By Harrell Kerkhoff,
Maintenance Sales News Editor
Carefully thought-out website content and design can help companies better tell “their stories” online, while providing a guide to available products and services. Email marketing, meanwhile, is another important part of communication in today’s technology-driven business world.
Offering options and advice on those subjects, during a recent presentation, was Fortune Web Marketing Founder/President Jennifer Stine (fortunewebmarketing.com). She explained a website’s content can take various forms, including blogs, videos, infographics, case studies, ebooks, white papers, checklists and interviews.
“With a blog, you become a subject matter’s expert. It allows you to do what you do best — provide solutions,” Stine said. “If you can do that, people will likely start doing business with your company.”
She also highlighted the value of producing website videos.
“You don’t have to be a professional videographer. Just take your smartphone, demonstrate a product on video and go live,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, whimsical company-produced videos can humanize your brand.”
Stine added there is true value when a company-produced video can be found through a YouTube search. She also spoke on the benefits of customized web banners, such as those that are promotional or product-specific in nature.
“There are companies that literally merchandize their websites. I guarantee that helps sell products,” Stine said.
Website developers should focus on improving three main areas of their sites to better connect with online visitors. They are: Responsivity, Simplicity and Navigability.
A responsive web design involves pages that look good, and can be properly displayed on all types of devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops. Stine said that is critical because:
• 48 percent of global page views are now done from mobile devices;
• 93 percent of people leave a website because it doesn’t display properly on their specific device;
• On a responsive site, content is automatically resized and reshuffled to fit the dimensions of whichever device a visitor is using; and,
• Ultimately, it’s more important to provide a great experience across different devices than to look identical across those devices.
Website simplicity is also essential. Stine’s simplicity tips are:
• Colors — Don’t use a lot. A rule of thump is a maximum of five colors, plus or minus two, for a website design;
• Typefaces — Should be highly legible and not too “artsy.” Typefaces must also contrast with the website’s background color. It’s recommended to use no more than three typefaces and no more than three point sizes; and,
• Graphics — Use graphics when they help the user complete a task, perform a function and/or accurately represent a product or service. It’s also important to optimize a site’s images. Make sure to include key words when naming each image.
“Not many people realize that they can optimize their images in such a way that directs traffic to their website,” Stine said.
Website images should be compressed, as non-compressed images can be large and may slow down the loading of a web page.
When improving a website’s navigability, it’s important to keep primary navigation tools simple and near the top of the page. Also include navigation tools in the footer of the site. Consider as well using breadcrumbs (navigational aids) and include a search bar near the top of the site that is “sticky” (remains in a fixed position on the screen). Also include links within copy and don’t make users “dig” too deep to find something.
Stine suggests website developers make a basic pyramid diagram where the homepage is at the top, and each linked page forms the next layer. In most cases, it’s best to keep the site no more than three levels down.
Certain tools, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, can be used to determine how well a website is designed and received.
BY THE NUMBERS
Email marketing is another form of communication that remains in demand and works, according to Stine. She provided the following email-related information and tips:
• Tuesdays see the highest email open and email unsubscribe rates of the week;
• In the U.S., 21 percent of email opens happen between 9 a.m. and noon;
• Roughly 80 percent of marketers have reported an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months;
• From a study of 1,000 small business owners, email marketing was ranked as the second most effective medium for building brand awareness; and,
• Email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses.
• 35 percent of marketers choose to send three to five emails per week per contact.
“I personally don’t think a company has to send that many. Perhaps one or two per week is best. It might also be good to pull back the frequency of sent emails if your unsubscribe list is increasing,” Stine said;
• Promotional emails are the most common email type that marketers are investing in;
• “Message personalization” is the No. 1 tactic used by email marketers to improve performance; and,
• The industry average email CTR is 2.13 percent.
“CTRs tend to be higher for retail and non-profit, but a solid average CTR is only slightly above 2 percent,” Stine said.
• Over 20 percent of marketers surveyed said that a specific email design improved their engagement;
• Email subject lines feature an average 43.85 characters;
• 45 percent of small businesses with effective, or very effective, email copy report average open rates of 26 percent or higher; and,
• Out of 1,000 analyzed emails, only 6.9 percent incorporated an emoji in the subject line.
“Honestly, I feel people love emojis, and believe they do perform well,” Stine said.
• Almost 30 percent of marketers surveyed use audience segmentation tactics to improve email engagement;
• Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760 percent increase in revenue;
• Mobile-friendly email is the second most-used tactic from email marketers to improve performance;
• Mobile accounted for 42 percent of all email opens in 2019; and,
• Of all emails opened on mobile devices, 66 percent were read for more than 8 seconds.
“When engaging in an email marketing strategy, look at how content is being displayed on Gmail, Outlook, your phone and your laptop,” Stine said. “They can all display differently.”
Stine emphasized the following objectives to strengthen a company’s digital presence:
• Create an informational and attractive website that is mobile and user friendly. Also improve page load times;
• Begin an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, develop a priority key word list, and use proper title and meta descriptions. Also, secure websites with HTTPS through an SSL certificate;
• Create engaging content; and,
• Send emails at least once per week and segment contact lists.