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Week 5 of 52 – Fresh Content: The Secret Ingredient to your online marketing success

Fresh Content = SuccessA small amount of research into promoting your site with the search engines will always uncover the same simple fact: fresh content on a website = more chance of success with those search engines. Even with Google frequent updates of their search algorithm (the “secret sauce” they use to rank web pages), site content has always a vital factor in determining the way that a site appears in search rankings.

But in addition to this search ranking, the actual content of a website determines its success in the long run for a number of factors. Without the content being of some value to those visiting the site, a web page will quickly lose potential customers and fade into obscurity.

Fresh site content encourages your visitors to return

If the first impressions of your website are positive and the visitor immediately feels that there is benefit in doing so, they may “bookmark” your site for future reference. But what happens when they return in a couple of months and find that the content of the site has not changed and has not been updated? There goes that bookmark!

Adding a Blog to your site allows you to sit down (once a week or once a month) and add fresh information for your site visitors. Adding a Social media (or two) such as Facebook or Twitter can also be of benefit as whenever you post a status update or a tweet, these will be “beamed” straight to your website. Viola – instant content!

But you can’t just post any old information and this leads us to the next point…

Fresh content provides value to your Site Visitors (for free!)

Your fresh content could be in the form of a Blog (originally known as web-log). In a blog, businesses could easily discuss industry relevant news such as the latest technologies being implemented. Alternatively, the Blog could the form of problem solving advice and tips (just like this one!). Or it could simply outline the movers and shakers in the company that month. Whatever the Blog’s theme, the most important factor is to provide the site visitor with information that they will value and return for more in the future.

Browsing through business websites, it’s clear that many have chosen this option however it is also apparent that most blogs are drastically out of date. I must admit that I was also guilty of an outdated blog. This neglect has been the impetus for the 52 week blog challenge I have given myself and, although it is only week five, seems to be giving me the motivation to sit down each week and share some “love” with my site’s visitors.

Valued Content = More Site Visitors = More Chance of Conversion

Fresh Content helps builds your personal brand as a KPI in your industry

Although the acronym KPI stands for “Key Performance Indicator”, it has also evolved to represent “Key Person of Influence” in business circles, both here and abroad. In order to become a “real” KPI, a business person must position their personal brand as a leader in their particular industry, a person for others to look to when they need advice or services.

To do this, a KPI must project their knowledge on the masses. What better place to do that than on your own website? With an adequate Social Media plan, any aspiring KPI’s could Blog, tweet and Facebook their way into the minds of their peers and prospective customers. Once again, the content of the site must be relevant, professional and project authority in the information that it presents.

This is a long-term strategy, not something that can be done overnight. But the entire process, whether KPI or not, will lead to higher quality content on the website and this can only be good for the online marketing of your business.

Conclusion

When a business fails to keep their website content current, they are diminishing the entire point of having a site in the first place. Admittedly, Bob’s Mowing Services probably isn’t going to have a lot of content to put online in the first place, let alone keep it fresh. But Bob’s search engine position isn’t as important as he probably has a fixed geographical range. On the other hand, a business that sells products or professional services online is automatically in competition with potentially thousands of other companies around the world. In this situation, it is paramount that their content be kept fresh and relevant to those potential clients who seek their services or products. Not only does fresh content make a business easier to find in the search engines but it increases the chances of a sales conversion.

Week 4 of 52 – Looks aren’t everything (especially in the online world)

Looks aren't everything“Looks aren’t everything. Looks fade, but character remains.”
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Let’s face the facts, everyone knows a good looking website will grab your attention straight away. If it is striking to look at with engaging colours and flair, then we most likely will drop in for a closer inspection. But if that site (and its associated business) has no apparent brand character and it doesn’t try to engage with us, that visit to the site may be quite short. We quickly remember that we are visiting for a particular reason and any site that fails to recognise this, going for appearances alone, will lose out on many potential customers.

There are a number of items that need to be taken into consideration whilst building and maintaining a successful business website. Read on and determine whether your site has character and purpose or just shallow “good looks”…

Don’t overwhelm your visitors with information

Some websites are far too wordy for their own good. “Short and sweet” should be the general rule of thumb with text content, and sometimes imagery, on a site. Your site visitors are not there to read the entirety of “War and Peace” about your business. Just give them the information that they need in short concise paragraphs, being sure not to leave out any vital details in the process.
Try to use a language that is engaging (not robotic). As I write this marketing blog post, I am actually speaking it as I type, trying to keep a professional tone balanced with a friendly style (I like to think of myself as a friendly kind of person). Try to be helpful in the information that you share so that potential customers, even if they don’t buy, come away with positive vibes about your business. You never know who they might send your way.

The Hook and Call to Action

We have all seen the cheap and nasty commercials on TV – SALE, SALE, SALE, BUY, BUY, BUY – like those for Super Amart or cheesy rug warehouses. Please don’t try and replicate this on your site! The main difference between the two mediums is we don’t choose what advertisements appear while we watch “My Kitchen Rules” (or whatever your TV poison might be). We do choose what websites we visit.

Try to avoid the hard sell, instead, lead your potential customers towards a sale through the form of some type of engaging story (quality TV ads use this methodology too). An online pool sales website might tell the story of a young family looking for an escape from the summer heat. A business in computer sales to young people may discuss the latest games and the hardware needed to play them. My new portfolio (coming soon…) will display my latest sites and the motivation behind their construction.

Once you have told the story and (hopefully) hooked the customer on what you have to offer, make sure it is blatantly easy to purchase from you. This will involve a distinct “Call to Action” somewhere on the page. Click here to read one of my previous blogs all about Calls to Action. They are vital to making the transition from potential customer into actual customer.

Use a consistent brand message

Make sure the tone of your site fits in with the image that you are trying to project to your prospects. Some web designers love to show off their skills, producing out-of-this-world proposals that might not exactly fit the desired brand message. For example, a website for a business that sells baby furniture would not suit a “grunge” style design, even though it might look fantastic.

Along these lines, be sure that whatever website design you create ties in with the current branding you have used in the past. I’m a firm believer that a site should work with the layout designs of your business cards, stationery, emails, signage, etc. When building a new site, you may opt to completely re-do all the above but ensure that that the message and style from each is consistent with the business’ brand.

Conclusion

While you are creating or adjusting your site, always keep in the front of your mind why people are seeking out and coming to your business. A potential customer is there to find out what you are all about, what you can offer them and how they can get it from you. They are most definitely not there to say “Wow, pretty website!” so make your site worthy of their visit.

 

Week 3 of 52 – Why Teens leaving Facebook could be great for Business

FacebookResearch has found that a huge chunk of Facebook’s user base has started to desert the popular social platform in droves. Recognised by Facebook’s own C.F.O. David Ebersman in October 2013, this information has now been backed up by the 2014 Facebook Demographic Report created by digital marketing agency, iStrategyLabs.

According to the report, over three million teenagers have left Facebook in the past three years and that number continues to grow. In contrast, relatively new kids on the block, Snapchat and Instagram, appear to be growing user numbers at an extraordinary rate.

Facebook does not appear to be too worried about this data and neither should you, as the social media savvy small business owner.

Why?

Let’s face it, previously with so many teenagers on board, Facebook has had an image problem with a large percentage of adults who have chosen to stay away from the platform. This is largely due to bad press that Facebook generates and the media’s influence on the decision-making choices of our adult population.

To be truthful, you rarely hear of the positive side of the Facebook network. Online bullying is rife, teen suicides have been attributed to Facebook attacks and even here, in my home town of Innisfail, there have been huge family feuds/fights all based around what has been written to Facebook.

However, the winds of change are beginning to blow across the Facebook platform and it appears that the demographic is starting to mature. In the same timeframe that saw those three million teenagers leave, Facebook has gained 28 million adults in the in the age bracket 25-54.

This can only be good for your business.

These adults represent the majority of any target market for any business. Children and teenagers definitely have influence on purchases in a household, but the most potential for sales in products and services always lies with the adults – the ones with the real money to invest or purchase from your business.

And with so many more adults coming onboard the Facebook juggernaut, it will continue to grow at a phenomenal rate as the word gets around. For any business utilising Facebook, this will mean that they are more likely to hit the demographic that will actually buy their product. Facebook advertising will no longer be hit and miss.

Facebook is already used as a powerful marketing tool for the teen market. Now, with the increase of adult users, it has a chance to become a serious contender in the same way with the “more-mature” side of the purchasing public. Although there is still room for improvement, don’t be mistaken into thinking that Facebook is going to “fade away” any time soon.

Week 2 of 52 – No such thing as a Free Lunch!

Free LunchAnybody active on social media will have seen the advertisements for the free online website builders such as Wix, Webs and Weebly. At first glance, their offerings actually seem quite reasonable. Most offer plenty of space for a business site along with seemingly easy to use interfaces at no cost at all to the user. Surely it’s a great way to get online quickly?

If we take a closer examination of these sites, their setup reveals a different story.

“Hold on, Hold on…” you must be saying, “Aren’t you a web designer?”

Yes, but if you read on, I have some very valid points that may keep you away from using these sites as an option for your business.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch!”

That is definitely the case here. All the free options from these online website builders require that your site gets “branded” somewhere with their logo, not just your own. Some sites are slightly less conspicuous than others but nevertheless, it does look a little un-professional to have someone else’s logo adorning your business site. To remove the logo in most cases, you must join a paid version of the site.

The Optional Extras all add up

Items that are not included in the free setup will also add to the cost of the website for the business owner (special features, plug-ins, extra space, extra bandwidth, etc). Even the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site will generally need to be paid for and without this important factor taking care of; no-one might find your business online in the first place.
The original free option suddenly does seem so free after all.

Ownership of the Site

You must also be aware that the site is retained on their servers, not yours – so regardless of how much sweat, tears and effort you put into the site, they retain control. If you decide to move away from the service provider, you most probably will not be able to take your site with you and that means you will have to start from scratch. In addition, if you have registered your domain name with them and it isn’t a .com.au – you will have an absolute nightmare trying to regain control of that domain.

Stand out from the crowd

All the bells and whistles in the world (if you pay for them) still don’t make up for the fact that, whatever you produce will not be unique just to your business. Online website builders rely heavily on the use of design templates. So even if they offer one hundred different designs, chances are that the most attractive and useful to you will also be very popular with other users.

Your business is unique, regardless of what field you are operating in. Therefore, your site needs to be unique and personally tailored to your business. It needs to cater for every aspect of your online presence. You “might” be able to customize these online templates to suit – but then another question arises – do you, as the business owner, actually have the time to devote learning the ropes and creating the site that your business needs?

Save the headache – use a real Website Designer

And this is the #1 reason why businesses are still choosing to use a professional website designer to create their online presence. It is our job to make you look good on the internet, cater for all aspects of your business online and provide a professional service that ensures that the journey online is as stress-free as possible.

Depending on your requirements, a free website may just be what you need however if you need flexibility, originality, a site that caters specifically for your website and you don’t have the time to worry about your online presence, let us take care of it for you. That’s what we do!

Additional Note: It has been reported recently that the use of online website builders for some businesses has resulted in the spamming of their clients! This could be a PR disaster in the making – the client could receive the spam from you and then you may cop the wrap for it! Beware!

 

 

 

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design