Photo and Video Tips

The statement “a picture is worth a thousand words” is one of those timeless phrases.

 

Photos

Take photos all year, and lots of them.

File them in an organized manner.

Just getting started with your business or a certain product?

Take photos anyway while in this stage. When you decide to build your website in January it’s going to be hard to run out and take a quick picture of those fabulous heirloom tomatoes you like to grow.

Tips:

  • You can always reduce the resolution of the photo, but you can’t increase it. Check the settings on your cell phone or camera. Take photos and look at their size and quality on a computer screen before assuming they will be useable for marketing. (Especially important if the images will ever be printed – say in a brochure or on signage.)
  • Consider your background. Yup, that smoothie looks awesome, but in the background I can see a stack of dirty dishes.
  • Take shots from different angles. If you are like me, you are an amateur photographer so it can be hard to judge lighting. By taking photos at different angles you will have more to choose from.
  • Talk to your graphic designer or web designer and get tips from them. Do they need wide landscape shots for that picture banner on your website, close-ups?, something farther away?
  • Pose it! Well it won’t work well with farm animals or butterflies but with people it’s a must. Pose people, have them turn and look at the camera and look happy!
  • Have them freeze at what they are doing to avoid blurry movements in the photo.
  • Watch for reflections in windows, mirrors, glass, stainless steel etc.
  • Take lots!

 

Videos

Videos are also getting easier.

Tips:

Keep them short – 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  The longer your video is, the longer it will take to load and the more likely someone will give up and exit it.  People are also busy and have short attention spans.

But you have too many exciting things to share? Create a series of short videos rather than a long 5-8 minute video.

If you want to get fancier include your branding in your video. For example, your logo always appears at the end with your website address. The bottom of the screen always shows the title of

the video.

Tip: Get a tripod.  Nothing drives me nuttier than shaky videos. They are relatively inexpensive (under $50).

**

This all said, just do it. It’s not going to be perfect. Try to do it as well as you can, but the most important thing is to take some photos or video and get them online.

Are you doing a good job of supporting your marketing staff?

Help your marketing staff succeedWhether you hire a contractor to assist a few hours a month or are able to assign a staff member to marketing, it’s important for them to succeed.  Their success is your success.

It’s in your best interest to support their efforts, and give them the tools they need to accomplish great things for your business.

Establish Timelines

As much as possible, map out project tasks and decide on timing and due dates.

Excel can be an excellent tool for making lists and then sorting and prioritizing tasks.  Other systems such as TeamWork may be helpful, or perhaps your existing software systems can be utilized.  Sometimes it may be something simple, like confirming expectations in an email.

The key is to put it in writing. Staff can then refer to this and it makes your expectations clear.

Make Time to Meet

Have regular meetings or “check in” sessions to make sure you’re on the same page and that everyone –including yourself understands where things are at, and where they are headed.

Not only do these meetings allow you to check the status of your team members, but it also helps to build rapport and flush out unasked questions your staff members may have.

Be prepared for meetings as much as possible.  This could be as simple as keeping a list of items you need to review.

Take time to re-confirm in a follow up email what the next steps are, and their respective deadlines.

Require Documentation (and Allow Adequate Time for Documentation)

Not only does this support the idea of consistent and continuous improvement, but it also aids in continuity.  It’s unlikely staff or contracted team members will be with you forever. Detailed notes and documentation means that when future team members come on board, they can easily figure out where the previous team members finished.

Electronic records should be well organized in folders.  On a regular basis ask staff to give you a ‘tour’ of the computer files so you can see how things are being saved and where they are being saved.  In addition to a general tour of files, think of 5-10 specific files and have the staff show you their exact location.

Paper records are also important especially when multiple staff share computers, some staff (or even yourself) have limited computer skills and/or computers are in locations that are not handy.  Binders are great at keeping key information organized and in order.

Don’t Expect Perfection

While perfection is a great dream to have, it’s better to keep your feet planted firmly in reality. Instead of perfection, expect continuous improvement from your team members.

This is especially true if your team members are responsible for a wide variety of tasks and/or their background is not in marketing.

Master Current Marketing Efforts before Moving Forward

It’s easy to get caught up in the “shiny new object syndrome” so common in the world of marketing.  Don’t let that happen to you OR your staff.

Keep staff focused on your current marketing efforts before you make additions or changes to what you’re doing.  For example, your staff may want to become involved in a variety of social media channels.  It’s likely better for them to concentrate on mastering one to two channels first.

Give Credit Where it’s Due

Recognize and appreciate their efforts.  Everyone learns from praise as well as criticism.

These are small things any business can do in order to help their staff members succeed in their marketing efforts. Since it’s your business they’re supporting, you want to make sure they have the tools, advice, and guidance to be their best.

 

Graphic Design on a Budget of Less than $200

Save Money Highway SignWorking with a graphic designer can take your marketing materials from looking like you struggled to pull them together yourself, to professional beacons of marketing for your business.

But I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend!

Duly noted.

However, there are some ways to give your materials a boost while spending less than $200.

Look for small projects that will have impact.

Start a list of bite sized marketing projects that you could use help with.  For example,

  • Enewsletter banner image
  • Newsletter Opt-In area on your website
  • Buttons for e-newsletters or website pages – such as “Click Here”, “Don’t Miss Out!”, “Free”, “Contact Us”
  • Handouts for an upcoming event
  • Facebook profile image
  • Twitter background

For example, one client paid an extra hour for their web developer to create an enewsletter banner that matched their new website.  It ties the website and enewsletter together really nicely.  Once we used the official colour scheme throughout the rest of the enewsletter it looks great.

Know Where to Look

The key is to find good talent for a fair price.

In this type of budget scenario it’s unlikely an established advertising agency is going to want your 2 hours of work.  Instead you are looking for someone who freelances full or part-time, may or may not be found via online sites, or a small business that is used to small graphic design projects like a print shop.

Referrals from business colleagues are also good.  If you see marketing that you like, call up that business – even if you don’t know them – and ask them who they use and how they found the rates.

When searching, look for someone who is somewhat established.  Ideally you want to find a graphic designer who can not only help you out this time, but again in the future.

Recently a client produced a t-shirt to promote one of their programs.  Having a graphic designer spend an hour coming up with 6 different designs was a complete home run.  The final t-shirt looks professional and has been well received.  In this case we worked with a local print shop found through a referral.

Be Specific in All Things

Provide specific instructions about what you want.

What items do you need?  Where will they go?  Provide details on what colours & fonts should be used.  When do you need them by?

Give examples – including the specific website address – of graphic images and web properties that resemble what you’re looking for. You can find stock images at several locations to help give artists ideas of what you have in mind, including Fotolia, Shutterstock, and IStockPhoto.

Don’t forget to be specific about timelines and your budget.  Specifically ask if they can do the job within these parameters.  Once there is an agreement, be sure to confirm it by email so it is documented.

In some instances, depending on the scope and scale of the project, the artist may deliver a counter offer, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Consider other options before going beyond your original budget.  If the designer is exceptionally talented, let them know you’ll keep them in mind for bigger projects in the future.

Recognize the Risks**

Anytime you try to match expectations to a small budget it’s a bit of a gamble.  Recognize that on a low budget, you may not get amazing design work.

Being on a tight budget, you’re aiming for good design, not the best design. This is why it is so important to outline your expectations and provide specific information and examples beforehand.

This is also going to work a lot better if you already have a logo and defined colours, fonts and look for your business.

Insist on Original File Copies

You will need at least 2 versions of the artwork files.

One will be a jpg or pdf version of the file that you should be able to open and use in a variety of ways.

The other version you want is the original artwork file which you will be unable to view unless you have invested in design software.  These are more likely to have an .ai or .eps extension.  You want these files so that in the future if you use a different designer they can access these files.

Working with a graphic designer can really add a bit of pop and sizzle to your marketing materials.  Getting help to brush up on specific areas, will help you maintain your marketing appeal.  Just remember, that every few years you will need to invest in bigger projects like branding updates and your website.

 

This advice can be applied to big projects like a logo or website – but for larger projects like these the costs will definitely be higher.

You may also want to check out these blogs…

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Website Developer!

Tips to Help You Get the Website You Need

 

4 Ways Marketing is like Monarchs

Monarch butterflies are beautiful creatures that go through a lot during their life from a tiny egg to graceful butterfly. Building a successful base of marketing for your business is also a journey. Here are a some of the similarities between these journeys.

1 – The Beginning is Especially ChallengingMonarch butterfly

The female monarch butterfly lays up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. These eggs face intense and immediate danger. So much danger, as a matter of fact, that only one of about every 20 will survive into adulthood.

Promoting your business is also especially difficult in the beginning. You may have little experience with marketing or feel uncomfortable doing it. There are such big demands on your time, marketing may fall to the wayside. You may be tempted to buy into expensive ad purchases.

Recognize that successful marketing campaigns don’t happen overnight. Many established businesses have a long string of failures under their belt.

The key to great marketing is to make the best decisions possible, make sure your efforts see the light of day, review what you are doing, and make continual improvements.

2 – Sometimes You Discover Unexpected BenefitsMilkweed Bug

When I first established a patch of milkweed in my backyard, I did it purely to help monarch butterflies. But as I searched for eggs on the plants, I found a wide range of other creatures hanging around as well – including spiders, snails, ants, earwigs and milkweed bugs.

As I’ve met people and told them about my milkweed I’ve learned this is no simple plant. The silk attached to the seeds is prized for its hypoallergenic qualities. And although the plant is generally toxic, some parts are edible at very specific times. (I haven’t been brave enough to try eating it yet!)

Marketing often leads to ‘aha’ moments in other areas of your business as well including customer service, product distribution, staff management, office systems and more.

As your marketing develops you should see individual marketing efforts working together to build an overall strong plan. In fact you should plan your marketing to do this! For example, your enewsletter should drive traffic to your blog, your website should have easy to find social media buttons so visitors can find you on Facebook, etc.

3 – Momentum May Take a Little Time

Before they become beautiful, majestic monarch butterflies, each was once a caterpillar. In the beginning these caterpillars are very small and quite inconspicuous. Once they get growing they develop voracious appetites and grow quite large in a short period of time.  In fact, the typical monarch increases in mass by 2,000 times while it’s a caterpillar. And that is in under 2 weeks!

Marketing works much the same way. It takes a lot of effort especially in the beginning to build momentum within your marketing. Absolutely you need to use a variety of marketing methods to gain traction, but don’t stretch yourself across too many initiatives. Pick a handful of efforts and be as consistent as possible with them.  (However, it will take more than 2 weeks to be successful…)

4 – Challenges After Initial Success

Once a monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, it still faces significant challenges. It must find food sources, avoid pesticides, dodge predators, combat air pollution, navigate traffic, survive weather extremes, and much more.

It’s similar in business. Even once you have established your marketing efforts, you will still face challenges. While you can certainly relax a little, this is not the time to sit back and do nothing. It is the perfect time to identify what works well and increase support of these efforts.

Just as there is a lot of effort for monarchs to become the beautiful butterflies you know and love, it is the same for marketing.

 

Menu, Funnel or Something More Earthy?

Menu, Funnel or Something More Earthy?
3 Ways to Think About Customer Development

To be successful, you not only need to attract customers but you need to have customers who grow with you.  Here are three ways to think about customer development.

Menu ImageMenu

A restaurant menu provides choices in categories such as appetizers, entrees and desserts.  Perhaps there are additional categories such as sandwiches, lunch specials, kids options and/or a drink menu.

Think about applying this concept to your products or services.

What is the main item – or entrée item that you want customers to purchase?  Is it your selection of organic beef cuts?  If you provide a service, is it a package of 5 consultations?

What are the other items that you would like individuals to buy with those main products?  Are your appetizers and desserts a dozen organic eggs, or a recipe book?

One of the best aspects of the menu concept is that it forces you to think in categories.  Another benefit is that it helps you recognize what you want customers to focus on (ie. the entré
e).  Thirdly you can recognize which items are still important but are an ‘add on’ to the main entrée.

Marketing Funnel ImageFunnel

Many marketers promote the concept of a marketing funnel or customer funnel.  At the top is a wide opening where you attract large numbers of followers and new customers to your business.  Because customers have to spend more money and/or have greater involvement as they move through the funnel, there are not as many customers at these higher levels.

The key is to think about how your products or services encourage customers to move through the funnel.

For example, if you focus only on lower priced options, you are not providing an opportunity for that customer to spend more money with you.  If you offer a one hour session for $97, then the next step is a 6 month package for $2,997 – that is a big leap for customers.

What I like about funnels is the idea of customer progression.  It encourages you to think about how your customers will grow with you.  Product and service gaps become quite clear.

Something More Earthy

Maybe a menu or funnel is not for you.  Well what about a pathway, or a river system, or a plant guild?Two pathways...

Perhaps you think of your customers following a pathway through the forest with you.  Or perhaps they are like water droplets running together to form strong rivers.  Perhaps you can apply the concept of a plant guild with the importance of diversity and interdependence.

How could you apply this more earthy system to customer development?  Let’s take the pathway example.  Perhaps as customers move along the pathway their knowledge increases at various stops.  These stops could be equivalent to different services that you offer.  As customers grow with you they venture further into the woods on your pathway.

If using an ‘alternative’ concept like a pathway makes you feel comfortable with the concept of marketing and developing your customers – great.

Just be sure to work in the concept of development.  How will customers grow within this system?  How will this system be strengthened over time?

Don’t forget revenue!  You do need to make money so that your business can continue.  Within your system note where your products or services fit, how much revenue they will generate, and how many customers they will appeal to.

Next step

Pick a concept and start sketching it out as it applies to your business.  This will help you identify opportunities to improve customer development!

Are you underestimating your marketing costs?

Setting a marketing budget and estimating costs is always challenging.Hand filling jar with coins.

Often when we think of the word ‘cost’ we think in terms of money – dollars and cents.

In terms of marketing, we may think of cost as the fee to book the newspaper ad or the cost to have a display at a health fair.  But let’s take a moment and think about some other types of costs.

Indirect costs, the cost of your time and opportunity costs are less obvious but still important to consider.  These are the ones that often get missed, and leave us underestimating marketing costs.

Direct vs Indirect

Think of direct costs as those expenses you are completely aware of.  They are obvious.  You took time to consider them.

Indirect costs are often those where you go….”oh yeah… I hadn’t thought of that!”  These are the costs that are a little less obvious and may appear out of nowhere.

Example 1 – A Conference Booth

For example, you decide to have a display at a regional Mom’s conference.  You are a nutritionist who specializes in allergies in young children and it seems like a great fit.  You sign the agreement, and send the booth fee of $250.

A couple of weeks later you start planning what your booth will look like.  You decide to create a banner.  There is a great tablecloth at the home décor store that will complement your look exactly.  How will people remember you – maybe a postcard?  Don’t forget the money spent on lunch, parking and transportation costs.

The banner, tablecloth, signage, pens, postcards and other items are what I would consider indirect costs.

Example 2 – Social Media

For the second example, let’s think about your social media profiles.  You are a busy organic farmer – you rarely have time to stop and sit down in front of your computer.  Without your mobile phone, you would be hard pressed to take photos then find the time to download them and post them.

The cost of your phone, and the resulting monthly fees are now an indirect marketing cost.  Perhaps you use your phone for other business purposes as well, but consider at least some of those mobile phone costs as related to marketing.

Tips…

Think through each step of how a promotion will be completed.  Try to predict as many costs as possible. 

Budget for unexpected costs. 

Keep records of all costs even the unexpected ones.

Recognize that as you become better at recognizing costs, you’ll likely consider more of the ‘indirect’ costs as direct costs.

Time Cost

One of the things about marketing these days is that there is a wealth of low to no cost ways to market your business.  Social media is again a great example.  For no cost you can have a Facebook or Twitter account and reach hundreds to thousands of potential customers.

However, it will take time (lots) to have a successful social media presence.  It will take time to

  • decide what you want to focus on
  • get the necessary photos
  • write and edit what you will say
  • respond to comments
  • analyze results

There is a time cost to any marketing initiative – including events, publicity, e-newsletters and blogging.

Tips…

Track the time you spend on marketing. 

Watch for ways to be more effective with your marketing time.  For example, practice re-using your content.  Once you have written a blog post – pull Tweets and Facebook posts from it.

Opportunity Cost

This is the cost of not doing something.  If you decide to not attend the Mom’s conference or not have a Facebook profile, how many leads or sales will you miss out on?

This is a very subjective cost and hard to define.   Experience from similar promotions in the past can help you predict.

Tip…

Recognize that businesses market for a reason – to grow their sales.  Although it is important to choose efforts carefully, if you don’t do any marketing or your marketing efforts get sidelined there is an opportunity cost.

The main lesson… being aware of ALL of your costs helps you make better, more informed decisions!

Where is THAT photo? 7 Steps to Building your Photo Bank

As the timeless saying goes… “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  Not only do photos communicate information and emotions, they grab and focus attention.Woman taking a landscape photograph with a digital photo camera

But how do you build a bank of photos?

And how do you do it so they are easy to find?  Because you see… even if you take great photos you must be able to find them.

Read on!

Make a list of photos you need.

Think about the different aspects of your business.  Do you have photos about each of those areas?  For example, you may have a small farm and sell beef, pork, chickens and eggs direct to your customers.  Do you have photos of each type of animal?  Or do you tend to only have photos of the cows?

If you are a holistic nutritionist – do you have photos of ingredients as well as finished recipes you recommend?  What about photos from classes you teach?

If you are having an event, think ahead to the types of photos that would make promoting next years’ event even easier.

Start a list and work on collecting these photos.

Take photos throughout the year.

It’s really hard to take photos of vegetables in the snow.  (Well unless you are a year round gardener….)

During busy times, carry a camera with you to make it easy to snap pictures or assign someone to take photos.

And don’t forget the winter months.  Although we tend to minimize pictures of snow and ice – they can be very beautiful and can come in handy when explaining how weather affects your particular business.

Take a variety of photos – close ups, landscape shots and more!

It can be very hard to predict what photos you may need in the future.  Many website designs incorporate wide landscape shots.  In other spots a tall and skinny photo may work better.  Keep this in mind and mix up the perspective of your photos.

Take lots!

Today with digital devices we can see what our photos look like immediately.  But it can be hard to see subtle problems.

Often a strange look on someone’s face, a mess in the background or an odd reflection will go unnoticed until you look at the larger picture.

In addition to taking lots, also take the pictures at slightly different angles to provide you with a variety of options.

Higher quality is better.

If you are using a camera or mobile phone to take pictures be aware of the quality.  Often these photos look great on small screens but when used in other applications such as brochures and websites, the lack of quality becomes evident.  It’s always easier to start with a large photo and make it smaller for marketing materials.

Have a designated camera to take pictures.

Designating a camera for your business pictures helps ensure the photos stay in your hands.  When your intern or staff member moves on, they won’t be moving on with photos of your farm or business on their cell phone.

This leads me to my next tip…

Make sure photos get saved to a central location.

Have a designated storage location for photos.  It could be a specific computer, or a portable hard drive.  When you need photos in the future they will be easy to find.

Setting up folders to organize the photos is also essential.  Use folders and sub-folders with names that reflect the photos they contain.  For example, Jan 2014 Canning Workshop.  Photos can be organized by date, topic or other category as long as it is easy to understand and is consistent.

Don’t forget to save photos even if they have already been posted to your Facebook page.  Some day you may want that image for your e-newsletter or other purpose.

Last but not least, be sure to back up your photo files!

 

Following these steps takes extra time, but when you need photos again in the future, you’ll enjoy having a wide variety to choose from.

Happy clicking (and storing)!

 

Would you like more marketing tips?  Sign up for my free e-report “7 Online Marketing Trends Green Inspired Businesses Need To Know”.

 

5.1 Steps to Blogging

Have you seen them?  Are you on their email lists?  Those amazing businesses who send out these incredible looking e-newsletters on a weekly basis, each one leading to yet another fantastic blog post?

Maybe you’re inspired?  Perhaps intimidated?

Remember, we all have to start somewhere! 

You’ve got a to do list that’s really long.  The days fly by.  Things come up.  You dread wrestling with the technology of it all.

Look at the upside.  If you could increase your blog posts your customers will find you more interesting and their loyalty will increase.  You’ll have more content to share on Facebook and Twitter.  You’ll run into someone and they’ll comment on how they enjoyed a certain tip you suggested.  You might even get in a routine and enjoy blogging!

Try these steps to get started!

#1 Start a blog idea file.Tip 1 Start a Blog File

Perhaps it’s a file folder stuffed with pages – like mine in this photograph.

Maybe it’s a page on your fridge you write ideas on.  Or it’s a small notebook you carry with you.  Start it right now.  Decided on a spot and put something there to indicated it is your blog idea file.  Great!

#2 Brainstorm topics.

Review this blog post on topic ideas.  Take 30 minutes (time yourself) and wander the Internet to see what others are writing.

Write each idea on a separate piece of paper if possible.  You’ll want to leave room for any notes to include in each post.

Place all these ideas in your blog idea file.

#3 Just write.

Sit down and start writing or typing.  Often 3 to 4 paragraphs I write will end up in the scrap pile.  That’s ok.  They helped me warm up.  The important thing is to get started!

Aim for 400-600 words for a post.  Use the “Word Count” button in the Review tab of Word to keep track.

Just can’t write that many words?  Take it slow – start with a couple of paragraphs.

Alternately, include mainly images in your post and simply include 1-3 sentences describing each image.

#4 Edit.

Take a look at it on screen for sentence structure and obvious typos.  Print a copy out and make notes on it.  Take the print out to a different location to help you concentrate.  (More proofreading tips here.)

In addition to looking for basic errors, consider the flow of the post.  Move what you consider to be the most interesting point to the top.  (You will want to try and grab the readers’ attention with it.)

If possible, have someone else read it over.

#5 Get it out there.

Once you are reasonably happy with it, get it posted on your website.  Talk about it and provide links to it from your social media accounts.  Send out an e-newsletter that includes the start of the article and then a link back to your website. Or it could be the entire article if it’s short.

If you have a hard time wrestling the content out into the online world, consider finding and/or hiring someone to help you with this.

#5.1 Avoid perfection.

It’s much better to add a short post every 2 weeks than it is to post an 800 word essay every 3 months.  Quality is important but so is keeping in touch.

Give yourself credit for what you are able to accomplish.  Keep in mind that many of those other businesses with weekly posts have teams of people working with them to make that happen.

Is there a certain aspect of blogging that you have difficulty with?  Drop me a line to let me know, and I’ll aim to tackle it in an upcoming post!  You can reach me at susan@milkweedmarketing.com.

 

5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Website Developer!

Hiring a website developer to revamp or create a website for your business is a major investment.  Not only does it cost money to hire a developer, you will also spend a lot of your own time on the project.  You will also have to balance what you would like your website to achieve versus your budget.Image of paper pad and pen.

This NOT a time to be shy.

Ask lots of questions and take good notes about the answers.

Here are 5 questions to ask potential website developers…

#1    I want to do website updates myself – will you train me so that I can do this?

Will the training be included in the price?  How will that training be provided?  A printed manual, video tutorials, over the phone meeting and/or in person?

#2    Do you provide copywriting services?

Or, in simpler terms, will you help me write the content to go on the website?  If no, is there someone you would suggest?  If yes, is it included in the price?  If it is not included how much extra would it be?

#3    Who is responsible for loading the content to the website?

Will you do that or will I need to?  If you will load the content, is it included in the price?

#4    Is designing websites your full time or part time focus?

If part time, what other jobs or projects do you work on?  Listen to their answer, and judge how your work is going to fit into their schedule.  Will it be a priority?  If it will take more time to complete your website is that ok?  When you discuss a deadline with them how confident do they sound in meeting it?

#5    What are your payment terms?  Is a deposit required?  When is the final balance due?

Be very wary of designers who would like full payment up front.  If you pay everything at the beginning, it leaves you without an important negotiating tool if the project is not meeting your expectations or is running late.

Review not only the answers themselves, but how the information was delivered.  Was the developer professional?  Do you feel like you would get along with this person?  Was it easy to communicate with this individual or did you have to chase them for answers?

If you would like more tips on how to get the website you need please visit here.

An Easy to Fix Error Driving Traffic Away From Your Website

Have you ever had the experience where you are looking around a website, you click a link to find out more about a certain recipe, product or upcoming event – and then…. Huh?  What happened to the original website I was on?  How did I lose that website as an option?… What was their name?

Image of window with ivy and flowers.
Should you link to a “new window” or an “existing window”?

When adding a link to your website – watch for wording such as “open in this window/frame” or “open in a new window.”  Sometimes both choices are offered, sometimes only one is indicated and the other is considered the default.

A Link To Another Part of Your Website

These are great.  Links to a related blog post, your e-newsletter sign-up, upcoming events, a specific product or service are all wonderful ideas.  Allow these to open In the existing window.  They keep visitors clicking and lead visitors along the path of increased knowledge and to making a purchase.

PDF’s

Use these sparingly on your website.  Event posters with lots of graphics, downloadable forms or detailed documents are suited to being pdf’s.

Always have pdf’s open as a new window.  A pdf is usually a dead end so don’t drive traffic away and leave it there.

Make sure the key details or a summary of the document are included on the website itself.  For example, if it is an event poster make sure you note the event name, date, time, location, and contact info on the related web page as well as on the pdf.  If the pdf does not open for some reason visitors still have the key details.  Generally, it will also make it easier for search engines.

Links to Social Media

Your website is the foundation of your website presence so direct traffic to social media accounts using a new window.  After they connect with you and perhaps gotten lost reading updates (haven’t we all done it?)  ….. your website will still be open in their browser – inviting them to return and read more!

Links to Other Businesses or Organizations

Never open these in the same window.  If you do, once the link opens your website will disappear from their browser window.  Open these in a new window.

Carefully consider who you are sending traffic too.  How are you benefitting from listing this business or organization?  Are you a member of the association listed?  Does it add credibility to your business?  Do they send traffic to your website?

But they’re my friend! 

Sometimes a small group of business friends will include links to each other on their websites.

Unfortunately, links to other websites can drive traffic away from you, and distract your website visitor from focusing on you, your products and services.

A middle ground might be to remove your “Other great businesses” section and instead have your colleagues write a guest blog that you can post on your website.  Include a link at the bottom of the post to their website.  Make sure to provide them with a guest blog for their website as well!

If you are including a link to them, they should be including a link back to you.

At minimum, always have this link open in a new window.

So check it out!  Cruise your website and watch for links that should be updated.

Don’t have a lot of links on your website?  Look for spots to add them to encourage traffic to move around your website and keep visitors there longer.

Remember the ultimate goal is for your website visitors to learn more about you and move closer to making a purchase.

For more website advice check out Tips to Help You Get the Website You Need.