Tuesday, November 29, 2016

7 Reasons to Invest in SEO Now

Business owners often prefer to run some ads to promote their websites, rather than investing in search engine optimization (SEO). It's easier and quicker to do, and the results are much more immediate too. However, if you're in it for the long term, and you should be, then SEO for your website makes much more sense. Here are 7 reasons why:

No Constant Cost Increases
The monthly cost of a successful SEO strategy will pale into insignificance when compared to the increase in website traffic and sales. The traffic growth will be exponential over time, increasing profits exponentially too, and will become near impossible to stop - unlike ads where traffic and profits grind to a halt the moment you stop running them.

85% of Online Clicks go to Organic Search Results
That leaves just 15% of all online clicks going to ads, which means that the majority of traffic originates from the search results. If your website ranks well for your best keywords, you will have a steady flow of highly relevant buying traffic pouring into your website, night and day. This will do wonders to your bottom line, and if you want to increase that traffic, you can purchase a few ads too - but always start with a good SEO strategy.

You may also want to read: The Beginner's Guide to SEO - Part 1

Increased Traffic = Increased Sales = Increased Profits
A good SEO strategy will increase the traffic to your website, not just from search results alone, but over time satisfied customers will happily refer you to others, thereby increasing the traffic to your website even further. This will inevitably result in an increase in sales, which will translate in greater profits for you.

SEO is Cost-Effective
Popular methods of online marketing, besides SEO, include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, buying leads to use with email marketing and social media marketing. These all work well, and it can be argued that some of them have certain advantages and benefits over SEO marketing. However, SEO marketing should always remain your main base for online marketing. The return on investment (ROI) is good, the results are predictable, and the effect is long lasting.

CC Communications is offering a free SEO Analysis

Mobile Devices Dominate Internet Bandwidth
With the dominance of mobile devices over traditional desktop devices online, SEO has evolved in new ways to embrace this dominant technology. Mobile devices offer new opportunities and challenges for everyone, and those at the forefront are the ones who will benefit most. Running ads won't save you here, neither will a strong social media brand. SEO is by far your best chance to cash in.

SEO is Not a Fad or a Gimmick - it's Here to Stay
SEO will continuously evolve to embrace and adapt to new technologies as they emerge, but at its core, SEO is still a constant that isn't going to go away any time soon. When you compare SEO against other ways of promoting your website, it's a bit like building a house on rock compared to building a house on sand. Both houses will look great, at least to begin with, but which one do you think will stand the test of time?

Local SEO - the Huge Opportunity You Can't Afford to Overlook
The rise in the use of mobile devices now means that people will pull out their phones and look for a local store on a whim when they need something. If they happen to need what you are selling, and you don't feature in the search results, your competitors will be the ones to benefit. How can you prevent this happening? An effective SEO strategy is the best answer, every time. If your company is not listed and ranking high in Google My Business, you are missing out - big time!

CC Communications can Help
Our Charlotte website development and marketing agency has been helping businesses grow their presence in the search engines for over 23 years. We're currently providing free SEO audits to the first five businesses to complete our online survey. Using our comprehensive SEO analysis tools we'll develop a plan to find and resolve any issues that may be impacting your website's performance. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

7 Things Often Overlooked When Designing A Website

7 Essentials Every Website Should Include by CC Communications
When you create a new website, it’s easy to look for aesthetics rather than practicalities. You want it to look nice for your visitors, and while that certainly is important, you may be ignoring essential elements. Here are 7 of the most overlooked features on websites:

Meta Data
The meta data of a website is usually hidden in the underlying HTML code that makes up the page and allows it to be visible in a web browser. However, this data is vitally important as it is read by the search engine spiders to affect your rankings. The meta data of a web page includes the page title, the description, page headings, and subheadings. Understanding these important elements of search engine optimization will make your site more competitive online.

Google Analytics Tracking
This is an online analytics and tracking service that is freely available to all, courtesy of Google. You need to set up a Google Analytics account (http://www.google.com/analytics/), and then simply follow the easy on-screen instructions to analyze your web traffic and know where each visitor came from, and more. You can also set up dashboards for at-a-glance information and have your most important data emailed to you on a regular bases.

Mobile/ Responsive Design
Mobile use now accounts for more than half of all Internet access, so it is very important that your website has a responsive design, and not a static design. You need to have an HTML template that can respond properly with no sideways scrolling on even the smallest screen size, if you want to do business online. Services like MobileEasy are helpful for a small business without a large budget for a website overhaul.

Clear Calls-To-Action
Just having a great sales page is good, but it isn’t good enough. People might be convinced that your product is just right for them, but if you don’t have a clear call to action, they probably won’t buy from you. Tell them clearly and distinctly to buy now!

Testimonials
It’s all very well for you to say your product or service is great, but it’s much better when other people say it too. Always try to get satisfied customers to provide you with a testimonial, and display it proudly on your website.

Security (SSL Certification)
Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, is essential if you do e-commerce. In short, SSL encrypts sensitive information. If you accept credit cards on your site without an SSL Certificate, for example, it would be possible for someone with the right equipment to harvest the credit card numbers.


Contact Information
All too often a website doesn’t make it easy for their visitors to make contact. Always have a prominently displayed contact page. Include an email and phone number at the very least, if possible. Having contact information on your website increases visitor confidence.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bring Customers to Your Door Using Google My Business

How Using Google My Business Can Help Grow Your Business.


Advantages of using Google My Business
Google My Business is the free upgrade to the services from Google previously covered by both Google Places for Business, and Google+ Pages Dashboard. Both of the previous services were also free, and were a way for businesses to manage their information online. Google My Business combines the best of those services, while adding better functionality.

It might be natural for some business owners to think that if they already have a well-built, comprehensive website that ranks well for its main keywords, then they really have no need for something like Google My Business. This is a short-sighted view, as the free Google service is an excellent complement to a company website. It provides your business with a unique presence on the world’s most influential online company, and it costs nothing, apart from the simple task of gathering the necessary company information together.

Google My Business works primarily at a local level. It’s about connecting with potential customers and getting relevant leads from them. If you are to take full advantage of this service, you need to start by filling out your business information as fully as possible. Make the page that people land on a rich information-packed place where people can find what they need, and go on to make contact with you.

TIP: Make sure your business name, address, and phone (NAP) are used consistently throughout all online directories, and especially Google My Business. It should be an exact match to the NAP info found on your website. This ensures your message is consistent for potential customers who may try to locate your business, and is beneficial to the health of your website in regards to SEO.




Google My Business is designed to include a wealth of different, highly-relevant information, so make full use of it. The greater the detail on your Google My Business page, the higher it will rank, and more people will come across it in their searches.

Features of Google My Business

The features of the service are impressive. You're provided with a dashboard that is virtually a backroom CRM where you can control everything and view traffic stats. You're not limited to just having text on your Google My Business page either. You can, and should, add photos, video or podcast audio – or better yet, all three.

Google My Business gives you direct access to your Google+ account, Reviews, Insights, Analytics, AdWords, Hangouts and YouTube, all from a single dashboard. Properly set up and managed, this free service is really all you need to successfully bring crowds of willing customers straight to your door.

Need assistance? CC Communications will ensure your business is claimed and optimized to provide you with the full benefits of the Google My Business tool. Contact our team at marketing@cccom.com to learn more.



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stay Connected to Your Customers

How Retargeting Reinforces Your Advertising Efforts 

Stay connected with your customers through retargeting.
Retargeting, sometimes also known as remarketing, is a method of focusing your marketing efforts on those who have already shown an interest in your product or service. At a simple level this can be someone who has downloaded free information from your website, for example, or signed up to receive further information about a product, but failed to make a purchase.

A more sophisticated form of retargeting is through cookies. These are small pieces of code placed in a person’s browser when they visit your website. This code can then be used to trigger the placement of specific ads on certain websites that display advertising. To make this happen it's necessary to utilize an ad network such as AdWords.

You may have experienced this type of marketing yourself. If, for example, you spent some time looking for a particular product in various retail websites, you may have noticed immediately after seeing an advert for that product, or a similar product, popping up on a number of other websites or social media sites you subsequently visited. This is retargeting in action.


Retargeting helps remind a potential customer of your product or service by keeping it top of mind. This type of follow up, if done correctly, is subtle, but very persuasive. You know they're interested in the product, but not quite convinced to make a purchase. Retargeting keeps the idea of purchasing gently simmering, until they make the decision to buy.

The benefits of retargeting are many. They include, maximizing the customer’s lifetime value, increasing the conversion rate, increasing your marketing reach, enabling a high degree of precision targeting, keeping marketing costs down to a minimum, and promoting brand awareness.

Do you need assistance establishing a retargeting campaign? We help clients navigate the online marketing landscape to get their messages seen by a highly relevant and interested audience. We can do the same for you! Contact us today to learn more.

SPECIAL OFFER

CC Communications is offering a free, comprehensive SEO analysis, available to the first two businesses to complete our online survey. This audit provides actionable items to help improve the health of your site and help you outrank your competitors in online search results.  Click here to get started.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Do Something! Boost Customer Engagement Through Effective Calls-to-Action

If you haven’t given marketing too much thought, it may seem logical that all you need to do is present your audience with a compelling offer in order to get sales. That might work to a certain extent, but it’s a simple fact that you need to tell them what to do in order to get the sale. You need to provide a clear and effective call-to-action (CTA) that entices customers to click that “Buy” button and make the order, for if you don’t, you may not maximize your potential sales.

A CTA should only be used when it’s obvious to the visitor that they’re reading a sales letter, or promotional piece. A white paper, for example, is primarily for educational purposes, and a strong CTA inserted at the end of the paper would only serve to erode trust. To a large extent, the same goes for most social media platforms where a CTA could be seen as intrusive.

In order to boost customer engagement through an effective call-to-action, a strategy is required. Here are some rules to follow when incorporating CTA's into your marketing message.

Always be visible and obvious
On a website sales page, a yellow, or yellow/orange, rectangular button saying something like “Buy Now” works well. It is highly visible and obvious, and when placed near the end of the sales page, it becomes the culmination of the promotional piece; the call-to-action. An alternative could be the use of larger bold text in a different color that stands out and clearly delivers a simple action message.

Use simple words that clearly express action
The words used in your call-to-action should be kept simple and should inspire the reader to take action. Words like, “Click Here”, “Buy Now” and “Call Today” convey a clear intent and will not confuse your visitor. Words like “Submit” are impersonal and clinical and should be avoided.

Don't be ambiguous or have more than one action listed
A single CTA always works best. When you say something like, “Click the buy button now, or call our number, or alternatively fill out our contact form,” a potential customer will become confused and unsure of which action they should take. The result will often be that they take no action at all.

Inspire a feeling of urgency
You need to instill a sense of urgency into the call-to-action. You don’t want the visitor to think they can always come back and do it later. They probably won’t. Use words like, “Now” and “Today” to create a feeling of immediacy. You could also say that the offer will only be available for a short time before the price rises.

Lead to a short and simple engagement path for the customer
Provide an engagement path for your customer that is short and easy to follow. If they call a number and are then presented with 10 menu options to navigate, they will probably give up. If they have to fill in a form with their name, email and home address after clicking a button, they will probably give up. Keep the engagement path simple and easy.

Incorporate A/B testing
This can be achieved by changing only a single element of the CTA (button color, action word, etc) and then compare the results against the previous version. Improved results should be kept and any decrease in results should be rejected.

Do you need help developing marketing strategies to boost your online sales? Contact CC Communications today to learn how we can put our 22+ years of experience to work for your business. 


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to Incorporate Video into Your Online Strategy

Anyone old enough to remember trying to stream a video clip from a website back in the days of dial-up before broadband was common would have been forgiven for thinking it would never catch on. Fast forward to the present and we have Forbes magazine, as well as many others, telling us, “2016 is the long-anticipated year of video marketing.”

You might be wondering if video marketing really works, and that’s a fair point. Well, consider these statistics from the Online Publishers Association:
  • 80% of Internet users watched a video ad in the past month, and of that 80%
  • 26% searched for more information about the subject matter
  • 22% went to the website mentioned in the ad
  • 15% checked out the company behind the ad
  • 12% bought the product being promoted in the ad
The great thing about using video to promote your product or service is that you are not limited to only having a video on your website. In fact, you should be spreading your video around as much as possible. Social media now give greater weight in their algorithms to video placement, making it easier than ever to market effectively.

YouTube is certainly the granddaddy of video sites, but Facebook has recently overtaken YouTube in terms of daily video minutes watched – some 4 billion videos watched worldwide per day – and Twitter and Snapchat are also catching up fast. These numbers are only going to grow as people are showing an ever-increasing voracious appetite for video.

Producing Video on a Shoestring Budget
Creating your own promotional video can be fairly easy, even if you are on a tight budget. One of the easiest and most effective ways is to create a presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint. You first need to write and record a script, but it doesn’t need to be long, about one minute to 90 seconds of talking time works well.  You can then create your presentation using suitable images and text. Time each slide length according to the relevant part of the script. You can then choose File, Export, and Create a Video to create the video in the WMF video file format. After choosing the video quality setting, you can choose, Use Recorded Timings and Narrations to add the script you recorded earlier.

Consider recording a video blog, with the presenter/host simply appearing on-camera.  Video blogs can be fun, informal, informative and powerful.  The audio and video recording capability found on most modern mobile phones is usually sufficient to produce an effective message, as long as you have access to a quality microphone and have good lighting.

Best Practices and Tips 
  • Avoid incorporating 3rd party logos or images copied online within your video presentation.
  • Remember to respect all common trademark and copyright ownership laws and adhere to restrictions. 
  • If you buy images, fonts or soundtrack content for inclusion into your video, then make certain you follow the usage terms and conditions associated with your purchase. 
  • Don’t forget to post and promote your video on YouTube.com, as well as embedded it within a page on your own website.
  • Include a link in your video description leading back to your designated landing page for more formation and lead capturing.
Want some extra help? 
CC Communications and our affiliate partners offer a wide range of very cost efficient web video production options and services, with some support packages starting as low as $899. Once your video is produced, CC Communications can also help you successfully post and promote the program online, as well as setup an effective landing page that connects to your presentation with a clear “call-to-action” response. At CC Communications we have a highly experienced team of industry experts who can help with all of your online marketing needs, including video. For the best video production and marketing advice or assistance, call us today on 704‑543‑1171, or contact us online. We’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

What's Missing? Four Things Every B2B Website Must Have

When consulting with a new B2B client, we often begin the process by reviewing their existing website for the things that are missing - those website components necessary to turn a cookie-cutter website into a robust lead generator. If you're a B2B marketer looking for ways to enhance your online presence and positively impact your key performance indicators, then make sure you have these four elements in place.

Strong Calls to Action
When visitors land on your site, you need to provide clear direction on what you want them to do. Is your goal to get more contact forms completed? Do you want them to download your free e-book? No matter what your primary objective may be, you need to place your call to action (CTA) in a prominent location (above the scroll line) on your page.

When writing your CTA keep it around five to six words, and focus on conveying a sense value and urgency. For example, "Schedule my free consultation now!"


Testimonials
The power of social influence cannot be denied, and nothing gives you online cred like a testimonial from a past or present client. Make it a habit of always asking your clients to put in a good word. If your position isn't client-facing, then reach out to someone on your team who is, and ask them to make the request.

A good rule of thumb to follow is not to create a dedicated page for testimonials on your site. More times than not these pages will be passed over. You're better off sprinkling them across your website for a stronger impact.

Blog
Your website needs a fresh, steady stream of content. Otherwise all you have to offer is a glorified e-brochure. A blog provides a platform to showcase your expertise, it helps position your organization as a thought leader in your industry, it gives your website an SEO boost, and provides new ways for your business to be discovered online. Sure, it will take some resources to produce the content, but either you take center stage online or your competitors will.

Tracking
Data is the key to understanding your customers journey through your website. Google Analytics is an in-depth platform often overlooked as the valuable resource it is. The data is provides helps you learn what content resonates most for your site visitors, and which areas need improvement.

Aside from the top level metrics this tool provides, you can set up conversion goals to measure the success of online campaigns, see which social media outlets are providing the most referral traffic to your site, and discover where people are dropping off in the sales purchase funnel.

Get Help with Google Analytics.

Need assistance with strategic planning for your website? CC Communications has over 22 years of experience in the industry and we're ready to help you take your B2B website to the next level. Contact us today to learn more.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Corrupted Data: How to Detect and Remove Referral Spam

There's a rampant issue impacting the Google Analytics account of nearly every business. It's called referral spam (a.k.a. ghost spam) and any marketer tasked with reporting online metrics should know how to detect and remove it from their data. Using Google Analytics to make data-driven decisions is important for any small business, but if you're only looking at the top level metrics, then you may not be getting an accurate picture of how your website is truly performing. 

What is referral spam?
Referral spam is a black hat SEO tactic, in which bots are used to send send multiple fake visits to your website. These visits are recorded in your data and falsely inflate your site session metric. What do spammers get out of this? Extra visits to their website. Every curious data collector who clicks on a link automatically provides traffic to the offending site. Sometime this means they can charge more for advertising on their site due to the falsely inflated site visitation, and other times they can serve up Malware so be cautious about clicking on unfamiliar links in your data!

How to spot referral spam?
The majority of these top 10 referral sources are spam. 
1. Login to your Google analytics account and navigate to the reporting tab.

2. On the left hand menu click on Acquisition.

3. Then select All Traffic.

4. In the dropdown select Referrals. Here you'll see a list of any site that has sent traffic to your website during the time period selected. 

What to look for:
- Visits with a 100% bounce rate.
- Sites with an average session duration under 1 second.
- Unfamiliar URLs, often worded to entice a click. 

What's a small business marketer to do?
Google is well aware of the issue and has been silent on any pending solutions. There are some great blogs that discuss advanced solutions for creating valid hostname and spam crawler filters. These strategies are a bit complex for the average marketer with no coding experience, but they are helpful in preventing spammer data from invading your metrics. Essentially you tell Analytics what constitutes a real referral for your site, and which ones should be blocked. This is a solid option for larger sites managing a ton of data. Need help setting it up? CC Communications has experience so contact us to learn how we can assist.

If your site only receives a modest amount of traffic each month, then it may be easier to filter the data and do the math yourself. It's a manual process, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to do this rather quickly. Here are the steps:

1. In the referral section of analytics make note of the total number of session being reported.

2. Above the data and to the right is the word advanced. Click that and a new filter section appears.

3. Select the following criteria.
- In the first dropdown choose Exclude.
- In the second dropdown choose Site Usage and then Average Session Duration.
- In the third dropdown select Less Than.
- In the field next to that type 1 (one). 

It should now look like this:

This filters out any site visits that were less than one second and provides you with a cleaner list to review. Keep in mind that this scrubs a lot of the spam, but not everything.

4. Next go through and identify which referrals are real. Add those session numbers together to get your actual number of legitimate referrals and then adjust your overall website session metric accordingly.

Hopefully this type of data corruption will soon be eradicated, but until it is, marketers must remain diligent to ensure accurate data is being reported. If you have any questions or need assistance contact our team at marketing@cccom.com.





Thursday, July 21, 2016

Regional YMCA website gets a fresh, mobile-ready start

Project Spotlight: Cleveland County Family YMCA 

CC Communications recently designed and launched a new website for the Cleveland County YMCA, a health and wellness center with five branch locations around the community. When redesigning this website, CC Communications implemented an events calendar, streamlined navigation, and a strategic content structure to showcase member stories throughout the site. This layout provides an enhanced, user-friendly experience and assists site visitors in quickly finding important information, no matter which branch location they plan to visit.
The new Cleveland County Family YMCA website designed by CC Communications.

CC Communications made several other improvements to the website including enhanced content for each branch location and a unique graphic design treatment customized for the Cleveland County YMCA, while adhering to the national YMCA brand standards. The site also utilizes the latest in responsive design technology to ensure a seamless experience for all mobile and tablet users.

The website was built using DotNetNuke (DNN), a robust and secure Content Management System providing businesses with an easier way to manage their online assets. CC Communications is also providing hosting services to maintain security and consistency of the new website.

Is your website overdue for an upgrade? Contact us today and get a complimentary site audit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Should Your Business Block AdBlockers?

There is a continuing divide between consumers and advertisers on the web.

On one hand, advertisers want and need to generate online revenue to help their business succeed. Why? Websites are one of the most lucrative communication tools to ever exist, and if they can't generate revenue, then their business will fail.

On the other hand are consumers who either dislike or outright hate ads. Online advertising has a messy history of being incredibly intrusive. Also consumers have to deal with poorly designed ads that use junky script or plugins to function. These ads can potentially take a lot of data/memory to run on a browser. This results in a slower browser experience, which will guarantee a high bounce rate and negatively impacts the chances a user would go back to that site.

Enter Ad Blockers 
The biggest one available to consumers is Adblock Plus, which currently holds bragging rights to being one of the most used add ons to virtually all major browsers, primarily Firefox and Google. Ad companies and businesses hate them. From their perspective, they exist solely on the function to deny these companies revenue. But what these companies don’t put into perspective is that Ad blockers exist for a reason.

The relationship between the average consumer and ad companies has turned sour. Adblock Plus isn’t a snake charmer who has lured customers away with false promises of easy and inconsequential web experiences. It was created to fill a market demand - to block what was seen as obtrusive advertising and very real, legitimate threats to web browsing security. And like any bad relationship, some companies take to extremes to try and hang onto their customers, and end up causing more damage.

What A Business Shouldn't Do
Forced whitelisting and denial of website access unless ad blockers are disabled will most likely push
users away. They will go somewhere else if they can find an alternative, especially when these methods lead to bigger problems.

Forbes requested all ad-blockers be disabled.
One of the more recent (and ironic) examples of this is Forbes, which made the decision to prevent users from accessing their website and articles if they had an ad blocker turned on. Visitors would receive a notice asking users to disable their ad blockers. Unfortunately, Forbes got hacked, and those users who turned off their blockers were almost instantly served ransomware from the site’s advertisements.

This was a huge slap in the face for users who turned off their pop up blockers, and many ad blocker users saw this as vindication that they were in the right to keep using ad blocking; online advertisements were simply not to be trusted.

Furthermore a recent report offers some circumstantial evidence showing that websites requiring whitelisting are actually seeing an overall decline in traffic.

Where do we go from here?
Some companies are already attempting to answer this question with efforts like better ad security and quality. It will likely take some time before trust is rebuilt with ad-blocking consumers, and since it seems Ad Blockers are here to stay, this may prove to be much easier said than done.

It might be worth considering whether ad companies should try a new approach to the way they handle their online advertising. Whether this will be done through persistence, technology, or creative innovation remains to be seen.

How can your business effectively navigate this ever-changing landscape of online advertising? Reach out to our team at CC Communications to learn more about best practices for online advertising. We can also help you explore other ways to effectively advertise online without fear of an ad blocker disrupting the delivery of your marketing messages.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The $40 Iceberg - Understanding the True Cost of Creating a Website

The $40 Iceberg - how much will your website cost?
Wondering how much it will cost you to build a new website? It's a simple question, and one we often hear at CC Communications, but the answer is a little more complex.

Let's try to answer the question with another question - How much does a house cost? Like so many other things in life, it all depends on your situation. Do you want to build a new home, or buy an existing one? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? What square footage do you need? What city are you considering? Which neighborhood? What style of home? What is the most you can spend? The list goes on.

Similarly personalized questions are raised when you need a website. What is the primary purpose of the website? Do you have an existing website that needs a fresh look? Or do you wish to build a brand spankin' new one? What style and branding does your website need? Where do you wish to set up your web presence (a.k.a. your domain name)? Do you want the ability to perform content updates yourself? Do you want to sell goods or services on your website? Do you want to target users on mobile devices? And perhaps the most important question: what is your budget? Ultimately, your budget determines what you can afford to buy.

You get what you pay for, after all. Not too long ago, the South African province of the Free State came under fire for spending a reported R140 million (about $15.5 million) on its provincial website's redesign (it was later reported to have actually cost R40 million, or about $4.5 million). The main source of the uproar? The website was built on a free blogging platform, with a theme that cost a staggering... $40. So, the government should have been sent a bill for $40, right?

While $4.5 million is a lot to spend on any website, we don't know what else was included in this price. The thousands of man-hours of planning, meetings, documentation, testing, and training were surely a factor. Perhaps there is an entire custom-built publishing system running behind the scenes that took two years to build and test. Perhaps the website ties into eight disparate data sources, each with its own set of peculiarities, protocols, and access methods. Perhaps there were hundreds of employees that needed to be trained on the new software, and this training was part of the cost.

A website is similar to an iceberg: the visible parts are but a fraction of the whole. There is so much more that happens beneath the surface that we don't see. While you don't need to spend $4.5 million on a new site, the cost of a decent website is rarely just the sum of its components.

Can CC Communications help you design the website that your business deserves? Contact us at Marketing@CCCom.com or call 704.761.4676.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

7 Tips to Consider in Your Online Marketing & Advertising Campaign

The world of online marketing and advertising can be extremely overwhelming, and finding means and methods to bring an eventual ROI can make your decision making process that much more difficult. Before you invest in future online marketing initiatives, consider these seven points to ensure you're making the best decisions for your business!

WHAT ONCE WORKED MIGHT NOT WORK AGAIN
Sometimes we reflect on the past as a way to determine what will happen in the future. What may have been an effective means to advertise your business five years ago may not be relevant now. Ask colleagues in your network about where they connect and learn about new marketing trends, and keep an eye on the marketing efforts of your competitors to see how they are dynamically adapting to new marketing technology.

DON'T FOCUS TOO MUCH ON PRICE
Our team constantly hears horror stories of marketing blunders from our clients. When outsourcing campaigns, they accepted the lowest bid to control costs, and realized too late that the money spent provided little, if any, return on investment. If you get something for free or at little cost, do not expect miracles. Think of it this way… If a doctor offers you a free or deeply discounted treatment, would you be willing to accept all risks associated and be comfortable with the procedure?

YOU GOTTA DO IT!
There's a misconception that because your competitor is participating in a new social media outlet, then you have to do it too. Before you make the leap into any new marketing channel make sure you've completely analyzed the overall benefits of the platform. Is your target audience participating in the network? Do your marketing efforts compliment the channel or does it come across more like advertising? Find the platform that works best for your business, make it great, and only then branch out to a new social outlet.

STAY IN TUNE WITH YOUR BRAND
Companies like Coca-Cola and Apple have done a fantastic job with their branding, marketing and advertising – Not only are these companies a household name, they're also brand consistent through all media types. You don’t have to spend a billion dollars a year in advertising to utilize their practices. Keep the look and feel of your ads consistent across all mediums or you may confuse the people you want to attract by giving the impression the ads are from two different companies. Find a designer or Charlotte marketing agency that you love (YES, we can help!) and entrust them/us with giving you a strong, appealing, and consistent message that can be well received across all advertising platforms.

DIVERSIFY
In today's marketing world, our social and communication culture is scattered and our attention spans are being taken in multiple directions. Here is a fun factoid: When one logs on to a website, their attention span averages 3.5 to 5 seconds. That's not a lot of time to make a bold statement. Again, do your homework and really find out where your customer and client base resides online. Are they active on LinkedIn? Do most come from search results? What are their online patterns? Are they responding well to your navigational cues and web design? Once you receive a baseline of information, you'll be able to make worthy decision of what's best for your business' marketing and advertising.

TRACK, TRACK, TRACK
Once you use an advertising source, are you doing anything to see how the campaign was received? At a minimum you should have Google Analytics, or a similar reporting source, integrated into your website. This can give you insight into who your visitors are, where they live, what device they use to access your site, and more. Research which websites are sending you the most web traffic and try to boost those numbers each month. You can also survey your site visitors via your enewsletter. Did site visitors make a purchase? Why or why not? How did they hear about you? How was their experience on your website? This customer experience intel will give you valuable intelligence for your future marketing initiatives.

GIVE IT TIME
On average, it takes people seven exposures to your business before they will take the step to engage. Keep providing consistent content across all your marketing channels and allow time for these efforts to flourish. Most brands do not see overnight success with their marketing channels. It requires thoughtful and long term strategies to get to your end goal. Be patient, post consistently and don't give up.

Looking for help? Connect with the CC Communications team to chat further. After two decades of providing online solutions in Charlotte and across the Southeast, we're confident we can serve your business effectively and in tune with your brand and combined goals!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spring Cleaning: 4 Ways to Freshen Up Your Website

When is the last time you gave your website a thorough review? Last week? Six months ago? Never? It can be time consuming to clean out the online cobwebs, but the health of your website is dependent on periodic maintenance. Here are four ways to ensure your website is up to date.

Mind Your Copyright
Scroll down to the footer of your website. If your copyright says 2015 or earlier, then it’s probably time for a deeper dive into your site content. Be sure to update your copyright to the current year. In fact, be sure to check for any instances where an older year may be showcased on your site. This could include catalogs, brochures, or other online sales collateral.

Update Your System
Just like your mobile phone's operating system needs to be continually updated, so too does your content management system. CMS providers are in a constant battle against hackers and malware, and they often release new updates with security patches. This isn't something you want to put off for a rainy day. Before you do this, be sure to back up your website first. If you're using any third party plugins on your site, then be sure to check them for pending updates as well.

Remove the 404s
It's important to periodically evaluate your on-site links. Depending on the size of your website, this could be a rather lengthy process, but it's worth it to identify any links that may be broken. Landing on a 404 page creates a poor user experience, which in turns is harmful to your SEO efforts.

Freshen Your Content
The more you update your website content, the more the search engines will index your page. Please note this doesn't automatically equate to higher ranking in the search results, but it does increase your opportunities to rank higher. The focus should be on providing site visitors with relevant, keyword-rich (not keyword-stuffed) content.

Do you need some assistance dusting off your website? Contact the team at CC Communications and learn how we can help! In case you don't follow CC Communications on Facebook or Twitter (hint, hint!), we invite you to connect with us. We're constantly publishing smart strategies to help you navigate the ever-changing online landscape and grow your business.

Have topics that you'd specifically like to learn about? Have tips you'd like to share? We welcome feedback on our posts, and are looking forward to engaging with you online!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

CC Communications Pulls Back the Curtain on Its Newest Website Creation


Heritage Fabrics new web design by CC Communications
CC Communications recently launched a redesigned website for Heritage Fabrics, a supplier of decorative fabrics for manufacturers, retailers, and the hospitality industry. The new website incorporates the latest in responsive design technology, making it scalable across any web-enabled device. To meet the need for a powerful, yet easy-to-use content management system, CC Communications utilized DotNetNuke (DNN), one of the foremost, web design tools available on the market. 

The new Heritage Fabrics website was designed to support sales efforts by showing more of the facility, displaying samples of their beautiful product line, and improving navigation by directing buyers to the appropriate sales rep. CC Communications implemented a modern, wide-format layout and integrated Google Analytics for tracking site usage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Streamline Your Google Analytics Experience

Simplifying and Customizing the Complexity of Google Analytics to Realize its True Power.

Google Analytics can be overwhelming. The best way to understand it fully is to organize the data in a meaningful manner. Luckily, the program has a number of built-in ways to easily achieve that. These features are designed to provide clarity to your metrics so you can ultimately make data driven decisions.

Setting up a Dashboard
A dashboard is a single page view where you can display information about your website. Widgets placed in your dashboard view display predetermined data. You can have up to 12 widgets in a dashboard, each one pulling in its own segment of information of your choice. A widget might provide an overview of your audience, your active visitors, their locations, the ratio between new and returning visitors, their traffic sources, and much more.


The Dashboards link in the menu on the left side of your Google Analytics offers two options: the Private link is a dropdown that gives you My Dashboard, your default dashboard. The +New Dashboard link lets you create one from scratch, and choosing the Starter Dashboard from the popup box, gives you something tangible to work with and refine.


Setting up Goals
Goals are things you can set up to track certain visitor behavior patterns. Suppose you have a new page set up with a special promotion, which you heavily promote from your home page. Your Goal could be to track which visitors successfully land on that page. For example, the Goal you set up might tell you that you've managed to convince 85% of your home page visitors, on average, to click over to the desired page.


Older versions of Google Analytics require you to click Actions on the top menu, then choose Edit, and in your profile settings you'll see a column marked Goals. There are four possible sets, and each can hold five goals. Select the set most applicable to you and edit accordingly. New versions of Google Analytics require you to select the "gear" button, top right of the page, then choose your account and website. This will take you to the correct section containing Goals.


Using Shortcuts

Shortcuts allow you to save your customized settings to a report so that the data is always viewed exactly as you wish. Shortcuts are easy to set up. Choose a regularly used Custom Report or Standard Report. Segment the report, filtering the data to appear as you wish, then simply click the Shortcut link above the report. Give your Shortcut a meaningful name and click OK to save it within the Home tab where you can access it later.


Need assistance? Contact CC Communications online or call 1-704-761-4676 to learn how we can help organize your analytics account to provide actionable insights for your businesses.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Is Your Website Missing Something?


Your website is typically the first line of defense when a potential client takes the step to explore your product or service options. Does your website encompass key assets to allow your website visitors to becoming raving clients?

Take a glimpse at the following 5 points that may take your website engagement to the next level.

Who You Are
Visitors like to know about who they'll be engaging for services. Make sure to include information that makes your business unique. What's standard to you could be a selling point to a website visitor. Be sure to make it personal.

Testimonials or Portfolios 
Writing engaging copy is half of the battle; having the opportunity to show your visitors and clients the products and services you provide is priceless. Be mindful to straddle the line and not come across as boastful or 'showy'. Illuminate your strengths and allow your visitors examples of how you can serve their needs and be the prime choice in the selection process.

Social Media Icons 
How you present your self on social media is important from the perspective of potential clients and brand watchers. Allow your visitors to keep the engagement juices flowing by displaying linked icons to your utilized social media channels to encourage connection. If a particular social media channel is not properly maintained, opt to leave that platform off of your website. An unattended social media account could indicate to 'likers' and followers that your business is no longer or your customer value and service standards are not streamlined and consistent.

Call to Action 
We know that it's imperative to have a contact page for interested visitors to further contact you. Equally as important is a strong Call to Action, or an interactive way for a visitor to continue connecting with you. A Call to Action could be an incentive to join an eClub or make an online purchase.

A Great Benefit 
There's no better way to position yourself as an expert than to offer your visitors an added bonus for coming to your website. Said benefit can be entry to an exclusive email list or an informative white paper. This will help market your business ever more and offers your visitors an unexpected extra.

Interested in learning more tips and tricks from the CC Communications team? We’d love to speak further with you! Contact Us via www.CCCom.com or directly at 704.761.4676.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Why is Responsive Design Important?


A diagram showing how responsive design works to make your website mobile friendly.If you've been following our blog, then most likely you have seen us use the term "responsive
design" a number of times - and for good reason. In 2016, it's a primary design strategy when creating or redesigning a website. If you’re unclear as to why responsive design is important, then here is a quick primer.

How Does it Work?
Responsive design, also known as a mobile-friendly website, ensures your website visitors experience a pleasant browsing experience, regardless of the web-enabled device they use to visit your website. Mobile phones, tablets, and desktops all come in different shapes and sizes, and a website with responsive design responds to the device you're using and automatically adjusts the site to best display in the device.

Why is Responsive Design so Important?
Do you have a smartphone? Do you use it often? I'm not a mind reader, but I'm willing to bet your answers to both questions are yes. We’ve all visited a website that was NOT Responsively Designed from our smartphone. There was a lot of scrolling, pinching, and resizing to view the entire website. Annoying, right?

The size of the smartphone market, which is estimated at 68% of Americans, makes it more crucial than ever to ensure you’re providing the best user experience. And as we’ve mentioned in prior posts, the better the user experience, the better your search engine optimization will be. This is one reason why Google gives search rank priority to any business with a mobile-friendly design.

How to Know if Your Site is Responsive?
There’s an online tool provided by Google, and you can use it to run a free test of your site. If your results come back with anything other than “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly,” then you’ll want to take the necessary steps required to get your website in line with today’s technology. Our team at CC Communications specializes in designing functional, visually appealing responsive design websites and we'd love the opportunity to speak with you about how our team can transform your business' online presence.

Connect with our team at www.CCCom.com/ContactUs for a no obligation analysis of your current web design. Ensuring you have a responsively designed website will be an investment into your future, put your business ahead of your competitors, and most of all will provide your website visitors and customers a pleasurable experience on your website.