Know your value

Though our office is on Main Street in Ferndale, we get relatively little walk in traffic. Most people who are looking to develop a website do some research and make an appointment rather than  just popping in. We certainly don’t mind the walk-ins, they just don’t happen that often. This week was a little on the odd side in that we had 3 people walk in to discuss a website and/or marketing strategy. Three different people, with three different business ideas and three wildly different reactions when we told them our pricing strategy.

The first one was a super cool lady with a really interesting story. Rhonda Hendricks has over 52,000 followers on Facebook and is known for her motivational and funny daily memes. She has lived a really inspirational life; from a cancer diagnosis and divorce to a brand new awakening with a vibrant and healthy future. I suggest you check out on her new website… www.rhondahendricks.com  Rhonda has big ideas and understood that though she may start small, she needed something that could grow and change with her evolving business. When I told her about our website packages, she quickly identified the one that would work best for her and she wrote a deposit check on the spot. Sometimes, you just click with someone and you know the relationship is going to be mutually beneficial. We are still working on the site, but she got us content very quickly which allowed us to launch the site immediately. Rhonda had no problem paying a professional to work on her site. She understood that we would work quickly and with her goals of growth in mind. Hiring a professional meant that Rhonda could be in business sooner than later.

The second woman who came in was testing the waters a little. Her brother had promised to build her business a website, but so far, he hadn’t produced anything. She was getting tired of waiting but also didn’t want to hurt her brothers feelings by hiring a professional. She was interested in a hybrid solution where we develop the site and let her brother do the maintenance on it. Again, I showed her our standard packages and included a little more training than I normally would so her brother could become pretty self-sufficient in the maintenance of the site.  Though I could tell it was a little more than she was hoping to spend, I think it was clear to her the value we brought to the table. We don’t just sell websites, we really look at the business as a whole and sell a marketing solution. She took the information I provided, is going to review it and then will follow up with me next week. She currently has no web presence and understands the value of being able to share information and market to prospects even if she can’t get to her phone. The website can work for her 24 hours per day and that was very appealing to this one-woman business.

The third lady wanted to start a blog about healthcare. She wanted logo creation, business card layout and printing and the blog created (with domain registration and hosting) with training for her to update it. We hadn’t spent more than 90 seconds talking about her business idea when she starting pushing for price. I could tell that she was very price sensitive and really didn’t want to spend the time with me to discuss how she would monetize or market her new company. I gave her the same information about our website packages and hourly rates that I gave the first two women… she gave me this face…

and then walked out the door.

In my younger days, I would have been more upset that I had just lost a potential sale. I hate losing a sale. But it was obvious to me that we were just a commodity to her. My shiny awards and years of experience in marketing and growing companies meant nothing to her. Even if I could have convinced her to work with us, I would have been entering into a contract with a client who did not value our knowledge or experience. This would have made the whole relationship harder as I know now, that I LOVE working with clients who trust us as professionals and value what we bring to the table.

Instead of being bummed that a sale just walked out the door, I was grateful that this woman knew herself and her budget well enough to just turn and go before we spent anymore time going down a rabbit hole that would eventually lead no where.

The point of this post? Know your value. We created our website packages based on years and years of experience building these kinds of sites. We know about how much time each site will take to build and we charge accordingly. This helps us set the expectation for the clients up front so they know what they are going to get for their investment.

Know your value and you will never feel taken advantage of by a client. Know your value and you will never feel like you are giving more than you are receiving. Know your value, charge what you deserve, and the clients you bring in will treat you accordingly.

 

What’s your social strategy?

Recent research from Forrester finds that posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter reach just 2% of their followers. Of the 2% that see the post or tweet, a mere 0.07 percent of followers will actually interact with those posts.  The low reach and engagement has gotten even worse since Facebook drastically cut the organic reach of a post in an effort to encourage boosted (paid) posts. With so few people seeing and engaging with posts, it is hard to truly have a social relationship with your customers.

While having and updating a Facebook page and twitter account is still an important component in an overall marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the center of your marketing strategy. So what should you be doing to help build a social relationship with your customers? Try the tips below:

  • Email marketing – The average open rate for an email campaign is between 17 and 30 percent based on your industry and relationship with the customer. If you have to decide between gathering an email address and gaining a fan on Facebook or Twitter, get an email address. The chances of them viewing and engaging with an email is much higher than the view and engagement stats on any social media platform. In fact, if you like this helpful blog post, you should sign up to get our weekly tips. We send out all kinds of helpful bits to make your marketing life easier.
  • Blogging – Blogging allows you to create a branded community full of information, anecdotes, case studies and will help showcase your corporate personality/culture. Not only will an active, relevant blog drive traffic to your website, but it will also create a space for your evangelical fans to share with others what they like about your company. Encourage interaction with each post by posing questions and encouraging users to make comments. Read more of our blogging tips here.
  • Bring your Social Updates to your Site – Just because your latest Facebook post wasn’t seen on Facebook, doesn’t mean it can’t be seen on your website, blog or email updates. Add a “weekly”  update section to your website where you round up all your social posts into one page. This could showcase your latest Instagram image, your tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and blog posts all on one page. If the users won’t see the posts in their original form, they can at least review them on your site.

These tips are all fairly low technical ways of increasing your social interactions with current and potential customers, however, if you need help with any of the above, let us know. We’d be happy to help create a social strategy that maximizes your brand awareness.

Think thank you

In an increasingly informal digital world, continuing to pull out pen and paper to write a thank you note is a way to distinguish yourself. The handwritten thank-you note speaks volumes simply as a medium and sends the message that you care enough to invest yourself personally in acknowledging another. The hand written thank you card is also one of the oldest and smartest forms of marketing out there. Here are 4 reasons why:

  • Break through the digital clutter.  A thank you card is a pleasant physical interruption to our increasingly digital lives.
  • Show you care. The recipient appreciates that you spent the time to write it. They know you had other things to do, so this shows that they were at the top of your priority list.
  • Strengthens the relationship. Marketing is “getting people to know, like and trust you.” Thank you cards help make this happen in a big way.
  • Does not require a computer. Many people have lost the art of hand written communication. A hand written note forces you not to rely on auto-correct or spell check; it forces you to think and feel.

As the late American author and poet, Maya Angelou so eloquently put it: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

A hand written thank you card definitely puts a check in the warm and fuzzy column; so send Thank You cards and send them often. You never know what kind of an impact it could have on the recipient’s day.  As an added bonus, studies show that those who express gratitude also benefit by experiencing better health and sleep, less anxiety, and more life satisfaction. Taking the time to write out your gratitude to another will benefit giver and receiver alike.

Also, if you are in the market for some great thank you cards, check out these ones from Best Day Ever. We LOVE them! Or consider having your local print shop print some custom thank you cards up with your own logo for extra brand awareness!

Small things you can do to make your website awesome

There is no doubt that a website can be a fantastic tool for educating clients and ultimately increasing sales. Taking the time to put in a few special touches can take your website to a whole new level. Add your corporate personality to the following parts of your website to stir up conversation with your potential clients.

  1. Custom 404 error page – A 404 error page is what the users see whenever they try to reach a page that no longer exists on your website. The 404 error page is something you never want a user to see, but let’s face it, sometimes a user will find their way to a broken link or page on a website. When they do, rather than showing the browser default page (see example below), put some time in to creating a custom error page. Adding a sitemap or a search function to your 404 page is a great way to help users actually find what they were looking for on your site. Check out the examples below to see what not to do and how others are doing it right!

    System default 404 error page:

    Creative 404 Error Page Examples:

  2. Custom unsubscribe page – When a user un-subscribes from your email newsletter, they are typically taken to a page on their website that confirms their action. This is another opportunity for you to remind them why they signed up in the first place.  The opt out process should be simple, short and easy, however, why not also fill this page with products that your customer has looked at in the past, products that they may be interested in, an incentive to stay or a funny re-subscribe message? Charity: water took their unsubscribe page to a new level by offering this:

    Groupon is another company who is offering an interactive unsubscribe page.  Adding levity and the option to stay on the list (or change their frequency preferences) is a great way to make the uncomfortable act of unsubscribing a little more tolerable.
  3. Custom thank you page – When a user fills out a form or places an order on your website, they are taken to what is called the “thank you” or “confirmation page.”  This page typically gives a short thank you message and maybe some contact information. Implementing a creative thank you page is another way to show your customers a little extra love. Amazon does a fantastic job with their thank you/confirmation pages by continually attempting to up-sell you with other products you might like. Even if you don’t sell a product online, taking the time to add some bonus items to your thank you page can actually encourage users to stay on your site after the purchase or form has been completed.  The examples below show two thank you pages that not only thank you for taking action, but they then also encourage you to do more.

Making these small customizations to your website can yield big results in sales, subscriptions and increased social media attention.

Talk to us! What have you done to your website to make it extra special? Let us know in the comments below.

How to set an out of office reply in smartermail

If you host email with us, you have access to a webmail interface that allows you to manipulate the settings for your individual email account. You can do things like check your junk mail folder, whitelist an email address to increase delivery rates and set an out of office reply (called an auto-responder). Watch this short video to learn how to set up your out of office reply using smartermail.

Perform a website audit

Many website owners take the Ron Popeil approach with “set it and forget it” and while that may work for roasting chickens, it is a terrible web strategy. If it has been awhile since you reviewed your own website, now is an ideal time to do it. Here are 8 things to look for when you are doing a website audit.

  • Check out your title tags. The title of your website is a critical factor when it comes to the major search engines understanding what your website is all about. A good title should be less than 55 characters and should contain a keyword (or two) that you want your website to be found for in a search.  The title tag appears in the tab of your browser and in the search engine results page. Check out the titles on your website pages.  If they are all the same and non-descriptive it is time to update them with more relevant and search friendly titles (see how to update titles in WordPress or the ProFusion UIS)
  • Update content. Things can change rapidly in business. What was true about your company and its offerings when you launched your website may not be relevant today. Be on the lookout for:
    • Making sure all of your products and services are represented on your site.
    • Employee profiles are current.
    • News stories and press releases are up-to-date
  • Add video content. Processing over 3 billion searches per month, YouTube is now the 2nd largest search engine. Video content is becoming more and more important for your business. Share your process, products, promotions and people with short video clips that can be uploaded to YouTube and embedded on your site. Check out our tips on how to DIY a great video!
  • Contact Information. Your contact information (address, phone and email) should be located and easy to find on every page of your site.
  • Refresh graphics. Do a quick once over on your site. Do your graphics look crisp and clear? Do they load quickly and are sized properly for use on the web? If not, it is time to edit the graphics and re-upload them.
  • Social media accounts. Can people easily find links to your Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts? Adding a clickable logo to your page makes this easy for all users to find and use.
  • Cross links. Linking from one page of your website to another is an easy way for users to find and access information on your site. If in your opening paragraph on your homepage, you talk about one of your products, be sure to link the product name on the homepage to the product page. Creating these links can also be good for Search Engine Optimization. Add these links from one page to another where it makes sense and seems logical for the user.
  • Optimized for mobile. This is no longer an option or a nice to have feature. Having a mobile optimized site is an absolute must for businesses. With over 50% of searches being done on mobile devices, if your site isn’t optimized for those users you are very likely losing out on a lot of potential business. Check out what your website looks like on a mobile device. If it is not optimized for a smaller viewport, give us a call to see what it would take to mobile optimize your site.

These are just a few critical items that you can review your website for to make sure your site is an asset to your company.

If you’d like us to run a comprehensive website analysis on your site, let us know! An annual website review can be a great way to start your marketing and sales planning for the new year. Request your website evaluation today!

Security Alert: Phishing with fake DocuSign

Please think before you click. This afternoon, I received a message from a person I know well, but the message was out of character. Since she is a partner in a well-known and respected architectural firm in Seattle, I responded to her message indicating to her that I thought she had sent this to me by mistake.

I got back, almost instantly a message indicating it was a document she wanted me to review.

The response message was also a bit suspicious because once again, there was no personalization. So I called her. She was out for the afternoon, but the receptionist asked me if I got an email from her and then let me know that her email had been hacked and their IT guy was working on it.

The entire message thread is shown below:

docusignhack

Many business people recognize DocuSign as a respected way to legally sign documents and is a 100% legitimate and security conscious company. The combination of the well-respected firm, a known relationship, and DocuSign, nearly caused me to click the link.

I checked the header of the messages sent, and these messages were not spoofed but sent from her actual Office365 email account. The fact that her IT department was working on it, while the perpetrator was still responding to messages was my biggest concern. Cyber security is a job for all of us.

If you have not already done so, please review the steps you should take WHEN you find out your email has been hacked. And share this with all of your employees and customers. In this case, the first and most important step was not taken.

What to do when your email gets hacked

Notice, we did not say if, but when. The number and sophistication of attacks is increasing all the time. For most companies, you fall into one of three cwahtdoidoamps. Been hacked, will be hacked or have been hacked but do not know it. We felt it would be a good time to remind folks of first steps when a hack has been discovered.

First, disconnect your network or infected systems from the Internet. Your priority is to stop further harm.

Second, clean the infected devices and restore from the last known clean backup. Restoring from a time before the hacker attacked is the fastest way to undo what has been done.

Third, determine how the hack was perpetrated and what information may have been compromised or what files were infected. Examining log files can be tedious work, but will provide logins and activity that can show you how the attack was initiated.

Fourth, make sure you notify affected users. This can be an uncomfortable step, but must be done to protect users and help prevent the problem from spreading.

Fifth, take corrective action. Hackers gain access most frequently by exploiting known vulnerabilities and secondly by careless users. Remind all users of security policies, and the need for strong, unique passwords that are not shared between users. Ensure that your system software is kept current and all patches and updates are applied. Separate functions like accounting and payroll to different servers or systems not connected to the Internet so that access to one does not provide access to all.

Email Phishing Scam

Being a website and email host means you need to constantly be on the look out for new threats and security holes. Some spam/scam emails are obvious and get deleted immediately, however, scammers are getting smarter and are using short messages to get the user to do something as simple as opening an attachment. Doing so, however, could have dire consequences for your computer, network and company.

A few months ago, we published a post showing some ways you can quickly dissect an email message to determine whether or not it is legit. But a new type of phishing email has come out and it preys on your desire to provide good customer service. Watch the video Bob put together about this new scam to learn more (see below).

What does Phishing mean? Phishing is an e-mail fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients.

If you get a suspicious looking email, feel free to forward it to us for review. If it’s obviously spam, just delete it without opening any attachments or clicking on any links. Arming yourself with email common sense is the first line of defense against spammers.

Blogging Best Practices

Last week we gave you 11 tips to help you re-energize your blog. Now that you know what to write about, use the following best practices to make the most of your blogging.

  • Post in great detail. Aim for 1500 – 2000 words per post.
  • Source from your staff. Your blog can have multiple voices and tones to it. If you have a staff member that has something to talk about, give them the platform to do so.
  • Try to use the words “you” and “I” in your posts as you would in everyday conversation.
  • Make it easy to read. Bold items of importance, use bulleted/numbered lists and line breaks where necessary.
  • Remember, what goes online stays online. Of course you can always delete a post, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a copy of it lurking around somewhere.
  • Be consistent.  Blogs that are posted to daily receive more traffic and conversions than blogs that are posted to monthly. Set a schedule and be consistent in your posts.
  • Share, share, share! Now that you have a consistent blog, it’s time to get people to your site! Social media is a great way to start getting people to your site. Share your posts on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn just to name a few. Ask friends to share your new blog as well. Then participate and comment on other forums and blogs that are relevant to yours. Be sure to include your blog URL in your signature on any posts you make to other sites and forums.

We’d love to hear about your blogging success. What has worked well for you and what hasn’t? Let us know in the comments.

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