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Looking Good Online: 5 Essential Business Tips

by Tim Rimington | July 26, 2011

Here's how to look good online: Competition is fierce and never has there been a time when the term, “Keeping up with the Joneses” is more applicable than it is now. According to online sources, today there are 298 Million web sites on the Internet. Somewhere in there your own web site enjoys its little piece of turf, and hopefully your customers enjoy coming to it! While subjects such as SEO command stronger attention, the “small stuff” often gets lost in the message. So here’s a focus on 5 essential online marketing elements to keep your little piece of turf in tip top shape and attractive enough to warrant customer attention.

1. Ageing Site Design: Why it's erroding away your online customers

You’ll never get asked to dance when wearing yesteryear’s stitches. Your web site’s design is like fashion: it goes out of date. When your competitors are wearing the latest gear it becomes increasingly more difficult to get the attention you once did. So how often is a redesign or makeover necessary? It depends on how solid your site design was to begin with. If you started small with a conservative budget then your site’s design was probably reflective of that – so if you’re reading this 2 or more years after the fact, then now’s a good time to start looking at current web design trends. Even if you were in the position to spend up big on a killer design at the start, stand back every 2-3 years and take stock of how you look now compared to other web sites. Remember the high-street shopping strip analogy: your business is likely to suffer if you’re the worst looking store in the street; and finally even if you believe your site still looks great seek an impartial opinion (spouses exempt) because often we form an emotional attachment. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the words, “What’s wrong with my site, it looks fine?” when I’ve been staring at a site in dire need of attention.

2. Quality Content: Panda, anyone?

You have to give it to Google, they’re doing their best to tidy up search results by focusing, and ultimately serving, quality web pages that feature original content. The days of “Welcome to our website”, followed by a paragraph written by John from accounts should be a thing of the past. In 2011 you need to be witty, dedicated and engaging when writing web page content. Google also loves blogs that talk about a company’s know-how, so web masters are being forced to become publishers or experts in their field. News flash: blogging is not a 25-word paragraph announcing your summer fashion range. It’s an excited, informative, emotive and engaging 450 word article setting you apart from your blog-hating competitors. Product descriptions must now go beyond “Size 12, black, cotton stitch with red buttons” to a flowing description that makes customers want to hit the Buy button. 10 words or less didn’t cut it then and it’s certainly not going to hereon in. Learn more about Google ‘Panda’ here.

3. Send out Gems: Creating awesome email newsletters

Although the offer or “meat and potatoes” is the most important factor in an email campaign’s success, if you’re going to “interrupt” somebody’s working day, you can at least dress well for the occasion. I subscribe to a raft of email newsletters and the ones that steal my attention from what I’m doing are the ones that “look the part”. First up a catchy subject line that I can’t resist, followed by a professional appearance that tells me instantly that these people “mean business”. Unlike web site design, great looking email newsletter templates can be put together with relative ease, so if your current campaigns look more “Pumice” than “Opal”, chat to your web developer and get that side of things sorted. Think of a campaign as a sales call: you wouldn’t knock on a customer’s door poorly dressed, so put your best foot forward with a great looking newsletter.

4. You're Speling Is Not To Good: Removing cringe from written communications

Few things make customers cringe more than inexcusable spelling mistakes. Customers are more likely to stick around for more if words flow nicely and without interruption.

Here’s my hit list of commonly misused words: You’re not going to your birthday party; two jobs are too hot to handle; they’re going there without their trousers; it’s below its water line.

Don’t always rely on your computer’s spell checker, have a hard copy dictionary close by and don’t be embarrassed to use it. The same applies to customer communications such as order confirmation emails, email newsletters and beyond. Poor attention to detail sends the wrong message and sends customers packing. Grammar is sometimes allowed to slip, but poor spelling sticks out like a sore thumb.

5. “I love it! Now what?”: Your call to action

"Your skin will be left feeling soft, silky and smooth and your life will change forever, and it's all just one click away!"

Okay, perhaps those lines lost their effectiveness back in the 70s, but the final pitch is something that all informed sales people use the world over. It's the final line that's written to make your customer feel good; the line that leaves the customer feeling that they've just made, or are about to make, the right decision.

Your call to action should be positioned directly beneath your final “hook”, be it an 'add to cart' button, enquiry form or email/phone number invitation.

In conjunction with an effective, ongoing SEO campaign these 5 essential business tips will help you to keep looking good online.

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