How to Avoid the Biggest Website Mistakes - Warm Thoughts Communications
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How to Avoid the Biggest Website Mistakes

Posted on June 4, 2013

Biggest website mistakes: why doesn't my website bring me business?

Because we build and re-design sites, I have the opportunity to review hundreds of home comfort websites. My team and I review the design, architecture, content and search engine optimization to determine what’s working and what’s not, and determine what needs to be done to fix them. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done and we need to start from scratch, and sometimes there is a decent foundation and it just needs an upgrade.

Not surprisingly, I see the same mistakes on a lot of the sites. And in many cases, they’re things that could have been avoided.

So, here is my attempt to summarize, the 4 biggest web mistakes:

  1. Not Recognizing the Potential

    It may sound like I’m stating the obvious here, but the potential that the internet has to profoundly impact your business cannot be overstated. For many business owners, it’s too easy to dismiss what’s really happening. Consider these facts:

    • Facebook has over a billion members, making it the equivalent of the third largest country in the world.
    • The Ford Explorer launch on Facebook generated more traffic than a Super Bowl ad.
    • iPads are now being used in kindergarten classes.
    • LinkedIn gets a new member every 2 seconds. That’s like the entire enrollment of the Ivy League joining every day.
    • People who play online games on their computers and smart phones will spend $6 billion in virtual goods by the end of this year. As a point of reference, moviegoers will spend $2.5 billion in “real” goods.
    • Justin Bieber has more than twice the number of Twitter followers than California has residents.
    • 53% of people on Twitter make product recommendations in their Tweets.
    • 90% of consumers say they are influenced by online reviews.
    • 93% of marketers say they are using social media for business.
    • There are more than 500 billion photos uploaded and shared online every day.

    And here’s the one that truly brings home my point about missing out on what’s in front of you:

    In 1999, Barrons dubbed today’s e-tail giant “Amazon.bomb”.

    May 31, 1999, Barron's dismisses, dubbing the website 'amazon.bomb'

    Bottom Line: Avoid missing out on the potential by being aware of what’s happening in the world around you. Take seriously the seemingly useless activities of the younger generation. And allow some freedom to explore what’s working in online marketing.

  2. Not Working with Someone You Trust

    Chances are you’re not going to execute on all these great opportunities on your own. You’re going to work with a service provider to handle your website, your PPC advertising, your search engine optimization, and maybe even your social media. But be careful.

    Your online presence is critical to your business. Small missteps can cause tremendous damage. Look what happened when the wrong employee was the administrator of the StubHub Twitter account.

    Disgruntled employee misuses's Twitter account.

  3. Not Following Best Practices

    There are some fundamental realities that should not, under any circumstances, be ignored. I offer up a handful here, but there are many.

    • Have a call to action on every page of your website.
    • Never auto-play music or video on your website.
    • Every page of your site should have its own, unique, keyword rich page title.
    • You can’t change what you don’t measure. Track every click to your website, whether it’s organic or paid advertising driven.
    • Make it easy. Everything about your website should be easy and obvious. Overcrowding is the enemy of simplicity.
    • Have your website designed by a web designer. Not all graphic designers understand the difference between interactive and presentational design.
    • Have your copy written by an SEO expert. Not every writer understands how to use keywords effectively.
    • Make it mobile. 25% of all online activity is generated by a mobile device.
  4. Not Committing

    Unfortunately, for many online activities, there is no benefit from “sticking a toe in the water.” To see actual results, you have to be all in. To understand how this works, let’s look at pay-per-click as an example.

    Insufficient budget is one of the biggest factors in the failure of a pay per click campaign. Throwing a few hundred dollars a month at a Google Adwords account is basically throwing your money down the drain. There is a real science to determining how much money a campaign needs to work effectively, and it depends entirely on how much search there is on your products and services in your particular market, and how competitive the landscape is. Let’s do the math. Let’s say there are 30,000 searches per month on your keywords. That means that your ad could potentially show up 30,000 times.

    30,000 impressions X 1% click thru rate = 300 clicks. If the average cost per click is $3.50, you have spent about $1,000.

    Our websites generate about a 12%-15% click to call ratio, so your $1,000 could net you 45 phone calls at an average of $22 per call. If you convert just 20% of those into sales, you got nine new customers at a cost of $1,000. That’s a customer acquisition cost of $111.

    But if you set your budget at $500, on average that gives you $16 per day. A few clicks early in the morning and you’re done for the day! 12% – 15% of four is basically nothing so chances are you’ve acquired no new customers and you’ve wasted your money.

    Bottom Line: Done correctly, pay per click is science and math. Throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks is not the right approach.

The Takeaway:

In the end, there really are four broad guidelines when approaching your website and marketing strategy:

  1. Recognize the full potential of online marketing
  2. Work with somebody you can trust
  3. Follow best practices
  4. Don’t let short-term budget considerations dictate your potential to grow and make money.
Ben Gutkin
is VP Marketing Services for Warm Thoughts Communications. He has advised dozens of the nation’s leading energy companies and associations on improving their web presence, search capabilities, direct response advertising and return on investment during his 20+ years with Warm Thoughts. You can reach him or 201‑330‑9276 ext. 227

300 Broadacres Dr. Suite 205
Bloomfield, NJ 07003

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