We hear from entrepreneur Caelen King on his aspirations for 2011, starting your own business and the best tips in his mind. . Read more about it here in our Stories Section. . . continue reading
There has been a huge surge in the use of smartphones amongst Irish business owners and in the development of Irish smartphone apps. There are lots of online ‘top 10′ lists on apps for businesses but lets not forget those that are homegrown. continue reading
You’ve set up your Facebook Page, your ‘Likes’ are growing and you’re posting regular updates to let your fans know about your products/services, encouraging comments, feedback etc. Now, what do you need to do? One thing you should really consider is to create a customised Landing Page. By default, when you create a Business Page, your Facebook visitors will land on your Wall, where they will see your latest updates, comments etc. Your visitors can be uncertain as to what to do: should they look at the conversations, get a feel as to what your business is about?; should they ‘Like’ your Page and start engaging with your updates? Wall content is not usually interesting or appealing enough to get people to ‘Like’ your Page.
Remove some of the confusion, create a customised Landing Page that encourages your visitors to ‘Like’ your Page. An effective Landing Page will showcase what your business is about, display special content, offers, discounts etc. that are available to fans who click the ‘Like’ button. Stand out from the crowd, tell people you’re delighted they came to your Page and share your passion and enthusiasm for your product/services. Use graphics, videos to create a multimedia Landing Page that promotes engagement with your Page. Offer visitors something for becoming a fan.
Until recently custom tabs were created using an application named Static FBML; this has now been replaced by iFrame which allows a web page hosted on one server to be embedded (‘framed’) into a web page of another. Page administrators now have to use iframes to create a Facebook app in order to create a custom Landing Page. When you create your iFrame customised tab (called ‘Welcome’ for example), you now need to make it the default Landing Tab for viewers of your Page. To do this, go to “Edit Page” and select “Manage Permissions”. Under “Default Landing Tab”, scroll down, select ‘Welcome’ and “Save Changes”.
Click on the link below to see some great customised Landing Pages.
Blog Kindly provided by SME Connect:
I was lucky enough to get invited to Google HQ in Dublin for a day of training last week. The amount of information Google gave was fantastic. Each session was broke into 30 minute blocks with experts from that area in Google. I will add some short posts on what was covered as it may help people understand exactly what Big Brother Google thinks and how they would like us to build our sites.
We were introduced to teams from organic search, adwords, adsense, webmaster and a number of other experts. They also provide a lot of great free tools to help people get more out of their site. I will link to them in posts too.
Internet Usage in Ireland
52% internet usage (2005)
77% coverage in 2010 (thats 3.5 million people)
15th highest in world for broadband
In 1-2 years we will have higher internet penetration than UK
Time spent online in Ireland
European average is 12.1 hours a week
Irish average is 19.4 hours a week spent online
Next year there will be more people online than watching TV
What do people do online?
(stats from last 3 month in 2009)
Buying / Shopping (53%)
Social Networking (52%)
Online Banking (51%)
Travel Bookings (50%)
Ireland are the 4th highest in Europe for Online Buying.
We are number 1 for Online Travel Bookings (might have something to do with Ryanair)
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
It is very clear from these stats provided by Google that more and more people are spending time and money online. The fact that people spend so much time online is now common place. Not many people go to the Golden Pages to find a business. They GOOGLE IT. Ireland is usually slow to adopt new technology (mobiles, digital tv, etc), but once we take something onboard we are very loyal and become very big users of products.
Research for a product or service is often forgotten about with businesses. If your customer meets a sales rep or views a product in a shop and don’t buy it who will do the follow up sales with them? With a good website you can answer commonly asked pre & after sales questions. Show your product working and list all it’s benefits. People often think if someone visits their site and does not buy a product that the sale is lost. This is not the case. A lot of people show around online as they do in the real world. The difference is online they can shop around much faster and more efficiently. They may decide to return to your site in a few days and purchase. They may contact your directly to buy instead. This is where a good strategy and analytical tracking of the site comes in play.
For more info on analytics I wrote an earlier post here.
Buying Online is growing every single day. People now have trust in Ireland vendors and are happy to purchase products online. A lot more companies are offering ways for people to pay for services online.
Social Networking has exploded in the last few years with the likes of Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Blogging, etc. As humans we all want to connect and we are all nosy too. We want to feel part of a group. Facebook has more than 500 MILLION members now. Twitter is so popular that companies such as ASOS ( As Seen on Screen) now offer customer support solely through twitter. ASOS has 50 staff members who handle their twitter customer services channel.
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. This is fantastic for companies who may use YouTube to showcase their product demos. You can also embed YouTube videos directly on your site too so you get the best of both worlds. For a very nice example of how to use YouTube to sell your business visit OwenFitzpatrick.com
10 Tips For Better Web Sites
What are the secrets of the super sites? Why do some sites suceed while the majority of others fail? More and more Internet business owners are asking themselves these questions. The answers are frequently more obvious than you may think. Below are 10 tips for better, more successful web sites.
1. Build It For Speed
It’s a fact of modern life – people are in a hurry. Nowhere is that more true than on the Internet. It seems that no matter how much the technology improves, nothing is ever fast enough. In fact, several studies indicate that the fast technology advances, the faster people expect things to be.
2. Target Your Market
Know who your market is and make certain that your site caters to their needs. It is critical that your site reflect the values of your potential customers. Is your market mostly business professionals? If so, the site must be clean and professional. Is your product aimed mostly a teenagers and young adults? Then your site could be more informal and relaxed. The key here is to know your market and build the site to their preferences.
3. Focus The Site
Make certain your web site is focused on the goal, selling your product or service. A site offering many unrelated products is not necessarily unfocused, but this is often the case. If your business does offer many products, dedicate a unique page for each instead of trying to sell them all from one page. Upselling or cross selling is vital but don’t dedicate so much to it that the customer feels caught in a bait and switch. Make mention of other products but do so subtly.
4. Credibility Is Crucial
The most professionally designed site won’t sell if your customers don’t believe in you. The impersonal nature of the Internet breeds a certain level of mistrust. For your web site to be successful you must overcome this tendency.
A clear privacy statement is one way to build your credibility. Every commercial web site should have a privacy statement posted on line. Provide a prominent link to your privacy statement from every page on the site as well as from any location that you are asking your visitors for personal information. Provide legitimate contact information on line. Your contact information should include an email address, mailing address, phone number and a fax number, if applicable. If you are unwilling to provide this information to your customers, how can they trust (or buy from) you?
5. Offer A Guarantee
Offer an ironclad, no exceptions money back guarantee. This item is really a credibility issue but it is important enough to warrant its own mention. What better way to establish your customer’s trust than to eliminate any risk for them? If the customer sees that your are willing to assume all of the risk, they will immediately be more inclined to trust you.
6. Make Payment Easy
Offer a variety of payment methods for your customer. If you don’t currently take credit cards, start immediately. You can either set up a merchant account or use one of the many credit card clearing houses. Provide an address for those who prefer to pay by cash, check or money order. Make sure the payment process is clear, easy to access and intuitive to use. Eliminate as many steps as possible. Do not ask for any more information than is necessary to complete the transaction. Nothing frightens a customer off faster than feeling that their privacy is being invaded.
7. Simple Navigation
Make site navigation easy and intuitive. While it may be artistic to make your index page all black and hide the link to continue, will that generate business? If your customer can not navigate your site to find what they want, they will go elsewhere. Limit the choices and direct your customers through a sales process.
Make sure the site is consistent in look, feel and design. Nothing is more jarring and disturbing to a customer than feeling as if they have just gone to another site. Keep colors and themes constant throughout the site.
9. Design for indexing
85% of all web users find what they are looking for via the top search engines. Make sure that your page is designed to maximize your placement. Focus on your keywords and keyword density but don’t sacrifice your message. Utilize the meta tags keywords, description and title. Use your keywords when naming your pages.
10. Content is (still) king
Good content sells product. Ask yourself the following questions. Does your copy convey the message you wish to get across to your visitors? Is it compelling? Does it lead your visitor through the sales process? Have others review, critique and edit your copy to insure it is delivering the intended message. Always double check your spelling and grammar.
Implementing the ten steps above probably will not make your site as successful as Yahoo or Amazon overnight. If they are implemented correctly and integrated into an overall web site design and marketing campaign, you should see a marked improvement in the site’s traffic and sales.
From 15k RAID 5 SCSI HDD’s to that all important 1920×1200 WUXGA Matte display, yes with rubbish bamboozling terms like that you might be tempted to put technology for your business way down the “todo” list. Well this is a big mistake. Your business needs to use IT from the very beginning to have any hope of even matching the competition. Yet if used correctly, technology can help any small business punch way way above their weight. Follow these few tips to have your business roaring like the God of thunder gargling with nails!
Forget about phone land lines such as Eircom, you need what is known as a “VOIP” phone system. Get a fast internet connection, any VOIP phone handset and sign up for a www.blueface.ie account. This will give you 1) your all important land line number with the ability to take 5 calls at the same time, 2) Fax line and 3) it’s VOIP so you can move that landline number anywhere with an internet connection or even route calls to your mobile at your leisure. Don’t forget that’s only scratching the surface of a VOIP phone system’s capabilities.
A mobile phone is not just used for taking calls. Pick up a smart phone (such as blackberry) for instant access to email. Your phone’s calendar and contacts will also be linked into your main email system (Google Apps). Adding an entry to your calendar on the phone will sync it on all your computers automatically wirelessly over the air. Even your business partner or secretary can add in calendar reminders for you on their computers that sync to your phone automatically.
Register a domain name and try to get one with words related to your business in the name. If your business is called Contoso and you are wedding DJ, well www.contoso.com is of little no use, you need to try register www.weddingdj.ie and yes if your business is based only in Ireland, that needs to be a dot ie not dot com – Google.com will redirect most Irish searchers to Google.ie and Google.ie always gives higher ranking to sites ending with a dot ie. Registering a ie domains used to be expensive but www.Blacknight.com have fantastic deals.
Before you run wild looking at designs creating a site, don’t forget the purpose. Sales and Marketing. You may have a pretty site but if people can’t find it well I’m sorry but let me whisper to you…..it’s useless… For a website to generate business you need to have it at the top of Google. There are three top spots in Google. 1) If you pay for Google adwords 2) Submit your business to Maps (these appear under adwords for any search that has a place in the search term e.g. wedding DJ Dublin) and finally 3) Google Organic listings.
For 1) Adwords, make sure your web development company has your site ranked at least 7/10 with Google – the higher the rank the cheaper the ads. Adwords is a bidding war but if you are not up on top it’s a waste of time and money. The worst is to be paying just that small amount under the competition and only appear on the side right panel. Increase the bids until you are at top.
Submit your business to maps for point 2) at www.google.com/local/add and please take time to fill in everything loading in as many keywords related to your business as you can.
Finally, to get to the top of Google organic listings, ask your web developers to optimise the website for search engines and install a wordpress blog. You must run a blog and make regular posts , at least once a week in the correct way -by this I mean ensure you have loaded up the title of your blog post with keywords “Wedding Music Service by Wedding DJ in Cavan” and follow this by adding keyword tags “Wedding DJ Dublin” “Wedding DJ Cavan” etc.
So as you can see, getting the website to the top is a job in itself but put in some hard work and it will become your entire sales team.
Less than 5 people? Google Apps. Google Apps. Google Apps. Nothing can beat this for a new small business. It acts like a central email server storing all your email, gives you SPAM and Virus free access over the internet, through Outlook, on your mobile phone. All email is synced too which gives full access to all email including sent items from anywhere. You can always move to a server running email software when you are a bigger company.
Again, with Less than five people do not buy a server. A real server will cost 3k to 5k – and please don’t even consider the cheap “fake” sub 1k servers that are nothing more than glorified PC’s. Use your own PC in the office to act as the server, sharing out files and keeping the files and folders in a central location with two USB external drives as backup. Swap the backups disks every Friday and bring one home for that all important off-site backup. There are other options too like www.dropbox.com and www.idrive.com if you trust having your files with a third party. Antivirus software is essential as is your office productivity software – Microsoft Office 2007 or Open Office are the typical choices.
A free option here is to use www.logmein.com or alternatively a firewall for your network will provide remote access with additional security features. Remote access will let you work on your office computer from anywhere as if you are sitting at your desk.
Going that extra mile is absolutely essential to any new business starting up and IT is like the coach running along side shouting words of encouragement. Whether it’s the technology that allows you to take that vital call/answer that important email out of hours or perhaps finish that tender document remotely on the office computer from home on a Saturday morning. The extra mile turns into an extra 26 mile marathon with success at the finish line.
Great Blog John Thank You.
Contact John at www.complex.ie for great web design and IT Support
The value of the internet in reducing marketing and distribution costs during the current economic slowdown is being realised by more companies than ever, according to Google’s Ronan Harris, director of online sales and operations.
He said that an online presence can be the most economic tool for driving sales and product distribution.
Speaking today at the IIA Annual Congress in Dublin, Harris said: “Getting consumers to your website is half the difficulty, getting them to actually buy something is the key measure of success. There is an armoury of free tools available on the internet that can help businesses to maximise online sales
“It’s important to understand how customers engage with your site. With lots of free tools like analytics, conversion tracking and website optimisation, the revenue generating potential of a firm’s website can be exploited and may even help many businesses to beat the economic downturn.”
Harris also pointed out that businesses are entering a new era of cross media advertising, with the internet at the heart of it.
He said: “The internet is coming of age as a branding medium and digital media is highly measurable. The emergence of online video, rich media and gadget ads, for example, make it possible for brands to deliver much more engaging and creative messages through their online advertising than ever before. Social media offers further potential for building brand affinities on a one to one level.”