If your website is your place of business you must build it for your customers’ needs as opposed to your own. Many people make the mistake of filling their website with useless graphics or meaningless text. Ask yourself this question, “Is this helping my customer in any way?”
When building your website, there are many small and overlooked mistakes you could be making. The list below covers some of the more common blunders that can easily be fixed.
1. No Consistency or Uniformity – Your website should remain uniform throughout. Do not make each page a different color or design. This will only succeed in confusing your customers and more than likely cause them to go elsewhere. Design your website to flow easily and consistently.
2. Confusing Navigation – Having a uniform design is one major step to user-friendly navigation but you must also use simplicity and cleanliness. Do not clutter up your pages with ads, graphics or flash. Keep your pages, clean, sleek and easy to follow. I have been to some sites that had dozens of banners lining up both sides of their pages. This is not only annoying but will cause you to lose most of your visitors quite quickly!
3. Ineffective Color Choices – Something seemingly irrelevant as color can have a lot to do with your site’s success or failure. Research the psychology of color and make wise choices for your business website. When choosing your color scheme, consider your target market, the message you want to send out and the color’s emotional effect on your visitors.
4. Click to Enter Site – Have you clicked on a link anxiously wanting to see what a site has to offer and then you see a page that says, “Click to Enter Our Site”? I have seen this numerous times and frankly it always baffles me why someone would do this. You have just seconds to capture a person’s attention so why would you put a meaningless message and extra click for them to deal with? Read More→
When getting started with a new online business one of the first things you need to do is choose a domain name. This step is much more important than you might realize. An appropriate and effective domain could decide your website’s fate.
Unfortunately many people will be so involved in the design and set-up of the website they will overlook the importance of selecting the proper domain name. Your domain name will be your website’s identity and it will also be the doorway for people to purchase your products and/or services.
The following checklist will guide you and help you keep in mind some of the things you need to consider when choosing your domain.
1. Keep It Short and Simple – Keeping your domain name short, simple and easy to remember will make it easier for people to get to your site. You want a domain that is easy to spell and type. Don’t use big fancy words or commonly misspelled words such as believe, amateur or collectible. You can find lists of the most commonly misspelled words and if they are in your domain, consider using a thesaurus to find an alternative.
2. Use Your Name – In my opinion, it is a good choice to use your name in your domain. This will be a binding agent for your website your business and you. If your last name is long and hard to spell, consider using your first name. This way if people do not remember your entire URL, they will be likely to remember your name and can still find you. I have had many people who did not remember my specific URL search for me by using my name.
3. Don’t Try to Be Cute and Clever – Cutesy and fun work with some things but it is not appropriate for your domain. Don’t use puns or a “clever” play on words. For example: Flickr.
Using this trendy name probably sounded like a good idea at the time but they finally had to purchase the correct spelling domain flicker.com Doing this will just make your domain hard to remember and/or it will more than likely get typed incorrectly and you lose the traffic.
4. Hyphens and Numbers – There are actually a couple of advantages to using hyphens but in my opinion, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Hyphens actually make it easier for the search engines to distinguish your keywords. Hyphens could also make it possible for you to get the domain you want if the regular version is already taken. But, hyphens will more than likely cause you to lose traffic because people will not always realize your url contains hyphens.
If your domain is beautiful-jewelry.com and you tell people to check out your site, Beautiful Jewelry, you will lose traffic. It is easy to lose the hyphen when spreading the word about your site. And it will make it more complicated for people to remember. It’s the same with numbers. BeautifulJewelry1.com will be much less remembered and found then BeautifulJewelry.com Read More→
As with social networking sites, blogging started out as a way to share your thoughts, opinions and feelings. Starting in the late 1990’s blogging has now evolved into an essential part of online marketing. If your business does not yet have a blog, it is time to get started.
Tools such as WordPress give everyone an opportunity to start a blog fairly easily. Once you start your blog, you will need followers to make your blog active and effective. Building a large and loyal following will take time, commitment and work but the results will absolutely be worth the effort.
Below are some strategies and tips you can utilize to begin building your blog’s traffic.
1. Use the Search Engines – Be friendly to the search engines. Optimize your keywords, link those keywords to other blog posts and utilize search engine plugins. Each post needs a keyword rich meta description as well. Another easy tip you can follow is to use hyphens instead of underscores in your urls. The search engines read hyphens as a space but not underscores. Using post titles in your urls is another way to get more positive attention from the search engines.
2. Get Readers from Other Blogs – Consider the blogging world a big party. By standing in the corner and not participating in conversations or talking to other people, you will end up alone. The same holds true to blogging. You need to get out amongst the crowd. Participate in conversations and attract people’s attention. Get them interested in you so they will come to your party (blog).
3. Bring Your Blog to Life – Be passionate in your posts. Let your personality shine through. Give your content life and energy. Do not overdo with personal posts. Don’t complain about a messy house or the kids giving you problems. You are there to provide helpful content for your readers, not whine. Keep it professional but let your readers get to know you. Show your readers you really care about them and your blog.
4. Hold Contests – Be creative in ways to make commenting on your blog fun. Have a ‘Secret Word” contest. Pick your word and let your readers know that whoever uses that word the most in their comments wins a prize. Hold a referral contest. So many referrals to your blog wins a prize. Let your readers post their contests as well. Cross promote each other and get more followers for all. Read More→
About ten years ago I wrote an article called “15 Ways to Advertise for Free.” At that time the advertising methods detailed in the article were very popular and quite effective. But because of the ever-changing internet and evolving technology, I thought it would be interesting to revisit these strategies and see how they have changed over the years and if they still produce results.
1. Message Boards – Message boards were a great way to network and make connections. Web-based message boards date as far back as the early nineties. Today, however, we have evolved into more advanced versions of message boards such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. A few message boards may still be around and could be mildly effective but they most certainly have seen a huge decline. Social media sites have taken over as the new internet forums.
2. eMail Discussion Groups – eMail discussion groups are another method of networking and connecting but it is done through email rather than a website. People subscribe to a group and participate in the discussions and offer advice, information and help. Such groups have evolved but are still very active and effective for internet business owners.
3. Ad Swaps – Ad swaps used to be one of my favorite marketing techniques. I would contact fellow ezine publishers and arrange to do an ad swap with them. This would very often lead to a lasting association. It is how I met many of my online business associates who also became friends. Although ad swapping can still be very effective, unfortunately it seems to have fallen in popularity.
4. Link Exchange – When exchanging links first became popular back in the nineties, everyone threw up a link directory and exchanged links with every site possible. Now, this is a very bad idea as irrelevant links can cause more harm to your ranking than good. It is now better to have a few quality relevant backlinks to your site rather than linking to every kind of site available. The search engines will actually penalize you for having too many unrelated links posted on your site. You also want to provide helpful links for your visitors so be selective in your linking choices. Read More→
In order to build a successful online business, you also need to build your credibility. Credibility is the quality one possesses that enables potential customers to trust and believe in them. This credibility will certainly extend to your business as well.
People need to be able to trust in your expertise and integrity when dealing with you. For some people, their credibility is their most valuable business asset. But unfortunately inexperience can cause many people to chip away at their credibility without even realizing it.
If you are regularly or repeatedly doing any of the following, you might want to reconsider and refine your business activities.
1. Taking Your Customers for Granted – This is surprising, but I see so many people taking their customers for granted and not realizing how important each and every one of them are – even if they do not make a purchase right away. Take the time to really listen to your customers. Do not get locked into the “I have to get the sale” trap. First you have to make the connection, build the trust and then chances are the sale will come. Put the customer and their needs first, not the sale.
2. Not Taking Responsibility – When something goes wrong with your sales transaction or other business matter, be sure to step up and accept responsibility. Do not try to place blame elsewhere or make excuses. People will see through this and a chunk of your credibility will fall away. You may think that trying to convince the customer that it was not your fault will help but it shows a lack of responsibility and commitment. Apologizing and doing everything you can to rectify the situation will go much farther in building your credibility.
3. Being too Pushy and Aggressive – The days of the pushy forceful salesman are gone. People want someone who can work with them, listen to them and offer them a solution. Show your customers you are that person and let them know you can give them what they need.
4. Being Inconsistent – To have a successful business you need to be consistent and regular. For example: If you send out a weekly mailing to your mailing list, be sure to send it out weekly. I, unfortunately, know a few online business owners who will send out a mailing here and there. I also know some websites that advertise new products daily but many times I have visited and nothing. These are exactly the types of mistakes that could destroy your credibility and drive away your potential customers. When you say you are going to do something, Do It!
5. Pushing Your Personal Life – In this day and age with the internet and social media, you can reach more people than ever thought possible. But unfortunately, many people get way too personal. When you are running a business and trying to connect with people you need to share insights, resources and information to help build your credibility, not your personal problems. You will need to listen to your customer’s problems but when a person comes to you for a solution to their problem, do not talk to them about your problems with the kids or how many bills you have to pay. Another chip of credibility will fall away. Read More→
A promotion is a way of drawing attention to your business whether it be through advertising or other means. Special offers, sales or contests that are not normally available usually produce impressive results. It is an effective way for any business to draw in new potential customers and to retain existing customers.
By running periodical promotional offers that are fun and interesting, you are keeping your business fresh and alive. But more importantly, you are showing your customers you want to help them save money, thus making them feel special and appreciated.The ideas for promoting your business are unlimited. Be creative and make your promotional offers fun and unique. Encourage interaction with your customers to make them more memorable.
Below are ten great ideas that are sure to pump up your sales and produce profits! We all know the standard discounted prices, bogo, and other sales but by putting new and fun twists on these proven tactics you are making them fresh and new!
1. Silver, Bronze and Gold Tickets – Hold an Olympic Event. Let everyone know that each and every customer will receive a silver, bronze or gold ticket with their purchase. These tickets allow the customer to save a good amount on any following orders or offer instant savings with the ticket.
Silver Ticket = 25% Savings.
Bronze Ticket = 35% Savings.
Gold Ticket = 50% Savings.
These numbers are just examples of course and can be changed to suit your business or you can use a dollar amount instead of percentage.
2. BOGO with a Twist – Put a fun new twist on the old BOGO standby. With each BOGO purchase, offer a certain amount of points depending on the amount of purchase. When the customer reaches a certain amount of points, offer him/her a free item of a certain value, or a gift card, etc. 50 points = free $10.00 item; 100 points = free $20 item and so on. Read More→
Statistics will tell you that participating in social media networking can increase your business by leaps and bounds. Social media is now the number one activity on the web and it can yield more power for your business than ever. Over 90% of marketers use social media for their business. Twitter is the second most popular social media site and should definitely be a part of your social marketing arsenal.
Below are ten tactics you can use to help increase your sales and make your business more successful.
1. Be Consistent – Nothing can kill a social media account like an inactive user. Don’t think you can post once or twice a month and keep an active following. You have to be consistent and you have to participate. Work out a tweeting schedule and stick with it. Retweet items of interest. People are active at different times so tweeting items of interest one time will not achieve the results you need.
2. Always Respond to Comments – By always responding to a comment you are acknowledging that person and letting them know what they have to say is important to you. This will encourage more people to interact with you and build the relationship needed to form a lasting business connection. By responding promptly to all comments your credibility will flourish and your reputation will make itself known. Ignoring comments will make the potential lead for your business go away. Read More→
A call to action is a button, graphic or text message in place to motivate your visitor to complete the desired goal. The goal being signing up, subscribing, purchasing, etc. The better your call to action, the higher your conversion rate.
Here are some examples of calls to action:
• Subscribe Here
• Order Now
• Try Our Free Demo
• Sign Up Here
• Call Now
These are some of your most basic calls to action but it is not as simple as it sounds to get people to respond to these calls. Below are ten ways you can beef up your response and increase your conversion rate.
1. Make It Simple – Your call to action should be clear, concise and not cluttered or overloaded with distractions. Do not confuse your visitors with too many offers, choices or actions. Cluttering your call to action with too many items might cause the person to lose confidence in making a choice at all. Read More→