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Your business needs a Website – why not do it yourself?

Your business needs a Website - why not do it yourself? I love YouTube and its intuitive advertisement system – I believe it is a very clever way to target a certain demographic with the correct type of ad. Only problem is that I am always targeted with DIY website builder advertisements and one in particular is driving me crazy atm. It starts with the simple statement (I won’t give away the business name) – “You need a Website – Why not do it yourself?”

Where do I start to answer that question?

These days, there are literally hundreds of online website builders that offer free or supposedly cheap site design for business owners who want to create their online presence. Sign up, choose a template, chuck in some content and imagery and away you go. But as I have said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There are numerous pitfalls and traps related with using these websites that the casual user may not see. If you have bigger plans than just creating a quick site, such as generating traffic, expanding your business and generating profits – you must stay well away from these quickie sites.

Here’s the top five reasons why:

1. Building a website is not easy! 

There’s to a site than meets the eye. Not only does a website have to look good, it has to “act” in a certain way in order to drive customers into making a purchase or acquiring your services. That’s after they find you in the first place!

A good website has search engine optimisation, backup facilities, content management system, call to actions and many other components planned individually to suit your particular business and integrated into the design from day one. There is absolutely no way that an online builder knows (or even cares) what your business needs. This is what a real web designer comes in handy!

2. You don’t want the same site as everyone else – you want your own!

Using an online site builder involves using a template design – a pre-designed layout which you customise with your logo and content. If you are lucky, you may even be able to alter the theme colours – to a pre-set range of options, of course.

What this invariably means is there is potential for your site to look exactly the same as dozens of others. Chances are, if you liked a particular template, so did hundreds of small business owners around the globe. You will definitely not have that individual look that should define your site from all the others.

C’mon – your business should be as individual as you are – and so should your website.

3. Your site can disappear at any time!

“Never build your house on someone else’s land.” If you are ever tempted to go with an online site builder (paid subscriber or free), be very aware of the small print in the “Terms and Conditions.” The service provider, whoever that may be, reserves the right to remove any site at their own discretion, even if there is no legal reason for doing so.

That right!

The online site builder can go belly up overnight or just decide they don’t like you and your precious site is history. Add to that, the headquarters may be in Israel and your legal rights don’t have any weight at all there.

4. We actually care about your site and how it works for you.

There is absolutely no connection between your business and the online site builders during any stage of the process. You never speak to anyone and email is the only way to communicate. Even then, you will probably “converse” with a different service centre controller each time.

When you choose an actual web designer, we talk to you throughout the design of your website. We check that our decisions are on the mark and ensure that you are entirely happy with the results. This is essential to create a site that works specifically for your business.

On top of this, we need to ensure that your site is the best it can be because the success of our own business relies on “happy” customers. If you aren’t happy with the end results, you probably won’t refer us onto anyone and you definitely won’t give us a shining testimonial. That’s not good for business.

5. Your site should be your own – not covered with advertisements for other businesses.

If you opt for the free version of most online site builders, you will end up with a big banner ad somewhere on your site stating that “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH …. – BUILD YOUR OWN FOR FREE!”

Not exactly that professional look you are aiming for.

As web designers, Rusty Mango puts its name at the bottom of websites that we build because we are proud of what we do. It also tends to help a little built with your site’s SEO. But we don’t put something there to scream out “GET US TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE!” – That’s just rude.

Taking all of the above into account, the reality is that if you want your website done right, don’t do it yourself. With the precious time that you spend learning the system, creating the site and populating it with content, the end result is still a site that just doesn’t work. That’s time you could be spending more effectively working on your business, making sales and providing service to your customers.

Instead spend a little time finding a web designer that produces the type of work that you want (check their portfolio) and you feel comfortable working with to build and maintain your website. This will prove to be a much better investment in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four great plug-ins to enhance your Small Business Website

Wordpress PluginsI’ve said it time and time again – WordPress is ideal for all kinds of small business sites. That’s why it is the framework of choice for every single site that I design and build at Rusty Mango Design.

The reason WordPress is so perfect for a wide range of web development purposes is the huge range of add-ons (known as plug-ins) that are readily available for it. Mostly these plug-ins are free for commercial use (occasionally purchase is required) and they can be installed in no time – almost instantly enhancing the capabilities of a website.

Here’s some of the recent plug-ins that Rusty Mango Design has integrated into customer sites – along with the addresses of those sites so you can check them out for yourself.

WooCommerce

If you have been looking into building an online store using your WordPress framework, there is a very high chance that you have come across WooCommerce.

Currently the most popular e-commerce plug-in in the world, WooCommerce is open-source (this means the code is available for free) and runs online shops for all types of business – from the very small right through to the large corporate-sized stores. It has numerous add-ons that further enhance the shopping experience (shipping, shopping cart, etc) and has PayPal integration built-in saving the store owner the worry of collecting credit card information.

Setup time: Lengthy (depending on size of store)

Our Work: Check out WooCommerce in action on the Green Way Dance Festival’s site where it is used by competitors to register for the various dance genres. It is also being used in the framework for the soon-to-be launched Kaleido Kollection website.

Booking Calendar

The Booking Calendar plug-in enables online booking services for accommodation sites such as Bed and Breakfasts, Motels and Hotels.  Website visitors can check the availability of various accommodation types using an intuitive calendar style interface. Bookings are then registered through the site’s dashboard with the website administrator for approval. Once the approval is given, emails are automatically sent back to the customer confirming the booking.

Setup time: Two hours (approx.)

Our Work: See the Booking Calendar in action on the site for Cairns Gateway BnB.

Appointment Booking Calendar

This plug-in is fantastic for accepting online bookings from available times shown through an on-screen calendar.  Once a time has been set, the customer can then pay in advance through built-in PayPal integration, once again meaning no credit card information has to be stored on site.

You can use it to accept bookings for consultations, interviews, transportation and a multitude of other activities. The plug-in also allows the site administrator the ability to define the number of bookings that can be accepted.

Setup time: Two hours (approx.)

Our Work: We have just integrated this plug-in on the new site for Davidson Legal in the Northern Territory (coming soon).

Calculated Fields Form

The Calculated Fields Form allows the website administrator the ability to create forms that will dynamically calculate various fields of information and then display the calculated values. The setup includes a form builder with pre-set calculations or you can create your own from scratch.

The plug-in can be used for creating calculations for a variety of purposes including general calculators, weight monitoring and quotes for rentals of all types.

Setup time: Two hours (approx.)

Our Work: Rusty Mango used the Calculated Fields Form plug-in on the website for The Lock-up, Bowen. Site visitors can choose a self-storage size and select the time frame required. The plug-in then calculates the overall cost for the storage period.

If you feel that any of these plug-ins would add to the experience of visiting your website (or maybe some different ones), please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We’ll take a look at what we can do for you and provide a free detailed quote on the installation and setup of the plug-in for your particular website.

You’ve got a great site…. but no traffic!

Great site but no trafficYour website is built and ready for the influx of customers you are expecting. You’ve done your research into a successful website and you’ve put in the hard yards and used a reputable designer to get it all done.

Your “Call to Action” couldn’t be clearer if it jumped out and bit your site visitors on the nose. The content of the site is fresh and full of juicy but useful information. Products in your e-commerce store scream out for someone to buy them – they are just that good.

Everything is perfect.

But no-one is coming.

What’s gone wrong? When everything else is in place – how do you get that all important traffic through the front door of your website?

Tip #1: Identify your ideal customer and then hook them

Sit down with your business partners or employees and grab a pen and paper. You need to do some brainstorming and map out who is most likely to purchase your products or services. You need to examine aspects such as age, gender, social status and location amongst many others that may “pop up” in your discussion. This process is vitally important as it clearly identifies who you should be targeting and can often determine how to grab their attention.

For example, If you are in retail selling women’s clothing of a certain kind, your ideal target audience may be women over the age of 40, on an average wage, who are looking for clothing that is affordable and makes them look younger/slimmer.

Once you have identified your ideal customer, brainstorm again to find ways to connect with them. What does your ideal customer read, watch, listen to or even do?

Some possible courses of action include using Facebook advertising that allows your business to target directly to the market you want with specifics such as gender, age and general interests. You could also look at traditional marketing through magazines, radio or newspapers. What other interests does your ideal customer have that you can hook into? Write them down and test them out.

Tip #2: Identify your current customers and leverage that relationship for your website

While the last tip identified your “ideal” customer, you can’t ignore the others than may fall outside that “ideal” bracket. If you have been in business for a while, you will have customers who have bought from you in the past and continue to do so. You can use this relationship to build traffic for your website.

  • Set up a referral program with a coupon giving discounts to referring customers.
  • Give out your web address with each physical purchase or even on your invoices in the form of a simple, plain business card (your logo on one side, web address on the other).
  • Run competitions through your social media contacts that can expand to an outside audience and draw them to your site.

Tip #3: Use your industry links

Look at the contacts you have already have through your industry and look for like-minded businesses that you can link through. You may even pursue the idea of package deals: for example, a wedding MC may team up with a venue, local band, florists and a photographer to promote a full package deal. Set yourself as the prime organiser of the package and get customers flowing your site for the full details.

Tip #4: Sponsor your local community

Sponsor an event in your local community and be sure to brand it with your website details. You might sponsor the local rugby league competition, a charity event or even part of a large festival in your community. Purchase some large banners (the rollout ones are perfect) and get them into the public eye. Place business cards, brochures even sample bags where they are highly visible during the event and make sure that you are hand to answer any questions and prompt people towards your site.

As you can see, there is a multitude of methods and tricks that you can implement to get your site pumping with visitors. Literally thousands of articles have been written about just using Social Media to drive site traffic in favour of your business. You only need to try something and see what works for your particular industry.

While you are doing this, keep a close eye on your site statistics and engage with your new customers to see where they are coming from. This will give you the data to determine what is working and what is not.

No-one, but the very naive, will pretend that running a successful website isn’t hard work. But all the heartache, effort and time spent will be quickly rewarded when you start to see new customers coming through your site’s front doors and more importantly, buying from you.

 

Five tips for creating an effective E-Commerce store

The Online Shopping ExperienceFor an online store, positive online promotion by your customers is essential to ensuring continued success and growth for your site. A single positive tweet, review or post can drive more traffic into an ecommerce store than traditional means such as radio and paper advertisements combined.

Getting this kind of support from your customers goes far beyond the products that you sell in your store. It is often based on the whole online shopping experience that you provide. If your checkout service, payment and shipping processes are a nightmare, regardless of your product quality, then it is unlikely that you will receive any form of online promotion by your customers.

Here are some easy tips that will help to immediately improve your store’s online reputation.

Contact “old” customers for feedback

Some people will never complain about small issues in your service and continue to buy from you regardless. But those issues may be a prime cause for others not to revisit. Look through your past sales, select a number of “candidates” and send out a very brief survey. What do they like about the shopping experience on your site? What needs attention? How can we do things better?

By listening and implementing, you are reinforcing with these customers that you are a brand that cares and wants to improve your service. Next time they update their social media, you may just get that positive tweet or post that you are looking for!

Make your “Call to Action” abundant and clear.

There’s nothing worse than going to an online store (or any site for that manner) with the intention of making a purchase then finding that you can’t locate the right buttons to do so! When you “glance” at your website, can you immediately see how a customer can get in contact or buy something from you?

If the answer is NO, your “Call to Action” is not clear enough.

Have a clearly defined Complaints and Returns policy

Being loyal to an online shop is a two-way street. If your customers can see/read that you are upfront about your policies and have them clearly defined on your site, they are more likely to trust your brand. However, you must balance this by ensuring that your returns policy is something that you can afford and manage. Making promises you can’t keep won’t bring you any loyalty at all – exactly the opposite, in fact.

Work on retaining customers as well as attaining customers

Look at the service you provide to those who have already bought from you. Do you have follow up services that ensure that current customers are happy? Sounds tricky but it is actually quite easy to do via the power of the web. Engage with customers using Social Media, check with them via a monthly newsletter, ensure that your FAQ page is up to date, provide support on your site with contact forms and video tutorials – the options are endless. The idea is to make your current customers feel like they are still your number one priority.

Answer customer concerns ASAP

It took Dell almost a year to address the problems that blogger Jeff Jarvis first wrote about in his page “Dell Hell”. That’s a long time in the world of the internet however the Dell response changed the way that businesses listen to their customers. Through their specific website, Direct2Dell, customers were finally allowed a voice through to the company and it has revitalised the way they conduct themselves.

Do the same with your business website. Set aside a section where customers can talk to you about anything related to your products. More than that – make sure that you listen to what they say. Your brand and everything behind will improve dramatically as a result.

Your business is far more to customers than just the products you sell and through your website, you can ensure that they get everything ounce of support that you can provide to them. Turn your customers into advocates for your business and watch it grow and expand as they do the promotion for you. As Tim Reid (SBBM) likes to call it – “Word of Mouse” is a powerful marketing strategy that can make all the difference with your online success.

 

BE x DO = HAVE

BE x DO = HAVEThe classic life algorithm “BE x DO = HAVE” has probably appeared in countless blog posts before. But who has sat down and worked out their Website strategy using this simple mathematical problem as a basis?

I have known of Brad Sugars, the founder of ActionCOACH, since he was a Senior leader at my high school in Brisbane and have watched his business coaching “empire” grow with interest. Whilst not a great fan of his business tactics and holding no affiliation to his brand,  I have found nuggets of very useful information and advice in his YouTube videos. On his own site, Brad used to have a link to a free video seminar from his “Business is Booming” tour. In the three hour long video, Brad took the audience through the various reasons why businesses should keep striving through the global financial crisis which was in full swing at the time.  I spent a couple of nights watching the video and taking notes so that I could apply them to my own work at Rusty Mango Design.

One of the points that Brad raised in the video is the paradigm “BE x DO = HAVE”. Using an example from the video, a simple use of the math could be “BE Awesome x DO Awesome = HAVE Awesome”. Pretty straight forward until you realise that most people live this particular algorithm backwards, thinking that they must HAVE something before they can BE something.

I got to thinking to thinking – if this can be so easily applied to ones life, can it be applied to the success of your Website? It may not be as simple as Brad Sugar’s application but read on…..

If you are a business supplying a product or a service, the end result of creating your Website must be to “HAVE more business”. That’s the final desired result. How do we get there?

The first part of the algorithm is not about the Website – it’s about your business. To effectively use a Website to generate business, you must have a product or service that would benefit from online sales. The local doctor probably doesn’t need a Website to sell his services. On the other hand, your local florist could make a lot more sales simply by getting online. You need to research your market and find out what your clients and potential clients want.

BE a worthy online business.

Once you have done the research on your clients, now comes the hard part. Do you have site that will satisfy their requirements? Sit down with your web designer and plan out a strategy – Who is your target market? How do they shop? What do they look for first in a site? What is their preferred method for purchasing? Will the aesthetics of the site appeal to them? How do we get them to keep coming back? This is where a good relationship with your web designer is very important. They need to understand where you are coming from and what you hope to achieve with your site.

DO create a site that works for you.

However working with your web designer is only half the task. Once the reigns of your site have been handed over to you, there is still a lot of work to do. Start by reading back through the Rusty Mango blog archive. There are literally dozens of tips that will help you to develop and continue to grow a site that works for you rather than sitting stagnant on the world wide web. If the site is not working for you, it’s not worth having – so turn it around!

Finally, keeping those two elements (BE and DO) in mind throughout the whole process, you can arrive at the desired final result.

BE a worthy online business x DO create a site that works for you = HAVE more business.

This may be a little different to the way that Brad Sugars describes it but the principle is exactly the same. It is a very simple algorithm however it makes common sense for any small business owner who wants a site that generates leads and sales.

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design