Consider building a new website like a new house building project. Many people have completed very successful self-builds but most of us would want the project handled by a professional. Even those who do take it upon themselves to build their dream home often find the need to draft in professionals for certain aspects.  A house is an important part of our lives and a website is a key part of our businesses. If I were looking to build a new house, I’d want the end product to be as good looking, safe, efficient and durable as possible. As a web designer, my house building skills are about on a par with those of a slightly inebriated moose. I may like to think that throwing a few bricks together would be quite straightforward but we all know there is more to sound construction than that! Planning, location, structural design, development, adding all the key features and ‘goodies’, interior design, security, avoiding potholes through ignorance – there’s a heap of traps that can thoroughly ensnare the uninitiated.

Once my house is built, I want it to look fantastic. I want visitors to have a great first impression and then feel right at home once they cross the threshold. I want the design to ‘wow’ but, at the same time, feel familiar and comfortable. I don’t want to challenge visitors to play the ‘where the heck’s the bathroom’ game – only to find it’s been really cleverly hidden, in a cellar, near the shed.

Your website should follow similar rules. There is a saying in the world of web, “don’t make me think!” Visitors want to love your website from the get-go – and you’ve only got about 4 seconds to make that first “come on in” impression. They want to easily and comfortably find the information they need, follow your calls to action and quickly and safely buy what you’re selling.

Great websites, which actually attract and engage visitors don’t just happen. As with your new house building project, creating the perfect site takes thought, planning, technical expertise, knowledge of the industry, understanding of current trends, standards, legislation, and many more skills.

Most people hire building professionals to bring their idea of their perfect home to life as, like me, they possess neither the skills nor tools to make it happen on their own.

Your website is likely to be the most important part of your business marketing toolbox – it can literally make or break your business – so isn’t it safer to have this same building project mindset when it comes to creating your website?

I can build my website – for free!

Sure, of course it’s possible to build your own website. There are any number of companies offering ‘free’ website building tools. I saw two advertising on my TV last night. They tell you how simple it is. You can be online in minutes! And free is good, right?! Oh, wait a minute… TV adverts? They cost thousands, don’t they? How do companies pay for those then if they’re not making any money?

Yup, you guessed it. Not everything you need will always be ‘free’. Sure you CAN make a free website, but how will you know if it’s going to do the job? How will you know it’s got all the features you need to attract and keep visitors? You know how to plan the user experience and appropriate calls to action of course? Don’t worry, for just a few quid, your website builder platform can provide you with some great widgets that’ll do just what you need! Ecommerce, shipping, tax setup, security and payment gateways are a cinch aren’t they? Search engine optimisation, digital marketing, optimised content creation, site speed testing, making sure your site looks great on mobiles (nearly 70% of visitors will be doing the thumb thing on their mobile devices) – you’re comfortable with all that, right?

Remember, it’ll only take you a few minutes to build. Or hours. Or days. Or sometimes (yes we see it regularly) months. How much time can you take out of your business?

Although ‘DIY’ website creation platforms can be free and sometimes even fairly user-friendly, you could be pumping a lot of time into building a website that will end up looking ‘Okay’ or ‘Fine’. What is commonly forgotten however is that the companies providing these free ‘DIY’ platforms are well, companies. The way they make money is by littering everything with advertisements or getting the user to pay extra for bolt-ons to make the website ‘Okay +1’ or ‘Fine plus a bit.’

I wouldn’t want my shiny new house to be ‘fine plus a bit.’ What about you?

Advantages of using professional web design services.

Providing your website’s ‘Positive first impression’.

Hiring a professional web design agency will provide your business with an exclusive and unique website, which is more likely to engage traffic and portray your business in an effective way. Your website is your prime shop window. It needs to look great, establish and build on your brand and encourage your customers to want to engage with you and, ultimately feel comfortable paying you real money for your products or services.

A professional web designer will have created a lot of websites in the past, and for a range of different industries, which means they will know what works and what doesn’t. Experts in the latest technologies, legislation, security requirements and digital marketing, your designer should be a key partner in the marketing of your business. They can help you create, build and establish your brand, advise on a digital strategy, design and manage your online presence and work with you to help grow your customer base – while giving you the time to do what you do best, run and build your business!

Traffic

Although increased traffic isn’t directly proportional to increased sales…… it does help. Some ‘DIY’ companies do offer basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and traffic analytics tools but, professional ‘Don’t do it yourself’ design agencies can offer experience and more advanced SEO and marketing services, which provide you with increased chances of generating more traffic, an increased market presence and potentially increased sales.

Time v Cost

Yes, of course using a professional to build your website is more expensive than going the DIY route. Isn’t it?

Well, building a house yourself is cheaper too but does that mean anyone will want to visit it?

And what about time? How much is your time really worth? It’s not really free, is it? Isn’t that rare commodity more profitably spend on building your business rather than devoting potentially days or weeks creating a ‘Fine plus or minus a bit’ website that customers may visit, and quickly leave?

Trust

People are getting very wise to the ploys and scams of unscrupulous online traders and expectations from website users have never been so high.

Trust is really important, especially if your website intends to sell products and services. It’s very easy for folk to tell when a website looks ‘home-made’ or amateur. You’ll have seen these yourself. If you have a professionally designed website, you will gain the trust of the people visiting your site. Confidence that the site they are visiting is trustworthy is essential. Once a visitor feels comfortable on your site, they are much more likely to hang around and interact with your business. Which would you trust more, a car bought from a dodgy, back-street used car showroom or one from a professional, franchised dealer with up-market, modern, gleaming premises with all the support services in place?

So, in summary…

Whether you decide to build your website DIY-fashion or get a professional designer involved is a matter of choice and probably dictated by your needs. If you’re building a small community project site, then the DIY approach could be a good option. However, if you are looking to drive your business via your website, your site needs to be the best it can be.  If it’s not at least as good, or preferably better than the competition, why should new site visitors choose to do business with you? If you visit two websites depicting businesses in the same area and industry and one has that ‘Wow!” factor and the other looks a bit home-made and limp, which business are you going to engage with first? Okay, maybe I’ve written this article from a slightly biased point of view, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who would rather have someone with a bit of expertise build my perfect new home for me, allowing me the time to focus on what I need to be doing. Which, right now, is getting the conservatory roof replaced. I’ll be calling a builder…

In a nutshell, very! It consistently ranks as one of the best ways to reach customers yet for some reason it is regularly on the back burner when it comes to conversations about marketing. As a company who is keen on email marketing, we want to share with you exactly why this method is so effective.

There are numerous tools in the marketing toolbox for reaching customers. A lot of talk is centred around the use of SEO, social media, video marketing, and mobile engagement. However, we feel that email does not get talked about as much as it should, considering how good it really is when it comes to connecting you and your message to a target audience.

Reasons why email marketing is so powerful

  • Timeless – Unlike other marketing methods which have come and gone, email remains timeless. Email has been in use for marketing purposes since 1978 although it wasn’t until the 1990’s that usage became more commonplace. Since that point email marketing has consistently provided results while at the same time other platforms have disappeared; MySpace anyone?
  • High ROI – According to a Litmus survey earlier this year, the average reported ROI for email marketing is 38:1, which is much higher than the ROI of other digital channels. Email consistently has had a very good ROI over the years regardless of new platforms and channels rising and falling in popularity. A consistently high ROI should never be ignored for a marketing channel.
  • Reach – People often tout Facebook’s 1 billion active users as a reason to use the channel for marketing. Twitter also has a large user base of 255 million people. However, there are almost 4 billion email accounts. Every single user on a social platform such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram use an email to sign up for that platform. The reach of email is simply not comparable to other channels because email completely dominates the landscape.
  • Preferred channel – Studies have shown that email is the preferred contact method for receiving offers and promotional content, beating out snail mail, print and TV ads, and all social platforms and apps. In fact, texts, social platforms, apps, and videos have very low preference ratings at under 20% for each compared to email which is over 70%. This makes complete sense as email is one of the few places that is still easily controlled, and we have the expectation of receiving information and offers for products and services.
  • Open platform – Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms are owned entities and as such can make changes to how they do business whenever they want. For example, if Facebook decided to update their algorithms to show less posts from brands you are at their mercy from a marketing perspective. Email, on the other hand, is an open platform. While Google owns Gmail, Yahoo owns Yahoo Mail and the like, because of the number of players in the game nobody can make a change that will drastically change the landscape of email. If you have built a fantastic mailing list, that asset stays valuable regardless of which email platform you are using.
  • Messaging – Messages are delivered much more easily compared to other platforms. On average, 90% of email gets delivered to inboxes while social media posts are only viewed by a small percentage of followers depending on notifications and settings of your followers. That means email gets your message out there to people more consistently. Additionally, email subscribers typically want the offers or information you are sending because they provided their email to you and have the option to unsubscribe. Feeds, on the other hand, sometimes include a business just because you viewed their website which means users are receiving unsolicited information.
  • Conversions – Email’s click-through rate is consistently higher than other channels. That means you are much more likely to get people to actually visit your site and consider an offer which means more conversions. Additionally, because email is much easier to monitor when it comes to opens, clicks and shares you can analyse performance better compared to other platforms.

In Summary…

The bottom line is that Email Marketing can be the most powerful marketing option in your arsenal. Obviously, it takes time and energy to develop a mailing list, learn about your audience so that you can craft the most effective messages, and selecting the best email marketing tools, but once you do the results are consistently better than every other option. The best part is how easy it is to get started. When you have limited time and resources available, it makes sense to prioritise your efforts around the tools that are the most effective.

If you’d like to find out how we can help you take the next steps with email marketing, call us now on 01548 857774.

No matter what your industry, it’s a competitive world out there! With so many businesses offering similar products and services, digital marketing techniques help different brands set themselves apart. One of the best ways to do that is with a killer landing page.

A landing page is can be linked to from your digital (or even offline) marketing. It is disconnected from the main site’s navigation and is meant to lead visitors to complete a particular action. Other than converting leads to customers, a good landing page increases SEO, collects user data, improves credibility, and increases brand awareness.

Landing page design is just as important as your overall site design. But because is incredibly diverse, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing your landing pages.

There is great opportunity for attracting and converting customers with these simple web pages. The conversion rates of the best landing pages in the travel industry, for example, can be as high as 25.1 percent. Significant!

Whether an airline is selling last-minute flights or a locally owned accommodation business is looking to fill last minute availability, businesses can take advantage of this well-known digital marketing tool.

When designing a new landing page to attract and convert visitors to your site, keep these five tips in mind.

Tip 1: Use a simple design

The purpose of the landing page is to entice visitors to complete one key action. What that action is should be easily understood by viewers and easy to complete. Because the purpose of the landing page is so narrow, it is important to eliminate anything that distracts the user from completing the desired action. Unlike other pages on the site, the landing page should be free of a navigation bar, side menu, or footer. Instead, all content on the page should focus on the call-to-action.

Simple design with deliberate placement of basic elements gets rid of visual clutter and draws visitors to reaching for the offered value.

Tip 2: Create a time-sensitive call-to-action

When a potential customer views your landing page, they should feel like they discovered an exclusive hacking secret that even the most elite web surfers have yet to find. But rewards are most satisfying when scarce and time-sensitive.

A call-to-action can entice a customer to sign up for a mailing list to receive the best deals, download an e-book with helpful tips about your industry, products or services, or to even purchase additional products to complement a previously made sale. Ways to encourage visitors to act on the call-to-action immediately include using a countdown timer or deadline for a particular sale, or offering limited quantity of what they were looking for.

Tip 3: Calls-to-action are mutually beneficial

Even though calls-to-action are meant to provide value to the customer, they are equally beneficial to the business making the offer. Asking a lead for their email address or Facebook profile is a great opportunity to collect information on who the typical customer is and what they want. Visitor data goes far beyond collecting email addresses and basic information. Calls-to-action allow businesses to gather data on user interests and demographics and predict what products or services customers would need or want in the future. This helps create efficiency in marketing and savings in advertising.

Make the most of what learning opportunities come with an effective landing page.

Tip 4: Always be testing, A/B testing

As consumer trends change, the content on any site should adapt. A/B testing is widely used to make sure that the content and web design of any page is optimal for attracting and converting visitors.

As landing pages are meant to convert leads into customers, they should always be included in A/B testing. From background color to headline copy, changing individual elements of a landing page can have a surprisingly major effect on conversion rates.

With frequent A/B testing comes more accurate data. With more accurate data, a business can better know its customers and provide a more personal experience.

Tip 5: Optimize landing page for search engines

Whatever product or service someone is looking for, they will most likely use a search engine to find the best deal. There is no reason a landing page that offers what they are looking for should not be one of the first search hits.

As with any page throughout a website, applying SEO best practices to landing pages is important. Keywords that potential customers search for should be included throughout the general content of the page, including the URL and image text. With a landing page making the first page of a search query, a business can guarantee more conversions.

So, in summary…

Creating an effective landing page is no easy task. Although there are several guidelines for design, digital marketers are always finding new methods to attract customer leads. Because the business environment is so diverse, there is no cookie-cutter template for landing pages.

When creating a landing page, remember to keep the design simple, create a clear call-to-action, use collected data to better understand customers, frequently A/B test elements of the landing page, and optimise it for search engines.

Following these simple and broad best practices can help turn casual site visitors into dedicated customers.

Next steps…

If you would like us to work with you to design and build your own unique landing pages, call us now for an initial chat. We promise not to blind you with any webby science and there’s absolutely no obligation! Call us now on 01548 857774.