Factors Affecting Your Web Site Success

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I went for lunch today at Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli in the Highlands area of northwest Denver. While I don’t go there frequently, I do like their food and atmosphere. But they are in trouble and they might not even be aware of it.

While eating lunch I noticed a young man photographing the street signs on the corner. “Odd behavior” thought I. After a delicious lunch and great conversation, on the way back to my car I saw another man taking a picture with his phone. It looked like he was shooting the street. Not far from him was a man on his phone and I overheard a snippet of conversation that went something like “well I want a police officer out here to look at this.”

Maybe I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it wasn’t until I was half way back to the office that I realized someone had stuck a flyer on my rearview mirror. Only as I pulled it out did I realize that my “flyer” was actually a parking ticket. Then of course I realized why everyone else was acting odd. They too had gotten tickets.

In a tough economy it is not unusual for police departments to become more stingy in their enforcement. Today was apparently street sweeping day and if you stopped to read the small print perhaps you’ll see that on the signs (though with the way folks were behaving, maybe not).

But what happens to the stores in the Highlands area, particularly popular restaurants like Heidi’s? I can certainly tell you that I am less inclined to patronize Heidi’s again.
This is the law of unintended consequences. Something that is pretty much out of control of Heidi’s Deli is harming their business. The people who are paid to protect those businesses and neighbors are actually driving away customers.

What could Heidi’s Deli do about this? They do have some options. They could have their staff ask / warn customers about police eager to ticket. They could put signs in the doors, with warnings. They could work with the city and the police department to figure out a better way to handle parking issues. They could even put yellow tape along the part of the street that runs by their property with a warning. All of these could help their situation and make them into heroes for their customers. On this day, in this situation, they did nothing which hurts their business even more.

So what does this have to do with a blog on Internet Marketing (other than being a venue for me to vent about the DPD)? Everything. Look at your web site. What might be happening on or around your site that is driving people away just as surely as the Denver Police Department is making it clear I shouldn’t do business in the Highlands?

These factors could be things that seem out of your control but they might not actually be. Is your domain name easily misspelled? If so, people might be going to the wrong site. Unless of course you think to purchase common misspellings of your domain and capture that traffic back to your real site. Is your site hosted on a slow server? If people have to wait they simply won’t. They’ll move on to a site that is faster. But you could move your site to a faster server and keep those visitors.

Just like Heidi’s needs to be aware of factors outside of their store that could affect their business, you should be aware of and work to mitigate factors that could affect your web site.


Blogging: The Power of Now

People often ask me why is it so important to use a blogging software like WordPress. I try to explain the intricacies of RSS technology to them – not so really simple after all – at least not to some folks. But now I have a really simple demonstration.

On Monday, September 13th I posted a blog on Setting Rules for Social Networking. To be very precise, I posted it at 2:41 Mountain Time. Nine minutes later I received a Google alert telling me that “Brian DeLaet” had once again been found. . . you guessed it , from my blog that had just been posted.

That says, more eloquently than I can, why you want to leverage technology. And, I’ll put in a plug for our blog tool of choice: WordPress. WordPress is so nice because it is easy to install (most web hosts have an automated installer), is easy to update (usually just a one click update process) and had hundreds of plugins that help you do whatever you might want to do. The plugins themselves are easy even for beginners to get a handle on.

So why would a company want to blog? Let’s see . . . more people coming to visit your web site? More web site visitors inquiring about your services or products? More inquiries turning into sales?

With the speed at which information is made available, you can monitor the news and blog about what is happening as it happens. If you have a tree removal service, for example, you could blog about how important it is for those in mountain communities to leave sufficient space around their homes in case of fires like the Fourmile Canyon fire or Reservoir Road fire. This typically translates into a lot more traffic on your web site and to more tree trimming jobs.

Need help setting up a blog or hosting your blog? We can help. Call us at 303 268-2245.



9 Measurable Social Media Marketing Goals

It seems like I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention lately on helping understand or plan out their goals. Whether it be goals for a new web site or social media marketing goals, it is absolutely critical to have goals and then . . . wait for it . . . actually measure them.

So if your goal is to get more business you’re going to have to refine it just a tad. Otherwise when you get one new customer you will have reached your goal. But what it a good measurable goal for social media marketing? That’s the heart of the matter for most folks. What does a goal look like?

Here are 9 measurable goals for social media that, if they don’t work for you, will hopefully spark something that will work:

  1. 200 more followers on Facebook. This is definitely measurable simply check today and at the end of the time period and see what the change is.
  2. 20 retweets a week on Twitter. This will help you figure out what really gets a lot of attention. Last week’s blog on “5 Biggest Social Media Marketing Mistakes” for example caught a lot of attention.
  3. 15% more click thru’s from Social Media sites to your main web site. This is pretty easy to see how it would translate into more business.
  4. 4. 20% increase in “fans” who “like” your posts on Facebook. Like #2, this will help you figure out what gets people’s attention.
  5. 5. 20 check-ins a week on Foursquare (this is a great site for location based businesses like restaurants, bars or coffee shops). Again, this is easily measured and if you’re getting folks checking in, it gives you a chance to interact – give them a to do while they’re there.
  6. 30 newsletter signups each month directly from Facebook. Check out FBML and learn how to add html to your page.
  7. 10 sales each week from Twitter. You need to be careful about pushing the business too hard in social media but with the right plan and the right product(s) it could work well.
  8. 4 leads each week generated through social media (best tracked if you create a separate landing page for social media). This is more marketing-focused but could really boost your business.
  9. 15% decrease in returns because of customer outreach through social media. Took a different tack on this one to help you imagine the possibilities. It’s not necessarily directly sales related. If you’re saving costs on the backend, you’ll be more profitable.

Note that all nine of these are very measurable. Note also that these are just the goals. Once you have the goal established you need to develop the tactics you will employ to achieve your goal. What are your goals?



Are You Paying Attention?

Everybody is so busy. We have to – or at least we feel like we have to – multi-task throughout the day. But does it really work? This morning I realized that my fruit shake wasn’t going to keep me going until lunch time so while I was out and about I swung through McDonald’s drive thru.

First I heard a voice that was so soft I couldn’t hear what was said. I asked her to repeat what she said. She was ready for my order! So I ordered the breakfast meal I wanted and asked for coffee for the drink. A few seconds later she asked for my order. A bit confused I ordered again. She repeated my order and asked if that was all. I said yes. Then she asked what I wanted to drink with my meal. At that point I realized that she was not paying attention to me at all. She was so busy taking money from the customers in line ahead of me that she had no idea where I was in the ordering process. I pulled out of line and moved on.

Arriving at Starbucks I had to get out of my car but the staff inside were friendly and polite and they only paid attention to one customer at a time. I was struck by the difference as I ordered only once and got what I ordered.

So how does that apply to a web site? Too often web sites try to be all things to all people. In fact, it is not infrequent that a client or potential client will tell me, with a straight face, that their target market is everybody or at least every business.

If everybody is your target then you’re like the lady at McDonalds that is so busy taking money from customers that she couldn’t really pay attention to me as I ordered. She couldn’t figure out where to focus.

Take a look at your web site today. Think about it not as a business owner but as a potential customer. Are you paying attention? Is it clear what the next step is? Or in an effort to be all things to all people are you paying attention to no one?


Should You Quit?

What do you need to quit?

Since I finished reading Seth Godin’s “The Dip” this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about quitting. No, I’m not quitting my business – I love what I do, but I am thinking about what tactics I’m using in business that aren’t working and determining how and what to quit.

Sounds easy right?

Think again.

It was easy for me to tell a customer not to spend time and money redesigning his site but instead to spend that same amount of time writing blogs for his site. He wants to increase visitors and getting good content out there via his blog is the best way.

But the hard part is determining what is working. I’m considering joining a new networking group. One person I spoke with said in nine years that he never got a customer from the group. But in this, his 10th year, he got two and for his line of business, that is an excellent ROI.

I’ve had a similar experience, participating for years in a group before my investment pays off. So how do you know what to quit and when? How do you know when to stay, to gut it out through the dip because the reward is so great?

Seriously. How do you know?

Share your thoughts.


Social Media Marketing Sites as Databases

The other day I was giving a seminar on Social Media Marketing. We went through three different sites, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as a part of the presentation. In the middle of the LinkedIn presentation, one participant got completely confused and needed to come up for air. Why?

The Internet is one vast database. Each of these sites is a huge database. The cool part about having a database is being able to retrieve information from that database that interests you. Because that is the cool part, those who create these databases have ways to interface or pull information and even re-arrange it or reformat it to meet your needs. These are called apps or applications.

That part is pretty easy to understand. That is the theory side of it. The part that begins to get confusing is the implementation side. Because if I am involved in, for example, both LinkedIn and Twitter, I might think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to pull information from Twitter and embed it in LinkedIn?” You bet it would.

But we went the first to think of it. Actually the folks at LinkedIn thought of it and created an app called Company Buzz. So right in the middle of my LinkedIn presentation, as I was demonstrating Company Buzz and how it lets me see what people are saying about my company and, for that matter, about any other company or key word that I want, this participant asked if I was speaking about LinkedIn or Twitter.

Yes was my reply. Company Buzz is just one example of how applications can pull (or even push) information from more than one database to show you the information you want.

OK, I gave her more than a Yes. I took the time to explain pretty much what I just blogged about.


Making Money in Tough Times: Five Tips to Stay Ahead

Is your business growing? Why not? If historical trends hold true, we should be coming out of the recession soon. Wouldn’t you rather come out poised to grow instead of scrambling to keep up?

There are lots of things you can do to make money and grow, even when a recession might tempt you to shrink or think small:

  1. Look at your web site through the eyes of your customers. Does it make sense? Do you have a clear call to action on each page / section?
  2. Look through your existing customers keeping in mind what you offer and what they have purchased. Offer an upsell based on what you find. Perhaps if they’ve bought one item or service from you, there is a natural progression (or you can create a “natural” progression) for the next level.
  3. Leverage relationships. I recently found myself short-staffed. I was able to leverage a relationship with a key partner to have him service some of my existing customers. He made money and my customers didn’t experience a lag in service.
  4. One of my favorite new money-makers is turning things I’ve already created into information products that I can resell. For example, you can purchase one of our ebooks online or, if you’ve missed a seminar that EduCyber offers and really wanted to get it, you can purchase the audio online. If I can do it, so can you.
  5. The old adage that you have to spend money to make money still holds true. We are investing in new technology and investing the time to stay on top of trends in the Internet so that we can make even more money moving forward. What can you invest in (either time or money) that will pay dividends moving ahead?

Growing in a Down Economy

How do you grow your business in a down economy? There are lots of cliché’s I could throw out there. But it really comes down to tuning out the naysayers and focusing on what you do best. So here’s what the technology experts at EduCyber recommend:

  1. Turn off the TV. Leave it on too long and you’ll be barraged with advice to give it up because the economy is tanking.
  2. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Strongly related to the first tip, the point is that you still have your business. Look at ways to expand your customer base, increase sales to existing customers, or make bigger sales to new customers.
  3. Leverage your existing IT infrastructure. Sounds like big business but it isn’t. There are always efficiencies that can be gained. Take the time up front for training or learning how to best use your network and applications.  Greater efficiency equals more money for your bottom line.
  4. Look at your web site. Can  you sell more products to more people through it? Can you target your ideal client more effectively through paid advertising or paid search?
  5. Continue to invest in yourself and your company. When others see that you’re investing in yourself, they’ll know you aren’t going anywhere. This will help them make the (right) decision to do business with  you.