All Posts by micahelgaard

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3 Pages You NEED on your Small Business Website! (Plus 2 Important Ones)

By micahelgaard

At Renaissance Digital Marketing we help small businesses create, design, and maintain their websites. These are the 3 + 2 pages that we make sure every small business we work with has.

1) A Killer Home Page

The home page of your website is the equivalent of your storefront or your offices.

It needs to be inviting to new guests.

It needs to provide trust indicators (cleanliness, good design, etc.)

It needs to answer the key question, how do you help people?

It needs to give a clear and low-risk next step. (a quote form, contact form, PDF download, etc.)

2) A Descriptive About/Services Page

Your about or services page is likely the first salesperson that your visitors will encounter and it needs to WOW them with some key information.

It needs to prioritize the benefits of your products or services.

It should be personable and as unstuffy as possible.

It needs to give customers a reason to contact you. (a no-obligation quote, a special offer, limited availability, etc.)

3) A Clear Contact Page

By now your potential customer considers you trustworthy (Home Page).

They also have a clear understanding of how you can help them and why they should contact you through your website (About/Services Page).

Now they’re ready to contact you from your contact page which needs to be clear about what information you need from them and how they should expect you to contact them in the future.

Create a custom contact form that asks for the information you need. (sizes, amounts, phone number, etc)

Include clear reasoning when necessary for why the information is required.

Tell the visitor how and when you’re going to contact them in response to their submission. (the sooner the better, like 5-15 minutes fast)

Have an automated confirmation email sent to them to let them know that their contact request was properly sent.

BONUS #1 – Pricing Page

This isn’t a page that makes sense for ever small business, but it can be incredibly powerful when implemented correctly.

Because a large number of visitors on your website are ‘price hunting’, adding a pricing bracket or starting prices when appropriate will help to weed out dud quotes and low-ball customers because they know what to expect from the start.

This page does require a VERY good about/service page to compliment it because visitors will now need to justify your pricing without engaging with you in person.

BONUS #2 – A Blog

This is a page that we recommend to every small business we work with, but it does take an increased level of dedication to be successful.

Blogs are really great at giving customers additional value and raising the level of trust that they have in your business before contacting you.

Blogs should answer common customer questions.

Blogs should be updated weekly (or monthly at the latest)

Blogs reassure customers (and search engines) that your business is active.

So there you have it!

3 Pages your small business website NEEDS to have!

Have a great day!

Should I start a business blog? Or Podcast? Or Video Series?

By micahelgaard

There has been a lot of talk and hype recently about businesses needing blogs, or podcasts, or video series on their website to help them rank higher in search results.

What do you even write about?

But how often should you write?

How can you tell if it’s working to drive business?

Is it worth the effort that it takes to start (and maintain) a blog, podcast, or video series?

The short answer, YES!

The long answer, it depends (Not the adult diapers)


To simplify from here on, we’re going to talk specifically about blogs, but the same principles apply to podcasts, video series, or any other regular content syndication that you produce as a business (including writing columns in journals and magazines)


What should you write about?

This is one of the biggest roadblocks that business owners seem to come across. Especially if you aren’t a writer.

But it’s actually a lot simpler than you’d expect you just need to understand the 2 primary ways that blogs help businesses

Blogs help businesses in 2 primary ways

  1. They help to show Google and Bing that your website is still current and active which improves how often it shows up in search results. (This also applies to journals and magazines, people see you’re active when you write)
  2. They answer potential customers’ questions and provide them with intangible value so it’s easier to compete.

Now, what should you write about?

You should write about questions that your customers might have, such as Should I start a business blog?

If you’re a landscaping company, write about when you should start a project, how to care for sod, why you would choose composite materials, etc.

If you’re a Chiropractor you could write articles detailing different stretching regimens to help with headaches, back pain, etc.

If you’re a retail store you could write articles about your favourite uses for a product or the best products for certain occasions.

One of the services that we offer at Renaissance is our attention-grabbing videos which help business owners find one new topic to cover every week. Then we turn it into a video, blog post, or podcast episode for them.

How often should I write?

This is dependant on a number of criteria and you’ll really have to make a decision based on what you’re comfortable committing to. Because the most important thing is consistency in how frequently you update your content.

The most important thing is consistency.

We recommend once a week as the ideal.

It shouldn’t take you more than an hour or 2 every week to put something together but it adds up over time.

If that seems a little bit too ambitious then try putting together multiple articles every month and releasing them all at once on your blog.

The main thing is that you want to keep showing your customers that you’re active and interested in helping them find answers to their problems.

How do I know if my blog is supporting my business?

This is a question that is inherently more difficult to know the answer to.

With businesses that get a high number of website visitors every month, it is fairly easy and cost-effective to follow the flow of website visitors through different blog posts and see if they later fill out a contact form.

But it’s harder to see those trends on less-visited websites.

Our favourite method of seeing if your blog (or any other content stream) is supporting your business is to survey customers and ask them if they engaged with your blog.

If you share your blog posts to social media you can also watch the statistics that are available there (likes, shares, clicks, etc.) to help gauge the value of your blog.

No matter which method you choose to use however, it will take time to start to see the results trickle in. But we can promise you that it is worth it.

3 Digital Advertising Mistakes (and How to Fix Them!)

By micahelgaard

I once accidentally shot a rocket engine at my face because I thought it hadn’t ignited yet.. It had… and now I know better.

You see, that’s the whole point of making mistakes. Learning from them so that now you can say, “I know better”.

Running advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube isn’t any different. It’s just that in the world of advertising, it seems more like a chore. And when it feels like a chore, you aren’t as aware of some of the mistakes that you might be making, much less figuring out how to fix them.

#1 – Asking for a phone call from the ad

Most businesses that are running ads on Facebook have spent years in business getting leads over the phone. Someone would see their ad in the paper, on the radio, or on TV and they’d be asked to call the business.

With digital advertising it’s a little different though.

With digital advertising, everyone has been trained to click the button on the ad if they’re interested.

When you ask someone to stop watching their video on YouTube, or stop looking at what their friends are eating for supper and give you a phone call. That’s A LOT to ask of someone.

Phoning a stranger is a difficult thing for most Millennials to do. That difficult is then made even greater by asking them to do it while they’re in the middle of another task.

How do I fix it?

Instead of making the goal of the ad to phone you, make the goal to have them fill out a form with their questions so you can call or email them back.

Setting up a form with your ad can actually be done from right inside Facebook using a lead form, or through a simple landing page software (a list of good options is attached to mistake #2 below).

The easiest option though is to just link to the contact page on your website. They fill it out. You follow up later.

#2 – Not having a dedicated landing page

This is another incredibly common mistake that I see businesses making with their digital advertising.

Similarly to mistake #1, this mistake creates a disjointed experience for the user after they click on your ad.

Say your ad is promoting a free quote for a new deck.

Someone clicks on your ad to find themselves on a generic contact form page.

What are they supposed to do now? They were told they’d get a free quote, but this doesn’t look like a quote form. Do they fill it out anyway?

Now, imagine that same use lands on a dedicated page, specifically designed for giving out quotes.

They’ll know exactly what to do, what information they need to supply, and how they’ll be contact with their quote.

How do I fix it?

There are 2 easy ways to fix this and create dedicated landing pages for your ads.

  1. Contact your web developer and tell them what you need.
  2. Use a ‘landing page’ creator to make a page yourself.

Obviously both options have merits.

Option 1 creates a page that fits seamlessly into your website and can have all the functionality that you need, but it’ll be expensive.

Option 2 will require a little elbow grease but will likely be significantly cheaper.

If you do decide to go with option 2, here’s a short list of great free and paid landing page builders.

#3 – Using the default messenger button

The third thing that I see quite often on small business ads on Facebook is them using the ‘Send Message’ button on their ads when the goal of their ads is to have people go to their website.

Again, this is a cause for customer confusion.

They’re being asked to go to a website, but the button is asking them to send a message.

How to fix it.

This is probably the easiest fix. In the ad creation settings, just make sure you pick a different button type.

Using a ‘Learn More’ button is the most common option, but there is a number to choose from that might better fit the goal of your ad.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all and are ready to leave your digital advertising in someone else’s hands or just want a second opinion on what you’re doing. You can schedule a Discovery Call with me.

4 FREE tools to help your business light it up on social media

By micahelgaard

First off, let me just say that I use all four of these tools almost every week. They are AWESOME!

Now, with that exclamation out of the way, let’s dive in!

Social Media takes a lot of work. You have to create and source content, make it look pretty, and do that every day, every few days, or every week depending on how frequently you post.

That’s a lot of work and it can feel really overwhelming when you need to post something, but you don’t have any ideas!

That’s where these 4 tools come in.

Each one fills a slightly different role, with some overlap, but they’re each designed to make managing social media easier, less time consuming, and more streamlined.

Doesn’t that sound like the dream?

It’s worth mentioning that fancy tools won’t magically make your business a social success. But they certainly help to make the journey less frustrating and time intensive.

So, let’s break down what these 4 tools are!

Buffer

Buffer is a social media post-scheduling software that works on your computer, tablet, and smart phone.

What is a social media post-scheduling software? (I know it’s a bulky title).

Not only does Buffer let you post to multiple networks from one place, it also lets you schedule those posts in advance.

SMPSS (there I shortened it) is a software that lets you post to multiple social platforms from one place. No more switching from Instagram to Facebook to Pinterest to LinkedIn. Post to all of them from one place: Buffer.com

Now you can schedule your whole week, or month’s worth of social posts at once and not have to worry about it.

How great does that sound?

As I’m writing this the free Buffer plan allows you to connect three different social accounts, for example Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and schedule up to 10 posts.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is another SMPSS (social media post scheduling software, just in case you forgot). It shares a lot in common with Buffer, but it adds on a few extra features that expand its usefulness.

While Buffer specializes in posting, with a sleek interface and an easy to understand interface, Hootsuite has further functionality that lets you watch you social feeds, and the posts and comments you and your followers are making.

Not only do you get to watch your feeds, but you get to comment, like, and reply to the content that’s there, right from inside Hootsuite.

That functionality does vary slightly between different social networks and what they let a third party system like Hootsuite have control of.

Hootsuite also has an array of various apps and extensions that you can add to your account to gain access to additional features that aren’t including in Hootsuite itself.

At the time I’m writing this, Hootsuite also allows you to use three social accounts on the free plan. It then allows your to schedule up to 30 posts at a time.

Pablo by Buffer

So now that you can schedule your posts in advance and clear up your plate, you have more time to make great content to post on social media.

That’s where Pablo comes in.

Pablo is a bare-bones photo editor whose main focus is to add text overlays, like quotes or questions, on top of your pictures.

Once you login to Pablo you’ll have access to thousands of free photos to edit, or you can upload your own.

You can pick photo filters, add text, overlay your logo, and pick a size based on your social network. Then download it to post, or schedule it right then using Buffer.

It’s a simple way to level up your business’s social media posts.

Canva

Canva is another photo and graphic editing software that you can operate from your web browser. But it lets you do so much more than Pablo does.

Canva occupies a space somewhere between Pablo and Photoshop. It lets you add text, graphics, images, clip-art, shapes, and illustrations to your social posts.

And it doesn’t stop at social posts. Canva can also be used to design posters, brochures, slide shows; just about anything you can imagine!

Once you’re signed up and in Canva you’ll have the option to start from scratch; just pick the size you want (Facebook post, Instagram post, etc.) and start playing.

But Canva has a few tricks up its sleeves.

Canva includes hundreds of pre-designed templates for almost any type of project you can imagine! Just pick one you like and edit the colors, images, and fonts to your heart’s content!

We’ve used this technique dozens of times to help speed up the design process, especially when we don’t have a clear vision of what we want it to look like.

So there you have it!

4 FREE tools that you can use to light it up on social media!

2 SMPSS’s – Buffer and Hootsuite

2 Image Editors – Pablo and Canva

3 Reasons to use Digital Advertising for your Small Business

By micahelgaard

For a long time if you really wanted to get your message out there as a business you’d have to be willing to spend some big bucks to get into a newspaper, on the radio, or onto the television and that would cost you some serious dollars.

Not only is it incredibly expensive (costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars) but you have a hard time telling if the advertising was working.

Sure, big companies like Walmart and McDonalds can pay the big bucks for those kinds of advertisements, but everyone already knows what their business is. Those ads are just there to remind us that their business exists. It doesn’t have to tell us who they are every time. As a small business, you don’t have the luxury of spending money just to remind people that you exist. You aren’t like Walmart or Coca-Cola where people just have to be reminded that you exist for them to buy your products. You have to tell people, not only that you exist every single time you advertise, but also what you do and why that matters to them and that gets really expensive really fast with traditional advertising mediums.

To top it all off mediums like newspaper, radio, and television don’t have any way for you to segment your audience. So you’re just throwing your message out to whoever happens to be reading, listening, or watching and if you are a smaller business with a smaller market that’s not a good way to advertise.

If you sell a very specific product to people 25 to 34 and you write a TV ad, how many the viewers are actually 25 to 34? How many of those people are going to be interested in your product? That equates to thousands of dollars spent on a television commercial, them showing it to x number of people when only 10% of those people will be interested in your products or services.

This is one of the major reasons why digital advertising is such a great opportunity for small businesses. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to not even know if your advertising is working. You can spend $100, even $50, and still see results.

Anyway enough with the broad sweeping comments about digital advertising. We’re here to talk about three specific reasons that make digital advertising SOOOOOOO good for small businesses.

Number one – Digital advertising allows you to clearly track your results.

In other words, there’s no question as to whether investing that $1,000 into digital advertising helped your business. You’ll be able to see actual sales traced back to actual ad campaigns.

There are a couple of different ways that you can track things in the digital advertising world.

One is to place the Facebook and Google tracking codes/pixels on to your website. Then when somebody clicks on your ad and then fills out your contact form, makes a purchase, books an appointment those tracking codes tell Facebook and Google that the people who saw and clicked on your ads are the ones who filled out a form or purchased something.

The second way to track your results is to do something a coupon similar to what you get in the mail. You put out an advertisement, you give people a coupon, they come in they redeem it and you can track those sales back to your ad campaign and know how many sales came in as a result of spending x dollars.

Number two – Digital advertising allows you to test different copy on your ads relatively cheaply

With radio ads, you’d write the message, they’d put it on the air for $1,000 and you’d come out of it saying “that didn’t help grow my business at all”. Then you don’t know what the problem is. You don’t know why it didn’t work. Maybe your customers aren’t listening to the radio? Maybe your customers just aren’t listening to the radio during the time slots your ad was playing so you need to try a different set of time slots? Maybe the ad they were using on the radio wasn’t resonating with your customers? Maybe the call to action your ad wasn’t piquing people’s interest?

You’ll just never know unless you’re willing to drop another $1,000 and make some changes, and now that first $1,000 just feels like a waste.

With digital advertising, you’ll get that feedback after you spend $30-$100. You’ll know if it’s working and if it’s not working, you’ll have relevant data to know why it’s not working. Maybe the picture wasn’t resonating with people? Maybe the copy wasn’t grabbing their attention? Maybe the offer you’re making isn’t valuable enough for people to click on when they’re on Facebook or YouTube? Maybe the page they’re going to from the ad is taking too long to load. There are lots of different possibilities, but you’ll know if it’s not working early on and you’ll have metrics to help tell you what isn’t working.

You’ll see how many people saw your ad. How many people clicked on your ad. How many people clicked the link in your ad. How many people liked, commented, shared your ad. Then if you install the Facebook and Google ads pixels on your website, you’ll also be able to see if people from the ad fill out the form their supposed to, or if they purchase something on your website, or if they booked an appointment. That way there’s no guesswork involved in knowing if your advertising is helping your business grow.

Thirdly – Digital advertising allows you to advertise to specific people

You don’t have to settle for carpet bombing with radio and television. Instead, you get to create your own audiences that will have the greatest affinity with your business.

You can have an audience of everybody who lives in a certain city or everybody in Canada. You can have an audience of only people who are interested in automobiles and collecting things. That smaller audience of people will be much more likely to show interest in your business and then you won’t be ‘wasting’ your budget showing your ads to people who won’t be interested in your business which will help your budget go further.

Not only can you target people based on their age and location, their demographics, their interests, or what other things they’ve liked on Facebook. You can also target people based on what video they’re currently watching on YouTube, what category of videos they’re currently watching on YouTube.

We’ve all also had the experience of being ‘followed’ around the internet with ads for that fancy dog collar you were looking at on Amazon. Well, you can do that too! If you’ve installed the Facebook pixel and the Google ads pixel on your website then you can show ads to the people who were recently on your website to remind them about you and your business. Maybe when they were on your website they didn’t know about a special deal you have on, or maybe they were just getting into the car and couldn’t contact you yet. Now you get the opportunity to initiate another connection with them while you’re still fresh on their mind.

All this helps you narrow down your targeting even further which can greatly increase how far your budget can go.

Those are my three biggest reasons why digital advertising is such a great opportunity for small and local businesses. You’re not locked into spending a big chunk of cash. You’re not forced to keep running an ad that’s clearly not working. You’ll know exactly when your ad is working. You’ll be able to accurately target people who are more likely to be interested in your business.

So, if digital advertising sounds like something that might be a good fit for your business, you can schedule a discovery call with me just click here.

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