Everyone has a different focus and different ideas about what makes a good website. No question about it. And no one website can appeal to every visitor. I get that. But there are some basic principles of online marketing that get overlooked way too often by web designers, copywriters, and SEOs. Here are just four shockingly obvious ones.
1. Don't have a self-centered website
The saying "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" is not always true; in technical circles with high barriers to entry and where your résumé matters more than your attitude, you can safely ignore this idea. However, the job of your online marketing campaign is to lower barriers to entry and bring in as many people as possible: inclusive, not exclusive. You want qualified leads, to be sure, but it doesn't take much convincing for you to be willing to do business with someone.
Why does this matter? Well, instead of making your online presence all about your accomplishments, services, and even personal details, it must be all about solutions to problems that your customer has. If you make your marketing website all about you, no one will be interested (see How to Win Friends and Influence People). Now, this poses an interesting problem, because, obviously, your website really is all about you. That's why it's there, to tell people what you can do, who you are, and how and when they can contact you. Here's the difference between a self-indulgent website that will turn people away, and a customer-focused website: empathy. Customer-centered websites help them put their finger on the problem, and offer the solution. Self-centered websites tell the customer all about what you can do without mentioning them or empathizing with their problems. Self-centered marketing websites have their contact information and pleas to "Call Now!" all over the place. Customer-centered marketing websites make this information easy to find, but without begging for business.
Customers don't buy years of experience, great products, or interesting About Us pages. Customers are in it exclusively for #1. Customers buy benefits. If you don't believe me, think about what you are doing next time you are shopping online. Did you go to the About Us page or the Store portion of Amazon? Do you read the vendors' profile or the product description?
2. Ads for marketing websites don't work
There have been whole books written about this, but it's really not that hard to believe. No one clicks on ads. No one clicks on sidebar ads, the ads that are embedded in the page, or banner ads. No one clicks on pop-up ads or slide-in ads (other than on the tiny X in the corner). No one clicks on sponsored posts on Facebook or sponsored tweets and no one uses sponsored hashtags on Twitter (#wasteofmoney). No one clicks on ads in their Google search results. We are bombarded with advertisements every day, so we learn to tune them out. I even have a promise to myself that I will never buy from anyone who advertises on TV or radio. We know what these advertisers want: our hard-earned cash. And the fact that they think we'll give them our precious time so they can ask for our money too is just unbelievable.
The bottom line: don't pay to play. At Common Sense Web Marketing, we pride ourselves on getting our customers' website high in the organic search results without them having to pay for placement, ads, or pay-per-click campaigns which are expensive and unproductive. That leads us to our next point.3. SEO is king!
I can't tell you how many of our customers come to us with a homemade or sometimes even professional marketing website already in hand. Why don't they just stick with that? They aren't getting found! To most web development companies, SEO is an afterthought. They'll throw together a stock drag-and-drop website that looks like a thousand others on the web (and that you just as easily could have built yourself), make you write all the content yourself, charge you a large one-time fee, then move on to the next customer and forget about you (except once a year when it's time to pay your domain and hosting fees). This model of marketing website development inevitably fails because a website is useless unless potential customers can find it.
At Common Sense Web Marketing, we use a proprietary system that is built for SEO first. We use cutting-edge SEO techniques to help our customers and their businesses reach their goals. We get your site out in front of everyone. We give you a unique and attractive marketing website. Our team of content writers are professionals who understand the principles of good SEO and conversion-oriented content. No more writing it yourself! We also add new content twice a year to keep your website "active" in the eyes of the search engines.
Off-site SEO is as important as on-site SEO. When we need to point a lot of links at a website fast, we use freearticlesubmission.org, which helps us find the Best article submission sites.
4. Your marketing website should be aimed at conversion
There are a lot of websites out there that are not commerce-oriented. Information websites such as Wikipedia or CNN for example. This, however, is not the case for your small business's website. Or, at least, I hope it isn't. If you have a website and all that is on it is basic information about your company such as its name, contact information, and maybe some information about you personally, you aren't going to convert any more customers than your competitor does.
The Internet can be a scary place, full of new and unknown experiences. Every time I have to look up a new product or service, especially if it's a small local business, I'll have to go to their website and learn their unique navigation system and website layout. All this while on a gold prospecting expedition to find the information I need, and avoid entering my email address at all costs! The last thing I want to do is scour the entire website and find nothing of interest. Have compassion on your visitors. Take them by the hand and guide them effortlessly through the process of deciding if your service is right for them and why they should hire you, not your competitor. Their mental strain will be reduced and they will reward you for that with a sale. At Common Sense Web Marketing, we have this conversion process refined and ready to implement on your new marketing website with us!Conclusion
There are many other important principles that get overlooked, but this is a very high-level view of the four biggest ones in my opinion, and the four that we tend to focus on here at Common Sense Web Marketing. If you see some of these principles being ignored by your website guy, or you want a free evaluation of your how well your website conforms, give us a call!
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