15 Top Tips for Re-doing Your Website

According to a recent survey, 70-80 percent of potential customers will check out your website before phoning or visiting your dive shop. Having an attractive, informative, mobile-friendly website is more important than ever; unfortunately, many dive operations haven’t kept up with the times.

In addition to attracting new customers, a modern website can help retailers track the effectiveness of their online ad spend. Using a Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics and other tools, business owners can track which marketing efforts are driving sales and which are a waste of money.

Whether you need to update an outdated site or your free Wix/Weebly site no longer meets your needs, use the tips below to ensure your next website is the best it can be. In addition to the 15 top tips, there are three bonus ideas based upon evaluations of more than 50 dive center websites.

Evaluate Your Current Site Using a Website Grader
Not every website needs to be redesigned from scratch. Use a website grader such as Woorank to see what’s working on your existing page and what needs to be improved.

You’ll also be able to review backlinks (other sites that link to your webpage). If a prominent website such as a local TV station, newspaper or other large publication links to your Open Water page, you don’t want to lose that traffic because the URL changes and doesn’t redirect.

Check Your Search Engine Ranking
Open an incognito window in Google Chrome (this ensures your search history isn’t factored into the search results) and Google popular scuba-related searches such as:

scuba diving gear
scuba diving lessons
dive shop
PADI open water
scuba certification
scuba diving certification
padi elearning

Take note of where your current site ranks for individual keywords and where you’d like to rank higher. You’ll use this information when writing copy for your new site.

Establish Goals
Every business website should be designed around its core profit centers. For one dive center, that might be charters, for another it might be gear, or their IDC program. Also, jot down any new areas where you hope to grow (exotic travel, kids programs, etc.) to ensure there’s a home for these topics on your new site.

To prevent your new site from looking like a garage sale, create 3-5 sub-categories such as Equipment, Instruction and Travel. Give each sub-topic prominent placement on your homepage using a graphic so visitors looking for information on that topic can quickly navigate to what they need. In the example below, Project AWARE presents visitors with three images – each a portal to a different section of their website.

A recent study found 75% of website visitors form judgments about a business based on its web site and 94% of a user’s first impression is design-related.

In other words, even if dive equipment is your core business, don’t cover the homepage in pictures of dive gear. This is overwhelming to the eye and may confuse and intimidate new divers. Instead, use one attractive image on the homepage to act as a gateway to more information.

Who Are Your VIPs?
When deciding what content to put on your homepage, also consider who your core customers are and what they’re looking for. Here are a few ideas:

– People looking to get certified
– Travelers interested in booking boat dives
– Potential IDC candidates
– Certified divers who want to refresh or improve their skills
– Cruise ship guests
– Divers who need gear advice
– Parents interested in an summer activity for their kids

Size Up the Competition
Explore a handful of competitor websites. In addition to evaluating other dive operators, choose at least one non-scuba website. The non-scuba competitor might be a cycling store, a ski/snowboard shop or a yoga studio.

– Write down 2-3 things each website does well.
– Note 2-3 things the website does poorly (tip: check out their sites on a mobile device).
– Ask yourself, “if a competing dive center started running my business tomorrow, what would they change?”

Choose a Design That Promotes Your Profit Centers
After defining your goals, key customers, and what parts of your existing website you’d like to update, you’re ready to choose a design. Use the profit centers you’ve identified to narrow down the options. For example, a dive resort that caters to island guests and cruise ship passengers should choose a design that allows them to adequately address the needs of both website visitors.


A local dive center that wants to promote local diving and showcase activities should reserve space for both of those elements.

The site design should also be able to utilize Google Analytics and Facebook pixel code. If you’re not sure, do a quick Google search or ask your web designer.

Finally, responsive design (where the website content adjusts to the size of the user’s screen), is an absolute must. Design with mobile views in mind because there’s a greater than 50% chance your site will be viewed on a mobile device.

Customers should be able to easily navigate on a phone, tablet or desktop device. A mobile-friendly design also helps your business stay competitive; Google penalizes slow-loading, non-responsive pages with a low search ranking.

Compose Key Messages
According to a 2018 article in Inc, 70-80 of customers visit a small businesses’ website before contacting or visiting the store, so it’s critical your website 1) ranks highly in search 2) acts a 24/7 sales person.

Refer to your keyword research to identify the words or phrases where you’d like to rank at the top of Google search. Use keywords words in:

– Page titles and descriptions
– The page URL (ex. divecenter.com/learn-to-scuba-dive-your-city)
– As headlines

When a customer lands on your website, it should be 100% clear your dive operation is the #1 choice for dive equipment, instruction, charters, etc. Here are a few examples of key messages:

Small class sizes and all-inclusive pricing
Dive with the best! 5 Star ratings on Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp
The island’s most eco-friendly dive resort

Don’t Overbuild
There’s no way to fit all your knowledge and expertise into one website. Furthermore, the vast majority of visitors will only spend about 15 seconds scanning each page.

Make sure important info stands out by:

  • Using bullet points
  • Put key messages in bold
  • Using images or or sub-headers to break up long sections of text
    (long = 100 words or more).
  • Keep paragraphs short (2-3 sentences)
  • Avoid using industry jargon such as “confined water, knowledge development and acronyms DSD, RSTC, etc.)
  • Put important info “above the fold” in other words: don’t assume people will scroll down.

With websites, less is more. A flashy video can slow page load time and you should never assume a visitor will watch the whole thing.

That said, it’s a good idea to incorporate a few videos on your website. While only 25 percent of website visitors will read the majority of a webpage, 80 percent will watch a one-minute video in its entirety. Embed course promo videos from PADI’s YouTube channel, or create your own. In either case, make sure your webpage includes text with the same information the video provides, not everyone will watch the video, and if they do they might not have their sound on.

Make Contact Info and Hours Easy to Find
According to a study reported in Inc, 44 percent of visitors leave a website if they can’t find basic contact info such as an email address or phone number. The top right corner of the homepage is typically where a phone number should go. In the same corner, include a link to your Contact page.

The Contact Us page should include your store hours, all contact info and an embedded Google map. Your contact page is also a good place for social media icons and links if you don’t already have them in the website header or footer.

Connect and Be Compelling
Prevent website visits from being one-and-done by inviting visitors to start a relationship with you. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter and be the first to know about trips and special offers – in addition to linking to your Facebook/Instagram/YouTube account(s).  If you don’t connect with new visitors, it’s like they were never there.

Compel website visitors to take the next step. Tell them what you want them to do and include a large, bold text link or a CTA (call to action) button.

– Schedule a free, no-obligation equipment consultation [CONTACT US]
– Small class sizes for personal attention, Reserve your spot! [SEND BOOKING INQUIRY]
– Download our guide to the top 10 local dives [GET THE GUIDE]
– What’s on your dive travel bucket list? [LET US KNOW]

Don’t Expect Website Visitors to Call for Answers
After working hard to optimize your website, you can easily lose a customer by not including key information such as how much your class cost or when classes are offered.

The age of customers picking up the phone to get this information is over. In a Sep 2018 Google article on best practices, Google shared the following findings:

More than half of smartphone users purchased from a company other than the one they’d originally intended to use because the information provided by another brand was more useful

If you’re concerned about stating the price of the course because the “guy down the road” offers it cheaper, educate customers why your course is worth the extra cost. Maybe you have smaller classes sizes, include rental gear, have a on-site pool, etc. Also consider whether the bottom-dollar customer is one you want in the first place.

Use Images of Smiling Divers
In addition to showing underwater images of your local environment, help customers visualize the fun they’re going to have and the underwater life they’ll see. Use some of your most liked images from social media, or visit the Toolbox section of the PADI Pros site to download images and videos. Quality images of divers having fun help new customers understand one of the main reasons people fall in love with diving: the people!

Create an About Us Page That Turns Visitors into Friends

The About Us page is the second most-visited page by new customers and it should leave no doubt in the customer’s mind that you are THE dive shop they should work with.

  • Include links to reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and/or Yelp
  • Showcase smiling photos of your staff, list their certifications and experience  
  • Talk about why you LOVE running a dive shop
  • Share a few details about your hobbies, alma mater, pets, anything to help a website visitor relate to you as a person.
  • Reassure nervous new divers that their scuba class will be safe and fun.
  • Include testimonials if you don’t have them elsewhere.

Find the Right Web Designer
Identify some websites you like and scroll to the bottom of the page. You may find a link to the person or company who built the site.

As part of the vetting process, ensure you’ll have access to update the site whenever you want. Also find out about after-hours support and what happens if the person who built the site gets hit by a bus.

Lastly, ask if they can set up your Google Analytics/Tags and install a Facebook Pixel. These essential tools require installing small snippets of code.

Test Drive Your New Site
Because your website is likely the consumer’s first encounter with your business, make sure it makes a good first impression. Invite friends, customer spouses, grandparents, etc. to evaluate your new site, in person if possible.

Ask them to first look at your site for no more than 15 seconds. What is their first impression of your business? Next, ask them to accomplish an important task like finding out how to get certified, or reserving space on your boat. Watch their mouse movements, and most importantly keep an open mind when they give you feedback.

Website Boosters:
The ideas below will help your new website rise above the competition:

A Dedicated eLearning page
Explain how eLearning saves time and also what the additional costs are. An eLearning page is also a good place to link to the medical form and eLearning student login.

Blog
A blog can help your business establish authority in a variety of areas and crush the competition in online search. It’s important that your blog be included under your domain (ex. yourdiveshop.com/blog or blog.yourdivehop.com).

Testimonial Page
Testimonials establish trust and breakdown skepticism for website visitors who are unsure about taking the next step. They’re also a way to put some of your best customers in the spotlight. Be sure you get permission and include a photo.

Marketing is Everything

marketing-strat

Article by John Kinsella

When I was looking for a pithy marketing quote to grab your attention for this article, I came across an interesting article listing no fewer than 72 separate definitions of the term “marketing”. Two definitions really stood out. The first, attributed to Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, a highly successful email marketing company, claims that when done well, marketing is the business strategy: It is the value proposition, brand positioning and image to the world. It must be largely measurable and accountable around driving business goals. When not done well, Blumberg asserts, it’s an endless checklist of advertising and promotional to-dos that can never be completed. The second definition emphatically makes the same point. Regis McKenna, writing for the Harvard Business Review, said simply, “Marketing is everything.” 

If you agree, it makes solid business sense to prioritize your marketing efforts and get as much help as you can. Especially when that help is basically free. One of the most important benefits of PADI®Membership is marketing support, and it’s yours for the asking (or downloading). There’s a plethora of detailed information in your back issues of The Undersea Journal® and the valuable resources on the PADI Pros’ Site are at your disposal. Here’s a look at a few initiatives that should be on your strategic radar for 2017.

wdd_logoWomen and Diving

The second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day saw a doubling of interest in 2016 over 2015. Events organized by PADI Members worldwide grew from 330 to more than 700 and it’s going to be a focal point again in 2017. The goal is to increase the number of women in diving and bring more families into the sport. Research indicates that women make anywhere from 80-92 percent of the vacation decisions for the family, so attracting more women to the sport will invariably bring the families. “This year, in PADI Americas alone, we had almost 400 million (media) impressions for Women’s Dive Day,” said Katie Thompson, Director of Marketing. “If you register an event on PADI.com, people will find you.” You’ll see a preview of what’s in store this month, and there’ll be marketing support assets available in the first quarter of 2017. Mark 15 July 2017, the next PADI Women’s Dive Day, on your marketing calendar now.

my-padi-club-hero-image

My PADI Club

Another arrow in your 2017 marketing quiver has to be My PADI Club. This new premium membership product has the potential to become the cornerstone of your all-important digital marketing and social media marketing strategies. Take a look at the dedicated article in the December edition of the Surface Interval for early details of yet another great marketing initiative with PADI Dive Centers, Resorts and Members at the center. Make a point of being an early adopter.

New Advanced Open Water Diver Course

aow_name-315x203Along the same lines, speaking of cornerstones, the new Advanced Open Water Diver course is just that, for your entire continuing education program. Keep this front and center in your marketing strategy for 2017. Take a look at the article in the third quarter 2016 The Undersea Journal for detailed insights (and marketing tips) into just how the links between Advanced Open Water Diver and (almost) the entire suite of PADI courses can help you keep your continuing education courses full.

PADI Members have a wealth of wonderful marketing material at their fingertips; it just makes sense to make the most of it.

Specialty of the Quarter Launching Soon

SQ-DUP-ENG3

Launching in July, the PADI Specialty of the Quarter campaign will focus on different PADI specialties each quarter. This important tool will help you to grow the interest in continuing education and increase the sales of PADI Specialty courses and student materials. PADI Specialty courses offer the perfect opportunity to widen the knowledge of your students, better understand their interests as divers, and make sure they come back and sign up for more courses.

How does the Specialty of the Quarter campaign work?

Students working towards their Master Scuba Diver certifications who sign up for one of the PADI specialty courses listed below with your dive center, will receive a free PADI eCard upon Master Scuba Diver completion.

Top Tip: Try offering your own Specialty of the Quarter prizes designed to encourage divers of all levels to keep diving with you. For example, the prize could be an additional specialty course free of charge if they complete their next certification with you.

Calendar for the PADI Specialty of the Quarter 2016:

  • Q3 (July – September): PADI Digital Underwater Photographer and PADI Wreck Diver
  • Q4 (October – December): PADI Deep Diver and PADI Dry Suit Diver

Tools for the PADI “Specialty of the Quarter” campaign:

To help you promote the PADI “Specialty of the Quarter”, you can download free digital marketing materials via the PADI Pros’ Site including posters, e-mail templates, headers, a specialty of the quarter incentive chart, and more!

To access the toolkit, visit the PADI Pros’ Site (Toolbox–>Marketing–>Marketing Campaigns–>Specialty of the Quarter).

For more information on the PADI Specialty of the Quarter campaign, please contact Emily Krak at emily.krak@padi.com.

 

Casting Call: What Does My PADI Mean To You?

My PADI Talent

Share your My PADI story and inspire more people to start, keep and teach diving. Describe what PADI means to you in a 500-750 word response to the following questions and you may be featured in the new My PADI global marketing campaign:

  • What was your inspiration to become a PADI Diver:
  • How has PADI changed your life or career?
  • What does PADI mean to you?
  • Complete this sentence. “My PADI is…”
  • How would you describe scuba diving in a word or sentence to a nondiver?

Please email your submission along with a maximum of two photos (one of which must be a topside photo or head shot) to mypadi@padi.com by 31 October 2015.

2014 PADI Marketing Money – Time is Running Out!

PADI Co-Op Marketing Fund 2014

PADI Co-Op Marketing Fund 2014

Less than half the funds in the 2014 PADI Marketing co-op fund remain. If you have a new marketing idea you’ve been wanting to try, get your request form in soon!

Funds are available for new activities (in other words something you haven’t tried before) to attract new divers. Looking for ideas? Here are a some proven marketing initiatives that may qualify for the co-op program:

  • Online Advertising (overview / ideas)
  • Update your website to be mobile-friendly
  • Participation in a non-diving event (Wedding, Travel, Adventure, Boat and Surf shows, etc.)

PADI Americas will match 75 percent of your ad buy, event fee, etc up to the maximum reimbursement amounts listed below.

  • PADI Five Star Dive Centers or Resorts – $750 US.
  • PADI Dive Centers or Resorts – $500 US.

Ready to apply for funds? We need two things from you:

IMPORTANT! Both the request form and proof of payment must be received for your request to be processed. Quotes cannot be accepted, and funds are distributed on a first come first serve basis.

Questions? Please contact Mica dot Matvia at padi dot com, or Claudia dot Sherry at padi dot com.

Wanted: Inspiring Stories from Students

PADI Ask Any Diver

Do you have a diver with an inspirational story: someone who conquered a fear of water or overcame a disability and transformed his or her life through diving?  Invite your students to share their stories and they could be featured in a global advertising campaign: Ask Any Diver.

PADI’s Ask Any Diver campaign will feature stories from real divers sharing how they overcame personal obstacles or preconceived notions of scuba diving on the way to earning their certifications. In addition to inspiring others to try diving, your diver’s story will spread the word about your dive business.

How to Enter:
Divers should submit a video describing obstacles they overcame and how scuba diving changed their lives via the Ask Any PADI Diver page on padi.com for consideration. Please note: Submitting a video does not guarantee the diver will be featured.