Whenever you read the news, you will come across reports about the economy – how the stock market is performing and data on jobs, unemployment, and currency exchange. You will read terms such as “Gross Domestic Product”, “recession”, and “trade balance”. 

For the past few months, the news has given massive coverage on the trade war launched by the United States against China and how it has impacted the bottom line of many U.S. companies in the manufacturing and agricultural sector.

Certainly, these types of news are disconcerting because when companies are in trouble, jobs and consequently, the livelihood and well-being of many families are on the line. 

Thus, in a world that has become increasingly concerned about profit, the idea of a non-profit organization must leave some people scratching their heads. 

What Is A Non-Profit Organization?

By definition, a non-profit organization is an entity that does not funnel its earnings to stockholders or investors. The majority of non-profit organizations are not connected with the government and are private entities. 

However, instead of paying out dividends to its stockholders, a non-profit organization appropriates its income to help the group achieve its goals which are usually philanthropic in nature. 

A non-profit organization can support a variety of causes. Some of the most popular ones include endangered species, preserving the arts, social reform programs, protecting the environment, education, and literacy. 

What Are The Challenges Facing Non-Profit Organizations?

Spearheading a non-profit organization can be a daunting task. With information flowing freely – thanks to the Internet and the advances in digital technology – decisions are more easily influenced by data that is available on the web.

Similar to profit organizations, non-profit organizations face several challenges that may obstruct their efforts to achieve their goals and objectives.

We have identified 3 challenges that non-profit organizations have to contend with in the coming years:

  1. Government Regulations – Changes in government regulations and tax reform laws may affect the decisions of individuals to contribute as well as hinder the ability of non-profit organizations to invoice for their services and generate more funding.
  2. Hiring Volunteers and Recruiting Staff – An increase in the number of jobs available in the market in combination with an upward adjustment in the wage rate has made it more difficult for non-profit organizations to hire and recruit volunteers needed to attend to its various duties and responsibilities. 
  3. Lack of Technological Support – With the decline in available funding, non-profit organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to avail of and utilize technology needed to further its growth and open new avenues for financial support. 

Mountaintop Web Design is not an interest group and neither are we in the recruitment business.

However, we are in the technology business. We understand how digital innovations and the Internet can be utilized to help non-profit organizations meet their goals. 

How Can Non-Profit Organizations Benefit From Digital Marketing?

If you want to know how digital marketing benefits small businesses, please read our blog, “5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need To Invest In A Digital Marketing Strategy”.

The truth is, a non-profit organization also reaps the same benefits from incorporating a digital marketing strategy as a profit organization. 

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1. Low-Cost Method Of Promoting the Organization’s Objectives

Digital marketing is the process of utilizing digital technology – various online tools and platforms – to market and promote a business, it’s products and services. The process is run via online channels foremost of which is the website. 

For the reason that the world is becoming more technology-dependent, all businesses, whether profit or non-profit, should have a website. Here’s a statistic that you should keep in mind:

Of the 7.7 Billion people on our planet, 4.3 Billion are on the Internet every single day. That number accounts for 55.6% of the world’s total population.

If your business is not on the Internet, how would potential customers – or donors – find you? The website is your business address on the Internet. 

The cost of putting up a website will depend on the type, functionality, and design features. At Mountaintop, we can customize a fully-functional, mobile responsive website that will meet your needs and budget.

And if you wish, you can build your own website by using a free design template from WordPress. We have written about it in our blog, “How To Build Your Own Website In 4 Easy Steps”.

Another effective channel for digital marketing is social media. According to a study by Sprout Social, 74% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media content. 

Of the 4.3 billion people on the Internet on a daily basis, more than 3 billion are on social media. Facebook accounts for 2.2 billion of social media’s daily traffic

Setting up a social media account for your non-profit organization will not cost you a cent. There are many social media platforms to choose from – Facebook,  Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube – are the popular ones and have large communities. 

You can choose 2 to 3 social media platforms to post content on a regular basis. With time and by creating useful, engaging, and compelling content, you should see more traffic driven to your website.

2. The Non-Profit Group Becomes Available 24/7

Unlike a shopping mall or a commercial building, the Internet does not close down or take holiday breaks. It is open 24/7.

When you have a website and social media accounts on the Internet, your non-profit organization becomes available 24/7.

  • Potential donors can read about your charitable cause; its purpose, vision, and organizational goals.
  • The use of compelling content delivered through regular blogs and video links are strong influencers which can immediately convert interest into donations.
  • If the site visitor wants to make a contribution, we can integrate a donation system that will easily facilitate the payment.

3. Measure Performance In Real-Time

One of the great advantages of using digital marketing is that you can track its performance in real-time by accessing data known as analytics.

Analytics will provide you key information on your current digital marketing strategy. You will have empirical evidence that will identify the processes which are delivering good ROI. 

Likewise, Analytics will point out the processes that are not delivering results. By determining the processes which result in ROI and those which are not, you can fine-tune the strategy. 

Thus, you can adjust the budget and allocate more resources to high-return processes. By using analytics as a reference tool to manage your budget, your overall digital marketing strategy should deliver higher ROI. 

4. Adapt to Changes In Consumer Behavior

Blogging and social media marketing are platforms that allow your followers to directly engage with you. Some will post comments related to the content you posted. 

Our advice is to respond to these commenters right away – within 24 hours if possible. The reason is these comments are valuable data. They provide keen insights on how your audience thinks, behaves, and processes information. 

When you respond, you create a feedback system between your non-profit organization and the commenter. 

The feedback system will establish communication which can eventually lead to an important component of business development: Relationship building. 

Building a solid market base of end-users and regular patrons will come down to expert relationship management. 

Digital marketing will provide you with the platform, tools, and channels to build a strong following and an enhanced presence on the Internet. 

In the following section, we will discuss 2 case studies of non-profit organizations which greatly benefited from having a website designed and managed by our company.

Case Study No.1 – Severe Weather Shelter Network

Severe Weather Shelter Network is a non-profit organization which partners up with various groups and agencies to provide immediate shelter to people who are living on the streets during harsh weather conditions.

The non-profit group already had an existing website but it was not delivering the expected results. SWSN approached us to redesign the site with the objectives of increasing awareness and improving the process of making donations.

Old website

For the website redesign, we put more focus on the homepage which is the primary landing page on a website. 

You will see the group’s Brand Value Proposition (BVP) right away – “Help Us Make A Difference. Helping the homeless build a community of supporters and providing a place of refuge on freezing nights.”

The BVP is short, direct, and easy to understand. Below the BVP is the Call-to-Action (CTA) which is asking the site visitor to make a contribution through the donation system that we built into the website.

Severe Weather Shelter Network is happy with the site and have seen a large increase in the number of their donations. They have also subscribed to our Extreme WordPress Care Plans to keep their website safe from potential cyber-attacks.  

Case Study No.2: Love In The Name Of Christ

Love In The Name Of Christ is a non-profit organization that works with local churches to help transform the lives of people who were lost and had no direction or purpose through the teachings of Christ.

Similar to Severe Weather Shelter Network, Love In The Name Of Christ had an existing website. However, it had an outdated design and was not functioning very well. 

We gave it a fresher look that was aesthetically beautiful and fully-functional. The BVP on the homepage was effective; it was easy to remember and direct to the point. 

We also included a donation system to facilitate contributions faster and more convenient for donors. 

Love In The Name Of Christ also signed up with our Extreme WordPress Care Plans.

Conclusion

Digital marketing has been proven to be an effective way of helping non-profits achieve their goals. 

Whether you are a profit or non-profit organization, you need to have a strong presence on the Internet. 

Having a website in combination with the right digital marketing tools and processes will help spread the message of non-profit organizations while effectively addressing the challenges they face.

If you are a non-profit organization that is thinking of putting up a website or having your existing one redesigned, please give us a call or drop us an email. 

You can consult with us for free. 

Coffee’s on us!

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Are you thinking of having a website for your business? If so, you are steering your business in the right direction! Take some time to read our blog, “10 Benefits Of A Website For A Small Business” to know why. 

You have 2 options to consider for building your website:

  • Customized Website Design
  • Website Template

As a small business owner, which option should you choose for your website?

Customized Website Design Vs. Website Template

The easiest way to build a website is to give us a call or visit us at https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/ and contract our services to design a customized website for your business.

Mountaintop Web Design is a professional web design company. We have been in the web design business for a long time. Over the years we have designed and built many beautiful, responsive, and highly-functional websites for hundreds of businesses.

A customized website is a website that is built by a professional web designer specifically for your business. 

The word “professional” is used to describe a person who has undergone formal training and has acquired a good level of experience to develop the skill sets needed to design a custom-built website. 

Designing websites is his profession; it is his career and how he makes a living. Therefore, a professional website designer is a person who takes his craft seriously. He invests time and resources to update his knowledge and skills by learning the latest techniques, processes, and methods in designing websites. 

The second option is to build a website on your own by using a website template. WordPress is a platform that offers web design templates. These templates are available for free and come in different designs. 

The free website templates can be customized to a certain extent. WordPress has thousands of free plug-ins that you can use to change the look and functionality of your website. 

If you want to put up your first website, choosing a free website template may be a good idea to get started.

Why would a successful professional web design company encourage its readers to build their own website?

Designing and building your own website will give you a better understanding of what goes into website design. If you are on a tight budget, building your own website might be your best option to have one for your business. 

When the time comes that you want to upgrade your website, you can contact us to build a customized one for your business. Your experience putting up your own website will make our collaboration for a customized website much easier!

Going the Do-It-Yourself route may seem like a daunting task. As professional website designers, we are here to tell you that there is a learning curve to overcome but it is very doable! 

Essentially, there are only 4 steps to building a website:

  • Choose Your Website Design Platform
  • Choose Your Web Hosting Service and Domain Name
  • Set Up Your Website
  • Add Content to Your Website

Are you ready? Let’s take the first step!

Step 1 – Choose Your Website Design Platform

There are many good website design templates to choose from but we have narrowed your choices down to these 3 platforms:

  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Joomla

Without a doubt, your best choice is WordPress. There is a reason why more than 30% of all websites choose WordPress. 

To be precise, there are at least 6 reasons why WordPress is the best platform for your business website:

  1. Google prefers WordPress over other platforms because it can accommodate various SEO techniques and processes.
  2. WordPress website templates are highly-customizable; there are thousands of plugins that will change the look and functionality of your website.
  3. WordPress is very user-friendly and schedules regular updates on its system, programs, and applications.
  4. As the most popular website platform on the Internet, WordPress takes site security seriously and makes it a point to upgrade its data protection plugins. 
  5. WordPress can handle various types of media; from text content to video-based content, WordPress can accommodate them all.
  6. WordPress templates are designed to be mobile responsive.

If you want to learn more about the advantages of using WordPress, you can read our blog, “Why Do We Use WordPress?”

As good as Drupal and Joomla are, 74 million websites can’t be wrong. Choose WordPress for your free website design template.

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Step 2 – Choose Your Web Host Service Provider and Domain Name

For your website to be accessible on the Internet, you need to choose a good web host service provider. This is a company that runs powerful servers which enable your website to connect to the Internet. 

The web host company will upload all of your website’s files; sometimes referred to as “assets” onto its server. When your website goes live, the web host company will open the files so it can be accessed by anyone who connects with the server. 

Thus, when you sign up a web host services provider, you are renting a space on the company’s server. 

After you have signed up, the web host company will ask you to come up with a domain name. If the server is the apartment complex where you are renting space, the domain name is its address. 

Think of your domain name as your company name. It must be immediately identifiable with your business or industry because that is what people will see on the Internet. 

Here are 5 tips on how to come up with a good domain name:

  1. Keep it Short and Simple – If your domain name is too long, there is a big chance it would be misspelled or forgotten.
  2. Use Keywords – Adding strong keywords in your domain name is a smart idea because it helps the search bots find and index your URL. In our industry, “web design” is a powerful keyword. That is why we included it in our domain name www.mountaintopwebdesign.com .
  3. Avoid Symbols – We could have opted for www.mountaintop-webdesign.com but the hyphen could cause problems for the client. Verbalizing our website address could also become a tedious exercise, “It’s ‘mountain top dash web design dot com”. Clients could easily forget about the “dash”. 
  4. Make it Easy to Remember – “It’s on the tip of my tongue” is something you don’t want potential clients to say when they are trying to recall your domain name. Do some research and come up with buzz words or terms that are easily identifiable with your business or industry.
  5. Go “Dot Com” – You can find a variety of domain extension names such as “.net”, “.biz”, among others. Without a doubt, “.com” is the best choice. It is the most identifiable extension on the Internet. 

If you want to learn more about the importance of web host services, you can read our article, “How To Choose Your Web Host”.  

You can also give us a call or drop an email. 

Mountaintop Web Design offers web hosting services that can fit your budget without compromising the quality of services. 

Step 3 – Set Up Your Website

Finally, the fun part! Setting up your website!

This may seem like a big step up for those who are not comfortable with technology but we assure you, setting up a WordPress website is easy. WordPress understood the challenges first-time web designers face and made it a point to make the process easier and doable. 

Here is the step-by-step process on how to set up your website on WordPress:

  1. Access https://wordpress.org/download, download and save it on your PC or laptop.
  2. Unzip WordPress on the designated folder.
  3. Look for “wp-config-sample.php” and rewrite it to “wp-config.php”. Just right-click on the file. Select the option “Rename”.
  4. Access “wp-config.php” and fill in the details:
  • Define (“DB_NAME”, “database name_here”) – If you don’t know what your database name is, ask your web host services provider.
  • Define (“DB_USER”, “username_here”) – This refers to your hosting username.
  • Define (“DB_PASSWORD”, “password_here”) – This refers to your hosting password.

Save the file after you have inputted the information.

  1. Log into your host FTP which is usually ftp.yourdomainname.com. The user name and password are the same as when you registered with your web host services provider.
  2. Delete all files with the file name “index”. From there, upload the files from the WordPress folder onto the FTP server. 
  3. After completing step #6, visit “yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/install.php”. 

You should be greeted with the following message:

“Making Your Website Look Awesome! Choosing A Theme To Make The Magic Come Alive.”

It is really an amazing experience seeing your WordPress account transform into a website. However, what you see is a WordPress default theme. With WordPress, you can change the theme of your website so that you can bring it to life!

In technical terms, a theme is a collection of files that help produce the front-end design of your website. In other words, a theme is how you want your website to look.

All you have to do is click on “Appearance” which is found on the left side of your WP dashboard. From “Appearance”, click on “Themes”, then “Add New” to view the thousands of themes available on WordPress.

WordPress gives you the tools to customize the look and feel of its free templates. You can change its color, add stock photos, experiment with various font styles and design backgrounds. 

Installing the theme of your WordPress website will just need 2 more clicks:

  • Install
  • Activate

Now that you’ve brought your website to life, it is time to breathe life into it by adding content!

Step 4 – Add Content To Your Website

Your website looks great! But does it serve the needs or interests of your audience? This is where content comes in.

Content is the stuff that brings substance to the beautiful image of your website. Content gives your website purpose; it is the reason why people will visit your site over your competitors. 

Creating effective content for your website will be the topic of a future blog. For now, we will show you how easy it is to post content on your WordPress website.

The “About Us” page is one of the first pages visitors will see on a website. To create an “About Us” page, follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click the “Pages” link.
  3. Click “Add New”.

You will come across a page that looks similar to a sheet from MS Word. On the “Enter Title Here” box, write “About Us”. 

From there, simply write down the content of your “About Us” page on the space provided. It is just like writing content on MS Word. WordPress offers the same tools to customize the look of your page. 

If you want to create a blog post, click “Post” on the dashboard then click “Add New”. You will come across the same text editor layout as when you created a Page. 

As a reminder, it would be a good idea to organize your blogs into categories. This way, it will be easier to find a specific type of content when you need it. 

Conclusion

If you are still on the fence with the idea of having a website for your business, building your own website is a good first step. You will be more deeply invested and the experience of designing a website will give you a better appreciation and understanding of what it can do for your business. 

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes! That is part of the learning process. Once your website goes live, you will realize the time and effort you invested was worth it. 

And when the time comes to take your website to the next level, give us a call and we’ll gladly do it for you!

Do you know of anyone who is thinking of designing their own website? Please share this article with them. We would be interested to learn about their experience in building their first website!

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Investing in a website is a smart first step to building a profitable business. In fact, you are already several steps ahead of the 45% of businesses that still don’t have a website. 

Now that you have taken the first step, what is the next step?

If you are not sure how to use a website to make your business profitable, you are not alone. 

One reason why 45% of small businesses still don’t have a website is that the owners are not sure what it does and how it works to contribute to profitability. 

The truth is, running a small business website is not that difficult or complicated. Yes, there is a learning curve to overcome and it will take some time before you can see the fruits of your labor. 

However, with patience and diligence, your website can become a profit-generating machine for your business. 

So what is the next step? Read the article and find out how to use your website to make your business profitable.

Why Your Website Is The Most Powerful Marketing Tool For Your Business

Unlike a brick-and-mortar business, your website is open 24/7. It can be accessed by millions – even by billions – of people who are on the Internet every day. 

Can you imagine owning a retail store that is open 24/7? You can have sales transactions every hour! People will be buying after close-of-business hours and keep your cash registers ringing. 

This is possible with an online retail or e-commerce store. Your customers will simply click on your URL or website address, land on your homepage, read through your product list, then pay for the transaction at the checkout counter. 

Through it all, you could be playing catch with your son, watching your daughter’s piano recital, having a glass of red wine with the spouse, or in the REM stage of a good night’s sleep. 

Sounds too good to be true?

Well, it’s not! 

There are many online entrepreneurs who are reaping the success of running a profitable Internet-based business.  

These online entrepreneurs are not exceptions to the rule. Anyone can have a dynamic website that helps the business earn considerable income and become highly profitable. 

The key is to learn how to harness the power of your website so you can maximize the opportunities that can be found on the Internet.

1. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Responsive

We have written a good number of articles on the importance of having a mobile responsive website. 

We did not stop there. 

In our other articles on digital marketing and website design, mobile responsive is always mentioned.

Here are 4 statistics-backed reasons why your website should be mobile responsive:

Having a website is a start but complete the project by making sure it is highly mobile responsive. By this, we mean that your website should have no problem setting up on the screen of a mobile device regardless of screen size. 

If your website is not mobile responsive, you will lose business. Worse, not having a mobile responsive website can even prove to be damaging to your business. 

Imagine clicking on a website from your smartphone and having to zoom-in and manually adjust the position of the page on your screen just to be able to read the content. 

You will probably click out of the website.

Coincidentally, that is what your prospective customer will do if your website is not mobile responsive.

2. Optimize Your Website

We have come across websites that are beautiful. They look elegant and the content on the site is very well-written.

Unfortunately, according to the websites’ analytics, very few people have seen them. 

The website cannot be seen because they cannot be found. They cannot be found because the websites are not optimized.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of using techniques and processes that will increase the search visibility of your website on the Internet. 

Without SEO, it does not matter if your website homepage looks like it should be on the Louvre Museum in Paris, France or if the content reads like it was written by Leo Tolstoy.

Hardly anyone will find it unless you have it optimized.

Here are 4 areas that you should look into to have your website optimized for easy search.

  • Keyword Research – Keywords are the most-often used words or phrases when someone launches a search query. Having your website content embedded with the right keywords will make it easier for the search engine crawlers to index your page.
  • Site Navigability – The navigability of a page plays an important factor in User Experience of which Google is big on. If you want your website to convert, you must make it easy for the visitor to use. If the visitor feels like he is trapped in a labyrinth, he will just click out.
  • Meta and Title Tags – Meta and Title tags are the responsibility of the web developer. These are descriptions of your website that are included in its code. Title tags describe what your website is all about and can be seen on the results page. Meta tags are hidden within the code but are used to validate the type of website that you have. 
  • Site Speed – Although it takes 8.66 seconds to download the top ranking websites in Google, Internet searchers still expect a website to download in 3 seconds or less. 53% of users will leave a website if it does not download in under 3 seconds. 

3. Focus On Your Website Homepage

An argument can be made that the Homepage is the most important page on your website. This is because is the page where a visitor will land after he clicks on your URL. 

Having an effective website homepage means having one that is efficient – it should get the job done in no more than 6 seconds. 

If the site visitor does not see anything useful, relevant, and compelling on your website within 6 seconds, he will click out.

What then makes an efficient website homepage?

  • Less Is More – Have you come across a website that has so many things happening on the homepage? There is so much text. The homepage copy feels like reading a long-form blog. 

Likewise, there are too many images and it seems that the color choices were made without thought or purpose. 

When designing a homepage, the rule is less is more. Too much activity on the homepage will only serve to distract the site user not help him find what he is looking for.

  • What Is Your Brand Value Proposition (BVP)? – The Brand Value Proposition or BVP is a statement that tells site visitors what your business can do for them. The BVP is the most important statement on your homepage and perhaps on your entire website. As mentioned, you only have fewer than 6 seconds to catch the interest of the site visitor. This is where the BVP comes in. It must be short, direct-to-the-point, and easily understood. 
  • How Compelling Is Your Call-To-Action (CTA)? – The Call-To-Action (CTA) tells the site visitor what you want him to do. To be effective the CTA must be direct-to-the-point. It should state urgency and the importance of acquiring your products and services right now.

You can make your homepage more compelling by adding testimonies or explainer videos. However, from both a design and functional perspective, less is more. 

We recommend prioritizing the BVO and coming up with an effective CTA. From there, you could consider a slide featuring testimonies from actual clients or customers. 

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4. Blog Actively

People spend 23% of their time online reading blogs. 

That statement should be enough to emphasize our point on the importance of blogging actively for your business. 

However, before you blog actively, it would be best to understand what makes a blog effective.

Blogging is not as simple as writing about a topic you like or specialize in. We have clients who are experts in their field. They create blogs that are packed with information acquired from the years invested in the industry.

Yet, hardly anyone reads them. So, they get discouraged from blogging. By doing so, they fail to realize the benefits of blogging. 

There are 2 reasons why their blogs do not gain traction and fail to deliver the desired results:

  • The blogs are not optimized for search.
  • The blogs are not written for the audience.

Blogging is not the same as writing a college term paper or a piece on a broadsheet. It combines the creativity of writing and the precision of digital technology. 

Yes, you need a good writer who can create compelling pieces that are free of spelling and grammatical errors. However, these must be optimized so that the blogs can be searched and found on the Internet. 

Optimizing a blog involves a number of processes, some of which we will discuss here:

  • Keywords – We mentioned the importance of keywords in optimizing a website. The same can be said for your blogs. In order to be found your blog should contain the most-searched keywords in your industry. Therefore, in addition to topic research, your content creation strategy should include keyword research.
  • Structure – Do you find reading a thickly-worded paragraph a pleasant experience? Not many people do. Too many sentences in a paragraph can turn reading into a tedious experience. To improve readability, the paragraphs should only contain 3-4 sentences. Consequently, each sentence should have no more than 40 words. Ideally, 20-25 words per sentence are best for optimization purposes. 
  • Content – An effective blog should have content that is fresh or unique, relevant, useful, informative, and compelling. It doesn’t matter if you have the best keywords in the right density. If your content does not meet the criteria, it will not be read.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of blogging. However, you need to have blogging done right.

We have published several blogs that have been recognized as among the best in the digital marketing industry. If you need help in blogging, we are the agency to go to!

5. Stay Active Online

The best way to stay top-of-mind on the Internet is to stay active online. 

Let us go back to blogging. 

According to research, you should blog at least 11 times per month in order to achieve the best results in sales conversions and website traffic.

What is the ideal length of a blog post for SEO purposes? According to a study by Search Engine Journal, your blogs should average 1,900 words. 

That is a lot of writing per week!

Then, you have to publish the blogs on various online channels such as social media, blogging communities, and of course, your own website. 

That is a lot of work!

However, you have the option of outsourcing these tasks to third-party agencies such as Mountaintop Web Design. This way, you can free up your time to focus on activities that are directly involved with your business. 

The bottom line is that in order to stay relevant, you have to maintain an active presence online through blogging and frequent posting of content.

6. Fortify Site Security

Last July 2018, search engine giant Google started flagging websites without SSL certificates as “Not Secure”. 

Having your website labeled as “Not Secure” by the Internet’s biggest search engine is enough to drive away interest from your business. 

Google decided to impose SSL certificates to all websites because of the growing threat of cyber-security. As you well know, Google is big on User Experience. 

You can learn more about SSL certificates and their importance for maintaining security for your website in our article “SSL Basics: Why You Need It To Protect Your Website From Hackers”.

Encourage site visitors to enter your website by securing it with SSL certificates. It is very easy to get SSL certificates and they will help protect your data from being stolen by cyber-criminals. 

Conclusion

The website is more than just a business address on the Internet. It is your digital hub online where all transactions take place. Because of your website, your products and services can be accessed by a wider audience. It will give you the platform to build your reputation as a reliable resource in the industry.

Once your website goes live, it allows you to capitalize on the opportunities on the Internet that can make your business profitable. 

However, a website will not run on its own.

You have to institute processes and techniques that are designed to drive traffic to your website. If done properly, these processes and techniques – such as the ones discussed in this article – will deliver results and make your business very profitable.

If you like this article, please feel free to share it in your community. And if you want to learn more about our services, let’s discuss it over your favorite brew!

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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!

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The technical definition of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) describes it as a global network of servers that have been set up for the purpose of delivering Internet content at the fastest time possible.

Internet content is made up of assets – components that are needed for the content to be uploaded properly. These assets include Javascript files, HTML pages, images, videos, and stylesheets.

Using a CDN makes it possible to transfer these assets quickly so that the Internet searcher can receive Internet content right away. The biggest companies in the world use a CDN – Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix.

If these giants use a CDN does that mean small and medium scale business owners need them too?

The Importance Of Website Speed

The best way to understand how a CDN works and why it is important is to look at how your web hosting service provider does its job.

In order to make your website accessible to the public, you have to set up its assets on the server of your web host. However, the traffic going to your website is not the only traffic the server is dealing with.

There are other websites that are hosted on the server. The amount of traffic that goes to these websites on a daily basis will affect the amount of time it takes for your visitors to access your website.

You can read more about how a web host platform works in our article, “How To Choose Your Web Host”.

Does your business website need a CDN?

Put yourself in the shoes of the Internet searcher who decided to click on your content. It has been 10 seconds and your page has not loaded yet on his smartphone. On the Internet, 10 seconds is an eternity.

People are willing to wait 10 minutes for their cup of coffee, fall in line for 2 hours to get a movie ticket, and even camp overnight to get first dibs at the latest iPhone.

However, when it comes to the Internet, if they can’t access your content within 3 seconds, 40% will abandon the search.

Consumers are less patient on the Internet because they know there are other websites they can go to if they have a hard time accessing a particular website. In the real world, they can’t just cut in line so they can get their cup of coffee.

They do have the option to leave and visit another coffee shop. Chances are, they would rather wait “patiently” rather than take another drive or walk a block and go through the entire process of queuing for their orders.

In the age of digital technology, consumers have control in the palm of their hands. If they can’t get what they want in a few seconds, it will be “goodbye” to you and “hello” to your competitor. Therefore, website speed is very, VERY IMPORTANT!

If you still need more convincing on the importance of site speed, we have listed below other data and information that should leave no doubt in your mind:

  • A 1-second delay in website loading time can affect your sales conversion rate by 7%.

A CDN can help Internet searchers access your website faster. With a CDN, any issues you have with website speed will be a thing of the past. And it does not matter where your visitors come from.

How A CDN Improves Website Speed

Let us assume your web host’s server is located in Denver, Colorado and you do not have a CDN.

If an interested customer from London wants to access your content, he would have to load all of your assets from Colorado which in the reality of the Internet, would take a good amount of time.

Based on statistical evidence, there is a 40% chance the customer from London would have abandoned the search.

Now, let us assume you have a CDN – how would that change the experience of the visitor from London?

Keep in mind the technical definition of a CDN:

A GLOBAL network of servers that have been set up for the purpose of delivering Internet content at the fastest time possible.

With a CDN, the customer from London would be able to access your website from the server that is closest to him. Depending on the CDN service provider, the server might even be in London.

According to a study by KeyCDN, the use of a CDN has improved the loading times of websites by 50.31%.

A good analogy would be to think of a CDN as additional lanes in the information highway for your users to get to your website.

If there was only one lane open, as more users try to visit your website, that single lane would get jam-packed. The traffic will make your website more inaccessible to potential users.

However, if more lanes were opened up, other visitors will use those lanes to get to your website. With less traffic, your visitors will be able to access your website content much faster.

The end result would be better User Experience and consequently, happier customers.

Thus, having a CDN will allow your customers to load your content faster. In a highly-competitive industry, a CDN may be the difference-maker between you and your competitor.

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The Other Benefits Of A CDN

In addition to improving your website speed, there are other benefits to using a CDN:

1. Website Security

It is not just your followers and customers who will visit your website. Just like the neighborhood convenience store, your website will attract unsavory characters who want to steal valuable goods such as user data and other forms of confidential information.

Hackers will find ways to intercept transmitted data or infiltrate your website by setting up shop – illegally – on your server.

A CDN can defend your website from these attacks. The network can prevent hackers from compromising the web host’s server where your assets are located and stored.

Assuming that a hacker was able to find a way to bring down one server, there are other servers within the CDN that will continue to attend to the needs of your website visitors.

2. May Lower Cost of Web Hosting

When your website is generating a lot of traffic, it will use up a lot of your available bandwidth.

By using a CDN, you can offload some tasks to the other servers and reduce the strain on your bandwidth. It may lower the cost of your web hosting services.

However, there is a cost to subscribing to CDN service. You will have to factor in the cost when deciding to avail of CDN for your business website.

To clarify, getting a CDN does not mean you do not need to subscribe to a web host service provider.

Your CDN will give your website visitor access to limited assets – images, text, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript files- essentially, static content. You still need to have these assets hosted which mean “renting a space” from a web host service provider.

Think of a CDN as complementary to your web hosting platform. It will enhance the service and give your followers a better User Experience (UX).

Conclusion – Do You Need A CDN?

As you have just read, a CDN provides the following key benefits for your business website:

  • Enhances Site Speed
  • Tightens Up Site Security
  • Improves User Experience

Should these benefits automatically clinch your decision to get a CDN?

Before making a decision, here are a few factors that you need to consider:

1. Does Your Website Experience Heavy Traffic?

Websites that currently experience heavy traffic will be under constant threat of downtime. Definitely, if your website is generating a lot of visits, reward your users with better User Experience by getting a CDN.

2. Are You Anticipating Business Growth or Expansion In the Near Future?

If your studies show that your business is maintaining its growth trajectory, it would be a good idea to invest in a CDN now. Also, if you are planning to launch a new product or service, a CDN will guarantee its accessibility to interested customers.

3. Does Your Website Use a Lot of Media?

High-resolution images and top quality videos are popular forms of content for website visitors. They are particularly effective in delivering your message to the audience.

However, they will consume a big chunk of your bandwidth. Using a CDN will certainly contribute to better user experience as your website visitors have to load all of your images, videos, and content.

4. Where Are Most Of Your Visitors Coming From?

If your website attracts a vast international audience, then, by all means, subscribe to a CDN service provider. The global distribution of its servers will allow them to access your content faster.

However, if your website caters more to a local audience, a CDN would not be that beneficial to them.

If you are seriously considering a CDN service, give us a call and we will give you a free 30-minute consultation. Tell us about your business and we will advise you if a CDN service is needed for your website.

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A website is a valuable asset to have whether you are a large corporation or a small business. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, a website makes your products and services accessible 24/7.

It gives you a platform to share your expertise and enhance your reputation as an expert in the industry. The website is your storefront window. If it is mobile-responsive, people can access your website wherever they are.

And perhaps that is the problem with most websites – it only talks about the brand, the owners, the products and services, and the company.

Of course, the website is also a way of connecting with your customers through marketing. It can build your followers, generate leads, and convert interest into paying customers.

You have to promote the business and give your visitors important information on what you can do for them.

At Mountaintop, we view the website as more than just a business asset or a marketing tool.

For us, we think of the client’s website as a medium of communication – an avenue which the client should use to connect with the most important participant in the business cycle:

The Customer.

Why You Need A Website That Speaks To Customers

Have you ever had a conversation with a person you just met and all he ever wanted to talk about was himself?

His pronouns were limited to “I”, “Me”, and “Myself”.

We bet the “Exit” sign never looked more inviting!

A conversation involves 2 or more people interacting with each other. Essentially, a conversation has 2 participants – a talker and a listener.

You cannot have a conversation if only one person is talking. There must be an exchange of ideas or opinions. A feedback mechanism must exist for the communication cycle to continue.

In business, communication is a very important quality for the following reasons:

  • Fosters strong, long-lasting relationships
  • Addresses problems, issues, and concerns in a prompt and professional manner
  • Encourages everyone in the value chain to be more involved
  • Minimizes the incidence of misunderstandings
  • Builds loyalty and trust

If you only talk about yourself, how can you establish a relationship with the person you are having a conversation with if you won’t allow him/her to be heard?

The same analogy can be applied to a business website.

If all the business website talks about is its products and services, its history, and its founders, how would it know what the customers need if it doesn’t give them the opportunity to be heard?

Yes, brand-building is important for a business. In fact, we have written an article about it  “Importance Of Having A Strong Brand”.

We recommend giving the article a quick read. It will give you a good idea of why it is important to communicate or “speak” with your customers if you want to successfully build your brand.

Essentially, your brand is a promise. When your customers see it, they know what they are going to get. It encapsulates everything about you; the attributes that best define who you are and your business.

Thus, your brand is you. If you want your brand to resonate with your customer, it should allow feedback or a response.

The customer needs to see their story on your website. It should clearly articulate the following:

  • What your business offers to customers
  • How the business can make the customer’s life better
  • What the customer needs to do in order to purchase your products or service

In short, the customer should be able to see in their story everything that your business does.

The “About Us” page? It does not have to be about you.

The Home Page? The value proposition should not just speak of the brand. It should speak to the customer.

There are other ways to open up the communication channels of your website to your customers. By doing so, you will have a website that sells to customers.

1. Turn the “About Us” Page Into the “About You” Page

The About Us page is used to share information about the founders of the company; its main decision-makers and top managers. It reads like a Bio.

You will find information such as where they graduated from, their work experience, achievements, top skills, and maybe a few details about their personal lives.

An example of an About Us page content would read as follows:

“Albert D. Johnson – Founder, Johnson Manufacturing

I graduated from Princeton University in 1988 and had my first job as Operations Manager at Cartwright and Sons Manufacturing Company. After 25 years as a paid employee, I decided to start Johnson Manufacturing. In my spare time, I enjoy walking my dogs, reading poetry, and wine tasting.”

While the bio is short and concise, how would the information help the customer?

What is the value of the shared information – Albert’s Princeton degree, his first job, the decision to start his own company, and wine tasting – to the customer?

Instead of making the About Us page about you, make it about the customer.

Show the customer why they have come to the right place – that your business understands their concerns and has the products, services, skills, and expertise to help them address their problems.

Here is how we would rewrite Albert Johnson’s About Us bio:

“Hi! I’m Albert Johnson. After 25 years in the manufacturing industry, I decided to put up Johnson Manufacturing. It was my way of addressing all the problems I saw in the companies I worked for.

At Johnson, our products go through a strict 5-tier Quality Control system so that our customers will get what they paid for – and more! We signed up partnerships with logistics and delivery companies such as Argo Transportation and Levingston Logistics to ensure prompt service for you.

Our commitment is to surpass YOUR expectations every time!”

The bio is more conversational. It speaks directly to the customer. From the founder’s own words, you know what the company is all about and how it can help you address your own needs.

2. Make Your Products and Services Page Relevant to Your Customers

The Products and Services page is one of the most popular sections on your website. Customers click on it to see what merchandise you sell or types of services you offer.

Information on product specifications, pricing, production timetable, and delivery dates are fine.

Here is an example of a write up on a running shoe:

Brand:  Thundra

Model: Trail Runner RX77

Product Specifications:

  • Made of graphene
  • Lightweight
  • Available in sizes 7 to 16

Price: $220

The information provided is standard for a running shoe. Again, the question begs to be asked:

How will the information help the customer find the shoe he needs?

Here is a better, more customer-centric write up:

Brand: Thundra

Model: Trail Runner RX77

Product Specifications:

Trail Runner RX77 was designed for runners who love running over rough trail. The shoe is made of Graphene which is the lightest material ever developed but is 200 times stronger than steel!

The RX77 weighs in at only 280gms, the lightest trail shoe on the market. It has an 8mm heel drop which helps stabilize your heels when running up and down mountains.

The shoe is designed for flat-footed runners. However, if you have an arch, Thundra can install a customized support heel for you.

Price: $220

The new and improved write up on the shoe product clearly resonates more with the customer. It contains more specific details about the shoe; its advantages, key selling points, and whom it is for.

3. Highlight Third-Party Validation

Forget celebrities. The customer is the best endorser for your products and services.

Third-party validation such as testimonies, case studies, awards and other forms of recognition are powerful tools that assure the customer that they have come to the right website.

If your business has forged partnerships with other reputable companies, it would be a good idea to include their logos on your website.

Third-party validation act as “emotional triggers”. They give customers a feeling of safety and protection.

Seeing other popular brands affiliated with your company will further encourage your customers to transact with you instead of your competitors.

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4. Contact Information Must Be Complete

How do you react when you come across a website where the contact information does not include an office address or a phone number?

Some companies don’t see the need for including an office address or a phone number because they do business exclusively online.

Customers may think otherwise. A business that does not include key information such as an office address and a phone number may appear dodgy.

If you want to foster trust with your customer, you must be transparent about your business’ information even if you run everything online. It would be a great idea to publish pictures of your office; your managers and staff.

5. Secure Your Website

We have written extensively about the importance of securing your website in our articles “Why It Is More Important To Secure Your Data In 2019” and “SSL Basics: Why You Need To Protect Your Website From Hackers”.

For the reason that hacking and other acts of cyber-criminality have been increasing in frequency, consumers have become more cautious in dealing with websites that are not secure.

In response, Google made a game-changing adjustment in its algorithm. The Internet’s largest search engine gave a search ranking boost to websites that have SSL certificates.

In contrast, websites that don’t have SSL certificates will be marked “Not Secure”. If you own a website, would you risk getting marked “Not Secure” by Google?

Getting SSL certificates for your website will offer your customers more safety and protection. Most importantly, they will feel valued by you.

If you want to get SSL certificates for your website, give us a call or an email. We provide this service to our clients. It will be one of the best decisions you can make for your website.

6. Improve User Experience

If they can’t find it, they won’t buy it.

That is a popular adage in sales. Whether you own a department store like Walmart or run an e-commerce business, navigability plays a big role in customer experience.

Your website must be easy for customers to navigate. Unlike a Walmart where a customer won’t mind perusing through multiple aisles before finding what they need, consumers’ online behavior is much different.

If your customer can’t find what he is looking for, he will click out and go to your competitor. All of this can happen within 8 seconds.

Before we make a recommendation for a redesign to our clients, we take the time to study the site’s analytics.

Specifically, we will focus on traffic and usage patterns. We look for trends and base our redesign recommendations on available data. The idea is to make the client’s website as easy to navigate as possible.

Likewise, if you have procedures, list down the process in a step-by-step format with the instructions as clear cut as possible.

What procedures are these?

  • How to order
  • How to reach customer service
  • How to file complaints

The easier it is for customers to use your website, the greater the probability of them patronizing your business.

7. Encourage Your Customers to Give Feedback

The general rule when conceptualizing a business is to create a product or service for your customer. Identify a need then come up with a product or service that provides the solution.

Therefore, it makes sense to get your customers involved in the product development process. Your product must evolve according to the changing needs of your market.

We can integrate feedback forms and email links on your website. Encourage the customer to provide feedback about your business. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews.

In business, you should not expect to please everyone. Negative reviews can help you pinpoint flaws in your products, services, and processes so you can find ways to improve on them.

8. Be Clear About Your CTAs

A Call-To-Action or CTA is an instruction to your customer: What do you want your customer to do?

Customers prefer CTAs that are clear and very definitive in what the business wants them to do. Passive CTAs such as “Learn More” and “Get Started” won’t work.

The CTA can be a powerful button on your website. However, it should come across as more decisive and definitive.

Good examples of decisive CTAs are “Buy Now” and “Sign Up For Our Newsletter”.

Conclusion

For your brand-building strategy to succeed, it should have a constant cycle of communication with your customers.

Your website gives you the platform to communicate with your customers so you can build strong, long-lasting, and productive relationships.

If you are thinking of building a website or want your current one redesigned, give us a call. We will make you a website that will clearly sell to your customers!

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ICANN is the acronym for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is a non-profit organization that is responsible for ensuring the stability, integrity, and secure operation of the Internet.

The first step to buying a domain name is to look for a registrar that is accredited by ICANN. Once you buy the domain name, the registrar will be required by the laws and provisions governing ICANN to enter your personal information into its WHOIS database.

The WHOIS database is a directory that is highly searchable. It can be accessed free-of-charge by any person who wants to verify the authenticity and availability of a domain name.

What personal information will be uploaded?

  • Your complete name
  • Email address
  • Business address
  • Contact numbers

If you are the type of person who does not want to give out these types of personal information to public listings, you should register your domain as private.

By choosing private domain registration for your domain name, your personal information in the WHOIS database will be replaced by those of the registrar’s own information.

In fact, some domain name registrars can even come up with a unique email address that will be listed as your contact email address on the WHOIS database. This way, your company or personal email address will remain secure from individuals who have malicious intent.

3 Reasons Why You Should Register Your Domain As Private

Despite the potential risks to personal information, there are businesses that opt for business registration.  

To clarify, business registration means having your personal information listed openly in the ICANN WHOIS database. They want to have their business data publicly accessible for the following reasons:

  • Promote their business
  • Create impressions of trust and transparency
  • Enhance the online presence of the business

We understand the importance of promotion and the value of establishing trust and transparency with the market. However, there are other ways – much safer and lower risk ways – of promoting the business.

That is why at Mountaintop, we always recommend that our clients register their domain name as private.

Is private domain registration an add-on service? Yes, which means opting for it will entail a fee that is separate from the usual cost of registering a domain name. Think of the fee as your insurance premium for keeping your personal information safe from hackers, online criminals, and other unsavory groups on the Internet.  

Here are other reasons why you should register your domain as private:

1. Personal Information Should Be Kept “FYEO”

If your personal information is made public, it is not just the hackers you should worry about. Your information can be used by marketers, suppliers, and competitors to serve their own purposes.

You might find yourself inundated with phone calls from telemarketers. Your inbox could be flooded with product or service offerings from vendors and suppliers. With your key information out, you may leave your business vulnerable to cutthroat strategies from your competitors.

For example, an aggressive but unscrupulous competitor may contract the services of a cyber-criminal to run phishing expeditions on your email. A competitor may try to get spies to procure sensitive information from you via phone.

We will discuss the importance of keeping your email secure toward the end of the article. You may be surprised at the extent of damage you can incur by having your email compromised.

In business, it is always a good practice to keep your sensitive or confidential data as FYEO or For Your Eyes Only. Information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and business address should be given judiciously.

You want to give these types of information only to entities that can directly contribute to the growth of your business such as:

  • Stakeholders – or those who are part of your value chain. This shortlist includes qualified suppliers/ vendors, current and prospective clients, management and select personnel, and business partners.
  • Strategic Partners – Strategic Partners are entities – companies or individuals – where formal arrangements are entered into for the benefit of your business. An example would be an outsourcing agreement between you and an outsourcing service provider.

As we mentioned, you can promote your business without having to disclose personal information. A good example would be to run a Digital Marketing campaign.

A Digital Marketing strategy that incorporates processes such as SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and PPC or Pay-Per-Click Advertising can successfully increase awareness and enhance the Internet profile of your business without revealing your personal information.

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2. Number of Cyber-Attacks Will Continue to Increase

In our article, “Why Is It More Important To Secure Your Data In 2019”, we shared our opinion that acts of cyber-criminality will continue to increase over the next few years.

Cyber-crime has become a lucrative industry. Highly sensitive data such as Social Security and bank account numbers, credit card numbers, birth dates, email addresses, and phone numbers can fetch a good price on the dark web.

All a cyber-criminal needs is a small opening. Once he gets access, your confidential data becomes at risk. Unlike a brick-and-mortar business where access points are doors and windows, the Internet provides multiple points of entry:

  • Outdated plugins
  • Outdated or unused software
  • Obsolete antivirus programs and firewalls
  • Weak passwords
  • Lax administrative processes
  • Opening suspicious emails
  • Accessing suspicious websites

Driven by profit, these cyber-criminals are motivated to stay ahead of the cyber-security experts. In fact, agencies such as the CIA and the FBI are fighting fire-with-fire by hiring hackers to come up with more powerful anti-malware tools and programs.

It is a good idea to err on the side of caution and invest in programs that will protect your personal data.

Last year, we launched our Extreme WordPress Care Plans. These programs are designed to help our clients manage their websites, make sure they are running in perfect condition, and protected from malicious attacks.

As an entrepreneur, your time is best dedicated to the core functions of your business. Leave domain security to us! You can sleep well knowing that your website is under close guard and watch 24/7.

3. Secure Your Email

If there is a singular way or process that best represents our online activity, it would be the email.

Think about it.

We check our emails more than we check our social media accounts. We use our email to sign up for newsletters or gain access to some websites. Whenever you run online banking transactions, chances are your email address is needed to verify your identity.

Online shopping, social media… the list goes on. Your email is the key that allows you to gain entry into these platforms. If someone grabs ahold of your email address, these platforms can be compromised.

Can you imagine what would happen if someone gained access to your webmail? He could easily search and find every website you frequent including your online banking platform. All the hacker needs to do is to request the website for a password reset.

The hacker can also view your Inbox and sent messages. With that information, the hacker can establish your weekly calendar of activities and determine your whereabouts.

The hacker can find out your schedule of online conference calls with clients and eavesdrop on the discussion. If you save work on Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets, your documents can be stolen by the hacker.

We bring these scenarios up with clients whenever we discuss the importance of registering their domain as private.

Conclusion

As we mentioned earlier in this article, be judicious when it comes to giving out personal information such as email. On the Internet, you do not know who is searching and watching. Whenever you are venturing into the Internet, always think “safety first”.

As popular and as accessible as the Internet is, it remains The Great Unknown. Keep your assets secure and protected by adding layers of security at every opportunity. Start by registering your domain as private.

Have you experienced any breach in security? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Let our readers know how you dealt with the situation and what you learned from the experience.

If you want to know more about our web design services and our Extreme WordPress Care Plans, please feel free to give us a call or an email.

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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.

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Competitors can make running a business difficult to run smoothly. With competition, even a small mistake could send consumers to another business that offers a similar product. Making sure you are unique and have fantastic customer service is a must in order to compete today. But is that all? What strategies are your competitors using that you are not? More importantly, how can you monitor your competitor’s analytics so you can know how to steer your company? One of the most effective ways a business can grow is by monitoring and imitating the tactics used by their rivals. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to do this effectively.

Go Beyond a Google Search

As you begin your research to monitor your competitor’s actions, it’s always good to start your research with a google search, but be sure not to stop there. It is a good idea to turn on Google Alerts, which will help notify you when there is an announcement or important news being announced by a rival or competitor. These notifications alert you to changes that you would otherwise spend a lot of valuable time trying to find. Another great resource to use to keep up with your competitors is Spyfu, which will let you know about the keywords and Adwords that your competitors are using and how successfully they are working for them. 

Spend Some Time on Their Website

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find out information about your competition is to familiarize yourself with their website. You should pay attention to the content that is popular and shared the most often. For example, if a keyword is working for your competitor over and over again, maybe it’s time you implemented similar keywords or targets to your own campaign. You can use Buzzsumo to find out more regarding shared content, what influences their customers most, and how your domain and keywords match up with your competition.

Talk to Your Customers

There is a reason why your customers chose you over your competitors. Usually the best research you can do is speaking directly to the people who chose your brand over another. Ask your customers why they used a previous business and what attracted them to yours. What other companies were they considering, if any? You may learn about new strategies and even incorporate similar ideas into your own business.

Another great way to access customer information is through reviews online. This allows you to see honest discussion about what consumers are looking for and what they would like improved. Online reviews allow the contributors to remain anonymous, which gives them the freedom to honestly discuss an organization without backlash of any kind. While someone may be cautious how they talk about a company they work for or buy from regularly, anonymous reviews allow for honest discussion and can be the most trustworthy platform on which to gain information.

Pay Attention to SEO

Search engine optimization is important because it is what increases visibility on the web and allows people to find you easier. You should pay attention to the SEO techniques your competitors are using. Are they using a company to help boost their website, or are they using google to help promote their website? In today’s world, being easy to find and access online is one of the most important tools you can use to help boost business. If your competitors are doing it right, you should learn how to effectively utilize SEO as well.

Call Them

After you have done research on your competitors, it never hurts to just pick up the phone and give them a call. In many cases, companies will not mind answering questions that you ask, and you may be pleasantly pleased with how much they are willing to tell you for free.

Attend a Conference

Attending conferences held by your competitors can help you better understand your competitor’s points of view, as well as more information regarding their products and services. Make sure that you visit the competitor’s booths and interact with them.

As important as your own strategy is, it is just as vital in today’s business world to know your competitor’s strategies just as well.

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So, you decided to take your business to the next level and invest in a nice website?

Awesome!

But, what you should know is that despite the beautiful design and good overall usability, your sleek new website needs tweaking and fine-tuning if you want it to live up to your expectations in terms of conversions and bottom line.

Many people make a mistake by thinking that once the website is finished and live, their only task is to update content and fix potential bugs.

The truth is that the real work begins only after your audience gets a chance to visit your website thus allowing you to monitor its performance in the real world and optimize it for conversions.

This means that you need a solid, easy-to-follow CRO plan, so let’s see how to craft it.

Why Do You Need a Plan?

That’s a good question.

The main reason for having a conversion optimization plan in place is to establish the right goals, methods, and tasks which will help you make the most of your website and turn it into a conversion machine. Without a plan, it’s easy to lose focus and waste your time on things that don’t particularly matter.

It’s about setting your priorities and identifying what the problem is and how to solve it in the most effective and efficient manner.

Although the approach “Let’s see if it’s possible to convert more people if I change this or that element” is a good starting point, it needs to evolve and cover different areas of your sales process, and your business in general.

1. Collect Data

You’ve probably heard that popular phrase “People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves,” and it perfectly sums up why you need to have a deep understanding of your customers, their needs, interests, and issues, as well as how they perceive your business and website, if you want to optimize your conversions.

Having the right data is essential for gaining valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, that is, what areas, pages, and elements of your website should be optimized.

This step is crucial for helping you see where you stand and what assets you have.

As this is a pretty comprehensive process, it’s a good idea to break it down into three main categories.

In other words, you need to gather data on the following areas:

  • The company itself. Dig deeper and identify the “why” of the company – why it exists and why customers like it. It’s not always about superb products and services. There’s that special X factor, which makes a particular company and its messaging appealing, and it’s up to you to pinpoint what it is and implement your findings into your CRO plan. Identifying the unique sales proposition is essential because it’s what distinguishes your company from competitors who sell similar products or services. The USP is integrated into your marketing messages and its role is to capture your customers’ attention and give them a reason to explore your website further. Finally, learn what your customers’ common objections and complaints are. Talk to your customer support reps and they will provide you with customers’ feedback. If we bear in mind that 67% of customers name bad experiences with a brand as their main reason for churn, but only 1 out of 26 will actually complain, it’s self-explanatory why this step is a must. So, knowing what your customers feel about your company is a make-it-break-it factor when it comes to improving your CRO.
  • The website. Your website analytics should be accurate and detailed. Be in the know about all the relevant metrics such as the amount of traffic, dwell time, bounce rates, conversion rates, as well as the demographic information. The data about the browsers and devices they use to access your website is extremely important, especially after Google officially rolled out mobile-first indexing in July 2018. The fact that most people visit your website from their computers might indicate that there’s something that they don’t like about the mobile version.
  • The customers. This is, perhaps, the most important area and you should use different methods and tools in order to feel the pulse of your audience. Use heatmaps to find out what pages they visit and engage with most and use surveys to hear their first-hand opinions and experiences.

2. Create a Hypothesis

After this lengthy and demanding first step, it’s time to put these findings to good use.

You’ve probably identified a couple of issues on your website that need to be solved. There are two options when it comes to testing a page that returned poor results – you can either build it from scratch and test that new version, or you can change a couple of elements and A/B split test them.

For example, if the data shows that your CTA button doesn’t generate clicks, you can introduce a number of changes, such as the copy, different colors, and fonts, and test them.

But before you start experimenting, you should be able to clearly state why you believe that a particular change will improve your conversion rates and what problem it solves.

Again, you need to know:

  • What you’re testing. Let’s say that you’ve found out that a lot of your customers abandon their shopping cart and that your customer support reps frequently answer questions about how secure the checkout process on your website is. This clearly shows that you need to introduce some trust signals which will convince your customers that it’s safe for them to trust you with their personal information. For example, using an SSL certificate and switching to the HTTPS protocol, offering multiple payment methods, and showing payment assurance certifications are some of them.
  • Who you’re testing. There are different ways to split your audience, not just based on demographic data. You can, for example, test your repeat customers, one-time customers, or those who abandoned their shopping cart. Segmenting customers based on the browser they use is also helpful because you won’t test Opera users if the element you want to test doesn’t load properly in this browser.

3. Test Your Hypothesis

It’s showtime.

Although implementing new design and testing it might seem like a complicated task, there are useful tools that can significantly simplify the process.

Some of them include Optimizely and Visual Web Optimizer.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • Make sure that your new design displays properly across different browsers before it goes live.
  • Choose how much traffic you will direct to your test pages. If you have a lot of visitors, then this step can help you control possible risks in case that your design fails and your conversions on the test pages drop.
  • Don’t neglect the average order value, because although your conversion rates might be low for the pages you test, the average order value might go up.

So, set all these things up before you launch your tests if you want to get accurate readings. If you want to run your tests efficiently and effectively, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of experts from respectable web design agencies who will offer you their take on your ideas and implement everything properly.

4. Review Your Results

In this stage, you’ll review your results and see whether your hypothesis has been correct.

However, before you get down to work, it’s important to establish whether statistical significance has been reached. This is a complex concept, so check out this article which will tell you more about it.

Luckily, even if you’re not familiar with statistical significance, most optimization tools will give you this information.

If your hypothesis is correct, then implement these design changes properly and send all your traffic there. However, it’s important to keep track of your metrics closely to see whether everything works as expected.

If your hypothesis isn’t correct, make sure to save all your data from these unsuccessful tests, and go back to square one – create another hypothesis and do it all over again.

It’s crucial not to give up because failed tests are gold mines of data that you can use later.

These 4 steps can help you get to the bottom of a CRO plan that everybody can understand and implement.

Harris Norman is a 35-year-old web developer, born and raised in San Francisco Bay Area. Harris is also very passionate about spending time in nature, which is why he spends all of his free time hiking, sailing and mountain climbing. His design skills are admirable, which is why he’s got a special place among the writers of designrush.com. When he’s not running around chasing adventure, he likes to play the trombone, though not very well.