There are far more options for building websites than most people realise. Picking the right one starts with working out what you need and want.
Is the site a place to reinforce who you are or is it your shop-front?
Do you need a custom design or could your branding fit into a template designed to work well on the web?
Are you looking for clients to contact you directly or customers to buy online from you?
Do you need password-protection, membership areas and online courses?
The problem with specialists
Choosing from the range of options
There are two main groups of website building systems that are best for your size and type of business:
1. Hosted website builders
These are the easiest to use and are the most stable options for building your website.
You may have heard of Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and One. These are all hosted website builders.
There are hosted website builders that specialise in online shopping websites. These include Shopify, Tictail,
If your business model is membership and training-based, there are hosted website builders that provide you with all you need to manage members and password-protected areas and online courses. Kajabi is a well-liked option but you see that the pricing reflects how powerful it is. Some of the standard systems, like Wix and Weebly can handle basic versions of membership sites and training online and they are far cheaper.
2. Self-hosted content management systems
These over a lot more opportunity for custom development - programming your own site elements - but this comes at a price. These really require help from a developer who specialising in the particular system. They need hosting somewhere and they need protecting. Security risks are higher, especially if you don't update the software immediately as a new update comes through.
The most well-known self-hosted CMS is Wordpress. It isn't alone, there is Drupal and Joomla, Magento and a whole lot more.
There are also custom coded sites which big companies with complex sites and a high level of security use.
How to choose the best one for your business
We realise this isn't the most exciting of marketing topics but it is really important, so please do read it...
Google thinks that all websites should have an SSL certificate.
If you have not heard about SSL till now, then here's what SSL actually means - Secure Sockets Layer. It is an encoding system in which all the data that gets transferred between your website and the server is encrypted in a language which is unreadable by third parties. It remains secure from hacking.
An SSL certificate helps your website in several ways:
1. It improves your ranking on the search engine
Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo generally display those websites on their top results page which come with SSL certification. Being a small business owner, it is imperative for you to get the customer's attention online. To improve your ranking and visibility online, you should go for SSL certification. Your ranking for the SEO keywords that you are targeting also improves rapidly if you have an SSL certificate.
2. You gain the customer's trust
Almost 50 percent of online shoppers have said that they trust an e-commerce website more which has an SSL certificate and prefer to shop from such websites only. Imagine the number of customers you are losing out on just because your website does not have SSL certification! You can attract so many more customers if you opt for one.
3. The safety of your data is ensured
Sensitive data like credit card numbers, usernames and passwords are protected by SSL encryption. All the transactions that take place through your website are hundred percent safe and secure. The danger of hacking drops right off and you can carry on your business without worrying about data leaks.
4. You get extra authentication
The SSL certificate that you get from a trusted provider makes your confidential information unreadable not only to third parties using other servers but also to those devices which are on the same server as yours. This additional authentication is provided by the public key infrastructure or PKI.
5. You can avoid from being declared dangerous by Google
Google is ensuring that all websites that show up on its search engine have an SSL certification indicated by the https:// in their website addresses. This is being done with the help of the red font color which is appearing on the link of non-secure websites in the form of http://. This red color warns the visitors to your website that it is not secure enough for sharing sensitive data. This can ruin your credibility online. SSL certification is a necessity for e-commerce websites specifically because of the transactions that are carried out.
The general advice is if you want your small business to perform well on online , you need to get an SSL certification as soon as possible.
We advise ALL our clients to get SSL certificates as soon as possible.
Contact us if you need help. In many cases, they are free.
You told us that you'd like a few hours with us, working on getting clients by using social media. Repeatedly in some cases (you know who you are!). So, very happily, we are running two 2-hour sessions this coming Thursday in Danderyd.
You can expect the sessions to provide:
For more information, click here or get in touch with us. If you want to join us but can't make it this Thursday, let us know and we'll see what we can do.
This topic comes up more and more at the moment. It is perhaps because social media has changed the marketing landscape back into a personal connection between buyer and seller and well away from the advertising model of reaching, impersonally, many-with-one message.
So, let's look at where we came from, to see what we can apply again now:
The change to this way of doing business came much earlier than you may think - with the start of printing in the mid-1400s! This took us into the era of mass marketing which remains still today in the form of websites. We aren't suggesting you shouldn't have a website - of course they have such an important role in business but let's now look at where social media has brought us:
There is plenty of evidence to show that social media has a huge influence on our shopping patterns but I wanted to point out the fundamental point. People buy people. Not literally, what we mean is that human nature drives us to buy things from people that we trust and 'understand'. If you remember this when planning any marketing, it will help you make it a success.
Email marketing is still the most successful way of selling (as long as you have an email list....more on that soon). So, get your emails read by following some important tips:
1. Start with the facts - blogging works. Blogging hugely increases a website's popularity with search engines, tells potential customers that their are real people actively working in the business and increases the likelihood of a customer choosing to buy. Be specific to your business/department and show exactly what blogging contributes. 'It delivers X so we need it.'
2. Talk your colleagues through how a potential customer behaves, making sure to show how vital the blog is. Try 'Potential customer type W does X then Y then Z then buys.'
3. Highlight your ideal situation from the customer's perspective - interested in A, looking for B, found information C, case study D and blog post E, buys.
4. Explain why them. This point is crucial. Show them what it is that they know that potential customers want to read about. A bit of flattery at this point is probably necessary :) Examples are:
Sales people on how they help customers
Research and development on what’s coming up in new products
The CEO on the latest developments within the company or, even better, in the industry
Customer service reps to answer common customer questions
Experts on the latest developments within their areas in the business and in the industry
5. Give them a detailed brief to help guide their writing and help them feel confident to start. Include a topic or a question to answer, length and deadline.
6. Support your writers. Give them specific tips, such as how to write a great headline and offer to edit their posts.
- Show them what your competitors are doing well and badly (be specific, show blog posts).
- Make it mandatory. Careful with this one! Get managers on board to help enforce.
- Make it competitive. Careful with this one too. Show stats for blog post shares, hits etc. Add in a prize.
- Give them stats. Even if you don't make it competitive, make the stats highly visable.
- Get as many contributors as possible. It takes the pressure off you and your experts.
Let us know how you get on!
Mobile what? Marketing via mobile is thankfully not just sending SMSs to your customers (and preferably not at 3am like some Swedish telecoms companies seem to do...). Sometimes, texting your customers is the right thing to do but there are other things you can do to reach out via mobile, such as:
Want to know more? Here is the Mobile Marketing Association's guide and, of course, get in touch with us.
Using your social media to manage your customer services can be a big success. It does, however, take:
* Time and commitment - if you are a big organisation, monitor it 24 hours a day. If you don't have that kind of resources (and very few really do) then make sure that you check your accounts several times a day and respond to enquiries immediately if possible.
* Honesty - don't remove negative comments or questions straight away (unless they are abusive). Try to answer them as clearly and honestly as possible, leave them up for a day or two then remove the whole thread.
* Updates - post information if you are unexpectedly closed, if something has gone wrong with the service you provide or life has had to get in the way of business. Stay positive though!
Check out Arlanda Airport's Twitter feed. Notice the constant interaction (not just monitoring but chatting) and the amazingly positive responses. Awesome.