For your business to grow and to effectively cater to your audience, they need to be able to easily find and communicate with you online. That’s why it’s so important to invest in quality web development. However, web development is made up of a variety of different elements, from the overall design and build to SEO and coding, sometimes making it difficult to see the bigger picture. However, almost everything can fall under three key elements which lead to effective web development and design. By using these elements to guide the different aspects of web development, you can ensure your website facilitates meaningful connections with your target audience.
1. Web Design With a Purpose
When you hear web development, you probably fist think of web design. After all, your site’s appearance significantly influences visitors. However, your web design should do more than just look good. When done right, web design can do a lot of heavy lifting for your site.
Guide Visitors- Visitors typically look at a site in an F pattern, starting in the upper left-hand corner and moving across the right and down. However, their attention doesn’t often last to the bottom right of your site. This means, the upper left-hand corner gets the most attention while the bottom right gets the least. Organizing the information on your site with this in mind helps you guide visitors to high priority information.
Highlight Priority Info- Speaking of high priority information, depending on your marketing goals, you can easily highlight what’s most important to your business. Trying to generate more leads? A well-placed contact form can help. Driving sales? You can highlight some of your top selling products or sales right on the home page.
Cultivate a Relationship- You can’t talk to your audience all the time, but your website can. Your site’s appearance can go a long way to cultivating a relationship with visitors. Everything from the way your site makes a visitor feel to what the images and content communicate makes an impression on them and lays the foundation for what will hopefully be a long-term relationship!
2. Effortless User Interface
Whether your site is simple or has a robust ecommerce, excellent user interface (UI) is essential. UI determines the way that software works for the customer and how they interact. Within your website, user interface may include icons or graphics, along with tables, animated elements, and buttons. Think of the way you interact with Microsoft Word or Facebook. To give the user a great experience, UI should be:
Clear- Users should understand how to interact with your site. It should be intuitive with clarification when necessary. For example, if the user hovers over a button and isn’t sure what it does, a small text box will appear with an explanation. Remember not to fall into the trap of over explaining!
Familiar- One way to ensure your UI is clear is to make it familiar. Use icons and graphics that mimic things visitors are familiar with, such has a shopping cart for their inventory or a chat box to talk with an online representative. This helps visitors jump right into using your site with little to no learning curve.
Responsive- Online users have little patience for slow sites. If your UI isn’t quick, visitors will go elsewhere. When visitors leave, or “bounce” quickly from your site, it not only loses you sales but hurts your SEO. Poor coding can contribute to a slow site, so make sure your code is clean.
3. Positive User Experience
When done correctly, web design and UI create a positive user experience, or “UX.” (Which is great for SEO) User experience is exactly what it sounds like, the way that visitors feel when interacting with a website. For example, does the customer find the website cluttered or clean? Are they able to easily navigate, and do they attach an emotion to the external aspects of the site? A positive user experience means visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and return later! Here are a few tips for ensuring a positive user experience.
Don’t Expect Users to Remember- If there’s something particularly important you want users to see and use, such as a special offer, contact info, or promo code, make it easy for them to use it once they see it. When on a site, visitors are using their working memory, also known as short-term. Nothing is more frustrating than having to write down a promo code on a site so you can use it later. Instead, allow the promo code to automatically apply to their cart once they click on it!
Don’t Overwhelm Them- Your site has a lot to offer, but there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. If users feel overwhelmed on your site, they won’t find the information most important to them or they’ll leave. Instead, break things up so visitors can easily digest information. Also, visitors can get sensory overload which contributes to a poor user experience.
Be Personable- Remember, your site is a representative of your business and brand. Don’t be afraid to be personable and address your target audience directly using “you” language. For example, “You’re tired of products that make big promises but don’t deliver. You’re ready for something different. We’re here to help.” This helps to form a relationship, make users feel understood, and contributes to a great user experience.
Web development is made up of many tiny parts that, when assembled correctly, come together to make an amazing site for you and your target audience. It may seem complicated, but by using these three key elements a guide, you can ensure your site helps you achieve your goals.
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The professionals at MLT Group partner with you to understand you, your business, and your goals, so we can create a website that meets your needs. We handle the nitty gritty, using industry best practices and overcome obstacles creative solutions.
Starting a company blog sounds great in theory, but when put into practice, you can experience many obstacles. These obstacles stop many businesses dead in their content marketing tracks.
To succeed, you need a sound content strategy and the right inspiration to follow through with it.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the right way to start a company blog, show you excellent examples of them using content marketing the right way, and provide extra tips to make your words stand out against the competition.
The #1 Reason Content Marketing Doesn’t Work For Most Businesses
Simple, the company never answered this simple question:
What purpose do you want content marketing to serve?
Without the right answer to this question, you won’t build a solid strategy.
Without a solid strategy, you’ll get frustrated and wonder why your plans aren’t working.
If your plan isn’t working, you’ll give up on the process altogether because…you won’t have a clear reason why you shouldn’t give up. A guiding philosophy and purpose makes research, goal setting, and follow through much easier.
Step 1 – Develop a “Why” Behind Your Blogging Strategy
There are many solid reasons behind any content marketing campaign.
Here are a few different ones:
Thought leadership: Companies and innovative industries do well by establishing their expertise through content marketing
Product information: Many products, e.g., cameras, require lots of education before purchase. These companies can write posts to educate users on the features and benefits of their products
Helpful tips: Does your product or service do well with tips on using it effectively? Make your blog an educational resource
Entertainment – In certain industries, it pays to be interesting, humorous, and entertaining, e.g., media companies like Buzzfeed and Elite Daily
Inspiration – It’s been said that “customers don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.” If your content and product/service can help them transform, your customers will become raving fans, e.g., Best Self Co, which sells goal setting and productivity journals
These are just a few of many potential reasons to start a blog. It’s important to choose one.
After you’ve spent some time finding your ‘why,’ you can dive in and do deeper research.
Step 2 – Research
Here’s a dumb question…do you know your audience?
Knowing your audience is key to creating a content marketing strategy that works.
All too often, though, many business owners rely on intuition and never research the way their customers interact with content online.
Customer research and keyword research can help you find the problems your customers are having. Great content solves problems. If you can identify their pain points, you can create compelling content they love.
Let’s break down each type of research.
Customer research involves finding out where your readers hang out online and what they’re saying about your industry, product, or service. There are many different places you can find useful information.
Quora is a question and answer website. You can enter your topic into the search box and you’ll see question and answers on a variety of sub-topics. This is a result of the topic search ‘content marketing.’ This question can (and will be) an idea for a post you can write to answer questions from members of your target audience.
You can read reviews of products related to your industry on Amazon to find out what your customers want and need. You can also use their reviews to discover pain points your competitors aren’t addressing.
Look at this review of a marketing book on creating compelling messaging:
This review tells us some customers want the information without selling too hard, which is an achievable — even an ideal — goal.
You can also use these options for finding out what your customers really want:
Reddit (search by subreddit)
Blog comments from industry blogs
If you plan on using your company blog to drive traffic and gain leads, you need to harness the power of SEO.
Keyword research is the bedrock of any SEO campaign.
It helps you:
Discover topics people are actively searching for
Find out exactly how many people search for different topics each month
Figure out which keywords you use to compete right away and gain traffic
Keyword research is a topic that merits its own ultimate guides, and there are plenty on the web you can use to get started:
Once you have a sizable amount of keywords, you can move to step two.
Step 3 – Establish Goals For Your Company Blog
The goal of every business blog is the same right? Every company wants their blog to generate business.
Even though traffic, leads, and sales are the end goal for most businesses, there are multiple ways to get there, and setting the right qualitative and quantitative goals will help your business blog stay on track when it’s time to create the content.
Qualitative goals are goals you can’t measure with numbers. It’s important to have these types of goals because they guide the way you create your content.
At MLT Group one of our goals is to give away our entire recipe for helping business owners succeed with digital marketing.
This means we create informative and detailed content you could use on your own. If you decide to work with us to put the strategies into practice, even better.
You can take the guiding philosophy — the ‘why’ — and use them to create goals.
Some examples based on the ideas above:
Create content on the latest trends in the industry
Write how-to content to educate readers on how to use your product
Create list-post with custom tips related to your product or service
Write content based on the hopes and desires of your readers
The goal here? Put some thought into the personality of your business blog.
Good content marketing strategies always use numbers and data.
You want to set goals for these important benchmarks:
A conversion occurs when a visitor performs a desired action like joining your email list, calling, or filling out a contact form.
You want to set a conversion goal because they’re the end result you’re looking for. You need some measure of engagement.
How do you choose a conversion goal? You can use industry standards to start and measure your progress over time.
Most research says the average conversion rate is two to five percent. Choose a number that works for you.
Once you decide your conversion rate, you can decide the number of engagements you want per month. Enter your ideal number, e.g., 100 calls per month, and set your ideal traffic number based on that.
Conversion dictates traffic, not the other way around. You don’t want to chase vanity metrics, so starting with your conversions makes your traffic goals simple.
If you want 100 calls per month and figure a two percent conversion rate, you’d need to reach 5,000 visitors per month.
You can create goals that ramp up from the beginning of your business blog journey to the end.
These sites include spreadsheet examples and calculators to help you figure out exactly what your goals should be month to month:
Once you have your conversion and traffic goals set, choose the frequency for your writing schedule.
Best practices change for the website and blog. Th newer it is the more you’ll have to write to reach your goals.
Most experts suggest publishing three to five posts per week. In your case, use a number that works for you and is sustainable.
There’s no point setting a goal you or someone within your company can’t reach.
Step 4 – Follow Through With Your Plan and Write Your Butt Off
The newer your website, the more time it will take to gain traction with your company blog.
This is because newer websites have a lower Domain and Page authority, which are two important metrics used to rank websites on Google.
Content marketing is a compounding effort. The more you post on your company blog, build links, and promote your content, the easier it will be to rank for competitive keywords and topics because your site will be more authoritative.
Company Blog Examples We Love
Examples provide unique insights you can use for our own business.
Here are some of the company blogs we love along with explanations for why their strategies are so effective.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of the project management software Basecamp, started the Signal v. Noise Medium blog to share their, often counterintuitive, thoughts on business culture, tech, design, and more.
You could categorize Signal v. Noise as a thought leadership blog, but I doubt they’d find that appropriate.
Instead, they discuss what they believe is the truth about the industry. They’re not clamoring for likes and followers. They’re not trying to build a ‘personal brand.’
In fact, they reject most of the buzzwords and hyperbole that come with the industry and just tell it like it is. And they’re never afraid to have an unpopular or controversial opinion. Their authenticity helps them stand out and draws people to use their product.
Hence the name Signal v. Noise. Noise is the useless, albeit attractive, information in the world. Signal is the truth that drives real change. While most people get ‘shiny object syndrome’ and chase noise — tactics and trends — the team at Basecamp tries to do what works based on principles they’ve gained over time and through experience.
Due is a payment processing company. Similar to our Sumo example, Due often publishes posts on topics different types of entrepreneurs — all of which need payment processing — might want to know about.
They also cover a wide range of topics about the financial industry.
This all-encompassing blog, which never promotes their product outright, brings in revenue and leads with this educational approach.
49 percent of businesses do not have a clearly outlined digital marketing plan. Are you one of them? Plenty of businesses use digital marketing techniques, but they are often not fully realized or consistently utilized. This results in time and money spent with lackluster results. However, utilizing an effective, fully fleshed out digital marketing strategy can boost your business’ site traffic, conversions, and help you better reach your target audiences.
Don’t throw techniques at the wall and hope for the best. Instead take the time to create an actionable digital marketing plan. Here’s how to get started:
Analyze: Before implementing a new plan, learn if and how your current digital marketing strategy is working and adapt accordingly. Begin by analyzing your current digital marketing strategies. Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the goal of your digital marketing strategy?
How do your current techniques help with your ultimate goal?
Are you reaching your target audiences?
What platforms are best for reaching your target audiences?
Which marketing channels are most effective for your business?
How do social media platforms factor into your marketing strategy?
Which techniques are working? Which aren’t?
Choose Your Metrics: There are plenty of metrics you can use to measure the performance of your digital marketing campaign, but depending on your ultimate goal, not all may be useful. For example, if you’re trying to boost traffic, you may want to focus on traffic sources and the rate of returning visitors over return on investment or conversion rates. Before starting your campaign, determine at least three metrics you’ll use to evaluate your campaign’s performance.
Engage Your Audience: Whatever your strategy includes, it’s important to engage your audiences. Engaging them helps to develop a relationship, build awareness of your business, and help drive sales. You can do this by connecting with your audiences on their preferred social media platforms, creating targeted content that connects to your audience, and making sure your message visible. You can also utilize ad campaigns to quickly get to the top of searches and entice your audience to visit your site. The better you engage your audience, the greater your online presence, and the more customers will find your business!
Evaluate: Don’t engage in digital marketing blindly. Evaluating your strategy, using your predetermined metrics, will help you determine what’s working, what’s not, and how you can improve. If your digital marketing strategy is not proving effective based on your chosen metrics, you should go back to the analysis step and determine why it’s not working. Are you targeting the right audience? Are you effectively reaching them? Are you using the right metrics to measure your campaign’s performance?
Get Professional Help Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy
Creating and executing an effective digital marketing can be a time-consuming process. Make it easy by getting help from the digital marketing pros at MLT Group. We’ll create a personalized digital marketing strategy based on your business, industry, and goals. Then, we’ll execute it, so you have more time to put towards your business.
Ready to get started with your digital marketing strategy? Don’t wait! Contact our friendly professionals at firstname.lastname@example.org or (507) 281-3490 today!