What Makes A Website “Good”? Might Not Be What You Think

What Makes A Website “Good”? Might Not Be What You Think

Back in 2003, Customwave originally started as a web design company where small businesses wanted us to design the nicest looking, fanciest websites. Why? Because the theory was back then that the nicer the website looks, the more likely the potential customer turns into a customer.

But in 2014, things have changed.

What makes a website “good”, depends on the goal of the website. What you want the website to do. Let’s first look at the website where small business owners want to get more phone calls from potential customers.

The goal of the website would then be to get the highest conversion rate between website visitors to phone calls. So whatever changes and tweaks done on the website to increase that conversion rate from 10%-20% is what makes the website “good” in this case.

And a lot of times, the design and fanciness of the website have nothing to do with the conversion rate. I repeat, a nice looking website doesn’t necessarily mean the website converts well.

In my experience, 2 of the biggest factors in high conversion rates is that the website is super simple. Where the navigation is easy. Why is that so important? Because lots of older people, or people not computer savvy might know how to turn the computer on, they might know how to get to Google, but once people get to the website, they still have a hard time finding what they’re looking for. Thus, the more simple the site, the easier it is for everybody to find what they’re looking for. Especially the phone number!

The other most important aspect in 2014 is that the website is mobile friendly, meaning the website operates well on cell phones and tablets like the ipad. A lot of people aren’t aware that if the website isn’t mobile friendly, Google won’t even show it on it’s search engine.

A lot of the older websites, and when I say older I mean like 2008, 2012 that have flash elements, slider graphics, a lot of those don’t show up well on mobile devices. And that could make your conversion rate from mobile website visitors to phone calls really small. Which would make your website “not so good.”

With other websites like shopping carts, it’s all about the conversion rate between website visitors to actual sales. With other websites that just want you to fill out a form, it’s about the conversion rate between website visitors to form fill outs. Get the picture?

A website is only successful when it does what you want it to do. Not because it looks the way you want it to look.

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Internet Marketing Secrets Revealed. This Is How You Can Make Clients Money.

Too many internet marketing firms want to have plausible deniability when it comes to a client’s sales. Whether it’s search engine optimization, paying Google per click, too many in our industry want no accountability for the actual results. I actually used to be the same way, back in 2005, 2006, 2007,  just learning the ropes.

Most of the time, when internet marketing companies don’t have proper tracking in place to know what types of results they’re getting, it’s because they’re not confident in their abilities to increase a client’s sales. Therefore, they stick their heads in the sand not wanting to know the actual results. Again, when i was younger, I used to be the same way.

The thing I’ve learned is that it’s not enough to just advertise someone on the internet, specifically on Google. It’s not enough to just get someone phone calls. To really succeed in this industry, you need to help your client’s make more money. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.

Now someone might say, well, we can’t control whether a website visitor makes a decision to call the client. And that part is true. However, the thing you can control is the quality of the phone calls and email leads. Some months there will be a few more calls, some months there’ll be a few less, but as long as the quality of the calls are good,  the client should still be able to get new customers and make more money.

A lot of companies in our industry do a pretty good at client acquisition, landing new small business customers. But many of those same companies do a terrible job at client retention, keeping those small businesses for any longer than a year. The reason why companies like Reach Local and Go Daddy aren’t dominating even more than they are is because they constantly lose clients because they focus on advertising. They don’t focus on making the small business client money.

And how could they? This industry is so new and so young, there’s not enough people that know what they’re doing to take care of all the demand. Colleges are just getting around to starting to teach internet marketing, but because this industry is fluid and changes rapidly every year, their information is often times outdated and obsolete. Most small businesses that work with someone in a call center with limited experience, training, and knowledge have a bad experience. Therefore, the small business cancels after the contract is over.

So as internet marketers, what exactly can we do to help our clients make more money? How do we do that?

You have to focus on the quality of phone calls and sales leads. Decrease the junk leads as much as possible.

Every business is different. And for every business, they will want a specific type of customer. Find out what type of customer they want. Then get really specific on which keywords you target to make sure you get them the right type of call.

Find out the schedule of when they want to be advertised. If the client is getting clicks at 2am in the morning and doesn’t have anyone to pick up the phone at 2am, you don’t want to be advertising them at that time. Only advertise the client when they’re in a position to answer the phone or return email quickly.

Find out which devices they want to advertise on. Some businesses will find it more valuable to be advertised only on cell phones, versus all devices. Or only computers and not cell phones.

There’s a world of opportunity in our industry. The vast majority of internet marketers are not doing that great at their job because what we do is so brand new and we’re still trying to figure it out. But the people that will really succeed in the next 5-10 years will be the internet marketing companies that can RETAIN small business clients. KEEP them. Have them advertise with you for years and years. And the only way to do that is to help them make money from your work.




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If The Internet Tax Bill Passes, Customwave Will Leave The Shopping Cart Business

I’ve thought long and hard about this. If the internet tax bill passes in Washington D.C., it will no longer be worth it for Customwave to build shopping carts for small businesses.

There are a lot of reasons for this. The biggest reason is that on a technical level, it’s going to be a nightmare for companies like Magento to figure out how to put in each state’s sales tax into the database and then have to track the IP address for each user based on what state they’re in. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it will take them a while to figure out. And the cost for small businesses’ like Customwave to use shopping cart programs like this to build shopping carts like this will most likely go up. Joy.

Then there’s the fact that small business owners will turn to companies like us at Customwave to explain how this new internet tax deal works. And we don’t want to have to spend the extra time to become experts in whatever boondongle of legislation is passed and then take the time to explain how it works. And our clients won’t like it if we charge for our support on the phone. They’ll think we should include for free in the service.

Then there’s the issue that this tax will make it almost impossible for small businesses to make money with their shopping carts. It’s been polled to countless focus groups and surveys that the #1 reason people will buy a product off the internet is they’re trying to find a lower price than the nearby stores have. I know the politicians have been talking up taxing big corporations like Amazon, Ebay, Wal Mart, etc, but the small business will be hurt the most. Because a small business already has a very small profit margin with them trying to compete on price, after this tax, they’ll have even less money left over for themselves. And for a lot of companies, it’ll make having a shopping cart not worth it to them.

So, I’ve heard the argument about how the states are broke and they need to find new ways to bring in new money by taxing the internet. Well, here are the unintended consequences of their bill:

  • Internet marketing companies like Customwave will start to refuse to build shopping carts. But if they do decide to build shopping carts they will for sure charge more money for the reasons I stated above.
  • Programming companies like Magento might decide to leave the shopping cart business or charge more. This will also drive up the price for a small business having a shopping cart.
  • There will now be an increased burden on small businesses to have yet another place they have to keep track of taxes. So now they’ll spend time on this instead of spending time growing their business, which would help create new jobs.
  • Lots of small businesses will abandon their shopping carts and pull the plug because of higher prices and the hassle of being taxed. This will drive their revenue down being there’s one less place for them to make money.

The supposed “Fairness in the Marketplace” legislation (what the internet tax bill is ironically being called), I argue will harm small businesses more than help them. And the only people that will gain the most by this is people in the government that will be TAKING yet even more money from the private sector to spend it whichever special interest they need to pay back.

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Most Local Florists Are Leaving Money On The Table

It’s like this in almost every small business industry. There’s only so much supply of internet marketers and way too much demand of all the millions and millions of small businesses that need help in just the most basic internet marketing needs.

I read an infographic by vsplash that showed that despite the rough economy, valentine’s day brings in billions of dollars of business. But unfortunately the small business local florists are leaving money on the table by not being found on the first page of Google, making it difficult for potential customers looking for florists in the local area.

The research shows that 45% of florists websites don’t have an address on their website, an astounding 40% don’t have a local phone #, and a ghastly 90% don’t have at least one photo gallery showing on their flowers! Unbelievable!!

There are many, many more industries in the small business community hurting and really needing help marketing themselves online. This, along with people more and more using their TV with the internet, is why most Wall St. and business analysts predict that the internet marketing industry is going to be seeing rapid growth in the next 5-10 years.

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Where Should Your Internet Marketing Dollars Go Right Now?

I wanted to make a quick summary on what internet marketing techniques are perfect to invest in right now. Which ones are too experimental and would be better to invest in the future. And which marketing techniques you’ve missed the boat on and you’re too late.

It’s Too Late

-SEO: People had gangbuster success with SEO in the 2000’s. If you got in early, you not only got loads of free website traffic that generated sales leads, but you also got very valuable real estate on the 1st page of Google. In 2013, the people that are currently on the 1st page of Google usually don’t go anywhere. So if you want to crack the 1st page for keywords that are very competitive, maybe after a lot of hard work, maybe you can reach the 1st page after a year or so. Maybe. No guarantees. To spend a bunch of money in SEO these days with the hope of getting 2005-like results is like spending money on going to California because you think the gold rush is still going on.

-Shopping Carts: For small businesses that have shopping carts, they live and die off organic, seo traffic. They can’t afford to pay what large companies pay per click because the large company will almost always have a higher conversion rate. Why? It will take a large company less clicks to produce a sale on average because consumers are already familiar and will be more likely to trust the big company than some small company they’ve never heard of before. And because brand new SEO campaigns are almost impossible to be successful, the ship has sailed on shopping carts. The only exception would be if you’ve found a niche market and there’s no competition. Then the possibility for seo success and shopping cart success is out there.

Maybe Later

-Social Media: The past 5 years have shown that Facebook doesn’t drive up referral and word of mouth business. People just don’t do it. They use Facebook and other social media sites to socialize. Paying for clicks on Facebook is no different than any other form of display advertising, it’s just more expensive. If you’re a small business, you’re way better off letting someone else figure out the social media puzzle.

-Display Advertising: It’s on the rise and looks more appealing, but affiliate networks like Google need to do a better job localizing and properly segmenting the traffic. The conversion rates from clicks to sales leads is still ridiculously low because the location net is too wide and the segmenting isn’t specific enough. But I think Google will eventually get to where they need to be and that display will be a viable form of internet marketing by maybe 2015.

Internet Radio Advertising: I almost put this in the do it now category, but here at Customwave, we’re probably going to wait another year before completely jumping in and recommending it to clients. Too experimental right now, but it definitely has a future. I wrote a separate blog on it here.


Do It Now

-Pay Per Click: This is our bread and butter at Customwave. If you know what you’re doing, it works like gangbusters! You should have to know how to make sure the clicks you’re paying for convert into calls.

-Reputation Management: Lots of demand, not enough competent supply. Business owners are starting to pick up on the importance of their reputation online and it’s very do-able to help people with it.

-Email Marketing: An old school approach that still works as long as the people that are receiving your emails are familiar with you and interested in what you’re selling.

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I’m Sorry, But It’s Too Late To Build Your Shopping Cart

I’m going to make this short and simple. Every now and then, people ask me to help them with their shopping carts. And you need to understand that with shopping carts, not only do they take a long time to build, but it takes a long time to get all the content together. Like the pictures. The text. Market research to figure out the pricing. Setting up the merchant account that processes credit cards when a product is bought. I want to be clear. Building a shopping cart is a big investment of time and money.

And on top of all that, it’s too late. It’s 2012. You missed the boat.

Here’s why. Marketing locally works. Local small businesses compete within 10 mile to 25 mile radius. They’re not going to compete with big, national companies. With shopping carts, you compete with other small businesses all across the country and even the world. And you compete with big business. Why is that important? Because for big companies, the cost to acquire the sale will be a lot lower than yours.

SEO for shopping carts? Forget about it. Too late. Maybe, maybe a company can start doing SEO now and maybe in 1-2 years pick up organic rankings LOCALLY. But nationally? Unless you’re inventing a new product, you’re out of luck.

So the only option is paying for traffic. Here’s the most important part of my post: Let’s say, it takes you 50 clicks to get a sale. Well guess what? The big, national companies, it’s going to take them a lot less clicks to produce a sale. Why? Trust. Brand recognition. For Target, they probably only need maybe 15 clicks to produce a sale. Maybe less. Because people know Target. If they have problems, they’re confident Target will resolve them. But people have no clue who Joe’s Shoes is. They don’t have much confidence there. So Therefore, if Target only needs 15 clicks to make a sale and you need 50, Target will be willing to bid a lot more per click than a small business would. And big business drives the cost per click up so high to where the small business can’t compete. Like even when they make a sale, the cost to acquire it is so high, they don’t make any money.

Is it impossible to build a shopping cart right now and have success with it? No. It is possible. How can you do it? You need to build up your brand online. You need to spread positive reviews about your company like wildfire. All the forums and blogs the potential customers in your market go to, you need to advertise there. Give people time to get familiar with you. You need to be on Facebook like no other and evangelize your brand. You need to make friends, get to know people. Build relationships with people. Hopefully they’ll spread word of mouth about your shopping cart. You would need to build up your brand so much, that if someone typed in your company name into Google to do background research on you, they find all this positive stuff. Then maybe, just maybe, it could take you 30 clicks, 25 clicks, 20 clicks on average to produce a sale. And that’s when your shopping cart can possibly, financially become a viable business.

But building a brand up takes a long time. I’m not talking about it taking a few weeks. Or months. I’m talking about at least a year, if not two or three. Maybe even five. It should be viewed as a long term investment.

So my conclusion is that most small business owners shouldn’t waste their time with shopping carts. Because they won’t have the patience or skill to build up their brand. It’s too late. Building a shopping cart and having success with it was very do-able back in 2001. Maybe 2005. You waited too long and missed the boat. For those of you who are going to do it anyway, may the force be with you. You’re going to need it.

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