“A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words” – So Make Sure It’s a Good One

How the graphics in your web design can make or break your business

When you look around society today, you can’t help but see images, colors, logos, badges and other similar advertisements all over the place. There is a very good reason for this. It’s because visual appeal is what first catches customers’ eyes, and businesses of all types are catching on to this fact. Graphic design is undoubtedly a huge component of a company’s brand and marketing strategy. Designhill.com  describes graphic design as a “crucial tool that makes sure that you communicate with your people in an efficient manner. It serves to deliver your message to the target audience in an aesthetic way.”

The use of graphics not only adds visual interest but when it is done well, it helps communicate your message without needing to overuse words and muddy up your page. Plus, successful graphic design will deliver a message quickly. This way people who are clicking through pages can better understand what your company does at a glance, instead of first having to take the time to read a bunch of words.  Your graphic design is your “hook.” If successful, it should catch people’s attention and reel them in to learn more.

Graphics also help create a cohesive appearance, which can make the navigation of your site a lot easier for users. When your website is pleasant to look at, easy to navigate and information is a breeze to find, you’ll get customers who stick around longer. The graphics are like your front door, and your goal is to make people want to knock and enter.  Forbes.com points to a study that showed 94% of comments regarding why users mistrusted websites were related to the design elements of the site and only 6% to the actual content. This definitely shows that the visual components of a website’s design hold a lot of weight when it comes to making an impression.

So, when it comes to the graphic design of your website, you may want to keep these quick tips in mind to ensure you are using it to your biggest advantage:

  1. Don’t Be a Show Off — As tempting as it is to show off how much you know about graphic design and the neat trick you just learned, if it doesn’t fit or serve a purpose, then it doesn’t belong on your website. Remember, the idea is to help communicate your message to customers in an “efficient” way. If you learn some new techniques, that’s great, but save them for a time when they will make sense and be functional. Otherwise, they’ll just be confusing.
  2. Don’t Supersize It — Nowadays everyone seems to be in a hurry. Doesn’t it feel that way? When people go online they expect quick answers and often want to check out things in a matter of seconds. So, a web page that loads slowly and/or incompletely is going to just cause people to abort their mission and click elsewhere. Overly large images will cause a sluggish pace that people just don’t have the patience for, so pay attention to the size of the images you choose.
  3. Don’t Steal Focus —  When you go to a restaurant, you’ll often find that certain menu items have a box around them.  This is leading you to the products that provide the highest profit margin to the restaurant.  Similarly, you can use your graphic design as a way to help direct people’s focus to where you want them to look. A good design will help lead people to the content you want them to see and point them in the right direction. On the flip side, don’t make elements of your design so over the top that they have the opposite effect and draw focus away from the real content.
  4. Don’t Be Obnoxious — You can definitely go too far when it comes to graphic design. Images and other elements that are overly artistic, cutesy or bright might be fun or eye-catching at first, but if splashed all over your site they can become very overbearing and make people cringe. Keep your choices purposeful, attractive and balanced to make a good impression, and make sure they will appeal to your target audience.  For example, comic book characters probably won’t be the best idea if you’re catering to 65-year-old women.
  5. Keep Colors in Check — In addition to not getting overly obnoxious with your images, make sure to follow the same rule when it comes to color. Glaring colors can be a huge turn off to viewers. Color also has a very big psychological impact. The choice of color alone can make all the difference in a customer’s decision to purchase a product. According to smallbiz.com, 93% of customers say they focus on visual appearance. Use this to your advantage when choosing colors and select the colors that help evoke the feelings you want your customers to have when they are viewing your site. For a list of which emotions different colors are associated with, look here.
  6. Use the Right Tools — If you are tackling your own graphic design, then don’t make things hard on yourself. There are a multitude of options out there to assist you in making strong design elements for your website, including sites like Canva, and online talent pools like Fiverr and Upwork. Take the time to get familiar with what is available to you and to learn how they work. If you are able to use a tool effectively, it makes the job easier. Check out these reviews of some graphic design programs to find one that will be a good fit for you.

The visual appeal of your website is a major, if not the biggest, factor when it comes to the effectiveness of your site to drive people towards your business. Be sure to give your site a review with a critical eye geared towards the graphic design and see if it’s meeting the above tips. If you find it falls short in some areas, make sure to do a revamp. Have others give your site a test run as well to get their honest opinions about their reactions to your site.

Not sure if your website is maximizing its potential? Let us help you evaluate the effectiveness of your web design and make sure that it is working for your business at maximum capacity. Be sure to check out our other blogs for ideas on how to brand and market your company and build your web presence. We’re here to help you attract customers and grow your business!

Are you designing your website with SEO in mind?

If you are a business owner that has a strong desire to grow your business, then odds are you know what SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is and how it can help you generate more revenue. But, is your website built for SEO? SEO helps make your business visible when potential customers use certain keywords and terms in various search engines.  If used effectively, then your company name is going to be among the first that pops up when customers do a search for a product or service your company provides.

There is no doubt that SEO is an important tool to guide people to your virtual doorstep. However, are you sure you are giving them all the necessary “directions” so that they can find the correct address? You can’t just plug in some words and pray. In an article for NBCNews, SEO consultant Chloe Spencer lays it out, “you can’t simply create a website, whip up some content, and then sit back expecting to get ranked in the search engines.” Your website is your beacon to lead people to your business. Think of it like your lighthouse, guiding ships in and leading them in the right direction. If the light in a lighthouse burns out, then ships get lost, crash, or well, you get the picture. This concept also applies to your website. If your website has a virtual “burn out,” or in other words, becomes outdated or not optimally designed, then your customers get lost and head out in the wrong direction.

It is no surprise in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world that web marketing is a big factor in a company’s exposure to the masses. However, you need to make sure your web content is matching this pace. You should always be updating and analyzing your website to make sure it is doing everything it can to work for YOU. The main thing is to make sure your website is designed in a way that will work with SEO to bring the right people to your front door. The words you use need to be optimized to work with today’s search engines.

Not sure what people are plugging into those search engines? Then you need to do your research. There are numerous apps and sites available to help you analyze keywords, identify what words people are using when they search for certain things online, and track your success, or lack thereof, with keywords you have used in the past. For example, the free keyword tools found at WordStream can help you track how your landing pages compare to the competition and give you perspective on how the content of your website is working at leading people to you.

Everything, and I do mean everything, about your website should be designed with SEO in mind. Not just the content and the title, but your URL and even the way your site is structured, will have an effect on how your website lands in the search list. You mustn’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to the layout and material within your site.

Knowledge is power. When you arm yourself with the “know how” of how to create a successful SEO fueled website you take a crucial step in making your business more visible. When the visibility of your business increases, it stands to reason that your customer base will increase along with it. So what should you do?

Here are a few do’s and don’ts of SEO best practices to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. What’s in a Name? — Everything! Choose your domain name very carefully and make sure it includes the main keyword you want to rank, is easy to remember and is relevant to your business. If the name you are hoping for is not available, keep these factors in mind when choosing your plan B. Don’t use a domain name that is confusing, has nothing to do with your business or is nondescript. This will not do you any favors when it comes to people locating your business or remembering your business.
  2. Do Your Research. — As I mentioned before, knowing is half the battle. Make sure you have a clear idea of what keywords work, which are dead and which ones are leading people to your competitors. Take this data and use it to effectively incorporate the right keywords throughout your site, and across multiple pages. Don’t work against yourself. Make sure you have a unique target word for each individual page.
  3. Have a Plan. — Map out your site. Think of your website as a pyramid – your homepage on the top and everything flowing down, starting with your most important pages. You want to make sure that your site is laid out in a way that leads visitors easily to your main pages and makes it easy to navigate between them once they are on your site. Don’t go willy nilly with your website and end up with visitors that become frustrated because they cannot find what they are looking for. When a customer wants a simple answer they also want a simple way to find it.
  4. Understand Your URL. Don’t neglect your URL. Understand how important it is for your URL to reflect your website and lead people to you. The structure of your URL is essential. The web hosting service, HostGator, explains that “The URL is one of the most important parts of the page Google looks at to determine what a page is about.”  Make sure your URL references what is on a specific page. Don’t cram a bunch of keywords into your URL, run words together (instead use hyphens to separate) or have disconnects between your URL and what is on the webpage.
  5. A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words. Well, it’s only worth what you put into it. Make sure the images you use on your website are also optimized for SEO. Design the name of your image to include your target keyword and make sure the alt text includes your keywords as well. Again it’s about making sure everything on your website is designed with SEO in mind – so this includes all of your images. Don’t throw pictures onto your site just to fill space or be “eye-catching.” They have to work, too. So don’t miss an opportunity to use your images as optimizers for your site.

Just like everything in the world of technology and business, SEO has many different factors and is always changing. It is important as a business owner to stay abreast of these changes and make edits when necessary. I hope you will continue to familiarize yourself with the important ways in which SEO can work for you and your business, and how the right web design can make all the difference. If you aren’t sure if your website is effective or not — we can offer you a free website review to identify key changes that you might want to make.

Make sure to check out our other blogs for ideas on how to effectively market your business and build your web presence.

Why knowing and understanding your customer is essential to effective marketing

We have looked at why it is important for your customer to understand your business in a previous blog. Makes sense, right? How can you expect to attract customers if they don’t understand what you do and are not sure if they need your product or service? Likewise, do you know your customer? How can you expect to reach your customers if you don’t know who they are or where to find them?

To create and run an effective marketing strategy it is essential to know your target customers. Enterprenuer.com defines target customers as “a specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services”.  Let’s pull two key words from this definition and put them together to help focus your marketing plan – specific aim.

First, make sure to identify the specific group of customers that you are trying to attract to your business. Are they millennials? Women over 40? Teens? You get the picture. Even once you know the group of consumers your product and/or service is geared towards, it can remain a pretty large group. Remember, we want “specific”. What are ways in which you can narrow down the vast number of consumers to a more focused target group?

There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to knowing your customer

Know Thyself

You know your product or service better than anyone, so who do you think is going to use it most? Think about your product and what it does. What is it used for the most often? How is it used? Where is it used? Take your answers to these questions and use them to assess who needs this product and/or service the most? Consider multiple factors like age, gender, marital status, income bracket, etc. when narrowing down your answer. For example, a working mother of four children is going to have very different needs than a young bachelor that enjoys the single life.

What does your product do? Who is going to have the strongest need for your product? For example, a teenager is probably not going to have much interest in an upright vacuum with steam clean technology, but that mother of four? Big difference. Identify the specific need that your product or service answers and then match it to the group of consumers that possess that need. Start out with a broad spectrum, and then narrow it down until you reach your particular niche of consumers. This is referred to as the “funnel approach” which is suggested by Chuck Cohn in his article for Forbes. He uses the example of starting with gender, then narrowing it down to an age group within that gender, and then narrowing it down even further by income bracket to arrive at a more focused target group of consumers.

Look Around

Take note of other businesses that offer similar products and/or services to yours. Who are their customers? What demographic tends to use their service or product? This can provide valuable insight as to who your target group will be. And can help you figure out some ways to make your business stand out against the competition.

Look within your own network as well. What do your friends and family of varying ages and backgrounds like to do? What sorts of products do they use? Ask them questions about why they use the product and what they like about it. Find out what they are drawn to when they see different marketing plans for the product. Use their answers to help you develop your own marketing plan for your product.

Analyze

Conduct a market analysis for your business, suggested by Mike Kappel. Go back to the basics of information gathering- who, what, when, where, why and how. Look for the answers to these questions to help you narrow down the majority of consumers to your target audience. Know who your potential customers are, what they like to do, when they are most likely to see your marketing and purchase your product, where are they located, why do they purchase from you (or someone else) and then, based on all of these answers – how can you best reach them

This “how” is important. Once you have identified who it is you are directing your business towards, you need to understand them. The only way to successfully create a marketing strategy that works is to design and develop your marketing tools in a way that will speak to your target customers. You need to learn what makes them tick, what catches their eye and what is important to them in the products and services they purchase. Once you have an understanding of your customer you can effectively aim your marketing in their direction.

Get to know your target group’s interests, hobbies and how they like to shop. Take note of things that will help direct your marketing strategy. Does your target group listen to the radio? Spend a ton of time on the internet or watching TV? Do they go on social media? It will do you no good, for example, to center a marketing campaign around social media if your target group does not spend a lot of their time on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. On the other hand, if your target group are young consumers that are always on the go, then social media and internet-based advertising could be very powerful.

All in all, knowing your target customer group and then understanding them is a key factor in determining the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. I hope this has helped give you some ideas of what to look for as you bring more focus to your target group of customers and work on developing your marketing plan to specifically aim your product and/or service to them. Make sure to check out our other blogs for ideas on how to brand and market your business and build your web presence. Wishing you many happy and satisfied customers!

The Top 5 Ways that Your Website Might Be Misleading Them

Customer churn, or customer attrition, are two of the many names given to what happens when you lose specific customers for whatever the reason, who no longer use your services or engage with you.  This is a problem that businesses suffer from often, and no business is exempt — no matter how big or small.  Perhaps even worse than losing a customer who has used your products or services in the past, is losing an individual who was at one time interested in your business but never became a customer at all.

Whether your customers are not returning or are not converting, the “why” is likely the same.  Customers may not understand your business, what you do, how you help them, and why you can be valuable to their operation.  Some of that miscommunication can come from emails, in-person meetings, or a variety of other forms of customer communication.  However, it’s extremely likely that some of it (particularly with individuals who never contacted you in the first place), was from your website that failed you (and them).

Here are some of the ways that your website may be misleading potential (or existing) customers:

  1. Customers believe that you do not offer the services they want

Customers may believe that you don’t offer the services that they’re looking for if they can’t quickly find them on your website.  Not only should you make sure that each and every one of your services is readily apparent, but you should make sure that SEO (search engine optimization) is in place for each of your services.  Yes, SEO really is that important.  You can do this by ensuring that you are using keywords that people looking for those services are searching for.  You should also consider having a separate page for each of your services.

  1. Customers do not believe that you are a one-stop shop for their needs

Customers may not readily see the services you offer, including your other services related to their original needed service. They may assume that it would be easier to go with another company that can meet all of their needs in a one-stop shopping experience.  Make sure that customers know the comprehensive list of services you offer. One option is to have each of your services mentioned (with a checkbox) on the inquiry form.  Another is to add hyperlinks to and from each additional service from the individual service pages suggested above.

  1. Customers believe that you are too expensive (or more likely, too cheap!)

Customers may see your website and believe that you are too expensive based on your color choices, logo choices, and level of elegance on your page. While you want your page to be representative of your brand and the people that run it — you don’t want it to be misleading.  While it’s never okay to be sloppy, for example, or to have typos — it might be a bit overkill to have an extremely expensive website if you’re selling very basic and affordable services.

Or, if your target market is luxe and high-end, you probably want to avoid bright colors like neon yellow or patterns like polka dots.  Click here for a blog about colors and what they can mean for your brand.  You should also keep in mind that customers often equate quality with expensive.  So if you’re trying to decide between pricing levels, you should probably err on the higher side.  It will only help you.

  1. Customers believe that you are not approachable

Is there a contact form on your website?  Is it hard to find or hard to follow?  The length of time that it takes a customer to figure out how to get in touch with you is directly correlational to how approachable they think you are.  And also how receptive they think you’ll be when they need you over the course of your contract with them.  Be sure your website clearly communicates the various ways they can contact you and gives them a welcoming feeling.

  1. Customers believe that you are not the best at what you do

Do not assume that a customer will know that you are good at what you do.  Especially if they’ve never worked with you before.  And while it may seem artificial or uncomfortable to toot your own horn, it’s necessary, especially when marketing to prospective clients.  You should prominently display any awards that you’ve won, certifications that you or your associates have, and testimonials and/or logos of clients that you’ve pleased along the way.  Make sure to have a place or form where customers can review you. And use a regular system to get those up there as well.

You can never have too much information singing the praises of your company.  Also, having a well-maintained blog or newsletter articles that are published frequently on your website lends credibility to your business.  It’s a really important thing to do– and it’s so easy, you just have to do it!

If you feel that any of these potential issues may be at play with your website, you can benefit from a website review. This can help you figure out what the issues are and make sure that your customers know exactly what you can give them – – and take you up on it!

5 Ways to Run Your Business Better & More Effectively in the New Year

It’s the beginning of January, and what that means for most people is that some work was put off to enjoy time with family and friends during the holidays.   While this is a wonderful (and necessary) idea, sometimes the quiet time alone with our closest friends and family (and with our thoughts) allows us to start contemplating what we’ve done right and wrong.  Have we spent enough time with our loved ones?  Did we eat too many calories over Christmas dinner?  How are we going to get through the mountain of work on our desk that’s waiting for us?

This period of reflection is wonderful and without it, things wouldn’t ever change for the better.  And while some New Year’s resolutions may get forgotten on the gym floor around March, planning for our business is a must — and something that we have to make sure to keep doing all the way through next December.  Our planners and calendars should help us make sure of that.  But as business owners and managers, our problem isn’t usually that we don’t get things done.  Consistency and accountability typically aren’t our biggest problems — if we don’t work, we don’t get paid.  Our problems are usually more conceptual.  And sometimes, the problem is not knowing what the problem is in the first place.

How do we know what we should focus on in 2019?   What are our biggest shortcomings and ways that we can target them?  And once we figure all of that out, how should we begin to tackle the problems?

Well have no fear, we are here to help. Here are some of the most recurring issues facing small to mid-level businesses, and what you can do to run a better business in 2019:

  1. Problem: Revenue that’s Lower than Expected

Solution:   Focus on the products that are doing well, and make your SEO game extremely strong.

You likely have some sort of good or service, and if you have lower than expected revenue it’s generally because your overhead is too high, or because your products or services aren’t doing as well as you wanted them to.

The first step to take is to review the products that have sold and eliminate the ones that aren’t performing.  Start with the ones with the lowest profit and highest overhead, and work in a reverse direction to trim the fat. Once you know the items or services that are performing the best– you can really focus on making them the shining stars of your operation.  Your website should feature those products, they should be visible on the main page, and have hyperlinks to them within all of your branded emails and most of your social media posts.  You should have extremely good meta links, descriptions, and SEO strategy for these products as well.

  1. Problem: Customers are Not Engaging the Way They Used To

Solution:  Revisit the way you log and track contacts, and set up a new targeted campaign.

If your customers aren’t engaging the way they used to, it could be for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps your brand is failing to meet their needs.  Maybe you have a competitor who is doing things better or cheaper.  Regardless of the reason why you lost them, you definitely need to re-engage your core audience.

Take a look at your customers that are currently engaging.  You should be able to pull up your interactions on all of your social media accounts as well as through your email management program.  If you don’t have one of these, that’s definitely a huge mistake.  Look at Buffer for social media management, and Mailchimp for email management.  Other options are SocialReport, Sprout, and HootSuite for social media and MyEmma, and Constant Contact for email management, but we enjoy Buffer and Mailchimp the best, for a variety of reasons.

Once you’ve determined your core group of customers, you should make sure that your website is clear and targeted to them, and to their needs.  You should also make sure that your social media campaign, your website, and all of your other marketing materials are clear, connected, and carry the same branding and message. This includes fonts, slogans, logos, and colors.

  1. Problem: Customers are calling and spending a lot of time with you on the phone, and you’re not able to get a lot of the work completed.

Solution:  Your website, social media pages, and contracts and documents can all be made more clear and easier to navigate so that there is a clear understanding among all parties.

It isn’t uncommon for customers to be calling you, especially when you offer a service or are some type of consultant. But if you have a very straightforward product that can be automatically ordered and shipped, and customers continue to call you–  this is a clear sign that your website is failing you.

Make sure that your website is easy to navigate, easy to follow and understand, and works across a variety of browsers and skill levels.  Not all of your customers are technology savvy, but most will have a basic understanding — so you need to figure out who your target group is and cater to those people.

At Komaya, we offer a free website review — so we’ll be able to look at your current website, determine how navigable and user-friendly it is, and offer some concrete solutions to make it work better for you.

  1. Problem: You’re Unable to Get The Things on Your List Accomplished

Solution:   Start a Time Blocked Schedule, and Stick To It

We all have really long to-do lists, but the difference between those who accomplish all of the items on their lists and those who don’t are the ways we go about completing them.  Time blocking, or the act of actually scheduling the time in your day and blocking certain half-hours or hours out for specific purposes, seems elementary, and often not even necessary– but it’s absolutely quite the contrary.

By time-blocking, you’re ensuring that you’re giving the appropriate amount of devoted time to each task.   The benefits of this are that, when you’re within a specific time block, you can limit the distractions by turning off your phone or putting it in another room, for example, or not checking social media during this time window.   Additionally, you’ll know right away if you don’t have the appropriate amount of time to finish all of your daily tasks– so it will become immediately clear that you need to delegate, and not at the eleventh hour when you’re desperate to find a staff member who can help you.

For a good example of time-blocking, you can check out this WikiHow.

  1. Problem: You aren’t Getting the Types of Customers that You Want

Solution:  Re-Evaluate your Business Plan and look at the type of customer who is your target.  Is your website effectively speaking to that person?

Let’s say that the product that you’re currently promoting retails for $97, but your average customer is spending $12 on your site per visit.  Clearly, something isn’t working.  Likely, you’re not getting the type of customer who is your ideal customer.  If you’re making sales, sometimes it seems like you have an audience and everything is going well, but if you aren’t making the amount of expected sales, you could have the wrong products  — but you could also have the wrong group of people that you’re targeting.

For example, let’s say your business sells luxury high-end office products.  The majority of your products are things that a top business person would love, like desk accessories made of gold and silver,  leather briefcases, and portfolios.  Your target customer should be spending, in your opinion, about $165 on average for their order.  If your top-selling item is a $7 pen and your average customer spends $20 on their entire order– you’re probably getting college students who are buying sticky notes and school supplies.  Perhaps your millennial pink website needs to be changed to a more mature color, like navy blue.  Additionally, it’s likely that your targeted Instagram ad needs to be featured on LinkedIn instead.

By asking the right questions about your business plan, and how you’ve been implementing it — you’ll make sure to have a better and more productive 2019.

For any questions about your website, or other things that you can do to enhance your business in 2019, contact us at Komaya.  You can also check out our blog for more ideas for bringing your business to the next level.