why hire a website design agency when i can do it myself

Why Would I Pay a Website Design Agency to Build My Website When I Could Do it Myself?

why hire a website design agency when i can do it myself

There’s something to be said about putting your best foot forward. When you go for a job interview, you take the time to focus on what you wear so that you make the best possible first impression. Your website can be considered a job interview. It’s what people are going to use when they want to learn more about you. If they like what they see, they’ll continue to interact with the site, sliding further down the sales funnel that you create.

Online marketing begins and ends with a good website.

Acknowledge Your Strengths and Weaknesses

You may be great at what you do. Whether that is being the best dentist in town or the best architect, the reality is that you have your strengths. You don’t have to be the best in everything. As soon as you know what your weaknesses are, you can start to do what’s right for your business.

I learned this the hard way a few years ago. The 2016 El Nino storm resulted in my backyard fence being blown down. I figured, “I got this.” I watched a few YouTube videos and rebuilt my fence. It looked fine. About three years later, another big storm came through. This time, I lost almost my entire fence. I admitted defeat and called a pro.

My point to this story is that there’s no shame in admitting your weaknesses. While you can build your website doesn’t mean that you should. It might look okay at the surface, but your competition may be blowing past you because of insufficient online marketing tactics.

Save Money But Don’t Be Cheap

There’s nothing wrong with saving money. The savviest business owners do it all the time. However, you don’t want to be cheap, either. Many businesses should take a DIY approach for their website when they’re starting out, especially when a budget is tight. After all, there are some great platforms that allow you to take a DIY approach and still have a professional website.

However, it’s important that you have a website planning session to ensure that you’re building your website to meet your needs. Once you reach a point where you know you need more, you need to make sure that you’re doing what’s right for your business. Your website is not the area where you want to be cheap. As you grow your business, it’s important to start delegating key tasks, including website development and online marketing.

Focus on More than a Web Presence

It’s important to know what your website is and what it isn’t. It’s so much more than a website.
Your website is:

  • a lead generator,
  • an educational tool,
  • a sales funnel, and
  • an online marketing strategy.

If you don’t treat it as all of these things, you’re missing out on the whole point to a website. For example, how are people going to find you on the search engines if you haven’t thought about search engine optimization? How are people going to connect with you if you don’t have a lead form on your site? How are people going to be converted from site visitors to customers if you don’t have the right marketing tactics in place?

If you don’t know how to accomplish all of these things, don’t panic. It’s all about asking for help when you’re in over your head. What got you here will not get you there. You need a website that will help to automate lead generation and serve as a vital marketing tool for your business.

Market Smarter Not Harder

Your website is a great way to focus on online marketing. You need an SEO strategy in place to ensure that you’re visible. From there, you need to have videos and testimonials attached to your website. You need to explain to people what your unique value proposition is and why they need to do business with you.

A basic website from a DIY platform is only going to cut it for so long. At some point, you have to consider how a professional website design company can help you to start marketing smarter. The right agency will look at your business model and processes, establish your target audience, incorporate your branding, and ensure that you have the necessary calls-to-action.

A user-friendly website with various marketing tactics in place can make it easier for you to market. Once a professional website has been built, you can get more leads and see your revenue grow exponentially. Let us help. Our web design services have helped a number of businesses throughout Monterey Bay and beyond.

You need more than just a pretty website. You need a website that makes you money. We understand that your website is an investment in your business. Let us show you how to get there by contacting us today. A quick conversation can help you to see the importance of a professionally built website.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.


video marketing for local business

How Integrating Video Into Your Marketing Mix Will Crush The Competition

Marketing tactics change regularly. When you want to crush the competition and get consumers dialed into your offerings, it’s important to use video marketing. Using videos within your marketing mix is nothing new. However, there are a number of reasons why it should be prioritized.

Ensure Consumers Understand

You have a unique value proposition, which is great for your brand. However, what if consumers don’t understand what that is and why they should care? The attention span has dropped considerably, so you have to think outside the box when it comes to making sure consumers see what you have on your website.

By using explainer videos, you have a greater chance of having people understand what you’re all about. Rather than filling your website with blocks and blocks of text, you can have a video that tells them everything they need to know. You let the video entertain and educate them for a minute, ensuring that they “get” it.

Before consumers hit the buy button, they hit the play button. This allows you to use a video as one of the greatest conversion tools. Remember, for many, seeing is believing. There’s not enough text in the world that will convince some people that they need to do business with your brand. They need to see it. Video is a great way to accomplish this.

Whether you use animated videos or professional video production, you’re providing a different way to convey your message. Further, approximately 95% of a message is retained in a video in comparison to 10% of what is read in text.

Provide Testimonials without a Shadow of a Doubt

Don’t ever assume that your target audience is naïve. While many people search for online reviews to see what other people are saying about you, there are others who will question the authenticity. You read about fake reviews all the time. Unfortunately, there are companies that use fake reviews in order to promote that they are better than they really are.

Even if all of your reviews are authentic, it can make it hard for people to believe it. This is when you can, yet again, turn to the power of video marketing. You can use video testimonials as a way to prove that people love your product or service. People can see that it’s a real person using their own words to tell others what they love about you.

Testimonial videos are easy to create and highly shareable. You can have them on your website, Facebook, and more.

Change Up Your Marketing Strategies

99% of businesses don’t market in the year that they actually live. Essentially, I’m referring to the idea that most businesses are using outdated marketing strategies. Video is the ultimate way to stand out from the competition. It’s great for search engine optimization, too, because your website is more likely to be on the first page of Google when there’s video content on it.

By switching up your marketing tactics, you can start to see more traffic to your website, more leads, and higher conversion rates. You may also be able to tap into new demographics because of giving people what they want to see.

Marketing videos can be as creative as you want them to be. More importantly, they can be branded to your business. You can use them to give people a “behind the scenes” look at your operations, be entirely promotional, as well as be a tutorial of how to use a product.

You can use marketing videos in so many exciting ways, too.

  • Have them on the landing pages of your website.
  • Incorporate them into blogs.
  • Load them onto your YouTube channel.
  • Post them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.
  • Add them to email newsletters.

Many brands grow 49% faster on an annual basis when videos are integrated into their marketing strategy. With more and more businesses figuring out that video is where the future is, you owe it to yourself to get in on the movement. The results may shock and pleasantly surprise you. The best part is that you don’t have to do it alone. Rather than winging it every step of the way, you can have a professional marketing team guide you through the video marketing tactics.

Video creation services provide you with the opportunity to get above your competition. 30 to 60-second animated videos can entertain site visitors. 3-minute professional production videos can also be used to educate potential consumers and increase conversion rates. We’re already starting to offer these services to Monterey Bay Area businesses and look forward to showing you how they can work.

Start a conversation with us at Coastline Marketing Group by contacting us today. We’ll talk to you more about marketing videos so that it can have the biggest impact for you.

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.


5 Reasons Why Your Company Should Have a Solid SEO Strategy

You want your company to succeed, just as we all want our companies to succeed. In order to be successful, we need sales. That requires a constant source of leads. Search engine optimization or SEO delivers the traffic to our websites so that we’re able to push content, advertisements, and more in front of them.

Without the traffic, it’s hard to stay afloat. A solid strategy will help you to reach your goals by allowing you to be more visible. You don’t want to linger in the shadows because people won’t be able to find you. Without having traffic to your site, why bother having a website?

First, you have to understand something. What is SEO? It’s a process where you increase the quantity and the quality of traffic that visits your website. Organic results allow you to be seen naturally as a result of keyword research, keyword density, backlinks, the amount of content, where your content is located, and a number of other variables. SEO allows you to be seen in the search engines without spending money to get the traffic, as you do with PPC marketing.

  1. Organic Search Delivers Traffic

Consumers use search engines. Approximately 4 billion searches are conducted on Google every day, which accounts for 75 percent of the market. That’s a lot of people looking for things. If someone searches for a product or service that you offer, you want your website to appear. Because it’s organic, people trust it. They know you didn’t pay to get your website in front of them.

  1. The Return on Investment is Undeniable

Digital marketing can get expensive. However, search engine optimization is something that you can do for free. Even if you do pay for things such as a custom web design and search engine optimization services, it’s a lot cheaper than some of the other digital marketing campaigns that you may pay for, such as spending $10,000 per month to have ads shown to people who visit YouTube.

With a lower cost of marketing, the return on investment is going to be impressive. This allows you to get a significant amount of traffic to your website without spending a significant amount of money.

  1. You Build Trust & Credibility

You want anyone visiting your site to trust you. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Building trust and credibility take time. However, when you have a great-looking website and the right SEO in place, you can provide a better user experience. Trust and credibility are built with quality backlinks, positive user behavior, and various on-page elements and content that has been optimized. When people trust you, they’re more likely to do business with you.

  1. Enjoy Increased Engagement & Conversions

Mobile traffic is becoming more prevalent because people use smartphones and tablets to search for things on the go. Local search engine optimization, therefore, is becoming more popular. It allows people to find businesses within their area. It allows you to have increased engagement from those within your community. You can also boost the number of conversions because people have connected with you.

Local SEO should be a major part of your strategy. Developing reviews on social media as well as Yelp, and others can play a big role in converting leads to customers. It also creates more content, which helps your organic SEO standings.

  1. Google Analytics Delivers Insight

Google Analytics can provide you with the insight needed to know whether search engine optimization is working or not. You can see where your traffic is originating, what keywords people used in the search engine to find you, and even how long they stayed on your website. All of this makes a difference in the end. Without the analytics, you could be doing everything wrong.

You could have the best search engine optimization strategy out there but if your landing pages aren’t professional and engaging, it’s all for nothing. Similarly, consumer insight could be telling you that you’re spending your time on the wrong social media platform.

This is where we want to make sure you have a complete strategy in place so you don’t lose out on the traffic that could be coming your way. A digital marketing agency can be your beacon of light to make sure that you have a strategy that incorporates all of the insight and analytics.

The reality is that search engine optimization is constantly changing. A search engine can change their algorithm overnight, changing the way that websites are shown in the search results. However, when you have a solid strategy in place, you’re less likely to be affected in a dramatic way.

Search engine optimization is so much more than keywords. You need to have a strategy in place that is capable of being updated as new algorithms are made available. Further, it’s an ongoing process. As soon as you stop focusing on SEO, you lose your footing in the search engines.

Search engine optimization needs to be a focus within your business. Set an appointment for a consultation with us today so that we can discuss strategies for your business in detail. Starting a conversation can be the best way to re-focus your energy and start getting more traffic to your website.

 

phil fisk digital marketing consultant

 

 

 

 

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.


Content Marketing: The Key to Marketing Smarter Not Harder!

Running a business is hard enough. None of us want to work harder than necessary. This is why it’s so important to focus on content marketing. By establishing a strong content marketing strategy from the very beginning, it’s much easier to market smarter instead of harder.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is all about having content online for people to read. The content can be anywhere: web pages, sales copy, blogs, press releases, and even social media accounts. The content is written in such a way that it gets people interested and shows that you know what you’re talking about.

It’s impossible to know how people are going to find what they’re looking for. They may take a DIY approach at first and look for a guide on how to do something. If you have DIY blogs on your website, they’ll likely find you. Then again, someone could go straight to Facebook to try to find a company that has made a few posts about the subject they’re interested in. If you have an active Facebook account, they could find you.

The more content you have, in various areas across the internet, the easier it will be for consumers to “stumble” upon that content. You, then, drive them to your website where there will be a lead generation landing page. They’ll be interested in the information you have provided and will submit their email address to learn more. This is the first step in generating a lead.

Bring the Customers to You

It’s important to bring the customers to you. Otherwise, you’re creating content that will never get read. How is this done?

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is all about optimizing your online presence so that you’re more visible in the search engines. There are over four billion searches conducted on Google every day. People are looking for things on their computer, on their tablet, and on their smartphone. If they’re looking for something pertaining to your business, it’s vital that you appear in their search engine result pages, and preferably, on page one.

Paid Advertising

If you have ever seen a banner advertising a company on a blog or a shopping website, that is because of paid advertising. You can have banners that direct people back to your website on various other websites. Usually, you pay per click. The cost per click will vary based on the traffic of the website as well as your banner’s position. You can have paid advertising in Google search engines, in Facebook, and on plenty of other websites, too.

Press Releases

Press releases tell people about upcoming news, such as a grand opening, the launch of a new product or something else that is exciting. These press releases are often shared by major news outlets, ensuring that more and more links are created with information about your business. If someone reads a press release about your business, they’ll likely follow a link to land on a lead generation page of yours.

Social Media

Social media marketing is becoming increasingly more popular. Much of this has to do with Facebook having over one billion users. Every audience uses one social media platform more than another. Younger generations rely more on Instagram while older generations focus on YouTube and Facebook. Creating messages and ads can drive people to the content on your website, allowing you to capture leads.

Email Marketing

Every time you get an email entered into the lead form on your website, it can go into a database. This database will store all of the emails. Then, when you’re ready, you can send out an email to everyone to identify a new product, a sale or some other news about your company. Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with customers and potential customers. The emails can also drive people to specific content on your site as a way of giving them more information to push them closer to buying a product or service.

Get Social

Content is designed to help you get social. Although you may not be having many face-to-face conversations with customers (and potential customers) you can socialize through your content. Blogs are written as though you’re conversing with someone, providing them with advice, a how-to or trending news. Social media posts are more interactive, asking questions and listening to feedback from those who follow you.

All of the content is to help you become more human. When you’re more human, customers will see you as more than a faceless website. They’ll be more likely to follow you, listen to your advice, and call on you when they need your product or service.

Keep Content Fresh

When you keep content fresh, you will be able to have a constant influx of leads coming in, too. When you have a content marketing strategy in place, you will have the necessary lead tools on your website. As people read new content from you, they’ll be more interested in what you have to offer. They’ll complete the lead form on your website, entering them into the sales funnel.

With the right automation in place, you can continue to feed leads information without having to do anything. Let the leads come to you. This is what I’m talking about when I say we all need to market smarter. There’s absolutely no reason to go chasing around leads when there is a smarter way to get the leads. Besides, no one wants to feel as though they’re being chased. As long as we leave the right bread crumbs in place, they’ll find the trail and come right to us.

The only way to generate traffic to the lead generation landing pages, however, is by having content. Creating content doesn’t have to be an all-consuming task. You can hire a company to do all of the content creation and marketing for you, which is certainly something we can help with if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

By getting in touch with us, we can start a conversation to guide you towards a better marketing strategy. It can make it easier for you to operate your business knowing that content will deliver the leads right to you.

phil fisk digital marketing consultant

 

 

 

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.

 

 

 


Reviving Digital Marketing

Tough Love Tips for Reviving Your Dysfunctional Digital Marketing

If there's one thing that I've learned in spending 12 years helping more than 500 business master marketing, it's that there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Despite what so-called gurus and experts might have entrepreneurs believe, each circumstance demands unique situational awareness: Regardless whether they're working from scratch or following some premade methodology, marketers have to be constantly on their toes.

Fortunately, outreach doesn't have to be a blind venture into the unwelcoming darkness. Learning from other people's mistakes can make oversights easier to avoid. Why not use some of these tough-love concepts to make wiser marketing choices?

Amateur Marketing Almost Always Falls Short

Feel like a thrifty business champion for getting a relative or friend to build a free web portal? Think it's easy to master Google AdWords with no SEO training? DIY digital marketing never functions the way business owners anticipate, and the small amount of cash they save is rarely worth the longterm revenue potential they sacrifice.

Companies work with digital marketing professionals for a good reason: No matter how clear a business owner's executive vision seems, it takes well-designed, secure, functional sites and brand experiences to convince customers to transact. Companies that settle for anything less suffer because they appear less professional. Tools like AdWords and Google Analytics may be powerful indeed, but when misused, they waste money.

Why not save everyone time by doing things the right way from the start? Although it can be tempting to conserve limited resources as much as humanly possible, smarter marketing expenditures are always more justified than merely trying ideas until something sticks.

Bad Marketers Ignore Their Audience's Preferences

One of the biggest marketing mistakes that business owners make is assuming they fully understand their target users. Even if they have lots of data, experience or intuition to back up their assertions, these leaders commit the fatal sin of not playing to the audience, and this makes it way harder to get the message out.

How do competent advertisers accommodate their adoring public? These tips might help:

  • Research the audience before each campaign to discover common desires and pain points. When using Facebook, Google and other outreach tools, address individual audience segments with thoughtful, keyword-based content that addresses their unique needs.
  • Use UTM codes, which are little bits of extra text tacked onto the end of URLs, to track how people engage with content online. UTM codes can reveal which sites visitors came from, which advertising campaigns and keyword terms they followed, or which kinds of marketing media they responded to, such as social platforms and blogs.
  • Cater to people's device preferences. A prospective customer might engage with a site using their laptop or PC before switching to mobile and eventually wandering back to their computer's browser. Make it easy for them to transition freely by designing a site that offers a uniform cross-platform experience.

The Best Marketing Campaigns Create Interesting Content

Long gone are the dark days of marketing initiatives that succeeded solely on the strength of banner ads and blaring popups. No matter how expertly companies place their keywords on a page or target their social media ads, they can't win without content that makes web users want to engage with their brands.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of ways to make outreach content attention-worthy. A company that sells a cool tech product, for example, might publish a series of blogs that go behind the scenes to explain the inner workings of their devices. Firms that want to make waves on social media might post about topics related to their niches and use clever tie-ins to lead people back to their brands. Discover what consumers have already expressed interest in, and respond with well-crafted marketing materials that scratch their collective itch for knowledge.

Marketers Who Talk At People Instead of Conversing With Them Usually Don't Get Heard

People are more likely to ignore advertisers that shout at, steamroll or talk down to them. Good consumer relationships are a two-way street, so open up a dialogue instead of standing on a soapbox to yell at whoever happens to be within earshot.

It's also way simpler to keep people focused on the message when it's packaged in an intriguing story instead of another boring old ad. Whether this takes the form of an ongoing article series or a cross-platform campaign involving alternate reality games and social media influencers, crafting a tale that takes people on a journey is always a worthwhile pursuit.

Marketing Content Shouldn't Outshine the Main Event

High-impact digital marketing is great, but when the websites that it promotes don't live up to expectations, brands inevitably suffer. Companies that want to attract attention from users must first ensure that they're ready to handle it. In other words, website upgrades, SEO audits and redesigns should all be accounted for in the marketing budget.

Don't think a new site is necessary? Remember that competition is fierce in the digital arena. Companies that want to rise to the top need sites that imbue viewers with a certain level of confidence. Don't skimp on aesthetics, functionality or third-party integrations.

Effective Targeting Doesn't Happen By Itself

Marketing campaigns can be overachievers, and this isn't necessarily a good thing. Ads that only resonate with people who aren't in the demographic, for instance, usually don't generate a positive return on investment, or ROI, regardless whether they produce additional views. Even if an ad is highly visible, it does no good if viewers don't care about what it's selling.

Focus on marketing content that connects with the most relevant audiences. For instance, when creating an AdWords campaign, business advertisers should use negative keywords to filter out searches that don't match their target users.

Marketing Campaigns Rarely Come Out Perfect on the First Try

Feeling confused about why a particular campaign isn't living up to its potential? Outreach, like most other business projects, demands continuous improvement.

Marketers who want their efforts to be fruitful never stop working to refine them. For instance, advertisers can use Google Ads' Quality Score ratings to get a good idea of how their campaign keywords perform. Facebook's relevance scoring offers similar information. Audiences are fickle, so it's vital to take advantage of all available feedback.

Marketers That Track ROI Waste Less and Profit More

From a business perspective, return on investment is probably the most reliable indicator of a campaign's success. No matter how viral a marketing video goes or how many page hits a social media post gets, ads need to produce sufficient revenue to sustain themselves as well as turn a profit. If they don't do both, then refine them soon or ditch them.

Getting the Ball Rolling in Real Life

Recognizing that it's time for a marketing shakeup is just the beginning. Serious firms take it further by putting these principles into action with the help of an expert.

What makes a good marketing agency partner?

People's experiences with different marketing agencies vary widely. Nonetheless, there are a few common factors worth thinking about while judging the options:

  • All good marketing is founded on market understanding. For small businesses, this often means getting to know the neighborhood or locale where most clients originate. When picking agencies, it's always a good sign if they have real-world storefronts or physical presences in the target region.
  • Applicable experience trumps all else. Agencies must have proven portfolios of their prior work. In addition to checking out pictures of the ad campaigns and business sites built by each prospect, always take the live versions for a spin. Test out how they function, look and feel to get a more intimate understanding of the agency's work.
  • Ratings aren't everything, but they do mean something. Whether they involve SEO audits, social media integrations or rebranding campaigns, digital marketing projects require time, effort and strong business relationships to evolve healthily. Agencies that accommodate different business models and genuinely care about providing a good client experience are a lot easier to work with. Those with the greatest number of 5-star reviews are generally safer bets.

Did these tips help bring successful marketing philosophies into clearer focus? Subscribe for more insightful pointers that could make it easier to reach audiences.


facebook-advertising

Using Facebook to Advertise Your Business? You May Be Doing it Wrong

There are many ways to market your business online, one of the most common methods being social media. When it comes to social media platforms, Facebook is one of the largest platforms. However, there are a lot of business owners doing everything they can think of on Facebook to market their business but often see no positive return on investment.

There could be plenty of factors to consider when it comes to marketing with Facebook. Often times, a business owner might believe that all he has to do is post an update to his page and make periodic "boosts". This is a common mistake for people who are new to marketing their business on Facebook.

Our recommendation is this; Only "boost" posts when you don't have time to create an ad. This is where the Facebook Ad Manager comes in.

Understanding the Facebook Ad Manager Platform

As mentioned before, most business owners feel that "boosting" their posts is an effective way to advertise on Facebook. However, having a full understanding of the Facebook Ad Manager will allow you to create a highly targeted and highly effective Facebook ad campaign.

Ads Manager is your starting point for running ads on Facebook, Instagram or the Audience Network. It's an all-in-one tool for creating ads, managing when and where they'll run, and tracking how well your campaigns are performing.

One of the biggest advantages of advertising on Facebook is that you can advertise on any budget. This is very useful for people who are a little tight on money while trying to start their own business. However, it is not just the cost-effectiveness of advertising but also the methods of gathering information and targeting that make advertising on Facebook so effective for business owners. Facebook helps you find the best types of people to advertise to so that you can achieve very high conversion rates.

4 Reasons Why You Should Set Up a Facebook Ad Account

1. The Power of the Facebook Pixel

The Facebook pixel is one of the tools that can prove to be beneficial to your marketing on social media. The pixel is code provided by Facebook that you place on your website. It helps you track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads based on collected data, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to qualified leads - people who have already taken some kind of action on your website.

2. Create Lookalike Audiences

This is one helpful tool for conversions. The Facebook Pixel is very helpful with this. Lookalike audiences are used by taking a look at the customers that are already visiting your site and gathering information such as likes, demographics, and other traits in order to help you find similar people. This can make it easier for you to expand your reach and gain new customers.

3. Create Custom Audiences

This is slightly similar to Lookalike Audiences. Basically, you look at your current set of customers and build an audience based on your customers. Simply take your current customer email list and upload it to Facebook so that it can use the data for targeting. Once you have created your Custom Audience list, you can develop and target your ads to this group of customers you have built. For those of you that may have small audiences, one of the things you can do is test different aspects of your marketing in order to find the methods people respond to the most.

4. Custom Conversions

With Custom Conversions, you can track events on your site without having to change the Facebook Pixel code. This feature enables you to track your conversions and perform optimization techniques without having to add new code to your site. You are also replacing conversion data on the pages you have set up. In order for this to be effective, you already have to have the Facebook pixel embedded on your page.

In Summary

If you're running a business of any size, you are probably not going to have time to handle all of your own marketing. Fortunately, there are digital marketing agencies that are available for you to get in touch with. We know of one you might want to consider :)

 

There’s a lot of information here to consider but help is available if needed. Business owners with any questions or who need help on any part of their quest to build a powerful social presence can contact our team at Coastline Marketing Group. We offer a wide range of digital marketing solutions that can help position your business for success.


website-design-salinas-monterey

3 Things You MUST Consider Before Building Your New Website

For the last couple of decades, you've been told that you must have a website for your business both to improve your bottom line and to build a brand.

Still, recent studies show that as many as 46% of all small businesses in the U.S. don't have a website. When asked why they didn't have a site for their business, one common explanation given was that they had developed a website at one time but had received little to no benefit from it.

Developing a website is easier than ever today with the wealth of online tools, content management systems, and web development agencies available. But blindly developing a website for your business isn't likely to result in a successful online presence.

Blindly developing a website for your business is like sitting down at a piano to play, and for most of us, wondering why you can't play as well as Mozart.

A quality website that helps build a brand, maintains a low bounce rate and achieves a strong conversion rate will do much to enhance your bottom line. Such a website, however, isn't tossed together quickly using a free, commercial drag and drop utility. A quality website requires careful planning and consideration before it ever goes live.

How do Websites Benefit Small Business?

The internet is where the consumers are. Small businesses remain open without all of the overhead costs of traditional business. Additionally, giving the ability to market products and services to a global audience. The internet is an invaluable tool for the business owner who learns to use it wisely.

Statistics show that there are currently over 4 billion internet users worldwide. The average American internet user is online an average of 24 hours per week. That's a lot of people connected to the internet who just might be looking for products or services that you offer. And each year sees an increase in the amount of global ecommerce spending.

So once you decide to develop a website, or try again, where do you start?

What 3 Things Must Be Considered Before Building a Website?

Before getting started on the work of developing a website, there are 3 things a business owner must do.

1. Decide on a Strategy

The first question you should ask is what is the objective of your proposed website? Will it be a store where customers can buy your products and you ship to them? If we're dealing in digital goods, perhaps your store will be set up so downloadable digital files are available after purchase. Perhaps you offer a service or information online and you require a website that will allow customers to sign up for a paid subscription to receive your information or services on an ongoing basis.

You must be very clear in understanding the role the website will serve for you and it can serve more than one. A website done well can be your online presence 24/7 to the world, providing information and a way to contact you with any questions. It will also serve a primary purpose whether as an online store, an information site, or subscription service. You just need to be very clear in defining its primary function.

Once you've determined what purpose the site will serve, you need to determine what action you would like for your visitors to take on it. You definitely want them to find and purchase your products and services. If you can also provide fresh, relevant content of value to your audience, your site can be a source of information and an authority within your area of interest. You likely want them to sign up for your newsletter, fill out a form to contact you, or use social media functions on your website to share your content.

2. Focus On The Message:

Your message is a crucial part of developing a website. It's important to know and understand what your message is and how to best present it to the world.

Humans are social creatures of habit. In communication either personal or written, you tend to examine the speaker in a given conversation and you subconsciously try to determine what their intentions are. Are they trustworthy? Are they similar to you?

There is a foreground message you offer. If you sell pool cues and you write a blog about the top 10 pool cue brands, then the 10 brands listed are an example of your foreground message.

There is also a background message which is the "reading between the lines" portion of what you're saying to your audience. What is your audience looking for? They are trying to discern what type of people you are or what type of business or organization you have. The background message is incredibly important because if there are any doubts about you, your business, or your intentions, the visitor will immediately leave your website.

Considerations

You should make time to consider the impression you want to make and what you'd like for your audience to take away from visiting your site. You need to consider the message you want to convey carefully and develop your website around that. Once that's established, You need to ensure all of your communications carry that message.

Some questions you might want to ask:

  • What are your values?
  • What words could be used to describe your business? (Dependable, efficient, energetic, friendly, insightful, responsible, and more.)
  • Which type of people are in the audience you want?
  • What needs does your business serve for this audience?
  • Which problems do you intend to solve for your audience?
  • What do you think your audiences expects from your business?
  • How can your business best connect with the audience you want?

3. What's Your Marketing Strategy?

When it comes to talking about online marketing strategies and search engine optimization (SEO), many would rather not have that conversation. Isn't it enough to build a website with a clearly defined objective and a solid message for your intended audience?

No.

Just having a website, even if it's an incredible website, isn't enough. The audience you want has to be able to find it. The best way for them to find any product or service online is through the search engines.

SEO is a set of techniques used to improve your chances of being found within the search engines when users go to find a product or service you offer. It goes hand in hand with content marketing, social marketing, and email marketing, all effective ways of building an audience and your bottom line.

Many business owners throw their hands up at this point for many reasons. They don't understand what SEO is and expect immediate results when they try it. For that reason, they don't think they have time to be on social media platforms 24/7 to drum up business. They may know a little about how email marketing basically works but not all of the details.

Business owners should understand that marketing strategies are the key to successful online business and they include the following.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is all about increasing your business website's visibility on the search engines. It includes a number of components from creative to technical in building awareness of your site on Google, Bing, and more. Yes, it requires knowing what the search engines expect from your website from readability to structure. Yet in making the website easier to use and understand for the search engines, you're doing the same thing for potential visitors.

The more traffic you receive, the greater the number of conversions. It should be understood that SEO techniques don't work overnight but over a period of time. When it's done correctly, it's absolutely worth any invested time and resources.

Mobile Marketing

More than half of all search engine queries are made on mobile devices and that number is only expected to increase. With more than half of your intended audience on mobile devices, it then becomes vital to ensure your planned website will be formatted for mobile devices.

Often called "responsive website design", mobile optimization means your website looks good and functions well across all devices. Being optimized for mobile is also crucial to your SEO efforts. As of Google's July 2018 update, they switched from rewarding websites optimized for mobile with better rankings to penalizing any site that's not optimized for such. Since Google is the largest search engine on the internet, mobile optimization becomes even more crucial.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the consistent use of fresh, relevant content of value to your intended audience. It's the online creation and sharing of content like blogs, social media posts, video, and more that offers value to your audience without being an advertisement.

Using our pool cue website example, you might offer a blog on your website. Include articles about proper care and storage of cues, pool techniques, troubleshooting, and more. The idea is to offer content that stimulates an interest.  All the while, without being too obvious that you want them to buy them from you.

The content used for this type of marketing gives them a reason to return to your website even if they don't always intend to buy something with each visit. The search engines love such content. This technique allows you to build a reputation as an authority in your given area of interest.

Social Media Marketing

While it's not the overnight success tool some claim, social media marketing has great potential in cultivating an audience on social media. Content is also important here. If you employ content marketing, you already have what you need.  It can be modified to suit the individual platform. There's a learning curve here in understanding each venue and its rules. The great opportunity to increase your brand visibility, reputation, and traffic will be more than worth the time spent.

Email Marketing

Many think of email marketing as old marketing news but it's a very effective and inexpensive method to use. You collect subscribers from your website and social media platforms.  You use them to send simple mailings to remind people about your website and what it has to offer. It's an invaluable tool to use if you have a sale or special offer. You want to quickly inform your targets.

In Conclusion

Unless there's a compelling reason why you don't need more business, developing a website is vital for your business. Your website represents you online and it's important to present the best site you possibly can.

There's a lot of information here to consider but help is available if needed. Business owners with any questions or who need help on any part of their quest to build a powerful website can contact our team at Coastline Marketing Group. We offer a wide range of digital marketing solutions that can help position your business for success.

 

phil fisk digital marketing consultant

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.
SCORE Monterey Bay Chapter Chair


Communicate with Your Customers

How To Properly Communicate With Your Customers

Knowing how to communicate with customers properly is important to the success of any business. Customers are the lifeblood of any business enterprise. Communicating with them the right way can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your conversations. About 70% of top business executives list effective communication as one of the top three keys to business success. Being clear, polite and diplomatic when speaking with customers increases the chances they will be satisfied with your interaction.

Marketing Your Company Or Brand

Building a better mousetrap is not enough to guarantee success. You must be able to let consumers know your product exists, what it does, how it can help them and how they can get it. Properly communicating this to consumers requires choosing the right words. Images should clearly describe your product and your message placed within the right media to reach your target market. This is a very important step in establishing proper communication with your customers. You have to use easy to understand terms. They should appeal to your target audience and put your message on media where they are most likely to see it.

Direct Personalized Communication

Communicating directly with your customers using personalized messages is among the most effective ways to engage them and get their business. Research shows 90% of customers want and expect businesses to respond to their questions and address their concerns personally and in a timely manner. Companies that do so using social media and other forms of direct communications improve their chances of keeping those customers and attracting new ones. Failure to directly communicate with consumers on their favorite medium can cause up to 80% of businesses to fail.

Personalizing Mass Communications

Providing personalized service takes time. Providing personalized service to and communicating with a customer base that's large enough to make your business profitable can be challenging. But it's possible.  Give each customer a personalized experience while increasing your customer base and your profitability through the effective use of social media as well as mobile communication. Even small and medium-sized businesses can do this and remain well within their marketing budgets.

Using mobile communication devices and social media gives your company the opportunity to connect with and engage your customers any time of the day or night. The key is to personalize the communications so they won't be quickly dismissed as spam. You must identify the social media platform your customers frequent and use photos, special offers or any other format you know will attract their attention. This will enable you to be more effective. By opening and maintaining the lines of communications with them, you'll begin to gain their trust and develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

Get Third-Party Help

Connecting with customers through mobile devices and the wide variety of social media platforms available can be a complex process. It often requires people with a specific set of skills. While some companies may have one or two people on staff with the necessary skills to run a social media campaign, it often means taking them away from their primary jobs. Instead, it's usually faster and more cost-effective to hire a third-party agency that specializes in and has experience with communicating with targeted customers. They can usually be much more successful in opening lines of communications with customers.

Communicating With Customers Effectively

Once you have opened the lines of communication between your business and your customers, it's important to know how to communicate with them effectively. It will make your relationship with them stronger and increase your sales. You may communicate with your customers via telephone, email, social media, text, instant messaging or any other platform. It's essential to make sure your message is properly crafted and has the right vocabulary, tenor, tone and flow to make your communications most impactful.

There are a number of elements for effective communication that can help to maximize the results you get.

Active Listening

Being a good listener is vital for effective communication in person and in writing. For that reason, be sure to focus on what your customer has to say before formulating your response. Using certain active listening phrases, eye contact and the proper body language lets your customer know you are paying attention. When they have made their statement, briefly repeat it in your own words to let them know you understood their point before you respond. This lets them know their message was important to you.  It gives them the opportunity to clarify any part of their message they feel you misunderstood and improves communication.

Don't Interrupt The Customer

When a customer takes the time to communicate with you in person or online, give them the opportunity to finish their statements before you respond. Interrupting customers often upsets them and makes them feel rushed and disrespected. As a result, this limits effective communication. Allowing the customer to complete the point they're trying to make demonstrates respect and lets the customer know you value their input and point of view. This helps develop trust and understanding.  It can help strengthen your relationship with the customer and make them more open to further communication.

Use Easy-To-Understand Words

When communicating with clients, it's essential to use terms you know they can easily understand. Using complex terms and industry jargon can confuse some customers.  It may make them less likely to purchase your products or services. That's why the information in ads designed to reach a mass market is usually written at an 8th-grade level. This ensures as many people as possible will understand the message and understand what the business, brand, product or service has to offer. As a result, more people will be willing to spend their money on it.

Use Clear, Complete Wording

The proliferation of texting and social media has lead to the creation of many popular new terms and acronyms like BTW, TTYL and OMG. These are language shortcuts. Never use them when communicating with your customers electronically or otherwise. While they may be acceptable among friends, they can cause communication confusion and make your company look unprofessional. Therefore, always communicate in clear, complete words and phrases. While those language shortcuts may seem cool and hip among friends, they can alienate many customers and make your company lose money.

Be Courteous

Many consumers are sensitive and easily offended. Making sure you are courteous when communicating with them can help to make them feel respected. Taking the time to be polite and professional with every customer will help to improve the image people have of your company. Many customers bemoan the fact that people no longer say 'please' and 'thanks'. Therefore, you should make a point to do this in all your company's written and verbal communications. This is one element of the high-quality customer service people want. Being polite and courteous in your communications won't cost you anything, but it can help to generate some additional income.

Use Positive Statements

Positive statements resonate with customers and have a direct impact on their impression of a company. Because consumers want to know how a business, brand, product or service can help them. Simply using positive phrasing in your written or spoken statements can make a customer want to do business with you. Negative statements can make customers defensive and resistant. This creates roadblocks to sales. Your goal must be to use words that create a positive mindset and keep the communication flowing smoothly.

Find Out The Customers Preferred Communication Method

Asking the customer which method of communication they prefer you use to reach them, can improve two-way communication significantly. It helps you understand the most effective way to send them offers and other important information. It also increases the likelihood they will respond to your messages. Asking a customer their preferred communication method shows your desire to please them.  Hence, it can pay great dividends in your business dealings with them.

A Variety Of Strategies

There are a large number of strategies businesses can use to communicate with and engage customers. An agency that specializes in the marketing business, brands, products, and services to targeted consumers can help you determine which marketing strategy is most advantageous for your company. They can create social media and direct email marketing campaigns. These can work together or separately to improve your communications with the customers in your target market. Plus, they can show you how to automate the process without turning your business into a faceless, nameless entity. These third-party companies can also help you optimize your branding and marketing efforts.

Learning to communicate with your customers effectively has a direct impact on your bottom line. Therefore, if your communications are warm, welcoming, easy to understand and polite, you improve the odds customers will respond positively to it and do business with you. Hiring an experienced marketing company to help you better connect to and communicate with your target market can also make a big difference. The ultimate goal is to use proper communication methods to build a mutually beneficial relationship with your customers.


5 Great Lead Magnet Ideas for Financial Advisors

Five Great Lead Magnet Ideas for Financial Advisors

When it comes to selling financial services, your contact database is your most powerful tool. Clients sometimes walk into your office ready to invest, but your leads are usually not ready to buy your services when you first contact them. You need to nurture your leads, establish yourself as an expert, and keep them on the line until they are ready to choose you as their financial advisor.

But how do you get leads into your database in the first place? Use a simple and effective strategy: Offer lead magnets that entice clients into giving out their contact information.

Don't know what a lead magnet is? You see them all the time. They are regularly posted to social media sites with snazzy taglines like "Download Our Free Report." Creating lead magnets is both easy and effective.

What Is a Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet consists of a free piece of content that entices members of a target audience into giving out their contact information to see it. Typically, when offering a lead magnet, a marketer will ask for an email address and use it to cultivate clients with an email campaign, such as a newsletter. If the content looks juicy enough, lead magnets can be offered for more detailed information like names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Of course, a financial advisor will approach lead generation a bit differently than most marketers. Yet the key elements of successful lead magnets remain the same no matter what product you're selling. So what are the key elements of a successful lead magnet?

 

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Elements of a Successful Lead Magnet

Some lead magnets work better than others. While many lead magnets meet with raging success, others flop. The most successful lead magnets take advantage of the following seven elements:

Targeting

A lead magnet should target a specific group of people. It should offer a specific solution for a specific problem. For example, a list of the top ten most popular investments isn't going to cut it. It's too vague. Instead, you want titles like:

  • "Keeping Your 401K Tax Free When You Change Jobs"
  • "Tax Breaks for New Homeowners"
  • "Getting the Maximum Social Security Benefit"
  • "Smart Investments for New Investors"
  • "How to Retire in Ten Years"

You should choose a lead magnet that attracts the clients you want by offering them results that they seek. The more focused, the better. More focused lead magnets = more leads.

A Silver Bullet

Everyone seeks the magic key that will give them a big boost in life. Understand what your target audience's needs and figure out that one thing they are looking for that will make a big impact. Popular silver bullets include methods for avoiding taxes, ways of getting more money in retirement, or how to score savings on big-ticket items like a home. State the one big solution in your lead magnet's title. A strong, clear focus will be more effective than a swiss army knife approach.

Future Projection

Figure out what your target market really wants. Articles and surveys can help, but conducting some in-person interviews remains one of the best ways to really get in touch with your client demographic. Look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of their positions. In your lead magnet, help your audience understand the link between what they want and what you're offering.

An Immediate Reward

Signing up for your lead magnet should be completely painless. The signup should require as little time and mental energy as possible. The lead magnet should promise something that your target market wants, actually delivering it, immediately. The lead shouldn't have to spend much time to view the content. Long videos, books, and extensive reports do not make good lead magnets. Strive to deliver instant gratification. Leave your leads wanting more.

Authority

Your lead magnet should illustrate you as an expert in your field. It should position you as an authority. Focus on your client, but do mention your talents and accomplishments. Talk yourself up using simple, plain language. Mention specifically how you can help with problems that your new lead likely faces. Use a little subtlety but be overt about your expertise. For example, if you're using a short course as a lead magnet, mention that you are the instructor of the course and give your credentials.

Value

If your lead magnet looks great on the surface but the content fails to stack up to the lead's expectations, it won't be effective. While it may create many leads, a worthless lead magnet will not create many conversions. Your lead magnet should produce actual benefits for your client. This will be a great chance to make a good first impression, and the best way to do that is to follow through by delivering something truly useful to your new lead.

Attractiveness

No matter how ground-shaking your report is, if it doesn't look valuable, it's not going to convince many people to give you their contact information. The lead magnet's presentation should be honed by a professional. You'll give the content away for free, but it should look like something that people would want to pay for.

Lead Magnet Ideas

So what types of lead magnets actually work? Here are five types of lead magnets that can be especially valuable for financial advisors:

Financial Calculators

Help your customers calculate savings, return on investment, payment streams, or other benefits that you can provide. What better way is there to capture targeted leads than to present prospects with a financial calculator designed to help them calculate the benefits of your services?

Reports

As a financial advisor, you can easily come up with a diverse array of reports. You might try something like "Maximizing Retirement Benefits for Union Electricians" or "Small Business Owners: Analysts Like These Four REITs." You could even offer a report on the value of your services. Remember to keep the report short; while an ebook download might entice some prospects, you don't want to overwhelm leads with too much information. Leave them wanting more.

Handouts

Handouts are a different breed of lead magnet than reports. A handout can take many forms such as cheatsheet, an infographic, or a diagram. Handouts should be short, typically a single page. Checklists make great handouts. Resource lists are also good. You could even put together a detailed infographic on historical risk in different asset classes or a chart showing why investors shouldn't try to pick stocks.

Quizzes

Quizzes are very popular and can even go viral on social media. A quiz should be lighthearted and fun but should also tell people something that they want to know. For example, you could put together a short assessment on risk management aptitude, classifying people from butterfly to daredevil. Quizzes can also help you gain valuable insight into your clients' needs, both as groups and as individuals.

Videos

Videos have a key advantage over many other types of lead magnets: they don't take much mental energy to consume. Creating quality video content is a lot of work, but it should be easy enough for you to create a short video course. While you can offer long classes packed full of useful information, longer courses are better saved for the lead nurturing phase. A simple two-part course can draw in a lot of leads.

Conclusion

There is far more to be said about lead magnets. The very best lead magnets will not only bring in the leads targeted by your marketing campaign; excellent lead magnets will convince new prospects to show your lead magnet to other people.

Your client database is your most valuable tool for reaching potential clients. Along with a strong promotional campaign and effective lead nurturing, lead magnets are powerful devices for growing your database and expanding your business as a financial advisor.

 

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5 Great Lead Magnet Ideas For Attorneys

5 Great Lead Magnet Ideas for Attorneys

In today’s digital marketing age, one of the best ways to acquire and communicate with clients is through online digital marketing outlets. More specifically, with email.  As an attorney, we can accomplish a lot through the use of email. Building an email list is a critical component for reaching a targeted audience and engaging with them on a long-term basis. Not only can you easily capture their attention through multiple online platforms, but you can also significantly expand your reach as well.

However, before you can participate in a marketing strategy that involves emails, you first must capture and build an email list. This often takes place over time and with strategic and careful thought based on your industry. How do we go about accomplishing this? Attorneys, or their marketing experts, must find a way to get them to share their email address with you. The most popular strategy: sharing something of value with the user that requires the input of their email address and other contact information.

Once you have captured their email address, it's a lot easier to stay connected with them.

By offering a lead magnet that subscribers find of value, attorneys can provide their target audience with valuable information that can point them in the right direction as it relates to a wide array of legal areas.

This approach opens up the door to a series of opportunities whereby you can now communicate with these potential clients at will. This is because your targeted audience not only sees you as the expert, but they also see your company as a law firm they can trust.

What Is A Lead Magnet

If you are not 100% certain as to what a lead magnet is, you may have seen them in the past without realizing it. It is basically a free offer that prompts members from a targeted audience to opt in to a particular site by way of an offer. It is usually presented in big bold headlines such as:

“Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter”

“Download our new how to guide”

“Learn about the six steps to protecting your assets”

A lead magnet is something of value that is offered for free and related to your area of expertise.

Normally, it would have a cost value associated with it if it was available for sale. It is also a way for you to display your expertise while building credibility.  Sending valuable, free information via email, is a great way to build and sustain relationships with your target audience.

Lead magnets are part of an overall marketing campaign developed specifically to generate leads.  They result in a higher conversion rate than you would have received without one. The more leads you generate, the more potential conversions you will have. Most campaigns are also designed to better engage your customers with your law firm. This further stimulates your conversion rate.

As it relates to generating leads for attorneys, most people are in a dire state. They are in need of legal counseling, guidance and direction, or some other form of expert legal services. Any information provided in this area can be great resource. It can provide your targeted audience assistance with their proposed legal issues. It’s a great way to offer some assistance and or a solution to their legal issues while nurturing the relationship.

Below are five of the most effective lead generation ideas that work well across multiple disciplines.

What Makes a Great Lead Magnet

You may be wondering what type of lead you should consider using to reach out to your targeted audience. Especially since not all lead magnets perform in the same manner. In fact, some of them yield very poor results. This is why it is important to have marketing specialists assist you with your efforts. It also helps you avoid making poor marketing launches.

The most successful lead magnets consists of the following areas:

I. A great offer that your audience considers valuable.

II. A clear message that's easy to understand almost instantly

III. Well developed content that delivers on its promise without fail

With that being said, the following are the five top lead magnet ideas.

1. Webinars

Webinars are a great way to allow your potential customers to spend some time with you before engaging with you for legal services. Based on your area of specialty, webinars are a great way to hone in on some of the pain points that your target audience may be experiencing.

For example, if your law practice offers estate planning services, you can offer the following:

  • A webinar about the advantages and disadvantages of estate planning and show your audience why estate planning is necessary.
  • Show them the consequences of what would happen without having an estate plan in place.

This sets the stage for your potential customers to either attempt to perform the service themselves, or request services from a qualified Legal Professional. Since most people would rather not prepare a will themselves, this is where your legal services would come in. You can then offer them an additional slate of the other legal services associated with estate planning.

2. Check Lists

A checklist is a great way to provide potential customers with bite-sized bits of information in a very organized and succinct manner. It's a quick and easy way to read through a series of activities that need to take place in a certain order. A sample could include how to best prepare to meet with an attorney about estate planning, or how to best protect your assets.

Whatever your area of speciality, you can create a checklist that that can streamline the legal process in a way that makes it easier for your client to prepare to meet with you and complete the steps involved with their legal situation.

3. Templates

Because the internet makes so many forms and templates available online, this will be a great opportunity for you to do the same. This is accomplished by creating a template that your specific target audience will likely use. A template of a contract is a good option. It would make a great, and easy to follow, fill in the blanks form. As an attorney, you can also create templates of types of documents as well.

4. Your Legal How to Guide

One of the advantages of putting together a legal how to guide is that it has your personal and professional experience, along with your knowledge base included in the guide. It's a great way for individuals to learn more about a specific area that has legal implications.

Because the guide will be written by a qualified attorney, it will carry a lot of weight and build trust and credibility.

5. Industry Reports

Creating industry reports are great for the user to become more knowledgeable about a particular issue or the industry as a whole.

For example, if you are representing clients who've suffered a job related illness, they would want to be updated regarding any changes. More specifically, if the victim has suffered an illness due to corporate negligence, an industry report would be of value to this targeted audience.

To conclude, it's important to develop digital marketing strategies to attract your targeted audience.  It's of equal importance to remain relevant in today’s competitive marketplace. Although the five lead magnet ideas have been proven in the past, these and others can be helpful to implement into their lead generation strategies. Performing the proper research for more lead magnet ideas that directly impact your specific niche will prove to drum up more ongoing leads as you continue to implement and maintain lead generation systems.

Additionally, a lead generation system combined with promotional efforts, a system to offer nurturing content, and a follow up system will also prove to continue to build your customer base for many years to come.