Mar

28

2014

How To Get Customers To Your Website?

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Wondering how to get customers to your website? SEO

Having a website is a vital business asset in today’s tech-savvy marketplace. SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is an ESSENTIAL part of any website and ensures that it is seen by prospective clients. Unfortunately, SEO is one of the most often overlooked aspects of website development. Your website can be one of the most valuable tools you have for attracting new business, so making sure your website is seen in search results is extremely important.

How does SEO help draw in customers?

For the uninitiated, SEO deals with making websites most visible when people search for things online using search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. Every time you search for something using these sites, they use complex algorithms to quickly scan the entirety of the Internet to try to find websites that best fit what you’re looking for. These search engines can only scan the content (or copy) within your website to quickly surmise if your website is a good match for that person’s search. Optimizing a website mainly deals with making sure the content is rich with the terms people are searching for. The copy on your homepage and internal pages, title tags for those pages, and even the URL’s for your internal pages can all be optimized to help you rank higher in search results. And the higher you are on the list, the more likely people are to visit your site.

Why SEO is important for your website

Your website should look great and function efficiently, but none of that matters if no one sees it. That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in. Optimizing your site correctly is a very cost effective way to get the jump on your competition and generate online leads. To put it in simpler terms, having a great website and not optimizing it is like buying the prettiest dress for the prom and covering it up with a burlap sack. Google is the most viewed website in the world and 85% of web traffic comes from search engines. All of these people using search engines have to be treated like potential leads for business. To that end, businesses should be doing everything in their power to rank high in search results to get that potential business.

Two ways SEO can drive customers to your site

There are two different ways to set up Search Engine Optimization: manual or organic SEO and Pay-Per-Click advertising. Lots of companies forgo organic SEO in favor of Pay-Per-Click online advertising campaigns, because it seems easier to do and they think they’ll get better results. Have you ever Googled something and had listings for websites appear above and to the right of the search results? That’s Pay-Per-Click advertising. While Pay-Per-Click works (kinda) there are some MAJOR cons to only using that method to market your website online. Firstly, many users have what we call “banner blindness”. With the staggering amount of shady websites with malicious content, users have conditioned themselves to completely ignore the results in these locations because they know it’s been paid for and choose to trust the websites that have “earned” their ranking. 86% of users say that they feel websites that come up in organic search results are more trustworthy than paid results. The second problem with pay-per-click is right in the name. You pay for every time someone clicks through to your website. The more successful a pay-per-click campaign is, the more money you’ll have to shell out. That might be a good value proposition if every single person that visits your website turns into a sales lead, but as we all know, that’s not necessarily the case. Depending on what your business is, Pay-per-click may not give you the best return on investment.

Pay-per-click can be a risky investment, which is why we at A.J. Ross highly recommend organic SEO and always recommend to our clients that organic SEO is the way to go. Having an expert optimize your website to come up in organic searches is usually a one-time flat fee, making it a cost effective way to market your business and, in most instances, the better option. Working with a professional advertising agency that knows the top search terms for your profession will help you earn a high ranking in search results and ensure that your visitors feel confident and secure in visiting your website.

Mar

17

2014

Promoting A Business On Facebook

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The Whys And Hows To Promoting A Business On Facebook

Website Terminology - AJ Ross Creative Media

It will come as no surprise that as of 2013, Facebook has acquired over a billion users across the globe. This social media giant has given a whole new meaning to the phrase “everyone and their mother is there.” Because now, more than ever, parents are actually joining their kids online.

What do these Facebook stats have to do with your business?

Now that the average age of Facebook users in the U.S. is about 40 (Chron.com), this means that you have a direct link to more of your target audience than ever before. Your coworkers, business affiliates, and potential clients are engaging with your online persona, and your business must meet their social needs in more than just one location.

You’re probably saying to yourself “I already have a beautiful, informative website. Why spend time on social media?” But what if you could take all that valuable information from your website and transform it into a medium that molds to what over a billion people already love: Facebook?

Using Facebook as a second business website

Using Facebook as a “second website” can not only allow you to interact with an age group more willing to be a part of your business’ clientele list, but the site now has tools that let you actively pursue that professional outreach. Imagine the new range of communication if you use Facebook as an industry tool and an extension of your existing website. You’ll be able to connect with more people and connect with them on a more personal level.

A more advanced function Facebook offers, is the ability to transform the tabs under your cover photo into additional pages, just like on an classic website. By working with a creative media agency they can create and program tabs that can host a number of ways to appeal to your target audience. This is exactly what we provide for our clients here at AJRoss. We let you choose from a wide range of options; everything from general ads, to forms, video and audio, or even downloadable brochures. If you know what your customers are looking for, we can help you can give them exactly what they want! The content potential for these pages is worth the effort! Just like a business’ website, these pages will allow you to brag about your business. Whether you want to highlight a service, promote a sale, or tell a great story about how you got started, people will have the ability to learn more about the most valuable aspects of your business.

Facebook Ads

So now that you’ve set up an official business page, what’s next? Well Facebook has provided a set of tools that let you post more than just a picture of your morning status meeting. Facebook’s Ad Manager helps you create ads for your business based on predetermined goals you set yourself. First choose an “advertising objective” (such as getting more page likes), then fill in an explanation of your promotion or advertisement, pair it with a photo and you’re all set! Facebook can also help you tap into specific demographics your ad needs to reach. It places your ad on users pages who meet the criteria you request, using categories such as age, gender, and location. You can customize an ad to reach a specified goal and engage with certain people, plus Facebook lets you upload a contact list in which you can easily and safely appeal to clients that have already shown an interest. So not only will you be reaching an already expanded number of people, you’ll still have control over who you want to engage.

Using Facebook’s analytics to boost business

A small, yet valuable feature that people underestimate on Facebook, is the Analytics Page. This data is the key to your business’ long-term social success. By analyzing the data on this page, you can track and make improvements to when, what, and how you post online. You get the full breakdown and timeline of all your own activity, but more importantly, you get an incredibly valuable insight into how the public is engaging your page and it’s material. You’ll see who is responding, when they’re viewing your page, what posts are getting the most likes, what pictures are being shared, and so forth. With this knowledge you can further customize how your page is run. For example if you see most of your followers view your page at lunchtime, you can be sure to post in the late morning to attract the most attention. You get the idea. Successfully marketing your business on Facebook is all about social strategy.

Using Facebook as a second website gives you the opportunity to create a social footprint by engaging your target audience, and opening the door for them to interact with your business in a way that speaks to them. By no means can Facebook replace the traditional, high-quality, established website, but every business seeks to have that “personal touch” in which they can build a lasting connection and investment with their clients. And for right now at least, that relationship is partly being initiated through social media.

So don’t be afraid for your business to jump on the bandwagon, utilize Facebook’s newest promotional advantages, and benefit from all the resources social media has to offer!

Mar

10

2014

Is Your Website Ready For a Mobile Takeover?

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learn the best way to create a mobile website

Website Terminology - AJ Ross Creative Media

Learn the Best Way To Create A Mobile Website

Mobile devices have made our busy lives easier with instant web access on the go. Having the world at our fingertips has greatly reduced the number of bulky desktop computers being used. In fact, over 25% of all website traffic is now coming through a mobile device. But what does all of this mean for your website? Why is mobile access a cause for concern? Unfortunately, many websites are not designed in a format that allows them to look as appealing on a mobile device as they do on a traditional desktop.

Here are a few tips to help you make sure your site is not one that fails the mobile compatibility challenge:

Avoid Flash At All Costs

Flash was a programming technique developed in the 1990s by Adobe, which would allow websites to run various animations on the page. This made websites more visually appealing than they had been before. However, in the last five to ten years, web standards have greatly changed. Many mobile devices, such as the iPhone, have not been designed to read Flash programs. What this means is, if there is a Flash element on a web page, it will not load, but rather will show a small error icon, making the page appear to be missing elements. So what can you do to replace Flash? Using a combination of newer programming languages, such as HTML5, CSS, and Javascript, programmers are able to replicate the same animations and even create much better ones that will in fact be compatible for mobile devices.

Design to the Device

One of the hottest web trends right now is what is called Responsive Design. At the root, what this means is the overall layout of the items on your website changes to accommodate different screen sizes. This is very important now more than ever because so many users are accessing websites from mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phones. Using varying programming techniques, you can design an entirely different look and feel for users that view your site on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. This allows you to present the most critical information in the best manner possible for the user’s device.

With A Mobile Website Less Is More

There is nothing more frustrating than opening a link on a smart phone and being taken to a website that is overcrowded with unnecessary items and confusing navigation. Keep it simple. If you’re employing a different design for mobile devices, trim the fat. Make sure that the user can quickly and easily find the important information on your site that will give them what they need. Eliminate bulky headers and footers with unnecessary links and excessive photos. Simplify your navigation by combining all items into one dropdown menu, rather than overcrowding the screen with dozens of page links. Just always remember that if you reduce your content for mobile devices, include a link on the page in case users would like to view the full site version of the web page.

Make the site visually appealing

One of the biggest mistakes that people make with their websites is not making the best use of the space they have on the screen. When working with a smaller screen, a designer needs to be mindful of the user interaction with the site. Make sure that images are properly resized for a smaller screen so that content is not pushed far down the page. Be sure to use large enough text so that the user does not have to constantly zoom in and out of the page to read everything. Keeping the pages clear and concise will make viewing much easier for the user and discourage them from leaving your website unhappy.

Change With The Times

The most important thing to always remember about websites is that techniques are constantly changing. It is not enough to simply create a nice website, but you need to ensure that it is updated regularly and utilizes cutting-edge techniques in order to stay fresh with the times.

If you keep these tips in mind when designing a mobile website, you’ll be certain to make sure that your online presence goes much further than the desktop and you reach the maximum number of customers.

Mar

03

2014

Website Terminology Definitions That Will Have You Talking Like A Pro

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Website Terminology Definitions

Website Terminology - AJ Ross Creative Media

Hello, everyone, Nick Nappo here. March is Website Month here in the office, and I thought I’d use this time to talk about website basics. So there’s a lot of terminology surrounding websites that may confuse some of you, like URLs, hosting, domain names, SEO, etc., so hopefully in the next few minutes I’ll clear up some confusion for you.

Website Name Terminology

Let’s begin with a URL. You probably know by now, a URL is the link to a website. Think of it as a phone number. A phone number connects to only one location, and in that way, a URL connects to only one website. Now, a website would be located, or hosted, on something called a server, which contains all of the files for a website. More on that later. Another name for a URL that you’re probably familiar with is a domain name. They’re pretty much interchangeable. So to sum it all up, the URL (or domain name) is the phone number, a domain is the address, and the server is the physical house.

Now, each domain name has an extension. And you’re probably familiar with most of them – .com, .org, .net, .gov, .us, etc. But what do they all mean?

  • .com – commercial. The industry standard.
  • .net – started in the mid-80’s by internet service providers, but it never really took off. That’s why it’s second to .com. If you’re a small business that’s looking to grow, stay away from this extension because .net is difficult to pick up in web rankings.
  • .org – organization. Usually reserved for non-profit organizations, charities, etc.
  • .info – informational domain.
  • .us – for websites that offer products and services specific and exclusive to the United States.
  • .gov – governmental entities
  • .edu – educational entities, colleges and the like.

 

Website Hosting Definitions

So that’s the structure of the website, now let’s talk about where the websites ultimately live. Before, I mentioned the server, which is essentially a system that responds to your request sent over a computer’s data network. When you click on a URL, what happens is you’re connected to the server, which is signified by a domain name with an extension, and then you get to your website. To get a domain name, you can register a domain on a bunch of different sites, including GoDaddy (that’s the most popular), but then there’s Namecheap, 1&1, Name.com, and the list goes on.

There’s also web hosting companies, which provide website maintenance services to other companies and make sure their websites are running smoothly on the server. Some web hosting sites you may be familiar with are wix.com, webs.com, biz.ly, and AwardsSpace.net.

What’s a CMS?

I also want to mention the CMS. That stands for content management system, and it refers to any setup that allows users to publish, modify, and manage content. Basically, blogs, news sites, even going back to chat rooms in the 90’s. In terms of sites, nowadays you’ve got WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Typo3, amongst others, so it’s easy to find a content management system that best suits your business’ needs.

What is SEO?

Finally, one particular trend that’s been on the minds of businesses in recent years is search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO affects the visibility of the website in a search engine based on several factors. Your SEO suitability would be improved by your website containing words and phrases that are not only relevant to the topic or offering of the site, but are commonly sought by people who use the search engines. If you use the words and phrases that are on the minds of your target audience, you just might find some new customers.

And that’s my spiel for the week. I hope these website terminology definitions helped you navigate the waters a bit, and I hope you’ll listen in next time!

 

Dec

10

2013

Is Traditional Advertising Dead?

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Is traditional advertising dead? By AJ Ross
Traditional advertising involves advertising in newspapers, billboards, direct mail, magazines telephone books and radio and TV.

Traditional advertising involves advertising in newspapers, billboards, direct mail, magazines telephone books and radio and TV. 
Media buying is the art of placing your advertising at the right size, time and frequency to hit your target audience as effectively as your budget allows for. To place these media buys, there always will be a placement fee depending on the size of the ad or length of the spots and where they are running locally, regionally or nationally.

The right agency develops relationships with various media publications, and through years of doing business together, can offer you advantages/protection in media bought you can’t get yourself and in the long run, save money. 
 
An agency can guide you in targeting your market both by demographic and behavior. When creating your print, TV or Radio message, make sure you offer a selling proposition that speaks to your audiences known and sometimes unknown needs. Make sure your advertisements stand out amongst your competitors and are unique to your brand. Traditional advertising has always laid the groundwork for your businesses marketing and is a reliable way to keep your company in the public eye.

Traditional is NOT dead

Traditional doesn’t just apply to your marketing; it also applies to how you engage your audience. You must remember that once you have made the sale, your relationship with your customer is just beginning. Advertising in a newspaper, sending direct mail, attending networking events, and most importantly picking up the phone and talking are still essential.

For more information on how traditional advertising can help your business call AJ Ross at 845-783-5770.

Jan

31

2012

How to Use Facebook to Grow Your Business

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All of the links in this webinar can be found here.

Dec

12

2011

Why Use Web Standards?

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by Bill Schmidt, Web Development

Why Use Web Standards? - AJ Ross Creative Media

The Web Development community often stresses the importance of following the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) code standards for creating web sites. While being completely error free is sometimes unobtainable (because of browser differences), the current wisdom is to future-proof web sites by complying with standards.

If you have errors, you may think, “but my site looks fine! Why should I worry about validation?”

Here’s why you should use web standards:

Web standards reflect quality. If your site fails to load, doesn’t work properly, or doesn’t look like it’s “supposed” to look, visitors will simply move on. Your competitors are just a click away.

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use Web crawlers or “spiders” to traverse the Internet and index web pages. It’s important to be in this index so that people can find your site when they type in keywords. When a search engine doesn’t see your fantastic content because of an error, your potential customers may never see it either.

Having a validated website ensures consistency between web browsers. When your website is on the Internet, there is no way to control what visitors are using to view your page. They could be on a PC, a Mac, a laptop or mobile device—each with its own web browser. Using web standards is one of the best ways to build a site that will look consistent between platforms.
Pages that validate will also load faster. Dial-up connections and wireless handheld devices (smart phones, iPads, etc.) are limited in speed and it is important to have a fast loading page. The web is all about instant gratification; users will leave your page if it’s slow.
Web sites that conform to web standards are easier to maintain. If any changes need to be made (and count on it, they will), web sites with clean code will be less costly.

Standard compliant web sites are future proof.  By adhering to standards, you will save time and money when you need to troubleshoot, debug, or modify your website. The current recommendation has been the same since 2001. Work is being done on a new standard, and is expected to become the recommendation in 2012. If the new recommendation remains in place just as long, will your website last through the next decade?

Your website is a crucial part of your brand and an important marketing tool. Make sure it’s working at its maximum potential. Whether you’re just joining the online world or you’re updating your old site, using W3C recommendations is an important technical consideration you should discuss with your web design professional.

Nov

14

2011

The 7 Deadly Sins of Advertising & Marketing (Part 2)

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Advertising & Marketing (Part 2)

Sin #5
Expecting more than what you’re willing to pay for
We’ve all heard the saying “You have to spend money to make money” and unfortunately it’s very true. Your advertising and marketing strategy forms your brand’s reputation, and just like people, it is important to not only have a good reputation, but also maintain it. Skimping on a proper agency and strategy such as a mediocre ad and poor placement will end up being a waste of your money, and won’t give your company the respect it deserves. A new business should be willing to spend more up front to push the brand and be more ‘in your face’ to compete with established competition, gradually cutting back as they become more well known. An existing business should focus on keeping the brand’s name out consistently, and spend their budget on seasonal advertising and marketing pushes that make sense for their business. Making a realistic budget for your company along with realistic goals will allow you efforts to become positive investment for your business.

Sin #6
Giving up too soon
Being consistent is very important in the advertising and marketing world and although that mostly applies to branding, it also applies to your marketing efforts. A big mistake that can be made is pulling the plug on your strategy too soon. It is important not to stop running an ad after one shot just because your business didn’t double with in a week. Seeing the same brand consistently builds trust in consumers, so even though they may have passed over it the first time, after a while they start to look at your brand as an established company and are more likely to give it a chance. The take away is to give the advertising time to work and if you’ve given it ample time and your still not happy with the results, then it might be time to let your agency guide you and change directions.

Sin #7
DIY or Nothing at all
Most people have seen home improvement TV shows of ‘Do it yourself’ horror stories. The same idea applies to DIY advertising and marketing. Not putting your brand’s reputation in professional’s hands is a huge risk and it is important to remember that even though you may have a talented staff, if they are not experienced, the efforts could end up harming you. Some start with an agency, and then try and take over, ignoring the “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” saying, while some just think they can don’t need the help of a professional at all. Unfortunately in both cases, this does not result in savings, because not only do printing and ad space costs not change because you did the ad yourself, but the amount that you think you are saving by eliminating the agency will not match the amount of return on investment from a properly done and placed ad. On top of that, most ‘do-it-yourselfer’s’ end up giving up and then end up either calling in professionals anyway, or worse, giving up their efforts all together. Doing absolutely no advertising and marketing at all is the fastest way to let your competitors pass you by. By opting out of this important part of business you are hindering it’s potential and inevitably giving up future profits and growth.

Avoiding these 7 common mistakes is a great way to keep your business on the track that you want. Even if you’ve committed one or more of the marketing and advertising ‘sins’, the right agency can get you back on that track. No matter how large or small the business, a good agency can work with your individual needs to make sure that your company’s goals are reached to the fullest.

Oct

27

2011

The 7 Deadly Sins of Advertising & Marketing (Part 1)

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Advertising and Marketing (Part 1)

Making the decision to better your company through Advertising and Marketing is a smart step in growing your business, however it is important to do it the proper way. There are many pitfalls and myths that can hinder your efforts and potentially harm your business. Recognizing these common mistakes or “deadly sins” in Advertising and Marketing before you commit them will make all the difference between a failed and a successful business.

Sin #1
Marketing & Advertising: the Same Thing?
NO. Marketing and Advertising are two separate strategies that work best when in conjunction with each other. Marketing encompasses the complete conceptualization of a brand, research, public relations, sales strategy and more. Advertising is a way to get your company, product, or services out to the public through various types of media like television, billboards, newspapers, flyers, etc. Each strategy should work well separately, however the real strength is when the right Agency uses them together to achieve a bigger goal for your business. An agency that can do both Marketing and Advertising will not only save you money, but will ensure brand consistency and more return on investment. Choosing an agency that is accessible, experienced and that you feel comfortable with will be the foundation for a good working relationship and will promote better business for all involved.

Sin #2
The Shot Gun Method
When you decide to use Marketing and Advertising for your business, not knowing where to begin is a common feeling. The wrong thing to do is use a ‘shot gun’ strategy, meaning having no clear plan and scattering ideas all over the place to see if anything ‘hits’. The right idea is to have an agency that understands what and where the best efforts are for your individual business and goals. Anyone can put ads everywhere, but there is no strategy involved in that, and that is how you can potentially waste budget money. Having your Agency implement a smart and strategic plan to target the right audience for your company will beat out the shot gun method every time.

Sin #3
Overload of information in a small space
When you are spending money on a newspaper ad for example, your first instincts will be to get all of the great information about your company, practice or product into the ad. However it is important to keep in mind that size matters. If you can only afford to spend the money on a business card sized ad, then you have to make sure not to overwhelm the ad so that it is passed over by the reader. A good Agency can produce a successful small ad, as long as you are willing to understand that less is more. Keep in mind that if you have a smart campaign plan, this will be the first of many ads, and you can get the information out in small doses, hitting a different point and attracting a different audience each time.

Sin #4
Allowing To Many Cooks in the Kitchen
The bigger the business, the more opinions there will be when it comes to how the company should execute their Advertising and Marketing plan. While they are probably all valid ideas, keep in mind that the most important thing is what is best for the company. Group brainstorms and multiple ideas can be an asset as long as egos are pushed aside and everyone is working towards a successful ad or marketing push. An idea may come up that may not work for the current project, but could be perfect for a future one. Remember, the Agency is being hired because they understand how to portray the company’s message to your key demographic. Having one or two main contacts for the agency will help to eliminate mixed messages, so that way less will be lost in translation, and more accomplished for your business.

Next time, Sins five through seven.

Oct

19

2011

Competitive Marketing

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Allan Ross - Competitive Marketing

Hi this is Allan Ross on how to Market Your Business

Today I would like to talk about Competitive Marketing

Something crucial to remember when creating a marketing plan is anticipating your competitor’s strategy. You could be doing everything right: providing the best goods with the best services and prices, and yet your competitor could be outshining your business. It’s because they are doing one other major thing right, which is properly advertising.

Being the best at what you do is key in gaining and maintaining a reliable reputation, but it means nothing if no one knows about it. You may be thinking, “but I do advertise,” and yet it is important to realize that getting results requires much more than putting any ad in the paper. Having knowledge of what advertising techniques similar businesses are using will help you be a step ahead of them, and possibly allow you to use their marketing to benefit your own.
The first step to take would be objectively analyzing your own business and all it entails: the goods, service, prices and whatever else you are offering to consumers, and compare yourself to the competitors. Before you start advertising ‘the best’ of something, make sure you can back it up, and be prepared to explain why what you’re offering is the better choice.

Next, understand who your target audience is, and make sure you are gearing your advertising towards how consumers can benefit. Assume your customer is thinking, “what’s in it for me?”, and use that mentality to your advantage. Different cultures, genders and ages all respond to things in different ways, so it is also important to speak to your key demographics. You should also be noting what your competitors did during peak and low sale periods, and then use their triumphs and failures as guides. Another extremely important tactic is staying afloat during hard economic times. It not only gives you credibility, but also builds brand assurance, and you’ll gain more exposure while your competitors sink.

In addition, taking advantage of new and changing advertising methods will benefit your business. You don’t have to fear social media, applications, and owning an up to date website, because they are extremely useful marketing tools. They not only expose your business, but also allow you to gain trust with consumers regardless of the product, service, or generation. If your product is a cutting edge gadget, then an advanced Facebook page will speak to your technology savvy customer. If you are an established company with more of a traditional product or service, then a user friendly website can be creatively designed to help portray your business as distinguished while maintaining its values.

Every business will have a competitor at some point. Whether you are the number 1 in your field and you are looking to maintain your current status, or you are lost in the mix and want recognition in the industry, competitive marketing and advertising can make all the difference between just owning a business, and doing steady business.

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