Website success through easy maths

Website Analytics, Website Strategy 1 Comment

People new to me often say: “my website doesn’t get me enough business – how can I make it a success?”.

The answer to that starts with some simple maths that works as follows …

Add up

… all your website visitors during a period of time (typically, a month).  Google Analytics and other website statistics packages will give you this figure.

If the total is less than around 300

… then your website doesn’t really have enough traffic to expect results from.  Focus on targeted, but gradual and inexpensive, promotion of your website to raise numbers.

If the total is more than around 300

… you at least have some figures to be meaningful. So ….

Subtract the rubbish

… this means look through all the individual visits to your website and subtract all those who don’t look like being ‘useful’ visits.  For example, people you can identify as competitors, students doing research from college, search engines visiting your website, you or your staff on your website.  There are many types of ‘not-useful’ visitors.

This bit isn’t quite so easy with most basic website statistics packages but a free trial of A1WebStats will help you here by showing you the information that you can subtract.

Determine the ‘useful visitors’ figure

… meaning: see how many of your overall website visitors were potentially useful to you (based on what they searched for and which pages they looked at on your website, plus also companies they visited from).

Divide enquiries gained by ‘useful visitors’

… however many enquiries you gained during the month, divide those by the number of ‘useful visitors’ (NOT by the overall visitors because that gives a false figure).

If the result is anything above 5% then smile

… based on work we’ve done over the years, if you are getting at least 5% of your ‘useful’ website visitors converting into enquiries then you’re on the right path.  For some sectors/focus areas we set an expectation of at least 10%   Anything above about 15% useful clicks to enquiries ratio is pretty much unheard of.

Equals

Enquiries gained divided by Useful Visitors equals your starting point.  Do this for 2-3 months to build up a proper picture and then consider getting help to raise the success of your website (if you need it).

There’s always a website worse than yours

Google Adwords, Website Development, Website Strategy No Comments

Sometimes it may feel that you have the worst website in your industry.   Day to day the visitor enquiries are non-existent or very low, and you think things are bad with your website.

We’ve reviewed and helped literally thousands of websites in our time and although there’s little excuse for having an underperforming website, it can sometimes be comforting that there are people out there with a worse website and focus than yours.

This one will appeal particularly to people in the holidays industry.  There are some brilliant websites in the holidays industry, particularly the niche holiday websites.  Then there are those in the middle ground.  And sometimes you find something that is spectacularly off target.

We had an enquiry come in recently and it said:

“i run a travel agency ..i do advertising on google. i want to buy 50 to 100 keywords for a year and i want them to be on top..can you please tell me how much it will cost me for a year?”

Apart from it being one of those ‘how long is a ball of string?’ questions (and actually impossible to answer even if knowing what keyword phrases were wanted), the focus was very much on advertising.

A bit of dialogue later and it turned out that the person wanted to be visible under various ‘holidays’ type phrases.  So I looked at their main navigation bar as there was nothing else jumping out from their website saying ‘holidays’.  I won’t name the company because that would embarrass them (no, they’ve not become a client – they ran very fast when they were told how much work they’d need to do in order to justify using Google Adwords).  That navigation bar displays as:

Nothing about holidays in there.

Eventually I worked out that if you click on ‘Flights’ it takes you to what is their holidays page and you can see a sample below …

Putting aside me wondering whether ‘Adeliade’ is anywhere near ‘Adelaide’ (I have a degree in being pedantic about website errors), I thought “hmmm, Adelaide for £811 – let’s look at that” and I clicked on the box.

Well, I tried to click on it.  But it doesn’t go any deeper.

On discussing that with the website owner they were surprised that anyone might actually want to look at details of the holidays on offer and “surely they’d see the price and ring up to find out more?”

So, we’re at the point where this company wants to spend money on sending Google Adwords clicks to a website that is woefully inadequate.  In fact, it makes even mediocre holiday websites look good.   At that point I (nicely) said that I wouldn’t be prepared to set up such an Adwords campaign and that they’d be advised to run a mile from anyone who would be prepared to (before the website is strengthened).

I suspect that they’ll do exactly that. God forbid, they’ll go directly to Google who will quite happily help them set up an Adwords campaign that links through to a rubbish website (they have a department dedicated to doing just that).   It was very clear from the conversation that they had an Adwords tunnel vision and nothing mattered more than sending traffic to the website.  Unfortunately, this is a common disease that can lead to financial death.

Maybe it’s time that we had some sort of central system where business owners can submit their website details and ask for people to grade it on various factors (design, content, depth, etc.).  Just a quick 2 minute appraisal ticking boxes and maybe adding in a few comments.  Everyday people could respond, as could website professionals.  The intention wouldn’t be to sales-pitch services on offer but to give just a small bit of time to website owners that need a collective view (rather than one opinion) of where their website needs to be stronger.

With such a rating system in place, people like me would be less likely to get enquiries about Adwords from people who are clearly not yet ready to line the pockets of Google.

11 for 11-11-11

Website Development, Website Strategy No Comments

Any excuse to come up with some website success tips, in recognition of today being the 11th of the 11th 2011, here are 11 tips that will help you gain more business from your website if you spend just a bit of time on one or more of them …

  1. Increase your blogging frequency

    Blogs that are useful to people help to keep you in their minds for when they may need your products/services, or may be able to recommend you onto others.  If you don’t blog, then create just one a month.  If you do blog, then increase the frequency.   If you’re completely stuck on how to get started then take a look at http://jododdssocialmedia.com/op/business-blogging-2/business-bloggers-manual/ – a real bargain.

  2. Follow up with 11 website visitors who didn’t make contact

    If people from companies visit your website but don’t make contact then it makes sense to see if you can salvage something (by making contact with them).  If you don’t have the ability to identify companies that have visited your website then take a look at http://www.a1webstats.com/what-is-a1webstats/a1webstats-features/companies-visited/ and take advantage of the free trial.

    And if you’re asking yourself the question “how do I know which person within the visiting company came to my website?”, the answer is “you don’t”.  However, using systems like LinkedIn and your existing contacts, you may find a route into that company.  If nothing else, a cold call to that company, trying to get through to someone who may have been interested in your products/services, has got to be worth a try.   Following the ‘11’ theme, if you contacted 11 companies who you know visited your website, and only 1 of them came to anything, you’ve still won more than you would have done by not doing anything.

  3. Boost your testimonials

    How many testimonials do you have on your website?  Do you have testimonials related to specific products or services that you provide?  Do you think that potential customers could be more likely to make contact with you, having visited your website, if you have more testimonials from happy customers?

    Boosting the number of testimonials on your website by even just one is a step in the right direction.

  4. Analyse the competition

    Select a phrase that you want to be/are visible under within Google.  Type it in and spend a bit of time looking through the websites of competitors.  What are they doing on their websites that make you think “that’s a nice touch”?    Replicate it and then beat it in some way.

  5. Make a small website change

    If you know how many enquiries your website typically generates as a percentage of website visitors, then you’ll probably like to increase that.   By making just one small website change you can improve the website visitor experience.  For example, you could put in some fresh graphics, add in a video, offer something for free, or change the font to be nicer.   If you’ve followed tip 4 above you’ll probably have plenty of ideas for making changes.   Then sit back and see how that has an impact on visitors vs enquiries.  If it’s successful then make another small change.

  6. Analyse your biggest landing page

    Apart from your home page, see which page of your website has most people landing on it (e.g. from search engines).   Analyse how each of those visitors then navigates through your website.  What did they type (e.g. into Google) to find that biggest landing page?   How many of them moved beyond that landing page?  Do you think their visits were a success for you?

    Don’t know how to dig deep into people who land on certain website pages?  Take a look at http://www.a1webstats.com/what-is-a1webstats/a1webstats-features/entry-exit-pages/ and feel free to sign up for the free trial.

  7. Write something fantastic

    What could you write, as an article/blog within your website, that you think is the best article on that particular subject?   If you invested the time to create such an article and then made it visible online (e.g. get involved in online discussions about the subject and refer people back to your article), then surely that would bring traffic and interest back to your website?

    Everyone has at least one world-beating article inside them – it’s just a case of putting fingers to keyboard and start typing.   Create the article, promote it online, and then monitor it (see tip 6) to see when people click through to that page of your website.

  8. Highlight your contact details

    People are short of time.   When they look through your website they may get to a certain page that interests them the most.   If your contact details (phone number and email are sufficient) are highly visible on every page of your website then it makes it easy for people to make contact with you (instead of having to go to a contact details page, where they won’t be able to still see the page that was of most interest to them).

  9. Offer a guarantee

    What can you offer as a guarantee related to one or more of  your services or products?   If you had a big bold ‘Guarantee’ type graphic that links through to a page that explains the guarantee, could that give people more reason to buy from you/make contact?   Be big and bold and show people that you’re good enough to offer a 100% no quibble guarantee.  You will notice your enquiries to visitors ratio increase as a result.

  10. Pick a poor performer

    Identify a page of your website that doesn’t get much traffic (see http://www.a1webstats.com/what-is-a1webstats/a1webstats-features/visited-pages/ for how to do this) and ask yourself whether it matters that the page doesn’t get much attention. If you think it’s a valuable page within your website then consider how you could adapt other parts of your website so that they point to that page in a better way.

  11. Set a figure-based goal

    Just because of the blog subject, pick a number as the figure to base a goal on. For example, if you have 50 people who contact you via your website, over a 3 month period, set a target of an 11% increase over the following 3 months, and do whatever you need to in order for that to happen. Or, if your website traffic needs to be higher, set a percentage (11%?!) increase that you want to achieve within a certain timescale.

    Whatever the goal it needs to be related to you gaining more business from your website and it needs to be written down and measured at milestones along the way.

Keep watching for a similar blog on 12/12/12.

Please Sir give me a chance, I will try my best

Website Analytics, Website Strategy No Comments

Whatever forms of advertising you use in your business (online or offline) you generally only get one chance to win the business of people who end up on your website.

I was reminded of this via a recent experience with using outsourced contractors to do what I thought was a very simple job.  The short version was that we gave three outsourced contractors the chance to prove their skills and one of them performed spectacularly badly and when we ended their contract we got a long message from them saying plenty, but including those words:

“Please Sir give me a chance, I will try my best”

After I stopped laughing and having already explained (quite nicely for me actually) how bad the work was, I thought “what a cheek asking for more work when it’s been pointed out how he underperformed compared to other contractors”.

It’s not unlike the way companies use systems like Google to make themselves visible for when people are searching for their products or services.  For those three contractors imagine three businesses visible in close proximity, in the Google search results (paid or organic).

Day 1

Someone searches for the product or service and clicks through to a poor website.  They’re not impressed and they leave.  However they haven’t got the time to keep looking at this stage.

Day 2

The same person searches again and they see that same poor website company appearing in the Google results.  The search listing effectively says to them “Please Sir give me a chance, I will try my best” but the person already knows that the website is poor and so doesn’t click, preferring instead to look at other websites, which are hopefully better.

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day … people are visiting websites and are being underwhelmed.  There are no second chances in a world where people want to be quickly impressed.

You can see this for yourself by doing a relatively easy bit of analysis.  Use your website statistics analytics package and see how many people land on certain pages of your website, noting what they searched for.  Compare those to the numbers of enquiries/sales gained in the same time period.

Then ask yourself whether your website is acting like the underperforming contractor and whether opportunities for future business have been missed out on.

The true cost of Google’s $9.72bn earnings

Google Adwords, Website Strategy No Comments

This month Google announced that their revenues for the quarter to September 2011 had risen 33% to $9.72bn, and profits had increased 26% to $2.73bn.

Big figures from a big company.

The vast majority of Google’s earnings come from Google Adwords, a system that, if used properly, can generate great levels of enquiries/business for advertisers.  However, used poorly, it becomes a money pit.

Unfortunately, the Adwords system is set up in a way that allows advertisers to squander money unnecessarily.  Working alongside that, any changes in the way that the organic search results work are designed so that companies are forced down the route of Adwords advertising if they’re to have any hope of visibility.

The more people using Adwords to advertise, the more costly it gets to pay for the clicks (because it’s basically an auction system).   If you sell widgets and pay £1 per click today and a competitor offers more cost per click allowance then tomorrow you could be paying more than £1 per click.  It becomes a never ending battle for Adwords positioning, out of which there is only one real winner: Google.

I could go on for literally weeks on the numerous ways that Google works against the interests of companies, while acting “holier than thou”.   For now though I can best summarise by saying that a huge proportion of the money Google makes is as a direct result of the Adwords system not being transparent enough, and allowing people to lose money.

This is no different to other media of course.  If you pay for a newspaper advert, which sends people to your website, and your website is rubbish, then that’s not the fault of the newspaper.  In the same way, Google will allow you to advertise your website and pay for clicks, even though your website may be woefully inadequate.  But is it ethical?

Let’s say that one company pays a relatively modest £300 per month in Google Adwords clicks. It generates them, say, 300 visitors (using round numbers of £1 per click) and out of those visitors, they gain 10 enquiries, which boil down to 3 sales.   Those sales may cover the clicks in terms of profits but are they worth having?  3 sales out of 300 visitors implies that something is wrong somewhere.  That could be:

  1. Adwords is set up inefficiently (very common).
  2. The website not being strong enough (also very common).

Usually, it’s a combination of the two.

Wouldn’t it be more ethical if Google ran some sort of system that, at periodic levels of Adwords spend, it asked the advertisers how well they’re doing from their clicks?  And if the answer to that is “not very good” then Google hold out a helping hand to help highlight where the weaknesses are?   Out of $2.73bn profit in the last quarter, surely a small proportion of that could be reinvested in helping Adwords customers gain some insights into where they’re going wrong?

Because so many companies are increasingly desperate for business, Adwords looks attractive to them because it can create instant visibility.  However, the vast majority of advertisers are wasting money because their Adwords campaigns or websites are inefficient.

How much of the $billions that Google makes could be linked to inefficient Adwords campaigns and/or websites?  The actual number would be scary but whatever that number is, so many companies are losing out through investing in Adwords clicks that can’t possibly get them the results they need, which impacts on money available within the business.

The really sad thing is that in a turbulent economy, companies who use Adwords are having to pay ever-higher click costs to attract ever fewer potential buyers.  While they do that, Google are becoming ever-richer from companies that don’t realise that they’re not benefiting in the ways that they should be.

Multiple contact details options on websites

Customer Service, Website Strategy 1 Comment

Question: Why do you need multiple contact details options on your website?

Answer: Because you’ll lose business without them.

Here’s an example …

A marketing database company made contact by email, offering a huge database of business contacts for an apparently bargain price.   Clicking through to that website (http://www.marketing1.net/uk/) has various bits of information to help encourage people to buy.

However, the world of business contact databases is fraught with poor quality or the inability to drill down to a type of data that’s needed.   In my case I was specifically interested in:

  • Email contact details of website developer/designer or marketing companies.
  • There being a good enough number to make it worth buying the database.
  • Being able to see a small sample of those so that I can see how good the data is.

I know from past experience that other data providers allow you to get an initial view of such a segment of interest and so I’m interested in whether that’s possible in this case.

I go to the Contact page (http://www.marketing1.net/uk/contact.html) and there’s a postal address and phone number.

No email address.

No enquiry form.

There’s a phone number that I could ring but I don’t want to.  I don’t want to enter an in-person relationship yet but I am prepared to have an email dialogue.

So I try to respond to the initial email that came in.  It bounces back.

I give up.   As will other people who need to make conctact to ask specific questions.

IF there had been that option to have dialogue about my data needs then there would have been a £249 sale.

Out of every 100 people who receive the email from them, a small proportion will buy (perhaps 1 in 100 at £249).   If there was the option to have questions answered then that number could rise (perhaps 3 in 100 at £249).

Plucking figures from the air, if they emailed 10,000 companies and got a 1% sales result, that’d equate to £24,900.   A pretty good return you’d think.   However, if they were more customer focused and raised that sales result to 3% then that number from the initial email becomes £74,700.

The difference is in the ability to have dialogue via a range of contact options.  In this case it shows that the company has a lack of understanding of the mindset of those who they’re trying to sell to.

Shame on you, Chris Cardell

SEO, Website Analytics, Website Strategy No Comments

I was recently listening to a recording by Chris Cardell, marketing guru, and I found myself saying out loud (several times), “noooooooo!”

The recording was an interview with a company who had got to a certain position with their business marketing and wanted to get to the next stage.   Here are the abbreviated facts …

  • The company (http://www.oceanbathrooms.com/) get over 10,000 visits to their website each month.
  • They have increased their turnover to double what it used to be (now £390K), helped along by an increase in website visitors to enquiries.
  • They are top of Google for the phrase ‘luxury bathrooms’.

Chris Cardell seemed enthused that the business owner had achieved good levels of traffic through organic SEO and, even though the conversion rate was very low (in the region of 1-2%), his view was that the company should spread their marketing risk (a good idea) by using PPC advertising (a bad idea in this case).

If you have over 10,000 people coming to your website each month and the conversion rate is relatively low, then the worst thing you can do is to send even more traffic to the website – especially traffic that costs money!

From previous client work done I know that PPC phrases related to luxury bathrooms (and component parts of) cost serious amounts per click.   If a company had minimal organic traffic and they were fully confident their website was brilliant then yes, PPC would be an option in this sector.  But if the company has good traffic already and isn’t converting that at a strong enough level, then it’s insanity to consider PPC advertising.

What made it worse was that Chris went on to advise the company to make the PPC advertising visible internationally as well.   An ever-expanding money pit was forming in my mind as I continued to listen to the interview.

It would be fascinating to get a further insight into the website analytics of that bathrooms company – to see exactly which keyword phrase types brought in the most traffic, and how that traffic converted to business.  Not having the luxury of that I have to make some assumptions, which are …


Luxury bathrooms as a keyword phrase

That’s impressive to be top of Google for the phrase ‘luxury bathrooms’ but suppose that’s bringing in a significant number of the 10,000+ visitors that website is getting each month (which is very possible).

People searching on a phrase like ‘luxury bathrooms’ will mostly fall into one of the following camps:

  1. They’re considering having a new bathroom and they’re looking for inspiration, and probably good supplies/installations companies.
  2. They are looking for inspiration and may want certain products to be bought by their local bathroom installer.
  3. They may be doing a DIY job on their own bathroom and so will be receptive to buying from a website such as http://www.oceanbathrooms.com.

In my view, the majority of people are going to fit into the first category and certainly, very few would fall into the third category.

So, you’re interested in luxury bathrooms and you find that website top of Google.  It gives you lots of ideas and you can see many types of bathroom-related products.  Now what?  Most people probably want the work/hassle taken on by someone else and are unlikely to buy directly.  Here’s what’s most likely to happen …

They see bathroom products that look good and they refer their local bathroom installer to them.  That installer has the option to buy from the Ocean Bathrooms website, or get the client to do it directly.  However, they also have the option to find similar products from elsewhere, possibly at a cheaper price and also possibly building in a bit of a kickback for themselves.

The end result: Ocean Bathrooms may gain some business but they may also lose a lot more.

I’d suggest that, from the mindset of most people searching for ‘luxury bathrooms’, if they see products they like the look of then they are willing to be guided in a particular direction.  And that’s where this website falls down on a big opportunity to make more money.  What Ocean Bathrooms should do is research bathroom installers throughout the UK, boiling them down to one or two in each geographic location, who are committed to buy products from Ocean Bathrooms.  Those bathroom installers should be committed to:

    1. Provide an excellent installation and customer care service to the end client.
    2. Pay Ocean Bathrooms a commission on each introduction that becomes a client.

    Ocean Bathrooms then need to create a very visual ‘UK map’ graphic to go into each page of their website, making it very clear that they offer a UK-wide installation service.  The landing page from that graphic contains numerous testimonials and bathroom pictures related to all parts of the country.   The people who land on that page are invited  to make contact to discuss bathroom installation.

      • From the perspective of the ‘luxury bathrooms’ searcher it’s attractive to see not just bathroom products they like, but to be offered installation, wherever they are in the UK.
      • From the perspective of the bathroom installers that Ocean Bathrooms sub-contract to, it’s business for little effort and they only need to pay a fee for each client won.
      • From the perspective of Ocean Bathrooms, more people will buy products and they’ll have the added bonus of kickback payments from the bathroom installers.

      I’ve simplified the whole concept there and it needs a bit more detail, but you get the idea.

      The fact that Chris Cardell didn’t pick up on this issue about that search phrase of ‘luxury bathrooms’ not linking to a strong enough website message, deserves the “shame on you” comment.


      Other keyword phrases

      It’s not just ‘luxury bathrooms’ that brings traffic to the website.  I searched on ‘luxury baths’ and it appeared top of Google.  I navigated down to a page about V&A Limestone Baths (http://www.oceanbathrooms.com/226-v-and-a-limestone-baths) and yes, there’s a good range there but the into page has no reference to prices of each bath.  I’m expected to click on the ‘View’ button to go into each one and even then there’s no pricing.  I have no way of deciding whether the bath is in my budget range.

      As already referred to, even if I did know the pricing, I would still like the option to find an installer (via this website) who could install such a bath properly.  It IS good that they have an option to talk to one of their experts (which some people would do), but with no prices on show, most people won’t make contact for fear of then realising it’s out of their budget range.

      I would really encourage the business owner to be looking at their website analytics, picking out phrases that get most traffic (e.g. ‘luxury baths’) and really think about what stops most people from making contact, having gone down each particular route within the website.

      After identifying issues related to traffic that they do get then start focusing on traffic they don’t get.  For example, they’re not on the first page of Google when I type ‘luxury showers’.


      Analysis is key

      This business owner needs to go back to basics.  I can’t see any immediate evidence that he took the Chris Cardell advice about using PPC (lucky for him if he didn’t) and although the business has clearly pumped a lot of effort into their website, they’ve missed out on the importance of analysis.

      Google Analytics would help a bit but it’s not really man enough to do a proper job of analysis.  They need the ability to look at each individual visitor who typed particular types of keyword phrases, and then analyse their routes through the website until realising where the holes are.  This is exactly what we do for clients on an ongoing basis.

      There are of course, many more missed opportunities than I’ve highlighted here but this blog is already too long and if the business owner was reading this then they’d have plenty to be getting on with.

      So, plenty of good marks to the business owner for having got to where they are and certainly they have Chris Cardell to thank for helping them on their journey (plus a good SEO person).  But shame on you (again) Chris, for seeing a strong level of traffic with a relatively low conversion rate and advising them to go down the PPC route to boost that traffic further.


      In Summary

      Ocean Bathrooms are a company that have the ability to provide bathroom installations at a local level plus supply bathroom products to anyone in the UK and beyond.  It would be extremely easy to significantly boost their income by becoming perceived as a company that can provide installation solutions nationwide.   It’ll be interesting to see if they pick up on this blog and take action accordingly because currently their turnover is painfully low compared to the levels of website traffic they’re gaining.

      100 days left to make 100% improvement

      Website Development, Website Strategy No Comments

      Today marks there being 100 days left of 2011 and it’s probably a good time to reflect on what we’ve all achieved in 2011 to date.

      We all start the New Year full of goals and things to achieve but life being what it is, many goals (both business and personal) don’t work out quite the way we wanted them to.

      So today, I’m calling for a 100% improvement in 100 days.  But 100% of what?

      Being in the web industry, the answer is: elements of website strength.

      No, not necessarily gaining a 100% boost in website traffic (although that could easily be done in 100 days), but one or more things that you can increase by 100%, that are easy to do, and will help.  For example …

      How many testimonials do you have on your website related to specific products or services you provide?   2, 3, 4, more?  Whatever the number is, how easy would it be to boost that number by 100% within the remaining 100 days of 2011?  And how much more impressed would people be to see more testimonials on display?

      Maybe you gain a certain number of enquiries via your website each month … what could you tweak to raise that number by 100%?

      Or perhaps you do the occasional blog, maybe 2 a month.  Would a 100% boost to 4 a  month be potentially good for your online recognition?

      Or maybe you tweet something really useful only a couple of times a week.  Boost that by 100% to 4 times a week and recognition will rise.

      You may have created a couple of videos for your website and so could double up on those.  Or you may have no video at all and so a 100% improvement would be the creation of just one!

      Of course, please feel free to have a bigger goal such as increasing your website enquiries/sales by 100% in the remaining 100 days of 2011.   It’s certainly possible with the right knowledge and mindset (and perhaps a bit of outside help).  However, if you’ve found the first 265 days of the year have left you with many goals not achieved then perhaps it’s best to focus on just a few smaller ones that will improve your website and when you see the results from that, maybe inspire you to do more of the same as routine, rather than working within a targeted number of days.

      Shiny website things

      Website Strategy 2 Comments

      Here’s how the conversations always start ….

      “Wouldn’t it be great if on our website we had …. ?”

      The great thing could be anything that’s new and shiny and that seems cool.  For example:

      • News feed related to your industry
      • Something that translates your website into another language
      • Buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
      • Any number of WordPress widgets

      As humans we like shiny new things.  They make us feel good and so when we find them, it’s tempting to put them onto websites.

      Unfortunately, shiny website things often get added in because there’s a perception that the website isn’t gaining enough enquiries/sales and so the belief is that the addition of whatever is shiny and new is apparently going to solve the problem.

      Wrong!

      While shiny new additions to a website CAN have a beneficial impact, they act like a placebo – making the website owner think that everything is better now.   But the effect of the placebo still wanes when the visitors to enquiries ratio still doesn’t look good.

      Most websites need only a very simple strategy which can best be summarised in 4 points:

      1. Tell people what you offer.
      2. Give them plenty of evidence of what you’ve done.
      3. Show them how you stand out from the competition.
      4. Actively promote the website efficiently and cost-effectively.

      If your website has 500+ genuine visitors (i.e. real people) visiting it each month then without shiny website things your website should be strong enough to attract a reasonable percentage of those visitors into interacting with you.   If you’ve given people plenty of evidence of how good your products or services are then they should have enough to make them want to contact you.   If you haven’t then they won’t contact you.  If your website isn’t getting you results then it’s highly likely that you have missed something out.

      If you went into a cake shop and there were several to choose from but one was made of poo, you’re unlikely to buy that one.   If the poo cake had extra cherries and cake decorations all over (the equivalent of shiny website things) then it would still stink and, although it may attract a few more flies, it would still be a cake of poo.

      Shiny website things are great … when a website is already strong enough to properly capitalise on them.

      Updating News on websites

      Website Strategy No Comments

      It’s surprising how many companies find it to be a challenge to keep the News section of their website updated with news.  A comment often heard is: “we don’t have anything newsworthy to put in there”.

      The downsides to not having updated news on your website are:

      • People think you have nothing positive to say
      • SEO benefits are missed out on

      So let’s look at what ‘News’ could be.  Perhaps:

      • New product/service announcements
      • Awards won/being considered for
      • Landmark events within your business (e.g. just sold widget number 10 Million)

      But such news items aren’t regular occurrences, which is why many companies struggle with updating what they perceive to be ‘news’.

      Looking at what else could be considered ‘news’, how about a monthly update on products/services sold during the previous month?

      We all take for granted the day-to-day work we do and I’d suggest that there’s a danger of keeping achievements hidden, when they could so easily be doing a job of selling your business via your website.

      As an example, the text below could be a news update from a company that makes widgets, who produces a news update on their website just once a month …

      August is typically a quiet month for us but we’ve had our busiest August ever.

      Since expanding our business unit and buying in more widget making equipment back in May, combined with our new website and online marketing, we’ve been increasingly busy.   In the past month alone we have made:

      • 2,500,000 red widgets for ABC Ltd
      • 1,500,000 blue widgets for DEF Ltd
      • 825,000 purple widgets for GHI Ltd
      • 200,000 green widgets for JKL Ltd

      We are also celebrating our first order from Dingobits in Australia, which came from widgets we’d previously provided for one of their subsidiary companies in the UK.  The UK subsidiary were so impressed with the quality of what we produced that they recommended us to the parent company.

      We’ve also launched our new grey widgets for the automotive market and within just 3 weeks had our first sale and this great comment from that new client:

      The quality of these grey widgets is superb.  We had been buying from China, primarily on price, but had issues with returns due to poor quality.  We’re now proud to ‘buy British’ having experienced the great attention to detail that your company provides.

      Dan Booth
      Works Manager
      Big Cars Ltd

      The news update above achieves the following:

      • Awareness that the company is growing in an economic environment that’s declining.
      • Awareness that the widgets company is in demand, based on the numbers of widgets made in the month.
      • Awareness that the company doesn’t just sell to the UK.
      • Awareness that the quality of the products is good (so helps to detract from price-led issues).
      • Awareness that the company launches new products.
      • SEO benefits from linking (underlined words) back to relevant pages, while encouraging people to look at those pages to see more details.

      When you take that concept and replicate it each month, you start to build up a portfolio of company successes which sends out the right message to potential clients.

      Potentially, a company that’s busy enough could create a news update every fortnight or weekly but for most companies, just focusing on a monthly news update should be enough to handle.

      So my question to you is, if you have a News part of your website, could you be doing more with it so that it sends out a stronger message about what you do and have done?  As long as your News section is regularly updated, is easy to find, and you encourage people to look at it, then you will start to see links between those people who have looked at your news pages and the enquiries/sales that you get.

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