, ,

Why is Web Design important?

We are now well into the digital age and nearly all businesses now operate at least in some way on the Internet, meaning it’s now an even bigger challenge to stay head of your competitors online.

It’s vital that you have great web design, smooth usability and clear call to actions to meet the high standards of today’s Internet.

Its widely accepted that when a person lands on a website they make a decision within 1 second whether to stay on that website or click the close button and head back to the search results.

The first impression that your website gives a visitor is the most important. If its a good impression it gives your business credibility and could ultimately be the deciding factor if someone calls you or not.

Depending on the kind of business you’re in, there are different types of websites that you could have built for you and it all depends on the nature of your business, your long term goals and the resources you have at your disposal.

Your website is your online shop window to the world. We see so many websites for businesses in Birmingham that have been poorly created and badly designed.

How your website looks and how it works will determine whether a potential customer takes the time to look around your site or leave and head over to your competitors instead.

,

Keep your emails out the spam folder

It’s a problem all business owners now face, with their lovely well thought out email ending up in the receivers spam mail never to be read.

, ,

Google Update Search

Google have removed the right hand side of search.

,

Market your business using your own car!

Not so long ago one of customers sent us the above image. We thought it was such a great idea that had to write a blog about it.

It just goes to show that as a small businesses there are many ways to market your business and all it takes is a little thought. Gina from www.ginapersonaltraining.co.uk drives around all day going back and forth from clients houses, so why not grab a few new customers on the way to her current customers by driving more traffic to her website or mobile phone. It’s great marketing and the design she had done was very well thought out.

  • The phone number is clearly displayed along with the website address.
  • There’s a picture of Gina keeping fit which obviously ties in with what her whole business is about.
  • She has also made sure to display the key areas she focuses on.

Gina is very good at marketing her business, it’s important to remember that to really be successful you have to market your business in as many areas as possible. Gina doesn’t just rely on one avenue being her website for brining in customers. She goes out and makes sure all angle’s are covered. I’ve even seen some leaflets from her in my local garage when ive gone to fill up my car, she’s everywhere!

It’s great to see someone so passionate about their business. From all of us here we say good luck Gina and keep up the great work!

,

Great tool to improve small businesses

Just imagine what would happen if something happened to your computer. If it caught fire, was stolen or got drenched in your morning coffee?

If you were using a decent backup solution you could just keep on working, otherwise you could be in a lot of trouble. So for those of you who don’t currently have a backup of your files in place, you’ll want to take a look at Dropbox.

So what is Dropbox?

Dropbox is software you install on your computer. It’s compatible with PC and Apple Mac. It’s a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again! It also saves all of your files in the cloud (your own personal and secure space on the Internet)

How does it work?

When you install Dropbox on your laptop or pc it creates a folder on your hard drive called ‘Dropbox’. You simply drag pictures, word documents anything at all into the Dropbox folder. The files stay on your local machine but also get uploaded to your online Dropbox account saving your data in the cloud. This is great for backing up data. You can then access your Dropbox account online through any computer or cellphone with Internet access. You can install Dropbox on other pc’s or laptops you own and when you do this all the files that are on your Dropbox get sync’d across the other pc or laptops you install Dropbox on.

Why would you use it?

If you work from a pc and a laptop, its really useful to be able to access your files from both machines without having to painfully transfer yourself files using usb sticks or emails. just share your files to yourself using Dropbox.

How to get it?

You head over to Dropbox.com and create a Free account. Install the application onto your PC by following the instructions during install, then all you have to do is drag files into your Dropbox folder and they get uploaded to the cloud.

Free Version

You start with 2GB of free space to use which is a lot for small businesses! invite your friends to gain more free space up to 16GB.

Paid Version

If you need more space, you can pay to increase your storage limit.

Sharing Files

You can choose which files on your Dropbox you want to share and send out an invite to anyone. Everyone that you give access to will always see the latest version of the shared files. Dropbox will synchronize these in real time.

How we use it

We use Dropbox to share files across the team who work in difference locations. it enables us to share files and folders with each other and means we don’t have to worry about duplicate file versions. everything is sync’d across the team, perfect!

Any bad things?

Well you do need Internet connection for Dropbox to back up and synchronize your files and if you start to purchase a lot of storage space on Dropbox you also need to make sure your laptops and PC have enough storage on their own hard drives to cope with all the data.

, ,

Video Marketing Tips To Get More Customers For Your Business

Creating good video content for your business and uploading it onto your website helps massively when it comes to getting more customers

If you read this and think it wouldn’t be relevant for your business or industry then you are very wrong and i will tell you why…

Your customers search for your good and services on Google right? using video on your website, Facebook and YouTube helps your Search Engine Optimisation.

As a business, any business you need to create video and link it to your website. You do need to apply the correct kind of tags and keywords to your videos so that you get the benefit from it, but that is not difficult.

Google owns YouTube, Google loves video, Google is where your customers search for your goods/services, Video helps your Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Optimisation helps your business appear on front page Google.

Being on from page Google gets you more customers.

How to start with video for your business?

A great way to start with video for business is to think about creating a video blog on your website. This can be a normal blog on your website but include video posts embedded straight from your YouTube channel. In short, create a video and upload it to YouTube. Then embed that video on your website, share the video or better share the blog post on your website that has the embedded video on across social media platforms such as Facebook.

A good idea is to first create a list of content that you will make videos for. Then create a calender of blog posts for when you will release this content to the world, maybe once a week you upload a video blog post to your website. Create about 10 videos so you have decent stock of video content. Create new videos each week. You can always mix and match the content you have, this way if you come across something that’s really relevant to the exact day/week your releasing your video content then you can put that video up in place of one you had previsluy planned in the schedule.

Video relevance

If you can create videos that are linked to your industry and relevant to the things happening in your industry on that specific day/week then that will gain more interest obviously. An example would be if its winter or there has been loads of snow and your a plumber for instance then create video content of you outside in the snow talking about winter and how your pipes may burst or boiler breakdown etc. This type of video blog post would be silly in the summer but very relevant in the winter.

You want to release regular content and keep it coming so as i said before creating a block of videos before you start will give you that cushion you need in case you cant for whatever reason make a video for a week or few weeks.

Remember to get your web designer to upload these videos onto your website or blog and start to really get the benefits that video can bring to your website 🙂

Its the year of video people, like we always say, get their before your competitors do it!

you can also put video on LinkedIn if you didn’t know.

Video ideas for business…

  • If you have a shop then lots of video footage of your shop
  • customer testimonials
  • personal reviews from yourself promoting your products
  • how to videos/tips
  • answer questions that customers regularly ask you? answer them in videos

The below screenshot was taken from a video that helped one of our customers go from hardly any phone calls a week to over 10 calls a week. this was just one video of him talking about the services he offers. I use to all the time as an example because it was taken on an iPhone, edited slightly and just uploaded to YouTube and the value this video had to his business was just incredible.

Video for business

How long should the videos be?

keep them short and to the point, maybe 30-90 seconds for short clips and no more than 1-2 mins for longer clips. Make sure the first 10 seconds of the video holds really key and engaging content.

Don’t have music playing for 25 seconds then cut to your message, as most people will navigate away after 10 seconds.

Now go create video!

Hopefully this has give you an idea of where to start with creating video content for your website and you can start using video as a great marketing tool to pull in more customers for your business. I know some industry’s are harder than others to create interesting content for you, but either way if you make a rubbish video or a great one, they will be pretty much the same when it comes to helping your overall SEO so id just get started on it, even if it meas just using your iPhone camera and uploading video straight to YouTube from there. Its a start and definitely better than nothing!

, ,

It’s 2013. Your Business Must Be Online

All our customers know that we are very passionate about supporting local businesses within Sutton Coldfield and helping them grow to be successful. Its not just a website that we build for you but an ongoing relationship that will help your business grow and really shine online.

No doubt as a local business owner you will have noticed the massive change from offline to online activity by your customer base in terms of buying products or finding you in the first place. People no longer pull out the old rusty Yellow Pages when they need a service from someone just so they can call some faceless company based on a few words and a phone number. In fact I don’t even know where our yellow pages book is. You just don’t have to go looking for an old book which doesn’t really give great details of the company your calling anyway, and that’s the key, your customers don’t need to, why not? because their mobile phone like yours, which is probably in your pocket or on your desk right now is capable of pulling up the exact service they want within seconds they can view a company’s website and full service list with testimonials etc etc.

Newspapers are not the same as they were, not because there’s no news – it’s because their advertising revenue is way down. Companies realise that their customers aren’t looking there any more. These days, who would choose a company from the three that are advertising in a paper when they can find 50 to choose from online and then go straight to that companies website and read online customer reviews to help with the buying decision? They expect the convenience of IMMEDIATE information. Waiting till they get home to dig out the Yellow Pages is not an option any more.

With the dawn of the smartphone internet usage is booming. iPhone’s, Androids are just everywhere! There are 4 billion mobiles phones in use today a quarter of these are web-enabled smartphones.

Everything that is happening all around us is pointing to a marketplace within the next couple of years that will be predominantly online. These people, your future customers, won’t even consider using Yellow Pages or a newspaper. Many of the internet generation will have NEVER used Yellow Pages or even bought a newspaper (why do that when you can visit your chosen newspaper’s website for free on your smartphone, right?) I must admit I don’t and never have downloaded a free version of the newspaper, but then I just look on bbc website for anything important going on and search Google for the rest.

Stay connected to us even after we have built your website and benefit from our knowledge going into this online world. Our best customers do this and we have many talks about plans and ideas they have to grow their business online and often just call for a chat and run their ideas past us for advice. Have a think about what you want your website/online marketing tool to achieve 2013. Do you know what it is you want your website to achieve this year? maybe its to conquer social media for your business? maybe its to climb to rank 1 of Google or simply get more visitors to your site and increase your sales conversation, well just give us a call to discuss. Its free advice we offer to all our customers!

Whatever you do in 2013, if your not online, get online! If you are online, do not just let your website rot away and become stale, we can see that the customers who are successful online are keeping their website up to date with good content and constantly in talks with us about new ideas and ways to market and promote their products online. the old ways of promoting businesses are really starting to crack now, you have to get a good foot hold on the internet with your business before your competitors get so far ahead that even having a website wont help you. Its no longer about having a website online, that’s now a must have for any business regardless. Now you need to take the basic having a website online and then making it keep up with the expectation of today’s advanced users. Poor design and slow websites do more damage that good now. Ranking on page 5 of Google means your business doesn’t exist in the online world. Get there ahead of your competitors before its too late.

Get Listed on Online Business Directories

You should be listing your business and website on all decent business directories. We are in association with a local business directory site, which only promotes businesses in Sutton Coldfield. so you should definitely get your business listed on www.suttoncoldfieldrated.co.uk if you haven’t already.

Remember we are here to help you grow your business online 🙂 not just build you an amazing website, but to support you online for the life of business.

, , ,

Making Your Website a Business Asset

Why Your Business Needs a Website in Today’s Market

There are still a lot of businesses out there without a website struggling along wondering why they are not getting the same amount of customers that they used to get. They have been advertising in the paper or on Yell and their customer base is just getting less and less.

Did the people vanish? No, they just look for products and services in a different place now. It’s called the Internet, more precise its called Google and Facebook. There are many other online places of course but in general thats where the people are. Consumers are also far more savvy than they used to be, they know how to use the internet to search for the best deals and like to really research products before buying. Its because its so fast and simple now to this thanks to the internet.

According from a study from Google….

50% of internet users have researched and compared products.
40% of offline buyers have conducted online research prior to purchase.

Lots and lots more consumers globally now also navigate around social media sites in search of profits reviews and user comments.

Now its all figures from some Google study and who knows really how true those figures are but regardless we know that one thing that is true is that most people now use the internet to buy things and look at stuff. So if you’re a business you need to have your things and stuff online so that the people of today can search for it, find it and buy it from you.

How do people find your products/services? Watch a quick video below:

They go onto Google and type something like “Product/Service in Town/City”

That’s how customers generally find you online.

If you’re a business to consumer business and your not visible for searches like that then you have a problem.

If your customers are actively searching online for your products and your competitors are showing up on Google or have more online visibility than you do then its an issue you really need to address.

Get a website and use:

  • Internet Marketing
  • Google Ads
  • Search Engine Optimisation

This will help you target and sell your products / services online.

When customers do finally arrive at your website make sure you don’t lose them straight away. Make sure your homepage is good enough to keep them on your site to navigate around and look at everything you have to offer. Its estimated a person will decide whether to stay on your site or leave in about 1-2 seconds of your website loading. A poor homepage will discourage users that your products/services are any good and they will most likely click back and go.

Home Page Content

This is your online shop window to the world, if your front page is not done correctly you risk losing your potential customers after all the hard work you have put in getting them to your website in the first place.

Good website design is very important but its not just about a really pretty website design, its also about making sure you have the right content on your homepage and throughout your website.

The following things your homepage should contain:

  • Clear info on who you are what you do
  • Contact info – tell your customers how to contact you
  • If you are a local business, tell them where you are – people buy local
  • Clear navigation with working links – basic stuff
  • Company logo is a decent place – build brand
  • Links to your social media pages – quick access to gains likes or followers

Ideas For Other Website Content

After the homepage, look at the other pages on the website. When adding content to your website make sure its two things. Relevant and Unique.

  • About Us Section – people like to see who’s behind the faceless online business
  • Our Team – show your customers the human side of your business
  • Products/Services – good images and descriptions of your products
  • Case Studies – success stories from your existing customers
  • Order/Book links – clear buy now buttons for your products
  • Contact Us/Location Map – make it easy for people to find you
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Statement
  • Disclaimer

Blogging and How it Can Help Your Business

There are so many reasons a blog can massively help your business. The main ones i can think of right now are listed below. It is hard work but it definitely pays off. Google loves fresh content and there are many extra tricks you can do to leverage this in your favor to help you jump up the search rankings and create a quality blog site that your customers and potential customers will find really useful and admire.

  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Great SEO benefits
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Broadens the range of your target audience
  • Keeps customers informed and interested
  • Improves communication with current customers
  • Increases customers loyalty and trust
  • Helps good quality link building

Few more ideas of content for you website:

  • Competitions
  • Discount codes
  • Special offers
  • “how to” videos

If you don’t have a website then get one 🙂

If you do have a website review your homepage and make sure you’re not missing anything that could be putting potential customers off.

, ,

Don’t Bounce Out of Business

We always go on about how important GOOD website design and structure is from a user/customer point of view but now it really is THAT important. Why? because now Google take if into account when deciding where to place your website in its search rankings.

It’s called Bounce Rate and it now has an effect on your SEO.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce Rate as displayed in Google Analytics is defined as the the % of people who visit your website and then navigate away without visiting any other page on your website.

In short, it is the percentage of visits from your customers that arrive on your site possible through the homepage or some other landing page, but visit no other pages, and then leave.

Having a high bounce rate is very depressing, it’s like getting loads of customers just standing on your shop doorstep but never actually coming inside, and now to make your life even worse, Search engines have now started considering the bounce rates in their organic ranking algorithms.

Having a high bounce rate will affect search engine position because it implies to the search engines that your website is not relevant to the searched term used to land on your site and will consequently penalise the website which will ultimately be reflected in its search engine position.

However if your website is of a high quality, looks good and relevant to the target market, is easy to navigate and has targeted the right keywords then there should be no need for a person to bounce away from the website. Instead they should be engrossed by the content of the website, and navigate around further. This is then rewarded by search engines as good user experience and will then be noted by the search engines as their aim is to provide their users with the best quality results.

Why Does My Site Have a High Bounce Rate?

There count be a number of reasons so you will need to check:

Website Content

Your site content sucks. Could be as simple as that, your website should add value to your visitors. The flow of information should be in such a way that it should be able to carry the visitor from the page they are on to the other pages on your website. Your website is like your home, if you want your guest to see the entire house you need to take them around.

Website Design and User-friendliness

Presentation is extremely important on the internet. Don’t do silly things. How often do you like to visit a website which throws up pop up windows in your face the moment you visit? Most people just leave straight away. Unless they are very relevant and well presented, but mostly its a no no.

Site Navigation Structure

Always keep your site navigation simple and intuitive without leaving anything to your visitor’s guess work. Its very likely that most of the bounce rate is caused by poor navigation system on the websites.

Technical Errors

404 pages and other technical errors should be avoided at any cost to minimize the bounce rate.

Irrelevant Keyword Selection

Search engines consider the keywords used in your site content in their ranking algorithm. If your website shows up for “dog training” while you are selling “dog food”, chances are, the visitor will simply leave your site. The same goes with meta titles and descriptions of your site pages.

Links From External Websites

You have less control over this as anyone could link to your website so quality backlinks from relevant websites are a must but, sometimes you might get that rare backlink from an unrelated off topic website. This might pull in irrelevant visitors which in turn leads to increase in the bounce rates.

So what bounce rate should my website have?

There is no definitive answer as to what a high and low bounce rate is as it is dependent on factors such as the nature of the website and how many web pages it contains. Obviously 0% is the ideal figure but not realistic. As a general rule of thumb anything below 30% is low, whilst anything above 50% is considered to be high and therefore should be addressed in order to ascertain the reason for the high bounce rate.

How can I monitor the bounce rate?

The bounce rate of a website can be monitored using tools such as Google Analytics which can tell its users which individual web pages have the highest bounce rates over a period of time.

So there you have it, its just so important to have a well structured and designed website from the very start. Check out your bounce rate and if its over 50% cry a little and then when you’ve calmed down do something about it by reviewing your navigation and content along with other things mentioned above…

,

Short website checklist

As we get more and more work from customers that are totally fed up with their previous web designers we see websites that have some really important things missing from them which would give them that edge over their competitors.

Here’s a list of some of the major failures we see or don’t see on websites

1. High res images

The web is becoming more and more up to date in terms of look and design, and especially your products, they should be gleaming and really showing off what you have to offer. Old pixelated images are no good and just makes your site look cheap. Spend some money on decent images or take some good ones of your products with a camera or even iPhone. You don’t have to host them either if your worried about space, upload them to Facebook or something like flickr, you can always then bring them through onto your website.

2. A detailed “About Us” section

If your potential customer clicks to view your about page its because they want to know more about you or your company. So in short, tell them! and include… high res images! Unless you have an amazing reason not to, you should include info about the owners and all staff. Some people have great stories to tell as to how they got set up so why not tell it. People like to know the real people behind the business.

3. Maps or post code

Where are you located? If you have an office and a customer wants to find your office they would like to be able to find you on a map or using their sat nav. An online map means they can scroll, zoom in and out of, and print.

tip: Have the map open in a new browser window. Keeping users on your website and letting the map display in a big size in a new window. Keeping them trapped in a 200 by 100 pixel embedded box is very annoying.

4. Know how your website displays on a Smartphone

Its amazing how many business websites don’t have a website that is designed to work on a mobile phone and loads are not iPad compatible. Go check your site now 🙂

5. Flash, image-texts

It is not 1995. You should not be using flash EVER. Its just a no for like a million reasons and really gets me mad 🙂 There’s no reason i can even think of that you would want to use flash, the cool effects flash makes can now be done using other tools and software without making your website look and perform terrible.

6. Contact details

Listing all the people in the company makes it easy for potential customers to get straight to the person they need. So make it easy for them. Have your contact number throughout your website for yourself and all your departments. This will include your accounts department, who the press should contact and the bloke who orders the stationery etc. direct phone numbers and email addresses work best, amazingly we find a lot of people just don’t like using web forms though we have one on our site anyway :p

7. list all your products!

The times we hear, “yeah we actually offer that but didn’t put it on the website as we thought no one would be interested…” Your site should tell customers everything that you do. In plain English. Your site should list every product, every service. If a customer is looking for a specific service that you offer they should be able to find it in three clicks or fewer.

It’s not an exhaustive list i could go on forever but worth just flicking through your website and see how many of these things you have got right.

, ,

Get really cool business cards

The ‘ol’ business card, one of the most powerful, yet ignored weapons in marketing your business.

Now more than ever there are many ways to attract new customers to your business.

Maybe it’s a marketing campaign in the form of an ad in the paper. A big poster or billboard, through the use of social media or maybe you get your customers through word of mouth, but what about that more personal level. I find that some really great leads come directly from networking or just being out and about and having a chat with other people/businesses.

In this scenario the most important tool I have is me, how I come across to the other person, that first impression will most likely determine if they want to do business with me or not. On departing I always give my business card. It then reminds them of what I’m capable of doing in the event that they need my service in the future. Now let’s face it, most business cards I’ve seen are very boring and very dull, some don’t even use both sides of the card. A lot of them or either from a free service or worse created at home and printed off and cut out onto paper. After having a great chat with a potential customer and getting them on board with what your offering and building that trust you then give them a basic poorly designed business card and ruin it all. Having a really nicely designed professional business card can really seal the deal and make sure your potential customer remembers you and calls you up if the need your services.

I’m not saying ours is the best by a long way, I’ve seen much better out there but let me talk you through the thinking behind our business card which may help you in improving yours.

Front Design

purple cloud solutions business card front

You should have at least one picture or image on your business card. Studies show that people are more likely to hold on to a Business card that has a photo on it. It doesn’t have to be a picture of you but maybe of your product. I guess it’s because pictures grab attention.

We have our business name logo ‘purple cloud solutions’ as the main image.

The QR code displayed in the front as well, this goes to our homepage currently but you may want to think about which page you send people to. I’ve been thinking about sending people straight to our services page.

The tagline of ‘we specialise in local business’ as we want do a lot of business with local businesses in Sutton Coldfield so I thought it was a good thing to display.

In smaller font we have the line of ‘web development and design‘ and ‘expanding your business on the Internet’ which pretty much sums up what we do.

I think the for front of the card, you want something eye catching hopefully our logo + QR code does this. You don’t want to display too much info that may detract from the logo, I know there’s a fair bit on our front and for that reason i may remove the ‘Great design always forecasted’ play on words tagline to gain some space back.

Back Design

purple cloud solutions business card back

flip over to the back and we have in biggest font my name. This is really important as i want the person who has my business card to remember me and remember meeting me and conversation we had. I want it to be personal and not just a corporate business card.

I’ve listed the main services down the left hand side and used our cloud logo in place of bullet points for a bit of design.

Our tagline at the top ‘We help business get set up online’ is underlined by a contrasting colour of green to help it stand out. I want the person holding the card to know that this is what we do and specialise in.

I’ve added a ‘want a business card like this?’ tagline top right as we had so many people comment on how nice our card was I thought id add it in as a service.

Just under my name is the usual info that you should provide, website link, email, phone number etc. Along with any social medium links you may have. (you should have)

Then to end just a simple ‘Just give me call’ with a smiley face helps keep the whole thing friendly and more personal.

You may have noticed that we went for the rounded edges cards and not the standard rectangle design that most business cards have. You want to stand out and be different from your competitors so you should take things this into account. How can you be different from your competitors?

We have had a lot of comments on our business card, I feel it really gives of a professional look and feel. There’s always improvements that can be made, and for that reason i tend to buy them in batches of 100 in case I want to change something or add something in the not so distant future.

So take a look at your business card and ask yourself, is your business card letting your business down? Or is it a cool business card that people will look at and remember you by.

Love your customers not just on Valentines Day

I believe that one of the main reasons Purple Cloud is successful is that I love running the business. I really enjoy working in it and on it every day. One of the big enjoyments I get out of it is I also like the people that our business attracts as potential long term customers of ours. We get to meet loads of great people who are serious and dedicated to growing their own business and have lots of ideas of how they want to succeed which often then rubs off onto us and helps inspire us with new ideas for Purple Cloud Solutions. Another great thing is the people I work with, I like them not just professionally but personally as well. We’re all good friends and this is true with our customers as well.

The fact is when you like the people you serve you naturally have a higher motivation to help them out, and you end up working harder for them without having to force it. It just happens naturally, and what happens then is you deliver a great service and your customers/friends love you more. So don’t think of your customers as people who just pay you to do a service, think of them as your friends who yeah you maybe charging to do some work for but also to genuinely help them out and help make their business more successful from the services you provide. One thing we do here at Purple Cloud is we get passionate about our customers business as if its our own. We just naturally take an interest in their business and make sure we help them succeed in whatever there trying to do.

Being able to Run a business where you actually like the people you serve is very motivating. A day’s work feels like helping out your friends and doing nice things for people you care about.

Business is built on relationships. I think many small business owners underestimate just how important it is to love your customers. So give out some love to your customers way before and after Valentine’s day :)

Happy valentine’s day everyone!