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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9 Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign

9 Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign

For some business owners, even entertaining the thought of a website redesign can be headache-inducing. Between concerns that the project will be overly time-consuming and the possibility that it may cost more than you’re willing to pay, it can be a lot. Add to that the challenge of trying to decide which website-building platform to choose among the many on the market today.

We get it! That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you along in the process. First, let’s consider why you might want to have your website redesigned in the first place.

7 Signs It’s Time for a Website Redesign

  1. Your site hasn’t been updated in a while. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, most professionals agree that business websites should undergo a redesign every two to three years. As web design trends are constantly changing, what was considered attractive and aesthetically pleasing just a few years ago probably isn’t today. As rapidly as technology is advancing, any business website that hasn’t been upgraded in three years is unlikely to provide the best user experience to customers and potential clients. On top of that, when your site is regularly updated with valuable content Google takes notice – and that’s never a bad thing!
  2. Your site isn’t mobile-friendly. For most businesses, the majority of their website traffic comes from mobile users. Therefore, you need to make sure that your site performs as well on mobile devices as it does on desktops. A fully responsive website is simple to navigate on a smartphone, thanks to a mobile-friendly menu, easy-to-click buttons, and text that can be effortlessly read without having to zoom in. Not to mention the fact that Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites in search results.
  3. You’re not getting enough traffic to your site. If your website isn’t generating traffic, something needs to change. Perhaps your content isn’t optimized for Google searches, or you’ve failed to address broken features or duplicate content – neither of which Google is very fond of. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing battle between Google and your website. Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant results high up on the first page. If it’s been years since your website was last updated and your competitor’s site is updated often, Google will likely rank the competitor’s site ahead of yours.
  4. Your site isn’t converting visitors into paying customers. Are people visiting your website and leaving without taking any action? Are they spending scarcely any time on your pages before “bouncing“? If so, it’s obvious that while your site is easy to find in searches you aren’t delivering what visitors are looking for. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can monitor how customers are responding to your website’s current design. Low conversion rates could be a result of a site layout that isn’t compelling enough to persuade visitors to stick around. This is a clear indication that your site needs a makeover – and quickly!
  5. Your site looks and feels old. People like attractive things; it’s as simple as that. If your site layout is chaotic, cluttered, or just plain ugly, that’s not going to cut it with today’s consumers. An unappealing website can (and will) negatively affect how potential customers perceive your business. Is your website riddled with recurring “technical difficulties” that need to be addressed? Are there new features you want to introduce or outmoded functions (such as traffic counters or flashing banners) that need to be eliminated? If so, a website redesign is certainly warranted. Redesigning your site allows you to modernize the look and feel of it; you might choose to modify your brand colors and fonts, revamp your logo, or update the images and written content – the possibilities are endless!
  6. Your site isn’t performing well. If visitors encounter a bunch of broken (or “dead”) links, pages or images load slowly, users can’t easily access the information they’re looking for, the website is constantly crashing, or (as previously mentioned) it isn’t mobile-friendly, then it’s time for a website redesign. In short, if any part of your website isn’t functioning properly, consumers will quickly move on to another company offering similar services. A poor user experience can create an unfavorable impression of your business and can even negatively affect your search rankings. By contrast, a positive user experience will result in visitors spending more time on your site, increasing your potential to generate leads, engage with your market, and solidify your brand.
  7. Your site doesn’t clearly or accurately reflect your business in its current state. Your website is the digital face of your company – so, you’ll want to be sure it makes a good impression. After all, the first interaction that the majority of customers will have with your business is through your website. Accordingly, you’ll want to ensure that your site accurately represents the business as well as the products and services you offer. Over time, your business model, messaging, offerings, or priorities may have changed. Naturally, your website should be updated to reflect these changes. If you aren’t regularly refreshing the content on your site, people may incorrectly assume that you’re no longer in business or that you don’t value your online presence – in which case they’ll probably look elsewhere for a company to do business with.

What Is WordPress?

Since its humble beginnings as a blogging tool in 2003, WordPress has evolved into a robust content management system (CMS) and website-building platform. It’s the most popular CMS on the market today – in fact, over 43% of all websites worldwide are powered by WordPress!

In technical terms, WordPress is free and open-source software that uses the PHP scripting language to send and retrieve information from a MySQL database. In layman’s terms, WordPress is a web platform offering tons of features and functionalities without requiring a high level of expertise in web programming after the site is developed. 

Aside from the basic WordPress code itself, there are three major components to every WordPress installation: themes, plugins, and widgets.

A theme is a collection of files – specifically HTML and CSS files – that serve as a design template for your website. Themes define what the pages will look like without altering the content within those pages. You can choose to use a pre-built framework or have a theme custom-designed to suit your specific needs.

Similar to an app, a plugin is an extra bit of code that can be used to add customized functionality to your website depending on how you want it to work. Plugins allow you to expand the capabilities of your site beyond the features included with the basic WordPress installation. With the right mix of plugins, your site can run faster, look more attractive, and be more user-friendly than ever before.

Widgets are small blocks of content that you can drag and drop into the sidebar, header, footer, or other enabled areas of your site (depending on the theme you choose). Similar to plugins, widgets are used to add specific features or functions to your website without having to write any additional code. Common examples of widgets include recent blog articles you’ve posted, embedded social media feeds, fillable forms, calendars, and banner ads.

Why Should You Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign?

From startup website builders to more established CMS platforms, there are many options to choose from when you’re considering a website redesign. So, are there any clear advantages to using WordPress over any other platform on the market?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the top benefits of WordPress and offer 9 compelling reasons why this platform is perfect for your website redesign project.

WordPress Is Easy to Use, Update, & Manage

Initially, it may take some time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the WordPress platform. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that the user-friendly Dashboard interface makes it easy to add, remove, or modify content – such as text, images, videos, and effects – to web pages and blog posts. You can update and optimize your website structure, add navigation menus, and even customize your colors, fonts, and other design elements.

One of the greatest advantages of WordPress is that you don’t have to possess any prior knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, or any other programming language to effectively use WordPress – nor is it necessary to have any formal training or professional experience as a web designer or developer. 

As flexible and powerful a program as WordPress is, virtually anyone in your organization (who is authorized to do so) should be able to maintain your website quite easily. Assuming you have an internet connection and a web browser, you already have everything you need. If you’re familiar with any of the most popular word-processing programs, editing a page within WordPress will look very familiar to you.

WordPress’s visual editor – known as Gutenberg – allows you to add or modify content without ever seeing your site’s code. The simple interface features a toolbar with text editors, formatting tools, and the ability to upload media files in various formats. When you’re done making changes in Gutenberg, WordPress automatically updates the code on your website to reflect those changes.

A Word About Website Structure

Website structure refers to how your content is organized, interconnected, and presented to visitors across the various posts and pages of your site.

Having a good website structure can improve the user experience of your site by providing visitors with the information they need while making it easy for them to navigate to other relevant pages. Creating an orderly site structure also makes it easier to keep track of the various pages on your site.

Website structure is also a major factor that Google considers when assigning a rank to a site. When Google detects that visitors can quickly find the information they’re seeking on a website, Google is more likely to recommend the site as useful by ranking it higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). WordPress’s user-friendly interface allows you to create a clean, simple-to-navigate website structure that’s designed to appease users and search engines alike.

WordPress Sites Are Fully Customizable

With a wide selection of free and premium WordPress themes and plugins on the market, it’s entirely possible to build a fully customized website that caters to the specific needs of your business.

Currently, there are over 31,000 WordPress themes – more than 9,000 of which are free – that you can choose from to create a basic layout and structure for your website. Themes range in price from being completely free to $299, with the average cost being around $40. Even if you do end up having to pay for a theme, the cost will still be considerably less than if you were to hire someone to custom-develop your theme.

While many of these themes can be found on WordPress.org, several third-party websites also offer plenty of great options. As there are themes available for every industry imaginable, the real challenge isn’t finding what you need – it’s choosing the one you like the best.

Keep in mind that not every off-the-shelf theme has to match the design you have in mind. While it’s highly likely that the theme you end up choosing will be one that other businesses have previously used, that doesn’t mean your site is going to look exactly like someone else’s.

While some free or low-cost themes have only minor customization options and are generally intended to be used “as is,” the more robust off-the-shelf themes can be configured and customized as much as you want and still give you the website you need – at a tiny fraction of the cost of custom development.

Take the time to scour through the myriad off-the-shelf themes available and find one that’s high-quality, well-reviewed, and comes as close as possible to what you want by default. You’ll thank yourself later.

Plugins serve many important functions on your website, both on the front end in terms of user experience and on the back end for overall site performance. Like themes, WordPress also offers a wide range of plugins that you can add to your site. Some plugins are offered for free, some at a cost, and some have both options (these are often referred to as “freemium” plugins).

There are currently over 59,000 WordPress plugins to choose from on the WordPress.org website. If you can’t find a suitable solution from WordPress’s database, you can comb through the directories of third-party providers and independent developers to find what you’re looking for.

Imagine any task a typical website may need to complete, any problem it may need to solve, and any feature it may need to offer, and there’s probably a plugin for it. Of course, having thousands of plugins to choose from can be overwhelming. That said, there are certain essential WordPress plugins we recommended adding to every website:

  • Contact Form: This gives your website visitors a way to reach out to you and allows you to get back in touch with them as well.
  • Analytics: This allows you to see how many visitors your site is getting, how much time they’re spending on the site, and what actions they might be taking.
  • SEO: This allows you to optimize the content on your site to attract more traffic from Google searches.

Depending on the specific needs of your business, you might want to add plugins that enable advanced features such as foreign language translation, online payments, appointment bookings, multi-factor authentication, and social media integration.

WordPress Is Versatile & Scalable

In the beginning, WordPress was largely regarded as nothing more than a blogging platform. But over the years, it has progressed to become a powerful platform that you can use to produce virtually any type of website

Whether you’re looking to build a full-service website, you simply want to create or blog, or you want to incorporate a blog component into your existing site, WordPress is up to the task. You can construct a static homepage with static pages behind it or dynamic pages with drop-down menus. You can create customized landing pages to sell your products or easily add image galleries and social media links to encourage user engagement. The possibilities are endless!

In addition, given that WordPress is highly compatible with many other website builders, the platform is perfect for redesign projects. The flexibility of WordPress makes redesigning an existing website simple, convenient, and affordable.

Scalability is another important advantage of WordPress. As your business grows and changes, your website needs to be able to grow and change along with it. Fortunately, WordPress makes that process easy.

The WordPress platform is cleanly coded and well-equipped to handle massive amounts of traffic. If you should encounter a performance bottleneck, there are plenty of plugins you can install to help with scaling by performing tasks such as caching, compression, resource minification, and image optimization. Once installed, these plugins allow your site to accommodate more traffic without buckling under pressure.

WordPress Is Mobile-Responsive

These days, people spend more time surfing the web on their mobile devices than they do on desktop computers. Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices won’t perform well for visitors trying to access them with smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. Users may struggle to read text, view images, or click links on your site.

Most people won’t think twice about ditching a website that doesn’t load properly or function as it should on their mobile devices. With millions of results available in every Google search, it’s all too easy to simply look elsewhere to find the information they’re seeking.

Over the last few years, Google has placed greater emphasis on websites’ mobile responsiveness. In 2018, Google officially announced that it would be taking a “mobile-first” approach to search rankings. This means that the search engine now primarily uses the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking. While it isn’t required to have a mobile version of your for your content to be included in Google’s search results, it is strongly recommended.

Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to create a mobile-responsive site that loads smoothly on all devices. Most WordPress themes are designed to be mobile-friendly by default, so you don’t need to worry about your site being inaccessible to mobile users.

Moreover, when you update your theme for desktop, the mobile version of the theme is automatically updated as well. So, you can rest assured that your website will look equally as good on smartphones as it does on desktops.

Another great perk about WordPress? Since the Dashboard is also designed to be mobile-friendly, you can easily manage and update your website anywhere, whether you’re on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

WordPress Is SEO-Friendly

SEO involves lots of keyword research and search metric analysis – and it’s an essential component of any high-performing website. That said, the technical SEO process can be extremely complicated, especially if you aren’t familiar with the terminology and tools involved.

While WordPress won’t automatically optimize your site for search engines, the platform does come uniquely equipped to assist you in your SEO efforts.

Here are just a few reasons why WordPress is great for SEO:

For these reasons alone, it’s no wonder that WordPress websites are much more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites built with other platforms. Better ranking means more visitors to your site, and having more visitors greatly increases your chances of boosting profits.

While some SEO-enhancing aspects are built into the framework of WordPress, still others can be implemented by adding plugins specifically designed for search engine optimization

These plugins can be used to help optimize the content on web pages by providing instant audits of your on-page optimization efforts as well as managing key SEO data such as H1 titles, meta descriptions, meta titles, keyword embedding, and schema markup. In short, SEO plugins are designed to do everything possible to ensure that your site appears more often and higher up in SERPs.

Yoast SEO, one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins, gives step-by-step information on how well (or not so well) your content will rank and provides clear guides for how to improve your site’s readability for search engines and users.

All-In-One SEO is another great SEO plugin that’s easy to use but incredibly powerful; we can recommend this plugin with confidence, as we use it on our company’s websites.

WordPress Is Safe & Secure

Having a secure website is central to maintaining a business’s good reputation. If your website is an easy target for hackers, your visitors may be confronted with inappropriate content or even be exposed to dangerous viruses and malware. If you have an ecommerce site, security is even more critical. After all, your customers are relying on you to provide a secure interface for entering and storing their personal information and credit card numbers.

While WordPress sites aren’t impervious to cyberattacks, they’re generally better protected against unauthorized access than sites built with other CMS platforms. When a WordPress website does get hacked, it’s usually because the site is utilizing questionable themes and/or plugins, is hosted by unreliable providers, or has been compromised due to a paucity of basic password literacy. In short, the problem doesn’t lie with the platform itself. Considering that WordPress powers well over 40% of all websites globally, it’s merely a statistical coincidence that WordPress-based sites appear to be targeted more often than non-WordPress websites.

That said, you still need to have a strategy in place to make sure that your website is continuously monitored and backed up frequently in the event of a catastrophe. Aside from enlisting the services of a reliable managed IT services provider (we can recommend a really good one!), you can also install security-focused WordPress plugins to further safeguard your website against hackers, malware, and other threats. These plugins can be used to implement features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), limiting failed login attempts, and scanning your site for vulnerabilities.

At HighClick Media, we highly recommend adding the Sucuri plugin to your WordPress site. Sucuri creates multiple layers of security to help protect your website from hackers, malware, DDoS attacks, and blacklists; provides continuous website monitoring and site scanning; plugs any security leaks or loopholes it may detect; and can even make your website faster in terms of speed and performance.

WordPress developers are constantly making improvements to the platform to ensure that it runs smoothly. Security updates are rolled out regularly as new cyberthreats arise, addressing and promptly correcting any possible gaps detected in the platform’s defenses.

Users are informed whenever security updates are required, and these updates are easy for users to make. By updating to the latest version of the WordPress core, you’re decreasing the chances of your website falling victim to cyberattacks and ensuring that everything continues to work properly.

WordPress Benefits from a Thriving Developer & Support Community

Because WordPress is open-source software and has been adopted by so many individuals and organizations around the world, the platform enjoys a sizable and active community of contributors

This highly engaged community – comprising thousands of users, developers, designers, and business owners – has created a vast array of plugins, help sites, and forums for discussing issues surrounding WordPress and suggesting solutions to common (and uncommon) problems.

Since community members are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with others, you’ll never be at a loss for invaluable resources that offer the support you need to manage and update your WordPress website.

On the official WordPress website, you’ll find a wealth of reference materials, training courses, how-to video tutorials, and support forums to help you take full advantage of the platform’s potential. Offsite, there are numerous independent forums and Facebook groups to further help get your questions answered.

The WordPress community also engages in lots of outreach to users, hosting WordPress camps around the world and supporting the growth of local WordPress user groups.

WordPress Is Cost-Effective

Whether you’re just getting started or your business is already well-established, you’re probably looking to keep expenses as low as possible. Choosing WordPress for your website redesign project is one way to save money.

Nearly all DIY website builders such as Wix and Squarespace place commercial restrictions and limitations on what you can and can’t do with their programs. Not so with WordPress. That’s because WordPress is open-source software, which means that it’s free to download, install, use, and modify in any way you choose.

Keep in mind that while the software itself is free, you’ll still have to acquire a domain name (which can be free but usually comes at a minimal cost) and pay for web hosting; and you’ll most likely have to spend some money on themes and plugins as well.

A domain name is the internet equivalent of a website’s physical address. It’s the text that users type into a browser’s search bar to directly access your website.

If the domain name is the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that the address points to. Web hosting is where all your website files are housed, served, and maintained, and it’s what makes your website content accessible to other users on the internet.

WordPress Is Time-Tested & Trusted By Many

Website builders come and go – even the big names can fade from view (remember GeoCities?). WordPress, however, is far more likely to stick around for the long haul. This is because open-source software like WordPress isn’t maintained by a single person or business entity. Even if WordPress were to cease to exist (which is extremely unlikely), any competent developer could simply copy its source code and launch “new” software with a different name in a matter of minutes (a maneuver known as “forking.”)

In the 19 years since its original release, WordPress has been tested, fine-tuned, expanded, and optimized time and time again. Throughout its evolution, WordPress has become a first-class web publishing platform that’s well-suited to meet virtually any website’s needs. Millions of users worldwide benefit from WordPress; it’s available in over 53 languages and propels thousands of multilingual websites as well.

It isn’t just small- and medium-sized businesses that are using the platform, either. According to data from BuiltWith, WordPress powers over 36% of the top 1 million websites (based on site traffic). Many leading brands and organizations in a variety of business sectors rely on WordPress to power their websites and blogs. 

Chances are, you will have heard of a few of these companies:

Final Thoughts

For many business owners, the choice between having a website custom-developed versus going with a more ready-made solution such as WordPress is not an easy task. We hope this guide has been helpful in assisting you with that decision.

As we’ve detailed here, WordPress is designed to be easy for everyone to use (not just web developers), allows you to create any type of website you need (whether it’s an ecommerce store, online forum, marketplace, membership site, or just about anything else you can think of), and provides a wide range of tools and options for customizing the site you’re creating. The platform allows you to create a site that looks and performs equally well on mobile devices as it does on desktops, scales easily if you need to add more pages or features as your business grows, and positively contributes to your overall SEO efforts

WordPress sites are uniquely positioned to withstand some of the most common cyberattacks and can be bolstered further through the use of security plugins. Thanks to a passionate support community, WordPress users have ready access to the information they need whenever they need it. A WordPress site is relatively inexpensive to create, requiring only minimal investments towards domain name acquisition, web hosting, and plugins/themes. Finally, WordPress is a tried-and-tested solution for creating any and every type of website.

In short, choosing WordPress for your website redesign project is one of the smartest decisions you can make as a business owner.

HighClick Media Can Help You with Your WordPress Website Redesign

Redesigning a website can be a complicated process, especially when you have a site with a lot of moving parts. While WordPress positions itself as a platform that anyone can use to build a website – and to a certain extent, this is true – creating a site that’s both fully functional and professionally designed often requires an expert touch.

Just because you can build a site on your own, thanks to WordPress’s impressive arsenal of tools, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good site. After all, you want to make sure everything works flawlessly and that the user experience is configured in such a way that the website will contribute to – not hamper – the performance of your business.

If you need more advanced functionality or a custom-developed theme to help you further stand out from the crowd, partnering with a professional WordPress web design and development company might be the way to go.

Once the redesign project is complete and your site is up and running, your web development partner will train you and all other authorized users on how to access the backend of WordPress so that you’re better prepared to make future updates to the site on your own.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your website (or even building a brand-new site from scratch), we at HighClick Media wholeheartedly recommend using WordPress as your preferred platform – and we can help make your design project happen, too! When you partner with HighClick Media, we’ll work with you to determine how best to approach your website project to maximize your online presence and #elevateyourbrand! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to schedule a website design consultation!

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5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

Is your business ready for the transition to the metaverse? Yeah, we get it – that’s a loaded question! After all, there’s still a fair bit of speculation and rumors about exactly what’s involved with the metaverse and what it will mean for us and our businesses.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed businesses placing a greater emphasis on ecommerce and digital transformation – thanks in large part to the global pandemic. But we’re also seeing businesses begin to shift their attention even further toward digital as the virtual world becomes less of a fantastical idea and closer to reality.

With internet users spending more time online than ever before, and many small businesses falling on hard times, it’s time for us to rethink how we will connect with our audiences going forward.

In this article, we’ll explore five ways to help your small business weather the world-changing transition to the metaverse – and thrive in its aftermath.

Know Your Niche

The concept of the metaverse – connecting people to technology (and vice versa) using virtual and augmented reality – isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea has actually been kicked around for decades, to varying degrees of execution.

No one seems to agree, or know for sure when the metaverse concept was originally conceived; it’s equally difficult to find an agreed-upon definition of what the reality of the metaverse means for us now.

What’s certain is that the first (and perhaps best) way to make sure your small business is ready for this new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can make the most of technology to achieve your goals.

For one company, that might mean developing better AI in order to be able to better address customer questions through your website. For another, it might entail creating an entire virtual reality world that allows potential buyers to examine products before buying them as though they were actually there with the items.

Let’s face it: you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, only you can determine what the metaverse can (or can’t) do for your business.

Consider Updating Your Branding

With new tech initiatives and the emergence of newer, more diverse social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is a great time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.

One of the great things about the metaverse is its focus on connectivity. Startups and small businesses alike must ensure that the visual aspects of their messaging make clear how important communication is to the business. As one of the founding values behind the metaverse, paying special attention to your visual branding must always be a top priority.

Claim and Update Your Business on Search Engines

More than half of business owners haven’t claimed their company’s listings on tools like Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This is a huge mistake!

Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in today’s digital world. Without it, you’ll miss out on countless opportunities to drive traffic to your site, or to the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information they need when they need it.

Keeping this information up to date is just as important, particularly for things like holidays or hours of operation, as incorrect information could easily turn off potential customers.

I am not ready for that.

Don’t Abandon the Old Ways Too Quickly

Try to avoid the temptation to go “all virtual, all the time” too soon. Yes, the idea of the metaverse is exciting, and it’s likely that at least some of your customer base will be ready for it.

But good business dictates that you should always give the customer what they want – and the majority of consumers aren’t quite ready for this new way of doing business. At least not yet.

Even as you’re positioning your business to be ready for “the next big thing,” don’t be too hasty to cast aside the old ways completely. Many of your customers are going to want to stick with what they’re used to, for as long as possible. You should continue to give your audience the option to engage with your brand through more traditional methods.

Remain Adaptable

Last but certainly not least, be ready for anything! One thing that many entrepreneurs and small business owners know well is that right about the time you get comfortable, that’s when change comes fast and furious!

Sure, we have an exciting future ahead of us, thanks to an increasing tech-minded push, and it’s going to change the way we view and interact with our world. But if you get too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project, you might not see what’s coming up next week.

 
 

Final Thoughts

Transformation is coming – that’s a given. How will your small business ride out these changes over the next decade? Well, that’s up to you. At the very least, you should be prepared for what comes next.

If you need help transforming your business for the digital age, HighClick Media can help! Whether you’re looking to update your website, get started with social media marketing, or optimize your website for search engines so it’s easier to be found online, we have a solution that’s right for you! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help elevate your brand!

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An earlier version of this article appeared on Entrepreneur’s website and can be found here.

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Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

 

Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be massively beneficial for businesses of all sizes when it comes to marketing. Whether you’re looking to expand your customer base or gain an edge over your competition, there are several simple, cost-effective ways to utilize SEO. When partnered with creative brand design and social media usage, SEO can help your business gain credibility and get a foothold in your field.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few key strategies to help boost your company’s search rankings online in order to get new customers to come to you.

 

Get Help with Your SEO

Get Help from SEO Professionals

In this age of technology, it’s essential for even the smallest businesses to have solid search rankings on Google. As more and more consumers rely on their phones for everything from driving directions to shopping, you’ll want to ensure they can easily find your business, get in touch with you, and buy products with the push of a button.

Enlisting the services of SEO professionals to help optimize your rankings in Google searches as well as on Google Maps can go a long way. The more mobile-friendly your business is, the better chance you’ll have of finding – and keeping – a larger customer base.

 

Website Accessibility

Make Sure Your Website Is Accessible

Not only is it important to give your customers lots of options when it comes to your business, but it’s also equally crucial to make your website as accessible as possible and to load it up with high-quality content. You can utilize several types of media on your site to make your business more visible in searches, from multiple links to videos. Just don’t forget to make sure all of your customers can benefit from them. Using captions, alt text (a written description of an image), and font options will help differently-abled customers easily interact with your products and marketing, among other tactics.

 

Keep Your Content Fresh with Frequent Updates

Keep Web Content Fresh with Frequent Updates

Whether you have videos, written blog posts, or photos on your site, you’ll want to ensure that your content is updated frequently. The more you refresh your content, the more traffic you’ll drive to the site – and increased traffic has a direct effect on your search engine rankings.

Every time you post something new, keep possible keywords in mind that are relevant to your customers. What would they type into Google when looking for your specific products or services? Try to keep these keywords as unique as possible on your website pages to prevent disruptions to Google’s algorithm. You can use online resources to figure out the best keywords and placement on your site, as well as tools that demonstrate how to write good content.

One important way to keep existing customers engaged with your content – and potentially convert leads into customers – is to make use of email marketing. An effective email campaign will help boost sales, keep your business in regular contact with its target audience, and directly promote your products and services. Connecting with your audience via email on a weekly basis helps balance your need to keep them engaged against the desire not to be overbearing.

 

Take Advantage of Google's SEO Tools

Take Advantage of Google’s SEO Tools

One essential online resource for small businesses is Google Analytics, which helps you track the performance of your website pages and provides lots of information about your customers, such as which social media platforms they used to find your business. Not only that, it can give you valuable insights about your competitors that could prove advantageous throughout the year. You can use these metrics as a guideline for taking your business to the next level or to learn where you could benefit from changing things up.

Becoming proficient with Google Analytics can be a daunting task for new users. Fortunately, there are many guides available online to introduce its tools to new users in order to facilitate a productive learning experience. A good guide will walk you through setting up your account, analyzing your SEO performance, and evaluating reports.

 

Final Thoughts About Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Final Thoughts

SEO is an invaluable tool for businesses of any size, and there are many ways to utilize these tactics. Do some research on the best ways to integrate search engine optimization into your standard practices, and get help from professionals like the folks at HighClick Media who can assist you in making the most of your website, social media accounts, and overall marketing strategy.

If you need help with any of these aspects of your digital marketing, we’re happy to help you out! Drop us a line here or call us at 252.814.2150 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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How to Generate Leads for Your Business with Digital Marketing

How To Generate Leads for Your Business with Digital Marketing

If you haven’t already, it’s time to face the facts: the digital age has altered the way we conduct business forever. Gone are the days when promoting your business meant taking out an ad in the newspaper or going door-to-door with flyers.

These days, when seeking a product or service, the first thing most people do is reach for their laptop or mobile device and search for what they need – typically via a search engine or social media platform. In fact, nearly 90% of shoppers perform online research before making a purchase. Accordingly, conventional sales and marketing tactics have evolved to adapt to these behaviors.

Today’s marketers, salespeople, and brands must put themselves in the shoes of their prospective customers. Can your target audience carry out a quick Google search and easily discover your brand and specific products or services online? Is your message reaching the right prospects through your social media channels and campaigns?

As organizations continue to adjust to a digital sales environment, many are experimenting with online lead-generation campaigns aimed at bringing in new prospects that they can eventually convert into paying customers.

Using proven digital marketing methods, your business can build a solid lead-generation strategy that will attract new customers and boost sales in a cost-effective way.

WHAT IS A LEAD?

Before proceeding any further, we should probably define exactly what a lead is. According to HubSpot, a lead is any person who shows interest – whether implicitly or explicitly – in a company’s products or services in some way, shape, or form.

Rather than receiving a random cold call from someone who might have purchased their contact information, leads usually hear from a business or organization after initiating communication – typically by volunteering their personal information for an offer, trial, or subscription.

WHAT IS LEAD GENERATION – AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

While we’re at it, we should also clarify what lead generation is, and why it’s important for your business.

According to HubSpot, lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into people who are interested in your company’s products and services.

Implementing a lead-generation strategy can help get your marketing messages heard across various channels, thus boosting brand awareness, creating demand for your products and services, and establishing relationships with potential customers.

From a digital marketing perspective, the overarching idea behind lead generation is to bring traffic to your website, convert website visitors into leads, and ultimately convert those leads into customers. By gradually warming up prospects to your brand, you set up your sales team for greater success and help drive revenue for the business.

HOW TO GENERATE LEADS THROUGH DIGITAL MARKETING

It’s important to note that there is no generic formula that works equally well for all businesses. A lead-generation method that may be effective for one company might fall flat for yours. A number of factors come into play here, including the type of business you have, the kinds of products you sell, and properly identifying your target audience, to name a few.

There are any number of promotional channels you can use to steer traffic to your website in order to start generating leads. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common digital marketing techniques that have proved to be successful for many organizations:

Content Marketing

Content marketing involves “creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience to drive profitable customer action.”

Common forms of content marketing include blogs, articles, infographics, videos, and social media posts.

The ultimate goal of content marketing isn’t to sell your product or service – rather, you want to build trust and authority around your brand. Instead of delivering an obvious sales pitch, offer meaningful solutions to specific problems that customers are experiencing and position your brand and its products and services as the natural remedy.

Effective content marketing helps improve online visibility, boost brand awareness, increase website traffic, and attract more credible leads. In addition, when your audience notices that you’re consistently posting useful information, they’ll presume that you’re good at what you do – which naturally helps build confidence in your business.

Having a great deal of interesting content on your website will also encourage visitors to spend more time on each page. When Google sees that people are spending a lot of time reading your content, this sends a positive signal that people are finding your pages helpful – which, in turn, has a positive impact on your Google search rankings.

Gated content is a surefire way to generate leads, as this type of content is only available to people who agree to fill out a special form to access it. It’s a fair exchange for both parties – you get the contact information of a new lead and a potential customer gains access to your special content. Popular forms of gated content include case studies, whitepapers, reports, e-books, and how-to guides.

 

Pro Tips for Successful Content Marketing:

  • Regularly post blogs, news, and tips about or related to your industry. This helps further establish your expertise in the field.
  • Organic search is the largest source of high-quality leads – so spend some time optimizing your content for search engines so that users can find it easily.
  • Research your target audience thoroughly so that the content you create aligns with users’ search intent – in other words, seek to answer the questions they’re already asking and provide the info they’re already searching for.
  • Promote your content on your social media sites and in emails. Great content won’t make a bit of difference if people can’t find it!

Email Marketing

Despite the fact that it’s one of the earliest forms of digital marketing, email is still one of the most effective methods for gaining and nurturing leads. In truth, the first point of entry to a lead is often an email. Virtually everyone who’s active online has an email address – and that isn’t going to change anytime soon!

Email marketing can consist of newsletters with updates on your organization, announcements about special promotions, and exclusive offers for subscribers.

With today’s technology, you can achieve more favorable results with your emails through audience segmentation. In essence, you can tailor your email marketing messages to target specific segments of your customer database. In doing so, you make your brand relevant to a greater number of people.

Email is a surefire way to reach people who are already familiar with your brand, products, or services. Done right, this marketing channel helps bolster trust between your organization and current or potential clients.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has unquestionably become one of the most powerful avenues for marketing. With over 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone, it’s a safe bet that most of your potential customers have and use at least one social media account. Currently, the most popular platforms for driving traffic to your website and acquiring leads are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Through social media, you can connect with your target audience directly, gradually build relationships with them, and in due course convert those followers into leads. In order for your efforts to be successful, you’ll have to invest time and effort into building an engaged audience.

Instead of flooding your followers with a slew of special offers, speak to them about their desires and challenges. By interacting with users on a personal level, you not only start to earn their trust but also humanize your brand in the process – the importance of which cannot be understated.

It’s essential that you know your target audience well in order to determine which social media platforms they use frequently so you can reach them where they are. Don’t expect to succeed by simply setting up accounts on every social media channel available, then interacting with your audiences once a week – consistency is key. Ideally, you should establish a presence on 1 to 3 social media channels and start posting meaningful and relevant content on a regular basis.

Resist the temptation to use social media simply as a platform to talk about yourself. Rather, use it to discuss news about your industry, share tips that aren’t necessarily written by your team, and always welcome open discussions. An active business social media account can go a long way toward promoting your brand as a thought leader and expert in the field.

Pro Tips for Effective Social Media Marketing:

  • Be sure that your social media profiles include all the important information users might need to get in touch with you, including hours of operation, physical address, website URL, and other contact info.
  • Showcasing your company culture on social media can give your brand a distinctive personality online. Don’t hesitate to share pictures, videos, and anything else that might give users an inside look at your company.
  • Many people visit social media sites simply to be entertained. When composing your social media posts, be sure to maintain a casual, not-too-serious tone. This can form a stronger connection with your audience.
  • That being said, each social media platform has a different vibe. Strive to “read the room” and change your tone based on the platform you’re using, while still retaining the ethos of your brand.
  • Center your social media efforts on interaction and engagement. It makes no difference if you’re posting a hundred times a day on Twitter. If nobody’s engaging with those posts, you’re wasting your time!
  • Always remember that social media is a two-way street. By sharing and commenting on your followers’ content, you show that you’re an active participant in the relationship you’re building with them.
  • If you’re considering running paid advertising on social media, Facebook Lead Ads is a good place to start. This type of advertisement provides a quick and simple way for users to share their contact info with you without ever having to leave Facebook or visit your website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ranking high in organic searches is likely one of the most beneficial long-term lead-generation strategies there is. Yet, with over two hundred factors determining how Google will rank your website within search engine result pages (SERPs), it can be difficult to know where to start.

Being at or near the top of Google SERPs is especially critical when you consider that 75% of people won’t ever advance beyond the first page of results. With Google receiving over 1 billion searches per month, if you’re not laying claim to your rightful place in those searches, how can you hope to drive the website traffic needed to generate leads?

The solution is search engine optimization (SEO). The goal of SEO is to improve your website’s rankings in SERPs for specific keywords and phrases. If someone is looking something up online and your website appears first in search results, there’s a good probability that they will engage with your website in some form or fashion.

As with many other aspects of the digital world, the rules of SEO change regularly, especially as technology advances. But this doesn’t mean you can’t gain some degree of control over your rankings.

SEO is primarily driven by your chosen keywords and how you map them to relate back to your website. This process can be complicated, and is generally best left to marketing professionals. However, there are a couple of things you can do on your own which will make a positive impact.

You can start by making sure that your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone) is consistent on your website, as well as within online directories such as Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business.

Make it simple for your customers to leave a review on your website. Additionally, reviews on third-party platforms can greatly increase your chances of being found by qualified prospects – without having to pay a dime! So, don’t hesitate to ask your satisfied customers to put in a good word for you.

Website Optimization

Having a business website is a critical component of marketing your brand – think of it as your digital business card. Indeed, the overall aim of digital marketing is to propel traffic to your website. But nearly 96% of users who visit your website aren’t yet prepared to make a purchase. Your website has to persuade visitors to buy your products or services.

Is the design of your website and landing pages sleek and contemporary? Are pages loading quickly enough? Are all internal links routing to the correct web page? These are the kinds of questions you need to regularly address in order to successfully generate leads through your site.

Though having a slick, professional appearance can make your brand look modern and well-informed, it’s not what matters most to your target audience.

Website visitors would prefer to interact with a website that’s easy to navigate. If it isn’t, visitors are unlikely to spend a great deal of time on your website – let alone convert to customers. Loading errors, lag speed, and poor user interface can actually drive traffic away rather than drawing more in.

In addition, Google deems it essential that websites be more mobile-friendly. If not optimized for a seamless experience on users’ smartphones, your website can actually be penalized by being ranked lower in search results.

Building optimized web pages for your business is the secret to driving traffic to your website and to convert those who are “just visiting” into leads. Experienced web developers and web designers can make sure that both your website and your landing pages – which are essential to driving leads, since these pages are often where most of your website leads will be generated from – are fully optimized.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) is an online advertising framework that businesses draw on to drive traffic, sales, or inquiries from their target audience. With PPC, an advertiser runs an ad on an online platform such as Google Ads and pays a fee every time someone clicks on the ad. PPC platforms provide an impressive depth of targeting, which is to say you can deliver ads exclusively to those who you deem to fit your customer demographic.

PPC uses keywords in a similar fashion to SEO – accordingly, you’ll need to decide which keywords you want to target with each campaign. These keywords will trigger your ads to appear at the top of search results.

Pay-per-click is ideal for generating new leads because it attracts “qualified” traffic – that is, users who have already shown interest in your products. In fact, PPC visitors are 50% more likely to make a purchase than visitors from organic searches.

Setting up and running a PPC campaign can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to it. Oftentimes, the best approach is to partner with a reputable digital marketing agency that specializes in PPC advertising.

Chatbots

Marketing is all about identifying your target audience and communicating how your product or service can address and resolve their problems. In today’s customer-centric market, chatbots are immensely popular as customers enjoy interacting with them.

A lead-generation chatbot essentially serves as the first point of contact with a new user and signifies the beginning of your brand’s relationship with them. Chatbots are engineered to interact with site visitors in a conversational way. A chatbot’s primary goal is to anticipate what the user is going to ask and to provide a response that’s entertaining, engaging, and educational. The longer a user communicates with a chatbot, the more data is amassed.

Lead chatbots are designed to collect contact information from prospects in order to convey the data to sales professionals who can then continue the conversation and ultimately convert those leads into customers. They’ve proven to be highly effective, too – in fact, chatbots convert 4x higher than traditional lead-generation tools.

The benefits of chatbots for lead generation are practically limitless. Here are just a few of the more obvious advantages:

  1. Available to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  2. Meet the needs and interests of prospective customers by offering relevant products and services.
  3. Address customer queries in real time and proactively provide pertinent information to users.
  4. Direct quality leads to arrange initial sales meetings by gathering essential info, suggesting times, and sending booking confirmations to meeting participants.
  5. Increase operational efficiency, delivering cost savings to the business while providing greater customer satisfaction.

While chatbots are seldom qualified to answer visitors’ more complicated queries or executing the final steps of the sales process – both of which necessitate a human touch – for more direct approaches like those listed above, these marketing automation tools can be valuable straight out of the gate.

Final Thoughts

Generating leads for your business might seem like a challenging task, but it’s essential if you want to drive revenue. By employing these proven digital marketing methods, you can increase the number of leads your business generates and ultimately improve your chances of increased sales.

If you’re just starting out or still struggling to find ways to grow your business, we’d love to partner with you! HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC advertising, social media and email marketing, content development, and website optimization. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or visit our website to see all that we offer!

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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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