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Email Marketing: Getting More Email Signups from Your Website

Posted Wed, April 10, 2013 by Julie Short

An email database is an important marketing tool. A large database allows you to proactively communicate with a large number of your customers, but before you launch an email marketing campaign you’ve got to build the list. Your website is the easiest way to gather email addresses from interested parties. Be sure to convince people to want to subscribe to your emails. You have a better chance to retain them in the long run if they find value in your emails and chose to sign up.

Once, I signed up for a company's newsletter for $1 off my bill every month. A lot of customers will connect with you for a small value. This value doesn’t have to be monetary, but most customers need an incentive to receive another brand email in their inbox. They are probably already receiving a lot of similar emails. Think long term. Signing up is half the battle. You want them to actually open your emails. Get creative and find an angle. Exchange with them something you have of value for their email address. This value could be exclusive, behind-the-scenes access or even exclusive coupons.

Regular Newsletter
Your goal isn’t only to build a giant email list. You only derive value from it if the people in your list care about what you send them. If they delete every email you send, your effort was a waste of time. A regular newsletter’s purpose is to maintain and boost long-term relationships with your subscribers. After a list is built, this is an opportunity to communicate, compel them to buy and continue to offer the value they initially signed up for.

Online Archive
Some subscribers want a preview of what they’re getting into before they commit. Maintain an online archive of past newsletters and email correspondence to let interested visitors see what they should expect in the future. If your newsletter or emails typically offer value, an online archive can help you grow your subscription list.

Multiple Signup Locations
Different people decide to commit at different points in the perusing process. You can’t know when a certain visitor will want to sign up. Place the form obviously on the web page. Make it easy for them to find a way to sign up without having to search for one specific page. Try integrating your value proposition into a “Hello Bar” and drive attention immediately to signing up. A “Hello Bar” is a small bar that stays fixed at the top of a page while you’re on a website.  

Give Them a Reason to Trust You
Most people are jaded by the bad practices of other brands, businesses and spammers. Provide your subscribers every assurance you aren’t one of those brands. Under your signup form or on a signup page, let them know how often you email out and what they should expect. Brands that email every day, especially frivolously, annoy the typical consumer. Provide a link to your privacy policy. This will tell people how you intend to use the information you’re collecting. Show subscribers you have nothing to hide, you will protect their private information and that you won’t share it with any third party.

Posted in : Email Marketing | 
Tags : email marketing , content

Building a Website Better Than Your Competition

Posted Mon, April 8, 2013 by Julie Short

So, you’ve got the same product, similar pricing and offers as your competitors? Business is all about competition. With an effective call to action, your website should attract potential clients and encourage them to buy. You’re looking for any and every advantage over rival businesses. In this blog, I’ll give you a few ways to differentiate your website from your competition.

Google Analytics can provide you a lot insight into your website (traffic, conversions, etc.), but it will also compare your results to your industry average. This insightful tool will give you an idea of how well you’re doing digitally when compared to others in your industry.

If you’re in a highly competitive industry, you’ve got to have a website that sets you apart from your competitors. Give your customers a digital value they can’t resist.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary for your website to compete. Several factors impact how your high your website appears in search results and if your competition appears first. Concentrate on content creation. Regularly posting fresh content makes your site more appealing to search engines and their automated indexing programs. Also, new content is an incentive for visitors to return to your site after the first visit. Pay attention to the keywords you’re using in your site’s content because it factors in. Focus on the search queries that yield the highest total traffic. To determine the most effective keywords, Google Analytics or Google's Webmaster Tools program provides traffic data for different search queries. Effective SEO strategies are constantly changing. It’s crucial to monitor the trends, SEO news and your site’s effectiveness. You may be due for an overall site update to stay competitive.

Your website’s design should complement your content. A site’s design should be attractive without being distracting. A clean design, with lots of white space, no dense copy and clear offers will translate well to your unique visitors. Avoid huge blocks of content. A homepage isn’t the place to provide the essay about your company. The homepage is merely the gateway. The important information and deals should be differentiated and jump out to the visitor. The site design should facilitate the buying process in the best way possible.

Easy Communication
Don’t make your customer jump through a lot of hoops to know more about your company and to connect with you. Make communication as easy as possible. Some sites require a visitor’s email address before viewing key information about a product or service. The casual customer, who is shopping around, could be driven away by this action. Too much personal information too soon causes customers to be sensitive. Include a contact us page on your website with an in-browser contact form. Eliminate the need for your customer to go through another step by having to open their own email to connect with you.

Strong Central Message
Successful websites aren’t cluttered, employ a clear call to action and have a strong central message. Give a direct, concise summary of what you’re about, what you offer and why you’re the best choice over your competition. Assume they know nothing about you and what you do. Give them all the information necessary information to choose to do business with you. Also, clearly state the next step in the purchasing process. If they can buy, sign-up for services or get a quote through the site, make it very clear and obvious. You will want to direct customers to the next step at every possible avenue on the site.

Posted in : Websites , Website Content , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : SEO , web design

Simple Techniques to Maximize Web Conversions

Posted Wed, April 3, 2013 by Julie Short

The conversion rate measures the number of potential customers that result in sales. On your website, it’s the number of visitors that result in sales. Some people focus solely on driving people to a website, either organically or through search engine traffic, but it’s important to go that extra step to ensure you’re getting a return on your website investment. Here are some simple techniques to improve a website’s conversion rate. 

You should strive not to prevent anyone from purchasing your products or services. It should be unacceptable for one person to be turned away because of an inaccessible site. The more complicated the website, the more opportunity you have to confuse or lose your customer. Users should be able to find the information they need. If you’ve got information your visitors want, it should be on your website. If visitors are disappointed by a lack of information, they’ll go elsewhere. 

If you’re selling products, pay close attention to how a user adds products to the shopping cart. I have a big problem with online stores that force users to proceed to a shopping cart page every time they add a product. This action slows down the shopping process and the inconvenience alone can deter customers from purchasing multiple items. Sites with one-click “Add To Cart” buttons give customers a clear call to action.

Dispose of Lengthy Forms
Don’t waste people’s time. Refrain from requiring an email address before accessing most of the information. In most cases, if your request is premature you will drive users away. Be clear and concise when you’re requesting information from a user. The user should understand the reasoning behind sharing information and know they can trust you with their private details. If you only plan to email your customers, you might not need a phone number. The more information you request, the better the chance of driving away the cautious customer. 

Focus on providing a positive user experience. This will translate into a positive view of the brand. Utilize compelling headlines and subheads. Visitors can scan for information easier with good headlines. 

Regular Updates
Regularly updating content fosters trust with the customer. Updates lets them know you still exist and are operating. It also gives them the best decision-making information possible. If you’ve got specials or sales, don’t keep them a secret from your website. Keeping the user informed through every step of the sale process is a great idea. A company that shows it cares about their customers, even after they've finished shopping, will make a user far happier and far more likely to return.

Offer Payment Options
This may sound obvious, but offer a reasonable selection of payment methods. Not everybody has a credit card, and those that do don't always want to use them. Consider alternatives to the usual methods. Options like PayPal and payment upon pickup may endear you to the online customer. Make the user's life easy and give them what they want.

Give Visitors Value
This may be the last listed, but it is an important suggestion. Understand why your brand and website is special. Give important content the best placement. Great customer service, low price guarantees and free delivery are all examples of factors that endear your website to customers over your competition. Be the authority in your field. If your website is branded into a user’s mind, they’re more likely to think of you when they need that certain product or service. Make your digital customers a special offer they can’t refuse. 

Are people looking for something, not finding it and then leaving the site? Analytics and surveys are the best tools to really understand why visitors are leaving. Use an analytics tool to remove obsolete pages and build on content pages with high traffic. Select “The Biggest Loser” within your website. This is a page that is receiving a lot of traffic and has a high bounce rate, but contains important content with the potential for improvement. 

After working on all these different areas, be sure to test, analyze, adjust and repeat.

Posted in : Websites , Website Content | 
Tags : web conversion

Understanding the Features of Good and Bad Web Design

Posted Mon, April 1, 2013 by Julie Short

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The difference between a good website and a bad one is often amateurish designer mistakes. Eliminating bad and ugly design mistakes won’t guarantee pages will be more attractive, but it generally enables more effective communication. Features of web design can be divided into categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Bad design missteps aren’t the end of the world, but can make pages look unprofessional and awkward. Ugly mistakes can often render a website ineffective and sometimes harmful to the reputation of a person, business or brand. After all, every website is a direct reflection of a brand’s professional digital image. 

The Good
A good web experience puts users in control and empowers them to be engaged. Utilizing Content Management Systems (CMS), clients update content themselves without assistance. CMS empowers the client to communicate quickly on their website, generally without needing help. 

In a solid design, consistency is crucial. From colors to messaging, branding should be clear and consistent with the offline presence. Every website should accomplish a clear goal. Users should easily understand the call to action. Good designs are organized in a way that engages visitors. Text should be easily readable and links will stand out. Links are often considered a website’s call to action. Using different colors or underlines for links will help them stand out. 

The Bad
It’s important to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are design qualities that distinguish a designer’s competency to execute a good website. Starting with a basic principle, images on the website should be crisp and clear. Using a grainy image smaller than the standard browser size (1024x768) as a page background is an amateur designer’s first giveaway. Poor color scheme choices and a lack of contrasting colors are other amateur mistakes. 

Most designers agree, the most crucial component of web design is typography. Typography and font choice impact a lot of website components. For example, overused, plain fonts like Times New Roman aren’t distinctive and can be hard to read. Typography is important because it’s the messenger carrying the main message. Don’t overlook its importance. 

The Ugly
Inferior web design is a curse. As we tell our clients, your website is often your first impression in an age where we are dependent on Internet information. A bad website can be very damaging to branding and reputation. One of the worst things a designer can do is prioritize style over substance. Users are impatient and expect pages to load quick. With this attitude, designers must stop incorporating elaborate animation and visuals that delay pages from loading. An extensive use of flash will slow down pages for web users and completely exclude mobile users from certain content. 

Some of the worst features are truly ugly design choices. Busy pages with large blocks of content, that lack a reasonable use of whitespace, leave visitors confused and annoyed. Problematic sites lack imaginative, well-planned navigation. Navigation and organization are crucial components of a website’s success or failure. Designers have to accurately anticipate what topics visitors will be looking for when they come to the site. Visitors shouldn’t have to click multiple links and buttons to find information. Designers have got to organize the data to be discoverable. Sounds like an easy task, but it’s not for the lazy designer. 

Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : web design

8 Common Website Blunders Costing You Money

Posted Wed, March 27, 2013 by Julie Short

Search around the web and you’ll find a lot of non-functional, ineffective websites. You don’t want to put a site out there that will do more harm than good. Avoid common pitfalls of web design by understanding the most basic mistakes a designer can make.  

1. Too much flash
Flash was once used in cutting edge design, but now it’s mainly just a headache. Flash isn’t functional on most mobile devices. Designers are replacing Flash with JavaScript, CSS and HTML to relay dynamic content. Modern web design shouldn’t include elaborate hover effects and animation on content-based websites. Your design strategy should be less about impressing people and more about enabling people to access your website’s content effectively.

2. Text is hard to read
If you’re still relying on fonts like Times New Roman or Tahoma, your web design won’t stand out. Customized typography is abundantly available. There are many specialized fonts that will help your design pop and make content easier for visitors to read. There’s a fine line though. Choosing a font that’s too bizarre could make reading difficult. Use a sans-serif font. This font type is often best for readability. Text should be scannable. Utilize subheads, highlighted keywords and short paragraphs. Also, give users the option to resize the text if they need to.    

3. Too much clutter
Everything is best in moderation. Including too much content can drive traffic away from a site and increase the bounce rate. Readers will tire of excessive information and probably stop reading. Keep content concise and relevant. Avoid including large chunks of information. Bulleted lists can help you break up information. Also, too many links congested in one area are ineffective.

4. Unattractive screen resolution and contrast
If a site’s overall color scheme hurts a user’s eyes, the content will be ineffective. What looks best from a design perspective isn’t always the most functional. There has to be an adequate amount of contrast for text to be readable. The optimized layout for websites is 1024 x 768 pixels. In modern design, users should never have to scroll horizontally to view a page. It’s difficult to design around every resolution and device people will access your site on, but use analytics tool to determine what people are using most often to view the site when planning an update.

5. Site doesn’t function on mobile.
Mobile functionality is necessary for every site. Is your site responsive and adjusts to a mobile screen? A complicated website design won’t translate well onto mobile. The existence of mobile shouldn’t deter you from designing cool things for computer users, but you need to have a mobile site. It’s an easy fix and will allow mobile users to access a simpler, more concise site viewable on smaller devices.

6. No clear direction
An effective website is easy to use. Common website navigation issues can be avoided with some effort. Provide your visitors direction. Assume your visitor is going to make mistakes and won’t understand jargon. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and look at how the site functions objectively. Organize content in a subtle way that provides a roadmap for visitors to easily discover what they’re looking for. Links shouldn’t be too small and should change color once they’re clicked on for easier user navigation.

7. Changing archived page URLs
Some change URLs of outdated pages when they are moved off the main page into archives. This can make it difficult to maximize good search engine placement because page links to your site become broken. When a site’s created, it should allow content to be moved into archives without having to change the URL. If URLs change every few days, promoting your content will be nearly impossible.

8. Image overload
Many of the mistakes designers make revolve around excessiveness. Finding the right balance between imagery and type can be difficult, but it’s crucial. Talented designers often want to overload users with cool imagery, but in most cases simple designs are more effective. Don’t give the reasonable user a chance to be confused or annoyed by elements on the site. Animations can be cool, but often slow page loading. Use animations sparingly and tastefully. Never underestimate the power of whitespace in web design.

Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : website mistakes

Your Business Needs a Mobile App and Here's 5 Reasons Why

Posted Mon, March 25, 2013 by Julie Short

40 billion apps have been downloaded since Apple’s iOS App Store launched. 20 billion of those were downloaded in 2012. Over 1 million apps have been submitted to iOS App Store. There are several potential payoffs for businesses that choose to adapt to their mobile audience. 

Bank of the West and Harris Interactive conducted an online national survey on how small businesses were embracing technology in 2012. Among small business owners who use mobile technology, 2 out of 3 (68%) agree that it has increased efficiency for their businesses, and 3 out of 5 (61%) say it serves functions in their businesses that cannot be completed as efficiently through other means.

Developing an app is another channel to connect with your customer and an additional resource to influence purchasing decisions. There are some exceptions, but most businesses can find benefits in developing a mobile application by providing customers amenities they desire. 

Your customer wants a 24/7 resource
There are around 1 billion smartphone users in the world and 115 million in the US alone. The mobile web grew faster than many could imagine in the last few years. Information on the go evolved to the average customer’s norm. Mobile is the latest frontier. If a customer wants information on a business or product, they want it NOW. More and more customers avoid calling for information and the average business can’t employ workers to provide information 24/7 anyways.

Increase branding awareness
What’s important for your customer to know about a business or product? Digital competition is fierce right now. Having an angle helps brand yourself to consumers. When I say angle, I mean a useful reason for your app to exist. Carpe Diem Private Preschool, a private preschool in Dallas, created an app that allows parents to observe their children on a classroom webcam. You can make action-oriented content from your website easy to access on smartphones and foster brand loyalty by going that extra step.  

A unique and helpful mobile experience will help you be competitive
Are you trying to reach the most people possible? Apps often eliminate clicks and extra work on the part of your customer. Making a sale easier on yourself and the customer is what every business wants to accomplish. Your app doesn’t have to be complicated, just efficient and useful. Your app could provide store hours, driving directions, quick pricing, product/services information, menu and exclusive deals to encourage loyal customers. 

Magic Beans, a Boston retailer specializing in toys and baby accessories, launched a mobile app in 2010. Magic Beans launched an app that allowed customers to skip cash registers and check themselves out on their mobile. After checking out, the app recommends two products and additional offers that applied to the customer based upon their purchase. Customers could also scan a product’s information for more information. This app resulted in an 8% sales increase for those who used the app. 

Deliver news and speedy offers to your customers
Smartphones are now an extension of their owner and no longer an accessory. Next time you’re in a public place, just stop and take in the sights around you. Notice how many people are on their mobile or smartphone. The smartphone is your direct communication link to your customer. 

The death of paper coupons is one of the great amenities of an app. If you provide coupons, forgetting them at home will no longer prohibit your customer from shopping with you and you can track which customers are using coupons easier.  

Anyone can have an app
Apps aren’t exclusive to major brands. Small and medium-sized businesses have launched successful apps. A Nashville realtor, Zeitlin & Company, launched an app last year that take’s a user’s location and shows all available listings in their immediate vicinity on a map. Also, the app includes information on each listing, price, local schools, restaurants and grocery stores. With the click of a button, homebuyers have a lot of the information they want when researching a home. 

WebRevelation has extensive experience developing custom web applications so you can go that extra step for your customer to communicate and operate more efficiently. Our apps are nearly maintenance free and extremely scalable. Contact us for more information on a custom web application. 

Posted in : Mobile Apps | 
Tags : mobile app

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