In last years final installment of filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, the villain Bane tells Bruce Wayne about the dark underground prison from which he came. He describes the prison as Hell and tells Bruce “There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth… Hope. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope.” So how does this factor into your eCommerce strategies?
Handling eCommerce Hopes and Expectations
Hope and expectations should be handled very carefully on your website. Pay close regard to eCommerce and how you present your product or service. Part of your web development and web design efforts should include careful scrutiny of your wording. As in the Batman example (I went for a movie reference rather than music this time), if you’re too sales-pitchy in your website verbiage you potentially create a problem due to elevated hope.
Here are some examples of eCommerce website copy I’ve seen lately that just makes me cringe because of the implications:
“Gain top performance across multiple engines and search patterns.”
“Increase revenue in every department.”
“Gain and take market share from competitors.”
The first quote (obviously from an SEO/Internet Marketing site) is cleverly worded as it doesn’t promise top ranking in the search engines. However it undeniably implies top ranking. Even though they don’t promise top ranking, the hope and expectation of it will create unrealistic expectations from the client. A better way of wording it would have been: “Improve your ranking and visibility online” or something to that effect.
The second quote is a mistake because of one main word: every. ”Every” is a word that is thrown around way, way too much and using it on your website can create major headaches…especially when you promise to increase revenue in every department. Yeah, I know they didn’t say “We promise to increase revenue in every department,” but it’s a very definite statement and it’s in writing. As far as your visitors, customers and clients are concerned, if it’s in writing it’s a promise.
And finally the third quote is a mistake because of the use of ”gain” and “take.” Obviously, any competitive businessperson wants to get their share of their particular market. Doing so involves some of their competitors losing market share to them. No problem with that. However, the way it’s used here creates a major sense of immediacy and urgency.
Immediacy, urgency, expectations and hope are good things when used properly. Adversely they create hell for business and vendor alike when misused. Just be careful with your verbiage and if you’re not 100% sure you can legitimately deliver it, don’t say it.
Anyone who knows me knows that Clutch is my favorite band forever and ever amen. Love the music, love the attitude and, loving words as I do, I love the incomparable wordsmithing of lead vocalist Neil Fallon. But there’s even more to it for me, and I think it’s an SEO lesson that any small business can benefit from.
Clutch is the ultimate DIY (do it yourself) band. On a couple of major labels in the 1990′s they were unable to find a mass audience in a time when grunge and one-hit wonders ruled the music scene and “alternative” was struggling to find an identity.
Something interesting happened, though.
In 1994, they released a self-titled album that became an underground classic and formed the basis of what is one of the most loyal fan bases in music. While they were no longer on a major label by 2002, they learned from the experience and made a smart move by hiring their major label A&R guy as their manager. Over the next 7 years they did three important things:
- Deliver top notch albums
- Introduce Clutch radio
- Use the Internet to communicate regularly with fans
- Tour consistently
Like any business, you have to deliver your very best and find an audience for it. In the case of Clutch, they found an audience (through major label exposure) for their brand of rock music. At a time when the Internet was still a fairly new concept, they created their website and fans could go there and hear Clutch music streaming 24/7. They regularly posted new news, tour info and bonus songs on their website and incorporated video to let fans in on the recording process. And finally, they took (and continue to take) their music to the people with regular touring
In 2007 they introduced their own record label, WeatherMaker music, where they release their albums. All of this culminated with their 2009 album Strange Cousins From The West becoming the first purely independently produced and released album to ever chart in the Top 40 of the Billboard Top 200 album chart.
So how does this relate to your business’ SEO? Simple.
If you’re a local business trying to compete with larger, more well-known businesses for search engine ranking (and have a limited marketing budget), you have a tough task ahead. These businesses may have more money and more resources than you. As in the case of Clutch, this doesn’t mean you can’t compete given some smart decisions and good ol’ fashioned consistency:
- Take your web development and web design seriously: A truly good website isn’t cheap, but it’s a worthwhile expenditure. Get a free-standing independent website, not one of those cookie-cutter sites offered by online “website manufacturers.” Those sites always come with restrictions and are rarely up to the most recent Google standards.
- Take your SEO seriously: What good is a nice website if no one can find it? You may not have the money for a full-blown SEO campaign, but you can at least make sure your titles and descriptions are keyword-rich and Google compliant. And no keyword stuffing in your site’s content, please.
- Take your social media seriously: As in the Clutch example, use social media properly and be consistent. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and industry-specific forums are all there for you to use. Regular communication with your audience builds brand loyalty and allows you to connect directly with your audience. No sales pitches, please.
- Google Places: While I mention Google Places in the next tip, it deserves mention here on its own because it’s so readily overlooked. Most businesses assume they’re on there, when in fact all they have is an auto-generated listing based on the information Google already has. Since most businesses aren’t thorough with this information, it’s usually sketchy at best. Fill out your Google Places listing with all pertinent information, videos, etc.
- Local search submissions: Google Places and Yahoo Local are two big ones, and your local newspaper (some TV stations, too) usually has a place online for business listings with links to your website.
An excellent product and/or service. Excellent presentation online. Reaching out to your audience…consistently. Clutch continues to find success with this work ethic in the world of music. You can make a success with it in the world of your business.
Some of you may think I’m crazy for saying this, but damn if it isn’t sometimes true in the Internet world of getting your website found, seen and revisited.
It all depends on how you accumulate your numbers.
Please, oh please…for the sake of the children…ignore ALL of those pitches you get about attracting thousands of Twitter, etc. followers virtually overnight. Artificially building your online audience will lead you to a false sense of everybody caring about your business and your website when in fact only a small percentage does. When you build your audience artificially, there truly is weakness in numbers.
As much as you don’t want to hear it, building your audience properly takes time and effort. It cannot and will not happen overnight for 99% of businesses out there. We have to allow for 1% as entities like CNN, ESPN etc. had audiences waiting for them when they entered the Internet and social media realms.
In keeping with my esoteric music references, I’ll use three bands as examples of how to focus on your particular audience.
Maybe you’re like Obituary, the seminal Florida death metal band with the name to end all names. With a name like Obituary, you pretty much know what you’re in for. This ain’t the Osmonds. Extremely heavy music with angry troll vocals you either love or hate. In short, this band has a niche market…and they know it. Will they ever headline large arenas all over the world? No, because their appeal is too narrow as theirs is a decidedly niche market. Conversely, if they communicate with and serve their audience, they can tour clubs all around the world and make music for a living for a long time.
Maybe you’re like Clutch, the Baltimore-based purveyors of intelligent, witty music steeped very much in the classic rock groove of the 1970′s. With Neil Fallon’s backwoods preacher-esque vocal musings featuring liberal doses of literary references over a KFC-fried rock groove, Clutch’s appeal is more broad than Obituary’s while still not at the level of playing large arenas. Theirs is a niche market, albeit a wider niche. If they communicate with and serve their audience, they can tour larger clubs and theaters all over the world and make a living with music for a long time. And they’re doing it…in addition to a large cult following in the US, they’ve got a lot of fans down under in Australia and their 2009 album Strange Cousins From The West became the first self-produced and self-released album in history to crack the Billboard Top 40 Albums Chart.
Or maybe you’re like Rush, frequently referred to as the world’s largest “cult” band. In their case, their appeal was considered limited due to Geddy Lee’s impossibly high vocals and the band’s complex musical arrangements. However, through consistent touring, consistent album releases, consistent communication with their fan base and a knack for connecting with their fans through their lyrics (read: like website content), they found a large audience for their music. Larger than they probably could have ever dreamed…but it took work to reach their audience.
What do these three bands have in common? They consistently serve their audience and, therefore, have all been in existence for well over 20 years.
Look at your business and your product/service. Be honest with yourself…do you have wide or limited appeal? It could be that you’re a local business or have a truly niche product or service, which would would limit your true audience. It could be that you’re a regional business or have a product or service with more broad (though not necessarily mass) appeal. Or it could be that you have a product or service with mass appeal, which would make you a potentially national or international business.
Whatever the case, don’t use shortcuts to build your audience. Earn it. Build consistently by serving your audience with truly informative content on your website that’s easy to read and digest. Over time, you will see your audience grow to powerful numbers. Numbers don’t have to be huge to be powerful…they just have to be properly targeted numbers, and you have to serve your properly targeted audience:)
“I remember when
I remember when I lost my MIND.” – Gnarls Barkley
Those are the memorable words sung by Cee Lo Green on Gnarls Barkley’s massive hit “Crazy” in 2006, and it got us thinking about the work we do and how we want it to positively affect and benefit you. We don’t ever want you to feel like you’ve lost your MIND…we’re here for you and we have one special word for you…
No matter what web development and web design team you work with, always ask yourself this question: “Are they setting me up to be dependent upon them, or are they empowering me to be independent?”
The truth of the matter is that not everyone has the time to update their own website content. Not everyone has the time to write blog posts consistently week after week for top of mind awareness. Not everyone has the time to communicate consistently through their social media platforms and, therefore, naturally drive traffic to their website.
Not everyone has that time, but everyone should have that choice. Your development and design team should communicate with you every step of the way and set you up to be able to take care of your website yourself if you want to and have the time to. With content management platforms such as WordPress being so user friendly, there’s no reason you can’t be in the driver’s seat if you want to be.
We don’t normally wave our own flag with this, but many development and design teams focus on creating need and dependence, placing more importance on creating residual income than on empowering you. You may not have the time to do any of the content updating on your website or social media broadcasting, but the decision should always be left up to you. Our primary M.O. is empowerment…we want you to be in the driver’s seat when your website is finished if you want to be and if you don’t have the time, we will be glad to handle that aspect of service for you.
Ultimately, we want you to be independent and be able to do regular content/blog updates yourself.
“Does that make me crazy? Probably.” – Gnarls Barkley
Actually, we think it’s crazy to do it any other way.
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (Erasmus of Rotterdam) was a theologian, Catholic priest and teacher who first said the historic phrase “Clothes make the man” over 450 years ago. With that in MIND, start 2013 by undressing your website with your eyes.
We see it every day and many of us are guilty of it…you form your first opinion of someone by how they’re dressed. This is how people will judge your website every time they visit, so take a look at your website wardrobe and ask yourself these questions:
Do I look put together? Just like when you’re getting dressed to go out, you want to look deliberate and “put together.” Same goes for your website. Is there continuity? Do the sections of your page design look like they belong together or do they look like a hodgepodge?
Do I look current? Okay, personally I could give a rat’s ass about “this year’s fashion” or “last year’s fashion” when it comes to clothes, but there’s nothing quite so disappointing to a visitor than coming to your website and finding a site that doesn’t look fresh and current with the changing times and tastes. Look at the best looking site you know of and compare it to your own. A clean design that’s easy to navigate is a good start and brings us to our next question…
Do I look stylish? Having an easy-to-navigate clean design is first and foremost. It doesn’t matter how good a site looks if it’s not usable. Once you’ve addressed the practicality issues, then it’s time to address colors, lines, graphics, fonts and the visual style of your site. What does it say about the personality of you and your brand? One of the most overlooked aspects of style is your choice of font on your site. Nothing screams “we don’t care” like using Times New Roman, and Helvetica is way too neutral. Choose a font with some flair…think of the font as the visual equivalent of your tone of voice when you speak.
Do I look frivolous? Style is great, but make sure your web development and web design team don’t go overboard. Too many graphics and graphics of the wrong kind can just make your site and, therefore, your business look frivilous. Always remember that your site should be set up with the consumer in mind first. If the first impression you give is of overkill, your visitors are only one click away from discovering your competitor.