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Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing Strategy

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing StrategyWhile Social Media for small business continues to be a rave topic in marketing forums around the world, statistics indicate that, although annoying to some, email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools that a business can use to engage with its customers. Your Inbox is irrevocable proof of this – how many items of marketing did you receive this morning?

Although some will never be opened, the humble email can still be an effective way of reaching out to your customers. But, as with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s our four top tips to help you create an effective (and legal*) email marketing strategy for your business:

Grow your database 

Before you start any email marketing campaign, you need legitimate* emails in your database to use. Gathering these addresses is quite easy if you have an established website. You can use the popular method of the pop-up window or simply have a newsletter subscription somewhere on your home page. MailChimp has plugins that work directly through the WordPress framework and integrate with their newsletter systems, saving the hassle of collecting email addresses and adding them manually to your campaigns.

Whatever method you use, remember to always declare why you are gathering the addresses and what can be expected in return (see value point below).

Remember the Mobile Users

Due to the unstoppable growth of smart phones, more emails than ever before are being viewed on a mobile device. In fact, up to 75% of email opens* could be via mobile depending on your industry. To cater for this audience, ensure that your emails are mobile optimised – easy to read on a small screen, low on data usage and concise in their information.

http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing StrategyBe aware of the SPAM Act 2003

To keep your email marketing within the lines of the law, you must ensure that any emails you send comply with three main points  – Consent, Identity and Unsubscribe.

Consent – The receiver of your emails must be made fully aware at the time they subscribe exactly what they will be receiving in return. Consent can also be in the form of an existing relationship with the receiver i.e. they are already a customer.

Identity – Marketing emails must identify who is sending the emails and their contact information.

Unsubscribe – Each email must include an Unsubscribe option so that consent can be retracted at any time.

Learn more: http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam

Offer Value

The  secret behind any email campaign that wants to grow and be effective to offer subscribers VALUE in what they receive. Value can come in multitude of forms. You can reply with a free eBook, a newsletter filled with tricks and tips or keep them up to date with the latest industry news. If you are advertising products or services, butter up the receiving party with a discount voucher for their next purchase.

Everyone loves getting something for free and your subscribers are more likely to stick around.

Remember, what may work for one business may not necessarily work for yours. As with any marketing, try out all your ideas but be sure to MEASURE the response. Don’t spend hours of your precious small business time barking up the wrong tree only to find out that you aren’t getting a decent return from your efforts. Make a note of what works and what doesn’t, fine-tuning along the way. This approach will lead to an effective email strategy that will grow your business without eating away at your marketing budget or your valuable time.

 

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business Website

It was once optional for a small business to have a website. Nowadays, having an 24/7 online presence is mandatory to remain competitive in a global marketplace.

But keeping a website current and up-to-date is often hard for a small business. Your employees often have little “spare” time for tasks such as site updates and, as a result, websites can easily be forgotten – left on the “do it tomorrow” pile. Without this required attention, a stagnant site will soon start to repel potential business customers, rather than attract.

Luckily, with a little planning during the development stage (and a regular dedication of time), these problems can be easily avoided and your website can become a strong marketing hub for your small business that doesn’t drain your resources.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteIntegrate a Content Management System (CMS) from Day One

A user-friendly Content Management System allows site owners and managers the ability to update and create new content directly on their websites. By integrating a CMS as the framework for a new website, you are instantly putting yourself into the driver’s seat to control what goes on your site and how “fresh” it stays.

Learning a CMS is not hard either. The basics of WordPress CMS can be learnt in a matter of minutes, as the editing functions are styled like that of a Word Processor. As I often say to new clients – “If you can create a document in Word, then you can update your own website!”

Use a Content Calendar (and stick to it)

A content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar) helps to plan out new content for your website or social media feed and details when it will be created. This weekly, monthly or yearly calendar should be an integral part of your business’ overall marketing strategy.

By planning content in advance, you (or whoever manages your website) can commit to producing site-worthy information that is suitable for your target audience. By putting a due date on it and ensuring that date is adhered to, working on your site becomes part of your everyday business schedule.

Automate Site Updates and Customer Interaction

If it is possible to time aside for working on your site’s content, take advantage of tools such as the content scheduling that is built into WordPress. Create five blog posts or page updates at one time then use the schedule to program the dates that you want the content to be released onto your website.

Here’s the secret: this blog post you are reading was one of five that I wrote over a recent weekend. I have set the schedule in WordPress to release one every two weeks. Blog Posts for next 10 weeks – done!

Schedule a Post

Allow an Employee to take ownership of website management

Although small businesses don’t have employees to “spare”, it would be ideal to assign the maintenance and upkeep of the website to one person – a web-savvy employ who could take care of both website and social media posts.

Giving ownership of the site to an employee (with guidance of course) ensures that the site will be monitored and “fed” new content to keep your online customers, and Google, happy.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteGet your Web Developer to care of updates for you

If all else fails and managing your website is just not possible in-house, look to a professional. Many web development companies offer a monthly plan which includes website content updates. Caution though, if you are taking this option, compare the plan price against the everyday (hourly) rate of the company to ensure that you are getting a decent offer.

You will still to need to provide content via email but a professional will get it online, make it look pretty and ensure that it gets the right sort of attention.

As discussed in a previous blog post, an out-of-date website that is uncared for will cost you business. Prospects visiting the site will get a poor first impression and Google won’t care for your site either. With the tips above, your site remains “fresh” and acting as a positive reflection of the small business that it portrays.

Google Loves a Fast Site – Five Simple Ways to Speed Up your Small Business Site

Five Simple Ways to Speed Up your Small Business SiteAs proved by 27% of all websites on the internet, the WordPress CMS is an amazing framework to build upon when creating any site. Not only is it simple to use and update, WordPress has a huge community of developers around it, consistently creating new plugins for use in the CMS. The base framework of WordPress itself is so popular, it is estimated to be used by over 70 million websites worldwide!

It’s so simple to use WordPress to add fresh content, plugins and imagery that sites can easily get slowed down by the shear workload. Today’s internet-savvy visitors expect a site to load its content in under five seconds – any longer, and they will start leaving in droves.
Luckily there are five simple actions that you (or your web developer) can put into place to ensure that your site speed is up there with the best.

#1 Optimise all Images

All website owners and operators need to ensure that images have been optimised before they are uploaded to a website. This means that PNG files should be run through an optimizer like TinyPNG to reduce them and JPG images files must be reduced to at most 80% quality. There’s plenty of free editors that can help with this optimisation including the very capable Irfanview.

#2 Minimise Website Code

Most websites are made of complex programming code, generating everything that you can see on the browser screen. This code is not usually contained in one single file, meaning that your site is “pulling” information from several places as it loads, slowly down the load time.
Adding a plugin to your site such as JCH Optimize helps to automatically compress and tidy up some of the code (specifically CSS, JavaScript and HTML) into one file on the server. This singular file is then accessed by your site visitors, effectively speeding up the load time on their browsers.

#3 Reduce call-outs to external sites

Whilst grabbing web fonts from Google and displaying Social Media on your site may be appealing and give you loads of instant content, they are responsible for a majority of site drag. When accessing information from external sites, your poor website not only has to load itself but it also needs to load content from these other sites.

To prevent this, use common fonts or fonts that can be stored on your own server and minimise your Social Media display – at least on the home page.

#4 Optimise your site’s database

Over time, site updates and usage takes a toll on the database which stores all the information for your site. Keep this data inline and optimised with the WP-Optimize plugin – it will automatically tidy the stored information on a set schedule and keep the background of your site neat and tidy for quick access.

#5 Use Online Tools to determine blockages

If you have tried all the tips above and still need to squeeze out a few seconds of load time, head over to GTMetrix and type in your website address. This online tool analyses your site speed using Google PageSpeed and provides a concise list of how your site is performing and where improvements can be made. Some areas may be too technical and need the assistance of a web developer however quite a few can be “fixed” by a novice user with a few spare minutes.

Conclusion

It’s important to note that not only is site speed essential to your visitors, it’s also important to your Google ranking too. Page speed is an important part of the Google Algorithm – slow loading sites will be penalised with low ranking in search results.

Need help getting your site “Up to Speed”? Rusty Mango Design are specialists in developing WordPress sites and we can tweak your small business site until it is purring like a kitten. Send us an email today and we’ll check it out on GTMetrix for you (free-of-charge) and we’ll let you know exactly what we can do to help!

Five Simple Ways to Make Money from your Website

Five Simple Ways to Make Money from your WebsiteBoosting the bottom line of a small business should be the core principal behind any new web site development.

Whether it be from service awareness, online bookings or product sales (as examples), a website must be utilised in such a way to help a business generate increased income. After all, an income is what allows business owners to further development their companies, pay their employees and live the life that they want with their families.

Making this income via your website is actually easier than you think.

To get you on the right track and grow a site into a “money-making” machine* – here’s five simple ways that your website can make money for your business:

* no guarantees here unfortunately….

#1 – An Online Store

If you have any kind of product to sell, the “no-brainer” way to make money is to establish your website as an eCommerce store. An eCommerce store, if set up correctly, basically does all the work for you – with the exception of purchasing stock and sending packages out the door. Your customer select products in the online store, pays online via a multitude of methods and then selects the preferred shipping to their address.

The current eCommerce program of choice for Rusty Mango Design is the excellent WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. WooCommerce is an affordable option for small business that is highly customisable to any individual store’s requirements.

#2 Google AdSense

For the uninitiated, Google AdSense is a system used by website owners to make money by displaying Google ads. Perfect for individuals and service operators, the ads that are displayed on your website usually compliment the services you provide so for example, Rusty Mango’s blog could display ads for web server companies such as Digital Pacific.

The system works by crediting your Google account each time a site visitor clicks on an Ad. Once the credit in the account reaches a certain amount. depending on where you are in the world, you receive a payment into your bank account from Google.

#3 Affiliate Links

Affiliate links work in much the same way as Google AdSense however they are generally set-up by individual companies. An advertisement is displayed on an affiliate business’ website and for every sale that is made through that advertisement (i.e. on your website), the business earns a small commission. It can be very effective – Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income made over $87,000 in October 2016 – all through his affiliate links.

Five Simple Ways to Make Money from your Website#4 Online Courses

Many small business operators have a wealth of knowledge to be shared with their customers. Often this knowledge is given away for free in the form of advice and instructions.

The alternative to giving this information away is to structure it into an online course. The course can be delivered in video, audio, written, interactive or any combination of the four. Through the introduction of a simple payment gateway (monthly or overall course payments), participants can access the course material and use it at their own pace. The added advantage of this is that the information only has to be created / delivered once before being used many times over.

#5 Online Bookings

Perfect for service industries, a website with a booking system allows a business to “fill up” their time schedules without even picking up the phone. This model is used globally by hotels/motels, doctors, chiropractors, electricians and even plumbers. A simple calendar allows potential customers to see what timeslots are available and book their service to suit their own needs.

Some sites even take care of payments at the same time – removing the need for invoicing at a later date.

Conclusion

Please note that all the methods above need one important thing to get started – Site Traffic. Creating a steady flow of Site Traffic is a whole industry in itself but for the site manager, there are three simple keys to get right (and we’ll cover these in more detail in a future post): Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), content that makes your site enticing and worthy of a visit and finally, good reasons for your target audience to return again in the future.

With quality offerings, effective site practices and a target audience wanting to buy, any website can start generating a passive income that can be re-invested into your small business and boost it to the next level.

Five Steps to Writing Great Blogposts that ENGAGE

The key to writing blogposts is consistencyA Blog post is a great way to create fresh content for your website and a fantastic way to demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry. By producing helpful posts on a regular basis for your website audience, you can build a dedicated following who will often revisit your site just to see what you have written next. Another benefit of blogging is that your website content remains fresh and everyone knows that Google loves “fresh” sites in its search results.

Several clients of Rusty Mango Design have recently started writing blogs on their sites to build their online influence so we thought it’s a perfect time that we share the process we go through to write an engaging blog post.

Step 1: Choose a Topic

Once you start down the blogging pathway, you’ll find that ideas for new posts are continually popping into your head. Be sure to write each one down (I write mine on post-it notes) and store them in your ideas folder.

These ideas must be relevant to your target audience and they must be helpful and/or solve a problem.

Once you have a selection of ideas in your folder, choose one and move onto Step 2.

Step 2: Research – What do others have to say on the Topic?

Get online and see what other experts in your field are saying about your chosen topic. I don’t suggest that you plagiarise but doing some simple research will help galvanise your own thoughts and get you ready to write your own piece on the subject.

My Mindmap - its messy but it works....Step 3: Create a Mindmap

Next, use a simple mind map to pour out your key ideas for the post. The mind map for this very blog article is shown on the right.

Write your topic in the centre and branch out in all directions with the various points on that topic – it’s amazing how the ideas start to flow once you start. Feel free to scribble down anything that pops into your head.

Step 4: Start Writing but use your Own Voice

Start writing your posts using each of the various points from your mind map. Expand on each point but don’t go too overboard – stick to the basic K.I.S.S. principle here (Keep It Simple Stupid). Waffling on will lose your audience.

Be sure to speak the words out load as you type (be ready for some weird looks from your co-workers here). Your text should reflect the way that you speak – your audience wants to hear from you, not some academic lecturer.

Finally, use a timer (I use a Pomodoro Timer App on my phone). This keeps you focussed on writing and prevents your blog post from consuming your entire day.

Step 5: Create a Summary and a Headline that HOOKS

Create a short summary/excerpt of your blog article to post onto Social Media (Facebook and LinkedIn are my choice) – this is much easier to do straight up after you have written the blog post. Don’t wait and do it later or you may lose the flow of your topic.

Finally, the headline of your post is essential to hooking the attention of your potential readers. Just like the headline in a newspaper, it needs to make the reader want to find out more. Headlines are an art form in themselves. Joanna Wiebe at CopyHackers has written an excellent article on this very topic: 5 Criteria for Writing Powerful Headlines: https://copyhackers.com/2013/09/writing-powerful-headlines/

Conclusion

By following the simple steps above and getting in the practice of writing a blog post on a regular basis, you will find that ideas will soon start to flow easily from your head onto your screen. Keep at it too – the helpful content you produce will be a great addition to your online arsenal, confirming to all your potential clientele that you are an expert in your field and your business deserves their custom.

Five Internet Strategies that could save your Small Business

Let’s be clear from the very beginning – using the internet for small business is NOT the guaranteed golden bullet solution to all your problems. The addition of an online presence will not automatically turn your fortunes around. Running your own website, engaging customers on social media and selling products online takes effort and hard-work – as will all the strategies outlined in this post.

The internet definitely offers you more avenues to market your business than ever before. You can generate followers and advocates that will purchase from (and market) your business 24/7, sometimes without any one-on-one interaction from you.

Below, there are five online strategies outlined that your business can employ to help raise awareness of your business and its offerings and, most importantly, boost that bottom line.


#1. Boost your Facebook Posts

Facebook BOOSTEver seen the big BOOST button on your Facebook page?

This is the button you will see next to any posts you have made. With the power of a BOOST (and a minimum spend of $7/day), you can actually display your posts in the Facebook feeds of a very specific audience. These people are the prime candidates to which you want to market your products and services.

For example, our local dance shop is selling Fascinators for the upcoming races in town. With Facebook BOOST advertising, they can target:

Women, who like Fashion, and live within 50 miles* of the town, in the 18-50 age group

With targeted boosts, you get your message sent out exactly where you want it to go – much better than casting a broad net and hoping you catch something.

* Not a typo – Facebook, an American company, measures in miles regardless of your location.


#2. Build an eCommerce Store

eCommerce online storeCoupled with the low overheads associated in running an online store alongside your “bricks and mortar” business, there are two major advantages for building your own online store

Firstly, an eCommerce store can sell your products and services 24/7– your customers don’t have to wait for the doors to open or for you to even be available. A good online store is set up to run automatically with payment options and shipping processes integrated.

Secondly – your online store is capable of selling anywhere in the world. Your customer base is dramatically widened beyond the immediate geography of your shopfront. If someone on the other side of Australia (or the world) wants to buy your goods, they can access your online store and make the purchase whenever they want.


#3. Provide 24/7 Customer Service

Customer ServiceGood customer service can be time intensive, and sometimes very repetitive with no immediate remuneration for your time.

With a website, you can off-set some of the repetitive parts of your customer service through the use of frequently asked questions (FAQs), video tutorials and downloadable help sheets (Bunnings are the masters of this) to name just a few. 

Setting up your website’s customer service area properly would be time well spent as the support you provide online can save you hours either on the phone or answering emails.

 

 


#4. Plan and maintain a Content Marketing strategy

Content MarketingContent marketing is a must have on any small business website. To clarify, Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and producing valuable, relevant, and consistent content that attracts and retains your target audience. It is also a key element of the Google search algorithm, helping to determine your website’s placement in search results.

How do you create an effective Content Management Strategy?

  • Decide on your content mediums according to your strengths and your target audience (Blog, videos, podcasts, newsletters….)
  • Generate a plan in calendar format which includes the dates, topics and mediums for the creation of your content. This includes social media updates and blog posts.
  • Stick to the plan – consistency is the key to success!
  • Monitor your traffic to gauge the success of each item. This will give you valuable information in relation to what is working and what isn’t.

#5. Give Email Marketing a try

Email MarketingIf you are thinking of employing an email marketing approach to broadcast your small business, you can’t look past MailChimp (no affiliation with Rusty Mango). It has almost everything built-in to help you create great looking emails, distribute them and, most importantly, keep you within the law regarding SPAM.

Note: You cannot send emails from a business in Australia to anyone you like. You must have the recipient’s permission or an existing customer relationship with that person.  For more information, take a look at the Spam Act 2003.

Using MailChimp (and common sense), you can create an email campaign that drives business to your website and your physical store:

  • Use a pop-up plugin on your website to acquire email addresses from your site visitors. Some of these can be set up to send collected addresses directly to MailChimp.
  • Create list of your existing customer’s emails. Excel is a good way to do this as you can import spreadsheets to MailChimp.
  • Using one of the many templates, create your first email newsletter. Re-purpose some of the content that you have created for your site – blog entries are perfect for this!

MailChimp has a built-in unsubscribe option. Recipients of the email simply have click Unsubscribe in the footer of the email and MailChimp will automatically remove them from the list, satisfying another condition of the Spam Act.


Conclusion

The real secret to a successful and productive online presence for your small business is summed in one word – consistency. Your website cannot be a stagnant brochure for your business, it needs to be dynamic, helpful and must reinforce your position as an expert in your field with quality service and/or products. Make an effort to set aside 15 minutes a day and develop each of the strategies into a workable system for you – the rewards for your business will become clear in no time at all.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? If your business needs help developing any of the strategies above, please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design – we love to help small business!

How to be there for your customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)

How to be there for your customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)Sit back for a moment and think of a business that you deal with regularly – one that you enjoy returning to time after time. Now, delving a little deeper, why do you go back to that particular business each time? Is it just for the price of the goods and services?

Chances are (with the exception of the big chain stores), it’s not – you go back for their customer service.

At the end of the day, businesses are often not remembered by the goods and services they provide. They are remembered for the helpfulness of their customer service and the promptness with which it is given.

To the small business owner, time is always valuable and providing a customer service that is high quality, helpful and prompt can take a fair chunk of this time. Fortunately, with the right systems in place, you can provide this level of service through your website.


Here’s five website-based systems that could work for your business:

The Helpdesk

Easy to install on most content management systems, a helpdesk provides a simple form for customers to complete which is sent directly via email to the business. With this system, unless you have staff available 24/7, be sure to indicate on your site the hours that the form will be supported. Outside of these hours, link the Helpdesk straight to the FAQ (see below).

Example: https://www.zendesk.com/

LiveChat

A very popular option, this system incorporates a small pop-up chat window (usually in the lower right of the website screen) that is answered by the business’ staff. When staff are not available (i.e. serving customers in a physical store), most live-chat systems will display a message asking the visitor to leave a question that will be answered ASAP.

Example: http://www.signatureclothing.com.au/

Troubleshooting Guides

These guides can come in a variety of forms, the most popular being factsheets and tutorial videos. Without taking valuable time to answer the same question from a multitude of customers, a guide can help the customer work through the problem themselves. A great example of troubleshooting guides can be found at the front counter of any Bunnings store with their variety of how-to pamphlets.

Example: https://www.telstra.com.au/webforms/cares/

FAQ (Frequently Answered Questions)

Similar to the troubleshooting guides above, the FAQ of a website can be built over time to answer those questions that pop-up repeatedly. With a FAQ, you only have to answer it once and that answer is then available to anyone with the same question in the future. An additional part of an FAQ can include a “smart” form that starts looking for an answer as you begin to type – like Google does when you start to search.

Example: https://vimeo.com/help/faq

Community Forum

Provided you can generate a “following” for your products and services, a forum is great for customers to start helping each other. Users can post questions and they can be answered by either other forum members or members of staff that are available. Once a forum starts “rolling” along, they can be very effective in generating a “tribe” of followers for a business.

Example: http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php


Start small and build your support system over time using the questions that you hear every day. By using actual customer enquiries, you can answer exactly what your cliental needs to know without having to re-invent the content yourself. And by simply setting aside a small amount of time each day/week, you can build a resource that will not only save you time and money but can help your customers even while you sleep.

Note: If you opt to use the non-automated systems such as LiveChat and Helpdesk, your staff must ensure that answers are provided as soon as humanly possible, especially with LiveChat where a customer may be waiting for the answer.

Why your small town business needs a big business website

Why your small town business needs a big business websitePutting my obvious bias aside (and many other business owners will back me up here), I firmly believe that if you are operating a business in the 21st century, irrespective of where you are or what your business does, you must have a website. Smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere in our modern society and they are all “jacked” into the internet 24/7.

For the business owner, this means, regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you on Google. Very few people are reaching for the Yellow Pages these days – it takes far too long (no wonder the Yellow Pages have begun to move online) and can be confusing with the numerous listings. But if your customers can’t find you on Google, I’ll bet that they will certainly find your competitors in the search results and you will lose their business.

This also applies to businesses that traditionally operate out of a small town community, like Innisfail, where I live and work. It’s important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and, because of technology, the world is much smaller than it used to be.

Despite these facts, I still find myself, on a regular basis, trying to convince businesses in my home town that a website is a necessity – even for them!

Here’s three of my counter arguments:-

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

So, why would you settle for doing business in a tiny demographic when you could go global?

As Donald Trump often says, “Think Big!”

A website can level the playing field for the “little guys”

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your particular industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

–          An easy to use interface.

–          A clear Call to Action (CTA).

–          Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks or tips).

–          High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers through the use of an effective Social Media strategy. With very little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.  

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions completely separate from your business involved and, as long as those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

–          Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.

–          Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.

–          A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).

–          Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

A properly built and managed website allows a small town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

In 2015, every Small Business NEEDS to get online!

Every Small Business needs a siteCompared to traditional marketing methods, it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to kick into action. And, if you want you can pass it all over to someone else to build and maintain it for you. Yet more than 35% of all Australian small businesses still don’t have a website. With statistics revealing that 92% of people in 2014 were searching online for products and services, there are a lot of small businesses that are missing out on potential customers.

Small business owners who don’t have sites generally believe that a website won’t do anything for them, they think it will cost them too much or claim that they just don’t have the time for one. However those who have moved their businesses online can easily show naysayers that by including websites in their marketing plans, they have improved their bottom line, saved on marketing costs and, importantly, exposed their business to a wider audience.

Take a look at the three examples below. These are not your traditional online types but each can still take advantage of a customised online presence:

Office Supplies

A small stationery supplier in a regional town can still grab a chunk of the online market away from the big boys – without breaking the bank. Now, they may not be able to compete with stores such as Officeworks on price, due to the sheer bulk purchasing of the chain stores, however they can exploit and utilise one huge advantage – simple convenience.

Imagine that you require stationery supplies delivered to your door and – you want them now! There is no way you will receive next day delivery of any of these supplies in a small town – even if you pay for the premium postage. What if you could log into your local store’s website, make and pay for an online order and the goods were delivered within the hour (free of charge) to your business door?

That would certainly level the playing field in the local store’s favour. Cost vs convenience – I know which one I choose when I need something fast.

Bed and Breakfasts

A small B&B in regional Queensland has one small cabin for bookings, overlooking the beautiful Goldsborough Valley. With only one cabin on offer, traditional advertising makes it very hard for potential guests to call up and find available dates. With a website however, all bookings can be moved online.

Site visitors can view a calendar integrated into the site that displays available dates, potentially booked dates (that have not been confirmed) and dates that are booked-out. The site owner can easily keep track of upcoming bookings and contact new bookings for confirmation.

Plus, these bookings can be made 24/7 – no need to answer a phone.

Example: http://cairnsgwaybb.com/

Agricultural Services

Up here in beautiful North Queensland, we have a multitude farms with all varieties of produce year round – tomatoes, bananas, coffee, pawpaw and, of course, sugar cane to name just a few. Whilst most of these farms can benefit from getting online, like Liverpool River Bananas and Madella Coffee have, it’s the support agencies that work alongside these farmers that could really improve their services with an digital presence.

Growers Associations such as Burdekin Productivity Services supply their members with the latest information, weather and crop reports as well as industry news via a well-maintained website. No more group emails, phone calls, costly printed reports or newspaper articles – the association can update their sites daily at no cost (other than employee time) to ensure that their members are completely up-to-date with their industries information. For even more interaction, Association sites could incorporate forums and blogs allowing its members to converse and share their own information.

http://bps.net.au/

Regardless of the type of small business, more consumers than ever before are searching for services and products online using smart phones, tablets and computers. This upward trend in usage is increasing each day and small businesses without a site may be missing out on their own slice of the online pie. Even those who have a site may be missing out if their current setup is not utilising all the various options available to it.

Is your small business taking full advantage of online possibilities?

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design