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When Customers Visit Your Website, Make Sure They Stick Around

by David T. Bruce

We have discussed the importance of remaining visible in the social media community, making the analogy that regular blog posts and social media updates are as important to your business as are product placements in a brick-and-mortar business. We can extend this analogy to the store front – the customer’s first impression of your business. If what people see on the outside is attractive, they are liable to come inside. The book is judged by the cover, so to speak. However, if what the customer finds inside is lacking, then they are as liable to leave and not return. Once the customer is inside, you have to give that person a reason to stay and a reason to come back. The same goes for your website.

Many websites employ phenomenal graphics that are pleasing to the eye, focused on creating a landing page that draws consumers in. Often enough, however, the implied message on a landing page is not what is found within the pages of the site. If your information is negligible, superfluous, or repetitive, your customers will not stay. This is even more critical online than it is in the brick-and-mortar world. You only have a few seconds to keep consumers interested enough to keep exploring your site.

As you develop your content marketing strategy, make sure that what you advertise on the cover of your website is what your visitors will find on your web pages. And be sure to fill your pages with relevant, current and content that is regularly updated. Engage your audience and encourage them to engage with you. Not only must you provide your visitors with what they think they want, you must provide them with what you think they need. Provide relevant content and share meaningful links to other significant content.

Yes; how your website appears is critical. But the content inside your website is the stuff that defines who you are and what you have to offer visitors. Ensure that you give your website content as much attention as you would your website storefront, maybe even more so.

Writing and Grammar are Important, Especially in a Virtual World

by David T. Bruce

Most of us would never consider going to a job interview wearing less than our Sunday best. Our hair would be properly groomed, our teeth would be brushed and our oratory skills would be as polished as our résumés. What we wear as business professionals matters, because people draw conclusions and form first impressions about us based on how we look and how we promote ourselves.

Perhaps an advantage of working in front of a computer screen or from a handheld device is that you don’t have to put on a front if you are having a bad hair day. An advantage of working from home and building virtual professional relationships is that your clients and co-workers don’t have to know that you are working in your sweats or pajamas. On the Internet, clothes don’t make the man or woman. You can make your first impression based on your credentials, your résumé.

Another powerful way to make a good first impression – or not – is in the way that you use language. Simply put: Words are your wardrobe. As your résumé communicates your experience, your choice and use of words reflects your professionalism, your voice and your personality. Consider the number of business letters, blogs, emails and tweets that you post, each highlighting these attributes. Poor grammar and sentence structure, as well as communiqués sprinkled with spelling and proofreading errors, communicate either a language deficit or a lack of attention to detail, leaving the reader with a bad first impression of your skills and ultimately of you as a professional.

Poor grammar is indeed a communication crisis that becomes evident when we speak and when we write. And improving grammar certainly doesn’t mean that writing needs to become snobbish and long-winded. On the contrary, in many instances, writing can be improved by using smaller words and shorter sentences.

Given the immediacy of social media and the expediency in which communication is delivered, the benefit of taking time to write, edit and proofread professionally becomes fundamental. Review your grammar rules and review your writing before sending, posting or tweeting.

Will Rogers said that “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and in the virtual business realm of the Internet, that chance has global implications and may  instantaneously become extinct with a click or a swipe. Conceivably, you might not get a first chance to make any impression. So make your impression count.