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