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How to Retain Customers with Product Services

How to Retain Customers with Product Services

How to Retain Customers with Product Services

So many companies only focus on signing new customers. They offer special rates and sign-up discounts or spend thousands on marketing. However, the real profit comes from customer retention. Why pay more money to focus on new clients when you already have a customer base. Useful tools like product services and simply building brand loyalty go a long way to retain customers. 

Let’s look at it this way. Is it easier to ask a friend out to lunch or grab someone off the street? Obviously, you have a better chance of bringing your friend. Customers are no different. You have a much better chance of making a sale to someone you already know than qualifying a new lead.

Think of the work going into new clients. You have to market the product, generate leads, move through a sales funnel, and negotiate the sale. Each step costs time and money. Retaining current clients costs much less, and the more effort you put into retention, the more likely you are to gain referral business.

Fortunately, there are several ways to focus on customer retention without sacrificing your efforts to sign new customers. 

 

Build Loyalty

First and foremost, sell an excellent product. A good salesperson can sell almost anything, but customers jump to another company with a better offering if the product is sub-par. Selling a premier product builds trust with your brand. Loyalty is incredibly powerful for businesses. It’s what keeps customers with you even if there’s a cheaper option. 

Part of building loyalty is creating a relationship with your customers. Coupons and occasional discounts go a long way to remind your client base you care about their business. Newsletters and updates let them know what you’re up to and what they can expect in the future. 

Newsletters and coupons can only go so far. No matter how good your relationship is with your customers, they have to be happy with the product.

 

Product Services

Product services, or product service system, is a way to reshape a product and turn it into a service. Here’s an example: in the past, you could rent a movie and have to return it two days later. You paid a fee for those two days, and then you were done with the rental store. Along comes Netflix. Like with the rental store, Netflix retained ownership of the “product” but offered unlimited rentals for a monthly service fee. Sorry, Blockbuster. 

Let’s try another one. Spotify knows that selling a CD is a one-time purchase, and the seller loses ownership of the CD. Instead, Spotify provides access to the same CD any time a user wants to listen to it for one monthly fee of roughly the same price. However, users get access to that CD and millions of other songs. Which is better, 12 CDs per year or unlimited music all the time for the same price? Sorry, SamGoody.

The core idea of a product service is to retain ownership of the product while still providing the same outcome. You can mimic the same strategy. For example, you can create a database of online courses and sell a subscription allowing users to take as many as they want. Now, rather than buying the one-time class (product), customers can have unlimited access to all of your classes (service), and they’re more likely to stay with you. Turning an end product into an ongoing service can be a vital stepping stone to a successful company.

 

Customer Service

Customer service is how your clients stay happy. Provide excellent service, and your clientele will remain content and loyal. Think of all the times you’ve been frustrated with a product, so you call or email the business for help, and no one answers. Poor service is one of the top reasons customers leave. Hopefully, your customers aren’t calling in too often to complain, but if they do, have an effective system in place to handle issues.

Customer service is more than just reacting to issues, however. Businesses who can be proactive with their customers tend to build more loyalty and create more long-lasting relationships. Rather than waiting on a problem to come up, companies can reach out and offer new products and services at an intimate level.

Excellent service starts with taking the time to put a plan in place and find the right people to work with your customers. Strategies on proactive customer service include things like personal phone calls or weekly newsletters. Luckily, you can automate these strategies, so you get to set up shop and go back to progressing your business.

 

Relationship Equals Retention

From building loyalty to providing customer service to utilizing technical tools, retention requires hard work. Retention strategies come in many different shapes, and each business needs a different plan. You know your business better than anyone, so figure out how best to build your relationships. Do your customers expect a friendly, personal phone call? Does your enterprise rely on online communication to touch as many customers as possible? What strategy makes the most financial sense for you (keep labor costs in mind!)? 

There is no single right answer, but you can get some help. A significant part of utilizing a business and marketing suite is creating a strategy to generate contact lists and reach your current customers. Their professional expertise helps map out strategies that work in your industry, and as a team, they can build your solution for you. 

Building relationships with your customers is crucial to your company’s success, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Understand the strategies and tools in front of you, so you can become more productive without sacrificing your need to generate new customers.

 

Hang on to your customers.

Product services and brand loyalty are incredibly effective ways to retain customers, but you need to take the care and effort to make them quality aspects of your business. Anyone can make a sale, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get repeat customers. 

Your website can handle everything for you. Staying in touch with customers is vital, but email marketing services on your site can help by sending coupons or newsletters. Automated appointment features let your customers pick times to meet, so you never have scheduling conflicts. build a database of online courses establishing your expertise in the market and creating a new subscription-based product.

Shamrck lets you do it all in one place. It’s a complete website and business management suite to give you everything you need to retain customers, create new products, and work new leads. Maintaining a successful business goes well beyond making sales. You need to keep current customers, but you don’t have to do it alone. Use Shamrck to help make your company succeed. 

 

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9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

Every year, thousands of small businesses open, and thousands of small businesses fail. Building a successful business is much more challenging than most people imagine. Without doing the right research, people have no idea how much work goes into every facet of a business. From marketing to overhead to employees, running a company can consume every bit of your time. 

The challenge is daunting but not impossible. For every business that fails, another thrives. The question is, how can you make sure yours is the latter?

We want to only look at the fun sides of operations. You make your schedule and all the decisions. Every new sale or new customer feels like a cause for champagne. Success means watching the company bank account grow. 

However, we need to have perspective. How are you protecting yourself legally? You need to know exactly how much money you’re making, as well as how much you’re making. Are you innovating? Your competitors are. What is your strategy for customer retention? Launching a company is more than having a good idea. It’s a living being that requires your attention or else it won’t last.

Here are nine reasons why small businesses fail.

1. The Market Is Too Small

Finding a niche is one thing. Being too narrow is destructive. Markets can dry up with any shift in the economy or unforeseen circumstances. Your company can’t be so focused that it shuts down if one segment of the market disappears. No one can see the future, but you can plan for it. 

By making sure you stay agile and versatile, you guarantee that you can weather any storms (as best you can). Businesses need to find identifiable segments of the market to target and be broad enough to appeal to all of them. If one segment shifts, you need to be ready to move to another. Just like we’ll talk about later, market targeting comes down to research.

2. Bad Management

Being a successful manager is challenging under any circumstances. Managing every aspect of your business, including hiring and managing employees, presents an incredibly difficult challenge. Many business owners are not familiar with managing purchasing, bookkeeping, employment, office space, and everything else. We always want to think a good manager is good at delegation, but that’s not always true. 

Delegating tasks to the wrong people can run your business into the ground faster than anything you can do on your own. The most critical problem facing business owners is identifying when their employees are making poor decisions. Unfortunately, sinking everything you have into your business means there’s not much of a learning curve. You either sink or swim. That added pressure means putting proper management at the forefront of your business plan. Will you manage everything yourself? Are there ways to outsource some of your tasks? Where are the opportunities to protect yourself?

Worse than poor delegation is merely a dereliction of duty. Getting spread too thin and overlooking vital operations can also destroy your business, possibly before you even start. Be sure you are up to the challenge, and when it does become time to hire employees to help, be a good leader. Inspire your employees to do their best work, and take advantage of excellent staff.

3. Opening For The Wrong Reasons

Write down the reasons you want to open a new business. Is it just to make your own hours or be your own boss? Do you just think it’s an excellent way to make money? Discover the “why” buried deep within your business plan. If you can’t identify a reason you’re passionate about, the chances your business will succeed sink. You need a passion for what you do, or you can become bored or disinterested, and the company will fail.

Ask yourself some simple questions.

-Why do you want to open a business?

-Where do your passions come from?

-Are you driven enough to put in the hours?

-Can you learn from your mistakes and improve?

-Are you determined to make this company successful?

When you feel confident that your answers point in the right direction, you’ll be ready to start a successful business.

4. Not Enough Money

Not only does starting a business require a lot of time and effort, but it also requires a lot of capital. Many companies can’t make ends meet only a short time after they open. Poor planning is typically to blame, so remember to budget for all of your needs.

Make fundraising a core component of your business plan. Remember, there are options for capital other than your wallet. Investment firms, banks, and Small Business Association (SBA) loans are all alternatives to investing everything you have. 

Start with consultations. Many small business owners don’t fully understand all of the costs involved in opening and maintaining a business. If you’re unsure about what to expect, try the SBA startup calculator. Not planning for all expenses can be devastating. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

5. No Business Plan

Speaking of setting yourself up for failure, make a plan! You need a business plan. Dedication and hard work only go so far. This opportunity is where you flesh out all the details of your launch. If you don’t know where to start, you can find samples and templates all over the internet. You’ll need some guidance, but ultimately, you need to do the research and fill out the details. 

Here are some key elements to include.

-A Mission Statement: What does your business do, and what are your goals?

-Market Analysis: Identify challenges and opportunities within your target market.

-Competitive Analysis: Who are your competitors? What can you offer that they don’t?

-Finances: How much startup capital do you need? List all financial information, including all costs and expected income. 

-Remember to include everything from infrastructure to taxes to marketing.

Budget: After you list your financial details, create a budget accounting for everything, and always try to be conservative with your expectations.

Business plans need to be extensive. You need to address every detail of your business launch and operations, or you may be setting yourself up for failure.

6. Marketing

Obviously, web-based businesses require a detailed, well-designed website, but every business needs an online presence in today’s market. Websites are a necessity, and a poorly designed site can make your business look unprofessional. Marketing starts with creating an attractive website that engages customers. 

Step two is getting customers to visit your website. This step is where social media is essential. You may be able to get by without a social media presence, but you’re already behind your competitors. The great thing about social media is the price tag. You can create accounts on almost any social media platform for free, and millions of people traffic Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter daily. Each one is an opportunity.

Another critical aspect of social media is the paid advertising side. Yes, accounts are free, but directing customers to your social media accounts can be challenging to do organically. Facebook and Twitter offer reasonable prices to help you reach thousands of people. 

Without some marketing modicum, your business can stay invisible and fail before you have a chance to be successful.

7. Too Much Ambition

Typically, ambition is a virtue in the business world, but you can quickly outgrow your budget and over-extend yourself. Slow and steady growth is the key to success. An extremely memorable example is the Borders Bookstore franchise. By wildly expanding in the ’90s and 2000s, Borders failed to plan for a future being shaped by online stores. By the time online retailers like Amazon took over the market’s lion share, Borders was stretched too thin to survive. They declared bankruptcy in 2011.

Their biggest fault was equating growth with success. The ability to expand doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to do so. Remember your business plan. Hopefully, you included five and ten-year outlooks to try to foresee potential challenges. This kind of planning helps you be more conservative before deciding to expand too much. You want your small business to grow into a large company. Just don’t get too impatient!

8. Customer Diversification

Having a cornerstone customer is excellent, but relying too much on one customer is risky. We discussed making sure you can reach different segments of the market. You need to diversify your customer base so that you can absorb any large-scale losses. Try to go after a smaller market along with targeting “whales.” The diversity will help you be more agile if you lose one of your more substantial income streams.

9. Stubbornness

Many small business owners are set in their ways. They’re experts in their field and want to build a business on what they know. It makes sense. Stick with what you know. 

But are you ready to change with the times?

Many businesses fail because they’re unable or unwilling to pivot to fit the changing market. Understanding the business world isn’t the same as 30 or 20 or even ten years ago is critical to your success. You need to be flexible. Adopt new software that can help with operations. Get past the notion that you can’t teach a dog new tricks. Learn from your competition, and study the market. Getting complacent because “your way is the best way” is a sure-fire way to put your business in danger. 

Summary

Opening a successful small business is much more challenging than most people expect. The level of dedication, commitment, and planning that goes into just the launch is daunting. Before you decide to go down the incredibly difficult road of small business ownership, remember why you want to do it. There are many reasons why companies can fail. Staying vigilant and keeping focused is the best way to increase your odds of success. 

Plan thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a world of resources available to you. Use them. 

Using a sales and marketing platform like Shamrck is invaluable for consolidating your tools and making you more efficient. Small business owners need to save time everywhere possible. Start your free trial with Shamrck to learn how we can help your business succeed. 

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Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

 

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

 

 

Caching your website is a crucial process for keeping your website fast. It relieves stress on the host and helps report information back to the browser. Great, right? We can do better. Shamrck uses world-class cloud hosting to make sure you have a reliable, speedy hosting service, but today, we’re going to talk more about WordPress content delivery networks, or CDN. 

 

You only have a few seconds to make a first impression on a site visitor, so slow page speeds set you back immediately. Website caching and image compression are excellent ways to maintain fast load times, so why do we need a CDN? Physical hosting sites help “store” your host on a server. The server location affects load times regardless of your compression settings or caching. This effect is called latency. Naturally, when information has farther to go, it will take longer to get there. CDNs help reduce latency.

 

 

 

What is a CDN?

 

Content delivery networks, or CDNs, are a way to speed up your website. They are a network of servers built to store static content. By storing static page information in an easy-to-access location, your site can retrieve page information and deliver it to a browser blazingly fast. 

 

 

 

How Does a CDN Work?

 

CDNs operate as a large network of servers meaning information can be stored anywhere in the world and relayed back to your website. Visitors anywhere can view your website faster. Your information is stored on a “host” server. As we mentioned earlier, the further away your visitor is, the longer the load times. This latency is due to “hops.” Hops refer to how often information needs to jump from server to server before being delivered to the visitor. The more hops, the longer the load time. Choosing the location for your host server is important because it will play a major role in your page load times.

 

By serving as a storage resource, CDNs automatically pull information from your website as information like HTML or JavaScript code for future use. Your server can then rewrite links to those pieces of information to make sure it’s pulled from the CDN moving forward.

 

 

 

CDN Benefits

 

A CDN can help your website perform better in every way, including sales. Visitors are more likely to have a better user experience when a site loads quickly and easily navigates from page to page. When you’re trying to convert leads to sales with website content, an engaging website is vital.

 

CDNs also employ a caching system much like your server. Site information moves from your server to the CDN freeing up bandwidth. On that note, a CDN is exactly that, a content delivery network. Utilizing the network helps handle large spikes in traffic since it can spread information over several servers. 

 

Most importantly, CDNs are scalable. Your website will see user ebbs and flows, but ultimately, the goal is to grow your visits. When that happens, your server needs to be ready to handle the new traffic. Content delivery networks are a ready-made solution to make sure you don’t run into any kinks.

 

 

 

CDN Speeds

 

CDNs are becoming more and more popular for their versatility and speed enhancements. Just like with caching, a CDN reduces latency and load times. We know slow page speeds can kill your traffic and SEO. Every additional second of load time costs you potential sales and crucial visitors. Since the CDN stores much of the site’s information, page speeds go up exponentially. 

 

One issue websites run into is a slow TTFB, or time to first byte. Without going too far into the weeds, this refers to how long it takes for your website to retrieve data for the browser request. Depending on the server and the data, your TTFB could have a negative impact on site performance. CDNs dramatically increase TTFB just by moving bits of information away from your server and onto the network. Shamrck’s website health check helps test for your time to first byte. 

 

 

 

Shamrck and DigitalOcean Spaces CDN

 

Shamrck hosts on a cloud server and uses DigitalOcean Spaces CDN to speed up websites even more. DigitalOcean is a cloud infrastructure with data centers all over the world. Spaces is an S3-compatible object storage service that lets you store and serve large amounts of data. By working with the power of DigitalOcean’s CDN, Shamrck is free to provide excellent hosting and website performance. 

 

 

 

Why a CDN is Right for Your Website

 

Working in tandem with your host, a CDN speeds up your site and boosts performance. It’s that simple. We walked through how CDNs work and some specific benefits, but everything leads back to enhancing load times, user experience, and other vital aspects of running a website. Utilizing a network of servers to store information and free up bandwidth on your host server is invaluable, and the results speak for themselves. 

 

 

 

We’d love to help you get started on your website improvements. Reach out today and we’ll do a full website health check!

 

 

 

Enter Caching.

 

Caching is the quick and (sometimes) easy way to speed everything up. At a server-level, caching can be broken down into very technical terms, but for the average end-user, plugins like WP Rocket help take care of the work for you. Here are some ways to speed up your website with caching.

 

 

What is Cache?

 

 

A cache is a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place. In the software world, we refer to it all the time. Traditionally, when someone clicks into a web page, the site has to request information from the server, which sends the data back to the browser, and users see the end result. Caching speeds up your website by not requiring it to request page information every time someone visits. 

 

Since most webpages contain headers, bodies, and footers, continually having to piece together every bit of information after each click is, understandably, time-consuming. The process slows down page load times since the server is processing so many requests at once. 

 

 

Why is caching important for websites?

 

 

Caching saves much of the website’s information for a server, so it doesn’t have to handle requests for every part of a web page anymore. The cache stores files to a disk or RAM, making it easier to duplicate the information when requested. This process limits the amount of work going into loading and reloading webpages, making them load faster.

 

Since these repeat files are stored, caching reduces the stress on your server. A fast server equals faster page load times, which has a substantial impact on your SEO. But more on that in a minute. This process also speeds up the time to first byte (TTFB). Essentially, the TTFB is the time it takes for a browser to start to receive information from the server. A low TTFB is crucial to fast load times.

 

 

Server-level caching with a good host.

 

 

A good host will handle caching for you. There are generally four types of caching done at the server-level: Bytecode, Page, Object, and CDN. We can break these down one at a time to understand why each is essential and why utilizing a speedy server with a good host is vital.

 

  • Bytecode: Bytecode cache deals with PHP code. PHP codes must be compiled into what’s known as a readable “opcode.” Once the opcode is in place, the server no longer needs to sift through the PHP to return browser requests. 

 

 

  • Page: Page caching refers to storing the entirety of the HTML from a webpage, so WordPress does not need to generate the page over and over. Most pages are static and evergreen, meaning they don’t change much. The server does not need to build the page for every click continually. 

 

 

  • Object: Object caching refers to storing database query information. Querying a database can be arduous and time-consuming for a server. Caching bits of data produced by a search means speeding up the page load times since there’s no need to query an entire database every time.

 

 

  • CDN: CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. CDN caching stores website files like javascript, CSS, and media. CDN caching is a more complicated process because it involves storing information away from the server on a, you guessed it, separate network. CDNs can deliver the website information instead of the server, reducing the stress on the server and speeding up load times.

 

Server-level caching is crucial because a good host does all of this behind the scenes. Since page load times are vital to your website’s SEO, caching as much information as possible is paramount.

 

 

WordPress Caching with WP Rocket.

 

 

Sometimes we need to go further than our server-level caching. WordPress has mechanisms in place to replace or supplement caching strategies. You can use plugins to perform caching functions if you are self-hosting or using a shared host. There are dozens of plugins to choose from, but we recommend WP Rocket. 

 

WP Rocket is exceptionally robust but simple to use. Developers will love the ability to play around inside the plugin, but we love that it is excellent for beginners who might feel overwhelmed quickly. The WP Rocket dashboard and settings are easy to set up and understand. The plugin also seamlessly works with eCommerce sites to make sure page load times are blazingly fast.

 

WP Rocket is a premium plugin offering different pricing plans, but given the usability and depth of the software, we recommend at least trying out the free trial.

 

 

How caching affects SEO

 

 

One of the largest hurdles websites face when trying to rank on Google is page load times. The Google search algorithms weigh load times heavily when ranking sites. This factor makes caching a must-have. Without caching, your server load speeds will deteriorate as your pages become more dynamic, and the servers have to request and report every line of code/image/etc. for every click. 

 

The stress will be too much for your server, and page load times will be slow. Not only will that affect your SEO, but you’ll lose traffic almost immediately. No one wants to wait more than five to seven seconds on a website to load. For every second it takes until TTFB, your site slips slightly further in the rankings and becomes more invisible in searches.

 

 

Caching is crucial

 

 

Websites today are dynamic, loaded with images, and interactive modal windows. Ecommerce sites have tons of media, links, and walls of text. The sheer amount of data on each page is enough to strain any server. This is why caching is so vital. Without caching, servers can be spread too thin, and page load speeds can drop dramatically. The consequences can be disastrous. 

 

Imagine your website is a store on the main street, but you start to open later in the day than other stores. So, the city moves your store to 3rd street. Search engines are no different. Search algorithms look for the “stores” that open early. Websites with fast speeds will outrank the slower ones, so make sure your site is as quick as possible. Don’t lose your place in the market because you didn’t apply some simple methods to make your website faster.

 

Shamrck knows website caching is crucial to a site’s success. We’d love to talk to you about your website’s performance and how some simple caching techniques can help immediately.

 

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Why You Need a Development Team

Why You Need a Development Team

Why You Need a Development Team

Going it alone is hard. Business owners are well aware of this maxim because it applies to every aspect of running a company. Building and maintaining a website is no different. Website builders help users get started, but the perfect site requires more than a basic template and a few words. Resources like articles and videos help, but the most useful resource of all is a development team.

Most business owners aren’t also web developers. You don’t have time to learn how to code and create a custom website that fits your brand. Maybe you’ll find a template that’s close enough to what you want, but what happens when you’re ready to grow into something new? What happens when your simple site needs to be much, much more?

This step is where going it alone becomes more challenging. Choosing the right content management system (CMS) is critical. Content management systems come with all kinds of tools and resources. 

Development teams know exactly how to leverage those tools and resources.

 

What is a development team?

Businesses starting from scratch need to determine what approach they’re going to take to build their site. Will they use a website builder and simple templates? Some do, but general templates recycled styles don’t help a business stand out in the crowd. In today’s market, every business needs an online presence. Building a site with a fundamental website builder like Wix or Squarespace is like putting an ad in the White Pages (no one really sees it). Using a development team is like putting up a billboard on Main St.

Development teams come in all shapes and sizes, but the leading roles are web developers and web designers. People like to conflate development and design even though they’re two very different aspects of a website. Development is the construction of a site, the custom coding and creation. On the other hand, design refers to the aesthetics of the website, the schemes, and the look.

We can break these teammate roles down into a little further detail.

 

Back-End Developers

The back end of your website is where all the magic happens. Every click navigating to another page, every video on auto-play, and every pop-up happen because a back-end developer built it. Businesses need them to create custom elements that will make their website functional. These elements include site security and other applications, so finding the right back-end developer is essential. Developers also help build the kinds of flexibility that allow site owners to receive and manage user information. 

 

Front-End Developers

Front-end developers focus on user experience. The back-end developer will create the system for running searches or navigation, but your front-end developer makes it look awesome. The spinning wheels, zoom in/out buttons, and feature locations (among other things)? All of that stuff comes from on the front-end. 

Finding an excellent front-end developer is every bit as important as your back-end. The user-experience helps define your website. Visitors will judge not just your site but your entire business based on how your site behaves. An essential part of behavior is across multiple platforms. Your website needs to function the same whether someone visits on a computer, tablet, or phone. 

 

Web Designers

Web designers work in tandem with the developers, but they work on different aspects that flow together. The designer creates the look and feel of your website. Starting with the overview “template” of ideas, a designer will work closely with you to organize color schemes, create custom graphics, and help with the overall concept. Your brand is on display, and your brand is your business.

Keep in mind that designers are not developers. While they may have some experience with coding, their function is to design, not build. Working with a designer is almost an essential part of building your website, but you can’t count on them to make your site function.

 

Use a development team to make a change.

Website builders like Wix and Squarespace are extremely limited. Users start because the platforms offer attractive templates and a user-friendly dashboard. After a while, people realize their website can’t grow with their business and look elsewhere. 

If you already know there’s no future with a site builder, why bother at all?

Luckily, there are ways to migrate away from these other platforms (see our guides on Wix and Squarespace). Moving can be a challenge if you’re looking to do more than just change the look of your site. Using a development team to help you make the move removes confusion and limits mistakes. Plus, you get the bonus of expanding your current functionality by using developers to create new tools. 

 

Why you need a development team

The DIY route is challenging. As we mentioned before, you need a website. With internet traffic trends the way they are, your site needs to shine above everyone else. It has to be functional and chic. You need a website that represents your brand without sacrificing the user experience. More than anything, you need to be able to make changes. No business is the same. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so saving the ability to build custom features is essential.

Development teams do all of that for you. You get to choose the direction you want to go, work with the team, and watch as they turn your ideas into a beautiful website. The best part? You get to focus on the most critical aspects of your company, your customers. Some people believe they don’t have the budget for a development team. There are teams for all budgets, but all you need to remember is how much time and energy you’ll spend to build the perfect website. How many hours of work will you lose while you fumble through building a site? Compare your budget against how much money you’ll drop by not running your business and see how much it really costs to hire a development team.

 

We’d love to chat with you a little more about why a development team is a perfect business solution. Reach out, and let’s get started!

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How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

Cheap does not always equal value. Cheap shoes fall apart, and a low-cost computer crashes three days after you buy it. Cheap sunscreen gives you a sunburn so bad you painfully regret not buying better sunscreen. When it comes to web hosting, a cheap host can hurt your website in many ways. A bad host can cause a lot of damage from weak cyber-security to slow page speeds and everything in between.

Don’t get us wrong. Saving money is good. Opting for a more inexpensive hosting service is a plausible solution if you weigh all of the pros and cons. The problem is understanding the impact of certain inequities. Some disadvantages will severely outweigh the advantages, and your site will suffer. The best weapon you have is research. Luckily, there are some tools and resources out there to help (like this post!).

So, how does cheap hosting hurt?

 

Upkeep

A good host maintains a stable website status. That means minimal downtime for repairs or bug fixes. Websites need periodic updates to function correctly since plugins and systems are continually updating. A cheap host can lapse on essential updates that affect (possibly crashing) your website.

Worse, cheap hosts are known for terrible customer service. Your website is the face of the business. Imagine that someone locks you out of your storefront, and you have to wait three days for a locksmith. Imagine the business you’d lose! Think of poor customer service as the slow locksmith. You need your website up and running correctly. A cheap web hosting service won’t take the importance of upkeep very seriously.

Slow Page Speeds

When most people think of SEO, thoughts of keywords, and blog posts come to mind. While those are both essential aspects of optimization, page speed is one of the most crucial. The search engine algorithms look through hundreds of site attributes to rank the results, but some traits are more heavily weighted than others. Page speed clocks in as one of the most important because it shows your website is performing well. Google and the other engines will prioritize sites based on load times.

Why is that important for hosting?

A cheap hosting service may not scale well with your business. That means the more traffic you get, the slower the site loads. Slow page load times can kill your website performance. More than have of mobile users give you approximately three seconds before they leave, and the number drops every second after that. Don’t let your website take a tumble in the search results because your hosting service can’t keep up.

 

Cyber-Security

Cyber-security isn’t just a buzz-word, and your website can’t live without it. Cheap hosting services put security on the backburner because security protocols can require additional resources and bandwidth. Start with a straightforward question. Does your host offer a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate?

An SSL certificate is literally the bare minimum you can accept from a host. Malware attacks millions of sites each year, and cheap hosting services that skimp on cyber-security leave you vulnerable. Be sure to do your research because these hosts will put the security onus on you and make sure you are liable instead of them.

There are cyber-security steps you can take on your own to try to secure your website, but ideally, you’d like to work in tandem with a host that emphasizes security as well.

Less Control

Many cheap hosting services offer low price points because they limit what you can do with your site. You lose the ability to create custom coding to fit your needs because the host won’t let you make substantial-scale changes on their server. By limiting bandwidth and disk space, servers can run with less effort and cost, but you end up suffering through a mediocre website.

An excellent hosting service works with you to make sure your site, videos, animations, images, and all, work seamlessly all day every day. Limiting what you can do to build a custom site leaves you with nothing more than a template to type some words.

Hosting is worth the investment.

You can find hosting services in every corner of the internet. Some host on cloud-based servers with data centers all over the world. Some hosts are on a physical server in the back room of a dingy office building. Regardless of a hosting services’ claim of what they do and don’t offer, do your research. Ask questions about security protocols and bandwidth limitations. Learn more about their customer service team and how they handle updates.

There are qualities to some cheap hosting services, mostly, the price, but choosing who hosts your website is critical. The choice can make or break the success of your site and possibly your business. No, that’s not being too dramatic, either. A malware attack leaking customer information can land you in court, ruining your company. Slipping to the second, third, or fourth page of Google can make you invisible compared to the competition all because your pages load slowly.

Investing in a development team to build your website is a wise decision. Investing in a top-class hosting service is just good business. Don’t get sucked in by low price points and wild promises that are too good to be true. Pick a host that you can trust, even if it’s not the cheapest.

At Shamrck, we believe in value above everything else. A hosting service can be inexpensive and still have a customer-first mindset. We’d love to chat a little more with you about trusting your site to an excellent host. Reach out today, and let’s get started!

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How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

Squarespace provides an easy-to-use website builder. There are some templates and drag and drop functions, but Squarespace isn’t anything special at the end of the day. Sooner or later, many users see the limitations and conclude that they’re better off moving away. If you’re looking to move from Squarespace, there are some essential things to consider. The move tends to be over to the more flexible WordPress.

 

Why is WordPress Better Than Squarespace?

WordPress is much more dynamic. Squarespace puts you in a box, and all sites are basically the same. With WordPress, the possibilities are endless. Using the right developer, you can create the perfect website designed to your specific standards instead of someone else’s. The intricate capabilities of WordPress are invaluable to a company trying to define an online presence. Squarespace limits your options to the point you can become frustrated over what should be simple features. 

The move from Squarespace to WordPress opens up a vast array of opportunities to improve your brand and increase your traffic. The only question is, why haven’t you already moved over?

 

Export Content

Of course, you already have content on Squarespace, and starting from scratch is not an option. The good news is that you can export much of your information automatically. You can easily export your blog posts and pages. Unfortunately, you can’t export everything so easily. 

Squarespace won’t let you export:

-Album pages, indexes, product, or events
-Blocks like audio or product
-Custom CSS
-Style changes
-Squarespace template

Even so, the bulk of your content can be uploaded onto your new site reasonably smoothly. Luckily, the aspects of the information you can’t bring from Squarespace is replicable in WordPress, and again, working with a design and development team will help a lot. 

To Export

  1. Log in to Squarespace and go to the “Settings” option on the left-hand side of the screen for whichever site you want to export (if you have multiple sites).
  2. Scroll down to “Advanced,” and from there, select “Export.” You’ll be asked for the export site, so be sure to choose WordPress if there are multiple options.
  3. Wait for a pop-up letting you download the information. *If you have multiple blog pages, you’ll need to choose which one to export before proceeding. 

 

Point Domain to New WordPress Install

If you purchased a domain, you’ll probably want to carry it over to your new WordPress site. The task isn’t difficult. You’ll need to change your domain’s nameservers to point to WordPress instead of Squarespace. 

The only word of caution may be to make sure you’re ready to make the switch ultimately. You can work with your WordPress host to set up a WordPress staging site. This way, you can handle any Squarespace traffic while waiting on the work to be finished for your full website. 

Remember to go to your domain registrar to change the settings too. Once you have your site built and domain pointed to WordPress, you’ll ultimately be ready to move from Squarespace.

 

Import Content to WordPress

Now that you have your .xml file, it’s time to import. 

  1. Head over to your WordPress dashboard and find the Tools menu. 
  2. When you click on Tools, you’ll see the import option below.
  3. Click import next and find WordPress at the bottom of the list, and then click Install Now.
  4. The link will change from Install Now to Run Importer.
  5. From here, choose the .xml file to import, and click the upload file and import. This step will get the upload process started. 
  6. The next page you come to will offer to create a new user for this upload, but your best bet is to select a current user from the dropdown list.
  7.  Check the import attachments box and submit!

 

The last step is to make sure your content is uploaded correctly. Check your pages and posts to ensure everything is where it’s supposed to be, and it looks good. If not, you may need to make changes page by page, or you can start the process over to try again.

 

Import Images to WordPress

We discussed at the beginning that not everything shares over flawlessly. You’ll notice some or all of your images when you move from Squarespace did not load. You have a couple of options to add them back in. First, you can go one page at a time and upload each image one by one. That method can be a little tedious, though. Luckily, there are plugins available to help with the task. 

Plugins like Auto Upload Images will find URLs in your post and automatically upload the image files to your WordPress media database. Rather than going page by page, the plugin will let you mass select posts and pages and then do a bulk action to update all of your pages. 

  1. Go to your “Posts” page in WordPress
  2. Select all of the posts you need to update
  3. Use the bulk action dropdown and click Edit and then apply
  4. A new window will appear, but you won’t need to make changes. Just click Update.
  5. All the images from your Squarespace pages should now be showing up on your WordPress pages.

 

Configure Permalinks

Permalinks are how traffic finds your website. When you posted something on Squarespace, you received a permalink resembling something like https://example.com/blog-post-title. WordPress can mimic that or other types of dynamic permalinks through a quick setting change.

  1. Go to the Settings in your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click Permalinks to open the menu
  3. Select the Date and Name option since it’s the most commonly used.
  4. Use the custom structure to recreate something close to the Squarespace link. Since theirs is usually a date-page-post, you can create a custom structure using a dynamic link. For example .com/%year%/%month%/%day%/blog/%post%
  5. Hit save changes to lock everything in place.

 

Recreate the Template in Divi

You can’t take your Squarespace template with you, and most people don’t particularly want to. However, if you’re in love with the look, you’ll be able to recreate it with Divi. Divi’s page builder option gives you a vast amount of possibilities to effortlessly insert rows, sections, columns, text, blocks, etc. Creating the look and feel flows smoothly, and Divi offers excellent customer experience to help. 

The Divi builder makes it easy to take your current content and build it into the same type of template you had or if you prefer, a brand new look. You have options like custom CSS, responsive editing, and simple drag and drop tools, among others. If you’re not ready to build from scratch, Divi also has an immense library of pre-created options. 

 

Leaving Squarespace

The move from Squarespace is inevitable for a lot of people. The system can be clunky, limiting, and expensive for what you actually get. WordPress provides a much better opportunity to make something with more flexibility that better represents your brand and lets you grow. The change can be difficult, though. Despite the step-by-step instructions above, your site and user experience can get lost in the shuffle. 

Professional firms like WPClover are here specifically to help you make your WordPress site precisely the way you want it instead of how someone else wants it. We’d love to talk more with you about how working with us can save you time and money, not to mention all of the perks that go along with a WordPress website. Reach out, and let’s get started!

 

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