Whether it’s time to bring your practice to the Internet or re-vamp your current internet presence, here are 7 deadly sins you need to avoid as you prepare to launch a blog and present your marketing message to the world.
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #1: Avoid the "no name blog" trap.
The best things in life may be free, but when it comes to establishing a business blog, a free blog is a huge mistake. Whether it’s a free account at WordPress.com or a Blogger.com blog, when you use a free blog service there’s no way to keep it a secret. The long and cryptic URL instantly gives you away.
Unfortunately, setting up shop on one of these sites just reinforces the assumption that you really are small potatoes and aren’t ready or able to compete in the global marketplace. If you would, by chance, beat the odds and build a respectable following on one of these free blog sites, you’ll find that valuable traffic doesn’t really belong to you, it belongs to the company hosting your blog. Migrating your blog from one of these free sites to a self hosted site is one fraught with peril. (Fraught…. who talks like that?)
A self hosting blog allows you to launch your blog under your own strong, easy to spell URL. For less than $20 per year, you can register a domain name that describes your business. Click here to see if your preferred domain name is available.
A self hosted blog allows you to create email addresses with your domain name as well. When you send messages to potential clients, to your bank or to suppliers, [email protected] (not real) looks far more professional than [email protected]
Best Strategy: Even if you don’t have a web site yet, start right with a self hosted Word Press blog. Acumen Web Services offers self hosted, no web expertise needed Word Press blogs.
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #2: Web sites that don’t look the part.
Start up is tough on everyone, but image is everything, especially to a solo entrepreneur launching a service based practice.
Your web site is your face to the world. Your clients may never see your office, but they will almost always see your web site. While an impressive off-line office address may be out of your reach, an impressive online presence can be had for a fraction of the price of a year’s lease on quality office space.
Best Strategy: For less than $60 you can pick up a professional web site template from Template Monster.com. If you’re looking to "dress" your Word Press blog, they offer Word Press Blog themes as well.
Your Web site should be the best marketing piece your business has simply because it’s likely to be seen by many more people than most paper brochures.
Just as you "dress up" to interview for a job, your web site should too! Every visitor is a potential employer (a.k.a. client!)!
EVEN BETTER: Visit Acumen Web Services. It takes you step by step through the process of establishing your blog.
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #3: Photo disasters….
Make sure the images on your web site are professional in quality. If you’re going to feature your photo on your site, make sure you get head shots done by a professional. There really is a difference between the photo shot in your back yard and the one shot in a professional studio. Lighting, composition and image quality are all readily apparent even to the casual visitor.
Speaking of professional photographs, if you use stock photos, be sure you or your designer has purchased the rights to use a particular image. The fines for using images you don’t have the right to use can easily run six figures, not including attorney fees.
Best Strategy: Use a professional web developer for your web design project. Ask about images and copyright information. If your designer/developer tries to dismiss your concerns, find another developer immediately.
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #4: The "if I build it, they will come" syndrome.
One of the most common mistakes independent service professionals make is to assume that a business web site instantly attracts clients. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Don’t wait to start marketing your practice online. As soon as your blog is launched, begin posting pillar articles to your blog. Pillar articles are foundational posts that set the tone for your entire blog.
If you’ve launched an Acumen Web Services Word Press Selft Hosted Blog, then your new web site comes designed with search engine success in mind. Which style of permalinks should you choose? How do you create (and maintain) a site map? You don’t have to worry about those questions because your Word Press blog is already optimized!
Best Strategy: Be certain your web site is designed with the search engines in mind. Ask what is being done to make your site "search engine friendly" during the design and development of your site. If you’re using a Word Press blog, make sure the right plug ins are installed.
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #5: It’s called the WORLD WIDE WEB for a reason
Don’t forget to put your location and phone number prominently on your Web site. Web sites are frequently used as a customer looking at it while calling the company. Many businesses find that customers will refer to something on the Web site, but they actually buy products or order services on the phone.
It’s also a good idea to put your mailing address on the site. If you’re working from home, get a PO Box or a virtual office. It adds to the comfort level of knowing you are a "real" business.
Best Strategy: Even if you’re a virtual service provider, there’s a sense of comfort for your customers in knowing what time zone you’re in. Include contact information prominently throughout the site.
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #6: The banner barrage
Joining a banner exchange will probably not help bring traffic to your Web site. Putting four banners on a page in addition to buy now buttons for Google plus six or seven other affiliate programs just makes your site look cheap. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog or a traditional web site, greeting a visitor with a barrage of ads is just another way of saying "Get Lost!"
Think about it. When you see a google ad words box on a site, the first thing that comes to mind is, "Hey, why don’t I try one of those links".
If you join affiliate programs you’ll find that you get much better results if you provide links to specific products in context, rather than a generic button to those companies’ home pages. This way you provide a service that makes sense for your business, rather than another distracting button on your Web site.
Best Strategy: Because of the search engine friendly of Word Press blogs, many people use them to make SIGNIFICANT money with affiliate programs. However, just placing affiliate links in your blogroll isn’t a good way to drive traffic to your affiliate links. Talking about the product or service within your posts will!
Deadly Online Marketing Sin #7: What do you do again?
The final deadly sin is to have a Web site that doesn’t quickly convey business you are in and the solutions you offer to your visitors. While it sounds like another no-brainer, you’d be surprised at how many small business Web sites leave you looking at them for minutes while pondering, "What is it exactly that these folks do?"
Remember, a confused mind says "no". Make sure your message is crystal clear from the moment your page loads.