KMWeb Designs – Online Marketing Tips For Your Website

Custom Wood Cutting Boards

Mahogany House Woodworks offers custom wood cutting boards made from beautiful walnut, maple and cherry woods. MHW handcrafts each board, which is designed for beauty, and built to last a lifetime in the kitchen. MHW offers a limited lifetime warranty on all products, and most boards ship with 1 free container of board butter to help the cutting board stay conditioned for years to come. Check out their website for handmade and quality, custom wood cutting boards!

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Websites for Homes Investors Made Easy

Cash for Homes Boise is a Boise, Idaho based business specializing in the purchasing of real estate with no contracts, fees or any of the traditional markets. Many homeowners may find themselves in a situation where they need to sell their home for a cash offer quick, whether for  financial issues like bankruptcy, foreclosure or other situations that arise. Whichever the situation, Cash for Homes Boise can give you a quick cash offer on your home in southern Idaho. Areas include Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Eagle, Star and surrounding areas.

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Websites for Contractors

Choosing a web design firm to help design and develop websites for contractors can be tricky.

Luckily, there are a few things to consider when choosing to hire a web design company if you are a commercial or home contractor looking to take your services online.

1. Affordability & Budget

Most contractors have a general budget as to what they want to spend. However, when reviewing companies to use for your website, be sure to properly vette each one as to what they offer with their price. Some designers won’t include any marketing, as others will for varying degrees of cost.

2. Features

Coming into the project with a good ideas as to what you want for your website and which pages to advertise is a good call. This also helps the web design company pin down a detailed proposal easier with little to no surprises down the road when it comes to cost.

3. Availability

Be sure to do your homework when researching firms to make sure that whoever you choose has a great track record of getting back to clients on time, finishing projects on time, and being generally available when questions or issues may arise.

 

4. Design Sells

Lets face it, a well designed site vs. a poorly designed site could be the difference between somebody staying on your website and deciding to call you, or leaving right away. People online can be finicky, so you only have a limited amount of time to grab their attention and guide them down the funnel to contact you, purchase, or whatever the call to action is.

Until Next Time,
Josh Olswanger
Thrive Web Designs – Your Affordable Web Design team

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3 Social Media Essentials for Any Business Owner

Year after year, social media seems to get more popular and more important to incorporate into your online marketing strategy. A common question is, “Can I find new business on Facebook?” The answer is yes. Will you find business? That’s not always an easy answer, but to simply have a social media presence means that people will find your page when looking for it. That in itself is 100x times more effective than not having one at all.
Facebook Business Page

Much like a Facebook personal page, business pages can be setup within 5 minutes and are free and easy to do.

You can create a profile where you will add your business name and description, links back to your website, hours of operation, pictures of your services and/or product, among many other things. Like your personal page, people will be able to post on your news feed and you can respond using that account. Very easy to do, and worth your time.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

 

Twitter

Twitter is a platform that lets you post updates to your “twitter feed” which is seen on any other twitter member’s feed that you have become friends with, or “followed.” As search engines are still concretely concerned with back links and other standard SEO measures, social media avenues like Twitter and Facebook activity are now being thrown into the mix.

http://www.twitter.com

 

Linkedin

If you’re not already familiar with Linkedin, it is the largest networking site for professionals. You can list your credentials/work history and connect with other professionals in your industry and others. Many have known to pick up work or even new jobs by being found by someone else on Linkedin. The service is free, and just like Facebook, it allows you to setup your own profile with images, links to your facebook and twitter, website, among other enhancements.

There are tons of social media sites that are sprouting up. These three mentioned above are by far the most widely used and leave the biggest footprint on your social media marketing efforts.

This post is contributed by Josh Olswanger of Thrive Web Designs, an Idaho web design company.

 

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3 Free Tools That Any Start-Up Business Can Utilize

This article is written by guest-blogger, Josh Olswanger, owner of Thrive Web Designs, a Boise web design firm.

As you venture off to start a new business, you will undoubtedly have a list a mile long of marketing ideas, how you’re planning to find new business, operating procedures, finances, and the list goes on. Creating a business plan should be a necessity when deciding to go for the gold. With today’s day and age, there are so many tools available online to help you not only monitor the status of your website’s traffic, but also help you grow your presence and client/customer experience.

Below are 5 tools that are free and very effective for any business, regardless of what industry you’re in.


1. Google Analytics

Google analytics is a free application that you can integrate into each page of your website to help you monitor traffic. It allows for you to do a very precise drill-down to see how visitors are finding you, which keywords they are typing in to find your website, as well as many other elements including bounce rate percentages. A bounce rate percentage is measured by how long a visitor stays on your website.

Learn more about what a bounce rates and what they mean.

Setting up a Google Analytics is very easy and only requires that you have a gmail account setup, as well as access to the html code of your website. You will enter a snippet of code provided by Google when you setup the account.

Click here to start a free Google Analytics account.


2. MailChimp for E-Newsletters

Including a newsletter within your website by giving away something for free, is a great way to keep visitors coming back for more. Giving away information or advice away is very popular. If you know that your business will definitely grow by the use of a newsletter program, then MailChimp is the weapon of choice. MailChimp is by far the most advanced and intuitive newsletter program available. Even better, it’s free of cost up to 2,000 subscribers, and then affordable packages for over 2,000 subscribers are available. With MailChimp, you can monitor traffic to your newsletter, get in-depth reports on new subscribers, create free newsletter templates using easy-to-use editors, as well as create sign-up forms for your website or blog.

For more information on this great newsletter software, visit MailChimp.com.


3. Blog

Although the importance of a blog and “blogging” is no secret anymore, often times, businesses will overlook this simple but very effective marketing tool. As your website competes for relevancy and ranking power on Google and Bing, search engines are paying more attention to the frequency and quality of the content on each page. Using a blog and integrating it within your website, can prove to help your SEO, in many cases dramatically help.

WordPress is arguably the most popular blogging platform available today. Not only is it free, but also it allows you to customize your own website for those brave enough to handle the task. WordPress also includes many add-ons or “plug-ins” including ones that help your search engine marketing.

As a golden rule, just having a blog doesn’t mean your website will necessarily do better, but including relevant and unique content along with frequently posting new entries usually makes an impact. WordPress offers two different options for setting up a blog. A wordpress blog setup at www.wordpress.com will allow you to host your blog directly from their site for free. This means that your domain name will look something like “www.yourdomain.wordpress.com.” The other option is setting up the blog on your own server/hosting account by going to wordpress.org to setup.

For more information on setting up a custom blog, visit WordPress.org.

Article written by Josh Olswanger of Thrive Web Designs, an Idaho web design company.

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Building Your Local Presence Online

A client of mine just forwarded me a great document about building a stronger local search presence and I wanted to take the time to share it with all of you. When you have some spare time, these are some great tips on how you can work on your own SEO (Search Engine Optimization) without ever touching your site! (Source: Customer Lobby)

Claim and add detail to local search listings
Add information, upload photos and videos. Exact, Accurate and Consistent.

Must Do:

  • Google Place Page: click here
    – Only change inaccurate data in Google Place Page to avoid “red flagging”.
    – Choose your category by writing what you are (e.g. Roofer, Plumber). Use this tool to help.
    – Choose your description by describing what you do (e.g. Installing roofs).
  • Localeze (claiming basic listing is free): click here
  • Universal Business Listing ($30/year): click here
  • InfoUSA (claiming listing is free): click here

Should Do:

If you have extra time:

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Your Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal: Weapon #4 – Stationery

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Like last week’s post on business cards, stationery is a very inexpensive way to market your business professionally. From letterhead, envelopes, postcards and note cards, there are lots of opportunities to brand your business and ensure you are directing people to your online presence.

In everything that you do, you should always have at least three things on your print pieces: Your company name, your email address and your website. Above and beyond that, your name, address and phone number would also be important to have.

While printing locally is always an option, I always find great deals at sites like VistaPrint.com and UPrinting.com, and doing a quick search for coupons at those sites will typically net you savings of an additional 10-25%. Spend a few minutes of bargain hunting and you can spend next to nothing for some great stationary. And if you need help with design, just let me know. You can view some examples of our stationary designs here.

For my business, I’ve opted not to spend money on things like branded envelopes. Instead, I’ve printed off color address labels and have used those on regular white envelopes. It saves me a few bucks and still looks professional. I also make sure those labels have my website on there. It has nothing to do with the mailing address, but you never know who might see that in route to its destination.

My biggest stationary expensive comes at Christmas time, where I have always hand written holiday cards to my clients (we’ll talk more about that later). That said, a personal note to your best customers during the summer months, on a branded postcard or note card, may be a great reminder that you are thankful for their business, and you won’t be competing for their attention like you would around the holidays.

If you decide to dive into postcards, you may want to look at designing and mailing an oversized card. These are typically 8.5” x 5.5” (versus the standard 5.5” x 4” size). It might cost you a few extra bucks, but it will help you stand out from all the other mail businesses are getting. Remember, like all other print marketing, your messages should be concise and to the point. Avoid lots of wording and make sure to include a call to action.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that your stationary carries your online brand into the print world. I’ve seen too much stationary that makes no mention of the company’s online presence, and that’s just missing a great opportunity.

Leave a comment and let us know how you are using stationery to promote your business!

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Your Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal: Weapon #3 – Business Cards

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I’ve used business cards since day one. In fact, I had my own cards before I even took on my first web design client. It’s such a simple concept that I think a lot of people undervalue their importance, especially in this digital age. It’s certainly a marketing tool that every small business owner, ministry and organization should be using, but let’s take a few minutes to think about how we’re actually putting those cards to use so they don’t collect dust in that fancy card holder you spouse picked up.

The biggest question you should ask yourself is how your business card is working for you? Beyond some contact information that can easily be entered into a phone or contact list and then discarded as quickly as it was given, does your card hold any other value?

What if the back of your card encouraged people to refer your services? If you sell merchandise online, what if you added a 5% off coupon code on the back? Adding a reminder to subscribe to your newsletter, or visit your blog, would be another great way to add value to your business card, making it work for you.

Any time I mail a contract out to my clients, or cards around the holidays, I make sure to include three of my business cards. As my business grows, more and more of my leads are generated by referrals, and having a few extra cards handy ensures my clients can easily recommend me to others if they wish. I also make sure to have a number in my wallet and a few in each of my cars. I never know when an opportunity will come to talk about my business and I’ve always been disappointed when I can’t execute on the question, “do you have a card?”

Another way to use business cards is to take out the personalization and simply use them as a cheap way to market your business. Think of it as a mini postcard that can easily fit in a pocket or wallet. My wife and I started a coupon site a few years back called shopestores.com and to help promote it, we designed a simple, two color design that included the logo, tagline and a short sentence talking about the site. Over the years, we’ve handed out thousands to friends and family, inserted in bills we’ve paid, left at restaurants with the tip and other miscellaneous places. It’s a great way to talk about your business without having to talk about your business.

Of course, the downside of business cards is that they are pretty hard to track their effectiveness. But thankfully, they are cheap to produce and easy to hand out. I would recommend many of the online printers like VistaPrint.com or UPrinting.com. I recently purchased 2500 cards for under $60 (with shipping). And if you need help with design, just let me know. You can view some more examples of our business card and stationary designs here.

At the end of the day, your business cards should be working for you and doing more than simply sharing your contact information. If not, you are missing out on a wide range of opportunities.

Remember, it’s up to you to keep the conversation going. I’ll be back soon with more weapons for your guerrilla marketing arsenal.

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Your Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal: Weapon #2 – A Marketing Calendar

Now that you have your marketing plan in place (see previous post) we want to avoid the panic attacks of having too much to do in so little time. If you did it right, your marketing plan should be overflowing with ideas to explore. The reality is, like anything else, you’re going to sow exactly what you put in, so let’s focus on prioritizing your list and giving each item the time it deserves. The last thing you want to do is jump from idea to idea without fully seeing each item to its full potential.

A marketing calendar is extreamly helpful in keeping track of promotions and setting goals and timelines to ensure a successful launch. Any solid promotion should have multiple marketing tactics attached, and it can be easy to drop the ball or miss an opportunity unless you are documenting your steps.

To get started, I would suggest purchasing a cheap 12-month calendar so you can get a good glimpse of the entire year quickly. You can also do this in Excel by downloading a calendar template. A calendar view is handy if you have promotions that are going to overlap each other.

Clearly connect or color code you promotions by writing down a start date and an end date. That way, you can quickly see when a promotion starts and when it ends.

Once you have your promotions in place, now it’s time to add your marketing goals. If a promotion starts on the first of the month, you will want to ensure you have all of your promotional materials ready for that month. What changes will you need on your site? When will they be due to your webmaster? What images and banners will you need for your promotion? When will the promotion be announced to your email subscribers?

Of course, this may sound like a lot of unnecessary work, and if you don’t have a lot going on, it probably is. But the only way to grow your business online is to remain active, and eventually, flying by the seat of your pants will only take you so far. If you start now, it will be second nature by the time you’re rocking and rolling.

It’s up to you to keep the conversation going. I’ll be back soon with more weapons for your guerrilla marketing arsenal.

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Your Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal: Weapon #1 – A Marketing Plan

As an entrepreneur, I’m always on the go. It’s one of the best things about paving your own way. If you want to do something, you just do it–no red tape, no long meetings or boring presentations. Of course, that can be both a blessing and a curse as too often, I’m flying a bit blind with no eye on the end game.

I got my first true wake up call about three years ago, when a competing business of mine called me up and started asking me all these questions that I’d never put an ounce of thought into answering before. “Where do you see your business in five years?” “Have you ever thought about selling your business?” “What type of salary would you take if you were part of a company but still managing your business?” My silence and stumbling quickly gave me away. I had no clue. I was simply basking in the glory of my success, blind to the reality that there was an actual future ahead of me.

So after that phone call, I sat down to create my first business plan. What came out of that planning was a relaunch of one of my main sites, which is now one of the top sites in its category, welcoming over 120,000 visitors every month. In three years, it is now bringing in almost as much revenue as KMWeb Designs.  I can guarantee you, if that company never would have challenged me to seriously look at where I was going, that site would have never took off the way it did.

Was it a marketing plan? Not really. But in all honesty, a marketing plan follows close to a business plan. They both establish where you are going and force you to envision your future and attainable, realistic goals. Without them, you are lost and treading water, whether you are successful or not.

So where do you start with an online marketing plan? My suggestions are to start as basic as possible and if it involves throwing huge amounts of cash at solutions, you’re taking the easy way out that will return very little. Instead of detailing what you should do, how about answering some of the following questions? This should get your marketing plan started and give you plenty to do in the coming weeks:

  • What is bringing people to my website?
  • What is keeping people on my website once they get there?
  • What is encouraging people to return to my website after they leave?
  • How are people finding me online?
  • What are people saying about me online?
  • Where are people talking about my industry online and am I part of the conversation?
  • What social networks am I a part of (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter)?
  • Who is my main audience?
  • What audience should I be reaching that I am not?
  • Are there local and/or national organizations that represent what I do?
  • Where could my business serve my local community?
  • What can I do to encourage people to talk about my business with others?
  • How would my competition answer these questions and what are they doing that I am not?

Take a few minutes and answer these questions. The answers should give you quite a few ideas on how to build your basic marketing plan that should include your overall messages, your audience, your budget and your plan of attack.

Go start the conversation and I’ll be back soon with more weapons for your guerrilla marketing arsenal.

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