A Look Back, A Look Ahead

What did you measure this year? All of us measure the bottom line but what else? Did you measure the number of new customers / clients? What about number of leads and number of those leads that converted into clients? Number of sales online? Number of new newsletter signups? Number of fans or followers on social media?

How did your numbers measure up? Some interesting things we noticed in our numbers: With the year not yet finished, we’ve already had 16% more visitors to our site this year over last. An online store we manage has had a 5 fold increase in sales and a lot more traffic.

For our site our traffic from search engines is actually down a bit over last year but that is because we’ve been focusing on our customer’s campaigns more than our own so we’re not too upset over that one.

Whatever you measure, make sure it adds to your marketing goals. If our goal was to get a lot of traffic from the search engines, you can be sure we would have paid a lot more attention and performed a whole lot better.

For the year ahead (don’t give up on this one yet though – there are still almost three weeks left) take time to set out your Internet Marketing goals. Start with your web site itself. If it conversion optimized? That is, is your site ready to convert visitors into customers? If you want to measure newsletter signups, for example, is the site geared towards getting visitors to do that? Are there barriers that you may have inadvertently put in place (such as asking for a physical address when all you need is an email address)?

Typically you want to have a conversion and a micro-conversion. If they aren’t ready to buy from you or ask you for a quote, perhaps they’ll sign up for your newsletter so they can stay in touch. Asking for a quote would be the conversion and the newsletter signup, the micro-conversion.

Once your site is ready, you can look at other marketing venues. Do you need Pay Per Click? Would a local search campaign make sense for you? How does social media marketing fit into the picture? Should you be tweeting? Do you need to claim your business on Foursquare? Will using QR codes help you reach your goals?

If you’re not thinking about these questions, I would suggest that you ought to be. If you’re not but feel like you should, give EduCyber a call at 303 268-2245. We can help you plan for a fantastic year.

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Can’t do Business the Same Old Way

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During a meeting with a potential client this week I made a casual inquiry, asking which payment processor they currently used for the ecommerce web site.

“Oh, we do it manually” they said. It turns out they use an antiquated system that sends them the customer’s credit card information via email. They then take that information and run it through their Point of Sale software to charge the account.

Oops. That is a dangerous if not illegal procedure.

Emails, by their very nature, travel from computer to computer across the internet. There are ample opportunities for one of these relaying computers to cache a copy of the email, with the customer credit card information. This then creates an opportunity for the information to not be secure. If this data is encrypted, it is reasonably secure. If not, it is a ticking time bomb. I don’t want to be there when the ticking stops.

Once the email has arrived, a host of other security issues arise:

  • Is the network secure?
  • Is the computer secure?
  • What happens with the email after the transaction has been processed?
  • Was it printed out?
  • If it was printed out, what is done with the print out after the transaction has processed?

In Colorado it is, to my understanding, illegal to store a hard copy of the complete credit card number of a customer.

If you are a merchant and aren’t sure if your system is compliant, a good place to get started is https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/merchants/.

Another valuable source is EduCyber Endorsed SGP Services. Give Sean a call at 303-697-7799.
 

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Factors Affecting Your Web Site Success

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I went for lunch today at Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli in the Highlands area of northwest Denver. While I don’t go there frequently, I do like their food and atmosphere. But they are in trouble and they might not even be aware of it.

While eating lunch I noticed a young man photographing the street signs on the corner. “Odd behavior” thought I. After a delicious lunch and great conversation, on the way back to my car I saw another man taking a picture with his phone. It looked like he was shooting the street. Not far from him was a man on his phone and I overheard a snippet of conversation that went something like “well I want a police officer out here to look at this.”

Maybe I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it wasn’t until I was half way back to the office that I realized someone had stuck a flyer on my rearview mirror. Only as I pulled it out did I realize that my “flyer” was actually a parking ticket. Then of course I realized why everyone else was acting odd. They too had gotten tickets.

In a tough economy it is not unusual for police departments to become more stingy in their enforcement. Today was apparently street sweeping day and if you stopped to read the small print perhaps you’ll see that on the signs (though with the way folks were behaving, maybe not).

But what happens to the stores in the Highlands area, particularly popular restaurants like Heidi’s? I can certainly tell you that I am less inclined to patronize Heidi’s again.
This is the law of unintended consequences. Something that is pretty much out of control of Heidi’s Deli is harming their business. The people who are paid to protect those businesses and neighbors are actually driving away customers.

What could Heidi’s Deli do about this? They do have some options. They could have their staff ask / warn customers about police eager to ticket. They could put signs in the doors, with warnings. They could work with the city and the police department to figure out a better way to handle parking issues. They could even put yellow tape along the part of the street that runs by their property with a warning. All of these could help their situation and make them into heroes for their customers. On this day, in this situation, they did nothing which hurts their business even more.

So what does this have to do with a blog on Internet Marketing (other than being a venue for me to vent about the DPD)? Everything. Look at your web site. What might be happening on or around your site that is driving people away just as surely as the Denver Police Department is making it clear I shouldn’t do business in the Highlands?

These factors could be things that seem out of your control but they might not actually be. Is your domain name easily misspelled? If so, people might be going to the wrong site. Unless of course you think to purchase common misspellings of your domain and capture that traffic back to your real site. Is your site hosted on a slow server? If people have to wait they simply won’t. They’ll move on to a site that is faster. But you could move your site to a faster server and keep those visitors.

Just like Heidi’s needs to be aware of factors outside of their store that could affect their business, you should be aware of and work to mitigate factors that could affect your web site.

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3 Reasons to Invest in your Web Presence in a Down Economy

What’s happening in your financial world? If you’re like most folks, you’re not sure whether we’re headed up or down or what is around the next corner.

In uncertain times it can be difficult to see a way forward and spending money is the last thing many business owners want to do. Yet here I am telling you to invest in your web site. What gives?

Here are THREE reasons you want to invest in your site now:

  1. Get better efficiency. There are several ways to accomplish this: Put more information on your web site so you spend less time answering the same questions over and over again; Qualify your customers better through your site so that those you contact are ready to do business; Reduce or eliminate your store front and sell more from the web site. These are just a few of the ways you can be more efficient with an investment in your site.
  2. While your competitors are giving up and going away, you can establish a firm or firmer foundation now on your web site without having to build a new building or sign an expensive new lease. Your site should look professional (good design), be functional (easy for customers to do what you want them to do) and be search-friendly (search engine optimization)
  3. Get more customers. Beat the rest of the crowd that is still stuck on search engine optimization – which means driving more traffic to your web site – and get started on conversion optimization – which means getting the folks who visit your web site to buy, register, signup, or whatever your call to action is. If you have any degree of traffic you should look at what those visitors are doing and if they aren’t contacting you to do business, optimize the process to make it smoother for them to do business with you.
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Measuring the Success of your Company’s Social Media Marketing

I know a business owner who has complete command of his business numbers. He measures and analyzes the statistics of every aspect of his online marketing. He’s on top of making critical adjustments to his marketing plan on the basis of these numbers.

When it comes to investing in social media marketing, for him, there’s a pesky problem. Measuring the return on investment, or ROI, of such a plan isn’t pretty. The numbers don’t stand alone.

Why? First, it’s critical to understand that a business’ social media marketing is tied directly to the success of the website in one critical area — conversion. The goal of a successful social media plan in business is  to drive traffic to the company website. So, logically, if the website is optimized to convert traffic to sales, then the company can measure THAT success in business volume — or response to the call to action on the site.

Even the best social media marketing plan might be dynamically effective at driving traffic to the website, a measurable statistic, but it is a stand-alone number. Then, the number to focus on is how well the website is doing at converting traffic to sales.

Savvy business owners get this. Still, the compelling factor for investing in any marketing is always the ROI.

Here’s where the argument for using social media for marketing seems to come apart and why it can be so difficult to convince owners to invest in it. It isn’t a stand-alone measurement. And, like the owner I mentioned before, businesses  are usually making decisions about marketing dollars based on the numbers.

There are lots of numbers that help a business owner feel good about their marketing investment. And, there are plenty of companies that will throw numbers together in a convincing way that promise a return on social media marketing.

But, let’s be honest. It’s only a tool to drive traffic to the website. Social media sites are a place for people to connect with a business online through interactive dialogue. They have a chance to informally “like” you. Then, they “like” you enough to use another tool in your marketing arsenal — the website. Once folks are on the website, then you’re talking about numbers that really count in business.

Social media marketing in business isn’t talking about when you’ve brushed your teeth or what color your shoes are today. If it’s done correctly, it’s a way for businesses to generate a buzz about their passion — whether it’s culinary or construction or counseling.

It’s a tool. It works and plays well with others in the overall online marketing plan. And all together, they build a business’ online success. Collectively, the numbers matter.

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Are You Paying Attention?

Everybody is so busy. We have to – or at least we feel like we have to – multi-task throughout the day. But does it really work? This morning I realized that my fruit shake wasn’t going to keep me going until lunch time so while I was out and about I swung through McDonald’s drive thru.

First I heard a voice that was so soft I couldn’t hear what was said. I asked her to repeat what she said. She was ready for my order! So I ordered the breakfast meal I wanted and asked for coffee for the drink. A few seconds later she asked for my order. A bit confused I ordered again. She repeated my order and asked if that was all. I said yes. Then she asked what I wanted to drink with my meal. At that point I realized that she was not paying attention to me at all. She was so busy taking money from the customers in line ahead of me that she had no idea where I was in the ordering process. I pulled out of line and moved on.

Arriving at Starbucks I had to get out of my car but the staff inside were friendly and polite and they only paid attention to one customer at a time. I was struck by the difference as I ordered only once and got what I ordered.

So how does that apply to a web site? Too often web sites try to be all things to all people. In fact, it is not infrequent that a client or potential client will tell me, with a straight face, that their target market is everybody or at least every business.

If everybody is your target then you’re like the lady at McDonalds that is so busy taking money from customers that she couldn’t really pay attention to me as I ordered. She couldn’t figure out where to focus.

Take a look at your web site today. Think about it not as a business owner but as a potential customer. Are you paying attention? Is it clear what the next step is? Or in an effort to be all things to all people are you paying attention to no one?
 

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