A new year brings new determination to reinvent ourselves, and to commit now to a course of actions that will develop a part of ourselves that has either fallen into neglect or has been on the backburner so long we don’t remember putting it there. Every year, we resolve to lose weight, travel the world or learn a new language – we commit to taking steps in January that will produce personal growth by December.
And it’s the same with your digital brand.
Maintaining your digital brand is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires attention throughout the entire year – and beyond. It’s a digital lifestyle transformation.
- The internet is littered with abandoned blogs that were launched with a post every day for a month before sputtering out.
- If you dig through your inbox, you’ll probably find the fossilized remains of newsletters that simply stopped showing up.
- We’ve all stumbled onto social media pages that haven’t kept up with the rest of the company – mismatched branding, sporadic irrelevant posts – that cause us to wonder if the company is still operational or if it’s a fan-made page or, worse, an impostor.
These are all projects that were initiated with the fire and enthusiasm of a gym membership in January, but by February the treadmill is already covered in cobwebs.
New Years’ resolutions are more famous for their failures than their successes, but this year will be different, right?
At LaunchUX, we are asking you to commit (or recommit) to your digital presence this year. Commit to mobile optimization. Commit to security. Commit to content. Commit to consistency. It’s an investment that will make your 2018 better than 2017 and prepare your business to continue crushing it right into 2019.
Here are four things that your business should have been doing in 2017 that you will definitely, without a doubt, commit to and be successful at in 2018.
1. Commit to optimizing your site for mobile.
As a whole, internet traffic is increasing, and within that trend, mobile traffic is growing while desktop traffic is shrinking. This probably isn’t surprising as you’re probably (statistically speaking) reading this blog on your smartphone or tablet. What might be surprising is that Google is now placing a larger emphasis on a site’s mobile loading speed in its search rankings.
As a company that is focused on user experience (the “UX” in “LaunchUX”), we are aware of the negative effect that a page that loads in seconds can have on the customer (a second is like an hour on the internet). But now that it affects your SEO ranking, the stakes are higher and there are no more excuses. Provide your customers with the seamless mobile (“Mobile Sites Vs. Apps”) online experience they deserve while making it easier to be found. It’s a win-win.
2. Commit to producing regular, relevant content.
While we were writing resolution number one, we could almost hear you groaning about how SEO and mobile optimization will ruin the poetry of your site and make it sound like it was written by some sort of robot programmed to pump out keywords. First of all, Google has already prepared for this by rewarding quality content that is relevant to your field of expertise. Which means that good content is rewarded. Keywords still play a role, but Google wants to send its customers to the best site on a subject (a combination of relevance, quality and speed). Second, robots have come along way. At LaunchUX, we still prefer the human touch, but the use of AI in content marketing is something to keep an eye on.
The point is that you should commit to good content (“Content Relevance is King”) that is optimized for SEO and published regularly. Avoid the hard sell. There’s a time and a place for it, but customers (and now Google) want your content to establish expertise while engaging the reader (dare we say “entertaining?”).
3. Commit to securing your digital presence.
Because new online threats are constantly emerging, securing your website requires constant vigilance and maintenance. At a minimum, your site will require constant updates and patches that need to be installed as they become available. (“Five Questions You Should Ask Your Web Hosting Provider Before Your Site Goes Live”). On top of that, businesses should give serious consideration to securing their site with an SSL certificate. They are no longer exclusive to e-commerce sites for several reasons (“SSL Isn’t Just for E-Commerce”.)
First, it helps your SEO. Google is more inclined to direct customers to sites that are secure (in addition being optimized for mobile and filled with engaging content). Second, your customers deserve to have all of their interactions with your site encrypted even if it’s just their name and e-mail address, let alone a financial transaction. When you ask someone to sign up for your mailing list, that customer is trusting you with something that is very important and personal to them, so take care of it. Plus, more and more customers are looking for the little green lock at the top of their screen before they take any actions on your site. The SSL is a sign of credibility in an increasingly sketchy online world, which is why both Google and your customers are looking for it.
4. Commit to consistency across your brand.
Brand consistency is one thing that independent businesses can do right now to put themselves on the same footing as their corporate chain competitors. McDonald’s is a classic example. From the arches on the sign to burgers on the menu, McDonald’s delivers a consistent, predictable experience every time in every location. Your business might only have a single physical location (or zero locations if you are an online-only business), but it probably has several digital locations that need to be maintained whether it’s a website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Create a brand stylebook and stick to it. And make sure everyone producing content for your business sticks to it. Use the same branding across all of your digital locations. Logos, color palettes, taglines, images (“Tips for Establishing Your Brand”). When they’re not all updated in unison, the result is – at best – unprofessional. Your customers should never have to wonder if the page is really “you” or not. Nor should they ever wonder if your account is still being maintained. If your customers look at your online presence and conclude that you are no longer in business, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“Post good content and post it frequently.”
If this all sounds complicated or difficult to maintain, well, the truth is that it can be. But a good web building, hosting and branding company can provide as much or as little help as you want. Some people want to turn the keys over to professionals to make sure their branding, content and security are maintained year-round (like a landscaping crew). Others might only need some coaching or a few consultations to figure out where to start and then they do the heavy lifting (like a personal trainer). (“Social Media Coach”).
Stay active. Don’t get discouraged if you slip and miss a few posts on your blog or your social media pages. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. The stakes have never been higher for your digital reputation.
It all boils down to this mantra, that you should repeat to yourself over and over throughout 2018:
“Post good content and post it frequently.”