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January 2009 Newsletter

5 Easy Steps to Persuasive Navigation

Plan a Perfect Online Marketing Mix For 2009

Social Networking Spotlight: Squidoo

Make Local Search Marketing Work for You

How to Write Like a Pro

5 Easy Steps to Persuasive Navigation

When visitors come to your website, you have about three seconds to get their attention and persuade them to stay. If they don't see what they're looking for, or don't believe they have a good reason to stick around; you'll lose them – and their potential business.

Adopting persuasive navigation can keep those visitors on your site and interested in your services.

Lessons from Supermarkets
When you go to a supermarket in a new town, you don't have much trouble finding your way around. Produce at one end, deli at the other, shelves full of boxed and canned goods in the centre.

You may not even think about it; you simply assume that all the goods will be exactly where they are in every other supermarket. And you probably get pretty frustrated when you're in a market that doesn't follow the rules.

The same applies to websites: there are standard industry guidelines that everyone follows, because we've learned to use websites a certain way. There is still plenty of room for creativity when designing your website layout, but achieving an aesthetic ‘wow factor' shouldn't come before providing a good user experience.

The Basics of Persuasive Navigation
Good navigation is intuitive to the user and follows a logical, well-organised approach, with information where visitors expect it to be. Persuasive navigation goes one step further, using some of the following techniques to lead your site visitors to your most important pages.

  1. Menu: The basics first; your site menu should be concise, one to two words per topic, easy to find, and easy to follow.
  2. Buttons and banners: A well-thought-out graphic can do the job of hundreds of words. Give consideration to the positioning of your buttons or banners, too.
  3. Product images: A product image is instantly recognisable, and with one simple click can take your site visitor straight to the purchase page.
  4. Links within the copy: Using links from within your copy to other relevant pages of your website is an orderly way for visitors to progress to the information they seek.
  5. Above the fold: Everything you see on a web page without scrolling down is ‘above the fold'. This is premium placement for your content, and it's where you put your most compelling information, promotions, and advertising. Choose wisely, though – if you cram too much into this space, your site will look cluttered and unappealing.

A good site design, combined with persuasive navigation, will make sure nothing distracts your visitors from their main mission: finding out more about you and why they should buy from you. If you would like to review the effectiveness of your website navigation, please call 0800 043 0616.

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Plan a Perfect Online Marketing Mix For 2009

Online marketing is still a relatively new medium, with a myriad of new routes to your target audience. That can make it difficult to figure out where to spend your time and budget. Should you send tweets all day on Twitter? Should you syndicate your website? Should you start a blog? Is any of this getting you any business, anyway?

Learning how to create the right online marketing mix for your business can save you time and show you that you're directing your advertising resources in the right way.

So What Are Your Options?
Online marketing continues to be a very cost-effective method of driving targeted traffic to your web site. Here are some of the main areas to consider when putting together your online marketing plan for 2009.

1. Search Engine Marketing
More and more companies around the world are discovering the power of Search Engine Marketing. It essentially wears two hats: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing. Each have their merits, and arguably the best approach is to engage in both methods, learning from one to complement the other. SEO is a more long-term strategy, while a PPC strategy can bring instant targeted traffic to your website.

2. Social Media Marketing
Currently one of the most popular business tools, social networking involves joining and becoming active within a community of people online. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and the new create-your-own-community site, NING, are all popular social networking tools that can increase your circle of potential customers and contacts.

3. Blogging
Blogging has morphed into a powerful business tool. By writing regular articles that showcase your expertise, you improve your business's credibility. And by entertaining potential clients, you ensure that you're at the top of their mind when they need someone in your field. The articles can also help clients find you in Web searches.

4. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most efficient ways to promote new services, products, events and offers to your client base. Keeping your customers in the loop about what your company has to offer is a fantastic promotional tool.

5. How do I know what's working?
This is the tricky bit. To figure out which online marketing methods are best for your business, you need to be able to identify which techniques are actually getting clients for you. Here are a couple of ways to find out which marketing strategies are working for your business:

a) For each campaign, track the results. Use online tracking software that can tell you which clients are responding to which campaigns. They're affordable and invaluable – without them, you won't know where your clients are coming from.

b) Pay attention to sales. Some campaigns will motivate a lot of people to visit your site, which is great. Others will motivate those people to buy your product or service, which is even better. Make sure you know which campaigns generate views and which generate sales.

Now what?
Drop the strategies that aren't working for you. Trust the results you're seeing, and stop putting time and energy into online tools that don't work for your business. Work smarter, not harder, for a successful 2009. Call a 0800 043 0616 for a no-obligation consultation.

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Social Networking Spotlight: Squidoo

Everyone is an expert on something, whether it's cars, golf techniques or giving presentations. If you run a business, you are likely an authority on various topics related to your services.

Squidoo is a social networking site with the specific purpose of allowing users to share their knowledge; if you're not using it, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to spread the word about your expertise.

What is Squidoo?
Squidoo is a free membership community that allows you to write articles and post them on mini-websites called lenses (web pages are called "lenses", and authors are called "lensmasters"). Users can create as many lenses as they wish, each focusing on a single topic. This provides an opportunity to break subjects into bite-sized pieces, each concentrating on a different area related to the same topic.

Social Media Marketing with Squidoo
Creating Squidoo pages (lenses) has a distinct advantage over blogging, since lenses are designed to summarise topics and put all the important information on a single page. On Squidoo, you can establish yourself as an expert in just a few minutes; blogging can take months or even years to build the same credibility.

Creating lenses has a number of business advantages. You can use your Squidoo lens to:

  • Create traffic to your website or blog through a link
  • Promote your own articles through your Squidoo lens
  • Improve search engine optimisation, since linking to your website or blog as a resource on your Squidoo lens gives you a link from a highly-rated website

Creating a Squidoo Lens
When you decide to create a lens, Squidoo offers a great tool for tracking down information you might like to include. Tell Squidoo you want to focus on paper clips, click "create a lens", and Squidoo will offer you modules on that topic from all over the Web that might be interesting, including videos, images, and articles.

As other Squidoo users find your lenses and consider you a great authority on a topic, they will promote you through their own lenses, creating a domino effect for your visibility. Create good lenses that are interesting, informative, and fun, and you'll reap the reward of improved visibility to potential customers.

Charity Benefits
Squidoo supports itself through advertising. They take a cut of the revenue and give you the option to give a portion of your own earnings to your favourite charity. You can also choose to give a percentage of your earnings to the big community pot, which distributes equally to Squidoo's own list of favoured charities.

Search engines want original content cited from trusted sources, Squidoo provides you with a great opportunity to do this. If you would like help, please call 0800 043 0616.

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Make Local Search Marketing Work for You

You've got a small business. You want to optimise your website so that people can find you online, but you know perfectly well that you're not going to appear on the first page for general searches like "dry cleaning" or "pizza" or "restaurant".

But local search is different, providing a more level playing field for achieving high results when people in your area are searching for a local service provider.

Making Local Search-Engine Optimisation Work
Local search is gaining importance, quickly becoming an essential part of many businesses' online marketing strategy. Increasingly, the major search engines are reserving the top search positions for local search results.

Ranking well in local search results doesn't just happen, though, so here are some tips for what you can do to improve your search-result positioning.

Include your location. If you want people to find you when they search for a local business, they have to know your locale – and the search engine has to know it too. Include:

  • Your company's full address at the bottom of every page.
  • Your company's full address at the very top of your contact or location page.
  • Detailed directions on how to get to your business.
When customers search for "pizza in Pevensey", they're more likely to find your website if you've included the town name many times in your web copy. Ditto for "pizza off Route A27," which is why you also include directions.

Raise your profile. Tell your customers – and the search engines – what you do and how you do it. Tell them how long you've been in business, what kinds of extra services you offer and whether you give discounts.

All of that information is fodder for search engines, and all info is good info. Don't leave anything out. Also include hours of operation, payment methods you accept, areas you serve, and products you carry.

Blow your horn. Better yet, have others blow it for you. Get happy customers to review your services and post their quotes online. Incentivise them to review you on dedicated review websites.

If you've been reviewed by your local paper or magazine, be sure to post those articles on your site.

Featuring associations with local organisations and charities also increases your search engine appeal. If you've been providing free services or helping with local charity fundraisers, don't neglect those links!

Beyond your website. Every town has a local directory or five. Hunt down every one of those directories, and be sure your business is in there. Also find nationwide directories that can be searched locally.

Local search is gaining importance, and you don't need to be left behind. If you would like to improve your local search results, please call 0800 043 0616.

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How to Write Like a Pro

Writing for the Web is a very different ballgame, in many ways, from the printed page and traditional media, because it has to communicate your message, be concise and punchy, and get visitors attention fast -- very fast.

Understanding how surfers read Web pages is key to writing killer copy. Here are our 8 top tips to improve your website copy.

1. Grab your reader's attention. Tell them why they should read on. Tell them why what you're about to say matters. And do it quickly, in a short, snappy headline, because people on the web aren't going to give you much time.

2. Keep it simple, stupid. Short. Sweet. To the point. It's that simple.

3. It's all about them. To keep your reader's attention, they need to know why this matters to them. Don't digress. Don't talk too much about yourself or your company. Tell your reader why what you're saying is important to them. Is your product going to save them money? How is it going to make their life better?

4. Honesty is still the best policy. Don't pretend your product can cure male baldness while slicing, dicing, and doing the laundry. It may seem like a good idea, but it'll turn readers off – and turning off readers is not the goal of professional copy. Be honest and excited about what you do, but don't over-exaggerate or be misleading.

5. Stay on top. Many new writers assume that they should lead up to their most important point, so as to go out with a bang. That theory doesn't hold for web copy. You've only got a few moments to catch your reader's attention – tell him the important stuff at the top of the page, so he knows right away why he should stick around.

6. Know your audience. Are you writing for teenagers who want a new mobile phone? Keep it light, upbeat, hip, and fun. Are you writing for executives who need a reliable service provider? Make your voice professional, in control, and intelligent.

7. Visual appeal. Writing on the web isn't just about the words on the page; it's also about how it looks. Break up your text into small paragraphs with a reasonable column width. Make sure your text is an easy-to-read size and colour, and that you draw attention to your main points with headlines or bold fonts. Consistency equals readability – don't get overly creative.

8. Call to action. You've drawn your reader in with a catchy headline, a great reason to buy, and a voice that speaks to them. Fantastic – but now what? Tell your reader what you want them to do, that's what: Click on a link, buy a product, contact us today. Give them the directive.

Web writing is more than taking printed brochures and articles and putting them online. If you would like to review the effectiveness of your website copy, please call 0800 043 0616.

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