Whether you work with clients only locally and in-person or internationally via phone and internet, as a Trainer, Coach or Consultant you need to market your business online.
According to ConstantContact, 84% of people say that the biggest difference in small businesses between now and five years ago is the use of more online marketing tools.
When you consider that as of June 2014 there were 3,035 million internet users in the world (source), why would you not take advantage of the opportunity to market your business to these internet users?
In this series of articles, I’m going to talk about why you need a website and blog, the current reality of mobile websites, the benefits of having testimonials, why you should create videos, the use of email marketing, as well as how to get more traffic to your website and grow your email list through the use of free gifts, your blog, social media, teleseminars/webinars/telesummits, and more.
All of these play an important factor in marketing your business online, including expanding your reach, creating awareness about your business, growing your email list, educating your audience, establishing the “Know, Like, Trust Factor,” and consistently attracting ideal clients.
In part one, I’m going to start with websites and blogs.
In 2013, Open Forum reported on various survey results and stated that 52% of small business owners don’t have a website and, of those that do, 70% of small business websites have NO call to action on their website. They say, “If you don’t have a website, your business will become increasingly invisible, until it vanishes altogether.”
I can understand that there are still a lot of small business owners who don’t have a website, but 70% who do don’t have a call to action? If you fall under one of these statistics, you’re missing out on a big opportunity! Your website represents your business online and 44% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine! (Source – 2012)
These days you need a website, and you need to tell people what you want them to do when they land on it! Do you want them to enter their name and email for a free gift (allowing you to build your email list)? Do you want them to sign up for a complimentary strategy or discovery session? Do you want them to buy something? Do you want them to read something? Do you want them to comment on a blog post? Do you want them to share something on social media? Every page of your website should be optimized with a call to action.
As of 2012, 49% of sites failed to comply with basic usability principles, and 50% of online sales were lost because visitors couldn’t find content. (Source – 2012)
Make it easy for people to find what they need! Have a contact page with a contact form and your contact information. Have your contact information available on every page of your website (name, email, phone number, address – if applicable). Don’t make people search for it – because they won’t!!
Have a clearly laid out menu of pages that are well organized in content. In addition to a Contact page, you may have any of the following: an About page, a Products and/or Services page, a Testimonials page, a Media page, a Blog page, etc. Don’t forget your social media icons, as some people will look for them so they can connect with you on social media.
You may also consider including a search bar to help people find the information they are looking for!
Why is it extremely important to have a blog on your website? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines (source – 2013) and companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads.
In 2011, Hubspot said, “Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic – The more you blog, the more pages Google has to index, and the more inbound links you’re likely to have. The more pages and inbound links you have, the higher you rank on search engines like Google—thus the greater amount of traffic to your website.
Blog-growth.com stated in 2013 that blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links!
Frequent, fresh, original content is what is going to help give you that increased traffic to your website, and more subjects and keywords to be found for in the search engine results. If your ideal client has a question, what are they likely going to do? Google it! When they do, you want them to find your articles in the search engine that answer their questions and address their concerns.
After all, content creation is ranked the single most effective SEO (search engine optimization) technique by 53% (source – 2013).
Having an active blog will educate your readers and potential clients, but it’s going to position you as a knowledgeable leader in your field and it will give you content that you can repurpose to use over and over again (social media content, free gifts, paid products and programs, and more).
Do you have a website? If you do, do you have clear contact information, a well-organized menu, a blog with fresh content, social media icons and, most importantly, a call to action? Tell me about it below!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of How to Market Your Business Online to Find More Clients. I’ll be addressing mobile-friendly websites and email marketing next.
There are so many things to consider when choosing a domain name, some of which can impact traffic to your site. Your domain name is essentially your website URL or address. Here are six tips to help you when you are choosing a domain to buy for your website.
- KEYWORDS – Is it important to keep your keywords in mind when choosing your domain name? Yes and no. It used to be very important for SEO (search engine optimization), but not so much now. If you have too many keywords stuffed in there, you risk having your website tagged as spam. If you can combine your brand with a keyword or two, that would be ideal. What do you have or offer that people will be searching for? Generally, you should avoid using your name as your domain name, unless you plan to market your name as a brand. Is anyone going to be specifically searching for your name? If so, good for you! Go for it.
- LENGTH – Avoid extremely long domain names. You want it to be easy to remember and easy to type. If it takes too long to type it in, people may not bother or they won’t remember it. The longer it is, the more difficult it will be to type in on smart phones, so keep that in mind too.
- HYPHENS– Hyphens are not a great idea. Some people just don’t like hyphens in website addresses, particularly smart/mobile phone users, as it gives them problems when they are trying to type the address.
Google, in particular, has shown that it is very good at distinguishing multiple words that are put together, so it’s no longer necessary to use them to separate words, and testing has also shown that Google often penalizes domains that contain hyphens! Many spam sites use lots of hyphens in their domain names, so there is a risk of your site getting categorized as spam by mistake (that shouldn’t happen if you have a quality site with quality content, but some tests done by pros have shown otherwise)..
However, the hyphen does act as a space, and sometimes it may be necessary to use one for clarity purposes..
If you already have hyphens in your domain name and it seems to be ranking well, but you find that people tend to forget to type them in or that it is a problem when verbalizing your website URL, there is another trick. Keep your hyphenated domain as your main domain address, but register another domain without the hyphens that is easy for people to remember, then redirect that domain to your website. You can use this simpler domain in all of your marketing materials..
Hyphens are routinely used for subdomains, such as for blog posts. If you look at the URL for this blog post, it is http://thevirtualsolution.com/choosing-a-domain-name. This is perfectly fine and it helps readability..
It is not recommended to use underscores in domains and subdomains ( _ ), as they do not work the same way in separating words for the search engines, so avoid using them in domain names.
- SOCIAL MEDIA – It’s a good idea to try to register the same vanity name, when possible, with the major social media sites, even if you won’t be using them yet. At least then you have them reserved so someone else can’t take them. With my old branding, all of my social media accounts except Twitter are /transcribble. That was already taken on Twitter, so I had to go with /transcribble_va. The benefit of having them all the same is that it makes it easier for anyone who is interested to quickly find you on all of the social media sites.
- EXTENSIONS– What extension should you go with? The .com extension is the most common and well-known extension in North America. When someone is typing in a website address, the first extension they think to try is .com. Therefore, I definitely recommend choosing a .com. If you are in Canada, also consider getting the same name in .ca.
“What if the .com name I want is already taken. Can I then go with another extension?” You can, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. In my case, I did. I already had my business established and I was ready to move from my free blog with a (http://transcribble.wordpress.com) to a paid hosting and domain. I wanted to keep it as short and similar as possible, and because I am in Canada, I decided to go with http://transcribble.ca. I really wanted transcribble.com, but it was already taken. I decided to take the chance and hope that maybe in the future, I might be able to get the .com as well. It doesn’t really matter now anyway because my branding and business name has changed..
In the case of my .ca website, it may be a little confusing for people who are most accustomed to .com, as they may type in the wrong extension and be unable to find my site. I know that similar things have happened with my email. Clients sent an email message to transcribble.com rather than transcribble.ca, and then wondered why I didn’t respond..
I could have gone with a variation, like Transcribbleva.com. For search engine purposes, Transcribblevirtualassistance.com would have been great, but in my opinion, that is way too long.
- REGISTRARS – What registrars should you use? One of the most popular and affordable ones is GoDaddy.com. I have no problem with using them for purchasing a domain, but I do not recommend them at all for hosting! (I recommend HostGator or BlueHost for hosting your website.) Because I wanted a .ca domain, I had to look a little harder for an affordable and reliable Canadian source. I found Hover and have been very happy with them. They also sell the .com and other extensions.
Can you just buy your domain through your hosting company? Sure. It may or may not be as good a price and it may make it more complicated if you want to move your hosting to a different company. If you buy your domain separately, then you have more control over it and it is easier for you, your web master or virtual assistant to direct your new hosting account to that domain name. Otherwise, you may have to pay a transfer fee from your old hosting company to your new one.
If you’re not the techie type, I can help you get your domain, website and blog installed and set up for you as quickly as possible. Services are available in both hourly rates and packages, which can be customized for your needs. For more information on a few packages that I offer see: WordPress Setup and Management
There are two types of WordPress platforms, and most technical-type Virtual Assistants are very familiar with the difference between the two.
This is a free blogging platform that uses WordPress.org’s open source platform to run its blogging service, and it’s hosted by WordPress. The domain (web address/URL) is provided by WordPress.com and looks something like http://yourwebsite.wordpress.com.
It comes with a lot of restrictions. After all, you don’t expect them to give you their best service with free hosting, do you? 😉 You can choose from the free themes and widgets that they offer. Plugins and video uploads are not allowed.
Because of all the restrictions and the unprofessional URL, WordPress.com is not recommended for businesses, and it is against their terms of service to use the free blogs for business purposes (although many people do).
You can choose to upgrade to their paid hosting to get access to all of the features. I don’t recommend this option because others have had various negative experiences in doing that.
If you haven’t yet been convinced about how powerful the WordPress Open Source Platform is, you will be soon. By using WordPress to build your website you’ll be joining some large corporations, universities and many thousands of small businesses who already know how fabulous WordPress is. WordPress is the most commonly used website platform in the coaching community because of it’s flexibility in design and use.
Because WordPress is so very popular, you will likely be able to find expert help at an affordable price. It should be no problem to find a Virtual Assistant who is an expert in WordPress setup, design and security.
The WordPress software itself is free, as are many templates, themes and plugins. Templates and themes are the overall design of the site. You simply purchase or get a free theme and modify it to meet your needs. I strongly recommend purchasing a quality theme for increased support and security.
Plugins give WordPress extra functionality. There are thousands of plugins, including social media, security, shopping carts, membership sites, message boards, RSS feeds and much, much more. The possibilities are truly endless with WordPress.
WordPress is also extremely search engine friendly! Many people say that Google loves WordPress. It’s setup in such a way that even a novice, with the right plugins, can put in SEO features such as meta tags and descriptions. With WordPress, you can easily incorporate a blog right into your website, which will also help you rank higher in the Google search results. Additionally, creating a website with various types of layouts is easy.
A magazine type layout is just a click away with WordPress as a content management system. If you want to run a local business directory, simply find a theme or template that is already set up with the right look and plugins to do the type of functions you desire. Editing and creating new pages for your site is as easy as sending an email, and there is nothing to download. Everything can be accomplished via a web browser.
To use the basic features of WordPress, you don’t need to be a coder or know anything about HTML. The most important thing is to find the right theme and plugins to create your own look to showcase your brand and unique selling proposition.
Most people, once they learn how to use WordPress, are literally able to build a site and have it up and running within hours. There are tutorials available on the WordPress.org site. If you can follow directions and learn to work with cPanel, you’re ready to get started!
If you need help getting your WordPress website or blog up and running, check out my WordPress Virtual Assistance Services.