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Yes, while we do offer companies a few alternatives that they can chose from, however typically, for someone just starting out or is new to the internet, and not sure if it's for them then I recommend Microsoft Office Live. It allow comanies to be able to have a website, email, and other features to better manage your business. If we can help you please do not hesitate to contact us.
As a small business owner, finding someone to build/manage your website can be like a fat man asking for a shoeshine. How do you know if they're good? What factors do you evaluate? Do you need to quiz their technical capabilities, check references from other customers, look at their own site/portfolio, evaluate how good they say they are, go with what your friends have-- or just choose by price from a known brand?
Like Dave, managing online traffic is our full-time profession, so it's interesting to see the perspective from other dedicated internet marketers, as well as small business owners that are trying to make the right choice. So it depends on what you want to do online. I am new to the BankofAmerica.com online forum, so I'd love to hear how others approach this.
First question is "How much do you want to spend?" $200, $5,000, $100k? Will spending a lot more really be necessary and what will it get you? That will self-select you for whether you need a cookie-cutter solution for a few hundred dollars or something semi-custom for a few thousand dollars. If you are so bold, you can even go to contract sites like rentacoder.com or elance.com and post your project--- often getting excellent results from an offshore firm for a fraction of what you'd spend here (assuming you're in the US). I've hired folks on rentacoder who are in the US, so it doesn't have to Indian and Russian folks who provide good value. If you're a local service business who is sole proprietor, a good rule of thumb is to look at your existing marketing budget and assume a third of it should be spent online. And that budget needs to be on-going-- just like your yellow pages, if you do that. Whether you need a shopping cart (you sell products that are shipped) or need a lead gen site (you sell services and want prospects to fill out a form or call you)-- there are plenty of free technologies that can get you there quickly.
Next, what do you want the site to do? Best way to help out a prospective service provider is to be detailed about what you want. Easiest thing to do for non-technical people is to point to similar sites that have either the look or functionality that you want--- that approach is easier than writing a product requirements spec, if you haven't done that before. Be really specific. If you don't have a logo or design already, figure that you're going to pay a bit more. If your shopping cart will have a lot of products and your product images need to be manipulated for the web-- figure it's going to cost more. If you want a "unique", custom look, consider that, too. The more you change your mind-- called "scope creep"-- about what you want, the more it will cost--- so avoid these issues up-front. Keep in mind that low end providers will probably charge $30/hour, with the midrange around $70/hour and high-end at above $100/hour. Ultra-high end can be above $400/hour, if money is no object. So if you're on a time-and-materials project, keep in mind that changes will cost you more money. If you want a site with lots of custom animation, you will pay for it. The good news is that you can get a templated site that is tasteful and doesn't look like a template for just a few hundred dollars.
What skillsets do you need? This one is tricky, and we've seen the majority of small businesses fall down on this point. You might get a visual designer to build you a site that is both beautiful and has the functionality that you want. And it may be only a couple hundred bucks (not that cheaper implies low quality) using an open source shopping cart or content management system. But after you launch, the site gets no traffic. What happened? And what do you do about it? You probably hired a shop that can build visually stimulating sites using Flash or any other technology, but is invisible to search engines. If you don't specify that your goals are to drive traffic, leads, and sales from the outset-- this is where you might end up--- with a site that is invisible to search engines. Make sure that your designer understands what it means to make a search engine friendly site. If you're already at this point, odds are that you don't have to rebuild your site, but can make simple tweaks to turn the traffic on.
Make sure to budget for maintenance and marketing. As mentioned earlier, once you build the site and launch, you are not done. You have to keep the content fresh and bring in traffic. When you want to update your product list or talk about a new service you offer-- do you have an easy way to do that? Perhaps there is a nice web interface that you are comfortable using? Or maybe you want a full-service solution where someone else handles all that for you--- and you're okay with delegating for an additional cost. To bring traffic to your site, you will likely need some SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (paid search), and email marketing.
- *SEO is not black magic*-- it's having good content that real humans want to read. Tricks will help you in the short run, but eventually you'll get busted. Tricks are anything that's too good to be true-- or automated processes that guarantee tons of traffic overnight and first position rankings. If you're a dentist in San Francisco, make sure your provider knows how to get you to show up in a search for "san francisco dentists".
- *SEM is buying clicks from search engines*-- primarily Google. Those results on the right side of searches are ads--- you can bid for them. Do it yourself (it's easy to get started) or hire someone to build and manage your campaigns if you don't have the time or inclination. Your web shop should understand how this is done.
- Email marketing is connecting with prospective and existing clients. When do YOU sign up for email lists? Probably when you've been to a site that you like-- it's got great content about something you're interested in and you'd like to be notified when there's something new. Rentention is a much easier and cost-effective strategy than acquiring new clients-- better to stem leaks than to pour more and more into the top of your customer funnel. Make sure you have a method (software or tool) to manage your email lists and content. If you think of the web as a place where people come to shop, think of email as the vehicle that brings them there-- or brings the website to them. An email is just like a webpage--- except it's being brought to you, versus you having to go somewhere to retrieve it.
insert your language or technology hereis insufficient. If you hire someone who is really good at visual design, make sure you have someone else who can work with that person to fill in the missing pieces.
If you'd like a template for how to evaluate providers in this context, send a private message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope this is helpful--- love to see how other folks approach this problem.
I have found the best way, potentially only way to build a reputation is to offer pro bono services.
In other words if you are having trouble generating clients, offer a few pro bono websites.
It helps your reputation, your design portfolio, as well as vreates awareness of who you are and what you do.
These are two questions.
1) If you're new to the Internet, Microsoft Live is good to play around with a website. It is free for one year, then $14.98 for the year, but if you want an email list, or ecommerce features, you pay extra. So learn the fees of the "extra's" you'll need so that you can make an informed decision. Hostgator is whom I use. It has lots of support even for the lowest prices programs and is a program that can grow with me. And I have a few clients who use godaddy, look at the prices on the plans that provide ezine/newsletter and ecommerce, cause that's where you'll eventually be. Here are the links.
Microsoft Live http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/
Go daddy http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-1916870-1038
2) As for leads... I teach web site/marketing classes. People who join your ezine want privacy, so I do not ever give this private information to anyone, for any price. However... I do joint ventures with other business owners who have lists and the exact same clients as I do. Once you get your site up and running, and your newsletter or ecourse going and have subscribers, you can look for others who have your ideal clients and similar size lists and they may Jv with you. Also look up JV on the web, so you learn what that's all about.
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One of the biggest sources of business for any business in network generated leads (customers brought in by friends of other customers). My question to all of you in the technical field, is who do you know as "a good website company"? Do you have a friend who does it in his spare time; do you recommend the people who did your website; does any one give you referrals (or commission) in exchange for return referrals?
Thanks in advance guys!
*"*Get it right with RongDesign!"
Thanks in advance guys!
Dave Moore @
*"*Get it right with RongDesign!"