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Topic: content management

Are you confusing your visitors?

I was recently asked to do a review for a new launch and in a matter of 2-3 minutes I was able to send them back information that was very valuable.  Why?  Because they were too close to the project and were not able to think like a new, curious visitor.

Here are 10 questions you need to answer as you review your website, assuming you are selling something. 

  1. Is it clear what you are selling, including the benefit someone will get?
  2. Is it easy to contact you?
  3. Are you tricking people into the purchase and finding most of your sales are abandoned part way through?
  4. Is there something free to help you start the relationship?  A white paper or email course?
  5. Are you transparent?  Can people read your blog, find you on twitter and facebook?
  6. Is pricing clear?
  7. Is payment clear if you are paying them an affiliate fee?
  8. Do you have a good FAQ? 
  9. Do you have great white space and is it easy to find things?
  10. Do you have video tutorals?

Even when you think you have all these bases covered, be sure to ask someone that does not know what you are doing to review the site and make a list of questions that they would want answered.  Ideally someone that is in the demographic of your customer.

And even after you are doing well, consider adding a survey to the site occasionally and ask people what they would like to see and if there was anything they had trouble finding.

Blog as CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System.  It is what us tech oriented people say when we are talking about software that allows non-tech people to manage their website effectively.

WordPress is the industry standard software for running a blog.  It is also a CMS.

Blogs are not different from websites.  They are just a certain publishing philosophy.  Many CMS’s have built blogs into their cms.  And now, I would argue that WordPress has become a top cms itself.

I released a new site last week, Marketing Mastery Advisory Board.  It uses wordpress and looks less like a blog than many other sites.  There are a lot of great themes out there that you only have to customize.

Even when I talk now, I tell peoople not to call them blogs.  It has a certain connotation that it is less serious (to the unblogeducated).

If you are setting up a website for anything, you have to look at what you want to accomplish.  WordPress is not the easiest, but it is not bad to use for non-tech.  And it gets great search engine results if configured properly and you know how to write with search engines in mind.

The reasons I would not use WordPress is to create an online community or as an ecommerce site where I was going to have a lot of products.  Otherwise, it is an excellent, cheap cms for you that gets great results.

The Anatomy of your Web Presence – Part 1: The Brain

The Anatomy of your Web Presence

Part 1: The Brain

Welcome to the 13 part series:  The Anatomy of your Web Presence.  We will be looking at different issues around web development, promotion, management, writing and buzz marketing.  This series is not just about your website.  It is about having a life on the web.  Developing your web presence is more than a website.  It is interacting with people, setting strategic goals, working, playing and growing.

Part 1 is the brain.  We start with the brain because it is the most important aspect of having a successful web presence.  The rest of the body is just a bunch of tools that should be aligned with accomplishing the goals set by the brain.  This web view mirrors our real brain.  Our brain is the control center for the central nervous system.  Instead of pumping blood, our web presence will be pumping information.  Information is the life source of who you are on the web.

The brain is where you will think about your goals and desired outcomes.  Your brain will have to analyze the time you spend on the web and assess the value that is gained.

The questions and activities in this document are some of the same kinds of thing that a high-priced web analyst would ask when reviewing your website.  It is also the kind of thing a mentor or coach will help you explore to improve your business.

The reason these people are successful at helping you is that they are not blinded by the big picture and they focus in on specialized questions and topics that they know can have a big impact.  This does not mean they are easy.  What it does mean is you can develop a list of activities to improve your web presence and work towards your goals.

What stops most people from doing this?  Unfortunately, the brain is often overlooked by people when developing a web presence. Here are some of the attitudes and behaviors people adopt because they do not take the time to think about their goals.

I never get results from the web

This common statement can be heard from many business owners who spent too much money or time setting up a basic website and then waited for people to start coming to them.  When their giddy excitement died they assumed it is the fault of the Internet, and could not actually be their unrealistic expectations and limited web presence.

If this describes you, don’t despair.  Many website owners set them up and forget about them when the phone does not start ringing off the hook.  You need to reassess your goals and set realistic expectations.  Then you need to begin using your brain to build up your web presence bit by bit.

I can write a script….

Some people give up quickly, and others are on a never ending quest for short cuts.  Sometimes these short cuts can pay off and generate revenue but there are a variety of reasons they are a bad idea.

If you are practicing techniques to build lots of information that is pulled from other resources, you are hoping to capitalize on other people’s brains but not using your own.  Google and the other search engines are always combating these kinds of activities.  Even if you find a trick that works, it is only a matter of time before it gets shut down.  Then you are off on a new quest to find a new trick to make money.

If you are writing scipts to pull in data, you know that your techniques can change any day.  Develop a great online presence that does not use these black hat techniques and begin to phase out the old short cuts while building up a legitimate audience.

Voyeur Tendencies

A voyeur is a brain that reads other people’s writing or watches their video but rarely contributes.  This is also sometimes called a lurker in chat rooms, message boards and such.  If your goal is to help people get to know you are find your website, you cannot stay invisible. 

People yearn to see their message boards and blogs commented on.  One of the biggest complaints I hear from people that run these kinds of sites is that it is difficult to get people to comment.  People visiting, on the other hand, often doubt that what they have to say is valuable enough so they do not say a thing.

Do not be a voyeur.  Make meaningful, interesting comments and it is OK if they are not a masterpiece.  Just don’t do the old “Nice site” comment as it will probably get marked as SPAM.  Instead, say something about the topic that is interesting.

Techno-phobic Brain

You have met people like this before. “I don’t know technology”, they say.

This has less to do with skills and abilities, and more to do with your brain’s ability to get outside its comfort zone and try something new.  I bet many of the people that say they do not have technology have a cell phone and a DVD player.  Those are technical.

The key to getting your brain past its techno-phobia is to be willing to try something new and to understand that technology continues to get simpler.  Writing a website used to be somewhat tricky for non-html people.  Now there are many content management systems out there that make it simpler than using your word processor.  And if your website is still too difficult, you cannot possibly tell me a blog is too hard.  You will in the title and write the paragraphs.  Two fields and hit save.

Not technical is not an excuse.  Just say you are not interested in being successful on the web.  That is far more sincere.

Busy Busy Bee

Some people spend a great deal of time on the web and never get anywhere.  These are the people with huge networks or lots of websites, but they are not making any money.  This happens with someone is focused on activity and not outcome.  Your brain, and a deep breath, are what help you set goals and deadlines so that you can analyze your activities and eliminate those that do not pay off.

Of course, it is not always about the money but at some point there has to be a reward for your effort, unless is it strictly recreational.

Put your brain in charge

So now let’s agree on a few things.  The brain is in charge.  The brain does not do things for the sake of doing them.  It is goal driven and seeks to create good, healthy habits that will enhance the health and well-being of your entire web presence, and it will work to eliminate those things that damage the web presence or take away valuable time and energy.

The brain must set goals, collect and disseminate data and change activities and objectives when necessary.  Without being emotionally attached to your current products, websites and activities, I’d like you to turn on your web presence brain and focus on setting goals and objectives with the following website goal worksheet.


Overall Web Presence Mission:  

Instructions:  A good web presence strategy keeps the mission in mind but understands that some people will move faster than others.  For this reason, a tiered set of goals must be created.  We look for a three by three set of goals for optimum results. Tier 1:  These outcomes are usually the purchase of your premium items or services.

#1

#2

#3


Tier 2: These outcomes are mid-range purchases.  Books, eBooks, sign up for a webinar, etc. #1

#2

#3


Tier 3: Free outcomes that can later lead to higher tiered outcomes.  Sign up for newsletter, download presentation, etc. #1

#2

#3


Now do a complete review of your core website or blog.  You should have one central location as your primary brand and focused resource for accomplishing your goals.  For example, http://www.buzzoodle.com/ was simplified to only have items that can be purchased or signed up for on it.  One week after the simplification, our target pages went from 3% of the hits to 22% of the hits.  We used our brain to focus on the goals and get rid of the fluff. Does this mean we eliminated content?  No.  Content is too valuable to be slashed and burned when you are making changes.  We simply stopped internally linking to the old pages that were making the site seem busy and we produce most of our new content on our blogs and other websites, such as http://blog.buzzoodle.com/ and http://marketing.buzzoodle.com/.  Those sites act as engines to draw in readers and the interested visitors end up on the website that is focused on the goals.

The web has the ability to help people anywhere find you and follow your lead to your goals.  Use the brain to think link someone else that has stumbled upon your website or blog.  Ask these questions for every page you create:

  • Is the subject of the page clear?
  • Who is the company or person behind the site?
  • Is the next step clear if I am interested in the subject?
  • Do you ask for the sale?
  • Does this resource provide value to the reader?

Every single page of your website or blog could be the first page someone starts on, if they arrived via a referral link or search engine.  Do you build every page with a goal in mind?

Next, ask yourself if the next step is compelling.  The figures vary depending on what study you look at, but it is well documented that people spend a few seconds at the most on a webpage.  Do you have headlines or something else compelling enough to stop them in their tracks and get them to pay attention?

The brain is there to think and plan.  Go back through your goals and look at how easy it is to achieve these goals from your main web resource.   Can you remove things that are distractions to your goals?  Can you make it easy to spot your main objectives in one to two seconds?  Are you giving people a reason to stay or junking up the property with advertisements and links?

Your success depends on your ability to use the web presence brain to make decisions on the kind of materials you put on the web, the clarity of the

This concludes Anatomy of Your Web Presence:  Part 1 – The Brain.

You may view all thirteen parts of Anatomy of your Web Presence at http://blog.buzzoodle.com/index.php/2007/07/16/do-you-have-a-living-breathing-web-presence/ once they are complete.

Next:  Anatomy of your Web Presence: Part 2 – The Eyes

But My Clients Use DOS…

KeyboardAre you in an industry where your target market is not tech savvy?

If so, this blog post is important for your future success.  Many companies know that a small percentage of their potential clients are going out to the web and purchasing.  You may decide to put up a basic webpage, which of course does nothing, and leave it at that.

Here I am going to highlight three situations where people have thought that they did not need a web presence and why developing one is important.

Excuse #1:  Our industry is In-Home Health Care.  Very few of our clients use the Internet.

Some home health care companies I have met know just how wrong this thinking is already.  The decision maker for the person getting in home services is usually a son or daughter.  The decision is difficult and they are usually going to spend considerable time researching what company they can afford and can provide the highest level of care for their parent.

Lesson:  Just because your end user is not tech savvy does not mean the decision maker isn’t.


Excuse #2: My clients are in the dark ages.  According to research, they still run on DOS.  

I just spoke to a group of vendors that sell to country clubs and this is one of the concerns they have.  In this case, what does runs on DOS mean?

All this means is that the main member database and maybe the accounting is an older system that runs on DOS (a very old Microsoft operating system.)  This does not mean that when they buy a new computer for the club, they make a special request to get DOS.  Many companies still run their back end databases on older systems because they work and because they cannot justify upgrading just because there is a new operating system. 

So to say this means that they do not surf the Internet or do research on your products and services before they buy is a fallacy. 

Even if the country club does not have modern computers, consider that the board members are people that have some expendable income and probably have a very nice machine at home.

Lesson:  Even if the company does not seem tech savvy, do not assume that the people in the organization cannot research you.


Excuse #3:  Our Industry Does Not Have Internet Access  

About six years ago I started working with a big publisher of Automotive Aftermarket magazines.  When we started, they wanted to do some web stuff but it was not a high priority because they knew many of the small automotive shops did not have internet access in them.

Some of their magazines put up content management systems and started producing great online magazines, and others just posted static html pages that were hard to find and navigate.

Six years later, they tell me nearly all their clients have Internet access and it is obvious that the group that invested in the web early has a huge advantage over those that did not make the investment.  They are turning a profit on the web and are able to offer all kinds of new products and advertising opportunities that the other group of magazines can only dream about.

Why doesn’t the other group catch up?  The web takes time and effort, and now it is a daunting task and some of them keep putting it off because they do not have the resources now to catch up. (The excuse has changed)

In this case, it is good to think of a website like a rental property you just bought.  You can try to flip it and you may get lucky, but more realistically you invest in it, keep it fixed up and maybe make improvements, promote it and hope you can attract tenants that will stay, and you may turn a modest profit on it each month, but you are also building equity for the future.

Lesson:  Don’t wait until last call.  Even if you think your industry is not going to see your online effort in wide numbers soon, build for the long haul and in time you will be very happy you did.

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The Dip – Seth Godin

The DipI am looking forward to reading the book, The Dip, by Seth Godin.  Guy Kawasaki did a recent interview with Seth on his blog.

This topic interests me so much, because once upon a time we were a technology company building another content management system.  We still have it, and it is fine, but we knew the market was moving too fast and we were never going to own the market.  We also found over the years that the pain people felt was not their inability to find tools to manage websites, it was the difficulty of becoming a popular and effective website.  No matter how many scripts you write, being effective takes a lot of man hours and human effort.

So for several years now we have been moving in fits and starts from CMS / Technology to Buzzoodle:  Word of Mouth, Buzz and Internet marketing.

What Seth says in the interview is very true.  It is hard to transform and give something up, so you can pursue something bigger, more unique and more remarkable for your clients.  After a lot of pain we are just on the upswing out of the dip, and I am looking forward to the next 12 months.

Levels of Conversion

I have a long history in Internet marketing before Buzzoodle.  We started out with simple eNewsletters and grew a big content management system for ePublishing.  The right client found our tools very effective.

The wrong clients found us overpriced or too complex.

I fully understand the value of focus in a business.  However, I think it is worth thinking about the various levels of conversion that can take place, and how all of these help you in the long run.

Conversion is getting people to take action.  On the most basic of levels, you subscribing to my RSS feed would be a conversion.  You have let me create a long term relationship with you (that you can delete any time).  And it is free.

Then, something I was lacking until just recently, is the easy conversion.  Purchasing my book, Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing, is an easy, low risk conversion that gives me the chance to help you and make a couple of dollars.  This is wonderful because when someone calls me and wants to hire me, but has no budget, I can now suggest the book.

Next is the moderate conversion.  For us, this was the addition of the coaching program where we help people get some of their staff up to speed on creating buzz and we help them stay motivated and results oriented.

Then I do speaking, which is getting paid to go out and create some buzz.  I would say this is also a moderate conversion for companies and organizations that do not want to commit to an ongoing engagement but want a shot in the arm to create some buzz and get staff to think about ways to increase the organizational visibility.

Next is the custom Buzz Marketing.  This is the most complex sale that involves a significant investment of time and money by a client.  We only want 10 of these a year because having too many dilutes our effectiveness.

Why am I telling you this?

There is an important Buzz Marketing point here.  None of these things are separate products.  They are part of our unique message and brand, and are just different ways to create relationships and value for organizations with different needs.  And they all feed off of one another.

Can you create a worksheet that you could give prospects and they will appreciate, because it is valuable and does not just sell you?  (Easy Conversion)

Can you go out and speak about your industry? How do people know if you can?

Even if you have a complex sale, can you develop something that is a simple sale for people that are not ready for the complex sale yet?  An online course?  A book or DVD?

If you are frequently turning away people that are interested in your products or services because they are not the right fit, make something ancillary that is of value to them and will get them to remember you and buzz about you.

Word of Mouth and Buzz Marketing

In case you are wondering what Buzzoodle does:

Organizations that want to increase sales and visibility by creating buzz and word of mouth use Buzzoodle Buzz marketing. Buzzoodle helps them energize and focus their advocates while measuring and improving upon the buzz created.

Buzzoodle Philosophy: Create sustainable, steady new buzz with an organization’s existing advocates, including employees and customers. This leads to high visibility and more customers without directly marketing to them.

Buzzoodle specializes is small business and mid-sized business success via a low cost, high impact strategy of creating intentional buzz. Buzzoodle is a catalyst to help organizations achieve better results through strategic planning and services.

What does Buzzoodle offer?

Corporate-wide Evangelism is the surest way to help the company and the individuals succeed. Buzzoodle can show you how: www.Buzzoodle.com

Buzz and Busy – Now Hiring

Buzz is good. It makes you grow. Sometimes buzz makes you grow fast.

I am looking for at least one good software engineer. Must be in the greater Akron area.

Ideal candidate will enjoy how technology can enable content management and marketing.

Send resume to jobs@outstanda.com

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