The E-Marketing Maven Is Proud To Partner With The Biz Club

Just a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of having coffee with Sandra Eamor, founder of The York Region Small Business Club and I called her “a little dynamo” Well, that “little dynamo” has made an impact in a BIG way, with her  newly-rebranded networking group  called “The Biz Club”  — and I’m proud to be a part of it.

The Biz Club is an  innovative networking group that truly “breaks the mold” that I’ve seen in other networking groups.  It provides many opportunities for members to get to know each other and build real relationships in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. 

I’m honored that they have invited me to be their partner and provide social media training for thier members.  I’m touched by the incredible email they recently send to their members (You can see it below).  To learn more about The Biz Club visit http://www.TheBizClub.ca

 

See Sarah Zeldman, The E-marketing Maven On Daytime TV!

It was great to be on DayTime York Region with my gracious hosts Elaine Yim Spencer & Jeff Moore!  My very first TV appearance!  I particularly loved the question “If Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were hanging over a cliff, and you could only save one, which one would you save?”  – Way to keep me on my toes! Click the link below to watch the segement below and see my “suprise” answer to his surprising question! 

How To Get Great Social Media Graphics for $5

Whether your using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Google+ — you need some custom graphics for your social media accounts — and the cost can really add up! But on Fiverr.com you can get all the graphics you need, and lots of other useful services for just $5 each.  I use this site all the time and I have been extremely pleased with the results. But to get the most out of Fiverr.com — there a few little tips and tricks you should know.  Watch the video below to learn my “insider secrets” for getting affordable graphics for all of your social media accounts.

The 3 Step Formula For Marketing Your Business On Any Social Media Site

Congratulations! You’ve started an account for your business on Facebook, or Twitter, Or LinkedIn, or Pinterest, or Google+.

Now What?

If you’ve ever stared at your screen wondering, “How should I promote my business on this social network today?”  –– This article is for you.

The answer to the questions above comes down to three little words. If you can remember these three words (repeat it like a mantra) , you’ll never wonder “What should I do on this social network?” again.

I have taught this formula in my seminars and to my clients and they love it! 

Ready? Here they are:

Post. Share. Mingle.

Unless you are running a specific event on a social network (like a twitter chat or a google hangout) — your regular marketing activities can be summed up in those three little words.

No matter which social media site you are on, if you want to promote your business on it,  you are almost always going to be doing one of these three activities: 

Here are some critical things to remember for each step. 

When posting your own original content, remember that it shouldn’t be “all about you” all the time. If you only post self-promotional material, your audience will tune you out quickly.  To paraphrase Amy Porterfield, Facebook Expert, eighty percent of your post should be “inspiring, educational, empowering, or entertaining.” If you post content that truly adds value to your audience eight percent of the time, then you can post promotional content twenty percent of the time and your audience will notice it and probably support you by engaging with those posts, as well as, of course, taking advantage of what you have to offer. 

In order to become a valuable resource for your audience (so that they want to read your posts on a regular basis) and to be considered “a citizen in good standing” of the social media world, you must frequently share other people’s content. You can stand out from the crowd by telling your audience, in your post, why you think they would enjoy the article, instead of just re-posting the title. Also, sharing, or retweeting someone else’s content is a good way to “get on their radar” and start a conversation with them — so go ahead and share strategically. If there’s someone you want to connect with, and they’ve posted something brillant, share it with your audience. They will probably thank you for it, and you can take the conversation from there.

Once while I was teaching my Twitter Step-By-Step class, one of my students asked, “Sarah, I post and share on Twitter all the time. I never see any business from it.” I explained to her that if all she does is post and share on Twitter, without actually starting and jumping into conversations, then it’s as if she going to networking meetings, leaving her cards at the front entrance, and leaving. She is much more likely to generate leads and create valuable business relationships if she actually stays at the meeting and socializes.  Likewise, she (and you) will only see the benefits of social media marketing if she engages in conversations sites like Twitter. Each site has different ways to “mingle.” On LinkedIn, you may want to join groups. (Not industry groups of your peers. Choose the groups where your target market hangs out!)   On Facebook perhaps you should regularly visit some pages that would interest your target customers. Create a strategy for how you are going to mingle on each site.  Then — Be Bold! Be Brave!  Start conversations and jump into conversations that have already started. It’s okay. It’s expected. After all, social media is supposed to be social.

So, to wrap up…

If you ever find yourself staring at your computer wondering…

What Should I Do To Promote My Business Today?

Just remember these three steps:

Post. Share. Mingle.

1. Post Your Own Original Content
2. Share Other People’s  Content
3. Mingle. Start and Jump Into Conversations.

 Now — go to it!

I’ll see you on social media!

Need More Help With Social Media Marketing

Sarah Zeldman loves to show entrepreneurs and companies, click-by-click, how to use social media sites to promote their products and services. Check out her upcoming “Step-By-Step” seminars in the Greater Toronto Area or learn more about how she can help you at your location. 

 

Are You Suffering From Social Media Stress Syndrome?

Feeling Overwhelmed by Social Media Marketing?

If you are a business owner, then you may be suffering from a form of Social Media Stress Syndrome (SMSS). This is a serious condition that affects millions of business owners annually. It is crucial that more knowledge and awareness is brought to this potentially crippling social networking disease.

In this article we will introduce the common varieties of SMSS and give an overview of possible treatments. Future articles will examine each strain of the disease more closely and provide comprehensive treatment options that could save your business.

 

Diagnosis

People with SMSS can go undiagnosed for years. Often, people try and keep their symptoms hidden from others who aren’t suffering from the same ailment.

How can you tell if someone you know has SMSS? If you run into someone whom you suspect has Social Media Stress Syndrome, simply ask them “Hey, are you on Facebook?” during a conversation and monitor the responses.

  • Are they unable to meet your eyes or give you a vague response?
  • Do they trail off or mumble their response or if they respond with something like “Yeah, but I don’t really use it” or any other difficulty in speech?
  • Do they show a marked lack of enthusiasm, or signs of classic stress?
  • Are they showing signs of aggravation, such as throwing their hands up in the air, sighing deeply, or simply holding their head in their hands and shaking it?

A “yes” to any of these questions could indicate person with a case of SMSS.
There are three main varieties of SMSS and it’s important that you learn to recognize the symptoms of each variation because early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important. If not caught early, this syndrome can be paralyzing to the growth of your business. Interestingly, those people with little or no exposure to social media are often hit the hardest by SMSS. It strikes both young and old, although doctors are finding that teenagers are not often affected.

Types of Social Media Stress Symptoms 

There are 3 varieties of Social Media Stress Syndrome that specialists have been able to isolate.

Is Social Media Gone yet? No? I guess I can’t avoid it any longer…

MissingTheBoatitis
Symptoms include:

  • A nagging feeling that you should be using social media to grow your business but you don’t know where to start.
  • Fear of not having time to learn how to use social media
  • Excessive spending on traditional marketing (i.e. direct mail, newspaper ads, telemarketing)
  • A low ROI on marketing campaigns

If not treated, MissingTheBoatitis can develop into a more serious state. This syndrome is progressive and if left untreated can become quite serious. Signs that it is severe include people using terms like “ancient”, “prehistoric”, and “Pleistocene Era” when referring to you or your business.

What do I post? How to do I get people to buy my products and services?

NowWhat Inertiatitis A & B

The symptoms for Strain A include:

  • Creating social media accounts but not using them
  • Writer’s block
  • Fear of negative comments

 Warning: This condition can cause paralysis if left untreated.

It is estimated that several million social networking accounts are affected by NowWhat Inertiatitis. It’s not difficult to spot an inactive account – one with few fans and no recent updates. Those with sensitive constitutions shouldn’t attempt to view the wreckage. It’s best to avert your eyes and move on.

Symptoms for Strain B (commonly known as “OverPromotionia”) include:

  • Constant posting of ads, discounts and promotions
  • Not posting any valuable, engaging, or entertaining content
  • Wondering why no one is responding to offers

If left untreated, this condition can cause customer annoyance and a bad reputation.

Social Media Marketing Takes Too Much Time & Effort!

MaintainOnuclueosis

Symptoms include:

  • Chronic exhaustion from having to consistently create clever content
  •  Extreme annoyance at having to login, post updates, and respond to individuals on various networking sites
  •  Wasting time from lack of objectives on social networking sites

This condition can also cause paralysis, sluggish sales, and if left untreated, social networking oblivion.

Social Media Stress Syndrome (SMSS) – An Evolving Threat

As you can see, Social Media Stress Syndrome can strike anywhere. If symptoms persist, this can lead to a loss of business, slumping sales, and lethargic networking. 

The good news is that each variety of SMSS can be cured.  In the next article in this series, we will examine MissingTheBoatitis and provide several treatment options.

 If you’re suffering from any form of Social Media Stress Syndrome, Sarah Zeldman, The E-Marketing Maven, can help. Come to one of her seminars and hands-on workshops, have her come to your office for customized training, or contact her to find out the ways she can help you overcome this serious condition.

 

 

FIve Great Articles To Get You “Up To Speed” On Facebook’s New Timeline For Brand Pages

If you’re a small business owner with a fanpage on Facebook, you probably know that the good ol’  “FB” surprised everyone by rolling out a new format for pages last week. You have the option to switch over  to the new format now (but I don’t recommend it…the bugs are still being worked out).   Everyone will be forced to change to the new “Timeline” format on March 30.

Makes your head spin doesn’t it?

I know. You just got used to the old format…and then…whammo…

Oh well, them’s the breaks. Especially when you’re using an advertising platform that you’re not paying for…

But don’t worry, The E-marketing Maven is here to smooth the transition for you. Below you will find a list of the best 5 best resources and articles about the new Facebook format. These articles will explain the new features, and as well as the features that were lost, answer your questions and give you creative ideas for using the new format to promote your business.

1) http://www.learnfacebookpages.com/ – This is Facebook’s interactive video guide to the new fanpage. I highly recommend starting with tutorial. It clearly explains the features of the new layout.

2) http://kikolani.com/new-facebook-pages-with-timeline-design-pros-cons.html – This article offers a good outlines of the pros and cons of the new layout.

3) http://www.dreamgrow.com/a-view-of-facebook-timeline-brand-pages-and-how-to-enable-it-right-now/  – This article offers a good step-by-step guide to setting up your new timeline.

4)  http://mashable.com/2012/02/29/facebook-timeline-brand-pages/ – Get inspired with some great examples of the new Timeline layout in the slideshow below the article.

5)   http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/facebook-timeline-for-fan-pages-frequently-asked-questions/ – Still got questions? This article will probably answer them all!

BONUS: http://www.dreamgrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/facebook-cheat-sheet-sizes-and-dimensions.pdf – This handy, downloadable sheet offers the dimensions for all of the graphics you could possibly use on Facebook.

Those are my favourite articles on the new Facebook Timeline Page Layout. Did I miss any other great ones? Please let me know in the comments.

And if Facebook, or other social media sites, make you want to pull-your-hair out — please remember that I offer one-on-one social media training and live “hands on” seminars in Vaughan and the Greater Toronto Area.  I’ll be adding information to this site about the training shortly, but for now, contact me here or call 905-709-7729 for more information.

 

How to do keyword research for your small business (Warning: Long Post)

In the last post of the What and Why Series,  I told you about keywords and why they are critical to your online marketing efforts.  

Today I will show you one basic method you can use to determine good keywords to use on your website, in your blog posts and your social media campaigns. This method will involve using free tools and a worksheet that I created for you. This is not the only, or the best method of  keyword research, but it can give you enough information to determine which keywords to target for your website or blog — and you can’t beat the price!

First, let me tell you the criteria for determining the best keywords:

The best keywords for your website will have:

  • Significant Search Volume – Obviously, you want to make sure that a significant number of people are regularly searching for the keywords that you are using on website.
  • Low Competition – Search volume isn’t everything in this game. Even if thousands of people are searching for your keywords every month, you won’t have much of a chance of getting in front of millions of other websites are using the same keywords!  Therefore you want to use keywords that have  a significant amount of people searching for them and as little competition as possible.
  • Commercial Relevance  – When researching your keywords you want to make a note of the keyword phrases that clearly show a searchers intention to buy vs. looking for information  or free products.

In order to help you keep track of these criteria as you do your research I have created a free worksheet for you. You can can download it by clicking here.

Notice that there is a column for the keyword you are researching, and one for each of the criteria listed above.

Now, let’s get started!

Step 1: Brainstorm

First, brainstorm a list of about 10 words and phrases that you think people will use to find information, products and service related to what you have to offer.

Remember that it’s important to list phrases, not just words. Nowadays people use phrases (also known as “long-tail-keywords”)  to find what they are looking for, not just single words — and single words are usually to broad and too difficult to rank for so really, when I say “keywords” I mostly mean keyword phrases. Let me give you an example:

Let’s say that you are a travel agent specializing in  “European Adventure Travel for Single Women.”  You may think that you optimize your website for the word “Travel”   However, by optimizing your website  for such a general  term you’ll be facing a lot of competition from local travel agents to  “the big boys” like Travelocity. You won’t stand a chance of getting on page one of search engine results for such a competitive term — and page one is where you need to be! Also, using “travel” as a keyword will bring you  all kinds of visitors to your website —  from people looking to go to Disneyland to people who want to go on an ocean cruise. They will not be your target customers of single women looking for adventure travel!

Therefore, you’d probably want to want to consider and research keyword phrases such as:

  • adventure travel for women
  • european adventure travel
  • travel groups for single women

Also, if you are a local business that includes local customers, remember to include local search terms in your research – these are names of local areas that you serve. After all, if you are a housepainter, you need customers in your local area — not across the globe! Plus —  it’s much easier to rank for “house painter thornhill” than it is for the term “housepainter.”

Two more tips to improve your brainstormed list of keyword phrases:

1)  Ask your friends, families and customers the following:  If they wanted to find your website, but they didn’t know the name of your business, what words would they type into google to find it?  Sometimes other people can provide surprising  insights into the mind of your target customer.

2) If you currently have a website, with an analytics program,  you could look at the traffic data from your current website for keyword ideas.  If you haven’t optimized your website for anything, and yet you are already getting some search engine traffic, imagine how much more you can get if you create a page or post and optimize it specifically for the phrase that is already brining in traffic.

So now we have a list of the search terms that we think people use to find our website. Now I will show you how to determine if the keywords meet the criteria that I listed above.

Step 2: Check for Competition

The first thing we are going to do is check on our competition for that keyword.  Go directly to the regular google search at google.com. Do not pass go, do not collect 200.  (Sorry. I couldn’t resist….)

Put in your search term at google.com and hit enter. You don’t need to look at  the actual search results — just look under the search box at the number of results that comes up —

 

That number is a good indicator of your competition for the keywords that you just typed in! Now, of the ones that came up, only a handful may be actually  “strong competition” but  analyzing the strength of your competitors is beyond the scope of this blog post. For now, use the general rule-of-thumb that if the number of search results  is 500,000 or less, that is a word that will be relatively easy to rank for. Generally speaking, the higher the number of search results, the harder it will be to rank on page one for the search results for that term.

To complete this step,  make a note of that number of search results in the competition column and note if it is low, medium or high.  Now we’re going to go to another website.

 Step 3: Enter Your Words at the Google Adwords Keyword Tool 

Go To https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Put your search term in the box pictured below.  Click “exact match” in the left hand column and change the country by clicking “Advanced Options an Filters” if needed. Then click on the search button.

 

Your results will look like this:

 

 

Step 4: Evaluate Your Results.

  1. Keyword Variations – The first thing you’ll see is a long list of keyword phrases. Take a good look at that list and see if it sparks any ideas for other keyword phrases that you had not considered in your initial list.  If so, simply make a note of the additional phrases you would like to research when you are done with your initial list.
  2. Commercial Intent – While looking over the keyword variations, be sure to note if the keywords show that the searchers are seeking infomation, free items, or are looking to make a purchase. For example, search terms that include the terms “how-to” or “tips” might have high search volume and low competition, but they are probably people being used by who are looking to solve a problem themselves — not buy a gadget or hire a service provider to solve the issue for them. These terms may be helpful on your supporting pages or on your blog, but generally do not belong on your main sales pages.

On the other hand, if you see keyword phrases that include the words “best, review, coupon” etc — that that shows that these searchers are probably looking to make a purchase. You’ll want to evaluate these terms closely.

  1. Global/Local Search Volume – Next you’ll want to evaluate the search volume for your term. Global searches refers to international searches. Local searches refers to searches within the country that you selected.  Remember, you want the search volume to be “significant” – but “significant” is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a local service provider – 300 local searches/month on a term such as “Toronto Plumbers”  may be enough for you to choose that keyword (especially if the competition for your search term is low).  This is where keyword research becomes both an art and a science. The numbers can only take you so far — you have to use your brain and your gut. But the great news is that you can try something, track your results and change your strategy if it isn’t working.
  2. Competition – While where here take a look at the shaded boxes in the column marked “competition.” That column displays competiton for the keyword in the paid adwords section of the search results. In other words, it is an indicator of competition, but not for the organic search listings. Still, the information is valuable. You want the word to have some competiton, because if it didn’t, then it’s probably not a valuable keyword. However, but more shaded the box, the tougher it will probably be to rank for even in the organic search results. So consider this one indicator of competition, and the that you got from the direct google search another indicator of competiton.

Congratulations! After completing this process several times, for several keyword phrases, and filling out the worksheet I provided (or your own spreadsheet)  you will probably  be  have eliminated many useless keywords  and probably found several that you hadn’t considered before.

Now, I want to point out that this is just one way to do keyword research. Most professionals just use it as a starting point.  There are many other ways to do it and a few other tools I use that give me more detailed and sophisticated data — but I chose this one to write about  because it is relatively simple, it’s free, and it’s pretty reliable.  If you have to do your own keyword research,  and you at least do this you’ll be ahead of most other small business owners.

Now all that’s left is to put your keywords in the right places on your website. In the copy and code. I’ll cover that in another blog post won’t go into much detail here but you need to actually USE the keyword phrases in your content for the research to accomplish anything.

Make sure you use your keyword phrases in the Title, Description, Headings, Alt Text, etc. When possible, link from other pages/posts to the new page or post using the keyword phrase. This is called internal linking.  You’ll also want to get external links from websites other than yours. The external links need to appear natural to search engines so don’t obsess over all of the links having the same phrase.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat

Things change over time so conduct keyword research periodically to make sure you are still targeting the best keyword phrases.

Additional Resources 

What are keyword matching options? (More info about Broad, Phrase, Exact, Negative)
http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=6100

Advanced tips for using the Keyword Tool
https://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=64886

A series with more information on how to determine local keywords:

http://www.expand2web.com/blog/10-steps-to-select-local-keywords-optimize-a-local-website/

How to Use Google Trends and Google Insights for More In-Depth Informationhttp://www.seotraining.org.uk/blog/geographic-market-research-google-tools

Need More Help With Keyword Research?

If this blog post made your eyes glaze over, and you want someone to do more in-depth keyword research for you,  then let The E-Marketing Maven’s Dream Team of internet marketing professionals help you determine the best keywords to use on your website,  social media accounts, and in all of your online marketing efforts. Click here to contact The Maven. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design Your Website Right: Six Components of Creating A Relationship With Your Website Visitors

In my last blog post I demonstrated the importance of designing your website in a way that will foster a relationship between you and your potential customer.   In this post, I will review what I see as the six main components of building relationships online.  This list can help guide your website design, or any online marketing campaign.

If you want to create a relationship with members of your target market, your online presence must incorporate the following six components.

  • Credibility — First and foremost, you’ve got to build credibility.  Everyone knows that anyone can write anything on the web. Therefore, your visitors will often want to know that you’re credible before they make a purchase from you.
  • Clarity — To create a relationship with your target customers, you website should clearly address the needs, desires and fears of that specific group that you have identified as your target customer.
  • Respect –  Respectful communication is foundational to any relationship, in life and online.  You show respect online by always asking permission before advancing in the next step in the sales process.
  • Consistency — I think a common mistake that I see business owners make is that they think that online marketing is like traditional marketing in that put an ad in the paper and hope for the best…and they don’t think about it much until it’s time to pay for the next ad…but online marketing is different. You need some consistency to maintain that relationship.  You need to be adding quality content to your website to showcase your expertise, you need  be sending useful information (not just sales pitches) to the member of your email list, you need to be engaging in social media on a regular basis in order to succeed with your online marketing efforts and make more sales.

In other words, you need to be in front of your target audience consistently, clearly addressing the needs of your target market and showcasing expertise, in a respectful  way in order to gain the credibility you need to make the sale.

But I’m not done yet…

Now, I gotta admit, when I wrote this list I really liked it…but I felt that something was missing.  Then, it came to me. What is missing is “humanity.”   People online want to know that you are human. Now, I’m not necessarily saying post pictures of your kids or your cat online, but if you’ve made a mistake and you learned from it — own up to that. (Just like the CEO of Netflix did recently)  If you see something happen in your life and you also learned something about your business from it, go ahead and share that too.  And the occasional, discreet personal disclosure isn’t so terrible either. People want to know that there is a human being behind the computer and behind your business. That’s what the rapid growth social media is all about — and the other components of selling online should reflect that too.

These are, to me, the main components of building online relationships.  I think that this list can serve as a useful guide when creating a website, or any online marketing campaign.

Did I miss any? If so, please let me know by leaving a comment.

In the next blog post, I’ll show you how people see your website. (Prepare to be surprised!)

Design Your Website Right: First Understand Why People Come Online

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Most businesses have a pretty online brochure that does not help their business get new customers. If you want to create a direct response website (i.e. a website that is design to convert visitors into leads and sales) you’ve got to go beyond the technology, and understand the psychology of website design.

You have to understand the psychology of website design because it is extremely rare that people will find a website and make a purchase immediately.  Therefore, in order to create a website that will lead to a sale, you must seek to build a relationship with your visitors.

In order to build a relationship with your visitors, it is helpful to keep in mind why people go online in the first place. You’ll see why this information is so important in a minute…

First, here are six reasons why people go online:

  • Search for information – I think we can all agree that people often come online to search for information.
  • Solutions to Problems – Granted this is another kind of “information” that people are seeking, but this kind of “information seeking” is important to you because this is one major way you can position yourself online. You can (and probably should) position your product or service as a solution to a problem.
  • Connect  – People don’t just look for information and solutions, they also come online to connect with and socialize with others who share their interest and values. That’s what the rapid growth of social media is all about. So start thinking about ways that your website can connect with your customer….
  • Research purchases – It’s common knowledge (which I can back up with facts and figures) that more and more people are going online to research purchases, even when they are going to buy the items locally.
  • Order items –  Sometimes, items can’t be found locally, so people go online to order products.
  • Entertainment – People go online to be entertained — some use the internet to watch TV shows they have missed, but many also go to YouTube to be entertained.

As you can see from this list — people go online many different reasons — and only one of those reasons is to buy something.  ANd THAT is why it is so important to focus on building relationships.

If people aren’t coming online specifically to purchase from you, then you’ve got to  show them why they should buy from you. But even if you do tell them why they should buy from you, the sale usually  does not get made instantly —  because people can click away in the blink of an eye.  So in order to really succeed in selling online — you need to learn to give people what they are looking for — information, solutions to problems, connection, entertainment – and build a relationship with them that will lead to a sale.

So how do you design your website to build a relationship that will lead to a sale? I’ll answer that question in my next blog post.

But first, I’m curious, do agree that it’s important to understand why people come online when designing a website? Did I leave out any reasons that you can think of? Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Want To Understand the New Facebook Changes and What They Mean For Your Small Business? Here are some articles that explain what you need to know.

The Maven is in a rush today…

Getting ready for Rosh Hashana (Shana Tova to all of my fellow Members-Of-The Tribe out there!)

But before I sign off for the holiday, I wanted to make sure that you had all of the resources you need to understand the new changes to Facebook and how to use them to promote your small Business. Here are links to articles that will give you all of the information and tips you need to know!

Five Facebook Changes and What You Need To Know

This Is how the Facebook Timeline Will Look. Say Goodbye to Your Profile.

How To Best Use Facebook’s New Smart List and Special Friend List

How to Send A Direct Message To Your Facebook Fans

Facebook Nuked the “Like” Button, Now What?

Are these articles helpful? Do you have any you would add to this list. Please leave a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are keywords and why are they critical for your small business’ website &(and everything else that you do online to promote your business)?

 This blog post is part of the “What and Why” Series. You can learn more about the What and Why Series by clicking here. 

In my last post, I explained what a Direct Response Website is and why it is important for your small business.  I also told you that in  each of my next blog posts I would explain five essential elements of a  Direct Response Website.

You may be surprised to see that, according to The Maven,  the first element of designing  a Direct Response Website has nothing to do with graphic design. Actually, it is more related to search engine optimization.  The first essential element of designing a Direct Response Website is to make sure that you know the right keywords to use, and put them in the right places on your website.

Keywords are the words that people type into the search box in a search engine. Yes, they are simple little things — but using the right ones, in the right way, can have a huge impact on your business.

Remember — words sell, pictures don’t. The images on your site should support your words, not the other way around. So it’s best to pick your keywords first, the write the copy around your keywords.

After all, as soon as you’re done designing your website, you’re going to want people to find it…and not just any “people”  — you want your target customer to find your website.  In other words, you want people who are interested in what you have to sell to find your website when they search on the internet for information, products, and services related to what you have to offer.

In order to have any chance of the people who are interested in what you have to sell finding your website when they use a search engine, your site must include the words that your target customers will type into the search engine to find information, products and services related to your business — and those keywords must be in the right places on your website.

Now doesn’t make the most sense figure out the words that your target customer will put into the search engines to find information, products and services related to what you have to offer — and put them into the right places on your website, as you build your site — rather than waiting till the website is done and then having to “backtrack” and modify the site?

Well, The Maven certainly thinks it so! But surprisingly, many website designers don’t agree!

I frequently meet small business owners who have had a website designed by a graphic artist and then then are told to “go have it optimized.”   Then business owners  are upset  when they realize the extra time, money, and effort it will take to perform keyword research and integrate their keywords into their website. (Has this happened to you? If so, please share your experience in the comments below!) Sometimes clients get even more frustrated when the keyword research that I perform reveals important insights into their target customer that if they had known, they would have integrated into the their website and other marketing campaigns.

Keywords are the cornerstone of everything you do online, from creating your website to  blogging to using social media. Every aspect of marketing your business on the internet should be built around your keywords. Therefore, in order to save time, money, and heartache down-the-road, I recommend that you take the time to do keyword research  before you create your website or do anything else online to promote your business.

So, to sum up, the first step in designing a website that help your business get new customers is not actually related to graphic design at all.  The first step is to determine the (key)words that your target customers enter into the search engines to find information, products, and services specifically related to your business.  Armed with that knowledge, you can move forward and design a website that will be extremely effective at more leads and sales for your small business.

Do you agree?

Have you had a website designed and then was upset when you realized the extra time, money and effort it would take to have it optimized? It seems to happen to my clients all the time! Please share your experience in the comments below!

Want To Learn More? 

Then be sure to come back! In the next post The Maven will show you a simple method for finding the best keywords to use on your website.

What is a Direct Response Website and Why Is It Important For Your Business?

This is the first official blog post of The What and Why Series. You can learn more about The What And Why Series by clicking  here.

Everyday I meet small  business owners who have nice-looking websites, and even get lots of visitors, but do not generate business from their site. Their website is just another expense, when it should be an asset for their company!

In fact,  one entrepreneur recently said to me, “I don’t get it. I’m number one in google for good keywords, and my phone should be ringing-off-the-hook, but it’s not! I rarely get a phone call from someone who has been to my website and I can’t afford traditional marketing like newspaper ads! Can you help me figure out what’s wrong? ”

I suspected that I knew the cause of her problem, and one look at her  website confirmed it.  While her site looked attractive and provided adequate information about the business, it was basically an online brochure. It was not set up to encourage visitors to take any action, like to make a call, for example. Her site was not designed to begin a relationship with a prospect, generate leads, or make sales.

A Direct Response Website is a site that is designed to get a targeted group of people to take a specific action(s) with the ultimate goal of generating a lead or a sale. These specific actions can include: calling a phone number, filling out a form, signing up for email, printing out a coupon, engaging in online chat and / or making a purchase.

A Direct Response Website can certainly be attractive and reflect your branding, but  (prepare to be shocked!) it doesn’t even have to look good help put money in your pocket. Even a simple, basic, (dare I say it — “ugly”)  website can be more effective at generating leads and sales than a fancy, beautiful one, if the site is  set up according to the principles of Direct Response website design.

Creating a Direct Response Website, or tweaking your current website to incorporate some of the tools and principles of Direct Response Design is critical to your business for several reasons.  If your website doesn’t  “do it’s job” of generating leads and sales then:

  1. As I said above, it is an expense, not an asset for your company.
  2. You will have to spend more money on traditional advertising to try to attract new customers.
  3. Even if you do spend more money on traditional advertising to get new customers, they will likely look at your website before they decide to call you, come into your store or place an order, so you want your website to encourage them to take action right away!
  4. If you invest time and money in using social media to attract new business, your efforts will likewise be undermined by having an old-fashioned, ineffective, brochure-style website. After finding you on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, people will go to your website to “check you out.”  If your website isn’t set up to generate leads or sales sell, you’ll simply miss out on a lot new business.

Need I say more?

Well, yes, in fact, I must say more…

I’m not going to just tell you about what a Direct Response Website is and why it is important…and leave you hanging…

That would make me a very mean Maven…and “mean” is not my style!

I imagine that, at this point, you want to know how to design a Direct Response Website, or how to tweak your current website to include Direct Response tools and principles.  So below  I will  list  the five essential elements of a Direct Response Website and I will describe each element in greater depth, in the upcoming posts in the “What and Why” Series.

5 Essential Elements of a Direct Response Website Are:

  • Well Researched Keywords In The Right Places
  • Concise, “Emotional,” Action-Focused Copywriting
  • Simple Design & Natural Navigation
  • A “Call-To-Action” On Every Page (but not too many!)
  • A Lead-Capture Mechanism With An “Ethical Bribe”
  • A Blog (Yes. I said it and I mean it! Your company’s website needs a blog. Period.)

That’s all for now. As I said above, I will cover each of these elements of  Direct Response Websites in future blog posts…so stay tuned! Or, if you just can’t wait, and you need help designed a Direct Response Website right now, then contact me here. I have several affordable options to help get your phone ringin’ and your door swingin’!)