3 Workable Social Media Strategies for Your Small Business

There are a lot of things for small business owners to love about social media marketing. It’s largely free, can help you reach a huge audience of potential clients and customers, and can actually be lots of fun if you’re doing it correctly.

Social media marketing has its downsides, though: for one thing, social media can be a huge waste of time when you’re busy with other tasks. Plus, there are so many social platforms to stay on top of… with new ones showing up all the time. 

With all of that in mind, it’s easy to understand why some business owners feel too overwhelmed to even attempt to put a social media marketing strategy together. In today’s post, we want to remind you that getting social media marketing right doesn’t have to be in all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, we have three workable strategies you might consider in order to give your growing company an extra boost.

Strategy 1: Do a One-Time Setup so Customers Can Find You

The first step towards finding success with social media marketing is just having a presence on the right platforms. Your prospects and customers should be able to find your company (not just your personal profile) on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, at a minimum. You should also have a presence on the major review sites for your area or industry.

The point is to ensure that people who are interested in working with you can find you on their favorite social channels. That makes it easier for them to learn about your business, contact you, or leave a review. It also reduces the possibility that they’ll contact a competitor whom they mistake for your business. Why give some other business owner a sale or review that was meant for you?

Strategy 2: Schedule Weekly Posts and Boost Your Content

Thinking a little bit bigger? You should still set up your social profiles, complete with business descriptions, contact information, and custom photos, logos, and usernames. You could go further by scheduling intermittent content updates. You might even consider charging a few dollars for each post that you put online.

The goal of this strategy isn’t to dominate your industry or area on social media, but to make sure that you stay on the top of your customers’ minds. If they hear from you once every week or two, they’ll be reminded of all the great things that you can do for them. Based on how informative or entertaining your content is, they might even share some of your posts with their own friends and contacts.

Strategy 3: Own the Social Space with Consistency and Creativity

The third strategy is even bigger. It involves regular (or even perhaps daily) posting of content, complete with boosts, hashtags, and messaging strategies. The key here is that you aren’t just posting a lot of content, but you are being creative and building a brand. It ensures that fans and followers will engage with your posts, helping you to gain a bigger viewership over time.

The difficulty with this strategy, of course, is that takes time, money, and attention. That’s why most small business owners don’t start here. In truth, many never even get to this point. If you are managing your social strategy well, you might start with the first strategy, move onto the second and eventually even the third. Once that happens, you are dominating the social space, and it can make a significant impact on your sales from one quarter to the next.

Are Your Search and Social Strategies Generating Results?

Lots of creative firms like to focus on the technical details of things like search engine optimization and social media marketing. We are familiar with these tools too, but we prefer actionable plans and real results. After all, if you aren’t getting new business from your content, then what’s the point?

7 Ways to Deal with Online Competitors and Their Dirty Tricks

In most business books and classes, competitors are treated like an abstract concept. They are in the background, like gravity, but don’t really affect you except as a thought exercise. In that context, the way to deal with them is simple: just do what you do better than anyone else and let customers figure out that you offer more value on their own.

As most of us know, the real world doesn’t really work like that. You do have to concentrate on your own business, but your competitors are anything but abstract. They are people just like you. In fact, in some cases they are petty, unethical, and downright dishonest.

That brings us to a question that’s rarely ever addressed directly enough: how do you deal with the dirty tricks they play? What should you do to fight back when they try to run ads using your brand names, put up websites that look like your own, or try to copy your products? What are your options when they post fake online reviews, try to steal your content, or market their products or services with lies?

In today’s post we are going to give you the answers. But first, a quick warning: don’t try to fight bad behavior with more bad behavior. While it might not always seem like it, those who perpetrate online lies and scams usually get caught. And once they do, they can face severe consequences, ranging from legal challenges to blacklists from search engines and social platforms. Your competitor might be willing to risk the future of their business, but that doesn’t mean you should put yours in jeopardy.

With that little bit of fine print out of the way, let’s look at seven ways you can deal with dishonest online competitors and their dirty tricks…

1. Run Defensive PPC Ads

Suppose you have industry-leading products and services, or just draw a lot of traffic to your website. Your competitors might take an approach that could be summed up as “if you can’t be them, imitate them.” That usually involves running search and social ads based on branded terms or product names that are normally associated with your company. In other words, they try to steal web traffic that’s meant for your website.

An easy way around this is to simply run your own ads for the same terms or branded search phrases. You might not prefer to spend money on search traffic that was meant for you anyway, and that’s understandable. However, you’ll end up getting most of those visits at a very low price (usually pennies per click). And in the process, you’ll deprive your competitor of that web traffic while also driving up their pay-per-click budget at the same time.

2. Lock Up the Right Domains

A similar tactic some dishonest competitors will use is to direct searchers towards a website that looks like it’s owned by your company. Usually they’ll be savvy enough to employ a variation that’s just different enough from yours to avoid any legal liability. Again, the goal is to siphon traffic away from your website and towards their copycat pages.

If you have a very popular company, it’s worth taking the time to snap up a handful of related domains. As with running ads on your own branded search terms, this can be annoying but it’s ultimately going to be inexpensive.

Not sure which domains you should reserve to play defense against your competitors? Get together with your web design team to evaluate search in traffic patterns, along with your most important keywords or brand names. Then you can come up with a list of the most obvious targets and lock them up before your competitors can.

3. Monitor Your Online Reviews

One particularly nasty tactic some desperate competitors will use involves hiring people to post negative reviews of your business. The theory in this case is that if they can’t beat you on price, service, or value, they can at least make you look worse in the eyes of potential customers who might not know better.

This is an area where a little preparation goes a long way. For a few dollars a month you can have your web development team deploy reputation management software that will keep you informed any time someone leaves feedback about your business. If lots of false and negative reviews show up at once, you’ll be alerted before they can do any damage, and as an added bonus you can use the same tools to improve your reputation online with legitimate reviews, boosting your sales in the process.

4. Protect Your Content

There are lots of scams related to web content, but a competitor who is jealous of your success may simply use it as their own. Unfortunately, this is something that’s common enough for us to have seen dozens of times.

Protecting yourself from this kind of theft is pretty simple. There are software tools (like Copyscape) that will scour the web and let you know if someone has posted your copy-written material. If you find that has happened, you can contact the company hosting the offending website and have them remove the pages right away. Google and the other search engines will also take action against blatant content duplication or scraping. However, you have to monitor the web and be aware of the problem before you can do anything about it.

5. Post Comparison Product Reviews

Sometimes, the problem with competitors is that they try to pass their products or services off as better, using false or misleading information. If you come across minor exaggerations, you might not care enough to address them. If you feel like they’ve shared something inaccurate that’s going to hurt sales, though, you might decide to take the issue head-on.

The easiest way to do that is to simply post a side-by-side comparison video or product review. Just put what you have to offer up against the competition and point out the differences in a clear and accurate way. This type of content tends to attract plenty of views and can be easy for buyers to understand. 

Just be sure that you are sharing your facts, comparisons, and assessments. Being untruthful or overboard doesn’t help you. In fact, it just makes it harder for customers to separate you from others who are being unethical with their marketing.

6. Get Customers to Tell the Story

Even if you are completely honest and straightforward in your marketing, it can be hard to get buyers to pay attention. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem: because your competitors lie, it’s difficult for buyers to trust you. And because they don’t trust you, they can’t see the value in what you are offering.

To get around this stumbling block, you just have to let your satisfied customers do the talking for you. People might not believe marketers, but they do believe impartial reviewers who look and act like themselves. So, if you have testimonials from customers who faced the same problems that the rest of your target market is dealing with, get them to share their experiences.

The caveat here is to make sure your reviewers are uncompensated, specific about the benefits they received, and are easy to verify. Do that, and their kind words will do more to boost your sales than any kind of marketing content ever could.

7. Just Keep Leading the Pack

You knew this piece of advice was coming, didn’t you? As frustrating as it might be, the best way to deal with an unethical competitor is usually to ignore them and do your own thing. They might be getting under your skin, but they probably aren’t making a very big dent in your bottom line.

Think about it this way: when someone tries to imitate your products, your content, or some other aspect of your messaging, they are basically admitting that your business is better than theirs. They’re pointing out that you have the real thing and they are a pretender.

Naturally, we don’t want you to ignore serious copyright violations or let a competitor steal money from your pocket. When in doubt, though, your best bet is to work on your own business, continue racking up those positive reviews, and watch your reputation (and profitability) just keep growing.

Are You Getting the Right Kind of Online Marketing Advice?

Having the right information and strategy has always been key to finding customersand surpassing your competitors—on the internet. Now, with the changes and disruptions we are facing in 2020, it’s more important than ever to have a winning plan.

Are You Missing These Two Covid Economy Opportunities?

Unless you operate in an unusual industry, there’s a good chance your business has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic in a sudden and severe way. You may even be so focused on the arrival of one emergency after another that it can feel impossible to consider the strategic or longer-term implications.

Once you get past the panic, though, you find that crisis and opportunity are intertwined. While none of us would have wanted this kind of disruption to our lives, we can use the change in routine to get better.

Wondering how that might be possible? Let’s look at two Covid economy opportunities that are too good to pass up…

Opportunity #1: Use This Time to Increase Your Knowledge and Get Sharper

There are some businesses (like medical supply, for example, or pizza delivery) that are busier than ever right now. For most, though, the combination of a sudden recession and statewide stay-at-home orders has meant lots of time that used to be spent serving customers or dealing with day-to-day operations.

If you spend enough time online, you have undoubtedly seen that many are treating this unexpected law and business like a snow day. They are binge watching shows on their favorite streaming service, sleeping in, and hitting the junk food drawer harder than normal. These are all understandable emotional responses, but they aren’t going to help your business.

Why not use this time—whether it’s another week or another monthto read up on topics like SEO and social media marketing? Why couldn’t you spend today finishing a video course on PPC advertising? What’s stopping you from becoming a better content creator with the hours and resources you have in front of you?

The savviest business owners are using this occasion to get better. They know downtime doesn’t come often and won’t let it get away. We encourage you to follow their example.

Opportunity #2: To Eat the Competition While They’re Taking It Easy

The second opportunity is related to the first. The harder you work during the current crisis, the bigger edge you can open up over your competitors. That’s especially true if they aren’t developing their own skills or serving their customers effectively right now.

For example, maybe some of your colleagues are using work from home arrangements as an excuse for missing deadlines or reduced hours. If you can add value to your customers by giving them faster service, one-on-one attention, or better pricing, why wouldn’t they be open to that possibility?

An interesting thing happens in times of turmoil. When we start making one kind of change in our lives, we become open to other changes, too. What this means in a business context is that some of your best potential customers might be in a state of flux. If you can serve them at a time when your competitors can’t, you might be able to earn business from clients who wouldn’t normally look at changing vendors.

This is no time to ignore your business. If your competition isn’t laser-focused on serving your market, then you have an opportunity to pick up the slack.

What Does Your 2020 Marketing Strategy Look Like?

There are tens of thousands of business owners out there who came into 2020 with big plans but now are simply trying to survive day-to-day. That’s understandable, but it’s not the best way to move your company forward.

Even in an uncertain economy there are opportunities to expand or better serve your customers.

Does Social Media Affect Search Rankings?

In the last couple of years, the lines between search engines and social media have blurred a bitboth for users and marketers. On the one hand, lots of everyday users (and buyers) are using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find information, not to mention products and services.

Pair these changes with the longstanding debates within the SEO community about the role of social posts and activities within search algorithms and you get a lot of confusion about the relationship between the two. So, you might be wondering: does what you do on social media affect your search engine visibility?

The short answer is “probably not,” at least not directly. However, the story doesn’t end there. To help you understand the relationship between social media activity and your Google search rankings, here are a few things you should know…

Continue reading “Does Social Media Affect Search Rankings?”

5 Quick Tips on Selling More Through Your Business Website

When lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were first being put into place, savvy business owners moved to institute ecommerce features on to their websites. They recognized that if buyers couldn’t visit them in person, they’d have to find new ways to generate revenue. That forethought has paid off, with some estimates suggesting online sales have doubled compared to the same quarter last year.

However, while some business owners took immediate action, others decided to take a wait-and-see approach. That was understandable, but customers are largely deciding to stay home. That means that this is the perfect time to upgrade the ecommerce features on your website.

If you don’t currently have the ability to sell online, this should be your cue to start. Alternatively, if you can already make money through your web pages you might want to expand your capabilities and attract more revenue.

No matter which of those categories your business falls into, we want to give you some actionable advice that will help. Let’s look at five ways you can start to sell more through your business website starting today

1. Add a Shopping Cart

You can’t sell anything through your website without some mechanism to process transactions and collect money. In most instances, that’s going to mean installing some kind of shopping cart that pairs with a merchant account.

These solutions are easy to find and implementing them is not complex from a technical or programming standpoint. At the same time, just deciding to sell things online isn’t necessarily as simple as it might seem. You definitely want to take care in choosing the right shopping cart and merchant solution for your business. Getting things wrong could cost you a lot of money, create a great deal of hassle for your customers, and even lead to other disruptions in your business or website.

For example, it goes without saying that you want your shopping cart software to be as secure as possible. You’ll also want to know that it’s easy to use, both for yourself and your customers. It has to be compatible with the content management system you’re using, and it always helps if the product is inexpensive. 

On top of that, there may be certain features you require, like custom specifications or discounts for various order sizes. You might not find those in the simplest shopping cart solutions, or you might need a web developer to help you put the right settings into place.

As a rule of thumb, we always recommend you work with an experienced web team when choosing and installing merchant features on your small business website. It’s not an expensive or time-consuming process, but it’s one you can’t afford to get wrong.

2. Create Online Demos Customers Can View

It’s one thing to have the ability to sell products and services online, and another thing to actually generate orders. Often, what’s truly important to a small business isn’t the technical tools needed to accept payments but the skill and expertise of a master salesperson.

You’re never going to be able to completely duplicate face-to-face contact online, but you can get a lot closer with online demo videos or interactive presentations. These allow you, or a member of your team, to walk a potential buyer through the features and benefits of a product before making a decision.

In some ways an online video presentation can be even better than a live demo. In person you might forget to mention something crucial or struggle with a difficult question. When you’re working from a script, and with ideal lighting and backdrops, you can put your very best foot forward. Even better, you can film a presentation once and then have it seen by dozens or hundreds of buyers. You can even share it on your social profiles and in an email newsletter.

Putting together online sales presentations does take a bit of work, but most of our clients can batch the task into a single day. Then, they not only have the tools they need to sell more products and services online, but also a way to pre-qualify buyers and reduce complaints or returns.

The cost of video production and editing has gone down steadily over the past decade as broadband-speed connections have come to rural areas and mobile devices. Video is much more powerful as a sales tool than plain text and images, so why not make the most of it?

3. Integrate Live Chat Features

While you can use online video to intrigue and motivate buyers, your business might be one where customers are going to have lots of questions. They might need to consider specific use cases, or simply get more information before making a final decision.

In those cases, having live chat features on your website can be a game-changer. When you or your employees are standing by, ready to address specific issues as needed, a major obstacle to closing the sale is removed. Prospects no longer have to go without the details or interaction they might need to make them feel comfortable taking the next step.

Online chat features are easy to install, although (as in shopping carts) you’ll want to make sure they are safe, compatible, and convenient. Some will allow customers to contact you or a team member directly; others can be programmed to automatically answer simple and frequent queries.

No matter how straightforward or complex you want to go, however, there is a lot of value in letting a potential buyer see that someone is standing by to assist them with their order or to tackle a quick question. That’s especially true when you consider that someone who is interested right now might not necessarily return to your website to get the answer they need later.

4. Create Upsell Opportunities

In the real world, you and your employees probably look for upsell and add-on opportunities so often it has become second nature. From asking someone “do you want fries with that?” to suggesting a maintenance plan, businesses are always finding ways to increase revenueand value for their customers—by putting more into each sale.

If you have a simple shopping cart on your website, though, you might not be able to do the same. That would mean you’re probably missing out on huge amounts of revenue because your average sale price is going to be a lot lower than normal. It could also mean buyers aren’t getting the little “extras” that would make them happier with their decision later.

The answer, of course, is to integrate smart ecommerce features into your business website that correlate certain products and services with one another. As an example, if someone were purchasing a shirt from you, they might be interested in another similar item the same size. Or, if they were booking a service to clean up leaves in the Fall, they might also be interested in snow removal this Winter.

These are just simple examples, but you get the idea. If there is something you would normally sell to a customer at the time you check them out or write up an invoice, they need to be offered the same product or service (at a minimum) when they finish a transaction on your website. That’s not hard to set up with your web design team, and you’ll definitely see the difference in your bottom line.

5. Don’t Forget About Inventory and Fulfillment  

To this point we’ve looked at a few tools and solutions that can increase your sales, but don’t forget about everything that happens after an order has been placed.

Buyers are always impatient to know when their items will be shipped and delivered, but that’s particularly true this year when so many industries and supply lines have been disrupted. If you’re going to add merchant features to your website, or improve the ones you have, it makes sense to address inventory and fulfillment.

You can put automated systems in place that notify customers about the status of their orders and help them keep track of shipping. You can even combine inventory and ecommerce platforms so shoppers can see what’s available on your website in real time.

These sorts of add-ons can increase sales, but more importantly they lower your customer service burden. When buyers can get the information they need about their transactions directly from your website, they don’t have to call or email your team.

As with the other improvements we suggested, adding inventory and fulfillment tools to your website doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive project. If you’re already thinking about raising your ecommerce capabilities this might be a good time to consider it.

Should You Be Worried About Google Zero-Click Search Results?

Lately, web designers and search engine optimization (SEO) experts have been sounding the alarm on a growing trend: zero-click search results on Google.

If you haven’t heard this term and/or aren’t familiar with the concept behind it, we want to bring you up to speed. We are going to begin by telling you what zero-click search results are. Then, we’ll get into the bigger question of why you should or shouldn’t be concerned about them. 

Understanding Zero-Click Search Results

What you really need to know about zero-click results is that a large number of Google searchessome estimates say more than halfnever leave the company’s ecosystem. A person searches something, for example, and ends up at Google Maps, YouTube, or another Google-owned web portal to find the answer.

For users, a zero-click search result can be fast and convenient. However, for companies who rely on Google for lead generation, it can be disconcerting to know that fewer and fewer users are finding their way to third-party sites on the web.

Assuming that you get a lot of business from Google, or you prioritize SEO as part of your online marketing plan, you might be worried. However, there’s a decent chance these search queries aren’t that relevant to your business.

Why Your Business Might Not Be Affected

While it’s true that more and more Google searches are resulting in zero offsite clicks, it’s also true that users are interacting with search engines in ways that are relatively new. For example, people commonly ask Google to forecast the weather, get the starting time for the big game, or find driving directions.

There are specific web tools and portals losing traffic based on those sorts of search trends, but they may not fall within your company’s area of influence. Google isn’t recommending realtors, making appointments with architects, or giving inside advice on insurance products (as examples) within its family of web properties.

In other words, many of the zero-click search results are coming from new, information-based searches that don’t relate to industries like yours.

Looking for SEO and Online Marketing Alternatives

While we stand by the notion that most small and medium-sized companies aren’t being affected by zero-click search trends, that isn’t the same as saying they will never be affected. In fact, it’s almost inevitable that marketers reading this article will be at some point in the future.

Google changes like all companies do, and SEO is in a constant state of flux. The key is to understand that and adapt to conditions as they are right now and will be in the near future. For 2020, that means continuing to prioritize search engine optimization in its various forms. It also means keeping an eye on the horizon and experimenting with new ways to reach out to buyers over the web.

Contrary to what some business owners, executives, and web designers get locked into thinking, there are ways to find customers that don’t revolve around organic search results. The beginning of a new year is a great time to re-examine them and size up opportunities for the future.

Are Your SEO and Online Marketing Strategies Setup for Success in 2020?

Every month we talk with business owners and executives who are following old playbooks for online marketing success. What helped you find customers five years ago won’t work today, and in fact might hurt your search visibility or leave you playing catch up with your competitors.

Effectively Marketing to Your Company’s Advantage

At The Marcom Group, we often meet business owners who have tried marketing their company on their own but never quite achieved the results they wanted. Maybe branding and marketing your business has taken a backseat to your daily operations. You want more business and more traffic to your website, but you’re not quite sure how to accomplish that. Working with a professional, full-service advertising agency like The Marcom Group can provide you with the guidance and resources you need to more effectively market to your target demographic. 

The Marcom Group: Your Marketing Partner 

Many businesses owners don’t realize just how important marketing is from the outset. They may use cookie-cutter services to create their website and other marketing materials—but these templated services are limited in how much they can personalize to your business. Do-it-yourself programs can only offer so many functions—but with The Marcom Group, your options are nearly limitless. From your website to your logo to your social media advertising, our team can help you create a cohesive brand that will be a lot more effective at bringing your business to the next level. 

When companies use professional marketing materials, it can make a big difference in how potential customers perceive them. Done properly, a custom-designed business card, logo, and website can show that you are an authority in your industry. People will be more likely to trust you than someone who has put little effort into building their brand. Our staff consists of talented graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, and digital marketing strategists. Each member of the team specializes in their area, providing our customers with a level of customer service and professional expertise that they just can’t get with ready-made programs. We pride ourselves on being able to offer a variety of creative solutions for each individual company’s requirements. 

When we meet with a new client, we ask them to think beyond their immediate needs to consider their long-term goals. This often includes utilizing social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to improve their web presence and more effectively reach their target demographic. Social media is an important component of any marketing strategy, but many business owners don’t have the time to keep up with their accounts. Our team can work with you to create the SEO-enhanced content you want customers to see, post it across your accounts, and boost the posts to reach the right customers. 

We Take a Holistic Approach to Your Branding

New businesses may not have a huge marketing budget, which can make them wary of seeking out professional help. However, The Marcom Group partners with each client to maximize their marketing budget no matter how large or how small it may be. We offer a diverse range of services customized to your business. We use a holistic approach to consider all aspects of a client’s brand, from their brochures and trade show displays to their website and social media posts. This provides for more cohesive branding across all mediums, which helps to improve your corporate identity.  

Many of our clients are concerned with ranking high in online search results. This is important to earning more business from people who are searching for a particular keyword or phrase related to your industry. After all, people are more likely to select a business on the first page of their Google search than one that’s several pages in. However, you must have the right SEO plan in place to get that kind of result. For the best SEO rankings, your website must be secure, fast to load, and easy to navigate. It should also be regularly updated with high-quality content using a variety of mediums, such as photographs, videos, blog posts, and other interactive tools. We utilize the latest SEO strategies, including Google Ads, to improve rankings for our clients. From regularly updating plug-ins and checking security features to posting blogs and other content, we can manage all aspects of your website to optimize it for PCs and mobile devices. 

A business’s online reputation is paramount to their success, so we also encourage our clients to reach out to their customers to post Google reviews. This increases your online presence via a platform that more and more people are relying on every day. Replying to negative reviews can also demonstrate that you care about customer experiences. We make providing this level of customer service easy through automated responses that help you reach customers more quickly, saving you time while also showing prospective customers that you’re responsive to their concerns.

ADA Compliance for Websites

The Supreme Court recently shined a light on ADA compliance for online businesses by refusing to hear a case that had previously ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees disabled individuals the right to access not only businesses but also their websites and web-based applications. 

The initial suit was brought against Dominos by Guillermo Robles, a blind man who was unable to order a pizza on the pizza chain’s website because it didn’t have the capability to accommodate him. He claimed this violated the ADA, which states that anyone with a disability should have full access to the goods and services “of any place of public accommodations.” While Dominos argued that this law only applied to physical locations, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it also included the online services offered by the business. 

This ruling could open the door to many other lawsuits against retailers who fail to make their websites accessible. The Supreme Court’s action implies that they are likely to apply ADA standards to web-based services in the future, leaving many business owners concerned about their ADA compliance. 

What to Know about ADA Compliance

Making your website ADA compliant is a smart business move that will not only protect your company but also help you reach more individuals with disabilities who may be interested in your services. Here are some key things you should know about ADA compliance:

  • The ADA extends to Tier I and Tier III organizations. Tier I is any business that is open at least 20 weeks out of the year with at least 15 employees. A Tier III organization applies to the “public accommodation” category, which includes businesses like grocery stores, banks, hospitals, and retailers. 
  • The ADA doesn’t have specific guidelines for websites, but the Supreme Court’s actions suggest that they should have the same level of accessibility as a brick-and-mortar location. This means using various website programming techniques to ensure a website is functional for individuals with disabilities.  
  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) is the industry standard for web developers. It consists of guidelines and techniques to ensure websites are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These guidelines are broken up into three levels to conform to varying degrees of disability.
    • Level A: This is the lowest level of accessibility. It focuses on ways to improve navigation and translation for readers. 
    • Level AA: This level does more to account for multiple disabilities, including providing developers with direction on color contrast and identifying errors. It’s more in line with what has been considered acceptable in past court cases involving ADA compliance.
    • Level AAA: At this level, a website is designed to be accessible to the broadest range of individuals with disabilities using a combination of programming tools and elements.

4 Things Customers Want from You When the Economy Reopens

While the coronavirus pandemic is still unfolding in many ways, business owners are being confronted with new challenges and decisions as we move forward. 

In some states, the economic reopening process has already begun. In others, official start dates are still weeks away. But, regardless of where you work and live, you’re probably thinking about what you can do to hit the ground running when customers start to return in bigger numbers.

The best ideas and practices are going to vary from one industry or situation to the next, but it’s always a good idea to start by thinking of things from your customers’ point of view. With that in mind, let’s look at four things buyers are going to want from you when the economy reopens…

1. Clear Updates about Your Businesses’ Availability

As we’ve already seen in some areas, “open for business” can be a guideline rather than a practice. In other words, some companies are opening, while others are choosing to remain closed. For that reason, it’s crucial that you communicate to your customers what your policies and availability will look like. Let them know if they can take advantage of your products or services as your state reopens. And if they can’t, let them know when they can expect to see you in the future.

2. Information about Availability and Fulfillment

In the same way, being open doesn’t necessarily translate into “business as usual.” It may be that you are able to operate in an altered or limited capacity, or that some regular products or services aren’t available because of disruptions to your supply chain. Be clearon your website, and emails, and through your social accountsabout what you can and can’t provide in the coming weeks. That will save yourself, your team, and your customers from disruptions.

3. Safety Guidelines and Risk Management Procedures

In industries where person-to-person contact is the norm, you might want to communicate to buyers how your policies have changed in light of the continued coronavirus threat. If you’re taking extra precautions, or practicing social distancing measures, highlight those steps in your communications. Doing so will let buyers know what they can expect when they visit you or meet with a member of your team. It might even increase sales if it can help you draw in customers who would otherwise stay away.

4. Marketing That Speaks to Customer Needs

In many cases, business owners are going to find that what customers wanted from them a couple of months ago isn’t necessarily relevant today. Lots of people don’t have as much money to spend as they did at the start of the year, or they have different needs because of changes to their own businesses or careers. Recognize that and emphasize products or services in your marketing that speak to immediate concerns. You’ll know when things are back to normal, but most of your customer base probably isn’t there yet.

What Mobile-Friendly Web Design Means to Your Customers

You have heard hundreds of times by now that you need to have a mobile-friendly website to compete online in 2020 and beyond. However, there is some confusion amongst business owners about what that actually means. Is it enough to have a responsive website that adapts to mobile platforms, or is there more to the equation?

To find the best answer to this question, we have to stop thinking like marketers and web designers. Instead, we should approach the issue through the lens of potential customers. What would mobile-friendly mean to them?

Through years of work, study, and user testing, we’ve identified several traits that need to be present for website to be considered truly mobile-friendly. Here are some of the most important factors…

A Website That Displays Cleanly on a Small Screen

This is the most obvious definition of a mobile-friendly business website, but it’s worth spelling things out. If someone can arrive on your site via a phone or tablet and finds strange layouts, distorted images, or other obvious issues, then they are very likely to click away. This isn’t a very high bar to clear, but lacking basic mobile functionality is a good way to alienate half or more of your potential customers.

A Web Layout That Works Across Several Browsers and Devices

Of course, just because your website looks great on one mobile device doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to display perfectly on another. You can’t afford to lose a huge chunk of business just because some of your customers like iPhones and others prefer Androids. That’s why pages and layouts need to be tested on a variety of screens and platforms. 

Reasonable Page Loading Times

Most of us have been through the frustration of trying to load a website that took several seconds (three or more) to come online. Your average mobile user will simply take their time and attention elsewhere. You can speed your pages up by investing in premium web hosting and streamlining your code for fast delivery. If you are unsure about your website performance, an audit might be able to give you the answers you need.

Content That’s Optimized for Mobile Devices

It isn’t only servers that affect website speed. The content you load onto your pages (particularly images and videos) can play a big role too. For one thing, it’s important that they are formatted with the correct size and resolution to display on both traditional computers and mobile devices. And for another, they need to be identified properly with HTML5 tags to prevent delays and errors.

Fast and Intuitive Website Interaction

Have you ever tried to navigate your way through a website, or complete a purchase, only to become frustrated and leave? This is an all-too-common experience in the mobile age. Remember that many of your customers will be tapping links and prompts with their fingers. They don’t want to type in long strings of information through forms, and will appreciate simple menus, click to call buttons, and other intuitive features that make it easy for them to complete tasks.