What is Responsive Web Design Anyway?

Posted by: on Friday, May 10, 2013

Responsive web design...that is a buzz word you might have heard of in the last couple of years. But, what it is and why is it important for you to know about it?

Answer this question first. What is quickly becoming the most popular way to browse the Internet?

If your answer is mobile devices, you are correct. According to a white paper put out by Cisco, the use of smartphones increased by 81 percent in 2012. And 2013 will be the year when the number of mobile-connected devices surpasses the world's population.

Now, what does mobile devices and responsive web design have to do with each other?

Responsive web design offers a way to make your website friendly to mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops. With the explosion of portable browsing devices, having a mobile-friendly website design has gone from optional to mandatory. You need a web design agency who knows how to make your website mobile friendly.

How does responsive web design work?

Think about the critical difference between mobile browsing and desktop browsing: the size of the screen. On a desktop, you likely have a screen at least 19 inches. With your smartphone, you are lucky to have six to seven inches of browsing space. Tablets allow a bit more, but not anywhere near that 19-inch desktop screen.

Browsing a website built for a desktop with a mobile device is an exercise in frustration. The graphics are too big, the pages load slow, and the constant scrolling is annoying. To answer that problem, an innovative web designer, Ethan Marcotte, came up with the idea of rearranging and editing the website components depending on what size window the browser has.

This innovative idea was a major leap forward compared to earlier theories. For example, one common option is to have two different websites: one for desktop browsing and one for mobile devices. You are talking about twice the coding, twice the cost, and twice the maintenance. Not a good plan if you want to keep costs under control, but many big companies implemented this model. Some companies even created more than two sites by programming for the different types of devices. That created even higher costs and more chaos.

What makes responsive design so special?

Responsive web design offers better usability for mobile users which expands your company's potential audience. It lowers maintenance time and costs because there is only one to worry about. It offers a single URL to remember instead of separate ones for mobile and desktop browsing. Any web design agency you hire should know how to handle this type of design.

Today, mobile devices are rapidly overtaking laptops and desktops for Internet browsing. Creating a website that will meet this demand is imperative for your marketing efforts. Now, is this type of design the best solution for everyone? Not always. But for most companies, it is the beginning of creating the website they need for sales for years to come.

When you are ready to put out a new website design for your new or existing site, you need to go with a responsive web design. You need a web design agency that can handle the design. In fact, a question you need to ask any agency is for examples of their responsive web designs. That will give you an idea of what they are capable of.

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Learn How to Generate Leads from Your Online Efforts

Posted by: on Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What is the lifeline of your online business? 

The answer to the question will differ for each person that answers it. For one person it might be their healthy cash flow. For another it might be their key supplier. Still another might consider their wizard employee that critical piece. None of those answers are right. It does not matter how much money you have in the bank, who is providing your products, or who you hire.

The lifeline of your online business is your customers. To get customers you need a healthy flow of leads coming into your sales funnel.

How do you generate leads?

  • Know your audience - Your company has a target audience, even if you do not know who it is. For example, if your industry is home improvement, your audience is contractors and homeowners. If your industry is hip women's business fashions, your audience is business women in their 20s and 30s. Know your audience better than you know yourself. Create personas for them and tweak them as you learn more.

  • Aim for qualified leads instead of anybody who might come along - Many marketing experts recommend casting a wide net to bring everyone in. The problem with that theory is that you are spending your time, effort, and marketing money on people who have no interest in your product or service. Focus your efforts towards your target audience. You will get a few people come who have no interest. But, those numbers will be lower than if you cast a wide net. 

  • Build a valuable destination for long-term lead generation - Quality content is not a one-time thing. Once you have an array of content on your site, focused on your target audience, it will keep giving back over time. An article you wrote a couple of years ago may be just what someone is looking for. Look at your website content and lead generation as a long-term project.

  • Nurture your leads from the start - From the moment someone becomes a lead you need to make that relationship a priority. Send an instant thank you. Also, you might give them a section of your website not offered to others. You can send them special offers, invite them to webinars, and make them feel like a trusted friend.

  • Do not let leads go stale - A major mistake people make is not keeping the communications open. Now, you do not want to overwhelm a prospect with too many emails. But, you want to keep communications regular. Send out a weekly newsletter. Offer new blog posts every day or two. 

  • Be ready to adjust - Keep an eye on your analytics. When you see one marketing channel going stale, make tweaks or retire it. Put your efforts towards what is working. Look at what your competition is doing. If they have a winning strategy, see if you can steal a couple of ideas for your own work. 

If you can put these practices into play in your online business, you are miles ahead of most businesses online. You need to keep the flow of highly qualified customers coming into your sales funnel. First you need to know that audience and build a destination that will keep them coming back. Once they are in the sales funnel, you nurture them and keep your company on their mind. And at the end of the day, a flexible plan is always better than a single focus.

This is how you generate leads from your online efforts. 

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How NOT to Get Blocked with Your Email Campaigns

Posted by: on Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Email plays a major part in current Internet marketing. However, email is also one of the trickiest forms of marketing. People have grown super weary of spam in their email box. They will deleteanything they do not recognize or anything that might be spam.

Get Your Email Read

You want to get your email read. You want people to heed your call to action and click-through. Here are a few tricks of the trade on how not to get blocked with your email campaigns:

  • People look at the subject line first. Based on what it says, 70 percent of recipients willdelete the email. You want to be in the 30 percent that is kept. Make your title compelling and not sales-focused in any way. You want them to feel comfortable that your email is not spam.

  • People look at the "From" name next. A company name is much more likely to get deleted as spam than a real name. Use your name or a pseudonym. But, make sure you use it consistently. Changing names every time you send an email will raise suspicions that you are sending spam.

  • Previewing the email text is the third thing recipients do. If your says "Click here to view in HTML," they will delete it. Plus, it is boring and sounds blah, blah, blah. Yours need to start with something attention grabbing like "A brand new idea was born out of thin air..." That will tweak their interest and make them open the email.

  • The opening paragraph will make or break your message. Keep it short, sweet, and compelling. Tell them what you want to say in three to four sentences maximum. If it holds their interest, they will read further.

  • Keep the body short, less than half a page is preferable. Include bullets to offer concise information in easy to digest bits. Once a person reads your opening paragraph, they will skim the rest of the message. A short message with bullets will keep them reading. A long message with no breaks or white space will get deleted.

  • Do not make your message into a single image, like scanning a flyer and making a jpg.That is the biggest no-no and will get you little to no click-through. In fact, many email programs will automatically put such messages into the spam folder. Your message must include text. You can embed images, but do not make the message into an image. It will get deleted and may get your IP on a banned list for the email service.

Make sure your email has the biggest impact possible. You want people to read your email. Keep it short and sweet. Make sure the subject line grabs attention, send it from a real person, and make your opening paragraph compelling. Provide a concise body with bullets along with a call-to-action. If you do nothing else, never, ever, send out an email that has a single image of your offer.That is how you keep your email marketing efforts on track. 

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What is a Call-to-Action Message? FIND OUT NOW!

Posted by: on Monday, April 29, 2013

A common term you will hear in connection with Internet marketing is "call-to-action." Understanding just what that term means and how to apply it is essential for online marketing success. If you do not know how to apply them properly, you will not have the success you desire.

What You Need to Know About Calls-to-Action

Here is what you need to know about calls-to-action, also known as CTAs:

  • A call-to-action is a request to do something. If you do not ask, your readers will not take action. You can put buttons all over the place and links to your sign-up page. But, if you do not make a specific request, your visitors will not make the leap to become a lead. Don't make them hunt to find your sign-up page. They won't do it.

  • Any CTA you use must be in context. If a visitor is on your "Roof Repair" page, it should ask "Request a Roof Repair Quote." That link should take you to the "Roof Repair Quote" page, not the "Contact Us" page. Keep your CTA aligned with the connected landing pages. It not only means with words but with look and feel. If your CTA is a bright green button with the picture of a roof, your landing page needs some bright green highlights with pictures of roofs.

  • Every page on your website must have a call-to-action. That means ALL of them. Your contact us page should offer a chance to sign-up for your newsletter. Your home page should offer them a chance at a quote. Every blog post should have a CTA for a specific offering. It might be a white paper, a webinar, or a place to sign-up for their free video. When you leave a page without a CTA, you leave an opening for your visitor to leave without taking action.

  • Optimize your calls-to-action. "Get a Quote" is not optimized. "Get a Roof Repair Quote" is. Make sure the CTA text has keywords. Make sure the same keywords are on the landing page. You want to give a clear and concise CTA for them to do. Making your CTA too long is counter-productive and will not make people want to click-through.

  • Keep your CTAs above the fold and highly visible. Above the fold means on the top half of the page. Your visitors should not have to scroll down a long page of text to the bottom where your CTA is. It will not happen. Place your CTAs at the top and along the sides. You can add a CTA at the bottom, but do not depend on it as your only one.

Calls-to-action are an essential part of your marketing channels. It takes a visitor and entices them to become a lead. Without CTAs, your website will not generate a high number of leads. Your marketing efforts will be for naught. Add calls-to-action to all your webpages and keep them in context. Optimize the CTAs and keep them above the fold. That will get your message across and keep your visitors taking the next step. That is the way to convert them to leads and customers.

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Is Your Approach to Social Media Wrong?

Posted by: on Thursday, April 25, 2013

Social media has become a necessary part of any online marketing effort. If you have not adopted social media yet, get out of the Age of Dinosaurs. You are lagging far behind your competition. If you have arrived in the 21st century and are using social media, the question to ask is if you are using it right.

Many companies jumped into social media just to have a presence. They did not have any plan or idea of how they were going to use it. They thought they could figure it out as they moved forward. The problem is without a plan social media can become a minefield.

Here are some things to keep in mind about your social media approach:

  • Rule #1 is consistency. When someone begins to follow your company's social media, they have certain expectations. If you are a plumbing company, for example, they expect your social media presentations to include topics related to common plumbing problems, new products, and other helpful information. If you use the blog to talk to customers one day, and other plumbing professionals the next, you are being inconsistent. A customer doesn't want to hear your rant on the rising costs of plumbing supplies.

  • Social networking is not about advertising. It is about sharing. That is a big difference. You get a flyer in the mail trying to sell you life insurance. Would you want to scan that flyer into your computer and send it to all your family and friends? Make copies and pass them out on the street corner? Not likely. You find a great blog post online about the impact of life insurance on a family who lost their father at a young age. You want to share that information to encourage family and friends to protect their loved ones. See the difference?

  • The early bird gets the worm. Believe it or not social media sharing peaks at 7 a.m.Many people use the early morning hours to check their news feeds, blogs, and email. That is when they start sharing. While social media is a 24/7 business, it is important to have content out there when people are reading it. Use your content management system to schedule social media updates for early morning.

  • Social media sharing mostly focuses on talking to your current clients. Reaching others happens when your current customers share your valuable content. When you have someone who knows your company and the quality you present, they will follow your social media. When you share something of value, they are likely to share it with their network. That magic formula is what comes around to increase your follower and customer base.

  • Keep your social media real. No one wants to listen to pompous marketing BS. Hard advertising is the fastest way to get people to shut you down. Making all your communications about how your products or services will change their life will get people to drop your social media channels. Share information that helps instead of doing the hard sell. It make a big difference.

If you have not started your social media journey yet, keep these strategies in mind. If you have already begun your efforts, stop and make some changes using these strategies. You can create a consistent message that attracts your current clients and makes them want to share with others. You do not want to use your social media as an advertising channel. You need to give valuable content that people want to share.

That is how you use social media to your advantage.

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