Mon, 10 Aug 2015 18:58:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 3 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Looking at Web Design Portfolios Thu, 29 Mar 2012 16:36:57 +0000 Continue Reading]]> 0 3 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Looking at Web Design Portfolios Richard Desarmes Web Design 3 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Looking at Web Design Portfolios English 7 Website Optimization Techniques That Make it Easier for Google to Find Your Business Fri, 23 Mar 2012 22:20:21 +0000 Continue Reading]]> 0 7 Website Optimization Techniques That Make it Easier for Google to Find Your Business Richard Desarmes Internet Marketing 7 Website Optimization Techniques That Make it Easier for Google to Find Your Business English The Key Ingredients to a Well-Rounded Online Marketing Diet Fri, 23 Mar 2012 00:30:48 +0000 Continue Reading]]> 0 The Key Ingredients to a Well-Rounded Online Marketing Diet Richard Desarmes Internet Marketing The Key Ingredients to a Well-Rounded Online Marketing Diet English Enter title here Tue, 06 Mar 2012 05:34:15 +0000 Continue Reading]]> 0 Language will appear here 5 Keys to a Successful E-mail Marketing Campaign Fri, 02 Mar 2012 00:19:08 +0000 Continue Reading]]> Building an ongoing e-mail marketing campaign may not sound exciting, but it is one of the fastest and most guaranteed ways to grow your business over the Internet. That's because subscribers to your newsletter are more than three times as likely to buy from you as first-time visitors to your website are; they also tend to place larger and more frequent orders.

All of those sales don't come without effort, however. To sell successfully through e-mail requires a long-term commitment, and some careful attention to the most important steps in the process. If you can make the commitment, though, the bottom-line impact of a strong e-mail newsletter will make it worth the work many times over

Here are five keys to a successful email marketing campaign:

1. Start with the right opt-in list. Like anything else in your online marketing efforts, building an e-mail campaign is all about matching the right buyers to the right message. Whether you are signing up current customers, growing your list through special reports and other information pieces, or even renting a list from another source, make sure you have the right match for your product or service, rather than random contacts – you'll never see results without the right list.

2. Keep your e-mail marketing messages short. No one likes to see a lengthy message sitting in their inbox, waiting to be dealt with. Keep your messages short – no more than a few paragraphs, if possible – and direct readers to click elsewhere to find more information. Not only will this make your e-mail marketing messages seem more crisp, but it will also make it easier for you to track the results.

3. Share first, sell later. Begin your e-mails with an interesting fact, rather than a straight sales message. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, and times when you want to start selling right off the bat, but in general it's better to share information first. That's because readers are generally interested in learning something more than they are making a purchase, so work to capture their attention before you look for a credit card number.

4. Include a strong call to action. Once you have your customer’s attention, give them a very good reason to click back to your site and make a purchase. Whether it's a new product, special price, or limited availability, try to create a sense of urgency that makes them want to act immediately.

5. Study the numbers and adjust. Treat your e-mail marketing newsletter the same way you would a web page, and pay close attention to the number of click-throughs and conversions it is generating. Over time, those observations will tell you which products and topics are attracting the most attention in your customers’ inboxes.

A successful email marketing campaign is a great way to increase your online profits, but it isn't as quick as dashing off a few product details and hitting "send." Stick to these five keys, and you'll be sending out the right messages in no time… and having them come back to you in the form of new orders.

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What Can You Learn From a Free Website Analysis? Tue, 28 Feb 2012 21:35:41 +0000 Continue Reading]]> When it comes to web design and Internet marketing, clients never run out of ways to surprise you. There's always a new project, or a new challenge, that we never could have imagined sitting right around the corner.

One of the things that has always surprised us, however, is how few companies take advantage of some of the absolutely free services our company provides, such as our website analysis. A no-cost review from your business web design team is a bit like a test drive at the auto dealership – a chance to try something out before you make a major investment, and to get some valuable feedback on what you already have.

That's because a good analysis isn't going to just tell you what you already knew about your site, but also give you some valuable information like:

Whether you're missing links. In the same way that your car can have problems that would be noticed by a mechanic before they were apparent to you, your business web design team can spot issues with your current site you might not be aware of. Things like broken links, missing content, incomplete pages, or an awkward site structure are all obvious signs of future problems to a team like ours. Even if you don't end up investing in a new business website right now, doesn't it make sense to know where the easiest places to improve your current site are?

The search engine value of your pages. Lots of companies that we meet with either wrongly assume that they are getting great search engine value from their current pages, or that they need a huge, complicated online marketing plan to get buyers from Google and other search sites. With a simple free web analysis, we are often able to show them how a few simple tweaks to their existing content could have an enormous impact in their marketing power, both on the search engines and elsewhere.

How well your site works and loads across different browsers. Because most businesses have certain web browser set up on their workstations, they might not have a good idea of how their site appears to visitors with other kinds of hardware and software configurations. This is especially true with older websites, and it's an important consideration because competition on the Internet has reached the point where it only takes a moment for a customer to click away to another destination if your site doesn't load cleanly, or quickly. By auditing your current setup through a number of browsers and systems, we can ensure that you aren't making silly mistakes that could cost your business lots of customers in the future.

And most importantly, where the biggest areas for improvement are. Each of these pieces of information is valuable, but probably none is as important as learning where your site could be improved and made more profitable in the future. Even if you don't have any current plans to upgrade your business website, having a little bit of information on what's possible, and what kind of difference some major or minor improvements could make, can make it easier to find the right decisions and investments going forward.

A free website analysis basically amounts to receiving a lot of years’ worth of marketing expertise and experience at no cost and no obligation. Why not call us today and schedule one for your business website?

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What Separates an Average Online Marketing Video From a Small Screen Blockbuster? Tue, 28 Feb 2012 19:35:04 +0000 Continue Reading]]> YouTube, the undisputed leader of online video, estimates that its site receives roughly 48 hours’ worth of new video every single minute. That means that, even with the 3 billion views a day the site is currently serving up, there are far more videos to be found than there are people to watch them.

While a large number of these undoubtedly feature singing cats and human oddities, many are uploaded by business owners and marketing managers, just like you, who want to see their companies grow. And so, the natural question that quickly comes to mind is: What separates an average online marketing video from one that's a powerful sales tool – a small screen Blockbuster?

There probably isn't a perfect answer to that question, but here are five elements that can certainly help get your online video marketing message across and grow your bottom line:

The right title. Believe it or not, what you call your online marketing video is almost as important as what's actually in it. That's because, although few people want to see "Bob's product demo," millions will tune in to check out "the coolest tech gadget you'll see in 2012." Get the idea?

The keywords you describe it with. As with the major search engines (and remember that YouTube is owned by Google), searchers can only see what they can find. That means marking your content with the right keywords is as important on YouTube, and your website, as it would be on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

A good script, setting, and camera. While going with a "low budget look" might have a certain charm, it also tells viewers that your company isn't ready to play in the big leagues. Resist the urge to take a flip camera and simply "shoot something" in your backyard. Professionalism matters, especially with online marketing videos.

The right angles, sound, and editing. In other words, all the things we were just talking about, except that they come after you are finished filming. This is an area where a professional video editing team can be invaluable. The potential for having your online marketing video viewed by tens of thousands of people is both an opportunity and a threat, so take it seriously and make the investment needed to end up with something you'll be proud of.

A strong call to action and current contact info. Let's say that potential buyers love your online marketing video. What comes next? Make sure that your website, phone number, or other important information is easy to read, find, and act on at the end of your video. Otherwise, whatever attention you gain will have been wasted.

Ultimately, it isn't having one video or a hundred posted online that helps you grow your sales – it's having a new avenue to reach potential customers through. Use these tips to make the most of it and produce an online marketing video that grows into something more than 99% of the other clips that make their way onto the Internet.

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How to Build a Profitable Direct Mail Campaign From the Ground Up Fri, 24 Feb 2012 16:13:32 +0000 Continue Reading]]>  

There are a lot of reasons that direct mail campaigns have fallen in popularity in recent years: The price of postage has increased dramatically, Internet advertising has become widespread, and potential customers can easily toss your expensively designed and professionally written sales letter in the trash in mere seconds.

Given all of that, why is it that some dedicated business owners and marketers stick to direct mail year after year? That's simple: because it can still be a highly profitable way to attract new clients, or even generate orders directly through the mail.

The key is an understanding that it's no longer simply about having a list and a letter – to make money in direct mail, you have to have a whole campaign in place, one that's designed to inspire enough interest in buyers to convince them to take action.

Here are some of the most important steps to building a profitable direct mail campaign from the ground up:

Start with the right list. It's much better to start with a list of a dozen great contacts – men and women that you know would have an interest in what you're selling and the means to pay for it – than it is to have the names and addresses of thousands who may or may not be a good fit. Taking shortcuts, in the form of cheap rented lists, almost always comes back to bite you later. Invest the time and money it takes to get accurate names from a reliable source, even if you have to compile them yourself one at a time. The resulting list will be something you can use again and again, profitably, for years to come.

Make sure your message has impact. With direct mail, it's not enough to simply be interesting or informative. Your sales letter is the equivalent of an in-person sales representative for your company who has anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes to persuade the customer to write a check or take the next action. That means a strong, emotional appeal followed by lots of supporting facts and figures, at least a couple of customers’ testimonials, and even the answers to common objections. It's not easy to fit all of this into a few pages while keeping the reader moving interestedly from one to the other, but that's what you'll have to do in order to turn a profit. The good news, however, is that once you do, the same sales letter (or different variations of it) can be recycled for the future.

Pay attention to design elements. As important as the copy is to your sales letter or mailer, first impressions are still important. That's why an eye-catching design can make all the difference in your response rate. Everything on the page should scream to the reader that they need to devote some time and attention to finding out what your direct mail piece is all about; it doesn't matter how well something reads if it doesn't first capture a potential buyer's interest.

Don't stop after the first attempt. As we already mentioned, the key to direct mail is in building the right campaign, not just the right list and letter. While a great first effort might pull in a 1 to 2% response, subsequent mailings to the same list can achieve much higher results as customers become more comfortable with your company and your offer. You will have invested a lot of time and energy into identifying potential buyers for what you sell; make the most of them by following up with future mailings, or even phone calls and other communications.

Test everything, and test it often. There is virtually no part of your direct mail campaign, from the design of your envelope to the sales copy and pricing structure, that you shouldn't mix up from time to time. These can range from small alterations to major overhauls, depending on the kinds of returns you've gotten from earlier mailings and the number of times you have mailed to your existing list. Once you stop experimenting, you lose your ability to become more profitable, so test all the parts of your direct mail campaign frequently.

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Finding the Right Web Designer in a Tough Economy Wed, 22 Feb 2012 23:28:43 +0000 Continue Reading]]>  

There is a certain irony to finding a good business web designer or web design team in a tough economy. On the one hand, you have a lot more choices than ever; you can bet that an uncertain economy will have lots of people looking for extra income anywhere they can find it. On the other hand, though, it's more important than ever that you make the right choice for your company, and a good investment with your business web design budget, as most of us don't have any room in the budget for bad decisions.

Because we know that a new business website can be a big investment, and because it isn't always easy to decide between different creative agencies, here are a few tips for finding the right one when it matters most:

Look for results. This seems like obvious advice, but what do results really mean when it comes to a new business web design? Lots of business owners and executives might think of things like samples and portfolios, when what they should be looking for are case studies, return on investment calculations, and even testimonials from satisfied clients. In other words, what you should be looking for is evidence that a web design team didn't just produce a finished website, but also one that helped the client to become more profitable after the work was completed.

Find out what is included. Along the same lines, a new business website, by itself, isn't worth a whole lot these days. That's true even if it's a virtual work of art. It takes a flow of new customers to have a bottom-line impact, and that means things like search engine optimization, social media marketing, quality web hosting, and more. The more of these services that are included in your initial web design quote, the better chance you stand of getting the right long-term value from the vendor you choose.

Read between the lines. As important as the results of your business web design project are, the process of getting a new site can be a pleasure or a nightmare on its own. That's because a good and reputable web design team is going to explain things clearly, deliver their work on time, charge what they've promised, and otherwise act like professionals. Other vendors may not.

For that reason, it's important to read between the lines a little bit and try to get a feel for the types of personalities you're going to be dealing with. Although there isn't any set way of doing this, looking at a firm’s reputation and following your gut instincts are good places to start.

Ask more questions. If you aren't familiar with things like search marketing, HTML code, or content management systems, you might be hesitant to ask your design team about them, or to ensure that the recommendations they are making for your project seem reasonable. Your job isn't to become an expert in web design or online marketing, however, it's to make the best possible investment for your business.

Remember that, and don't be afraid to ask as many questions as it takes for you to thoroughly understand what your design team is proposing. The right creative agency is going to invite you to bring up anything that's on your mind, because it's a chance to get everyone on the same page and start your working relationship off on the right foot.

It's never easy to find the right business web design team if you don't know exactly what you're looking for, and that's especially true in a tough economy. Remember that this big decision typically comes down to results and reputation, and don't be shy about asking any questions you have, and we can promise you'll do just fine.

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Are Your 2012 Online Marketing Goals Already in Danger? Wed, 22 Feb 2012 23:19:15 +0000 Continue Reading]]> Allow us to make an educated guess and say that you started off 2012 with some really big ideas for your business… including a set of online marketing goals that are already slipping away. It isn't that you don't want to follow through on them, or see your business grow over the next 11 months, but that those thoughts have already been put on the back burner because of other things you have going on.

It's easy to lose sight of what you want to accomplish for your business this year, especially with the distractions, budgetary constraints, and other issues that come with a fresh calendar. That doesn't mean you should lose hope, though. In order to make your 2012 goals happen, and not just become a list of things you wish you had finished this year, here are five things you can try:

1. Reevaluate your goals. Are your goals realistic? Do they accurately reflect the direction you really want your company to take this year? These are simple questions, but it isn’t unusual to find that a company is considering a web marketing activity because they think they should, not because it's the best move for them at the moment. Take a hard look at your current goals and revise them or make new ones as necessary.

2. Look for a first step. Showing up is half the battle, and getting started on your marketing plan is usually the toughest step. If you find that January has passed you by and you haven't made any traction yet, then figure out what a logical starting point would be, and then take the first step in that direction. You might just be surprised to find out how far one little move can take you, when it comes to building momentum.

3. Outsource more of your online marketing activities. In contrast, it could be that you just don't have time to do any of the activities, even if you knew the starting point, or to do so wouldn't be an effective use of your time. Luckily, you can always outsource part or all of your online marketing plan to a business like ours. It probably costs less than you think, and you might get more consistent and effective results by leaving things to a professional creative team.

4. Focus on the results. Speaking of results, few things are as motivating as seeing how a little bit of progress with your online marketing plan can pay off. In fact, it's often those little initial successes that propel you to bigger steps in the future. So, assuming you have a good web metrics plan in place – and you should – make a point of seeing how you are progressing week to week, because that might give you the strength to keep pushing forward.

5. See the big picture. Ultimately, Internet marketing isn't really about blog posts, e-mails, search engine optimization, or any of the other dozen tools we use: It's all about having a vision for your business in the future, and one that includes more sales and higher revenue. So long as you can keep your focus on that one idea, you'll be able to find the time, budget, or motivation to get started and try new things. The sooner you start working toward a better future, the sooner that future’s going to arrive.

Remember, Internet marketing isn't something you have to handle alone. Our team can help you take a set of goals and ideas – even if they aren't well-defined yet – and turn them into a bottom-line reality. Call us today to set up a free consultation and see how we can help you to reach your 2012 online marketing goals.

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