What Makes a Good Website?

websites laptops workThere’s no secret trick to a web page that will bring customers back again and again, but there are certain steps you can take to greatly improve your site. One of the key things to consider is making the site as user-friendly and accessible as possible. Your site should have a simple, easy to use navigation interface, as well as pages that load quickly and tell your visitors what they need to know up front. It should be full of great content, regularly updated, intuitive and, through a combination of these factors, provide you with a decent visitor-customer conversion rate.

If your website is for a business, you should strive to make it appeal to your ideal customer. Visitors to your website are primarily hunters, looking for select information, and if they can’t find it on your site in a matter of seconds, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere. By imagining what it’s like to be the customer you’re targeting, and dealing with every query they could possibly have about your products or services, you’ll be able to build up an important trust between you and your customer base. This can be much more effective in gaining and retaining customers than hard-sale strategies used by a lot of other sites.

Another important factor to consider when setting up a website is good copywriting. High-quality content is more important on the web than a lot of people think, and sites with gleaming records for repeat visitors and customers owe much of this to great copy. You wouldn’t trust a site teeming with spelling mistakes and mundane copy, and neither will your customers. A good choice when recruiting a copywriter to your business, or outsourcing work to freelancers, will go much further than you’d expect. Just make sure whoever you hire has a decent background and a solid understanding of your business goals, and they’ll create the content required to meet those goals and hook in potential customers.

You could have the most well-designed website in the world, but that isn’t worth anything if it isn’t seen by anyone. Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of meticulously crafting every part of your site so that it appears higher in the search results for certain keywords. While several huge companies exist simply to provide SEO, there are a few simple but effective tactics you can utilize yourself to improve your site’s search engine ranking. One such tactic is researching keywords you want to rank highly in results for, then incorporating them frequently in the copy of your website. Don’t oversaturate your pages though; look instead for the perfect balance of frequent terms and professional, engaging copy. Google Adwords’ keyword tool is a simple and effective way of doing this. Links are also very important in terms of search engine optimisation. Do whatever you can to get links to your website in good content on high-ranking websites. Backlinks, as they are known, when accompanied by natural-reading copy, tells a search engine your site can be trusted, and pushes it higher in search rankings.

What do you think makes a good website? Please leave your comments below…

How to Use Social Media for Brand Storytelling

BookSocial media strategy and proper brand recognition are so intertwined these days it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. With half the world online it seems and the majority of them engaged in social media, it’s important to understand how storytelling on social media can build your brand and encourage engagement.

It has been said that advertising isn’t read but rather encourages interest and that’s probably never been truer than it is today. The digital age has encourage people to browse quickly and focus little on the images that flash across their screen. If you can get to grips with good storytelling in your social media then you can learn to keep attention on your brand.

Make sure you make your storytelling personal. One of the best things about social media is that you can make a real connection to your target audience. It’s never been easier for there to be a real back and forth between you as the brand and your customers and you should use that fact to make your storytelling as engaging as possible. Pay attention to your client base or target audience, write stories that they can connect with emotionally, try and find away to go beyond just advertising and into actual emotional engagement. If you manage this then you can form a real bond.

Subtlety is your friend in storytelling. The general public can tell the difference between an obvious sob story and something genuine and they’ll be quick to turn away if they feel your tugging at the heartstrings in a disingenuous manner. Try and keep you storytelling real and avoid hyperbole. Talk about the things that actually matter to your brand and people can’t help but engage.

Whilst avoiding overselling is key you should also remember not undersell yourself. Storytelling to promote your brand is advertising after all so remember to sell yourself, even if you do so subtly. This approach to brand growth is about making a connection through storytelling but it’s important to make sure you keep on message and use your storytelling to promote the brand and show yourself in a positive light.

Always keep an eye on the consistency of your message. Good storytelling should keep people coming back time and time again, that’s the point. If you’re style varies a lot then engagement will me hard to maintain. Try and keep consistent style whilst still pushing you message with every attempt and you’ll not only retain your audience but give your brand a positive boost at the same time.

Above all else though write from a positive stand point. If you love your brand and you want it to grow then that will come through in your writing. Remember that this is what you love and put that into your writing and the process will be fruitful and enjoyable.

How do you use social media for brand storytelling? Is it a big part of your overall marketing plan?

How to Boost Lead Conversions Using Social Media

canstockphoto19605514The rise of social media has provided new opportunities for businesses to reach out to their target customers. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide a resource by which firms can engage with potential customers in real time, and the informal nature of social media has helped businesses to expose their products and services to potential buyers in a friendlier, less ‘sales-y’ way.

Whilst social media can increase website footfall and lead conversion, it is important that campaigns on these platforms are structured in order to be successful. Social media is not a panacea: good marketing looks to utilise social media as part of an overall strategy. Here are some tips for successful social media marketing:

Focus The Strategy

A common mistake made by businesses new to social media is to use every single platform to reach the largest audience possible. The object of the exercise is to gain exposure to a targeted customer base,so before attempting to find leads, businesses should use social media to research potential customers and their habits.

A good example here is the use of LinkedIn as a platform, where the user base consists largely of businesses and professionals. This is fine for a company looking to convert business-to-business leads, but campaigns aiming to reach the general public may not be so successful.

Keep it Natural

If social media can be credited with one success, it’s proving that the hard sell is no longer the best way of converting leads. People use social media to share ideas, and Facebook has been on the receiving end of criticism for its over-reliance on advertising.

Whichever social media is used for marketing, the content should be tailored to the platform. Whilst a more direct approach might be appropriate on LinkedIn, sites such as Facebook are more informal. Pushing a product too hard can alienate the very people who might become customers.

Content should be eye-catching, and make people want to read blog posts for the interest factor. Linking to relevant news stories on Facebook and Twitter helps to humanise the brand, improving customer engagement.

Whilst lead conversion is the name of the game, this is best achieved on social media with a consultative approach whereby products are marketed as solutions, with followers being able to gain information on products in their own time.

The Call to Action

The only way to use social media for lead conversion is to gain followers. However, whilst this may generate leads, it is the call to action that converts these to sales. Social media should include a clear link to the company that enables customers to buy. A simple link to a website is seldom sufficient.

There should be a clear path to purchase for potential leads: contact forms alongside content help to make purchase immediate, as well as a direct link to the ordering page of the company website. ‘Gated’ content such as mailing lists also help to gain commitment, helping to isolate genuine leads for potential sales.

How do you grow your lead conversions? Do you use social media? Please leave your comments below…

How to Craft a Press Release

If you want media coverage, you need to craft a good press release. Mastering the art is an essential part of any marketing strategy. You may want to create buzz about your business, but what information should you include and how long should it be? It needs to catch attention and pique interest. Here are some tips:

1. Stand Out with a Killer Headline

Journalists are swamped with hundreds of emails and pitches each day. They may spend just a few seconds deciding if something looks interesting, so you need to grab their attention with a punchy headline. With only space for a handful of words in the email subject line, it’s crucial to make them count. If the reporter doesn’t understand immediately what your story is about, they’ll move on to the next one.

2. Hook Them with the First Paragraph

You need to get your message across as quickly as possible. Journalists are taught to get as many of the 5 Ws (who, what, where, why and when) into their first paragraph. Your first lines should give a summary of what your news is about – in no more than 25 words.

3. Provide Valuable Information

The following paragraphs should provide supporting information. Write in plain English. Don’t bore the reader with waffle, jargon or technical language and support your announcement with facts and figures. Break the release up with sub headings and bullet points to make the information pop off the page.

4. Include Interesting Quotes

Bring your release to life with quotes. Don’t quote everyone on the plant. Just use one or two key figures to give a picture of the importance of your announcement and only use people who are available if interviews are required.

5. Provide Background Information

Put background information at the end of the release. Describe your company in as plain a language as you can and include a link to your website and/or links to any data sources.

6. Supply Useful Images

Include two or three clear, usable photographs. Avoid sending huge files that will clog up inboxes and don’t refer people to a website where they could spend ages looking for a suitable image.

7. Format

Don’t send the release as an attachment only. Paste your press release in the body of the email as well because a busy journalist may not bother to open an attachment.

8. Length

Condense your information into one page – 300-400 words. Add a link if there are further specific details you want added.

9. Provide Contact Information

Include a phone number (preferably a mobile number), as well an email address of someone in case of queries. And don’t send a release out just before you or the contact person goes on holiday.

10. Before You Click Send

Proofread your release for typos and grammar mistakes. Make sure all the necessary info is included. You’d be surprised how many releases fail to include basic details, such as the time and place of an event.

Do you have any tips to craft a press release? Please leave your comment below…