Archive for the 'Internet & Social Media Marketing' Category

Managing Your Website Redesign Project – 22 Point Checklist

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I know many of you are thinking it’s time to redesign your website, but you don’t know where to start or how to manage the project. Let me share my experience with you in hopes that it will make your website redesign process smooth and efficient.

After 11 months of hard planning and implementation, multiple website graphics and layout choices, and lots of coding (1,200 pages!), we launched the new-and-improved version of the Passion For Business website several years ago.

Then we did it again last year for The Success Alliance website, moving to a simpler, cleaner design that’s mobile-friendly. And we’ll have to do it again next year for a newer version of the Passion For Business website (even though we just redesigned it three years ago). Technology and people’s tastes in websites change, and you have to move with the times or be left behind.

We learned a lot along the way about managing website redesign projects and making sure they matched our business and marketing goals.

Let me share that wisdom with you, in the hopes it will help make your own website redesign project run smoothly.

The checklist below is written for you; you may be delegating pieces of this work to graphic designers, website designers, copywriters, SEO experts, or your administrative assistant. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them during each step in this checklist:

  1. First, know that this is going to be a long process, so find that extra bit of patience. It will pay off big time, trust me. There will be any number of times that you want to cut corners or give up an important feature that’s a pain to implement on your site. Stop. Breathe. Start again.
  2. Make sure you DO need and want to redesign your website. Not sure? Take this self-quiz: Is It Time To Redesign My Site?
  3. Write everything down – don’t trust your memory on something this important. Keep your ideas and your To Do list in a Project Plan file so everything is at your fingertips in one central location. Keep all correspondence with subcontractors who are working on your site.
  4. Start the redesign process by asking the big questions: What are the goals of my business? What role(s) will my website have in reaching those goals? Who will visit my website and what do they need/want to find there? What is my business brand and image? Is it time to give my brand a facelift?
  5. Decide what content you need on the site, then organize that content into logical “buckets” so that it’s easy to design the menu/navigation structure, and easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Make a list of each individual page and file that needs to be on the site. Not sure what’s important to your audience? Look at your Google Analytics and find the popular pages…and put the access to them in an easy-to-find spot on your new site.
  6. Decide which extra features you need on your site: will you have a newsletter sign-up box, a free offer, sidebar advertisements, a blog, video files, audio files, social media, etc.?
  7. Design the graphical page layout to include your logo and business colors, making sure there is enough room on the page for sidebar advertisements, sign-up boxes, etc. This is the time when a good website designer can make this process easy.
  8. Remember, the reputation of your business relies on professionalism and a professional look — this isn’t the time to cut corners with do-it-yourself graphic work, logos, navigation, or website page layout. A good website designer can target your website graphics and layout to your audience, and can make it user-friendly. A poor website design will have people walking away from your site instead of sticking around. Read this blog post on How to Choose a Website Designer if you need more tips. If you can’t find a website designer who is also a graphic artist, figure out a way for these two people to talk together about the design and the project plan.
  9. While your website designer is working on some preliminary designs, it’s time for you to edit and/or write your website text. Take a look at all your existing pages: Does the text talk to the audience and helping them solve a problem or reach a goal? Is your marketing message clear? Has your business focus changed and now your website needs new copy? If you’re not good at copy writing, consider hiring a copywriter to help you with the text updates.
  10. While you’re busy writing, don’t forget SEO work to increase your rankings on search engines. Choose your keywords and make sure those keywords are in your text. Note: there’s more to SEO than putting your keywords in your text, but choosing and adding your keywords is the first step.
  11. Once you choose the website design that works best for your audience, your brand and your business goals, now it’s time to start coding. You have several options when coding your website: your website designer can code it for you, or you can use a platform like WordPress. Even if you use WordPress, there’s still a HUGE amount of coding to do, so if you are not deeply familiar with CSS or PHP, hire someone to do the coding for you. Typically you can find a website designer who does both the graphic design and the coding, or who works as a team with other professionals to get your site done. If you want to do it yourself, consider one of the DIY website creation sites like Wix, Weebly or SquareSpace.
  12. DO NOT code directly to your existing domain, overwriting your existing files. Create a “testing” folder to put new files in. Even whiz-kids can make mistakes, so create a duplicate site for testing before you make your new site live to the public. It lets you build and test new pages as needed and will save you oodles of grief later.
  13. Make sure you code the SEO in the behind-the-scenes coding (tags) to help with your search engine rankings. Choose a website designer who has a lot of experience with SEO so that you can be assured this work is done correctly. Remember, there is more to SEO than the text and code on your website, but you must do these two things correctly FIRST before other SEO work can be done.
  14. Once the site is done with the initial coding, TEST the website in all the standard browsers to make sure it’s compatible: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. Test it in several versions of these browsers as well; not everyone is using the current version of browser software. If you’re not sure which browsers your current website visitors are using, you can find this information in your Google Analytics statistics. (It’s under the Audience/Technology area of Google Analytics.)
  15. Test to see how your site looks on both PCs and Macs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. (This is a good time to get your friends involved so you can see your new site on their browsers and machines.) Test on smart phones, tablets and laptops, including all mobile browsers. Make sure your new site works on ALL hardware platforms and screen sizes.
  16. After you do the testing, you’ll probably find that your site looks great in some browsers/hardware and awful in others. This requires additional coding to test the browser version or screen size/resolution the visitor is using and write code to make the site look the same in all browsers. Now you know why you pay a website designer to do this work! 🙂
  17. Test all links. Okay, now you’ve got your final website design. It looks great in all browsers and hardware, and the text and graphics are extraordinary. Now is the time to test all links (both the links in the menu/navigation and the links in the text). Make sure all links open to the appropriate page, file and/or external websites. Patience, my friend, do this slowly and properly. If you have bad links on your site, you’ll lose visitors and Google doesn’t like a site with a lot of bad links.
  18. Now test all forms. Sign up for your own newsletter, your own free offer, contact form, or any other form you have on your site, and make sure each form does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Sick of testing yet???  🙂
  19. Use 301 Redirects. If you have renamed any of your website pages, add 301 Redirects to your site so that those old links now forward to the new page URL.
  20. Now you’re ready to go live. But wait! I’m only going to say this once (loudly): BACK UP YOUR EXISTING WEBSITE and BLOG. Trust me. If you overwrite files and something blows up, you’ll be happy that you can easily put yourself back to the old site while you fix the problem.
  21. Take a deep breath, and upload your new website design to your hosting.
  22. Once it’s live, test again. All of it. Seriously.

Finally, go ahead and tell your audience your site is live, invite feedback, and tell them if they find a problem with the site to please let you know about it. It’s great to have a lot of people checking out your new site to make sure there are no mistakes.

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Have a huge party to celebrate!  🙂

 

(If I’ve missed any steps, please leave a comment and tell me about YOUR website project experience!)

16 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Website Planning
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Nurturing the Not-Ready Customer Through the Buying Cycle

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We’d all love it if we could close every deal or every sale with a new customer in 30 minutes or less. But that rarely happens. A sales cycle can last up to six months, depending on how much research the potential customer has done before he or she comes to you.

Before customers are ready to sign on the dotted line, they first must go through a well-researched route to purchasing products and services, called the Buying Cycle. You need to nurture these potential clients and help them along this route to ultimately choosing the solution you’re offering them.

Studies show that 79% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy. They’re somewhere else in the buying cycle. They may not even be aware of the scope of their problem, and may simply be in the early stages of researching a possible solution.

But just because they’re not ready to buy doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for you as a business owner. If you continue to educate them and nurture those leads – wherever they are in the buying cycle – you’ll be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to buy.

The Buying Cycle

The typical buying cycle goes from having an awareness that there is a problem to evaluating the possible solutions, choosing one and implementing it. And it ends, hopefully, with a long-term, meaningful relationship with a customer.

A more detailed explanation of the buying cycle:

  1. Acknowledging there’s a problem they need to solve. Something is broken – either a physical product, like their washing machine, or a process in their business – and they need to fix it.
  2. Making a decision to fix this problem. They can’t do it themselves, so they need outside help.
  3. Determining exactly what results they want. What’s their end goal? What outcome or results do they want after purchasing and implementing a solution?
  4. Gathering basic information. They’re searching for companies that can help them, and often doing this research online. Perhaps they’re asking friends or other business owners who’ve had similar problems about their solutions.
  5. Identifying possible solutions or vendors that will give the result or results that they want.
  6. Comparing those solutions or vendors.
  7. Selecting a vendor/product.
  8. Negotiating the deal.
  9. Making a purchase decision. This can mean either signing a contract or making a direct purchase.
  10. Implementing the solution. Your relationship doesn’t end with the purchase. Now you have to help them use your product or service wisely to get full results.
  11. Forging an ongoing relationship. This allows for repeat business from the same customer and ensures ongoing customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals.

Recognizing where your customer is in this buying cycle is key. When a customer first makes contact with you, have a set of questions ready that help determine where he or she is. “Tell me about your situation?” “Have you looked at other solutions?” Their answers to these questions can help determine whether they’re still early in the buying cycle, or if they’re close to making a decision.

Pick Marketing Techniques Based on Buying Cycle

Choose different marketing techniques for each phase of the buying cycle. For instance:

  • A well-designed website can help customers early on in the buying cycle by allowing them to gather information.
  • A free whitepaper outlining possible solutions and comparing them helps mid-way through the buying cycle.
  • An email campaign helps prospective customers through the pre-purchase process, and later forges an ongoing, repeat-buying relationship near the end of the buying cycle.

Having content for each stage tells your customer, “We’re ready when you are.” If they’re early in the buying cycle, back off and let them explore, but be available to answer questions. If they want to discuss possibly buying from you, be available for a phone or in-person meeting, and have marketing material ready to help them make a choice from among your offerings.

By being aware of the different stages in the buying process, and thinking about what questions your customer are asking at each stage of the cycle, you can provide a prospective customer with the appropriate marketing technique at the right time.

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

9 Must-Have Items to Put in Your Welcome Email

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Think of a new customer or a new person to your email list as a guest in your home. How will you make them feel welcomed and appreciated?

Your first email to them, your “Welcome” email, can begin that relationship, and turn a one-way conversation into a conversation that goes both ways between your business and your customer. Make it count.

Over the past several years, people have become accustomed to building personal relationships with a business via email. They reject companies and service providers where they don’t feel they’re being honored.

Send the first email out automatically, within a few minutes after a person subscribes and opts-in to your email list. It can be one email, or a series of emails, triggered by a person joining your list.

What a Welcome Email will do for you

A well-crafted welcome email – whether it’s confirming a person’s subscription or offering immediate access to your content – can build trust and a rapport with your audience. It sets the tone of future communication, starts a conversation, helps reinforce your brand and message and acknowledges how important they are to you.

Consider it your calling card; it’s your one opportunity to knock their socks off with meaningful content that solves their problems or answers their questions. You want them to open future emails from you.

Be warm, professional, helpful – and human.

Some tips on what you should put in your first email

  • Welcome them to your community. Remind them how they got on your list – did they sign up for a free offer, did they make a purchase from your online store, or did they hear you speak or teach somewhere?
  • Thank them. Acknowledge that you’re grateful they chose your content, or for their purchase.
  • Talk to them about what they’ve signed up for. What kind of content can they expect? If they bought something from you, let them know how to access that item or when they can expect to get it.
  • Give them more than they expected. Offer links to important and helpful content on your website, or links to audio files, documents or webinar and video content.
  • Tell them how often they can expect your emails. You should be sending email newsletters at least once a month, but once a week is better. Whatever you choose, be consistent.
  • Provide them with links to your social media accounts as another way to connect.
  • Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that pop up all the time which a list of FAQs could answer quickly?
  • Continue the conversation. If you promised something in return for their signing up, make sure they got it. Follow up with a survey asking them wha they think about your product or service. Remember: Even if it’s free, they’re still a customer. They’re consuming your content.
  • Tell them how to unsubscribe. It’s important that you give clear instructions on how to get off your list.

Doubling down with a double opt-in

Sometimes asking people to confirm their email address – known as a “double opt-in” – will be your first electronic correspondence with a customer. By asking people to double opt-in, you’re ensuring a quality list of real email addresses. The double opt-in is meant to get people to click on a link to confirm their email address. Some people don’t do this right away – or they don’t do this at all – so you might have to send a reminder. You can also check the list of people who signed up but didn’t confirm their subscription to check for obvious misspellings in their email addresses.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you sending out Welcome emails? Do you add anything to them aside from the 9 items listed above? Do you send them automatically or manually? Share your story, comments and questions in the Comments area below. 🙂

19 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Lurker Alert: The Art of Audience, Student and Mastermind Group Engagement

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Who are those people who attend your mastermind group or class but never talk (or who friend you on Facebook or Twitter, but never respond)? And how do you get them talking?

Back in the mid-90s when I first went online via CompuServe (remember those days??), we noticed that for every 1 person who was interacting in the message forum, another 10 were logging on and reading the message threads, but never interacting. Back then, we called them “lurkers” — people who didn’t participate actively in discussions.

Fast forward 20 years, and we find that Lurker Ratio of 10:1 still exists – in online message forums, in my video classes and webinars, in mastermind groups, and any other place where groups of people congregate offline and online.

In some places, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online social media forums, the lurker ratio is closer to 100:1 — for every 1 person who participates, there are 100 people just reading and absorbing the conversation.

There are a number of reasons why people don’t comment on Facebook or blogs: too busy, nothing to add, feeling shy. That’s what the “Like” button is for on Facebook: if you don’t want to leave a comment but you want to still let the folks know that you’re interested, you click the Like button.

Jakob Nielsen calls it Participation Inequality. I see it most often with “virtual” groups of people who meet online or through teleconference or video conference meetings.

But here is what I think is most important:

We ALL have something to add to a conversation — our feelings, our experiences, our knowledge, our questions. What comes from within counts for a lot with me. I love when people leave comments on my blog and when they interact in my classes.

And let’s face it: the whole point of a mastermind group is to brainstorm together, right? Conversation brings value.

In your business, you want to build connections and relationships with your customers, students, group members, and your entire audience. Being aware of the lurker ratio when you’re using social media for marketing — as well as in your classes, groups and online message forums — will help you gauge the quality of your connections and relationships.

For all types of classes and mastermind groups, here are some guidelines:

  1. In live, in-person classes and mastermind groups, the lurker ratio is much better. There’s something about being face-to-face in a sharing environment (especially with a good teacher or mastermind group Facilitator) that brings people out of their shells and encourages them to participate. In my live classes and groups, I’d say that for every 100 people who attend, 30-40 will be lurkers.
  2. The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this phenomenon social loafing.
  3. The longer the event, class or program, the lower the lurker ratio. (Sometimes it takes while to get people warmed up.)
  4. If you want high participation in your classes and mastermind groups, you have to build in interaction into your plan. Don’t wing it: plan it. Design discussion-starter questions that get the group talking within the first five minutes of every meeting.
  5. Pay attention to those who don’t ask questions or make comments. Call on them by name, or say, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t commented yet.”
  6. If your class or mastermind group includes an online message forum, set some rules. For instance, in some of my classes I’ve set this rule: each week all students must post one new message and reply to two messages that someone else has posted.

For social media engagement:

  1. Studies show that you get 65% more engagement if you post before noon, as compared to afternoons and evenings. My experience confirms this with my audience: they’re much more active in the morning on social media.
  2. Don’t just post thoughts, ask questions, too. Instead of simply saying, “Hard work yields results,” consider adding a question to that statement, like, “Do you find this to be true for yourself?” Invite responses and comments.
  3. Comment on other people’s posts. It’s a two-way street. If all you do is post your own articles and thoughts, but never respond to someone else’s blog posts and Facebook posts, why should they communicate with you? It’s all about building relationships.
  4. Engagement isn’t just commenting. Make sure you put links in your blog posts to other blog posts that are related. When someone reads a blog post and clicks on a link, that’s engagement, too.
  5. Respond back. When someone responds to your blog post or social media post, respond back and acknowledge it. They need to know you heard them.
  6. Let them see you. Too many small business owners hide behind their content. They post links to articles on Facebook and Twitter, but they never share any of their own story. I don’t mean those “I used to live in a box but now I live in a mansion” stories…I mean everyday stories about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re reading or watching, and even what you’re eating. Give them a window into your personal life. Yes, you can keep most of your personal life as private as you like — telling them you made Chickpea Burgers for lunch isn’t an invasion of privacy, it just plain fun! 🙂

If your lurker ratio is still 100:1, take heart — it still means that for every one person who responds to your post, 100 are reading what you write!

These are just a few of the tips to get people to join the discussion. I’m sure you have your favorite ways of getting your audience involved, yes? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!

P.S. If you’re a lurker, I’d love to hear from you. C’mon, fess up. Just one comment and you’ll be an official EX-lurker!  🙂

 

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

Is the Problem Traffic or Copywriting?

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I recently worked with a client who has a beautiful website. The graphics, layout and branding are perfect. So why wasn’t she getting more sales?

The first thing we needed to do was some detective work.

Why? Because we don’t know if her problem is that she’s not getting enough traffic to her website or if the problem is that the visitors aren’t converting because of poor copywriting, website design, etc.

Here’s How to be a Website Marketing Detective

First, you must have access to your website statistics. I always recommend that you have Google Analytics installed on your website. The statistics that come with your standard website hosting package are probably not strong enough to help you do the detective work.

Second, you have to know how to find, read and interpret those statistics.

This is just about the time that most people’s eyes glaze over, so let me short-cut the process for you and make it simple.

How Many Visitors Are You Getting Per Month?

In Google Analytics, look at the menu on the left side of the page. Find the section called “Audience” and open the menu, and then click on “Overview.”

How many visitors are you getting to your website? Is there an upward trend?

What I have discovered is that the concrete, exact numbers don’t matter as much as the direction they’re going.

Look at your visitor numbers over the course of several months. If the number of visitors is trending upwards, then you’re doing a good job with driving traffic to your site.

Also note that in some months, the visitor count may be down. Sometimes it’s because you’re not doing your marketing properly or consistently that month, and sometimes it’s because it’s a month when your audience traditionally is away from their computers or distracted with other things, like summertime months and big holidays months. So don’t make assumptions about your visitor traffic; get to know your audience and know when they’re most likely to be paying attention to your website and when they’re likely way on vacation or holidays.

Recent studies show that 79% of visitors who come to your website are not ready to buy. If you’re not getting enough traffic to your website, you won’t have enough people interested in buying from you.

Which Pages Are the Most Popular?

Now it’s time to figure out if your visitors are looking at the website pages you want them to look at.

Go back to the left-hand menu in Google Analytics and find the section called “Behavior.” Within that section, there is an area called “Site Content” which gives you information about how visitors are using your website. Go to the “All Pages” sub-area under “Site Content.”

Which pages are viewed most often? You can find this on the chart on the right-side of your screen once you select “All Pages.” (See example chart below.)

The two key statistics to review are:

How many Unique Page Views does each page get? You will see two numbers: Page Views and Unique Page Views. Why are there two numbers? Because Google Analytics counts every time the page if viewed, even if one visitor views the page two or three times. So in the example chart, you can see the What Is  a Mastermind Group page got viewed 9,015 times, but only 8,034 unique views. This means (roughly) that 981 people viewed the page twice. Unique Views gives you a more realistic guide to how many unique visitors viewed the page and is a more reliable number to watch.

How long are they staying on the page? In the same example, the average visitor viewed the What Is a Mastermind Group page for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Why do we care? Because if it takes a visitor 3 minutes to read a page, and the average visitor is only on that page for 1 minute, it means they’re not reading your text! Here’s how you can tell how long it should take someone to read your page: Set a stop watch and read the page out loud to yourself, slowly. Because you’re used to seeing this text, you’re likely to skip over words and sentences. By reading it out loud, you are forcing your brain to re-see all the text.

What Results Are You Getting?

So now you know how many visitors are coming to your website, and which pages they’re viewing once they get there. Now look at your actual results.

  • How many sales are you making?
  • How many prospects are calling you to ask about your services?
  • Are they buying your products, classes and groups directly from your website?

Conversion Ratios

Let me give you a concrete example. In my client’s case, she got 113 people to visit her services page in the past month. She got three phone calls after people visited her website. Her conversion rate is 2.6% (3 divided by 113). Average website conversation rates are around 1%, so that means that her website copy is converting prospective clients into paying clients.

Because of this data we can conclude:

Her problem isn’t that she needs to re-write her website copy or design. Her problem is that she needs to drive more traffic to her website.

Conclusions for You

How can you know if you have a problem with driving traffic to your website, or if your problem is that your copywriting needs work? Do the math above.

  • If your conversion rate is less than 1%, then you need help with your copywriting or website design.
  • If people don’t stay on your pages long enough to read them, you need help with your copywriting or website design.
  • If the number of visitors you’re getting to your website is low, or if the trend is not on the rise, you need help with driving traffic to your website.

Note that if you’re driving traffic to your website through email marketing or social media marketing, and your audience is a devoted following, you conversation rates should be much higher than 1%.

Now that you know how to read these basic statistics on Google Analytics, you can take control of your marketing and make changes for the better!

Was This Helpful?

I know that statistics can be daunting. If this was helpful to you and you’d like me to show you more (simple) ways to get important data from Google Analytics and interpret it for your small business, please let me know in the comments section below. I love statistics because they let me play marketing detective and figure out what’s true in my business — and that’s how my business remains successful! I’m happy to write more blog posts like this if you want this type of information. 🙂

19 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
Tags: , , ,

Booting Spammers Out of Your Mailing List

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I’ve noticed a trend lately: a lot of sign-ups to my mailing list from the same IP address. So I did a little research and lo-and-behold, it’s a “zombie” computer automatically signing up for ezines in order to steal the return address when you send the “thanks for signing up” autoresponder. (Those little stinkers!)

So, what do you do?

  • First, check to see if your ezine software captures the IP (internet protocol) address of people when they sign up.
  • Next, check for repeat IP addresses. I notice that these sign-ups are often in the “waiting for optin” list under, because they have no intention of opting-in.
  • Sometimes, however, there is an army of poorly paid people somewhere in the world who click on the opt-in links in emails for these spammers, so check your newly added email addresses on your list. It’s easy to find them: look for email addresses that don’t match the name they signed up under. For instance, the name is “Mary Jones” but the email address says georgesmith@xxxxxx.com. The email addresses are almost always from live.com, gmail.com, or yahoo.com because these are free email services. Yahoo seems to be the frontrunner in bad/zombie email addresses.
  • When you find a suspicious email address, copy it into Google to see if sites like www.cleantalk.org have blacklisted that email address.
  • Finally, I go back to my mailing system, and look for the place where I can block specific IP addresses or specific email addresses.

Voila! Now that zombie can’t sign up for my mailing list anymore!

It takes a little due diligence to keep your list clean, but it’s well worth it. And if your mailing list system won’t let you ban IP addresses, consider switching to a new one.

5 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing
Tags: , ,

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