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Small Business Tips - how to make an impact with effective website design

Digital marketing agency Yoko Co has a rule of engagement: go all in or leave. Ray Van Hilst, Director of Client Results, explains that Yoko Co seeks to find joy in its 10-hour workdays and strives to help clients make the world better. That’s why the company works exclusively with game-changing organizations with motives beyond profit. To help these clients make an impact, Yoko Co focuses on effective website design and web presence.

In this episode of the Connected Enterprise podcast, Vision33’s Carl Lewis chatted with Ray about website content, changing priorities, lessons learned from COVID, and more.

The Great Pivot

When the pandemic hit a year and a half ago, an immediate sense of panic caused businesses – especially non-profit organizations – to pause their marketing spending. Many companies reflected on pre-pandemic marketing activities and stopped those that weren’t working.

Businesses adapted to the changing circumstances in many ways. For example, companies changed their websites to prominently display answers to client questions regarding COVID policies on their home pages. Ray says this is Content Strategy 101: Address what people are worried about. His example was a dental organization that answered questions about the safety of dental visits during a pandemic.

SEO strategy also became more critical. While overall internet traffic to Ray’s clients’ sites decreased, engagement increased. Businesses focused on developing content that takes visitors on a journey. This is critical because while it’s impossible to keep up with Google’s algorithm changes, Google will always recognize and reward authentic, helpful content.

Ray also noted that businesses with modern, flexible technology before the pandemic pivoted and responded to change more effectively.

Content is King

Your website visitors don’t care about your company. They visit your site because they have an issue to resolve. Many businesses think, “I’m going to tell people what I want to tell them, not what they want to know.” Ray recommends talking to your customers, and not just the ‘regulars.’ Engage with casual buyers, too, and listen with an open mind – you may hear things you won’t like.

Once you know your audience’s concerns, map your website content. Arrange it so visitors move through it in stages. Yoko Co’s methodology includes oblivious, curious, intrigued, invested, and converted.

And you don’t have to constantly create content from scratch. Google won’t penalize you for refreshing older offers or landing pages with new information.

Because your website should undergo a facelift every two to three years, you should include that expense in your marketing budget. And don’t throw website responsibilities at just anyone. The employees handling social media or events, the marketing director, etc. shouldn’t be responsible for the website. Instead, designate a managing editor whose primary role is evaluating and updating the website.

Don't Fixate on Shiny Objects

The past year and a half taught small businesses many valuable lessons. One is the need for a digital transformation strategy. Making small changes to technology enables companies to become more resilient and adaptable. And both your website and digital transformation can start small.

Rather than jumping into a large, expensive system for your website, consider a platform like WordPress, with numerous plug-ins to build anything you want. Squarespace and Weebly work well too. Ray suggests “getting your training wheels” on smaller tools and growing into larger systems.

For more insights from Ray Van Hilst, listen to Vision33’s Connected Enterprise podcast. Each week, host Carl Lewis interviews bright minds and industry thought leaders about enterprise technology and what’s coming next.

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