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.

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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.

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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.

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?
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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Website Credibility

The average user knows within a couple of seconds of landing on your site if they want to stay. That’s the harsh reality of trying to attract today’s attention-challenged web surfers.

Often, the reason they’re clicking away is because they website doesn’t feel credible.

In order to even have a chance of getting a site visitor to share an article, fill out a form, or make a purchase, your website must first be credible. Let’s take a look at four ways to increase a website’s credibility.

Design

The look and feel of a website is the most obvious place to start. That’s because people are wired to process visual information much faster than written content.

Images, colors, fonts, and icons are essential in helping users quickly determine what a site is all about. The trick is to keep things simple and obvious. It’s always preferable to have fewer elements on a page – say 12 to 15 – rather than overwhelming a site visitor with hundreds of tiny pictures and buttons.

Take your Home page. A common mistake is having too many visual elements on the page. The most common reason for cluttering up a Home page is because the you’re worried if you don’t tell a site visitor everything about your company, they might click away without finding it how great you are. The opposite is true! Instead, think of your Home page like the lobby of a building: give users a directory of what’s within your site and simple directions on how to get to their final destination.

The goal is to make your site “usable”. In other words, write simple headlines and use obvious buttons or links to guide visitors to the information they’re looking for.

And don’t forget to maintain the consistency from page to page. Don’t overdo it with too many font styles, sizes or colors. If you aren’t consistent you’ll increase the “cognitive load” – a fancy web designer’s term for how much a user has to think in order to decipher what you’re saying. By paying attention to the design of your site, users will – on an intuitive level – grant you “credibility points” because you’re showing that you understand how to clearly and simply present your products or services.

Content

While the visual aspect of your website is important, it really all boils down to the content.

Simply put, content should be useful. For example, if you have an online store, make sure you’re very detailed in your product descriptions. And by all means, be organized. Sort information into tabs – one for the product overview, another for features, another for technical information, etc. Sorting information into chunks allows users to enjoy discovering about your company and it’s products instead of being overwhelmed.

Another key to building credibility is to ensure your content is accurate and current. Nothing kills credibility faster than inaccurate or out-of-date content.

Social Proof

The whole idea behind social proof is we buy from people we like. Your business can gain trust when you highlight your relationships with your customers, prospects and other companies. The “company you keep” is all part of providing social proof that you’re a likable – and credible – company.

Some common forms of social proof are:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Social Media likes, mentions or shares
  • Industry awards
  • Press reviews

Links from your website to your social network pages allow users to connect with your brand. Another way to increase your credibility is to embed feeds from one or two of your social network on your website – like your the latest Tweets or Instagram posts.

Although you don’t need to have all of these forms of social proof on your site, the more social proof you provide, the more your website will improve your company’s credibility.

Security

Nowadays users are becoming more and more aware of electronic fraud and security breaches. It’s up to you to make sure you reassure site visitors that your site and their information is secure, particular if you’re an online store.

Even if you don’t have an online store, Google recommends you enable HTTPS for your site. The HTTPS system uses SSL encryption to create encrypted links between the server and the user. In this way, the data entered by the user cannot be intercepted by third parties, even for something as simple as filling out a contact form on your site.

If you have an online store, be sure to include security certificates to give your users peace of mind. These are logos or seals from companies like Verisign, Norton, TRUSTe, and others that you can place in your footer or on checkout pages.

Finally, if you don’t already have them, be sure to include Privacy Policy and Terms of Use links in your footer to assure users you won’t share their personal information.

In conclusion…

Contrary to what you might think, the credibility of your website isn’t just about security. It’s about simple, easy-to-understand design, thorough content and social proof. All four factors influence how a site visitor feels about your brand and company, so it is important that you consider them in order to gain their highest level of confidence.

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.

Website Analytics Large

You’re a small business owner and you have a great website. You’ve even done some SEO for your site so your company can rank high on Google and Bing.

But how do you know if your website is getting results?

Google has a free service – Google Analytics – that provides you with a few sentences of text (a tracking code) to add to all of your website’s pages to provide you with all sorts of useful information about your site, including:

  • How many people are visit your website
  • Where your site visitors live
  • Whether they’re using a desktop, tablet or cell phone
  • Which pages are most popular
  • How many of your visitors become customers

But this is just a tiny portion of what Google Analytics can do for you.

This Quick Start Guide will help you sift through Google Analytics to find three of the most common metrics to give you a handle on how your website is performing.

Analytics Interface

1. Number of Visitors

The number of site visitors you get every week or month is about as basic as it gets – they more visitors you have, the better.

Visitors Overview

How to View: Click on Audience > Overview.

What to Watch: Once you have the Google Analytics tracking code installed, check your traffic baseline. Over time you’ll then be able to notice how your traffic slowly grows or spikes upward or drops.

What to Do: Slow, steady growth is what you’re shooting for, but if you see big changes in your site’s traffic, pay attention! A big upward spike may correlate to a recent post that got a lot of traction because you did a good job in promoting it on social media. Ask yourself, “What’s causing the increased engagement and how can we recreate it?”

2. How Visitors Are Finding You

Most small business owners don’t know visitors arrive at their website. Are they clicking on links in a Google or Facebook or Twitter? Well, with Google Analytics, your web traffic is divided into channels:

  • Organic Search – people click on a Google or Bing search link
  • Social – people click on a link on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Direct – people type your site’s address into a browser
  • Referral – people click on a link on Facebook, Twitter, news article, etc.
  • Email – people click on a link in an email
  • Paid Search – people click on one of your paid ads

Traffic Channels

How to View: Click on Acquisition > Overview.

What to Watch: Compare the relative success rate of each of your four traffic channels to determine which is performing best for you – organic keywords for Google and Bing search results, catchy social media posts that link back to your site or offline campaigns that require visitors to type in a specific web address.

What to Do: Tweak your marketing efforts to boost productivity. For instance, if most of your visitors are coming from Twitter referrals, focus your resources there while exploring ways to increase the performance of the other channels. Your goal is to continue to build on your successful traffic sources and troubleshoot your underperforming channels so they start to feed traffic to your site.

3. Time Spent On Your Site

Getting visitors to your web site is half the battle. The other half is keeping them there. That involves great design and compelling content and offers that piques their interest and attracts their attention.

Bounce Rate

How to View: Click on Behavior > Overview > Bounce Rate or Behavior > Overview > Avg. Time on Page.

What to Watch: Check out your bounce rate – the number of visitors who only go to one page on your site before leaving – and the amount of time a visitor spends on a specific page. The more you investigate what’s happening on individual pages, the more you’ll understand how to interpret the data.

What to Do: Are visitors finding and what they need or quickly leaving in frustration? For example, if a demonstration videos is 3 minutes long, but visitors are only watching 44 seconds, can you shorten the video or is the video host making people click away?

These three metrics are just the beginning of what you can do with Google Analytics. Once you master these, challenge yourself to learn how to run new reports to help you keep your website in tip top shape.

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.

Small Business Website Return on Investment

So here’s the deal: figuring out the return on investment (ROI) of your website or digital marketing is simple. The only hitch for small businesses is it costs about $5K a month. That’ll give you access to a robust marketing automation platform (HubSpot, Salesforce, Marketo, etc.) and a decent budget to generate content and manage your lead funnel.

But for most small business owners that’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider the first year is when you set up the system and the second year is when you finally get to analyze and tweak the results.

So what can a small business owner do to prove – or at least give some level of assurance of – website and digital marketing ROI?

Here are the easy steps you can take to not only indicate ROI, but lay an important knowledge base for when you are ready to migrate to a robust marketing automation platform:

Know Your Baselines

First off, you’ve got to get some data on your website. Because without some sort of baseline of performance, you’re just winging it.

Google Analytics

The easiest and cheapest way to do that is to set up Google Analytics for your website. It’s free and all you have to do is add a few lines of code to your website. Once you do that, you’ll have access to all sorts of valuable statistics like:

  • number of visitors
  • length of visit
  • number of pages/visit
  • most popular pages
  • etc.

With Google Analytics, you’ll be able to slice and dice your statistics, compare month-to-month or year-to-year trends and identify content that’s getting the most traction with your audience. There’s so much information that it’s easy to get lost, so check out this blog post for a Quick Start Guide to Google Analytics for Small Business.

And if you have social media for your business, you can look at those metrics as well.

Twitter Analytics

For instance, if your company has a Twitter account, you can go to your account by clicking on your profile picture, then select “Analytics”. There you’ll find valuable insights to help you gauge the ROI of your social media activities.

Check out the statistics as often as you like, but at a minimum take a peek every quarter and see if you can take away one insight. Consider it practice for when you’ll be in charge of a more complex marketing automation system.

Ask Your Clients

Probably the simplest way to find out the value of your digital marketing is to simply ask your clients. A really easy way to do this for service businesses is to weave a couple of questions into the conversation during a kickoff meeting. For instance, just as the meeting’s wrapping up, casually say, “you know, I’ve been meaning to ask you, how did you find out about us?” After they give their answer, you can nurse a bit more specific information from them by asking, “so do you remember doing a Google search or reading our reviews? I’m just wondering how it is folks like you find out about us. Was it someone you knew who pointed you our way or maybe some of our blog posts?”

And you might want to consider collecting this intel in a Google Sheet, especially if you have a small sales or marketing team.

Learn SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an industry term for using words on your web pages that Google and Bing will use to help your site rank higher in the search results. The goal is to use the exact words people type into Google or Bing to find your products or services.

Now SEO isn’t necessarily going to prove ROI, it’s just that developing good SEO practices is vital to your business being found on the web. And since that’s what we’re trying to measure, you don’t want to assume your website isn’t working for you when your site’s performance was hindered by simply forgetting to use accurate keywords.

Build a Lead Generation System

Setting up a system to funnel leads to your sales team – a lead generation system – is how enterprises prove digital marketing ROI. This involves defining personas (common customer types) and all the different types of content (blog posts, white papers, social media posts, emails) needed to nurture a prospect along their “buyer journey” – from knowing nothing about your company to ultimately becoming a new client.

But what small business need is a simplified way to do create their own lead gen system.

The bad news is it’s not simple.

The good news is once you build it, you’ll have done all the hard work required to set up a marketing automation system, but without spending $5K/mo!

There’s a lot to cover, so when you’re ready, download our How to Build Your Own Small Business Lead Gen System.

Start Tracking Campaigns

Once you have your Lead Generation System, you’re going to need a way to track conversions (clicks, downloads, etc.). This is how you’ll ultimately determine your ROI. As you might imagine, if you have HubSpot, Marketo or Salesforce, all this is integrated into their platforms.

For the DIY small business, there is again yet another free option from Google: The Campaign URL Builder. This tool integrates with your Google Analytics and allows you to track the performance of an email campaign, landing page or download success page. It’s the exact same functionality as the big boys use and equally as robust, it just takes a bit of manual work to set one up each time you have a unique campaign you want to track.

ID Web Visitors

Lastly, if you’ve got a bit of money in your pocket and the majority of your prospects work at enterprise-sized companies, you might consider installing a Visitor ID tracking service (GleanView, WhoIsVisiting, etc.). With prices ranging from free to around $70/mo., you can get contact information on who’s visiting your website. It will identify the company that they work at and automatically add them to a popular CRM (Customer Resource Management software like Zoho, Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.) so you can reach out to them via phone or email.

While this isn’t very useful if your prospects are smaller businesses or individuals, it’s a simpler version of the tracking that all the major marketing automation platforms use and a great concept to be familiar with before you upgrade to a marketing automation platform.

But until you have $5K burning a whole in your pocket every month, give any one of these things a try. The sooner you implement even one of these, the sooner you’ll be on the road to determining your website and digital marketing ROI.

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.

effective website design

When it comes to your company website, giving your prospects and customers a great first impression is critical to building trust and credibility.

And if you’re like most small businesses, you want your website to act like a 24/7/365 salesperson to help you attract prospects, generate leads, and win new clients.

Here are six essential tips to get your small business website design whipped into shape.

1 Keep It Simple

Effective design is all about simplicity. If your website is too cluttered or confusing — lots of colors, too much text, tons of little graphics or annoying popups — site visitors will bounce. The better approach is to think of most of your web pages as billboards: focus on being brief and clear. Much like a person glancing at a billboard on a freeway, your site visitors are scanning your page for a reason to slow down to actually read your content. Embrace white space and simple, bold headlines. The more you do this, the lighter the “cognitive load” (the amount users need to think when deciphering your web page) and the more likely your site visitors will enjoy the experience of learning about your business.

But how can you tell if your website pages are simple enough?

Here’s a simple test: go to any page on your website and count all the elements on the page – headlines, text blocks, pictures, icons, etc. Then go to one of your competitors that you think has good website design and find a similar web page and count their elements. Chances are they have less elements on the page.

Take it a step further and compare the number of elements and compare the sizes. Is the text in the headlines larger on their website? Do they use fewer words? Are the pictures bigger or smaller? By looking at the number of elements and the sizes, you’ll start to figure out ways you can simplify your web page designs.

2 Make Navigation A No-Brainer

Helping site visitors quickly find what they’re looking for is a shockingly overlooked aspect of effective website design. If you just have a 10-page website it’s not a big deal. But as your site grows you need to have a plan to organize your pages logically so visitors won’t get lost or leave in frustration.

Pro tip: Want to know a simple way to test if your site navigation is intuitive? Ask someone. Find a person who doesn’t know your company or industry and ask them to find a specific page. Don’t help them, just observe. Encourage them to speak out loud the thoughts that are going through their head as they’re navigating your site. Once you’ve done this, congratulate yourself: you’ve just done your first user test and you’ve discovered the best way to find out if your site is intuitive to navigate!

3 Lock Down Your Brand

Nowadays, the company website is the flagship “brand” property. As such, it needs to accurately and positively represent your company and be the “sun” around which all the other pieces of your brand orbit. The trick is to be consistent – using the same logo, fonts, colors and visual style throughout your website and collateral materials.

Pro tip: Start gathering all the bits and pieces of your brand into a “brand guide”. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a corporate color palette, your primary font(s), and the source file (high resolution or vector-based) for your logo.

4 Be Responsive

When it comes to web design, being responsive means your website automatically adapts to the different devices that people use these days – desktop, tablet or mobile. That’s because the majority of site visitors use mobile, touch-enabled devices.

Did you know? Google lowers the search result ranking of websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. If you want your business to be found on the web, make sure your site is optimized for all devices!

5 Forms that are Easy to Love

Even a fabulously designed website isn’t working as hard as it should be if you’re not generating income. That’s where forms come in. Forms are used to capture contact information from your site visitors, but if they’re complex or clunky, your lead generation efforts will suffer. Don’t treat your forms as an afterthought.

Pro Tip: Create different forms for different purposes – short ones for quick access to helpful information for new prospects and longer forms for high-value downloads for users who are closer to a purchase decision.

6 Have a Friendly Contact Us Page

Most contact pages are just a directory of contact information. This is a huge mistake, even for small businesses in conservative industries. Make it a point to express a friendly, approachable personality on your Contact page. It sets you apart as “real” and easy to get in touch with.

Pro Tips: Provide a minimum of three ways to get in touch with you: phone, email, and contact form. And for brick and mortar businesses, have a Google map with your business address. 

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.