Tips for Creating Successful Small Business Websites

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |Websites for Small Businesses|Tips for Creating Successful Small Business WebsitesThe trick to making a great website is sound planning. This is the case for small personal sites and the websites of large businesses that see hundreds of thousands of visitors per day. Your small business’ website should be set up on the same ethos – with your visibility, find-ability, and navigability in the forefront of your mind as you develop your own corner of the world wide web.

This article features some crucial tips to help you make the most of the opportunities for small businesses brought about by hosting your own site on the global and open-access internet.

Select a Host

First thing’s first; your host will determine the success of your website by providing cheap, reliable and efficient hosting for you and your company’s website. Partnering with reliable hosts means you’re able to focus on the day-to-day of business without worrying about how your site will be appearing on the internet. Use Hosting Foundry to compare and select the hosts that’ll be best-suited to your needs.

Create a Site Map

Your site map is the blueprint of your website. It’s a kind of bird’s eye view that oversees all the pages that you will create, and how they’ll be linked together. Ordinarily, websites will have a set of the following pages, as standard:

  • A home page
  • An about page
  • A contact page
  • A products page
  • A staff/hiring page
  • A press/PR page

Of course, you might find that you require more pages or less, depending on the nature of your website. However, it’s important to remember that website visitors are used to receiving a certain set of information from the sites they browse, meaning your site will feel abnormal if it doesn’t provide this vital information. It might discourage sales if your website isn’t uniform with the high standards of business sites across the web.

Partner with Software

Possibly the most important tip to help you make the most out of your experimentation with web design and site hosting as a small business – software partnerships can truly be the difference between a successful website and an unsuccessful one. Here, you’ll be able to explore a very busy and impressive marketplace of selling solutions to benefit any business, with especially product hosting options for you to promote your goods or payment software that’ll help you process the wide variety of payments that your company will receive.

Modern Design Trends

The world of graphic design and web design is ever-changing, with innovations and creativity making older styles obsolete and boring to the web users who’re frequently browsing hundreds of different websites per week. To be eye-catching and bold, as well as reliable and trustworthy to your consumer, it’s important to strike the right balance here between striking design and ergonomic design. You’ll no doubt be helped in making design-based decisions by the individual or agency you choose to partner with when creating your site; they’ll be able to throw around ideas in a sandbox with you to see what sticks.

Creating a site can be a long journey, but it’s a vital asset in the digital age of commerce. Your small business site can benefit from the tips outlined above, in order to draw traffic and sales into its own online entity.

How to Successfully Rebrand Your Business Through Social Media

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |Rebranding| How to Successfully Rebrand Your Business Through Social MediaYour digital brand is probably the first thing potential customers see. And the chance that the first interaction they ever have with your brand is through social media are very high, considering that nearly eighty percent of the population is said to be on at least one social media network.

You may have moved your original brand identity online, but it isn’t a fit for the new digital world. Or you simply need to update your brand to stay relevant to your target demographic. Here are a few tips on how to successfully rebrand your business through social media.

Have a Plan before You Act

Rebranding is risky, because you’re putting your online reputation at risk. You could compromise the awareness you’re trying to raise if you do it wrong or choose a totally new brand that alienates your core customers.

Know exactly what your end goal is. Decide now what message you want to promote and how it helps you accomplish your goals. Select a brand that matches your new or revised company principles. Test various profiles, taglines and marketing materials to determine what your audience loves and what they hate. Create a step-by-step plan for transitioning to the new brand. Don’t rush the process, or you’re certain to make a mistake.

Stake Your Claim

Before you announce your new brand name, make certain that the domain name and social media handles you want are available. For example, make sure the Twitter handle that matches your new brand name is available before you tell people this is what you’ll be using. The best thing you can do is seize these domains and social media profiles before you do anything else. If the handle is already taken, you can get creative as you try to find a variation that works for you.

Prepare Your Audience

Some members of your community will love the new brand, and others will hate it. Regardless of their opinions of your vision, you need to be transparent with all of your customers. Let your customers know that you’re gearing up for rebranding as it will help minimize the potential backlash. An abrupt overnight change without audience preparation will cause engagement to plummet, and that will hurt your rankings.

A slow, planned transition that is talked about with customers can actually help your company. It may improve your new brand’s recognition, because it allows you to leverage word-of-mouth marketing. One of the ways you can achieve this is by offering sneak peaks. This will pique the interest of everyone else, causing those with privileged information to generate buzz while others will tune in to see the new brand as soon as it is revealed. This is true whether you’re changing your logo, updating your social media profiles, or totally revamping the brand.

Plan for the frequently asked questions before you go live. Don’t leave people with unanswered questions. Take the time to anticipate their needs, create a list of frequently asked questions, and then give them straightforward answers. Explain to people why you’ve decided to rebrand and what the change will mean for your customers, if anything.

It is a good idea to assign someone the job of monitoring social media profiles after launch to address community questions quickly. This can avoid confusion and ensure that correct information gets out to the community. This should be done in addition to blog posts and videos introducing and promoting the new brand.

Create a Consistent New Brand

For the sake of professionalism and consistency, update all of the social media profiles on the same day. Change your domains at the same time. Don’t announce a rebrand and then wait a long time before changing your presentation. Make certain that everything from your website to paid ads to business directory entries follow the new branding scheme.

A branding agency like BrandLume could help you set things up so that it all transforms on the same day. They offer a variety of branding services and will provide clear timelines of what to expect at every stage of the rebranding process. They will do as much or as little as you need them to do so that the project fits your budget as well as your deadlines. And they don’t lock you into long-term contracts, either, though they can handle the social media reaction to your rebranding effort for you as long as you need them to.

Have all of your employees update their biographies too, so that customers know that they’re talking to the right person when seeking help or information. Ensure that everyone is speaking in the new company’s “tone” and following your new branding guide.

Stick with It

When you’ve committed to a new brand, stick with it. Don’t revert back to old posts with the obsolete branding because they generated a lot of activity. Don’t announce a rebranding only to change your mind later.

Avoid vanity engagement at all costs. Stick to your plan, monitor engagement throughout the transition, and address problems as they arise without deviating from the overall plan. Wavering will end up eroding trust in the brand. Be aware of the negative comments and possible loss of some clients. Be consistent in your brand’s new aesthetic, voice and content so that your numbers will start to grow again.

Continue engagement with your followers, too. This increases the odds they’ll stay on board after the rebranding. Keeping up the engagement will also increase the odds newly acquired followers will remain connected to the brand. This could also be a commitment to your new brand, and a focus on building a closer interaction with your core base.

Rebranding can hurt your brand when done incorrectly. However, when done right, it will help your business succeed on social media, give your company a second life, and boost awareness and recognition. Make sure that you take all these points into consideration and also consider working with professionals if you need help.

Designing Your First Business Website

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |Website Design| Designing Your First Business WebsiteWhen you are starting a business, one big cost-saving you can make is setting up a website yourself. This is quite a risky move if you are a beginner but it will get you started sooner rather than later.

As an entrepreneur, it is really important that you start building up your brand awareness as soon as possible. The more you can do to start winning over customers, the easier it will be to launch your business successfully down the line. Your website is the first thing you should do.

Keep Your Design Simple

The first rule of all websites is that your design must be simple and intuitive. While a bespoke website might appeal, there are two main reasons that this is out of your league right now. Firstly, building an intuitive bespoke website is a lot harder than you might think; secondly, unless you are a genius when it comes to development, you are probably out of your depth.

Instead of building a bespoke website, you should choose a ready-made design for a website. This is much easier because a lot of the legwork has already been done and you can customize most designs with your own branding. Having a solid foundation also means that you can look at the website’s usability and decide which design will be best for your customers.

At this stage, you should be building your website in order to give Google a chance to discover your URL and see what your business is about. Please don’t worry about making something perfect. As long as the basics are there, you will have something to work with later on. Many businesses start with a basic website and then move on to something designed by a professional after their first year.

Make Your Branding Stand Out

Your business branding is absolutely essential. This is the first impression you give your customers and must tell them exactly what your business is about and why they will like it. Branding isn’t just about having a cool logo, you also need to think about your company’s name, the imagery you use and the tone of voice.

Some of the best examples of small business branding show that the process of branding a business can also help to refine who you are and what you are doing. This process should clarify the main messages you want to present to your customers as well as to your employees. Take your time at this stage and the rewards will really pay off in the long term.

However, just like your website, your branding can be open to change later on. What you stand for in your first year of business is very likely to change, even if it’s a subtle shift. At the moment, you should be looking for branding that will entice new customers and bring people to your website. You should then use your time to refine your brand, a process which may eventually lead to a complete rebrand later on.

Add a Blog and Start Writing Content

A basic website can be a single page that gives the user everything they need to know and an opportunity to convert. However, this isn’t going to get you very far with the search engines. Adding more pages might be a stretch right now but adding a blog is really simple and posting just once a week can make a big difference.

Every business should have a blog. It’s by far the easiest way to add more keywords to your site, improve your overall SEO and have shareable content at your fingertips when you are struggling for a message to post on social media. Blogs are also a good way to answer questions your customers might have and provide the information they need to convert.

As you write and update your blog, you will gradually find that you have more ideas for pages and be able to see which routes customers take to convert. This is a great way to see what sort of content marketing strategy might work and give you a chance to get to know your audience a little better. Engaging with the people who are most interested in your brand through your blog is a huge compliment and actually listening to their advice is a good idea.

Designing your first website takes time and patience but it is the perfect opportunity to learn more about your brand, pick up some SEO skills and refine your marketing skills. The first year of any business should always be treated as a learning curve. Make the most.

6 Reasons why PPC isn’t Working for You

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |PPC|6 Reasons why PPC isn’t Working for YouWhen everything is done right, PPC can be one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. But when it goes wrong, it can be easy to throw in the towel and blame everything on it. However, while sometimes PPC may not be the best suited for your application, in many cases, failure is caused by errors that could’ve been easily avoided. Let’s take a look at why your campaigns might be failing and some solutions to correct them.

Using the Wrong Settings

Setting up your ads properly is very simple and takes but a few minutes but make mistakes here and the performance of your ads might be seriously affected. The first thing you have to make sure you get right is the campaign type. The type you choose has to be aligned with your goals and will have an influence on where and which types of ads you can display.

The other thing you have to decide is your whether your ads will be displayed on the search network or on both search and display. When your site is on the display network, your ads will show up in AdSense ads featured on websites. Some people like display ads while others want to only have their ads show up when people search for their terms. It’s up to you which one works the best for you. But if you’re new to PPC, we strongly suggest you start with search only as it will be easier to monitor.

Location settings is another thing a lot of people get wrong when they get started. Some people try to cast a wide net to attract the highest number of people, but it’s usually a better idea to target areas that are close to you. Consider using zip codes or GPS coordinates to zero in on specific areas, especially if your service is local by nature.

You should also consider which type of ad rotation you want. Going with default settings isn’t always the best idea. The “optimize for clicks” option will display the ads that have the chance of performing the best based on their previous performance. What it doesn’t compute, however, is that other factors that have absolutely nothing to do with the ad could’ve affected performance. In our experience, the “rotate indefinitely” option is much better for getting clicks and really testing which ads are working the best.

Your Ads are Wrong

In other cases, your ad might be wrong. Maybe the headline isn’t eye-catching. Or there’s no call to action. Or maybe your particular business could benefit from a call only ad where you’ll be able to track phone calls generated and get leads that way.

Creating great ads is an art, and you can’t leave it to chance. Your ads should be relevant, specific, attractive and sometimes even thought-provoking. And you should also make sure that your keyword appears somewhere in the copy. Just making one adjustment could send your click through and conversion rates skyrocketing. If you want to learn how to make great PPC ads, check out this information.

Poor Keyword Research

Your keyword research will be just as important as your ads when creating a campaign. You have to know which keywords are selling and how much you should be willing to pay for them. There are some paid and free tools out there that will allow you to perform some keyword research. Some will allow you to see some of the analytics before having to switch to their paid version. You have to pick words that are cheap enough to get a ROI, have little competition, but still enough traffic to make a difference.

If you’re strapped for cash right now, Google’s Keyword Planner is ok if you’re just getting started. You’ll be able to search for ad group and keyword ideas, see how you can expect them to perform, and start budgeting.

Poor Understanding of Negative Keywords

Some people completely overlook negative keywords either because they don’t think they make an impact or simply don’t understand how they work. Negative keywords are any keywords that could trigger your ads without being related to your service. If you’re running a construction company, for instance, you’d want to filter out words like “jobs”, since many people might be looking for construction jobs. Your ads will not be shown as often, which will reduce the chances of people clicking on them. But you have to be careful with negative keywords as too many could reduce impressions greatly.

You’re Not Targeting the Right Audience

PPC allows you to pinpoint the kind of audience you want to target, and you have to take advantage of this feature if you want to be successful long term. So make sure that you research and truly get to know your audience. Then work on developing campaigns tailor-made for them and push them through whichever step they are in the sales funnel.

Once you know exactly who your audience is, you can go with even more advanced targeting and start looking at demographic targeting options. You could start targeting customer groups that are likely to be in a specific household income range, gender, age group, or parental status.

You Aren’t Tracking your Conversions

Another reason why you may be failing at PPC is that you either don’t monitor or poorly monitor your results. If you don’t test your conversions and constantly test your ads to monitor not only those who get tons of clicks but those who actually turn visitors into sellers, then you’re wasting your time and your money. By using conversion tracking tools, you’ll be able to see which ads, ad groups, keywords, and campaign are converting the best. You’ll also be able to see if changing landing pages could increase your conversion rates and A/B test different landing pages for different ads.

Conclusion

PPC is one of the most efficient and easy to monitor marketing methods you can find online. However, you have to make sure that everything is done properly and that you take the time to test and tweak your strategy until you get the desired results.

Marketing Your Restaurant: 4 Strategy Driven Tips that are Guaranteed to Work

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |Marketing|Marketing Your Restaurant: 4 Strategy Driven Tips that are Guaranteed to WorkThe restaurant business fulfills a need that has to be refilled on a continuous basis, so it is no wonder that it’s a flourishing trade to get involved in. As is common to any lucrative field of business, it’s also an extremely crowded and seemingly saturated market. “Seemingly” being the key word, there is still ample room to have a successful restaurant business anywhere in the US, as long as you fulfil certain criteria.

The most important of those criteria is of course the knowledge and resources necessary to run such an establishment. As you probably have that part covered, we are going to concentrate on the second most important aspect of running a successful business in this sector, which would be marketing.

Utilizing the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Drive Traffic from Social Media

While AI is still in its initial stages, the machine learning process has progressed to a level already, where its application in marketing is beyond what anyone could have ever imagined even just three to five years ago.

So, how do you capitalize on the infinite data collection, organization and targeting abilities of artificial intelligence in marketing? Just visit the Targetable website and they will help you to build AI-driven restaurant ad campaigns in a matter of minutes, which essentially removes the digital ad agencies from the picture altogether.

Targetable offers a one-step solution for almost every aspect of a restaurant’s social media marketing needs with the help of their automated platform, that only requires access to your restaurant’s data and answers to a few relevant questions to better tune the ad campaign.

Facebook and Instagram marketing are a must for the restaurant business these days, and Targetable makes it a superfast and easy process, not to mention, not a single second is wasted as the artificial intelligence eliminates guesswork. Every step you take with them is a strategized one, designed to promote your restaurant to the target audience on social media with pinpoint accuracy.

Get Acquainted with the Popular Food Bloggers in Your Locality

People believe more in what social influencers suggest, than what a highly paid celebrity might endorse. There might still be a few people following only celebrities in everything they do, but the majority of the consumers have become aware and intelligent enough to rely on actual, real life people who have made a reputation for themselves by honestly reviewing restaurants and food in general.
Seek out those social influencers (particularly YouTubers and Instagrammers) and invite them to enjoy food at your restaurant so that they can review it for you. However, as they are not paid endorsements, be prepared for honest reviews. It helps immensely if you make sure that everything is on point before sending them an invitation of course!

Sometimes, it’s just better to ask them in for a free meal, rather than a full-on review of course; you get them to post pictures of themselves, your place and the food they ordered, without too much critical judgement!

Even mediocre ratings by a popular social influencer are part of the strategy we have here, as it will get your business in front of people and provide you with the limelight that the restaurant needs to promote itself.

SEO is Still All-Important

The number of people that search for “good restaurant near me” on Google is pretty huge, so unless your restaurant is search engine optimized properly to show up whenever geographically relevant and potential customers search for a restaurant, you are missing out big time.

Alongside the usual steps for successful SEO which are necessary for the strategy driven marketing campaign we are discussing here, be sure to sign up your business with Google as well. It’s a free process but its importance cannot be stressed enough. When someone looks up your business’s name after seeing a few targeted ads on social media, it should come up registered as a restaurant on top of their SERPs.

Stress on Customer Reception and Experience to Create a Great Reputation

There is no better or more powerful way to promote your restaurant and build a strong following of loyal customers than to treat them well. Concentrate on providing an experience to your customers that they would actually want to have again. Now, this is trickier said than done, because depending on the customer group which you are trying to attract, the approach, menu and theme of the restaurant will have to vary.

For example, family restaurants will likely have customers who will want attention from the waiters almost constantly, while a romantic place will benefit if the waiters give couples as much space as they need in order to feel comfortable. Sports bars on the other hand, are supposed to let people yell, drink, eat and have a great time in general.

The food is an important part of the restaurant business and it has to be at least average to even be considered by anyone, but most people come back to a place because of the reception and service they receive there, more than anything else. They will bring their friends the next time around and post photos on social media too. The list and the chain goes on, with everything working in your favor.
There is actually an online aspect to a restaurant’s reputation as well these days, and it mostly comes down to how you interact with your customer base on social media. The contests, ads and promotions are all fine, but did you tend to that one-star review on Facebook by asking about the issue which the customer had?

It is impossible to please everyone, and some people complain about things that are beyond anyone’s control, but if there are genuine grievances, they need to be addressed in order to save your online and offline reputation.

All of this may seem like a lot, but there’s no getting around it! The restaurant business is a highly profitable trade that you are delving into and as a result, the competition is immense. Nonetheless, as long as you serve good food and keep promoting your restaurant, you are almost guaranteed to break even, sooner rather than later.