We’re way past the late nineties, when business owners were just beginning to realize they needed a website for their business, and yet, some know as much about how their website is doing as they did when they first launched their online information. That’s bad, and irresponsible. A hands-off approach to this critical calling card for your business is dangerous. At a minimum, every business leader should know the following about their company’s website:

  1. What is the typical traffic to the website? Do you get 10,000 visitors or 50? Is the traffic steady; are there predictable peaks and valleys?
  2. If you own multiple domains, do they all redirect to a single, main domain URL where you track your statistics?
  3. How high is your bounce rate? This statistic tells you whether visitors to your site are finding what they seek. If they don’t they “bounce” right off, moving on to another resource. (In general, lower is better. Bounce rates over 60% may indicate a problem with your content or the site display.)
  4. Does your website publish an RSS feed and is there an easy way for visitors to subscribe to updates?
  5. What is your website built in? (Many people have no idea. If the answer is “Dreamweaver” it’s time for a new website.)
  6. What is the most popular content on your website? A quick look at Google Analytics (you DO have Google Analytics for your website, don’t you?) can tell you the most visited pages/most compelling information your visitors want to know.

It’s easy to learn all of this, and someone in your organization or the vendor who helps manage your website should quickly and easily be able to catch you up to speed on all six items.

I went with several colleagues to listen to Dan Pink at the Virginia Festival of the Book Leadership Breakfast this morning. Dan’s new book (we’re fellow authors — I can call him Dan, right?) is To Sell is Human. The point of the book, and Dan’s talk, was that we’re all in the business of selling, persuading others to provide us with something they value in exchange for our products, services, or intelligence. People have such a negative reaction to the term “sales.” I tend not to think of myself as a salesperson and even shy away from thinking about anything I do in terms of sales. But of course, it is. I own a business; we provide services for which we are compensated. If it didn’t work that way, the business wouldn’t exist.

Dan shared a lot of data from his research on our thoughts, as a country, about sales. One part of that research focused on whether people who were extroverts were better salespeople, or if the introverts boasted better numbers. We tend to think that it’s the outgoing, gregarious (perhaps even backslapping, glad-handing, aggressive, pushy) person who gets the sales. Some of us want to think introverts do it better; they listen, and therefore provide better solutions. Naturally, the best sales people, and most of us, in fact, fall somewhere in the middle. The extremes do poorly. The balanced excel.

The big takeaway for me was Dan encouraging people in the audience to “be more like yourself.” Once again, authenticity wins.

Are you in sales, or have sales in your job description? How do you feel about it? Is it a difficult or easy part of your job, and how do you think you do?

 

 

We’re big on books at Jaggers Communications, as you might imagine. I’m fond of both the paper and the e-reader kind. Business books, however, have to be REALLY GREAT to capture my attention, and to keep me reading through till the end. Just a few authors have made it onto my short list for business guidance and this guy is one of them. I’m thrilled that Dan Pink is the keynote speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book tomorrow (March 19, 2014) at the Omni for the Leadership Breakfast. We’ve invited a handful of clients to join us at the event and hope the room will be filled with inspiration and networking.

At a slightly less-crowded venue, later in the week at the Touring Virginia session, I’ll be talking about and autographing copies of my new book, 100 Things to Do in Charlottesville Before You Die. You should come to that, too.

We’re snowed in and working from home offices today and we’ve been noticing a TREND. Schools (and other organizations) are so tired of cancellations and closings they’re starting to get really creative with their announcements. Here’s a collection of our favorites for your snow day enjoyment:

 

 

 

And then there’s this local favorite from a previous season when we WANTED more snow days.

 

 

A colleague of mine complains about them: “If I have to read ONE MORE POST about FIVE WAYS to this or SIX THINGS that, I’m going to throw up.” Funny thing is, he’s reading them and, like most of us, is attracted to the headlines that draw us in with lists and numbers.

Why are we drawn to this content?

Maria Konnikova of the New York Times says our brains prefer to process information this way. We like lists because they’re digestible and reassuring. Our brains can make quick sense of the information and in our content-flooded world, we can read, absorb, and move right on to the next piece.

That’s convenient and necessary because we’re expected to absorb much more content using the same daylight hours as our ancestors.

Slate and Michael Agger says that we read online in a lazy way: we crave:

  • white space
  • bulleted lists
  • bold text (see what I did there?)

Back to another New York Times piece by Maria Konnikova telling us what makes things “go viral”: it’s a lot of crap, to be candid. It’s emotion-grabbing, Internet-typical headlines of which we saw a version of in supermarket checkout lanes for years, with a compelling tag that people just can’t resist clicking …

Headlines with OMG or WOW or LOL or “Nothing Could Prepare me for …” or “You Have to See the Rest…” or “Will Amaze You.” Every journalism teacher must be just cringing constantly. ViralNova, now the 7th most popular website, ever  (WOW!) is a constant generator of this garbage and you know what? WE’RE ALL FALLING INTO THE TRAP.

So yes, if you want your content to go viral, it  must be sensational. It must have that WOW factor and it must be in a list format with an attention-grabbing headline that goes for emotions.

It’s annoyingly simple, but that’s the secret.