Posts Tagged ‘user friendly’

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.

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.

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

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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.

Information Overload = High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

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Information OverloadIn numerous blogs, books and forums, small business owners are told from the very beginnings of their online forays that content marketing is a must for a successful website. Any solid marketing advice will say “You must create FAQs, blog posts, videos, podcasts, Facebook feeds, how-to sheets, free e-books, Tweets and Pins for your site to REALLY connect with your target audience.” This is good advice, after all, Google loves fresh content and so do those visitors who return to your site.

But there is inherent danger with all this information – having been told to create it, some website owners get carried away. And, unfortunately, your website visitors may not appreciate this content as much as you do – especially if it is displayed to them all at once.

By this, I mean displaying it all on the very first page of a website – known as the landing page.

In a recent blog post I mentioned Google Analytics which is an excellent tool for tracking and reporting on website traffic. One of the key statistics from Google Analytics is the “bounce rate*” for the site on which it is installed.  If your site overwhelms visitors with the information displayed on that first page, then you may find that your bounce rate is quite high.

The key to solving this problem is to remember this simple point at all times: your site visitors have arrived at your site seeking only one of two things, information and engagement. Think back to any site that you have ever visited – you have sought out those sites out to either find out more about the business and their services/products or, engage them in further conversation (which can take many forms) and maybe make a purchase.

So how do we avoid information overload on key pages of your website?

Try to keep information in line with the five basics of a good home page:

  1. A catching headline that includes your keywords. If you are a plumber in Innisfail, use a title liked “Professional Plumbing Services – Innisfail.” Keep Google happy by staying under its preferred title length which is 70 characters.
  2. A solid sub headline paragraph (or two) that briefly describes who you are and what you do. Visitors love a story so you could also talk about what you can do for them but don’t get use jargon, remember to apply the K.I.S.S.* principle here.
  3. Display your immediate contact information in the top right hand corner of the page. If you want people to ring you, show the phone number in a large font. If you prefer emails, show the email address. Remember to keep it all mobile friendly by ensuring that both of these can be clicked/tapped.
  4. Make your Call to Action very clear. In most cases, this is what you prospective customers will be looking for so make it STAND OUT! Don’t make customers search for your latest deals or booking forms, make them so obvious that a blind person could find them.
  5. Everyone loves a good slideshow (that’s why every site these days has one). But don’t just use it to display pretty pictures – make it part of your marketing plan. Make it part of your HOOK* to immediately engage your visitors.

Get those things right on the front page and everything else is superfluous – put the extra information on other pages. Use your navigation effectively and your visitors can find it if they want to dig further.

With the advent of Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, there is the ability to create a multitude of cascading pages for your website so there is no excuse for not using this to your advantage.

Keep the front page of your small business site clean and simple using the five items above and monitor your Google Analytics. Done effectively, you will watch that bounce rate drop away as your prospective customers come and, most importantly, stay.

* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

* K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid

* a hook, which is a short phrase or jingle designed to entice a customer to purchase a product or sign up for a service.

Creating your own email campaign

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Rusty Mango Design recently sent out the very first issue of our e-newsletter (issue #2 is currently under production) and the response to it has been very positive. Some customers have asked how mailing lists and e-newsletters all work, so in this post, I will detail how you can build a mailing list of your own and export it before switching to MailChimp and creating your newsletter campaign.

Spam Laws

Before we look at how to create a mailing list and use it to promote your business, let’s take a quick look at the Australian SPAM act.

It is vitally important to know that the SPAM Act of 2003 explicitly defines SPAM as any commercial electronic information (emails, SMS, etc.) that are sent to individuals without their consent. If you fail to comply with the Acts stringent rules, there are very hefty fines and penalties. Your business must only send messages to people that have given you their expressed or inferred consent.

Expressed consent means that you have clearly explained to the owner of an email address why you are collecting it before they give it to you. This can be done quite simply as shown in the example below. People who sign up for Rusty Mango’s free e-book are also made aware they are signing for the RMD newsletter as well.

Create your own email campaign

Inferred consent revolves around having an ongoing business relationship with a person who has previously provided their contact details.

For more information about the SPAM ACT 2003, visit http://bit.ly/1AzSCB5

Collect Email Addresses

Create your own email campaignAs shown above, collecting email addresses can be as simple as creating a sign-up form on your website (for Rusty Mango websites, the CONTACT FORM plugin is built into your CMS). On your sign-up form, be sure to also explain how often the emails will be received. Make sure it is enticing without being overloading. Advice – don’t send out an email newsletter every single day – you will scare off your prospects before they even sign up.

As the email addresses come in, collect them with your email program of choice – The procedure for Outlook 365 is shown below – but most programs are fairly similar. 

Click on the PEOPLE tab (in older versions, this was called CONTACTS).

Right-click on the side panel and create a new folder for your Mailing List contacts.

Add all emails for your mailing list to this folder.

Create a mailing list from your contacts

To create a mailing list to export to MailChimp, you must gather all those email addresses into a CSV file (CSV – comma separated values).

Outlook Instructions:

Click on the FILE menu button at the top of screen.

From the next screen, choose OPEN & EXPORT

Select Import / Export

In the pop-up window, choose EXPORT TO A FILE. Click NEXT.

Choose Comma Separated Values. Click NEXT.

In the next screen you will need to look through and find the Mailing List Contacts folder that you created to collect all your addresses. Click NEXT.

Choose the location where you want to save these files. Click NEXT.

Click NEXT again and FINISH.

Create your own email campaign Create your own email campaign Create your own email campaign

Sign up for Mail Chimp

MailChimpFinally, to create and send out your newsletter to your mailing list, I can highly recommend MailChimp (with no bias or commission).

MailChimp is completely free for list with less than 2000 subscribers, it uses a very simple wizard to guide you through the whole process and it also has dozens of templates that you can use to make your newsletter look professional. Every email that is sent has a small clickable link to let viewers see the email in plain text too.

When planning my email newsletter, I draft it out on Microsoft Word first then copy and paste it across to the MailChimp template.

An email newsletter is a great way to send out special offers, news and information to your customer base. For prospective customers, it can really help to establish the sender as an industry leader who is worthy of their business.

If you would like to become part of the Rusty Mango Design mailing list and receive our free e-book and bi-monthly newsletter, visit the home page of our website and sign-up.

 

Five reasons to evolve your business and get it online

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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.

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

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

Where do I start to answer that question?

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

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

Here’s the top five reasons why:

1. Building a website is not easy! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Your site can disappear at any time!

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

That right!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not exactly that professional look you are aiming for.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four great plug-ins to enhance your Small Business Website

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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

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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.

 

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Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design