Web Builder vs Web Designer

There’s an old adage attributed to copywriter Gary Halbert (1938-2007), “The Prince of Print” that goes like this:

What does it take to have a successful restaurant?

Great location? No.
Superior service? Nope.
Good prices? Nope.
Ambiance? Not even close.
Amazing food? Actually, not even that.

To have a successful restaurant … you need a starving crowd.
Everything else is a means to serve that crowd a little better—to get their attention
and give them what they want.

Your business has its own version of the starving crowd. It’s up to you to figure who’s starving. Or is it?

dog and catHalbert goes on to say that once you know who’s starving, get their attention and give them what they want. If you have a successful business now, you’ve got a pretty good handle on who is picking up what you put down. But guess what? Those starving people can now find you!

New customers, patients, clients, donors, whatever, tell Google their problem, and like magic (not really magic, more like an algorithm) up comes a menu of solutions providers. Often, the list is long, so you want those eyeballs to see your business name right in front of their eyes. Not an easy task! But we’ll get to that later.

So now they found your website and it’s beautiful. They love the look. But they’re still starving because they can’t figure out in the first 3 seconds how you can solve their problem. This is pretty common when you’ve chosen a website builder like Squarespace.

I mean, would you hire me to take photos at your wedding? I’m a whiz on my iPhone camera and have Photoshop, so why not? It’s just the most important day of your life. Well the same thing applies to your website.

There are so many complicated back-end things that go into a beautiful custom website that have nothing to do with design:

  1. Write marketing copy or repurpose existing copy that is intelligently packed with keywords in the right tone and voice for your business.
  2. Build a navigation scheme around that copy that gets attention, raises curiosity, engages visitors so they spend time on your site, and finally, to get a visitor to engage or take action.
  3. Ask questions in order to know you and your business; do exhaustive research on the competition and outline a strategic marketing plan. (Clients often get more out of this process than any other).
  4. Refresh a logo or repurpose images to put your best face forward online.
  5. Implement and integrate SEO, social media, email marketing, blogging, e-commerce, CRM, and more.
  6. Provide for approval a written content document and a static mockup of the site before the actual site building starts.

If you’ve thought about using a website builder, give us a call. We’ll buy you cup of coffee, lay out the pros and cons in a fair and honest way, and give you a chance to really understand your options. If we move forward, great. If not, no hard feelings and you never know what’s down the road. Just saying though, next time, coffee is on you. I like the Flat White at Starbucks.

What Makes a Good Home Page?

You get about 3 seconds to make a great first impression, so the home page must capture the heart and mind of your visitors. If it does, you have another 3 seconds to arouse enough curiosity to compel your visitor to want to know more. The solution to their problem must be obvious—both in words and design. It must work well, on all kinds of devices and for all levels of user expertise.

great Home PageEmotional connection. In the time it takes to make a first impression, a visitor wants answers to 3 questions: 1) who are you? 2) can you solve my problem? and 3) if you can, answer 3 visitor questions: who you are, what you do, and what’s in it for them. Visitors come to your page because they have a problem that needs solved. They are looking for a business or a person or a cause that will satisfy a need and make an emotional connection that motivates them to dive deeper into the site.

Meaningful language. People connect visually, but they also connect through a common language. The home page is not the place for jargon or boasting, and definitely not the place for long paragraphs. Visitors will quickly scan for words and phrases, then buttons or links to learn more.

Respectful. Avoid the use of flashy objects that move, make noise, or complicate or compromise the connection experience. If you offer a video, it’s considered bad manners to auto-start it. Same for audio. Let your visitor decide when or whether to engage in these sensory experiences.

Device friendly. Visitors come to your site on their desktop computer at work, through a tablet at home or in the field, or a smartphone from about anywhere. A site that is not easy to navigate using a mouse or a finger, or can’t adjust to any screen size, lowers the probability that the visitor will stay on your site long enough to solve a problem, make a purchase, or engage at all.

Actionable. Solve problems or offer information that make your visitors’ lives easier, like an obvious or clickable phone number, a sign up form that doesn’t ask for more than an email address, a social media link that actually works. Keep search engines happy too with relevant keywords, a textual site map, and a well-researched and tested page description meta tag.

Your home page gets the bulk of site traffic, making it undoubtedly the most important page of your website. This is where you get visitors to dig deeper. This is where you convert traffic to leads, and leads to customers.

Conversational Commerce

There’s a new term in marketing—Conversational Commerce. The term is an outgrowth of the rise in popularity of social media. Consumers are learning about brands and products on Pinterest and Instagram, and being sold on Facebook and Twitter. This is social media for business. And while it’s free to build a social page, it can take years of sharing updates to build an audience, even when paying to play.

Social MediaThe digital world is getting crowded, and to be seen and heard among a cluttered landscape of messages, photos, and videos you have to disregard the old way of thinking that social media is free and easy to use, to the new reality that you need to pay to promote your posts and updates and increase quality to maintain loyalty.

To get started (or back on track) choose the social sites that give you the best opportunity for an investment return. We’ve listed our top recommendations by Monthly Active Users (source).

Facebook (1.87B). The Facebook platform is forgiving. Editors have plenty of opportunities to edit, delete, hide and rank posts, and specific audiences can be targeted. All businesses, large and small, want a Facebook page in order to interact with their consumers on the go — and because Americans of all demographics are spending more time on Facebook than anywhere else. However, Facebook Messenger (1B) can be considered intrusive.

Pinterest (150M) and Instagram (600M) and Tumblr (550M). If your product or service has a high visual component, these are your go-to channels. Pinterest will have a slightly more mature audience while Instagram appeals to millennials and young people.

Twitter (317M). Unless you are a politician, best-selling author, fan-favorite actor or rock band, Twitter may not provide the payback you want for the time it takes to write one 140-character tweet. Twitter’s growth has stagnated for business users, but it still has over 300 million followers.

LinkedIn (106M). Once the social page for job seekers, Linked-In commercial marketers are there now to build a brand, advertise, publish content, or sponsor someone else’s content.

WhatsApp (1M) is sometimes used by business for customer communication and support, and Snapchat (300M) has been used by business for the occasional scavenger hunt, usually centered on fast food.

YouTube and Google are like salt and pepper. Staples on the dinner table. For video publishing, a YouTube page is a must. The benefit of using Google+ is simple truth: Google search likes it when you play in their sandbox and having a Google+ page helps your business website rank higher in search results.

One of the greatest misunderstandings about social media marketing is that it’s important for businesses to BE on social media. Not true. It’s important for businesses to be ACTIVE on social media. Being active means that you are willing to allocate the people, time, and budget that’s required to manage the “art” of social media interaction and monetize and track its results. Or hire someone who can.