Are Starter Websites Worth the Money?

Are Starter Websites Worth the Money?

The importance of branding cannot be overstated. Whether it’s an eCommerce site, an information site, or even an affiliate site – a professional design and brand is crucial.  Yet, for some reason, I constantly see and hear marketers claim that a website isn’t worth anything unless earning can be proven.  Really?  So, what you are saying is that if I am an entrepreneur and I go the DIY route for a brand new project and build a website like this one, I shouldn’t be interested in purchasing one that looks like this

…because it isn’t earning any money yet?

Come again?

Look, the first site isn’t "terrible" – BUT – which one looks more professional to you?  I mean, seriously, the minute someone tells me that a website has "no value" simply because it’s not earning anything yet, I immediately know that said person has zero understanding of consumers, trust, branding, and the relationship among the three.  If you are a "marketer" and do not understand these things, can you really call yourself a marketer?

Look at the two websites linked above. Which website are you more likely to trust? Which one looks more professional and trustworthy to you?  Now, keep in mind that there are thousands (maybe even millions) of people who think just like you.  Why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward, so to speak, with a well-designed and professionally branded website?

Starter Websites…

A “starter website” is typically a newly-built website with no history of earnings or revenue.  Often, starter websites won’t even have content on them.  Because starter websites are pretty bare, they can often be purchased for under $300.  The lower-quality starter websites typically start at around $50 or less while the higher-quality ones (the ones you should be looking at) will often be available for $200-$400.

When considering whether or not a "starter" website is something to invest in, you need to think about how much time you are going to spend building your own site (or hiring someone to do it for you).  You need to consider the costs and you need to think about what the finished product is going to look like if you do it yourself.  Is it going to positively represent your brand or project?  Is it going to come off a bit to "amateurish"?  Is it going to cost $900?  These are all very important t questions to think about.

Keep in mind that most established businesses pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a well-designed and branded website when they are ready to take their business online.  How much do you think Walmart paid for the Walmart.com website when it was first put into production?  How about Home Depot’s homedepot.com?  Their websites were not making any money when they were first built.

For me, it’s a no-brainier.  If you come across a starter website that’s for sale and you feel that it looks good and would reflect your brand or project in a positive light, snatch it up!  Remember, the idea behind a "starter" website is that it serves as a foundation.  Who cares if it’s making money right now – that’s not why you are purchasing it.  You are purchasing it so you can give your brand a good look.

So, the next time you hear someone say that a “starter website" isn’t worth anything because it isn’t earning money yet, think about how the website being referenced can help you project a professional image and how that can help you increase profits.

 

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5 Facebook Tips for Small Businesses

5 Facebook Tips for Small Businesses

 

FacebookJoin me for a free 1-Hour (LIVE) webinar and learn how to drive revenue with Facebook marketing. Tune in 8/10 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Register Now »

As of Q1 of 2016, there were close to 2 BILLION active Facebook users worldwide.  That number is certainly higher now.  The local population around your business comprises a part of those 2 billion users.  That said, if you aren’t utilizing Facebook to reach customers and grow your business, you are leaving money on the table. With this in mind, if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur who is still on the fence when it comes to social media marketing, you need to IMMEDIATELY start building/improving your online brand through Facebook.  After all, it’s where your customers and potential customers are hanging out every day.

The 5 tips below should help any small business owner or entrepreneur begin growing the business via Facebook.

communityEstablish a Community

If you’ve dabbled at all in online marketing for your business, you may have heard of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.  With PPC, you run an ad (typically Google AdWords) and pay only when someone clicks on your ad.  Most businesses use this strategy to drive traffic to the business website.  Although this strategy works, it’s often limited by the “quick-hit” nature of it:

Consumer Clicks Ad  ->  Consumer Lands on Your Website  ->  Consumer Leaves

The only way to repeatedly reach the consumer in the example above is to hope he sees, and clicks on, your ad again (which, by the way, will cost you money each time he clicks your ad).

By building a Facebook community around your business’ Facebook page, you will have cultivated a pool of interested consumers (whom trust you) that you can reach over and over again without needing to pay PPC fees over and over again.

I know it may be tempting to shoot for the instant gratification of PPC but, at the end of the day, building a community is, by far, the more effective strategy for driving traffic, building your brand, growing your business, and increasing profits while keeping advertising costs lower.

Communicate Consistently

communicateHumans are creatures of habit – we don’t like change or inconsistency.  We expect some semblance of routine.  When utilizing Facebook to reach your customers and grow your brand, you need to make sure that you stick to a schedule.  You’ll want to post content to your Facebook page at least a few times per week – preferably, once or twice per day.

Facebook rewards businesses who post engaging content regularly with increased reach – which results in more exposure for your business – which results in increased profits.  As such, you need to make sure you stick to a regular schedule when posting.  Avoid posting twice a day for a week, then once every three days, then back to posting 3 times a day for a month.  Consistency will win the day.

do-not-sellDo Not Sell

Social media users, especially Facebook users, are generally not in “buy mode”.  They are on Facebook to interact with friends and family and, increasingly, to get news and recommendations when they need a product or service.  They are not there to BUY something.  However, this is not necessarily a roadblock.

Instead of “selling” to people on Facebook, offer them free value – in the form of information.  For example, if you run a plumbing business, you might provide your Facebook fans with DIY plumbing tips (how to fix a leaky faucet, how to install a shower head, etc.).  By providing your fans with this type of value, they will think of you when they need more advanced plumbing services.

When you provide information that helps your fans without being “salesy”, you establish trust.  When people trust you, they will buy from you and they will recommend you to others – often in a viral manner through the power of Facebook.  Save the “hard sell” for your website, which your users will find when they read your helpful tips that you shared on your Facebook page.

Be Engaging

engageAs I mentioned earlier, Facebook rewards engaging content with more reach and more traffic.  Simply stated, the more people who like, share, and comment on your Facebook posts, the more people Facebook will show that content to.  Taking advantage of Facebook’s algorithms is critical to growing your business while reducing costs.

When posting content to your business’ Facebook page, you need to be sure that it’s content that your fans will appreciate.  You also need to be sure that your content is diverse – nobody wants to read walls of text.  Breaking up your content into videos, articles, images, links, etc. will ensure that you are posting “something for everyone”.  This will drive engagement – which will be rewarded by Facebook with increased reach – which will drive more engagement.  See how this works?

I should also mention that you need to regularly respond to messages and comments – that’s ultimately the definition of “engagement”.  Be sure to communicate with your fan base.

Click here for more on Engagement vs Reach.

growContinue Growing Your Fan Base

Maintain an ongoing Facebook “Like” campaign.  With a budget of as little as $50/month, you can continue growing your Facebook fan base, which is your pool of potential customers an evangelists (who will tell friends and family about their awesome experiences with your business).  As such, it stands to reason that the larger (and faster) you can grow this fan base, the better.

Resist the temptation to build an initial fan base using an initial “Like” campaign and then thinking “Well, that’s good enough” and turning your “Like” campaign off.  At $50/month, you cannot afford to NOT keep a regular “Like” campaign running.

Join me for a free, live webinar and learn how to drive revenue with Facebook marketing. Tune in 8/10 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Register Now »

Understanding the Buying Cycle: What You Need to Know

Understanding the Buying Cycle: What You Need to Know

 

buyingcyclenew

The buying cycle, also known as the marketing cycle or sales cycle, is the process that consumers and progress through when considering a purchase. Various steps have been assigned to this process.  However, the basic elements remain the same across most models. Understanding the pattern buyers go through is key to effective marketing, promotion, and earnings.

Awareness

The first step in most buying cycle depictions is awareness. It is at this point that a buyer recognizes that he/she needs something.  While most companies’ market research and promotions are geared to reach customers during this stage, affiliate marketers who run product review sites won’t often find folks in this stage to be of much benefit, especially when promoting a program like Amazon, which offers a short 24-hour cookie.  By the time people in this stage purchase something, they have often researched multiple options so an affiliate cookie set at this stage is often overwritten by an affiliate later on down the line when the person actually is ready to make a purchase.

While “review site” marketers may find this stage useless, webmasters who run email marketing campaigns and those who build out brands with a social media following may find this stage to be very beneficial as it allows them to make potential customers aware of their offerings and how they fit in with what the customer is looking for.

Consideration

The next stage in the buying cycle is typically “consideration”.  During this stage, the buyer determines which features and options are important to him.  A typical buyer might be comparing the features of different models of a product that he is interested in at this stage.  The ability to describe features and benefits of specific models that coincide with the customer’s needs is crucial during this time. Websites that offer product comparisons often target buyers who are in this stage.

Purchase

It’s crunch time!  The customer has settled on a specific product and is taking his wallet out.  He is looking for the best price and/or a trusted source to purchase from.  If you can capture buyers who are at this stage of the buying process, you can close sales with very high conversion rates.  Product review sites often attempt to intercept buyers at this stage, knowing a purchase is often imminent.

Marketers who also incorporate list building into their strategies also attempt to capture customer email addresses at this point in an effort to develop an ongoing relationship for future sales.  This is where “the money is in the list” comes from.

After-Sale

Although many buying cycle models include awareness, consideration and purchase stages, not all go beyond that.  However, the “after-sale” phase can be a lucrative phase to target – especially for those marketers who build email lists and those who build communities.

Ultimately, the opportunity that comes with the “after-sale” phase is one in which the marketer can often make repeat sales to the buyer since the marketer has already earned the buyer’s trust through the initial sale.

Facebook Marketing for Small Business Owners

Facebook Marketing for Small Business Owners

If a website lives on the internet, and nobody visits it, does it really exist?

Although the answer is “yes”, in reality, it might as well not.

Establishing a web presence is NOT “Field of Dreams”. It is not a case of “build it and they will come”. A professional web presence is only as good as the visitors that see it.  As such, you can’t afford to let your virtual real estate languish. You need to put in the work to get people to see it.

If your online presence isn’t producing sales or leads for your business, it’s time to start driving targeted web traffic to it.

Enter Facebook…

As a business owner, you invariably have skills or knowledge to offer potential customers. So, instead of using Facebook to “sell” to people, use it to offer your knowledge instead. By doing so, you establish trust with your potential customers. The trust that you establish will be what turns those “potential” customers into “actual” customers of yours.

A plumber, for example, may want to create a Facebook page and then run a “Like” campaign to build the audience for that page. Once the Facebook page has a few thousand fans, said plumber would then start publishing “helpful tips” on his/her website. Such tips might include stuff like “how to fix a leaky sink trap”. After posting those helpful tips on his/her website, the plumber would then share those website articles on the Facebook page, where those thousands of Facebook fans see it and click through to the website – where the plumber can then offer his/her products and services.

An added bonus of using Facebook to build relationships and drive traffic is that, when targeted properly, Facebook users will organically spread the word about your business by sharing your content. This exponential reach is powerful.

If you are a small business owner and haven’t looked into Facebook marketing yet, doing so should be on your “to-do list” for this week. Feel free to contact us to discuss the opportunities that Facebook can provide your business.

The Money

The Money "Is Not" in the List Anymore…

…or is it?

Recently published data seems to indicate that Facebook fan pages are quickly becoming a better vehicle with which to reach your prospects than the decades-old tradition of email marketing. At a minimum, they are becoming at least as viable as email marketing.

Is the money still "in the list"? The answer may, for the first time in a long time, be "no".

Facebook fan page reach often outperforms traditional email marketing open rates by as much as 38%. Post engagement often outperforms email marketing click-through rates, and negative feedback on Facebook posts are, on average, 1/7 of the number of email unsubscribes. Fan page engagement is also often more cost effective than maintaining an email list.

Based on the above statistics, it does, in fact, appear that social media may be poised to soon overtake traditional email marketing as the best strategy for engaging both current and potential customers / readers.

Understanding Facebook Engagement vs Reach

Understanding Facebook Engagement vs Reach

If you plan on using Facebook to drive traffic to your website (you ARE doing this, right?), you need to understand the relationship between Engagement and Reach because if you don’t, you may be one of the marketers whining on the forums about your piddling 2% reach and complaining about needing to used boosted posts to reach your audience.  Don’t be that guy (or girl).

Post Engagement

Engagement is a pretty broad term.  The engagement metric encompasses any interaction a person has with your posts.  Likes, shares, clicks, and comments are all common forms of engagement – and they are all important to a successful Facebook presence.  The more post engagement your Facebook content generates, the better – because it fosters a community and relationship with your fans.  Your goal should be to drive as much engagement as possible.

Facebook Reach

Reach is defined as the number of fans who see a given post on your Facebook page and it is measured as a percentage.  For example, a post that is seen by 100 of your 1000 fans is considered to have a reach of 10% (1000 divided by 100).  While some Facebook pages see a typical reach of 10%-20%, other experience a much, much higher reach.  Some see much, much lower reach (less than 4%).

Although Facebook has made changes to its algorithm to cut down on reach in general, many Facebook pages continue to thrive with outstanding reach.  Why is that?

The Relationship

Facebook wants to ensure that users are sharing useful and wanted content and they are willing to reward those who do so.  That reward is improved Reach.  As such, the relationship between Engagement and Reach is pretty straightforward – as Engagement improves, so does Reach.  It’s really that simple.

Because of the direct relationship between these two metrics, it is critical that the Facebook page owner continues to provide quality content that is interesting to his fan base.  Otherwise, reach will plummet and traffic will dry up.

Don’t Be Fake!

Now that you understand the relationship between engagement and reach, you should understand why fake likes are so detrimental to a Facebook page.  In case you still don’t get it, let me explain.

Let’s assume you go out and purchase 1000 fake likes from some Fiverr seller for your new fan page.  Since these likes are all fake, very few of the “fans” are going to interact with your fan page content at all, producing a terrible engagement metric for your page.  If you are lucky, you may get a handful of interactions (post likes, shares, etc) – let’s assume you get five.

Why would Facebook reward you with higher reach when your content clearly is unimportant to your “fans”?

Now, on the flip side, let’s assume, instead, that you’ve run a solid Facebook “Like” campaign and built up an following of 1000 REAL fans.  Since these fans are genuinely interested in your content, they are far more likely to interact with the content.  Instead of receiving 5 engagements, you may see 10x or 20x that amount.

As a result, Facebook will reward you with a much better reach when you post to your fan page.

So…  Before you start trying to drive traffic with Facebook, make sure you have a plan to build a REAL fan base and to provide quality content to that fan base.