Web site – Marketing Vehicle or Sales Tool?

“Our web site is just a brochure” , “We don’t get any business from our web site – it is just there to help close the deal”, “We want our website to help generate more leads”, “Our new donation portion of the website generated a 350% return on our investment in one year”. These are just a few of the many quotes we hear from customers.  Often the focus is on web site marketing. But the first question you should ask yourself is, How does our site fit in to our business?Web

Notice that the question is not “How does your site fit in to your marketing plan?” For for-profit businesses the customer cycle is generally:

Attract -> Engage -> Convert -> Retain

And non-profit organizations have a similar but slightly different cycle:

Attract -> Connect -> Engage -> Inspire

In both cases the first step in the cycle is attract. And for most web design firms and web customers, that is, unfortunately, as far as the conversation goes. The web site is seen purely as a marketing vehicle to attract eyeballs. But that is missing a lot of opportunity.

A well-planned and well-designed website can and should help with every step of the customer cycle. Sure it should help attract new people. That is marketing 101 and careful planning needs to go into how your website fits into your marketing so you can get the most from it for the marketing perspective. But what is the next step?

Once you have attracted someone to your site, what do you do with them? This is one of the biggest problems with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. You drive a lot of people to your site but have given little to no thought of what to do with them once you’re there.

This is where you want to engage them with your offerings or connect them with opportunities. But only a little at a time.  If you give people too many choices, they will likely select “None of the above” and go to a different site.

Of course, for an ecommerce site it is easy to measure conversions. The same thing applies to a non-profit with online donations. But what other opportunities might you be missing if that is all you are measuring? A newsletter sign up, for example, could be more valuable over the long term than getting that first time visitor to buy or donate.  Regular contact can turn into a bigger customer or a major donor.

Whether you acquired the customer through your website or through other means, have you considered how your website can serve to retain and even inspire? Creating an account and interacting, either with your organization or other users can be a fantastic retention tool.

When choosing a firm to assist with your web site, look beyond the glitz and fancy moving parts. Are they taking the time to understand your organization and how they can help you grow? If so, congratulations! If not, contact EduCyber at 303 268-2245 – Brian is at extension 4.

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A New Question for your Website

Free or low cost services to get you a web site abound. Why should you choose a firm like EduCyber and pay them a lot more instead of getting your free web site?

But there is a new question you should consider when it comes to your website:

What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your website?

Let’s break this down into the two basic parts:

  1. What are the resources needed (your investment)?
  2. What is the return you expect or need from that investment?

The answer to the first question seems clear: For a Wix or SquareSpace or PageCloud site, your cash investment is very small. Or is it? The resources needed to navigate these DIY sites are both time and expertise. Do you have the time to devote? If so, do you have the technical expertise to understand design, layout, html, site flow, integration with 3rd party applications, and conversion optimization to name just a few of the areas you need to understand to create an effective web site? If so, then good for you but might I also suggest you start (or come to work for) a website design company?Free Lunch Too Good To Be True 1

If you don’t have this key resource – expertise – then you can of course hire an outside company to do your site for you on one of these platforms. But honestly, if you are going to hire someone anyway, why not hire a firm that can build you a web site that you own? Did you know that? You can of course build your site on one of these platforms but then when your time is tied up in your business and you want to move your site somewhere else, what happens? Oh, you are stuck with that platform and service. Or you get to start over again.

One of these platforms brags that you can “layer, resize, rotate, stretch and more” but what happens when you have no idea what layer means? Or if you don’t understand the importance of resizing your images? Another of these platforms has its own app market. Hmm. A free web site that has a market? Sounds like the ole’ bait and switch scheme to me. Sure it is free. Until it isn’t.

So yeah, for a low low price you get your own website. But then we need to answer the second question, what is the ROI?

At its base level, the question is “Would you prefer to pay $240 / year for a web site that brings in no new clients or would you prefer to pay $7500 for a web site that generates $75,000 / year in sales?” If you view your web site as an expense, then by all means, go with one of the free or low cost firms. Interestingly, I don’t see any information on any of the low cost sites on ROI. A firm like EduCyber on the other hand will walk you through, from the design process on, understanding what your expectations are (and helping you set them if you haven’t considered it) as far as how your site fits into your business model and how it can help you grow.

We have in depth conversations with each of our website design clients about how we can help them grow – attract and retain more customers – via their website. And we design them accordingly. Would you like a 300% return on your investment in one year? We have done that for a client. Would you like to increase your subscriber rate two-fold or five-fold? We help you determine what makes sense and then build your site to do that.

So what is the total cost of ownership for your site? How much time and how much expertise do you or your staff have? When you want to move your site somewhere else, what will it cost? How do you integrate your CRM into your website using your free platform? What will you do when your designated web person on staff leaves? How can your business grow via your website? What actions do you want people to take on your website?

Answering these questions are important in adding up the total cost of ownership and while the free or low-cost alternatives look attractive from the start, make sure you are prepared for the costs on the backend.

I am often asked how what we do compares to these services. My short answer is “it doesn’t”. If you get the value you want from one of these services, I actively encourage you to go for it. But if you want to be freed up to focus on your business and doing what you do best, I encourage you to consider EduCyber for your web site design.

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8 Awesome Internet Marketing Steps Our Customers Do to Grow Their Business

Internet marketing – marketing your business through digital channels like your web site, social media and other Internet venues – is not as difficult as it sounds. Try these internet marketing steps.

  • Continually add testimonials and positive feedback from customers. They don’t have to brag about how good they are. They let their customers do the bragging for them and now it doesn’t sound like bragging. It is simply another satisfied customer.
  • Post updates to their blog on a regular basis (multiple times a month). This helps establish them as thought leaders by posting new information regularly. It also tells search engines and visitors that they are current.
  • Post to social media – whether it be FB or LinkedIn or other venues – regularly with links back to their web site. This attracts visitors from social media that wouldn’t otherwise make it to their web site.
  • Use good SEO tactics when posting new content or updating existing content. There are plugins and tools that help you do this and make it much easier to do well.
  • Create specials whether it be products or services and integrate them into the website. Using time sensitive specials helps create the urgency that gets them to take action
  • Keep their code up-to-date – actually we do this for them but it keeps their customer info secure and helps protect them from hackers.
  • Use email marketing to stay in touch with their customers. Effective newsletters help you stay in touch with your customers and drive them back to your website where you can re-engage them and get more business.
  • Create hooks that engage web visitors and helps convert them to customers. Some use forms, others actually have us create applications that pull them in and give them value.
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Free Web Site Design- Bargain or Big Mistake?

You get what you pay for. We’ve all heard that before. And somewhere deep inside, we know it is true. But all these ads promise a great web site design and the cost is . . . well there is no cost. Sounds like a great deal right? Why would anyone pay for a web site when you visit Wix and build a site for your business for free? What about Weebly? Same cost – and the hosting is such a bargain! Why not?

Or, if you’re really in tune, you might say “I hear great things about WordPress – I’ll build my own with a Divi them” because of course the cost is $0.

So why on earth would anyone consider paying a firm like EduCyber a not insubstantial amount of money to get a web site?

Let me count the ways:

  • Web Site Design

    Are you a designer? Having an experienced designer who understands layout,

    Web Site Design
    Do You Know to Build a Web Site?

    color, User Interface, and who stays atop of design trends and new technologies can get you a great design. If you’re missing any part of that, perhaps you should consider having a professional design team.

  • Technology

    Do you know what is just around the corner when it comes to web sites? Do you spend time researching what emerging technologies are doing to shape the way we interact with the Internet in general and web sites specifically? If you’re busy running your business to pay attention to what is happening in the web industry, perhaps you should consider working with a professional team.

  • Coding

    Are you a web programmer? Do you know how to build functionality that lets you connect your projects to categories to larger categories to the main choices on your home page? Do you know how to integrate various plugins into your site so that they work without causing errors? Can you create a process whereby your customers can login, get the information they need, pay you for your services and log out? Can you do all of this and customize it to meet your specific needs? In not, perhaps you should consider hiring a professional team.

  • Marketing

    Do you have a clear understanding of how your website fits into your overall marketing goals? Is your site “Conversion Optimized” so that users can easily take the next step? Are you sure you are collecting enough information from your visitors so you can respond to their needs? Are you sure you aren’t trying to collect so much information from your visitors that they’ll never come back? Do you have a clear understanding of what you are measuring on your site and why?

    We helped a for-profit customer get a 50% increase in online sales by rebuilding their site for them. We helped a non-profit customer get a nearly 400% return on their investment with us in the FIRST year of the app we developed for them. If you aren’t clear on your marketing goals or you are getting these kinds of results, perhaps you should consider hiring a professional team.

  • Analytics

    Once your site is up and running, do you know where to look to make sure your site is working well for you? What report or reports are most beneficial for you to examine? Should your metrics be based on number of visitors, number of calls, or number of people who fill out a form? How do you know if anyone is coming to your site at all? If you don’t, you probably ought to consider hiring a professional team to help you understand.

If you are looking for a professional team for web site design, we invite you to call us – 303-268-2245 to set a time to talk through your site.

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Making Connections

Your web site is a networking tool. For most organizations, whether you make stuff, sell stuff, offer services or perform some kind of service for the community (as in non-profits), your standing in the community and your connections to your community are what makes business work.

Often I talk with prospects who see their website as a completely separate entity that is somehow disconnected from their organization. This is wrong. Often it is sadly wrong.

Your website is an integral part of making connections with your community. Depending on what you do and who your market is, your web site might:

  • Reinforce your reputation: If you’ve been around for a while and you do good work, your website can reinforce that by describing jobs you’ve done (case studies), share testimonials from happy customers or even show work visually that you have done with video and pictures. These all reinforce your reputation so that as potential clients check out your website either before or after a meeting, they can get a feel for your experience
  • Generate leads: We see so many service based websites that simply describe their offerings. There is no call to action. There is no next step for the interested visitor to take. But it is often a straightforward process to add or integrate a call to action right in. We built a web site for a private school that generated, over four years, 240 concrete leads – potential students making inquiries. What would you do if you had an additional 240 customers over the last four years?
  • Communicate with customers: On the flip side, we have some customers who are so focused on using their site to generate new leads, they forget about existing leads and customers. But your web site can be a great way to communicate with people. Whether you post new information or events regularly or have logins for your customers, there are myriads of options to engage your existing customers and leads via your website.
  • 32139931 S 341X300 1Close the deal: A great way to do business. You can set it so that potential customers, as the last step in the sales process, fill out an evaluation or other form on your site and then close the deal. Closing can be as simple as filling out a form, as rewarding as collecting payment online, or as complex as creating a profile.
  • Selling stuff: Nearly identical to closing the deal, selling stuff is great. If you have a service or product that can be purchased online, handling it that way is great. Sometimes it might be as simple as putting something in your cart and checking out. Other times it might be clicking the pay invoice link in your email and going to your online payment form. Whatever works for you is great as long as you have planned your site to do this step.

So take some time today, if you haven’t already, to integrate your site into your network so it helps you grow.

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Stuck in a Rut?

Stuck in a rut? Seem like 2016 just started but you can’t get moving? Make 2016 the year your website starts working for you. It should be an investment, not an expense. If your website isn’t driving sales or generating leads or sealing the deal, what is it doing? Do you even know?

Here are three steps you can take to get your site moving for you:

  • Evaluate – first take the time to understand what your site is doing for you currently. How many visitors are you getting? How many of those visitors are turning into contacts or leads or sales? What pages are getting visited? Are most of your visitors starting on the home page or is Google or some other site directing them to a page deeper within you site?
    Answering these questions will both help you understand what is happening on your site and get the juices flowing for you to begin considering what you want to have happening.
  • Plan – We ask every new client what their goals are for their website. A goal is something clear and measureable. “Be more informative” is not a goal. Neither is “Be more visual”. Both of these can be incorporated into a new site but a goal is something like “generate two solid leads a week” or “get two prospects per quarter to fill out our online intake”. Notice the time frame is clearly noted and the actions are detailed enough that they can be measured.
  • Change – Whether you are doing a complete site redesign or just making incremental changes, make the changes! You have heard that nature abhors a vacuum. The Internet abhors staleness. A fresh look or fresh content or both tells the world you are paying attention. That you know your site is your 24/7 portal to the world. Don’t let it go!

Evaluate – Plan – Change! It really is that simple.

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Begin with the End

Some of the complaints we’ve heard over the years:

  1. I tried a Facebook campaign. It didn’t work.
  2. Our website doesn’t really generate any business for us, it is just a brochure.
  3. I don’t’ know whether our website brings any business or not.
  4. My clients don’t have time to read blogs so I’m not going to blog.

And every one of these complaints were voiced during a client interview (to see if we would work together).

The problem in each case is that these potential clients started with where they were at currently instead of where they wanted to be. So though you may think it goes without saying, it doesn’t.

You should start your internet marketing with the end in mind. In every case, yes every case, people want to grow their business. But what that means for marketing and how their website fits in to the bigger marketing campaign is never the same.

Think about how you get new customers. If you are a non-profit organization, how do you get more donors? More volunteers? If you a service based organization, how do you generate more leads? At what point in the sales process do you usually close the deal? If you are a product-based organization,  the question is easier – how do you sell more stuff? But it isn’t necessarily an easier answer. Instead of asking themselves “How can we sell more iPads and iPhones” Apple asked themselves, what else can we sell to people that are already buying our stuff? And they came up with the Apple Watch.  So you really need to ask yourself the hard questions – Are we selling everything to our customers that we can? Are there other needs that we can meet? Are there other markets that we can create? Many of us didn’t know until a month or so ago that we needed a fancy watch. Now we do.

Once you have the outcome determined, building a website that works is much easier. Suddenly your “just a brochure” site becomes a lead generating machine. Your “validation of who we are” site becomes a “scheduling follow up meetings” engine that keeps your sales schedule full. Your “we don’t know if our site generates business” site becomes a “we closed a record number of deals thanks to our site” tool that sets you above your competition. Your “unplanned social media campaign” suddenly begins to send people to your site to schedule meetings or buy stuff.

Did you end up with a website that doesn’t know where it is going? Contact us today!

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Top Five Reports to View in Google Analytics

Actually just about all the reports are useful and can give you great insight into how visitors are interacting with your website. The list below is intended for beginners to help direct your attention and get into the basics.

  1. Audience Overview (default view)
    View the number of sessions and users over the last month. See pageviews, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and percent of sessions that are new (not repeat).  While all the info helps, the numbers of users and pageviews are great information for beginners to begin to digest how their site is being used and even more importantly, WHETHER it is being used.
  2. Audience -> Mobile -> Overview
    See the break down on how many are using desktop, how many using mobile and how many using tablet. Since Google began requiring sites to be Mobile Responsive and then to define what it means, it has become even more important to understand how folks view your site. You should definitely check your site to see how it looks on the different devices. And seeing how much actual traffic you get on each can help you determine how many resources you need to focus on each view.
  3. Audience -> Users Flow
    Shows what country visitors come from, what page they visit first and what page(s) they visit after the first page. This is critical to understanding if your visitors are making the decisions you want them to. If you have created a sales funnel and no one is getting through the funnel, monitoring the flow will help you understand where people are getting hung up and then you can begin to examine why they are getting stuck.
  4. Acquistion -> Overview
    Shows how visitors got to your site. Referral: Links from other web sites to yours. Direct: People who typed your url in the location field on the browser. Organic Search: people who searched for something related to you and came to your site. Social: people who clicked a link in social media to get to your site. There are ways to create campaigns to track even more but these four groups are a great way to get the big picture about how people are getting to your site.
  5. Acquisition -> Search Console -> Queries
    This is where the really cool stuff is. Queries shows you what queries people made at Google, how many times your site actually showed up  (Impressions) on the page and how many times someone clicked on the Google results that showed your site. It also shows your average position for those key words and the Click Through Rate or CTR. The higher the CTR, the better you are doing.
  6. BONUS: Acquisition -> Search Console -> Landing Pages
    This shows you what pages people see when they first get to your site. Search engines do NOT just link to your home page. This helps you understand what pages Google (and the folks who use Google) likes most about your site. For example, we do a lot of work with non-profit organizations. Over the last month, this page http://www.educyber.com/who-we-work-with/non-profits/ showed up 200 times in search results and got 5 clicks which means that we had a CTR of 2.50% which makes us pretty happy.

NOTES:

You can change the date range at any time but changing the information in the top right corner. You can also do comparisons of ranges, comparing one month to the previous month, for example. The default range when you login and bring up the reports is for the last month.

Bounce Rate refers to the percentage of visitors who enter your site but then leave without visiting more pages. Most folks view a high bounce rate as a bad thing but you have to make sure you are interpreting what is actually happening. For example, if your contact page has a high bounce rate, it is likely because I have visited the page and either called you or emailed you. So I don’t need to be on your site anymore. But it would be for a good reason.

SEO Landing Pages – requires Google Webmaster Tools be enabled. If you don’t have Webmaster tools setup, you ought to. It too is free and it only takes a few minutes to link them up. Then you have even more data at your disposal.

If you don’t have GA enabled or if you have it enabled but aren’t looking at it, why not? This is the kind of marketing data you should have at your disposal. Need help with it? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.

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Becoming a Customer (Part 2)

Can your web site design (not the content) help you get more customers?

In our first article on <becoming a customer>, we discussed the content aspect – having a clear call to action on your site. In this article, we are going to investigate whether the visual design elements of a site can help your visitors become customers.

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You should always have a clear call to action

I remember the very first user testing we did years ago. We identified a person who would be a great potential customer for our new client and had him go through their existing website, sharing his stream of consciousness as he navigated the site through the tasks we gave him. The web site’s “clear call to action” was a flashing red button in the right column. Our tester mentioned it only briefly – “I’m not looking at the ads in the right column”.

Ouch.

That customer learned a good lesson that day. People were ignoring their call to action. Think about how ads work today on many websites, especially news sites. They used to have banner ads and right column (and left column) ads. Now most of them use inline ads. You read a paragraph. You are interested. You want to read more. As you scroll down the page, you see the inline ad and then your content. You have just interacted with the ad – an ad you may have skipped had it not been right in line with the content.

This is actually one of the exciting parts of what we do in this business. Design matters! Sometimes (often times) it is a subtle change that makes all the difference. Change a button from blue to green and suddenly people start filling out your form. Move the secure transaction logo next to the complete transaction button and suddenly people start buying your products. Move your call to action from a side column to inline with your content and the phone starts ringing.

Suddenly becoming a customer is easier for people on your website. And if you’d like help making your design work FOR you, you should work with us.

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Becoming a Customer (Part 1)

Have you ever thought about how you interact with web sites?

When we speak with potential clients, they rarely have stopped to think about how they want visitors to interact with their site. But what does it mean to become a customer? That, ultimately is what every business owner wants from their website.

Social media websites have it easy – some would say too easy. To become a customer all you have to do is create a free account and start sharing. A cousin of mine just joined Facebook last week. Within minutes of joining, he was able to be posting and sharing. Facebook had just acquired another customer that they can then sell ads to – and make money.

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If you aren’t clear on your goals, neither is your customer

But what about a service company? How do you want visitors to interact with you? Too often I look at a web site and it has a pleasant enough look and it displays information. And when I talk to the business owner and ask “What is your goal for your web site?” the answer is “I want to educate (or inform) the visitor.”

But isn’t it really more than that? Very rarely, unless we’re talking to a school, is the goal to educate. Almost always, even for the schools, the goal of the site is to acquire more customers. For social media sites, that can be as simple as having a new person with an account. For ecommerce sites, the goal is pretty obvious, successfully complete the checkout process after putting “stuff” in your shopping cart.

But there are many other very good goals. If you have a long sales cycle, you might be getting a huge win every time someone signs up for your newsletter. If you are a consultant, your goal may be for someone to fill out a form before downloading a white paper or other document. If you are in the trades like a plumber or electrician, having someone schedule an appointment online could mean you just got another customer. For many businesses, simply getting the phone to ring is a win. If that’s the case, make sure you have a clear call to action focused on why calling you is a great idea.

EduCyber can help you get a clear call to action – why not work with us?

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