16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

Thanks to advanced technology, building a website today can be extremely simple. However, designing a website that marries impeccable functionality with stunning visuals is still challenging. It goes without saying that websites are now a fundamental part of a business’s online identity.

No business can hope to survive, let alone thrive, in today’s cutthroat market without an attractive, easy-to-navigate website. Far too many businesses fail at building a substantial online presence for their brand due to a subpar website.

So, why do some websites fail to attract and hold traffic where others succeed?

Certain elements of a website design contribute the most to building visitor interest in a website. Including these elements on your site gives it a beautiful visual appeal along with flawless functionality and authority. These are also the components that are most often botched during development.

Let’s take a closer look at 16 critical elements for building a great website.

Color Schemes

The color scheme of a website is seldom paid attention to when developing a website. However, you should know how important a role it plays in influencing a visitor’s behavior. Therefore, it’s important to use a color scheme that will best appeal to your visitors while also representing your brand well.

For instance, if you visit the fast-food giant McDonald’s website, you’ll be greeted with a color scheme that combines red, white, and yellow. These colors have been synonymous with the brand for ages.

We suggest first choosing the dominant color that best represents your brand. You can then choose an analogous color scheme that complements your dominant color choice to highlight certain sections of your site, like call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

White Space

Open any website today and you’ll find that a majority of these websites possess white space that divides certain sections of the webpages. These spaces lend an immaculate and accessible design to your site. They make the content or CTA buttons on your site easy to identify and read for visitors.

Some websites also use white space to give certain aspects of the site more emphasis than others. For instance, white space can be used to make certain “special deals” the focal point of a page.

Make sure you’re consistent in spacing the gaps between sections of your site. We recommend beginning with the navigation and then moving your attention to the content of your site. A grid-based layout can help you design a clean interface that maintains consistency across the entire page.

Easy Navigation

Sites that make it complicated for their visitors to navigate normally experience higher bounce rates.

As such, it’s imperative to facilitate simple navigation by giving users an easy-to-use and intuitive website. The website should offer users simple routes to navigate to certain fundamental aspects of a site, recommended pages, along with a way back to the original page.

Take a look at this quick navigation menu bar in Marks & Spencer’s website:

We suggest using parallax scrolling as a navigation system, which includes arrows that make a website’s user interface (UI) easy to interact with. Therefore, you must place a strong emphasis on simple navigation if you want visitors to spend more time on your site.

Distinct Typography

Using unique typography to present content on your site is an ideal way to distinguish yourself from other similar sites online. The fonts you ultimately choose should complement your brand while communicating its message to visitors. It’s also important to consider a font that makes your site look professional without appearing bland.

We suggest using a font size of at least 16 pixels to make your site’s content readable on mobile and desktop devices. You can use different but complementary fonts to highlight the headings and subheadings on the site. Finally, use contrasting color schemes to match your text with the background perfectly. Pairing darker tones with lighter colors will do the trick just fine.

Outstanding Visuals

This goes without saying, but certain visual cues on your site will give any website a distinct edge over similar websites online. Populating a webpage with high-resolution images and beautiful illustrations can make your site more compelling to visitors.

For example, take a look at this high-definition image from Hershey:

Of course, you can’t use just any random visuals on your site. They should align with what your brand stands for.

Use stunning banner images. You can populate your page with custom-made images, which can also be used to highlight certain key focal points of your site. Try to avoid using too many stock photos on your pages.

Site Usability

Aside from beautiful design, you also need to create a site that provides users with a satisfying user experience (UX). Most developers make the critical mistake of compromising a site’s usability in favor of its overall visual design. It’s imperative to optimize a site in order to facilitate smooth interaction between the site’s elements and visitors. A subpar UX design could result in your website’s bounce rate blowing through the roof.

You can enhance the user experience by using animations, readable and engaging content, simple navigation, and more interactive elements.

 

High-Quality Content

Having high-quality content is integral to optimizing search engine rankings for your site and thus generating more traffic to your site. It’s also absolutely essential to populate your site with quality content in order to keep your visitors engaged. Top-notch content that’s relevant to your brand can persuade visitors to spend more time on your site, explore other areas, or make a purchase.

We recommend dividing your content based on its relevance. Always keep relevant information about your website, product, or service at the top. Follow it up with content that explains your services or highlights features that set you apart from competitors.

Finally, use an FAQ section to answer questions that a visitor may have about your service.

Have a look at this FAQ page design from Shopify:

Compelling Calls to Action

A website exists to persuade a visitor to take certain actions on it. CTA buttons on a site trigger this response from visitors. As such, you need to place CTA buttons strategically throughout your site to persuade visitors to perform desirable actions on the webpage. The call-to-action messages themselves must be persuasive. They should explain what you want visitors to do in a few words.

“Buy Now,” “Sign up Free,” “Contact Us,” etc. are all examples of CTA buttons commonly used by most websites.

Make sure your landing page leads users to all the CTA buttons present on the page. You can utilize contrasting color schemes, content, and white spaces to highlight a CTA button.

Take a look at this CTA button used by Spotify:

If you have a variety of CTA buttons on your page, determine which type is more important and use it more prominently.

Mobile-Friendly Design

It is a well-known fact that the majority of websites receive most of their traffic from mobile users. With over 7 billion active smartphone users around the world today, not optimizing your site for mobile devices means losing out on such a massive audience. Suffice it to say, mobile optimization is one of the first things you need to do when building a website.

You need to utilize a custom web design that responds and adapts to various mobile screen sizes automatically.

We recommend using Google Search Console or other free tools like Pingdom or BrowserStack to check whether your site is mobile-friendly.

SEO-Friendly Elements

As you may know by now, search engines like Google take many aspects of a site’s user experience into consideration when ranking a site. As such, a developer needs to consider search engine optimization from the very beginning of a website’s design process. Elements like simple navigation, scannable text, loading speed, and mobile friendliness contribute to the overall user experience.

A problem with any of the above elements will result in a user having a poor experience with your site, eventually increasing its bounce rate. Google will take this high bounce as a sign of bad UX and ultimately plummet your site in search engine rankings.

It’s important to consider how each element will contribute to your site’s SEO. We suggest working with an SEO expert, who will monitor and assess all crucial elements of your site while it is in development.

Right Usage of Ads

You’ll find many websites online that have successfully monetized their websites by displaying ads on them. If used appropriately, display ads can be a great way to earn some revenue from your website. However, such advertisements – if used incorrectly – can aggravate your visitor’s user experience. In short, advertisements have the power to make or break your site.

As such, we discourage using too many ads on websites as it can harm the user experience. You don’t want your website to look unprofessional, which is exactly what will happen if your webpage is littered with ads.

The most effective way to advertise on a site, in our opinion, would be combining banner ads with affiliate marketing. Make sure your ads integrate organically with your site. They shouldn’t feel out of place and interfere with the content on your site.

Security

Online security should be an integral part of any website. Security and privacy have often been a major cause of concern for individuals surfing the web. Security alerts popping up when someone tries to open your site is a surefire way of turning potential website visitors away forever.

Internet security should be given as much focus as the design and overall functionality of your site. It should be mandatory for your website to implement an HTTPS protocol. This will help protect a user’s information, lend some much-needed credibility, and build trust among prospects. 

We suggest buying SSL certificates from reliable hosting service providers. These are cheap to acquire and can be integrated seamlessly with your site.

Integrating Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have billions of active users from all around the world. So it only makes sense to integrate social media into your site’s design plan. You should have social media buttons that instantly redirect your users to your site’s official social media channel. You can also have buttons that allow users to directly share certain content or products from your website on their private channels. 

Having social media buttons strategically placed on your website is a great way of indirectly marketing your site, opening doors for people to leap in directly onto your site from their respective social media profiles online. 

Adding Internal and External Links

A proper link-building strategy can prove to be a great way of enhancing the brand authority of your website. It is important to learn how to build internal and external links to help boost your website’s performance. For instance, you can direct users to certain content on your site and improve its SEO performance by using appropriate internal links.

Proper link-building research requires a good strategy. We suggest finding out how your competitor’s websites are employing their link-building strategy. Draw inspiration for sites that are using the strategy with productive results.

Comments Section

We’ve already stressed how important it is to make your site as interactive and engaging as possible. Aside from content, you can add a comments section to your site, which allows users to leave their two cents below a particular content or product information. This can be a great way to receive feedback, which can be used to improve your service.

If you are running an ecommerce store, we recommend adding a review section similar to what is found on sites like Amazon and eBay. A dedicated comments and review section will make your site more interactive and improve brand loyalty.

Achievements and Endorsements

This is perhaps the most effective and widely adopted way of building trust among customers. It is in your business’s best interest to flaunt your past achievements on your website for all to see. Displaying your achievements can go a long way towards building a solid reputation for your business and brand.

We recommend having a dedicated section for testimonials, displaying positive comments from at least 4 to 5 past clients.

We also suggest highlighting the names of all the popular brands you’ve served. If you’ve received endorsements from authoritative brands, add them to your site as well.

Final Thoughts

While these 16 elements can seem a bit overwhelming, they’re essential to building a website that not only looks fantastic but functions flawlessly as well.

Are you ready for the good news? You don’t have to do it on your own!

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in professional website design. Our talented web designers will craft your business website with lots of TLC and plenty of technical prowess! We can build you a brand new website from scratch or spruce up your existing site.

Interested? Reach out to HighClick Media today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here. We’ll be glad to show you how we can help #elevateyourbrand with a world-class website for your business.

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Guest blogger Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna, a digital marketing firm based in Texas.

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The Pros & Cons of Using Animation On Your Website

The Pros & Cons of Using Animation On Your Website

Incorporating elements of animation is a great way to make your website come to life. When properly implemented, quality animation can significantly enhance your site’s user experience as well as its overall effectiveness.

Animation in the right place at the right time has the power to capture a user’s attention, improve engagement, secure more conversions, and even increase sales.

That being said, animation also presents its share of challenges. For one thing, it’s easy to get carried away and add an excessive amount of animation. Even professional designers and developers have to toe the line between making the most of all that animation has to offer and creating a site that’s overwhelmed with too much activity.

Instead of attracting more visitors to your site, badly executed animation can actually alienate users. Animation that’s carelessly integrated into your design can create confusion, discord, and chaos for users.

If you’re thinking about including elements of animation on your business website, there are a few things you should take into consideration. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using animation on your website.

PROS:

Animation Can Help Increase User Engagement

Adding animation to your website design is sure to grab a user’s attention more than just a static screen. Websites that not only function efficiently but look good as well are more likely to enjoy positive feedback and decreased bounce rates from users.

Animation Lends Authenticity and Legitimacy to Your Site

Online scammers don’t generally invest a lot of time or effort into a complex website design. When done well, animation not only indicates to users that your website is legitimate, it also positions your brand as a credible authority in your field.

Animation Enhances the Overall Design of Your Site

The right animation effects can breathe life into your website design, leaving a lasting impression with visitors. Couple an aesthetically pleasing design with interactive elements and you’ll further increase users’ interest in spending more time on your site.

CONS:

Animation Can Slow Page Loading Speeds

Since animation places a heavy load on website resources, it can cause slower load speeds for both individual pages and the site itself. Slow loading times can frustrate users, leading them to move on to other sites that have what they’re looking for but load much faster. Longer loading times can also negatively impact your rankings in Google search engine results.

Animation Can Distract from Your Business Goals

Having too many animated elements can annoy users and cause them to abandon your website without completing a purchase – regardless of what motivated them to visit in the first place. When inexpertly executed, web animation can also draw a user’s attention away from your core message. Instead of focusing on what products to buy, visitors may become overly distracted by the movement on the page.

Animation Might Not Always Improve User Experience

While animation may add to the visual appeal of your website, it doesn’t always enhance the user’s experience. Websites should be designed to function in a way that’s easy for visitors to use. Adding animation where it’s not needed can make a site harder to navigate and ultimately detract from the overall user experience.

Final Thoughts

Before determining whether animation is right for your website, consider the following questions:

  • What is its purpose?
  • Will it enhance or detract from the user experience?
  • How will it benefit users or add to your message?
  • Will it help guide your visitors in the right direction (e.g., making a purchase or booking an appointment)?
  • Will it slow your site down?
  • Can you execute it well?

When it comes to web animation, it’s best to exercise a less-is-more approach. You shouldn’t simply include animation whenever and wherever you want – its use must always be justified. By and large, web animation should always be integrated in ways that align with your broader business objectives.

So, should you use animation on your website? That, of course, is up to you to decide. Ultimately, it all boils down to the user experience you can and want to provide.

By heeding the advice above, it’s possible to incorporate elements of animation into your business website design that will allow you to reap all the benefits of the pros and none of the cons. To ensure maximum results, enlist the services of professional web designers and developers.

If you’re looking to give your business website a facelift (with or without the animation), HighClick Media can help! Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

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Practical Tips for Integrating Digital Technology Into Your Ecommerce Business

Practical Tips for Integrating Digital Technology Into Your Ecommerce Business

Today’s consumers are more connected than ever before. They expect to have access to information, services, and products wherever they are, whenever they want them, and at the lowest price.

To remain competitive in today’s ecommerce market, you must integrate digital technology into all areas of your business.

Fortunately, integrating digital technology into your ecommerce business doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. In this article, we’ll take a look at several tips that will help put you on the path to success!

Create a Customer Engagement Strategy

Once you’ve got your customers’ attention, you need to get them to take action. Constructing a customer engagement strategy is all about converting your website visitors into paying customers.

Of course, you can’t expect every visitor to eventually become a customer just because you want them to. Instead, you should focus your efforts on converting the most relevant and interested visitors into paying customers.

You can do this by creating and executing a customer engagement strategy. Customer engagement strategies range from seeking email subscribers to building and nurturing a repeat buyer base.

Build Automated Marketing Campaigns

Now that you’ve got a solid customer engagement strategy in place, you can integrate digital marketing techniques and ecommerce capabilities. The key to any successful digital marketing strategy is to automate as much as you can.

This can be done through email marketing automation and lead generation campaigns. As marketing guru Neil Patel notes, automation helps you create and execute your digital marketing strategy more quickly and effectively.

Digital Tech Trends to Try Today

When it comes to digital technology, there are countless options to choose from. For ecommerce businesses, the following technologies are likely to prove particularly beneficial:

Integrate Mobile Payments

While you may already have an existing mobile app, if there isn’t an option for customers to make online payments, you’re truly missing out. Before you integrate any payment feature, always make sure to first add API authentication.

API authentication allows clients to verify their bank account and routing number instantly via ACH. What’s more, your app will work seamlessly with other mobile payment options like Swipe and Dwolla. Your customers will appreciate the convenience and ease of use that come part and parcel with a mobile payment option.

Implement Remote Work

Letting some employees work remotely is an excellent start. However, you need to take additional steps to always ensure effective communication. Collaboration is key when working remotely, so be sure to make use of a process map template.

With process mapping in place, you and your remote team will find that it’s easier than ever to work together. You’ll be more organized and productivity will increase dramatically.

Initiate Data Analysis

Data analysis can be used to further improve the processes of your organization. Here, it’s important to differentiate process mining vs. process discovery. Process discovery – which essentially creates an optimized map of what a process should look like – is a part of process mining. Moreover, Harvard Business Review explains that process mining uses data to find, validate, and improve your ecommerce business’s workflows. As a result, your entire company will benefit.

This means greater efficiency, increased sales and revenue, better risk management, and hidden opportunities. To achieve all this, you’ll need to start by finding potential data sources and mapping out a timeline. Then, you can determine key stakeholders.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s cloud computing, digital marketing, machine learning, process mining, or any other digital technology, there’s a wealth of resources available to use. The key is finding the ones that will work best for your business and your customers. When you find the right technologies, you will notice profound improvements in your ecommerce business.

HighClick Media helps grow businesses of all shapes and sizes by implementing comprehensive marketing solutions, such as website design, paid advertising, and other creative services. Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas – Education, Relationships, and Community.

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How to Grow Your Business by Optimizing Your Website

How to Grow Your Business By Optimizing Your Website

Prioritize Creating a Data Recovery Plan

Unfortunately, business owners too often minimize the importance of cybersecurity until after their company has been targeted and compromised by cyberattackers. Rather than waiting until disaster strikes, it’s imperative to educate yourself about cybersecurity data protection and be proactive about protecting your company’s website.

Coming up with a cyber-recovery plan to safeguard your company’s digital assets – including your website – should be your number one priority. This will allow you to get your website back up and running quickly in the event of a cyberattack. You’ll want to establish a proposed timeline with your preferred “deadlines” for system recovery, as well as details about which programs and applications will have to be addressed in order to execute recovery. Finally, make note of who will be responsible for conducting each task included in your recovery plan.

Develop Educational Content

Sure, your website is a sales and marketing platform – but it can also serve as a vehicle for customer education. Whether your typical customer is another small business, a nonprofit organization, or an individual consumer in your area, you can establish your website as a place that visitors can turn to for up-to-date resources on everything from product use cases to new developments in your industry.

So, how can you ensure that your marketing content is also educational? Business 2 Community recommends publishing blog posts that address your audience’s most common “pain points,” hosting live video lessons with product demonstrations on your website, or even establishing a special membership section of your site with bonus content for paying subscribers.

Integrate Your CRM & ERP

Your customer relationship management (CRM) system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are both indispensable to your business. From tracking and capturing leads to managing your overall operations, these software programs can be leveraged to carry out a plethora of key business functions. You can use these programs to their fullest potential by integrating them and then connecting the internal, integrated system to your website. In doing so, not only will you boost your team’s productivity and efficiency but you’ll also be able to seamlessly transfer information from your website to these interconnected programs.

User-Friendly Design

Have you ever had an unpleasant experience while browsing a particular website? Maybe you found it difficult to find the particular page you were looking for. Perhaps you tried to use the search function to find an important piece of content, but it didn’t deliver accurate results. Or, maybe you were seeking contact information so that you could get in touch with a customer support specialist – but no matter how hard you looked, you didn’t see any contact forms, email addresses, or phone numbers.

Crafting an enjoyable user experience should be at the heart of your website design and management approach. But, how can you go the extra mile to make sure that your customers can easily navigate your website and make the best use of all its features? Rock Content recommends designing a clear menu that allows your customers to visit key sections of your website with one click, including an easy-to-find contact form.

In addition, it’s also essential to make sure that your overall site layout looks attractive – after all, visually appealing content might prompt visitors to stay on your website longer (and the longer visitors stay on your site, the more likely they are to take action, such as making a purchase or booking an appointment). If you can’t find a theme that you like with your current content management system, you might consider enlisting the services of a professional web design and development firm that can create a custom layout for your site.

Local SEO: How to Get Found Online by Customers in Your Area

You might be acquainted with the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO), and perhaps you’ve even been incorporating some useful keywords into your website content already. But have you taken the time to focus on local SEO? By emphasizing local SEO in your website strategy, you can specifically target customers in your area who are seeking products and services like those that you offer.

What can you do to reach customers nearby using SEO tactics? BrainChild Studios recommends putting your city and state on your homepage, adding your city to your page title tags (including the local schema code in your website pages), claiming your Google Business Profile listing, and including your business in local online directories.

Boost Your Conversion Rate

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Speed Up Your Website

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Final Thoughts

Your website doesn’t exist just so your company will show up in search engines. In reality, your website might be an unrealized tool for your business’s growth. If you haven’t prioritized growing your business by maximizing your website’s potential, you can get started by integrating some of these recommendations.

If you need help with optimizing your existing website, creating a new website from scratch, boosting your SEO for greater discoverability in Google searches, or any other aspect of your digital marketing, you don’t have to go it alone! HighClick Media is here to help! Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice and troubleshooting tips.

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By the Numbers: Data Application in Business Operations

By the Numbers: Data Application in Business Operations

By the Numbers: Data Application in Business Operations

 

If you’re operating in the digital space, it’s important to incorporate data and process analytics into your work process. Analyzing data and forming insights are crucial to acquiring and retaining customers, mitigating risk, and navigating a path forward that’s profitable and risk-averse. In this article, we’ll outline a few examples of data application from an operational standpoint.

Customer Acquisition & Retention

Customer Management

Customer retention refers to the strategies you use to keep existing customers coming back. Analytics is critical in this regard, as it provides predictive metrics of how your customers might react to company changes, price fluctuations, etc. A data-driven approach using mathematics, statistics, and probability will allow you to safely test strategies and develop prescriptive insights without risking the real-life loyalty of your existing customers.

The same logic applies to new customer acquisition. The first and clearest advantage of an analytical approach to data involves taking a look at the costs associated with actually acquiring a new customer. With the right implementation, you can weigh the combined costs of advertising, offers, delivery, salary, and communications against the value of the customer themselves ahead of time. 

By contrast, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a user-centric strategy designed to increase the rate of desired behavior amongst users on a website. If you’re collecting data correctly, you’ll be able to more closely scrutinize the user journey across your website pages, forms, customer service, and ecommerce site and adapt your sales and customer journey accordingly.

Internal Process ManagementInternal Process Management Using an iBPM

Many businesses underestimate the importance of internal data capture. Depending on the size of your business, deploying analytics within the context of your own office can be cost-efficient for improving productivity and operational efficiency. Data can be used to improve hiring methods, give insights into effective management, and optimize training methods. It can also be used in conjunction with key performance indicators (KPIs) to more accurately measure team attainment and scrutinize work efficacy.

Another strategy is to use business process management (BPM) to analyze how the people, systems, and data within your business interact. You can also use this tool to automate and optimize processes and workflows, leaving menial tasks to the AI and giving your employees more time to focus on more pressing issues. Automation tools and intelligent business process management (iBPM) combine to make for a more efficient operation. When creating a BPM framework, just be sure that you’re always monitoring its effectiveness and making adjustments to improve output.

Risk ManagementRisk Management

Without data analytics, it’s almost impossible to develop an effective, long-term risk management process. If you have the available technology, you can embed data to identify risks and react in real time to market shifts, faulty internal processes, etc., thereby reducing the likelihood of bad investments and wasted time. With risk profiles, it’s possible to create a framework that weighs financial and strategic threats and prescribes a course of action that would mitigate and manage them. If your data models are precise enough, it’s even possible to predict future outcomes and build workflows that respond automatically, without intervention.

A risk assessment matrix goes a step further and ranks the likelihood, impact, and severity of potential risks. These can then be manifested as key risk indicators (KRIs), which may grow and evolve over time depending on your application of machine learning. Ultimately, you want to create an approach to risk management that changes with the data, ensuring your company is adaptable to hazards as they emerge.

Through data analysis and efficient process management and automation like iBPM, your business will be able to make decisions based on behavior prediction that will improve customer acquisition and retention and company efficiency and reduce the chance of a major setback.

Data Analysis***************

Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today, he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice, and troubleshooting tips.

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How To Deal With Negative Customer Reviews

How To Deal With Negative Customer Reviews

Negative customer reviews can happen even to businesses with top-notch customer service. Mistakes will happen from time to time; and unfortunately, social media makes it possible for a disgruntled customer to quickly tell lots of people when something goes wrong.

However, a negative customer review doesn’t necessarily signal disaster. It may seem counterintuitive, but getting a couple of negative reviews every once in a while can actually create trust with customers. Too many stellar reviews can make your business appear fake. Shoppers understand that no business is perfect – and your response to a negative review offers an opportunity to demonstrate that you truly care about your customers.

By following these steps, you can transform a negative review into a positive experience.

Step 1: Respond Right Away

To keep a negative review on social media or another public site from adversely impacting your business, respond promptly. You may not yet comprehend what went wrong – or whether you’re just dealing with a demanding customer. At this point, it doesn’t matter either way. Publicly acknowledge their feedback and advise them that you’re looking into the matter. It’s essential to address the situation with urgency in order to stifle the complaint before it goes viral.

The proper response can even turn a negative review into a positive one! Data confirms that 33% of negative reviews on Yelp take a positive turn when a business makes the effort to respond to a dissatisfied customer.

Step 2: Follow Up Discreetly

Issuing a public apology helps safeguard your company’s reputation. Once you’ve posted a heartfelt apology for others to see, attempt to get to the heart of the matter in private. Contact the individual via phone or by using a free app like Clover Feedback.

If you choose to communicate by email or direct message, bear in mind that anything you say in response can readily be saved as a screenshot and re-shared. If the customer is still unhappy, it’s important to let them voice their concerns in private where you can address them directly.

Step 3: Support Your Staff

Mistakes happen. As a small business, your employees are in the trenches every day, representing your brand to your customers. When a complaint is lodged, your staff needs to know that you are going to back them up. This could involve providing additional training on how to handle dissatisfied customers, establishing a complaint policy, or immediately handing off negative reviews to managers (or to yourself, as the business owner) to lighten the load for your team members.

Keep an eye out for “constant complainers” or “barnacles,” two particularly prickly types of customers who can turn a situation toxic quickly. These customers enjoy airing their grievances, regardless of whether they’re valid or not, in order to try to get a discount or a freebie. When you confront one of these customers, take the high road. Do what you can to rectify the situation, and then move on.

Step 4: Make It Right

Customers take satisfaction in supporting small businesses, due to the fact that they routinely establish personal relationships with you and your staff members. Because you’re most likely acquainted with many of your regulars, you’re ideally positioned to personally and genuinely resolve a negative review.

Determine the quickest, best way to remedy the immediate problem. This typically involves either returning an item, replacing it, or providing a discount. Acknowledge that you value this individual’s loyalty; empathize and engage with them in a way that sets your business apart from the dispassionate customer service centers at most big-box retailers.

“Apologize for and explain the situation, issue a refund (if applicable), and offer an additional benefit for sticking with you. Have a set strategy for specific problems, but personalize each response. Great customer service can turn unhappy customers into brand advocates. Poor service does exactly the opposite,” says Carlo Cisco, owner of FoodFan.

Step 5: Prevent Future Negative Reviews

Lastly, take advantage of this bad review as an opportunity to improve. How can your business function better, assist customers more efficiently, or enhance communication? Establish formalized procedures, such as a refund policy or return policy, and review them often. Role-play with your team members and coach them on how to respond to an irate customer face-to-face. Implement a system or tool where customers can provide feedback directly, as opposed to on a review site such as Google or Yelp.

In essence, a negative review should be seen as a gift. It demonstrates that your customers are fond enough of your brand to go to the trouble of leaving you feedback. Even the worst reviews can end up being positive experiences, if managed properly.

Final Thoughts

Do you need help engaging more effectively with your customers? HighClick Media can help! Our brand development specialists are ready, willing, and able to help create a comprehensive brand strategy which connects your business to your audience. Our social media marketing strategies can help elevate your business by increasing its website traffic, brand awareness, and customer relationships.

Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here!

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An earlier version of this article appeared here.

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Marketing to Millennials: Here’s What You Need to Know

Marketing To Millennials: Here’s What You Need To Know

Marketing professionals for small-to-medium-sized businesses should be aware that when creating messaging and content for the Millennial generation and younger, different rules apply. Marketing approaches that might have been effective in attracting the positive notice of older generations might miss the mark for Millennials – or even send the wrong message entirely. This means you may be failing to earn the interest and loyalty of the largest living generation, even if it’s not the generation that has the most buying power – yet.

Why Are Millennials Important as a Target Audience?

The short answer to this is that everyone is important. Good marketing is accessible marketing,  taking diverse needs into consideration and leaving no one out. Neglecting Millennials simply because they hold less wealth than Boomers or Gen X is problematic from several standpoints. However, from a purely pragmatic perspective, marketing that ignores Millennials is sabotaging itself.

This is partially because Millennials will come into greater buying power in the near future. It’s also because Millennials are more likely than other generations to be the primary consumers of marketing messaging since they are the most plugged in.

Here are some key considerations if you’re developing a marketing campaign with Millennials in mind:

1) Quality of Design Is Important

Older consumers may not notice if a website is poorly laid out or looks outdated. They may notice if a site is difficult to use, but they won’t necessarily be able to pinpoint why. Millennials, on the other hand – having grown up alongside a variety of developments in the digital world – are extremely savvy about what constitutes good design versus what looks cheap, tacky, or cheesy. If you’re not confident about your capacity to design for Millennials, consider enlisting the services of a professional website designer.

2) Craft Content That’s Social-Media-Worthy

Millennials and other younger consumers are probably going to come across your marketing on social media. So, you’ll want to craft content that works well across different platforms. Social-friendly content types to consider include videos (both video Stories and live streaming), testimonials, contests, and holiday-themed content. Also, make sure that your marketing content translates well to mobile devices.

3) Short-Form Content Is the Way to Go

Optimize your social media content to cater to the shorter attention spans of this generation. In many cases, Millennials simply don’t want to waste a lot of time trying to absorb marketing material, and they probably aren’t going to sit down and gaze at a lengthy video, either. Shorter snippets and brief stories are better than earnest but lengthy infomercials. Avoid using clickbait techniques in an attempt to lure Millennial consumers to go deeper into the content. These techniques are glaringly visible for what they are and are a major turn-off for this generation.

4) Make It About the Experience

Millennial consumers tend to value experiences over ownership. They’re more likely to splurge on an adventure or an excursion than on expensive material belongings. And, of course, they’re also likely to want to translate those experiences into Instagram shares. So, instead of focusing on what Millennial buyers might want to possess or purchase, emphasize how your products or services can enhance their life experiences.

5) Deliver Prompt Customer Service

Digital tools make it possible to communicate far more rapidly and effectively than we did even a decade ago, and Millennials are well-accustomed to using these tools. Consequently, they expect others to have mastered these so-called “instant gratification” tools as well. Delayed response times, particularly when it comes to customer requests or service, are likely to provoke a certain level of impatience.

6) Don’t Try to Fake Authenticity

This is a big one. A lot of the pitches that were popular in marketing campaigns directed at Gen X or Boomers come off, in the eyes of Millennials, as just that: sales pitches. This is a generation that has learned to distrust too much smoothness or fakeness and will view rehearsed sales scripts as smarmy rather than smart. In fact, Millennials are more likely than preceding generations to distrust the motives of the business itself. This is why it’s important that your marketing campaign is backed by real evidence with regard to company ethics and influence.

7) Appeal to Their Values

Millennials tend to take values and ethics seriously. Shopping, for them, is not just about satisfying individual needs or desires or getting the best deal. It’s also about making informed choices that can contribute to a better future. Unlike the “me generation,” these younger consumers are likely to think more about sustainability and the future and ask questions about the values and mission of a company.

8) Make Affordability a Selling Point

Here again, Millennials are probably going to look past the pitch and determine whether this product or service is actually a frugal choice. The generation that made thrift store shopping hip cares less about showcasing expensive brands and more about making their spending money go further. When Millennials do splurge, they’re often motivated less by the need to have what everyone else has, and more by the desire to have something unique that reflects their personal style and brand.

9) Where Millennial Audiences Hang Out

In order to reach Millennials on social media, you’ll want to make use of the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as some of the newer ones like Snapchat and TikTok, where younger Millennials may be more active. Email marketing also is an effective way to reach your Millennial audience. Compared to Gen Z, Millennials tend to use a variety of platforms and don’t focus simply on those which are primarily video-oriented. Since you will need to diversify your digital marketing in order to capture broad Millennial interests, consider working with a local digital marketing agency like HighClick Media.

A good marketing strategist understands that while human nature remains relatively unchanged from one generation to the next, human trends, tastes, activities, and self-definition are very culturally relative. So, it’s important to understand the different tastes of diverse demographics, including Millennial consumers.

At HighClick Media, we’re ready, willing, and able to help with all of your digital marketing needs. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

About The Author:

Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. She believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and Alyssa hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she’s learned through experience and from other young parents in three key areas: Education, Relationships, and Community.

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What Do You REALLY Know About Your Customers?

What Do You REALLY Know About Your Customers?

 

If you want to be truly effective with your marketing, you have to understand your customer so well that you know the “conversation going on in their mind” that’s so personal they won’t utter it to anyone. How do you gain that level of intelligence from your customers? The answer isn’t a simple or easy one.

You can’t just survey people. All consumer polls, surveys, and research are deeply flawed for several reasons. The first is that many people don’t understand the questions asked because they’re barely paying attention and give abrupt, short answers. They also won’t get into the real emotional drivers upon which they base their decisions because that’s not how they consciously communicate.

One of the real ways women choose medical doctors for certain conditions is based on the age of the doctor. They don’t want to go to a younger male doctor because they feel intimidated, ashamed, and deeply embarrassed about their bodies. They want an older female doctor who’s closer to their age.

Most men won’t go to a young female doctor (or a really young male doc) for impotence for the same reasons. They want to go to a doctor who’s a peer in their age group.

But if you poll these patients to see why they chose the doctor they did, they’ll give more logical justifications, such as “they came referred” or “they had great reviews.” While that might be true and may have contributed to their decision, it’s not the exclusive reason they chose that doctor – and it’s not the MOST important factor.

Another problem with consumer research and surveys is that most people don’t consciously know they’re making these decisions. They feel pulled to buy, but they don’t analyze their choices.

Steve Jobs’ principle rings true here: it’s not your customer’s job to articulate what they want, that’s up to you to figure out. That’s where the big money is made – not chasing customers’ whims and surface requests, but knowing them so well that you already know what they’ll buy, what they want, what will get them excited – without them having to spell it out.

Here’s a somewhat crude example, but hear me out. Most people don’t want to ask for what they want when making love, because it kills the magic of the moment. No one wants to be barking instructions at a lover in the heat of passion, mapping out a play-by-play of what turns them on or telling their partner to stop doing what they’re doing.

The best lovers seem to anticipate what their partner wants. Women often get unfairly criticized for not directly telling their spouses what they want. Many women feel that if you’re so dense that you can’t figure out the most obvious things, you’re not paying attention (most of the time, that’s probably true). They also feel embarrassed to ask.

The same goes with your customers.

Some feel embarrassed to ask for what they want because they don’t want to appear to be a nitpicky complainer.

Others won’t articulate what they want because they feel the inadequacies of your service are so obvious that if you can’t see how dysfunctional it is, there’s no point in wasting their breath to tell you.

Others just don’t know what they want, but they’re experts on what they DON’T want.

Some are just too busy to think about it – that’s why they hired you. They want you to anticipate their needs.

So, the only way you can truly understand your customers is by first studying emotional intelligence, persuasion, and human behavior in order to gain a baseline understanding of human motivations.

Next, you have to spend time with your customers – listen to them, understand them, and go deep into the whys of what they do, how they run their business, how they make decisions, their hierarchy of value, and their unspoken desires.

That last one is the hardest, because you have to really pay attention and set aside your values, your thoughts, your beliefs, and be fully focused on them – no matter how irrational their decisions are. This takes practice and a willingness to master influence and persuasion.

While marketing professionals know that the ultimate benchmark of any idea, promotion, price point, product, or service is testing, they aren’t just blindly speculating. They’ve done the work to understand their clients on a deep level and can trust their guts to be right more than wrong. That’s a huge advantage in the marketplace, where most business owners are stuck on the “stuff” they sell and surface-level benefits.

Conclusion

f you’re a small business owner who’s struggling to connect with and truly understand your customers, the good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. HighClick Media is here to help! We’re a full-service digital marketing agency with collective decades of experience in helping small businesses just like yours succeed by optimizing your online presence.

Want to know more? Let’s start a conversation! Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here. Working together, we can help elevate your brand beyond your wildest dreams!

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How to Use Your Website as a Marketing Tool

How to Use Your Website As a Marketing Tool

At the center of your digital marketing efforts, your website has the potential to become a powerful sales machine capable of branching out to all other online marketing venues.

Learning how to use your website as a marketing tool is an important first step for any business owner who’s beginning to realize the importance and potential of search engine optimization (SEO). Here are some basic tips on where to begin:

Perpetuate Your BrandPerpetuate Your Branding

Your branding must become synonymous with the industry you’re in. Whenever people see a meme, infographic, or video you’ve created, they should be able to instantly recognize this content as coming from your brand.

Creating a memorable brand logo has the potential to skyrocket your visibility and steer people directly to your business’s website. You might choose to use a DIY free logo creator tool for this purpose or enlist the services of a graphic designer if you’ve got the budget. Once you have your logo nailed down, you should be adding it to literally every piece of content you put out.

If your logo and branding are unique and cleverly designed, your target audience (the people actively consuming your content on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) will flock to your website.

Compose a Long-Form FAQ Article

Given that 8% of all Google queries are questions from users, it’s time that you capitalized on this by answering all the questions pertinent to your industry.

A FAQ article is a type of blog consisting predominantly of questions and answers. Google takes notice of question-and-answer dialogues and is much more likely to rank content that appears to answer those questions best. As you continue answering questions, your site will quickly gain momentum by becoming a go-to knowledge hub for people who are already interested in the products and services you have to offer.

Create Pillar Posts for Your Blog

Pillar posts are more potent than normal blog posts because they’re designed to appeal to Google’s algorithms as well as people.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a pillar post that will boost your website’s ranking and add value to your audience.

  1. Come up with a great concept that engages your audience but is also relevant to your industry.
  2. Craft a title that’s list-oriented. The longer the list of potential “hacks” or “tips” you can provide, the better!
  3. Begin by writing about three of those concepts.
  4. Publish your blog post under a catchy title, such as “3 Failproof Ways to…” or “3 Neglected Methods for…” (Note: Make sure the body of your post lives up to the hype of its title, or you might be guilty of clickbait.)
  5. Add an image or video for each of the concepts.
  6. Add another tip each month, making sure that you also change the number in your title as you add those tips.
  7. Update the existing content in the blog as well wherever relevant.

This continual adding and updating will get Google’s attention – within 6 months, you can expect your ranking to improve significantly.

Sell Directly from Your Site

You don’t have to transform your website into a full-fledged ecommerce site to sell your products or services online. You already have the ability to present products and sell them directly from your existing website.

You can add products, along with prices, and offer delivery as much as you are able to. Before long, you’ll have a much more convenient way of selling your products in a world where people are prone to shop at home and have items brought to their front door.

Reviews and Testimonials

Become the type of business owner who thrives on good reviews – then show off those reviews by displaying them on the most prominent areas of your website.

Google uses a 5-star system to rate businesses. If your rating is higher than 4 stars, showcase it on your homepage to instill trust in future users who might be looking for your services. It’s a surefire way to develop credibility with your audience in a market where competition is so strong.

Conduct Interviews

A great way to set yourself up as an industry leader and a trustworthy source for your products and services is by interviewing experts within your industry.

Conduct interviews and post them directly on your website, or post them on YouTube, then create a video feed on your site that allows users to watch your content without having to navigate away from your page.

Who would you interview? Here are a few ideas:

  • Suppliers
  • Affiliates
  • International Experts
  • Local Experts

Basically, anyone who might add interest and value to a topic related to your industry.

Develop TutorialsDevelop Tutorials

Educating your audience is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can utilize – and you can do this directly from your current website!

You can embed videos on your site or simply create a step-by-step written tutorial about how to solve a common problem your target audience might regularly deal with.

This solution-based content will attract visitors to your site, compel them to trust you, eventually buy from you, and ultimately refer you to others who have the same needs.

Final Thoughts

In an ever-changing digital landscape, your company’s website is the most important marketing tool in your arsenal. None of the various aspects of marketing – social media, content creation, email campaigns, paid search ads, SEO, print media, or other traditional methods – have the potential to create more leads or present a more professional image of your business than your website.

Not only does your website serve as a virtual salesperson and brand ambassador for your business, but you can also use it to genuinely connect with prospective customers.

In essence, your website is the nexus at which all your marketing efforts begin and end. Whether you’re sending a tweet, publishing a blog post, running a newspaper ad, or adding a link at the bottom of your business card – the ultimate goal of marketing is to drive traffic to your website.

The success (or failure) of your overall marketing strategy boils down to the design, prowess, and intuitiveness of the website it draws people towards. If you aren’t using your website as the marketing tool it is, then you’re missing out on a lot of potential business. If you’re not making a concentrated effort to be where your customers are, you can bet that your competition is going to reach them before you can.

By implementing the suggestions listed above and incorporating them into your marketing strategy, you’ll be well on your way to seeing positive results for your business.

If you need help developing a marketing strategy, if your branding is all over the place, or if your website is perhaps too old and dilapidated to do what you need it to do, give us a call at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here!

We’ll be happy to sit down with you (in person, or virtually) and discuss possible changes we can make together to help your business succeed in the digital age. At HighClick Media, our primary mission is to elevate your brand, no matter what it takes. Let’s start a conversation today!

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As a digital content expert, Anna Knowles likes to spread her knowledge and love for digital media. Her aim is to partner with small businesses and startups, helping them grow their enterprise with dynamite content.

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