How to get my business online in 2017?
Posted: 16th March 2017
Getting your business online in 2017 can seem like a minefield. It can put you off and seem very daunting when you start speaking to web and digital agencies about your business and what you need to do to give your business an online presence. Let alone talking about prices and budgets. From start to finish it can seem stressful, costly and full of new hurdles to jump over on a daily basis.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here at Priority Pixels we aim to deliver the best possible route online in a systematic way that is simple to understand and at a competitive rate. However, there are lots of things you can think about before contacting agencies to get a quote. Understanding just the very basics of how the process works can really help you but can also help the agencies offer you the correct quote.
The first thing you need to do is come up with your name. While doing this I would suggest looking to see if there is a suitable domain for your name. There is no point getting your name sorted only to find that the domain is not available. Try and pick a name for your business that is unique. Google your selections and see if there are any other businesses out there with the same name. If so scrap it and find a new name because you want it to be unique right? Once you have checked Google to make sure no other companies with the same name are on there and you have checked the domain registrar and its available, then just go ahead and buy it. You don’t want to lose the domain by letting someone else buy it whilst you are waiting to decide what to do. So just buy it. We offer domain registration services and can help you with this right from the start. Our domain registrations are free for the first year for all new customers.
Then you really need to think about doing your research for your branding. By this I mean do your market research. We are approached by many businesses who fail in this regard right from the start. It doesn’t matter whether you are designing a logo, building a website or running Google ads, understanding your target market and what they are looking for is key getting your branding right. Remember its not about what you want or what you like or what you think reads well or looks good. Its about what appeals to your customer. At Priority Pixels we offer branding services for this very reason. We will conduct market research based on conversations with the client and merge these with your personality, your features and your values to create an instantly recognisable verbal and visual brand that will work across all formats and medias.
You can then start to think about your logo. Now this is where a lot of people get it wrong. They either don’t pay enough attention to their logo design or they pay too much attention to it. Now remember, a logo can be recognised and associated with your brand or company all over the world and can instantly communicate a strong brand image. A lot of people will merely see their logo as something they have to do because all businesses have them. They will not give it much thought. They will create an image in a format that cannot be used across all medias and as long as it has the company name and a nice colour scheme they will generally be quite happy. Others will go overboard and overthink the entire logo design process paying far to much attention to the logo in an extreme ‘arty’ sort of way. Now the trick here is to find the balance. Here at Priority Pixels we offer logo design services with all this in mind. Simplicity and clarity are the key to good logo design. We help a lot of businesses stand out from the crowd by creating design concepts, based on our conversations with the client, and revising those concepts until the clients is satisfied. Most importantly we then supply the final logo design in multiple formats and sizes to ensure they are suitable for all medias. Whether you want to use the logos on a business card, a letter head, flyers, your website or a giant billboard screen your logo will have the same clarity and distinction across all these medias. You don’t want to have to get new versions of your logo designed because the logo you have doesn’t have this capability. Remember as well that you should own your logo outright so make sure you ask whoever is designing the logo whether you will own it afterwards. Once you do own it then get your copyright and a trademark sorted!
Once you have sorted out your branding and logo design the next step is to think about what other promotional activities you will be undertaking. Do you need to arrange flyers or brochures? Do you need create adverts, whether it be digital or in a newspaper? If so then start thinking about creating the artwork for these. We offer graphic design services for this very reason. We are able to create something that both looks fantastic and has the ability to speak to your audience through a subtle mix of word, images, fonts and colours. And remember that you shouldn’t just create one design for all formats. You will need a design for each format as each format speaks to your customers in very different ways. One design will work better on Twitter than Facebook for example. Then there’s Youtube, Instagram and many others. Then you have your printed media such as flyers and posters. They are all very different and speak to their audiences in different ways. Different things appeal on each medium and its up to you to be equipped for that. Too many customers we speak to think one size fits all and it doesn’t. So be smart and speak to your agency about what works best and how best to approach each one for your business. It will save you time and money in the future!
Ok so you have created your brand, designed your logo and produced all the graphics to be used for advertising. Now its time to start thinking about your website. It is pointless trying to build a website without at least going through the thought process of the previous 4 items. Remember a web design agency will bill you by the hour for their services. Jobs are priced in accordance to their hourly rate and how long it will take for them to design and build it. If you have your branding, logo and graphics in place it will inevitable take less time to build your website, as some of the content has been provided and this means it will not cost you as much in the long run.
So with this vision make sure you pay attention to your website design. Again the overriding rule of thumb here is make sure you don’t just think about it looking pretty but you also make sure any user will have a good experience on the site when they use it. We speak to far too many people who have a wonderful looking website but it actually doesn’t function how it should for their business requirements. You need to think about what your website is to be used for. Is it an information only site, is it to attract new business or is it to sell products online to customers? Or maybe all three! Fundamentally every website is their to attract users whether they spend money or not. So there is no point in creating a website that you like but your customers don’t like. Our website design services ensure everything is covered in both how it looks and how it works.
Again price here can also be reduced in the long term. Why get a website designed without thinking about these things, only to go to another agency in 6-12 months time to get a new one built because you are unhappy with the first one. This is a common problem we come across. Very often a customer will base their web design project on price alone and end up spending more money further down the line when they are unhappy with their website. It’s like everything you learn whilst you are doing it so going through the first set of processes unprepared means you have to spend more money getting it fixed later on. You might as well do it right from the start and ensure your website works for your business and is not just great because it was cheap. What’s the point of having a cheap website built only to discover it hasn’t attracted a single customer. You might as well have spent more money on a website that functions properly and attracts a lot of paying customers.
You will also need to think about content for your site. Have you written the copy yourself or copied it from elsewhere on the internet? If so then you are probably treading on dangerous ground. Unless of course you happen to be a professional writer! This is another area where a lot of people cut corners. They either don’t want to pay for a copywriter, think it’s too expensive or do not see the value in it. Well depending on the size of your site it doesn’t have to be expensive. Even if it does cost money I guarantee it will have far more value than something you have written yourself. Having professionally written copy that incorporates your businesses values and your keywords will not only visually provide a much better perception of your business to your customer but it will also help with your Google ranking. Google tells us time and time again that good quality content is the key to a websites success on search engines. If so why would you refrain from spending money to get this bit right? Google also does not like duplicate content. So if you have copied from other sources remember this will have a detrimental effect on your ranking.
Good quality photography will really set the tone for your website. Why cut costs by getting images elsewhere? Nothing beats professionally taken photographs and whether it is photography arranged by an agency like us or whether its stock photography make sure you pay for good high quality images. Imagery is key in the modern age and if you have products to show you surely want to show them off to their best? Otherwise what’s the point? Again content is key for Google so photography is a great way of adding high quality content to your website that is unique and engaging to your customer.
Now you may not have a business where you think videos are required for your website. But think again. Videos are an amazing way of adding content to your site. Videos have a far greater hit rate than any other format when it comes to advertising. They are visual, engaging and can say almost anything to your customer. They also make your site bigger, more authoritative and qualify as good quality content by Google. So yet again the boost in rankings makes it a no brainer. Whether you have professional videos produced or whether you purchase stock videos showcasing areas your business you can offer a different user experience to your customer. One that will drive traffic and in turn, sales. You can also use videos for any content marketing you may wish to do. They play a massive part in this and I’ll touch on that later. Our video productions services can help you with exactly that.
You will now need to think about who is going to host your site. Hosting is required by all websites in order for them to appear on the internet. Think of your website as your ‘shop’ and the hosting is the ‘rent’ for your shop. Some agencies will offer you free hosting for a period of time. We do that here at Priority Pixels. All our new customers receive free hosting and free domain registration for the first year. Whatever you choose make sure you get decent hosting as you don’t want your website offline because your hosting is not good enough. Make sure your hosting is located in the country of your businesses location. If you are based in the UK then get UK hosting. We see many clients who have their hosting in another country and this is a ranking factor for Google!
Make sure your hosting has daily back ups. You don’t want your site to go offline and then lose everything because it wasn’t backed up. Then make sure it has a decent uptime rate. Now there is no hosting provider in the world that can guarantee 100% uptime, so do not fall for this! The Internet is like anything else, it can break from time to time and natural occurrences such as storms can knock server systems out. So no one can guarantee that your site is live 100% of the time. Here at Priority Pixels our hosting offers 99.9% uptime and daily back ups so you’d be safe with us. Hosting services and domains registrations are renewable (normally annually) so ensure you budget for this so that you are not surprised when an invoice lands in your inbox!
Okay so we are now roughly half way through the process of how to get my business online in 2017. You’ve built your brand, designed a logo, created a website full of engaging professionally written copy, professional photography and professional videos. Your website is now being hosted and appearing on the internet. You would think that you have now finished right? Well you would be wrong………….
The first thing you need to think about is who is going to maintain the website on an ongoing basis. Are you a web designer or IT specialist? If so maybe you will do it yourself. If not then I strongly urge you to get it maintained and managed by a professional. You do not need your website going down or being hacked. The security and software on your website being updated on a regular basis is key to ensuring your website runs smoothly. You will also want to make amendments to your site from time to time. You might offer new services or take on different product ranges throughout the year or as your business grows. Well to update your website will cost money so paying an agency a monthly retainer to carry out these updates will ensure your site is updated without ruining all the work put into the original design. We speak to many people who have tried to update information on their website themselves only to end up disabling something else on the site as a result. All because they don’t know what they are doing. You would not try and fix a car yourself if you didn’t know how, would you? So why do you feel the need to with websites? The only answer to this is to save money. But again if it’s done professionally it will be done right the first time. If you make changes and it causes something to go wrong with your site it will end up costing you more to fix further down the line.
As the sub heading suggests promotion of your website and business can take many forms. Whether its Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), Email Marketing or Social Media you will have 2 choices. Either do it yourself or pay for someone else to do it. Now your website will not be seen if you do nothing. However by doing some or all you can really start attracting customers to your site. Just because you have a website built it doesn’t mean all of a sudden you are going to get a lot of customers. You still have to promote your website just like you would a business on the high street. SEO is the base that guarantees your websites success. The better your SEO the higher up it will appear on search engines such as Google. It’s also a huge part of the web design process. You can build SEO into your site from the wireframe up to ensure your site is indexed by Google easily. You will then need to carry on with SEO for the duration of your websites lifetime. It never stops. If you do stop you will probably drop off the rankings quicker than it took for you to get there. So if you want to appear on the 1st page of Google organically, SEO is the way to do it.
PPC is always important for any business but especially at the beginning of your websites lifetime. While your website is trying to get up the rankings organically you still need to attract customers. Thats where PPC comes in. You can run things like Google Ads or Bing Ads which appear at the top and bottom of search engines pages. Your ad design, relevance and bid strategy will decide where your ad will appear on search engines. So getting your agency to design and create the ad and managing the ad campaign for you is the best solution. We offer PPC management services to many clients and some people think they can do it themselves. Well you can but ads will be more expensive in the long term if you run a basic ad against a highly popular keyword. But if you carry out keyword analysis to find the best keywords for your ads and design an ad thats engaging and relevant your ad campaign will be more cost effective in the long run. The price per click comes down if your ad is relevant and engaging. The price per click goes up if your ad is not relevant or engaging. Running ads is also a matter of trial and error. You can only really find out how successful an ad is by running it and monitoring the result. If you have an agency run your campaign for you, they will do this on your behalf. Using their expertise they will be able to pause and start ads according to their performance, thus making your ad strategy work harder for your money. Simply running an ad and leaving it will not be the best way of ensuring you are getting value for money in your ad campaigns.
Email marketing is a must in the modern age. With email marketing you have direct contact with your customers straight to their inbox. It’s a great way to drive sales and to let your customers know about your business. We offer email marketing services that create stunning HTML emails that will contain your companies branding. We can then research what style and design of email is best for your customers along with the best times to send out your emails. We can fully automate the system for you allowing unique designs to be strategically sent out according to your marketing strategy. This will give you the best click through rate and in turn a better chance of achieving higher sales. Just sending random emails will not cut it. Just ask yourself how many marketing emails do you just send to your trash and which ones do you maybe look at briefly or even potentially buy something through? That will give you the answer as to whether you should do this yourself or get an agency like Priority Pixels to do it for you.
Now social media is one of those things that many people get excited about in the beginning. Then after a while they soon realise its a full time job in itself and it gets pushed to one side. Why run social media yourself when you need to concentrate on your business. If you were to employ someone to look after your social media it will inevitably be more expensive than getting an agency like Priority Pixels to run your social media for you. So it’s a ‘no brainer’. There is not a business today that cannot be on social media. Whether its Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram or many of the others out there, you need to ensure you are active on all your accounts on a regular basis (at least once a week). You should post unique and engaging content across all of the platforms. This will help drive your brand and business and allow you to share information with potential customers in real time. Remember social media is about driving potential customers to your website. It is not about driving people away from your site.
In short getting your business online in 2017 is a very different prospect than it was say 10 years ago. If you are setting up a business you need to really think about all of these processes and plan a budget for them. Speak to web and digital agencies like Priority Pixels and get some advice to allow you to price this into your business plan. Don’t do what one customer did recently with us. He got a business loan from the bank to start his new business. This loan was based on a business plan he had created without speaking to an agency about pricing. This meant that he had plucked a figure out of thin air of what he thought the website would cost. He came to us with a budget that would have only just got him a template site. What he wanted was a bespoke e-commerce website which also had a booking facility added in. Inevitably we could not build what he wanted for that price so he went elsewhere. He then ended up with a website he didn’t like done on the cheap that he could not promote. He called us 6 months later realising his mistake and we have just finished a new site for him. Starting a business without proper planning will cost you further down the line. Plan now and that includes online. How can you budget for something that you have no idea how much it costs?
Starting a business is one of the biggest things you will do in your lifetime. It’s also something that you clearly have a lot of faith in, otherwise you wouldn’t have decided to do it in the first place. So why cut corners in getting your business online. It makes no sense whatsoever. When you buy a car or a house (the two most expensive purchases in your lifetime) you don’t cut corners so why take that risk with your business?
Make sure you research and plan extensively. Never do anything on a whim and make sure you understand the reasons why before dismissing something purely based on how much you think it should cost.
Different agencies will quote different prices for similar jobs. It is a minefield. However, if you have thought about it yourself and have a clear idea of what you want to do then at least you can provide the agency with a firm brief. You can then whittle your choices down based on price and how you feel about the agency, after this.
So this is how to get my business online in 2017. If you are looking for any advice on a future project please do feel free to contact us at Priority Pixels and we would be happy to help.
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Devon Office: +44 (0) 1803 226 440