Are You Guilty of Committing These 24 Common Mistakes in your Online Marketing?

online-marketing-mistakes

Make a fool of yourself lately?

It’s easy to do, you know.

Since starting to market my business online I have made a lot of mistakes.

But I’ve learned from them.

Here are 24 costly blunders-I have made most of them at one time or another.

Hopefully listing them here will help you avoid all of them.

  1. Paying seo “specialists” to rank your site in the search engine results pages for search phrases that don’t appear anywhere on your website/blog.

The good Lord can’t make this happen. And your “seo expert” is ripping you off.

  1. Failing to use video.
  2. Using video, uploading to YouTube and not using the description box to its full extent.

For example by linking back to your website/blog.

Here’s what needs to go in the box: http://yoursite.ie.

  1. Poor/amateurish LinkedIn profile.
  2. No LinkedIn account or profile.
  3. White text on a black background on your website/blog.

You might think it looks cool, attention grabbing, and funky.

It’s not.

It’s just annoying for the reader after a short while of trying to read what you have to say.

Take a look at Google.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Apple.com, Youtube.com, Pinterest.com.

All these online monsters have one thing in common: black text on a white background.

It has worked well since the invention of the printing press, usability studies have proved it is the most effective colour combination, and people expect it.

  1. “Doing a blog” and thinking it is a good use of your time.
    Instead, publish great content that your visitors will appreciate because it helps solve their problem or educates them about issues that interest them.

Planning what you are going to write, researching it properly, and writing in a crystal clear way is what’s required.

And committing to publishing regularly.

  1. Failing to find out what your target market, your ideal customer, is looking for (see 7 above).

It’s easy to find out eg ask them in a short survey, see what they are saying on forums and discussion boards, etc.

  1. Failing to give it to them.
  2. Advertising on Facebook for “likes” (send the money to a worthy cause instead-maybe the homeless in Dublin).

UPDATE September, 2015: I no longer believe number 10 is a mistake. In fact, I have discovered that advertising on Facebook can be stunningly effective, if you know what you are doing.

I would strongly recommend advertising on Facebook, but ensuring that your ads are good, your audience is tight and focused, and you are not trying to sell from your ad. You would be far better off building your email list with your Facebook campaigns (see number 12 below).

  1. Too many potential traffic leaks away from your website/blog to places like Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sits.Facebook and Twitter don’t need your traffic. You need theirs.
  2. Not using email to connect with your audience/potential market.
  3. No internal linking on your website. Allowing your visitors to find quickly and easily what they are looking for on your site is critical. Internal linking helps to do this.
  4. A boring, uninformative “About Us” page which is exclusively about the writer. It should also, ironically, be about the reader and what you can do for her.
  5. No photo of a human being on your “About Us” page. (see 14 above).
  6. Asking people to become subscribers to your website newsletter but not giving them a reason to sign up. You need a strong “lead magnet/ethical bribe”.
  7. Asking people on social media sites like LinkedIn to “read my latest blog” or telling them in a headline:“New Content”. Give them a reason to read it and address the question of “what’s in it for me?”You can’t bore people into submission or doing business with you.
  8. Not enough or poor, thin, uninformative content on your website/blog.
  9. Broken links on your site.
  10. Boring titles on your articles/blogs/posts which give no encouragement or reason to the reader to actually read what you have written. Offer them a benefit in your headline-a benefit for the reader for reading.
  11. Not categorizing your blog posts to make it easy for your reader to find what he is looking for.
  12. Failing to use images. A picture is worth a thousand words, if it is the right picture.
  13. Using images but no alt tags.
  14. Thinking the search engine results pages are organised alphabetically. Google, and the other search engines, organise the results in terms of relevance to the searcher’s “query”.

Have you made any (many) of these mistakes?

Have you made other mistakes?

What’s the worst one you have made?

Let me know below.

13 Things Every Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner Should Know About Digital Marketing

digital-marketing

Confused about digital marketing?

Or more to the point: are you confused about what actually works in online/digital marketing?

Do you run the risk of listening to spoofers-self appointed “gurus” who don’t actually put their theory into practice every day?

Here are 13 things which might give you a small insight of what’s involved:

  1. Digital marketing, aka, online marketing is the use of new media-such as the internet, video, mobile phones, laptops, iphones, android phones, iPads, rss feeds, social media sites, web 2.0 sites, blogs, podcasts, email – to market your business.
  2. The wide, and growing, range of these marketing options can be overwhelming and confusing for many small business owners.
  3. The growth of “experts” in social media marketing and search engine optimisation has added to this confusion, especially when a lot of the strategies being promoted are not shown to have worked for businesses like yours.
  4. The irony is that the leading social media “gurus” and experts, to a man and woman, rely heavily on email marketing to grow their business.
  5. Digital marketing offers the small business owner an unprecedented opportunity to engage in direct marketing at a fraction of the cost required for traditional advertising or direct marketing.
  6. “Direct marketing” is a phrase coined by Lester Wundermann in a speech in MIT, in Boston in 1967. He later stated that he wished he had called it “personal advertising” which gives you an indication of the power of direct marketing because it involves targeting your potential customer directly.

Contrast this personal approach with an advertising campaign on the tv, radio, newspapers, magazines for a product like dog food. Your campaign will clearly interrupt non dog owners too.

  1. Digital marketing offers the small business owner the opportunity to engage in smart, cost-effective guerrilla marketing type strategies. Using the most appropriate digital channels in the right way will see a disproportionate return on their efforts.

Up to approximately 15 years ago the small guy had no chance of competing with the ad spend budgets of bigger and richer competitors.

  1. It took Coke 50 years to build a global brand with traditional advertising on tv, radio, newspapers and magazines.
  2. It took Google 2 years to become a global brand via the internet, with no advertising spend. Yahoo needed 3 years and YouTube did it in 1.
  3. Have you ever seen an advertisement for Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Google, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube on tv, radio, newspapers or magazines?

They’re as rare as hens’ teeth.

  1. Twitter launched in 2006 and has roughly 271 million active users.
  2. Facebook is rumoured to have 25% of its servers dedicated to the phrase “lol”.
  3. Pinterest launched in beta in 2010 and was listed in Time magazine’s list of “50 Best Websites in 2011″. In January 2012 it had 12 million users and worked out of a small apartment up to 2011.

Now, none of these facts alone will help you grow your business online.

But hopefully you will take away one thing: there is no one size fits all strategy for every business, and any social media or online marketing expert who has this view is either mistaken or misguided.

Every business is unique, and there is a strategy involving a combination of online marketing channels which will be best for your business.

Your job as a small business owner is to find what’s right for your specific business.

“Headless Body in Topless Bar”-The Critical Importance of Persuasive Writing in Marketing Your Business

persuasive-writing-headline

Attention.

It’s a scarce (and valuable) commodity.

Especially for small businesses with limited budgets.

The tabloid newspapers fight for attention every single day in an ultra-competitive market.

The “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline is one of the more lurid and attention grabbing newspaper headlines employed by a tabloid newspaper in New York, the “New York Post”.

As a small business owner you face the same challenge of getting the attention of your potential customer.

She’s busy. She has 1001 things going on and competing for her attention.

You throw away scarce resources if you don’t use the tried and tested principles of smart, persuasive writing in your marketing materials.

Are you buying ads in local newspapers, parish newsletters, magazines, national papers?

Or you may be utilizing social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to get your message out.

Regardless of where or how you choose to spread your message, boring simply won’t cut it.

You won’t be heard and your efforts will be swallowed up in a sea of noise and competing distractions like Jonah being swallowed up by the whale.

To have any chance of growing your business, you simply must win the attention of your ideal customer.

Once you do you need to deliver value on behalf of your business.

But you do need to gain that attention first.

Letting the reader or internet surfer know what is in it for him/her is vital. And you must do it quickly-at a glance, in fact.

Because you have a very limited time within which to do it, especially on the internet.

The best way to get your reader’s attention is to offer her a benefit for reading.

Stimulating her interest and curiosity works too.

When you combine curiosity and a benefit for the reader you will be on a winner in terms of getting her attention.

copywriter-ireland

“Man’s Head Explodes in Barber’s Chair” or “Read My Latest Blog Post” or “New Content”

80% of people who land on your website will glance at the titles of your content. Only 20% will then go ahead and actually begin to read the full article or post.

And if you don’t maintain their interest too, the number of people who read all you have to say can be tiny.

The benefit of good titles is that what you have to say gets read.

Drab, uninteresting, boring titles will see your content being swamped and ignored in a sea of noise on the internet.

The internet can be a distracting cacophony of noise.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube are all competing for the attention of your reader or potential client.

Telling people on a social media site to “Read my latest blog” or “New Content” will not cut it.

Not unless you are a top celebrity.

Nobody cares. (Sorry, but that’s the reality).

Sources of Great Titles

If you are wondering where to get ideas or examples of great attention grabbing titles look no further than

  • Tabloid newspapers generally
  • The National Enquirer
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Men’s Health
  • Sunday World

The Purpose of your Title

The objective of your title is to do only one thing-to get the reader to read the first sentence.

The objective of your first sentence is to get the second sentence read.

And so on.

You won’t do this by being boring.

You really do need to gain and hold the attention of your reader, no matter what location of your message.

(If you need persuasive writing for your business, whether online or offline, or online marketing to grow your business, you may be interested in this).

How to Grow Your Business Online With Content Marketing

Content Marketing

Content marketing.

It’s probably a phrase that you’ve heard bandied about in the last couple of years, especially if you have taken an interest in online or digital marketing.

It might surprise you to know that content marketing has been with us for a very long time.

But it just wasn’t called “content marketing” then.

From product brochures to in flight magazines to company newsletters-many businesses have been publishing content since the invention of the printing press, with a view to promoting themselves and their services/products.

Content marketing is effective because it is “pull marketing” as opposed to in your face “push marketing”.

Content marketing involves providing relevant, educational, engaging, useful, helpful, entertaining (and sometimes funny) information to potential users of your products and services.

Rather than telling people that you are expert in, say, tax accounting or family law, you actually show them you are an expert authority.

How?

By providing helpful, accurate, authoritative information. You can do this on your website or blog, in a e-newsletter, in a printed newsletter, in a podcast, series of videos…the options are endless.

But the bottom line is that rather than just telling your potential clients that you are an authority, you show them.

When leads and potential new clients come to you because they are interested in what you have to say converting leads into prospects and ultimately clients is easier, a lot easier.

Direct mail, cold calling, advertising, media planning and buying can be effective, but expensive. Building up a body of content about which you can be proud and which demonstrates your expertise is a great long term investment in your business.

And the difference between attraction or permission marketing, which is a by-product of content marketing, and push or interruption marketing is like the difference between chalk and cheese.

Benefits of content marketing

  • Helps people and creates value
  • Builds brand recognition for you
  • Builds credibility, trust, and recognition for you as content creator/provider
  • Creates loyalty to you and your business
  • Answers questions and helps solve customers’ problems
  • Can establish an on-going relationship with your leads and customers, both old and new.

Before the internet and digital marketing, publishing, printing, and distributing newsletters was expensive.

Buying space in newspapers, magazines, on television or radio was also a significant barrier to small businesses and start ups or entrepreneurs.

Not any more.

Content Marketing Offers a Huge Opportunity to the Small Business Owner

Content marketing can now be achieved effectively and cheaply with a simple blog or website. This has been a real game changer for businesses large and small, especially smaller businesses with more limited budgets.

This has led to a catastrophic change in the traditional media world with plummeting drops in newspaper and magazine circulation and reduced advertising spend.

YouTube, email marketing, blogs, websites, rss feeds, iTunes, slide sharing sites, social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+-all these sites allow the smallest business to now become a regular publisher of anticipated, quality content.

The Content Marketing Rule

The most important rule when it comes to content marketing is that you produce good quality, helpful content. It can be written, spoken, video, or a combination of these and others.

It must be useful.

But the key is that you are committed to helping your ideal customer.

What works best is helpful information and tips for your readers. This demonstrates that you know what their problems are, that you can help them solve them, and you are the right person (on a personal level) to work with them.

As a small business owner it is time for you to start thinking like a publisher and less like an advertiser. You will find it more effective, achievable, and cost effective in the short, medium, and long term.

What Aristotle Can Teach Small Business Owners About the Art of Persuasion

copywriting-ireland

Aristotle.

What could you, as a small business owner, learn from a dead Greek philosopher?

Lots actually.

Let me explain.

Firstly, it’s critical to know what copywriting is.

Copywriting is simply the writing of materials designed to persuade and sell. In short, it’s persuasive writing.

It could be on your website or blog; it could be for an advertisement you are going to place in your local newspaper; it could be for a radio ad you are going to run on your local radio station; it could be for a flyer or postcard you are going to hand out in local housing estates or industrial estates; it could be a “help wanted” notice for your business.

It’s self evident that the more effective and persuasive your words are, the more cost effective your advertising will be.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric-use logic and emotion

One of the earliest, and most successful, proponents of the art of persuasion was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Aristotle literally wrote the book on the art of persuasion-variously called “Rhetoric”, “the Art of Rhetoric”, or “Treatise on Rhetoric”. Rhetoricians regard Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” as the “most important single work on persuasion ever written.”

Much of what Aristotle had to say about persuasion is still evident and hard at work in good persuasive writing today-ethos (character, honesty, authority), logos (a plea or reason, logic, knowledge), and pathos (suffering, empathy, experience, an appeal to the emotions).

Powerfully persuasive writers understand that people buy on emotion and justify their purchase with logic.

Effective marketing material, blog posts, ads, flyers, brochures contain all of these elements, and more. This isn’t surprising because human motivations and dreams and desires haven’t changed all that much down through the centuries.

We all come into contact with copywriting every single day of our lives, whether we actually notice it or not.

And the best persuasive writing, also called “copy”, is not really noticeable.

He should have gone to Specsavers”, “Just Do It”, and “Probably the best beer in the world” are three instantly recognisable phrases that have entered into everyday speech in many parts of the world.

All of these phrases were lovingly crafted by superb copywriters who may have spent days and weeks just crafting the headline or punch line for advertising/promotional campaigns which cost millions.

But which have reaped vastly rich rewards for the companies involved.

So at its essence, writing copy is the skill and art of writing words that move people to believe what it is the copywriter has to say, and moving them to the point of taking action.

And the copywriter will be seeking to persuade the reader that their life will be more complete or they will make more money or gain more prestige or cure a particular problem or avoid a particular fear or be loved or gain recognition/status or secure inner peace or better health or obtain more free time…or whatever.

The vast majority of purchasers make their decision based on emotion, not logic, and then rationalize or justify their decision by logic.

So the initial appeal of the copywriter will be to one or more of the reader’s basic human emotions.

The Benefit of A Good Copywriter

A good copywriter will utilize all the principles of persuasion firstly identified by Aristotle, exploited by giants of advertising like Claude Hopkins, Eugene Schwartz, David Oglivy, and elaborated upon more recently by academic Dr. Robert Cialdini in his seminal work, “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion”.

He will also use attention grabbing headlines which will have you saying: “hey, he is talking to me”.

He will use desires, emotions, benefits, features, calls to action, guarantees, urgency, scarcity and various other tools of the persuasive trade.

If you are a small business owner, or you intend starting a small business you are in danger of making a huge mistake if you do not use the benefits of persuasive writing in your marketing/advertising materials and/or on your website.

To get started, take a look at the “About” page on your website.

Does this page make the most common mistake you will encounter with “About” pages all over the internet-a page focused not on the reader but on the writer and her achievements?

Does your “About” page answer the readers’ question: “what’s in it for me?”

Does it persuade the reader that you can help him?

Does your home page convince the reader that that she has landed in the right place in their online search?

Does it let your reader know that you are an authority in your area of expertise?

Does it give him a reason to contact you to make an enquiry or request a quotation or place an order?

Take a leaf from Aristotle’s book and employ the powerful weapons of emotion and logic.

Email Marketing for Small Business-What You Need to Know and the 2 Common Mistakes to Avoid

email-marketing-ireland

“The money is in the list”.

This is a phrase that you will read and hear regularly when you being to learn how to market online. “The list” is a list of subscribers generated from your website or blog.

And here’s a challenge for you: go to the website or blog of any guru, expert or thought leader in any aspect of social media marketing and observe what is the one thing they want you to do.

Yes, sign up for their list.

So they can engage with you, and convince and convert through email marketing.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyway, you may offer a “newsletter” as an incentive to get people to sign up.

But, quite frankly, this will be a waste of time because “newsletters” simply don’t cut it now: people don’t want industry news or news about you or your company.

They want to know “what’s in it for me if I sign up?”.

So, your ethical bribe must be genuinely useful to the subscriber.

This list, then, can be golden and one of the most valuable assets in your business, depending on your business, if you understand how to use email marketing properly.

Because email marketing, also known as autoresponder marketing, can be the most effective, cost efficient method of marketing your business.

This is especially true if you are a professional service provider such as solicitor, consultant, hr professional, barrister, accountant, marketing professional, trainer, etc.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

Firstly, you open an account with an autoresponder/email marketing provider such as Aweber or MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Once you open your account, which costs less than €20 per month, you load up your account, or more specifically your marketing campaign, with a series of emails.

These emails can be a series of helpful tips and information which would be helpful and informative for your target market.

You can set up as many messages or emails as you like and determine the intervals at which they go out to your customer/lead.

I would recommend writing your emails before asking anyone to sign up as a subscriber. This allows you to deliver real value from the outset rather than noticing that you have 10 subscribers at the end of the week and you are now wondering what to send them in your email.

Once you have written your first handful of emails you will need to build your list of subscribers.

To do this you need to create the valuable, ethical bribe I spoke about earlier.(More about that below).

You then create a form in your email software account and place the piece of code generated on your website. This allows visitors to submit their name and email to sign up and receive useful information, tips, solutions to problems, and so forth from you on a regular basis.

Once they have submitted this information your emails in your campaign which you will have set up already will receive your messages on autopilot.

Keep this at the forefront of your mind: your messages need to be useful and informative, not spammy or relentlessly “salesy”.

There’s nothing wrong with selling and it’s not a dirty word.

But you do need to build your authority and trust in the first place, and you need to earn the right to make a pitch.

Once your emails are useful, helpful and genuinely informative you will build trust with your leads and eventually convert a good percentage of them into loyal customers.

We all know that we buy more from people that we know and trust.

The purpose of the email series is to build a relationship and trust with your potential customers and those who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer.

How To Build Your List of Subscribers

The key to getting sign ups is to give something away for free in return for the name and email. This could be a short report or other freebie that would be of interest to your target market.

It must be of genuine value.

If you are in the diy market for example you could create a short, free report with valuable tips for refurbishing your bathroom or kitchen. Once the person submits their details they will automatically receive the report from your email/autoresponder provider.

If you an accountant you could do a report such as “6 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Tax Bill” or “How to Choose an Accountant/Financial Advisor for Your Business”.

An Irish Example of Email Marketing in Action

Take a look at my site http://EmploymentRightsIreland.com.

At the top and bottom of every page on the site you will see an email opt in form.

In return for giving their email address and becoming a subscriber, the visitor receives a
“free copy of “The 16 Common Employment Law Mistakes that Most Irish Employers Make” and my regular money saving employment law tips via email.”

This report appeals to both employers and employees and even though it is a simple, short report about common mistakes made by employers it still appeals to the visitor.

Because there is a benefit to the employer and an element of curiosity also-the employer is wondering whether he makes one of these 16 mistakes.

Once the reader signs up he also receives useful tips about employment law, pitfalls to avoid, common problems in employer/employee relations, and so forth.

As I write this today in September, 2015 I have over 2,000 subscribers to this list, and there are 62 email messages which go out on autopilot.

The messages are sent at intervals of 3-5 days but you can choose any interval period you wish-for example once weekly- and automate it.

You will see from the screenshot that there are currently over 1,100 subscribers to this list. And it just grows day after day on autopilot.

Email Marketing Benefits

The reality is nobody is going to buy from your website first time, especially if you are selling a high value product or service.

You will need multiple interactions to build the necessary trust and confidence from your lead.

But many leads simply won’t have the funds to buy first time, even if they are completely convinced that you are the right person for them and you understand their problem.

So you need a way to be there, or at least in their memory, when they are in a position to buy.

Blogging and email marketing is perfect for this.

The options for your email campaigns include sending your subscribers

  • Regular email newsletters (but you need more than news-you need to deliver real value)
  • Valuable hints and tips to help your subscriber with whatever problems they face in their daily life
  • Promotional material and special offers
  • Updates about changes in your company or organisation. However the likelihood is that nobody cares about your company, except maybe your competitors, or your significant other or your mother.

Remember: people are only interested in this question: “what’s in it for me”.

So if you are asking people to “sign up for our newsletter” with no benefit or reason for the reader to do so, you simply won’t get subscribers.

This is why the valuable “freebie” is essential to grow your list.

Features of Email Marketing

Once you do begin to grow your list, no matter how small, the benefits are obvious and immediate:

1. It’s a cost effective way of communicating with your subscribers, fans, potential customers/clients and existing clients;

2. Easily target specific groups of your list members with messages specifically for them;

3. The results are measurable with great reporting statistics about how many people received and opened your message, how many clicks on any links in your message, and so on.

A Good Email Marketing Strategy

A good email marketing strategy should be about delivering value to your subscribers and not spamming them. Genuinely helpful tips and information for your target market about dealing with their particular “pain” is vital.

The best and most effective email marketing strategy in the long run is to use email to build a relationship with your list, demonstrate your company’s trust and authority and increase the lifetime value of each subscriber on your list.

Banging out email pitches in a relentless way will only see the number of complaints and unsubscribed from your list render your email marketing counterproductive.

Getting new subscribers onto your list should be the principal goal of your website/blogging efforts.

2 Widespread Email Marketing Mistakes

The 2 common mistakes, as you will no doubt have learned, are

1. Encouraging people to “sign up for our newsletter”-this isn’t good enough.

Nobody wants to know that you have a new product or a new secretary or a new; the reader wants to know what’s in it for her if she signs up. Will you make her life easier, will you show him how to make more money, will you tell him how to reduce costs, will you give her some useful tips to become more popular, appreciated, loved?

2. Bombarding your subscribers with promotions and sales pitches; what you need to do is build trust and authority by providing helpful, useful information for your readers to help them solve their common problems.

What To Do To Get Started

To get started today, think about 5-10 things that your potential clients worry about and consider carefully how you could help them if they were subscribers to your list.

These 5-10 things would form the basis of your first emails to your new list members.

You then need to create the valuable gift or ethical bribe to get visitors to sign up and the emails themselves.

Can’t think of 5-10 things that worries your potential client/customer?

Think of the 1 thing that keeps her awake at night.

Yes, 1 thing, and show her how to reduce or eliminate the fear.

 

If you want to see email marketing in action you can sign up for my list on this site, or this one, or any of these free reports on this page.

 

21 Surprising Reasons Why Every Small Business Should Have a Simple Blog or Website

blogging-for-business

Don’t have a website or blog?

An easy to navigate, informative blog is all you need to establish you or your business as a trusted authority.

If you are a small business owner and you don’t have a business blog or website you should take the 5 minutes it takes to read this page.

Because it will be well worth your while.

You may be a doctor, a hairdresser, a beauty salon owner, a car dismantler, a tyre replacement business, involved in waste disposal, a carpenter or plumber, a florist, involved in ladies fashions, a barber, in construction or a tradesman, a dog groomer, vet, accountant, architect, butcher…it really doesn’t matter what business you are involved in.

Or maybe you don’t have an existing business but you are thinking about starting one up.

One of the things that might hold you back from having a website is that you may be thinking..

…“I am not technical minded”, “I don’t know anything about that whole interweb thing”, “I haven’t a clue about social networks”, “I am afraid of being ripped off”, “I don’t know where to start”, “I don’t know what I need”, “I don’t know what a search engine is”.

These fears are entirely understandable.

I was in your shoes too once and understand your concerns all too well. And they are entirely groundless.

Let me explain: you see, there are web designers who are “tech people” who are turned on by graphic design, coding, html, css, and so on.

Small business owners like you and me are only really concerned with what a website can do  in terms of growing your business.

The good news is that you don’t need to invest a huge amount of money for a fancy, technologically advanced site.

Fancy design is not necessary

What’s far more important is what’s actually on your site-is there helpful, informative information for your visitors?

A simple site or blog crammed with useful information for your visitors, and which is easy to navigate, is all you need.

Let me explain some benefits-21 in fact-of having a website or blog for your business, no matter how small it might be today.

  1. Lifetime value of one customer

Assume for one moment that your business is in a pretty small Irish town and you discover that there are very few people in your area searching for what your business has to offer.

For example “accountants Mullingar”, according to the Google keyword tool, is only searched 12 times per month in Ireland. You may assume that there is no point therefore having a website for your accountants business located in Mullingar or, if you already have one, ranking near the top of the search engine results page for that phrase.

But of course the lifetime value of one new client per month could be quite significant over the course of that client’s lifetime and the lifetime of your accountant’s practice.

  1. Being the top dog in your local market

When someone does search for “accountants Mullingar” do you want to be top dog or are you happy to let your competitor snap up that business. So even though the market may be relatively small in search engine terms it would be the height of folly to leave your competitor have the field to him/herself.

  1. Web address on your stationery

People who might consider doing business with you expect you to have a website-having a web address on all your correspondence, business cards, direct marketing materials, advertising, and so on will give your business a much more professional corporate image.

  1. Somewhere to refer your advertising traffic

Advertising is expensive and advertising in local newspapers or magazines is charged by the word and space; with a website you can run economical small ads and refer readers to your website where space is unlimited and you can tell your potential customers what you wish.

  1. Works around the clock for your business

A website will not need to be paid like an employee even though it works around the clock for you. You will never need to worry about holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay, hangovers on a Monday morning, or any of the other problems that arise from time to time with humans.

  1. Demonstrating and explaining products

A website gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate and explain your products and/or services. You can do this by text, video, audio, PowerPoint, or whatever you choose.

  1. Contact details

All your contact details are always available.

  1. Video

You can utilize video to market yourself or your business, carry out demonstrations, educate, entertain..try doing that with the Westmeath Examiner.

  1. Images

A picture can be worth a thousand words.

And you can use unlimited amounts of images.

A hairdresser’s business can be greatly enhanced with plenty of photos showing examples of the various cuts and hair treatments you provide. And a picture can replace a thousand words..

  1. List building for newsletter

You can build a list of subscribers and let them know of special offers, build a relationship with them and always ensure that your business is in the forefront of their mind when they do decide to purchase.

  1. Automated Appointment booking

You could set up an automated appointment making system for people seeking suitable times for whatever treatment/consultation they require.

  1. Restricted area for employees

You can create a restricted area, a forum for example, for your employees on the ground to exchange ideas and information.

  1. Customer queries

You can encourage and answer customer/potential customer queries and questions.

  1. Frequently asked questions

A comprehensive frequently asked questions section on your website can be very helpful in assisting potential and existing customers..and saving valuable staff time in answering the most common ones by phone or email.

  1. Eliminate buyer’s remorse

Many buyers suffer from “buyer’s remorse”; if your new customer is having second thoughts about their purchase or your business a good, professional website to which they can refer can be reassuring.

  1. Tell people about you, your business, and your employees

Your site can let people know more about you, your expertise, your business, and your employees. And you are in complete control of this valuable information which will be available around the clock.

  1. Special offers only available online

Your website will allow you to make certain special offers available online only. This can be a great way to also generate new subscribers for your newsletter. (Your newsletter by the way can be delivered electronically or physically or both ways).

  1. Shopping cart

Setting up a shopping cart on a website is very easy nowadays with many secure payment options allowing you to grow your market and reduce the need to carry physical stock.

  1. Damaging reviews on first page of Google

You lessen the chances of a crappy review from a dissatisfied customer ranking no. 1 in the search results when your business is searched for.

Without a website there is a strong chance of this happening when the searcher looks for your business. With a website telling allowing you to put your best foot forward the chances of your site ranking above the poor review is much, much higher.

  1. Product brochure

Your website can also serve as a comprehensive product brochure for all your business’s products and services. This can easily be added to over time by your own secretarial and/or receptionist staff in less quieter periods.

  1. Professional appearance

No matter how small you business might be right now your potential new clients or leads will fully expect you to have a website. It gives reassurance to your customer/lead and demonstrates that they are dealing with a professional.

What sort of message do you give your leads when looking to generate new customers and you have not invested in a website for your business? Would this be a turn off for your potential customers? I fear so.

Having a Facebook page is fine. But everyone knows that anyone can set up a Facebook page for free. You need to consider whether this is going through your leads mind when you are speaking to them.

Don’t misunderstand me: having a website is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all your problems and it will not give your business all the drive and impetus it needs. That is up to you..

But it is an essential for any business that wants to be taken seriously and be seen as a business on the move, a business that is professional and serious about it’s approach to serving it’s customers.