PayPal Advanced Now Available

Posted October 16th, 2014 in Selling Online, Tech Tips, Website Builder Features by Sean

We are excited to announce that we have added PayPal Advanced to the list of supported payment processors within your shopping cart. PayPal Advanced will keep your customers on your site for the entire checkout process similarly to PayPal Payments Pro but at a lower cost to you.

For more information about PayPal Advanced and how it compares to PayPal Payments Pro and PayPal Standard please click here.

If you already have a PayPal Advanced account, you may start using it instantly by logging into your site, and selecting PayPal Advanced from the list of options in the Gateway section of the “Payment Processing” section of the “Edit Store” tab. For more details on setting up PayPal Advanced, check out our article on the topic.

Update on Scammers (April 2014)

Posted April 24th, 2014 in Selling Online by Sean

We have recently received reports that a company who has previously attempted to scam our customers (link to previous blog post) is once again trying to fool users into paying for unnecessary or non-existent website services, or attempting to get users to switch to their website company.

This company has previously operated under such aliases as Dream Real Solutions, The Tech Department, and others. They are contacting CityMax customers via phone or email with a message similar to the one below:

“Our records indicate that you have missed your last appointment with us, and efforts to contact you by phone have been unsuccessful. There are mandatory updates for your website that need to be discussed urgently. Being that this is a time sensitive matter, please contact us immediately to schedule another appointment. We care about the success of your online business.”

We advise all of our customers to use caution if they receive an email or phone call of this nature. Calls from CityMax will always come from a 604 area code, and we will never call to sell you website upgrades or SEO services.

If you’ve received a call or email of this nature, we would appreciate any information you can provide to us as it helps us gather evidence against these types of scams. Please contact us at customerservice@websitedynamics.com or submit a support ticket with any details you may have.

Grow Your Business With CityMax Affiliates

Running an online business can be challenging, so we’re always looking for ways to make life easier for our customers. We’re excited to partner with several companies who may be able to enhance not just your website with CityMax but your business as a whole.

HootSuite: HootSuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc.) from one secure, web-based dashboard. Launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audiences, and distribute targeted messages using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard.

Moo: MOO is an award-winning online print business that helps our customers print things like Business Cards, Postcards and MiniCards, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Appointment Plus: All-in-One Online Scheduling Software provides customizable software to help businesses with all of their scheduling needs.

Zazzle: Personalized Items and trinkets, great for giveaways or brand recognition in your community and business field.

For more information click on the links above or visit the Marketing Section of your website to see if they can add value to your business and your website!

Customer Retention for Online Businesses

bxp126429m1

Running an online business is, in many ways, similar to running a business with a physical storefront. However, it’s not always obvious how customer retention techniques from the “real world” can be utilized on the web. As a shopper, often the biggest reason I return to a store is because of a great experience with a sales representative. I know I’m going to get the same great service that I got last time, so I don’t even think about going anywhere else. With an online business, your website is your sales representative – so how can you give your customers an experience that will make them want to come back? Here are a few ways you can get your hard-earned visitors to return for a second or third visit.

Be Personable
Authenticity and integrity are what everyone wants when they’re shopping. What’s the hallmark of a lousy, underhanded salesman? Jargon, exaggerated claims, and deceptive practices can turn your enthusiastic shopper into someone else’s enthusaistic shopper. So how can we be personable and trustworthy online?

Everyone craves a personal experience no matter how they’re shopping. When writing about your products or your company, try to cut down on jargon and provide the necessary information in a concise manner. Smashing Magazine has a fantastic article on some common copywriting blunders that we highly recommend checking out.

Another great way to be personable with your customers is pretty obvious: put yourself out there! Many customers are still concerned about the safety of buying purchases online, and seeing that a website is run and maintained by a real person just like them will do wonders to ease their distress. A personal story, a photo of yourself and your staff, or simply utilizing an informal, casual tone when writing your copy will endear you to your visitors and turn them into customers.

Update Your Content
The concept here is pretty straight forward: if I decide to take a peek at the website I previously looked at or purchased from a few months ago, and the website looks exactly the same, what incentive do I have to dig through and see what might be new since last time?

This doesn’t have to be a huge overhaul of your website every few months, but something as simple as a refreshed home page is often enough to catch the attention of a returning visitor. If you’ve got new products, show them off! Having a sale? Your visitors should know about it! Gone above and beyond for a customer? Get a glowing testimonial and slap it right on the home page where everyone can see it! Your home page is by far the best place to focus on if you’re updating content, but fresh content everywhere is a recipe for success.

Even if you don’t have anything new to show off, update your content to showcase different things or emphasize different benefits of your product or service. All you need to do is catch their eye, and their curiosity will take care of the rest.

Utilize Social Media
It seems like the whole world is on Facebook and Twitter. If you and your business are not, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for what is essentially free advertising to a captive audience.

Think of it this way: if I’m a web-savvy customer (and these days, everyone is) and I like what I see on your website – whether I buy anything or not – there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to check out your Facebook or Twitter page. If I “Like” your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, I’ve now essentially signed up for you to advertise to me at your leisure, at no additional cost to you.

That’s not to say that you should bombard your Facebook friends and Twitter followers with advertisements, but when you have a new product to announce or are throwing a big sale, who better to get the word out to than people who are already interested in your products? Furthermore, your customers are one click away from sharing your posts with all of their own friends or followers. Now that’s word-of-mouth!

Customer Service is King
We could write a whole post about how customer service can affect your business, but let’s focus on two important concepts: make it easy for your customers to contact you, and underpromise/overdeliver.

Communication is critical for anyone making an online purchase. Sometimes, even if your website is rich with info about your products, a customer may have a question. Your customers will come up with things to ask that you never even dreamed of! Providing an email contact form that’s easy to find, at the bare minimum, ensures that no question goes unanswered. If you have the resources to offer more direct service, such as a phone number, go for it – your customers will thank you. Ensuring you reply as promptly as possible goes a long way to making your customers feel good about their decision to buy from you.

Simple communication is paramount to the post-purchase process as well. From shipping questions to feedback or support, your customers will want an easy way to get a hold of you once they’ve made a purchase. Be there for them when they need it, and they’ll be back.

The concept of underpromise/overdeliver is one that’s been around for as long as the sales and service industry has existed. The idea is simple: by carefully managing your customer’s expectations, you’ve set yourself to blow your customer away with a great product, great service, and great support. When you consider the alternative – failing to live up to the expectations you’ve set for yourself – your customers walk away feeling lied to. A classic bad example is your local telecom company; many of them offer great discounts or free bonuses up front to mask hidden fees or unexplained charges

So how do you do this? The number one rule is be honest. Never make claims you our your product can’t back up – it’s that simple. The second rule is to manage expectations. If your shipping takes five days, but your website quoted a ten-day delivery, they’ll be ecstatic when it shows up in six — and that’s one day longer than it was supposed to take! They got their product four days earlier than they were expecting, and they’re thrilled.

If you can give customers more than what they expect on a consistent basis, you’ll start building a loyal base of clients who will be back often.

4 Common Design Mistakes

Posted June 19th, 2012 in Selling Online, Website Design by Sean

When building your website, there are a few simple things to keep in mind that can drastically improve the quality of your online presence. Today’s web viewers are fickle and move fast, and if your site makes one of these common design mistakes, you might lose a potential customer.

Background Blunders

Using patterns or textures is a fantastic way to make your website seem alive. A solid color background with a contrasting color font is the go-to as you can never go wrong with keeping it simple. But, nowadays, designers around the world are revolutionizing the use of textures in web design by taking the previously sterile world of web design and introducing textures that we’re familiar with in our day-to-day lives. Wood grain, linen, paper, leather, and metal are finding their way from our homes and our possessions onto the websites we visit. When used properly, they can inject a tremendous amount of life and familiarity into a design and can help your website stand out against the rest.

However, variation in textures and patterns is also dangerous because it’s easy to overdo. Bold, colorful backgrounds often distract from the content, and even worse, if used behind the body of your website, they can make your text difficult to read. That can turn into a lost visitor. In general, high-contrast backgrounds that use more than one distinct color are usually unfit for a website background.

Here are a few examples of background choices gone wrong. The backgrounds themselves are not fundamentally flawed – I chose images and patterns that were nice on their own – but if they don’t play nice with your text, or draw the eye away from your content, your site will drive visitors away.

example1

example2

Now for a few examples of a good use of texture. These examples use simple, subtle patterns to breathe some life into the design while keeping the text legible. They don’t use bold colors, and look good with a wide variety of text colors, which means you can switch things up in your headers or titles on your page to draw the eye of the visitor.

example3

example4

Bold backgrounds can be very effective and striking when used properly – that is, with your text placed on a contrasting, solid color background or simple texture.

example5

Not Enough White Space

Just like harsh background choices can cause a visitor to close your site quicker than you intended, hitting your customer with a wall of text, an erratic layout or a strange content structure will make a mess of your first and only opportunity to keep your visitors on your site.

Instead, make sure your content is organized in a way that makes it clear where the visitor should look. Only put emphasis on the most important points. On the Internet, a cluttered page will feel daunting to read so remember to use white space to break up content into easy to read chunks.

I like to use Apple.com as a perfect example of a beautiful, clean home page:

appleexample

Apple uses descriptive text, beautiful product photography (always a huge plus!) and an extremely simple layout.

Unreadable Fonts

Fonts come in two basic types: serif and sans-serif. The word ‘serif’ refers to the decorative lines and strokes attached to characters, and of course, ‘sans-serif’ refers to those characters without those decorative strokes. Here are some examples of serif vs sans-serif fonts:

fontexample

Serif fonts tend to look more distinct and are sometimes easier to read, which is why they’ve been used for years in print – books and newspapers historically use serif fonts almost exclusively. They tend to give off an air of quality, personality, warmth, and intellect. If you’re going for a professional, classic feel, a serif font like Times New Roman or Georgia is a great choice.

Sans-serif fonts are missing the traditional decorate strokes of serif fonts, but they are often better suited for computer screens. Compared to a serif font, sans-serifs look clean, crisp, cool, minimalist and modern. A simple sans-serif like Arial or Verdana is familiar and looks great.

There are a few font no-nos out there that are good to stay away from. Any fonts that may be difficult to read like scripts, comic fonts, handwritten fonts and bubble letters can distract from your website copy. It’s important to remember that the visitors to your site could be absolutely anyone, with any computer screen or mobile device, at any resolution. And let’s not forget those with less than perfect eyesight. If your fonts are tough to read, your text won’t get read – it’s that simple. Some common culprits of this include Comic Sans MS, Papyrus, and Bradley Hand ITC. If you absolutely must use them, keep them to page headers or graphics and leave your body text in a simpler and much easier to read serif or sans-serif font.

fontexample2

Autoplay Music or Video

I don’t know about you, but I know when I stumble across a website and it starts making noise at me, I frantically dig through my open windows, find the culprit, and close it immediately. I think many web users can probably say the same. Multi-tasking on the web is the new standard, and it’s common for users to have several websites open at once, all while checking email, instant messaging, listening to music, and watching a video. If your site auto-plays music and your visitor already has their own music playing, guess which one probably wins?

The same goes for YouTube and other embedded videos. It’s tempting to have your video roll immediately when your site is opened, but consider this: what if your unsuspecting visitor has their speakers cranked to 10 from the last video they watched? You might scare them out of their chair if they weren’t expecting it, especially if they’ve opened your site in a new window or tab they haven’t looked at yet. Not a great first impression.

Always let your user choose to play content on your site. Place it in an easily accessible way, draw attention to it if you must, but don’t auto-play it. It’s the website equivalent of a pushy salesman pouncing on you the moment you walk through the front door of a store.

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways to make your website stand out, but the best way to build your website is to think like your visitors. No doubt you are a visitor to many websites yourself, so put yourself in those same shoes when you are building your site. What kind of things do you like and dislike when visiting websites and shopping online? What kinds of things draw you in and make you want to read more? What kinds of things send you running from your browser as soon as you see them? Building a website is all about your visitors and providing them the best possible experience – and if you can make a sale in the process, even better. A good website is like a good retail store: clean, organized, inviting, and easy to navigate. Following some of our tips can get you well on the way to success on the web!

New Partnership with Online Marketing Company Nightlite Media

New partnership with CityMax.com

New CityMax.com partner

We are excited to announce that CityMax has partnered with Nightlite Media.

One of the most asked questions we get is: “How do I get visitors to my site?” Nightlite Media are experts at helping people successfully draw visitors to their sites using:

  • search engine optimization (i.e. getting your sites ranked highly on search engines like Google)
  • social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook)
  • email marketing

We know it’s sometimes difficult to learn and then find the time to promote your site. The reality is that for many of you, getting a company to help you is the best choice. So, our marketing team searched out the best of the best online marketing companies and then put together custom packages we thought made the most sense for our customers. Check out the special packages here.

How important is it to get your online marketing started? Here are some facts that Nightlite Media has put together:

  • 97% of potential customers are searching online first
  • 61 billion online searches were made in August 2010 alone
  • 77% of North Americans are online (that’s a huge 266 million people!)

You can contact Nighlite Media for a 100% free consultation by going to http://websitedynamics.nightlitemedia.com or by calling 1-888- 418-3839. Why not jumpstart your online marketing today!

Should You Move Your Blog or Not?

Have you ever thought about moving your blog from one host to another, but were afraid of what might happen to your search engine ranking?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Cindy of Double Dragon Jewelry Ltd. is deciding that exact scenario. She’s debating whether to move her new blog from BlogSpot.com (one of the most popular blogging software programs) to one that will allow her to keep her blog as part of her jewelry website.

Just to make this clear, her jewelry is being sold on:

silverjewelry-sterling.com

Her blog is currently at:

doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com/

Her web host, i.e. CityMax which is us, has added a blogging option so she could have her blog on:

silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html

If Cindy moved her blog to silverjewelry-sterling.com, she would have to weigh the following:

1. Potential to improve the rank of silverjewelry-sterling.com

Having her blog on her CityMax site will do 3 things that may increase her search engine rank for silverjewelry-sterling.com. First, every blog post is new content on her site. The more often you update your site, the more often search engines will re-index it (i.e. check out your site to see what new info is posted so their links are up to date) and rank your site higher.

Second, each blog post Cindy does will hopefully result in more links to silverjewelry-sterling.com because people like her posts. Each link or “vote” helps your search engine ranking. If a website with a high search engine rank links to your page, this is even better. Their “vote” for your site is actually worth several votes.

Third, each time Cindy posts a new article, this will result in a new page that can be linked to from the search engines to her site. This in turn will mean more opportunities to draw people to her site. The more people who visit her site, the higher her website ranking will be.

2. Cannot take search engine rank of doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com to new blog

If Cindy already has a good rank for doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com,she cannot transfer that rank directly to her new blog pages. This is because her blog is moving to a different domain. The search engines will recognize this change as doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com has shut down and then when they index her blog on silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html, they will recognize this as a new blog.

3. Beware of duplicate content as it can get your site delisted temporarily

If Cindy plans to move over articles she posted on doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com to silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html, she could get silverjewelry-sterling.com delisted temporarily. The reason is search engines don’t like duplicate content or even very similar content. It looks like someone who isn’t an authority on a topic, just copied someone else’s content. Everything is automated too, you cannot tell Google: “Hey, I just moved my blog to ______.”

Cindy may want to only post new articles on her silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html blog at first and not copy over any of her old articles. After her old blog has been closed for a considerable amount of time (many months) such that the old page content is no longer indexed on search engines, she can then repost the articles.

4. Potential to increase sales on silverjewelry-sterling.com

Cindy is likely to get more people to click to other parts of silverjewelry-sterling.com since her website navigation will be right beside her blog posts. This may result in greater sales. Note that if she didn’t move her blog over, you could argue that she could simply have a link to her jewelry online store.

5. Functionality and Convenience

Cindy needs to weigh the functionality of the 2 blogs. To BlogSpot’s credit, they have had many years to develop their site and blogs are their primary focus. CityMax is an all-in-one website builder and must balance the benefits of developing the blog further against other features that are requested. When it comes to convenience, Cindy may like that she can manage everything on CityMax instead of having to monitor 2 websites.

If anyone has any other reasons to move or not move a blog, please post them in the comments.

Have You Defined Your Target Market?

Posted May 16th, 2011 in Online Marketing, Selling Online, Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by jronaldlee

Image by jronaldlee

Do you find yourself saying any of the following statements?

“I want to sell to everybody.”

“Everybody can benefit from my product/service.”

“I want to cast a wide net – everyone should know about us.”

If so, I want to give you a high five for your enthusiasm – but I also want you to read the rest of this article so you understand why your marketing consultant looks really uncomfortable when you say any of the above.

The world would be a wonderful place if everyone was the perfect candidate for your product or service. But the truth of the matter is, we’re all different. We all have different wants, needs, tolerances, and preferences. We’re all drawn to different things and we’re all trying to solve different problems. Which is why when you try to sell to everyone, you end up wasting a lot of time, energy, and money on people that are never going to spend money on you.

Continue Reading »

The Best Office In The World

Posted May 2nd, 2011 in Selling Online by Patrick

We’re moving! Tomorrow we’ll be saying goodbye to our legendary office of the last two years, and joining our friends at MeZine Inc. (our parent company). It’s been a magical time, and as this is my last day with CityMax.com, I thought a little retrospective of our highlights in our Gastown office would be fitting.

From having two office dogs, to street hockey and yoga, to hosting 300+ entrepreneurs and City Council for Spirit Day, to even having an Alaskan king crab run around – it’s been an amazing place. Check out the videos/pics if you don’t believe me.

Shaw TV Feature

Continue Reading »

5 Tips for the Newbie CityMax.com User

Posted April 21st, 2011 in Getting Visitors, Introduction, Selling Online, Website Builder Features by Justine

So, it’s my first week here at CityMax.com, and as a dedicated web coach one of my first assignments was to dive right into the easy business website builder. After getting used to making my way around the application and understanding how to take advantage of all the tools available, I’ve found five helpful tips for the newbie CityMax.com user!

1. The “Edit Site” tab will always be your go-to button.

When you sign up for your free 10 day trial, or if you’ve just made your website active, the “Edit Site” tab when you login on the top left beside the “Dashboard” tab is the most important tab for navigating your website. This tab will have five helpful sub-tabs: View Site, My Pages, Add Page, Design, and Domain & E-mail. You will be able to access all your pages here (under “My Pages”), as well as change and customize your template (Under “Design”). This is the best place to keep your website organized.

Continue Reading »

CityMax.com has been featured in...