It’s rare I receive an email newsletter that I pay close attention to, but the team at Returnity sent out a great one this morning, which perfectly highlights the points they were trying to get across regarding how visitors read your web and email content.
Heat mapping studies provide great insight into how people consume web content, presenting critical applications to how emails and web pages are designed. We have reviewed several studies and summarised the key findings for you.
This is the first email newsletter I’ve recieved from Returnity since I subscribed, but if you’d like to subscribe and catch some useful tips, you can subscribe here.
We take over lots of websites owned by small businesess that need a reliable web developer to manage their website, and unfortunately the process if often hampered by the lack of essential details held by the business owner. Here’s a list of things you should keep tucked away in a file somewhere just in case something bad happens to you.
Geeky warning: Some of the concepts here are technical – if you have any questions just post a comment!
This is sometimes a single password, or a username and password depending on who your domain was registered through.
These details would have been given to whomever registered your domain name for you.
If something happens to your web host and you need to quickly move your website to a new one, you will need this to make the switch.
The File Transfer Protocol allows your web developer to transfer your website from their development platform up to your web host. Your web host will have provided these when you first signed up for a hosting account.
If you’re unhappy with your web developer, you’ll need to give your new developer the FTP details so they can backup the website, and continue to make changes.
Hosting Account Access
Most web hosts have an interface which allows you to make changes to basic account details like setup new email addresses, create a new database and check your statistics.
To move to a new web host, it will be easier if you are able to access your hosting account so your new host can set up the same email accounts and move over your account fully.
It is a good idea to have a list of email accounts for all your domain names, and the current password. Also include on the list if you have any forwarders or aliases.
If your computer crashes and you are unable to access your email, with your username and password you will still be able to access your email using a webmail interface until your computer is repaired.
September in Cairns bring back our first taste of the humid summer to come, and this September has certainly given us a reminder of the workout our air-conditioners will be having in the months to come.
It also brings spring… flowers, mating birds and cleaning. Your website needs a spring clean. So what’s on the spring cleaning list:
1. Check out 5 competitors’ websites.
They don’t need to be local, just businesses doing the same things as you. Have a good look at the information they give to their customers, and what features your website could incorporate.
2. Update your content.
Read every word of your website, and check it is still relevent. It might surprise you what has changed in your business since you last changed your website text!
3. Start a new website section.
Business blogs are popular at the moment because just about every business dreams of starting a newsletter to connect with their customers. But this isn’t the only section you might add… perhaps take the temperature of your customers and listen to what they’ve been asking of you. Usually the parts you need to add are the enquiries you recieve from customers the most frequently.
4. Change your look.
Websites change their design too infrequently. To keep your customers on their toes you should do a little change to your image every year, and a big change every second year.
5. Sell Something.
Start generating a revenue stream through your website if you’re not already. Service-based business could try selling their expertise through an e-book or online adjuct to an offline service. Retailers should have more than just their store location and opening hours – get some product online, even if it’s only a small sample of what’s in your store.
When you tell someone a domain name over the phone, it seems instinct kicks in and you will inevitably be asked if that is all one word.
It’s a funny question because domain names cannot have any spaces, so they must all be all one word.
To help stop the spread of this question, I encourage you when asked to say “All domain names are all one word.“
I confess, I’m a member of the mobile generation. I’m not one of the annoying types who answer their phone at restaurants or during meetings, but I do carry my mobile everywhere and thanks to Telstra’s NextG service, I’m continually connected to the internet.
There are a growing number of constantly connected consumers, who, just like me, browse the web from their mobile phone, on an exceptionally small screen. We are a frustrated lot too, because most websites are not built with small screens in mind.
Many people don’t believe their website will need to be adapted for mobiles, but if your business does financial transactions over the phone, or have a retail store, chances are a percentage of your customers are already trying to find you. Here’s a couple of real life examples of how someone with a mobile might be interacting with your business.
While enjoying an afternoon out of the house, a couple decide to go to a restaurant for dinner, but aren’t near a phone book. They look up the restaurant’s website on their phone to find the phone number.
While driving past an interesting property, someone might notice a For Sale sign out the front and look up a real estate’s website to find out the price of the property.
While out and about we might want to check the closing time of a particular store, or opening times of an attraction.
On the way for a weekend getaway, you forget how to get to an accomodation property. You whip out your trusty mobile phone and look up the website for directions, or just for an address to enter into your GPS unit.
Your web designer should easily be able to adapt your website to create an easy to read version for a mobile phone in 30 minutes – 2 hours, but having all the information a mobile user might require is important in the first place.
The next time you see a friend with one of those fandangled-looking mobiles that can surf the internet, ask if they can look up your website and have a go at browsing it, or finding specific information. You’ll be suprised how it looks!
Did you get that title?
The past two days I’ve noticed a number extraordinarily long domain names… they’re a bad idea because they’re very hard for your customers to remember.
Domain names should be as short, snappy and memorable.
If you have a long business name, consider dropping non-essential but common words from your domain like services, the or solutions.
You could also consider using initialism, although you do need to be lucky in registering those. For example if your business name is The Hurley Brothers Real Estate you might consider the following domain options:
But you wouldn’t consider TheHurleyBrothersRealEstate.com.au. Definitely too many words.
One of the major factors responsible for a cost blowout on website development is continually making changes and tweaks whilst the site is still under development.
Most web development companies will charge you hourly for changes made to your website, so it’s important from a cost perspective to get all the glitches, spelling mistakes and formatting ironed out before you hand it over to your web developer.
Lots of little changes add up, and can put a project significantly over budget. Even worse for businesses with marketing deadlines, it can also cause your website to be late.
When you’re approaching a web developer for a website, ensure you have the following ready:
Do your new customers ask the same kinds of things time and time again? Save your admin time by adding the answers to your website. You’d be surprised how many customers inspect your website prior to contacting you.
Here’s some logical things could consider adding to your site:
We hear lots of stories of how difficult it is to find staff in today’s tough labour market, but you’d be amazed how many positions are advertised in newspapers that don’t ever get entered on a company’s website.
There are lots of great reasons to have an employment page:
When I recently had a problem with my laptop, it was after close of business and I wanted to know the process for obtaining work done under warranty. Unfortunately I ended up needing to call the company the next day and waiting on hold for 30 minutes while the receptionist chased up the relevant information for me. It would have been far less frustrating for me if the company had simply chosen to publish this info online.
Information about refunds and privacy are required when you conduct transactions online, but most other businesses leave these important bits out.
If you have a policy, put it up online.
Despite price being the primary motivator for online shopping, lots of service-based businesses are still not transparent about their prices online preferring instead an enquiry page in place of publishing the actual rates.
Customers have a lot of choice online, and if they can’t find the price information they’re after from your website they’re more likely to buy from a competitor who is open and honest about their pricing online.
For the miscellaneous questions you are asked, include them on an FAQ page. For website which include an FAQ page, these are frequently the most popular pages after the prices page.
Include all the information you can’t fit onto other pages.
I keep a running list on my desktop of the questions I am asked most days… and I publish the answers in this blog!
Having under construction pages on a mostly finished website is a clear sign of a disorganised business owner. While it’s tempting to make an under construction page as a self reminder to later write the text for that page, it doesn’t send a positive message to your customers.
Web surfers get frustrated when they click on a menu item and visit an empty page. Some people think that an under construction page will entice users to come back later, but honestly, we’re all just too busy to remember which websites might have a page coming soon.
Remember your visitors don’t know what pages you’re planning to add, so best advice is to simply leave these pages out. Don’t have them linked from the menu, and don’t give any hint that a new page is coming.
Just launch it, then advise with a great email newsletter.
Promoting your website is no longer about banner ads and reciprocal links – the web has grown up. While there are many ways to spend your advertising dollars online, there are also plenty of ways to tap into the community of the internet and take advantage of the free opportunities to spread the word about your business. Here we take a peek at the free promotional avenues you can tap into but you might not have realised their significance.
This is the most important free promotional technique for all websites. Search engines are responsible for 85% of the average website’s visitation, which means if you’re not well placed in the engines you’re missing out on a lot of customers.
Here’s the quickest way to get your website ranked well:
1. Think of the keywords your customers will search for to find you.
For example, if you consider the tourism industry in Cairns an owner of an apartment complex in the city might consider the following keywords;
cairns city accommodation
cairns self-contained apartments
cairns family accommodation
2. Include these keywords in your website text
The search engines will not rank you for the keywords you want unless you include them in your text. Ensure you include them in a natural way using proper English. Here’s an example of a paragraph of text using the keywords above:
Cairns Oceanview Apartments offer self-contained accommodation in the heart of Cairns city especially well suited for families and couples travelling on a budget. Only walking distance from the popular attractions on the Esplanade, Muddy’s Playground and Cairns Central Shopping Centre our Cairns apartments are the perfect accommodation choice for your tropical holiday.
Search the web for directories which focus on particular industries, such as tourism, education or finance. You may even by lucky enough to find very specific directories for micro-industries such as managed apartments or English schools for example. Think about the many terms people use to describe your industry and search for these.
Most businesses belong to trade associations or professional bodies which feature member listings. Ask for a link, and ensure you’re listed appropriately.
Avoid directories or bodies which solicit your business for upgraded listings as they are generally not well enough trafficked to be worth the while. Very large directories often provide very little actual visitation to websites listed within, so spend money carefully. Instead look for niche directories which operate in a specific sub-industry or location.
The more websites you are listed on, the more credible your business appears to search engines and to customers. Search engines will repay you by listing you higher for your keywords the more websites that link to you.
Many of us write mini-articles everyday in the regular emails we write to our customers and our clients. Consider making these a more formal article and submitting them to other companies for inclusion in their newsletters and on their websites.
The usual policy for such an exchange is that other websites and newsletters can reproduce the article only in its entirety, without modification, and includes the author’s by-line and a link to their website at the bottom of the article.
For those of us who already write articles consider posting these articles onto your website as well, and include a note that allows others to republish your article without specifically seeking permission as long as the article is left entirely intact. This allows your articles to more quickly be distributed across the internet.
Consider newsworthy events that happen in your business and consider submitting them to print and web periodicals within your industry. Links from news and media sources are favourably considered by the search engines and are poised to boost your website even higher in the search rankings.
Press releases also have the added benefit of making your business appear dynamic, changing and expanding which encourages others to do business with you.
Blogs work incredibly well for establishing a regular visitor base to your website. Most business people offer regular industry comment to clients and associates, and a blog allows you to get this content out to a wider audience.
You might be surprised how simple this suggestion is – but I still need to search high and low for some business’ website address (URL) despite having their business card and brochure in my hand.
Don’t make potential customers look for you. Print your everywhere your phone number is: letterhead, business card, envelopes, flyers, brochures, emails, outdoor signage etc.
To aid readability, I recommend excluding the http:// part of your web address and just including the www.domain.com.au part instead.
Business owners send hideous numbers of emails each day – email is reported as the most common form of executive stress.
Help combat this stress by knowing that every email you send is promoting your business and encouraging people to visit your website.
One of the reasons many people are attracted to the internet is because of the vast number of forums, blogs and online communities of people with very specialised interests. Tap into the areas in which your business exists by seeking out your peers and competitors online and finding where they exchange information.
Respect the culture of these discussion groups by not openly spamming advertising throughout the posts, but instead offer valuable contributions and information to the people asking questions. Ensure you include a signature at the bottom of your posts which links back to your website.
Regular visitors to these forums will gradually trust and recommend your business provided you do not aggressively market your business or overtly plug your products.
Many businesses display testimonials on their websites and this is a great show you support local businesses. Ask that your testimonial include a link to your website, and ensure you include a company logo so it may be included with your testimonial.
The end result is another link to your website, and credible support of a business transaction.
This encourages repeat business so people can find your website again easily by just checking their list of favourites. It’s simple, quick and free.
There are lots of other free ways to promote your website, but a common theme throughout most of these ideas is involving yourself in the online business community.
Unless you become familiar with how the online customer thinks you may never tap into how to make money out of them, or establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Do you have any other ideas? Submit them as a comment below.