Our blog provides advice, tips, suggestions and promotion ideas to help you improve and grow your business.

Promote Your Business with Email Signatures

Email signatures are an often overlooked, but simple technique you can use to promote your business.

An email signature is a little piece of information at the end of your email that is automatically included in every email you send. This typically includes your name and phone number.

Your email signature should contain vital information about how to contact you, like your website address and even company slogan.

A suggested format is as follows:

Best Regards,

John Smith
ABC Widgets, Inc
Your #1 Source for Widgets
Phone: 1-800-555-5555
Website: http://www.abcwidgets.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/abcwidgets

In this example, you have included your name, company name, company slogan, full contact information and website information.

This is a simple and effective way to provide vital contact information at the same time promote your business with each email that goes out.

You can also use free online services that can make your email signature even more affective. One website I found was called http://www.wisestamp.com.

P.S. If you aren’t already using your domain-based email that we provide with every account, click here to see how easy it is to setup your own, [email protected] email account.

Lead Checklist for Your Website

Is your website a lead-generation machine? Your website can be your most powerful marketing tool, delivering a steady stream of new business leads and filling your sales pipeline.

Unfortunately, most companies do not optimize their websites for lead generation—offering, instead, nothing more than passive online brochures.

What about your website? Find out your website’s lead-generation potential by giving it a lead-generation checkup.

Review the following 10 questions, and give yourself one point for each Yes answer. Good luck!

1. Does your homepage clearly communicate what your company does and the audiences you serve?
_____ Yes _____ No

First impressions count, and more people will see your home page than any other page on your website. So, make sure your home page is as welcoming and useful as possible.

It should clearly communicate your capabilities and the solutions your company provides. Moreover, it should provide a timely digest of the latest and greatest information you offer deeper within the site.

Search engines such as Google are your best source for targeted, motivated leads. Your prospects are searching for you. Make it easy for them to find you by boosting your rank in the search engines.

To turn your website into a search-engine magnet, fill your website’s copy and coding with the keyword phrases your customers use most often. In addition, build a network of quality inbound links to your website from reputable and industry-relevant external websites.

5. Are you updating your website’s content on a regular basis?
_____ Yes _____ No

Is your latest press release from 2008? Does your copyright notice still say 2009 or earlier? People want to do business with dynamic companies. And, to project your dynamism, you need to have a fresh and relevant website.

Make it a point to take a critical look at your website at least monthly, and add or remove information to improve its value to your customers and prospects.

6. Does every page of your website include a compelling call to action?
_____ Yes _____ No

Don’t make the mistake of relying on your Contact Us page as the sole method for prospects to take action. To turn your website into a lead-generation machine, pepper your website with a variety of relevant calls to action inviting prospects to reach out and take the next step.

7. Do your calls to action address prospective customers at each stage of the buying cycle?
_____ Yes _____ No

Not everyone is ready to buy from you today. Some people are kicking tires; others may have a basic early-stage question.

Look for ways to compel all prospects to reach out to you by offering tailored calls to action that appeal to prospects at each stage of the buying process. Examples include Ask the Experts forms, complimentary consultations, downloadable best-practice guides, free trials, etc.

8. Is your phone number prominently displayed on every page of your website?
_____ Yes _____ No

Don’t forget to prominently display your phone number on every page of your website.

In our experience, people are at least as likely if not two to three times more likely to pick up the phone when they are browsing a company’s website. And there is no better time to be talking with a prospect because you can use your website as a presentation tool.
9. Are your online forms short, asking only for basic contact information (e.g., name, company, phone, and email address)?
_____ Yes _____ No

Are your online lead-generation forms as long and daunting as a tax return? If so, shorten them. The more fields your forms include, the less likely prospects will be to fill them out.

Ask only for basic contact information that your salespeople will need to make an intelligent follow-up. You can program those forms to identify the page the person was on, so your salesperson can prepare for the call.

10. Do you have a process in place to ensure your website inquiries receive immediate follow-up?
_____ Yes _____ No

How long does it take for your salespeople to follow up on online lead inquiries? If the follow-up is not immediate, you are leaving money on the table.

Assign salespeople to follow up on online leads, and make sure the inquiries get to them as soon as possible. To streamline your lead-management and follow-up process, tie your website forms into a customer-relationship-management (CRM) system such as SalesForce.com or SugarCRM.

So how did you do? If you scored a 7 or higher, you’re doing well, and your website is a powerful lead-generation tool. However, if you scored a 6 or below, you have some work to do. I hope this checkup got you thinking about ways to improve your website.

Written by Bob DeStefano is president of SVM E-Business Solutions (www.svmsolutions.com), a B2B online marketing agency that helps manufacturers and distributors leverage the Web.

What is MarketingProfs?
MarketingProfs is a great resource for how-to marketing articles and advice for small businesses. For more information, go to http://www.MarketingProfs.com

3 Website Pet Peeves To Avoid

When building a website, customers accidentally overlook some of the more important aspects of providing information to a prospective customer visiting your website.

In the flurry of work required to get your website done, focusing on content, photos, your marketing message, sometimes the basics fall through the cracks. It’s understandable and  in this blog post, I hope to help you with some of the basic pet peeves you can easily avoid on your website.

Not surprisingly, these issues relate to getting a hold of you! Making it easier and easier for your prospects to contact you and conduct business is a basic, but critical step in the success of your website. In past blog posts, I’ve suggested ways to speed up your sales cycle, this post covers the basics and the easiest pet peeves to avoid on your website.

Pet Peeve #1: Your contact Information is not on your home page

Often times customers just want to get a hold of someone and ask a quick question. The speed at which you can do that will determine your success. We hear from customers every day that they appreciate that we answer our phones live.

Many times a prospect has already decided to purchase something and they are looking to call you and make the transaction. Provide your full contact information on your home page, at a minimum your 800 # or business phone number. Let the prospect decide how they want to contact you, whether it’s phone, mail or email.

Pet Peeve #2: There is no phone number on your website

This is probably one of the most important things you can have on your website. Many people are comfortable with email, but most still prefer to conduct business over the phone. Don’t give them an excuse to go elsewhere, put your phone number on ever page on your website. Either at the top or at a minimum in a footer of your website.

Pet Peeve #3: The only way to get information is via email link or contact form

Many website owners only provide an email link as a way for the prospect for you contact them. Maybe it’s the lack of resources initially, but I believe this is a big mistake. Again, customers want to speak to someone fast and email as we all know is slow.

Even if you are on top of your emails, the perception to the customer is that you are not as professional as you could be by having a phone number listed on your website. Many services allow you to forward a 800 # to your cell phone. So, you do not need an expensive phone system to appear professional.

Bottom line: It’s best to provide FULL contact information on your website, that is address, phone email, contact page link. Let the customer decide which way they prefer to contact you. This basic change on your website will help you be more successful.

How to add Flickr slideshow to Site Builder Pro

Flickr is a great way to upload and organize your photos online.

Although you can upload your photos directly to Site Builder Pro, some customers prefer to organize their photos on Flickr.

We’ve created a how-to movie on how you can add your Flickr slideshow to your website using Site Builder Pro.

How to add Flickr Photos to Site Builder Pro:

Book Suggestion: The 4 Hour Work Week

I recently read the 4 Hour Work Week and really liked it.

4 Hour Work Week gives you a new perspective on how to solve an old problem: How do you grow a business, but not be all about work.

The author goes through tons of great examples on how you can have a successful business, but still have balance in your life.

The goal is to not really only work 4 hours a week,” but how you can make the best of your business resources, automate and/or delegate to make your business more successful.

The author puts some emphasis on his personal desire to travel the world and still run a successful business. This may not be your goal, but don’t let that aspect of the book dissuade you. I personally love to travel, but it’s not my goal in life, however, I still derived a lot of great tips from this book.

I highly recommend this book, I’m confident it will give you some great insight and perspective on how to better run your business.

Amazon Link

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

On behalf of everyone at OneWebHosting, I would would like to wish you Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful and appreciative for your business and we wish you and your family a great Thanksgiving this year!

Ten Steps for Creating a Facebook Fan Page

Considering Facebook’s 300 million active users, and the thousands joining every day—along with its Alexa ranking of 3 (that is, Facebook is the third most-trafficked website)—businesses really must tap into the power of this online behemoth.

Facebook offers many features for strategic networking and generating visibility for your company.

Among them, Facebook fan pages are (currently) the only feature fully indexed by Google. By inserting keyword-rich text throughout your fan page and updating regularly, you can create tremendous search engine optimization.

Using Facebook’s Social Ads, you can then drive targeted traffic from the entire Facebook site directly to your fan page.

Once potential fans click through to your fan page, your goals are as follows:

  • Immediately grab their attention and make them feel they are in the right place (they feel they made the right decision by clicking on your ad)
  • Inspire them to become a fan
  • Draw them in to engage with your page
  • Keep them coming back—often called “stickiness” (your fans keep coming back to engage with your page)

The following 10 elements of dynamic Facebook fan pages will set you head and shoulders above the rest and keep your fans coming back for more.

1. Title your page

When first creating your fan page, you need to choose a title; it could be your brand name, personal name, or business name, as well as a few descriptive words. Typically, the shorter the title, the better, because each time you add content to your fan page your long title will append to each post.

2. Choose a picture that pops

This is not a well-known fact, but Facebook’s ideal size for a fan page image is 200 pixels wide by 600 pixels high (it looks rather like a bookmark shape).

Whenever you post on your own fan page, the thumbnail image that appears will show a section of your main picture, so you may need to experiment with your graphic to get the image just the way you want it.

3. Secure your username

As soon as you get your first 25 fans, you’ll be able to register your unique username (often called a vanity URL) at http://facebook.com/username. For example, instead of being a long, unmemorable link, you can shorten the link by using your brand name, company name, etc. (mine is http://facebook.com/marismith).

4. Set a landing tab

You can create a fully customized “landing page” for your non-fans, with images, keyword-rich text, links, even video. How? Just add the Static FBML app, paste in your FBML code (very similar to HTML), then edit your fan page settings to select the specific tab you wish non-fans to land on.

For examples, see http://facebook.com/droz, http://facebook.com/gary, http://www.facebook.com/ellentv, http://www.facebook.com/cocacola, http://www.facebook.com/ONE, http://facebook.com/paysonjewelry.

5. Write an appealing About Us/Bio

There’s a small text box area just under your fan page picture; use this area very strategically to essentially summarize what you do, whom you help, and how you help them. Even better, include a call to action with a hyperlink (be sure to include the “http://” so it’s clickable).

6. Import your blog posts

Using the Notes app, pull in your blog feed so that each time you make a blog post, your fan page automatically updates and your fans can read and comment on the post. Doing so also helps to consistently add content to your fan page and keep it fresh and engaging.

7. Show posts by page and fans

There may be strategic reasons for showing posts only by you on the fan page, or only by your fans, but I highly recommend setting it to show both. That way, anyone who comes to your page can see the interaction from both sides.

8. Encourage your fans to add content

Your fans can add their own photos, videos, and comments on your “wall.” Allowing and encouraging your fans to add their own content will make them feel more a part of your online Facebook community, and when they tag themselves that content goes out into their feeds creating more visibility for you.

9. Respond to your fans

Providing quality content is just one aspect of building a good Facebook fan page (or any social networking presence, for that matter). Another critical aspect is engagement. By actively responding to your fans’ comments, questions, suggestions, ideas, etc., you show that you’re a company that cares, listens, takes action, and engages your community.

10. Broadcast to Twitter

Using the new Facebook fan page to Twitter app http://facebook.com/twitter you can write status updates up to 420 characters that will go out as a tweet on your Twitter account and truncate at about 120 characters with a bit.ly link back to your fan page. Great for cross-promoting and extra visibility!

What is MarketingProfs?
MarketingProfs is a great resource for how-to marketing articles and advice for small businesses. For more information, go to http://www.MarketingProfs.com

Site Builder Pro upgraded!

We have recently introduced a new upgrade to our Site Builder Pro. Most of the updates are refinements and performance increases.

The way you edit your website has improved greatly. You are now able to view the changes as you make them in real time and how they will look on the page.

We have also added a ton of new generation templates and are on a regular schedule to add 10-25 new templates per week. Our new templates are based on new generation designs that give you more flexibility in customization.

To check out the new features of this upgrade, simply login to your Site Builder Pro account. You can also check out our updated how-to movies on Site Builder Pro here: http://www.onewebhosting.com/movies.php

Below are just some of the changes we’ve made:

  • New generation designs in line with the latest design trends
  • Advanced Template search functionality
  • Attractive image effects in main & sub Title
  • Navigations now support more than 15 characters
  • Totally revamped WYSIWYG editor
  • Preview option on editor page for quick and faster preview
  • Simple and advanced image replacement option
  • Ease of use and performance enhancements

Three Tips to Juice up Your Personal Branding

In 1997, when Tom Peters coined the term “personal branding,” few had any idea of exactly what it called for and how to achieve it. Today, personal branding has become the standard for career development and a necessary part of how we communicate with others online.

Blogs and social networks only add to concerns—and opportunities—for our brands. We now have “personal e-branding”; that is, we have to take who we are in reality and compose an Internet version of it, without losing authenticity. That transparent nature of our brands allows for open dialog among peers, including admitting mistakes and communicating a clear opinion on where we stand on various topics.

As we market ourselves as brand over the Internet, we must be conscious of how we present ourselves and how people perceive us. Due to the nature of the Internet, most people have neglected “small things” that could actually help propel our brands to superstardom.

What may go unnoticed by some, will turn into a competitive advantage for others.

Tip 1: Name and Topic Associations

If you want to be known for a specific topic, then people have to be able to connect your name to it. Every time they see your name, the topic should surface in their minds. Likewise, every time they hear your topic, your name should come to mind.

But how do you accomplish this?

First, pick a domain name that is either YourName.com or YourTopic.com.

Second, take the title tag of your Web site that aligns with this domain, and put the topic and then your name: “Your Name—Your Topic.” That way when your site is crawled and ranked in Google, it will start the association.

Third, use your name and topic in the keyword meta tags for your site.

Tip 2: The Consistent Brand

From your avatar to your picture, your blog, your social network profiles, and even your writing, you need a consistent brand as it appears everywhere on the Web.

Way too many people fail at consistency because they rush into promoting their e-brand without first planning their strategies. All of your “main” pictures should be the same; that is, use the same graphic (headshot) for all of them. This includes your avatar (LinkedIn/MyBlogLog, etc.), your Facebook picture, and the image you have on your blog or personal Web site.

If you are young and trying to be successful, but you use different pictures, people will tune out or forget who you are and so fail to make the necessary associations. If you are already a name brand, such as Donald Trump, you can get away with picture inconsistency.

And when writing, remember that your tagline, name, picture, and bio should be as consistent as possible, if not identical, as you establish your own blog, guest-post for other blogs, write for online resources, and display your profile on various social networks.

If you’re promoting your brand through multiple social networks, you need to retain and reuse the same interests, work experience, education, and status fields. If you don’t, your viewer will be confused and you won’t be remembered.

Tip 3: The Social Network Sheriff

TechCrunch has highlighted over 2,000 companies in its crunchbase.com database, and about 80% of them are social networks.

Some 3-5 social networks are announced each day, and people keep joining them. I’m quite worried that people are making a serious personal-branding mistake by registering for all of these networks.

Issues that arise:

Maintenance — If you register for every social network, how are you ever going to maintain your presence on each one? What if you switch jobs or decide you don’t like a certain hobby any more as you age? As the number of social networks that you register for increases, so does the time you need to spend updating each one.

Personal information — By registering for all social networks, you are giving your information to many Web sites. Typical registrations consist of your email, name, user name, password, and more. Why would you want everyone to have this info? It is a way to open up privacy and identity-theft issues.

Your checklist:

Volume: A social network is only as strong as the number of people who are a part of it. Think about it: If a message board has no messages or a blog has no comments—if there is no one to interact with on a social network—why join? If people in your location aren’t using it, then it makes no sense to join.

Credibility: So the social network has a million users; that’s great. What if the million users are people who have nothing to contribute? There is no point in being part of something that can’t serve as a support system and resource for your personal brand. If the people on the network aren’t credible, then you won’t get anything out of it. To me, LinkedIn is the most credible social network on the planet right now because it contains profiles of Fortune 500 executives and leading entrepreneurs.

Relevancy: Totspot.com is a social network for mothers and their babies. If you are a single male who attends college, this network certainly isn’t for you. It’s a waste of your time and others’ if you sign up for every social network but have no conversation common denominator.

What goes unnoticed by many can be an advantage for the few. By taking the step to not only build a personal brand but also seek new ways to get your name out there, you will be more successful.

When people become busy, they tend to lose sight of what they are actually doing and how they are being perceived by the public. So consider the “small things,” which can quickly amount to “big things.”

Websites to increase your personal branding:

http://www.crunchbase.com - CrunchBase is the free database of companies, people, and investors that anyone can edit.

- Facebook is the most popular social network. More and more people are using it to network with friends, family and potential clients

- Linkedin is a popular business networking service. It’s free and allows you to exchange information, ideas and network with others.

Written by Dan Schawbel who publishes Personal Branding Magazine (www.personalbrandingmag.com) and blogs at the Personal Branding Blog (www.personalbrandingblog.wordpress.com). His upcoming book is called Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, Spring 2009).

What is MarketingProfs?
MarketingProfs is a great resource for how-to marketing articles and advice for small businesses. For more information, go to http://www.MarketingProfs.com

Benefit from the Ascendancy of Microsoft Bing

Microsoft’s latest foray in to search engines is getting a lot of attention.

In fact, Bing has received great reviews and could potentially challenge Google’s dominance.

In this tip, we discuss how you can take advantage of Bing’s popularity and make sure your website is listed on Bing.

Online web statistics companies show that Microsoft’s Bing search engine is slowly increasing it’s market share, possibly challenging the dominant search engine, Google.

In fact, with just about 2 weeks after it launched, it has surpassed Yahoo! for the #2 spot. Bing is also poised to gain market share as Windows 7 comes out this fall.

So, what can you do to take advantage of this? We have some basic tips you can use below to take advantage of the rise of Bing:

1. Realize that Google is not the only game in town

Often times, and it’s understandable until now, the focus is just on Google. Realize that Bing’s popularity will continue to increase and should be on your radar in terms of online search engines to target.

2. Mind your links

Bing will give more weight to internal links. Google values external links more. Make sure all your internal links, links that link to other pages within your website, are working properly. You can also create new and updated internal links to help Bing re-index your site and better rank you for your industry’s key words.

3. Make sure you’re listed on Bing.com

If you have not yet done so, make sure your website is listed on Bing.com. Here is a direct Add URL link: http://www.bing.com/docs/submit.aspx

Microsoft’s Bing is Increasing in Popularity:

Top 10 Language Pitfalls and Top 10 Power Words

You already know that certain words are automatic spam-filter traps in email marketing, but if you’re reading this you probably aren’t using any of the worst offenders, such as obscenities or pornographic lingo.

Nonetheless, your email marketing messages can benefit from a thorough edit to ensure both the avoidance of anti-spam filters and, even more importantly, the inclusion of the most powerful words in direct response.

First, though, examine how you and your colleagues speak about email marketing and describe it as a practice to those outside your world.

For example, how often have you heard (or even said) an email “blast” was being sent? I don’t know about you, but to me “blast” doesn’t have a positive connotation. I don’t wish to be “blasted” with anything (well, maybe $1,000 bills would be OK), including email “blasted” to my inbox, and I’d venture to guess that your customers and list members feel the same.

When we as practitioners of email marketing become more aware of how the words we use to describe our craft are perceived in the outside world, we can see “blast” is a dirty word. Instead, you might say “broadcast,” “announcement,” “send,” or “campaign” after the word email to describe your message deployment. But, please, no more blasting.

Furthermore, despite the Email Experience Council’s efforts, we still don’t have unilateral agreement on how to spell the word “e-mail.” The official AP style guide, dictionaries, and journalists continue to insist on the hyphen between “e” and “mail.” Most everyone else has already dropped it. Chances are, the word will follow the previous evolutionary pattern of “on-line,” “jell-o,” and “e-commerce.”

Those and other factors aside (such as no agreed-upon definition of spam), the words used within your email messages can make or break your campaigns.

Adhere to these Letterman Show-style Top Ten Lists—the first for language pitfalls and the second for power words—to ensure successful delivery, avoid complaints, and improve response:

Top Ten Language Pitfalls in Email Marketing Messages

10. Typos and misspellings due to poor editing

There really is no excuse.

9. Subject lines in ALL CAPS

Writing in all capital letters online is the equivalent of shouting. You would never scream at your customers or prospects in person, so don’t do so virtually, either. If you must, capitalize a single power word within your subject line and leave it at that.

8. Use of punctuation marks and numbers within the subject line

If absolutely necessary, use only functional punctuation such as a hyphen or colon. Do not put phone numbers in your subject line—ever!

7. ALL CAPS within the message body

Remember, no need to shout. Use other creative means such as color, different font, or buttons/banners/backgrounds for emphasis if there is an explanation, offer, or condition not to be missed.

6. Excessive or unnecessary Power Word repetition; especially of power word #1

See below.

5. Copy written in passive rather than active voice

We need to get to the point quickly in email. Front-load sentences and paragraphs with action verbs and eye-catching benefits.

4. False or inflated sense of urgency

The very nature of email implies expediency, immediacy. Pushing recipients to respond by intentionally creating an environment of panic or scarcity usually doesn’t provide an incremental lift in response. In fact, it can be a real turn off. Your audience is already in a mindset to quickly access and process email messages. Nudge, don’t shove. Subtly mention deadlines or expiration dates when necessary or legally required, and if in doubt, test.

3. Vague calls-to-action

“Click here” or “visit our Web site” are too general; they don’t reinforce the subject of your message or your offer. Nor do they instill confidence in where a responder will land. Be specific, such as “download your free white paper” or “see the movie preview” instead.

2. Exaggerated Modifiers

Like “Amazing,” “Revolutionary,” “Great,” “All New,” (when just “new” would suffice) and even “Special” and “Important,” especially when used in the subject line, can land your email in the junk folder. Hype is a hallmark of spam and is unnecessary when your messages are targeted and relevant. Assuming they are (targeted and relevant), they will already be perceived as important, special, or great. Why state the obvious?

And the number-one pitfall:

1. Including the word “spam” in your message (such as “this is not spam”)

The very existence of written justification that your email is ethical calls its legitimacy into question. I can’t think of a more self-defeating proposition than stating your message is NOT what you fear it will be.

Now for the good news.

Top Ten Power Words

Here are the top ten power words for your email advertising and communications:

10. New

Appeals to our basic human curiosity to seek novelty.

9. Save

We all love a bargain.

8. Safety

Connotes reliability; appeals to basic human needs.

7. Proven

Justifies your claim, removes fear of the unknown.

6. Love

An all-time favorite.

5. Guarantee

If you have one, state it. It iron-clads your offer.

4. Immediate (Now, or Instant)

Instant gratification is the expectation online. If it can’t be found, completed, or received almost immediately, you’re offer is in the wrong channel.

3. Results

Provides rationalization for instant conversion.

2. You

Remember WIIFM? Your audience wants to hear about what’s in it for them, not you. Articulate your benefits in personal, conversational terms.

And the number one Power Word:

1. Free

Surprised? Probably not. Because this is the time-honored, most potent motivator in direct response, be particularly vigilant of overuse. Just a dash’ll do. Strive to optimize placement, and test if necessary.

When it comes to power words, less is more. Use them sparingly and strategically. Avoid clichés and lethal combinations (Proven Results, Free Love) as well as inflated modifiers before or after. Power words are just that—powerful—all on their own.

Written by Karen Talavera. President and founder of Synchronicity Marketing (www.synchronicitymarketing.com), an email marketing expert, and social media enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter @KarenTalvera or, for digitial marketing tips only, @SyncMarketing.

What is MarketingProfs?
MarketingProfs is a great resource for how-to marketing articles and advice for small businesses. For more information, go to http://www.MarketingProfs.com

How to Configure Your Email on iPhone

iPhones are becoming more common with our customers. Checking email on your iPhone is quick and easy.

We have created a how-to movie that shows you how to configure your domain-based email on your iPhone.

How to Configure Email on iPhone:

How to Use Paypal on Your Website

Looking to add a simple payment option to your website, but don’t need a full shopping cart? Paypal may be the perfect solution.

Adding a Paypal “buy now” button to your website is quick and easy.

We have created a movie to show you how you can add this to your website.

How to Add Paypal To Your Website:

Web Application Vault Upgraded

We have recently upgraded our Application Vault with a ton of new applications.

Maximize your website with our Application Vault, a collection of easy-to-install applications that make adding improved functionality to your web site a snap!

Our Application Vault is located on your hosting control panel and allows you to install applications on your website with a few mouse clicks.

Easily Install Website Applications with Application Vault:

New Web Application Vault

Some of the application categories include:

  • Blogging
  • E-Commerce
  • eLearning
  • Forum
  • Calendaring
  • Collaboration
  • Gallery
  • Guestbook
  • and much more…

Our Application Vault is FREE and included on all accounts.

To see how easy it is to add an application to your website, we’ve created a how-to movie below.

How to use the Application Vault:

Power-Writing for the Web: 10 Golden Rules

What’s the most common thing visitors do on your web site?

Okay, so some of you might offer more…uh…visual adult entertainment. But for the majority of us, our visitors come to our sites seeking information. Simply, most come to do one thing: read.

But so often, the value placed on the site’s words isn’t commensurate with the value we place on, for example, its cool design.

At least, that’s the view of content guru Gerry McGovern, who says that “the ability to create and publish quality content is a critical skill in the information economy.”

Speaking at a San Francisco conference last month on web site usability, Gerry laid out his prescription for the twelve golden rules of writing powerful content that will pull readers or customers into your site. I’ve condensed them here for you to ten. (Yep…I’m always an editor!)

1. Know your reader. Don’t think of your “audience” as a faceless customer base. Gear your content to a particular person you think best represents the face of the people who use your site. Maybe he’s a 72-year-old retiree who is fond of cruise line vacations. Whatever. Write to HIM.

2. Develop a style and tone. Develop a voice that speaks to that individual. Be sure that your site writers and copywriters adhere consistently to that style and tone. Develop tools to help: invest the time and energy to pull together a style guide and word and phrase glossary. Otherwise, your style and tone comes across as flat as the beer at a college keg party.

3. Understand legal and copyright issues. If you outsource any writing on your site to freelancers, have a clear understanding of copyright and fair use laws. For example, will writers producing articles for your site maintain ownership of the piece, or would you prefer to buy their words for your own exclusive use? There are many shades of gray <www.publaw.com> in between those two extremes.

4. Size does matter. In web writing, shorter is actually better. The “word count” feature on your tool bar should become one of your most intimate friends. Readers online are impatient; it’s difficult to read documents on a screen that run longer than 500-700 words. This rule doesn’t apply only to text. Think short headers (4 to 8 words), short article summaries (30-50 words), short sentences (15-20 words), and short paragraphs (40-70 words). Really. It. Works.

5. Be direct and compelling. Remember Faulkner’s words: “Kill your darlings.” Those pieces of text on your site that are so well-crafted they bring tears to your eyes should be your first target: Strike them out. Really. Stick a stake straight through their beautiful hearts. As coarse and unlovely as you view them, practical bullet points and straight-to-the-matter text are what you want.

6. Titles are critical. Headings on the web are even more critical than they are in print. They should be short, of course, but also descriptive. Think keywords and search engines. Tempting as it may be, avoid clever headlines: Save your creativity and double-entendres for the subheads.

7. Summaries should - guess what! — summarize. Many of your so-called readers are actually scanners. Scanners impatiently look for the good stuff they need, so be sure that any summary truly offers the essence of a longer piece…and entices the reader to read on. An accurate summary is also critical for top search engine results and for other web sites that might want to link to yours.

8. Write for searchers. Throw plenty of relevant keywords into your headlines and summaries. Google will love you for it. And like all solid love, it’ll be returned in spades.

9. Create web documents. Okay, so there are those times when a longer piece of text really is necessary. You just have too much to say to cram into 700 words. In that case, you have two options: Publish it as an Adobe PDF file, or write a punchy summary in HTML that links to a whole ‘nuther web page. Break up that lengthy document in any way you can: Pull out quotes in a larger font size, use sub-headings within the text, break out interesting sidebars, or use hypertext links to break up blocks of text.

10. Edit, edit, edit! Get that first draft out. And then get out your chainsaw and slice it neatly in half. After that, produce your choicest set of editorial surgical tools and precisely cut and remove excessive words and verbose prose. Be your own editor, before your readers take a look at it. It’s less painful to criticize yourself than to hear it from others.

Really. I should know.

Written by Ann Handley, the chief content officer of MarketingProfs (www.marketingprofs.com). She writes for the MarketingProfs Daily Fix (www.mpdailyfix.com) and authors her own blog, Annarchy (www.annhandley.com).

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