Channeling your Efforts

How can you stand out in an increasingly cluttered advertising space like the Internet? Paid search campaigns like AdWords can generate great, qualified traffic to your website. But because it works, the competition can be fierce and expensive.

Ads on other sites might seem like a good idea but the increasing frustration of users with ads, and these users increasing sophistication with web use, is leading to an increase in the use and sophistication of ad blockers. What if your precisely targeted market is blocking the very ad you created just for them?

Newsletters can be a great way to get in front of folks. And if you have existing customers, simply by the fact of them being your customer, you can add them to your email list. But you can’t necessarily keep them! We have a newsletter that goes out just to our hosting clients. This newsletter tells them about our service and any changes / additions / or maintenance they should be aware of. But several have unsubscribed. Even when you consciously opt in to a newsletter, do you read each one thoroughly? Yet each time I send a newsletter, I get feedback from happy customers. So it is a valuable channel.

So is it a lost cause? Should you throw in the towel and accept defeat?

NO.

But as technology matures and becomes more sophisticated, you need to as well. First, remember that nothing beats old-fashioned marketing. It takes more time but that is what makes it more effective. Visit your leads. Or give them a call. Or send a note via the United States Postal Service.

But of course you can use new media and use it effectively. Now you need to consider and use the right channels for your business. A brief overview of some of the main channels available and how you might use them:marketing-channels

Website: This is the channel you have the most control over. Make it the centerpiece of your marketing. I might click a link from LinkedIn or Facebook that takes me to your site where I learn that you not only do what the link was about but that you also provide another service or product I need.

Facebook: We recommend this for all kinds of businesses but it is essential if you are in the B2C world. Have an active account. Provide useful information AND links back to your site with further details on the issue.

Twitter: Lots of folks tell us gruffly “We don’t tweet” or “We don’t twitter” as a matter of pride. That is not a particularly helpful approach to marketing though. Do you know if your client base is on Twitter? If they are then you ought to be. Even if they aren’t, having an active Twitter account can help in myriads of ways, foremost of which is providing additional links regarding your brand – useful for SEO purposes.

LinkedIn: If you are in the B2B world, a fully built out LI profile and regularly updating , connecting with others is critical. More and more, when I talk with people and especially when I meet with them, they check out my profile and I check out theirs prior to meeting. Finding useful connections is a great way to grow.

Instagram: If what you do is visual, you should have an Instagram account and update it. This is particularly true of B2C companies. It is just another great way to get your product in front of people. Using Instagram purposefully can be immensely beneficial.

YouTube: Whether you are in the B2B or B2C realm, a video can go a long way towards getting you more sales. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, just imagine what a video is worth. Demonstrate a technique, show how to use a product, have a customer give a video testimonial, show people interacting with you, your product, or your service.

We have, over the years, repeatedly heard “We tried <Enter your favorite channel or social media> and it didn’t work.” When I counter that with “What was your strategy?” I ALWAYS get a blank stare. The key is to use these channels with a strategy. Understand how you want each channel to interact. Done well, it will get you more customers; show a better, more unified brand to the world; and get your better search rankings.

If you need help getting your digital channels lined up, we can help. If you need help getting your whole marketing plan going, give us a call as well. We partner with some of the best firms in Colorado to get your message out there.

Stuck in a Rut?

Stuck in a rut? Seem like 2016 just started but you can’t get moving? Make 2016 the year your website starts working for you. It should be an investment, not an expense. If your website isn’t driving sales or generating leads or sealing the deal, what is it doing? Do you even know?

Here are three steps you can take to get your site moving for you:

  • Evaluate – first take the time to understand what your site is doing for you currently. How many visitors are you getting? How many of those visitors are turning into contacts or leads or sales? What pages are getting visited? Are most of your visitors starting on the home page or is Google or some other site directing them to a page deeper within you site?
    Answering these questions will both help you understand what is happening on your site and get the juices flowing for you to begin considering what you want to have happening.
  • Plan – We ask every new client what their goals are for their website. A goal is something clear and measureable. “Be more informative” is not a goal. Neither is “Be more visual”. Both of these can be incorporated into a new site but a goal is something like “generate two solid leads a week” or “get two prospects per quarter to fill out our online intake”. Notice the time frame is clearly noted and the actions are detailed enough that they can be measured.
  • Change – Whether you are doing a complete site redesign or just making incremental changes, make the changes! You have heard that nature abhors a vacuum. The Internet abhors staleness. A fresh look or fresh content or both tells the world you are paying attention. That you know your site is your 24/7 portal to the world. Don’t let it go!

Evaluate – Plan – Change! It really is that simple.

Letting the Client Discover the Answer

We’ve been designing sites for years and while we’re quite good at what we do, it always amazes me when we let the client discover the answer because it often isn’t the answer we thought of.

23236670_sA couple of years ago we were working with a private school. We asked them how their site fit into their overall marketing plan. After several moments of silence, the answer was “We don’t know.”

So we asked them when students (or actually the parents) decide that this is the right school for them and sign up. They answered “Almost without exception when a family tours our campus, they sign up.” So I asked how their web site could help get more tours. And the “Schedule a Tour” app was born.

Families scheduling a tour were actually taking the first step in the enrollment process, giving the school a next step to engage families in.

Does your site have a next step?

Google is Still Following Our Lead

EduCyber incorporated in the summer of 1998 and Google in the fall of the same year. They’ve been following us ever since . . . ok well that may be somewhat of an over statement but when they changed their logo last year, they simply followed what we have known and been telling our customers for years. Sans serif fonts are much easier to read on the web so avoid serif fonts where possible. Their logo changes from a font with serifs to a sans serif font. Two things that happened when they did that change: 1) the image size was decreased – making it load faster and 2) it is easier to read on mobile devices.

g-screenshotThe moral of the story remains the same thing we’ve been saying all along: use sans serif fonts on your site. Even if your logo is a serif font, you should do the soul searching that Google went through to see if you need to make the change.

Hamburger on the Internet

For years folks have heard of cookies on the world wide web and wondered why they needed to get rid of them sometimes because, well who doesn’t like a tasty cookie?

Now there is a new food that is all in vogue. It is hamburger. You’ve probably seen the hamburger icon, especially when you surf on your tablet or phone. What is the hamburger? It’s the little icon for the menus:

hamburger

You can see the bun on the top and bottom and the hamburger in the middle. And it just means that there is a menu waiting for you to see when you touch or click on the hamburger.

It is a convenient way to take a long horizontal menu and compress it for easier navigation on the mobile web.

Site Security Takes Main Stage

Since at least 2014 Google has been encouraging websites to go secure by using https (installing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate). Just recently they have indicated that it is becoming increasingly important in their search ranking algorithm.

SSL is ImportantWhat does that mean? It means you should change your site to SSL. It is not a difficult process. First you install the certificate and then you tell your pages to all use SSL only.  Need help? We can handle it for our hosting clients quite easily and even if you’re not our client, we can probably help you out.

A few years ago Google made all of its search secure. Check it out for yourself. When you go to google.com, you’ll find yourself at https://www.google.com. There will always be that https. The general assumption was, because it was encrypting the data, it would affect the speed, even if it was just a little.  But it didn’t. So if there is no change in performance in going from non-secure to secure, why not make the whole Internet secure? That seems to be Google’s plan and it isn’t a bad one.  Once Google realized it didn’t really affect the speed for their site, they began increasing the expectation of security in their search algorithm. And it has reached the point where sites focusing on search rankings really need to make their site secure.

Begin with the End

Some of the complaints we’ve heard over the years:

  1. I tried a Facebook campaign. It didn’t work.
  2. Our website doesn’t really generate any business for us, it is just a brochure.
  3. I don’t’ know whether our website brings any business or not.
  4. My clients don’t have time to read blogs so I’m not going to blog.

And every one of these complaints were voiced during a client interview (to see if we would work together).

The problem in each case is that these potential clients started with where they were at currently instead of where they wanted to be. So though you may think it goes without saying, it doesn’t.

You should start your internet marketing with the end in mind. In every case, yes every case, people want to grow their business. But what that means for marketing and how their website fits in to the bigger marketing campaign is never the same.

Think about how you get new customers. If you are a non-profit organization, how do you get more donors? More volunteers? If you a service based organization, how do you generate more leads? At what point in the sales process do you usually close the deal? If you are a product-based organization,  the question is easier – how do you sell more stuff? But it isn’t necessarily an easier answer. Instead of asking themselves “How can we sell more iPads and iPhones” Apple asked themselves, what else can we sell to people that are already buying our stuff? And they came up with the Apple Watch.  So you really need to ask yourself the hard questions – Are we selling everything to our customers that we can? Are there other needs that we can meet? Are there other markets that we can create? Many of us didn’t know until a month or so ago that we needed a fancy watch. Now we do.

Once you have the outcome determined, building a website that works is much easier. Suddenly your “just a brochure” site becomes a lead generating machine. Your “validation of who we are” site becomes a “scheduling follow up meetings” engine that keeps your sales schedule full. Your “we don’t know if our site generates business” site becomes a “we closed a record number of deals thanks to our site” tool that sets you above your competition. Your “unplanned social media campaign” suddenly begins to send people to your site to schedule meetings or buy stuff.

Did you end up with a website that doesn’t know where it is going? Contact us today!

Top Five Reports to View in Google Analytics

Actually just about all the reports are useful and can give you great insight into how visitors are interacting with your website. The list below is intended for beginners to help direct your attention and get into the basics.

  1. Audience Overview (default view)
    View the number of sessions and users over the last month. See pageviews, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and percent of sessions that are new (not repeat).  While all the info helps, the numbers of users and pageviews are great information for beginners to begin to digest how their site is being used and even more importantly, WHETHER it is being used.
  2. Audience -> Mobile -> Overview
    See the break down on how many are using desktop, how many using mobile and how many using tablet. Since Google began requiring sites to be Mobile Responsive and then to define what it means, it has become even more important to understand how folks view your site. You should definitely check your site to see how it looks on the different devices. And seeing how much actual traffic you get on each can help you determine how many resources you need to focus on each view.
  3. Audience -> Users Flow
    Shows what country visitors come from, what page they visit first and what page(s) they visit after the first page. This is critical to understanding if your visitors are making the decisions you want them to. If you have created a sales funnel and no one is getting through the funnel, monitoring the flow will help you understand where people are getting hung up and then you can begin to examine why they are getting stuck.
  4. Acquistion -> Overview
    Shows how visitors got to your site. Referral: Links from other web sites to yours. Direct: People who typed your url in the location field on the browser. Organic Search: people who searched for something related to you and came to your site. Social: people who clicked a link in social media to get to your site. There are ways to create campaigns to track even more but these four groups are a great way to get the big picture about how people are getting to your site.
  5. Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Queries
    This is where the really cool stuff is. Queries shows you what queries people made at Google, how many times your site actually showed up  (Impressions) on the page and how many times someone clicked on the Google results that showed your site. It also shows your average position for those key words and the Click Through Rate or CTR. The higher the CTR, the better you are doing.
  6. BONUS: Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Landing Pages
    This shows you what pages people see when they first get to your site. Search engines do NOT just link to your home page. This helps you understand what pages Google (and the folks who use Google) likes most about your site. For example, we do a lot of work with non-profit organizations. Over the last month, this page https://www.educyber.com/who-we-work-with/non-profits/ showed up 200 times in search results and got 5 clicks which means that we had a CTR of 2.50% which makes us pretty happy.

NOTES:

You can change the date range at any time but changing the information in the top right corner. You can also do comparisons of ranges, comparing one month to the previous month, for example. The default range when you login and bring up the reports is for the last month.

Bounce Rate refers to the percentage of visitors who enter your site but then leave without visiting more pages. Most folks view a high bounce rate as a bad thing but you have to make sure you are interpreting what is actually happening. For example, if your contact page has a high bounce rate, it is likely because I have visited the page and either called you or emailed you. So I don’t need to be on your site anymore. But it would be for a good reason.

SEO Landing Pages – requires Google Webmaster Tools be enabled. If you don’t have Webmaster tools setup, you ought to. It too is free and it only takes a few minutes to link them up. Then you have even more data at your disposal.

If you don’t have GA enabled or if you have it enabled but aren’t looking at it, why not? This is the kind of marketing data you should have at your disposal. Need help with it? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.

Becoming a Customer (Part 3)

There should always be a next step! And if that step is up to you, you had better carry through! A well-known Hollywood director said “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” Successful businesses often take that one step further – showing up is 90% of success. Our first two articles on Becoming a Customer examined how a well thought out call to action is important and how good design should focus attention on that call to action. In this article we’re going to look at the next step.

You should ALWAYS have a next step

You should ALWAYS have a next step

We all have heard or experienced the customer service story from hell – whether it be some kind of bait and switch story, a firm just completely dropping the ball, or endless promises of satisfaction that never materialize. But what about the delightful stories of promises not only kept but surpassed?

Probably the most important aspect of “becoming a customer” is to always, every time, without fail, provide a next step. That is the showing up part. And much of it can be automated or semi-automated. When a customer schedules an appointment online you can have an automated email thanking them and confirming the time. Or you can have a staff person actually confirm the scheduled appointment time works and then click to send the automated reply.

If you have people sign up for your newsletter. You kind of need to send out a newsletter. Otherwise you’ve just alienated folks. The idea situation is that, on confirmation of a subscription, the customer is sent the last newsletter automatically. But the other part of this is setting the proper expectation. How frequently will you be sending your newsletter? Adding that into the subscription process and sticking to it will make your subscribers happier.

We worked with a private school to build their website. After much discussion we set the call to action to be “Schedule a Tour” but we didn’t stop there. If you visit that school’s website and schedule a tour, you have just taken the first step in the enrollment process. And the follow up email lets you know that if you have already decided to enroll, you can click the link to continue the process. You always need to have a next step.

And if your site doesn’t have a next step, you should contact EduCyber today to remedy this situation! Call Brian at 303 268-2245 ext. 4.

Becoming a Customer (Part 2)

Can your web site design (not the content) help you get more customers?

In our first article on <becoming a customer>, we discussed the content aspect – having a clear call to action on your site. In this article, we are going to investigate whether the visual design elements of a site can help your visitors become customers.

Clear Call To Action

You should always have a clear call to action

I remember the very first user testing we did years ago. We identified a person who would be a great potential customer for our new client and had him go through their existing website, sharing his stream of consciousness as he navigated the site through the tasks we gave him. The web site’s “clear call to action” was a flashing red button in the right column. Our tester mentioned it only briefly – “I’m not looking at the ads in the right column”.

Ouch.

That customer learned a good lesson that day. People were ignoring their call to action. Think about how ads work today on many websites, especially news sites. They used to have banner ads and right column (and left column) ads. Now most of them use inline ads. You read a paragraph. You are interested. You want to read more. As you scroll down the page, you see the inline ad and then your content. You have just interacted with the ad – an ad you may have skipped had it not been right in line with the content.

This is actually one of the exciting parts of what we do in this business. Design matters! Sometimes (often times) it is a subtle change that makes all the difference. Change a button from blue to green and suddenly people start filling out your form. Move the secure transaction logo next to the complete transaction button and suddenly people start buying your products. Move your call to action from a side column to inline with your content and the phone starts ringing.

Suddenly becoming a customer is easier for people on your website. And if you’d like help making your design work FOR you, you should work with us.