The importance of landing pages

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Landing pages, schmanding pages. You’ve probably heard the term landing pages so often that you don’t care what it is anymore. But I want to get you going in the right direction when it comes to marketing online. If you want to do marketing the right way on the internet, you’re going to need landing pages.

What’s a Landing Page?

A landing page is like a website, but super focused on one thing. Let’s say you click a Facebook Ad for a watermelon flavored chapstick. The click takes you to chapstick.com’s homepage, and now you have to search and find the watermelon flavor you want. That’s not a great experience, right?

Instead, you want someone to click that same ad and go to a landing page that is just about the watermelon chapstick and nothing else! The sole focus is that flavor.

Some landing pages will be focused on getting sign ups for a product launch, getting people to purchase, getting people to sign up for an ebook, etc.

Landing pages have information about the one thing you’re looking to put in front of visitors. It focuses their attention.

Why not send them to a page on your website?

Sure, you can do that. But we all know how easily distracted people get. If you send them to your website, they may end up clicking the navigation bar or the sidebar to go somewhere else.

A landing page is sparse. It usually has information, a graphic, and a form to fill out or a buy button. You remove much of the distracting features of a website like the navigation bar, cluttered sidebar, and footer. You can have some links on the landing page, but you want to stay focused on your goal.

Can you give an example?

Yes! Let’s say you’re doing a giveaway to grow your email list. You’re running Facebook Ads to do a giveaway of 1 month of your service for free. Your landing page should include information about the giveaway and your company and a form for people to sign up.

Can we see some landing pages?

Absolutely! This article from Hubspot has some great examples of well designed landing pages.

How do I get started?

If you have a web designer on staff, you’re in luck because they’ll be able to create landing pages for you. Otherwise you may need software like Leadpages or Unbounce to build and launch your landing pages. These sites are easy to use, drag and drop, so you can get a simple page up in less than 30 minutes.

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How to optimize a Google My Business page

If you’re a local business, you MUST be on Google My Business. This helps you show up on the sidebar when someone searches your business on Google. And you will also show up on Google Maps (probably the most important part in my opinion).

Think about the last time you took a trip and wanted to find a restaurant. Most likely, you went on Google Maps and typed in “restaurant” or “pizza” or “burgers”. Then you tried to find a place nearby. You don’t really want to Google “Burgers Nashville” because you might find a place that’s 10 miles away, and you want to walk. Google Maps will bring up the burger places nearby.

But if you’re a burger restaurant that isn’t on Google My Business or Google Maps, you won’t show up. And you’re probably losing business because of this.

How to Get a Google My Business Page

First off, you need a Gmail account. Then, you have to go to Google.com/business.

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Then it will bring you to a map where you can search to see if your business is already listed. If it isn’t, Google will send you a verification code either by mail or some other method. Once you get the code and enter it, your business is verified!

If your business happens to be listed but is claimed by someone else, now you have to figure out who has the listing and try to get in contact with them.

Information to Enter

Now that your business is verified, you can start adding all the details.

This includes:

  • Business Name
  • Categories
  • Address
  • Hours
  • Special Hours
  • Phone
  • URL
  • Amenities (Often Google will add these automatically)
  • Photos

How Important Are Reviews?

Google Business reviews are often overlooked when it comes to local businesses. Instead they focus on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp.

You should be funneling customers to fill out a review here. Especially because people will see the reviews if they type your business name into Google and if they find you on Maps.

Maintaining & Updating

A big mistake people make with Google Business is that they set it up and forget about it. Anytime you change something within your business such as hours, holidays, payment methods, etc, you need to be updating your listing.

I have run into the issue of wrong hours on Google Maps so often that I don’t trust the listed hours for a business anymore. But many people do, and they will be upset if you say you’re open until 10pm but now you close at 9pm.

Every month you should be adding new photos, replying to reviews, and making sure all of your business’s info is correct.

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Custom vs. Themes for Your Business’s Website

If you keep up with the latest online, you know that sites like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are becoming huge players in the web design space. It wasn’t long ago when you HAD to hire a web designer to make you a website, unless you knew HTML, CSS, Javascript, and other coding languages to build one yourself.

For most business owners, you don’t have time to learn all of this, so you outsource the work to a design shop. But now, these website building platforms make it so easy that just about anyone can make a site. But is it worth it?

Why use a website builder?

Website builders are useful for one reason, you can do it yourself. They generally come with standard templates that you can fill in with your information, photos, and products and then you’re ready to go.

These sites make it easy to not only build the site, but also to edit it later on.  Many of these newer builders also feature mobile responsive themes so they look great on phones and tablets.

Why you shouldn’t use a website builder

These builders are great for getting something up and running quickly. If you need an MVP (minimum viable product) site to test out a concept, then these are a good idea because they’re relatively cheap.

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But if you’re looking for a custom site, you’re out of luck using a site like Wix or Squarespace. The templates are meant to be easy to use and build, but that makes it hard to create anything custom to your business.

Using a web designer means you get exactly what you envisioned, not a “close enough” version.

You can still have the ease of updating capabilities that sites like Wix or Weebly offer if you use CMS platforms like WordPress. Just make sure to let your designer know when you’re outlining the scope of your site.

Using a website building platform also means you’re limited to what they offer. If you are a restaurant and want to add in a function to let someone order and get delivery, you’re stuck with what your platform lets you do. If you have a custom site, that can be built in.

What’s the conclusion?

It’s really up to you! If you just need a basic portfolio or brochure site to lay out your information and a few photos, and maybe host a blog, then a website building platform is fine.

If you want to make a great impression on your audience, include custom features and get the site looking just how you envisioned, then you need to hire a web design agency.

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Best Books for Copywriting

Best books for copywriting - MARKIT Group

Copywriting is an art and a science. It’s all about understanding your customer, what they want, and how your product can help them. Many business owners get this part wrong, and that’s why their copy is bad. They talk about themselves, and a customer doesn’t care about you, the business owner, they care about how you can help them.

How do you learn copywriting? The best place to start are books. There are so many out there, but the classics still remain the go-to for many master copywriters.

Here is our list of the best copywriting books.

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word
Joseph Sugarman
Learn advertising, copywriting, marketing and creativity from the man who made millions of dollars from the power of his pen. Many marketing experts teach you to put benefits in your headlines, use plenty of pictures and make your copy brief and to the point.

Ogilvy on Advertising
David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy is a master at advertising and his book is no exception.

The Boron Letters
Gary Halbert
These letters have been recommended to me so often. They’re a collection of letters from Gary Halbert to his son Bond and they’re a copywriting classic.

Tested Advertising Methods
John Caples
The fifth edition of this work on how to create successful advertising features new coverage on small businesses with limited revenues, non-profit advertising, as well as techniques of headlines, illustrations and layouts. There is also new information useful to smaller businesses.

Breakthrough Advertising
Eugene Schwartz
This might be one of the best copywriting books out there. Yes, it’s a textbook and sure it’s old, but many copywriting rules from decades ago still apply today.

Scientific Advertising
Claude Hopkins

Influence
Robert Cialdini
Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

How to Win Friends & Influence People
Dale Carnegie
For more than sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

Don’t Make Me Think
Steve Krug
Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have relied on usability guru Steve Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it’s one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject.

Predictable Revenue
Aaron Ross
Discover the outbound sales process that, in just a few years, helped add $100 million in recurring revenue to Salesforce.com, almost doubling their enterprise growth… with zero cold calls.

 

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Should I expect ROI from social media?

Yes and no. While social media is great for interacting with your audience an community, it’s not necessarily the best channel for selling. People are savvy and will tune you out if you are promoting too much, that is why content marketing is so popular.

While it’s difficult to directly attribute a sale to social media, it does play a big role. It’s not often that a person will buy because you posted a link on your Facebook page. But it could lead to them mentioning it to a friend who then buys the product a few weeks later.

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Our client Fresh Catch Bistro

If you’re a restaurant, social media is huge. People still love posting pictures of their food and drinks. It’s important to have a place where they can do that and where you’ll engage with them. It takes time to respond to all these images and comments, but people will appreciate it.

What to expect from social media?

While you shouldn’t start trying to attribute direct sales, you should be seeing how much engagement you’re getting. One difficulty in this is that sites like Facebook limit the amount of followers who see any given post.

But if you share a customer’s photo and it receives 15 likes, while posting your menu only receives 1, it may tell you something. These are one off cases, but look at the aggregate of your post history.

  • What post types get the most likes, comments, shares?
  • When is the best time for you to be posting? Is there a best time?
  • Should you be taking more photos or creating graphics?
  • Are there certain topics people seem to like more than others?

Collect the data and see. Social media is about interaction and engagement. You won’t do well on social if you just queue up some posts and leave it at that. You need to be constantly checking notifications and monitoring hashtags to respond to people promptly.

If you have a dedicated following, like Buffer, they can engage many people in the community through things like Twitter Chats. Though these chats don’t bring in direct sales, they’re a way for people to grow even more fond of the company and the community they’ve created.

Social media best practices

There is no one way to use social media. Your company is not the same as others, so don’t base what you do off what someone else does.

Try and experiment with different ideas and see what sticks. Maybe you try a Twitter chat but only get 1 person to join. Try it again for a few more weeks and if the same thing persists, then hold off until you have more following.

If you really want some best practices, check out this guide from Moz. 

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Simple Tips for local SEO

simple-tips-to-improve-your-local-seo-markit-group

SEO is constantly changing, and it’s a very tough process to master. The search engines are always changing their algorithms and we have to guess what’s working and what isn’t. Even if a strategy worked 3 months ago, it may no longer work anymore.

For local SEO, your business is competing against others in the area. That means getting placed on Google Maps, showing up for the right keywords, and getting lots of great testimonials. Those are just a few pieces of your local SEO strategy, but there’s more to it than just that.

We’re going to walk through some do’s and don’ts for local SEO to make sure you’re properly ranking for the right keywords and that your site is well optimized for search engines.

What are the main aspects of local SEO?

There are a few components every local company needs to have in place in order to effectively rank in a search engine.

These include:

  • Your location on Google Business and Maps
  • Proper information for your business across all sites and platforms
  • Reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.
  • Strong backlinks

Now, if you’re a local business and aren’t familiar with SEO, some of these terms may sound alien to you. Don’t worry, we’re going to dive into each.

Google Business

As a local company, this is one of the first places you need to be adding your business. It’s important to have all the correct info, and verify your location with Google.

Make sure your location is not already listed on here. You don’t want duplicate locations.

An account with Google Business means you will pop up on Google Maps, a top place for people to search for local businesses.

Here are some tips for optimizing your Google Business page.

Correct Information Across Sites

Duplicate or incorrect info does not help your site in terms of SEO. It is tough to go site by site to find these errors. There are tools like Yext you can use to find these errors for free. Try their Business Listing Scan.

You can use a paid version of Yext to correct these errors automatically.

The importance of correcting these errors is to ensure no customer ever gets the wrong information.

Local SEO Guide says, “We have done studies that show citation consistency can be a key factor to getting you into a local pack – so don’t ignore them”.

Reviews

Visible reviews on big sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google will really help your business. Not only will customers read these reviews and help decide whether to use your company, but it’s been found that reviews can increase your performance with Google Business.

“Things like Reviews and Photos and having an Owner Verified (OV) profile correlated with positive GMB performance,” says Local SEO Guide.

Strong Backlinks

Backlinks are links that are pointing to your site. If you are listed on your local Chamber of Commerce site, the link on there that points to your site is a backlink.

You want to get GOOD backlinks. This doesn’t mean just trying to submit your site to any directory just because you can get a link out of it. Search engines put more weight on links from well-liked sites. If you got a link from the New York Times, that is worth much more than a link from random site like news-web-city.com.

“Since the link data was so overwhelming, we also wanted to look at if just having optimized anchor text (for both keyword and city) would have any impact. Lo and behold, it did. That means if you can just get one good link with optimized anchor text you should do it. Go on, what are you waiting for?” (Local SEO Guide)

 

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UX Mistakes Your Site Might Be Making

ux-mistakes-your-site-is-making-markit-group

You have a website, congrats! You’re now searchable on the internet. It’s a big step for many businesses to finally get a working website up and running.

But hold up a second. Before you throw a party celebrating your new site, is it really that great?

Sorry to rain on your parade, but there are many websites out there that just don’t make the cut when it comes to a great user experience.

User experience? If you’re confused by the term, don’t worry! We’re going to dive into some commmon user experience (UX) mistakes that your site might be making. These are things you can definitely fix. And you need to fix them in order to keep visitors on your site long enough to get them interested in your business.

What is User Experience?

UX is an aspect of design centered around the experience a user has. When a website has a great look and feel, that’s the design. But what about how a user interacts with the site and finds information or clicks around? That’s the user experience.

I’m sure you’ve been on a site with a poor user experience, but you were on it for such a small amount of time that you didn’t really stop and take notice.

There’s a useful framework from UX Magazine called BASIC. It describes the aspects of a great user experience design.

Beautiful
Accessible
Simple
Intuitive
Consistent

You don’t just want a site that looks beautiful, you want it to be easy to understand and follow. You want the user to come on and know just how to find what they’re looking for. If there’s too much going on on the site and they become confused, they’ll leave. Simple as that.

What Are Common UX Mistakes?

For many businesses, just getting a website up and running is a challenge. Throw UX design in there, and they may just scrap the whole project.

Fixed headers that are too big

A fixed header is fine if you have long pages of content and want to keep the navigation easily accessible. But it becomes a nuisance if the header is too large and blocks too much of the screen. Go through your site and make sure the fixed header is not causing readability issues.

This is especially important for mobile. If you leave a large fixed header on there, you are bound to annoy a ton of mobile visitors who can barely see your site.

Poor mobile experience

A big issue with creating a website is not reviewing the design and experience on mobile. There are tiny errors you need to fix just for mobile, but they can make a huge impact. This includes things like removing full-page pop ups and ensure that the page properly resizes to the screen size.

Sometimes your navigation bar won’t resize properly, leaving it rather useless to a visitor.

Carousels

Carousels can be good or evil, depending how you use them. If you have too many items in it, people will not want to click through them all. If you have too few items, a carousel is a bit pointless. It’s also important to make sure that the arrows for click to the next or previous slide are visible.

There’s value in them for things like photos, but if you have key information in those slides that you want the user to see, it may be best to take them out of the carousel.

Here’s a website that has a pretty strong opinion on whether or not you should use carousels.

Ignoring the user’s needs

Often times, as a business owner you want to build a site that you love. You have a vision and want to see it come to life. But you really need to be thinking about your visitors. What do they want from the site?

If you make your About page the most prominent section, you’re telling the visitor you care about “you”. But put yourself in the customers’ shoes, what do they want from your site? Well, they likely want to know what you offer and the pricing. So make that prominent! Learn what visitors want out of your site and make it dead simple for them to find it, whether it’s pricing, your quote form, or signing up.

Bad font choice

A poor font choice not only looks bad but can affect readability. If your font is too thin, many browsers can’t properly render it. Make sure to pick a non-thin font, and also to pick appropriate colors and test these on different browsers.

Scrolljacking

This is a newish term in the UX world. It’s when a site takes over the scrolling for you, and frankly, nobody likes it. You don’t want to take control away from your visitors. If they get frustrated even for a second, they’ll leave.

More resources on UX

Want to learn more about UX design for your website? Here are some resources to help you.

UX Beginner Reading List

A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding UX Design

UX Apprentice

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