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3 Lessons You Can Take From Blue Bell’s Troubles

Posted Thu, May 28, 2015 by Julie Short

A Dallas company made national headlines for all the wrong reasons this spring when Blue Bell – which produces tens of millions of gallons of ice cream sold in grocery stores around the country – was found to be responsible for a Listeria outbreak.

The company has since taken the kinds of steps you would expect, furloughing plants, laying off employees, and working with state and federal health inspectors to show there won’t be any future issues.

Although many expected Blue Bell to disappear altogether, it seems as if the company is on the road to recovery, both financially and in terms of rebuilding their reputation. Clawing their way back into business has been no easy task, of course, and there were lessons business owners and executives can take from these events to help them avoid trouble in their own organizations.

Here are three in particular you should pay attention to:

#1: Trouble Always Comes From Unexpected Places

Before news of the Listeria outbreak hit, you can bet Blue Bell’s management team was focused on things like pricing, competitors, and market share… just as most of us are every day. But even though dealing with these challenges is important, it’s critical that we never take our eye off the bigger picture. Things like safety, customer satisfaction, and even employee management deserve our attention even when they don’t seem pressing.

#2: Cash Reserves Mean Everything in Times of Trouble

Once it became clear that Blue Bell couldn’t keep producing or selling ice cream, executives had to make some quick and difficult decisions about how they would survive without any new revenue coming in. Most small and medium-sized companies will face that kind of challenge eventually. When these troubles hit, having cash reserves you can turn to and stay afloat for a few months or quarters at a time can make all the difference.

#3: The Right Messaging Can Make or Break You in a Crisis

One thing Blue Bell definitely did right was to follow their instincts and communicate with customers, health inspectors, and the public at large. By immediately ceasing deliveries and letting buyers know that they were serious about protecting everyone’s health (and not in ducking responsibility) they paved the way for those customers to come back when the time is right. The simple decision to follow the correct path with their messaging might be the one that ultimately ends up restoring the company back to profitability.

There’s never a good time to have things go wrong with your company, but looking for issues ahead of time, preparing for rough patches, and having the right marketing and messaging can mean the difference between enduring a tough time and going out of business altogether. Are you ready to deal with the unexpected?

If you don’t have the kind of marketing and design team that can help you build and re-build your brand when you need it most, maybe it’s time to schedule a free consultation with the WebRevelation team.

Posted in : FYI , Business Strategy | 
Tags : Dallas , bluebell , lessons


4 Ways to Go Mobile-Friendly

Posted Thu, May 21, 2015 by Julie Short

In a recent post, we looked at what it is that actually makes your website “mobile-friendly.” Having that understanding is important, especially since mobile users now make up a majority on the Internet, outnumbering “traditional” laptop and desktop computer users online.

Today, we want to go a bit further and look at the different options you have for adding mobile functionality to your business website…

By Building a Mobile Version of Your Website

Mobile-specific websites are just what they sound like: versions of your web presence that are built, designed, and encoded specifically for mobile devices. These work and display best on small screens, of course, since they are optimized for that purpose. However, they bring the additional expense of creating an entirely new website, not to mention keeping it up-to-date, along with your existing web presence.

With an Adaptive Web Design

With an adaptive web design, you have one website that actually has several different versions. When a visitor comes to your pages, the coding within the side “decides” which version to show based on the available browser and screen size. While this does give you mobile functionality, it can lead to small errors when a mobile web browser and your website platform communicate incorrectly, causing the wrong layout to be displayed.

Through Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design works in a similar way, except that the adaptations are more fluid because of back-end coding. In other words, your website “responds” to the visitor’s device and browser, but can also change appearance if they resize their screen or change options. Because responsive web designs are more flexible, they tend to make fewer mistakes, and are also more likely to be compatible with future mobile devices, and screen sizes, that may not be popular yet.

By Developing a Custom App

As an alternative to mobile compatibility in your website, or an additional option, you could have a custom app developed that either serves as a replica of your website or adds more features. For example, your custom app might let mobile users log into their accounts, place new orders, or get specific updates (like package tracking) in one secure and convenient place. The downside to developing an app is that you’ll generally need lots of people to use it before you can justify the cost.

So, with all these options out there, which one makes the most sense for your company?

To explore the choices a bit further, and to decide which one might be right for you, contact a member of the WebRevelation team today and ask for a free website evaluation.

Posted in : Websites , SEO/SMO/SMM , Mobile Websites , Business Strategy | 
Tags : ways to go mobile friendly


What Does “Mobile-Friendly” Really Mean?

Posted Thu, May 14, 2015 by Julie Short

When Google announced that it would start factoring mobile compatibility into its search engine rankings beginning on April 21, business owners and web designers were sent into a flurry. Suddenly, thousands and thousands of new companies decided it was the perfect time to adopt a “mobile-friendly” web platform.

Lost in this sudden surge of mobile programming, however, was the fact that a lot of marketers don’t fully understand what “mobile-friendly” really means. To help shed some light on the situation, here is what you need to know about that term, and the underlying functionality it adds to your website:

The Basics of Mobile Compatibility

The essence of a mobile-friendly website is that it can display cleanly on a small screen, and adapt to a mobile browser that may have limitations a traditional web browser wouldn’t. The most obvious of these has to do with page and image widths, which need to be restricted on mobile devices. Without that, mobile users will be forced to scroll from left to right while trying to read text, for example, or view an image.

In addition, mobile browsers work better with standard fonts than they do exotic ones, so that should be a consideration. It’s also a good idea to limit image sizes and animations, since these can load slowly or use up too much space on a user’s data plan.

Generally Speaking, Mobile = Simple

What these basics amount to is often a simpler version of your standard website, or at least a version that displays more cleanly and simply for mobile users. As an example, if your website has a dozen links across the top of your main navigation bar, these may need to be moved, abbreviated, or otherwise altered to make them usable on a smart phone. Additionally, content can be rearranged so that it’s easier to scroll from top to bottom instead of left to right.

Buttons and Action Items Need Tweaking, Too

The third factor in mobile compatibility is the availability of radio buttons, click-to-call response forms, and other simple calls to action. Few mobile visitors will want to type long strings of text to get more information from your business, or fill out complicated forms on tiny screens.

Part of mobile functionality is ensuring that it’s is easy for customers to do what you want them to do – especially if that’s to make a purchase or get in touch with you for more information – than it is for them to see and read your content.

Although Google’s new mobile-friendly stance may seem like it’s driving the trend towards smart phone and tablet compatibility forward, the reality is that mobile web users already make up more than half of all Internet traffic. So, adopting a mobile-friendly attitude is a good idea, regardless of whether you rely on search engines or not.

In the next post, we are going to outline a few of the different ways you can bring mobile compatibility to your business website. If you can’t wait that long, or have more specific questions, feel free to contact WebRevelation today and ask for a free consultation.

Posted in : Websites , Website Content , SEO/SMO/SMM , Mobile Websites | 
Tags : mobile friendly


When to Hire a Content Writer

Posted Thu, May 7, 2015 by Julie Short

When it’s time to build and launch a new website, web content is (ironically) the last thing a business owner or marketer will think of. They’ll pay close attention to the design, give feedback on color schemes, and obsess over the conversion opportunities… but not give much thought to the actual writing that they’ll need to convince customers to buy.

As a result, a lot of clients are at a loss when it comes to deciding whether they should generate their own web content in-house or work with a professional writer.

There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether you should hire a content writer to work with. It really comes down to your own needs, budget, and preferences. To help you make the best decision, however, here are four times when we definitely advise you to hire a writer to help finish your website:

1. When you just can’t find the time yourself.

A lot of our clients intend to write their own pages, but never seem to find the time. That’s understandable – coming up with great web content usually isn’t on the top list of “urgent” items that a business owner or manager has to face… at least until the rest of the website is ready. And at that point, they may be overwhelmed with other tasks and projects. A good web content writer can finish an entire set of pages within days, so consider hiring one if you’re out of time.

2. When you’ve got content, but you don’t like it.

In the same way, a lot of clients develop their own web content only to find that it doesn’t have a polished, professional edge.
At that point, they usually have one of two choices: hire a professional content writer, or start over with a blank screen. If you or someone on your team has tried writing your web content but you aren’t blown away by the results, think about bringing a professional in to finish the job.

3. When conversions are a top priority.

We alluded to this earlier, but it’s a very important point to make: Web content isn’t just about explaining what you do; it’s about persuading buyers to take a chance and do business with your company. That’s a lot easier when you have professionally written web content. So if conversions are a top priority for you, let us help you find someone who can sell with words so you can increase your long-term ROI.

4. When you’re trying to make an impact with SEO and social media.

As you probably know already, search engine optimization and social media are both dependent on having a fresh stream of creative, compelling, and optimized content. The challenge of creating articles and posts week after week often proves to be too much for immature writers. If you are going to face a need for ongoing content, bringing in a professional writer can be the key to moving your campaigns forward.

The right web content writer can add a lot to your website’s messaging and persuasive power. More than that, they can help you finish the project in a reasonable amount of time. So if you’re facing one of these four situations, talk to us about getting a web content writer started on your pages.

Posted in : Website Content , Blogging | 
Tags : content , content writer


5 Tips for Managing Your Passwords

Posted Thu, April 30, 2015 by Julie Short

You only have to watch the news, or hear a horror story from a friend or family member, to realize how important online security has become. That’s even more true for business owners and managers, who may worry about risking sensitive company and customer information along with their own private data.

The first step to staying safe online isn’t necessarily investing in an expensive encryption package, or paying an IT team to lock down your businesses computers. Those might not be bad ideas, depending on your circumstances, but they aren’t as easy or effective as simply choosing and using the right passwords.

Most online thieves are looking for easy targets. More often than not, that amounts to someone who doesn’t update or patch their software as often as they should, and a business that has weak passwords. With that in mind, here are five tips for managing yours:

1. Don’t go for the obvious.
A recent survey found that an incredibly high percentage of people use passwords like “password,” or a name and birthday. Using anything like this, or even a recognizable word, is an incredibly bad idea. Instead, opt for a random string of numbers, symbols, and letters (both capitalized and lowercase). Automated software can crack an easy password in tenths of a second. A harder one would take months or years, which is why thieves are likely to move on.

2. Use more than one password.
Yes, using one password for every website is convenient… but it’s also convenient for thieves who want to break into your accounts and find things to steal. Set up different passwords (using the guidelines above) for the different websites and services you use. Even though it might mean a little more hassle, your online security is worth it.

3. Change your passwords regularly.
This is probably not new advice for you. “Change your online passwords regularly” ranks right up there with “eat your vegetables at dinner.” We’ve all heard it, but few of us actually do it. But in both cases, a little bit of preventative maintenance can stave off much larger problems later.

4. Keep your passwords written down somewhere secure.
Ideally, you’ll have a hard copy of your passwords somewhere secure, like in an office safe. However you keep them, be sure they are somewhere that you (and only you or authorized members of your team) can quickly find them and use them if needed. Keeping them on a text file on your computer could be risky, since it’s the first place thieves are going to look.

5. Be careful about sharing your passwords.
Remember, most thieves aren’t doing anything complicated – they’re looking for an easy way to steal your money. With that in mind, use common sense and don’t email your password to anyone or provide it to someone who doesn’t have any good reason to use it. And, if you suspect that an employee, vendor, or stranger has accessed your passwords, change them immediately.

Being careful with passwords is the simplest, cheapest, and easiest way to keep yourself and your business protected online. Why not take a bit of time today and ensure you’re not making it easy for cyber criminals to steal from your company?

Want to know more about smart, cost-effective online security and Internet marketing? Contact WebRevelation now and ask for a free consultation.

Posted in : Tips and Tricks , FYI , Business Strategy | 
Tags : password safety , passwords


What Every Business Owner and Marketer Needs to Know About Web Browsers

Posted Thu, April 23, 2015 by Julie Short

Most Internet users are aware of web browsers, but aren’t really attuned to the differences between them beyond the aesthetics. We all have our preferences (Chrome over Firefox, or Safari versus Internet Explorer, as examples), but these are usually based on the way they look, or where menus are displayed, rather than the underlying variations in programming.

As a business owner or marketer, however, it’s important to note that individual web browsers actually do function differently… and that those differences can actually impact your company.

To give you a sense of why, here are a few things every business owner or marketer needs to know about the web browsers their customers use:

Web Browsers Have a Bigger Job Than You Probably Realize

If you’re like most people, you probably open your favorite web browser, click on a bookmarked website, and then wait for it to load. What you don’t pay attention to is everything going on behind the scenes. Your web browser doesn’t just display a page, though; it actually translates it from HTML (or at the website’s core, ones and zeros) to turn it into something you can understand. Because of programmer preferences and relative strengths, every web browser does this a little bit differently.

The Right (or Wrong) Web Browser Can Change Your Website

Because of the differences in the way web browsers “translate” code into something visual, some of your content may not display correctly – or even at all – if your customer is using a certain browser. Things like images, fonts, videos, animation, and more will display more cleanly and accurately on some browsers but not others. In addition, some browsers utilize system resources differently, meaning they may load pages at a faster or slower rate.

There Are Lots of Web Browsers Out There

As if these weren’t enough challenges to deal with, it’s important to realize that there are a lot of web browsers out there. In addition to the most popular browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera – there are dozens of other smaller and specialty browsers (some of which exist to block ads and tracking, or to operate on Linux and other operating systems). On top of that, there are several mobile browsers in use, and usually several versions of each browser being used by the public at any given time.

Your Website Had Better Work Well on Every Web Browser (Especially Mobile Browsers)

Put all of these factors together, and you have an environment where your website is being asked to convey a lot of important things to users on very different platforms. How can it do this? In the last few years, savvy web designers have started using standardized HTML5 and other best practices to ensure that websites display correctly regardless of how they are being viewed. Without those kinds of safeguards in place, you could be missing out on new customers – including some of your most important potential buyers.

You can’t control which web browsers your customers are going to come to your website through, so it’s important that your pages and content display correctly across all of them. Otherwise, you could miss out on winning a new set of loyal buyers just because you don’t have compatible HTML code.

Worried that your website isn’t up to date when it comes to displaying on different web browsers or mobile devices? Get in touch with WebRevelation today for a free account review!

Posted in : Websites , FYI | 
Tags : web browswers ,


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