Monthly Archives: December 2011

17 more tips for using Facebook for business

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you would already know that Direct Sites Online is a great advocate of using social media platforms to grow your business.

We’ve given you the basic information about establishing your Facebook business page and how to increase likes, so now we thought we might give you a quick list of other things to do to make your Facebook presence work for you.

  1. Don’t mix your personal profile with your business page.
  2. If you do, then make lists and use the privacy settings, you don’t want your business contacts to see some of your more personal posts.
  3. Reinforce your brand by posting business-like photos of yourself on your business page.
  4. Post business updates on your wall. Keep it professional, but it doesn’t hurt your clients to see the human side of you.  For example, “Have five new clients today. Wondering whether I will be able to get to the post-Christmas sales.”
  5. Have your website URL visible on your Facebook Welcome page.
  6. Use applications to integrate your blog and newsletter to your page.
  7. Fill out your profile completely – including the option to reveal yourself as the page owner.
  8. Network with other Facebook business pages in your field. Seek collaboration opportunities.
  9. Post special deals and discounts for your likers.
  10. Join networks and groups related to your industry.
  11. Share useful articles that relate to your field and will interest your fans.
  12. Post survey and questions to get a feel for your audience.
  13. Research prospects before contacting them.
  14. Add your Facebook URL to all your marketing collateral.
  15. Establish trust by suggest complementary pages to your likers.
  16. Update your page on a regular basis.
  17. Respond to comments and wall posts in a timely fashion.

These are just some of the ways that Facebook can benefit your business. We’d love you to share others in the comments section.

And if you need help with your Facebook business page, contact Direct Sites Online now on info@directsitesonline.com

 

Using Skype for business

Skype has been around for almost 10 years, and a lot of people who have family and friends interstate and overseas have falling in love with that fact that it offers free (or cheap) phone and video calls.

Yet much of the business world is yet to embrace it, which, honestly, surprises us here at Direct Sites Online. After all, it’s an efficient, simple and inexpensive way to not only communicate with stakeholders, but also share files.

It is especially useful in this shrinking world, where your contract web content manager may well live in Timbuktu.

Skype offers some great benefits for businesses, for example: free Skype-Skype calls, video calling, conference calls, file and screen sharing, instant messaging and more. And, for a small financial outlay, you can also use Skype to call landlines and mobiles as well as texting. See more on the Skype website.

So how can this make you work smarter?

“Face-to-Face” customer service
A lot of people prefer that one-on-one interaction, but if they can’t come to your bricks and mortar store – or you are online only – video calling is the next best thing.

Team communication
Engage your remote team members and make them feel more valued with regular video calling.

Simple conference calls
Skype can connect you with three or more parties, and is a lot cheaper and easier than using most other conference call providers.

Instant messaging
If you have an important piece of information to share with you team, and you don’t want it lost in email inboxes, you can use the Skype instant messaging option and everyone will get a “pop up” on their screen.

File and screen sharing
Send files through Skype so that the other people on the line will be able to refer to them immediately – great for meeting agendas or documents that need input from various experts. There is also a screen sharing option, which is great for team training and tutorials.

If you need help in setting up Skype, and discovering all its benefit, contact Direct Sites Online at info@directsitesonline.com.

My Skype address is peternflint if you would like to chat “face-to-face” about any other internet marketing, social media or web project.

Tips for a successful e-mail campaign

We’ve all heard that email marketing is a great way to get directly to our customers and we know that we should have a newsletter subscription on our website.

But, think about it, how many of these newsletters fall into you inbox each week? And how many do you delete without reading?

Then have a think about what is it the ones that you read have that makes them so appealing? I can guarantee it’s that they have adhered to most – if not all – of the following tips.

1/First impressions count: Compare the subject lines: “News from Acme Widgets” and “Exciting news from Acme Widgets”. It’s one word but how many of you would be more likely to open the email with the second subject line?

There are a few other things to keep in mind when determining the subject: don’t use the same subject line too often – opens rates will decline; Don’t make it too long, a few choice words is all you need; try to avoid oft-used words such as “free” “help” or “remember”; If you can localise the subject line, all the better – “Exciting Widget news for MyTown residents”.

2/ Avoid being too spammy: People are much less likely to open your emails if they end up in their spam folder, but how do you stop that happening? It’s not an exact science, but there are some things you can do to avoid raising the red flag of your recipients spam filter: Don’t over use capitals or exclamation marks; spammy, impersonal phrasing; sloppy coding;  sending too many cc’s or bcc’s.

3/ Timing is (almost) everything: It’s best to avoid Mondays or Fridays when sending bulk emails, and you shouldn’t send them too early in the day or too late. If someone receives your email late, they are likely to defer it till the next day, and it will be buried under new issues. It’s hard to say an “exact” time as it depends on your target audience. You probably need to experiment and see what time works the best for you.

4/ Tidy up your email list. If your evaluation shows that someone is constantly not opening your emails, get rid of them. They are not worth the effort.

5/ Evaluate your process: In line with the above tip, make sure that your invitation to sign up for your newsletter is correctly targeted; otherwise you will get a whole lot of email contacts that will never be potential customers. On the other hand – make it as easy as possible for the right people to sign up. And create lists so the right information goes to the right people, rather than a generic email going to all.

Remember, you will never get a 100 per cent open rate; you probably won’t even get a 50 per cent open rate. But if the rate is hovering around 15-20 per cent, you should consider your campaign a success.

Contact Direct Sites Online at info@directsitesonline.com now to discuss the best ways to get your email marketing campaign working for your business.

The secrets of SEO success

With more than 10 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimisation, I’m here to tell you the secret of a successful SEO strategy – research, research, research and then more research.

This is the only way that you will be able to determine the right keywords for your website – and it’s no quick fix. Sorry.

This really does take time and patience, and if you spend no other money on your marketing, it’s worth calling in the experts for this.

You might have a reasonably good idea of what are the best keywords for your website, and they might even get you a top 5 Google ranking. But if they are chosen poorly, even a good ranking could lead to no traffic, or no conversions.

When choosing your keywords, your SEO profession will take four main factors into account.

  1. Relevance: How closely do your keywords match your industry? And remember there are more than one way to Google most products and services. So if you’re a hairdresser,
    you need to consider not only “hairdresser” as a keyword, but also “hair dresser, hair care, barber, hair stylist” and more. But, here’s a sobering thought. If you Google “hairdresser”, you get nearly 31 million results. So, instead, try using more specific keyword phrases, such as “St Kilda hair stylist extensions”. You still get 158,000 results, but that’s a big difference. And if you also have a Google Places listing, there’s a very good chance that you will come up the top of the search. And unless you have a bottomless pit of money, you probably don’t want to try to rank for every keyword possible. Your SEO expert will advise on which are the best.
  2. Competitors: See above re 31 million results for hairdresser. That means 31 million competitors have used “hairdresser” as a keyword. Ouch. The lesson here is to
    use keywords that are less common – otherwise you may as well throw your money down the toilet.
  3. Search volume: This is basically the number of people around the world (or around the corner) who search on your keywords daily.  So, if 1 million people
    search on a particular keyword but only 10,000 on another. Then you know which is better.
  4. Keyword effectiveness: Put simply, this compares the search volume with the competition and measures how effective certain keywords will be.

SEO experts know how to tread the fine line between a keywords being too general and too specific and we have the knowledge to make your SEO campaign successful.

But remember, things like this take time. A good SEO strategy will see your business slowly rise in the Google rankings. And there are a tonne of dodgy SEO “experts” out there. So if your contractor promises overnight success – don’t believe them.

To learn more about Direct Sites Online SEO packages, contact us today on info@directsitesonline.com.au

 

Tips for successful web hosting

You would think that finding a web hosting service would be a simple thing – Google “web hosts”, find the cheapest that suits the size of your site and “boom”, you have a hosting service on which to place your all-important website.

And therein lies the rub. In this digital age, your website is all-important, which is why you need to put some time, research and thought into the best hosting service for your needs.

Just imagine if the server is down for any period of time – how many potential sales could you lose? Or if the service is unreliable, or slow, deterring customer from coming back to your site (if they bother to go there at all).

So what should you look for in a hosting plan?

Reliability and downtime

No hosting service can guarantee 100% reliability – and if they do, it probably should ring alarm bells. Not only does unexpected stuff happen to affect the server, sometimes downtime is needed for maintenance. And when you have customers worldwide, it’s going to be at a bad time for someone. It will, however, be unlikely to run to more than an hour or so annually. And when unforeseen things happen, the gold-standard web-hosting services will have a back-up plan, which again means
any downtime is limited. So check out the contingency plans and find a provider that gets as close as possible to 100 per cent reliability.

Local provider

See above in relation to scheduled downtime – if you have a local provider, then their maintenance work is likely to be at a time convenient to your business. Unless, of course, the majority of your customers are in a different time zone. Another advantage of a local provider is that Google tends to favour locally-based websites for local searches. So, for example, if you sell widgets in Melbourne, and have an Australian-based hosting service, you are more likely to come up on the first page for a search originating in Melbourne than if your provider is based in the US.

Customer service and technical support

If your website was to suddenly disappear, or you stop receiving emails, you want it fixed immediately, no matter what time of
the day or night. So you want your provider to offer 24/7 tech support and customer service. Not all of the cheaper, developing world providers have this. And your business can’t afford to be offline for a couple of days while you track someone down. Also, a polite, live person on the end of a phone line doesn’t hurt either.

Cost

This is the last for a reason. A lot of small businesses have limited funds, so cost is put higher on the list of must haves. But if the above three tips are not followed, then it really is false economy – you could be paying peanuts and get monkeys, as they say. But it is important that you only pay for what you need. If you have two employees and a three-page information website, you don’t need to pay a premium for unlimited emails and a shopping cart facility. Alternatively, organisations with a lot of content
and a lot of traffic need to be confident their server can handle their business and, to do that, they may need to pay a premium.

Direct Sites Online offers a number of web hosting plans to suit all types of businesses. Contact us today on info@directsitesonline.com

Seven tips to drive traffic to your WordPress website

So, you’ve listened to those who know about search engine optimisation and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website coding and set up your small business website with WordPress, and now you want to know how to get traffic to your site.

If you follow these 10 steps, you should start to see an increase in unique hits, as well as return visitors.

  1. Content: Make sure you update your content regularly and that your copy is professionally written and interesting.  Your site should include a blog that offers information, advice and sets you up as a subject matter expert. Also, make sure your “About” page is complete and includes some information about why you do what you do. People like the personal approach.
  2. Share: You can get a plug-in for the site which allows readers to share on various social networks. The key sites for sharing are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
    Hopefully, if people share, it will lead their fans and friends to your site.
  3. Subscriptions and newsletters: It’s reasonably simple to get Direct Sites Online to integrate an e-newsletter into your site using free options such as mailchimp, which also manage the email lists in accordance with privacy legislation. You can even get a double bite of the cherry by duplicating the blog copy into a newsletter. Offer something unique to people who subscribe and when you send the newsletter, encourage them to forward it.
  4. Use paid options: There are millions of websites that offer either Pay Per Click or Pay Per Impression advertising. Not only Facebook and Stumble Upon, but also smaller niche websites, such as those specifically for parenting, or small business. So if you sell anything from cloth nappies to business marketing
    courses, there is a place for your ad. And they are very reasonably priced compared with traditional advertising options.
  5. Interact with others in your niche: This means posting comment on other blogs (and identifying yourself and your site, linking to relevant articles you find,
    using the “blog roll” widget to link to similar bloggers.
  6. Network, network, network: Submit your site to free online directories and get a Technorati account so you can list the blog section of your site there. And, while you’re at it, set up a Facebook page for your business, get some likers and make sure your landing page includes your website URL.

Engage with your audience: This means timely response to comments and questions, asking people what they want (and delivering), and basically just being the online version of sociable.

Not only will doing the above help drive more traffic to your site organically, it might also improve your Google ranking. After all, Google already likes WordPress sites and the more traffic you have, along with backlinks and mentions on other sites, the more Google recognises your site as relevant and important.

Contact Direct Sites Online today at info@directsiteonline.com if you want to increase the traffic to your WordPress website.