Informational websites exist primarily to communicate with visitors, as opposed to actively enabling transactions. While the material they provide often contains some call to action, their main goal is to provide useful, engaging information.

Let’s assume you’ve got the content side of this covered. Your writers are producing good quality information that speaks to the needs of your target audience. Great job – you’ve got the hardest part of this process sorted.

Let’s also assume your marketing efforts are paying off and you’re generating an impressive amount of traffic to your homepage. Awesome! You’re killing it!

Yet, somehow, your home page’s bounce rate is still depressingly high. Despite all the visitors it attracts, you’re simply not seeing enough of them click through to the content you’ve worked so hard on creating.

Your homepage is frequently the first and only chance you get to make a first impression, and we all know how important that is. It’s possible that you’re simply not using it well enough to generate interest in what you’re offering. 

Let’s take a look at how you can improve the design of your site’s most important asset to promote better engagement.

1. Don’t Hide What You’re Offering

Too often, the actual purpose of websites is obscured amidst needless information and UX clutter. A website isn’t a box of chocolates; visitors need to know what they’re gonna get – preferably within seconds of landing on it.

A terrific example of a site getting this right is The Adventure Junkies. The oversized hero banner conveys the tone of the site beautifully, allowing an instant emotional connection with their target market. The image is muted and slightly desaturated, which makes reading the main tagline very easy. Images like this are often unfair competition for the UI elements you want the visitor to connect with, and this designer employed a smart design technique to circumvent this problem.

Source: theadventurejunkies.com

As a user scrolls down the page, they see additional information in concise statements with simple, obvious headlines. Each of the site’s informational “sections” is given this treatment. There are no walls of text, only simple, engaging, unpretentious statements of what the user can expect on the site.

2. Give Your Best Content Top Billing

Real estate on your homepage is extremely valuable. There are certain UI elements that simply have to be instantly visible. Just like your hero banner and your site’s tagline, navigation should be prioritized and easily accessible.

Certain information websites, like Not a Travel Club, opt to dedicate a sizable chunk of their primary real estate to whatever is their current top story. In fact, their featured post, along with its header image and content extract, takes up the majority of the screen below the navigation bar.

Source: notatravelclub.com

This is an excellent use of space for an information website. Direct your audience’s focus to a certain element by giving it extreme visibility in relation to the rest of the content on your homepage.

3. Categorize Content Smartly

If your information website consists of a very large inventory of content, you’ll want to make sure that your categorization is done intelligently. Many sites opt for a non-hierarchical approach here, allowing visitors to navigate content categories using tags.

Having a massive amount of content could also be one of your site’s main selling points. In this case, consider making the act of browsing the primary focus of the homepage. 

A site that leads with this UI approach on their homepage is Ted Talks. Firstly, the type of content that users can expect is conveyed visually with two perfectly blended images of speakers doing what they do. Floating above this visual is a category-browsing element that could very easily have been confusing to understand if it had been overthought.

Source: ted.com

Ted keeps things simple by just asking visitors what they’re interested in, giving them category options, and keeping the user’s flow towards the content obvious with a button simply labeled “Next.”

4. Make it Responsive

A responsive website is one that automatically adjusts its layout based on the device the visitor is viewing it on. Smart web designers create different versions of their homepage, each customized to fit perfectly on whatever size screen it’s being deployed to.

The objective of responsiveness is to ensure a comfortable experience for your visitors. If they are viewing your homepage’s desktop version on an iPhone, they would have to waste their time zooming and scrolling, rather than clicking (or tapping) on an easily visible link.

Making a site responsive is quite an undertaking, but the ubiquity of mobile devices absolutely demands it. If you’re not offering your visitors an experience that’s been tailored for their browsing device, you are severely compromising the likelihood of them browsing the content you have on offer.

Source: broadbandsearch.net

Fortunately, many content management systems, like WordPress, offer website templates that are already fully responsive. Site-building products like Squarespace offer templates with similar behavior. If you’re still in the process of designing your website, or you’re looking to overhaul it, consider opting for a template offering this critical feature.

5. Use Video Wisely

If your goal is to grab visitors’ attention immediately, consider standing out from the crowd by using video content in your homepage’s header. Seeing beautifully produced, highly relevant “moving pictures” is something that’s been proven to drive greater engagement.

What’s critical, though, is that the video’s load-time doesn’t compromise the user’s experience on the site. Few things contribute to a high bounce rate as much as the frustration of waiting for content to load. Sadly, high-resolution videos can play a big part in delaying a fully-loaded screen.

A site that uses this technique very wisely is publishing giant Conde Nast. Their homepage’s above-the-fold real estate is populated entirely with a video element that advertises their inventory of brands in a very attractive way. 

Source: condenast.com

Underneath the video, the homepage features three sections of text on their brands, working at Conde Nast, and the places where the company operates. There’s a prominent CTA button accompanying each section and enticing the reader to explore further. To reduce the impact on their site’s load time and make sure there’s no visual clutter, Conde Nast has limited the rest of the homepage’s visual content, displaying four high-quality images in a simple and neat layout. 

One thing you want to be careful with is that video, no matter how high-quality, shouldn’t entirely replace written content. Search engines look for text as part of their indexing process, so make sure your homepage features informative, engaging, and well-written content that will help both the reader and Google get a good idea of what your site is about. 

Some Final Words

The importance of designing an engaging homepage can’t be overstated. As in real life, you have one opportunity to make a great first impression with your website. If you’re trying to promote further engagement with your site’s content, you must respect your audience’s time and attention.

If you have this in the forefront of your mind as you design your website, you’re certain to create the user experience that your content deserves.

As the world prepares to face life under the “New Normal”, our news feed is packed with stories of companies closing down or streamlining costs by laying off their employees. And the number of people who lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic is quite staggering.

In the month of April alone, 20 million Americans were laid off. The U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.4%; the highest level since the Great Depression. 

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of the Covid-19 virus a global pandemic last March 11, businesses all over the world were forced to shut down as communities entered into a period of quarantine. 

In a global economy, the effects of the community quarantine were immediate and devastating. According to Statista, the global economy lost more than US$3.5 Trillion during the shutdown.

Without a vaccine, many health experts believe there will be intermittent lockdowns throughout the next few months. Even if the world opens for business, not many share the opinion that the global economy will show signs of improvement. 

So in view of the multiple “gloom and doom” scenarios discussed in various forums, why do we believe this is the best time to become an entrepreneur?

1. Radical Shift in Business Modeling

Throughout human history, crisis has become the chief catalyst for innovation. When the global equities market crashed in 2003, it spurred entrepreneurs to find ways to extract value from failing assets such as homes and vehicles. Thus, businesses such as Air B’n’B and Uber were founded. 

With the threat of Covid-19 still in the air, business models will begin to shift and adapt to the conditions of the new normal. Business models that are rigid, inflexible, and restrictive will give way to processes that are flexible, mobile, and adaptable.

As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to spend money on a traditional brick-and-mortar office when you can run a business from home. No need to pay several months of deposits for security and advanced rent. 

You don’t have to buy computers and workstations or accumulate recurring expenses for rent and office supplies. Your operating expenses for Internet services, telecommunications, and utilities will be much lower. 

There are many digital platforms you can use to manage the key areas of your business and most of these tools and processes will not cost you a cent.

If you hire remote workers such as freelancers and virtual assistants for your team, they are accountable for their business expenses.

Under the period of the new normal, entrepreneurs may find it easier to fund their businesses. With lower operating costs and reduced capital expenditures, the opportunity to generate profit will be greater now than it has in previous years. 

2. New Business Opportunities Have Opened

Scientists continue to study the origins of Covid-19 and how it is spread from person-to-person. Meanwhile, as we await the answers, several industries have suffered from the effects of Covid-19. Many have become casualties – of the economic kind. 

If there is one thing we have learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is that businesses are also subject to the underlying principle of the Darwinian Theory of Survival of the Fittest:

Adapt or die – the species that evolve will survive.

A good example is the health and fitness industry. The commercial gym business has been severely impacted by Covid-19. They remain closed because gyms invite congregation and it is difficult to observe social distancing. 

Some popular gym chains such as Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, and Crunch Fitness have either closed a few outlets, retrenched workers, or stopped collecting membership fees. 

While the commercial gym business has gotten in bad shape, the predicament has given rise to a new market in the health and fitness sector – the home gym market.

Visit any e-commerce retailer of home gym equipment. The first 3 words that will greet you in their products page are “Out of Stock”.

Home gym equipment such as resistance bands, Bosu balls, jump ropes, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, full-body machines, kettlebells, dumbbells, and yoga mats, to name a few, are flying out of the warehouse. 

People understand that without a vaccine, the best defense is a strong immune system. Along with a healthy diet, a good night’s sleep, and vitamins, regular exercise completes the cornerstone of a strong immune system. 

So if you are a personal trainer, this is the time to start your online personal training business. People want to exercise – they just want to do their workouts at home.

3. Greater Innovations in Digital Technology

To overcome persistent difficulties, mankind resorts to the innovations created by digital technology. A good example of this is the video teleconferencing platform Zoom.

Before the coronavirus exploded into a global pandemic, not many people heard of Zoom. In terms of popularity, Zoom fell behind Skype and FaceTime as the preferred platform for video conferencing.

However, when the world entered into the quarantine period, Zoom reacted right away and lifted its 40-minute time limit on free subscriptions. The company did this to help schools conduct hour-long virtual classroom sessions for up to 100 students.

That decision has made Zoom the most popular video conferencing platform today. More than that, it raised the profile of the company as one with a keen sense of social awareness and responsibility. 

As an entrepreneur, you can conduct virtual meetings with clients, conference calls with team members, and conduct training sessions with new employees via digital platforms like Zoom. 

And the new wave of technological innovations won’t end with Zoom.

There are digital platforms with features that have blurred the distinction between virtual reality and shared space collaboration. 

Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been around since the early part of the new millennium but have evolved to feature:

  • Virtual classrooms/conference rooms
  • A.I. component that functions as a virtual library by curating content based on search behavior.
  • Built-in tools for performance evaluation, career assessment, time-keeping, and for preparing exams and quizzes.

There are tools for recruitment that use a behavioral-based algorithm to test and identify candidates according to right-fit qualifications. Why is this important?

If you’re working with a remote team, you need to know who you’re working with. If you’re thinking about putting up a telecommuting program, you need to know if you’re assigning the right people to work from home. 

  • Are they the right people for my company? 
  • Can I trust them to perform even if they work remotely? 
  • Can our personalities bridge the gap of cultural differences?

The answers to these questions cannot be found in a resume because these focused on soft skills – the attributes that best define the personality of the individual.

You can rest be assured that software development companies will be looking for digital-based solutions to support businesses coming up as a result of the new normal. 

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4. Fewer Competitors in the Industry

A crisis situation such as the one brought down by the Covid-19  global pandemic can create massive disruption in the economy. 

As we have read from various media reports, companies have been shutting down; unable to cope with the slowdown in business activity in their industry. 

The pandemic has the same effect as a crash in the equities market – weeding out investors and participants who don’t have the resources to maintain their positions in the market.

Once the smoke has cleared, there will be fewer competitors in the market – in your industry.  Your next move will depend on your answer to the following philosophical question:

“Do you see the glass half-empty or half-full?”

If you see the glass half-empty, chances are you will step back, assess the situation, and retrench to look for clearer signs of opportunity. 

If you see the glass half-full, then you understand why now is the best time to become an entrepreneur. 

Yes, the economy has been hit. Consumers are scaling back on expenses and focusing on the essentials. But here’s the truth:

The demand for products and services remains. 

You just have to find out how the pandemic has changed the consumers’ purchasing habits and decision-making process. 

Once you do, then, it becomes a matter of adopting a business model that conforms to the changes in behavior and thought processes. With fewer competitors in the industry, you have the opportunity to grab a larger slice of the pie. 

As we discussed in the previous section, the use of digital technology – its tools and platforms – will lower your costs of starting and running your business. 

Therefore, your risks measured as the amount of money you spend to fund your business will be much lower. 

Create a feasibility study that includes financial projections. Study your projected cash flow –  how many months can you sustain the business without digging deep into your savings?

Identify your tolerance level and if your business reaches that point, then you can make a decision whether or not to continue or to shut down. If you choose to close the business, at the very least, your losses will be minimal.

5. Consumer Behavioral Patterns Will Change

The coronavirus has changed the behavioral patterns of consumers. Talk to your friends. Even with the lockdown lifted, we’re sure many will prefer shopping online than risking their health at public markets. 

In some countries such as the Philippines which is one of the most heavily-hit by Covid-19, malls have implemented guidelines that have altered the shopping experience of Filipinos. 

These new measures include limiting the number of people inside a supermarket. Once the quota of customers has been attained, entry is prohibited and would-be shoppers have to wait outside for their turn. 

Another measure is to implement “directional arrows” that instruct the shopper where to pass and walk-through. Customers aren’t allowed to “counter-flow”. Even if your destination point is a stone’s throw to your left, you won’t be allowed to cut through the directional arrow.

All restaurants are only allowed to offer take-out and delivery service. Dine-in is prohibited. You can’t enter the premises without a face mask.

These changes are cumbersome but necessary to maintain social distancing. Other parts of the world will have their own measures in place. 

While it’s nice to go out and circulate in society, it’s better to stay home most of the time. It’s safer and more convenient to do things from your home. 

Entrepreneurial ventures that address these changes in consumer behavior will be highly feasible. 

We’ve cited examples earlier in this article such as online fitness training, virtual classrooms, and online instruction. There are other ideas you can develop that address the changing needs of consumers in your industry.

Sit down with your friends and brainstorm on these ideas. Come up with a short list then, using a process of elimination, identify the best venture to pursue. 

Remember that changes in behavior will open up new opportunities because demand for those products and services will always be there. It will just evolve and adapt to conform to the current situation.

Conclusion – Entrepreneurship Is A Must

“Follow your passion.”

“Do what you love to do.”

“Be a doer – not a dreamer.”

We’ve often received these types of advice when discussing our plans to start a business. 

Today, it may no longer be a matter of if but when you become an entrepreneur. We may be at a point where we’re no longer asking ourselves whether we should become entrepreneurs but instead accept the current reality that we must become entrepreneurs.

With so much uncertainty, you cannot solely depend on your employer to keep your stream of income flowing. 

Business conditions can change rapidly. Your boss is an entrepreneur. He will be doing the things we discussed in this article: finding new opportunities, reviewing his business model, and streamlining costs.

Those plans may not include you. 

Thus, now is the best time to become an entrepreneur because you have to take control of your future and become responsible for your financial independence. The conditions are in place to help you succeed: Better technology and fewer competitors. 

Finally, the economy – your country – needs you. As an entrepreneur, you are the country’s most powerful engine of economic growth. Your success and those of other entrepreneurs will set the course for the country’s recovery. 

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The coronavirus that was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) necessitated countries to require its citizens to self-quarantine for a period of one month. Businesses – except those that delivered essential goods and services – were forced to close down. Economies were held at a standstill. The businesses that remained “open” were those with remote capabilities – the entrepreneur and the employees work from home. 

The period of self-quarantine that is still ongoing as of this writing – put the spotlight on the importance of having disaster recovery protocols in place for small businesses. 

It shone the spotlight on a business development strategy we have been advocating for years. One that has its origins back in the 1970s but only came to the consciousness of private business in the mid-2000s. 

Integrating a work from home program for your small business is your best hedge versus uncertainties in the business environment. 

The Benefits Of A Work From Home Program

To be clear, we are using the phrase “Work From Home” as a blanket term for remote workers – people who work outside the confines of a traditional 9-to-5 office.

A person who works from home can be categorized as a:

  • Telecommuter
  • Freelancer
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Work at Home Mom (WAHM)

There are subtle differences between each type of remote worker.

A telecommuter is an employee who was asked by his employer to perform his duties and responsibilities from home instead of the office. 

A Virtual Assistant is a person who is hired by an executive or a company to manage specific tasks and functions from the VA’s place of work. 

A freelancer is generally a skilled professional who has decided to take his talents online and offer his services to clients that need his technical expertise. 

A WAHM could be all 3 – a telecommuter, a VA or a freelancer. She took the option to work from home to have more time with the family. 

Whether your business hires one or the other, the benefits of incorporating a work from home program for your business are the same:

1. Lower Cost of Business

According to a 2-year study that was conducted by Stanford University, a telecommuting program successfully lowered the cost of business by an estimated US $1,900 per employee.

The savings were attributed to lower onboarding costs; a reduced need to buy new furniture, computers, office supplies, and expand Internet capabilities. 

2. Increase Productivity

The same 2-year study by Stanford also revealed that the productivity level of the test company increased by 13.5%.

When you outsource tasks to remote workers – telecommuters, freelancers or virtual assistants – you free up more time for yourself. You have more hours in the day to focus on the main enterprise of your business. 

3. Improve Quality of Deliverables

Hiring or contracting the services of a freelancer or a virtual assistant will improve the quality of work because these remote workers are professionals. They have the experience and have undergone training to become good at what they do. 

Similar to freelancers, many virtual assistants crossed-over from the brick-and-mortar world to the virtual world. 

For the reason that they are focused on giving your assigned tasks their full and undivided attention, you can be assured of the quality of deliverables. 

4. Reduce Business Risk

If you had a telecommuting program in place or if you had a remote team composed of freelancers or virtual assistants, your business would continue to operate during the period of self-quarantine. 

Who would have seen this coming? Even the WHO downplayed the severity of the coronavirus’s effects. 

A work from home program gives your business a disaster recovery mechanism that protects it from events that may cause long-term interruptions in business activity. 

In business, time is money. For every second that you are not operating, you are foregoing multiple opportunities to grow your business. 

If you have clients, your remote team can continue to service their accounts. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, a remote team can manage customers’ orders and coordinate with the appropriate agencies for deliveries to conform with the guidelines of the quarantine. 

The bottom line is with a remote team composed of work from home personnel, your business would continue to run and earn money during periods of unforeseen and unpredictable events such as the coronavirus pandemic.

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How To Set Up A Work From Home Program For Your Business

Now that we’ve convinced you of its benefits, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of setting up a work from home program for your business!

1. Identify the Objectives and Goals of the Work From Home Program

Imagine moving from a shared-space collaborative arrangement to one where tasks are distributed across remote locations within 24 hours. Transitioning from an office to a work from home setup will take some time getting used to.

Before starting Day #1, spend some time – the entire day, if needed – to identify and discuss the objectives and goals of the work from home program with the remote team. 

The purpose is to get everyone on the same page.

If you’re running a telecommuting set up for the first time, your employees may have a hard time focusing on their tasks. 

This is especially true with an event such as the coronavirus pandemic which disrupted many aspects of work and life. Employees may be distracted.

Start out by assigning them a limited number of tasks – 3 tasks to accomplish on Day #1. Don’t overwhelm them with too many things-to-do as the quality of work may get compromised.

Make sure tasks are correctly assigned and clearly explained to everyone. Encourage the team to ask questions, strictly observe communication protocols, and offer help when needed. 

2. Select the Right People For Your Remote Team

The process of setting up your remote team is similar to drafting talent for your basketball team. You want to put together a variety of talented individuals who can work together as a team.

Not every employee is cut out for telecommuting work in the same way that not all freelancers and virtual assistants are qualified to handle the job. 

For the work from home program to be successful, you have to select the right people for your remote team. Again, you have to be clear about the team’s goals and objectives. 

Let’s assume you are managing customer service for clients:

  • What customer service channels will be used – chat, inbound phone system, email or social media?
  • What are the demographics of the clients’ customers?
  • Do you need bilingual agents?
  • Will you have outbound support services?
  • Will the service be available 24/7?

Once you’ve firmed up the details, it will be easier to identify the types of talent that you want on your team:

  • Prepare the list of hard skills required for each job – qualifications, years of experience, and certifications, if needed. 
  • Prepare a list of your desired soft skills – self-motivated, excellent time-management skills, ability to manage stress, ability to work with others – these are the personality attributes that fit your intended team culture. 

The hiring process does not start and end with the resume. Have the candidates go through interviews and practical tests. Include a dry run whereby the candidates will be asked to work on a task while grouped in teams. 

3. Set Up the System for Remote Work

A system for remote work should identify the processes and tools that will be used to support its framework. 

  • How will the remote team communicate?
  • Where will the team upload its work?
  • How will you account for total work hours?
  • What are the workflows?
  • Do you want the team to collaborate on specific projects?
  • How will you conduct team meetings?
  • What are the security protocols for the system?

Creating the system for remote work may not be as simple as opening up accounts in Skype, Asana, and Dropbox for the team. There is always a better way of running things!

This is a great opportunity to collaborate with your team. Solicit ideas. If you are working with virtual assistants, you will find that many of them are highly experienced in setting up workflows. 

The same can be said about freelancers. In both cases, they acquire knowledge of setting up remote work systems from their experiences working with different clients. 

4. Stay Connected – With Your Remote Team

This is probably the key to running a successful work from home program for your business – stay connected with your remote team.

Yes, it’s great to work from home! You don’t have to worry about traffic and being late for work. You can savor your morning coffee and have more time with the spouse and kids. 

However, for those who have no experience working from home, the first morning could be tough. The shift from shared space collaboration to working alone at home can take anyone out of their comfort zone. 

Let your team know that you are there to support them. Here are some ideas you might want to implement for your remote team:

  • Schedule daily meetings such as a pre-shift or post-shift briefing.
  • Ask everyone to post photos of the individual team members on their workstation. This is a technique developed by HR experts who reverse-engineered the habit of posting pictures of family members at the office workplace. According to the HR experts, the technique has helped remote workers cope with the challenges of working in isolation. 
  • Schedule a 30-minute “water cooler” or “coffee time” break where everyone on the team shows up online with their cup of coffee and discusses everything under the sun that is NOT related to work. 
  • Encourage everyone to share information about their workspace. This way, the team will develop a greater understanding and sensitivity of the conditions that could affect the performance of other members. For example, a team member may be a parent of a newborn that is incessantly crying in the background. You might have a team member whose house is located at a major thoroughfare. That explains the constant blaring of car horns during online meetings. 

5. Track Its Progress 

You should not expect to get your work from home program right on its first day. Expect problems to come up – whether technical issues or human error. Take note of these problems and try to resolve them as soon as possible. 

It would be a good idea to anticipate these problems before you run the work from home program. With your remote team, brainstorm on the potential issues you might encounter then collectively develop solutions and alternative courses of action. 

Collect as much data as possible from the software programs and tools you are using. 

  • Is anyone on the team experiencing latency issues? 
  • Are there problems in the uploading of files?
  • Are there causes of delays in the transmission of data?
  • Is the team consistently meeting deadlines?
  • How is the quality of deliverables? Are there complaints or issues raised by clients/customers?
  • Which processes and tools are giving you problems? Are there better alternatives?
  • How are the individual members performing?

Set aside time to track and evaluate the progress of your work from home program. Once you’ve identified the flaws, come up with improvements and implement them in the system. 

Conclusion

The coronavirus experience serves as a wakeup call; a reminder that the business environment is unpredictable. What is essentially a health issue has wreaked havoc in economies across the world. 

We don’t know what other disruptor lurks in the horizon. However, we cannot waste precious time and energy worrying about something we cannot quantify. The best thing we can do is to be prepared.

It used to be the case that companies would set up offices in other regions – local or international – to function as their disaster recovery site. 

If an event occurs that disrupts business in the principal location, the disaster recovery site takes over the functions and responsibilities of the main office. 

As we have seen – and experienced – from the coronavirus episode, regional offices can be rendered useless if people cannot report for work. 

The best solution to protect your business from uncertainty could be right under your nose.

Home sweet home.

How was your business able to cope with the coronavirus? What measures did you implement to keep your business running? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

If you need help setting up your remote team, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. 

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Marketing has grown to become an important component of building a business. Especially in this age of digital technology, you can’t harness the power of the Internet for your business if you don’t have an online presence. 

Digital marketers have kept pace with the development of the Internet. It has changed the way consumers make their decisions to purchase a product or to patronize a business. 

The growing influence of the Internet and its various channels have given rise to a number of marketing processes each designed to drive more online traffic to websites. 

But which ones are worth your time and money? 

To avoid guesswork, we’ve created a list of the 5 best marketing processes for your business – the ones you can’t live without.

1. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of using various techniques and tools to increase your website’s organic search ranking in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The search rankings play a key role in driving online traffic to your website. 

According to a study by Chitika, the first 3 positions in the SERP draw 61.5% of all search traffic. The website that lands in the pole position gets 32.5% of the traffic. There is a huge drop-off after the top 3 with the 10th position only getting 2.4%. 

Can you imagine the volume of traffic – or the lack thereof, of the websites that end up on the second page of the SERP?

When we describe SEO as a process of driving “organic traffic” to your website – we mean free traffic. 

SEO practitioners use techniques and strategies that entice, encourage, and compel people to visit your website because they are convinced it is a valuable resource. 

You cannot put out content on the Internet and expect them to be read by the market you are targeting. Your potential customers will run a search query using keywords that best define the information they are looking for. 

The search engine’s web crawlers track and index content that has the best ranking keywords and includes them on the SERP. Without these keywords, it will be difficult for your content to get found. 

The strategic use of keywords is just one technique used by SEO practitioners to optimize content. 

There are other techniques in the SEO toolbox such as link building, focusing on User Experience, improving website speed, the use of featured snippets, and mobile-first indexing. 

The bottom line is without SEO, your website and its contents will have a very difficult time getting discovered on the Internet.

2. Video Marketing

To be clear, video marketing is considered a component of content marketing. However, we decided to give video marketing its own section in this article because of its value to the overall digital marketing strategy.

Second, content marketing is popularly associated with text-based content, the blog being its cornerstone. In that regard, video-based content marketing is often viewed as separate and distinct with its own allocation in the digital marketing budget.

While blogging remains a mainstay in the content marketing process, more businesses are investing in video-based marketing.

A 2020 survey conducted by Wyzowl revealed that 85% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool. In comparison, the 2016 survey by Wyzowl disclosed that only 61% utilized video-based marketing in their digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketers are more optimistic about video marketing with 92% of respondents stating the process results in positive ROI. 

Here are a few key statistics that support the use of video marketing:

  • Video-based content is shared 1,200% more than text-based content or links.
  • 25% of the most searched websites have video-based content.
  • Embedded videos such as an explainer video on the home page can increase sales conversions by 55%.
  • 44% of consumers prefer using the medium of video to learn more about a product or service.
  • Businesses that incorporated video marketing in their digital marketing strategy outgrew businesses that didn’t by 49%.

Contrary to popular opinion, it does not cost a lot of money to produce high-ranking, high-performing videos. With today’s smartphones, built-in cameras can capture high-resolution videos that look like they were professionally made. 

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3. Content Marketing

Every day, more than 4 billion people are searching the Internet for content that is useful, relevant, and informative. After all, when you search, you are looking for the best solutions or answers to your pressing questions. 

Content that is frequently accessed, shared, linked to, and referenced is regarded as great content. 

Your business could offer the best solutions in the industry. But first – your business, its products and services – must first be found. 

This is where content marketing comes in – the strategic and purposeful creation of optimized content that provides useful, valuable, and informative information to a specific target market. 

The keywords in the definition are “optimized” and “target”.

Content writing is a skill. Just because you have a degree in Creative Writing does not mean you can write online content. 

The rule is: Your content must be found before it can serve its purpose. 

To be found on the Internet, content must be optimized with the right keywords. Content writers know how to find the right keywords for your industry and how to use them for maximum searchability.

Without the right keywords, the search engine’s web crawlers will not be able to find and index your content. The next steps for the search engine are to determine if the keywords in your content are used in the proper ratios and linked to reliable sources. 

The search engine will determine the quality of your content by assessing its length, structure, and backlinks. 

Lastly, for best results, content writing needs to follow a schedule:

Writing online is writing on a different level. For this reason, we recommend hiring content writers to create content for your website and social media campaigns. 

Mountaintop Web Design can provide you with top quality, high-ranking content. A few of our articles have been included among the top blogs for digital marketing by UpCity.

4. Email Marketing

Why is email marketing so effective? In a nutshell, it’s like having the door opened for you by the business owner. You can walk in, make a sales presentation, and hope your pitch is good enough to register a sale. 

Despite the popularity of social media, email remains the most utilized form of communication. 

To make a comparison, social media attracts 2.96 billion users every day. Meanwhile, there are 3.9 billion users of email on a daily basis. According to Statista, by 2023, the number of email users will hit 4.3 billion

Digital marketers love email marketing because the ROI is high – $38 for every $1 spent – or an ROI of 3,800%!

But don’t let these amazing numbers blind you into thinking that email marketing is easy. The biggest challenge to email marketing is creating a solid list of email subscribers. 

This is where having great content comes in. If people love your blogs and other forms of content, they will visit your website to learn more about you. Once on your website, the visitor might want to click on the subscribe button and sign up for your email newsletter. 

Building a loyal following takes time. A reader may enjoy reading your first blog – but what about the second or third? Creating top-quality blogs on a consistent basis will help you build a strong email list. 

You might be tempted to buy a list. If you are – don’t! Buying a list is one of the most dangerous things you can do for your business for a number of reasons:

  • The emails may belong to people who did not agree to sign up for newsletters. Your email will be flagged as spam and this is a violation that could lead to penalties upwards of $16,000!
  • Your email distribution service will get shut down.
  • Many of the emails featured in the list are called “Spam Traps” and will damage your reputation.

Go the slow and steady route and be patient with your content marketing strategy. It may take time but the results will be worth the wait.

5. Social Media Marketing

The age of digital technology has emphasized the social aspect of a business. Because the Internet has made information very accessible, it is easy for consumers to learn more about the business and at the same, find platforms to air their complaints and grievances about a company, its products, and services. 

Companies can no longer just hide behind a logo. To stay ahead of the competition, there must be a face and a personality behind the brand. Customers want to know more about you and not just your business. The best platform to use is social media marketing.

What are the benefits of social media marketing for business?

  • Improve Brand Awareness – Would you believe more people follow brands on social media than celebrities? 80% of respondents who participated in a survey by Sherpa Marketing revealed they followed at least one business brand on social media. 
  • Establish a Strong Connection with Your Customers – Social media allows customers to reach out and voice their ideas and opinions to your company. This level of engagement -whether positive or negative – creates an opportunity for you to establish a strong, human connection with your customer. 
  • Enhance Your Reputation – Another benefit of consistently producing great content is that you enhance your reputation as a valuable resource. Now, strategically distribute your content through social media channels and in time,  more people will follow your page and visit your website. 

Similar to content writing, social media marketing requires experience and expertise. 

You have to know the types of content to post, the most opportune times of the day, the ideal days of the week, as well as the frequency of posting. 

Keep in mind the “social” aspect of social media – these are communities onto itself. The online behavior patterns and profiles of Facebook users are different from those of LinkedIn.

Conclusion

Digital marketing isn’t just the present – it is the future. The world will continue to evolve as digital technology continues to innovate. Work and life decisions will be influenced by the Internet for the years to come. 

If your business has not adopted a digital-based marketing strategy, you are undermining its opportunities for future growth. Learn from the lesson of the retail giants who became casualties of the Retail Apocalypse.

Evolve or become extinct.

Did we convince you to go digital? Give us a call and we’ll put your business on a digital marketing campaign that will get you growing over the next few years.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community!

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Do bad guys always wear black? A popular theme in Hollywood is the classic battle between good and evil. More often than not, the good guys are in white and the bad guys are in black. Case in point is HBO’s smash hit, “Westworld”. In the TV show, visitors to a western theme park are asked to choose between a white hat and a black hat. If you choose a white hat, you’re the hero. If you choose a black hat – well, you guessed it – you’re the villain.

Does the analogy hold true for marketers? Are marketers who choose white hat SEO strategies the good guys? Conversely, are marketers who choose black hat SEO strategies the bad guys?

More importantly, should you use both strategies in your digital marketing campaign?

To have a better understanding of the two, let’s discuss White Hat and Black Hat SEO strategies in detail.

What Is White Hat SEO?

White Hat SEO strategies use techniques and tactics that strictly adhere to Google’s guidelines. The primary objective of marketers who use White Hat SEO strategies is to enhance the website’s visibility on the Internet.

Here are a few examples of popular White Hat SEO strategies:

1. Creation of Quality Content

Google is very particular on User Experience or UX. When someone lands on your website, Google expects that visitor will find only quality content. This means content that is useful, unique, informative, and relevant. Likewise, it should not have errors in spelling and grammar.

Quality content will compel action from the reader. He/she could share your content in social media or use it as a resource link to his/her own website. If your website consistently publishes quality content, Google will reward you with higher search rankings.

2. Integration of Keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that people frequently use to launch a search query on the Internet. Search bots or web crawlers index content that contains these keywords. Thus, integrating keywords will make it easier for your content to get found on the Internet.

There are 2 things you need to keep in mind when using keywords.

First, use the right keywords. This means keywords and phrases that are relevant in your industry. You should perform keyword research before writing your content.

Among the most popular tools are Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush. You can read more about keyword research in our article “5 Best Keyword Research Tools For 2018”.

Second, keep track of keyword density. While there are no clear-cut rules on keyword density, many SEO experts advise a ratio of 1 keyword per 200 words.

Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing, a technique whereby a page is overloaded with keywords. The purpose of keyword stuffing is to trick Google into thinking the content is relevant.

3. The Use of Relevant Backlinks

You know your content marketing strategy is on the right track when other websites are linking back to you. It means these websites find great value in your content.

For Google, backlinks are a seal of approval. The search engine giant will reward you with higher search rankings.

However, you have to make sure the websites that are linking back to your page are relevant to your industry. Consequently, these websites must also be reputable and consistently publish high-quality content.

4. The Use of Meta Descriptions

There are some SEO practitioners who believe meta descriptions are no longer significant. We are here to tell you that having well-written meta descriptions can help drive traffic to your website.

Meta descriptions consist of a few sentences that describe your website. The purpose of the meta description is to entice people to visit your website. It tells Internet searchers what your website is all about.

Thus, a meta description is not written for search engines. It is written with the potential site visitor in mind. You should not use too many keywords in your meta description.

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What Is Black Hat SEO?

In contrast, Black Hat SEO strategies employ techniques and tactics that do not conform to the guidelines of Google. Marketers who use Black Hat SEO strategies are mavericks; they operate outside the confines of the “law” and are willing to bend the rules to get the job done.

Here are a few of the most popularly-used Black Hat SEO strategies:

1. The Use of Irrelevant Keywords

We discussed the important role keywords play in getting your content found on the Internet. However, the keywords should have relevance or value to the site visitor.

For example, you are writing a blog on how a robotic vacuum cleaner can keep your home clean without any fuss. Then, within your content, you write in the following sentence:

“LeBron James can surely use a robotic vacuum cleaner to sweep the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.”

The sentence includes the keywords “robotic vacuum cleaner” but it has absolutely no relevance to the article. Instead, it uses popular search items “LeBron James” and “Golden State Warriors” to trick search engines.

2. Bot-Generated Content

Black Hat SEO practitioners will often use automatically-generated or bot generated content to capitalize on keywords and give the search rankings a boost.

No doubt you have seen examples of bot-generated content. They are usually located in the comments section of a blog. A bot-generated content is very easy to spot because they make no sense!

It reads like a random comment that has no relevance to the topic whatsoever. The only component of a bot comment that has value is the keyword.

3. Installing Doorway Pages

Let’s say you are planning to visit Italy and indulge in your passion for fine art. You want to prepare an itinerary which covers the best art galleries in Florence. You run a search query on the “best fine art galleries in Florence Italy”.

When you click on one of the URLs featured on the search results page, you don’t land on the website of an art gallery in Florence. Instead, you find yourself on a website selling herbal supplements.

This form of Black Hat SEO trickery is called installing doorway pages. Put succinctly, doorway pages are fake pages that are packed with keywords to help the website get found. You just won’t find what you are looking for.

4. Integrating Invisible Links or Text

Black Hat SEO practitioners know the value of going stealth mode. They will “plant” links on pages where you can’t see them right away.

Examples of these types of tactics include setting the font size to zero, using white text on white background, and integrating a link in a small character such as a comma or a period.

What Are The Penalties For Practicing Black Hat SEO Strategies?

If you break the law, you will get punished for it. On the Internet, Google is the law. Whenever the search engine giant announces changes on its search ranking algorithm, you should pay attention very carefully.

Google frowns upon Black Hat SEO strategies. In fact, Google institutes changes on its search algorithm to make sure these Black Hat SEO strategies get shut out. Here is an updated list of changes in Google’s search algorithms:

  • Penguin – Designed to stop inappropriate linking practices
  • Panda – Designed to slow down content farms. A content farm is usually an agency that employs a large group of writers to create high-ranking content. The purpose is to increase page views and attract more advertising revenue.
  • Florida – Designed to stop keyword stuffing tactics.

If you are caught using Black Hat SEO techniques, what penalties should you expect from Google?

1. A Drop in the Search Rankings

If you notice a sudden drop in the search rankings for your website, that is Google’s way of telling you to stop what you are doing and clean up your strategies.

You will have to comply with Google’s algorithm, implement the necessary changes on your SEO strategies, then file a reconsideration request which will ask the search engine to run another audit on your website.

2. Banned in the Search Rankings

Although it rarely happens, the possibility exists that Google can ban you from its search rankings. Google will not hesitate to pull the trigger on websites that continue to practice deceptive SEO strategies.

A ban from Google will sound the death knell for your business. No one will be able to find your website on the Internet thus, affecting lead generation, site traffic, and sales conversions.

In the event that you do get banned, you should try to appease Google by cleaning up your SEO strategies before applying for a reconsideration request.

Conclusion – Should You Use Both White Hat And Black Hat SEO Strategies?

Both White Hat and Black Hat SEO strategies serve the same purpose – to enhance website visibility so you can climb up Google’s search rankings.

However, with Google constantly reviewing and changing its algorithm, it would be best to stick to White Hat SEO tactics. You cannot pull the wool over Google. The search engine will eventually see what you’re up to.

Interactions on the Internet may be driven by digital technology but they are purely emotional by nature. Black Hat SEO tactics can be annoying. No one wants to be misled. It will reflect on your reputation and affect your brand identity.

Finally, keep in mind this beautiful quote from American author, Arnold Glasow:

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

White Hat SEO strategies will require more effort because you will have to build your followers and links organically. They will keep you on the straight and narrow path. Running a business is hard enough as it is. You should minimize the risks instead of adding to it.

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So, you decided to take your business to the next level and invest in a nice website?

Awesome!

But, what you should know is that despite the beautiful design and good overall usability, your sleek new website needs tweaking and fine-tuning if you want it to live up to your expectations in terms of conversions and bottom line.

Many people make a mistake by thinking that once the website is finished and live, their only task is to update content and fix potential bugs.

The truth is that the real work begins only after your audience gets a chance to visit your website thus allowing you to monitor its performance in the real world and optimize it for conversions.

This means that you need a solid, easy-to-follow CRO plan, so let’s see how to craft it.

Why Do You Need a Plan?

That’s a good question.

The main reason for having a conversion optimization plan in place is to establish the right goals, methods, and tasks which will help you make the most of your website and turn it into a conversion machine. Without a plan, it’s easy to lose focus and waste your time on things that don’t particularly matter.

It’s about setting your priorities and identifying what the problem is and how to solve it in the most effective and efficient manner.

Although the approach “Let’s see if it’s possible to convert more people if I change this or that element” is a good starting point, it needs to evolve and cover different areas of your sales process, and your business in general.

1. Collect Data

You’ve probably heard that popular phrase “People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves,” and it perfectly sums up why you need to have a deep understanding of your customers, their needs, interests, and issues, as well as how they perceive your business and website, if you want to optimize your conversions.

Having the right data is essential for gaining valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, that is, what areas, pages, and elements of your website should be optimized.

This step is crucial for helping you see where you stand and what assets you have.

As this is a pretty comprehensive process, it’s a good idea to break it down into three main categories.

In other words, you need to gather data on the following areas:

  • The company itself. Dig deeper and identify the “why” of the company – why it exists and why customers like it. It’s not always about superb products and services. There’s that special X factor, which makes a particular company and its messaging appealing, and it’s up to you to pinpoint what it is and implement your findings into your CRO plan. Identifying the unique sales proposition is essential because it’s what distinguishes your company from competitors who sell similar products or services. The USP is integrated into your marketing messages and its role is to capture your customers’ attention and give them a reason to explore your website further. Finally, learn what your customers’ common objections and complaints are. Talk to your customer support reps and they will provide you with customers’ feedback. If we bear in mind that 67% of customers name bad experiences with a brand as their main reason for churn, but only 1 out of 26 will actually complain, it’s self-explanatory why this step is a must. So, knowing what your customers feel about your company is a make-it-break-it factor when it comes to improving your CRO.
  • The website. Your website analytics should be accurate and detailed. Be in the know about all the relevant metrics such as the amount of traffic, dwell time, bounce rates, conversion rates, as well as the demographic information. The data about the browsers and devices they use to access your website is extremely important, especially after Google officially rolled out mobile-first indexing in July 2018. The fact that most people visit your website from their computers might indicate that there’s something that they don’t like about the mobile version.
  • The customers. This is, perhaps, the most important area and you should use different methods and tools in order to feel the pulse of your audience. Use heatmaps to find out what pages they visit and engage with most and use surveys to hear their first-hand opinions and experiences.

2. Create a Hypothesis

After this lengthy and demanding first step, it’s time to put these findings to good use.

You’ve probably identified a couple of issues on your website that need to be solved. There are two options when it comes to testing a page that returned poor results – you can either build it from scratch and test that new version, or you can change a couple of elements and A/B split test them.

For example, if the data shows that your CTA button doesn’t generate clicks, you can introduce a number of changes, such as the copy, different colors, and fonts, and test them.

But before you start experimenting, you should be able to clearly state why you believe that a particular change will improve your conversion rates and what problem it solves.

Again, you need to know:

  • What you’re testing. Let’s say that you’ve found out that a lot of your customers abandon their shopping cart and that your customer support reps frequently answer questions about how secure the checkout process on your website is. This clearly shows that you need to introduce some trust signals which will convince your customers that it’s safe for them to trust you with their personal information. For example, using an SSL certificate and switching to the HTTPS protocol, offering multiple payment methods, and showing payment assurance certifications are some of them.
  • Who you’re testing. There are different ways to split your audience, not just based on demographic data. You can, for example, test your repeat customers, one-time customers, or those who abandoned their shopping cart. Segmenting customers based on the browser they use is also helpful because you won’t test Opera users if the element you want to test doesn’t load properly in this browser.

3. Test Your Hypothesis

It’s showtime.

Although implementing new design and testing it might seem like a complicated task, there are useful tools that can significantly simplify the process.

Some of them include Optimizely and Visual Web Optimizer.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • Make sure that your new design displays properly across different browsers before it goes live.
  • Choose how much traffic you will direct to your test pages. If you have a lot of visitors, then this step can help you control possible risks in case that your design fails and your conversions on the test pages drop.
  • Don’t neglect the average order value, because although your conversion rates might be low for the pages you test, the average order value might go up.

So, set all these things up before you launch your tests if you want to get accurate readings. If you want to run your tests efficiently and effectively, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of experts from respectable web design agencies who will offer you their take on your ideas and implement everything properly.

4. Review Your Results

In this stage, you’ll review your results and see whether your hypothesis has been correct.

However, before you get down to work, it’s important to establish whether statistical significance has been reached. This is a complex concept, so check out this article which will tell you more about it.

Luckily, even if you’re not familiar with statistical significance, most optimization tools will give you this information.

If your hypothesis is correct, then implement these design changes properly and send all your traffic there. However, it’s important to keep track of your metrics closely to see whether everything works as expected.

If your hypothesis isn’t correct, make sure to save all your data from these unsuccessful tests, and go back to square one – create another hypothesis and do it all over again.

It’s crucial not to give up because failed tests are gold mines of data that you can use later.

These 4 steps can help you get to the bottom of a CRO plan that everybody can understand and implement.

Harris Norman is a 35-year-old web developer, born and raised in San Francisco Bay Area. Harris is also very passionate about spending time in nature, which is why he spends all of his free time hiking, sailing and mountain climbing. His design skills are admirable, which is why he’s got a special place among the writers of designrush.com. When he’s not running around chasing adventure, he likes to play the trombone, though not very well.

At Mountaintop Web Design, we pride ourselves in our commitment to delivering quality solutions for businesses all over the world, regardless of size and industry. We work hard to make sure our clients see the results they expect from our team, and it’s with great excitement that we reveal our hard work has caught the eye of one of the world’s leading resources for verified online reviews: Clutch.co.

Clutch is a ratings and reviews platform for service providers in the IT, web and app development, and digital design industries. Their segment devoted to web designers is one of the most competitive and fastest-growing directories on their platform, making us proud to stand out as a leading agency so soon after creating a profile.

To be featured on Clutch as a leading provider in any industry is no easy task – Companies must prove they have the qualities of a leading agency through demonstrating their industry expertise and ability to deliver results for clients. From the services we offer, to the list of clients we have, to the projects we’ve delivered so far, our evaluation on Clutch has already helped us to improve our online reputation and boost our ranking on their site.

Our score on Clutch is also attributed to the reviews our clients have provided for Mountaintop Web Design. Clutch does things a bit differently than other reviews platforms by calling and speaking with our clients firsthand to gather their opinions on what it’s like working with our team. So far, so good:

  • “I receive lots of positive feedback from site visitors and advertisers…”Owner, Halloween Events Colorado LLC
  • “I appreciate their ability to answer questions in a single day and how they watch out for our organization…”Executive Director, Severe Weather Shelter Network

It’s an exciting opportunity for us to be included in Clutch’s research because it’s not only allowed us to see where we rank compared to other firms similar to ours, but also because we’ve been able to hear directly from our clients about their opinions working with us from a verified, unbiased source. In fact, our position on Clutch has qualified us to be featured on their sister-website, The Manifest, as one of the best SEO agencies in Denver in 2018!

We’ll get to the very top of Clutch’s ranking of SEO service providers in 2018 – all we have to do is continue doing what we’re doing and stay true to our commitment to delivering solutions that make our partners proud.

A sales channel is the medium you use to sell your products or services. For example, a physical retailer of coffee beans would use a brick- and- mortar coffee shop to sell his products which would include raw materials and beverages. The coffee shop is his sales channel. On the other hand, the wholesaler of coffee beans would have the company’s distributors as the sales channels for its products.

Direct Sales Channels Vs. Indirect Sales Channels: What Is The Difference?

In our first example, the coffee shop owner is selling his products directly to his customers. In the second example, the wholesaler has enlisted the help of middlemen; the distributors and perhaps other resellers, to sell the company’s coffee beans.

The coffee shop owner is utilizing a direct sales channel to sell his products. There are no middlemen involved and he gets to keep all of the profits. Of course, the coffee shop owner employs cashiers who also function as front- line salespeople.

Not only will cashiers process the transaction, they will also upsell other products such as muffins, sandwiches, or perhaps entice you to upsize your coffee from a “short” to a “large”.

Employing the cashiers will entail additional costs in the form of salaries and benefits. Some retailers will give cashiers sales quotas. This will give the company an idea of the ROI per cashier.

Other companies may employ different direct sales channels for their products and services. For example, a telecommunications company may set up a telemarketing team to call leads generated by the marketing team.

Another option for the telecommunications company would be to outsource telemarketing services to a third party. With this option, the company would not cover the overhead costs of the telemarketing agents but would have to pay the management fees of the third party service provider.

Other types of direct sales channels include resellers and personal sellers who purchase the products and sell them to targeted buyers.

In contrast, the wholesaler is using indirect sales channels to sell the company’s products.

The company does not keep all of the profits as it has to pay commissions and incentives to the middlemen. However, the company’s overhead costs are low because it does not pay additional overhead costs to hire personnel to sell the products directly. By using indirect sales channels, the company does not have to pay salaries, benefits, and incur other incremental costs.

What if you are running an e-commerce business? What kind of sales channel will you be using?

The answer may seem obvious. As an online business, you are using the Internet to sell your products and services. You may have an e-commerce website where interested customers can browse through your selection and complete a transaction at the Checkout Counter.

However, the website is not your only option. You might decide to sell your products in a “marketplace” such as Amazon or eBay. By selling through Amazon, you will be capitalizing on the website’s gigantic community of users. As a tradeoff, Amazon will take its share of your sales and you will have to abide by the website’s rules and regulations.

Another option would be to sell your products through affiliate marketers. They function like the distributors and resellers of the coffee bean company. Instead of paying overhead costs for hiring sales agents, you pay affiliate marketers a percentage of your profits.

Thus, with an e-commerce business, you could sell directly to your customers from your website or sell indirectly through community marketplaces or affiliate marketers.

The question is: How would people know about your e-commerce website; it’s products and services?

It is important to know what sales channels you will be using to sell your products and services so that you can identify the marketing channels needed to promote them to your intended audience.

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Aligning Your Sales Channels With Your Marketing Channels

Sales and Marketing are related functions but independent of one another. The marketing team’s objective is to generate interest for the company’s products and services by utilizing a variety of techniques, processes, and tactics that market and promote their value to the prospective customer.

The sales team’s objective is to close the deal. It is focused on converting interest into revenues. Salespeople work to turn prospects into paying customers. This is the general idea behind the sales funnel. Marketing brings prospects to the funnel. The sales team guides them through the funnel until the prospects come out of it as paying customers.

The greater the number of prospects marketing brings in, the larger becomes the entry point of the funnel. Thus, marketing may have to utilize different marketing channels to generate a higher volume of prospects or leads.

Marketers make decisions based on ROI or Return on Investment. Therefore, if you use a new marketing channel that shifts interest away from an existing marketing channel without improving your conversion rate, the investment in the new marketing channel is not worth it. You will be incurring greater costs without improving sales conversions.

There are a good number of marketing channels to choose from; each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Your choice of marketing channels should align with the sales channels in order to support your business goals and objectives.  

Direct Marketing Channels Vs. Indirect Marketing Channels: Which Ones Should You Choose To Support Your Sales Channels?

Just like sales channels, there are direct and indirect marketing channels. What is the difference between the two types of marketing channels?

With direct marketing channels, you are targeting a specific or segmented group in your audience. A good example of a direct marketing channel is email marketing whereby you have built up a mailing list consisting of newsletter subscribers, existing customers, and social media followers.

One of the biggest advantages of email marketing is that you can segment your mailing list into categories. This way, you can create content that is tailor-fit to meet the needs, interests, and concerns of your subscribers.

For example, if you are an online retailer of supplements, you can segment your content according to interest.

You can categorize your subscribers according to those who want to lose weight, gain muscle, fight aging, and improve sports performance. Then, create content that offers products catered to meet the goals of each specific interest.

You can read more about the benefits of email marketing in our articles, “7 Best Practices For Email Marketing” and “Why Email Marketing Is Very Much Alive”.

Another good example of a direct marketing channel is Pay- Per- Click or PPC ads. The people who click on your PPC ad are those who have interest or need of your product or service. They will land on your website home page and hopefully, stay long enough to find what they are looking for.

Other examples of direct marketing channels are:

  • Display banner Ads
  • Direct Mail
  • Radio Ads
  • TV Ads
  • Newspaper Ads

Direct marketing channels are ideal if you are selling your products in a brick- and- mortar store or if you have a website.

Indirect marketing channels are primarily used to promote or create greater awareness about your business; its products and services. If you are engaged in e-commerce, you can use indirect marketing channels such as social media marketing and blogging to drive inbound traffic to your website.

For example, you can blog about your business; how it began, why you chose this specific industry, and your expertise. You can also publish content that showcases the value of your products and services. These types of informative, value-added content include “How To” and List-Type articles.

Once you’ve uploaded your blogs on your website, you can distribute them to your various social media networks. The purpose is to entice readers to visit your website so they can learn more about your business.

Staying active on social media and other online platforms are great ways to remain visible on the Internet. The more people read about you, the greater the probability of generating interest in your business.

Brick- and- mortar businesses likewise benefit from indirect marketing channels such as social media and content marketing. Fashion retailers use image- heavy social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube to showcase their products.

Video marketing has become a powerful tool for driving traffic and increasing sales conversions. Companies have links to their YouTube channel embedded in their websites. Interested parties can go through “Explainer Videos” then visit the YouTube channel to explore more video-based content.

If you are utilizing indirect sales channels such as an online community marketplace like Amazon, you can write product reviews and include a link to the page offering your products and services. You may also want to contribute to industry-related websites and direct readers to your website or product page.

Conclusion

Are there limits or constraints to the type of sales channel you want to use for your business? You will have to answer these three questions:

  1. What is your budget? Do you have enough resources to support and sustain sales and marketing teams?
  2. Are you open to the idea of outsourcing sales and marketing activities to third- party service providers?
  3. How reliable are your suppliers? Can you effectively manage the level of inventory needed to comply with demand?

Large companies like Apple and Amazon have incorporated different types of sales channels into their business development strategy with great success. Both companies have brick- and- mortar locations as well as e-commerce websites that directly sell their respective products to customers.

They have integrated outsourced telemarketing services with in-house sales agents to spread out the costs and cover more ground. Of course, these companies have maintained an active online presence through social media and other Internet- based platforms.

The bottom-line is you should use sales channels to help grow your business. The types of sales channels you choose will depend on your goals, objectives, and budget.

By knowing the proper sales channels, you will have a better idea on which processes to use to effectively market and promote your business.  When these channels are aligned, your marketing efforts will be able to generate more leads for the sales funnel. Then, it will be easier for your salespeople to do their job and convert prospects into paying customers.

If this article has got you seriously thinking about using certain sales channels for your business, give us a call or drop us an email. You can consult with us free of charge!

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Facebook is the largest social media network on the Internet. It has more than 2 Billion members with more than 1 Billion active users every day. Facebook’s sheer size makes it an attractive platform for marketers to run campaigns. However, when it comes to ad distribution, size hardly matters. Unless it can be seen by prospective end users, your ad will be overlooked like a typewriter in an office. Facebook Ads work because they place your ads where your potential customer can see them right away.

8 Reasons Why Facebook Ad Works:

  1. Largest online community with more than 2 billion members;
  2. Largest number of daily active users with 1 billion members;
  3. Highest Return on Investment (ROI) among all social media networks;
  4. Offers 10 campaign objectives that support a variety of marketing goals;
  5. Multiple ad formats to run your campaign;
  6. Targets your audience by allowing you to create a buyer’s profile;
  7. Allows you to set your advertising budget;
  8. Uses 4 platforms to run your ads: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Audience Network.

What Are Facebook Ads?

Facebook ads are paid advertising content that appear on your News Feed and on the right hand column of your home page if you are on a PC desktop. Placement of Facebook ads are based on the following criteria:

  • User activity;
  • Demographic information;
  • Device use information;
  • Information provided by advertising and marketing-partners;
  • Off- Facebook activity.

The keyword is “paid” advertising content. Unlike organic search marketing where you post content for the purpose of attracting the interest of potential customers, with Facebook ads you pay to have your ad featured.

The advantage of paid advertising is that your ad will be placed where potential customers can see it right away. Anyone who clicks on your ad will end up on your website.

Thus paid advertising can give your website an immediate boost up the search rankings. Because these are people who have shown interest in your advertised products or services, paid ads may also increase your sales conversion rates.

Many believe that Facebook began its transition from social media network to media company back in 2012 after its poorly received Initial Public Offering (IPO). However, Facebook Ads origins can be traced back to 2004 when the company offered paid advertising under its Facebook Flyers feature.

Facebook Flyers were simple ads that cost between $10 and $40. They functioned like the notice boards you would typically find in a college campus. Students used Facebook Flyers to promote social events while small businesses ran ads that targeted specific campuses.

As it turned out, Facebook Flyers became the blueprint for Facebook Ads. It carried over its features to customize audiences, create campaigns according to budget and to make the process as simple and easy as possible.

Why You Should Include Facebook Ads In Your Marketing Campaign

Facebook is not the only social media network that offers paid advertising. Instagram, YouTube and Twitter also have paid ad options. Search engines such as Google through its Google AdWords similarly offer paid advertising for its users. However, it may be wise to prioritize Facebook Ads above everyone else.

Here are 5 reasons why you should include Facebook Ads in your marketing campaign:

1. Facebook Is Growing

There is no stopping Facebook’s growth. Whether it is the United States, Japan, Germany, Russia or Australia, the number of Facebook users will continue to grow exponentially over the next few years.

To capitalize on its growth, expect the company to introduce more options for advertising. Businesses will have more tools to reach their target market. For the year 2017 alone, Facebook launched the following advertising platforms:

  • Messenger Day
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Live Video

In addition, Facebook improved its advertising report capabilities. It will be easier to track down the performance of your campaigns.

This means if you haven’t started on your Facebook Ads campaign, don’t worry! There’s no better time to include Facebook Ads in your digital marketing strategy than now.

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2. Social Media Marketers Love Facebook

A 2016 survey by Social Fresh, Firebrand Group and Simply Measured revealed that 95.8% of 551 social media marketers identified Facebook as having the best ROI among social media networks.

Social media marketers are professionals and highly trained in what they do. They have run paid ad campaigns through various platforms and are convinced Facebook Ads generate the best results for B2C and B2B campaigns.

Many businesses report surpassing their marketing goals five-fold after running campaigns through Facebook Ads.

It doesn’t look like the trend will stop anytime now as advertising budgets have been increasing the last few years. Case in point, advertising budgets for social media marketing in the United States almost doubled from $16 Billion in 2014 to $32 Billion in 2016.

As the Facebook global community continues to grow, expect more businesses to include Facebook ads in their Digital Marketing program.

3. Runs Your Ads Through Multiple Platforms

When you sign up for Facebook Ads, your paid ad material will not run through its News Feed. Facebook will likewise run it through multiple platforms for maximum targeted visibility. Presently Facebook has five distribution channels for paid ads:

  • Facebook News Feed
  • Facebook Right Column (Home Page)
  • Messenger
  • Instagram
  • Audience Network

Facebook Messenger is the social network’s chat/ personal messaging system. It is popularly used via mobile phone although many PC desktop users find it a convenient way to communicate with their network.

Instagram is one of the biggest and most popular image-based social media network on the Internet. And Facebook bought it in 2012 for US $1 Billion! Instagram is a wonderful platform to use if your products and services are highly visual in nature. It is one of Facebook’s biggest generators of revenue.

Audience Network is a great tool for paid ad distribution. This is a feature in Facebook Ads which searches the Internet for apps and websites that match the demographics and online behaviour of your target audience.

Having these five platforms will make it easier to reach your target audience among Facebook’s 2 Billion strong community.

4. Positions Your Ad In Front Of Potential Customers

If you can target your ads to potential buyers, then market size will become a factor. In 2017, more than 1.6 billion people saw paid ads that were posted through Facebook’s Audience Network feature.

Now factor in the number of people who will see your paid ad in their Facebook News Feed, Homepage, Messenger and Instagram page. Again these are not just randomly selected people from the community. These are targeted users of Facebook who fit your buyer’s profile.

How does Facebook do this?

Facebook Ads has a Detailed Targeting feature. You have the option of publishing your ad to a new audience simply by choosing the “Exclude people who like my page” option.

However if you are launching a new product or service, it would be better to choose the “People who like my page” option as these people are already familiar with your business.

You also have the option of customizing the search parameters of your target audience. Facebook has a step-by-step guide which will take you through the entire process of creating an audience profile. Facebook will use the information to find the best, most ideal sites to place your paid ad.

5. Allows You To Stay Within Budget

Most businesses, especially small enterprises and startups are hindered by tight budgets from starting an advertising campaign.

As we discussed in our articles, “How to Set Up a Low Budget Digital Marketing Campaign” and “How to Launch a $100 Digital Marketing Campaign”, it is possible to succeed even with a restricted budget.

However the articles discussed organic search marketing strategies. Paid advertising as the term implies, carries a cost. However, with paid ads you only pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.

Therefore, if your ad gets seen by 1,000 people but only 10 click on it, you will only pay for the 10 clicks. With Facebook Ads, you don’t need a million dollar budget to get started.

Depending on the location of the ad, you can start driving people to your website for as little as $0.10 to $0.30 per click.

Here’s the breakdown of the Cost Per Click (CPC) by placement in Facebook Ads:

CPC chart based off ad placement

Chart courtesy of AdEspresso

As you can see, Instagram has the highest CPC. Still there are 5 million business profiles in Instagram. The volume alone should give you the confidence to have your paid ad campaign go through Facebook Ads.

Conclusion

Facebook Ads is a great platform to run your paid ad campaign. Because it has features that allow you to target your intended audience, you will be able to capitalize on Facebook’s massive 2 Billion community of users.

Your paid ad will also be posted in multiple sites that will enable more people to see it. Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram was a big winner for the company. Instagram has 800 million active monthly users and 300 million daily active users.

When embarking on a Digital Marketing campaign, it is a good idea to mix organic search marketing with paid advertising.

Organic search marketing will build your business reputation and visibility over the long term. Paid advertising will drive inbound traffic to your website immediately and help your business gain traction right away.

This way while you are developing markets and an audience for your business, paid advertising through Facebook Ads can help you find potential end users who may have immediate need for your products and services.

If we got you interested in starting out a Facebook Ads campaign, please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We will get back to you right away.

Remember, now is the best time to start your Facebook Ads campaign as the social media network is still growing!

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