Friday, August 28, 2009

Will Inbound Marketing Work for Your Company?

The answer is absolutely yes! But there are some qualifications to that. Just saying "inbound marketing" around the office is not going to get any results, it's a process and it requires that you adopt a new attitude, develop a sound plan for implementation and deploy the needed resources to execute on your plan. By the way, this is not a plan with an end, remember that inbound marketing is a process to generate defined results, but it's a process of ongoing improvement and so has no end. As you journey down this road your company will achieve continually improving results, great ROI, that will drive your bottom line through being found, converting leads and measuring the results. If you're not going on this journey be aware that your competition is and taking your prospective customers with them. Do you want to let this happen?

Here is a brief outline of a process you might want to consider to get started. Of course each point has many details, but at least it will give you some ideas as to how to move forward.

1- Evaluate your current internet situation (web presence)- This means looking at all of your current activities both on and off your website. Is it accomplishing what you hoped it would? Why or why not?
2- Clearly define what you want business results you want to achieve- This could be increased traffic, more leads, better evaluation of results, or any combination.
3- Establish with detail who your target audience is- By doing so it will help you tailor your messaging.
4- Investigate where and what your audience is doing now- Are there related forums and blogs where they are active? What kind of keyword searches are being done? What info are they finding through those searches? What social media activities are relevant? etc. etc.
5- Develop a plan- It can be difficult to complete this step if you're not fully aware of what options exist for you. Maybe the first step is to access the help of a consultant to save you time, ensure that you're not overlooking possibilities and this will help you get a clear idea of what kind of resources either internal or external you'll need.

This was meant to be a short post today and...well you be the judge. As a final offering, if you are considering this approach I encourage you to read "Why inbound marketing should be a priority for your company this week." Of course you can defer doing anything, (We humans are great procrastinators aren't we?) but be aware that the internet ocean is rising, all you have to do is be certain your companies information is in the current and you will achieve outstanding results. If there is anything I can do to help, contact me as Jason Mraz sings..."I'm yours".

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inbound Marketing and Business Blogging, What's the Connection?

To answer this question it's important to understand what a blog is so that it makes sense in the context of inbound marketing. There may be a number of you who think that a blog is just a way that people provide information updates about their lives or interests similar to an extended Facebook entry and in many cases that is in fact what a blog is. For our purposes the discussion centres (yes, I'm Canadian so I spell centre with an 're' ending) around the business blog, a blog where the information updates are focused on our business activities, what's new, interesting or relevant to our target audience. A blog is a tool that allows you to quickly and easily publish new content online and where readers can interact with questions or comments about what you've offered. How does it relate to inbound marketing then? Remember that the first part of inbound marketing is about the creation of content that is well optimized using SEO best practices and promotion through social media vehicles? Therefore blogging allows your business to quickly create new content for all interested visitors to read, comment on and share with others. When done properly, you'll see your readership grow and by completing the inbound cycle of conversion and measurement, you'll achieve the business outcomes you've established.

For the purpose of my post here today I'm going to stay focused on the first element of inbound marketing, content creation, otherwise...well it would just be too long! OK, so we've established that blogging is an easy and effective way to create new content for our visitors so what do we do? Step 1 is to decide on your blog software and there are many to chose from, the important thing is to host it on your own website. (Yes, I'm well aware that I'm not following this advice, that will be changing very soon with the launch of our website!) Why is this important? The inbound marketing advantages of hosting your own blog are too numerous to talk about here but in a nutshell if you don't host the blog, you don't get the benefit. If you cut and trim your neighbours lawn, their property looks great...not yours! Step 2 is to understand who it is that your trying to reach with your information offering. As an example, here I offer information intended for the small and medium sized business who is looking for information on how they can use the internet to improve business results. All of the postings are intended to provide more useful (I hope!) ways that you can understand and use the web to help you achieve your business goals. Now we've touched on the why (generate business results), how (blog software), who (your target audience), what (relevant and helpful info), where (blog hosted on your own website) next let's discuss often as possible! You've got a lot of information to share with your visitors so...get to it. Blogging is perhaps the simplest way for you to reach and attract new prospects from the web over time. Notice "over time" not overnight. It's rare that you'll create great business results right out of the gate, remember this is a process not and event so stay the course.

Blogging may seem a little daunting to your company, how are you going to find the time? Who's going to do it? Will we have enough information to share? These are all valid concerns, but consider this, the use of the internet is continuing to grow. Business and consumers alike are looking for information everyday, Google alone receives over a billion queries daily and if you're in business you must very seriously consider what the cost of not being in front of this stream, no scrap that... ocean of information seekers will cost you... a lot! Want some help? Feel free to contact us here.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why Does Inbound Marketing Make Sense?

OK, a small step back to understand just what inbound marketing actually is since there are a lot of people that don't yet know about it and how powerful a process it can be as use of the internet continues to grow...what an understatement that is!

Inbound marketing is the process of creating relevant internet content that is well optimized and promoted for your target audience to increase traffic, along with the implementation of effective conversion tactics that will generate inquiries/leads and through the use of marketing and competition analysis tools allow your company to review and refine your web development initiatives to achieve the maximum ROI for your marketing dollar. Simply put:


+ Leads
-Landing Pages

+ Results
-Analysis tools
-Competition Evaluation
-Lead Nurture


In some recent posts these subjects have been talked about individually (improving traffic, generating leads, evaluating results) and you can be certain that there will be more in future.

So...why does this kind of process make sense today? After all, look at the results that were achieved by companies like Coke, Nike and Johnson & Johnson. What has changed that would require a different marketing process than these great companies used?

These companies (and of course there are many others) were built up for the most part before the public access to the internet was developed and as a result they had to use conventional outbound advertising and marketing practices to build their businesses. Television, radio and print media were all used extensively to make certain that these companies were in our collective minds on a continual basis and huge $$$ were spent to make that happen! Have you heard the recent news about these traditional media companies? They are in contraction, why? Because we are blocking this outbound activity! Are you on the "Do not call" list? Do you have Sirius radio or some other ad free radio service? Do you have a DVR so that you can fast forward through the commercials? ...and the list goes on. Here's the final nail, we as consumers now have the ability to self research what we want with...the internet. I don't know about you, but I don't go to trade shows anymore to find out about stuff, I go online. I don't go to a store when I want to do research on my new TV, home theatre, dishwasher, renovation project, insurance, vacation etc. I go online and I'm not alone...billions, BILLIONS of queries are going through Google and other search engines every single month.

The continuing expansion of the internet as a means of information sharing has fundamentally changed the relationship between business and their customers and that is why inbound marketing makes sense today. Put your company in position to deliver information (content/traffic), respond effectively to inquiries (conversion/leads) and measure and evaluate what is going on (analysis/results) and you will achieve the business outcomes you're looking for. Don't want to engage in this process? It may cost your business more than you can imagine.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Can I help you? Contact me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do You Know who Your Customer is?

Wow, it's been a while since I put up a post, long overdue but I've been really busy which is a good thing!

I wrote about how so often companies fail to make any effort regarding the concept of getting found (SEO) on the internet when they create a website in one of my very first posts in this blog. This kind of misses the whole point of the exercise doesn't it? It's unfortunate that companies would take the time to create a site but not really understand that they have to be found in order for the site to be of real value to their business. I won't comment about the companies that make these websites other than to say shame on them for taking a clients money and not really delivering the goods. Today I want to address another key element of your websites design...who are you trying to reach?

The simple and self evident answer is "My customers!" of course. But I would ask you to take a moment and reflect on just who exactly that customer is, because as the process of content development on your website continues this should be an important consideration. It could be that there are a variety of prospective clients you're trying to communicate with and each one will require individual attention. For example, a hotel has the "business traveller", "family vacation audience", "event planner" and "wedding couple" among others as prospective clients and each has their specific needs as to relevant is not about the beds, pillows and bathrooms, rather it's about what those individuals are looking for and each is different. but here is the most important point I is not about you and your business, it's about your customer and the solution you can provide for them! In the example of the hotel does the business person care that you have the "best pillows in town"? Maybe, but more likely they are looking for easy access to the facilities they have to go to, great communications infrastructure and that they'll get a good sleep when they finally make it to bed. Focus on solving they're problems, not on what you're selling.

How does this separate you from your competition? If you've taken time to see what your competition is doing (highly recommended!) you'll see that most of them tend to the "Blah, blah, blah" about their business website approach. It's not their fault, they don't know any better. Now you do. Here's an exercise to illustrate my point. the next time you're looking for information about a product or service online, think about which websites you stay on in your investigations, is it the sites that say "We have great widgets!" or is it the websites that speak to your problem and offer insight about how you can solve it? This is the way that websurfers get engaged with companies and ultimately end up being customers...there is enough blah, blah, blah in our lives, separate yourself! It will generate $$$ for your business.

Want some help? Contact me.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, August 3, 2009

What Web Content Should You Create?

The short answer is anything and everything that you can because...Content is KING! No I'm not kidding. Whether it's a blog entry, an update on your "Latest News" page, a video (hmmmm, here's an interesting one), a white paper, a new landing page, well I think you get my point, there is no doubt that creating content should be your top priority for your website. Why? Because it's your content that will determine whether or not your site is relevant to your prospective clients and being relevant and engaging is what will convert site visitors to prospects to clients. That is the kind of result you want from your website right? Anything else is a waste of your valuable time and resources.

OK, so is there some sort of magic formula? Is there some preferred content you can create to generate the best results? Not really, but there are some key fundamentals that are going to ensure that the content you develop achieves the desired outcomes. To illustrate this let's look at two examples one good, and the other...well not so good. First the good. In Marketing Voices , a weekly podcast, Jennifer Jones speaks with a variety of people involved with the marketing world about what they are doing, what trends they see, what's working (or not) and you're invited in to access these insights. Why is this good content? It's relevant to her audience, interesting, well optimized and provides the visitor with the information they are seeking and opportunities for that audience to engage further. This kind of content development achieves all of the desired outcomes.

For the "other" case, consider this blog...yah, you heard me right, my blog! You have to understand, I started this as an experiment, and it's working. More and more people are coming to read my blog entries, but we are still just speaking of "10's" of people monthly which I'm not unhappy with I intend very shortly to launch a website for my new company, but in the meantime I use this blog as my platform to try and share some insight for the small and medium sized business people. OK, so what is the problem with this blog? Sorry, what are the problems with this blog? Well, the one good thing is I pretty regularly add content, so readers are getting new information from their reading, and I focus on giving readers information I know will be helpful to them if they truly want to improve the results they are achieving from their online initiatives. Where this breaks down is that the content isn't optimized and there could be much more offered, for example a video, pictures, more links etc. But as I said this has always been an experiment and this blog is a way to get my feet wet in this environment. I can't wait for my new website to launch where I'll be spending considerable time to deliver a great example of content development!

OK, time to wrap up. What is my point today? Once again, content is KING, so if someone is offering you a quick fix to generate traffic to your website there's a better (much better) than 50% chance you're money or resources are being wasted. Make certain that as you consider your online development that whoever you engage to help you understands that there is a process involved and that after you've evaluated your current situation thoroughly, content is where the process begins, anything costing you money, not creating an ROI!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, July 27, 2009

Website Marketing and Conversion, Step 3

Metrics, measurement and meaning!!! If you're website is going to be successful over time then you must use some sort of metrics program to provide you with accurate measurement and interpret that information so that it has meaning for you in a way that allows you to take action and improve the results. Many small and medium sized businesses overlook this critical element of their online development and waste resources doing what they think is the right thing to do, not really knowing whether it is or not. This is costly both in time and capital resources and the solution is readily available. If you aren't, your competition is, and they're winning your prospective business.

You know how difficult it is to measure how successful your marketing activities are, is it the ad in the paper, the direct mail piece, the radio, television or print ad, the flyer campaign or trade show that is generating your results? In the years that I've spent in the world of small business development, I've counseled every company that I've had the pleasure to work with to do their best to track the results they are getting but it's very difficult. You have to make certain that your staff are trained to find out how inquiring prospects heard about your business, make certain you have a process in place to record this information, then analyze the information and finally decide if it's right or not. (In my experience it's as right as it is wrong!) This leads to the often heard expression "I know that 50% of my marketing spend is what is getting the results I want, now if only I knew which 50%." true!

Imagine campaigns where you knew how many prospective clients were responding to each individual offer you had. Where the prospect had come from, some of the reasoning behind how they had found your offer. what if you knew the company they were from and what their email address was? Do you think you could use this information to improve your company's sales figures? What if you could know some of this information about your competition? Welcome to the online world! The right metrics solution can give you this and more. No more wondering what is or is not working, just solid information that you can build on going forward to further improve your results.

You may have heard of Google Analytics, hopefully you have, and hopefully you're using at least this basic information to assist you in evaluating what results your website is generating but let me be clear, there is much more information available if you know how to find it. For example Site Meter ( offers a free software that will give you pretty good information and the paid service they offer (starting at $6.95/month based on up to 25,000 page views/month) gives pretty good information for you to work with and there are many other solutions out there that will provide you with similar or better information. I repeat, this information is critical for your ongoing success online! As a website owner please recognize that once you have a website that's just the beginning. Like any other form of corporate promotion you must evaluate and modify to improve the results on a continual basis so budget for it. How much more is available? Lot's!!!

In the last three postings I've given a very brief outline of a three step process that will absolutely improve the results you're getting online from your website: 1- create content and promote it; 2- give your website visitors ample opportunities to convert in some manner or another while they are visiting your website; 3-measure the results for meaning. There is a lot of work to do but whatever time and resources you commit will provide you with the best ROI of any marketing investment you make. What if there was a platform that gave you this and so much more? I encourage you to check out because they have the best most cost effective solution for small and medium size businesses that I've found. If you are going to spend anytime investigating what possibilities there are for your business online, I urge you to check out Hubspot, and I guarantee that at the very least you'll learn something valuable for your business. Let them know how you found them!

Want some help? Contact me. I want to help you be as successful as you want to be with your online presence development. I'm your outsourced VP of Online Marketing and I will deliver more and better results from your website than you have ever had before and love doing it.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Website Marketing and Conversion, Step 2

Website marketing requires time and intelligent planning to create the business outcomes you want for your business. In this series, I've been outlining the simple basics of how to begin creating a website that will:
1- Receive targeted traffic;
2- Convert that traffic to new client relationships;
3- Allow you to monitor results, change/develop content to constantly improve results.
Today we'll focus on #2, converting your websites traffic to new clients.

What is meant by the term conversion? Web conversions take many forms ranging from accessing information such as a whitepaper, filling out a form for contact, to completing an online purchase. Regardless of what the conversion is, as small and medium sized businesses your number one priority should be creating conversions and if appropriate having a series of conversions that lead to the creation of a new client...really, what else matters? Website designers will have you believe that your website needs to look a certain way and that this colour or that layout is better...the best return on your investment is when visitors to your website ultimatley become clients right? Stay focused on conversion!!!

How is this done? There are many details that I won't go into, (branding, language, etc.) that's not the intention here, what I want to give you is some ideas on how to make this work for your business. What's important is to remember that a conversion doesn't necessarily mean that you create a new client right away, remember relationships take time, all you want to do is begin a relationship and provide opportunities to develop that relationship over time. Generally this can be accomplished when your website provides the site visitor with different ways to engage with information that will help them answer questions, questions that you should understand for your business based on real world experience. Here is a simple example.

Company XYZ has a website that promotes their residential HVAC solutions. One very common question will be "How much will my new furnace or air conditioner cost?". It may not be the first question, but it will certianly come up at some point as the site visitor continues their purchase decision making process and it opens a great opportunity for XYZ to begin a relationship. How? Simply offer a "FREE NO OBLIGATION QUOTATION". This could be a link in the appropriate position in the text that takes them to a form, or it could be a "button" link at the side of the text that takes them to a form, or it could be a specific call to action in the text that says something like, "Call us today to get yoru free no obligation estimate." Regardless of which one (or all) of the conversion options used here, any serious prospect is going to want this information and there are three ways outlined in this example that will allow the site visitor to begin or deepen their relationship with Company XYZ that can lead to that prospect becoming a client. Converted! As noted earlier, there are many other considerations, but the basics outlined can dramatically improve the ROI from your website.

Are there other conversion possibilities? Many! Depending on your business and how relationships are created in the 'real world' you could use information in the form of whitepapers, landing pages that speak to a prospect in a certain manner on a specific question or concern typical prospects have, create "FREE TRIALS" or "SPECIAL OFFER" buttons, and these are just a few ideas. What's of greatest importance is to make certain that you are in fact providing visitors to your website with a variety of relevant ways to begin a relationship with you. If you're uncertain about the details, contact somebody who can help you, again I repeat, as a small or medium sized business, your number one objective should be to create new business from your website, anything and everything else...justs costs you money!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Website Marketing and Conversion, Step 1

Do you really want to boost the business results from your website? Then you have to begin taking the steps like SEO (search engine optimization), web content creation, competitor analysis, email management and many others but today let's focus on step 1, generating traffic. Traffic to your website is critical to making it a success and here are 5 simple tips to get you off to a good start. Once you have traffic, you can create conversion which leads to revenue and the more you invest in getting this formula right the more it will pay off for you in the growth of your business. Ok, let's get into the traffic building...

1- Create real content that your website visitors are looking for. Of course you need to know what they're looking for, but let's assume you do, well provide them with what they want to know. There is nothing as simple as telling them the truth about your offering and how it addresses their problem. The more material both written, images, video etc. that you can provide that talks about your solution for their problem the more that they are going to like your website and engage with the information.

2- Make certain that your content is SEO friendly. This takes time but pays off big in the long run. Using something as simple as the Google Adwords Keyword tool will give you some good ideas on how to make your copy and the html tags for your images and other content SEO friendly. When you use this information to create relevant content that uses the kind of language that site visitors use to find you, up go the traffic numbers.

3- Blog! This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to create content that your target audience is looking for. Don't make the mistake of using an application that hosts your blog, but instead, host it on your own website in a sub-domain like "". By doing this and creating content with SEO in mind you'll become a favourite of the search engines and the internet super highway will have a main road through your website for the targeted traffic you are looking for.

4- Engage with social media. Create a company facebook page, twitter, linkedin and others and participate in the discussion. Don't be overwhelmed by this, it can be as simple as you want, but again, as you create more doors and windows to your business, more traffic will follow.

5- Here we go again...MAKE A PLAN! Detail what and when you are going to do the things that are outlined here. Failing to plan is a plan to fail, it can't be said any more clearly.

There you go. These tips are certain to help boost the traffic that's coming to your website. Next we'll talk about converting the visitor and beginning to have a relationship with them with the goal of making them a new client. If you're looking for an all in one solution please check out they have an outstanding software program that will help you achieve all you want online and more using inbound marketing in ways you may not know even exist. If you want help, get in touch with me, I'd be glad to assist in any way that I can.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Website Marketing and Conversion, 3 Steps

The terms web marketing, SEO, social media etc. are now heard, well in my case daily, but even for unrelated businesses, they're out there and used regularly, but are you taking advantage of what they can do for your business?

Recently I was sitting with a new prospect who owns a small business and brochure style website that wasn't really doing anything for the business other than providing a space that he could direct people to. It has a few pictures of work done, descriptions of services offered and basic contact information...pretty uninspiring overall. I asked him what he would like the website to do for the business and the answer was (as I expected) generate leads that he could turn into business, what every business wants in an ideal world. I know this is hard to believe for some of you, but if this is truly what you want, you can easily achieve your goal, but you must invest either time, capital and sometimes both to achieve what you want...more business!

The process is simple really and involves only three steps however, these three steps can vary in complexity and depend on what resources you can and will allocate to getting the job done. Over the next few entries I will expand on each step but here in very simplest terms are the steps:

1- Generate traffic- Provide optimized content, consider blogging and social media;
2- Provide for conversions- To create leads develop conversion forms, landing pages and make sure you're tracking the outcomes;
3- Monitor results- Use tools that provide competitor analysis, lead scoring and marketing analytics so that you can effectively see what's working and what's not.

As mentioned, it is really three simple steps but there is much to consider for each of these steps. Too often companies start out in only one direction and then when they don't get the desired results they throw their hands up and say "It doesn't work!". It does work, but you need a comprehensive plan that allows you to make it work and as mentioned you'll have to commit time and or resources to get it done. The result, more business, more cost effectively resulting in better profits for you.

Consider this; my prospective client spent about $10,400 in trade shows last year and figures that he got about $20,000 in business for his efforts...not good! Spend that same money to create a better website properly planned, constructed and implemented and you'll get the results you are looking for, more business with greater profitability...Make it so #1!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, June 8, 2009

Free Website Development Tools

Small business is in a tough position, you want to make the business grow and you know that there is opportunity with the internet, you just don't have the resources (here I'm talking of capital resources) to take advantage of what's out there to help you. Maybe you've even heard that there are many tools offered that target your problem in a cost effective way, either free or very low cost, but finding them can be time consuming. Here I offer for you 20 great tools that you can use which fit into the category of free or very low cost. They will help you, you just have to use them. If you don't...know that your competition is, so invest the time or hire someone who will invest the time on your behalf, the cost of inaction to your business is too high!

CRM - contact and lead tracking, sales and contact management, sales pipeline management and forecasting, customer service and business management. Keep yourself organized! Free version available from, from $7/mo at

Market Research - Google Alerts is a "must-have” clipping service. Set up your favorite key words and finds and delivers articles about any subject of your choosing to your inbox every day. Watch for news and mentions of your own company, your customers and your competitors. Free

Creative Design – Want a design for a new logo, brochure, website or business card? Go to either or, upload your requirements, run a contest and pick your favourite. You pick the purse size, I’ve seen contests get dozens of great results for only a few hundred dollars.

Marketing Collateral – Want fast easy printing? Upload files for brochures, business cards and stationary. These companies, and, will print and ship – too easy. is also available in Canada at

Permission-based Marketing – create and send opt-in newsletters, deliver and track blog posts and updates to customers, prospects and colleagues. starts at $10/mo, starts at $15/mo

Accounting – track your time and expenses, manage contractors, send and manage your invoices, totally on-line, getting rave reviews. Join the wave at, pricing starts at $15/mo

Conference Calling – when you need to convene a meeting (and look professional doing it), you can get free reservationless conference calling at

Remote PC Access – for those times when you need to get to a file on your computer but your computer is in your office and you’re not. starts at $20/mo

Long Distance Calling - offers free or very low cost long distance calling (works best with headphones), and it can also do conference calls

Project Management – web-based project management software that marries time tracking and task management in a collaborative online space with powerful reporting. is $20 for up to 15 projects

Taking orders/selling stuff – the dead easy way to accept credit cards on your website, only charges you when you sell, a transaction fee up to 3% of sale value

Keeping track of it all - make notes on anything on the web or on your computer using and have these memory joggers available (and search able) at any time - free
Sending really big files – – for when you need to send a really big file that your customer may not be able to receive otherwise, or when you absolutely need to know a file reached it’s intended recipient – yousendit has a pay as you go option or plans from $10/mo

Virtual Fax – if you deal with Fortune 1000 companies you know how they love their faxes. lets you receive faxes in your email account instead of on a fax machine – way more convenient. You can also send scanned docs as faxes using the same service. Starts at $17/mo

On-line Meetings – makes your meeting almost as good as in-person and much less expensive than airfare. Use it to deliver synchronized live presentations, whiteboards and web pages and share their voice and video over the Internet. Free and $20/mo options

Virtual Receptionist - an Internet voicemail system accessible by phone, email, or the web. an auto-attendant that acts as your virtual receptionist. You can create virtual mailboxes for your employees and enjoy voicemail call forwarding, call transfers, call routing, voicemail notifications, and much more.... from $10/mo

Transcription – For those people who just hate to type but love to talk, you can record your messaging, upload it to and receive a typed doc back via email in about 3 hours.

Sharing your thoughts – absolutely the best way to publish your powerpoint presentations on the web and share them with others - is free

Document sharing and collaboration – my personal favorite, allows you to upload word or excel files and work on them collaboratively with selected people. Takes all the hassle out of emailing docs around for comments. - free

Running an event? Use to create a webpage for your event, accept and manage registrations and even publish who has RSVP’d. Free if your event is free, 2.5% of ticket price for paid events.

Many thanks to the group of great people at for compiling this information!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Blogging...

Well here it is Friday morning. I got up this morning a little earlier than normal, it must have something to do with the phase of the moon!

If you've just entered into the world of blogging (like me) and are watching what is happening with respect to your traffic through web analytics then you might notice something interesting...generally, Friday posts don't get the same traction as those entries posted earlier in the week. I wonder why that would be. I guess it's true as a song said "Everybody's working for the weekend." So, what does this mean? Well, if you want to reach out with a message, get it together earlier in the week!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keeping Social Media Fun

As I speak with more and more businesses on the subject of social media engagement and what they can expect from their effort, I'm also recognizing that these initiatives can get tiresome and become just one more thing that has to get done on a list of many. Questions start coming up about whether this is really worth the effort. Do you want to achieve a richer web presence? Elevate your search rankings? Drive traffic to your website? Ultimately these are questions you'll have to answer for yourself but before making any rash decisions consider this; if you aren't engaged who is? You're competition? If so, why are they and not you? In the end analysis it all comes down to ROI. A well planned and thought out social media campaign will drive traffic to you and assuming you have a website that has been carefully designed to achieve the conversion you want, more traffic = more conversions = more customers. If not yours your competitions...what does that cost you?

This article I found today and it gives great direction about how to keep your social media initiative vibrant and on track: It's a very worthwhile read and only takes about 2 minutes to get through, well worth the investment if you're considering some sort of social media engagement or need to re-ignite the effort.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blended Search, the Holistic Approach

It won't be the first time that you've read here about looking at your plans for the development of your web presence using an approach that is as comprehensive as you can imagine. When it comes to developing your website, relevant content, social media positions and any other developments that will assist with your over search engine optimization and communications with your target audience, think big! It will pay off with improved ROI for you. It turns out that those of us who are thinking this way are not alone (not that I thought I was!) and in a recent article at One, I think the sources Kate Trgovac reaches out to for input pretty clearly articulate that this is the right way to go. I can't say it any better so here's the link, it's worth the read.

Continue thinking about one thing or another it's important, but please, I implore you, think in the greater context of a well thought out plan, it is the surest way to achieving the outcomes that will improve your bottom line. If not yours...the competitions.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, May 22, 2009

Social Media or Email Marketing...What Comes First?

Lately I've been involved with many discussions related to social media, (blogging, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and in a post on today Andrew Gordon brings forward the idea that email marketing has been lost in all the hubbub surrounding the social networking craze and...I agree! What do you think? Now the question, as a business, what is your best approach to using the internet to achieve the business improvements you're looking for?

Here's are some thoughts. Social media and email marketing result in different outcomes, socializing online brings about awareness, branding, client engagement, discussion and interest among other things, and email marketing brings about prospect conversion. Are the two at odds with each other, or exclusive of one and other? The short answer is no, now let's look at a slightly longer answer. Engaging with a social media campaign that is well thought out and executed, will improve your visibility or branding and should result in improved traffic to your website. Now let's look at your website. Here a visitor should become engaged with your offering and begin the process that leads from prospect to client and if that is working then more traffic to your website will generate more clients. Now we add email marketing into the mix. With email you're in a position to extend your relationship with your site visitor, for some businesses this is a one step process, for others it may require a number of "touches" before a visitor is moved to being a client and email is a very effective means to facilitate this process. Social media drives traffic and email marketing converts that traffic into new clients. Simple? Hmmmmm...

Yes it is, but no it isn't either and more...what comes first? You guessed it, a plan! Once again, back to planning. Both social networking and email marketing are effective and generate a positive ROI, (social media drives traffic, leads to lifted conversions, results in revenue boost) but truly, you must think of this in the context of your overall business development. Again, this is not an event but a process with a number of milestones or benchmarks along the way and numerous considerations as to input to achieve each step. Where does that leave you? Each and everyday the internet is growing and presenting greater opportunity than ever before in history to achieve the outcomes you want for your business. Failing to plan is a sure plan to fail...the cost of failing is for you to decide...

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's the Right Thing to do to Boost Your Presence?

This is a great question and one that is worth taking a closer look at so that you can decide what's best for you. It comes up frequently when discussing matters of web presence development with clients or prospects and while the 5 simple suggestions offered here will give you a starting point, realize that each has many complex associated factors. It is generally agreed that there is no single solution, no 'silver bullet' but rather a combination of actions that will help you achieve the desired lift you seek, so...think it through!

Five Suggestions:

1- If you haven't already you need to evaluate your current position. In the online world there are many tools that can help you in this regard, and many are available at no cost, but there is a time commitment and you'll need at least a little understanding. This link will get you all the tools that you'll need if you're interested in a DIY approach: Think about what is working presently, what isn't, and what you'd like to achieve...if you can think it, it can probably be done!

2- Understand your audience. This is often overlooked because assumptions are made that may or may not be valid. Canvass your existing clients and prospects...who are they and what were they looking for that initially caught their attention?

3- Know your strengths and work with them. Seems obvious enough and yet often companies fail to recognize what these truly are with online media. Trying to improve on areas that aren't generating results will at best lead to below average returns whereas developing your areas of strength will boost further the positive results. offers a free tool that will at the very least give you ideas as to what's going on with your website.

4- Make certain you are working with an overall development strategy...once again plan! Failing to plan is a plan for failure...

5- Once you've established your overall strategy recognize it's not an event but a process that will require time and resources. These are often in short supply, but are essential elements to the creation of as many 'doors' as possible to your audience which is what establishing and expanding your online presence will accomplish and, when properly executed, will provide you with the best ROI of any of your business development initiatives.

As mentioned, these are only five suggestions and each has many associated factors. If you have the resources internally go for it! If not, you'll need to outsource. As a final observation I offer this, there is no doubt that the internet offers business the most extraordinary opportunity for expansion. Your prospective customers are looking for you there...can they find you? If not, how much is that costing your business?

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's Stopping You?

Well, here it is, 2009, almost a tenth the way through the 21st century and you still don't have a website, or if you do it's very basic and probably doesn't do what you want it to right? What is stopping you from moving forward on a new website? Do you wonder if this might be costing you lost revenues?

Some observations:
1- You are entirely focused on your core business activity so you have no time;
2- You probably think a website is a very expensive investment, it used to be;
3- You've heard the horror stories of being an abandoned internet orphan.

OK, let's address these one at a time.

1- Good you should be! That's what makes money for your business. Stay focused but do a little outsourcing. The opportunities that are available to business by way of the internet are growing are missing out on revenue, maybe to your competition.

2- Yep, it used to be that a basic sort of website might run $15,000 even more. All that has changed. You can now have a well constructed and compliant website with a great deal of functionality and good optimization for $2,000 even less if you want to go with a very basic template style website. (I don't recommend this but that's your decision) Once you have your website in place you'll be surprised by what it might do for your business. What would it mean to your business to get another client, two...three?

3- It was often the case that 'a basement designer' would make you a website and then get hired somewhere and you'd be left on your own when you needed to make changes and updates and...they wouldn't get done. This to has changed. First of all there are many reputable firms that can provide you with the service you need at affordable rates. Second, if you do go with a 'basement designer' today any reputable firm will be able to take your website and work with it, change it, develop it in any way you see appropriate to getting the outcomes you're looking for.

That's all I want to say. If you're part of the large group of companies that are poorly positioned online, I encourage you to do whatever it takes to remedy your situation. I guarantee you that if you move forward on this it will be the best money you ever spent in the promotion of your business. Something for you to think about...I recently spoke with a small business who had just finished a trade show where they figure they spent about $10,000 for 4 days of exposure. For that kind of money you could create a knock your socks off website that would generate business 24/7/365. Move forward, your competition me, email me if I can help.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

B2B or B2C Blogging for...What?

There is some disagreement out there about whether or not corporate business blogging is really beneficial or not. On one side, those who adamantly feel this is an important component of your company image, an the other side that feel it has no value particularly because the ROI is not clear and so it is a waste of time and resources. One thing is certain, if you don't have a blog, the ROI! I personally believe that a blog does have value but there are certain conditions required to achieve returns...uh oh , here we go with PLAN again!

Before beginning to blog brainstorm some questions for example, who is your audience? What information do they want? What problem(s) are they looking to solve?...and so on. A good next step is to determine what blogging is to accomplish in the scope of your overall corporate strategy, is this an info, dialogue, branding or other type blog? If you're comfortable that you're on firm ground up to this point get to blogging...with certain conditions.

Speak truthfully in a clear voice that will be heard by your audience, there's enough 'stuff' out there. If you offer information or insight that is not the truth expect to be called out on the carpet, we don't have time for it. A key to successful blog development is that you become recognized as a trusted source, so stay true. Reflect on real experience or comment similarly but you must have a motivation that stays on the high ground or you will not develop any loyalty from your readers.

It's true that there are many blogs that are not generating the desired outcomes and there is little or no ROI, but a well planned blog, that forms part of a consistent corporate strategy and is patiently nurtured and adheres to the highest level of integrity will have tremendous ROI. Want to invest the time? Ultimately this is your decision but here's a final thought. If your blog initiative resulted in one more satisfied customer, what would that be worth to the company? What about two? Three? If you don't blog, it could be that you would never generate that business, its lost to a competitor...

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thinking Social Media...Read This!

Social media continues to dominate a lot of discussions for companies as they consider what they're plans are...hopefully they are in fact considering instead of just acting as this may have undesirable results! I invite you to read the following as I couldn't have said it better myself and in fact extend the concept outlined to not just social media engagement, but website development generally. Here is one way to think of it, what would you like your web presence to do for your company? If you can imagine it, it can probably be done...plan! Failing to plan is a very good plan to fail. Read on...

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, May 8, 2009

Be Cool Internet...Stay Nice! 5 Reasons

Have you ever had an experience that left you really frustrated with a company if not outright mad? Whether it's a flaw with something that you bought, (zippers on hockey bags come to mind...Easton Canada, not so nice!!!) or a real let down in what you thought you were getting as a a service and what was delivered, it is more important than ever that you respond well to your customers concerns. Deliver good service, be honest, stand behind your product. Why? Today, more than ever before, an unhappy client can make their frustration known to a wide audience...really wide audience!

How you ask? Here are just five:

When I say just five, what I mean is there are probably 155...thousand similar websites or blogs! I don't think anyone can afford that kind of 'free press' do you? Is this fair? I think so, what do you think? Be cool...stay nice.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What is a Website For?

So...what is a website for? Really! Give me some answers I want to know what you're thinking.

As I observe what is happening with online communications and the conventional marketing options, here is a comment that I would be really interested in opening a discussion on:

Traditional marketing vehicles, print, TV, radio, trade shows etc. continue to be valid options but they are expensive and very difficult at best to track results. The internet offers business accurate, trackable results, unlimited ability to communicate relevant information, and a return on investment that is unmatched by any conventional media offering on a minute by minute basis and as a result, more and more companies are investing in their online presence.

What do conventional media do? They are supposed to get the prospect to engage with the company. What is a website for? In my opinion... get the prospect to engage with the company! In the online world we call this conversion. What do you think? I'm interested in hearing from you, leave a comment.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, April 20, 2009

How Much Does a Business Lead Cost You?

Really, how much? Do you ever think of this as part of your business planning cycle? I would be truly interested in hearing from you, leave a comment. Why do I ask?

Here's an example of some simple business math:

Gross Revenues- $100,000

Advertising/Marketing Spend- $10,000

Totl Number of Leads- 100

Cost per lead- $100

What would be the effect of reducing the cost per lead? Again straight forward answer, if the cost per lead is reduced, one of two things happens, the net profit of the business is improved or the Advertising and Marketing budget goes further allowing the company to grow revenues further, either way this is a significant win for business. So why am I talking about this?

If there was a way for you to reduce your cost per lead 25% would that make sense for your company? Well there is, in fact here's some news, businesses are reducing lead costs by 61%! Inbound Marketing, if you don't know about this, it is time to learn, the upside potential is tremendous, the result, a better bottom line. More on this in my next installment, but answer this...who wouldn't want to reduce their lead costs by 61%? Truly, I would like to hear from you, leave a comment.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Improve Website Results 100%, 5 Steps

You may think this is a joke, not possible...what if it was guaranteed? Don't look for a guarantee like this on this blog, it's not my style, but I will say that these kind of improvements are very possible with a well executed and organized web development plan...oh no, here I go with the plan thing again. Yes, hear me, you are not going to get those kind of results without planning unless you are unbelievably lucky. For those who think this isn't possible I offer this, if it is possible and you don't engage with this kind of process, then the new opportunities that would have been yours? Well, they'll be go to someone else. How much will that cost you?

Five Steps

Step 1- Content, content, content. Check it over, are you giving your visitors the solutions they're looking for? Nobody cares about your product except you, they care about their problem and solutions for the problem, get your answers lined up and give them what they want.

Step 2- Check out your competition, what are they doing? What are they saying? How are they ranking in searches, why? How are they converting site visitors? Standard business. You don't have to re-create the wheel, just improve it a little and you'll win all the business you want.

Step 3- SEO, you think I'm crazy mentioning this don't you? Well let me tell you something, I surf a lot of websites and an unbelievably high percentage don't even have keywords and those that do well, many have the same keywords on every page of the website. Missed opportunities.

Step 4- Blog. Yes, again I say blog. This is probably the easiest way to improve rankings with the search engines. A blog provides your website with changing content, blog more, more change, more search engine relevance.

Step 5- Social network campaign. It's time that you engage in the conversation, offer your tweet, your wall space, your flick...beware, this isn't where you advertise, this is where you provide good conversation, want to be interesting? Be interested.

There you go, five steps. Yes, there are many more, no I haven't said all there is to say, there are many details, come back again soon and I'll have something else.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are 'Things' Changing

Yeeeeeaah! In the world of online are they changing!

OK, so much for the exclamation points. I bring this topic up for two reasons, first, in a recent conversation with a friend who knows of my involvement with website services, he asked me about Facebook. I asked him, "What do you want to know?", his answer (really) "What is it?" I have to tell you, I was a little blown away but realized quickly that there are a lot of people like John, (not his real name) who are so busy with their business that they truly don't think they have time for such things and truly don't understand what social networks can provide their business with. In a nutshell, my first point is that they don't get to access information that will allow them to make an informed decision, and this is really too bad because there are so many opportunities for them to improve their business that never existed before. Website design, website communications is evolving at a remarkable pace, I truly believe it will be better for all of us, allowing better, more targeted and concise information distribution which will result in improved outcomes. That said, I also hope that the SMB marketplace will avail itself of this continuing evolution in communications.

Second reason...find a way to engage in the process, I strongly believe this is really important. Should I emphasize that some more? REALLY IMPORTANT! Whether you're in the internet industry to help others, or you're seeking that help, find a way to access the info you need that will help you, either better serve your clients, or serve the business outcomes you seek. For business owners and managers, you should probably put this process into other peoples hands, you don't really have time. Just make certain you're working with someone you're comfortable with and who is really keen on what is happening in this online communication world. When you do this, your investment will be paid back many many times over. If you chose not to engage somehow...well let's not go there.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, March 20, 2009

Live at Last!

The final step in getting your website live is to flick the switch so to speak. All of your information is correct and to your satisfaction, the content is laid out well, the initial optimization is completed, you're ready to be live and so...flick the switch! You might think this is where the process ends and really, it's where the process begins, let me explain.

What has been laid out in the last few entries is a process that will lead to your getting your website up and live for online visitors to come and engage with, you've built your online real estate, the online house so to speak. You've made an investment of time and capital resources to bring this project to fruition, and you should be excited about what can happen now and in the future as a result of this investment. Like any asset or tool of your business, or like the home that you live in for that matter, your online presence requires maintenance in order to preserve and increase it's value. Do you paint your house? Repair the windows? Replace the furnace or air conditioner as needed? Of course you do, if you didn't what would happen? The investment you've made in your house would depreciate. Similarly for your business, do you repair or replace your business equipment as needed? Do you change your business processes to better use the resources of the company? Again the answer is yes, and just as you complete these maintenance items for your home and business, you need to have the same attitude about your online investments. Why? Good question.

Each week I come across something new and interesting about what is evolving with respect to online communications, it's a rapidly expanding area. This research is critical in order that I can be of greatest help to my clients in their online development plans. Great news...there is a ton of new internet technology being introduced all the time! Why great news? These developments will allow you to achieve with increased efficiencies, to a wider audience, at less cost resulting in better business results for your company. As these innovations continue to roll out they will provide you with more opportunities than ever before, but there is a must replace the windows, apply fresh paint, change your heating and air conditioning system as needed to preserve and enhance your investment and achieve the greatest ROI for your efforts.

1- monitor results
2- evaluate data
3- plan based on interpretation
4- implement new plan
5- repeat

I'm going to repeat something that I offered a while back...In 2006 google was receiving 2.7 billion inquires monthly, in 2008 it was up to 37 billion! Plan well and you will be positioned to benefit, fail to plan...well let's not even go there.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Website Development Phase 3

You're have done much of the 'work' that you'll be responsible for by now, the idea and needs of your website are established, you've made arrangements for your development partner, they've created a plan that you've agreed to, the next phase is the actual 'Production' of your website.During this part of the projects development your input is limited for the most part to confirmation and approvals.

Your development partner should be addressing the following as they relate to your new website and seeking your approvals along the way:

1-Content integration
2-Backend application development (databases, email systems etc.) if applicable
3-Finalising graphic design
4-QA (quality assurance) testing
5-Cross browser, platforms testing
6-Content check
7-Final revision by client

You should be able to see the website as it's developed on a development website and so you'll be able to provide your input when needed. One word of caution, let your website service partner ask you for input. I mention this because often in the process of these projects you'll be excited and want to offer all kinds of input along the way, let them do their job, when they're done they should ask you for your input and that's the time to view the product, listen to the thought behind the development, and offer your considered input. This is how you will achieve the best outcomes. You're really close to being live!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, March 13, 2009

After the website idea...what's next?

In my last installment I outlined a process to develop a website idea, that will eventually lead to the creation of a website. Today I'd like to start working from where I left off, to review you now have the idea and budget fairly clear in your mind, what next? Concept development.

1- You now need to select a company that will work with you to bring your idea to virtual reality. I wrote extensively on the selection process for an online development partner back on December 12th and stand by my recommendations in that article, check it out. After you've chosen who you'll be working with move on to step 2.

2- Create a schedule of how the development process will unfold. This should include everything from initial concept discussion, to 'live' online website deployment. Some flexibility is required on the schedule as there may be changes that you see as necessary as the project unfolds.

3- Your online partner should now take your project and provide you with:
a) A basic site structure plan;
b) Graphic ideas as required for the project;
c) A site navigation plan.

4- Remember, you are hopefully working with a 'partner' who is implementing your ideas for a website, be sure to have open communications about the progress and provide regular feedback to them. This relationship is really important for the long-term, invest your time accordingly to ensure you have the right development partner.

It's a very exciting time for your company/organization, the first website is underway, congratulations!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, March 6, 2009

In the beginning...5 steps to a website idea.

Since I've been having a number of discussions lately with companies that are creating their first website I want to go through what I believe to be a good planning process for that first website. This will be done in a number of installments, what I hope to do is give you a road map that will take you from your initial idea, to being live on the internet, so here we go...

1- Requirements: Meet with your key personnel, stakeholders or trusted advisors to brainstorm what essential requirements you have for the website;

2- Define objectives: What is the purpose of your website? Information, sales, registration, membership, employee communications? What do you want the website to accomplish? At this stage let your imagination run wild, if you can think it, it can probably be done;

3- Competitive analysis: You know who the competition is, what are they doing, and what are they NOT doing that you can address;

4- Business processing: Are there repetitive tasks associated with new client development? Would automating these improve efficiency, and profitability?

5- Budget: Decide how much you can afford in both human and capital resources.

I've saved the budget for last intentionally. When you are planning don't think about the budget first because you want to be as creative as possible. It may be that your first website isn't everything you had conceived but if you know where you would like to get to it will help the overall development process. It's also important to think of this budget item as an ongoing expense because just like any other asset you have it will require at least maintenance, and in all likelihood, once you see the results you achieve with a well planned and implemented website, you will want to add the next level of functionality that you had initially dreamed of. Budgeting appropriately is key to the long-term project success.

As a final observation, too often I talk with companies that think of the website as something that is separate from the rest of the business. I strongly urge you to think of your website as a partner or another tool for your business. This kind of thinking will allow you to see the future more clearly and achieve the greatest ROI. By the way, companies who go through this kind of process and implement an effective website and internet presence plan, end up identifying this asset as having the greatest ROI for their business. Take time, get help, engage!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Website Maintenance...To Do or Not To Do...

You have a website and you're pretty much happy with what it does for your company. It doesn't have a database management system, or a CMS, or even any formal email management system, but, from all the feedback you've received, the visitors that have been coming have found at least some of the information they were looking for and some followed up with a phone call. You do wonder about a few things, for example, you've been looking over the traffic numbers, and the number of calls compared to the number of visitors you get sure seems low, no conversion. The other thing you've been wondering about is the new line of 'widgets' you now have in stock and there's no information on your website about them. Finally, you're going to be having the big promotion on ______'s next month and again, no online info about it. Oh yeah, there was also that 'blog' thing that someone was telling you about at the chamber of commerce business lunch last week, it seemed to be generating some good results for them and you've been wondering about that...even though you're not really certain what a blog really is. Maybe you're not so happy with your website after're not alone, a surprising number of companies are frustrated with their website for one reason or another.

The state of the art with respect to your online presence is changing so quickly that to ever think, "There, we're done!" is no longer an option. If you want to fully capitalize on the investment you've made in your website and achieve the optimum ROI, you must consider carefully how you are going to facilitate the changes on your website as you determine what is best for your organizations evolving web presence and business development. In the list of solutions, be certain to investigate whether a website maintenance arrangement with a competent company who will be able to support you as you move forward with your plans is the way to proceed. Of course you can always resort to ad hoc measures, and many do this quite successfully, the problem with this approach can be time of delivery because more and more of the professional website service and development companies are structuring their service so that maintenance clients receive priority service and ad hoc work comes in a distant second. Understandable right? Organizations who commit to a maintenance agreement with their website services provider demonstrate that they are serious about the development of their online web presence and want to execute on a well thought out plan, their maintenance agreement is the vehicle to accomplish this. If you don't have one, how serious are you about what you want to accomplish online?

Five reasons to have a website maintenance service agreement:
1- Allows you to develop your online presence in a structured but flexible manner;
2- Reduces your capital intensity because you pay for ongoing development overtime rather than with any single 'big' hit;
3- Stay ahead of your competition with updated content (maybe a CMS), state of the art SEO, web based applications to streamline business operations and processing, email management or marketing etc. etc.;
4- Save money! Usually these arrangements offer you discounts from regular ad hoc development rates;
5- Maximize your returns on your investment.

To the best of my knowledge, given the continued explosion of internet use, there is no single investment that you can make in your organization that has the potential for positive returns that your strategic web presence does. Take advantage of what is out there for you, when executed properly, you will be impressed with the results achieved. If you don' will cost you!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Website Design Do It Yourself Options

This is a different direction for me because normally I want to provide you with reasons that would encourage you to use professionally outsourced website design and development services. But (this is a big but) I've come to the realization that there are those of you who might just be better off doing this yourself. Afterall as so many people have told me, there are many resources now available online that will allow you to build a fully functioning and visitor friendly website. In this intallment I'd like to offer a plan for you if this is the route you want to go.

Step 1- Make a plan. You know what your website is about so all you need to do is make a plan that should include: site design plan, content development ideas, idea market research, competitor analysis, website marketing plan and optimization strategy and tactics, conversions desired, content management system requirements, email management and marketing requirements, client relationship development requirements, process automation needs, background database application development. This will provide you with a sound platform to move forward with.

Step 2- Define and allocate adequate resources to the project development. Again, you know what your website is about so all you have to do is decide who within your organization is going to take on the responsibility for each of the above mentioned plan elements. Depending on the competency and experience of the person who is undertaking one or more of the elements outlined in Step 1, I would allocate anywhere from 1-5 planning hours for each item for a total range of between 12 and 60 hours planning time.

Step 3- Build the website. Again, depending on the level of expertise (at a minimum you should have someone who is reasonably competent with a design program like Dreamweaver, much better to have someone competent in a variety of web programming languages) available within your organization, you should probably count on a minimum of 2 weeks to as much as several weeks to ensure that the page SEO tasks are properly done, the content is credible, coherent and well laid out for easy navigation etc. This will vary depending on the level of sophistication you've decided on. For example, if you are implementing database program applications such as email or client relationship management tools, you'll need to allow significantly more time, particularly as this will be your first design build project of this kind.

Step 4- Review the website and correct as needed. Programs like Dreamweaver or Front Page are notorious for creating websites that have W3C compliance issues so that your website visitors may have significant problems viewing your webpages properly, or the applications you've developed won't run properly. Again, depending on the expertise available and the complexity allow 3 days to several weeks for this process.

Great! You're done until you want to do some updates and you've only had to take...whoa. Hang on a second, I really didn't realize this, you've just created a project outside of your core competency area that will probably take 3 to 8 weeks person time to complete and the outcome is not guaranteed to be what you wanted!

OK, I did realize what was happening in my blog entry here. My point? How much time, energy and effort does your business save your clients? What value do you offer them? Could they do it themselves? Maybe they could, but does their investment in time and capital resources justify the outcome?

How much is a do it yourself website really going to cost you?

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Content is content...not!

So we'll stay on the theme of content again today. Why, because it's important to get this right if it is going to accomplish what you've set out to do...most SEO efforts will go unrewarded by increased visitor 'stickiness', the CMS you had developed for your site will be of little value because it is not being used effectively, so now the CRM is worthless because you aren't getting the conversions you started out seeking. The database aplication on which everything is based doesn't have to do anything because of low traffic...the whole effort and expense of your website design and development plan is a waste and your ROI is in the tank! Well developed content is critically important.

What constitutes good content? It starts with a methodology for development in my view. (This applies to all website development, make certain your 'online partner' has some sort of process to get you where you want to go.) This is not some big secret it just takes time and effort to get it done effectively. Any good website design and development firm should be able to clearly describe to you the process they will use in your content development and when they've described their method, you should feel good about what they plan to do, if not, look for another service provider. By the way, this is why you pay a premium to work with professionals, this is some of the work that goes on behind the scene that you are probably not aware of unless you specifically ask. Here are the steps I try to follow when developing content:

1- Understand client business model and objectives;
2- Clarify desired audience;
3- Understand audience need and relationship to client business ojectives;
4- Determine relevance of client provided keywords and phrases;
5- Investigate related terms;
6- Create content in an hourglass format, with keywords and phrases sprinkled throughout but heaviest near the top and bottom of a page;
7- Review with client to establish if the voice and feel is right and re-work if necessary.

That's it! Simple isn't it? Of course it helps to have some practice and to know where there are resources to investigate these things, but like anything, your time and effort will pay off. Your SEO will drive people to a website that has 'sticky' content that engages your visitor audience, so that any website design and development work, your CMS, CRM and web based applications, all accomplish the tasks they were designed to and your ROI is...beyond your expectations!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What we don't know

When it comes to the internet, you can always make the decision to do nothing, and gain nothing from the opportunities for growth, efficiency and profitability for your company...but there are millions of people using the internet now, what is your decision costing your business?

Three wisest words my Dad ever taught me? "I don't know." It's sometimes hard to admit that we don't know something, but in the dynamic world of the internet and web applications, more often than not, we don't know, and it's important to accept this truth. Why? Simply put, there are more opportunities for your business to grow and prosper, more applications that will streamline your business operations, investments that you can make for your business that will have among the highest ROI of any you can make for your business, than have ever existed before as a result of the internet and web based applications. If you've now accepted that you "don't know", what is it that you need to know?

You need to know that there are great companies out there who want to work with you and marry their expertise in the online world, with your bricks and mortar world offering, to achieve what you want whether that's better online visibility,communication or service, maybe you want to streamline operations and or processing to prevent scalability issues. Whatever you want to achieve, the right partner can get you there. By the way, another thing you need to know is this is a process that is ongoing, don't imagine that this partner is going to do something and be done, a true partner for you recognizes the long-term nature of this process, there are benchmarks along the way, but no final events!

What else? Ah yes, you also need to know that there are companies who really don't see the larger picture, or have a paln how to get you there, and here is the need to know the difference between the two. Trust your instincts. This isn't a decision that's irreversible but taking the time to get the match right is worth it, it will save you a tremendous amount of time and financial resources.

I repeat, you can always stay the course, not make a decision, and really gain nothing from the web and all it has to offer in the way of growth, efficiency and profitability...but there are millions of people using the internet, what is your decision costing your business?

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why is content soooo important?

Recently I wrote that content was king and I want to expand a little on that because I had a recent experience that really highlights the point...

I was driving down a highway, actually the 417 between Ottawa and Montreal, and like any highway was going past various exits without really paying much attention as they were not MY exit, when something caught my attention...the ferry boat at Hudson just before you get to the western edge of Montreal. You see, I love water, water sports, fishing (I have several seasons of professional tournament fishing in my background), snorkelling and scuba diving, canoeing, sailing, kayaking, boating, water skiing, you name it, if it involves water it pretty much captures my attention. So I pulled off on a little excursion to see this ferry link that I had never seen before...what the heck has this got to do with websites you ask? Here is my point, I got off the highway because I came across something that was of interest to me, and I went and investigated. Why? Because a sign directed me. It indicated that there was something there for me to investigate.

Your website content is like that highway sign and if your web presence doesn't have the content that is relevant and of interest to your site visitor, google won't easily find you, and prospective visitors will not 'pull off' to look and investigate! In 2008 google averaged 37 billion inquiries monthly. How much is it costing you because your "signage" isn't working?

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, January 19, 2009

Web Presence=Relationships

I'm stuck on the web presence theme...I truly believe that a web presence vs just a website is what will separate online success from failure for the SMB marketplace. Why? Because generally we do business with those we like and trust and a web presence is a sure way to build that relationship online and it is in the online virtual world that more and more relationships are being initiated. How many? In 2006 Google was receiving 2.7 billion queries monthly, in 2008 that has grown to 37 billion! (See "Did you know" for an informative change of perspective.) How many of these inquiries are important for your business?

When did you last 'google' for information on something you were looking for? Do you recognize that action as the beginning of a prospective online relationship? One way to think of this relationship for your website is as a site visitor...when you go looking for 'something' online what do you look for, the website that says, "Wow have we got a deal for you!" or the one that provides you with all the relevant information you need, in an easy to navigate well thought out manner? When you come across the latter (which is a very small % of websites by the way) you know that you've found a prospective solution for your need, a solution that you can have confidence in.

What truly separates a website from a web presence? A comprehensive plan that incorporates your bricks and mortar operations with your online initiatives in a manner that supports and enhances. If up to now you have only viewed your online activities as another 'item' on your list of organizational must haves, I urge you to re-think and re-engage with your online development so that your business, with a comprehensive web presence, will have a far greater likelihood of successfully converting site visitors to real world clients.

The cost of not pursuing this development route? You'll lose the potential relationships that 37 billion monthly inquiries (and growing) could mean for your operations. Your call...

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, January 12, 2009

Web Presence=Relevant Content="Sticky info"

What, you ask does that mean? Again, I want to stay on the theme of a web presence and today a brief comment on content, in a nutshell content is question about it!

You've probably heard the old adage for business success, "Location, location, location", how, if at all, is that modified in our internet world? I offer you this "Information, information, information" as a replacement. What you want is to have relevant information that engages your visitor to stay on your website and go through a 'conversion' whatever that may be for you and your organization. Is this valid? Let's look briefly at a real example...

Industry: Home renovations

Competitors: and

These two sites offer consumers a similar product, ultimately both want the homeowner interested in a renovation project to connect with one of their service providers. Here is a big difference, Homefocus about 1.5 page views per visit and Home Renovation Guide (HRG) about 4.5, which visitor is more engaged with the information, and therefore more likely to take action? The numbers don't lie and the HRG site has been steadily on the increase for over two years because they are progressive and offer what...relevant information! Articles, pictures, links, all to provide visitors with the information they are seeking.

No content, no traffic, no conversion, no business or...

Interesting and engaging information= interested and engaged visitors= happy to follow through and convert= great business. Take action today.

We're at the edge of the future...

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to Web Presence...

The other day was having a discussion with a business owner and introduced the idea of a web presence as opposed to a website...well I had some explaining to do! So I thought I'd take a moment to clarify a little of what I mean by a web presence. I say a little because this is a lengthy topic and I already have the tendency to 'wordiness' (don't tempt me!) and so I'll uncover little by little what I mean by web presence and what the benefits are vs a website approach.

There are many elements involved in the creation of a web presence but they all start from the same place, a good plan that integrates all facets of your business. You see, I believe that a web presence allows your business or organization to benefit fully from all that the internet has to offer, it is not just about having some info up there for people to see, a presence is a way to really extend your message to your audience that is inviting and interactive, it engages your visitor to the point that they will take a next step, whatever that next step might be that is relevant to your business outcomes. Just as with anything else in your business or organization you need a thoughtful plan that views your ongoing internet activities as another doorway to new visitors. This requires that you invest adequate resources to the task, but as study after study shows, the internet is now the best investment you can make for your organization/business with the greatest ROI when properly executed.

You can think of it a little like this:

Website: A place where people end up by chance;

Web Presence: An online location that visitors go to with intent;

Inaction is costing you, who knows how much but I guarantee it is costing you, get started it's free to plan!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse