Google’s Suite of Tools – Is There a Cost?

We recently attended an event where Google flew in a trainer to present on Google My Business, Optimizing your website for Google and Pay Per Click campaigns. It was a very good presentation from a polished speaker but the mantra we heard again and again is “This is all free.”

Free is an interesting concept. After 90 minutes of this training, many people were just ready to get started. Getting your business verified will take anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours. Building out your profile and putting the right information in takes careful planning if you want to really grow your business.

Optimizing your website for search engines is free, we learned. But of course, if you do all of this “for free” you will probably wonder if you did it right. You might not know how to track the results. Ah, but we also learned that Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool. EduCyber sets up GA for our hosting clients if they don’t already have it. And we walk them through, on a regular basis the maze of finding the data that means something to them and then helping them interpret what that data means.

The point is, there are many things you can do, and indeed do them

for free, as long as your time is free. But if your time is valuable, if you make more money servicing your clients by producing the goods or services they want, then maybe it isn’t really free.

If you need help with your “Google My Business” profile, with optimizing your site, for measuring the success of optimization, or with a paid search campaign, we can help. This is what we do day in and day out to help our customers get the most of their website while being able to focus on what they do best. Give us a call at 303-268-2245 ext 4 to get help today.

SHARE THIS:

Little Data

In the Internet world, Big Data is a big buzz word. With the right tools huge volumes of data can be digested, analyzed, and summarized with amazing speed. Technology like this is what is driving technical inroads in an array of industries from understanding the human genome to making digital currency like Bitcoin to understanding shopping patterns of given demographic segments.

But what about Little Data? Your little website. It may not be as big as Facebook or have as many visitors as Amazon or Walmart but there is still an incredible amount of data that is available from your slice of the Internet. So how can you turn little data into a big benefit?

  • Email tracking
    Every mass emailer (aWeber, iContact, MailChimp, Robly , etc) has a variety of tools that can help you track the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Some of the key metrics you should look for include Total Opens, Unique Opens, Unique Clicks, Click to Open Rate, and Device type (responsive)
  • Social Media tracking
    You can track just about everything with social media. Some of the key things that will be of value to you though include: how many visitors to your website you got from social media, how many friends, followers or fans you have on your profile or your company profile, how many shares or views your posts or articles got and so much more
  • Site analytics (Google Analytics or some other analytics package)
    What started off as a way to track the number of visitors has now become a very sophisticated way to track any number of activities both on your website and prior to arriving – and even after leaving for that matter. You can learn what your visitors do, what devices they use, how fast your site is, create funnels and track actions
  • Call Tracking
    There are a variety of services that you can set up that will help you to track where your calls are coming from – from a specific landing page for a specific campaign, from a social media campaign or even from a print campaign
  • Campaign tracking (with specific landing pages or domains)
    You can create custom urls or even custom domains to run and track specific campaigns. Running an end of the year campaign to boost sales? You could have a special url (sometimes called a purl for personalized url) like http:// <your-domain>/christmas and track all the clicks to that link.

So even with Little Data (the data that you have available to you on your little slice of the internet) you can harness the power of Big Data and get a much clearer picture of what is actually happening. You can then design a specific plan to get that traffic to take the action(s) that you want them to – whether it be make a purchase, fill out a form, make a phone call, sign up for a seminar or some other factor that is part of your conversion process.

Need help figuring out how to do this for your site? Call us at 303-268-2245 ext 4.

 

SHARE THIS:

Managed Web Hosting

EduCyber offers something called managed web hosting but we have a unique way of handling it. Whereas other firms offering this service automate, automate, automate; we take the time to look at your site. We log in and make sure that your plugins are up-to-date.

We update plugins and core files to make sure your site is secure and has the latest features available. That alone is a huge comfort for our clients. We recently acquired a new hosting client who has a WordPress site and was scared to update the plugins in case something broke. We did the updates for him and verified that everything was working. We even discovered several plugins that weren’t being used. By uninstalling them we sped up the site and made it more efficient.

We provide several layers of security. Our web servers have a firewall that stops most of those with nefarious intent. For our WordPress customers we use a special plugin that stops hackers who try to get to the backend by guessing passwords for common user names like “admin”. With these and other tools not one of our sites has been hacked in years. We continue to follow and implement best practices when it comes to security to keep our customers sites up and secure.

We implement analytics. The tool of choice for several years has been Google Analytics. We make sure each site has analytics installed and functions. Then we even go through site performance every six months to help you understand what is happening on your site so you can make informed decisions about changes or proposed changes to your site.

We actively look for ways to help your site perform better. Since page speed is one of the things search engines look for, we make sure you are aware of what needs to be done to improve the speed or we will even go in and do it for you.

Since our tag line is “We partner with our customers to engage their visitors and convert them into clients” we work to make that partnering bit real. We want you to succeed. We do more than want though. We take concrete steps for you to help your site and your business be better with our managed web hosting service.

If you are already an EduCyber managed web hosting customer, who should you tell about us? If you are not yet a customer, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 ext 4 and we’ll get the process started.

SHARE THIS:

Do You Need a Web Site, a Marketing Plan, or Both?

What you put into the process determines what the outcome should be.

It is not unusual for a company to come to us asking for a website when in fact what they really need is a marketing plan that includes revamping or completely redoing their website. If you are not sure if you need a marketing plan first or a website first, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What message do we want our customers to hear?
If you are unclear on this, you need to look at your overall marketing first – consider your goals, how you typically acquire your customers and why they choose to do business with you.

  1. How do we communicate our brand visually?
    We often hear customers say things like “We aren’t Nike, we don’t have a brand” or “Because we aren’t a large company, our brand isn’t important”. That is a fallacy. If you have a distinctive look and stay with that look consistently, across all your marketing channels – web, print, business cards, signs – it will help potential customers make the connection and feel confident in doing business with you. This obviously is connected to your overall marketing.
  2. How does our website fit into our overall marketing?
    We ask this question at every intake meeting. Having clarity about what you expect your website to do for your business is incredibly focusing. It transforms “Our website is just a brochure” thinking into “Our website is the hook that helps us reel in new customers” thinking. Or, to use another fishing metaphor, it might be “Our website is the fishfinder that helps us know where to drop our lines” thinking. In any case understanding how your site fits into your marketing, helps set the right goals and expectations.
  3. What are your goals for your website?
    Often, when we ask folks what their goals are, they start with “I want it to look better” or “I want it to be user-friendly”. These are great elements to include in a site but honestly they are not goals. A goal for your website might be “I want to get one solid lead each month” or “I need 10 new newsletter subscribers” or even “I need four additional online donations”. These are measurable goals that can drive design but they also make the most sense if you have a clear marketing plan.

If these questions resonated with you and made you think “We need a marketing plan.” or “We need a better marketing plan.” we can help. We have marketing partners we can bring in to your project that will bring clarity and focus to your marketing and to your website so it can help you grow.  Give us a call today at 303-268-2245 to get started.

SHARE THIS:

Inbound Leads

Inbound Leads or Inbound Marketing.

Those two terms are buzz words. Everybody wants a good inbound lead – much better than an outbound lead.

But what is it? How does it work? Why do you need it?
In a nutshell, inbound marketing is attracting people to your organization rather than you going out to meet them.

How does it work?
The most well-known strategies are digital marketing campaigns like blogging, search engine optimization and pay per click. Over the last several years, social media marketing has also grown very prominent as a way of driving people to you or your website.

The concept of an inbound lead is very attractive. You don’t “do anything” and the lead comes to you. But the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to generate an inbound lead. A LOT. First you have to have a web site that is tailored to handle inbound leads and that requires careful planning and thoughtful design.

Next you need to have a plan about how you are going to generate those leads. I STILL hear from organizations that say “We tried social media but it didn’t work.” When I ask what their plan was, I’m met with silence. If you don’t have a plan it isn’t going to go well.

Your plan for generating those leads will likely include two or more of the following:
Content Generation: You need to create ORIGINAL CONTENT. Copied from your industry email or a partner’s website isn’t going to help much. You need to have original content that is exclusive to your website / social media.

  • Search Engine Optimization: While content is king in SEO, there are other things you can do to both optimize your site for search and provide good reasons for other good sites to link to your content which helps with SEO.
  • Pay Per Click Search Campaign: The two main targets are Google and Bing but with the right strategy, you might be able to target a lesser search engine that your target market is known to use. A good PPC campaign, together with good SEO can place your site front and center for the right keywords, allowing you to dominate the landing page.
  • Social Media Campaign: You need a clear plan for who you are targeting and why. With this clarity you can determine which media to use. Facebook is the largest forum but might be the right forum, especially if you are in the B2B world where using LinkedIn might be better. But the list of social media sites you can use is large and ever changing: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and Snap Chat are some of the most well-known but the list is much longer.
  • Video Campaign: While technically video is content and belongs with content generation, it is unique enough we break it out. Video blogging can be very effective in the right context. Or as anyone who has every watched Super Bowl commercials can attest to, humorous or quirky videos can attract a lot of eyeballs which can translate to lots of visits and then to new clients.

If you or your organization are ready to build your inbound leads and aren’t sure how to proceed, give Brian a call at 303-268-2245 ext 4.

SHARE THIS:

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:

  • Design

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

    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.

SHARE THIS:

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.
  • Close 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.

SHARE THIS:

Hamburger on the Internet

For years folks have heard of cookies on the world wide web and wondered why they needed to get rid of them sometimes because, well who doesn’t like a tasty cookie?

Now there is a new food that is all in vogue. It is hamburger. You’ve probably seen the hamburger icon, especially when you surf on your tablet or phone. What is the hamburger? It’s the little icon for the menus:

You can see the bun on the top and bottom and the hamburger in the middle. And it just means that there is a menu waiting for you to see when you touch or click on the hamburger.

It is a convenient way to take a long horizontal menu and compress it for easier navigation on the mobile web.

SHARE THIS:

Site Security Takes Main Stage

Since at least 2014 Google has been encouraging websites to go secure by using https (installing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate). Just recently they have indicated that it is becoming increasingly important in their search ranking algorithm.

What does that mean? It means you should change your site to SSL. It is not a difficult process. First you install the certificate and then you tell your pages to all use SSL only.  Need help? We can handle it for our hosting clients quite easily and even if you’re not our client, we can probably help you out.

A few years ago Google made all of its search secure. Check it out for yourself. When you go to google.com, you’ll find yourself at https://www.google.com. There will always be that https. The general assumption was, because it was encrypting the data, it would affect the speed, even if it was just a little.  But it didn’t. So if there is no change in performance in going from non-secure to secure, why not make the whole Internet secure? That seems to be Google’s plan and it isn’t a bad one.  Once Google realized it didn’t really affect the speed for their site, they began increasing the expectation of security in their search algorithm. And it has reached the point where sites focusing on search rankings really need to make their site secure.

SHARE THIS:

What is Your Focus?

“Brian, I just learned that a competitor is getting 60% of their business through their website. How come my site isn’t?” This question and many with a very similar tack gets asked a lot in my business. That along with customers new or existing asking about all the spam emails promising great results in the search engines or a huge number of leads coming in.

How does a company get a website that generates qualified leads consistently?

The simple one-word answer is focus.

This site http://arngren.net/ is a great example of a site without focus.


There are so many choices, so many things to look at, to click on, to decide on, that most people simply click the only button they know for sure will help them – the back button. This site is trying to sell you everything from the front page. Everything.

Now take a look at http://www.converse.com.

They too have a lot of different products from shoes to clothing and within shoes a wide range from Men’s to Women’s and Children. And yet their site is focused on what they do best, what they sell most: shoes. If you’re looking for an athletic shoe, you can quickly figure out whether this site can help you or not. You see three very different styles beneath the picture.

Giving folks THREE choices is just right. More than that and they have to think too much. If they pause to think, they’ll likely remember that they were really interested in Nike shoes, not Converse. Or that Zappos has all kinds of shoes and all kinds of deals. But by showing three clear choices, Converse draws us deeper into the site. This pulls us deeper into the sales funnel and makes it more likely we’ll click the checkout button and pay.

One click further in you can give a few more choices if needed but the key still is focus. We recently started working with a new customer that handles residential and commercial flooring. The owner clearly recognizes that most of his web business will be residential. So there will be a small link on his home page to commercial flooring but the main choices will be residential choices. Notice, he is NOT saying “We don’t do commercial flooring” and he is not hiding it. But the FOCUS on the home page will be the residential choices because that is where the web leads will come from.

The biggest pushback we get from business owners is that by focusing on a niche, they exclude their broader market. I say that is nonsense.  In fact, the more focused you are on a niche, the better you present your company and the MORE folks outside of your target want to use your services.  Disagree? Let me know!

 

SHARE THIS: