Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Most Important Aspect of Email Marketing

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Email marketing is an inexpensive way for companies to communicate with their customers. You can think of email marketing as a form of direct mail that goes into an inbox rather than a mailbox.

Many companies have already started using email blasts and e-newsletters as part of their marketing campaign. If you still aren’t sure what email marketing can be used for, here are a few suggestions:

  • communicate with current customers
  • keep in touch with potential customers
  • inform customers of upcoming sales or promotions
  • give your company a personal touch
  • enhance customer service
  • and so much more…

As wonderful as email marketing is, if it’s not done right, it can fall flat on its face, wasting all that time and effort. If it’s done poorly, it can backfire.

One of the number one important lessons to learn about email marketing is that it is like any other piece of marketing you do – it needs to be branded. Just as you wouldn’t hand out a brochure without your logo and contact information, an email newsletter or email blast is the same. Your email message needs to be consistent with your website and printed materials.

In today’s digital age, people are getting email marketing sent to them on a daily basis. What they choose to open needs to create a huge impact. Putting in the effort to make certain your message and design fits your branding will help consumers remember you in the future.

Email marketing is here to stay. At Net Elevation we are always working to help our clients find the best design possible that tells the story of their brand and product while being unique and memorable.

Have you used any email marketing? Did you make sure to brand? We’d love to hear.

Five Decisions to Make About Your Website

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Every website looks different and has a different purpose all because of decisions that were made during its inception. Here are five big ones that you may not even think about, but can have a huge impact on how your site looks and the message it gets across:

1. The font

There are many styles of font out there, and picking one that is easy to read while still being stylish can be a tall order. Make sure to peruse other sites and see if you like the style, size, and spacing of the font. Take notes on what you like and why and let your web designer know your preferences.

2. Adding a blog

Adding a blog to a site is a great way to help with your SEO and impart more information to your readers. The only important decision to make here is if you’re going to put in the time and effort to upkeep the blog. If you know yourself and you know that blog will be updated only a few times a year, it might be best to leave it be.

3. Picking a header

This is another design decision that can really impact the feel of a site. Some headers are huge and take up most of the above the fold action. Other headers are quite small and let the content and graphics do the talking. Whatever header design you prefer, make sure it is branded correctly as it’s the face of your site.

4. Including social media

This is another decision that rests on your ability to upkeep your social media platforms. Having the links makes you look current, until visitors click on them and see they are never updated.

5. The navigation

Deciding what tabs are most visible will help visitors understand what you offer and what they can learn from visiting your site. Some websites choose to have only a few tabs on the top — the most relevant and important ones — and keep less necessary tabs on the bottom, in the footer. Others choose to have everything uptop. Take a look at other websites and see what you like the best . These are only a few of the important decisions you will need to make when it comes to website design, but knowing what you like and what suits your business the best will have you end up with a better site overall.

Three Factors to Consider when Revamping Your Website

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

2011 is here, and that means many businesses are starting out the year by making new years resolutions. Among the most common resolution for a small business to make is the declaration to revamp their website. It’s a good resolution to have because websites have a lot in common with fashion — if you don’t update them enough, they start to look worn, tired, and out of style.

At Net Elevation we work with a lot of companies to help give their sites anything from a facelift to an entire head-to-toe makeover. In case you are thinking about making this the year you bring your website to the next level, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

1.) Your website design should be professional. Take a good, honest look at your color-scheme, typography, and graphics and compare them to your competitors. Does your look stand up to theirs? Or do they have a more
modern feel? Having a fresh first impression will only help your site.

2.) Navigation is key. When building a website, the page navigation needs to be intuitive and make sense. Having a user-friendly experience is key to using a website to make sales. If a potential customer or client is frustrated searching for a particular piece of information, they are likely to leave your site before making a purchase. Ask a few friends or even strangers to find an important piece of information on your site and see how easily they can do it.

3.) Update to include social media. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, but social media is all the rage these days. Having a blog, and being active on Facebook and Twitter makes you look hip and in-tune with today’s current trends. If you’re putting in the effort to maintain these platforms, make sure their icons are prominent on your site.

New years resolutions are never easy to keep, but this should be the year you decide to update your website, so make sure to keep these three important factors in mind.

Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Etc. to Promote your Business

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Have these questions been on your mind?

  • How do I use LinkedIn for business?
  • How can I get leads, set appointments and network through Facebook?
  • What the heck is Twitter, anyway?! It sounds painful…

If so, be sure to check out the latest Special Report from our friend Jason Rosado at Distinctive Coaching:

Untangling Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and More

Jason has outlined the ins-and-outs of using these sites to promote your business. If you’re curious about these new tools, or looking for a creative way to reach a hip, young audience, I highly recommend downloading Jason’s report.

We’re not affiliated with Jason in any way…I’m recommending this report because I’ve read it and I think many small business owners could benefit from Jason’s tips.

Sorting Out the Hosting Mess

Friday, August 15th, 2008

I’ve been helping a new client this afternoon who is trying to sort out where exactly his website is hosted, and how to access it to make updates. He called the folks who supposedly host his website, and they’re pulling him through a long bureaucratic process of back-and-forth faxes in order to prove his identity so they can finally grant him access to his site. He just wanted to make a few web updates, and that simple desire set off this whole process. It’s sucking away his afternoon and he’s thinking about giving up on the whole idea.

Sadly, this is a situation we run into quite often. So many business owners created their website years ago and now they’ve lost track of the web hosting details. Some of them have no idea who their hosting provider is or who is paying for it.

Almost always, this mess happens when they sign up for a rock-bottom hosting deal with a big-name hosting provider, such as (ahem) GoDaddy, Network Solutions or Yahoo. Those supposed savings, often only a few dollars per month, resurface later as the hidden costs of dealing with a monolithic hosting provider. How many hours, sometimes days, are wasted in negotiating with a big company while trying to re-gain access to your site?

Net Elevation is a sensible alternative to the nightmare of rock-bottom hosting. We use the same reliable, secure technology as the big guys, but we’re committed to maintaining a first-name relationship with all of our customers. When one of our customers has a question about their site, they call us and we help them. No rabbit holes, no lost productivity, no bureaucracy and no overseas phone operators. Doesn’t it make sense to host your site with the same people that build and maintain it for you?

P.J. Clarke’s Restaurant

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

We had a blast designing the brand new site for P.J. Clarke’s, a popular restaurant chain in Chicago. The project allowed us to flex our design muscles, and craft a site that reflects the comforting, well-worn retro style of the restaurants.

PJ Clarke’s

When you visit P.J. Clarke’s, one of the things that stands out is the way the walls are covered in old photographs–of Chicago neighborhoods and Hollywood celebrities. So we decided to use photography as a motif for the website. We incorporated a row of Hollywood head shots on the homepage, and scattered old snapshots or postcards throughout the site.

So many restaurant sites are visually amazing–with “cool” animations and sound effects– but they are slow-loading and nearly unusable. We were conscious to avoid this trap with P.J. Clarke’s. As you click through the site, you’ll realize that this is a good example of a site that is aesthetically rich, while still remaining easy to navigate and understand. As fun as the design process was, we were careful to never lose sight of the fact that P.J.’s website needed to be a quick and easy source of information for potential customers.

Books That Changed our Business Forever: Getting Things Done

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I’m generally wary of self-help books, business motivation books, diet books and just about anything else that promises a “revolutionary secret” to help you solve a particular problem. That being said, I’ve actually read quite a few of this type of book. They’re not completely devoid of value. Many of them have good advice and ideas. But they are hardly “revolutionary” and most of them don’t lead me to fundamentally change anything.

The big exception for me has been Getting Things Done, by David Allen. This book changed my life forever. I’m in my third year of using Allen’s principles, and they are amazingly flexible and effective.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen

Allen describes the ways in which all of us are bombarded with “things” to do, each of them creating a strain on our minds. Then he suggests a method to promote “stress-free productivity”. His techniques help us keep detailed track of the myriad things to do, while allowing us to focus specifically on the task at hand, without wondering if there is something else we should be doing instead.

The basic premise is that you need a system. You need a way of tracking your projects (both at work and in your life), and you need to follow this process every time, without fail. If you setup a easy-to-use  system, and you follow it always, then you will be able to trust it. You will trust that your system will not let anything fall through the cracks. And when you are sure that nothing is falling through the cracks, then you will experience lower levels of stress.

That’s the broad overview, and I’m sure it sounds much like the vague self-help nonsense that I mentioned earlier. But Allen’s book details a series of specific techniques that are easy to implement and amazingly effective. It’s not vague at all–he spells out exactly what you need to do, and when you need to do it. I’ll explore these techniques further in future posts.

Does it work? It’s worked wonders for me. It allows me to manage an ever-expanding client list (managing 60 clients sometimes requires me to switch my focus every 15 minutes, resulting in a very productive day even though it is filled with small tasks), keep track of life’s daily activities and build a list of “someday” projects that I can easily pluck and tackle when time allows. I plan to follow this system (with my own tweaks and innovations) for the rest of my life.

So that’s my endorsement.  It’s not easy for me to get excited about something I read in a self-help book, but Getting Things Done is legitimately awesome.

A website is not a silver bullet

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

I just finished reading Harry Beckwith’s What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business. One of the chapters that stood out to me was the one where he talked about having realistic expectations for your website. He writes:

Osborn Drugs in Miami, Oklahoma, pioneered the commercial use of the Internet. In 1996, it created an easy-to-use Web site, publicized it well, and waited for the cash to roll in.

It didn’t roll in. It crawled.

The site produced moderate growth–about 5 percent annually. More significant, however, was where that added 5 percent came from: 90 percent of the people using the site already were customers.

The Web site, in the end, has not changed Osborn Drugs’s business. It has merely tweaked it, shifting a few store buyers over into online buyers.

Osborn Drugs learned that for most businesses, the Internet is not an enormous marketing tool. It just creates one more communications medium and distribution channel that can attract a few new customers and help you satisfy your current ones….

Year 2001 Beckwith Partners
Estimated New Business Inquiries

From all sources = 325
From firm Web site = 3

The Internet is not your business. It merely supports the fundamentals of business–basics that the Internet does not change.

I couldn’t agree more. Net Elevation sometimes gets business inquiries from potential customers that seem to think a new website will rescue their struggling company, or, even worse, that their fledgling company will depend on its website for all their sales leads. We try to encourage these folks to think of their website as providing no more than 10% of their overall inquiries, just to be safe.

It may seem odd for a web design company to be discouraging potential clients from “dreaming big” with their online business goals. But our mission is to help our customers, even if it means turning down a project that could provide us with a short-term profit. We hope that all of our customers will stick around for many years to come, not burning out due to a faulty marketing plan that is overly dependent on magical results from their website.

Our new company launched on November 1st

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

We are proud to announce the official launch of Net Elevation on November 1st, 2007.

I started Net Elevation with my friend, Josh Berkowitz, a very talented web designer and super-nice guy. Josh was working as a freelancer like me, and we noticed that we offered similar services, but that we each had our own strengths. For example, I noticed that Josh has a great eye for design, while he recognized that I have the ability to sort out complicated technical challenges. With our complimentary skills, a partnership made perfect sense.

For the past few months, we’ve been working feverishly to prepare our new company website and to determine our strategy and values. I am very proud of what we’ve put together and excited to continue building the company.

We will be using this blog to explain our philosophies, and to offer tips and strategies for getting better results from your website. It will include the usual announcements and news, but also discussion of some topics that may seem unrelated–like pop music, advertising,  sports, the latest YouTube sensations or that joke we heard on Leno last night.

If you’re interested in keeping up, please subscribe to our RSS feed located in the sidebar. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

Why We Started Net Elevation

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Net Elevation is based on the idea that most small businesses have absolutely no idea how to use the Web as an effective marketing and lead-generation tool.

By now, most small companies–even those with fewer than ten employees–have their own Web sites. These Web sites were usually created with great anticipation. The companies’ owners hoped their new site would open a whole new world of potential customers, even outside their normal sphere of local or regional renown. The Web was viewed as a magical source of new business opportunities.

Always resourceful, many of these business owners found somebody who could produce their Web site cheaply–usually this was a family friend or their lead salesperson’s nephew who was interested in Web design. The resulting site, although inexpensive, rarely engaged their customers in a professional manner with a compelling marketing message. It almost never generated new business for the company, and because of its shoddy design, it became more of a liability than an asset.

Even worse, some of these small business owners hired high-priced graphic design firms to build a Web site with whiz-bang animations, beautiful imagery and cutting-edge technologies. The new site looked like a million bucks, but at the end of the day, it still didn’t generate new business opportunities. They had a great looking Web site, but their customers didn’t visit and didn’t care. The high-priced graphic design was money down the drain because the designers were trying to impress the business owner with pretty pictures, rather than engage his customers with a strong value proposition.

This is the sad state that most small business owners are currently in. They’ve invested time, money and energy into Web sites that just don’t live up to their companies’ visions of online success. At this point, most of them give up on the idea, and face the choice of either keeping their non-effective site or having no site at all. Often, the information on their sites falls badly out-of-date or incorrect, which further confuses the few customers who actually trickle onto their site.

A few business owners remain dedicated to the idea that their site can generate business opportunities. They learn a few key ideas by studying business magazines or the Web sites of larger competitors. Unfortunately, they return to the same high-priced graphic design firms to implement their new ideas. Once again, they spend way too much cash for way too few business results.

Net Elevation believes the Web really can be a great source of new business opportunities, if the business owner adopts the correct mindset. Our Elevated Philosophy is based on three central tenets:

  1. The marketing strategy for most small businesses needs to be vastly different than the marketing strategy for a large consumer corporation.
  2. Every design decision on your site should be based on what your customer wants to see, not what you want to see.
  3. A Web site is an ongoing investment.

We will explore each tenet of our Elevated Philosophy in future posts.

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