5 Reasons to Consider WordPress for Your New Website

There are plenty of great options for Content Management Systems on the market; over the years, I’ve used expensive technology like Sitefinity and Drupal, as well as fully customized sites that were built in a techy’s basement (hi Tom!).

My favorite, by far, is WordPress, the open-source CMS that gives bloggers and brands the ability to create customizable, adaptable, scalable websites without needing to be a member of the Geeks R’ Us club.

And the price is right – you can have a great looking WordPress website that does all the things you want it to do without taking out a loan or selling a kidney. Something like Sitefinity, on the other hand, can cost upwards of six figures to develop and maintain.

So, here are the 5 reasons you should consider WordPress for your new website.

Mobile Responsive

Mobile-friendly-websitesFor the first time ever, people are searching the web more from their smartphones and tablets than on computers. If your website looks horrible on mobile, or is hard to navigate, you could turn off a potential customer or client. An even bigger issue is turning off the search engines that give preferential treatment to mobile-friendly sites.

Most WordPress themes are mobile responsive, which means they adapt to the aspect ratio of a visitor’s device. Whether a visitor is on an iPhone, an Android tablet, or a laptop, the user experience will remain consistent in its form and function.

Adaptable

I’m building a new website for a client whose old website was build by another vendor just two years ago. The CMS was so locked down, that I couldn’t even add pages or adjust the navigation without spending days in HTML files. WordPress themes, and its plugins, are constantly upgrading to current technologies, so in a sense, your website will grow with you.

Scalability

Not sure how much custom stuff you want to throw into your new website? Start small and simple, as your business grows, your website can too. The CMS is easy to use; after a short tutorial, most of my clients don’t need to pay me to update content. They do it themselves.

SEO & Analytics Friendly

Unlike sites built on flimsy drag-and-drop platforms like Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace, search engines like WordPress sites (if they’re built properly). The so-called DIY sites mentioned above have horrible SEO and Analytics integrations. They’re dirt cheap for a reason.

Community Support

There is an active WordPress community that is eager to offer free advice if you don’t know how to do something on your own. Search for help on WordPress in general, or theme specific, and someone – somewhere – has the answer.

 

 

4 Tests: Mobile Friendly Websites

Last April, internet marketing strategists freaked out when Google announced a new search algorithm that would reward mobile friendly websites with higher search rankings. Since search from smartphones and tablets is on the rise, it makes sense that Google would reward sites that embrace mobile users, right?

The so-called Mobilegeddon algorithm rolled out in May 2015, and by June, marketing managers across the globe were busy crunching the numbers.In a study published by SearchEngineLand.com, non-mobile friendly sites on the first page had dropped by as much as 21%.

Google Search Console LogoGoogle is sending a clear message: Mobile is the wave of the future, and those who don’t adapt, will be swept out to sea. Every search algorithm update moving forward will grant more favor to mobile friendly sites. Bing and Yahoo are following in their big brother’s footsteps.

In 2015, for the first time ever, search from smartphones and tablets exceeded personal computers. That gap will widen as phones and tablets get faster and easier to use on the go. Remember 3G? I don’t either.

4 Ways to Test Your Mobile Success

  1. Create a Google Search Console account (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). Google will ask you to copy and paste a snippet of code on to your website to verify that you own it. It will take up to a week for Google to crawl your site and complete the verification process. When it does, click on the “Mobile Usability” link. There, you will find Google’s suggestions for improving your mobile user experience.
  2. Grab your mobile phone and go to your website. Do you have to zoom way in to read the text? When you zoom in, does part of the website move off the screen? Are you able to easily tap call-to-action buttons? Repeat that process on a tablet. If you’re annoyed by how hard it is to navigate, remember, that’s how your customers feel.
  3. Visit your Google Analytics account. On the left side, under “Audience”, click “Mobile” and from there, you can see the percentage of visitors from traditional computers vs. mobile. You can drill down even further to see the specific devices your audience uses – iPhone vs. Android, etc.
  4. In your Google Analytics account, look at bounce rates for desktop vs. mobile users. If your bounce rate is higher for mobile users, that’s a red flag that they are having a hard time using your website. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your website and immediately “bounce” back to Google to refine their searches. Bounce rate is a major factor in Google deciding whether or not your website shows up in search.

 

5 Tips for 1 Page Marketing Plans

During a recent social media workshop, I asked the audience to raise their hands if they had a marketing plan – a few people timidly obliged, but an overwhelming majority was like – yeah, right!

My message to them: It’s OK.

Small business owners wear many hats. There are phones to answer, payroll to complete, orders to fulfill, and that’s just before breakfast. You don’t need a 10-page marketing plan with colorful diagrams and fancy graphics – start by jotting a few ideas on paper and go from there.

Here are my 5 Tips for a One-Page Online Marketing Plan

  1. Every marketing plan should start by identifying a target audience, knowing where that audience spends time online, and developing strategies to reach them. Channels to reach targeted audiences include Pay Per Click advertising, Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, and Video Marketing.
  2. Define what you want customers to do. Are you looking for more website referral submissions? More phone calls? More sales? Make sure your website has landing pages that make it easy for visitors to complete your desired outcomes. Make referral forms easy to use; phone numbers easy to find; and checkouts easy to complete.
  3. Set a budget. How much are you willing to spend?
  4. Know your cost of customer acquisition. If you’re going to spend $1,000 on Facebook ads, research how far that budget will go, how much it will cost per click, and realistic conversion rates. Your average transaction value should be twice the amount of your customer acquisition cost. If it costs $500 to acquire a new customer/client, you should make at least $1,000 on that transaction.
  5. Get free help. Many communities have SCORE counselors (Service Corps of Retired Entrepreneurs), who will help you develop business and marketing plans. For free. Call your local chamber of commerce to find out more.

Social Media Workshop: Hosted By Yours Truly

By Chad D. Lerch | Owner, Digi Marketing Pros

Last week, I had the privilege of hosting a social media workshop for 20+ business owners and marketing managers in Grand Haven. The topic: advertising on social media. Speaking in public terrifies me, but I survived, and hope the Grand Haven chamber of commerce invites me back to lead another fruitful discussion about internet marketing.

Chad LerchI talked up the advantages of social media advertising: Micro-targeting, increase brand ID, reach audiences quickly, and how to use Key Performance Indicators to measure successes.

In all the impressive lingo, analysis of the latest trends, and comparing Facebook audience behavior vs. Twitter, I failed to communicate the heart of it – what makes social media advertising so powerful.

Fifteen ago, there were few opportunities for small businesses to take marketing messages direct to targeted audiences. You either paid through the nostrils for radio, TV, or newspaper ads without really knowing who you were reaching or how they were reacting to it; or begged a local reporter to turn your burning press release into a story for the “masses”.

The beauty of paid social media advertising is that you can reach people in a specific geographic area, by age, gender, relationship status, education level, where they went to college, the TV shows they like, the books they’ve read, all the things they like or dislike.

We tell Facebook EVERYTHING about us. Everything an advertiser needs to know is right in your profile and in your posts. Facebook – and other social networks, but mostly Facebook – wisely use this information to offer advertisers targeted consumers on silver platters. Marketers can talk directly to consumers and know whether they’re clicking the ads, commenting on them, or ignoring them. You can boost a post, or place a side column ad, for $20 or $40, and reach the right people, right now.

The other day, a friend on Facebook was raving about the show The Blacklist, and in passing, I mentioned that “James Spader is cool!” Two minutes later, Facebook served up a promoted post asking me to like the James Spader fan page.

C’mon, you gotta admit that’s almost as cool as James Spader himself!

Here are my slides from the presentation – tell me what you think.

Are You Creeped Out By Remarketing?

By Chad D. Lerch | Owner, Digi Marketing Pros

So I’m at lunch with two friends, both of whom are exceptionally bright and accomplished print marketers, when the topic of internet remarketing comes up.

“That’s just creepy,” one friend said. “I don’t like that at all.”

A few minutes later, he tells us about a great deal that lead him to buy a new Smartphone from Verizon.Google-Remarketing-Target-Ad

“I was on their website one day and about a week later, an ad for Verizon just pops up while I’m surfing the web. It was a great offer I couldn’t pass up.”

Without realizing it, he had fallen for a remarketing campaign.

My friend’s story sums up internet remarketing—customers visit websites that have cookies enabled, allowing marketers to follow their crumb trails around the ’net.

At strategic times and on sites that are in the Google network, targeted ads feature products consumers had viewed during previous visits. Effective ads encourage them to come back, and offer an attractive incentive to make a purchase.

You can also retarget people who visited your homepage with ads that keep your brand fresh in their minds, the options are pretty amazing. You can run text ads, display ads, and even video ads on YouTube.

This doesn’t just work for e-commerce websites. It’s effective for websites of all types—consultants, doctors, fabrication shops, you name it.

So I ask you: Is remarketing, also known as retargeting, creepy? Have you made a purchase after seeing a convincing remarketing campaign?

Leave a comment in this blog post and tell us what you think about remarketing. We’d love to hear from you.

Social Media Marketing: Free Lunch is Over

By Chad D. Lerch | Owner, Digi Marketing Pros

The social media landscape changes at warp speed — if you don’t have someone keeping tabs, you could lose your competitive edge.

Facebook-Best-Practices-For-BusinessIt’s insane how Facebook and Twitter tweak their algorithms that determine what they think users want to see. After all, if you don’t like the experience, you might socialize elsewhere.

Social media managers recently discovered the free lunch on Facebook was over. Impressions of posts from businesses have dropped dramatically across the board, forcing many brands to pay for “promoted posts”. It’s a smart move on Facebook’s part, its stock is at an all-time high. But for businesses, it’s created quite the conundrum.

So, what do you do in the midst of this madness? Here are a few tips:

Quality over quantity
Create content your audience will want to consume: offer free advice, run promotional product giveaways, and incentivize traffic to your Facebook page (as opposed to people seeing your posts in their feeds). Promote your your content across multiple marketing channels — Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and your blog. If you’re not on Google Plus, you should check it out.

It’s not about you
An industry standard is 1 in 7 social media posts should be promotions, or hard sells. Use your social pages to engage with groups or individuals who are likely to purchase what you’re selling. Instead of talking about yourself, talk about them. Compliment their posts and reTweet, share, or pin great content that is generated by those who you want to reach.

Know your audience
Take the time to review your page stats. On Facebook, for example, free reports break down your audience by gender, age, and geographic locations. Is your audience overwhelmingly on the West Coast? Don’t post at 8 am ET. Is your audience overwhelmingly grandparents? Don’t use hipster slang. Are your followers mostly women? Lay off the football analogies.

Install social icons on your website
I recommend using “like” and “follow” icons for business websites as opposed to icons that click through to your social pages. This allows visitors to like a social page without leaving your site. It also keeps the visitor’s focus on the point-of-purchase process without losing them on the social side. It’s a win-win.

Keep it short
Adrianne Adelle, a graphic designer, artist, photographer, and Pinterest expert, says social media managers should be clear and concise when posting. Keep it short. Keep it simple. She encourages content creators to make sure the user experience is positive. Confirm that your links click through to the intended landing page.

Respond promptly
Social media is all about nurturing brand ambassadors and spreading the word about what makes your brand irresistible. If someone posts a question to your Facebook, respond promptly and politely (even if they are not nice). This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often corporate Facebook pages are not monitored and questions go unanswered. Every conversation is an opening for a sale or up-sale.

Nicolas Cage, Best Buy, and Monster Headaches

By Chad D. Lerch | Owner, Digi Marketing Pros

First impressions are so important – especially for business websites.

I chuckle when I think about a scene in the 1995 flick Leaving Las Vegas — you know, where Nicolas Cage’s character, an over-the-top alcoholic, blissfully fills his shopping cart at a liquor store.

nicolas-cageIt’s a manic adult version of a kid in a candy store. He dances and spins as he helps himself to one of everything higher than 80 proof.

I’d like to go on a binge like that at an electronics store. I have a thing for cameras. Expensive ones. Canon and Nikon cameras are my Johnny Walker Blue and Grey Goose.

But I recently had a sobering electronics excursion. Correction: Three sobering experiences at three separate Best Buy stores, all in the span of a month.

I was anxious to get my hands on the new Canon 70D, a prosumer DSLR, as online reviews raved about the stunning 1080p video capture with manual focus. I picked up the display unit and discovered it didn’t work.

Discouraged but not yet annoyed, I skipped across the aisle to look at the Canon Vixia G20, a $1,200 video camera that’s been on my wish list for more than a year.

It didn’t work.

I had the same experience at a second Best Buy a few days later.

Surely things would be better at a bigger Best Buy store in South Bend, Indiana. No such luck. Plus, I almost passed out when I saw a $3,300 Canon 5D body with no lens and finger smudges on the internal mirror.

Oh, the horror.

So, you’re probably thinking: Chad, this is an internet marketing blog. What does this have to do with internet marketing?

As marketing experts, we have to pay attention to the big things on our clients’ websites — without overlooking the little things, too.

We recommend that everyone with a business website does a detailed sweep for problems every week. Do all the links work? Do they click through to the correct pages? How’s your spelling and grammar? Are your calls-to-action compelling? Does your website live up to the expectations set forth in your advertising?

If your users have a bad experience on your website, you might end up needing a drink.

Hey, that reminds me. Have you ever seen Leaving Las Vegas? There’s this great scene where Nicolas Cage’s character…

SEO: Don’t Be That Guy

By Chad D. Lerch | Owner, Digi Marketing Pros

I hear this periodically when I reach out to a business that needs search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, and more engaging website content.

“We have someone who handles our website.”

The comment usually comes from a well-intentioned gatekeeper and not the decision maker. I refrain from saying the website “stinks” and opt for the high road; I let the person know they are missing the chance to reach new customers, and ask for an appointment with the owner.

There are business owners who have websites because so-and-so told them they need one. So they launch obligatory websites and let ‘em sit idle.

Don’t be that guy. He’s getting left behind.

Your website is the front door to your business. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the new Main Street. New customers are using the web to find dentists, chiropractors, dog groomers, coffee shops, accountants, churches, on and on…

Don’t just have a website. Have an exceptional website that ranks on the first page for all the search terms people use to find businesses in your space.

I thought it would be a good time to open the mailbag and answer a few internet marketing questions:

Where should I start with my SEO?
Make a list of all the products and services that make you money. Do those words appear on your website? Are they in your meta descriptions and headline tags?

Most importantly, do the money making terms on your list match the search terms potential customers use to find your site? It’s easy to find out. Set up a free Google Webmaster Tools account and link it to your website. After a few weeks of collecting data, start your comparison.

What Are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions are embedded in your HTML code; they tell Google, Yahoo, and Bing what each web page is all about. Meta descriptions also show up in search results and help convince searchers to visit your site. So don’t just write meta descriptions for web crawlers. This is a good place to tell customers what separates you from your competitors. It’s also a good place to work in a few search terms.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?
Pay-per-click advertising, also known as sponsored links, gives clients prime real estate on search result pages (usually on the top and along the side of the page). To get listed, you bid on keywords against your competitors. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. SEO can take time to improve your organic search rankings. PPC ads can move you to the front page right now, if your bid is right.