When was the last time you used a company’s mobile app, and their desktop web site side by side and been shocked that the mobile is better? Yesterday I was using the ebay app on my ipad. I have buying and selling for years. Seriously, I think it drives my wife nuts. For years I have seen ebay upgrade their desktop experience, but also over complicate it every time.
Yesterday I spent some time listing a few things on the ipad app. Sure I shop and monitor from the ipad, but always assumed listing would be painful as it is on the main desktop site. I was pleasantly shocked.
With mobile apps, you are forced to start over, and re-think the process, the way you plan a user flow, and the interface for touch. So many businesses just continue to adjust the current version, but rarely do they tear it down to start over. The usual reason is time and money. But saving a little time and money by the company costs their customers time and money. This can lead to customer loss over time, and leave room for a competitor to come in and out innovate you.
Start over every now and then. Strip it back to the process and flow, and build something fresh. Use that experience and insight you have earned from the current version and make something better. Build the 2.0.
Last week a friend of ours mentioned he was having website issues. As we dug into the conversation, we found out that ‘issues’ actually meant his site had been offline for 4+ months. Yikes! Now he hosted his site with a friend, who was “working on getting it back up”. But 4 months is too long for any level of friendship when it comes to business if you ask me!
So why do you need to host with a reputable company.
To avoid the horror story we just heard, here are a few things to make sure you have when finding a good web site host.
- Server load. How many clients do the have on one server. Some of the cheapest companies have thousands of accounts on one server. Think of that like a roach motel.
- Server access. Do you have FTP and control panel access? You want to be able to log in, and manually save down files, run backups, etc. Maybe not you directly, but you want to make sure you have the access so you can hire someone else if needed.
- Storage and bandwidth. Most businesses need under 1gb of storage, and 5 – 20gb of monthly bandwidth. Churches that podcast are a different story. You want to make sure you have a hard number. Companies that offer unlimited have a limit, they just hide it and decide on a case by case basis. I know far to many people with normal usage sites, that have been suspended for “resource abuse” by these unlimited companies. Frankly It baffles me that they can advertise this.
- Support. Can you actually get a hold of someone when you need to? Many companies have amazing support, some make you wait hours. Find one you are comfortable with, because it hurts to have a massive site issue, and no one to talk to about it.
- Backups. Do they run nightly and weekly backups? Are they offsite? Is the database included with that?
- What restrictions do they have on WHAT you can host. More important, what are they keeping off the server that other users may be hosting. You never want to be on a server that allows porn, torrents, file sharing, etc. Its bound to tie up the server, and possibly get shut down.
So next time you need to find a great place to host your site, make sure you think through these points. And in case you are wondering, YES the factor1 severs meet all the above with flying colors and we are super picket who we host. We rarely, and I mean rarely host anything unless they are a client of ours.
Like life, emotion can also rule in our business lives, especially when it comes to marketing. Despite decades of proof about developing strategic marketing plans, we still let our gut instincts or the most powerful voice in the room dictate the paths for how to best engage with our audiences. Especially handicapped in the marketing arena, small organizations by their very nature, do not have a team that is dedicated to developing a strategic plan for how to connect with current customers and new prospects.
We all need a plan.
A plan that we have thought through, consulted, checked, double-checked and really worked on. The plan needs to aim at our goals and our dreams. But, working a plan is harder than running on emotions and “in the moment” results. It takes intentionality to get these end goals that we are each seeking.
The rewards of developing and tracking on a marketing plan are great. A plan can leave contingency for opportunities, spontaneity, and “going with our gut”, but a plan well developed can act as a compass or reference during these key moments. A plan influences how we spend our time, how we treat people, what we do and what we will not do. Achieving our greatest dreams and goals are the ultimate reward.
So what is your plan?
- Have you thought through you target demographic?
- Have you researched thoroughly what has worked for you in the past and what is working for your current competitor?
- Do you have a list that is power-ranked of all the available marketing opportunities for your company?
- Have you brought in any outside ideas, resources or professionals to elevate your ideas to a new height.
- What about a budget? Did you scrape together some intentional money yet to attract new customers and retain your best?
Go get it!
Start developing a strategy for how you are going to get from here to there. Then work the plan and stay with it long enough so that you can give it a fair evaluation as compared with your goals.
We build WordPress sites here at factor1. We love using it, and love what we can do with it. WordPress is most commonly known for its blogging tools, but has really risen to the top for Content Management Systems (CMS). I recently saw some stats that WordPress now powers 22+ million sites, and 40% of the top 100 sites.
Most of our WordPress development is for organizations, not bloggers per sé. These are mainly non-profits, churches and businesses. While most of the sites we build are page focused, promoting products, services or general awareness, there is still the built in WordPress functions of posts and blogging. We get this question the most, and I thought blogging about it would be the best way to share the answer.
Why should my organization blog?
A notable close second: What should I blog about?
Blogging tends to have the mass public confused as to what it is, what it should be or why. Most often its associated with personal use. My definition of blogging is content that is clearly categorized, date and time stamped, and on a single topic. Blogging uses the the term ‘post’ to reference a single entry to the blog. A blog as a whole is a collection of posts. Much like a newspaper is a collection of news articles. The term ‘Blog’ has also become a verb, as one is often ‘blogging’ about a topic, in this case, it is synonymous with writing.
So why should we blog as an organization?
Blog posts are highly visible as new, relative content to google and other search engines. If you continue to offer free advice, tips, insight, case studies and relative industry information, google will reward you for that, for terms that align with each post based on their content.
Users also see this content, and it can form the base of your credibility with them. Active blogging organizations win new clients, because the prospects see activity, growth, community, and openness.
Reference / Archives
The blog also because a great repository of reference material, and a location to house full articles you mention in conferences, emails or social media.
What should my company blog about?
Any content worth calling someone about to tell them, or mailing them a letter, is worthy of blogging. This very post is my clear example of what to blog about. We have insight and expertise to share, and we hope the people reading this find it informative. Would I call a client or send them a letter on this topic? YES, and it is our clients who ask about this topic that lead me to write it.
You can use your blog for:
- Case studies
- Industry news
- Company news
- Insight to your product or service
- Frequently asked questions
- Education on a topic your organization is passionate about
I don’t think you need to pick one of the above, but ALL of the above.
Everybody loves apple.
OK, let’s just say everybody loves Apple.
Everybody loves Apple but what if the personal experience stunk, just once? How many more times would you go back to their website, walk into the Apple store or buy more products? Would you keep going back if you loved the hardware but hated the people? Would you go back if you couldn’t get the help you needed? How many more units of merchandise would you buy if Apple nickel and dimed you at every point of interaction?
Seth Godin has some great pointers today about marketing. What stands out on his list is that most of the marketing that we can so easily do begins and ends with the personal experiences of our customers.
We’ve talked before about info graphics.
It is an extremely powerful tool when you can take your data and simplify it into a easy to understand graphic that your target audience can read, see, experience and most of all, understand. Visual information moves people to act.
And now it seems that Pinterest is info graphics on steroids which translates into sales and also donations. Have you ever questioned the need to invest a little more in your marketing or in your digital design budget? When this article by Fast Company publishes I think it will be well worth our time to study and then translate into our businesses and nonprofits.
Consumers are shopping and they make decisions based on what they can see and understand.
Bigger impact for you.
More is better, or at least that is what we are told. We are also told there is no such thing as bad press. That simply isn’t true when it comes to social media. Your business could be in danger of just being a part of the noise. So how do you know when social media is wrong for your business?
Social media is wrong for your business when:
Your website is stale.
Don’t rush to be online with twitter or Facebook when your website isn’t up to date or a hub for all of the essential things that people really need to know or would want to know about your business. Social media can very easily distract you from being excellent at the core aspects of your marketing plan because it has a way of sucking up so much important time every day. Do the basics first, then focus on additional online conversations and arenas.
The conversation stops suddenly.
Often times social media for companies seems like speed dating. Well intentioned people rush into a conversation and then get distracted and quickly move on to something else. Cultivating a respected voice or dialogue on your area of business will take time. Don’t jump in if it’s just going to be a Friday night fling, because it will harder the second time around for you to get people interested if you drop the ball on the first go around.
There isn’t a reason for people to keep coming back.
What you do or what you sell is always more interesting to you than it is to us. So ask yourself the hard question, “why would people continue to pay attention to what my business has to say?” Are your going to offer regular FREE advice in your area of expertise? Coupons? Great deals? Irreplaceable insights? Profound teachings? You need to be incredibly unique or niche for us to stay engaged.
Bottom Line: Social Media isn’t for everyone and most who attempt it fail miserably. Truth is that google is still the #1 place that people go when looking for goods or services that they need or want. So evaluate first, how are your doing with your website and your local marketing plans?
As part of our monthly work with UMC Boulder City, we are currently engaged with them on developing a comprehensive marketing plan. UMC Boulder City is a smaller church in a smaller and aging community.
Are you a small, locally based organization or business?
Their pastor sent me her team’s initial marketing plans and ideas. I have to say that I am impressed with the thought and research that they have done. So much so that I thought I would share their categories with you and also give you an idea about how you could effectively spend on marketing, just $250 a month to start experimenting with what works for your organization or your business. Take a look. Keep in mind that you can try 2-3 month experiments and then move money around into different categories until you find the right blend of marketing that works for your team.
Needless to say, we are excited to work with such an aggressively minded organization that really wants to get the word out about what they have going on for their community. It will be fun to help them develop both their print collateral, their messaging and their online marking presence.
Why these reminders about your website content?
Because content is king!
We are having a lot of fun around here with a new project for one of our longtime client’s, Amy’s VIP Events, because it’s another opportunity to go deeper and help them receive maximum impact on their site, generating more new sales leads than before. A big step forward on this project will be SEO work focused through website content.
Here are 5 things that you need to know about your website content:
- Words matter. There are 1,000′s of webpages not indexed properly with Google and worse yet, 23% of all websites are still coded in flash, making their website content not mobile compatible nor search friendly. Read it straight from apple.
- Your words must be your own. You might be in a market with a lot of common phrases, definitions and terms, but the bulk of your website content needs to be original. Google knows plagiarism and just like in school, when you copy other people’s work it hurts you more than it helps.
- Do Your Research. There is a lot of competition on the internet, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is stiff competition. Chances are very good that you might find a search rearm or two where there is a lot of opportunity because it they are being overlooked for more obvious terms that have many more competitors. Be sneaky and try related SEO terms where your website content can be a winner.
- Stay focused and patient with your words. Believe it or not, everything on the internet isn’t instantaneous. Stay consistent on developing your content using your search terms. Keep writing, some results will come quickly while changes will slowly have impact. It can take up to three months for google to recognize all of your hard work and for your to properly dial things in.
- You are never done. Write, write, re-write, watch your performance, adjust, continue on. Writing good copy is an ongoing process. Keep your site current. Never take down old stuff, but rather archive it or hide it, keeping it live but never gone. Google likes a lot of text and it helps the more pages that you have on the relevant topics you are trying to reach.
A piece of encouragement, writing good copy and content for your website is hard work, so don’t be frustrated if it takes you some time.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of Amy’s SEO and ad placement results and also some (but not all) of our key processes. Amy’s VIP Events specializes in delivering custom Masters Tours and awesome pricing for daily Masters Badges.
We can make your site perform better too, so contact us!
You hear the crap all of the time. Why? Because you run the place. Every biting email, phone call or walk-in eventually makes it’s way to you. Yet, you can not be all things to all people. So please, do not try.
Remember what makes you great. Think back on the dreams that you had when you began. How were you going to be revolutionary, different, and possibly even extraordinary? That is what your business needs to be about. Make it special. Do remarkable things. But remember, you can not do it all, so you might possibly need to stop trying.
How can you do this?
Eliminate underperforming services. Can a marginally profitable product. Remove a feature of your company that takes up way more time than it should have a right to take.
Zero in on your best ideas and your best opportunities. Find the items that will set you outside the normal expectations. Create beautiful work and services that others will pay a premium to receive or donate to if you are a nonprofit. Dream big. Execute daily. Ignore that complaints that you are not “all things to all people”.