If you’re in business, you want to reach as many people as possible in your target market. But in order to do that, you need to take action, and not just any action – you want to take the right actions that will accomplish your goals and objectives. The following steps and strategies will help you to build long-term relationships with people and at the same time, help you to expand your business and your reach.
First and foremost, you MUST have a website for your business. It is no longer an option. A website states your credibility and it is far more than a digital business card telling people who you are, where you are, what you believe and what you do because of what you believe.
Typically, people will not do business with you before they have Googled you, Yahoo’ed you or at the very least YouTubed you (for those of you who don’t know, those are the top search engines). Right or wrong, the majority of people think this way: if they can’t find you online, you don’t exist – that is, you have no credibility in their minds. A basic website is better than no website at all and here are the basic steps for putting one together.
Five Steps to Get Your Website Up & Running
1. The first step is to come up with a good, simple and clear domain name for your website (ie. www.leannegolan.com). In choosing your name, do your absolute best not to use hyphens simply because it’s too complicated – people will forget the hyphen and end up at someone else’s website. Whatever domain name you choose, .com is the most valuable tld (top-level domain). If you can’t get .com, go for .org or .net. Avoid trends like .me or .name, as these trends will always be less valuable than the three top-level domains. If your audience is worldwide (and chances are, they will be), then .com is the best known and first-assumed domain name extension people think of. If you can get all three top-level domains, go for it to protect your brand and identity. You don’t want the First Church of Satan or some porn site in Russia snapping up your domain and using it for their own purposes. Use DomainSearch.com or another neutral and trustworthy place to check the availability of your domain name.
2. Once you have a domain name in mind, you will need to register it with a domain registrar. Too many entrepreneurs delegate this to the so-called “web expert” in their church or someone in the Philippines, who ends up owning the domain along with complete control over your website, just before they go M.I.A. (missing in action), leaving you with a dead website and no control. I cannot stress this strongly enough: you MUST own your own domain name. And now that you know how easy it is, why would you put your online presence and brand in the hands of someone else?
A domain name registrar is an organization or commercial entity that manages the reservation of internet domain names. You can use an organization like Namecheap who will not try to sell you more than you want or try to place things in your shopping cart that you didn’t order like some disreputable domain registrars who shall remain nameless. It is recommended to purchase two years at a time and the cost should be around $10-15/year USD.
3. The next action step is to purchase hosting for your website.
In order to publish your website on the internet, you need a website host, which stores your website on a server to be accessed by the world. Your website must be uploaded to the web host in order for people to access it when they type in your url (ie. http://www.leannegolan.com). Web hosting should cost around $10 USD/month at the most and in many cases, less. You can choose to pay monthly or annually for a discount. For a one-click WordPress installation, you can use a web host like FutureQuest or DreamHost (affiliate links).
4. The next step is to install WordPress, using this link for quick information on how to do a 5-minute WordPress install. Or as mentioned above, you can choose the one-click WordPress install with your web host. If you have any questions or problems about WordPress installation, email setup or anything else regarding your website, contact your web hosting company.
For those who have never used WordPress, here are some free video tutorials to learn WordPress basics.
5. The final step is to purchase or develop a WordPress theme for your website. A theme is simply a design template for your website. You can hire someone to develop this for you at an average cost of $1000-5000 USD. This is where many people end up spending far more than they wanted to on a site that they may or may not be happy with in the end. Another option is to purchase a theme from a company like ThemeForest, (affiliate link) which offers WordPress themes and designs created by a variety of developers for an average cost of $40-60. Yes, you can get a great design for that little. You should have a little bit of WordPress experience to be able to monkey around under the hood, but generally, most people can and do figure it out by contacting the theme developer for support or Googling any questions or problems they might have. Other options are to go to Fiverr.com and for as little as five bucks, hire someone to help you with a custom banner or video to add some bells and whistles to your website. Make sure you check the reviews from previous customers before choosing who to work with. I have been successful in finding some great service providers through Fiverr.com and if you find someone you like working with, it can save you literally hundreds of dollars.
So those are the basics as far as getting a website up and running. Let’s move on to Website Musts & Must-Haves.
Website Musts & Must-Haves:
1. You must give visitors the information they’re looking for or they will leave within seconds.
The first and foremost page people go to is your About page. People do not want to know about a building or an organization. They want to know about you – who are you? Can I trust you? Can you help me? What’s your background and experience in helping others like me? Is your product what I’m looking for? Will it solve my problem? And how much will it cost me?
2. You must have the know, like and trust factor and you must not assume everyone knows what you know about you and your ministry.
Chris Brogan wrote a book called The Know, Like and Trust Factor, stating the obvious: People can’t trust you unless they know you. People can’t know you unless you put yourself out there to be known. What’s the best way to do that? Photos, mp3’s of you talking about your product, service or sharing your message. What’s even better? Video. You can have a video of you teaching a workshop, speaking at a conference if that’s what you do, or better yet, just talking to the person behind the camera face to face. Audio and video help to create an atmosphere of personal intimacy with the listener or viewer that simply cannot be duplicated in print only.
3. You must show and tell people what to do and you must not assume they are smarter than they are.
What is the first thing you want people to do when they come to your site? Then make that abundantly clear. You have to assume people don’t know anything. Use a large, colorful button or an arrow to point them to where you want them to look and actually tell them what you want them to do (ie. sign up for my free newsletter!). It helps to give them an incentive – reward them for doing what you wanted them to do. You can give them a free teaching that is exclusive to those who sign up for your list. Then figure out the second thing you want them to do and the third thing, but don’t give people too many things to do or they will do nothing. Too many choices equals confusion and it’s been said that a confused mind always says no. Keep things streamlined and simple and people will be more likely to take action.
4. Your website must be well-thought out and organized and you must not give people too many choices.
As stated above, too many choices lead to confusion and overwhelm. When people come to your website, you must make it easy for them to get what they want or they will leave. At the most, you should have 4-5 pages on your website and the fewer the better. What do you want them to do when they come to your website? Sign up for your newsletter? Tell them exactly what you want them to do and make it easy for them to follow through.
5. Your website must be responsive and you must not ignore the fact that mobile is here to stay.
More than half of smartphone users use their phone to surf the web. And as more people access the internet through iPads, tablets and smartphones, your website needs to be responsive. Responsive web design detects the device and screen size being used to view your website and adapts automatically and seamlessly. Whether they’re at home on a desktop, on an airplane checking your site on their tablet or at a restaurant or the mall on their iPhone, Blackberry or Android, you want viewers to access your site no matter where they are or what device they’re using. One company reported an increase of 377% in traffic upon going responsive.
6. You must build a relationship with your audience and communicate consistently.
There are millions of websites competing for people’s attention. Everything comes down to relationship, relationship and relationship. It starts with the know, like and trust factor. But beyond that, the next step is to build on that relationship. You are now asking them to join you on a journey of growth. You are taking them by the hand and mentoring them personally through a weekly email using Mailchimp or Aweber (affiliate link). Adding audio or video takes your communication to another level and helps people to know, like and trust you. You don’t need anything fancy. Gone are the days when you need to create a slick digital magazine or newsletter. People are already overloaded. They don’t have time to sit down and read an entire newsletter. They may even mean to come back to it when they have more time, but more often than not, they won’t because there are a million other things competing for their attention. The internet has made us go A.D.D. Anything more than a few paragraphs is too much. Most of the time, a thousand word article is too much. You want to keep it short and sweet. Video should be 2-5 minutes max. Audio 30 minutes is okay. If it’s an online course, 60 minutes of information to consume in a week should be the absolute max. Any more than that, and you’ve got casualties, as people vote with their trackpad or keyboard. One blog post each week is sufficient for most websites.
6. You must use video somewhere on your site, preferably unedited.
Nothing builds rapport and relationship faster than video. The good news is that video does not have to be perfect. In fact, if it’s not, it’s even better. People want authenticity. People want the real you. They’re okay with the um’s and ah’s and your hair not being absolutely perfect. In fact, they seem to like that side of you. If you mess up a word or a complete sentence, keep going. Yes – it’s everything contrary to what you believed – but what about doing everything with “excellence?” Of course, content is important. Your facts must be correct and you must speak their language – know your audience and speak to them in their language, at their level. But people are tired of fake hair and photoshopped perfection. They know you’re not perfect because they’re not perfect. And if they can’t relate to you, they won’t listen to you.
With many businesses, there is the question of live streaming versus archived video. Live streaming can be useful for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to connect and/or interact with their audience in real-time. LiveStream offers both live streaming and archived videos. Another option is Ustream.
What’s great about archived videos is that viewers can access them when it’s convenient for them. They may be in another city attending while you are live streaming. You can upload short videos to YouTube or Vimeo. YouTube is the number two search engine in the world. While many people go crazy working on seo strategies to keep up with Google’s ever-changing rules, YouTube videos rank high on Google just by their very virtue. And it’s a lot less work and hassle. While everyone is competing for attention on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, YouTube is an effective way to gain followers. Online video reaches 85% of the internet market and has increased 800% in the last 6 years. YouTube has more than 1 billion unique viewers per month. YouTube videos can be embedded onto your website or social media and automatically adjust to whatever device people are viewing it on.