In all my years of working with web design, advertising, and internet marketing, I have yet to come across the perfect layout, strategy, or sales funnel. Some have been very good, and have worked out magnificently; others had gotten off to a shaky start before results began to improve. In every case, though, a bit of review, analysis, and course-correction
I mention that here because, despite all the great advice you’ll find in these articles, you should expect that you’re going to make some mistakes when putting together your website and internet marketing plan. Or, even if you get everything right, there’s going to be an unexpected development that will throw you off track. A new social media trend will rise, Ad prices will jump up, or a competitor will appear in your rearview mirror. These are all things that happen, and you should prepare.
Whenever they do, I want you to remember one of the recurring themes in this book: that the so-called “problems” associated with finding customers over the internet also create opportunities. When one marketer is struggling to find an answer, there is another who is taking advantage of the new rules or situation. The only question is which side of the field you will stand?
With that in mind, I want to spend this final chapter giving you a few pieces of good advice you can use to keep refining and improving your online sales funnel as you go forward…
Use Your Web Analytics to Get Better
At the risk of beating this point into the ground, I want to stress once more that the answers to most of the questions you’ll confront in the world of internet marketing can be found in your web analytics package. The stats, figures, and graphs provided by your website don’t just amount to trivia – they tell you exactly how real-life potential customers have been interacting with your website. That’s firsthand information delivered with great precision.
Some details are obviously more important than others. For instance, you’ll want to know what your biggest traffic sources are, how many visitors you have coming to your website, and how long they are spending on each page. By seeing which pieces of content are most popular, and where visitors are leaving your website, you can get a sense for which ideas and offers aren’t working. These are examples of straightforward web analytics that can give you instant feedback.
Those are all descriptive pieces of information, however. To find real insight and advantages, you sometimes have to read between the lines. You’ll want to figure out which search terms aren’t just generating the most traffic, but the most conversions. You might look for relationships between lead generation and the time of day, week, or month. You could discover that you need to expand your content on one page or trim it back on another.
Don’t forget, as well, that you can use your web analytics to do things like split-test landing pages to see which headlines or offers get bigger results, track incoming phone calls so you can trace the effectiveness of your campaigns, and turn different ads or offers on and off. In other words, you can ask yourself important questions about what might be working or not working on your website and then find real, measurable answers.
I could fill an entire book with strategies related to web analytics. But most business owners wouldn’t bother to read it, much less use it. So instead, I’m going to encourage you to log in to your analytics software and take a look around for 20 minutes or so each week. And once every month or two, visit with your web design team and ask them what they are seeing.
The best way to conclude your analytics is to become familiar with them. Then, you can sort through the noise to see what matters and find areas for improvement.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in a Single Basket
Most business owners are busy, busy people. They don’t always have the time to learn new skills or experiment with fresh strategies. That can make them more efficient in the short term, but (at least in the world of internet marketing) turn out to be a real liability over the span of months or years.
You see this constantly when it comes to their choices of marketing priorities. Someone who built their business on getting web traffic with lots of keywords and links will be very hesitant to move away from that or to shift part of their budget from content creation to pay-per-click advertising. Or, the business owner who has amassed many sales from Google AdWords may be reluctant to try Facebook’s PPC platform.
There is an advantage to sticking with what you know, but there are also huge risks. When Google introduced Quality Scores, for example, thousands and thousands of small business owners who had been relying on cheap PPC ads were upended overnight. The Penguin and Panda updates that have been so studied and analyzed bankrupted many online retailers, local service companies, and SEO consulting firms. The rise of local search visibility has meant great things for some Main Street shops, while effectively putting some retailers out of business. New laws around email newsletters killed off the biggest source of revenue for thousands of companies worldwide.
I could go on, but the point I’m driving at here is that nothing is forever on the web. It wasn’t that long ago that AOL and MySpace were market leaders. Now they are footnotes and afterthoughts. For all the dominance that Google, Apple, and other technology firms have on the market right now, you can bet entrepreneurs are working in basements and garages that would like to give them a run for their money.
Never, ever be dependent on any single source of traffic, profits, or sales opportunities. Always be willing to diversify, experiment, and test new ideas. You should put the bulk of your time and money into activities and campaigns that have shown success in the past, but never be so tied to them that your business couldn’t function otherwise.
The last thing you want to do is get caught in a losing situation. Of course, that’s unlikely to happen if you are keeping a close eye on the internet marketing world.
Stay on Top of the Latest Online Marketing Trends
While some of the trends I’ve outlined in these articles have been forming for years, many of them have only started to take shape within the last several months. It wasn’t until late in 2016, for example, that many search engine optimization experts discovered just how prevalent a role artificial intelligence would be playing in Google’s formulations going forward. In the same way, social engagement formulas took on a whole new level of meaning as election news, and political posts started flooding users’ feeds, causing joy for some and annoyance for others.
These kinds of changes are going to keep happening. They may even accelerate. And so, even though we can point out some of the broad strokes with a degree of certainty, it’s much harder to put the finger on the exact ideas or best practices that are going to matter the most when you look out several months or years into the future. We know that creating content and a strong social following are going to be more important than ever and that mobile devices aren’t going anywhere. But when it comes to attracting search visits from digital assistants or the way Google might tweak its formula for local results, things get murkier.
As a business owner, you can’t be expected to stay on top of every detail and debate related to web design and internet marketing. What you can do, though, is be aware of the principles I’ve given you in these chapters, and to look for the broad strokes that will affect your company in big ways.
One way to do that is by scanning headlines related to internet marketing from time to time. Even if you don’t read many of the pieces, looking at the titles will give you a sense of what people in our industry are thinking. You can also pay attention to what’s working on your website, and the kinds of things you hear from your customers. After all, the advice is useless unless it applies to your situation, so it makes sense to keep an ear to the ground in your market.
And finally, don’t discount the value of having a partner who can stay on top of the details and look out for your interests. In fact, that brings me right to the next point…
Get Good Help and Advice
I can tell you from experience that even within the internet marketing industry it’s hard to stay on top of everything. There’s always breaking news, fresh opinions, or an alternative case study to review. The advice we get and give to each other as experts isn’t just shifting; it’s sometimes contradictory. The only way to stay on top of things is to get good at filtering out facts or misinformation and seeing how new concepts apply to specific challenges.
Knowing that it’s tough for me to keep my arms around the constant tsunami of data that is coming my way, I can’t imagine what it’s like for a business owner who also has an entirely different company to run. Trying to figure out the best way to stay on top of search engines, social media sites, advertising platforms, email providers, and reputation management services would be like trying to drink from a fire hose. I’m sure there are owners and executives who manage it, but I don’t know many that can keep up.
Self-serving as it might seem, my last piece of advice is to get help from someone who can keep a closer eye on the web than you can. Work with a creative team that has the right experience and credentials can apply what they know to your business environment, and genuinely wants to see you succeed.
This last point is an important one. There are lots and lots of vendors out there who have the technical knowledge needed to help you with the basics of web design, development, and marketing. But if they aren’t invested in seeing your bottom line growth for the long term, then they aren’t ever going to give you the attention and service you deserve.
The best creative teams will get to know you, and grow their relationship with you over time. They won’t just care about where you rank on Google; they’ll also want to know where your business is going, why certain things are and aren’t working, and what they can do to help. They will look after your website, keep an eye on your web analytics, and stay in touch with you, so you don’t read about a big change that will affect your business on the news.
Getting that kind of help costs money, of course, but it can be invaluable. Your focus should be on running your company. Find someone who can help you execute your plan on the website end of things, and you’ll improve your sales while decreasing your stress all at once.
The Real Secret to Internet Marketing Today
Sometimes, business owners come to me wanting to know the “real secret” of internet marketing. When I start to explain the kinds of concepts found in this 10-part series, they get impatient and want me to skip ahead to the bit that no one knows.
That’s understandable, so I’m going to share that secret right now: It’s the way all of these different concepts and practices work together.
I guess you could say that isn’t a secret at all, but it’s the truth.
If your website doesn’t have a job, then it just sits online doing nothing for you. If you don’t create a sales funnel, then conversions are going to be few and far between. Without good and consistent efforts to attract the right kinds of customers, your sales funnel will be useless. If you have no online reputation or a bad one, then prospects are going to leave your sales to funnel instead of contacting you. I could go on even further with the connections that have to be made, but hopefully, you get the idea.
This is truer now than ever been before. You can’t just get by with a good SEO campaign or set of PPC ads. You have to have a social presence, a highly usable website with mobile functionality, and a strong email campaign that keeps your business in front of buyers. The more things you skip, ignore, or minimize, the harder it gets to generate real results.
Generating conversions from your website is the name of the game. If you aren’t doing that, then your business isn’t as efficient as it could be. In fact, it might be a sign that you’re on your way out of business altogether. In these articles, I’ve given you a proven plan for growing your business online. Now it’s up to you to take that knowledge, put the pieces together, and make this year your best one ever.
Are You Ready to Make the Most of Your Website?
Whether you’ve been staying on top of the latest internet marketing trends for years or have some catching up to do, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this series. I’ve tried to give practical, straightforward advice, but the fact of the matter is that the way we find customers on the web and convert them into buyers has changed significantly. Savvy business owners are adjusting, while the rest wonder why they can’t seem to generate any traction.
The question I want you to ask yourself now is: Are you serious about making the most of your website moving forward?
If so, there are a couple of things you can do right away. The first is to review these articles, highlighting them as needed so that you can internalize the core concepts. Give yourself a few minutes a week to browse through the headings and subheadings again, reinforcing what you learned.
The second important step you can take is to reach out to WebWize and schedule a free website consultation.
In the first article, I advised you to find your perfect customer, come up with a way to share the information they need, and then offer a clear call to action that benefits both parties. I expect you won’t be surprised that I want to do the same thing right now.
You certainly could use the advice I’ve given you on your own, or with another creative partner. However, if you are serious about profiting from these ideas and turning your website into a source of new sales opportunities, then why not work with a team of committed professionals who can guide you to success for years to come?
Just like this series of articles, our work is built on an understanding of the internet, a study of the best practices in our field, and many years of trial and error. We’ve proven again and again we don’t just build great websites, but help our clients to reach a wider audience while keeping costs under control.
We are currently at a tipping point when it comes to internet marketing. Although some businesses have been able to get by while doing the bare minimum or to run inefficient online marketing campaigns, that’s getting harder to do. The competition online is simply too intense, and a smaller number of companies see the biggest gains.
It is my sincere wish to see you come out as one of the winners in the coming few years. I’m doing all I can to position my clients for success in a changing market, and I’d love to have the opportunity to talk with you and see if my approach aligns with the goals you set for your business. The next few years are going to be big for small businesses on the web, and it can be a great one for you, too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this 10-part series and found it to be a useful guide for growing your business. Even more, I hope for the chance to meet with you and work with your company soon. Best wishes, and thanks for reading!
10-Point Strategy Guide to Small Business Website Design and Internet Marketing is a ten part Blog series by Founder and Owner of WebWize, Inc., Glenn Brooks.
Glenn has been part of the website design and development industry since 1994, over two decades. Before WebWize he spent more than 15 years in the Advertising, Marketing, and Print Industries. Don't miss this opportunity!
10 Part Strategy Series TOC
Strategy #1: Give Your Website a Job
Strategy #2: Emphasize Website Performance and UX
Strategy #3: Build a Sales Funnel for Bottom-Line Growth
Strategy #4: Understand the New Age of Search Engine Optimization
Strategy #5: Make Your PPC Campaigns as Efficient as Possible
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