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Five Simple Ways to Make Money from your Website

Boosting the bottom line of a small business should be the core principal behind any new web site development.

Rusty Mango Design - Small Business BlogWhether 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
Rusty Mango Design - Small Business Blog
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.

#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
Rusty Mango Design - Small Business Blog
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 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!

Google is not the only way to market your website

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.

 

Five reasons to evolve your business and get it online

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web DesignIn small towns, such as my hometown of Innisfail, small business owners have relied for years purely on local customers for their income. And this has worked just fine for the most part as these businesses have built up loyal trade and trust with good service.

But times have changed. Businesses right through to the early 90’s never had to compete against anything like the internet and the changes it has brought. Nowadays, a huge amount of business is conducted online and, as a small business owner, you are no longer just competing against other local businesses. In fact, for most professional services and especially those selling products, there is no concept of a local business anymore.

Whether you like it or not, you are a state-wide, national or even an international business. Your customers are very aware that if they don’t receive the service they expect to get along with the product they want AND at a price that they like, they are going online to get it somewhere else!

So if your business is unwilling to get online to be competitive in 2015, then you are going to lose a huge chunk of your potential market.

Here’s five good reasons why getting a website is essential to the evolution of a modern small business.

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#1 – A website is available to your customers 24/7

With online trading, a customer can choose when they are going to visit you. They are no longer dependant on when you open your physical store. A website allows a business owner to keep products and services moving all day, every day. A mobile-responsive site takes this to the next level with customers accessing businesses on-the-go with tablets and smartphones.

#2 – Your website opens you up to the international marketplace.

A website means that you don’t have to just sell your products and services to locals in your immediate area. If you have a great product and it is easily found online (with search engine optimisation), you are able to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. You are no longer geographically locked in.
If someone two thousand kilometres away wants your products – with a website, they can get them.

#3 – Window Shopping has evolved too

Walking down the main street in your town or city is no longer the only way to go window shopping (though some may disagree). Online, your potential customers are always looking and planning where they are going to make their next purchases. They are comparing prices, checking out services and calculating delivery costs. Even if they may not be making an immediate purchase, when they do, those online businesses who have made an impact on their searches will definitely come to the forefront.

#4. Online, you can build your position as a Key Person of Influence in your industry.

Your website and your online presence have become key factors when customers are searching for a new business to deal with. A strong presence is a great way to demonstrate that you are a modern business with its finger on the pulse of your industry. Customers testimonials are also a great way of showing your prospects that you are capable of delivering the products and services that your offer. Social Media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will help to build a community of loyal followers that your business can use to develop, research and sell new products. Each one of these components is essential to build your authority as a KPI (Key Person of Influence).

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#5 – On the internet, size does not matter.

A website is a great leveller. Whether you’re a one-man show or a 20,000-employee corporate giant; if you offer prompt and friendly service backed up by a quality product, you can compete head-to-head with the “big guys”. On the other hand, if you don’t have a website, you’ll be losing business to other companies that do.

Despite all the reasons that are spruiked daily about the benefits of an online business, it is estimated that more than half (52%) of Australian small business owners do not have a website. This is astounding considering that 82% of small business owners get new business through referrals. If you don’t have a website, how do these referrals find out more about you?

If you want to evolve your small business and access a greater share of your industry’s market, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design today and we will examine an online strategy that will work for you.

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.

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.

 

I’ve got a new website for my business – now what?

I’ve got a new website for my business – now what?Although the internet and it’s billions of websites have been around for quite a few years now, some small business operators still fail to grasp how vastly different an online store is to a conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ site. With the latter, a physical site is set up that all passer-bys can see it; both while it’s under construction and afterwards, when the doors are thrown open for customers for the first time.

With an online store, the construction is done under a “veil of secrecy” but when it’s finished and ready, most site owners automatically expect a flow of traffic through the virtual front door. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. People need to know that the site actually exists before they can visit it!

Google doesn’t help – it can often take two to three weeks for a site to get listed on search results and even then, you may not even make the first page.

So here is my advice, don’t wait for Google – promote that new site of yours right now with the following tips:

Tip #1 – Build your website marketing into your conventional promotions

This simple tip is often overlooked because some business owners believe that a website is marketed through online methods only.

Not true.

Start getting ready for your site’s launch by updating all your promotional materials – business cards, brochures, roadside signs, clothing, pens, company cars,  exterior signage, invoices, everything.  Anywhere that a current client sees your business name should have the new web address in bold lettering.

If you live a smaller town as I do, get your local newspaper on board for the launch. For a relatively small cost, you can grab some great exposure with an editorial feature. Often these include a half-page “story” on your new site with the other half-page including an advertisement with all your details.

Tip #2 – Utilise your Social Media presence

One of the great advantages that Social Media has over Google is the instant gratification that it gives to every one of our updates, pins, posts or tweets. We don’t have to wait for the search engines to index and archive our information – it is instantly out there.
This makes it ideal for promoting a brand new site.

Most of us already have a Social Media presence so why not use that to your site’s advantage. Announce to all and sundry that you have a new online store and ask your social media “friends” to pass on the news.

Don’t leave it at that though – make sure you create a plan and use your Social Media power to drive everything that your site does. Running a pizza shop with online ordering? Hold instant competitions (like my friends at Roscoes Innisfail) to boost slow nights. Got a brand new outfit in your e-commerce boutique? Get one your staff to model it and post it on Instagram and Pinterest. Offering free shipping for today from your e-store? Get the word out instantly with a tweet on Twitter.

Tip #3 – Create Fresh Content for your site.

I know – you’ve just opened the doors on your online store. So why do you need fresh content straight away? Simply because Google likes sites with fresh, distinctive content and without it, things can go stale very quickly. Pre-empt this by having a content plan for how you are going to update your website on a regular bases. Sit down and plan out articles for your store’s blog (try five for a start) and schedule one for release every week. If you don’t have a blog, you could be missing out on a massive opportunity to define your site as an industry leader.

When you are creating blog topics, be sure to think from a customer’s point of view – write a list of the top 10 questions that your customer’s have and blog an article about each. Include keywords that relate to your online business and this will ensure that the Google and Bing “bots” will keep coming back to your site every time you post new content.

Conclusion

Try out those three tips and will be giving your e-commerce store a red-hot start in its online “life”. Don’t procrastinate and wait for people to find you – get out there and “grab the bull by the horns.” A site owner is in absolute control of the future (and potential success) of their online business. It won’t happen by itself – hard yakka is required!

Now – go and give your new site (or old one) a real boost into the new year of 2015!

How to make your website #1 for your clients in 2015

How to make your website #1 for your clients in 2015The New Year has been ushered with a flash of fireworks and cheers of excitement. People around the world will be opening their bleary eyes with the hazy promises of New Year’s resolutions swimming in their heads. Most of these will be along the lines of losing weight, getting fit or maybe saving more money; all personally focused ideals.

So how about a couple of New Year’s resolutions for your business website?

Maybe the site hasn’t performed up to your expectations in 2014. Perhaps you didn’t get the bottom line via your site that you hoped for. Or is it sitting dormant and not doing a thing for the customers that it is supposed to attract?

There’s no time like New Years to take a good look at your site and resolve to make it into a site that your clients really need. Here’s three tips to make it their #1 choice when searching for anything in your industry.

Tip #1: Create helpful and informative content

Take a look at your site content and make sure that your site offers more to its visitors than just items or services for sale. Statistics have shown that a site that provides helpful and informative content has a lower bounce rate (people who bounce in and out) and a higher conversion of visits to sales.

Your content could include a blog (just like this one), how-to videos (embedded from your YouTube account) or downloadable fact sheets. There are a multitude of ways that you can help your clients – choose something that is suitable to your industry.

Tip #2: Make it easy to find your site in Google

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is no longer the realm of the experts. Sure, they may be able to squeeze out those last couple of places but with easy-to-use plugins such as Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO, page optimisation can be done quickly and easily. In most cases, it can be done when the new content is being created.

Just by adding a simple description of the content and a few carefully chosen keywords to every page, you increase the chances of the content being found on Google. And by improving your chances of your information being found, you are making it easier for people to actually find it.

And that, ultimately, is the whole purpose of SEO.

Tip #3: Get your Social Media happening

Here I go again – harping on about Social Media. I still firmly believe that the secret to success behind most websites is an integrated Social Media approach. If you can make people like your business through your Facebook posts or Twitter tweets (or whatever your poison), then the chances of them visiting your site increase tenfold.

You can use Social Media to help your clients find what they want with the implementation of a carefully planned approach. Whilst building a new ecommerce store recently, I came across a number of ways to use a social presence to make any site an essential visit to prospective customers.

  • Integrate a Wish List system into your ecommerce store. Customers visit the site and create a wish list which they then post to their Facebook page for others to purchase for them. Very helpful for prospective mothers and brides-to-be (as a couple of examples).
  • Utilise a Social Media login for regular customers (i.e. people can use their username and password from Facebook, Google+, etc. to login). Saves the needs to invent a new login for every site a person visits – no-one likes to do this!
  • Integrate Instagram tags into with product pages so that whenever a customer displays your product on their Instagram account (using the tag), it automatically appears on that product’s page. Great for clothing sites – your clothes can be seen on everyday people just like you and me as opposed to the models that may be used on the site. Check out Black Milk Clothing for a great example of this.

If you can get those three strategies under your belt early on in 2015, you have put yourself in good stead for the remainder of the year. As any seasoned website owner or manager will know from experience, running and maintaining a successful website is not a “cake walk”, you must constantly monitor a multitude of site components to ensure that your site is working as you want it to. Running a website is hard work.

With a New Year’s Resolution using the above tips, your website is on its way to becoming the site that your clients really need.

Week 16 of 52 – Five signs that your site needs a MAKEOVER!

Does your site need a makeover?The internet has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past five years and there is no sign of slowing down any time soon. Social Media, online technology, broadband speeds and ecommerce shopping among other advances have changed the way people live day-to-day.  A commercial website that doesn’t keep up with these changes is in danger of driving away potential customers by conveying the image of an out-of-date business brand that fails to innovate.

So the question needs to be asked – when was the last time you gave your website a full makeover?

There are some blatantly obvious signs that your site needs some form of makeover and others that are a little more subtle. Here are five of the most important signs that your site needs some serious makeover love:

1.       Your site looks and feels like a vintage website from the late 90’s

Maybe it’s not that old. However if your site is over five years old, it is definitely time for an update. You may be still using your original website or one created with integrated Flash content (which is soooo last year…) or even worse, a site designed by an employee using Microsoft Word – yes, that Microsoft Word! (I have actually seen this)

Regardless of how old your site is, what’s on it or how it was created, if it doesn’t feel like it belongs alongside the current crop of sites from your competitors, get an upgrade.

2.       The site is not mobile responsive

Everyone knows that mobile internet access has dramatically increased over the past couple of years but how’s this for a statistic: According to online magazine Fast Company, 25% of smartphone owners ages 18–44 say they “can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t right next to them.”

Wow.

Let’s put it simply – if your site doesn’t respond or convert for mobile usage, you are missing out on a huge chunk of action. Get a mobile responsive site today!

http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/21-vital-mobile-marketing-facts-statistics-2014-0850425#b8OxdTHcMI12frWx.99

3.       Your Social Media feeds are not integrated

Having a Social Media presence is no longer optional for small business. If you want to engage and interact with your clients, you must be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. On top of this, any post, update or tweet that you make should be automatically displayed through onto your site.

This will serve two purposes:- one, you will create new content for your site every time you update your Social Media and two, you can gather more followers through the use of on-page links. If your site can’t do this, once again, you are missing out!

4.       Your content is past its used-by date

One of my pet peeves (and one that I was guilty of until I started my Blog challenge) is visiting a website with blog posts that have a really old date on them. Of course, you can cheat and not use a date at all however you are kidding yourself if you think that a potential client with a keen eye won’t notice. The same applies with your page to page content. Make sure your information is always up-to-date and if you can’t commit to a Blog post at least every month (more is better), then maybe you should give that task to someone else on your team.

5.       You are receiving very little new business referral from your site

How do your customers first get in touch? Do they find you in a phone directory, a newspaper or radio advertisement or via your website? Conduct a quick survey with customers as they make a purchase – we’ve all seen the instant competition ploy at small business counters. Fill in a survey form (a couple of questions at most) and pop it in the box to win a prize.

Look at and compile the results. If your website is not delivering the customers in a manner that you would expect, then maybe it’s time for the big makeover. Something is not connecting with site visitors and must be fixed to ensure a healthy inflow of prospects to your business.

If any of the points above apply to your site, get in contact with the team at Rusty Mango Design today and we’ll take an in-depth look at your old site to determine what needs to be done and provide you with a detailed report – for free!

 

Week 7 of 52 – Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced BreadIn small towns across North Queensland (and elsewhere I’m sure), there is evidence of an economic downturn on every main street. Many small shop fronts are sitting empty with no real outlook to opening again anytime soon. The factors behind this situation are many and varied but one of the most common blames is put directly onto the rise of online shopping.

If your business sells products of any shape or form, whether they are toasters, cars or even houses, there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on a cut of the market by not having your very own ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge conglomerate with hundreds of stores nationwide or the local dress shop marketing your own fashions, everyone can have a slice of the pie if they are clever and utilise the power of the web.

There is a huge recompense to having an online store that most business owners don’t recognise and these advantages can’t be achieved through a regular bricks and mortar store.

An online store has no landlord!

Not a single cent is paid in rent for your online store. The only costs you will incur, other than the original design of your site, is the monthly/yearly charge for your web server, the domain name and charges from outside agencies such as PayPal and/or your bank.

When you compare this to the cost of leasing a shop, you can guess who comes out in front. Talking to local business owners in my home town has shown me that the cost of a lease is one of the biggest factors forcing businesses to close. There’s not enough custom through the front door to warrant the outlay. No such problem with an online shop.

Playing level with the Big Guys

When you operate an online store, you can pretend to be as big or small as you want. Many small online operators like to push the “smaller” operation approach as this can help to give you that personal touch missing from one of the larger stores. However, stores like Harvey Norman are trying to cash in on this notion by utilising a chat system that pops up at the bottom of the shop screen. Once again, the small business owner can compete with this through the use of a very simple plug in like ClickDesk or LiveChat.

Open for Business 24/7

An online store means that you can make a sale – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when you are asleep, your site can be making for you. Imagine logging on at work each morning (during the business week, of course) and seeing a whole backlog of purchases that were made and paid for even while the physical offices of your business were shut! The advantages of this should be whole apparent – you can’t do this with a bricks and mortar store. Once again, you can compete with the big guys – on their level.

Customer Interaction

An Ecommerce store can also be integrated with a healthy Social Media campaign allowing the store to “converse” with customers and potential customers in a friendly environment. Any problems or questions about products and services can be solved with no awkward or sometimes aggravated face to face contact. Tips and tricks can be passed on almost immediately to patrons with no wait time (depending on the level of customer service available) – business owners can answer issues from the luxury of their armchairs at home if they want.

An ideal example of this customer interaction can be seen in full use by Blackmilk Clothing on both their Facebook pages and website. Happy customers can be seen happily conversing with the Blackmilk team and showing off their latest purchases on the pages of the site. In return, the Blackmilk team gets instant feedback and direction, straight from the people wearing their gear.

Final Note

An online store can add an extra line of revenue to a business and it doesn’t even have to be the end of the physical shop front. Caravans Plus in Queanbeyan operate both with an offer in their ecommerce checkout that allows customers to order online and pickup in person, a perfect setup for the grey nomad travelling through that part of the world. No freight!
If you are interested in creating an online store, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and have a chat about what is possible for your business. We can create ecommerce stores for all types of businesses, large and small.

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design