Why do most websites fail to generate business?

Why do most websites fail to generate business?

The simple fact is that your website isn’t just about you and what you’re trying to sell. A website is like a billboard. The main reason it exists is to attract interest from people and turn them into customers. So doesn’t it stand to reason that your website and the experiences you provide there should cater to your visitors first and foremost? When visitors land on your website, it should be very clear to them exactly what’s in it for them, and why they should care about your product/service. More often than not, websites fail to meet the needs of the visitors.

The Wrong Audience

The problem with most websites is that they are usually designed to make the owner of the website happy. These websites fail miserably at meeting the needs of the visitors.

It happens all too easily – more often than not, you engage a group to design your site, and the team focuses entirely on satisfying your needs, rather than carefully considering the needs of your website visitors.

Research shows that the more a website visitor spends on a site engaging with relevant content, the more likely it is that a sale will result. So here’s the rub – to create engaging content, you first have to decide who your website visitors are in order to create that engaging content.

Introducing Website Personas

Increasingly, big businesses are realizing that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to website design is not as effective as one that provides content targeted at specific segments of site visitors. By doing so, they are finding that their engagement rates rise dramatically, and greater sales result from their efforts. These visitor segments are known as website buyer personas.

Website buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are arrived at based on real data about your customer demographics and online purchasing behavior, to which has been added speculation about their personal histories, concerns and motivations.

For instance, if you are a hotel looking to get new business, you might target four buyer personas: a business traveler, an event planner, a family on vacation, and wedding receptions. Each of these distinct personas have different interests and needs. A website that speaks to these needs in general, falls short in its ability to answer the specific “What’s in it for me?” question each individual buyer persona has. By directly addressing the particular needs of each individual persona, the answer to “What’s in it for me?” becomes clearer and personalized, leading to a far more successful website.

But I already have a website!

We know it isn’t always practical to go back and redesign your website from scratch, but investing the time in identifying your business’ website personas is invaluable. Once you have your website personas you can choose one or more of the following approaches to adapt the messaging of your website to fit the needs of your different buyer personas.

Design (or Enhance) Your Website for Your Buyer Personas

Once you have a clear understanding of your business’ various buyer personas and what makes them tick, you can cater your website experience to the interests of these different customer segments.

Include Self-Select Links on Your Homepage

Consider adding links on your homepage or in your website’s menu that allow visitors to self-select who they are. This will allow them to receive the most relevant content and website experience possible. This has the added benefit of eliminating any question of what the site visitor should do next. It allows you to more easily guide your visitors and expose them to specific website content, and gives you greater control over their actions.

Create a Specific Website Page for Each Persona

Point the self-select links on the homepage or menu to a customized page for each of your buyer personas. These pages will allow you to feature targeted language, messaging, and video content, as well as provide useful links to targeted content, product pages, offers, etc., that appeal to that particular segment or buyer persona. Using our hotel example above, you could create a page for each of those separate personas: business travelers, event planners, vacationing families, and couples planning their wedding reception.

Create Landing Pages & Content for Each Persona

Create targeted landing pages — and content to go with them — for each persona. This allows you to create everything from blog posts  to premium offers like ebooks, webinars, product demos, etc. You can use this content as links within your individual persona pages, your website’s general resource center, and in lead nurturing campaigns catered to those particular personas.

If you already have content and offers that suit a more general audience, you won’t have to start from scratch. By modifying the generally targeted content you already have, you can address the specific needs of your different segments. Look for ways to cater to the persona’s individual needs, problems, and interests; adjust formatting, depth, and length; modify language and tone; and incorporate industry/persona-specific examples.

Categorize Web Page Content by Persona

Even though you may carefully create dedicated, persona-based pages to link all of your persona-targeted content and offers, you should also make the rest of your website persona-friendly. This is because your website visitors may not use the self-select links, or come in through the custom landing pages. Put a few safeguards in place to make sure that you can still deliver relevant content and experiences to those site visitors.

  1. Resource Centers:  Organize your website materials into easily found materials. Color code the materials. Tag them. Categorize them. Make them easily identifiable to each persona.
  2. Use different pages where needed. Sometimes it is simply easier and neater to split materials and messaging onto a page for each persona.  In the case of products for sale, this may already be in place, but just may need clarification and alignment with other materials.
  3. Tagging. Tag and highlight materials on pages to help attract and clarify the intended persona(s) for the materials.

Create Calls-to-Action (CTAs) for Each Persona

Last but not least, to ensure you have effective lead generation, create call-to-action buttons that correlate with targeted offers to personas. Include these calls to action buttons and offers on the pages of your website dedicated to those personas.
Take time to consider what copy, design, and imagery will work best with each particular persona and build calls-to-action that take these into account. And if in doubt, test, test, test!

10 FREE Awesome Mobile Apps to Make You Fall in Love with Marketing Again

10 FREE Awesome Mobile Apps to Make You Fall in Love with Marketing Again

Digital marketing has become a drag – SEO, social media, content writing… get back to basics and the act of creating. Here are 10 FREE Awesome Mobile Apps to Make You Fall in Love with Marketing Again

We thought we’d share some of the iPhone IOS apps that we use and love at our marketing agency. Whether you’re a cog in a big business or you’re the big wheel at a small business, these are all useful, fun and applicable to you. We collectively use hundreds of apps, but when we narrowed them down to just 10, these are the ones that stood out. Enjoy!

hyperlapse

 

Hyperlapse. $15,000 used to get you smooth time lapse videos. Until Hyperlapse. You have to see what people have done with it to get a real sense of its abilities. We love it and have to restrain ourselves from overusing it. Watch what The Verge had to say about it.

directr for business

Directr for Business. Who needs a director and crew or our fancy-schmancy cameras and equipment when you have this amazing storyboard-driven video creator. It is especially useful for creating rough drafts of the final product. (quite often it is our final product!)

pigment

Pigment. Ok, so this has nothing to do with marketing, but if you’re looking to get your inner creative mojo back, and see life as a kid again, this is fun! A coloring book for adults. Wheeeee!

periscope

Periscope. Simply the fastest, best way to broadcast live video, and all the while building your social value.

triller

Triller. Create mash up video mixes at work? Sure! Life’s more than a series of endless spreadsheets and meetings – show your world at work from a different angle.

filmic pro

FiLMiC Pro. Anyone can record video, but to make epic videos you need to be able to control every aspect of the camera. Enter FiLMiC Pro. Unbelievable.

slash keyboard

Slash Keyboard. Start your love affair all over again with this keyboard app. The app connects to more than a dozen services to ensure that you almost never need to switch apps while typing. Whether you want to look up a map location, search Google, Amazon, your contacts or or the App Store, Slash Keyboard lets you seamlessly do it from your keyboard.

adobe post

Adobe Post. Want to quickly create fabulous looking social posts? Adobe Post is new and just like their other stuff, works magic! Whee, wow, wonderful!

gifsart

GifsArt. Marketing without animated Gifs is like seeing in black and white. Gifs makes pics and clips pop with color and excitement. Addictive, beware.

storehouse

Storehouse. A possible breakout app for 2016, you get to turn photos and videos into shareable stories. Rather than the mind numbing upchuck of Facebook and Twitter, you get to build something meaningful. Sure it might complicate your existing content process but then again, it might be a lot prettier and look a lot less like the overprocessed stuff we see all the time.

Of course there are tons of other FREE awesome apps out there that we use all the time at our marketing agency – those that didn’t make the top 10 cut include Google Drive, Google Maps, Flipboard, Camera+, GoPro, Skype, Waze, Tumblr, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Algo, Feedly, Hootsuite, WordPress, Buffer, Nimble, Feedly, Ted, Slack, Asana, Evernote, Genius Scan, Eventbrite, DayOne…and the list goes on. And now that Apple’s big iPad has been released, we’re likely going to be adding even more.

2015 Marketing Trends

2015 Marketing Trends

While relevant content leads the digital marketing landscape of 2015, companies still need to get their fundamentals right. A clear strategy, good data on consumers, pushing content to the right places and measuring effectiveness of marketing campaigns are all necessary.

By doing this, companies can create engaging content which resonates and appeals to customers on a consistent basis and reap their just rewards.

Native advertising displaces annoying, useless online ads

Native advertising displaces annoying, useless online ads

A quiet revolution is underway and you probably don’t know about it. Online advertising is dead as we know it. Almost no one clicks on annoying website banner ads – the click through rate is abysmally low. 10% of consumers go so far as to virtually erase online ads using some form of online ad blocker, like Ad-Aware. So what’s a marketer to do in 2015? How do you get an ad-wary audience to click on your brand content? Enter native advertising.

What is native advertising

Native advertising, like advertising, is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, any digital content can be made into native advertising. What makes it different from a regular advert is that is is difficult to spot. It is designed to blend in with the regular content typically found in the publication. Often it isn’t even marked with the telltale ‘sponsored content’ banner. There are no standards or guidelines for publishers in labeling native ads.

Native adverts align with a site’s established editorial style and voice, and provides the kind of content that the site’s audience typically expects. It doesn’t look out of place on the site.

Native advertising gets results

Native ads are getting much love right now, because the click-through rates are much higher than typical advertisements with much stronger engagement.

“We just dipped our toe into the water this year, but I would say we’ll see a five- to 10-times increase over what we spent this year,” said Matt Eaves, VP-engagement at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

This is true of almost all brands today. A simple Google search for native advertising shows that spending on native advertising is increasing exponentially as brands and businesses look for effective ways to build brand awareness and loyalty.

“Traditional digital advertising has become wallpaper,” said Jason Hill, GE’s global head of media strategy recently. “It doesn’t improve anyone’s experience on a site and readers, myself included, pretty much look past it.”

Native advertising is breaking long-held taboos. For instance, Forbes put a native ad for Fidelity on the cover of its magazine, which is traditionally considered editorial space for magazines. Fidelity reportedly paid $1 million for the ad which included two pages inside the magazine. Read more…

forbes native advert cover

 

Examples of great native ads

When done well, the ads are very effective and while they may not fit the notion of ‘going viral’, they are very engaging.

Levi’s on Instagram:

Levi posted pics of people wearing Levi’s in outdoor settings. The
photos looked like typical Instagram photos that friends post, but were in fact adverts. The public’s response was excellent. Read more…

levis native advert instagram

Universal Studios on Tumblr:
Universal released an animated GIF of one of the minions with just a link to download the image to promote the movie DespicableMe 2. In just 24 hours, it was the most liked and reblogged Tumblr ad of 2013. Read more…

And one notable native ad fail

Native ads don’t always work as planned. When the ads don’t blend in with their surroundings, results can be disastrous.

Church of Scientology on The Atlantic:
A story on ­Scientology’s success fell flat on this thought-leader site—readers clearly felt the article/advert didn’t meet the standards of the site and howled with outrage. It was offline within hours. Read more…

the atlantic church of scientology native advert

What’s a brand to do?

Done well, native ads can be interesting, informative and build a brand or sell a product. Natives ads are also becoming more important as readers increasingly use toward mobile devices, where traditional advertising is even less effective.

Small to medium sized businesses are behind the curve when it comes to this medium of advertising, but with a little bit of work on their part, they too can reap the rewards. Small to medium sized businesses should use promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook or content discovery platforms like Outbrain and Taboola to increase the reach and the value of their content marketing.

Content Marketing – Yes, You should Do It

Content Marketing – Yes, You should Do It

Content marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods around today. Although businesses have always shared information about their products and services, it has never been as easy, and as important, especially to small businesses. Most brands use content marketing, but less than half believe they’re good at it, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

What is Content Marketing

“Content marketing is a way for a business owner to educate your customers and potential customers about your products and services,” says Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics. “The goal is to offer tips, help, and education about anything that can be helpful to a customer”

Why do Content Marketing

“Small businesses should be even more focused on content marketing than larger brands,” says Brenner, head of strategy for NewsCred. “Small businesses need to drive brand awareness and leads with limited resources. Content marketing is a great way for small businesses to do both

Build Awareness, Gain Trust, Get Customers

Businesses that invest in content marketing generate awareness of their business and products, get customers engaged, and enjoy sales leads. “Content marketing can do something even more meaningful for businesses,” says Patel. “Good content marketing builds trust. And if someone trusts you, they are more likely to buy your products and services and more likely to tell their friends and family.”

Where to Start

The experts agree – ask yourself, or ask your potential customers: what are the problems they are experiencing that they’d like to solve, for which you have solutions. What is the value to the customers? And importantly, what is the value to your business? If there is significant value to both, and its in line with your business goals, then its worth creating content about.

What Mistakes are Businesses making?

Businesses who fail to take into account integrating SEO, social media and content marketing will not be successful. “There is great content being published on corporate blogs on a daily basis that no one ever sees.” says Kramer. “SEO, social, and content all have to work together – you need a robust presence in the social media space and you need to understand the role that fresh, relevant content and social media channels play.”

Businesses often fail to create relevant content. We’ve all read website blog entries or Facebook posts that have little or nothing to do with the business that posted them. The result is that it chips away at the credibility and trustworthiness of the business in question. No one wants to wade through posts looking for the occasional valuable nugget of information – we simply move on to the next company.

Volume, Variety and Value

Your marketing mantra should be to mix it up, create often and make it valuable. Decide what you’re going to talk about, and then make every effort to produce as much great content around those topics as often as possible. And do it over multiple social media channels in a variety of ways. People and search engines reward companies that are creative and in the ways they deliver relevant information to them. Think text, photos, videos, slides, white papers – the list is endless.

Measuring Success

The digital world where you’re putting your content out comes loaded with measurement tools. Google Analytics will show how content is driving customer traffic back to your site, views and more importantly, shares will tell you how valuable your material is considered to be by your customers, and finally check how much search traffic you’re getting. Track the change to each over time to see if you’re getting better or merely treading water.

Content marketing is a journey, not a destination

We live in exciting times – our digital world is constantly evolving. What we did yesterday might not work tomorrow. Watch your competitors and learn from their mistakes and successes and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. Take advantage of new approaches as they arise.

“Within the first three months you should see more traffic to your site. Within a year, you should be able to monetize traffic on your site.” says Patel.

Learn More About Content Marketing

Check out Patel’s QuickSprout Content Marketing Institute, Hubspot, MarketingProfs, Kramer’s V3Blog, and Brenner’s NewsCred.

Photo by MACSwriter

Reap Huge Rewards from Content Marketing

Reap Huge Rewards from Content Marketing

Amazingly, only 44 percent of B2B marketers and 39 percent of B2C marketers report having a documented content marketing strategy in place!

What exactly is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related, defines content marketing as:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it. Think of some of your favorite commercials – did they make want to learn more about the product, do they help keep the product in mind when you’re thinking of buying? You can reap huge rewards from content marketing.

Some Content Marketing Examples

Content marketing comes in many types and forms–far too many to cover here. Instead, I’m going to give you a feel for content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you.

  • Infographics. Typically these are long vertical graphics that often include statistics, graphs, and have attractive graphics. Here arguably are the best infographics of 2014. Infographics have a surprisingly long shelf-life – a good one can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. An infographic can cost upwards of $1,000 to be designed, and several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. Promoting infographics to bloggers and the media can also cost you. Alternatively you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business which is also  a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time.
  • Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? The simple answer is yes. A well-written, free online guide such as ‘Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO’ from Moz, has been viewed millions of times, and has brought in countless customers to Moz. Most case studies are boring. Hubspot, another content marketing service company has fascinating case studies. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
  • Podcasts. Michael Hyatt is author of the best-selling book ‘Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World’. He practices what he preaches –  his “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times every month. Michael talks about reasons to launching your own podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” His podcast is a money-making, lead-generating monster.
  • Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk does content marketing using online video –  take a look at his YouTube channel. From videos promoting his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he has grown it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are underutilized as content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. However, creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing is to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market visa consulting services. A simple video could change your company’s fortunes overnight.
  • Books.  Savvy marketers don’t sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. As compelling as Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, the book is a tool for driving customers to their coaching and speaking services.  There is still the perception that it’s difficult to publish a business book, but it is easier than ever before. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”

There are many other forms of content marketing, such as white papers, ebooks, apps, public speaking, presentations, and blogs – the list is virtually endless.

infographic photo
Photo by DashBurst

 

Why Content Marketing?

Content marketing, especially in this social-media driven world, is important to your business. You can reap huge rewards from content marketing. Let’s consider four steps of the consumer buying cycle:

  • Awareness. A customer may have a need, but they are not aware there is a solution.
  • Research. Once a customer  becomes aware there is a solution, they will perform research to educate themselves, such as a car buyer finding out what different types of cars exist in their price range.
  • Comparison. The customer starts comparing different products from different vendors.
  • Buy. The customer makes their decision.

Content marketing supports first two stages of the buying process by raising awareness of options and educating consumers about products they may have never considered before.

We use content marketing to grow our business. Potential clients find our content, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t engage in any high pressure sales tactics. We’ve built trust before we know the potential client exists. And since we do content marketing as a service, our clients can see for themselves the product they’re going to get simply by looking at what we’ve done for ourselves.

The return on investment for content marketing can be huge. We don’t spent money on our own content marketing, or even that much time. Most% of the success we’ve experienced with content marketing is as a result of a handful of articles I’ve written.

Content marketing supports other digital marketing channels. It provides content for social media marketing and supports SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. For many companies the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.

How Do I Get Started?

Many firms offer content marketing services, often linked with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself or haven’t got the resources, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to do your own content marketing, the easiest way is to start blogging. It is hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Websites like Copyblogger teach how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients.

Great Content

Content is good if someone genuinely wants to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. The 2014 The Lego Movie was arguably one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. A 100 minute toy commercial and you paid good money to watch it! Lego recently surpassed Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world.

The #1 Secret of Content Marketing

Add value. That’s the secret. I’ve talked about it throughout this article. We tune out advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, watch an avid sportsman flip through a magazine or website about their favorite sport. They spend as much time looking at the ads as they does looking at the articles and photos. Much of the content is advertisements, but they don’t skip the videos or adverts, because they’re getting the value they want–good sport knowhow. Skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, because selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines.

If you’re still not sure what to create, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now, or would have been helpful to them when they were looking for your product or service. They’ll probably tell you.

How Can I Learn More?

There are many online and podcast sources, from Hubspot to Copyblogger. More important than ever before is to focus on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most customers access content.

Most companies are not doing real content marketing…yet. Jump in now and enjoy the advantage. Let me know how it goes.

Photo by opensourceway