Creating An Award-Winning Website

When creating a website, web design has five key tenets: content, appearance, usability, standards compliance and feature functionality. An award-winning site must be easy to navigate through, no bugs, visually-stunning, seamless to use, and must be filled with information that is worth consuming. Follow the 4 secrets below if you want to have an award-winning website:

  • Using White Space To Your Advantage: When your audiences view your site, the website should be user-friendly and sophisticated. Utilizing white space throughout your site can highlight key elements and make the content pop. Having a simply-designed website that has plenty of white space will make your audience want to stay and explore.
  • User-Friendly Homepage & Navigation:  Make sure your products/services are accessible on the homepage and ensure the navigation bar is intuitive and conspicuous to use on both mobile and desktop platforms. The 3-second rule is one way to test your website and to see if it’s top notch! Make sure all text is clear and easy to understand. Only show a few quality graphics on each page and content that will catch your readers’ attention.
  • Having Customer Reviews / Offers & Promotions: When having an e-commerce site it’s wise to have a few positive reviews your customers have left for you. You could also have a few specials going on, and have coupons/ promotions posted to your site. This gives your readers that extra incentive to take things to the next step in wanting to purchase a product from you.
  • Responsive Design: Having a responsive design allows you to have content to be viewed on any screen; this includes both desktops and mobile devices.

If you have questions on how you can have an award winning website, give Windy City Strategies a call!

5 Reasons Your Business Needs A Facebook Account

Social media plays an important role in advertising and marketing today’s businesses, especially when it comes to small companies. With more close to two billion active Facebook accounts, the most of any social media platform, there are several reasons your business needs a Facebook account:

1. Build Relationships with your Customers: Not only do businesses that use Facebook have a good way to connect with their customers, but it is an effective method to spread the most important word-of-mouth referrals. By building these relationships, businesses can personalize their marketing efforts based on their audience, building offers and promotions based on their customers’ demands.

2. Gain Exposure: In addition to building relationships and spreading your name, your business will be generating awareness amongst others, free of charge. With every “like” or “share” of your business’s page or post, the greater your social media exposure will be, ultimately increasing the chance that your page will be seen by hundreds of people.

3. Increase Traffic to your Website: There are a couple of ways you can drive traffic to your business’ Facebook page. One of the most effective ways is when your users utilize FourSquare to “check-in” to your place of business, which lets their Facebook friends know that they are at your business location. Another way is by sharing any of the products or services they may have purchased from your business on their Facebook account.

4. Advertise your Business: Facebook allows you the ability to advertise on their network, allowing you to effectively target your customers. With Facebook’s Custom Audiences service, you can target your customers using email lists or you can use Partner Categories, which targets a specific industry, to better influence your desired audience.

5. Provide High Quality Customer Service: There is nothing more important to a business that input from their customers. By utilizing a Facebook page, your business can reach out to their audience to generate suggestions for future products or services, solicit feedback, or most importantly, show your customers how much you value them, making you stand out form your competition by offering high quality customer service.

Windy City Strategies specializes in customized Internet marketing solutions for businesses big and small. For more information, or to get started on an Internet marketing campaign to boost your business, contact us today.

 

Starting An Internet Marketing Campaign? Follow These Helpful Tips

An effective Internet marketing campaign plays a huge role in attracting potential clients to your website. This not only increases business and potential revenue for you, but it also enhances the branding and validity of your business’s products or services.

Starting an Internet marketing campaign may seem intimidating, however, our professional Internet marketers at Windy City Strategies have some helpful tips to help get you started:

Tip #1: Consult with an Internet marketing firm. Not only will they help you start an effective Internet marketing campaign, but they will also have the ability to implement a plan that is right for your specific business and needs.

Tip # 2: Understand the importance of SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is important in creating an effective Internet marketing campaign. By improving and promoting your website amongst search engines, you can better drive traffic to your website.

Tip #3: Create a blog. Blogs are a great way to not only interact with your current potential customers, but it also helps you to become an expert in your industry. Blogs are also beneficial in creating more pages for your website, which also helps you to be found easier amongst the search engines.

Tip #4: Write a press release. Another great way to gain exposure is through a press release. Online press releases about your business are also a great way to be found in the search engines. This is also helpful in announcing any news or partnerships that you may have.

Tip #5: Have a user-friendly website. By ensuring your visitors can access your website from any device, you can produce a positive and user-friendly experience, which will bring your customers and potential clients back to your website.

For more information on how we can help boost your business with our customized Internet marketing campaigns, contact us at Windy City Strategies today.

Pay Per Click Advertising: Explained

One of the most successful online marketing techniques utilized by businesses these days is pay per click marketing, or PPC. You may be asking two things right now: what is pay per click advertising, and how can it help my business?

Windy City Strategies has some helpful information about pay per click advertising campaigns, which will help you to decide if PPC is right for you and your business.

What is pay per click advertising?

Pay per click marketing is, in essence, a paid keyword search campaign. Your business will pay to have an ad posted on search engines, making you easier to find. Then, when an internet user clicks on your bussines’ ad, they will automatically be directed to your website. You, the advertiser, will only pay a fee when your ad is clicked.

In order to have an effective PPC marketing campaign, it is important that you have the right keywords; otherwise, your campaign will be less effective and will result in a loss of potential traffic to your site. This is why PPC is not something that can be done once, but will take time, thought, and effort in order to ensure success.

How Can Pay Per Click Advertising Help My Business?

An effective PPC marketing campaign will drive more traffic to your website, which will often result in increased business for you. Here are the ways a PPC marketing campaign will drive traffic to your website:

  • Change and improve your campaign ads
  • Expand your keyword lists
  • Organize your keywords and ad groups
  • Analyze the data, improving your actions based on these results
  • Filter unwanted keywords, create a negative keywords list to refrain from using these again
  • Continually monitor your campaign’s progress

How Do I Run a Successful Pay Per Click Advertising Campaign?

Pay per click and search engine optimization (SEO) require continuous updating. Not only is it critical to understand the importance of staying on top of your PPC campaign to reduce waste, but it will also help you to stay ahead of your competition as well.

In order to do so, it may be essential to hire a PPC and internet marketing firm, like Windy City Web Designs. We not only manage your AdWords account for you, but also help you to ensure you are using the most effective and affordable keywords to drive traffic to your website.

Windy City Strategies is Chicagoland’s leader in internet marketing and web design. From custom web de designs to successful internet marketing and PPC campaigns, we are available to meet your business’ specific needs.

Social Media and Your Small Business

Many small businesses are utilizing social media outlets these days in order to drive their traffic and increase their sales. If you have not yet considered joining the social media world for your marketing needs, you should consider doing so now.

Here are other ways social media can benefit your small business:

Social media allows for a greater business outreach: With social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you are better able to get your business out there to the world, reaching customers near and far, as opposed to just locally.

Social media can help to build your reputation: Not only is social media a good way to manage your online presence, but it is also the perfect opportunity to gain your customers’ trust and loyalty. By giving your business a social media presence, more customers will be inclined to trust your brand, as well as look to you over your competition, especially if they are not as socially present as you are.

Social media can help with customer support: By being available 24/7 with social media outlets, such as Facebook, you can assure your customers that they can reach you when necessary. However, it is critical that you address your customers’ posts and messages as soon as possible in order to maintain your customer service reputation.

Social media can sell your business: Not only can you better advertise your product or services by using social media, but you can also provide opportunities for your customers to purchase your products or services as well. This will provide a much more pleasurable experience for your customers, which will likely keep them coming back.

If you are interested in learning more about what Windy City Strategies can offer your business’s internet marketing strategy, then contact us today.

Is the Font You’re Using Affecting your Conversions?

I’ll bet it’s something you’ve never thought about but as much as we’re wishing it wasn’t true the answer is yes. Different types of fonts can and will have an effect on a number of conversions you see on your website.

Typography is a way to add personality and character through text, and to many people, it is considered an art form. The way you present the style, size, and color of a certain type of text can make the difference between a customer’s decision to stay on the site, leave it, or even purchase the products or services your company is offering. This is an important factor because it can dramatically increase or decrease your conversion rates just from something as simple as the text you decide to display.

The way you display your fonts to the viewer requires more than just a simple copy and paste. It is a proven fact that the human brain likes repetitive and similar layouts; the way that they understand information is understood better when texts, for example, are consistent. If the layout of your text is different on every page, the visitor on your site will most likely note the inconsistency and the discontent they felt rather than the types of products on display and their quality.

You want the content of what you are trying to say to match the mood, feeling or characteristic of the font you choose. If you are displaying information about a topic that is exciting (such as a special, sale, or promotion) you will not want to use a formal or serious font. Rather, the best-suited font would be one that illustrates the joy and specialness of the event. You want your font to correctly reflect the message that you are trying to portray and really sell your product or service.

Windy City Strategies is an Internet marketing company that provides pay per click, search engine optimization, and web design services. Our knowledgeable team can not only help you increase the conversions on your website but increase the number of people who visit it as well. Contact Windy City Strategies today to speak with a representative today!

Website Consistency is Imperative to Success

Imagine you are traveling the world and are hopping from country to country every week, spending your time exploring the cities and lifestyles. This trip would be great if it were not for the fact that every country has a different currency. This one, minute discrepancy poses a large issue that can potentially halt your entire adventure and destroy all your plans.

This same issue is found in web design all the time. Website owners and designers seem to enjoy letting their “creative juices” flow too much, making for a difficult and unpleasant user experience due to large variations in design.

To avoid this catastrophic issue – lacking consistency – there are several things your website should incorporate into its design to make for a fun and pleasant user experience.

Verbiage/Wording

When you are advertising for your business, it’s important to stay consistent with the titles of your products and services you offer. If you are selling a simple, wooden door, call it just that. Perhaps throw in the type of wood and of course the dimensions, but stick with that naming. Do not veer away from it; a “majestic opening and closing mechanism” is not a proper name for that product.

Menus and UI Elements

Typically, web designers try to create the most visually appealing website they can, which often means they will have to “spice up” the drop down menus and UI elements, ultimately making for sluggish loading times and a laggy user experience.

The choice to enhance the elements is rarely a good one, so be sure to consult your designer and web designer and ask for their opinions prior to adding these elements to your website. You want a fast website that keeps its visitors, not a website where the visitors are driven away due to a poor element.

Layout

Similar to the menus and UI elements, your website’s layout plays an integral role in attracting customers. Not only does it have to be a smooth design, but it also has to look similar and follow the common website design rules: navigation bar at the top, title/company name in the upper left, search bar in the upper right, content for the main page, and contact information with a general sitemap as the footer.

General Consistency

Putting all the nitty-gritty bits and pieces of websites aside, it’s important to maintain an overall feeling of consistency. If you have a modern home page, then the rest of the website should also be designed with a modern aesthetic. Maintain the same color palette, open links that take the user to a third party’s site in a new tab, etc.

Ensuring your website’s visitors have an enjoyable experience and are able to easily navigate throughout your website is crucial, yet an area that is often overlooked by designers. Humans like consistency – it’s wired into our brains – so take advantage of our instinctual traits to leverage your business. If you would like assistance developing your website, be sure to contact us at Windy City Web Designs to make for a beautiful and elegant website.

Why a Redesign May be Necessary

Every successful business owner knows that developing a strong website properly selling your products or services plays an intricate role in attracting a new and loyal customer base. From being found through search engines, having easy navigation, to representing your brand and its products, a website is pivotal to your business’s success.

If your website is proving to be a barrier for your business, you should consider these benefits and possibilities of redesigning your website.

Better attract customers: When Google or the various other search engines are ranking websites, they take a lot of things into account, but the important thing to know is that updating your website improves your online presence to gain more customers.

Modernize your website: Everything nowadays should be “modern” – sleek and elegant websites are the best way to attract new customers. Stay with the times and keep your website up to date.

Integrate social media: One of the most powerful aspects of the internet is social media and the ludicrous amount of exposure any company can get. When you properly integrate your social media accounts into your website, you will be able to easily spread your message and products.

Stay competitive: The importance of staying competitive in your business’s field cannot be emphasized enough. If even one part of your business begins to fall behind, your entire business will take the load as well. Be sure to have a competitive website to properly sell your products and brands.

Running a website can be a very difficult task for business owners, but the importance of having a new and updated website cannot be emphasized enough. If you ever have any questions or would like to talk with a professional, contact us at any time and we’ll quickly get back to you.

Why your Website Needs HTTPS

Ever since Google announced a couple years ago that the security of your website will affect its rankings on Google, there has been a huge push to get SSL (secured socket layer) on websites who previously used HTTP. If you are unaware of what HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) does, here’s a brief summary: in essence, HTTP is the format in which all data is sent across the general internet (excluding the deep web, for obvious reasons). This format breaks apart the data being sent into small pieces called packets, which are then sent to many servers and computers until the information reaches the correct IP address.

This method of data transfer has been around for ages, nearly since the beginning of the internet. However, HTTP easily allows for a middle man, an attacker, to gain access to the data being sent. For obvious security reasons, most people don’t want their sensitive information to be looked at by anonymous third parties. This is where HTTPS and SSL come into play. SSL, as mentioned earlier, is the standard for setting up a strongly encrypted link between a web server and a web browser/computer.

In order to ensure the data is truly being sent through an SSL secured website, the website URL will display https://yourwebsite.com rather than http://yourwebsite.com. This additional layer of security creates a peace of mind for most users online.

Not only is Google cracking down on websites that have yet to get an SSL certificate, but so are payment authorization companies. Most websites will not be allowed to take credit card information – or any private information – unless the website is fully encrypted through the use of an SSL certificate.

If the vast majority of the previous information flew right over your head, here’s what you should take away: in order for your website to be ranked higher on Google, and therefore be seen by many more people, it is important to get an SSL certificate which will fully encrypt your website and reduce the risk of your website being hacked and your user’s information stolen. If you have any questions or would like to get a quote for the services you are looking for, feel free to contact us at Windy City Strategies, and we’ll promptly get back to you.

How to find the Right Keywords

Perfecting your client base is crucial to your success and the overall growth of your business. The best way to do so is by consistently updating your keywords used for your advertisement campaigns and SEO titles and descriptions. To properly ensure you are going about the process correctly, there are a couple tips and tricks you should keep in mind.

  • Test Keywords with PPC: In order to properly understand how your keywords are being looked at and processed, you should use some of your pay per click campaign budget towards keyword testing. When you do this, you will spend a little now to gain a lot later.
    • To properly do this, you should begin with broader terms you feel might apply to your business and then slowly work your way into more narrow and specific terms. If your business sells fake flowers, begin with broad flower terms and work your way into more specific names and colors.
  • Compare Keywords: One thing many advertisement campaigns fail to do is compare keywords against one another. Once you have a list of relatively effective words you plan on using, begin to sort your advertisements by playing with the synergy of the words and their context.
  • Know your Audience: Understanding what demographics your advertisements and business is targeting is crucial to determining which keywords will be most effective. If you are selling professional grade laptops, you will likely not want to have children or the elderly viewing your advertisements.
  • Control the Websites: When you are running advertisement campaigns, you will typically have control over which websites you do and do not want your advertisements to show up on. This is known as whitelisting and blacklisting, a technique that proves time and time again to be very effective in more efficiently targeting possible clients.

Having the ability to control who sees your advertisements and when they see it is crucial to building an effective advertisement campaign. If you have any questions or would like to become better versed in developing a powerful advertisement campaign, be sure to contact us at Windy City Strategies.