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#BeSmart when using #Hashtags

How to use a HashtagTwitter, the 140 word social media platform, has been with us since 2006 and one could excused for thinking that the #hashtag has been with us just as long. However the first tweets that featured a #hashtag actually appeared a year later when user Chris Messina decided to create a method of grouping like-minded tweets into the same clusters.

Nowadays, the #hashtag is an integral part of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and even Facebook. It can be used as a powerful tool for online marketing and any business owner who wants to drive their social media marketing on to success need to master their usage.

Choosing the right #hashtag to engage with your target audience needs some thought and practice. They are very similar to the keywords that are used in conjunction with search engines to find a website, if the wrong words are chosen then the results won’t point towards your business and you risk losing potential clients.

Thankfully, it is not too hard to select #hashtags that will work for you. Here’s some simple items to consider when using #hashtags on your Social Media marketing:

  • Ensure that the #hashtag is relevant to the topic. Don’t be obtuse.
  • Take a look around the web and use #hashtags that are already in circulation. This doesn’t mean that you can’t create your own but commonly used tags have already got a “readership”.
  • When creating unique #hashtags, use words that will directly link back to your business. For example, if I were tagging marketing memes, I could start a “trend” with #rustysmarketingmemes. Watch that you don’t be too broad, as tags can be hijacked, leading to detrimental effects for your business.

The perfect mix for #hashtags in any single Social Media commentary is between one and two. Any more and research has shown there is a 17% drop in engagement. That said, #hashtags in your tweets, posts and pins increase the chances of your message being passed along to others.

At the end of the day, as with any Social Media, there is an inherent risk involved. Don’t share anything in your posts (along with those hashtags) that may have a negative effect on your business or personal life. Think before you post/tweet.

As already stated, the #hashtag is a powerful tool and can be made to work for your business. Smart companies like Black Milk Clothing have built themselves successfully through smart Social Media marketing and there is no reason other businesses can’t follow in their footsteps. Integrate a Social Media plan featuring the use of clever #hashtags with your regular business website and help your online traffic grow.

 

Five easy ways to decrease your site’s bounce rate

Decrease your bounce rateYou have a website – and the statistics look good.

At first glance.

As you delve into the pile of numbers that are part and parcel of any website’s statistics, you may find that although people are coming to your site, they are not staying very long – at all.

If this is the case, your site has a bounce rate problem.

For the novice, the bounce rate is the number (usually a percentage) of your site visitors that leave your site immediately after arriving. Now, there could be any number of reasons for this however none of them are good for your business. The aim of any good website is to retain visitors and make them into loyal customers – they should want to stay on your site but when they do leave, you know that they will come back.

Below are five (fairly) quick fixes to help you get that bounce rate down.

Fix #1 – Reduce the amount of time it takes to load your site

If your site is heavily loaded with content, it can take some time to load on a visitor’s computer/mobile. Add to that all the bangs and whistles that make a site look “pretty” and you risk losing them before they even see the content! A general rule of thumb is that the majority of information on your webpage should be loaded within five seconds (this used to be ten in the “old” days”).

Fix #2 – Make your Navigation Menu user friendly

Websites with only a few pages have this one already sorted – their menus are generally uncluttered and users can find what they want fairly easily. But what if your site has dozens of pages to sift through? Website visitors can easily be put off by a menu system that has too many options.

The solution is quite simple – group your pages into common categories and create a base menu using these. Then, with the help of a pop-out menu, you can then add all the other pages underneath.

If your site does have a lot of pages, be sure to include a site map in your footer because some visitors may head  straight for this.

Fix #3 – Ensure that your Call to Action is highly visible

Your Call to Action (CTA) is all important to your website. If the site doesn’t have a clear CTA, why is it online in the first place? Your visitors need to be able to find this with no trouble at all – if anything, it should be one of the most predominant items on any page – as easy to find as your logo!

If a site visitor can’t find a way to interact with or purchase from you, they’ll go somewhere else and up goes your Bounce Rate!

Fix #4 – Check that your site is mobile responsive

If your site is over five years old, chances are that it may not be mobile responsive. This means that your website appears exactly the same on a mobile or tablet as it does on a full sized computer. In turn, this makes your content too hard to see without zooming in – something that mobile users hate to do when browsing the web.

Never fear, this doesn’t always mean that a whole site rebuild is required. There a number of options available in most cases – just contact your website developer for more information (or Rusty Mango Design).

Fix #5 – Tidy up that old, messy website

Whenever I start a new design for a client, I always take the time and cruise the internet looking at other websites in the same industry – just to see what is out there. Sometimes, I am astounded by the poor quality presented as professional websites. Some sites look like they have been there since the 90’s!

If your website does not convey your business brand as professional and “can do”, then it is unlikely to grab any potential customers, just on its appearance. Upgrade your site design and watch for the difference in response. If you look like you know what you doing, you are halfway to getting that client on-board.

 

Finally, according to statistics, you only have 50 milliseconds (that’s five hundredths of a second) to make a good impression with your website.  And as everyone knows, a good first impression can last a lifetime.

Take look at your site with fresh eyes (better yet – get someone else with fresh eyes) and have a look at the repairs suggested’here.

Does your bounce rate need a bit of a fixer-upper?

I’ve got a new website for my business – now what?

I’ve got a new website for my business – now what?Although the internet and it’s billions of websites have been around for quite a few years now, some small business operators still fail to grasp how vastly different an online store is to a conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ site. With the latter, a physical site is set up that all passer-bys can see it; both while it’s under construction and afterwards, when the doors are thrown open for customers for the first time.

With an online store, the construction is done under a “veil of secrecy” but when it’s finished and ready, most site owners automatically expect a flow of traffic through the virtual front door. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. People need to know that the site actually exists before they can visit it!

Google doesn’t help – it can often take two to three weeks for a site to get listed on search results and even then, you may not even make the first page.

So here is my advice, don’t wait for Google – promote that new site of yours right now with the following tips:

Tip #1 – Build your website marketing into your conventional promotions

This simple tip is often overlooked because some business owners believe that a website is marketed through online methods only.

Not true.

Start getting ready for your site’s launch by updating all your promotional materials – business cards, brochures, roadside signs, clothing, pens, company cars,  exterior signage, invoices, everything.  Anywhere that a current client sees your business name should have the new web address in bold lettering.

If you live a smaller town as I do, get your local newspaper on board for the launch. For a relatively small cost, you can grab some great exposure with an editorial feature. Often these include a half-page “story” on your new site with the other half-page including an advertisement with all your details.

Tip #2 – Utilise your Social Media presence

One of the great advantages that Social Media has over Google is the instant gratification that it gives to every one of our updates, pins, posts or tweets. We don’t have to wait for the search engines to index and archive our information – it is instantly out there.
This makes it ideal for promoting a brand new site.

Most of us already have a Social Media presence so why not use that to your site’s advantage. Announce to all and sundry that you have a new online store and ask your social media “friends” to pass on the news.

Don’t leave it at that though – make sure you create a plan and use your Social Media power to drive everything that your site does. Running a pizza shop with online ordering? Hold instant competitions (like my friends at Roscoes Innisfail) to boost slow nights. Got a brand new outfit in your e-commerce boutique? Get one your staff to model it and post it on Instagram and Pinterest. Offering free shipping for today from your e-store? Get the word out instantly with a tweet on Twitter.

Tip #3 – Create Fresh Content for your site.

I know – you’ve just opened the doors on your online store. So why do you need fresh content straight away? Simply because Google likes sites with fresh, distinctive content and without it, things can go stale very quickly. Pre-empt this by having a content plan for how you are going to update your website on a regular bases. Sit down and plan out articles for your store’s blog (try five for a start) and schedule one for release every week. If you don’t have a blog, you could be missing out on a massive opportunity to define your site as an industry leader.

When you are creating blog topics, be sure to think from a customer’s point of view – write a list of the top 10 questions that your customer’s have and blog an article about each. Include keywords that relate to your online business and this will ensure that the Google and Bing “bots” will keep coming back to your site every time you post new content.

Conclusion

Try out those three tips and will be giving your e-commerce store a red-hot start in its online “life”. Don’t procrastinate and wait for people to find you – get out there and “grab the bull by the horns.” A site owner is in absolute control of the future (and potential success) of their online business. It won’t happen by itself – hard yakka is required!

Now – go and give your new site (or old one) a real boost into the new year of 2015!

What essentials do you need on your Front Page?

Front Page EssentialsThe Rusty Mango Design site has been in action in its current form for just over two years, so utilising the Christmas/New Year’s break, I have decided to give it a fresh new look. In doing so, I must remember that potential customers (prospects) will be coming to the home page in search of a few key items. If those items are not readily available (ie hidden or obscure), the bounce rate of people leaving the site will be fairly high.

To prevent this, I am integrating those key items into the planning of the new design right from the very beginning. I’ve sat down with a pencil and paper, (I know – how old fashioned of me!) and I have sketched out and written down those features which must be included. Let’s take a look at what should be seen on an effective home page.

Distinct Branding and Contact Information

This one is a no-brainer. Make sure that as soon as anyone hits your site, they can see immediately who you are and how they can contact you. Get your logo in the all familiar position at the top left of your page (that’s where you look for it, isn’t it?) and have a phone or clickable email up there too – possibly in the top right corner. Easy to see and act on.

Call to Action

In website marketing, a Call to Action (CTA) is a predominant item somewhere on a page that provokes the site visitor to gain an immediate response. Usually the CTA utilises action verbs such as “Call Us Now”, “Click here to find out more” or “visit our online-store”.

The CTA must be easily visible so that it attracts attention and get a response. On the new site for Rusty Mango Design, the CTA is in the main header for each page:

  • Get a CMS Website.
  • Build an online Store.
  • Boost your site traffic.

These are the three keys services that I offer and I want prospective customers to find which service they require immediately.

Essential Information

Grab that pencil and paper again and think about the information your clients need to know about you straight away?

  • Do you have a strict geographic area that you work within?
  • What are the services that you provide?
  • If you provide professional services, prospective clients may need some information on your experience and background.

Stick to the K.I.S.S. principle – keep it short and simple. If your site visitors wish to expand on the basic information that you have provided on the front page, include links to the pages with the expanded details.

Clear Navigation

Don’t overload your site visitors with a gazillion options in regards to navigation around your site. Keep any menus in their familiar positions (i.e. in the header or left side bar). When site designers get a little too inventive with the placement of components, confusion can often set in with site users.

Keep your menu options to a basic level – maybe utilising dropdown menus if you want to allow quick movement to content elsewhere on the site.

Conclusion

With those things in mind, I have created a “fresh” design and I will be launching the new look Rusty Mango site in the next week or so. Keep tuned for that!

In the meantime, take a long look at your site’s front page and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there enough information? Or is there too much?
  • Does it encourage further exploration into the site?
  • Can a prospect interact directly with me form this page or will they have to dig deeper to do so?

If you need any help with the above, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We can discuss those very questions and create a front page that will get you attention!

 

How to make your website #1 for your clients in 2015

How to make your website #1 for your clients in 2015The New Year has been ushered with a flash of fireworks and cheers of excitement. People around the world will be opening their bleary eyes with the hazy promises of New Year’s resolutions swimming in their heads. Most of these will be along the lines of losing weight, getting fit or maybe saving more money; all personally focused ideals.

So how about a couple of New Year’s resolutions for your business website?

Maybe the site hasn’t performed up to your expectations in 2014. Perhaps you didn’t get the bottom line via your site that you hoped for. Or is it sitting dormant and not doing a thing for the customers that it is supposed to attract?

There’s no time like New Years to take a good look at your site and resolve to make it into a site that your clients really need. Here’s three tips to make it their #1 choice when searching for anything in your industry.

Tip #1: Create helpful and informative content

Take a look at your site content and make sure that your site offers more to its visitors than just items or services for sale. Statistics have shown that a site that provides helpful and informative content has a lower bounce rate (people who bounce in and out) and a higher conversion of visits to sales.

Your content could include a blog (just like this one), how-to videos (embedded from your YouTube account) or downloadable fact sheets. There are a multitude of ways that you can help your clients – choose something that is suitable to your industry.

Tip #2: Make it easy to find your site in Google

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is no longer the realm of the experts. Sure, they may be able to squeeze out those last couple of places but with easy-to-use plugins such as Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO, page optimisation can be done quickly and easily. In most cases, it can be done when the new content is being created.

Just by adding a simple description of the content and a few carefully chosen keywords to every page, you increase the chances of the content being found on Google. And by improving your chances of your information being found, you are making it easier for people to actually find it.

And that, ultimately, is the whole purpose of SEO.

Tip #3: Get your Social Media happening

Here I go again – harping on about Social Media. I still firmly believe that the secret to success behind most websites is an integrated Social Media approach. If you can make people like your business through your Facebook posts or Twitter tweets (or whatever your poison), then the chances of them visiting your site increase tenfold.

You can use Social Media to help your clients find what they want with the implementation of a carefully planned approach. Whilst building a new ecommerce store recently, I came across a number of ways to use a social presence to make any site an essential visit to prospective customers.

  • Integrate a Wish List system into your ecommerce store. Customers visit the site and create a wish list which they then post to their Facebook page for others to purchase for them. Very helpful for prospective mothers and brides-to-be (as a couple of examples).
  • Utilise a Social Media login for regular customers (i.e. people can use their username and password from Facebook, Google+, etc. to login). Saves the needs to invent a new login for every site a person visits – no-one likes to do this!
  • Integrate Instagram tags into with product pages so that whenever a customer displays your product on their Instagram account (using the tag), it automatically appears on that product’s page. Great for clothing sites – your clothes can be seen on everyday people just like you and me as opposed to the models that may be used on the site. Check out Black Milk Clothing for a great example of this.

If you can get those three strategies under your belt early on in 2015, you have put yourself in good stead for the remainder of the year. As any seasoned website owner or manager will know from experience, running and maintaining a successful website is not a “cake walk”, you must constantly monitor a multitude of site components to ensure that your site is working as you want it to. Running a website is hard work.

With a New Year’s Resolution using the above tips, your website is on its way to becoming the site that your clients really need.

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design