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What Not To Do On Your Website

Welcome to your website. You’ve taken a look at it recently, right? Well, you should. You scrutinized it when you were first putting it together, hanging over every word, every photo, and agonizing over space and color options. But that was then. Maybe that was two or three years ago… and things have changed.

 

Two or three years is about it for a website look. They tend to look peaked and tired after that amount of time. So get in there, look around, and freshen that website up!

 

A good place to begin? Your landing page. It’s your introduction to visitors and potential customers. It’s the firm handshake that gives the first impression.

 

Here’s what you don’t want to do: hit them with too much information. Or intimidate them with a learning curve about your business. Or give them too many choices. Or use a lot of industry terms. Each of those things can be intimidating, or potentially turn a customer off, or confuse them, so they’ll end up doing nothing.

 

Nope. Your landing page is going to be fresh and welcoming with a general introduction, short and sweet, just enough to inform and tease your visitors. Save the drill down for specialized interior landing pages where visitors can learn more if they are interested.

 

As for the navigation, well, your mom should be able to easily scroll through it. How many drop-downs and sub-navigation buttons do you have? While you may think it is helpful for people to go directly to pages with deeper info, seeing all this at once can cause instant confusion. Or overload. Or create indecision. And that mean visitor shut-down.

 

If you are guilty of any of these sins, then by all means, fix them.

You aren’t doing a complete website revision. You are freshening your site up. Just top off the tank, reworking trouble spots.

 

Ask others to weigh in from inside your business and outside. Listen to what they say.

 

Now, let’s look at your photos

Please tell us you aren’t using shlock stock. You know, those cheesy stock photos that are filled with pensive people at their desks in casual attire, studying their laptops. Or high-fiving the team. Ugh. Stock photographs are easy to spot. Ditch them. They make you look ingenuous, uncreative, and the worst – like everybody else.

 

It’s easy enough to hire a photographer and take real photos. Of your people. Working in your actual headquarters. Real photos can even be taken by someone on staff that knows her way around photography. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get website-quality photography. After all, there is always cropping.

 

Now — you look like who you are. And even if the pictures aren’t perfect, they will be genuine.

 

What’s your call to action? If it’s hackneyed, or cute, revise it.

 

Shorten up your contact page. People are a lot more hesitant to give out personal data now than they were even a few years ago. So only ask for what you really need, generally, name, company name, email and phone number. That’s really all you need and filling out lots of form spaces feels like work and takes up your visitors’ time. Show them that you value it.

 

Here is a good place to be generous. Provide a download of a whitepaper, or a sample of some kind. Everybody likes free.

 

Bottom line, if you suspect your website needs some work, it probably does. Especially if it’s been awhile since you updated it.

(P.S. We can help with that.)

What Is Seasonal Content And Why Is It So Important?

Adding seasonal content – coordinating your message to align it with holidays, vacations, changing seasons, social or political events, and current trends – is important for your business. It shows you to be reactive or in touch with what’s going on, especially since many industries rely on the changing seasons, changing weather, holidays and other variations throughout the year to sell their products and services.

 

This is also important because it connects your target audience and user base with the various needs they have throughout the year. It also can send valuable refresh signals to search engines across social media, indicating you’re adding new content to your site.

 

As marketers at FocalPoint, we value the creation of both evergreen and seasonal content to connect long term and in the here and now with your audience. Because no decision your customer makes is made in a vacuum. Customer needs are time and season-based, just as businesses experience time-sensitive variations based on time of year.

 

So how can you capitalize on this?

Ahh, that is the real question, isn’t it? To make seasonal content relevant, it’s got to go live and get indexed in search before the buying bell curve begins its uptick. And that search engine indexation of content can take time. If you fail to plan ahead, chances are good that the opportunity to generate interest has already passed. Your competitor already took the lead, gaining attention and authority of users as well as search engines.

 

Plan ahead. Give yourself adequate time to fully research and create a unique piece of content that will stand out from the rest. Thinking three to four months ahead on big seasonal initiatives will allow you the time to research your competition and think strategically about when to post. And what to post.

 

Research trends

Sometimes it can be great to buck trends. Other times, it’s a good idea to go with the (commerce) flow, plugging into established customer purchasing habits. Toward that end, Google AdWords is a useful tool. You can find search volume for keywords and segment data by month — and even location. Google Trends is also a helpful tool for planning around seasonal patterns and subject peaks.

 

With 2019 heading toward us like bullet train, it makes good business sense to brainstorm next year’s marketing cycles right now – with a nod to seasonal content. We can help.

Why You Need To Make Case Studies A Part Of Your Marketing

Case studies are rather like a well-written mystery. They lay out a perplexing issue one of your customers had that seems really insurmountable on its face. However, it just so happens that your company had the ideal solution to this company’s problem. Then you lay out what happened, very Sherlock Holmes-like, step by brilliant step.

 

Case studies can be illuminating to potential clients in so many ways. First, you get to be the hero. But along the way, you get to explain how you do the amazing things you do.

 

Here’s how a good case study should work:

  • Lay out the customer’s pain or problem. Clearly describe the dilemma your customer faced so your reader will think, “Hey, that is my issue, too.”

 

  • Without giving all your secrets away, tell prospects how you solved the problem. Provide insight into your work.

 

  • Explain the result. Use powerful action words like improved, increased, reduced and Support these claims with numbers such as total savings or percentage increases to prove impact. Visually reinforce with a graph or two.

 

  • Place it the study your website and develop a strategy to push it out via social media. You can also make it available as a download via PDF, being sure to collect information from who downloads it.

 

Aren’t case studies tedious?

 

Who actually reads them, anyway?

If your case study is tedious, you are doing it wrong. Case studies shouldn’t be written by your technical team. They should be written by your marketing team. Two or three pages max, should do it.

 

As far as who reads them, anyone looking for a solution to a problem. Case studies should be interesting and concise so they appeal to everyone from an operations manager to a CEO. A well-written case study draws the reader into the story told from the perspective of a customer. When they are done right, they become exceedingly effective sales tools, because they give potential clients a chance to visualize what you can actually do for them.

 

Here’s why:

 

  • Your case study provides a best case scenario and is much more interesting to read than a listing of product specifications.
  • Case studies are also more credible then sales literature filled with claims that you are the “leading experts.” It helps you prove your expertise without bragging, presenting a factual description of the problem, solution and the results.
  • It can be particularly effective when a sales team introduces a new technically advanced process or product that requires multiple steps to explain.
  • Add a testimonial from the customer in your example. It will add a dose of realism and credibility to your product – and say things you can’t say about yourself.

 

At FocalPoint, we love a good case study. And we’ve written lots of them for our clients. Heck, we’ve even been known to take them home for a little nighttime reading. So if you could use a little assistance, our experienced marketing sleuths can help.

You Should Be Using More Social Media Video Ads

Why?

Because they work so well.

 

Your own habits prove this to be true on Facebook as well as Twitter. You don’t intend to look at those videos that pop up, but very often you do. And even when you don’t watch the entire video, you remember something about the product. Right?

 

A few seconds all it takes to make an impression. And of course, the stronger the message and the more creative the video, the stronger the impression.

 

At Focal Point, we take notice of video ads on social media. In today’s environment, they are expected by up and coming and top brands already on social media. In fact, use of video on social media nationally is skyrocketing. Their use is substantially higher this fall than they were just a few months ago.

 

Not surprisingly, Facebook is still king of online video with the greatest share of social media video spending across all platforms. Google is a close second.

It really is incredible how quickly video advertising has risen to the top of digital advertising as a whole. U.S. video ad revenues on Facebook will reach $10.20 billion in 2020, more than doubling last year’s $4.78 billion high.

What about Twitter? Not far behind. Twitter is expected to earn $743.8 million in US video ad revenues by 2020. Like Facebook, video ads are also rising quickly, up from $563.4 million in 2017.

Video advertising may not be what’s best for your company. Or –maybe you haven’t figured out how best to use it for your needs.

For instance – an ironic or unexpected way of showcasing your brand. Perhaps even teasing out a new idea or product in a series of videos.

At Focal Point we do understand how to use video. And have the creative chops to add some spontaneity and zing to your next social media campaign.

 

That’s a good reason to budget for a fresh, fun video highlighting your brand. Chances are good that you’ll attract new interest to your product. Sometimes, when that video addresses the right issues in a compelling way, it gets shared. Often across platforms.

 

Boom. That affects your bottom line.

Not surprisingly, Focal Point would like nothing better than to show you some of our brilliant examples of video boom.

 

How Do I Blog You? Let Me Count The Ways…

Perhaps you blog for your business. Or post weekly to social media. Have you ever run out of ideas on what to post? Wonder what to say that’s new?

 

It’s something we social media folks all run into from time to time. So here are a few interesting ways to post material for your blog, Instagram, Twitter feed, or even email outreaches to customers that will not only keep them reading, but looking for more from you.

 

It all breaks down into format, really – how you present the info. Pique your reader’s interest by offering a how-to, teasing out a list, providing new ways to use something, or provide an interesting opinion. The best part of this is that you can upcycle something you have previously talked about by offering the information in a brand new format.

 

Here’s our “how to” list:

 

  • The how to — 
Teach the reader something. “21 radical ways to use your yoga mat,” or “The single most effective way to train your puppy.” You get the idea. Use an attention-getting adjective in the headline. Make it simple to follow.
  • The list — 
Offer your readers the most interesting selection of ideas, tips, suggestions, or resources out there. Keep the copy snappy and to the point.
  • The review — 
People like to know what others think about a product or process they use. Writing a review or testimonial offers an informed opinion that will be of interest to them. Use plenty of quotes. Photos add even more appeal.
  • The oped – Much like the review, you are offering insight from a personal perspective about something. In this case, however, the person offering the commentary is a trusted source that isn’t you. And outside source, a famous person, or maybe (gasp!) even a competitor.
  • The interview – This is written by you, interviewing someone relatable to your audience. Perhaps that’s a client, or an outside source, or maybe the inventor of your product. You get to guide the direction of the chat, and add your thoughts.

 

So, let’s say about a year ago, you wrote a blog about a new business innovation. Looking back through your blog, you realize that the information in that blog is still very relevant. So, use the information but present it as How-to, or List, or even interview the inventor of that product, and get his take on how the product has changed the way customers now do business (the Interview).

 

Presto! Fresh new blog!

 

See what we mean? Same info. Different presentation. Even though the overall topic is the same, there is a virtually endless variety of ways the subject matter can be tweaked to make a new blog post.

Cool!