When you signed off on your most recent web design, it wasn’t because you felt like writing a check or needed more art in your life. You invested in a web presence because you hoped it would give you an opportunity to grow your business. It’s not exactly a secret that good web design and Internet marketing are important to the bottom line.
But, what comes next? How do you turn the inspiration for a great website and comprehensive marketing plan into something that actually bears bottom-line results?
Unfortunately, a lot of business owners and executives don’t know the answer to this question. Worse yet, the web design teams they hire don’t fill them in. As a result, they have websites that look good, but achieve only lackluster results when it comes to actual sales, leads, and other metrics.
Today, we are going to show you 10 secrets of explosive Web growth – online marketing and branding strategies that help you make the most of your website and get your business to boom. Any of them can be used to improve your bottom-line picture, but if you really want to see your revenue moving in the right direction, try to put them all to good use.
#1: Great Design Attracts Attention
Every business person knows it’s important to have a professional-looking website. What many don’t realize, however, is that simply covering the basics of clean design and easy navigation is just a starting point.
Because competition on the web is so intense, it takes something truly beautiful and striking to stand out. If your website looks like every other website that your prospects and customers see when they’re looking for a vendor in your industry, then how can you have any advantage over your competitors?
So much of sales and marketing is about good first impressions. A well-designed website, and one with a unique aesthetic, gives an instant sense of credibility and professionalism. Visitors trust your business implicitly, because your messaging is being delivered in the right way.
Great design attracts attention, while mediocre layouts make you blend into the virtual crowd. Never settle for a website that doesn’t show your company in the best possible light, because a bad first impression will cost you again and again.
#2: Custom Photos Create an Emotional Response
While the overall design and layout of your website are important, you should pay particular attention to a visual element that everyone notices: the photos and images displayed on your pages.
Every marketer knows that photographs – and especially images of people and faces – draw the eye naturally. But, while most designers (and their clients) revert to stock photos, we would encourage you to consider custom photography for your website whenever possible.
When stock pictures are used, there is often a slight disconnect between the images and the messaging on a webpage. This won’t necessarily ruin your marketing or branding, of course, but custom photos allow you to show off your products and people in the best light, while telling the story you really want customers to hear. And most importantly, they create an immediate emotional response that draws visitors in.
If custom photos aren’t an option, make sure the stock photos for your website are chosen very carefully. And, consider upgrading them when you get the chance.
#3: Focused Copywriting Drives Conversions
Because the visual elements of a webpage – and especially the layout and photos – are the ones that attract immediate attention, there is a tendency amongst business people to assume that web content and copy aren’t nearly as important. Or, that the main purpose of content on your website is to attract search engine visits.
Both of these notions are as incorrect as they are widespread.
At some point, anyone who is interested in your products or services is going to read your content. And then, the clarity and persuasiveness of that content is ultimately going to be what convinces them to take the next step or leave your website altogether.
Never forget that focused copywriting drives conversions. You don’t just need to convey information, you have to do it in a way that appeals to your most important buyers and prospects. Speak their language, and use the words on your website to convince them to keep reading, contact your business for more information, or even make a purchase.
#4: Customer Knowledge Drives Messaging
It’s not enough to say that your copywriting should be “good.” That’s because the effectiveness of any piece of messaging is relative; what seems compelling to one person could be uninteresting to another. You have to make the right match between what you’re saying and the people you want to hear it.
To put this another way, the better you know your customers, the easier it is going to be for you to draw them in with your content. The better you understand their wants and needs, the more tightly-focused your messaging can be, and the larger response you garner in return.
In the same way that your marketing needs to be focused to your most important buyers and their needs, it’s also good to remember that “your most important buyers” could represent several different groups. In fact, you may have one set of decision-makers, and an entirely different set of individuals who influence them or do research on their behalf.
Get to know your customers, and everyone else who might be involved in the buying process, and then tailor your content so that it appeals specifically to them.
#5: Consistency in Branding Yields Consistency in Marketing
One thing we wish more marketers and business people understood is the power of consistency. Succeeding online isn’t just about coming up with a few good ideas or gaining the attention of a handful of new customers. It’s about doing these things again and again over time.
That need for consistency is important in a couple of different ways. The first applies to branding, where it’s crucial to use the same kinds of fonts, colors, and personality throughout your different campaigns. Doing so makes it easy for buyers to identify your communications, and reinforces your messaging to them again and again to the point where your business remains in the top of their mind.
The other aspect of consistency is just keeping your Internet marketing campaigns moving forward. Things like search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing are all more effective and profitable when they are organized into consistent efforts, rather than all-at-once surges of activity.
To build a strong brand, and enduring results, make consistency a high priority.
#6: Social Engagement Builds Brand Loyalty
There are essentially two ways that business people view social media marketing. The most popular approach, by far, is to simply flood social networks like Facebook and Twitter with targeted ads, links, and overt marketing messages. This can yield small results if the business has a large enough following, but there is a better way.
Smarter, more savvy marketing teams use social engagement, which centers on small-but-meaningful interactions with potential buyers. In other words, they try to generate shareable content, spread ideas, and answer questions through social networks. The focus is always on getting closer to buyers, not the next transaction.
This approach pays bigger dividends than one that’s focus strictly on sales. It works because people tend to go on social networks to catch up with friends, make new connections, and ask the occasional question. They aren’t using sites like Facebook to be sold, and so they are less responsive to overt sales and marketing attempts.
The goal of a long-term social media marketing campaign is attention. Once you have that, you can build brand loyalty that lasts for years.
#7: Local SEO Attracts High-Value Buyers
In 2014, Google revealed that one out of every five search engine queries contained a geographic element (i.e., “Columbus, Ohio web design.”) At the same time, the world’s largest search engine started factoring in geography into many of its search results.
The net result of these two details is that customers are turning to the web – instead of the Yellow Pages and other print directories – to find businesses in their own neighborhoods. And Google and the other search engines give you a “home-field advantage” when it comes to finding buyers in your area.
This is great news for marketers who know how to use local search. That’s because customers who are close by tend to cost less (in marketing, shipping, customer service, etc.), place larger orders, and stick with the business for longer.
Integrating local search into your website isn’t difficult. Start with geographic keywords, maps, and accurate contact information. From there, things like online reviews and social presence can bring you a huge boost in new visits.
#8: Online Reputations Are Digital Word-of-Mouth
Since the beginning of business as we know it, there has been one marketing technique that has worked again and again, without fail, and that costs next to nothing. That miracle tactic, of course, is word-of-mouth advertising.
A lot of business owners lament the fact that positive word-of-mouth seems to have gone away in the digital age. Very few of us, they complain, seem to take the time to tell our neighbors and colleagues about a great product or service anymore.
That’s only half right. Although many of us are too busy to spend time talking about vendors anymore, we will still do it if we are impressed enough. And, we’ll generally take our opinions online.
While online reviews might not seem as personal as a live referral would be, they can be even more powerful. That’s because online reviews can be seen by hundreds or thousands of people, and cataloged by search engines, while in-person introductions are only effective once, and for an instant.
Word-of-mouth marketing is alive and well in the digital age, and it works better than ever. But your business has to be doing all it can to attract strong online reviews for you to take advantage.
#9: Niche Advertising Pulls in Customers
One of the most interesting and enduring trends in Internet marketing has been the development of niche campaigns. It’s ironic, but the bigger the web gets, the smaller your pool of ideal prospects becomes. That’s especially true when it comes to pay-per-click ads and other forms of Internet advertising.
The real factor at play here, of course, is competition online. Customers have more choices than ever. They are no longer content for a good business, website, or search result… they want to find the fit that’s perfect.
The smartest marketers realize this, and concentrate their ad budgeting on the segment of the buying public that’s most likely to not only do business with them today, but keep buying from them again and again in the future. Trying to target everyone, or even all the prospects in an area or industry, is a losing strategy. If you want to make your marketing more efficient, think of which niches you can fill and dominate.
#10: Profitable Websites Are Built for Conversions
You may have noticed a running theme throughout these tips, and it brings us back nicely to where we started: that a great website is built for business performance first and foremost. Everything on your pages should be geared towards creating positive impressions, bringing in the right customers, and then getting them to take the next step.
Profitable websites are built for conversions – not for traffic and not for their artistic value. Those are important factors, of course, but the reality is that they don’t matter if your campaigns aren’t moving in the right direction, and if your website isn’t helping your bottom line.
Never forget that your business website is a business tool, not an online version of your brochure or something you invested in simply because it seemed like the thing to do at the time. If you aren’t getting the results you hoped for, it’s time to change your approach and put these 10 strategies to use.
Do you need expert help with business web design and Internet marketing? If so, now is the perfect time to talk to the team at Marcy Design and see what our creative experts can do for you.