Are Web Designers the new Tax Inspectors?

Having been a professional software developer for around 25 years I recently struck out on my own and started a small web design company. As a fairly new start-up I have been fortunate in that the local council run some extremely good free workshops to support new business.

In the last 4 months I must have attended 7 or 8 of these workshops ranging from how to write a business plan to the most recent on website SEO, I must point out that so far every single workshop has been well worth attending and I have learned a lot, however, on 2 of the workshops I have come away feeling like I am the local tax inspector come to check the accounts.

The first was a business workshop and didn’t have anything to do with websites but during and after the workshop the presenter made a valid point that no one these days has to pay for a website there are plenty of “free” websites available in the form of templates, free sites when purchasing hosting and free websites with adverts, however, over and over he stressed that web designers simply want to charge for something that anyone with a little knowledge could well do themselves at little or no cost, and to be honest he is right to a point any fool can drag and drop a fairly reasonable site together. The second workshop presenter was teaching SEO and what could be done by the average site owner who has access to the CMS it was a worthwhile extremely informative workshop and I learned a lot then we got into the “Why pay some guy to do what you could easily do given time” discussion and once again I fully agree, there is no way I can hide it in fact I wouldn’t try. I charge for websites and SEO both of which a business could do themselves certainly cheaper and possibly at no cost other than time and effort.

Now to the reason for the rant and the reasons I charge for my time and effort:-

Why I feel I add value to a small business are as follows:-

  • Most people are capable of dragging and dropping a website together but to be honest I make a better job of it.
  • Most business owners are too busy doing what they do best to build their business and simply don’t have time to build a website or perform SEO – This is where I spend the long hours on doing what I do
  • What sort of an image does a new company trying to build a reputation and build trust give to other businesses when the site has “provided free by SkiddlyDo” at the foot of the site and adverts for hemorrhoid cream popping up over what I am trying to read
  • How many businesses will cobble a free site together, make a reasonable job of it then not touch it again for 5 years complaining all the time that it does nothing for the business and doesn’t get any visitors.

What finally added the icing to the cake was a “Networker” I bumped into at a local meeting, we were sat doing the obligatory one-to-one, I told him I was a web designer, did SEO social media and other internet related stuff to which he replied “why would anyone pay you to do that it’s all free” so I explained that I could possibly make a better job of it and at worst I could free the business owner up so that they could concentrate on their business, “what do you do?” I asked “I am a life coach, I speak to people and make them feel better as well as telling them all what they are doing wrong with their life and helping them” mmm, “and do you get paid for that?” I asked unfortunately I didn’t hear the reply he got up and wandered off not sure but I don’t see him having any future one-to-one sessions with me.

Just a few examples I could buy the parts from a local shop and replace the brakes on my car but I choose not to because the mechanic is far better at it than me, I could pull my own teeth but I prefer the dentist to do it I am a bit squeamish that way, I can advise myself on how to invest what little money I have, I could build my own house, garage or extension I might even get some wire and make myself an electric blanket for winter but I choose not to the point I am trying to make is that all things can be cheaper or sometimes free, I can’t think of a single business that with time, effort or trial and error I couldn’t do myself if I really wanted to or had the time to do so but I choose not to, why, because if its not my area of expertise there is probably someone who would make a better job of it.

And as a final footnote the “Why would you pay someone to do SEO? ” workshop presenter who I might add was extremely good and certainly knew his stuff and to top it all seemed a really nice guy he runs a large and very successful Web Design and SEO company when he isn’t teaching.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At Activ Web Design (Yorkshire) we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more information please visit http://www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 01482 861875
Mob: 07850 009750

Email: info@activwebdesignhull.co.uk
Website: www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/
Twitter: @activBeverley

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old Chinese proverb).

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Your Business Needs a Mobile App!

How many internet enabled devices do you own?, definitely a Smartphone, maybe a tablet add to that a PC or laptop now try and imagine your life without at least one of these devices. We rely heavily on these  devices to remind us of birthdays and appointments,  checking the weather, or sending and receiving messages and in the case of phones even phone calls, we would be lost without them.

In daily life how many times have you sat in a restaurant or coffee shop and seen someone tapping away on their phone at the table or on the beach in the office or the supermarket the list is endless it seems we just can’t survive without being connected. 

Now, what if you are a business owner with a mobile app, this puts you in direct contact with these potential customers 24/7 and 97% of messages will be read as opposed to 30% of emails for some reason a message delivered to one of these devices not only has to be read, it is normally read immediately.A business mobile app is a fantastic “branding tool” which is used for keeping your clients aware of your services or your products whilst increasing the level of customer loyalty.

As an example take the Starbucks coffee chain, the company launched a mobile app back in 2011, they included a rewards system called “My Starbucks Reward”, the account allowed customers to top up with money and make purchases, the user was then awarded stars that he or she could later exchange for more Starbucks products.

The program proved to be highly successful and more important profitable for Starbucks, so much so that today every 10th purchase for a Starbucks product is made via a mobile device.

The Starbucks example shows that a mobile app serves the purpose of keeping clients loyal and bringing them back time and time again to your business.

The app of course, should not only create more business for you but should also be  “user friendly”  and add value for the user, if it doesn’t add value or is difficult or time consuming to use the user simply won’t download it or if they do they will soon remove it.

As a minimum, the application should serve at least the following purposes:

  • Fulfill a need for the user
  • Make it easy for the user to access your products or services
  • Offer a reward or benefit for their loyalty in turn creating a desire to use the service again

The second point is probably the most important as users are already used to the convenience and ease of using mobile technologies. quite simply if a user has to jump through hoops to buy your products and doesn’t get a discount or reward after all that, he or she will go elsewhere and probably not return.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At Activ Web Design (Yorkshire) we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more information please visit http://www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/activ-apps.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: dave.rowland@activwebdesign.com
Website: www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/activ-apps.html
Twitter: @activmobileapps

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old Chinese proverb).

 

Why does my business need a mobile app

Whether you have seen a mobile app for another business or you have read about them I hope to help with reasons why a mobile app would be good for your business, club or school.

What can an app do for my business?

  •  An app helps build brand loyalty, all business owners desire brand loyalty. With a mobile app your business can stay in direct contact with your clients or members. You can stay engaged with customers and keep them informed about your business activities, events and special offers, or in the case of schools inform parents of events, school closures or information regarding their child.
  •  A mobile app allows you to present information, services and products to your customers through a medium that people use and have with them constantly, this provides your business with an excellent affordable tool to inform and market to your customer base at any time.
  • A mobile app provides you with a ready revenue stream allowing your business to reach an audience that you normally wouldn’t reach through other means of marketing (97% of messages are read), people are always searching for the easiest and fastest way to get the information, products and services they want.
  • Customers always have their phone with them, no matter what they are doing people are always fiddling with their phones or tapping away on a tablet, this means that people can search, buy, browse or share at any time of the day or night regardless of where they are or what they are doing, with an app your business will always be available to them.
  • An app will keep you ahead of the competition, whilst your competitors may not have an app at this time, you could, here at Activ we have made developing and launching an app more affordable allowing you to reap the benefits with a sensible ROI, allowing you to engage with customers, build brand loyalty and be on the cutting edge of technology.

Why wait, your customers are using mobile devices everyday browsing for products, services, booking appointments, purchasing goods and much much more, how many people these days book a hotel or visit a restaurant without first reading the reviews, looking at on-line maps to see where it is, what the parking is like or what’s on the menu?. For the price of a couple of adverts you could have the latest technology advertising only your business.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At Activ Web Design (Yorkshire) we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more information please visit http://www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/activ-apps.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: dave.rowland@activwebdesign.com
Website: www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/activ-apps.html
Twitter: @activmobileapps

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old Chinese proverb).

What is a squeeze page?

A “squeeze page” is a single page and its sole purpose is to either capture the visitors email address (in return for your free giveaway) or in some cases, to make a sale, but by far the main reason is to capture the visitors email address.

When building a business, a highly-effective squeeze page is essential for daily lead capture because without those leads network marketers don’t have a business!

Design an effective squeeze page.

“Who do you want” – One of the more important steps, yet time and again people charge straight in without a clear understanding of exactly the type of person they want on their email list yet without this vital step how are you going to develop a campaign good enough to create interest and gain trust.

Take the time to work out exactly who you are trying to attract on to your list in terms of your ultimate goals. Then and only then will you know how best to write the copy.

Your squeeze page has one goal to get people to sign up to your email list; every word on the page should support that single action. If it doesn’t, lose it.

Things to Avoid

Remove anything distracting the user from signing up that includes things like the sidebar, links, navigation menu, non essential text, links and images this page should have one purpose only “sign them up”

Your primary goal with a squeeze page is to get people to opt-in.

You must have:

  1. A headline: You’ve got to instantly catch attention with your headline.
  2. Benefits: You’ve got to tell by teasing, usually with fascinating bullet points.
  3. Call to Action: You’ve got to expressly tell people to sign-up.
  4. Opt-in form: You’ve got to have a way for them to sign-up.
  5. Build Trust: Add a photo or signature, privacy disclaimer, testimonials anything to show that you are trustworthy.

The Gift.

This could be a free report, eBook, or piece of software, news feed or any other freebie.

You will always get subscribers who take your incentive with an alternate “specially for spam” email address, or simply unsubscribe immediately, it is your job to keep them subscribed, you could for instance offer to drip feed them reports over time, break the eBook into parts or give early news on what’s coming next.

The key is to make people aware that you’re giving more than you’re taking.

Keep the page focused and concise, obviously the essentials have to be there, the headline, benefits, call to action and obviously the opt-in-form but also reassure the user that you will respect their privacy there is nothing worse than signing up for something useful then finding your details have been passed on to all and sundry.

How much information do you really need?

The less you ask for the more likely they are to sign up, you only need the email address, if you want more trial more but in our tests the email only option performed far better, however, if your business needs a mailing address, or other personal details consider getting them on board first then build up your contact details. The more trust you build; the more people open up to you.

Don’t Forget to Monitor and Test!

Every business is different the only way to find exactly what works for you and your potential audiences to do your own testing. Even changing a single sentence or word can make a difference good or bad so monitor.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence contact us.

At CodeSpinner we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

On-line Marketing of your Hotel, Guest House or B&B

More and more often these days the first place potential guests look for holiday accommodation is online, various studies have shown that people trust search results when it comes to making a decision about a product or service, therefore a Hotel, Guest House or B&B with a solid online presence is more likely to attract consumers to their website than those which rely solely on traditional advertising.

As a Hotel, Guest House or B&B owner, there are a number of ways in which to engage with your consumers online, and drive them to your site and ultimately turn site visitors into bookings.

3rd Party “Booking Sites”
Whilst this is a cost effective way to get your business online quickly and some times free the costs compared to having your own site can be higher than they appear on first glance, unless you start paying a fee you ofetn have no idea (or control) over where your site appears when a potential customer starts looking typically the process is by area, then sorted by price, facilities or rating. there is also the booking fee (they are in business as well don’t forget), your business has to be “sold” in a fixed slot between all of the other competing businesses.

Social Media
Social networks provide fantastic opportunities to make contact with customers, even if others in your industry are not, your customers are and that’s what counts.

This year Facebook reached the 500 million user mark, and on Twitter there are in excess of 100 milllion active users (Source: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo ), and as mobile Internet usage increases, these numbers are sure to increase.

Facebook and Twitter can be used to build online communities, building trust in product-consumer relationships and can be integrated with various other Marketing and SEO tactics, you can use social media to promote your business, pictures of your guest house and surrounding areas to entice potential customers, details of events, special offers, party bookings.

Make sure you can be found!
Search engines are often the first port of call for a potential customer who is looking for more information therefore, it is important to ensure that your webdesigner is doing his or her job and that your website is shown when someone conducts a search using keywords which are related to your product or service in your area.

Content is King
Hotels, Guest Houses and B&Bs have the opportunity to produce content which is both informative and promotional, you can write about local events, offers or travel tips – something which is of use to your customers and which will generate awareness of your business, use these opportunities to provide as much useful information as possible this will drive people to your site.

Whilst there are many things which can be done to increase your business presence on-line, it is usually a combination of tactics which produces the best results.

The beauty of online marketing lies in the fact that your efforts can be tracked and measured in real time, this will reasure you that you are focusing your efforts in the right places and spending your budget wisely and allow tweaking when necessary.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tips on improving your copywriting skills

Now is the time to start taking advantage of all the existing and emerging social media platforms currently available to you. Whether you are a business looking after your own social media campaigns, or a consultant working on behalf of a client, it important to get it right and this is where learning even the basics of copywriting skills will pay dividends.

Social media has been around for some time, initially these were great platforms to help build brand awareness and gain user interaction in fact they still are, however, in some instances they can be used to help drive traffic and improve conversion rates as well as playing a huge part in a business’s rankings with the many search engines.

Now is the time to start taking social media more seriously, whether it’s getting the basics right, or in understanding social media strategies, the following copywriting tips are worth remembering when using any media platform:

Spelling and Content

There is nothing worse than visiting a site that contains spelling mistakes or content that doesn’t read well, from a business perspective this will at best this makes the company look unprofessional and careless and at worst it can put a stop to any user interaction, rendering the whole process pointless.

Don’t beat about the bush

Whether you are writing a full page or trying to tweet a message in 140 characters or less, it is important that the message is to the point, any followers will simply lose interest if the message is “wordy” and not to the point, this doesn’t mean avoid having a personality it just means be clear and concise in what you are trying to convey.

Don’t lose the connection

Keep a clear connection between your brand image and social media personality it is an all too common mistake for many brands using social media, for example, a company may have the perception of being vibrant, new and exciting, but their social media activity may not reflect this, so write in a way that will enhance your brand image, whatever that may be.

Be creative!

It is important to focus on getting the user to click on a link, or to look at something you have shared, one way to do this is to be a little more creative with your posts or tweets, so instead of tweeting, “Here are some copywriting tips”, you could create more interest for example by saying, “For tips on improving your copywriting skills, follow this link”.

Make time!

It is all too easy to forget about updating social media content, especially if you are busy, however, every little helps, one way is to set yourself reminders to send out a tweet or update your status at various intervals during the day even if you can’t find time to post a full article.

Set aside some time to actually engage in online conversations with others, the more “active” you are the better this will be for your company’s exposure.

Most of all – Enjoy it!

The whole point of social media is to engage with others this is why it is important to enjoy the experience and not go for the hard sell which will put people off.

Potential customers or clients would rather take time to talk and engage with a company that is actively seeking their interaction rather than abruptly trying to push their products or services onto them.

Above all have fun! this will show in the way you write and the way other people perceive you or your business don’t see it as a chore but rather an integral and important part of online marketing.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Setting up a Facebook page

How to create a Business Facebook Page.

Want to make the most of Facebook for your business? Here’s how.

Facebook accounts in the UK number over 30 million. If you’re looking to tap into the marketing potential of Facebook or improve your own sites SEO ranking the first thing you need to do is create a business page. These are the steps and we show you how to make the most of this social media portal.

To Start
First you will obviously need a personal Facebook account. If you already have one great If not you may wish to create a separate business account so your employees can login and edit the company page. If you want to advertise on Facebook it will be tied to this account so a separate profile makes this easier to manage and control if the person who normally manages this task leaves.

Where to Click
The first challenge you have is finding where to create your business page. The link you need is often hidden away amongst the hundreds of options on your profile page. To get started the page you need is http://www.facebook.com at the bottom of the page you will see a set of links.

Mobile · Find friends · Badges · People · Pages · About · Advertising · Create a Page · Developers · Careers · Privacy

Select “Create a Page” (marked in red above)

Choosing Your Page Type
When you select ‘Create a Page’ you then have to choose from the following options:

•    Local Business or Place
•    Company, Organisation or Institution
•    Brand or Product
•    Artist, Band or Public Figure
•    Entertainment
•    Cause or Community

Once you have chosen your page type you can choose a category. It is important to select the one which accurately matches your organisation as users will often search for companies using this field. For example, a restaurant would go into the ‘Food/ Beverages’ category where as a magazine should go into the ‘Media/News/Publishing’ category.

Basic Information.
1.     Profile Photo: Here you have the option to upload an image. This should be your most up to date company logo in a square format – this same image (or a cropped square version) will also appear next to your updates.

2.    Get Fans: This is an excellent opportunity to start promoting your page straight away. If you know a number of high profile users it would be worth inviting them to view your page. If you already have a comprehensive list of contacts you can upload an Outlook, Constant Contact or .csv file and Facebook will alert the users of your new page. This is a fantastic option for a company like an online florist, who may already have a valuable list of emails for customers, clients and suppliers.

3.    Basic Info: Here you have the opportunity to add your website. This is worth doing as you can gain a valuable back link which can direct social users to your main domain. You also have 255 characters to summarise your company. This should convey your page’s proposition and unique selling point. I would also suggest including your main keywords and location to help the page appear in relevant Facebook search results.

The Detail.
Once you have created your page the real work can begin. Click ‘edit page’ in the top right-hand corner and enter as much information about your company as possible. When it comes to creating a Facebook page the more you give out the more you will get back. If you enter your address details you will appear for local searches i.e. ‘Computer Shop Brighton’. Similarly if you enter awards the company has won, this will give the page and your business more credibility.

If you have any photos they are worth uploading to send a visual message to the user. If you are a local store load pictures of your shop and displays, if you’re a restaurant include pictures of your best dishes. Similarly, a retail shop should display pictures of their most popular products. This can be done by going to the photos tab in the left hand column.

Get Connected.
Now your page is ready. The final steps to setting up your Facebook page are to make sure you are connected to the right people.

If you go to ‘edit page’ and visit the resources tab you can link the page to your Twitter profile. This section also gives you the option to install ‘social plug-ins’ like the ‘Like Button’ on your website. This is worth doing as it enables you to transfer website users into Facebook fans.  In turn this will help you build up a quality customer base and create valuable remarketing opportunities.

Permissions and Settings.
Finally you have the option of managing the permissions of your page. Here you can control what users can post on your wall. You can limit their posting ability by posts, pictures or videos.
You also have the choice of choosing what the default landing tab will be. This is worth testing and will be different for each company. For example, a news website will want their default landing tab to be the wall due to constantly streaming fresh content.  However a local computer store may want to display their information tab to prompt an enquiry as quick as possible.

Custom URL.
When you first create your Facebook page it will give you a long URL with lots of numbers. To get your own custom URL you will need to attract at least 25 fans. Once you have done this you have the opportunity to change the URL to http://www.facebook.com/CompanyName to do this simply go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and edit the page username.

Creating a Facebook page is an excellent way to stay in contact with not only your core customers but with potential customers as well.

After you have successfully created a business page you can link to it from your own website, e-mail campaigns or other social profiles.

Once live, it is important to keep a regular stream of content populating the wall. Information, pictures and unique content will keep users coming back for more and will also enable you to build up a quality list of contacts for marketing opportunities.

For a free ebook entitled “Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy” visit CodeSpinner

If you would like to learn more about social networking, or would simply like to discuss your online presence or website requirements contact me at:

Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Tel: 07850 009750