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How to Make Better Decisions When You Call the Shots

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A former president of the United States once famously described himself as the “Decider in Chief.” On one level, that’s comical. On another level, it’s instructive, and succinctly so. The person who possesses the most decision-making power is the person who will be judged for the success or failure of those decisions. End of story.

That sounds a lot like a business owner, yeah?

When entrepreneurs are first starting their small businesses, I wager most aren’t thinking of themselves as a “Decider in Chief.” But from day one, they are. That’s the awesome and terrifying reality of working for yourself, a reality that only gets more rollercoaster-like as your business grows. You get to call all the shots. (Yay!) If they work, you’ve earned the glory. (Woohoo!) If they don’t, you’ll risk feeling like a failure. (Gulp.)

How you experience that rollercoaster-like entrepreneurial journey is directly influenced by the quality of your decision making. I actually think of them as one and the same thing: so goes your decision making, so goes your small business. Full stop.

Looking for the least turbulent ride possible as a small business owner? Then work on your decision-making skills. The more intelligent your decisions, the smoother your ride will be. That’s not to say decisions are easy; oftentimes, decisions are quite hard. But assuming you make smart decisions regardless of their difficulty, the tracks those decisions lay ahead of you will provide for a smoother and more successful journey.

There are many ways to develop your decision-making savvy. Experience alone in the wild business world is a good teacher. Experience-based learning, however, can often be reactionary. If you care to complement experience with a proactive counterpart, then invest some brainpower into learning and using a strategic framework

What Is a Strategic Framework?

Ask someone, “What is strategy?” and you’ll likely receive a dizzying array of responses. Strategy is challenging to pin down in discrete terms because (in most cases) it encompasses a composite of inputs: values, vision, market conditions, competitive advantages, intellectual property, available resources, intended outcome(s), etc.

A framework can help to organize such a fluid concept into focused and actionable terms that lend direction to your decision making. Said differently: a framework is what small businesses owners like you, me, Pat, and others need to harness our ideas into actions.

Here’s one textbook definition of a strategic framework: “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.”

The “plan” part of that definition is crucial. Applying a framework produces the plan. Without a framework, you don’t have a plan; instead, you have—at best—a set of loosely connected actions into which you’re investing time, energy, dollars, and other resources. These actions will hopefully, maybe produce desirable results and, thus, are maybe (but not necessarily) strategic in nature.

If that wishy-washy existence makes you squeamish, then you’d do well to adopt a strategic framework.

Frameworks vary. Some are surgical in purpose, like a SWOT analysis. Others are more mindset-oriented, like Blue Ocean. Some are built bottom-up within an organization to enable unified performance, like Objective and Key Results (OKRs). Others strive to enable unified performance from a top-down approach, like Objective, Goals, Strategies, and Metrics (OGSM).

There is no one right framework versus another. Frameworks are tools (a theme I’ll return to later in this article). How you wield a tool usually matters far more than the tool itself and/or in combination with other tools.

I believe in the use of several complementary strategic frameworks. If you’re a nerd like me, think Voltron. The collective is more powerful than any individual component. That said, I also believe in having a central strategic framework that anchors thoughtful decision-making at the business/enterprise-level. It’s the point of origin of all of our intentional actions.

For us at SPI Media, that’s the OGSM framework.

I was first exposed to the OGSM framework in my post-graduate leadership development program at Johnson & Johnson. This framework revolutionized how I thought about strategy development. It taught me how to not only nurture strategic ideas but rather, and far more importantly, develop strategic plans that connect vision (i.e., raw ideas turned into directional objectives) with outcomes (i.e., results described as goals) through deliberate actions (i.e., focused strategies).

The OGSM framework comes from the corporate world and isn’t as shiny as other options, like OKRs. That’s just fine with me because whatever it may lack in shininess it makes up for in substance.

Components of the OGSM Framework

I reeducate and reemphasize the OGSM framework every year with my SPI Media team during our annual strategic planning summit. In fact, the slide above comes courtesy of my strategic planning presentation deck. It summarizes the four key components of the model:

Objectives

  • A vision-based direction that aims to achieve something big
  • Can be quantitative in nature, further quantified by its goals
  • Must empower the company’s vision and mission statements as well as its core values

Goals

  • Quantifiable results that prove the objective was achieved
  • Must have at least one goal per objective; can have multiple goals
  • Goals are delegated to others consistent with their roles and responsibilities

Strategies

  • Prioritized work to serve in the pursuit of achieving the goals to which it is associated
  • Can be a combination of projects (one-time efforts) and/or practices (ongoing work)
  • Declared strategies should not be confused for tactics and tasks

Metrics (aka Measures)

  • Data points to collect, analyze, and review along the way to effectively govern the work
  • Over time, the analyzed metrics should produce trends that suggest positive progress
  • Tracking too many metrics is counterproductive; concentrate on the critical few KPIs

This framework provides a high-fidelity way of organizing your decision making at the strategy-level based upon the goals you’re aiming for to achieve an objective. When decision making is refined in this way, it reduces the waste of precious resources (e.g. time, money, energy) and elevates the probability of success. Success, however, is not guaranteed.

Caution: Strategic Frameworks Do Not Guarantee Success

Strategic frameworks—all of them—are tools, nothing more. Like any other tool, success comes not from its innate qualities but how it is used. So don’t make the mistake of believing that the quick adoption of a strategic framework will make all your dreams come true.

Instead, proceed with cautious optimism. Using a strategic framework will feel weird at first. That’s natural, so don’t stop at the awkward feeling. Also don’t stop using it when it fails to deliver upon your goals and objectives, because—frankly—that’s likely the first few times.

The not-so-secret secret to deriving value from a strategic framework is to use the framework repetitively. It’s muscle development, plain and simple, with the “muscle” in this context being your strategic brain—your critical thinking and decision-making abilities. The use of the tool builds and strengthens the muscle. At first, you will be weak. If you remain committed to the work, you will become strong. And from strength comes success.

How to Apply the OGSM Framework in Your Small Business

Start small. Start slow. Revisit frequently. That’s the best, most distilled and effective way to begin applying this framework, or any other, to your small business.

Specifically for the OGSM framework, I advise entrepreneurs to consider the following approach:

  1. Define your goals.
  2. Unify those goals into an overarching objective.
  3. Brainstorm all of the possible strategies you could choose to invest in that may help you achieve those goals and, thus, the objective.
  4. List out your key operational constraints including time/bandwidth to do work, monetary budgets, availability of other types of resources, relationships that may help, etc.
  5. Whittle down your strategies list to the critical few that you believe will generate the results you need to accomplish your goals that you can make work within your declared constraints
  6. Select a shortlist of metrics (1-3) that you’ll track over time as signals of your progress toward achieving your goals and objective.

Why You Should Start with Goals

There are two main reasons to start with goals:

  1. In my experience, very few entrepreneurs actually know what their goals are. Oh, I’m sure most think they know. But when I talk to small business owners, advise startup founders and CEOs, and generally participate in this spectrum of conversation in entrepreneurial communities, I’m reminded just how rare it is that someone has credibly defined goals in quantitative, rational, and achievable terms. If such high-quality goals don’t exist, then it’s arguable why you should bother developing an organized plan of strategic actions.
  2. Goals are a good “stage one rocket booster” for strategy development. Engaging at this level of the model first usually goes faster with less friction as compared to starting elsewhere within the model. That positive momentum is the “booster” needed to propel further good work elsewhere within the model.

If you’re new to organizing your decision-making in this way, then destress your work further by narrowing the timespan of your strategic plan to just three or six months. There is no rule that says you must develop a twelve-month annual plan on the first go.

Start Small with Your Chosen Strategic Framework

Remember: success with any strategic framework comes with repetition. So consider building one for the next three months, then execute against that plan, then analyze and evaluate the results. Learn from that experience and apply those learnings into the next three-month strategic plan. And so on and so forth until you’ve developed enough new strength and confidence with this caliber of strategic decision-making that you feel ready to take on a six-month strategic plan.

It’s easy to get lost in the trees and forget to see the forest when you engage in intentional strategy development. So pull back from time to time and revisit why you’re doing this work in the first place: to make smarter decisions that actually lead to the results you want for your small business while smoothing out the ride.

If the process and/or results aren’t to your liking, then chuck the plan you have and start over. You are your own Decider in Chief, after all. Embrace the heck out of that awesome and terrifying power, and you’ll be a-okay.

To learn more about building your business, read my guide, The SPI Beginner’s Guide to Business Fundamentals.

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5 ways to make your small business bigger

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Small business is proving to be big business amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Somewhat surprisingly, the entrepreneurial spirit is thriving, despite the economic recession. There’s no time like the present to consider ways to make your small business bigger.

Startups reached a record high during the 16-month period from March 2020 to June 2021. Data from NPR’s The Indicator from Planet Money reveals that people started more than 440,000 businesses in June 2021. The Wall Street Journal also reported more than 3.2 million applications for employer identification numbers (EINs) were filed in 2020.

Small businesses already in existence have managed to get creative with their business models and quickly pivoted their offerings to meet customer needs in 2020.

 

Startups just launching are equally cognizant of what it means to pivot, innovate on the fly, and retain the need to be nimble and resilient during uncertain times.

Ready to make your small business bigger?

As I write this in August 2021, it’s a bit difficult for me to predict how Q3 and Q4 of this year will pan out. However, what I do know is that small businesses can ensure their companies continue growing in 2021 and beyond if they take these five steps now — if they haven’t already:

  1. Build a website.
  2. Review your business plan.
  3. Build a business support system.
  4. Consider B Corporation Certification.
  5. Listen to your customers.

Let’s get started building your business!

1. Build a website

One of the most valuable tools in a small business’s toolkit is its website. Websites help create visibility for small businesses. Customers, both existing and new, are looking for your business online.

How can building a website benefit your business? Having a basic website acts as a home base, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront. It allows customers to find you, learn about your offerings and services, and contact you for more information.

More advanced websites may be optimized using keywords and relevant copy for SEO purposes. This allows the website to rank higher in search engines and to reach customers in local and national markets.

A well-designed website also may help create a seamless customer experience. Customers can make purchases through the site and businesses can use a website to accept payments and process orders. How else can you make your small business bigger by leveraging your website?

Showcase your offerings through high-resolution photography, establish a blog, link to social media platforms where your business maintains an active presence, and encourage customers to sign up for newsletters where they may learn more about new and exciting news about your business.

Surprisingly, statistics show that only 50% of small business owners have a website.

The good news is that it’s quite easy to get started creating a small business website. You may work alongside website building and hosting companies or hire a website developer to help build an impressive and functional website for your business.

Editor’s note: Want a beautiful website in no time? Try GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing Website Builder. It’s easy to use, visually appealing, and easily integrates with social media platforms.

2. Review your business plan

Many entrepreneurs draft a business plan when they start a business.

This document details what the business does, analyzes its target audience and competitors, examines cash flow and what makes the business profitable, and sets timelines to reach business goals.

As time progresses, small business owners are encouraged to return to their business plan to review it and refine its components.

Here are a few questions that may help you begin the review process.

  • What milestones was your business able to achieve after a year like 2020?
  • How long did it take to reach these goals? Will you need to adjust timelines to reach future goals?
  • Have there been changes to your company’s offerings, such as new products, services or pricing?
  • Is your target market growing or shrinking? For example, you may find that while your business originally intended to reach millennials, it has caught the interest (and sales) of Gen Z as well.
  • Do you have new members of management or staff? If so, you may decide to update the About Us section of your site with their biographies.
  • How has cash flow changed over the last year for the business? If it has improved dramatically from one quarter to the next, what factors contributed to these changes?

Remember that reviewing your business plan does not mean focusing on making a perfect business plan. This is an ever-changing document that is meant to better understand how each area of your business — from its financials to its marketing strategy — is being built for growth and success.

3. Build a business support system

As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t have to go it alone trying to make your small business bigger. There will be moments when you have questions you’d like to get answered, need a shoulder to lean on when moving through the ouch spots or simply want good people to cheer you on when you succeed.

Build up a business support system. Aside from close family and friends, some of the people you may wish to add to this system include mentors and business coaches who can provide relevant insight.

You can find mentors for your business through platforms like SCORE and even take workshops that provide free business training to learn new skills and acquire the necessary knowledge it takes to run your business.

 

Another crucial part of your support system should include individuals with legal and accounting backgrounds. Legal professionals can help if you have questions about your business formation and accountants or CPAs can answer your tax and bookkeeping questions.

4. Consider B Corporation Certification

Amid a year of civil unrest and the ongoing impact of climate change on our planet, customers are expecting more from businesses. They want to spend their hard-earned dollars with companies that are honest, transparent and walk the walk when it comes to sustainability.

Do you want to truly make a difference with your business and allow your company to be the best for the world rather than in the world?

You may consider obtaining B Corporation Certification, which allows a business to balance purpose and profit and use business as a force for good. Becoming a Certified B Corporation is a voluntary process that is completed with the assistance of B Lab.

Think of it as an audit. Most entities that decide to designate their businesses as Certified B Corps start off as limited liability companies or corporations. The business must pass a test known as the B Impact Assessment (BIA). The company also must be able to meet legal requirements and meet with a B Lab Standards analyst for an assessment review before they are approved as a Certified B Corporation.

Before you begin the process, consider consulting a legal professional to determine if a Certified B Corp designation is the right decision for your business.

5. Listen to your customers

Earlier, I mentioned that having a website can be a helpful tool in creating a seamless customer experience. Whether you’re launching a new startup or growing your existing business, take the time to listen to your customers.

Listening to customers allows businesses to do more than just respond to their needs.

 

This is the time to get to know and understand your customers. Problems facing customers during COVID-19 might be different than they were before the pandemic.

Dine-in restaurants, for example, initially dealt with the issue of being able to serve customers. In the past, a customer would be able to enjoy a meal indoors, but that was not an option during the first few months of the pandemic. Many restaurants resolved this issue by listening to customers and providing take-out and delivery services. Some even installed drive-throughs to make it easier to place orders and help customers get exactly what they needed.

Listen to customers and pay attention to the needs of your target market. Identify their problems and pain points.

How can your offerings act as a solution? Is it possible to develop new products if your existing services are unable to help solve these problems?

Study and plan how you will best be able to serve customers in calm and challenging times alike. Reach out for customer feedback on a year-round basis and keep a sharp eye on customer behavior changes and audience interests. The bigger the business, the more investors will take interest in your startup — and its loyal customer base!

The above content should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

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Planning your September social media calendar with GoDaddy Studio

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Content for days

When it comes to planning your social media content, the important thing is to think about what engages your target audience most. Businesses across varying industries can utilize their social content for strategic advertising purposes. Using GoDaddy Studio can help you plan your September social media calendar more efficiently with tools to create content based on this month’s trending events.

Examples of social content you can plan for this month include:

  • Auto specials
  • Live music events
  • Outdoor craft fairs
  • Last-chance summer clothing offers
  • Late summer meal specials at restaurants

Below, we’ll share our best tips for success and give you plenty of ideas to plan out your September social media calendar.

Key tips for a successful September social media calendar

Before we dive into specific dates to start planning for, it’s important we review a few logistics that’ll help your social campaigns attract more viewers. Think about these points as you get started.

Go for a design that’s warm and cozy

As you look forward to planning your September social media calendar, think about adopting a fall look for your marketing campaigns. This could mean adorning your messages with warm hues like:

  • Burnt orange
  • Lemony yellow
  • Deep crimson

Anything that inspires a sense of coziness is good here. You can add these touches to:

  • Seasonal sales
  • New ranges
  • Fall menus and more

Related: GoDaddy Studio — Create eye-catching imagery for your brand

Be timely with seasonal trends

For many companies, September signifies the end of the back-to-school season. This is the final time for industries in this area to do a big push before families finish their shopping for the new school year.

Consider targeting this seasonal trend in your September social media calendar if your business specializes in:

  • School supplies
  • Kids’ clothing
  • Meal prep
  • Family health
  • Daycare

Remember, strategic social media calendars are built around your target audience. Cater to their needs accordingly by highlighting your key products at the right time.

Don’t forget about global audiences

If you’re connected to global audiences in different locations (and if you’re selling online, there’s a good chance you are),  you’ll want to think about ways to hone in on other seasonal trends.

Take our friends located in the Southern Hemisphere, for example. This is the time of year they head into spring, which is something to note on your September social media calendar. If you do choose to reach those customers with seasonal posts, try to target posts directly to those regions, so your North American customers aren’t targeted with spring posts meant for your Australian customers.

In this case, you can use the wonder of nature to position your brand firmly in the minds of those looking to start afresh. Florists are a natural fit here, but so are companies working in outdoor space like:

  • Wellness
  • Fashion
  • Restaurants and more

National and religious holidays

Celebratory get-togethers are much sweeter this year now that lockdown restrictions are starting to ease up.

Expect folks to be more excited about upcoming national and religious holidays.

Take advantage of this enthusiasm where you can on your September social media calendar.

Labor Day

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September unofficially marks the end of summer in the United States. It typically signifies a time of getting together to enjoy the last days of the season.

But for many online businesses, it also means planning out a September social media calendar with events or specials focused on spending time with loved ones and small gatherings (think barbecues, picnics, and outdoor fairs).

Rosh Hashanah

This holiday falls on September 6th and is a time when the Jewish community celebrates a new year and a fresh start. For brands, this is a time to send well wishes to your Jewish community, as they spend time together on this special day.

Yom Kippur

September 15th and 16th are days that are reserved for forgiveness and spiritual reflection within the Jewish community.  Social messages that wish to acknowledge this holiday should be more humble and avoid celebratory or excess tones.

20th anniversary of 9/11

September 11th is a time for all Americans to remember and honor the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11. It’s also a time for ordinary citizens to recognize and appreciate first responders and military personnel working hard within their communities.

Your message shouldn’t be celebratory here. Rather, it should portray a level of respect and appreciation, and an acknowledgement of the anniversary.

Sports and entertainment

When planning your September social media calendar, consider any sports-related content that may appeal to your audience. The U.S. Open and college football are two major sporting events that occur during this month, so let’s dive in on how you can tap into this category through social planning.

The U.S. Open

The U.S. Open continues this month and runs up until September 12th. This means you’ll want to get your balls in a row and your chalk marks lined up, as you make a play for all things tennis.

Key industries that would benefit here include any sports-related:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Cafes

If you’re an outdoor venue, you could also consider organizing a viewing party to drum up a celebratory atmosphere.

Create specials and share them to your social platforms to draw customers in.

College football

If you haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon for college football season, you’re not too late. These events go on until the championship game in early January and can benefit businesses like:

  • Sports bars
  • Retailers specializing in outdoor equipment
  • Sporting good shops

Since many fans weren’t able to cheer for their teams in social gatherings last year, now’s the time to get in on the heightened excitement. Plan ahead on your September social media calendar and celebrate these events if it relates to your business. This is especially important if you’re in a college town with a big football presence, like Ann Arbor, Michigan or College Station, Texas.

Awareness months and days

September includes some important awareness events that you can use to educate and inspire your audience. Of course, this will depend on the space you’re in and the brand voice you have. But planning your September social media calendar with the right choices will help elevate your online engagement.

International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day falls on September 8th, and it’s the perfect time to promote all the great literary minds, works and wisdom of the world.

Anyone in the education industry can get involved here, but here are other example industries that should participate:

  • Charities promoting literacy
  • Bookshops
  • Booksellers
  • Independent authors
  • Libraries

All of the above have a chance to step into the spotlight on a day that falls squarely within their area of expertise.

Deaf Awareness Month

National Deaf Awareness Month is about raising awareness for anyone with varying degrees of hearing loss, ranging from mild to moderate or severe cases.

Charities can obviously use this time for very targeted messaging, but any brand can create content that centers around hearing loss education.

Be sure to include subtitled videos, too. You can create them directly around the theme or have them relate to more generalized content you’re posting.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Spanning a month, from September 15th to October 15th, National Hispanic Heritage Month nudges Hispanic-owned businesses to the fore.

More than just a promotional window, this is a great opportunity to tell your brand’s story.  It could also deepen your connection to your audience — especially when it comes to engaging more with your Hispanic followers.

Any business can use this opportunity to connect with their Hispanic audience. But the following industries should prioritize this a bit more on their September social media calendar:

  • Restaurants
  • Educational institutions
  • Non-profit organizations

When it comes to your social campaigns, think about connecting through:

  • Dialogue
  • Awareness
  • Pure celebration

These techniques are great for brands looking to start conversations within the Hispanic community, but make sure to be open to learning more along the way.

International Day of Peace

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the world needs more peace. International Day of Peace, on September 21st, is the perfect time to educate or inspire your audience with concepts of goodwill.

Charities, educational institutions, political organizations, and health and wellness brands have great opportunities to plan campaigns for International Peace Day.

Again, this can be an excellent theme to connect with your audience in a positive way. You should especially consider adding it to your September social media calendar if this message closely aligns with your brand.

Trending months and days

If you’re looking to celebrate the less serious stuff, try adding these trending events to your September social media calendar.

National Yoga Month

Join the many yogis across the U.S. and unite with them to say “namaste” all month long. Anyone offering the following products or services can get involved:

  • Yoga classes
  • Retail (think yoga gear and equipment)
  • Health and wellness brands
  • Fitness brands
  • Travel brands (yoga retreat, anyone?)

Invite your audience to meet you in downward dog with fun graphics or create a hashtag challenge that promotes physical and mental well-being.

World Heart Day

Social ads for World Heart Day

Our hearts literally keep us alive as they pump blood around our body to our vital organs. They also have metaphorical references in books and poems that have spanned for centuries. But World Heart Day on September 29th is all about educating people on the importance of the magical pump in our chests.

Health and wellness businesses, medical organizations and nonprofits, food and beverage brands, and doctors’ offices can promote World Heart Day on social media.

Social campaigns that target this day should focus on healthy foods and habits that contribute to good heart health.

World Tourism Day

Never has the tourism industry needed our support like they do now. While the global pandemic put a stop to most international travel last year, this industry is still curtailed to varying degrees in different countries.

ocial media ad examples for World Tourism Day

ocial media ad examples for World Tourism Day

Still, many industries can continue to celebrate World Tourism Day on September 27th by promoting a sense of wanderlust, including:

  • Travel agencies
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Airlines
  • Entertainment spaces (think casinos, shopping, or popular tourist destinations)

As more countries begin to open up more, the travel industry should seize every opportunity they can on this day.

National Video Games Day

If you’re in the gaming space, you’re in an industry that continues to be on the up and up. Video games continue to take center stage in popular youth culture and many gamers celebrate in the U.S. on September 12th.

Social media ads for National Video Games day

Social media ads for National Video Games day

This the perfect opportunity to engage with your audience through:

  • Giveaways
  • Specials
  • Competitions or other events

If your brand’s online persona aligns with any humorous or witty audiences, this is a day you should mark on your September social media calendar.

International Podcast Day

The popularity of podcasts continues to grow exponentially – not least due to our homebound habits in the wake of the pandemic. If you haven’t already, you ought to at least consider getting in on the podcast action. September 30th is International Podcast Day, so it’s a great day to launch a podcast or promote the one you already have.

Podcast image examples

Podcast image examples

If you’re not producing podcasts, you could also showcase the ones you love that relate best to your business and industry. You can do this by promoting it through a blog post or social media.

Update your designs and promos accordingly

Posting on a special theme relating to one of the events above is easy and impactful.

You can use these opportunities to update your brand identity for maximum impact.

Try doing this for a day, a week or month that aligns with the holiday you’re celebrating.

Mood boards for social media ad inspirationMood boards for social media ad inspiration
Consider creating a fall mood board for your brand.

Having your templates ready and accessible in a tool like GoDaddy Studio is a super simple way to keep the design process quick and uncomplicated. When it’s made easy, creating your content during the month of September can literally save hours out of your day. Utilize this extra time to plan your September social media calendar strategically with events that relate to your business most.

Create some beautiful visual content for the month of September, with GoDaddy Studio. Try it for for free now.



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The ultimate guide to optimizing a website for lead generation

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You’re probably creating websites with the goal of connecting with more customers and growing a business. But if you want to connect with more customers, you need a lead generation guide to help you to optimize those websites.

This process involves finding ways to reach customers, like optimizing the site for search engines, as well as setting up a site so that it’s designed to generate as many leads as possible from the traffic it generates.

In this post, we’re going to cover everything that you need to know about lead generation.

We’ll start with an introduction to lead generation and why it’s important. Then, we’ll share some actionable tips that you can implement on a website to start generating more leads today.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of generating interest in a product or service. A person who is interested in what you have to offer is called a “lead.” Once you generate a potential lead, you want to “capture” their information, which is why you’ll see the term “lead capture” used alongside “lead generation.”

Typically, you’ll “capture” a person’s information using some type of form or chat — this could be a form in the site’s content, a popup, a chatbot, a notification bar, etc.

Lead generation isn’t just about collecting the contact information of as many people as possible, though.

You want to go after qualified leads, which are people who really do have a genuine interest in a product or service and are likely to convert into paying customers or clients.

Typically, lead generation works something like this:

  1. You attract traffic to a website using strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing. You want to try to reach the type of people who might be interested in the product(s) or service(s) offered.
  2. Once you get people on a site, you use web forms or chatbots to collect their information. You can then store that information in a customer relationship management tool (CRM) to more easily track and engage with leads.
  3. With a person’s information in the CRM, it’s time to start converting them into a customer, either with additional marketing content or direct sales (or both!).

Why is lead generation important for a website?

When you’re building websites for your clients, optimizing for lead generation is very important.

Your goal for the website probably isn’t to just have “a website.” Instead, you want the website to help achieve a business need. In most cases, that business need is getting more customers, which requires lead generation.

When building websites, it’s easy to get caught up in the design and just focus on creating a great-looking end product. But having a good-looking website isn’t the only thing, or even the most important thing. You also need to have a website that gets results.

Think about this… would you rather have:

  • A stunning website that wins design awards and generates 50 leads per month.
  • A good-looking website that won’t win design awards, but generates 250 leads per month.

Of course most people want both! But if you had to pick, option #2 would be the best, right?

And that’s the really important thing to understand.

If you can move beyond creating just a website and get to a website that generates leads, the business will be much more successful, with a steady stream of potential customers for whatever it’s offering.

How to optimize a website for lead generation

Now that you know what lead generation is and why it’s important, let’s get into some tactics for how you can optimize the websites that you build for lead generation.

Optimize for search engines

Ranking your site’s content in search engines like Google is one of the best ways to reach qualified leads. With search engines, you already know that people are searching for keywords that relate to a business — all you need to do is get them onto the site to capture their information.

Here are some tips to do that:

Optimize content to match search queries

One of the best ways to generate qualified leads is to create content that potential leads might be interested in. You can then rank that content in Google so that people find it when they’re searching.

The content doesn’t have to be directly promotional. In fact, it’s often more authentic to not be overtly promotional in the content that you create. Instead of trying to sell people right away, focus more on getting them onto a site and collecting their details — you can always convert them later on once you have a relationship.

For example, let’s say the site is for online personal training and your client is looking to reach potential clients. You could write an article on a topic like “the best ways to get bigger biceps.”

This article isn’t directly promotional — it’s just providing information. However, the same types of people who are interested in learning how to get bigger biceps are also the types of people who might be interested in hiring a personal trainer to help them achieve their goals.

Once you get them on the site, you can capture their information and start working to convert them into customers.

Of course, creating content is only one part of the puzzle — you also need to optimize the content for SEO. To do that, here are some tips:

  • Perform keyword research — Keyword research helps you discover the queries that people are searching for so that you can match your content to the exact phrases people use in search engines.
  • Write for humans, but pay attention to SEO — You should always write content for humans, but it’s still important to include the target keyword in your post, especially in the title and periodically in the body of content.

You can learn more about content optimization in this post.

Install essential SEO plugins

If you’re trying to optimize a WordPress site for SEO, it’s essential to install a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin so that you can implement good on-page SEO best practices.

A good SEO plugin will help you:

  • Set SEO titles and meta descriptions — These let you control what users see when a site appears in Google.
  • Analyze SEO optimization — Many SEO plugins can analyze content for a focus keyword and help make improvements, such as optimizing the keyword density of content.
  • Implement technical SEO — SEO plugins help you implement important tactics like redirecting attachment pages and just generally making the core WordPress software more SEO friendly.
  • Integrate with Google Search Console — Plugins can help you integrate a site with Google Search Console to track its performance in Google search.

There are lots of great SEO plugins, but here are some of the best:

All of the plugins above have free versions available at WordPress.org.

Optimize for Page Experience (speed and user experience)

In 2021, Google will launch its new Page Experience update, which is an update to its search algorithm to factor in page speed and other user experience metrics as SEO ranking factors.

If you want to set up a site for success in Google, that means you also need to focus on optimizing the website for performance.

There are a lot of ways that you can optimize for performance:

  • Use fast, performance-optimized web hosting.
  • Use page caching to reduce server processing time.
  • Minify your site’s JavaScript and CSS code to reduce its size without changing functionality.
  • Reduce the size of your pages, as paying special attention to image optimization can usually result in large reductions in page size because images account for about half of the size of the average web page. You can also use server compression technologies like Gzip and Brotli.
  • On WordPress, make sure you’re using a lightweight theme and try to limit the number of plugins that you use to only those that are essential.
  • Consider using a content delivery network (CDN), especially if your site has a global audience.

You can use tools like PageSpeed Insights and WebPageTest to analyze your site’s performance. In general, Google recommends that your site’s Largest Contentful Paint time be under 2.5 seconds to do well in the Page Experience algorithm update.

Optimize for Security

A site’s security can play a key role in lead generation, as security issues can reduce trust with your potential leads and also cause issues with your search engine optimization efforts.

Use HTTPS

HTTPS is a technical protocol that encrypts the data that moves between visitors’ web browsers and a website. In order to activate HTTPS on a website, you need to install an SSL certificate.

There are two ways that using HTTPS can improve a site’s lead generation:

First, using HTTPS boosts trust with visitors and lets them know that the data they submit via lead generation forms is secure. In fact, if you have a lead generation form on a site and you don’t use HTTPS, some web browsers (like Chrome) will even mark the page as insecure — you can see an example in this blog post from the Chromium team.

Second, using HTTPS can also help you optimize a site for search engines, which is important for reasons that we discussed in the previous section. Since 2014, Google has used HTTPS as a small ranking factor in its search results, so adapting HTTPS will give your website a slight edge in the search results. Every little bit counts when it comes to SEO, so you shouldn’t ignore any advantage that you can give your site, no matter how small it is.

Consider a security plugin

Beyond using HTTPS, it’s just generally important to keep your site secure. Malicious actors are always on the lookout to find ways to infect your site with malware or spammy SEO links. Having your site infected will hurt trust with your potential leads and can also cause issues with your site’s search engine optimization, as Google removes infected sites from its results and many browsers will block access to infected sites (e.g. Google Chrome Safe Browsing).

To help mitigate threats, you can use a security plugin like Sucuri Security for WordPress.

Optimize for mobile

When you’re optimizing for lead generation, it’s important to pay special attention to mobile visitors.

It’s easy to focus on desktop visitors when you’re optimizing a site for conversions, but more than half of all website traffic happens on mobile devices nowadays, so you’re missing out on a huge source of potential leads if you don’t optimize for mobile lead generation.

Implement response design

Optimizing for mobile starts with responsive design at a minimum.

What is responsive design?

It’s the idea that your website will automatically adjust to show an optimized design no matter what device a visitor is using. Someone browsing on a desktop will see a desktop-optimized design and someone browsing on a smartphone will see a smartphone-optimized design.

Nowadays, most content management systems (CMS) include built-in features or themes to make responsive websites. For example, most themes for WordPress are responsive by default. The same is true for most website builders.

Test for mobile-friendliness

In addition to having a responsive design, you also want to make sure that a site doesn’t have any mobile usability issues that might make it difficult for mobile visitors to interact.

Google will also start using mobile-friendliness as an SEO ranking factor in its Page Experience update, so optimizing for mobile-friendliness is another useful tactic to optimize for SEO.

To see if a site has any issues, you can use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test tool. The tool will flag any issues on your site and give you some tips for how to fix the problem.

Google Search Console also includes a report that lets you see mobile issues that Google discovers.

Optimize for lead capture and conversion

If you’ve done everything so far, you’re ready for the last step — the actual lead generation forms.

There are lots of different ways that you can capture leads’ information. Here are some popular options:

  • Web forms — Place lead capture forms in the actual content, either on a dedicated landing page or as part of a page, such as in the sidebar.
  • Popups — Experiment with different types of popups, such as modals, slide-ins, notification bars, and more.
  • Live chat — Use live chat and/or chatbots as an interactive way to capture lead information in a more conversational format.

Tools like HubSpot can help you create customizable web forms to place anywhere on your site. HubSpot also offers a free WordPress plugin that lets you create forms from inside your WordPress dashboard, along with other types of lead capture tactics including popups and chatbots.

When creating your forms, you need to think about what fields you include in your forms. There’s a fine line between using too few form fields and too many. As a rough rule…

  • More form fields equal lower conversation rates for your form.
  • Fewer form fields equal less qualified leads because you don’t have as much information about a person.

For most businesses, the optimal lead capture form will be somewhere in the middle. You want enough form fields to add at least some lead qualification, but not so many fields that you discourage visitors from filling out the form and lower conversion rates.

Beyond the form itself, you should also experiment with different placements and lead capture methods.

For example, you can see if a modal popup generates more qualified leads than a basic web form. Or if your interactive chatbot is more effective than the popup.

Experimenting with these types of details can help you boost your conversion rates, which means more leads end up in your CRM.

Use our lead generation guide to start optimizing websites today

If you want to create successful websites, optimizing for lead generation is key. Having a website is great, but having a website that generates leads is what will help your business grow and succeed.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to what lead generation is and why you need to care about it.

We’ve also covered some of the most important areas that you need to focus on if you want to optimize your website for lead generation.

Implement these tips today and you’ll be generating more leads in no time.

The post The ultimate guide to optimizing a website for lead generation appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.



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