Category Archives: grow-your-business

How to Create 10x Content

  What is 10x content? Or have you ever tried to create one? It’s not easy, is it? Knowing how and where to start can often be the biggest obstacle you’ll face. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about how good, unique content is going to die, and how you can develop your own 10x content to help it along.       The video at bottom of this page will explains in more detail.      

Some Criteria For 10x Content.

Basically, the criteria for 10 times better than what anyone else is doing is the following.  
  • It has to have great UI and UX on any device.
  • That content is generally a combination of high quality, trustworthy, it’s useful, interesting, and remarkable. It doesn’t have to be all of those but some combination of them.
  • It’s got to be considerably different in scope and in detail from other works that are serving the same visitor or user intent.
  • It’s got to create an emotional response. I want to feel awe. I want to feel surprise. I want to feel joy, anticipation, or admiration for that piece of content in order for it to be considered 10x.
  • It has to solve a problem or answer a question by providing that comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources.
  • It’s got to deliver content in a unique, remarkable, typically unexpectedly pleasurable style or medium.
If you hit all of these things, you probably have yourself a piece of 10x content. It’s just very hard to do. That’s what we’re talking about today. What’s a process by which we can get to checking off all these boxes?

Step 1 – Gain deep insight.

Gain deep insight into the core of why people are interested in this topic.

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Step 2 – We have to get unique.

Consider unique angles on the problem.

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Step 3 – Uncover powerful methods to provide an answer.

Uncover powerful, hard-to-replicate, high quality methods to provide an answer.

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Step 4 – Find a unique, powerful, exceptional way to present this content.

Expect to succeed 1/5 – 1/10 times. Practice and Experimentation are the only ways to  get good.

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The Importance of Actually Being Online

You’ve heard it time and time again – you need to have a website. You need to have Facebook. You need to do this, you need to do that.

They always bundle this in with the blanket statement that you “need to be online.” Everyone says it but very few people actually take it at its literal meaning. They think that because they have a website with a logo on it, that they’re somehow “online.” They think that because a couple of people have Liked their Facebook page, that they’re “online.”

They might have a few of the bare essentials but we think that the statement that you actually need to be online means something completely different, and so much more. To us, being online actually means existing. It means having a presence. It means that a personality is coming through the screen that identifies you as a company.

Beings have all of these things. They have their own individual personas. They have distinct personalities that separate them from one another.

Companies that have actually figured out what it means to be online are companies that don’t have customers – they have fans. They don’t have consumers that they cater to – they have advocates that work to sell their products for them at no cost by sharing the company’s content through their social streams.

As consumers, we’ve become very good at picking up on when a company is actually putting effort into their online existence and when it’s just something they’re doing because someone told them that they should be doing it.

You’ve seen the fakers – you know who they are. They are the companies that do nothing but post outward-bound messages and don’t engage with the messages and feedback that come back to them. They are the companies whose websites look like they were put together by a friend of the family rather than making the investment in quality code and design that will stand the test of time.

Actually being online means that a consumer is just as likely to visit your company’s website as they are likely to visit a friend’s blog. It means that a link from your company in their social stream carries just as much weight as something sent out by someone they know.

It shows the personality of your product and the culture of your company – it’s an illustration of the kind of lifestyle that’s made possible through your product or service.

We all have favorite companies – those companies whose products have won our loyalty because of how they make us feel, either about ourselves or about our relationship with the company as a customer. Take a few minutes and visit a few of those companies online. Look at their websites and their social streams and figure out what it is about them that makes you feel good about doing business with them.

After you’re done, take a look at your own presence and ask yourself: do I have a website or am I actually online?

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Build a Website

Now, more than ever, customers and clients understand that their website is the face of their business to the rest of the world. More than just a platform that they can use to display their company’s basic information, their website can show potential customers and clients exactly who a company is before even picking up the phone.

That said, a lot of people don’t give this incredibly important aspect of their business the attention that it requires. There are a few aspects that need to be taken into consideration whenever you’re considering having a website built. Leave one of them out and you might have have just left out the customer that could have turned a good year into a great year.

Design. Your site’s design is critical. Modern consumers want an experience on the web that makes them comfortable. Your site should be easy on the eyes. Information should flow smoothly. Text should be sized appropriately. Colors, shapes, and other visual elements should add to the design of the site, not take away from it or force a particular concept.

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Design is a part of everyday life now. Your website is no different.

Content. Your content needs to reflect what your company stands for and who your company “is.” It is a direct reflection of your corporate personality. The web is overflowing with cookie cutter content these days – make yours stand apart!

If you’re a good writer, harness that to take the message of your company directly to your clients, customers, and prospects. If you’re not (and there’s no shame in admitting it) then find someone that can tell your story the way you want it told and then let them be your voice.

Your content is what is going to get people to trust you. It will build your authority and it will turn visitors into customers. Content is not to be taken lightly.

Search Engine Optimization. The best website in the world is useless if no one can find it. You need to make sure that your site is using the latest best practices to ensure that it is being indexed properly by all of the major search engines. SEO is not a small undertaking. It encompasses content and headings just as much as it does file names, back end code, and server settings.

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Flexibility. If your site were to suddenly get significantly more traffic than usual, how long would it take your host to adjust to your new needs? Make sure that your hosting infrastructure can support your needs for both the short term and the long term. Losing out on a $20,000 day because your host couldn’t keep up and keep your site online is a missed opportunity you won’t soon forget.

If you think that your host and your web developer meets these criteria, then you are far ahead of the curve. If you don’t and you’d like to discuss how we may be able to help augment your business, then we would love to talk with you.

Best Ways to Promote Visitor Engagement on Your Website

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One of the things we’ve talked about on this blog is the marketing power of your website. A well designed site is like a marketing department that is working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides so much more than just your business’ name, address, hours, and phone number; it is a direct line into your business itself.

Every word that a visitor reads is a word that brings them closer to making a purchase decision. A properly worded website can take a visitor from being a “window shopper” to ready to buy before they even reach out to contact you personally.

But, there are other ways to harness the power and benefits that your website can provide. Communication is a two-way street. If you’re not taking information in about your business, then you’re essentially flying blind. How can you know what your customers, visitors, readers, and prospective clients want if you don’t ask them?

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There are a number of ways of soliciting this feedback. In many cases, it is how you ask for it, or the avenues that you make available to collect it, that determine the success of your engagement strategy.

One of the first and most basic is the survey. Sometimes, the easiest way to get feedback on a particular topic is to simply ask for it. Develop questionnaires for your customers. Develop questionnaires for customers that bought from you one time and didn’t return. Develop questionnaires for your website visitors.

Response rates to surveys are generally low and the lower the number of questions you ask, the higher the likelihood of getting a response. People are busy and their time is limited. And, by answering your survey, you are asking them, frankly, for a donation. You are asking them to donate their valuable time in order to help you make your business better.

Second, solicit feedback via your social media channels. There are a number of ways to use social, particularly Facebook, to engage customers. Twitter has its uses but its character restrictions limit its actual usefulness for valuable survey feedback. Instead, use Twitter to send out links to your online surveys or a contact page within your own website. Google+ actually implemented surveys in their status updates recently, however, its limited use in the social market limits its overall usefulness to you. Facebook has broad reach and a number of engagement channels available. If you’re going to target social for customer feedback, start with Facebook.

Like anything else, if you don’t ask for feedback, you won’t get it. However, when you do ask, you’d be amazed at how open people can become. Some of what you’ll be told will have value and some, honestly, will not. But, in the end, you’ll have a view into the thoughts of your customers that you did not have just a few minutes ago.

Try a survey or a blog question on your next update and start a dialogue with your customers. The end result might really surprise you.

How Google Finds Your Website: A Quick SEO Primer

The search world found itself in a little bit of an uproar this week as Mobilegeddon struck. Google rolled out a change to its algorithm that prioritized sites that are mobile-friendly over sites that aren’t. This sent site owners scrambling to ensure that their sites wouldn’t lose any of the ranking they had built up over time.

It also got a lot of people wondering how, exactly, search works. Everyone has run a Google search. Few have actually considered what goes into making the results that are displayed once you hit Enter.

It’s all about the algorithm.

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Google’s algorithm is the result of years of constant improvement and tweaking. Once simply used to determine how many times keywords showed up on a web page, the engine now uses hundreds of factors to determine how relevant a particular site is to a particular user. Keywords still play a role but theyare just one factor in a vast sea of factors, or signals, that are used.

So, how does it all come together?

Explaining that would take a really long time! But, in a nutshell, Google deploys pieces of software called crawlers and spiders to the vast majority of the sites on the internet. These pieces of code “read” your website and key parts of the back end code that powers it. Using what they find, the crawlers then report their findings back to the Google search algorithm which takes all of the information, analyzes it, and stores it.

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No, not this type of crawler!

When you bring up the search engine and enter your search terms, the software takes them and, knowingwhat it knows about the sites in its index, builds a list of sites ordered by relevance and displays that list for you.

Relevance is determined by hundreds of factors and the algorithm is updated hundreds of times throughout the year. Key factors include keywords, number of links into that content from authoritative sources, social signals, geographic proximity, and how much authority a particular domain has on various topics.

All of this happens in a fraction of a second.

How Can I Maximize the Chance of My Website Ranking Well?

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This is a process called search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO takes what we know about Google and uses it to do everything possible on a webpage to encourage the search engine to rank one site over another.

One of the keys to modern SEO is creating high quality content that encourages people to share it or to link to it. Those who simply stuff their content full of keywords in today’s search environment will find themselves at the bottom of the index or completely de-indexed as a result. The algorithm is capable of making penalizing decisions on its own. At the same time, manual actions by Google employees themselves can be made that will penalize a site if the algorithm misses somethingg.

You should make sure that the topic of a particular page is very clear. Well written content is key here, but, there are also some back end strategies that can use the code of your website to answer all of Google’s questions regarding what it will find on your site.

Being found and indexed with a search engine shares a key aspect of running a brick and mortar store: make it easy for customers to find you and to spend their money. If either of those things are difficult, the customer will move on. The same holds true for Google: it focuses on the sites that make its job the easiest. With over a billion pages to index, it’s too busy to do otherwise.

What If I Need Help?

A qualified web development agency can easily set the ball in motion to improve your search engine ranking and increase the odds of you ranking over your competitors. A lot has changed over the years in search and only those that have stayed current will know the best strategies and methods to keep you competitive. Ask your agency what they do to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and techniques and ensure that they focus on playing by Google’s rules. Using so called “black hat” techniques, while perhapsproviding an initial boost in search traffic, will eventually result in penalties. Build your site’s authority cleanly and gradually and you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts for years to come.

E-Commerce vs. Brick and Mortar: Should You Close the Doors?

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There’s no denying that we are living in some interesting economic times. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either the best of times or the worst of times for business. Regardless of the economic climate however, one thing remains true: business owners need to constantly look at ways to maximize profits.

Businesses that bring a productto market rather than a service have an additional layer of thought to consider when looking at their books every month. Costs associated with running a physical location for selling a product, also known as a brick and mortar store, eat into profits every time rent or the power bill comes due. And, at some point, every brick and mortar store owner has asked themselves, “should I just go with a 100% e-commerce solution?”

It’s hard not to consider it. Some of the most successful retailers on the planet don’t have a single storefront that you could walk into. Years ago, who would have thought that you could sit in your living room, tap a few keys, and make a box appear in your mailbox just 3 days later?

There are no rental fees associated with an e-commerce solution. No power bills, no water bills; no costs associated with your security system. All you need to do is pay to make sure the servers stay running and the packages keep getting shipped out. It seems like a dream come true for many.

At the same time, there are some negatives associated with going strictly e-commerce. Some customers demand the kind of service and attention that can only be had when you’re standing in someone’s store and can ask them questions directly. Smaller, more boutique stores that have a presence in a local area may see their customer base fall off drastically if those customers can’t shop in person. Depending on the relationships you’ve cultivated with your most loyal customers, the move to an e-commerce solution could do more harm than good.

If, however, you believe that offering your products on a wider scale would be beneficial to your business but you don’t want to lose your physical presence in your local community, a mixed solution might be the answer you’re looking for. Many businesses have seen success by expanding their operations to include a shipping department in order to open doors to sales they otherwise would not have had. A properly executed e-commerce solution in these cases can augment a business’ sales for an investment that could be made back in a relatively short amount of time.

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No one knows your customers like you do and the decision to move away from brick and mortar or to modify your current sales practices is not one to be made lightly. However, once that decision is made, a qualified e-commerce service provider can make a tremendous difference in the user experience of your new global customer base.

 

The 3 Worst Case Scenarios When Running Your Own Website

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We’ve already talked about the design challenges that can come up when you try to build your own website. In your mind, so long as there’s a web page that has your basic information on it, why would your visitors want anything else? But, as we know, today’s internet-based customers demand more; much more. A site owner that doesn’t pay close attention to the design of their site may be doing their business more harm than good.

But, there are other pitfalls to running your own website and some of them can be severe. The next time you think about taking on the responsibility of your global web presence, ask yourself what you would do in these situations.

Your Host Has Gone Out of Business

You log on to your computer in the morning and bring up your website, only to find that it’s not there. You try refreshing the page; same thing. Thinking that maybe it’s just a small hiccup with your hosting provider, you decide to wait for 10 minutes and then try again. Same thing.

So you go to your host’s support site to get their phone number or put in a ticket. Their site is down as well. You remember that you called them a month ago about an issue so you pull out your phone and start scrolling through all of your sent calls. Finally finding them, you dial the number and receive a message that the number is no longer in service.

They have gone out of business, seemingly overnight, and you no longer have a website. What do you do?

Your Site Was Hacked

The phones are ringing off the hook. Irrate customers are calling and shouting about the grotesque images being displayed on your homepage. One woman’s seven-year old can be heard crying in the background. Panicked, you bring up your site only to find that your once family-friendly e-commerce site has been replaced by some of the worst that the internet has to offer.

Customers are vowing never to do business with you again. Some are threatening to have the local police show up at your door. More than one has mentioned that, since going to your site, the anti-virus on their own computer has been going ballistic.

Not only is your site causing problems for your visitors but these were people that were planning on spending money with you. You are losing money every second.

What do you do?

Dropped From Google Results

You’ve seen a number of posts on tech sites about an algorithm change coming out of Google in the near future. It’s predicted to have a significant impact on sites working in the housing and finance space, which just happens to be your business.

Being a semi-savvy site owner, you’ve kept up to date on how your site ranks against your competitors and you smile every time you Google a particular phrase and see your site on the screen.

A day after the change rolls out you Google your trusty phrase, only to be left wondering where your site is in the listings. You click to the next page. And the next. And the next.

After searching through fifteen pages of Google search results you still haven’t seen your site.

Organic traffic accounted for more than 80% of your sales. What do you do?

You Need Experts on Your Side

We wouldn’t blame you if pondering any of these scenarios gives you a little bit of a restless night tonight. Any one of them could be devastating to the business you have worked so hard to build.

Don’t leave the future of your business tied to the hope that nothing will ever break on your website. Technology being what it is, there is always the chance that, at some point, you are going to need the help of experts to put you back in business after a technical glitch knocks you offline.

When every second counts, do you know how you’d respond in a crisis? If you have any doubts in your mind about answering that question with a resounding and confident “yes!” then give us a call. We’ll craft and implement a crisis response plan for you that puts your mind at ease and ensures that, in the event of technical difficulties, you’re back up and running as quickly as humanly possible.

3 Reasons Why Online Reputation Management Matters to You

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1. In the digital age, everyone has a voice

The old adage is that if someone has a good experience with your company, they’ll tell a couple of people about it. But, if they have a bad experience with your company, they are far more likely to tell 5 or more people about it.

I know that I try to break the mold where this is concerned. I try to sing the praises of as many companies as I can because I believe that good customer service, a great team, or a superior product deserves recognition. At the same time, I haven’t hesitated to verbally destroy companies who have treated me poorly. Parties are an interesting time for this to happen. Nothing quite beats the feeling that washes over you when 15 people vow not to purchase a car from a particular dealership because of an experience you had. I still smile when I think about the math on that one.

The idea of customers broadcasting their experiences with your company, however, has now entered a time when anyone with a keyboard; be it on a smartphone, tablet, computer, or any other connected device, can influence the decision of others. And, when these reviews from the general public are posted next to reviews of similar companies, just half a star can be enough to take money out of your bottom line and put it in your competitors pockets.

Online reputation management is the practice of ensuring that your customers become your biggest advocates and maximizes the likelihood that all customers, not just those who have a less-than-stellar experience with you, will take to the internet to let the world know just how good you are at what you do.

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2. It affects your search engine rankings

Your reputation score affects more than just the behavior of your potential customers. Businesses that are routinely ranked poorly by customers can see their search rankings suffer as a result. As we know, it is the goal of search engines to provide high-quality and relevant information to those who use their services. Ranking companies that are known to provide poor service above companies who provide stellar service is the same as ranking spammy, low-quality content higher than content that adds value.

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3. Satisfied customers shouldn’t be a silent majority

Customers who are dissatisfied are far more likely to speak out than satisfied customers. This can skew your online reputation in favor of the negative voices. That’s why it’s so important to make it easy for happy customers to let the world know how good their experience was.

If you are bad at what you do and fail to treat customers with the respect they deserve, then no amount of online reputation management can help you. However, try as we might as businesses, It is nearly impossible to please every single customer every single time. Invariably, something will happen – sometimes even beyond our control – and it will trigger a negative response from a customer. How your online reputation management team responds to such an event can make a difference to so many aspects of your business.

Don’t lose business simply because your satisfied customers remain a silent majority. Talk to us about how an online reputation management campaign can boost your visibility, search rankings, public perception, and overall bottom line.

Have You Considered What Inbound Marketing Can Do For Your Business?

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The design and development of your website is finished and you can’t wait to see it online. Congratulations! You’ve crossed a major hurdle to getting your business noticed and starting to draw in customers that you otherwise might not have been able to access.

But, simply having the site online isn’t enough. If it was, the web would be a collection of websites that all looked the same and had the same things on them.

As a business owner with an online presence, you have an opportunity available to you that business owners from years back wouldn’t have imagined possible in their wildest dreams. See, those business owners could only take out ads in newspapers, magazines, and other print media. They could only talk to radio executives about how much it would cost for a 30 second radio commercial when the most people might be listening. They could only take their pick of billboards on the highway and then hope that the right person saw it as they were driving by – and was able to remember the information on it by the time they got home.

In short, the business owner of the past was only able to choose from a bunch of options that essentially accomplished the same exact task: the broadcasting of a message to as large a collection of people as possible in the hope that enough people bought from them because of that advertisement that they recouped the money they spent on it.

Today, that methodology has been flipped completely upside down. Today’s marketers and advertisers know that the best way to ensure that your marketing is effective is to determine who your ideal customer is and then market directly to that person. You don’t need everyone to hear your message, you only need the people who want what you’re selling to hear your message.

And, we live in a time when people search for what they want, when they want it. Either by mobile or by desktop, today’s consumer has instant access to an endless array of products and services and hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors that want to sell it to them.

When a consumer engages in such a search, the message that you want them to hear is one that establishes you as an authority in your given business area. It is one that shows that you not only provide a superior product or service, but that you are a knowledgeable resource and are willing to engage in the community around your product.

This is the essence of inbound marketing. Your website, when used properly, is a marketing platform more powerful and farther reaching than anything a business owner has ever had at his or her fingertips. Used incorrectly, your website might as well just be a sign hanging in your window, visible only to the people who walk by. You’ve seen these sites before – sites that simply list the name of the business, their phone number, location, and maybe a contact form.

The site that focuses on content, however, is the site whose owner takes their modern marketing efforts seriously. This is a business owner who understands that, today, it’s not just about having the right product but having the right community and support around that product.

Who would you rather do business with?

5 Reasons List Articles Are Here to Stay

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If you”ve been paying attention to search results, blogs, and other online content, you’ve probably noticed the shift in focus to lists. Every post you see, even on the first page of Google search results, is “7 Reasons for This…” and “12 Ways to Do That…”

More than a simple internet trend, the list article, or “listicle,” is far more than a click-baitey way to get you to read someone’s post. Lists actually tap into our very nature as people.

Love them or hate them, list articles aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Here’s why:

1. People just like lists!

As humans, we are pre-programmed to want to sort and organize. We look for patterns in everything we see. We look for shapes that will work well with other shapes.

We do the same thing with information. We organize and sort the information we have into lists simply because it’s one of the primary ways we’ve learned to keep things organized in our minds. Grocery lists, to-do lists, guest lists, contact lists….the list is a simple, efficient, and effective method for displaying, and acting on, information.

2. A list tells you what it’s going to tell you.

When you read a list article you know what you’re getting into. You know that an article, like this one, that only has a few things in the list is going to be relatively short. A longer list, say, if this was “21 Reasons List Articles are Here to Stay,” is going to be a much longer and more involved read.

3. Lists are digestible.

Walls of text simply do not translate well for online reading. When working with a computer screen, we like to skim and we like to move on rather quickly.

A list article allows this to be done while, at the same time, providing enough information so that the reader still feels that spending time reading the post was time well spent.

4. Lists are easily shared.

I love when people in my social networks share content with me. It’s like getting a glimpse at the inner workings of their brain. Not only do I usually enjoy the content that they share, I enjoy pondering why they thought the content was so good that they had to share it.

Lists are much easier to share than a long form post. When sharing a list, you know that you are not asking a friend or colleague to read something that is going to take a large amount of their time. A list allows them to take your shared content, scan it, determine if it really does apply to them, and then decide whether they want to read it more in depth or simply discard it.

5. Lists can prompt action.

Providing information in list form is one thing but when you really want to convince a reader to do something, give them a list of reasons why they should do it. “8 Reasons You Should Fill Out Our Contact Form.” “These 5 Steps Will Make You Better at X.”

I’m not going to read a page of information forcing me to pick out the reasons why interacting with your company is the right thing for me to do. However, I might spend a minute and scan a quick list of reasons.

You Never Know If You Don’t Try

If you’re hesitant to put list posts on your blog or website simply because you don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, stop and consider this: Everyone else might be doing it because it actually works. Give a few list articles a try, see what the data says, and then come back and figure out whether your next post will be “9 Ways List Articles Boosted My Web Traffic.”

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