Build Your Bridges: How to Improve Site Performance

“No man is an island” according to John Donne. Turns out, neither is no well-performing website.

Still, plenty of businesses build a website all about,and only about, them. It’s got their “about”, their FAQ’s, the contact pages, the list of services. Then, they go out and do their work.

There’s no blog to generate updated content.

There’s no social integration, online or otherwise.

They don’t participate in community events, initiatives, or charitable outlets.

Or, they do and never talk about it.

No one reviews them, links to them, or even really visits the site.

And, maybe the search engines don’t either, because they can’t access the site well. It’s just another pretty face with broken code and no inner optimization.

Sigh.

Here’s the analogy I always share: your website is an island. It’s real estate you buy and build upon. There’s an airstrip but only a few people have planes. What you need are bridges to the mainland. You need access pathways for your traffic to reach you.

It’s a web, this internet you built upon. Webs naturally have connections. If you aren’t connected, you aren’t truly here.

Incidentally, Jacksonville achieves connectivity through its many bridges over the St. John's River.

Incidentally, Jacksonville achieves connectivity through its many bridges over the St. John’s River.

 

 

Does Cost Predict Performance?

It’s a scary question. No one wants to invest in something that won’t get the job done. But there’s an even scarier question worth asking:

Does the performance reflect the cost?

There are so many examples out there of expensive things that don’t live up to their performance expectation. This is certainly true when it comes to products, tangible items. The phrase “durable goods” doesn’t mean what it used to. Things can be made more cheaply and they are, to the detriment of durability and very often, performance.

When it comes to products, sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you don’t.

It’s true in the service industry as well. Services may be a bit more difficult to ethically cost slash…but we all know this is a global economy. Money in one country means something else in another. Outsourcing happens. And along the way a reminder has been experienced.

Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you don’t.

In my career experience I’ve seen some things go on that make me boil. Here are a few:

  • Expensive websites that are so cluttered and cumbersome to load that traffic clicks away before the page finishes.
  • Expensive websites that have broken code, no anayltics and no optmization. Which means, all the continued and ongoing resource the site owner pours into the site won’t mean squat.
  • Cheap writing that was generated by a machine; a paragraphed assembly of irrational keywords that aimlessly stab in the search engine dark.
  • Cheap writing that was created by someone with poor language proficiency, which saved the owner a few bucks and makes their business look really bad.
  • Stories from business owners who were sold on services and products that don’t effectively  help them achieve their goals and target their unique audience.
  • Stories from business owners who do things because they are sure they need to…but can’t really explain why. It’s a sure fire red flag of either a random approach or a bad sale.

I believe business owners, no matter the size of their company and the strength of the current economy, care about where they spend their resources. Most of those I’ve worked with value investment over expenditure. With an investment, performance surpasses cost.

With a defined vision, a planned content structure, quality products and services, and ongoing analytics and performance reports, that will happen.

Photo taken at the Dreamette, a Jacksonville favorite for dipped cones.

Photo taken at the Dreamette, a Jacksonville favorite for dipped cones.

 

When Bad Marketing Happens to Good People

I don’t really understand why my electrician needs to be on Twitter. He’s on call 18 hours a day, has a family, and more work than he knows what to do with. But when he was here to fix some wires the other day, he heard what I did for a living and said, “Oh yeah, I need to get my business on Twitter and use social media.”

I found my electrician by searching online. He  needs a better listing in Google Places. His website should stay modest but it could certainly use a software update and some optimization to help him stay up in the rankings. His logo is a bit hokey; if brand identity really matters to him, that could use a fresh pass.

Mostly, he just needs a day off.

What made me bonkers that day was the reminder that one size does not fit all when it comes to marketing strategy. Some business really benefit from deep sites with extensive copy, very visible and frequent social media integration. They experience noted increases in conversion rates from email campaigns and newsletters. There are still industries who thrive on direct mail, customer incentives, and street signage. Some people get on social media and actually harm their own interests. Or, they sign up and spend on ideas they can’t make come to fruition.

Trying to do it all, just because you think everyone is doing it and so should you, is random and wrong. It’s spreading yourself too thin. Bad marketing isn’t about the medium: it’s about the application. So here’s the prescription:

  • Get a vision of what you want
  • Think about your audience and what they need
  • Create a plan to meet that need and engage their attention
  • Keep is Simple Sweetheart
  • Measure Your Progress.

If something isn’t working, you can always adjust. The catch is that you can’t measure progress if you don’t know where you started and where you want to be.

Case in point: A dentist wanted more customers. People need the dentist but they also hate going. Our city has tons to choose from too. So this marketing savvy dentist hatched a plan: make coming to the dentist more attractive.  He had his vision, he knew his audience, and he started a plan.

To get attention he:

  • has a great website that’s deep and easy to use.
  • invested in a fantastic reminder system that syncs with calendars. Patients get reminders via text, email, and with a phone call.
  • offers an incentive program that makes kids beg for their next appointment: free movie passes if you keep your scheduled 6 month appointment!

He kept it simple. His office is very busy actually handling patients and appointments. They don’t have time to maintain active social media profiles or write newsletters. They’ve seen marked customer increases through their incentives (there’s another one involving free dinners out for sharing a referral). Their website needed some improvements and they addressed that; I experienced their business model when they needed a series of internet articles written and published to increase their search rank. Their website comes out on top and they’re easy to reach. They have a good local reputation.  They’re happy, their customers are happy.

 

One size doesn’t fit all, no matter what the salesman says.

Photo taken at Mickler's Landing, south of Ponte Vedra.

Photo taken at Mickler’s Landing, south of Ponte Vedra.