Marketing Archives - YasTech Developments
MarketingSEO

Do I Need to Hire an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Company to Fix My Website?

We’ve written in the past about SEO (see Dirty Little Secret of SEO, I Want to Rank #1 on Google and How to Rank Higher on Google) so we won’t go too in depth as those posts cover a lot of the details of the hows of optimizing your website for search engines like Google & Bing.

In answer to the question – do you need to hire a search engine optimization company, the answer is usually no. There’s plenty of things you could be doing to improve your ranking that an SEO expert can’t do for you, most of which have been covered in our posts this month – search the tag #bea4april – getting to the top of Google requires a combination of great content over top of a well designed structure. In short, it requires real work.

At YasTech we can help you with making sure you’ve got a well designed structure to your website – standards based code and other nerd wizardry help here – and help you with your content. Assuming you’ve got all of that in place and have been working at it for awhile, then and only then is it time to consider hiring an SEO consultant to help push your website over the top.

We work with a few different SEO specialists in the city when it’s necessary for our clients who feel like they’re missing that little extra to help their search rankings. These specialists are able to do a website audit, look at various reports from Google / Bing on your website, see what keywords you are ranking for and figure out ways to optimize your content for better results under those keywords.

Next Steps

Contact us if you feel like you’re website should be ranking higher in Google search results. We can work with you to determine whether it would be worthwhile to bring in an SEO specialist to help your website get off the second page of search results.

MarketingWriting

Convert More Visitors into Customers

So you’ve got a website, and people are coming to your website, but sales aren’t any better than they were when you didn’t have a website. What’s wrong?

Most websites do a decent job at providing people with information about what your company does and the products or services you have available, but most fail in encouraging visitors to do something.

Here are some ways you can improve at converting more visitors into paying customers.

Create Clear Calls to Action

The biggest mistake people make on their website is that they forget to ask the visitor to do something. They have paragraphs of information describing their product or service, but that’s it. If you aren’t asking visitors to “Book Now”, “Get your Free Quote”, or simply “Contact for More Info”, you’re probably going to lose that customer.

Solution: Find areas in your content where you should be asking someone to take action, and add a button, link, or other call to action. Make sure it is something that stands out and can’t be missed (keeping it esthetically pleasing is important too). Don’t over do It though. Choose one objective per page and stick to that.

**POST UPDATE** I recently ran across an article that really goes in depth about creating compelling call to actions buttons. Check it out here!

Collect Email Addresses

Many people who come to your website may be interested in your product or service but may not be ready to buy at that time. But what if you were able to still collect their information and ask for the sale at a later time? There are many ways you can do this. You can get them too:

  • Download a free case study, white paper or report that might educate them about your industry or solve a problem they may have.
  • Offer a free seminar or webinar. You’re an expert in your industry so help your clients learn more.
  • Sign up for a newsletter. We recently wrote a post about newsletters that can provide you with further info about utilizing this form of marketing.

email sign up form

Once you have an email list you can start engaging these potential customers by setting up an email marketing campaign to send them promotions and industry information, or follow up their sign up with a thank you note with more directed information about your product or service.

Better Content

It is extremely important to provide clear, easy to read information about your products and services. When describing your product or service, make sure you explain the benefits of your product and how it can solve a problem for your visitor. Features are nice, but they aren’t what sell your product.  Keep your descriptive paragraphs short and use bullets or numbered lists wherever possible. This helps make your website easier to read and helps visitors find the information they are looking for sooner.

As we discussed earlier this week, you can also use video and podcasting to help you convert more visitors into paying customers.

Now What

Take a few minutes to skim your website to see if you think there is room for improvement. Most likely there is. Commit yourself to DO SOMETHING TODAY because that next website visitor could be your next big client.

Want us to take a look at your website for you? Fill out our contact form and we’ll be happy to take a look at your website and recommend ways to help you convert more visitors.

Marketing

How Can Video Help My Business?

In a similar vein to yesterday’s post on podcasting, today I want to talk a bit about video for your website. Like podcasting, video is a vastly underused medium in local online marketing efforts. And while it’s true that it used to be difficult, expensive and time-consuming to get video on the web, today there are so many options available it’s almost the other extreme of not knowing how to use all the available tools.

Your Computer is Watching You

Most, if not all, computers come with a built-in camera & microphone that’s capable of capturing decent quality video/audio which can then be edited using software also included on your computer (iMovie on the Mac, Windows Movie Maker on Windows). You can also record directly into some websites like YouTube and not have to worry about figuring out software and how to upload your video.

Potential customers have long since given up falling for stuffy, corporate videos that obviously aren’t actually representative of the actual business – they are much more interested in seeing the real people behind the business than professional actors and expensive studios.

There’s certainly a time and a place to rent expensive equipment and have a professionally produced and edited video, but the vast majority of local businesses could start with basic videos to expose their products and service to a wider audience.

YouTube Superstar

With the rise of video sharing websites such as YouTube, Vimeo and many others, it’s become very affordable to have video hosted online – in most cases, it’s free. The only cost is the advertising displayed next to your video by the host website. But, in the case of YouTube, you can embed the video on your website at no cost and make use of YouTube/Google’s vast network of content servers around the world to take care of presenting your video quickly.

You get the added bonus of exposing your video and company to people searching exclusively on YouTube that might not have otherwise seen your video. For J&H Builders Warehouse, nearly 30% of the viewers of their installation video came from YouTube – people that might not otherwise be familiar with J&H but are now.

Starter Ideas

It will vary for each business or service as to how video could be used, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Weekly video messages from the CEO/owner about what’s going on with the business.
  • Basic training for how to use products that you sell as in the J&H Builders’ video.
  • Videos of opening new product as they come into the store (typically called unboxing videos).
  • For a clothing/retail store, modelling new items that do a much better job showing off the products than still images.
  • Walk through video of a golf course, kids play centre, manufacturing plant or mall to show what people can expect if they hire or visit your business.
  • Screencasts showing how to use your product or service for web based businesses.

Next Steps

Try out your computer’s camera and see what you can come up with. Get in touch with us – we’d love to help you do an awesome job of using video to help promote your business. Just like podcasting yesterday, there’s not a lot of local competition in the video space so now is the time to try it out and be the main communicator in a growing medium.

Marketing

What is Podcasting and Should My Business Do It?

Podcasting, as defined by Wikipedia:

A podcast (or non-streamed webcast) is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication. The word replaced webcast in common vernacular due to the fame of the iPod and its role in the rising popularity and innovation of web feeds.

In plain english – you download a MP3 from a website or the iTunes podcast directory and listen to it. You can listen on your computer, iPod or any other MP3 player. You can listen to it whenever and wherever you want. Some aren’t just for listening – some podcasts have a video version so you can watch as well as listen.

How Does Podcasting Help My Business?

I believe that podcasting can really help a business – particularly on a local level. As with everything else we’ve covered lately (Twitter, blogging, etc.), it’s not for every business and you need to evaluate whether it’s worth your time. But it is a vastly under-used tool in Saskatoon and area – perhaps it’s something that could be right for your business to use to reach a whole new audience of customers.

Establish Yourself as an Expert In Your Field

Imagine you’re in the process of choosing a new landscaping company for your yard. You visit a couple of websites of local landscapers. Some have nice websites with decent content, others obviously look like they haven’t been updated since 1998, one has a decent bit of information that’s fairly static but still useful.

But one website you visit has a “Click here to hear our opinion on how often you should water your lawn!” button. When you click it, you can hear the actual owners talking about, you guessed it, how often you should water your lawn and other thoughts related to lawn care. Maybe they have a video version that you can see the lawns they are talking about. And they offer you the ability to subscribe to future episodes.

I don’t know about you, but whatever extra amount of information I can learn about a company who’s services or products I am considering will help sway me in their direction.

Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Going back to our uses for a static website post, you could consider answering frequently asked questions in audio form. Again, it’s great to hear it in your own words and voice. Plus, over time you’ll build up a library of answers that you can refer people to when they ask you for your opinions on your industry.

“Wondering why we don’t use 2 H’s in our H2O? Click here to listen to episode 12 of our Lawn and Garden podcast for the answer.”

Interview Current Customers

Another great use for a podcast is to interview past successes and post them to your website. It’s one thing to have quotes posted in text form on your website – how much better to hear it from the actual customer’s mouth?

Podcasting Sounds Hard and I Don’t Know Anything About Recording

These days it’s remarkably easy to start a basic podcast, particularly if you’re just going to do audio. Most computers come with everything you need to get started. Software like Garageband on the Mac is included with every computer, and most computers already have a microphone built in to the computer. Hit record and you’re off!

Getting the audio on your website and added to the iTunes podcast store is a bit trickier, but we can help you get it setup and once it’s all setup you can keep adding to it without our help.

Examples

There isn’t any businesses in Saskatoon I could find that are using podcasting – at least nothing that pops up in Google searches. Here are a few interesting ones I found elsewhere:

Next Steps

There’s plenty more that can be done with podcasting and you can buy more expensive hardware/software to improve the quality of your recordings – but for now I’d recommend starting simple and see where it goes. With minimal start up costs, it’s easy to try out podcasting and see if it works for your business. Be sure to leave a link in the comments or let us know about your podcasting efforts!

Marketing

Email is Dead. So Why Does YasTech Tell Me To Do an Email Newsletter?

Email isn’t actually dead. With the rise of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, the thought is that no one is checking their email anymore. And while it’s certainly true that more people are living inside their Facebook messages, there is still plenty of opportunity to use email to remind people about your business.

Less is More

The clients we’ve worked with on email newsletters have, if anything, erred on the side of not wanting to send too many emails out and so send far too few. While you have to find a good balance between being useful and being spammy, when people sign up for a newsletter they are expecting to get some sort of promotion along with whatever other information you said they would get in their email inbox. For some businesses, this could mean sending out a newsletter once a week if the content is light and easy to consume – (i.e. craft suggestions, quick tips for gardening, weekly promotions at a retail store etc.) while for other businesses, it’s probably best to send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter when the content is a bit heavier or longer (i.e. financial advice for home owners, suggestions for running an efficient farm, etc.)

I’d suggest being slightly more aggressive than you initially feel you should be and ask for feedback from your readers after a couple mail outs.

Top of Mind

Even if the person on the receiving end of your newsletter isn’t in need of your products or services at that moment, by sending them a little reminder email you can keep your business or brand at the top of their mind so when it does come time to purchase the types of products you sell, your company will be the first they think of.

If you’ve ever signed up for any major company’s email newsletter, companies like Amazon, Apple, Home Depot, Future Shop, they will send an email for any one of these occasions:

  • Seasonal changes
  • Holiday related promotions
  • New product launch
  • Clearance items available for limited time
  • Upcoming sale
  • If it’s a day of the week that ends in the letter “y”

And maybe you delete half or more of the emails without even looking at them. But you take enough of a glance to see their name, their logo and the special announcement they have before you can hit the delete key. It costs the company pennies to send out the email and they’re able to keep their brand in your mind so the next time you need to upgrade your computer you’ll think of Apple.

It’s Easy to Start

We can help you get setup with a signup form on your website and sending out a newsletter in a matter of a few days – Contact us today and get started with your first email newsletter campaign. We have many clients that are sending newsletters out already with lots of success. I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you how easy it is and how they wish they would’ve started a long time ago!

MarketingSocial Media

Should Our Business Have a Facebook Page?

First off – confession time. We missed posting yesterday. I’d blame the cold medication – but the reality is we got busy working on stuff for our awesome clients. But like we said in our initial series on blogging, it’s ok to occasional call in sick. Just make sure to get back in the routine of posting on your regular schedule as soon as possible.

You’ve Gotta Get On the FaceBook

FaceBook offers a lot of opportunity for businesses to get feedback, try out new ideas and keep their brand top of mind in their customers. Like all of these social sites the main thing to consider before you start setting up a page for your business is whether you have the time to manage it.

Time is of the Essence

It’s free to setup a FaceBook page for your business so the only cost is your time. But like Twitter, it can’t be something you just broadcast out to and never engage back in the conversation that may be happening on your page. While it might be slightly more professional than Twitter, you still have to try and switch out of stuffy business mode and talk how regular people talk. Be prepared to get feedback from customers on the things you post – good and bad. So it’s important to think about whether you have 10-20 minutes per week (initially) to post and respond.

Top of Mind for Your Brand

FaceBook is a great way to keep your business in the minds of potential customers. Whenever you post something to your FaceBook page, all the people that follow you get that update in their FaceBook live feed – the stream of information you see when you first log in to FaceBook.

Also, anytime someone “Likes” or comments on your FaceBook page, everyone who follows that person also sees your business’ name. It’s a great way to remind people about what you do, so long as you do it with tact and don’t abuse it. People can always un-like you or block your updates if they think you’re posting too much.

Feedback & Research

Facebook can also be used as a quick way to get feedback on a new idea or direction for your business. Perhaps you’re a retail store and considering stocking a new product that you haven’t had previously – ask the people on your FaceBook page for feedback and see what kind of response you get. Or maybe you’re thinking about changing the hours your store is open – ask and see what people think. Again, the key is to do it tactfully and not come off like you’re just using people like a marketing research firm might do it through telemarketing. For a small business that can’t afford to spend a ton of time and money on market research, this can be an invaluable tool for determining your company’s direction.

Next Steps

So that’s a few of the things to consider when setting up a FaceBook page. Tomorrow we’ll cover the basic steps to setting up your FaceBook page for your business. Be sure to like our FaceBook page to be notified of our new posts.

MarketingWriting

Social Media Week

Last week we focused on blogging: the hows, whys and tools of blogging for your business. This week we’re focusing on social media. We’ll be talking primarily about Twitter and Facebook – though the ideas would translate to other similar services.

Should Our Business Have a Twitter Account?

While every social media guru out there will tell you that you should’ve been on Twitter a year ago and if you’re not you’re leaving money on the table – we believe it’s important to consider whether it’s really appropriate for your business to be on Twitter. It’s certainly not going to be worthwhile for every business, so let’s take a look at a few of the things to consider before signing up for a Twitter account.

Do You Have Anything to Say?

Twitter is 140 character tweets from your brain. Or your company’s brain. While it’s not like a website or blog where once you start you’re obligated to keep fresh as content, you still want to make sure you have something of value to add to the community.

Do You Have Time to Have a Conversation?

Twitter isn’t one way communication in the same way that a radio ad, flyer mail out or newspaper advert. You can post a tweet about a special on widgets that you’re offering, and someone could reply asking for your hours that your widget shop is open. If you’re not listening and paying attention to the conversation, potential customers could get turned off by your lack of response.

Are You Prepared for Negative Feedback?

What if someone replies and says that the price of your widgets are still too expensive? Or maybe they say that they last time they were in your store, a sales person was rude to them. What is your policy on customer issues and how might you handle that level of direct feedback?

Still Interested In Signing Up for Twitter?

We’ve focused a bit on the negative, reasons why you might not want to have a Twitter account for your business. For tomorrow’s post we’ll be talking about the benefits of having a Twitter account as well as some of the tools to manage your company’s Twitter account. Be sure to send us an email if you’ve got questions about Twitter you’d like answered!

MarketingWriting

Why Should You Have a Blog?

So in our post yesterday, we outlined the reasons why we’re going to be blogging (almost) everyday for the month of April. For today’s post, we’re going to cover a few reasons why your business might want a blog. A lot of the reasons for you to have a blog will be similar to the reasons we discussed for ourselves, but we’ll cover a few other reasons that you might want to blog for your business.

Create Content for Your Website

A blog is a great way to create and develop content for your website. There’s only so many pages you can have the go over your products, services and contact info. A blog allows you to talk more about your business in a less marketing-speak way that humans can understand. And you can update it daily if you want and keep putting out new content for people and search engines like Google.

Fresh, new content on a regular basis is also a great way to keep customers coming back. If they know that every Wednesday you’re going to post a new article explaining a different area of your business, they’ll come back to read which helps to keep your business and brand at the top of your customer’s mind.

Think About Your Business in a New Way

If you’re going to write a blog for your business, you’re going to have to think about your business in a different way than you typically do. You’ll have to sort out some of the reasons why you offer the products you offer, why your services set you apart from your competition, how your team works together to help your customers. You’ll need these reasons if you’re going to blog about your business – and you can’t just rely on marketing speak to get you through because your customers (and potential customers) won’t stick around if you just quote marketing jargon on your blog. They’re coming to your blog to find out more about you and your business and why they should hire/buy from you.

Reach an Audience That You Might Not Otherwise Reach

Perhaps your business is plumbing. If you do a Google search for “Saskatoon Plumbers”, you’ll get a list of plumbers along with a map. Hopefully you’re somewhere on the list. But what if a potential customer isn’t searching for “Saskatoon plumbers”, but is instead searching Google for “How do I clean a blocked drain?” – if you’ve got an article on your blog about how your installers cleaned out a block drain for customers last week, you could be listed somewhere in the search results when you wouldn’t have otherwise even been an option.

In our case, since we’re writing a bunch of articles related to creating, updating and maintaining a website – that gives us a lot of content for Google to search through and present as an option to people searching for someone to help with their website. Who knows, maybe you’re reading this right now because you found us through a Google search and landed on our blog. Get in touch with us and be sure to let us know if you have questions about blogging or updating your website content.

But It’s Hard Work and I Don’t Have Time and I’m So Busy and I Hate to Write!

All true. And so maybe having a blog isn’t a great fit for your business. But before you give up completely, come back tomorrow when we’ll talk about ways to help make blogging for your business a part of what you do, as well as tips to help keep doing it consistently.

Marketing

January Newsletter

We’ve just sent out our January newsletter. In this month’s edition we talk a bit about our past, the death of email and what YasTech has coming up in 2010.

Click here to view the January newsletter.

If you’re not already subscribed, you can do so over on the right hand side of this site. We’d love to hear your feedback on the newsletter and anything else we’re doing. Leave a comment on this blog or send us an email and we’ll respond in a timely fashion.

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