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.
Local websites have come a long way since this type of website optimisation was standard online marketing practice: “We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. To buy a custom cigar humidor please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists…” And, so on. You get the picture.
You may smile, but black hat keyword stuffing was considered acceptable by small business owners and local marketing companies until recently. Search engines have always been wise to it but it’s only now that the likes of Google and Bing are able to really begin outsmarting the black hatters who have been playing the system for so long.
Today, unless you want to get your website banished to the nether regions of the search engines, we CATEGORICALLY advise that you avoid these keyword optimisation techniques.
As a small business, you most probably have a small marketing budget but a lot of competition to overcome if you want to rise to the top in local search marketing. You can achieve that top slot, that special page No.1 in Google and Bing, but it takes work.
Employ smart web design and work in a smart way and you’ll achieve your goal and you’ll save money!
Back in the pre internet world (for the younger readers amongst you, yes, such a time did exist!), small local businesses has a hard time of it. The problem that dogged them all – how to get customers through the door to buy their products?
You had to be inventive, dedicated and work hard at it. Selling took place over the phone, through word of mouth, and by pushing leaflets through letter boxes. And, you absolutely had to get your business listed in the local Yellow Pages.
It all changed in 1996…
Local businesses could now invest in a web page. Essentially brochures, these were little different than their paper-form leaflet cousins. But now these brochures were online.
The early internet became another avenue for marketing. Not particularly innovative, granted, but momentous nonetheless. Here was somewhere else you could send potential customers to have a look or buy your products (primitive e-commerce sites started up in 1998). And businesses loved it!
N.B. Because we’re a little sentimental, 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 which are the bedrocks of successful businesses who climb to the top of local search. Some of these truisms are 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 ‘get’ what your business is offering within 8 SECONDS of landing on your home page!
Repeat: “within 8 seconds of landing on your home 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 the number of people who will see them drops – a lot. This is something we’ve tested time and again – above the fold gets 100% of views, below gets 25%!
Three quarters of people will never work their mouse-finger to scroll down to find out what you’ve hidden at the bottom, resulting in you losing the largest part of your traffic the moment you make them.
In the famous words of Dave Trott of Gold Greenless Trott: “If you’re a market leader, grow the market, if you’re not differentiate yourself.” Unless you ARE the market leader, most likely your business will have to differentiate itself and those 8 seconds are critical if you’re to succeed in making that difference.
Smart Web Design Is Critical For Success
The design of your website is critical for your business’ success online. We tested this on our own website – www.aiminternet.co.uk – and did lots of research until we were totally clear about what worked.
Since we weren’t the market leader, we had to differentiate ourselves. We wanted our website to convey the key passions of our business – innovation, forward thinking and collaborative ways of working – and to show this, we chose to use a video above the fold. No one in the West Midlands was doing this but, as a result of our testing, we knew this formula worked.
Showing a future where offices are virtual, the video we chose fitted with what we wanted to convey and encapsulate about AIM Internet as a company – that is, that we are one which keeps apace with change. In a market which is rapidly changing, we had to show we were changing with it.
The smart web design formula that we’ve been able to distill from our years of extensive testing is also what 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 key to smart web design; data is your best friend. Following our extensive web design testing, we now had a workable website design that businesses were eager to buy. However, we still had to impress upon our clients that data was, and still is, king (along with content, of course).
Data and local marketing are intrinsically linked.
One of our first clients, GriffinandKing.co.uk, engaged with us in lots of testing, you could say they became our willing guinea pig. Over an 8 year period we worked closely with them, testing and analysing results and measuring their data leads. Having such rich information meant we built other client websites around the data we had discovered and guess what, bingo, these clients then had more leads as a result!
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.