Monthly Archives: March 2017

Tips to Choose a Web Designer

When you’re self-employed, choosing a website designer is a crucial decision, as a good website can bring you more business and a bad one can drive away prospective customers.

Below are some important things to consider when selecting a website designer for your project.

What Types Of Web Designers Are There?

I don’t think there is an “official” definition, so I’ll give you MY definition:

  • Website Designer – helps you to determine the page layout, graphics, text location and colors of your site, as well as the navigation and how pages will cross-link to one another. He may also do the actual computer programming and graphic art work for the site, or may hire out that work to a programming specialist. A Website Designer is the project manager for your site design.
  • Website Programmer – takes the design from the Designer and creates the code to make the site run. She is also responsible for all the technical stuff that happens behind-the-scenes to make sure the site works properly for your visitors.
  • Graphic Designer/Artist – creates or choose the graphics for the site, including page layout, colors, logo, photos, illustrations, etc. Think of this person as the “visual artist” who creates the brand image for your site.
  • Internet Marketing Consultant – helps you to determine how your website fits into your overall marketing strategy, and how to get more traffic and sales from your website.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get all four of these skills from the same person.

A Note on Copywriting

You may find a designer who can also help you with the text for your website but don’t count on it. Be prepared to do your own copywriting, or hire a professional copywriter. Copywriters charge per page, sometimes up to $500 a page ($5,000 for a 10-page website.)

Here are 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters from my blog. And when writing headlines, check out my blog post on 3 Headlines Formulas that will help you create the best headlines for your website text.

Consider a hybrid solution: get advice about simple website copywriting principles from an internet marketing consultant, then you write the text. Have the consultant edit the text to make sure that it works on the web.

Who Is A Good Designer And How Much Do They Charge?

Much of your choice of designers depends on whether you want to work locally with someone, or whether you are willing to work remotely with them over the phone. Here are some things to think and ask about when hiring a website designer:

  1. Pay attention to how much they ask you about YOUR BUSINESS. They should want to get to know you and your business intimately. How else can they design a site that reflects you, your brand, and your business, unless they spend time to get to know you?
  2. Look at sites they’ve designed to see if you like their style. Is there a certain feel to ALL their sites, or are they flexible in their designs?
  3. Ask them if they did the actual graphic and layout design of the site, or if they just did the programming.
  4. If they don’t do the graphic work themselves, can they recommend a graphic artist?
  5. Do they have a structured, systematic planning process that leads you through the design phase, and if will they document all the discussions and decisions? If they have a Website Planning Guide that you’ll work through together, that’s really helpful.
  6. Ask them what they know about internet marketing and search engine optimization. Be sure that they’re creating a site for you that meets your larger marketing and business goals. (A pretty site is no good to you unless it generates revenue and prospects.)
  7. Ask the designer for their fees and what is the estimated cost for the site you want. They may not be able to give you a good estimate until you discuss content and features of the site. Expect to pay between $60 – $125 an hour, depending on their skill and their location. A quality website with good graphic design and layout will cost around $2,500 – $5,000 for a simple business website. If you add a blog, newsletter, shopping cart, autoresponders, email address setup, SEO, membership site, or logo design (or if you have many page on your site), expect the price to be higher.
  8. Ask them how they bill you. Will they invoice you monthly, or when certain milestones are reached? Do you have to make deposits?
  9. Pay attention to whether they’ll try to stick within your budget, or whether they keep suggesting new add-ons that increase to the cost of your site. Remember, designers aren’t responsible for your budget — you are.
  10. Talk to some of their current and recent clients, to see how smooth the process was. You want someone who has good project management skills AND good communication skills. They have to listen to you, not just give advice. And they have to get back to you in a timely manner with phone calls and emails.
  11. Ask them whether they will maintain your site after the initial design, and how much they’ll charge for that. Some designers want to create new sites but don’t want to maintain them. Someone like a virtual assistant (VA) may be able to maintain your site for a lower hourly fee, as long as the VA is skilled in website programming. Find out what types of programming are used in your site, so you can find someone to help you update it.
  12. If you’re going to maintain the site yourself, ask them if they’ll design your site so that it is easily maintained by a business owner. You can have your site designed on a blog/CMS platform, like WordPress, which will allow you to edit the text and some of the graphics.
  13. Make sure that your contract states that you own the copyright to the entire website (except, of course, for stock photos and graphic…the original photographer/artist owns the copyright to stock images). All content, including graphics that you hired someone to custom-create for you, and all the coding work, should be owned by you.
  14. Make sure you own your domain name, even if the website designer registered it for you.
  15. Ask your designer for original, editable source files. You need to be assured that you will be able to edit your website (or have another designer edit your website) with ease.
  16. You have got to enjoy talking and working with them. Do you LIKE the designer? Do you believe they’ll act ethically? Do you enjoy speaking with them? Do they stay focused to the task at hand, or do they ramble and waste your time? Do you feel you “click” with their personality and values? Do they offer you invaluable insight and advice about your site design?
  17. Tell each prospective website designer what your deadline is and ask if they can meet it. Many good website designers are already booked for the next 4-6 weeks, so you may have to wait for the designer of your choice. If you don’t have a specific deadline, brainstorm with the designer to create a good working deadline that you can both meet, especially if you will be doing the job of writing the website text.

Your website is crucial to the success of your business. By doing extensive interviewing of potential website designers, you’re more likely to pick one that can do the work you want, is willing to really listen to you, can create a site that reflects you and your business, and keeps within your budget and timeframe.

7 Free Tools to Manage Your Internet Marketing

Everyone needs a little help with implementing and tracking their internet marketing endeavors.

Here are 7 tools that will make it easier. I use these every day, so I can vouch for their effectiveness:

  1. Google Analytics — If you don’t track the results of your marketing, you might as well not be marketing at all. Google Analytics gives you a great overview of your site’s statistics plus some very nitty-gritty details that help you track internet marketing campaigns.
  2. XML Sitemap Generator — If you want good search engine rankings, Google likes it if you have an XML sitemap on your site. You don’t have to worry about what XML is, just use this generator and it will create the XML file for your site (up to 500 pages per site).
  3. BrowserShots — Are you aware that your site looks completely different on some browsers? Use this browser compatibility tool to see how your site looks in Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. For some real comparisons, check older versions with newer ones (like IE6 versus IE8). Why check older versions? Because 20 percent of people have IE6 loaded on their computer, even though it was created in 2001 and is not fully CSS compliant. Better safe than sorry.
  4. Google Keyword Tool — Want to know which keywords are popular and what people are searching for via Google’s search engine? This tool allows you to do some great market research.
  5. Alexa.com — Alexa allows you to see the traffic rank for your site and your competitor’s sites. When you enter the Alexa site, click on the Site Info link at the top.
  6. Compete.com – Compete also allows you to see ranking information about your site and your competition. Use Alexa and Compete together to get a fuller picture.
  7. SurveyMonkey — If you’ve been looking for an easy way to do market research, SurveyMonkey is the tool for you. It allows you to do online surveys, and I also use it for course evaluations and brainstorming in my mastermind groups.

Top 7 Internet Marketing Strategies

As digital marketing is becoming more and more necessary for a company, not understanding the best way to drive your business forward can really hurt your chances of success. If you are looking for a way to improve your digital marketing efforts, here are 7 of the highest performing strategies that can bring more people to your website, allow you to connect with new or returning customers, and create a digital marketing strategy that works.

Use the Right Web Design​​

We don’t often think about web design as a marketing tactic, but it can influence the amount of time and attention a user will spend on your page. Your website is the center of all your digital marketing efforts, so if your page is not clean, easy to read, and interesting, it won’t matter how much time you put into strategy development – you’re still going to lose customers. Create a website that is up-to-date, attention-grabbing, and most of all, mobile friendly.

Utilize Search Engine Marketing and Optimization

Search engine marketing and optimization allow your name and website to appear on a list of search engine results. With a strong SEO strategy, your company website will become associated with the keywords used to find your services. This increases your chances of being the company an individual chooses to work with when selecting a company that offers your services or products.

Utilize Affiliate and Associate Programs

An affiliate or associate program doesn’t make sense for every business. However, if you do use these, you can quickly see your marketing efforts improve without needing to do much yourself. With an affiliate program, people who believe in your company can share your information and grow your market on a commission-based platform.

Use a Coach or Consultant

If you’re not an expert in digital and internet marketing, ask someone who is. There are hundreds of internet marketing coaches and consultants available to you, many of whom can give you a consultation about what you should change to see success. For small business owners who need to focus on other business systems, a coach or consultant can be extremely helpful.

Use Email Marketing

It isn’t enough to just send out emails. You will want to consider various email lists that cater to the specific needs of each individual and can present a personalized approach to your campaign. Take a hard and clear look at the purchasing habits of your customers and use that information to develop your strategy.

Use an Opt-In Email List

An opt-in email list allows customers to come to you and sign up to receive email campaigns and correspondence. This allows you to connect with new customers or clients.

Use Articles or News Stories

Having your name and information listed in other locations on the web can help you grow your company and business. This makes your name visible in an area where customers and clients are already looking and also allows you to become a trusted source of products or services.

6 Must-Do’s for Effective Social Media Marketing

A lot of businesses do social media marketing wrong. They hear everyone screaming, “You must have a social media presence,” but what that entails isn’t always spelled out correctly. Social media marketing should be effective and affordable, and when done correctly, it can help scale businesses of all sizes.

Just like with traditional channels such as television commercials, radio spots and print ads, your results are going to be minimal at best if you broadcast your message to the wrong audience. To help you execute a successful social media marketing campaign, I spoke with six entrepreneurs to put together a list of must-do’s.

1. Dedicate time to learn how social media works.

There are a lot of social media marketing tips available online, from free content on websites like this one to paid courses you can complete at your convenience. It’s not very complicated if you take the time to educate yourself.

Charles Gumbley, Director of Flower Telecom, explains, “It’s important that you take the time to learn how social media marketing works for your specific business. While the fundamentals are similar across the board, different businesses will have to alter their strategies slightly in order to capture the attention of their target audience. In the beginning, consume as much content and free resources as you can. From there, you can then focus on your specific goals and objectives.”

2. Listen to your customers.

“The only way you are going to know what your customers want is by listening to what they have to say. It’s important that you use your social media platforms as an extension of your customer service. More customers are going to voice their opinion on social media than via email or over the phone,” says Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing forABODO.

When you listen to your audience, you open the door to other opportunities as well. For instance, when my influencer marketing agency plans campaign strategies for a brand, we often audit their social media followers to identify key influencers. Learn to listen to your audience — it can provide you with valuable information.

3. Use automation for consistency.

There is smart automation and then there is spammy, ineffective automation when it comes to social media marketing. You don’t want to blast out promotional offers all day long — that’s a quick way to lose all of your followers. Use social media as a way to communicate with your audience and provide them valuable information. When you do that, you create happy brand supporters you can eventually convert into sales.

“If you have a full-time social media employee, make sure they are consistent and push out content across all of your social media profiles. There are several pieces of automation software, like Hootsuite, that offer a free plan that can greatly increase your efficiency. If you schedule your posts in advance it gives you more time to dedicate to replying and engaging with your social media followers,” advises Daniel Moravec of StreetSaw.

4. Engage with and delight your audience.

“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.

Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.

5. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. I always suggest new brands should start with two or three social media platforms they are certain their target audience is active on. Master those, and then expand your social reach as the business grows and more effort can be allocated to additional social platforms.

Jasper Hillaud, Managing Partner of elf925 stresses the importance of focusing on the social media platforms that complement your brand, explaining, “While Pinterest marketing might not be effective for some businesses, it is one that we put a lot of energy into because we see that it works first-hand. Just because it wouldn’t be a preferred social media channel for a law firm, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s important to pick where to focus your social media efforts based on what works for your specific customer base.”

6. Track and measure everything.

“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO ofDigital Neighbor.