Thanks to the Internet, many entrepreneurs can maintain a strong online presence without ever setting foot in an office. But just because you can make a digital office doesn't mean you should neglect your website.
The power of the Internet lies in its ability to showcase information that might otherwise be difficult to access or expensive to create. While this allows for more effective communication with customers, it also means that a strong web presence is critical for any successful business.
This article will provide four helpful tips on how you can make your company's website --and online business--stand out from the competition.
1. Build Trust through Design
A lot goes into creating an effective website. Carefully considered colors, convenient navigation options, and useful information all contribute toward making visitors feel comfortable while they are browsing your page.
But just like a physical office, a website serves as an advertisement for the business it represents and must therefore also be designed to build trust between customers and clientele. If you can't afford a talented web designer on staff, try researching through social media or other online sources to find someone qualified at building attractive but functional pages.
Technique to Try: User Experience Design (UX)
What Is User Experience Design (UX)?
User experience (UX) is how a person feels about using a particular product, system, or service. User design takes this further into the realm of improving, enhancing, and streamlining user experiences that ultimately improve customer satisfaction. This can be achieved through better understanding what the customers want from the product/service, focusing on user requirements, and then meeting these needs to achieve their goals.
A good UX is achieved when you have improved your website's or app's usability by removing unnecessary elements while making sure it understands its target group by listening to them and also including their opinions in your development process. What makes some products work so well? It's because those brands know exactly which features will satisfy their target market's wants and needs rather than assume they know what is best for them.
Here are some of the best UX design tips to remember:
1. Personalize Engagement with User Data
Apps or websites need to build smartly off data collected from their users to ensure they're as useful and personalized as possible. A great example is Google Now, which (among other things) lets you track packages, set reminders for upcoming flights and events, find nearby restaurants, and more. The app proactively surfaces the information it thinks will be personally valuable in a single stream, so users don't have to go hunting around within the app.
2. Streamline Signup Processes with Single-Minded Messaging
Your early mobile app designs should focus on clarity of messaging, especially if you want to avoid losing potential users before they've even installed your product. A lot of designers make the mistake of attempting too much at once, but users aren't interested in wading through dense pages of text to learn about your app's features and benefits. Instead, take a page from Uber's playbook by keeping user signup messaging clear, concise, and consistent.
3. Make Navigation Intuitive with Visual Hierarchy
Users should be able to find information quickly without having to scroll through a sea of content. To help with this, designers should employ visual cues that indicate what's most important within the website. It could be subtle animations or icons, or even stark color contrasts, like bright yellow on black (as seen in Amazon).
4. Simplify Multi- Step Tasks for the Greatest User Experience
Too often users have to interact with multiple screens just to accomplish one task. In such cases, there's a need to consolidate and simplify.
Take, for example, the process of ordering a product on Amazon. It is so incredibly streamlined that users can now buy on the site using a single-field search. Plus, it has built an amazing ecosystem that users can shift from desktop to mobile devices conveniently and manage their orders using other types of tech like Alexa.
2. Create Valuable Content
While considering design aesthetics, remember that content is still king. Even if you have hired the best web designers in town, no amount of visual appeal will make up for weak content on your company's site.
Despite corporate logos being more widely recognized than ever before, people still want relevant information, which describes what your business does and how it can help them. It is essential that you dedicate time to creating engaging copy for your site, as this will inspire visitors to stay on your page and explore other parts of it.
Technique to Try: Long-Form Content
What Is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is any piece of writing that has more than 2,000 words. Some marketers consider 3,000 to 5,000 words the sweet spot for long-form articles, though these lengths aren't set in stone.
Depending on your topic and style, you might be able to get away with a shorter article or stretch a post past 8,000 words (or much longer). The "right" length for your posts often depends on how much information you're looking to convey.
Whatever length you choose (it's a good idea to experiment and see what works best), remember that you need quality over quantity. Quantity doesn't matter if your reader gets bogged down by superfluous text or becomes bored halfway through.
Long-form content works best for:
Informational pieces (e.g., tutorials and case studies)
Content that educates or teaches readers how to do something
Thought leadership articles and content marketing pitches (i.e., editorially-based posts created on behalf of clients)
Articles as an alternative to a press release distribution service
Reviews of products, books, apps, and other forms of entertainment
Opinion pieces (editorials and commentary)
List posts with more than 5 items (e.g., top 10 lists, guides, and "how-to" posts)
Long-form content has a number of unique selling points that set it apart from other types of content:
1. Quality Backlinks
If you want to rank for competitive keywords, focus on publishing long-form content (3,000+ words). Google displays longer articles higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), and this is especially true if the content is original.
In fact, the longer an article's word count, the greater its number of inbound links. In other words, Google considers long-form content to be more authoritative and trustworthy than shorter posts (if it contains a variety of unique content).
In addition to increasing your website's domain authority (DA), publishing long-form content is one of the best ways to generate backlinks from high-authority sources.
2. Increased Time on Site
When users search for specific keywords or topics on Google, they're looking for answers that will provide immediate satisfaction. As a result, they often abandon their searches if they can't find what they're looking for quickly enough. However, this doesn't mean users don't want informative articles. It just means they don't want to waste time reading content that isn't helpful.
The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. Let's say you publish a post with 2,500 words and it contains useful information that readers find valuable (i.e., readers complete the article). Your post will keep users on your site for 10 minutes as opposed to 10 seconds if they read an unhelpful piece of content.
3. More Social Shares
In an industry survey, an overwhelming 90% of marketers said that social media has increased business exposure, while 75% claimed they boosted their traffic through this strategy.
Meanwhile, a study from BuzzSumo revealed that long-form articles like list posts create more social media shares than common generic content formats. They are likely to receive twice as many shares as infographics and how-to posts.
4. Easier to Research
The first step when writing a long piece is knowing what you want to say and how you want to layout. If you're writing a 1,000-word article, that's pretty easy. If you're writing 10,000 words or more it takes some time to get the architecture of your argument in place.
It can be difficult to get started with shorter articles because marketers have less space to cover all of their points. Longer pieces make this process much easier. However, it's important not to fall into the trap of padding content just for word count's sake.
5. Higher Conversions
If you want to maximize profits from your website traffic, don't dismiss long-form content. According to SumoMe, Amazon purchases are 382% more likely after visitors view a product page with product recommendations than they are after visitors view a product page without them.
3. Leverage Social Media
With the proliferation of social media in recent years, many businesses are finding more success by integrating their sites with online communities like Twitter or Facebook. By adding community features such as forums and blog posts to a company's website, owners can develop their brand identity among customers while also gaining valuable insights into the wants and needs of people who use your services on a regular basis.
Social media should be one aspect of an overall web strategy that includes both interesting content and effective design, but by utilizing these networks, you can greatly expand the visibility of your brand without spending too much extra cash on advertising.
Technique to Try: Automate Posting
Benefits of Automated Social Media Posts
Rather than sending individual posts to each of your social media profiles, it's much easier and time-efficient to automate social media posts. You can accomplish this by using an app that is available on most social networks or a software/website dedicated to Social Network Management (SNS).
Here are some reasons why you should automate your social media posts:
1. It Saves Time
No more logging into multiple accounts every day to share new content. You only have to do it once, and the automation tool will send out content across all of your social media channels at the same time.
2. It Enables Real-Time Sharing
The best thing about having all your profiles connected is that you can schedule real-time updates instead of waiting to have time to post something. For example, you can schedule your Twitter posts from Instagram if you're in a hurry or you want to share some photos before going to bed but don't have the time to post them.
3. The Process Makes Things Easier
You can use automation tools that not only help you with scheduling social media posts but also give you cool analytics on your content and accounts. For example, Buffer tracks how well your content is doing across different social networks, allowing you to quickly identify which ones are working best for the said content and which ones are not so good at all.
4. It Helps You Discover New Audiences
With automation tools, you can track who is responding to your posts and what they're saying about your content. You will also be able to see which networks are the best when it comes to engaging with users.
5. It Makes Social Sharing More Personal
Lastly, social media management tools let you connect with friends, fans, and followers across multiple platforms. This allows consistency in conversation and engagement no matter where they are on a specific network. It becomes easier for both parties involved because there's only one window of communication instead of five or six.
4. Easy Access to Online Software or Apps
With traditional office costs climbing, businesses are increasingly turning toward technology to help them produce documents and other material from home. Even if your business maintains a physical office on top of an online presence, you might find that using cloud-based applications is cheaper than paying for new hardware or hiring someone to maintain existing systems.
Also, as a business owner, you know how important it is to be up-to-date with your customers' preferences and demands. And customer feedback plays a huge role when it comes to improving business services or coming up with new products or promotion strategies. But one thing that most business owners forget about is enhancing their own knowledge and expertise by using online tools.
Technique to Try: Online Marketing Tools
Best Online Marketing Tools
Here's a list of some great online tools which can work for any type of business:
1. Bing Ads Intelligence Tool
While many marketers use Google AdWords, Bing Ads provides an affordable way to reach your target audience through various features like keyword suggestions, ad comparisons, and customized reports.
This tool provides a competitive analysis of an advertiser's website with respect to organic search, PPC, keywords, and ad copies. The users can also compare their campaign performances with those of their competitors on Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Yahoo Search Marketing platforms.
3. Moz Open Site Explorer
If you want a detailed report about your website's organic traffic, backlinks, and keywords, then Moz is the perfect option for you. The tool delivers in-depth SEO research, which helps marketers identify the areas that need attention so that they can make informed decisions when it comes to marketing strategies or rebranding campaigns.
4. Social Mention
This tool analyzes conversations on various platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc., and allows users to find out what types of content people are talking about on social networks. It also provides analytics on influencers, hashtags, and top keywords for a particular domain within the platform.
5. Google Trends
Google Trends is an amazing tool that tells you about your user's interests based upon their search history. With the help of this service, marketers can create more targeted campaigns that will certainly give better results.
Marketers who want to know what questions their potential customers are asking online need to check out Quora. This tool presents questions related to a specific topic, which have been asked by thousands of people all over the world. It's certainly something that can be useful in building your marketing strategy.
Another useful online tool that helps marketers come up with a full-fledged marketing campaign is HubSpot. The platform allows users to create, launch, analyze, and optimize their lead-generation campaigns along with assessing the ROI of their marketing budget.
8. Salesforce Marketing Cloud
This web application provides businesses a way to easily store data on prospects as well as contacts. With this CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, marketers can see complete details about customers like communication history and emails, which will certainly help them better understand the target audience's behavior and preferences.
TweetDeck is a great Twitter management tool that allows you to schedule tweets for a future date and time. This tool is a great way to analyze Twitter feeds and also to manage multiple accounts with ease.
10. Google Analytics
For all those who are looking for a free web analytics tool that provides you information about the source of traffic, keywords used for search, demographics, etc., then Google Analytics might be an ideal option. You can also track your online ad campaigns on all major platforms like AdWords and Bing Ads through this amazing service.
Web presence is more than just a website. You might put great effort into creating an effective site, but it is still only one piece of the online puzzle. To get maximum exposure for your company, you should try sharing articles on social media, responding to comments on forums, and keeping track of reviews, which appear on sites like Yelp.
Remember that the Internet was built with content sharing in mind, so even if you do not have a physical office, you can leverage these existing networks by providing interesting material to people who want to learn about what you are selling.
By putting forth honest effort and budgeting your web strategy accordingly, every business has the potential to create an effective online presence no matter how small their marketing budget may be and compete or even surpass the performance of your competitors.
If you want more tips on how to run your business online, check out this article about 8 Ways to Improve Your Business Now .