Ask any small business owner about referrals and you’ll probably hear that they are the lifeblood of their business. And the reason is simple: When you have a constant flow of referrals, it’s easy to get new customers. When you don't, generating steady business becomes more difficult.
Studies have shown that referrals are 10 times more likely to generate new customers than any other form of sales or marketing communication. After all, few things are more reassuring than a positive endorsement from someone you know and trust.
Why don’t more small business owners use referrals? Mainly because it’s harder than it looks. Asking for referrals can feel awkward and make you uncomfortable. You don’t want to come across as pushy.
Here are ten ways to get referrals that don't make you look like you’re desperate for new customers.
1. Create A Referral Generating Program
The referral program doesn’t have to be complicated, but referrals are not automatic. Some “just happen,” but most occur because you do something to make them happen. Some business owners assume that a great product or outstanding customer service is all it takes to generate referrals. Uh, no.
Communicate details of your referral program to your best customers via your newsletter, through emails or other customer mailings, or on social media. Tell them that for every referral they send your way, they’ll receive something in return. Incentives like a gift card to a favorite coffee shop, percentage off future work, or a charitable donation in their name are powerful for encouraging referrals.
Here’s how Dropbox and Airbnb asked for referrals. Tailor your program to the format you’re comfortable with, one that you will use consistently.
You should definitely be asking your customers for referrals. Be direct and just ask. It’s not pushy or awkward if you’ve earned it by going above and beyond. But…you have to ask. Most customers are open to being asked for referrals, so don’t be afraid.
You may get your best results by asking new customers first. They probably haven’t referred anyone to you in the past, so their network is “virgin territory.”
When you receive praise from a customer about work well done, ask them to tell a few of their friends or colleagues who might be interested in your services. This should become an automatic part of your customer support process.
3. Focus On Your Best Customers
Instead of targeting all of your customers, focus on the ones that you already have a relationship with, those that offer complementary products and services, or those in your community. They’ll be more likely to refer you and your services to others since they trust you and can vouch for your work or products. By targeting these customers, you have a good chance to generate the highest quality referrals.
4. Recognize And Say Thank You
Whether by phone, email, handwritten note or thank you card, encourage customers to refer others by showing you appreciate the chance to earn and keep their business. When they send a new client your way, thank them with a handwritten note or card.
Provide your referring customers with feedback on how things are going with the person they referred. People who refer business your way want to make sure you’re doing a good job for the people they refer to you. It’s their reputation on the line as much as yours. And definitely share with them the success stories that occur as a result of their referral. Hopefully, this motivates them to refer more people.
5. Make It Easy For Them To Refer
It has to be easy for people to refer you. If there is any vagueness to the process, your chances of losing a referral drop significantly.
Here’s a few suggestions for ways you can make referring easy.
6. Let Customers Know You Are Open to Referrals
Don’t miss out on referrals because your customers aren’t aware that you’re looking for them. To let them know, you might add a line to your email signature about your interest in referrals or mention referrals in the emails you send to customers.
A tip: Don’t look desperate by asking for referrals everywhere, in every correspondence.
7. Give A Referral To Get A Referral
A good way to get referrals is to give referrals. An alliance with others in our industry, such as interior decorators, tile studios, lighting galleries, etc., with benefit both of you. For example, if you don’t sell countertops, refer your customers to a granite shop you trust and then ask the same from them. It’s a definite win-win.
Read our blog for the many, many ways you can benefit from having a referral partner relationship.
8. Be Active On Linkedin
LinkedIn is a helpful tool for referrals and getting introduced to potential customers. For instance, LinkedIn gives you the ability to contact your connection’s connections.
Before reaching out to prospects, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and offer proof that you’re an active member by creating and sharing relevant content.
9. Do a Great Job for Your Customers
To make referrals an active part of your lead generating activities, you need to actually be referable. Deliver what you promise, when you promise it. The greatest source of referrals is a happy customer, so be remarkable. Prove to your customers why your company is special and worthy of being referred.
10. Don't Wait For The Pipeline To Dry Up
Put a referral process in place now to create a continuous and consistent flow of referrals so that you're not left scrambling when the referrals stop coming in.
Getting more referrals isn’t rocket science, but it does take commitment. You have to devote yourself to putting in the work it takes to let your customers know you want referrals.
When you put a successful referral program into action, you’ll have a different problem: how to handle all the new business you get from your referrals.
Want to know more about generating referrals? Here’s some sources.
“Nurture” is such a pleasant word. Think of lovingly caring for something so that it grows and flourishes. We nurture our children; we nurture our gardens. And as marketers, we can nurture our prospects so they grow into customers.
Lead nurturing is simply the process of communicating and connecting with prospects at every stage of the sales funnel.
The most efficient nurturing occurs using email drip campaigns.
What are drip campaigns?
At its most basic, a drip campaign is a series of emails sent out at strategic times to accomplish a specific goal. Like the drip irrigation systems they’re named after, you “drip” emails to the inboxes of your prospects and customers.
This kind of timed-release marketing is great for products and services with a long selling cycle. High-ticket products or complex services are perfect for nurturing campaigns.
The majority of people who visit your website, stop in your showroom, or contact you via any means for the first time simply aren’t ready to buy. How do you stay top-of-mind when these prospects eventually decide to buy? With a drip campaign, of course.
Using your understanding of your customers and how your sales funnel works, you can create emails that nudge a new prospect through the buying process. What search terms did he use to find you? What pages in your website did he visit? What did he download? What is he likely to respond to, based on answers to these questions?
The New Prospect
The New Prospect is a crucial stage when you’ll be sending the first message to your new lead. He was once a visitor browsing your site. Now he’s given you his email. Welcome emails give you the perfect chance to engage while he’s still “hot”.
Here’s a welcome email we received from Bitly.
As you can see, they provided info to get us started with their product.
Welcome emails are a great way to introduce prospects to your blog. Give them access to information that can help them make their decision to buy and create some goodwill in the process.
Follow up your Welcome email in a day or two to get them used to seeing your name in their inbox. Here you can offer something interesting or valuable they didn’t know before.
Here’s our follow-up email from Bitly. They are upselling, yes, but they are providing information we can use to make their product more applicable to our use.
After the follow up email your prospects should be moved from Prospect to Engaged Prospect.
The Engaged Prospect
At this stage, continue to drip emails that your prospects can find useful, interesting or informative. Here’s where you can send them newsletters, “exclusive” content to appeal to their egos, limited time offers to get them moving, “feel-good” emails to build rapport and make them feel appreciated, holiday emails that, of course, are in the spirit of the holidays and not about selling, news about industry-related events, educational emails that detail why your services and products are better than your competition’s, etc.
Remember, there’s a reason why there’s a torture named after drips of water that never end. A constant flow of emails that are not related to your audience’s interests is more annoying than anything else. And annoyed recipients will unsubscribe in a hurry.
The New Customer
When you first close a prospect, you can make sure they receive the most value from their new kitchen or bath. Using a drip campaign, you can keep new customers engaged and introduce them to the best ways to take care of their new cabinets, countertops, floors, etc.
A thank you email is first. Then ask for reviews. In your message, provide links to the sites where you want reviews to appear. Read more about how to ask for reviews and why they are important here and here.
The Customer for Life
It’s seven times easier to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Customers for whom you have completed jobs get moved into their own list segment and receive emails from your drip campaigns less frequently than those you are actively trying to sell. Anniversary emails are good. “It’s been a year since we finished your kitchen.” Send them invitations to showroom events to let them know you’re still thinking of them. Ask, in a subtle way, of course, for recommendations of friends and family who might be in the market for a new kitchen. And you wouldn’t miss the opportunity to ask if they’re interested in a new bath or office re-design, would you?
Re-Engage Inactive Prospects and Customer
Keep leads that don’t close in their own segment and do a drip nurturing campaign to keep them warm. When they’re finally ready to buy, you’ll still be on their radar.
Email marketing is still one of the best ways to communicate with an audience, even after all these years. Email is the most direct way to get specific content to a specific lead, but effective emails need to meet certain criteria:
Automate your drip email campaigns
Sending the different types of emails we looked at here to various list segments at specific times can be overwhelming and labor-intensive if you try to do it manually. You need to have a marketing automation program to help you identify, categorize and target your prospects and customers. This kind of campaign is where marketing automation really works, especially when it comes to reducing effort and boosting overall results.
There is no lack of programs on the market to perform these tasks for you. A simple search for “drip marketing” produced more ads than links to articles. We’re not recommending any of these, per se, but they are the ones that came up at the top of the list.
Today's customers have access to all the product information they need to make informed buying decisions. What they are really looking for is someone they can trust and have an on-going relationship with. Providing helpful and relevant content at strategic times is one of the best ways to nurture trust and build a relationship with prospects.
Using an email drip campaign, you can provide content and build relationships by matching your emails with where your prospects and customers are in your sales funnel.
The process begins from the moment they first express interest. And guiding them through the buying journey will convert them from prospects to loyal customers when the drip campaigns are run correctly.
For additional reading on this topic, try these.
When you look at a web page with a call-to-action, the last thing you’re thinking about is the psychology that went into creating it. However, there’s more psychology powering an effective call-to-action than you’re aware of. Knowing something about this psychology can help you create the types of calls-to-action that convert browsers into buyers.
For example, you read about an online tool that can increase your business productivity. You go to the website to check it out. Before you know it, you’re clicking the “Buy Now” button. What persuaded you to go to that website and buy the product? It was a series of effective calls-to-action that moved you forward through the buying process.
The call-to-action represents the critical difference between a bounce and a conversion. You can have strong page content and the best product or service, but if you don’t present a clear and well-designed call-to-action, you will lose sales.
Simply stated, a call-to-action is designed to motivate your readers to take some kind of action.
The call-to-action can take various forms, from text to an image to a button to a video. The action that the user takes can be varied as well: making a purchase, downloading software, subscribing to a newsletter, signing up for a free trial, liking your page, or asking for more information.
What psychological principles can you apply to your calls-to-action to get people to take the action you want them to take? The following are some of them.
When prospects visit your website or landing page, they are expecting to see a call-to-action. Based on their previous experiences with landing pages, they know you will ask them to take some action.When prospects visit your website or landing page, they are expecting to see a call-to-action. Based on their previous experiences with landing pages, they know you will ask them to take some action.
This doesn’t mean they are going to take the action you want them to take. It simply means their minds are prepared for the experience of being asked to act.
Curiosity | Satisfaction
We as humans are naturally curious. It’s how we learn, and it’s a powerful driver. The urge to find out what happens after clicking on the call-to-action is the perfect example of curious activity. And after we click on that call-to-action, we’re promised satisfaction. We’re curious, but what we’re really after is the satisfaction we get after clicking through.
How can you trigger that curiosity to your advantage?
Offer a teaser of what your site visitors will get for joining or provide a bit of the content they’ll find inside the download. Give them just enough information to pique their curiosity.
The copy on your call-to-action should promise a discovery. Use terms like “secrets” and “tips & tricks.” Ideally, the desire to reveal those “secrets” will drive them to click through.
We humans are wired for anticipation. We anticipate positive experiences because our minds retain positive experiences more than negative ones. And, surprisingly, the anticipation can be more pleasurable than the actual experience.
To create anticipation, consider that you’re telling a story, with the landing page providing the introduction and plot development. The call-to-action acts as the climax of the story and creates the cliff hanger. Your prospects will have to click on the call-to-action to find out the ending to your story; otherwise, they’re left hanging.
If your website isn’t getting you as many conversions as you want, the story you’re telling isn’t reaching your prospects on the emotional level necessary to create anticipation.
Many of our actions are based on what we think the reward for that action will be. Calls-to-action reinforce this behavior. If we sign up for this email list, we’ll get the thing we really want for free. Each time we get a reward like that, the idea is reinforced.
We do it so many times that it’s almost like a habit. When we see a landing page, we are conditioned to respond in a certain way. We’ve learned, through conditioning, to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli. Remember Pavlov’s dog?
When it comes to the call-to-action, we have the same type of experience. We have a conditioned response to the reward that comes after we click. Our mental history has taught us that clicking or signing up brings a feeling of reward.
Our brains automatically process things we read and see, looking for patterns that help us understand information faster. Your call-to-action can take advantage of this predisposition to look for repetition by using a phrase repeatedly to “prime” your user for the call-to-action.
As an example, if you want people to buy something, work the phrase “save money” throughout the page. Use that phrase in the header, body, and final call-to-action button. By the time the user reaches the call-to-action, his brain has already correlated the action of “click to purchase” with saving money.
Sense of Urgency | FOMO
Retailers discovered long ago that certain words prompt people to act faster. That’s why their ads say “amazing limited-time offers”. We’re more likely to buy now if we’re afraid that we can’t buy tomorrow.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) plays into this sense of urgency as well. If we don’t act fast, other people will get something that we won’t. No one wants to miss out on a good deal.
Improve your conversion rate by creating the same sense of urgency. Use phrases like “last chance,” “offer expires,” or “going fast.” These phrases highlight the scarcity of your product and prompt the user to click your call-to-action before the deal is gone.
Exclusivity is a powerful motivator. Nothing feels more exclusive than being one of the first to have the insider scoop. Don’t simply ask your user to “subscribe here;” prompt them to “become an insider”, “be the first to hear about it” or “get it before everyone else.”
The rarer something is, the more people want it, and the more valuable it becomes.
Psychologically, users aren’t really interested in product features. They’re interested in how those features can help them solve problems. Higher conversions happen when you answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Think about how your product saves time, money, or hassle for the searcher, then incorporate that value into your call-to-action.
A call-to-action button that says “never be late again” creates more of an impact than one that says “get our time management app.”
Minimizing risk eases your propsect's fears and hesitations during the buying process and encourages them to buy or sign up.
Make it clear in your calls-to-action that your free trial is “no-obligation” Or, that your service includes a “money-back guarantee”.
Tap into the power of the word “free.” It can be one of the most persuasive words in the English language, and it’ll help you get more click-throughs.
Ultimately, you want your visitors to think, “There’s no harm in giving this a try.”
The psychological impact of color is a complex subject all to itself. For our purposes here, we'll just say that colors automatically evoke emotion in us and send information on a subconscious level. Thus, color plays a role in influencing how people respond to your call-to-action. Some marketers believe that a specific color is better than another, saying blue (for example) will work better than red in getting people to click.
The reality is that everyone responds differently and there’s no "magic" color that converts best. Just make sure your call-to-action stands out on the page.
A good practice is to follow up your primary call-to-action with a secondary one, such as “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook”. Be aware, however, that the more options you give your prospects, the less likely they are to choose one, and the more likely they are to bounce.
This phenomenon is called Decision Paralysis and preventing your visitors from experiencing it can help you get higher conversions.
Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior. By applying the principles of psychology when creating your calls-to-action, you’ll be tapping into the power of the psychological forces that drive your prospects to click through and go from browsers to buyers.
For additional reading on this fascinating subject, try these sources:
Whether we like it or not, we’re entering a time in digital marketing where voice search is taking over. The use of smartphone assistants and smart speakers -- Google Home, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa -- has exploded. Voice search has increased in popularity as the ability to recognize speech has improved significantly, with the majority of the users between the ages of 18–43.
ComScore has predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice search, and 30% of searches will take place without a screen.
How Can You Take Advantage of The Growth in Voice Search?
Optimize Your Website for Voice Search
Sharpen Your Local SEO
Data usage tells us that many voice search users are looking for business information, so it’s important to optimize your website for local SEO to get in on the local action.
Make sure your Google My Business Page is up to date, with correct address, contact details and business hours. If a user asks: “where’s the nearest hair salon?”, you want your info to be correct, so you have a shot at the top position.
Don’t have a Google My Business account? Get one! It’s free and can create significant exposure for your business if you’re optimized enough to show up in Google’s local three-pack.
Other ways to optimize for local search include building up your online reviews. We’ve had plenty to say about that in other blogs posts. Here and Here.
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. It needs to load quickly. And you need to have your business listed in multiple third-party apps and local directories for those all-important citations.
Aim to Get in the Featured Snippet
When you type a question into Google, the first result is often a featured snippet – a short summary of the answer pulled from a third-party site. Becoming the featured snippet is highly desirable for visibility and traffic.
We asked: “How much does a new kitchen cost?” Here’s the featured snippet result.
In voice search, getting your company into the featured snippet is especially important because Google voice search delivers only one answer. One. Users no longer get ten different options to consider.
Virtual assistants can even read that one answer back, so users don’t have to look at their screen. More often than not, the first result they hear either satisfies their query or they change their search.
Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
Include more long-tail keywords in your SEO efforts. Long-tail keywords are long phrases in a conversational sentence or question format. For example, a typical keyword might be “tacos,” while a long-tail keyword might be “what’s the best taco place near me?”
Do some research into the topics your prospects search for (read our blog on long-tail keywords for some sources for these topics) and turn the results into question format. Then write specific blog articles or page copy that targets those long-tail keyword phrases.
The more content like this you have, the more searches you’ll show up for.
Answer Specific Questions
Use Answer the Public to find common questions on your chosen subject, and use answers to these questions as the basis for your website copy. Include the question as your page sub-head <<H2>> and answer it in the body text directly below.
Google Suggest is also an easy way to get to commonly asked questions. Google Suggest occurs when you start typing keywords into Google (don’t hit enter or search) and it provides a drop-down of popular/trending questions.
Your questions need to be complex rather than simple ones that can be answered by Google itself. Anyone can answer an easy question, but by providing smart answers to hard questions, you position yourself as an expert.
Here’s some examples of the types of complex questions you can include and answer.
Get the idea?
Questions that start with “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “how” and “why” are the most popular voice queries. Always good are questions that consumers start with “how do I” or “where can I find…”.
Keep your answers concise. Google wants to feature the best answer, so make sure yours is clear and easy to read. Answers in the form of lists seem to get in featured snippets more often than text alone.
Does your website have a FAQs page? It should.
FAQs are great for increasing traffic, SEO, and especially for voice search. That’s because most featured snippets and nearly all People Also Ask (PAA) boxes pop up when a specific question is asked. Having a robust FAQs page can help your website get included in more featured snippets.
Use Natural Sounding Language
Compare the language in this typical text and voice search:
Text Search Query: Pizza in Lancaster
Voice Search Query: “Hey Google - where’s the closest pizza place?”
Since users of voice search are essentially having a conversation with their device, your content should fit this context.
Let’s say you own a tile company. Take this common query: “Hey Google - what is the best tile for a bathroom floor?” In your website content, you can use “What Is the Best tile for a bathroom floor?” as your H2 header, then answer the question concisely. This way, you have a good chance at being the first response to a voice search.
Write in a natural, conversational voice. Rather than trying to stuff in as many keywords as you can, write like you speak so you’ll naturally optimize for keyword phrases that your readers will likely search for in the future.
Digital marketing is geared toward generating leads and converting them into customers, regardless of whether the lead is acquired via voice- or text-based search. To continue growing your business, digital marketing must be optimized to account for the effects of voice search on SEO.
In 2018, you can't afford to ignore the power of voice search. The market is set to be worth $601 million by 2019, and if you don't start to optimize your website now, you'll be missing out on a lot of traffic in the long term.
Curious to learn more? Here's some sources.
When you started laying the foundation for your website, whether it was yesterday or five years ago, chances are the company you were working with asked you to provide them with a list of keywords applicable to your business. Then they asked you for a list of long-tail keywords. Was that the first time you ever heard the phrase and wondered “huh”? Long-tail keywords are something that most people are not aware of. But as a small business owner who is trying to rank in search results for your local area, long-tail keywords can be your best friend. Here’s why.
Long-tail keywords are more specific than keywords more commonly searched for. Long-tail keywords get less search traffic but have been proven to provide higher conversion rates. Long-tail keywords are specific to what you are selling. Whenever a customer uses such a specific search phrase, they tend to be looking for exactly what they are going to buy.
As a company that sells kitchen design, cabinetry and remodeling services, your pages aren’t going to appear near the top of an organic search for “cabinetry” or “kitchen” or “cabinets” because there’s simply too much competition for those words. This is especially true for a small company because the big guys will have bought up the common keywords.
Go ahead, try it: type “kitchens” or “cabinetry” into Google and see what names show up.
But by expanding your one-word keyword into a long-tail keyword, then something like “kitchen renovation ideas for your home” is going to get seen by consumers looking for exactly that.
Finding Qualified Searchers using Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are how people actually search the Internet because more people are using voice search. In fact, “There are over one billion voice searches per month. (January 2018)” estimates Alpine.AI. That's a lot of searching.
This has changed the the way we use keywords for SEO because people are searching using full sentences and asking questions, rather than just typing in short queries.
When you’re using only short keywords, competition for search rankings can be intense, and visitors who come to you from these broad searches are typically general-info-only seekers, i.e., “tire-kickers”, and not really in the market to buy anything.
You’re going to draw less traffic with a long-tail keyword than you would with a more common one, but the traffic you do get will be better: more focused, more committed, and in the market for your services. You’ll be attracting the audience you’re looking for, and that audience will be closer to point-of-purchase.
When you do the math, you'll see that the 100 buyers who found you via long-tail keyword search are much better than 500 site visitors who are only doing research. And there is no question that the use of long-tail keywords demonstrates a greater intent to buy by the customer. This simply leads to more sales which is, of course, what you are really after.
How to Use Long-Tail Keywords
So now that you know what long-tail keywords are and how they work, how do we get them working to attract visitors to your site?
For a long-tail keyword strategy to be effective, you create separate landing pages on your website with content that specifically addresses your long-tail keyword. And, since there are so many different long-tail combinations that searchers may use to find what you offer, that means you'll be creating more pages.
Google likes sites that have more pages. It makes the site look more substantial, more natural, and even more real in the “eyes” of the search engine. And don’t freak out at the thought of having to create so many new pages. The new pages need only be variations of your main pages, but they must be focused on a specific long-tail keyword.
In our earlier example, we said “kitchen renovation ideas for your home” is a likely long-tail keyword for a kitchen designer. Creating a 500 word blog post on this topic should not be difficult.
Each page on your website will have a unique title, description meta tag, header tag, and body content that emphasizes your products and services by using the long-tail keyword. Your long-tail keywords need to be used in the correct context within the URL, title tag, and body text. For even more visibility, use the keyword phrase in alt images to optimize your site for SEO.
Stuck for Ideas for Long-tail Keywords?
The free ones give you plenty of suggestions for keywords plus tons of other information as well, including the ability to download the results for future use.
Here’s a few to check out:
Using long-tail keywords as part of your SEO strategy puts your business in touch with the potential customers who are already actively shopping for your services. It’s a win-win for you and your business: better search rankings and more qualified search traffic.
Hashtags used to be your phone’s pound sign, or the sharp symbol in written music, even a tic-tac-toe game. Now they have a prominent place in social media. The word “hashtag” has infiltrated our vocabulary so completely that it has been added to the Oxford Dictionary and the Scrabble Dictionary, both respected authorities on what defines a real word..) Originally made popular by Twitter, hashtags are now used on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. They are an integral part of how we communicate online.
Where Did Hashtags Come From?
The first use of a hashtag in social media is attributed to a former Google employee who worked as a designer on Google+.
What Are Hashtags And Why Do You Need Them?
Let’s start with the simple definition: A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used in a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. Hashtags are the most popular means of categorizing content on social media.
Why use Hashtags?
There are a number of reasons why you want to use hashtags in social media.
How Can A Small Business Use Hashtags in Their Marketing?
How to Use Hashtags
Even though most people know what they are, many people still don’t know how to use hashtags.
Using a hashtag on a social post is really as simple as adding the # sign before a single word or phrase, without spaces or punctuation.
Hashtags should be specific to the audience you’re trying to attract. The more specific you get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience means better engagement.
Focus in on a passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme – like kitchen design, kitchen cabinetry, interior design, kitchen remodeling. Our industry is made up of a “passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme” – get in there and start hashtagging.
Your business sells kitchen cabinets, kitchen design services, kitchen remodeling. Instead of using the broad term #kitchens—that brings in results all over the board, from wall paint colors to hinges for cabinets to ads for remodeling services —use instead #kitchendesigntrends. Or #kitchenrenovations. Or #interiorrenovations. Here’s a couple examples.
For more in-depth information about how to use hashtags, visit sproutsocial.com. For expert guidance on getting your content hashtagged properly to attract new business, consult the pros at Kitchen Design Partner.
Website design is a huge subject to tackle. There are literally thousands of books and courses written on web design.
No need to be overwhelmed. If you look at the task of designing your website like any other large job and take it one step at a time, you’ll get there. We’ve got some helpful info here to get you going on the right path.
Let’s start with the basics.
1. Relevant, Original and Informative Content
Prospects aren’t browsing your website because they have nothing better to do — that’s what Facebook is for. They are on your website, or looking for a website like yours, because they have a problem to solve.
Plan out in advance what sections you’re going to include on your new site, before the first line of code is written. As you plan, always be thinking from the perspective of your target audience. What might they be searching for? What questions can you answer for them? Present your information in a way that it is easy for them to find.
Site visitors have to know what you can do to help them from the very first headline they read. You can wow them with your experience and expertise later, but first you have to make it clear how they’ll benefit from reading further.
Getting prospects to your site doesn’t magically turn them into customers, even if your content has them intrigued. You have to provide a way for them to take the next step. By having a call-to-action button on every page, you give visitors the chance to become customers by taking action to receive more information or get in contact with your company.
Helpful tip: Keep your calls-to-action at the top of the pages. This is where people can see without scrolling, so it’s a great place for a “contact us”, “learn more” or “get a quote” button.
What makes a good call-to-action? A lead magnet that encourages prospects to take that next step. People are reluctant to give out their contact info. Give them a reason to provide their email address by providing something that continues to answer their questions and address their concerns. A worksheet or reference guide are strong magnets and will be interesting to prospects at various points in their buying journey.
3. Responsive Design and Mobile-Friendliness
A responsive site is one that works well on all screens and devices. It’s mobile-friendly and caters to the device you’re viewing it on. Smartphones account for over 69% of all online traffic, and Google now places a priority on ranking mobile-friendly sites.
Mobile-friendly makes for a better user experience. And in the end, it’s all about the user.
4. Technology That Works For You
You want pages that load quickly and navigation that is intuitive and simple and that works every time.
Nothing is more annoying for website visitors than a website that takes long to load. In fact, slow speed is one of the main reasons why visitors leave a website. A typical customer will only wait a few seconds for your page to load, after which they will most likely navigate away to a competitor's site, never to visit you again.
5. Strong Visuals
Imagery is a major part of website design, and your visuals affect everything from time spent on your page, your appearance of trustworthiness, and even conversion rates.
As a kitchen designer, we don’t have to sell you on the importance of great images when it comes to promoting your products and services.
Just be careful, because bad images actually reduce reader engagement. Try to be objective about your photos and see what a new visitor sees. You may be able to overlook bad lighting, workmen’s tools left on the counter, or a photo that’s not straight, but someone seeing this picture for the first time is definitely going to see all of that and judge you based on what they see.
Also, be aware of photo size. Having too many large images slows down your site page load speed. See #4 above.
6. SEO Awareness
No matter how well your site is designed and how great it looks and how flawlessly it works, you’ve got to get people to your site before they can appreciate it and benefit from it. Building a site that incorporates all SEO best practices is vital to make your site as easy to find as possible.
SEO optimization is a complete topic by itself, one we’ll address in-depth in another article. Here’s a beginner’s guide to using keywords for effective SEO to get you started.
Basically, your website is the face your business presents to the online world. By starting out right and planning all the structural elements of your website in advance of “going live”, you ensure everyone who visits views you as a trustworthy and professional problem solver who is worthy of doing business with.
We’re in 2018. A great website is no longer a “nice to have”. It’s an absolute must.
The pros at Kitchen Design Partner can give you a free evaluation of your website and discuss recommendations for any needed improvements. Give them a call.
How do you measure a website’s success in today’s hyper-competitive internet world? Traffic? Search engine rankings? Compliments from friends and family on how great it looks? No, no and no. The one true measure of a website’s success is the number of QUALITY LEADS it generates.
We may not judge a book by the cover, but we always
Every prospect you ever get—regardless of how they heard about you—is going to look at your website and draw conclusions about their interest in doing business with you. When somebody lands on your website, they quickly decide whether or not to continue looking at your site.
There are three obstacles you’ve got to clear if you want prospects to engage with your website and consider doing business with you.
1. Is This Website What I’m Looking For? When a web searcher first lands on your site, they immediately start scanning the page, looking for any sign that the site either IS or IS NOT a solution to what they are searching for. If the site isn’t attractive or if it’s hard to tell what you sell, or if it’s not even for the category they were searching, they’ll click off immediately.
Functionality is essential. Broken links, lack of speed, and non-responsive layouts are just a few issues that can turn off a visitor. Eliminate these issues by spending time navigating through your site s if you’re a new user. Test all of your links and look for any other functionality issues that may be driving users from your site.
2. Is There Anything Interesting Here? Assuming your website passed obstacle #1, the prospect is now going to see if there is anything interesting on the site that’s worthy of his time to look at more closely. This is where most websites lose people—even attractive sites. The biggest problem is that your site looks just about like every other website. There’s nothing here that differentiates you from every other designer or remodeler.
To make it past the second obstacle, your website must give the visitor the promise that you offer value and it’s worth pursuing further. This isn’t accomplished with design or colors or pictures. It’s done with words and/or video that captures your identity, explains who you are, how you’re different, and what people can expect when doing business with you.
3. Can I Trust This Business? This is where lookers get turned into buyers. Once the prospect reads your headlines and understands what you offer, they’re going to want you to prove it. They want to know if they can trust your claims, and in turn, trust you. This is where testimony and social proof come into play.
Testimony means they want to hear what you have to say. If you tell them that you’re the right designer/remodeler for demanding and hard to please people, they’re going to want to know more about what that means. You can’t just make a claim and then leave it hanging out there—you have to back it up. You have to explain it. You have to give examples. Don’t assume they know or believe anything. Use words, videos and photos to give depth and meaning to your headlines.
Highlight your certifications and professional partnerships. Verify your reputation by showcasing your own and your staff members’ specialized skills or certifications. The more your site visitors can connect with the real people behind your website, the more trustworthy your online presence will seem.
Social proof means job photos, customer testimonials, and online reviews. Prospects want to see and believe that other people have used your services and actually like you, like working with you, like your products and your services. They want to see pictures of your work. They want to read about what others think, they want to know about others’ experiences working with you.
Your goal should be to have a website that is credible and trustworthy, that answers prospects’ questions, and that provides them with the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to work with and trust you -- or not. It should look good, load quickly and function well. And be mobile friendly.
By using our tips to improve your website’s functionality and content, you can attract and keep visitors and generate the qualified leads your business needs to grow and prosper.
Social media + customer service = SOCIAL CARE. And social care is more than customer service. It’s marketing. And, inexpensive marketing, compared to other marketing strategies. Delivering an amazing customer experience gets customers to come back, as well as refer their friends, colleagues and family members, and it attracts new customers.
One of your best assets is having satisfied customers who are willing to say good things about your company and their experience with you. So, get on social media and interact with them. Respond to their comments, complaints and questions. Make the conversations public and show the world that you are the kitchen designer to do business with.
When angry consumers vent on social media, current and potential customers are watching. They weigh your response to the complaint and how you treat the customer. In the dark days before social media, consumers shared a poor experience with a few family members, close friends, and co-workers. Now, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, angry customers can broadcast stories of terrible (real or perceived) customer service to an infinite audience.
When a customer posts a comment, good or bad, the world can see it. They can also see how you respond. It’s not a question of if your business needs to listen to your customers on social media. It’s a question of how you listen, and how you respond.
The reality is that customer service expectations are rising year after year and consumers are expecting your businesses to create a seamless experience that spans from your showroom floor to their Facebook timeline.
Here’s a few suggestions for ways you can take full advantage of social media to provide the best possible “social care”.
1. Be Active On The Social Media Sites Where Your Customers Are. What you learn about where your customers spend their time might surprise you. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Twitter or Facebook is the best fit for your audience just because you might spend the most time on them.
2. Use Software That Monitors Every Mention Of Your Brand On The Internet. You need to know when people are talking about you so you can respond. There are some useful tools that will alert you when you get mentioned anywhere on the web. They range from free search tools like Social Mention to full-featured, paid products like Mention.
3. Respond to every comment or mention. A big social media mistake is to ignore social posts, comments and reviews. Your prospects are watching to see how you respond to comments, especially complaints. All comments should be acknowledged. This is one of the biggest social media customer service best practices.
It’s simple: a customer wants to be heard. Not replying is the same as ignoring a customer. Just as you wouldn’t ignore a customer in your showroom, you shouldn’t leave a comment unanswered online.
4. Respond Quickly. If not responding to a social post is the #1 biggest social care mistake, then not responding quickly is a close second. The fast-paced world of social media creates expectations that are different from email, where a 24-hour response time is OK. Facebook actually posts your response times on your business page. Here’s how they deter-mine who gets the “Very Responsive” Badge:
5. Avoid canned responses. Be authentic. Make your answers personal. Don’t just copy and paste messages.
6. Be proactive. It’s not enough to simply react to social comments from customers; you have to put out your own valuable posts. Not self-promotional posts, but good information with value to your customer community. Post content such as answers to frequently asked questions and the ways customers are using your products, for starters. While some people might view this as content marketing, others see it as a valuable part of the customer experience.
Your customers have more power and influence than they ever have before, thanks to social media. If you fail to treat social media as more than just a promotional platform, you could find your business left in your competitors’ dust.
By delivering great support on the social platforms where your customers are, you can build stronger relationships with them and in turn, create more loyal customers. And ultimately, loyal customers are the easiest way to grow your business.
Most local business owners know that positive online reviews are good for business, but many aren’t aware of just how much of an impact they have. Some think just because they serve a local customer base that what people are saying on the web is irrelevant.
The truth is that the online reviews on sites like Yelp and Facebook can mean the difference between making a sale or losing one. Today’s consumers increasingly rely on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they purchase.
In the last ten years, significant shifts have occurred in the way consumers seek out and use customer reviews when searching for and selecting a local business. They are becoming more review-savvy, preferring businesses that receive lots of high-scoring reviews.
But how exactly are consumers using local search services and online review sites to find and evaluate businesses?
• 68% of consumers wrote a local business review when asked
• 67% of consumers say that at least half of their searches result in a visit to a local business
• 63% of consumers trust businesses with overall ratings of 4 or 4.5 stars (out of 5)
• 32% of consumers read local reviews on mobile apps in 2017 (up 14% from 2016)
Why Reviews Are Important
Getting reviews of your business is a great way to demonstrate proof that your company does what it says it does and that your customers are happy and willing to share their experiences.
With all the scams out there these days, people want to be reassured when they’re searching for products and services online that your business is legit. They’re looking for a reason to choose you over the competition, so you need to give them one.
How To Get Reviews
The key to getting reviews is to be proactive and to make it easy for customers to review you.
• Create a template email to ask for reviews.
• Use a tool like Grade.us (not free) or GetFiveStars (also not free). These programs allow you to set up a review page for your customers to visit.
• Add links to your Houzz, Google My Business and Yelp pages on your website to make it easy for people to find you on those sites and leave a review.
• Put a link leading to a review site in your email signature, business cards, and invoices.
• Write reviews to get reviews. Give reviews to companies within your referral partner networks because what helps them will, in turn, help you. Google and Linkedin are great places for getting reciprocal reviews.
Where to Build Your On-line Review Presence
You need positive reviews to boost your local SEO efforts. SEO dictates which businesses your customers see first when they search online for a specific product or service. In addition, Google takes reviews into consideration as one of the things that determines which businesses show up in the Local 3-pack.
For the biggest impact, reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp are a must.
Google My Business requires at least five reviews before they will display your review stars in local search results. As can be seen in the graphic below, Houzz and Home Advisor reviews get shown in the Knowledge Panel.
Local industry-specific review sites, like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, BBB, etc., are also great places for your reviews to get seen.
Manage Your Reputation
1. Never write, buy, or encourage fake reviews. With all the talk of “fake news” and “post-truth” these days, people are increasingly skeptical. If you’re caught with fake reviews, the damage to your business may be irreparable. Nobody likes a liar.
2. Best practices say you should respond to everyone who reviews you. For positive comments, all you have to do is thank them.
3. For negative comments, don’t panic. Address the issue in a professional manner and possibly call the person to work things out. This shows your audience that you care and are respectful, even with negative reviews. Resist the temptation to delete, ignore, or censor negative feedback, critical reviews, and low ratings.
Having a couple of negative reviews actually makes customers more likely to trust your business. No place can be 100% perfect. Consumers often perceive ratings close to a perfect 5.0 as too good to be true, and they appreciate less-than-perfect reviews as an important element in their research and decision-making process.
4. Having no reviews at all can have a huge negative impact on your business’s potential. Finding little or no information tells consumers that you’re either a new business or that you’re not even on the radar. It only takes a few positive reviews to reassure potential customers that you’re worth checking out.
You can’t afford to ignore the benefits of online reviews. What customers say about your business in their online reviews - and how you respond to them - can influence purchase decisions more than just about any other marketing tactic.
Think of online reviews as modern day referrals; having them available for your prospects to see is a great way to stand out from your competitors.
People will always trust what is said about you more than what is said by you.
Kitchen Design Partner
We've got the insider's perspective on what it takes to build the most successful kitchen and bath design businesses in the country.