The Critical Last Step to Launching Your New Website (That Most Small Businesses Forget)

Finishing a significant small business marketing initiative like a website redesign is an exciting time! After possibly months of work and waiting, your new website is ready to be launched and revealed to customers.

Or is it?

The Critical Last Step to Launching Your New Website - TestingThere’s a critical last step to launching your new website that small businesses often overlook: Testing. Before introducing your website redesign to customers, test each and every functionality to make sure it’s behaving as it should. Click every link, fill out every form, watch every video and inspect every picture. Ideally, perform these tests on a variety of devices and web browsers.

Embarrassing mistakes and typos can be avoided simply by taking a fresh look at your completed site. Recently, I found that a client’s social media links were switched. Clicking on LinkedIn took you to YouTube, and clicking on Pinterest took you to Twitter. During a website review for another new client, I found their Google AdWords landing page wasn’t loading, wasting hundreds of dollars in advertising. Attention to detail matters for delivering optimal customer experiences and spending your marketing resources efficiently.

Even if your website isn’t new, take a few minutes this week and check it over. It’s better for you to find any errors than to leave them for your customers.

Small Business Marketing: Mobile-Friendly Website vs. App

With somewhere around half of all web traffic originating from people using mobile devices, it’s certain that small businesses need to engage in mobile marketing. Then there’s the question: should you have a mobile-friendly website or an app?

I’ll make that decision easy for you. In almost every case, small businesses should focus on developing mobile-friendly websites instead of apps.

Why Mobile-Friendly Websites are Better than Apps in (Most) Small Business Marketing

  • Customers are more likely to find your website than your app. Search engines like Google search websites, not apps. Apps require marketing campaigns just to build awareness that they exist– let alone to start building your brand.
  • Apps are expensive to develop and maintain. Unless you expect thousands of users, app ROI will be lackluster.
  • A website is more universally accessible. All customers need is the website address and their favorite browser. For accessibility, you’d have to develop both an Android and Apple version of an app, which creates more complexity and expense.

Undoubtedly, there are lots of cool and useful apps available. And there are lots of companies building businesses around apps. But if the goal of your mobile marketing is to communicate information and engage customers, skip the expense and hassle of developing an app. A mobile-friendly website will work better for you.

 

How to Take a Professional Headshot Photo

Most small businesses feature pictures of their team on their websites, social media platforms or even in their physical location. When customers see pictures of the business owner or your team, they will associate the quality of the picture with the quality of your business. Everything is marketing!

With the popularity of selfies and casual smartphone photography, it can be difficult to get professional headshot photos of your team. Here are some simple tips for taking great headshots:

  • Don’t take a selfie. Even if you can’t hire a professional photographer, ask someone else to take the photo for you.
  • Plan the background. The background of a headshot photograph shouldn’t be distracting. Avoid backgrounds that contain other people or traffic. Easy background choices include brick walls, an interior wall painted a simple color, trees, or other non-distracting natural elements.
  • Think about lighting. For most headshots, it’s fine to use a smartphone or consumer-grade camera, as long as you have good lighting. Ambient daylight will make for the best results, so have fun taking your photo shoot outside.
  • Take the photo straight on. Unless you have an artistic vision that uses unique angles, take the simple approach of having your photograph taken at eye-level, while looking at the camera.
  • Stay focused. Make sure the camera is focused on you and that the picture is clear and sharp.
  • Look the part. Plan your wardrobe, do your hair and smile!
  • It’s great to be quirky, but have a purpose for the composition. Think of settings that are relevant to your brand personality. If you don’t have a lot of time, classic portrait approaches are always great for professional headshot photography.
  • Ideally, the photos of your entire team will complement each other. Using similar angles and backgrounds will reinforce customers’ impressions that you all collaborate.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at some examples.

Examples of Good Headshot Photos

Good Headshot Photo Example
Incidentally, this is my professional headshot, taken by the amazingly talented Laura Poland of Reflected Spectrum Photography

Good Headshot Example

Good headshot example

Good headshot example

Examples of Bad Headshot Photos

Bad headshot example

Bad headshot example

Bad headshot example

Bad headshot example

By following these tips and putting in a little extra effort, your small business will have team headshots that represent your brand.

Keep Mobile in Mind: Small Business Marketing Tip

More than 50% of customers view email marketing communications or social media marketing campaigns on a smartphone. This means every message you share must keep mobile in mind or risk being ignored by half of your customers.

Keep Mobile in Mind

Here are some tips for designing mobile-friendly marketing messages:

  • About 500 pixels wide will display beautifully on smart phones. Minimize the amount of horizontal scrolling required to see the content.
  • Try to keep file sizes as small as possible. Smartphones load content more slowly than desktop computers, and customers are ever more impatient. Also, you need to be mindful of how much data you are asking customers to download.
  • If you have fairly sophisticated abilities, design elements using responsive design that adapts with the customer’s screen size. One good option for email marketing are services like Mail Chimp that have responsive templates.
  • If you have to send your content as an image, use a PNG, GIF or JPG format. Avoid PDFs, as that format usually won’t display automatically like other file formats.

Designing mobile-friendly messages can be more challenging than designing for print or desktops, because screen sizes are different among devices. But if you embrace the challenge, you’ll have the marketing advantage over your competitors who stay stuck in the past.

Traditional Website Navigation Isn’t Boring. It’s Easy to Use.

Imagine a car designer saying, “It’s boring to have the brake on the right and the accelerator on the left. We need to stand out! Let’s put the brake next to this cup-holder.” How well would a car like this sell? Can you imagine re-training generations of drivers to drive differently just for the sake of one car design?

Every day, web designers are having the same conversation about website design (admittedly, with less fatal results). They are so bored of putting the “Contact” button on the right side of the menu bar that they forget having these conventions makes websites easy to use.

Sometimes web marketers mistake user habits for boring design. If users are researching dozens or hundreds of websites looking for products and services like yours, they appreciate a site that’s easy to navigate– and they’re only going to visit your site for about three seconds before they decide to stay or move onto the next one.

A website design must show the user what they’re looking for in those first three seconds before any user will take the time to admire beautiful design elements or creative devices. Part of that experience is having traditional elements in expected places. If a user can’t find your contact information, how will he ever call you?

My #1 Web Design Tip

The message this week is short but powerful. It’s my #1 web design tip, which is:

Design your website for what your customers care about.

Don’t design for what your CEO cares about. Don’t design based on your past websites. Don’t guess.

If you’re redesigning your website, ask your customers what they care about. Make that the center of all web design efforts.

A Primer on the New Facebook Page Design

How businesses can quickly integrate the new page design into their marketing efforts

Savvy businesses already know that Facebook is launching a mandatory page design update for all businesses on March 30, 2012. This quick primer will help your business get ready for the switch and outline a few of the marketing benefits of the new design.

First, to see the new page design in action, visit Zoo in a Jungle Marketing’s Facebook Page. Here’s a screenshot for you to preview:

 

How to update your business’s Facebook Page

When you visit the admin section of your Facebook Page, you’ll be encouraged to take a tour of the new layout. Throughout the tour, you’ll have an opportunity to upload key graphics and learn how to update the content.

  1. The first step is to create and upload a “cover photo,” an image 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. I chose a photo I took at the Cincinnati Zoo with my tagline, “Uncage Your Potential!” Get creative with your cover photo, but be cautious about making it too promotional. Facebook won’t accept an image with too much text, pricing information or calls-to-action.
  2. The next step is to ensure the image containing your logo is square, with a minimum size of 180 pixels by 180 pixels. A rectangular image will not display properly.
  3. Finally, you’ll be given a chance to organize your content, highlight important updates and learn how to interact with Facebook users.
That’s it! Updating your business’s Facebook Page is pretty easy. Remember to keep updating your page at least weekly with interesting content for your customers.

Benefits of the new Facebook Page design

  • Businesses can develop a richer experience for the customers on the new page. Details like “milestones” allow businesses to share more with customers than they could before.
  • The “cover photo” makes the Facebook Page look more polished, like the important marketing communications tool it is.
  • Businesses can customize the new page to fit their brand and business goals.
  • In my opinion, the information on the page is better organized, allowing for faster communication.
You don’t have to wait until the end of March to switch to the new page design! Get started on your Facebook page today. And if you have any questions, just call or email: 513.833.4203 or amanda@zooinajungle.com.

Web Design: Why Go WordPress?

In the last few years, I’ve chosen WordPress as the web design platform for the vast majority of my clients’ websites. In fact, a colleague told me yesterday that his web team recommended they rebuild their entire site in WordPress, even though he asked for just a couple new features (the site was originally built using a supposedly more versatile platform).  And yet I still occasionally witness web design professionals scoff at WordPress as merely for bloggers, not for businesses.

So let me tell you why WordPress is usually an amazing choice when you’re considering redesigning your website.

  1. It’s free and open-source, with a large, active community constantly improving it.
  2. It’s a Content Management System (CMS), meaning anyone in your company who can use Microsoft Word can update the website.
  3. It’s incredibly versatile, whether you want a sparse, minimalist website or one that has all the bells and whistles.
  4. It’s expandable. Need a new page? No problem. Want to add some new capability? There’s no limit.
  5. It’s easy to make WordPress SEO-friendly.
Check out WordPress’s featured sites to see what the platform is capable of.

Marketing Podcast: Marketing for First Impressions

In this marketing podcast, I give marketing tips for making great first impressions. Your customer’s first impression could be your storefront or even your website, and what customers think determines if they will buy from you.

And I also reveal a pretty shocking first impression I’ve encountered with a local business- listen to find out!

Listen or download below:

Marketing for First Impressions

Download the Marketing for First Impressions MP3 file here. (7.9 MB)

This segment first aired during “Getting Down to Business” on Alaska’s Fox News Talk 1020.

Google says, “Tag, you’re it!”

This article highlights the importance of html tags to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This may seem technical and dry, but it could make the difference between a customer finding your site or your competitor’s site.

A tag, among other things, can make text bold, italic or denote it as a heading. How you use tags to style your website is important to search engines like Google.

If you’ve studied SEO, you know how crucial it is to create keywords for each page of your website. The importance of tags is less well-known. All else being equal, Google will pay more attention to text that is in a heading, bold or italicized. It follows that you want to place keywords inside these tags whenever possible.

Here are a list of tags you could consider using on your own site:

  • Heading 1: <h1>
  • Heading 2: <h2>
  • Heading 3: <h3>
  • Bold: <strong>
  • Italic: <em>

Along with bold and italics, I use Heading 1 (h1) and Heading 2 (h2) for my SEO. You can style them just as you would any other text.

Observe:

h1: Small Business Marketing

h2: Zoo in a Jungle Marketing uncages small business potential.

I only use two levels of headings because the more headings you use, the less important Google will consider them.

A word of caution to those of you eagerly making plans to pepper your pages with headings and emphasis: don’t overdo it! Only use headings sparingly and when appropriate. Heading 1 is fine to use as the title of your page, but Google will ignore your site if you enclose an entire paragraph in an h1 tag. And your human readers may flee if you insist on bolding and italicizing every little thing (after all, the point of SEO is to get actual people to visit your site).

Having trouble? No worries. Feel free to email me with any questions at amanda@zooinajungle.com.