Musings of Tony Gavin, Esq. | Intelligent Marketing Sensei

Facebook, You Don’t Love Me Anymore – But I Love Your Remarketing Pixel!

Let me start by saying that I love Facebook. I live in Asia. Most of my family lives in Australia. I have friends and relatives scattered literally all over the globe. Since I started using Facebook I’ve reconnected with long lost cousins, friends that I thought I might never see again, schoolmates and old Army buddies. Every day I enjoy the experience of being able to see my kids, grandkids and extended network of family and friends living their everyday lives. It’s a portal to a world that was all but unimaginable just a decade ago – and I for one like the view.

It’s free and always will be

When you signed up for your Facebook account, you may have noticed the positioning statement on their homepage that says “It’s free and always will be”. Facebook has always proclaimed that it’s free to use Facebook and would remain that way. That may be the case for people who use Facebook as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. It’s certainly no longer the case for commercial users, many of whom have invested large amounts of money to develop a presence on Facebook. Right now, some commercial users like Eat24 are actively closing down their Facebook pages. Personally, I’ve all but ignored my own Facebook fan page for some time. I’ve been telling some of my social media clients to do the same thing.

Facebook – the greatest marketing tool ever invented?

By rights, Facebook should be the greatest marketing platform ever unleashed. They have the data to understand your every interest. Facebook knows who your friends are, and probably have enough information to understand what drives your friendship and makes it work (or not). Depending upon what you share, they know where you have lived, where you have visited, what restaurants you eat at, your sexual orientation, your religious and political views, and what kinds of computer, tablet and smartphone you own. They may know where you work, what your profession is and roughly how much you earn. Facebook knows a LOT about you. So why isn’t every marketer on the planet falling over themselves to advertise on Facebook?

Three things that small businesses hate about Facebook

Firstly, small business owners resent the fact that Facebook is trying to make them pay, in order to display content to their own, hard-won Likers. Many business owners have allocated considerable time and resources to building a Liker base on Facebook, only to have Facebook pull the rug out from under them. Without digging into the whats and hows and whys of it, Facebook now only feeds new posts to around six percent of Likers. This means that if a small business has developed a Liker base of say 10,000 people, anything they post on their Facebook page will only be fed to around 600 of their base. To feed posts to more Likers, Facebook now demands payment to “boost” the post.

Secondly, small business owners hate the fact that Facebook (according to their terms of service) “owns” all of the content that they post on Facebook. Let’s face it if a business goes to the trouble of creating something that it believes is worthy of sharing with its Likers, why would they want Facebook to own it? From a purely legal perspective, business owners probably shouldn’t post anything that they value on Facebook at all!

Finally, (and most importantly) small business owners are waking up to the fact that Facebook is not somewhere that people go to in order to buy things. Reality is that when people hop on a search engine like Google to buy something, they will search for something specific. They’re looking to buy, and any ads that they might see are really not an intrusion. They can even be helpful. People don’t visit Facebook to search for products and services. They visit to catch up with family and friends, post pictures of their cat and play Candy Crush Saga. Ads are an intrusion.

Is there anything left to love about Facebook?

Sure. I really don’t think that small businesses should abandon their Facebook pages. As a tool of personal recommendation for small, local businesses, Facebook can be word of mouth marketing on steroids. I’ve seen friends asking if anyone knows of a good plumber in such and such a place, or asking for information about where to purchase certain items locally. The power of Facebook is undeniable in these circumstances – but it’s not a paid ad – it’s a personal recommendation. Sales leads just don’t get any better than this and Facebook is an awesome medium for producing them.

Should I pay for ads or Likers on Facebook?

Probably not. If your business is a local service business, I’d have to question the value of paying for exposure on Facebook, at all. The truth is that people are only going to get a new accountant when their old one dies or retires. They’re only going to try and find a plumber when their toilet is broken. Chances are, they’ll go to Google to search for those services. On the other hand, if you are in business as a health and nutrition consultant, chances are that you can develop an engaged audience which is keen for day-to-day health tips – and developing a community of Likers on Facebook, and paying to boost your posts may be a viable option for you.

Just think about it…

Think of things this way; how would you react to the kind of ad you are thinking of placing on Facebook if it was to pop up on your feed? How much time would you be prepared to spend reading the sort of posts that you could create for your own Facebook fan page? How often would you be interested in seeing a post appear on your feed about the kind of business that you run if you were an average Facebook user? Ask yourself these questions. Ask your friends, family and colleagues too. Chances are they go onto Facebook to catch up with family and friends, and to be entertained. It’s just possible that they don’t want to see your products and services on there. It’s also pretty clear that Facebook just doesn’t love you (or me) like they used to.

Remarketing – Facebook is trying to win my love again!

For those business owners who are unfamiliar with Facebook remarketing, you need to find out about it. This article from Facebook News is a few years old. It’s probably more worthy of a read now than what it was when Facebook first published it. Marketers can now use Facebook as a way to re-engage with people who have already visited their website, by installing a “pixel”. Think of the pixel like a tracking device. It will follow your website visitors to their Facebook page and serve your ads to them – remarketing to people who have already demonstrated some level of interest in what you have to sell.

Why Remarketing Works on Facebook

Remarketing works on Facebook because it is not intrusive. This is not about businesses posting something share-worthy, and hoping that it goes viral. This is not about trying to get the attention of somebody with no interest in you, or your products. It’s about placing your message in front of somebody who has already put their hand up as a potential buyer, by visiting your website. You are reengaging with somebody who has already demonstrated an interest – you are not intruding – they have already thought about you before. The potential power of this kind of advertising cannot be overlooked.

A final word

Many internet platforms start out free. Google is a great example. When they began, everything was free. Google introduced AdWords in 2003, and it has since gone on to become the most successful and profitable advertising platform in history. Facebook has long struggled to monetize its own operations in a way that meets with shareholder expectations. My guess is that remarketing may just be the thing that finally takes the platform to the moon. My advice as a marketer – Facebook remarketing just cannot be ignored. Jump on it!

Partnering On Web-Based Business Ventures? Why I (almost) Always Say No

My first investment in a web-based venture was back in 1999/2000. A friend and I invested over $600,000 of our own cash into developing an internet dating site. We later tried (unsuccessfully) to list the fledgeling business on the Newcastle Stock Exchange – during the height of the .dot bomb boom and bust. Back then I barely knew what a website was and probably knew even less about how to successfully market anything online. It was quite an expensive learning experience for me.

Up the learning curve I go…

Fast forward to 2016 and I’m a battle-hardened veteran of many hundreds of web development projects. I’ve been hands-on with everything from one-page websites costing less than $50, through to developments that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes took up to two years to complete. I now have a great team of people working for me and get (and need) a lot of help!

I’ve also owned and operated my fair share of money-making websites, along the way. I’ve engaged in e-commerce, affiliate marketing, online advertising – and made money from all of them. I’ve made serious money both from dealing in domain names and running online directories. I still engage in both of those activities, although my primary business now is creating and implementing online marketing campaigns for others. I do what I do because I happen to enjoy it. Yes, I like the money too – but it isn’t my primary motivation anymore.

I’ve got this great idea – you can be a partner!

I’d love a dollar for every time I’ve heard those words fall from somebody’s mouth. I regularly have people coming to me with a “great idea” for a new web-based business that will somehow revolutionise the entire world. They have no web development expertise, and little or no money to invest in somebody else building them a website. They have no idea how to market online – and no budget to do it – but they’ll “give” my company 20% of their idea if we’ll build their website and “help” with the marketing for free.

Why I say no!

There are many reasons why I say no to these kinds of proposals. Here are some of the main ones:

Concentration

It doesn’t matter to me anymore if the idea is good or bad. What matters is the business that I’m actually in. I am passionate about what I do and about what my company delivers to its clients. I don’t have the time to be equally passionate about the ideas that people bring to me. Investing my time, energy and money into bringing their passion to life cannot be a part of my personal plan without interfering with the other things that I do. I like to concentrate.

Lack of business experience

Often, people who come to me with an idea, lack any real-world experience in business. That generally becomes apparent to me within minutes of starting to probe. Combine a lack of experience with a lack of hard money invested in a project and that usually equals a person who will walk away when things get tough. Most investors want to put their time and money behind somebody who is battle tested. I’m no different.

Lack of marketing expertise

This one should probably be at the very top of my list. Web-based businesses are not like Field of Dreams, where “If you build it he will come”. I could probably write a fifty-paragraph rant just about this one thing. Best left alone!

Lack of any viable revenue model

Many (maybe a majority) of would be web-entrepreneurs fail to put any real work into developing a revenue model for their web-based business idea. So many times I’ve seen their eyes glaze over when confronted on this issue, as they stammer and stumble to explain how their website will EVER make any money. I know, Google and YouTube and Facebook all started out that way. I get it. I also get that your business is unlikely to be the next one of those.

Poor potential returns

Following hot on the heels of lack of any viable revenue model is its blood-brother, poor potential returns. Many would be entrepreneurs seem clueless about the need for a business to earn a solid return on investment. In my experience, few prospective web-entrepreneurs attempt to compile any realistic numbers projecting sales, expenses or profitability. It’s as if these basic business tools are not required because “it’s the web – the market is HUGE!”. If only that were enough!

Risk aversion

I might miss out on the next Facebook. I’m far more likely to miss out on investing in a loss-making venture. More than 35 years of being in business has taught me that businesses fail more often than not. That holds true even for large companies in start-up situations. Look at the recent Masters Hardware disaster, presided over by retail behemoths Woolworths and Lowes. Even when circumstances are absolutely ideal (as was the case with Masters Hardware) far more businesses fail than manage to succeed.

Some final thoughts

I love entrepreneurs. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life and know first-hand the agony and the joy that goes with the territory. I’ve made and lost millions of dollars. I’ve dwelled in an ivory tower and lived in a car. I’ve drunk $1,000 bottles of wine and borrowed money from relatives just to eat. I don’t think there’s anything about the entrepreneur lifestyle that anyone could tell me, that I haven’t lived for myself.

When a would-be web-entrepreneur brings me a new and exciting proposal I don’t want to pour water on it – but I probably don’t want to invest in it either. It’s their dream, not mine. They need to find a way to bring it to life and that’s undoubtedly why they are talking to me and probably, many others. That’s what entrepreneurs do and I love them for it. They make things happen.

Just please, don’t get disappointed when I turn you down. It’s got less to do with you personally than you could begin to imagine.

5 Reasons Why Mautic is Not Suitable for Most Businesses

I know that many people follow my posts on Mautic. According to Influencer World, I am currently ranked 16th in the world as a Mautic influencer. Everyone who knows me personally is aware of my tremendous enthusiasm for Mautic and also knows that I’ve been a supporter and evangelist of this powerful platform since its early days. The big question I’m sure you’re now contemplating is, why am I saying that Mautic is not suitable for use by most businesses?

This is NOT an anti-Mautic Rant

First up, let me make it clear that this post is not in any way a rant against Mautic and/or its terrific community of developers. It’s the simple truth, told from the perspective of someone who has to deal with the day-to-day frustrations of business owners we are currently supporting using Mautic. It’s also my own, direct experience of using the Mautic platform for close to two years now.

Here are the 5 key reasons why business owners should think twice before using Mautic:

1. Buggy Updates

Virtually every new release of Mautic is plagued with bugs. Sometimes, these are very serious bugs. We long ago set up a Mautic test environment on our server, which includes Mautic integrated installations of Joomla! and WordPress. On the test sites we’ve replicated themes, templates, modules, extensions, plugins, pages, custom code, mail configurations, Cron jobs, etc. all of which we have in use, elsewhere. Each time a new version of Mautic is released we install it on the test site first, then proceed with testing. Every time we do this there are problems and often a lot of them. Frequently, these problems cannot be resolved by a novice. They need a programmer.

2. Cost of Management

Following on from buggy updates is the cost of managing Mautic. Our development team has spent hundreds of hours identifying and resolving update related issues. Developers cost time and money. That’s time and money that most businesses simply don’t have. The truth is that this “free” platform can end up costing any business very real money to host and manage. We’ve lived in the hope for a long time that the Mautic community would get this particular aspect of Mautic, under control. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened, up to now. Fingers crossed for the future!

3. Sharp Learning Curve

Mautic has a very sharp learning curve. Whilst there are some excellent resources out there for users to tap into, few business owners are prepared to invest the time and effort required to really put Mautic to work for them. That is as much an issue of people not wanting to take the time to learn Mautic, as it’s an issue with the difficulty of mastering Mautic. Once again, this is an observation of how Mautic tends to be utilised by real businesses. The truth is that most business owners will never become proficient at using Mautic. It’s just too difficult for them to fully grasp.

4. Lack of Marketing Skills

Mautic set out to create a marketing automation platform for everyman. It’s an admirable objective and something that I thought was a great idea. I am no longer convinced of that. The reason why is that using Mautic proficiently and profitably requires something more than knowing which buttons to click and where to drag and drop. Using Mautic effectively requires a broad range of skills including basic competency in graphic design, some knowledge of HTML coding, decent copywriting ability and a variety of other general digital marketing skills. The reality is that most business owners lack some or all of these skills and are often reluctant to hire somebody who does have them. You might learn where and how to click every single button on Mautic – but still get nothing from it without these skills.

5. Unrealistic Expectations

Mautic is not a miracle worker. The platform offers much and delivers in spades on most of those promises. The simple truth is that unless business owners are prepared to invest the necessary time and money into making the platform work for them, Mautic will simply become a source of near-endless frustration and cost, for them. Realistically, Mautic is a professional level digital marketing tool. Most small businesses cannot absorb the costs associated with putting this exciting platform to work for them. Even larger businesses that might be able to afford properly implementing and managing Mautic, baulk at the real costs of putting it to work for them. Expectations need to be realistic, when using Mautic.

Mautic as a Core Service Offering

For more than a year my company has implemented and managed Mautic as part of its core service offering to businesses. For all of the reasons outlined in this post, from the end of this month, we will not be offering Mautic as part of any core service packages from now on. Mautic is not an everyman product.

We will still be providing services for businesses which have a clear need for Mautic. We’ll also implement and manage Mautic for businesses with both realistic expectations of just what Mautic can deliver for them and pockets deep enough to drive that. We will, of course, continue to support existing customers who are using Mautic, already.

Leave Mautic to the Professionals

In summary, my opinion is that Mautic is an automation tool best left to the professionals. If your business is considering using Mautic, you might like to think about the foregoing facts before walking down the Mautic superhighway. Mautic offers either Heaven or Hell, without much in between. You have been warned!

Zoho CRM | How to Cancel Your Subscription & Close Your Account

Initially, I was super-impressed with the vast capability of the Zoho system, and we moved quickly with trialling a variety of Zoho tools and applications. Within a few months, it became apparent that the breath-taking complexity of the system meant that we could not convince team members to use tools efficiently, and we dropped it – but that is not what this post is about…

During our Zoho experience, we decided to try them out as a lead capture and auto-responder system for a new client – something similar to MailChimp. The client organized a paid subscription, last August. Due to the difficulty of using the Zoho system, the account was never used, and the client neglected to cancel it. About two weeks ago, Zoho emailed my client and asked them to update their credit card details. The client asked us to assist with cancelling the account.

Initially, I assigned this task to a junior staff member. It seemed simple enough – cancel a Zoho subscription. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I ended up personally wasting over two hours, running around in circles to try and figure out how to cancel the subscription and terminate the account. It turns out I wasn’t the only one having trouble. Zoho’s forums are FULL of pissed off people, who also can’t figure out how to do this. The answers provided by Zoho support on their forums are misleading at best, and downright deceitful at worst.

I eventually emailed support. Three times. I also made two (completely pointless) phone calls. In my final email to Zoho, I threatened legal action if they didn’t respond. That seemed to do the trick. Here is their response:

Hello Tony,

My sincere apologies for the delayed response.

We see that there is a Zoho Campaigns account under ‘[clients email]’. Since a paid service is active, you cannot close the organisation online.

To update card information or to downgrade the Campaigns account, you need to log in as Super admin ‘[clients email]’.

Kindly follow the below steps to change your credit card details online,

  • Login to Zoho Campaigns account as Super Admin.
  • Click on the Upgrade link (at the right top of the page)/ Settings module –> Subscription.
  • In Subscription page, you will find Change Credit Card Details below Current Plan Details.
  • Click on the link to change the credit card details.
  • Enter the required details and click Save button to confirm.

We are updating our user interface so that you will have all advantages as the other Zoho Products.

For downloading the invoices:

As of now, we do not have a Link where you can download the Invoices relating to the Zoho Campaigns service. But If you would like to get all the invoices, I will provide you all the invoice copies in a separate e-mail.

Before closing the account, you will have to downgrade the account to a free plan.

Please follow the steps to downgrade your Zoho Campaigns subscription details,

  • Login to Zoho Campaigns account as Super Admin.
  • Click on the Upgrade link (at the right top of the page)/ Settings module –> Subscription.
  • In Subscription page, you will find Cancel Your Subscription below Current Plan Details.
  • Click on that link to cancel the subscription.
  • Click Cancel Subscription button to confirm.

Once your account is downgraded, Please send us an e-mail, so that we shall delete the account form our end.

We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused and will certainly look forward in assisting you regarding this.

Thanks & Regards,

[nameless support idiot]
Zoho payments | Zoho Corp

As ridiculous and convoluted as their procedure for payment deactivation and account closure is, they do in fact have one. You just can’t find it online – and that appears to be a very deliberate omission on their part. Others and myself are wasting hundreds of hours attempting to find this information, which they make as difficult as possible to obtain.

My advice to anyone considering dealing with Zoho is – well – don’t. I hate to say it, but it’s clear that this organization sets out to make the task of closing an account as difficult as possible. As if that isn’t bad enough, they clearly withhold that information from their website, and their support team only responds to serious threats of legal action. That’s not a great deal however you look at it.

In a later blog, I’ll detail my experience of using Zoho. It’s something that seemed great at first blush, but which failed to live up to expectation.

Some People Don’t Make Money Because They Are Dickheads

I recently had cause to sack a client. That’s not exactly a new thing for me, but it’s not something I’ve needed to do in quite a while. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve had to do it in several years.

The client in question (let’s call him Richard) runs a professional services business in a major Australian city. We’d built Richard a killer website, and had it ranking like a demon on Google for all of the keywords that really mattered to him. Richard had traffic. He had fresh leads pouring in each month. The problem is, Richard is a dickhead. He’d get new clients, get stoned or drunk (often both) – abuse them – then lose them. Somehow, that became our fault!

You can have the best website in the world. You can fill it up with great engagement and lead capture tools. You can implement killer auto-responder sequences, and have decision and action based sales funnels that would be the envy of any business. You can have a social media presence that makes you look like an expert. If you’re running a small business and you are the front man (or woman) you also need to be somebody that people want to deal with. People are going to need to like you.

I could write this exhaustive list of things that you need to do in order to have people feeling the love. The truth is if you really need a list like that you’re probably a dickhead anyway. I can’t help you. You need a different kind of help to what I can offer. All I can say is “stop being a dick”.

Life is far too short to deal with dickheads. I don’t do it. I find that life is so much better that way.

How to Hack-Proof Your Password | Easy Video Tutorial

AROUND HALF OF ALL PASSWORDS CURRENTLY BEING USED TODAY CAN BE CRACKED IN SECONDS DUE TO THEM BE VERY WEAK, AND ANOTHER 45% CAN BE CRACKED WITHIN A FEW HOURS.

Even in the digital era, passwords can still be easily compromised. In fact, some cyber-security problems are due to human errors, which include creating a weak password that is easy to guess. No matter the level of sophistication of technology, your organisation will remain vulnerable to threats if you do not have stronger forms of authentication. It is like installing an alarm system, but leaving the door open to intruders. Perhaps you are one of the many users who simply create a password for compliance. When prompted to create a password, you obliviously key in some letters and numbers. Something like password123456.

If weak passwords expose you to cyberthreats and data breaches, you need to create SUPER STRONG PASSWORDS to increase your data’s level of security and protection. Super strong passwords are longer passwords with a minimum of 18 characters. It can be taken from random sources, affirmations, famous quotes or even published sources. Passwords or passphrases have to be unpredictable. Watch the video to learn more about creating super strong passwords.

If You Build it They Will Come – A Website Myth Dispelled

Many people reading this post will have seen the film Field of Dreams. It’s a story about a farmer who keeps hearing voices from a cornfield that say “If you build it he will come”. The film isn’t really my cup of tea and I’m not going to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie – but (spoiler alert) – the ghost of the farmers’ long last father eventually comes to visit after the builds “it” (“it” being a baseball field). A lot of people seem to think that if they build a website, “they” (being customers) will come. Here’s another spoiler alert. It just ain’t so.

Is your website like a desert billboard?

Imagine for a moment that you set up a billboard in the middle of the desert. The billboard might be advertising air conditioning – which will probably seem like a damned fine idea to anyone who has ever spent time in a desert. It’s hot and any message about how to cool down might be welcomed. One problem. Very few people are ever going to drive by that billboard. Of the people who do drive by only some will be interested in air conditioning. Fewer still will want to buy air conditioning from you. Fewer again will want to buy air conditioning, right now.

Chances are that your website is just like that desert billboard. It’s got a worthwhile message targeting people who are likely to be interested in what you sell. The problem is that too few people are “driving by”. In the business it actually called web traffic – and web traffic is what you need.

Getting customers to drive by, or STOP

A variety of tactics can be utilised to drive discovery of your website. Those tactics should be informed by your digital marketing strategy. Here are a few traffic generating tactics which are in common use.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the science (some say dark art) of driving traffic to your website via organic search results, primarily on the Google search engine. For most small, local businesses SEO is an effective, low-cost way to generate targeted website visitors. Just be aware that it can take a little time to produce results with SEO, so it’s not always a great way to generate immediate website visitation.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay per click (PPC) advertising allows you to advertise to potential customers and pay only for the clicks that result in a visit to your website. Google AdWords and Facebook ads are the two best-known examples of these types of ads. PPC can get your business at the top of search engine results TODAY and done properly can be an effective, profitable driver of website visitation and new business.

Remarketing/Retargeting

Remarketing and retargeting are very similar to PPC ads, but with the advantage that ads are served exclusively to people who have already demonstrated an interest by visiting your website. Remarketing ads can be served across a variety of “partner” websites and social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Personally, I think that almost every business should be using this very effective medium of reengagement.

Content Marketing

Content marketing focuses on producing, publishing and distributing content that is likely to be of interest to your targeted audiences. That content may consist of such things as blog posts, videos, giveaways, etc. This post that you’re reading right now is an example of content marketing! Like SEO, content marketing can take considerable time to pay off for your business. Don’t rely upon it as an immediate source of new traffic.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing consists of finding ways to reach out to and engage with the audiences that you build on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Social media can help to make you the local, friendly authority in your business. Just be aware that social, means social. In other words, you need to take the time and make the effort to be human. That means actually engaging with people!

Outreach Marketing

Outreach marketing consists of you approaching potential clients, via various methodologies. That could be via email, personal messages on social media, commenting on forums, etc. This is a very direct form of marketing and you’ll often see fast results from doing this.

Build it, then tell people about it!

This post isn’t designed to be a “how to”. It’s more of a “what to”. Building a website and hoping that people might drop by simply isn’t enough. You need to make people aware of the existence of your website and let them know where to go. Some or all of the tactics suggested in this post might work for you and your business in building visitation to your website and converting visitors into paying customers. Try them out. Let me know in the comments how it goes.

The Best Websites for Tradies: Putting your Lazy Website to www.work!

I’m often asked by tradies “What’s the best kind of website for me?”. I’d sure love it if the answer to that question was as simple as some people would have you believe, but it isn’t. Like so many aspects of marketing for tradesmen, the answer is “It depends”. I’m going to try and cover off on the major things that you’ll need to consider, right here.

Who is your customer?

The very first thing to consider when developing a new website is your customers. By customers, I mean the kind of people you serve (or want to serve) within the area of your geographic reach. I’m going to use a real-world example here. Let’s say you’re a plumber. It might be that you spend all of your time contracting for builders. You might be more of a renovation specialist, or maybe you’re one of those 24-hour emergency callout guys. What you do and who you serve is going to influence the kind of website you need to develop.

If you serve builders, they are going to want to hear about your attention to detail, timeliness of completion, the guarantees you provide, your licensing status, your insurance coverage, your credit terms and the scope of work that you can handle. They might want to see images of completed projects and testimonials from other builders you have worked with. They’re not interested in your ability to unblock a drain or fix a minor bathroom leak!

If you’re a 24-hour emergency plumber, people generally only want to know a couple of things and they want to know RIGHT BLOODY NOW! They want to know your phone number, how quickly you can be at their house and how much a callout will cost them. Information about your license number and how beautifully your last bathroom reno worked out are of zero interest to them. You need a website that literally shoves what they need to know right in their face.

Clarify Your Value Proposition

Right of the back of understanding exactly who your customer is is clarifying your value proposition. Think of your value proposition is a promise that you make to the customers you serve.

First up, visitors to your website will want to know that they are in the right place. Make them think and they’ll hit the back button faster than lightning. This is no time to try and be clever. If you are a 24-hour emergency plumber, be bold and place the words 24 HOUR EMERGENCY PLUMBER front and centre on your homepage. You might then clarify that statement with a value proposition such as “We help drains go with the flow” or something that is clever or fun. The main thing is that your visitors will know immediately that they are in the right place.

People need to know right away that your website addresses their immediate needs. Provide a clear and compelling message about what you do and be CLEAR about the promises you make. Work hard to avoid excess clutter and noise that might distract your visitors in any way. That means no flashing words, scrolling images or annoying music! People want a plumber and you are it! Take care of this stuff or visitors to your website will be hitting the back button in droves – I guarantee you!

Design Matters

You only ever get one chance to make a first impression. Often, your website will be your very first point of contact with a prospective customer, so it needs to create both a realistic and positive impression about what you and your business are all about. My best advice is to keep the design clean, keep it simple and make sure that it properly reflects your brand, utilising your logo and using colours, fonts and imagery to reinforce your message.

Nothing screams amateur hour more than a website that looks ugly, is difficult to navigate and makes it hard for visitors to locate what they are looking for. Truthfully, most tradies shouldn’t be playing amateur web designer any more than a web designer should be playing amateur electrician or gasfitter. Spend some money and get the professional help that you need to create the right impression for visitors. Do it, or they’ll visit your website an quickly leave.

Have ONE Call to Action

A call to action is the ONE thing that you want visitors to your tradies website to do. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you? Would you prefer that they sent you an email? Maybe you want them to download a free guide that you’ve created about bathroom renovations, or you’d prefer that they ask for a free quote, via a web calendar. Maybe a lot of things! The primary thing is to craft your message towards only ONE consistent call to action.

The research is clear that overloading visitors to your website with more options results in less actions being taken. Whilst this seems counterintuitive, the research cannot be ignored. Decide upon exactly what course of action you want your visitors to pursue, then structure your content and call to action to push them towards that ONE goal. Like many things in web design, less really is more.

Simplify Your Services

People often find dealing with tradies to be quite overwhelming. Unlike everyday grocery purchases, many people might only need a tradie a few times in their entire lives. It’s natural for people to fear what they don’t understand (which is mainly the cost) – and many people do fear talking to you. It’s up to you to make that easier for them and one of the simplest ways to achieve that is by simplifying your services.

A lot of tradies use jargon on their websites and also have a tendency to use 10 words where 5 might do. Write as if you are speaking to a 12 year old. If they can understand what you’re saying, so can pretty much everyone who visits your website. Even sophisticated buyers appreciate directness and simplicity. Make yourself and your services accessible by simplifying them. Your website visitors will love you for it – and loving your results in new leads.

Make Your Website Responsive

Responsive websites adapt to fit a variety of devices and screen resolutions. Making your website responsive means that it is usable on everything from desktop and laptops, through to tablets and mobile phones. Given that well over 50% of all searches on Google are now conducted on a handheld device, the importance of having a great responsive design cannot be overstated.

Importantly, in the early part of 2018 Google will be switching to a “mobile first” index, meaning that primary Google results will be drawn from their mobile index. Websites which are not designed to work with mobile devices will be downgraded or eliminated entirely from this supremely important index.

Set all of the foregoing aside and the back button is just a click away. People will use it if their mobile experience is poor, just as you would!

Don’t Make Them Think!

I touched on this in earlier, when I mentioned the importance of clarifying your value proposition. The less people have to search and think about where to find information on your website, the better. That isn’t because your website visitors are dumb – it’s because they’re busy – and you have to always remember that they can hit that back button and go to a website that makes things simpler for them. It’s up to YOU to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Remember that YOU are the expert. Part of being an expert is being able to break down the complex into its essential components and make them easily digestible for the non-experts who need your services. I’ll say it again: less is more. Think about what people need and want to know and make it easy to find and easy to understand. It makes you look way smarter than your competitors who use long words, frustrating navigation and confusing or contradictory calls to action.

Provide Social Proof

Testimonials are extremely powerful persuaders. You already have people whom your firm has helped and chances are that some of them will be happy to provide you with glowing testimonials. These can be placed directly on your website or sometimes be fed to it via integrations with social media platforms or review focused websites.

Testimonials provide compelling evidence of how other people just like your website visitors have acted and provides them with a kind of roadmap of where to go and what to do. If you don’t have any testimonials you can use case studies, or maybe even demonstrate the presence of a good-sized social media following. The objective is simply to provide some proof of your ability to solve your website visitors’ unique problem or problems.

Summary

Following these simple tips will keep the right kind of visitors engaged on your website for longer and will dramatically increase the chances that they will reach out to you. Like anything, the only way to know if this works is to make the necessary changes and put it to the test. Best of luck with making your lazy website start to www.work! for a living.

NB: This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse and has been edited by its original author.