Momentum and your Web Project

August 31, 2015

indexUndertaking a web project like a website redesign or redevelopment is often seen as arduous to many companies, a necessary evil driven by the fluidity and innovative nature the digital environment requires to keep your business competitive. And to be honest, it does take a good amount of concentration and coordination to pull it off effectively. Your company’s website is the central hub of all your online marketing efforts, the lead generating focal point of all your content, and as such, it needs to be maintained and updated regularly and keep to ever-changing best practice standards. Why? To keep your brand relative and aligned with your customers needs, ahead of competitors and a representative industry.

Setting the Stage for your Web Project

So, yes, you need to redevelop your website and yes, you need to design it with your target market‘s needs in mind. The activity requires, first and foremost, a pre-development, development and post-development calendar that lay out each phase, detailing the active members at each stage as well as their deadline orientations to keep the project moving.

This process requires a deep-dive both internally and externally using resources like sales and customer service staff to map your buyer’s interactions with your company to understand what your customers want and how they interact with your brand. External data can be acquired using incentive-driven polls or surveys that will garner direct answers from your existing target lists. Industry statistics round out the data you need to develop your web design strategy. Too often a website strategy is begun with “how we want the site to look”. This is the wrong strategy.

The Web Development Process

Using your gathered data, the first step is the development of your website navigation, keeping in mind at all times how your customers will get the information they need to understand who you are, what you do and what makes you different (a/k/a: better) than your competition. Website navigation is the foundation upon which your web design is built, so take the time to consider all interaction types, and how your audience wants information served up to them. Remember, the goal of this website is to drive leads, really knowing your target market, and keeping to the KISS principle for global navigation, will lend to a navigation strategy that will increase lead generation.

Following these research and navigation development stages are design mock-ups. Now is the time to think about how you want your site to look. Do some competitive analysis at this point and think of how you want your brand to be perceived. With design and navigation finalizes, we then move on to site development, content creation and implementation, testing, internal reviews, edits and adjustments, then finally, site launch.  While listed sequentially, the process is not always linear, and many of the steps are continually repeated.

Feels like it’s going to be a long road already, doesn’t it? Well, it should feel that way and it’s worth every second when it’s done properly. Marketing strategy begins with understanding who your brand is in the industry, what your differentiators are and how you can help your customers. Your web project needs each individual component to fit together naturally and flow as one unified and pleasant experience. to support each of these components.

However, no matter how organized, focused or engaged your team is with the web project, there is one thing that will derail even the most-strategically developed plan: loss of momentum.

Stick-to-It-iveness and Your Web Project

Have you ever gone to the store with a list of items that you intend to buy and gotten sidetracked looking at some well-placed item that isn’t on your list, eventually forgetting to get what you went to the store for in the first place? Or, have you begun writing an article or a speech and walked away when things started to flow, only to lose your perspective? You spend time driving back to the store, wasting time and money, or flounder looking for the “perfect phrase” that, once lost, can be very elusive to regain, and while you’ll eventually finish writing the speech the results are diminished somewhat.; due to loss of momentum in the creative process.

We have noted that a web redevelopment or redesign is a multi-step, and lengthy, process and then apply the same concept of losing momentum during the shopping trip or the writing activities. When you pause, or worse yet, stop the forward motion of the web project, you lose track of your timelines, your strategy, and of the plethora of direction and goals that were developed during your research stages. Small misses in content, layout of specific pages and navigation options are forgotten in the downtime.

When things pick back up, your project manager is tasked with remembering where things stopped. All outstanding items and their status need to be reassessed, team members have to spend more time re-reviewing items they already vetted, and due to simple human nature, errors happen. You’re left, in essence, having to spend time and money driving back to the store to get what you forgot (additional project costs due to dropped website items) or floundering to regain your creative perspective that will drive the best response from your customers.

To put it simply, when you delay the web project process, for days, weeks or even months, when things get tabled and pushed aside, you are left with a website that is diminished from the original vision, either in its cost effectiveness, its strategy or its ability to drive results.

The key to avoiding a dilution of your online marketing strategy and website is to stay the course, build a calendar and stick to it. Keep the team on track and thinking strategically about your website, your customers and your online marketing goals until testing begins. You’ll get a better performing website in the end, you’ll keep your costs in check and your visitors are ensured the best web experience you can offer, which means more conversions, and sales, for your brand.

Get More Sales with Actionable Content

August 12, 2013

You’ve got a great website with all the bells and whistles in place to draw attention of the search engines. You’ve got a plethora of great back-links to your site. Your company ranks on page 1 of Google. Your page views are increasing exponentially every day. From a digital marketing perspective, you should be making money. Problem is, you’re only seeing a trickle of sales coming in through your website instead of a flood. There is no business that can live on prospects alone. You need a strategy in place for converting leads to sales.

No matter how large the company or the market, basic sales still comes down to people selling to people. Web consumers come to your website seeking out your company and/or your specific services. Good SEO practices help get them to your website, but how do you turn site visitors into more customers?converting leads to sales

Website shoppers have such a vast amount of information and businesses at their fingertips that they can afford to be very, very picky about what they buy and from whom. When viewing a new site, web surfers allow mere seconds to size up a site. How can you increase your potential of converting leads to sales?

  • Site layout and viable, actionable content can make a sale from a fleeting glimpse. It’s about basic sales practices, but in a virtual world. Website shoppers have to include all the warmth and personality of a handshake and a smile, without the benefit of hands or a mouth.

Think about the last time you shopped in a new store. When you walked in, did you check out the decoration and the layout? Were your turned off by the color schemes or did you love the lighting? Were the salespeople pleasant and did they make you feel important? Were the products easy to find and nicely displayed? Web consumers want all these same amenities without having to leave their home. Remember the adage – “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? That first impression is the means to a successful web business.

Like any other store, your web company has to have an appealing layout to draw the customers through your door. Keep your page layout easy to navigate and keep the readers eye drawn to your sales copy with strategically placed graphics. The longer a consumer is on your site, the better chance you have of making the sale.

  • Good content can make your would-be buyer feel “right at home” while on your site. The right keywords can show them that you have what they seek and can appeal to their specific needs. Great content can express, in just a few sentences, why your wares are better than rest and move a buyer towards a purchase.

Remember, ABC – Always Be Closing. Engaging and easy to navigate website layout helps beckon consumers to come in, sit down and stay awhile while concise, actionable content works on your website, converting leads to sales.

Taking the Wind Out of the Sales of Marketing

August 6, 2013

This was a line I recently alluded to in a blog article for a client. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I can’t get it out of my head, so I thought I’d see if I could write it out and find a little peace.

When I wrote this line, I was trying to say that social media marketing, when properly used by businesses to promote their services and products, has added some of the humanity back to sales. It helps marketing be a lot less “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! , radio announcer guy and a lot more “Hey, guess what I just found out” word of mouth advertising. In other words,

the focus should be on trust and brand development within your target market, developing relationships that in turn get more leads for your sales team.

how NOT to manage social media to get more leads

I like social media for this human quality – I really do. I enjoy connecting with audiences via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. It can be very effective and not nearly as blatant as email marketing. I recommend a social media aspect to all of my clients marketing plans and the results have been great.

However, it’s important that we, as social media marketers, keep these sites friendly, comfortable places where site members can share information without feeling like they’re being constantly bombarded with “deals”, because if we all come off sounding like car salesmen, we’re going to scare off our would-be contacts.

I’ve found that a 60/40 rule works to get more leads with social media. 40% obvious promotion of content and company-oriented information, 60% “hi, how ya doin’, look at this cool thing I found.” A few consistent trends I’ve noticed:

  • Sites like LinkedIn allow you to be a lot more business-focused, where you are able to do a lot more sharing of industry-focused content within targeted groups and to your contacts through your profile.
  • You can (and should) market your business from your Facebook page, but if the content is too monotone, the same stuff every day, your losing the potential for likes and shares.
  • Through Twitter, if all you do is try to sell, or push your business, with each 140 character post, you’re going to lose followers. Keep to the 60/40 rule to keep your audience engaged and connected to your brand.

Even when you’re making a pitch, be human about it. Don’t ramrod your information down other members’ throats. Take as delicate an approach as you would if you had just met this person, face to face, over cocktails at a networking party. Keep that first impression about who you are, not what you sell. Give them a reason to trust you, and your brand, so when the time comes that they need your services or products, they “know you” well enough to want to come to you.

Good business to you!

Why Social Media is NOT a Fast Track to Increase Sales

August 1, 2013

I’m compelled by necessity to note this for anyone interested in pursuing a social media marketing strategy for their business, however, let me predate my little rant with a few key points:

1. It is easy to understand the misinterpretation of social media’s marketing capability thanks how inundated we have become with it. It’s on your TV, it’s in our publications, links are noted on every website. It seems like the greatest thing since the wheel, but remember, a wheel doesn’t turn without help.
2. The ongoing stressed economic climate has a lot of companies looking for new ways to promote their business, get more lead and increase sales on a leaner budget, and that road often leads to considerations of social media potential.
3. This same economic climate has these same companies working under strained budgets and shortened timelines for results.

Having made references, I will get to my point. Social media, like any other marketing tool, takes time to get more leads for your business. It is not direct sales. It is not telemarketing. And if you intend to stay on the legal side of the SPAM Act, it is a building process.

This isn’t to say that social media isn’t a highly-targeted and powerful tool that businesses should add to their marketing arsenol, but despite the fact that Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages are being promoted in TV commercials, the premise is the same with this marketing vehicle as any other.

Some basic marketing tips applied to social media:

1. You must show the WHY of your business to generate leads, let your target market know what makes your company’s services and products DIFFERENT from your competition. Twitter is a good vehicle for this message.
2. Start conversations with key executives that can build your business – use LinkedIn for this aspect of your marketing strategy.
3. Promote your business to consumers who can start word of mouth advertising about your services and company.

There are tons of other niche social media sites that exist to promote your business, and new ones crop up every day. However, there needs to be a dumming down of the expectations of this type of marketing plan. The theories presented by a lot of the “social media” gurus is that this is a FAST way to get signups, increase sales and business, if not the Only Way.

The reality is that social media marketing needs to be part of an integrated marketing strategy, but there is no quick and easy way to build business.

Regular maintenance and attention to your social media profiles and pages, along with revised focus for new ventures and opportunities are all vital for lead generation. Keep your social media “social” with quality interaction and educational content and it will pay off, in time.

Social Media: Not as Effective Without a Targeted Marketing Strategy

July 30, 2013

Here at WriteMinded, LLC we’ve changed our marketing tactics with the packages we present to clients to represent the changes in marketing, namely the increases in mobile usage by target clients and the resurgence of email marketing. We’ve developed a full-scale marketing strategy that includes some of the old, some of the new and a little of the off the wall to reach out to target segments wherever they may live online. Ultimately, it’s about getting your website found, getting customers to increase sales.

Social Media Marketing tools like Facebook, Linked In and Twitter, as well as niche sites like Active Rain or Plaxo are valuable and powerful tools for any company to put to work in their marketing strategy. Unfortunately, in the last few years, the rumors have circled around social media as a stand-alone tool that can boost sales and guarantee traffic increases. This is simply not the case.

Just like there is no magic pill for weight loss, there is no single marketing tactic that can stand alone to continually launch a company’s business forward, to get more leads and increase sales. There are fluctuations in site usage and marketing stipulations that must be monitored with any marketing strategy that can hinder organic growth and responses. Therefore, the one key factor to remember when employing a social media marketing strategy to the benefit of your business is that it performs best in tandem with other more traditional marketing tactics.

Consider a Facebook account where you use a promotion to build brand awareness and expand your target reach. A strong tactic in its own right, consider that the promotion can be set up to farm contact emails from the promotional registrants that can then be turned into an opt-in email marketing list for follow up communications from your business. Think of the lead nurturing you can effect with a biweekly email blast.

Mobile marketing continues to drive changes in the web marketing world as executives become more attached to their smart phones and the applications become more business oriented. That email marketing you set up with the Facebook contacts can be formatted to fit and function in a mobile environment, so your target market gets your updates even on the go.

To keep it simple, absolutely employ social media into your web marketing strategy. However, don’t expect it to be a magic bullet and don’t rely on it as a standalone marketing tactic. Regular social media networking and content sharing builds brand trust and awareness. It’s up to you to leverage those initial connections to get more leads and increase sales, and that’s where a blend of traditional web marketing and social media can really make a difference for your business.

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