6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Easy tips to make your emails more effective

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We all use email so much that it can actually eat up all our free time. With our mobiles receiving emails and the Ipad too, you can’t seem to escape from them.

Over the years I have learnt many ways of improving my efficiency. I would like to share some useful tips with you, on how you can improve your emails.

Your email signature.


If you are constantly having to type the ending to all your emails, eg: Regards or Thanks – you can put that into your signature.

Make sure your signature is on all initial emails and that it includes all your relevant contact details. It can be really frustrating when you can’t find a persons phone number and you have loads of their emails.

Your Inbox


I have been to visit many clients who have shown me their Outlook with thousands of emails in the Inbox. That scares me. I have seen Outlook crash when there were simply too many emails in the Inbox. When Outlook crashes it can be very distressing!
It takes a few seconds to create folders and then you can organise your emails and keep your inbox clean. I try to leave only things I have pending in my inbox, when it builds up I find sometime to get things done and it all cleaned up again.

Writing emails


To me this is the area that is most important. Some people are extremely brief in their emails and in their SMS messages, others write whole books. I think a comfortable comprise is needed.
After you have said the usual pleasantries, get straight to the point, and make it extremely clear. Try and say everything you need so that the other person will definitely understand, rather than leave any guessing. Here is an example.

Client emails me, or even worse sends me an SMS:

Hi Julian,
My website isn’t working.
Please fix.


There are a few assumptions here:
1. I know which website he is referring to
2. That I know who he is
3. That I have all his contact details

The more effective way to right this email would be:

Hi Julian,

My website www.domain.com is not working. This page shows an error – www.domain.com/about.htm
Can you please fix this?

John Smith
ABC Limited
Tel: 2000000
Email: john@domain.com
Web: www.domain.com

When you write the email try to think of the questions that may arise from the message you are sending and answer them. 

Another typical example is in arranging meetings:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week?

--
Yes, sure when is best for you?
--
Wednesday or Thursday
--
Ok Wednesday morning?
--
What time?
--
11am
--
Sorry can’t. How about 12?
--
Ok 12 it is. At my office or yours?
--
Mine is better.
--
Ok. Wednesday at 12 at your office.
--
Ok see you then.

That’s 11 messages which could have been done in 3. Lets see:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week, I am free on Wednesday and Thursday morning, except for 11-11.30 on Wednesday. It would be best in my office as I have something to show you.

--
Sure, let’s make it Wednesday at 12 at your office. Ok?
--
Great. See you then.

Summary:


• Be specific
• Be clear
• Try not to leave questions open ended
• Explain what you need to in order to avoid unnecessary questions

These are just a few tips that can help you make your emailing quicker, easier and more effective. Let me know any tips that you use to improve your email efficiency, by commenting below.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.

How following up on leads will frustrate your competitors.

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just before Christmas I realised how effective a long term nurture email newsletter can be.

Last year I purchased some really good photo calendars from Apple, using Iphoto. Whilst doing so I looked around at a few websites to compare pricing, I registered for an offer on a site called Photobox.

This began the continuous and automatic process of sending me regular emails with offers and discounts every 2 weeks. Whilst sometimes they were annoying, often they prompted me to take action, but as I had already bought these calendars and they last a whole year I really didn't need to buy anything else.

So Christmas came round again, I had been receiving these emails for almost a year without making a single purchase. What did I do?
I ordered the new set of calendars from Photobox, they were in mind, they had given me offers, they were my friends...

I also recommended them to some close friends, before even seeing how good they were at their job.

There are many photo printing companies out there, and probably a lot of them are better/cheaper than Photobox, but Photobox had built a relationship with me, and their brand now occupied a space in my mind.

They bothered to keep in touch with me even though I had never spent a penny. Photobox have overcome the number one marketing problem facing small businesses – Follow up.

In surveys of many small business owners and entrepreneurs it was evident that following up with warm leads was the biggest frustration.

The natural thing a business owner does is focus on the immediate sales (hot leads), normally putting aside the nurturing process and therefore allowing leads to go somewhere else.

80% of people who are looking to buy something will do so within the next 2 years.

This means that if someone visits your website or calls your business it is very likely that they buy your product/service, only it may take a lot longer than you would like. It is a difficult and time consuming job to continuously contact these warm leads for 2 years, and very few people can afford to do this manually.

That is where email marketing comes in. Photobox and many other companies have learned the secret powers of email marketing. By setting up well planned, useful emails that get sent automatically to these warm leads continuously and indefinitely you turn a complicated process into an incredibly simple and powerful solution.

Now if these automated emails are customized and sent to specific people (eg. Those who have expressed an interest in a specific product) then the power of these emails is multiplied.

I bought a calendar from Photobox and now I receive offers for related products, that are actually quite enticing. Every time I see one of these emails I am reminded of the power of Email marketing, and how frustrated some of Photobox’s competitors must be. They won my business and my recommendation without me even knowing if they were any good!

Now a question for you - is your business keeping contact with people continuously until they absolutely don't want to know anymore?

Do you have automated systems in place to keep contact and send offers to people that you have never actually met?

Is your website working as hard as it should be?

If not, you may be one of the many website owners that lose out to the competitor who is constantly building a relationship and confidence with their warm leads. Remember the prospect is actually a customer in disguise.

Choosing a good business name

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Names are very important, some people believe that you are defined by your name. There are plently of books which explain the meaning of each name and a lot of parents use these books before naming their children ( I know we did). With a business it is very common to use your own name or something to do with Gibraltar. That can be good but can also mean you get lost in a large array of businesses with similar names. Here are some tips to help you select your business name.

1. Keep it simple.If you company name is too hard to spell, or difficult to pronounce or remember you are making things difficult for yourself. At the beginning it is best to have a simple name that people can remember.


2. Describe what you do.Your name or at least part of it should describe what you do, an easy test is to tell someone the name and ask them if they know what the company does. As in all marketing keeping things simple and clear is the best way. 

3. Choose the right tone.Is your company very corporate and serious? Or youthful and fun? The name should help to set the tone of the work that you do, this helps the right people to identify with the company.

4. Don't limit yourself too much. Although describing what you do in your name is good, it can also limit what you offer in the future, try and choose something that is descriptive but quite open for future business expansion.


5. Sleep on it. Once you have decided a name, sleep on it and look at it freshly the next day. This is a great test for any creative ideas. Having a good rest will help you to look at it from a more neutral point of view.

6. Add something memorable. If your business tone allows you to, you should try to add something a little different. In our case we chose Piranha Designs. Piranha is not something common and is quite unusual, people remember it. The Designs part describes what we do without limiting us to one particular area of design. 

7. Be careful about using your own name. It can be very good to use your own name for the business but you need to try and think long term. Maybe you want to sell the business in the future, or things don't go so well and your name is always associated with the company. It is best to be very sure before connecting yourself in such a powerful way.

There are always exceptions to these rules, that still work incredibly well. Google, Yahoo etc are perfect examples of this. These are just some thoughts and suggestions for smaller businesses, that have proven to be useful. If you have any other ideas or things to add to this list, please let me know, or add a comment below.

Top 10 New Year’s Resolution for Small Business Owners

Clare Earle - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It’s the start of the New Year and millions of people around the world are reflecting on 2011 and are making New Year’s resolutions that will make them better, slimmer or healthier. As a small business owner you can also make a ‘corporate’ new year’s resolution for your business. In our next blog entry, we will share with you what Piranha Designs has promised to achieve in 2012. But now, let me share with you, what I believe, are the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for small business owners:

  1. 1.Support Other Small Businesses

As a small business owner yourself support other small businesses by switching one of your current providers or suppliers to a small business!

  1. 2. Focus on the Growing Mobile Community

It is a known fact that more people are using their mobile phones to surf the internet and that this is a growing trend. You need to make sure that all your online marketing strategies are mobile-friendly. Have you ever tested how easy it is to navigate through your website via a Blackberry, iPhone or Android?

  1. 3. Put yourself on the Map

It is also true that more and more people are using the internet to source out local businesses; so make sure you can be found easily on Google Places, Bing maps, and Yahoo maps.

  1. 4. Share the Workload

As a small business owner your time is precious so reflect on where your time and effort is most fruitful and focus on that! Then pass on all the other tasks (admin tasks, blog updates) to other staff members or consider outsourcing. 

  1. 5. Socialise More

Chose a social network that will be used to market your business, there is a wide selection (blog, facebook, twitter, google+, LinkedIn) so make sure you pick the one that best suits you. If you are already using one of these social networks either commit to utilising it further to promote your business or chose a new network to take full advantage of.

  1. 6. Refresh Your Website

Do not fall into the trap of focusing on your facebook account and neglecting your website. There is no point in having an up-to-date facebook page that leads to an out-dated and inaccurate webpage. Remember to keep the content and look relevant and engaging!

  1. 7. See Your Staff as Your Customers

If you see your staff as your primary customers you will start to praise them and treat them even better than you are now. This will have the knock on effect of having a happier and more motivated workforce which will lead to higher productivity and improved customer service!

  1. 8. Prepare for the Tax Time

Make a commitment to yourself that you will have all the relevant paperwork in an organised fashion at least 3 weeks before the tax deadline; this means that you can avoid the mad rush and stress of getting all the paperwork ready at the last minute.

  1. 9. Socialise in the Real World

Online socialising should not replace real world socialising; instead they should complement each other! You can find very valuable clients or providers by socialising outside of your normal circles. Perhaps attend a conference or join an association. 

  1. 10. Treat Yourself to Some TLC

As a small business owner it is very easy to work yourself too hard and reward yourself too little. So make sure you treat yourself regularly with leaving home early one day or treating yourself to a day at a spa.

Remember to look at our blog over the next few days so that you can find out what Piranha Designs New Year’s resolution is for 2012.  

Talk to your IPhone 4S and see what it can do (Video)

Piranha Designs - Friday, October 21, 2011

Some ways your website loses sales

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Very often website owners seem to look at their own sites and think that they look great and sales are being made. Unfortunately it is quite rare to stop, think and test to see if your site is doing the most it can do. I have visited many clients whose sites seem fine, they look quite smart, the colours are attractive but there are some key elements missing.

No calls to action
Your website needs to encourage people to do something, contact you, fill in a form or take some kind of action.

No clear direction
Is it easy for the users to know where to click, can they get to the key information quickly and easily?

Contact details are difficult to find
Make it simple and obvious so clients can contact you quickly, often people visit websites just to get the phone number.

There is a really interesting study on ecommerce sites and the 10 reasons why websites lose sales, you can read that story here >

We have moved to new offices, wish they were like Google's - VIDEO

Piranha Designs - Saturday, September 03, 2011

4 reasons to use Facebook to promote your business

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Facebook is taking over the internet. It is transforming the way people behave and interact online. Even if you don’t like Facebook or the idea of social media, it is fast becoming a necessity. Here are four reasons why you should consider using Facebook to promote your business.

1. Communication

It can be very difficult and expensive to communicate quickly with your clients and prospects. Maybe you need to print something out, or send emails. With Facebook you can spread a message extremely quickly and totally free. The best thing about it is that your Fans/Friends can also share that with their friends.

2. Awareness

Facebook have an effective and very affordable advertising system. You can specify exactly what type of person you wish to target, their location, age etc. Then you only pay per click, so you know every penny is being spent wisely. This can be a great way to build brand awareness.

3. Listen to customers
Listening to customers is something we all know we should do, but very often don’t find the time to. With Facebook it is easier to encourage feedback and listen to what your customers are saying. As Facebook is a more relaxed environment you may find that customers will actually tell you the truth!

4. Increase sales
If your customers are receiving communication from you, you are listening to them and responding this will, in the long run, have a very positive effect on sales.

There are currently 17,280 facebook members who live in Gibraltar. Are you speaking to them? Or are your competitors?

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