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“It’s only a mobile phone! What’s the point in making a website for that? You can’t see much on them anyway? If they’re interested they’ll look at it on their computer.”
What are we talking about? We are talking about how a website looks when someone uses a mobile phone or tablet to view it. Many, many small businesses have not chosen to make their website mobile-friendly, but does it really matter? Do small businesses really need to spend time and money to make a more design-responsive website?
Before making any decision that could cost money, a business is wise to look at whether there is a demand for what they are considering doing, but most importantly, whether it will have a positive, beneficial effect on their business and hence on their profits.
When the first cellphones were introduced back in the mid 1990’s, it was hard to imagine that these heavy, clumsy, over sized ‘portable’ phones would dramatically evolve into a tiny device that fits into the hand and would be capable of letting people instantly communicate verbally and visually globally with one another.
What was once science fiction is very much now science fact. All manner of daily activities are logged, recorded and shared on these devices. And once people had the capability to access the internet on their phone, regardless of where they were, smartphone development really began to accelerate. This portability has led to the rise of the mobile device but the decline in traditional desktop computers sales.
If you still need proof of how popular smartphones and mobile devices are, The Guardian newspaper reported in July 2013 that 90% of all phones sold were smartphones, with over 1.8 billion smartphones in existence at that time. Leading social media site Facebook recognized the importance of being mobile-friendly to its users. Because people were posting details of their lives as they lived them, it was crucial Facebook was able to offer a smooth and easy user experience, which could fit into the portable devices people carried with them. Facebook’s designers claim it can be viewed and used smoothly on around 7,000 different portable devices. The fact that there are so many different mobile devices is mind boggling.
There can be no doubt that if you want your business to prosper, you need to keep up with how people are shopping and where they are going to shop. Gone are the days when most people took time out of their evening or weekend to sit browsing on their desktop computer. People can access the web at anytime and anywhere they can get a mobile signal. It’s no longer about how a site looks; it’s all about speed – how fast they can get the information they are looking for?
People are internet window-shopping whenever they have a spare 5 or 10 minutes waiting for a bus, sitting in their car, on the park bench in their lunch hour or in the coffee shop. They don’t want to look at a pretty site design. They want a responsive site that loads quickly (less than 5 seconds), is easy to navigate around on their small device and a site where it is quick and simple to find the information they want.
That’s easy…just have a look! You may have looked at your site on your computer when your designer first finished it, but that may have been a number of years ago now, before mobile technology really came to the fore. You need to see if you have a responsive web design that will adapt itself seamlessly to the main percentage of mobile gadgets.
Take a look on your own phone, as well as on other mobile devices. Type in your web address and see what comes up. Notice:
If your site isn’t there in full and quickly, then you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, and that can be a big concern for your business. Over 80% of all local searches done on the internet are now done on mobile devices. Almost 50% of 18-25 year old website visitors consider their mobile phone as their primary computer, and that number will only go up, not down, as children grow up with more advanced technology. So if your customer is looking for you, the response of your website to their mobile device will determine whether or not they even browse your site.
There is no need to panic just yet. There is nothing here that can’t be changed or improved upon. Here are some really useful tips to consider when looking to make your website more mobile-friendly:
It might seem an obvious thing, but it is sometimes overlooked. There is no point creating a mobile site if nobody goes to it. When someone types in your web address on a mobile device, they don’t use a separate mobile URL. It’s the same one as your main website. So make sure your server is set up to recognise mobile devices and to automatically direct them through to the mobile version.
It’s pointless creating a mobile site if you cram it so full of content that the user has to wade through screen after screen of text to try and pick out what they want. Because your information is being viewed on a much smaller screen, realistically you can’t add all the in depth information you would have on a site viewed on a computer.
Your visitor hasn’t come to your site to learn more about you. They are there because they want something specific – your address, contact number or a product. So don’t cram each small page with as much text as you can get on, but add less (but more relevant) information to your mobile site in a condensed form. You want to make your visitor work less, not more, to find what they are looking for. If there is something that needs further explanation, like a full product description, then don’t be afraid to add in a link back to your full site.
It’s not just the content on your site that needs to be trimmed down. You need to look at simplifying how your visitor navigates around the mobile site. No-one wants to have to click here, then there, swipe and scroll and click again just to find your telephone number. Consider why visitors will use your mobile site and then put useful information within easy reach and the minimum of clicks.
The way your navigation looks is also important. Users want to be able to scan the home screen and immediately see where they need to be to get what they want. So keep your navigation clear and concise – don’t hide your navigation behind images. It is too confusing especially when they don’t have the roll over or hover features. It may look great on your main site, but it will annoy, frustrate and finally put off many visitors through the lack of friendly usability.
The rule to remember is mobile users have less time to talk and want to use that time to get the information they want and go. They certainly don’t want to have to fill out a 20 field opt-in form just to get a little information. The more fields a user has to fill out, the more unhappy they become.
When you need information from your mobile visitor, make sure you only add fields that are ABSOLUTELY necessary, and not what type of movies they like or whether they drink a brand of cola. You will engage your visitor more by giving them what they want quickly than by getting them to give you non-essential information.
Just because your mobile site is going to be viewed on a small screen doesn’t mean you have to leave out the most important thing – Your Brand Identity! When someone comes to your site, whether it’s the mobile site or your full website, they should be able to identify it immediately as yours. So use your corporate colors and logo together with your brand style on both sites so your visitor is confident both sites belong to the same company – yours!
How many times have you tried to tap the screen on your phone and missed the tiny button you were aiming at? Fingers come in all shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t expect a 6 foot 3 inch wrestler to have delicate slender fingers.
You may not be able to give people the option to change the size of button, but you can increase the button size to ensure visitors have a much easier time selecting the button they want.
The other thing you need to make bigger is the font size. It might seem logical that because you are using a smaller device, the text should be smaller too. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Because everything is being scaled down, you need to increase the size of font, otherwise your content will be unreadable. But this can work to an advantage. You can highlight features or areas of the screen by the selective use of color and larger, bolder fonts to pick out certain words and help the user understand the page more quickly.
It is easy to assume that visitors to your mobile site come there for exactly the same reasons as visitors to your mobile site, and so you arrange your site information in the same way. But is that actually the most likely explanation?
Visitors using a computer at home do not necessarily want the same thing as someone who visits your site on a mobile device. If someone local to your business is visiting your mobile site, they are most likely away from home using their mobile device because they want to know something more physical about your company. They could want to know your address or what hours you are open so they can make a personal visit. Or they may wish to contact you to make a booking or ask a question. They may even want to know what services you provide.
Whatever you eventually decide are the reasons someone would use your mobile site, make sure those pieces of information about your business are some of the first things that they can see and access.
Once you have made all the adjustments and changes to your mobile site, don’t forget to check everything works. Just because you can see your click-to-call function pops up, it doesn’t automatically follow that it will connect to your number. So check every pop-up, link and interactive function to ensure not only that they work, but that they work the way you want them to. Nothing is so frustrating to your potential customers as something that doesn’t work.
The whole aim of making your website more mobile-friendly is to increase the positive experience of your users. If people can come to your site and get the information they need quickly and easily, they will return back the next time confident that you have what they want.
Very few mobile browsers return to a site that is slow to load, complicated or makes them spend ages hunting down what they need. There are plenty of other businesses that do have mobile-friendly sites and they will move on to those sites without a backward glance.
By putting these guidelines into practice, you can make your user’s experience a positive one for them and a profitable one for you.
Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are excellent ways to keep in touch and engage with your customers. However, because of their success many people claim that email marketing is dead and no longer relevant.
Don’t listen to them, as nothing could be further away from the truth. Email marketing is alive and well and is still one of the most powerful and effective methods of online marketing and for keeping in touch with your customers.
First let’s establish what email marketing is and then show you why it is so effective in business.
Email marketing is when a visitor comes to your website and subscribes to your mailing list, which allows you to keep in touch with them via email. Having a mailing list such as this is essential if you are selling a product or service. Email marketing allows you to establish customer loyalty, trust and brand awareness, and encourages your subscribers to buy from you more often.
As you can see, it has many benefits. It is a powerful marketing tool but unfortunately, email marketing seems to have a bad reputation with some businesses, who don’t fully understand it.
Some companies think if people see an email that isn’t’t from someone they know, they will immediately consider it spam and delete it, and then think badly about their business.
While this may be true in some cases, (mainly because companies haven’t take the time to nurture their list), with responsible marketing you can make email marketing campaign work extremely well for your business.
Email marketing versus social media marketing
As we mentioned earlier, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways to engage with both potential and existing clients. They are perfect platforms for word of mouth advertising, strengthening the relationship with your existing audience and putting you in front of a brand new audience.
Both of these things are essential to your business. However, you don’t have much control over who sees your updates or even when they see them.
Not only that, but you are not fully in control of these connections, as Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter are constantly making changes without warning that could impact the way you connect with your followers.
Social media is important but it doesn’t give you the ability to contact people one-on-one the way you can with emails. With email marketing you are able to fine tune your promotional campaigns and build a list of people who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
With Twitter for example, your message is competing with hundreds or even thousands of other Tweets from companies promoting similar products or services to yours. The same is true on Facebook.
Even if you have thousands of fans, they probably follow lots of other pages as well, which dilutes your message. Yes, the same can be said about emails but if you send a personalized email and they open and read the email you will have their undivided attention even if it is just for a few minutes. There are too many distractions on social networks with chat options, latest status updates, new photos to see and so on.
That is why it is so important to try and convert your followers to your email marketing list as early as you can. Once you do it puts you in full control because they are now YOUR contacts. The only way you will lose them is if they decide to unsubscribe from your list.
How do you get your social network followers to join your list?
It is not hard to do. You simply have to give them a reason. For example you can offer them something in exchange for their email address.
It could be a special report, a how-to guide, an answer that addresses a particular problem or issue that your audience cares about, exclusive VIP information or some kind of special discount or voucher especially for your email subscribers.
You need to choose something that has immediate value to your subscribers, as well as something relevant to your target audience.
It doesn’t end there though. In fact that is just the beginning because if you want to keep your list active and not lose these valuable contacts, you need to think about how you can consistently deliver information that continues to keep them engaged and makes them want to open the email from you.
Treat your email subscribers like royalty
Customers who visit your offline business or who speak to you on the telephone expect to be treated special and rightly so. No doubt you are well known for excellent customer service and provide a great buying experience when you see your customers face-to-face. You need to apply this same experience to your email marketing list.
When somebody takes the step to subscribe and trust you with his or her email address they are in effect saying “I like what you offer and would like to get to know you better”.
They have invited you into their email in-box. You would never want to abuse that trust and relationship by bombarding them with sales pitches that constantly promote your products and services. You need to nurture your list. Be informative and helpful, as well as sending offers or news that you think they will want to know about.
Try not to view your mailing list as a mass of faceless names. Imagine your ideal kind of customer and talk to them one to one, as if they were in front of you.
It will help make your emails more personal and informative which will strengthen the relationship you have with them.
Create a newsletter
A newsletter is an ideal way to keep in touch with your mailing list. It provides the perfect mix of news, updates, special offers and information about your business to create engagement with subscribers and allows them to get to know you better. It is also an excellent way to encourage calls to action, perhaps with time limited offers for example.
The key is to provide relevant information that your ideal customers would like to read. Be sure not to bore them to death. It needs to be interesting and passionate.
Build a strong connection with your subscribers
Over time the connection between you and your subscribers will grow. This increases the loyalty they have to your business and will result not only in increased sales and profits but will also give you many other benefits. It will provide your company with new opportunities, referrals and mutually beneficial collaborations as well as gaining brand new and repeat customers.
An email list provides your business with repeat business
In the offline world you might decide to place an advert in your local press or invest in flyers or other advertising media.
The chances are, if enough people see your advert you will get some new customers.
With an email list, you have the opportunity to nurture and bond with your subscribers, so long term you end up with, loyal customers who will buy from you time after time.
Email marketing is one of the most powerful strategies for building a large core of new customers online in addition to your regular local customers in your bricks and mortar business.
Once you realize the power of sending out emails that result in creating extra sales and leads, you will soon be able to build a marketing campaign that becomes more profitable than the one before.
It is one of the cheapest most effective forms of advertising
Email marketing is still one of the most cost effective ways to promote any business. Over time you will be able to build up a mailing list with thousands of potential customers who are interested enough in what you have to offer to trust you with their email address.
You can communicate with these subscribers absolutely free and every time you send an email out it will result in many more sales. All for free.
Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing
As you can see email marketing is far from dead or obsolete.
Email marketing allows you more control over the message, including when it goes out and who sees it. Not only that but subscribers have made the active decision to give you permission to contact them which means that they are very interested in what you have to offer.
This gives you the opportunity to build a strong relationship with them. It is this relationship that gives you the power because people do business with people.
If you have looked after your list well they will have grown to like and trust you. In the end you will stand a much better chance of getting the sale than your competitors.
Now that you can see the power of a successful email marketing campaign we hope it encourages you to create campaigns of your own and continue to build a stronger relationship with your online customers.
Creating a successful email marketing campaign and building a relationship with customers who have entrusted you with their email address is a huge but very rewarding responsibility.
Done properly, you will see your profits soar. Done badly and not only will you see your sales decrease, but you could also damage your brand.
If you have any doubt whatsoever or simply want some advice on the best strategies for email marketing please contact us. You will be pleased you sought our advice and we will be able guide your business to a very profitable future. We look forward to hearing from you.
Make it interesting
Be sure to include lots of useful information in your messages. You must make it interesting. Don’t just send out sales pitches or make it just about you. Include information that is genuinely useful and interesting to your target audience or unique special offers that are not available to elsewhere on your site. If your subscribers feel you are only sending emails because you want sales from them, they won’t feel valued or special and they will hit the delete button, unsubscribe from your list or not bother reading your emails any more.
Have a visible link where the person can unsubscribe if they want to
This might sound negative but it is actually a positive thing. It puts your readers at ease because they feel they have control and are not being forced into anything. By law you must have an unsubscribe link in your email. If you try to hide it all you will do is frustrate and anger your subscribers, which is completely the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve.
Receiving feedback from your readers is essential to strengthen the relationship you have with them, and for enhancing your email marketing projects. You can actively ask for feedback, opinions or suggestions from your readers. You can also get passive feedback by using email marketing programs, which track information like how many people open up your emails, or clicked on the links contained in them. All of this feedback is useful to help constantly improve and engage with your readers more.
Target the right people
This is good old common sense. If you bug the wrong customers with your emails all you will achieve is annoyance on their part. It is a waste of time for both you and them. You are better off fine-tuning your campaigns to an audience who actually want to hear from you.
Make the messages mobile friendly
More and more of your customers now access their emails on their mobiles or tablets so it is important your emails are correctly formatted to be sure they can be easily read.
Create exclusive offers just for subscribers of your mailing list
Nothing tells subscribers you appreciate them more for allowing you to contact them than by sending an exclusive special offer that can’t be found anywhere else on your website. These can be discounts, free delivery or any other deal you think would encourage more customers to buy.
All of these suggestions will help you to have a smoother and more successful email marketing campaign.