On a cold and snowy spring morning, while you are likely stuck in your “home office”, what can you do to advance your business? What can you do to grow when the whole world seems to have ground to a halt?
Pick up the phone. Call customers. Ask them if there is anything they
need. When they say no, probe a bit. Just because they don’t need help with what you do or offer, let them know of your network. See if they have a need you might be able to help them meet through someone else.
Revisit your prospect list. Take some time with each person or company on the list. Think about what they do. Think about what they might need during this shutdown. Reach out to them, by phone whenever possible and appropriate, but by email or even snail mail where not, and offer something useful. Tips. Links to resources. Something that you can share that will add value.
Host an online gathering. Select several contacts whether it be customers, vendors, colleagues, partners or prospects. Set a time and host a gathering whether it be to address a specific topic or simply to share with each other about how you are coping and what is happening locally.
There is a lot happening. Every level of government seems to be rolling out programs, grants and loans to assist businesses large and small. Keep up with the current status – the grant and loan programs at the federal level are literally changing on a daily basis right now – and be prepared to share with your network.
And for you personally?
Breathe. My mother is in a memory care unit in another state. They are on lockdown, meaning my brothers can no longer visit her physically. When I call her now, she is usually breathless and has a high level of anxiety. Some of the time I can help her with the same advice I give to you. Breathe. Take a deep breath. All the way in. A bit more. Now exhale. Don’t stop. All the way out. Now do it again. I’ll wait. Now try it once more.
So you are unexpectedly forced into downtime. Can’t go to the office. Can’t go to the restaurant. Can’t go to the theater. Set aside the frustration for a moment. What can you do?
Remember way back when you were too busy to take the time to work on your site (last week)?
Now you have the time for you and your staff to revisit your website. You might be surprised. Earlier today we met with a businessman who had recently changed to a whole new website with a new URL. As we went through his site and his listings, we discovered that many of his social media and external sites linked to the previous site or to the previous email.
What things should you look for?
Is your logo and tag line current and up-to-date across all media?
Is your name consistent on every page and on all your social media?
Check your physical address. One thing search engines need is the same address where even “Ave.” and “Ave” can be seen differently. Make sure your address is absolutely identical. If you belong to any trade associations or chambers, check them as well.
Look at your site on a phone. Does it look right on every page? Does the mobile responsive part work as expected?
Review your color scheme. Does your site follow the scheme properly? Are all the colors matching your approved standards?
Are your forms all working? Is there a next step after a form is filled out?
Is the contact information accurate and up-to-date?
Check for bad reviews on social – Facebook, Yelp, Google, etc.
Are there any pages or content on your site that no longer applies to what you do?
Are all of the images appearing properly? Do you need any new or different photos?
Have you added any new services or products that are not yet on the site?
Are your blog and social media profiles current and accurate?
Over the course of the last several years, we have had many customers come to us asking for Search Engine Optimization. We do SEO (and we do it well) so we are happy to accommodate.
But as a part of our marketing assistance, we seek to understand the goals of the SEO program. On a few occasions the customer’s goal has not been to get a higher ranking with the search engines. Those conversations go something like this:
Customer: I would like you to do SEO for my site. EduCyber: Sure thing, let’s take a look at your numbers. First, what is your conversion rate for your web site? C: ??? E: How many leads are you generating from your site on a daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis? C: I’m not. E: So if we get you ranked in the top ten for all of your keywords and you are still at a conversion rate of zero, will you be happy? C: Of course not! E: So let’s look at what you want to accomplish. C: I want the phone to ring! E: Ah, we can help with that.
And in many cases what we do is first tweak or in some cases redo the site to clarify and simply the Call To Action (CTA). Once we’ve done that we can establish a conversion rate. Once the conversion rate is established, then we can look at whether SEO, Pay Per Click, Social Media or some combination of those is the appropriate solution in order to get more business.
Are you wondering if you might be practicing misguided marketing? Some of the comments we hear from folks include:
We tried social media, it didn’t work.
I don’t get any feedback from my SEO firm.
I get all kinds of reports from them but I don’t understand any of them.
We’re paying a lot of money but not getting any tangible results.
I’m told we rank high but the phone isn’t ringing
I’m paying for clicks and I see the reports but no one is contacting us.
Powerful Manufacturing websites are a niche that make them different from other kinds of websites. They need to display their products in such a way that searchers can find and visit the page of the specific product they want. They need to be searchable. But they also need to show the quality of the product, of the people making the product and even the process and standards that go into creating the product.
Here are the five requirements for a powerful manufacturing website that actually connects with customers and potential customers:
It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product. All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need. Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product.
All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need.
Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
Finally you need to have clear and effective calls to action. One of the biggest downfalls for manufacturing websites is displaying information without moving folks to the next step. By having a good next step on each page of your site, you will not only engage your web visitors but convert them into customers.
Does your site do all five of these? If not, give EduCyber a call. We can tweak your existing site or design a whole new site to help you grow.
Security is becoming more and more of an issue with websites – both for business owners on how to keep their site secure and for consumers on how to protect their privacy. There is a concept that is gaining in popularity called Differential Privacy.
While the initial work in this area is over 10 years old, on September 5th Google announced it is open-sourcing it’s differential privacy library. The concept is to add “noise” to data so that a data scientist can extract information from the database without being able to identify specific persons.
In this age of tech intruding every further into our personal lives – with Alexa, Siri and Cortana listening in on the most intimate details of our lives – privacy of the individual is becoming increasingly compromised and therefore increasingly important to the individual.
Differential privacy has the potential to put some of that privacy back in place while at the same time placating the data-hungry data-crunching super computers that are driving innovation in AI, IoT and so many other areas of life.
Most business owners we interact with want all the data they can get about people visiting their site but at the same time don’t want to share their own personal information with other sites. We get it. With data breach after data breach, it is important to know that your privacy is being protected. At the same time, I want to know that someone from that company I’ve been targeting for two months just visited my website.
This is a constantly shifting line that has no clear response on how to lay it out for your site. But this differential privacy that Google has just open-sourced (made available for all to use) may be one of the steps in the right direction.
Not sure if your site is handling privacy well? Give us a call at 303-268-2245. We’re happy to help you evaluate your site.
You’ve probably seen this – a parent who is so proud of their beautiful baby that the rest of the world is afraid to tell them the truth.
The same thing often happens with web sites. Especially websites put together in house. “We ‘birthed’ this site and it is gorgeous” is the mentality that folks have.
That is why it is so important to have others try the site. If possible you want to have impartial 3rd party folks try the site. We have had numerous folks come to us wanting to help make their “beautiful baby” better by tweaking it.
When it comes to websites, it is sometimes possible to tweak a good site to make it great. But it is never possible to tweak an ugly site to make it good.
What do I mean by an ugly site? Here are the most common symptoms:
No call to action – just a lot of information but no way to act on it.
Too many calls to action – we’ve seen sites with dozens of calls to action – sort of like walking into a crowded room and having everyone calling your name at once – makes you turn around and leave.
Graphics that distract visitors from the call to action. If your call to action is on the left and you have pictures of people in the middle, looking to the right, visitors won’t look left, they’ll look right.
Too much movement. Having an engaging website is to be desired. If you endeavor to engage by several different sections having movement, it is just distracting and leaves visitors lost.
Unchanged in ten or more years. Yes, we regularly have clients come to us who have not updated their site in that long. And yes, by 2019 standards, they are ugly.
Not responsive. Not unresponsive, just not responding to mobile devices. If your site doesn’t conform to responsive standards, it will look ugly on a phone. Just today – in July of 2019 – I came across a site that is not responsive. It just shows a much smaller version of itself. Drop down menus don’t work, hard to click on links because they’re too close together – just a mess.
If you have an ugly site though, there is a cure. We can help. We make beautiful web sites. And you will love the Return on Investment you get because that is how we design every site – with ROI in mind. Call 303-268-2245 ext 4 to turn your ugly baby into an integral part of your business.
Every web site, and every page should have a next step. Why does your business have a website? What is the purpose? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself as you look at the pages on your site.
Sure it should look nice. Yes, it would be great to be optimized for search. But if you aren’t giving your visitors a next step, what do you think their next step will be? That’s right, they’re going to leave.
Many of the next steps are obvious. But some may not be. I click to a page called “Our Team” and see the profiles of key people in the organization. What is the next step I want visitors to take? Time to think about what steps you want people to do.
Call us. Well that was easy. But make it into a button. And put the code into the button so that when I visit the site on my phone and touch the button, it pulls up my dialer and all I have to do is push “call” to be talking to you.
Email us. This is pretty simple too. Make a button with your email address. When someone clicks it, it should open a new email message to you in their email program.
Request a call. If you have people requesting a call, make sure you set the expectation. Will you call right away? Next day? Don’t go longer than that. Within a few hours or next business day is ok. But in any case, set the expectation and then hold yourself to it.
Download <our whitepaper>. But we don’t advocate for calling it a whitepaper. A lawn service or landscaping company might have “Download 10 tips to protect your yard during a bomb cyclone”
View our services <or products>. Since every page should have a call to action, a simple next step like this is great on an About Us page or page that shows the staff.
See what our customers have to say (video or written testimonials). This next step is good to help close the deal if the visitor is on your services or product page. They think it might be a good fit but they’d like to hear from people you’ve actually worked with.
Learn how we have solved problems similar to yours (case studies). Story telling is a compelling sales method and a good next step from a variety of pages on your site. Move people to the page where you show you’ve actually helped real people solve real problems.
Sign up for our newsletter. While email newsletters are kind of a pain – lots of folks sign up and then don’t read them – they are still a powerful sales and marketing tool. And once someone does sign up, even if they aren’t ready to buy, you now have a self-selected lead. That is as good as gold.
View Details about our team. This is a particularly good next step if you are a service organization. Show your services and then the next step is to see who will be carrying out the service.
Learn more about our process. Whether you are selling products and need to outline the process of completing and shipping the order, or selling services and want to help visitors feel more comfortable with the timeline and the next steps, having a next step be “View our Process” or something similar is very effective.
Take a look at your site. You probably have some good content on there already but if you go back and add some solid next steps, your site will be ready to help your business grow.
And while most of these are obvious, if you have an ecommerce site, here are 10 calls to action you should check your site against:
We recently attended an event where Google flew in a trainer to present on Google My Business, Optimizing your website for Google and Pay Per Click campaigns. It was a very good presentation from a polished speaker but the mantra we heard again and again is “This is all free.”
Free is an interesting concept. After 90 minutes of this training, many people were just ready to get started. Getting your business verified will take anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours. Building out your profile and putting the right information in takes careful planning if you want to really grow your business.
Optimizing your website for search engines is free, we learned. But of course, if you do all of this “for free” you will probably wonder if you did it right. You might not know how to track the results. Ah, but we also learned that Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool. EduCyber sets up GA for our hosting clients if they don’t already have it. And we walk them through, on a regular basis the maze of finding the data that means something to them and then helping them interpret what that data means.
The point is, there are many things you can do, and indeed do them
for free, as long as your time is free. But if your time is valuable, if you make more money servicing your clients by producing the goods or services they want, then maybe it isn’t really free.
If you need help with your “Google My Business” profile, with optimizing your site, for measuring the success of optimization, or with a paid search campaign, we can help. This is what we do day in and day out to help our customers get the most of their website while being able to focus on what they do best. Give us a call at 303-268-2245 ext 4 to get help today.