Monthly Archives: March 2012

Why you need a mobile friendly website

As more and more people use their smart phones to access the internet, more and more websites are going unseen as they are not mobile friendly.

In fact, forecasts predict that by next year there will be 1.7 billion mobile internet users worldwide. That’s a lot of potential customers.

But if your site either won’t – or is slow to – download on a mobile phone, or is hard to read on a small screen, you could potentially lose thousands of dollars in sales.

Firstly, you need to be aware that Flash or Javascript does not work on all mobiles, so if your main website is built using these codes, it’s a safe bet you are already missing out on potential customers.

What else can you do to make your site mobile friendly? Here’s five tips.

  1. Get your developer to install a plug-in which can transform your mobile-unfriendly site into a mobile-friendly site in minutes.
  2. Write clear content so that when a potential customer is reading your copy on a small device, the benefits and the call to action are immediate – they don’t have to scroll down reams of text.
  3. Practice good design by keeping things uncluttered and simple with good use of white space and easily scannable layout.
  4. Create user-friendly navigation so customers can find their way around even on the smallest of screens.
  5. Don’t use too may images that may take time to download.

Direct Sites Online has the expertise to create mobile-friendly websites – or turn an “unfriendly” site around. So if you can’t read your site on a smart phone, contact us at info@directsitesonline.com or call 02 9557 7623

 

Social media packages

Social media gives businesses like yours the ability to create a community around your brand, and connect directly with your customers and potential customers.

Whether this is by blogging to show off your expertise, or using Facebook or Twitter to speak to your target audience, business need to harness the power of social media.

Sure, unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you know all of the above. But finding the time, or having the expertise, to put it into practice is a whole other thing.

And it does take time and knowledge of the medium to set up your profiles, regularly update your posts and tweets, and ensure your brand reputation.

That’s why Direct Sites Online has jumped feet first into the platform and is thrilled to be able to offer social media packages for all existing and future customers.

Our affordable packages include Facebook page and Twitter Profile designs that reflect your brand; social media strategy; social media management; Facebook ads.

And if you’d rather manage social media in house, but don’t know where to start, we can even spend 30 mins chatting with you to clarify you social media marketing needs, challenges and opportunities and then draft a marketing plan for you to implement.

Our plans are typically 10-15 pages long and are full of information about website marketing including social media, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, posting ideas, a marketing calendar and more.

If you want to add some force to your marketing mix through social media, give Direct Sites Online a call today on 02 9557 7623 or email info@directsitesonline.com.

 

The pros and cons of custom versus template websites

So, we’ve convinced you that you need a website, and now you are wondering whether to invest in a custom built site or if a template will suffice.

Or maybe you do not even know the difference – so we’ll start there: As the name suggest, custom-built sites are uniquely developed for your business. There will be no other like it and they are a must for bigger companies who need to stand out from their competitors. Templates, on the other hand are good for small businesses, with a corresponding small marketing budget. While they cost less and are quicker to build, there is no guarantee that your competitors won’t be using the same template.

So what are the pros and cons of each? Let’s start with template websites.

There are literally thousands of templates out there, using a number of CMSs – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, osCommerce, Magenta and more.

Put simply, a template is a pre-packaged design that can only be slightly modified – if at all. It defines the overall look of your website including the background, main navigation links, and masthead area. It may have some colour choices and some flexibility with regards to column widths and number of menu tabs. But there will be limits.

The pros are that it is cheaper than a custom-built website (templates range from free to about $100, and Direct Sites Online can modify them for a fraction of a custom-built site) and it can go from nothing to a finished product more quickly. The cons are they are, well, a template, which means they have a somewhat generic look and there is no guarantee that another website won’t be using the same exact template as you.

On to custom designs, which are created by scratch based on your preferences, specifications and design brief. The pro – and it’s a big one – is that they give your website a unique look and feel that matches your brand, while the cons are that they are more expensive and take longer than templates to go “live”.

Direct Sites Online would be happy to talk to you about your web requirements and come up with a solution that suits your needs and your budget. Contact us at info@directsitesonline.com.au or phone 02 9557 7623.

 

Why you should use an e-newsletter service

If you have ever managed a database of customers or clients, you know it’s almost a full time job keeping it up-to-date. And if that database if so you can contact current and potential customers, mistakes can be costly.

It really does pay to use Direct Sites Online’s newsletter service – rather than set up your own Excel spreadsheet.

If you still need some convincing, check out these eight reasons why you should use an online newsletter service.

  • Price: We can do a regular online newsletter for a fraction of what it would cost in wages to keep your database up-to-date in house.
  • Design:  Our templates are attractive and very easy to customise with your brand.
  • Web integration: We can integrate your newsletter with the here most popular open-source CSM platforms – WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. So your visitors can subscribe straight from your page.
  • Social media: We even have a Facebook app that will allow your likers to sign up you’re your Facebook business page. And your readers can share your newsletter on Twitter with just one click – and if the content is good enough, it may even go viral.
  • Simple: Once we have set up your newsletter, it is easy for you to regularly update the content – you don’t need to know HTML. And if you don’t have time to write and send regular newsletters, Direct Sites Online can do this too.
  • Spam boxes: Using our newsletter service will help your important information stay out of people’s spam boxes. Did you know that if someone marks your email as spam it may automatically get spammed for other subscribers? We prevent this by noticing when someone has marked it as spam, and automatically unsubscribing them from your list.
  • Privacy concerns: Privacy laws in many countries mean it is unlawful to send someone an email unless they have expressly signed up for the service. And when they unsubscribe, they need to be immediately taken off. This is a huge burden for an admin officer with other work on their plate.
  • Feedback: Our online newsletter subscription allows you to see how many subscribers you have, how many emails are opened, what links where clicked and more. This is powerful market research that can shape future campaigns.

If you are unhappy with your email marketing – or you haven’t even started email marketing (and you should!) contact Direct Sites Online on info@directsitesonline, or call 02 9557 7623. We’d love to help.

 

Facebook Timeline for business

Last week, Facebook rolled out one of the biggest changes to its business pages since, well since Facebook Business pages began.

Some early adopters have already risen to the challenge of Facebook Timeline, but all business pages will be transitioned by the end of the month.

Depending on the way you look at it, it has either put a spanner in you social media marketing, or enhanced it. We prefer to think of it as the latter and here’s why:

  1. Larger picture to promote your brand: The main profile picture goes across the page, with a smaller picture as an insert on the bottom left. This gives those of you that sell a product a perfect place to show off. And if you provide a service, this is where you can boast about the benefits.
  2. Flexible tabs: When your business first moves to timeline, your tabs more with you. But then you have a chance to chance their names and their contents – as well as the photo they show on your main profile page. This is where you can put any calls to action: “sign up to the newsletter”; “Readers stories”; “Get a quote”.
  3. Messaging: Likers can now message business pages directly, rather than post on your wall for information. This will (hopefully) mean that if anyone has a complaint or problem with your product or service, they will message you, rather than post on your wall for all the world to see.
  4. Tell your brand’s story: Now is the time to choose what information from the past you would like to share with future likers. So it’s a great opportunity to purge some earlier status updates and so forth that, perhaps, don’t suit the current brand image.
  5. Fan interaction: Timeline means businesses will need to change the way they interact with their fans. Instead of posting superficial posts just to get “likes”, businesses will need to consider what they post and when so the brand’s “story” stays relevant. It will also force businesses to keep their brand front and centre at all times. This has got to be good for anyone whose newsfeed is full of “We love our likers” or “Have a great weekend” updates.
  6. Driving fans to websites: A lot of business that are active and successful on Facebook despair because no matter what they do to drive people to their website – discounts, free offers, newsletter signups – they still get more sales via Facebook. The tabs mentioned above will be a great place to put a call to action for website visits.

But, there are a couple of things to remember – Facebook will  not allow businesses to put any sort of contact information on their landing page – so the welcome pages with URLs and phone numbers listed are out. You will need to think more laterally about how customers find you. And, secondly, this shift is a timely reminder that Facebook can’t be your only online presence – it must be part of a wider mix. The content you post on Facebook, and the customer details belong to Facebook.

If you are struggling with Timeline for Business, contact Direct Sites Online now at info@directsiteonline.com.au. And if Facebook is your only web presence, and you realise you need a standalone website, we have very affordable packages for small business. Call us on 02 9557 7623.