Building an online presence for your business should be a no-brainer, because it brings so many pros and so little cons that there is no reason why you should still hesitate. However, if you are reading this post, you probably are, because going online actually requires a certain level of organisation and an adequate budget, and we know for many business owners, this is enough to think about it way more than twice. So, when it comes to start your business online, all the cons seem to weigh more than they actually do, and you start seeing them like an insurmountable obstacle. However, many of them are just false myths spread by word of mouth by those who tried to build a homemade online presence without succeeding, because they obviously lack in experience.
Let’s see what are the most common and debunk them.
1. It is an extra cost for my business
Totally wrong: it is not a cost, but an investment. Visitors can be converted into leads, and leads into sales. There are many ways that guarantee a return on your investment: for instance, you can open an e-commerce and sell your products, or you can make videos and sell online courses, and so on. It is really up to you. Simply taking care of your social media channels means creating some awareness around your brand, which soon turns into more people interested in what you do and how you can help them. All you have to do, is making this clear online: intercept your target’s problems, and propose a solution using your social media channels and your blog. In other words, make yourself what you are: a reference for your business.
Talking about target, on the internet there is enough technology to deliver your message only to people who could really be interested in what you offer, excluding all those who don’t, which allows you to save a lot of money. If you take a deep look at the costs, you may find out that advertising on the internet is cheaper than traditional media.
2. I can get bad reviews
Only if you deserve them! However, whether you like it or not, people will talk about your brand on the internet even if you are not present. Think about all those restaurants and hotels who don’t even have a website, but still get reviews on TripAdvisor. The only difference is that if you are not present online, you don’t know, but if you are there, you can reply to a bad review, acknowledge that something went wrong and propose a compensation, turning an angry customer into a happy (and returning) one.
Bad reviews are part of the game, but they happen, anyway. However, a good presence online can also trigger good ones.
3. Web marketing is ineffective
Really? If it was ineffective, how come marketing directors make £80,000 a year on average? As I said a couple of paragraph above, a digital strategy for your online presence can serve various purposes, from brand awareness to actual sales. Most of those who say web marketing is ineffective, often have only tried to advertise their business on Facebook with 20 quids or less. In other cases, they just use the wrong tools, like those who turn their personal Facebook profile in an online shop window. Social networks are meant to socialise with people, not to sell goods!
If you contact a digital strategy specialist, they will help you choose the right platforms and tools for your business and you will finally see some results in terms of revenues.
4. It is time-consuming
This is partly true: managing your online presence involves monitoring and adjusting many things on a lot of different platforms, from social media to SEO. There are many irons in the fire, and you have to keep an eye on everything.
I am pretty sure there is plenty of local digital agencies in your area who can help you with everything that involves your online presence. If they manage your social media channels, your blog, your website, your funnels, and your advertising, what are you worrying about? All you have to do is taking care of your company.
5. I don’t need it
This feels so wrong! Almost every business has got a website, including some of your competitors, who are probably already generating revenues and getting more customers. It is not about keeping up with the Joneses, but it is a real fact: while you are still deciding, your competitors might be gathering new customers and taking a big advantage on you. If you think your business is successful just because you can still take a good income home, it is just because you did not realise it could be even better, if you launched your business online.
Before buying anything, customers look for information, and the place where they do so is the internet, so you need to have a website where you can supply all the necessary information. Also, offering support and answering questions on social networks, gives more value to your products, and people will feel more confident when making a purchase.
So, you didn’t want to build an online presence for your business because it costs a lot, but it is actually cheaper than traditional media. Have a look at our Popup program. Also, you were scared of bad reviews, but then you realised they could come anytime, even though you are not online, and then you said it is ineffective and time-consuming, but all you need to make it work is a team of professionals, and now you know you need it, because your competitors are already online.
Don’t think about the cost of having a digital strategy, think about the cost of not having one.
Being visible online is critical: it makes no sense building a good website if nobody finds you, because you are obviously investing money and building a reputation for your brand for one reason: get a return on your investment. What is the best way to get visibility online? Well, many people argue on this: social networks? Google? According to our experience as an SEO agency in Birmingham, we think there is nothing to argue: you need both, but SEO seems to have more benefits than social media, even though the latter tends to steal the limelight to the former. In our city, we work a lot with small local businesses, whose owners often struggle with SEO, and it is not difficult to understand why: local SERPs can be highly competitive, because everyone wants to get to the top, and this is true for everyone, including us: we know we are not the only SEO agency in Birmingham, so we don’t make a drama if sometimes we are up and sometimes we go down, but of course we do take action, and this is also the reason why you should hire an SEO company like Wiredmark. 😉
However, if you just launched your local business online, and you have a tight budget at your disposal, there is still something you can do: we want to suggest you three necessary (but not sufficient) things you should do to improve your SEO.
1. Register on Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a bundle of webmaster tools that put you and your website in communication with Google. You need to have a Google account for this, but it is worth (and free), as you need to qualify as the website owner. Once you do that, Google crawlers will start scanning your website, and if they find anything wrong or that does not comply with Google’s terms and conditions, a report will appear in the appropriate section, so you have the chance to correct those errors and improve the way Google sees your website.
Moreover, you can connect your Google Search Console property with Google Analytics and get accurate statistics about organic and paid traffic from Google.
You can do the same thing on Bing with Bing Webmaster Tools, which is basically a clone of Google Search Console, but works for Microsoft’s search engine.
2. Register on Google My Business
If I should list all the Google apps, a working day wouldn’t be enough, so it is not surprising that many of them are still unknown to the mass. However, some of them are very useful.
Google My Business is one of them. Have you ever wondered why some local businesses appear in a box at the top of the sidebar of the SERP, with pictures, a map, and even opening hours? Simple: they are on Google My Business.
You can open a Google My Business page for your own business or claim it if it already exists. Make sure you input the correct information, especially your address and phone number, because you will receive a letter or a phone call to verify your business exists and you are authorised to claim it. Once you have full power on your Google My Business page, you can change the information and upload your company logo and some pictures of your workplace, and even write some posts, just like you would do on Facebook or Twitter, and users will be able to leave a review.
Correct information and good reviews will give you an immeasurable advantage on your local competitors, and even though you have a very low position in the SERP, you may appear on top if your company is relevant to someone who is geolocalised near you.
3. Think like your ideal customer
Imagine you are your own customer: what would you type on Google if you needed something your business can provide?
Basically, you have to examine the most common problems your typical customer may have and how you could solve them. Now, if your analysis is correct, you will input on Google the same queries your target would, thus you can see how your competitors work when they receive that kind of request. Now, just see what works for them and make it better on your own website, optimising your pages for those very keywords.
Of course, this is very basic and an SEO expert would do it with more professional and accurate tools, perhaps with better results, but you can still do it with no cost at all.
What results can I get?
There is no guarantee you will get consistent results (guaranteed SEO doesn’t exist), but we recommend to follow these suggestions, as they represent the basics of every good SEO campaign and are vital for a local business. Besides, these are the first operations a good SEO agency would do.
Making a modern and professional website is the goal of any designer and it should also be the trait of every business approaching the web. We are a web agency, so we make website design in Birmingham everyday, and we know nowadays it is very easy to create your own websites in less than one day, thanks to the many tools available online like Wix, Shopify, and other drag & drop composers. It is a cheap solution that many local businesses adopt when they can only dedicate a tight budget to online communication. We often say the potential the web can offer is underestimated and if you allocate a low budget, well, you should raise it. However, although it is the ideal course of action to take, it is not always materially possible to do so.
However, these cheap website design platforms can do more harm than good, if used improperly and without any skills or knowledge of how the web works. Let me be clear: it’s not that it is your fault if you want to save money, especially if you are a small local business, we know a website design in Birmingham can be quite expensive, what we say is that if you want to make your own website, you should at least make it look professional.
At this point, a new question arises: what makes a website professional? We identified ten elements that make the difference. Let’s see all of them.
1. Define your goal
Before even putting the figurative pen to paper, you need to plan your website design according to the goals you want to achieve. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. and measure your ROI based on those goals: increase in online sales? Brand awareness? Whatever is your intent, make sure your website reflects it.
2. Define your target
Your business is not for everyone. Unless you are a nationwide supermarket chain like Tesco or Sainsbury’s, and even in that case, there may be some people who are not interested in your offer. However, it is exactly for this reason that you have to pick your target carefully, because it will help you optimise not only marketing and advertising expenses, but also the UX design.
I’ll give you an example: we want to attract customers who are looking for their website design in Birmingham, therefore, we have to study their characteristics: we know most of them are older than 25, and if they own a local business they struggle with fixed costs and taxes, so they are looking for a simple but cheap solution. This consideration is suggesting me to create a website with a simple plain layout, easy to understand, and a copy that highlights how much money they could save.
3. Optimise it for mobile
Responsiveness is very important: nowadays, we all surf on the internet using our smartphones, so many people prefer doing things on their mobile devices, rather than their desktop computers.
Obviously, the screen of a computer and the display of a smartphone have a different resolution, and the way you view the elements on page changes radically, so make sure the website design you are making is correctly viewed both on mobile and desktop.
4. Insert your logo
Have you got a company logo? Show it proudly on your website! Create an identity, make yourself recognisable both online and offline, so that when people see your logo online they recall it to the place in the city they recently visited or to the business card you gave them, and when people see your logo offline it reminds them of that stunning website they found on Google.
5. Choose your colours
What are the main colours of your logo? Take note of them, because you should be coherent with your choice in every part of the website. This is the most important element that will give your website a professional look, so avoid the rainbow effect. Unless your website is about LGBTQ+. Also, in doing this, keep into account the marketing colour psychology and the effects colours have on people, and relate this choice to your target.
6. Do not forget the trends
I know what you are thinking: how can I respect my colours choice and my style if I also have to follow the trends of the moment.
You can, because the trends don’t necessarily involve colours. What I mean for trends is something else: can you remember all those flash scripts on the websites in the ’90s? Well, in 2018 they are outdated. And ridiculous. And what happened to the round button style of Web 2.0 of 20001-2010? Well, this is already a new era.
The thing is: the web runs fast, and what is considered nice today, might be considered awful tomorrow. Does this mean you will have to periodically reconsider the structure and style of your website? Yes, it does.
7. Keep an eye on copywriting
Websites contain information, and this information should be clearly presented to visitors, because those information play an important role: they persuade your visitors to accomplish an action on your website, which might be the one you had in mind or… the opposite!
Make sure not only the copy of your website is persuasive, but that it is also presented in the correct manner. Basically, creativity is nice, but yellow text on white background just sucks.
8. Pay attention to the navigation menu
Navigation menu is like a map in a maze for your visitors: you may have no idea of how complicated is surfing on a website with many pages, but if there is an organised and clean menu, it will be easier for them to find what they are looking for.
Make your navigation menu simple to understand with a few main options and well organised drop down menus.
9. Make everything simple
The user experience is another important key-point of your website, so take care its usability. Giving more attention to website’s usability means caring about their journey through your website. Remove all the unnecessary, make the navigation smooth, and keep it essential: sometimes less is more, because when it is too much your website results either slow to load or too confusing, and in both cases your users go away.
When you’re finally done, it is not over yet: there is a phase of testing you cannot skip. A phase in which you check all the things that don’t work and fix them. Trust me, if you create a website design, there is always a broken link, a typo, or a distorted picture to fix. Testing is the best solution to correct all the mistakes.
Your website design in Birmingham
As you can see, creating a website is not exactly the job of an afternoon, and various skills are involved. Should you need any help or consultancy, remember we are a web design agency in Birmingham, so feel free to ask any enquiry for your projects.
Every business needs to communicate on digital media: traditional advertising is slowly dying, and people spend most of their time on the internet and social networks. Everybody knows a good brand reputation online is essential, so they hire professionals who take care of this aspect of their business for them. This is valid for both large and small local businesses.
We are a digital agency in Birmingham, so we do know how important it is for small businesses to have a trusted person to whom they can refer when it comes to digital marketing and communication. We also know that there is a fundamental difference between national and local businesses: while the former can usually count on a consistent budget, the latter must be more careful in investing their money, so they need to maximise the results, and cannot afford to hire the wrong person.
For this reason, if your business is based in this city, we want to give you a brief list of questions you should ask to a representative of a digital agency in Birmingham when they come to your door.
1. Can you improve the SEO of my website?
Altough guaranteed SEO is not possible, there is always something to improve. The first thing a good Search Engine Optimisation company would do is proposing you an SEO audit to do a deep analysis and give you a complete report of all the issues encountered. Without a clear assessment of the situation, their actions will be haphazard and there will be no improvement.
Considering your target is people who live in the area, you will probably have a lot of competitors who also try to optimise their website to appear on the top of the SERP, so it is critical that, if you choose a digital agency in Birmingham, they also offer SEO services.
2. To whom should I refer for any issues?
I will give you our example, as we actually are a digital agency in Birmingham: at Wiredmark, we believe in a customer-oriented approach. We are not like many other IT professionals who treat their clients like strangers who speak a different language, but we put a lot of emphasis on transparent communication and getting things done exactly how they want.
A key-factor in a customer-oriented strategy is building a solid relationship between the client and the agency. If I approach a client for the first time, we will make sure this person always speaks to me first, because I am the one who knows their needs and their business best among my team, while my client will feel more comfortable if they always speak with the same person and not with a new guy every time.
3. What if I do not like something?
Sometimes you imagine something in a certain way and rely on the professionals you hired to make it happen exactly how you want it. However, each one of us can give a different interpretation to the instructions received, so sometimes happens that we create something very nice, but that does not meet client’s expectations.
This is the reason why we always offer a post-delivery support period on any project, so if you do not like something, it will be changed as you wish (unless it would damage your business) until you get exactly what you want.
Feedbacks, in fact, are another key-point of a customer-oriented approach. We are proud to implement it in Wiredmark.
4. How will you deal with content?
Unless you require a simple web development job, there will be some textual or visual content to deal with. As I said on our copywriting services page, content is king, and copywriters make kings. In case you want to improve your SEO optimisation or you just want to make your website or landing pages more persuasive, make sure this job is done by a professional copywriter, and if you are dealing with a digital agency in Birmingham, or wherever your business resides, try to meet this person physically, in order to give them a complete brief and an overview of your activity, so they have more information to craft good content.
5. Can I see your portfolio?
Did your digital agency work with other local businesses (it is not a minus or plus, it is just to check if they had successful cases in the same area as yours)? How did they do? Their portfolio will speak for them and tell you a lot about their attitude and the results they can achieve. No matter if they never worked on a project in the same business sector as yours, you only need to assess their skills.
What questions do you ask?
We only gave you a few advices, but we know you would like to ask tons of questions when you hire a team of professionals of a digital agency! What are your key-questions? Tell us in a comment!
Before being digital professionals, here at Wiredmark we are tech entusiasts. We love our job, we love connecting with other people, and we love working with people and businesses from all around the European land (and further). Last month, for example, we worked with clients from the UK, Italy, Romania, Switzerland and Hong Kong. However, we like to undertake a different approach when we deal with local businesses, because what we found is that many of them prefer to work remotely with web agencies located in other cities of the UK, so we always try to highlight the benefits for them of working with a web agency in Birmingham.
Now that we have a corporate blog, here is a dedicated post.
A web design agency in Birmingham knows the city
We live in Birmingham, we work in Birmingham, and we know the city very well. Of course, you may wonder: «why does it matter?». Let me explain it with a real example.
We recently had a client here in Birmingham who asked us to make a new advertising campaign for his business. Obviously, we asked him the address of his business location, and when we found out he was based in Birmingham just like us we immediately understood we could have a competitive advantage in helping him.
This is because, as you can imagine, we had been dealing with a considerable amount of businesses located in the same area and we knew exactly what were the most effective ways to promote him in the city. Needless to say, the campaign was a success, and the business attracted more local customers than expected.
Sure, a local business can get good results from any web design agency located elsewhere, but in our case, it maximised its results because we were a web design agency in Birmingham.
We can meet – not to underestimate!
We are a web design agency in Birmingham with a customer-oriented approach, which we express through transparent communication, inclusive behaviour, and attention to details. Even though we are not for unnecessary, repetitive meetings that only end up in wasting people’s time, whenever we have the chance we also love to meet our clients and talk about their projects without the complication of a phone call and, why not, with the pleasure of a coffee.
Furthermore, let’s face it: if you can meet someone in person, you are more likely to understand whether you can trust them or not. It surely saves time for both sides.
When there is the chance of meeting a client in person, the whole project benefits from it:
We can receive a more detailed brief, including information that would have been too complicated to exchange over the phone;
We can meet only once or twice, instead of calling each other dozens of times a day. Did you know that phone calls take up to 35% of our time at work?
We can do one or more brainstorming meetings together, getting ideas both from a technical approach and a professional one;
We can have recap meetings and discuss how the project is going and what will be the next steps. This is ideal when there is an ongoing professional relationship;
A phone call can be postponed, making the deadline of the project shift later and later. A meeting can be postponed as well, but it does not happen so often, does it?
We are confident that having the chance of meeting face-to-face will make our professional relationship stronger. Also, it means you can visit us at our headquarters, and we are pretty sure you will love it: we are a web design agency in Birmingham with an office in front of the canals!
All in all, why go local?
If you have a local business, rest assured that any web design agency in Birmingham will strive to achieve the maximum benefits from being able to meet time to time. Furthermore, they will be well aware of how companies deal with their presence online in the city, which means they could be the right choice to help you making the difference and getting a concrete advantage on your competitors.
We have been helping local businesses in Birmingham for quite a long time now, so if you need help with your online presence in the local area, feel free to get in touch with us anytime.