How to Write Your “About Us” Page

19 Jan

The “About Us” page on a website is one of the most important pages, yet is most neglected and overlooked. This page is crucial for expressing your business’ personality and mission. Your “About Us” page should build trust and provide reassurance for consumers interested in buying from you or investing in your business. This is especially important if they have not had any prior dealings with your firm.

You can set yourself apart from your competition by stating what makes you different. Take the time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and use that knowledge to start building a personal connection with someone who visits your website. “Spark” and charisma are essential to attracting someone who doesn’t know you, so write in a manner that is conversationally friendly and clear about what you are all about. If you can induce a feeling through a story about your service or product, you will create an emotional attachment between the visitor and your brand.

VIA Marketing About Us page

Important Tips for an Effective “About Us” Page

  1. Tell Your Story – Share the positive impact your product or service has had on others. Was it life-changing or empowering? Humanize your brand with a good feeling. People connect with what they can relate to or what they would like to relate to. The world needs more good news! Share your mission and business ethics, and tell the story of how your business came about. Write with passion as you share your business struggles, growing pains and successes, but don’t make the narrative too wordy. Combine a modest attitude about your accomplishments with showing appreciation and thanks for those who have helped you along the way. Tell us why your company, service or product is different. Why should we buy from you?
  2. Show Your Personality – Be unique with your layout, text and images so they reflect your personality. Remember to stay consistent throughout your website and social media pages when choosing the tone, layout and fonts. Your brand colors should be prominent. Having a strong design aesthetic is important, but without compelling content, you will only hold the visitor’s interest momentarily.There are countless approaches, but think about what works best for your specific story. For example, sharing your business’ journey and milestones can be laid out in several ways to create visual interest. Think of a vertical timeline instead of a horizontal one, or an abstract roadmap with simple blurbs of accomplishments. Simply, keep it visually interesting but clean and easy to read. Remember to use vivid graphics and words that are descriptive. Humans are visual creatures, and pictures can increase the level of feeling and empathizing with your brand.
  3. Humanize Your Business – Stay human and sound less formal. Be straight to the point with powerful, short sentences. Use your unique voice instead of being overly polished and sounding too ‘industry.’ You will seem more credible and trustworthy. Some visual examples include showcasing people behind the company scenes. Along with using employee pictures and fun bios, include personal info such as hobbies, quirky throwbacks, links to their online accomplishments, and social buttons linking to their pages and email. Pictures of your staff in action give a human perspective to your business. At VIA, one of the most clicked-on pages has historically been our staff page. In a service business, people especially want to know who they will be working with.
  4. Video Impact – Tell a story about your business using a short, engaging, one-minute video to create an impact and make the visitor want to know more. Video will increase your Google search ranking and provide a solid introduction. Remember to include an introduction or caption with your video. Videos are also a great way to add dimension. For example, showing a video of how a customer successfully uses your product or gives positive feedback will build trust between the visitor and you.
  5. Testimonials – Using pictures of people along with their name, business or city, and a testimonial about their experience with your business personalizes your brand and provides reliable credentials. Sharing a short quote from employees explaining why they enjoy working for your company is also another type of testimonial. Testimonials can come from different groups including customers, business affiliates such as vendors, or your employees.
  6. It’s All About TRUST – Don’t forget to include what your products or services can do for your customer. Most people are considering you from a “What’s in it for me?” perspective. In the end, it’s always about creating and keeping someone’s trust. The customer needs to know they can count on you and that you will stand with them if something goes wrong.
  7. Expand Your Horizons – Some use their “About Us” page as a landing page to summarize their business. You could expand and organize your content by creating tabs or subpages with categories such as Our Story, Our Process, Our Team, etc. This makes the information more easily digestible for the visitor. More pages improve your SEO because they require more clicks and provide more opportunities for your keyword tags.Another idea is to use a section of the page or another tab to highlight the visitor/customer. Have an “About Us” section and an “About You” section. Case studies are a good way to show how you prioritize customers’ needs. Include details like solid credentials or awards you’ve won. Relating experiences about how you’ve empathized with customers’ challenges and how you’ve helped them will go a long way to secure new business.

Please contact VIA Marketing to create your “About Us” page, or let us rework your page to enhance your business. If you want a fresh tone across your website to convey more personality, we can do that too! Contact Julie or call 219-769-2299.

Research Your Options

Before you build or freshen up your “About Us” page, take a digital trip to research “About Us” pages on other websites. Look over examples of some highly effective pages and learn why they work. Check out websites of businesses you really value, along with competitors’ pages in similar industries.

 

It’s Starting to Look Like Christmas

22 Dec

Brainstorming is like Christmas. There is caffeine and sugar, plus everyone talking at the same time.

via-2016-christmas-staff

The result is…

via-2016-christmas-warm-wishes

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from All of Us at VIA Marketing!

How Does Blogging Improve Search Ranking?

23 Nov

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Ranking on the first page of a Google search is a frequent request by many businesses. It’s ideal placement since the first page sees 95% of all search traffic. While this is not an impossible feat, it does take time and several SEO strategies need to be in place. An often-overlooked SEO strategy that businesses can implement is blogging. A blog has the power of increasing organic search performance, which can ultimately result in more leads and sales.

Last year, Forbes published an article outlining the top 10 benefits of blogging on your website. Although SEO strategies frequently change, even over a year, blogging continues to hold the same advantages today. While all ten benefits are great for your business, blogging boils down to better organic search performance.

Blogging Gets You Noticed Online

We live in an information-hungry world, so it’s no surprise a search engine like Google indexes countless pages every day. This means your business website could be up against fresh competition every day. Google considers a website that is updated at least 2-3 times a week as a frequently updated site. The more you make changes to your website (copy, images, etc), the more Google rewards you. Adding a blog to your website is the easiest and most effective way to regularly schedule fresh content for search engines to index. Your blog will need to be part of your domain, e.g.. ViaMarketing.net/Blog.

Blogging gives you opportunities for smart keywords. Any great SEO specialist keeps keyword strategy top-of-mind because it greatly impacts your ranking in searches. Additionally, ranking for long-tail search queries is more likely to result in leads and blogging is the best way to rank for those longer keyword phrases. Search engines like Google are more interested in quality content, so remember not to “keyword-stuff” your content.

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Quality Over Quantity

You can blog daily, weekly, or monthly, but remember that it’s more important to produce quality content. That means your blog posts should inform and engage your audience about your product or service. Your search engine performance is key to your online presence, and blogging is a great way to expand it. If you are interested in starting a blog but don’t know where to begin, please contact Julie to get started today!

Forbes: Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website

  1. Increases search engine traffic
  2. Humanizes your brand
  3. Supports your social media initiatives
  4. Builds authority in your industry
  5. Improves conversion rates
  6. Helps generate inbound links
  7. Helps you rank for long-tail search queries
  8. Increases leads
  9. Facilitates valuable discussion
  10. Allows you to achieve ‘freshness’

 

How To Protect Website Analytics From Spam

26 Oct

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Collecting and analyzing website data is invaluable to meet the business goals of a website. Google Analytics is a great tool to view website traffic data and gives you many insights to improving user experience. This is why having true data is critical, but data can potentially become useless if your website is hit with spam traffic.

What is Spam Traffic?

There are different types of spam traffic, but the most common is spam referral traffic. This type of traffic comes from bots that impersonate a referral link and the objective is to influence you to visit their website. Referral links represent the sources linking back to your website. Usually, referral links are great for SEO, but referrer spam can negatively impact your data. For example, semalt.com is a common spam referral source. It’s a legitimate website, but useless for your data because it can degrade important website metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit and average visit duration. Consequently, you may have an unclear picture of your website traffic and performance.

Analytics snapshot of data from January 2016 to September 2016

Analytics snapshot of data from January 2016 to September 2016

Filters & Segments Decrease Spam Traffic

In order to diminish spam referral traffic, there are a couple strategies we put in place in Google Analytics. We can block referrer spam altogether by setting up filters in your account. This is a good strategy for well-known referrer spam like semalt.com, plus you won’t ever see it in your analytics because filters prevent spam traffic from ever hitting your website. Another great strategy is to set up segments. Segments work by grouping data under conditions you set. For example, we can group all referrer spam in one segment and select segment when looking at analytics. This is a good solution if you would rather not delete data, plus it’s flexible to implement.

Clean Data is Real Data

It’s possible to use both solutions together as well, but here’s a few things to keep in mind. Setting up filters in your account is permanent, so you can never recover data if necessary. We can circumvent this by setting up different views in Google Analytics. When using segments, you will need to remember to select it every time you’re viewing data, plus we may need to frequently update it. No solution is perfect, but the goal is to get the best possible website traffic data. By using filters or segments in Google Analytics, you will get a clearer picture of your website performance and will be able to make better business decisions.

Your website traffic data is important and your business deserves real data. If you’re concerned about spam traffic in your website analytics, please contact our digital specialist for support with filters, segments and Google Analytics.

 

My Interview with a Full Stack Developer

28 Sep
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Olson, a full stack developer (FSD) at VIA Marketing. Ryan was super excited to tell me all about what he can do for our clients in the age of new and emerging technologies. However, in our conversation I found that Ryan Olson and FSDs are from a different planet and speak their own language. As a bonus to you the reader, I will ATTEMPT to translate his amazing, brilliant, genius answers for you to plain and simple English.
full-stack-developer

Michelle: Okay Ryan, what exactly is a full stack developer?
Ryan: Many people may have never heard this term. A full stack developer will think through the functionality of a website during the creative stages and then move to writing code in HTML using CSS3, JavaScript, and Ajax. Then they move to the back-end, using PHP and MySQL to create complex and advanced functions on the server. Full stack developers are skilled and comfortable working in both front-end and back-end environments.

This means: A full stack developer is very smart and many times is a graduate from Purdue. Go Boilermakers! This person makes a website work. They integrate what you see and click on (front-end) with all of the coding and database technology that you don’t see (back-end). Your website needs to have someone with solid programming skills to customize functions. A functioning website makes everyone’s life easier – believe it or not, it’s true.

Michelle: What do you do for our clients?
Ryan: I get involved with the UI/UX aspect of the site and work closely with the designers to bring ideas and mock-ups to life. Having a wide skill set in many programming languages, I can easily transition from one language to another to collaborate on conceptual designs and offer insight on how to enhance functions so they work across a variety of platforms like desktop and mobile. Being versed in server side scripts, such as MySQL and PHP, I work to make sure nothing is lost along the way.

This translation: Ryan understands how today’s websites are supposed to look and function. Ryan will not leave you in 1995. While gallantly avoiding missteps that make many other websites look like train wrecks, he also ensures the security and proper management of your content and data.

Wondering about UI/UX? This term is used a lot by developers and not really by the rest of us, but if you want a good website it should concern you:
UI = User Interface, i.e. visual design
UX = User Experience, i.e. the visitor’s interaction with your website.

Another acronym Ryan uses freely (like we all know what he’s talking about) is server side scripts: MySQL and PHP. This is a block of code written for a specific function that is controlled by the server. By the way, client-side scripts are code that are controlled by your computer. An example would be desktop roll-over effects. Is your head hurting yet? Mine is. Okay, just think what happens when your mouse moves over thingies on your website and then something really cool happens. That is just one of the many, many things Ryan makes happen.

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Michelle: So as you are at the forefront of what is the latest and greatest, what emerging technologies should we be aware of?
Ryan: Experience Design (ED). As more and more users move away from desktops and do their web browsing and shopping on mobile and tablet devices, we will start to see new scripts being created for those devices. In the last year we saw the advancement of smart watches with Internet connectability. Thinking about how users experience and use the device will help us come up with creative ways to enhance your customer’s experience when they try to access your website. This is different than user experience (UX) in the sense that UX is how one flows through the content. Experience Design is what the user experiences while using the device. On a smart watch, they may be out for a jog, or out shopping and need to look something up. How accessible is that information?

What you need to know: Devices change, apps change, and your marketing needs to advance with it. We need to be aware of what people are actually using and why they are drawn to it. We’d venture to guess that you are reading this article on your phone right now.

Take a look and think about your website and how it functions across different devices. We need to be where people want us and it has to be good – even on someone’s tiny, practical, accessible wrist.

To find out more about where your company needs to be and how to get there, get in touch with Julie at VIA Marketing at: julie@viamarketing.net or call 219.769.2299

 

Expanded Text Ads, The Next Generation of AdWords

30 Aug

The power of search engine marketing has recently reached another level with Expanded Text Ads in Google AdWords. According to Google’s AdWords blog, it’s the biggest change to text ads since AdWords launched 15 years ago. Earlier this year, Google removed right-hand side text ads to maintain a consistent user experience across all devices. This mobile-first mindset was the driving force behind Expanded Text Ads and we’re here to explain the new features.

Expanded Text Ads (Before)

Expanded Text Ads (After)

Expanded Ads, Bigger Opportunities

Expanded Text Ads are available with two headlines (30 characters each) and one long description line (80 characters), which makes them nearly twice as big as standard text ads. No matter the device, desktop or mobile, the new ads will wrap accordingly. Longer headlines and descriptions are the perfect opportunities to increase visibility on the search results page, which can result in more people clicking on your ad. According to early reports, click-through-rates (CTR) have seen increases by as much as 20 percent.

In addition to more ad copy space, there are two path fields available to supplement the display URL. Your landing page will remain the final URL, but now you will have the opportunity to add two paths (15 characters each) to customize the display URL. For example, your landing page for a new product could be company.com/new/product, but in your new expanded text ad, the URL can be displayed as company.com/NewProduct/FreeShipping. The new path fields provide an opportunity to highlight services or products and potentially reach more customers.

Expand AdWords Opportunities Now

Expanded Text Ads have been available since July 26, 2016, but starting October 26, 2016, AdWords will no longer support creating or editing standard text ads. Existing standard text ads will continue to run after this date, but you will not be able to edit them. We recommend transitioning your current text ads to the new format before October 26th to take advantage of the new features. If you would like help with the transition, please contact Julie for AdWords and Expanded Text Ads support.

VIA Marketing Receives Award for Publication Excellence

29 Jul

 

VIA Marketing was recently awarded the 2016 APEX Award of Excellence.
2016_winner

The 2016 APEX Award of Excellence for Campaigns, Programs and Plans in Marketing and Communications was recently awarded to the team at VIA Marketing. The award recognized the outstanding logo design and creative development of a stationery system for GIDE, a business consultancy based in St. John, IN.

gide

“The logo, letterhead and business cards that we designed for GIDE are imaginative, eye-catching and effective. Our team appreciates the relationship we have with the team at GIDE and we look forward to more exciting projects with them in the future,” says Julie Olthoff, president, VIA Marketing.

gide-system

This year, over 1,600 entries were submitted for the Annual Apex Awards. The awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the ability to achieve overall communication excellence. The awards are evaluated and rated by a panel of judges in 11 major categories with Awards of Excellence recognizing exceptional entries.

The Apex Award of Excellence is the third award that VIA Marketing has received in 2016. Recent honors include a Silver designation from Service Industry Advertising Awards for work in new media for client, Olthof Homes, along with a Merit designation for the integrated campaign for the Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana’s Parade of Homes.

Based in Merrillville, VIA Marketing provides strategic and inspired thinking with an integrated approach across all media including: internet, print, advertising and signage.