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Maximize the impact of your website

Are you planning a new website or maybe a renovation of your existing one?

Awesome. The best metaphor I’ve come up with is to treat your website like a home.

The first question to ask, is it a fixer-upper or do you need something new? If your current site is a WordPress site then it’s more than likely you can call in the digital equivalent to Mike Holmes to get it updated rather than calling the demolition experts and start from scratch.

But if you are going for the complete new site then you really need to think about the process as if you are building a custom home. Specifically you need to think  about:

  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Plumbing

Your site is the home for your business

If you own a car or a home, you may have tooled around with some very basic maintenance tasks – like changing an oil filter or replacing that little chain connecting the toilet handle to the stopper thing at the bottom the tank.

If you’re patient, enjoy what you’re doing, and have the time to learn to do it right – you can figure out a lot of the basic tasks.

But there is a reason those who work in trades are paid well. They have a deeper understanding of how things work and why they need to be done in certain ways.

Beneath the hood of your car, and behind the walls of your house there are hundreds of connections that have to work if the wheels are going to turn and and the water is going to flow.

Mechanics and plumbers understand these connections.

So how does this relate to your website?

Well if you have a great looking site, it doesn’t mean anything if the functionality to help you convert isn’t there. And if your site isn’t properly connected to social media sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc. then your content won’t be flowing efficiently out into the world. In essence if you don’t take into account the architecture, design and plumbing – your site won’t be optimized for success.

So here are the questions everyone needs to ask when looking for a marketing agency to revamp a website:

How is the site going to be built?

Can it “grow” with your business? If you are on a custom design – you won’t have the ability to add in new plugins or extend the functionality as easy as your competitor using WordPress. Are you going to become a victim of “vendor lock”? Is the only person who understands the architecture and coding the person who build it or can you find someone else quickly if they get flakey or get hit by a bus? I can’t say it enough – just use Worpress.

Is it designed for conversion?

A great looking website is fantastic. But don’t mistake looking nice with working well. Make sure that when your site is built, it’s with your customer in mind. Every element is for them  – not you. Give the customers what they need and they will come back. Make sure that you have calls to action EVERYWHERE. Remember , anything that doesn’t push somebody to engage more fully is an obstacle to your success. Eliminate those obstacles in the design.

Are your pipes properly connected?

One of the great things about marketing automation is how well we can integrate content with social media. Creating content that only lives on your website is a wasted opportunity.  It’s never been easier to automatically share your content with LinkedIn, Twitter and FB. I’ve written about automatically recycling your old posts and evergreen webinars. These are the pipes that channel your genius to potential clients on a consistent basis.

Your website is the the “home” of your business. Take care of it. Don’t fall behind in maintenance and be ready to have those dream renos ready to go when you need to expand.

 

 

Extreme Makeover: Web Marketing Edition

Just about everybody understands that having a completely integrated web and social media strategy is important. But for some reason there’s a perception among small business that it costs an arm and a leg to get everything up and running.

It’s true that just a few years back, a website could cost upwards of $10,000. But today you should be able to get something far superior for a lot less.

Great free web tools from WordPress, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter make it easier and more economical than ever to update your web presence.

Just recently I rebranded and relaunched Kurt Shaver’s site The Sales Foundry. Kurt is a professional speaker, I met at the National Speakers Association’s annual convention this past summer in Anaheim.

At the time he had a site that folks generally describe as brochure-ware. Very little interactivity, and no social media integration.

If I were a smarter man, I’d have a screen grab of the “before” to really bring home the improvements in the “after.”

But alas, all I can do is provide a list of some of the new features to demonstrate how you can improve your own online marketing.

First of all, the new site is built using WordPress. It’s a great little content management system that is very easy to customize and is practically designed to feed content to search engines.

The first thing you’ll see on the home page is a set of rotating banners that promote all of Kurt’s services. You’ll also note how prominent the signup is for his monthly newsletter along with the icons for each one of Kurt’s social media pages.

Above each piece of content on every page we have icons to help people share individual pages across various social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Google.

As I’ve stated before – LinkedIn is the most important social media site for business.

And on Kurt’s blog, we’ve replaced the default WordPress comments with Facebook comments to reduce spam and provide another opportunity for people to bring the conversation into the social sphere.

Staying with the blog for a second, we’ve connected the pipes so that whenever Kurt creates a new blog entry, that content is fed out Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn automatically. We used Feedburner for this.

But if someone is interested they can sign up to receive blog postings via email or install a native Android or Blackberry app.

Social media a a great way to let folks share content. But it’s important to have something worth sharing. Here you will see a quiz that allows folks to do a self assessment for the LinkedIn effectiveness.

Again this is a simple WordPress plugin. But it works great.

Other items a lot of folks seem to miss when building a site, that we’ve included:

  • Proper XML sitemap
  • Privacy statement
  • Feedburner RSS feed
  • Copyright
  • Physical address
  • Videos

If you’re in the market for a new site, make sure your coder/marketing person reads this article. You can also fill in this form and l’ll take a look at your site for free and give you some tips over the phone or via Skype. And of course, you can contact me and we can talk about building a site that includes all these features – in just over a month and for much less than you think.