6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

Small to mid-sized businesses have unique needs and constraints when it comes to designing a website. More so than with larger businesses, who can hire their own in-house web design teams, SMBs have the challenge of finding a great web designer or firm, keeping on top of the process, and, of course, finding money in the budget for the project. Here are 5 website design tips for SMBs to help guide you through the process.

#1 Remember That it’s Always a Work in Progress

A website is never really “done.” Which is exactly the opposite of what you want to hear, but it’s true. The internet is constantly and rapidly changing, as is the way people interact with it. This means that your website needs to roll with the punches and be adaptable to change.

Unlike the standard, static marketing assets of the past, like billboards or pamphlets, your website is dynamic. Visitors aren’t just looking at an image or reading text—they’re looking at your images, reading your text, submitting forms, clicking on menus and links, and hitting the call button. This means that all of those things need to be working, all the time and that those things can break or become outdated, and they’ll need to be updated.

Plus, the internet loves things that are new. Regularly adding and refreshing your website design and content are critical to providing website visitors with the best experience and to achieve your desired ranking in search results.  

#2 Hire a Professional to Design your Site

We cannot stress this enough: Hire a professional to design your site. There are a lot of reasons why you should do this, but the most compelling are that your site is too important to DIY and that when it comes to website design, you’re usually getting what you pay for.

Yes, there are a lot of programs out there that claim to allow you to design beautiful custom sites for free, and some of them are great—for bloggers or personal websites. 

If you have a niche Etsy business knitting Game of Thrones costumes for cats, and you think it’s time for a website, one of those free website builders is probably a good tool for you. 

You don’t have the budget or the need for anything truly custom on your site, and you’re not going to lose potential customers with a less than perfect user experience on your site—if someone really wants a GoT cat costume, you’re probably the only place they can get it.

But if you’re running a small to mid-sized business that operates more in the professional realm, those free website builders don’t have what you need. 

While they claim to offer custom sites, you’re provided with a limited range of templates to choose from, most of which are fairly basic in their appearance and functionality. You might be able to customize those templates, to an extent, if you’re skilled with CSS (and often, embark on a paid subscription with the solution). And, quite frankly, there are a lot of things those free website building platforms just can’t support, things like external landing pages, employee or client portals, and complicated site maps with extensive menus and pathways.

#3 No Really, Hire a Professional

Okay, so you might see this and think, “that’s fine, I won’t use a free website building platform. But I still don’t have to hire a pro. The IT team/person can code a website for us for free.” Please, we beseech you, do not do this. 

While we’re sure that your IT team is full of skilled professionals with great levels of talent, this isn’t a great idea for a couple of reasons:

The first being that a custom hard-coded website will be inaccessible to non-coders. If your IT team builds it, there won’t be a user interface that say, HR can log into to update the job postings. All changes will have to go through someone who knows how to code.

Additionally, if the person or people who built your site ever leave your company, you could be left with a website on your hands that no one can update, and in the worst-case scenario, a PR nightmare when a disgruntled employee who built the site has complete control over it.

Especially since you run an SMB, you don’t have the bandwidth or the payroll to have all your website design handled in-house. But hiring a website designer can provide you a high-quality, attractive, functional website that you can access and update. 

#4 Choose a Good Platform to Build it in

We already touched on this a little in the previous section, but don’t use a free website builder. It’s not going to be a robust solution or give you all the functionality that you need. Instead, choose a platform that is going to give you all the functionality you need, and be something that you can use. So stay away from Wix.com and opt for something a little more heavy-duty, like Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress.

There are a lot of internal stakeholders in a company website, even in an SMB. After all, a website isn’t just a marketing or sales tool, it’s also an asset for customer service, HR, employees, and other people and departments internally. 

This can mean that there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen; HR needs to update job postings, customer service needs to live chat with site visitors who have questions, the marketing manager needs to log in to approve and post blog posts, etc. 

All of these people (and more) need login credentials, so your site’s backend needs to accommodate that. But not only do these people need to log in to the back end, they need to have clearly defined permissions, and they also need to be able to find and do what they need to do, without having to become coders themselves. The back end UX needs to be almost as good as the front end UX to ensure that all of the moving parts keep moving in sync.

#5 Make Sure That You Can Make Changes

This goes back to what we said before about hiring a professional and not hard-coding a site, as well as choosing a good platform to build your website in. It even hearkens back to point #1: remember that it’s always a work in progress. You’re going to need to make changes to your website—all the time. You need to make sure it’s easy to do that.

For the things you can change internally (updating some text, etc.), you need to make sure the platform you build your site with and the content management system (CMS) has multiple logins and permission levels, and that it’s user-friendly.

For the bigger things, you need to make sure that you can easily get those changed when you need to. Part of that is having a good relationship with your website designer. Are they transparent and communicative? Do they follow through and stick to the schedule? 

Another aspect is using a CMS like WordPress that’s somewhat universal. If your web designer goes on vacation or the firm you were using shutters its doors, you’ll need a site that another designer can access and update as the need arises.

#6 Work With Your Website Designer

Designing a website is not something your website designer can do in a vacuum. You’re going to have to provide your designer with information to go on—more than just your company name, your logos, and the pages that you want. Your website designer is going to need to have a sense of not only what your company does but how you do it, and what your brand is. This includes your logos and colors, but encompasses so much more, like the tone of your content and the kind of language you use, as well as the most intuitive ways to structure the information on your site.

Your website designer is going to need to get a sense of your company’s identity, so that your site can adequately communicate your brand identity to website visitors and your future customers. The designer is creating the site, but it needs to look and read and navigate in a way that is authentic to your brand, relevant to your industry, and inviting to your potential clients. The designer is going to need your collaboration and cooperation to do this.

So, share as much information as you can about your company, your processes, and your needs and vision for your new website design. They’re also going to need access to things like originals of your logos, brand style guides, and other image assets. Any marketing materials or other public-facing company documents can also be useful to your website designer, too.

Thinking about building a website for your SMB? We’d love to help. We’ve got serious experience building sites for SMBs in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to home building to construction. We’d love to help build yours too

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Website Strategies to Increase Calls & Conversions

Website Strategies to Increase Calls & Conversions

Website Strategies to Increase Calls & Conversions

Whether you’re a B2B, a home services pro, or a housing developer, you need leads. For every business, leads, calls, conversions, and a potential client picking up the phone to say “I need your help” is the goal. If you’re working on your website and digital marketing strategy, you probably already understand the importance of those leads, but what might not be so clear is how to get them.

Building a website that drives leads, calls and conversions can take time, but it is doable. And once you get it working for you? Your entire sales team will have additional hours to work with existing clients, building your base of dedicated customers. On the whole, calls and conversions make your life easier, and generate more revenue for your company. But if you’re just starting out, you may not have figured out how to drive those conversions online yet. Here are a few website strategies you can employ to give your digital marketing strategy the best chance at boosting your leads:

Make it Easy

Before we talk about anything else, if you want to increase calls and conversions, your fundamental goal should be to make your clients’ web experience as easy as possible. The easier it is to navigate, find information, and call or reach out, the more likely you are to get those conversions. In every web improvement you make, you have to ask: does this make the viewer’s life easier? If the answer is yes, then make the change. If it’s not, there’s a potential that your conversion rate will drop. With the concept of making the buyer’s journey easier at the front of your mind, you’re sure to implement changes that will help boost calls and conversion.

Logical Placement

Because consumers are (like we said earlier) creatures of habit, it’s a good idea to place things where they’ll expect them. You should always have a “contact us” button on the top right of your website, because that’s where most consumers will look for it, and it’s where they’re used to seeing them. Placing buttons and click-to-calls exactly where consumers expect them to be is a surefire way to help customers covert quickly.

Make it a Button

If you want people to get in touch, you need to make that very clear, front and center. The best way to do that is to make a button. Whether you were linking to a landing page, offering a free download, or requesting that people call you, the bolder it is, the more likely people are to see it, and follow through on that action. That’s why call-to-action buttons work. They’re bright, they’re bold, and again, the consumer is used to seeing them, so they have a good idea of what will happen when they click. Buttons offer the perfect way to call out those opportunities for leads to call and convert, making it easier still for people to contact you.

Testimonials

Why do people call you?

Typically it’s because they think you’re the best for the job. Whether you have the best prices or seem the most trustworthy, people will call or email you when they’re convinced that you are their best option. The absolute best way for you to make that clear is to feature testimonials and client reviews.

Let your previous work speak for you! If you did a really great job on a house, or you know a client that loved working with you, have them write a short sentence or two, and put it on your website. Nothing builds consumer confidence more than seeing that other consumers—just like them—had a great experience with you. The more comfortable new site visitors feel with your company and your level of service, the more likely they are to call you. So, put those testimonials on your website. And if there’s a clean, logical way to place them next to a call-to-action, do that too. That way, as soon as they read all of those great things other people have said about your company, they can pick up the phone and give you a call.

Add a Chat Tool

Today’s consumer wants instant answers. They appreciate a company that can solve their problem, right now. One easy way to implement that idea for your own business is to add a chat tool. A small icon on the bottom of your consumer’s screen, it just lets them know if they need help right now, there’s someone there for them. It’s a great way to get simple questions answered, and to start building a solid relationship, so when that client makes the final decision to buy — you’re the one they turn to. A chat feature is easily added to your website, you just need to make sure someone is monitoring it during the day, and you turn it off when no one is in the office.

Consider Adding a Headshot

Though this may seem small, adding a headshot can actually do a lot to help boost calls and conversions. In today’s virtual world, many consumers feel a disconnect when they’re browsing the web. It’s easy to forget that there are real people behind the companies you’re looking at, and the services you’re looking for. A small headshot next to your call-to-action button or on your chat tool will remind potential clients that they have the opportunity to talk to a real person who can answer their questions. In today’s virtual world, person-to-person communication is a big deal. A small headshot is a quick, easy addition that can make a major difference because people are able to see exactly who they’ll be working with and talking to—a personal experience they might not get anywhere else.

In the end, the best way to boost calls and conversions is to make sure that you’ve made your website user experience as easy as possible. If potential clients can find the information they’re looking for quickly and efficiently, they’re more likely to convert. Your website design should work in tandem with quality content that answers questions and solves problems. While that content will pull them deeper into your site, convincing them further that you’re the right company for the job, when they’re ready to make a decision, your calls-to-action and content offers will be there to help them convert easily.

If you still have questions about boosting website calls and conversions, we’re here to help! Inbound marketing is kind of our thing, so we’ve got plenty to say about calls-to-action and getting you the digital leads you’ve been looking for. Give us a call to schedule a one-on-one consultation with our president, John, or check out the case study below to see more ways we can make your website work for you:

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Why Inbound Marketers are the Right Choice for B2B Manufacturers

Why Inbound Marketers are the Right Choice for B2B Manufacturers

Why Inbound Marketers are the Right Choice for B2B Manufacturers

Inbound marketing is one of the buzzwords in the marketing community, but to B2B manufacturers, who historically haven’t invested much in marketing, it’s unfamiliar. Inbound marketing is the new way to reach customers, and unlike traditional methods of advertising like print ads and TV commercials, it’s not just for B2Cs. Inbound techniques attract buyers who want, need, or are interested in your offerings to you when they want information about your products or services or are ready to make a purchase. Like the way that sounds? Then you need to hire an inbound marketing company.

What Do Inbound Marketers Do?

The goal of inbound marketing is to bring clients to you, bring them inbound, rather than having to reach out to them with outbound, interruptive marketing like traditional ads. So a large component of what inbound marketers do is create content that will attract clients to you, and most of this is online. First, they determine who your ideal client types are and what needs, questions, and concerns those ideal clients have. Next, they create a variety of types of content that address those needs, from your website page content to downloadable ebooks to blog articles to emails. Then, inbound marketers set to work promoting that content so that those potential customers can find it.

Why Do You Need an Inbound Marketing Company?

Short answer: because you’re experts in what you do, and they’re experts in what they do. Inbound and digital marketing is a complex field that is constantly changing, and if you’re not an expert marketer, there are a lot of ways you can go wrong and a lot of opportunities that you can miss out on. Inbound marketing is all these companies do, and they’re very good at it. They hire skilled content writers, web designers, search experts, and social media strategists who know exactly how to target the buyers and companies you want as customers. Have you seen how engineers write? Do you think prospects will want to read that? Yeah, we don’t either.

How Do You Choose the Right Company?

A good inbound marketing agency is going to practice what they preach and have a good online presence with strong content (*cough* humblebrag *cough*). They’ll have a history of working with B2Bs and industrial manufacturers, so they’ll speak your language, and they’ll also have case studies with hard numbers that prove how effective their marketing strategies are.

If you’re ready to take advantage of inbound marketing and the digital space, you need to contact a digital marketing agency, and we think it should be Evenbound. We’ve successfully helped B2Bs improve their websites, use paid search and PPC ads, increase website traffic, and, most importantly, bring in new leads and prospects. Get in touch to find out how we can do that for your company. Still want to know more about inbound marketing? Check out the case study below to see how inbound marketing and HubSpot helped this manufacturer get ahead of the competition:

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Why Mobile Traffic is a Home Builder’s Bread and Butter

Why Mobile Traffic is a Home Builder’s Bread and Butter

Why Mobile Traffic is a Home Builder’s Bread and Butter

Mobile traffic is any home builder’s bread and butter. Why? Well, we’re about to tell you. Suffice it to say that if your home building company has a website, it needs to be mobile responsive. The general reason is because almost everyone is searching on their mobile devices these days, but there are a ton of benefits to having a mobile responsive website, especially for homebuilders. Here are a few more reasons why you should care about mobile traffic, and why it’s in your best interest to ensure you’re optimizing your site for those mobile viewers:

Everyone is on Mobile

The most obvious reason that mobile traffic is important to home builders is the fact that mobile searches now account for more than 60% of all web traffic out there. That number is only going to grow. Studies have shown that the average web user heads to their mobile device the minute they think of something they might need. They conduct an initial search, do a bit of research on the product, and then finally switch to their desktop to make the final purchasing decision. While desktop traffic will never go out completely, most users are more likely to pick up their smartphone to gather initial information about whatever they’re searching.

What’s more, today 77% of all adults now own a smartphone, which means that more and more of those mobile searches are going to happen. Smartphones are convenient, they’re right in your pocket, and they can get you answers in under a second. Your home building company should be interested in mobile traffic simply because it is the largest portion of all traffic on the web today.

Sets You Apart From the Competition

If we keep in mind the regular web searcher’s methodology: starting a search with their phone and transferring to a computer once they’ve made a decision, it’s obvious that having a mobile responsive site can do a lot to set you apart from the competition. Sure, no one is going to buy a house on their phone. However, most people are going to start the search for a new home on their phone. And if you have a mobile responsive site and your competitor doesn’t, then you’re going to be the one that gets the first chance at those clients. A mobile responsive site gives you the leg up, ensuring your site is the first one your potential clients see.

Google, Always Google

It’s very rare that we post a blog that doesn’t have something to do with Google, and this blog is no different. Because Google is the all-powerful gatekeeper to internet search results, it makes sense that they’ve weighed in on the mobile vs. desktop situation, and have come down on the side of mobile traffic. In December of 2016, Google introduced their mobile-first indexing update, which essentially told web owners that they were going to start indexing mobile sites before desktop sites.

This basically means that Google analyzes and ranks mobile sites before anything else, which gives more ranking power to mobile sites over desktop sites. So, if you only have a desktop site, or you have a desktop site and a pared-down version of that for a mobile site, you’re likely to get a bump down in rankings. If you’re looking to rank well as a home builder in your area, it’s important to have a mobile responsive site that caters to all those mobile users, as well as Google’s indexing algorithm.

Mobile Users Share

Finally, mobile traffic is any home builder’s bread and butter for the express reason that mobile users share. If you think about your own web use, are you more often looking at social media on your phone, or your computer? If you’re like most people, you look at sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter primarily on your phone. Those sites are the places people most often share content, from photos they like to articles they found interesting and useful.

So, another reason to optimize your home building site for mobile is to take advantage of those high sharing numbers that mobile traffic brings. Homebuilders are especially great for mobile traffic because you do have such shareable content. If you post before and after pictures of projects or showcase the insides of some of your model homes or recently designed projects, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of sharing. That sort of content is exactly what the average web browser loves to look at, and is likely to share with their friends. If you make that content available to them on their mobile devices, you’ll be able to capitalize on the sharing nature of mobile users, ensuring your content reaches more and more people and grows your home building company’s reach.

Getting Started

There’s no questioning the fact that mobile traffic can do a lot to boost a home builder’s digital presence, but where do you start? If you know you need a site that’s mobile responsive, but don’t have one or aren’t sure how to optimize the one you’ve got, don’t worry. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think to get a mobile version of your site up and running. Most web templates, especially if you’re using WordPress or SquareSpace, are already set up for mobile responsiveness. Just make sure yours supports multiple screen sizes, and you’re probably good to go.

While just making sure your site supports multiple browser sizes is the biggest concern, you’ll also want to check that your mobile pages load quickly and that you’re providing a quality user experience by eliminating large pop-ups and streamlining your site’s menu. 

Optimizing your home building website for mobile traffic doesn’t have to be difficult, and once you do it, you’re sure to see a marked improvement in your site’s overall performance. If you still have questions about boosting your digital presence or qualified lead generation, be sure to get in touch. Evenbound has cracked the code to digital marketing for home builders, and we’d be happy to help you optimize your website for mobile traffic and qualified leads. To see how our unique digital marketing strategy delivers impressive results for local home builders and construction professionals, be sure to check out the case study below.

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