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design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Do you know who controls your business’ domain?

June 11th, 2016

Where is your company’s domain registered and when does it expire? If you’re like many executives and managers you have no idea. How do I know? I talk to them all the time.

Here’s a typical scenario: ten years ago your company launched a web site…no one in-house knew where to start so the person who claimed to know how to program their VCR was given the task of registering a domain for the company. This person registered the domain but used their name, address, and hotmail account. What’s more this individual may no longer even be employed by the company, probably could care less, and hopefully is not disgruntled with their former employer.

What would be the consequences to your business if your Website was suddenly gone and all your company email accounts ceased working or now featured a spam site (or worse)? Does this sound crazy? While this scenarios might be on the extreme, you are guaranteed some degree of misery and loss if you let your registration lapse.

If you are not immediately and unquestionably certain where your domain is registered, and more importantly to whom your domain is legally registered, stop everything right now and get it fixed!

Here’s how:

  • Access the Whois public database and enter your domain name. Assuming your domain does not have a private registration, look through the list of information and find the following:
  • Registrant Name: If this is not your name or the company’s name you’re at risk.
  • Admin Name: Do you know this person? Do you trust this person with your entire business? Your domain needs to be registered under a name of a corporate officer, owners or executives—not an employee. All it takes is one disgruntled employee to reek havoc on your business.
  • If you need help registering, renewing, or transferring a domain name please visit https://virsafe.com or call one of our domain registration experts at 480.624.2500.

More information on domain registration:

Email Marketing Best Practices

July 16th, 2015

Have you ever opened your email only to find a long list of uninspired, unappealing, and loud advertisements all screaming at you? What did you do, read them all one-by-one, carefully considering their content and offers? Probably not! More than likely you simply deleted them all before you ever got past the subject line. So does this mean email marketing is dead? Hardly, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective means of marketing to your existing client base if it is done correctly. So what are the best, most effective practices you can take into consideration when launching your own email marketing campaign?

Subject Line

For many people, it begins and ends at the subject line. If it looks like spam or is not interesting and eye-catching, they’re going to delete the entire email without ever opening it. You need to carefully craft a subject line that intrigues your clients and makes them want to read more. It needs to offer value to your target market and be personable, catchy and targeted directly to the reader.

Content

Once you’ve gotten someone to open an email, you have to keep their attention. Make sure that the content of the email provides valuable information, offers, deals or links that the client will want to hear about. But be careful, you don’t want to just blast them with self-promotional messages. Content should help clients fill a need they have in their lives, and should offer them something they’re truly interested in learning about. Make the content intriguing, and make them interested in hearing more. If you give them what they want now, you will be sure to make the sale later, and you don’t have to be pushy about it in the email.

Design

Don’t forget, however, that no matter how great your content is, if it doesn’t look good, your clients will delete it in the blink of an eye. Emails need to utilize the full capabilities of HTML coding, and they should be attractive to look at. The design should also fit in with your overall brand messaging so that it is easily identifiable as yours and yours alone. Professional, modern and uncluttered designs work best for email, so make sure to keep it simple. And don’t forget to make sure that the email works on every email platform, including mobile platforms. It might look good on your desktop, but if a client on an iPhone only sees a jumble of mixed-up images, the message will be lost and you’ve lost your sale.

If you can create a valuable, content-driven email that has great design that works well on all platforms, you will drive interest to your business. Remember that even though email marketing’s end goal is a sale, you don’t want the reader to feel pressured. They should feel like you’re giving them great information they want to hear first. If you get their interest and trust, the sales will come.

Design tells the world who and how relevant we are

July 8th, 2015

A design article entitled Oh, the logo by committee over at the Before & After Website is worth checking out. A few key quotes:

“Design looks easier than it is, and it’s more important than it looks. . . Design is us and it is personal. How something looks tells the world who and how we are.”

“When Steve Jobs started his Next computer company, his first act — before he had a building, before he had employees, before he had a product — was to pay Paul Rand $100,000 to design a logo. And Rand’s black cube gave Next its sleek identity.”

“NBC once paid a designer a million dollars to design an N.”

Read the whole article here.

How to Save Money on Our Web Development & Design Services

November 24th, 2014

Save MoneyIt may seem strange for a Web development company to provide guidelines for how its customers can spend less with us, but really it’s not from our perspective. We believe applying the golden rule not only benefits our customers but also us in the long run. We might make less money in the short term, but we gain the more valuable benefits of building trust with our clients and playing a small part to ensure their long-term success. Such clients will spend more with us over time and become invaluable sources of quality referrals which is how a vast majority of our new business come to us.

So, with that preamble, here are a couple easy ways to reduce your Web development, technical service and graphic design costs:

Maximize the value of each change request

Like almost all Web development and design firms, we have a minimum  charge for any task of one hour . This is due to the fact that to switch to a new client’s project, for even a small amount of work, compromises the efficiency of our day’s work flow and imposes an opportunity cost. We have to transition from another project, retool, login to appropriate accounts, backup data before changes, post changes, often test the changes (for example in different browsers) then communicate back to the client regarding the work.

The key for clients to realize is that once we have initiated a change request, the incremental cost is much lower for us doing other small changes while we’re already working within a client’s account. For example take a client who sends over three Website content change requests during a week. Each change may take 10 minutes of actual coding, but if they send those requests at three different times they would get billed 3 hours. If they save those requests and send them all at once they would only get billed for 1 hour or 66% less.

This strategy of course has the most dramatic effect for small changes that are not extremely urgent, and can most commonly be applied for changes for Website content. So if you find yourself with numerous small changes throughout the month, simply try holding them in an Outlook folder or whatever and sending them in groups.

Save 15% by prepaying

We offer prepaid hours with a 15% discount off our standard rates. There is no minimum quantity, you can use them immediately, they never expire and unused hours are 100% refundable. You can also track your prepaid balance real-time through our online client portal.

Save up to 40% through our retainer plans

For any client who regularly gets at least twenty hours of service from us a month you will save a significant amount of money through our flat-rate retainer. Not only do you receive a substantial discount on the number of hours in your plan, you are also entitled to a discount on additional hours each month if you should need them. Flat-rate retainers are paid in advance of each month. Additional hours are billed at a discounted rate of your hourly retainer rate + 20% and payable net 15. Unused hours in flat rate plans are not refundable nor carried over to the next month. Retainers automatically renew but can be canceled at any time. If you have any questions or would like us to personally review your ongoing service needs and provide recommendations please feel free to contact us by phone at 208.475.3192 or through our online contact form.

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