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Indianapolis Web Design – Next Steps After Our Initial Call

After a recent conversation with an Indianapolis web design prospect, I sent her the following email.  I’m sharing this with you as an example of the way we follow up with each and every prospect that goes through a needs analysis.  Some aspects have been changed for privacy reasons but the ideas remain largely intact.

“It was an absolute pleasure chatting with you both today and learning more about your website project.  I wanted to quickly get back with you while the conversation was fresh in my memory.  It sounded like you need a new website that:

  • Looks great regardless the device you are using to look at it.  In other words, it looks great on a smartphone, tablet or desktop. 
  • Targets your main markets – municipalities (government) looking for consultation
  • Looks completely modern – less stock photography, good use of color, etc.
  • Is easy to navigate for the web visitor and keeps them engaged, interested in learning more and educated on all of your services.
  • Is equally easy to update on your own with new content/imagery/etc.
  • Carries over all of the existing content you want to keep to a new website
  • Is naturally optimized for search engines – easy to find on Google Maps, Google search, etc.
    • The new website will help bring in more visitors
    • The new website will try and help more of those visitors become clients

Please let me know if I missed anything important. 

Timeline:

I would expect that this particular website could be completed within 4-6 weeks of signing as long as the feedback Sharp Guys Web Design receives from your team is timely on suggested changes. 

Finally, please let me know if you would like some references which I would be happy to provide.

I look forward to the opportunity to explore any of this information in further detail and provide additional context and clarity on any specific portion of this project.  Please let me know if you have any questions. “

So why share this with you?  Not because we are doing everything right – this email was written by hand and was specific to the prospect.  While aspects can be re-used, some details are too far too specific to the client or far too general for other clients.  In other words, it may not be the best use of our time.  But what I often hear from prospects after seeing an email like the one above is, “Out of all of the web design companies we spoke to, you are the only one that really seemed to understand my company’s needs.”

There is nothing magic about trying to understand a client’s needs – if a company respects the time of the prospect, it is just common courtesy.  That is something that we are very big believers in at Sharp Guys Web Design regardless of the size of the project or the type of work we are doing.  

How to Use a Screen Capture Software to Train, Educate and Sell

I’m a big believer in using Camtasia for a variety of things.  If you aren’t familiar, Camtasia is, “A powerful, yet easy-to-use screen recorder, Camtasia helps you create professional videos without having to be a video pro.”  And while it sounds like I am really trying to sell you on Camtasia, I’m not.  It is just the screen recording software I have the most experience using and I like it – a lot.  It helps me do my job better and that is the crux of what today’s blog is about.

As a digital marketing agency, I find it useful in so many ways.  Typically at the end of every website project, I will create a custom training video that showcases how to make each and every change on the client’s new website.  This video provides the client three things:

  • Training they can watch when their time allows.
  • A historical record of how to use their new website.
    • This is especially useful as companies often have people coming and going. Having a recorded training video means when people leave, the only organizational knowledge of making website updates doesn’t leave with them.
  • An inexpensive training method.
    • So many agencies want to do on-site training (which is time consuming and expensive). Sometimes these costs are not listed as a separate line item but are a big reason a new website costs $30k+.  Or worse, only very limited training is included because the agency wants to make all of the changes for your company, no matter how easy, while billing you at an hourly rate.

camtasia-scrn-cap1-580-100022129-largeBesides training, it is also useful for education.  One of the things I have done in the past and plan to continue to do is digital marketing tips and tricks videos.  From Google Webmaster Tools education videos to webinars, Camtasia makes things easy.

Finally, as a proposal-sender, I have decided to begin trying something new in 2015.  Instead of simply sending along a 6 page project proposal, I create a 3-5 minute video reviewing the proposal and send it along as well.  It gives me the opportunity to:

  • Inform the prospect of the thought process for including certain items.
  • Sum up the proposal without making them read each and every word.
  • Get in front of the prospect, at least virtually, one more time.

In most cases, I would prefer to have a phone call to review a proposal.  However, my prospects are busy and I want to be very sensitive to their time commitments.  A video gives me the opportunity to review a proposal without making them carve out even more time from their busy days for me.

If you are in a business that has a need to educate, train, or sell to a prospect or client, you may want to think about using a screen recording software.  And if you, like me, aren’t a video editing genius, Camtasia seems to be as easy as they come.

 

The Audit Your Business Can’t Do Without

With tax season gearing up, the word strikes fear into the heart of many.  But there is one audit that your business would not only benefit from, but could help it thrive in 2015 and beyond.
auditA website audit is one of the most valuable things you organization can do as it thinks about moving forward with a new web design.  Often times, when you create a website for your own business, you know so much about your product or service that you don’t explain it well enough for people that know very little (I’m guilty of this as well).  That is why a third party will be able to give you a look from the outside that is invaluable when trying to decide what changes you should make.  When we do web design for Indianapolis-based companies, we will often meet with companies in person and go through a number of different items with them.  Whether or not they ultimately decide to sign on with us to do the work, our hope is that the website audit is a helpful exercise for them.  The list below is from one such audit from 2014 (with some items removed that were too specific to the company we were helping to include here).

It is worth noting that this company was a B2B that provided a SaaS.  My hope is that even if your company or organization is a B2C or a nonprofit, some of the ideas below will be helpful and that the idea of a website audit will resonate.

  • You may want to add calls to action on the client login page – especially around upsell services/client education.
  • Have you thought about doing a live chat that would be specific to your sales team? I’ve seen it increase engagement by a substantial amount.
  • I can click 3 times in a row on learn more on the front page and subsequent pages and don’t get a form to actually learn more until the 4th. Probably losing a lot of conversions.
  • Lead forms aren’t specific to the page I was on – this should be looked at. Without doing this, you:
    • Can’t easily track specific goal completions in Google Analytics. (You technically can by setting up a Goal funnel but very few companies do this).
    • Can’t pass along this valuable information to the sales team.
    • Less specific messaging on the form means fewer people will convert.
  • ‘Submit form’ should be removed from all submit buttons. Even changing the term to ‘Get Help Now’ can increase conversions by 200%.
  • It is great that you have specific whitepaper landing pages. However, the header call to action should confirm that what they are signing up for is what they are getting.
  • You don’t ask for phone number on your forms. What happens to these leads upon form completion?  Do they go into a drip campaign or to your sales team?  What methodology do you use to try and get a phone number?
  • Download now isn’t a bad call to action for the submit button but you should test bigger buttons, different colors – all of these can make a substantial difference in conversions.
  • I like how you guys ask people to visit your blog after converting a lead. You may also want to push people to follow you on Twitter, Facebook or call you for immediate info.
  • Wow! Amazing content.  Great job on the whitepaper I downloaded.  Love the graphics, consistency, overall clean design, etc.
    • Let’s personalize that triggered email you send to receive the whitepaper by using the info we just collected from the user.  We want to make sure they open the email and this personalization may help.
  • I love that you guys are using Google Custom Search. It is very useful since you can see what people are interested in/not seeing on your website within Google Analytics (make sure you set this functionality up in Google Analytics).
    • However, it only costs $100 per year to not include ads. By default Google Custom Search includes ads – even from your competitors!
  • I’d recommend a popup campaign to get people signed up for your email list – it works surprisingly well based on my experience.
  • You might want to have an example of the newsletter people can see on the newsletter signup page.  An archive might make sense as well.
  • Your FAQ is an awesome idea. Another opportunity is to connect the FAQ to blogs that have already been written about the subject on your website.  Great for SEO and for user experience.
  • How do your recorded webcasts convert since you ask for contact details before people can watch them? Even if they are awesome webinars, I’m betting you don’t have a lot of people fill in their info to watch them.  How about setting up the videos without the lead wall?  You could always give them a taste for ‘free’ and set up a turnstile lead entry form 5 minutes into the video.
  • There are two call to actions on the front page – subscribe and learn more. Those two things stand out because they use completely different color schemes.  Are they the most important things you want people to notice?
  • I think a list of logos showcasing the clients you work with on the front page would be a huge help. I have seen those be the most popular component of a website and are ‘proof’ that you are a company visitors would like to work with.
  • Your WordPress website has not been updated since 3.5 – that means the security on the website has been out of date since August 1st, 2013 (over a year at this point). Always make sure to keep your website’s up to date just in case there are security holes that have been found and fixed in updates.  A hacked website is worst than a down website.

 

Would your organization find value in having us do a website audit for you?  We’d love to help.  Just fill out the form to get started.  

 

The Free, Unbelievable Digital Marketing Tool Small Businesses Aren’t Using

What if I told you that your small business can get detailed insights on how to rework your website directly from Google? What if I told you that it would take only a couple of minutes to get started and it is absolutely free? What if I told you that 80% of small businesses have had this opportunity for years and yet they have not taken advantage of it? What is this mysterious, wonderful and free tool for small businesses – Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Webmaster Tools is one of the only ways that Google communicates how things are going with your website unless you are spending buckets of money with them on Adwords. It allows Google to communicate to you if they have penalized your website for some reason and it also allows for them to communicate ways you can improve your search engine optimization.

When I speak to small businesses about utilizing Google Webmaster Tools, even fairly tech savvy business owners aren’t sure what functionality it offers that distinguishes itself from Google Analytics, and to be honest, it isn’t their fault. Over the years, Google has added functionality to Webmaster Tools that used to be part of Google Analytics and unless your day to day job was SEO/website work, those changes would have been easy to overlook. Google has also begun using it as a depot of information and communication for businesses. This too is relatively new and because of this, businesses don’t understand just how crucial it is to their search engine optimization efforts and their success online.

So what can this magic tool do? Besides some of the things I have already mentioned, it also gives you the opportunity to improve your online presence in Google. For example, have you searched for your business in Google and found that there are 4 to 6 links that allow people to directly access different portions of your website – like the image below?

google sitelink

Notice that one of the sitelinks is to ‘Yellowhammer Supply Com…’ which is on my portfolio and is one of my clients and not really a link I want to showcase people before they are interested in seeing my portfolio.  While Google Webmaster Tools doesn’t allow me add the pages I want to directly, it does allow me to remove pages from being shown like this one. I have had many businesses come to me and want a way to remove pages from their branded search results – Webmaster Tools is the way to do it.

You can also submit a sitemap to Google via Webmaster Tools. While newer WordPress-based websites may not need to take this step because they are naturally easy for search engines to crawl, older websites should always do this. And even those new websites can often be indexed faster simply by submitting a sitemap directly to Google. How do you do this? Google gives you the answer.  Besides sitemaps and sitelinks, there are many wonderful things you can do to spruce up your Google search result listing within Webmaster Tools.

One of the things that was taken away from Google Analytics over the last 2 years was the ability to see what keywords people used to search and find your website. This information is now partially stored in Google Webmaster Tools. But beyond that, you also have the ability to now see what keyword phrases people are searching for that you rank in and are shown as a search result in the form of impressions. This is critical if you are trying to see what keywords and key phrases people are interested in that will find you through organic search.  This knowledge is crucial if you are creating any type of content for SEO purposes and have even basic interest in the success/failure of your digital marketing efforts.

I’ve seen businesses spend $10,000 on Adwords per month and not utilize Google Webmaster Tools. It simply must be done and it is one of the greatest tools that Google offers to people that are interested in improving their website and getting more traffic to their website. If you are struggling with how best to use Google Webmaster Tools or you want to learn how to integrate it with your Google Analytics data, stick with me because this will be part of an ongoing content series I will be writing about during January. You can also comment or reach out immediately with any questions.

Why a Salesforce Audit Has Value – Fix Your Salesforce Database in 2015

salesfoceDo you use Salesforce at your business? Or do you just ‘use Salesforce’?

We have seen many businesses that are not getting as much as they could out of this powerful CRM, despite spending thousands per year on licensing fees. In fact, they even:

▪ Lost track of leads and opportunities
▪ Failed to enter their sales activity at all
▪ Continued using Excel spreadsheets and Google Drive docs for lead followup
▪ Had tons of duplicate data and little/no rules about importing data

 

Do you have any of these issues at your organization? The average company loses 12% of its annual revenue due to inefficiencies in data and process. Don’t be one of them.

How Can We Help?

We look at over 20 areas of your current sales/marketing process and how they work with Salesforce. Then we provide recommendations based on our decade of sales/marketing/Salesforce expertise to make sure good leads never fall through the cracks again.

To learn more about our process and how it can benefit your organization, click here to see our step by step Salesforce Audit plan and pricing.

Do you utilize a different CRM or marketing automation software? We have experience with a wide variety of each and would love to help.

PS – Did this blog sound really salesy?  It is, but don’t worry, most of our blogs aren’t.  This one is special because I couldn’t resist re-using good material that describes a service that I haven’t spoken about enough – something small to midsize businesses really struggle with.  Tomorrow, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled digital marketing tips and tricks.

3 Easy and Cheap Ways to Invest in Your Small Business Marketing on a Slow Day

It’s 9:34 am on December 29th and it is new business prospecting day (every Monday I prioritize prospecting for new business at Sharp Guys Web Design).  There’s a problem – no one is awake.  At least not the type of people I need to speak to.  I mean sure, they are likely physically awake but 90% of them are out of the office until January 5th.  What can I do to stay busy?  Write an article about how to stay busy of course!

There are always a million things you can do to prop up the digital marketing efforts of your business.  If you are a small shop like Sharp Guys Web Design, typically these things fall by the wayside.  Why?  Because the guy who does the marketing also takes out the trash, sells the services and implements the client work.  So on a day like today, it is time to do some of the little things that can make a big impact later on down the line.

First things first, let’s do some housekeeping.  Why not start with a little meta description update for each and every page on your website.  Yes, it is slow and yes, it is boring but IT IS IMPORTANT!  These are the words that differentiate your web page from all of your competitors when people do a Google search.  If you aren’t sure how to update these and you’re using WordPress, follow this simple guide –  https://yoast.com/articles/wordpress-seo/   If you are using a different platform for your website, just search for ‘update meta description on [platform].  You are guaranteed to find a few articles.

Many people never add unique meta descriptions for their pages and posts – this is bad because you are less likely to stand out from the pack AND the first words of your page could be used instead.  For example, if you have an ecommerce website, your meta description in Google may look like this when people search for ‘Toy Ball’ –

 

bad toy ball

Instead of something like this.

kong

Based on the description alone, most people would click on the Extreme Ball and not the one with random product numbers.

Next up – it is time to start work on writing a marketing email – email still provides businesses an enormous ROI ($37:1).  Before you start, let’s look at 3 important things you’ll need:

  • An email list to send to – I highly recommend an opted-in email list.
  • To look at who is on your list. You’ll want to tailor your email message for that audience
  • An email marketing software. If you don’t have one, I’d recommend MailChimp.  It’s free for up to 5,000 contacts and incredibly easy to use.

Now, you have emails, an audience you would like to cater to (prospects for example?) and you are all set to use the email marketing software of choice.  Now it is time to begin writing.  What is there to write about?  Since it is the end of the year, why not create an end of the year review or a 2015 forecast/preview.  Some tips:

  • Don’t be salesy.
  • Write to your audience! If they are industry people, write about your industry.  If they are general consumers, write about interesting things that your consumers would like.
  • Write about the types of work you have been doing with other clients.
  • Write about the kind of things you would be willing to read about.

Not a great writer?  That’s ok (neither am I).  Writing is an area where nearly everyone could ‘be better’ – like running.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out there and try your best (except running, I hate running).

So you have some email content – don’t send it yet!  I bet you haven’t even spent 5-10 minutes thinking about the perfect subject line.  Do it!  The subject line is incredibly important.  What’s the point of spending so much time on content when no one will see if if you write a poor subject line.  Need some tips?  I only have one:

Write your subject line like Buzzfeed editors write their headlines.  It is stupid, but it works.

  • 3 things you won’t believe…
  • 5 Ways 2015 will be different…
  • You have to read this to believe it…

While you’re at it – does your email have a call to action?  If not, think about adding one – even if it is just a link to a partner’s website.  Why?  Because you can measure your recipient’s engagement and if people are clicking, maybe they are worth giving a call (when they are back in the office of course).

The final step of your email is scheduling your email send date/time. Maybe today is a great day.  Your prospects may all be off from work but most of them check their email anyway, right?  Not convinced they will check?  Try sending your email a day or two after everyone comes back.  Otherwise, it may get lost in a flood of Kohl’s emails.  There is never a perfect time to send an email – it is different for each and every business.  I recommend sending email on different days/times and see what works best with your own email audience.

While there are a million more digital marketing to-dos we could go through, let’s just finish with one last item.  Let’s go back to your website.  When was the last time you updated it?  I don’t mean adding a new blog.  I mean you truly updated it.  For example you could:

  • Add a new slide that describes a new service offering or product.
  • Update your About Us section to reflect new information.
  • Integrate your website forms with your sales database (SalesForce, Marketo, etc.)
  • Change the language used throughout the website to be more in line with the 30 second elevator pitch you are currently using.
  • Add a new case study that shows off work or a project you are particularly proud of finishing.

So many times these little things get lost in time because we are too busy running the business to talk about it.

I hope this quick guide gave you an idea for how you can use a slow day at your small business to really make an impact.  None of these items should take more than a couple of hours and all of them will give you a tremendous return for a slow day in the office.

What types of things do you do to invest in your company on a slow day?  Need help implementing ideas like this at your own company?  We’d love to help.

Social Media is the Last Place a B2B Should Look for Leads

One of the areas we  do a lot of consulting in is B2B lead generation. Over the last month, I have spoken to a number of business leaders on this very topic. Inevitably we get to the topic of social media and how it can be used for their company to generate leads – my answer usually is something specific to their company but implies it is difficult or time consuming. I want to be clear in today’s post – trying to generate leads for your small to medium-sized B2B likely isn’t worth the time and you will be unhappy with the result.

Now, I’m not saying there is no value to social media and I’m not saying that you can’t generate any leads using a company page/profile. However, in the amount of time it takes to cultivate relationships on Twitter (for example) that will lead to leads, you could have been using your resources to do email campaigns, create whitepapers, perform webinars and seminars that would have provided infinitely more leads and ultimately a MUCH higher ROI.

Why? Ultimately this is due to the way that social media works. B2C’s utilize the power of word-of-mouth to get many people speaking about their products. B2B’s typically don’t have nearly as many clients. A B2B with 100 clients could bring in 50 million in revenue (if the clients were large). The same 50 million in revenue could require a million consumers for a B2C to generate. Social media is all about scale and B2B’s usually can’t scale like a B2C can.

Social media does have practical applications for a large B2B. Using Twitter to provide support for clients can be incredibly valuable (and entirely necessary). In fact, providing support may even lead to social media based recommendations (leads) but again, this isn’t something you should count on.  If you are a small to mid-size B2B and you are looking at your budget for this coming year, make sure to weigh the high cost per lead and more importantly the enormous opportunity cost of not putting your resources into marketing campaigns that convert your time into leads at a much higher rate.

Note:  The one social media outlet you should look at utilizing is LinkedIn.  However, LinkedIn is more of a personal brand-builder than a company brand builder (which is what this blog was about).  It is incredibly useful for personal networking and can even be very good for lead generation.  However, it is still not incredibly useful for a company to simply create a LinkedIn company page; make updates and posts and see any type of return.  In a future blog I will write about some ways that an individual can utilize their personal LinkedIn account to get a good return on their time investment.

My Laziness Begins and Ends With Typing

I’ll happily shovel a snow filled driveway, work on a client’s website until 2 AM, and spend 3 hours cleaning up the house on a Sunday morning (although letting the house get so dirty is another one of my wonderful qualities). But when it comes to sitting down, typing and really writing – I would rather do almost anything else.  It isn’t that I don’t have ideas for things to write – I do, I swear.  No.  It’s due to one reason – I know there has to be/should be/is a better way to get my thoughts down on paper than sitting at an uncomfortable desk and using my fingers to type on a big piece of plastic with letters on it.

I have used Siri, my Android phone’s voice to text, Dragon Naturally Speaking and other less known, but equally poor products to simply speak and have fully formed words land on digital paper.  No matter what, I simply have an unsatisfyingly high error rate and I end up spending more time editing/fixing the bad text than it would have taken to simply type it in the first place.

That’s why on my Christmas list this year is a device or software that simply works.  I want to be able to talk to it and have it translate (in the 98% range) what I am saying to text.  And I understand, the way I say things may sound like I have 10 marshmallows in my mouth at once, but it is nearly 2015!  This year Amazon announced they are working on GPS-controlled drone that deliver single packages.  If that level of innovation can be done for a marketing ploy, surely a machine can be built that understands the malformed words coming out of my mouth.

[This message brought to you using one of those stupid plastic things with a bunch of letters on it.]