When you need a website, you probably wanted it up and running last week! Using website builders like Squarespace and Wix are perfect for certain businesses, but before you decide if it’s right for yours here are some things to consider.
In this post, I’m going to give you an overview of how to prepare and plan your website from design to launch, and what you need to be online in 30 days.
Some of you love the DIY lifestyle. There is a lot of satisfaction is envisioning what you want and creating it. However, for your business, you need to consider a couple of things.
First, do you have the time to put into creating your website. Designing a website, picking out templates, and creating pages and content is time consuming. If this is just a resource website and not something you are updating often, putting the time into doing a DIY website is probably perfect for you. There are a lot of large companies, like Pixar, that use a Squarespace site because it gives them an online presence and that’s all that they need.
The second thing to consider is how you are using your site: Do you want your website to maintain an online presence or is it more of a sales tool? Our team has worked with a lot of businesses who have outgrown their website builder site. We often hear, “if it just did X it would be fine.” Since these sites have to be flexible to all kinds of businesses, they miss a lot of industry specific features. This is where a design and development team can take you to the next level.
After you have decided the route to go, it’s time for the design phase. In design, you will start to get a feel for what your site will look like, but there is still some more work you need to do before passing it off to a developer or before selecting your website builder template.
This is usually the time when a client questions whether they need a new logo, new typeface selections, and a fresh color scheme. The design phase is definitely the ideal time to have these discussions. If you think it may be time for a rebrand, we highly recommend conducting a branding session with your team.
Branding sessions can take some time, but after a few hours, you know what personality you want your brand to have and where you want to take your business moving forward. This type of strategic thinking is critical in making sure that your website accomplishes the goals you have for your business.
With a brand personality, you can also work on crafting your message. The notes from your branding session will be helpful in writing the text for your internal pages. This is also the point where, if you aren’t a writer, you can bring in a content creator to flesh out your message and get it ready to go online.
Having your content written during the design phase will give your web design team more direction when creating your wireframe. From your content, they can focus their design on the user experience and effectively guide them through your website and ideally take them from casual visitor to your newest customer.
Once your brand and your content starts coming together, its NOW time to think about your website’s design. The first phase is wireframes.
With a wireframe, you want to sketch on paper the main blocks your site. When you draft a wireframe, the question you are answering is “Where does my content go?”
The wireframe will outline where photos, video, text, and CTAs are placed. This quick sketch is basically your website at 30,000 feet. Make sure you can visualize where the content will be place. If you see something missing or the flow feels off, make a change. If you are working with a design team, this is the hardest, but most important time to speak up. It’s hard because you can’t physically see the whole thing, but it’s important because this is the easiest time to make adjustments.
From the wireframe comes the mock-up. Your designer will take the wireframe and drop in your content so you can now see what the finished product will look like. This is usually where revisions start to be requested. If you are working with a team, make sure that there is a meeting scheduled to review your mockups. Before that meeting, get your notes together on what you like (and why) and what you dislike and want changed. These notes will be the guide your development team will use when making adjustments. If it’s not in there, it will stay as it was in the original mockup. Be honest, be critical, and know that you aren’t going to hurt someone’s feelings. Your design team wants you to be happy with what you see.
After a couple of rounds of revisions it’s time to bring your site from concept to completion.
For the DIYer, this is where you will select your template and start dropping in in your content. Testing the site and making sure all the features that you need are available and functioning as you expect them to.
If you have chosen to work with a design and development team, this is where they takeover. You have done some solid heavy lifting and put a lot of thought, now’s the time when your developer will take all that and bring it to fruition.
You may be a little worried to step back for a bit, but knowing about what you will receive at the end of it will relieve some of that anxiety.
If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, here’s a little background. WordPress runs over a third of all websites on the internet. As open source software, developers can tailor the needs for an client making it work for business large and small.
We have helped clients of all skillsets increase sales with their WordPress websites by
The backend of WordPress is easy to manage so you will get a website at the end that doesn’t can be updated internally, but can also be adjusted as your business grows.
Once your development team has coded out your site. It’s time for you to test it. Click everything. Go to every page. Make copious notes about what works and what doesn’t. The QA phase is your final stage before your website is launched so you want to make sure that it is exactly as you want.
At the end of your website journey, you will be excited and a little nervous for the world to see what you have been working on. While you want everything to work and be perfect, minor imperfections are expected. Most development teams you work with will follow-up with a few complimentary adjustments that weren’t caught during QA. As long as these are kept to a minimum, they shouldn’t add to the cost of the website.
Now is the time to share your new site with your customers by promoting it! Shout from the rooftops, send out an email to your customers, highlight your new site on social media, or add a blurb to your email signature. You want people to know that you are investing in your business and that they should think of you when they need you.
You are going to be involved in your website design. Whether you do it yourself or hire a team of developers, you need to commit time to making sure the design, content, and functionality will showcase your business in the most accurate way. Set aside at least 30-days to plan, design, and create your site for the best results. If you don’t have the time (or desire) to do it yourself, hiring a professional will give you a site that functions as you want it to with the ability to grow as your business grows.
Remember the phrase “There’s an app for that”? In WordPress, it might as well be there’s a plugin for that. With more than 50,000 plugins to assist with everything from social media to spam blockers, it’s easier now than ever customized your site with just a quick click and download. But, with so many options, where should you start? We work with dozens of small businesses around the country. While they are all different, here are a few that seem to benefit everyone regardless of business type.
Google Analytics provides a way to understand the visitors to your site with insights like demographics, how they behaved on your site, and if they returned at a later date. Once you know what interested someone enough to get them to your site, you know how to make their experience better.
Figuring out how someone lands on your website is important for developing your marketing strategies. Knowing what actions or search terms were used before someone found your website will help you strategize how to get other people to your site. It could have been a simple search for a related term or they could have found you if another website linked to yours. You may not be the first or last stop in someone search history. Where they’re from and where they’re going is information you can use to strengthen your own web presence. Finding topics that resonate with your audience means you have a chance to create a valuable relationship.
For e-commerce businesses, Google Analytics allows you to track your site metrics. It’s essentially a revenue report showing the number of visitors, duration of visitor, sales made, and revenue. A key aspect of the plugin is devoted strictly to business results
Yoast SEO is the original WordPress plugin for search engine optimization. Yoast provides information not only for site visitors but also for search engine spiders seeking to provide information for autofill the next time you search.
Its key purpose is to provide information for writing SEO-friendly content. Relative to your site the Yoast SEO plugin is another form of creativity. You can learn more about what attracts customers and terminology to enhance their experience.
Yoast helps you get technical about your writing style.
While Google Analytics is about learning your customer base to build the ideal web experience, Yoast is about tailoring your web content. Keeping the editing process in mind, Yoast offers a live preview feature for search results. The same is true for the ever-important canon of improving your social media.
From there, you can take it a step further: Yoast Premium.
An enhanced version of the standard Yoast SEO experience, consider the premium edition to get even better at managing your SEO. Premium offers assets such as content insights to reveal the five key phrases most used on your page, writing suggestions for links to other pages in real time, and unlimited support from a support team, not merely a list of FAQs and forum posts. Even better, Yoast Premium has a redirect manager, meaning that a changed URL or an updated version of your site will not deter visitors, instead of the dreaded 404 error message.
A site’s usability is as much about content readability as it is about the actual framework of the site. Visitors should not have to root around endlessly to find what they need, and the ideal site is the first stop on a search engine. You can’t be on page one without an optimized site. Getting there starts with understanding what users want.
Ninja Forms offers a way to build mailing lists, manage and edit user submissions, and receive data such as users’ email and phone contacts with embedded forms. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface and extensions for expanding your contact base, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. Each builds on the idea of simplicity while also offering an unlimited amount of signup forms, creative form presentation, and sorting users based on their preferences and responses.
In the age of bots, there is truth to the argument that chatbots could eradicate preferred contact forms. However, plenty of sites still do not offer immediate action interfaces for collecting data, and the bots themselves are still considered somewhat stop-gap in their usability. To that end, whether contact forms are going away in two years or ten, your customers have to get in contact with you and Ninja Forms offers an ideal, seamless integration for doing so.
Combining the three pieces above means learning why people visit your site, how to gather more visitors, and how to optimize their experience. There’s a reason WordPress is the most popular content management system, with a seemingly endless gamut of support systems, customizable add-ons, and styles.
However, it’s important to note that not all WordPress plugins are created equal. It’s easy to download and activate a plugin for your site, but give the plugin a quick review before you install it. Pay attention to how many active installations are running and read reviews on the most recent version. It also helps to scroll through support forums and consider what issues might others have had and decide whether those would be your issues too. A larger, more vetted plugin has less of a chance of being problematic and more of a chance of enhancing your site.
As far as e-commerce platforms go, Shopify is easy to use, cost-effective, and (somewhat) SEO friendly. All things considered, users get great value out of Shopify themes, widgets, and cross-channel capabilities. However, Shopify does leave something to be desired for some more code-savvy online retailers. Decide if this tool is right for your e-commerce store by weighing out the pros and cons.
There’s no denying that Shopify has some of the best theme templates available. It offers something for every business model, ensuring every ecommerce site looks stylish and on-brand.
Shopify’s variety of applications make vamping up your website a simple task. Want to feature new products on your homepage? Consider it done. Need your items specially categorized? No problem, there’s a widget for that.
Although Shopify customers can upgrade to a paid version, the free templates are usually all business owners need. There are over 100 to choose from, so before signing up for paid services which may require specialty coding, explore the functions and aesthetics of free themes.
Between Shopify’s customizable themes and applications, business owners often have everything they need to design their online stores. Plus, customer service is always available to help clients problem solve and achieve desired functions when necessary. Even if you make a catastrophic mistake, representatives are there to help.
Social posts provide authentic examples of customers and influencers using your products in their everyday lives. For many ecommerce stores, social media channels drive traffic and lead to final purchases, so Shopify has invested heavily into its seamless social integration. Site headers and footers offer links to store channels, and blog posts allow for easy sharing to personal pages.
Although Shopify customers can upgrade to a paid version, the free templates are usually all business owners need. There are over 100 to choose from, so before signing up for paid services which may require specialty coding, explore the functions and aesthetics of free themes.
According to Nchannel, 20% of online shoppers would be likely to make a purchase from Facebook,” and analysts only expect this trend to grow. That’s why connecting your stores Facebook and Instagram accounts to your ecommerce store is crucial! Luckily Shopify makes it easy to link your store products to Facebook and Instagram posts. The best part is, all sales on these channels are captured through Shopify, meaning you won’t have to hassle with multiple platforms to manage order logistics. Just be sure you review Facebook/ Instagram’s lengthy policies for prohibited content to avoid posting listings that may be flagged or removed.
Being your own boss is thrilling, but it keeps you busy juggling a lot of responsibilities. Installing Shopify’s Instafeed plugin takes just minutes and saves you hours of future time. It syncs your ecommerce store and social media accounts, so your website automatically refreshes as you add new posts to Facebook or Instagram. Most importantly, Instafeed is SEO friendly and uses proper rel-canonical tags which keep web crawlers from classifying your feeds as duplicate content.
Statistics show that mobile traffic has finally exceeded desktop; today 52% of all online users are browsing the internet via cell phones and tablets, so it’s time to change the way we design ecommerce sites. In fact, if a business owner chooses not to embrace mobile compatibility, his sites search engine rank is likely to plummet. As of 2018, Google’s search algorithms have implemented “Mobile First Indexing” to prioritize pages optimized for mobile performance. Luckily if you choose Shopify you can rest assured that your website will be mobile responsive! Just about every Shopify theme was built with mobile in mind, and as an added bonus, Shopify sites tend to fall on the leaner end of page speed loading speeds.
As the proud founder of an ecommerce site, your goal is to sell products, and Shopify recognizes that doing so means taking advantage of multiple sales channels such as ebay and Amazon. The company states, “It shouldn’t be complicated to expand your reach,” and it makes cross-channel integration a breeze.
Lastly, the Shopify platform is simplistic. The easy setup is unparalleled! Because clients aren’t building custom sites from scratch, many are able to build out fully operational ecommerce stores within just 5-8 hours of creating their accounts.
Creating a store on Shopify is often described as building a house on a pre-laid foundation. It’s nice because you don’t have to start from square one, but you are forced to follow someone else’s floor plan, so to speak. For most stores, the themes aesthetics may vary to some degree, but process and content will be largely the same for every store.
Despite everything Shopify does so well, the platforms biggest drawback lies in its lack of checkout page customization. All Shopify ecommerce sites, excluding those using the high-priced Shopify Plus, default to essentially the same checkout process with few features that can be altered for better performance.
Here are the categories which you can edit in the checkout process:
Shopify sites implement a 2-phase checkout system. Why don’t they allow more customization? Shopify claims the standard 2-phase checkout helps to increase sales. Frankly, we don’t buy it, and neither does the company’s client community.
While it may be the case that in general a 2-phase system works better than a 1-page checkout or 3 or more-page system, this is not always true for store in every industry. Some industries and products do better with more pages in their checkout flow. In fact QuickSprout published a popular article a while back which demonstrated a 3-page checkout outperforming a 2-page checkout.
Having the same cookie-cutter checkout page capabilities may not be a big deal for most basic ecommerce sites, but if you’re a vendor who depends on up-charging based on upgraded product features, you may want to take your business elsewhere.
Reason being, you will find it very difficult to give customers the option to add more profitable features to their products at the point of final sale. Of course, you can experiment with Shopify Plus, but that will cost you $2,000+ per month.
As an owner of an ecommerce marketing agency that specializes in SEO, this one hits a little close to home. My biggest qualm with Shopify as a CMS might lie in their lack of customization of URL structures.
In addition to limiting customization at checkout, Shopify also gives ecommerce clients minimal options when it comes to changing their URL structures on product, blog, and general pages.
This causes problems because it unnecessarily lengthens URLs and places web assets in parent pages which are unrelated. A perfect example is that Shopify places all general pages as a child of ‘/pages’ (i.e. ‘www.domain.com/page/[URL]’). Not only does this practice clutter URLs, but it also hinders SEO.
According to Search Engine Journal, Avoid Superfluous Words & Characters. They explain that URLs should use as few words as possible to make sure they have a high impact. Ecommerce stores often need to get creative with their parent-child structure to effectively rank to help Google understand site structure; however, keeping URLs tidy can be very difficult on Shopify.
Having explored some pros and cons of using Shopify for your ecommerce store, note that in general the Tekli team are big believers in the platform. Lack of checkout and URL customization is our biggest issue with the platform, but there are plenty of opportunities to launch a flourishing online business with Shopify.
It’s cost effective, easy to use, and awesome in terms of cross-channel and social media integration. If you’ve been toying with the idea of building an ecommerce store, setup your account today to get started.
Adding video to your content marketing strategy is one of the most popular trends today. By providing a way for customers to see and hear you, videos are ideal for adding humanity to your brand. They also allow you to tap into something that is inherently true: Business is between people.
The other day, I tuned into the podcast Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller. His guest, Joey Coleman, was talking about how to stop losing customers. During their discussion, Joey talked about how all businesses sell their products or services. Logically, companies fall into the B2B or B2C buckets. Regardless of which vertical you are in, humans buy from other humans. You start a relationship with an individual, build rapport with them, and then begin a business relationship. Not all sales cycles are that in depth, but the basics are same regardless of your target audience.
In creating videos to represent your brand, one strategy is to keep in mind that the people you are trying to reach are also trying to reach you.
Let your customers see the team that they will work with them buying your brand. Show your team talking about what problems you solve and how they work through them. Don’t get me wrong, there are use cases to use “white board” style videos and animations, but showing your team’s personality and letting them tell their story on camera will literally give your company a face.
Humans connect with stories. Here are two examples of the same story:
The second phrasing is more impactful because you can empathize with Amy’s unrealistic deadline. When a person can see a problem from someone else’s perspective, a connection is made. The is especially true for video. Think about the videos you’ve watched where the host is droning on about “special” features not hiding the fact he is reading a script. You probably can’t remember a specific example, but you know you have been there. On the flip side, you can probably recall where you were and who you were watching an engaging YouTube video with from weeks ago.
The videos you shoot shouldn’t be about you, your personal successes, and the amazing growth you’ve had. When content is centered around you, it becomes unsharable and people quickly lose interest. Don’t be “that guy” who stands on a soap box preaching at people and hoping to draw a crowd of followers. Instead, focus on your “why” and “how” you serve your customers. Instead of putting your knowledge behind a paywall (or a $100 consultation), give it away and elevate your influence. People are drawn to those who truly care.
Now is the time for video. With the droves of people becoming entrepreneurs, each industry is slowly getting crowded with competition. Dare to be unique and put yourself in the front-and-center of your brand. Not many people are doing it – and those that are doing it are winning.
Email marketing has been in used for 40 years now and is one of the best ways to engage with your customers, convert sales, and promote your brand. If your current email marketing strategy consists of sending an email to everyone in your address book a mass email, we are here to help you step up your game!
Getting Started with MailChimp is your step-by-step guide walking you through all components from selecting the right pricing plan to analyzing your data from your first email.
For most small businesses the Forever Free plan allows you all access to the most important features of MailChimp. You will be able to design and even customize your design template, send it out to up to 2,000 subscribers, and see basic data like open-rate and click-thru rate. You can also compare plans.
You may already have a list you’ve been sending out to for years which is great! You should be able to export it from your current email account to a .csv file. These files can be opened in Excel or Numbers for editing. Clean-up the file and remove any extraneous details before importing. This will make for a smooth import.
It’s time to design that first campaign! The first step is knowing what type of email you are sending. A promotional email will be structured differently and with more targeted calls to action than an informational email. Check our our Designing a Stand-out Email post where we go through the entire design process.
Don’t worry. You got this. You have the option to send immediately or schedule for a time where you think you will have higher open rates. Typically Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to send.
If you want a walk-thru video and you have 18 minutes, we suggest this one
Here is your go-to guide when you are ready to design your first email in MailChimp.
We love MailChimp. It’s a great application that allows for different email marketing possibilities. One of the main selling features is that it has so many design options.
Identifying the why for your email campaign will impact the design. Here are just a few reasons that you may be contacting customers.
Since your email marketing campaign is an extension of your company making sure it reflects your brand’s image is essential. That’s where this tutorial will help you out.
Log in and select you will select “Build my first email.”
Type an identifying “Campaign Name”, this is not the subject line seen by recipients, and select “Begin.”
Select “Design Email,” and now it’s time to design.
MailChimp offers different options depending on how much you want to do yourself. The featured templates are for when you know the purpose of your email and have your content, but aren’t sure how to lay it all out.
The Basic option is if you have the content, purpose, and vision for what you want it to look like. By using the drag-and-drop components, to create your can create own template that best represents your brand.
We could all jump down the rabbit hole of what makes one design work and others flop, but that will have to be another day. For now, we are going to select a basic template and talk about the different pieces and how to edit those to reflect your brand.
The page design tab will allow you to format the primary features of your email.
You will be able to do the majority of your design edits just within this first tab. As you move to the different content boxes, you may want to make changes.
Within each content box, the second tab will also allow you to make design changes. Once that item is formatted the way you want, you can select “Apply to all existing” at the bottom and it will update your current template.
It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you dive into creating an email template. Keeping the purpose of the email top of mind with all design decisions will help you to stay focused and allow you to communicate effectively to your customers.
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Calls-to-action (or CTAs for short) are useful tools for creating engaging websites. In order to understand how to place them properly to get the most effective results, we first need to answer the obvious question…
A call to action is a defined area of your site that prompts a user to take a desired action. This can take on a couple of different looks. It can be sections of content with a header, a few sentences, and a button to take the action or simply just a button. Whenever a website visitor is pushed towards an outcome, it is a call to action. Structuring your website around your calls to action will make it work effectively for you.
In content-first design, your design and layout are developed around
You want to make sure your website is laid out in a way that will solve a customer’s common problems and have them take a desired action, whether that be sign up for an email list or buy a product. This is where CTAs come in.
This is an example from our website.
On the homepage, we took common problems customers have and linked those to areas on our site that shows how we solved that issue for other clients. At the end of each section, there is a button that allows them to get in touch with us about that specific service area.
There isn’t one master plan that dictates where you should put calls to action, but there are a few guidelines that work universally.
You want to make sure you have a single, prominent CTA that is seen before scrolling. This CTA should define the single problem that the majority of your site’s visitors will be having along with a clear solution in your action text. To be effective, analyze why your customers landed on your site in the first place. Understanding that will allow you to craft a sticky call to action on your homepage.
Make it easy for customers to get in touch with you by providing a CTA within your footer. Not everyone will make it to the footer of a website, but your footer should summarize your business and provide easy links to key areas of interest across your site. Use this real estate to leave a lasting impression on visitors and give them a way to contact you with any unanswered questions
Everything you write about your business provides a reason to work with you! All of your content from the “About Us” page to your blog gives you the opportunity to invite engagement. Depending on the content and the types of CTAs, you can have one or multiple within a single page.
Here’s an example of a post on Mashable where they invite you to read other articles on the site.
They inject a text link into the article that is connected to the topic you are currently reading. It is helpful to the reader and doesn’t draw any unnecessary attention away from what you were already focused on, and now Mashable kept you on their website engaging with their content longer.
A pop-up ad can be effective, but in your face CTAs can cause a bad user experience.
This is an example of a pop up box that shows up when your cursor moves toward the “close” button in your browser. This obvious CTA is the company’s last effort to keep you on their site, collect information about you, and engage with you some way. For the right type of person, this may work, but it is usually considered bad form.
The best way to find out is by installing heat map tracking on your landing page. To gauge the success of a call to action, knowing that the customer has seen the item is key. If a page has zero clickthroughs, you might assume that the content doesn’t resonate with visitors. However, what if no one ever saw the CTA that redirects to the page? That’s a critical piece of information needed judge a CTA effectiveness
A scrollmap shows us how many people scrolled down to which parts of a webpage. From the scrollmap above, we can see that almost everyone views the header section of this landing page. As we move down, only 50% of total visitors even scrolled this far to read the content. Even further, only 25% got to the blog posts in the footer are being seen.
This gives us actionable data. We know that we are getting pretty much 100% viewership on our hero image. But, the section right below the fold drops down to about 60 percent. Knowing this, we will structure tests to decide how best to increase viewership of our CTAs. A couple of ideas to try would be:
Now that we know where people are scrolling to, and what content segments are being viewed, it’s time to take a look at what elements users are interacting with. The heatmap and click map (also termed “confetti map”) show us exactly where visitors have clicked. This isn’t a generalization. It shows us the cursor position when someone clicked their mouse on the website.
We see that a lot of people have clicked on our menu icon. Unfortunately, we can see that our main calls to action aren’t being clicked on as much as we want. By combining the data from both the heat maps and the click map we can see how often areas of the site are being used relative to how many people are actually viewing them. Only by interpreting the data can we make logical decisions on how to structure the pages on our website to best fit our customer’s needs.
Identifying what someone will be looking for on the landing page is what makes the CTA most effective. If they are getting to your CTAs but not clicking through, there are a few tests that you can do to quickly identify the solution.
In an A/B test, different versions of similar content is presented to customers, and their responses are measured. Doing this type of split testing is most effective when you only change one piece of data per test. If you change too many pieces, you won’t know what made the difference, and you may attribute success to the wrong update. The example below is from ‘Merica Clothing.
In this example, they changed two characteristics of the CTA button. First, the color was made softer and less aggressive. Second, the text was made to excite action by capitalizing “ADD TO CART”. Now this page converts 50% better than it did before, but the reason for it is unclear
Color is a powerful tool: red excites, blues calm, and yellow energizes. Since you can influence emotion with color, combining it with consistent styling gives your customers a cohesive experience throughout your website. If you lack consistency, you’ll lose your audience’s attention.
Almost all the buttons on the Classic City website are completely rounded, are set in bold text, and have gradient backgrounds. The button’s coloration matches that of the page it’s on. Our CTAs are not always the same color, but they are styled in the same way throughout the site.
Without CTAs, a website is just an electronic brochure. They turn your website into a platform that not only represents your company, but invites the customer to engage with you. This is a broad and diverse topic that can be applied in creative ways. Have Classic City look over your website and help you make the most out of CTAs.
Harnessing the power of drip campaigns allows you to reach a customer at the moment they want to engage with your brand. The right time to communicate with your audience is the mystery that all marketers try to solve, but automated emails can take away some of the guessing.
Drip campaigns, or automated email campaigns, give you the ability to reach a customer at planned times of engagement. You can welcome someone to your email list, send requested information like an ebook, or start an education series, all with a quick sign-up and a click of a button. These can be one-off emails or a series of emails that follow different triggers.
At Classic City Consulting, we strongly encourage our clients to manage email campaigns with MailChimp. Not only are they an Atlanta-based company, but they also have a wide array of tools allowing you to connect with customers in different ways depending on their needs and wants.
For automated campaigns, the setup is easy! Let’s walk through it together.
If you don’t already have a MailChimp account, the setup is free and easy. The forever free plan allows you up to 2,000 subscribers, and you have the ability to access all their campaign types with drag-and-drop sign-up forms.
Once your account is active, create a list for your subscribers. Within MailChimp, you to create a sign-up form that can be embedded on your website or included as a link that takes subscribers to the sign-up page.
Click on “create an email” and choose “Automated” email. To keep it simple for now, this is where you will select “Welcome message”.
You can select from a number of different triggers based on the information you already have about customers (like sending a “Happy Birthday” email) or it can be triggered by an activity that the customer engages in, like requesting more information. Let’s focus on emails that are triggered by signups to take a customer through an entire drip campaign cycle.
If you have a list of subscribers that you want to be included in your drip campaign, wait to import them until AFTER your campaign is ready to go. You will select “Trigger when subscribers are imported” on your setup page.
When designing your email, establishing the purpose is essential in making sure that important and relevant information in included and highlighted. Make sure that reason you are sending your email is above the fold.
If you are creating an email series, storyboard the desired path that a customer will take within this campaign. Decide how many emails you will be sending, what value the customer will gain from each email, how frequently they will be receiving emails, and when to stop trying to engage.
This is a good example:
Sometimes getting started is the scariest part of the entire process. Once all your emails are in place, you will select “Confirm”. Check that the list you are using is correct and that your trigger is set to what you want. If everything looks good, you can click “start workflow” and you are done! Import any contacts that you want included in the first email send to the list you created and then you can walk away knowing that you have set-up an automated marketing campaign that will work for you while you’re running your business.
Drip campaigns allow you to consistently engage with a customer at the touch of a button. They will help you keep customers up-to-date on events, provide them with discounts, or give them information they may be interested in. Making sure your campaign is setup right from the start will ensure that they are getting what is the most valuable to them and creating a positive association with your brand.
There are a lot of websites out there that look fantastic – there’s no question about that. With so many options, how do companies take a potential customer from “I’m just looking around” to “This company understands me – and I want to buy.” The difference between having a simple “brochure website” and one that constantly works for you is one where the design of the website is dictated by the content.
Knowing what content is going to get visitors to interact isn’t always clear. There isn’t a formula that will output well-written content for you. That’s where having a clear understanding of your business and your customers will help simplify your content goals.
If you are about to overhaul your company’s website, the design and creation of “Version 2” can be an exciting time. You and your employees have numerous ideas for improvements that you can’t wait to implement. But first, answer the simplest question:
What is the main goal of the business?
The goal here is to define your business in a short snippet that illustrates how you make a difference for your customers. This is what the content plan and site’s layout will be built around. This idea may be communicated in different ways across the website to connect with a variety of customers. To generalize, here are some well-known companies’ main goals to give you some ideas:
A well-defined business will provide you the direction needed to stand out in the marketplace.
Now that your core goal are clear, it’s time to figure out how you communicate your value to your customers. Your company isn’t just about the services or products you sell, it’s also about the problems that you solve. People want to buy from you because what you do makes their life better.
Let’s take a construction company – Bob’s Construction – as a quick example. Let’s keep their scope simple – Bob’s Construction build houses from the ground up and repairs current homes. They could have a list of Services on their website’s homepage to display all the different things they do:
Having that list is fantastic as it shows the breadth of what they do. However, it doesn’t make a connection with potential customers, and it doesn’t show how Bob’s Construction can solve their problems. They still have to figure out what they want and how to get in touch with you. What if Bob’s Construction phrased these in a way that made a connection with their potential customer and solved one of their pain points?
With these simple tweaks and helping to identify pain points, Bob’s Construction is now meeting people right where they are. Those who click on these links are now more qualified because they have identified with that problem and the call to action, or the “solution,” works alongside the content.
Now that your goals are defined, there is one last question to answer to help your website come to life.
What do you want to be known for?
If you want to be known for “Atlanta Homes”, then you shouldn’t be wasting your time putting content out there about plumbing in Nashville. That is rather farfetched, so let’s bring it to a micro level.
If you owned a wedding venue in downtown Atlanta, what are some key areas of your business that you want people to know about?
What you want to be known for will drive your website’s added-value content. These would be blogs, podcasts, and videos. This will ensure that you are focused and don’t lead your customers on tangents or discuss topics that are irrelevant.
Content is what connects you with your customers. It provides them with insight into your expertise and how you can bring your skillset to solve their problems. Designing a website with an established content plan will expand your customer base through well-thought out solutions.
Yes, it is a marketing cliche: content is king. Clicks measure the digital conversation between producers and consumers. And content drives clicks. From click-bait headlines and listicles to white papers and investigative journalism, the web is always hungry for more. More to read. More to watch. More to like. More to click.
Increasingly, the online market asks companies to produce not just products and services, but also prose and stories. However, small businesses are focused on building out procurement or hiring their first team lead. So adding regular content publication on top of that can be a real struggle. But that’s where curated content can work magic.
Curated content is material shared from other sources. The editorial selection of good material reflects professionalism and commitment to our industry (and our clients). Thanks for how the internet works, links back to other companies’ websites actually boost traffic and search engine rankings for us both.
Search engines like Google are common gateways to the vast store of information online. They depend on links to indicate reliable information. The more sites links back to an article, the more credibility that article presents in the eyes of a search engine algorithm. Some of that credibility also rubs off on the referring site as well.
Re-sharing content from outside sources helps your readers wade through the sea of online information. The magic of search engines’ love for links also means both the sharer and the source benefit. Providing context positions you as a thought leader. When curated content is paired with original material, everyone wins.
For example, Sarah the admin for a film festival, is responsible for publishing a “Best of Fest” listicle that highlights top movies from other festivals around the world. She links to internal pages on their own site, which explain each festival and she re-shares press releases or feature pieces from those festivals.
At a technical level, each site gets a boost because search engine rankings are reinforced by hyperlinks across sites. At a branding level, each site gets a boost because readers can recognize each festival is doing its due diligence to stay on top of their game.
Here within Classic City Consulting, I love multi-purposing content so clients like Sarah can easily build momentum and credibility with curated content. As a member of several film festival selection committees, I witness the accelerated prestige and ranking impact of cross-promotion. Connect with me to learn more about how to use curated content to build your influence and streamline your publications.
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