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Does Your Website Need A Face-lift?

Posted on Apr 30, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

Stop.  Step back and take a look at your business, not from your point of view, but from the eyes of the consumer.  We all get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations of our business and it’s easy to overlook our appearance from the outside.  With a wealth of information at our fingertips, the first impression of a company is most often derived from its website as a person searches for a particular product or service.  As we know, first impressions are critical.  So take a moment to pull up your website and ask yourself the following questions (keep your customer in mind when doing so):  Can you find your website in a Google search for your product or service?  Is the site visually appealing?  Is the content up to date?  Can you find the information you are looking for and is it easy to navigate?  Does the overall design and layout look modern?  Compared to other sites for competing companies, would your online storefront win the business?

If your answer to any of the above questions is “no”, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your online strategy and consider a website redesign.  An out of date website can give an impression that the core of your business is outdated as well.  If you walked into a dental clinic sporting wood panel walls, orange shag carpet and an office manager on a rotary phone, would you feel comfortable asking for a root canal?  Ok, so nobody in his or her right mind would ever ask for a root canal!  My point is that this could be the best dentist around, but you would never know based on the first impression from walking into the office.  Take a moment and ask yourself this:  How do you want your business to be perceived and does your website give off this perception?

Aesthetic appeal is important and pertains to the artistic design and layout of your website.  Overall, this will have the most impact on the first impression of your business.  Studies have shown that little things such as a color scheme or font choice can have a psychological impact on one’s perception.  The layout for graphic elements and information is also important and should flow in a way that coincides with the natural tendencies our eyes have in scanning a page.  Believe it or not, there are hot spots where eyes tend to gravitate on websites and this needs to be taken into consideration. More information on eye movement patterns as it relates to web design can be found here.

Functionality and user experience of a site is also extremely important.  How many times have you searched for information on a particular site, gave up and moved on?  Information needs to be logically organized so the average person can easily navigate in its search.  Keep it simple and remember that often times, less is more.   Too many pages, especially if not properly organized, can confuse and frustrate people to the point that they continue their search elsewhere.

Speaking of searching, if people can’t find your site when searching for your product or service, you’re missing out on potential new business.  Designing a site with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind and having a strategy in doing so is crucial.  Social media integration, blogging and updating your site on a regular basis with current information will improve a site’s SEO, thus making it easier to find during a search.  In the SEO world, remember that content is king.  Also, being able to measure traffic and results is a must; if Google Analytics hasn’t been integrated, it needs to be.

Now that you’ve had a chance to think about a few things concerning your company’s website, ask yourself one more question:  If someone is searching online for your product or service, who’s going to get the call; you or the competition?  If it’s not you, then it’s time for an upgrade.

Give us a call today and ask about our special for May!  For more information contact, Rob Ridgeway, at 512-994-4429 or rob@hmgcreative.com

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Why You Should Launch a Mobile Site for Your Business

Posted on Apr 17, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

Everywhere you look someone is texting, emailing, looking up a product or Googling on their phone.  In fact, 91 percent of all US citizens have a mobile device within reach 24/7. This is why many companies are contemplating launching a mobile site if they haven’t already like www.badcreditmobiles.net/blog. But it seems even more business owners debate the value of having a second site when their traditional site can open up on a smartphone browser “just fine” and may be reluctant to spend the extra money. Well, with over 100 million smartphone users in the US alone and half of all search being performed on a mobile device, the value and necessity for a mobile web site is higher than ever.

Below are top reasons why you need to launch a mobile site to compliment your traditional website.

Content Prioritization

  • Mobile browsing is all about an easy, accessible experience. In comparison to desktop web sites (which usually contain a wide range of content and information) mobile sites include only the most crucial time- and location-specific functions and features. Traditional websites are too content-heavy, complicated and usually not relevant for practical mobile use.
  • Traditional websites simply can’t give mobile users what they need. They are designed to be viewed on a computer screen instead of a mobile device. This means that regular websites, while still serve a purpose, are not effective for a mobile user with broken links and cluttered information. Too much chaos on a little screen equals high bounce rates and a negative response to your company.

Rank Higher in Search

  • Because of their simplicity in nature, mobile websites have higher speed, making the visitor experience more pleasurable and this means increased relevancy to search engines.
  • Mobile allows you to have the advantage of coming up higher in search engine results for local searches performed on mobile devices. This means that when people search for your type of product or service using their mobile device, you can show up higher in the results just because you have a mobile website.

Increased Conversions

  • A mobile site makes it easier for on the go visitors to easily access information. Conversions increase as users can contact you with one-click calling, one-click email, and instant directions. This eliminates the need for your customers to take “extra steps” in order to contact or visit your business. In the age of instant information, an extra click could mean missed opportunities.
  • Integrating social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube with your mobile website is simple and will help retain your visitors and increase customer base and lead generation.
  • Fact: Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons.

Friendly User Experience = Repeat Interaction

  • Mobile sites help you attract both new and repeat customers by giving your business instant appeal when visitors land on your clean mobile site with all of the important information clearly and easily accessible.
  • When users are successful in finding what they need while visiting a mobile website, they’re more likely to come back. When mobile users land on a website that is distorted, they quickly exit and make a mental note never to return.

Bottom-Line:

Your customers and potential customers are utilizing mobile for almost every aspect of their daily lives. To stay relevant and accessible you must adapt your web strategy to align with the current mobile trends, which are only going to increase. Mobile gives you the advantage over your competitors; most of which are not yet leveraging the powerful benefits of mobile marketing.

Want a free assessment of your site to know how you can improve interaction with a mobile site? Give us a call and mention this blog post to receive $200 off your new sleek, very mobile interface.

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Hats Off to the Goorin Bros.

Posted on Apr 11, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

How do you define a great email campaign? Effective copy, concise subject line, clear call-to-action, sure. But putting hours of effort into an email campaign means nothing if you don’t see results. A successful campaign boils down to your brand understanding how to meet (and exceed) the expectations of your audience.

I, like most of us, am subscribed to numerous newsletters for a wide variety of reasons. Some for aggregated news purposes, business tips, daily deals or retail companies that offer value. I think we all know our favorites by the excitement we get seeing the new email freshly unopened in our inbox. This for marketers is a dream come true; these loyal subscribers are the pulse of the messages they create and move the needle for what’s to come.

A company recently caught my attention and now goes into a short list of brands that I not only enjoy watching, but admire their email campaigns and overall integrated marketing.

One night, killing some time before dinner I walked around downtown San Diego and went into the Goorin Bros. hat shop. The store pulled us in and almost back in time as we tried on hats reminiscent of the 1960s, old derby days that radiated class. It was so fun spending time in the store that on my way out I wrote my name in a book to be added to their newsletter list.

A few days later I received my first email from the Goorin Bros. and I was able to open it on my phone without a hitch. I thought the email looked very clean, sharp and with closer notice to this and emails to come, I was continually impressed with the beautiful, thoughtful design, clear messaging and access to information.

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Building Your Brand With LinkedIn

Posted on Apr 09, 2012 by James Trumbly

With more than 100 million registered users, LinkedIn is the number one professional networking website online today. As the popular site becomes more commonly referenced as a hiring and promotion resource, businesses should be familiar with how LinkedIn can help build their brands and increase company awareness. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

Flesh Out Your Profile

The most important thing you can do to boost visibility on LinkedIn is to flesh your profile out as much as possible. Make sure profile completion is at 100% and be sure to include as many skills and experiences as possible in order to increase your likelihood of showing up in search results.

Create a Company Page

LinkedIn’s Company Page feature helps you network with other businesses, gets you listed with Google’s search engine, and creates a platform for you to promote company news and services. Your company page includes information such as a company description, specialties, logos, Twitter and RSS feeds, company news, career opportunities, and more. Fill out each section of your company profile as completely as possible to boost visibility and attract page views.

Build Credibility with Groups and Answers

These two features are essential for building brand awareness. Let’s take a closer look at how they can boost your credibility:

  • Groups—By joining a LinkedIn group or starting your own group, you can connect with others in your field or with potential customers. Taking an active part in group discussions also demonstrates expertise in your field. If you’re starting your own group, be sure the headline communicates clearly what the group’s purpose is in order to attract the right types of contacts.
  • Answers—The Answers section enables you to provide input on questions relative to your field, thereby demonstrating your knowledge of the subject matter and increasing the relevance of your comments throughout the site. Posting on other members’ questions also increases your visibility and can establish you as a credible, thinking leader within your field.

Promote Your Company Profile

Once you have established your brand within LinkedIn itself, you can begin promoting your company profile on other venues. Invite followers with a button placed on your website, blog, email communications, and other points of contact.

Ultimately, the best advice I can offer regarding LinkedIn is this: keep it current. By making sure your profile remains up to date and that you’re interacting regularly, you can ensure that you stay visible to the people you want to reach.

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Facebook Timeline Has Begun

Posted on Apr 02, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

As you probably already know, or maybe are just noticing, changes for your brand’s Facebook page have just rolled out as of this past Friday, March 30th.  All Facebook brand pages have now been converted to the Timeline layout that most of us have seen on many of our friends’ personal pages.  With this conversion come many changes your company should be aware of; there are pros and cons.

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Yelp To Help Your Busienss – Part II

Posted on Apr 02, 2012 by Melissa Arnett

Hello again!  In our last installment, we told you about thecorsetcenter.com Yelp’s business model, their online and in-person presence, their users and growth.  In this installment, we give you concrete advice on how to leverage Yelp to add value to your business.

How you can harness the power of Yelp

1. Claim you free business listing on Yelp

This is so incredibly easy and free.  It gives you the opportunity to put your business out there and not wait for a good Samaritan (or Yelper, in the case) or the dreaded D&B to list your business.  Your business will come up when people search either on the mobile app or the actual website.  You have the ability to post photos, give a detailed business description, list the business history, and your specialties.  Also, Yelp has free business tools associated with the business accounts, like how many page views you’re gotten or how your business comes up in searches.  Pretty cool.

2. Host or sponsor a Yelp event

If your business is in a city with an active Yelp community, consider hosting a special event for the Yelpers.  This is a great way to get Yelpers in your business and introduce yourself to the community at large.   Contact your local community manager for more details about this.

3. Read your Reviews

Read both the positive and negative reviews.  People are much more likely to complain about something than to praise it, so if a reviewer does praise something, take that as 10 people praising it and keep doing whatever that was.  As a business owner, you can respond to reviews publically, right on that review, or privately, by sending the reviewer a private message.

In reading negative reviews, it is important to read them thoroughly to truly understand the issue.  Do not be tempted to lash out at the reviewer, especially publically; nothing good can come of that.  My best advice for this is to respond privately to the user and apologize for their experience, tell them that is not how you do business, and invite them to give you another shot.  I have personally had this experience and was glad to have the opportunity to share my experience with the owner and give them the opportunity to correct the issue.   And after that better experience, I updated my review.  Remember, the customer that complains is your friend.

4. Buy Yelp Ads

Personally, I think if you do the first three steps well and often, you will not have to do step 4 or 5 at all, but the option is there if you want it.  In fact, there have been accusations of Yelp being overly-zealous with trying to sell ads to business owners and these ads not being as effective as other advertising purchases you could be making (see Yelp Ad Sales).  From my experience, businesses on Yelp that provide a good service, reach out to the community in general and the Yelp community, will do well without needing to advertise—word of mouth is so much more powerful.

5. Have Yelp Deals

This is another service offered by Yelp and again, is there if you want it.  These are similar to Groupon and Localiter Deals but on your Yelp page.  One benefit of these is that in the search options, users can filter on companies that currently have a deal, so depending on the type of business you have, this may be helpful in initially penetrating the market or trying to stand out among the crowd.  However, you want to be careful and avoid “Daily Deal Backlashes” which can actually alienate customers and employees and erode your prices and reputation over time.  Value and quality propositions are always better in the long run and it will pay off.

Good luck and happy Yelping!