Content Matters

Your website is your organization’s greatest communication platform. Competition can copy everything you have, but it cannot copy who you are. Let your ‘brand’ shine! Connect to customers, potential members, etc., online with content that focuses on their needs, provides them with information, and communicates the benefits your products and services provide.

Fresh content personalizes your online presence and gives people something interesting to learn about your business, organization or about themselves.  Whether you write a blog post, article, Facebook post or website page, you want your business to be seen as a vital resource. The right content inspires action and pulls people into your message.  Publish content that people want to read, link, subscribe to and share. Use content marketing to generate a following that continually expands.

 

Deliver valuable information that people will talk about and share with others. Here are some very compelling reasons why your content matters as much as the design of a website:

 

  • Positions You as an Expert. Giving your customers the resources to believe in you is the new way to market. If you have good content, other sites might link to your content, increasing traffic to your site and potentially boosting your search rankings. Reliable and up-to-date content will increase your credibility, engage with your audience, and raise the likelihood that visitors will become customers.
Great content, blogs and articles can also serve as (free!) PR for your business, making you an informative and quotable resource to the press.
  • Connects to Customers:  90% of all corporate websites talk about how great the company or product is, but forgets about the customer. The right content attracts customers and retains their attention. Incorporate a ‘News’ section, and make sure it is updated often. Your news page shows visitors that you are proud of your achievements, and that you’re always striving to grow and develop.

Regularly updating or modifying your website’s content gives you an edge over the competition. People will keep returning to your site if they notice something new to see, learn from or enjoy each time.

 

  • Utilizes your entire web presence. Fact: Only 25% of people land on a site via its homepage. The rest are guided into various pages of the site, depending on the keyword phrases they use in the search engines.  Delivering high-quality content on every page increases your chance of capturing a potential client or customer. Each page of content (with proper meta-tags, title, optimization, and submission) is indexed by the search engines, which increases your keyword coverage.

 

  • Increases Sales: Unfortunately, 76% of online shoppers surveyed report that content is insufficient to complete research or purchase online always, most often or some of the time.? (from eTailing Group; click here to view press release in its entirety.)

Avoid Failure to Launch – 7 tips to successfully introduce your new website to the world!

Months of careful planning, objective setting , design review, content building, and preparation have all come down to this moment’s time to go live and unveil your amazing new website to the world! Of course, as part of your launch strategy, you may be considering an electronic message blast to your core constituency, to get the word out, and build enthusiasm (= get traffic in the door), for the new site and your business. You know, tell them about the whys, whats and goals for providing them with another must visit place on the web.  Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast.

In your zeal to introduce your website, you may inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot right from the get go. How? Not focusing or narrowing the initial communication to your users/constituents, sharing too much information too soon, or by treating the launch itself as a “trial run”, just to name a few.  Here are 7 tips to help avoid “failure to launch”:

Tip 1: Don’t treat the launch as a beta test. Go forth with gusto!  

Like the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present”, and all those months of planning and prep have led to the present.  Seize it, announce your website with confidence, and avoid the temptation to put it out there on a “trial” basis. For example, in your launch announcement, refrain from

  1. language that implies (or, says so directly), that the new site is not yet ready for prime time, and
  2. including a survey at the end of the message, to gather comments and suggestions.  

Instead, don’t set expectations amongst your users and visitors that the site is in a “test” phase; let them cozy up to the new site, (and, e-newsletter if applicable), before hitting them up for feedback.  Launch it, and let it catch on. (More on this in Tip 6.)

Tip 2: Don’t tell the full story right out of the gate.

Give them a reason to keep coming back. You may have a mountain of information you’d like to share, but the announcement message is not the place to do so. For example, if you have several initiatives and projects in the pieline at the time of launch, resist the urge to include a detailed description of each. (We know you’re excited, but…) Instead, include a brief blurb or teaser about one  or two of them, and then link to the related page or post on your website.  Then, be sure to consistently update your content with all the exciting happenings and progress being made on those initiatives, to keep interest growing.  This is of particular importance,  if you will be incorporating a regularly scheduled e-newsletter into your communication strategy, as well as hooks into social media outlets, such as your Facebook page.

Tip 3: Have content ready to publish for at least a month

This ties into Tip 2 re: not telling the whole story on the first day. Keep in mind that the early stages of a new website are filled with many tasks, including generating fresh content. One timesaving deed you can do for yourself is to have content ready to publish, so that you can follow up your launch with great content. Consider drafting a publishing schedule, so you can visualize what you have in the pipeline, as a means of staying ahead of the game. This also frees you up for the many other activities involved in this stage of your website’s growth.

Tip 4: Drop hints about the upcoming launch to build anticipation

An “under construction” message on your current website is a great way to accomplish this. It lets people know that  something new is coming soon, and helps to bolster the launch announcement. This type of subtle hinting can pique the interests of your long-time supporters and constituents. And, those are the people that count the most when your website launches.  If you don’t have an existing website to post an “under construction” message on, get the word out the old-fashioned way…talk about it every chance you get!

Tip 5: Show site visitors a roadmap of what’s to come

This ties into Tip 1 re: treating the launch as a test. No one gets a new site right on the first day. Unless you release your website, anything you think your users will want and need is just a guess. The people who will best help you figure out what works for your users are your users. Including information and posts on your website about your plans for improvements to the site, what’s already in the works, etc., is an excellent way to entice your visitors to make suggestions, and share their preferences with you.  

Tip 6: Solicit feedback down the road

Once your new site has been up and running for awhile, (perhaps a month or two), survey your constituents, (i.e., the folks you sent the initial announcement to + any new subscribers to your mailing list since the site launched), to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they’d like to see, suggestions for improvements, etc. There are a number of online survey tools you can use to easily and quickly create a survey for no or low cost, such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo.  you can then embed the survey on your website, send as a link in your e-newsletter, or send as a separate e-communication.  Of course, it goes without saying (but, I’ll say it anyway), if you take the time to draft and send a survey, take the time to read the responses and “listen” to your users. Let them help you create the best web presence for your company or organization!

Tip 7: Provide easy ways to contact you

When you first launch a site, you have to give visitors ways to communicate with you easily. Your initial visitors are early adopters, and as such, they’ll be critical and will help you find things that might be wrong with the site. Make sure you include an e-mail address folks can send comments/questions to in your initial launch announcement, and, of course, include a “Contact Us” page on the website itself.  

Featured Image: Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash

Presentations: On Blogging, RSS Feed, Email Marketing, Social Media

Upon several requests to republish our presentations, we share them now here on our company blog. All slideshows cover the topics: Web2.0, Bloggging vs. Website, email marketing, online publishing and the measuring outcome of initiatives and campaigns. 

All presentation are available on Google Documents and should work with all browsers. Please let us know if you have difficulties.

 

 

 

 

Note: Keep in mind that I used them during live events and they were meant to support the information I provided talking and discussing with the audience. They are not the whole experience.

All material is published under Creative Commons license. Feel free to use them with attribution and link back to Pauli Systems site: www.paulisystems.net

Slideshows and Recap SBRN Social Media Summer Series

Our Social Media Summer Series at our monthly meetings of our Small Business Resource Network featured fascinating get-togethers and productive, lively, discussions.

The first session’s topic was: “It starts with a Blog Or Get Your Website Social Media Ready“. 

We talked about how a blog – or website update – improves dramatically a static website’s search engine visibility and also serves well as a communication and information hub when venturing into the online communities on public social networks. We talked about the most important features of a blog.

More in-depth look at the most popular blog engines and their differences is available in Birgit Pauli-Haack’s post on 4 Best Blog Engines For Small Business & Start-ups”.

Why People Share? The most overlooked part of Social Media MarketingOne of the fundamental principles of Social Media is information sharing and we looked at the motivations of why people share information with their networks.

At the end of the first evening, we looked at the webstats of a client’s website converted to a blog four months earlier and now publishes four to five times a week. By comparing website traffic prior to the blog, we saw traffic increased 3 1/2 times after the blog and traffic increased 2.25 times on the website’s lead generation page. What we learned is a blog will get you two birds with one stone: It increases tremendously your search engine visiblity and it will provide great, relevant and sharable content for your online business network and will spread ideas & solutions.

The second session was All About Facebook and how to use it for your business.

We walked through the anatomy of a facebook page (as opposed to a facebook profile) and again discussed how to make social media really work with relevant content shared with your inner circle and by collaborating with strategic partners to enlarge the reach by multiplying the posts by, “liking,” commenting and sharing. Again we looked at a few ways to reach beyond your own group of friends by taging partner company pages, working with sponsors of the same event and doing something good for non-profits with whom you might be engaged. 

The discussion after the presentation included suggestions for separating a personal profile from your company’s page, a very important part of Facebook marketing. For small business owners this is an important distinction. On one hand, you communicate with friends and family; but on the other hand, you have friend requests from members in your various business networks who also want to connect with you on a personal level.

It’s not uncommon for business owners to mix business and leisure on Facebook. A company’s brand page will also have “likes” or fans the owner has accumulated through a personal profile on Facebook. You don’t want to bore your friends with business items nor do you want to reveal too much personal sharing to business associates.

The potential conflict needs to be carefully navigated. If some posts or notes are boring to your friends, they might also be boring for your clients and company fans. And even if people are your friends, they still might be interested in your company’s project.

(To be honest, most of my life is related to my work on the Internet and quite a few of my friends are working in the same field so we share some common interests. On the other hand, I am very much involved in community projects as a volunteer and sharing information on the company page wouldn’t be appropriate but I have no scrupels when it comes to shout-outs for my favorite non-profit or cool events around town. Most of my friends seems to have been quite forgiving when I post business techie-stuff on Facebook and I also learned to live with the fact that there might be quite a few hundred people that “hide” my stream from their own newsfeed.)

A lot can be learned about the performance of your social media activities within your audience. Study members of your audience and find out what’s relevant to them. If it’s good enough, they will share it with their own friends. But if it’s not, you are just shouting into the warm summer breeze.

During August’s meeting, people gathered around to learn, “Why You Should Bother with Google+.

We explored why search engine result pages change with different social signals around the Interwebs. We also looked at Google+  Killer Features – Circles, Ripples and my personal favorite Google+ Hangouts. A brief discussion also revealed a very interesting observation: Facebook is for talking to people you know. Google+ is very good to find new people that communicate in a particular space. That is also a phenomenon that Google+ has in common with Twitter, where I discover interesting people all the time.

The last few minutes on the 3rd evening we spent exploring the company pages on LinkedIn. How to create company pages,how to post and how it looks in followers’ news stream. The unique propositon of LinkedIn Company Pages is that you can also list specifically your company’s products and services and your followers, customers and business friends can give recommendations on specific services or products. None of the other social networks allow this kind of product/services-oriented communication.

The three presentations by Birgit Pauli-Haack have been posted on Slideshare.net for download, review and study. 

Session 1: It starts with a Blog Or Get Your Website Social Media Ready!

Session 2: How to Use Facebook for Business?

Session 3: Google+ & LinkeIn – Yet Another Social Network?