Conversion Rate Optimisation Tutorial

As a part of our internet marketing strategy, Hopping Mad Designs offers CRO services to help drive those customers who have landed on your website through the buying process. We design our clients websites so that they are sticky and funnel consumers down the buying / inquiry path till you make that sale. We constantly monitor this through A/B testing, analytics, small design amends and refine on a continual basis, so long as sales are climbing.

Our CRO specialist know that conversion rate optimization and SEO should be the two core foundations of your overall online marketing strategy. Without converting these customers, there is only browsers and this IS NOT GOOD BUSINESS. Think about a retail shop, it’s no point staying open if the foot traffic is not buying from you. They have to love the shop and enjoy the experience of being there. This is exactly the same as the online environment.

So What do We do for your CRO?

Lots of Research
CRO is the technique of looking at what your customers are doing online. Where are they browsing and what are they looking for. Who are your competitors, how well are they doing and what does their main landing pages look like. To be better than the next person and to get that online business you need to offer something different. Your site must give the browser and alternative experience if you are going to be competitive in this space. This is why research and lots of it are so vital and the first step in the CRO process.

We also need to research your current date. We need to see what’s currently going on with your bounce rates, traffic numbers and metrics. We do all this through studying your Google analytics and from there we can start to implement changes based on the data provided. It does sound dry and boring but this is an essential component of any successful CRO strategy. That is, we need to know why it’s not working and use this as a base for moving forward. The more data we have at our disposal, the better our CRO professionals at Hopping Mad Designs can start to funnel traffic into actual customer conversions. In some cases it might be a very simple fix like making the phone number more prominent, pricing, images or placing the inquiry from higher up the page. In others, it may be a total web overhaul.

Web Design, Development and the User Experience.

The consumer process is a simple one when it comes to anything online. They do their research, the browse many different websites and then ultimately make the decision to buy. Again, like the retail shop in a centre. They park the car, look around and then they buy. The trick here is to make them stop at your site, take a look around and stay long enough so they buy from you. You DO NOT want them to leave your site and this is the core principle of CRO and only a web agency with significant conversion experience can facilitate this. It is not as easy as it looks and it takes years of trial and erroe to get it right – that’s why it’s paramount to the success of your online venture to use a experienced web agency that will look at all ( even the smallest details) to improve conversions. Website failures are common – just don't let it happen to you.

Colors – are there too many flashy colours – and do they clash with your branding. Your site must have harmony in everything and this includes the colours. Any variation will dilute your brand and will result in lower conversions.
Scope. Is your site too large? Is it confusing? Do people get easily lost? If so you may need to look at trimming the number of pages and focusing on those that matter. Never ending large sites are a turn off and your customer who may be tempted to buy will simply hit the exit button.

Did the site take longer than 3-4 seconds to load? Is each page a nightmare to open? Well this is one on the biggest killers of conversions and must be addresses immediately. slow laborious websites are not fun, so instead watch your customers desert you – do something about it.

Are there weird fonts on the home page? Do you have multiple fonts on the same page? If so, dlete these ASAP – the site MUST be easy to read – this is rule #1 – how are they going to buy from you if they can’t read anything?
What does the layout look like? is it all over the place? Complicated sites without any thought put into the layout are not going to funnel those important browsers into loyal, paying customers.
What do the ‘call to action’ buttons look like? Are they shaped differently, are they easy to find and do they make you want to click on them?

Proximity (grouping related elements on the page)
What types of questions are you asking when you make someone fill out a form? Are there too many questions requiring too much detail? And, do you make users sign up as a mandatory right before they are prepared to hit the buy now button. This will help improve sales buy reducing what is termed shopping cart abandonment. You know what I mean. How much do you hate it when they make you fill out a form to buy something. Customers need to be give the option of NOT having to sign up to anything. It looks dodgy and makes you look like you are going to use the information provided to bombard them with spam emails later on.

Where are the testimonials on the site? Make sure they are legitimate and not fake – they will be easy to spot and kill your credibility.

Are their any videos? If so what do they look like and what is the information presented and who is doing the presenting? I have seen some shockers in the past and poor home made videos can really zap consumer confidence.

The end game for any business is making the sale and in regards to your website it is the conversion. If you want Hopping Mad Designs handle your CRO we will be able to reduce web bounce rates and in turn give your bottom line a MASSIVE boost.

Keep on Trying and Testing

As firm believer in the benefits of CRO, we make sure that we are constantly looking at your website for ways of improvement. I tell all my client’s that the web and online landscape is forever shifting. It is constantly evolving and changing. Sure, you can make some changes and sit on them for a while but eventually you are going to have to look at that page and see if there are ways you can improve on it. It’s really important to note that some changes can have a negative impact so it’s wise to be on top of this by measuring bounce rates through your analytics on a weekly basis. If you see bounce rates go up – you need to take action.

It’s important to note here that we like to work with our client’s on a continual basis. Because testing and refining the designs for maximum conversions are done on a continual basis, we like to take things slowly and look at each main page 1 at a time. This means you are in a way in it for the long haul – like SEO, CRO should be part of the marketing mix, so there should be a plan and budget put in place for any business. It really depends on you. We may decide to spend say 5-10 hours per month tweaking your site or for larger sites we may look at more design and development hours. I am more than happy to discuss budgets and goals with you anytime.

Monthly Reporting
Let’s say you engage Hopping Mad Designs to work on your CRO and you start to see immediate results. We will at the end of every month, tell you exactly what we have done and the methods used. If we are also doing your SEO, we will clearly outline the percentage increase in the number of site visits and the reduction in bounce rates. We will see in the reports how a combined strategy of SEO and CRO working together are drastically helping you improve sales and overall inquiries.


How Much Does it Cost to Design a New Website?

For some businesses having a ‘same as’ style for their online presence is fine and they are happy to live with this. Others, who may be in a more competitive industry and need to be competitive online may require a more complex design process, hence the cost.

Dangers of Using Cheap Web Template Design Agencies.

There are many web companies that you can find online that are happy to charge you next to nothing for their services are actually not being 100% truthful and open with you. Following are some hidden dangers when using a cheap web template.

1) Firstly, your website is going to look like every other website online. There is no individuality and no personality within the designs. In fact, it will be very hard to tell your website from the millions of other templates out there. Really, is this what you want for your business? If you are happy to be a clone then go for it….otherwise get an agency like Hopping Mad Designs to come up with a website that is going to make you look special.

2) Is your website going to be used as a platform to drive new business? If so, then it needs to be ranking on Google and for this to happen you MUST have some planning and thought put into your web site design process. Going down the template path IS NOT going to be the best option when it comes to your SEO Google rankings. This is so very IMPORTANT and critical for your business. So if you think you can go ahead and pay next to nothing for a website; that is less than a couple of hundred dollars, you can forget about ranking on Google.

3) Most of these templates have been built by companies using their own content management system platforms. This means that once the site goes live, you have to use their hosting for the life of the website. PLUS, you may be restricted with the amount of changes you can make. Be really careful with this as many web agencies will quote SUPER LOW prices to get you through the door, but all the future adds they slug you with is where they make their money. It’s a common trap and I see so many companies get ripped off in tis fashion.  Make sure that if you get any type of website developed that you go with an open source CMS platform like WordPress or Joomla. For more complex sites give Magento a try.

There is nothing worse than being stuck with a web agency cause you have to use their software, CMS, hosting etc. You do need flexibility in business and being trapped by a web agency is not a good move.

4) Is your website conversion focused? That is, does is entice potential browsers to become paying clients. Time poor users will not give your site a second look if there is the slightest confusion or road blocks in the buying process. This is especially true for those eCommerce websites. People want clear direction and simple user interfaces. Cheap templates will not provide this and sure you might save a few dollars in the beginning, but as soon as you realise that your site is not functioning properly, the costs will all add up when you have to re do everything again!

So What is a Fair Price to Pay for a New Website?

Ideally basic brochure websites can cost any where between $1500 and the $3000 mark. If you think about your business as a brochure and converting it to a web format, then this is what you would be getting. There would be about 10- pages and the design should be customised based on your design requirements.

If you want a website with a bit more complexity that has a gallery, some animating banners on the home page with some forms to capture clients information, you should be paying around $3500 – $5000 for a website like this.

All the above sites are mobile friendly.

That basically covers off most of the business to business market website costs. Anything beyond this and anything with more site complexities need to be fully scoped out at web briefing stage and this needs to be fully costed. I speak to many people who at this stage think that they can outsource these complex style websites to India where development costs are a lot cheaper – all I can say is good luck to them.

I have to be really honest here. At one point in time many years ago we did outsource 1 (internal HMD) web project out to India and it was an absolute nightmare. Remember we do this stuff all the time and we know what pitfalls to look out for and ways to avoid them. And even for us it was a hellish experience.

I know technologies have improved and the way that business is conducted has got a lot more streamlined and that offshore web agencies will swear that they have fixed all the bugs in their systems. BUT, whilst this may be the case, how come I still get calls and emails from people who to this very day have used offshore cheap web companies and feel completely frustrated. When I ask them what happened it goes something like this:

  • designs were absolute garbage
  • communication was poor
  • excuses were made daily as to why things were not getting done and when they were eventually done they were wrong.
  • The website when it went live was riddled with faults and bugs
  • ….the list goes on and on……..

So in summation all I can say is that if you have the patience of a saint and are prepared to offshore your web design, be prepared for the long hard road ahead. Nothing that is done cheaply and this goes for the online world can have a positive outcome. There will be many website design mistakes. Sure, they may throw millions of testimonials at you but I can promise you 1 thing, you will end up paying for this dearly in the short to medium term. If you want a website that will work for you and act as a great sales and marketing mouth piece then you need to be speaking with us here at Hopping Mad Designs.

Hopping Mad Design Reviews 2014 Trends

Let Hopping Mad Designs Review what has shifted in the SEO Landscape.

As a reviewer of the shifting sands of the Google and the world known as SEO, Hopping Mad Designs has seen businesses gain a clearer and more thorough understanding of what it takes to rank a website on Google. Businesses have now over the past couple of years come to terms with the fact that they do need Search engine optimisation if they are going to drive new business. They have unfortunately been burnt so badly over the past say 5 years that this year has been a real wake up call. Most companies now, (and this is the really important trend that I need to review), know that SEO is not a game and they must align themselves with a credible SEO and web agency like Hopping Mad Designs.

I really feel that the game playing when it comes to SEO costs, and all the to and fro between us and the business is slowly coming to an end. And I have see this happen more and more this year in 2014. Why? Cause they know that they have to pay for SEO. It’s like someone has magically lifted the blind folds off the public and they now are acutely aware and have an inherent value placed on the services that a great SEO campaign can produce for their business.

The amount of phone calls that I get from people who tell me that their previous SEO company charged them X dollars so they want to see if I can match that, is definitely dwindling. In fact, most people now have a very realistic set aside budget for their internet marketing.

Now Have Hopping Mad Designs Review the Web Design Industry in 2014.

This industry I feel has become much more homogenised. OK, so what do I mean by this? Well put simply, pre packaged themes from WordPress; like Theme Forest as well as free websites like Wix have made access for businesses to get online much easier and simpler. If they have the know how and if they have the ability and skill they can easily get a website for their business and be online quickly.

This has had a mixed reaction to the team to the team at Hopping Mad Designs. Why? Because, people have jumped on the bandwagon thinking that this is a great idea and can facilitate their product to market so much easier, but there are real issues with this and we are always the ones who have to pick up the pieces. These sites may be great and very cheap but unfortunately you will look like everyone else out there online. Plus there is no SEO or planning behind this. You will get a basic template and that’s about it.

As a review of websites in 2014 by hopping Mad Designs, this part of the web industry has absolutely skyrocketed. It has gone ballistic and I can only sit by and watch this trend like most others, slowly burn out and crash. It is inevitable as businesses realise that to have any chance of succeeding online and to be competitive you have to have a website that is tailor made for your business, not some off the rack, take it or leave it product. This might be OK for some fly by night start ups who are only online to test the market space. But, for legitimate businesses looking to gain a strong foothold and establish themselves as a real player these free websites are just a fad. This is a real prediction by this industry veteran reviewer at Hopping Mad Designs. It just can’t last and in my opinion is totally unsustainable.

Hopping Mad Designs Reviews the Social Media Landscape in 2014.

If you could overkill any platform with content and fluff it would have to be the social media landscape. Let me give you an example. I posted an article on LinkedIn at 10 am and by midday it was so far deep within all the articles posted that it was lost. Social Media has become the real buzz word of 2014 and every business I know wants a piece of the action. As long as they seem to be doing something active in this space they are happy. Unfortunately, the popularity of Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn means that only really active publishers and well known brands are having any impact. SME’s with little or no time for publishing streams of content are finding that they are not gaining the kind of traction they had hoped for on these platforms. Yes they might post a tweet here and there and they also might put something on their Facebook page, but unless there is a concerted effort with a real strategy in place, most of their efforts are falling flat. So what does this mean for social media moving forward. If Hopping Mad Designs were to review the future of social media I would say that businesses need to become a hell of a lot more serious in their approach to this. Maybe even working with an agency that can actively manage these platforms. Ad hoc posts just won’t cut it anymore in this very cluttered and noisy environment.

Online Review Websites in 2014 Have Hurt Businesses in the opinion of the Hopping Mad Designs Director.

Disgruntled employees, business rivals, angry staff, tarnished family members, I don’t care who it is or where they are from, but the online review market has exploded and businesses are getting smashed. There are so many malicious fake web comments and reviews out there online that I feel that people are starting to wake up and ignore most of them. Anyone can publish something nasty within 5 minutes and the effects can be lasting. This has given rise to a new industry called online reputation management and Hopping Mad Designs reviews this as a real growth area in 2014. The trend for companies Australia wide to protect their online image and reputation is more important than ever with the rise of dodgy review sites. Stay tuned in 2015 as this is going to really heat up!

Content Marketing in 2014, WOW, it’s the real buzzwords

Google has made content publication key to getting your website ranked and SEO. Google will place much more value on websites now that have spent the time and effort to publish fresh, new, authoritative copy. The trend in 2014 was for businesses to really get their heads around this and begin to publish content designed for their customer base and not random snippets of information designed strictly for SEO and manipulating their SEO ranking. You have read it over the years that content is king and my review of 2014 going forward, is that this is going to become much more important.

HoppingMad Designs Review of 2014 Summary.

There is a close correlation now between all facets of the online space. Like a jigsaw puzzle all pieces need to fit together nicely if your are going to get the full picture. Miss out on even 1 small piece of the puzzle and the whole frame will be spoilt. Just like the internet space, if you miss one critical piece of your marketing this will have a real negative impact on your business. The internet space is evolving so quickly that keeping pace with it is almost a full time job. For businesses and companies Australia wide the ramifications are enormous. Finding the right web, seo, content marketing and social media company should now be very high on their priority list.

Mistakes Businesses Make When Launching a New Website

Make sure You Have 301 Redirects In Place.

Let’s assume for 1 minute that you are really concerned about your search engine rankings. Launching a new website is therefore an important decision and if you are wanting to keep and grow your organic rankings then you need to pass the authority from your old website to the new one. This requires your developer to implement what is called 301 redirects. What this means is that when someone clicks on your old web page ( that has previously been indexed and ranked by Google), they will be immediately redirected to the new webs page.

Make sure that your inner deeper web pages within your site redirect to the same pages within the new site, so that relevant SEO authority can be passed. This will also help your customers find what they are looking for. Let me elaborate on this as this point can be a bit tricky. Let’s assume you are a lawyer and you offer a range of services. What a 301 redirect means is that the service page for say divorce law on the old site will redirect to the divorce law web page on the new site. This ensures that anyone who is looking for a divorce lawyer online and they come across your old web page, they will immediately be redirected to the new more relevant page.

301’s are a critical component of the new website launch and it MUST be handled by people who know what they are doing. If you stuff this part up, expect to loose serious Google rankings. This is 100% guaranteed.


Make Sure the New Titles and Descriptions are the Same

Without going into too much detail, your web titles and descriptions are what is displayed on Google on the search results. Your title is what Google reads and the description is there for your customers. If you are really happy with they way they are then make sure your new website has had these copied over. Alternatively, now would be the best time to revise these for a better customer experience and SEO ranking. A good tip here is too see what your competition has and learn from what the industry leader and top ranking sites are writing.


Is Your Hosting the Same?

Some web agencies will insist that you use their hosting servers. This is fine but make sure that you have the appropriate bandwidth to hand web traffic. In the case of some eCommerce sites, new hosting platforms may not be able to cope with the amount of traffic and this in turn will result in your site going down. In critical busy periods this is NOT on as it can result in lost revenues. PLUS excessive down times can result in ranking fluctuations which is not ideal for your business. So the rule of thumb here is to make sure your new website has a robust hosting platform, preferably in Australia that is going to be able to handle your traffic, and if there are any issues they are able to fix problems quickly.


What Size Images are there and how’s the overall Website Speed.

New websites equal new images and it’s important that all the images are optimised for site speed. There are a multitude of sites out there that can help you with this but we use the Google free site speed checker. Before your site goes live run this exercise and try to clean up any mess that Google picks up here. Remember slow websites with large images are really bad for SEO and will kill the customer experience. Personally, I hate it when sites takes forever to load so please what ever you do, don’t ignore this point.


Take off the ‘No Follow’ once site goes live.

I am still amazed by developers ( not ours thankfully) that leave the ‘no follow’ code on the new website. This code tells Google not to index your website. Can you imagine how you are going to feel after a few weeks when your new website is no being indexed by Google and you have lost all your rankings. It’s a bloody nightmare and all it takes is one simple slip up by your developers. Make sure this does not happen!


Where are your links going??

This will take time but you have to be certain that all the internal links within your site have been transferred over to the new site. If you are a keen blogger this may take a while so plan ahead and make sure that all links are active and don’t point to inactive URL’s.

Does Your New Website have a SiteMap?

No brainer and not much explanation needed here, except to say that a site map of your website should be in the footer. This will make it easier for Google to trawl, index and rank web pages, which is important for your marketing.

Have your Revised your Web Content?

Your website copy needs to be changed frequently. Appearing fresh and current with brand new copy is going to make a huge difference to the way your customers perceive you and the whole shopping or inquiry experience. Out dated copy in these competitive online times is JUST NOT ON, so put the effort in, get it written professionally. Think of it as an investment in your marketing. Web content that is conversion focused can mean the difference between making that sale or not.

Make sure all your Social Media Buttons are Clear and Visible.

Hidden social media icons buried somewhere on your new site is not a good way to promote your business. Your social media buttons need to be easily accessed for the consumer – don’t forget about this when launching your new website. Another component of your website that needs to be highlighted are you main calls to action or selling points. These include:

  • blog btton
  • easy to read phone number right at the top of the page
  • do you deliver Australia wide – then tell people about this!
  • Make an inquiry form visible and easy to use.
  • Any unique selling point you have high up above the fold on the home page


What NOT to do if your Website has been Penalised By Google

NEVER Try To SEO Your Website Out Of This Penalty

Many SEO companies who have little or no idea about SEO (probably cause they got you into this position to begin with) are going to say: ‘ignore this penalty and keep on back linking and doing what we have been doing in the past’. This is WRONG and certainly not what you should be doing. Like running with a broken bone, you don’t continue to run. You need to stop everything, diagnose the issue and try to repair it before you continue. A Google penalty is triggered because something is either non compliant on your website or there has been some non compliant activity happening behind the scenes. What needs to happen is to implement a complete website wide audit and diagnose any issues that could have caused this penalty. Moving forward, one needs to get into their WMT Google account and check for any correspondence. Google will tell you that your site has been penalised. After the audit has been completed you should have a clearer idea of the path needed to rectify the situation. Again, and I ill repeat what I have already stated. Ignoring the problem and continuing on your old SEO ways is the true recipe for a BAD OUTCOME.  You are in a penalty because you have done something wrong in your SEO efforts.

NEVER Continue to Build Back Links On A Penalized WebSite

It is insane the number of SEO agencies out there online saying that they are able to help you recover from a Google Penalty. They disguise these websites under the guise of Google Penalty Help or Panda Penalty Recovery or even Penguin Update Agency. These guys are out there and are happy to prey on poor businesses who have no idea about what’s happening or what they need to do. All they know is that they trusted their SEO company in the past and this is the end result. The spin, lies and utter bullshit that’s spun to businesses who have suffered the horror of a penalty is mind boggling. And it’s happening all the time.

One thing that you should NEVER EVER do is to trust any dodgy SEO company that is touting their penalty recovery services via Adwords or ads on other websites. This is a trap a con and is only going to make matters a hell of a lot worse.

All these guys are going to do is to continue link building, which is precisely the issue that got you penalised in the first place. Like rubbing and open wound, don’t expect it to heal.  These penalties require serious attention and action to mitigate any further damage. So, don’t fall victim to these scams and stay well away from businesses offering their help through ads. If they mention further link building, hang up the phone or delete the email. There are just too many SEO sharks out there to trust when it comes to helping you get out of this situation. PLUS please note – if you go into your webmaster tools they are going to tell you that there are far too many unnatural links, so why would anyone in their right mind continue to build more – simple doesn’t make sense.


Do Not Aggravate or Inflame the Situation – Be Best Buddies (and I know its hard) With The SEO Team That Got You Penalized

9 out of 10 penalties have been triggered or are the responsibility of some poor SEO work by your provider. The temptation I know is to read them the riot act and blast the hell out of them, but it is vital that you keep your cool, remain calm and take a steady even handed approach. Don’t get nasty with your SEO company as they may not want to help you. First things first and this is a real important point. GET THEM TO CEASE ALL SEO WORK. Email them, call them, but they have to stop link building. This is a priority and must happen the day you see the penalty. Because you are polite and have been cool headed in your approach to what could be a heated situation, these guys are more than likely going to want to be as helpful as possible. Make sure you also ask them to eliminate all links they have built for you and provide proof of this in a document. You will need this later on when you apply for a re inclusion request to Google. They will want to see that an effort has been made to get rid of these links. This is why the SEO team you have been using has to be on your side. Offensive, aggressive behaviour will only inflame the situation. You do need their help at this early stage so be very careful not to sully the relationship.

Do Not Email Google and File A Reconsideration Request on The First Day

Your request for reconsideration is what you email Google when you feel that you have done everything possible to correct the situation. It is essentially a compliance issue and any type of contact should only be made to Google if you are 100% confident that you have done everything in your power to be compliant. This includes getting rid of each and every back link created. This can and in most cases take a long time to accomplish, so whatever you do don’t rush right in and contact Google. Expect no mercy no matter how long your passionate email is. Even if this isn’t your fault, it won’t make the slightest difference. In the eyes of Google, you are wrong and to have that nasty penalty removed is going to be your responsibility. Constant emails to Google are also a fruitless exercise. Only be in touch with them once each and every dodgy over optimised back link has been terminated. This is not a quick process and it may take 2 weeks to a month in some cases for Google to get back to you with a reply.

Do Not Stay With the Same SEO Company

This may seem like a no brainer but it amazes me the amount of businesses who keep on coming back for more punishment. They will stay with the same seo company out of loyalty  (this is insane and I can't ever get my head around this). Once your SEO company has tried to get rid of the back links and done everything in their power to do this and proved this to you, then its time to part ways politely. I will add a caveat here. If your website has been penalised cause you have been hacked, then it’s not the fault of your current SEO team. Let them go on and disavow these links and manage the penalty process for you.

If on the other hand, it’s clearly the fault of the current team try to find an agency that is not going to get you into this situation again. This is harder than it looks BUT a good first port of call could be the SEO team here at Hopping Mad Designs.

What other things can I do to improve my website and online traffic ?

A Bit of Social Media Marketing

How many times have you been told to start a Facebook page, Twitter account or register your business name on Instagram. If never, then you are in trouble, cause I am here to tell you that having an active role in the social media space is something that is going to be critical to the success of your business. Sure, having a website is fine and it’s great that it’s ranking on Google. But, this is only 1 medium. The social media sphere is absolutely huge and actively participating in this space will elevate your brand, capture a whole new audience and most likely then result in increased website traffic.

All successful BIG brands are regularly posting, tweeting and taking photos of products and throwing them out there on Instagram for the world to see. If you do not happen to be aware of this, I strongly urge you to do a bit of research and start looking at what the big players are doing on these social media platforms. I can tell you one thing for sure. You are going to be absolutely blown away by what’s going on. I personally love Instagram. It’s that easy to use that all businesses no matter the size or industry NEED to start participating and I MEAN NOW!

One point to note, if you are going to commit to a social media strategy then make sure you do it on a regular basis. You might actually enjoy doing this – you might even surprise yourself.

Don’t Forget About a Newsletter

I know this might be a bit boring and a tiny bit old school, but you will be amazed by what a newsletter can do to drive up web traffic numbers. I know I get smashed with ‘spammy’ newsletters all the time and I absolutely hate them. But, if your customer base has agreed to signing up to your newsletter, then go on and actively communicate with them. It doesn’t matter if they see it only for a couple of seconds before they hit the delete button. The important point here is that your brand is getting reinforced in the mind of the consumer.

Ideally, newsletters need to be emailed out as a HTML email, so make sure the message is clear and that the graphics are bold. Your customers are only going to give you a couple of seconds so make sure you hit them with the wow factor. Big graphics, clean large images and catchy text are what works – trust me on this.

Some Online Directories Are Still a Good Idea

If you have never signed up with Google places – THEN DO SO ASAP! If you Google any business you can see their expanded description on the right hand side. This is a great marketing tool and this can only happen if your business has signed up to Google places.

Other online directories are also a pretty good idea but don’t go overboard by registering your website with a thousand directories. This may seem like a good idea BUT can this type of marketing will only land you in hot water with Google as it is perceived as trying to manipulate rank. Just register your business with a few of the most common directories like Yellow Pages and True Local….ONLY if it is free – never pay to be on these as they should be only used as a reference for your location. Paying to be at the top of these directories is unnecessary as they do not get much web traffic. The process to register is only for SEO and Google purposes.

Ditch the Clutter on Your Website.

Have you noticed that the really cool looking website are the ones with the least amount of clutter and information. These classic looking web pages are minimal in design and devoid of flashy colours, adverts or too many graphical elements. If you look at your website and you can see the over use of text and images – then I would be speaking with your web team for a spring clean up. It’s never to late to do this and you may be surprised by the impact this can have on your client conversion rates.

Are there Testimonials on Your Website?

This is a no brainer. The more testimonials you have on your website the better. It reinforces to what can sometimes be a sceptical public your credibility in getting the job done. Go one step further an add a video testimonial – this is a winner and will bring in the business.

Blog On and Keep on Blogging

The very best way to get more consumers is to help them with their questions. The public is forever searching online for answers to particular questions and blogging is a great way to satisfy this appetite. Just have a look at the Hoping Mad blog and you can see how many varied topics I am covering. All the big names are out there content marketing and blogging, it’s just the way it is now and if you are wondering why you’re not getting the kind of results you were hoping for online, then blogging is a great solution to this dilemma. Everyone is mouthing off about how content is king and the reality is – it’s TRUE.

Which SEO Company are you Working with?

This is the BIG kahuna of why you might not be getting any sales. Why? Cause your SEO company could be completely useless and this may have an impact on why people simply cannot find you online. I know of too many people and businesses that have landed up using the less than, how shall I phrase this, ‘so called credible SEO suppliers’ and the end results are hideous. Learn who the good guys are in SEO and try to team yup with them – this is not an easy exercise so if you are unclear why not try our SEO services and see what a difference we can make to your online inquiry rate. I am not saying this as a point of self promotion, I am saying this because I sincerely believe that we know what we are doing when it comes to search engine optimisation and internet marketing.

Looking for the Cheapest Web Design Quote

I totally appreciate the fact that you want to save a dollar here and there for your business. Getting suppliers to take their costs down is a great idea BUT seriously folks, when it comes to your website design and internet marketing DON’T get fooled by the cheaper options. There are heaps of those cheap web package design agencies to choose from where they will bundle everything up for you in 1 very low price. They might even throw in free web hosting and some SEO, BUT this is all a camouflage to get you to sign up to a web deal where they just use the same old template, without any original; thought and attempt to pass this off as design. These web companies are probably (and I can say this confidently from over 20 years experience in this industry) the worst option you could go with.
Why are they so bad?

Cause online nowadays, you have to be better, more original, much more creative, and rank higher on Google than the next guy if you are going to have any hope of generating any new leads. So, ask yourself this question: how is a stock standard, completely over used template going to separate my business from all the others?  The simple answer is it wont! What will happen is that you will get all excited about paying next to nothing about a website and think that it will bring in all this new business but the reality is nothing is going to happen.

Not only will you get a crappy looking site that may have a few bells and whistles but you are never going to have any hope of ranking on Google and get the kind of exposure you were looking for.

How do I know this? Because I get calls daily from businesses all over Australia that have bought into the hype of cheap web design and are in a complete state of panic as their site is no where to be found on Google and on top of this the end design result is far from what they were anticipating. To add fuel to the fire, when the client wants any kind of small amend they are now charged a fortune. Or, even worse, when they do ring up to make a complaint about the designs they are then given the cold shoulder with unanswered emails and non returned phone calls. I hope you get where I’m coming from here and the argument I am putting together in regards to NOT USING CHEAP WEB DESIGN.

I can make another argument and that is the whole internet marketing side of things. Has your cheap web agency even contemplated how they intend to utilise your website for marketing purposes. If the site has been slapped and cobbled together in a few days then I can bet you anything that nothing has been discussed about how you are going to make your site work for you.

Did they bring up social media integration, content marketing, blogging, search engine optimisation etc? I can tell you without even waiting for your answer that none of these topics have been brought up.

So all you business owners out there looking to make a go of it online and start off on the wrong foot by using a cheap, low cost, low priced, bargain basement agency, you can forget about it. All that is going to happen is that you will end up calling us to fix the mess up. I am not just saying this to promote our web business, I am really trying to reach out to people here and help them before they make some seriously bad business mistakes. I honestly feel terrible for people who get duped and ripped off by these so called web providers who offer these silly packages.

I also before I wrap this blog up want to highlight another point. Make sure you ask these web people what content management system your website will be built around. This can be confusing BUT let me try and break this down further. See, what these guys do is quote you low to get you in the door and then lock you into using their content system which means that you MUST use their hosting.

The cheap web price is there like a mirage to get you in the front door and then they slug you hard with monthly hosting fees. It’s a complete sham and I am still amazed by the number of people who fall for this. Yes, it’s hard to know upfront about these types of pitfalls and money traps BUT after reading this blog I really hope that I have steered you in a better direction. Watch out especially for these so called monthly hosting add ons – you really don’t need them and you should be questioning this from the get go…..take my advice, spend a bit more on your website design and it will pay huge dividends for you in the future PLUS try to align yourself with some one who actually knows what they are talking about and who actually cares about your business. The rest I’m afraid are just out for the quick buck.

Is your Website letting your Business Down?

So what are some warning signals that your website is harming your business?

Probably the most common signal is the feedback you get from people. If you hear from your clients that they found it hard to use your website or found it out dated, then it’s time for a change. You want to keep your clients happy and if that means a web redesign, then so be it. If they have to buy products from your site and find this process arduous, then its time to kick things into gear and ditch the old site. Ecommerce sites, especially need to be extremely easy to use so make sure you must make the buying process a pleasure. If clients start looking elsewhere cause they hate your site, then guess what? You’re going to go out of business. This is the reality of the online space and if you think that it can’t or won’t happen to you then think again.

A very strong signal that your website is destructive force in your business is if people tell you that they looked everywhere but couldn’t find your site. They typed your name into Google and it didn’t show up. Well, what’s happening is that there are some serious coding issues and this is why your site is not being indexed by the search engines. Take immediate action as the remedy can be quite simple. Overall, if there are coding issues for these types of things, then a full website audit is probably in order.

Can you go and make a cup of coffee whilst your website is loading? Does the spinning wheel seem to hand there forever? If so, you are going to need a complete web overhaul. Heavy graphics that are killing your site loading times are also ruining the customer experience and this in turn will drive people away from your site. Irritating, bothersome extensive site downloads are going to eventually ruin your business.  People expect lightening fast website download speeds so be prepared for a mass exodus if your pages are taking more than a couple of seconds to load.

When was the last time your read your website? When was the last time you changes the photos of the people working in your company? If you can’t remember, then this is a major sign that there is trouble brewing. Web content needs to be updated regularly. I have blogged exhaustingly about this and I can’t telly you how important fresh new relevant content is, not only for your clients but also for your internet rankings. Also, the last thing you want to have is a photo of yourself dating back to the 1990’s. Imaging what will happen when your clients meet you and they see a completely different person. Not a good look I’m afraid. Keeping things current will do wonders for your brand, business and consumer perception.

Do you need to go back to your developer every time you need to make a small change to the site? If so then you should be looking at upgrading your websites content management system so that you are in full control of the site. Many website built years ago where developed using proprietary CMS platforms. A bit confusing I know. But, what this means in plain English is that your web people gave you a website that only works on their hosting and was developed by them to be used only by them basically, you have no where to go or no other options other than to dump the site and move on if you want to break those nasty shackles. Imagine the freedom you will have when you are in total control of your content and don’t have to keep on out laying money for the slightest change.

Have you been utilising social media to its fullest advantage? Have you been blogging, tweeting, playing in the Google+ space.  If not start now. Get your web team when they are designing your new site to integrate the social media platforms and get going. Its free it can be fun and best of all it works. Everyone is using it and your website must have these social icons on there.

Where is your website hosted? Who in your office is in charge of making updates? Where is the domain name registered? Is there any SEO being done on the site and if so when was the last time you had a ranking report? Who is writing the blog? All these questions need to be answered and most importantly all these loose ends need to be consolidated so there are no issues with the site in  the future. If it looks like the website is handled by too many different sets of people this is a bad move. Get it redesigned, move to a open source CMS, get trained in how to use it and put 1 person who you can trust in charge of its marketing.

I know it’s a big ask but now has never been a better time to take stock of your online presence and show the world just how great your business or company is. This exercise can be a very uplifting and motivating experience. It’s like throwing out your old wardrobe and filling it up with new clothes. It will give a whole new personality to your business and will more than likely get your inquiry rate up. It’s a no brainer – get it done now and get it done properly – let us make your website look fabulous!

6 Free Great Tips for Marketing your Website

Tip # 1: Make sure the website has been designed by an agency and not some template wielding, price busting, cheap n cheerful gang of cowboys. This obviously is after the horse has bolted so to speak, but if you look at your website and have paid next to nothing for it, then I say bin it. Take the loss, move on and look for another company that can design a site that will work for you. That is a company that can make you look unique, and design all pages that are aimed at site conversion.  Nowadays, websites need to look spot on. They have to appeal to the consumer within a few seconds and draw them into the site. This is why every web page needs to be planned out and lots of preparation put into it. Having an average looking site, will not cut it anymore. You can forget about it. Might as well pack your bags and go on holiday. So the first tip here is to engage a company like us here at hopping mad designs.

Tip # 2: If you are going to launch a site and your intention is to use this as a platform to drive new business, then use a SEO company that knows its stuff. Getting ripped off at this stage is a common occurrence and many businesses fail because they do not understand SEO or the processes involved. All I can say on this matter is try to use a web company that has a solid background in SEO. Splitting the 2 disciplines is not a good idea. My theory on this is that web design and SEO are so intertwined that it’s best to keep it all under 1 roof. This way the right hand knows what the left one is doing at all times. You can have the best looking website in the world that has been 100% optimised for conversion, but if you stuff up with your SEO then the whole exercise is going to be pointless. I would say the best way to go about this is to interview a few companies before embarking on this project and make your decision based on 2 areas. Their ability to design and the techniques they will use to rank a website. Make no mistake, There are literally hundreds if not thousands of so called SEO experts out there in the market place just dying to get your business. If you fall for their lies and fake promises then you are the one that will be going to suffer, with extremely poor site rankings and zero web traffic. This is a massive recipe for a disaster waiting to happen. I see it all the time and I get phone calls from people in such a panic about their Google rankings that it’s scary.

TIP # 3: Keep adding to your website. By this I mean you should be constantly looking to add content to the website either by blogging, creating news articles or even adding pages to the site. Don’t freak out here! I know you are busy and you have got much better things to be doing than publishing blogs, but 1 or 2 per month is all you need. Why? Cause Google loves new content and if you have something interesting to say, share it with the world and Google will help you get it out there. This form of marketing, known as content marketing is now common practice so if you have never heard about it, then get your web guys to add a blog feature on your site and go for it. To get a clearer idea of this message why not browse the hopping mad blog. From here you will get a better understanding of how a blog will work and how it can promote your business. I try to blog at least once a week on anything web or SEO…read the headings and you will get my drift.

TIP # 4: Probably one of the least active components of a small business marketing strategy is how they utilise and interact with their social media. More often than not this is an area that is over looked or forgotten about, but businesses should at least have a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Instagram account. These are awesome marketing tools and can seriously push your brand or business message to a whole new audience and the best thing about it; IT IS TOTALLY FREE! Try it out and see the kind of results you are getting. If it doesn’t work vary the message or look at it from a different angle. There is no harm in trying this over and over again, till you hit the winning formula.

TIP # 5: Make sure your website has a data collection area. That is, collect visitors email addresses by getting them to sign up to a newsletter. This way you can stay in touch with them on a regular basis. Quarterly, half yearly, yearly, whatever, as long as you are front of mind for these people when they are looking for your product or service and a direct email campaign is just the ticket to do this.

TIP # 6: Lastly, make sure that your website works on a mobile phone. Make it super easy for the public to browse your site, no matter the screen size they are using. Known as responsive design, this will help you target a mobile audience which is really where all web content and pages are heading. This may not be overly critical now but in years to come this is going to make a huge difference to the way users interact and engage with your site.

Cheap Web Design is a Waste of your Money

Why is a Cost Based Solution Detrimental to your Website and Online Marketing?

There are so many answers to this question that I could literally write thousands of words on this topic. But due to the nature of my blogs I will try to keep it as brief as I can.

The first and over arching enemy of any website is lack of planning. Businesses might have a goal in mind, but if they are approaching a web developer based on the cheapest price they can give; the end result is likely to be far from what was expected. See, these web companies are more than happy to take your business and will say about anything to get you to sign on the dotted line. Once they get you in, they will design and develop a template for you without any consideration for the end result. Basically, you end up with a rehashed, standard, web template that has no reflection on your business or target market. You might think to your self how well you have done by getting the cheapest website around, but as soon as you launch it, your clients  ( if you have any) are going to notice what a poor looking site it is and you will pay the hefty price of lost business and clients deserting you. This unfortunately is the nature of the web – if people don't like what they see they will look elsewhere.

If you want your website to rank on Google then I can almost guarantee you that the cheapest web option is going to hamper and delay any sort of chance you have of ranking. Why? Because, these web and SEO cowboys are dodgy and have absolutely no idea about how Google works and what are the necessary ingredients that go into making a website Google compliant. Their main aim is to take you money and move on. They don’t care about website semantics, content, titles and all the other juicy goodies that go into your ‘on page’ optimisation.

Yes, you may get a very standard template but once launched you are never ever going to get to page 1 of Google. The only thing I can suggest is that you get a team like Hopping Mad Designs to design and develop your next website. This way you can be certain that your website WILL have a much better chance of getting to page 1.

If you rely on Google for driving new business and feel that you are getting no where with your current website, then get in touch with one of our SEO specialist who will be able to conduct a full website audit and make some great SEO suggestions.

Cheap website design makes your company look cheap. Think about it for a moment. A website is your window to the world. It is your store front online, so why would you look for a company that is going to put you at a disadvantage from the get go. Succeeding online and being competitive in the world where Google dictates the rules, means that you have to face some harsh facts and realities regarding your website. That is, you will need a hell of a lot more than a $300 dollar website if you are going to get clients and kick your competition aside.

Nowadays, there are far too many variables that go into making a website work, to leave it to a bunch of amateurs who out source all their work to India. If you are happy to do that, then well and good, but don't expect your website to generate any sales or inquiries. Expect it to fall FLAT on its face!

Some of those great ingredrients that all good websites need include:

Website copy: your content has to sell. It’s just too competitive online to trust anyone other than a copywriter to write your website copy. Online users will give you a few seconds and then make their choice whether they stay or disappear. Great content written by people that know what works online is going to give your website the competitive edge. And I am not containing this to the home page only. I mean site wide content, professionally written.
Social Media: one simple rule here, get on board or perish. Learn to love Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and integrate this into your website. Again, not many web companies can advice you on  ways to use these platforms to your advantage, hence the need to speak to people who have experience in this social media space. Wrong decisions from the outset and a lack of appreciation fro what’s possible online will end up costing you a fortune in potential new business.

Website Graphics: I see so many businesses that have really appalling websites. I am not joking when I tell you that it still amazes me how many big companies have lousy websites. And the worst part is that their last website can be less than a few years old. What happened is that they went for the cheap n nasty option and now their sales and online inquiries are shot to pieces.

Having your website created with people who have a strong graphic back ground is going to make a huge difference to how the site looks and what impression it makes. Spending the extra money now and getting a website designed by graphic experts will save you the hassle of having to do it all again in the short term.

Responsive Mobile Websites are now expected and I can assure you that being thrifty is not going to get you a site that renders on mobiles and tablets. All consumers and all your customers are now using their phones to buy products or search for services. If your website makes life difficult for this mobile base then….well you know what will happen! And if you don’t your competition will, as they scoop up your clients by the handful.

Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO is all about converting those precious site visits into customers. Sure, you can get any old website design and yes you might be able to rank it on Google, BUT does it sell? Does it really funnel the clients right through to the buy button? Does it scream ‘we are the best’? And lastly, does it keep your customers coming back with easy navigation and user friendly graphics? If your website hasn’t been designed with CRO in mind then the potential for lost revenue grows with each missed opportunity. I cannot harp on this enough in this blog. That is, the web space is so competitive and so flooded with information that you have to make the best and seize every opportunity given to you. This is why it is imperative that you have a serious budget when looking for web designers. Being tight and overly frugal with the dollars is a sure way to sabotage your business.

The golden rule here for those businesses contemplating getting a website built is to look around and go with a company that can offer a complete digital strategy. Remember web design is only 1 very small component of the whole internet pie. Once you can understand this and once you are prepared to invest in the success of your website, then and only then will you have any chance of making your website the most powerful marketing and sales tool you always wanted it to be.

I am not writing this to try to pump up your price expectations before visiting us. I am however, concerned with the number of Australian businesses that fail online because:

– they are not willing to pay for a proper professional service that can help them
– do not understand the internet and are unwilling to learn. Basically, they have blind faith and put all their trust in some firm based in the sub continent or in a third world country.
– are far too ‘old school’ and are not open to new technologies or ways that can improve their bottom line.
– think that the website is just a brochure online and nothing more.
– the list goes on and on….

Anyways, if you would like to know what a great marketing tool your website can be, why not come in and chat with one of our web specialists here at HMD.