pcaWeb https://pcaweb.io Website Design & Development Tue, 22 May 2018 15:14:28 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 How To Use Email To Market Your Business And Increase Sales https://pcaweb.io/how-to-use-email-to-market-your-business-and-increase-sales/ Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:27:05 +0000 http://msite1.wpengine.com/?p=1353 If your business has a website, it needs to earn its keep. If it sells your products, it should provide visitors with every piece of information they need in order for them to make a purchase. If it promotes your service or charitable organisation, it should convert casual visitors into leads by encouraging them to pick […]

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If your business has a website, it needs to earn its keep.

If it sells your products, it should provide visitors with every piece of information they need in order for them to make a purchase. If it promotes your service or charitable organisation, it should convert casual visitors into leads by encouraging them to pick up the phone or email you for more information.

Even if it’s just a brochure website, it should be generating interest in your product or service. If it’s not doing this, it’s not providing a return on your investment.

There’s a huge difference between having visitors passively navigate the content of your website before disappearing (and probably not coming back) and being able to actively reach out and address them on a personal level.

But how can you engage with casual visitors and turn them into potential leads?

Build an email list

Despite consistent rumours to the contrary, email is not dead and shows no sign of expiring anytime soon. It continues to be the highest converting marketing channel and shows absolutely no sign of being knocked off the top spot. Why? Because it gives you direct access to people who are looking forward to hearing from you for very little cost.

Forget social media – it doesn’t even come close. It’s too transient and what’s more, if you don’t own it, you don’t control it.

If you’re not using your website as a tool to build an email subscriber list by making it insanely easy for visitors to join, you’re literally leaving money on the table.

When’s the best time to start building an email list? Well, how about 2 years ago! Luckily, the second best time to start is now.

In this article we’ll look at reasons why people rarely commit to buy on the first visit and a great solution for integrating email lists with your website.

Why visitors don’t buy

The buying process is seldom straightforward as:

  • visitor goes to website
  • visitor adds product to basket
  • visitor checks out

It just doesn’t happen. Why? You sell a quality product or service; it’s worth the price you’re charging and you have existing customers that prove people actually want to buy.

The hard truth is that even determined buyers may visit your site a number of times before they decide they’re ready to buy. And, of course, those who are less determined (the majority) will be lost along the way.

So what are the barriers which stop visitors from becoming buyers?

They don’t understand how your product or service benefits them

A lack of understanding is the biggest issue. Most website content focuses on features at the expense of helping the customer understand how the product or service will make their lives better. A huge list of features is very different from explaining the tangible benefits your customer will gain by purchasing.

For example, if you sell socks, you could list dimensions, type of material, colour, etc. But so what? Customers would much rather know what benefits those features provide. The socks keep feet cool and moisture-free, for example.

Yes, arguably the feature enables the benefit, but to the customer, features are secondary. Benefits are what they relate to.

Was the tagline for the original and iconic Apple iPod “1GB of hard disk storage”? No. They went with “1,000 songs in your pocket.” See what I mean?

They don’t trust you or your product / service

Big brands like Marks & Spencer have spent years and invested millions in building a brand that you ‘know, like and trust’.

By focusing on benefits, you may have convinced a potential customer of the value of your product/service but, unless you’ve built a brand, they won’t know much about you or consider you a trusted source. One way to eliminate this barrier is to establish your credentials as an authority in your niche. But how?

One of the most effective ways to build trust quickly is through teaching. By literally giving away quality information that your potential customer cares about for free, you establish yourself as a credible source rather than just another product salesman.

Successful chefs post ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube precisely because they know that teaching builds trust and credibility, which makes it infinitely easier to sell a product.

They forget you

Visitors to your website may consume some of your content but, if they’re not ready to buy they’ll leave and may never come back. There are many possible reasons for this but the most common are:

  • they were just doing research
  • they were put off by unexpected charges (such as shipping)
  • they forgot

That last one is frustrating. With a standard sales process, if a visitor is not yet ready to buy you have no means of contact to remind them to come back. That’s not helpful for making a sale.

Lowering the bar with incentivised email opt-ins

Expecting visitors to come to your website and make a purchase there and then is not realistic. The barrier may be just too high. So, rather than risk losing the sale altogether, why not offer an alternative which makes the barrier much lower?

Email opt-in forms allow you to take advantage of a customer’s interest by offering them something of value (for example, a downloadable eBook or series of emails) which teaches them about your product or service and positions you as an expert in your niche, in exchange for their email address.

Once you have a visitor’s email address you can send this valuable information whilst occasionally reminding them of your product. It’s not too ‘salesy’, keeps potential customers engaged and can make the all-important difference between being forgotten and making the sale.

It may take a few interactions for a potential customer to decide they’re ready to purchase, but at least you have that opportunity.

Stop losing sales

Drip - The best marketing automation platform, hands downThere are many email marketing (because that’s what we’re talking about) solutions on the market today. Each one has a raft of features (there’s that word again) which can be difficult to navigate.

I’m more than happy to recommend Drip as an easy-to-use but very powerful solution. With Drip you can send personalised email newsletters (with attachments, if required), automated ‘welcome’ emails when someone joins your list, scheduled email sequences (e.g. 5 emails, over the course of 7 days) and much more. Managing your subscriber list is easy. There’s no software to download, just login and use it from any web browser.

Drip makes it easy to build trust, educate your potential customers, and maintain a long-term conversation with them so they won’t forget about you.

Interested? Find out how to get started with Drip here or, if you’d like help to get all this setup and integrated with your website, click here to contact us today. We get great results and are happy to help.

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Google Switching To Mobile-First Search Index https://pcaweb.io/google-switching-to-mobile-first-search-index/ Tue, 18 Oct 2016 16:19:36 +0000 http://msite1.wpengine.com/?p=1433 Some important news from Google this week which affects businesses/organisations running websites which are not optimised for viewing on a mobile device. Google has announced they will be switching from a desktop-focused search index to a mobile-first index. The report (available here) appeared in The Guardian on 14th October 2016. Why is this important? It’s […]

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Some important news from Google this week which affects businesses/organisations running websites which are not optimised for viewing on a mobile device.

Google has announced they will be switching from a desktop-focused search index to a mobile-first index. The report (available here) appeared in The Guardian on 14th October 2016.

Why is this important?

It’s rather big news, because, until now, Google has always favoured the desktop version of sites in their search results.

This move puts mobile ‘front and centre’ and it’s not entirely unexpected. Mobile search is growing so fast that this change is inevitable.

What does this mean for website owners?

In a nutshell, it means that websites which are not mobile-optimised will lose traction in search results.

Google is giving website owners the strongest possible signal that content must be mobile-optimised if it is to continue to do well in search results.

This change is not yet in effect but is widely expected to be announced within the next 2–3 months.

Useful Resources

If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile-optimised, Google has a handy tool to help you check right here.

My article “Does Your Website Fail Google’s New Mobile Friendly Test?” might be worth a read too.

If you would like to discuss options for future-proofing your site by optimising for mobile devices, please do let me know.

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The Welcome Email Sequence – A Brief Guide https://pcaweb.io/the-welcome-email-sequence-a-brief-guide/ Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:47:54 +0000 http://msite1.wpengine.com/?p=1421 When a new person joins your mailing list, a ‘welcome email sequence‘ provides a great opportunity to introduce yourself, your business and its products/services in a controlled manner. The email sequence is fully automated and delivered on a pre-defined schedule. Once created, it’ll work to promote your business 24/7 without requiring manual input (except, of course, to tweak […]

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When a new person joins your mailing list, a ‘welcome email sequence‘ provides a great opportunity to introduce yourself, your business and its products/services in a controlled manner.

The email sequence is fully automated and delivered on a pre-defined schedule. Once created, it’ll work to promote your business 24/7 without requiring manual input (except, of course, to tweak the content occasionally).

Your website probably includes multiple entry points to your mailing list. These might include:

  • contact form
  • newsletter opt-in form
  • product purchase/checkout form

Why use email?

Email is still by far the best performing marketing channel. The recipient’s inbox is a great place to promote your business. It’s your opportunity to talk directly to the person (as if you’d met face-to-face for the first time).

Done correctly, the welcome sequence is personal and engaging. It also ensures the new subscriber understands exactly what you’re offering without being too ‘salesy’. This builds trust which is essential if the subscriber is to become a paying customer.

What makes an effective welcome email?

The welcome email sequence should be generic and flexible enough to address the needs, interests and frequently asked questions that new subscribers may have regardless of how/where they joined the mailing list. Remember to make the recipient the primary focus in your copy rather than yourself or your business. Make it about them or they won’t read it!

Emails should be brief with a maximum of 200-300 words per email.

The Ideal Welcome Sequence

Here is an example of a welcome sequence of emails sent over a 5 day period. This is intended as a framework but can, of course, be tweaked as necessary.

  • Email #1: Introduction (sent immediately)
  • Email #2: Educational (day 2)
  • Email #3: Social connection (day 3)
  • Email #4: Products/services (day 4)
  • Email #5: Invite questions (day 5)

1. Introduction

This is the first e-mail in this series. Use this opportunity to tell your customer more about you, your business and your ethos/approach. Be personable and perhaps provide a look ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the business.

2. Educational

Guide the customer to the most appropriate and useful educational resources available on your website (e.g. blog posts, videos, etc.). Include links as appropriate.

The aim here is to spoon-feed the best content for a new subscriber whilst getting them to review the content already available on the website.

3. Social Connection

Help your customers discover where else they can connect and engage with you via the various social profiles on which you are active (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.).

Provide all relevant links. Invite them to connect and send a response (via the relevant social channel) to acknowledge them when they do.

4. Products/Services

Until now, the emails have been deliberately ‘non-salesy’.

This e-mail, however, tells your customers about your products & services, why they’re special, why other customers love them, etc. You could include some product/service recommendations and testimonials from other happy customers.

Provide all links to resources as appropriate.

5. Invite questions

In this email you could include examples of the most frequently asked questions (and the appropriate answers).

Also, most importantly, invite the person to ‘hit reply’ and ask any questions that they may still have.

This is a great opportunity to open a direct channel, invite dialogue and remove any unforeseen barriers that might prevent a future purchase.

Next steps

Have a think about your email sequence and begin drafting the content for it. You probably have enough material to draw on already but it may need a little structuring. Feel free to use the template above 🙂

Drip - The best marketing automation platform, hands downIf you’d like help setting up your perfect welcome email sequence, just send me an email and I’ll be happy to advise.

And if you’re looking for a great service provider to manage your email sequences, we’re more than happy to recommend Drip.

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Make More Money From Your eCommerce Store – Introducing ShopMonster https://pcaweb.io/introducing-shopmonster/ Wed, 03 Aug 2016 22:28:14 +0000 http://msite1.wpengine.com/?p=1394 If you have an eCommerce website built with WordPress and WooCommerce our new service can help you make more money. Read on to find out more about ShopMonster. Running an eCommerce store is hard work Whether you’ve just launched your brand new website or you’ve had one one for a while, you’ll know that running […]

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If you have an eCommerce website built with WordPress and WooCommerce our new service can help you make more money. Read on to find out more about ShopMonster.

Running an eCommerce store is hard work

Whether you’ve just launched your brand new website or you’ve had one one for a while, you’ll know that running an eCommerce store is demanding.

To minimise security risks and performance issues, there’s a stream of never-ending maintenance, hosting and update tasks to keep pace with.

And once you’ve done that, there’s this little list too…

  • content updates
  • adding / editing products
  • image optimisation / compression
  • general performance and page load speeds
  • search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
  • link-building
  • content marketing
  • email marketing
  • abandoned cart emails
  • welcome emails
  • follow-up emails
  • email deliverability issues
  • social media integrations
  • discount codes & promotional activity
  • paid advertising campaigns

If you’re betting on the “build it and they will come” myth, you’re going to be disappointed. To have any chance of actually growing revenue, you have to find the time to cover off some or all of the above.

It’s hard work.

Why we created ShopMonster

Once your brand new eCommerce website is finished and launched, the agency or developer who built it may not be that keen to support, maintain and develop it post-launch. Typically this is because they don’t have the expertise in-house to be able to provide that level of service.

As the business owner, you may not be willing or able to take on those tasks yourself. Hiring or training staff in-house is unlikely to be a cost-effective solution.

That’s where we come in.

Imagine you could hire a dedicated team to take care of all this for you and at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time employee? Now you can.

ShopMonster offers a comprehensive, done-for-you WooCommerce store development service which you can plug straight in to your business. We provide on-going support for website owners after the website has been built and is live.

Our primary goal is to increase traffic to your website and improve conversion rates.

We do this by applying our knowledge and experience combined with best-of-breed technology solutions and premium customer service.

In short, we do the hard work for you.

What makes ShopMonster different to other website support companies?

While most companies operating in the website support space focus on providing maintenance services and answering customer support requests, ShopMonster is a little different.

Yes, we’ll take care of maintenance, security, backups and the like so you never have to worry about it. We absolutely recognise the importance of having have those bases fully covered, but that’s just a means to an end.

Here are the things that really make a difference:

  • Get a good hosting provider and stop worrying
  • Use on-site (SEO) to get a better listing and get more visitors
  • Convert more visitors to buyers (CRO)
  • Invest in content marketing to build an asset and strengthen visitor rates
  • Leverage automation to drive additional revenue with minimal extra effort

That’s the key to driving more sales through the checkout, generating more revenue and making more money.

Who’s on the team at ShopMonster?

ShopMonster is myself, Paul Oaten and co-founder Dave Dean.

Dave is that ‘o so rare’ combination of trained designer and web developer. These skills were further honed through his years working in the marketing department of a national drinks manufacturer. He is also the author of a popular and acclaimed WordPress development framework.

Our combined skill-set is the result of years of developing with WordPress and WooCommerce and providing services to clients running online businesses.

We’re UK-based but work with clients from all over the World. We’re lean and mean and on a mission to help online store owners like yourself, make more money.

Will ShopMonster look after any eCommerce store?

In short, no.

WordPress powers 25% of websites on the Internet and the developer community continues to grow. The company behind WordPress (Automattic) has recently acquired WooCommerce and is busy positioning it at the very forefront of its business.

We focus solely on WordPress and WooCommerce because that’s our where our expertise lies. We won’t dilute our level of service by trying to cover other software platforms or solutions.

ShopMonster is proud to be WordPress to the core!

Where to find out more

If you’re an existing pcaWeb client with an eCommerce store, we’ll be contacting you soon to discuss the transition to ShopMonster.

In the meantime, why not check out the ShopMonster website and signup for the free email course – it’s a great way to learn more about the services we provide.

If you’re not an existing client and are interested in our service you can apply to join ShopMonster here.

Just filling out that form entitles you to our free, no obligation website audit. It’s yours to keep and take action on whether or not we end up working together. So absolutely nothing to lose!

We carefully manage our availability by limiting the number of clients we work with at any given time. Doing this means we can continue to provide a high level of customer focus and a more personalised service.

The best way to see if we’re a good fit, and to check availability would be to apply to ShopMonster today »

And what’s with that cute monster?

Kaiju The ShopMonster
Kaiju The ShopMonster

Kaiju is our beloved friendly monster. He’s here to nurture your WooCommerce store and help it grow.

Being a monster, he’s not afraid to trample the competition on your behalf. Sometimes he just can’t help it!

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3 Key Reasons You Should Switch to ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ On Your Website https://pcaweb.io/https-everywhere-lets-encrypt/ Tue, 09 Feb 2016 23:19:11 +0000 http://msite1.wpengine.com/?p=1244 Google wants HTTPS everywhere and has decided that website owners who make the change and encrypt communications to all pages – regardless of whether or not their site collects sensitive information from its visitors – will be favoured in the Google search index over those sites who continue to serve their pages over non-encrypted connections […]

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Google wants HTTPS everywhere and has decided that website owners who make the change and encrypt communications to all pages – regardless of whether or not their site collects sensitive information from its visitors – will be favoured in the Google search index over those sites who continue to serve their pages over non-encrypted connections (HTTP).

Security & privacy issues always in the news

Online security and privacy issues appear with alarming regularity in today’s top news stories. Little wonder then that such concerns are having an ever greater impact on our behaviour as consumers of technology.

Increasingly, the choices we make – the websites we visit, the information we are comfortable in providing and the products we buy – are now, more than ever before, influenced by an awareness of security and privacy.

In this article, I want to look at the concept of ‘HTTPS everywhere’ and what it means for the business website owner and reasons for adopting it even if the website does not necessarily need to conduct secure exchanges of information with its users.

But first a short primer on some of the frequently used terminology.

HTTP vs HTTPS – what’s the difference?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the means by which web-based content is delivered across the Internet to a users browser software. It’s been with us since the very early days and consequently has no built-in security.

Using encryption, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is technology that can protect information ‘in transit’ across the Internet, effectively meaning that it cannot be intercepted or eavesdropped.

HTTP + SSL = HTTPS

The combination of HTTP and SSL protocols produces ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure’ or HTTPS for short. This protocol effectively encrypts information sent between the web-server and the users browser and is used extensively (but not exclusively) in online banking, eCommerce and whenever exchanges of sensitive information need to take place securely over the public Internet.

SSL Labs is web-based tool that assesses and reports on the implementation of HTTPS/SSL on any given website. You can view the report for pcaWeb.io here (it gets an ‘A’ rating!) or why not run it on your favourite banking website just for fun 🙂

How to know if a website uses HTTPS

There are two visible signs that HTTPS is present on a website:-

  • a URL in the browser’s address bar that begins with https://
  • a green ‘lock’ icon in the browser’s address bar

https shows the green padlock in the address bar of the browser

We all use HTTPS every day when we browse common websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and online stores. These major brands all recognise the importance of making their users feel safe, secure and that their privacy is important.

Not only does HTTPS prevent those with malicious intent from intercepting transactions as innocent as search engine queries or as important as credit card information, but the all-important ‘green padlock’ is fast becoming the trust icon desired by website owners regardless of whether the site actually requires it.

Why should you switch your site to HTTPS?

Here are the 3 compelling reasons for switching to HTTPS everywhere on your website and staying one step ahead of the competition.

1. Because Google Says So

The drive for encouraging website owners to adopt the ‘green padlock’ (HTTPS) on all their website pages, whether or not they deal with sensitive data, is being spearheaded by Google.

Put simply, Google wants ‘HTTPS everywhere’:

“we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web”
(Source: HTTPS as a ranking signal – Google Webmaster Central Blog 6/8/14)

The drive towards secure online communication

In a previous article which discussed the role of Google in the drive towards a mobile-friendly Web, I wrote:

“when Google speaks, we’d all better listen”

Well now they’re at it again, this time placing themselves at the forefront of the drive towards secure online communication. Anyone who uses Google products such as Search, GMail and Google Drive already benefits from secured access to those applications.

In addition, Facebook and Twitter have also changed their apps to offer the same secure experience to their users and everyone else is set to follow suit.

2. Your website visitors will expect secure communications

Google wants secure communications on the Web to become the norm. So much so that visitors to any website (not just an eCommerce site) will come to expect a secure connection to the entire website (i.e. all pages).

In short, website visitors will expect to see the ‘green padlock’ and HTTPS in the browser address bar instead of just plain old HTTP.

It’s all about trust

There’s an old adage which says that for successful online interaction (i.e. via a website) the visitor should come to know, like and trust you. Everything that appears on the website from the design, the menu to the content should be contributing positively to one or all of those factors.

People do not necessarily understand the underlying technologies associated with encryption and SSL. They just look for the green padlock. It’s a powerful trust signal. If it’s there, they feel safer and, crucially, they conclude that the website owner actually cares about their privacy and security. If it’s there on every page the feeling of trust is strengthened even further.

The web is often an impersonal place. Savvy website owners recognise the importance of building trust with their visitors as one of the cornerstones of running a successful website, regardless of whether or not the site offers products or services.

Displaying the green padlock is a trust signal which demonstrates to the visitor that you are aware of issues surrounding secure communications and care about their privacy.

3. HTTPS boosts your website’s performance in search results

Google is already incentivising the take-up of HTTPS by rewarding website owners who adopt it, with a more favourable search ranking compared to those who do not.

So, the presence of HTTPS is now a ‘ranking signal’ which could boost performance in search relative to your competitors.

In future updates to its algorithm, Google expects the influence of that signal to grow even stronger.

How to get the green padlock (HTTPS)

Traditionally, implementing HTTPS on an entire website has been a somewhat costly and complex undertaking.

Purchasing an ‘SSL Certificate’ from a Certification Authority requires an initial fee followed by annual renewals thereafter and a paper trail of ID submissions and documentary proofs.

Then, having purchased the certificate, it has to be installed on the website hosting server and the various pages secured. This is seldom a straightforward process as all websites are structured in different ways and contain different content.

So, the take up of HTTPS among non-eCommerce website owners has been low, principally because it’s just not worth the effort.

That is, until now…

Making HTTPS implementation easier – the ‘Let’s Encrypt’ project

The Let’s Encrypt project is relatively new. Its stated aim is to “make encrypted connections to World Wide Web servers ubiquitous” by significantly lowering the complexity associated with implementing HTTPS.

It allows the website administrator to obtain a free website ‘certificate’ which validates the website’s domain name without the associated proof of ID paper trail which is normally required.

There are no forms to fill-in, no validation emails to deal with and no paid annual renewals. The certificate and renewals are issued automatically and are trusted by all major web browsing software.

Once installed on the web server, the certificate allows the website administrator to install HTTPS, display the all-important green padlock in the browser address bar and thus provide website users with a secure, encrypted connection to all pages on the site.

Will you make the switch to HTTPS?

I’d love to know what you think about moving to HTTPS. Perhaps you’ve already made the switch or are thinking about taking action?

If you have any questions drop me a line, I’ll be happy to answer them.

pcaWeb is offering current clients the opportunity to install HTTPS for a one-time fee. Please contact me for more details.

References

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Getting Started With Content Marketing for Your Business Website https://pcaweb.io/getting-started-content-marketing-business-website/ Tue, 30 Jun 2015 21:46:50 +0000 http://web.pca-uk.com/?p=1047 Content marketing could now be simply referred to as ‘marketing’. Yet some companies still lag behind in this vital area. The good news is, getting started with content marketing in your business isn’t as difficult as it might seem. American entrepreneur Seth Godin once famously declared, content marketing is all the marketing that’s left! and […]

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Content marketing could now be simply referred to as ‘marketing’. Yet some companies still lag behind in this vital area. The good news is, getting started with content marketing in your business isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

American entrepreneur Seth Godin once famously declared,

content marketing is all the marketing that’s left!

and by 2016 he may have been proved right. Here’s a primer on the subject which might help you take the first steps.

What Is Content Marketing?

In one sentence:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Let’s look at the key qualities which have to be considered in deciding what content to use, and how to deliver it:

1) Value

What value does this content give the reader for free, and is it presented in a medium that allows it to be seen by the intended audience?

2) Relevancy

Does the content need to be fresh and updated regularly, or should you use “evergreen” content that doesn’t date?

3) Consistency

Does the content ‘speak’ to the reader in the familiar company voice?

Getting Started With Content Marketing – Building a Strategy

The average consumer sees thousands of carefully crafted marketing messages every day – so a clear, dedicated content marketing strategy is necessary to cut through noise and make sure your company’s voice gets heard.

Getting serious about content marketing means creating a documented content strategy and mission statement. Content marketing requires a mid to long term strategy, so don’t expect results overnight. Revisit your strategy regularly, and grade each aspect honestly according to its success.

Think Like a Publisher

Look at how to deliver the content your audience wants by mapping content to consumer journey, and knowing which different types of content buyers consume at different stages of their journey.

It usually goes like this: consumers become aware of available products through search engines, online communities or email newsletters. Then, they seek out more content to consider, from articles, podcasts, case studies, and free ebooks, to videos, demos and free trial software. Finally, the consumer finds their preferred product or vendor, makes a decision and purchases a product.

Focus on Content Subscribers

Don’t ‘build your house on rented land’ by trying to spread your message sporadically, competing against the noise of the web – instead publish your content on your own content website (not Facebook!). A company website should contain a blog that regularly covers company news, press releases, and posts about your industry in general. Add your own Twitter feed, free ebooks, demonstration videos, and webcasts to provide a steady supply of useful content to the consumers you know are already interested in your business.

This way you will earn your audience’s attention, instead of trying to buy it. Sharing valuable and useful information for free is the best way to do marketing in the modern era, so aim to become a trustworthy destination for your target audience and a voice of authority on topics that interest them.

Learn to Manage Your Content as an Asset

Balance paid, owned, and earned media – employ a SEO strategist to manage search engine rankings and consider paid distribution of your content online. There are a lot of options, many good free platforms that can be integrated into your online presence, and you should do your research carefully.

Track content marketing ROI – track performance of content, use conversion optimisation and manage your communications according to type and also timing. It’s not hard to get a great return on a relatively small social media budget, so make the most of every pound spent.

How to Use Content Marketing as a Mid to Long Term Strategy

With content marketing, success builds over time, so don’t expect overnight results. Instead, measure your outcomes and track progress to see that small changes add up to big things. Importantly, keep in mind content marketing requires both commitment and persistence to demonstrate your expertise, build authority and trust with your readers, all while enhancing the ranking of your website on Google search results.

What Could You Do With Content Marketing?

Every business can use content marketing as part of their overall strategy to generate more leads, so why not spend a little time and make a list of topics that you can write about on a regular basis. If you need some help with content marketing, just drop us a line via the contact page.

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3 Easy Ways to Establish Credibility on Your Website https://pcaweb.io/3-easy-ways-to-establish-credibility-on-your-website/ Fri, 26 Jun 2015 16:06:23 +0000 http://web.pca-uk.com/?p=1042 When a potential customer uses Google to look for just that product or service that your company provides and your website comes up in the list of search results (SERP’s), just before they click the link which will actually bring them to your site, they have an expectation for what they hope to find when […]

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When a potential customer uses Google to look for just that product or service that your company provides and your website comes up in the list of search results (SERP’s), just before they click the link which will actually bring them to your site, they have an expectation for what they hope to find when they arrive.

If their expectations are met, great! You’ve successfully created an environment and atmosphere in which they’re more likely to explore your content, join your mailing list, email you with a question or actually purchase something.

If they’re not, then chances are that person won’t stick around too long (you can count that in fractions of a second) before they ‘bounce’ off somewhere else. Perhaps to one of your competitors’ websites. Oh dear.

Here are 3 easy ways to establish credibility and reduce the ‘bounce rate’:-

1) Use Actual Photos of Your Business

Stock photos (generic photos you buy from a stock photography website) have their uses but, if used unwisely on the homepage of your website, they can quickly destroy the credibility you hope to build.

If you don’t have a smiling girl wearing a telephone headset answering the phone in your office, then why put that image on your website?

People are much more sophisticated now and will quickly spot inappropriate use of stock photos. Professional, high quality photos which actually represent your business and the people who work in it are a much better choice and a worthwhile investment which improves your credibility.

2) Include Customer Testimonials

Comments and testimonials from your happy customers can be used on your homepage and dispersed throughout the copy on your website. Reviews and case studies build trust by offering ‘proof’ of the quality of products and services you provide.

3) Make Your Contact Details Prominent

Being easy to contact makes you appear confident which in turn, builds trust. Make it easy for website visitors to contact you by listing your phone number, office address, email address, location map and relevant social networks (if you use them) on your contact page. Put your phone number in the header and footer of every page on your site, your customers will appreciate it.

Next Steps

Have you checked your website recently? How credible does it make you appear? If you don’t currently have a website for your business, contact us and we can discuss the best way of incorporating these elements and more into your website project.

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What Is Lead Generation? https://pcaweb.io/what-is-lead-generation/ Tue, 16 Jun 2015 13:36:23 +0000 http://web.pca-uk.com/?p=1007 ‘Lead generation’ is one of the more frequently-heard marketing terms. But what does it really mean and how important is it for the small business owner? A Working Definition of Lead Generation lead generation is the generation of consumer interest or inquiry into the products or services of a business(source: Wikipedia) Lead generation is a […]

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‘Lead generation’ is one of the more frequently-heard marketing terms. But what does it really mean and how important is it for the small business owner?

A Working Definition of Lead Generation

lead generation is the generation of consumer interest or inquiry into the products or services of a business(source: Wikipedia)

Lead generation is a crucial aspect of any business’s marketing efforts, no matter what the size, but for small to medium-sized businesses, it is particularly important to generate new leads successfully in order to help the business grow and increase turnover.

If the concept of online lead generation is unfamiliar to you and your business, it can seem like a huge, complex area to leap into. However, once you do, you’ll be able to tap into a potentially enormous online market and dramatically extend your reach.

Building an Online Presence

In today’s world, very few small businesses manage to succeed without having some sort of online presence. People turn to search engines for almost all of their queries, whether they’re looking for a specific product or service, a local business, or some knowledge or information about a topic. By exposing your business online, you can fulfil the needs of these search requests and make each website visitor a new lead that can in turn become a new customer.

For most businesses, generating leads online begins with a website which tells the world exactly what it is they have to offer, such as details on products or services, contact information, testimonials and company history. However, the components of a successful website don’t end there.

In order to generate leads from internet searches, or more specifically Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), a website must be optimised for the keywords potential customers typically use when they conduct a search. For example, a shoe retailer would target phrases such as “black shoes” and “women’s trainers” in order to generate leads. To target a more local or regional search market, they would optimise their site for local search by targeting terms such as “shoe shop Bristol”, which might result in bringing more local people to their brick and mortar store.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of targeting these keywords in order to rank highly on SERPs. SEO can be complex and time consuming for small businesses who are unfamiliar with it, but it all starts with a good quality, well-built website which has its content ‘tuned’ and focused on those relevant keywords.

A User-Friendly Website Is a Mobile-Friendly Website

Your website must not only rank well on the SERPs, but it must be visually appealing and easy to navigate in order to encourage visitors to explore it when they land on the page. 80% of internet users own a smartphone and use it to browse the web; it is therefore crucial that your website is suitable for mobile devices so that you don’t alienate this enormous chunk of the market. Common problems mobile users experience include:

  • Text that is too small
  • Buttons that are difficult to click
  • Text that doesn’t adjust to the screen size, meaning scrolling left to right is necessary
  • Images that are too large for the screen
  • pages that are slow to load
  • Forms that are difficult to complete

Not only are these issues inconvenient for the user and can put them off browsing your site, but it could result in your site being pushed down the mobile SERPs too. Google favours websites that are mobile-friendly when delivering search results to mobile users, which is why a mobile responsive site is crucial for businesses that want to maximise online exposure and lead generation.

Following Up on Leads

The hard work doesn’t end when a user visits your site. In order to turn them into a paying customer, you must nurture them and encourage them to take action; it could be to call you for more information, leave a comment on a blog post or even make a purchase via your site.

Another popular way to nurture leads online is to build a mailing list. Encourage visitors to sign up to your email newsletter for updates allows you to continue an ongoing dialogue with them. Newsletters are a great way to keep visitors engaged, bring them back to your site, tell them about new products or encourage them to contact you at a later date in order to complete a sale. You could also offer special discounts and coupons via email newsletters to make your marketing message even more compelling.

Leads, Customers & Return on Investment

Creating websites costs money. No arguments there. But by creating a website with lead generation and conversion in mind, you, the business-owner, stand a much better chance of recouping that investment of time and money more quickly.

No matter if you’re a brand new start-up or an established business aiming to expand your reach by creating a new or improving your current website, putting a lead generation plan in place and increasing your online presence is crucial to success.

A properly thought-out lead generation strategy combined with a website containing content tailored specifically to nuture those leads enables a quicker return on investment (ROI).

Build a solid foundation for your online strategy with a mobile and user-friendly website and start turning leads into customers.

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Does Your Website Fail Google’s New Mobile Friendly Test? https://pcaweb.io/website-fail-googles-new-mobile-friendly-test/ Sun, 22 Mar 2015 20:32:37 +0000 http://web.pca-uk.com/?p=701 When was the last time you reviewed your website? Since it was launched, time, technology and innovation have marched on, but is your site keeping up with the pace or falling behind? If it’s the latter, what impact might that be having on your business? In this article, I examine how Google drives change on the […]

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When was the last time you reviewed your website? Since it was launched, time, technology and innovation have marched on, but is your site keeping up with the pace or falling behind? If it’s the latter, what impact might that be having on your business? In this article, I examine how Google drives change on the Web, particularly with regard to mobile and look at the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool which helps to assess whether (or not) your website is keeping pace with the ever-increasing trend of accessing the Web via mobile devices.

How Google Drives Change on the Web

Google Is the Dominant Search Engine

The Google Search Engine is the most popular way of finding information on the Internet. The word ‘google’ is now a verb and appears in the dictionary. That’s how popular it is.

Yes, there are other search engines – Bing, Yahoo, to name just two – but they’re almost insignificant compared to Google’s overall share of the search market.

Search engine market share - Apr 2015

Google Has a Core Mission

Google’s core mission is very simple:

organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful

(source: Google Company page.)

Or, put another way, the focus of the entire company is to make it easy for you to find just what you’re looking for.

So, when you use Google to search for information, it does its very best to respond with the most relevant results.

Google Has a Core Strategy

Over the years, Google’s algorithm (the mechanism which determines the order of search results you see) has evolved.

As it strives to fulfil its mission, there have been continual and relentless updates to Google’s search algorithm over the years, some minor, some major.

More recently, more major Google algorithm updates, such as ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ to name just two, have made mainstream news. But why?

Google’s Influence Goes Beyond Search Results

The previously mentioned updates were notable because the changes they brought about were designed to tackle the issue of poor quality web pages/sites themselves.

Leveraging the vast store of information that the Google index stores about each and every web page on the Internet (the content on the page, the number and ‘quality’ of links to the page, etc.) the algorithm is now actively ’down-grading’ poor quality websites and websites which attempt to ‘game the system’ through ‘link-farming’ and other methods which violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

In this way, Google is increasing the integrity and quality of the search results it returns by making sure that the sites which appear in those results are not spammy or comprised of low quality content.

Google Updates Impact Web Businesses

As a direct result of updates like Panda and Penguin, some site owners – in particular those who may have paid (unwittingly or otherwise) hundreds or even thousands of pounds to seemingly legitimate SEO companies to bolster the performance of their site in search results – will have seen their sites suddenly ranking much, much lower or even dropping out of the index altogether.

For those running eCommerce sites or those dependent on advertising revenue, this impact goes straight to the bottom-line:

lower page rank = fewer visitors = less sales

When Google Speaks, We’d Better All Listen

Such is the power of Google. No wonder then, that when it introduces a major update to its algorithm, website owners and SEO companies who may have been using shady means to enhance search performance start to get the jitters.

There’s no doubt that change occurs when such updates are released. In essence, spammy sites are cleared out of the way, leaving plenty of extra room for genuine sites with quality content to move higher up the rankings and those site owners who may have previously been tempted to ‘game the system’ will think twice.

Win, Win, Win.

The outcome of such updates is good for site owners who play by the rules, good for those searching for quality information and, of course, good for Google. Win, win, win.

So what was different then about Google’s most recent algorithm update which the BBC News website dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’?

Google Wants a ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Internet

The difference was that Google actually issued a warning that a change was coming:

Starting April 21 [2015], we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.

The Rise and Rise of Mobile

For some time now, Google has been well aware that the use of mobile devices for accessing Web content would continue to grow, whilst the use of more traditional desktop computer browsers for accessing web content would continue to fall in comparison. There has been and will continue to be, a shift to mobile.

A study by the International Data Corporation showed that, by 2017, 87% of internet devices will be made up of mobile devices such as smartphones, iPads, tablets.

Back in 2014, to continue to serve its users and their ever-changing needs and behaviours, Google added a label identifying mobile-friendly sites in search results pages. This label indicated that the site in question had taken the steps necessary to present content on a small-screen.

Here’s an example:

Google's mobile-friendly label

The mobile user now had a clear choice when viewing Google search results on a mobile device: choose the site that’s mobile-friendly and have a ‘good user experience’, or the one that’s not and probably have a less than favourable one.

So in 2014, just by adding a label as a ’signal’, Google engineered a change in behaviour. Sites that were mobile-friendly started to get more visits than those which were not.

Now, with this latest mobile algorithm update, Google is going to actually rank mobile-friendly sites higher and start to penalise those sites which are not.

So to apply the formula used above to mobile search results:
not mobile-friendly = fewer visitors = less sales

and conversely:
mobile-friendly = more visitors = more sales

What Does Google Mean by ‘Mobile-Friendly’?

A site is deemed mobile-friendly if it meets the following criteria:

  • it’s built in a way that is compatible with mobile (e.g. no use of Flash)
  • it has large, readable text that does not require zooming
  • the content automatically resizes to fit the screen (no need to scroll horizontally)
  • it has large links with plenty of space between them so they are easily tapped

What Should Website Owners Do?

As a site owner, you should start by recognising that the shift to mobile devices will continue unabated and, soon enough, smartphones and tablets will become the dominant platform for consuming web content.

Having a site which is NOT mobile-friendly is therefore not a good long-term or even short-term option, so you’ll need to address it.

Find Out How Much Mobile Traffic You Get

Google Analytics logo
One of the first things you can do is check your Google Analytics data and find out the proportion of monthly visits by platform (desktop, mobile, tablet).

You do have Google Analytics setup on your site, don’t you? 🙂 If not, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to do it for you!

You might be surprised at what you find.

Don’t be misled if the proportion is low. Remember that, as described above, Google already labels mobile-friendly websites and ranks them higher in search results. This means that you stand to gain more mobile visits if your website is mobile-friendly.

Check Your Site (And Your Competitors’) With Google’S Mobile Friendly Test

Google has provided an easy-to-use online tool to test websites for mobile-friendliness: The Mobile Friendly Test.

Google's Mobile Friendly Test

If you rely on a certain list of search phrases to generate traffic to your website, you might want to take another look at the search results for those phrases. Have competitor websites moved ahead of yours in the rankings? Are their sites mobile-friendly?

Summary

If you own a business website then, to some degree, you rely on Google to send visitors to your site.

If your site is not built with responsive design, it’s not serving the needs of mobile device users; therefore from now on, Google will send you fewer and fewer visitors.

The result? Those people looking for a product or service which you provide will go elsewhere. And that’s not good for business.

We’re Here to Help You

Is your website mobile-friendly? Would you like to discuss a redesign? Perhaps you need help with installing Google Analytics?

Click here for a website review or fill out the contact form to get in touch for a chat.

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Shared Hosting or VPS? a Beginners Guide to Web Hosting https://pcaweb.io/beginners-guide-to-web-hosting/ Wed, 11 Mar 2015 07:39:34 +0000 http://web.pca-uk.com/?p=558 The whole subject of web hosts, web hosting and web servers can be quite confusing, especially for newcomers to the world of website ownership. Indeed, the whole issue is often glossed over or ignored completely by web service providers eager to make the sale. In this beginners guide to web hosting, we shed some light […]

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The whole subject of web hosts, web hosting and web servers can be quite confusing, especially for newcomers to the world of website ownership. Indeed, the whole issue is often glossed over or ignored completely by web service providers eager to make the sale.

In this beginners guide to web hosting, we shed some light on the subject by examining both the terminology and some of the common hosting options available in the marketplace today.

What Is a Server?

A server is a computer whose sole purpose is to make available (or ‘serve’) files to other computers on the same network.

The computer which requests files is called the ‘client’. This is where the phrase ‘client-server’ relationship comes from.

So What Is a Web Server?

A web server is a special type of server whose role is to provide web pages to clients when requested.

A website is a group of web pages belonging to an individual or business. An individual web server can host anything from one to many websites.

Web pages are, therefore, nothing more than files of information held on web servers which are requested by computers using web browsers, for example Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, to name just a few.

What Is a Data Centre?

Most web servers are found in data centres which house a large number of servers in a single location.

Usually, not all the servers are owned by the same company. The data centre provides a secure location with backup power generators and fail-safe circuits. Space within the data centre is then rented out to companies or individuals wishing to place their servers in a more secure and resilient location.

Where Are These Data Centres?

There are data centres in locations all over the World.

Generally speaking, the geographical location of the data centre which runs the web server, which hosts your website is important because the physical distance between the location of your server and your target audience can affect the speed at which your website pages appear in your visitor’s browser.

It takes longer for a page being served from web server in the USA to load on a UK-based computer browser than it would if that same web server were located in the UK. Physical distance affects speed. Simple really.

Now more than ever, speed is important. So if your target audience is in the UK, your web server should be too.

What Is a Web Host?

A web hosting company usually owns many web servers located in one or more data centres.

A good web host provides various web server hardware options all with different capabilities including power, resource limits, diskspace and bandwidth.

Many web hosts publicise ‘server uptime’ which is a percentage figure representing the proportion of time that its servers have remained online and available.

Web hosts also offer varying levels of security with which to encrypt personal or business data, such as SSL certificates – used extensively with ecommerce websites.

What Types of Web Hosting Are Available?

Hosting servers come in varying shapes and sizes. The type of server you choose is generally determined by price and the type of website or web service you intend to run.

Small websites with low expected traffic (visitor) volumes can utilise less powerful web servers at less cost, whereas larger ecommerce sites with high expected traffic volumes will require more powerful web servers at an increased cost.

Here is a description of the major types of web hosting server options available today.

Shared Hosting Server

Shared hosting is the cheapest and most common type of server hosting available. With shared hosting, the physical web server hosts many (often hundreds) of ‘virtual’ web servers all sharing the physical server’s hardware and software resources.

Shared hosting is both popular and cost-effective however, the downside is that there is potential for another person on the server to exceed their share of system resources thereby slowing the performance of all other sites in the shared host.

Shared hosting is a good starting point for a website but if traffic volumes grow, it may be worth considering a more powerful option to maintain a consistent level of performance.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

The Virtual Private Server or VPS is still a virtual server hosted on a physical server but with one very important difference: the resources allocated to the VPS are constant and cannot be affected by the performance or load on other virtual servers on the same physical server host.

To all intents and purposes the VPS is just like having your own physical server but with the added benefit of not having to look after the hardware. You choose the amount of disk space and RAM required to meet the needs of the site you are running and the available budget.

The VPS is often the next step for websites, particularly ecommerce websites, which require better performance and higher page loading speeds.

Dedicated Server

As the name suggests, the Dedicated Server is an entire physical server owned by the hosting provider but leased to you the customer. Your website is the only site on the server and therefore it benefits from the full allocation of all physical system resources.

Performance is therefore predicatble and consistent, problems are easier to diagnose and the server configuration can be customised to exactly match the needs of the site which runs on it.

Dedicated servers are relatively expensive to lease, especially if the length of the lease is measured in years. They also require a much higher level of technical knowledge to run them effectively and derive the most benefit.

Colocation Facility

The Colocation Facility or ‘colo’ allows you to buy your own web server and then rent space for it in the data centre.

The hosting company provides the Internet connection, power supply, climate control, physical security and a basic human administration service (in case the server needs a reboot, etc.).

The colo is the most expensive server hosting option with a large upfront cost and requires a high level of technical knowledge.

pcaWeb Managed Hosting – a True ‘Done for You’ Service

At pcaWeb we like to make the process of building a website as smooth as possible. That’s why we offer our clients a range of competitive, managed hosting, maintenance and support packages which complement any website development project. This way, clients don’t have the headache of choosing their own hosting and potentially getting it wrong and, because it’s ‘managed hosting‘ our clients never have to deal with a hosting company directly.

Our European hosting servers are ‘known quantities’ with robust and reliable configurations making performance predictable and consistent when running the sites we build for our clients.

So, no sales reps, no frustrating (and time-consuming) calls to technical support engineers – we handle all that for you so you can just get on with the business of running your business.

What’s your experience with web hosting? If you need help or guidance, please feel free to send us a message via our contact form.

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