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 And we’ll have to do it again next year for a newer version of the Passion For Business website (even though we just redesigned it three years ago).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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12 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 two-way conversation between your business and your customer. Make it count.

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, heard or respected.

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 and your business

A well-crafted Welcome email – whether it’s confirming a person’s subscription, offering immediate access to your free content, or a receipt for a purchase – 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 your audience is 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

  1. 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?
  2. Thank them. Acknowledge that you’re grateful they chose your content, or for their purchase.
  3. 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. If they signed up for an event, remind them of the date and time. Help them figure out how to get started quickly.
  4. Let the content match the relationship. If your Welcome email is to a new customer, craft it as a thank-you for their purchase. If your Welcome email is to a new subscriber who is not a customer yet, focus the email on what resources you have for them (especially free resources/content, to help build the relationship).
  5. Assure them that you understand what their challenges and dreams are. They signed up to your list, but they still want to know that you understand their situation and that you can provide solutions. Provide content that outlines some common problems or questions they have, along with tips and techniques to move forward.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Provide them with links to your social media accounts as another way to connect.
  9. Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that pop up all the time which a list of FAQs could answer quickly?
  10. 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 what they think about your product or service. Remember: Even if it’s free, they’re still a customer. They’re consuming your content.
  11. Ask them to take action. To keep email subscribers engaged, ask them to take action: click a link, complete a survey, respond to a question, share a comment, sign up for a video tutorial.
  12. Tell them how to unsubscribe. It’s important that you give clear instructions on how to get off your list. Most automated emails have a link at the bottom to unsubscribe, but assure them in the Welcome email that they can exit anytime they want.

One email… or two?

There’s a lot of information you could include in your Welcome email. But you don’t want to overwhelm your new prospect or customer with too much information in one email. When you’re crafting your Welcome email, take a step back and ask yourself: Am I overloading them?

If yes, consider just putting the welcome, thank-you, and what you can expect topics in the first email, and use a second email for additional information.

Sometimes the shortest, simplest emails get the best response.

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.

If you are finding that people don’t click the confirmation link, the first question to ask is: Are they receiving the email in the first place? Check your bounced email list to make sure they are receiving and opening the confirmation email. If necessary, send a reminder.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you sending out Welcome emails? Do you add anything to them aside from the 10 items listed above? Do you send them automatically or manually? Share your story, comments and questions in the Comments area below. 🙂

21 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

The Problem with Niches

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finding your nicheMy client Mary called me and cried, “I need to find my niche!”

She had been told over and over again that she needed to find a narrow niche for her Life Coaching business so that she could be more noticeable among the pack of Life Coaches who market themselves to business professionals and managers.

But she had also been told that using words like “meaning” and “purpose” to describe what clients were looking for was over-used; all life coaches were using those terms and they had lost their power when it came to writing marketing text.

To find your niche, you need a tailor-made approach.

Here is my reply to Mary in regards to identifying her niche and writing her marketing text towards that niche:

Finding The Right Words

Remember, WITHIN the coaching industry, words like “soul,” “meaning,” and “fulfillment” are used constantly and we’re used to them and don’t think they’re special.

But, OUTSIDE the coaching industry, people are just awakening to these words. They love these words. And people ARE looking for meaning and fulfillment in their lives. (Just because you are used to seeing those words everyday doesn’t automatically make them powerless or boring.)

So you may be tired of hearing catch-words in YOUR industry, but that doesn’t mean that customers aren’t still searching for those very same ideas.

If you want to know if people are interested in these words, go to the Google Keyword Tool  and type them in. You’ll see for yourself how popular they really are.

As a life coach, saying you don’t want to market yourself using the words “fulfillment” and “meaning,” is like saying you’re a dentist, but you don’t want to have the niche of “filling cavities” because every dentist does that.

Sometimes your niche isn’t just what topics you talk about with clients; sometimes your niche is the combination of what topics you talk about AND the people/groups you talk to.

Finding The Right Niche

The whole purpose of choosing a niche is so you can find a central place that potential clients congregate — so that you can get in front of them to introduce your business via your marketing techniques. You can find “professionals” or “mid-level managers” or “upper level executives” in specific industry associations, magazines, websites, newspapers, peer groups, etc.

But say you want your niche to be “Hyper Ambitious Stress Coaching.” There is no industry association for Hyper Ambitious people…how will you locate them?

Do you really want to be known as the “Hyper Ambitious Stress Coach?” (Do people really type in “hyper ambitious stress coach” into Google when they’re looking for help?) It implies that you work with only people who are hyper-ambitious, and only stressed ones at that. There are plenty of “non-hyper-ambitious” professionals who are want to achieve great things and be successful (and are stressed), they just don’t go overboard into “hyper” behaviors that create unbalance.

One caveat: labeling yourself the “Hyper Ambitious Stress Coach” is great for PR. The news media loves a specialist. But clients may not be looking for a Hyper Ambitious Stress Coach; they’re just looking for help with stress, over-scheduling, high demands, etc. So unless you’re going to get all your prospective clients via news media interviews, you might want to re-think that narrow niche.

Choosing a niche is not an exercise in finding a place where you have no competition. It’s okay if you have competition in your niche: it shows there’s a thriving market there.

Differentiation vs. Niche

If you’re simply looking to differentiate yourself from your competition, then that’s not done by choosing a niche market. Differentiation and Niche are two separate marketing steps. You can differentiate (brand) yourself based on:

  • your personality
  • your processes
  • your techniques
  • your classes and products
  • your background
  • your experience
  • your skill set & knowledge
  • your availability
  • your fees
  • your style

Differentiation asks, “Why would they buy from ME versus my competition?”

Niche asks, “Where will I find THEM so I can introduce myself?”

This entry in Wikipedia may help:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niche_market

I’m not saying, “Don’t go in that niche direction.” What I am saying is this: if you define your niche too narrowly, you’ll have a hard time getting in front of them with your marketing techniques. And along the way, you might not be following your own purpose or meeting your goals.

So, how do you define your own niche? I’d love to hear about your target audience and how you help them!

11 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Redesign Your Marketing Model

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If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably already have a marketing model that is working for you. Or, at least it used to work for you

There are seven different areas in your business where rethinking and reinvention are possible: Marketing is a great area for innovation and change!

Have things changed in your business and marketing?

  1. Your audience isn’t reacting to your marketing techniques the way they used to.
  2. You are bored with your marketing techniques, so you’re not doing them as consistently as you once did, and the quality of your marketing is suffering.
  3. You’ve become complacent because business is going great, and stopped paying attention to “big picture” strategic marketing planning.
  4. Your marketing techniques are stale, outdated.
  5. You’re totally freaked out by the amount of work you have to do, so some things just get put on the back burner, like marketing (and remembering to eat).

Time to shake things up!

Last time I counted, there are over 100 offline and online marketing techniques you can use. There’s one for everyone. Why not try a new marketing technique you haven’t tried yet but have always been curious about?

If you’re feeling the innovation itch, why not combine two techniques into something original and noteworthy?

For instance, could you combine a free, funny bumper sticker giveaway with a contest?

What about combining a free webinar with a SEO using a strong article or blog post, to increase sign-ups and boost your mailing list?

Pick a new technique or combine two! Jazz it up!

Here’s the trick.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do 20 new marketing techniques at once. Choose one, learn all about it, try it out, track your results, and master that technique. Then do it again with the next new one.

Having an annual marketing plan will help. You could schedule a new marketing technique each quarter, based on your goals and what you’re promoting that quarter.

Maybe it’s time to delegate?

One big reason why seasoned business owners don’t do the level of marketing that they should do is that they simply run out of time and energy. Just because you’re the business owner doesn’t mean you have to be the head of each department.

I know, I know: you’ve heard that you should delegate a million times. Hey, just do it! (Do I have to pester you?) Consider finding someone who can implement some (or all) of your marketing techniques for you, so you can focus on your core competencies, the unique gifts you bring to the world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Where do you feel you need to shake up your marketing model?

8 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Rethinking Your Business
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Watch Out for Hey-Baby-Wanna-Get-Lucky Marketers

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There are two things I cannot abide: liars and thieves.

This is a story about a liar.

Last night, I got an email from an internet marketing company who knows nothing about marketing and nothing about me. How do I know? I simply read his marketing email to me.

It started like this:

I’ve been following your blog for some time now and I just had an idea that I think you’re going to like.

[Uh oh. Reminds me of guys who would come up to me in a bar in college and say, “Hey, I bet you’d love to dance with me.” I’ve never heard of this guy before and already he has an offer I can’t refuse.]

He continues:

We help companies double their sales using Internet marketing tactics such as Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing and Pay per Click.

[Whoa, Nellie! Isn’t this the same work Aly and I do for our clients? But he said he’d been reading my blog “for some time now,” so why doesn’t he know this about me? After all, there’s a category on my blog called Internet Marketing. ]

I’d love to work with your clients to help them grow their businesses.

[I bet.]

Obviously, you wouldn’t recommend someone you don’t know, so I’d like to analyze your website and Internet marketing strategy, and put together an Online Marketing Plan for you.

Okay, now I’m laughing so hard, I’m sliding off my chair. Had he read my website, he would have known:

  • I teach classes and give speeches on Internet Marketing Strategy and SEO.
  • 90% of my marketing is done via the internet.
  • I have excellent rankings on Google for “small business coaching,” “small business consulting services,” and “mastermind group” — I don’t really need SEO help, thanks very much.

Then I stop laughing. And a weird angry-calm comes over me. This guy is a liar and I hate that. He doesn’t care diddly-squat about me and my business, he just wants someone to help him make sales for his company.

Good Marketing is About Building Relationships First

The first mistake he made was not really getting to know me before he tried to sell me something. One of the internet marketing gurus says it’s akin to meeting someone new and saying, “Wanna get married?” in the first five minutes of conversation.

Rule #1: Create rapport with your customer. Get to know them. Strike up a conversation in their blog comments, in Twitter or Facebook, in online message forums, or via email. Meet them at events. Go out and give speeches or classes, then chat with the participants afterwards. Let them know you exist and you’ve got some great resources to share.

Find Common Ground

Rule #2: See if your prospective customer has a problem you can help solve or a dream you can help fulfill. Don’t assume they have a problem or dream: ask them.

No Speed Dating Allowed

Rule #3: Stop trying to make the sale in the first conversation. Relax and enjoy the unfolding of a new relationship. Don’t look desperate and don’t hurry them along just to get your needs met. Always, always, always look for a win-win.

Did I tell you the story about when I ran into a thief on the Internet?

Oh, so what did I do with the email? I let my assistant handle it. She’s so much more diplomatic than I am!

27 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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Are Email Newsletters Dead?

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There are three email newsletters I read faithfully, every single time they enter my Inbox. I subscribe to over 20 newsletters, but only three are “never miss reading” newsletters.

Would you say email newsletters are dead because I don’t read 17 immediately, or would you say it’s very much alive because of the three I read right away?

There’s been lots of talk among my clients and students these days, speculating on the possible demise of the email newsletter as a powerful internet marketing tool. Funny thing: I remember having this discussion back in 2005 with my internet marketing colleagues, yet email marketing is still alive and well years later.

Sending out weekly or monthly updates to your list of customers, students and mastermind group members has grown in popularity as a marketing tool ever since the Internet began.

But now people are overwhelmed with the amount of email they’re getting, so what are you to do?

There are lots of pros and cons to using email newsletters and email marketing. Let’s look at an overview:

Pros

  1. People can get to know you through your newsletters. Not just what services or products you offer, but how you think and feel about the topics you write on. Email newsletters give you a chance to create a relationship with your audience and establish your thought leadership.
  2. If you’re sending out HTML emails, you control the look and feel of your email newsletter, and can establish a solid brand and image in people’s minds.
  3. You can track to see who opened the email and how many people clicked on the links in the email. Statistics are a crucial measure of the success of email marketing, and lets you know what people are interested in (and what they’re ignoring!)
  4. You can customize your message to segments of your list. For example, if a group of students took an introductory-level class with me, I can offer them the advanced-level class. Or if people have expressed an interest in a specific topic, like running a mastermind group, I can send just those people a new article I’ve written on that topic.
  5. Never overlook the fact that most people are time-constrained and appreciate convenience. With the overwhelming number of places on the internet to search for information, having ONE source they can rely on is a blessing.

Cons

  1. There are many ways to get in front of your target audience with your content and news now: social media sites, your own blog, article banks, YouTube, webinars, etc. Your newsletter is just one of a mix of marketing, education and communication techniques, and it requires more effort now to communicate through all these channels.
  2. Too much email, too much junk. People are inundated and often will ignore things in their Inbox that they can’t take care of right away or that have a lower priority. And don’t forget those nasty filters that whisk away your email before your reader even sees it!
  3. If you don’t write regularly, people are apt to forget about you. Or worse, think you’re inconsistent and therefore unreliable. Ewwww.

Strategy

You need a strategy for your email marketing. (Oh, no, I used the “S” word!)

I still believe your mailing list is the hub of your internet marketing strategy. It’s the only place where people have raised their hands and said, “I want to hear from you.”

  • Putting a subscription box on your blog, where the visitor enters their email address and it gets added to your email list, will allow you to send blog posts to people who don’t visit your blog often.
  • Build your mailing list by making free offers through your website and social media channels.
  • Put your free offer on the back of your business card so that you get subscribers via your live networking events.
  • Create an excellent Welcome Email to make that important first connection.

Even Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner says in this interview that the way to retain people from our blogs is to get them on our email lists. He says email marketing is THE most powerful marketing technique, and I have found this to be absolutely true. He also says that your email list is your most valuable asset besides your content. Strong words from a guy who’s focus is social media marketing.

Here are some tips:

  • Above all else, offer value. When you write an article for your email newsletter (or your blog, or your Facebook posts), make sure you’re giving good, detailed information. (Read your past five newsletters…did you serve your audience well?)
  • Sixty-day rule. Remember that your subscribers are most responsive in the first 60 days of signing up for your list. Stay in contact with those folks more often than your once-a-month newsletter.
  • Loyalty counts. Reward long-time subscribers with special freebies or discounts.
  • One of many tools. Ask yourself, “What are ALL the different ways I can communicate with my audience and share my articles, advice, offers, and news?”
  • One of many lists. Think of your email list as just one list of many lists you curate. Your Facebook friends are a list, your Twitter followers are a list, and your YouTube and blog subscribers are lists. Sometimes the subscribers overlap; often they don’t.
  • Combine with human contact. Don’t just have an email list and think that’s enough for people to get to know you and trust you. Offer free webinars and podcasts. Be available via Facebook or Twitter for ongoing conversations. Give live speeches both locally and nationally. Get out there and be seen – everywhere.

Email newsletters aren’t dead. They are a strategic component of your internet marketing plan. What brings success is having an integrated internet marketing strategy, mixed with some real-life connection to your audience.

Do you use email newsletters and email marketing in your business? I’ve love to hear your thoughts and questions!

22 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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