5 ways to tune up your content for 2011

 

It’s that time of year. The time where you start looking at your website and tilt your head wondering if it’s starting to sound a little stale to readers. If it’s been a few years since you’ve updated your content, your site could probably use a good scrub. A lot changes in a year – trends, tools, keywords, methodologies – and you want to make sure your Web site is giving users (and the search engines) the most up-to-date information about your company. The best way to do that is to give your website a quick content audit to determine what exactly it’s saying about you.

Below are five ways to tune up your content for 2011. You want to start the New Year off on the right foot, don’t you?

1. Highlight your strengths.

You’ve probably heard it a lot over the past year – marketing is storytelling. Each sentence on your site should be part of a larger effort to tell your brand’s story and lure readers in. To capture people’s attention, your content has to be telling a story that displays your product/company’s strength and tying it back into how it will solve a problem they’ve expressed. Does the content on your site do a good job highlighting your strengths or is it simply a list of features? Do you show customers how your product will help them achieve a larger goal or are you waiting for them to put it together themselves? If it’s the latter, you need to go in and tweak your message. What’s different about your product or service? What goes above and beyond in a way your competitors don’t? Revamp your copy to include these selling points and clearly outline the benefits you offer to customers.

2. Know your competition’s weaknesses.

Part of knowing where your product succeeds means also knowing where your competitor’s product fails. Maybe you deliver superior customer service, maybe it’s a price point issue, or maybe they’re nowhere to be found on social media whereas you’re dominating and ever-so-accessible. Whatever their specific weakness is, make sure you account for it when highlighting your strengths. Don’t do this in a way that speaks badly about your competition, but in a way that highlights something that you do really well. It’s about you, not them. You have to remember that potential customers are landing on your website to research their options in service providers. Make sure you’re showing them why you’re the best choice and what you offer that your competition can’t match.

3. Tighten your calls to action.

One of the most important things you can do for your website is to use your analytics to find your high-traffic/low-conversion pages. You know that a large number of potential customers are landing on these pages, but for some reason, they’re abandoning before they can convert. Why? Often it’s due to too many distractions on the page, or maybe your calls to action aren’t as compelling as they should be. If it’s a case of the latter, experiment with your calls to action to try and find ones that do better with your audience. Sometimes simply changing the call to action on a page can change the whole tone and make things sound fresher.

4. Reassess keywords.

Two years ago you used keyword research to help you determine how users were searching for your products and which terms you needed to rank for. You then developed content based on those terms. But have you checked back in to see if you’re still on the right path? Are you regularly looking for new opportunities, checking for any terms that may be falling off, or calculating the ROI for going after a specific term? If you haven’t, now is a good time to go through your site and reassess your keyword needs. Just because your customers typically referred to something one way doesn’t mean they’re still searching for it that same way. By tidying up your keywords you ensure you’re attracting the right people and optimizing your search traffic.

5. Freshen up your stats.

Another way to revitalize your content is to go through it and update the statistics you’re referencing to make them more relevant. It’s hard for customers to establish trust in your brand when you’re still talking about how effective your company was five years ago or about the latest in mobile trends from 2002. Make sure you’re constantly reading up on different sources to update your stats as your industry and market matures. If your site is talking about what happened decades ago it’s an unintentional sign that you haven’t done anything since.

The end of one year gives us a chance to tidy things up in preparation for the next. One of the best investments you can make for your website right now is to clean up your content to make sure it’s attracting the right people and properly differentiating your business from your competitors. Give yourself a content audit before the calendar hits 2011 to start things off on the right note.

 

http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/12/5-ways-tune-up-content-2011.html

5 reasons your website Isn’t attracting leads.

So, what are your big Internet marketing plans for the New Year? Will you beinvesting more in social media? Will you start blogging? Will you take a more proactive stance with self-promotion? Whatever your online marketing plans, the end goal is likely to attract more people to your website in the hopes that the influx of new eyes will translate into new customers, new leads and new opportunities for your business. However, you won’t be able to do any of that if your Web site is turning people off, instead of turning them on.

Below are some very common reasons SMB Web sites fail to attract customers and how to avoid falling prey to them.

1. There’s no conversion path in place.

One criticism of many SMB sites is that they don’t include a clear conversion path for their customers. If you want customers to take a certain action, you need to create a funnel intended to guide them to do that. Simply stringing together a number of content pages won’t necessarily put someone on the path to buy. Your conversion path may be as simple as a solitary landing page paired with a call to action, or as complex as an entire microsite. Either way, you are in charge of designing the flow of your website. Creating a clear conversion path not only helps customers feel more comfortable on your site, it also gives you clear data to track so that you can see where people are abandoning, where they’re engaging, etc. The more data you have to act on, the better you can design your site to attract new customers.

2. There’s no sign of life.

Customers are discriminating. You can bet that when they land on your website they’re going to kick the tires a little to see if they can trust you. They’re going to check your copyright date to see if it lists 2011 or 2006. They’re going to look for old statistics or other signs you haven’t taken the time to update your content. They’re going to check your company blog to see how often it’s updated, if you reply to commenters, if people are talking back, etc. They’re going to look for signs that you’ve created a dynamic website, instead of one lying around in stagnant water. Before your customers get there, take a look around yourself. Would you hang out with you?

3. It’s all about you.

Customers don’t head to your site to hear how awesome you are. They’re there because they have a problem they need you to fix or a question they need you to answer. Your website should be designed to help them quickly achieve whatever it is they came for. Too many references to “I” in lieu of “you,” too much sales talk instead of helpful information, and too much of you not addressing their fears/wants/desires will turn people away from your brand, not on to it. Your customers don’t care about you–they care about how you can help them.

4. People can’t find you.

If you’re finding that customers aren’t interacting with your website at all, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. Is it accessible? With more and more users searching via mobile devices and on the go – is your website mobile accessible? If it’s not, users trying to find you may hit a dead end. There’s nothing worse than trying to find your accountant’s website while on the road and finding out his site only renders in Flash and won’t load on your phone. Not that I’m talking from experience.
  2. Is it properly SEO’d? Have you made it easy for users and search engines to find your content? That means using the right keywords, linking properly, making your site super crawlable for spiders, and staying away from common SMB SEO mistakes.

Sometimes before you can see more traffic, you have to break through the obstacles preventing you from seeing any.

5. There’s no POD.

If you want to attract people, you have to give them more of you. You have to stand out from the crowd and show them something that they’ll want to align themselves with. Take a look at your own site – what are you showing potential customers? I don’t mean the graphics or the videos you choose to incorporate (don’t forget to SEO those, too!), I meanthe experience that you’re creating. Are you using your site to set yourself apart, or do you come off like everyone else? Are you talking to customers in their own language or filling your pages up with buzzwords and jargon? The more powerful a POD (point of differentiation) you can create, the better you’ll attract the right customers to your brand.

If you’re finding it difficult to attract leads via your website, it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions. Before you can fix the problem, you first have to identify it. What are some struggles you’ve had attracting new leads? How have you fixed the problems?

http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/01/5-reasons-your-web-site-isn’t-attracting-leads.html

11 customer service trends to watch out for in 2011.

Customer service is a perennial issue that is critical to all small business owners. Although it is included in every company mission statement, no one wants to focus on it. But some key customer service trends for 2011 make this phase of your business even more critical in the coming year.

Eleven Customer Service Trends in 2011

Here are 11 customer service trends to watch in 2011:

  1. The time to react to your customer is shrinking. In this 24/7 instant gratification world, the time in which your customer expects you to be able to resolve their problem is getting smaller. Most customers expect to be able to reach you 24/7, and for you to resolve their concern on the very first call (or at least the same day). This is putting increasing stress on companies’ infrastructure and pressuring companies to ensure the profitability of each customer. Look for companies to begin to “fire” customers that don’t meet their profitability metric.
  2. Customer service has become the new marketing. Small business owners used to be afraid that a dissatisfied customer would tell 7 people. Now, through social media sites, they can tell 7 million people. On the flip side, “raving fans” can be your biggest source of new business as they tell everyone how great your company is. Consumers believe what their peers say about your company more than they believe any of your own paid advertising.
  3. You can find out exactly where your customers are talking about your company. Every business is being talked about on the Internet, but where? New customized software from companies like Flowtown allow the business owner to insert a contact’s name or e-mail address and identify the social networks in which that contact participates. Knowing where your prospects and customers congregate online is critical for engaging your customers where they are.
  4. The “social support” experience grows. Consumers now talk and bond directly with each other over using your products. Companies like Get Satisfaction and Feedback 2.0 are building online communities that facilitate conversations between companies and customers. Get Satisfaction states that 46,000 companies use its product to provide a social support experience to listen and talk to their loyal customers.
  5. Faster resolution of customer service issues through blog and social media site comments. Calling a company’s customer service number is no longer the fastest way for a customer to get an issue resolved. Since most brands are tracking what is being said about them on all the social media sites, tweeting your concern or posting it on Facebook will often yield quicker results. This has especially been effective for me with my vendors like Comcast, Vonage, American Airlines and Discover Card.
  6. Integration of Web customer service and traditional phone support. Customized software now allows integration of what prospects and customers are saying on the Web about your company. More solutions like Parature for Facebook are available to integrate that information with your website and customer service center. Software now enables Facebook users to search their knowledgebase, submit help tickets and chat with customer service agents. Look for online and offline customer input channels to continue to merge in the coming year.
  7. More self service: It started with ATMs 40 years ago and now we rarely go to the airport without using a self-service kiosk. This past year, more complicated transactions like renting a car are now being done via kiosks at companies like Hertz. Although it takes a bit longer, it is effective for impatient customers who do not want to wait in lines. Many stores have also implemented self checkout. Can buying a car or house via self serve be far behind?
  8. Faux personalization becomes an expectation. With many consumer interactions now happening online or through automated kiosks instead of live people, customers have come to expect the type of “personal service” they get at websites like Amazon. Easily being able to track your current, past and recommended future purchases has become an expectation that is not easily matched in a brick and mortar store. Amazon always remembers who you are, but does your local retail store? As a result, where would you rather shop?
  9. Retail stores are now an experience. Successful retail stores like Apple and Brookstone have become demo centers with a lot of service people around to help. On Black Friday, when other stores were struggling to keep up, I was in and out of an Apple store in 5 minutes with my iPad purchase. In order to compete with online shopping, successful stores are now fun places to come out and shop. Gone are the days when you couldn’t find someone to help you at Toys R Us (and I don’t miss it).
  10. You need to chat. Helping a customer on your website used to providing an e-mail address or listing the company phone number. Real-time chat is now becoming a requirement in order to help your clients. Can video chat be that far behind for an even more personal touch?
  11. Online inventory tracking from your customer’s phone. Your customer will no longer come into your store to see if you have a product. Companies like Milo.com can now tell the customer if a product is on your shelf. The company says it tracks real-time availability of 3 million products in 52,000 stores. Is this the end of “window shopping”?

http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/12/eleven-customer-service-trends-2011.html

The M word and the 50% rule

It’s probably the most important word in business.

It’s not an exciting word but it is THE key to your Entrepreneurial Wealth.

It’s the ‘M’ word.

The ‘M’ word is ‘Marketing.’

Over the last two decades I’ve consistently seen two types of business owner. The majority glaze over when you mention the word ‘Marketing’ They’re generally the ones whose businesses are struggling.

The smart ones light up when you mention the ‘M’ word. They’ve discovered that getting great at Marketing is the single most important skill for generating wealth.

Ideally you should be spending at least 50% of your time on Marketing. However, the trickiest part is knowing where to start.

 

http://www.chriscardell.com

The 80/20 principle

This special 10th anniversary edition of the bestselling “The 80/20” principle contains an entirely new chapter ‘The Yin and Yang of the Principle’ in which Koch responds to the thousands of reader responses to the book – including a rap song! – and uses this new material to reach a new level of awareness and understanding of the true power of the principle. And it is powerful: the 80/20 principle – the fact that 80 per cent of results flow from 20 per cent of causes – is the one true principle of highly effective people and organisations. “The 80/20 Principle” shows how you can achieve much more with much less effort, time and resources, simply by concentrating on that all-important 20 per cent. “The 80/20 Principle” is the key to controlling our lives. If we can latch on to the few powerful forces within and around us, we can leverage our efforts to multiply effectiveness. Most of what we do has trivial results. A little of what we do really matters. So if we focus on the latter, we can control events instead of being controlled by them, and achieve several times the results.

The magic of thinking BIG

Millions of people throughout the world have improved their lives using “The Magic of Thinking Big”. Dr David J. Schwartz, long regarded as one of the foremost experts on motivation, will help you sell better, manage better, earn more money, and – most important of all – find greater happiness and peace of mind. “The Magic Of Thinking Big” gives you useful methods, not empty promises. Dr Schwartz presents a carefully designed program for getting the most out of your job, your marriage and family life, and your community. He proves that you do not need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction – but you do need to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there. This book gives you those secrets!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Thinking-Big-David-Schwartz/dp/1416511555/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1292949280&sr=1-1

How to make millions with your ideas

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy has filled this book with most of the business and marketing expertise people are spending thousands of dollars at his seminars to hear. Which makes this volume the best business value ever! This book is soooooo good and filled with valuable ideas that you have to take a breather every few pages just to digest it all–the ideas come at you so fast. If you don’t think you can still make good money in your own business, starting with little or no capital, Kennedy will change your mind right away. Highly recommended.

Dan Kennedy is a “marketing guru” who shares strategies and techniques that I find practical and enormously helpful. His specialty is information marketing, including creating infomercials for Guthy-Renker. He has more clients than he can serve, and enjoys teaching entrepreneurs how to improve the results of their businesses.

In this book, Kennedy makes it clear that having a good idea is not sufficient for success for most entrepreneurs. Ideas can be bought, licensed or “borrowed.” The ability to market the idea and to create a business around it are more important to business success.

Based on practical experiences he acquired building his own businesses, Kennedy gives the eight best ways to (still) make a fortune from scratch in America, gives 45 millionaire-maker strategies, and opens his million-dollar rolodex of references for marketing, product sources, mail order and direct marketing, information products, business management and additional assistance.

Here is an example of one of Kennedy’s strategies: “Remember that what you take for granted, because it is common knowledge to you, is a revelation, a secret of immense value to someone who does not know or understand it. Do not undervalue what you know.”

Kennedy also gives practical advice on when and how to sell the business, including how to receive many times the “formula value” for the sales price.

Kennedy’s $3,495 per-person Millionaire-Maker Direct Marketing Super Conferences principally focus on the strategies and information in this book, available in paperback for $12.95. The book is an exceptional value.

Every entrepreneur would benefit from devouring and applying the information in this book! If you have a business and don’t have a copy, buy one.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Make-Millions-Your-Ideas/dp/0452273161/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292949122&sr=1-1