10 Things to Consider When Building Your Website and Blog

blog strategy, website

Your website and blog are the central point of your digital strategy. They need to be updated often, and they need to connect to all of your other online and social media assets.  This is where you keep all of your “stuff” – and where your customers will come to learn all about you.

1. Be sure to build everything in responsive design, so that your content and information renders correctly across all types of screens, not just a desktop.

2. Know what you are trying to accomplish with each page.  It could be an informational page, or you might be trying to capture someone’s contact information (we’ll talk about email later – it’s still important!). You can have separate landing pages to drive specific messaging or actions. Your home page needs to very clearly and concisely state why you are Different, Better, Special, and give someone the opportunity to sign up to learn more or get a freebie.

3. Make it easy for someone to interact with you — very clear contact information (phone and email), clear directions if you have a storefront, linked Social Media channels, live chat if you can.  I really like Lucky Orange as a tool – it does 2 key things:  1) provides live chat 2) takes a recording of your website visitors, so you can see what they are doing, and how they are interacting with your site.  It’s an easy code snippet that you add to your website.

4. Provide social cues to inspire trust.  This could be social media counts (i.e., “Likes” on Facebook or Twitter followers), it could be customer testimonials, product reviews or perhaps press mentions. New customers want validation of your product or services, and they want to hear it from others, not just from you. Another interesting way to do this is to hire an expert, or authority figure to tell your story for you.

5. Offer a guarantee of your product or services. Again, build trust and lower purchasing risk for your consumer to improve conversions.  You will get far more benefit from this than it will cost.

6. When creating content pages or blog posts, think about your key search terms. This is a great way to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings — when an article or post shows up in Google for free. Free is good.  I like finding relevant, but dated content that gets good search rankings and rewrite that content.  Basically, make it better and try to get ranked on that content. Use your keywords when writing the title and page name.

7. Lists get people’s attention.  Please see the title of this blog post.  😉

8. Make sure you have the correct tracking code on your pages to know what’s working and what’s not.  Google Analytics are super duper important, make sure you have the code on all of your pages, and conversion code on the actions you want to measure (sign-ups, sales, etc.).

9. Keep your primary navigation simple (and really, really try not to do too much secondary navigation), but use your footer to link to all of the great content you’ve built.

10. When you post something new, be sure to post it across all of your social media assets.  For example, a new blog post?  Make sure you have all of your visuals ready, and post to all of your social media channels. You should be creating new content at least once a week.

When I’ve created a new post or promotion, I literally have a checklist that I go down and make sure I’m covering all my channels:
Home page (if appropriate)
Landing page
Social posts and creatives (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube are my primary channels, you could also consider Yelp, Vimeo, SnapChat)
Creative for my affiliate network
Press release and list of people to whom I’m going to pitch the idea
Edits to paid media and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) campaigns (if appropriate)
Outreach emails and graphics to relevant bloggers

Whew!  Right?!?

First – Make a Plan, Understand What You Want to Say

branding, content

Before starting down the rabbit hole of marketing tactics, it’s very important to have a very clear communication framework to inform all the content you are going to build.

What makes your Company | Service | Product Different, Better and Special?
Focus on 3 things that define your business and brand.
How are you going to bring these 3 defining elements to life?

Think about tone.  Think about color.  Think about words.
Think about imagery.
What is your story?
What is your company the expert on?  What causes do you support?

Do research.
Who are the people who are influencers in your industry?  Identify top bloggers, reporters, thought leaders, celebrities. Think about how you would pitch them on your business.
When people are searching for your product or services, what do they search for?  Know your top 50 search terms and phrases, and input them into all of your content.
What are you an expert on?  How are you going to share your expertise?

Remember that people like to buy from other people.  Trust, credibility, the back story – it’s all important.

Once you’ve crystallized what is Different, Better, Special, and a direction on tone and imagery — be consistent!  It shouldn’t matter if it’s a Tweet, a Pin, or a blog post, your brand should always look and feel the same, regardless of the medium.

Make sure you own all of your brand’s social media assets, and that they are all connected to your website and blog:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Yelp.  If you have a common name, you may have to get creative, for example, for Ever After’s Pinterest account, we had to call it http://www.pinterest.com/haplyeverafter.  It’s mostly accessed via a link or search, so as long as I have clear branding on the header, it’s fine.

Ever After Pinterest

OK, now that we’ve set up the communication framework, let’s start talking about creating marketing assets and content.

The Beginning

branding, content

I just spent a wonderful weekend in Houston with my dear friends.  Man, I miss them.  Over the time we were together, I had some really interesting conversations about work, career, “what does it all mean” sort of stuff.  As I was talking to them, a spark went off – all of my work is now becoming more project-oriented. The entire nature of work is changing, and we should all have some freelance skills. Deanna asked me to share what I know about social media marketing, and as I thought about the best way to do that, I decided that I should put my money where my mouth is — I am going to create a blog where I share what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) during my career in marketing.

I feel like a rare bird in that I started my career in “Big Brand” marketing at Minute Maid and PepsiCo, transitioned more into digital marketing at LeapFrog (although still with retail elements), and over the past 3 years, have been working on start-ups.  Building from scratch.  I love it, and I’ve learned a ton.  I would like to share what I’ve learned through this blog.

As I look back, I really can’t imagine going back into a big, bureaucratic company.  I shudder to think of all of the time I wasted: internal selling, hours spent compiling PowerPoint decks, presenting to internal audiences — time that should be spent testing/iterating, spending time with customers.  Having a conversation.

Sometimes I long for the good old days — create a TV ad (or series of them), buy some media and press go. One way communication — shouting your message.

Now here’s how it works: Customers want to know about you – you, the brand.
Who are you?
What do you stand for?
Why should I care about what you do?
Do you share my values?  Do you care about the same things I do?
What makes you interesting?
What are you an expert in?  What can you teach me?

You have to have a constant conversation, across multiple platforms, with consistency in messaging, voice and tone. It’s a lot of work.

In this blog, I will share my thoughts, advice, and favorite tools on the following:

Branding and Consistency
Public Relations
Affiliate Marketing
EMail | CRM
Tracking and Measurement
Coming soon … SnapChat and others yet to be launched

Ok — let’s get started!