Recent blog posts - WebSubstance - Web Design and Search Engine Marketing

Content Marketing for Local Business

At WebSubstance, we've often talked about how valuable good content marketing can be. We know that we want to inject excellent content into the structure of a corporate website. But how does this work?
Here are some of the aspects of creating great content that local businesses can use to compete in today's digital world.

Brainstorm Before Jumping In

Too many content projects start with a hastily written list of topics and a green light for a race to the finish line. We're not suggesting that writers need handholding -- but there should be some creative process serving the creation of valuable content. It shouldn't just be a keyword and a knee-jerk reaction. Planning is important, and that's why writers need to do a bit of research and understand what's needed for a particular client.

Go Companywide

It's also important to have content writers and creators connected to your local business as a whole. This might look different in any given company -- writers may be interviewing suppliers. They may be talking to internal department managers. They may even be talking to customers. All of this collaboration is useful when it comes to creating a vibrant content platform.

Get Sharing

It's also important to have a sharing program for content. For example, many companies now link content to Facebook either with short-form social media blurbs, or with an actual link to a blog post. This is just one model, and companies can feel free to innovate and brainstorm their way to sharing success. One rule of thumb is that it's not a good idea to try to ask content writers to post business  items on their personal Facebook pages. Instead, a dedicated business Facebook page can be a central way to get this social data out to customers. Having a sharing plan that’s equitable and well-supported can make a huge difference in readership and return on investment.
 
Test Content

When content is out in the world, local businesses can go further by quickly looking at the metrics, and figuring out what works. Did a certain post net an extremely high volume of traffic and spike your page views for the month? That's valuable data that so many companies overlook. Just a few minutes of analysis can make a huge difference in managing an editorial calendar to reach more customers on an ongoing basis.

Talk to WebSubstance about setting up a great content marketing programs for your business that works. We’re specialized in content marketing for local businesses in Northern Virginia and can take care of everything from the initial ideas to the quality finished content. Make your website more competitive in the age of organic search and thought leadership.

 

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The Value of SoLoMo for Web Marketing

Maybe you haven't heard of the “SoLoMo” model, but it's all the rage these days when it comes to digital marketing practices.

SoLoMo isn't brand-new -- in fact, it's been around for few years. But it's still a good guideline for upgrading your marketing techniques and building modern webpages that lead your business toward success.

Linguistic experts call SoLoMo a “portmanteau” -- which is a fancy name for a collection of words abbreviated into their individual syllables. In the case of SoLoMo, the term combines the three words: social, local, and mobile.

Social Marketing

To many people, the value of social marketing is as evident as the nose on your face. We tend to think of Facebook first, just because it's such a primary social platform. It's not just because everybody uses it, either. Facebook started accommodating business with items like the Facebook Open Graph, and specific builds for business profiles. Now it's considered kind of negligent for small business to not have a Facebook page. The Facebook enterprise profile is also a great way to reach out to customers and offer coupons or discount deals. Many businesses tie the Facebook page into the website, for instance, posting blog posts on Facebook.

However, Facebook isn't the only social media platform that's very useful in digital marketing -- companies are flocking to LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and many other platforms to get their message across to target audiences.

Local Marketing

This one can be pretty straightforward, too, but there is often a digital element that companies hire professionals to work with. Geo-targeting and related practices can be tricky with digital media. Professionals may tag parts of the website, use specific keywords, or otherwise target content or digital media toward a local audience. Then there’s also organic local marketing. With organic SEO and social, you're simply writing about things that are going on in the community, relevant for the local audience, which can also have a powerful impact. When you have localized content on a web site, that can really drive interest and a bigger readership.

Mobile Marketing

It's important not to leave out the concept of mobile marketing. We've always stressed mobile-first design and responsive design for websites, because we know that so many customers end up viewing business webpages on a smartphone.

True mobile-first design can require extensive graphic design and web design work. That's why WebSubstance employs the right people to renovate a website to get that mobile-friendly aspect applied.

Ask WebSubstance about getting professional results that will help your business soar to new heights with a combined Social, Local and Mobile strategy. We’ll take care of all of the details, and consult on how to re-brand with a fully functional and appealing web footprint, to boost profits and visibility, as well as your business reputation. Don’t wait to utilize the power of the Internet to achieve more with your business.

So next time your hear SoLoMo, think of WebSubstance.

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Landing Page Responsive Design: What If Your Visitor is Using a Smartphone?

With so much business going on over the Internet, companies are rushing to expand and upgrade their websites. But not enough of them are realizing that responsive design is a very important element, and that it has to be applied in practical ways.

Even company websites that do cater to smartphone users might not do it efficiently or effectively.
For example, one of the most important places to have smartphone-friendly design on the website is on the landing page.

Extensive research has found that high numbers of smartphone users are likely to leave a site if the landing page doesn't seem responsive. If they don't see a menu, if they can't click into other parts of the site, or if they have to scroll too much to find key information, they're probably leaving, and not coming back.

With that in mind, here are some specific responsive design elements that companies are now putting into their landing pages, to keep first-time smartphone visitors engaged and coming back.

No-Border Lists

A lot of the practice of making a landing page smart phone friendly involves using the small available space to your advantage. That's why a lot of companies are doing away with the drop-down list boxes that dominated the desktop age, and instead going with borderless lists on one side, usually the left side, of the screen. Getting rid of the need to table a list gives designers a little more space to work with -- and each pixel is important when it comes to smartphone UX design.

Expressive Graphics

On desktops, you have room to tell a whole story on the landing page. But with responsive design in play, that task gets a lot harder.
Many companies are going with a simpler approach, based on the old saying that “a picture is worth 1000 words.” In many cases, we’re talking about creating a simple line drawing cartoon or a vector graphic that shows the value proposition of a product or service. Sometimes the company uses a speech balloon attributed to a cartoon character to try to get some message out without taking up too much space.
These in-page graphics are another way that companies shrink the landing page footprint to make it easier for smartphone users to navigate.

Usable Forms

Web forms are one of the most sophisticated forms of visitor engagement and lead generation that you can find online. But making them fit a responsive landing page can require some unique design principles.
The web form has to fit the small screen of a smartphone, but it also has to be readable. It doesn't take much to make a web form too large to be rendered well on a smartphone screen.

One of the best fixes for this is simple -- companies will take an entire form on a desktop site and split it into consecutive forms of one to three fields per piece. This way, the smartphone user starts out filling out the first few fields, maybe ‘name’ and ‘e-mail,’ and goes to a subsequent screen for more detail, for example, demographics like age and gender and location. Another option, if that’s feasible, is to make smartphone form much simpler and shorter to grab only the essential information.

Responsive Icons

Responsive icons are a huge issue in landing page design for smartphones.

Icon design works differently in a responsive design environment. Icons have to be simple, often with specific small numbers of line contours. For example, a “home” icon, rather than an elaborately drawn house, will be something as simple as a square and a triangle.

All of this design work builds landing pages that will attract and retain smartphone users. Ask WebSubstance about how to create a company website that works for everyone, and for every device. We’ve designers, engineers and consultants who specialize in user experience for smartphone devices. You'll see your brand visibility and customer engagement follow

 

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Customer Experience Without CRM

Many companies are realizing that they need some way to create a better experience for customers online. They want to analyze customer behavior and figure out what customers like, so that they can tailor their sites to those preferences. Doing this is likely to bring better visibility, more customer loyalty and retention, and eventually, a bigger profit for a business.

Many established companies, especially larger ones, may use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to build customer relationships and figure out more about customer likes and dislikes. But that's not the only way to generate this kind of information that's so useful to a business.

What is Customer Relationship Management?

A customer relationship management or CRM tool is a platform that houses information about individual customers. It's useful in a number of ways. First, companies can put a name with a face for each customer, and compile elaborate dossiers on each person who has interactions with the business. On the other hand, companies can also mine the customer relationship management dashboard to figure out some of the above issues -- what do customers like best, and what are they looking for on the site? They can get a clear visibility of a customer’s journey on their web properties.

Alternatives to CRM for Business

As mentioned, though, having a comprehensive CRM platform is not the only way to track customer behavior and figure out how to build a better experience for the people who are visiting your website. Also, many CRM platforms can be prohibitively costly for smaller firms.

Just evaluating an active website can tell you a lot about what customers like. There are free tools like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools come handy. Accessing data like page views and bounce rates shows you what types of on-site content get read the most, and which ones get the most engagement or where your audience drops off. Over time, if you pay attention to these signals, and create more engaging content, you're bringing more value to customers, and building a more loyal customer base.

At the same time, you can use the same approach with visuals and special features. Given the right kind of site set up, you'll be able to see how often people view a certain video, or what part of the site they gravitate to.

This is just one more reason why extensive website work is so important. Companies may be able to get by without CRM, but increasingly, they can't get by without an optimized website that really reaches out to customers through an inbound marketing model, and makes them feel comfortable, so that they spend more time on the site and get more interested in what the business is all about, and finally buy.

WebSubstance can help your company to build one of these professional, interactive websites. We understand the principle of customer experience and how it brings companies big dividends. Talk to us about how to structure your site to make it customer-friendly. Figure out how to bring your website visitors a better online journey that can result in real business for you.

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Thought Leadership is Real

What do companies do nowadays to make their web sites stand out from others? What's the real “secret sauce” in web design?

Many business leaders are convinced that new forms of data visualization are the way forward. They believe in the power of flash animation and infographics.

It's true that the visuals and classy themes and overall graphic design layout make a difference -- but it's also a mistake to ignore the quality of content.

Those who read more deeply into what's happening in today's marketing world understand that there is a trend towards meaningful, investigative long-form content. With that in mind, companies that follow yesterday's playbook -- simply setting up a five-point website with landing page, about us, contact, products and services and a blog, may not be doing themselves any favors.

Adding Long-Form Thought Leadership Content to a Site

In addition to the above generic site layout, having long-form pieces and articles does a number of things.

First, it gives the core audience that real industry data that they crave. People want to read about real things on the Internet, not just surf through endless pages of fluff. Companies that reveal some industry secrets or explain confusing ideas to consumers can see their online and off-line traffic increase.

The long-form comment is also a key indicator that the site has something to offer. Even people who don't read resources like white papers, e-books or digital guides can note the inclusion of these items on the site, and make their judgments about the company's standing in its markets. In fact, some companies put news pieces behind pay or registration walls -- which may or may not be a great strategy for showing customers what they're about. Do you want your customers to read the long-form pieces – or are they just decorations?

Using Thought Leadership Content

In fact, the “wall” question is a good example of key decisions business leaders will have to make about this investment in thought leadership. In general, long-form content doesn't belong on the landing page -- so where does it go?

You can choose to sit your thought leadership pieces behind a pay wall or registration wall, or you could house them somewhere in a menu directly off of the landing page. You can also surround them with compelling photos and other visuals that keep web users engaged as they navigate your site.

All of this is part of what you might call a “Web 3.0” approach that moves a business from the 1990s and early 2000’s into the evolving virtual dynamism of today's digital marketing world. Ask WebSubstance about how to really upgrade your site for today’s audiences and position you as a thought leader in your target market.

WebSubstance can help. We excel at offering companies the ability to create better and more interactive websites with pro photography, content management and other key services. Ask us about setting up one of these thought leadership websites, connecting it to social media, and ranking high on search engines.

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Break It Up: Page Loads Versus Interactive Content

 

Building a business website isn't always as easy as you might imagine. There are serious decisions that business leaders have to make -- and many of them really have an impact on web viewership, readership and other factors.

Having a meaningful website can really improve profit margins for a business. So many customer decisions now go on online that it makes sense to really put some investment into fixing up your web footprint and reaching out to your target audience through the web.

Rich Content Versus Fast Access: The Trade-Off

Here is an interesting question that many of our clients try to solve when they improve or expand a website.

It's important to have fast loading pages – otherwise, people will get frustrated and leave the site. This is especially important since a lot of people may be using old infrastructure and slow Internet service, which means pages with even moderate content can take a long time to load. Additionally, Google does not favor a website which is heavy and slow to download.

However, it can also help to put a lot of rich interactive features on your site. Your customers who have blazing fast Internet and a new computer will often become more engaged and participate better if you offer them things like multimedia, web forms and video graphics. So you are really marketing to a diverse crowd of people.

The Solution – Deliberate Web Delegation

Here is how we approach this problem -- by segmenting your web content, you can serve both kinds of customers at the same time.

One principle is to keep the rich content off of landing pages. People will be happy when they get to the site quickly, and are able to orient themselves with a menu that shows those tabs like “about” and “contact.”

In the indexed pages in the menu, you can put specific tools online that appeal to your higher-tech audience. One particular bonus is that you can easily label these tools so that people know what they're getting into, instead of just happening upon a page that has some kind of interactive tool embedded in it (and maybe cursing their slow browser.)

The Importance of Mobile Design

Along with these kinds of sophisticated web builds, any business also has to consider responsive design for mobile devices as people are fast shifting to mobile browsing. More of what we do and what we buy is happening through smartphones. Businesses have to design a website to fit a smaller screen and be accessible through the smartphone’s touchscreen. Otherwise, they're losing out on massive amounts of business.

WebSubstance can help with all of these important concerns. Our professionals know how to create that balance and drive higher volumes of traffic to your website over time. That translates into dollars, and solid customer relationships. Talk to WebSubstance about a long-term game plan for your Internet outreach, to stay competitive in a quickly evolving digital world.

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Is Bounce Rate Bothering You?

What is a bounce rate, and why should you worry about it?

The bounce rate is one of those very important metrics for your website performance. A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Google Analytics, a bounce is calculated when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without clicking to or visiting any other page. Bounce rate calculated as the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page.

So it is no-brainer, if you see a high bounce rate in your Analytics, you have reasons to be worried. It simply means visitors coming to your site are not taking any interest in your website, your business or your value prop. Usually a bounce rate higher than 30% is not good.

So you what can do? Let’s try to understand the possible reasons for a bounce. It can be one or combination of many in the following list

  • Website content is not well written or not clear enough to convey the business service or product, making it difficult for a new visitor to figure it out in a reasonable time.
  • Website design and navigation are not good enough for a visitor to stay interested in browsing the site.
  • You might have the best design and copy, but your site downloads quite slow; your visitor is impatient, and she or he will bounce.

Serious businesses always pay attention to lower the bounce rates. They want eyes on the page, not just page views. In fact, in many cases, time spent on the page has become more important than the raw number of page views that you get.

Let’s talk about the copy and content factor for the bounce rate.

Create Clean Text for Visitors, and Make It Make Sense!

Investing in quality text is one of the best ways to make sure people stay on your site to see what your business has to offer.

Breaking Down Text

Another key rule is to avoid the temptation to hammer web readers with long, dense paragraphs of text. Even if you have something technical or detailed to say, it's imperative to keep sentences and paragraphs short. It helps both ways, for human and search engines. You’ll get less bounce from human, and search engines will look at your site more favorably as they also prefer structured content.

Hide the Hook

Of course, it's also important to really have something to say to people. At the end of the day, you need to be reinforcing real ideas and concepts that appeal to your customers.

How can you take care of all these?

You don’t need to. Let WebSubstance take care of your bounce issue and website copy. We have extensive experience helping clients to get their messages heard on the web correctly and in an engaging way. Along with web2 standard design and UX, illustrations and high-quality photos, we provide complete copy services for your main business sites, blogs and social media. And that will have a great impact on your sites bounce rate. Ask WebSubstance about how our teams can make it easy for you to build or revise a web site that’s really inviting, not just a “wall of text.”

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Contact Us

WebSubstance
21800 Town Center Plaza, #266A-281
Sterling, VA 20164
(703) 470-0808
Jenny Le - President
contact.info@WebSubstance.com