Website Design and In-Bound Marketing for Small Business

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We live in the digital age and every business needs a professional website. A custom website is often the first impression a prospective client sees of your business. Even if your business gains most of its clients by referral, most referrals will check you out on the web before contacting you. So maintaining a professional website is essential to effective marketing, even for referrals.  Websites vary by product, industry and market. The website needs for a local dentist, differ widely from say the website for Coca Cola. You know the saying in business, what works for P&G doesn’t necessarily work for you and me. So keep these tips in mind for your small business.

1)     Maintain a professional, current themed website. Understand the most current trends in color and design. Websites can age very quickly. And clients can easily identify a professional website design that is out of date.  Just like fashion design, custom website designs come and go. Look to redesign every three years.

 

2)     Navigating your custom website should be simple. Visitors can become frustrated and leave the site if they get lost in the site and can’t navigate their way to the pages and information they are looking for. Always keep the Navigation Bar at the top of the page, always.

 

3)     Maintain a professional website design. In the small local business market you have lots of competition. Having a home grown website will hurt your image.  A custom website includes professional photography, copy writing, a blog post, and links to social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. The additional expense for these features for a site that is 5 to 7 pages is minimal. And you will appear in the market far ahead of your competitors by doing so.

 

4)     Keep your message simple and to the point. Your prospect has landed on your site because they were searching on a particular topic or referred by a current client. So keep your message short and sweet. Don’t provide too much information. Visitors don’t want to read a novel. We live in a sound bite culture and people prefer to look at pictures rather than read text. You want them to contact you, so don’t spill all the candy on the page.

 

5)     Include a CTA (Call to Action) on each page. Small, local businesses are built on relationships and referrals. So the sooner the prospect contacts you by email or telephone the sooner you have the opportunity to build a relationship with your new prospect. So ask them to email or call now! Make your custom website work for you. It’s a sales force if managed correctly.

 

6)     If you plan to run Search Engine Advertising on Google, Yahoo or Bing, create specific landing pages detailing the offering you are advertising. By doing so you will increase the click through rate and reduce the bounce rate. In addition consider offering a coupon or a special to engage the client in your business. You paid good money for that click, now reel in the prospect with the right message and a special offer.

 

7)     Include a testimonials tab on your site. Small local businesses thrive on referrals. However the web has the potential to bring you clients who are blindly searching. So give them some referrals by publishing testimonials on a recurring basis. Nothing will sell your product better than a happy, current client.

 

8)     Demonstrate your Subject Matter Expertise (SME) through the use of a Blog Post. Most small business owners have been practicing their trade for 15 years or more. Clients come to you and refer you to others because they trust your knowledge and expertise. So take the time each month and draft a short Blog on a current topic in your industry. This will also increase your search ranking. Blogging is excellent SEO.

 

9)     Maintain your website with current content. Static websites rank poorly by search engines and eventually lose value to attract, engage and retain current and future prospects. Your industry is most likely changing with the market (unless you sell No. 2 Pencils), so take the time throughout the year to update content that is relevant and current for your market and industry.

 

Differentiate yourself. Your professional website should be a reflection of you, your business expertise and personality. So be sure that your site feels comfortable for you and your clients. It should feel like that nice, well-worn pair of jeans you wear on a Saturday around your home. It’s your store front. So make it inviting and encourage the visitors to come on in!

Mark Alexander is a Partner with Triangle WebCare, an Internet Marketing Firm specializing in Custom Website Design, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Advertising, Social Media Marketing and Internet Marketing Services for small business’s located in Raleigh and the Triangle area of North Carolina. www.trianglewebcare.com

Blogging to Market Your Small Business

Is a Blog an effective marketing tool for your small business? Absolutely, in fact a regularly published Blog is now a common practice among  businesses. And it is a great way for your small business to share its expertise and connect with online users.

If you are a small business owner, blogging is a great way to market your business. An effective business blog will provide your audience unique and valuable information about your business or industry that clearly demonstrates your expertise in your field.  Blogs will increase your credibility, boost your website traffic, and provide a personality behind your brand.  A business blog engages new prospects, and informs and sells to your audience in a way that lends both personality and credibility to your brand. When you are positioned as the subject matter expert (SME), you have a much better chance to increase market share and gain the confidence of current and potential new clients.

Why Should I Blog?

As mentioned above, when you create an effective blog you are marketing yourself and your business as the subject matter expert (SME) in your occupation or industry. Let’s face it, you’re much more of an expert than you realize.  And most of your clients come to you because they trust your quality of work and knowledge in your field. We all want to do business with the person we believe knows the most about their profession. Most small business owners have been practicing their trade for 20 years or longer. You are a wealth of knowledge; a walking encyclopedia of information about your industry. You’re the best kept secret in your business. By blogging your expertise, you will gain recognition in the market and valuable traffic to your website. A well managed blog will benefit your business by creating valuable content for your web presence including your website and social media platforms. Unique and current content will increase your domain search engine rank, website traffic, and create the “Halo” effect of being a published authority in your field.

Let’s Get Started

A effective business blog is an online article, published by you, for the purpose of providing valuable information to your clients, current content for your web presence, and demonstrate your expertise. It is likely between 400 and 600 words, about one typed page in length. Consider writing about new trends in your field, changes to your industry, new laws and regulations, or new product developments and shifts in the marketplace.  And don’t forget to offer contrast between the present and the past, demonstrating your longevity and years of valuable experience.

A small business blog should be posted on your website, not offsite. Search engines look for changing content on your website. Sure link-backs add value but not as much for a small business. So keep the content on your website to maximize SEO. For social media purposes connect your Blog feed to twitter and Facebook. Back-links will also increase your SEO rank.

A good blogging strategy is to pick a topic in your field, on a monthly basis, and begin documenting your thoughts. Start with a simple outline, the “who, what, where and why”, and then start writing.  Keep it simple. Think about the most common questions you are asked by your clients, or the most current events in your industry.  Blog consistently, Stick with your knitting, make sure it is your point of view, clearly sharing your expertise in your field. And don’t forget to let your personality shine through. Remember in the small business community, people do business with people, be sincere and authentic.

So let’s get started. Open up, share your expertise. Position yourself as the SME in your field in your market, and watch your business grow!

Mark Alexander is a Partner with Triangle WebCare, an Internet Marketing Firm specializing in Website Design and Internet Marketing Services for small business’s located in Raleigh and the Triangle area of North Carolina

www.trianglewebcare.com

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Today you have to provide the potential customer some sort of value to gain their attention. Old marketing ways of direct mail, cold calling, and spam, are often ignored. By marketing through 2-way communication, in which is company provides valuable information for the client, your marketing will not only be more effective, but also more affordable. This infographic explains all the reasons why companies should shift towards inbound marketing efforts.

Today you have to provide the potential customer some sort of value to gain their attention. Old marketing ways of direct mail, cold calling, and spam, are often ignored. By marketing through 2-way communication, in which is company provides valuable information for the client, your marketing will not only be more effective, but also more affordable. This infographic explains all the reasons why companies should shift towards inbound marketing efforts.

Pinterest

Small businesses know it is critical to have a Facebook and Twitter social media presence. Depending on your industry, however, it is almost more important to have a Pinterest. Pinterest is a photo sharing social media site that has accumulated over 14.9 million unique users as of July 2012. It is also currently the third most popular social media site, and is extremely popular among women. If your small business produces “photogenic” products, take the time to explore Pinterest as an effective marketing tool.

Pinerly provides some great basic tips for Pinterest:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/tag/pinterest/

www.trianglewebcare.com

Small Business Trends: 6 Must-Haves for Your Small Business Website

Lisa Barone of Small Business Trends lists the six things that are absolutely necessary for a small business’s website.

  1. Inuitive Navigation. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to see all you have to offer. Keep your website recognizable and simple.
  2. Sticky Content. What is sticky content? Anything that makes your site unique and lures your them in further. An example of this could be downloadable content or blog posts. It is important to highlight this feature, so the attention is drawn to what you deem are your business’s best qualities.
  3. A Blog. Barone states, “Your blog is your company voice and what gives your company a personality.”
  4. Your Address, Phone Number & Contact Information. You want to make sure your potential client have many outlets to get in touch with you.
  5. Reviews. It establishes credibility and helps reduce risk for potential customers.
  6. Calls to Action. Take away distractions so customers know exactly what you want them to do whether it is to buy something or to sign up for a newsletter. Make sure your objective is clear.

http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/02/6-must-haves-for-your-small-business-web-site.html

www.trianglewebcare.com

 

Where does your Google Ad rank?

Most people are aware that bidding is an important part of where your Google Ad ranks. But, did you know that your Quality Score is actually equally, if not more important? Your Quality Score is determined by your keyword’s click-through rate, relevance of your ad’s text, historical keyword performance and other relevancy factors. In the video below, the Google’s Chief Economist explains how a high quality score can impact your ad’s position.

www.trianglewebcare.com

Search Engine Watch: Brag & Sell? Can You Increase Your Market Share by Bragging?

Bragging is a great way to attract potential customers and encourage them to purchase your product or service. If done correctly, bragging creates:

  • Perceived Value: By bragging that your product or service is of value, customers are more enticed to purchase from you.
  • Credibility: Simply bragging, though, often isn’t enough to convince your potential clients that they should choose you over the competition. By bragging about your certifications or experience, customers will begin to believe the perceived value you’ve projected.
  • Risk Reduction: By creating a strong creditability, customers will think their purchase is less of a risk. Customers are more likely to follow through with purchases when they have less doubt about the business or product.

It is important, though, that your bragging is both legal and subtle. Claiming that you are the “best” or “#1” can often lead to trouble if it is not supported with third party data. Also, if you are too overt, potential customers might interpret your bragging as fictitious. So, if you choose to use bragging as a marketing tactic, make sure that is believable and factual.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2199400/Brag-Sell-Can-You-Increase-Your-Market-Share-by-Bragging  

www.trianglewebcare.com

Posted in SEM