Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Landing Page

Your home page is where most of the visitors to your site will enter your online store. Think of it as your front door comparable to the front door of your physical location.

When a customer lands on that home page a few things should immediately happen:

  • It should be immediately apparent what your business does.
  • The customer should be welcomed.
  • There should be enticements to enter other areas of your site.
  • Your brand should be immediately identifiable and consistent throughout the rest of your site.
  • Navigation to other pages should be clear and in good working order.
Thinking of your landing page as your front door helps to determine what information should be included and what should be left off. A sampling of photographs of your products, your logo, a catchy slogan and clear and concise enticements to come in and explore what you have to offer and who you are will have visitors exclaiming with delight over what you have to offer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Benefits of PayPal

As a marketer of products online, I've used PayPal, exclusively for a couple of years. For around the cost of dealing with the credit card vendors directly, a business can receive these multiple advantages:

  • Secure and safe transactions that protect your business and your customer. You're not storing credit card information on your own server. The customer's information is stored by an expert in the field.

  • PayPal reports; there is a whole catalog of reports that can be downloaded and utilized for your quarterly and annual needs. The reports should be downloaded quarterly so that they will be available for tax season or future uses. Your information currently stays on the PayPal servers for 3 months.
So if you haven't already, check out the safety and convenience of PayPal. Your customers will thank you with purchases.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Make it Yours--Make it Original

One mistake that new bloggers often make is borrowing art work, photo's, and other details from other sites. Even if you overlook or get past any copyright details, using something that is readily available on the internet is not a good way to set up your individual brand.

Branding should be unique to your business and your site. If your site is as successful as I hope it will be, people will identify you and  your business with that branding. Once your identity is well established, it can be difficult to change; think of that blue Walmart sign or that K in Kmart.

Once you become well known you would hate to be required to change your branding, the way that customers view you, because of copyright infringements or because a competitor also begins to use the same free domain graphics.

In the end you will do much better developing  your own unique identity that makes you and your business or blog stand out in the crowd.      

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keep it Simple

Back when  the web was first being born, when there was little interactivity, blogs, and few business websites, I found a site that could be termed as a precursor to the blog. It was a simple site and yet it has enticed me to visit it just about every day for over 10 years.

Wouldn't it be nice to have loyal visitors like that?

The secret to attracting this kind of loyalty is no mystery. The site is simple. It makes a promise. Each day it delivers new, informative content. It keeps the promise it makes.

Sure there are short, very occasional periods of time when the site goes down for maintenance, but the owners always warn in advance and keep it minimal.

The site has not updated its design since inception; what you see today is generally the same basic format that was there early on. It works. Nothing fancy. No heavy graphics. No overload of flash.

Just a promise; on a simple design; updated daily; great content; promise kept. Lesson learned.

Visit the site and become a fan here.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Web Regs Up for debate

In case you've missed it, there is a bill up for discussion in the senate regarding Internet privacy. This bill may change the way you collect information from the visitors on your website. You may already be complying with some provisions, like sharing why you collect information and how you use that information,

Limits on how long that information can stay in your database may create opportunities to update your current procedures. You'll need to update your email collection with collection/expiration dates to comply.  

If you're currently updating your site, it's never too early to examine how you can comply with the procedures, should they be adopted.  You can view the current language of the bill by clicking here and join in the discussion by emailing your senator and the sponsors of the bill.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Google a Calendar

Did you know you can add a great calendar to your web site or blog?  If you already have a Google Account you have the option of opening a calendar. This calendar can either be private or public. There are many options; pick a color and how you would like the calendar to be viewed. Then hit the button and copy the code to your website or open a new page on your blog and add there.

You can let customers know about special events, training opportunities, career opportunities, or even that special sale that is coming up. And best of all you've added a special dimension to your site making it more interactive and giving us all a reason to return.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Product Review: HP Printer Photosmart Premium C309

The HP Photosmart Premium C309 printer prints some great photos. Its print is clear and concise. It does a good job at double sided brochures and fliers.

But it isn't the workhorse that past HP printers are known for. This printer is temperamental. My initial C309 was returned to HP; it printed one or two photos absolutely stunningly and then printed everything covered in a blue wash. And it didn't keep the network connection.

HP stood behind their product; shipped a new printer and provided additional instructions via email on how to ship the defective one back to HP. They followed up in regard to how the new one was operating. For a while it did well; printed pictures and text, two sided brochures.

The wireless is a different issue. It continually drops the network connection and only restarting the printer, sometimes several times, will fix the issue.

Another issue with the printer, (it is not exactly plug and play), is that Vista has a difficulty loading the driver software and, as little as 6 months ago, the CD that shipped with the printer didn't include the Windows 7 driver; requiring a download from the website.

The printer also uses 5 ink cartridges that seemingly are always out of ink. A cartridge costs roughly $10.00 to replace and together all five are expensive.

This is a fine printer if you would like to use it wired and can afford the ink. But if you plan to go wireless, my recommendation is that you find another printer.        

Monday, April 4, 2011

Merging Web and Print Material

If you are looking for content for your website, take a look at your current marketing material. By optimizing colors and photo's for the web you can transform those dazzling brochures into web pages that inform and sizzle.

On the other hand, if you've paid for a brand new website that sparkles and pops, you'll want to take another look at your marketing material to make sure it matches up to that new website. Many web consultants will be more than happy to furnish material in print friendly colors and sizes. Your web consultant may have already anticipated your need and may have a version in print ready styles waiting for your approval.

Whether it's business cards, brochures, your physical store, or your web presence; all should consistantly reflect your own personal brand.