The cloud, social media marketing, and the mobile-first web are changing what customers expect from your online brand and how we design websites. The cloud changes everything from backups to the use and integration of microservices and Applications Program Interfaces (APIs).
Social media marketing has changed how and what your customers want from your communication, branding, and content. Email marketing is challenging when social media has images that move, is easy to share and discuss with friends, and is where your customers spend so much time.
When every customer has a smartphone, your content must move from "responsive" to "mobile-first." Mobile-first creates content, stories, and branding that looks good on smartphones and tablets. But, unfortunately, your content, website, and brand may never make it onto customers' pads, laptops, and desktop computers if you aren't winning smartphone hearts and minds.
These three trends - the cloud, social media, and mobile-first - mean your website must do more. Here are five things your website can do without spending much (or any) money:
As we shared in Start with Why, About Us pages are arguably the most critical content on your site. If you can't tell an exciting, compelling story on a page about your company, brands, and founding, chances are other pages won't excite or compel.
It is essential to realize what you can and can't do on a website. For example, you can tell great factual stories but leave hype, recommendations, and praise to others. We don't recommend creating a "testimonials" page these days, but including honest customer feedback throughout your site is an important and much-needed idea because praise from others, when authentic and with attribution, helps build trust.
Let's say a customer leaves a great comment about how much they appreciated your timely assistance. Always say thanks for the comment and ask permission to use the feedback on another page with attribution. Here are ways we like to attribute content:
Create contributor profile page with picture, name (usually only first name for security), location, and social links.
Attribution with name and location (city and state) creates trust.
Secure Contributor Attribution
Some contributors' names are so distinctive you should consider requesting and using a screen name for attribution so screen name, city, state for their security protection.
I stumbled on "social attribution" when my friend Phil Buckley shared a compliment on LinkedIn. I added Phi's picture and linked it to his comment on my personal blog. Linking Phil's LinkedIn comment creates trust, shares traffic with Phil's profile (an excellent way to say thank you), and uses social media to carry much of the attribution work described above.
CTAs tell visitors what you want them to do and why. Today, we won’t review what a CTA is or isn’t or how to write great CTAs. There are many sites with that information, and we promise to add our two cents soon, but we will share examples of five websites with innovative homepage CTAs.
The 1-9-90 Rule, also shared in our Start with Why blog post, says that 1% of your visitors contribute content. Do you think your 1% contributors are essential? Saying thanks and asking permission to share great content contributed by visitors does two things - it shows how much your website values contributions and changes your web content from one-side lectures to two-side conversations.
You MUST ask for help. “No one is responding,” is what one of my consulting customers said after asking for help. Are you sharing examples of other contributions? This was my first question. After “no” was the response, I suggested creating an exclusive time-based incentive such as the first x responses receive y thank you appreciation “gifts.”
Even with a strong incentive, “seeding” some user-generated content (UGC) is a good idea. Send a personal request for content to loyal friends who will be glad to help. Don’t pay for initial content with cash, but we recommend sharing link love on social media, on-page thanks, and praise. Finding new ways to say thanks is always a good idea because recognition and appreciation mean more than money in the long run, especially for the kind of brand ambassadors you want versus those you can buy. Authenticity and honesty create online communities.
Selfish doesn't play well on social media, but making social media platforms richer doesn't play well for your brand. Move visitors from sites you don't own (social media) to ones you do, such as your website: Here are five strategies we recommend:
Embed A Post
Adding a social media post to Content such as our Start with Why article helps make your content more exciting and can help new followers find your social channels.
Embed a Feed Adding a live feed of your social post requires a little more design and programming, but not so much that anyone can do. Your social feed can make static pages look current as they introduce your social channel to website visitors.
Social Share Counters
20% of social media posts garner 80% of the shares and views, and one of the best ways to add FIRE to already-smoldering Content is with real-time social counters.
Teasing Content such as surveys or polls can move traffic from social to your site IF and WHEN your Content sounds fun, sexy, exciting, current (happening now), or all of the above.
Attribution deserves a post, but ask permission whenever you use contributed Content in a new way. Finally, a caveat about feeds and social shares: embedded feeds and social share widgets may slow down your pages. Use page load sites to determine if your embed or widgets harm your page loads. Speed trumps shares by a fraction, so watch, monitor, and determine if embeds and widgets will work for your site, host, and tech.
Thanks to responsive website design, we can see content on our phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, but we’re entering a new phase of digital marketing. Now, we need to select and design content with mobile viewing in mind. Do not think that “mobile-first” means you can’t create long content (this 1,000 word blog post is case in point). Mobile-first simply means that when you do create long content, like the post you’ve almost finished (promise), use techniques like these:
How are you getting more from your websites? e: martin (at) wte.net