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Three Quick Tips for Better Marketing

When it comes to marketing your website or online business, it can be easy to forget about marketing it offline, too. Although traditional online methods such as email marketing and having a local search profile are both vital, think about all the potential customers you might be missing! Here, we give you three quick tips on how to build your business and create a strong brand though offline AND online marketing.

1. Keep It Consistent
When it comes to your business, consistency is one of the most important things to keep in mind, and ultimately, it strengthens your brand identity while helping customers easily identify your business. So when you want to create something new to market your biz, whether it’s as small as a postcard or as large as an email marketing campaign, start off by ask yourself the following questions:

Will my logo be easy to recognize?
Is my design template memorable?
Does my content match the theme of my business?

The answer to all of those questions should be yes, but if it’s not, don’t worry! Vistaprint offers hundreds of matching design templates so you can create marketing materials to match your business card, website, brochure and more!

2. Avoid a Marketing Rut
If you find yourself using the same advertising methods over and over again, it might be time to get creative. Using a variety of mediums can help you acquire a larger customer base and can have great returns. For instance, if you run a local business, and have been using mostly online marketing to generate in-store traffic, you might want to see if mailing postcards in your area can encourage more people to stop in. Plus, you can track its success by asking people to bring in their postcard in order to receive a discount or a free gift. There are other offline marketing products that can give you great results. Some inventive examples include leaving flyers in local shops, posting lawn signs to attract passersby and using car magnets to increase your exposure as you commute.

3. Get It Together
The more your advertising and marketing tools work together, the more success they will bring your business. Your offline materials should support your online efforts and vice-versa. Hint: Make sure your print pieces – such as business cards, postcards and brochures – contain all of your contact information. Include your website address and your business email address, and encourage prospective customers to visit your website or sign up for your e-newsletters.

Although we’ve just scratched the surface of this subject, if all of your customer communication is working together online and offline as one cohesive unit, you will create a professional look, be viewed as a reputable and trustworthy business and drive more traffic to your store. Even if customers can’t remember where they put your flyer, they’ll still remember you – that’s the power of a strong brand identity.

Websites We Love: Site Evolution

In this installment of Websites We Love, we asked our Internet Marketing Facebook community how they encourage their customers and/or Website visitors to get in touch with them. As usual, we received a number of awesome responses, but had to choose just ONE winner.

This week's Website We Love comes from Erica Jayne Clavin, who thinks that when it comes to customers getting in contact with her, simple is sometimes best! "I encourage visitors to fill out a simple contact form connected to my website email," she says. She also points out that a successful website is constantly evolving, and your customers dictate what's added to the site. "I also encourage them to view my other online locations, as I am currently redeveloping my website to better suit my visitors needs," she says. "If [customers] are close enough to my area, they can visit me at the salon, or join on my many volunteer activities!" Congrats, Erica!

Do you agree? How important is your site's evolution? Tell us in the comments section!

Welcome to Websites We Love

When thinking about how to showcase all the great sites our customers build, we came up with a neat idea: ask our Internet Marketing Facebook Community to share theirs! We received such a great response, we're turning it into a weekly feature. Every Wednesday, we'll highlight one awesome site here on the blog, and on our Facebook page.

As we mentioned, we received a ton of great responses, so it was very hard for us to choose just one to highlight. Our first Website We Love comes from Lisa Draisey of Parkland Bridal. Her favorite feature? The blog, where there is a ton of info for customers! We're also big fans of her clean design, great content and picture-packed testimonials section. Congrats, Lisa!

Want your site to be featured here? Keep an eye on our Facebook page for our next Websites We Love announcement! In the meantime, you can check out all the great sites that were posted here and here.

Seven Simple Tips for Going Mobile

Whether it’s at work, a restaurant or the gym, it seems as though iPhonesAndroids  and iPads  are everywhere. According to Digital Buzz, that’s not very far from the truth; in fact, mobile devices are fast becoming the most popular way  to access the Web. But what is the difference between a standard website and a mobile site? The easy answer is accessibility. Imagine trying to fit everything on your home page onto your phone’s screen. Not pretty, right? It would be overcrowded, difficult to read, and even harder to navigate. Mobile sites can alleviate those usability issues, reduce load time and, perhaps most importantly, make it super-simple for users to contact you while they’re on the go. And now, you can set up a mobile site through Vistaprint!
 
 
Small Tips, Big Benefits
Setting up a mobile site isn’t as difficult as you might think, and following the tactics below can help you — and your customers — get the most out of your mobile site.
 
  • Make it useful. A customer is probably accessing your business’s site from a mobile device because he or she wants to get in touch with you…what he or she doesn’t want to do is navigate through a number of pages before finding out how to reach you. Keep the info your visitors are looking for on the home page, at their fingertips, and make sure it’s easy to read and click.
    Hint: Try adding a prominent “Contact Us”button.
  • Stick with easy navigation.Large font, big buttons and short sentences can help make your mobile site easier to navigate. Forcing visitors to work hard to view info will likely cause them to give up, and move on. A major advantage of mobile sites is that they’re formatted to mobile devices, so everything is larger, but contained within a specific width so users won’t have to scroll to find their way through your site.
    Hint: Check out your mobile site on an actual mobile device…if you find it difficult to navigate, imagine how visitors will feel!
  • Keep it simple. Remember, on a mobile device, viewers are likely interested in learning about your products, finding directions or getting in touch with you. And while you want your site to be informative, too much info will give your visitors more pages to sift through before they get to their desired destination.
    Hint: If you think you’ve added too much content, chances are you have. Think about consolidating it through the use of bullet points.
  • Speed it up. Tons of images, videos and unnecessary content can make your mobile site’s load time far too long.
    Hint: Save the flashy stuff for your main website! You don’t need to trash all the bells and whistles you love, just think mobile = minimal.
  • Proofread. Performing simple checks, such as confirming your phone number is accurate and verifying that your address is up-to-date, will pay off in the long run…and make for happier customers.
    Hint: Don’t forget to spell- and grammar-check. Knowing the difference between “you’re” and “your” can go a long way.
  • Publish your hours of operation. Although it might seem obvious, forgetting to publish and update your store hours is a common mistake. Remember, users will likely be looking at your site when they’re on the go, or when they’re looking to contact you; inaccurate hours can mean a missed business opportunity.
    Hint: Be sure to keep this info front and center, along with your phone number.
  • Get social! Adding social media buttons to your site so you can communicate with users in the social space is key.

    Hint: No need to add every social site on the Internet — Facebook and Twitter is a good place to start.
 
Don’t forget to check out our website, where in just a few steps, you can now set up your own mobile site!

Digital Marketing Dictionary

We get it — when it comes to getting listed online, the process can be overwhelming. The first step is understanding what terms such as “local search” and “organic search” mean, and how they relate to your site.


Key Terms

Local Search
: The basic definition revolves around geography. Results are displayed when a potential customer searches online for a product or service within a specific geographic location. For example, if you type “landscaping, Boston” into Google, Yahoo orYelp, it will return Local Search results for landscaping businesses in Boston.

Social Media: According to Merriam-Webster, Social Media includes “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” Whether or not you use Social Media in your personal life, utilizing it as a marketing tool for your business can have big benefits. Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to engage with existing customers and connect with new ones.

Organic Search: The original type of results in a search engine that include a list of websites. Major search engines such as Google evaluate websites based on credibility and relevancy so that searchers find the best matches for their search.

Search Engine Optimization: Otherwise known as SEO, it is the process of optimizing your website so it shows up in organic search. One specific way to do this is to think about various keywords that you use within your content.

Keywords: Think for a moment about what words you type in to your preferred search engine when you’re looking for something specific. For instance, if you were searching online for a restaurant that served a particular dish, but you couldn’t recall the name of the restaurant, you would likely type in keywords such as your location, the dish’s name, or perhaps even the main elements of the dish.

Paid Search: Results are advertisements or "sponsored links" in search engines that businesses can purchase from sites such as Google. Paid Search is a useful form of online marketing for some businesses because one can see results immediately, however, unlike other more gradual types of online marketing, it does cost money.
 
Over the next few months, we’ll be posting specific content about how you can utilize these key digital marketing terms. Can’t wait for the post? Keep in mind that we have an extensive Online Guide that can be found on your dashboard!

Group Buying 101

This post originally appeared on Vistaprint's Micro Business Perspectives Blog.

Here is a general overview of group buying and how small businesses are using it.

If you type “group buying” into Google, you’ll get over 44,500,000 results. The most recognized player however, is probably Groupon, a Chicago-based company that has enjoyed explosive growth over the past few years. The business model is simple: Groupon typically keeps half of the money generated from the deal, and the other half goes to the featured retailer. If, for instance, a $160 dinner is offered for $80 on the site, Groupon and the restaurant split the $80. As we mentioned, Groupon is just one of many group buying sites. Others in the space include LivingSocial, Google Offers and Gilt.
 
 
What about my business?

The big question, of course, is how does (or doesn’t) group buying fit into the world of a micro business owner? The first step might be looking at a few pros and cons. Although there are a number of advantages to consider when it comes to group buying, the biggest is likely the opportunity to generate buzz and in the end, reach a deep pool of new consumers you might not have been able to before. According to a Financial Times piece, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason thinks his company is the perfect way for small businesses to do just that: “We’re hands down the best way to get customers through the door,” he says. “Which for small businesses is the difference between success and failure.” And while customer procurement is undoubtedly vital, small business owners also have to weigh a number of important risk factors like potential financial impact, and whether or not they’ll be able to honor the deal if it takes off.
 
ToMuse takes a hard look at whether or not group buying is cost effective, and ultimately comes to the conclusion that it really depends on the offer. And as for delivering on the deal, one cautionary tale comes in the form of a cupcake. Rachel Brown, who runs a small bakery outside of London, featured what she thought was a simple deal on Groupon (a 75 percent discount on a dozen cupcakes) that would maybe generate a few hundred orders. Instead, she was flooded, finally cutting the orders off at a staggering 8,500 — which, for the record, is a lot of cupcakes. According to the Daily Mail, her business took a massive hit. “Because [Brown’s] deal had been so generous and the demand so huge, she made a loss on every order – wiping out her profits for the entire year,” the publication reports.

In the end, not all businesses are the same, and the decision comes down to you as a small business owner asking the right questions, such as: Is the risk worth the potential gain? Can I afford to offer such a deep discount? Am I prepared to honor the terms of the offer if there’s no limit? We’ve only scratched the surface of group buying, but hopefully you’ve gained a little insight.

Tell us in the comments section: Do you think you’ll consider group buying or will you stick to more traditional methods?

Image: Groupon

Adding Social Media Widgets

One question we get a lot is,“How can
I add social media buttons to my
Vistaprint website or email marketing campaign?” And the answer is: It’s easy! (Not to mention a great way for customers to share your content with their contacts, and grow your business.)

The Basics
So what are social media
widgets, anyway? If you’ve ever browsed the Web (which we are assuming you have) chances are, you’ve come across these handy applications on a number of occasions, and you might have even used them. Widgets are buttons that can be added to your website, email marketing campaign, blog or social media page; you can use widgets from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to engage your site’s visitors, to increase brand awareness and attract more customers. You can checkout examples on sites such as Boston.com, and even right here on our blog to see how these versatile buttons are typically used.
 
How do I add them to my site?
Incorporating widgets is a simple process, with just a few steps once you’re logged in:
 

1. Go to your “Extras” menu in the Site Builder.
2. Click the “Add Social Media” icon.
3. Select the type of social media you’d like to add to your website. You can choose among “Like” and “Share” buttons from Facebook, Twitter extras like “Follow” and “Tweet” or a host of other social media widgets.
4. Once you choose the widget you want, set up the options for the given widget, and add it to your Website or Email Marketing Campaign!
 

Hopefully this quick how-to inspires you to get social with your site or campaign! Do you think you’ll be socializing your site or campaign anytime soon? Let us know in the comments section!

Social Media Engagement Survey-25% Discount with Free Shipping

 
 
In September 2010, we launched a Social Media Initiative with the goal/intent of engaging with you, our valued customers, to provide insight and learning materials to help you get started with growing your business online. Over that time we have interacted and had great conversations with many of you on our Blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Now, six months into the initiative, we would love to hear your thoughts on our use of social media. We would really appreciate your support if you could spend the next three to five minutes to answer a few questions in this survey. There is also a little prize at the end of a 25% Vistaprint site wide discount with 7 day free shipping! Start Survey by clicking here now! 
 
We really appreciate any feedback you have, feel free to also make any comments in the comments section below.

How to set up a Facebook Fan Page for your Business

 
 
 
Facebook is the world’s most popular social network and many customers have asked us how to set up a fan page for their business similar to the Vistaprint Internet Marketing fan page.

For businesses of all sizes, fan pages are a great place to get to know your customers better. We use the wall as a great place to foster conversations, but you can also use the page to broadcast deals and send out event invitations.

Please keep in mind that the fan page is different than your personal profile. You should you’re your personal page for interactions with friends and family , while the fan page should be used to interact with your customers. For more tips on balancing out your Facebook uses, check out this post on Vistaprint’s Micro Business Perspectives blog.

Here is a quick 2 minute video to take you through the steps of “How to set up a Facebook Fan page for your business.” If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click here.
 
 
You need Flash Player in order to view this.
How to set up a Facebook Fan page
A step by step guide of "How to set up a Facebook Fan Page for your business".
 
If you’re looking for ways to drive traffic to your Fan page with a fan box, badge or like button, be sure to check out this post on "Adding Facebook and Twitter Badges/Buttons to your website". Be sure to let us know if you have any additional questions and best of luck with your new page!

Make Your Blog Posts "Must Reads"

 
 
 
Your blog posts’ effectiveness increases your blog and website’s performance, boosting return visits.  Results can be seen through post visits, commenting on that post and shares of your post on social media sites. 
 
 
 
Be Yourself and Take Time to Write
 
Blog posts can be most desirable for readers when you give them a unique point of view and tell them something they didn’t know.  Spend some time to consider what you want to write- whether it’s announcing an event or sale, sharing updates, or discussing topics of interest to you or your business.
 
Introduce your topic with a short opening paragraph, provide the meat of your discussion in the middle and then summarize your points in a closing statement.  Consider the key elements of what you’re trying to portray, but don't overburden the reader with too much content.  Typically when writing, less is more. But most importantly, lend your own expertise to the topic and your unique point of view, that’s why people are going to read it.
 
Take a read through to make sure your message is clear and clean (feel free to use our spell checking tool!).  Keep in mind you can always create a draft and then save it for review later in your Blog Dashboard before publishing.
 
Solicit Comments and Feedback
 
Comments and interaction on your blog will keep people coming back and ultimately boost traffic.  So make your posts thought provoking and ask for questions, comments or feedback at the end of each one.  And when people take the time to comment or ask a question, respond thoughtfully.  Once you get the ball rolling, ideas for posts and interactions with customers will make your blog a must-visit property.
 
Make it memorable with extras
 
Spice up your posts with extras like images, videos, audio, maps, and more.  Integrating visuals within your text can help excite the message for your readers, and there are lots of options included in the Blog Builder. 
 
Hope this helps you on your way to great blogs.  Let us know what works best for you when crafting your posts!
 
Stay tuned for upcoming tips on writing impactful post titles to reel your readers in, advice on frequency and scheduling of posts, and how to use your readers’ comments to best continue the discussion.

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