7 Signs It’s Time to Redesign Your Website

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Ready to Blast Off?

Have the Perfect Website to Launch
your Digital Marketing Campaigns

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Similar to anything in life, there are cycles – doing your laundry, working out, and even stages in your life. It’s no different with digital marketing. We’ve talked about how to reach your customers online, but there’s more to it than that.

The fact of the matter is, what looked and functioned amazingly in 2012 isn’t going to hold up 5 years later. Design, just like your underwear, should always be changing. There’s new advancements in technology every day, people are interacting differently with their environment, and brands that influence design style are more prominent through social media.  But, having a good-looking website is only one piece of your game plan to blast off into 2017 into unknown territory.

We’ve compiled 7 mission-critical red flags to look for when deciding whether it’s time to upgrade/update your website.
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PERCENT
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of Mobile Search users have found a new company or product through use of their smartphone.
(Google, 2015)

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1. Your Website Doesn’t Look Good on Mobile

There are several website design approaches you can take to make sure your website’s functionality is working for your audience, but the best one is Responsive Website Design. Today, more users are using their phone to find information or shop. This means your website will potentially (if search engines are finding your information relevant for users) be in front of more eyes, more often and more frequently. Here are some things to consider:

  • Does your website layout fit to the screen without scrolling horizontally?
  • Is the text readable?
  • Is information easily found?
  • Are your call-to-actions loud and distinct?
  • Can people navigate from page to page?
  • Can a customer successfully check-out with minimal clicks?

If you answered “no” to one of these questions, chances are it’s time for you to look into getting a mobile responsive website. Just one of those questions can lead to a user leaving your website without the information or product they want and go to a competitor.
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2. You Can’t Update Your Site

At Maximize, we believe in empowering our clients. We don’t ask that you become expert designers, but do provide training that will have you feeling comfortable about changing a paragraph, uploading images, managing inventory — if you want that ability, you should have it. HTML websites require people who know developing language to build and edit your site. This, as you may know, is not functional for people on a budget.

Now, Content Management Systems (CMS) are on the rise for their easy-to-use interface. WordPress  is by far the most popular of the bunch. Building your website on an CMS platform allows you to manage your website with minimal coding knowledge. The only downside is setting up WordPress onto a domain will most likely require you to start fresh.

If you do not have the ability to edit your website, whether it is due to restrictions set by your website designer or because your site is designed through HTML, you may need to start thinking of empowering yourself as a business owner with a site you can manage.
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3. No Social Media Outbound Links

Your social media and website should work hand in hand. With the role that social media plays in our life now, it is crucial to have activity that is engaging and valuable to your potential customers.

By having social media links visibly on your website, you’re encouraging visitors to follow further for updates and special offers. Your website often offers static information (pricing, product information, history of your company), but social media is dynamic and ever-changing. Ideally, you should have both header and footer links promoting your social media pages.

If your website has no links to your Facebook, Twitter, etc… you’re missing out on providing a valuable connection to your customers that can increase your brand loyalty.
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4. Search Engines Can’t Find Your Website

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to making sure you’re found online. Ranking on page 1 on Google is a hard task, but sometimes… maybe your website isn’t ranking at all? Graphics and design refreshers are great, but ultimately you’ll need to understand that SEO is an ongoing process.

Website design with keyword infused into the elements help organically boost rankings. For example, if all of your images are saved as the filename from a digital camera (ex: IMG495883.PNG), that’s not offering anything relevant. You want to name images using keywords related to the image contents & your keyword strategy. SearchEngineWatch has a good guide on how to optimize images for web use.
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Is the text on the page written well? That’s a question people tend to have. By focusing on creating keyword relevant headlines and mentioning locations in your post, you’re able to boost into local searches for the keyword + location. Having a website that is not optimized for SEO can hinder you greatly and there are tools (on WordPress, especially) that allow easier management than hand-coding.

The most important thing to remember is SEO is an ongoing process. It can take 30 to 90 days to see a result. For further questions about SEO and getting to page one, please view our FREE guide on Thinking Like Your Customers.
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5. Your Site Looks Outdated

A good general rule of thumb is to have your website evolve every year or so. Whether that’s a full redesign or not is up to you, but elements should change to reflect your business’s growth. Unfortunately, you have around 5 seconds (if you’re lucky) to make a good first impression on your site visitor. Modernizing buttons, call-to-action areas, and streamlining content can make a big change in how your website is presented.

Right now, minimalist styles are huge! For example, if you’re a Pool Cleaning company, you don’t need to slap water images, dancing water drop .gifs or the sound of rushing water on your website. A simple white background instead of a rippling pool of water texture allows your audience to digest information clearer.

Drop the Comic Sans and leave the clip art alone — the early 2000s are long and gone. Your website is a reflection of you and thus, should look its best.
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6. Your Site IS Outdated

Okay, so we talked about graphics, but what about the content on your website? Google is definitely in favor of having fresh content written for users. By creating new valuable content on a semi-regular basis, you’re showing the search engines that you’re relevant.

A great strategy is keeping your “About” page up to date and adding new services to your website when they are available. We’ve seen websites with team members that have been gone for years! It is important to not only appease to the search engine gods, but to also keep important information visible.

Your website should also have the capabilities to have blog posts. Blog posts are crucial for giving important content to people browsing on certain topics. Is someone looking for a way to fix a leaky sink? If you’ve written a blog post about fixing a leaky sink with relevant advice, there are chances your blog post will appear and provide you a chance to make a great first impression, and perhaps gain that user’s business if they are within your service area.

Bottom line: if you can’t update the site (as we mentioned) or have out-of-date content… Houston, we may have a problem.
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Outside of Maximize Digital
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7. Phone’s aren’t ringing

Web traffic is what everyone wants. It’s casting a wide net, but if you don’t have the right strategy… there may not be any fish there. You can have an awesome website, but ultimately, is your phone ringing? Are you getting purchases? We highly suggest you have Google Analytics installed on your account so you can monitor web traffic at the source. You want to be able to find where visitors drop off in their visit to your website.

By understanding the conversion funnel, you’re able to speak with a designer to make stronger call-to-actions, bigger buttons, more compelling headlines, and genuinely how to improve problem areas on your website.

Ultimately, we want to ensure your site is nicely designed, but if it’s not functioning… it may be time to look at a strategy. Design and function go hand-in-hand: without function, there can be no good design. Smriti Chawla, marketing specialist, Visual Website Optimizer, which provides A/B and split testing tools says: “Once you know the problems, you can hypothesize design/content solutions to fix them and use A/B testing to validate your hypotheses.
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FREE eBOOK.

Get a FREE copy of our eBook on “Understanding & Defining Your Business’s Digital Foundation”.

Responsive Website Design eBook preview cover

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Schedule a FREE consultation with us to discuss how your business can get started!

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How to Promote Your Event Beyond Your Friends

Reaching Beyond your Friends – Getting Results for Online Event Promotions

Facebook is a versatile tool for building relationships and raising awareness of your business or non-profit organization’s events. Getting the word out about your upcoming fundraiser is crucial for your event’s success, so it’s important to remember that your personal network might not be enough to get you the results you seek!

One of the most common ways to Facebook for business promotions and events is through your personal networks. This is a great way to start, and hopefully you already use this strategy regularly!

If you are trying to sell tickets to an event, gain sponsorships or silent auction items, you will need more than just your network to get the word out! Sharing with your friends is great, but chances are, your friends are friends with your friends, so your circle might not be big enough to get the word out effectively.

Here are some tips to help you take your event promotion beyond your network and in front of people you don’t know, but who might want to attend if they know about the event in advance and can make plans to attend.

Start early.

As soon as you have the date for your event confirmed, get the details online somewhere. (Preferably your website!) You’ll want to sell tickets, sponsorships and organize your silent auction items and donations online as much as possible. Today’s busy world requires that there is a way for people to take action online, as opposed to going to a specific store or physical location to purchase tickets. If you are not able to use the Internet for these functions of your event, you will likely miss a lot of people who would otherwise buy tickets. We recommend developing a strategy about 150 in advance of the event date.

Advertise Differently

Today, advertising is more than a PSA on the radio, an ad in the newspaper and some posters at the local chamber of commerce. If you want people to attend your event, it’s imperative that you shift your advertising strategy to coincide with the way people consume ads today. Facebook, Display ads, digital ads on highly trafficked websites and cross promotion with other organizations are going to yield greater results than some of the traditional advertising methods – and they are not nearly as costly. A strategic Facebook ad campaign, 120 days before the event can capture a great amount of data that can be used when the event date draws nearer!

The Easier the Better

People want fast and easy. The more complex the purchasing process is, the more difficult it will be to convert social media “likes” to sales! Using tools like EventBrite and Sign-up Genius can help organize the people on your planning committee, but make sure these tools make it easier for the people buying tickets. We recommend an event website whenever possible, especially for annual/recurring events!

Create a Website

There are so many online options for events. Some of them are FREE. If you are creating a signature event that you will continue to use year after year, you will want to consider investing in a professionally designed and developed website. The reasons you should have your own website are plenty. And will be covered extensively in a future blog post.

Set Specific Goals

Trust me, we know how crazy it can be planning your event. Things never go exactly the way you plan them. In the beginning stages of your event planning, set specific goals, based on your data from previous years. If you have no data from other events, or if this is your first event, think about the information you will want to have next year that will make the planning easier.

Some Goals To Consider

A List is Gold.

You can build an email list automatically. If your attendees have a blast at your event, it’s likely they will want to attend again next year. Getting their email address when they purchase tickets, or enter a contest to win a prize is the best way to ensure they don’t miss the event next year! You’ll need an account with an email provider (we love MailChimp) and a way to collect email addresses – preferably online – think about automating the process, to save time.

Increase Engagement with Event Sponsors/Donors

Are you currently using online tools to recruit sponsors? What about those silent auction items? Remember, people want fast and easy. If you aren’t currently making your sponsors and donors lives easier with a simple link to sign up and pledge their commitment to your event, you are likely missing out on some great opportunities. Some of those unanswered emails from extremely busy people might not be rejections. It might mean they simply don’t have time to open the .pdf you sent them, or time to return your call. But if the information is available on your website, and they can commit online, you’ve just made life easier for everyone!

Track Visitors to Your Website

Data is a powerful thing. If you have a website and you are selling tickets on that site, you will learn so much more than if you were sending traffic to a link on a 3rd party’s site. You can learn about the behavior of your website visitor and learn so much about your marketing efforts. Things like where are you getting the most traffic (email, Facebook, online advertisements, Google)? These days, most 3rd party event/ticket sales options include the ability to embed your ticket sales on your site, so you are able to gather meaningful data about your marketing.

Event Promotion – We would love to help you plan a winning marketing strategy for your next event. Please give us a call or send us an email so we can learn more about your organization and how we can help!

Invest in Your Content Strategy

Content Strategy

“Smart people invest in digital real estate, and the only way to establish it is with a content strategy.”

Content is everywhere. It’s ads and blogs, images, videos and more. But what’s the point of it all? This all depends on your content strategy. A good content strategy plans for valuable, findable and meaningful content for your customers online.

Your digital content must be unique and valuable to your target audience. Before writing a single word on a page, outline your brand’s message and your organization’s goals. Your ultimate goal is to have valuable, flexible content on your website that appears to the right people, in the right places, at the right time.

What makes for a good content strategy?

It’s all business-driven and user-focused that meets a specific goal. Content is built from a number of things. Today, content strategy is the process that ensures your content is published, edited, republished, repurposed and archived. This also means planning ahead for content that needs to appear in other places, sometimes at specific times, so that information can be personalized, such as a holiday campaign for Christmas.

Content strategy should identify content issues, recommendations, priorities and a future timeline to update the content’s structure and substance to improve the user’s experience. You want to make something your audience wants to see and will want more of.

Focus on your message!

Focus on creating a message or evoking a specific feeling in conjunction with your brand. We’ve discussed how bringing emotion can ensure brand integrity and transparency,  but dive a bit deeper. A good brand has meaning, yet is simple enough to stick in people’s minds. Brands are visual, shown in logos and color palettes and verbal, coming across in language and style of speech; furthermore, all of your content should tie-in or identify your brand to remind customers of who you are.

The key to good content is forming a clear call-to-action. Calls-to-action encourage customers to act on something right away. This is the best use for content as it draws audiences in and interests them in your business’s and website. Posting meaningless information will not benefit you or your audience. By creating strong and useful content, you will build a better audience who identifies your website as a valuable resource.

By investing in your content and focusing your marketing around it, you’re telling your story and standing out from competitors.

Think of content specifically for your channel.

One of the main components of getting your content strategy in order is to develop around the needs of the social media channels you have. Content great for Facebook might preform poorly on Instagram. Think about what these social media channels are designed for.

I want to share with you a GREAT example. For food services, putting your content on Pinterest is a great strategy. There’s so much readily available to re-pin and package into albums and stories that fit with your brand. See what Panera Bread has done on Pinterest, curating both their own content (like this Break Bread album with several links to their blog) and content from outside sources (like this album with tips to take better care of yourself). Panera thinks past the scope of promoting their products and reinforces content that reflects onto their brand. It all fits in with Panera Bread’s cozy, familiar, healthy (but not at the expense of comfort) image

Don’t worry about making a huge strategy for your digital media. Do a little at a time to build up what you have, but with an end goal in mind. It’s okay to repurpose content you already have online for social media or later use. Content is key for gaining traffic to your website, so get writing!

Basic Tenets of Color Psychology. How Are People Perceiving Your Company?

In almost ever scenario we make decisions based on our perception. Studies have been conducted that show people will gravitate towards things that they perceive to be attractive.

Whether your suiting up for a potential date or ordering something from a drive through menu, let’s face it – you often choose to go with something that looks “good” to you.

Well, your potential prospects, customers and clients are reacting the same way. Through their visual instincts.

People tend to go with what their gut or emotions are telling them.

This varies based on the situation, goals or desired outcome an individual wants to achieve. Let’s take two contrasting examples to showcase a point:

First we’ll take an obvious choice, McDonalds. Can you picture McDonald’s logo, its colors, the pictures the brand uses, how it displays its products? Of course you can.

Now view those same images in your mind again. How do they make you feel? Are they warm, inviting, nostalgic, exciting? I would put my money on the fact that these are the exact feelings you are having (or at least what a vast majority of people feel), even if you don’t eat there!

Ok, wipe those images out of your head for a moment. We’ll come back to them here shortly.

Have you got everything cleared yet?

Now for our second example picture the jewlery company, Tiffany’s.

Surprised? Well what are the first few images that come to your mind? Can you picture its logo? Maybe…maybe not, but can you picture the little boxes its jewelry comes in? What color is it? If you’re ever been into a Tiffany’s store can you think of the other colors, images, layout, and the fonts they choose to use?

Now take a moment and look deeper inside yourself. What feelings and thoughts are you starting to have? Are they more calming, more trusting, more sophisticated. Do you feel a sense of elegance?

Are you starting to see where I’m going with this? Compare the feelings and thoughts you had with both companies.

You may say to yourself, “Well these are two completely different industries. You’re comparing apples and oranges.” And you would be right to an extent.

But think of other similar companies such as Starbucks, Long John Silvers, or Zales, and Kay Jewelers. Each of these companies – within the same industry – provoke different feelings. Your perception of each company is different.

If you consider the basic tenets of color psychology, you’ll quickly realize your company’s branding is already conveying a message. The fact is color psychology IS sending a message (positive or negative), which encourages people to take a desired action, increase sales or compel them to feel a certain way about your company.

Whether or not you decide to review your company’s branding (logo, website design, font selection, imagery and product packaging), people WILL make decisions based on their perceptions. As an artist/designer, I believe how a company is represented in every visual design is a crucial consideration for all businesses.

What I am trying to get your brain on to in this post is the importance of thinking about how people are going to instinctively view and treat your company based on what they see, and how they feel about what they see. Your company colors, the fonts you choose, down to the imagery you use all play a role in the decisions your audience makes on a subconscious, instinctive level.

The final question I have for you:

Have you given any thought to how people (your prospects and customers) perceive your company?

Remember, EVERY visual component – your logo, your website, and all your marketing channels – are communicating an emotional message. I urge you to take serious thought into what message you want to communicate.

2015 Small Business Design Checklist

Often overlooked in the creation of their marketing plan, design is an important aspect of any small business. Investing time and money to nail down your brand from the start saves headaches, heartbreaks, and empty wallets when your business is fully established. It is also a great way to give your brand a refreshing facelift if you’re feeling a few wrinkles – don’t worry, we didn’t notice.

Good design and a consistent brand increases visibility, brand loyalty, and a sense of professionalism.

Continue reading 2015 Small Business Design Checklist