What to Know About the Website Design Process

What to Know About the Website Design Process

Marcee

Designing a new website is an exciting—and anxious—time! It can open your business up to a whole new set of prospects and leads and modernize your marketing and sales strategy. But if you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a good long while since your site was last updated, the web design process can seem opaque and confusing. 

Here’s what to know about the website design process to ensure it goes smoothly:

Share All the Information You Can at Your Initial Sessions

The web design process begins with a discovery phase or a brainstorming session, where you share information about your business. This covers the gamut, from what you do and how you do it to your products to your logo to your design preferences to your ideal customers. 

Everything and anything you can share with your website design team will be valuable. 

Why? 

Because your site not only needs to be beautiful and functional, it needs to convey important information to website visitors, convert those visitors into leads, and do it in your brand’s voice. In order to do this, the team designing your website will need to know your audience—who is going to be visiting your website—so your site can communicate with them effectively.

Give Your Designer Somewhere to Start 

Sharing all you can with your website designer or design team doesn’t only apply to information—it also applies to documents, images, and other useful resources and assets.

Any existing marketing materials like brochures, photos, logos, flyers, and customer-facing informational documents can be extremely helpful to your designer in:

(a) understanding what your company does

(b) understanding your brand voice

(c ) including those assets (like logos) on your site

Share All Logo Files

When it comes to sharing assets, particularly logos, make sure you share everything. This helps ensure a smooth web design process.

The .jpg of your logo that you use in your email signature isn’t going to be enough: your website designer will need access to the originals in any and every format you have them in order to format them correctly to display on your website and provide visitors with a consistent brand experience. We’re talking .psd, .png, .tif, .jpg, all of them.

If you don’t have these assets, and you’ve just been using a 20 KB .jpg image in all of your brand communications, talk to your website designer about your options. They may be able to create a web-ready version of your logo, or direct you to someone who can.

Hand Over the Reins

For a website design process to be successful, you have to relinquish some control to the designer. If you want total control over the design of your website, you’d have to design it yourself. And with your existing responsibilities, you just don’t have time to do it. Plus, even though you’re an expert in your field, you’re probably not also a web design or graphic design expert. 

This is true of your employees as well. Even if your technical writer is amazing and you think she could write your website content and you have an IT guy who knows a bunch of coding languages, it’s still best to hire pros. 

Website designers have the expertise and the time that your employees with other specialties and duties simply don’t have. Your IT guy needs to be troubleshooting computer issues, not tied up hard-coding your site. 

Plus, hiring professionals to design your site ensures that your site is up-to-date with the latest web design best practices, future-proofed for upcoming changes, and that a disgruntled employee with admin access to your site doesn’t cause unprecedented damage to your brand and reputation on their way out the door.

Let the Designer Do Their Job

This goes along with the last point. You have to trust the designer to do the job you hired them to do, and you have to let them do it. This means that while you’re allowed to share your vision for the appearance and function of the site, you can’t dictate every last thing down to the placement of every button.

Web designers are skilled and credentialed professionals with years of experience designing websites, and they know the best practices for how your site navigation show work and where buttons should be placed. 

If they say you shouldn’t only have one page for all of your services, but to break them out into multiple pages, there’s a good reason for that. If you choose to go against your website designer’s recommendations, the designer might give you what you ask for, but you’ll be hamstringing your site in terms of user experience and SEO performance. 

The Web Design Process Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Website design is not as easy as just plugging your information into an already created shell and just changing the colors. It takes time to lay out the sitemap, write the page content, create visual assets and design elements, research keywords, gather information about your company and offerings and put all of that together to create a website. 

Plus, there are many factors that will influence how long your site design takes. How quickly do you get back to the designer with information? How quickly do you approve concepts or content? How many pages will your site need to be? What special features or design elements does your site require? Adding on to any of these factors will add to the length of the design process.

Some designers will tell you that they can create a custom website for you super quickly and super cheaply—this is usually too good to be true. In these cases, you’ll likely get what you paid for: a “custom” design that looks mysteriously like a bunch of other sites you’ve seen on the web, stretched out and pixelated graphics, broken links, and typos. While a good solution today might be better than a perfect solution tomorrow, a bad solution is never the right option, even if it could have been implemented yesterday.

Interested in building your own company’s website? We’d love to help. As an inbound marketing and growth agency, we develop websites that are both beautiful and functional. Get in touch to see what we can build for you.

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How to Get Your Social Media Ad Campaign Off the Ground

How to Get Your Social Media Ad Campaign Off the Ground

Marcee

If your organization is like most, you’ve probably been using social media platforms organically for your business for a while, posting occasional company updates or sharing your content. To level-up in the social media space and use social media to its best advantage for your business, you need to start investing in outbound marketing and running social media ad campaigns. But that can be a daunting task. Here’s our guide on how to get your social media ad campaign off the ground.

Why Run a Social Media Ad Campaign?

You want to reach people. Everyone is using social media. It’s really that simple. According to Hubspot, 42 percent of people in the world are using social media. That’s 90.4 percent of Millennials, 77.5 percent of Generation X, and 48.2 percent of Baby Boomers using social media, and on average, they’re spending over two hours every day on social networks. If you want to reach people, social media is where you can find them. Click To Tweet

Because of this, social media ad campaigns are scalable, relatively inexpensive, and can have a huge ROI. Most social media advertising platforms also have great analytics to help you analyze and hone your strategy and report on campaign performance.

Determine Your Social Media Ad Campaign Goals

Like any and all advertising campaigns, for your social media campaign to be successful, you need to begin with clearly defined goals. What do you want this campaign to do? That can depend on your industry, position, brand, and current situation. Some common goals include:

  • Brand awareness
    • We’re a new company and we want people to know that we and our products/services are out there
    • We’re an established company who wants to stay top of mind for our consumers
  • Engagement
    • We want people to like/share/comment on our content
  • Traffic
    • We want to drive traffic to our website or a specific page
  • Lead generation
    • We want leads for our new product line
    • We want leads to subscribe to our email list
  • Sales
    • We want people to buy this product or service

Social media ad campaigns can help you reach any of those goals, and your goal will determine who you target with your campaign, the ad creative and copy you use, and how you target your desired audience. Your goal will also determine how you calculate ROI and the effectiveness of your campaign.

Determine Your Target Audiences

One of the major benefits of social media advertising are the targeting options available to you, so determining your target audience is crucial to taking advantage of these options.On social media, people are just giving away useful demographic and behavioral information about themselves that you can use to find interested and decision-ready customers. Click To Tweet

Social media users enter their names, locations, age, gender, and other demographic indicators, plus indicate their interests by their behaviors: watching certain videos, liking and engaging with posts, people, and brands, and clicking on all sorts of things that catch their eyes. Social media platforms leverage this information to serve the most relevant ads—the ones most likely to result in a like, click, or conversion.

Who Do You Want to Reach?

So, you need to determine who you want to target with your ads. This will depend in part on the previous step, determining your goals. You might have various different groups of people you want to reach, but because of the differences in these groups, like their industry or stage in the buyer’s journey, you may have different goals pertaining to them. 

Check Your Buyer Personas

If you don’t already have buyer personas, creating them would be helpful to understanding who you want to target with your ad campaign. Knowing basic demographic information about your ideal client, as well as their roles, goals, and challenges pertaining to your offerings can help you know who to try to get your ad in front of.

Let’s say that you’re a book publisher who publishes historical fiction. You want to grow your email list to send marketing content to readers of historical fiction who are likely to buy your books. Your campaign goal is lead generation, and your target audience will be historical fiction readers… but you want to be more specific than that, and social media can help. You know that people who like certain historical fiction authors and titles will like your books—and you can target them based on their demonstrated interests.

Select Social Media Ad Campaign Platforms

Guess what? This depends on your industry, target audience, and goals (ugh, we always say that). 

That historical fiction publisher has an audience of women between ages 18 and 70, skewing toward 45-65, and they want to generate leads. For them, Facebook is going to be their primary advertising platform, though they might also use Pinterest, etc.

But for an industrial manufacturer who is selling to B2B clients, specifically, sourcing specialists/buyers who work for other large manufacturers, LinkedIn is probably going to be the most useful and relevant platform. This is both because that’s where professionals will be engaging with content related to their work and the targeting options that let you target audiences by their company and job title.

Maximize Your Budget

There are several factors to maximizing your budget, including choosing the right audience and targeting them precisely, using the right platforms, and having clearly defined goals for your campaign that guide all aspects from creative to targeting to placement. Another critical factor is actually setting the right budgets and parameters, and adjusting those as needed.

Keep an Eye on Your Social Media Ad Campaigns

One of the great things about social media advertising is that you can monitor campaigns in real time and make adjustments as necessary. “Set it and forget it” sounds nice, and if you’re a social media advertising pro with lots of experience, maybe you can do that. For everyone else, monitoring your campaigns is crucial. Why? You might find that your budget is too low or too high, and you’re spending too much without seeing results or seeing marginal returns for additional spending.

Adjust Social Media Ad Campaigns According to Data

If a campaign is spending all of its percentage of the lifetime budget for that day before noon, you might decide to end it sooner so the daily budgets would be higher and the ads would serve more each day. You might also discover that a campaign is working really well and you want to extend it past your original end date—that’s a great way to maximize your budget, because you already know it works and has the necessary ROI to be worthwhile.

Social media has so much potential in the marketing and advertising space because an audience—your audience—is already there, engaging with content. Taking advantage of that with advertisements can boost your advertising reach and ROI immensely, and the first step to doing that is getting a campaign off the ground. With a little practice and experimentation, you’ll see the benefits of those campaigns in your bottom line.

Still want a little help getting those social media ad campaigns going? We got you.

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5 Common Website Design Misconceptions

5 Common Website Design Misconceptions

Marcee

There are a lot of bad ideas out there about how websites are designed and the entirety of the web design process: about the difficulty, about the cost, and about what goes into the process.

There are a lot of factors to blame here, like our ideas about the internet being “free” along with DIY website tools trying to get user and media representations of people setting up websites in seconds. (Which just doesn’t happen, sorry.) Website design is infinitely more nuanced than that.

So to clear that up, here are 5 common website design misconceptions and the reality behind them.

Misconception #1: Web Design is Easy

No. Just no. 

Web design is a complex process, requiring a lot of knowledge and experience. Web designers need to know various programming languages like JavaScript and C++; various CMS like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla; understand marketing best practices, like where to place calls-to-action (CTAs); understand internet user behavior, what they’ll respond to, what they click on; and have a strong understanding of visual design. 

Does that seem like a lot? It is. And it’s not something that just anyone can do well on the first try. Most web designers have all kinds of professional training, and the best ones have years of experience designing websites that not only look great but also work to pull in qualified leads. 

In addition, there is a lot of research that does into the design of a website in order to accurately reflect your company’s brand and voice and to do so in a way that appeals to your ideal customers.

Misconception #2: Web Design Shouldn’t Cost So Much

Web design shouldn’t cost so much. We hear it a lot. 

By that logic, nothing should cost as much as it does, and gas should still be a $0.36 per gallon like it was in 1970. Sounds nice, but it’s just not realistic. Good web design isn’t cheap, but the price isn’t unfair.

With web design, which is a difficult and complex process requiring advanced knowledge of programming languages, various CMS, and visual design, you get what you pay for. If you want beautiful and functional design, you have to be willing to pay the going rate.

If you skimp on design, you’re going to end up with a site that isn’t user-friendly, mobile-responsive, or attractive, and it’s not going to do much for you. Visitors won’t convert to leads on a poorly designed site, and what little money you put into the design won’t even be worth it.

A well-designed site, on the other hand, will delight visitors, provide them with a comfortable and seamless experience, and lead them to convert. Your website isn’t just a billboard for your company, and it needs to be doing more to drive sales, through conversions. A cheaply designed site won’t do that.When you put money into a good design, you’ll see the ROI of your decision in website conversions. Click To Tweet

It’s important to remember that web design is about more than making your website pages look pretty. It’s also about defining and embodying your brand in the online space. This means ensuring consistency with your existing brand standards, designing logos and images, and making other aesthetic decisions to represent your brand accurately and in a way that appeals to your existing and ideal customers.

Misconception #3: Designing a Website Shouldn’t Take This Long

This is one of the most  common website design misconceptions, and it goes hand-in-hand with “web design is easy” and “web design shouldn’t cost so much.” Web design isn’t easy, and a good design is going to take time, especially when you consider all that goes into it: designing the page structure, the images and design elements, the color scheme, the written content, and the functionality. 

 If a website really was just a digital version of a billboard, then yes, it would make sense that it could be designed in a day. But a website is infinitely more complex than that, which, of course, is a benefit. A website can do more, and it’s worth more as an asset. You need to be willing to invest the necessary time in the process to get the best result.

Misconception #4: Anyone Can Build a Website

We blame this one on the free-for-all days of the early internet and hosting platforms that promise they can help you build a professional-looking website yourself, with no expertise. 

There are a million DIY website tools out there being used by all sorts of people for various reasons. And while as someone who isn’t a web designer, you can probably make do with a free site on WordPress.com or Wix for your personal blog, that just isn’t going to cut it for a mid-size to large business.

Why do you need to hire a professional web design firm for your business site? First, the size and complexity of your site. A free website tool is great for a website with one or two pages, but your company’s site is going to have way more than that, in complex hierarchies. You’re going to want a professional’s help to ensure that pages are organized correctly and are easily, intuitively found by website visitors.

Additionally, DIY website tools will lack the functionality you need for a professional site. Features like plugins for collecting email addresses or visitor retargeting, an ecommerce platform, landing pages, or a custom theme to fit your brand guidelines aren’t available with a standard web design tool.

If you need anything more that standard blog posts or pages with text and images—which you undoubtedly will—you’re going to want a pro to build your site on a sophisticated CMS (content management system).

In regards to using a sophisticated CMS, the software necessary to build a robust, functional, and attractive website is not itself easy to learn or user-friendly, and at times, it can be confusing or difficult. Web designers have years of experience with various CMS and can navigate and manipulate them with ease. 

As a novice, it’s a website design misconception that you could build a high-quality, high-performing website by yourself. You’d need a lot of training, and trial and error, to get to the necessary level of competence. Certain programming languages may also be required to achieve your desired website appearance and function, with web developers will be well-versed in, but which is incomprehensible to those without web design experience.

Misconception #5: Web Design Should be Done In-House

We get it, you don’t want to pay someone else to do something you could do yourself. The thing is, website design isn’t something you should (or could) do yourself.

Yes, you have an IT department and they’re all geniuses with computers. That doesn’t mean they should be designing your website. Why?

IT and web design are vastly different specialties with less overlap than the non-techies think. Your IT team may not have experience designing websites at all, especially professional ones for businesses with many and varied needs.

Additionally, foisting a website design project onto your IT team is going to get in the way of them doing their primary and necessary function—keeping your company running.

Unless you’re at an extremely large, global enterprise, it just doesn’t make sense to hire a web designer or web design team for the one or two websites you need. If you have fifteen different branches with their own sites and are constantly growing, maybe you do need a team—but that’s not likely to be your situation. For medium to large organizations, the budget and the necessity of hiring a web design team isn’t there. 

We hope this blog helped clear up a few common misconceptions about website design! With these in mind, are you ready to build your new website? Let’s chat.

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5 Best Outbound Marketing Tools for Manufacturers

5 Best Outbound Marketing Tools for Manufacturers

With the rise of the digital world and inbound marketing, outbound marketing can get a bad rap. While it’s no longer the only way to reach potential customers, it’s still an important part of any marketing and growth strategy, alongside inbound marketing practices. This outbound marketing shouldn’t be limited to traditional media like radio and newspaper ads, though, but should instead incorporate modern outbound tools. Here are 5 of the best outbound marketing tools for manufacturers and B2Bs.

#1 Social Media

You might think that social media is irrelevant to manufacturers, that it’s just kids sending pictures to each other, rich people hawking fad diets and scam music festivals, and your out-of-touch aunt leaving odd comments on status updates.

But that’s not entirely the case. Social media has huge potential for manufacturers’ outbound marketing efforts.

How? Social media ads and their amazing targeting options.

All social media platforms have some form of advertising, and most have multiple: boosted posts, banner ads, native ads, even direct messaging ads. Not only do they offer all of these kinds of ads, they provide some of the best targeting options for running your ad campaigns.

This is because of the nature of social media profiles—users indicate their demographics, location, and interests in their profiles, likes, and other platform activity. All of that activity can be used to target the audiences who are your desired market.

You might still be thinking that as a manufacturer, you’re marketing to businesses, not people.

But, if you’ve been doing any inbound marketing, you know that even to market to businesses, you have to market to people. There are certain people at your ideal client company that are key decision-makers with regard to your product, whether that is a product designer, a sourcing specialist, or a purchasing associate. You can absolutely market to those people with social media.

For manufacturers or other B2Bs, we find that LinkedIn is one of the best outbound marketing tools available. LinkedIn has very specific targeting options for ad campaigns, down to the specific companies and job titles at those companies that you want to target.

If you want to know more about LinkedIn’s outbound marketing potential, we’ve written about it, a lot. Check out The Definitive LinkedIn Guide for B2Bs and LinkedIn Ads and B2B Marketing to get started.

#2 Google

If you know anything about the internet, you know that getting people to your site means showing up on Google. While appearing in the organic search results for the keywords you want to rank for requires a certain amount of inbound marketing savvy—lots of good content, SEO optimization, keyword research, and so on—Google is also an outbound marketing tool.

Like social media platforms, Google has advertisements. And like social media, Google is ubiquitous. If you run Google ads, they’re going to be seen. Plus, Google Ads also have great targeting options by keywords, location, and even audience behavior.

Google Ads include two distinct types of ads: search ads and display network ads. Search ads are native ads (i.e., ads that look like regular search results but are actually ads) that appear at the top of the results page on searches for specific keywords you select.

If you look at the first two or three results the next time you search on Google, you’ll see that they are actually ads, and are designated as such.

Display network ads are banner and sidebar ads that appear on Google sites and sites they partner with, like local news sites, weather.com, and a host of other national and local organizations’ websites. These too can be highly targeted.

#3 Inbound Marketing Software

Does this seem like a contradiction? Probably. But the thing is, inbound and outbound strategies should always be working together, and not only can your inbound and outbound strategies support each other, but your inbound marketing software can also help you with outbound marketing efforts.

This is one of the many reasons we use HubSpot, because there are so many great features of HubSpot’s inbound marketing software that work for outbound marketing.

How? There are a few key ways. All of the tools incorporated in your inbound marketing software such as lead management systems, prospect reports, and analytics can be used by your sales department to make sales calls and direct mail campaigns more effective. These tools can also help you see which of your marketing content is most effective and with whom it’s effective, so your outbound marketing efforts can be more targeted.

#4 Email

Again, this might seem like double-dipping, since email marketing is generally considered an inbound marketing practice. But, again, it can be both. You send emails out rather than waiting for them to come in, and in our book, that’s outbound marketing. Click To Tweet

This isn’t just an email newsletter—that’s staunchly an inbound marketing practice. We’re talking about targeted email campaigns that nurture leads and bring them into the sales cycle. Using a targeted email campaign, you can push your brand, product, or service to a specific audience that has a genuine need and use for what you’re offering.

Creating valuable and targeted messages for intuitively segmented leads can yield huge results, especially when your campaigns provide the right information at the right time, without spamming or overwhelming your leads. Using email marketing effectively can transform it from just an inbound technique to a cornerstone of your outbound strategy.

#5 An Outbound Marketing Agency

A tool is anything you use to achieve a desired end state or goal. When it comes to outbound marketing, a full-service marketing agency with years of experience is going to be the best outbound marketing tool at your disposal. Especially as a manufacturing company that may not have a dedicated marketing department or any existing marketing efforts that fall outside the umbrella of sales, a marketing agency can help you reach the growth goals you care about most.

You can do all your outbound marketing all yourself—and you can use a screwdriver to get a screw into a piece of wood… but wouldn’t you rather use a drill? Click To Tweet Hi, we’re the drill.

Manufacturers can seriously benefit from outbound marketing tools, especially as more and more of your target buyers trend online. For help developing an outbound marketing strategy that actually works, talk to Evenbound.

 

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