We all know it’s smarter to spend a little bit of money today if it means getting a big return or avoiding a hefty bill tomorrow. Unfortunately, we run across a lot of business owners and marketing managers who aren’t making the smart, small investments they should be in their websites. As a result they are missing out on big marketing gains and paying for services or upgrades they shouldn’t need.
Our philosophy has always been built on value and customer care. We like to earn every penny that comes to us, and for our clients to know that we are doing everything we can to help stretch their budgets.
In this short guide we are going to lay out nine smart investments you should consider for your business website. None of them will put a big dent in your budget. In fact, many are so small you might not even notice that you’re paying for them. But even though the expenses might be tiny, the effects certainly won’t be. They can make your business more visible, help you keep your content safe, and (most importantly) make you more profitable.
Let’s look at the nine tools and services you can’t afford to go without…
#1 Regular Website Audits
You wouldn’t drive a car or truck for years on end without changing the oil or having the engine checked, so why would you leave your website running 24/7/365 without a second thought?
A website audit is like a medical checkup for your HTML and content management system. It involves having a web design professional look beneath your layout to examine your coding and test things like page loading speeds, search engine visibility, and site security.
The most important thing about a good website audit is that it helps you identify issues or weaknesses before they become bona fide problems. You’ll find out if your pages have dead ends, malfunctioning plug-ins, or images that won’t display correctly in certain browsers (as examples). Then, you can have these issues resolved before customers discover them and they affect your business.
A good web design team will include regular auditing as part of your ongoing service. For little or no cost, they’ll help you spot small things so you don’t end up losing customers because of technical problems on your pages, or worse, replacing your entire website because an issue was overlooked for too long.
#2 Premium Web Hosting
Do you know where your website is hosted? If you don’t, or simply chose the cheapest option when your site was designed, your bottom-line might be suffering as a result.
Far too many business owners opt for bargain-basement shared hosting plans simply because they don’t know what’s at stake. As a result, their websites are saved on older servers that are shared with hundreds of other websites – including online casinos and adult websites that may send spam or become infected with malware.
For as little as one dollar per day, these same websites could be moved to faster and newer servers, allowing customers (and especially mobile users) to see their content faster and more reliably. That means more page visits, better search positioning, and fewer missed opportunities to make a sale. It’s a way to turn a weakness into a competitive strength.
Getting access to premium web hosting costs you very little on a monthly basis while giving you access to better website performance and improved website security. That makes it one of the best dollar-for-dollar investments you can make in your online marketing strategy.
#3 Reputation Management Software
Numerous surveys – including one conducted by Forbes magazine – concluded that more than 9 out of every 10 first-time buyers will read online reviews before visiting a new business and spending any money. That means feedback from previous customers can make or break your paycheck.
Unfortunately, many small business owners and managers don’t know what kinds of reviews people have been leaving for them. They might not even be aware that there are fraudulent reviews left by competitors, or pieces of feedback meant for other businesses, that are associated with their profiles on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other sites.
We recommend all small businesses take advantage of review management software. It costs very little to set up, and can be used in a number of important ways. It can alert you when someone has left a new review about your business. It can also help you to solicit reviews from satisfied customers, and even to ensure your profiles stay up to date so buyers can find your company on multiple websites.
You can take advantage of our online reputation management software for just a few dollars per month. That’s a very inexpensive way to look out for your company’s good name.
#4 Address and Directory Listings
More and more customers are looking for local businesses on Google and other search engines. However, they won’t be able to find yours if details like your business name, address, and phone number are outdated or incorrect.
These issues pop up more frequently than you might think. In some cases, locations or business details have changed. Or, sometimes different companies may be mistaken for one another. The end result is that the affected listings essentially disappear from Google because the search engine can’t verify the information it has as being correct.
There is a very simple and inexpensive solution to this problem. In most cases, you can use the same software that monitors online reviews to keep your listings with local and industry business directories up to date. If an inaccuracy is detected or something about your company changes it will make the corrections automatically, right away.
Using this type of service is invaluable for a couple of reasons. First, it ensures that small mistakes don’t prevent your website from appearing on Google or showing up in local business online listings. And second, it makes it easier for real-life buyers to find and contact you with ease.
#5 PPC Account Management
It’s very easy to set up pay-per-click (PPC) accounts with services like Google, Facebook, and Waze. Unfortunately, the mistakes most new marketers make end up being incredibly expensive.
PPC advertising looks deceptively simple when you’re getting started. The menus and tools are very intuitive, but the deeper account and campaign setup features aren’t as straightforward. As a result, it is very easy to spend a great deal of money without earning any sales as a result. In fact, we meet with lots of business owners and marketing managers who have spent thousands and thousands more than they should have on underperforming campaigns.
Managing PPC the right way is all about choosing the right audiences and keywords, maximizing your bid strategy, and studying measurable results. It also involves cutting out waste through improper campaign and location settings.
New clients are sometimes hesitant to sign up for PPC advertising management because they fear it will add to the cost of their new or existing campaigns. However, when you put together the savings that come with a lower cost-per-click, better market positioning, and improved conversion rates it almost always allows them to save thousands per year while getting better sales results.
#6 Website and Content Backups
We often meet with business owners and marketing managers who assume, for some reason, that once their websites have been put online they’ll remain in place forever. It would be nice if things worked that way, but they usually don’t.
There are any number of reasons you could lose access to your files or see your website disappear. Your hosting company could have a technical issue or server failure. You could be targeted by hackers and see your pages corrupted. You could even lose your admin password or accidentally delete large portions of your website (it happens more often than you might think).
For all of these reasons, it makes sense to have your web design partner backup your site – and any content you recently added – for just a few dollars per month. Then you’ll have a dependable plan and strategy for getting back online if the worst ever happens.
It’s possible you’ll never need backups of your business website, but experience has shown us that a little bit of preparation can go a long way when the unexpected strikes. You don’t want to find yourself paying for a new website simply because you don’t have access to the one you already paid for.
#7 Periodic Analytics Reviews
It’s amazing that there are still millions of business owners and executives out there who are making “gut feeling” decisions about marketing in the digital age. That’s because there are pages and pages of detailed reports available that show you what customers want when they visit a search engine, what kind of content they look for, and how they interact with your website.
Of course, to take advantage of these insights you have to review your web analytics periodically and know how to sift through the information provided. This is a service that a good web design and online marketing team will provide, although not nearly enough clients sign up.
When you know how many people are coming to your website, which pages they are interacting with, and where leads and revenue are originating, you can make smarter decisions about where to spend your time and money. If you don’t have access to that data you’ll be stuck making educated guesses.
You might have to draw on assumptions and hunches when you first begin your online marketing journey, but you shouldn’t be moving forward without any real certainty after that. Talk to us about following a data-driven approach to marketing that helps you sell more while spending less.
#8 Content and Copyright Verification
Content is the fuel that runs your internet marketing engine. When someone visits your site for the first time they want to know what you do and why you’re different or better than your competitors. And, adding to your blog or profiles will make you become more visible to search engine and social media users.
Unfortunately, generating high-quality content is difficult and takes a lot of work. Combine that with the fact that it means so much to your profitability and it’s easy to understand why some marketers might be tempted to “borrow” some of the text and images from your website.
When that happens it’s bad news for your business. Google might not be able to tell that you are the original creator or publisher of the content. And even if it is clear it appeared on your website first you might be penalized anyway since it’s no longer being indexed as an original work.
Our design team can set you up with content protection and copyright verification tools that let you claim your ideas and alert you with someone else tries to steal them. Generating good content takes time and money. Why let a competitor copy your website and hurt your business in the process?
#9 Email Newsletter Marketing
Reaching customers through email is the fastest, most effective, and most efficient way to drum up new business. Unfortunately, it requires good design and organizational skills, along with a commitment to consistency.
If your email newsletter doesn’t offer anything of value, appears in your customer’s inbox infrequently, or is being sent to the wrong people, then it’s a waste of everyone’s time. You have to catch buyers at the perfect moment and maintain top-of-the-mind awareness if you’re going to come out ahead.
Most of the marketers we work with simply don’t have the time or expertise to get email newsletters right. By helping them to develop editorial calendars, establishing branding guidelines in reusable templates, and ensuring messages are formatted and sent properly we give them the firepower to make online sales, drum up interest in events, and keep customers coming back again and again.
Using email to market your business is one of the cheapest ways to boost your revenue month after month. However, if you aren’t using the right tools and expertise as part of a cost-effective strategy you probably aren’t going to get the returns you deserve.
Are You Making the Right Online Marketing Investments?
Each of the nine ideas we’ve outlined in this short ebook could make a dramatic difference in the profitability of your small business. And yet, when you put them all together they typically cost less than you would spend on coffee or electricity for the office.
If you haven’t been taking advantage of the tools we’ve mentioned, it’s a sign something has gone wrong. You are thinking too much about the short-term, aren’t getting the level of advice and care you deserve, or haven’t been listening to the good ideas provided by your creative partner.
No matter what the reason, this is your chance to get your business moving in the right direction. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and find out just how easy it is to get better results from your website with a few small, simple, and inexpensive tweaks.
Call us today. You won’t notice the difference in your monthly budget, but you’ll be glad when you see the difference it makes in your bottom-line!