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 knowledgable 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.

________________

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! 🙂

________________

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.

________________

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.

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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.

Content Marketing Chalkboard Diagram

If your small business isn’t the biggest fish in your niche, content marketing can help you shrink the gap between you and the market leaders. It helps show prospects you’re credible, knowledgeable and trustworthy while at the same time shaping a distinct persona for your brand.

Sure, all companies need marketing, but content marketing’s particularly important if your business is competing against larger companies.

Let’s check out four reasons why it’s important for every small business to invest in content marketing.

#1: Content Marketing is a Great Value

Let’s be real here: we all know small businesses need to pinch pennies. And we’re all painfully aware we can’t outspend the big fish in our pond.

But what if you could implement a very cost-effective way to snag a larger share of your market?

That’s exactly what content marketing can do. It actually generates 3x more business leads than outbound sales tactics while costing 62% less. That makes it even more effective than paid search marketing!

Creating content like blog posts, YouTube how to videos or white paper downloads are some of the best ways to get your business to rank at the top of Google. A well executed content marketing strategy increases traffic to your site organically (i.e. without having to pay for Google or Facebook ads).

#2: Content Marketing Creates Buzz

Big Fortune 500 companies invest tons of money in sophisticated PR campaigns to get media exposure. And nowadays, even mid-sized companies have full-blown content marketing systems in place.

So what’s a small business to do?

Easy: simply steal a page from their playbook and use the exact same channels and techniques to get the word out about your company:

  • Share news in a local or niche publication
  • Write blog posts to position your company as thought leaders
  • Promote your company through social media channels

And don’t hesitate to aim high: a creative, well-written story about your business might even make national headlines.

#3: Content Marketing Clarifies Your Value Proposition

Have you ever thought about why a prospective client or customer would choose your company instead of a larger, more experienced competitor?

Are you less expensive?

Are you easier to work with?

Maybe your products or services are better.

Thinking about those questions and finding your answer is the basis of your Value Proposition. Your Value Proposition’s what makes you unique in your niche.

A clearly defined Value Proposition makes it easy for prospects to understand what makes you different and why they’d want to select you. And, conveniently, content marketing is the best way for you to continually show your Value Proposition through your own custom mix of blog posts, social media tweets or videos.

#4: Content Marketing Helps Build Relationships

One distinct advantage a small business has over a large enterprise is it’s easier to build one-on-one connections; your customers feel like you “get” them and that they’re important to the success of your business.

Content marketing helps small businesses deepen relationships with prospects and existing clients by consistently sharing high-quality posts or articles, infographics or how-to videos.

Let Rushminute Help

If you’re committed to the success of your small business and are “in it for the long haul”, building a content marketing system will give you the best bang for your marketing buck. If you’re looking for help building your system from scratch or just need a “go to web guy” to 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 content marketing system 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.

Landing Page Best Practices

Landing pages are key to growing your small business. More important than blogging and social media, landing pages are where the rubber meets the road by turning your prospects turn into customers.

But making effective landing pages isn’t easy. Why? Because every person who visits your landing page knows you want their email address, positive review or money.

And they want you to earn it.

Let’s take a look at some landing page best practices that’ll make it easier for you to “shrink the trust gap”.

Hold Up: Just what is a landing page?

A landing page is any web page a visitor can “land” on after clicking a link in a Google search, a Facebook ad, or link from any other website.

When it comes to marketing your small business, a landing page has a specific goal: to convert a prospect into a new lead or customer. And the conversion can come in different forms: a new subscriber to your blog, setting an appointment or completing an online purchase.

For small B2B service businesses, the most common type of landing page is a lead generating landing page. Its purpose is to capture visitor information – name, email, phone number – to add to a database for future marketing purposes.

Lead Gen Best Practices

In order to get the most our of your lead generating landing pages, here are some best practices to boost your conversion rates:

1. Be Bonehead Simple

A landing page is a blunt instrument, so it’s best not to get too clever with them. Keep the design, content and message simple.

This may mean your landing page doesn’t look like the rest of the pages on your website. That’s okay. They exist to do one thing: capture visitor information.

So, to have an effective landing page, remove every element on your landing page that isn’t necessary; fancy design elements, too much text, and unrelated content will distract your visitor from scanning your page, grasping your offer and filling out your form.

2. Have a Call to Action

Landing page visitors should know instantly what you’re asking them to do. Do you want them to subscribe to your podcast? Do you want them to schedule an appointment? Are you offering a free trial? Whatever you do, make sure it’s easy for them to understand your what you want them to do and what they’re going to get.

3. Minimize the Form

Here’s the deal: make the amount of information you’re requesting in your landing page form equal the value of what you’re offering. A form with too many fields will turn off most site visitors – which defeats the whole purpose – so only ask for the most crucial information and nothing more.

If you are looking for new subscribers, only ask for a name and email address. If you’re offering a free e-Book, ask for the business name and phone number, but don’t overdo it. You can always request more information down the road as the site visitor shows interest and engagement with you throughout their “buyer journey”.

4. Offer Something of Value

Site visitors aren’t dummies. They’re not going to give you personal information or money unless you give them something they want. In marketing terms, that something is called a lead magnet.

Here are some example lead magnets:

  • E-book
  • Whitepaper
  • Free Webinar
  • Free Consultation or Demo
  • Discount or Coupon

The key is to offer something of value that’s appropriate and attractive to your target audience in order to boost customer attraction, conversion or retention. 

5. Give Social Proof

People are social creatures and look to others to validate your company. If someone has tried your products or services and are happy, satisfied customers, your prospects will assume they’ll have the same good experience.

In order to bridge the trust gap between a prospect and your company, provide social proof on your landing page – either a testimonial or, at a minimum, links to your social media pages.

6. Be Beneficial

Last, but not least, your landing page must do two two things:

  1. describe what they’re going to get in exchange for their info or money
  2. convince them they will receive unique benefits

For example, if you’re offering a free eBook, describe what’s contained in the eBook and how it will help them build their knowledge or skills. The benefit to them isn’t that you’re an expert, but that you’re helping them address a pain point. It’s the benefit you offer that encourages them to think beyond the immediate benefits – and positions your company as a potential long term match.

In Conclusion

The reason why landing pages are key to small business success is because they offer something of value to encourage a site visitor to trust you. By building a lead generating landing page, your site visitors will be enticed by a useful, relevant, and exciting offer that persuades them to work with your business.

And what small business website owner wouldn’t want that?
________________

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.

Local Search Marketing

If you’re a small business with a brick and mortar store front, it’s important your customers – and prospects – in your local area find your business quickly. It may be a patient looking for physical therapy or someone hankering for a cupcake. In either case, you’ll need to have a website that’s optimized for local SEO (a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization) so you’ll be at the top of the Google or Bing search results page when people search “physical therapists near me” or “cupcake near me“.

Here are six ways to enhance your Local SEO and improve the chances your small business will show up in front of more local customers:

  1. Create a Google My Business Profile Creating a Google My Business page gives Google all the vital information about your business so you’ll listing will show up in local searches. It’s free and only take a few minutes to set up, so it’s a ‘must have’ for all brick and mortar small businesses.
  2. Check your NAP information “NAP” stands for Name, Address and Phone number and is the standard information that Google uses to identify your company as a local business. Check anywhere you have your NAP – on your website or in online directories like Yelp, Foursquare or AngiesList – to make sure that it’s exactly the same. This isn’t such a big deal for new companies, but if you’ve ever moved there’s a good chance one of your addresses isn’t up to date.
  3. Gather Reviews Nowadays, online customer reviews are the first place folks look when checking out your business.

    Pro tip: create a review request card and get it printed online at VistaPrint and hand it out to your customers at checkout. It’ll greatly reduce the time and effort it takes to get a review, and good reviews really boost your small business local SEO ranking.

  4. Have a Mobile-Friendly Site Today, more searches are done on mobile than on desktop. In addition, most customers are actually away from home when they search for local businesses. And since Google factors in your site’s “mobile-friendliness” in their ranking algorithm, it’s a good way to ensure your business will rank high on the search results page.
  5. Get High Quality Backlinks Backlinks – links from other relevant, high-quality websites – are a great way to boost your site to the top of Google or Bing. You get backlinks by creating awesome content that other people want to share or link to from their website. Alternatively, you can partner with other local businesses and co-author or guest author content for their website.

________________

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.

Web Design Fairy

There’s no such thing a magical web design fairy who can wave a magic wand and grant a small-sized business instant success. The recipe for a successful business website has two key ingredients:

  • hard work
  • persistence

Every small business owner knows their website is a vital part of their businesses. But here’s the deal: to have a shot at success, your online presence can’t be anything less than outstanding.

The most common mistake made when redesigning a website is that the owner fails to pay attention to the myriad of details before the site goes live. Consequently, the site launches and looks pretty good overall, but has tiny errors and glitches.

Sure, site visitors will find your newly redesigned website interesting, useful, navigable and enjoyable. But your visitors are coming to your site with a specific goal in mind. It can be that they’re looking for the answer to a question or in need of a specific product or service. First and foremost, you need to provide them with answers and/or services they’re looking for, but there are also several unwritten “gotchas” to avoid:

Rambling On and On

Nowadays, people will give your site only a few seconds before deciding if they’re going to continue reading. If they can’t instantly understand what your business in about, they’ll bounce.

As a business owner you must be ruthless with your content — edit, edit, edit and don’t pack too much above the fold.

Busy designs with tons of images, text and buttons take a long time to load. Give your visitors some breathing space and keep in mind that a crowded website is overwhelming. If a visitor is overwhelmed, they reach what’s called their “cognitive limit” and they’ll click away out of confusion. Aim for being brief, simple and perfectly clear.

Stale, Out-of-Date Content

Providing the latest information on products and services is imperative simply because your prospects, customers and industry are constantly changing.

A simple fix is to have a business blog with a new post every week. Not only will it drive visitors to your site, but search engines will reward you with higher ranking.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a large following or recent posts on Facebook or Twitter, temporarily deactivate the links to those sites from your website. It’s better not to expose yourself to the negative impact of being “behind” compared to your competition.

Aiming for the Wrong Target

A website without goals is similar to a race with no finish line. And not knowing your ideal customer causes confusion about who your website’s talking to.

Don’t design your website for “everyone”. Figure out who your most frequent users are and concentrate on creating the ideal experience for them. If you try to please everyone, in the end, you’ll end up pleasing no one.

Poor Optimization (SEO and Speed)

Unlike in your commute, when we’re talking about websites, traffic is great! It’s the single most desirable thing for a small business website as a site with no traffic is virtually useless.

In order to increase your overall traffic – visitors and clicks on your website – you need to optimize the way people find you and the speed at which your site performs. This means paying attention to your website’s SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEO involves many things, a few of which are:

  • describe your images with “metatags” so Google and Bing associate key search words with your pictures
  • make sure your images aren’t too large and slow the loading of your web page
  • add hidden “keywords” to your page so Google and Bing can rank your page higher
  • install helpful plugins to make it easy to manage your website’s SEO and page speed

Taking the DIY route

If you’re thinking of redesigning your website and want to do it yourself, that’s not a mistake. Just be sure to do what web designers do: put on your thinking cap and figure out:

  • Your ideal customer(s) and what makes them tick
  • The result you’re looking for
  • What you want to say
  • How you want to organize (structure) the information on your site and each page

Uuse the same processes that web designers use – creative strategy, persona development, site map, wireframe, design, code, QA, launch – to ensure you’re building a scalable site – one that’s solid today and easily upgradeable down the road.

Forgetting the Basics

  • Link to links: Always, always remember to hyperlink! Don’t be one of those companies who has their email address without making it clickable.
  • Mobile testing: Research shows that more than 50% of website visitors are on mobile devices, so make sure to test your site on a smartphone and tablet.
  • Social exposure: Don’t add social media links as an afterthought. Only add links to your social channels if you’re active on them.

Paying Too Little or Too Much

Lots of small business owners have been burned by shady web companies resulting in atrocious, overpriced disasters. Some assume that they need an expensive agency that’s worked with big brands in order to ensure they have a great website. The truth lies in between.

Simply put: don’t blow your budget on web design. Do thorough research before hiring a web agency and make sure you balance your marketing resources for a site upgrade – but more importantly – growth services to make sure your overall traffic increases.

Conclusion

Although there is no secret web design fairy, with hard work, persistence and by keeping these “gotchas” in mind, you should be able to create a magical website for your small business.

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.