Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Website Marketing and Conversion, Step 1

Do you really want to boost the business results from your website? Then you have to begin taking the steps like SEO (search engine optimization), web content creation, competitor analysis, email management and many others but today let's focus on step 1, generating traffic. Traffic to your website is critical to making it a success and here are 5 simple tips to get you off to a good start. Once you have traffic, you can create conversion which leads to revenue and the more you invest in getting this formula right the more it will pay off for you in the growth of your business. Ok, let's get into the traffic building...

1- Create real content that your website visitors are looking for. Of course you need to know what they're looking for, but let's assume you do, well provide them with what they want to know. There is nothing as simple as telling them the truth about your offering and how it addresses their problem. The more material both written, images, video etc. that you can provide that talks about your solution for their problem the more that they are going to like your website and engage with the information.

2- Make certain that your content is SEO friendly. This takes time but pays off big in the long run. Using something as simple as the Google Adwords Keyword tool will give you some good ideas on how to make your copy and the html tags for your images and other content SEO friendly. When you use this information to create relevant content that uses the kind of language that site visitors use to find you, up go the traffic numbers.

3- Blog! This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to create content that your target audience is looking for. Don't make the mistake of using an application that hosts your blog, but instead, host it on your own website in a sub-domain like "yourcompanyname.blog.com". By doing this and creating content with SEO in mind you'll become a favourite of the search engines and the internet super highway will have a main road through your website for the targeted traffic you are looking for.

4- Engage with social media. Create a company facebook page, twitter, linkedin and others and participate in the discussion. Don't be overwhelmed by this, it can be as simple as you want, but again, as you create more doors and windows to your business, more traffic will follow.

5- Here we go again...MAKE A PLAN! Detail what and when you are going to do the things that are outlined here. Failing to plan is a plan to fail, it can't be said any more clearly.

There you go. These tips are certain to help boost the traffic that's coming to your website. Next we'll talk about converting the visitor and beginning to have a relationship with them with the goal of making them a new client. If you're looking for an all in one solution please check out www.hubspot.com they have an outstanding software program that will help you achieve all you want online and more using inbound marketing in ways you may not know even exist. If you want help, get in touch with me, I'd be glad to assist in any way that I can.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Website Marketing and Conversion, 3 Steps

The terms web marketing, SEO, social media etc. are now heard, well in my case daily, but even for unrelated businesses, they're out there and used regularly, but are you taking advantage of what they can do for your business?

Recently I was sitting with a new prospect who owns a small business and brochure style website that wasn't really doing anything for the business other than providing a space that he could direct people to. It has a few pictures of work done, descriptions of services offered and basic contact information...pretty uninspiring overall. I asked him what he would like the website to do for the business and the answer was (as I expected) generate leads that he could turn into business, what every business wants in an ideal world. I know this is hard to believe for some of you, but if this is truly what you want, you can easily achieve your goal, but you must invest either time, capital and sometimes both to achieve what you want...more business!

The process is simple really and involves only three steps however, these three steps can vary in complexity and depend on what resources you can and will allocate to getting the job done. Over the next few entries I will expand on each step but here in very simplest terms are the steps:

1- Generate traffic- Provide optimized content, consider blogging and social media;
2- Provide for conversions- To create leads develop conversion forms, landing pages and make sure you're tracking the outcomes;
3- Monitor results- Use tools that provide competitor analysis, lead scoring and marketing analytics so that you can effectively see what's working and what's not.

As mentioned, it is really three simple steps but there is much to consider for each of these steps. Too often companies start out in only one direction and then when they don't get the desired results they throw their hands up and say "It doesn't work!". It does work, but you need a comprehensive plan that allows you to make it work and as mentioned you'll have to commit time and or resources to get it done. The result, more business, more cost effectively resulting in better profits for you.

Consider this; my prospective client spent about $10,400 in trade shows last year and figures that he got about $20,000 in business for his efforts...not good! Spend that same money to create a better website properly planned, constructed and implemented and you'll get the results you are looking for, more business with greater profitability...Make it so #1!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, June 8, 2009

Free Website Development Tools

Small business is in a tough position, you want to make the business grow and you know that there is opportunity with the internet, you just don't have the resources (here I'm talking of capital resources) to take advantage of what's out there to help you. Maybe you've even heard that there are many tools offered that target your problem in a cost effective way, either free or very low cost, but finding them can be time consuming. Here I offer for you 20 great tools that you can use which fit into the category of free or very low cost. They will help you, you just have to use them. If you don't...know that your competition is, so invest the time or hire someone who will invest the time on your behalf, the cost of inaction to your business is too high!

CRM - contact and lead tracking, sales and contact management, sales pipeline management and forecasting, customer service and business management. Keep yourself organized! Free version available from www.freecrm.com, from $7/mo at www.sugarcrm.com

Market Research - Google Alerts is a "must-have” clipping service. Set up your favorite key words and www.google.com/alerts finds and delivers articles about any subject of your choosing to your inbox every day. Watch for news and mentions of your own company, your customers and your competitors. Free

Creative Design – Want a design for a new logo, brochure, website or business card? Go to either www.crowdspring.com or www.99designs.com, upload your requirements, run a contest and pick your favourite. You pick the purse size, I’ve seen contests get dozens of great results for only a few hundred dollars.

Marketing Collateral – Want fast easy printing? Upload files for brochures, business cards and stationary. These companies, www.overnightprints.com and www.vistaprint.com, will print and ship – too easy. vistaprint.com is also available in Canada at www.vistaprint.ca

Permission-based Marketing – create and send opt-in newsletters, deliver and track blog posts and updates to customers, prospects and colleagues. www.campaigner.com starts at $10/mo, www.constantcontact.com starts at $15/mo

Accounting – track your time and expenses, manage contractors, send and manage your invoices, totally on-line, getting rave reviews. Join the wave at www.freshbooks.com, pricing starts at $15/mo

Conference Calling – when you need to convene a meeting (and look professional doing it), you can get free reservationless conference calling at www.freeconference.com

Remote PC Access – for those times when you need to get to a file on your computer but your computer is in your office and you’re not. www.gotomypc.com starts at $20/mo

Long Distance Calling - www.skype.com offers free or very low cost long distance calling (works best with headphones), and it can also do conference calls

Project Management – web-based project management software that marries time tracking and task management in a collaborative online space with powerful reporting. www.myintervals.com is $20 for up to 15 projects

Taking orders/selling stuff – the dead easy way to accept credit cards on your website, www.paypal.com only charges you when you sell, a transaction fee up to 3% of sale value

Keeping track of it all - make notes on anything on the web or on your computer using www.evernote.com and have these memory joggers available (and search able) at any time - free
Sending really big files – www.yousendit.com – for when you need to send a really big file that your customer may not be able to receive otherwise, or when you absolutely need to know a file reached it’s intended recipient – yousendit has a pay as you go option or plans from $10/mo

Virtual Fax – if you deal with Fortune 1000 companies you know how they love their faxes. www.efax.com lets you receive faxes in your email account instead of on a fax machine – way more convenient. You can also send scanned docs as faxes using the same service. Starts at $17/mo

On-line Meetings – www.dimdim.com makes your meeting almost as good as in-person and much less expensive than airfare. Use it to deliver synchronized live presentations, whiteboards and web pages and share their voice and video over the Internet. Free and $20/mo options

Virtual Receptionist - an Internet voicemail system accessible by phone, email, or the web. an auto-attendant that acts as your virtual receptionist. You can create virtual mailboxes for your employees and enjoy voicemail call forwarding, call transfers, call routing, voicemail notifications, and much more.... www.my1voice.com from $10/mo

Transcription – For those people who just hate to type but love to talk, you can record your messaging, upload it to www.speakwrite.com and receive a typed doc back via email in about 3 hours.

Sharing your thoughts – absolutely the best way to publish your powerpoint presentations on the web and share them with others - www.slideshare.com is free

Document sharing and collaboration – my personal favorite, docs.google.com allows you to upload word or excel files and work on them collaboratively with selected people. Takes all the hassle out of emailing docs around for comments. - free

Running an event? Use www.eventbrite.com to create a webpage for your event, accept and manage registrations and even publish who has RSVP’d. Free if your event is free, 2.5% of ticket price for paid events.

Many thanks to the group of great people at www.onedegree.ca for compiling this information!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Blogging...

Well here it is Friday morning. I got up this morning a little earlier than normal, it must have something to do with the phase of the moon!

If you've just entered into the world of blogging (like me) and are watching what is happening with respect to your traffic through web analytics then you might notice something interesting...generally, Friday posts don't get the same traction as those entries posted earlier in the week. I wonder why that would be. I guess it's true as a song said "Everybody's working for the weekend." So, what does this mean? Well, if you want to reach out with a message, get it together earlier in the week!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keeping Social Media Fun

As I speak with more and more businesses on the subject of social media engagement and what they can expect from their effort, I'm also recognizing that these initiatives can get tiresome and become just one more thing that has to get done on a list of many. Questions start coming up about whether this is really worth the effort. Do you want to achieve a richer web presence? Elevate your search rankings? Drive traffic to your website? Ultimately these are questions you'll have to answer for yourself but before making any rash decisions consider this; if you aren't engaged who is? You're competition? If so, why are they and not you? In the end analysis it all comes down to ROI. A well planned and thought out social media campaign will drive traffic to you and assuming you have a website that has been carefully designed to achieve the conversion you want, more traffic = more conversions = more customers. If not yours your competitions...what does that cost you?

This article I found today and it gives great direction about how to keep your social media initiative vibrant and on track: http://econsultancy.com/blog/3936-keeping-social-media-sustainable It's a very worthwhile read and only takes about 2 minutes to get through, well worth the investment if you're considering some sort of social media engagement or need to re-ignite the effort.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse