Most of us faced this frustrating problem when we first put our businesses on the web. Building and marketing websites for over 10 years has taught me more than I would ever have imagined. The truth is there isn’t a single method to internet marketing that works for everyone. All the books, blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, and magazines you read are keys to the final puzzle, but if you want to strike gold online you’re going to need to be creative. Very creative. The examples used in the article are from a recent website redesign I did for a pest control company.
Let’s focus on the website first.
Everything you do online revolves around your website, this is like your virtual real estate. If your website isn’t easy to navigate and easy on the eyes it is essential to fix this before you move on. If your tech savvy you can throw together a site in a matter of hours. If computers aren’t your strongest skill, stick to hiring a web pro.
The website should be designed for your customer. When your customers visits your website, what are they looking for? In most cases your phone number. Be sure to have this displayed on every page in an easy to find spot (the header works great!) Are you a local business? Customers may also be looking for your address, the footer is a great spot for this.
Is your website mobile friendly? This is no longer optional. Google favors responsive websites and over half the internet uses mobile devices now. You can run a quick check with this handy tool from Google to see if your site works on mobile browsers.
Do you have a description of your products and services? Don’t forget to tell your customer what you do! Breaking your products and services down into individual pages is a great way clean up your website. Having a page with too much information can be hard to read, especially on small screens.
Add some photos! If you don’t have any professional images of your business, hire a photographer. Customers like to see your place of business and products in detail. Stock photos are easy to spot, professional photos help tell your story.
Do you have a clear call to action? As simple as it may seem, sometimes adding a simple “Contact Us” button can convert more visitors into customers. Get creative with it, make people LOL if you can.
Is your design intrusive? The overall design and feel of your website should be minimal. The navigation and styling elements should be subtle, your content should be front and center. People’s eyes tend to wander when viewing a cluttered website, let’s keep it simple. People remember great websites.
Now that you have a spiffy site, let’s focus on driving traffic to it.
Traffic School 101
There are many effective ways to drive traffic to your website, some better for certain businesses than others. We’re not going to go into specifics, but the following are the most important traffic methods you need to know about.
Search Engine Optimization
Probably the most important factor in driving traffic to your site is through search engines. Paid search like Google AdWords is a great way to instantly drive traffic to your site, but can be deemed too costly for a small business owner. Ranking your website organically for your best keywords is extremely tricky in some cases, but is well worth the effort if you can pull it off. In my experience some of my clients were simply lucky and had low competition on the internet, making it easy to obtain that coveted first page ranking. Want to learn more about how exactly SEO works? Search Engine Land has a great guide to get you started.
Over 90% of my clients who own local, service based businesses use paid search as a traffic method. Google AdWords has been my go-to source for years and is arguably the best platform to use. I recommend using a few, usually Bing and Google ads. Paying a Google Partner to manage your ads is best, but doing it yourself has become easier. WordStream is a service that helps you manage your AdWords campaign with little experience. They have additional services where you can talk to an AdWords certified professional to assist you with your campaign if you need additional help. Google offers AdWords training and certification for free if you’re the DIY type of person. All of my clients see an instant return on their investment on paid ads, but this is only because they are well managed and point to a well-designed site. Trying to create ads with no knowledge can cost you a lot of money with minimal results.
Facebook, Twitter and other networks are a very valuable traffic source, but is arguably one of the hardest to do right. The best way to explain social media marketing for business that I have learned is that it is not about directly selling to your customer, because who wants to get sold to? Social media allows you to interact with your customers/prospects and turn them into fans before they become customers. Tell your story, share ideas, be social, and stop selling.
A fairly new face in the online marketing world is remarketing or retargeting ads. When a customer enters your site, they show interest in your service or product. Usually less than 1% of your visitors will take action on the first visit. With remarketing ads you can have your website place a tracking cookie on your visitor’s computer allowing you to deliver them ads in the future. This can be done through many provider like Google AdSense, YouTube, Facebook and more. In my experience remarketing is a must if you are spending time and money on inbound marketing for your website. In some cases I have seen conversion rates go from less than 1% to over 60% just from spending a few hundred dollars a month on remarketing ads. Just because your customer didn’t make a purchase the first time, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future, sometimes they just need a friendly reminded in the form of a banner ad or video 😉
Now that your spending money on traffic, you should be keeping a close eye on it. Analytics can help you determine which of your traffic sources are producing the best results. You’re never going to get it right the first few times, but tracking your efforts and making adjustments to your strategy is the final key to mastering your internet marketing plan. My favorite free tools are Google Analytics and AwStats. If your call to action is a phone call you can even track incoming phone calls from your website. If you are using WordStream for your Google AdWords management, they include phone tracking. If not, Call Rail is an affordable option and is very easy to setup on most websites.
Now that you have a basic understanding of why your website isn’t performing how you’d like, you can set off on your journey to market your business online. The journey is long, and often confusing, but trust me, it’s always worth the effort once you get it right.