A Picture Worth A Thousand Words : How To Choose Great Photos For Your Site

Mosaic of pictures

You’ve probably heard this quote about a million times: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. When choosing images for your site, this statement couldn’t be more true. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, don’t select any pretty picture to go to your site. Think about what you want to say with your photos and how these photos tell a story about your brand.

Want to make the right impression with your photos? Here are some tips to help you out!

1) Choose relevant photography that aligns with your website’s purpose.

As you choose the photos for your website, take a second to think about the purpose of your site and who the audience is. Typically your photos should speak to your target audience while tying into what your business is. Users tend to make a lot of assumptions about images without reading its correlating copy. Choose images that communicate the message you’re trying to convey.

2) Is It Useful?

Choose photos that are simple, self-explanatory, and effectively communicate what the product, service, or site is all about. Photos can help enhance a user’s understanding of your product, so think about the context of the photo: does it help them understand something? Does it teach the user how to use the product? How does it apply to the user or their business?

3) Quality Matters.

One of the golden rules of choosing images is to choose high-quality images. Having small, grainy, and pixelated images on a site can be annoying to downright infuriating depending on your audience. While high-quality images tend to be large, there are numerous image compression sites and programs that can reduce the file size so it doesn’t slow your site down or eat up memory.

When working with images, an important tip is to not stretch the photo. This will destroy the quality of the image. Keep in mind, you can always crop the image to make it smaller, but it’s harder to make a small image larger.

4) Don’t just Google It.

While Google makes it easy to find images, it doesn’t mean that they are free to use and the majority of them are copyrighted. Unless you have permission from the original owner or hold the license that grants the permission for you to use that image, the Google image cannot be used under any circumstances. If you’re caught using a copyrighted image from Google, companies can take legal action against you for unauthorized use of their material and demand a high settlement fee.

5) Use unique photos for your site.

Stand out from the crowd and use your company’s own branded photography. Using actual pictures of your staff, office space, and product shots that tell a story about your brand. If you have to use stock images, not all images are created equal. Expensive stock sites offer pictures with better quality, natural-looking images while cheaper stock image sites tend to have pictures that are more cheesy and artificial. Another great option is using royalty free images which allows you to use the image for free, even for commercial use.

Interested in making the right first impression? Find out how Web Toaster can help you!

No-Stress WordPress: What Makes It A Super CMS?

A Wordpress Superhero

Every day at Web Toaster, our designers and developers are hard at work creating sites left, right, and center. In order to offer great sites at affordable prices, we build our sites on WordPress because it’s a flexible platform that allows us to customize what you want in the time frame you need.

Here are the reasons why we use WordPress and how it can benefit your business:

1) Easy-To-Use.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to learn how to use WordPress. Bloggers, businesses, and novices alike use WordPress because of its user friendly interface and their all-in-one platform makes it easy for you to manage your site. If you’re posting a lot of content, WordPress makes it easy to post, and schedule them ahead of time.

2) Flexible and Customizable.

As a platform, WordPress can be used for everything to a personal blog, eCommerce site, online brochure, or a personal portfolio. At Web Toaster, we love WordPress because of its endless possibilities for design and different customizations that suit your business needs. WordPress has numerous features and extensions that enhance your site’s functionality and can create the website you’ve always wanted.

3) SEO Friendly.

If you want to aim for the top on Google, you’re in luck! In order for your site to rank high, your site needs to meet various predefined parameters. The more parameters you fulfill, the higher your site ranks in search results. Everything from faster loading times, being mobile friendly, having specific keywords or descriptions all play a part in your Google ranking.

WordPress has the basics covered, already being optimized for mobile, and plugins that can help you monitor analytics and managing your keywords. However, if the basics don’t cut it. The Web Toaster team has got you covered with enhanced packages that can help you outrank the competition.

Interested in what Web Toaster can do for you? Let’s talk!

It’s Not About The Money: 10 Benefits of Online Marketing

online_marketing

Why do you want to invest in online marketing? A common answer we hear is that it is a cheaper avenue for investment, which makes it easier for small businesses to compete. Though this answer is technically correct, it really misses the point of online marketing and the truly unique features it offers. Yes, you are able to enter some online avenues with a fairly limited budget, but the old saying still holds true: You get what you pay for. Instead of basing your decision on price alone, here are 10 great reasons to invest in online marketing. Your strategy will be far more successful if you focus on maximizing on these benefits rather than simply reducing cost.

Online marketing gives you the ability to market directly to your customers because you have full control over where and when your ad will be placed, and in front of whom. Though you can pick targeted avenues with traditional media, they are incomparable to the amount of targeting available thanks to big data and digital marketing.

We, as modern marketers, are spoiled by the amount of data available to us today. Thanks to online marketing we can track who interacted with our campaign, to what degree, at what time, on what device, from what source, and from where. Some resources even allow us to learn the online habits and personality of the people responding to our ads. This tracking only improves over time; as the number of campaigns you send out increases, the more accurate your data will be.

Online media has far more reliable measurement tools than traditional media, as costs are measured based on actual interactions with ads instead of estimated reach. Payment models such as Cost-Per-Click and Cost-Per-Visit mean that you can directly associate costs with revenue, and have a far more accurate ROI than previously possible. However, some margin of error still exists, as a consumer may purchase your product as a result of years of advertising, though not directly associated with a campaign.

Digital Media allows you to post customized ads that are targeted to different audiences, search results, and topics, meaning that the consumers are seeing ads that are more tailored to them, and are more likely to convert. Many ad venues allow for ads with variable fields allowing you to input specific search terms, or even the consumer’s name into your ads.

At some point in every person’s life, their parents will tell them not to play with their food: this is because everyone loves to play, engage and interact with what’s in front of them! Online marketing allows marketers to send interactive and engaging ads to their clients. It can be something as simple a click, or as complex as a mobile app.

Online advertising does not need to be static; it can be a dynamic video, or even a photo with subtle background movement. In this day and age, we often take the value of motion for granted, but it is an extremely useful tool to draw the attention of consumers. It also allows for more detailed information to be provided while still being easily consumed.

Automation not only makes your job easier, but it also allows you to immediately respond to customer interactions. Many marketing automation softwares allow you to track your website traffic and send emails to your customers immediately after a certain interaction, providing them with more information about a product, reminding them to complete a purchase, or to even sign up for a webinar on a relevant topic. Automation also helps you manage long term interactions with a customer, thanks to long term rules, such as calls-to-action set 3 months after a certain interaction.

It is very simple to update graphics and messages on online channels, and very quick to set up new campaigns. This allows you to take advantage of AB testing, and respond to cultural phenomena in a hurry. Is there a big snowstorm on the way? Start promoting your winter boots. Did a no-name athlete just break a world record? Promote their memorabilia right away!

The internet allows you to reach more customers than ever before. It doesn’t matter where your business is located, you can access consumers from around the world! With traditional media, the consumer has to come to you, but online marketing allows you to go to your consumer.

This point may seem like it’s referring to online marketing being less costly, but look deeper. CPM (Cost per thousand impressions) for online marketing is far cheaper than traditional media, which is great if you are just concerned with quantity. But there is a reason it is cheaper; the quality of the view is inferior to that of traditional media. There are various reasons for this, a few being that consumers may question the legitimacy of the online ads and so disregard them, conversion rates are lower for certain channels, and some channels calculate views ineffectively. So a lower CPM doesn’t mean you save money, it means you get a bigger reach with the same investment. Invest a healthy budget in online marketing and reach a wider audience than you would otherwise achieve.

Are you interested in improving your online marketing initiatives? BTI’s new subsidiary, Web Toaster, has great online marketing packages for any budget or business. Take advantage of these great benefits, and start developing an online marketing strategy today!

On-Site Insight: 4 Things You Need To Know Before Building A Website

4 things you need to know before building a website

So you’ve finally decided that your business needs a website. Great! But now what? What’s the next step? Before the Web Toaster team can drop a line of code, we start the first step with you. Half the battle in creating a site is developing the stuff that goes on the site. This means research, writing content, and creating a purpose for the site. Without these assets, we can’t design or structure a site.

Want to get the ball rolling? Here are a few things to have before we start building:

Establish the purpose of your website

You know that you need a site, but why? The purpose of your site will dictate the objective you are trying to achieve with it. Are you showcasing your work to potential clients? Or maybe you want a platform to sell your products. If that’s not the case, then think about what your customers want and why they’re looking at your site for it. The purpose of your site will drive everything from the design, functionality, content, and results.

What are your competitors doing?

If you don’t know what your competitors are up to, a quick Google search can help you get up to speed. Looking at your competition allows you see what they’re doing right and what you can do better. Part of having a website is allow your business to be seen, especially when the majority of people are turning to the internet for information. Research your competition, read reviews, observe what they’re doing, and use this information to gauge what your site should feature.

Think about how you’re communicating to users

Your website is up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In a world where we’re constantly connected users want to know what’s going on all the time. Your business is constantly changing and you should have a method for keeping users updated when something happens. Do you plan on having a blog? A latest news page? Or maybe social media integration? Whatever you decide, your audience needs to know!

 Write content for your website

After the purpose, pages and functionality has been established, the grunt work begins with the text. Writing is all about the details. Readers can easily be deterred if your text contains typos or spelling mistakes. Keep your audience in mind and write content that is appropriate for them; some require very technical information while others need simplified content. An average site has a Home, About, Portfolio/Product/Service, and a Contact page. Make sure you have the appropriate text for each section and consider if your site needs any additional pages that need text as well. If you’re lost for words, check out this article (link) or take advantage of our copywriting services (link)!

Are you ready to build or update your website? Let Web Toaster lend a hand!

Vacuum Sealed Security: Keeping Freshness In & Hackers Out

Lock

As of October 2015, WordPress CMS powered 29.7% of all new sites. Even more impressively, 25.5% of the Internet is powered by WordPress. Why? To put it simply, WordPress is a phenomenal resource for web developers and business owners as it is easy to use and learn, open source and modifiable, SEO friendly, extremely versatile, and was built with security in mind.

Unfortunately, as with any open source resource, malicious parties can hack websites that do not take their security very seriously. According to Forbes, roughly 30,000 websites are hacked each day due to particular vulnerabilities, which WordPress sites are not exempt from. Typically WordPress CMS users experience unusual activity on their websites as a symptom of a security breach. This could come in the form of spam, or abnormal increases in traffic; possibly from foreign countries. Additionally, many hacked websites suffer from spontaneous redirections to other pages, unknown admin users, and unapproved content additions. Web security is extremely important because the credibility of your brand relies on the stability of your website.

Typically, more cautious WordPress users take precautions to “harden” their websites. These precautions typically include maintaining the latest WordPress version as soon as updates are released, constantly updating plugins and ensuring that they are from trusted sources, strengthening passwords, and using credible themes. It is also advisable to use a trusted host to keep your website online.

As a small business owner, keeping track of web security and having to take care of breaches can be a tedious and technically intensive task, which many do not have the time or expertise to handle efficiently and effectively. Web Toaster is here to save you time and effort, and maintain a strong brand for your company. Part of our value is our website maintenance and security packages; Web Toaster offers 24/7 website monitoring for malicious activity, so our skilled team of developers can manage any sort of breach without you lifting a finger.

Treat your website to Web Toaster’s vacuum-sealed security, and sleep soundly every night knowing that your website, business, and brand, are in good hands. Learn more about Web Toaster’s Maintenance Packages here.

Copywrite, Right: 3 Tips For Effective Copywriting

Copywriter with a piece of paper in it

Effective copywriting is a critical component of your website. After all, aside from the aesthetics, it’s what’s inside that really counts. A consumer is more likely to do business with you if they see a trusted, authoritative brand, which is simply achieved through effective copy. This guide will outline three simple strategies to capture your consumer’s attention and generate leads through effective copy.

Tip 1: Make your content skimmable. Many of your site visitors will not read every single word your website, so you should strive for clear, and concise text on each page of your site. Let’s assume your reader is simply skimming your website; the key information that you’d like them to be aware of should be in larger font, and your titles and subtitles should contain most of the critical information. Sentences should be concise and writing should be elegant, but clear.

Tip 2: Good copy talks about “you”, not “me”. This allows the reader to understand how your product or service will help their specific situation, rather than giving them a broad idea of how the product or service would be useful in general: How will you take care of your customer? How will your product directly benefit your customer’s life or business? For example, Apple advertises their phones’ superior call quality by reminding their consumers of how annoying it is to speak in a loud room, and that Apple phones eliminate the background noise, therefore solving the problem all together.

Tip 3: Always proofread your work multiple times to ensure your copy is error-free, consistent, and professional. Your site’s credibility can be at serious risk if the copy is not thoroughly edited for spelling, grammar, and flow. Remember that your copy is your brand voice, so before you start writing make a decision about what your brand voice is and ensure that all copy is consistent to that voice: Is it formal? Professional? Casual? Edgy? Consumers can learn a lot about your brand just by its voice, so be sure to have a consistent voice throughout the site.

Ultimately, many factors will play into the effectiveness of your copy, but ensuring that you have clear, consumer-focused, consistent copy will make your website much more attractive to the everyday reader. For more information on great copywriting, get in touch with Web Toaster!