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Archive for 8:12 pm

Web Essentials: The 5 Most Important Elements for Your Business Website Design

April, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Your website should serve as your organization’s best salesperson and a key component of your marketing strategy. Simply popping your business details into a template and sticking it online won’t generate very impressive results. It’s essential to understand the key components of successful web destinations and work to implement them on your site. The following five must-have elements will help transform your site into a veritable online powerhouse.


Navigation: Building a Seamless Menu

On a fundamental level, a straightforward navigation structure simply makes sense. Your site visitors use your menus to browse through the pages of your site, and a confusing system can throw a serious wrench in your sales funnel. The impact of navigation extends far beyond your user experience.

SEO and your site ranking are directly influenced by your menu choices. Search engine crawlers can’t index navigation systems built on Javascript or Flash, so it’s best to choose a simple XHTML or CSS alternative. You should also pay attention to the “depth” of your site. In other words, how many clicks does it take to reach your internal pages? From an SEO standpoint, the fewer clicks, the better.


Content: The King of the Web

“Content is king” is a clever cliche that often spills out of the mouths of web marketers, but it’s hard to overestimate the importance of fresh, compelling content. Continually updating your site contributes to site ranking, while authoritative content builds brand loyalty and cultivates an audience of interested readers. Remember, great content alone isn’t enough — build an editorial calendar and provide new material on a frequent basis.


Visuals: Why Design Still Matters

Sure, a visually appealing site is nice but does design play a role in the health of a modern website? The answer is a resounding yes! As trends shift and mobile devices continue their climb to dominance, versatile, responsive designs play an essential role in a website’s success. Not only do sites need to be compatible with a number of platforms and devices, but they also should be visually optimized to push visitors through your sales funnel.


Imagery: Choosing the Right Photos

Beautiful images offer an additional avenue for capturing the attention of your visitors. Choosing lackluster stock images in lieu of clear, professional shots can have an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on your site’s success. Don’t overlook photography, but work with a local pro to create stunning photos of your products and team. These images convert better than stock alternatives and simultaneously foster authenticity, creating a personal connection to your brand.


Information: Give the Right Details

You’re running a business, not launching a blog for the fun of it. Even if your site is optimized for visitors and features stunning design, you won’t get far without providing a clear snapshot of your business. Make your operating hours, address, and contact information easily accessible, and create snappy headlines to move your visitors through the page. This approach helps ensure every visitor receives the necessary information to patronize your business.

Content that Converts: Creating an Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy

April, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Content marketing has rapidly become a pivotal force in marketing. Custom content spending reached $44 billion in 2013, and the trend has only continued its upward trajectory. While experts continually extol the benefits, well-written content can provide a marketing campaign, it’s important for business owners to grasp the potential content represents for their bottom line. The following tips will provide guidelines to help small business owners effectively incorporate content marketing into their overall digital marketing campaign and discover how to maximize your growth potential through inbound marketing.


Exploring the Benefits of Content

Well-written, informative content pays off handsomely for businesses willing to invest in the creation of these marketing materials. Consider the following advantages content offers:

● Long-term Traffic Acquisition: Unlike PPC advertising campaigns that stop drawing visitors at the termination of a campaign, content attracts new visitors indefinitely.

● Cost-Effective Marketing: Content marketing campaigns offer a scalable solution to fit any company’s marketing budget, big or small. Original, customized content will show results up to 62% faster than traditional marketing while generating three times as many leads.

● Authority Building: Creating great content establishes a brand’s authority and builds clout, in turn leading to a larger digital footprint that translates into more sales and a larger customer base.


Crafting Content that Resonates

The undeniable benefits content generates make it an appealing marketing tool for any business to consider, but it’s not enough to simply slap up a blog post and hope for the best. Instead, savvy entrepreneurs and small business owners must think about their target audience and the information those visitors seek. This information provides essential direction for content development.

When deciding which topics to write about on your blog, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you’re catering to local diners, consider creating a blog post that outlines the story behind your latest menu creation. Generate additional traffic by publishing a list of upcoming events in your local community and feature other businesses in your area. If your sells a product, develop a short outline recommending special occasions where customers might want or need to purchase your product.

The possibilities are truly endless—just make sure you keep the content flowing! Businesses that regularly blog generate up to 67% more leads each month, as opposed to those who neglect content marketing altogether. One helpful way to keep your content development strategy on track is to build an editorial calendar, with upcoming posts scheduled beforehand. This method keeps inbound marketing on the top of your priority list.

Mobile Web Usage Increasing Daily, Is Your Website Ready?

April, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

With the number of active mobile web users increasing daily, responsive web design plays an ever increasing important role in the health and functionality of your website. Mobile sites were once viewed as relatively unnecessary add-ons, but building a dynamic web presence in the 21st century demands focusing your attention on the mobile space.
Responsive web design fills this need by catering to an audience viewing your site using an assortment of operating systems and devices. Best of all, responsive sites don’t require multiple versions that need to be updated— instead, these highly optimized websites shift to fit the screen of each unique visitor.

Exploring How Responsive Web Design Works

Responsive web design, often shortened to RWD in industry circles, ensures every web visitor experiences your website in the same manner, regardless of the platform used to view your site.
A responsive site contains coding language on the backend that instructs the site to check for variables like the screen size and operating system of each visitor. Armed with this information, the site’s layout, navigation system, and content change to provide the best possible viewing experience to visitors.

The need for RWD has exploded in recent years, thanks to the incredible growth witnessed across the mobile industry. A whopping 60% of Internet traffic now originates from mobile devices, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, an impressive 80% of all consumers now own a smartphone that provides access to the web.

Equipping Your Business for Success

While the move towards responsive sites has largely been driven by the sheer number of mobile web users active today, responsive sites also offer an assortment of advantages for your business,
including:

•Simple Management: Responsive sites don’t require multiple marketing campaigns, in contrast to companies that use separate desktop and mobile products.

•Improved User Experience: Web users are notoriously fickle, making it imperative to remove all roadblocks that prevent your visitors from viewing your content.

•Lower Overall Costs: Instead of paying for the ongoing development of two destinations, you only need to invest in a single responsive site.

These factors further contribute to the undeniable value of a responsive web platform.

Preparing for Google’s Next Big Move

The mobile statistics alone clearly demonstrate the need for responsive site design, but industry giants like Google have taken matters a step further. In an effort to provide better search results to its users, Google has announced an impending change to its algorithm that will prioritize mobile-friendly sites over others. In practical application, this means you could see your page rank decline, simply because you don’t cater to users browsing through mobile browsers. Other search engines will no doubt follow suit, making a transition to responsive design urgent.

Embracing responsive web design protects your bottom line and helps your marketing efforts remain effective. As the mobile web continues to expand its dominance, catering to mobile customers simply makes logical sense. Using responsive web design will allow you to easily connect with such consumers while simultaneously keeping your desktop visitors satisfied. It’s a winning combination that can have enormous benefits for your overall business goals.

Tips to Increase Your Business through Review Sites

April, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Social proof plays an essential role in the healthy growth of modern businesses, with feedback on sites like Yelp, Google+, and the BBB providing would-be customers with invaluable information. In an ideal world, your business would never receive a scathing review, but it’s an inevitable challenge you will face as you work to expand your business. Resist the urge to cower and hide when confronted with negative reviews, and instead use these opportunities to put the spotlight on the incredible service you offer. The following reputation management tips will keep your company protected.


Responding to Unhappy Clients

Negative reviews may feel like the end of the world, but don’t let naysayers get the best of you online. Some business owners lash out with unpleasantries while others remain silent in the face of a negative review—unfortunately, neither of these approaches will help your business succeed. Most review sites give businesses a platform for responding to derogatory remarks. Use this interaction to show other customers how you value your clients.

Treat an unhappy digital reviewer the same way you’d respond to an unhappy customer in the real world. For example, if someone complained about the poor quality of your restaurant’s food, you would apologize, offer to remake the dish, or offer a complimentary item from your menu. You should have the same goal in online reputation management. The only difference is you are responding in front of a crowd of spectators.


Incorporating Positive Reviews

An impressive 97% of all American consumers reportedly use search engines to learn more about local businesses. Capturing the attention of the average consumer requires deploying a thoughtful marketing strategy that incorporates positive social proof. Social proof lends credibility to your marketing claims and often makes a dramatic impact on overall foot traffic.

Many review platforms offer widgets you can build directly into your website to showcase positive reviews. Others provide embeddable links you can use to send visitors to your profiles. Use these tools to capitalize on the power of positive social proof.


Building an Active Online Presence

Creating a smart game plan for using both positive and negative reviews to your advantage serves a valuable purpose, but it’s even more effective to develop a proactive presence online. Many review sites, including Yelp and Angie’s List, offer signage you can display to invite customers to leave feedback. Encourage happy clients to post their remarks publicly, while handling any complaints you receive immediately. This two-fold approach helps generate customer loyalty while simultaneously sheltering your business from unwanted negative reviews.

Embracing the world of digital reviews proves challenging for many business owners, but the simple efficacy of these sites makes them a powerful marketing tool for companies of all shapes and sizes. Pay close attention to any review sites where customers leave feedback, and take the time to weigh carefully how best to respond and use these reviews. With a bit of thoughtful analysis and a smart customer service response, you’ll maximize your bottom line and attract new clients in one fell swoop.