Where to start with Websites

We typically recommend that every business, no matter how new or how small, set up a website.

At a minimum, a website helps you drive sales by establishing credibility as a professional operation and providing basic information about the services/products you offer.

It can also serve as a hub for original content that establishes you and your business as an expert in your industry, host customer testimonials, and process sales directly (e-commerce) among dozens of other functions.

Building a website can seem daunting, especially for business owners who have neither the budget nor technical expertise to build a custom website from scratch. This is where a website builder or a  CMS can save the day!

What is a CMS?

A CMS, or content management system, is software that allows users without programming knowledge to create, edit, and publish web content, such as text or multimedia elements, collectively via a graphical user interface.

In other words, a CMS takes care of the grunt work of getting your website set up and lets you focus on populating your site with great content. 

What is a website builder?

Website builders are often even simpler than CMSs, although they typically offer less functionality. These sites are often drag-and-drop and a great option if you just want to get up a barebones page with your basic information.

Both website builders and CMSs are popular solutions for many small businesses, and there are options to suit every budget and level of comfort with programming.

We thought it might be helpful to walk through some of the pros and cons of the best website builders and CMSs for small businesses:

CMS/

Website Builder

Pros Cons
WordPress

(CMS)

 

We recommend this one.

  • Massive popularity means there are tons of online resources (guides, forum posts etc.)
  • Started out as a blogging platform and still one of the best for blogs
  • One of the best options for services businesses
  • 50,000 extensions available = tons of flexibility on what the site can do
  • Many free design templates with options for customization
  • “Five-minute installation” wizard
  • Search engine friendly URLs
  • Publishing tools for mobile
  • Endless possible extensions, templates, and customization mean the learning curve can be rough
  • No dedicated support team; only online guides and a forum
  • You must install an eCommerce plugin if creating an online store – if this is your site’s primary function, Shopify might be a better option
Joomla

(CMS)

  • Great for hosting blogs and services businesses
  • Around 8,000 extensions available
  • Some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) support
  • Open-source platform
  • Community support through forums
  • Slightly more complex than WordPress
Shopify

(CMS) We recommend this one if you are looking at doing an online store.

  • Dedicated to e-commerce, so excellent functionality for online stores
  • Pretty flexible on design
  • Excellent tutorials available so you can learn quickly
  • If you’re a services business or have no interest in selling online, this is not a good fit
  • Blogging comes secondary, if you are primarily interested in creating content and selling a few things on the side this is not your best bet
Drupal

(CMF)

  • Open-source
  • Slim basic installation with more than 36,000 extension modules
  • Focus on social publishing and community projects
  • More than 1100 distributions as a complete solution for typical applications
  • Very flexible, modular layout
  • Very Old School!
  • Steep learning curve
  • Best for those with some knowledge of web development
Squarespace

(CMS/Website Builder)

  • Great pre-packaged design options
  • Easy to set up, no coding skills needed at all: drag-and-drop
  • Previews changes as you make them
  • More difficult to use than other website builders, such as Wix
  • Doesn’t have all the functionality of other CMSs
Wix

(Website Builder)

  • Consistently voted one of the easiest to use website builders
  • Aimed at non-technical users
  • Limited access to more complex features
  • Users have less control overall, it is more difficult to customize templates
  • Doesn’t have all the functionality of a CMS

For reference, here is a breakdown of the market share of the 10 most popular CMSs:

Wordpress

WordPress by a landslide! (We host our site on WordPress as well).

At the end of the day, the best CMS or website builder for your business depends on your unique needs and what you hope the website will do. We recommend that you take some time to explore the options and choose which one is best for you.

Once you’ve got your site up and running, check out our article on Cascading Content to learn how to populate it with content and drive traffic.

Cascading Content.

 

Efficient Digital Marketing Strategy

We know from the Four C’s of Marketing that your messaging should be consistent, coherent, complementary, and demonstrate continuity. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Four C’s or are just getting started with building your marketing strategy, we strongly recommend that you get started with this article.

We know from our examples that this means your customers are seeing messages which reinforce each other across your different channels. But where does this messaging come from?

Enter Cascading Content, a strategy to share relevant information with your target audience and keep them engaged. 

Let’s break this down:

 

  • Relevant information is content that is interesting, informative, entertaining, or otherwise brings value to your audience.
  • Target audience is a group of people that you know are interested in your business, industry, or area of expertise.
  • Engaged means actively reading, commenting on, or sharing your content.

 

 

Why is Cascading Content important?

Most people are facing information overload, especially from online advertisements. 

What we want to avoid is gaining subscribers who forget about your company after clicking “follow” or, worse, are so annoyed by your posts that they unsubscribe. 

To gain (and keep!) subscribers, it’s important to demonstrate that you have something to offer. Cascading Content moves beyond just sharing essential business information (e.g. hours of operation, sales, services offered) to 

Treat each new member of your audience as someone whose trust you need to actively nurture and whose support should be rewarded – just like you would treat a customer in person.

How does Cascading Content actually work?

 

  • Pick a topic and a medium: this should be a topic which is relevant to your business/audience and (most importantly!) something you know about. Choose a medium (article, video, presentation etc.) you’re comfortable with and get creating!*
  • Upload your content: if you have a website, create a new page and add your content. You could do this by adding a blog, for example, making sure you have at least 4 key points in your piece of content. If you don’t have your own website, you could upload the content directly onto your page on a third-party hosting site like Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
  • Share: this is where the Cascading happens! Using key parts of the content you have previously prepared, re-publish those key points in a different channel. You can even add extra info to support the message. For example, we could now make a post on cascading content, with a link to this blog!

Cascading content

It’s often a good idea to create a compelling image to accompany the link to your content to grab attention –we recommend using Canva. For more information on how to design images for social media and whether you might need to spring for the premium version.

Email Signatures

Emails, emails, emails, they exist everywhere in the business world. You love to hate them (especially when there are hundreds waiting in your inbox). But the reality is they are important and a great way to communicate with your customers! 

The average person sends 40 emails a day! Crazy right? Now think about the average working year, approximately 48 weeks, that means the average person is sending around 9,600 emails per year! That’s a lot of emails, and a lot of people reading those emails. Which is why it is super important that your email signature is professional and consistent to your companies’ brand.

When you don’t have consistent email signatures true to your companies’ brand it can lead to a negative and unprofessional reputation. You don’t want your customers having a negative perception of your business all because you have a sloppy email signature, especially when it is something so simple that can make all the difference.

Hence why we have decided to put together a few tips on how to get it right!

  • Firstly, when it comes to your corporate email @gmail.com or @xtra.co.nz is not ok! When you want to stick out from the crowd why chose something so common? You want an email address that will help your customers recognize you straight away. For example, yourname@yourbusiness.com.
  • Secondly, it is important to keep your email signatures consistent within your team. For example, if you keep the design simple with their name, contact phone number, and other important details included it is simple but effective. It also makes it super easy to update in the future if need be. Including the company logo will also make a huge difference and help you become more recognized.
  • Thirdly, you want your email signature to stand out, but you also don’t want it completely taking over your email. We think the perfect size is around 600px wide 150px high (you’re welcome!).

Professionalism and consistency go a long way in business, and it can often be the finer details that make all the difference. Email signatures don’t only provide the sense of professionalism, but it also provides instant brand recognition which will help your company in the long run. Think about you personally, what companies do you easily recognize and get drawn to because of the simple professional efforts they have put in to help their business stand out? We touch a bit more on consistency here.

Taking the time to create the perfect email signature really is well worth the effort. Trust us!

Canva. The $ Debate.

Who doesn’t love a graphic design tool? Especially when it is so simple to use, and one that is going to make your organization stand out. Well, I introduce to you Canva, the graphic design tool that has been helping make my social media look beautiful since way back.

What is this Canva thing?

If you haven’t already heard of Canva you are going to be grateful you are hearing about it now. As mentioned, Canva is a graphic design tool that provides everything you need to create a killer design for your business or other purposes.

Canva gives you access to millions of photos, images, and fonts as well as pre-made templates to make things super simple. Because let’s be honest, we aren’t all natural born graphic designers, so the more help the better, right? I think yes! And may I add it also has pre-made measurements for Facebook posts, Instagram, cover pages etc.…. I know! No more are the days where you spend time creating graphics only for it to be half cut off in the uploading process.

What’s also great about Canva is it can be used for both web and print media, basically your one stop shop for graphics. AND you can have its basic version for FREE! Yes, Canva offers a paid and unpaid version, so depending on your needs there is an option for everyone.

So, what’s the difference between the paid version and the FREE version?

The main difference between the paid and unpaid version of Canva is the levels of customization and organization. For example, unpaid users have access to some free graphics, can save a personal colour choice or two, and you can have up to two separate folders to save your work in. You can get away with the free version if you are just doing very simple social media and basic design.

Due to the work I do, I personally prefer the premium version. It is only $12.95 per month and totally worth it. It allows you to choose more design templates, upload yours or multiple brand guides and you are able to create many folders to organize your designs.

The best way to know what version is right for you is to go have a look and check it out for yourself. Start off with the free version and if you need more out of it then you’ll know the premium version is right for you. But trust me, you won’t regret taking a look and testing it out. Why not give it a go.

Facebook Facts…. Covers

Facebook, we have heard it before… “Facebook is easy…you can increase your exposure and hit your target audience with the click of a button.” However, we know it isn’t all that easy. Staying active on Facebook is key and posting the right content for your business is essential in order to get your business noticed.

Cover pages are a great way to get found and seen within your follower’s news feeds. You are able to educate your followers on the most recent comings and goings of your business and can get creative doing it.

So, what about your cover photo? We recommend that you update your cover page at least every two weeks, or, every time you launch a new promotion! How often do you change your cover page? 

So, why refresh your page anyway? Here are some great reasons!

  • Highlight the special offers that are currently running within your business.
  • Educate your followers on the current news within your business (everyone loves a little inside look) and servers love a good press release!
  • Keep your page exciting, fresh, and interesting for your followers which will help spur interest and onboard new followers. The more activity your followers see, the more they are going to remember your business and its brand.

So now that we’ve convinced you to update your Facebook cover page, we also feel obliged to share with you some ‘must dos’ when creating your Facebook cover.

  • Keep the text to a minimum! You want to catch your follower’s attention, not bore them. So, keep it short and sweet-but catchy!
  • Keep the design simple. We recommend around 2-3 elements to ensure it catches the eye but doesn’t confuse it.
  • Make it fit! There is nothing worse than spending time creating a Facebook cover all for it to get cut off once you’ve uploaded it. Ugh! The measurements are 820px x 462px (you’re welcome).
  • Always add your branding and always keep it unique. You want to stand out, not blend in! For example, you can always add a video instead of an image to your cover, it’s rather cool and it can bring in more engagement to your page. Canva is a great way to do this and helps make it easy. We recommend keeping it between 20-90 seconds long.

What are you waiting for? Go and create a killer Facebook cover and get noticed!