Money Talks, But Saving Money Screams

Many marketers consider coupons to be an unnecessary drain on a brand’s resources and steer clear of them entirely.  Some brands avoid coupons because they negate the brand positioning and have little or no impact on their bottom line. Luxury brands come under this school of thought. By and large, however, most brands succumb to the fast returns that coupons offer and use them extensively as part of their marketing strategy.

After all, most people like a good discount. In a recent study, 4 out of 5 shoppers stated they regularly use coupons for their shopping.

Are these brands indulging in quick-fix marketing or is there a deeper reasoning behind adopting coupons as a regular tactic? If coupons and deal-seeking behavior are so deeply ingrained in the psyche of users, does that mean that brands have become irrelevant in the chase for the deepest discount? Is loyalty dead, as is predicted by some experts?

Let’s find out.

Types of Coupons

Coupons can be of various types depending on the purpose that they are meant to fulfill. Some of the commonly used coupon types include…

  • Price off
  • Percentage off
  • Buy one, get one
  • Free shipping
  • Free complimentary products
  • Bulk-purchase discounts

How Coupons Affect Our Behavior

We know that shoppers love a discount or a coupon. However, what transpires when a shopper gets a coupon and others don’t is interesting.

Dr. Paul J. Zak from the Claremont Graduate University conducted a study in which some shoppers at a grocery store were given $10 coupons. The neurological effects of receiving a coupon were then studied by Dr. Zak and his team.

The results were surprising.

Compared to shoppers who did not receive any coupons, shoppers who received coupons showed 38% higher levels of the “happiness hormone” (oxytocin). Their stress levels were markedly lower with 32% lower respiration rates and 5% lower heart rates than the other shoppers.

It is logical to extrapolate from this data that users who experience happiness after using a coupon would associate this happiness with the product they purchased, thus making them favorably predisposed to such a brand.

Brand preference is also strengthened greatly by the availability of coupons. Some 44% of consumers from a survey found that coupons were extremely important in their final brand choice.

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The same study also showed that 68% of users buy familiar brands using coupons. That means coupon usage and brand loyalty are positively co-related.

Moreover, that percentage indicates that a coupon program that customers value is a good way to get shoppers to come back over and over again.

Using Coupons Effectively

Scott Gerber of the Youth Entrepreneurship Council talked about the various ways in which coupons can be used by leading online retailers. Some of the strategies described include rewarding Facebook fans, breaking through the clutter of competition, giving a push to your affiliate strategy, or even just writing off a coupon as a customer acquisition cost.

But coupons don’t always have to be about offering the lowest price possible. In a lot of cases, just convincing the user that your price to value proposition is awesome is made easier using an appropriate discount or coupon. Your prices may not be the lowest in the market, but the perceived value of the product after the discount is applied becomes much higher than a deeper discount offered by a competitor on a lower-quality product.

Coupons or discounts can encourage customers to do the following.

Test new products

Entering a market that has established players already can be an uphill task for the strongest of brands. A good way to attract attention and encourage trials is to offer a price incentive for a short period of time. The key here is to not convert couponing into a sustained practice—but to use it as a time-bound promotion to generate trials and create a base of users familiar with your product.

Buy often, buy larger quantities

Bulk purchase coupons can encourage customers to buy large quantities at one go to avail a lower price. From the seller’s perspective, their doing so helps move stock. It also helps get users hooked on your product. Using the same product multiple times can be habit-forming.

By forcing a customer to buy a large quantity at one go, a brand forces him or her to use the product over and over again, thus forming a habit for the product. This is an investment towards future sales.

Another type of coupon is a frequency-based coupon (e.g., a coupon that offers 10% off on the total shopping amount if the user shops a minimum of three times in one week at the store). Just as customers develop habits by repeatedly using the same product over and over again, getting a user to shop over and over again at your store to qualify for a discount on the final purchase is a habit-forming practice.

Inspire a customer-service gesture

Customer service does not only have to be about solving a customer’s problems. It can also be about customer delight. Setting aside a few coupon codes for your customer care and front-desk staff enables them to surprise users with a coupon that stands in for a physical “thank you.”

Besides offering a disgruntled customer the solution to a problem, offering a coupon ensures that he or she is pacified at the moment. It also ensures that a bad experience does not sour his or her equation with a brand and that returns at least to redeem the coupons given.

* * *
Deal-seeking behavior is a huge factor in shoppers’ purchase behavior, but that is not the only factor that motivates a user. Deals can be used to positively influence certain types of behaviors successfully, which may never have been possible without a real-world incentive.

Interested in trying online and printable coupons for your small business?  Check out our client The Coupon Mafia

CloudFlare: To Serve & Protect

We get asked often how we protect your website from Hackers, I.D. Thieves, Viruses, Malware and other types of attacks on your website, email and servers.  The simple answer, we use CloudFlare.

Now for a more detailed explanation.

CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through their intelligent global network. Cloudflare automatically optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. They also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.

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CloudFlare’s system gets faster and smarter as our community of users grows larger. CloudFlare has designed the system to scale with their goal in mind: helping power and protect the entire Internet.

CloudFlare can be used by anyone with a website and their own domain, regardless of your choice in platform. From start to finish, setup takes most website owners less than 5 minutes. Adding your website requires only a simple change to your domain’s DNS settings. There is no hardware or software to install or maintain and you do not need to change any of your site’s existing code. If you are ever unhappy you can turn CloudFlare off as easily as you turned it on. Their core service is free and they offer enhanced services for websites who need extra features like real time reporting or SSL.

Who’s using CloudFlare?

More than 2,000,000 websites and growing. Below is just a sample of the many customers from diverse number of industries using the service. CloudFlare is on a mission to build a better Internet and they offer the simplest way to a safer and faster website.

cloudflarecloudflare

You can read more about their services HERE

 

 

 

 

Social Media Marketing Tips

1. Do join a conversation by using the native hashtag.

As a brand, make it a point to join the conversation with the most organic hashtag your users are already using. This can be a chance to strengthen your brand loyalty and have your followers and fans feel acknowledged.

2. Do use Hashtags on all platforms.

It’s not just a Twitter thing; honest. Developing a hashtag that can be used on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for instance, can help you widen your reach, while also continuing the conversation across all platforms. So, instead of pushing away your audience you’re encouraging them to continue the conversation wherever they feel the most comfortable doing so.

3. Do use hashtags to engage with your fans and followers (signal and noise quote).

“Social media is a source of a whole lot of noise, use [hashtags] as a way to create signal… not add to the noise.” And it makes sense. You don’t want your brand to become an annoyance to followers, you want to guide the conversation and encourage engagement.

4. Don’t add hashtags to every single word.

Adding as many hashtags to your sentence doesn’t add in any extra value for your follower. Actually, it does the opposite by making your dialogue on social media feel forced and too marketed.

5. Don’t use inaccurate hashtags (‪#‎spam‬)
It’s social media’s version of spam. Really, it’s one of the ways to isolate current and potential followers all at once. Use relevant hashtags that are in line with your voice on social media and one your followers will acknowledge.

Facebook’s Stealth Local Search Project

Facebook appears to be taking direct aim at local search companies like Yelp and Google by offering listings of local businesses and services, complete with user reviews. The new feature is designed for desktop-only but will work for mobile users (it’s not mobile optimized yet) and hasn’t been announced by Facebook, Here’s what you’ll find:

Visitors to Professional Services are presented first with a page that has their current location pre-selected. Searches can be made within that area by typing into a dialog box that serves up business categories like plumbers, dentists, photographers, beauty salons, pharmacies, pizza places and so on.

fbservices1

 

There are at least 85 business types in an “Explore other services” section, and even more suggestions appear when you start typing into the search box. Need a recommendation for a taxidermist? Or the the best place to pick up supplies for a carnival? Facebook might be able to help, linking listings for the more than 50 million businesses that have Facebook Pages with people’s reviews.

categories

Search results are displayed in a way that takes Facebook’s five-star rating system into account, but results aren’t strictly ranked by how many stars a business averages. Given Facebook’s deep knowledge of individual preferences, results are likely customized for users depending on their previous interactions with a business’s Page or whether someone they are connected with has reviewed a business on Facebook (We saw slightly different results when we were logged into Facebook compared to when we searched while logged out).

The results page displays businesses’ contact information and hours of business, and excerpts of reviews (with a link to see more reviews on the business’s Facebook Page). The services results page also includes a map that shows where businesses are located and links to similar businesses in adjacent areas.

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People can also explore other areas in the feature pretty much anywhere on the planet. Users can seek out the highest-rated hotels, or search for the best pizza as long as there are reviews and ratings on Facebook for the business.

It’s not clear how Facebook Professional Services may integrate with Facebook Places, the social network’s local search directory that provides people a way to explore geographic locations through the eyes of Facebook friends and strangers. Some believe that Places could be a potential Yelp killer, if only Facebook promoted it more and, crucially, made it available on mobile devices. Now, Facebook might have two Yelp killers in the works.

We’ve sent an email to Facebook asking for comments and will update if we hear more.

Need An Estimate?

Most Web Developers (including us) have a questionnaire we have you fill out so we can get a better idea of what your needs are before quoting you a price on designing your website. While this is an indispensable tool for developers, it’s a pain for those who are price shopping before actually contacting a developer.

Enter Quick Estimate

Quick Estimate is a new tool in the arsenal at Perihelion Web Design, it allows potential clients to pick the base features and needs for their website and give them an immediate estimate on what their site may cost based on the chosen options. Once you’ve finished the process, the tool presents you with the final estimated price and the option to have the estimated cost emailed to you and submit any questions you may have.

We’ll still provide you with the option to fill out the long form for a detailed quote for your project, but the Quick Estimate will give you a good starting point.

Keep in mind that this tool gives you an estimate of the cost of your website. This price is an estimate and the actual cost may be either higher or lower than estimated by this tool. We will contact you with additional questions and send you a final cost for development of your website.

You can check out our new Quick Estimate Tool and see for yourself.

Why Shopping Local Is Worth Every Cent

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Promote Black Friday & Cyber Monday Offers With AdWords Structured Snippet Headers

The extensions can start showing starting November 20

This post originally appeared on SearchEngine Land written by Ginny Marvin

Google has added two new short-term headers for structured snippet extensions designed to help merchants promote Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers in their AdWords ads.

Structured snippet extension headers for Black Friday will be eligible to appear in ads November 20– 27, which is that Friday. Cyber Monday headers can appear November 20–30. During the overlap period, Black Friday headers will trump those set up for Cyber Monday.

Here are some examples from Google of how these headers and snippets might look:

  • Black Friday: Stores open at 6 a.m.
  • Black Friday: 25% off electronics
  • Cyber Monday: 10% off sitewide
  • Cyber Monday: Free shipping on $50+ orders

Advertisers just have to enter one offer in the snippet, unlike most structured snippets, which require multiple values.

black-friday-structured-snippet

Structured snippets can be set at the account, campaign or ad group level.

This is the second push this week by Google to promote merchant offers during the holiday surge. On Tuesday, Google launched a new test that lets consumers subscribe to text alerts for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or holiday deals when they search on related terms.

50 Reasons Why Having A “Free Website” Is A Bad Idea

Do a Google search for “free website” and you’ll get back pages of results, all offering you a quick and easy solution for building your website without spending a cent. Interestingly enough, Google itself is giving away free domains and websites for a year.

Sound too good to be true? Often it is – without wanting to come across as too cynical, whenever someone is offering you something for free, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself, “what’s in it for them?”

Many have fallen prey to the lure of free websites over the years and lived to regret their decisions. I don’t want you to fall into the same trap so I’ve compiled 50 reasons why you shouldn’t have a free website that you may not have considered:

  1. It looks unprofessional. Whether you’re marketing yourself or your business, having a website address like coolwidgets.myfreewebsite.com is not going to make a great first impression.
  2. “Free” doesn’t always mean free forever. It’s become common practice for businesses to lure in customers under the “freemium” model. This involves providing a service for free initially and then starting charging a few months down the road. By that point you’ll have got used to using the service and it’ll be a hassle to change so you’ll probably just pay up.
  3. If they start charging later, it’s not likely to be cheap. One of the other tricky aspects of these freemium services is that they often work out to be more expensive than just using a paid service in the first place. As they’ve already got your custom by drawing you in with a free trial, they don’t need to compete on price as much as other website providers.
  4. You lose ownership of your content. Using a free website service is like renting instead of buying a house, except you’re not even paying rent. While you can add lots of great content to your website and make it look beautiful, you never really own it – the provider does.
  5. They might even use your content. It’s unthinkable that you would be renting a house for free without providing something for the owner. The same goes for a free website and in some cases, the content you upload is considered “payment” for hosting it. Make sure you check the small print – once you’ve uploaded content to a site, it’s possible that you’ve agreed to give up your ownership rights.
  6. Your site could go down at any time. As you don’t really own your website, you have no control over it being live. Your host can decide to pull your site at any time and don’t have to give you any warning.
  7. You have no control over your site going down. Free hosts are notorious for pulling websites for a host of dubious reasons and no matter how much you protest, they don’t have to put it back up. Once it does go down, your content is probably gone for good – or they’ll charge you to bring it back.
  8. If your site goes down, you’ll also lose your domain. If you had a website like coolwidgets.myfreewebsite.com you’re probably not sobbing over the loss of your domain anyway. But with your domain, also goes any SEO benefit that you’ve built up over time. If you had a decent page rank or page authority, you’ll have to start from scratch.
  9. You can’t set up automatic redirection. When you host your own site, it is possible to retain the SEO benefit of an old domain when you move to a new one by setting up a 301 redirect. This is not possible on free sites, so if you move your site, you’ll have to include a link for your visitors to manually click to get to your new site, as well as losing all your domain metrics.
  10. Your site may be plastered with advertising. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s unlikely that anyone will give you a free website out of the goodness of their heart. No, they want to make money, and one of the ways of doing this is by sticking advertising banners in the premium space on your site. This not only looks ugly in most cases, but you may even end up advertising one of your competitors.
  11. Your site may be used in a link farm. Selling links is another easy way for website owners to make money. If you have a free website and the provider has sold links on it, you’re putting yourself at risk of Google penalties and even being de-indexed.
  12. It may be vulnerable to hackers. Security is often not of the utmost concern to free website providers so don’t be too surprised if you’re the victim of a hacker. Not only is it difficult to secure a website on free hosting, but restoring it can be a huge pain and you may well lose data.
  13. You’ll have limited disk space. Free services are almost always limited in terms of disk space (because it costs money). If you upload a lot of photos or videos, you could find you’ve reached your limit in no time at all.
  14. Bandwidth is limited. For the same reason, free websites usually have quite strict bandwidth restrictions. If you suddenly have an influx of traffic or you host a lot of videos on your site, expect your site to be pulled without warning for going over its bandwidth limit.
  15. Sites may be limited to a certain number of pages. Another common limitation in the world of free websites is number of pages. Think you can live with a 3-page site? You may end up frustrated when you want to expand.
  16. Moving your site is a hassle. Free services often make it incredibly difficult and time consuming to move your site. This is especially true when they’re trying to get you to upgrade to a paid service – they hope that you’ll find it so hard to move your site that you’ll just stick with their service, and in many cases this is exactly what people do.
  17. Site visitors may doubt your credibility. If you’re trying to run a business from a free website, forget it. Would you buy anything off a free website?
  18. Your design options are limited. Free websites usually come with a limited number of templates and you don’t have the option to create your own design.
  19. They’re difficult to customize. Sometimes you may be able to change the colors or fonts on a template or theme and upload a header graphic, but that’s about as far as it goes.
  20. You can’t add additional features. If you want to add some useful plugins to your site or set up an online store with shopping cart, you’re probably out of luck. Free websites are usually limited to the basics and you’ll have to pay up if you want to upgrade.
  21. Your ability to do SEO is limited. As you can’t really get into the backend of a free website, any on-site SEO you can do is limited to including keywords in your titles and content. Want total control? If you end up using WordPress to power your website (which we highly recommend) you should definitely checkout the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
  22. Search engines give less priority to free domains. Free websites are usually considered to be less important and come up lower in the listings. Whole domains may even be penalized if there are a lot of websites on them considered to be spam (which is a high probability for a free service).
  23. No branded email address. As you don’t have your own domain, you also don’t have a branded email address. This looks rather unprofessional.
  24. Limited or nonexistent help for setup. Confused when you’re trying to set up your site? You’d better hope there’s a good support forum. Support staff are expensive so free site providers often don’t hire them.
  25. Limited or nonexistent help when you have problems. For the same reasons, don’t bother looking for a number to call when your website is down. You’ll just have to wait for it to come back up (if it ever does).
  26. You could lose your domain name. If you opt for a package that comes with a free domain name, you may think this is a good deal as it looks more professional. That’s fine until the time comes when you want to move your site and realize you don’t own your domain. You’ll usually have the option of buying it back at a premium price.
  27. You can’t make money from your website. Thinking about making a bit of extra cash by putting adverts on your website? Check the site rules and you’ll probably find this is forbidden – if there’s any money to be made off your site, it certainly won’t be coming to you.
  28. Other websites will look the same. The problem with having a free template website is that there are hundreds of other people all using the same design. Don’t expect your site to look any different from all the rest.
  29. Backups are difficult. When you have a self-hosted website it’s easy to backup your files by making sure they’re saved to your computer or by using a backup service. With free websites this is less easy and it’s often impossible to backup properly at all.
  30. Someone could steal your website. I already mentioned that security is often lacking on free services. As well as making your site vulnerable from hacking attacks, this also means it’s easy for people to steal your whole website. If you let your user account expire, it’s usually the case that someone else can register it again straight away, stealing all your traffic in the process.
  31. They make you look like a cheapskate. As well as just looking unprofessional in general, using a free site shows you aren’t willing to invest any money in your business. Who wants to work with someone who scrimps on the basic business essentials?
  32. Free sites are ugly. Those free templates aren’t only incredibly common, they’re also not usually the best example of great design. Stick a few advertising banners on top and you end up with one ugly website.
  33. They’re difficult to delete. The internet never forgets and there are many hundreds of people haunted by a free website they set up in their teens and now can’t get rid of. Don’t be one of them.
  34. They look childish. If you’re 12, this is fine. If you’re not, get a real website.
  35. You can’t use custom error pages. With WordPress and other self-hosted websites, it’s possible to set up custom error messages so you can direct lost visitors to files they may be looking for and other useful things. With free websites you’re stuck with the default error messages.
  36. Analytics are limited or nonexistent. In order to grow your website, it’s important to know how many people are visiting your site and where they are coming from. With free websites it’s common for this information to be limited or for there to be no analytics available at all.
  37. You can’t move your template to a new platform. Even if you like your common, ugly, free theme, you can’t take it with you when you move. If you want to move your website, you’ll have to create a new design.
  38. There’s no guaranteed uptime. You’re not paying for anything so the provider owes you nothing. If they’re unreliable and your website is down every 10 minutes, there’s no point in even trying to complain.
  39. Your details may be insecure. As well as your site being vulnerable to attack, your personal details may well also be at risk. There have been a number of high-profile cases where hackers have gained access to lists of users from free services including names, emails, dates of birth, addresses and even credit card numbers.
  40. You may be bothered with emails and upsells. It’s a common practice in online marketing to give away something free in order to get your email. They’ll then continue to bombard you with emails trying to sell you products and other services. Often unsubscribing means that you’ll lose your website.
  41. The owners may sell your contact details. As well as using your email for their own purposes, it’s not unheard of for companies to sell lists to other marketing companies. Make sure you read the small print and that your details aren’t being sold on.
  42. They encourage you to be lazy. Free website builders may be easy to use but learning how to do something yourself is rarely a bad thing. Self hosted websites and platforms like WordPress are great to help you learn how to build your own websites so you can make changes yourself and fix things when they go wrong.
  43. Free websites often load slowly. Your site will likely be on a server with thousands of other websites, also sharing bandwidth and resources. If it crawls along at a snail’s speed, you’ll know why.
  44. They’re not responsive. Want a responsive design that works well on mobile phones and tablets? You’ll be lucky to find one on a free website.
  45. They’re difficult to fix when something goes wrong. As you can’t get into the backend of hosted websites and support for free services is limited, you’ll probably be stuck for ideas if your website breaks. Another common trick of these “free” services is to provide premium support for when things do go wrong so your free site could become surprisingly expensive
  46. File uploading is limited. While you can upload files to a self-hosted site via FTP, with free services you’ll usually be limited to a web-based interface. These are often a pain to use and very limited so you may only be able to upload one file at a time or files that are within a certain size.
  47. There’s no way to stop people stealing your images. If you’re an artist or photographer, you should seriously think twice about using a free website. Not only may your images become property of the provider on upload, but there’s also no way to stop other people from hotlinking them as you would with a plugin or editing your .htaccess file on a self-hosted WordPress site.
  48. They may be run by unethical corporations. As I’ve pointed out several times, these free services are out to make money, not to do good deeds. You may well be supporting a somewhat undesirable business.
  49. They have a bad track record. Scores of free website services have come and gone over the years. Remember Geocities? The chances are that if you host your website on a free service, it won’t be around for very long.
  50. They’re just not cool! Having a free website won’t do anything for your image or your online street cred, so just put your hand in your pocket and hand over the few dollars a month it costs for a fully hosted site – you’ll thank me later!

So there you have it – 50 reasons why you should ignore that tempting offer of a 100% free-for-life website and back away from the computer. Free websites may be fine for your grandmother to upload her crochet patterns or for a temporary school project when you’re 9, but for anything else, forget it.

You may be wondering if free websites aren’t the answer, what is? Well, there are some paid website services which are worth considering, but most of them suffer from at least some of the problems we’ve discussed with free websites.

The ideal solution, which offers you complete control and customization is to have a self-hosted website on a platform like WordPress. Not only can you make your site look and work exactly how you want it to, but you also keep complete ownership of your content and have full control over security and backups.

Why Small Business Owners Shouldn’t Design Their Own Websites

You’re a small business owner who has invested years–decades–into your business.  You’ve ridden out the changes and stayed successful.  You know your business model, your industry, and your customers.

Now you need a new website design.  A picture develops in your mind of how you’ll convey all you’ve been through, all you know.  Your business is your pride and joy…so your website will be emblematic of your knowledge, your professionalism, your journey, your vision.

Your.

Here is the problem: your small business website is not really about you.  It’s not for you.

You are not the target audience for your website.  Your prospective clients are.

Think of Your Target Audience

No matter what the industry, product, or service, there is one consistent truth about a small business website:  the primary target audience are people being introduced to your business.  You’re making a first impression.

And at this point, they don’t care much about you.  They don’t care about why you started your business or the challenges you overcame to get where you are.  They don’t care that you believe you are the best.

The question on their mind is:  What’s in it for me?  They have a problem they need solved, and they want to see if you can solve it.  Online searchers are motivated totally by self-interest.

Successful SMB websites target these needs.  They embrace the self-interest of the visitor and accommodate it in every way possible.  They make an irresistible offer that grabs the visitors attention and makes them feel they’ve really found the best option out there.

Designing for Conversion

A website built around user experience converts far better than a business-centric site.  A website that speaks directly to the needs of the target audience converts better than a business site that talks about itself.

Which brings us back to the involvement of you, the business owner, in the website design process.

At first you probably think your input and vision are the most important for the project.  You know far more about your business than anyone–this is your baby.

Which entirely the problem.  The perspective you need to communicate to is that of someone who is totally new to your business.  You want to put yourself into the shoes of someone who is looking at your business for the first time.

As a business owner who has invested decades of your life into your business, you are the least objective person there is about your business.  By the nature of your position, you have the hardest time looking at your business from a totally fresh perspective.

This exposes you to one of the biggest traps when designing websites:  small business owners who can’t get out of their own way.

They obsess over minor details that will do nothing to help the site convert.  Every image, color, font, layout has to be just so.  Copy is stilted, wordy, and boring. These project often take 3-5 times longer to complete.  The result is a bloated, business-centric site filled with content that is irrelevant to everyone except the business owner.

6 months later they wonder why their website converts poorly.

How to Avoid Building a Business-Centric SMB Website Design

So how can you avoid creating a business website that is the bore at a party who hogs the conversation?

  • Collaborate.  Work with a website designer who understands online conversion goals and listen to them.  Talk to existing clients and ask them about what drew them to you when they first engaged your business.  Get fresh eyes on design mock-ups and listen to the impressions of people looking at your content for the first time.
  • Conversions.  Here is the rule:  Design your business website around lead-generation goals.  All content should support these goals.
  • Simplicity.  A business website is not a work of art.  It’s not your first-born child. It’s a tool.  Simple, clean designs that make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for do the best.

Your website is important in defining your company identity and conveying your value proposition.  As the business owner, you have a lot to contribute in these areas.

But don’t micro-manage your website design project to fit your personal vision.  You’ll waste time, get frustrated, and end-up with a site that more about you and less about the job it’s supposed to do.

Contact us today and get a Free Quote from a Professional Designer.

Why your Brick-and-Mortor Store needs a website

In the mid-1990s, smart, forward-thinking businesses were asking some valid questions about whether to explore this new world called “The Internet.” Since the World Wide Web as we know it was still in its infancy, business owners were wise to be a little cautious about committing resources to something unproven that also threatened to disrupt traditional commerce methods.

Even analysts were hesitant early on—Newsweek columnist Clifford Stoll had nothing but disdain for the brave new online world in a 1995 piece. Economist Paul Krugman also speculated in 1998 that the Internet would grow slowly and never catch on as a serious business tool any more than the fax machine. Boy were they wrong.

This new model meant that people no longer had to visit a brick-and-mortar store in order to shop or browse. They wouldn’t see the great displays, and shop owners suddenly found that business was more competitive, since consumers now had easy access to products from anywhere in the world. Embracing the concept required a shift in thinking, spending, and merchandising for small business owners.

So while it was probably wise to be a little cautious and take a wait-and-see approach back then, these days more and more business leaders are concluding that being an online hold-out may cost you money. In fact, 93 percent of purchases begin with an online search, which means that without a website, you only have access to seven percent of the existing market.

You can see how having a website can help people in your community find your business. And that isn’t the only benefit. Here’s our list for why having a website for your business is an absolute must:

24/7 Exposure. Why put an end to shopping opportunities at six p.m.? Your brick-and-mortar location has “office” hours and people who wish to make a purchase or simply have questions will have to accommodate this schedule. But the convenience of a website, especially one that offers e-commerce, is that people can take care of their business on their own time. They can browse, shop, read your FAQs or send you an email—all while you’re sleeping or enjoying dinner out with your family. So quite simply, the more exposure you have, the better chance you have of making a sale.

New Customers. You probably have loyal shoppers who live or work in the neighborhood, but you are missing out on a whole other world of potential customers just because they don’t live in your zip code. Even if you distribute flyers, advertise in the local papers, and send out email blasts, you’re still limited to the customers you know, their friends and family, and other locals. Having a website allows you to tap into a national or international market that is already out there and grow your customer base—not to mention increase sales.

Easy and Cost-efficient. Sure, web design used to be complex when people had to calculate their own color values and program each element of a page. But these days there are plenty of free, do-it-yourself website builders, not to mention a slew of tutorials for all skill levels. WordPress offers thousands of drag-and-drop templates so all you have to do is find one that you like and enter your business’ information. Once you feel a little more comfortable with this basic set-up, you can look into plug-ins, which are smaller programs that can be added to your WordPress page to further customize it. BusinessNewsDaily suggests some other tools to improve your organization, including ways to make your website show up in searches better—which means more traffic to your e-commerce site.

Credibility. Research shows that 89 percent of today’s shoppers prefer to shop online over at a store for the convenience, and the younger generation may even be suspicious of a business’ lack of online presence. Including a website in your branding strategy gives you the credibility that consumers are looking for when they are at the point of purchase. Your website should include a blog where you (or someone you hire) writes posts about your product, service or industry in a way that makes you an expert and the go-to website for information or tips. This furthers your reputation and gives you more credibility, which can, in turn, lead to more sales.

Pre-sell Products. With a website, it’s easy to pre-sell your products that are still in the production process. All you need is one or two quality photos, an alluring description, and an availability date. Get people excited about your new product well before it ever hits the shelves, and gather the customers’ pre-sell orders through your website. Keep in mind that an online presence doesn’t exclude a brick-and-mortar shop; you can always allow shoppers to place the order online but encourage them to pick it up at your location. This is a clever way to get people into the store and create a reputation for being a business with stellar online and offline service.

Stay Current. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 470,000 small businesses close every year. This means that today’s mom-and-pop store owner needs to be a marketer, a social media strategist, a PR expert, a skilled salesperson—and, of course, have a top-notch product to sell. While this may sound like a lot, it is easier to do when you have a website, because much of it is taken care for you. For example, building a website with WordPress makes it simple to optimize your site with keywords for high search engine ranking (marketing), link up to all your social media accounts (social strategy), and include quality photos that, with your eye-catching product description, is sure to draw in customers (sales).

In conclusion, having a website for your store will lead directly to increased sales. So build or commission a website for your mom-and-pop shop and enable more people in your area to discover your local, personalized, in-store service!

Request your Free Quote and see how having a Website for your Brick-and-Mortor Store can help you.