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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Attracting Busy & Tired Customers: The Complete Guide for Small Businesses

Attracting Busy & Tired Consumers: The Complete Guide for Small Businesses

Finding new customers can be a challenge when you’re a new startup or a small business. Nobody knows your name, your budget is tight, and you’re competing with gigantic corporations that have well and truly sunk their claws into consumers and won’t be letting go any time soon. Not to mention that your ideal customers are likely busy, tired, and generally suffering from choice overload.

Essentially, you have a mountain to climb – and while it will be tough, it’s by no means impossible. Countless businesses make it – despite the odds – and so can you! You just need to work hard and make sure you’re on point with your marketing efforts and you’re driving engagement.

In this mini-guide, High Click Media offers tried-and-tested insight on how new businesses can reliably find, draw in, and engage with modern-day consumers on a limited budget.

Understanding the Modern-Day Consumer

Before you craft a new marketing strategy, you need to ask yourself how well you understand your ideal customers – or any customers, for that matter. In order for your marketing endeavors to gain any traction, you have to play to the audience – understand your customers’ mindset and then communicate your message to match.

As the Visual Capitalist notes, modern consumers – Millennials and Generation Z, in particular – are significantly different from their predecessors. Here’s how:

  • Less Discretionary Income:  Thanks to increasing education, food, healthcare, and housing prices, modern-day consumers have less money to spend. Extra work – and consequently, tiredness and burnout – is common.
  • Delayed Life Goals:  More and more, these younger generations  are delaying major life goals like marriage, purchasing a house, and having children. This tendency makes them less likely to take risks or indulge in whimsical purchases.  
  • Greater Diversity:  The racial makeup of consumers is changing considerably. You should expect to be doing business with a seriously diverse crowd.
  • Reeling from the Latest Disaster: Last but not least, everyone – small businesses, in particular – is still struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
  • More Choices: If Walmart doesn’t have it, Amazon will. Consumers need you less than you need them – and they know it. 

In short, modern consumers are, for the most part, a busy, harried lot. They have less money than they’d like, so convincing them to part with what they have will be tough. They also have fewer needs and higher expectations overall.

How to Attract and Engage with Customers

The picture isn’t pretty. But, like Benjamin Franklin said, out of adversity, comes opportunity. Business owners can turn these circumstances to their advantage by utilizing more targeted, savvier marketing.

Respect Their Time

When you’re busy – like, working two jobs – and stressed out, you don’t have time to listen to a marketing monologue. In fact, even being subjected to such a monologue can leave a bad taste in your mouth and likely turn you off to the brand. Keep this in mind when communicating with customers. Come up with a clear, to-the-point message and then try to refine it to 15 words or less – just like an elevator pitch. Practice it until you can get your message across meaningfully, clearly, and impactfully. 

Treat Them with Kindness

Kindness is a new business trend, and for good reason. Life can be challenging for modern-day consumers, and kindness is a soothing balm for the soul. Consumers remember businesses that treat them with genuine kindness, speak well of them, and keep coming back. Show kindness to your customers by offering meaningful advice, prioritizing customer service, resolving their problems, and keeping things simple.

Prioritize Convenience 

Customers’ time is at a premium. If you make it easy for customers to do business with you, they’re going to appreciate it. Some ways to make doing business with you more convenient for customers include posting regular updates on social media, offering digital services, accepting multiple payment options, and providing greater flexibility with your products and services.

Institute a Loyalty Program  

Loyalty programs are an effective way to both attract new customers and retain existing ones. If customers receive discounts and deals that few others are receiving, they’re going to feel recognized, special, and privileged – and this will make them want to keep coming back!

Speak Their Language 

The modern-day consumer has solid values and cares about authenticity, transparency, sustainability, and other ethical concerns. When you include these values in your marketing message, it’s more meaningful and attractive to customers.

Be Authentic  

It’s not enough to talk the talk – your brand will have to walk the talk, too. Ethics is incredibly important in modern-day marketing, according to Hubspot, and customers can tell when brands are faking it. If you manage to be authentic, however, you’ll have an easier time winning customers’ trust.

Remember to Personalize 

It’s flattering when someone remembers you, including your choices and preferences. When it’s a business doing the remembering, that’s even better! Build up a profile for each of your customers – it’s easy with technology – and personalize your products and services through recommendations, suggestions, and generally being welcoming.  

Ask for Feedback  

Gathering feedback collected from customers and using it to make improvements is what separates great businesses from good ones. Sometimes we don’t see our shortcomings – or our greatest potential, for that matter – until other people point them out. Feedback can not only take your business to new heights, but also has the added benefit of making your customers feel valued.

Get People to Vouch for You

Customers are more likely to trust their friends and family over the words they read in an advertisement. Get your customers to vouch for you, in any number of ways, to build on your brand in the market. Some ways to do this include starting a referral program, featuring customer testimonials on your site, and offering incentives for customers to review your business.

Be Memorable

Having solid branding is essential. It creates a bigger impression on customers and makes it easier for them to remember you. Getting a DBA (doing business as) name is an effective marketing strategy. DBAs allow you to sell your products under a different, more memorable moniker – or even branch out into a new niche. Furthermore, it’s handy when you want to market your services under a new domain but your desired domain isn’t available. 

Emphasize the Human Touch

Last but not least is the human touch. Names and branding are obviously important – but people remember other people and how they make them feel better than anything else. Some ways to emphasize the human touch are offering face-to-face meetings, training your sales team well, and making it easy for your customers to get in touch with a human being on the phone. 

Final Thoughts

Being successful in business, like everything else in life, revolves around your ability to build and maintain relationships with people. Prove yourself a worthwhile business partner and your customers will be happy, remain loyal, and keep coming back. 

If you’re in the early phases of your new startup or small business and you’d like some help getting started with digital marketing, give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line at marketing@highclickmedia.com to see how we can help elevate your brand!

 

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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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How to Turn Your Followers Into Clients

One of the best ways to reach potential customers is through social media marketing. Social media allows you to build a brand presence, reach a wider audience, and engage with current and potential customers.

However, many business owners make some of the same mistakes when getting started on social media. For instance, they might limit themselves to creating awareness on a single platform. While this isn’t entirely unreasonable, you could be targeting the wrong audience.

Maybe this particular scenario describes you…

You’ve worked hard to build your follower base over time. Your content is amazing. You’re always sharing the best advice you can find. But something still isn’t right. Your conversion rate is low.

You’re finding it challenging to turn loyal followers into returning clients. This may be due to a number of reasons. But ultimately, it boils down to poor marketing strategies and tactics.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll explain how to convert your followers into clients as well as how to generate tons of leads via social media channels. Excited? Let’s dive in!

Start a Conversation

Create Unique Content

One of the most critical steps in converting followers into customers is to create unique content.

While it’s a good idea to consistently post on your social media accounts, if you keep posting the same kinds of content, you will quickly become ignored. Try to come up with some new and innovative ways to engage with your followers and potential customers.

If you can think of a way to reach out to your customers in a way that’s more interactive, go for it! You’ll find that this is one of the best ways to get more people interested in what you have to offer.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and invest time and money into developing new strategies for engaging with your customers. When everyone else is posting about the same boring things, your posts will stand out from the crowd.

Create Contests and Giveaways

Creating contests and giveaways is a great way to generate viral marketing for your business. Encouraging people to talk about your business by creating a contest can go a long way toward attracting more followers, clients, and customers.

A successful contest must have an objective that entrants can strive for. It should be fun, and engaging, and should also be easily measured. An excellent example of this is a contest to get the most tweets or Facebook likes.

To make the contest more enticing, you can offer prizes for the winner or runners-up. Be sure that your contest is easy to enter so all your followers will want to participate.

To further increase the number of entries, you could offer additional prizes for entrants who are creative enough to submit creative content such as photos, videos, or blog posts related to your product or business.

Turning followers into clients is more attainable than you might think. While you may assume that your content alone is enough to entice your audience, that isn’t always the case.

Today, social media platforms are littered with brands competing for brand awareness. In order to succeed at converting your followers into clients, you’ll have to be unique in your approach to positioning and branding your business. It’s essential to identify your unique selling proposition and maximize it effectively.

One of the easiest ways to turn followers into clients is by starting a conversation with them. Rather than merely posting content for the sake of doing so, engage with your community and ask relevant questions.

Be sure to respond to any comments or questions that visitors leave on your page. In doing so, you will show prospects that you’re interested in them – and that they’re being heard and valued by your company. This will help build trust with potential customers and make them feel like they’re more than just another potential sale.

To start a conversation with one of your followers: first, take a look at their profiles to see what types of things interest them and which companies or organizations they follow. Then, use that information to start a conversation with them.

Don’t introduce your website or product into the conversation directly when you do this. Demonstrate that you are an authority on the topic by giving more information than is asked for – and then mention your company as if it were an afterthought.

Build Relationships with Influential People in Your Industry

Like any other business, it takes money to make money – and social media is no exception. The problem with social media is that you can spend a lot of time and energy engaging with people for “free,” but there’s no guarantee that any of the relationships you build will lead to sales.

The secret to making sure your efforts are worthwhile is to focus on connecting with influencers – people who are capable of influencing the people you want to reach. There are several ways you can go about doing this.

Start by identifying influencers who are actively focusing on your particular niche or industry. You can learn more about them by searching for their names on LinkedIn, reading their blogs, and following them on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Take a closer look at prominent influencers’ social media accounts and see if they are posting links to content that’s relevant to your business (and your potential customers). You might also be able to find them by seeing who’s active in groups relevant to your niche or industry.

Once you’ve identified these influencers, engage with them by liking or commenting on their posts. Even if they don’t reply directly, they’ll see that you’re interacting with their content – and this might lead them to engage with yours as well. It’s a good idea to comment positively.

Take Advantage of Trending Topics

Businesses are often afraid to jump into a trending topic out of concern that their involvement will come off as inauthentic.

The fact is, if you’re not leveraging the opportunity that comes with trending hashtags, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to increase your awareness.

There are several ways to get involved in the conversation without forcing. If you want to be seen as an active participant, research the trend and make sure your answer is helpful and relevant to your target audience. Convince people that you’re an authority in their niche.

Once you’re recognized as an expert in the field, try linking your response to your business or industry. If you have something valuable to contribute, take the time to write out informative blog posts for the same. Ideally, your blog post should also point to your products or services as an ideal solution to readers’ problems.

The Bottom Line

Before you can convert followers into paying clients, you have to get them to know, like, and trust you. Building a social media following is time-consuming and requires a great deal of patience and consistency.

Once you’ve attracted your potential clientele, start sharing your work in subtle ways that encourage followers to contact you without forcing your work down their throats.

If you’re struggling to get started with social media marketing or you need help building your follower base and converting them into customers, HighClick Media is here for you!

We are a full-service digital marketing and web design agency, dedicated to helping grow businesses of all shapes and sizes by implementing comprehensive marketing solutions. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring extraordinary skill to every project, positioning your business for blistering success.

Whether you’re looking for a website refresh, social media marketing, or brand development, reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or dropping us a line here.

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Guest blogger Margie Heaneythe writes high-quality content and helps manage social media marketing efforts for Get Plus Followers. She helps save social media marketers time and money by finding active and engaging Instagram users for their personal profiles or business pages. Margie is proud to partner with LearningFuze, a premier coding and data science boot camp offering part-time or full-time courses, available in person or online.

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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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Finding the Right Balance Between Online & Offline Marketing

Finding The Right Balance Between Online & Offline Marketing

Before we can answer the question of how to find the right balance between online and offline marketing, we should begin by clarifying what these two methods of marketing are – and what makes each unique in its way. 

Online marketing can be defined as the new era of marketing where businesses can leverage the power of the internet and technology devices such as laptops, cell phones, and other digital media platforms.

Offline marketing is more traditional in its approach and is typically carried through platforms such as billboards, newspapers, radio, television, and leaflets.

The Balance Between Online and Offline Marketing

In today’s era, you can’t direct all your advertising and marketing efforts toward just one method. That will only get you so far. To truly increase your reach, you must integrate both online and offline marketing into your business strategies.

Due to budget constraints, many companies may assume that online marketing alone might be the best fit for their organization. What they may not realize is that with the right mix of online and offline marketing strategies, the company can optimize its interactivity with current and prospective customers.

When incorporating both online and online marketing into your business strategy, it’s important to create a healthy balance between the two. If you shift your strategies to one side more than the other, your marketing may not be as effective as it could otherwise be. 

Sometimes, these different marketing methods end up playing against each other, creating competition within your own strategies and complicating the overall process. In addition, budget restrictions may play a role in what type of strategy you ultimately choose.

Many businesses tend to rely more heavily on online marketing, as they believe it can have a larger reach with a limited budget. While this may be true, by incorporating offline marketing schemes into your overall strategy, you can enjoy the unique benefits that these provide as well, such as creating deeper relationships and loyalty with customers.

Factors to Consider When Creating a Balance

Be well aware of what impacts your business and where you stand in the business community.

To be able to successfully promote your business, you need to know every detail about it. You might be surprised by the number of owners and managers who think they know their business but can’t answer even the smallest questions.

Always take into consideration your audience and niche.

If you’re confused about who to target, your strategies will yield confusing results as well. Once you’ve locked in on your target audience, the strategies you choose to apply will naturally provide you with much more favorable results.

Last but not least, you must constantly ask for feedback.

Finding the right balance between online and offline marketing rarely happens on the first try. Sometimes it’s hit or miss until you finally achieve that perfect balance. By asking for feedback, you’re determining what methods are working and which aren’t fitting well with your target audience.

Start with a Solid Brand

Whether you’re considering online, offline, or some combination of the two, you shouldn’t start marketing until you have your branding nailed down. It’s crucial to create a brand logo that’s both unique and well-liked by your customers. A logo that truly stands out will remain in the minds of potential customers longer than one that’s simple, dull, or similar to other logos in the market.

Along with a great logo, you’ll also want to decide on other aspects of your brand, such as a slogan, font, color scheme, and mission statement. If your branding is inconsistent, your advertising campaigns might not penetrate the market in the way that they should.

Finding the Right Balance

So, what’s the right balance for your business? Fifty percent online and fifty percent offline? There’s no simple answer. You know your business better than anyone else, and you should do whatever best suits your specific business. For example, a house painter might choose to focus more on offline marketing methods, whereas a new local brewery might devote more of their efforts to online marketing where they know they’re likely to better reach their target audience.

While your business type may naturally lend itself to one form of marketing, it’s important not to focus exclusively on one avenue. It’s all about creating the right balance in order to generate the most impact from your marketing campaigns.

Need help getting started? HighClick Media can help! Our dedicated specialists can help develop a marketing strategy that’s geared specifically toward your business. If you’re just getting started, we can also help develop your brand to ensure that you stay top of mind with prospective customers. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or reach out to us 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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