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That’s so 2009…How to know if it’s time to redesign your website

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Here at SRC Technology Solutions, we are currently in the process of redesigning our company website (new site coming very soon!), so I thought this would be an interesting topic to share and comment on.  If you are a business owner/manager and you are curious about whether you need to redesign your website, the REAL answer should be provided by feedback you receive from others.  What does that mean?  Here’s a quick exercise…

Ask your 3-5 most trusted employees to critique your website.  Next, ask the newest employee (or least knowledgeable about your company) to critique your website.  And finally, ask a few people outside of the company who you believe would be similar to your target audience to critique your website.  The results should tell you whether its time to make a change. 

Here are the questions/topics you should ask in order to get the right feedback:

  • Do you feel the current website  promotes a favorable user experience?
  • Can web visitors easily navigate to the most crucial information within 3 clicks?
  • Is the website engaging and interactive, or is it more like a brochure or billboard?
  • How well does the website aesthetic project the company image & personality?
  • How strong is the company logo and branding, and how well is it incorporated into the website?
  • What business objectives and/or end results does the business want to accomplish with web visitors, and how effective is the website in accomplishing this? (online sales, leads generation, customer service, etc)
  • Would you return to this website often?  For what reasons?
  • What shortcomings exist and what would you change?

The answers to these questions should give you a pretty clear picture of whether it’s time to redesign or not. 

The last consideration should be whether or not your site is equipped to participate in the social internet (web 2.0).  Billboard/brochure style websites of years past vs. current web 2.0 sites would be comparable in today’s world to a movie rental store vs. Netflix, a paperback book vs. Kindle, a landline telephone vs. a 3G smartphone, or a Walkman vs. an iPad.  I’m alluding to an entity with very basic limited capabilities compared to something that is dynamic, expandable, and interactive.  If you are OK with sitting back and hoping potential customers find your website and are able to sift through enough of the static information that they decide to take action and go out of their way to contact you without first being persuaded away by a distraction or more enticing alternative, then you don’t need to worry about adapting to new technology and a changing business environment.  If, on the other hand, you are interested in exploring the world of a website that is optimized to engage in the social internet, your business will reap these rewards:

  • Keep visitors coming back again and again with consistently new, fresh, and updated content on your website.
  • Educate, entertain, and stay engaged with your web visitors with blog articles, pictures, and newsletters.
  • Increase your search engine rankings (SEO) by building a wealth of relevant content associated with your industry.
  • Encourage purchases or inbound requests by providing clear “next step” calls-to-action from each page of your site.
  • Establish yourself as an industry leader by adopting new technology and providing relevant content to your audience.
  • Enable your sales and marketing team to be more successful with a powerful online resource to back them up.

The bottom line is this…your website should be something you are proud of.  Think of it as your online “storefront” that will either persuade or dissuade potential and existing customers to or from engaging in a relationship with your business.  If your website is like that questionable relative that you’re embarrassed to introduce your friends to, it’s time for a change.  Your website can potentially win more curious shoppers than your actual place of business can.  It can communicate to more people, more quickly, and in a way that is completely up to you.  And this is really the infancy of the internet, e-commerce, and social networking…who knows where it will be in 5 years.  What we do know is that the adoption rate of technology among the consuming public is astounding, and it is gaining steam not slowing down. 

My advice is to constantly be a part of the change in business and society and not to wait for what you think may be a “safe” time.  It’s much, much harder to catch up to a wave when you’re swept under the ocean, than to get on your board and enjoy the ride.

Be sure to join the conversation by adding comments below!!!

If you would like to meet and review your current website and web strategy with no cost or obligation, please call or email:

Josh Davis, Technology Strategist – (423) 267-0588 – joshd@srctechnology.com

SRC Technology Solutions

No online billboards – proactive website marketing basics

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Online billboards?

A sad business trend I’ve recently observed is that most companies are falling behind the technology curve on internet marketing and e-commerce.  As the way society uses the internet evolves, many businesses struggle to adapt to the new opportunities that are created.  The internet is no longer used as an information resource, where people merely hop from site to site gathering facts.  In those days, having a brochure or billboard style website was all you needed (we’re in the process of redesigning all of our sites).  As long as you had an “About” page with your company profile and history, and a “Contact” page with your location and contact information, you were in business.  Some websites were advanced enough to offer a simple e-commerce function where shoppers could view product/service information and either make the purchase online or by contacting the business.  These “online billboards” or brochure style websites are now quickly becoming a thing of the past.  So the question is, “where are things going?”

The social internet

The internet has become and is still evolving toward a completely social place.  Web surfers no longer want to just absorb information…they want to interact.  When it comes to e-commerce, internet consumers want to “experience” a business online and be able to get product reviews, recommendations from friends/family, and see comments from others who have done business with a company or used their product.  If your website was designed more than a year ago and hasn’t been upgraded, it probably has little to no potential to engage these consumers.  Your website should no longer be viewed as a billboard…that would be like using an iPhone as a paperweight.  Your website should be treated like a department inside your company (or as an employee for very small companies).  This department should be included in every marketing campaign your company launches, and should be actively encouraging and enabling purchases of your products/services.  It should help consumers identify the need for your products/services, demonstrate the solutions your products/services offer, advise on how to use your products/services and the benefits the consumer will experience, and then immediately proceed to the purchase function.  The relationship doesn’t stop there.  Your website should also offer existing clients a customer service portal, allow for feedback from them for research and product development, connect them to other clients, and encourage repeat purchases, upgrades, accessories, etc.

What can my company do right now?

Here are my suggestions on things your company can begin doing immediately to impact your business in 2011.  Some of these suggestions are free or very inexpensive, and some can be quite expensive depending on the complexity, but you can be certain that there will be a significant ROI associated with almost any investment you make on improving your internet marketing and e-commerce.

1.  Invest 30 mins/day on social networking – Cost:  $0 (time only).  At the very least, start a Facebook account and a page for your business and begin actively promoting it and connecting to as many people as you can.  People like doing business with people, and interacting with your community on Facebook will allow people to see past your company name and connect to you and your employees on a personal level.  Let people get to know you and your personality.  Who are you more likely to do business with…someone you hardly know or someone you know and like?  When you get the hang of it, expand your networking to LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social sites.

2.  Begin a marketing list or enhance your existing one – Cost:  $0 to $50/mo (depending on database software) – How many people interact with your business that you never get a name or contact information from?  Your website should be generating contacts for your marketing list on a regular basis.  If it’s not, then you probably don’t have an appropriate web form and call-to-action to encourage signups.  Your call-to-action should have prominent placement on basically every page of your website.  You should have customer information sheets in your store or office that every person who comes in is encouraged to fill out.  You should request (as applicable) their company name, contact name, mobile number, work number, email, physical address, preferred contact method, birthday, plus other information as it relates to your business such as product interests, products owned, industry, job title, etc.  The database you build becomes a list of contacts, leads, opportunities, and accounts.  You can market to your list in multiple ways at various times.  Send an email campaign announcing your new company website, send a direct mailer promoting your special internet-only sale, send a written invitation to attend your company open-house, make phone calls to invite people to an exclusive new product “sneak peek”, the possibilities are endless!  You can accomplish this with little to no cost, but I highly recommend a quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.  At SRC Technology we use, highly recommend, and sell Microsoft Dynamics CRM (contact me for info), but numerous possibilities exist including Excel, ACT!, Salesforce, Constant Contact, and others.

3.  Start a blog and newsletter – Cost:  $0 (unless you use paid services for email campaigns) – You should blog for 2 reasons…to entertain and to educate.  Offer information about your products/services that people can’t get anywhere else.  Tell funny stories about the things that happen around your store or office.  Develop case studies that demonstrate how your products/services benefit a specific customer base.  Be creative and make sure when you post your blogs you promote them on your social media sites and either send them out as an e-newsletter, or include links to them in your regular e-newsletters or email campaigns.

4.  Get a new website – Cost:  $2,000 to as much as you want to spend – If you really want to take your internet experience to the next level and be a leader in your industry that is prepared for the changing economy and shifts in consumer behavior, you will need a new website.  Have your website built on a content management system (CMS) that gives your company the ability to update your web content, add or remove pages, host and maintain your blog, automatically create site taxonomy and SEO, implement search functionality, post polls and surveys, create smart forms, allow for e-commerce with suggestive selling and product reviews, have a forum for people to post comments on various topics, easily post documents for view or download, and more.  At SRC Technology, we build on the Ektron CMS, which is the most powerful solution we’ve found.  Ektron is used by Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Nasdaq, and more than 8,000 other companies.  The Ektron CMS provides our clients a completely supported platform so that they’ll never have to worry about getting stuck with a website that becomes outdated or obsolete.

5.  Build web traffic – Cost:  $0 (or discretionary for new campaigns) – In order for you to proactively market from your website, you have to have people who go there.  The first way you can accomplish this is to include your website on all your future advertising and marketing.  Display it prominently on your business cards, company brochures, radio/TV commercials, print ads in magazines/newspapers, email signatures, company vehicles, billboards, on your building, inside your store, and anywhere else your company name appears.  Your website is usually a better choice as a landing site for your marketing campaigns for many reasons.  It eliminates anxiety about immediately speaking to someone on the phone, it doesn’t require gas money or as much time as driving to a physical location, it is easily accessible from a smartphone, laptop, or home/business computer, and your message is consistently presented exactly how you intend it every time to every person.  You will only incur additional expense if you decide to invest or redirect advertising dollars into online marketing campaigns through pay-per-click ads, directory listings, etc. which can be very effective at driving more traffic to your website.

6.  Encourage every happy customer to review or refer your business – Cost:  $0 to a discount or small incentive – This process captures the very essence of the social internet and free grass-roots marketing, yet most businesses completely ignore it.  Ask your satisfied customers to post a comment about their experience with you on their Facebook page and tag you.  This simple step could get you the most  powerful type of advertising impression, a personal endorsement, with hundreds or thousands of people.  Ask customers to go on Yelp.com (or other industry-specific consumer review sites) and write a short review about your business.  Offer people who do these things a discount on future purchases or a small free gift.  Happy customers will often go out of their way to share their experiences and sing your praises if only asked or encouraged to do so.  A discount or gift just adds icing on the cake.

Wrap-up

The bottom line is this…internet marketing and e-commerce is already one of the major driving forces in the global economy and it’s only getting bigger.  New technology influences consumer behavior more than any other factor in society that I can think of.  Companies that adapt their business model in response to changing technology and consumer behavior will be  poised to capitalize on the failure of others to do so.  How effective will your business be at adopting new internet marketing practices?  Your bank statement will tell the results.

If you would like to meet and review your current website and web strategy with no cost or obligation, please call or email:

Josh Davis, Technology Strategist – (423) 267-0588 – joshd@srctechnology.com

SRC Technology Solutions

What is a successful e-marketing campaign?

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Your business has a website. Prospective customers find your website, learn about your business, and potentially make a purchase. It’s as easy as that, right?

Not so fast! Do you advertise your business offline via TV, radio, newspaper, or magazines? Do you attend industry tradeshows? Do you list your business in the Yellow Pages? Do you sponsor community events? Do you belong to a Chamber of Commerce? Do you network? If you don’t, chances are your business has either struggled or has not lived up to its potential. Advertising and marketing are essential functions of business. You wouldn’t just build a pizza shop and sit back and wait for everyone to come in out of curiosity…you’re going to go out and get them! The same principle applies to online.

There are countless ways to market your business online, and the wonderful thing is, most of them are free. They only require the knowledge of how to use them, and the time investment to put them to use. Before you start, you should know that a successful e-marketing campaign is strategically planned and implemented, with a consistent message about your company. A successful e-marketing campaign does not have to be highly structured, but it does need to be very consistent. A successful e-marketing campaign is extremely powerful because it’s largely interactive with the online community. A successful e-marketing campaign is both personal and transparent and allows the online community to connect to people within a business, not just the business.

Your e-marketing campaign should center around your website as the “living” source of information about your company, products, employees, etc. I call it “living” because this information and media should be fresh, interesting, and regularly updated. From your website, you should extend out into the internet by offering education, entertainment, and social interaction. This is where other websites come into play…you need to be regularly engaged with bookmarking sites to connect to web explorers, blog sites to offer your educational/entertaining information, and social networking sites to make connections and interact with them. The end result of this process will be stronger connections to potential customers, brand recognition, thought leadership, higher search engine rankings, and more traffic to your website.

Don’t wait to launch your e-marketing campaign…the longer you do, the harder it will be to catch up to your competitors. Separate yourself from your competitors in your industry and show potential customers that you are passionate about your business. Get out there and get involved in the social internet and reap the rewards!

If you would like an informational meeting to discuss marketing your business online, I’d be happy to help you assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and come up with an e-marketing initiative for your company.

 Josh Davis, Technology Strategist – SRC Technology Solutions

 joshd@srctechnology.com – (423) 267-0588

SRC Technology Solutions has gone Social…

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

…thanks to our newest team member, Technology Strategist – Josh Davis, who is an e-marketing and social media junkie. Stay connected to all the newest technology news, product reviews, e-marketing trends, and useful information related to operating and marketing your business…digitally. You can link up to us on all of our various Web 2.0 accounts. Just click on each link below.

http://www.facebook.com/JoshSRC

http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshdavissrc

http://twitter.com/#!/srctechnology

http://foursquare.com/srctechnology

Have you wondered if your company might be missing out on Social Media? Here are two things you can do right now to find out.

1. Join our social media campaign by clicking the links above and you will see how our technology firm is deploying these tools. You’ll likely draw some parallels with your own enterprise and get some new ideas.

2. Connect to and/or call our Technology Strategist, Josh Davis and have a conversation about your business objectives and marketing mix and Josh will explain how these tools might serve your firm.

The benefits of social media are rock solid…more visitors to your website, stronger relationships with customers, thought leadership in your industry, and higher employee satisfaction, just to name a few.

So CLICK the images above to connect to us…but don’t stop there. Join in on the conversation!

Josh Davis can be reached at SRC Technology Solutions (423) 267-0588 or joshd@srctechnology.com and is available for 1-on-1 consulting or group seminars on website and/or social media marketing.

Social Media…confused yet?

November 2, 2010 Leave a comment

In the world of internet marketing, e-commerce, social networking, and web 2.0, one thing seems to be very apparent to me…the people who really understand these things, are the people whose job it is to understand these things.

Let me explain. I constantly run into people…business owners, managers, marketers…who have a product or service to sell to either consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), who have little to no concept of what tools are available to market their business online, or how to use these tools. The social internet (web 2.0) has evolved so quickly, the only people who are tuned in are professional technology and/or marketing companies (such as our firm, SRC Technology Solutions). We are able to keep up with the sweeping changes in technology because it is our livelihood…it is what we offer to the business community. The rest of the business community probably does not have the time (or maybe even the awareness of the need) to invest in exploring Social Media Marketing. But guess what…the need is there whether you realize it or not (although the time may not be).

My suggestion – get with someone immediately to help you get your business dialed in to social media, e-commerce, web content management, and whatever else is applicable to your strategy. Money invested in this realm will be more rewarding for the future of your business than most any traditional advertising campaigns you are considering. The best part is that most of what happens in the online marketing world has little to no recurring cost associated with it. If you invest in the startup of your internet-based marketing and learn how to maintain it yourself, you will have a powerful weapon in your arsenal and you will likely be ahead of your competitors in adopting new technology.

I have been deeply immersed in this marketing channel for the last year, and get a thrill out of empowering business owners/managers/marketers to take control of their online identity on web 2.0. Let me help you invest in the future of your business. The internet is available and accessible to all businesses no matter how large or small, and if you are not actively participating in e-marketing, you are missing potential wins for your business. Fill out a request for information at http://www.srctechnology.com/contactus.htm to begin the conversation…no obligations or strings attached.

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