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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Google is Still Following Our Lead

EduCyber incorporated in the summer of 1998 and Google in the fall of the same year. They’ve been following us ever since . . . ok well that may be somewhat of an over statement but when they changed their logo last year, they simply followed what we have known and been telling our customers for years. Sans serif fonts are much easier to read on the web so avoid serif fonts where possible. Their logo changes from a font with serifs to a sans serif font. Two things that happened when they did that change: 1) the image size was decreased – making it load faster and 2) it is easier to read on mobile devices.

G Screenshot 1The moral of the story remains the same thing we’ve been saying all along: use sans serif fonts on your site. Even if your logo is a serif font, you should do the soul searching that Google went through to see if you need to make the change.

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Becoming a Customer (Part 3)

There should always be a next step! And if that step is up to you, you had better carry through! A well-known Hollywood director said “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” Successful businesses often take that one step further – showing up is 90% of success. Our first two articles on Becoming a Customer examined how a well thought out call to action is important and how good design should focus attention on that call to action. In this article we’re going to look at the next step.

20959949 S 1
You should ALWAYS have a next step

We all have heard or experienced the customer service story from hell – whether it be some kind of bait and switch story, a firm just completely dropping the ball, or endless promises of satisfaction that never materialize. But what about the delightful stories of promises not only kept but surpassed?

Probably the most important aspect of “becoming a customer” is to always, every time, without fail, provide a next step. That is the showing up part. And much of it can be automated or semi-automated. When a customer schedules an appointment online you can have an automated email thanking them and confirming the time. Or you can have a staff person actually confirm the scheduled appointment time works and then click to send the automated reply.

If you have people sign up for your newsletter. You kind of need to send out a newsletter. Otherwise you’ve just alienated folks. The idea situation is that, on confirmation of a subscription, the customer is sent the last newsletter automatically. But the other part of this is setting the proper expectation. How frequently will you be sending your newsletter? Adding that into the subscription process and sticking to it will make your subscribers happier.

We worked with a private school to build their website. After much discussion we set the call to action to be “Schedule a Tour” but we didn’t stop there. If you visit that school’s website and schedule a tour, you have just taken the first step in the enrollment process. And the follow up email lets you know that if you have already decided to enroll, you can click the link to continue the process. You always need to have a next step.

And if your site doesn’t have a next step, you should contact EduCyber today to remedy this situation! Call Brian at 303 268-2245 ext. 4.

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Transition Points

This morning our little part of the world was recovering from a brief snowstorm. As I left the building for a client meeting and again as I returned to my office, there were people (different folks each time) standing at the door talking. I noticed it because the atrium was getting cold as they stood there, door ajar, discussing whatever it was they were discussing.

Businesspeople Shaking Hands In Doorway 42 17077066 1
Transition to a new website!

But it got me thinking about transition points. When you leave a room or a building, it is a transition point. And something catches your attention which is why folks often stop to talk right then. Visiting a web site is a transition point. For most of us, we’ve been engaged in a different activity but now we are suddenly looking at a web site – perhaps it is your web site.

This is the opportunity for us, as web site owners, to have a conversation with the visitor. To engage them and help them understand what is in store for them as they move deeper into the site. In my experience above, the change in temperature was something that caught the attention of folks and made them stop to talk.  What is your site doing or what should it be doing at this key Transition Point?

One mistake that many website owners make at this point is to show lots of pretty pictures without asking the visitor to step deeper into the site. These are the “sliders” or rotating images that make up the top part of so many web sites. Site owners love them because it is such a great way to showcase all the great features of their product or service. The only problem is visitors are usually not looking for features, they’re looking for benefits.

Transitions present opportunities. To take full advantage of the opportunities presented, we, as website owners, need to carefully consider what our visitors want. No matter what your business is, a great way to understand what your web site visitors are looking for is to ask your existing customers. What benefit do you get from our service / our product / working with us? Use what you learn to redo your front page and possibly to redo your site structure.

The conversation need to continue to change (your front page needs to change over time) in order to keep engaging people as they come through your door (enter your site). We have a customer whose site brought in 45% more revenue the first year we redid it. But as we have continued to make changes, it has averaged more than 20% increase in revenue each year. The key to success is to grab the visitor at the transition point and engage them. Then just keep moving them along until you’ve successfully won their business.

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Your Web Site: A Unique Marketing Message

One of the questions I ask potential customers is what sets them apart in their niche. Almost inevitably the reply is “Our service”. The obvious problem there is that if everyone’s service is what makes them unique, then it isn’t unique.

It is important to have a UNIQUE marketing message that resonates well with others.

And resonating in the right manner is key. Last week I attended a networking event in downtown Denver. One of the hotels had a free giveaway of Whoopee Cushions. Now their web site stresses they are a uniquely fun boutique hotel and they do guarantee a “completely humorous and modern hotel experience” but does a whoopee cushion convey that? Or are you as likely to turn off potential customers as get them excited? I have a difficult time viewing this as a positive experience but I guess I don’t find fake flatulence as funny as some.

Another example of how NOT to have a unique marketing message goes back nearly 10 years ago to the ad campaign that nearly doomed Quiznos. Remember it? Some referred to it as the dancing rats.  Relive the horror at

 

if you don’t recall. Associating your restaurant chain with something that looks like a rat turns out not to be a good idea. Whodda thunk it?

So how do you determine what makes you unique? It takes more than a few minutes or a short blog article to get it but here are a few tips to help you get started:

1.       Ask your customers why they work with you / buy from you.

2.       Look at the entire spectrum of your clientele – is there a certain theme or niche running through all (or most) of them?

3.       If you are a service based business, write down EVERY service you have ever offered and then review the list looking for a common thread. Perhaps you are a CPA that offers services tailored to non-profit organziations? Or to home-service companies such as plumbers, electricians and drywallers?

4.       If you sell a product, review your list of SKUs and ask yourself what they have in common. Are they all outdoor products? What group are they most likely to appeal to? Stay at home moms? Fly fishermen? Couples in their 30s who don’t have children?

5.       Set out all the printed marketing materials you use and look at them all. Compare them to your web site and any other marketing you do. What emotions bubble to the top?

Take some time and really think through this. Once you have a good idea, let it cook for a few days to make sure it is done. We took a long time coming up with Partner * Engage * Convert and finally just listened to ourselves as we communicated with customers. Guess which three words we kept hearing and in what order?

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Formed for Success

A pixel? A color? Or More?

For going too far we have the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.  In a similar vein, bridges often have a sign announcing their load limit which conjures up interesting mental images about what testing they performed to determine those limits.

But in a positive vein could it be that your web site is one pixel away from a break through? What if the color of your button was the barrier between you and a lot more customers? It sounds too easy to be real. But what if?

Look at these two forms:

First Name:

Email:

Garish Buttons Don't Help Conversions

First Name:

Email:

Button With Good Conversion Color

Which do you like better? Why?

Sometimes choosing the right color of button is the difference between no one ever signing up and getting lots of new subscribers. Users often report skipping over the bright red stuff as it simply is too bright or doesn’t fit with the color scheme. The important take away is that it should fit within your color scheme. A good example of this in action can be seen at www.gslcs.org where the Schedule your tour button clearly grabs your attention but the color fits within the scheme.

Now look at these two forms:

First Name:

Email:

Button With Good Conversion Color

First Name:

Email:

Button With Good Conversion Text

Which one do you like better? Why?

If you don’t think about it – and many folks don’t – submit either is very bland or some kind of kinky command, but neither really tells folks what is next. Sign up for Free on the other hand tells folks exactly what is going to happen if they click on the button. It is very important to help folks understand what happens when you click the button. One newsletter  provider users the same button “Proceed to Send” for the first two steps in preparing to send an email. The first time through this is a scary undertaking because the only way I can get to the next step is to click a button that suggests I’ll actually be sending the message instead of going to the next step. Then when I’m actually ready to send it, my choices are clear – Deliver Immediately or Schedule Delivery. If it were up to me, I would rename the first button “Choose Who to Send it To” and the second could be as simple as “Next” or “Proceed to Last Step” so I know I won’t be  actually sending the message yet.

And finally, look at these two forms:

First Name:

Email:

Button With Good Conversion Text

First Name:

Email:

Button Optimized For Conversion

Which of these are you most likely to fill out? Why?

Having a friendly button can make a big difference in whether folks will click the button so they can “click” with you. Using beveled edges and drop shadow, especially fitting it within the look of your web site, can make all the difference in the world.  If you’re experiencing problems getting folks to do what you want them to do on your site, give us a call (303 268-2245) to discuss it. You could be just a button away from success.

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Is Your Site Performing?

Have you looked at the stats for your web site lately? If you haven’t you should. There are two sets of statistics I recommend looking at. One is the stats from your web logs – we like to use AWSTATS as they provide a nice overview of stats but also allows you to drill down to specifics very quickly.

The other set of stats is Google Analytics. By using both GA and AWSTATS, you can get two different looks but also keep in mind that they should be fairly similar. Why two instead of one? Mainly to “keep them honest” in making sure they are indeed close to the same. But also because sometimes one look will give you an insight that you may not notice with the other look.

Some of the stats to look at include:

Webstats 1Unique Visitors – how many unique visitors do you have coming to your site on a monthly basis? The goal is always to keep that number climbing and is the goal of Seach Engine Optimization campaigns.

Pages Viewed – which pages on your site were viewed. If your goal is to get people to complete checkouts, for example, you’ll be happy if the checkout page is getting viewed a lot and if it isn’t that can give you some insight on which pages you need to check on.

Browsers – this stat is increasingly important as the variety of mobile browsers continues to explode. If you see lots of Android or ios views, you’ll want to pay extra attention to how your site looks and performs on mobile platforms

Traffic Sources – this stat helps you see how people get to your site. If you’re running an SEO campaign, you’ll expect to see lots of organic search traffic. If you’re running a paid search campaign like Google AdWords, you’ll be looking to see lots of Google paid visits. And the list goes on through Facebook, and a variety of social media sites as well as direct visits – folks who already know you and your brand.

Search Keywords or Key phrases – this stat shows what your search traffic was actually searching for when they arrived at your site. It is not a bad thing to see lots of search hits for your business name – that means you have built your brand. But it is much better to see more generic key words about your industry or products. That means that people who don’t know you specifically are finding your site as they search for your what you offer.

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Stay Secure with a Strong Password

Not too long ago hackers stole 32 million user passwords and exposed them on a web site. An enterprising security company, Imperva, did some analysis of all these passwords. Guess what they learned?

Your password probably isn’t strong enough. If you thought you were being clever by changing your super easy to guess password from “123456” (like 290,000 users had) to something more difficult like “123456789” you are in the same boat as the nearly 78,000 users who use that as their password. Oh, and “Password” was used by 62K users.

Some other not-so-clever passwords to avoid include:

  • 12345
  • iloveyou
  • princess
  • rockyou
  • 1234567
  • abc123
  • Nicole
  • Daniel
  • babygirl
  • monkey
  • Qwerty
  • 654321

What can you do to make your password more secure but not require a Ph.D. to remember? It needed be as difficult as you think:

  1. Make sure your password is 7 or more characters in length
  2. Change an easy to remember word by turning letters into numbers, e.g., password -> pa55word
  3. Use an upper case letter in a different spot, e.g., pa55wOrd
  4. Change a letter to a special character, e.g., p@55wOrd
  5. Use one or more spaces, e.g., This is my p@55wOrd
  6. Use really long sentences that are easy to remember and type, e.g., This will always be my p@55wOrd
  7. Change your password regularly. Did you know that February 1 is National Change Your Password Day? Or if that doesn’t work for you, change it twice a year when the time changes.

For most users, following 3 or more of the tips above will keep you safe on the Internet. But any system can be hacked. Once you develop a good password, don’t tape it to your monitor or beneath your keyboard.

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