Small Business Web Design Tips for Reading PA and Beyond

Call PMI near Reading PA for help in setting your Website Design and Web Marketing strategyWhether you run a small business in a town the size of Reading, Lancaster, or Allentown PA, or a large city like Philadelphia, it’s wise to focus your time and resources on those efforts which are most likely to bring the best return on a small business budget. At the same time, you want to promote your business in those places where it is most likely to be found by your potential customers. Hence, good web design and web marketing principles work hand-in-hand to produce winning results.

Nowadays most small business owners seriously consider and eventually implement a website. But the reasoning behind that decision and the goals that are set to drive your web design and web marketing efforts will be the keys to your success. In web design, as with most complex endeavors, planning makes the difference.

Therefore, start by considering and clearly defining your fundamental web design goals. Is it:

An Advertisement – like an online version of a billboard or magazine ad?
A Lead Generator – with a goal of finding prospects, building your company’s reputation, and persuading prospects to contact you or to sign up for more information?
An Information Portal – where people come to learn from the expert information you offer?
An Online Retail Location – where customers can buy products or services from your business?
Something Else – force yourself to be specific. Web design is a considerable expense for a typical small business, so think it through before you begin the web design process.

Whatever the goals you set for your website design and marketing project, start by clearly articulating your expectations and how you will identify success. What is your desired outcome? How will you know when you have arrived? Then, work with your web designer to ensure the site is designed to accomplish your goals.

In the next installment, we will discuss best practices in web design to maximize your chances for true success.

Is your website meeting your business needs? Contact us for a free consultation at 484-297-6395.

Mobile-Commerce Web Design Tips for Reading PA and Beyond

Mobile E-Commerce M-Commerce Reading PALarger online merchants are rapidly adapting their web design and web marketing strategies to include e-commerce websites that are optimized for use on iPhones, Droids, iPads, and other mobile devices. For those who are paying attention, the momentum toward mobile e-commerce (M-commerce) is unmistakable. It is only a matter of time before the trend filters down to medium and smaller sized businesses. It’s not too soon for smaller firms to begin preparing to optimize their main site and especially their shopping sites for mobile use.

Internet Retailer Conference, San Diego:
I recently attended the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in San Diego, June 14-17, in search of the latest in m-commerce and other new technologies. I’m happy to report that there is good news for small and mid-sized businesses: the cost of creating a shopping site optimized for mobile shoppers has come down – way down! This is a great time for smaller businesses to take the leap because for the first time the technology is truly affordable even for very small operations.

Here are some online and mobile media trends that may surprise you:

  1. Mobile internet access is expected to exceed traditional desktop access as early as 2014 (KalioMobile, June 2011, IRCE)
  2. US mobile commerce sales doubled in 2010 to $3.4 billion, and are projected to account for 12% of global e-commerce by 2015 (ABI Research, per PayPal Merchant Services, IRCE – June 2011)
  3. In 2010 PayPal processed $750 million in mobile payments in 2010, 4x the mobile payments of 2009 (IRCE, June 2011)
  4. There were over 5 million PayPal mobile users in 2010, which is expected to double in 2011 (IRCE, June 2011)

Still not convinced? Check out these stats published by HubSpot and the Marketing Data Box, Q1, 2011:

  1. Mobile Ads are expected to Increase 60% in 2011
  2. Online ads reach 45% of US population (comScore, January 2011)
  3. Ecommerce spending hit a record $43.4 billion in 2010 Q4 vs. $39 billion in 2009 Q4, up 11% despite the sluggish economy
  4. ComScore predicts double-digit US e-commerce spending growth throughout 2011
  5. Harris Interactive predicts US youth e-commerce spending to increase roughly 9% in 2011 to $123.5 billion (ages 8-21)
  6. The online news audience was up 17% in 2010 over 2009, but every other medium was either stalled or down, according to Pew Research
  7. For the first time, in 2010 more people reported getting their news online than from newspapers (Pew Research)
  8. Online ad revenue now exceeds print ad revenue (online ad revenue is up 13.9%, vs. print down 6.4%)
  9. 2010 saw an average 179 million US video online viewers per month, up 12% from 2009.
2011 is promising to represent a golden opportunity for nimble smaller businesses to overtake their larger peers in the mobile marketing arena if they act swiftly. Why? Because sophisticated shopping cart systems are more affordable than ever, and some include mobile cart optimization in the standard monthly fee! If you can’t bear the thought of converting your highly customized shopping cart to a standardized system just to get the benefits of mobile optimization, you can purchase a stand-alone mobile cart system for a monthly fee of approximately $100 and up depending on the number of unique monthly visitors.

For a quick sense of how effective shopping can be on a mobile device, go to www.Amazon.com from your iPhone, Droid, or other mobile device. Or, download the Amazon iPhone shopping app for an even better experience.

2011 will prove to be a great time for many firms to revise their web design strategy to include an optimized m-commerce shopping experience. Is this your time to make the move?

 

QR Codes and Web Marketing – 14 Helpful Tips

QR Code Power Marketing International Reading PABe sure your Web marketing strategy includes the use of QR codes if applicable to your overall marketing goals. QR code use is rapidly being adopted by businesses as a convenient way to enhance a customer’s in-store shopping experience or hard-copy reading experience by providing an immediate connection to online content. Using free QR-reader software, the customer or lead simply scans a QR code using their smart phone. Ideally, they are then taken to a smart phone-optimized web page containing helpful information, a special offer, or other item of interest.  See process below.

QR Code Summary, courtesy Search Engine Watch

Search Engine Watch recently posted a very helpful, information-packed article on this topic. Here is a quick summary of their key points. A link to their full article appears at the end of this post.

1. A QR Code is a 2D Barcode

2. 2D Barcodes Can Store a Variety of Data

3. Read/Decode a 2D Barcode by Scanning it With a Smartphone

4. 2D Barcodes Can be Placed in and on Nearly Any Location

6. QR Isn’t the Only Type of 2D Barcode

7. Tools to Generate and Read 2D Barcodes are Free

8. Management Tools are Available to Track Scanning Analytics

9. 2D Barcode Content Should Provide Special Value for the Customer

10. Small or Complex QR Codes Can’t be Scanned by Smartphones With Lesser Quality Cameras

11. Consumers Need Guidance to Scan 2D Barcodes

12. 2D Barcodes can be Customized Artistically

13. Testing Scannability is Imperative.

14. Seek Expertise to Ensure Successful Campaigns

Don’t miss out on this easy and inexpensive way to extend and enhance your print marketing, web marketing, and social media marketing power.  To learn more click here.

Great Web Design & Marketing Starts with Great Copywriting

Great Reading PA Web Design Starts With Great CopywritingThose of us in web design, web marketing, and social media marketing would do well to consider the goal of our efforts.  As the ancient writer explained 3000 years ago, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  But wait, you say, technology is changing so fast that it takes daily attention just to keep up with the breathless, dizzying pace of change. Granted, but when it comes to human nature, there really is nothing new, is there? We have the same basic emotional and psychological desires and needs that we had 3000 years ago. Although the methods and technologies for pursuing them have evolved, our underlying needs and basic human nature have remained unchanged throughout history. We still want to be confident we’re making the right purchasing decisions; we want to know that the person or company we’re dealing with has our best interest in mind and has the right product or service to meet our needs.

Write your copy before starting your web designThat’s why writing great copy should be the first priority in any web design or web marketing effort. Great copy is the bedrock of communication and persuasion, and the key to delivering a convincing message to an increasingly sophisticated buyer. Therefore, as marketers it is smart to first determine the main goal and core message of each marketing effort, including each page of our web design and each section within each page, in an effort to increase our chances for success.

With the message firmly established we can then design the website, web page, landing page, email content, or other online or printed content around a clear message and goal. The final product is then likely to contain a more cohesive, integrated design that feels right, looks right, and gets results.

Let’s break it down. First, the effort to create compelling, clearly communicated, persuasive copy forces us to think about what we are trying to accomplish. I don’t know about you, but my best results have usually come by following the principle of “beginning at the beginning”, and when we’re charging for our services or time, I think we owe that to our clients, don’t you?

Question: What is the beginning?

Answer: Clearly defining the goal we want to achieve

In designing websites and marketing campaigns for businesses and other organizations, the goal we’re trying to achieve is often to persuade someone to take a specific action, such as:

  • buy a product or service
  • complete a form to capture contact or other information
  • refer us to others
  • participate in our blog or other social media activities
  • donate
  • request, access, or download additional information
  • click here

Getting clear on our goal or series of goals helps us to properly set our design priorities.  Gaining clarity and agreement on those priorities builds trust with the client, and, best of all, helps ensure our efforts will achieve the client’s intended result.

Target your Reading PA Web Design effort only after completing your copy writingWith our goals clearly stated and prioritized we are now ready to create what I refer to as an “informational wireframe”, a general page structure not in terms of physical layout, but in the hierarchy and flow of information, words, and thought. As any good copywriter knows, there is a flow and structure that begins with an attention-getting headline and generally leads to a call to action. Often a given web page will have multiple sub-messages and calls to action, but nevertheless, these should each be developed and articulated before designing the physical layout.

Finally, the website’s graphical design and physical layout are much easier to develop if the designer first has the above elements in hand. This leads to formulating graphics and an overall page structure that is well-integrated with the message, yielding a design that is much more likely to feel right, look right, and get results. And that’s what we’re all after.

Want to achieve a great web design and solid web marketing results? Start with great copywriting.