Does Your Company Operate, Supply, and Measure its Web Presence?

Your Front Door is an Access Point - So is Your Web SiteIt’s Already Yesterday

The tools we use to conduct business are moving and changing faster than ever before. Its a wonder anyone can keep up. What used to take 12 years to gain critical mass use is now taking 12 weeks.

Sometimes, as a business owner warms up to the idea of finally implementing a “new” tactic or tool, that is already yesterday’s practice. Thankfully, the core elements of doing business have remained for centuries – even though the tools are changing faster than we cook microwave popcorn.

Horse and Buggy on the Highway

In the mid-90s, there seemed to be a gold-rush towards getting your own “dot com”. Yet, still more than 30% of small businesses don’t own their own website or domain. If they do have THEIRCOMPANY.COM, they often don’t “own it” or “operate it” because they’ve “outsourced it”

When you think about it, 30% is a large number considering the “dot.com” rush began just over a dozen years ago. That number isn’t talking about companies without blogs, social media, or mobile sites and apps – it’s businesses who don’t have their own web sites.

The number is probably much higher if we consider independent contractors and people who might work from home or don’t operate with a business license.

Being Findable

Last year, Google released two numbers that should’ve woke up the sleeping small business: 20% and 40%. Both have to do with searches for local business: 20% of all web-based searches are for local businesses and 40% of all mobile searches are for local businesses.

If a business does get found (“if”), what does the searcher find?  Well, if it’s one of those businesses in that 30% that don’t own their website, it’s a 3rd party site. Who knows what the reviews say, if there is correct contact information, and are the descriptions and images accurate? That’s why it’s so important for a business to own their own site, the content that gets displayed, and their presence and applications on different platforms.

Does Your Company Operate, Supply, and Measure its Own Web Presence?

In recent posts, we looked at the importance of a company’s web presence. The call is to “Own it“, to “Stock it“, and to “Measure it“.  Unless you’re a 100% web-based business, your web site is not a destination point – it’s an access portal. One that connects customers with you – and vice versa.

When your customers come in your front door (an access portal), there is a path to you – be it an aisle or a recognizable fixture like a desk or counter. When your customers call you on the phone (an access portal), they recognize you by how you answer the phone. When customers go to your web site … you do have one, yes? … the web becomes an access portal.

Would you remain in business if you closed other access portals off from customers? Likewise, you should keep access open with a web presence and a mobile presence. This is part of being in business these days.

It’s Not About the Technology – Think Talk-nology

Stop thinking “technology” and start thinking “talk-nology” – You probably didn’t build that front door to your store, but you use it. You probably didn’t wire the telephone system, but you use it. And you don’t have to design your website or blog or mobile app – but learn how to use it.

It’s simpler than you think – and you’ve probably been doing the same thing (with different tools) for years. One way to do that (at your own pace with a community of business owners) is The Dialing 8 Project:

Companies that are engaging and employing social business are reaping the benefits. That’s because they plan on staying in business.

Does Your Company?

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Does Your Company Keep its Inventory Stocked?

Stock Your Online InventoryWhen I was in the retail business, I had a regional manager once ask me how my sales of “blank wall space” and rental of the “vacant carpet squares” were going?

I raised my eyebrows and waited for the lesson to be delivered. I didn’t have to wait long:

“I love white space as much as the next person,” he said. “But we’re not in advertising. This is retail. Floor space and Wall space?  That’s for our inventory. Keep ‘em full, clean, and looking good. Move a few things around once in awhile. We can do quantity and quality at the same time.”

He wanted customers who visited to always be thinking:

  • Lots of Selection
  • I Can Always Find Something Good Here
  • My Friends Should See This
  • I Should Come Here More

So let’s take a look at your (own) website. Your site is your “display” and the content you post is your “inventory” and you can do quantity and quality at the same time.

As you look at your individual content pieces – are they easy to read? Are you using eye rests in your posts? Or do they look like a sales rack with everything just piled on top of each other?

Your blog, your Twitter stream, your Facebook Timeline? That’s where you display your online inventory – your digital footprint.

We can do quantity and quality at the same time.

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Does Your Company Measure Anything Above the Bottom Line?

Shoe (and Web) MeasurementsA lifetime ago I operated a boutique shoe store in Pacific Grove. Lots of tourist foot traffic. Lots of window shoppers.

And I did my best to gather as many numbers as I could between sales and shoppers:

  • How many stopped to look at a window display and kept walking
  • How many walked in and didn’t buy
  • How many shoes were tried on/how many pairs sold
  • How many times I brought out a “hunch” pair was it tried on/purchased
  • What day-part hours affected these numbers

I wasn’t just measuring the bottom line, but the top line and everything in between. I wasn’t better than anyone because of it – but I was obsessed … to get better because of what is learned from measuring the data.

When the question of measuring data comes up with small business, I try to start with what they’re measuring offline as it gives a good starting point to what we’ll measure online.

Sadly, too many business owners don’t track much more than their sales totals and some of the main expenses. Sadder still – many don’t measure their traffic on their website (if they have a website). Sometimes they’ll get weekly reports from their “web” guy who tells them how many “hits” they have – but that’s about it. And that’s bad practice.

It’s going to be hard to determine Social ROI if you’re not counting much of anything else. Which is why it’s so important for a small business to own their own website, use Google Analytics to track data … and get better because of what is learned from measuring the data.

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Does Your Company Own and Operate its Website?

Small Business Should Own Their Website

Last year, I found these numbers catching my attention

30% of small businesses do not have their own website

20% of all searches are for local businesses

40% of all mobile searches are local

That first number is surprising. For many readers here, it’s probably surprisingly high. From my perspective, it’s low.

30% of small businesses do not have their own website

When I meet with a small town Chamber of Commerce and ask how many members have a website of their own, many estimate 60-70% — right in line with the number above. However, not all businesses are members of their local Chamber of Commerce. And those that aren’t Chamber members often to not have their own website.

In today (and tomorrow’s) marketplace, to not have a website is perilously close to not existing at all.

20% of all searches are for local businesses

40% of all mobile searches are local

These two numbers should motivate the small business owner, especially those in non-metro areas. It’s about “findability” – if a business not findable in a search on the web (or via a mobile device), well, it’s easy to see why some business don’t last long.  Search engines are the new yellow pages and the new 411 combined.

Thankfully, there are sites like MerchantCircle and Manta who, in many cases, already have a business listed. An owner can simply sign up, claim and verify themselves as owner, and start making updates to the page.  While these sites help with findability and web presence, it’s rented real estate on the web.

Also, Google’s Get Your Business Online is making a nationwide tour (launching in California) and around the globe (Canada and India). While the sites offered are simple, 3-page sites — they’re a great starting block for a small business.

Every small business should have their own website that’s updated regularly – even it’s only a single page.

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A Favorite Business Book

One of my favorite business books ever is “Oh! The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss (right beside “Ish” by Peter Reynolds)

Keep your chin up
and your dawber from getting down
have a look at this
and flip that frown
around

MAP: Charting a Journey in Social Media

Two instruments we use in navigating uncharted travels are a compass and a map. We can do likewise with social media, too. Our compass can be our strategy, our purpose (a good compass lasts a long time).

Our Map? What’s our next step. Sometimes we get wandering while wondering what to do next. The acronym MAP might quicken your pace in the right direction.

M.A.P. = Meaning. Announcements. Personalization.

Make Meaning (70% of the time): While you should use other tools of social to “make meaning” for your information consumption (infosumption), when publishing or sharing content, look for ways to “make meaning” for your reader. We both know in our heart of hearts that your business can help them, but more times than not – share things with them that will improve their life/work/bottom line. Things that aren’t about your business – but their lives.

Make Announcements (20% of the time): By sharing and writing most often about stuff that helps your readers,  you quietly earn the right to promote your work, your sale, your event. Be a resource twice as often as being a bullhorn – but don’t neglect the bullhorn either.

Make Personalization (10% of the time): This is the “chit-chat, hey how’s your cat?” type of chatter that personalizes social media.  Remember that this process of MAP is a guideline. There will be some days you chit-chat more, and some less. But as a business, 10% is a gauge for personalizing your professional platform.

This is a variation on the 70-20-10 guideline we practice on Twitter, and it works across the landscape of social media. So get your compass (your purpose) and your MAP (your plan) and enjoy your journey.

Nominate Your Local Business for a Dialing 8 Membership

To show our appreciation of small business owners and solopreneurs, Dialing 8 is giving away three annual (full access) memberships to The Dialing 8 Project.

You can nominate yourself, your local small business or independent, or even a friend or family member just starting out. Just have them (or you) fill out the form below.

Winners will be notified by email on Friday, February 17th.

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Watch Your Day: Create Your Own Stock Images

Create Your Own Stock ImagesHow many of you have a camera on your phone, raise your hand …

Whether you have a smart phone or not, the opportunities for taking your own stock images are plentiful. Additionally, improvements and growth of mobile apps such as Photoshop Express and Instagram make capturing, editing, and sorting images a breeze.

I’ve seen a lot of folks invest 20 minutes writing a blog post, then spend another 20 minutes looking for the right image. Better to take a few minutes here and there to be prepared.

Create some stock images of your own. Have a library ready to help tell your story. Just as you should Listen to Your Day in writing your blog, Watch Your Day for capturing great storytelling images.

 

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Tired of LOLcats, Animated GIFs, and Th*ngs People Say?

These LOLcats are PracticingAre there times you grow a bit weary of the memes of Th*ings People Say, Funny Cat posters and looping mini-movies in your social streams?

Don’t Be. It’s a learning process. And we’re all in beta.

Some of these messages are probably not intended to entertain or inform you – but they don’t have to be a complete waste of time either.

As you see these items scroll by over and over again, recognize patterns of popularity and sharing and SCAMPER your findings into your own content.

In many ways, these creations of clatter can be an example. Allow these experiments of non-critical content to be a research project of what might be.

A tweak here, a substitution there – and maybe you’ll find a gem of your own.

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Why There is Always Room for One More Good One

Always Room for One More Good OneFans are Fanatics.

Searchers Find.

Shoppers Discover.

Trekkies Trek

Ask the sports fans … the crafting hobbyist … the thrift store shopper. Watch the Trekkies.

Is there just one place, one site, one convention?

Or is it all of them?

There’s always room for one more good one.

That baseball fan getting ready for her fantasy league draft? She’s not looking at just one site or one magazine. She’s got them all. That quilters in your life? They don’t just go to one store, they know them all.

Before you doubt yourself or change what you’re good at because someone else is already doing that …

There’s always room for one more good one.

Next time you go to the book store, check out your favorite section. Not only are there many titles to choose from, there are more coming.

Be you. Be the best you that you can be. And remember …

There’s always room for one more good one.

photo credit: wvs via photopin cc

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