5 reasons why you should add visuals to your marketing.

woman pointing to the 5th of 5 yellow stars to signify successful marketing

We know that social media posts with visuals outperform text-only posts. 

But visuals enhance other forms of marketing as well. As visual creatures, we enjoy reading or skimming material which contains graphics and images.

In fact, according to this post in Polls Everywhere, visuals increase the desire to read content by 80%. With a reach like that, can you afford NOT to use visuals in your marketing? Hardly.

Get Creative.

Smart marketers employ a variety of different types of visuals to spice up content — photos, graphics, banners, Infographics, charts, videos, clips or gifs.

The type of product or service you’re selling will generally inform the type of visuals you use. But as long as it helps clarify your copy and grab the reader’s eye, there’s no reason why you can’t get creative and try a type of visual you haven’t used before. Play with colors and shading. Do something none of your competitors are doing.

Head over to Content Marketing Institute to see some excellent examples of companies that have nailed visual content.

Since we also like material laid out in an easy-to-scroll format, here are 5 reasons why you should add visuals to your marketing.

  1. Readability.
    Blocks of text are not only boring, they’re intimidating. Not the reaction you’re looking for when you publish a new article or blog post or launch a new website.Blocks of text are not only boring, they’re intimidating. Not the reaction you’re looking for when you publish a new article or blog post or launch a new website. Your content might be groundbreaking, but that’s irrelevant if people don’t read what you’ve written. Adding visuals breaks up copy making it more compelling to read and easier to scroll.“Every aspect of your website must account for each user’s wants and needs at a given moment in time.” Alan Smith, Usability Geek
  2. Reach.
    Some people really don’t like to read. And with the success of YouTube, they don’t have to. They prefer to learn via video. Others respond better to visuals than to text.What to do? “People are 80% more likely to read content if it’s paired with colorful visuals.” Tara Johnson, “How Visual Marketing Works”.So if you want to reach the broadest audience you can, make sure you incorporate visuals (and videos where appropriate) into your copy.
  3. Retention.
    According to this post titled “7 tips for using visual content marketing,” from Social Media Today, people remember visual information 6x better than the information they have read or heard. Since you’ve taken the time to write your content, why not make it as easy as possible for people to absorb it.
  4. Impact.
    Ideally, you want your copy to have an impact on your readers. You want them to follow you, refer you, quote you, or  hire you. Or share how terrific you are on social media.  Adding visuals to your content helps make that happen.In this article from eLearning Industry titled “Visual Learning: 6 Reasons Why Visuals Are The Most Powerful Aspect of eLearning,”  author Dana Jandhyala states ““Powerful images and visual metaphors create strong impressions and lasting memories in learners.”
  5. Interest.
    Illustrations or photos support your content and enhance copy so it’s more interesting.  From PR Daily, “visual content gets viewed 94% times more than content without any visuals” according to a 2018 Social Media Examiner report. May 24, 2018

    Ready to mix up your marketing?

If your marketing efforts haven’t resulted in sufficient new business, try putting some of these tips into play.  And start to pay attention to how and what YOU read (and react to). Odds are that visually void content is not something you’re really reading either.

Learn more about how to make your website compelling.

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Is your website ready (and healthy enough) for Google’s algorithm update?

a stethoscope laying on a laptop keyboard

Earth Day is April 22nd. Yes, we relegate one day to focus on keeping our planet healthy.

Anyone else think this deserves an ongoing commitment? Or at least a month?

Here’s a link to Earth Day Live which runs from April 20 -22nd. Learn about some events you can participate in and get involved.

But we digress…..back to your website.

What Makes A Healthy Website?

A healthy website performs well. It doesn’t just look good.

It works well. It loads fast. Fonts are legible. You don’t have to squint to read the copy. Papers and pdfs download quickly. Finding information is easy and intuitive.

Links work….both external and internal. And the site is responsive. It looks good on any size screen — mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop. It’s also secure and uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). More about that here.   

The health of your website should never be negotiable. A healthy well-run business has healthy procedures in place. And that includes your website, your face to the world.

Here are 6 things you can do right now to make sure your website is indeed healthy.    

  1. Don’t fall behind.
    Make sure that platform updates and plugins are up-to-date. Staying current is important to keep your site functioning properly and securely. New releases generally take care of any pesky issues that developers have found since the last update.
    Note:  we manage and monitor all client websites and send monthly reports. Your web team should handle this for you. If not, find one that will.
  2. Get rid of old plugins.
    A bloated website doesn’t perform well. Outdated or no longer used plugins can slow down your site. We once inherited  one with 62 plugins, most of which were not being used. The site was super slow to load, something you do not want.
  3.  Fix sluggish load speeds.
    According to Google, people will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. Don’t be a Google fail. Here are 20 free tools to test your website’s speed.
  4. Make sure you’ve addressed any ADA (American Disability Act) issues. Google will punish you if your site isn’t accessible for people with sight or hearing disabilities. Learn what you need to do in this Business News Daily article titled Is Your Website ADA Compliant?
  5. Update content.
    If your copy hasn’t been updated in a while, it probably needs a refresh. If you cite a lot of statistics or references, they’re probably dated. Maybe you’ve added new products or services that never made it onto the site (yes, we’ve seen that)!
    Ideally you update your site on a weekly or monthly basis. But we know that sometimes stuff gets in the way. So do it now.
  6.  Make sure your website is easy for visitors to navigate.
    A healthy website allows people to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. Referred to as UX (user experience), ideally this is a factor that was built into your website in the design phase. But if you have a do-it-yourself site, it’s likely that navigational ease is not a feature.

Why NOW is the time to make sure your website is healthy.

Google has a new and highly anticipated algorithm launching in May of this year. It will include something called Page Experience which addresses what we’ve talked about above. If you have a business website, you need to know about it.

Search Engine Watch explains it clearly in this post titled Google Page Experience update is all set to launch in May 2021 – Webmasters, hang in there!

Hopefully, we’ve given you some tips you can use to make sure your website is healthy and working efficiently. So you won’t be blindsided when May comes around.

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have. Shoot us an email info@whatagreatwebsite.net and we’ll help you out.

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If your website isn’t functional & secure, you’re losing business.

happy website client

September signals the start of fall. A time of new beginnings — change of season, a new school year, for some companies a new fiscal year.

For small business owners, fall is often the time to think about ramping up business. Maybe you need to refresh dated marketing material. Or spruce up your website with fresh content.

It’s also the perfect time for a digital tune-up to ensure that your website is performing efficiently. Is your site’s backend functionality where it should be? Is current content? Are plugins up-to-date?

To help you assess your site’s performance, we present 5 ways to make sure your website is functioning efficiently right now.

  1. Keep your SEO (search engine optimization) up-to-date. If you’ve been writing blog posts or adding new content without optimizing that material, it’s like forgetting to tell customers you’ve got new merchandise they’ll be interested in. They won’t know if you don’t tell them.
  2. Check that all images have an alt tag or alt text. Aside from helping with SEO, this enables visually handicapped visitors to “read” images via screen readers. Learn more about alt tags here.
  3. Is your content current? Dated content not only makes it look like your business may be suffering (not surprising in this time of COVID-10 closures, but also something you want to avoid). Keep your content fresh and compelling if you want visitors to return regularly and refer your site to colleagues and friends.  Here are some quick and easy content development tips.
  4.  Is your site loading quickly? There are several things that make sites sluggish and slow to load — overly large or high rez images, plugins that are no longer being used but are bloating your site, or your ISP (internet service provider) to name a few reasons. Whatever the cause, the result is not one you want. Slow loading sites mean lost visitors. When we’re so used to speedy connections and quick downloads, few people want to wait more than a few seconds for a site to load.
  5.  Is your site secure? If your website url starts with https://, it’s secure. If it still says http://, it’s not. And it’s not SSL (Secure Sockets Layered) encrypted so it may be vulnerable to hackers. Something you definitely don’t want! Getting an SSL certificate is something your developer or IT person should do. It’s something we handle for all the sites we build.

Of course, there are other things you can do to keep your website secure and functioning smoothly. We’ve just highlighted the “musts”. Most of these are best left to professionals who work with websites on a daily basis.

We’re happy to chat with you about whatever’s keeping you up at night keeping — whether it’s making sure your website is secure, how to give your site a fresh new look…..or any marketing issues you might be having.

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Getting Down To Business with Good Website Design

We were excited to be on Shalom Klein’s radio show, Get Down to Business, yesterday. We talked about good website design, what makes a website great and why our clients like to work with us. Many thanks to Shalom for the shoutouts. And yes, we’d love to come on your show again!

  

Listen to our interview.

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Why Marketing Matters More Than Ever

why you need to market your business

It happens often. We meet with a business owner who’s struggling to build sales but won’t commit….or hasn’t set aside…. any money for marketing.

How does that work, you ask? Well, it doesn’t.

Our main business is building websites. But we approach web design and development with a marketing mindset because our team has a marketing background.

So before we start building anything, we sit down and talk to you about goals for your business and what you want your new site to accomplish. We’re building a big beautiful online marketing tool for you. It just happens to be called a website.

For people to find your website, a few things need to happen:

  1. It needs to be optimized for search (SEO) so that Google brings your site up when someone searches for your product or service.
  2. You also need to send people to your site.
    You can do this through social media, advertising (print or digital or both), PR, flyers, brochures or handouts, newsletters, emails, direct mail (like postcards), signage, premiums, business cards that you pass out at networking events, etc.

All of the suggestions in item #2 fall under the marketing umbrella. It’s what drives your business and builds your sales. No marketing = not much business.

why you need to market your business
marketing matters

So back to the “no money for marketing” scenarios.

A few examples stand out. One was a man who hired us to build a website for a small gym he had purchased and was renovating. His target market was personal trainers who would use the gym to work with private clients or people who weren’t comfortable at a big gym but needed some sort of coaching. That idea sounded solid and well thought out.

We built a drop dead gorgeous site (OK, so we’re a little biased). But it was sleek and sexy and did everything it was supposed to do. It was easy for visitors to get the info they needed and the messaging was clear and concise.

This was not your one-size-fits-all super gym. It was a small facility — a former house with a beautiful river view, where you could train relatively privately, and then go out in the back yard to relax after your workout. We loved the whole concept. This gym was a little gem.

Until the business model changed.

Classes were added, a few at first, then a lot. Yoga and bar work and meditation. Then floor work and Zumba. Now the “small gym for serious workouts” took on a “me too” slant. Fearing he was missing out on another market (women), the owner modified the original positioning.

Bad move.

Not only were there a bunch of hot new boutique-y gyms in the area, but the larger gyms like FFC, CrossTown Fitness and Equinox were doing great marketing and had huge name recognition. Not to mention swimming pools, running tracks and lots of classes at convenient times.

Our client had not allocated any money for marketing. There was no money for signage which made it difficult to find the place. There was no money for social media (he attempted to do some himself but since he had no idea about how social media worked, that never went anywhere). There was no money for publicity or promotions of any kind. 7 months after we completed the website, he sold the business.

We were bummed because we couldn’t show this gorgeous site in our portfolio. But the client was happy to get out without losing his total investment.

We hate to see this happen. Our goal with each project is to give clients a solid marketing tool that will help grow their business. Seeing a client fail makes us sad.

We use examples like this when talking to new business owners to make sure they’re budgeting wisely and not putting the proverbial “all their eggs in one basket”. Your website can be the most important marketing tool in your arsenal. But don’t let it be the only one.

SEO competition gets tougher every day. Unless you’re able to do considerable digital advertising (as in spending big bucks), you need to stand out any way you can. Good marketing can always help you stand out.

If you’ve got marketing chops and can handle it on your own, run with it. If not, make sure there’s money set aside to hire the experts you need.

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The Big and the Small of It

Image credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/davidpwhelanBuilding a website is an exercise in both forests and trees.

The right words have to be there to draw the right eyeballs, your message has to be clear, and there have to be clear and effective calls to action. These are the forest level functions.

But it’s the little things that can destroy your credibility — misspellings, poor grammar, the wrong font in the wrong place, a poorly cropped image, etc. It’s as if a tree has fallen across the path.

A website is an exercise in first impressions. What impression are you making?

Is it fair to judge a company by a typo, or when they use “your” when it should be “you’re?”

What judgments, fair and unfair, are made about your business based on your website?

Neil Steinberg brings up this point in his May 7 blog post. He wrote

I was walking down Shermer in the old leafy suburban paradise and saw that sign announcing the new place, “Agave Anejo Mexican Grill,” and immediately had this thought: They’ll never make it.”

Why? Their sign was crooked. The restaurant owners were not paying attention to the details. One little thing mars a greater whole. It’s the tree across the path. Once seen, you can’t unsee it. Your expectations have been set.

When you build a website, pay attention to the big picture but sweat all the details. Your mother was right when she said ” you only get one chance to make a first impression.”

Image credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/davidpwhelan

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Six features your website must have.

Websites differ in design and style. But there are certain features that all good websites have in common. Here are 6 of them:

  1. Readability
    Legibility is paramount when reading digital copy. Can viewers read the copy on your website? REALLY read it? On a cell phone or tablet as well as a laptop?A good website is designed for ease of reading on ALL screens. That means fonts are web-friendly, reverse type is used judiciously (white type can be dramatic but it’s hard to read as body copy) and clutter is kept to a minimum.
  2. Clear Messaging
    Will visitors to your site clearly understand what it’s all about? Or will they have to fiddle around to discover who you are and what you do?Once someone lands on your site, you’ve 15 seconds to convince him to stay.

    Good websites keep visitors engaged.
    Good websites keep visitors engaged.

    Especially if your product or services fix problems for people. People looking for something they need are generally not very patient. Continue reading “Six features your website must have.”

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Why you shouldn’t build your own website.

It’s tempting. You’re a startup with tight (or no) funds. You don’t want to spend any money unless it’s absolutely necessary. You see all the DIY website promos and figure “how hard can it be?” Looks like a no-brainer. So you opt for WIX or some other development program and build your own website. For free. Over a weekend. An entire weekend!

So you're going to build your own website
How hard can it be?

You launch your website. But no one comes.

Hmmm. What went wrong?

Your first mistake was to assume you could do something on the fly. Web developers  and designers are generally highly trained. They’re schooled and skilled in writing code, designing layouts, font and color selection, navigation, and UX. And if you hire a web development team, there’s a copywriter or content creator on board to make you sound as good as you look. And likely an SEO expert so that your website comes up when people search for a keyword  or phrase that’s incorporated into your copy.

Oops. You probably didn’t consider that when you opted for DIY.

So before you waste a lot of time and commit to a drag and drop website, ask yourself these 6 quick questions:

  1. Do you have the time to learn how to build an effective website or should you use that time to build your business?
  2. Do you have a solid grasp of marketing and a clear picture of how your potential clients use websites?
  3. Can you write compelling copy and calls-to-action?
  4. Do you understand UX and how people will navigate your website?
  5. Do you know how to use color and custom fonts to build your brand?
  6. What will you do if you waste spend 10-20 hours “building” a site that you can’t use?

If you answered “yes” in 1-5, you might have the skills necessary to build your own site. If not, call someone who builds websites for a living.

Your business needs a website that works. Save money somewhere else.