Case Study: Impulse Advanced Communications

We recently launched a new site for Impulse Advanced Communications, a local voice and data services provider, and I thought it would be educational to review the project and look at the results of putting into practice all the things I’ve been writing about here for the last several months.

First of all, it’s important to realize that Impulse is an awesome company. We’ve been a customer for over 10 years and have come to depend on them for everything from our phone system, to our Internet connectivity to the data center space that provides a reliable, high performance home to many of our and our client’s servers. So, we can’t take all the credit for the success of this project. (more…)

Customer Centric Marketing

The first order of business in marketing (and in sales) should be to create a relationship with your prospective customers. If you can create a connection with them that enables them to begin to trust you, then you are on the way to getting a new customer. Fundamentally, they must believe (trust) that your product or service will meet their needs.

One of the primary skills that good sales people use to develop a relationship with their customers is active listening. Active listening means that you actually feed back what you hear a prospect say so that both of your are certain that you have heard what they said. The act of repeating or summarizing what a prospect says to you is in itself a powerful nonverbal communication. You are telling them with your actions that you pay attention, that you hear and understand them and that you are able to focus on their needs instead of just your own. These are powerful messages to transmit to a prospect and they will typically reward you by giving you their business if you indeed have something they want or need. (more…)

Market Testing & Validation

When we sit down to develop a new website for a client, our conversation always begins with the goals of the company. Nine times out of ten, those are marketing and sales goals – they want to generate more leads and get more customers. As a result, our first conversation revolves around the marketing message which of course is driven by who the target customer is. All too often, this becomes a guessing game. Many companies simply don’t know, unequivocally, who their target customer is and what their primary needs and primary concerns are. Here’s a simple exercise than you can do that will net great benefits in the areas of brand, marketing message and target market. (more…)

6 Ways to Market Your Business on FaceBook

FaceBook recently surpassed Google in terms of the average amount of time people spend on the site. Marketing your business on FaceBook is already a great way to get exposure and it will become more and more essential over time. Here are some tips on getting started.

  1. Create a FaceBook Page. This is the first step and every business should have one. Fill out your Page profile completely and make sure to add a link back to your website (this will help with your SEO). Once you’ve created a page, you should make it more attractive by creating a custom tab that all new visitors will see. Creating a custom tab requires adding a FaceBook app that enables you to either insert custom text and graphics or link to another web page that you’ve created elsewhere. The latter option is the best way to go as it allows you to make any page on your existing website into a FaceBook tab on your FaceBook Page. Here’s a tutorial on how to accomplish this. (more…)

Why Have a Blog?

Clients regularly ask us whether they should have a blog or not. In general, my answer is yes, though there are some exceptions. Here’s why… (more…)

6 Tips to Successful Web Development Projects

I’ve seen research that shows that more than 50% of development projects fail. Given the number of projects we inherit from other web developers due to unhappy customers, I would say the figure is at least that high. This doesn’t apply to small websites such as a simple “brochure” site or a WordPress blog. However, when a project becomes more sizeable and has custom programming, it can easily fall apart before it’s done. In the last blog entry, I talked about the primary reasons this occurs. Here I’ll give some tips on how to avoid problems and have a successful outcome.

  1. Make an informed decision regarding the web developer you choose. In addition to reviewing their online portfolio, have them actually show you the back-end of some of the projects they’ve developed. Check their references. Don’t accept references only for clients they’ve worked with in the last year. See if you can talk to some clients they’ve had for several years. Better yet, get a mixture. (more…)

Why Web Development Projects Fail

A story I hear far too often from prospects is that they just fired their previous web developer. You might think I like hearing this because it means our competitors are falling down which is good for us. I actually hate hearing this story. For one, I feel bad for the person standing in front of me who just spent good money and now feels it was a partial or total loss. For another, when web developers leave unhappy customers in their wake, it makes our whole industry look bad. If we’re not careful, the general public perception of web developers will eventually rival that of used car salespeople.

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7 Steps To Better Email Newsletters

If you want your email newsletter to be opened and read, follow these simple tips…

  1. Frequency of Emails. Current trends show that emailing between 1 and 3 times per month is the optimal number. Less than that, and you may lose opportunities. If you email more frequently, you run the risk of annoying your customers and having high unsubscribe rates. Having said this, different businesses will have different optimal emailing frequencies. To discover your optimal frequency, track metrics like click-through rates, bounce rates and unsubscribe and spam complaint rates. Of course you should also look at the results of your campaign in terms of conversion rates for website forms and sales (if you sell online).
  2. Email Subject. The subject of your email can make or break your open rates. A good subject can get as much as 80% of your readers to open it whereas a poor subject can lead to a less than 1% open rate. How do you construct a good subject? Don’t try to sell. Subject lines like “Shop Early and Save 10%” or “Holiday Sales Event” are among the worst performing. On the other hand, subject lines that simply describe the contents of the email, like “<Company> Sales & Marketing Newsletter April 2011”, do the best. This may be counterintuitive, but it’s backed by statistics from some of the largest emailing companies. Read the research on the 20 best and worst performing subject lines. (more…)

False Keyword Ranking in Google

As part of our series on basic search engine optimization (SEO), let’s talk about how to measure your SEO efforts. A key metric is how you rank for each keyword you are targeting. Are you on the first page of search results? Are you in the top 3? Are you moving up in the results over time or are you moving down?

The most basic way to track your ranking is to do a search in Google and then count where you rank. If you are on the first page, you are at least in the top 10. If you are half way down the third page, your ranking is 35. Most people agree that if you aren’t at least on the first page then your ranking is meaningless, however, it still can be useful to see whether your rank is getting better or worse over time.

The problem with this basic way of tracking your ranking is that Google can mislead you terribly due to a new feature called “Personalized Search”. If you find that with little or no SEO effort, you are suddenly ranking #1 for a particular keyword, you may have been fooled by personalized search. Here’s how to figure out what’s going on…

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Analyzing Site Traffic

There are a number of tools you can use to analyze your web site’s traffic but they fall into two primary categories – Web based tools and Server based tools. What’s the difference and how can they affect your sites stats? Read on…

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