Welcome to the first installment of our fortnightly series: How To Rise Above The Noise Using Local Marketing – this week we focus on smart web design.
It might seem obvious to state that the foundational piece in any local marketing strategy is a website. Of course you need this to participate in competing in the online space. But it’s surprising just how many companies we still come across today who don’t realise the importance of having a website that uses smart web design and optimisation to make it an effective piece of the puzzle.
Way Back When
Local websites have come a long way since this type of website optimisation was standard online marketing practice: “We sell customer cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re buying a custom cigar humidor please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists and contact us at custom cigar humidor. Email customercigarhumidor@CCH.com”
You might smile, but this type of black hat keyword stuffing was considered perfectly acceptable by small business owners and local marketing companies until relatively recently. Of course, Google and the other search engines have always been wise to this, but it’s only now that they’re starting to outsmart the black hatters who have been gaming the system for the past few decades.
Unless you want to get your website banished to the nether regions of the search engines, we CATEGORICALLY advise you to avoid these keyword optimisation techniques.
As a small business, you most probably have a small marketing budget and a lot of competition to overcome if you’re going to rise to the top in local search marketing. You can achieve that top slot, that sacred page no 1 in Google and Bing, but you have to work at it.
But, if you employ smart web design and work in a smart way you’ll achieve your goal and you’ll save money.
Back in ye olden days, pre-Internet, (for the younger readers amongst you, yes, such a time did exist!) small local businesses had a tough time of it. The problem that dogged them all – how to get customers through the door to buy their products?
You had to be dedicated, inventive and work damned hard at it. You sold by phone, by word of mouth, by pushing leaflets through letter boxes and by getting listed on the local Yellow Pages.
All that changed in 1996.
Local businesses could now invest in a web page. Essentially brochures, these were little different than their paper-form leaflet cousins. Only now they were online.
The early internet became another avenue for marketing. Not particularly innovative, but somewhere else you could send potential customers to have a look at your wares or buy your products (primitive e-commerce sites started up in 1998).
N.B. Out of sheer sentimentality, we’ve kept some of our very first e-commerce sites going just to remind us of those times. Check out www.sofas-direct.com and www.leathersofas-direct.co.uk. You’ll see what we mean. Primitive eh?
Now, you’ve peeled yourself off the floor from laughing may we state that it was by testing and tweaking those first websites, that we came to understand the crucial truisms that underpin successful businesses which climb to the top of local search. Some of these truisms have not changed; they’re still as relevant in 2016 as they were in 1996.
Smart Web Design: You’ve got 8 seconds
This should be at the heart of any smart web design strategy, and is vital for business owners to understand. Customers MUST understand what your business is offering within 8 SECONDS of landing on your home page!
Lets just say that again: “8 seconds of landing on your landing page!”
Quick yes. But, longer than that and you’ve potentially lost them.
You need to convey what you do in those 8 seconds in the text, pictures and videos above the fold (that’s the bit of a website you see before you have to scroll down). Put your key messages below this and few people will see them. We’ve tested this time and again. Above the fold gets 100% views; below gets 25%.
75% of people will never scroll down to find out what you’ve hidden at the bottom and you’ll lose the majority of your traffic the minute you make them work their mouse-finger.
As the great Dave Trott of Gold Greenless Trott said: “If you’re a market leader, grow the market, if you’re not differentiate yourself.” Most businesses will have to differentiate themselves and those 8 seconds are critical if you’re to succeed in making that difference (unless, of course, you’re the market leader).
Smart Web Design Is Critical For Success
The design of your website is critical for the success of your business online.
We tested this on our own website until we were perfectly sure of the answer. For our own www.aiminternet.co.uk website we put in a huge amount of research.
When it came to local marketing we knew we were not the market leader, so we had to differentiate ourselves. We wanted to convey innovation, forward thinking and collaborative ways of working. We wanted to show how important it was that we could work with customers to shape their ideas.
So we decided on a video above the fold.
No one in the West Midlands was using this method to emphasise collaborative working. The video portrays a future where offices are virtual and we knew that in a market which is rapidly changing, we had to show we were changing with it. Technology, collaboration, change – they were the messages we wanted to convey. We knew this formula worked because we tried and tested it over the years.
From these years of extensive testing we have been able to distill a smart web design formula that works and which we’ve rolled out to our clients to turn their websites into selling or lead-generation machines.
Not Just Design, But Data Too
Working with data is a key essential factor in smart web design; data is your best friend. Following our extensive web design testing, we now knew that businesses were eager to buy our website design, but we had to sell them the idea that data was king (along with content, of course).
Data and local marketing go hand in glove.
One of our first clients, GriffinandKing.co.uk, was also our guinea pig. Over an 8 year period we worked closely with them, testing and analysing results and measuring their data leads. Armed with all that rich information we then built other client websites around the data we had discovered. These clients then had more leads as a result. It worked. Bingo.
We hope you’ve found this installment useful. We’ll post our next one on the 23rd November 2016 but until then you might like to read our introductory post on local marketing success secrets.
P.S. If you would like to find out if AIM Internet could help your business grow using our expertise in smart web design, digital marketing or social media, call us today on 0870 062 8760 or visit our sell more online page and, for a limited time, see if we can also help you get up to 50% in EU Match Funding to help.