Essential Featrures for any Small Business Website

Your Website is the face of your business and an effective tool for generating leads.

It will help consumers discover your products and services, philosophy, and vision.

A poorly designed Website can result in a number of negative consequences, the most negative being a lack of business and sales. In fact, your Website can actually make the difference between your customers converting and moving forward or seeking alternatives, like reaching out to your competition.

With your Website carrying so much importance, the mere thought of building a new Website or re-designing your existing one can be intimidating. In addition to design considerations there are content needs and technical aspects that need to be well thought-out. The following infographic will help you address these considerations so that you can create an effective, efficient Website which will enable you to build your small business in the online marketplace.

Web design for small business. ted360

Engagement Marketing to Attract Customers

Today’s marketers must become stewards of the customer journey, building strong relationships with customers… wherever they are.


Build strong relationships with relevant experiences. - ted360
Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you. Engagement marketing begins when an interested person takes an action to begin an interaction with you.

Engagement means someone is interested in listening to you, and you must engage that person in order to achieve your business objective while fulfilling their interest. As a commercial entity you will implement engagement marketing to drive your interested audience toward one of the following two key business objectives:

  1. Cultivate the individual as an advocate of your thought leadership and market image. Advocates will recommend your products and services enthusiastically to their network of friends and business colleagues.
  2. Encourage a dialogue with the individual to help them to make a purchase decision. An engaged customer is likely to become a loyal repeat customer.

Here are a few tips on engagement marketing to attract customers:

  • Develop an engagement strategy – To be successful you must prepare a clear plan and approach for your engagement marketing. Your plan will have to include how you will reach out to your listeners and how you will be able to respond and interact with your engaged participants.
  • Integrate with your marketing mix – All aspects of your marketing communications mix should include a ‘call to action’ for engagement from simply requesting comments or postings at your blogs or forums to encouraging reviews on your products and services.
  • Focus on content and relationship – Focus on relevant and interesting content as the key to engaging with your audience. Understand that building genuine relationships with content that is important to the individual is the best way to achieving the two key business objectives for engagement marketing.
  • Promote subscriptions – Use permission based techniques to encourage subscriptions with optimised web forms, RSS registrations, refer to a friend and social network sharing.
  • Invite listeners to interact with your Blog – Establish a culture and enthusiasm for engagement by encouraging your listeners to contribute with comments, suggestions and even as guest writers to broaden the points of view and resources available to your connected community.
  • Conduct surveys and polls – Run frequent surveys to give opportunities to initiate engagement while learning from and about your listening community. Use a surveys or web polls to start the dialogue that is relevant to the individual.
  • Engage with social networking – If you have not heard of Facebook, SnapChat or Twitter that are behind the social networking phenomena, you must not waste anymore time, go straight to these sites and understand how these sites that are capturing literally millions of people who are actively engaging on these sites every day. These sites work because social networking communities need to share and want to know what their circle of friends and relatives are up to. Find out how you can leverage the engagement and sharing of your content using these social networks.

Remember, once you have an interested community engaging with you, make sure you keep the lines of communication going, learn and adjust your strategy to ensure your engagement marketing will delivery bottom-line results to your business by increasing your customer base and repeat sales from your engaged customers.

Five mistakes on your Website

Your Website is your company’s virtual storefront.


Digital & mobile solutions for small business. ted360
At its best, it presents your business to current and potential customers, showcases your products and services, and influences – or even facilitates – purchasing decisions.

[source: Tavanberg] But poor information architecture and content strategy can turn clients away. Here are five mistakes you might be making on your Website, and how to fix them.

1. Burying key information

A restaurant’s mission statement and glamour shots of the food might seem like the top priority. But most of the time, people are landing on such sites to find out one of four things: hours, menu, location and contact information. At best, it’s annoying to customers to have to click through several pages to find out if you serve lunch or take reservations. At worst, it might make them give up and go elsewhere.

Fix it: When planning what goes where on your Website, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine the top things they’ll be looking for. This information should go in a prominent place: the home page or even a footer that appears everywhere on your site. (The CN Tower, for instance, has a very basic landing page that gives the majority of visitors exactly what they’re looking for – and lets those who want more click through and explore.) And don’t forget a place to post updates such as holiday hours or seasonal promotions, even if it’s simply a Twitter feed embedded into your site.

2. Forgetting SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, isn’t some dark-magic alchemy that requires a highly paid specialist. At its most basic, it’s simply a matter of having a Website that loads quickly and includes all keywords relevant to your business. If you don’t come up near the top in Google when people search for your company name (and city, if the name isn’t unique enough), you have a problem.

Fix it: There are two key things to think about here: first, ensuring people can find you when they’re specifically searching for you; and second, working toward your site coming up in search results related to your business. Make two corresponding lists of all keyword phrases someone might type into Google to find your business. For instance, if you’re a florist in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, the first list would include your business name together with words such as “hours” and “address,” and the second might include phrases like “Mount Pleasant florist delivery.” Ensure these keywords are included in your site copy in an organic way – i.e., not so it feels like a bot wrote them.

3. Letting information go stale

If you used to be open seven days a week and you’re now closed on Mondays, you’ll have some angry customers venting on social media if they show up to a locked door. And if your site updates are so infrequent that Halloween lasts until the end of November, visitors might wonder if you take your business seriously. As for broken links, they can make for a frustrating online experience.

Fix it: Ideally, have your site built with an easy-to-use content management system, so that a designated member of your staff can quickly update text and photos without having to depend on tech support. And whether you keep yourself organized with a paper calendar or a Web-based task management system, set regular reminders to review the site to ensure that it’s up to date.

4. Favouring flash over function

Auto-play music, animated splash pages and intro videos might have been cute in 2001. But this far into the Internet age, they’re just a distraction keeping people from efficiently finding the information they’re looking for. As for layout, we’re long past the time when the goal was to be mobile-friendly. Nowadays, it’s mobile-first, and if, say, your e-commerce site is clunky on iPhones, you’re likely to be missing out on sales.

Fix it: You don’t have to kill that fancy video – just don’t put it at centre stage, and make sure it works on mobile. Similarly, ensure that your whole site is at least readable on smartphones, and ideally uses a responsive design that sizes itself to browser windows automatically. (In most cases, a separate mobile site with limited information is a bad idea.) And kill anything that auto-plays. No one needs surprise audio blasting from their cubicle at an inopportune time.

5. Being uninformative

A bare-bones site is fine for launch, but at some point, it needs to be filled out with content to draw in customers and help them assess your business. After all, not everyone will take the extra step to contact you with questions. And for companies that might want media exposure, excluding facts such as the city in which they’re based and full names and bios of founders – not to mention, for some kinds of businesses, easy-to-download photos, logos and other resources – might mean getting left out of stories.

Fix it: Build up your site with informative content, be it FAQ pages, behind-the-scenes stories and photos, or profiles of staff. Give potential customers multiple reasons to do business with you, and encourage current customers to stay engaged with meaningful articles that help them feel part of your community.

 

Stand out

Digital solutions for small business. ted360


Get Noticed in Today’s Crowded Marketplace

You can surpass the marketing efforts of your larger counterparts–without spending beyond your means.

[source: Inc Magazine] Although being a small or medium-sized business can feel daunting when compared against bigger, longer-established corporations, there are definitely ways SMBs can still stand on equal footing–maybe even surpassing their larger counterparts–without spending beyond their means.

Donald Chestnut, Global Chief Creative Officer at storytelling agency SapientRazorfish, offers the following 5 specific tips that can help any small or medium-sized business better reach and engage with customers.

1. Analyze and understand the value of innovation
As more and more businesses begin to understand why they need to innovate and how to do it, the next step involves answering the question “What is the value of innovation? And how do I measure it?”

2. Redefine your entire business around operating in a digital world
Rather than simply introducing digital components into physical spaces, organizations must think of the balance that they want to strike between these two realities. Each company will be different and what works for one may not work for another. Think retail, location marketing, etc.

3. Align with the fast-paced evolution of mobility and mobile usage
Consumer mobile behavior continues to go beyond the pure “mobile” aspects of a device. Smartphones and their brethren can (and are expected to) now be used in novel ways to enhance consumers’ surrounding environments and experiences.

4. Evolve the test and learn mentality using new technologies
To keep up with the pace of technological advancement and consumers’ generational distinctions, organizations are evolving the agile structures and thinking that allow them to test and learn faster. In this case, digital and automation act as enablers/facilitators by sitting at the core of these structures and strategies, thereby allowing businesses to remain competitive.

5. Evolve your consumer insights and research to better understand unique journeys
Emotion insights, chatbots (as a testing ground), and artificial intelligence are just some of the evolved methods being used to better understand consumers and design personalized experiences.

 

Never Better

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