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Many of our clients fall into one of three categories – independent agents, entrepreneurs/start-ups, or established small businesses. These clients are looking to cost-effectively grow their revenue. Key concerns like cash flow and time constraints must be kept high on the priority list. The question everyone wants to have answered: How can I retain customers and attract new ones without breaking the bank? The answer is… different for each business. Variables like target demographic, types of products and services offered, and level of industry competition should affect the multi-channel marketing strategy developed to engage customers. However, the be-all, end-all ABSOLUTE necessity in the Digital Age is to have a clean, professional-looking, easily-accessible and navigable Website.

The vast majority of small business customers first research their options online before ever making contact with that small business – be it an online inquiry, phone order, or in-person visit to a brick-and-mortar shop. What does that mean for you? If you don’t have a Website or appear dated with what you currently have, you could be missing out on new customers.  Worse yet, you could be losing ones you already have to the competition who have stepped up their online game. To make it easier for you, concentrate on these ‘Top 5’ tips to get you off the ground and running. From our experience, these have proven to be the most beneficial and rewarding to our clients. After you give them a try, let us know what you think!

1. CONTENT IS KING

Having current, relevant content – be that imagery, text, video, etc – that is engaging, actionable, and impactful for your target audience is crucial. This is what not only sparks interest in your brand, but keeps site visitors on the hook to learn more from the information and resources you provide. This can be an extension of your narrative that humanizes your brand, tutorials discussing subjects where you are an expert/authority on the matter, or testimonials that showcase the problems you’ve solved for your customers. The possibilities are endless as to what TYPE of content you create, but the point here is – KEEP CREATING IT.

In order to keep your site fresh with new and interesting material, we STRONGLY recommend the use of a content management system. When dollars are a concern and cost-savings are essential, these platforms are the best alternative. Options like WordPress or Wix make it easy for clients to regularly update the content of their sites themselves. Once the site is constructed, often with the assistance of a creative agency or Web design partner, the heavy lifting is done.  Your next step is to learn the nuances of your theme and plug-ins. These platforms go the extra mile to make this a very user-friendly time-contentious process. After that point, updating becomes turn-key. All you have to do is plug in to get those updates up and out. 2. NAVIGATION: KEEP IT SIMPLE

Don’t have such a complicated Website that your visitors are going to need GPS to find out how to get where they want to go! Make it as easy for them as possible. Users are most familiar with navigation bars on the top of the page that read from left to right. They’ll know what to expect if you follow that tip in your site construction. It’s also important to avoid extraneous pages. You don’t want to clutter your nav with a bunch of tightly packed tabs (labels for each page). As a rule of thumb, it is best to have more content rich pages than it is to have a ton of pages with little content.

Most importantly, always construct your site from the perspective of the user. Pretend you know nothing about your business. Does the way you have your navigation structured allow someone to easily get to the information that answers questions about your products and services? If you’re having a hard time being objective, it never hurts to pull in a third party as a second set of eyes. After all, two heads are better than one.

3. HAVE A BLOG

No one knows the ins-and outs of your business quite like you do. Take the time, a least once a month, to jot down some key learnings or valuable insights that you can share with your customers. You can use a blog to further the narrative of your brand, keeping people interested in what makes your story unique. You could answer frequently asked questions or even describe a recent experience as a ‘case study’ and offer tips from which your customers could improve their own lives. You could review some recent research or provide your take on current events.

Having a blog allows you to develop and offer content that will help in optimizing your search engine results, which is one of its top benefits. In addition, you signal to your prospects and customers that you’re doing a lot of the leg work for them. You’re current. You’re providing helpful assertions. You’re sharing experiences. This all lends to your professional credibility and inspires customer loyalty. Don’t forget! You don’t have to just sit down and WRITE. Content can come in the form of imagery and video as well, so include visuals like photography, illustrations, animations, or infographics to keep your visitors engaged and coming back for more.

 

4. SOCIALIZE!

Your customers aren’t just searching on Google to learn about the products and services they need. They’re often on at least 2 or more social media channels daily, multiple times a day. Why miss an opportunity to meet them where they are? If you’re following the steps above, then you’re creating content for your site. Don’t miss an opportunity by ONLY letting those materials live on you URL. Use social media outlets like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Pintrest to showcase that content and drive traffic to your Website.

By using social media outlets, you’re showing your customers that you’re current, care about their preferences for learning/engagement, and connecting with them on a more personal level. Just remember not to fall into the ‘Strong-Arm’ trap for online marketing. You don’t want to beat your prospects and customers over the head with ‘hard sells’ and incentives. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, you’re providing education, resources, and insights. 20% of the time, you’re promoting your business itself. Following this tactic will encourage trust and lengthen the relationship you’re building with your customers. You’re not just building for today, but you’re laying the groundwork for the future. Last but not least, don’t forget to link your social badges on your Website! Make it easy for your customers who get to your page to follow you wherever they may go.

5. WHAT VALUE DO YOU PROVIDE? SPELL IT OUT!

Why should someone work with you? Don’t make your potential customers sift through pages of your site to find out why. (Spoiler Alert: If site visitors aren’t able to interpret the value you bring to them within the first 30 seconds or less, chances are, they aren’t going to spend additional time searching for it.) Have your business’ value proposition listed front-and-center on your site’s homepage. To use an old print term, have that statement listed ‘above the fold’. In a digital sense, that would mean that it is visible without requiring the user to scroll down to find it. Rotating in images with overlaid text at the top of your page can help accomplish this, while also drawing the eye.

Be sure to be succinct and direct when crafting and displaying your value proposition. Make sure it’s legible in whatever font you choose, across multiple screens. This should go without saying in today’s world, but as your last bit of advice, make sure your site renders properly across mobile devices! You’ll want to make sure your value proposition is positioned to appear at the very top of the screen no matter how a customer visits your site.

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