Mindspring Design Blog: Web and Graphics Tips for Small Businesses 5 Ways to Visually Connect with your Clients in Print Does Your Business Need a Content Management System? 3 Ways to Improve Your Web Conversions 9 Essential Tips for Building a Brand New Small Business Website Mindspring Design Blog for Small Businesses

Three Ways to Get People to Visit Your Website Via Print Ads

December 18th, 2011

A website is not an island. It needs help and support from your marketing efforts. Just because you’ve built it doesn’t mean people will automatically come. So you need to promote your website via print ads, marketing materials, business cards, email signatures, phone messages, word-of-mouth, etc. Below are a few examples of how a top-selling magazine draws readers to its website:

1. Make the Most of QR Codes.

Sometimes an ad doesn’t and shouldn’t say it all. It should leave the reader (potential customer) wanting more. A well-placed QR Code can be the door leading to more information. Next to the code, say something like: “For more warning signs, scan this code with your smartphone.”

2. Be Specific.

Sending people to your homepage is great, but sending contest participants to a specialized landing page all about the contest is better. Continue the excitement by sending them specifically where their interest lies. The URL should be short and sweet — just your domain.com/keyword if possible. Or send people to your Facebook, Google+, or Twitter page to get a conversation going.

3. Get Subscribers, Not Just Visitors.

At the end of an article, intentionally leave out some information. Save that privileged information for members, subscribers. Send it to them in a newsletter that also features other helpful tips and product or service suggestions. A subscriber looks forward to receiving something of value from you. And they are that much closer to becoming a customer. Say something like: “Find 9 more ways to get website visitors at domain.com/newsletter”

These are just three ways to direct people to your website from printed materials. What ways have you found to work for you? Share!


How To Get Amazing Company Letterhead

November 28th, 2011

Your letterhead is going out to potential and current customers, potential and current partners, vendors, employees, and others. It represents your organization, and so it’s important that it reflects your public image while conveying essential information.

What Company Letterhead Should Include

Make sure you prominently place your company logo, name, address, phone number, fax number, email address and website address. Other items to possibly include are your tagline and/or brief promotion.

Paper Quality is Most Important

The first thing your readers will notice even before reading (or not reading) your letters is the quality of your paper. So your envelope and letterhead should represent your image. And your choice may be dictated by whether or not you are printing your own letterhead and letters. Common choices for paper are 50# or 60# text, or 20# or 24# bond or writing papers.

Other Considerations

You may also want to consider including a watermark, using exact (Pantone or other) color matching for your logo, graphics bleeding off the page (costs more), paper colors, or custom sizing. Look online for inspiration, but stay true to your own brand.

Check, double check, and triple check your phone numbers and other details. You don’t want thousands of copies of useless letterhead because of a careless error.

 


Nielsen Interview on Mobile App Usability

November 27th, 2011

Check out this interview on mobile app usability:

http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2099266/jakob-nielsen-usability-mobile-sites-apps

Nielsen gives good tips on making a mobile app for your company.

I want to add my thoughts on short copy, however. You want to keep text concise, but not ambiguous. Titles and explanations should not be able to be misinterpreted. In your editing, keep things crystal clear.

Also, the suggestion about hiring a usability team to test your app is crucial.

I recommend small businesses who are developing apps to read this article along with the App Makeover article (especially under the subhead “One Bad Screen=Millions Lost”), and other news in Nielsen’s Alertbox.


Reasons Why You Should Redesign Your Website

November 18th, 2011
  • It’s slow to load
    • Slow load times means more people are bouncing away from your site, going to somebody else’s.
  • Pages are missing
    • This looks unprofessional and untrustworthy.
  • Links are broken
    • This looks unprofessional and untrustworthy.
  • It’s not generating leads
    • Websites are not to look pretty, they’re a business investment that should be bringing you a return.
  • It’s hard to read
    • Clutter and confusion do not convert to customers. They frustrate and push people away.
  • It only works with one web browser
    • This is an outdated practice. Internet Explorer is far from the gold standard of web browsing, and there are many browsers out there. So get with the program and make it accessible to as many as possible!
  • It’s a Flash website
    • Graphic and Flash heavy websites are not easily found in search engines. So less people are finding you.
  • Customers can’t find things
    • Need I say more?
  • Customers keep calling asking the same questions
    • This is a surefire sign that the necessary information is not readily apparent online. Listen to your call center/customer service department and find out what needs fixing.
  • Information is outdated
    • Old information, dated articles that are no longer relevant are wasting space and customers’ time. So clear these out and make room for new pages. Search engines like newer stuff.
  • There are many more reasons … why do you need a website redesign?
    • Email info@mindspringdesign.com to get a free quote and get started on a fresh, dynamic website that makes money and attracts customers!

Why Trust Signals Are So Important for Users

November 17th, 2011

You wouldn’t hand money over for goods to be delivered next week to a traveling salesman with no more credentials than the ones that come out of his mouth, would you? In the same way, purchasing goods on the Internet may seem like a security risk to users. However, there are a number of things which can significantly lower the perceived danger and increase confidence among your potential customers. One of the best of these is the trust signal on a site.

So, what is a trust signal?

A trust signal is a little badge or sometimes a link button which shows you that a site is safe. There are certain signs, which are greater signifiers of safety than others and one of the most well known of these is the Verisign (SSL)

Verisign

Verisign shows that a site processes cards in a safe and secure manner and that your card details can’t be compromised by fraudulent activity. Verisign is generally available on most sites that perform transactions and those using the site should able to clearly see it when processing their goods.

Branding

As a user of a site there is probably no greater trust signal than a brand. Large sites which are directly related to companies are often the best to deal with. Purchasing from the likes of Nike or Coca Cola, or even from the likes of TopShop, directly, means you have a direct comeback. These sites cost a bit more, but do offer buyers the best protection and are important trust signals in the world of eCommerce.

Building up a brand that people can trust is still one of the most important things a webmaster can do. The phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ definitely rings true in the online world as much as it does offline. If your brand can become known as being reliable and trustworthy this is definitely one of the best ways to build up confidence with your potential customers.

The Website Itself

The layout of a site is also an important trust factor. Sites which are poorly designed, look outdated or involve users having to scroll back and across a screen covered in poor graphics won’t evoke a sense of trust. If the site looks like it hasn’t been cared for, this will pass on a negative message to the users. If the website appears to be well looked after and updated regularly, this will add the ‘human touch’ which should be good news for your users.

Broken Links

This is another major sign of a company who may not offer you the most trustworthy shopping experience. Broken links, which lead to sites with an ‘Error 404′ would not be the most advisable to enter all your bank details into.

Returns Policies and Contact Details

Knowing that a site offers a certain amount of flexibility should something go wrong can also create a sense of trust in a website. Websites which offer money back guarantees seem a lot more trustworthy than sites which don’t offer such options. With up to one third of fashion sites receiving returns it is good to know you can do so easily without problems — this is a good trust sign and one that shows you can put faith in the site.

It’s also worth having a look through to see if you can find a contact address and phone number. If your order doesn’t work out as you expected, you will need to be sure that you can contact the business to discuss your issues. If you’re in doubt, just give them a call before you place your order to find who’s at the other end. Any reputable company should be more than happy to talk through any concerns you might have.

All of these things, or the lack of them, should give you a good idea of whether or not you can trust a website enough to make a purchase.

About the Author: Cormac Reynolds is a freelance writer, currently working for Discounts.ca who offer a large selection of coupons and offers for major brands including Amazon, Dell and Expedia.

Places to Find More Website Resources

November 17th, 2011

Webmaster Tips ‘n’ Tutorials: Free tools, code and resources on web design, HTML, Javascript and Internet marketing.

Free General Web Directory

Web designers with professionals. Affordable website design company that is serviced and custom.

We are a top website design firm in the Westville, New Jersey Website Design Services guide on DigitalSpinner.com.


Internet Marketing — There’s No Silver Bullet

November 14th, 2011

Many customers want to know what they can do to get more business from their websites. I then send a detailed list of options and recommendations based on their budget.

But here’s the thing. There’s no silver bullet. Internet marketing, inbound marketing, SEO/SEM all involve a consistent effort over time. Small business owners and entrepreneurs need to set aside some of their monthly advertising/web budget for this approach.

The good news is many forms of marketing yourself online don’t have to be costly. If you discipline/train yourself to do some on your own, they can even be free.

Your internet marketing efforts should include:

  • well-optimized website
  • relevant, regularly added content
  • useful information for download (reports, videos, etc)
  • email newsletters
  • social media and involvement in online communities/forums
  • is there something else you’ve found is working?

As you can see from the above list, you can’t just do each of these things once and remain visible to those searching for you. You need to keep putting yourself in the view of potential customers who are looking for your specific product or service.

So don’t be content to do one blow-out campaign. Discipline yourself, or hire someone, to keep up a regular, steady routine of internet marketing, and watch your business grow.


Check Your Bandwidth Using CNET’s Online Speed Test

November 14th, 2011

Select your location, then see how fast your internet connection is. How did you score?

http://reviews.cnet.com/internet-speed-test/?tag=rb_content;contentNav

 


Roundup of Mindspring Design’s Top Posts

November 14th, 2011

For those that recently discovered us, here’s a roundup of our top posts:


Keep Your Business Connected With the iPhone, the iPod Touch and the iPad

November 8th, 2011

How the “i” Keeps You Connected to Your Business at All Times

So you have started a business, found the location to hold your office, recruited the personnel, and started growing your client base. If you are like me, your business keeps you busy and running around. Where will you be today? Two cities away? In meetings? To and from the office three or four times? Staying connected to what is happening at the office can be one of the most challenging tasks of running a business. Sure we have smartphones. Sure we have email on the go. But what about other parts of our business we need to take care of on the go?

The “i” can help. The “i” of course is referring to Apple and its products. More specifically, the three I use to stay on top of more than just email: iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad.

Payment Processing Using iPhone Intuit Go Payment

I visited a client once for a large production shoot. Normally there is a meeting, a proposal written up, and then a deposit put down. This one occasion the client wanted to put down money to get started right away. It got me thinking about how easy it would be to be able to charge their credit card while we sat at the meeting table without the hassle of now finding the time to get down to the bank.

I did my research and found the Intuit Go Payment device. After a very simple process of getting approved for one, I received the device in the mail less than two weeks later. It plugs directly into my iPhone. Charge by sliding a major credit card or debit card or by even typing in the card’s information. The client signs directly onto the screen and we both receive a verification and receipt via email. When the funds transfer in two to three days, I receive another email. Done.

Editing Documents Using iPod Touch Apps

I often have more to do than I can think about, so when I receive a phone call from the office telling me we have another client that is looking for a project proposal, I often have no time to drive all the way back to the office to modify and send out our proposal template.

Being Mac based, many of the programs on the computer can be purchased via the Apple Store and downloaded onto a device such as my iPod Touch. So, once I knew I could download Pages, my primary word processor program, I was now able to adjust our project proposals with the new company’s logo, information, project details, and pricing and send it off without the new client waiting for my day to end at the office. Next client please.

Video Editing with iPad Video

When you start a business it is often the way of the owner to wear many hats. You become owner, writer, editor, funder, project director and need a new hat as new roles come up. My video editors need to send me the first draft, or beta cut, of any video they complete before it gets sent to the client. Neither the iPhone or iPod Touch have a screen large enough for me to really see what work has been done. So, my iPad stands in as my video screener.

They email me the file, I download it, and wherever I am I can watch the high definition video as it is intended to be seen by the client. I can then email back changes or comments with some simple finger flips across the screen. Anything else you need?

So, in one day, I can charge a customers a down payment on a project, send out a project proposal to another, while being able to make edits to a current project. And all with the “i” by my side, or really, in  my hands. How much easier can it get?

Author Bio:
Miscelleana Rhinehart has been writing for more than four years and loves to write about any topic as she shares her varying experiences through her journeys. Holding a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and two minors in Business, owning a business, and writing freelance is only half the fun. Ms. Rhinehart also writes for Nexteppe, a marketing and SEO company helping dealerships sell Michigan GMC dealers through the use of social media and web design as well as offering a new way to search online classifieds.
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