Websites for Manufacturing: The 5 Requirements for a Powerful Manufacturing Website

Manufacturing websites are a niche that make them different from other kinds of websites. They need to display their products in such a way that searchers can find and visit the page of the specific product they want. They need to be searchable. But they also need to show the quality of the product, of the people making the product and even the process and standards that go into creating the product.

Here are the five requirements for a manufacturing website that actually connects with customers and potential customers:

  1. It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product.
    All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
  2. The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need.
    Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
      1. It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product.
      2. All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
      3. The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need.
      4. Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
      5. Finally you need to have clear and effective calls to action. One of the biggest downfalls for manufacturing websites is displaying information without moving folks to the next step. By having a good next step on each page of your site, you will not only engage your web visitors but convert them into customers.

      Does your site do all five of these? If not, give EduCyber a call. We can tweak your existing site or design a whole new site to help you grow.

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10 Next Steps for Your Website

Every web site, and every page should have a next step. Why does your business have a website? What is the purpose? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself as you look at the pages on your site.

Sure it should look nice. Yes, it would be great to be optimized for search. But if you aren’t giving your visitors a next step, what do you think their next step will be? That’s right, they’re going to leave.

Many of the next steps are obvious. But some may not be. I click to a page called “Our Team” and see the profiles of key people in the organization. What is the next step I want visitors to take? Time to think  about what steps you want people to do.

  1. Call us. Well that was easy. But make it into a button. And put the code into the button so that when I visit the site on my phone and touch the button, it pulls up my dialer and all I have to do is push “call” to be talking to you.
  2. Email us. This is pretty simple too. Make a button with your email address. When someone clicks it, it should open a new email message to you in their email program.
  3. Request a call. If you have people requesting a call, make sure you set the expectation. Will you call right away? Next day? Don’t go longer than that. Within a few hours or next business day is ok. But in any case, set the expectation and then hold yourself to it.
  4. Download <our whitepaper>. But we don’t advocate for calling it a whitepaper. A lawn service or landscaping company might have “Download 10 tips to protect your yard during a bomb cyclone”
  5. View our services <or products>. Since every page should have a call to action, a simple next step like this is great on an About Us page or page that shows the staff.
  6. See what our customers have to say (video or written testimonials). This next step is good to help close the deal if the visitor is on your services or product page. They think it might be a good fit but they’d like to hear from people you’ve actually worked with.
  7. Learn how we have solved problems similar to yours (case studies). Story telling is a compelling sales method and a good next step from a variety of pages on your site. Move people to the page where you show you’ve actually helped real people solve real problems.
  8. Sign up for our newsletter. While email newsletters are kind of a pain – lots of folks sign up and then don’t read them – they are still a powerful sales and marketing tool. And once someone does sign up, even if they aren’t ready to buy, you now have a self-selected lead. That is as good as gold.
  9. View Details about our team. This is a particularly good next step if you are a service organization. Show your services and then the next step is to see who will be carrying out the service.
  10. Learn more about our process. Whether you are selling products and need to outline the process of completing and shipping the order, or selling services and want to help visitors feel more comfortable with the timeline and the next steps, having a next step be “View our Process” or something similar is very effective.

Take a look at your site. You probably have some good content on there already but if you go back and add some solid next steps, your site will be ready to help your business grow.

And while most of these are obvious, if you have an ecommerce site, here are 10 calls to action you should check your site against:

  1. Add to Cart
  2. Checkout
  3. Compare products
  4. View specials
  5. Call for pricing
  6. Filter products
  7. See related products
  8. Read reviews
  9. Buy now
  10. Redeem coupon
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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.

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Building Your Brand Digitally

We work with a lot of smaller companies who tell us straight up that they are too small or below the radar to have a brand.

We say hogwash!

Every single organization – for profit or non-profit – has a brand. Included in the brand are tangible and intangible things like:

  • Reputation
  • Logo
  • Standing of the leaders of the organization
  • Iconic images
  • Presence on the internet (web site)
  • Presence on social media
  • A song or ditty that represents your organization
  • What your customers think of you
  • A particular phrase or tag line that people associate with you

You can control a lot of these aspects of your brand digitally and those that you can’t control, you can still influence.

If you hear of a company or meet someone interesting at an event and immediately do an internet search for them or their website, you can understand the power of your digital brand. Sure it is easy for the big brands. I actually rewrote the first sentence of this paragraph, changing “google” to “do an internet search for”.  We get the big brands, from Nike’s swoosh to McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” to the theme song for “Game of Thrones”. But for “little brands” like you and I, what are we to do?

First thing is to do a search for your name. Don’t add a “.com” or “.org” on the end. Just your name. And look at the results. Check beyond Google. At least add Bing into the mix. Do you like what you see? Here are some things to look for:

  • Does your company or organization dominate all the listings? It should.
  • Have you claimed your location on each site you search on?
  • Are the images the location associates with you appropriate to your brand?
  • Are there reviews of your business? If so, are they favorable?
  • Do any of your competitors appear in the results?

If you don’t like any of the answers to these questions, we can help. Want to do it yourself? Here are key things to do:

  1. Claim your location in search engines like Google and Bing (and any others that pertain to you)
  2. Upload photos and other images that are related to you in your location profile
  3. Encourage happy customers to provide favorable reviews on sites like Google and Yelp
  4. Make sure you have a social media presence. If for no other reason, do it so that your search listings will have more links to your brand.
  5. Make sure your website is optimized for search engine indexing so that all of your pages will appear in search results.
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Four Reasons Why You Won’t Want to Work with EduCyber

Yes, we’re telling you why you would choose NOT to work with us. Here we go:

  1. You want a website that looks just like your brochure

    If you see no difference between print collateral and
    your digital presence, then you probably don’t want to work with us. Your brochure is a great tool to hand out and leave behind after a meeting. Your web site though should be engaging and should always have a next step in order to deepen the relationship. If that isn’t what you are looking for, then you won’t want to work with EduCyber.

  2. You are not interested in measuring or considering ROI

    If you see your website as an expense and not an investment, you won’t want to work with EduCyber. Understanding how your web site fits into your marketing and sales is an integral part of our web design process. You can and should have an expectation of a return on that investment and we help our customers set and measure the return on investment. But if you just have a budget line that needs to be spent, you won’t want to work with EduCyber

  3. You want to hire a firm to do what you want, instead of wanting to partner with a firm that has strategic expertise in web design

    If your goal is having a firm that will place your pictures and your words right where you want them, regardless of how it translates in digital marketing, then we aren’t the firm you want to work with. With two decades of experience in helping customers craft messages and researching what does and does not work in user experience and design, EduCyber brings a wealth of information and insight to each project we undertake.

  4. You haven’t gotten new customers from your site so far so you don’t believe you can even with a redesign

    If your current site hasn’t generated a single new customer for you so you firmly believe that a web site can’t convert visitors into customers either, then you won’t want to work with EduCyber. When we hear that – and believe me, we hear it a lot – I like to add “so far” to the end of each sentence. “We’ve never gotten a customer from our site so far.” “Customers in our industry don’t come through the website so far.” “With our business model, we don’t get customers through our website so far”. And on and on.

Those who do choose to work with EduCyber become believers when their phone rings or the email, comes in and suddenly a connection from their website becomes a customer.

If the reasons above don’t apply to you, you might want to Work With Us.

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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.

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Running the Wrong Race

This last week I had an email conversation that went something like this:

Potential Customer: I’m interested in what you do – how much does it cost?
Me: Well, we build websites to meet our customers’ needs and business goals. What are yours?
PC: I already have a web site, how could you help me grow and become more visible?

And that was when I knew this guy was running the wrong race.  If you have a VW and you think you’re going to race it in NASCAR. . .  well you only win that race in Disney movies.  We still had a good conversation and he is considering his options but that conversation surfaces the biggest issue we see in the digital marketing arena today.

If you have built your website to display your wares like the ancient markets where, on market day people would walk by and some would stop and buy from you and you want a powerful, inbound campaign that brings people to you, you need to start with your web presence in general and your website specifically.

How do you gain a new customer now? What is the decision point when you know “I just got a new customer!” If that isn’t built into your website, how will it help you grow? Take some time to ponder this. It really is the crux of the matter and key to winning the race.

Understanding the key decision point(s) your customers face and then putting that into your site shows your customers you understand their pain. Why does every mortgage lender have a mortgage calculator on their site? That is the issue or pain their customers face – “How much will I be paying?” While that is important, everyone (all mortgage lenders) do that. So what is the decision point that comes up when your customers choose you? That is the issue to build into your website.

Once you have your site optimized to help you attract and capture new leads or more business, then you’re ready to run the race – whether it be Search Engine Optimization, Paid Advertising, Social Media Marketing, email marketing or some combination thereof.

Whatever you decide, if you think we might be able to help you, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 and ask for Brian.

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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?

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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Responsive Web Design: An Evolving Trend

Actually Responsive Web Design is not a trend of any kind – evolving or otherwise. It is a standard practice for web sites today.

The challenge the designers face is making their site look good on every device imaginable, from a 42 inch monitor to an iPad to a mobile phone like a Samsung 7 or the latest iPhone. That is a tall order.

There are several key things designers use, chief of which is the ViewPort meta tag to define what how the page should respond to different devices. But this article is not about the arcane things developers and designers do.

What do you – a business owner or manager need to know?

  • You shouldn’t have to ask for responsive design. It has been a few years since some of the basic rules were laid down. But still verify that a new or existing site is or will be responsive. And take Ronald Reagan’s advice – Trust but Verify. Use family and friend’s (or coworker’s) devices to view your site to make sure it looks right.
  • Responsive doesn’t just happen, it can be planned. For example, a restaurant web site may display its succulent fare on the front page and even have the menu right on the front page. But the mobile display should make location and phone number prominent. If you’re out and about and looking for a restaurant, you either want to know where it is or call to make reservations.
  • What happens to the menu? Believe it or not it is called a hamburger menu – it looks sort of like a bun on top of a burger on top of a bun. While it is fairly ubiquitous, tests show that instead of those three little lines, putting the word MENU in the same place in the same size gets far more clicks. I know what a navigation menu is. I might not know, or notice, those three little lines. Try it with your site and see what happens. The key is to be user-friendly.
  • Many sites (and business owners) are taking a mobile-first attitude. This turns on its head the idea of building a full desktop viewable site and then determining how it should look on mobile. First you design the site so it will rock the mobile look and then scale it up from there to determine how it will look on tablets and desktops.
  • A basic tenet of web design that has become even more important with the growth of responsive web design is to have a clean design that focuses the user on key actions. Remove all distractions from what the goal of your site is. If I have to stop to think about whether to click a link going to a vendor’s site or click the buy now button, you’ve probably lost a sale. So remove links or information that distract your visitors from moving deeper into the site or from doing business with you.

If you need assistance with your site – or know of someone who needs assistance – would you take the time to introduce us? We will make you look good by helping someone in need.

 

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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?

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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