August 11, 2016

8 Tips a Small Business Can Use To Improve Their Online Marketing

I’ve put together a list of 8 things I think entrepreneurs can do to help improve their online presence.  Happy reading, and remember I’m here to help.

Let’s get started.

 1) Make sure your website loads fast

I can’t tell you how many small business owners and entrepreneurs I talk to that overlook this.  I mean it’s not even on their radar screen.  And quite frankly it’s no small thing because Google and other search engines take site load times into consideration when determining page ranking.  So when thinking about SEO don’t just think about keywords.

How long it takes for your page to load can have a direct effect on your businesses bottom line.  I hate websites that load slow.  In fact I don’t wait around at all for them to load.  Do you?  Well, you’ve got to keep in mind that the people visiting your web pages will treat your site the same way.  According to a recent  KISSmetrics report, if your website doesn’t load in less than 4 seconds approximately 25% of your visitors will abandon the site.  And 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less.

A slow loading site not only frustrates your site visitors, it also negatively affects how people, especially mobile visitors, perceive your brand.  I tell my clients the only people who hate slow load time more than desktop users are mobile users.  Because mobile visitors may be using slow cellular internet connections make sure you’ve optimized your website for mobile.

Slow load time is sooo frustrating to site visitors that a recent Ericsson study revealed that the stress level caused by delays was comparable to watching a horror movie.  I can hear what you’re thinking.  Don’t take my word for it check it out here.

2) Optimize your website for mobile

Here are two things I really hate doing, and I bet you do also.

  1. having to scroll side-to-side to read a website, and
  2. having to pinch-to-zoom because the darn words are way to small (heck I can’t read regular size fonts on a printed page without reading glasses)

When your website is not optimized for mobile use it provides a very poor user experience.  Which as I mentioned earlier reflects poorly on your branding. If you are not sure how to do that get help from professionals from this site.

If improving user experience is not enough to motivate you to upgrade your website keep in mind that Google penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly…Google wants the web to be a mobile friendly place.   So unless you want all that SEO effort to go to waste you best get with the program.

(What I Do To Be Mobile Friendly:  I run a mobile responsive WordPress theme from Studiopress which uses responsive design, and structured data (Schema).  To make sure images and video load quickly I use Amazon Cloud Front)

3) Add Calls To Action (CTA’s)

If your website does not have any calls to action (CTA) then you’re leaving money on the table.  A CTA encourages your readers to do something other than consume the content on your site and leave.  According to a 2013 study by Small Business Trends 70% of small business websites did not have a CTA.

Examples of calls to action or CTA’s

  • download a white paper
  • watch a video
  • request a consultation, or quote
  • sign up to a list

4) Use humor

There’s a really simple answer to why cat mimes were so popular….people like to laugh.  It’s in our nature to enjoy things that make us laugh, and smile.  Brands that find a way to make their audience laugh, grin, or smile can cash in on those warm fuzzy’s for years and years.  Remember the Budweiser frogs.

But you have to be careful when using humor on your website, or social media.  People were cool with iHops edgy Tweets to  “back that stack up” but the brand went to far when they suggested that women’s breast were like pancakes.

Fashion consultant Aaron Marino, of I Am Alpha M has done a great job of incorporating humor into his Youtube channel.  Checkout his video ‘5 Reasons You’re Ugly…or Will Be Soon ” I think one of the reasons it works so well for him is that he lets his authentic personality come through in the videos.  I love watching his videos and he managers to keep viewers beyond the recommended 90 seconds when most viewers loose interest in videos.

5) Choose the right vehicle for your content

There’s blogging, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and a plethora of other online platforms.  One of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make is choosing the wrong vehicle to distribute their content.  According to Darren Rowse May 17, 2016 Podcast (one of my favorite bloggers and Podcasters) there are 3 things you should consider when choosing a medium to communicate with your customer, prospects, and followers.  

  1. How do you communicate best? If you enjoy and are good at writing consider blogging.  Do you like being in front of a camera and present well then consider video as a marketing communication method.  Or, are you great at creating visual content, then perhaps creating diagrams and infographics are a good choice.  Bottom line is your style and voice should be the main determining factor for the vehicle you choose to use.
  2. Where is your audience and how do they prefer to consume content.  Some people prefer to read, other prefer watching video.  It’s also worth noting that some types of content just fit better in some mediums over others.  If I’m trying to learn a complicated photography technique sometimes I seek out videos on the subject.
  3. What does your subject matter work best with.  According to Darren some topics need visuals, while others don’t.  For example last week I wanted to learn about an advanced DSLR focusing method called “back-button-focusing”.  I read my camera’s manual and understood the tech part of setting the camera up to do it.  But it didn’t tell me why I should use it over the default focus method.  I then turned to Google and found quite a few articles on the subject but I still wasn’t quite getting it.  When I finally watched Tony Northup’s, and Jeff Cables (two professional photographers) on YouTube explain and demo the technique it finally clicked.

6) Hyper-focus your content

Suppose your left shoulder needed surgery.  You go to Google do a search for shoulder surgeons in your area.  You get the typical local, organic, and paid results from hospitals and shoulders surgeons.  But one stands out, it reads something like this ” Dr. Brown Worlds Foremost Left Shoulder Surgeon”.  Would you call Dr. Brown?  I bet you would because the content is hyper-focused on a very specific subject matter (not shoulder surgery…left shoulder surgery).

If you’re marketing to professional photographers one idea would be to design a content series specific to certain types of photographers for example those specializing in nature photography or those specializing in high school portraits.

7) Start producing videos

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video got to be worth millions.  According to a recent Forrester Report ‘video has evolved from being expensive and time-consuming to a viable option for retailers to drive conversions‘.  I’m constantly telling my clients that video must be a key component in their communication strategy because it generates results and is easier to produce and track than ever before. Here’s a video I produced for University of Pennsylvania Student Resources and Financial Services department that helped them explain what they do to students and parents.

Here are three key online video marketing statistics that should get and keep your attention

  1. According to a report published by Forrester, including video in an email leads to a whopping 200-300% increase in click-through rate.
  2. YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year
  3. 90% of user say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in the decision process.

8) Start blogging

Okay, look I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again if you don’t have a blog, you’re missing out on 3 very important things

  1. an opportunity to provide your visitors with a ton of valuable information.
  2. you’re missing out on ranking opportunities
  3. you’re missing out on building the most important asset your business can have
  4. you’re missing out on an opportunity to build trust with consumers by enabling them to perform in-depth research on their own right there on your website
  5. You’re missing out on an opportunity to build your platform instead of someone else’s

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August 11, 2016

8 Tips a Small Business Can Use To Improve Their Online Marketing

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