Are You Asking For Online Reviews?

Picture 5We recently received a hand delivered plate of homemade cookies from a happy customer. He said he loved our work but was even more impressed with the support he was given throughout the process.  It was a thoughtful and may I add, delicious gesture. After I thanked him, we chatted for a bit and I was sure to tell him that even though the initial project was over, we would be there for any of his needs in the future. As he drove away, I had to kick myself for missing a perfect opportunity. Why didn’t I ask him for an online review?

Apparently, my brain (temporarily swollen from all of the compliments) stopped working for a few minutes. This man would have happily agreed to write a review and let others know how he felt about our business. He was looking for a way to say thank you, hence the cookies. As yummy as the cookies were, a good online review tastes sweeter and last longer. Happy customers are an important part of our sales force and have brought us a lot of business.

Is all lost? I should hope not. He is still a satisfied customer and we will speak again but will it have the same momentum? He was ready, willing and able and standing directly in front of me. My computer was handy and I could have walked him through the process.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity. If you’ve delivered the goods, you have the right to ask for the review.

What the Hack?

Your website has been hacked and you don’t have e-commerce. What could possibly be the reason? The answer could be as simple as hackers have attacked your site because they can. Young hackers have to begin somewhere and if you have weak coding or are running vulnerable software, you’re website is a great place to start. Another possible reason hackers attacked your site is to create botnets (a group of compromised computers used to attack other sites) or to download malware (malicious programs used to attack websites). Hackers rely on anonymity and both of these techniques provide a smokescreen so their illegal actions cannot be easily traced back to them.

If a customer’s computer is infected with a virus after visiting your site, or they are receiving spam and phishing emails, odds are they won’t be back. If you have nothing in place to monitor your website for attacks, this could be happening for quite some time without your knowledge and can be devastating to your business.

So if it has already happened, what can you do to protect your site from future attacks? It’s time to “harden” your website.

  •  Use strong passwords and change them often.  Stay away from “obvious” or default passwords.
  • Update your software and use security patches.
  • Turn off components in your operating system you do not need. They provide back door access.
  • Secure your coding.
  • Install a firewall.
  • Monitor your site. Don’t find out your site has been hacked from your customers.
  • Routinely back-up your site and database.

Hardening your site is not an impossible task. There are  plenty of tools as well as how-to information  online to assist you, but it will require your time and energy.  Business owners, especially small business owners -as well as their staff, can already be spread pretty thin. If system hardening is beyond your scope, or you do not have the manpower to assign this task to a particular employee, this is where using a professional website design company to develop and maintain your site can be invaluable.

Hacking effects your business and its reputation, which can be hard to recover. This is your livelihood. Taking the necessary steps to protect your website from future attacks, whether you do it yourself or hire an expert, is worth the investment.




Turning Site Visitors Into Customers

We’ve always said your business website is your best marketing tool, working for you tirelessly 24/7, 365 days a year. But is it your top salesperson? A good salesperson is not just finding prospective clients. They know how to close the deal. The goal of your website is not just visibility for your business but to convert those site visitors into customers. If your analytics show that site visitors are not going past the first page, it’s clearly time to make some changes.

Design Is Important
It is important to make a good first impression. Websites must be appealing to the eye. A never-ending first page, too much text, typos or garish color combinations are an immediate turn off. You site should be uncluttered, have consistent design, and good quality, easy to read text.
Most importantly, with the growing trend of consumers using mobile devices to shop, your website should be built with the ability to respond or re-size to whatever device is accessing the site.

Every component of your site should work quickly and correctly. Slow loading pages, broken links or non-existent pages are unacceptable. Your website should provide easy and intuitive navigation, minimal scrolling, and clear calls to action. Customers should immediately know exactly what products or services you provide and how to access them.

It is important that your website portrays your business as legitimate. In personal relationships, trust takes time. In the cyber world, you only have a few seconds. Design and functionality also play a large roll in this.
Beyond that, it is essential to personalize the user experience. Include an “about us” section with pictures of staff, their contact info and information of their education and experience. A client list with links to their website, portfolios of past projects, and genuine customer testimonials will help to convey the positive experience others have had working with your business.

Track Your Progress
Monitor your website traffic. There are several, the favorite being Google Analytics but you can shop around to find the right fit for your business.