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The Rules of Email Marketing

Posted by: on Thursday, June 27, 2013

Email marketing has certainly become a hot topic of late, as ISPs are becoming less and less tolerant of unwanted email sent to their users.

We’ve been paying close attention, and are hard at work on building improvements into Freedom to optimize your email campaigns.

In the meantime, remember these important concepts to ensure optimal delivery rates:

  • Only send email to people who explicitly requested to receive it from you
  • Do not purchase lists or collect email addresses online
  • If some of your emails are bouncing, do not continue sending to those addresses


Here’s a video with some useful information about how the rules of email marketing work, and how to adhere to best practices:

 
Other Blogs on Email Marketing

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Is it Time to Redesign Your Website?

Posted by: on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Your website is a major part in your marketing strategy. Even if you have a store in a bricks-and-mortar shopping center, people will still go to your website. They want to know what you have to offer. They want to see your products. They want to see what your company and brand is all about. 

Your website offers a window into your company, your products or services, and what your brand stands for. Think of it as a critical member of your staff.

Is your website doing its job or is it time to redesign website?

Answers these questions:

  • How well is your website doing in the search engines against your competition? If your website is lagging behind on critical keywords, you need a new strategy for your website. The content on your website must be attractive to both visitors and search engine bots. If you are lagging behind your competition, something needs to change. If you cannot get visitors to your website, your leads will dry up and that means your sales will dry up.
  • When was the last time you updated your website? Many companies think that designing a website is a one time thing. They will spend money and time getting it setup. Then they will forget about it. They may have a blog update occasionally, but the rest of the website does not change. A non-changing website causes two problems. First, search engines will bring a site down in ranking when the content does not change. Second, visitors to your site will not return if you offer nothing new.
  • Do you have plenty of people coming to your website? Have you checked your website traffic numbers lately? if you are like many business owners or managers, you likely have not. You need to keep an eye on those numbers. You want plenty of people coming to the site and you want those numbers to stay steady or increase. Steady decreases or inadequate traffic are major signs you need a website overhaul.
  • How easy is your website to navigate? Ask a friend to take a stroll through your website and give you feedback. That person should have no issues finding information on your company, staff, brand, and products/services. Ask new employees to do the same. Poll trusted customers with the question. You may be surprised that your website is not so easy to navigate. If a new visitor comes to your site and has problems finding what they want, they will not come back.
  • Does your website display properly on mobile devices? Take your cell phone and bring up your website. How does it look? Have a friend do the same. Your website need to be friendly to devices of all sizes. If there is no other reason to do a website redesign, this one should decide it. The use of mobile devices is rapidly overtaking the use of desktops for web browsing. Your website needs to keep up with your competition.


Now the last question: Is it time to redesign website?

After answering the above questions, you likely have your answer.

Your website is something you cannot forget. You need a steady stream of visitors, even if you run a bricks-and-mortar store. You need content that changes and updates to keep visitors and search engine bots happy. Visitors should be able to find everything they want on your website without thinking too much. And they need to be able to do it from any device they have on hand.

When you are ready to redesign website, you need a good web design agency at your side to get the best results. Get started today.


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Website Redesign Checklist: How to Create a Great Plan

Posted by: on Monday, May 20, 2013

Would you build a house without a set of blueprints designed and signed off by an architect? Almost everyone would answer, "No, of course not." Well the same thinking needs to go into your website redesign. You need a solid plan complete with blueprints before you begin to redesign website. Without it, you will not know what you want the result to achieve.

Here is how to put together a great plan for your website redesign:

  • Analyze what you have. Have people go to the website and give you feedback. Run polls with current customers to see what is working. You may not need to do a complete overhaul. A thorough update can give you the same results as a complete redesign in some cases. Even if you go with a new design, you can incorporate elements of your old one that work.

  • Create a clear set of goals. Your analysis should have identified what is working and what is not. You may want to increase organic traffic. You may want to add more landing pages. You might want to start offering online courses or webinars. Set your goals and make them workable.

  • Look for examples of websites that you like and ones you do not like. Identify the elements that work for you and those that do not. You may have an absolute favorite web design. Show it to your designer. You may hate another. Show the designer. You may like certain elements on one page. Give those to the designer as well. It offers a solid outline of what you want.

  • Look at your competition. You want to keep up with what they are offering. If your competitor is offering online courses and you are not, that is a gap. If you have thought about offering webinars and your competition now does not, you need to get that prioritized. That will give you an advantage.

  • Make function the first priority, form second. You want a smoothly functioning website. Every aspect should be bug free and easy to use. Once you have that functionality down, you can add the pretty pictures and color scheme. An attractive website may get you compliments but a non-functioning one will get you no praise.

  • How can you increase user interaction? People like to take part in their web browsing experience. Your website needs to offer some level of interaction. It might be a calculator or a design tutorial. There are a million ways to do it. You just need to find the right combination.

  • Is your design mobile friendly? As you likely know already, more and more people are using mobile devices for browsing. That means your website needs to be friendly to those devices to connect with the most people. When you are planning to redesign website, you need to make sure that your designer takes this into account.

 

If you go through each of these points carefully, you can craft a blueprint to guide you as you redesign website. With that blueprint, you will know what you have, what you want to change, and how to get there. When working with a web design agency, they can help you build this plan. But, in the end, it is your website, it is your company, and you need to take control of the result.

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Why Website Redesign is Important To Boost Traffic and Leads

Posted by: on Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Would you pick up a magazine from 10 years ago to get the latest sports news or fashion trends? Of course, not.

Why do you think your customers would want to come to your website if you have not updated in 10 years? The answer is they don't. They may come back occasionally to see if you have anything new. But, when they see you have nothing new to offer, they will just not come back. This is why you need to redesign website regularly. It is critical for your long-term success.

Here are a few other reasons why website redesign is so important for your company:

  • Good content attracts qualified visitors. If your current website has outdated or low quality content, you are not getting the visitors you want. You need people who have an interest in your products or services. Those people want information on what is available and what you recommend. Adding content focused on that audience will help you keep those people interested in what you have to offer.

  • Valuable incentives will turn some of your visitors into leads. If you do not offer incentives, or have not changed them in a while, you need to make a change. Different people have different motivators. Adding varied incentives will grab the attention of more people. Plus, it will give you multiple channels through which to attract your ideal customers.

  • Quality content keeps leads and visitors returning to your site multiple times. If people find quality content on a subject they have an interest in, they will keep coming back. That means you need to keep updating and changing your website's content. Change it up by adding video and audio components. Failing to do that will diminish the return rate and lower your lead generation efforts.

  • Well placed calls-to-action (CTAs) can lead your visitors into the website further. A call-to-action is a piece of text or visual that directs people to do something on your website. You may ask them to sign up for your newsletter. You might offer them access to a white paper or ebook in exchange for their contact information. The CTA directs them in that direction. If you do not now use them, you need to change that. You cannot get people to do anything unless you ask them.

  • Offering case studies and testimonials builds trust. People want to hear what others are saying about your company. If you can present your company from the view of a customer in a positive light, you have an advantage. Case studies and testimonials both offer a positive statement about your products, services, and customer relations. It can show the impact your products and services can have on everyday problems.

  • Creating a mobile friendly environment will increase traffic. More and more people are using mobile devices to browse. In fact, in the next couple of years, the amount of mobile browsing will surpass desktop browsing. That fact alone should inspire you to add a mobile friendly web design.

 

These are just a few reasons why you need to redesign website routinely. Your company has likely changed in the past few years. Does your website show those changes? If it does not, you need a website redesign.

Get a top design agency at your side when you decide to redesign website. You will have the ability and artistic eye to give your online presence the boost it needs.

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5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Signing Anything

Posted by: on Monday, May 13, 2013

You are looking around for a new web design agency. You need to someone to build a website and manage it for you. That frees you up to concentrate on the core of your business. However, if you are not a web design expert, how will you know if an agency is the right fit for your company and its online needs?

Asking some essential questions can give you information about the agency. The answers will give you critical insights into whether the agency is a good fit for your company or not.

Here are five questions you need to ask any web design agency before signing a contract:

  1. How long of a contract do you require?
    Most people hire a design agency that will also host and support the website long-term. That is not a bad thing. But, signing a long-term contract is not the best idea. You need a company that will keep your website up to date. If you sign a three-year contract, you are locked in with that company. If their maintenance or coding skills go down, you are stuck. Sign no more than a 12-month deal, better yet, ask for a month-to-month agreement, ask the agency to earn your business each & every month, that way you can go with another company if the original one is not doing their job. Don't sign long term agreement.

  2. Who owns the website and design?
    Okay, you think you own your website URL and the design once the agency completes it. That is not always the case. Some agencies have a "buy-back" clause in their contracts. This clause requires you to pay a fee to take possession of your own website. So, you pay for the upfront design costs and pay for maintenance. When you want to move your website to a new company, you find that you have to pay the original company an amount to get the website in your name. Do not sign any contract with a "buy-back" clause. 

  3. Can you give links to five of your latest designs?
    Many web design agencies see a high-turnover in staff. That can mean their design quality can fluctuate if they lose talented people. A company's design quality is only as good as its latest examples. Look at the examples provided closely. Make sure they show consistent quality and offer the functionality you want. Also, contact the companies to which those websites belong. Ask about the service provided by the design agency. Was it done on time, on budget & according to the scope?

  4. Can you handle mobile-friendly designs?
    This question is critical. Every company needs to have a website that welcomes all browsers. If the agency does not have this skill set, your website will not see the traffic you want. Those who use mobile devices for browsing will not visit your site. With this as the largest growing way to use the Internet, you cannot miss that part of your audience. Take a look at the latest design they have done on a phone, tablet, laptop & monitor. Does it look great in all of them?

  5. What services are provided in your packages and what is extra?
    Many companies offer great prices for packages. What they do not tell you is that some critical components are missing. You may have to pay extra for services you thought were standard. Make sure you get a full understanding of what you are getting, what is extra, and what you need. It allows you to make an informed decision. Ask if they offer an hourly rate or a flat rate for custom add-on projects, you will be surprised of the answers. Some companies have a starting flat rate minimum of $495 per project, regardless of how long it will take, others have a $175/hour for any projects. Just ask and get it in writing.

 

These questions will give you the information you need from each agency to make an informed decision. Each web design agency is different. Their owners and employees have different goals that may not mesh with your long-term needs. Find an agency that fits your needs and keeps your website the way you want it and need it.

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