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January 2010 - Search Engine Marketing & Optimization
A blog for truly small businesses

Monthly Archives: January 2010

If it’s unsolicited – it’s SPAM

This is a friendly reminder to my friends and followers that Web Marketing does not give us a license to intrude on the very busy lives of our customers. Please review the guidelines established in the Can SPAM act of 2003 and make sure that your company is never accused of being a “spammer”. Please share this with anyone you know that likes to do “email marketing”.

Being an internet marketing pro – I am in full support of email marketing. However, I provide my clients the tools to comply and help them navigate these verysensitive waters with care. My company pays almost $400.00 per month to “filter spam”. Wouldn’t it be great if that wasn’t a necessary expense? Play nice – there are lots of people that do want to hear from you – manage your lists and make it EASY for people to opt out any time without a hassle.

Don’t spill all of your jellie beans in the lobby!

A hundred years ago, when I first decided to make my “profession” sales, I took a Dale Carnegie class. One of the things I carry with me to this day is that statement. The point the instructor was making was – don’t go into the sales presentation so excited to tell the customer all the reasons YOU think your product is great. Instead, give them just enough information to make them beg you to make the sale.

Years later, I applied this same principle in resume writing and job search coaching. I helped my clients sort out their skills and capabilities and decide which ones would make it so the person reading the resume couldn’t stand it – they just HAD to meet you! I would remind them that the resume was not supposed to get you the job – it was supposed to get you the interview. The ones that “got” this did extremely well.

I have found this theory applies to websites too. The goal with (most) websites is not to close the sale. The goal is to encourage the visitor to want to do business with you. Of course, if your intent is to sell products on line you might think this isn’t really the case… but it still is – they may come to your site looking for one thing but why not make them interested in learning about the rest of what you have to offer?

Don’t try to be all things to all people on your home page. Instead, provide “grabbers” and insights that will interest the variety of customers you may have and make it easy for them to drill down into the meat of what they are looking for – on ecommerce sites this is pretty easy – you can use product categories as a navigation system – but that idea can cross over to any website. In fact, this is one of the reasons blogs are so popular – it’s easy for the blogger to create navigation tools for their visitors. For example, the title of this post is Don’t spill all of your jellie beans in the lobby – but I gave it tags like “Getting people to your website is only the first step”, “How do customers find my product or service”, “Design Vs. Function” etc etc. This is becaues different people look for answers in different ways.

Upcoming posts…

What do we need to tell our customers right way?

How do we support our the claims we make about the products or services we deliver?

Create a call to action….

You only get one chance at a first impression

This is an old saying but still a true statement. When considering where to go with your website development plan it’s a critical consideration. It’s easy to get sucked into the “glamour” of a beautiful website – but will it keep your potential customer’s interest? One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to spend money “foolishly” on their first website. I’ve been in this business for more than 10 years now – I’ve seen a lot of really ugly websites – but in all honesty some of the ugliest websites are getting the BEST results! Why? because they carry the CONTENT that the site visitor is seeking and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Content aside though, you want your first time visitors to feel good about taking time to look around. I encourage my clients to consider these 3 points:

1. Content will bring them in.

2. Design will get them to stop for a minute

3. Usability will encourage them to hang around and learn why they should choose YOUR company to meet their needs.

Even I forget the importance of easy navigation some times. If, like me, a person spends much time browsing the web getting around websites becomes second nature but if your target market might (and most do) include people that view the web as a tool and not a passtime, beware – if you make it hard to get around the most beautiful graphics in the world will not keep them there.

To make a good first impression – combine the best of the best:

Make sure your site provides enough information to make them glad they clicked the link to get there.

Make sure your design – color and graphics theme – is appealing to your target market – if you have a broad range of demographics it’s always better to go for “understated elegance” than totally now graphics – it’s just like a job interview – better to have your outfit unnoticed than noticed for all the wrong reasons!

Make it easy to do more than walk in the front door. Don’t try to break out of the box – people are used to some basic navigation tools – if you don’t provide them they might find someone that will. Think about it – no matter how GREAT a restaurant might be – if it’s hard to get there you won’t go nearly as often as you would if it were just around the corner and had plenty of free parking.

1. Determine who your customer is/will be (target audience):

Who will be coming to your site – people who you tell to go there (you will drive traffic to your website via other marketing channels such as a sales force or they are already clients and you want to enhance the services you offer them) or people that have a need for your product or service but don’t know you offer it?

  • If most clients will be coming to your site because of other marketing / advertising strategies what is the purpose of your site?
    • To share supporting examples of your previous/current services or products such as a portfolio?
    • To facilitate 24/7 communications – such as a customer relationship portal, appointment requests or to let people know your daily specials or current events?
  • Are you looking for new customers?
    • How will they search for you if they don’t know your product or service exists?
      • Talk to your existing customers, friends, associates or even strangers and ask them “If you were looking to (buy, learn, hire someone to) [your service or product] what words would you use to look for it?
      • Develop as many words and short phrases as you can that people might use to find you – don’t stay with terms you or people in your industry use – think like someone who has never heard of your company, service or product.
  • What will your visitors expect when they get to your site?
    • Are they highly technical looking to be impressed by your use of technology?
    • Are they young, old, Male, Female, computer savvy or computer illiterate?
    • Are they looking for a local solution – is your location important to them?
  • Will they want detailed information or easy access to basic information?
    • Are they potential clients that need more information about you or your services to convince them that you are the right choice for the job such as references or testimonials?
    • Are they looking for information such as hours and location only?
    • What do they need to know about you or your company to decide to take action?
    • Do they want to be able to complete transactions or submit information during non-standard business hours?

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