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Which Features Should Your Website Have?

If you’re taking your website up a notch, consider these factors.

Jennifer Shaheen

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Website functionality can be a little confusing. Here, we discuss three popular tools.  If you’re considering them, think about the best way to add them to your website, and ensure you and the developer are on the same page.

Password Areas

Some websites require users to enter a username and password. This feature is often implemented because the website has one or more of the following needs:

  • A secure area for viewing content
  • Contributor login for adding content
  • Registration for comments
  • Shopping carts

It’s important to know how these items are set up. When creating a password area, think about how users will login – using email address and password or username and password? Having visitors use email addresses is a way for you to monitor and keep members from duplicating memberships. You need to consider what the process is for your users to change their email addresses. The second feature you want to think about is the password and an item known as the “forgot password” feature. This will allow users to retrieve their existing password or have the system assign a new one. Which way would you like this feature to work? Or are you thinking of a third option – sending users to a link that prompts them to create a new password? The point is, when you meet with your developer, you need to explain your expectations. If you don’t know what you want, ask the developer to explain how they see this feature working. Depending on what you’re password-protecting, ask yourself what security level you need. How will users’ information be protected? Don’t make assumptions when dealing with developers.

Feedback Forms

Online forms are wonderful tools for collecting customer information. Some are linked to a database so when data is entered via the Web, it’s stored for future use. Others are designed to capture data and send it via email to someone in the company; the data is not stored anywhere else. A form can also be set up to collect data into a text file or csv (comma separated values) file format and email the company administrator. Each type involves different set-up costs and programming requirements.

Be upfront about what you want your form to do, if you want your data stored, and how you want your users to be notified or redirected once the form is submitted. Most of today’s forms provide a captcha field (a challenge-response test) to ensure that the form was filled out by a human. What about the functionality of revealing a field if a customer chooses a certain option from a drop box? Clearly outline what you want your forms to do, how you want them to store information, and how you want them to direct your visitors.

Content management systems

Content is the heart of today’s websites, and managing that content with a content management system (CMS) is one of the most import decisions you need to make. Evaluating the right CMS is also one of the most difficult processes because of the various opinions, options and functions available.

Conduct a needs analysis

What do you need your CMS to do? Do you want it to provide SEO-friendly URLs and individual page control for titles and metadata? Will it need to support different layout designs for different sections? Will you be adding new features to your website in the next few months? What functions are you planning for? Video, additional forms, a blogging feature or possibly a member area? Is your CMS scalable? Are there third-party applications already designed and ready to work with your CMS, or will your developer have to write something from scratch?

Test the compentency required to use the system

Next, look at who will be editing the content. What is this person’s comfort with technology? Some CMS systems are easier to use than others. Ask your developer what CMS systems they recommend and why. Some developers use one CMS system, while others work with two or three. After you talk to the people you trust, find some time to demo the CMS either through a Web meeting or an online demo. Remember that we all have expectations when it comes to how we see our websites functioning. That’s why it’s crucial to explain your expectations to your developer in great detail, use examples to illustrate your needs, and ask lots of questions.

The eMarketing and Technology Therapist®, Jennifer Shaheen, is an expert at helping small and mid sized companies leverage technology to capitalize on current and future marketing objectives. Her business, The Technology Therapy Group, empowers small businesses to market their products and services through web development, web design and web marketing.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ashley

    Sep 25, 2011 at 12:24

    Cool! I like this article. Thanks,

    http://www.celebrityjam.net

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Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

With Facebook announcing that it is pushing brand and publisher content out of news feeds, how can businesses, especially small and medium enterprises in South Africa, remain relevant?

Madex

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It was deemed a “rude awakening” early in January 2018 when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the social networking platform had changed its algorithm, basically meaning it had changed what users see on their news feeds.

This follows a pretty harsh year for Facebook, where it was criticised for not having the right countermeasure to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda. So now its set of rules has changed; bumping up users’ friends and family members’ status updates and photos, and underplaying public news articles and content published by brands.

But where does that leave the small or medium businesses reliant on communicating their brand messages through Facebook? How do they now reach Facebook users (estimated to be approximately two billion)?

There is still a way

jodene-shaer“’Meaningful interaction’ is not something new to Zuckerberg’s focus on how brands engage with their Facebook audience,” explains Jodene Shaer, international business owner and head strategist of social media engagement specialist, Chat Factory.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

“There is a place for paid media, but if a brand is trying to be seen organically, then it must feel like it is part of the flowing content people want to see from friends and family. It is pushing for the reason that Facebook was created in the first place – to be social.”

Authenticity key

Truly embracing the power of live videos and video content on Facebook – and then creating reasons for the public to engage with those posts – is an excellent move for any business that is budget conscious, Shaer adds.

“The ranking for visibility of organic content is highest when live. Live videos are absolutely the route to go, as followers receive a notification that you are live and there is greater chance of visibility. A big advantage is that you can save that content to the page and it becomes shareable, and can be uploaded to YouTube, where there is still a strong call for business content.

“And it doesn’t have to be high budget either, but it must be authentic, informative, engaging and encouraging. Of all things, ensure that all comments are responded to and shares and reviews are acknowledged.”

Looking beyond Facebook

Shaer believes that smaller local businesses can make their ad rands stretch further on Facebook by moving onto Ads Manager, instead of simply using the Boost button. “The reach is different, so invest in watching some YouTube videos as tutorials,” she recommends. “Boost to unique target audiences and turn the boosting into a science, by watching your reach. Set up smaller boosts and spread your spend across a few posts instead of one big boost. Track your stats and see which audiences work best.”

“One way that South African SMEs could also make use of InstaStories, as these are gaining organic reach. They could also look at varying hashtags, but using a few to reach a very specific audience.

Related: Marketing Tips For Start-ups

“We’ve seen the opening up of the use of LinkedIn and had people return to using the power of Twitter, so it’s worth investigating how to maximise other platforms while trying to keep your budget low.

“None of this should put a small business off, but should create exciting and challenging opportunities to shift how social media is used and explore the outcomes of each post, to truly develop a social media presence,” she adds.

Shaer will be one of an entire panel of dynamic, expert presenters speaking at the upcoming Madex 2018 show, the ultimate marketing, advertising, design, social media and all that good stuff expo.

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Online Marketing

How To Market Your Hotel

An integrated digital marketing strategy that provides multiple channels to communicate on will help you to reach more potential customers.

Entrepreneur

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It’s imperative these days to enable customers and guests to interact directly with your brand in real time – and your ROI will reflect this success. To achieve this, your marketing team should utilise a number of different channels in order to achieve an integrated digital marketing strategy.

Why? When potential customers are only able to use one means of communication or booking platform, such as a hotel’s website or blog, Facebook, Twitter or a third-party booking site, their frustration could cause you to lose their business.

Your digital strategy

how-to-market-your-hotel

By engaging in an integrated digital marketing strategy and addressing multiple channels with a clear, consistent message, you are bound to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Through the creation of a larger online presence, your engagement reach will be far higher, solidifying your company’s brand in the best possible manner.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

Your first step in achieving an integrated campaign is to determine your target market. The second step according to Robert Nienaber, managing director of Suiteres, is to “create a message – tell a story about your product or service and what makes it unique.

For instance, the history of your establishment’s location, the nature/wildlife, your amazing food or historical rooms or perhaps the owner’s unique story. Tailor that story for your target market to captivate them – they will buy into your brand as a result.” Be sure to keep your message consistent across all mediums, be it written, photographic or video.

According to Ivo Kittel, head of Development & Design at Suiteres, different channels can be described as such: ‘These consist of website and online booking systems, third-party channels – such as online travel agents or your global distributions systems – and social media platforms that support the aforementioned and drive traffic to them.

‘Print media, events and other offline techniques can also assist by driving clients to visit your website or to engage with you on social media. All these channels should be strategically linked for best effect.’

Online marketing

An unusual hero in the travel market? Smart phones and tablets, on-the-go devices that allow users to review and recommend hotels on social media profiles, as well as third-party sites. Together with the integrated digital marketing strategy, this increases potential customers’ connections to hotels, airlines, car hire companies or event organisers.

What’s more, a key driver in drawing in new customers and causing previous ones to return, is the offer of regular perks, benefits, freebies and discounts via a newsletter.

Bear in mind though, that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Each company will have differing concerns and requirements, and these are what you should use to build an effective marketing campaign. The following should be noted:

  • Effective communication between marketing team members is essential. There needs to be collaboration across the multiple channels you’re utilising. In doing so, your overall offering will be streamlined and have maximum effect.
  • Choose your key channels, those that will receive the most attention and marketing spend. These need to be the channels that garner the most hits or collect the most bookings – also known as ‘converting’.
  • Determine your target market and get as much information as you can on them, over time. For instance, which platform do they opt for first? Do specials lead them to make a booking, and if so, what are they? This and any other informative data assists you in your decisions and allows you to use your marketing funds in the best manner possible.

According to Vanessa Rogers, head of Communications at Suiteres, ‘The above-mentioned strategy should ideally be supported by a skilfully crafted PR campaign – one designed to complement and support your marketing message.’

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Taking this into account, you should consider having relevant articles published on third-party websites and print media or arrange for a client to be interviewed on radio or a streaming site. These forms of PR are more cost-effective then an advertising campaign.

The details matter

Importantly, customers need to know they can contact you quickly and easily, whether they are making a booking or requesting additional information. One thing you can be certain of: if a customer is unable to communicate efficiently with you, they are very likely to book elsewhere.

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Online Marketing

10 Online Marketers To Watch In 2018

The more diverse your sources of news and inspiration, the better. These ten people can help get you there.

Jayson Demers

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Online marketing requires experience, creativity and a working knowledge of the latest trends and technologies necessary to stay competitive in the modern landscape. And while there aren’t any shortcuts to gain more experience, there is a convenient way to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends and get inspiration for your creative campaigns.

That way? Following and paying attention to the best, smartest marketers in the industry.

With 2018 just getting started, I wanted to list some of my favourite marketing influencers, some of the most influential experts in the industry and some of the most promising creative minds to pay attention to this year:

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