Your Online Presence: It’s More Than Just Your Website

Today internet, search engine and website technology has exploded into an increasingly complex tool that demands a well devised plan and ongoing management to be effective. Even though the days of website simplicity are long gone it is possible to have an effective online presence. In this six part article series we’ve offered some ideas on how best to take on this challenge. So far we covered the steps of Strategy, Design and Build in our Five Step Process. Today we’re talking about life beyond your website: marketing.

Promote your brand

For many business owners self promotion can feel a bit awkward.  The good news is that self promotion can be achieved in a number of ways.  Email marketing, online advertising, blogging, social media and even search engine optimization all contribute to promoting your brand.  And the options are endless when it comes to software tools to get the job done well.  For example, we have helped many clients establish strong email marketing campaigns that keep clients informed about exciting opportunities in their companies by partnering with Constant Contact.   We also work with our clients to start and manage an online advertising plan that might include banner ads, pay-per-click or social media advertising.

SEO is a marketing goldmine

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to market your website online is through Search Engine Optimization.   To oversimplify a very complex topic SEO is the process of making your website more attractive to both search engines and potential visitors.  The detail we build into the background of your site greatly increases your ranking and helps drive more visitors to your site. And your SEO strategy should be adjusted periodically to keep the search engines interested and looking for more.

Keep your customers

Social media is one of the most important ways businesses stay in touch with their customers. And social media is evolving into new uses such as customer service.  However, as with any good marketing plan it’s the execution that really matters.  Consistency is key when it comes to posting, blogging or even responding to email inquiries.  And consistency is the primary reason our customers come to us for support of their social media plan.  Our support programs are uniquely tailored to each client and their needs, helping them with website updates, content creation, search engine optimization, social media marketing, loyalty programs or just about any of their marketing support needs. Don’t let your marketing plan lose it’s consistency and effectiveness because you didn’t have the time to execute.

Are you struggling to maintain a solid online presence? What’s the most difficult part? What have you done that’s worked well for your business?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

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Your Online Presence: Build A Powerful Machine

We’ve been talking about the significantly increased need for a well designed online presence for businesses of all sizes and industries.  In our previous posts we explained the Strategy step and Design step in our Five Step Process and why these steps are so important to your online presence. Once your design is established it’s time to get to work on building the site. Keep these three points in mind from our Build step as you and your provider develop your website.

Choose your web development partner carefully

When it comes to finding a web development partner it’s tempting to go for the lowest cost provider or the one who promises to get it done quickly.  Make sure the programmers have a proven record of successful web development projects.  In our case our team of programmers are trained and highly skilled in every platform we offer.  And having multiple platforms to choose from is key to getting the best fit and function based on your specific business needs.  If you created a solid strategy then choosing a platform will be much easier.

Build for current and future needs

If your business is a startup or you plan to launch new products or services your future needs will most likely be different than what you require today.  Consider options that can support functions like e-commerce, mobile e-commerce and marketing, event management, surveys, database and content management systems.  Our team can help with developing a design to integrate your existing custom software applications with the new technology you choose.  Integrating existing and new technologies will make your life a whole lot easier.   And make sure you have the option to self manage your website content without the need to be a high tech guru.

Master the art of being found

All the elaborate strategy, design and functionality in the world will not help you much if no one sees your website.  Search engine optimization has become a multi-layered and complex art that few have truly mastered.  We believe that everything counts when it comes to search engine optimization.  The detail we build into the background of your site greatly increases your ranking and helps drive more visitors to your site.  Be sure that the provider you select has a team that understands the finer details of SEO.  From the programmer to the graphic designer to the copywriter the entire team should be fluent in SEO optimization of website and content creation.

Building well is critical to ensuring your website works efficiently to create the online presence you desire.  So how’s your current website working for you?  Is it bringing new visitors and more importantly, more customers into your business? If not, let us take a look under the hood.  Because a website is a terrible thing to waste.  In our next post we’ll talk about marketing effectively as part of our Five Step Process.

 

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Your Online Presence: Design For Your Audience

In this six part article series we’ve been discussing the significantly increased need for a well designed online presence for businesses of all sizes and industries.  In our previous post we explained the Strategy step in our Five Step Process and why planning is so important for an effective online presence.  And a well designed website will put that strategy to work by creating a presence that attracts the right audience.

Design for your brand

Your strategy should work hand in hand with your design. In this part of the process you should determine your brand positioning, voice and corporate identity to help you stand out amongst your competitors.  Your branding is a visual statement that includes both visual and textual elements.  Your voice, tone and style of communication is part of your brand that contributes to your corporate identity in a crowded marketplace.  We take the time to conduct extensive research to make sure you understand what’s really happening in your industry.  Don’t brush past this step or simply guess at what you think is happening.  It’s just too important if you want to appear relevant.

Design for your needs

It may be tempting to make design choices from templates with limited customization like logos, colors and minor layout changes.  However a template design may stop short of fully integrating with the functionality your business really needs.  It can also get messy once you start making significant changes to a template.  So consider custom design and development to give you exactly the web presence, integration and applications that meet your specific needs.

Design for your users

Understanding your web users’ expectations may seem a bit challenging but we believe its key to good design. And investing in UX (user experience) design will deliver a quality set of experiences for your web visitor.  Think about your user’s experience in stages: Are they doing research? Are they comparing you to a competitor or two?  Are they ready to buy or already a customer? Each of these unique searches use different keywords and phrases to look for specific information to satisfy their expectations.  And don’t overlook the mobile part of the picture as an essential component for a web visitor to stay engaged.  Ease of use should encompass everything from mobile search and interaction, specialized databases, payment systems, order applications, Ecommerce shopping carts, to static pages and payment gateways.

If this all sounds like “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” don’t fret.  As we stated in the first article, we hope it’s become obvious why the good ol’ days of internet simplicity are long gone. And that’s why we are here to help.  Be sure to check out the next article in this series about how we bring all this strategy and design to life during the Build step.

 

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What’s Your Strategy for Online Presence?

We’ve been talking about the significantly increased need for a well designed online presence for businesses of all sizes and industries.  In our previous post we explained how we came to develop our Five Step Process.  Whether or not you’ve benefited from our specific process a well thought out strategy is critical for your online success and positive results. Take a look at the main points in our Strategy step to see what key pieces you might be missing.

Plan is a four letter word

Yes it’s true; plan is a four letter word.  But almost no other step in our process is as crucial to website and online presence success than doing your homework and building a plan. In our Strategy step we conduct extensive research into your industry, your competitors and your business. The findings of that research are then used as the basis for your strategy discussion in our comprehensive planning session where we create a sitemap and determine overall website functionality.

Setting objectives

Too often businesses just toss up a website or jump on social media and ‘wing it’.  The lack of planning, consistency, sense of purpose or forethought shows through clearly.  We discuss this problem in a recent post: Your Website Is Shouting.  Setting clear objectives will make your website or social media management much easier.  You may be seeking to increase visits to your site, rank higher in search, engage prospects or use your site to support customers.  We help our customers pinpoint and clarify their objectives to establish a clear path.

Testing and assessment

There seems to be an unending variety of software and technology on which to build websites making it a challenging choice.  So during our Strategy step we conduct a technology assessment to narrow the field of choice based on your needs and desired functionality. Choosing the right software and technology will save you time and money by providing the right functionality to make your business run more efficiently.  And finally, if you have an existing site we will run a detailed analysis to determine current internet performance and determine where you might have room for optimization improvement.

The Strategy step provides us time to gather a lot of information that will help us help you.  Remember the goal is to create a powerhouse online presence that will get the business results you want.  In our next post we will take a look at the Design step to give you some ideas about building a site that looks great and performs.

Have you set any objectives for your website or online presence? Struggling to get results? Tell us about your objectives and what your results were in the comments below.

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Good Ol’ Days Of The Internet Are Long Gone

When the internet first became universally accessible web pages and search engines were in their infancy.  And in those early days having a simple web page that included your business description and contact information was all you needed.  Today internet, search engine and website technology has exploded into increasingly complex layers of programming that demand a well devised plan and ongoing management for best results. Sorry to break it to you but the days of website simplicity are long gone.

We identified a need

In the 20+ years that we’ve been working with internet technology and developing websites we recognized that building a high performing website and internet presence was a multi-step process. It was becoming increasingly easy to get lost in the myriad of details and decisions that must be made at every point along the way.  Our goal became to simplify the process for our clients while creating a powerhouse web presence that exceeded their expectations.  And so our Five Step Process was born.

Our Five Step Process

We believed that our Five Step Process needed to include the full spectrum of details, decisions, responsibilities, timeline and tasks to effectively manage the client experience and leverage our expertise.

  • Strategy – research, create a plan and set objectives
  • Design – create corporate identity, every aspect of technology and mock ups
  • Build – web, e-commerce, database, content management and custom applications
  • Market – SEO, social media, email, loyalty programs with measurement and tracking
  • Support – customer training and support, web hosting and network management

A long term design

The internet landscape is in a constant state of change and development.  As a result we decided to build our Five Step Process with an open-ended flexibility that would allow us to be responsive to our clients’ long term needs.  Unlike many web development companies our job doesn’t end when the site is up and running.  In fact, providing ongoing marketing and social media management and analysis has become a key strength and differentiator for us in the marketplace.

Each step of this process is designed to achieve specific results and keep the project on course.  We will dig deeper into each of the five steps to explain the ‘why and how’ benefits in our upcoming blog articles.

If you didn’t have the benefit of a formal process to create your existing website it’s not too late.  Redesign projects receive the same level of care and expertise from us. And if you are thinking about a redesign be sure to subscribe to our blog to receive the full series of articles.

 

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