Hello everyone – it is review week here at Digitize NS and you’re in for a special treat as we recap and build onto the three pillars we have scaled since beginning our Digitization journey: Website Platforms, Email List Building and Marketing, and of course – Facebook.
As with all of our Digitize NS webinars, this will be recorded for later playback if you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. In the interest of time, we’ll be hitting all of the key points that lead to the completion of his objectives, but for a deeper look, we encourage you to review our past webinars, which can be access from the webinar schedule on the Digitize Your Firm page.
For those who may be joining us for the first time, we’ve been exploring a fictional entrepreneur named Joe who runs a local business making sweaters.
Joe has owned his business for over 20 years and is located in Downtown Dartmouth. Joe has been selling at the Halifax & Dartmouth Farmer’s Markets in addition to his shop, but he is seeing a decline in business. To tackle this issue, he has decided to take his storefront online to open up his consumer base.
Today’s webinar is going to be going over the last nine weeks and recap all that Joe has done. We’re going to recap picking out the best web platform, best practices for email blasts, and of course – how to prepare and roll out a Facebook page.
Check in with Joe
To date, Joe has successfully launched his own website full of content he created himself and sent his first email blast from a customer list he created and launched a Facebook Page for his business. Now we’re going to dive back through that journey and offer new tips and refreshers on what we covered.
When we first met Joe – he was a man with a plan, crafting three objectives he wanted to achieve to begin digitizing his business. As you can see from the diagram – he wanted to:
- Open an e-commerce website to sell his sweaters on both locally and nationally, and to lift the profile of his business
- Build an email list to send out an email blast celebrating the launch of the new website and drawing customers in with a discount.
- Launch a Facebook page to communicate better with customers and market sales, newsletters, and new items digitally to bring more viewership to the site.
Let’s talk website platforms first.
When Joe started looking at building his own website, he found the numerous digital storefront builders that populated the internet. With so many site builders out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Here are three key pieces to consider:
- Style – while colors and fonts can often be changed on a style or theme, try to find one that speaks to your business and brand.
- Pricing – check pricing on packages many websites offer. Depending on the site you choose, additions such as 24/7 customer support, mailing labels, and page options can come at different price points. Aim to find a site that supports your needs while still meeting your budget.
- Content – consider what you will be putting onto your website. If it is an e-commerce store, your first thought will be your inventory but additional sections can help flesh the site out more. As you may recall from the first week’s emails, a blog can make a great addition as it helps attract new visitors and helps the SEO for your site (But we will touch and that later).
- Security – check the website’s check out protocols. Do they use SSL encryption to keep your customer’s data safe? Do they have verified sign on so you know when the account or website is accessed from the back-end?
- Shipping – does the website offer connection to mailing and shipping assets? Can you get discounts through the company? Printed labels? All of these things must be kept in mind.
Joe picked a few different digital storefronts that he thinks suits his needs from reading online reviews he’s found on google, then fills out the helpful demo form on each companies website to book some one-on-one demos with each respective product expert. The form Joe completed on the websites helped the product expert perfectly tailor Joe’s presentation to show exactly how they’ve been successful in helping businesses both in the same industry and in size in launching an online storefront.
After some great demos, Joe’s mailed some information packages which include supplemental statistics and reporting to further help build piece of mind that other people just like him have seen success following the same path. The best part? Joe hasn’t paid a cent, has companies competing for his business, and now better understands the power of e-commerce solutions. He’s ready to take the next step and choose the best solution at the best price point for his needs.
So now that Joe’s picked out the best solution for his business and is convinced in what it can do and how it can help, what’s next? How does Joe get started? Software companies understand that the technologies you’re buying are in many times something you’ve never seen or used before. Technology is not just for the tech savvy anymore – everyday technology gets more and more user-friendly and easier to understand.
Depending on the package or your know-how, many of these companies will tailor custom fit onboarding packages for each organization to assist with the training and implementation period. An Onboarding expert will meet with you online or in person to come up with the most effective strategy to train Joe.
As Joe goes through this process, it is important that he keeps in mind the sort of information he would like to include – a great way to organize his thoughts is an IA, or information architecture. The key word in that term is architecture – a website IA is like a floor plan for your home and lays out where all of your information will be kept. An IA plan can be laid out in many ways, but a simple and easy way is to draw it out as you would a family tree. Start with ‘Home Page’ and branch off into other pages like ‘About Me’, ‘Online Store’ or ‘Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Take a look at Joe’s IA as an example, and feel free to use it as a base for yours.
Keep in mind that you will need to write content for these pages as we’ve discussed, so come prepared with ideas and text that you can use to bring your site to life. Whether it is general product information or an about me page, keep your information close by to fill out the site. For tips and advice on generating your own content if you are starting from scratch, check out April 18 and 25 webinars available on the Digitize Your Firm page.
An additional service the website builder offered was a custom DNS name, which Joe took full advantage of:
Domains or Domain Name Systems (DNS) is the digital version of the phone number used to connect customers with his store. Just like phone numbers, you can also not have duplicates and each must be unique. An example of a popular domain that everyone uses of ‘www.google.com’. An important piece to note here is that end ‘.com’ as they are similar to area codes – there are many and can pertain to different countries or protocols.
Luckily for Joe, the provider he is working with sees that ‘www.joessweaters.ca’ and ‘www.joessweaters.com’ is good to use, so he can acquire the rights to it at a cost and use it for the whole year, after which he can choose to renew it. Because is a Canadian citizen with business filings in Canada, it would be smarter and cheaper to go with ‘.ca’ domain instead of a ‘.com’ domain name.
When it comes to domain names, remember to keep them as simple as possible. The easier it is to remember, the better! While in this case, the provider Joe is working with a provider who has gone through this process for him, anyone can buy website domains by going to sites and purchasing the rights to them. If you’re considering launching your own website, we highly recommend you check these sites to see what is and isn’t available.
On Joe’s website is up and running, he can also take a look at his website analytics.
SLIDE – WEBSITE ANALYTICS
For those unfamiliar with website analytics, they are statistical data that provides vital insight into how users are finding, navigating and using your site – among other things of course.
Many site-building softwares have built-in analytics but it is fine to supplement them with outside tools, a popular one being Google Analytics.
The item Joe notices is that his site has had 201 unique visitors – that metric means 201 unique people viewed his website. His overall website hits are 324, means that he has had some repeat visitors at all.
Another metric he looks at is bounce rate – the bounce rate is displayed in a percentage and represents a number of users who come to the website and leave after only viewing one page. While one may assume a high bounce rate is a negative statistic, it all depends on the layout of your site – if the bulk of the information your audience is looking for is on the first page, that is not a bad thing. There are even some sites built entirely on one scrolling page.
That’s where average session duration – this analytic allows you to understand how long users are staying on your page. This is a fantastic metric to compare with your bounce rate: if your bounce rate is high and your session duration time is low, that may be a sign you need to revamp landing page.
In Joe’s case, his site visitors are visiting his pages for around 3 to 4 minutes and his bounce rate is less 50%, so not bad at all.
Joe can also find out what the geographical location his website visits are coming from – the vast majority are coming from Nova Scotia with a few from New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland. He has had a view visits from the EU region and the United States, but it is important to keep in mind that these geo stats need to be taken with a grain of salt. It is not uncommon for internet users to use software that can make their location for various reasons such as privacy, but nevertheless it is good information to know.
Another statistic, if available through the website builder being used, is behaviour. This data lets you see where your site visitors are going, letting you see what they find more important. For Joe, a lot of his visitors are looking at a new sweater he recently started selling – this gives him two ideas: he can plan to put a sale on this sweater in the future, and he can also link to it from his homepage so it is easier for visitors to find it.
Now, let’s talk about referrals. Referrals, essentially, are how people are finding your site – whether it is through social media, direct links (www.joessweaters.ca), articles or pages from other websites or anywhere someone can link to the website. By analyzing this statistic, Joe can find out where his traffic is coming from – allowing him to dedicate more time to that source. If it was for example – his Facebook page when it gets up and running, Joe may want to post more deals and content there.
Finally – let’s talk about conversions. Conversions are when a user’s actions turn into a tangible actions such as a download or a sale. While all of the data we have discussed so far is valuable, this metric allows us to better understand if Joe’s tactics and site are working. For Joe, his conversion metric is having people buy his clothes online and so far, there have been five orders places and paid for.
Now that we’ve discussed the website, let’s talk about step two – his email blast.
Email Lists and Content
Joe also wanted to send an email blast which can only be done once he has compiled an email list. There are a myriad of ways he can do this, but as Joe took the old fashioned way: asking customers to write down their email when they make an in-store purchase. By writing down their name and email address, they’ve provided consent for Joe to contact them in the future with information.
After he gathered around 50 signatures and launched his website, he wanted to announce its launch with a email blast introducing the new site and having a buy one, get one half off sale. To aid Joe, we discussed what goes into making a strong email, starting with subject lines.
When it comes to subject lines – the inbox is a tough place to. Everyone by now has become skilled at skimming their inbox for the stuff they want to read, leaving little room for boring and poorly written subject lines. Composing attention-grabbing and concise subject lines of 50 characters or less with a benefit added is challenging. This is the first things your email subscribers will see, so you need to create a subject line that is captivating and a sender name that is trustworthy. Keep your subject line direct and truthful, and give subscribers a good idea of what is in the email. DON’T USE ALL CAPS and review our list of spam trigger words to learn what to avoid. Your sender name should be your company or a well-known staff member. The true test for you is to read it back to yourself and decide whether you would open it up as a consumer.
Joe ends up with ‘Joe’s Goes Online – BOGO half off sweaters today!’ What do you think? Would you open it?
It is also essential to have a clear call to action. Joe’s email will be dead in the water without a clear and appealing call to action. You need to lead or entice your reader to act on something (ideally the main point of your email). Powerful ways to do this is to use a button-like graphic rather than plain text, limit your email to one primary call to action, and experiment with the placement of that CTA. Wording also plays an important factor with your CTA. Click here does not sound that interesting to many. Better choices would be Learn More, Continue Reading, or Act Now.
As a way to grab attention, Joe has included photos into his email and done a showcase on three of his best-selling sweaters with the description beside them. Furthermore, he makes ‘buttons’ out of them, by again linking the image to the item’s URL address on the website. Since his sale for will be buy one, get one half off, the thinks this may be just the way to start moving product a bit faster.
He has also made sure the branding is consistent with the website with the colour and font matching. He has also taken a picture of his physical store front and put it at the top, linking it to his website along with writing out and linking the actual domain address.
Is there anything else you think Joe could or should add?
He definitely needs to make sure that he has an unsubscribe link at the bottom of his email to ensure those who do not wish to be contacted again won’t be. In this case, when someone clicks it, they simply send an email back that says ‘unsubscribe’ so Joe will know to take them off his list. He also adds in his physical address at the bottom, another key feature he needs to stay CASL & CAN-SPAM compliant.
He could also add in a link to the Facebook page is created to increase traffic and have more ways for customers to contact him.
Now comes an important pre-flight check – always test an email before it goes out. If there are any mistakes or issues, you will notice them first rather than passing them on to your subscribers. It also helped to identify if certain images or sections lose alignment or get changed after being sent.
After he sent his first blast, it may be good for Joe to look for an email platform that he can use to make these sends easier and give him analytics on his sends. One of the best ways to do this, is to use an email marketing platform.
Email Marketing Platform
What is an email marketing platform, you ask? Quite simply, it is software designed to help design and send out mass marketing emails with a variety of tools built in such as survey creation and A/B split testing. Moreover, they can also provide statistics on sent campaigns such as how many of the emails were opened, how many receivers opted out, what links receivers clicked on and more. There are numerous services that provide this that you can find online, but we’re going to talk about what you should look for in one.
A great place to start is simply – is there an annual plan or is it free, and if it is free, is there an email limit?
Many email platforms offer free plans up until a certain number of contacts while also allowing unlimited sends. If Joe’s contact list is initially smaller (such as below 60 contact) and he can use the service for free – more power to him!
Another element to look at is features – what can this platform do to make sure Joe’s message is heard? A/B Split testing is a great tool to look for as it offers the chance to send our different versions of the same email to see which resonates more powerfully with his audiences and produces more clicks/sales. This form of testing can not only improve his email send results, but allow Joe to see what his customers are looking for.
Another feature to look out for is survey or form creation. This tool will do just as it says, allowing you to create surveys and forms to send out via email or even use social media to gather data on specific items, interests, or topics. Depending on the questions you ask or the information you are hunting for, you can figure out how to best appeal to your customers and gain more in the process if you offer a discount or coupon to anyone who finishes and submits the form.
Email templates are also a handy feature to have as it will allow Joe to quickly create aesthetic pleasing, brand consistent email without having to start from scratch. If Joe has the time, he can even create his own template and save it so he doesn’t need to worry about creating a new email each time.
Those are just a few of the features to look for – but overall, the driving reason to use an email marketing platform is the analytics and results. These can help Joe better understand what emails he is sending are pushing customers towards his site, which do not perform as well, what type of information his audience responses to best and more so he can better coordinate his promotion.
Now, on to Step Three – creating a Facebook page.
Facebook Page Creation
Facebook is such a diverse and populated place. By having a Facebook page, you are able to access and engage with people who you may not have otherwise been able to. If you currently don’t have a Facebook account for your organization, you are missing this massive audience.
What will Joe need to open up his Facebook page?
While it may seem intimidating to open the page initially, much of the content needed is information about Joe’s business that he already has – such as the location and hours of his store. This not only will help later when it comes to analytics on Facebook, but will allow his page viewers to quickly find their way to him.
It is also important for Joe to consider what he will be posting about on Facebook – will it be his product? Information about his business? A solid understanding and strategy of what he wants to get out of his Facebook page is needed to make the investment of time worthwhile.
Though more is going to be needed in order for Joe to succeed. Just like the IA (Information Architecture) Joe created when he was building his website, he is going to need a strategy for his page such as what content he is going to post and how regularly he will post.
This is an important topic as posting good content that speaks to Joe’s audience, in this case his customers, is what is going to help his page grow when he launches it. For Joe, it would be best to post photos of sales, newly arriving items, articles about taking care of sweaters and information of events happening around his shop.
What photos to use is also a consideration as they must meet certain sizes and be engaging. In this presentation, we’ve included the correct photo sizes to use for Facebook as your page picture, background image and wall photos. Don’t be afraid to search online for sizing guides – they’re great to have on hand as, depending on the size of your photos, they can appear too small and pixelated, or too big and cut off.
Through Pages on Facebook, you can also add in a Call-to-Action (CTA) button which can be displayed with seven different texts and link to any URL. Joe could use the ‘Sign Up’ option and link to a subscription form on his website to gather contacts for his email blasts. He could also choose the ‘Message’ option and allow page viewers to message his page with questions he may have. Finally, he could instead choose ‘Shop Now’ and link it straight to his site! There are a lot of options here, and there is not harm in trying different button options to see which proves the most useful to his customers.
It is to be said that opening a Facebook page does bring additional duties to the owner of the business and page. If people have kudos or complaints about your product, service or company, Facebook provides a chance to for them to directly post to your page. This is a double-edged sword – it will mean you need to pay attention to your page, but it also provides a chance to provide customer service over a new channel and retain customers.
Another benefit will be access to Facebook Analytics, which can assist in building your social media presence.
Facebook Analytics is built into each Facebook page that is created and can provide valuable insights regarding what is going well, and what could use a bit of attention.
When you first enter the analytics section of your Facebook page, you’ll be greeted with a dashboard that holds some quick but informative data from the last seven days. Highlights to look at are your Page Views, which detail – you guessed it – how many people viewed your Facebook Page. You can also see how many ‘Likes’ you’ve accumulated which is important to track because when people ‘Like’ your page, they begin to see your content.
Two other metrics to watch are Reach and Post Engagement. Reach is how many unique people have seen your content through your own page, followers sharing your content and more. It is a great way to gauge just how many people your page (and brands) is getting in front of. Post Engagement goes hand-in-hand with Reach as it let’s who know who engaged – defined as clicking on the post, liking, sharing, commenting and more – with your post. Together, these numbers let you know who is seeing your content and how many of those people are engaging with your content.
All of this data is tracked and Facebook will provide statistical percentages to give you a idea of the change week over week, 28 days later and even between quarters. I should also mention that the data will be presented in two ways – as organic and paid. Organic means any metrics you receive just by posting and without paid advertisement via boosting. Paid is, well, the metrics you received from paid advertisements across Facebook and by boosting posts. For now, the data we will be speaking to will be all organic but when the time comes, Joe may consider paid advertisement.
Facebook tracks nearly everything to do with your page, so we encourage you to really dig into the different page of insights – much, if not all of the data, is represented in visual graphs so you can get a very thorough understanding of what is happening on your page.
A new feature we would like to point out is the ‘Local’ insights Facebook pulls. This page uses the first three letters and digits of your postal code mixed with data from Facebook users in that area to form insights ‘locally’. These insights include the top age group around you, the hours when it is busy around you and even the day of the week that sees the most traffic.
Why is this data so important? It lets you better target your messaging and posts to specific times and audiences so you get the most value for the content you are creating.
And that concludes our recap, let’s talk about what we learned.
To review, let’s go over what we’ve covered today:
- Websites: When it comes to website building, shop around and see what different sites and platforms can off you. Come prepared to potentially write content
- Email Blast: When it comes to email blasts and marketing, the inbox can be a hard place. Ensure when you begin gathering emails, that you have the consent the person and are staying CASL and CAN-SPAM compliant. Your subject lines should have less than 70 characters, and don’t be afraid to use images as buttons by linking them to other pages, sales, or channels. Make sure you have a strong call-to-action and that it is visible amongst the contents whether that is done through colour, fonts, buttons or any other tactic to catch the readers are. Finally, consider exploring email platforms as they can provide easier ways to market through email as well as provide stats that you can use to improve your campaigns.
- Facebook: Come prepared and put as much information about your business as you can, such as store hours, locations, products you selling – all of this will help fill out your page. Ensure that your photos are correctly sized as well to have a polished look, whether it is on your background images or the images you post. On that note – strong content is key to growing your page: experiment with photo, video and article posts to see what your audience enjoys and what provides the most engagement. And a great way to gauge engagement is with Facebook analytics, which can be a fantastic tool to monitor your page growth, how many users you are reaching and detailing what kinds of content your audience wants.
Next week, we’re going to be taking a consumer focus and discuss:
- CRMs or Customer Relation Managers
- Digital Customer Service (Solving problems via social media and websites)
- Keeping your client’s data safe
Until then, please put any questions you may have in the chat or feel free to email me at Jay – J A Y @ Simplycast.com.
Next week, we’ll be doing a comprehensive review of the past nine weeks. If there is a specific subject you’d like to learn more about or be highlighted, don’t hesitate to let me know.