Once considered an “outdated” form of marketing, email continues to prove itself time and time again as an effective and reliable channel. Email marketing can help businesses acquire 40 times more customers than social media. A B2B audience, in particular, ranks email as the third most influential resource of information after thought leaders and colleague word-of-mouth.

This is why consistent investment into email content should be standard for a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. Newsletters are one of the simplest ways to keep your brand on subscribers’ radars and continuously build stronger engagement.

What constitutes a newsletter? A newsletter is an email sent (most likely at a regular schedule) informing subscribers of relevant business updates. Content varies from customer-focused information such as activity reminders or new product releases to business-focused brand news.

Here are five elements to pay attention to when constructing a perfect newsletter.

1. First Impressions

Due to the importance of high open rates, first impressions are extremely important in email marketing. Open rates are the percentage of emails opened in comparison to the total volume you’ve sent. It’s a standard benchmark to measure and it affects campaign performance—after all, subscribers who don’t open what you send can’t engage with the content in your newsletters.

This is why to hit or move beyond the average email open rate of 17.92%, you need to pay attention to:

  • The email address you send campaigns from

Misrepresenting who you are by listing a vague email address risks having your mail sorted into the spam folder by email providers. This may be a violation of the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act, which requires you to clearly state who you are in your emails. 

  • The text preview, or header and first few lines

Some browser extensions provide a snapshot preview of the contents of an email when they arrive. Take extra care in writing the first few lines or choosing the first image.

  • The short phrase in your subject line

Subject lines are best kept short, clear, and inviting. The average recommended length is 35-50 characters—any more than this and email providers clip them short.

2. Copy

Which would you rather read from start to finish? A message that looks like it was copied and pasted and mass sent to everyone or something that uses your first name and looks crafted to appeal to your interests?

Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to the written content of your emails. 60% of marketers say data that provides contextual signals like location or weather is highly effective. Plus, personalization can improve conversion rates by 6%. Create different options for different customers, with newsletter content that varies according to the interests of each list segment.

In addition to the types of content you send, mind your writing style. Using online communication means you have to write for the web. That means:

  • Shorter paragraphs and sentences
  • Minimal jargon
  • Focus on a single audience per newsletter
  • Aim for a single goal to minimize distractions.

3. Layout

More than half of all emails are now opened on a mobile device, so the first thing to consider when laying out content is whether it’ll look good when read via smartphone. After that, you want to structure emails to present a natural flow of information, with images and text complementing each other to eventually lead towards a call-to-action.

Here are three email design layouts you can use.

  • One column – A simple layout designed to work on both desktop and mobile, only coded to be mobile-first. They usually adapt and scale, and contain bite-sized information to help users navigate easier.
  • Inverted pyramid – Begin with a large, engaging image. Follow it up with a value proposition that clearly communicates the benefits of reading, insert the rest of your content, and end with your CTA.
  • Zigzag – An angular design grid using color-blocking and tilted imagery acts as a guide pushing the reader towards the end of the email.

Source: Campaign Monitor

4. Images

Go big or go home? It isn’t that simple. With changes in screen width, diversification of devices and resolutions, and consumer browsing habits, finding the ideal image size isn’t as straightforward as before. While desktop and laptop resolutions have become larger and sharper, more emails are being opened on smaller mobile devices. Responsiveness is key.

A safe size for your larger images, though? The best width for your newsletter images is still 600px wide, making the legacy of Microsoft Outlook live on. However, you can go wider if you keep central visual elements in the middle and use the rest of the space for the background instead.

When choosing content to accompany each part of your newsletter content, such as company updates or product recommendations, think of social proof and lifestyle. You want your audience to see themselves in your content, not alienate them. For example, if subscribers are older, you won’t want to use images with teenagers or a different age demographic.

5. Calls to Action

A good call to action button improves click-through rates and assists in conversions. And yes, they aren’t just links included within your email body, they’re individual buttons positioned right where your reader can see them.

Call to action buttons normally don’t have much variation, but there’s a good reason for that. These buttons are already an established bit of web design and automatically register in viewers’ minds as clickable, so deviating from that consistency will cause confusion. What you need to do is make sure the text on them is clear and actionable, that they’re visible on the page, and that they look inviting.

You can place them near the end of your newsletter or beside each segment of content referring to it, such as in the case of news collections and product catalogs. You need at least one—or else, why are you sending newsletters at all?

Final Thoughts

Newsletters are simpler in scope than emails built to support a special campaign. However, invest the right amount of thought into their design and you can build lasting relationships with your subscribers—eventually converting them into fully paying customers.

Author Bio

Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital.

There are many website platforms that you can use to build your website. At Mountaintop, we have studied and built websites with most of these popular platforms. Our knowledge and experience have led us to one conclusion.

When it comes to designing, building, and managing websites, WordPress is the best platform to use. We are not alone in this assessment. 30% of the top 10 million websites use WordPress.

Here is a shortlist of statistical evidence that shows why WordPress websites rule the Internet:

  • 48% of Top 100 Blogs under the Technorati advertising platform run using WordPress.
  • 22% of all newly-registered business website domains in the United States use WordPress.
  • More than 74 Million websites use WordPress.

For these reasons and more, we strongly recommend WordPress as the website platform for our clients.

9 Benefits Of Using WordPress For Your Website

Over the years, clients have come to us complaining about their current website platform. Among the common complaints were as follows:

  • The website was hacked; in some cases, the website was infiltrated by cyber-criminals multiple times.
  • The website frequently broke down or did not function properly.
  • The website was difficult to update and manage.

Our first recommendation is to transfer the website to the WordPress platform. As expected, despite the long list of problems with his website, the response from the client is always:

“Why should we transfer to WordPress?”

1. WordPress Is Free

Let us start with an easy one – WordPress is for free! You can download WordPress, install it, and customize it according to your needs without spending a dime.

However, you still have to pay for your domain name and web hosting which are needed to install WordPress.

The domain name is what Internet searchers will type on their browser’s address bar in order to visit your website.

An example of a domain name is www.mountaintopwebdesign.com.

The web host is the platform which houses the servers where all of the assets and files of your website are located.

2. Easily Customizable

Are you thinking of starting a blog site? How about a business website or an e-commerce website? WordPress has thousands of website themes or templates to choose from.

These templates are highly customizable. A standard WordPress template comes with its own panel which showcases different options that allow us to change the look of your website.

We can play around with the various color selections and match them with the ideal background. Likewise, we can design eye-catching website sliders for your homepage. A slider is also known as a slide show.

This is a great tool for highlighting the key selling points of your business. We can display your signature products or perhaps a few powerful testimonies from your regular customers.  

We can also adjust the “feel” of your website. WordPress comes will plugins which function like apps. Each plugin has a specific function that can introduce a new feature to your website.

3. Google LOVES WordPress

When he was still a software engineer for Google, Matt Cutts referred to WordPress as one of the best software for the search engine giant. WordPress will help your website move up the search rankings because it is designed to accommodate SEO principles.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of using various techniques and strategies in order to rank high in the organic or natural search results of the search engine.

By using WordPress for your website, you are already several steps ahead of the competition. This is because WordPress websites are constantly upgraded with plugins that help optimize content, functionality, and overall user experience.

What are the key ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm?

  • Website Speed
  • Navigability
  • Image Optimization
  • Text Optimization
  • Mobile- Responsiveness

These are all made possible with WordPress.

4. Easy to Manage

WordPress knows that not all of its users are tech-savvy. That is why they built-in a management system that functions to update the platform whenever a new version, plugin or program is available.

Of course, as small business owners, the majority of your waking hours should be dedicated to running the day-to-day activities of your business.

Even if WordPress can send you automatic notifications of software updates, because of your busy schedule, you might overlook it.

This is the reason we recommend that our clients avail of our Extreme WordPress Care Plans.

These are programs which we developed to help clients focus on the demands of their business by leaving their WordPress website to the care of our highly-experienced and capable, professional website designers.

Put simply, we will manage your WordPress website for you. From updating plugins to improve functionality, mobile-responsiveness, site speed, and security, you can sleep soundly every night knowing your business is in good hands.

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

5. WordPress Is One of the Safest and Most Secure Website Platforms

A lot of responsibility comes with being the most popular website platform on the Internet. With more than 23% of websites running on WordPress, that means hackers are working overtime to break through your defenses.

Hackers will constantly try to find vulnerable areas on your website which they can use as entry points to steal your valuable data.

WordPress is not oblivious to this and regularly issues updates on security plugins and website system upgrades. Unused and outdated plugins can easily be overridden by hackers and before you know it, your data is all gone.

Even though WordPress makes it easy to update plugins, fortifying your website is a more sensitive and technical matter. This is another reason why you should seriously consider our Extreme WordPress Care Plans.

Sign up for one of our Extreme WordPress Care Plans and we will protect your website’s assets from the consistent, almost daily attacks from these malicious hackers.

6. WordPress Can Accommodate Various Types of Media

Gone are the days when a website was primarily used as an online marketing brochure. Today’s websites are more dynamic and interactive. It is no longer enough to pack your web pages with optimized text content. The Internet community is more demanding. They want high-quality images and videos.

WordPress has an answer for all of your multimedia concerns. It has a built-in media up-loader which can accommodate different types of media.

Do you want an interactive and compelling homepage that will help you generate leads and increase conversion rates?

We can embed your explainer YouTube video on the home page so you can get more views and opportunities for sales. We can do the same for your Instagram photos and SoundCloud audio files.

7. WordPress Is Mobile-Responsive

As we mentioned earlier, mobile-responsiveness is a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm.

What does it mean to be mobile-responsive?

It means that when someone clicks on your URL from a mobile device, your website should set up nicely on his screen. If a mobile user has to zoom-in to read your content, chances are he will leave and go to your competitor.

If your website is not responsive to mobile devices, not only will you lose potential business opportunities but Google will penalize you down the search rankings.

WordPress has designed templates that are fully mobile-responsive. These templates are not only beautiful to look at but also highly-functional. We can set and improve these designs so that they can set up faster and more efficiently on mobile devices.

8. Do You Want to Blog? WordPress Has a CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System. This means you can publish blogs on your WordPress website.

Why should you blog anyway?

People who go on the Internet are always searching for content. And the cornerstone of any content marketing strategy is blogging. Studies have reported the following benefits of regular blogging for businesses:

  • 23% of Internet time is spent reading blogs.
  • Companies that blog have 97% more indexed pages.
  • Websites that have a blog page have 434% more indexed pages.
  • 61% of consumers have made their buying decision after reading a blog.
  • 81% of consumers from the US trust advice from a blog.

For your blogging strategy to be effective, you should be publishing content at least 16 times a month.

If this schedule is too much for your busy schedule, outsource it to us. Many of our blogs have been cited by renowned websites such as UpCity as among the best in the U.S!  

9. Integrate Your Social Media Accounts with WordPress

Before social media, a restaurant that was opening for business had to spend thousands of dollars to prepare and publish marketing collaterals such as press releases, full-page ads, advertorials, product shots, radio air-time, and hire an expensive publicist to put everything together.

With social media, traditional marketing channels have become obsolete. That restaurant would only have to open a Facebook page to build followers, a Twitter account to mass market special promotions, and an Instagram page to highlight the main products.

At very little cost!

Add to that the ability of your WordPress website to integrate your social media accounts. It would be easier to distribute content from your website to your various social media accounts so you can have more visits.

Your website has become a central online hub for your business. Your digital marketing strategies can create inbound traffic that is necessary to drive more traffic to your website. It is an effective way to open up your sales funnel and potentially convert followers to paying customers.

Conclusion

The Internet is home to billions of consumers searching for content every single day. In order to capitalize on its available opportunities, your business should have a website.

And you should only settle for the best website platform on the Internet – and that is WordPress.

If you are thinking of setting up a WordPress website, give us a call and avail of our free 30-minute consultation. We will let you know how we plan to design and manage your website so it can deliver the best results for your business.

If you are not happy with your current website platform, transfer to WordPress! We will help you get started!

the journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain

While many employees spend their free time daydreaming of becoming financially independent, the entrepreneur is working to make the dream a reality. That is why entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature.

Entrepreneurs are willing to take that all-important first step of breaking free from the chains of the 9-to-5 grind and take command of their of their own destiny. Instead of driving someone else’s business, they go behind the wheel and follow the course they have charted for their own business success.

Yet, sometimes these very same attributes – ambition, drive, and dedication – can become an entrepreneur’s own worst enemies.

They end up taking on too many tasks most of which are administrative in nature. As a result, a big chunk of their waking hours are spent – rather, wasted – attending to functions that have no direct contribution to their bottom line.

The workday becomes unproductive. The essential tasks or the core functions of the business are left unattended. Goals are not met. Business targets become farther away today compared to yesterday.

By taking on non-essential tasks, the entrepreneur ends up working for his/her business instead of on his/her business. Ironically, the entrepreneur has become an employee of his/her own business.

Is there a way or a process the entrepreneur can use so he/she can focus on the main functions of the business without overlooking the administrative tasks?

The Solution: Outsource Tasks And/Or Services!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you rather spend 2 hours filtering your Inbox or working on a client’s project?
  • Would you like it if your phone keeps ringing every 30 minutes while you are working on your client’s project?
  • Would it be okay with you if the Internet provider cut its service because you unwittingly forgot to pay the latest invoice?

If you answered “No” to these questions, it is time for you to consider outsourcing tasks of your business.

Outsourcing is the process of delegating or transferring predetermined tasks or functions to a third-party service provider.

You can read more about the benefits of outsourcing in our article “How Outsourcing Tasks Can Save You Tons Of Money – And Build Your Business”. In the article, we presented an accounting of how much money you can save through outsourcing.

Essentially, outsourcing is the ideal strategy for entrepreneurs, especially those in the start-up stage, because it is a low-cost, high-value solution. From the article, you will come to understand that with outsourcing, costs are easily managed.

Outsourcing will present you with options that you can use to stretch your finances without compromising the quality of goods and services.

FTE Vs. Outsourced Talent: Which Is The Better Option?

Cost savings are possible because you are taking advantage of comparative advantages that are generated by outsourcing foremost of which is labor.

With outsourcing, you are not hiring full-time employees or FTEs. Instead, you are contracting the services of qualified people or agencies. This distinction between FTE and contracted services is very important!

Let’s compare the FTE and the outsourced talent:

Particulars:FTE:Outsourced Talent:
Rate/Hour (Minimum)$18$8
Work Hours/Day8Flexible
Work Days/Week5 to 6Flexible
Paid Benefits:YesNo
Total Cost:$27/hour$8

As you can see, flexibility is the key differentiator between an outsourced talent and an FTE. When you contract services, you are not obligated by law to pay a minimum wage or designate the mandated work hours per week.

This makes it possible to be more financially flexible with the outsourced talent compared to hiring an FTE.

Here are some real-world examples:

  • Contract the services of a virtual assistant who can manage your administrative tasks 10 hours a week.
  • Outsource content writing services and pay the outsourced talent on a per word or per productive hour basis.
  • Outsource web development/management services to Mountaintop Web Design and pay fixed charges on a monthly basis.

By agreeing on the conditions for payment, you are assured of higher productivity and better quality of work.

According to a study that was presented by productivity coach Steve Pavlina, the average American office worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive work every day.

That is 90 minutes out of 480 total work minutes every day or a productivity rating of only 19%! Yet, America remains the strongest economy in the world.

What happened to the remaining 390 minutes? According to Pavlina, those hours are spent surfing the Internet, taking extended water cooler/coffee breaks,  napping, checking their cell phones, and reading the news.

Guess what? Those hours are paid. This means every time an FTE chit-chats with a another FTE about the latest Netflix movie, you are paying for those minutes.

By outsourcing, you are also increasing your level of productivity because now you can place greater focus on the main enterprise of your business.

A study presented by the Harvard Business Review showed that at most, people can only maintain 100% focus on a given task for 90 minutes. After completing the task, you have to rest the mind for at least 10 minutes.

Assuming an 8-hour work schedule, this means that by outsourcing tasks, you can target 4 to 5 tasks to accomplish every day. That is 360 minutes out of 480 minutes per day or a productivity rating of 75%!

In contrast, a fully-paid FTE who can tender only 90 minutes of productive time per day will possibly only accomplish 1 task per day.

Which Tasks Should You Outsource?

Hopefully, at this point, we have convinced you of how outsourcing can build your business. The question we will answer in this section is which tasks you should outsource.

In the future, we will present a more detailed and comprehensive article on how to take a strategic approach to outsourcing that can scale up your business. For now, we will show you how to identify the tasks that you should outsource in order to streamline costs and increase productivity.

You will need to answer these questions:

  • Which tasks are non-essential or not directly related to my business’ main enterprise?
  • Which tasks will require a higher level of expertise and greater experience?
  • Which tasks are repetitive in nature?
  • Which tasks do I have the tendency to overlook or forget?
  • Which tasks do I greatly dislike doing?

From there, you will probably come up with the same or similar tasks that we have outlined below:

1. Administrative Tasks

For many entrepreneurs, administrative tasks are the necessary evils of running a business. These tasks are categorized as non-essentials, meaning they are not directly related to your business’ main enterprise. However, they play an essential role because administrative tasks keep your business organized and running.

Examples of administrative tasks that you should outsource:

  • E-mail Filtering
  • Calendar Management
  • Appointment Setting
  • Phone Handling
  • Preparing Reports
  • Limited Research
  • Database or CRM Management
  • Bookings and Reservations
  • Preparation of Limited Communication

2. Technical/Specialized Skills

Your business may need to introduce new products and services that require greater skill, a higher level of expertise, and longer tenure. These are skills that you cannot become proficient at simply by watching YouTube videos or reading a “For Dummies” instructional. Otherwise, the quality of work will suffer.

Examples of technical/specialized skills that you should outsource:

  • Website Design/Management
  • Digital Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Content Writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Software App Development
  • Transcription Services
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3. Customer Support Services

Many businesses stunt their growth because they are only focused on new market development. In so doing, they neglect their current market base or end users of their products or services.

Don’t forget your current end users. They are already your customers. The cost of maintaining them is lower than creating new markets for your products and services. And the returns are much higher because your current end users already made the decision to choose you over the competition.

Having great customer service assures your existing end users that their needs and concerns are always met and addressed right away.

Examples of Customer Support Services that you should outsource:

  • Inbound Phone Support
  • Technical Support Services
  • Email Support
  • After-Sales Surveys or Outbound Call Support
  • Chat Support
  • Content Moderation Services

4. Back-Office Functions

It’s called the back-office because the people who work here are not seen but otherwise play a valuable role in running your business. You can outsource these tasks to qualified third-party service providers and still get great results.

Examples of back-office functions that you should outsource:

  • General Accounting
  • Payroll Preparation
  • Employee Benefits Administration
  • Human Resources Management – Recruitment, interviews, testing, evaluation, and selection

Conclusion

To better understand the value of outsourcing, let’s delve into the mind of the entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs or to be more specific, small to medium scale business owners, are limited by their resources. Even the most successful ones do not have the benefit of liquidity compared to large scale businesses. This is, of course, part of the growth process.

As a small business owner, the immediate challenge is to maintain liquidity before achieving profitability. Effective cash flow management is very important. Thus, an entrepreneur strives to keep operations as lean as possible.

Instead of hiring employees to help him/her run the show, they take on most, if not all of the tasks of the business.

Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell there is nothing they can’t do. Like a superhero, an entrepreneur will take on any challenge and believe they can win it. The reality is, victories are only short-term.

Over the long-run, the number of unproductive workdays has accumulated to a point that the business starts to suffer.

Your best option is to outsource specific tasks or functions. Not only will outsourcing services greatly reduce the costs of running a business but the strategy will help you increase productivity without compromising the quality of work.

If you enjoyed this article and know people who would greatly benefit from it, please feel free to share!

And if you would like to know how Mountaintop can help you get started on your own outsourcing solution, please do not hesitate to give us a call. You can consult with us for 30 minutes free of charge.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

How do businesses start? It all starts with an idea. That light bulb moment is triggered by a moment of inspiration. You have an idea for a product or a service that addresses the needs of a specific market. You believe that you have the experience and expertise to turn your idea into a product with a price that people are willing to pay for.

The next question is going to be a bit more tricky:

“Do you have the experience and expertise to get your product or service in front of the people who may find value in it?”

How Much Should You Spend To Market Your Business?

Marketing is an important function of every business. It helps you build your brand, bring awareness to your products and services, and enhances your reputation as a valuable resource in the industry.

However, in times of economic difficulty, marketing is quite often the first business activity to be cut. This is especially true for small business owners where capital is tight and access to funding is very limited.

According to a survey conducted by HubSpot, securing an adequate budget is the third biggest challenge in marketing.

Small businesses are hesitant to allocate more resources to fund marketing campaigns. Their focus is to keep the business afloat. This means paying off their monthly costs of operations, suppliers, and creditors. Savings are set aside to tide the business over in the event the stream of income slows down to a trickle.

The question is, “How much should you spend to market your business?”

A study conducted by Sageworks revealed that on average, a small business spends an estimated 1% of its annual gross revenues for marketing and advertising activities.

Thus, if a small business on average generates annual gross revenue of $350,000, the owner or proprietor would set aside 1% or $3,500 to take care of its marketing activities for the year.

Is $3,500 a lot of money to spend on marketing?

Alternatively, is $3,500 enough to effectively support a marketing campaign?

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, that’s not much”. Meanwhile, others may be thinking, “Wow! That’s a lot! I can’t afford that!”

The truth is marketing does not have to break the bank. There are ways, methods, and techniques that you can use to ensure your marketing campaign does not lose its stride.

Building The Foundation Of A Cost Effective Marketing Campaign

Before we discuss the best ways to market your business without breaking the bank, it is important to build a solid foundation for your marketing campaign to stand on.

Without a solid foundation, your platform will crumble and fail. The pillars of the foundation are processes that you must undertake before actively working on your marketing strategy.

1. Conduct Research

Research gives your marketing activity direction. The purpose of research is to collect information that will give you valuable insights on your target market; the demographics, likes and dislikes, demand preferences, and tastes.

You need research to help you identify trends and patterns; uncover the latest developments in the industry, potential growth areas as well as risk factors. Research helps you determine what your campaign should be about; its purpose and objectives.

2. Create a Buyer’s Profile

A buyer’s profile is simply a summary of characteristics, attributes, and behavioral patterns that define who your audience is. It will give laser-like focus to your marketing strategies; you know who your market is, their needs, interests, and concerns.

What information should be included in a buyer’s profile?

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Educational Attainment
  • Profession/ Occupation
  • Income Bracket
  • Civil Status
  • Number of Dependents
  • City
  • Preferred Social Media Network

3. Define Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Some marketers refer to the UVP as the USP or Unique Selling Proposition. Although they essentially mean the same thing, we prefer to use “Value” instead of “Selling” because the word has greater significance and meaning when it comes to brand building.

As the term implies, UVP refers to your unique offering to your target market. It should answer the question, “Why should you choose me over the competition?” There must be something about your business that will influence the decision-making ability of your target market.

4. Focus on Building Your Brand

This is the third time we have mentioned brand building in this article – and it may not be the last! We cannot simply overemphasize the importance of building your brand. By brand building, we don’t mean just logos and catchy taglines.

Your brand is how your market perceives your business. It is a gradual transition from “what you are” to “who you are”. As such, it is a process that will take time and consistent effort.

All of the tools, techniques, strategies, and processes that you plan to incorporate in your marketing campaign must be aligned with your brand.

5. Identify Your Marketing Objective

“What do I hope to accomplish with our marketing campaign?” This is the underlying question that must be answered by your marketing objective.

A marketing campaign can have different objectives:

  • Build a trustworthy reputation in the industry
  • Acquire followers
  • Promote business, products, and services
  • Generate Leads
  • Increase sales conversion rates
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Drive more inbound traffic to the website

Ideally, you should only have one objective in order to remain focused. However, you can break down your singular objective into several smaller goals.

For example:

Primary Objective – Increase search rankings

Smaller Goals:

  • Acquire followers
  • Generate Leads
  • Build a trustworthy reputation in the industry
  • Drive more inbound traffic to the website

6. Monitor, Track, and Evaluate Performance

Take advantage of the availability of online analytics such as Google Analytics and the built-in analytics in your social media pages. By monitoring, tracking, and evaluating performance, you will have a better idea if your campaign will deliver the desired outcome.

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10 Best Ways To Market Your Business Without Breaking The Bank

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing has grown to become one of the most powerful and influential processes in the marketing toolbox. The reason is simple: People are regularly searching for great content.

  • Content can be in the form of blogs, curated articles, videos, images, and other types that can effectively deliver your UVP. Focus on creating great content. This means content that is useful, informative, fresh, engaging, and relevant.
  • Writing blogs and curating articles will only cost you time. Long-form blogs or those with a word count of 2,000 up work best in getting higher search rankings. Including research and rough drafts, it will take you approximately 3-4 hours to write a 2,000-word blog.
  • Start out with two blogs per week. If your goal is to generate leads, your target should be to produce 16 blogs per month.
  • Make sure your blogs are optimized with keywords. Use a free online keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner.

2. Social Media Marketing

Social media is an effective channel for distributing your online content. First, it caters to a gigantic population of more than 3 Billion users every day. Second, opening a social media business page will not cost you a cent.

However, not all social media networks function in the same way. After all, these are communities.

  • Choose 2-3 platforms that best support your type of business. For example, if you are selling highly-visual merchandise such as smartphones or food, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest would work best for you.
  • Set a posting schedule. The frequency of posting is an important component in social media marketing. Once you have built up a good number of followers, make sure you are always top-of-mind. Post at least once a day. Use Buffer which is a free online social media scheduling tool.

3. Email Marketing

According to a study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric, email marketing generates the highest ROI of all online marketing channels.

Compared to social media marketing, direct mail, and paid search which have an ROI of 28%, 27%, and 25% respectively, the ROI for email marketing has been measured at 122%.

  • Build a good-sized list of subscribers. To make this happen, come up with a good Call-to-Action (CTA) such as a free e-book or consultation.
  • Segment your mailing list. Categorize your subscribers based on need, demographics, or online behavior patterns.
  • Focus on high-value content. Newsletters are short-form content; usually, no more than 300 words. Since you have segmented your list, focus on delivering content that directly addresses their specific need.

4. Use Online Search Engine Directories

A study by Google showed that 80% of Americans prefer to use search engine directories to find local businesses. More than that, the same Google study showed that 50% of the respondents visited the local business on the day itself.

What’s in it for the local business? 18% of local businesses who were found on an online search engine directory were able to close the sale! Registering your business in an online search engine directory is a free and easy way to get discovered.

You can read more about online search engine directories and how they can benefit your business in our articles, “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?” and “How Can Retail Locations Benefit From A Strong Local Presence”.

5. Consider Paid Advertising

Paid advertising methods like PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising can give your search rankings an immediate boost because whoever clicks your ad will find themselves on your landing page. With PPC, you only pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.

Find out more about the benefits of paid advertising in our article, “SEO Vs. PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business?”

6. Build Partnerships

The late great sales guru, Joe Girard, popularly advocated his protagonist approach when negotiating deals.

Girard believed that while parties in a negotiation have different intents, they have a common goal: to land the best arrangement. Therefore, instead of opposing one another, why not help each other?

You can apply the same ideology in marketing your business.

For example, in a food business, suppliers sell you their raw materials to produce your menu items. They want you to succeed so that you will buy more supplies from them. Ask them if they are willing to sponsor a promotional activity.

For example, ask your beverage supplier to provide you with a few cases for free to support the promo. In exchange, allow the supplier to post advertising materials in your restaurant.

7. Reach Out to Your Community

For local businesses, your immediate captive market is the community where you are located. Reach out to them. Let them know how your business can address their needs.

Here are a few examples:

  • If you own a gym business, schedule group workouts for families and friends at the local community center. Most people are intimidated by the thought of walking inside a gym. Bring the gym to them and start building relationships within the community.
  • Look for other local businesses in the area that offer products and services which are complementary to your own. Propose a cross-marketing arrangement. For example, a cake shop owner can set up a cross-marketing arrangement with a flower shop owner.

8. Attend Business Forums and Trade Shows

Business forums and trade shows are effective venues for marketing and promoting your company. Some organizers will charge you a fee in order to participate in the event.

However, these events attract potential end-users of your products and services. The fee could be worth it considering that you are given the opportunity to position your business directly in front of prospective clients or customers.

9. Attend Networking Events

Most networking events are by invitation only. You may have to become a member of an organization to be invited. Another avenue you can take is to join focus groups in your local community and even those within your social media circles.

Networking is a great way to expand your contacts list. Don’t approach the event with the 4C mindset: “Calling Card Collection Contest”. Instead, use the 4B approach: “Build the Best connections that will Benefit your Business”.

You can learn more about networking in our article, “How Can Networking Help My Business Grow”.

Conclusion

We saved the best for last.

Number 10 – Outsource Your Marketing

Why is this your best option for marketing your business?

First, by outsourcing your marketing, you free up time so you can dedicate your precious hours to managing the core functions of your business. As we mentioned earlier – creating content, posting on social media, and measuring results – all of these activities take time.

Second, you leave the implementation in the hands of experienced and well-trained experts. They will do everything – research, content optimization, website management, social media calendar, and content writing – for you. You can be assured of professional quality work every time!

Third, you save more money! If you set up an in-house marketing team, you will have to pay your personnel salaries, benefits and allocate expenses for rent, supplies, utilities, and additional bandwidth.

When you outsource, the service provider takes care of everything. You only have to pay for the services rendered. In many cases, the charges are negotiable. The best outsourcing service providers understand your needs and will render work with respect to your budget.

It is important to outsource marketing only to qualified third-party service providers like us. We know what we are talking about. In fact, we wrote about budget-friendly marketing strategies in our article “How To Set Up A Low Budget But Highly Effective Digital Marketing Campaign”.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you market your business without breaking your bank account, please feel free to give us a call. We will give you a free consultation for up to 30 minutes!

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If you Google “Slider Image”, most of the URLs listed on the SERP will tell you why you shouldn’t have it on your website. We are here to tell you otherwise. Setting up a slider image on your website can be your game changer. Contrary to its naysayers, the slider image can improve User Experience (UX). It can help you achieve your digital marketing goals. Done correctly, it can give your website a boost up the website rankings. In many ways, the slider is the most important image on your website. It is more important than your logo.

What Is A Slider?

A slider is a series of images that appear in sequence. It is sometimes referred to as a “Slideshow” or a “Carousel”. The slider is usually located on the Homepage of a website. There are sliders whereby the images are automatically rotated by a timer.

No doubt you’ve come across sliders on some of the websites you have visited. For example, a website for a hotel can have a slider that features images taken from different locations.

You could start out viewing an image of the hotel’s entrance or reception area. After a few seconds, the image will change, and you may find yourself admiring the hotel’s main dining restaurant or one of its luxury suites.

There are also slideshows that can be controlled manually. The advantage of a manually-controlled slideshow is that you can take your time in viewing the image. You can skip the images that don’t interest you and spend more time on those which have greater importance.

What Are The Criticisms Vs The Slider Image?

There is a wide range of opinion among professional web designers on whether your website should have a slider image or not.

Here are four reasons why some website designers believe your website should not have a slider image:

  1. Sliders Muddle Your Marketing Message – According to a study conducted by Jakob Nielsen for the Nielsen group, the use of a slider can muddle your marketing message because most people view them as advertising.
  2. Sliders Do Not Enhance User Experience – In the same study, Nielsen revealed that a slider can result in a condition known as “banner blindness”. This means users do not see or understand the information detailed in the slides. As a consequence, the added confusion may just push the visitor to leave your website.
  3. Sliders Can Affect Your Page Loading Speed – For the reason that sliders use high-resolution images, some web designers point out that this could seriously impact your site’s loading speed.
  4. Sliders Will Affect Mobile Responsiveness – Another criticism is that some slider configurations will not set up well on mobile devices and compromise your site’s level of responsiveness.

The web designers who are against the slider conclude that it will have a negative impact on SEO performance. The use of a slider will affect UX, slow down page loading speed, and mobile responsiveness and therefore may push you down further in Google’s search rankings.

The Benefits Of Having A Slider Image On Your Website

While we do respect the opinions of our fellow professional web designers, at Mountaintop, we have an opposing viewpoint. We believe your website should have a slider image on the Homepage.

Here are 4 good reasons why your website should have a slider image:

  1. A Slider Can Organize And Fine-Tune Your Marketing Message – As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. You can convey messages more clearly through images than text. According to studies, only 10% of people who read and hear information can remember it 3 days later. In contrast, more than 65% of people who see images that are relevant to the information will retain it even 3 days later.
  2. A Slider Can Enhance The Overall Visual Appeal Of Your Homepage – A study conducted by Stanford University which involved 2,500 respondents showed that 46.1% found website design is a serious indicator of credibility. A slider that is composed of beautiful, high-resolution images will certainly catch the eye of its visitor, compel him/her to stay longer, and potentially explore the other pages of the website.
  3. A Slider Can Improve Site Functionality – What do you want the slider to achieve for your website? Do you want the slider to provide information about your business? Is the slider intended to be a moving portfolio of your products and services? Will the slider be used to enhance your credibility by rotating the various testimonies from your clients? Regardless of what you want the slider to do, it will get the job done because everything will be in one place. The visitor will not go anywhere else.
  4. A Slider Will Improve User Experience – As we mentioned in our previous point, a visitor who clicks on your slider will be kept in one place. Everything that he/she needs to know can be found on the slider. It will make the search process much easier for your site visitor. The slider will keep them engaged on your website. Its contents will help them decide whether they should explore your website further or not. We also mentioned earlier in this article that you can have a manual slider instead of an automatic slider on your Homepage. This will help improve UX because the user can take his/her time on the image with the highest perceived value.

There is a fifth benefit for having a slider on your website. We saved the best for last!

By having a slider image set up on your Homepage, you will significantly increase your conversion rates!

Is not increasing conversion rates the ultimate objective of all the lead generation work you do?

Businesses invest in digital marketing campaigns so they can drive more traffic to their website. Once you have encouraged more website visits, the challenge now is to convert interest into sales. A well-designed, well-thought-out slide image can get this done for you.

A study conducted by Brian Massey of Conversion Specialists revealed that having a slider with optimized images on your Homepage will increase your website’s conversion rates.

Anti-slider proponents recommend using static images instead of slider images. However, in Massey’s tests, sales conversions using slider images increased by 61%!

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The View From The Mountaintop: How To Have A Slider Image That Delivers Results

Like we mentioned at the start of this article, done correctly, a slider can help you achieve your marketing objectives. We have done exactly this for our clients at Mountaintop.

The use of images has been proven to be an effective vehicle for delivering your marketing message. Visual or image-based content grabs attention faster than text-based content.

Here’s a simple test: Which would compel you to take action? An image of the amenities and features that can be found in a hotel’s regular room or a text description of the same room?

Not even the best wordsmith on the planet can beat a high-resolution image of the hotel room.

Now, that we have the visitor’s attention, let us keep him/her interested by rotating the image. From the bedroom, let us show him/her an image of the bathroom then segue to the balcony with a view overlooking the ocean.

Words enough will not do justice on how beautiful the resort is. However, pictures will come closer. Perhaps close enough that the visitor will take the next step and make an inquiry.

We have done our own studies on the pros and cons of having a slider image on the Homepage of a website. The points that have been raised by those who are against the use of a slider do have some merit and were considered.

Our studies have led us to come up with the best and most effective ways to design a slider image without the negative effects cited by other web designers.

Here is a rundown of how we can help you have a slider image that will enhance the visibility, functionality, and potentially give your website a boost up the search rankings:

1. Define the Purpose of the Slider Image –

We discussed this in the section discussing the benefits of having a slider image on your Homepage. Without purpose, your marketing message will be lost.

Digital marketers always begin the messaging process by identifying its purpose. What message do you want to convey to your audience? You can only have one message. If you focus on multiple messaging, this will only serve to confuse your audience.

In order to avoid confusion and “banner blindness”, start out by defining the purpose of your slider image.

If you are in online retail, you can use the slider image to show your top-selling or most popular products. If you are in the consultancy business, use the slider image to highlight the testimonies of your clients. A restaurant can have a slideshow to give viewers information on their daily specials or promos.

2. Use Relevant Images –

Once you determined the purpose of the slide image, find images that are relevant to your marketing message.

Don’t try to be “fancy” or “artsy” by using images that are very beautiful and aesthetic but are largely symbolic of your message. Website visitors don’t want to be subjected to tests or guesswork.

Remember, the attention span of a person is less than that of a goldfish! When it comes to content, get to the point right away. You also have the option of combining image and text to drive home your message clearer and faster.

3. Use High-Resolution Images But… –

Web designers will recommend using high-resolution images for aesthetic purposes. However, it will slow down page loading speed because the file will be larger and harder to download.

Our solution is to still use high-resolution images for the slideshow. However, use smaller-sized images so that the page will still load fast.

4. Switch from Slide to Motion-Fade –

One of the criticisms of the web designers against the use of slider images is that it affects UX by distracting viewer’s attention.

Based on our studies, the culprit is the transition that occurs from slide-to-slide. For some viewers, the transition comes across as too “sudden” or “sharp”.

Our solution is to use a motion fade instead of a slide-to-slide transition. This will lead to a smoother viewing experience. The slow fadeout will give the viewer notice that the slide is in the middle of a transition.

He/she will be able to adjust the thought process and prepare for the next slide much more effectively.

5. Consider a Manual Slide Image –

We have mentioned the benefit of a manual slide throughout this article. It is worth mentioning yet again that using a manual slider image will improve UX by giving the user more control.

If your purpose is to promote your products and services, a manual slider will give the viewer more time to go through your content.

6. Beta Test Your Images –

Not surprisingly, the slide image that garners the highest number of clicks is the first slide.

Therefore, it is important to run a beta test to find out which one of your images generates the most favorable feedback or best achieves the desired result. Using the right image will help set the tone for the rest of your slider image.

Conclusion – Why Your Slider Image Is More Important Than Your Logo

A logo is largely a symbol that best encapsulates what your brand is all about. However, in some cases, the meaning of the logo may take some time for consumers to decipher.

For example, Starbuck’s logo. The meaning behind the smiling mermaid has been a compelling discussion point for several years. It’s relevance to brewed coffee cannot be immediately determined.

A slider image gets your message across effectively. Again, done properly, it will help support the purpose and objectives of your business. Unlike a logo, a slider image is more flexible.

While you can change a logo, the process will not be as easy because you have to be sure it will not detract from your branding value proposition.

However, with a slider image, you can change the purpose from time-to-time. For example, if you are in the restaurant business, you can start out by having the slider image feature your core menu items.

Once you have made a name for yourself, the slide image can switch to testimonies from happy customers or special daily promotions.

If you don’t have a slider image on your website, give us a call or drop us an email right away. You need to get a slider image on your website right away if you want to increase sales conversions, improve UX, or move up the search rankings.

We have the experience and expertise to get this done for you properly. Give us a call and we’ll give you a free 30-minute consultation on how we can help your website have an effective slider image.

It will be the difference maker between you and your competition who chose to believe the naysayers.

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After finalizing its trade name and having the enterprise registered, the next order of business is designing its logo. This is an important component of your branding strategy. A good logo is more than just a symbol. Properly designed, it will create immediate brand recall and lend valuable support to your messaging.

Why Your Business Needs Good Logo Design

The swoosh. The partially eaten apple. The golden arches. It won’t take long for you or anybody to know these descriptions refer to the logos of Nike, Apple, and McDonald’s respectively.

A study by branding consultant and design firm Siegel+Gate showed that Nike, Apple, and McDonald’s have some of the memorable logo designs of all time. Others in the list included Amazon, Coca Cola, Google, Target, and Starbucks.

It’s hard to disagree with the findings of the study. The mere mention of these companies’ names create brand imagery in our minds.

And there lies the power of a well- designed logo. It identifies your brand and drives your message forward. When consumers see your logo, they begin to identify key business attributes such as quality, honesty, integrity, and consistency with your brand.

A well-designed logo is evergreen; it’s value grows as your business continues to flourish. In many cases, a logo has become a shield against controversy and bad publicity.

Nike has had its share of controversy over the years. It has been labeled a proprietor of child-labor. Throughout the period that Nike addressed these allegations, the brand remained resilient.

The “Swoosh” logo with the tagline “Just Do It” continues to inspire and motivate customers who want to perform better or improve their health and fitness.

McDonald’s has long been accused as a purveyor of global obesity. Yet, the brand remains strong. Most people who come across the golden arches logo will not hesitate to stop by for a quick meal despite all the bad publicity concerning McDonald’s food.

To be clear, a logo by itself does not make your brand. It should be part of your branding strategy. Its purpose is to encapsulate your value proposition which is answerable by the following questions:

  • What is my business?
  • What can we do for you?
  • Why should you choose us?

In marketing, messaging is everything. All of the component parts of a marketing campaign must be aligned and convey the same message. It starts with your logo and cascades down to your content and collaterals.

Whether your branding strategy works or not will likewise depend on your business performance. If you deliver the results that were promised by your message, then your efforts will serve to reinforce your brand. The logo will gain value and prominence.

However, if you fail to deliver results, then your brand will suffer. The logo will lose value. No matter how well-designed the logo was, it will be associated with undesired attributes.

That is why designing a logo is an investment. It keeps you honest and motivated to drive your business toward success. This way, your investment in logo design will grow and reap the benefits of brand recall, resiliency, and enhanced value proposition.

Thus, the road to long-term growth and sustainable success starts with designing a good logo for your business.

How To Design An Effective Logo For Your Business

1. Subliminal Messaging – Wendy’s, FedEx, Amazon

Subliminal messaging is a powerful technique whereby the component parts of the design are able to successfully convey the branded value proposition of the business.

There is psychology involved when using this technique. The designer should have the ability to manipulate the design elements to be able to drive home the message successfully.

Here are a few good examples of the successful use of subliminal messaging:

  • Amazon

Amazon is the world’s largest e-commerce retailer. It’s logo sends two messages. The first one is the obvious smile represented by the curved arrow. The message is that if you shop at Amazon, you will come away satisfied or happy.

The second message is how the arrow extends from the letter “a” to the letter “z”. Here Amazon is telling consumers that the company has every item or merchandise you will ever need; from “a” to “z”.

  • Wendy’s Hamburgers

For years, Wendy’s Hamburgers was identified with the smiling teenage girl with the freckles and double ponytail. Consumers associated Wendy’s with good, old-fashioned American cooking; perhaps a Sunday afternoon of grilling hamburgers with the family.

However, you can clearly see the girl’s collar spell out “Mom” which further drives the message of eating home-cooked family meals at Wendy’s.

  • Wikipedia

Wikipedia the popular online-based encyclopedia features a globe made of puzzle pieces with some parts missing. This is a brilliant way of encouraging users to fill in the gaps by inviting them to update content.

  • FedEx

The world’s most popular courier service cleverly inserts its message of speed and timely deliveries between the letters “E” and “x” which form a forward-facing arrow.

2. The Psychology Of Color

Numerous studies have been done to prove that colors can influence the buying decisions of consumers. Graphic designers are well aware of the Psychology of Color.

They have studied to know which colors can be used to trigger emotions or desired behavior. The strategic use of color in your business logo can immediately take your branding campaign to the next level. It is essentially half the work done.

Here is a breakdown of popular colors used in logo design, the emotions they convey, and which businesses they should be used for:

ColorEmotionType of Business
BlackStrength, Power, PrecisionPetroleum, Construction, Manufacturing
RedHunger, Aggression, RomanceFood, Fitness, Fashion
GreenNatural, Fresh, CalmingMedicine, Tourism, Education
BlueCredibility, Focus, Business-LikeIT, Dental Clinic, Consultation
OrangeCreative, Dynamic, EnergeticEntertainment, Childcare, Food and Drink
YellowExuberance, Drive, PositivitySales, ecommerce, Automotives
PurpleSpiritual, Magical, Well-BeingYoga, Spa, Massage Therapy
BrownEarthly, Historical, ConservativeBanks, Real Estate, Pet Store
WhiteClean, Pure, SimpleDental, Medical, Science

3. Focus On Unique Design

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. However, that does not hold true when it comes to logo design.

The purpose of a logo is to differentiate your brand from others. It’s easy to get caught up admiring other logos and it is perfectly fine to get ideas or a dose of inspiration. Do not fall into the trap of being just another cliche design.

The best graphic designers think outside the box. They flex their creative muscles as hard as they can to come up with concepts that can turn the industry on their heads. This is how iconic designs are made.

A good example of creativity at its finest is the logo of luxury car maker, Mercedes Benz.

There is nothing on the logo that suggests the company makes luxury cars. Instead, the logo means that the company dominates the transportation industry in land, sea, and air.

4. Customize Your Font Style

Don’t overlook the value of your logo’s font style. Our team at Mountaintop has graphic designers who are not in a rush to visit the font menu and run tests to see which style fits our client’s logo best.

We strongly believe in customizing your font style. If you want a logo that best captures the true meaning of Unique Value Proposition, then you should go all the way. Uniqueness in logo design should not only be limited to images, colors, and shapes. Font style should likewise be considered.

One of the best examples of customized font styling is the Coca Cola logo.

For sure, you have seen other logos copy this font style in order to capitalize on its ability to recall. However, the font style shall forever be associated with Coca Cola.

5. Simple Is Beautiful

When you are pushing the boundaries of creativity, you can easily get carried away with the bells and whistles. You tend to use all the tools at your disposal and run tests on how each design element works with another.

If you have too many components on your logo design, its message could get lost. Sometimes the best approach would be to pull back and utilize simple design. Many companies have adopted simple design for their logos and have carried it through the years with great success.

Nike, Coca Cola, and Apple are the obvious choices. Another good example is the logo of search engine giant, Google.

It has gone through changes over the years but the color scheme has remained the same. Most of the revisions on logo design have to do with its font styling. Today’s version uses a much simpler font style without the sharp edges and the shadowing.

6. The Psychology Of Shape

Earlier we discussed the psychology of color and how it can be used to influence the buying decisions of consumers. Another consumer theory that you should consider is the psychology of shape.

In the same way that colors and their various hues can trigger certain reactions or behaviors from consumers, round and angular shapes can also sway purchasing decisions to your favor:

  • Round Shape – Circles, curved lines, and ovals are used to convey femininity and emotion. Fashion brands such as Coco Chanel use round shapes in its logo design.

  • Angular Shape – Squares and triangles are used to connote power, stability, and masculinity. A good example would be the Adidas logo.

7. Consider Proportion And Symmetry

You don’t have to be a Graphic Designer to appreciate proportion and symmetry. They give your logo a clean, well-structured, and elegant look. Here are a few examples of logos that have great proportion and symmetry:

  • Twitter

  • YouTube

  • Mitsubishi Motors

8. Share Your Story

Your logo is a way of communicating with your audience. It doesn’t need to have an image of your product to convey its message clearly. Some of the best, most iconic logos in business have a roundabout way of getting its message across to its target market.

Everyone knows the Starbucks logo.

However, how many of you know why the company used the Siren as its logo?

The owners of Starbucks wanted a design with a nautical theme that best captured the spirit of Seattle. The original choice of the founders was “The Pequod” which was the name of the whaling ship in the classic piece of literature, “Moby Dick”.

Eventually, they thought against it because they thought it was open to mispronunciation and had poor recall. Instead, they went with the name of the Pequod’s first mate, “Starbucks”.

As for the Siren, in Greek Mythology, it was a creature that lured sailors to an island in the South Pacific. The use of the Siren is Starbucks’ roundabout way of luring you inside their store for a mug of freshly brewed coffee!

The entire process of coming up with a logo design may have been far-fetched, but the Starbucks logo is one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

Conclusion – Brand Building Takes Time And Effort

All of the logos we featured in this article took some time before they reached iconic status. As we mentioned earlier, logo design alone will not make your branding strategy a success. It must be supported by performance.

Remember that your brand is a promise to your customers. Therefore, you can view the logo as a way of keeping you accountable and focused on delivering that promise.

Do you need a logo for your business? Are you planning on changing your current logo design? If so, give us a call or drop us an email. Let’s sit down to have a quick chat to discuss what we can do to help you find a logo that best represents your brand.

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There are almost two billion websites on the Internet. If you see similarities between certain websites, it is because some use prepared template designs. These are downloadable website templates where the layout and structure have already been established.

Although this is a fast, easy, and convenient way to put up a website, it misses a very important element of effective design: Uniqueness.

The challenge for professional web designers is to conceptualize a design that is unique to its owner. Everything must come-together or align in website design. A business is an organization of people who share core values and a common vision to what the future may hold.

Design should embody; not distinguish the business and its owner. Its elements should represent the owner and support the purpose, objectives, message, and overall vision of the business.

Our Design Process At Mountaintop Web Design

At Mountaintop Web Design, we like to think of ourselves as artists and scientists. We explore the boundaries of creativity through artistic expression. However, at the same time, we respect the rules and precision of web design science. There are theories, guidelines, and principles of web design that we use as the basis for implementing artistic concepts.

We conduct research before initiating the formal design process. Research is categorized into two areas: empirical and intuitive.

Empirical Research

Under empirical research, we gather facts, relevant information, updated data, and other forms of usable and measurable inputs on the type of business and industry. We also implement best practices of web design which likewise, includes its own research. These principles go into each and every website we build.

Once we have a deeper understanding of the nature of the enterprise, we do a comparative analysis of the industry. This includes looking at the websites of the client’s closest competitors. We take note of design elements and similarities in content.

We also look through the competitors’ social media accounts. We want to see if there is alignment or some congruence between its design elements and those of the website.

Intuitive Research

Intuitive research is focused on the person behind the client. This is similar to a bank’s KYC or Know Your Customer approach. We want to know who the client is. What is his/her purpose? How did he/she get into this type of business? What are the motivating factors?

Our objective is to capture the essence of the client. His/ her personality should manifest on every page of the website. Its elements should reflect the client. When a visitor views the design and reads the content, he/she should have an accurate idea on who the business owner is.

Elements such as the use of color, spaces, angles, lines, and content will give site visitors clues on the type of person the owner is. Based on the interaction or response to the elements of design and content, the website visitor will rely on his/her intuition to formulate a profile on the business owner.

5 Popular Styles Of Web Design

There are many styles of web design. We would have to write an e-book to give you a complete rundown of every style that can be used for designing websites. Fortunately, we are not writing a textbook.

The purpose of writing this article is to give you an idea of how the design process works. It will give you a better understanding of what a professional web designer does and how to work with him/her when coming up with your own site.

In this section, we will discuss five of the most popular styles of web design. Then we will proceed to our own approach in designing websites for clients.

1. Illustrative Style

The Illustrative style of web design is highly visual in presentation. It uses drawing as the primary tool for design. We have graphic designers and artists who can come up with drawings or renditions based on an exchange of ideas with the business owner.

Renditions are visual expressions or concepts which the team believes best captures the message of the website. Creating design renditions for the Illustrative design is a close collaborative process with the client. We encourage the client to throw ideas on the design table.

As professional web designers, we incorporate principles of design to finalize the concept. Oftentimes, the client may have a different idea. Part of our job is to take the client through the design process so that he/she will get a better understanding of the principles of web design. This is how creative differences are resolved.

The final design is the one which the client feels accurately represents the business and at the same time stays within the parameters of effective web design techniques.

2. Single Page Style

The Single Page approach to web design is often confused with the Illustrative because it uses a rendition or depiction of a concept as the main design element. It can be colorful or simple. It could be vibrant or subdued.

Its overall purpose is to simplify web design. The structure is very simple and easy to navigate. You won’t find much text content on the Homepage as the focus remains on the image.

The Single Page style carries the same risk as the Illustrative in that the message of the design may not resonate with the site visitor right away. An image can look visually appealing but if used for symbolic purposes, its meaning may get lost in translation.

These styles of web design may work from an aesthetic standpoint. However, from a functional or messaging standpoint, the use of symbolic images may not deliver the desired results. That is why we do not actively recommend these styles to our clients.

We caution clients who prefer this style of design to exercise caution when it comes to the use of images as metaphors or symbolism.  As much as possible, the design concept should provide visual signals that make it easier for site visitors to understand what the business is all about; who the owners are, what they do, their purpose and vision. The content should resonate immediately with the viewer.

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3. Minimalist

Have you ever come across a website where the Homepage looks like an abstract painting? How about a website where it seems like you just landed on a maze? Outside of getting a migraine or feeling like a laboratory mouse, these designs have so much going on that its purpose and functionality are lost.

The Minimalist style removes all the clutter so all that remains are the essential elements, features, concepts, and forms. This type of design is very easy on the eyes. Good examples of the Minimalist style are websites that greatly use space. You see only black and white colors. Orientation is very clean and organized.

The Minimalist design is popular because it acts as a counterbalance to the chaos on the Internet. There is information overload; run a search query and you scroll through hundreds and thousands of websites. The Minimalist works because it focuses only on your central message.

4. Flat Web Design

If you’ve come across the Microsoft website, you’ll have a good idea of what Flat Web Design is. This style of web design combines minimalism with usability. It attempts to clear out unnecessary elements and just focus on items that greatly support usability and functionality.

Advocates of Flat Web Design typically use a combination of space with bright or dominant colors as defining areas of references. Overall design remains clean; the addition of colors with sharper hues creates better distinction among the other elements.

When we implement the Flat Web Design approach, we want the design to be prominent but not to the point that it detracts from the purpose of the website. Navigability should never be compromised.

5. Typographical

There is a good reason why recruiters generally reject resumes that are prepared using the Comic Sans font. You just won’t be taken seriously. Recruiters will always recommend Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica, and the over-used but still popular Arial.

The type of font you use is a design element that can successfully make or break your message. It triggers an emotional cue and an ensuing response. Used properly with image and text- based content, the typographical style can help you deliver a powerful and compelling story.

The drawback with the Typographic style is that it may slow down loading time. This is especially true when using mobile devices.

Mountaintop Web Design’s Approach To Web Design

Our underlying principle in web design is that best practices must always be implemented. Best practices in web design are those tried and true elements that have been proven to work. In this sense, we approach all of our clients in a similar same way. We can apply any style of web design that the client wants and which we feel strongly supports the purpose and objectives of the website.

However, our approach never veers off from the standard guidelines for effective web design:

  • The website must be mobile-responsive. Design should be able to set up seamlessly and effortlessly on mobile devices regardless of screen size. It should be accessible by large groups of people.
  • The website should have fast download speed. Our years of experience working with different clients and studying various industries have shown us that consumers are impatient. Our target is to make sure the client’s website can be accessed within 3 seconds.
  • Design should be optimized. Even if you have the best images and text content, these would have little value to your website if they cannot be found. We implement the principles of SEO or Search Engine Optimization to make sure all images and text-based content can be easily searched, found, and indexed by web crawlers.
  • Reliable security measures should be in place. We understand the value of a website for your business. Thus, we make sure all of our websites are built with the latest versions of the best security software. We also conduct regular site audits to run updates on plug-ins and address other issues that may present vulnerabilities to its security.

Case Study: Severe Weather Shelter

Severe Weather Shelter Network New website

We designed this website for a non-profit ministry. The objective of our design approach was to strongly highlight the services of the ministry. This was effectively done through the use of relevant images, the organization of the site, and the layout which were proprietary to the ministry.

The overall effect of the design was to deliver a clear message that was powerful and urgent, yet sincere and simplistic in tone and content.

The design gives website visitors an accurate idea on who the ministry is, what they do, how they operate, and helps them gain a deeper understanding of their objective. As we mentioned earlier, website design must represent the purpose and vision of the business.  

In this case, the purpose of the ministry is covered by the question , “Why did the ministry set up this organization?” The images, use of color, space, and layout, emphasize the ministry’s intent to help people in need.

We integrated the use of these provocative images with real statistics in order to compel the visitor into action. It certainly helped increase the number of donations and contributions to the ministry.

With the ideal design elements in place, our biggest challenge became the donation platform. We wanted to make sure it was easy and secure for people to use. Fortunately, we were able to implement the right platform for them and to date, the ministry continues to receive donations through its website.

If you are planning to have a website for your business or if you are thinking of having your current website re-designed, please feel free to give us a call or an email.

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Graphic design is an important component of marketing and sales. It’s objective is to create designs that inspire, inform and fascinate consumers. Ad campaigns start out by defining the message or the business’ value proposition. This is the main selling point of the product or service. The job of the Graphic Designer is to translate the message into images that will entice the consumer to patronize your product or the service over your competitors.

6 Great Qualities You Should Look For In A Graphic Designer

  1. Aspires to be a constant learner;
  2. Embraces criticism as part of the creative process;
  3. Open to different sources of inspiration;
  4. Pushes the boundaries of creativity by exploring outside the comfort zone;
  5. A good listener and articulates ideas clearly for effective communication;
  6. Conducts work in a professional manner.

Why Graphic Design Is Important For Business

Visual content is a powerful vehicle for marketing because by nature, people are attracted to great-looking images. What would push you to eat a slice of decadent chocolate cake: a written description or a high- resolution image? A study by MDG Advertising showed that content with images are viewed 94% more than those without.

Businesses both big and small need great graphic designers. Take a look at those multi-million dollar Hollywood movies. They definitely look nice on your bedroom wall but the movie posters are an important part of the film company’s marketing campaign.

The posters are used to officially launch a movie because they help generate buzz and create more excitement. The marketing team will go through a number of designs before deciding on which concept to use.

Likewise, small business owners use graphic designers to come up with marketing collateral that will encourage more sales. If you were looking for a place to eat, you would probably choose the restaurant with the most appetizing and captivating food shots on the windows.

The Role Of Graphic Designers In Website Design

In website design, we use graphic designers to come up with concepts that best represent the branding strategy of the client. This is especially important for the Homepage where site visitors land after clicking the link.

A report by Pew Research showed that the Homepage was the most viewed page for 84% of the websites studied. For some of the websites in the study, the Homepage accounted for 60% to 79% of their traffic.

We would like to compare the Homepage to a storefront window. This is where site visitors get a glimpse of what the client has to offer. If it is true that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, then we have fewer than eight seconds to pique the interest of the site visitor.

At Mountaintop, we work with great graphic designers who can get the client’s message across right away. It is not an easy task as we have to consider both functionality and aesthetics in the design process. We want our websites to feature amazing, breathtaking design without compromising usability.

The Responsibilities Of A Graphic Designer

A Graphic Designer is one-half artist and one-half scientist. They need great artistic sensibility and precision. A great Graphic Designer knows how to combine creative expression and technology.

There is more to Graphic Design work than just creating design concepts. Here is a summary of the responsibilities of a Graphic Designer:

  • Collaborates with the client, web designer and Artistic/ Creative Director in all stages of the design process particularly on the message or branding value proposition.
  • Provides client with input on the best tactics and strategies to reach the target audience.
  • Performs research on target audience; helps the client build a Buyer’s profile.
  • Learns and utilizes the best software programs to bring design concepts to life.
  • Conducts tests such as surveys to determine the effectiveness of design concepts.

Graphic design is not something you can learn from watching YouTube videos. The best ones in the business go through formal schooling. You need to have a good understanding of its fundamentals and experience applying its technical aspects to become a good Graphic Designer. Becoming a great Graphic Designer comes with experience. The more you work at it the better you get.

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6 Qualities Of A Great Graphic Designer

You can have a Graphic Designer who graduated from the best university, worked in the top firms and show the best recommendations. However, unless he/she has certain qualities or attributes, all the skills in the world may not result in your desired outcome.

Most businesses put more focus on a Graphic Designer’s hard skills. These are the technical skills learned in school and gained throughout their experience. While this is understandable, the value of soft skills or key personality attributes becomes overlooked.

Soft skills are the intangibles. These are the traits or qualities that drive the hard skills forward. What good is having top- level training if the Graphic Designer does not have the patience of working with a team? What is the value of being highly recommended if the Graphic Designer does not consider the client’s inputs?

There are many talented graphic designers. If you want to find the best one for your business, consider these qualities when hiring a Graphic Designer:

1. Constantly Learning

Early in their careers, graphic designers take to knowledge like a sponge. As they got deeper into their careers, some may become more focused just on getting paid for their profession.

The best graphic designers are those who believe they don’t know everything. Therefore, they seek to get better by constantly learning new skills and techniques. For them, every day is an opportunity to improve and excel in their craft.

This is the kind of Graphic Designer you want on your team. He/she will constantly look for ways to sharpen their skills and take your design team to a higher level.

2. Values Criticism

A Graphic Designer is tasked to manifest the message in highly visual format. Unfortunately despite all the work put in, other people may not see it that way.

Sometimes design can be subjective. What is beautiful for one person may not be the case for another. The same can be said when interpreting design because we all view images through individual filters.

It is normal to have disagreements or dissenting opinions when it comes to design. Most of the time, design revisions are just minor changes. That is why we usually go through 3 to 4 mock ups before finalizing the design.

A great Graphic Designer is one who can take the criticism and turn it into something productive. He/she is not onion-skinned and is always open to suggestions to make the design better.

3. Seeks Different Sources of Inspiration

“Creativity” is an attribute closely associated with great graphic designers. But where does creativity come from? For the best in the business, creativity is like a faucet that runs 24/7. It can strike anywhere so they have to be ready.

When assigned to develop a concept for a client, the best Graphic Designer does not get stumped. If the usual sources of inspiration are not delivering, they look for new sources.

It’s not just having a complete understanding of what the client wants and what the business is all about. Like a writer who encounters “writer’s block”, graphic designers may hit a wall on their creativity.

Look for a Graphic Designer who is resilient in finding inspiration. It’s part of the creativity process. You have to open yourself up to new stimuli because creativity itself should be allowed to flow freely.

4. Fearless! Ventures Outside the Comfort Zone

A university will give you the theoretical background and technical tools to have a deep level understanding of the fundamentals of graphic design. However, as we mentioned earlier the learning process should never stop.

Every client has different needs. The application of design fundamentals and techniques will vary from one project to the next. The great Graphic Designer will not be confined to what he/she knows. Instead, the Graphic Designer will not fear to venture outside the comfort zone to find the best design possible for the client.

All of this is tied up with the importance of being a constant learner. When you have more knowledge and tools at your disposal you have no fear of venturing into uncharted territory.

The best graphic designers know that sometimes you must take risks in order to reap greater rewards. In this case, the reward is a better and more effective design for the client.

5. Excellent Communicator

Successful marketing is all about effective delivery of the message. This is because communication is a two- way street. The message must resonate loud and clear; there must be no disconnect.

A great Graphic Designer is able to convey the message by expertly manipulating the image, text, colors, lines, angles, rhythm and lighting in his/her design. All the design elements must come together to deliver the same message.

And it’s not just in design that a great Graphic Designer shows his excellence in communication. You can see it in the way he/she interacts with the client and collaborates with the team. His/her points are well-articulated and everyone ends up always on the same page.

6. Professional

“Professionalism” is an attribute that is frequently used but often misunderstood. For graphic designers, being professional has a straightforward meaning: he/she must be focused and committed to completing the project according to timelines and guidelines.

What are the traits of a professional Graphic Designer?

  • Punctual at work and when attending meetings with the client and the design team.
  • Expert in time management; a great Graphic Designer knows how to allocate the hours in a day so he/she can consistently remain productive.
  • Regularly meets deadlines without compromising the quality of work.
  • Highly respectful and courteous to the client and everyone on the team.
  • The great Graphic Designer shares his/her opinions in a constructive manner.
  • He/she will not hesitate to seek clarification or ask questions in order to have a better idea of design requirements.

As you have read, being certified or licensed does not totally translate to becoming a professional Graphic Designer. The best one for your business is the Graphic Designer who is professional in his/her conduct of work.

Conclusion

Having a great Graphic Designer on your team will make everyone’s work so much easier. It is true that one has to undergo formal training in order to have a career as a Graphic Designer.

However, what separates the great ones from the good ones are not the technical skills and fundamental expertise but the qualities and attributes that contribute to effective graphic design. Before hiring a Graphic Designer, put time and effort in evaluating the person behind the profession.

Are you looking for a Graphic Designer to create inspiring and thought- provoking concepts for your business? Give us a call or drop us an email. We have an amazing team of graphic designers who have rendered outstanding work for several of our clients.

We would be more than happy to discuss the graphic design process with you!

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