What does that mean exactly? A website is just like any other connection to your clients or potential customers. These connections require, well, customers or as Google Analytics calls them users. So a Facebook with no friends yields nothing. A website with no traffic/users yields nothing. It makes no sense to only invest in something that looks nice and functions well only to never be utilized. This leads me to the number one question I ask a potential new client. How many users on average do you have on your website in a given month? It is widely surprising how many clients really do not know this answer. If we look at digital Ad spending in the last several years along with projections I am sure what we find is not surprising. There is a linear trend of growth (possibly even slightly exponential due to the COVID19 pandemic which estimates that digital spend will be 66.8% of all ad spending by 2023. Additionally, the focus on spending dollars in relation to digital marketing for mobile devices has grown from 10.9% in 2014 to 32.9% in 2020. This will continue to be the trend according to eMarketer.com. What if you have very little or no budget for digital ads or digital identity investment? The great news is that there are many tools available for you to be able to continue to grow, satisfy customers, and progress. There are so many free options to consider and utilize until you have the ability to set a budget for digital spending. Here are a few important ones to consider:
- Google My Business – GMB is more robust now than it has ever been, it allows you to supply tons of pertinent information to your potential and current customers. Gone are the days of just an address, phone number, and office hours. There are many ways to interact and add value to your digital presence here including adding products, services, review management, website connections, and more. Google My Business is a small way that you can enhance your own SEO and the best part is it is a FREE tool for you to use. I recommend downloading the app and also sharing the link with your clients asking for their experience as a review. Always be sure you ask them to include keywords about your products or services when they do this. Businesses with more relevant reviews will rank higher than competitors that do not.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You-Tube Brand Acct, and Linkedin are all great free resources that you can use to build traction and stay in touch with customers. There has never been a greater need or support of REAL AND AUTHENTIC social media posting by businesses. If you have a great product or service, use your voice to show the world what you are offering and why you are different. However, I urge you to not get overwhelmed. People want original content, not photo stock, they want to see the products, services, employees, and locations. Utilize your story’s on Facebook and Instagram as this will get you more views. Do not be afraid to go live and do not over post! Remember your clients want to see you but not every second of every day. Unless you are an awesome brand influencer I would start with 3-4 posts per week and if you do not have a website keep your photo albums organized by categories so that it is easy to learn about your brand. Most consumers will not go back more than a week on your timelines.
- Plan – It might seem weird to add this in as free but it’s an important part. One constant for everyone; there are a limited number of hours in a day, 24 to be exact. Active income is revenue made by you physically doing something and getting paid for it. Passive income on the other hand is revenue made from something you did in the past. If you intend to continue to scale your business and still have time for yourself, you have to learn to balance these 2 types of income. It might not be intuitive that time management and the way you are running your business relate to marketing, but without any time, you can’t market yourself. Leave time each day to evaluate where you are at in your business plan, what the next step will be, and how you get there. If you can’t allocate any time to your business, then do something else until you can consistently invest your time into it.
- Blogs – Blogging now comes in a couple of formats, you can blog with writing text or you can vlog with video. According to Google, you will need to be sure that your blog has as least 1590 words to ever rank on the first page of Google, but do not think that by writing a blog that you will get there fast. Look at the date on the next blog that you read, they are typically always 5-6 months old minimum. Heck by the time you read my blog there might be an entirely new social media platform out there. Another note about a blog is the fact that you need to house it on your own website or domain, otherwise, you are just helping someone else with their SEO, not your own. Video blogs (Vlogs) can be live videos, videos you create and post to social media about a topic or videos that you post to YouTube. When you post a video to social media or to You-Tube you are offered an area to describe what your video is about. This is a great way for you to organically and for FREE to increase your own SEO. Just remember that whether you vlog or blog that you are creating content that is engaging and not boring. Find topics that you can not already find online, things people want to know about your product or service that they can not already find in a million places online. Again, blogs are a great way to increase your SEO if done properly.
- Networking – On the flip side of no traffic, we have seen businesses with a TON of web traffic only to have almost nothing to show for it. No matter what, you have to have someone in the business who is good with people. Without that person consistently creating positive, memorable experiences, your influence base won’t grow. Your SEO, website, social media, and blogs can be on point, but if you aren’t working on where the next customer is coming from, you’ll eventually run out. Relationships are still key to longevity, so don’t negate the importance of them. Some networking that I personally like to do is with your local chamber of commerce, it is really the best way to start. In my situation with AD-IOS since we are majority women-owned, it is also very important for me to be a part of women networking. I love diversity groups such as Women Leading Kentucky and WBEC which is regional. There are a lot of FREE networking opportunities, some with memberships, and some with non-member opportunities as well but I urge you if you do nothing else with your business, be involved, and create meaningful connections in your own community. When you meet new people, friend-request them on social media, stay in touch, and get to know each other. Referrals are your biggest asset to building your sales pipeline but do not forget to make your main focus giving to others. I also want to add that while networking is so important you also need to be very cautious of your time. There are so many events and so many coffee meetings or luncheons that it can really eat away your day so I urge you to go back to step 3 and plan. Understand what events and where the best networking opportunities are for your business. You do not want to lose time from non-productive meetings.
This still leaves the main topic of the blog, your website. Traffic comes to your website in a number of ways and when it comes to Google, traffic will ALWAYS be king. Did you know that to increase your SEO you actually also have to increase your website traffic? Seems to contradict right? Typically the biggest contributors to your site will be:
- Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid Ads (Display (banner ads), Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Marketing (Google Ads), video ads)
- Email Marketing
- Blog Posting
- Google My Business
- Social Media (Referral Source)
- Links (from other websites) called Referral Sources
Even if you are using one or all of these it becomes extremely important to KNOW what visitors are doing on your website and NOT GUESSING what you think they are. This is achieved by utilizing Google Analytics on your site. Google Analytics will give you insight into how to get customers interested, engaged and further down the funnel. Once you sign up for an account you can connect it to your website for tracking things like;
- # Visitors, New Visitors
- Traffic Sources (where the visitors are coming from)
- Achieved Goals and Conversions (time on site, pages viewed, forms submitted, phone calls, etc.) – It is best to work with someone who is certified to set up your website conversion goals.
- Attribution Model (the number of touchpoints between someone first seeing information about you and then eventually converting)
- Month to Month or Year to Year comparisons of data
- Types of devices being utilized
- Distribution of which pages are getting viewed most and least frequently
You also have separate analytics within Google My Business, this is included in your Google Analytics however there is pertinent information just within GMB that you will want to understand. This goes back to the second paragraph where we talk about fully utilizing all of the features that are 100% free in GMB. Now you organically (or with paid help) have website traffic and know how to track it, let’s talk more about what a user can do on your website and how a website can help you decrease cost and become more efficient. We all know how important the bottom line is. Here are some tools and scenarios that we frequently see;
- Automation comes in a variety of formats. Most tasks can be automated, this allows businesses to focus on returns and not a daunting task over and over. In education when our clients receive a form filled out for new students we auto-generate an email to that potential student with a full list of links and everything they need to apply. This saves the school time and money, they know when that prospect opens the emails multiple times or they take the next step they are already 2x more likely to commit.
- Chat Bot will help you automate answers with potential customers on your website or Facebook Messenger. Consumers do not like to pick up the phone the way they used to. They want to be private and message you to get a quick response.
- Payment Links are different from eCommerce. A payment link gateway is a way for a client with an invoice to pay the invoice on your payment link instead of coming in or calling your offices. This saves time for your staff, it is more secure and many times reduces the processing fee since the client entered the info themselves.
- Scheduling is a task that should be completely automated in this day and time. Most businesses from Doctors to Salons have a CRM or some software that is used internally for scheduling. This is more efficiently used by plugging into your website to allow the client to schedule their own appointments. The business just has to mark the available time frames and slots available.
- Calendar of Events help your clients be in the know, they are easy to edit and can work within your own Gmail account. This can be completely automated as well.
- Products/Services, unless we are talking about eCommerce, every service you offer needs a dedicated page built to index it properly with Google. You need images and we recommend enough content (words) as you can to describe the service in the most detail.
- Employment Opportunities on your own website let people know right away what jobs are open and how to apply. Using forms that will track and gather all of the information so that you can easily file it away. If you are an indeed user you can also frame your indeed listings to your website so that when you post to indeed it auto-populates to your website as well.
- News or Special Incentives are areas where you display this for clients to easily find on your website.
- Photo Galleries in the past have been old and outdated, now you can connect your Instagram feed and auto-populate all of your Instagram photos directly to your website gallery without duplicating entries.
- Contact Forms are meant to gather enough information that you know what the request is. If you have to call a client just to see what their interest was about on your website then your contact forms are not giving you enough information which becomes a production issue internally.
- Review Management is so simple when you auto sends emails to new clients asking for reviews with links that go directly to your platform such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, or whatever platform you collect reviews on.
- Online Sales and Ecommerce are meant to take the stress off of your business and not add to it. We recommend using software that will communicate with your internal POS system or act as your POS. If you are still entering images, products, etc in multiple systems we really need to talk further.
- Point of Sale System for inventory control that works within a storefront and website so that you never have to work about inventory selling in the store and still be listed as available online.
- Online Web Based Catalogs can help with your green initiatives, some businesses spend a million dollars a year printing catalogs. Using an online catalog will help reduce cost, save time, and can easily be accessed with a QR code or website link.
- Customizations such as mapping software, if scenarios, and more can all make your website more functional and engaging for the end-user.
Bottom Line, websites are intended to help you increase revenue streams. You can not set up a website and just forget it, websites take some effort and updating from time to time. If your website is not adding value to your business by creating more efficiency or more revenue than it is time to re-evaluate the purpose, time, and investment.