It’s a good sign that economies around the world are slowly opening up to business as usual. But recent events have proven the unpredictability of the pandemic. If there’s one lesson we’ve learned since March 2020, it’s to respect Murphy’s Law. 

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency if your business is running at 100% capacity. A time might come – sooner than later – where an unfortunate turn of events will necessitate a shutdown of business if the world goes through another series of lockdowns. 

Protect your business from the dangers of today’s uncertain times by integrating a telecommuting program. 

Top 6 Tips For Running A Successful Telecommuting Program

We can all argue whether vaccination is necessary or not. However, we can’t argue about the importance of having a telecommuting program in place for your business. 

Think of the telecommuting program as a way of vaccinating your business without the side effects – if you do it right.

1. Introduce a Solid Telecommuting Policy In Your Office

Telecommuting isn’t a new concept. You can trace its origins to 2012 when then-Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer started a telecommuting program in the company. One year later, Meyer shut the program down, attributing the decision to its failure to significantly boost productivity. 

It seems like Meyer jumped ship too soon because one year after she discontinued the program, telecommuting grew by 6.5%

Meyer’s problems were a result of not having a solid telecommuting policy in place. 

While telecommuting has become more of a necessity today because of the pandemic, the program must be guided by policies that establish its conditions, goals, process flows, tech profile, and other matters that determine its success.

“How to Craft a Comprehensive Telecommuting Policy” can be the title of an entirely new article. For the time being, here’s a quick summary of the issues that should be addressed by your company’s telecommuting policy:

  • The Selection Process

It might come as a surprise to you but not everyone is cut out for telecommuting. Some employees actually prefer to work in an office because of their situation at home. 

Likewise, some employees might not be qualified for telecommuting. This might be true for newly-hired employees who are still dealing with a steep learning curve. Their performance metrics won’t be substantial enough to be entrusted with work-from-home duties. 

For these reasons, you have to come up with a selection process to identify the employees who best fit the ideal telecommuter profile. The selection process should consider workplace statistics, work ethics, recommendations from supervisors, and home/personal life conditions among others. 

We will discuss this topic in more detail in Tip #2.

  • Telecommuting Equipment and Online Tools 

If employees are using company equipment such as PCs, laptops, and tablets to work from home, the policy must clearly state that these items will be used for work-related purposes only. 

If the employee has to use his own computer at home, you have to make sure that the equipment can handle the demands of the job. Specify the required Internet bandwidth and memory storage for the computer. 

More importantly, check that the computer is equipped with your preferred security software. Remember, the telecommuters are accessing data outside the office’s secure network. 

We recommend that you regularly monitor the telecommuting team’s computers and take the necessary measures to protect your office network from potential breaches and attacks. 

The computers must have the latest version of the online tools that you plan to use for communication, project management, file sharing, and time management to name a few. 

  • The Hierarchy

Establish the hierarchy or the organizational structure of the telecommuting team. There must be a team leader or a supervisor who can oversee the activities of the telecommuters and keep track of their progress. 

Qualify and designate individuals to manage key areas of responsibility. For example, there must be someone that the team can rely on and contact for technical issues. 

Although the telecommuting team is working outside the confines of the office, it’s still part of the organization, and it must have the ability to function by itself. 

  • Work Schedule, Compensation, and Benefits

Telecommuters are spared the inconvenience of the daily commute. Also, they get to spend less on food and the other usual expenses of the 9-to-5 office lifestyle. Meanwhile, Full-Time Office Employee “A” receives the same salary but takes home less pay because he incurs more expenses related to work. 

Salary and total compensation can become a slippery slope to traverse if the telecommuting policy isn’t clearly defined in the company’s HR manual. You have to set up the work schedule as well as the policies governing the telecommuting program before you activate it. 

Circulating the memo isn’t enough. We strongly recommend that you take the time to discuss the provisions on work schedule and compensation with your workforce. 

Open the floor to receive questions from everyone. You might receive inputs that will help you fine-tune the telecommuting policy. 

2. Qualify the Right People for the Telecommuting Program

Let’s pick up where we left off from Tip #1…

To be clear, make sure that the telecommuting program doesn’t discriminate. It must be open to everyone. However, a qualifying process must be in place in order for the program to start out on the right track. 

No matter how many times you’ve reviewed its parameters, things can still go wrong when the telecommuting program goes live. Pioneering the program with the people who best fit the telecommuting profile will help reduce the risk of incurring costly mistakes. 

Here are 5 tips on how you can come up with a reliable qualifying process for the telecommuting program:

  • Review Personnel Metrics – Find out who among your employees has been consistently meeting benchmarks and performing at or above the desired numbers. 
  • Evaluate Work Ethics – Who among your employees has been diligent at work and behaving like a true professional? Look into their employee records. 

Employees who have acquired multiple incident reports and have a history of unreasonable tardiness should be at the bottom of the list of telecommuting candidates. 

  • Consider Tenure – Telecommuting might be a “must” but it’s still considered a privilege. As such, prioritize the most tenured employees to avail of this benefit. 

Those who have been newly hired or have been working with the company for less than one year are better off sharpening their skills in the office. 

  • What Do the Supervisors Say? – Once you have a shortlist of candidates, talk to their immediate supervisors and get their feedback. They might know these candidates more than you and can provide information that won’t show up in the employee metrics. 
  • Private Life – Since they’ll be working from home, it only makes sense to find out how their home life is. 

Pay a visit to the home of the telecommuting candidate. Talk to the wife and kids. Get a feel of the situation. Look around and see if the conditions are ideal for a work-from-home arrangement. 

Put your observations in a report and discuss your thoughts and opinions with the candidate. You’re not acting like the paparazzi. You’re only looking out for the interest of the company.

Don’t make your final decision until you’ve conducted a test run of the program. The test period can run for a minimum of 2 weeks. That should be enough time to get solid data about the program and the performance of the candidates. 

3. Design an Online Workflow

One of the biggest criticisms against a telecommuting program is that the lack of organization leads to many mistakes. In fact, this was an issue that was highlighted by Meyer in her explanation of why she discontinued the telecommuting program at Yahoo.

Meyer believed that close, shared space collaboration was superior to telecommuting because it makes performance easier to track and keeps everyone moving along the same timeline.

While there’s merit to Meyer’s statement, this issue can easily be remedied by having online workflows built into the telecommuting system. These workflows should cover:

  • File sharing
  • Project collaboration
  • Report generation and distribution
  • Timekeeping
  • Work/Project distribution
  • Work/Project submission
  • Communication 
  • Quality Control and Quality Assurance
  • Customer Support
  • Technical Support

When you have this process flow in place, it makes organization much easier to achieve. 

Everyone knows what to do, where to go, and whom to talk to. You can run the processes through software programs and apps and integrate them as part of the telecommuting system.

4. Schedule Regular Meetings 

Let’s assume 30% of your workforce comprises the telecommuter team. Guess what? It’s still business as usual. The place of work has changed but there’s still work to be done, deadlines to meet, and goals to achieve. 

Get on the conference call and schedule regular meetings with the telecommuting team. Set the schedule at a time and date where everyone is available. Create an agenda and distribute copies to all team members. Designate special topics for key people on the team. 

If possible, schedule a general meeting every quarter or end of the year with everyone – onsite personnel and the telecommuting team. Don’t leave anyone out. 

A survey conducted by Goodhire revealed that 61% of Americans don’t mind taking a pay cut if that would allow them to work from home. Your employees might feel the same way. 

You can temper these emotions by meeting with employees on a regular basis and addressing issues that could affect productivity and increase the attrition rate. 

5. Track the Performance of the Telecommuting Program

As with new business development strategies, find out how the telecommuting program is doing by tracking its performance. Create a performance criterion that includes the following variables:

  • Accuracy – Evaluate the quality of work of the telecommuters; find out if the output meets or exceeds prescribed standards and calculate the percentage of errors or mistakes. 
  • Statistics – Determine the rate of consistency of the telecommuting team in meeting deadlines. 
  • Work Ethics – Identify the rate of absenteeism and tardiness by reviewing the time logs. 
  • Measure the ROI – Calculate the output of the telecommuting team in dollar terms then measure the ROI by cross-referencing it with the budget or cost of managing the telecommuting team. 

With these types of data, you can readily identify which telecommuters are lagging and which ones are performing above expectations. 

6. Adopt a Flexible Telecommuting Program

Even if you’ve come up with a telecommuting policy that’s delivered results, its guidelines, processes, and provisions shouldn’t be set in stone. 

Here are 2 good reasons why you should adopt a flexible telecommuting program:

  • Telecommuting is People 

There’s more to managing a successful telecommuting program than just designating the employees with the best track record, experience, and skills to a work-from-home arrangement. 

People adjust to a telecommuting lifestyle differently. In fact, you’ll get to see more of who they are when they are working remotely. Believe it or not, working from home has a learning curve to it. There will be some employees who won’t get the processes right the first time. 

Be mindful of the situations that may arise as new employees become telecommuters. Some might make suggestions on how to improve the program and it would be a good idea to keep an open mind and adopt a few changes. 

  • Technology Continues to Innovate

Technology continues to innovate at warp speed. The app market is exploding with new tools that are designed to make life and work easier. 

Look at Zoom. At the height of the pandemic, people around the world opened a Zoom account to stay in touch with family, friends, associates, and clients. Zoom became the go-to choice of businesses to communicate and collaborate with their remote workers.

Within a few months, other tech companies came up with their own audio-video conferencing platform.

The tools you have in place today might be rendered obsolete by the latest apps coming out tomorrow. When you’re working with a remote team, efficiency is a primary factor for its success. 

However, don’t completely overhaul your existing tech profile. Like all online tools, there’s a learning curve to respect. It will take time to be proficient with its features. 

Start out with one new tool. Get used to it and see how it complements the other tools in the system. Track its performance and how the rest of the telecommuters are progressing with it. 

Conclusion

During the 2014 Global Leadership Summit in London, 34% of the attending companies said that they expect 50% of their workforce to work remotely by 2020. 

Telecommuting was the direction businesses were headed to – the pandemic just sped it up. Setting up a telecommuting program in your company is a good way to protect your business from uncertainties in the future.

Start out by crafting a telecommuter policy. Don’t expect it to be fool-proof. A good first step would be to confer with HR professionals and a lawyer to make sure everything is in accordance with local state regulations. 

Then, evaluate your current manpower roster. You might also want to hire freelancers for your telecommuting team. This could work and make the process easier because freelancers are experienced, remote workers. 

They have the equipment, the expertise, and depending on the arrangement, you might be able to significantly reduce costs by going with freelancers. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you will make mistakes and that’s perfectly fine. 

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They are part of the process. Mistakes will expose the weaknesses and flaws in your system so you can improve your telecommuting program. 

If you need assistance in setting up your telecommuting team, give us a call. We have experience qualifying, selecting, and managing remote talent and our team has generated positive results for our clients. 

Let’s have a quick call and get your business moving online right away!

And if you enjoyed this article and know of someone who’s thinking about incorporating telecommuting in his company, please share this article. 

2022 is just behind the corner and one thing’s clear: more entrepreneurs will set up websites for their businesses. How do we know? Just watch the news. The economy reopened to a new era of business where commerce finally realized the Internet isn’t such a bad place to be. 

The events of 2020 showed that if your business doesn’t have an online presence, it will become vulnerable to unforeseen, unprecedented events that seem unlikely to happen but still did. 

The pandemic also shook the employment landscape. 

While the unemployment rate in the U.S has improved, fewer Americans don’t want to return to work citing preferences for job security, more time with family, and their own work schedule as factors driving “The Great Resignation”. 

More Americans discovered the possibility and viability of running an online business. Whether they are operating an eCommerce business or working as freelancers, having a website greatly improves their chances of success. 

At Mountaintop, we’ve been getting more inquiries about personal websites, business websites, and eCommerce sites. Likewise, several of our clients have expressed interest in a redesign to accommodate changes in consumer behavior heading into 2022. 

It was our interactions with clients and prospects that led us to write this article on web designs in 2022 that will help your business succeed. 

Before the year ends, have a quick read-through of the 15 trends that we believe will influence website performance in 2022. Take note that the first 2 items on the list have to do with site functionality.

1. Speed, Speed, and More Speed

Web design isn’t just about its aesthetic appeal. Site functionality is an important component of web design because it influences User Experience. If your website looks good but doesn’t “feel good” to its user, he will click out. 

40% of website visitors will abandon their search if it takes more than 4 seconds for the web page to load. In fact, nearly 50% of marketers would gladly remove videos, animation features, and high-resolution images if it would improve page loading time. 

One of the most important rules of web design is to design for its user. People will have different perceptions of beauty and aesthetics but everyone wants a fast-loading website.

2. Better Website Security

As more people go online, the risk of being a victim of cyber-crime increases because there are more opportunities for these criminals to make money. Trust us when we say that consumers are wary of exploring websites that don’t have SSL certificates. 

In fact, when it comes to ensuring the security of your website, the first place to look into is your web hosting provider

The web host manages the servers that connect your website to the Internet. All of your assets will be stored on these servers. You have to be 100% confident that the web host provider you choose takes security seriously. Inadequate security protocols could open up your assets to the risk of being hacked and stolen by cybercriminals. 

A study by Cybercrime Ventures revealed that cybercrime will grow by an average of 15% annually and will cost global businesses US$10.5 trillion in 2025. It doesn’t cost much to install and/or upgrade your website’s security protocols. To make life easier for you, have the experts manage site security for you while you sleep. 

Many of our clients have signed up for our Extreme WordPress Care Plans. Our packages include regular backup of your site’s assets; 24/7 monitoring, auditing, and updating of installed programs and plugins, and conducting repairs and maintenance whenever the need arises.

Signing up for an Extreme WordPress Care plan is a small investment that pays out huge dividends for your business. Losing valuable assets to cyber-criminals including your customers’ personal information can shut down your business for good. 

3. Greater Use of Elements That Express Fun, Positive Vibes, and Optimism

After the challenges and difficulties imposed by the pandemic, more people want to experience more positivity and optimism in the world – and that includes the Internet.

In business, you don’t have to wear a suit, tie, pressed slacks, and wingtips all the time. There are occasions when customers and clients actively engage more when you’re wearing a simple dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, casual pants, and loafers. 

The same can be said about a website. A homepage that looks too formal or serious can be perceived as “unwelcome”, “dark”, and “boring”. Given the uncertainty of the times, it would be a good idea to perk up your website with the use of elements that express fun, positive vibes, and optimism. 

And it’s not hard to do!

  • Greet your site visitors with an image of a smiling face.
  • Add funky-looking, offbeat shapes or accent the design with sassy, unconventional colors. 
  • Embed animation that can be seen as charming, winsome, and adorable. 

Loosen up a bit and use design elements that make your website visitors feel good and happy.

4. Black and White Themes

The use of Black and White themes is almost the default on every annual article about website design trends. Black and white themes are simple, yet convey elegance and a sense of sophistication.

As web designers, our creative sensibilities are challenged and pushed to the boundaries because we cannot rely on color as an aesthetic element. We have to create designs that greatly contrast light and darkness – and the end result is always awesome!

Black and white themes also effectively define space, boundaries, and add substance to the design. There’s a lot of beauty in simplicity. You can’t go wrong with black and white themes.

5. Interactive Features

An interactive design keeps visitors more engaged on your website. The better the level of engagement the lower the bounce rate. In line with the preference for designs that express more fun and positivity, web designers have added features intended to charm and delight the audience. 

A good example would be the use of interactive fonts. For sure, many of our readers have come across interactive fonts where the letters move whenever they hover the mouse over them. 

The great thing about interactive fonts is that this feature can be created with a no-code platform. This means that the application software can be developed without the need for traditional programming. A simple graphical user interface and configuration will do.

6. Offset Elements

An offset element is a technique in web design where one component partially goes to the next section and overlaps. For web designers, incorporating offset elements allows us to expand the boundaries of creativity and explore the possibilities. 

Parallax drawing which will be discussed later is a variation of using offset elements. Another offset element technique is called Variable Shadow Depths. 

With the use of Variable Shadow Depths, the web designer manipulates certain components of light in order to add more substance and intensity to the image. Offset elements is another approach to giving web design a 3D feel.

7. Writing Inclusive Copy For An Inclusive Website

Publishing optimized content is great but this isn’t enough for your audience. Using programs that find the best keywords and test the quality of links is a smart idea but adding an intuitive element will take your content to the next level.

Writing inclusive copy means creating content that doesn’t leave anyone out. To do this requires the content writers to go beyond the usual practice of identifying demographics for the Audience Profile. 

They have to study and develop a keen understanding of culture, identity, educational attainment, and most importantly, the needs of people with disabilities. 

Making your website accessible to people with disabilities is important for 2022 in view of the provisions of the American Disabilities Act of 2010. If your website isn’t accessible to disabled people, you could face lawsuits and penalties. 

You can read up more on how to make your website ADA compliant in our article “4 Ways To Check Website Accessibility”. 

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8. Simplified, One-Page Websites

One-page websites are becoming more popular because it makes exploration simpler, easier, and faster. 

Visitors who land on one-page websites don’t have to worry about finding the menu bar. All they have to do is to scroll down and they’ll find all of the information they need. 

Keep in mind that one-page websites work best when the purpose of the site isn’t complex. For example, a one-page website would be ideal for a personal blog but not for a business website with an e-commerce portal. 

9. The Return of Art Deco

Art Deco is a form of art that was popular in the 1920s. The style is defined as an approach that combines the elements of the natural world with the innovations of the industrial age. 

Think of the fashion, sense of style, and the prevailing decorations featured in “ The Great Gatsby” – the use of grey, black, white colors; emphasis on symmetry and balance, and simplicity. 

You can see a good number of home page designs that showcase an image seemingly embossed with repetitive patterns that are symmetrical with each other. 

Art Deco has become vogue once again because it presents a design that’s simple yet, elegant and sophisticated at the same time. 

10. The Use of Larger and More Daring Font Styles

The use of larger and more daring font styles will be one of the most popular trends in web design in 2022 and beyond. Why? 

First, they grab attention. While the font style will matter, the web designer can be more creative and step out of his comfort zone by experimenting with unconventional and daring font styles such as serifs.

Second, a larger and more daring font style can complement or augment web design. Your web copy becomes more than just information. It contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the website.

Third, the right font style and size can get your message across immediately. Your copy will be set up nicely even on small screen sizes such as for smartphones. The visitor will not have a hard time reading your content and will have a better experience on your website. 

11. Parallax Drawing  

Parallax drawing is a web design technique whereby the background moves slower than the foreground and produces a 3D-like impression. Some have described Parallax as a web design approach that creates an optical illusion. 

The idea behind Parallax is based on the observation that the naked eye views objects closer to us as larger while those in the background appear to be active or moving. 

Web designers use Parallax in order to add depth and dynamism to the website. The result is a more enthralling browsing experience that greatly increases audience engagement. 

11. Gender-neutral Design

Web designers who are women and create websites for products catered to women such as beauty products tend to use elements that are associated with femininity. 

Similarly, web designers who are men and create websites for products catered to men such as power tools tend to use elements that are associated with masculinity.

The reality is men spend money on skincare and hair products. Women buy power tools and don’t mind doing home repair work. The times haven’t really changed. It’s just that we’ve been brainwashed to think that preferences are limited by gender. 

Pink is no longer associated by consumers with feminine products as images of fire and wolves are not just for products that are targeted at men. It comes down to which colors and images can deliver the message or the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) accurately.

While marketers still refer to the Color Wheel, notions about which color or image appeals more to which gender is no longer practiced. In 2022, design won’t be limited to gender-associated elements. The approach would be to design the website as gender-neutral. 

13. Imageless Homepages

It used to be the norm that the homepage must contain an image. This is because the homepage is the primary landing page. If someone clicks on your URL, he will be redirected to the homepage. 

Given that images elicit a reaction faster than text, it was almost a default decision to have an image embedded in the homepage. 

Not anymore. 

Creativity doesn’t want to be contained. There aren’t any hard rules on how a homepage should look to be effective. 

As we mentioned in #5, interactive features can greatly enhance User Experience. Likewise in #10, the use of larger and more daring font styles can be equally effective. Instead of the usual high-resolution images, we can use colorful graphics, especially artwork that’s been customized for your website.

14. Split-Screen Design

Websites are incorporating split-screen designs to create more contrast between the elements. It’s a great way to break up design patterns and make them look more exciting and dynamic. 

If you want the visitor to focus on a specific element of the design – such as an image, a color, or text – using the split-screen technique will do the trick. It’s an effective way of isolating a component of the design to create more interest. 

 15. Incorporating Large Footers

A footer is a design element that functions as a navigation tool for website visitors. They’ll show you where to fill out contact forms, find new products and services, or special offers. 

Web designers also view a footer as a safety net – a last-second attempt to get the visitor interested in case he wasn’t enticed by the contents of the previous sections. 

Thus, incorporating large footers in design can improve optimization and User Experience by making it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. Also, it can give your search rankings a boost by encouraging visitors to stay longer on your website. 

Conclusion

The last few years have been hard on everyone including business owners. It’s no surprise that trends in website design for 2022 have shifted toward embracing elements that highlight fun, optimism, and excitement. 

The shift in design preferences reflects the mindset of consumers who desire brighter and better days ahead after a tumultuous 2020 and an unpredictable 2021. 

Don’t get complacent about your current website design. It may not resonate with the generation of consumers who are getting ready for 2022. Give us a call and we’ll give you a free audit on your site. 

And if you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with someone who’s planning to put up his/her own website.

If you want to put up a website for your business, get it done right by hiring the best web development agency. Developing a website isn’t an expense. It’s an investment that can pay out dividends attractively and consistently for your business if it does what it’s supposed to do. 

And building a website doesn’t have to be expensive. There are web development agencies that can design a website to fit your budget without compromising on its functionality, effectiveness, and aesthetics. 

Do it right, do it once by trusting your website with the best web development agency for your business. We’re here to tell you how.

Why Do You Need A Website For Your Business?

A website allows you to capitalize on opportunities that are available on the Internet every day. You’re no longer limited by 4 walls, geographic location, and hours of operation. Your business can be accessed 24/7 by anyone from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. 

Think about it. Potential customers from different continents are exploring your website to learn more about your business and if you could be a supplier or strategic partner – while you’re sleeping. 

If you have a fully-functioning, secure, and professionally-managed website, customer inquiries could be responded to within hours via chat or email. Prospective clients could be viewing your videos or reading your content. Buyers could be providing you with their email addresses and contact information. 

The website becomes a machine that constantly generates leads, enhances your online presence, and builds your business brand. 

A Poorly Designed Website Is Bad For Business!

On the flip side, a website that isn’t accessible to mobile devices frequently encounters technical issues and doesn’t assure visitors of data protection and safety will do the opposite for your business. 

Your brand will be tarnished. Your website won’t appear on the first page of the search results – probably not even on the second or third page. 

Prospective customers might view the poorly designed website as a representative of how you run your business – inefficient, irresponsible, inept, and inadequately managed.

How To Qualify The Best Web Development Agency For Your Business

Problems on the website happen because entrepreneurs don’t spend time qualifying the web development agencies that offer their services. They search the Internet or ask friends for recommendations and once they have the contact numbers, they’ll reach out to them and ask for a proposal. 

What are the duties and responsibilities of a web development agency? In addition to designing a website, running tests, and working with graphic designers, a web development agency performs the following tasks:

  • Run frequent website audits to look for potential technical issues, unused and outdated plugins, and other pain points. 
  • Perform maintenance work on the site. 
  • Conduct repairs if the site goes down.
  • Protect the website from cyber-attacks by equipping it with the latest security software and instituting safety procedures. 

Thus, what you are looking for is a web development agency that can be your partner in running the business by keeping your website in excellent working condition every day. 

We’re here to tell you that the qualifying process should start even before you request a proposal. Finding the right web development agency is important because the website is an asset that will be instrumental in growing your business. 

1. Conduct Due Diligence

Like other businesses that are operating in an industry with high growth prospects, the technology industry is teeming with fly-by-night web development agencies that are out to make a quick buck out of their clients. 

Even if the recommendations come from friends and associates, always conduct diligence on the web development agencies before reaching out to them.

  • Run a Google Search – Just type the name of the agency on the query box and run a Google search. You might be surprised at what turns up! 
  • Check Out Their Websites – The proof of the web developer is on their website. Click their URL and assess your experience.
  • Did their website load fast – under 3 seconds? 
  • Are the icons working properly? 
  • Can you access all of the pages without issue? 
  • Does the website set up properly on your smartphone? 
  • Does the website have SSL certificates? 
  • How do the visuals appeal to you? 
  • Is the content well-written? 
  • Are there errors in grammar and spelling? 
  • Are there client testimonials?
  • Visit Their Social Media Pages – Go to the agency’s social media pages. Find out how many followers it has. Read the posts and assess the level of engagement.

Read the comments. Are there complaints about the quality of work? How did the agency respond to these complaints? Was the response time fast? 

  • Ask Around – Ask people who have been in the industry for a long time about the agencies that were recommended to you. Find out if there are red flags and get their opinions if you should do business with them.

2. Find Out If The Agency Is A Good Fit For You

A partner is someone you can trust in the long haul. Like all relationships, you must be compatible with the web development agency. A better way to put it is that the agency must be a good fit for you. 

The level of fit can be assessed during your meeting by asking questions that uncover the Why, the What, the How, and the Who.

Tip: If the owner of the web development agency is the person who meets with you – THAT is a very good sign of fit! If an agency values you NOW as a prospect that the owner took the time to meet with you, it’s a good bet, the agency will value you more as a client.

  • The “Why” – Ask why the owner/founder decided to open a web development business. Find out if his motivations are similar to yours when you started your business.
  • The “What” – Ask for examples of their work and for client referrals. If the agency gives you a list of clients, reach out to them and ask about their experiences working with the agency.
  • The “How” – Learn more about the agency’s approach to web design and development Find out if they offer dedicated web hosting services and how often they run website backups. 
  • The “Who” – It’s okay to get a bit personal. Divert the business talk to more personal matters. Talk about family. Ask the owner what he does in his spare time. Exchange beliefs and practices. Share common experiences. 

Uncovering the “Who” helps you figure out the best way to work with the agency.

WebsiteSecurity.Protection.Monitoring

3. Do They Understand Your Business? 

Not all websites are the same. There is a type of website for every business. Before the web development agency can design a website, it must have a good understanding of your business and what you expect it to do for you. 

  • What kind of website do you need? 

A responsible web development agency will conduct research about your business. You’ll know off the bat if the agency you’re dealing with is dependable if, during your first meeting, the representatives present you with detailed research on your industry. 

They’ll ask you the right questions and seek clarification of your goals and objectives. 

If you want to use the website to sell products, the agency can recommend an e-commerce site or a basic business website with a built-in e-commerce portal. For brand-building purposes, the agency might recommend including a blog page plus social sharing icons. 

  • How should it perform? 

A website must be functional and user-friendly. Ask the web design agency what the criteria for a top-performing website are. The criteria should include the following:

  • Mobile-responsive
  • Fast loading
  • Accessible
  • Fully-functioning buttons for sharing
  • Strong CTA
  • How will it look? 

Yes, people are attracted to beautiful websites but aesthetics should never come at the expense of functionality. 

The web development agency can present to you a design that’s worthy of the Louvre in Paris, France but if visitors can’t make heads or tails of where to go after the homepage, they’ll click out of your website.

  • What would its features be? 

The features of your website will depend on what you need and what your goals and objectives are. 

Going back to our example, if you need an e-commerce site to sell your supplement line, the web development agency might recommend having a zoom-in feature so that visitors can closely read the ingredients on the label.

If you’re coming up with a website for your resort business, the agency might recommend having a 360-degree feature on a standard room, the facilities, and other amenities. 

4. Negotiating the Cost of the Website  

One of the most commonly cited reasons by business owners as to why they don’t have a website is its cost. Many believe that a website costs a lot of money and that the monthly cost of maintaining it is unsustainable. 

The cost of a website would depend on the type of website you need. A basic business or personal website shouldn’t cost more than US$500 while an eCommerce website can cost anywhere from US$5,000 (up to 100 products) to US$55,000 (1,000 products_. 

An informational business website can cost you from US$2,000 to US$9,000 depending on the number of pages. 

Ask the following questions when you’re negotiating the cost of the website:

  • How many mockups? 
  • Is the Agency open to a trial/test period of 3-4 weeks? 
  • How much will the monthly management fee cost?

When you receive a quotation from the web development agency, keep in mind 2 things.

One is that the quotation is probably on the high side as they are expecting you to negotiate a lower price. Two, everything is negotiable – so negotiate!

5. How Does the Agency View the Relationship? 

There are some web development agencies that won’t say anything until they’re asked. Since this is your first website, you’re unaware that unless you say so, the web development agency will own your website. 

100% make sure YOU own the website when it’s been turned over to you. If the worst-case scenario happens and you lose ownership of the website, its contents, design, and other assets could be used for another website.

A web development agency that doesn’t disclose the final ownership of the site cannot be trusted. Getting full ownership of the website must be established before work can start. 

It’s important to cover the engagement with a Confidentiality Agreement and it must be stated in the Memorandum of Agreement that you own the website after it’s been turned over to you.

Bonus Section: Top 10 Questions To Ask A Web Development Company

  1. What are the stages of your web development process?
  2. How long will it take to complete the website and have it turned over to us?
  3. How would I be involved in the development of my website?
  4. Will you dedicate a day in the week to update us on the developments of our website?
  5. How many pages are covered by your proposed budget?
  6. Can you give us examples of the websites you’ve designed and developed?
  7. Can we talk to your clients?
  8. What is covered by your monthly management fee? 
  9. Will you accommodate us if we need consultation after you’ve turned over the site?
  10.  We want to own the website and its assets. Are you agreeable to this? 

Conclusion

Hiring a web development agency is similar to hiring an employee for your business. 

You want to hire the best talent in the market; the one who can help you grow your business. This is the employee who dutifully performs his functions and consistently delivers the desired results. 

To find the best talent, your job applicants go through a process that may look something like this:

  • Resumes go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  • Recruiter reviews the resume.
  • Candidates are scheduled for the preliminary interview.
  • Candidates go through a series of tests – Basic office skills, group work, and Psychological/Behavioral testing. 
  • Candidates go through a final interview. 
  • References and work documents are reviewed and verified. 
  • Salary and benefits are discussed and negotiated. 
  • Candidates are given contracts and hired.

The hiring process might seem tedious and won’t guarantee that you’ll get the best employees for your business. But the risks of hiring bad eggs for your business are much less compared to not having a system and just signing up whoever comes along. 

And when it comes to a website – a tool that keeps your business running 24/7 – those are risks that you simply do not want to take. 

We wouldn’t be writing this article if we didn’t know the topic by heart. We’ve heard the horror stories from our clients and we’re grateful for the opportunities they gave to us to turn their businesses around.

If you’re thinking about having a website for your business or having your current one improved upon, give us a call or drop us an email. 

We design WordPress websites for our clients and several have signed up for our WordPress Extreme Care packages. Each package has been customized to meet the business needs and budget of our clients. 

Once you avail of our Extreme WordPress Care package, you can sleep comfortably every night knowing that your website is safe, secure, and protected by trusted people. Let’s have a conversation over coffee or a chat over the phone to get started. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with a friend or associate who wants a website for their business. 

How do you know if your dinner party was a success? If you see your guests engaging with one another; making new connections, getting involved in lively banter, and if you notice more people staying than heading home, it’s safe to say you hosted a successful dinner party. 

The same can be said for your social media marketing strategy. If your posts aren’t generating engagement with your followers, increasing the number of likes, shares, or followers, and if more people are leaving your page than staying, it’s safe to say your social media marketing hasn’t been successful.

What Exactly Does Social Media Engagement Mean?

Social media engagement is no different from the example we made about hosting a dinner party. We can define it as the level of activity in your social media community that’s measurable by the number of likes, shares, and comments. 

While some marketers validate the success of their social media strategy by the increase in the number of followers, the truth is, a better measure of success is the degree of communication or interaction between your business and its followers. 

The ideal outcome from your social media marketing strategy is having an engaged audience, not a passive one. 

An engaged audience is composed of people who are really interested in your message. They are actively communicating with you and others because they want to learn more about or share their opinions and ideas with others in the community. 

Thus, when you’re trying to build the online presence of your business, you must always focus on the quality of your followers, not just the quantity.

What Are The Benefits Of Increased Social Media Engagement?

If your posts aren’t engaging with your audience, it means your audience is engaging with your competitors. And you don’t want that because you’re losing opportunities to grow your business. 

For this reason, we always recommend to our clients that the social media strategy should prioritize increasing the level of engagement. 

What other benefits should you expect to get by increasing social media engagement?

  1. Build Your Brand By Humanizing Your Business – Chatbots are great but human chat agents can provide one thing that the bots can’t – feedback. Communicating directly with your customers humanizes your business because it shows that you care about their concerns and opinions. 
  1. Foster Strong and Sustainable Relationships – Customers prefer to patronize a brand they can identify with. Through strong engagement, customers will come to realize that your brand shares the same ideals, values, and beliefs as they do.
  1. Enhance Customer Support Services – Even the most irate customer will appreciate the effort you put to try and resolve his problem in a social media thread or private chat. 
  1. More Cost-effective Than Other Forms of Marketing – Creating a post that generates a ton of engagement through shares, likes, and comments will widen your reach and enhance your brand faster and more effectively than printing and handing out 5,000 flyers to random people. 
  1. Present Social Proof of Your Business – What would be your perception of a business if you visit its social media page and see a lot of followers and notice that the posts are constantly liked, shared, and lined with comments? You’d be more encouraged to patronize the brand, right? 

The same can be said about your business if you improve its level of social media engagement.

3 Key Steps To Developing An Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy 

Before we go through our tips on how to increase social media engagement, let’s make sure your social media strategy is moving in the right direction.

Step 1 – Review Your Social Media Numbers

In order to establish your goals, review your current social media marketing numbers and assess its performance thus far. 

  • How many followers do you have?
  • What is your Audience Reach?
  • What is your Engagement Level?
  • Which posts generated the most engagement?
  • Which posts didn’t generate engagement?
  • Did your posts drive traffic to your website? 

Once you have the social media numbers summarized, it will be easier to set your targets.

Step 2 – Get To Know Your Audience

If you’re involved in the fitness industry and 70% of your audience are vegans, why would you keep posting about hamburgers and steaks? 

Get to know your audience so that your content writing strategy will have a direction:

  • Which types of content do they like to read?
  • Do they prefer videos, images, or text content?
  • Where do they come from?
  • What device do they use to access social media?
  • What issues and concerns do they want to address? 
  • What are the demographics?

Create an Audience Profile and use this to plan out your content marketing strategy. 

Step 3 – Plan Your Content 

Now that you’ve identified your goals and have an idea of who your audience is, it’s time to plan your content strategy.

The type and quality of content are factors that drive engagement. Your content marketing toolbox should consist of a variety of processes and tactics and there are many to choose from:

  • Blogs
  • Surveys
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Curated Content
  • GIFs
  • Stories
  • A Day in the Life
  • Contests and Giveaways

The next step is knowing how to create content that will encourage greater engagement from your audience.

10 Tips On How To Increase Social Media Engagement

Setting up social media accounts for your business is a great way to get your products and services noticed by your target audience. 

However, posting for the sake of posting on social media won’t get you the desired results. This has become a harsh reality for many entrepreneurs who are using social media to promote their businesses.

They thought “My posts on my personal social media page are always getting likes, shares, and comments. Why can’t I get the same results for my business page?”

That’s because your community of followers on your social media and business pages is different. Your purpose is also different. 

On your personal page, you like to update your current status. On your business page, you’re trying to get your followers to patronize your business. 

Therefore, the approaches to increasing social media engagement in more likes, shares, and followers and most importantly, creating more engaged followers are different. 

1. Join Relevant Special Interest Groups

Look at your list of Facebook friends. We’re sure that you can categorize them into different groups based on their interests. For example, you might be able to arrange your friends into the following interest groups:

  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • Coffee drinkers
  • Guitar players
  • Chefs at home
  • Comic book collectors

So if you post about the new HIIT workout you tried this morning, your friends from the fitness enthusiasts interest group will actively engage in your content. The same can be said for your coffee drinking friends if you share your experience at the new Dutch coffee bar that opened near your place.

You can expect higher engagement levels if you join interest groups that are relevant to your business. 

For example, if you’re in the Software Development business that designs programs and apps for recruitment, joining the following interest groups might benefit you:

  • Human Resources 
  • Manpower Agencies
  • Small Business
  • Start-Ups
  • Hotel and Restaurant 
  • Manufacturing
  • Sales 

The key is to engage with the group members first and win their trust. Don’t share your content right away. Join active discussions and contribute ideas. 

The more active you participate in the discussions, the greater the interest your fellow members might have in your business. You might not be aware of it, but a few co-members could be checking your business page and reading its contents.

2. Repost Content from Followers

Once you’ve been accepted into an interest group, a good strategy would be to share a fellow member’s content. You can repost it on your business page and/or personal page. 

Your fellow group members will appreciate it. Trust us when we say, they will reciprocate in kind in the future.

Do the same thing with your followers. If someone posts a reference on a thread on your business page, repost it and give credit to the follower who contributed the link. 

If the link is from a follower’s business page and the reference is relevant and useful – share and repost it. 

Actively engaging with your followers will make them feel good and appreciated. It will encourage them to engage more in your social media posts. 

3. Get Influencers Onboard

Getting an influence onboard can be costly but he/she can get your content and business noticed right away. A person becomes an influencer when he/she has amassed an impressive number of followers who trust his/her opinions. 

According to the 2020 Report by Influencer Marketing Hub, you can earn US$18 in media value for every US$1 spent on an influencer. 

By getting an influencer to share your content, you are leveraging his/her massive base of followers – but this comes at a price. The influencer knows his/her follower base is a cash cow and he/she will milk you for its use. 

Another option is to get an influencer who isn’t as well-known or established in your industry but has a good enough number of followers to warrant a marketing arrangement. 

Try to negotiate a win-win arrangement. For example, offer commission-based payouts or free items in exchange for the influencer sharing your content or mentioning your business in his/her social media channels. 

4. Personalize Your Responses

If your post landed one comment, personalize your response even if the comment posted by your follower is negative. 

All comments are assets. If a follower says something unfavorable about your content, don’t get triggered and exchange fire. Take a deep breath, compose your thoughts, and remain professional.

A negative comment still shows the person took the time to share his opinion on your post. For that alone, he should be commended. Likewise, the comment opens the door for engagement. 

Let’s assume that you’re in the business of selling supplements and you posted content on your social media about the health benefits of creatine. Your lead-in to the post read:

“Creatine is a substance that our body develops naturally but not enough to generate the same health benefits if you were to take it in supplement form.”

A follower named Daniel posts the following comment:

“Creatine is overrated. Everyone knows it can lead to hair loss, kidney and organ failure because it draws water to your muscles. You should be more responsible about what you post and include the cons, not just the pros. Value our health over your profit.”

Respond to Daniel in this manner:

“Thank you for your comment, Daniel! We appreciate and trust that we do value the health of our customers. The fact is the study on hair loss was only conducted by one research group that could not validate the result. 

“Regarding the consequences of creatine, as with all supplements, it’s very important to follow directions on use correctly. Even Vitamin C can have health consequences if taken irresponsibly. 

“You can refer to our previous blogs on creatine that we always advise our readers to drink plenty of water after taking it. If you have other questions, Daniel, please feel free to reach out.” 

5. Generate Conversation

Sometimes all you need to increase social media engagement is to generate conversation by posting a question to your community. 

For example, you’re in the business of selling California wines, you can generate a discussion in your community by posting this question:

“Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon with Filet Mignon is an Excellent Wine and Steak Pairing! How Do You Pair Your Wine with Your Steak?”

You can be assured that your followers who are wine aficionados would be chomping at the bit to share their ideas with you! 

Try to add a high-resolution image of your subject matter, in this case of the Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon and Filet Mignon to captivate your readers.

6. Add Hashtags

Hashtags are keywords that are used by people to search for a particular topic. You’ve probably seen your friends add hashtags to their posts. The keywords are preceded by the symbol “#” and the words are strung together. 

Sometimes the words are differentiated by a capitalized letter. For example, #MakeAWish or #ChillOutTime. 

The important thing to remember is that the hashtag must be relevant to your topic. This way, anybody who wants to search for content that’s related to your post can just do a search via hashtag.

Finally, don’t go crazy with hashtags. No doubt you’ve come across posts that have 10 hashtags. That’s too much! The message might get misunderstood. Worse, your followers might get annoyed. 

7. Use Images and Videos

Creating posts with videos or images has been proven effective in driving social media engagement simply because these forms of content can deliver the message faster and clearer than text-based content. 

Here are 4 tips on how to choose videos or images for social media posting:

  • The video or image has to be relevant to your products and services so that it will resonate with your target audience. 
  • For social media channels that can deliver content in various formats such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, videos that are no more than 2 minutes long deliver the best results in increasing engagement. 
  • For social media channels that are primarily for video streaming such as YouTube, you’ll get higher engagement levels on videos that are more than 10 minutes long. 
  • Use images that are colorful and have high resolution. You can combine with text content such as statistics or facts to make an Infographic.

8. Conduct Surveys

Conducting surveys have 2 immediate benefits for your business.

First, surveys will create immediate engagement with your audience. Second, you get data that will give you ideas on how to improve your business, its products, and services. 

If you’re running a bed and breakfast business and there’s a long holiday weekend coming up, you can post a survey about the kind of festivity that your guests might want to see in your hotel:

  • Jazz band
  • Outdoor movie
  • Backyard BBQ
  • Fireworks display
  • Garden buffet

When you’re conducting a survey, schedule it on a date that will give you enough time to gather and assess the data and to prepare for the event. 

9. Stage Contests or Giveaways

Question: “What makes a good burger great?”

Answer: “When it’s for FREE!”

Everyone loves to participate in contests and giveaways because they have a chance to win stuff for free. 

Key things to remember when running contests on your social media page:

  • The item must be in demand.
  • Give complete details on the mechanics of the contest.
  • Make sure you have enough stock of the product. 
  • Clarify charges or fees, if any. For example, if shipping charges are for the account of the contest winner. 

Staging contests or giveaways on your social media page will definitely get your audience engaged. 

  10. Be Strategic When Posting

It’s important to stay active in social media to remain top-of-mind with your audience. For example, on Facebook, the latest studies recommend posting no more than 1-2 times per day and 3 times per week. 

The recommendations are a stark contrast to the practice carried out by marketers years ago that required them to post 1-2 times 5 days a week. The focus has shifted to the quality of the post over quantity. 

You have to be strategic when posting otherwise, your posts might annoy your followers. 

Think about the time when a business page you followed kept posting sales-type content? All you see on your news feed are posts from the business page to “Buy This” or “Buy That”. Over time, all of that sales content will come out as noise. 

Here are 3 tips on posting content:

  • The post must have value to your audience. This is where a survey helps. 
  • Mix it up. 

For example, Monday is for your latest blog. Wednesday is for videos or images and can be used for sales-type copy. Friday is curated content day. 

Review your page metrics to be sure of the types of content to post on a specific day of the week.

  • Apply some of the tips provided above such as the use of videos or images, adding hashtags, and responding to all comments. 

Conclusion

Always remember that increasing social media engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It requires consistency, persistence, and patience. You might not see any significant improvement right away and that’s okay. There’s a learning curve to be respected in every activity.

We like to stress the importance of tracking the performance of the strategy by constantly reviewing your page’s metrics. Use the data to tweak your strategy. In time, you’ll get a better feel of social media and how to drive engagement levels up. 

If you’re truly desirous of taking your social media engagement to the next level, let us handle it while you focus on running the business. Give us a call or drop us an email so we can get started. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

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A digital marketing strategy cannot be complete without PPC ads in the toolbox. To be clear, you can run your digital marketing campaign using purely organic, unpaid processes such as optimized content marketing, social media marketing, and video-based marketing techniques. 

Organic digital marketing won’t cost much but the results could take time because your efforts are intended to target potential end-users and drive them to your website where its features can hopefully convert interest into sales. 

How much time are we talking about? The results might vary depending on the effectiveness of your organic digital marketing plan but it won’t be as fast as using paid channels such as PPC ads.

What Is PPC Advertising?

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click advertising. This is a form of paid digital marketing whereby the advertiser pays a fee to the agency or platform whenever someone clicks on his ad. 

The great thing about PPC advertising is that it’s the fastest way to get visitors to your website because when a viewer clicks on your ad, he ends up on your landing page. 

In contrast, if you utilize unpaid or organic forms of digital marketing, you’ll be relying on your content to entice the reader to go to your website. It can be a hit or miss especially if your content isn’t optimized for search engines. 

The first step in PPC advertising is to research the best keywords for your ads. Once you identify these keywords, you pay the agency to use them in your PPC ads. There are 2 PPC models to choose from:

  • Flat or Fixed Rate PPC – The agency has a fixed price per keyword and you pay this fee every time someone clicks on your ad. 
  • Bid Type PPC – In this model, you bid the highest amount of money that you’re willing to pay for the keyword. The agency starts an auction that’s activated whenever a visitor clicks on the ad. 

The biggest benefit of PPC advertising is that the agency places your ad directly in front of consumers who would most likely be interested in buying your product or service. 

How Does PPC Advertising Work?

We refer to the service provider as an agency but these platforms are the search engines like Google and social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. 

Therefore, these agencies have algorithms in place that allow them to gather data about users’ online behavior. The agency will use the data to create a buyer’s profile – the people who are most likely to buy your product. 

Once the agency has targeted your market, your ads will appear on their news feed or home page. Therefore, the chances of people clicking on your ad are greater because based on their search history, these are the ones who have shown interest in products and services that are similar to yours. 

As the largest search engine on the Internet, it was a natural transition for Google to venture into paid advertising. The search engine giant acquired YouTube in 2006. 

YouTube is the second largest search engine and one of the most popular social media platforms on the Internet. The acquisition is widely considered one of the best business moves in the technology market as it increased the reach of Google and YouTube ad placements. 

Although PPC ads use keywords which is the cornerstone of optimized content, this can be a hit-or-miss strategy as well. Choose the wrong keywords and you won’t get the desired results. Choose the right keywords and you could be raking in the sales. 

Put it this way. Let’s assume, your PPC costs have run up to US$20 but these ads delivered 200 visits to your website. If one or a few of those visits were converted into sales worth US$200, then the investment was well worth it.

Of course, that’s an oversimplification of the process. Seeing results from your PPC advertising efforts isn’t cut and dry. There’s no fixed timetable to see when your investment pays out dividends. 

How To Measure Return On Your PPC Ad Investment

PPC is a form of paid digital advertising. There’s a cost to running a PPC ad campaign. Thus, even if you made a sale or a few sales, your PPC campaign can’t be considered a success if the total sales earned are lower than the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

The CPA answers the question, “How much did the sale cost me?”

Let’s go back to our previous example when your PPC ad cost you US$20. If the US$20 generated 2 sales, then your CPA is US$10. So, while you made some money in terms of sales, did the PPC ad campaign generate a win or a loss?

It would depend on the total amount of the sale. If the 2 units sold generated US$40 worth of sales, then clearly, the PPC ad campaign was a win. In terms of Return on Investment, you made an ROI of 100%:

US$40 (Total Sales) – US$20 (Cost of PPC) = US$20 (Net Sales)

US$20/US$20 = 1:1 or 100% ROI

Conversely, if both sales only generated US$10 then, your PPC ad campaign incurred a loss and a negative ROI.

With a clearer idea of how to measure success in PPC, let’s go back to the original question posed by this section of the article.

How Long Before I See Results From PPC Ads?

As we mentioned earlier in this article, you can get quick results with PPC advertising. These results refer to the number of visitors your website receives. PPC ads drive traffic to your website as soon as someone clicks on your ad. 

A PPC ad campaign can also improve brand visibility. If your keyword game is spot on, then your ad will appear at the top of the search results. Your ad will appear before your target audience.

It doesn’t matter if the person clicks on your ad or not. Many in the audience will see your products for the first time. At the very least, your brand will be recognizable to your target audience. If they come across your content in social media, they will recognize your logo and might decide to click on your website URL. 

While driving traffic to your website is certainly important, results are ultimately measured in terms of sales. You can have thousands of people visiting your website every day but if you’re not converting interest into sales, then your investment in PPC ads isn’t paying off. 

Unlike website visits and brand awareness, the goal of converting interest into sales is more complicated because 2 factors could affect the desired outcome.

The first factor is the CPA. You have to manage your CPA and keep its cost as low as possible. The second factor to consider is your landing page. A well-designed landing page that effortlessly gets the value proposition across, navigable, user-friendly, and optimized for search engines will improve your conversion rate.

From our experience, you should expect to see positive results from your PPC ad campaign beginning Month #3.  

Why? To manage these factors, you have to constantly monitor the performance of your PPC ad campaign and make the necessary changes. And to evaluate the performance accurately, you need data. 

What To Expect When Running PPC Ads

When you launch your PPC ad campaign, you won’t get much data at all. The wheels have just started to turn and they don’t have the traction to gain a foothold in the market. 

Don’t get discouraged if the numbers aren’t rolling in yet. This is good because it gives you enough time to get ready when the numbers start to come in hard and fast. 

To help you out, we’ve created a timeline of what to expect during the first 3 months of your PPC ad campaign. Use our timeline to help you and your team prepare the correct game plan for a winning PPC strategy.

Month #1 – Data Gathering

It may come in trickles but start gathering data on the number of likes and clicks. There’s a way to speed up the process and that is by broadening your search for targeted keywords. 

The more keywords you put out there, the more data you’ll receive. It’s as simple as that. For example, you can target keywords based on demographics such as age, gender, and the preferred type of device used for search. 

Identify the keywords that generate the highest numbers of likes and clicks. Streamline the list of keywords and focus your campaign on the high-performing ones. 

Month #2: Start Refining Your PPC Ad Strategy

Armed with enough data from the first month, now you can start refining your PPC ad strategy in the second month. 

  • Review the list of keywords that you streamlined a month ago. Which ones aren’t generating clicks? Are there keywords that are driving traffic from sources that don’t fit the profile of your target audience? Remove these keywords from your list.
  • Analyze the profile of your audience. Which demographic is responding favorably to your ads? What device is commonly used by people who click on your ad? 

Keep in mind that because the information is immediately available to anyone with a smartphone and an Internet connection, buyer tastes and preferences can change right away. 

Always stay on top of who comprises your target audience.

  • Review your PPC budget. Go over your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) data and cross-reference these with the top-performing keywords to optimize your budget for PPC advertising.

Month #3 – Implement Improvements in Your PPC Ad Strategy

By the third month, there will be less guesswork in your PPC ad strategy. You had the data necessary to identify the potential pain points of your campaign and to come up with the proposed set of solutions. Now, it’s time to implement these improvements in your PPC ad strategy. 

Remember, the improvements aren’t just ideas you plucked out from the air. These improvements are based on hard data that summarized the performance of your PPC ad campaign for the past 2 months. 

Running an improved PPC ad campaign that’s been relieved of factors impeding its success should deliver the desired results. 

“Should” is the keyword here but again, you’ll have to go through similar rounds to testing and data gathering as you did the previous 2 months. You might get better results in the fourth or fifth month. The important thing is to stay focused, committed, and unwavering in your strategy.

Conclusion

Should you include PPC advertising in your digital marketing strategy? If done correctly and expectations are properly managed, PPC advertising can support your organic digital marketing strategy because it can immediately drive traffic to your website and enhance brand visibility. 

The important thing to keep in mind is that like other marketing strategies, PPC advertising takes time to deliver the desired results – converting interest into sales. 

You have to consistently monitor its performance, identify the pain points, and come up with the necessary improvements to make your PPC campaign more effective.

If you’re interested in getting a PPC ad campaign off the ground for your business, give us a call. We’ll get you started and plan out a strategy that can payout for your business. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends!

In the world of Software as a Service (SaaS), first impressions often matter more than you would think. With so many other companies out there working on solving the same problems, you usually have a limited window to impress your visitors. This is where the importance of clever and converting landing page design in SaaS comes in.

Here are our 7 tips to help you craft a page that works:

Include explainer videos

Understanding exactly what a tool does is often the challenge potential leads face when first coming across a product – and not many of them will take the time to read your copy to learn more.

However, if you manage to include a short but to-the-point explainer video on your landing pages, your chances of getting your value across will increase.

Here is an example from Forms on Fire – they provide mobile data collection software – where a minute and a half is all it takes to get to know the product and determine whether you are interested or not.

Invest a lot of creativity in your header

You are often told how important headers are in content writing – the same is true for landing page copy, as the impact your header will have on a visitor is crucial.

You want to represent your brand, you want to get your main point across, you want to showcase your value, explain what you are really about and get people to convert: in no more than a sentence or two.

Which is where the challenge lies.

Take the example of Crazyegg, who provide an unspecified website improvement service – and have a very attractive header to show for it.

Since they offer a 30-day free trial and promise to instantly improve your website, there isn’t much a visitor could lose. So their header works like a charm.

Your calls-to-action are also key

However, you don’t need to be as creative with them as with your headers: a simple “get started”, “start your trial”, or a “sign up now” will work – but what’s important here is how you preempt the CTA.

Most international, huge, famous companies have simple CTAs – Netflix, Hulu, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. – they don’t have a catchphrase or a funny saying slapped onto their pages.

What they do have is a clear list of benefits (what it is you are getting from the service) and a straightforward way of signing up for the service.

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Make it easy to access

Which leads right to our next tip: don’t make signing up very complicated.

You may want to make credit card data compulsory, but even if you do, make it as easy as possible to fill in your form and move on to the next step.

Whether or not you are offering a free trial, or have something like the Ahrefs 7 days for $7 trial period, you still want your leads to be able to accomplish their goal (sign up), in as little time as digitally and humanly possible.

If you are seeing a lot of uncompleted sign-up forms, try making the form simpler, and eliminate some of your required fields: we understand you want to gather as much data as possible about your leads, but maybe spread data collecting out over a longer period of time.

Show the process

If you don’t feel the use of your tool requires an entire video, still try to explain how to make it work, especially if the tool in question does something essentially simple, but very useful.

TimeTackle, a software designed to pull your calendar off of the cloud, has a great four-step explanation of the process users will need to run through once they have the tool, making it very easy for users to decide whether they want to give it a go or not.

Always remember that while some of your users will be very tech-savvy, others might have more of a hard time understanding even the more basic concepts. That’s why you need to try to figure out a language that will speak to your target audience, as well as all its variations and levels of understanding.

Offer social proof where it makes sense

A lot of landing pages incorporate social proof – which is essentially a great move, but does not always make sense.

You don’t have to repeat the same testimonials on every page, nor do you have to showcase different satisfied customers on every corner.

When talking about the benefits of your product, or when showcasing use cases and success stories, social proof is more than welcome.

Here is the example of Gusto, who make payroll, insurance, and a whole host of other tasks easier– who have added in plenty of social proof, yet have not made it sound like they are bragging, or like they have solicited recommendations from their users.

The basics: webpage design

Of course, there is another important element you should never forget: webpage design.

And we are not just talking about the colors and font you choose (although it is in itself very important). You should also think about the emotions you want to elicit, the value you want to portray, and the target audience you are aiming for.

Naturally, navigation, user experience and user-friendliness, responsiveness, and a whole host of other webpage optimization tactics should also all play their part. If you have elements that don’t load properly, don’t work on certain screen sizes, or if your pages are cluttered and crowded, all the other good work you may have done won’t be worth a dime.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, these tips will help you design better SaaS landing pages in the future – but remember, there is no bulletproof design formula that will work for every website. You need to keep your own target market and product in mind when designing sales pages, rather than just considering what has worked for others in the past.

In fact, a lot of these tips were once novelties that have since been proven to work by countless websites. So why not come up with the next one?

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As a Consulting company, businesses come to you for advice. You are recognized as an expert in your field. Over the years, you have built a reputation for building businesses – navigating them through periods of difficulty before finding success. 

The Consulting company represents the years invested in the industry; a venture that gives you the opportunity to share your experience and knowledge with other businesses hoping to find success in their respective fields.

It must be exciting to see your first calling card as a Consultant! 

When you distribute your calling card to friends, associates, and potential clients, you are confidently telling them that if they need help with their business, all they have to do is to call the number on the card.

A better calling card would be a website. Not only can a potential client find your contact information on your website, but he can find all the information he needs to make a decision about hiring your services as a Consultant.

Why Does A Consulting Company Need A Website?

For the same reason that every other company in any industry needs a website – to grow their business by capitalizing on opportunities available on the Internet.  If your company does not have a website, you are undermining its potential for success. 

Businesses look for consultants who can help them get over periods of economic difficulties. A company can have MBAs and Ph.D.’s on their payroll or hire the best CEO money can buy and still – it may not find solutions to pressing concerns.

Consultants have the advantages of experience and viewing the situation from an unfiltered lens. There are no biases to overcome and consultants can draw upon years of experience to come up with the best possible solutions as well as alternative courses of action.

How will a company find a consultant for its business?

Its key officers can ask for recommendations from friends and associates who have hired business consultants. Perhaps one of the company’s directors knows someone who runs a consulting firm.

Or a designated officer can run a simple online search.

Internet searches using the keywords “top consulting companies in my area”, “consulting company in my area”, “best consulting company in my area” or “Consulting company in (the type of industry)” will yield the top URLs for those searches in the SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

How many searches can there be? 

Depending on your state, the search for the keywords “Consulting Company” or “Consulting Business” could amount to hundreds of millions of searches per month. 

If you don’t have a website for your Consulting Company, how can your business be found when it can’t participate in the searches that happen for your services on a daily basis?

Thus, it’s important for your Consulting company to have a website in order for your business to be found on the Internet. Otherwise, you will be missing out on the opportunities that take place every single day.

However, it’s not enough just to have a website.

You must have an amazing website!

3 Reasons Why Your Consulting Business Should Have An Amazing Website

According to a survey by Devrix, 60% of small businesses don’t have a website. 35% of small business owners surveyed said they feel their business is “too small” to merit a website. 

Thus, 6 out of 10 small businesses cannot take advantage of the opportunities available on the Internet:

As a business, you don’t want to miss out on these opportunities that can help grow your enterprise. 

As a company offering business consulting services, you know how important it is for businesses to have a website. 

One reason why your client’s sales are lagging is because he does not have a website for his business or if he does, there’s a good chance the website is not performing well.

To send out a strong message to your client, you must show that you practice what you preach.  If you believe that having a website is important for business, then for a Consulting company, you must have a website for your business!

Here are 3 good reasons why your Consulting company should have a website:

1. Build Your Business Brand

Let’s face it. Digital is the current reality. It is not a passing fad. Life and work are heavily influenced by the Internet and the latest innovations in digital technology. 

If you are not involved in the digital world, you will be left behind by your competitors.

Out of the 7.75 billion people in the world, 5.17 billion own a mobile device and 3.5 billion are smartphones. 

More than 4.5 billion people are on the Internet daily – searching and sharing information. 

Review our stat from the previous section:

80% of consumers – 8 out of 10 – feel more confident dealing with a business that has a website.

Think of your website as your online office or business establishment. Potential customers who want to learn more about your business will click on your URL. 

Having a website builds credibility, trust, and confidence. It shows consumers that you are heavily invested in your business. You’re not going to “go cheap” on your business by settling for a Facebook business page. 

If you don’t have a website, you don’t have an online presence. 

Having a business website also shows potential customers that you are actively engaged and updated with technology. You’re current; in with the times and recognize the importance of being accessible to customers 24/7. 

As a Consulting company you have to be in with the times because the business environment is in a constant flow of change. 

In consulting, a proposal summarizing the changes that need to be in place to initiate the rehabilitation plan is usually submitted after a business audit is conducted and evaluated.

Why will a business trust your company if you’re resistant to change?

Before anything else, sit down with a web designer such as Mountaintop and start planning the website for your Consulting company!

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2. Achieve Your Business Goals

To be clear, you need a solid digital marketing campaign to achieve your business goals. 

Digital marketing is the process of using Internet-based tools, platforms, and strategies to market and promote your business.

Social media marketing is an example of a platform that can be used to distribute information about your business, its products and services. 

The website is the center of your digital marketing universe. It is the destination point for the interest generated by your posts. 

A good analogy would be a flyer that you receive inside the mall. If the content of the flyer interests you, chances are you would visit the establishment featured in the flyer. 

If not, the flyer will end up in the trash receptacle.

In digital marketing, your post will only be read by those who are interested in your content. Those who are not, will merely skip through it. Nothing gets thrown in the trash can. 

The interested reader will ask “Where can I find out more about the company?” if your post has a link to your website, all the reader has to do is click on it. Within a few seconds, he will land on your home page.

From there, you can work on the reader and apply techniques that will help you achieve your goals.

  • Is your goal to build your business reputation? Include a link to your Blog page.
  • Is your goal to create trust? Add client testimonials on your home page.
  • Is your goal to trigger interest? Create a Call to Action (CTA) on the home page that directs the visitor to your Services page.
  • Is your goal to generate leads? Have a Sign Up Button on the home page and inform the visitor that if he signs up for the newsletter, he gets a free whitepaper. 
  • Is your goal to get the visitor to start the consulting process? Include a button on the home page that takes the visitor to the Contact Us page where he can fill out a questionnaire or a Request for Information (RFI) form.

With a website, everything that you want done can be done. The design of the website should make it easy for visitors to navigate through the website and complete the required processes.

The site visitor who is serious about getting your services will greatly appreciate the convenience provided by the website. 

3. Challenge Other Consulting Companies in the Search Rankings

As we mentioned earlier, if your Consulting company does not have a website, you will be left behind by the competition. There is a greater probability of getting discovered by your potential clients if you have a website because you will have an online presence.

With a website, you can present a challenge to your competitors in the search rankings. 

Again, this is the domain of your digital marketing campaign. A smart and purposeful digital marketing campaign that strategically uses processes such as SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising can help your website rocket up the search rankings. 

The higher up the search rankings, the greater becomes the traffic heading to your website.

A study by Chitika revealed that the number one position in the search rankings got 32.5% of all search traffic and the top 3 websites garnered 61.5% of total search traffic. 

Therefore, a website gives you the means to challenge your competitors for the consultancy market. 

The battle will shift to which company delivers well-written, highly-optimized, and engaging content on a consistent basis. Which Consultancy company can maintain a regular schedule for social media marketing? 

Which website is mobile responsive, faster, more accessible, navigable, more beautiful, and  offers more informative content?

Conclusion

Starting a Consulting company is a great idea. With the failure rate among small businesses at 20% for the first year, 30% for the third year, and 50% by the fifth year, there will always be a steady demand for your type of services. 

Business owners will rely upon your experience and expertise to help them navigate through rough economic times, survive, then thrive beyond year 5. 

To get discovered by these businesses, you should have a strong online presence and that all begins with having an amazing website. 

If your business does not have a website or if it does but you’re not happy with it, give us a call or drop an email. We will build you a website that delivers results.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community!

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Before we dive into ecommerce landing pages in more detail, I would like us to do a brief experiment.

I’d like you to try and think about all the websites you’ve seen today. Or in the past seven days. How many newsletters did you receive? How many did you open, and how many did you click on?

Can’t remember them all?

Given the sheer volume of pages we are all exposed to every day, it’s no wonder we can only remember a tiny percent of them. This fact should drive my point home nicely – if you want your landing page to stand out and be memorable, you need to make it, well – what is it that you need to do?

Let’s explore!

Divulge the benefits

As ecommerce pages are clearly meant to convince a visitor to make a purchase, finding the right balance between sales and value can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare.

Let’s look at this page by Herbal Dynamics Beauty:

Source: herbaldynamicsbeauty.com

The hero part of the page clearly lists the most important feature: that the product is free of all sorts of harmful materials. Then, when you scroll just a bit down, you are greeted with a whole lot of information about the benefits of each ingredient, and the page ends by going into even more detail, explaining what you, as a consumer might get by choosing this product.

Customers don’t want to feel like they are being sold a product – they want to be offered a solution. By explaining the benefits and actual value of a product, you will be doing a great job at just that.

The power of design

Your pages need to be easy on the eyes and structured in a way that not only attracts attention, but is also very clear about what is what.

Here is an example by Ultimate Meal Plans:

Souce: ultimatemealplans.com

While their landing pages stick to the minimalistic use of plenty of white space, they have also integrated plenty of imagery, along with all kinds of informational boxes that detail things like pricing and benefits. 

And while they were at it, they’ve managed to stick to a clever color story, too. The fact that they have also made green their main pop of color is evocative of the actual product, providing a clear association between it and the page.

No matter how good your product or message is, if your page is cluttered and hard to navigate, you won’t be making all that many conversions. 

The power of a story

Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool you should be reaching for when writing copy for your landing pages.

Let’s take a look at the landing page of an actual story, Danielle, a novel by Ray Kurzweil.

Source: danielleworld.com

The hero is catchy, gives you plenty of information without actually giving anything away, and the rest of the page provides all you need to know: enough to get you interested. This kind of hook is not reserved for literary ecommerce pages alone – you can tell a story about your product regardless of what it is.

Make sure you take your target audience and their preferences into account when writing out your story. And write for them, not for yourself.

Provide plenty of detail

Home pages can be hard to design. Not only are they often the first thing people see, but they also need to provide plenty of information, yet not overlap too much with other pages.

Pergola Kits USA have done a good job here:

Source: pergolakitsusa.com

Their hero showcases the product they sell and will instantly draw the attention of those looking to buy a pergola. Scrolling further down, a visitor can find all the information they need in one place, without having to navigate between several different pages.

This is an all-in-one page that is easy to read, provides enough imagery to keep you interested, and provides real value. You won’t need to read another one to understand what kind of product you need for yourself.

Sometimes it’s best to give your visitors what they are looking for in one place – and make sure they have clearly got the message you’re trying to convey.

Social and other proof and why it matters

People like to be a part of a group, and they like to explore products others have tested and approved. That’s why you’ll want to display all the proof you can find: social proof in the form of testimonials, big companies you have worked with, as well as award buttons, and any other achievements you may have under your belt.

Real Thread does that right in the middle of their homepage:

Source: realthread.com

They have incorporated a section that includes some of the major companies they have worked with. This instantly gives their product a boost and makes them stand out. Even though you may not have heard of the brand, you might be more tempted to give their shirts a try, now that you know which other companies they have worked with.

Be careful what kinds of awards and badges you list, though. Too many of them can cause an adverse effect, leading people to perceive you as bragging or to wonder what you’re trying to hide by listing all of these positive reviews so prominently.

The power of the hero

Your hero image is incredibly important. It should explain in one glance what the product is about, yet do it in a way that’s not boring or too showy.

The Farmer’s Dog does a good job with this image:

Source: thefarmersdog.com

It shows the product, as well as a satisfied customer enjoying it, and you’ll understand right away what the food they’re selling looks like and whether it might be something that your pet would enjoy.

The image is of a high quality, but more importantly, it is also optimized well, so as not to slow the page down and take up unnecessary space – a very important feature to bear in mind when thinking about the imagery you want to use.

When choosing your hero, make sure it is not only an accurate representation of your product, but also catchy and unique.

Final thoughts

When designing a landing page, make sure you have your target audience in mind, and stay in line with the product the page is trying to sell. Add to that a bit of creativity, and you should have a standout page on your hands. 

To get straight to the point – Yes, you should include social media as part of your digital marketing strategy in 2020. 

Over the last decade, social media has evolved from a platform for connecting with social circles and sharing daily updates to a powerful medium for influencing choices with the targeted distribution of optimized content, the active promotion of thought leadership, and purposeful engagement with the community. 

Thus, social media is an effective medium for sharing content. It is a proven platform for building your business’ brand and reputation, promoting products and services, and creating strong and sustainable relationships with your customers.

If social media was part of your digital marketing strategy in 2019, read on! The tips we provide will make your 2020 strategies more relevant, effective, and impactful. 

And if you haven’t included social media in your digital marketing strategy, it’s not too late! 2020 is as good a time as any to start your first campaign. 

Why 2020 Is A Good Time To Launch Your First Social Media Campaign

In 2019, there were an estimated 3.484 billion social media users worldwide – a 9% increase from 2018. 

The increase in the number of social media users goes hand-in-hand with the number of Internet users. The more accessible the Internet becomes, the more people will venture to social media.

In 2018, the Internet was accessible to 3 billion people. In 2019, the number of people on the Internet was estimated to be 4.4 billion people. 

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the growth of the Internet will slowly catch up with the growth of the population. 

The group forecasts that by 2021, 75% or 6 billion of the projected population of 8 billion people will have Internet access. By 2030, 90% or 7.5 billion out of an estimated 8.5 billion people will be online. 

Based on these trends, we can reasonably expect that as the population grows, so will the number of social media users. 

If you are still thinking of including social media in your digital marketing strategy, remove your “thinking” cap and put on your “working” cap. It’s time to get social!

7 Social Media Trends To Watch Out For In 2020

Social media is in a constant state of evolution because people’s interests, tastes, and preferences are always changing. The strategies that produced results last year may no longer be effective in 2020.

Here are 7 social media trends that could shape your digital marketing strategy in 2020.

1. Less Focus on Getting People to “Like” Your Content

Social media is no longer just a platform where the objective of posting content is to generate the highest number of “likes”. 

Getting a “like” will do wonders for your ego but very little – or nothing at all – for your business. It could just be a sympathetic gesture from friends who want you to feel good. But clicking the “like” button does not mean people like your content. 

People are looking for content that has value. They want content that addresses a specific need, compels opinions and ideas to be shared and helps members of the community arrive at the best decisions. 

For this reason, social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are putting less emphasis on “vanity metrics’ – like the “like” button and the number of followers. 

Digital marketers feel that the pressure to garner “likes” only succeeds in affecting the person’s mental health and does little to strengthen the brand or put the product at the forefront of the consumer’s consciousness.

Instead, the focus should be on the quality of content and the rate of community engagement. 

What good would it do your business if you have 1,000 followers but only 10 members regularly engage with your content? On the other hand, your page could have only 100 followers but 50 of them could be actively engaging with each other in your posts. 

2. Video Content Will Be King

Bill Gates once famously wrote, “Content is King”. Today, the billionaire-founder of Microsoft would willingly amend his statement as “Video Content will be King”.

A 2019 study that was published by Social Media Week revealed the following eye-opening numbers about the future of video content marketing:

  • 82% of all online traffic will be composed of video-based content.
  • 78% of daily Internet users spend their time watching videos.
  • 72% of consumers prefer video as the medium for learning about a company’s products and services.
  • 95% of consumers retain information better with videos.
  • 54% of consumers want more video-based content.

Video marketing is an effective driver of content because it appeals to the senses of sight, sound, and can potentially trigger powerful emotions that can compel the audience to comply with your call-to-action. 

Today’s smartphones have cameras that can capture good quality videos. Start a YouTube channel for your business and upload video content about your products and services. 

How do they work? What problems or issues can they fix? You can also post videos about your personal life to give the audience an idea of who you are and what you do outside of work. 

At Mountaintop, we recommend having an explainer video made. You can post it on YouTube then embed the link on the homepage of your website. An explainer video will get more people to stay on your website and check out your products and services.

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3. Social Media Audience Segmentation Will Play a Bigger Role

Social media gives you the advantage of targeting consumers who may be interested in your products and services. Even if you’ve acquired a good-sized following, they remain part of a community – your social media community. They followed you for a reason.

People follow you for different reasons. Yes, most will probably follow you because they are fans of your business. They love your products and want to stay updated on future developments.

There could be those who followed you not for the products you are selling, but for the tips you provide in your blogs. Maybe they are not interested in your products but they value the insights you provide in the industry. 

Keeping track of who engages in your content; the ones who ”like” or share your blogs, and reading through the discussions in your posts can give you valuable insights on the market segments you are attracting.

You can use social media analytics to give you key data on the types of content that are generating the highest levels of activity on your page. Take note of who they are, where they are coming from, and how they are accessing your content. 

Use data to create specific buyer profiles of your customers. Having data-backed information will help you customize the types of content that will target specific market segments. 

4. The Continued Rise of Social Shopping

If you’re a retailer, having an e-commerce website is a key component in maximizing online opportunities. The website is where interested parties go to view your product and transact with your company.

On the other hand, social media platforms have become effective in generating inbound traffic to your e-commerce website. 

Research has shown that social media has significantly contributed to the growth of e-commerce in the United States in the last decade. 

Posting images and information about your product on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest has been proven effective in influencing the buying decisions of consumers.

Publishing blogs on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Plus about your business, industry insights, opinions on current trends, and providing useful tips that solve common problems will do wonders for your online reputation as a valuable resource. 

To get people to visit your website, always include a link with your call-to-action in your blogs and other types of content. 

5. Public Sharing Will Give Way to a More Personalized Approach

Privacy remains an issue on the Internet. Other than the constant threat of cyber-attacks, you want to manage the risk factors that you can control. When engaging in social media, it’s a good idea to take full control over your personal information. 

Concern over the security and integrity of personal information is one of the major factors that have contributed to the popularity of messaging apps such as Messenger. 

For example, if a follower of your Facebook page asks for details about the price of your product and preferred mode of payment, you can just send the person the information via Messenger. 

Another example is dealing with customer complaints. 

If a customer posts a complaint on your Facebook page, you can shift the discussion from the public thread to Messenger. This is a great way to manage your online reputation and at the same time personalize the approach for your customer. 

6. Greater Dependency on Authentic Content

The Internet is rife with online merchants offering a wide variety of products and services. Unfortunately, you take the good with the bad. 

While there are e-commerce websites that you can trust, the Internet has its fair share of businesses that have malicious intent as their primary objective. 

Also, there are businesses with the “take it or leave it” mentality. They only care about the sale – not the customer.

In a sense, social media has tipped the balance of power toward the consumer because it has given him a platform to air his opinions about a business. It has given consumers a valuable resource for getting information on a product or service before making the decision to patronize the business or not. 

Think about your own experiences. If you liked your dining experience at a particular Italian restaurant, wouldn’t you take pictures of the food you ate and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?  

In contrast, if you had a rough encounter with the customer service people of a telecommunications company, wouldn’t you post about the incident on Facebook or LinkedIn?

Powerful emotions compel people to write reviews about a product or a service. This is why consumers value them. They are content that is perceived as sincere and driven by purpose and therefore, authentic. 

Invite your followers to post reviews and comments about your products and services on your social media pages. 

Your willingness to leave your business vulnerable to the risk of getting scathing reviews shows your confidence in your offerings. We will continue the discussion in the next section!

7. Social Media Builds Meaningful Relationships

For businesses, product reviews and other types of customer-generated content are a win-win situation. Yes, getting bad reviews can be good for you!

In the first place, there is no such thing as a perfect product. Consumers have different tastes and preferences. 

Perfect service is the goal but it is not realistic to expect it 100% of the time because people are human and there are days that they can be off their customer service game.

If you get a negative review, don’t ignore it. Act on it right away! Use it as an opportunity to show your other followers that you care by addressing the issue directly on the thread.

For example, a customer named Matt posted a complaint on your Facebook page that the Wi-Fi router he bought from you did not last 2 days. 

A good response would be:

“Hi, Matt! Thank you for calling our attention to the router. We are sorry about your experience. I am Roger and I handle technical support. I just messaged you my email address and contact number. Kindly email the details and let’s schedule a phone call over the next 24 hours. Rest assured, we are committed to making you a customer for life!”

When you respond to a comment, it will not matter if the customer is irate. For sure, he will appreciate your immediate attention and timely response to his concern. 

And if the customer is happy, an appropriate response will show that you value the relationship and not just the business. 

Conclusion

The “social” aspect of social media refers to its dynamic nature. As people change, so do their online behavioral patterns. You have to keep track of these changes in behavior and apply your findings to your strategy so you can stay ahead of the competition.

Social media will remain relevant, useful, and valuable in 2020 and beyond because it gives your business more than just an online presence. 

Social media humanizes your business. It creates bridges that connect you with your customers, followers, and potential end-users. 

In combination with a thoughtful, purposeful, and engaging content marketing strategy, social media will give your business a personality that consumers can connect to and develop a strong, long-lasting relationship with. 

For consumers, it’s not just about “What” your business is – it’s about “Who” your business is. 

Let us help you get back on track with your social media program! 

Give us a call or drop us an email. We can design a smart, data-based digital marketing strategy for your business that will optimize our content-driven social media marketing campaign. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community!

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Whenever you read the news, you will come across reports about the economy – how the stock market is performing and data on jobs, unemployment, and currency exchange. You will read terms such as “Gross Domestic Product”, “recession”, and “trade balance”. 

For the past few months, the news has given massive coverage on the trade war launched by the United States against China and how it has impacted the bottom line of many U.S. companies in the manufacturing and agricultural sector.

Certainly, these types of news are disconcerting because when companies are in trouble, jobs and consequently, the livelihood and well-being of many families are on the line. 

Thus, in a world that has become increasingly concerned about profit, the idea of a non-profit organization must leave some people scratching their heads. 

What Is A Non-Profit Organization?

By definition, a non-profit organization is an entity that does not funnel its earnings to stockholders or investors. The majority of non-profit organizations are not connected with the government and are private entities. 

However, instead of paying out dividends to its stockholders, a non-profit organization appropriates its income to help the group achieve its goals which are usually philanthropic in nature. 

A non-profit organization can support a variety of causes. Some of the most popular ones include endangered species, preserving the arts, social reform programs, protecting the environment, education, and literacy. 

What Are The Challenges Facing Non-Profit Organizations?

Spearheading a non-profit organization can be a daunting task. With information flowing freely – thanks to the Internet and the advances in digital technology – decisions are more easily influenced by data that is available on the web.

Similar to profit organizations, non-profit organizations face several challenges that may obstruct their efforts to achieve their goals and objectives.

We have identified 3 challenges that non-profit organizations have to contend with in the coming years:

  1. Government Regulations – Changes in government regulations and tax reform laws may affect the decisions of individuals to contribute as well as hinder the ability of non-profit organizations to invoice for their services and generate more funding.
  2. Hiring Volunteers and Recruiting Staff – An increase in the number of jobs available in the market in combination with an upward adjustment in the wage rate has made it more difficult for non-profit organizations to hire and recruit volunteers needed to attend to its various duties and responsibilities. 
  3. Lack of Technological Support – With the decline in available funding, non-profit organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to avail of and utilize technology needed to further its growth and open new avenues for financial support. 

Mountaintop Web Design is not an interest group and neither are we in the recruitment business.

However, we are in the technology business. We understand how digital innovations and the Internet can be utilized to help non-profit organizations meet their goals. 

How Can Non-Profit Organizations Benefit From Digital Marketing?

If you want to know how digital marketing benefits small businesses, please read our blog, “5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need To Invest In A Digital Marketing Strategy”.

The truth is, a non-profit organization also reaps the same benefits from incorporating a digital marketing strategy as a profit organization. 

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1. Low-Cost Method Of Promoting the Organization’s Objectives

Digital marketing is the process of utilizing digital technology – various online tools and platforms – to market and promote a business, it’s products and services. The process is run via online channels foremost of which is the website. 

For the reason that the world is becoming more technology-dependent, all businesses, whether profit or non-profit, should have a website. Here’s a statistic that you should keep in mind:

Of the 7.7 Billion people on our planet, 4.3 Billion are on the Internet every single day. That number accounts for 55.6% of the world’s total population.

If your business is not on the Internet, how would potential customers – or donors – find you? The website is your business address on the Internet. 

The cost of putting up a website will depend on the type, functionality, and design features. At Mountaintop, we can customize a fully-functional, mobile responsive website that will meet your needs and budget.

And if you wish, you can build your own website by using a free design template from WordPress. We have written about it in our blog, “How To Build Your Own Website In 4 Easy Steps”.

Another effective channel for digital marketing is social media. According to a study by Sprout Social, 74% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media content. 

Of the 4.3 billion people on the Internet on a daily basis, more than 3 billion are on social media. Facebook accounts for 2.2 billion of social media’s daily traffic

Setting up a social media account for your non-profit organization will not cost you a cent. There are many social media platforms to choose from – Facebook,  Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube – are the popular ones and have large communities. 

You can choose 2 to 3 social media platforms to post content on a regular basis. With time and by creating useful, engaging, and compelling content, you should see more traffic driven to your website.

2. The Non-Profit Group Becomes Available 24/7

Unlike a shopping mall or a commercial building, the Internet does not close down or take holiday breaks. It is open 24/7.

When you have a website and social media accounts on the Internet, your non-profit organization becomes available 24/7.

  • Potential donors can read about your charitable cause; its purpose, vision, and organizational goals.
  • The use of compelling content delivered through regular blogs and video links are strong influencers which can immediately convert interest into donations.
  • If the site visitor wants to make a contribution, we can integrate a donation system that will easily facilitate the payment.

3. Measure Performance In Real-Time

One of the great advantages of using digital marketing is that you can track its performance in real-time by accessing data known as analytics.

Analytics will provide you key information on your current digital marketing strategy. You will have empirical evidence that will identify the processes which are delivering good ROI. 

Likewise, Analytics will point out the processes that are not delivering results. By determining the processes which result in ROI and those which are not, you can fine-tune the strategy. 

Thus, you can adjust the budget and allocate more resources to high-return processes. By using analytics as a reference tool to manage your budget, your overall digital marketing strategy should deliver higher ROI. 

4. Adapt to Changes In Consumer Behavior

Blogging and social media marketing are platforms that allow your followers to directly engage with you. Some will post comments related to the content you posted. 

Our advice is to respond to these commenters right away – within 24 hours if possible. The reason is these comments are valuable data. They provide keen insights on how your audience thinks, behaves, and processes information. 

When you respond, you create a feedback system between your non-profit organization and the commenter. 

The feedback system will establish communication which can eventually lead to an important component of business development: Relationship building. 

Building a solid market base of end-users and regular patrons will come down to expert relationship management. 

Digital marketing will provide you with the platform, tools, and channels to build a strong following and an enhanced presence on the Internet. 

In the following section, we will discuss 2 case studies of non-profit organizations which greatly benefited from having a website designed and managed by our company.

Case Study No.1 – Severe Weather Shelter Network

Severe Weather Shelter Network is a non-profit organization which partners up with various groups and agencies to provide immediate shelter to people who are living on the streets during harsh weather conditions.

The non-profit group already had an existing website but it was not delivering the expected results. SWSN approached us to redesign the site with the objectives of increasing awareness and improving the process of making donations.

Old website

For the website redesign, we put more focus on the homepage which is the primary landing page on a website. 

You will see the group’s Brand Value Proposition (BVP) right away – “Help Us Make A Difference. Helping the homeless build a community of supporters and providing a place of refuge on freezing nights.”

The BVP is short, direct, and easy to understand. Below the BVP is the Call-to-Action (CTA) which is asking the site visitor to make a contribution through the donation system that we built into the website.

Severe Weather Shelter Network is happy with the site and have seen a large increase in the number of their donations. They have also subscribed to our Extreme WordPress Care Plans to keep their website safe from potential cyber-attacks.  

Case Study No.2: Love In The Name Of Christ

Love In The Name Of Christ is a non-profit organization that works with local churches to help transform the lives of people who were lost and had no direction or purpose through the teachings of Christ.

Similar to Severe Weather Shelter Network, Love In The Name Of Christ had an existing website. However, it had an outdated design and was not functioning very well. 

We gave it a fresher look that was aesthetically beautiful and fully-functional. The BVP on the homepage was effective; it was easy to remember and direct to the point. 

We also included a donation system to facilitate contributions faster and more convenient for donors. 

Love In The Name Of Christ also signed up with our Extreme WordPress Care Plans.

Conclusion

Digital marketing has been proven to be an effective way of helping non-profits achieve their goals. 

Whether you are a profit or non-profit organization, you need to have a strong presence on the Internet. 

Having a website in combination with the right digital marketing tools and processes will help spread the message of non-profit organizations while effectively addressing the challenges they face.

If you are a non-profit organization that is thinking of putting up a website or having your existing one redesigned, please give us a call or drop us an email. 

You can consult with us for free. 

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