BizSite Blog

The Most Important Question to Answer Before You Build Your Website

Carlfred Giles - Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Building a website can be fun. You’re putting your company out there for people all over the world to see. You get to tell others about your passion. You get share your service with the rest of the world. You get to SELL and make $$$!

Everyone needs a website. Years ago when telephones came about they were quickly adopted by businesses as the first means of customer contact. Today, would you open a business without a telephone? Of course not!  And so it now goes with websites. Websites legitimize your business and are the first thing people go to when trying to find your service (and for those of you still using a phone book, check out Google Places…)

 

So what’s the first thing you should do before creating your site?

Ask yourself why you need it.

Occasionally the simple answer is “just because everybody else has one”. If that’s your answer, then you need a brochure site. A brochure site is an information website that provides basic data about your business. Usually it has pictures, hours of operation, services provided, and contact info. Brochure websites can be REALLY cool – surely you’ve browsed through ours…

However, most companies if they really think about it, can use their website for more. MUCH more. And THIS is the most important question of all:How can I get the most use out of my website?”

 

Some obvious ways to maximize your site:


  • Calendar of events

  • Collect potential customer contact data

  • Take customer sign ups/waiting lists


But let’s go a step further and think about your business specifically: are you a church? Warehouse? Insurance agent? Hydraulic company? A cleaning service? What are the things that take the most administrative time and how can they be automated so that the public can help themselves? Do you get phone calls all the time asking what’s on your menu? Post it online. Does your secretary spend most of her time rescheduling appointments? Let clients do it themselves from your site. Is your cash flow slow at the first of each month because customers forget to pay? Make it easy for them by accepting payments online. Think of what would make your world perfect and easy, and start with that!

 

Other ideas for good use of your website:

  • Message boards

  • Payment collections

  • Customer/Product reviews

  • Appointment scheduling

  • Account login

  • Sell products/services

Instead of trying to model your website after your competitor, think about how you can make a website do a little extra work for you. And if you get us to design the site, you won’t have to worry about it looking as good as your competitor…it will look better…

5 Must-Read Marketing Books

Carlfred Giles - Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do you need a good read that will help you expand your career and business efforts? The New Year is the perfect time to pick up something new! If you’re a business owner or marketer who would like to pack something with a bit more substance into your suitcase or beach bag, consider these five must-read marketing books...

1. The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

Instead of simply describing how to graft social media onto an existing marketing strategy, authors Baer and Naslund focus on changing organizations to respond more quickly to new developments. They argue that taking too much time to make informed business decisions about real-time crises can lead to extinction and provide seven shifts that can help a business move faster and smarter while becoming more social. The book’s format is highly interactive (especially its Kindle version) and provides real-life examples and advice.

2. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon

Described as a business book for people who don’t read business books, Different offers a unique combination of wit, insight, and compelling storytelling. Dr. Moon, a popular professor at Harvard Business School, looks at how some familiar brands like Apple, Ikea, and Harley Davidson have used product differentiation and unconventional marketing to break away from the competitive herd and transform their products into something new in the eyes of consumers.

3. Social Media and Public Relations: 8 New Practices for the PR Professional by Deirdre Breakenridge

If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to gaining the social media skills needed by PR professionals, this is a good place to start. Breakenridge, a PR veteran and author who has worked with Fortune 500 companies, describes eight social media skills and mindsets that are needed for various PR jobs. Useful tips and strategies that target both PR novices and pros are presented in a straightforward, textbook-like style.

4. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Every professional can benefit from a professional network. Trust Agents describes how businesses and individuals can use social media tools to enhance their online reputation, foster trust, and build a positive brand image. Brogan and Smith are social media experts who espouse the idea that being helpful, establishing relationships and building trust online is the best way to leverage social media. Case studies that show the power of trust are included and actionable steps for using social media to earn trust are described in detail.

5. Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan

Youthful marketers are probably not familiar with the impact of the Grateful Dead on the music industry. Originating in San Francisco in the psychedelic ’60s, the Dead held the record as the top-grossing concert band for many years despite their lack of chart-topping hits. Scott and Halligan describe how these music pioneers used bootleg albums, direct mail, and the establishment of a Deadhead culture to build a dedicated community of fans. The authors then tie the Dead’s marketing strategy to today’s social media tools and describe how businesses can learn from the band’s success.

This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator Harrison Kratz on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2tor — an education technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to deliver a one of the top MBA programs online.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

 

iPhone 5 in 12 hours

Chris Brown - Friday, October 26, 2012

Welcome to the Apple-headed side of BizSiteSolutions, here is our place to discuss things in and around the Cupertino universe, let us begin.

After a long waiting period of just over a month, I have finally received the new iPhone 5, as most commonly know it is incredibly lighter then the iPhone 4 that I have been lugging around for the last 2 1/2 years. Apple has touted many new features that have stacked more consumers towards this new device to the point that many economist believe apples new product could boost the economy in its own way. Throughout the year rumors have turned into fact and with new products new reviews and discussions start churning the internet for all the hungry eyes to feast and read, this review is no different and simply giving you a small insight into what some of you will go through in the first 12 hours of receiving your new "toy" (as my grandmother so easily put it).

THE BEGINING: 1-4 hours

Here is the part when you open the package like its Christmas and begin the setup of getting your old account switched into the phone, I was happy to discover that there is no need to go to any store for switching over your sim card. After several steps of activation setup, your old sim card will simply shut itself off as the new card takes over, be sure to back-up the phone to restore your data onto the new phone (from this point you can simply throw the old card away, leave it with the old phone incase whoever you sell it to does not have a one). If your selling your previous model like I have then erasing your old data from the previous phone is simple, go to settings>general>reset>reset all settings. Start playing with new phone!

1. Speed- fast is how will you will describe this to everyone. with the new more powerful processor this thing can load desktop pages faster then some laptops in safari (on wifi), iMessages flow even faster speeding up everything your doing. The only thing that felt slow was myself in trying to keep up with all the bells and whistles.

2. Screen- most everyone will discuss the new size but its such a subtle change that instead of saying "wow" you'll just say "oh that's nice", my favorite thing is how bright the screen has become. At only half the screen brightness compared to the same setting in the iPhone 4 it makes me question and check a few times if its really still at half or somehow jumped to full. In the morning once you wake up it can be a little to strong and make you blink a lot until your eyes can handle such power.

3. Lighting- the connector which was ported over from the iPod has finally been changed and creates a small desire to wish for the broad base of the 30 pin connector to comeback, but no matter what it things change so get used to it, sigh. It will offer no new speed in charging only difference is its size and simplicity with the ability to plug in without looking for where the front is.

4. Siri- she has received her 1st major update since public release as a beta, and she's finally getting stuff done. Sending text, launching apps, and answering what the meaning of life is, this not so young lady still gives a few issues in understanding a bass voice like mine but works great for most everything I ask her to do.

THE MIDDLE: 4-8 hours

by now you have gone through a lot of test and trials to see what all the hype is about in each crevice of the phone, but you also realize that a protective case is needed. Not a problem just give a nearby iPhone 5 reseller a call such as Radioshack, AT&T, Verizon etc. and pick something to your taste, after spending an extra 20-30 minutes letting everyone in the store play with the new device its time to head back home and get comfortable with your new phone.

1. Signing back in- now you have to remember all those passwords that you have created for the previous apps like mail, facebook, dropbox and so on. if you have saved content in iCloud then this may help some but I like to keep passwords in my head so regretfully I turned this option off awhile ago.

2. Ringtones & Music- for some odd reason I had to resort to manually reloading music back on and found out that my favorite text tone had disappeared so it was obviously time for a new one. For someone who has more then 12 gigs of music and counting this was not a quick process, think I stopped after 5 gigs of my most recent albums.

3. Selling the old phone- once the iPhone 5 was feeling comfortable and familiar I was ready to sell, called my friend made the exchange and gave him a short list of the features he was getting with his brand new used iPhone 4. once the feeling of nostalgia was over he had gone and it was just iPhone and me left to talk.

THE END: 8-12 hours

Its time to get ready for the next day so its time to put the phone down and sleep, but who can sleep with this new extension by your side, so let's take a few more minutes to go over what we may have missed.

1. Maps- the best way to describe this app is work in major progress, now that Google has been removed Apple has taken over and with a lot of kinks they have provided a new pill to swallow when going with Cupertino. while the new system isn't the worst in the world its a far cry from what was previously so accessible for the last 5 years. Apple is slowly fixing areas here and there and getting pins closer to the actual place but ask the public to help identify where they went wrong, eventually this will be on par with Google maps but until then just keep sending reports in.

2. Battery- still not fully tested simply because I have become to nervous to let it go down below 30% now that lighting has rendered my previous 3rd party cables useless. Once I have a few new cords and car charger then I will feel safer to let it drop into the red zone.

this all-in-one powerhouse has given this geek new places to explore and things to tinker with over the next couple days, so stay tuned for new updates in some of these mentioned categories and also some new ones as we travel this road together.

smartphone traffic to Ecommerce sites up 103 percent since 2011

Chris Brown - Tuesday, September 04, 2012

How important is mobile optimization to your ecommerce website? If going mobile isn't already one of your priorities this year, you might want to clear some space in your strategy for it. The following infographic, brought to us by the folks over at digital marketing technology company Monetate, highlights the impressive growth in traffic (103%!) from smartphones to leading ecommerce websites over the past year.

The infographic also calls attention to the battle for smartphone supremacy between Android and iPhone devices, both of which represent the most growth in smartphone-driven traffic to ecommerce sites. Furthermore, the graphic analyzes the various shopping activities of smartphone users as well as the mobile marketing tactics currently being used by marketers, with website mobile optimization topping the list at 46%, followed closely by mobile apps (45%), and trailed by mobile email optimization at 35%. Check it out!

Read more here

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A-Z Tips to Increase Site Visitors

Carlfred Giles - Saturday, September 17, 2011

We said A-Z and we meant it. Here are 26 sure-fire ways to increase web traffic and site visitors to your website. Use some or all of them, and let us know which ones worked best for you.

  1. Optimize your site (SEO).
    Win on the search engines when people search for keyword phrases related to your products or services.
    (More about search engine optimization.)

  2. Get your site listed in directories.
    Submit your site to all the major web directories. This will generate traffic directly from the directories themselves and will also help to improve your link popularity. That helps you win on Google!
    (More about web directories.)

  3. Get listed in search engines.
    Submit your site to all the major search engines.
    (More about search engines.)

  4. Get links to your site.
    Get people with complimentary sites to link to yours. You offer rental kayaks on the beach. Ask the local restaurant owners to link to you, and offer to link to them. Ask the local tour guides, the real estate agents, the night clubs, and everyone else. Links lead to clicks onto your website and help to improve your search engine rankings.

  5. Buy links to your site.
    Buy text links on other websites. That means more spiders stopping by, more people clicking through, and better search engine rankings.

  6. Buy banner ads.
    Buy banner ads on other websites. It helps to build brand recognition.

  7. Participate in a banner exchange program.
    It won't cost you anything, and will lead to a few extra visitors. Plus, you're spreading your brand all over the place.

  8. Participate in a WebRing.
    Connect your site with other sites in your niche.

  9. Pay for clicks to your site.
    Pay for clicks or inclusion on the search engines so that people will see your site in the sponsored links section of the search results when they search for keyword phrases related to your products or services.
    (More about pay per click.)

  10. Set up an affiliate marketing program.
    With affiliate marketing, you can either pay per click, pay per lead generated, pay per sale, or pay per customer acquired.

  11. Use smart public relations (PR).
    Get news coverage of your business and your site. Approach online and traditional media. This will often lead to others placing links pointing to your website, which leads to more clicks and also to improved search engine rankings.

  12. Use E-mail marketing.
    Ugly, but effective for the cost. Blast out your special offers, but be nice about it.

  13. Use off-line marketing.
    Promote your site. Put your url on all your license plates. Paint it on your car. Buy newspaper and yellow pages ads with your url. Put up flyers and stickers. Sponsor a little league team. Do anything and everything to spread the word about your website around your city.

  14. Run regular promotions.
    Stage regular giveaways and spread the word about it.

  15. Get published.
    Write articles for publication on other websites. The author profile will link to your site. The article will show that you're an expert.

  16. Publish yourself.
    Write articles for your own site regularly. This will help you to win on the search engines and gives your visitors a reason to come back over and over.

  17. Ask for reviews.
    Ask for reviews of your self-published articles on other webmasters' websites. Ask for reviews of your website, your products, your software, your services. These will usually include links to your articles.

  18. Write briefs.
    Write daily or weekly news briefs focusing in on your industry or specialty area. This keeps your site "fresh" in the eyes of the major search engines and helps you to spread a wide net when fishing for top search engine positions.

  19. Create a newsletter.
    Ask your visitors to sign up for your newsletter, and encourage them to send it along to people they know. Send a newsletter regularly with teasers or lead-ins to your in-depth new articles or with special offers and the latest products.

  20. Post in chat rooms.
    Become active in bulletin boards and chat rooms focusing on your industry. Leave inciteful comments, and people will click on your profile, then visit your site.

  21. Give away free stuff.
    Offer something people want at your site. Give them a reason to come back and get more. Offer free downloads and update them regularly. Offer coupons or discounts. Content content content.

  22. Give awards for excellent sites in your niche.
    This builds more links back to your site and establishes you as a credible reviewer, an expert in your space.

  23. Run a contest and promote it.
    Photo contests, essay contests, goofy contests, random drawings, anything. Example: Messiest Garage in America contest on OfftheFloor.com.

  24. Join your local business organizations.
    Chambers of Commerce and other organizations will often add your site to their member directory. That's an added advantage over the obvious business-building and networking opportunities.

  25. Create an RSS feed.
    Give people another way to interact with your content.

  26. Be accessible.
    Build your site so that it is accessible to all browsers and to PocketPC and Palm Pilot users. Don't forget, people with disabilities buy things too. Make your site Section 508 complaint. Your competition probably hasn't.

Carlfred Giles - Search Engine Friendly

Carlfred Giles - Monday, July 11, 2011

Are you Digitally Distinct?

Carlfred Giles - Friday, July 01, 2011

In the new world of work, your online profile plays a critical role in your ability to achieve your professional goals. Until now, there has no way of evaluating the strength of your online personal brand.

83% of recruiters use search engines to learn about candidates and 43% of recruiters admit to eliminating candidates based on information they found online.
- ExecuNet Study, 2007


We developed the Online ID Calculator™ to help professionals assess their online identity. This extremely popular and first-of-its-kind tool was designed by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, authors of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, a bestselling careers book (Wiley, June 2007). William is known as the personal branding guru and Kirsten is a leading authority on using the Web to advance your career. Together, they are partners in Reach, the pioneering personal branding firm with global presence.

Here is what "Carlfred Giles" Distinction is:



The graph above shows your Volume and Relevance of results and positions you in our Online ID four box model. Congratulations. You are digitally distinct!

See below for more information about your Google results.
This is the nirvana of online identity. A search of your name yields lots of results about you, and most, if not all, reinforce your unique personal brand. Keep up the good work, and remember that your Google results can change as fast as the weather in New England. So, regularly monitor your online identity. That way, if something negative, such as an anonymous ad hominem attack on your character on a blog, crops up, you can address it quickly, before it gets out of hand. Read Chapter 11 of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand for more ideas on how to continue to build your brand online.


 I am digitally distinct! Visit onlineIDCalculator.com

In addition to Volume and Relevance, there are two additional measures you need to be concerned with: Purity and Diversity. Purity speaks to how many of the results are about you (not about someone else who has the same name.) Diversity speaks to the multi-media aspect of the results (how much content displayed was in images or video, etc.)

Purity

Your Purity Score is: Stellar
This means you either have a unique name or you have done an outstanding job building relevant, high ranking content on the World Wide Web (or both). Bravo! Keep up the great work!

Diversity

Your Diversity Score is: Stellar
Bravo! Your results include video, images and real-time content - perfection! Keep up the great work by continuing to post relevant images and videos at sites like Flickr (flickr.com) and YouTube (youtube.com) and continue to use Twitter (twitter.com) to connect with your brand com.


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