The countdown is on.
The next 7 days the Business Advent Challenge will take a little more focus. A little review, a little planning. A lot of growth.
Let’s continue to advent your business.
Got here late? You can still do the challenge! Go for it!
Take Durham AV Group’s Business Advent Challenge!
Part 2: Review, Plan, Act!
Day 15: Website Review!
Well it’s almost 2015. Here’s hoping you have a website. If you don’t – give us a shout! If you do, lets take a look and see if it’s up to standard. Sometimes our businesses change and evolve and our website stays the same. So there are a few things to review, take note of, and update. If you’re one of the one of the 74.6 million WordPress users, we trust you’ll find this last part of the challenge useful. Let’s take a quick peek at some very important pages on your website, treat this like a checklist and make some notes alongside.
The Landing Page (the “front page”)
Is it pleasing to the eye? Full of clutter? If your site is circa 1999 – you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Can someone unfamiliar with your business get a clear sense of what you’re offering?
Do you have a call to action?
It should be easy to navigate your site. You should at least have a menu at the top of your page (on ALL pages) and at the footer of every page.
What about social icons? Can visitors follow and share easily?
The About Page
All of the above applies.
Take another look and see if you can update your story. When is the last time you’ve even read it? Is it about your company or the people who make it work?
Hint – look around. You’ll see lately that many beautiful websites talk about not only their company, but their founders and top talent. (and add in why they love what they do)
How is your business unique and how did you get to where you are? Why and what do you love about your customers / readers / audience?
Pictures of your brick and mortar (if you have one) and people are very powerful. Pets seem to be a trend as well. Spot can help you with Facebook likes!
The Contact Page
Be sure all of your contact info is up to date.
Your hours (include the timezone)
Turnaround time for callbacks
Include a map if you have a store front / brick and mortar.
If you have different emails for different departments – be sure to be clear on whom and how to contact.
For inquiries take a look at the questions you get regularly. If many are the same consider adding a Q&A page, or a community.
A way to give feedback is also very important. Ask for it!
Newsletter sign up
Well, there is no point in having a blog if you don’t use it. If you have a blog, there is no hard and fast rule on how often you need to post.
Some say once a week is good. Some put out posts every day. Posting and sharing relevant material that relates to your business in some way can help you grow your business.
So if you are planning to – or fell off the blogging hemisphere then make a promise to yourself to do it, and brainstorm some topics and things you would want to read about if you were visiting a site like yours.
Before you go revamping your whole website on your own – or with someone’s help – there’s more to this in the next few days. For now, keep your “website review” handy.
If you think of other things you like or dislike, write them down.
Lastly, have you had comments from customers about the usability of your website? Take note, especially if you’ve heard it more than once.
Day 16 : Social Media Audit
Sure you’ve got a Facebook page, a Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and so on. Are you sure you need all of them and whether you are using them to your greatest advantage?
Time for a Social Media Audit. Here is the one I use: Hootsuite’s Social Media Audit Template
This may take you a few good hours to complete – it’s well worth it to do this at least once a year!
I can’t say enough good things about Hootsuite. If you aren’t using it to help you manage your social presence – give it a go! There are free and paid plans available.
The best 2 pieces of advice I can give here:
#1 post consistently – don’t fall by the wayside and be forgotten.
#2 be SOCIAL – ask for opinions, have a conversation, be genuinely interested. Like you would be in person
Day 17 : Secure Your Website
Considering there are a fair amount of attacks on websites nowadays it’s safe to assume it can happen to you.
If you are handling ANY type of sensitive information including names, addresses, credit cards, and so on – you need to secure your site.
Not to mention it is a real pain to try to restore your site and whitelist it again if it’s been blacklisted. It can hurt your sales, your company, your customers and you.
The first thing you should do is backup your website. If you using WordPress – well there are a ton of ways to do this. If you don’t know how, you can hire a company or learn.
One service we highly recommend is Manage WP . They have a myriad of services that will give you the best piece of mind. Scheduled backups (including to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive), Google Analytics integration, and extra protection through one of our favourite WordPress security companies – Sucuri.
2 highly recommended security Plugins for WordPress Users:
Now, if you don’t use WordPress and really don’t want to change that – Sucuri can still protect your site! They offer website AntiVirus and Firewall, malware detection, cleanup and prevention, and so much more.
Both of these plugins compliment each other and I recommend you install and configure both.
If for some reason you download and have a hard time installing these amazing plugins, we do provide a service to install and configure plugins.
Both iThemes and Sucuri do provide plenty of well drafted documentation for you to do it on your own, but for the less technical person, or for the sake of time, we would be happy to assist.
You’ll also want to look into (and purchase) an SSL certificate. Many customers will refuse to do business online with a site that has no SSL Certificate.
One of the best places we know to get an SSL is NameCheap. Google has even announced that they will start ranking sites higher just by having one.
Day 18 : Sumo your site
Even if you have nifty social buttons enabling your viewers to like / share / follow you, sometimes they also need an upgrade.
Perhaps the design isn’t up to date or you need to give your viewers a bit of a push to subscribe to your newsletter.
The easiest thing you can do to increase all of the above is install the SumoMe plugin.
Who doesn’t like free tools to grow your website traffic? (they have some great paid ones as well) Haven’t heard of it?
Last time we checked there was 1,115,342,342 visitors enjoying SumoMe.
It is super easy to install and configure, and has a ton of awesome features to help you grow your business. Yes, we aren’t the biggest fan of pop-ups either – but they happen to increase sales and conversions. Still not convinced?
Try it for free yourself and see. or just use the social sharing buttons. It’s up to you.
Day 19 : SEO made easy
So, you need SEO (yes you do) but you don’t understand the first thing about it, or maybe you know a little. Let’s make life easy and get you to install Yoast WordPress SEO.
Here is a fantastic and informative article about Search Engine Optimization by Yoast.
If you took our advice and have started / updated or are maintaining a blog you’ll want to go back to each blog post and enter in some extra information that the Yoast Plugin asks for.
As one of the most popular and trusted WordPress plugins out there, you’d be doing yourself a huge favour to install this immediately. You’ll get a little tour on the plugin settings page to make you more comfortable using the plugin, and once you’ve tried it once or twice it’s pretty easy to keep up with.
You’ll also be able to verify your website in the Webmaster tools section. This is the first thing we do when we set up Yoast’s plugin.
Be sure to go through the whole tour and take time to understand all the options. If you use twitter, be sure to set up Twitter Cards through the settings.
More on Twitter Cards here.
Day 20: YearCompass
We came across this booklet and just had to share. Not hard to see why they had over 50K downloads last year.
YearCompass is a global movement that mobilises people to sort out their last year and plan their next year to have a greater awareness of their lives. DOWNLOAD HERE
It’s a beautiful way to close the past year, and plan the next one. This workbook isn’t just for business.
You take a look at yourself as well. A lot of us lose ourselves in our jobs or just along life’s path. this really grounds you and helps you find your way back to where you want to be. Set aside a few hours for this one.
Before you begin watching this short video, make sure that you have the subtitles / closed captioning enabled.
Day 21: Make a NEW Schedule
Somewhere along the way I bet you’ve said to yourself “there’s not enough hours in the day for this” Well, that’s just not true. Sometimes, things happen and other things get put on the back burner, postponed, rescheduled for whatever reason. Sometimes they are beyond your control.
That is ok.
But that’s not what we are talking about here. Let’s focus on what you can control. After finishing up all of the challenges you’ll find that you’ll need to keep up with some of it.
The best thing you can do is to schedule the time in to be sure you won’t fall behind.
This is where practising the Pomodoro Technique can really pay off. By now I’m sure you’re an expert at it!
Stuck on how to do it still? Try reading some articles on Lifehacker.
If you’re a procrastinator (even a little) Read this article about the 2 minute rule.
Just be sure to keep a couple things in mind:
#1 ) PRIORITISE
#2 ) DO WHAT MAKES THE MOST SENSE FIRST (see #1)
#3) DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU MONEY EVERY DAY
End of Part three!
Seriously! You ROCK!!!
If you’ve finished the Business Advent Challenge let me be the first to say CONGRATULATIONS! Really you are just getting started in a whole new direction and there are amazing things in store for you and your business!
Keep it up, and please let us know if this challenge helped you, and the bumps you may have come across along the way. We want to hear your stories!
Thanks for reading. We hope you feel excited about the year ahead!