how to secure your website and prevent a major hack. The 5 simple steps you can implement today…


Do you worry about having your website hacked? Does this keep you from either getting your first website or even keep you worried that it might happen some time in the future? This article will cover some of the issues associated with this, including:

  • What happens when you are hacked?
  • How to prevent your site from getting hacked
  • What to do once you’ve been hacked

First off what is hacking anyhow? This is simply when someone gains unauthorized access to your website. They may then choose to copy some information from your website, put up information in your website that shouldn’t be there, delete your entire website or redirect people from your website to another website.

So how do you prevent this from happening to you? More particularly how can you as a normal end user keep your site secure?

Your Internal Staff & Website Security Protocols

Often times your internal users pose the biggest threat to your own website. If you’ve been to any cyber then you have probably found a computer that the previous user forgot to logout, or maybe there was a power outage and the person left, unaware they were still logged in.

  • The same is true of your website, your staff will have to be extra careful not to leave the website accessible. Some of the things you can do is make sure they access the website from designated computers that have been secured with good antivirus software.
  • Secondly if you encounter power outages or the computer is often used by many people including those not authorized to access your website – then have them login in private mode through your browser. that way your active session isn’t saved.
  • Additionally if your computer is also accessible by other people don’t save your password in the browser.
  • Finally when assigning each user an account – please make sure they set strong passwords that will probably have capital, small letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Finally keep changing your password to keep them guessing.

you should have internal processes to deal with your own people who may have access to your website.

You also want to ensure that you have put in place good systems or processes for dealing with your staff when it comes to your technology. If you have a disgruntled staff member you will want to quickly login into your website and deactivate their login credentials. This also means that within your organization you will want to be at the “admin level” in your website and have everyone else below that level to prevent massive damage to your website.

keeping your website systems up to date for that added website security

Like other software your website runs on a system that also needs to be upgraded constantly – the reason for this is that not only does the latest upgrade have new features that give your website more power but they also have security fixes for loopholes that have just been discovered. So not keeping your website’s system up to date means you are taking risks that can be easily avoided. Most updates are usually released once or twice a month.

Build extra layers of security into your website

Finally if you’ve taken the initial measures mentioned above you can add extra layers of security to your website by using:

  • Security plugins – these act like an antivirus software for your website, if you are on WordPress you could add utilities like Better WP Security and Bulletproof Security.
  • Purchasing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate (on Google or Facebook you see https://www.google.com). This provides an encrypted link between your website and visitors thus ensuring that any sensitive information being sent over remains private.
  • Rent a cloud based web application firewall.

backup your website regularly

Finally you’ll want to keep your website backed up regularly, if you are too busy to do this have your developer to it for you. If you update your site a few times per month then a weekly backup is okay. If its more active then a daily backup is the best. Remember you only know the value of your backups when you have lost your content and need to get back online as fast as possible.

Next time I will cover what to do once your site has been hacked.

 

Why Nurture Your Marketing Database?


In a previous article we looked at how we setup our marketing database, and how to segment the database into your various target categories. Now you might be wondering, “why do we need to nurture our database anyway? Why not just spend more money on advertising and sales people?” Well the simple answer to that is simply ‘cost’. It costs 5 to 25 times more to attract a new client than to keep an existing one, additionally it costs way more to go after a new client than to convert a prospect that you had already contacted in the past. Most marketing is simply continuously and consistently touching your prospects over and over again until they are ready. To truly understand why we nurture our database we need to understand the mind-space that different people are in. The main advantages to nurturing our database are:

1. Those not ready now

Most people that you approach will often not be ready at that very moment. In fact in an entire market only 3% are buying your particular good or service at any particular time. So what happens to all those other people that you reached out to who aren’t interested at that moment? Most people ignore these people until the next time they remember if at all to contact them. The advantage of staying in touch here is obvious in that you now get the opportunity to be in-front of them when they are finally ready. Remember not now doesn’t mean – not ever.

2. Cost of sales and advertising is higher

Whether you choose to advertise on print, web, billboards or a sales-force, there’s a cost involved thats often higher than the cost of re-marketing to your existing database of contacts using a mass direct marketing option. Simply put if you are spending x amount per month to generate y revenues then database marketing should help you generate 25 – 50% more sales without spending more money on your core lead source.

3. Stay Top of Mind

It’s said that it takes 12 touches before someone becomes a client, if we take this as our premise, we find that that most of us will only contact most people 2 or 3 times before we give up and move on. However imagine where you would be if you simply persisted in staying in front of them. If we look at all huge companies and brands we notice that they are always marketing and always staying in top of mind even when you’ve become numb to their messages. 

4. One trick pony

If you are using mainly print ads to drum up your core sales / enrollment numbers then adding other channels and database marketing allows you to have more ways to stay in touch without quickly fatiguing the audience. Note that if you are doing your job right fatigue always sets in, some leave your database, more join and more buy or enroll. Whatever happens consistency  and diversity in media is key.

5. Educate, Gain trust, Establish expert positioning

Probably the best thing that good database marketing does is build your positioning in the market as an expert in your craft. Since good database marketing uses mainly content and articles that serve to educate and showcase your actual works, it comes off as less marketing and more educational. This helps you gain the trust of the cold prospect you just talked to and who just said “not now”, they start to see that you a professional in your line of work and soon they start to warm-up and trust you as they see the results you are producing for other people over time. If your messaging is on point and in sync with what they are looking for, then when an opening comes up they will definitely consider you.

How To Select The Right Font For your Website


When designing your website, you might have wondered, “what font should we use? or do we just stick to basic – arial?” The right font depends on several factors such as your branding and the consistency you want to establish in keeping with your image. Additionally you also want to consider the message that you’ll be conveying for instance – stable, strong, sophisticated, elegant, gentle, ‘techy’, playful and so on. We also want to ensure that our font is going to be readable all while conveying the message that we want it to convey.

Understanding the psychology behind the right font

In order to understand the message and the feeling that we want to convey we have to understand the psychology behind fonts. Check out the infographic below to understand this.

Source: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/psychology-of-fonts-infographic/

Limitations to fonts on the web vs your computer

Contrary to what you might think, you can’t necessarily use all the fonts that you find on your computer on the web as well. Additionally while the fonts on a particular website will render properly on your screen – it might render differently for someone with an older computer, so what they will be seeing isn’t exactly what you are seeing on your end. To help mitigate this we use font stacking, meaning the client computer will be given the option of using the recommended font and if the computer doesn’t have that font installed, it falls back on the second font and  then the third which will tend to be the most basic font.

Probably the easiest way to add your font to the website is through Google Fonts. The only limitation of Google Fonts is that you might not necessarily find that super unique font you want to use, however you can always to try to find a font similar to what you’d wanted to use.

If you have a very particular font that must work and which isn’t available on Google Fonts then the best option would be to buy/download the font then upload it to your site and directly link to it on your website. Whichever method you choose to use, at the end of the day the goal is to ensure you convey the right message and feeling to your website visitors.

Learn How To Setup A Marketing Database That Works


Often after launching a website I’m often asked, “how can we use the website in our marketing more effectively?” Often the easiest solution is to help them see results right away is by tapping into their database. This can leave many people confused since database here simply means their marketing database comprising of all their contacts.

So how do you build your marketing database?

First off your marketing database is simply put, your contacts, organized in a way that’s easy to access. For instance your phone has a database of contacts and your Rolodex which holds business cards from other people is also a database albeit paper based. An advanced way of storing your contacts would be using a CRM System which would also be your database.

I like to call this time data time where you get to take care of your most valuable business asset – your database

For our marketing database however the easiest way to store or move our contacts between different systems is by using a simple excel sheet. Our excel sheet would end up of these primary columns: Name, Email and phone. Additional fields that can be included would be Location & Postal Address, these initial fields will be the basis for our entire database.

So how do you find the contacts for the database?

The easiest way to build up the database is simply to simply collate your contacts from your other sources. You can simply type up the names from your Rolodex, Business cards, Visitor books and physical paper records. Your contacts on LinkedIn, Gmail, your CRM and your Email account can also be easily exported in csv format which can be easily added into the excel sheet. Contacts on your Facebook account can also be exported through a work around process.

Additionally if you are able to acquire a targeted list for your products or services consisting of your most ideal potential partners or clients then this list will also become part of your database.

Segmenting the database

Once we have collated our database with all these people we need to make sure that it’s properly segmented. We can segment by creating an extra column(s) on the excel sheet. The advantage of having the extra column over multiple worksheets or excel docs is that it will ease the management of the database and ease the process of moving the contacts between different systems during marketing campaigns latter on.

Our Worksheet can now be segmented depending on the source of the contact for instance *Trade show *Walk-in *Referral *Cold Meet and so on. Additionally the contacts can be segmented by type for instance *Prospect *Client *Past Customer etc The contact could also be segmented by Vertical if it’s a business contact for instance *Medical *Technology *Government *Medical and so on.

The reason for segmenting the list as we’ll see latter on is to be able to craft specific messages and offers to the different segments as well as to be able to ignore a particular segment that should receive a particular message for instance a message only meant for clients and no one else.

How to keep the database growing / how to manage the database

Now that we have our database in place, the next step would be to simply schedule a time each week where we can update the latest new contacts into the database. I like to call this time data time where you get to take care of your most valuable business asset – your database.

how to use your website to shorten your enrollment / sales cycle


however most of us have also ended up with too many people who were taking too long to enroll or “think about it”. If you are like me then you may have realized that while these people were for the most part eventually enrolling into your organization or buying your products or services, they were also taking too long to do this.

We have all at one time or another found ourselves with many people interested and inquiring about our organization or the services we offer, however most of us have also ended up with too many people who were taking too long to enroll or “think about it”. If you are like me then you may have realized that while these people were for the most part eventually enrolling into your organization or buying your products or services, they were however taking too long to do this.

The problem with this is obvious if you are new in the area or if you are introducing a new package or service to your community. First off the longer you take to find new users the more you increase your chances of failure either from giving up on the idea that you feel isn’t working or from the encroaching expenses.

1st off – understanding your enrollment / sales process

The sales process is the series of steps you take to enroll a new parent, patient or client into your organization. Contrary to what many people think enrolling a new person isn’t based on luck but is a process just like in a manufacturing plant. For instance your sales process might start from an advertisement in the newspaper that leads to getting an inquiry where you then convince the led to come in for a consultation or visit where you then sign them up.

Now what if, this person is still not ready to come in? Or after they come in they are still not ready to go with you? Do you throw them away and forget about them?

Integrating your website into your sales process

1. Pre-Sell them on why you are the best option compared to other options that they have available

Lets say you first got your initial lead or inquiry, then right after your first phone conversation your goal should be to try and direct this person to your website so they can find out more about you, see how you are unique compared to other people & most importantly for you, to help you determine if they are a good fit for you. This is especially important since you don’t want to meet with everybody who claims they are interested. If you have served other people in the past then you would know that not all customers are equal and that there are those you would rather not take on due to either the stress they might inflict on you or simply because they might not be able to afford and end up negotiating too much and devaluing the service you provide. Your website should thus serve to position you the right way while also building rapport and trust with them.

2. Post selling them after your appointment

If you finally met with the interested person then the next step whether or not they enrolled or didn’t is to followup with them right away, this has 2 effects:

  1. If they just enrolled then it helps reduce the buyer remorse that they might feel latter on by reminding them the reasons they chose you in the first place.
  2. If they didn’t enroll the extra ‘touch’ could be just what they needed to tip them over.

Needless to say the structure of what to say, when to say it and what medium to use to say it, is also very critical.

3. Keep nurturing them till ready or next time

Even if you fail to turn them around with your communication from step 2, you then launch into your ongoing nurture program where you take these leads and keep staying in communication with them till they get ready or even if they went with a competitor you still want to remain in their radar in case something changes.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for most organizations will be in categorizing the various leads, past clients and general contacts that they have dealt with into different buckets and then deciding on the most relevant content to drip on each category.

An important thing to note here is that your website should always be the hub of all your communication & content.

 

9 Steps to Building an Amazing Website For Your Organization


1. Strategy

The first part to building your brand online is understanding that your website will be the central hub for your organization. The second thing is to also understand what the purpose of your website will be. It maybe that you have a website and you have 20 other micro sites / landing pages that you are using as independent sites to market specific products. If this happens to be your primary website then your web designer should help you gain some clarity on your unique selling proposition, your key call to action, and then this will help you determine how you want visitors to progress or move through your website. Depending on the overall strategy you will be able to see what you will need to have in place.

2. Designing A Website You’ll Be Proud To Show Your Partners

When it comes to the website design itself – an easy thing most people do is simply check-out their competition and decide how they want theirs to look like. While this is a good approach you don’t have to limit yourself to only your industry. If you have no specific preference you can have your designer show you several samples after interviewing you and getting to understand your organization and your marketing positioning.

3. Ensure you are Fully Accessible On Phones & Tablets

Since most people accessing websites today are doing so from mobile devices, then you will want to ensure that your website is able to “fit” in these devices by getting a mobile version of your website or making the website responsive – meaning its able to adjust based on the device.

4. Drive More People To Your Website

If you are more serous about trying to drive more people or traffic to your website through google search without having to pay Google for advertising, then integrating a news or blogging or Sermons (for churches) system is the way to go. The news system will also ensure your website stays current and provide something new for a returning visitor to see.

5. Keep Your Partners Up To Date With The Latest News & Offers

If you want to engage with your clients even more – then you may wish setup your email newsletter system. If you already have one in place you may also want to ensure the email that goes out is designed and customized with your letter head, layout and colors that match the the feel of your website.

6. Promote Solutions / Events To Everyone Passing Through Your Website

Sometimes you may wish to Promote an Event, a particular Program, a Class, a new Product or a Solution. Or you may simply be promoting your new Lead Capture page.

Since many people visit your website from your Facebook posts, email marketing, google search etc, and most of these people will ‘enter’ your website through some other page other than the homepage. so in order to ensure that everyone coming into the site will see your latest event or promotion you use Banners / sliders placed at specific vantage points around the website.

7. Achieve Branding Consistency Across Your Social Media Pages

If you have are are looking to quickly open your Facebook, You tube, Twitter, Google+ or Twitter Accounts then you might also wish to have it properly branded and showing a customized message instead of simply putting up your photo.

You might want to help people who are visiting your page to find your contacts easily or checkout your latest offer right when they land on that page – usually the cover photo is the first see they see, so maximize that space by communicating something of value.

You may also use that space to drive them to your website – where they learn properly about you. or you can “point” them to a particular landing page on Facebook for capturing leads etc.

8. Setup any other special back end systems

Like your Portfolio management systems to have a special area where you showcase your work, Testimonials management systems – to build credibility and trust when a person first visits your website etc.

9. Launch, Manage & Promote

Finally you want to launch your new website, continue to update the content with a simple easy to use system & most importantly send out a few engaging emails linking back to the latest stories or updates on your News section and with your banners promoting your latest event or offer. Thus leading to more visibility & inquiries from web visitors and past clients alike.

The 3 Biggest Mindsets Slowing You Down In Your Marketing


As we continue into this year, one of the things that we’ve noticed with most business owners is that while we are all passionate about our work we tend to live on that false adage of  ‘if you build it the clients will come’. Funny truth is that our sales numbers don’t lie 90 days after we slow down our marketing campaigns.

But what really causes us to relax our foot off the marketing gas? Why do we proudly sit back and proclaim we are the best and that our ideal customers will find us somewhat miraculously?

‘ I am not yet ready and it still doesn’t look good; nor does it have the perfect shine …’

This can be a particularly stiffling mindset; you might be delaying the launch date for example. At the same time you might not quite have the budget to do that perfect marketing campaign. So should you wait? Remember that delays cause one to waste so much time and the best option would be running with the simplest solution.

This and the idea that the best marketing automation software at the time (Infusionsoft) was was quite pricey for me led me to wasting several months instead of just running with the and most direct & simplest solution.

For instance there was a time I needed to implement a little marketing automation mix into my marketing and based on research, most digital marketers recommended all these perfect marketing funnels that you could use to drive different prospects through. For instance if this was a new lead they would receive a series of very particular messages over a certain period then if they became a likely client for a particular service they would be put on a different sequence. This and the idea that the best marketing automation software at the time (Infusionsoft) was was quite pricey for me led me to wasting several months instead of just running with the and most direct & simplest solution.

 

‘What will people think if we execute that aggressive campaign?’

This problem is especially faced by the older entrepreneur who has been in business for a while and is now trying to break into a new field or who has experienced a setback and is trying to bounce back.

The problem they face is probably more mental; of trying to appear like they don’t really need to be marketing. Often this leads to a weak marketing copy and web copy that often doesn’t speak to you nor does it convince the customers to buy/enroll or hire you. But instead it is more focused on the branding type marketing versus direct response marketing.

‘This is a lot of work; I am too busy to Prepare the campaigns needed right now.’

Do you believe that it takes too long to prepare and work on this project? The more you think about it the more you want to avoid it. You delegate it to another staffer and hate the final result yet you still don’t want to deal with it. Finally when you do sit down to deal with it, you do it in 30 minutes and you then wonder why you procrastinated the project for so long!

Whatever is holding us back is often a particular mindset. With the right mindset however we are able to take the right action faster and achieve our results sooner than latter. 

 

How To Use Your Testimonials & Reviews To Turn Doubtful Prospects Into Long-term Clients


We’ve generally heard testimonials from open air preachers, tv commercials of the woman who used a particular detergent and it cleared some tough stains and even from friends who’ve used certain recipees that really turned around their meals. Most small and medium sized organizations will however shy away from using testimonials mainly because they aren’t aware of their power over their marketing and the effect it can leverage on your word of mouth and referral marketing.

The best testimonials are those that will explain in emotional detail the pains that the person went through in such detail so much so that other people who are going the same problem will be able to identify with that exact problem and mentally proclaim “hey that’s me”.

Most of us have had raving customers who have experienced our wonderful service and most of these happy customers will often tell their friends when they start looking for your particular service. Unfortunately most of these people also have a finite number of people in their network that they might tell, for instance they might only tell 10 people of your wonderful service or even that they simply know someone that they trust in your line of work. This is where officially gathering the testimonials works. A simple example for instance is where a church has had miracles in the past and the testimonies from those healed and so on are gathered and printed out as a small booklet or magazine which is then given to hundreds of potential believers – this little pamplet is then able to amplify your testiminial which may have been proclaimed once but is now being repeated everytime a person reads this.

Now imagine being able to do this for your school, church, ngo or company? In fact it’s already being done – people on social media are already mentioning you & your service whether in a good way or a bad way – but getting in control of the process will definately help you control the narrative and  amplify your marketing results.

So which testimonials work

The best testimonials are those that will explain in emotional detail the pains that the person went through in such detail so much so that other people who are going the same problem will be able to identify with that exact problem and mentally proclaim “hey that’s me”.

To be able to however elicit this reaction from the most number of people you will need to realize that our audience will also consist of different categories of people each with different problems – however the overal categories may be only three. For instance your church members might have people who are looking to resolve their “Lack of love”, “Lack of a job” and a “Lack of spiritual fulfilment” . What this means is that your testimonials will then follow a certain vein covering the three topic categories.

For instance your first testimonial may be “how i saved my marriage” the second maybe “how I got a job” and the third maybe “how I found a husband despite being blind” note that the third is covered under the first topic category but the title is still unique unto itself. This way you can now use 20 testimonials each unique but all covered under your 3 key topic categories.

If your testimonial can get them to that point, then you will have them ready to listen to the next part of the testimonial which is ‘What I did’ – that ties to you and your organization.

Another way to pick the testimonial categories is to simply look at what objections you might be getting during your selling process. for instance they keep saying that you might leave their project halfway through and not deliver – your tesimonial would therefore run alon gthe lines of – “I had doubts that he could deliver, but I gave him a shot and he surprised me with the end result.”

As you cab see testimonials dispel doublts, they speed up the sales process and also reveal problems people didnt even realize they had. Knowing  what you now know how do you then go about the process of collecting these testimonials? I’ll be sure to cover this in a future article.

The truth about the cost of websites


Many people looking to get a website will often be confused with why there is such a variance in the cost of websites. They will initially encounter web designers who propose to get their entire websites done for as little as 10k, all the way to several hundreds of thousands and often they won’t understand why this is so.

So how can you ensure that you get value for your money, avoid being duped and and eventually get a sucky website? There are 3 key factors that play a role in the pricing of websites:

1. Skill level of the web designer

It goes without saying that once you’ve found a web designer you will checkout their portfolio and make sure you like their works and design style. additionally you will want to checkout how long they’ve been doing this for and how many projects they’ve handled. Also are they really a web designer or a broker?

What you will find is that the longer their experience and the more projects they’ve handled the more likely they are to be more stable and are in this for the long-term and that this is a full time job for them, which is really what you want when you call on them a few years down the line. However with this stability and experience comes a more expensive person since not only are you more certain to get a great looking website based on your original concept but you are also likely to be happy with the overall service.

In addition to what is mentioned above an experienced designer can help you solve some real business problems using the website since they are also involved in their own marketing and sales efforts.

2. Level of service you require

I’ve met people who initially explained to their web designer that all they needed was something “very simple” or “just standard”. Now often they will say this during the initial negotiation phases so that they get the best deal. Additionally while they might get several quotes and then go with the cheapest usually they haven’t communicated the full scope of the project other than the usual standard features. The problem with this is that once the project is underway their very basic project suddenly becomes a high maintenance project with multiple changes and multiple people from the organization and even friends of the client that will start giving them their input and suddenly you start modifying the concept you wanted initially into something else, needless to say this now costs the designer their time and pretty soon (since this was a fixed scope project) they start loosing money and start dragging their heels and looking for their next project elsewhere. The best way to avoid this however is to ensure you know what you really want, look at other websites and get the concept you want then secondly involve your other stake holders during the initial meeting with the designer to ensure they all communicate the ideas they have across during this initial meeting. then finally you can agree on a good price for both you and the designer.

In certain cases you might not have the full scope of the project in mind or you might be representing a board or directors who for some reason don’t want to involve themselves in the creative meetings especially in the beginning. Whenever you have this the best solution as an organization is to simply pay on a per hour basis which will obviously be more expensive but its the cost of being able to execute different ideas from different stakeholders or to get the full scope of the project where a clear one doesn’t exist in the beginning.

Personally I like splitting the project into 4 stages. The 1st where we discuss with all stakeholders and get the concept. The 2nd stage where I produce the initial version of the website then the clients can see the initial design and give their input (again all stake holders present to ensure all ideas are captured). Then a 3rd stage where their changes are implemented and the rest of the website is done. Finally a 4th finetuning stage after the launch for an additional 30 days to iron out any additional issues.

3. Scope of work

Although I left this for last it’s also one of the most important things that will affect the cost of your website. Any experienced web designer has obviously been asked to design a Facebook knockoff with 2 or 3 special features and the real kicker was when they heard how much the person was willing to pay…now you know why some designers throw tantrums especially if they initially agreed to such a project unless it was all just for fun.  

Scope of work for a website project will often involve detailing to the minute level what you want to see at the end of the day and not just some vague generality. It’s often best to open a similar website and point out a specific exact feature if you have one in mind than just mention it verbally in the passing. One of the things that I like to do when scoping out the project during the initial meeting is to not only open specific websites but to also sketch out the website and the different pages based on your concept. What I’ve found is that once everyone is looking at the screen and also once it’s on paper there is a higher level of clarity.

Hopefully this has opened your eyes to understanding the true cost of what goes into a website. If you are looking for more insight or have a few more questions please get in touch with me here.

A Look at 3 Interesting Animated Side Ad Banners


First off, Most of these ad banners were either featured on related websites e.g. small business and tech websites for the tech products and others were mainly re-targeting ads I’d seen based on previous research, this means they didn’t need to provide a lot of descriptive information like for instance explaining what is QuickBooks and what does it do. These appeared on sidebars of other websites, mainly content websites like forbes.com. Most of these we swapped in mid 2016. 

The cleanest of the 3 below is obviously the QuickBooks banner, which highlights both the new offer “40% off” and also the call to action “buy now” since it’s sold online. The Headline they choose to highlight their benefit is also interesting to look at “Easy accounting for SMBs”. Although personally the only reason I would use QuickBooks could be 3 fold:  1.”The most Popular accounting software”  2.”used by over 1,000,000 companies” and 3.”The standard software tool for most accountants, hence lower costs managing your company’s books”. That said, as with all ads, they probably tested their strongest benefits and used the other benefits on the other slides of the animation.

The use of animated banners was obviously powerful in getting noticed quickly on the websites they were advertised on.