you choose your daily budget, the words used in the advert and the website landing page for a particular advert and you only pay when someone clicks on one of your ads.

To be effective, your campaigns, ad groups, keywords and adverts need to be set up to maximise click throughs. There is a lot to learn if you have not used the Google Adwords interface before. Some of the most important factors in setting up a successful campaign are:

Keyword research
Do you know which of your businesses keywords generate the most searches?
Using Google’s keyword tool and putting in a seed keyword such as “website design”, lots of other variations can be found which may be cheaper to bid on than a more generic search term.

Ad groups
Each set of keywords will be allocated to an ad group, so you may have 3 or 4 ad groups set up with specific ads relating to those keywords, for example: ad groups and keywords for “website design” and “Website prices”. Using the relevant keywords in your ads improves the click through rate. You can then take the user through to the relevant page on your website to achieve a good keyword quality score.

Quality score
There are many factors Google uses to assess a keyword’s quality score. Scores range from 1 (poor) to 10 (good). Put simply, Google will assess the relevance of the ad to the content on the landing page. If you have a higher quality score on your keywords compared to your competition, your bid price will be lower than theirs.

Adverts
Write and test more than one advert in each ad group and continually trial new ads against the old ones to keep improving the click through rate. This will help maintain a high position for your ad on the page without having to bid higher.

Negative keywords
Always add negative keywords and continue to add more as your campaign progresses. A negative keyword is a word that is not relevant in your search, for example “web developer jobs”; we are not recruiting so the keyword “jobs” is not relevant and we would not want to incur the cost of a wasted a click.

The subject is huge and complex, I have only touched on some of the many tools and analysis methods available to make a campaign successful. You can waste a lot of money finding out what works and what does not if you don’t know what you are doing. If you think PPC can help your business, give me a call.

Mark Langston

 

17th October 2014
It is easy to see why email marketing is so popular and why we all get so much junk mail in our email boxes – it’s cheap to send and anyone can do it - badly.

Email_Marketing_1Good email marketing is targeted, relevant and of interest to us and therefore useful. Used correctly it can be one of the most effective marketing strategies you can adopt.

Regular emails will keep your current clients up to date with your latest product or service, cross sell other services and encourage them to do more business with you, or just reassure them that they made a good choice using your services or products in the first place.

Mailing lists

Buying lists from providers is generally not a good idea. Your mailing list should be made up of clients that you know and who have bought products or services from you, or potential clients that have made an enquiry and have shown an interest in your services or products, or have opted in to receive further communications.

A recent court ruling went against John Lewis because they used a soft op in by way of a pre ticked box. Though the individual had registered he did not buy anything. The court decided that registering did not constitute a negotiation for a sale of a product or service.

The ICO states that organisations can send marketing texts/emails where:
  1. you have obtained the contact details of the recipient in the course of a sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;
  2. the direct marketing material you are sending relates to your similar products and services only; and
  3. the recipient was given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the cost of transmission) the use of their contact details for marketing purposes when those details were initially collected and, if they did not refuse the use of those details, at the time of each subsequent communication.
This means that a pre ticked box is not acceptable and the user must express consent before you can add them to your mailing lists.

Develop ways of capturing permission led prospect information on every page of your website or in your marketing material. Build your list over time and go for quality over quantity.

Email content

Make your message relevant.
Know your audience and make your content interesting.
Decide what you want to achieve from your mailing.
Make your message; targeted, educational, rewarding.
Make your subject title interesting but not spammy
Measure the results

Emailing systems

There are numerous emailing systems available. They offer many benefits:
  • White listed servers to maximise delivery of your email
  • Spam checking of content
  • Autoresponders
  • List management
  • Design templates
  • Result tracking – open rates and click rates

We use a proprietary emailing system for our own email marketing and manage email strategy for many of our clients.

Mark Langston

24th January 2014
Mobile_phone_websitesWe are frequently asked about making websites suitable for viewing on mobile and tablet devices.

Whilst it is true that more and more people are using different devices during the day to access information, before answering “yes, we can do that”, there are a few questions that need to be asked of the site owner.

Not all developers will ask these questions and some are jumping on the gravy train and offering to convert websites that don’t need or justify a mobile presence.  Worse still, they convert them badly, which can be detrimental to the brand and user experience.

Things to consider:
  • Why do you think your website needs to be accessible on a mobile device?
  • Do your website statistics show that a lot of users are viewing your site on mobile or tablet devices?
  • If they are, what pages are they looking at and responding to?
  • Is it viable to display or explain your services or products on a small screen?
  • Think about your target audience; would they search for your products or services on a mobile device?
How to achieve the most effective mobile web design

Some of the answers to these questions can be found by analysing your website statistics via Google Analytics. You can find out where users have come from, the pages they visit and what device they are using. The next step is to identify the information users are most interested in and how they navigate around your site. Only then can we prioritise the information to be shown on your mobile landing page.

For example, the research may tell us that mobile users are viewing your services before making an enquiry. Making it easy for them to navigate to your services pages quickly and adding a phone number or short enquiry form will help them to make contact with you.

The next decision is which method of implementation to choose. There are a number of ways and the choice will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve.

The two most used ways are:

Adaptive web design
This method is server-side (the server where the website is hosted) and means that the server identifies the attributes of the device being used and delivers a version of the site that is suitable for that device. This requires the development of new website pages that are specifically designed for the device being used. This route is the more expensive option but delivers well designed, targeted, fast loading content, designed specifically for the device being used.

Responsive web design
Instead of the server delivering the information to the browser, this method uses the browser to re- size the layout of the website when viewed on a smaller device. This has limitations and relies on the existing page layout to deliver the on-page information, which may not necessarily be in the best order of priority for the user to find what they need.

Layout changes to landing pages may be needed to alter the priority of information based on the research mentioned above. We believe that server-side work is also necessary to reduce image file sizes to ensure the site loads quickly on a mobile phone. Slow loading of websites is one of the major frustrations for users when trying to access websites on their mobile phones.

Summary
As more users access the internet via their mobile phones and tablets, site owners will have to assess the needs of their customers and adapt their websites to meet mobile demand.  Only the most useable, correctly adapted websites will win. If implementation is not done properly you could end up doing more harm than good.

Mark Langston
Google_visitorsWebsite diagnostics

If you want to improve your website and make it more engaging for your visitors, you first need to understand what your visitors are currently doing when they land on your site.

William Lever’s quote “I know half my advertising isn't working, I just don't know which half” does not need to apply to your website because web analytics software can now provide insight into what is working and what is not.

If you are frustrated that you are not getting enough enquiries or orders through your website, your web statistics can help to identify where improvements can be made that will get your visitors to take action. That response could be; picking up the telephone, filling out an enquiry form, signing up to receive regular mailings, requesting free samples and information guides, or buying your products.

Google Analytics

The leading website analytics tool is Google Analytics and your web developers should have installed this or other suitable software on your website to measure a variety of statistics shown below (To any of our clients reading this article, we install Google Analytics as standard on all of our websites. Call me if you do not already have access to these reports).
  • Google_AnalyticsVisits
  • Unique visitors
  • Number of pages viewed per visit
  • Average visit duration
  • Bounce rate
  • Language and location
  • Browser and network used
  • Mobile and tablet usage
  • Google Adwords information linked to account
  • Social interaction
  • Visitor flow
These figures should be the first place to start when looking at ways to improve your website. For example, if your bounce rate is high, then visitors are not finding your home page interesting enough to stay and look around. The bounce rate measures visitors that have landed on your home page and bounced straight off again. You only have a few seconds to engage your visitor and keep them looking around your site.

Likewise, if the average time spent on your site is low and visitors are jumping off at a certain page, this information helps when analysing which pages need additional work doing to them.

Regularly reviewing your website statistics will help you to take the next steps to improving your site and increasing sales.

Mark Langston
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