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Archive for September, 2012

Is It Easy to Contact You on Your Website?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Visitors should have a simple way of getting contact information from your website. It sounds obvious but it’s something that many business websites neglect.  Contact information actually serves two purposes.  The first is to get visitor feedback or allow them to take next steps.  The second is that providing ways for people to contact a business adds credibility that it’s a legitimate operation.

So what contact information should be available on a website?  The basics are, a phone number, an online medium (contact form or email address), and a physical address.  There are separate reasons for each:

  • Phone Number – Some people just prefer the phone and will not contact you in other ways.  Other people who have a specific question that they can’t get answered on the website will want a form of contact with immediacy.  Furthermore, a lack of a phone number can erode credibility as almost all legitimate businesses have a published phone line.
  • Contact form or email – A website needs an online form of communicating.  There’s a good chance that if a visitor finds you through your website then they will want to communicate via a digital medium.  A contact form is often useful because you can give a general layout.  For example, if you take online orders you can frame the fields to take all necessary information that a buyer might not otherwise include.  Another example is what I use for my site.  People can make an inquiry but also select their preferred method of response (email or phone).  In this way, you can cater responses to a visitor’s preference.  Email is also viable but be sure to use an email address that is checked as well as a non-personal one.  Email addresses on websites are often farmed by SPAM bots and can easily get bombarded with junk.  If it’s a specially set up email address it’s a fairly simple process to deactivate it if SPAM becomes a problem.
  • A physical address – No, people are not likely to send a letter.  However a physical address adds credibility by clearly telling people where you are located.

The most common means of neglecting contact information is by having a contact us form. . .and only a contact form.  Don’t get me wrong, a contact us form is a good idea as it’s a simple and easy way for visitor inquiries.  However, it doesn’t replace other contact methods because not everyone is going to be comfortable using it and it garners little credibility.

A good general rule is that visitors should always be one click away from getting contact info.  That is usually accomplished by including a contact link as part of your primary navigation.  If you really want to ensure that your contact information is readily available, publish it as part of you footer on every page.  Make sure your contact information is easy to get.  After all, the goal for our website should be to have visitors contact us.

Web Marketing: Stay Up To Date

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Liking an idea and executing it are two very different things.  Many consultant, trainers, and professional coaches want to leverage their knowledge into an online marketing campaign but struggle to put it together.  This is especially true if they see or hear an idea they like but don’t think through steps for executing and maintaining the campaign.  Online marketing campaigns are timely and if there’s no sustainability plan then the effort can cause more harm than good.

The most common example of this is an online blog.  Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches will see a blog they like and then haphazardly set up a blog of their own.  This frequently is thrown up on a blog service website.  Those a little more dedicated might find suitable templates, customize a layout, and/or have the blog set up on their site.  This shotgun approach typically creates subpar results.  The blog can come off as disjointed or may never be properly promoted at all.

Creating content consistently takes time and if there isn’t an agreed upon system for creating the content then the blog will stagnate.  This is the most common fate of hastily done blogs and reflects poorly on the individual or company who created it.  It’s a clear sign that projects go unfinished if a blog is found stagnant.  Our blog is an example that it takes commitment to maintain.  Though we’d like to post more regularly we are committed to a new post at least once every other week and maintain that schedule regardless of other demands on our time.  At minimum, if you have a blog and find that it’s not being updated; remove it from your site.

A blog is just an example of how web marketing needs maintained.  Other common offenders are social media pages or news/press release sections of the site.  If you identify an idea or channel you’d like to use, then a sustainability plan should be top priority.  An even higher priority than design or technical details because if the content isn’t current, then it won’t generate results.  Keep up to date with your online campaigns so they are relevant and add new touch points with clients and potential clients.