Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Always take the time to harvest the fruits of your labor…

Let me begin by saying writing articles is a fantastic way to get your name on the Internet as an authority in your field – it is also a wonderful way to gain exposure for your website, blog or e-zine. I would go so far as to claim it is one of the best ways to build your online database… But (and there is always a but!) You need to do it the right way or all your time and effort will be wasted, you will be one of the nay Sayers going around whining “I have tried it, it doesn't work”. Sometimes we have to step back take a deep breath and look at what we are doing and most of all how we are doing it. I have learned over the years that everything has its price. We all have to go through the process and do things right – when we take short cuts things don't work. And then one has to start the process all over again… This is true with everything in life, creating articles and using them for marketing is no different. I recently started consulting with a company, helping them put together a marketing strategy that would work for them. They eventually want to write articles to be posted to an article distribution websites, are so busy at this time it is next to impossible. We decided in the initial phase of the marketing plan we would work to get a blog up and all the SEO (search engine optimization) done correctly so that we have a solid foundation. The decision was also made to go out and get some free articles to place on the blog’s we are creating. In researching and pulling articles I begin to discover that the articles I found and liked had a resource box at the end they did not have a link back to their website! I was totally astounded - did they really think that a link was not important? You must must make it easy for someone to access information about you and your business – a link is like the key to unlock your store… Did they really think that anyone would take the time to find them through researching information in the byline? Hardly... I as a consumer would click on a link but would probably in all honesty not go to the trouble of finding them any other way. Even more astounding – I went a step further - I really like a few of these articles, I thought it would be great to be able to look at a website they had or some information they may give me. I decided to e-mail them through the article submission website. I e-mail about 6 individuals that had taken the time to write these articles and submit them (not always an easy task). I did not hear back from any of them, not one!! Amazing… Lesson to take from this: Please make sure you pay attention to details that could (will) cost you business… Please make sure and follow up with all emails What can we learn from this? Always take the time to harvest the fruits of your labor… After all if you were a farmer would you go to all the painstaking trouble to plow the orchard – plant the seeds, pamper the trees to maturity – fertilize and spray so the bugs don’t eat the buds and destroy your fruit. Then when the fruit is beautiful, ripe and ready to be consumed you let it fall to the ground and rot… Isn’t that exactly what is happening in the above scenario?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Does the Host You Choose Make a Difference?

Do you ever think about who is hosting your website, do you think it matters? Yes of course it does!

A web host is someone who “houses” you website/pages. A good analogy is it is like you are renting an on-line store. So it is important when renting this space that it is big enough to hold prospective customers that come into it. It is equally as important to have a space that will be able to manage all the inventory – and products you need to put in it. You also need a big enough door for you customers to fit through.

This is a simplification but honestly a host is so very important when considering the success of your online business. There are many hosting companies on the internet, some look great but are terrible, some charge an arm and a leg but do no more than a hosting company that charges a reasonable amount.

I have worked with hosting companies that I loved in the beginning then they cut the customer service (I left – I do not work with any company that does not offer excellent customer service). I do not work with hosting businesses I cannot get responses from or will not help me directly… I will only work with hosting companies (personally I have one I love) that enable me to get into the back end and add or take away an email and really manage my site.

This is so very important – yet sometime overlooked. You need a host that is up 99.99 % of the time. If a visitor comes to your website and it is down, chances are they will not come back. What happens then? A missed sale and a chance to have a life long customer.

One hosting company I highly recommend is Hands On Web Hosting I have had nothing but great customer service from them, I have actually gotten to know them quite well.

Word of Caution: Do not use a free host for you online business… They are NEVER what you need- some of them will not even let you use your own domain name. Most free hosting site have you put up banners and ads - how unprofessional is that!

If you are serious about your business, you must appear successful and if you cannot even afford a host for your website - what is that saying about you? It is so obvious to visitors that your business must be floundering - or not very successful…

This may seem like a small thing, but it is a big thing when marketing your business online.

Pamela Jacob - Artista Design

Providing Creative Solutions & Amazing Results

Monday, July 9, 2007

If you are not using this tool, you are missing the boat!!

I am sure by now all of you must know about Google Analytics. If not (where have you been?) You will hear me roar about it today. I just recently decided to get off my lazy duff and really take the time to use it. I also put it on a client's site – I am overwhelmed with the expansive amount of information that I can gather with this fabulous tool. I don't see why Google would give this away for free… Don't tell them that however. This amazing tool will do everything from telling you where your visitors are coming from – what nation – what search engine – what web page. How long did they stay on your site? Was it a new/unique visitor or a repeat/loyal web visitor? It has graphs and even a global map, when you go over this map you will be amazed to see where people are accessing your website from – I have people in Africa – Europe and everywhere in between accessing my site. This is just scratching the surface – you can set goals and look at many more details. If you don't have it on your website get it – if you have a web person have them put the code on the pages you want to track and go in and monitor your site make decisions on what is working and what is not by using this wonderful tool… Believe it or not they are now in the process of having an upgraded version that should be launched by the end of this month – this will replace the old version and is widely touted to be new, improved and easier to use… I don't know how it can be easier or give more information than it does right now but WOW!! To register for this free service go to : http://www.google.com/analytics If you are serious about your business don’t wait a second longer… Have a fabulous day!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

So you think your need traffic? Think again!

Are you ready for visitors? Maybe not!

I have a project request form that I have potential clients fill out when contacting me for possible services. It asks various things, and provides me with an overall idea of where they stand now and where they hope to go, 60% of the time their main concerns is attracting visitors to their website. I have found in getting these requests that many times these companies are not even close to having a website that converts their visitors into paying customers or clients. Quite the contrary – their website is just an online brochure without any legs (and sometime not a very good brochure at that).

An online brochure may have been all that was needed in the past, not anymore. You will not even see a fraction of the success you could have if you were to put all the proper pieces in place. *Note: It is better to have an online brochure than nothing at all.

Businesses need to have a website. If you have this type of website it should be upgraded as soon as you can afford it. You can have a million visitors a day and if your website has nothing of interest you will not benefit from traffic to your website. Worse yet if your website turns them off by, looking unprofessional – tacky – or not targeted to your individual target market guess what? They will go somewhere else.

It doesn't matter how great your service is, or what you know. It really doesn't even matter how great your product is– you will not get the business. They will not stick around long enough to find out.

One thing that is very important to understand, businesses and individuals alike go online to actively research products and services, before they decide who they will do business with. Visitors really need to believe in your ability to deliver. They need to know you are not just a bunch of hype. If you are selling goods or services, they want to know you are credible, and they are getting what they pay for.

It is a fact a visitor who goes to a website will go to that website several times before making a purchase or inquiring about a service. This being the case – what do you have that will bring guests back? How will you keep your business in front of these potential customers/clients? They are visiting your site, they are obviously interested in what you have to say or sell. They are just not ready to make a commitment yet.

Having worked and developed websites for years, I understand that businesses are different, and you may not need a lot of bells and whistles. You do, however need a website that stands out from your competition. So what do you do?

Offer more to your visitor – great information, a free report, fantastic resources. Have them sign up before you disperse the information. You definitely want to collect the name and emails of people who are interested in your product or service. Using an auto responder will make this task so much easier. Do not have them fill out more than just a name and an e-mail. I personally hate long forms, unless I am ready to purchase the goods and services. Using an online Auto Responder will add names and emails to an online database. This allows you to stay in touch with people who are interested in your business.

They may not be buying your services today but may need them tomorrow. A database is gold and if you use an auto responder to collect emails – to keep in touch with your potential clients and visitors you will be amazed at how your business will explode. One word of caution, make sure you have a privacy policy.

Do not under any circumstances provide or sell your list to anyone.

The bottom line - – get your website in the best shape possible – put marketing pieces in place. Get your SEO (search engine optimization) tweaked and then start submitting to search engines and utilizing other online marketing strategies.

I have an e-book that will give you many ideas on how to get a stream of visitors to you website. I am offering it for free, go to http://artistadesign.com - you will get immediate access. If you need help in constructing a plan for your online success, consulting – as well as hands on work, send me an email. A lot of business owners just don't have the time or expertise to do this on their own. That is why they hire me – I break it down into phases, and we do what is required to reach your goals. To Your Success!

Pamela Jacob - Artista Design

Providing Creative Solutions & Amazing Results

Monday, July 2, 2007

Is Your Ego Holding You Back?

I must say – I really had to struggle with this one…

I have always been a person who prides themselves in listening to my clients. I also know I have a great eye for style and design (that is where the trouble comes in). Art is subjective and so not everyone will like everything someone designs or has designed.

That is just a reality.

As a professional designer – I tend to want my personal designs/websites etc. to lean toward the dramatic, that is something I enjoy designing as well as looking at – that is who I am.

When you access my website you will see what I mean. One day I received an e-mail from a visitor to this blog, they were really frustrated with the dark background. In fact they continued to tell me that they would not read my information as long as it was on a black background – then doubted my ability as an artist (at least that is what I read…), they then preceded to tell me they would never take the time to read it based on the design .

Initially I was a little perturbed at this, then I begin to feel insulted, I genuinely thought “It has such great information how could they just dismiss it – besides I am an Artist and Designer how dare they question my ability”.

How many of us find ourselves doing this?

After the indignation and a polite e-mail (with a few of my credentials) I had to let them know they were not dealing with an amateur (somebody immature perhaps – but not an amateur!!).

After stewing about it for a day or two I then thought.

Had my ego actually gotten that big? When did I stop listening to the critical but important messages and e-mails I was getting from my viewers. I really needed to take a step back. I have always prided myself on the fact that I didn't have an over blown ego. Well guess what – reality hit me and knocked me down a peg or two.

How many of you have ever felt like I did, dismissed something that would benefit you and/or your business (perhaps a little ego check would be in order)?

Do you really think about what your customers or visitors are telling you even if it struck a raw nerve? I know I am an expert in a lot of areas, however shouldn't I take a good look at what is being said before I dismiss it, shouldn't you, think about it.

How many people really felt the way this individual did but did not take their precious time to e-mail me – and just never came back?

Because of this epiphany (basically being honest with myself). I have decided to change the black back ground. After all, my ultimate goal is to help anyone that wants to benefit from my experience and knowledge – even more important I want to benefit from your knowledge.

Most of all I need to thank that person who took the time to write me a personal e-mail. I am going to invite them back…

Pamela Jacob - Artista Design

Providing Creative Solutions & Amazing Results