Your Business Website as a Labor Saver

1st Labor Day in NYCHappy Labor Day!

In honor of the holiday (and the fact that you’re not likely to be doing a lot of heavy web hosting reading today), we’re giving you a quick list of some ways you can save labor when creating your website, along with some labor-saving features of a business website from EarthLink.

  1. Professional website design: The ultimate labor saving strategy for you – have someone else do it for you. With this professional design option, our web experts take care of everything needed to launch your website while you take care of your business. Ongoing, monthly website design and copywriting maintenance is also included to save you the labor for upkeep.
  2. Website builder: The next best thing (in terms of labor) to having someone else create your website for you would be to use our super-simple, template-driven EasySiteWizard Pro website builder. Just pick a template that fits your business, enter some information about your business, and click to publish a good-looking 3-page site.
  3. Location information: When your website prominently displays location information, perhaps including online maps and directions, you not only encourage visits to your store or office, you reduce the need to answer the phone to provide this information.
  4. Hours: Questions about your business hours can drive calls and staffing needs. Offering this information online can cut phone labor.
  5. Mobile website: Mobile websites that offer smartphone users the information they need without calling you extends the labor-saving benefits of the previous two bullets.
  6. SEO: The more you are able to get your website to rank “organically” in the main Google or Bing search results, the less extra work you’re going to need to do to market your business. Our SEO tools help EarthLink Web Hosting customers optimize their websites for search engine rankings. Not only that, you can use them to submit your site to more than 60 online business directories and search engines all at once – saving you time and effort.
  7. Social media: Save time promoting your business on social networks. EarthLink Web Hosting customers can easily manage multiple social media accounts from one simple interface and post to Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn simultaneously.
  8. Email marketing: Announcer Pro reduces the time and effort needed to set up and track an email marketing campaign.

We hope you have a great Labor Day with family and friends.

Is Your Business Like Salad Dressing?

business tips from the salad dressing marketWhat can salad dressing tell you about where your business is headed?

Possibly a lot.

And the answer just might be in two directions simultaneously: up and down.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (subscription required) about how the salad dressing market is a good indicator of how many markets in the U.S. economy are bifurcating – splitting into a discount market catering to lower income consumers and a premium market catering to the wealthy.

The middle, where you find the most popular brands, is getting squeezed as hard as an almost empty bottle of ketchup.

In the dressing world, the low end is represented by private-label/supermarket brands, while the high-end is represented by fresh and organic dressings and more upscale or exotic flavors.

Premium dressings that you find on refrigerated shelves near the produce section of the grocery store are growing two to three times faster than the regular brands.

If you’re one of our business web hosting customers trying to grow your business online, you might want to think about this up/down market bifurcation and how it may or may not be affecting your business.

Are you well positioned to appeal to the cost-conscious consumers looking to pinch pennies and cut corners? Are you positioned as a premium product or service provider able to command premium pricing? Do you offer options to appeal to both segments?

If not, you may be able to use your web site to test out some alternate products that appeal to either the high or low end of your market, or both.

For example, you might test offering product or service discounts through search engine marketing with Google Adwords (see our previous blog post about getting started with AdWords).

If you can’t (or don’t want to compete on price), you may want to see if you can put together a more premium package that you try to upsell to current customers via email marketing (our previous posts about getting started with email marketing and tracking your email marketing results can help you with that).

See how you can innovate with your product or service (or your marketing) to set it apart from the shrinking middle and help you generate increased growth and higher margins.

Good luck. And let us know how you’re doing.

7 Website Tips to Help You Get Started Right

7 Top Website Tips - Good ideas for your business website

Creating a business website can be an intimidating prospect. You want everything to be perfect … but don’t have the expertise to be confident you’ll get it right.

That’s one reason we offer professional website design. Our experts can take all that stress off you and ensure you get a business website you can be proud of.

But you definitely can do it yourself. In fact, we offer three DIY website hosting packages that include an easy-to-use website builder and plenty of other tools to help you out.

Today we’ll offer you some basic website tips to help you get started with your business website.

Even before the list of tips, our first advice would be not to stress out about making your website perfect right off the bat. It won’t be perfect. But if you get the basics right, it will work well for you and you can easily update and optimize your site over time.

When Building Your Business Website, Don’t Forget…

  1. Contact information: Make it as easy as possible for website visitors to contact you and find you if you have a local, real-world presence. Create an easy-to-find Contact Us page and think about adding your phone number and address to the top header (or at least bottom footer) of all pages. An address can also help with your local SEO efforts.
  2. Business information: Make it as clear as possible who you are and what you provide. Keep in mind, people will be visiting your site who don’t know anything about your business or maybe even the category of products and services you are offering. Don’t rely on industry jargon that people may not understand or on vague marketing language that doesn’t answer people’s questions. Your business information can be on your homepage or an About Us page. One technique is to have some abbreviated introductory information on the homepage so people are sure to see it and then have more detailed information about your company on an About page, Product or Services pages, Pricing page, etc.
  3. Logo/Branding: If you already have an established logo or other brand elements, try to have them incorporated into your website so your customers will feel at home on your website. Doing this will also help customers trust you online, which can help translate into sales. If you do have a logo, make sure it is prominently displayed at the top of all website pages: upper-left is the standard position. (Our professional website design services offer logo design as an add-on service if you don’t already have a logo.)
  4. Easy navigation: Take some time to plan out all your pages and link to them using easy-to-understand keywords in your navigation. If you have lots of pages, group them into logical, well-understood categories in your navigation. If you are having trouble deciding on category names, look around the web at similar websites. Using common online terminology is a good strategy; you don’t want to rely on customers relearning terminology that’s unique to you if they are used to seeing it another way.
  5. Site map: Ideally your website navigation makes it simple for visitors to get to all your website pages, but having a sitemap that lists all your pages in one place is a good backup plan. Site maps are often linked to from the header or footer of all pages.
  6. Easy to read: While you do want to use your brand’s colors on your website, that doesn’t mean if your logo is red and green you want to have red pages with green text on them (or visa versa). You want to make sure all your pages are easy to read. So pick page and text colors that contrast well for readability (good ol’ black text on white pages is the most readable) and make sure the font size is big enough for most people (larger if you specialize in products/services for seniors or people with vision issues). Of course, you should also make an effort to keep your writing clear, focused and easy to read.
  7. Easy to find: Take advantage of the free SEO tools that come with EarthLink Web Hosting and Ecommerce Hosting plans. They can help you optimize your website and get ranked on search engine sites, making it easier for your customers to find you. There are also free tools so you can submit your business information to more than 60 online business directories and search engines at once. Just be patient; new websites always take a while to move up the search engine rankings.

Bonus Tip: Go Mobile! A mobile website is becoming a more and more important addition to your regular website. Five of our six web hosting plans include a free mobile website with an easy to use mobile website builder. But don’t worry if you have a plan that doesn’t include the mobile site; you can upgrade any time you’re ready.

How to Keep Your Email Marketing from Being Labeled as Spam

email marketing tips, advice, and warnings about spamEmail marketing is still a very effective way to generate sales and enhance loyalty.

But here are some statistics (from ConvinceandConvert.com) about email and spam that should worry you as a business owner using email to market your products and services:

  • 21% of email recipients report email as spam even if they know it isn’t
  • 43% of email recipients report email as spam based on the email from line or email address
  • 69% of email recipients report email as spam based on the subject line alone

However, here are some additional stats, from the same source, to keep you motivated as an email marketer:

  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers
  • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a marketing email
  • 35% of email recipients opened an email based solely on the subject line

The first three stats should tell you loud and clear to be careful about your email marketing being labeled as spam because people are sometimes quick to hit the spam button. And that would mean at least losing a customer for your business (one that may spend 138% more than other customers) and at worst losing your business reputation. Not to mention the $11,000 per recipient you could be liable for based on the CAN-SPAM Act.

So, what can you do? Here’s some advice to help you steer clear of the spam button:

  1. Make your promotional emails and newsletters Opt In, so that customers have to actively sign up vs. Opt Out if they don’t like them (they may opt out by labeling you a spammer).
  2. On your email sign-up forms, clearly state your newsletter or marketing email name so customers will later recognize it.
  3. Make it clear what frequency you will be emailing customers: if they think they’re getting a once-a-month newsletter and it comes weekly or (worse) daily, they may decide it’s spam.
  4. Make it clear what the content of your emails will be: if customers think they’re signing up for one thing and they get another, they’re more likely to label it spam.
  5. Try to match your online branding in your email (graphics, logos, tone) so your customers feel more at home and trust your emails more.
  6. Use a familiar or easy to understand email address and From line. You could choose an address like like NewsletterName@DomainName.com or Customers@DomainName.com or CustomerOffers@DomainName.com. The From line could be your newsletter name, your business name or your name if it is well known to your customers.
  7.  Make sure your headlines aren’t deceptive (that goes for from lines and email addresses too): If people feel deceived, they’re more likely to lash out and label you a spammer.
  8. Keep your subject lines as short as you can: best practices typically is 5 to 8 words and about 40 characters long because many email programs will cut off the rest.
  9. Make sure the most important words in your subject line are towards the beginning – or at least not at the end where they could be cut off.
  10. Take time writing your subject lines: think about customer needs, hot topics or products, what’s in the news, etc. Think about what you might respond to (make a list of subject lines you’ve received that you liked and clicked on).
  11. Take time writing your emails. Edit them. Proofread them. Ideally get more than one person to look at them to help find potentially embarrassing mistakes. Sloppy emails may be more likely to be identified as spam.
  12. Test your subject lines. If you can, create multiple subject lines and send out a small group of emails with each subject line. Monitor the results for opt-outs, clicks, purchases, etc. Then send the winner out to the whole list.
  13. And finally, be careful with spammy sounding subject lines since most people will mark an email as spam based solely on the subject line. That’s a difficult thing to balance if you are trying to promote offers with your marketing emails. But here are a few best practices:
    • Avoid using ALL CAPS
    • Avoid multiple exclamation points!!!
    • Avoid over-the-top sales phrases
    • Avoid repeating words like FREE FREE FREE
    • Be clear about benefits and drive urgency: promote your latest sale, highlight free shipping or new products, and specify what % OFF customers can get now.
    • According to a 2013 report by Adestra, the words AlertBulletin, and News in subject lines drive more opens and clicks than LearnReportNewsletter or WebinarSale seems to be working better than Free but Free Delivery is very effective.

If you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer, don’t forget to try our AnnouncerPro email marketing tools. Read this previous blog post to learn more.