How To Decide Which CMS Is Right For You 

By Steve Hoag

which content management system is right for your business

There are a ton of CMS options out there for your business to use, but only a few are ideal. It’s important to ask yourself some key questions when deciding which CMS to implement. The answers you give will help to evaluate your options and come to a decision.

How much do I want to pay for my CMS?

This is a very important question because it immediately eliminates many options. Take a look at your budget and determine how much you want/can pay for a CMS. Also, keep in mind that even if there’s room in your budget for a paid option, there are many awesome open-source solutions like MojoPortal, Joomla!, etc. It’s important to remember that if you don’t have an in-house designer/developer, you will also need to allocate money for web design or content migration. Choosing a CMS is only part of the website puzzle.

How many customization options are there?

Another key question is what sort of customization capabilities a CMS has. More customization is always good, but it doesn’t really matter if you won’t need it. Focus on what you need, like crucial add-ons. For instance, e-commerce store integration, or blog/newsletter add-ons. Make a list of all the customization options you will need and then evaluate your options based on that.

Is the solution scalable?

An important factor to consider when choosing a CMS is how scalable it is. Scalability refers to a website’s ability to grow with a business. You will eventually need to invest in a new CMS if your current website management system doesn’t scale very well. It’s important to think long term as well as short term, and find the best trade-off for your business.

How user/novice friendly is the CMS?

User/novice friendliness is crucial if you will be managing your website in-house. It’s even more important if you know that you don’t have any experience with that CMS and need to adjust to it. On the other hand, if you are outsourcing your website management to a development firm, this may not be as big of an issue.

What sort of support options are there?

Customer support is critical in any product. A lot of CMS options out there like WordPress and Drupal have tons of community support available. If you are dealing with another lesser-known option, make sure that the company has great support plans or documentation. It will save you a lot of headaches in the long run!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, January 30, 2014 7:53:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development

Web Designers: How to Turn LinkedIn Into A Lead Generator 

By Steve Hoag

digital marketing

Social media is here to stay. Since initial offerings like MySpace, it has captured the minds and attention of the world. Businesses are still only touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential this platform has to offer. There are a variety of social networks available now, but it’s important to focus on the ones that matter to your business. For many businesses that boils down to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In this blog post we are going to focus on how to leverage LinkedIn and turn it into a reliable lead generator for your web design business. Here’s a quick rundown:

Make sure your personal and company profiles are fully developed.

Nothing says credibility on social media like a fully developed personal and company profile. It’s all about the little things like a professional profile photo, detailed work history, recommendations etc. Be sure to post links to your website on both profiles, as well as examples of portfolio work. Make it easy for people to trust you! You will be surprised how far dotting all your I’s will go.

Join groups relevant to your profession AND your target segment’s business.

Getting your brand in front of the right eyes requires a two-fold strategy on LinkedIn. You need to improve your standing among your peers, and get active where your target customers are. To start, join web design and development groups. If you are a freelancer, join freelance designer groups etc. Next, figure out where your target customer segment is active. Are they small businesses or enterprise? Tech or retail? Create a customer profile to truly understand your target, and then join groups where key decision makers are active. For instance, if you realize that you need to go after a CIO in a company, check out his/her profile and groups and start contributing in those!

Stay top of mind in yours newsfeed and groups.

The most important part of turning LinkedIn into a lead generator is staying top of mind. People forget about each other fairly quickly online, so the only way to combat that is by remaining active. Be proactive in connecting with people and networking. Scan your newsfeed every day and congratulate people for new jobs, anniversaries, great articles etc. Making others feel valued goes a long way on social media! The same goes for groups that you are involved in. Post questions, share articles, and comment on discussions. People seeing you continually add value to conversations will begin to think of you as a thought leader. Becoming a thought leader is the ultimate goal of social media because it makes everything else come easier. The people you interact with online may not need a web designer at that exact moment, but they will come back to you when they do if you cement yourself as a thought leader!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, January 29, 2014 8:50:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise retail marketing SMB social media marketing web design web development

Three of the Best Free Social Media Tools Today 

By Steve Hoag

free social media tools

 

There are a bunch of great tools out there for social media that you have to pay for. There are also some awesome tools that won’t cost you a dime. For a lot of SMBs, there isn’t really a ton of wiggle room in the budget for social media tools. For that reason, it’s important to take advantage of all the freebies on the web. For example:

HootSuite

HootSuite is to social media tools as Google is to search engines. It’s the industry leader, hugely popular, and packed with features. It’s also a freemium product, where you get a lot of the features in the free version, but can pay extra if you want more advanced tools. HootSuite allows you to simultaneously post from multiple accounts, schedule posts, create custom searches and reports, and much more! It’s very effective at displaying all of your social media feeds in a concise and intuitive manner. Give it a try today if you haven’t already, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything.

Bit.ly

You need to use a service like bit.ly if blogging and sharing dynamic content is an important part of your social media presence. This service allows you to shorten URLs, which is great for networks like Twitter. The real benefit though is that it tracks clickthroughs. This will help your marketing team see what types of content are performing the best, at which times, and in what region. It’s an incredible amount of insight for a free tool.

Klout

Klout was the new kid on the block not too long ago, but has since become a mainstay in the social media world. It is the first major effort at creating platform that measures influence across social platforms. And frankly, it’s done a pretty good job! The Klout team is also continuously revising its algorithm so it keeps getting more accurate. There are a bunch of cool features like who your top influencers are, and who you influence the most. If you want to create promotional campaigns Klout has ‘Perks’ which are deals that companies can offer to thought leaders in a certain industry to create buzz about their company. For instance, a $30 gift card to Starbucks in exchange for tweeting about a new coffee drink. Klout is also integrated with other services like HootSuite, quickly cementing its status on social media.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:31:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SMB social media social media marketing

Why Every Company Needs To Make SEO A Priority 

By Steve Hoag

making SEO a priority

A strong online presence is an absolute must in today’s business world. People are using the Internet to find products they want to buy, not the Yellow Pages. There are a variety of marketing tools to get your name out there, but one of the best ones is SEO. Search Engine Optimization focuses on maximizing your rankings in major search engines like Google and Bing. So why do you need to make this a priority?

SEO improves ORGANIC search rankings, so you don’t have to spend as much on paid advertising.

Organic search rankings are the results that appear whenever you type a keyword into Google that aren’t paid ads. Your organic search rankings are absolutely free; you aren’t paying Google or Yahoo to place you that high. They are doing so because of your strong SEO. By building strong advertising you are able to forgo other options like Google Ads, which can run fairly expensive based on your budget. In the long term organic search is much more beneficial for your company, since most consumers use those results.

SEO improves brand awareness and recognition

SEO isn’t just about click throughs. It’s about getting your company name in front of consumers. Even if they don’t click on your website, they will have been exposed to your name and brand. Over time, this can greatly increase awareness and recognition. This is especially true if you build a strong SEO program and consistently appear on the first few pages, where most of the impressions are.

SEO improves brand credibility.

Besides improving awareness, a strong SEO program can improve the credibility of your brand. The higher you appear in rankings, the more consumers will trust you. Who do you think you would trust more: a company that appears on the 1st page of results, or one that is on the 30th page? Probably the former.

SEO can build traffic, leads, and sales.

Once you get down to brass tacks, SEO is all about creating more traffic. A strong search engine ranking means more click throughs, which your sales and marketing team can turn into leads and sales. SEO is critical if you depend on e-commerce, or if your online presence is important to your business. Keep in mind, SEO is not an overnight success. You need to stay persistent, and eventually results will come.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, January 22, 2014 7:00:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SEO SMB web development website

Three Questions Every Designer Should Answer Before Taking A New Client 

By Steve Hoag

questions every designer should answer

New projects are awesome. They mean more sales revenue, connections, and a bigger portfolio. That doesn’t mean you should take every project though! It’s important to focus on the ones that are a great fit for your business, and ignore the ones that may be more trouble than they’re worth. You should always ask the following three questions before undertaking a new project:

Does this project fall into the same scope of work I’ve done before for previous clients?

This is a really important question to think about. Do you already have the skills/experience needed to provide an excellent finished product? Will you have to learn anything new to complete the project objectives? You should make a rubric or checklist so that you can easily ascertain how good of a fit a project will be for your business. The point is, you always want to be able to guarantee high quality work, with little to no delays. If there is an aspect of this project that you can tell could create problems, you should either consult with the client, or move on to another project. You don’t want to have any party frustrated/dissatisfied during the design process.

Can this client pay for your work in a timely fashion?

The only way to maintain a profitable business is by guaranteeing steady cash flow. The best way to do that is to minimize your accounts receivable, and taking clients that you know can pay for your time. If you are having any doubts, go over this with the client before starting work, or move on. Your design business isn’t non-profit after all.

Is this a one-time project, or can this client be retained for ongoing work and future business?

Any client that can be retained for long-term design work is extremely valuable. Besides minimizing cash flow volatility, ongoing work can create a relationship. You can leverage this to get more projects with your client’s connections. Word of mouth is a powerful thing! That being said, don’t forgo a one-time project for an ongoing one if it’s a huge contract, or with a great corporation to add to your portfolio. Always do a cost-benefit analysis so you can make an informed decision!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, January 22, 2014 1:31:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design
Page 6 of 16 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>