Make Sure Your Website Loads Fast
What’s fast? 2-3 seconds says the internet. Anything more than that and you risk losing your audience. There are many ways to increase the speed of your website, compressing images, use a caching plugin or talk to your webhost.
Make Sure Your Website is Up-to-Date
Take the time to make sure all of your messaging on the site is up to date all the time. And if you’re going to have problems dedicating time to getting that done, keep the information that needs updating on the site to a minimum. Don’t post weekly specials or constantly changing menu items to your site unless you can rotate them in/out in a timely manner.
Make Sure Your Website is Secure
In addition to updating the content on your site, make sure the software running your website stays up to date. Also, your site should have an SSL certificate installed on it, regardless of you run an e-commerce site or not. Since 2017, Google has been on the marching path to help secure the web. Culminating in a final push starting in July of 2018 by shaming any sites without a certificate.
Make Sure Your Website Looks Great on Mobile
Most users of your website are going to be using their phones. So of course your website needs to be at the very least functional. Start with making sure your phone number is clickable, then make sure things like your hours, directions and contact forms are easily within reach for your users that are on the road.
Make Sure You Have Analytics Installed, Review Them & Act on Them
Google Analytics is free and easy to get installed on your site. That’s the easy part. The hard part, the possibly time-consuming part, is reviewing and making changes to your site based on what you see in those analytics. Different metrics will mean more for different businesses/websites – but think about what you want your users to do and use your analytics as the tool to get your website there.
Make Sure Your Website is Taking a NAP & Monitor/Encourage Reviews
Every page needs to have the same name, address and phone number that matches what’s listed on the directory sites (Google, Bing, Yelp, Yahoo, etc). And while you’re making sure those match – how do your reviews look? If the answer is ‘sparse’, you’re asking for trouble. If you consistently encourage your visitors to leave reviews on the major sites (Google, Facebook, Yelp) – your positive reviews will far outweigh the occasional poor review.
One of the walls in my office has a Chinese Proverb painting: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” If you haven’t started an email list, now’s a great time to do so. You have a long line of loyal customers and if asked, they’ll want to hear from you with valuable information.
Get a Plan and Continue to Perfect It
Figure out what you want this email list to do for you. Are you trying to create more brand ambassadors to spread the good word? Are you trying to get people to stop by one more time per month? Or do you just want to make sure your people don’t forget about you. Whatever your goal is, continually evaluate the progress, look at key metrics like open & click rates and make changes as needed.
Get a Sending Schedule that Works for Your Customers
There isn’t a magic number for every list. Your type of business, how you operate it, how often things change and your customers are really going to dictate how often you should send email blasts. Generally, 1-2 emails per month at the most, and 4-6 emails per year at the least is a good rule of thumb. Any more or less and your unsubscribe rates will begin to increase every time you send an email blast.
Get Your People Signed Up However You Can
At Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH, we helped get their guests be aware of the Email Birthday Club wherever they are. Signup forms can be found on their website, linked from their Facebook page, at a kiosk in one of the stores or paper signup forms that can be found at any register. And because of that, they get a lot of signups.
Get the Right Tone of Email to Build Trust
Your emails need to hit the right tone of your audience. And when you are able to hit the right tone with the right messaging at the right time, you’ve got their trust. Continue to work to perfect that messaging and utilize segments within your list to increase that engagement even more.
Get Your Brand Out There
Don’t be shy – you can promote your website & social media channels. After all, when they get done reading your email – you want to keep them engaged.
Don’t Underwhelm or Overwhelm Your Audience
Setting the bar too low or too high is the first step to failure as you embark on your content marketing success. You don’t need to force content out just to keep up with your competition or even larger brands. Find out what your audience wants to hear and how often and stick to that plan.
Don’t Short-Sell Your Expertise
You are an expert in what you do, so prove it. Tell stories about how you got to where you are, lessons you learned along the way and how you continue to grow within your role at your business. People love a good story, so tell yours.
Don’t Feel the Need to be on Every Social Network
There aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with every social media network. There’s barely enough time to keep up with one or two. But if you must, cap your involvement to two networks and work on succeeding there. Each social media network caters to a different audience, so find the one (or two) that your audience hangs out on, and communicate to them there.
Don’t Count on Facebook (or any other network) to Put Your Needs First
As we’ve seen in the news, Facebook is under some pressure. And before they started breaching our trust, they started charging small businesses to really engage with their followers. Don’t expect Facebook or any other social media network to put your business before theirs. The only place you can really control the display of your content to your audience is your website. Not to say that social media networks aren’t valuable tools, but don’t place too much of your budget into them, as eventually they’ll let you down.
Don’t Neglect to Set Up a Schedule
A lot of ‘experts’ will tell you to stick to a literal schedule of content to your site or social media (post every Tuesday at 10am, for example) – but I don’t quite subscribe to that. The way we digest information has changed so much over the last 5-7 years and will continue to evolve. But having a schedule of posting content twice a week or once a week or once a month is a good idea. And if putting a date on it makes sense for your schedule and your audiences reading habits – then do it.
Don’t Be Boring
Your business is unique and the way you operate it is also. Be a unique voice to your audience and add value to their time while reading your content. They will reward you with more time spent reading your content and, in turn, more business (hopefully).
Hopefully some of these ideas help you get through 2018 with your head above water. Some are simple changes & fixes, some require more thought – so if you have any questions, you know where to find us.