Posts Tagged "marketing"

What Features Do You Need on Your Website?

The right web space features can provide excitement, convenience and many other beneficial aspects for your visitors. However, the wrong features can have precisely the opposite effect. When a site is bogged down with features which don’t work properly, aren’t properly maintained or are simply in the way, visitors are likely to look elsewhere. Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to choose the best feature for your web space, along with a few which you absolutely don’t want to waste time on.

Determining the Best Features for Your Site

For nearly every site, there are a few basic features which are essential. If you run a business site of any kind, you need a reliable, trustworthy e-commerce feature to ensure smooth, easy transactions.

If you want your site to be interactive, you need a feature or features which allow for customer input. This might come in the form of a blog, a forum or a chat space – choose the feature which best reflects and complements your own unique business. Once that interactive feature is in place, be sure to maintain it properly—respond in a timely manner and ensure that it’s running well at all times.

Checking out sites which are similar to yours can be a huge time-saver when it comes to selecting features. Visit the web space of a company you are familiar with, and take a close look at which features they offer. If the company is selling a product or service which is similar to your own and is run in a similar manner, chances are good that the same features will be beneficial to your site as well. Taking a look at the most popular packaged plans can also give you a good idea of what may benefit your site. Check out the options here to get started.

Considering your target market is another very important step in choosing features. If your demographic consists of tech-savvy younger consumers, feel free to go crazy and add the most cutting-edge, up-to-date features you can find. Only add features you feel comfortable maintaining, however—those tech-savvy visitors will only be annoyed if they find a feature which isn’t running properly.

If, on the other hand, your target market spans several demographics, you must consider the possibility that many of your visitors may not be as computer-literate as you are. If you sell a product, it may be purchased as a gift—by somebody’s 90-year-old grandmother. If there’s even a chance that your site will attract visitors who are less than savvy when it comes to computer use, keep your essential features as simple as possible. You can still use any feature you think will be beneficial. Simply place the more cutting-edge features below the fold, or someplace else where they can be easily found, but where they won’t create confusion.

What You Don’t Need

Regardless of the type of web space you’re creating or maintaining, there are a couple of features you simply don’t need. They tend to annoy and turn away more customers than anything else, and they don’t have any real value.

Flash intros may be one of the most annoying features on the internet. These introductions were a great way to introduce visitors to your site and showcase your creativity—ten years ago. These days, they’re highly annoying, especially if they can’t be turned off. Ditch them if you have them, and don’t even think about creating a new one.

Auto-play video or audio is nearly as annoying as a Flash intro. We’ve all encountered these from time to time—irritating and inexplicably loud clips of sound, video or both which launch automatically when we visit a site. If you’re like most, you frantically click until you can shut them up. Don’t force your visitors through the same annoying process—avoid auto-play like the plague.

Going Mobile

One last component of your site which can’t be ignored is mobile compatibility. While it’s not technically a ‘feature,’ it’s something you need to have in order to reach more customers and keep them happy. With the increasing numbers of site visitors using smartphones and tablets, mobile compatibility is swiftly becoming a must instead of a nice ‘extra.’ If your site isn’t easily viewable on mobile devices, you’re cutting yourself off from a huge demographic of potential visitors and customers. Choosing the right features is essential to the success of your site, so start your research today and begin building the best possible web space for your business!

The Ideal Blog for Your Website

Incorporating a blog into your web space is an excellent way to generate interest and let consumers into your world. However, there are blogs which engage readers, and blogs which send them clicking away as fast as they can. Here, we’ll review the best way to construct and maintain a blog which keeps your readers coming back for more.

Short and Sweet

You’ve probably received an email or a text message in the past which consisted of a giant block of text. If you’re like most, you found it difficult and frustrating to read. Blocks of text are not informative or entertaining—they’re irritating.

When you construct your blog posts, keep this in mind. Readers are most actively and easily engaged by shorter paragraphs. Bullet points or numbered lists, if complement your topic, are another excellent way to keep information separate and easy to read. You don’t want to bore your readers—you want to inform and entertain.

Punctuation and grammar are two important points which many bloggers overlook. In this digital age, shortened words, abbreviations and ‘text speak’ are becoming more accepted. However, they should be used sparingly, if at all, in your web space. Take the time to spell-check your posts, and have a grammar-savvy friend read them over if you’re unsure of your own grammar and punctuation skills. It takes a bit of extra time, but nothing screams ‘amateur’ like a poorly spelled or improperly structured blog.

Updating Regularly

A blog isn’t much fun if it’s never updated. You certainly don’t need to detail each day of your life. However, updating once per week is a fairly standard and acceptable time frame. It’s also a time frame which allows you time to think up quality content while keeping readers up to date.

Remember that this is your web space, so don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with post topics. It’s even acceptable, on most blogs, to add personal stories. Some of the most successful bloggers frequently drop personal stories into their blogs, even radically off-topic stories. These glimpses into their personal lives allow their readers to get to know the blogger on a deeper level. They’re also a great option when you’re pressed for time and can’t think up an on-topic post!

Selling Yourself

Your blog is a place to express yourself, inform and entertain your readers and keep them current on your business. Don’t let the business aspect of your blog get lost in the rush to create entertaining content. You want to encourage customers to purchase from you again, and encourage new readers to become first-time customers. However, you also want to do it in subtle, engaging ways.

Pushy sales tactics rarely work. Instead, showcase your product or service. Include write-ups of new products on your blog, accompanied with pictures. Host a small contest with a reasonable, yet exciting prize. Do whatever it takes to get customers through your door, virtual or otherwise—just be careful not to push them away by trying too hard. A quality product or service, presented in an attractive and pressure-free manner, will sell itself. You can get started right away by checking out our top hosting pick and seeing how a well-run blog will enhance your web space.

Taking Your Web Business to the Real-World

Businesses which are solely online have become increasingly more common. If you own this type of business, you already know just how convenient they are for owners and customers alike. However, there is another dimension you may not have considered—the real-world connection. Here, we’ll review how and why bringing your product real-world will benefit your online sales.

Start Small

There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself with a massive convention in your first real-world sales attempt. In fact, trying to take on one of these huge sales can actually be a recipe for disaster. Most small business owners simply aren’t prepared for sales on such a large scale, even if they’ve been selling online for years. Instead, start small by checking out sales in your local area.

Nearly every product and service can find an appropriate local outlet. If you’re a crafter, there are many craft fairs at churches, community centers and fairs. The more digitally-inclined can also find local venues—most major cities have their own, smaller version of the big, nationally-known conventions. Graphic arts and other techno-skills are ideally suited for these smaller conventions.

Bloggers may feel that their options are more limited, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever your web space subject matter might be, there is a show, convention or fair which caters to your topic. Food bloggers can visit a variety of locations, such as farmer’s markets, cooking schools and organic homesteads. Fashion bloggers can seek out up-and-coming designers in their area. Tech bloggers can visit local conventions and find the latest and greatest local innovations. In short, there is an endless supply of potential real-world topics for every blogger, most of which are only a short drive from home.

The Main Benefit: Personal Connections

Regardless of what your online business might be, the main benefit of going real-world is the unique chance to connect personally with your customer base. People are more likely to purchase a product which they’ve had a chance to try out in person. Once they’ve met you and seen what you have to offer, they’re also more likely to feel confident trying out new products and services via your web space. Our top picks give you plenty of options on how to link real-world featured products to your site and increase those sales figures.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that real-world connections are becoming outdated in today’s society. While online shopping is hugely popular, connecting personally is a basic human instinct which will never go away. By meeting and impressing your client base in the real world, your online sales and traffic will reap the benefits. For most online small business owners, the time spent at these events is well worth it, and repaid several times over in online sales and traffic volume.

Getting Started

If the idea of taking your online business makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there’s no need to jump in all at once. Your web space will benefit from even a short visit to a farmer’s market, tech convention or fashion show. You’ll become more familiar with what works—and what doesn’t—with your target market, which is the ultimate marketing tool. Before you plan to actually sell or blog about a ‘field trip,’ take one on your own and soak up the atmosphere. Talk with vendors and customers, see what’s offered for sale, and evaluate how your own product or service stacks up. The knowledge you take away from just one event will translate into increased sales and traffic if applied properly, so get out there and start making connections!

Why Your Small Business Needs Web Space

When many small business owners take their first steps into realizing their dreams, web space is the last thing on their minds. This is understandable, but it’s also a huge mistake. Here, we’ll address why you need web space and what that site will ultimately do for you.

Real World vs. Online

A common misconception among new small business owners is that their restaurant, store or other real-world place of business will be all they need to establish themselves. Unfortunately, the days when this was true are long gone. In today’s world, where consumers can do virtually anything online, the lack of an internet presence can be a huge disadvantage. The online community has become part of the ‘real world,’ and your business needs to be a part of that world.

Consumer Trust

Years ago, it was considered a big red flag if a company did not have a phone number displayed someplace in their storefront, catalog or on their product. This displayed a lack of openness, and made many customers wary of trusting the company.

These days, the lack of a web space has precisely the same effect. Imagine that your friend stumbles across a brand-new restaurant, has an incredible dining experience and tells you about their discovery.  You’ll almost certainly look the restaurant up online. You may just be seeking directions, but there’s a good chance you’ll also want to read reviews and the menu. You’ll also be expecting, consciously or not, a few photos of the restaurant and perhaps the proprietor.

What if you found nothing? No website, no pictures, not even a Facebook page. How would you feel about trying out this new restaurant? If you’re like many diners, you might feel a bit wary, wondering precisely why there is no internet ‘evidence’ of this restaurant. Is it dodging a health-code violation from another area? In all likelihood, you would pass up the chance to check it out, sticking with a dining establishment you either know or can check out online in advance.

This pattern of thinking is true for virtually all types of businesses. Consumers have come to equate web space with a certain level of credibility. Given the simplicity of setting up a basic web page, there is no excuse for losing potential customers over the lack of a website. Browsing our recommended hosts will give you an idea of just how much a well-structured website can do for your business.

Consumer Convenience

In addition to trust, consumers greatly appreciate the extra level of convenience which a well-planned website can offer. In the case of a restaurant, they can read through the menu before they leave the house and, if necessary, make reservations online to save time. Other businesses can save customers time by offering e-commerce options, allowing them to purchase goods and services from the comfort of their own homes. These simple conveniences are huge when it comes to fostering a good relationship with consumers. As a society, we’ve become accustomed to the ease and convenience of online shopping, and no small business can afford to deny that convenience to their customers, would-be or otherwise.

Conclusion

Regardless of how small or new your business may be, you need web space. It adds to your credibility, fosters consumer trust and makes it more convenient for consumers to purchase from you. Social media sites are great additions to a business, but they can’t replace the reliable, trustworthy impression which a stand-alone website can create. Get started today. Our comparison tool is a great place to begin.

 

Stuck for Blogging Ideas?

While blogging often looks ridiculously easy to readers, bloggers know that coming up with fresh, entertaining web space content on a regular basis can be downright nerve-wracking. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t despair—you’re not the only one. Writers’ block hits bloggers just as often as authors, and it’s just as frustrating. Here, you’ll find a few ideas to jump-start your brain and get those creative ideas flowing.

Simple Fixes

Sometimes, finding fresh inspiration can be as easy as reading. Pick up a few copies of magazines devoted to—or somehow related to—your web space content. You can browse websites as well, at no cost. If your web space is more literary, consider picking up a book in a related genre.

While it’s never a good idea to simply copy ideas, reading through related material can give you fresh ideas as to what readers are seeking. If you spot an article which catches your interest, changes are good that it will do the same for your audience. Read it carefully, paying attention to what you feel is wrong with it. Next time you sit down at the keyboard, spin those missing portions for a post which is entirely your own!

Going Way Outside the Box

If you run your own blog, it’s important to remember that you can do virtually anything you want in your web space. If an idea interests you, write about it! Even something totally unrelated to your typical subject matter can be entertaining if written in a fun, engaging way. Many of the most successful bloggers around occasionally drop in personal stories, and their readers it them up.

If you’re uncomfortable talking about personal life online, or if your blog is unsuited to anything too off-topic, get creative. Grab a topic—any topic—and twist it around until it relates to your web space content. This not only enhances your craft by forcing you to think outside your comfort zone, but it entertains readers by providing a totally unexpected take on a familiar subject.

An unfamiliar, exciting format or placement for your blog is another way to set yourself apart. You’ll discover some great options at our top hosting pick, as well as our other recommended hosts.

Something for Nothing

Everybody loves the chance to win something, and there are few posts easier to write than contests. Beauty bloggers, for example, have had huge success—and massive traffic increases—by offering a bundle of beauty loot. This basic concept can be applied to virtually any subject matter, and is virtually guaranteed to interest your readers. You don’t even need a physical prize—offering to feature a reader’s own writing on your blog is a completely free yet extremely attractive way to draw traffic.

Take It Outside

Blogging, especially as a job, can be draining simply because it’s an entirely indoor activity. Humans need a bit of fresh air every day, both for health and mental reasons. Sometimes that new idea you’ve been trying so hard to think up is—quite literally—just around the corner. Take a quick stroll and let your mind wander—you may be shocked at how fast the fresh ideas start rolling in.

As you can see, there are tons of simple, cost-free ways to increase your web space traffic and break through blogger’s block. Always keep this in mind, however—staring at your computer screen and willing an idea to come almost never works. Shake things up, look around and get a fresh perspective—you’ll see the results in increased traffic!