Colorful post-it notes with planning keywords.

Has it been a while since you’ve updated your website? Are you’re thinking about freshening up your web design and maybe switching to WordPress because you’ve heard it’s much easier to make changes to your site?

Chances are, your site might be due for a fresh look and feel, but it might not be the best investment. Instead, you might need a fresh approach to your digital marketing.

Ask yourself these nine questions:

  1. Do 90-95 % of your website visitors leave your website without engaging? If a high percentage of your site visitors don’t call, email or fill out a form, you’ll need a strategy to deal with generating conversions. It may be due to the design, but more often it’s as simple as being more bold about what you’re asking site visitors to do.
  2. Do you use Groupon? If you’re like most small local businesses, you don’t have a discount offer on your own site. Many companies sign up for Groupon, but don’t put the exact same offer on their own website. By simply placing the exact same offer on your website, you’ll net twice as much money!
  3. Do you have YouTube videos on your website? Granted, creating a great video isn’t easy, but did you know that people are 10x more likely to watch a video than read content? Every small business should include videos in their digital marketing, whether that’s on YouTube or embedded videos on their website.
  4. Does your website use an “auto-responder”? An auto-responder is an extra email the site visitor receives after they fill out your contact form. This is your chance to thank the visitor and present your brand as personal, proactive and customer-centered.
  5. Is your website integrated into you sales process? Marketing automation software helps local small businesses streamline the sales process. And if your company has an active sales force, the first step is to assign a salesperson to contact the individual directly. It can be as simple as adding a phone number field to your form so that your salesperson can call first, instead of relying on email as the first touchpoint.
  6. Does your website nurture and track leads? One example is to have a popup window ask site visitors if they have questions or would like to receive more information. You can have it trigger a window after a set time period – say 30 seconds or as their mouse starts to move away from your website.
  7. Is it clear what your site is all about? In other words, if you were to remove your company logo and pictures, would it be easy to understand what you do – and, more importantly, what sets you apart? Most local small business websites can’t be distinguished from their competition and don’t clearly present just exactly what makes unique. Writing clearly and powerfully is actually more important than a new website design – it’s what elevates you above your competition.
  8. How active are you on social media? And do you intentionally drive traffic back to your website? You have to be careful how you spend time on social media to make sure that it’s actually not robbing your website of the traffic it deserves. Google My Business, Bing Places, Facebook, etc. are a great way to attract attention and drive folks back to your website to strengthen your position in local searches.
  9. Is your business a ‘giver’? In other words, do you give away tips and advice for free? The way to sell has changed. Instead of talking about value and benefits, it’s important to position your local small businesses as an expert authority. It’s only after you’ve built trust that people will be interested in what you have to offer.

Next Steps

Take what you’ve learned from these nine questions and spend a some time brainstorming with your salesperson, employees and anyone else who has a say in your success. Come up with a digital marketing strategy and weigh it against the benefits of a website makeover. Chances are, you’ll see much more growth from digital marketing activities than from a new website design.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and managing your website. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Woman holding up hand showing 5 fingers with blog post title

Local SEO isn’t particularly hard – especially if you know a few easy DIY hacks.

If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and tackle these five local SEO hacks, you’ll go a long way towards helping your company move up in the search results.

Warning: do not attempt these hacks unless you’re willing to steal your competitors’ lunch money! 🙂

Before you proceed, you need to make sure you have a solid foundation:

  • you have a Google My Business Listing
  • you have Google Analytics setup

Top 5 Hacks to Optimize Google Visibility

The secret to great local search presence is to rank on both Google My Business (GMB) listings and in Google’s organic search results. If follow these tips religiously, you’re greatly increase your Google visibility – with the goal being in the top three of the Google Business listings.

Whenever you add content or link to your website, your Google My Business listing – Facebook and other social media – you need to think about how you can maximize the SEO value of what you’re doing.

  1. Promptly reply to all reviews and remember to use keywords people use to find your products and services. And don’t always use the same keywords. Use variations to make your responses sound natural – you don’t want to sound like a SEO-bot.
  2. Add a new GMB post every week, if not more frequently. Focus on great pictures and keywords that are relevant to your business.
    PRO TIP: Use upload real “day-in-the-life” photos using your cell phone – Google automatically notes your location by “geotagging” your photos, which reinforces your local presence.
  3. Include all categories relevant to your business in your GMB listing. Don’t be shy, load it up with great keywords that people might use when searching your business.
  4. Put some energy into the GMB services section. Break down services into individual sub-services to pack more keywords into your listing.
  5. Update the Title, Description and Keyword tags on your website. If your site doesn’t have an easy way to adjust these features, feel free to give us a call – we’re happy to help! (402-937-9872).

Bonus Round

Once you have these five hacks under your belt, there’s one more bonus hack to help your site climb to the top: start a blog and post once a week. The trick is to actually use keywords and your city/town name in many of your blog titles. And if you live in a larger city and have several locations, mix things up. For instance, if you’re a physical therapist in San Diego, you might have titles like: “Back Pain La Jolla” and “Knee Rehab Oceanside”.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and managing your website, local directory listings and social media. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

purple and yellow cubes with web design lincoln nebraska text

If you Google “Web Design Lincoln Nebraska” you’re likely to see a ton of choices. But are you really any closer to finding a web designer or digital agency? You have dozens of agencies to choose from, but what are you looking for, really?

If you’re like most businesses or organizations looking for web design help, you may not have considered, especially if you’re looking at a website makeover. Unless you’re a startup or pivoting in a major way, it’s not a good idea to “nuke” your old site, no matter how outdated it is.

Maintain a Site Index

Let me ask you a question: if you upgrade your cell phone, do you change your phone number?

Nope.

The same thing goes for your website. Google and Bing need a record of all your pages (a.k.a. a site index) in order to maintain your current ranking. If you don’t, they’ll have to start all over again and you don’t want that! Even the worst site in the world will have some SEO value.

So, before you even think of redoing your site, go to Google and search

site:yourdomain.com

For Rushminute, a web design company in Lincoln, Nebraska, the results look like this:

screenshot of a Google site index search for Rushminute.

Now, it’s always a good idea when you’re redoing your site, to do a content audit. It’s a chance for you to comb through all the pages on your site and update the content or, in some cases, delete ones that aren’t performing. Your new web design doesn’t have to have the exact same site index as the old site but you will need a record of all your current pages. That way, you will be able to redirect the deleted pages to new ones.

To use the cell phone analogy again, your site index is sort of like call forwarding. A site index allows you to make sure you don’t lose any important connections – in this case, your connections to Google and Bing.

Brand New Branding

A new website is exciting. It’s a chance for you to upgrade the look and feel of your brand.

And as fun as it might be to embrace a totally different design, it’s a good idea to blend a bit of familiarity into your the fresh, new website. That way, when your existing clients revisit your newly launched site, they’ll say “Wow! This is AWESOME!” instead of “Oh, dear God! What were they THINKING!?!?”

Your customers need to still “you’re still you.” They want to be assured you’ll still be providing excellent services or products and not that you’ve lost your mind.

Practically speaking, it’s best to never to change up your brand colors and logo and redo your website. If you have a good looking logo, that’s great. It can serve as the “design foundation” for your new site.

Zig When The Whole World Zags

A funny thing about web design is that websites often look a lot the same. That’s because of web conventions – meaning site visitors generally expect websites to all perform in the same way. This is especially true of business websites in the same niche.

The trick is to use subtle messaging, image or color difference to give your site visitors that “Wow! I gotta get this!” moment. That’s where the expertise of an experienced web designer can help explain how to stand out without being too confusing to your site visitors.

And you especially don’t want your visitors to have difficulty finding the information they’re looking for. Leave the edgy design work to the hipsters. Keeps things simple and easy for your visitors to do business with you.

Low Cost Websites

The #1 way to reduce the cost of a new website to not start from scratch. Using WordPress and a very popular theme like Enfold gives your site the speed and efficiency of a $30K custom developed site for a mere $60.

In addition, WordPress sites are so easy to get the hang of, that just about anyone can create new pages and make edits. After your beautiful, new site is created and launched, you can easily make all the edits you want – without any added expense.

Now that’s about as low-cost as you can go!

Website Optimization

You may be asking yourself, “Hey, if I can buy a template for $60, what do I need Rushminute?”

Good question.

We optimize your new site as we build it. We rewrite your content so that it gets you more organic SEO traffic – which is commonly an afterthought at best for most web design agencies. And that a huge mistake. That’s because Google reads your new web pages and if it’s not optimized, you’ll be stumbling out of the gate instead of hitting the ground running.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and managing your website, local directory listings and social media. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

 

Graphic with icons for organic traffic.

Organic traffic means visitors are able to find your website that don’t require you to pay for it.

There are a few ways to get new site visitors through organic means. But before you start with any of the strategies, it’s important to first define:

  • who your target market is
  • what your brand positioning should be
  • what your competitive advantage is

This initial planning lays a solid foundation for you to drive qualified traffic to your website.

Here are three online tactics:

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is a term coined by web agencies to overcome the stigma a lot of business owners have with the term “blog”. The idea is for your blog to generate new content on a regular basis so that Google and Bing will start to recognize your website as an authority in your industry. The thinking is, if your content (blog posts, infographics or videos) appeals to your ideal target market, they will then get to know, like and trust you more – and ultimately convert into a paying customer. Basically, over time, your blog posts establish you or the team at your company as specialists.

To put it simply, the more people click on your site, the more the pages on your website, the higher you’ll rank in Google and Bing search result pages.

And, as your expertise grows, it’s very likely your content will be linked to by different sites (a.k.a. backlinks). These backlinks are a how Google determines if your site should rank for another on a similar topic. High quality content not only garners backlinks and traffic to your site, but it sends a positive message to Google that your site merits a higher position.

2. Local Business Listings

Local business listings like Google My Business, Bing Places and Yelp are an easy way to improve your organic search rankings. Rushminute has compiled this list of free directories.

Paid services like Yext will list your website in dozens of directories, but Rushminute does not recommend using a paid service.

Of the three DIY methods for improving your organic SEO, this is by far the most important one since it’s an easy process, saves you monthly fees and greatly improves your local search ranking.

And be sure that for each of your directory listings that your name, address and phone number (NAP) is identical. Google and Bing get very easily confused if your NAP isn’t identical. 😉

3. Social Media Marketing

The truth is, Social Media is the simplest method of driving traffic to your website. And, sadly, the one most done wrong.

Many business owners don’t realize the purpose of using social media for business marketing is to drive traffic back to their website.

Social media management without SEO strategy is simply a PR campaign. In other words, all social media posts have what are know as ‘nofollow’ links. No matter how often you post of Facebook or Twitter, they never factor into your SEO rank.

Social media with SEO in mind is when you to connect to your social audiences and Google. When you post on social media with a link back to your site and someone clicks on it, Google takes notice.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and managing your website, local directory listings and social media. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

woman plugging her nose

Before I get into today’s topic. I need to get something off my chest.

Writing interesting blog posts is hard.

At least I think it is.

That’s mainly because an effective blog post must be something people actually want to read.

It’s way more than just a catchy title and an arresting image. It’s 1,500 words on a topic that’s helpful, easy-to-understand and unique.

But the bigger problem is everything’s already been said. Google a question about web design or SEO or social media and you’re gonna find hundreds of articles.

And that’s a very, very good thing.

Unless you’re trying to build authority as a web designer.

In that case, it really feels like a massive waste of time.

That is unless you simply chuck all the conventional wisdom out the window and just write about what you know in your own voice and don’t give a hoot about Google or Bing search results.

That makes the whole idea of a business blog so much simpler.

And that’s what I’ve decided to do. 🙂

The Personal Business Blog

So what’s my point, dear reader?

My point is your business blog can be personal. Or at least feel more human. Obviously, the posts on your business blog will be on topics related to your industry, but instead of feeling forced to focus on what Google and Bing think about your content, you’re now free to write like you talk – as if you’re having a chat with a real, live customer or future client.

And that’s the idea behind this post: to make my Rushminute blog posts “read” more like a personal journal entry. Instead of being constrained by a formal process of topic research, keyword analysis and persona buyer journal hot buttons, this will just be me blabbing about web design topics in a way that – hopefully – the average person would want to spend a few minutes on.

So, yeah, there may be more “I” sentences than your average business blog post. If you’re not bothered by that, I thank you in advance for spending a little time with me today.

And with all that personal stuff off my chest, I’m ready to dive into today’s topic. 🙂

Does Your Site Repel Visitors?

When I was noodling on the idea of a website being “visitor repellant”, I realized I first had to ask myself:

Is my site a visitor repellant?

The scary thing is I answered, “yes.”

That’s because almost every site I’ve ever made – including this one – has some level of visitor repellency.

Why?

Because every site I’ve ever created has never, ever taken into account an actual site visitor. Not even one.

And I’m positive I’m not alone.

I’ve done web makeovers for massive global corporations with multi-billion dollar market caps. Surely those people could afford and be interested in what their user’s thought of their site. Right?

Alas, no client of mine has ever “green-lighted” what’s known as user testing.

And I had to admit, even with my own website, I was guilty of the same short-sightedness.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think my sites suck! They’re awesome.

I’m just saying if none of us are listening to our customers or prospective clients, something’s wrong.

And mightn’t it be an overlooked opportunity?

Help! I’m a Small Business Owner!

I can imagine many of you thinking, “Yeah, but what about me? I’m just a small business owner. I don’t have unlimited funds. I can’t ask clients or prospective customers what they think about every page I make on my site. That’s ridiculous!”

Ahhh, but hold on a sec – I have a solution.

And it’s not some horribly drastic burden. It’s actually very easy to do. So easy, in fact, that I’m going to do it for Rushminute’s website and show you how to do it.

But before I reveal the solution, I’m curious:

Why is there so much resistance to listening to what real people think about our websites?

The answer is we’re afraid.

Afraid of criticism.

And afraid of being wrong.

Instead of listening to honest feedback, many of us hide behind Google Analytics, heat maps and tons of quantitative data. We seem to be paralyzed at even the thought of listening to what an actual human being has to say about our site.

One Hour a Month Test

So how do we start listening to our site visitors?

We start by staring down our fears and admitting it’s better to be wrong and fix it than to be afraid of even knowing if we’re wrong.

So, now, if there are any folks with nerves of steel who’re still reading, here’s the solution: it’s a fantastic book on DIY user testing titled “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” by Steve Krug.

Steve explains how, in just one hour a month, anyone can conduct a user test. Then, over lunch, he describes how to debrief w/a couple of co-workers and come up with a to do list of “fixes” for your website.

Give yourself a month to knock the items off your todo list, then rinse and repeat. It’s so easy and simple, everyone should be doing it.

Being Wrong is Right

Sadly, I’m doing user testing for Rushminute. 🙁 And I’m a freakin’ web designer who knows better!

So what’s my excuse?

No excuse: I’m gonna start.

In the coming months, I’ll show small business owners – even those with the smallest of small businesses – how easy it is to start user testing and implement fixes to prove they don’t have a visitor repellant site.

The only way to guarantee your site isn’t visitor repellant is if you actually listen to real users. Sure, numbers are helpful, but they’re not the truth. The “truth” is somewhere between the numbers and the qualitative data.

And if you need to see someone else stumble and get back up again before you try user testing on your own, swing back around in a month or so for my next installment of DIY user testing. 🙂

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

10 Mistakes to Make When Designing Your Small Business Website and How to Avoid Them

Need to upgrade your website? If you’re a small business owner, a website makeover is essential to help you stay ahead of your competition. A healthy, attractive website helps your business:

  • generate leads
  • drive conversions
  • build brand loyalty

But for lots of small business folks, the whole makeover process can be overwhelming.

Don’t worry, this guide to the seven most common website makeover mistakes – and how to avoid them – will help you turn website visitors into loyal customers.

#1. Clinging Onto a Non-Responsive Website

One of the biggest problems I see is small business websites that are non-responsive – meaning the site doesn’t adapt to mobile devices. This forces your site visitors who use a cell phone to pinch and zoom to view each page. And while that’s annoying, the bigger issue is it gives them a sense you’re behind the times.

Ignoring the problem’s not going to make it disappear. According to Statista, in Q1 of 2019, 48.71 percent of site visitors used mobile phones. And Google notes 61% of users who have trouble accessing a website on a mobile phone won’t return. Instead, 40% will go directly to your competitor’s website!

So if you have a non-responsive website and you think you’re avoiding pain by not doing a makeover, think again. And if money’s an issue, check out my blog post on how you can convert your old website to WordPress for free.

#2. Outdated Information and/or Design

A website is a living document. But if you haven’t updated your website in years, it’s dead.

Small business owners need to update and maintain their websites on a regular basis for a number of reasons.

  • Accuracy Matters — If your website contains outdated information, potential customers won’t be able to find you and current customers are likely to be wooed away by your competitors.
  • Google Likes New Content — One of the ways Google ranks websites is based on how much new and fresh content you’re creating. If you frequently add new blog posts or pages, Google will notice and send relevant traffic your way.
  • Current = Relevant — Websites are continuously evolving. To stay in the game you need to incorporate new design trends and best practices.

#3. Buying the Wrong Theme

WordPress is an awesome platform. It powers over 20 million websites.

That’s right – 20 million!

We at Rushminute are strong believers in WordPress, but WordPress alone is a bit dull.

And that’s where themes come in. A theme gives your website it’s unique “look and feel”. Our favorite WordPress theme is Enfold (you can read more about WordPress and Enfold in my blog post).

Enfold can be endlessly styled to reflect the unique style of any business – from bakery to lawn care to tech startup.

Best of all, it’s easy for a small businessperson to update and manage on their own.

The catch is, if you decide to use an uncommon or custom designed theme, you’re virtually guaranteed to get more than your fair share of updating and support headaches. Sure, some themes may look snazzy, if they don’t a simple way to create new pages and solid support, you’ll likely have to either figure out how to solve problems by yourself or hire an expert.

Our advice: spare yourself the headaches and use WordPress and Enfold – they give you the best bang for your buck.

#4. Pokey Page Speed

In order to keep customers engaged, you need to make sure your site loads fast.

Google recommends your web pages load in under three seconds. If it takes longer than that, you’re pretty much assured you’re going to lose visitors.

The two main ways to ensure your site is snappy is to:

  • use a fast web host (if you’re looking for the best, you can read my review of SiteGround web hosting)
  • keep the design simple and efficient
  • make sure the file size of your pictures isn’t too large

You can check your website page load speed with a free tool from GTMetrix. Their thorough report breaks down specific actions you can take to improve your page load times.

GTMetrix Speed Test

#5. Using Big Words

Another common problem is that many small business websites are too technical. Write simply. You’re not writing to impress peers, you’re website is talking to the average Joe or Jane and they’re just not as knowledgeable about the technical terms you use in your industry.

For instance, a person with back pain will type “back pain relief” into Google. If you have a web page that uses words like “alleviate lumbar inflammation”, you’re missing the mark for two reasons:

  1. the average consumer uses simple words
  2. readers won’t understand what you’re talking about and they’ll go to a page that’s easier to understand

For small business websites, use words that people will type into Google. Especially if you’re a B2C company. Otherwise Google will see the short visits to your site as a sign you’re not meeting your visitors’ needs.

#6. Your Text is Too Hard to Read

Writing good copy is hard. Make sure your design doesn’t make it impossible to read.

We all know a site with lots of white space is easy on the eyes. But beyond generous white space, don’t turn off your readers with design no-nos. Follow these rules:

  • Limit the Line Length  The ideal width of a column of text is roughly 1.5x the lower case alphabet. Longer than that and it’s hard for the reader to find the start the next line.
  • Pick a Readable Font — This is particularly important for the paragraph text. If the font you choose is too fancy or stylized, readers will have trouble reading it. I use a sans-serif font — the fonts without the extra little flourishes — for web design 90% of the time because they are easier to read on screens.
  • Be Consistent — Readers like consistency, so make sure to use the same font treatments – font family, color, sizes – from page to page.

Covectra is an example of easy-to-read web design.

StellaGuard Example of Good Design

Though StellaGuard is a highly technical product, the text is simple and straightforward.

  • The text is easy for an average person to understand.
  • The font size and weight variations break up the text so that it’s easily scannable.
  • The icons visually reinforce each of the four benefits.

#7. Unrealistic SEO Expectations

Every small business owner wants their website to work hard for them.

That typically means they all want their new website to show up at the top of Google’s search result pages.

The truth is, a great website design makeover doesn’t really have all that much to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In order for your nifty new website to rank high on Google and Bing, you need to invest in a solid SEO strategy.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when upgrading the SEO for your new site:

  • Write Long Blog Posts — Both Google and your site visitors will reward you if your content is very thorough and addresses a common customer “pain point”. Shoot for 1,500 word blog posts at a minimum.
  • Be Semantically Precise — Use heading tags – <h1> to <h6> – to break up the content on your page. Headings make your pages easier for both readers and Google bots to understand.
  • Use Yoast — If you have a WordPress site, use the free Yoast plugin to make sure your content is optimized for commonly used “keywords”. That way your web pages will have a better chance of ranking for commonly used search terms.

Check out how Rushminute uses Yoast to optimize page content for SEO:

Yoast SEO Plugin

  • Good use of a clear focus keyphrase: Custom Website.
  • The snippet preview shows how the page will show up in Google search results.
  • The green icons confirm the page has been optimized for Google and Bing.

Go Get ‘Em!

So there you have it. Seven website makeover mistakes you now know how to avoid. Now go out there and turn your website visitors into loyal customers!

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Content Marketing Secret Weapon

Remember how in cheesy old sci fi movies, the hero would pull out his secret weapon and save the day? Well you can be the superhero for your small business if you know about the newest secret weapon for online marketing:  content.

Content? Huh?

What I mean by “content” is blog posts your write to help your customers with a specific “pain point”. You then share your articles through your social media channels with links back to your website. This is called content marketing and it’s extremely helpful for small businesses, especially those competing with larger, more well-established brands.

Content marketing helps your small business build trust with your customers and demonstrate expertise in your industry.

Here are the top three reasons why your small business should invest in a content marketing strategy.

1. Content Marketing is Cheap

Every business is on a budget, but for small business marketers, there’s no way you’ll outspend the big dogs in your industry. (But hat doesn’t mean you can’t steal their lunch money!) A well executed content marketing strategy will pull traffic away from your competitors and to your website.

A recent study showed that content marketing generates 3x as many leads and saves you over 60% when compared to other outbound tactics. And as long as your not in a highly competitive industry like real estate or insurance, it’s even better than spending money on Google or Bing Ads. Writing blog posts and promoting them on social media is the least expensive way to help your SMB appear in organic search results. (Btw, if you have a a local “brick and mortar” small business and you’re looking to stretch your marketing dollars, check out these 5 ways to improve your local SEO.)

2. Tell Your Brand Story

Global enterprises hire huge public relation agencies to help them get media exposure.

But, hold on! There’s no need for small business owners to worry: the web has transformed the way we share information. Nowadays small companies and solopreneurs can toot their own horn and present themselves as thought leaders via their blog, social media or niche publications.

Content marketing is the newest secret weapon that allows you to control how your brand is perceived – just like the big global behemoths. As your content marketing skills grow, you’ll develop your own distribution channel that will tell your brand story directly to your target audience.

3. Build Relationships

Have you ever thought about why someone chooses you over one of your competitors? Is it because you’re more affordable? Better service? Are you closer? Or maybe it’s that your clients simply prefer your brand vs. the big guys.

The main reason people prefer small businesses is because they feel understood and valued. Content marketing through storytelling is the way to build and reinforce customer relationships through blog posts, videos, email newsletters and social media.

Storytelling is how small businesses can distinguish themselves from their competition. And content marketing is how to weave your brand’s story.

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

custom website

I’m a designer with 30+ years experience and I don’t think your small business needs a custom website.

For 15 years, I’ve designed and coded dozens of custom websites for small- and medium-sized companies all the way up to gigantic Fortune 500 enterprises, so why on earth would I say that?

One simple reason: custom websites are a ripoff for small businesses

Custom websites:

  1. take 3+ months to build
  2. need support specialists on retainer
  3. cost way more than they’re worth

That’s why, after years of learning and working with small businesses, I have one single solution I recommend: WordPress with the Enfold theme. You can get started for $60 and in a matter of hours, you can have a new, fully responsive website up and running and you don’t have to rely on an IT specialist to keep your small business site up and running.

Generic Websites? Really?

Now hold on a sec. I’m not saying everyone should have the same, plain vanilla looking website.

I’m all for customizing the look and feel of a website to match a small business’s brand. Rushminute actually customizes the look and feel of each and every website we design because no two clients are alike.

But designing a custom website isn’t the same developing a custom website.

And I betcha didn’t know there was a difference. ;P

I’m here to tell you the biggest ripoff I see is web agencies roping small businesses into coughing up $20+K for totally unnecessary custom developed websites. Most small businesses just need a simple, straightforward brand storytelling platform.

That’s why I recommend spending $3K-$5K for a website makeover and folding the rest of your money into online marketing to will help grow your business.

If it Ain’t Easy, Buh-Bye!

Small business owners don’t need a complex, hard-to-update website.

The problem with custom developed websites is they approach site maintenance from a coder’s perspective: build it so it’s future-proof.

The problem is, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to manage, especially if you ever want to change webmasters.

With WordPress and Enfold, the average DIY small business owner can keep their website up-to-date.

That said, it’s always a good idea to keep a webmaster in your back pocket – for those times when you accidentally venture into deep water. But there’s really no need to be obligated to exorbitant maintenance fees – provided your on a great hosting platform like SiteGround (see my article on SiteGround) – because the most you’ll have to do is update plugins a few times a month.

You Need Versatility

The combination of WordPress and Enfold offers 95% of the coding and development any small business website needs, plus infinite flexibility when it comes to design.

It includes baked-in elements like a slider, social share buttons, tabs, testimonials and more.

Enfold Elements

In addition, it has a very simple to use page builder that allows you to customize the look-and-feel of any page on your website –simply by dragging and dropping.

Enfold Drag and Drop

It’s simple and intuitive to use, especially if you’ve ever used a page layout program like Adobe InDesign. And if you have zero experience in page layout, there are lots of free video tutorials on YouTube to help you out.

Plus, it’s Fast!

As a matter of fact, with Enfold and WordPress, I can redesign a typical small business website in a week and have it up and running and fully tested, too!

So why doesn’t everyone use WordPress and Enfold?

Good question.

I think there are a couple of answers.

First, the average small business owner just isn’t aware that WordPress and Enfold are game changers. I wouldn’t expect them to know it. They don’t live and breathe websites.

Second, I think many web designers aren’t aware of the power of Enfold. They’re used to making custom web site with the same old process. Like the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Conclusion

Take it from me, if you’re a small business looking to redo your website, please use WordPress and Enfold. Together they allow you to build a site in weeks instead of months, can be maintained with a few clicks a month and offer a massive savings over a custom-developed website.

And with all the money you save, you can invest in driving traffic to your new website with blogs, social media and email marketing.

Cheers! 🙂

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Spark Action by Answering Questions

When it comes to online marketing, lots of small businesses (SMBs) are in the same boat: they’re all tied up in knots.

The common misconception is that in order to do effective online marketing, you need some big, formal marketing plan that’s 20+ pages long and sucks up a ton of time and expertise.

Now formal marketing plans are a good thing, and if you have one, great!

But to a lot of SMBs, they’re overwhelming. All too often the end result is the marketing plan gets talked about, but never created. And worse yet, the idea of company blog or YouTube demos never gets off the ground – and the company falls lower and lower on Google’s search results pages. 🙁

The Better Way

When it comes to online marketing, no SMB wants to fall behind their competition. But what’s the secret?

Let’s keep this super simple:

The goal of online marketing content is to spark action.

Any blog post or demo video or tweet is supposed to answer a question.

Real questions by real clients, customers or prospects.

(Well, almost any post, video or tweet. Not all of your content needs to answer questions. Fun memes and newsy posts have their place, but when it comes to stimulating action, answering questions does one very important thing: it positions you as an expert.)

Get Smart

The whole idea behind content marketing is to position your SMB as a company prospective clients or customers want to do business with.

And let’s be honest here, if a Facebook meme was all it took to get business, that’s all anyone would do.

But memes don’t spark action. News really doesn’t either.

You must provide content that positions you and your company as experts. If you provide folks with the information they need to address a pain point, they can stop browsing the web. You just saved them a ton of time and, by the way, conveniently positioned yourself as an expert.

Congratulations! You’ve just hopped into the exact position you want to be in: the person they trust for advice.

The Spark

Did you know that 88% of consumers conduct online research before buying something from a local business?

That means is you – or more specifically, your content – need to be ready 24/7/365 for those searching consumers.

But be patient. Prospective consumers or clients want to be in control of their “discovery process.” When they’re ready, they’ll start by browsing the internet.

And when your content’s at the ready – be that a blog post, white paper or case study – that’s when sparks fly when they initiate contact with you.

But Am I Answering the Right Questions?

Again, let’s keep this simple: all you need to do is pay attention to the common questions you’re hearing from your clients or customers.

Many times – especially in technical or scientific service industries like accounting, engineering or physical therapy – SMB owners think that in order to position themselves as experts they need to use big words. That’s a big mistake. If you use technical terms, you’ll attract other experts in your field – and that’s not who you’re after.

Be mindful of the language your customers and prospects use when asking questions. By using the exact words of your target audience, your content will show up the next time they type a question into Google.

So if your SMB is looking for an easy way to get going with your SMB’s online marketing, just keep it simple and answer real questions from real customers – and be the one-stop authority for your next customer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

When it comes to being social media, a lot of small business owners are wallflowers.

Some have tried to do social media, but it ended up getting awkward so they stopped. Others haven’t even tried because they’re paralyzed with fear – they don’t know how to do it so they figure it’s better to just avoid it altogether.

There are a couple of problems with that: 

  1. Social media let’s people know your business is alive and kicking
  2. Social media is a great way for people to discover you

Prospective customers look for “social proof” that you’re thriving and reputable. If you don’t exist on social media or you’re inactive, you’re inadvertently sending out the wrong signal. This is particularly true for B2B service businesses.

Yeah, but Why?

You may love social media and use it all the time in your personal life. You may even be an Instagram or Pinterest wiz. But as a small business owner, what’s the point of social media?

Social media increases your online footprint and helps you attract prospects and keep customers.

Social media can: 

  • spread the word fast – Tweets can reach millions of people in minutes – way faster than traditional t.v. or newspapers – which makes it great for news or promotions.
  • reach eyeballs for free – All the major social media channels have one thing in common: they’re free! The only investment you need is time – perfect for smaller businesses on a tight budget.
  • be a powerful sales tool – Many companies are influencing or finding new customers on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Social media is a great way to give a boost to B2B biz dev.

Tip #1: Be Observant

Before you do any social media for your company, do what wallflowers do best: stand back and observe. Poke around the web and see what your peers are up to with social media. Find out:

  • What’s working? What isn’t?
  • What platforms are they using? Facebook or Twitter or both?
  • How many employees are on their LinkedIn main page?
  • Have they ever uploaded a video to YouTube?
  • How many followers do they have on Instagram or Pinterest? 

And if you want to get really analytical, create a spreadsheet and compare the results. This’ll help you understand which social media channels are good bets for you to try. 

For instance, one of your competitors may have 10,000 Facebook fans but only 100 Twitter followers. This likely indicates Facebook is more suitable for your niche than Twitter.

Warning: Wallflowers are easily spooked by competitors with zillions of followers or posts – but don’t freak out! For now, just be an impartial observer and note the size and frequency of your competitors activity.

The goal is to see if you can come up with the following insights:

  • Which social media platforms rank 1, 2 and 3 in usage/popularity among your peers
  • Who’s the leader in your niche? Who are the stragglers? 
  • Where do you currently fit in the social media mix?

Armed with this intel, you’ll have a snapshot of how companies are using social media in your niche and where you fit.

Tip #2: Stake Your Claims

Based on the most active social media channels in your market/industry/niche, go ahead and set up a free business account for each of them.

Now don’t hyperventilate! You don’t have to be active on any of these channels; simply claim ownership of them and set up a basic profile. 

Tips for setting up a basic profile:

  • Use a real photo of your face. Social media is all about connecting and building trust. If you hate your picture being taken, think about this: your picture is going to be tiny. And if you really insist you can’t stand your picture, create an avatar instead (use this free avatar generator). 
  • Write a good company description. Don’t be shy about your expertise or accomplishments. If you don’t have any idea where to start, check out what industry leaders in your niche have in their company descriptions.
  • Tell users what type of info you’ll share. For example, if you’re a cyber security company: “..tweeting cyber security, penetration testing, DFARS tips and advice”.
  • Include a link to your website. Backlinks to your website boost incoming traffic from your social media accounts.

Tip #3: Find and Share Content

When you’re ready, it’s time to start sharing content. In the case of social media, the easiest way to do that is by curating content.

Let’s assume you’ve identified Twitter as the top channel for your niche.

The first thing you do is set up Google Alerts for interesting topics in your industry. This allows you to get a summary of current articles in your inbox, sorted by topic. All you have to do now is read the articles and determine which are helpful and worthy of sharing. Then simply cut and paste the link into your Twitter Feed.

That’s it! It not only builds momentum for your Twitter account, but it keeps you up to speed with the latest industry trends.

Tip #4: Break the Ice

After a few weeks of sharing your curated content, it’s time to learn how to follow someone and ask them to follow you back.

This may make you nervous, but don’t be. You just need to keep one thing in mind: stay balanced.

Many small business owners concentrate on getting followers and forget to follow back their followers. That’s bad form. What you want to do is spend about 10 to 15 minutes every few days reading stuff from both those who you follow and those who follow you back. Then, when you see something you like, click the like button. If you see something really good, click the share button. As long as you keep it natural, positive and sincere, you’re good to go.

Your goal is to increase the number of people in your social media account (both followers and following) to a point you’re comfortable. You don’t need to buy them, just slowly grow that number until you’re no longer embarrassed in relation to your peers.

And don’t worry if one of your competitors has 35,000 followers. Chances are they bought most of those followers (at least that’s what everyone assumes nowadays anyway).

Tip #5: Create Content

At a certain point, you’ll likely get the itch to create your own content. It’s only natural when you think about it. You’ve been reading the content that other people are generating and you’ll likely find yourself asking, “Hey, why don’t I create some of this stuff? It doesn’t look all that hard.”

You’re right. It’s not! 😉

There are a three ways you can create content: you can either entertain people, promote your products/services or help people with a pain point. 

Some common easy starter content you can create are:

  • Holidays/Jokes/Inspirational memes – Create your own memes with an online meme generator. Just pick and image and change the text. It keeps things light and is an easy way to start generating likes and shares.
  • Promotional content – Announce sales with catchy visuals that link back to existing pages on your site to build traffic and awareness.
  • Helpful articles – Blog posts or white papers take a lot more work, but provide great backlinks to your site and Google will give your page a boost in their online search.

Pro Tip: When you’re starting out, try creating one piece of content for every 8 pieces of curated content you share. As you get more comfortable creating content, you can reduce your reliance on curated content. But remember, this is a social network, so don’t do promotional posts too often or you’ll seem too pushy. 

Tip #6: Juggle Your Social Calendar

Once you’ve mastered all five tips for one social media channel, start another. The more channels you are active on, the larger your social footprint.

But don’t rush to build your social media empire. Start your second social channel only after your first one becomes second nature. You need to do two things now: continue feeding your first channel while learning your second channel.

In Conclusion

The good news is if you follow these six tips, you can get social media up and running for your company. Once you understand these basics and put in a bit of effort, you’ll overcome your shyness and have a solid social media base for your B2B business.

________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.