6 things your small business should do this summer

Well, summer is about half over. Hopefully, everyone is having a great summer so far, taking some time for friends and family as well as some much needed vacation time. We’ve been busy as usual here, so much so that we didn’t have much time this month for a “web” oriented Blog post. Instead, we came across a nice article from USA Today that explains 6 things that small companies should do this summer. An easy read for the lazy (we wish) days of summer…

http://usat.ly/1HAbddh

At your service year round, not just seasonally…  🙂

– The AutoWeb Technologies Team

Choosing the Right Color Palette for your Brand

Sometimes, the color you choose to represent your company’s brand is almost as important the product or service that you sell. There are serious psychological factors that are proven to be a deciding influence for consumers when making a buying decision. When choosing a new color palette for your brand or changing your existing one, you need to consider several factors.

Our friends at Website Magazine recently posted some great data on this topic. They recently posted a color palette and branding infographic that supplies simple to understand facts and data that you can apply to your business right away.

Need help with designing a new logo and color palette?

We’re always here.

-The AutoWeb Technologies Team

 

A New Year’s Business Checkup 2015 – PART ONE

As 2014 comes to a close, we want to wish you and yours all the very best for the upcoming 2015. It’s been a great year here at AutoWeb Technologies and we’re just so fortunate to be able to do what we do here everyday. Thank you again for all you do for us as customers and friends.

At this time each year most people and companies find themselves taking inventory of where they’ve been and where they’d like to go in the coming new year. The great thing about life is that it’s never to late to make personal and professional changes that we’ve been thinking about. Whether it be a living a healthier lifestyle, earning more income, or learning a new skill, the time is never better than the present.

The same can be said for your business. What kind of year did you have? Are you satisfied with your revenue? Did you reach your goals? Is your business growing?

For us, we’re focusing our 2015 on continuing to raise the level of our design work. We like to think of ourselves as a company that can provide premium web site services for a fraction of the cost as well as offering the very best premium Search Engine Optimization plans available anywhere, at any comparable price. We’ll also continue to strive each and every day to remain as compliant as possible with Google’s ever-changing algorithm. Happy web site, happy Google, happy business!

PLUS!!! We’re going to be rolling out a comprehensive, step-by-step, “take you by the hand”, program for helping you have your very best 2015 EVER!!! Stay tuned for Part Two.

So, what are your goals for this upcoming year? Would you like more sales?

Here is a useful checklist you can use to make sure that you’re on track to meet your business goals in 2015:

Sales and Marketing

  • When a lead comes into your business, do you know where it came from?
  • Once a lead arrives, is it tracked and serviced in a way that is prompt and repeatable?
  • Are you measuring return on investment from your lead flow? In other words, do you know what is working and what isn’t in regards to your marketing dollars being spent?
  • Are you building a database of all leads that come into your business and marketing to these leads each and every month to help establish familiarity and trust? Remember, not all in-bound leads will buy from you initially. Groom your leads over time and they may become customers or referrals at some point.


Web Site & Web Marketing

  • Does your web site have an updated, professional appearance that is easy to manage, easy to navigate, and easy for a visitor to take action?
  • Are you updating your web site regularly with new content and/or blog posts?
  • Where do you rank in the search engines with your core group of keywords?
  • Are you being proactive with your SEO and/or PPC to ensure that Google finds your site relevant and boosts your rankings?


Deliverables

  • Is your product or service experience the same each and every time?
  • Do you have established policies and procedures for your employees to work with that are easy to follow and allow them to be successful?
  • Are you delivering on your promises and “WOWING” your customers?
  • Are customers giving you good testimonials and referrals?
  • Does your company have an easy way for customers to communicate product and service support issues, problems, feedback, etc.?
  • What can you do to improve your overall customer service experience?
  • Would you buy from you?


Product and Service Development

  • Are you spending time each week or month keeping up to date on the latest developments in your industry?
  • Do you keep a watchful eye on your competitors to see what they’re doing and how you can learn or improve from them? What are they doing that you shouldn’t do?
  • What do your customers really need and want? Are you developing the products and services that really matter to them?

Taking action on one or more of these items is a big step. It takes time, but remember that there is no time like NOW. Your business, your employees, and most importantly…your customers will thank you for it!

Have a very safe and happy holiday season!!

-The AutoWeb Technologies Team

Google Goes for a Ride

A study by J.D. Power found that in 2012, 47 percent of vehicle owners indicated they used a downloaded app on their smartphone for navigation in their vehicle, compared with 37 percent in 2011. Notably, 46 percent of owners indicate they “definitely would not” or “probably would not” repurchase a factory-installed navigation system if their smartphone navigation could be displayed on a central screen in their vehicle.

Who wants to pay for an old style navigation system when we have smartphones with free map service? And a pricey built-in DVD package when we have hand-held devices to keep passengers (i.e., whining kids) occupied during car trips? Car manufacturers are on the losing end of these advances in technology; they’ve seen the future and they want a piece of it.

In June 2012, BMW, GM, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi, Land Rover, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda teamed up with Apple to incorporate “eyes free” Siri-compatibility into their cars. Using a voice command button on the steering wheel, Siri Eyes Free enables the driver to make and receive calls, select and play music, audibly send and receive text messages, access Maps and get directions, audibly receive notifications, set reminders and more, all without looking away from the road.

This month, Google, along with technology and auto industry leaders, announced the “Open Automotive Alliance” (OAA). The OAA is committed to bringing the Android platform to cars, with the goal of making technology in the car safer, more seamless and more intuitive for everyone.

Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer of NVIDIA said, “The car is the ultimate mobile computer. With onboard supercomputing chips, futuristic cars of our dreams will no longer be science fiction. The OAA will enable the car industry to bring these amazing cars to market faster.”

The first cars with Android integration are expected to be delivered by the end of 2014.

You mean some of those reviews are fake?!

Obviously, some online reviews are fake.

According to a 2012 report from Gartner Research, “between two and six percent of online reviews are fake or deceptive.” Jenny Sussin, a Gartner analyst and co-author of the report, found that, “In the hospitality industry, you are more likely to see bookings go up when you have better ratings. For restaurants, a half-star increase in the review average can cause 7:00 pm bookings to go up 30 to 49 percent.”

Based on that research, why wouldn’t every business post some fake reviews? Perhaps because it’s unethical and…illegal! The FTC’s guidelines for online reviews say that it’s illegal to write fake reviews for your business or to pay someone else to write reviews for you, unless you can prove that the review was an endorsement.

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman enforced those guidelines in Operation Clean Turf:

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 19 companies had agreed to cease their practice of writing fake online reviews for businesses and to pay more than $350,000 in penalties. Operation Clean Turf, a year-long undercover investigation into the reputation management industry, the manipulation of consumer-review websites, and the practice of astroturfing, found that companies had flooded the Internet with fake consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch. In the course of the investigation, the Attorney General’s office found that many of these companies used techniques to hide their identities, such as creating fake online profiles on consumer review websites and paying freelance writers from as far away as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe for $1 to $10 per review. By producing fake reviews, these companies violated multiple state laws against false advertising and engaged in illegal and deceptive business practices. (Source: 9/23/13 press release)

Operation Clean Turf targeted the “reputation enhancement” companies that wrote the fake reviews, and the companies that purchased them.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Fake reviews are bad business! Always under-promise and over-deliver with your customers. Be humble, give them great value, and ask politely for a review/testimonial. It’s easy.

Extreme Video Marketing

Many companies use video to promote the brand, products and services. Some are taking it to the extreme, using pretty amazing cameras like the GoPro to demonstrate a product from the user’s point of view.

The GoPro camera was originally invented for surfers, to shoot the view inside the curl of a wave. But that was just the beginning. In the March 2013 edition of Forbes, Ryan Mac wrote: “The cinema-grade, panoramic, point-of-view footage that comes out of a GoPro transforms mere mortals into human highlight reels, without blowing a huge hole in the budget.”

Cameras like the GoPro let you get hugely creative, but a nicely produced video that highlights your company and your brand gives a strong boost to your SEO campaign. Video tends to be more engaging than text. And, video is a great way to add content to your website, attract organic traffic and build up your presence on YouTube.

Google Builds a Barge…

Not a virtual barge, a real barge, docked in San Francisco Bay. A second one has been towed into Portland Harbor, Maine and reportedly, two more are under construction.

As with all things Google, there’s plenty of mystery because Google isn’t saying much. On November 6th, Google released this statement: “Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

The barges are owned by a company called By and Large, LLC, which appears to be a front for Google. It has not gone unnoticed that the name of the fictional company in WALL-E, the animated film about a robot who is designed to clean up a futuristic waste-covered Earth, is Buy N Large. For more insight, read Google’s crazy barge scheme: Your complete guide.