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 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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.