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Top Digital Marketing Mishaps and How to Solve Them

4 Jan

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Digital marketing has come a long way over the last few years. Big data means businesses have more data-driven insights than ever before, which translates to quality relationships with customers and (hopefully) increased conversions along with a better bottom line.

While digital marketing continues to improve and empower the way businesses interact with their customers online, the process doesn’t come without its challenges.

We’ve compiled a list of marketing mishaps that are most likely to frustrate your customer—along with our proposed solutions:

1. Dead-End Pages

Simply having an informative website presence is no longer enough. These days, it’s all about interaction, and it’s absolutely critical to actively create an ongoing relationship with site visitors in order to get the most out of your website investment. This doesn’t mean that you should hound potential customers with “Buy It Now” pop-ups, but your site should offer a convenient method for customers to act on the information they find—even if only by taking advantage of strategically placed contact forms or opt-ins for special event information, social updates, and discounts.

Offering something of value in exchange for contact information is another great way to build your email list—think in terms of white papers or free eBooks that offer solutions to a common customer problem.

2. Broken Links and 404 Errors

There are few things more frustrating to a consumer who is looking for something specific than “Page Not Found” …especially when that link comes from somewhere on your site. Rather than sending your visitors away frustrated and empty-handed, consider deploying a 404-page template designed to offer a lighthearted explanation for the broken link, along with an actionable response – think links to functional pages, email opt-ins, and even an option to submit a ticket.

3. Inconsistency

Inconsistencies throughout your messaging may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to the overall customer experience, they can really add up. For instance, if you refer to a sale price in an email blast—but your website shopping cart displays the original price, and the fine print reveals that the sale price is only applicable if the visitor purchases a year’s worth of services—your potential customer might go from feeling slightly annoyed to completely mislead. And they may not be a potential customer anymore.

Being consistent in your messaging is critical to establishing brand trust. Before starting a new campaign, be sure to outline your core value proposition, your regular and promotional pricing schedule, any relevant taglines, and all potential variations as to how you’ll refer to your product or service throughout the campaign. Keep this master document handy for reference any time you consider launching a new part of your strategy.

4. Outdated Content

Few things make a business look more out of touch than a website full of references to past events, unavailable live webinars, and outdated company news.

Links to your website’s event pages don’t expire when the event is over. Whether your customers find their way via a trade show blast, a colleague’s blog post, or even through organic search—if the page hasn’t been updated or removed, it will leave a not-so-great impression that you aren’t staying on top of things.

Of course, if these pages are generating traffic, you don’t want to delete them. Consider these options instead:

Update the page. Modify the message, change the call to action, and offer something current and of value.

Redirect the page. Point your visitors to your event calendar for the remainder of the year, or to another upcoming event. This way, you don’t lose valuable traffic and you keep your messaging current and useful for your customer.

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4 Questions Small Businesses Should Ask About Your Website

16 May

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In some ways, the features that make a website a good website vary from one small business to the next. Every small business serves a unique market, and your website should reflect that. But there are a few key basics that every small business should demand in their website regardless of market if you want to be competitive in your market.

Whether you already have a website or are thinking of getting a new one, these are the key questions you should be asking:

 

  1. SEO?  While optimizing your site so it appears high on the list of results that search engines return for their users may sound easy, it’s actually fairly complicated—especially because search engines like Google are constantly changing things to perfect their search algorithm. Are you positive your website is optimized for SEO best practices.
  2. Leads?  Can you prove your website is driving leads for your business? If not, it can be almost impossible for you to understand its cost vs. value. Like any other investment you make as a small business, the numbers should add up. Make sure your site includes a system that allows prospects to enter their information to ask for services and assistance. Lastly, look into pay-per-click (PPC) for your website and determine whether your site has the built-in capabilities to prove where the leads are coming from.
  3. Copy?  Words matter, and they especially matter on your website. So what is your website saying about you? Have you personalized it for your market? Does it convey what makes your company unique and special? Does it make a potential customer trust you? And lastly, are you leveraging keywords effectively so you show up first—and not your local competitors—when potential customers go searching for the products and services you offer?
  4. Products and services?  Does your website effectively display the products and/or services you offer? Are you able to quickly and easily update your site to reflect what is current? If not, are you showing your customers outdated products or services no longer available? Today’s customers want to be able to research their options—this is an easy but important opportunity for you to be their partner in getting the product information they need.

 

And lastly, a bonus question—do you have a website at all? If not, why don’t you? Better yet, if you have a website, are you putting resources into promoting it via PPC and other services that make you stand out against competitors?

As more and more people turn to the internet to not only find service providers, but to do research and find someone they trust, it becomes that much more important for you to have a strong web presence.

The truth is, if you’re failing any one of these questions, you could potentially be sending potential business prospects to your competitors, even if these prospects would typically already be inclined towards your brand. That’s why it’s important to ask questions regarding your website, whether it’s new or old.

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Wireframing: Yes, You Can! (And Should)

5 Oct

The Blueprint for Web Success

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Guest Contributor:
Bradley Williamson, Interactive Developer

In putting together a new website or app, there are many business decisions to be made along the way. Sometimes businesses are tempted by change for the sake of change, adding in tech just because it’s cool, or a “modern” design just because it’s trendy.

But if your website is neither functional nor user-friendly, it’s not going to increase sales, traffic, or conversions. Though there is a time and a place for focusing on fanciful designs and flashing animations, the heart and soul of your web user experience is what matters, and wireframing can begin to solidify that. Build from a blueprint using these tips, and your website will be fleshed out with purposeful simplicity.

Wireframing 101

A wireframe is a basic, visual concept of a user interface that defines key user goals and content hierarchy. Often, they’re unrefined sketches or concepts made on grid paper, whiteboards, desktop programs, and other web-based tools. There is no perfect way to perform this vital step.

Wireframes are done with “block diagrams” to house content.

Wireframes are done with “block diagrams” to house content.

 

Acting as a “blueprint,” wireframes serve as the bones of your design and development processes. Wireframing should come after discovery and before getting into the nitty-gritty details of design.

Wireframe concepts are meant to be thoughtful, fast and fluid, representing a kind of visual brainstorm for internal and external teams. They enrich the conversation around how users will engage with your interface. Wireframes help answer those brewing questions of functionality by taking the abstract ideas from the planning phase and arranging them meaningfully.

Talking with a “Wiry” Voice

Wireframes are often developed in black and white; it’s not the time for discussing color palettes, font choices, imagery, and even branding. The discussion around wires includes:
Content: deciding what should and shouldn’t be displayed
Information hierarchy: arranging that content meaningfully
Functionality: investigating potential action-oriented components
Structure: interconnecting all parts to work seamlessly together
Behavior: evaluating how the user is impacted in their product experience

Wireframing is a time-saver in the long-term, keeping usability headaches or graphical head-scratchers down the road at bay. In other words, you’ll know very early what’s going on your B2B site, where it’s going, and why it’s important. By taking the time to work through wireframes, it’s much easier to throw out large blocks of content and alter key sections, instead of having to change the design concept down the road.

Wiring in the Right People

User interface and user experience designers or information architects are primarily responsible for the creation of wireframes by balancing the larger goals against the user’s needs. During this time, wireframing can inspire the creative and development processes. Developers and designers will use the wires to reduce the learning curve around site implementations and enhancements. Internal project managers assess the wires to ensure the process is within scope and strategy.

Down to the Wire: Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever jumped into a website and realized it was challenging to navigate, or been part of a website development project that went awry, a wireframe should become your new best friend. The process of wireframing a website is a tried and true method to help tackle the challenges for your B2B website.

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Concoct the Perfect Recipe for B2B Personalization

21 Jun

B2B Buyers Seek Personalization Efforts

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It is no secret that personalization is essential when marketing to B2C buyers. In fact, according to a recent article, 80% of marketers believe personalized content is more effective. So then why is there a lack of personalization within B2B marketing? This is something that those in highly personal industries (like building products) must especially consider. One of the biggest challenges facing B2B personalized marketing is that there is no perfect recipe consisting of equal parts strategy, data, and technology usage. But as someone who knows a thing or two about making concoctions, here’s one that virtually any B2B marketer can use:

Take 1/3 Parts Strategy…

It is important to keep in mind that B2B buyers have different needs and desires than that of B2C buyers, and therefore they need to be approached differently. B2B buyers are more understanding as to how the industry works, and they are looking for transparency and recommendations, as well as content that will educate them and solve a problem.

According to an Accenture survey, 54% of B2B buyers want personalization and “personalized recommendations across interactions.” This allows you to establish a relationship with your client before a sale even takes place, creating loyalty amongst clients.

No matter how flashy your marketing ploys may be, they won’t mean anything to a customer if they don’t have a need or desire for it. Knowing your audience and their demographics, purchasing behaviors, motivations, and location can change how you garner content for each client.

Add 1/3 Parts Data…

To help capture useful data and to better understand your target audience, you can create a brief survey for them to fill out. When personalizing content for B2B buyers, including data attributes such as their name, company, and role within their company can be the deciding factor in whether or not your client is initially engaged. This can also be helpful when generating leads or creating a personalized lead-nurture campaign. It can even help you tailor emails to those specific buyers and even include imagery and links that will create a personalized touch.

Mix with 1/3 Parts Technology…

While content and strategy are essential to personalization, so is technology. According to Rapt Media, 94% of B2B buyers say better content technology is crucial to creating personalized content that is measured and optimized. So what does that mean? Technology can be used to simplify your company’s message and can be used across different platforms that relate to your audience. For example, content from whitepapers can be repurposed for short, digestible videos and then the audio from the video can be used to make a podcast for clients who don’t have the time in their day to watch a video.

Shake Well and Serve

Granted, my preferred concoctions usually involve a shaker and a cold glass, but the perfect personalized B2B marketing campaign can taste pretty satisfying. And with a fresh strategy that is geared toward B2B buyers, you can satisfy your customers’ needs while also gaining new revenue and retaining reoccurring revenue. All you need is three ingredients and a shaker.

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3 Reasons to Renovate Your Website (And 3 Sites That Are Getting It Right)

18 May

An Outdated Website May Have Bigger Consequences Than You Think

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ChrisGuest Contributor:
Chris McCutcheon, Interactive Manager

Websites. We see and interact with them every day, and it seems there is one for just about everything. As an interactive manager at ER Marketing, I’ve seen it all when it comes to websites—the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly.

Not too long ago I had someone ask me to look at their website. I pulled it up on my phone and nothing showed up. Thinking it was a little strange, I waited until I got home and found it on my iPad. Still nothing. I knew then that something was definitely going on with this site. She said it was new, so why wouldn’t it come up? Turned out the entire site had been done in Flash, which I discovered after I pulled it up on my laptop. She was extremely disappointed and had no idea the person she hired to do her website built it using old technology.

So, ask yourself a few questions about your own website. Does it look good on mobile? Is the site built in Flash? Still using clipart from 1999? Still relying on misguided keyword stuffing? Is it supporting your brand? Unless it’s been updated recently, it might be time to rethink your website.

Here are 3 reasons why it may be time to renovate your website:

1. It’s not mobile friendly.

  • Two-thirds (64%) of adults own a smartphone, which means if your site doesn’t render properly, or delivers a bad user experience, potential customers may go elsewhere.
  • Google will ding you. They announced last year that sites will be penalized in the rankings if they aren’t mobile friendly. According to research by online ad network Chitika, Google page one results enjoy a whopping 95% of all search traffic, while 91% of searchers never reach page two.

2. Unknown security vulnerabilities.

  • Security flaws affecting an older website are much more likely, as these sites rely on older technology.
  • Even if you might not have confidential information you are worried about being stolen, there are other reasons you should be concerned, like letting unfiltered data insert into your database. This can cause a high risk of SQL Injection, which leads to your site being hacked—and unwanted links being injected into your site.
  • If you use any kind of third-party software—meaning your IT department didn’t code it—you must make sure it is always up-to-date. Any outdated software with security flaws can cause your site to be at risk.

3. High page abandonment rate.

  • Many older sites take forever to load. Sure, you may love the large images and the huge slideshow, but it’s probably making your site lag. 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. [1] Google values the length of time someone stays on your page, so if your website has a high abandonment rate, your SEO will be negatively impacted as Google puts delivering the best and most relevant content to users first and foremost above all else.
  • Poor navigation. If the user doesn’t know what to do or where to go, you are missing out simply because there isn’t any clear direction for the user.
  • Many websites fail to deliver a clear sense of what the company offers. Unless you are a well-known brand, you need to let people know who you are and what you can offer them in a way they can understand and easily access.

Here are a few sites in the building products industry to inspire you and get you thinking about your own site:

Blu Homes

  • Site is responsive and mobile friendly
  • Good user experience
  • Nice, easy to navigate design

Royal Building Products

  • Loads fairly quickly, even with a full screen slider
  • Offers a clear sense of who the company is and what they offer
  • Displays well on mobile devices

Guardian Building Products

  • Utilizes a card-style layout for chunks of content
  • Mobile friendly
  • Easy to navigate

[1] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/

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