Internet Marketing Through Web Site Design

Lots of folks start their web design with a logo and maybe some colors. Then they add some copy that seems appropriate and figure out how to navigate through the site and they’re done with the design.

After they’ve finished, they’re ready for Internet marketing – maybe they’ll add a search engine optimization campaign or a paid search campaign (like Google AdWords). The more internet savvy ones will even develop a social media marketing campaign.

But the design and the marketing aren’t planned out together.

That’s a mistake.

foundation
Build your web site on a firm foundation

You have to start with a firm foundation. What better foundation for a web site design that your marketing goals? Start with the result in mind and you’ll build a solid site that not only complements your business but actually drives it forward.

Three Questions to consider as you build your foundation:

  1. What is the main call to action throughout the site?
  2. How do the various pages flow or drive the visitor towards the call to action?
  3. How can I forget about the features and focus on the benefits  (which is what the customer really wants anyway)?
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Recovering From Poor Internet Marketing

I have a friend who lies paralyzed in a hospital bed. A short while back he was involved in an accident and he will never walk again. I stopped by to visit him today. He was sedated but the good news is he has a tracheotomy. That never before sounded like a good thing but for him it is allowing him to breathe without having a tube shoved down his throat. It keeps other bacteria from following that tube right down into his lungs, and it is, the doctors believe, a step towards getting him to breathe on his own again. In short, for my friend, having a hole in his throat is a step towards recovery.

What does that have to do with Internet marketing? Last week I spoke with a client who is running his own AdWords campaign and is quite frustrated because “every time I turn it on it costs me $530 every two weeks” but he’s not getting a return on his investment.

Here’s what I told him he should do:

  1. Have us do an audit of his AdWords campaign. Since he’s not an expert and since he has a business to run, he doesn’t know all the ins and outs of a paid search campaign such as how to set it up for long tail search or whether it actually makes sense to have a different campaign for each city he’d like to get business from.
  2. Have us do a local search campaign for his business. With the tools provided through Google Local Business Center and Bing Local Search, as well as sites like Yelp, CitySearch, BrightKite,  and Gowalla, there are many things a geographically based company can capitalize on. But it has to be done well and consistently.

While he’s still thinking it over, I’d like to tell you why he should choose one or the both of these.  Until now he’s been paralyzed with the urge to stop throwing money away. By choosing either or both of these solutions he’ll be taking a step towards recovery.

And yes we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers for my friend has he faces a long road to recovery ahead but he is making steps, small though they may seem, towards getting better.

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Why Internet Marketing Works

While I’ve never been much of a numbers guy, I’m amazed about how easy Internet Marketing is because absolutely everything can be measured. So your goal is to figure out what to measure and then measure it.

And the beauty of it is that small changes can reap LARGE effects. Let’s say that you have a paid search campaign. You want people to rent a tuxedo from your store instead of your competitors. You can set up a paid search campaign – such as Google AdWords – to drive traffic to you site. At Google you identify when your ad will appear based on search words. So you say I want the ad to appear when people search for “prom”, “wedding”, “tux”, or “tuxedo”. Easy enough.

Not let’s say you start running this campaign and you find that for every 100 clicks (and you pay for every click) you get three tuxedo rentals. To make this a profitable venture for you, you determine that you need at least 5 rentals for every 100 clicks but you’d much prefer 10 or more.

Now that you have the traffic coming, you need to look at why more folks aren’t converting. With some of the nifty tools Google provides, you can do split testing. So you look at your landing page (the one you direct folks to from Google) and decide to keep the existing page as one version of the test. Then you make a small change – perhaps a differently worded call to action – and set that page as the second version of the test.

Next you turn on the test and then as people click through to your site, you can calculate which call to action is getting more business. Once you’ve got enough data to determine which is better, eliminate the underperformer and use the better one. If you change your conversion rate from 1% of visitors converting to customers to 2%, you’ve doubled your business. Pretty good ROI!

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Lather, Rinse, Repeat

But don’t stop there.  Like my shampoo bottle says, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” If you’ve found that one call to action gets more conversions, what if there is yet another that will triple your conversions? Build another page to test. And often its not the call to action. It could be the image you use or the attention getting headline or the copy leading up to the call to action.

Since you can measure each step of the process, you can measure your ROI at every step and set yourself apart from your competition.

And that is just with Paid Search. The same holds true with Organic Search and even Social Media Marketing.

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Building Better Web Sites

We often have people come to us looking for a web site and they start off with, “Here’s the content and here’s the logo.” That would be like starting off your home construction with interior design and where the furniture is going to be.

To design a good web site, you need to start with a good foundation. What is your goal? Be SPECIFIC. Being specific means going much deeper than “I want more business.” Being specific means thinking about how many new customers you’d like / can handle each week or month or quarter. Being specific means thinking about how your web site goals fit in with your overall marketing goals.

By being specific in your goal setting, you can then begin to build your foundation. If your specific goal is to get 15 calls a week via your web site (which you will then turn at least one into a customer) then you can look at your site plans and answer the very specific question, “What am I doing to entice or encourage the visitor to give me a call?”

There are many many ways to accomplish this but with that question in mind, you can begin to craft the site or a particular page in such a way that you’re helping the visitor to reach the conclusion that they should indeed give you a call. And don’t forget the obvious. The same week we put our phone number in the banner of our site, I closed a deal where the customer expressed thanks that we were so easy to get in touch with by having the number at the top.

But having your number at the top of the page is NOT a call to action. A call to action would be much more like “Have a pressing tax question? Call one of our advisors for a free 15 minute consultation” or “Call to schedule your consultation and we’ll give you a free _______ when you come in.” The blank could be a blender, USB drive, book, domain name or any other appropriate gift for your business.

So even if you’re not a web designer, you can still build a better web site.

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Starting at the Top

To be successful in Internet Marketing or in any endeavor, it is important to think big and to face down the fear of failure. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Hopefully this little story will make sense.
My family plays pitch. We not only play it, we’re very very good at it. The last time we were all together, my brother began teaching the exchange student staying with my other brother how to play. Some members of our extended family play very conservatively and seldom win. They know the rules inside out but when they look at the cards, they only see what is in their hand, not what the possibilities are for their team or for their hand based on what others might have. And as I said, they seldom win.
The way my brother was teaching this young lady was so that she could start at the top. Rather than learning the rules and taking baby steps in learning how to bid, he taught her how to bid aggressively so that she could play a strong hand at a strong table successfully.
I think the same kind of thing applies to business in general and to Internet Marketing specifically. There are many things that go into excellent Internet Marketing but it is not only what you see in your hand. Look at the opportunities available and consider how they fit in with your plan. Where do the synergies lie? How can you capitalize on the strengths of the media you’re using? The goal isn’t to learn how to be an Internet Marketer. The goal is to win at Internet Marketing.
Find the right mentor(s). The exchange student was lucky. Her mentor was teaching her how to win, not how to play. Find mentors that have PROVEN success in their industry. There are dozens of folks out there who claim they are gurus and experts. Ask them for the proof and then double-check it. For example, we’ve been around since 1998 and have been growing nearly every year. We’re ranked high for our key words. We actually get business because we’re found on the search engines. We work hard to practice what we preach.
We aren’t in this to “play the game”. We’re here to help other businesses excel on the Internet.

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Finding the Right Web Design Firm

There are lots of places on the Internet you can go to get a web site designed for less than $100. You get what you pay for however. There are also web sites that will help you with Search Engine Optimization for only $25 or some such nonsense. Again you get what you pay for which in this case can actually be counterproductive to your site. Finally there are some excellent graphic designers out there that learn how to convert their work into html and declare themselves to be web designers. For a modest sum, they will build you a web site. Be very careful in this case also.

There are three main elements to web design that you need to make sure you’ve got covered:

1)      Good design
Building a good web site means that it needs to be designed to fit YOUR needs. The problem with most do-it-yourself template sites is that you have to customize your needs to  the template rather than having the design customized to your needs. Your site should be visually engaging and should be customized to help you get your message across to your customers.

2)      Search Engine Friendliness
We won’t lie to you. SEO is very competitive and can get quite expensive. But a key part of web design is an architecture that is friendly to search engines. Some key elements to include in the design: using key words in file names and in image tags; naming sub-directories well; and the obvious – using keywords in the written content – but then also placing that written content in the best place on the page. None of these are included in your super-cheap online SEO services but more importantly, many web designers don’t use or understand these principles.

3)      Functionality
I’ve seen some really beautiful web sites but have had no clue what the next step is. Often graphic designers that hang up their web design shingle are the culprits. They design visually engaging graphics that don’t point the user to the next step. A term often used with web sites is “intuitive”. An intuitive web site is one where the user can easily figure out (without having to do any “figuring”) what to do. Navigation, for example, isn’t hidden or difficult to figure out – instead the menu items are clearly menu items and you can click on them to move to the next page.

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Fresh Content for Your Web Site

Having good fresh content for your site is vital for keeping people coming back to your site and to make your site relevant. Google gets this pretty well. So know they have Google Web Elements.  Essentially web elements lets you take different content from Google and display it on your site.

Since Google excels at search, I decided to see how difficult it would be to integrate Web Elements into a page at Educyber.com. Our Social Media Marketing Page hasn’t been updated in more than a month so at the Web Elements home page I clicked on News. Choose the size I wanted typed in Social Media in the Create one field, copied the code, pasted it into www.educyber.com/web/educyber-social-media-marketing.php, uploaded it and “Ta Dah” I was done. (Go ahead and check it out – scroll to the bottom of the page)

Now I don’t really like this kind of integration because if anyone clicks the link that Google displays, they go away from my site and off to someone else’s. That can’t be good for business, can it?

But there are some useful features that can work for your site. For example, you can embed a Google Calendar onto your site. So, say for example you hold regular events, meetings or seminars. You can create a Google Calendar, make it public and then pull your calendar onto whichever page(s) on your site you want.

Or if you have a powerpoint presentation that would be beneficial to share with your web visitors, choose Presentations, upload your presentation (or link to someone else’s), then copy the code and paste into your web page – Presto! You have a web presentation.

All in all, Web Elements is a useful application – one of those “Why didn’t I think of this?” kind of tools that can help you engage your web visitors.

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Web Design 101: 3 Basics

We get a lot of clients coming to us when the original designer disappears or the in house designer gets so busy with their real job that the company decides to outsource. When we take on a new client, there are three essentials for a business web site that we go over with them:

  1. Look. Too many people stop with just this basic tenet of web design: having a nice look. What does it mean to have a nice look? The elements of the site need to flow together. There should be a cohesive look to the site with a logo and color scheme that build and reinforce the brand. A clean, simple site is more attractive and more likely to engage your web visitors. Take your logo (or create one if need be) and use the colors and font to determine other key elements. When choosing colors and images or photos, consider your target market and what they are attracted to.
  2. Usability. We’ve seen way too many sites that look fantastic but aren’t user-friendly. If you want to build a site that actually helps your business, it needs to be usable. Building a user-friendly site means the first question you need to ask yourself is, what do you want people to do? If the goal is to get the visitor to make a purchase, the navigation and purchasing experience need to be very easy to accomplish and should make it clear how to add something to your cart, how to proceed to check out, etc. If the goal is to get someone to call you, make sure you have the phone number as the call to action. I often tell the story of the customer who said his goal was to educate the consumer . . .  “well ultimately I want them to call me”, he said. “Where’s your phone number?” I replied.
  3. мебели сливенSearch-Friendliness. Having a nicely designed, usable site gets you no where unless you also have a search friendly site. Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing task that can become quite expensive. But every web site and every page on a web site should be search-friendly.  This simply means to keep in mind your key words as you write the content, name images, and create meta-tags. The Internet is not a field of dreams. If you build it, you also have to market it and provide ways for people to know what you’re about. If you use your key words in your site properly, you’ll have a search-friendly site that will help to drive more people to it.
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Web Site Usability

Once you have established your site on the Internet and have traffic coming to your site, what do you do? Your site must be usable.

First question to ask yourself: What do I want people to do? Put another way, the question can be “What are the expected outcomes?” It isn’t always “more sales” but that might be your answer. It might also be more newsletter subscribers or perhaps more blog comments or even more requests for information.

Once you have determined the desired outcome, you can begin to plan around it. Each page should have one desired outcome for maximum usability. The next step is then to determine how all the pages fit together into one cohesive site. For example, if you are a realtor selling homes, you probably want to move one group of people towards the buyer’s information pages and another group of people to the seller’s information. Once a prospective home seller is in the right section (the expected outcome of the home page was to move buyers to buyers’ info and sellers to sellers’ info) the goal of one page might be to request an evaluation of the home’s value. Another page might be intentioned to show ranges of prices for homes in an area and then ask them to call for a detailed analysis.

The next step, the one that is often skipped, is to test it. If you are indeed a realtor, get some sellers to go through your site while you watch. Find out if they can indeed accomplish what you want them to. Then get a buyer to go through your site. Give them a specific task to accomplish. See if they can do it. If the testing has good results, pat yourself on the back and launch. If the results aren’t so good, you probably need to go back and repeat steps 1 and 2 until you get the desired results.

Just because you “hit it” with your site and get the results you want, don’t stop looking at how you can make it even better.

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Measuring Your Statistics

I’ve always followed the concept of what gets measured is what gets done. I also follow John C. Maxwell’s leadership newsletter and this last newsletter included this quote from Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

So what’s my point? The beauty of the Internet is that it is like one huge database. The problem with the Internet is that it is like one huge database. A while back I was talking with a potential client about what to measure with the statistics on his web site. He wanted to measure everything. While possible, that isn’t practical. Of what value is there in tracking, for example, how many 206 error codes you get on your site? Anybody out there know what a 206 error is? Those of you who just said yes are web techs. But for a business owner, that information isn’t a useful metric to determine the success of the site or the business.

What statistics are useful? We have five key stats we follow for our customers but what statistics are useful depends on what your goal is. Rarely do I find a customer whose goal is really to be ranked number one for a key word or key phrase. What they really want is to get more customers for their business and see having a high ranking for their key phrases as one of the means towards reaching that goal. So if you try to measure everything, you’ll likely just end up confused. Here are the five web site statistics that we recommend tracking:

  1. Number of Visits
  2. Pages Visited (in order of number of visits)
  3. Search Engine Referrals
  4. Key Phrases Searched For
  5. Backlinks

Of course, if you need assistance understanding these, EduCyber’s Search-Friendly Hosting is probably just the thing for you.

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