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What does your website really say about you?

What does your website really say about you?

Does your website say more than you actually realise about your company?

Do you always judge a company by its website?

If branding represents a company and its culture, is the neglect of the website and marketing, in general, a good representation of how the company is feeling and operating?

Is a good and constantly updated online presence an indicator of the profitability, confidence and health of a business?

 

These are all valid questions to which I’m not sure I have all the answers but I’d love to hear what you think!

In working my way through these musings and on my continued quest to find the question Google can’t answer, I’ve put together five business characteristics that I often come across.  If there’s a faint inkling that one of these scenarios below may represent your company behind the scenes, then only you will know – but consider this, are you subconsciously sending out the wrong message to your current or potential customers? If you do recognise yourself how are you going to resolve the perceived issues?

The excuse of no time or budget is just that, an excuse.  Is now the moment to have a really good look at your digital budget and re-evaluate what you consider important? What extraneous things are you spending your time and money on and what are you inadvertently saying online that could negatively impact your business? 

Start Up Business

You asked a friend, or mate of a friend, to set up your website because they were cheap.  However, the attention to detail isn’t there – perhaps there are different colours in odd areas or strange-sized fonts and there’s no cohesion. The photos aren’t optimised (which makes the site slow) or they’re not uniform in look or shape (some in colour, some in black and white).

What else could you be saying with a site like this?  We’re a start-up that assigned the overseeing of the website to someone whose skills lie elsewhere.  The “designer” just added the content provided and as the person in charge of this wasn’t experienced in marketing it just ended up as a “death by PowerPoint” experience but on the website.  Even worse, everyone involved in the start-up then decided to get involved and with all their differing opinions it’s become a website designed by committee consensus which is never good.   You may not see this from within the business but it is there in the overall impression it gives to those outside the business.

The "No Budget" Business

Are funds so low in the company that you can’t afford to update your site? Is it starting to look like a dusty old shopfront and you just can’t understand why it’s not working as well for you now?  What is this really saying about the state of your business?

Management Mindset

Those in charge can’t see the value in digital and therefore don’t see it as a priority.  The website is starting to look old-fashioned which isn’t a great look. They think that once the site is up and running, then that’s a job to be ticked off the list and forgotten.  They assigned the social media marketing to the junior intern (because naturally, they’re a digital native) rather than an experienced Social Media Manager and then when they don’t get great results, they say social media isn’t working and it’s overrated (exasperating!).

We don't need help, we're just enthusiastic

This site is filled with lots of stock photos (more often than not having nothing to do with their target market),  crazy graphics just because, the navigation is all over the place, the information you’re looking for is difficult to find and there are no calls to action.  They haven’t given much thought to their target market but they’re here and they have boundless energy and enthusiasm so they’ll just give it an optimistic go!

It's all about me

Your website should show potential customers how you can help them and solve their problems but many websites just scream – look at what we do, look at what we do.  If a visitor to the site can be bothered to dig through how marvellous you are they may find the answers to their questions or they may just move on to a site that resonates more with them.

Can you predict how successful a business really is by their website?

So how can you fix any of the above?  Firstly, take a deep breath and put a chunk of time aside in your diary to have a really honest look at your site from your customers’ point of view – what’s the experience like for them as they move through your site?  Can they find what they’re looking for – do you know what they’re looking for?  It’s difficult when you live within the nuts and bolts of your business but give yourself the space to change your perspective and have a good honest look at what potential customers are seeing. When was the last time you looked at your Google Analytics to see how visitors are using your site?  Should you be having a regular catch-up with your website designer and see what ideas they have?

Then evaluate how much time and money you are actually spending on your digital presence and ask yourself how much you actually value it?  Could your website be doing more to drive more business? Do you now need to start building an email list?  Do you need to really get your social media up and running and how do you go about this?  Have you asked your staff what they think about your website and social media?

There’s always lots to think about but one of the things I have learned about websites over the years is that technology and styles move on and what worked and looked great in say, 2012, doesn’t now!  Keep moving onwards …

 

What digital questions would you like to ask?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

Why do some businesses not update their websites regularly?

Why do some businesses not update their websites regularly?

Many businesses have been up and running for a while now but one question that often crosses my mind is “Why don’t businesses update their websites regularly?  Why does their website feel ignored and forgotten?”  I am frequently reminded of this when faced with old, outdated sites that are filled with out-of-date content and broken links or are not mobile-friendly.

So putting pen to paper, I wrote a long list of reasons why I considered people may hate updating their sites (and by default neglecting the rest of their online presence).  I have gathered together what I hope are some interesting thoughts to give you a bit of a nudge in the right (or even different) direction if you know you are procrastinating on this very subject.

All businesses are having to make changes at the moment so this is absolutely the right time for you to have a look at your online presence and see what it says about your company.  This is also a perfect opportunity to review your general digital admin and ensure that all essential information is kept in one place.

Why do businesses not regularly update their websites? What are the Solutions?

Problem: No one in the business looks after the website – no one is interested, it’s not one person’s responsibility, it’s an addon to a job description, not integral.  No one has the inclination or technical know-how to update it. Out of sight, out of mind?

Solution: Is it time to nominate someone and make it their responsibility?  If you are a small business and, by default, this person is you, why not block out a regular period in their diary to review everything?

Problem: In a small business you are trying to do it all and the website updates get pushed to the bottom of the pile.  If you ignore it, you hope that it might go away.

Solution: Could this be outsourced or could you co-ordinate regularly with your designer?

Problem: Businesses don’t think of a website as an ongoing cost.  They think that once they’ve paid to create it, that’s it. They have not allowed an expense contingency in their budgeting to update the site regularly and they find it difficult to reconcile the value of doing this. They can’t see the harm an outdated site is doing to their business and how it makes them look.

Solution: Time to add a website update and maintenance to your company’s budgeting?

Problem: Not seeing the value in updating their website.  All that a business sees is an invoice, not the fact that their website content is current and reflects their business.  As they don’t regularly update their site, they don’t see the value of a good website and then don’t see the damage of a bad website.

Solution: Time to change their mindset and also spend some time studying Google Analytics?

Problem: Not looking at the longer-term picture. Why not? Because updating your website costs money and it’s easy to take the short-term gains and kick the website updates down the road even if this will affect business later on.  Time to rethink priorities?

Solution: Are you as a business focussing on short-term income rather than long-term investment?

Website Check List - Is your Information Up to Date?

To start your review, I’d first of all check the following:

Domain Name – who owns your domain name and where is it registered?  What are the login details and password? When is it renewed and how is it paid for?

Hosting Company – this is where your website is hosted (on their servers). What are the login details and who has access to this?

SSL – Does your website have an SSL certificate?  If you haven’t looked at your site for a while, it may be that you haven’t added one.  You can tell if you do have one by looking at your domain name in your browser and if there’s a locked padlock icon next to it, you do.  If you don’t it says “not secure”.  This is very prominent when someone is looking at your website on a mobile – probably not the message you want to send!

User-Experience – take some time to have a look at your website through the eyes of a new customer.  Can you find easily what you’re looking for and can you find the answers to those frequently asked questions?  Is your site too wordy, are there too many boring stock photos that haven’t been optimised ie, they are slowing the site down?

Up to Date – Is your site mobile-friendly as well?  Is the content up to date or is it starting to look like a forgotten, dusty old showroom?

A New Way of Working with your Website Designer?

Problem: When they designed the original site the Designer didn’t try to understand the business and this made it a painful process.  The resultant website didn’t then reflect the business and wasn’t fit for purpose.  The business is reluctant to spend further money and repeat this process.

Solution: It’s going to take a leap of faith to try again but before you engage a new designer, try and really get to know them – do they “get” your business, where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve?  Are you on the same wavelength? Do they listen to you patiently and explain without jargon?

Problem: In website design, there can sometimes be too much jargon, it’s not easy to understand and can sometimes be difficult to make updates to the website which is why this is ignored.

Solution: Could you ask your designer for a couple of hours of tuition or some short Loom videos to explain how things work?

Problem: Sometimes designers finish the project and then “disappear”. 

Solution: You never know if this is going to happen but good practice is to get all the login and relevant information at the end of the project.

Problem:  As a designer is often freelance, they are often not viewed as integral to or part of the business.  Once the site has been designed and signed off, that is the end of the relationship. Why’s this and how can this be resolved in the future?  Has the time come to review how you work with your web designer? 

Solution: Would you have a better online presence if your web designer had more of a collaborative presence within your business?  How about both of you keeping in touch, regularly meeting (by Zoom at the moment) to update them on what’s happening?  You can discuss together how this can be reflected online and they can, for example, show you insights into how visitors are using your site which may differ from how you think people are viewing it!

Online & Digital Platforms - What Should You Know?

Whilst we are on the subject of updating your website, I though it would be a good idea to expand to your other digital platforms – it’s definitely worth doing an admin audit of them too!

Logins – Now is a good time to audit who has login access to your social media accounts, Facebook Business Manager and Google Ads Account.  How many ex-employees are still on that list or more alarmingly do you only have one person able to login to your various social media platforms and digital advertising? What would happen if you were logged out and do you have accessible recovery emails on your accounts?

Online Platforms – which social media platforms are you on?  Do you need to be on all of them or should you concentrate on the one where the majority of your customers are (and manage that one really well) and deactivate the others?

Google My Business – is this up to date.  Are your opening times correct?  Who has access to this? How often do they check it’s accurate and do they reply to reviews that you receive?

Biographies and Company Information –  are these current on your social media platforms?

Opening Times – are these correct on your social media and Google My Business?

And Finally ... A Photographic Review - Have an honest look!

Images – why not have a review of the images you’re posted and those on your website.  Are they in focus, straight and cropped nicely? Are they all the same size and shape?

Social Media Feeds – still photograph related …  are images or graphics being repeated on your grid or feed. Are they the correct size/ratio? What does your Instagram grid look like?  Try and aim to post something different each time otherwise it can quickly look spammy and messy.

Graphics – if you have some time, why not try out something like Canva.  They offer a basic free version so you can have a go making something more interesting for your social media feeds.

Linkedin – how’s your header image looking like on your LinkedIn profile.  If you’re still using the generic one and don’t know how to add a new header, then drop me a line and I can create something simple for you to add to your page!

Phone Camera – now’s the time to really try out the phone on your camera and see just how creative you can be.  Trying editing, cropping and filtering your photos and see how you can grow your portfolio.  Go and take photos and enjoy what you usually rush by!

Why do some businesses ignore their outdated websites?

Is there anything digital you'd like to ask about?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

Glossary of Terms – Cutting Through the Jargon

Glossary of Terms – Cutting Through the Jargon

If you come across people who like to speak in acronyms or jargon, then you probably won’t find that very helpful when you are just starting out or establishing the digital side of your business.
In this month’s Take Five, we’re having a look at a few small but select digital terms that you may well come across when setting up your business and we hope that you won’t now have to ask what someone’s on about!

Websites

Domain Name – this is the address where visitors can access your website eg www.designandbesocial.com. 

Hosting Company – this is where your website lives (on their servers).

SSL -this should be added to your website when it goes live (a padlock will appear next to your domain name).  If it’s not there,  you then see “not secure” next to a domain name in a browser. SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server (at the hosting company) and someone’s browser (eg Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer).

HTML & CSS – HTML is code that a basic website is written in and CCS stands for Cascading Style Sheet which means that if you alter the styling of something in CSS ie colour for your links – it changes everything throughout the site.

UX – User-Experience – so important and sometimes overlooked in preference for an over-designed look and flashy widgets.  A good UX means a site is designed with your customer in mind and ensures they can easily find what they are looking for (important!).

Social Media Marketing

Hashtags (#) – a # is a way of connecting your social media posts to other social media posts on the same subject eg an event or location.  You can also search for a specific hashtag which is relevant to your business by using a # search. This is more useful on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn rather than Facebook.

@ Tagging –  tagging someone in a social media post or photo notifies that person (or page) that they have been mentioned or included in your update or photo.  It can help them/you join in with the social conversion or alert them/you to something interesting that they/you might like to share.  On your Facebook Busines Page, if you don’t have an @name underneath your Company Name, you can’t be tagged.

Bio – short summary of your business on your Facebook or Instagram page with important information and relevant links. Important – not to be neglected.

Scheduling – by planning and scheduling your posts using something like Buffer or Planoly you can save yourself the panic and rush of trying to post on the go.

KPIs – these are used to measure the success of Social Media and Advertising campaigns. Your KPIs can be any type of analytic you choose eg, engagement,  follower number growth, click-through rate or bounce rate.  This should be agreed on at the beginning of a campaign but regularly reviewed.

Facebook Advertising

Boosting a Post – boosted Facebook posts are less complex than Facebook Ads.  However, a boosted post is simply a regular Facebook post that you put money behind to reach a wider audience. An Ad offers more advanced solutions.

CTR and CPC – Click Through Rate and Cost Per Click – two metrics you should consider when looking at the data for your Facebook Ads.  The CTR (expressed as %) is the number of clicks on your advert divided by the number of impressions (the times it is seen).  The CPC is the price you pay for each click on your Facebook ad. 

Business Manager – this is where all your adverts should be run from.  You should set up your own Business Manager and then let others have access to your BM (not the other way round).  It also means you retain your own data and control of your page, audiences and previous ads, etc.

Audiences – these are created in your Facebook Business Manager and can be interest-based, location-based, visitors to your website, lookalikes of your audiences – the list goes on … This is who you show your ads to.

Facebook Pixel – this piece of code, created in your Business Manager, needs to be added to your website so that you can track and target visitors to your site.  If you’re running ads without a pixel (and there are even a couple of very large corporations who do this!) then you’re just wasting your money as you can’t utilise any data to create an ongoing strategy.

Images

Pixel Size – the actual size of your image.  An original image may be up to 6000 px in width but if it is being used on a website the image should be reduced considerably so as not to cause slow-loading of your site.

Pixellating – this is what happens to an image that is, say 200 px wide, and is increased to 500 px in width. The image becomes blurry.  If this happens you need to find the original image file and resize it correctly.

Cropping – this means removing unwanted areas from an image. This basic process is carried out in order to remove unwanted detail from a photo or to improve the overall composition.

Saturate – this means to increase the intensity of colour in a photograph.

Filters – by using specific software or an app, you can change the appearance of an image by altering its shade and colour.  Filters can be used to increase brightness and contrast as well as adding a  wide variety of tones, textures or special effects.

Digital Acronyms

B2B or B2C – Business to Business or Business to Customer – used in an advertising context.

CTA – This button used to grab your customers’ attention – to make them click, purchase or provide their email address. A CTA can be used on your website, in your email campaigns or in your social media advertisements.  It should be obvious.

ATC – Add to Cart – on an eCommerce store.

PPC – Pay Per Click – in relation to advertising.

ROAS – Return on Ad Spend – a metric used to show how effectively your money is being spent on digital advertising.

What do you actually mean?

Is there anything digital you'd like to talk about?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

Why are Social Media metrics so important?

Why are Social Media metrics so important?

You may have been running your social media for a while, or someone else has on your behalf, but how do you know what has worked and what has been successful?  What’s the point in spending all your time posting on social media if you’re not checking regularly to see what’s effective. In this “Take Five”, we’re discussing questions you might like to consider in conjunction with your social media strategy.
Depending on what you’re trying to achieve via your social media eg brand recognition or driving traffic – different metrics will mean different things for you.  In reviewing your insights, why not take the time to review which platforms are effective for you – your business doesn’t need to be on them all.  It’s better to run one platform really well than to try and do too much and spread yourself too thinly.  Be where your target market are.

Follower Numbers

Many people become obsessed with how many followers they have on their platforms.  These are “Vanity Metrics”!  It is far better to grow your followers organically and have an engaged and interested audience than lots of followers but not much audience activity on your account.

Be honest – have you bought followers?  This is a really bad practice (see vanity metrics above).  They won’t be your target market (and may not even be in the same country as you).  What you do need to consider is do your follower demographics match your target audience? 

Optimum Posting Times

Have a look to see when your followers are online and post accordingly. Try out different times during the day and see what happens.  Annoyingly Facebook are now only reporting these results within your Page Insights in Pacific Time Zone so a bit more thought has to go into analysing them now!

Images, Reels, Videos or Graphics?

  • Check to see what’s working on a regular basis.  What’s more popular – single images, reels, multiple images, videos or graphics?
  • Is there a particular subject matter that seems to be going down well?
  • How does your Instagram feed look – are your pictures of a quality that keep followers coming back?
  • Did you try something new?  How did that work?  It’s Ok to keep testing and refining to see what’s resonating with your audience.

Content

Questions to ask yourself … 

  • What’s working – subject matter-wise?
  • Which posts are not working so well? Were they too salesy and less social?  
  • Too much text? Not enough text?
  • Did you engage with the audience and ask them questions or did you just transmit and not seek engagement with your post?  Don’t forget the “social” in social media!

Engagement

A more important consideration is your engagement rate. As mentioned above it’s not great if you have loads of followers but no engagement.

What’s your reach like? How many shares, comments or mentions is your account/page receiving? How about setting up an Excel spreadsheet to record your numbers weekly so that you can obtain an overall picture of how things are working.

Referrals – if your goal is driving website traffic – what are your Google Analytics looking like?

One of the things that may have an effect on your engagement is reach (the people who will see your post) and whilst organic reach on Facebook has been declining dramatically over the last few years, it now seems that similar is happening on Instagram.  With the algorithm being regularly being tweaked it can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle.  At some stage, you may consider allocating some of your digital budget to Facebook/Instagram advertising to ensure that you’re keeping in front of your customers (and discovering new ones).

How do I know if my social media strategy is working? What questions should I be asking?

Would you like to find out more about what we do?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

Why does my business need to be on Social Media?

Why does my business need to be on Social Media?

Of course, your company can exist without Social Media but have you ever considered how much business you are missing out on because you don’t use it or your platforms are looking a bit neglected?  If you think it is too time-consuming, that you are not comfortable with it (and you would rather it go away) or that it is not for you, then think again. 

We all need to learn new skills and different concepts so don’t shut the door on something you don’t understand, stick your fingers in your ears to block it out or just ignore it and hope it will go away!  It won’t and if you think like this you could be affecting your profits (and not in a good way) …  This is my second “Take Five” which I hope will give you the confidence to head out on your social media adventure.

Which platforms should I be on?

This all depends on your business!  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to be on everything (because that’s what everyone else is doing) because all you’ll end up doing is spreading yourself too thinly and not reaping the benefits.  A corporate company will gravitate towards LinkedIn whilst a designer may head straight to Instagram and Pinterest and a holiday rental may split their resources between Instagram and Facebook.  It all depends on your target market (and what your customer profiles are) and where they hang out online.

What's the minimum you need to do?

Time – One of the worse things to do on your social media profiles is to post randomly – all in one go and then post nothing for months.  If you’re going to run your social media yourself then think about how much time you can dedicate to it whilst running everything else.  Block out some time in your diary each day or each week to create your strategy, content and posting schedule. Don’t underestimate how much time it takes.

Knowledge – Social Media should be integral to your business marketing, not an afterthought or something you’ll do when you have a moment.  At the very least you should understand the basics, so if you’re feeling unsure then think about booking a power hour with an expert to put you on the right track. The more you use each platform the more you will become familiar and comfortable with it. 

What are the common mistakes to avoid?

Not engaging with your customers – don’t leave their comments or questions unanswered

Just broadcasting and selling and not being social and engaging.  Don’t forget the social bit of social media

Using poor quality photos – blurred, wonky or wrongly sized

Undervalue how important Social Media is for your business

Not posting regularly – just sporadically.  If you can only manage once a week, then put it in the diary, plan out your strategy

Producing dry corporate (over managed) content – be authentic, be real – keep the same tone of voice throughout all your posts

Forgetting or not bothering to look at your social media statistics – if you don’t, how do you know what’s working and what’s not?

What are the advantages of being on Social Media?

Helps your customers connect with you and you communicate with them

Increased and continued awareness and exposure of your brand and products.  How can you attract new customers if they don’t know about you?

Ability to update your business news as it happens

Build a network and make new connections

Should I outsource my social media management?

Yes.  If it really isn’t your thing then don’t ignore it but get an expert in. It will leave you with more time to do what you’re good at and run your business.  A qualified social media manager can really enhance your business.  They will create a strategy, plan your campaigns and positively promote your business, engage with your customers in an appropriate manner.  Don’t under estimate a good social media manager!

At some stage you might also like to think about Facebook and Instagram Advertising – and we’re not talking about dabbling with a boosted post or two  (but that’s a blog for another day).  Again if you feel this would benefit your business then get someone in who knows what they’re doing – Facebook and Instagram Ads are extremely effective when targeted and executed in the correct way.  

 

 

Does my business really need to be on social media?  I’ve got some many other things on my plate, I don’t know where to start …

Still not sure in which direction to go?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.