Tag: business website

The-Two-Most-Important-Questions-Businesses-Need-To-AnswerThere are certain questions that are easy to answer. What’s your name? What’s your website? Where are you located? These questions are my favorite. There is no wrong answer.

 

But then we get into the sticky questions. What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish? What is your grandmother’s maiden name? You may not know the answers to these questions.

 

While many businesses take the time to make sure their website is visually beautiful, selecting colors that compliment each other and provide a sense of calm, they may not take the time to answer the two following questions:

 

What is your mission?

 

What are the benefits of working with you vs. a competitor?

 

Some people put motivational quotes on their desk. I would argue that every single company, whether you are 1 person or 100,000 people, should answer these questions, write the answers down, and post it on every desk in the building.

 

Knowing the answers to these questions is a powerful tool. Let me give you an example.

 

Here are my answers. Now, I’m only one person so I don’t need to have conference calls and call in the national guard to get people to agree, but knowing this information helps me make informed and appropriate business decisions every single day.

 

What is my mission?

 

To provide the best quality writing for websites, blogs, and marketing materials as possible. To make certain that every piece of writing I deliver to a client is perfect in every way. To be the best at what I do.

 

What are the benefits of working with me vs. a competitor?

 

I provide MORE than just quality writing. I provide the full customer service experience. I am available to speak to all my clients whenever they need help. I never, ever nickel and dime clients. I help in anyway I can, even if that goes beyond what I’m hired to do.

 

I know these answers to my business, and I think about them every time I have a business decision to make. A client needs to talk asap, can I make time for them? Of course, it’s part of what makes me unique. A client wants me to write an article about something I’m not comfortable with. Will I do it? No, not unless I think I can do the absolute best job possible. If it’s not for me, I know other freelancers who can take over.

 

These decisions are informed by what I know I want my business to be.

 

For your business, if you know the answers to these questions, you can also get your business to where you want it to be. Sticking to your guns on these two simple ideas will inform all your decisions, and I would bet very good money, make you a better business for it.

 

Sit down as a team and agree on these answers. Take a full day and refresh your mission and your uniqueness. I promise you will not regret it.

 





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Out With The Old, In With The New

out-with-the-old-in-with-the-newThink about the last two years. A lot has happened in your business. You probably have new services, new staff members, and new customers. So why do you have the same website copy?

You want your website copy to help your business, not hurt it. So right now, take the time to go through it and make notes of the following:

What do you offer?

Do you still offer all the services on your site ? Do you offer any new ones that are not on your site? If someone comes to your site and reads about your offerings, can they understand exactly why your business is worth their time and money?

Do you have the same customers?

Think about those people who hire you day in and day out. Does the copy speak to them? Or does it speak to a customer that used to hire you? Have you updated your copy since the recession hit? Things are different now, make sure your content reflects that.

Do you have a hook and a call to action?

Don’t try to pass old, stale copy by such a web savvy society. It’s not going to work. Updated content with a nod to the times we’re in will represent you and your company in a better light.

Keep your content fresh to attract smart customers who can tell the difference.

How often do you update your web copy?





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5-steps-to-turn-visitors-into-paying-customers

Fact: It is easier to grow your business by increasing your conversion rates than by increasing your website traffic.

You want to focus on turning the eyes you have into paying customers rather than procuring more and more eyes.  Your landing page better rock.

What is a landing page?: A landing page is a page on a website that traffic goes to in order to take action.

The purpose of a landing page: To persuade visitors to take action on your offer.

In order to market your business effectively and make as many sales as possible, your landing page better be hot, hot, hot. And it better contain copy that sells.

If you are a business with a marketing budget that includes Google Adwords, banner ads, PPC (pay-per-click) etc., a landing page is incredibly important. Instead of directing traffic from these clicks to your home page, you should be directing them towards a landing page, or basically a sales pitch.

Now, in all fairness, most small businesses don’t have the ad budget to be paying for banner ads that run across CNN and Google. So my best advice is to treat every page of your website as a landing page.

Which means every page of your website needs to sell. It needs to have the copy that drives customers to action.  Your copy needs to show every visitor why they NEED your service/product. If they can’t have what you’re selling, they will suffer.

Next question. How to accomplish this? I’m going to admit it’s not easy. It takes persuasive writing. It takes understanding what your customers are really looking for. It takes a lot of trial and error. But in the end, if you nail that landing page, your conversion rates go up.

And now the part where the actual advice starts rather than me pontificating some more.

Here are 5 steps towards writing a landing page/home page that gets you results:

1. Provide a clear understanding of what you do

When visitors leave your home page, they should know what you do, how you can help them, and why you are better than the rest.

2. Provide a call to action

This means having clear, concise language where you tell your visitor exactly what to do. If we are not talking about a traditional landing page, but instead your home page, a call to action may be inappropriate. But make sure there is a call to action on another page of your website. If your home page does #1 really well, visitors are going to click on other parts of your site. Make sure the page(s) where you explain your services have a clear call to action on them. For me, just titling my services page Hire Me rather than Services is an instant call to action. Additionally, buttons are a great idea. If you can add a paypal button to the bottom of your sales pitch, you will grab a few impulse buyers. Here’s a great example of button usage.

3. Write in a clear and persuasive tone

Don’t fret about being witty or showcasing your personality (that should all be saved for your blog), but focus on writing copy that is easy to digest. I would go so far as to say, run it past an 8-year-old and make sure they understand what you’re saying. And please, not a smart 8-year-old, a really average one.

4. Place your important points in the first three sentences of your page

Don’t waste time with an introduction. Get to it.

5. Make it about your customers, not about you

An example:

I am a social media writer who specializes in blog posts, newsletters, press releases, and website content.

vs.

I help small businesses take their sales to the next level through focused, customized copywriting.

It goes from selling what I do, to selling how I can help you.

My last piece of advice? It’s a work in progress. Play around, test ideas, and while I would say the written word is 75% of an effective landing page, make sure the design works with it too.





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How To Write Engaging Copy For Your Website

how-to-writing-engaging-copy-for-your-websiteExpert copy writing has the power to raise your website from average to extraordinary. Strong words will draw in readers, converting them from random visitors to customers.

A large part of my business is re-writing static website copy and taking it from drab to fab. My job is to draw in new customers and expertly describe a company’s goals, products, services, and philosophy. A few days ago one of my clients pointed out that I’ve been harping on about how important social media is for small businesses without once mentioning the foundation which all of that is built upon: the static website. It’s time to remedy that error.

Your website can be beautifully designed and offer amazing products or services, but if it doesn’t connect with your readers, it can hold back your growth.

So how do you know if your copy is any good? If it elevates your products and helps make a sale? How do you know if it Wows?

Below are traits of good copy writing, in my opinion. This is by no means the be all and end all of website copy writing, but if you keep these qualities in mind while reviewing your website copy, you should have a good idea of where you stand.

Intent

When writing copy, make sure to consider what the intended outcome is. If you don’t know what you want to achieve with your words, then you can’t tailor them to clearly express your objectives and achieve your end goals.

To achieve effective writing, consider the following: Who are your customers? What can you offer them? What have they come to you for?

Tone

Copy can come across in a variety of ways: conversational, professional, authoritative, etc. Make sure it is consistent across the board. Switching tones throughout the site will be off putting to readers and can lead potential customers to feel hesitant about your site.

This also applies to the narrative mode you choose — either write using the informal (I, me, we, our) or the formal way, using only the company name. Do not switch back and forth or your readers will feel like they are getting virtual whiplash.

Transparent

Do not hide your message behind clever words and riddles. You want your message to be as clear, upfront, and brief as possible. You do not have your readers’ attention for an unlimited amount of time. Waste no words.

Helpful

What is on your site should not solely be about selling your product or service.  It also needs to help your readers decide if you are what they are looking for. This means you have to really think about what your readers want to hear from you and what will cause them to purchase your product or service. You may think 1,000 words on your professional past is interesting and will help sell your business, but what will your readers think?

Engaging

Keep the attention span from waning by using techniques to engage your readers. This can include breaking up text with white space, pictures, bullet points etc. Keeping the tone conversational is an effective strategy, as is peppering your copy with questions posed at your reader. You do want your copy to engage, don’t you?

Call To Action

Don’t assume readers will hire you or buy your product without holding their hand. Simply talking about your amazing service is not enough, you have to have a visual call to action: install a buy button on the side or a scroll bar with your products visually displayed. Make it easy to purchase so the customer doesn’t have to do the work.

Evolving Copy

This strays from the topic of the static website, but it’s worth mentioning that more people will read your static copy if you also have evolving copy (aka a blog). The more new content you have, the more interesting your website becomes, and the more readers you will attract.

There is obviously no magic formula to producing perfect website copy. If you ignore all that is above, keep in mind this last rule:

Write For Your Customer

Write with your ideal customer in the back of your mind at all times. Write so that they will find your content easy to read, engaging, and persuasive.

What do you think? Did I give a good start on the benchmarks of effective website copy? Did I miss anything you consider to be extremely important? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

p.s. I have a guest post up at Design*Sponge today on using a blog to grow your business.  Check it out.





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Social-Media-Business-Blog-Vive-La-Femme-2

Vive La Femme owner, Stephanie Sack, modeling new merchandise

My second Success Stories interview is with Stephanie Sack, owner of Vive La Femme, a clothing store in Chicago which offers the latest looks and trends for Chicago’s stylish women of size.  Stephanie uses a blog and Facebook to promote her store.  Read below to find out how.

1.)  Why did you first start utilizing a blog for your business?  How did your store change from before the blog to after the blog started?

The blog was born after I pared down the entire marketing concept for the shop.  I used to have a very elaborate wesbite, really jazzy and snazzy, but it was a pain to keep up.  As a result, the blog format seemed far better suited to the new, more streamlined vision for the boutique.  Happily the intimate and chatty nature of blogs translated perfectly to my wacky sense of communication!

2.)  Do you use the blog primarily to connect with customers you already have or to also draw in new ones?

Primarily to stay connected but many new customers have mentioned they found the blog and subsequently signed up for the weekly updates online.

3.)  How has the use of your blog evolved since its birth?  Are there any other applications (Twitter, Facebook, FoursSquare) that you’ve considered utilizing as well?

The blog has become very predictable in its layout, tone, and delivery.  Every Friday the blog is updated with pictures and descriptions of our newest shipments, and I have also added our latest arrivals at my new shoe store.  I also make event-driven posts here and there.  Twitter is something I dabble in but it simply does not have the intense effect as the blog postings do…when the email goes out for the latest blog entry, I literally get responses from customers asking to hold items that they see on the blog, and Twitter cannot match that direct impact.  Facebook, however, has quickly blossomed into a major marketing tool for my concepts, and without a doubt contributes positively to sales.  The staff takes turns modeling the new inventory, and I also keep the readership updated on promotions, sales and events. Every now and again I run Facebook-only sale announcements or promotional offers, and people always respond. It definitely adds vibrancy and legitimacy to the vive la femme “lifestyle”.

4.)  What are the biggest challenges to your social media usage?  And what are your biggest lessons learned?

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Everyone loves pictures and images, so I create a continuum of clothes, shoes, and wording to manifest an exciting perception of how I think life should be.  This confidence and clarity is something my customers have come to expect.  I LOVE doing it, and it shows!  I get tons of compliments on my kooky writing style, the cute pictures, and the overall tone of the posts.  Posts have to be done consistently and always go back to a “call-to-action”…you want to make customers excited and eager to come in and buy!

5.)  What are your tips for a small business owner who wants to start a business blog?

Make sure your blog reflects not only the products you carry, but the vision you manifest.  That will keep clients interested and engaged. Post on a regular basis, and absolutely post pictures of new inventory or what is on sale.   Most of all, get behind your concept and promote it with awesome images, unflagging enthusiasm, and well-written vigor!

6.)  You post a new blog post once a week.  How did this strategy come about?  How did you develop your blog guidelines and find what worked best for your company?

I used to work for an arts and entertainment paper than came out once a week, so I am very habituated to that schedule. Clothes come in every week, so I post every week!  Emailing/blog updates go out on Friday to prep for Saturday, the busiest day for boutiques.  Also, I looked at some other fashion/style/boutique blogs that I liked and more or less copied their posting schedule and format.  Why reinvent the wheel?

If you want to learn more about Vive La Femme visit their website, or else visit the store which is located at 2048 N Damen Chicago, IL.  Stephanie also opened a new shoe boutique which carries shoe sizes 9 and up along with fall boots in wide calf widths.  You can find the shoe store at 2031 N Damen Chicago, IL.





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