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Tips for a Powerful Web Presence: The Four Horsemen of the Webpocalypse

Original article published at Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) July 9, 2018.

Tips for a Powerful Web Presence

I recently gave a talk to a group of entrepreneurs on what it takes to have an effective web presence in today’s market. The topic generated a lot of interest, so I thought it would be helpful to share it with a broader audience. In a nutshell, I will be covering four focus areas that are vital for your web presence.

No one can deny that having an effective web presence is key to the success of today’s business. I have discovered that this requires using a holistic approach. It’s not enough to just build a website, it’s not even enough to have search engines crawl your website, it is not enough to pour money into paid advertising campaigns, and it’s not enough to just create some social media accounts. They all need to work together to promote your brand and realize your business goals.

THE PROBLEM: A couple of years back, I was in my previous company office and the Marketing Director called us all and proudly said – “We got approval to spend $120,000 for website redesign and separately another $30,000 for online advisements.” I looked at this approach and thought to myself – what a waste of money! It wasn’t a Holistic Solution, it was what I call “a Webpocalypse.”

The company thought they were not effective on the internet because the website needed a redesign, or that a few ads might turn more people into clients. They used different agencies for each initiative; this is what I call a piece-meal approach.

To me, in the web world, these are the Four Horsemen of the Webpocalypse — Website, SEO, Paid Keywords, and Social Media.  You need to tame all these horses in order to have a sophisticated web presence that goes beyond the status quo.

First Horsemen of the Webpocalypse: The Website

“Conquest” – to me, in the web arena, is your Website. You build it, you launch it, and you are ready to conquer the world. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Will your website experience stick positively in the minds of the users?
  • Do each of your pages tell a story? – Will your customers engage and be able to relate to their own emotions?
  • Is your website content optimized for search discovery?
  • What about the mobile experience? More and more people are using their mobile devices to do business.
  • Is your website running processes efficiently behind the scenes? How easy is it for your website content to be kept fresh and relevant?
  • Is it sitting on a secure platform? It is vital to protect your key web assets – your domain and your website host. Here’s an article that shows how a particular website host, WP Engine, prevents millions (yes, millions) of attacks each month for their customers. At Komaya, we ourselves recommend such host for our customers. Make sure your site is protected.

It’s not all about the website looking good, it needs to stick in the minds of the people who visit. It should have a great user experience, not just by aesthetics, but by functionality, and a feeling that they are invited.  Additionally, your website should be easy to maintain and update, empowering your marketing team to promote events, launch new campaigns, and instantly react to changing markets. If website content updates can only be done by a developer, the inherent latency can result in missed opportunities in connecting with potential clients.

Second Horseman of the Webpocalypse: SEO

“War” – to me, in the web world, is SEO, the war of search engines and the fight for your website to climb to the top of their results. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are all of your web pages ready for the current demand of today’s search engines? What sets your page apart from every other website on the internet? Why would your page climb up the SEO ladder?
  • Have you considered search engine spaces such as Google’s Knowledge Graphs?
  • What about other search channels? Is your web presence dependent upon a couple of search engines, or are you also showing up on the other platforms that people use to search for businesses?
  • By the way, are you for any reason still using Meta Keywords on your web pages? This technique is a bit dated and not effective with today’s highly sophisticated search engines.

SEO is not all about just putting the right keywords on your web pages. Yes, it is very important to consider context and industry-specific keywords when you are writing web page content, but also to understand that there are other aspects to consider, such as Knowledge Graph technology, that you have access to. Is your web page ready to show up in that Q&A type of result that you have seen on Google? Do you make use of all the real-estate that Google has given you by utilizing the Post Knowledge Graph feature when you have an upcoming event or announcement?

Third Horseman of the Webpocalypse: Paid Keywords and Ads

“Famine” – to me, in the web world, is the Paid Keywords and Advertisements. This is the wasted money spent on under-researched advertisements and simply, the wrong keywords. We have seen many companies and their marketing team’s frustrations and wasted resources, month-after-month, with negligible to even nil outcomes. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are you spending too much for premium keywords, or conversely, not spending on advertisements at all?
  • Have you researched the keywords that your potential customers are searching on, or did you consider the niche your company is in? Check out Google Trends to discover search trends for your products and services.
  • Are these same keywords also reflected throughout your website content and SEO optimizations?

We have seen both extremes that have brought famine to a business’s online presence. Some companies put in enormous amounts of money into extremely competitive keywords that cost very high dollars on each click. In turn, this results in them concluding that online advertisements are too competitive and not very cost-effective.

On the other side of the spectrum, some companies think they do not need online advertisements at all – the internet will just discover and come to them on their own. Yes, some extremely niche companies may have a different agenda for reaching their target audience, but unless you are like Tesla with no advertising needed to-date, you should probably include an ad strategy in your integrated marketing plan. Have you thought about why Coke, Macy’s, Lincoln, or just about any successful company advertises? We find it’s usually best to utilize both an organic search and paid advertising strategy mix for reaching your target audience.

Fourth Horseman of Webpocalypse: Social Media

“Death” – to me, in the web world, represents Social Media. Why the comparison with this horseman? We see so many entrepreneurs and companies create social media accounts, but after just a few posts go silent, deathly silent. The Pale Horse of the Apocalypse took over. We at Komaya call this as lacking the social heartbeat.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Have you contemplated having a social media audit done for your company? What is your current state? How strong or weak is your social heartbeat?
  • Does your branding and website look-and-feel carryover into your social media account profiles and imagery? The user should instantly feel comfortable and identify that they are in the right place.
  • Have you conducted any industry research on which social media channels are appropriate for your company? More so, what channels you shouldn’t even be creating accounts on?
  • What channels are your customers and competitors using? Why Facebook, why Twitter? Is there a specific reason the audience is extremely active on one versus the other?
  • Have you identified what channels the Influencers & Experts in your company’s niche are using? Do you follow and interact with them? This will not only help you figure out which social channels you should be active in, the Influencers may just happen to mention your company to their followers.

There are many other considerations such as what time of the day you should post, the days of the week that your potential customers are likely to be using that particular social media channel, etc. Are you following the “rule of fourths” when posting on social media? It used to be the rule of thirds – one-third of your posts are about your company products and services, one-third you share helpful tips, and one-third you share an industry experts’ posts. But now, the fourth rule has come into the picture – customer support. If you look around, companies like 1800flowers, Zappos, Walmart, are directly providing real-time support to their customers over social media building confidence, trust, and solving issues with minimal delay.

THE SOLUTION: As a start-up or emerging business, consider stepping into today’s internet world with a holistic web presence strategy.  Just a website or a piecemeal approach can likely slow down your business growth potential. All the aspects discussed need to work together to tame the horses and effectively market, attract, and engage your target audience.

Blogging Mistakes You Might Be Making

For many successful businesses, blogging is a key aspect of their marketing strategy. It is important to your business for a variety of reasons:  It establishes you as an authority in your field, it lets your customers know about your products and services, it shows everyone who you (and your employees) are personally, and it also sets the tone for your business.  Blogging can make or break you.

With that being said, here are some blogging mistakes you might be making:

  1. Being scared to establish yourself as an authority — Blogging establishes you as an authority, and what that means is that it sets you up as an expert in your field.  A lot of folks are scared to do this because they are waiting for someone to crown or bestow a title of expert on them but, most likely, that’s not going to happen.  What makes you an authority is that you know more than at least one other person.  A real estate agent, for example, might not be the best agent in the nation, but they probably know more about what happens at a closing table than the average person. If what you write could help one person learn more about your field, then you absolutely should write it!
  2. Being overconfident and not backing up facts — The converse side to establishing yourself as an authority is proclaiming false facts. It’s totally fine to give examples of how you’ve done x, y, or z within your business or community, but remember—- what you write is accessible to everyone, forever, so make sure there’s truth in your claims.  You can’t go wrong if you write from the heart on a topic you know about.
  3. Having an inappropriate tone for your business — Blogging should be extremely casual, but the tone should fluctuate depending on what you’re talking about, your audience, and what you’re trying to do. If you’re talking about your political campaign, the rules for your employees to follow, or the legalities of filing a lawsuit, perhaps you should have a more formal tone.  However, if you’re trying to target millennials and you’d like to sell clothing— you don’t necessarily need to do a research article on cotton and rayon fibers with references.  Similarly, if your spelling and grammar are poor and you’re using slang within “ur” writing— that won’t really go far for a professional piece on the benefits of your business.
  4. Not giving enough information — Blogging is casual, but there is an extremely fine line that needs to be walked. Readers respond better to pieces that are written on a lower reading level in a casual tone. They also want to feel as if they’re in your shoes or experiencing what you’re talking about first hand. So, while you shouldn’t over-explain everything, you should also remember that most of your readers are strangers who don’t know anything about your business, and they don’t get nicknames, inside jokes, or industry terms.
  5. Not posting enough — Above all, the worst blogging mistake that you can make is not to blog! Jot down a bunch of ideas that you’d like to talk about and start writing one a week until you get on some kind of blogging routine.  Many can get intimidated by not being professional writers, but that’s not what it’s about— it’s about sharing your ideas and your business with the world.  Even if it’s 100 words here or there, it’s something, and that’s way better than having a page that hasn’t been updated since 1999.  Worst case scenario, talk to us, and we can arrange for you to hire someone to blog for you.

The Importance of Colors to your Brand

If you care enough about your business to be here reading this blog, you likely have a logo, and maybe even a brand color palette. It’s often a temptation as a business owner to choose colors that go with your personality, or that match your personal preference, but colors can convey so much and it’s really important that you choose the right ones to deliver your brand message.

Here are some things you may not have realized about the importance of colors to your brand:

Color really and truly makes a difference. In a study titled “The Impact of Color on Marketing,” researchers found that consumers often made quick judgments about products based on color alone, depending on the product. Up to 90% of consumers had done this at some point in their lives. That’s an unbelievable number.

Additionally, consumers have preconceived notions of what certain colors “mean”.  Here are some of the current brand colors, their meanings, and what brands use them:

Tiffany Blue

This one’s so specific and was used so well, that the shade is now named after the brand, Tiffany & Co. Shades of aqua generally indicate luxury and are geared more often to female customers.

 

Green

Green generally indicates environmentally friendly companies or products that are good for health or wealth. Companies that use green include John Deere, Subway (whose slogan is “Eat Fresh”), and Animal Planet.

 

Yellow

Yellow generally indicates value.  McDonald’s, Best Buy, and DHL are companies that have predominately yellow branding. It could also indicate youth or fun, like Ferrari and Snapchat.

 

Red

This one’s tricky.  It has a variety of meanings, but generally, companies that use red want to be seen as classic staples such as Coca-Cola, Target, and Netflix. It can also be used to portray power and emotions, like Tesla and Red Bull.

 

Pink

In the past, pink was used to convey products that would attract a female demographic, like the logos of Barbie and Victoria’s Secret.   In recent years though, the color has experienced a lot of revitalization with millennial crowds and now is used for a lot of tech-friendly companies, such as Lyft, LG, and T-Mobile.

 

Blue

Blue has long been the favorite of technology companies and the wellness industry. Depending on the shade of blue, it can convey knowledge, stability, health, and trust. If you take one look at the apps on your phone, you’ll probably have instant confirmation of this.  PayPal, AT&T, Waze, and Blue Cross all use blue.

 

Black

Black often conveys an edgier vibe.  This may be used by companies that want to break free from the norm, or by rock bands.  It’s also popularly used by a lot of fitness brands as well as by upscale restaurants. Some popular black logos are for Louis Vuitton, Apple, Adidas, and Daniel’s Broiler.

 

Orange

Orange may be the most versatile of all the colors.  Originally used to target men, it can also be used by brands that want to portray creativity and fun.  Brands that use orange are Home Depot, Harley Davidson, Fanta, Nickelodeon, and Blogger.

 

Certain color palettes have science that backs them up:

There are scientific studies that indicate that certain color combinations elicit physiological responses in the body.  Other color patterns are also extremely easy to see.  There’s a reason that most caution signs are black words on a dark yellow background.  Initially, this was done because it’s the easiest color combination for us to read, but as people began to expect that color combination for street signs and caution messages, it took on a different meaning.  You definitely don’t want to use this color combination unless it’s an urgent message or a matter of extreme importance.

Take some time to think about your brand colors and consider what image and purpose you want to portray for your business.

The Top Website Mistakes That Almost Every Company Makes

A solid website is one of the most important, if not the most important, assets to a company.  Regardless of the size and strength of the business, everyone needs a website whether they’re a child selling hair ties or socks out of their parents’ basement, to a Fortune 500 tech company. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the proper way to set up an efficient website.  Here are some of the top website mistakes almost every company makes, so you can avoid them on your next web redesign:

Top website mistakes almost every company makes:

  1.   Having A Website That’s Too Cluttered or Too Confusing — How many times have you gone to a website to find a very specific piece of information only to give up after twenty minutes of frustration from not being able to find what you were looking for?  Chances are you probably googled it and found a competitor that had the answer you were looking for.  If someone feels like they’re a secret agent trying to get into mission control when all they’re doing is looking for your hours of operation or price points, this is a sign that you need a new web design.
  2. Not Knowing Enough about SEO and What It Can Do for You — SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has become a really hot topic lately, especially for companies that try to sell you web design services.  Unfortunately, not a lot of people actually know how SEO really works.  It’s up to you to make sure you’ve maximized your search terms, keywords, titles, and meta-titles on every single page of your website, or that you can find someone who can.  At Komaya, this is absolutely something we can help you with, so if you get stuck, don’t hesitate to contact us.
  3. Not Having a Clear Call-To-Action or Way to Buy — Someone can come to your website and think you’re the bee’s knees, but that doesn’t mean anything unless there’s a clear call to action or way for them to buy your products or services right there, on the spot.  People are often impulsive buyers and will talk themselves out of a purchase if they have time to think about what else they can do with those finances.   If you sell goods and services, there needs to be an extremely prominent way for people to add to their cart on the main page, and if you have a different type of service, there needs to be a clear call to action (follow us, join today, etc.) in an equally prominent place.
  4. Not Encouraging Interaction from Clients and Consumers —  Chat rooms can be a really good call as they allow consumers to interact directly with the “powers that be” of a company, and it really makes people feel like their voices and suggestions are heard.   Forums are also a really nice way for people to be able to leave their thoughts and opinions on a product.  You’ll receive a couple of bonuses for doing this as well.  For starters, you’ll receive free feedback on your product (without having to pay for testing or a consumer panel).  Additionally, if people start to interact with other consumers within a forum space, you’ll find that they check in more often on your site for follow up responses.
  5. Not Capturing Information from the Customer to Continue to Follow Up — Speaking of follow up, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in any business model is not following up with your consumers.   A lot of times, someone will check out on a business website and enter their credit card information, receive their package, and never hear from the company again.  You’ll want to make sure to record customer information for future use.  You can also have a subscription box on your homepage that someone can use to fill out their name, e-mail address, and possibly even a phone number to sign up for some kind of freebie (or discount code) that you have decided on in advance.  This way, you’ll be able to subscribe them to your offers, and mailing list, and you may even be able to send them a survey asking for feedback on your new and improved website.

 

Why Social Media is Changing Buying Decisions

In 2017, one report by Deloitte, according to Forbes magazine, found that 47% of all Millennials said that their purchase decisions were influenced by social media. Additionally, customers who include social media as part of their shopping process are four times more likely to spend money on purchases, and 29% more likely to be impulse buyers when using social media for purchasing decisions.

The ODM group lists the number much higher, at around 74% of consumers affected by social media to inform their purchasing decisions.

Regardless of the exact statistics or study that you choose to follow, it is obvious that it has become more important than ever for companies to get on the social media bandwagon.  Because it’s always important to know the how and why of anything, we have taken a look at why this is happening.

Why is social media changing buying decisions? Here are a few possible reasons to consider:

  1. Social Media allows you to read reviews from people you know — Anyone can go on a review site like Yelp and read and write reviews for popular businesses in your area.  However, social media allows you to read reviews from people you know. This makes a review much more potent because not only do you know that it’s a real person who left it, but you know the person, so you have an idea of how credible the person is.  It also shows you mutual friends in common with the reviewer, so even if the reviewer is not someone you know you’ll be able to see the mutual connections that may link you to that person.
  2. Social Media allows you to ask opinions of hundreds of people at the same time — It was one thing to call (or text) your friends or relatives to get an opinion on the best dry cleaner or dentist in town, but now you can literally post a status update that will reach your entire friend list within seconds. It makes acquiring business recommendations extremely easy (especially with Facebook’s new “recommendations” feature that will even lay them out for you on a map of your area).
  3. Social Media allows you to communicate with the actual brains behind a brand — Everyone was shocked when they joined MySpace and instantly became “friends” with MySpace creator, Tom.  Now, social media allows you to communicate with actual CEOs of major corporations.  You can tweet or retweet the founder of your favorite company, and you might even get a response!
  4. Social Media is completely interactive —  You can also interact with your favorite brands on a daily basis.  Twenty years ago, you could drop your business card in a fishbowl and maybe you’d win a prize, but other than that— you probably didn’t have much interaction with certain businesses.  Now, you can enter contests and comment on photographs that are appealing to you.  You can even engage with other customers about certain products and your mutual likes and dislikes.

Engaging Social Media

Today’s business is built on awareness, trust, and confidence. It’s important to be present with and responsive to your clients.  Social media is an increasingly important way for businesses to connect with people. It plays a significant role in purchasing decisions, and many people prefer to use social media to communicate with a business. With all of that said, it is so important that your social media remain engaging, as well as consistently updated. Having a social media plan should be an integral part of your marketing strategy to build your web presence.