What an interesting question our title is for our article today. Our business reputation is on the line and we want, and need, to convey trust to our current and potential customer's. All our businesses try to show trust with our physical locations by showing our customers we care and are concerned for them. Online it is not any different. We show trust in our actions. These actions are not just the words we write to show who we are as a company but in how we act online. In today's world, we need to show trust with 'The Green Lock'.
In the past year, we focused on growth from purchasing our own building in downtown Valparaiso Indiana, adding to our core team to now have not only graphic designers, content writers, and programmers but to also have an entire department for customer service, sales, social media, photography and videography. Many of these changes happened not because we were looking for them but the culture of our company made it happen.
In November, a long-lost friend (not really lost) started talking over email. We had been emailing back and forth for a week about his frustrations in getting his website to convert from visitors to customers. I will start out this person is not a customer as he is happy with his current provider and is also a close friend of his. He wanted to be heard about his struggles, what he is currently doing, and think of ways to improve his situation in the upcoming months.
As we talk to more people about taking advantage of generating leads from their website into opportunities we move to the talk of branding and marketing. We find that many people believe they are the same thing rather than two distinct items. Branding and marketing are not the same and each has a very important role that is used collaboratively together in your organization. Using marketing and branding together you can achieve a set of goals. In this article, we will define clearly what branding and marketing is and how each one used collaboratively can be used to grow your business.
This week and next week will be two weeks of predictions from industry leaders and those in the digital marketing field. For some these will be guesses while others are more educated guesses with some hard research behind them. For the past three years, we have predicted trends in the digital marketing space. This year is more exciting than the past as we have a large variety of sources we tapped into, cancelled many of our old marketing methods that produced no results, as well as tests we did internally to make this year's set of predictions. We are going to only write about what we see as the top 5 items.
Each year we go through and establish the core fundamentals for the coming year for not only ourselves but each of our social media maintenance plan clients. When a digital marketing campaign is built, you create directions for your business to build your brand and market to your current and future customers. These are plans and not written in stone as the further we look out the more we know things will change over the time. Whether you are a fortune 500 company in the Chicagoland area or are in a growing community like Merrillville Indiana your time spent on your digital marketing campaigns will benefit your business.
Every business has a story and they want to be heard. Whether you are in a small town like Chesterton Indiana, a college town like Valparaiso Indiana, or a big city like Chicago Illinois. You want your story told and to be heard by others. To get your story heard you need to market to those looking around you. In this post, we delve into more on being found locally.
Being found locally for any small business is crucial. As of May 2015, Google acknowledged that search on mobile devices in ten counties, including the United States, surpassed that of desktop searches. With this revelation of how important mobile search is it is more important than ever that your business is truly prepared for local search. Searching on mobile uses geographic (location based) search to determine the most relevant information.
The internet has been insecure for far too long. Google with the largest browser share is doing something about it. The question is how many people will listen. Based on the size of Google I would say that the Google Chrome Security team will achieve this much-needed additional security.
When a business doesn't have a strategic plan, what tends to happen is what we call the 'copy' syndrome. This is where you look at one, or more, businesses and emulate aspects of their business. This often leads to changing directions midstream without focus and forethought. You essentially become a follower rather than a leader in your field. Rarely do these followers ever get out of that rut and become leaders in their field. When JM2 brings clients into our Valparaiso office we talk with them; it's our way. We don't ask directed questions to learn about them. Those questions all come out in regular conversation and we start to learn about their culture, who they are, their values, and more. This valuable information allows us to better serve them without having to 'interrogate' them.
We talk with several businesses every week about increasing their business either through search engines or through social media channels. Many of these businesses do not need social media as it is not a good fit for them. Social media used correctly, and for the right type of business, can increase your brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and build a trust through an active community of loyal followers. When used correctly social media is a powerful tool for those businesses that can benefit from it and a complete waste of time, resources, and money for those that use it incorrectly. We are going to delve into the most common social media myths that we have brought up to us.
A standing desk is just what it sounds like you 'stand at it'. But there are many forms to a standing desk. There are kinds that are statically up, those that require a crank or other manual method, and those that through the push of a button will go from a sitting position to a standing position. When we went on the search for a standing desk we wanted something that would meet the demand rigors of a small startup while being able to last the test of time as we grew to be a larger organization.
We all here about the benefits of shopping local but really what are the benefits and why would you want to shop local over a national brand? Being Small Business Saturday is going on now it’s an appropriate time to cover why small business is important and why your supporting a local business is beneficial to the economy.
We state we're a mobile company but when events force you to work mobile you start to realize the true nature of being a mobile workforce is. Our office is in downtown Valparaiso Indiana which means we have some amazing opportunities. We are close to great restaurants, local shops, and of course are the first back on when we lose power. Well, that last statement we've learned is not always the case. We have lost power a few times and five or six hours later and the power is still off at times. This doesn't affect us though as we have built our system from the ground up for handling these types of situations.
When it comes to getting your business online having a strategic plan that is optimized to grow your business is crucial. With a maintenance plan, you can take care of not only your website, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media needs but take it to a level never thought of. There are many companies that have solutions that do one and not the other. We're going to outline our 'Web + Social' plan. This is our most popular plan as it takes your business to the next level.
Many of our new clients will already have an existing website that isn't converting and the results that they are receiving are not what they want. When we inquire to what types of results they want they cannot answer right away. The reason is that there is no plan, no definition of what success is, and equally no definition of what failure is. The information is subjective and not defined which breeds the 'throw it away and start over' syndrome. This thought process is not the right solution for any business.
With elections quickly coming to an end for a short period there are a few things you need to think about whether you win or lose your political office. There are certain things you need to do to be a responsible politician no matter your election outcome. Although we are talking about your website your social media needs to be thought of as well.
When it comes to being found online you need an SEO strategy to reach the maximum audience possible using solely white hat SEO techniques. We are not going to delve into white hat or black hat SEO here. We will strictly be talking tactics that we use in every blog post to achieve SEO success with content through blogging on your website. Before we even get into the article I want to be very clear that when you write do not write for the search engines to get your SEO. You want your content human readable and in a way, that is engaging and provides value to your intended audience.
We are always looking months out for preparing. We are typically scheduled out 4, 6, even 8 weeks out for our clients. The reason for this is that we want to make certain we are thinking of holidays, promotion ideas, blog ideas, social media ideas, and the individual items that are happening in the weeks ahead (e.g. New Year's Day, Trivia Day, etc.). Since content creation is a core part of what we provide to our clients with not only unique and high-quality content but aggregated content that showcases a client's unique traits we need to be thinking ahead rather than after the fact. Therefore, we are already planning for 2017. To give you an idea of what we look at we're going to look at the major items we wrote down for January 2017.
On October 14, 2014, the idea came about for a low cost and efficient eCommerce site for people in and around Valparaiso Indiana. We didn't want to charge on a per item basis whether it be a percent or a flat-fee. The goal was provide businesses the opportunity to grow without a huge overhead. The eCommerce solution we chose was called 'Purchase Local' initially as we were going to focus solely within the Northwest Indiana area. Flash forward 2 years, some company growth, and 'Side Walk Shop' was born. Based on the same premise of the purchase local concepts this will be nationwide with a full marketing budget and team standing behind it.
This past weekend we met with two great clients on Saturday about how together we will work collaboratively together with their website, branding, and marketing of their organizations. The first lasted several hours about our services and digging deep into the realm of what our social media offered. The next inquired why we would want to work with their specific industry as they said they were slow pay and were by design hard to work with. In this article, we're going to look back at these two meetings and see how two different approaches align well with our Valparaiso Indiana company and why it shows why our three-year building process has put us in a place for rapid growth.
When it comes to search engine optimization or SEO it should never be considered one and done or something you can learn in a blog post or a few short hours. SEO is truly a craft that can take a good website and make it great. The opposite is also true that a good website with poorly thought out design and content can create a bad website to the search engines. In this article, we'll go over the core areas for SEO on an eCommerce website.
Today I personally worked on over 40 changes for over 30 clients. That may seem like a lot but it really wasn't. This is a typical day for our Valparaiso web design firm. What was interesting is not one of these were any of our maintenance contract customers that receive unlimited web site updates. This means I should have be billing out 10 hours of time for today. The fact is I only billed 2 hours of time. Let's look at this and see what makes our web design customer service in Valparaiso Indiana different from that of everyone else.
We have always known about the importance of storytelling when it comes to getting your message across in a fun way to your target audience. As we dig deeper into video we are reevaluating everything we know when it comes to content writing and getting the message across. Today we will cover some of the key aspects of doing a positive story telling article. This applies to not just content writing but within video as well.
Being spoiled is often looked at as not being a good thing. To receive anything you want, when you want without regards to the consequence of obtaining it is generally considered not a healthy way to go about life.
With all the talk about our new “Rock the Social” training courses there are some subjects we are not covering. The reason we are not going to cover some courses as they take too much time for a 4, 8, or even 40-hour course. One of those courses is search engine optimization (SEO). We will continue to cover search engine optimization in these articles to continue that education process for those that wish to do everything on their own.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to be part of a Chamber Networking Night, a night put on by a city chamber that brings together local businesses to set up flashy booths, give away free goodies and interact with other visitors, clients, and businesses.
Over the past several months there has been a lot of thought and especially growth in many ways. JM2 started as two friends and their wife/fiancé wanting to just “have fun” and “make a difference”. Over the years that has not changed but yet in many ways it has changed. In this article we’re going to cover five things you must have if you want to have a growing business, not a hobby, and make a difference in the world that we live in.
I want to tell you a story. This story is a short one and one that shows what makes JM2 different than most companies. We are small (8 of us currently), we are new (3 years old), but we have a passion (our clients or customers if you will) become part of our family.
Many businesses will claim that they go above and beyond what is necessary to make their clients happy. Phrases like 'the customer is always right' and 'we're here for you' are often tossed around with little care to if they actually do stick to their word.
Each time we talk about our social media maintenance plans we get more excited than the last time (even if it was only a few minutes earlier). The reason for this is that the plans offer more than anyone could ever hope to get at a price that is not only fair but designed to help every business grow and be successful. We become a core part of your business and one of the most important pieces we do is we don't advertise on YOUR website or social media outlet. We are your expert silent partner in helping you grow your business.
One of the core aspects of being a growing company in Valparaiso Indiana is each week we reflect on the past week’s activities, business decisions, products deployed and new projects we’ve received in the past week. We do this not only to stay focused for our clients but that we do not waiver from our core business objectives. This doesn’t mean we don’t waiver during the week. We do and have. Decisions take longer than a week to create and implement which is why we have our weekly reflections. In this article we'll cover some of the biggest waivers and how we overcame them.
Whenever we bring on a new client or whenever a new client finds their way to JM2, there is one question we always lead with once they choose our services. How are we going to be able to help them?
We are routinely (multiple times per week) creating Digicert SSL certificates for our clients in Northwest Indiana and outside of Indiana. We are often asked what is the difference between SSL, TLS, and HTTPS. In this article we are going to do a very high-level explanation so that everyone can easily understand what this very important security is.
This weekend marks the one-month anniversary that JM2 Webdesigners moved from their Zoseco Co-working space to their new home at 403 East Lincolnway. The new web design and social media location is still in Valparaiso Indiana and just five blocks East of the old Zoseco Co-working location. What though has a move done for JM2 Webdesigners, its employees, and most important the clients that it services? We are going to look back at what this move has done.
When it comes to getting your website indexed on the search engines you need high-quality content that tells a story to your users. This story needs to be clear, concise, and most importantly covers what your users are looking for.
When it comes to marketing today mobile is becoming more of a key player. Mobile text marketing or SMS marketing has a standard open rate of 98% compared to 30% with email marketing. On top of that only 1% of SMS marketing messages are considered spam due to the fact the loyal customer has to opt-in to receive the messages. By adding just one person coming back per week that might not otherwise come to your location you will not only pay for text messaging but start to make more money. In this article we're going to cover the core benefits of what SMS marketing is and how your business can benefit from having it to drive more revenue to your door.
The days of having to make the choice between your message and your media are about to become a thing of the past thanks to Twitter's latest character length update.
Pictures, GIFS, videos, links to quoted tweets and polls will no longer count towards your overall 140 character word count. This means that your posts will now allow you to tweet as you normally would without having to worry about other media taking away from your character count.
When do employees become more than just employees?
It's a question that businesses ask themselves but few often seek the solution. What are the key ingredients in creating a company culture like Google, Zappos and Pixar when employees don't just work, they love working?
As we work on content writing, graphic design, social media and search engine optimization (SEO) we often look at what a typical day looks like. Below is a list of what we do for our clients on a weekly and daily basis.
As more content management systems (CMS) having automated updates built-in the need for a staging server is critical. In our environment we have a development environment which is our development machines, a testing or UAT server, a staging server which is verification of a move right after everything having been tested, and finally a production (prod) server. With a UAT and staging server you will be as close to the production environments as possible. The reason is for this is so that you can closely test performance and usability before moving items into the production environment.
Pogo-sticking is not like the pogo sticks many of us grew up as a kid. When we talk about pogo-sticking this is when a person types a search term in the search engines, click on a link and then immediately after reaching a page clicks the back button as the page they landed on was not what they were looking for. In the terms of a business when pogo-sticking happens on their page a lost sale has most likely just happened.
Often when we are out and about working at Valparaiso Uptown Café we are often asked by one of our loyal blog readers why we continue to give away knowledge that we can easily charge for. In fact, we do charge for the knowledge we share and give away. The reason we do so is to show our expertise to others. Those that pay for us to do work for them like to know we are industry experts while others have the time available to handle the tasks themselves but often don't have the time to do it themselves.
When you start to blog you have a sense of excitement that you are going to do something continuously to not only help others but also to help yourself grow. Having a blog helps refine and improve what you are already passionate about. This passion is what helps you grow from good to great. When you curate (aka share) others people's content you are helping them grow but not yourself. Having a blog allows you to grow yourself and at the same time your company. In today's article we'll discuss why it's not only important but imperative to blog to make your business stronger.
Every once in awhile, we have one of our clients stop by our office. While most clients stop in businesses to discuss problems or issues, we do something a little different with this particular client.
We just talk
That's right, we talk. Not about business and not about selling him another new product. We just talk about whatever comes to our mind. Sometimes it's about family. Sometimes it's about current events, but not matter what the topic, we take the time so sit back, relax and talk.
Coming off of Labor Day weekend we thought we would talk and discuss maintenance plans. Maintenance plans are specific tools for getting the job done in a timely and efficient manner. A form of labor that JM2 Webdesigners from Valparaiso Indiana does to help your business grow. Your employees are dedicated to helping your business grow in the real-world. We become employees for you in the virtual world and help them come to the real-world to learn about your products and services for a lot less than you think. In this article we go over everything in our 'Web and Social Media Package'. If you only want search engine optimization (SEO) take the social media away and that's that package. These are designed to be simple and complete to meet every need your business has when doing digital marketing.
Today we had the water turned on for our new office. This sounds like a simple ordeal to have done. The week before as we had it scheduled we found out that it had been seven years since water was on. This raised a flag so we looked over all the pipe by feeling every inch we could see and it was relatively all new with shut offs, etc. We set all the shutoffs to closed so that we could test each section one at a time. When the city turned on we had leak number one and it was in a wall. Five hours later and that was fixed. Water back on and good. Turned on the next shutoff valve and another leak (again in a wall). Repeat this four more times. Have you ever felt overwhelmed with your website, social media, or SEO as we did with our water today? We will go over some ways to ease that feeling so that you can grow your business with today’s article.
Initial thoughts are that paying to be seen and move up will garner you the best engagement and increase in sales. That is not always the case. We have several friends that pay for advertising to grow their business. They are reasonably happy talking with them. At random we listed out our social media maintenance plan contracts and asked them for a number between one and XX. They chose a number and we pulled up the results of that client. We will not be sharing the name of the clients but luckily for our comparison they are in the exact same field. They are located 15 miles away from each other in different towns. Both towns have less than 20,000 people in each town and average within a few hundred dollars the median income according to the last census data.