Marketing Podcast – Joshua Adams on the Robert Plank Show

Our Head Honcho recently recorded a marketing Podcast! Joshua is the 195th Feature on the Robert Plank Show, and is now a resource on Plank’s marketing-centric online hub for business success seekers.

The podcast discusses Rock Paper Simple’s 7 Steps to a Marketing-Focused Website, and Joshua’s candor helps break it down into plain english- so you can immediately start implementing strategy and seeing results.

Give it a listen, and follow along with this fun printable graphic!

 

Head Honcho Speaks at Media Magic Intensive

Joshua was one of the mentors and speakers at the Media Magic Intensive this past Saturday and his topic was Making Your Website Marketing-Focused (surprise surprise!). The video below is a snippet from his 45-minute session. With those 45 minutes he crunched in the 7 Steps To Building a Marketing Focused Website presentation, which is typically 1.5 hours (no wonder he is talking so fast!), added some worksheets, and gave the attendees points they could walk away with to apply to their websites right away. Take a look!

Psst! At 2:20, Shannon Gronich spins the camera around… so careful, don’t get too dizzy!

Want to hear Joshua speak? Keep an eye out at one of the upcoming Business Acceleration Summit events, or join us at one of our brand new Digital Refreshments Series events. The first one is scheduled for January!

 

 

Loud and Clear- 3 Quick Tips for Uploading Quality Images

In a world of Yelp reviews, Facebook advertising, and 140-character tweets, your online presence has really become your storefront. The online adaptation of business and marketing means that image size and quality are now even more important to your success. While we would all like to believe that consumers don’t judge a book by its cover, outward appearances do matter – whether it’s the sign out on Main Street or your header photo on Twitter.

Have you ever uploaded a crystal clear photo to Facebook only to be disappointed in the fuzzy edges it produces in your image? Whether managing your own page or landing on another’s, there’s nothing more off-putting than poorly sized images and blurry text. Keeping your social media presence consistent and professional is important, even down to the last pixel.

Here are three quick tips to solve the conundrum of poor-quality online images!

 

Ditch Your JPEG for PNG

While JPEGs and PNGs are both standard image file formats, they make a world of difference when it comes to Facebook. JPEGs have what’s known as “lossy” compression, while PNGs are considered “lossless.” In simple terms: JPEGS are more compressed and lose their quality, while PNGs are only compressed when uploaded to sites such as Facebook. So next time you upload a new cover or header photo, opt for a PNG and eliminate those fuzzy edges.

Know Your Dimensions

Each social networking site is different, and it’s important to know what dimensions your photo should be. For example, a Facebook cover photo is 851×315 pixels, while a Twitter header photo is 1,500×421 pixels. Knowing this and sizing your image accordingly will help to produce the best results. Want to know more dimensions? Check out the 2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet.

 Stay True to Your Brand

Don’t have brand guidelines?  Maybe it’s time to start developing some. It’s not only important to upload your photo in the correct format, but to also ensure that you’re giving your logo the respect it deserves on the image. This means: don’t distort it to make it fit, cover any part of it with other art, place it on a busy background, or stray from your brand guidelines in any other way. Be consistent and meticulous with your logo across all platforms and you’ll ensure success in displaying it.

 

Want to better understand online imaging or create your brand guidelines? Click here to connect with our team.

 

5 Call-to-Action Examples That Are Rockin’ It Right Now

Call to Actions can be a simple button placed after some text, or they can be a more elaborately designed button that stands alone. You have them sprinkled into social media posts and they’ve been written into your content, but are your CTAs the best they can be? If you aren’t seeing a whole lot of conversion from your current strategies, take a look at these Call to Action examples that we think have great technique.

The Balancing Act:

Check out Spotify’s homepage. They have two Call to Action Buttons because they’re targeting two different types of listener, and they’re a great example of why simple often prevails over flashy, especially when you have more than one CTA. While the pink and purple colors of their site definitely catch our attention first (what happened to the green?!), the contrasting and bold white text is really what dominates our focus. Their design works because they kept text to a minimum, they showcase their product through a subtle background of playlist cover art, and their CTAs are highly visible to both types of listeners which maximizes their opportunity for new sign-ups. Spotify made a great decision to have their Call to Actions side by side with only a slight difference between them; the darker hue that backs “Get Spotify Free” almost blends in at first glance, bringing our attention first to the button they’d prefer us to choose- “Get Spotify Premium.”

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Being Socially Savvy:

Implementing good strategy by utilizing Ad opportunities on any social media platform will help boost your business. With the right verbiage, imagery, and intent, you can connect with your target audience and start to build a customer relationship that leads to conversion. Currently there are now many options to choose from across a variety of platforms, but the most popular option has become the Ads that appear integrated into user “Home” feeds. Advertising on Social Media lets you briefly showcase the highlights of your business or brand identity, and by using amazing graphics, offering sneak peaks, and bringing quality content to followers, you can lead potential clients to your website (and convert ‘em!). So if your marketing goals are to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your site, or expand target reach and grow your customer base, then social media CTAs are for you. Here’s a fine example of a CTA on a feed-style Ad from NatureBox on Facebook:

Surprising Humor:

This pop-up from Good Housekeeping abruptly stops us from reading whatever article we clicked on by taking up the entire browser window, but the bright colors and fun language keep us from getting too frustrated. Through clever verbiage, simple design, and bright colors, this refreshing pop-up effectively gains email subscriptions because it has us admitting that we could use a little help keeping things clean around here. Even if you aren’t interested in giving GH your email address now, the lighthearted jest of the exit link appeals to clean freaks and reluctant scrubbers alike, and encourages them to click through the site and read other articles- and thus gaining followers.

 

Embracing Window Shoppers:

Prezi has a very minimal homepage with a lot of whitespace surrounding their text and Call to Actions, which draws a visitor’s attention to the video banner and colored CTA buttons. Similar to Spotify, Prezi balances two main CTAs side by side (for individuals vs. business), however underneath those there’s a CTA that draws even more attention. Prezi encourages visitors to “See the Science,” embracing the fact that most people want evidence of success before they invest in something. The iconography and colors that are used draws our eyes down the page, and they pave the way for even more visual aids on the linked page. This CTA clearly illustrates that Prezi has research relating to the effectiveness of their product and that they want to share it with us. This refreshing Call to Action method encourages people to make an informed decision by learning something before they sign up, and “See the Science” is definitely a unique take on the traditional About page.screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-12-03-40-pm

The Doorstop:

The final plea to users, an exit CTA is a pop-up window that most websites set to appear around the average exit time of that page. These CTAs traditionally offer a discount or incentive, and then provide two options- stay or go. They can sometimes be seen as a nuisance, but if designed correctly, doorstops can be a very effective method for keeping users on-site, capturing leads, and getting visitors to convert to buyers. Take a look at this example from Copyhackers. The colors are positive, the layout is clean, and the language is relaxed. Instead of expressing urgency, the tone of this exit CTA says “Hey, your stuff is probably already great but before you go, here’s an opportunity to be even better at what you do…do you want this resource?” It uses buzzwords like share, success, and steps, which leads us into thinking, “Hmm, maybe I want to at least skim through this ebook after all.”

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Call to Actions are a super important part of marketing strategy, and hopefully you’ve already incorporated some that are working for you. We just wanted to give you guys a bit of reference for CTA techniques that are working really well right now for these businesses, to help you get the creative juices following for your next site upgrade or campaign push. It’s always a good idea to collect examples of website features, CTAs, or other digital marketing aspects that inspire you to make changes for your business. This way we can help you make those adjustments and strategize with you on how to meet your new goals!

Psst.. You Should Clear Your Facebook Cache!

Chances are you have a Facebook account and you share content on there consistently. It’s probably why you’re reading this blog (your curiosity got the best of you!). Anyway, thanks to Facebook we can share updates with our fans in a matter of seconds, but have you ever noticed there are times the picture is missing when you share a Web URL? Or the previous title or image is being pulled instead of the latest?

The reason why this happens is because Facebook caches (aka stores data) already shared URLs and pages. It’s easier for Facebook to go look at the cached information stored on their server rather than go to your awesome website and fetch the updated title or picture. This technically speeds up their process, but if the cache isn’t updated, it may cause an issue for you.

Why does Facebook cache information?

When you share a link back to your webpage or another page on the Internet, Facebook downloads the content and uploads it for their users to view. Once a website is shared, Facebook stores a temporary file on its server to save time and resources and eliminates the need to re-download the information.

For example, say you shared the link to your home page a month ago, and since then the home page was updated with new pictures. Facebook will likely pull the previous data since that is what’s being stored rather than the new data. A fan clicking on the shared link won’t see the right content and/or picture because the Facebook cache hasn’t been cleared.

How do I clear my Facebook post’s cache?

Facebook created a tool called Debugger that can be used for any URL. It depicts what will be shown when the link is shared and will automatically update it with the latest title, description, and photo with the click of a button.

Here is the step-by-step process on how to clear your Facebook’s cache:

• Go to Facebook.com and login.
• Access the Debugger tool here.
• Enter a URL and click “Debug.”
• Go back to your Facebook page, type in your content with the updated link to view the updated information.

It’s as simple as that! For more tips on how to make your website and digital marketing awesome, check out some other posts- like this one!

Be true to your brand

brand identityYour brand is one of your single most valuable business assets. It embodies everything that your company is and how your prospects, clients, customers, peers and even your competition views you. Some brands are even worth more than the companies they are attached to!

How you present your message and even your message content itself has a large bearing on your brand. Before you delve into marketing yourself, you should have a solid idea of who you are, what you stand for, what makes you different and who you serve. Without a strong identity, it is difficult to gain the attention and respect of a fast-paced business and consumer world. You have to stand out, be unique and different, if you want to be noticed.

When we work with our clients, before we start developing their website, we ask them about their brand and how they want to present themselves. We ask for existing collateral and any messaging they currently have so we can determine the best way to present their message online. We need to understand what their voice sounds like, and what their brand personality is like because that will affect how we present their content and messaging on their website.

If one of our clients had a loud, fun and humorous brand, how terrible would it be if the website did not show any of that? It might look great, clean and professional, but if it lacks their personality and the key elements that they use to connect with their target demographic, then the website will fail to produce results for them. Likewise, if their brand is designed to be very corporate and straight-laced, and we design a loud and fun website, we are likely to scare away their target clients.

With a background in marketing (I owned a marketing agency for several years), I look at websites differently than most “web guys”. I look at it as an asset and an investment in marketing for a business. It should reflect the company messaging, have a purpose and create results for my client. This is why we are so focused on creating a website with clear call to actions, solid lead capture methods and accurate brand representation.

Now, the call to actions and lead capture topics are for another day (and I’ve blogged about them before)… but today I really want to chat about branding and how incredibly important it is to be true to your brand in all of your marketing, including your website.

 

Know your brand.

know-your-brandSo, let’s chat about your brand. Have you clearly identified your brand and personality? Have you defined a world view and how the brand reacts and presents itself? Have you defined a target demographic? Have you defined what sets your business apart? If not… do it! You will be doing yourself a huge favor and giving your business a more solid foundation. It is so much easier to market something that is clearly defined and organized. If you KNOW who you are, it is a piece of cake to market yourself. A well-defined brand is a marketer’s dream!

Once you know your brand, you will be able to ensure that all of your messaging, marketing and advertising has a cohesive message… and you will find the response to your marketing is much better.

If you haven’t got that part figured out and need help, find a professional that can help guide you. Look for one that has proven success with their own businesses or others and one that “gets you”. If you need a recommendation, shoot an email off to us, we know plenty of awesome branding and marketing people.

 

Be true to your brand.

Stay True to Your BrandGreat! You have your brand together and are ready to get online. Now be true to that brand! The website should look, feel and read in a way that conveys your brand, your benefits, your uniqueness. If you want people to take note, you have to prove to them that you are noteworthy. If you want people to begin to identify with you and your brand, you have to be consistent.

I’ve seen great brands with owners who are incredibly personable and fun to be around, with super boring websites that just do not do them justice.  On the other hand, I’ve seen very serious brands with websites or marketing that is loud or fun and simply does not represent them properly. If you are fun… show it! If you are serious… show it! Whatever your brand is… whatever your message is, make sure that in all of your marketing, you continue to be consistent and clear with it.

 

Don’t be afraid to scare people away.
Shout out your message!

Get Your Message OutNow here is the important part. If you take NOTHING else home with you after reading this… take this. You WILL irritate people, you WILL scare people off and you WILL rub people the wrong way if you are doing it right. Your brand and likewise, your website, should not be “all things to all people”. It should be hyper-targeted to your target demographic; to the people you want to sell to. Stop trying to make everyone happy and focus on making your ideal prospects super happy!

Would you prefer to have everyone visiting your website think your brand and website is nice and professional or would you prefer to maybe scare some away, but create fanatical buyers from the rest?! Make sense? Now, I’m not saying to be rude or crazy (unless that’s your brand, haha!). I’m just saying that you need to stand for something with your brand and you need to create something for people to identify with.

 

Here’s an example.

Rock Paper SimpleCase in point. In the past, I owned a company that was straight-laced. We were incredibly professional, clean and… well… boring (which is nothing like me: I’m loud, goofy and energetic). Our website was all about us, it talked about our services and we generally presented ourselves in a dry fashion that didn’t really speak to anyone. Now… we didn’t scare anyone away, but we didn’t create fans or people that were passionate or excited about our brand either. We didn’t talk about what was in it for our prospect and we didn’t identify to anyone.

When I founded Rock Paper Simple, on the other hand, I determined that it was going to have a very distinct brand and personality. It was going to be fun, humorous and focused on creating results for our clients. The brand is energetic and loud and and fun loving. All of our messaging reflects it. From our energetic copy and call to actions, to the scattered jokes in the copy, to the funny titles we have (my title is “head honcho”) to the way we write our blog posts… we are all about being real with people.

Now there are some people that really don’t like that and will never do business with us. That’s cool and I’m ok with that. Ya’know why? Because there are plenty of people out there who come across our website, our branding, one of my speaking engagements or even just someone I meet on a plane that LOVE our brand and LOVE the way we present ourselves. And when you get prospects and clients to identify with your brand like that, you sell more, get more referrals and have more happy clients.

 

So… be true to your brand.

Let that personality shine through and make sure your website conveys that messaging. Maybe it’s the way the headlines are presented… maybe it’s the way the call to actions are worded or maybe it is the type of images you use. It doesn’t matter the technique… just make sure that your unique message comes across.

Take a look at your website. Is it true to your brand?

Great website lead capture methods to turn your traffic into sales!

Lead Capture Methods

So what is “lead capture” anyways?

It’s the bulls-eye of your website! In almost every case, if your website is generating leads, it’s doing it’s job!

The whole purpose behind any method of website lead capture is to capture a prospect’s information in some form or another. This could be a sales lead in which they are asking about your services, it could be their email address so that you can continue to market to them, a social follow so they can remain exposed to your marketing or any other form of lead or connection. It is pretty common for websites to just provide information, but no real lead capture opportunities. Without lead capture, how will we convert visitors into leads and more sales?! We won’t… and that is why lead capture is one of the key elements behind a results-focused website.

Think about it… warm leads from people already interested in what you have to offer sounds much better than cold-calling or bulk-mailing tons of people who might not even need what you have to sell, huh? You will hear it from any good internet marketer, the money is in your list. If you have a solid list of prospects to market to, you will make more money. Making great use of lead capture methods on your website will help convert traffic into leads.

 

Start with excellent content

You will need to make sure you start by creating excellent content for your website that presents the benefits of working with you and what you have to offer them. I have some great colleagues who are internet marketing coaches and one of the things they tell their clients is that the purpose of each line of copy is to get the reader to read the next line. It’s so true! Your content should guide the visitor through your page and ultimately end on some sort of lead capture.

[sws_pullquote_left] “Your content should guide the visitor through your page and ultimately end on some sort of lead capture.” [/sws_pullquote_left]

You need to write with your visitor in mind and get them excited so they WANT to take action with one of our website lead capture methods. Your content will be a key determining factor in if they find value in your offering and if they feel safe providing you with their information.

 

 

Now on to the fun part. Let’s chat about some of the actual lead capture methods you can use.

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#1. Contact forms

Contact Form ExampleA contact form is the most basic and most obvious of the lead capture methods. The visitor fills out a form which is then emailed to you. Pretty simple. These are normally found on the contact us page, page sidebars and even on the home page and are normally tied to something like a quote request or a free consultation.

This method is going to actually be expected by most visitors and people are used to seeing it, but at the same time it isn’t terribly attractive and does not create a lot of value or incentive. We use this method on our Contact Us page as a simple contact method should someone go directly to that page and as an option on some of our sales pages, however we use more advanced methods elsewhere on the site.

(psst… always avoid using the word “submit” on forms)

 

#2. Freebie form

This method is an evolution of the contact form. The reason it works so well is that it first creates an incentive and added-value to a visitor completing it before requesting their information. You are essentially saying “if you fill out this form, I will give you something for free in exchange”. The goal behind this is to create something of value that your visitor absolutely must have and that will incite them to give you their contact information for. This could be an eBook, report, whitepaper, audio, video or even a sampler kit you mail them. The freebie you choose should be something they see value in and will want enough to fill out your form.

The most common delivery method is to provide the form and setup an autoresponder that automatically emails the download link to the visitor who fills out the form. A thank you page for the form can also be setup for this purpose. I highly suggest using a third party system to capture the email and automate the sending of the email with a link to the freebie as well as a tool to be able to follow up with an email newsletter. Some of the better systems include InfusionSoft and 1ShoppingCart which provide form codes to embed on your website that will capture the email, add it to a list, send out autoresponders and ongoing email newsletters. You can also use Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, but they are more geared towards just sending newsletters and have less autoresponder options.

Again, keep it simple and only ask for the information you need. In most cases, for a freebie, you are only going to ask for a name and email and in the case you are mailing them something, a mailing address. You will notice we have a freebie form through-out our website on various pages. You can also find a page on our website dedicated to capturing leads through our freebie form. Click here to check it out.

 

#3. Schedule a call button

Schedule an Online Call Example

This is a great lead capture method (one of my favorites!) that places a button on your website, normally within your content or as a home page call to action that opens up a calender with available times for the visitor to choose from and schedule a phone call with you. This is powerful because it not only captures the lead, but you have more than just their contact information, you have a scheduled call! We use this method throughout our website and in fact you will find one at the bottom of this blog post.

Be sure to create value and incentive for them to take action. For example we offer a “free 30-minute consultation” and when they click on the button, they are taken to the scheduler to choose when they want to call us. We also tell them exactly what is going to happen to them on the button by including “click to open scheduler | no opt-in required”.

I highly recommend using a company called TimeTrade for this functionality. It is very affordable and provides you with the tools to setup the scheduler, customize it with your information, choose the time slots you want open, integrate it with your Google Calendar and provides you with the link to attach to your button on your website.

 

#4. RSS feed

RR Feed Signup ExampleAs funny as this is going to sound (we are not making this up, I promise!), the term RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. “Ok, cool, so it has a funny name, but, what is it”? Well, here’s the Simple version: It is a really easy way to send out content so programs and other websites can read it.

This makes it super easy for people to use RSS readers to pull in all the feeds from all the blogs, news sites and other websites they are interested in. WordPress websites automatically generate RSS feeds of your blog posts, so if you have a WordPress website you just need to know how to provide that link to your visitors so they can subscribe to it using their favorite reader.  By getting people to subscribe to your feed, it is almost as good as capturing their email for your newsletter because they regularly see your new content.

We use Feedburner to manage our feed since it provides additional options and statistics for us and should we ever change our blog URL, we can move our subscribers along with us instead of losing them. You will find that we provide an RSS button in our footer as well as at the bottom of our blog page and individual blog posts.

 

#5. Social media like or follow

Social Media Lock ExampleWhile a little more passive than some of the other methods providing ways for visitors to “like” your Facebook fan page or “follow” your Twitter account still exposes them to your ongoing marketing and provides a way for them to engage with you. This, of course, hinges on the assumption that you are posting regularly on your social media presences. Integrating a Facebook “like” button or a Twitter “follow” button is pretty simple and should be placed in positions that make sense to visitors. Communicate what the benefits are for them to connect with you so they know what to expect.

There are also tools and methods available to “lock” content until someone “likes” it or shares it in some fashion via social media channels. This advanced technique is very similar to the freebie above and in fact can be done in conjunction with a freebie. You promise your visitors additional content or a freebie in exchange for a social interaction.

For example, we have a landing page on our Facebook fan page that requires a “like” to download our freebie as incentive.

 

#6. Honorary Retro Mention: Newsletter Opt-in form

While still something that we use on some of our clients websites from time to time, it’s not something we use very often any more and I’ll explain why.

As another iteration of the contact form, the opt-in form requests the visitor provide their name and email (or just email) to be included on your email newsletter list. While nowhere near as effective as a freebie form, this will allow visitors who are interested in what you have to say to provide their contact information in exchange for it sent to them on a regular basis.

This method can work to garner some leads, but don’t expect hordes of people to give away their email addresses just to receive MORE email in their box each week. If you are going to be capturing emails for your newsletter, tie it into a freebie so you create more value. If you must place a newsletter capture form, place it in your footer or at the bottom of your blog posts. On some occasions when a client has a particularly valuable newsletter, it may be placed in the header.

 

When using any kind of lead capture method, keep these things in mind:

  • Keep it simple! Don’t ask for alot of information. Always ask for the absolute least amount of information you can. That means that if all you need is name and email, that’s all you ask for. Other common fields to include are the phone number and a field for their message. Beyond that, if you don’t need it to make contact, don’t ask for it. I’ve seen lots of forms that ask for tons of information such as address, gender, multiple service questions, etc. People are much more likely to fill out a form that asks for less things.
  • Tell people what to expect. Your visitors will always appreciate being told what is going to happen. What is next after they fill out the form? Will they get spammed? Will you email them? Will you call them? What is next? Use some pointed content to assure them what is coming. This could be something as simple as “Use the form below to request your FREE 30-minute consultation and we will call you within 24 hours”.
  • Make it look trustworthy. You are asking people to share personal contact information, make sure the form or button (and the whole site for that matter) looks like they can trust it. That means spend a little time making sure it is easy to read, text is lined up properly and everything is spaced out appropriately.

 

 

So, now what are you going to do about it?

Web IdeasSo you see how important lead capture is to a results-based website and you’ve even learned about five or six methods… so what are you going to do about it? Take action! Make sure you are incorporating at least one or two of these on your website so you aren’t wasting traffic to your website.

All the information you can learn won’t help your website make you more money unless you apply it. So I encourage you, pick one or two of these and apply them to your website so you can start converting that traffic to leads and ultimately sales!

 

Not sure where to start?

(psst, here’s a great example of a website lead capture method and call to action! ) Schedule a 30-minute consultation with us to see how we can help you. We build websites that are results-focused for people who are awesome at what they do… like you! Click the button below and get your 30-minute call scheduled today.

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Schedule 30-Minute Consultation

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Making your website your vehicle to business growth!

MAKING YOUR WEBSITE YOUR VEHICLE TO BUSINESS GROWTH!So you want your website to make you more money?

I spent an amazing weekend at the Be The Change event in Orlando and I met some incredibly awesome people while I was there. I was able to walk around and talk to hundreds of business people, coaches and entrepreneurs and just get to know them and their businesses. I got to hand out more of my awesome clear plastic business cards (which were a total hit!) and I got to make some game-changing connections.  But also learned a tremendous amount of things from the speakers and sessions.

One in particular was Bert Jacobs, one of the brothers who founded “Life is Good”. After an incredible hour-and-a-half talk, which was filled with tons of amazing nuggets of wisdom, hilarious cracks and even frisbees he tossed into the audience (I didn’t get one, I’m so crushed), I was left with one really important point he made. He said, that even though his company sold t-shirts, the t-shirts themselves were not the product. The product was the message and their t-shirts were just the vehicle to get the message out there.

Likewise, your website is a vehicle to carry your message, to generate leads, to drive sales, to encourage engagement and more. If you let it, your website can be the vehicle that grows your business and makes you more money. So stop treating your website like it is just a “website”, a collection of pages and information hosted on some server halfway across the country that every once in a while you take a look at to update your rates, your office hours, your services or to post that random blog post that no one reads anyways. Start treating it like it is another vehicle that carries your message and your goals to even more people.

Most websites never contribute anything to the business it was built for. Why does it fail to become a vehicle? Why does it fail to actually contribute to business growth?

 

Why do most websites fail to really become this vehicle?

Simply put, because there’s no goal set for the website  in the first place. If there’s no goal, the website has no purpose and no venture, no mission, no business has ever been successful without a purpose. How can we even measure success if there no goal in the first place?

This is one of those things that drives me absolutely crazy… when a web developer doesn’t START by asking what the clients goals are. This results in websites that are cobbled together, that might even “look” great, but have no real purpose and just don’t accomplish much except drain time, money and sanity. Have you been there? Spending countless hours and dollars on a website, then wondered why you were even doing it in the first place? Only to wake up one morning and realize your website doesn’t actually contribute anything to your business and might actually slowly be tugging away at your precious sanity? It’s time to make money with your website!

 

#1. Start with the goal

Web IdeasThere’s hope… don’t worry, I’m an optimistic kind of guy, so I wouldn’t leave you hanging on that dreary note. The first thing that should be done before any website project, or before you start the process to revitalize an existing website is to set a goal and a purpose for the website. Be clear on what message you want it to send and what goals you want to achieve. Do you want to build your email list? Generate leads? Maybe convert sales? Or maybe you are looking to generate engagement in your blog and build a community? Maybe your goal is even to generate subscriptions to an online lesson system plan system? That’s fine! Whatever it is, make sure you know what it is and get it down on paper. You can have multiple goals, just set them up in priority.

[sws_pullquote_right] The first thing that should be done before any website project, or before you start the process to revitalize an existing website is to set a goal and a purpose for the website. [/sws_pullquote_right]

Start with the easy goals. Do you want your website to make you more money? Ok, that’s a good goal… in what way? How will it make you more money? Do you want your website to tell visitors about you and your products/services? Great! Now HOW would you like it to do that? What will it sound like? What is the message you want to get across? What are the things your website can do that would help grow your business? Jot your ideas down on paper before moving forward. I suggest taking this to your web designer and getting their input as well. They may have ideas you didn’t even know were possible.

 

#2. Get a solid plan down

PlanningNow that you have that goal (or multiple goals), it’s time to plan how you will accomplish those goals. How does the website need to look? How should the copy read? What features need to be included on the site? All of these are items that will need to be determined before you change anything on your website. Are one of your goals to build your email list? Well, then you should probably have a capture form on the site that gives the user an info freebie in exchange for their email and you are going to want this capture form somewhere prominent, probably on the home page. Is your goal to generate sales? Well, then you might need landing pages and an e-commerce system.

One of the biggest reasons I see website projects crash and burn is just poor planning, which comes from the fact that very few have goals set in the first place. By planning out how goals will be achieved and what systems and content need to be created, you ensure that halfway through a project, a surprise doesn’t pop up and burn the whole project down.

[sws_pullquote_right] It’s true. If the project is well planned, it actually takes less time and costs less than if each part is figured out as you go along. [/sws_pullquote_right]

Did you know that it is MUCH more time consuming for a web designer to do little pieces at a time when developing a website as opposed to developing it all at once? It’s true. If the project is well planned, it actually takes less time and costs less than if each part is figured out as you go along. Think about it. If you were building a home, then just as it was about to be finished, you decided you wanted the home builder to add an indoor jacuzzi in the master bathroom… it’s going to end up costing alot more for him to add it now than if it was in the original plan. Why? Well, because it is not just a matter of installing a new jacuzzi. He first has to pull out the old smaller tub, possibly cut holes in the doorway to fit in the large jacuzzi, then rework all the plumbing. See how adding something to the plan later ends up adding more work in the long run? I see this happen all the time with web projects. Because the project was poorly planned, people don’t realize they want or need things until the site is halfway done, then when they want to add it, it either takes a long time to add or costs more money than they were prepared to spend. This causes friction with the web developer and the project falls apart or finishes without actually having everything it needs.

For example, we require our clients to have their website content ready before the project begins, even if we are hired to write it for them. This is because the website content is so absolutely critical to everything else about the website… and once you get to writing the copy, you start to discover other pages or elements you might need. It also results in a much much nicer website when the site is built to house the content, not the other way around.

Want to know the top 10 pitfalls people stumble into when building their website? Click here for a free e-book.

 

#3. Implement your plan

building-websitesNow that you have some solid goals and plans, it’s time to implement. If you are extra web-savvy, you might be able to implement yourself, but in most cases it is more cost and time efficient to hire a professional to build the site for you. The project is much more likely to achieve goals and results when developed professionally. When choosing a professional, always ensure they are trustworthy and have great sample work and testimonials to show they know their stuff (psst, like us!). Have a meeting with them and look over their materials to ensure they are organized and are very clear about what they are offering. Make sure their process includes determining goals and planning the project before beginning. I also suggest finding someone who will build a WordPress website as it provides powerful back-end functions to maintain and update the site as well as a host of useful plugins.

[sws_pullquote_right] It is also a common “kiss of death” for websites when businesses never seem to be able to leave the planning stages. [/sws_pullquote_right]

When implementing, because you have your goals and your plan, it should all be done in one motion. Try not to break it up into phases or add and remove things unless you absolutely must do so. This can affect the final product and slow down the process. It is also a common “kiss of death” for websites when businesses never seem to be able to leave the planning stages. They go over and over the plan, making small tweaks. This is fine at first, but at some point, pull the trigger and don’t look back until the project is ready.

If you are doing it right, once your website is up and running, you will be revisiting from time to time, making tweaks to over time to optimize it and ensure it is working as efficiently as possible towards your goals.

 

#4. Now make sure you follow through!

Website ResultsAnd one more warning. A great website with a great plan with great implementation can be completely worthless without follow-through. Ever seen a fantastic website with a blog that hasn’t had a post in it for 6 months? No matter how good it looks, the dated content makes the site look untrustworthy. Ever been to a website where the content was outdated or prices were wrong? Ever submitted a form to receive a newsletter, freebie or a quote and never heard back because the business didn’t follow up? Whatever features and functions you build into the site, have a plan of how you will follow through and ensure it creates the most results for you. If you are going to have a blog, post often! Provide fantastic content and send that content out in your newsletters. Be consistent with your newsletter so your list knows what to expect. If your website is designed to generate leads or sales, make sure you follow up on those leads and sales right away and keep sales copy, prices and product information up to date.

[sws_pullquote_right] A great website with a great plan with great implementation can be completely worthless without follow-through.[/sws_pullquote_right]

Websites also need periodic updates and maintenance. Make sure the site doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair. If built correctly, a good WordPress website will only need some minor tweaks a couple times a year such as updating the WordPress version and any plugins installed or making minor tweaks to the code to update for newer browsers.

 

So how do you make your company’s website your vehicle to business growth?

So, how do you develop a website that is a vehicle to communicate your unique message, generate leads, convert sales or accomplish any other goals you might have set? How do you build a money making machine that grows your business? How do you make money with your website?

  1. You set goals
  2. You plan
  3. You implement
  4. You follow through

 

Looking for some help?

Ready to get a WordPress website that is results-focused and revolves around your goals? Ready to take your plan and have it implemented to create that vehicle that helps take your business to the next level? Ready for some help building that plan and setting up steps and processes to follow through with your new-found web presence? Then schedule your 30-minute consultation with us to discuss how we can help you grow your business by clicking on the orange button below.

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Schedule 30-Minute Consultation

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Hacking Alert For WordPress Websites! (WordPress Security)

Hacker WarningAn unknown group has targeted websites using the WordPress platform and are using advanced tools and techniques designed to use brute-force (it guesses your username and password) to hack into WordPress admin logins. The attackers are using over 90,000 IP addresses to mount this attack and it is being said they may be attempting to create a “botnet” which is a network of  infected computers that then go on to send the bot out to others. This allows the attack to act much like a virus, gaining momentum as it takes down websites.

There are tons of technical details that really don’t matter a whole lot to my readers or clients, so I’ll get to the point. Be on high alert and be sure to keep an eye on your site. But beyond that, there are some things you can do in the meantime!

WordPress Security Steps (protect your WordPress Website):

  • Update your admin account password! Use something at least eight characters long (I use 15) and mix in special characters and capital letters. Use this tool to generate a secure password:
    http://www.pctools.com/guides/password/
  • Ensure there are no other accounts on your site that have full administrator access, but if they do, make sure they have a secure password as well.
  • Change your admin name if it is something simple like “admin”. Use something you can remember, but don’t make it obvious! (tip: this can be changed using the plugin below)
  • Install a security plugin. A great free one is Better WP Security (Better WordPress Security):
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/better-wp-security/
  • Make sure your version of WordPress has been updated to the latest version!

 Read more on the subject:

[newsletter]

What is W3C validation?

What is W3C validation and why is it important?

What is W3C validation?

We in the “web world” tend to use scary words and acronyms when talking about what we do and it is very possible you have heard of “W3C” or “W3C standards” or maybe even “W3C validation” and wondered what in the world a this strange jumble of letters and numbers has to do with your website! I’ll translate this from “Tech” into English for you.

 

First, let’s define who and what the W3C is. (w3c definition)

W3C stands for the World Wide Web Consortium who are the recognized standards organization for the world wide web. This organization was founded by Tim Berners-Lee and is run by a full-time staff to continue to develop and maintain web standards. These standards are then used to help guide web developers and browsers to develop code that lives up to certain standards. In a nutshell, they write the rule-book that helps to define if our code is well-written or poorly written. This is how we know if our markup (code) is awesome or not-so-awesome.

 

Ok, so what is W3C Validation? (w3c validation definition)

We have established that there is a “rule-book” to define how we write our HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc and make sure we do a good job, right? Well the programming languages we use all have their own grammar, vocabulary and syntax just like a spoken language and that means that it can be written wrong if it does not follow the rules. When we say we write “W3C valid code” or that “our websites pass W3C validation”, we are saying that the code we write and websites we build will pass W3C validation tests without errors because our syntax and “grammar” is correct. It means we wrote awesome code that was done right.

It’s all a very complicated way of saying that W3C Validation is a test that makes sure we follow the rules!

A tool is provided by the W3C to test websites and can be found this link: http://validator.w3.org. We use this tool on all of our websites to give us insight as we work on the websites and especially once we have launched them.

 

Why is it important that your site is W3C Valid?

A great question! I’m glad you asked. It’s important that your site is W3C valid to ensure the site works properly on your browser as well as the other major browsers such as Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, etc. A website that contains many errors can suffer from many ill-effects.

The following are just some of those ill-effects:

  • Not displaying properly or consistently
  • Not compatible with all major browsers
  • Not displaying properly on devices of varying sizes like mobile devices
  • Ranks badly in search engines (because they can’t read the code)
  • Loads elements slowly

Additionally, websites that are coded to standards last longer and are “future-proofed” for the most part against browser updates and the like. If your code is poorly done, the chances of your website breaking as browsers and other software updates is greater than if the code validated. We believe in value for our clients and what good is a website that breaks a few months later!? When working with websites we have not built, one of the first things we do is check the W3c Validator tool to see what we are in for!

Here is an article on the W3C website “Why Validate”. Click here to take a look.

 

Wrapping it up.

Keeping in mind that a website can be coded with valid W3C markup, but still not be done well or properly in other ways, however this is generally a good test to see how well the site was coded. For example, our own website doesn’t 100% validate due to some of the features we have decided we must have for marketing purposes, but it avoids the major errors that could be damaging our user experience or search engine exposure. The real red flag is raised when there are lots and lots of errors.

Every website should meet W3C validation standards if at all possible. It is not only the “right” way to do it, but it has many lasting benefits, such extending the sites life expectancy, ensuring compatibility across browsers, increasing load-speed in many cases and much more. Hopefully this helps you understand why we think it is so important and why we test all of our websites for W3C validation before deeming a project complete.

 

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