Introduction

I know what you’re thinking – you have a small business that you’re trying to get off the ground but have absolutely no idea what to do and how to do it. Or maybe you have an already established business but you’re just not seeing the return on your investment that you expected?

It’s no secret that when it comes to marketing your products or services, these days it’s all about the internet and the online community. Although word of mouth is still important, getting your business recognised by a relevant audience involves a carefully thought out online marketing strategy.

Before we delve into the areas you should focus on first, you need to understand that a successful, organic (free) online business campaign won’t see your bank balance skyrocket overnight. Paid advertising may see you reap financial gains quicker, however this will cost you up front. This article will concentrate on organic digital marketing.

It’s a common misconception that once you create a website for your business, you will start to see an increase in paying customers straight away. Unfortunately, many small businesses have found out that it is just not that simple, costing them valuable time and money in the long run. Remember – most people don’t get rich quick!

So, with a bit of expert knowledge to guide you in the right direction, some hard work, patience and determination, you too can achieve anything you set your mind to, without paying a fortune up front.

Firstly, let’s get to the absolute basics.

Where Should I Start?

Before you do anything else, you will need to take a good look at your website, as this is where your potential customers will probably end up, where you want them to stay, buy something, and keep coming back for more!

Whether you’ve created your own WordPress site, or you have enlisted the help of a professional website developer, the following are crucial to your online marketing strategy, and ultimately, your businesses success.

Web design

1. Your website should be optimised for conversion

This is where a lot of people get it wrong from the beginning. Sure, having an attractive site is important, but it won’t get you sales if you haven’t considered everything else.

Your site should be doing several things to keep a potential customer on your pages (lower bounce rate), making it easy for them to find what they need and guide them to purchase. You should think about what works for you when you visit someone else’s website and put yourself in your customers shoes. Here’s why:

Website Speed

Your potential customers won’t hang around for your website to load, they’ll most likely go to the next site listed on Google, and that could be your competitor. Stats show that they’ll do this in as little as a couple of seconds! So, you want to be able to answer YES to each of the following:

Do you know how long your website takes to load?

There are numerous tools available for you to test your websites speed and performance. Your results will vary depending on the time of day and how much traffic you currently have on your website and/or shared host, but you can simply average these out to get an estimate.

Pingdom

Enter your website URL and be sure to select the closest location:

Pingdom

GT Metrix

You will need to create a free account to get access to the additional options such as location.

Gtmetrix

Your results will vary depending on the time of day and how much traffic you currently have on your website and/or shared host, but you can simply average this out to get an estimate.

Speed test

If you would like more in-depth info on your website load time, see our blog: How do I make my website load faster?

Mobile Responsive

Of all the different sized screens, your smartphone is currently the most popular way people are accessing online content. Remember, people are becoming increasingly impatient and they want a seamless user experience at their fingertips.

If your site is not mobile responsive, or can’t be navigated on a smaller screen easily, your potential customers will move on to a site that can. Tips include:

Mobile responsive

Website Content

Design by itself doesn’t sell your products or services. It’s one thing to have an attractive site that initially draws visitors to your site but keeping them there is something else entirely.

Have you ever seen a great ad or post that made you want to click on it and learn more, only to be met with lines of irrelevant and/or boring content? All of a sudden, that post is long forgotten, along with your business.

Good content is what sets your website apart from the masses and delivers the right message into the hearts and minds of your customers. The success of your website is determined primarily by its content.

Ultimately, content wins the buying power of your customers. All other components of your website (design, visuals, videos, etc.) provide a secondary support role. If you have effective taglines, great design will only enhance their effectiveness.

The key to a successful website is having clear, relevant and keyword-rich content that delivers the right message with power and conviction. The content on your website should target your audience, engage them and persuade them to take action.

For more detailed information, see our Conversation Rate Optimisation (CRO] blog here.

2. Local Search Engine Optimisation (Local SEO)

In case you’re wondering, Local SEO differs from organic SEO as it has a geographical component which organic SEO does not necessarily have. It’s the practice of building signals of relevance around a specific location; a brick-and-mortar business.

Organic SEO is a marketing practice that pretty much just revolves around your website.

Local SEO is the best way to promote your small business to a finely targeted audience and generate more revenue from it. To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.

You might have performed Google search and seen results that populate at the top of the search results page including the map, address, star ratings, and phone number. This is Local SEO.

Local SEO

Depending on the industry, it has the potential to become the very first result on a Google search results page and can have a positive impact on driving new leads to your small business.

Local SEO provides online searchers with results that are most relevant to their current location.

Optimisation of local search is an effective way to put your business in front of customers in your area, at the exact time they are searching for a particular business or service using a precise targeted approach.

Not many small business owners are aware of this process which makes them lose out on generating more revenue from their local business. This is where you can capitalise on their shortcomings.

Consumer local search

First, it is important to look at the different details that your customers may look for while performing local searches to learn more about your small business. These can include:

Local SEO statistics

Local Backlinks Are Everything

Backlinks can be the single most important aspect of your SEO campaign on a local level. Instead of reaching out for backlinks on national blogs or articles, start in your local market first, as this is where you’ll initially be targeting your potential customers.

Every local market has a local market directory. Add your business to these local directories first. These local directories and localised websites add hyper-local relevance to your website which is key for trust flow and authority.

One link on a localised directory is better than a few links on random directories that aren’t relevant to your target audience.

Directory listings

Establish a Foundation First

What is more important than backlinks alone is making sure you have the core foundation of content on your website to support those backlinks. It won’t look natural if your website has thin or irrelevant content with a wide variety of backlinks.

Instead of hitting backlinks hard straight away, you want to focus on a core foundation of content. Creating well-written articles that provide users with true value is incredibly important.

Hit Local Links Hard Once You’ve Created a Solid Foundation

Without creating a core foundation of content that offers value, how do those backlinks look legitimate in the search engines eyes? They don’t. What you have heard about backlinks is true, they are important.

What is more important than a backlink is a localised and geo-targeted backlink. These backlinks are from websites in your local market that are also topically relevant. These are the backlinks you want to focus on in 2019.

3. Create Social Media accounts

As a small business owner, you’re constantly looking for new ways to get your company’s brand on the radar of potential customers. If you don’t already, using social media in business is a great way to engage with current customers as well as attract new ones.

Social media effectiveness boils down to engagement. If a business doesn’t engage with its customers, chances are it won’t have success in social media marketing.

Social media accounts

Here are some reasons why small businesses can actually have more success on social media than big companies:

4. Build a Comprehensive Email Marketing Strategy


Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and engage your audience. Email is a big part of our lives as professionals, individuals and your potential customers!

How many people do you know without an email address? There’s a good chance that you can count these people on one hand.

Email marketing

Not only does email marketing allow you to take advantage of the prospect of reaching a large group of people, but it can also offer benefits that other digital marketing tactics can’t provide. Email marketing allows you to personalise your messaging and tailor messages based on customer actions.

You can also segment your audiences to ensure that the right leads are getting the most impactful information at the most effective times.

Building a successful email strategy really boils down to four things:

Creating an Email List

Before you start sending out emails, you need to have contacts to send those emails to.

In order to do that, you need to set up lead capture forms on your website. Be sure to include text that explains what users are signing up for when they give you their email. Keep in mind to follow privacy guidelines for compliance in Australia.

Email marketing stats

Planning out the types of emails you need

The types of emails you send will depend on what type of small business you have. Just remember that every email you send should provide value for your customers.

If you’re sending an email without a clear goal and purpose or because you feel obligated to send something, it might need some rethinking.

Email design and content creation

After planning out the emails you want to send, you’ll need to actually create the content and email designs.

The key to this step is to always keep your customer and the goal of your email campaign in mind. You want the content of your message to be clear and add value for your customers and the goal or action that you want them to take should be very clear.

Sending the campaign and studying the results

Email marketing provides a unique opportunity to learn from your customers. You should always be analysing the performance of your emails regarding your email marketing KPIs.

If you notice certain types of emails perform poorly with your audience, look for new ways to improve on the next campaign.

Analysing your email performance doesn’t just let you improve your future emails. It also teaches you more about your customers, which can help you make improvements in every aspect of your business!

Email marketing results

Summary  

Now that you have a handful of small business digital marketing tactics up your sleeve you can get to work implementing them across your marketing channels. Some of you may not have time to do it and that’s where we can help you out. It’s what we do every day, and we’re passionate about it.

Helping small businesses grow and build their dreams through digital marketing is what keeps us going.

Take a minute to schedule a quick conversation with us to learn more about the marketing services we customise for small businesses like yours.

With over 10,000 WordPress themes available, it can be quite overwhelming to find the best WordPress theme to meet your needs. A lot of beginners start out by choosing the best-looking demo with all the bells and whistles, however this is often a poor choice as these themes tend to be bloated with code that will slow your website's load time down substantially. With Google using website speed as a ranking factor, you need to ensure your site loads within 3 seconds.
So, what are some of the key requirements you should be looking for?

1. Speed

Depending on your hosting company and the content you add to your chosen theme, along with any optimisations you make - you won't know what your final load time will be. What you can do is select a fast loading theme with a clean code base as best practice and then go from there. You can check the speed by entering their demo site’s URL into GTmetrix. Here are the main things you should be looking for:

Fully Loaded Time - the lower the better (your finished website needs to load in under 3 seconds).
Total Page Size - the lower the better (your finished website needs to not exceed 2MB).
Requests - the lower the better (your finished website ideally will not exceed 80)

2. Responsive

Most WordPress themes are responsive these days, but there are still a few sellers who are releasing fixed width layouts that are not mobile friendly AT ALL. Don't just take their word for it, run their demo theme's URL through Google's Mobile Friendly Test page.

3. Browser compatibility

Most WordPress theme developers will test their themes thoroughly by using sophisticated browser compatibility testing tools. Don’t just take their word for it, run through some basic tests yourself by checking their demo site on different browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. on both desktop and mobile.

4. Support & reviews

Make sure that you check the WordPress theme has good documentation and support options. Most premium WordPress themes offer detailed documentation with 1 year of email-based support. Don’t just believe what they say, check customer reviews for feedback around their support and anything else that may stand out.

We have tested and hand-picked what we believe are the best WordPress themes as of 2019.

Here is a snapshot of the speed test results:

1. WP Astra


WP Astra

With more than 100,000 active installs, Astra is one of the most popular free themes available in the WordPress.org theme directory. There is also a premium version available which provides you with even more customisation options such as;

2. Customify


Customify is a highly-customisable, ultra-flexible, WordPress theme. Responsive, lightweight, and fast loading, the Customify theme is SEO optimised and comes with personalised e-mail support.

3. GeneratePress


GeneratePress Theme

With different layouts, content options, and features to choose from, there are multiple options that will work for any business or industry.

Another theme that was built with speed in mind. Speed testing with a blank canvas page resulted in load times of: 0.536s!

4. Hestia


Hestia WordPress Theme

Hestia is a multi-purpose WordPress theme for business websites and eCommerce stores. It is compatible with almost all top WordPress plugins, so you can add any feature on your website easily. It is a responsive, fast, and SEO friendly theme.

Although not as fast as the first 3, still pretty impressive with a blank canvas page speed test loading in: 0.775s.

5. OceanWP


Ocean WP Theme

OceanWP is a free, multipurpose WordPress theme that lets you build beautiful looking websites with WordPress. The free version comes with 7 free extensions but OceanWP also comes with 11 premium extensions that you can purchase to give you further control.

Although not as fast as the first 3, still pretty impressive with a blank canvas page speed test loading in: 0.827s.

Conclusion

As we can see, there are some really fast WordPress themes available that perform very well. Obviously the content you add to your site will have an impact, along with any additional plugins you install, but at least by choosing one of the faster themes you can start your site on solid foundations.

Page speed is important for SEO, and is just one of the requirements that will help you move up in search rankings while keeping your bounce rate down from visitors who don't have the patience for your page to load.

If you need help speeding up your WordPress site or have any other related issue, contact us to see how we can help.

When was the last time you gave your website a facelift?

Chances are, if your website hasn’t seen any changes for a while, or any new features to dazzle your potential customers, then it’s probably time to change a few things up!

There comes a time in every website’s life where a re-design is essential to keep your business moving forward. This may be due to your leads possibly decreasing, changes in customers’ expectations, and the ever-changing technology evolution, among other things.

Whatever the reason, re-designing your website can be a daunting task filled with uncertainty and confusion.

So, where should you start? Check this article out for more ideas.

Reasons to re-design your website

There are several reasons as to why you might want to re-design your website. Maybe your visitors aren't converting? Are the bounce rates too high?

Maybe your website doesn't reflect your business goals and vision any longer, or worse - it's not mobile friendly.

Getting down to it and understanding your reasoning and the needs of your buyer personas is essential before you even think of reaching out to a web development agency.

If that happens to be Lexa Digital, then we WILL ask the question as to why you want a website re-design. 

Below are the 5 tell-tale signs that you should focus on, before anything else:

1. Not mobile friendly or responsive


We've all come across a website that isn’t mobile-friendly and it’s usually extremely frustrating. Ask yourself – did I hang around and try to navigate my way around a screen that I couldn’t see properly? Could I read the drop-down menus without zooming in on them?

The answer is most probably “No”, and it will be for your customers too if your site hasn’t been optimised for a mobile device.

FACT
83% of Australian mobile users will abandon a website if it is not responsive for their mobile phone.

2. High Bounce Rate

Google’s definition of “bounce rate” is the measure of how many users leave the page they entered on, without interacting with a single page element.

That means the user came onto your homepage, for example, scrolled for a few seconds, and immediately left without clicking a single link. Instant fail.

You’ll want to fine tune your pages to reduce your rates as much as possible and ensure that users are staying on your site and perusing and digesting your content.

For more in-depth info, click here.

FACT
According to many Google Analytics experts, bounce rate percentage for e-commerce sites over 35% is a cause for concern, and anything above 50% is “worrying”.

3. Users Are Confused By Your Navigation

Your website navigation is the lifeline that your visitor needs in order to find what they want, where they are on the website and where they should go next.

With poorly-designed navigation, you could be giving your users a less than average experience, ultimately confusing their journey, thus resulting in higher bounce rates, and less sales for you. 

A great place to start is to simplify your navigation menu and keep it “sticky” so that it scrolls with them. This way, your visitor has access to everything they need as they click through your site. 

FACT
79% of customers who report dissatisfaction with website navigation are less likely to buy from that same site again.

4. Long Load Time

Again, we all know the frustration of landing on a site, only to be greeted with a white page, a loading bar going nowhere fast and/or a loading icon (commonly called the “Coloured Circle of Death”). You usually hit the back button right away, right? Most people do.

It’s really important that your website’s visitors don’t have this same experience. 

For tips on how to reduce site load time, see here.

Long load times have a negative impact on your overall user experience and can lead to people leaving your site before it loads and increasing your bounce rate (see what I did there again?).

And remember, Google takes all of this into consideration when ranking websites on their SERPs.

FACT
By improving a mobile site’s page speed from 8 seconds to 2 seconds, conversion rate can increase by 74%.

5. Looks Outdated

Possibly the biggest and most common reason for a website re-design is if it’s visually dated or not presenting your brand or company in the best way. 

Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than clicking on a site only to be greeted with something that looks like it’s straight out of the 90’s. Am I right?

For example, this is what Google's website looked like when I first started using it in 1998!

The truth is that most people judge books by their cover, and if your website looks outdated, isn’t maintained, or doesn’t match your brand elsewhere, it’s going to negatively affect the trust your users should be building with you and your business.

FACT
70% of US users in 2018 said they wouldn’t trust a poorly designed website, as it comes off as “unprofessional and out of touch”.

Wrapping Up

Your website can be a major source for leads and revenue, and if it isn't, it might be time to take a close, hard look at how it's performing. 

Your prospects visit your website to decide whether to buy from you and if they aren't satisfied, they will leave and quickly forget about it.

There are a lot of signs that you may need a website re-design, even beyond the ones we’ve discussed here, but by focusing on user experience and seeing if your current site has any of these tell-tale issues, you should be able to determine if you’re in need of a full website re-design, some small changes, or if you’re set up for success.

Still not sure? Let’s talk! We’re always happy to help you figure things out.

Chances are you’ve heard the term “landing page” before. But what exactly is a landing page? Is it a page on your website? Why are landing pages so important?

A landing page is the first page you end up on after clicking a link, usually in some kind of online marketing advertising campaign. But a landing page can be almost anything - a home page, blog post a product page, or a page to capture potential leads for future campaigns.

When it comes to online marketing, “landing page” usually means a page that is specifically designed to receive and convert traffic from an online marketing or advertising campaign.

Here are a few examples of things you might want people to do on your landing page:

• Make a purchase
• Become a lead by submitting a form
• Call you
• Reach out via chat
• Subscribe to a newsletter or email list
• Register for an event

All of the above actions result in the same basic goal - they progress people towards becoming a paying customer, which is pretty much the goal of any landing page.

There are 5 essential elements to include when creating a successful landing page.

See below:

 

Main and Supporting Headlines

 

A good main headline will tell a customer, “Yes, you’re in the right place and here’s what you can expect…” But it needs to be more than an overview of your page - it needs to grab the reader’s attention and interest in some way, and straight away.

If it’s too hard to address the who, why and what of your audience in your main headline, you can expand on it with a supporting headline. Think of your supporting headline as your opportunity to fill in important details.

Your headline should always be the most important and compelling argument for taking whatever action you want someone to take, but sometimes a little extra detail can be the push people need to actually convert and spend money.

The key to writing great headlines is understanding who your audience is, why they are on your landing page and what problem they’re hoping you can solve for them. Once you know those three things, it’s fairly easy to come up with headlines to try.

Call To Action (CTA)


Unfortunately, most people instinctively distrust marketing material. This is understandable as we all know what it feels like to be spammed several times a day!

For example, “Get A Free Quote!”, “Contact Us” or “Get Started” are great examples of CTAs.

Having a specific offer or benefit associated with the CTA also helps to boost conversions. Specific offers make your audience feel like they are getting something in return for their info and gives them an incentive to act now. So, instead of “Contact Us”, try something like “Contact Us Today for 10% Off”.

Finally, making your CTA button a colour that stands out from the rest of the page and placing it prominently will make it easy to find and act on.

Show Them the Benefits

If someone scrolls through your landing page, then that means you’re doing something right. Whether it was your ad, the headline, CTA, or something else, people who read your whole landing page are basically telling you, “I’m interested. Sell me on why I should convert.”

Most businesses don’t know how to talk about themselves or what they are selling in ways that matter to their potential customers. Why? Because most business owners don't feel comfortable talking themselves up, or telling you how they've spent countless hours perfecting their services or products. 

The only problem is, the people on your landing page don’t care.

They don’t care about that nifty feature that you offer. They may not even care about the feature at all. Most visitors to your site are asking themselves one simple question:

Will this make my life easier?

Depending on what you’re selling and who you’re marketing to, you might answer that question in a number of different ways. 

The important thing is to keep the focus on how your offer will make their life simpler - not how awesome your business, product or offer is. 

Social Proof

  Unfortunately, most people instinctively distrust marketing material. This is understandable as we all know what it feels like to be spammed several times a day!


On the other hand, an actual customer will tell it like it really is.

Testimonials are the easiest way to add social proof to your landing page. Unfortunately, because they are so easy to put together (or even fabricate), testimonials often don’t carry a lot of weight. So, if you want your testimonial to be believable, you need reputable, verifiable sources.

Closing Argument and Reinforcement

A good landing page should naturally lead a user to the belief that converting is in their best interest. To do that, you need to know exactly what you want them to do and why they might not want to do it. Then, throughout your landing page, you address their concerns and sell them on the value of what they get in exchange for converting. 

In particular, if someone makes it through to the end of your landing page, you have a final opportunity to convince them to convert (this is a good place for another CTA). With your closing argument/reinforcing statement, you should summarise everything you covered in the rest of your landing page and then throw in any additional selling points you think might seal the deal.

Honestly, most people won’t read your closing argument/reinforcing statement, but for the people who do make it all the way through your page, a good conclusion can be the difference between them hitting the back button or converting.

By the way, if you’d like help putting together some landing pages, let us know here. We'd love to help!

 

As at December 2018, there are 4.1 billion people in the world who use the internet. That statistic alone is the best reason to invest the time and effort into your business’s website.

These days, a company without a website is pretty much unheard of, meaning business owners need to consistently improve their site in order to have any hope of competing online successfully against their competitors.

There are so many aspects to consider when it comes to creating and maintaining a website. And yes, some are more crucial than others, but don’t forget about the subtle details that are quite commonly ignored.

It’s these subtle details that can define your success, whilst others overlook and dismiss them. Capitalising on these will most likely put you in front of your competitor.

Take a look below at some of the most important factors to begin with, and try to visualise your website while reading through.

How user-friendly is your design?

The first thing you notice when visiting a website is its design, for better or worse, which is why it’s common to consider your site’s theme and other aesthetic aspects, and it usually takes forever!

Given that smartphones are fast becoming the most popular way to view online content, you will need to keep mobile view at the forefront of your strategy when designing your website.

See below stats on past, present and future use of e-commerce through mobile. 

While there’s no doubt that the style and professionalism of your website’s design need to be high quality, it’s the user-friendliness (or lack of) that will prove to be the deciding factor for your visitors.

When potential or returning customers visit your website, it’s crucial for their experience to be an efficient, hassle-free affair.

If your site is complicated or confusing to navigate, links or buttons don’t work, or the information they need is hard to find, then it’s safe to say that they will abandon your site. They’ll probably end up with your competitor, who already knows how important their website is to their revenue.

Primary menus should be located in plain sight (ideally at the top of the page with solid drop-down options), and respond correctly for fast, effortless navigation. All internal and external links should lead to the correct pages and/or sites.

Also, ensuring that your contact information is easy to find will prove to be useful for new and repeat business.

Improve performance with better web hosting services

 

In the early days of creating a website, budget and under-powered web hosting was the way to go. But as technology continues to advance, our levels of expectation increase.

One of the ways business owners improve site performance is by upgrading their website hosting service. Upgraded web hosting grants you more bandwidth and web space to play with, and therefore increases the efficiency of your website.

In order to out-perform your competitors, quality website hosting is not a choice, it’s a necessity.

These days, broadband services provide us with a rapid connection, allowing websites to load in a matter of seconds. Anything less is now considered to be below average, and it will cost you dearly.

It sounds harsh, but the fact remains - if your business website is slow, people won’t hang around when there’s a quicker and more reliable alternative.

As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, the majority of users, being potential and returning customers, will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Google Speed Stats

Not only that, site load time has become more crucial than ever. Websites with slow page speed will have a harder time ranking at top search results.

Google has acknowledged that website load time is an important factor when it comes to their end goal - to provide users with search results which include sites that are optimised for speed.

See our Load Time Blog for more detailed information on how you can achieve optimal load time in order to gain more paying customers.

Include high-quality content on your pages

Well-written content is a necessity of any reputable website. Without it, you’ll struggle to engage your target audience and promote your business effectively.

High-quality web copy throughout the various pages of your site gives customers a reason to stick around, check out what you have to offer, and massively increase the chances of successful conversions.

Remember, the longer your site visitors spend on your website, the higher your site will rank on Googles SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And we all know how important that is!

Another popular and useful form of content is blogging. While this started out as a novel way to keep a digital journal, it’s now become a crucial marketing tool for businesses, helping them to improve their site’s SEO and directly connect with their audience.

A blog is the perfect platform to establish your brand further, as well as provide more information about products and services. 

Read more detailed information on blogs here.

Improve your SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is something that every website owner should take note of and explore to the max.

Your website is virtually useless without having a well thought out SEO strategy.

As most of us know, SEO relates to the marketing methods used to make websites rank higher on search engines.

In case you’ve forgotten - why is this important? Think about it. When was the last time you searched for something on Google and didn’t find exactly what you were looking for on the first page or two? Exactly.

Ranking higher means you’ll appear on the initial pages of a search, and that will give you a much better chance of gaining new customers.

While this may sound complicated to anyone who isn’t acquainted with marketing knowledge, applying simple SEO techniques such as keywords and backlinks will benefit you greatly.

Keywords are phrases and words that relate to your business and industry, which you should be using throughout your copy and blog posts. For example, if you’re a builder based in Brisbane, it will benefit you to rank for keywords like ‘Brisbane builder’ or ‘builder in Brisbane’.

Backlinks are links to high-authority websites to support statistics and other data mentioned in your content. This tells search engines that your site is a relevant and reliable source of information.

Incorporate Landing Pages in your overall website strategy

 

Before I knew any better, I thought a landing page was the homepage of a website. But this turned out to be completely wrong!

So what's the difference?

Your homepage is designed with a more general purpose in mind. It speaks to your overall brand and corporate values and is typically loaded with links and navigation to other areas of your site. It’s designed to encourage exploration.

Your landing pages are designed for one purpose only.

Think of the links on your page as leaks. Each link on your page that doesn’t represent your conversion goal is a distraction that will dilute your message and reduce your conversion rate.

Landing pages should have all navigation and extra links removed so there is only a single action for your visitors to take – to click your call-to-action.

The potential uses of landing pages are almost limitless, but the end result will remain the same - to collect personal information (or generate leads) in exchange for something they will get from you. This could be reports or whitepapers regarding a specific industry, an eBook or newsletter, just to name a few.

Put simply, never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page.

Google and Facebook ads continue to dominate the online advertising space, as they are both a hot-bed of daily activity. These kinds of paid advertising require a dedicated landing page in order to optimise your conversion rate and capitalise on your ROI.

The most recent stats show that landing pages converted 65% better than website pages. If you aren’t already building landing pages as part of your overall marketing strategy, then you should start considering it.

Summary

 

With a website, you have the ability to connect with and market to a broader customer base better than ever before. So, it’s vital to ensure that you do your very best to improve it wherever possible, and the advice mentioned about will give you some ideal areas to start.

Of course, not everybody has the time (or inclination) to spend days, weeks or even months on perfecting their website in order to gain optimal performance and increase their revenue. This is where we can help!

We offer monthly subscriptions to a range of areas in digital marketing that can help you get the results you want, and free up more time for you to concentrate on running your business. That way, you don’t have to spend a fortune up front and only pay for what you need. See more on the benefits of a monthly subscription.

Check out our packages, and give us a call if you need to know anything more.

Slow loading websites kill sales

If you already have a website, do you know how long it takes to load when somebody visits your site either on a desktop computer or a mobile phone? The answer is probably no, and you could be losing a ton of possible leads and sales if it’s not loading - fast.

Why? Because we live in a fast world and people are now notoriously impatient when it comes to information available at their fingertips.

They expect “results right now” when browsing the net.

They want a smooth experience so they can effortlessly receive the information they were searching for.

In recent studies, about half of all web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. If it isn’t loaded within 3 seconds, those users tend to abandon the site.

An even more alarming statistic is that 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with an online store’s experience and loading time will take their business elsewhere. (Online shopping behemoth Amazon stands to lose up to $1.6 billion per year if their site was slowed by just 1 second!)

Clicking or tapping on a website link seems simple. But behind the scenes, hundreds of requests are instantly pinged around the world to bring you the images and text.

There’s a lot going on in those few short seconds, and a lot can go wrong in that time. Things can start to slow down, taking your website with it.

The bottom line is that your users expect your website to load fast, and they won’t stick around if it doesn’t.

With that in mind, let’s look at the most common reasons why your website is slow to load and ways to optimise your website for the best possible performance - which will increase your sales!

1. Server performance issues

Your website loads from the ground up and it all starts from your browser (Chrome, Explorer, Safari etc) sending a “ping” (response time to a request) to your server.

It’s asking for all the information and data, so it can load up your website.
If your server’s performance is low, it will take longer to respond. It doesn’t matter how quick everything else is, a slow server will always give you a slow start.

Poor server performance is almost always down to your web host. A cheap web host will usually give you a shared server, which means you’re sharing space and resources with countless other websites and you will be charged extra if you use more than your fair share.

If your site is slow, it’s partly because you’re in a queue with a lot of other sites.

If a hosting plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Many of us are bound by cashflow when it comes to what we want to achieve with our business.

Don’t fall prey to a cheap hosting deal as chances are you will end up forking out a lot more of your hard-earned dollars in the long run.

You should check customer reviews before you commit to a website host and remember that cost should only be a factor of the overall services that a hosting company can provide, depending on your business needs. This is the first thing you need to get right from the start.

2. Location of your website server

We’ve all made long distance phone calls, so you already know that it takes longer to make the connection and that’s because the information needs to physically travel to get there.

The same thing happens when you click on a website. One you click, you send a message to the server asking it to load.

If your server is based in America, and an Australian visitor clicks on your website, the information has to travel all the way across the Pacific Ocean requesting access to the server. Then, it must travel all the way back to load it on the visitor’s screen.

Do your research before signing up to a hosting provider.

If your business’ target market is in Australia only, then you may want to consider an Australian service provider with local servers. This will undoubtedly allow your site to load quicker.

But be careful. Some of these companies charge a fortune for their hosting so it’s best to check out what other customers have to say about them first.

Alternatively, there are several international hosting providers that have servers or data centres in numerous countries around the world, and by signing up with them, your site information will be requested from the closest server to your site visitor’s location.

Lexa Digital chooses to use SiteGround for our hosting needs. We find them to be superior in price, speed, ease of use, and overall performance. They also have integrated Cloudflare so your website will load ultra-fast no matter who clicks on it. Check them out for yourself: www.siteground.com

3. Increased traffic will use more resources on the server

If your website is experiencing a lot of traffic at any given time, it will eventually cause your website to slow down.

At its current level, your web server can only serve a certain number of people at once. Kind of like queuing in a shop. The more people that come into the shop, the slower they get served.

The same thing happens on your website. Your server will try to manage all the extra traffic, but it will slow down somewhere in between.

So how can I speed things up without losing all my customers?

There are a few factors you should assess first in order to help your website perform faster whilst experiencing high traffic. I have listed the integral areas below.

4. Browser caching is a vital part of your site performance

When someone visits your website, the elements on the web page they are trying to access are automatically downloaded and stored on their hard drive in a cache (temporary storage).

So, the next time they visit your site, their browser will load the requested web page very quickly, without having to send a request to the server again.

WordPress offers a vast range of Caching plugins.

The best WordPress caching plugins are W3 Total Cache, which is the most popular performance plugin, and WP Super Cache, which is best for websites with high traffic and underpowered servers.

For those not using WordPress, your site builder will have a caching service available in the dashboard settings.

5. Extra-large images on your site will slow      download time

Remember the good old days of dial-up internet? A large image could take minutes to load. One. Small. Bit. At a time. It was agonising, to say the least.
Thankfully, things have improved greatly since broadband, but the general rule still applies.

After you ping the server, it will start carrying each bit of a website to your browser screen. If you’ve got a ton of large images on your website, you’re adding extra load time for every picture, as they take up most of your page space.

Having lots of images isn’t a bad thing, as they bring life and emotion to a site. But most people go wrong by forgetting to optimise their graphics for page speed and the size of the page.

Format selection, resizing, and compression are the among the biggest factors in reducing the size of a page and increasing speed. Avoid using BMP (Bitmap) images and try to work towards compressing your images down to between 60 to 70 percent of their original size.

Your images will look the same on the screen, but they’ll load faster for your visitors.

If you use WordPress, there are heaps of plugins available to make your images less bulky.

If you’re looking for an easy, straightforward way to alter your images, tools like Smush are a good start.

It will automatically resize, optimise, and compress images for free. You can also compress up to 50 images at a single time and you can elect to automatically compress upon upload, making it super easy to keep your website load time down.

If you prefer to Photoshop your pics before uploading, try using TinyPNG. These guys give you a little bit more control over your finished product and tell you how big your image is without having to leave the site. Try it for yourself: www.tinypng.com

6. Keep your code clean and your file requests low

We’ve already explained how big, heavy elements take much longer to load but it’s not just about their size. It’s how many of them there are and ultimately, it’s about how simple the code is that makes your site.

Every small element on your site requires a different file request to load. Every CSS file, every image, every social sharing button, and every piece of JavaScript is a new file request.

Your server can only handle a certain number of requests per second. If you’re on a small server, that’s going to seriously slow things down when you have a high traffic period.

Flashy websites that are bloated with features will undoubtedly have clunky code that will dramatically lower site speed.

Stay away from pre-built website templates that have a lot going on. Some may look great, but ultimately you need to keep your site clean and simple and you’ll be one step closer to maintaining optimal site speed.

We have built our ready-made website templates around speed and overall functionality using a feather-light theme in WordPress. That way, customers know they’re not getting a bulky back end that will drag their site down with unnecessary code.

Wrapping Up

There are several tools available to help diagnose your site load speed, however, keep in mind that varying factors may cause this speed to differ throughout the day.

High traffic periods and a visitor’s personal internet connection are just a couple.

We recommend conducting 2-3 tests per day. That way you can get an overall picture of how it’s performing.

Website Speed Test

But first, let’s see how quickly your site is loading right now. Here is a simple speed test tool you can use:

https://tools.pingdom.com/ - enter the page URL in the first field and then choose a location from the drop-down box to the right.

Eg. For Australian websites, you would choose Pacific – Australia – Sydney.

Remember that it is running a test on individual pages of your site, not the whole site itself. Take note of the detailed report it produces which is choc-block full of useful information.

We recommend testing every page on your website so you can get a clear picture of what needs to be fixed, and where.

If you would like more information on anything discussed here or anything website related in general, get in touch with us today.

So you’re a small business without the need or budget for an in-house marketing specialist. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pick up the phone or email someone to ask for advice, to delegate marketing tasks or to handle new projects?

How many times have you put a project or marketing needs aside because you didn’t have the time?

At Lexa Digital, we use a marketing subscription model for many of our clients for this very reason – convenience. We offer a range of product packages such as website creation, updates and maintenance, search engine optimisation, and content marketing, to name a few. This way, you’re in full control, only subscribing to what you need and not having to pay for a service that you don’t. 

This model has proven higher customer satisfaction and retention, because it allows us to become your brand ambassador and advocate focusing on results while you focus on other responsibilities.

So how would a monthly subscription with a marketing agency benefit you?

 

It is more cost and time efficient

Have you ever wondered how much of your time is wasted on project descriptions, estimates, emails, phone calls and cost negotiations for your business? It's probably more than what you want to admit. 

Many projects (mostly small) never come to fruition because they get lost in the estimate, negotiation phase or they simply cannot afford an up-front fee of anywhere between $3000 to $5000 for an integral digital marketing service that their business needs in order to be successful.

With a monthly subscription, you don’t have to write up a budget, description, and timeline for a small project and then wait for the estimate. You just call your marketing agency and begin working on the project without waiting. Booking time in advance saves money, compared to budgeting projects one at a time. 

The result is a quicker turnaround for your request and more time to devote to other tasks on your list without the worry of how you’ll come up with a lump sum of thousands of dollars up front. 

You can simply subscribe to a monthly package for a lot less and save money when it matters.

Focus is on results, not the project.

Results are often an afterthought or put on the back burner for task-oriented projects. The focus is to complete the project within the budgeted hours, which often does not include assessing your brand first and how it should integrate.

Buying a subscription in advance saves money, compared to budgeting projects one at a time. Working with a marketing agency on a subscription ensures that they know your brand and they are results-focused. They are not task-driven but instead strategic-driven

They can use subscription hours to look at the big picture and produce results-oriented marketing elements to achieve your goals. Time is not wasted trying to “keep within budget” because the subscription gives them the flexibility to produce great work for you. 

An ongoing, monthly relationship will also support experimentation and optimisation and you can guarantee that an agency will find out what works best for your business moving forward.

The agency becomes a trusted brand partner, not just a contractor.

When a marketing agency has the mindset of a contractor, they won’t usually possess an emotional connection to your brand. The mentality is that you will call when you need something or they “check-in” every once in a while to see if you have any new opportunities.

An agency that is a trusted brand partner invests their time in your brand’s mission, vision and goals. They have that emotional connection because they are looking for new ideas to help you succeed. Working with someone who already understands your brand saves time and leads to better content. 

A monthly subscription helps build this partnership because they have the freedom to lead you in the best direction without project budget constraints on the mind.

The agency is available when you get too busy.

How many times have you looked at your workload and realise you need another 10 hours in a day to complete your list? With a marketing subscription, the agency is available to help relieve your workload. 

As a trusted partner who understands your brand, you are able to delegate assignments to them such as blog posts, social media, and graphics and rely on them for thought leadership. 

You don’t have to worry about finding external resources and bringing them onboard. You have priority access to an agency you trust and don’t need to worry about whether they’ve already booked another project when you need them.

At a glance - why monthly subscriptions are forward-thinking:

  1. Intimate understanding of your brand, business, and industry sector
  2. Build a long-term relationship and trust
  3. Priority treatment and quick response when you need it
  4. Better value for money. Lower hourly rate
  5. No surprise costs, hidden fees, and no lump sum costs. Easier to budget
  6. Commitment to getting a return on your marketing investment
  7. Clients benefit from proactive thinking from the agency
  8. Keep ahead of the competition in the fast-moving digital space

By working with your marketing agency to subscribe to a service that meets your needs, you will find more peace of mind, a quicker turnaround on requests, and the ability to do more with your budget.

Website design strategy is more than just making a site look visually spectacular and professional. It is about grabbing a potential customers attention and leading them on a journey down a clear path to an end goal; the solution to a want or need.

In this day and age, the human attention span sits at around 6-8 seconds - that is shorter than a goldfish’s at 9 seconds! Web designers need to use a 7 second design test to evaluate the functionality of a website and whether a new visitor would know what the website offers within that first seven seconds that they land on your page.

Think of your business website like the first thirty seconds of meeting someone in person, because that is when their initial impression of you is formed. Your website will get even less time so you will need to ensure it communicates with these elements:

Use these elements of strategic design to identify your goals and assist you in meeting the business objectives that drive your website to achieve its end goal.

Implementing a Web Design Strategy

Consider these steps when planning a strategically designed website project:

Define your goals

You must clearly define your business goals and understand exactly what you are expecting to achieve by designing or redesigning your website.

While increased website traffic and sales may seem to be obvious end goals, they are meaningless if you don’t assess the objectives necessary to achieve the results you want. A successful website requires an effective, sustained marketing strategy that goes beyond presenting a collection of products and services. That means your website design should be focused on specific goals, along with measurable objectives to attain them.

Web design is a functional art that goes beyond a visually attractive and well-balanced layout. It is imperative that you spend the time needed to identify your website objectives. Start by listing specific website goals and corresponding objectives that fit your overall marketing strategy and capabilities. Examples might include:

Goal: Increase sales

Objectives:

Goal: Becoming an authoritative resource

Objectives:

Goal: Improve interaction with existing and potential customers

Objectives:

Goal: Build your brand

Objectives:

Know your audience

Know your audience

How your website looks and functions will depend on for whom and what purpose it is being designed. The demographics, technology, gender, age, and interest will influence your choice of aesthetics and usability.

Knowing your customer inside out is vital to the success of your website. You need to go on a journey of discovery about your ideal customer. Research everything you possibly can about them, for example:

Brand Image Drives Design

Consider these five tips for developing a strong brand identity:

  1. Sell your brand, not a product.
    Product-centric marketing may have been the way before, but now, in the current digital age, you’ve got about 20 seconds to make your impression.  And that’s not long enough to convey the excellence of your product, so what will keep your leads with you long enough to convert to sales? It's the impression and perception you cultivate, which basically means your brand. It won’t matter how good your product is if your brand doesn’t excite people, they will simply go elsewhere, and quickly.
  1. Your brand should reflect who you really are.
    The key is to think about who you are as a business and to let that dictate your branding and marketing. For example, if you are a dentist specialising in cosmetics, why is all your copy in an old-school serif font? It would make more sense for your text to be in something sleeker like Helvetica. These elements provide your customers with a sense of who you are and what you deliver. You should create a favourable, authentic relationship between your business and your customers. Small details like this buy you invaluable time for that relationship to gel before your potential customer clicks away to a competitor.
  1. You are only as good as your image and copy.
    It’s important to understand the huge role your image and copy has in making up your brand identity. If you want your brand to be perceived in a positive light, it’s crucial that you nail your message and create designs that accurately portray who you are to your customers.
  1. It’s OK to rebrand.
    If you have read this far and noticed some mistakes you’ve made in your own branding. Don’t worry. It’s perfectly okay to rebrand, especially if your intention is to differentiate your business or service in the minds of your target market.
  1. Avoid resorting to gimmicks.
    Don’t substitute gimmicks for hard work and reflection. If your brand identity is not where it should be, no amount of ebooks, webinars, or SEO strategies can save it.

Goals Drive the Design Direction

Once you have established the demographics of your audience and have a clear vision of your brand image, it’s time to sync design strategy with design decisions.

I will use Jetty as an example and the first 3 steps their homepage uses to increase registration numbers as the goal.

Jetty

  1. The header on the homepage must be clear, concise, and free of jargon. Make it very clear what you have to offer so there is no confusion.
  2. Draw the eye of your website visitor to the registration button or link. If you use brand appropriate colour and contrast the button or link will be instantly visible.
  3. The registration process should be short and simple because people may be put off by the sight of a long drawn out form. Any additional information can be collected on an as needed and when needed basis.

These 3 steps will lead you to your goal of increasing sign-ups. The strategy of directing the focus of design elements toward the goal is the same regardless of the goal. You want the aesthetics and focus that best suits the brand and audience.

If the brand is photography then focus on creating an emotional experience using shape, colour and imagery. If the website is meant to inform then make sure it’s easy to use and read. You want to create an interface that doesn’t distract the user from the content.

Design for the Right Audience

Every visitor could be a potential customer but there is one audience that stands apart, and the audience is more likely to be influenced by the products or services your website promotes. Focus on attracting that right audience.

Everything about the website including periodic advertising or promotions, product design, overall look, and feel are for one target group of people.

A website for motorcycles may target adults over the age of 20-45 earning $50,000 plus per year. However, that group is your target. Alternatively, a beauty website has a smaller target audience of all women with a broad age range.

Barriers to Sign-up that are Counter-Productive

If you think customers are impressed by the need to provide a detailed personal profile to sign up to your website then you will greatly reduce your conversion rate.

Paying customers like to give as little information as possible until they’ve had time to research your products and services. The more barriers you position to sign-up the quicker they will leave your website and look elsewhere. Research has shown the fewer fields on a sign-up form the more likely people are to sign-up.

Form

Make it easy for your visitors to take the next step. If you are offering a free trial, customers are more likely to accept that offer if they don’t have to give you their credit card. If the service is web-based or the product is downloadable, then you won’t need their address.

Request only the information you need to provide a product or service and don’t ask for more than is necessary, even that should be kept brief. Simplify your sign-up forms by using only the essential fields. Monitor your conversions to see what works and what does not.

Marketing Drives Engagement and Investment

Your marketing message comes before a visitor converts to a lead. Marketing tells the potential customer about the nuts and bolts of the product or service. It answers important questions; What is it? What does it do? Why do I want it? Why your product or service over your competitors?

This information should be clearly available. Don’t make customers go hunting through your website to find these details. Put them right out there in easy to find and understand format. Include the actual cost along with how and when they will be billed. People are more likely to sign-up if they are clear about what you are selling and the term under which you operate.

Remove Barricades to Buying

There are many internal factors that can affect achieving your website goals. In spite of what you do, other things stand in the way and a small change to the website might have a tremendous effect on how your funnel is performing.

Here are some of them:

  1. Pop Ups
    Popups may seem like a great way to get people to sign up for on your website. But let’s make one thing very clear – they are super annoying, especially when they appear right at the moment your visitor is trying to decide whether to buy a product.
  1. Generic Stock Photography
    Stock photography websites offer some great visuals. But choose wisely, are visitors really supposed to believe that those people work for your company? That they are always so happy and productive at meetings or while talking between themselves? Keep it real as much as possible.
  1. Confusing Copy
    Is this product for me? Will it solve my problem? Will they stand by me if things go wrong? Will Will this cost me if I make the wrong decision? These are typical questions your customers ask themselves before making a purchase. Answer those questions on your website and your chance of converting will increase.
  1. Confusing Navigation
    Implement coherent menu structures and navigation labels throughout the site so the user can browse your site intuitively, without wondering where links to everything are. The last thing you want is for your visitors get confused about where to go and frustrated that they can’t find the information they need to make a decision to buy.
  1. Broken Links
    Imagine constantly being given wrong directions which almost always get you end up in a dead end. How frustrated would you feel? How many times would you try before giving up? The same applies to your visitors trying to follow the links on your website.
  1. Poor Layout and Typography
    Unfortunately, this is still one of the most common UX problems. Disorganised layout elements, unreadable text, pixelated images, information scattered around the page and poor readability. These barricades will put even the most determined buyer off the purchase.
  1. Slow Loading Time
    If your website loads for even a second too long, your visitors will get irritated. Add one or two more seconds and your visitors are pretty much gone.

Concluding thoughts

Strategic design really is just common sense. You design a product or service to meet a specific need and that product fulfills its purpose. Know your audience, define your goals and create a solid plan to ensure your website meets your expectations.

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