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New Website Design: Moving On from Your Old Website

You invested your heart and soul into your old website, but it just doesn’t load as fast as it used to. You still have the vision that inspired the site in your mind, but it takes more searching to see that vision when you look at what your site has morphed into through the months or years. Visitors aren’t responding to the site as well as they once did, and you know that it is time to take action.

When the analytics for your site start to look far less impressive than you are willing to tolerate, you have two options. You can embrace the need for change and breathe new life into your site’s design, or you can abandon the site entirely and watch it decline into nothing of value. You have invested far too much time to let it go completely, which leaves you with the first option: revive the site through change.

A thorough analysis of your old website will help you decide what type of change you need. Here is a quick checklist to help you complete this analysis:

  • Identify features that are used most often by visitors and which hold visitors on the page longest.
  • Identify features that are no longer used or are quickly abandoned by users.
  • List all complaints that you have received from visitors.
  • Test your navigation system to make sure it is still efficient.
  • Identify outdated or irrelevant content that needs rewritten or eliminated.
  • Have friends or family members give you their opinion on your overall site design.

In most cases, you will find that a completely new site design is needed to bring the site back to life. You can work with a professional designer to tackle this project, which often turns into a balancing act. While you need to maintain the essence of the site so that your loyal followers do not lose the features they find useful, you also need to upgrade to something more eye-catching and appealing to a larger audience.

Decide What Features to Keep

Make a short list of the features or design elements that you know should remain on your new website design. This will help you feel better about moving on from your old website, since you get to keep the elements that make the site unique.

Any features or pages of content that your regular site visitors use frequently should make it onto this list. You may end up redesigning some elements of these features, but you know that they must remain on the site to appease your regular followers. You may also want to keep evergreen content that gets a lot of attention from search engines and human visitors. You may also identify pages that are struggling but which might thrive if you give them a makeover with fresher content and better SEO strategies.

The Excitement of Going Live

It can take several months, to completely overhaul your website design into something more appealing to today’s viewers. Get in touch with your market and view competing websites so that you see where your new website design can one-up your competitors.

When it is time to take your new website live, prepare for a period of analysis. Make sure to analyze the elements of your old website that were not working to ensure that they do work with the new website design.

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Subject-LineIf you knew that something as simple as changing a few words could make your email marketing campaign more successful, how long would it take you to implement those changes? You would probably implement them immediately because you want to maximize results from every campaign. That’s good because you are about to learn about some of the simplest mistakes that email marketers sometimes make. If you identify them as problems for your own campaigns, get ready to take action and fix those errors.

Say What You Mean

Creativity is fun to play around with, but it doesn’t always work well with email subject lines. Recipients want to know what is inside your email and why they should spend their time reading it. You can add fun symbols like hearts and stars, but your recipients are just as likely to be annoyed by that as intrigued. You can create slogans that grab attention, but if they may not make a reader curious enough to open the message.

You don’t have much space to make a subject line work, so use it wisely. Get to the point and speak directly to your reader. Why should they spend their time listening to what you need to communicate to them? Give them that urgent message directly so that they want to hear you out.

Keep It Positive

Internet marketers are experts when it comes to playing on the emotions of their targeted audience. Unfortunately, playing on negative emotions like fear do not work for most consumers when it comes to email subject lines. Studies have shown that readers are far more likely to open a message that makes them feel hopeful or happy rather than fearful or scared.

Any word that is associated with a negative experience or emotion could hold your email campaign back. Some words to watch out for are “cancelled,” “reminder” and “eliminated.”

Make It Exclusive

Can you offer a “limited” deal to “select” customers? What about an “exclusive invitation” just for special customers? When you make individuals feel special, they are likely to click your message open and see what you have to offer. You don’t have to limit the number of people who receive these email messages. The goal is to make every recipient feel like they are a member of a select or chosen group.

A Note on Personalization

It is now commonplace to add a recipient’s name into their email in order to make a personal connection. While that has shown to help with opening rates to some extent, research is showing that it isn’t always enough to get someone to open a message. If you can add the name of the recipient and somehow hint that time is running out or the deal is only good for a limited amount of time, then the personalization may work more in your favor.

If you have the technology to insert personal names in your email subject lines, it doesn’t hurt to add that personal touch. Just don’t expect that alone to get your recipients to click your message open.

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Attract-More-Visitors

You took the time to find a talented website designer and invested in a professional web design. You poured your soul into writing high-quality content ready to inspire, motivate, teach and entertain your website visitors. You looked all over for the perfect images to create the perfect look and feel for each page of your site. You are now proud of what you have created, but there is a big problem: no one else seems proud of your site.

This is a problem many website owners encounter, but there are creative actions you can take to bring more visitors to your site. If you haven’t already started a marketing plan, right now is the time to change that. If you have been marketing your website but haven’t received the results you wanted, the following tips will help you develop a more efficient, results-driven plan. Get ready to unveil your beautiful creation on the rest of the world.

Spill Your Heart in a Blog

Do you have a blog for your website? If not, your goal is to change that this year. If you do, your goal is to change the way you think about your blog. This is not a space for stuffy declarations of your worth or heavy advertisements. Blogs are not meant to be updated once a month or only when you have a new product to push. Your blog is your space to tell the world what makes you tick, why you are special, and how you see your industry and the world at large.

Write tightly-focused blog posts that drill home one central idea in a personal manner. Speak directly to your readers so that they see you as a person to whom they can relate. Ask questions and take the time to read the comments when they start coming in. This is hard because you are revealing your true self in a vulnerable manner. Go there, and you will be rewarded.

Give Your Heart Away

Do you have an eBook, long report or other digital product that you know would help millions of people if they gave it a chance? Instead of pedaling it for what it is worth, give part or all of it away for free. This may make you squirm a little, but that only tells you that it is something of value that will work. The goal is to have other products to offer when people realize the value of your freebie and come back for more.

You can also write brilliant blog posts and give them to other bloggers. Why would you do that when you are starting your own blog? You do it because giving away that top-notch post allows you to tap into the audience already secured by other bloggers.

You will need to make updates to your website to make these ideas work. You may need to add an opt-in for visitors to receive your freebie in exchange for their name and email address, and the blog will take some time to setup. It will be worth it in the end as you get more for your marketing time and dollars.

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Marketing to Christians

One thing we specialize in here at BMGcreative is helping new businesses and ministries get off the ground. It is actually one of the things we love to do. Start-ups are always exciting because we get to create something new.

But how do you market a new Christian business or ministry? Many eager new business owners want to push their faith through their business. While being “in your face” with a blatant Christian message usually isn’t the best route to take, we always encourage Christian business owners them to live their faith through their business.

Christians who do marketing
In the simplest sense marketing is advertising, promoting or telling others about a service, product or idea. So if we were to mix in Christian with marketing we would get someone who believes in Jesus that does advertising or promoting.

There are a lot of companies that are owned or run by Christians, but you wouldn’t know that overtly by their branding or marketing. However, once you get to know them, you can clearly see Christian principles in action rather than in their logo. Most of the successful Christian-owned businesses that I know operate in this way.

Christianity in marketing
One big mistake we see often are business owners that feel they need to proclaim Jesus and honor God by plastering Christianese and Christian symbols all over their business materials. I strongly agree that we need to honor God in all we do. However it may not be the best practice to put verses, icons and Christian wording all over our business collateral.

Please don’t get offended, but when people see crosses, Jesus hanging on a cross, and all other kinds of Christianese on your business materials, this almost always turns them off to your business. If you are truly trying to reach people with the message of the gospel, then build a relationship and be a witness to them. If you are trying to promote your business or ministry to others, not just Christians, then do it in a professional clear way that others can understand and won’t get turned away or confused by. God calls us to be salt, something that is palatable and tastes good. We are not called to be a red hot pepper. Use common sense in your marketing efforts in order to help attract people to you rather than making them run away.

Marketing to Christians
Now there is another way we can look at Christian marketing in the sense of actually marketing to Christians. If you are trying to reach only Christians, or any target market for that matter, you can break some of the typical marketing rules. Keeping the same message contained to a target market allows you the freedom to use language that you shouldn’t use when marketing to a general audience.

Keep your audience in mind
Whether you are a Christian in marketing or trying to market to Christians keep in mind who will be seeing your ad, brochure or billboard and ask how someone that doesn’t know you could interpret it. Oftentimes, seeing things from others’ perspective is difficult. For that reason, most companies hire marketing and branding agencies to make sure they have the most effective message developed to reach the right group of people.
It’s better to ask others that will give you honest advice than to waste efforts and resources on the wrong message reaching the wrong people.

For more information and a how-to guide visit BMGcreative.com/OneToday.

Grif Blackstone is the publisher of the Good News, the largest Christian newspaper in Florida and the president of BMGcreative, a full service web design and marketing company. Grif has helped hundreds of organizations build an effective brand and help them communicate who they are to their target market. Writer, speaker, and consultant, Grif is known for technology and business and is highly caffeinated. Contact him at: grif@bmgcreative.com or 954-229-2256.

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onlinereviews_thumbsOnline Reviews are promotions for your business written by your current or past customers. Some reviews are delivered through online video, but most are written and presented through websites, blogs and social media accounts. Your customers share their experiences with your products and services in order to help other consumers make educated buying decisions.

Online reviews are powerful promotional tools because they backup the claims you make about your own business. You can tell potential customers how great your products are and how reliable your services are, but they are going to listen to the experience of another consumer before they take your word for it. This is because you have something to sell them, but your customers have nothing to gain by telling the truth about their experiences.

What about Negative Reviews?

Even if you have an excellent product or service, you may run into a dissatisfied customer or two. You may not know that they are dissatisfied until you convince them to write a review, and you won’t like what you read in that review. Rather than getting mad or acting defensive, use this as an opportunity to correct your mistakes and win them over.

Consider the validity of the negative review and offer complimentary products or services. Open a dialogue with the customer by asking what you can do to correct their experience with your business. You may turn that negative review into a review that glows with positivity if you react in a professional manner.

Promoting Reviews for Business Growth

Encourage your current and previous customers to write out a review regarding their experiences with your company. Even if they only write a few words or a couple sentences, their support for your business is valuable when new customers come along and wonder about the legitimacy of your business. You can give incentives to those who write reviews, but never withhold that incentive if you receive a negative review.

Promoting reviews from your customers is easy. Display the reviews on your website or allow customers to enter their reviews directly onto your website. Promote the reviews further by using them in social media and blog posts. This gets the word out that your business is legitimate and has a lot to offer customers.

Consumer reviews are excellent market research tools. If you find customers routinely complaining about the same thing, you know that area of your business needs improvement. When you receive compliments on one area of your business on a routine basis, then you know that area is one of your strengths.

If you pay attention to the opinions expressed in these reviews, you can use this insight to make important decisions regarding your business. For instance, you may go ahead with a new product because a similar product was wildly popular with your customers and you see that demand is high. You may also decide to invest more money in customer service or packaging if those areas are routinely criticized in customer reviews.

Yes, there are some fake reviews floating around online. That does not mean that reviews are not powerful resources for your business. Embrace real online reviews, listen to your customers, and watch your business grow.

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Local AdvertisingMany small businesses or single party sellers believe that a website is an expense that they don’t need and that advertising or SEO is a service which won’t assist them in increasing their sales.

Local vs Global-Can SEO Really Help?

One of the most common myths about the small or mid-sized business is that because they are only doing business in a small local area, that online advertising is not necessary or desirable. The small business owner is often taken in by this myth and doesn’t promote the website or use local SEO or SEM to locally market their business. This is detrimental to the business owner in that they are not well branded and it is detrimental to their bottom line as well. In this climate, who can afford to give away sales?

How People Find New Venders

Whether you are local or global, people are looking for you. Most of those people, statistically are looking for you online. Consider how you and your family may search. If you’re looking for a new product or service, chances are that you’re using local search online to find that product.

Even something as small as a pizza restaurant is being searched in local areas more than a thousand times a day. Many searches take place while people are on the road actively ready to spend money on a local business.

Making sure that you’re online and able to be found means making sure that part of that business comes to you and your company.

Why Advertise Online?

Local people have the idea that the internet is global in nature and local businesses are overlooked. In fact, if you are using the right text and the right keywords local advertising will increase their business in a big way.

Very often searches take the form of –for example–“Omaha fast food.”

Your competition is–by and large–online and working to attain that local traffic and to edge out their competition. Statistics from the marketing industry, specifically from Marketing Land tell us that:

  • The retail industry will spend more than 9 billion dollars on digital advertising this year.

  • Most of that advertising and targeting will take place online.

  • More than 60% of people look for a business online, even if that business is locally owned and operated.

  • If you’re not online, you are leaving nearly sixty percent of the new business on the table.

  • Local SEO is necessary in order to compete with the other businesses in your area.

  • Local business marketing brings in more than 25 billion dollars in new businesses per year.

How much of that business can you afford to pass up before your business is overshadowed by those who are using online and digital advertising?

Advertising Methods

Local SEO and local business marketing using your own website, social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, Wooxie.com and Pinterest are going to help to improve your visibility and to brand your business.

More than one method of advertising is necessary for your business growth. This is true even if you own and operate a very small business. Your competition is marketing to the local area. The trend is to advertise locally and that is a trend that can be expected to continue and to grow. The internet, social media marketing and online marketing is the wave of the present and certainly of the future. Those of us who are in business today either ride the wave or sink.

 

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Local Business AdvertisingThe business world has been a little shaky for several years. Beginning to pick up slightly, the economy is still slightly turbulent for small business. We’re all looking for ways to run our business with the lowest costs vs the highest efficiency that we can get. Today, with so much up for grabs, it’s certainly not the time to be cutting back on your budget for advertising, but it is a good time to reevaluate it to ensure that the budget that you do have is being used to your best advantage.

Local business advertising is done the best and cost effectively online. It is considerably cheaper-even if you have to hire someone to write your copy or content for you–to advertise online using content to help you to become more visible. In fact, in many cases online advertising is free of charge. The right content and social media copy will go a long way toward helping your company and your products to become more visible and more profitable.

The reality is that local businesses in particular need to advertise online. If your prospective customer can’t find you, they are going to find your competition.

Your small business website is in place, but is it working for you? Does your local business website help to increase the volume of your sales or to broaden the scope of your business? Is it visible, easy to find and does it reflect well on your company?

If it doesn’t then maybe it’s time for a few changes. Even if you’re only doing business in a small local area, your prospective customers are online and actively looking for someone who is in your business. If they can’t find you, it stands to reason then, they are going to find your competition.

The Right Content and Keywords

Ensuring that they can find you means taking a few steps to make that more easily accomplished.Using some localization, adding some local keywords to your content is a good start. People don’t typically search for a local business by using global keywords. For example, if you were seeking a Nottingham carpet cleaner, you would type in just that. Using keywords such as those in your online content will make you easier to find.

Consistency in Advertising

One of the things that you can offer is a consistent business listing that sees every website reflecting your business address and phone number updated and current. No matter how you have them listed, every website should list them exactly the same in every instance. One of the reasons for that is that it is a distinct red flag for a prospective customer to see a website listing that gives two or three different addresses or phone numbers for the same business in various places.

Small businesses who move a great deal or who change their information frequently may be businesses who are not above board. They tend to make companies or individuals think twice before hiring them.

Know Your Competition in the Local Area

The chances are good that you have some local competition who is vying for the same business that you are. Know who they are. The best way to do that is to have a marketing expert in your corner who can help to research not just the main competitors but those who are up and coming and may be more competition in the near future.

Get Help With Your Marketing

While we all hear that SEO and SEM isn’t rocket science, if you’re consistently being beaten out in the SERPs by your competition, it’s time to get some help with local business seo and your local business website in order to create a more visible and more profitable future for your company.

 

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Start-up marketing budget

Most small start-ups have limited marketing dollars, which means that marketing on a budget becomes a priority. When marketing money is limited, every dollar spent needs to provide your start-up with results. However, just because a start-up has a small budget does not mean that it is impossible to enjoy incredible results. To make the most of a limited marketing budget, here are a few start-up marketing ideas that offer results and savings.

Idea #1 – Stick to Marketing Campaigns that Work

One of the best startup marketing ideas to follow when trying to stretch your marketing budget is to stick to marketing campaigns that work. When a marketing campaign provides results, avoid scrapping that campaign just to try something new. As long as consumers are reacting positively to these campaigns, keep running them. While dated information may need to be updated, throwing out existing copy that provides results is a waste of money. Ads can continue bringing in results for years, so stick to campaigns that are working. If the campaign becomes ineffective, then it’s worth the money to change marketing tactics.

Idea #2 – Make the Most of Every Ad

For small start-ups marketing on a budget, it is important to make the most of every ad. Ads are expensive, especially if you are just using them for space advertising. While some of your money may be used for space advertising, making the most of the ads you use is important. In fact, those ads can be used in multiple ways to get the marketing message out to the company’s target audience.

One option is to order reprints of ads, handing out the ads to existing customers and potential customers. Ad reprints may be sent out with company literature or may bed use as direct mail items. Ads can easily be turned into product data sheets or even used to create education material. Once money is spent on an ad, use it to its full potential, finding different ways to use those ads repeatedly to save money.

Idea #3 – Save Money with Modular Literature

Another of the startup marketing ideas to try is using modular literature. Modular literature allows companies to create a single brochure layout that can be tweaked to fit the needs of specific products or marketing campaigns. Most sections in modular literature will remain the same, while a few sections may be tailored to feature specific products or reach out to a targeted audience. Creating separate brochures can quickly become expensive, so modular literature offers startups the ability to save money while still creating quality literature that meets specific market needs.

Idea #4 – Don’t Allow Other Companies to Dictate Your Promotions

Small startups often make the mistake of looking at the brochures and other literature offered by other companies. However, allowing other companies to dictate your promotions is a big mistake that will make marketing on a budget nearly impossible. Most startups do not need fancy brochures or mailers. Focus on promotions that focus on the needs of your market instead of looking at what other companies are putting out to their customers.

Idea #5 – Consider Automation for Lead Generation

Lead generation is an important part of marketing any startup. Many new startups find that using marketing automation software offers great benefits and helps maximize your marketing budget. With automated lead generation software, it’s easy to send out messages automatically that will both capture and nurture your leads, starting at the first inquiry and working with leads until they result in a sale. Automation allows you to increase productivity and reduce the amount of money you spend on lead generation tasks.

Idea #6 – Check Out Startup Events

More than likely, you’ll be able to find startup events in your area where you can talk to other individuals starting a business and individuals that have similar interests. These events offer you a great way to begin networking. In many cases, you’ll meet individuals that can help you with your startup. Not only will you get valuable information, but these events often are a wonderful place to find marketing companies that can help you successfully market your startup.

Idea #7 – Use a Marketing Firm

Sometimes startups make the mistake of trying to do everything in-house, thinking that it will be the cheaper option. However, using a marketing firm can actually provide a better return on investment. Marketing firms have experienced professionals that have the skills and knowledge to help you market your new business. Most business owners do not have the marketing expertise needed to come up with the best marketing strategy while sticking to a tight marketing budget. By hiring a marketing firm, startups can work with professionals that are experts in marketing, ensuring that the marketing dollars spent bring a big payoff.

Idea #8 – Partner with Other Startups

Many startups are dealing with marketing on a budget. Partnering with other startups on promotional campaigns can save money for everyone involved. While companies should avoid partnering with competitors, doing promotional campaigns with non-competing startups may offer great results. For example, if your company makes custom candy products, consider partnering with other startups that make custom products, such as custom clothing, shoes or even jewelry.

Idea #9 – Make the Most of Each Piece of Content

Make the most of each piece of content to keep your marketing expenditures low. Copy, photos, videos, layouts and illustrations can often be reused in some way. By reusing each piece of content already in place, a significant amount of money can be saved. For example, photos used in a brochure for your startup could be reused on a website or website copy could be reused in company flyers or brochures.

Idea #10 – Stick to the Budget When Hiring Creative Content

Sometimes start-ups need to hire creative content, but when doing so, stick to the company marketing budget. While it’s important to look at credentials of the individuals being hired, it’s also essential to look at their fees and whether they fit the start-up’s marketing budget. While a top photographer for a publicity photo could charge more than $1000 per day, it’s possible to find quality photographers to shoot a publicity photo for only a fraction of that cost. Whether hiring photographers, writers, consultants or other creative talent, ensure that the cost fits into the current budget.

 

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At BMGcreative, our designers and developers are often heard saying “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This can apply to a variety of things but it seems to come up most often when we’re talking about web design mistakes people should avoid.

web design mistakes

Here are a few of our favorite web design mistakes people make:

  • Just because you can use 15 fonts on one website… doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can color your fonts…doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can use JavaScript…doesn’t mean you should (always use it for the right reasons!)
  • Just because you can use a busy patterned background on your website…doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can set up an auto tweet every 15 minutes… doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can take images with your iPhone and put them on your website…doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can design your own logo with clipart…doesn’t mean you should

We could go on and on….

What about you? Are there elements of your web design or even in your overall marketing plan where you have entered into that gray area? Is your business guilty of making common design, marketing and web design mistakes in the “just because you can” category?

We see this trend a lot when a business owner tries DIY in their web design and marketing. They aren’t professional marketers or designers and they do not know exactly where to draw the line. Always remember, simple is better and often, less really is more.

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We have to consider that each day, both our current and potential clients are looking at our company and wondering “why should I choose you?” Customer Loyalty

The basics of marketing means you must understand how to differentiate your business from your competitors. It is perfectly logical to go down this path — if you cannot tell your customers what makes your business different, whether it is in terms of what you sell, how you market it or why you are doing business in the first place, then all there is left that is different would be the price. And that means they go with the cheapest – always.

Think about it from a real business perspective. Would you rather take the time to figure out from your target audience’s perspective how you are different or would you simply settle for just having the lowest price?

It all depends on your business, right? We all see Walmart having great success just by having the lowest prices. However, if you do not want to constantly be in a price war with your competitors, then you must go back to truly understanding how your business is different and what niche you fit into that helps you create that distinction. There is where you will find true customer loyalty.

You don’t have to have everyone’s business, just so long as you reach your target market with the right message at the right time. Here are some questions you can ask to help you figure out what sets you apart from your competition:

If your company disappeared tomorrow, what would be missed most of all?

With regard to your company, what do you feel passionate about?

What business is your company in?

What business is your company not in?

List three adjectives that best describe your company.

What type of people would benefit from your company’s products or services the most?

How do you prioritize your customers?

Need help defining your target audience and reaching them with the right message? BMGcreative is here to serve! Contact us to get started on your marketing – we are passionate about what we do and love to make Raving Fans of your business.

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