By William Perry, Creative Director + Founder - EVVUS
Let’s start by stating the obvious. The world has gone digital. We can access just about anything from anywhere, but you already know that.
The real question is, have you kept up with the digital evolution when it comes to your business?
A few more questions for you:
- Can your potential customers easily find you when they’re actively in a buying mindset, searching for products and services that you offer?
- How is their mobile experience? Let’s face it, they’re probably looking at your website and content from their phone.
- Do your potential customers feel the same way about your brand as you do?
- How much potential revenue can you be missing out on by just trying to get by and not doing things right?
Are your wheels turning? That’s the first step.
The creative process is now underway. For us at EVVUS, it’s the best part. The creative process is how we begin pushing ourselves forward. It’s how we begin evolving.
Now that the wheels are turning in that creative little brain of yours, let’s get to the meat and potatoes. So where’s the best place to start? Right at the beginning of it all.
Here are 9 steps, with our three killer keys to each, to help you start building your perfect recipe, no matter whether you’re a startup, small business or major brand in need of a kick in the butt.
The key when looking at each of these areas, is being completely honest with yourself on where your business and/or company stands. It’s the only way to truly take your company to points you’ve always wanted it to go.
Phase 1 - setup
1. Branding: logo + messaging
In many instances, before you are ever able to engage with a potential client or customer, they form their opinion on you, your company, product or service based on what they observe and see. It’s a natural human reaction.
Your logo and your messaging, will say a lot about who you are, as well as who your aren’t. Does your logo and messaging evoke the kind of feelings you intend? Is it professional and of high-quality or did your best friend create your logo in Microsoft Word? Consumers can definitely tell.
When creating your first logo or going through a rebrand, make sure your brand marks and messaging represents you positively and how you intend. You can easily attract and even turn away potential customers without ever even knowing.
Three EVVUS tips to branding:
- Take the time to figure out who you want to be + what you want to stand for
- Make an impression + differentiate from your competition
- Be authentic + consistent
After you have your logo designed, you’ve worked on your mission statement and decided how you wish to communicate, it’s on to the website.
Ohhh, the dreaded website. This is often a sore spot for many business owners. Reason being, on most occasions, the process is never handled properly from the beginning, often times, trying to tackle this part of the process on their own to save some cash.
But you have to ask yourself, how much am I losing by not doing it right?
One of the most commonly overlooked parts to the web development and creation process is the user experience. So many companies and small business owners fill their websites with information in the same fashion in which they would decorate their home.
You hang pictures of your beautiful children on the walls, you place beds in the perfect spot in the middle of the room and stack all the boxes and bins in the garage so neatly. And it works for you.
Now, let’s stop for a second and think. How differently would you go about this process if you had a blank canvas? What if you could design your home, thinking with the end in mind, with design intentions, and how you wanted that favorite chandelier your grandmother gave you to accent the grand entrance of your marble foyer?
When designing and creating your website, think the same way. Most people don’t understand the psychology behind UX (user experience) design. There are methods used in the industry to almost guarantee a users experience, based on the positioning, content and CTA’s chosen for each page.
I would encourage you to think about how users will navigate your site and find information. Is it easy? Are you strategically directing them through, building the value of your product or service? Is the foyer grand without a design detail missing or is it like walking into your doctor’s office?
Think like the consumer and how they will interact with your content and information. Oftentimes too, less is more.
Three EVVUS tips to website design + development:
- Consider your user experience
- Create calls to action for lead generation
- Keep it simple: the less clutter the better
Every business owner wants to be number one in Google for various keywords.
Let’s just put this out there right from the get go. Promise, you won’t get mad at me here?
In most cases, especially nowadays, it is extremely difficult (there are always exceptions to the rule) to get your company to the first page of Google’s search results, let alone the number one position.
Here’s another great nugget of information you’ll love hearing as well. The number one spot, really isn’t the number one spot anymore anyway. Depending your business type, there are likely about three Google Ads above the first organic listing, as well as Local Listings for physical locations. In some instances, No. 1 on Google, the first organic spot, can even be the 17th potential opportunity for a click when scanning from top to bottom of the page.
Here's an example searching for "lawyer Orlando". Take notice of the digital ads, followed by the local listenings before evening getting to the No. 1 organic spot.
Now, don’t get me wrong, being number one, or on the first page is still important, but it isn’t everything. There are so many ways and strategies you can incorporate in driving traffic to your website. We’ll touch on some of those later.
SEO and being found in search results goes far beyond just the keywords on your page. Modern SEO also takes into consideration things like domain authority, credibility (sounds pretty intangible right), backlinking, off-site content, geographic location and whether you previously visited the site, and so much more. Because in Google’s mind, they want to ensure they are delivering the utmost relevant content to their users, so remember that when you’re not ranking for chocolate cake recipes. Remember, we’re building your perfect recipe. Unique and original. Like no one else’s.
When creating your website or optimizing a current one, always start with the basics. That means writing your content keeping in mind how users are searching to start. Then covering the technical fundamentals of getting all of your title and img tags filled out and your meta descriptions just how you want them.
Focus on quality content. If users continue to consider your content to be valuable, over time, your authority and credibility increases in the eyes of Google.
From there, start working on your backlinking strategy. Back linking consists of linking with other credible sources online, including blog material on your product or service, that links information and content back to you and your website. This is where the domain authority and credibility piece begins to play a factor again. Make sure these online referral sources are reputable. There are many that aren’t.
The next two topics we will touch on, Directories and your Google setup, will also play into your SEO process.
Three EVVUS tips to SEO:
- Focus on quality of content to bring credibility and relevant traffic to your website
- Establish local search + business listing opportunities
- Develop an off-site strategy to direct traffic to your website
Directories are a fantastic free way to direct traffic to your website. Directories should be a part of your off-site strategy in directing that traffic to your site.
Some great directories to take advantage of are: Wikipedia, Yelp, Yellow Pages, LinkedIn and many more. There are bound to be industry specific places to list your website and information that is totally free. Why not take advantage of it?
Three EVVUS tips to Directories:
- Take advantage of free resources
- Look for industry-specific listing opportunities
- Optimize your content to stay consistent with your other branding and SEO guidelines
5. Google environment setup: Analytics, MyBusiness, Places
Many businesses haven’t even claimed their Google Business listing! Sounds crazy doesn’t it?
I bet you’re searching your business as we speak, double checking that your Google card is showing up. This is the feature that shows up on the right hand side on the Google search page.
Here's an example here for the Winter Garden Athletic Club.
The importance of local search is increasing. Potential customers are looking for you right in their backyard, and it starts right here setting up your Google Business listing. Plus, you can bypass all the organic efforts with being listed “No. 1” by having your physical location setup for local search. Optimize this listing and make sure you continue to keep your information up to date.
Another area of your Google environment you will want to set up is Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to see how users are reaching your website, what content is popular, where users are coming from geographically and so much more. It’s a very intuitive tool that can help you improve the user experience on your website. And again, it’s free! All you’ll need to do is create your Google Analytics code and add it to your website.
Three EVVUS tips to Google environment setup:
- Make sure business contact information is accurate and correct
- Optimize your content to stay consistent with your other branding and SEO guidelines
- Begin analyzing how users are reaching your site with Google Analytics
Phase 2 - reel em in!
In phase 1, we focused on getting yourself set up just to start marketing and make it a little easier for potential customers to find you online. In phase 2, we’ll focus on the your hook and lure strategy, so you can start reeling in the fish.
You might be asking yourself, why start here?
That’s because without great content, you mine as well forget about steps 7-9.
Social media, digital ads and email marketing are all dependent on great content, which means, you're going to have to spend some valuable time creating or acquiring such content.
At EVVUS, we place major emphasis as the visual design of our content. We always want to give an impression of quality and legitimacy. Content in this sense consists of acquisition and retention pieces used to attract and further engage customers, consisting of blogs, videos, graphics, photos, ebooks and more.
Surprisingly, so many businesses, business decision makers and business owners look past this part, which would be like skipping the stretching, nutrition and recovery steps to your marathon training. You can’t just show up to the race expecting to perform.
Most of the work comes in the preparation and planning for your performance, so why would you not put the same amount of effort, energy and preparation into your content when it is the direct link to your current and potential customers in the online world?
You wouldn’t and you shouldn’t.
By this point, I hope you’re nodding your head in agreement.
Your content should always evolve and stay up to date, but don’t be afraid to recycle material as well. You put a lot of effort into creating it. Use it again. When you used it the first time, it wasn’t likely to reach everyone anyway.
Three EVVUS tips to content creation:
- Quality is priority No. 1
- Create content for your users, not for you
- Include relevant keywords in blog posts
7. Social Media
At EVVUS, we are big on the philosophy of, do it right, or don’t do it at all. This especially applies to social media. We wrote a blog a few months back if you would like to check it out, ironically titled, “Social Media: Do it right, or not at all”.
The reason we are so big on that philosophy is that, social media when done right, is very time consuming and when not done right, really won’t produce results for you and really isn’t the best use of your time, if you don’t put in the work.
If you are going to incorporate social media as part of your strategy, commit to it. Just like a runner training for a marathon, you wouldn't start day 1 running 26.1 miles, but you might start with a 5k.
Likewise with social media, start committing a couple of hours per week with a strategic approach. Your following, reach and results will grow over time, but only if you stay committed to the process. From there, you’ll want to do a deep dive as you’ve become comfortable and familiarized yourself.
So what does that process look like?
The two most important aspects in creating your social media strategy are: 1) knowing who your target demographic is and where they are hanging out and 2) posting unique, original content.
Each social media platform has it’s strengths and best uses. Instagram is great for visual brands, typically to a younger demographic. Twitter is a conversational platform, where two-way communication flows back and forth. Pinterest largely caters to a female demographic and Facebook, from a business perspective, will take leveraging ads to get your content to potential interested customers.
Alongside of that, each industry is different. If you are a B2B service-provider, you’re better off spending your time on LinkedIn vs. Instagram or even Facebook.
In summary, think of where your potential customers might be on social media, go there and connect with them. Create and share unique and original content, including blogs, videos, graphics and information that benefits them (this is the most important part) and remember, just like interpersonal communication, it’s a two-way street. The fastest way to turn people off is turning your Twitter feed into your soapbox.
Three EVVUS tips to social media:
- Have a strategy: don’t just blindly post
- Engage + connect: it’s a two-way street
- Know who your target audience is
8. Digital Ads: Facebook + Instagram
Facebook and Instagram ads are one of our favorite ways to drive web and brand traffic. Facebook and Instagram ads are extremely cost effective when compared with other digital advertising options, AND you can target your ideal customer AND there is instant engagement data to base future campaigns off of.
How cost effective you might ask? Costs per click can be as little as under $0.50. We’ve even seen them less than that. But don’t just blindly boost posts however, there are so many targeting options to get your product or service to your ideal customer. You’re throwing away money if you don’t utilize these options.
Great ads have 3 important pieces:
- Interesting visual
- Intriguing copy
- Call to action
If you don’t tell the user what to do, they’ll go right on by!
Three EVVUS tips to Facebook + Instagram Digital Ads:
- Use A/B campaigns to compare
- Constantly monitor, adjust + optimize
- Have a goal, a plan + pre-prepare your content
9. Email: MailChimp
You’ve done all this work luring potential clients and customers in, you’d be silly not to keep them engaged.
Que email marketing.
There are plenty of email clients you can use, but some of the best are MailChimp and Constant Contact for the depth of the software and ease of use.
List building, in and of itself, can be a full-time job, but it absolutely should be a part of your strategy.
Utilizing email marketing, you can:
- schedule emails
- send unique content (blogs) direct to subscribers
- send promos and push sales
- direct web traffic
- and even just inform your customer base
Now keep in mind not to over bombard your database with dozens of emails. Don’t give your subscribers and customers a reason to stop opening your emails or even worse, send you to their spam folder.
If you begin incorporating these steps into your marketing strategy, you are well on your way to driving the awareness and traffic around your brand that you have always wanted and hoped for and if not, you are way behind the curve in today’s digital world.
Three EVVUS tips to email marketing:
- Don’t spam your users: Keep their trust to ensure they’ll continue to open
- Always offer valuable content to your users: blogs, tips + relevant info
- Stay away from purchased lists: it’s the fastest way to get yourself in trouble with email hosts