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Web Design Tips for Engaging Your Site’s Visitors

Yesterday I tweeted an article that said that only 1% of online purchases come from social media.  That doesn’t mean it’s worthless, it just means that if you are looking to get a bunch of direct sales due to your social media presence, you are barking up the wrong tree.  Instead, utilize social media for communicating your company’s culture, its expertise and things you like.  Utilize a personal voice for your company’s social media account because for the first time in marketing history, using a personal voice for a company doesn’t look unprofessional, it looks interesting.  Ubiquitous corporate advertising has made even the least cynical person become cynical of corporate speak when it comes to new products and services.

The other major reason to do social media is to drive traffic to your website where the actual transaction or conversion can take place.  When it does happen, make sure you give your visitors ample opportunity to interact with your company.  Make it easy for users to comment on your blog (you have a blog, right?) by using a comment system like Disqus.  Use forms that give you enough information to reach out to your visitor but not too many fields that the visitor gives up before completing it.  Use quotes from your clients to showcase your products.   Having been in sales for years, showcasing your existing clients’ experience with your company works much better than simply telling someone that your stuff is the best.  Besides, no one likes a bragger.

When we do web design for our Indianapolis clients, we try to integrate all of these ideas into our design.  Your company’s website is like a city’s visitor center that people actually go to.  Make sure that when people come that you are open for business.

Trust Me, (Text) Message Received

Yesterday I had an unusual occurrence in that I received 4 text messages from Smile Dentistry (name changed to protect the marketing department).  They came throughout the day at no particular time and for no particular reason.  The basics of this message chain: I did not know Smile Dentistry, they texted me the first time by accident, the second time to apologize, the 3rd time about Zumba being cancelled and the 4th time to let me know Zumba was back on.  While their messaging wasn’t clear, the message was clear – they had no idea what they were doing.

This isn’t unique to Smile Dentistry.  Using text messages to get a point across to clients is new business but it is also one of the most efficient open rates in the land at around 95% – seriously.  Email rates are lucky to hit 20% or so.  And like a chump, I continued to open the texts regardless of the fact the messages had nothing to do with me.  In fact, I found that only made things more interesting.

So with this in my mind, I have decided to launch an all out marketing broadcast via text and email to tell everyone about today’s pottery lesson being moved to tomorrow.  Then I’ll remind them that pottery was actually yesterday and that I meant next week’s pottery class would be moved.  Once I clearly have their attention and know they will be listening, I’ll strike and say, “Sharp Guys Web Designs makes the most inexpensive, yet fantastically professional websites in the Indianapolis area – buy now”.  How can I miss?

Custom WordPress Based Indiana Website Design

Sorry, I have no excuse for using so many keywords on this blog posting other than I wanted to cram as many  industry specific terms in the title as I can.  In fact, I should have called it Indianapolis, Indiana Website Design using WordPress.  See what I did there?  I added yet another important keyword for my business into this needless blog post.

OK, I truly do have an ulterior motive.  All too often I read blog posts just like the one I was making fun of above.  The idea of keyword stuffing is not new to anyone, but the idea that it still works is somehow still around despite all of the proof it no longer works.  In fact, creating posts stuffed with search engine optimized keywords, links, etc in a short article is likely to lessen your page’s overall worth to Google regardless of how helpful the rest of the content is to your reader.

More than ever, you need to be careful with what you write and how you write it.  When writing blogs, using key, keywords is fine.  Using them literally as the subject and every other sentence is just going plain overboard.  It’s like that song by Blues Traveler, Hook.  In that song, John Popper writes:

It doesn’t matter what I say

So long as I sing with inflection

That makes you feel that I’ll convey

Some inner truth of vast reflection

But I’ve said nothing so far

And I can keep it up as long as it takes

And it don’t matter who you are

If I’m doing my job, it’s your resolve that breaks

And all too often, blog posts read the same way this song does.  They are written for the sake of being written and for the sake of SEO.  If you actually write to inform and teach, those things will likely rank better with Google as well.  Then again, I’m just a simple web designer in the city of Indianapolis…

The Horror: Small Businesses Increasingly Rely on 3rd Party Companies

Utilizing someone else’s services for your business is a fact of life for most small businesses and increasingly, large businesses.  Relying on security, servers, and terms of services from services from Apple to YouTube (I couldn’t think of a ‘Z’ company), you have to have faith that they will continue providing the services they initially offered when you signed up, for the same prices and with the same terms attached.  For many, especially people that feel the need to control a situation, this is a scary proposition.

That being said, services like Facebook, Twitter, Vimio, and the like are difficult to forgo for many small businesses that don’t have the expertise, budget or resources to serve the same function on their own.  In fact, for any size business, it is impossible to provide the same function and reach as widely used services like Facebook and Twitter.  So what does a business owner do to help feel better about their situation?

While situations liked the LinkedIn hacking that occurred 2 weeks ago are increasingly more common, so are additional security measures meant to stop it from occurring again.  And while there is always the very real possibility of a .com service of going out of business, the larger the company, the less likely it is to occur.  So pick your server providers, video providers, email clients, etc carefully.  Don’t be afraid to try the new kid on the block who is offering cheaper prices and a slicker interface, but remember that they have a greater likelihood of failing than a publically traded company or an experienced privately owned company.

Why would Sharp Guys Web Design, a relative newcomer to the Indianapolis web design market, mention this?  Well because all of our clients utilize servers and services from industry stalwarts that are exactly as described – less likely to fail or change their terms and prices.  Since all of our website designs are sold as a project, owned by our clients, and based on the open source and widely used, WordPress platform, the risk is further minimized.

 

 

3 Easy Fixes for Small Business Websites

We do small business website design and there seems to be several things that their websites often have issues with that are all relatively easy fixes.

Number 1 – businesses don’t make their contact information easily accessible – this should really be available throughout the webpage and any number of different areas but it should certainly be available on the bottom of your site. There should also be a way for potential clients/existing clients to contact you with questions, not just a lead form.  People should feel comfortable enough to ask questions and not expect a sales pitch.

Number 2 – if you have your email address easily accessible, don’t use an AOL, Comcast or Cox Cable-type address. Those types of email addresses make you look like a fly-by-night business and I have found that even companies selling technology have email addresses that are from the 1990’s.  There is nothing wrong with keeping those old email addresses but set up a new one that features the name of your .com.  It just looks more professional and is an easy switch to make.  You can even make the new email address forward all emails to your old email address.  One other thing, email addresses are nearly always free so make more than one of them.  Even if you are just a small shop, you can easily have 3 email addresses.  One should be called info@domain.com, the second should be for leads and be called sales@domain.com and the final one should be your personal business email address and be called yourname@domain.com.  These are simple changes but will always ensure your business looks like it is here for the long haul – not some Nigerian prince run shop.

Number 3 – Have a call to action. Regardless of your business model, a call to action is important.  If you are a plumber, you are obviously not asking for payment on your website but you could easily provide a form for your guest to fill out their email address.  Why?  The value add is that you could send them a white paper with the work you do, quotes from your past customers and an example of the damage to the wallet and to the structure of a building unchecked water leaks can do.  You also have their email address going forward for future coupons, sales, etc and your company is on their mobile devices email if they have another leak.  A .com site may have a much more classic call to action where a signup leads to an auto reply email with whatever you promised them for signing up.  These rewards don’t have to be huge, nor do they have to be discounts.  Remember that people are coming to you because you are an expert.  A little bit of expert information may just give them the incentive they need to sign up for your email newsletter or put themselves on your mailing list.

Using a Client to Write Your Weekly Blog

Writing something interesting about websites, search engine optimizations and the like isn’t always easy.  A lot of company’s hire outside writers to do this job or hire a specific staff member because it can be grueling.  However, that isn’t the case with every company I come across.  Indianapolis companies like Slingshot SEO and T2 Systems actually use their own staff to write their weekly blogs.  If possible, it is for the best.  After all, who knows your product better than the person who sells it, develops it, etc on a day to day basis.  Well – possibly one person; the client.

A client based blog can be an amazing addition to your weekly or monthly blogging repertoire.  First off, it shows your client that you respect what they do and you value their opinion.  Secondly, it gives you some additional insight into how they use your software or service.  Finally, it sells visitors to your site on your services because you aren’t doing your own sales pitch – your clients are.

Regardless if you use this method for a weekly blog or just once per quarter, utilizing a client to write your blog can be a neat idea that you can bet, not a lot of your competitors are using.  Try it out sometime and let us know what kind of results you have been able to achieve.