5 Tips for Developing a Company Marketing Plan

5 Tips for Developing a Company Marketing Plan

The thought of developing a company marketing plan can seem daunting, especially for small and medium sized businesses without a dedicated marketing or communications department.
However, marketing is a crucial part of sustaining and growing a business and should never be an afterthought or a reactionary measure.

Having a strong marketing plan with measurable goals, clear strategies, and a built-in evaluation process will take dedication up front but can save your company time and money in the long run. Here are five tips for developing a marketing plan for your company.

  1. Create an executive summary
    It’s hard to know how a marketing plan fits into your overall mix of company activities unless you know what they all are. As a Business News Daily article recommends, “Marketing campaigns should not be considered individual functions. Marketing is the story of your brand as told to customers; like any narrative, its tone and characters should remain consistent. An executive summary details your marketing goals for the next year and helps tie each campaign together.”
    By creating this high-level, overarching summary, you will be better able to ensure your day-to-day marketing efforts align with your company vision and direction.
  2. Set SMART goals
    When you’re talking about SMART goals, you’re not just talking about a synonym for intelligent. SMART, in this case, is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-driven — meaning that you’re not just saying you’d like to be better or greater, but you’re setting a specific window of time in which you accomplish a goal you can measure numerically, that is within your reach, and defined. It’s helpful to make your goals SMART goals, because it allows you to track your progress and have a specific target and window of time for achieving your goal. Whether that’s a target goal concerning customers and leads, or just getting a project like an new, improved website done within a specific time, SMART goals will help get you there.
  3. Identify your target audience
    Not every company can be all things to all people. When you’re looking to create a marketing plan, you want to make sure you have a target audience in mind. As AllBusiness reminds marketers, “A marketing campaign may be good but off target, rendering it ineffective for its intended purpose.” Hitting the target market effectively is the true indicator of how well marketing budgets were spent, so it’s important to evaluate if you’re too broad or too narrow in your marketing so you can adjust accordingly. That means that while the message you go with is essential, the medium is also worth evaluating.
  4. Define your competitors
    Your company won’t be marketing in a vacuum. To create an effective marketing plan, you need to know your competitors and how they’re marketing to the same target customers you might be looking to reach. Business News Daily advises, “Small business personnel seldom take the time to study their competitors in depth or pinpoint companies outside their industry that are just as capable of luring customers away. Knowing who your competitors are, their core competitive advantages, and how they might respond to your offerings – like price cuts or increased communication – helps you devise strategies to combat such losses.”
  5. Don’t be afraid to change it up
    While it’s important to evaluate your marketing plan to gauge its effectiveness, you also want to make sure that you have the flexibility to change what you’re doing and how you’re marketing if you do determine it’s not as effective as you’d like it to be. That means that a marketing plan shouldn’t be a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of exercise. Ingrained in your plan there should be regular check-ins and evaluations so that you can assess progress and identify next steps.
    How much, and how many people that process involves, is totally up to you, but it should be robust enough to allow for whatever change is needed.
What to Look for in an Austin Web Development Company

What to Look for in an Austin Web Development Company

If you own a business, your website is your best salesperson, working for you 24/7, 365 days a year. In today’s digital age, it is becoming almost impossible to run a company without a website. More than 70 percent of small businesses have websites—up from 50 percent in 2018. 

Choosing the right team to create your website is just as important as hiring the right staff and creating the right product. Websites function as the cornerstone of your digital presence, affecting marketing, brand reputation, lead generation, revenue, and growth. That’s why it’s critical to hire the best developer—especially in Austin. As one of the fastest growing tech hubs, Austin is replete with coders, developers, and digital experts. However, not all web developers are created equal. Here are five tips if you are looking to hire an Austin web developer to build your website. 

    1. Make sure you’re getting a combination of web designer and web developer. Web designers specialize in the visuals of a website—how it looks, branding and logos, etc. Web developers are more concerned with how a website works—coding, the ability to click on links, designing that important CMS system. Once, getting a website built meant hiring a separate designer and developer to handle the front and back end. Nowadays, reputable web design companies should offer both. An Austin web design company that only makes websites look good is a waste of money.
    2. Choose a web developer experienced in mobile. About half of all web traffic originates from mobile devices, such as a phone or tablet. That’s why many businesses are opting for mobile-first design, which prioritizes the needs and preferences of the mobile user. When searching for the best Austin web developer, look for an agency that specializes in mobile design and development. 
    3. Ask about user experience design. User experience (UX) design in web development means thinking through what a website visitor’s experience will be like when they land on your page. Is the navigation menu easy to use? Is the flow of the content and design intuitive? Can visitors get the information they need? Do pages load quickly? A good web developer will have a solid UX strategy and be able to tell you how they will make the user experience on your website simple and effective. 
    4. Make sure you will have full ownership. Some out-of-the box, template-based websites are difficult to customize and may give you limited control or ownership over your website. Before you hire a web development company, talk with them about what the process will look like after your site is launched. Will you be able to make updates and edits? Will you fully own the content so that you can transfer it to another hosting provider or website if you choose to rebrand or go a different direction? 
    5. Know What You Want. Before finding someone to develop your company website, you have to know what you want that website to look and feel like. Spend some time looking at websites you like, and figure out why you like them—do you want something highly visual and interactive, or more minimal? Do you expect to edit content, or plan on only the occasional redevelopment?  Knowing what you specifically want will help you screen potential web developers—and streamline the process of getting it. 

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of the digital strategists at ATX Web Designs by clicking here.

Why Prioritizing User Experience is Critical for Your Business

Why Prioritizing User Experience is Critical for Your Business

If you’ve read anything about web design or digital marketing, you’ve probably seen the term “User Experience Design.” In today’s digital world, User Experience Design, or UX Design, is critical for engaging audiences online and getting potential customers to buy into your digital brand. No matter what your industry, considering your end user, their pain points, and their experience is the best way to grow your business. 

What is UX Design?

User Experience Design is an umbrella term that includes the ideas of User Interface Design and Usability. A UX designer is concerned with more than that, though — they must think about the entire process of creating, acquiring, and including a product or service in a person’s life. It includes aspects of usability, design, branding, and function. The User Experience Design story starts long before the product ends up in the user’s hands. 

Is UX Design just about a physical product?

No. User Experience is about what users think, and it’s also about what they feel.  Since humans are emotional and rational at the same time, both sides of this coin play big roles in how users think about your brand. Additionally, a good part of the user experience depends on the context the product is used in. Therefore, UX designers must understand that context, and the role that the product will play in the lives of its users. Furthermore, a user’s experience can easily change over time. They might have mixed feelings about your product as they start to use it, but they might change their minds as they become more familiar with it. 

What is an example of a brand with great UX Design?  

Brands that offer a great user experience are designed with not only the ultimate use of the product in mind, but all aspects of ownership are considered. One great example is Apple products. The UX designers for Apple don’t focus only on creating products that can be used — they also consider efficiency, pleasure, and even the fun that can be had with a device. The user experience on Apple’s website mimics the experience a user has walking into an Apple brick-and-mortar store. By creating this brand consistency and ease of use, Apple has grown into arguably one of the most prominent brands worldwide. 

How does UX Design relate to digital marketing?

When used in the context of web design and digital marketing, UX design refers to how your brand comes across online. This includes your website, your social media accounts, your online ads, your email marketing, and any virtual tools you use to communicate with your clients. By thinking through the entire customer journey, you can ensure your users have a consistent, cohesive and enjoyable experience interacting with your brand online. This will not only help build your brand reputation, but will result in more leads, sales and referrals. 

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of the digital strategists at ATX Web Designs by clicking here 

The Biggest Business Tech Trends to Watch Out for in 2022

The Biggest Business Tech Trends to Watch Out for in 2022

It’s no secret that the COVID pandemic has increased businesses’ dependence on technology. During the Spring of 2020, more than one third of U.S. employees were working from home, and there was a massive increase in digital business tools like video conferencing platforms, e-signature software, and virtual communication systems. 

Now, as we enter the third year of the pandemic, both companies and consumers have higher standards and expectations when it comes to how technology is integrated into day-to-day business processes. 

Here are the biggest business tech trends to look out for in 2022:

  1. Companies will race each other into the “metaverse.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, people will soon be frequently hanging out inside of virtual reality. In 2022, the large tech companies will contest each other for slices of the emerging market. With different hardware offering different experiences, the theoretical shared space of the metaverse will be fragmented at first. There will be a proliferation of headsets, operating systems, and interface devices for PCs, smartphones, and perhaps even gaming consoles. Any company developing software for the metaverse must make sure their products play nicely with others.
  2. Work-from-home becomes work-from-anywhere. According to Business Insider, the momentum we’ve established in the lockdown years has proven helpful for distributing the workforce.  In the near future, though, companies and people alike will do much of their thinking outside the office—and beyond it. And as we work outside the traditional office—which is fast becoming a hub for collaboration—technology will play a crucial role in creating opportunities that will transform the way we work.   For example, Artificial Intelligence will play a greater role. So will Augmented Reality, which can create a workspace in which employees can immerse themselves — not unlike a traditional office.
  3. Robotics becomes more important.  Many industries have been hit hard by the pandemic. Agriculture, warehousing, health care, and supply chain management sectors will benefit greatly from the introduction of improved robotic technology, according to Inc. Magazine. Robots and automation also offer a way to keep businesses working while keeping employees socially distanced, especially in the industries of warehousing, logistics, and supermarkets. Robots free humans from doing repetitive, boring tasks, and enable them to focus on more interesting work.  
  4. Smart Homes will work even better. Right now, it’s not hard to find a plethora of smart thermostats and intelligent light bulbs. What is hard to find is the stuff that works with the products you already have. But several big tech companies, such as Samsung, Apple, Google, and Amazon are collaborating on a new smart home standard they’ve named Matter. Matter is an underlying layer that promises to connect all the smart home gadgets you have in such a way that they all play nice with each other, no matter who made them — or how you want to interact with them.
  5. Biometric data will be more widely used. Data from our bodies, or biometric data, will be used to diagnose, prevent, and treat more health disorders in 2022.  It’s easy to obtain a wide array of health-oriented wearables, or gadgets that measure how well the different parts of our bodies work—heart function, lung capacity, sleep patterns, calories burned, and even the toxins in your sweat. This year, you might use a ring or a bracelet to collect data about how your body functions. The trick will be to find ways for overworked medical professionals to easily parse this data, as well as to find ways of protecting it.  Existing medical privacy laws such as HIPAA were conceived long before wearables were a thing, so expect this to change as well.  

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of the digital strategists at ATX Web Designs by clicking here.

Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes When Hiring a Web Designer

Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes When Hiring a Web Designer

It’s no secret that in today’s digital-first world, a company needs an engaging and intuitive website to attract new clients and customers. Demand for web designers and web developers is at an all-time high as businesses upgrade their online brands in order to keep up with evolving trends and stay competitive in their industries.

But with so many web design companies to choose from, how should a business owner decide who to entrust with developing their website and digital branding? Last month, we published a blog post with five tips for hiring a web design company. Today, we will discuss five mistakes to avoid.

    1. Don’t Settle For Ultra-Cheap Rates—Or Stumble Into Hidden Fees. The price for a good web development company can run into the thousands of dollars, and that kind of sticker shock can make companies that offer bargain rates look extra attractive. But remember: you get what you pay for. Cheap web design often means cheap, barebones websites. If you want specific functions, you’ll likely have to pay extra—and can easily end up spending more than you would have if you’d just gone with someone reputable but more expensive.
    2. Don’t Ignore the Fine Print. To avoid up-sells and unexpected costs, be extremely clear about your requirements. Get as many details as possible before signing anything. The more detailed the designer, the more likely they are to be conscientious in their design work. Communicating clearly about your needs is a good way to avoid trouble.
    3. Don’t Set Your Design in Stone. Some websites are “hard-coded,” meaning that every aspect of them—graphics, copy, menus—is set in stone by the web design company. Avoid this when possible. As your company evolves and you decide to add more content and functionality to your site, you want a website that can change and grow with you.
    4. Don’t Forget Mobile. Most individuals will visit your company website from their phone as opposed to a desktop computer. Make sure that any web design company you hire knows how to make a website responsive, i.e, designed to be displayed well on smartphones and tablets. There’s nothing worse than clicking onto a desktop website with your smartphone—and given that most customers use them, make sure you’re prepared.
    5. Don’t Separate Design and Development. Web designers specialize in the visuals of a website—how it looks, branding and logos, etc. Web developers are more concerned with how a website works—coding, the ability to click on links, designing that important CMS system. Once, getting a website built meant hiring a separate designer and developer to handle the front and back end. Nowadays, reputable web design companies should offer both. A web design company that only makes websites look good is a waste of money.

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of the digital strategists at ATX Web Designs by clicking here.