Archive for the ‘General – Websites’ Category

Why you should ALWAYS use a professional email address!

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Professional ImageSmall business owners are often hesitant to change their existing email addresses when they create their first business website.

The owners argue that the Gmail or Hotmail address that they have been using for the past ten years “still works” and that there is no need to change over.

What these business owners are failing to realise is that the benefits of a professional email address far outweigh any drawbacks they may have and the changeover doesn’t have to be a nightmare either.

Benefit #1 – A PROFESSIONAL email address conveys a PROFESSIONAL image

The generic email addresses from webmail services like Gmail and Hotmail can give a small business the appearance of being a fly-by-night operation and not very serious about how they operate. It can also convey that a business is new, small, or even part time!

A generic email address also doesn’t encourage trust in the brand of your business.

Some prospective clients will simply refuse to share information through to a Gmail or Hotmail account. They want to know that your business is legit and serious enough to engage with.

A professional email address will give you the right branded image to do this.

Benefit #2 – Your own email address makes you easy to REMEMBER.

With so many businesses staking out their claims online, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Think of the number of email addresses that you have in your own professional directories – Can you remember any of the generic ones?

For example – it is much easier to remember bob@cassowarycoastdining.com.au* than bob332521@gmail.com

Let people get in touch easily by being memorable with your own branded business email address.

Benefit #3 – Give your small business a BIGGER image

Having your own professional email address system lets you convey a corporate image regardless of the size of your business.

By setting up multiple email addresses for the various sections of your business, prospective customers will perceive that you are a much larger business than you are and to some of them, bigger IS better.

For example, Cassowary Coast Dining* could use email addresses such as accounts@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, support@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, bookings@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, etc.

Small Business looking BIG

Benefit #4 – You can promote your Brand – EVERY time you send an email

By using a professional email address, you get to promote your OWN business every time you send out an email, not Google’s or Microsoft’s. Even if the recipient has never heard of your business before, your email address is an instant way of bringing it to their attention.


For those still hesitant to make the change, the move from generic email to branded email doesn’t have to be an immediate one (nor do we recommend it).

Make the change with these four easy steps:

1. Be sure to make all your customers aware of the new email (a MailChimp Newsletter would be a great way to do this).
2. Continue to monitor incoming emails via the generic platforms of Gmail or Hotmail.
3. All new outgoing emails should be sent via the new email address.
4. Once the incoming emails to the generic addresses have slowed or stopped completely, close those accounts so that they can no longer be used by anyone.

If you are interested in setting up professional email addresses for your business, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and we’ll work with you throughout the changeover process (and beyond).

* Cassowary Coast Dining is not a real business. Those email addresses are purely for demonstrative purposes.

Five Key Signs that your Website might just need a Redesign.

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This year, the humble website as we know it turns 27 years old.

Since scientist Tim Burners-Leigh created the first ever webpage in 1990 (that’s it on the right), billions of pages have been added to the World Wide Web that we now call the Internet. Dominated by hobbyists at first, small businesses were slow to catch on to the benefits of the online world however it is now seen as an absolute necessity.

Incredibly, some of those original pages still exist but it is no longer acceptable to set up a website and then forget about it. Your internet-savvy customers demand more. If your website is more than three years old, it is definitely time to take a good look at it, compare it against your competitors and determine whether it is working for or against your business. If your site is not performing, here’s some key pointers that indicate that your site might just need a redesign.

1. It looks like it belongs in the 90’s

In the early 90’s, internet speeds were very slow and websites combatted this by keeping imagery to a minimum and displaying loads of text. There wasn’t much to look at but consumers had no choice (and at this early stage of the internet, they didn’t know any better).
Fast forward to 2017 and your site visitors expect so much more – they want eye-catching designs, easy to use functionality and, most of all, access to YOU as a business – all at the touch of their fingers. If your website doesn’t satisfy these basic requirements from your online customers – you might just need a redesign.

2. You can’t update it yourself

For this point, if you don’t already know, you may need to get in touch with the original developer of your site and see what Content Management System they have used to build your site upon. If they respond that it doesn’t have one and it’s not possible to update information yourself – you might just need a redesign.

3. Load Time is really ssssllllloooowwww

Head on over to GT Metrix and type your website address into the box provided. This handy online tool will not only give you a speed rating but will also give you a list of all the items that are slowing your site down. And with PageSpeed being an integral part of the Google ranking system, you really need a site that is getting an “A” grade in relation to speed.

If your site speed is “flunking” Google AND the patience of your potential customers – you might just need a redesign.

4. Your Bounce Rate is too high

Every website owner or manager needs to be constantly monitoring their site’s data and analytics. Either through Google Analytics or AwStats on the server, be sure to regularly check the statistic known as “bounce rate”. This statistic shows how fast customers arrive and leave your site, leaving details of how long they stayed and what they looked at.

Ideally, you want to see that site visitors have stayed long enough to find what they were looking for. If the Bounce Rate is too high (meaning they left fairly quickly), your call to action may not be strong enough to make them want to stay. If customers are staying less than 10 seconds on any particular page, you might just need a redesign.

5. It’s not making any difference to your “bottom line”.

At the end of the day, the whole purpose of your website is to provide a boost to the financial bottom line of your business. It may achieve this via online sales, reliable after-sales support or simply the establishment of your business as an expert in its field. Regardless of how it is working, your business should be benefitting from your website and you should be able to measure this in either profit or customer numbers.

If your site is simply trudging along and not really providing any tangible benefits to your small business, you might just need a redesign.

If your website fails to satisfy any of the key points above and you really want to turn that around, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We’ll create a brand-new site that is attractive, responsive to all screens and useful to your customers – a website that will be a proud part of your business.

How to Revive your Website – with a simple formula used by Gordon Ramsey!

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Gordon Ramsey

(c) Jean_Nelson www.depositphotos.com

Recently I have rediscovered the viewing pleasures of watching “Kitchen Nightmares” on TV. In each episode, celebrity chef and businessman, Gordon Ramsey, visits a struggling restaurant and spends a week there trying to turn their fortunes around. Always very clever in his methods and very VOCAL in his actions, Ramsey seems to have the magic “formula” that can take even the direst restaurant and turn it around in a number of days.

That formula can be easily adapted to any kind of industry, not just into hospitality. If you are willing to apply honesty and commitment to the process, the “Ramsey Formula” can also be used to revive an underperforming website and turn it into the customer conversion machine that it needs to be.

After watching (too) many episodes of “Kitchen Nightmares”, here’s the formula for reviving a website as I see it:

Get PASSIONATE about your Website

The commitment and passion that you (hopefully) feel for your actual business needs to be reflected on the pages of your website. After all, it is the online extension of your business.

Your website can be so much more to your customers than just an online brochure – but only if you COMMIT to making it so. The site’s appearance and its content should reflect the passion that got you into your business in the first place. It should also reflect your personality – you are a real person and need to come across as such. Customers will respond better.

Who are your CUSTOMERS and what do they WANT?

There’s no point examining your current website and its strengths and weakness unless you have a clear snapshot of who you target audience is. Anyone who has undertaken a Facebook Ad will have used the “wizard” for determining your target audience according to age, gender, location, etc.

Tailor-make all of the content so it is directed straight at your desired audience. If you can identify who they are, it makes the process easier to identify what they are looking for and give it to them.

Ramsey demonstrates this in one episode where he visits an old English pub and finds them cooking fancy al-la-carte meals. He quickly identifies this as one of the business’ problem and switches them back to what the pub-going public want – pub food!

Time to get BRUTAL

Chef Ramsey is good at this bit – he calls it “finding your bollocks”…

Stand back. Take a good look at your current online offering from the eyes of your target audience. Can they get exactly what they are looking for? Is it easy to access? Can they make a purchase quickly and simply? Is there fresh content that helps them do what they want to do? And most importantly, can they engage with the business through the site?

And remember, be honest. You might be in love with your site but is your customer?

Once you have identified the site’s “failings”, it might be time to trim the fat.

Whatever you have to do – embrace the change and make it work!

Is your site good at ANYTHING?

On “Kitchen Nightmares”, Chef Ramsey encourages restaurant owners to find a niche and use it as the drawcard to the business.
As the business owner, get in contact with your customers and use their feedback to identify the key item that your website does very well. This item (depending on what it is) could become the main drawcard of your website and draw potential customers into the site. Once they’re “hooked”, use your marketing skills to on-sell the other products and services that you offer.

Just remember to not offer so much that you can’t deliver (another lesson from Chef Ramsey).

I’m sure I’m not the only fan of the abrasive but clever Gordon Ramsay and his methods – so please leave a comment below on how you have used a “Ramsey” method in your own business. My comment area looks a little sad and neglected at the moment (one area I intend to work on), so I’d love to hear from you.

How You Can Make Google Sit Up and Pay Attention

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It’s time to dispel a myth.

The act of simply getting a website DOES NOT mean that Google will automatically sit up and take notice of your business.

Your small business website is an important portal to your business – not Google’s. They won’t automatically place your business at #1 on the search rankings just because you have a site.  And the truth of the matter is that Google will continue to basically ignore your business until you (and your web developer) put some plans into action to make them sit and pay attention.

Here’s some tips from the Rusty Mango team to help you in the right direction….

Mobile ResponsiveMobile Viewing is Vital

As of 2015, making websites mobile responsive for viewing on phones and tablets became a priority for all. This was thanks to Google, stating loud and clear, that sites that were not optimised for viewing on mobile devices would be penalised in search rankings or, even worse, not even appear in mobile search results.

Google aside, now that over 74% of Australians rely on their phones as much as they rely on their desktops (Galaxy Poll), it’s definitely time to ensure that your small business site is mobile-friendly. 

All new Rusty Mango Design sites are mobile-responsive from day one for this very reason.

Don’t Use a Generic Business Name

If you already have a reputable brand then this particular action is going to be hard to implement. When establishing your business name, be sure to select one that is not previously used by other businesses, particularly in your industry. Even similar names can cause issues.

Why? Two problems can arise online – one, you may find it hard to register the domain name that you want and two, most importantly with SEO, Google may show your competitor’s name when users are actually searching for you!

Back LinkingShare Site Links with Your Industry

Although nowhere as important as they used to be, inbound links still give your site credence in the eyes of the Google-Bot. In days gone by, sites would inherit “importance” or ranking from any sites that linked back to them – reciprocal links were very popular among web masters. That importance has been downscaled in recent versions of the Google ranking algorithm but it is still there to a lesser degree.

To take advantage of inbound links, ask that your industry contacts link back to your website and, in return, you will link out to them.

Use A Plugin to Optimise Your Pages

When it comes to optimising your site for SEO (search engine optimisation), ticking all the boxes to make Google happy is a difficult task. Luckily for those sites using a Content Management System – there are site add-ons (plugins) like Yoast SEO to help get the job done.

Yoast SEO uses a coloured “light” icon to indicate whether the SEO on a page has been done correctly. Red: Incomplete, Orange: Partially Done and Green: Optimised. As the user adjusts the SEO settings using the easy to understand Yoast recommendations (Page Title, Description, Alt Tags, etc.), the “light” icon changes. Aim for the green “light” and you have given your page a good chance of success with Google.

Fresh ContentFresh Content

“Content is King” has been a catchphrase for quite a while now and nothing has changed. Google still loves sites that keep their content fresh, engaging and relevant to the target audience. The Google-Bots trawl the web regularly and they will notice who is updating their sites and who isn’t.

Of course, the easiest way to get some Google “love” is to pay for some. The Google AdWords system is the way that their company makes the bulk of their income. If you sign up for pay-per-click, you will suddenly become a Google VIP and your business listing will appear in the Ads in search results.

Have a Search right now and see where your small business site appears. If it isn’t on that all important page one, look at the actions above and create your own Google SEO strategy.

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website Needs

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Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsCreating a small business website is a daunting task for anyone who has very little or no online experience. Even the smallest bit of research will unleash a whole range of techno-jargon and online marketing advice from all angles – enough to make anyone’s head spin.

To avoid this overload of information, a new site should be treated like a V8 Supercar heading out to the track for the first time. It must be built on a solid framework but will be constantly tweaked throughout its life span into an efficient, customer-converting machine.

To provide this solid framework, there are five essential items that must be taken into consideration from day one:

#1 An Easy-to-Use Navigation Menu

The menu system of the site must be easy to find on the page, simple to understand and uncluttered in appearance. Refine the main options (those visible straight away) down to the bare necessities and “drop-down” menus should be used to display any extras that need to be accessed during a visitor’s time on the website.

#2 An “About Us” Page

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsIt’s been found that today’s online consumer likes to “connect” with businesses before they purchase products or engage services.  A good “About Us” page should be jargon-free and clearly display who you are, where your business has evolved from and why it exists now. Once again, keep to the essentials but at the same time, don’t leave any important information out.

Be sure to also include a “Contact Us” page on the site with a contact form that sends directly to the site manager’s email.

#3 Helpful, free content

Another way to create a connection with your customers to provide helpful content that will improve the way they interact with your products and services. This can be achieved through a variety of ways including FAQ pages, videos, customer forums and downloadable PDFs. By adding high-quality free content to your site, visitors are more likely to return in the future to what else you have to offer them.

#4 Customer Testimonial Page

Whilst writing your own content will go a long way towards selling your products and services to site visitors, nothing works better than testimonials from your current customers.

Select a few satisfied clients that you have worked with and send them a friendly email requesting a short description of their experiences with your business. You may be surprised how quickly you will receive a response from them – most people love to reward good service.

#5 A Clear Call-To-Action

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsEverything above counts for nothing if you don’t provide a quick, easy to find Call-To-Action (CTA) somewhere prominent on your site. The CTA is the method by which a site visitor chooses to become a customer. For example, on a motel’s website, a “Make a Booking” button provides as the Call-To-Action. On an eCommerce site, you’ll find a shopping trolley icon marked “Checkout”.

The CTA may be different for each business but the rules for displaying them are the same – it must be eye-catching, clearly defined and be designed in such a way to encourage interaction.

Without a Call-To-Action, a website quickly becomes an online brochure.

Conclusion

There are loads of other elements that help make a successful website that converts visitors to customers. These five items will allow you to create a solid framework from which to build the remainder of your site.

In future blog posts, we will cover some of the extras that will add even further value to your site and help to build your business in both brand and bottom line.

For help getting your small business website off the ground, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We’ve been working with small business since 2007.

5 Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer

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main-imageBuilding a website for your small business should not be a spur of the moment decision.

And yet, as a website developer, I often meet new clients who have decided to build a website for their business but they haven’t yet considered how that site is going to improve their business.

Some still view a website as an online business card and, as I’ve covered in my blog posts before, a website can be so much more if it is planned and implemented correctly. The key to this effectiveness is carefully-considered planning – at every stage along the line.

Before picking up the phone or emailing a web designer for the first time, there are a few key questions that need your attention to ensure that the website development stages are quick and the final website is more effective when it is launched.

 

#1 What is the Key Objective of the Website?

Very simply, in as fewer words as possible (one sentence if possible), write down a measurable objective for your business website. This single sentence will guide everything else that happens along the way to development your site. The measurement is usually written as a percentage.

i.e. Increase the Monthly Sales of XYZ company by 20%

 

 5 Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer#2 Who is the target audience?

With point #1 clearly in mind, now look at what kind of site visitor is going to make that measurable objective possible.

Who will be looking for your products/services? Where are they? How old are they? What gender?

Be as specific as you can – this information will help your designer plan and style your site.

i.e. 18 to 60-year-old men interested in recreational fishing around the North QLD area.

 

#3 What kind of content will your audience be seeking at your site?

After identifying the audience that you want to attract to your site, grab a pencil and paper to map out the type of content that these potential customers will respond do. Will they want to read text blogs like this or would they respond better to video or imagery? Maybe a mixture would work best?

What kinds of information / products / services will they be seeking from you and, most importantly, what information do you want them to have about you and your business?

i.e. Information about the latest estuarine fishing equipment, videos on how it is used, fact sheets on where the fishing are biting….

 

fish

#4 What are your competitors doing online?

Get this information in conjunction with point #1 – Get online and see what your competitors are doing with their websites. Google all relevant information regarding your target audience. Your top competitors will generally be at the head of the list – What kinds of content are they using? What appeals to you on their sites? What doesn’t?

Although your web developer should do this research as well, it will be highly beneficial to you as your website takes shape and you know what you are aiming for.

 

#5 What timeframe do you have to complete the site?

Armed with the knowledge that designers work better when given a timeframe (I know I do), when you want to launch your site to the world? Keep in mind, you must be able to “hold up” your end of the bargain and ensure that you can provide the content that the site requires for launch. Even the most experienced developer will baulk at a proposed launch date if they don’t have the content for the site.

 

Conclusion

By having the above planning completed/documented before contacting a designer, you will also be able to brief them clearly and then ascertain whether they can do the job at hand.

Don’t leave your small business’ website goals up to the designer. Remember that no-one knows your business better than you.

Have you got all the above planning done and are ready to go ahead and contact a designer?
Get in touch with Rusty Mango Design on 0488 406 050 and we will work with you all the way (and even beyond) to a great, customer converting website for your small business.

Does your Small Business even need a Website?

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Does your Small Business even need a Website?Yes.

Simple answer, isn’t it?

Oh, you still need more convincing?

Alright then – here’s ten good reasons why your small business needs to get its act together and get an online presence:

#1– The World’s largest Consumer Base

Over 3.2 billion people use the internet in some form on a regular basis, and from that enormous number, it is estimated that at least 80% have purchased goods or services online. That’s roughly 2.6 billion potential customers for you!

Any small business without an effective website is missing out on their piece of the action.

#2 – The Digital Consumer

The internet is now 25 years old – some of your potential customers don’t know a world without it. Your business needs a web presence to engage with the modern digital consumer – they are unlikely to look for you anywhere else.

#3– You can be Available 24/7

Consumers expect to have information accessible to them around the clock from a variety of sources and this includes from your business. A website makes you available 24/7 (even while you are asleep) to provide information, product help and online sales.

#4 – Engage with your Customers

A website helps you connect with your customers on an almost social level. You can communicate through the comments of a Blog (like this one), a website forum that you moderate or via the many channels of Social Media that are available for use. A simple social connection can often be the key to a successful business relationship.

#5– Create a Hub for your Marketing

Got a new product that you want to shout about to the world? Unleash the marketing power of the internet and spread the word like wildfire using your website as the hub and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn as the tools to “hook” people in.

#6 – Customer Support

Reduce the number of customer support calls to your small business with the inclusion of “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” page on your website. For more sticky problems that need one-on-one attention, integrate a ticketing system on the site that can be answered promptly by your staff.

#7 – Match it with the “Big Guys”

With a solid online strategy and a well-built website that people can find easily, your business can take on the larger corporations at their own game. On face value, the internet is a great leveller of the playing field – you don’t need the large payroll or a skyscraper in a capital city to make an impact.

#8– Instant Credibility

A professional website with the right information allows your business to attain instant credibility in the eyes of both your potential customers and other businesses. A quick online search by these people could quite easily be the deal maker or breaker, depending on what they find online.

# 9 – Physical Phone Directories are DEAD

 If you need any proof of this, take note that both the Yellow Pages and Local Directories are now offering website services. This hasn’t stopped them still charging an absolute mint for listing in their telephone books however, by branching out, they have acknowledged that online is where the modern consumer is looking for goods and services.

#10 – Build an Audience for your Business

Even if your customers are not in the market right now, an online presence allows you to keep their attention so that when they do need something, your business will be “front of mind”. Social Media, email newsletters, podcasts and video tutorials are just some of the ways you can continue to engage with your customers until they need you again.

Put simply – if you want to grow your business in today’s digital age, it needs a website. Considering the continual evolution of our online population and the growth of businesses who are on the Internet, it could be expensive for your business NOT to have a website.

I’ll bet that your competitors do.

If this article has helped you make a decision about your business’ online presence, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design for a free website development quote.

Who said backlinking is DEAD?

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BacklinkingBefore we delve into the relevance of backlinks to today’s site owner, we should quickly explain what a backlink is. For the novice website operator, backlinks are simply incoming links to a webpage. When a site links to another site on the web, that’s known as a backlink. 

In the SEO* community, there has been continuous debate about backlinking for the past few years, Google’s changes effectively turning “old school” SEO on its head. It’s even got to the point where some SEO “experts” claimed that backlinking is dead.

It’s not.

Authentic backlinks from quality sites are still one of the best things that can happen to your search rankings. You definitely do want organic links and citations back to your site. Originally there was a lot of weight placed on backlinks – a site would automatically become more important simply because of the sites that were linking to it. Whilst this is no longer a major component of the Google algorithm, quality links still make your site look good!

Some site owners find it hard to request backlinks, either because they don’t have a network of site owners that can provide links to them or they simply don’t how to go about getting these links sorted.

If you are one of these site owners, here’s a short of Australian business directories to get you underway – when you list your business with them, they all can backlink to your website. It’s important to note that these directories have been chosen for a very specific reason, they all allow FOLLOWING by the GoogleBots that trawl the web. Many similar directories actually block this function and will serve no SEO benefit to your site at all.

Hotfrog Australia: http://www.hotfrog.com.au/

LocalBD: http://www.localbd.com.au/

A to Z Pages: http://atozpages.com.au/

DLook: http://www.dlook.com.au/

Web Directory Australia: http://www.web-directory-australia.info/

National Directory: http://www.nationaldirectory.com.au/home.aspx

Please remember that directories like the above are only one way of getting backlinks – if you create great content that is helpful and informative and then share it around (on social media), authentic backlinks WILL come anyway.

If the content gives value to those viewing it, people will share and link back to the source – your website!

The algorithm used by Google to determine search ranking does change on a semi-regular basis but it seems that back-linking is always part of their equation. Putting that aside though, ANY inbound link to your small business website is a good thing – be it through Google or another source.

 

* Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results (thanks Wikipedia!).

 

* A directory that allows FOLLOWING passes on its outbound links to the GoogleBots. A directory set to NO FOLLOW basically hides its links and does share the value.

 

Google is not the only way to market your website

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Offline Marketing Ideas for your websiteWhen it comes to promoting websites, small business owners are sometimes convinced that as long as their site ranks on Google, that’s all they need to worry about. For a large national business, Google could be enough but for a locally-driven business, there is a lot more that can be done to promote a website.

Community promotion through offline marketing could be lucrative to a small business in driving locals through to the website. To illustrate the possibilities, let’s take at the options available to Cassowary Coast local business – Madella Coffee.

Madella Coffee is a small coffee farm located near Mourilyan, North Queensland. Greg and Angie at Madella grow, roast and grind their own unique brand of coffee and you can even have a cuppa in their café on the banks of the South Johnstone River. That in itself, is a matchless experience.

Rusty Mango Design created the online store for Madella Coffee in early 2015. It has been search optimised and can be easily found with a quick Google search – perfect for out of town customers. But what else can be done to promote Madella Coffee to locals and the thousands of grey nomads who pass through our region every year? Let take a look at the offline promotion opportunities that this great little business could take advantage of…

Product Labelling

Madella Coffee sells its roasted beans and ground coffee in distinctive vacuum-sealed bags, clearly marked with the farm’s brand. The bag information includes the location of the farm, phone number and a Hotmail email address but no website address!

A simple improvement could be to add* the website address to the package in the form of a Call to Action (CTA) – “If you loved this coffee and crave some more, order online at madellacoffee.com.au.”

Business Cards

The current business card for Madella Coffee does not have the website address on it either. But rather than just repeating the suggestion above, why not do what the big brands do? Add* a loyalty program to the flip side of the card (currently it is one-sided). With each purchase of Madella Coffee at local shops and markets, the boxes on the card could be stamped and redeemed in the future for a bonus pack of coffee or even an online discount when purchasing from the site.

Stall Signs

Speaking of local markets, Madella Coffee can be found at the regular markets around the Cassowary Coast region – a great time to “plug” the online store! Even if they don’t want to purchase the product that day, plant the seed by giving out satchet-sized samples with the web address – “Try our coffee and we guarantee that you will want more!”

Highway Signage

Finally – this one could be a huge drawcard for the online store for Madella Coffee. The farm itself has a corner of one field that borders onto the Bruce Highway – the main highway through Queensland. Thousands of cars pass this field every year. With very little outlay, Madella could invest in a large sign for this corner of their farm and it only needs to say one thing – “MADELLACOFFEE.COM.AU” – once again, planting the seed could result in great online sales.

The tips above, although written for a very specific product, could be transferred to any brand that needs extra exposure (except for the highway sign – unless you are also very lucky). Whilst Google search placement is essential for any website – it’s not the only way to promote your online brand. There are a multitude of offline possibilities – what could your business do?

* Of course, if you have a thousand business cards and 20000 coffee bags already stocked up in the cupboard, you don’t have to throw them all out and print new ones. An additional small sticker (tastefully done) could fill the void until new stock is required.

 

Is your Web Designer legit?

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Is your Web Designer legit?When it comes to the WWW and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners are a little naive about how it all works. This is excusable as there are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media are just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.

That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”

There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites are not exactly cheap and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in many industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.

If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, follow the three tips below to guide you to a reputable website design business.

#1 – Ask Around

Your business is not the first one ever to go online so take a look at your competitors and your industry in general. Ask them some key questions if you can:

  • Who designed their site?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your business colleagues who they would recommend and why? (You may have a bit of trouble getting the same information out of your competitors).
  • Is the site generating the business that they need?
  • Is the site difficult to update?
  • What was the design process like when working with the web developer?

Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.

#2 – Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.

All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.

One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.

A quick way to check:

  • Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
  • Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.

This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If the theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.

Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30!  All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.

Note: If you run the website for Rusty Mango Design (http://www.rustymangodesign.com.au) through the theme finder above, you will see my framework theme “Rusty Mango Responsive”. This is a bare bones framework (which I personally created, not purchased) from which I then build all my sites.

It starts out looking like this:

Rusty Mango Responsive

But, by the time I am finished designing the site, it can look like this:

A Smarter Solution

That is real web design!

#3           Take a look at some of their imagery.

A little known tool called TinEye can help identify images that have been used elsewhere on the internet. You can find it at https://www.tineye.com/

TinEyeUsing TinEye is easy:

  • Save an image from anywhere on the net to your hard drive or right-click on it and “Copy Image Location”.
  • Use the box on TinEye to upload the image or simply paste in the image location (Ctrl-V on your keyboard).

TinEye will quickly scour the internet with your image information and come back with any close matches.

Obviously this would be no use on items such as stock photography which will appear everywhere but it can be very useful when checking out “personalised” items such as logos. I recently saw a logo that looked familiar – I had definitely seen it somewhere else.  So I ran it through TinEye and found 107 other logos that looked exactly the same!

Doesn’t say much for a designer if they resort to using stock images to create logos. That to me is not designing as it lacks any creativity and I strongly warn against using any design business that does this.

 

Agreed, the steps above will take some time and effort on the part of the small business owner however a website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.

Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table and digging a hole in your bank account.

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

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Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design