As a small business owner, one of the ways you should be embracing technology is by utilizing cloud storage. If you are thinking you don’t need it, then you would probably be wrong. If you have an iPhone, it’s more than likely you are using iCloud for the storage of your images and videos. All those selfies take up space!
Storing data on hardware in a remote physical location, which you have complete access to from any device via the internet helps free up space on your phone or computer hard drive,. It’s also an ideal place to back up your data to keep safe in case of a computer or website crash. If you aren’t backing up your computer and website you need to be, but that’s a post for another time.
Not only does cloud storage give you a place store data, it also allows for easy secure file sharing. There are many types of cloud storage but for the sake of this article, and the one I prefer, along with most of my clients, I am going to focus on Dropbox and Amazon S3.
Dropbox is more popular with individuals and small businesses, especially if they feel they are technically challenged.
You can use Dropbox via the website, installing a desktop client that creates a folder that you simply drag and drop files into, or a mobile app. Everything synchronizes across all devices used and cloud storage.
Dropbox security seems to be an issue for a lot people. They don’t apply end-to-end encryption and files are visible to admins, governments, etc. The do extensive collecting and distribution of user data to commercial third parties.
There may times when you think you are having computer or internet issues when in reality your files are syncing in the background and using CPU resources and internet bandwidth. When I used Dropbox and since I have slow internet service, I always turned off automatic file syncing and would manually sync files.
With the free Dropbox account, you get on 2GB of storage. The Standard for $9.99/mo. will give you 2TB of storage and that’s quite a bit. There are higher levels but for most small businesses 2TB is enough.
Go here for a full list of features.
S3 is a favorite among larger businesses and developers and one of the most secure cloud services. One of the features that make it a favorite are the encryption features and access management tools. You can allow access to those who need it, but only to what you want them to access. If you don’t want them to see all files, you set that in the user permissions. S3 does not collect and distribute user data to commercial third parties.
When uploading files, it might seem a little overwhelming at first because there are some choices to be made. But if you set your account up correctly from the start, then you only need to go with the default choices. All files uploaded to S3 are private until you make them public. Making a file public is the only way you can take advantage of file sharing and it only takes one extra click of the mouse.
In S3 filing you store your folders in buckets, then put files in the folders, so there is that extra level when organizing files.
The biggest advantage to using S3 over Dropbox is the cost. S3 storage costs $0.03 per GB and gets cheaper the more is stored, which makes storing all your media inexpensive.
While S3 doesn’t have a desktop client that uploads files automatically and syncs across all your different devices, it’s easy to access via the web and does have a mobile app.
See the full list of features here.
If setting up either of these cloud services seems overwhelming, let me know. I’m happy to help!
I could go on and on about creating a website but for the sake of this post let me just hit the high notes. It’s time to get your website up and running so you start marketing. But what platform do you use? Let me say that almost any platform you decide on now will be responsive, meaning mobile friendly, and have drag and drop building options if needed. I still highly suggest using WordPress so let me share with you my reasons.
WordPress has almost limitless options for themes, plugins, and integrations. With other platforms you are limited to using only the services they have chosen for you such as shopping cart integration and automated marketing platforms. Squarespace for example only integrates with Mailchimp, not Constant Contact, GetResponse, Aweber, InfusionSoft, etc.
With the limitations placed on you by the different platforms, you may not get the functionality you want. You will look at other websites and say, “why can’t I do that?”. The main reason will be because that other website is built on WordPress with its many choices.
You do have to choose a hosting platform with WordPress which is different from the way other site builders work. However, this choice allows you to save money by comparison shopping, but remember, you get what you pay for. The least expensive option is not always the way to go. I highly recommend SiteGround for your service and choosing the WordPress Hosting. They have a wonderful track record for uptime, support, and reliability.
After choosing a platform and a hosting service, we can look at themes. No matter what platform you decide to use, there will be a theme that is perfect for you, even if it needs a little customization. Any platform will allow you to choose your own branding. Your logo, colors, your own “voice”. Your website is where you can express what you (or your business) is all about.
Do some research by looking at websites of your competitors. See what they are doing and make note of the things you like and dislike. People are no longer taking the time to read everything on your site. Visuals are extremely important. There are several websites that offer free images and please take advantage of those. However, I do suggest purchasing a few more prominent images that you will be using on your site. You don’t want the same images everyone else is using. You want to stand out.
When it comes to text, the easier it is to scan, the better it is. This means bolding words and phrasing that you want to stand out and using lists and bullet points so it’s easier for people to see the main points that you want to get across.
On your home page, you need an eye-catching image, and an optin for with a lead magnet (freebie), your social media icons which should be near the bottom (so people don’t immediately click away from your site), and you want to be sure your contact information is easy to find. Yes, you will have a contact page but ideally your email and phone number should be on every page.
Your home page should be very clear on the product or service you offer. People will not dig around on your site to figure it out, they will immediately click away and go somewhere else if they can’t find the information they want fast enough. Your website should have a clean and uncluttered look.
While WordPress and its many choices may seem intimating at first, you will be glad you chose it in the long run. Especially if after a couple of years, your business is growing and you need to make changes and step up your game. With WordPress, you won’t need to switch platforms to accommodate your new needs. If you feel like hiring someone to build your first WordPress website is what you should do, then do it. Other platforms may seem easier and less expensive at first, but their limitations will cost you more in the long run because they do not grow with you as a business.
We have really just touched on the basics in this post. Schedule a consultation to discuss building a website in more depth at a time that is convenient for you.
Watch for next week’s blog when we talk about setting up your social media platforms!
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear must be “What is a landing page?” immediately followed by “What are the benefits of a landing page?” A landing page is a webpage that you land on after clicking on a hyperlink. However, the definition goes a little deeper when discussing landing pages as a marketing tool.
When we talk about landing pages in marketing, we are usually referring to a webpage that has been designed to focus solely on a single objective. The reason it focuses on a single objective is so that potential customers will also focus solely on that one thing. No distractions of sidebars or a navigation menu that can potentially take them away from the page with your intended conversion goal. Landing pages are basically really short versions of sales pages. So why should you use one? Simply put, they increase your conversion rate.
Landing pages are generally used for inbound advertising campaigns. Most often you will see a landing page when you have clicked on an ad or a social media post if the business is trying to get your attention for a specific product or service. Using dedicated landing pages allow you to project a different voice for different products, unlike your home or services pages where you are trying to address several things. Even though your voice may differ on your landing pages, your overall branding should remain the same.
Another benefit of using landing pages is that it’s easy to split test different pages to see which gets the most conversions. Sometimes small changes in text or images will make all the difference between a successful campaign and a not so successful one.
When creating a landing page, there is a basic anatomy they all have in common:
- A primary headline that matches the ad or post you used to get people to click on.
- A supporting headline
- The hero image or video. (According to eyeviewdigital.com, using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%.)
- Short and concise content. Utilizing bullet points allows you to convey more information in a smaller space.
- A call to action that is big and bold.
- Social proof – One or two testimonials, optional
- Another CTA is optional
- A closing statement
Even though landing pages are kept fairly simple, you can take a little more creative license with background images, arrows pointing to relevant information, and colors. But remember, the main goal is to have the prospect focusing on your product, so don’t go too crazy!
Usually after I finish answering the first two questions above, I hear “Can you create one for me?”. My answer is always YES!