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When’s the last time you looked at your website? Seriously!

I know as small business owners you’re extremely busy.  I get it.  But your website is one of the most important first touches for potential customers.

Customers have a voice and the following statistics are a good indicator that they are not only watching but voting with the X button to leave websites that don’t meet their needs.

Does your website stand up to the needs of today’s business consumer?  Let’s take a look at the statistics!

  • Is your website Mobile responsive? The statistics show that mobile responsiveness is no longer a CHOICE for small businesses, it’s a requirement!
    • Mobile devices now account for nearly 2 of every 3 minutes spent online. (Source:comScore)
    • 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (Source: MarginMedia)
    • 40% of smartphone and tablet owners search for B2B products on those devices. (Source: KoMarketing)
    • 67% of shoppers were more likely to buy from a website that is compatible with mobile devices.
    • 46% of mobile users report having difficulty interacting with a web page, and 44% complain that navigation was difficult. (Source: Keynote)
    • 62% of companies which designed their website(s) for mobile platforms increased their sales and 64% of companies that designed their website for tablets increased sales.
    • 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially. (Source: uberflip)
  • Does your website have a good user experience? You may be losing a lot more customers than you think with an outdated or sub-standard experience. What’s a sub-standard experience look like? The following stats will give you a solid understanding of what users are looking for and expecting.
    • You have 10 seconds to leave an impression and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave. — NN Group
    • 51% of people think “thorough contact information” is the most important element missing from many company websites. (Source: KoMarketing)
    • 44% of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number.
    • 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. — Econsultancy
    • 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load. (Source: Adobe)
    • Once on a company’s homepage, 86% of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services. (Source: KoMarketing)
  • Does your website inspire trust? Did you know nearly half of all users that make it to your website decide the credibility of your business based on the website design?  That’s a startling number and one all small businesses should take seriously.  Here are a couple of other things to consider regarding user trust:
    • 94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website.
    • 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.
    • 72% of people entrusted online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

 

So let’s get real for a minute, if you haven’t looked at your own website in a while and there are things on it that bother you, chances are it may be scaring away potential customers and defeating the purpose of having it in the first place.

I challenge you this week to set aside 15 minutes to go through your website (with a desktop, table, and mobile phone) and check for the following:

Mobile Ready

  1. Does your website work and look good on a mobile phone and tablet?
  2. Is your website easy to navigate on a mobile device?

User Experience

  1. 10 seconds after your website loads, can you tell what your company does?
  2. Is your contact information (phone & email) on the homepage?
  3. Do you have thorough contact information on the site (in the footer or on a contact page)?
  4. Does your site load within 2 seconds?
  5. Do all of the images on your site load quickly?
  6. Is your product/services link the first link after the homepage?

*If you’re not sure about load time and images you can run a free test of your website at GTMetrix

User Trust

  1. Is your copyright date in the footer 2018?
  2. Is your logo crisp and professional?
  3. Are all images sharp and compelling?
  4. Do you have events from last summer still listed?
  5. If you have a blog page, when was your last blog post?
  6. Do all of your links go to the right places when you click on them?
  7. Do you have promo’s listed that have expired?
  8. Do you have customer reviews on your website, Google, Facebook?
  9. Do you reply to people who have given you reviews thanking them?
  10. Do you have negative reviews anywhere online that you haven’t replied to?

 

If you’re less than impressed with what you find, you can be sure your customers are as well.  Find a good web designer and make updating your website a priority.

To find a good web designer check out my earlier post on Finding a Web Designer That Fits!

To post, or not to post!

To post, or not to post | lisanistler.com Website Design Maple Grove, MN

You got all fired up about promoting your Small Business on social media, you were fearless!  You created the profiles, uploaded pictures, filled out all the information, and it was exciting!

And then you waited…and when nothing happened, you lost that loving feeling!

It’s Ok, you’re not alone and the truth is, it’s really easy to get that feeling back.  Recapturing that loving feeling can actually be simple with a couple of simple guidelines.

So let’s break it down!

Posting made simple:

Start SMALL – pick 1 or 2 sites and post 1-2 times per week.

Social Media Sites:

  1. _____________________________________
  2. _____________________________________

 

Pick your post types. I recommend 2-3 types and rotate them:

Examples of post types:

  • Create a post for each type of service you offer
  • Teaching moments
  • Welcome new clients
  • Welcome new team members
  • New product teasers
  • Events
  • Announcements
  • Presentations/Training
  • Inspirational Quote of the week
  • Tips or Knowledge nuggets

Any of these can be done as traditional posts or short video clips

Pick your post types:

  1. ________________________________________________
  2. ________________________________________________
  3. ________________________________________________

 

Be CONSISTENT! Create a post schedule and honor it!

My Post Schedule:

Day:______________________  Time: _______________________

 

Day:______________________  Time: _______________________

 

A couple of small housekeeping suggestions before you start posting.

  1. Review your profiles and make sure they are up to date!
  2. All profiles should have the same Brand look, logo, and business header image.
  3. Fill out your profiles COMPLETELY!

 

Once you have that loving feeling back you’ll want to keep it, so after you start posting make sure to check in on the numbers.  On most social profiles you’ll find them under a button called “Insights”.  It’s like the creamy filling in an Oreo cookie, not even kidding!  The insights will tell you what’s working.  Do MORE of what’s working!

Now get out there and start posting.  Be FEARLESS! You have a delete post option if you need it!

 

Small Business in the Online World

I talk to a lot of small businesses and non-profits about how to improve their online presence and attract potential customers.  Many are overwhelmed with the plethora of options and opinions and find it difficult to know where to start!

Below I’ll walk you through my Top 3 Must Have’s and why they’re important to your business.

I hope this will simplify things and get you on your way to growing your business with the wonderful online tools available today!

Top 3 Must Have’s and Why

 

1.Google My Business Profile. Google owns ~87% market share in the US and it’s free to create an account. When potential customers search they go to Google. When they search for your business or businesses like yours near them and you have a Google My Business profile you have a greater chance of being shown.

2. Small Business Website. For companies selling business to business 84% of business buyers check out the business website and their competition before making a purchase.  For companies selling to consumers, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a big purchase, yet 46% of American small businesses do not have a website.  The cost of a small business website has come down dramatically in the past couple of years and should no longer be a barrier to entry.

3. Social Media Profiles. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. If you don’t think social media is for business, think again!  According to Pew Research Center, 2015, (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

-74% of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes.

-25% of adult internet users use LinkedIn.

-31% of adult internet users use Pinterest.

-28% of adult internet users use Instagram.

If you want to know where to find potential customers, social media is where they are! You don’t have to be on all social media sites, find the ones that share the audience profiles you’re looking for.  You’ll find all that information and more by searching for it on Google!

If you can’t swing all three at once, start with the Google My Business profile and 1 or 2 social media profiles.  These are free and most people can manage the set up on their own.  Be sure to fill out the profiles completely!  The more information you enter, the easier it will be for customers to find you!

Be Fearless! The edit button is your greatest ally.

Finding a Web Designer that fits!

Finding a web designer that fits!I was invited to sit in at a small business networking visitor day this past week and as they went around the room and each person gave their 60 second “commercial” about what they did, I sat quietly in my chair freaking out.  There was an accountant, a lawyer,  a realtor, a mortgage banker, a chiropractor, and other very professional people.  I’m just a web designer, well I do social media and seo too, and technical stuff, and graphic design…but…I’m just a web designer!

Time slowed and the world seemed to fall away as I slide my chair back to stand.  Somewhere from outside my head I heard my voice “Hi! I’m Lisa…I’m a website designer”.   A strange thing happened as my disembodied voice continued, I could have sworn a rainbow appeared above my head and a unicorn horn sprouted on my forehead as I looked around at the faces leaning toward me with big shining eyes. “I work primarily with small female owned businesses and non profits.”  A sort of magical murmur pulsed through the room and with an ungraceful thud I returned to my seat.

The meeting continued and as we neared the end, the floor was opened for people to connect and give referrals.  I heard my name being called out over and over and I sat in stunned amazement. It was then I realized the digital world I live in is like a magical mysterious forest to those that did not grow up there.

I was asked a ton of questions that day about finding the right web designer / social media marketer / seo specialist for a small business.

Those questions are the inspiration for this post!

Here are the things to consider when looking for a web designer that fits for your small business:

Check them out online!

Look at their website, reviews, social media profiles, blog posts, portfolio, and client’s websites (their portfolio or website should have links to some of the sites they’ve built).

Use your computer, tablet, and phone to look at their online properties. If things look good on all 3 you’ll have a good sense they’re building with responsive design.

Think about the following as you go through their profiles:

  • Does their stuff work?
  • Do they have reviews? Do you like what the reviews say?
  • Do they have other small business clients or clients with businesses similar to yours?
  • Are all of their online profiles up to date and uniform? Or is the last post from 2014?
  • After looking at their work do you feel confident they could creatively represent your Brand?
  • Is the information on their site easy to understand or do you feel overwhelmed with technical jargon?
  • Are they close enough geographically to meet in person?

If they can’t pass this test – keep looking!

Once you narrow down your choices email or call the top contenders and monitor the following:

  • Do they respond in a reasonable timeframe? If not, this could be an indicator of future communication frustrations.
  • Are they able to answer your questions in a way you understand? Don’t assume that “Techno Speak” is an indication of their expertise. You’ll want to work with someone who can talk in terms you can understand, a good web designer will be happy to teach you along the way and won’t feel the need to talk over your head.
  • Are they willing to talk about pricing for your project? Many designers won’t want to give you a price until they know a good deal about the project and that’s fair, but they should be willing to tell you their hourly rate and a ballpark range. The good ones will beat you to the punch and ask what your budget is so they can determine if what you are looking for is in their ballpark.

 

Absolutely -100% – the most important thing – Meet them in person!

You can certainly start with email and phone conversations but before you agree to anything, meet them in person.  Small Businesses are unique and often have unique requirements and needs.  You’ll want to know up front if the person you choose will be able to help you meet your goals.

Meeting the designer in person will give you the ability to get a feel for the designer’s style, personality, & technical knowledge.  You should feel comfortable talking openly about costs and they should be willing to discuss what they can do within your budget.  If your budget is small you may not be able to get everything done at once, but a good designer will break things down into deliverables by priority.

Trust your gut! If there are any red flags after meeting in person, move on!

Before signing anything or making a down payment 

If you decide to move forward make sure you get a detailed project scope and estimate with costs, deliverables and timeline prior to paying any money down.

The project scope & estimate should include:

  • A detailed description of everything they are going to do for you. These are the deliverables.
  • A cost estimate – make sure to check for language on pricing for changes or out of scope additions.
  • A timeline for completion

 

Questions to ask before signing a work agreement:

  • When will you be able to start the project?

(Write their answers down and ask them to add them to the work agreement.)

  • What will you need from me to get the project done on time and on cost?
  • How do you handle payment?
    • Do you require a down payment?
    • When is the final payment due?
    • What payment options do you offer?
  • How do you handle pricing for changes or out of scope additions?
  • Is this a one-time project cost to completion or do you bill on actual hours and what happens if you go over the estimated hours?
  • Do you provide project updates? How are they communicated and how often?
  • Once the site goes live and I find an issue or problem how do you handle that?
  • Do you provide any data on how the site is doing after it goes live?
  • Will I own my domain name and have access to it after the site is done?

 

Small businesses thrive on relationships.  Your relationship with your web designer is no different.  You are the co-creator and you should feel confident that the person you choose to co-create with you can be trusted to bring your vision to life!  Doing your homework up front will lead you out of the magical mysterious forest and back into the world of business!

When your DIY Website goes bad

When your DIY Website goes bad | lisanistler.comOver the past couple of months I’ve run into several small businesses who’ve had issues with their DIY websites.  In all cases the owners told me their websites had been compromised by hackers or somehow corrupted.

When I asked how that happened, it always came back to one thing.  They openly admitted that they were not maintaining their website.

Some thought that once it was built that would be the end of things.  Others were scared to do the updates themselves.  They were intimidated by the messaging of updates that were needed and felt it was easier to ignore it rather than to figure out how to safely do the updates and secure their site.

I hear it all too often “everything was working fine, so I didn’t want to update the site and risk breaking something”

I guess that seems to makes sense, after all we grew up hearing, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!”

But in business I learned about the Second Law of Thermodynamics which in a nutshell says “all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates and collapses”.  Yep folks, it’s a thing!

And when it comes to a website there can be huge costs associated with not updating your website on a regular basis. Things can get corrupted and security holes in plug-ins can be exploited by hackers. Technology on the Internet is changing all of the time which can break the code on your site, causing errors, and showing your users the scary screen of death.

Any one of these things can render your website completely useless and damage your credibility with customers. Your once affordable DIY site ends up costing you time and money that you hadn’t planned for.

There is no easy way around this one, websites need to be updated on a weekly basis, at the least. This is something you need to be aware of if you’re thinking about or have built your own DIY site.

I hate to say it but updates are like toilets. We all have them, we need them, they serve a purpose, and when we don’t clean them very often they get gross.

And just like a toilet, the more often you do it the less likely it is there will be problems.

If you’re still not sure you want to do it yourself there are plenty of small shops like mine that will customize a maintenance plan for you that won’t break your budget.

I’ve even worked with a few to train them how to do the updates themselves and provided a plan to help them with recovery if something did go wrong.

Sometimes you just need someone to walk you through the process the first few times until you get the feel for it.

If you can find a great web design shop that’s focused on small businesses, reach out and ask if they would be willing to put together a disaster recovery plan if you ever need them.

Just knowing you have backup when you need it can give you the peace of mind you need to face those pesky updates!

Happy updating!