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This blog will be dedicated to our continued discussion about what it means to be ADA compliant and the best route to follow when pursuing that goal. More questions will hopefully be answered for you, and more advice will be provided on this difficult topic that has little legal ground and ruling to guide anyone through the process!
Hello, my dear and wonderful Summerville! How are you, dear readers? So glad you've made it to the Creative Consulting blog. We hope that where ever you might be, that you're happy and well! Also, if you're finding yourself reading one of your very first Creative Consulting blogs right now, please note that this blog is part three of an ongoing discussion about ADA compliance, and to fully get out of it what we feel is best, we encourage you to go back and read the first two blogs in this series!
How are you doing so far in your 2021? Are you still working towards your business goals? Have you been following the plans you created for yourself last year to find success this year? After how tumultuous 2020 was, outside of making some of the most necessary and important goals for yourself and your business, it might have been hard to see a bigger picture while walking into 2021! This blog is, of course, a safe space for all of our readers and fellow business owners. If you were struggling with your goals and resolutions for 2021, we have one that you can work towards, and we won't even tell anyone that you made this resolution after the ball dropped! Why not strive towards becoming as ADA compliant as possible in 2021?
Becoming ADA compliant, as we have been talking about through this blog series, is important ground to break for your company, while it is also very shaky ground at the same time. While it is something that is pressing for every website to have and heavily suggested to implement into your website by the WCAG (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), we must remind all of our readers that there are still no official laws or rules about being ADA compliant. However, striving to make your virtual fingerprint enjoyable and accessible to anyone and everyone that visits your website is an incredibly powerful business move. Being inclusive in your web viewing audience is not only kind to humanity, but it can also help with your company's growth and sales. Being kind and growing exponentially at the same time? Sounds pretty perfect to us! However, while we have covered a lot of information on the topic, we wanted to finish out this blog series with just a little bit more about ADA compliance!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING ADA COMPLIANT?
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE RISKS OF NOT BEING ADA COMPLIANT?
While this topic is still an incredibly grey area, that doesn't mean taking the risk of not being ADA compliant is the way to go. There are still many risk factors that you could be facing. Remember, Creative Consulting can help you through the process and you must be very careful when approached by online poachers or online ambulance chasers. Their sole goal is to target websites and business owners unaware of ADA compliance and scaring them into paying huge sums of money for their so-called safety. Well, we guarantee that this is very false information. However, if you are choosing not to be ADA compliant and choosing not to make these adjustable steps, that's a different situation.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT NOW?
We are not downplaying the fact that ADA compliance hasn't been important since the use of the internet became widespread and used by millions every day. However, as the years go on and we all become more and more connected thanks to the overwhelming and impressive power of the internet, now might be more important than ever to be ADA compliant.
The big takeaway that we want to give each of our readers to have from this blog series is the fact that becoming ADA compliant is simple, necessary, but nothing you should be afraid of. Work with the correct individuals, like us, to help you reach this goal and you could potentially see your business grow exponentially. Honestly, there is also no question about it. It is a company's responsibility to every citizen to allow them access to their website. It's the right thing to do, it's our duty to humanity, and not being ADA compliant is discriminatory, which is beyond unacceptable in our books. As online designers, what is also unacceptable is big web design moguls using scare tactics to prey on unaware and uneducated business owners. It is our responsibility, as business owners, to help them, educate them, eradicate fear, and bring everyone smoothly and safely into the kind and generous world of ADA compliance! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
To learn even more in-depth information and to stay up to date on ADA Compliance, please visit their website: https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm
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In this follow up blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion on ADA compliance on your website and what you need to know right now.
Hello Summerville, and welcome back to the blog! There is just nothing like a new year in Summerville. The whole town seems to be buzzing with new exciting energy working towards this new year's goals, new projects, and resolutions. It's a wonderful energy, and we can all feel it in the office. It has helped each of us stay focused, get to work, and inspired us to keep up with our own goals and resolutions. Thank you, Summerville! Let's make the best out of 2021 together, and let's be kind to one another. Who knows what this year or any year might hold for all of us!
One of the very first blogs we've shared this year was all about being ADA compliant, what that means, the challenges small businesses are facing right now because of it, the fact that many issues are caused due to lack of official guidance, and how the officials are going about correcting websites to ADA complaint before a bully shows up to do it first. Today, we are going to be following up with part two of that blog with even more helpful and important information to make sure your business is safe and ready to handle the changes ADA online compliance might bring this year.
What are the best ways to make your website ADA compliant?
Remember, you can do many of these changes yourself if you want to. Do not, we repeat, do NOT let anyone bully you into believing that they are the only ones who can make your current website or build a website for you that is ADA compliant and that you must spend an obscene amount of money to do so. You can work with us at Creative Consulting to achieve an ADA-compliant website or any top-notch design company that won't force or bully you, and our rates will be reasonable. Remember, outside of following these loosely based guidelines that have started to appear about being ADA compliant online, being ADA compliant can help position your business for long-lasting success and help to expand your customer base. While rules and guidelines are still not black and white, the WCAG (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and other groups are paving the way. Until then, here is a list of suggestions and tips on how to make your website ADA compliant right now.
Well, readers, it looks like the topic of ways on how best to make your website ADA compliant needed its very own blog! Don't worry, we still have a lot more to talk about, and will continue to do so in our next few blogs. This topic is becoming more important every day, and we want to make sure you are prepared and informed. We appreciate you coming on this ride with us about ADA compliance. We hope that with each of these blogs, you are taking the correct steps to ensure that your website fits these guidelines. Please take this topic very seriously. While there are no official guidelines set in stone by law right now, that most certainly doesn't mean that it couldn't change soon. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to get ahead on this topic, so once it is set in stone, you either will already be compliant with the law or you will just need to make a few adjustments! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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In this two-part blog, we will be discussing something pretty delicate in our world right now. It is one of our personal goals to strive to not only help our clients and fellow small business owners grow their businesses, but we also strive to educate others and tell the truth about what's happening in the world of business right now. Today, we are going to be discussing a very important hot topic, being ADA compliant!
Hello, Summerville, and hello 2021! How many times have you written the date wrong so far this year? I've done it an embarrassingly amount of times! Anyway, welcome back to the blog writer's desk, and while we are just a few weeks into the new year, it is still such an exciting time to own a business. While so many people hate the beginning of a new year as much as they hate Mondays, when we look at a new year we see the beginnings of something very special and exciting. We have the opportunity to grow and become the company we want to be, and to help our clients do the same. That, to us, is incredibly exciting and one of the many reasons why starting fresh in a new year is what we live for!
One of the ways we try to help all of our clients and fellow small business owners grow is to inspire them to look at every new year as a new opportunity. It's the perfect time to go after their goals and a perfect time to plan how to reach them. We also try to take the time in the first few months to continue educating our clients on what is happening now in our industry, and how that might impact their business on a day to day basis, and what to be cautious of. Currently, one of the hottest trends in the marketing world and the website design world is offering clients to help them become ADA compliant. It's a sad reality that many marketing companies will use scare tactics to force small companies into a website contract with them, claiming that they aren't ADA compliant which could land them in a huge lawsuit. This is such an unnecessary and cruel thing to do to small businesses, who are already struggling to make ends meet in the first place. We want to state that by law, there are actually no guidelines that state exactly what or how your website must be set up to be ADA compliant. At least there isn't anything yet. If you are being bothered or badgered by a company telling you otherwise, please brush them off or speak with us. They're being bullies, and we don't like bullies here at Creative Consulting. In this two-part blog, we are going to be talking about what ADA Compliance is, how your company needs to be approaching this term and its current guidelines, and why the threat of being in danger isn't anything close to what many companies will say that you are in. Yes, you need to be compliant, but there is wiggle room, which is what we will be talking about today.
Let's take a step back though before we get in over our heads or things get confusing. The ADA is the American With Disabilities Act that requires physical locations to provide fair access and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Some of the most common examples of this are restaurants and public buildings must provide wheelchair accessibility and they must provide menus and other reading materials in Braille for customers who are visually impaired. Today, in our very media-heavy and driven world, ADA compliance has now spread out to the digital world and our digital devices. ADA compliance is now requiring all websites to provide accessibility for all on their webpages. This can include web content that can be used by those who are blind, for those who are deaf, help for those who must navigate by using their voices, and providing screen readers to help read and describe all content on the webpage for those who might not be able to see it. So yes, by law you must be ADA compliant and provide these options. Your website must also not prohibit the use of these tools that we've mentioned above that would prevent an individual with a disability to access your webpage as needed. However, here is the kicker! There are no clear ADA regulations that spell out how every website must be laid out and designed to provide accessibility to everyone with a disability. There is so much grey area, and so much unknown, which people are taking advantage of and trying to decide what it means for them, not for the digital world across the board. All it states by legal documentation is that all businesses that fall under Tier 1 or Tier 3 must provide internet content that gives at least "reasonable accessibility" to individuals with disabilities according to Business News Daily, but that is all that they say and no guidelines or examples have truly been supplied.
What businesses fall under these different tiers? That's when it begins to get a little tricky. Tier 1 Businesses are those that have at least 15 full-time employees and are open for business at least 20 weeks out of the year, and they somehow engage in an industry that adds to and affects commerce. However, if you have 14 or fewer employees (for example you are a self-employed company of one) and you work less than those 20 weeks a year, you don't have to comply as being Title 1. According to Findlaw.com any tax-exempt private membership clubs also do not count as being Tier 1 businesses. Businesses that are owned by a Native American Tribe are also exempt from being Title 1. However, Tier 3 gets a little more tricky because more businesses fall under its umbrella. Tier 3 businesses are businesses that are considered and live in the category of being public accommodations. Examples of this included and are not limited to:
ADA was passed in 1990, making sure that all public access locations had to provide accommodations for everyone, including those with disabilities. 20 years later in 2010, the Department of Justice passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design which mandated that all electronic information and devices had to be accessible to those with disabilities. However, because the law states that you only have to be ADA compliant if you fall under Tier 1 and Tier 3, it is still best to discuss with a lawyer what you should do for their website to not run into any issues. While there is no reason to prevent someone with disabilities from enjoying your website and content, for those who don't fall under those tiers, you shouldn't be badgered into building a website with a company you don't want to work with because they are saying your not ADA compliant, and the only way to avoid a lawsuit is to work with them. Remember, there are no clear rules about being ADA compliant, however, again, you need to be respectful of the ADA complaint ideals. What we are trying to explain here is that you can make these additions and adjustments yourself to your website. You can even make your website more accessible for those who use different tools to access and enjoy it, and to make sure they aren't turned away from it.
Many companies today, since it is such a grey area topic with no real definition, will take advantage of the fact that this world has no clear-cut definition and will attack smaller companies that don't fit in any tier. They will bully and scare them into buying a website from them, and in our books that is a bad business tool. In the second half of this blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion about being ADA compliant, its current battle, and how to keep your company compliant while not being bullied by others to conform to their incorrect definition of being ADA compliant. This is a touchy topic and one that we need to talk about more. If you feel that you might be going against ADA compliance or in some trouble because of not following what ADA guidelines there are, please contact us and we will work through it together! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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Having the strongest tools in your online marketing toolbox should be one of your top priorities for your business. Having a strong, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use website should be one of those incredibly sharp tools!
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writers desk and welcome to December! How excited are you to drive and walk around our cute little town and see it decorated to the holiday nines? Don't forget to shop local and shop small this year. 2020 has been a hard year for all of our local businesses, and right now more than ever they need your love and support. Our incredible town has something for everyone on your holiday shopping list this year. Personalized and unique gifts, gift cards to your favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries, and fun (socially distanced and safe) activities, and much more can all be found right here in the sweet tea capital of the world! Don't forget, shopping locally and supporting local small businesses help support our neighbors and our local economy. Investing in it is an investment back for you! Also, if you don't feel safe shopping or ordering in person from all of your favorite local businesses, many of them are selling their products, gift cards, and services on their websites! Many local artists are also selling their goods on Etsy, on their websites, off of their social media pages, and more! If you need any recommendations on where to shop this year, please reach out to us, visit your favorite local Summerville websites, and ask around! Make this holiday a very special one, regardless of how difficult it has been for all of us!
Speaking of online shopping, social media pages, and websites we wanted to focus on sharpening one of the many important tools you need to have in your small business toolbox this time of year, and all year round. We need to start the conversation about having an excellent website. After making it through all of your online holiday marketing planning these last few months and putting all of that into action, it's time to get ready for the upcoming new year. We know how busy this time of year is for you, but we also know you understand that work for a small business never stops. All of us at Creative are constantly pushing ourselves and working towards how we can better ourselves to help our clients, and how we can help our clients grow to their next level of business. One of the many steps we help our clients grow and prosper in, what one of our tops services is, and what we promote very often our on social media pages is having a strong, functional, and beautiful website. As the 2018 and 2019 winners of the Readers Choice and Berkeley County Best Web Design Firm, we wanted to dedicate one of our very last blogs of 2020 to the many reasons why having an excellent website is so important.
In today's world where almost all first introductions and interactions individuals make with a new company, restaurant, or service start with a Google search, having an excellent website is a must. This will be your introduction to most of your new clients, supporters, and consumers. It is more likely for a curious individual to turn to their web browser to look for what they need or ask for an opinion through their social media network than any other forms of search. Having a welcoming, easy to navigate, and beautiful website serves as that first handshake in these situations, and automatically gives you credibility to these new hopeful potential clients without you having to lift a finger. Google helps with these introductions too, especially if your SEO is top-notch.
However, if you don't even have a website, that can be a fatal blow to your company and a huge loss in clients and sales. The amount of organic traffic your company will receive by having a website is incredibly important and can be stronger than print, radio, or TV advertisement in many cases. However, if you are only using print, TV, and radio advertisement and don't have a website, this will automatically cause you to lose credibility too. It will seem strange in today's world that you wouldn't have a website. Potential customers want to learn more about your services, your prices, and how to contact you without having to go digging to find it. If this isn't readily available through a website, it is highly unlikely that they would choose your business over someone who does have a website with all of this information. Having a website is one step closer to knowing and trusting the company behind the website before even choosing to work with someone.
That being said, if you do have a website but it's not pleasing to the eye, difficult to navigate, lacking information, and lacking contact information, this will also repel your potential customers. No one wants to spend extra time nor do they want to get frustrated by having to dig for information, get confused on how to interact with your website, or not finding any of the information they are looking for. You want a design that's pleasing to look at, explains exactly what your company does and what it offers, who customers can talk to, all while staying true to your unique brand.
[Sense of Easy, not Urgency]
You have a strong, beautifully crafted, and easy to navigate website - now what? In 2020, the pandemic has kept many people out of brick and mortar stores, and kept them to window shopping on their phones and computers from the safety and comfort of their couches. This trend has been powerful and popular even before the pandemic hit. Physical window shopping is slowly becoming a thing of the past while the power of scrolling and Google search shopping is slowly starting to take its place. It's easier, faster, and a gateway to finding new products and services at the click of a button. It's also a huge time saver and potentially a huge moneymaker for your business. Where does this all start? With a strong website.
While many new clients might find out about your products and services thanks to your social media pages on Instagram and Facebook, they will still be lead to your website landing page to decide if they're going to buy from you and what they're going to buy. Having a website can also expand your customer base. You or your brick and mortar shop might be located on the west coast, but having a website could allow you to sell your goods across the country or even globally. You are opening the market to anyone in the world, or where you personally choose to ship to, by having a website.
In this day and in this year, where the pandemic has made it hard to hold onto a brick and mortar location, a website can free you up from the responsibilities that come with it and the rent you have to pay to keep it. If you have a strong website backed up by an incredibly active social media and SEO presence, and you can ship your goods and products anywhere, you don't need that brick and mortar store unless you want it. On the other hand, if your company offers a service and you prefer to operate mobile out of a car or company vehicle, a well-crafted website can continue to promote your services while also avoiding a brick and mortar location.
[A Conversation Worth Having]
We've talked about the importance of communication in many of our blogs. Responding to comments or messages on social media in a very timely manner, responding to emails as quickly as possible, and giving your customers a place to start a conversation are some of the most important practices a business needs to have and provide. Having a website allows this communication to happen with ease and allows it to be organized for you and instant for your customers. It provides the information needed to contact you with any questions, problems, and concerns right away. Adding a chatbox can provide quick and 24/7 customer support instantly, too. This also allows, subconsciously, for your clients to connect with you and trust you with ease and without causing a headache.
Don't forget that a website not only makes the process easy for your clients, but it also makes your job easier too. That's the dream right there, isn't it? Once you create your stunning website and keep up with its maintenance throughout your company's lifetime, you're set to go. At this point, you'll have nowhere to go but up. A website will also be a godsend for your marketing team, who need all your love this time of year. Once you've established an excellent website, planning for sales, holidays, and new products will be so much easier for them. They have a landing page to display these changes, the ease to direct new and returning clients on where they can buy your goods and services, and an established brand to base all of their marketing off of! What a relief!
We understand the hesitations in hiring a company like ours to build, create, and manage a website. We've heard and understood all of them. However, if you want your company to continue to grow, have credibility, if you want people to know who you are and what your company does, continue to make money, and make a good first impression, a well-designed website is the way to go. We are here to chat with you about any questions and concerns you might have about building or redesigning your website and to help get you started. Creating beautiful websites is one of our many passions and something we hope you're getting excited about! Let's get started taking your business to the next level with the website of your dreams, contact us today! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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Get to know the hilarious, hard-working, and creative individuals that make up the Creative Consulting family one blog at a time.
Welcome back to another team member spotlight, Summerville! We hope you've been doing well, and are slowly getting settled into the school year. Even though this school year does look different for many of our friends and family members, there are still a lot of things happening that make this time of year special. Pumpkin and apple-flavored goodies are showing up in all of our favorite Summerville businesses, the smell of fresh school supplies greets us where ever we go, and the chill of 80 degrees is a wonderful reminder that fall is right around the corner!
This week we will be featuring our second Creative Consulting team member, Stephen Slappey. I've had the pleasure of working with Stephen for over a year now, and I am thrilled to share his interview with you. As a creative being who has lead a very different career path than many of my 9-5 friends, coming into a business like Creative Consulting was an interesting transition for me. As an independent contractor, musical theater actor and singer (spoiler for my spotlight!), and writer, I haven't had the greatest luck when it comes to a normal 9-5 schedule or experience. I have waited tables, catered, and paid my dues in retail. Working with a company that does work on a 9-5 schedule was a big change for me, and even though I still work on my own schedule, it's taught me quite a bit.
A lot of this education is thanks to Stephen. I've not met someone so passionate about learning more about the people he's talking to, even if he will only have one conversation with that individual. I've not met someone so inspired to learn more about his industry and to apply it right away. I have personally watched him single handily turn a meeting from a difficult situation into an atmosphere of joy in a matter of minutes. He always puts others first and is dedicated to the growth of his company and to his friends, family, and co-workers. Also, his excitement over learning new things, the latest update in his favorite videogames, and life, in general, is refreshing. He can be a goofball and strictly professional in one sentence, and I still don't know how he does it.
He was also very kind to take the time to sit down with me and answer these questions so that you can get to know the other half of the Creative Consulting founding team and owners. Meg and he make an amazing team. Working for them has been the easiest thing I've ever done. It's rewarding, it continues to teach me, and pushes me in all the right ways. I'm proud to be a part of their team, and I'm thrilled for you to learn more about Stephen!
How long have you been working at CC:
Around six years.
How did you hear about the positions:
I invented it.
What do you do for CC:
Marketing, planning, management, customer relations, pricing, and sales.
What is your favorite part about working for CC:
The ability to help set people on the right path.
What have you learned since you worked at CC:
Too many things to count.
What is your favorite part of your workday at CC:
Teaching our clients.
Favorite memory at CC so far:
When I was able to help one of our long-standing clients avoid a $10,000 scam.
Favorite Summerville Small Business (besides CC):
What is your education background:
Marketing, Graphic Design, and Computer Science.
What are your hobbies:
Board games and games in general, reading, learning, spending time with people, deep conversations.
What is your favorite book, color, song, movie:
Book: Marvels Civil War
Song: Too many to count
Movie: Marvel Avengers
CC is just the beginning. There is so much coming for everyone to see.
Favorite Restaurant in Charleston/Summerville:
One specific one doesn't come to mind. Anywhere I can make a memory with the people I'm with.
Favorite things to do in Charleston/Summerville:
Be with the people I love
Make sure you are following Creative Consulting on all of our social media platforms. Stephen has recently started a new vlog series discussing everything you want to know about business, social media, and more. If there is something more you want to know, reach out and tell him! His love for learning more about the industry is equally matched with his love of teaching. So make sure to give Stephen a shout out on his new videos and to watch all of them. I guarantee that you'll learn at least three new things every time you watch! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and be well. Take a moment to enjoy the things that make fall in the Lowcountry special. Things might be tough, but you and your coffee are strong enough to take on anything!
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Small businesses, be warned! Two of the most important tools in your online marketing toolbox sound very similar but they are two VERY DIFFERENT tools. It's time to break down their differences and pick the right choice for you and your company.
Happy New Year Everyone! We hope you had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones, and you're just as excited as we are to jump into 2020! One of the biggest things we were focusing on before the holidays set in was the challenges, changes, and inconsistencies of online marketing across many social media platforms. If you spend as much time as we do studying and working with advertising on places like Facebook and Instagram, you are very familiar with the fact that it changes constantly. It's hard to keep up with each change and how it affects your advertisements daily. These advertisement tools can determine your business growth and popularity online, so if you don't understand the changes in trends or are unfamiliar with the tools available to you, you could be in serious trouble. One of the biggest things we have been digging into is Geofencing and Geotargeting. This behind the scenes marketing tool can make or break an advertisement campaign without even trying. The names look so familiar, they much basically be the same thing right? Wrong! Although they are connected, you need to understand their main differences. When you understand the differences, you will be able to choose which option is best for your company. The best choice will help you gain more customers, followers, and supporters. First off, let's get down to the definitions.
GEOFENCING: Geofencing is when you draw an actual virtual fence with a predetermined chosen radius. This is used to target and connect specific people in a certain area to your advertisement. It is known to be more accurate than geotargeting. It uses GPS to make sure the audience you have targeted is being tracked and followed based on the coordinates of where they are in that exact moment they're online. When this chosen group of people is online, geofencing collects data and studies how long this chosen group of customers stays within the virtual fence and if and when they come back. This tool helps improve the engagement of local customers for your company and it can help attract customers away from your competition. The disadvantage of geofencing is that it can only target audiences based on physical location. Hand-picking demographics and certain groups of people based on anything besides location have nothing to do with who sees your geofencing advertisement.
Who is the best for? If you are interested in advertising to populations of all interests and ages in your local area, then it is a perfect tool for your company.
GEOTARGETING: This tool is very similar to Geofencing at its base. It does draw the same invisible fence, BUT demographics are included in its makeup. You create your virtual fence, and then you pick who exactly (based on age, interest, gender, etc.) will see your ad. One of the main disadvantages is that you have to open up your advertisement geographic to a much larger area. You are being very specific about the type of people you want to see this add within a particular area So, to get as much of a result as you would with geofencing, the location needs to be larger to attract the same number of people in a geofencing situation.
Who is this best for? If you are interested in advertising to a very specific group of people inside a certain demographic or niche, then this is a perfect option for your company.
Spend time studying both options. I have just given you the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to using these tools, and there is a lot to dig into when choosing which to use. Understand how each could affect your company for the better or worse. Spend time understanding the consumers you have and those you're trying to attract. This might be the perfect opportunity to step back and define your company and who you want to serve. If you have the time and the means, experiment with both and see which outcome is best. But make sure to decide on one in the end, stick with it, and plan your advertising campaign accordingly. The work put into this decision could lead to a more dedicated consumer base and a fast conversion rate. All of us social media people love to see those numbers jump high and jump quick!
Here is to an exciting 2020, we can't wait to build a better business world with you one day at a time!
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We know it might seem a little early to already be prepping for the holidays, but it's always best to get a head start on planning. From prepping your decorations to your ad campaign, take the time to make this year the best year yet!
Hello everyone! We hope you had a wonderful September, and that you are so excited for October and the fall season to take over. For everyone in the small business world, stepping closer into fall also means starting to prepare for all of your holiday sales, offers, decorations, ads, images, and products. It's A LOT to plan for. Believe me we can relate. We have already started to plan for our fourth quarter, which also happens to be the busiest part of the year. If there is one thing we can recommend right away, it's to start early. That is a huge headache saved, believe me! No matter the size of your small business, you deserve a strong plan and marketing agenda for the holidays. Smart planning for the holidays isn't just for the big box stores or giant corporations. If you employ 1 or 1000, it's time to get started.
We are so excited to share these few tips of the trade with you. Each of these tips can be used for any holiday, but with everything from Halloween to the New Year approaching, we will be focusing on those holidays and each in between. These tips span everything from social media to your digital footprint on Google. You won't want to miss out on these!
Like we mentioned - there is A LOT to think about when it comes to successfully running a business during the holiday season. But we hope these tips help ease some of your stress and kick off the best quarter of the year for you and your small business! We will see you next time!
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Those annoying popups of the early 2000s are back and better than any of us ever imagined. The next time you're using a website for your job or you're doing some online shopping, take advantage of those online chat boxes. You might be surprised that more often than not, you'll be talking to an actual person!
Happy September friends! We are happy to see it inching closer to what might be cool fall weather here in the Lowcountry. But we're also excited for the future fall decorations and any excuse to drink more coffee. With all these new exciting flavors, who doesn't love a cup of hot goodness with a splash of pumpkin? As we are ushered into a new month, it means a new blog! For this blog, we will be talking about the benefit of online chat boxes and how they could help businesses and its users.
Now, we do remember those annoying chat boxes from our early days of the internet. They were able to maybe answer two questions before directing you to a FAQ site that led to more confusion and frustration than when you started interacting with the chatbox to begin with. But today, the chat box is back and better than ever before. And this time, there are actual people behind the keyboard to help with your questions and concerns faster and more efficiently than ever before.
In this age of social media, people expect answers and information right away. If it's not received in this timely manner, you could likely lose a customer. On average it takes almost ten hours for businesses to respond to social media comments and 12 hours to emails. For today's standards, that's just too long. Live chat boxes let you have in the moment conversations with your customers while they're visiting your website. The rate of 10-12 hours is cut down to an astounding 1-2 minute response! How amazing is that? But live chat boxes go above than just response time, there are so many incredible assets these little boxes can do for you.
You have the choice of hiring a company to operate these chat boxes for you, or you can do it within your company. It just depends on how much you'd like to invest in this service.
The great news is that even if you don't have an actual person behind the chatbox, there are now intelligent bots that can be installed into the systems when you're away. You can program them to help with basic questions in such a way that will keep your customers interested and informed, and lure them back to talk with a human once you're back to answer their questions. These bots aren't the annoying and unhelpful bots that were originally created, thankfully. They are now offering quick, insightful, and engaging info while your customers wait.
There is a ton of chatbox software out there, you just need to decide what version is right for your company. Some are free and almost all of them offer a quick and easy setup and they are easy to customize. Some examples to look into are Intercom, Drift, Influx, Autopilot, Olark, LivePerson, and SnapEngage.
It's been interesting watching this technology make its comeback, and we are very intrigued to see where it will go. With smarter AI growing and the opportunity to connect faster with one another than ever before, this could transform the way businesses are run and how efficiently money is made. Follow this trend with us and let us know how you feel. If you've experienced a chatbox recently with these attributes, share your experience below!
Have a great week, friends! We will see you next time!
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SSL Certificates. The need to have them has been in debate for some time now - and it looks like Google is going to make the final decision for us all. But what does that mean for the future of your websites and will you be paying for this protection?
Happy July everyone! It's been an exciting month so far for Creative Consulting and we are so excited for the rest of this year to follow suit! There has been an important topic on the back of our minds though - with SEO being our bread and butter, there is one particular topic that has grabbed our attention. The need of an SSL Certificate and what that means for the future of web design, the future of websites SEO, and if you have to pay for this protection or not.
For those of you new to an SSL certificate, or a Secure Socket Layer Certificate, is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to the server. It serves as an electronic passport that establishes online credentials when doing business or just surfing on the web. It creates a secure connection from a web server to a browser. If a hacker ever gets their hands on information or a website that is protected by an SSL, all they will see is a cryptographic code that cannot be broken. Even with the aid of a computer. It ensures total safety while browsing the web, as long as the pages your visiting have an SSL! When it is applied to your server correctly the application protocol, the HTTP, will change to HTTPs. The "S" stands for secure. Sometimes, depending on which SSL Certificate and web browser you're using, a small padlock will also appear in the browser bar and it might even turn green when visiting a website that has an SSL Certificate installed too. SSL Certificates have typically been used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and login information, and protection on social media websites. But thanks to Google, it looks like it might become mainstream for everyone to have an SSL certificate.
Why do you need an SSL for your website? It keeps all data secure between servers, it increases your Google Rankings, it builds and enhances your customer's trust, and it improves conversion rates. Automatically if your website sells products or services and deals with credit card transactions there is no question that you should have one. If your website is not available over HTTPs you may see a loss in traffic, loss in user trust and your SEO ratings will start to go down. But even if you don't sell something on your website - it is something that you should highly consider. Once you've established an SSL for your website, all traffic to the webpage will be secure. But what does that mean for the future of SEO and your interaction with Google? We all know that drives so much importance in the traffic to your webpage, and Google has been an incredible tool for that. With Google Chrome being the most popular web browser in the world, it's no surprise that they're making the call for the need of SSL Certificates. But let's go back to the beginning.
In 2014 Google created a new algorithm update that automatically favored HTTPs over HTTP. So already, those websites that were going unprotected were getting fewer views. This continued into 2018 when they announced that if you were not an HTTPS website a "NOT SECURE" message would appear either in your browser bar or when you came to a page that wasn't protected. By October of that year, the warning went from being grey to red - they were getting serious. This year Google has made a push on how they will treat websites with and without SSL. The new default that you should expect in Google includes encryption and a secure connection that is required. It is no longer just a feature for online banking and shopping sites. When it comes to SEO ranking if two websites sell similar products or are similar in topic - if one has HTTPs and the other does not, the website with HTTPs will automatically receive a higher SEO rating. It is not a default in ranking just yet, but with the direction Google has been going in, it could become a default in SEO rating in no time.
Good news though! Most Webshots today provide SSL by default. There are also plenty of Certificate Authority companies that you can get them for free, like Lets Encrypt. It makes it easy and simple for most web users - and those making their websites. But there are still some roadblocks. Some of our favorite platforms to build our websites in are Wordpress, Weebly, Madesimply, and Wix!
Some offer SSL certificate protection, but they have two different sets of rules. Wix offers SSL for free as part of their platform, all you have to do is make sure that the SSL option is turned on when you first publish your website. If you already have a Wix website created - all you have to do is activate it!
Weebly and MadeSimply are a little different. You can automatically add an SSL certificate to your websites, but the only SSL certificate that works for the domains attached to these websites are the ones that come from their company. You cannot get a free SSL from Lets Encrypt and then add it to your Website that are run by Weebly or MadeSimply. It has to come directly from Weebly and MadeSimply. But, the SSL protection only comes with the paid website options, not the free options. Even if you decide to go with the free options, the free SSL won't work for their websites and will still have the "not secure" warning when anyone visits your pages. So, if you already have a page made on Weebly or MadeSimply - you will have to upgrade to a paid account for this protection. It is frustrating to pay for something else for your webpage. But it will protect your SEO ranking on Google - and your clients. So those few extra dollars a year just might be worth it. The other options might be more costly in the end. You could be facing a loss of clients, business, attacks from hackers, and more.
If you are using a website builder that doesn't give you free SSL security but does allow you to purchase an SSL Certificate, they can range between $5-$15 a year on the cheaper end - and can become more expensive depending on what kind of protection you're looking for. And don't forget - there are plenty of free options too.
So it looks like SSL certificates are here to stay - the transition might be a little frustrating for you and your business, believe me we can relate. But at the end of the day, the protection is worth it.
By: Maddie Casto