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.
 
 
 
 
 

23rd March 2018
Clients often tell me that the hardest element of putting together information for their website is writing the content.

Understandably, clients want to write the content themselves because they know their business and it saves the cost of employing a copywriter. However, what they often overlook is the time and effort that is needed to write copy when you are not a regular copywriter.

This time can often be better spent developing ideas to generate more traffic to the new website and therefore increasing sales. Good copywriters can save you a lot of time and can often bring a more constructive view of your business to the content.

There is another important reason why copywriting website content should be left to the experts; keywords and key phrases. These are the words and phrases that describe your products or services and are being used by your customers on search engines to find what they are looking for. If you have not done research to find out how many searches are being done for your keywords, your pages will not be attracting the most valuable searches.

Copywriting_website_contentKeyword copywriting and content marketing
Do you know how many searches are being done on your keywords or what keywords your competitors are using?

If your competitors are being found for high performing keywords and are above you in page rankings, these are the keywords you need to incorporate into your own pages.

Using industry standard software, we can find out a range of information such as:
  • Where your competitors are positioned for the most valuable keywords.
  • What keywords they use to rank on Google.
  • What keywords they consider to be important.
  • How competitive the keywords are.
The software also provides us with invaluable information to help optimise your web pages.

When you write your content, you should include your keywords on the page in a balanced way; too many repeated in a small amount of copy and you will be penalised for spamming. Your copy should be interesting and easy to read; write for your audience first, then for the search engines.

If you want to (or must) write the content yourself, subscribing to one of the many proprietary software tools provides you with a definite advantage over your competitors and will make your time spent at the keyboard more productive.

Alternatively, save the subscription and the time and pay a content marketer to do it for you.

Give me a call on 01584 890725 to find out how to get a better return on your time and invest in content that will help grow your business.

Mark Langston
 
 
Are you looking for a new website for your business or thinking about a design refresh?

Do you know which is the best build and management option for your needs?

Website_CMSHere are the pros and cons of the 3 options depending on (1) the time you have available, (2) Your technical knowledge, (3) Your budget and (4) how you want to manage your site in future.

The 3 options are:
  • Website builders.
  • Open source website builders.
  • Bespoke build.
To help you make an informed choice, let’s go through the details with the pros and cons of each.

Website builders
Website builders such as SiteBuilder, Wix and SquareSpace provide a platform to enable you to build and manage your own website. They are suitable if you have the time to spend choosing from the many website builder systems on the market, learning how to use the interface and then building your website using their system.

Pros
  1. You can build and edit the website yourself.
  2. You must choose from the design templates available.
  3. Most provide one free domain name and one email account.
  4. Website hosting is usually included in the monthly cost.
  5. Cheap option.
Cons
  1. It can take a lot of time to learn the system and manage everything yourself.
  2. Design is limited to the design templates available and they will look like a lot of other sites.
  3. Technical skills may be needed to do more complex designs and page layouts.
  4. You may have to compromise on quality, depending on your technical skills.
  5. Limited functionality available in the system; this may not meet your future needs.
  6. Not always suitably optimised for viewing on mobile phones.
  7. Not fully optimised for search engines (SEO).
Choose if you have plenty of time, are not too concerned about the quality and are working with a small budget. This may be your first website when starting up a new business.

Open source website builders
The most popular open source website builders are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Similar to website builders, these content management systems (CMS) are more flexible than simple website builders and allow you to add a range of “plugins” for example, photo gallery, document library or booking system etc.

You will need to register a domain name, host the website on a server and build your website in the system. If you have the necessary skills you can do this yourself but generally, you will need the support of a developer to get your website up and running and hosted on a server. Future changes can then be made by you, using the CMS.

Pros
  1. Design templates are available for you to choose from.
  2. Your developer is on hand to support you if you need more complex changes and updates within the template.
  3. Multiple functionality plugins are available.
  4. Easy to move your website to another developer.
  5. SEO plugin available.
  6. Responsive mobile optimisation.
Cons
  1. You will probably need a developer to build the site unless you have the necessary skills.
  2. Design is limited to the design templates available and will not be unique.
  3. Security. The CMS is known to hackers so constant up dates are required which can sometimes affect the website. Plugins are even more vulnerable to attack.
  4. Plugins are created by different developers and may not be compatible with your website. This can cause problems as the site is being built and in the future.
  5. Your developer may not always keep on top of updates and may charge you if anything breaks as a result of an update.
Choose if you don’t need a unique looking website design and you are confident that your developer will keep the security updated and fix any ensuing problems; check the ongoing cost for doing this.

Bespoke build
Discuss your requirements with a web development agency, they take your brief, think about what is needed and produce a unique design and website functionality that meets the exact needs of your business.

They probably use their own CMS and will be able to include any functionality you need such as photo gallery, document library or booking system etc.

Pros
  1. You get a professional looking, unique website from your web agency.
  2. Support and advice is available.
  3. Tried and tested CMS which is intuitive and user friendly.
  4. Secure and stable platform because code is unknown to hackers.
  5. Because the CMS is developed in-house, any additional requirements can be met at the build stage or in the future.
  6. Built to be SEO ready as standard.
  7. Responsive or adaptive mobile optimisation.
Cons
  1. Not a DIY option.
  2. May not be the cheapest option.
  3. More difficult to move to a new provider, though not impossible.
Choose if you value your time and would rather be working on sales than your website. You want to stand out from your competitors and get the maximum conversions from your website.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail before you decide which option is best for you, please call us.

We will provide a free unbiased opinion, even if the best option for you is the DIY route.

 

Website-planningOver the years we have gained many clients who have contacted us because their website was, in the words of one, "a bit of a mess".

It’s a sad fact that many businesses spend a lot of time and money on their website and get poor results or worse, websites that don’t work properly.

From our experience, the 10 mistakes to avoid are:

1. Trying to Build your own website
You can use website builders to produce your site; however, if you have not used the interface before, it can be a long process and the results you get are still not great. Your time would be better spent selling your services or products and increasing sales.

2. Getting a friend of a friend to do it in their spare time
This will seem like a good idea at the time but you may find they are not available to keep your site maintained, or even contactable in the future.

3. Not considering security and hacking
Where your website is being hosted and what software is being used to build it is paramount to the security of your website. Off-the-shelf open source products such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are well known to hackers. A bespoke CMS (Content Management System) is more secure because it is unknown and the code is not publicly available.

4. Thinking all domain name hosts are the same
There are hundreds of domain name hosting companies. Selecting the cheapest is not always the best option. Either you or whoever builds your website will need access to change settings and possibly transfer the domain to a new provider in the future. Some control panels are not very user friendly and other providers charge for transfers. Support can also be limited, so it is wise to go with a reputable supplier.

5. Writing your own words
If you find it laborious putting finger to keyboard to write about your business, then you should probably get a copy writer to craft the content for your web pages. It will save you time and they will be more objective about what your business can offer.

6. Not thinking about how your visitors will navigate your site
Your website needs to have impact and hold visitor’s attention to get them to a point where they can act. UX design (user experience), page layout, calls to action and photographs can all help to improve conversion rates.

7. Not taking time to plan your site
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. Taking time to establish your goals and develop a wire frame before design and build starts will pay dividends in the long term.

8. Not researching your target market
Do you know whether your audience will be more likely to visit your website using a mobile phone or a desktop computer? Age and profession of your customers may determine how your website needs to look and perform on a variety of devices.

9. Ignoring advice from the professionals
Web developers, like any other professionals, are experts in their field. If you ask for something that will not work across all browsers and devices, a good developer will explain why it won’t work and provide alternative solutions. There are usually very good reasons that you may not have considered. Always check your web developer’s credentials and their own website before you choose who to work with.

10. Not considering how you will market your website after launch
Build it and they will come no longer applies in our crowded online market place. You need to think about how you will deliver traffic to your website.

For more information, download our FREE Guide to web design and online marketing at the bottom of the page.

Website design has changed significantly over the years and is constantly evolving as our use of the web via different devices increases.

Web-design-and-user-interfaceA web designer will consider a number of factors that will determine the navigation, layout and placement of content on a website to get the desired action from the user.

You may have noticed that modern web designs generally follow a similar theme these days. There is a good reason for this. From studies on user interface and the use of eye tracking software, we now understand what attracts a viewer’s eyes and where they tend to look first. We can then make sure the important information such as menu and calls to action are placed within these areas.

There are other factors to consider, such as how search engines will rank your web pages from the content and keywords on the page. The headings and where they are placed will influence which keywords search engines will prioritise and rank your page for.

These are the stages a designer will go through when developing your new website:

Research
  • Competitors.
  • Keywords (software is available to help with this).
  • What makes your business unique in your market?
  • Visitor analysis if you have an existing website (use Google Analytics, if installed).
Site map, navigation and wireframe
  • What do you want to communicate?
  • Plan the navigation and pages needed.
  • Consider content for each page, text and images.
  • It is more efficient to design around your content than fit your content into a design.
  • Create a wireframe for your website.
Copywriting and keywords
  • Identify best performing keywords.
  • Include keywords in your headers and your content.
  • Break down information into bite sized chunks with sub headings.
  • Write a new page for each subject and set of keywords.
  • Select suitable images to complement and break up large areas of text.
Engage and convert
  • What are your main messages?
  • What do you do, how do you do it?
  • Required call to action: sign up, telephone call, gather information or email?
  • Testimonials, reviews or case studies to back up your content.
Search Engine Optimisation
  • Build your site to the latest web standards.
  • Develop the site to ensure search engines can crawl all of your pages.
  • Check for errors and site issues before going live.
  • Continuous research and improvements to pages and content.
  • Measure and monitor keywords and site rankings.
Your input is valuable at every stage to of the design process. Whether you decide to write the content yourself and supply images or hire a copywriter and photographer, you should always have the final approval on how your business is presented on the World Wide Web.

Mark Langston
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