Mobile Friendly – Google’s Latest Information

On Tuesday 24th May 2016 Google released a major announcement with regards to Adwords, but the whole emphasis of the information was how Adwords would work on mobile computing platforms.

As the opening words of the Google Blog stated “The shift to mobile is no longer on the horizon. It’s here.”

So what’s Google looking to offer to help Adword marketeers get better pay-back on mobile devices? In Google’s words, they have redesigned Adwords from the ground up.

Well, the first massive change is the ability to use a different advert format itself with expanded text ads; instead of one 25 character headline and two 35 character description lines, to work better with mobile devices there will now be two 30 character headlines and one consolidated 80 character description line; this should make advert creation a much simpler task!

Also mobile websites always work better with imagery, and display ads on mobile now make adverts match the look and feel of the content users are browsing.

Plus there’s a whole lot more your Adwords specialist needs to know about when promoting to mobile devices.

So, if you’re business is likely to attract mobile device searches, please get it made mobile friendly asap.

Mobile Friendly Websites – You Have Been Warned!

I’ve posted several times about the growing importance of your website being mobile friendly and the impact it will have on your business if you ignore this now very important element when people search.

Earlier in the year Google announced the following: “Getting good, relevant answers when you search shouldn’t depend on what device you’re using. You should get the best answer possible, whether you’re on a phone, desktop or tablet. Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches. Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.

And on the 12th May 2016 Google released a mobile significant search algorithm update.

So how many users are changing the way they search?
Good question: I looked at some data for PHG, a pet sitting franchise I work with, and here is the search device change we’ve seen over the past twelve months:

April 2015: desktop 75% versus 25% mobile /tablet
April 2016: desktop 40% versus 60% mobile /tablet

I have to be honest, even I was a little taken aback at how big a change there had been in just twelve months!

If you want to test your website, click here to go to Google’s own mobile-friendly checker.

I can’t state this any clearer: if you are not mobile friendly this is going to damage your business, so get mobile asap, it’s easier and cheaper than you would imagine!

New Barn Doors, But…

The horse had already bolted! This blog explores what happens if you don’t protect your websites thoroughly enough, as I have just found out, and the barn doors refer to the security systems I now have in place.

To be honest, I thought I was pretty diligent and my websites were safe – I’d check my websites regularly and made sure they were kept up to date. The problem was, I had some old websites that were forgotten about and these were left to their own devices, and it would appear that malware got in via an out-dated (and free) old plug-in.

So what happened? Well this is pretty much the gruesome sequence:

• First noticed websites were loading really slowly
• Then spotted there seemed to be an odd reference flashing up in the bottom left hand corner where the transfer information shows
• Got calls from website owners that there sites were starting to load and then diverting to very unsavoury websites
• My hosting company noted there was malware and pulled down every website
• All my linked Adwords campaigns then got stopped by Google

This was now a complete mess – I couldn’t restore my websites until I could prove they were clean, and I didn’t know what was wrong with them, how to clean them, or if any of my back-ups were malware free or already infected!

So how did I ultimately fix this?

1. Paid a lot of money to a security expert to go through every website and remove everything malicious. This turned out to be numerous things, including scripts hidden in the html code, renaming of pictures, every published page and blog having spam codes entered etc.

2. Paid a lot of money to install proper security software (Wordfence).

3. Spent a lot of time and effort checking websites myself, getting my hosting company to re-instate the websites, and finally getting Google to re-instate all the Adword campaigns.

The moral of the story is pretty obvious, but I’m still shocked at how fast this got out of control once they managed to get in. So if you have a website, check your website provider has you covered, or get those new barn doors now!

There Are Only Three Ways…!

If like me, you’re a big fan of Jay Abraham, one of the modern day greats in understanding strategic business and marketing, you’ll already know there are only three ways to increase your sales… can you list them?

Okay, everybody lists ‘get more clients’, it’s perhaps the easiest one to come up with. Now here’s the catch: research shows that of the three it’s actually by far the hardest to achieve. So before we move on, can I ask, where do you spend most of your time trying to increase sales?

In my experience working with SMEs, a big mistake many make is to concentrate 100% of their effort into finding new clients, often at the expense and ignoring the other two massive opportunities.

So how are you doing with the other two? Let me give you a big clue: it’s linked to your existing customers. That’s right – those valued clients you fought tooth and nail to win, who have already been persuaded to buy from you, and are now in an existing business relationship with you.

You see these clients are already on your side – they know you, they’ve been through the hard stuff, and because of this they will be much easier to convince to make future purchases when compared to winning the unknown new client.

So have you got the other two ways yet? Top marks if you considered both increase order value and increase sales frequency. By focussing your sales strategy and efforts here too, you will find it surprisingly easy to get additional growth in your business!

New Year Resolutions – Who Needs Them…?

With 2016 now upon us, many people will have either considered or implemented a New Year resolution for themselves. The sad news is, the majority break their resolution(s) after just 10 days! So why bother… well, what about resolutions for business?

Pretty much every year I blog something about that if you fail to plan you better plan to fail.

If you do nothing else proactive this year for your business, write a realistic marketing plan.

It doesn’t need to be a massive, unusable document – it’s a guide that will tell you what you are going to do for the next 12 months, and should contain sections on:

Goals
Your Products/Services
Customers (New & Existing)
The Competition
SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
USPs (Unique Selling Points)
Pricing & Positioning
Marketing Activities
Measurements & Checks

There are plenty of free online resources to help you create your plan, or alternatively if that sounds too much hard work, hire someone to do the work for you!

Business Sins Part 2 – A Few More to Consider

Following my post a couple of weeks ago on the subject of Business Sins, a friend asked me whether my blog was the definitive list of main omissions for business owners; sadly the answer is a resounding “No” – I’d just recorded the first few I’d worked on regularly but had a whole load more in reserve!

Once again, see if any of these seem familiar:

  1. Automated Referral System. No system or process in place to gather referrals from existing happy customers.
  2. Internet Marketing. Just getting a website is not going to get customers – you need to direct them to it.
  3. Google Ranking. It has to be Google in the UK and you have to carry-out a genuine search as a customer would rather than a specific company search; if you’re not above the scroll line page one you’re nowhere.
  4. Different Routes To Market. Don’t get stuck in the “this is the way we’ve always done it” – try and test new ideas.
  5. Failing to Test. Be it campaigns, offers, reports, samples etc.
  6. Direct Response Marketing. Unless you’re a large customer I would suggest all your advertising has a ‘call to action’.
  7. Website Construction. As above, my main gripe is not having a clear call to action strategy – what do you want people to do who visit your website and how will you persuade them to do this?
  8. No Mobile Website. If your business is likely to be searched via mobile devices you need to have a mobile-friendly website; in 2015 more people search this way than on traditional devices.
  9. Customer Records. Details on who has contacted you all the way through to what they’ve bought and what they’re worth to you.
  10. No Current & Updated Marketing Strategy. If you only market when your business is down your sales will most likely lurch from feast to famine.
  11. Asking For The Sale. A lot of small business owners struggle to ask customers to commit, but if you don’t supply them someone else will.
  12. Testimonials and Endorsements. Use the customers who bought from you – they clearly liked the product/services you supplied to get them to promote for you.

If any of these apply to you and you’re struggling to overcome them or want to find ways to grow your business generally please get in touch – they’re easy to fix!

The Marketing Gold Mine

I’ve often been asked if there is a simple book that will help business owners understand the marketing psychology that makes customers say “yes” and will then explain how to apply these understandings. The short answer is yes: there is a brilliant book called ‘Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini (Ph.D)

The background to the book is that Cialdini wanted to understand for himself why things were more persuasive, and so carried out research in the area of persuasion which he conducted and then published. Not surprisingly, although a useful tool for others to understand why they were persuaded into things, this information was a gold mine to all potential marketers, and the six universal principles he identified are adopted in every good marketing campaign I’ve ever seen, an if you apply them yourselves it will undoubtably help you grow your business.

The six principles are:

1. Reciprocation
2. Commitment & consistency
3. Social proof
4. Liking
5. Authority
6. Scarcity

If you are involved (or ever going to be involved) in marketing, read this book as it is worth its weight in gold!

Business Sins – Which Of These Do You Commit…?

During the course of my work I get to see the inner workings of many companies and how their respective owners operate. As an exercise, I thought I’d list the most common areas of work I help my clients with, and to be honest all of these are pretty serious business sins!

Here are my first four, in no particular order, but all highly important if you want to grow your business:

    1. No sales lead management. As the saying goes “another day older – another day colder!” I am constantly surprised that companies, be they one person sole traders to large corporations, have awful lead management. Ask yourself, if you filled in an enquiry form or webpage or left a message, when would you like to be called back? Your answer is how your business should operate, but so many delay in contacting their leads? And worse still, these leads will have cost them money!
    2. Owner Focus and Time Management. I’ve written about this before, but I see too many leaders be anything but! It’s too easy to get caught up in the day to day running of the business, and perhaps in your particular line you have too, BUT… you are the one who has to guide the company to success, and the only way to do that is to be strategic sometimes and plan what you want your company to do.
    3. Poor Sales Skills. I once worked with a company that had never invested in any formal sales training, and yet they kept wondering why their competition constantly beat them on new business opportunities. Whatever your products or services, good sales skills will make your business better – you will win more business and lose fewer customers – it’s that simple.
    4. Cost Management. Do you ever make a significant purchase e.g. a car without doing some research and probably haggling over the price? Well, now consider your business – do you review and keep your costs under control and your suppliers on their toes? Business cost is straight off the bottom line, it takes away your profit, and often the fastest way to increase your profits 10% is to reduce your costs a similar amount.

Now, any of these seem familiar? If yes and you want to expand your busiess, I would suggest resolving them as soon as possible.

The Fear of Rejection!

A recurring problem many companies have is actually asking a potential client for business, or as it’s professionally known as ‘closing’. This skill can make even some of the most professional sales people nervous and fearful, and it’s often seen as a stressful moment in the business relationship. But it shouldn’t be.

When I work with my development clients on sales techniques that grow your business I like to do two things early on: a) dismiss the fear factor around the worse-case scenario for the outcome, and b) provide them with a magical and simple closing technique.

So let’s think what the worst thing that can happen will be – well of course it’s when the clients says “No”. Now note: they didn’t say “Never cross our threshold or else” or “I never want to see you again”, they simply said “No”, and all that means is that what you have offered the client so far is not acceptable to them – that’s all.

There’s a statistic that says on average buyers say “No” three times before they say “Yes” – so guess what happens if you stop after the first “No” – your business goes to a competitor!

So all a “No” really means is that you have a little bit more work to do.

Now a worrying aspect of this for many businesses is that they don’t even get to this part. So what is there was a way you could ask for a sale, without directly asking for a sale?

Well there is, and it’s called the Assumptive Close, and it’s one my favourites! This technique is great for people who find asking for the sale directly too upfront. The basis of the technique is simple, in that all you do is assume the deal is already done, and you ask a follow-up question relating to the sale.

For example, let’s say you’re selling packaging, the assumptive sales close would be something like: “So, when would you like us to deliver the new specification P1 pack kits to you, and is there someone we should ask for specifically?”.

No direct close, just an assumption that the sale is going ahead that’s neat and stress free; as someone once said “Simples!”.

Seven Useful Reporting Tools for Small Businesses

The observation “I know half my advertising dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.” was credited to department-store magnate John Wanamaker over a century ago, and this sentiment is still often true for business owners today. And if you’re a small business with limited budget, it’s even more important that you spend your hard earned money wisely and effectively.

Luckily today, there a number of useful tools to help small business owners be better informed and become more effective with their online marketing, and this is a précis of an article I recently read.

Google Analytics. If you have a website you should have this free tool installed and some regular automatic reports set-up. It provides comprehensive information about how many people are landing on your website, how long they stay, and what they click on etc., and from this information you can create a far better website.

Facebook Insights. If you use Facebook for business, this tool is useful to track your ‘fans’, the effectiveness of your posts, and how many people are directed to your website from Facebook, or from other sites to your Facebook page.

Moz Analytics. This service helps you track your social media marketing, links, and content marketing all in one location, plus gives you an insight into what your competitors are doing e.g. how many people are visiting their websites and how they are getting there.

Clicky. Provides ‘heat maps’ for your website to see where visitors click most on your web pages. You can track individual visitors to your site and see what actions they took, and this available in real time.

Crazy Egg. Similar to Clicky but contains additional features such as where the user has come from or the search term they used to find you etc.

Mouseflow. The main feature is that you can see exactly what a user does when visiting your website, to the extent that you can actually watch their mouse moving around and filling in forms (useful to see if people don’t like your form or give up half-way through).

Mint. There is a one-time fee for this tool, and contains some great features such as being able to see information about how your visitors got to your website etc.

If you have an online presence and not using the resources, I strongly suggest you check them out and see what they can do for you – they provide great information all at your fingertips.