The 5 Whys of Website Traffic

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“If you build it, he will come.” So goes the memorable line from the movie Field of Dreams. Often, this is also what people think when they build a website – “If I build it, customers will come!”

Whether you are a small business, a nonprofit, a consultant, or a creative writer, you might think that having a website will automatically make you visible to potential customers or readers. But is being visible enough to convert website visitors to actual sales?

If your website is the most important part of your online marketing efforts — and yet you find yourself wondering why you don’t get enough traffic or why you just can’t seem to get your website visitors to buy your products, books, or services — it helps to think your way through what you really want your website to do for your potential customers.

Here are five “Whys” you should ask yourself, to determine if your website is meeting the needs of your potential customer, and if it’s making the case for them to buy your product or use your service. Continue reading

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A Few Words about Jargon

In the great sea of online information about how small businesses, nonprofits, and freelancers can use social media to reach more customers, I’ve noticed a troubling thing: most of the information is geared towards people who already know the lingo.

Those who make it their business to write about or teach online marketing need to make sure they’re not excluding professionals who aren’t familiar with the jargon.

Jargon Blog Post ImageImagine walking into your first beginner ballet class and having the instructor say “Alright class, get into first position,” without actually explaining or demonstrating ‘first position’ to newcomers. You’d likely find yourself looking at the other students to see what they’re doing. What if they’re not setting good examples to follow? Continue reading

Why Aren’t We Clicking on the Links You Post?

You spend time creating blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets, and other content on social media. It’s completely understandable to be frustrated when you look at your stats and see that no one is clicking on the links you post.

Why is that happening? You’ve got valuable content just sitting there waiting to be of use to someone.

There may be a very good reason why people aren’t clicking on your links. Here are five possibilities, and how you can address them. Continue reading

My Website Has a Hero Space?

Take a look at the home page of your website, or at the home page of any website you visit regularly – perhaps this website, or your favorite restaurant, etc. What’s the first thing you see?

What you are looking at is frequently referred to as the website’s ‘hero space.’ The hero space is that large section that fills the top of the home page when someone lands on your website. Often, the hero space consists of the single, prominent ‘hero image’ – a graphic that has only a few seconds to influence your visitor into checking out more about you, responding to a call-to-action, or hitting the ‘back’ button to look at a different site.

What is your website doing with its hero space? Are you making the most of it to immediately engage your visitor?

Let’s take a quick look at 6 things to consider when deciding the best way to use your hero space. Continue reading

Get Your Bloggers on the Same Page with a Style Guide

Many companies have several employees who regularly contribute posts to the company blog. But how do you make sure that all of your bloggers are “on the same page” when it comes to frequently used terms, corporate lingo, and tone?

SamePageI copy edit blog posts for several clients, and I recommend the use of a “Brand Style Guide” that can either be distributed to all of the bloggers, or simply used by the copy editor (whose job it is to ensure consistency throughout all of the company’s marketing text – both digital and print).

What goes into the style guide? Here are a few of the things I regularly include for my clients, and which I highly recommend if you want to start setting up a style guide for your own company. Continue reading

More Things I’ve Learned from Recent Podcast Episodes

As I mentioned in last month’s post, I find podcasts to be great not only for fun or inspiration, but also to gain ideas and insights. I listen to podcasts when exercising, eating lunch, or making dinner, also when traveling on long bus trips or flights.podcast_sm

Here are two episodes I listened to recently, along with “my takeaways” from each.

1. The Accidental Creative – Three Tactics for Unleashing Your Best Work, by Todd Henry

My takeaway: Todd Henry notes that the book Getting Things Done, by David Allen, inspired him and helped him become more productive. Henry offers three tactics from the book that can help others become more productive themselves: Continue reading

During a Crisis, Don’t Tweet about Ponies

Small businesses can learn a lot about how to use – or not use – social media during a crisis, simply by observing the mistakes made by major corporations. Let’s look at the following as a case study in how not to use social media during a crisis.

The Crisis

On Friday, December 4, 2015 – one week into holiday shopping season in the United States – three major banks experienced technical glitches that prevented customers from using their credit cards and/or debit cards. Many customers couldn’t pay for purchases, some complained of not being able to pay utility bills, while others weren’t able to withdraw money from their accounts using ATMs.crisis1

The customers of the three banks – PNC, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo – took to social media to try to find out why they could not use their cards, and why their online banking portals reported their accounts as “Unavailable”. On Twitter, rumors surfaced that the banks were hacked. On Facebook, frustrated customers flooded the banks’ timelines with complaints.

The Banks React (eventually)

Although problems began around 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time, it was only around 10:00 a.m. that PNC posted a notice on its Facebook page. Panicked customers had already been posting comments to the PNC timeline’s most recent post – a December 3 promotional post about the PNC Father Son Challenge.

Over on the timeline for the SunTrust Facebook page, a similar situation was happening. SunTrust’s first status update regarding the technical issues was posted around 10:30 a.m., despite dozens of panicked – and pointedly sarcastic – comments by SunTrust customers on the bank’s most recent timeline post offering tips for guilt-free shopping.

Continue reading