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4 Reasons You Need a Mobile Website

Posted 1:09 PM by

Mobile Websites with Marketpath CMSA mobile website or mobile ready website is simply an internet site optimized for viewing on mobile devices or smartphones such as the iPhone, Android or Blackberry.  Because mobile gadgets are smaller than computers (with smaller screens), full websites are often difficult to view and navigate via mobile devices.  

Mobile websites provide a better way for consumers to learn about your organization when they’re on-the-go and typically consist of a “stripped down” version of a website, with less information, prioritized or more important to the mobile user.

Visit the Internet Marketing Dictionary for a detailed definition of a mobile website.
 

So why should your organization develop a mobile site? 

  1. Because your current site doesn’t work well or look correct on mobile devices

I mentioned this briefly above.  And while it may be obvious, it is also the most significant reason you should consider a mobile site.  Maybe the fonts are too small, or the images too large, or the navigation and layout are too complex or awkward.  Roll over menus that work and look great when viewing from a computer, might be tedious or impossible to use via mobile.  Or, possibly, the site downloads painfully slow on a mobile device.  Regardless of the reason, if your prospect or customer can’t easily use your site or find what they’re looking for (without getting frustrated), they may just try your competitor’s easier to use mobile site!

  1. The needs & behavior of a mobile web user are different from a traditional Internet user

While it is critical that your site be easy to view and navigate via mobile, it is also important to realize how mobile users are different from traditional computer web users.  Phone or mobile users are often away from their home or office (or at least away from their computers), with less time to spend surfing or looking for information.  Many times, they have a goal in mind and are looking for very specific information such as a location, news or event, contact, map, product, or schedule.  And often, they only have a few minutes to find what they want.

Because of these differences, your mobile design needs to focus on simplicity, presenting prioritized content that is relevant for the mobile user.  The Mobile Marketing Association suggests a less-is-more design philosophy for mobile web sites, focusing on the 3-5 most important reasons someone will visit your mobile site, and making those items visible upon entry, at the top menu level.  Eliminating side-scrolling and reducing down-scrolling also enhances ease-of-use via mobile.

  1. Mobile internet use is growing rapidly!Mobile Website Statistics

Whether you like it or not, more and more people will be accessing your website via mobile devices.  In fact, as of last month (July 2011), 50% of all connections to the internet are from phones and mobile devices

Microsoft Tag recently developed the infographic to the right to summarize the explosion of the mobile web, which is already a large market, but growing more rapidly by the minute.  If you are still skeptical as to the importance of the mobile web, I’ve included a number of interesting statistics.

  • 70% of the world’s population now have a mobile phone; 87% in the U.S. (per Experian)
  • U.S. children are now more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, with 85% of kids owning a phone as to 73% having books! (National Literacy Trust)
  • 55% of US consumers who purchased a new phone in 2011 bought a smartphone, up from the 34% last year (Nielsen)
  • 38% of US consumers owned a smartphone as of May 2011
  • Daily internet usage via handheld devices jumped from 29% in 2009 to 43% in 2010
  • In the last year Google has seen a 400% increase in the number of mobile searches
  • The #1 access method for local information is now the mobile browser

Despite the growing importance of mobile, less than 5% of businesses have mobile enabled websites today.  In fact, 50% of small businesses have never even checked the appearance or functionality of their site on a Smart Phone!

  1. It’s fairly easy to create a mobile website

Assuming the functionality and content from your current site are up to snuff (you know what they say about ASS-U-ME), creating a mobile website is reasonably easy.  This is especially true with tools like Marketpath CMS, or other web content management solutions, that allow you to leverage both your existing website content and content management processes, without having to start from scratch or add new processes to update your mobile site.

Marketpath allows you to easily manage your mobile websites within Marketpath CMS, updating content for both your regular and mobile sites at the same time, while delivering to traditional and mobile formats.

So why not give mobile users what they want and enhance your brand equity and reputation at the same time?

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Church and School Website Solutions

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Until recently, managing the website for Saint Luke Catholic Church and School was very painful.  Saint Luke had five major areas of focus within their parish (Worship, Parish Life, Religious Education, School, Athletics), all with significant and ongoing content and communication needs, yet they had only one person with the technical savvy to easily manage their website. And that individual was really too important to Saint Luke to be spending so much time updating the site for all the different ministries.  On top of that, the site had so much content that finding what you needed had become very difficult.

Website Solutions for Schools and ChurchesSo Saint Luke began looking for a partner that provided website solutions for schools and churches, with a number of goals in mind.  First and most importantly, they needed to find a web content management system that was so easy to use that various staff members and volunteers could manage daily site updates without any technical skill set.  Second, they needed a web design partner that could design a visually attractive site that allowed Saint Luke to communicate easily with many   different constituents, while also being very user-friendly and easy to navigate (find what you want).  Lastly, Saint Luke wanted a technically advanced web presence, so that they could communicate better with current parishioners, both young and old alike, while attracting new parishioners to join the Saint Luke's community.

After considering various options, Saint Luke selected Marketpath as their web design and web content management partner, launching a new site in only a few months.  Their new site now features an engaging design that allows Saint Luke to communicate more easily to all its constituents, including four new blogs, image and message galleries, multiples calendars, podcasts, videos, and social media integration.  The new site even features a mobile version, so that Saint Luke's most time sensitive information can easily be found.  The new site is also very intuitive and easy to navigate, structured around Saint Luke's five main ministries.  Finally and most importantly, the site is now simple to update, with each of the five ministries controlling their sections of the new site and managing daily updates.  

Instead of worrying about technology, Saint Luke's team can now focus more time on what is important: their services to the community.
 

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Your Website's First Impression & Why It's So Important

Posted 10:59 AM by

As Google continues to modify its search algorithm, tweak the way search results are displayed, and add new features for searchers to interact with, it has becoming increasingly apparent that site owners and administrators have an extremely tough job on their hands to capture the ever-fleeting attention of first time visitors.  Now, with the addition of the "user block" feature that Google has introduced, allowing a searcher to block an entire domain from appearing in any search results (if they are logged into their Google Account), the first impression that your site makes could be its last.  So, here are a few items to think about, since the first impression that a site makes goes way beyond just the way it looks.

1. On-Page SEO

Before a searcher ever reaches your website via a Google search results page; they will be greeted with a few pieces of information from your site.  The title tag, the meta description (or a snippet of it), and the page's URL are all displayed in the familiar listing that Google provides.  If well thought-out, crafted, and maintained, your title tag and meta description can lead to a great user experience for the first time visitor.  Properly, and truthfully, labeling each page within your site to summarize the content is the first step in convincing a would-be visitor that your site is worth their time.

2. Quality Content

So your search engine optimization expert told you that you needed to create content on a regular basis to help improve rankings, right?  While this idea is correct, you must commit to writing quality content.  Think of it this way...if you put garbage in, you will get garbage out (and probably blocked along the way).  Each visitor's time is valuable and wasting it with poor, repetitive, or unoriginal content will result in a poor experience and possibly a block.  With Google's increased ability to rank new articles extremely quickly (and increase exposure), you must write compelling content that is for the user, not the search engine.  Here is a great post from Search Engine Land about this same topic.

3. Off-Page Factors

With the advancement of social media in combination with traditional offline marketing efforts, it could be quite possible that someone would have an impression of your overall brand way before reaching your website.  If a searcher has a negative impression of your brand based upon some other marketing channel, they can block your URL without visiting your site at all.  The important idea here is that your website's first impression may not be made by your website in the first place.

4. Design and Site Structure

As far as making a first impression goes, this one is the no-brainer of the group.  Your sites design and layout either lends itself well towards increasing the impression of the first visit, or it doesn't.  Is it clear what your company or organization does?  Is it easy to find the information that a user is looking for?  Try taking yourself out of your roll and visiting your site for the "first time." Would you come back?  Did it provide the expertise/news/products/etc that you were searching for?  If it needs improvement, can the changes be made by a few modifications, or will it require an entirely redesigned website?  My advice, contact a web design expert for help if you're not sure...

It is unclear to what extent Google is going to utilize the user's feedback on certain URL's in the overall ranking algorithm, but it is undoubtedly going to be factored in at some level.  Ensuring that your website (and your brand) is committed to creating well optimized, well designed, and well written content across all channels of marketing will keep visitors coming back and keep your site off the block list.            


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Your Website is Not drudgereport.com

Posted 7:30 PM by

"All you have to do is throw up a few pages, pretty up the images, and plug it into your CRM. Bada Boom! Done." I've heard comments similar to this a lot. Then the person who said it motions that they're wiping the dirty work off their sleeves, which, in fact, they did before they made the remark. In their mind, there's the idea and then the finish. The rest of us have to worry about the details of implementation - that fat, middle chubby area of website development.

Website development and design is not simple, Marketpath Inc.This post is for those inviduals who plan and build websites and this brings me to the point of this post. Your website is not drudgereport.com because drudgereport.com is incredibly simple. They have a couple images and a bunch of links that point outside of their website. The only thing they have to worry about is making sure that the page is highly availlable - the one, single, ridiculously light on content page. And as far as website design, development, and implementation goes that's about as simple as it gets. Sure, they may have had a billion visits this past March but that's about infrastructure, and not about building a website.

Now, let's move up the difficulty scale. Your website has many pages, perhaps it  plugs into some external systems, and maybe it has e-commerce. The level of difficulty in planning and implementation just increased by 100.

If you have those people who love to oversimplify complex scenarios and state all that has to be done is "bada boom", ask them how. They won't be able to answer you. With this in mind, do not, under any circumstances, allow them to have a part in setting the timeline. And don't let them bully you into comitting more than you are comfortable with. It's so easy to simply get the bully off your back by saying "sure." Because once you say "sure", in their mind you're comitted. Instead of saying "sure," explain to them the real world timeline and what it takes. Then, if they still try to oversimplify that, ask them once again the magical question - "how?" And don't stop asking "how" until they give in to your timeline.

You're the expert. You know what it takes. You're job is not just building the site but managing expectations and if you set expectations too high, you'll pay for it later.


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The Three Pillars of Website Marketing

Posted 12:05 PM by

The three pillars of website marketing - Marketpath IncI wrote about the three pillars a couple years back and thought I'd rekindle the importance of them. The basics of each have not really changed. At its core, your website marketing efforts consist of three primary pillars - Visibility, Engagement, and Conversion. Every marketing initiative serves these three foundational elements in some way and I am constantly reminded how important each is.

The most import element, however, is the conversion. This is where you get the lead, the new advocate, or the sale. If you are not providing a conversion mechanism on your website you are wasting your money and your visitors' time. Visibility and Engagement are great, but they only support the goal of the conversion.

Take a look at your website and evaluate it on these three pillars. Below, you'll find a few questions for each pillar. Your answers should provide a clearer idea on where you need improvement.

Visibility:

  1. Do you regularly insert carefully chosen keywords in your website pages and blogs?
  2. Do you syndicate new content to social media sites (e.g. Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)?
  3. Do you practice cross-channel marketing? That is, do you have links to your social media profiles on your webiste, in your emails and do you have links back to your website from those?
  4. Do you attempt to get other organizations and associations to link to your website, when possible?
  5. Are you monitoring your visitor analytics? How many visitors do you get? How many are new vs. returning? From what part of the world do they live? What are the most popular pages or areas of the site? What other sites are sending the most traffic? These are all questions you should review on a monthly basis. Where are users abandoning your site? What is your bounce rate?
  6. Do you monitor what keywords are most used to get to your site and then optimize content based on those? 

Engagement

  1. How long do visitors stay on your site? Do they read pages or watch videos in their entirety?
  2. Do you monitor what sort of content is consumed the most? Do you have best practices in place for producing more of it?
  3. Do you monitor how deep into a site the average visitor travels?
  4. Do you regularly review your website layout and navigation to see where you may need improvement?
  5. Do you practice A/B or multi-variate testing to find the most effective content?

Conversions

  1. Do you at least have a contact us form on your site that is accessible from every page?
  2. Do you maintain relevant calls to action in different areas of your site? For example, do your pages about a particular service have a call to action that is well targeted for that service?
  3. Are your calls to action simple and inviting for an interested buyer/prospect?
  4. Do you have a lead management plan in place once a conversion has occurred? That is, what happens to the lead once you receive it? Does it go to Salesforce or some other CRM? Does it sit in a seldom-checked generic email account? Is someone responsible for responding to each and every one in a timely manner?
  5. Do you have maintain a database of all conversions?
  6. Do you ask visitors who have filled out a form if they would like to be contacted with other information or offers?

 

Answering these questions will help you shed light on your overall website marketing initiatives and how well you've built your foundation. They are at the very core of all things website marketing.

For more information, refer to my articles on each pillar:

 

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Essco Corporation Launches New Website

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Earlier this month, Essco Corporation, supplier of personal protective equiptment, launched a new website featuring a newly redesigned look and increased functionality.  The new Essco Corporation website was built on Marketpath CMS and takes advantage of Marketpath Storefront - a fully functional e-commerce system that allows for the sale of Essco's entire catalog of products.  The site also features a fully integrated blog, social media tools, on-page search engine optimization, and Google Products 

Personal Protective Equipment


Because Essco sells so many products, guiding visitors to the correct product needed to be very straightforward.  The site was designed to feature four top level categories - Safety, Chemicals, Containment, and Equipment.  From there, users can drill down even further into sub-categories to find the specific product to fit their needs.  The site also features a full product search to help users find specific products if they know exactly what they are searching for. 

The site's content is managed using Marketpath CMS and can be updated quickly and easily to allow for enhanced marketing efforts from Essco.  The entire store is managed through the same interface and allows for Essco to add, delete and edit products and product categories.  

Since the site is in its infancy, it is unknown at this time what the exact impact on traffic and conversions will be.  However, the improved design and functionality of the site will allow for increased sales via the web.

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Fusz Mazda Launches New Website

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Marketpath is happy to announce the launch of Fusz Mazda's new website (www.fuszmazda.com), which features a completely redesigned look and feel and utilizes Marketpath CMS, as well as integrations with Drive Velocity, an automated dealer marketing software provider.

Fusz MazdaFusz Mazda wanted to break the mold of the usual car dealership website and convey not only their extensive inventory, but their commitment to customer service and quality. The site features a customized sliding gallery on the homepage that showcases Fusz Mazda Staff, customer testimonials, and a vehicle spotlight. The homepage also features a scrolling gallery of new and used inventory to help drive clicks to interior pages of the site.

While the site has just recently launched, the improvements in the site analytics have already been noticed. The bounce rate has been reduced from 41% down to 25%, the page views are up 28% since launch, and the pages per visit have skyrocketed 42% per visitor. While it is still very early in the process of determining the true success of the Fusz Toyota redesign and launch, these are all great early indicators that the site is going to outperform its predecessor.

We will be putting together a full case study on the entire suite of Lou Fusz Automotive Network websites over the next few weeks, after they have all rolled out and concrete data is available, so check back and learn more about this great project.


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Four Easy Steps to Pull All Your Hair Out with Sharepoint

Posted 4:52 AM by

Yesterday, I received a link to a series of articles that made me bust out laughing - "SharePoint 2010 in Four Easy Steps."

Fact #1, nothing about Sharepoint is easy.
Fact #2, SharePoint could never be installed in only four steps.

Here are their four easy steps:

  1. Prepare
  2. Migrate
  3. Manage
  4. Customize

That's like saying "How to build a skyscraper in four easy steps!" Step 1 - Prepare; Step 2 - Design; Step 3 - Build; Step 4 - Finish. There's a good title of a book - "Skyscrapers for Dummies!"

I really get the oversimplified marketing message, though, because we do it ourselves - "Click, Edit, Publish - Web Content Management. Made Easy." Everyone does this especially when selling complex products or services. You have to oversimplify it so your prospects can quickly relate and understand. But what truly irks me about this is saying Sharepoint is easy in any way whatsoever. I can't begin to count how many customers we have gained coming from a disastrous Sharepoint implementation.

Before I continue bashing Sharepoint, though, let me acknowledge it's benefits. Sharepoint certainly has its place in the world. It is a very powerful tool for managing corporate intranets, document repositories, and team collaboration. I've used it in the past and recognized its unique contribution.
In the past, we've used it internally and would continue to do so if the installation and maintenance wasn't so resource intensive and difficult. You really need to have an expert on staff or outsourced to install, manage, and troubleshoot it. But it has a very long way to go before it is an easy-to-use tool for marketers managing the corporate/product website.

And that's the point - using Sharepoint to manage your public website can be a nightmare. Before making the decision to use this for your website make sure you ask for references from other customers who are currently using it and even from customers who have moved away from it. You need the real truth before you drop big bucks on installing an overly complex system. And if you do move forward, be sure to have a reserve fund setup to pay the company that picks up all the pieces and puts you into a system that works.


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5 Easy Steps to Establish Marketing Rhythm and Momentum

Posted 12:43 PM by

We see this often. A client purchases our design and development services, gets trained in our web content management system, and then flitters away to rarely use it again. Their website marketing efforts die right after launch.

5 easy steps to establish marketing rhythm and momentum (Alfred Gockel art)Then at some point, a couple years or so down the road, they call and tell us that it's not working for them like they had hoped. Most fess up and recognize that they didn't dedicate time to add meaningful content and continuously improve the website over time. One former customer yelled and screamed that our business relationship was one-sided to the point it was insulting. Ouch. It's a good thing I take my jabs in stride (that customer never logged in once after launch).

The problem is simple. It is seen in many industries throughout the small business world. A company provides a high qualilty product or service, a buyer never uses it as it was intended to be used, and the buyer gets upset with either themselves for wasting money or with the vendor for the product not providing the expected results.

Web content management systems are no different. These are tools that provide users a mechanism for updating their website with content that, if meaningful and relevant to prospects and customers, will increase visitors, improve site engagement, and convert more visitors into paying customers or advocates. But this takes time and effort that most small business owners don't have.

Here are easy 5 steps you can take to avoid the same trap and to establish a rhythm and momentum for producing great website content:

1. Setup a Content Strategy

Evaluate the type of customers you have and want, then brainstorm questions they might have and information they seek. The best source for this might be your existing customers. Ask them two simple questions: 1) What problems did our product or service solve for you? 2) What more could we do to improve that product or service?

You'll get the information fairly easily from your customers. They know you and won't think you're trying to sell them on the product they already have. You might also gain some insight (likes & disklikes) that you wouldn't have gained otherwise.

Once you  have these questions, brainstorm topics that your customers and prospects might find interesting. Use the notes feature of your PDA or send yourself a quick email whenever a new topic pops into your head.

"Content Strategy" might seem a little overwhelming, so don't think of this as some exhaustive process. Keep it easy and keep the topics light. Otherwise you'll find yourself trying to write lengthy white papers you don't have enough time to finish.

2. Involve Your Whole Company


Whether you are a two man operation or have five hundred employees you have a wealth of knowledge within that can be tapped and leveraged. Use it. Ask your staff to contribute content. Let them come up with their own ideas and have fun with it. You're not writing novels, so as long as you proofread the posts before publishing you should be fine.

Keep in mind that not everyone will be a great writer. They may be passionate about their job but not able to communicate it well. Work with them and encourage them to keep at it and that they are not getting graded.

3. Set a Schedule

Without a schedule, you have nothing to hold your people accountable. So, setup a schedule unique to each individual. Require one post per month, bi-weekly, or per week. Our developers are required to write one per month because we keep them very busy with projects. Our marketing and sales staff are required to write one per week.

You should set incentives for employees. Instead of saying "if you don't write one per month...", try saying "if you DO write one per month, then I will....". For example, if an employee has contributed their quota consistently for 3 or 6 months, they get a $25 gift card. Or perhaps, the user with the highest trafficked post (most visitors) receives the prize. You could also provide incentives that aren't financial, such as, a prime parking space, or they get to wear jeans and a t-shirt for a week.

4. Reuse Content for Other Marketing Channels

If you have established rhythm and momentum writing new content then after a few months you should start accumulating a lot of great stuff. You can use all of this in your other marketing efforts. Send the best posts in your email marketing newsletters. Take one post and begin a larger, more in-depth effort to write a white paper. At the end of the year, you might even send a summary message or letter that has your best writing.

New content will spawn all sorts of ideas and may even change your business. Act on those.Stick to your schedule.

5. Promote Your Content

Producing great content is nice but if nobody finds it what's the point? All of your content should be broadcast to Twitter, Facebook, your email subscribers, your direct mail subscribers, local Chambers and industry organizations. There are many great organizations that provide free posting of industry news topics (keeping in mind the content is not blatant self-promotion).

Watch your website statistics to see what your top referrers are for these posts. This will help you know where to spend more time and effort in the future and what type of organizations to target with the posts. Of course, you need to watch for conversions too. More visitors does not mean more customers.

Ask trade organizations if you can provide some content for one of their newsletters, magazines, etc. This is not only a great way to spread your message but an opportunity to establilsh expertise in your industry.

However you approach writing content for your website, you won't get the job done without a plan. Spend an hour or two putting your plan together and then execute, execute, execute. After all, what good is a plan if there is no execution?

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Children's TherAplay Launches New Website

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Children's TherAplay Foundation launches new websiteThe Children's TherAplay Foundation is one of the most unique organizations I have been lucky enough to work with.  They incorporate the movement of horses (hippotherapy) into physical and occupational therapy for kids with special needs, treating a wide variety of diagnoses, including, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. 

The results TherAplay has produced are amazing - therapy on horses really improves the children's gross and fine motor skills, strength, and balance, as the movement of the horse develops muscle tone.  Just watch some of the TherAplay videos and see how their work has helped a number of kids walk for the very first time! That in itself is amazing, but what makes the place even more special, is how happy the kids are during therapy- it's not work, they get to go ride a horse!  To them, therapy is one of their favorite times of the week, which is pretty fantastic.  (See the kids in TherAplay's Photo Gallery)

Check out TherAplay's cool, new website and see how we incorporated a fun design, a new blog, passionate succcess stories, video, and photos of the TherAplay family, to better communicate TherAplay's vision and services.  But more importantly, go learn more about all the great people at TherAplay and all the good work they are doing for families and children with special needs in Central Indiana. It has been a rewarding experience for Marketpath to work with Children's TherAplay on their website design and web content management needs.

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Your Website is Like a Plant

Posted 12:14 PM by
"Your website is like a plant. Feed it and watch it grow" This past New Year's we sent this message along with a small bamboo plant to our customers. The point of the message is simple: add new content to your website and watch it grow in its visibility and engagement (two of three key components to a successfull website). If you don't add content then watch it wither away.

This is the hardest part for people to grasp when it comes to online marketing. In order to be successful, you need to not only participate  by reading others' work, you need to contribute. This means providing content that is valuable to others (hopefully to a lot of others).

When you post a blog entry you:
  1. add new keywords to your website creating new entry points for new visitors who use those keywords on search engines
  2. add more substance to engage your visitors that is informative, humorous, motivational, inspirational, etc
The same goes for adding videos, case studies, white papers, and more.

Perhaps the note to our customers should have said: Your website is like a plant. Feed it valuable, engaging content that uses strategic keywords and watch the number of visitors to your website grow.
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Website Marketing (Part 3 of 3)

Posted 8:54 PM by

Basic website marketing consists of three core parts: visibility, engagement, and conversion.

Today's topic is conversion. Once you get people visiting your site and engaged in your content, your job is to get them to convert. But before we dive in let's define the term conversion as it applies to your website.

Website marketing conversion funnel - MarketpathA conversion is an action a visitor takes within your website that leads to them give you information or money. The action could be:

  • Buying a product or service
  • Downloading a white paper
  • Making a donation
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Watching a video
  • Reading a case study
  • Playing a game

1) Start with a Goal


The desired minimum outcome of any conversion is grabbing some sort of information from your visitor - a name, email, phone number, geographical area, etc - preferrably information you can use to contact them. The best outcome is your visitors making a purchase, becoming a member, volunteering their time, or some other result that benefits your organization.

You should start with a goal. If the goal is not for the user to purchase something then what information do you want to collect from them? Keep in mind that people shy away from giving personal information so you should collect the absolute minimum you need to satisfy your goal. You cannot expect people to freely provide their information.

The most basic goal is to generate an online sale. If you don't sell directly on your website, though, your goal may be a little less obvious. An example goal is to collect a name and email address and add the visitor to your newsletter. Or perhaps, you want to get a name and phone number for individuals ready to buy. Whatever the goal, be sure to keep it simple.

One other very important consideration - you need to determine how the completion of this goal fits into your sales cycle. Does the visitor become an unqualified lead? A warm lead? An motivated buyer?

2) Give

You can't expect visitors to simply give you information without getting something in return. Unless I am highly motivated, I will not give you my name, phone, address, or email to see a few screenshots of your product. The give needs to equal or exceed the take.

Product sales are easy. You get the visitor's information and money and they get a tangible asset. But if I want to get the visitor's name, email, phone, and address I better be giving them something of significant value, such as a research paper with valuable statistics or a video tutorial on how to solve some challenge.

But here's the problem. Website visitors have an expectation that most information derived from websites should be free. After all, they've been handed free information for a decade and a half. So your offering should have obvious intrinsic value.

3) Keep It Simple, Stupid

Website marketing - conversionK.I.S.S. - this is a phrase from my 11th grade geometry teacher. Not only a very smart woman, she was quite capable of breaking down complex concepts into simple illustrations or equations. Keeping it simple means to make your calls to action simple and obvious. Take this start now button, for example. This would fit very easily on a page that discusses some type of maintenance product or program, such as a lawn care treatment program.

Again, I recommend reading Robert Bly's bookThe Copywriter's Handbook - A Step By Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells. Bly provides a great section on writing headlines and captivating taglines. You could easily apply this to calll to action buttons or links.

4) Measure


Once you have crafted your conversion goals, what you want to get from your visitors, then you'd better be sure to measure the results. For those visitors that convert, where did they come from, what other pages did they look at on your site, and how long were they on the site before they converted? Also check out the bounce rate or the drop off pages (i.e. where are visitors leaving your site). Those areas should lead you to improvements that keep visitors from abandonment.

My most important bit of advice on measurement is to not over analyze the results - at first. If you get 500 visitors each month and two leads, then it probably isn't worth the effort to create a bunch of reports detailing every aspect of their journey. But, if you have 50,000 visitors a month who, on average, visit up to three pages on your site and you only get two conversions, then definitely over analyze what's going on.

Paralysis by analysis is just a matter of perspective.

5) Report

If you have the resources, put together a weekly or monthly report that ties revenue to your website conversions. This may not be easy if you're a small business but if you are able to do this, then you'll have a clearer idea where you should spend your marketing dollars. Also, if you can tie revenue directly to leads originating from the website who then became customers, you will have great ammunition convincing the powers that be to spend more money.

 

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Asian American Alliance Announces Launch of New Website

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Asian American Alliance
Asian American Alliance, Inc. unveils its new user-friendly website, aaalliance.org, designed to further Asian American Alliance's mission of inspiring Asian Americans in central Indiana to serve and lead. 

 The site, designed and powered by Marketpath, Inc., includes a new look and feel, enhanced usability, and tools for alliance members to more easily interact and participate in member activities.  The site was built using Marketpath CMS, a web content management system, that allows non-technical users to keep relevant content up to date and to enhance communications between an organization and its members and partners.

In addition to its new look and clean visual design, the site offers tools for membership sign-up, event registration, event calendaring, news and press releases.  Furthermore, the site is now integrated with a web analytics package, allowing Asian American Alliance Board Members to monitor site usage and to make ongoing improvements for its membership.  "We are excited to raise awareness of the Asian American Alliance with a new website that offers a fresh and appealing design, while also providing usability and functionality to assist our membership and enhance our brand," said Sonia Chen, Vice President of the Asian American Alliance.  "The use of Marketpath's content management system will also allow our organization to improve communication with central Indiana's Asian American community and to provide up-to-date relevant information about our activities."

The redesign of the website is what Marketpath hopes will be a long partnership with the Asian American Alliance. "We're very excited to have the opportunity to partner with such a great organization that is committed to our community, encourages diversity, and supports the education of our next generation.  Marketpath is proud to do our small part in assisting the Asian American Alliance to achieve their goals and to improve their online presence", said Marketpath CMO, Kevin Kennedy.

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Marketpath and DreamTrust team up to launch Harry Potter themed website

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Marketpath and DreamTrust, two Indianapolis companies, are teaming up to launch HarryPotterWallArt.com, offering removable wall art for the highly popular film franchise.

Indianapolis, IN-August 11, 2009-Marketpath, Inc. (www.marketpath.com) was chosen to design and develop DreamTrust Corp.'s new website, www.HarryPotterWallArt.com. The innovative website will sell reusable wall decals, consisting of licensed images from the Harry PotterTM films.

DreamTrust needed a partner that could bring its product to life on the Web, helping fans visualize how the Pinhedz wall decals could transform their homes. To accomplish this goal, DreamTrust selected Marketpath, Inc., an Indianapolis based company specializing in website design and development services and on-demand Web content management and e-commerce solutions.

"We are excited to work with Marketpath to deliver this innovative new website for Harry Potter fans of all ages," said Rick Barretto, DreamTrust founder. "By partnering with Marketpath, Inc., who specializes in Web software and design, we'll bring our products to life on the Web with a richness that allows fans to envision how their favorite characters and scenes will look in their homes. Marketpath's software will enable our marketing staff to update and enhance the site easily without having to rely on technical developers and long timelines. Their software is extremely user-friendly, which lets us add new products and features quickly to the site."

DreamTrust Corp. offers hundreds of officially licensed images for sale from each movie in the series. Their patented Pinhedz material consists of self-adhesive, fabric matte paper that attaches easily to any non-porous surface. DreamTrust brings to life the Harry Potter images, varying in size from 12 inches to life-size pictures, and makes them available for the home or business.

Marketpath CEO Matt Zentz believes www.HarryPotterWallArt.com will be a huge success. "When you combine DreamTrust's vision and superior Pinhedz product with Marketpath's Web content management software and design expertise, the result is a website that should please our target audience. And with our help, Harry Potter fans should be able to immerse themselves in the film experience while in their own homes."

 

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Website Marketing (part 2 of 3) - Engagement

Posted 7:19 PM by

Basic website marketing consists of three core parts: visibility, engagement, and conversion.

Today's topic is engagement. Once you get people visiting your site you need to give them a reason to stick around for a while and come back. You can accomplish this through good content and intuitive usabillity.

Content: Traditional Web Pages

 

Traditional web pages within your site serve several purposes. Here are a few: to deliver information, to tell a story, and to get someone to perform some sort of action (like making a purchase or downloading a white paper). The question you should ask for each page is "What is the goal of this page?" What do you want visitors to do? Do you want them to perform some sort of action? Do you want to build your brand by delivering entertaining or informative content? This is where you start. Figure out the goal of each page and you will have a strong foundation for the page content.

In Garr Reynolds' book, Presentation Zen, he suggests crafting your presentation offline - which means no computer. This gives you more freedom to craft your message and doesn't bind you to the constraints of a computer-based program. So, grab a notepad or find a white board and layout your page based on the goals you defined.

With an outline and plan in place, you can begin writing or hire someone to do the writing for you. As you write, keep your core audience in mind. Should you spend the first third of the page discussing the chemical composition of hydrochloric acid or just get to the point that it is used during the production process of your very sheik PVC furniture? The answer depends on your audience.

I would recommend reading Robert Bly's book called The Copywriter's Handbook - A Step By Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells.  This book contains a great deal of tips and pointers on writing great copy and also includes a lot about persuasive titles and headlines.

Content: Social Media

 
Social media provides many platforms for less formal communications with customers and prospects. Social media, by nature, is .... well ... social. It is a conversation between two or more people. One of the most cost effective tools you can add to your communications and marketing arsenal is a blog. Blogs provide a place for visitors to return again and again as long as you provide content worthy of their return.

Blogs can be used to drive traffic to your website with search optimized keywords and they can be used to build expertise in a specific industry. They can also be used to provide greater visibility into the happenings of your organization. Again, your goals need to be set before starting a blog but once you have one or more in place, have at it! Let your visitors leave comments and be sure to respond to those comments. This creates a two way dialog.

Other social media tools you can use are those that already have mass appeal, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I won't go into any detail how to use these tools but they can provide another mechanism for reaching out and engaging customers and prospects. I would highly recommend reading groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research. This will give you a lot of insight into how social media can work for you and in what circumstances you may want to use it.

Social media is simply another way for you to connect to others. It can provide a richer, more meaningful experience for everyone if it is used properly.

Usability

When a visitor lands on your page, the paths they can take should be very clear and intuitive. If a visitor has to work too hard to find what they're looking for, they will most likely leave. Make it easy. People find things when a website has a familiar navigational structure broken down into sensible chunks. 

One of my favorite websites is all about bad websites - Web Pages That Suck. Here's their page on web pages with bad navigation. If you can avoid their list you might be safe.

Adam Brand, VP Creative and Client Services for Marketpath, maintains a blog called Great Website Content: Balancing Form and Function. Adam provides a lot of insight into what makes a great website. Although he doesn't post often, his entries are still worthy of a read.

The Bottom Line

Once you get visitors to your website, you need to provide engaging content that either gets them to do something or keeps them coming back. There are many different ways to do this through good copy and strong usability.

At the end of the day we want commitment and want to ask our customers and prospects "Will you marry me?" Of course, we want them to say "Yes!" So, make it worth their while and engage them.

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Website Marketing (part 1 of 3) - Visibility

Posted 2:02 PM by

Basic website marketing consists of three core parts: visibility, engagement, and conversion.

Today's topic is visibility.If your website cannot be found then you can't engage visitors and you certainly can't convert them. So how do you get found? The answer to this question depends on the purpose of your website. Almost every website has an intended goal that may or may not be explicitly obvious, which is to influence users into taking some sort of action. Before you can do that, though, you must first get them to your website.

I like to think of the mechanisms driving visitors to your website as chauffeurs. Chauffeurs act as motivators that direct individuals to your organization's main website, to a landing page, or a microsite. They can be online and offline. Here's a list:

    Visibility drivers for website marketingOnline Website Chauffeurs
  • Search engines
  • Email marketing (newsletters, promotions, etc)
  • Social networking sites
  • Blogs
  • Pay-per-click advertisements
  • Podcasting
  • Video magazines
  • Banner Ads
  • Backlinks from other websites 

    Offline Website Chauffeurs
  • Radio ads
  • TV ads
  • Direct mail
  • Trade shows
  • Speaking engagements
  • Public relations
  • Business networking
  • Billboards
  • Seminars

All of these marketing methods may still provide brand recognition and may drive business directly. But more and more often, individuals who see your ads, see you speak, or read your blogs want to learn more about your organization anonymously. That is, they want to hide behind the cloak of web anonymity to see if you can fulfill their needs or wants before they ever engage in two-way communications - all because they know that if a two-way conversation begins, the hard selling tactics will also begin.

As a web marketer, you need to figure out which chauffeurs will capture the attention of your prospects. Once you have that part figured out, you need to make sure that every single point of contact with prospects involves a link to your website (i.e. front page, landing page, or microsite).

Here are a few steps you should take to boost your visibility:

Step #1 - Initial Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Basic SEO is fairly simple with the right tools. You need to come up with search keywords that your prospects are using. Use Google AdWord's Keyword Tool to help find less competive keywords. If you mostly do business locally you should incorporate local terms. For example, we target "Indianapolis web content management." Another great tool is HubSpot's Website Grader. This will give you a website visibility grade and provide a great amount of information for improving overall ranking.

There are firms that can help you with this. Just don't get suckered into ongoing SEO fees unless there are very clear measurable results tied to your agreement (which most companies won't do). Many companies tout themselves as SEO experts and will charge the ongoing fee for "link building" or "ongoing optimization." Most are snake oil salesman. But some (actually very few) will engage with you and help you craft an SEO strategy that can work. Stay alert, though. If an SEO firm says they will boost your visibility but don't contact you for a month.... well, you should see the writing on the wall.

For most people, SEO is something that they can do with the right tool and a couple hours investment to read on up on the basics. Seriously, it's not rocket science. Type "search engine optimization" on any search engine and you'll find thousands of websites with free information on the subject.

Step #2 - Calls to Action
When you put together marketing pieces, what are your calls to action? To call a phone number? To come to your store? In most cases, you will want to have a very obvious link to your website, landing page, or microsite on all marketing pieces that prospects see. This gives them an opportunity to continue the anonymous engagement and investigate further. What do you put your website link on? Absolutely everything! If you've put out any sort of communication and haven't included a direct link to your website, you may have just lost new customers who may have had interest but aren't yet ready to talk.

Step #3 - Social Media
I'll admit, I haven't completely embraced social media as many in my industry have. The problem with social media is the amount of time it requires to successfully establish yourself and your brand. If you compare apples to apples (online social networking with offline networking) I will argue that offline networking has a more immediate and longer lasting benefit. To me, being able to shake hands with someone and look them in the eye provides a stronger connection than the virtual connections of online social sites.

That shouldn't exlude social media as a driver to your website, though. Becoming active to any extent in social media will help with SEO and brand recognition and can lead to some very interesting connections that weren't possible offline. If you are able to capture the attention of people you've made a connection with online then they are more likely to have interest in learning about you and your organization. Where do you think they go first? That's right, your website. The important thing is to make sure you provide links back to your website when you leave comments, setup profiles, etc.

I'm not going to go over these, but here are a few links to social media sites that may be of interest: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, and del.icio.us.

Step #4 - Stay Active
With the three previous steps, you need to stay active. Complacency will lead to lower visibility from search engines, direct marketing, and social media sites. With SEO, put in place rules that govern keyword use in any new content put on the web. With marketing communications, establish baseline calls-to-action for everything that include links to your website, landing page, or microsite. And for social media, stay in the conversation. Your old content will stay on the site but it's like a busy email inbox - once a day goes by, it's buried.

Keep an eye out for "Website Marketing (part 2 of 3) - Engagement" about how to better engage all those new visitors coming to your site!

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Marketpath Launches New Phi Sigma Kappa Website

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Phi Sigma Kappa uses Marketpath Content Management Solution (Marketpath CMS)
Marketpath launched a newly designed and branded website for Phi Sigma Kappa that coincides with their 106th anniversary. Marketpath designed and delivered the new site, rebuilt forms to collect donations, dues, and chapter payments, and provided a Marketpath CMS account that enables Phi Sigma Kappa staff to manage existing content, create new pages, and modify site navigation.


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A More Effective Website

Posted 3:27 PM by

What have you done for your website lately?  Or perhaps I should ask a better question, what has your website done for you lately? In these times of a rough economy, hopefully the answer isn't "nothing."  An underutilized, non-producing website is simply a wasted opportunity, and the worst part is, it's a cheap and easy opportunity.  Sure, you could dump ten thousand dollars into a beautiful new website, and it might yield some quantifiable results, but what is going to keep people coming back?  A fresh message, that's what.

Without a simple and cost effective way to keep your website up to date and current, all that money that was spent on your website was, in essence, thrown away.  With the right tool, a good content management system, you can turn your website into a wealth of knowledge for your customers and potential clients.  No longer do you have to worry about being charged for each and every update.  With Marketpath CMS, you have the freedom and the ability to change your site anytime you wish from any PC with internet access.  What would you do with all of that power?  Hopefully, the answer to that question is "make my website work for me!"     

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Engage Website Visitors - Tell a Story

Posted 5:17 PM by

Engage website visitors by telling a storyHere is something to think about when trying to write more engaging webiste copy - tell a story.

It's really that simple. Why does your website have to be a stuffy replication of your brochure? It doesn't! Tell a story and you will not only draw the attention of your new visitors, you may also better engage existing customers who are looking for a new way to use your product or service.

Stories, especially those that touch the heart or tickle the funny bone, will draw attention because people naturally enjoy stories.

That reminds me, this one time... at band camp....

Just kidding, I've never been to band camp but I have been to computer camp. I think it was 1985 and computers only did one thing well back then - Oregon Trail.

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Track your website's performance with newly integrated Google Analytics

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We have integrated Google Analytics right into Marketpath CMS. You can now learn more about where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site. You'll get the information you need to write better ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives, and create higher-converting websites. Learn more about the benefits directly from Google.

Google Analytics replaces the default 'Visitor Tracking' panel within Marketpath CMS and opens up in its own tab. If you're interested in knowing what your website is doing, call us today at 800-657-7786. Integration of Google Analytics is included with any Marketpath CMS account.

 

 

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Website Chauffeurs

Posted 1:26 PM by

Both online and offline marketing (such as email, blogging, direct mail, ads, etc) should all contain some sort of action item. In most cases, the action item will direct people to a website or landing page where they can learn more about a particular product, service, or promotion. This is very common practice and many of those channels can be utilized affordably. But this is where marketers often fail (or get hosed for that matter).

Take a short time to look at the diagram below. Each spoke represents some sort of marketing channel, or in my terms, a Website Chauffeur. These mechanisms capture the attention of their viewers and then chauffeur them to the website where the next step in the selling process begins.

Matt Zentz - Marketpath Website Chauffeur Model

Online chauffeurs are shown in blue and offline chauffeurs are shown in orange.

Website Chauffeurs are great at capturing attention and bringing individuals to the next step at the center of the spokes - the website (or the hub). But the problem is Website Chauffeurs don't convert visitors into customers. That is the job of your website. Wherever visitors land within your website your message should build value before attempting to make a sale.

This is why it is so important to have a simple and powerful Web content management system to help you adjust your message. Chances are you will not get that message quite right the first time, or the second time, or the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth time. Hopefully, you get the point. Having a tool that doesn't punish you for making changes is a necessity, unless you like to send cash to a developer at $100 per hour. A Web content management system gives you the capability to adjust the message yourself and save enormous amounts of time and money.

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Content Management - It's not as easy as it looks

Posted 4:22 PM by

I am notoriously guilty of losing focus in my blog.  I often get so wrapped up in all the wonderful tools available (like blogging, email marketing, and social media), that I forget to cover content management.  Although Marketpath in many ways is a full-service internet marketing shop, our focus is (and should remain) product and service-driven

joe-six-pack's CMSContent management is arguably the most important part of an organization's online presence.  The reason I believe this is that so many of your potential customers are not bloggers and don't participate in social media (though I do believe it is important to use your site to help expose visitors to social media).  When Joe-six-pack is Google-searching to find parts for his '86 Camaro, there is a good chance that he won't find a blog or twitter feed relevant.  The problem that's arising is that there is so much content in the Google index that comes from social media that it can be hard for a traditional website to compete.  This phenomenon increases the importance of utilizing social media, and it makes it completely necessary that the content on your site is relevant.

Marketpath CMS | Indianapolis Content Management'But Colin, there are so many CMS options (many of them free) that allow users to update the content on their sites.'  This is true.  There might be literally hundreds of CMS tools out there on the web and they are relatively easy to find.  The problem is that many site administrators get lost along the way.  Once it becomes possible to keep a website up-to-date, many users still don't do as much as they should, because they don't know how.

On the Content BusThis is where it is helpful to have a partner you can trust, a consultant who you can count on to point you in the right direction.  No one is born knowing how to optimize a site for search.  No one is born knowing how to create online conversions.  These things can be taught by knowledgeable professionals, and education is exactly what most organizations need to go along with their content management system.  We're here to help.  Class will be in session all week.  Feel free to attend.

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Marketpath Website Revamped

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7/23/2008 - Marketpath has finished updating their website with a fresh look and clean feel.  The site is now live at http://www.marketpath.com
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Content Management Made Easy

Posted 2:49 AM by

What stands in the way of you updating your website more frequently?  (Lack of) technology, that's what!  Machines should be doing the busy work, not you.  You should be able to freely express your ideas and opinions using tools that make the job easy.  So what are you going to do about it?

Marketpath CMS makes editing content easy.  Easy enough for this guy.  Maybe.  Thats the idea anyway.  You get where I'm going with this...Content management used to be in the hands of only the programmers (and the bosses who tell them what to do), but given the right tools for the job, anyone can contribute relevant content to their company's website.  With Marketpath CMS, you can update your site as fast as you can think type.

Skills can vary wildly between human beings.  Some can be bad at both spelling and haircuts yet be great at growing a killer moustache and wearing a bandana.  Some are outstanding at writing code and somehow bad at bowhunting.  Should a lack of programming skills keep you from being able to update your company's website?  No!  You should put the power back in your hands and make things easy with Marketpath CMS. 

Having said that...  Just because anyone can manage content doesn't mean you should let everyone and their brothers have control of your content.  You still need to make sure your content management is in competent hands.  Maybe we'll talk about that problem, and Marketpath's solution to it, next time. 

BTW, yes... the Cardinals are my favorite team, and I realize he is wearing a Cardinals shirt.  Some of us redbird fans can actually spell... Its just a coincidence, I ashure you.

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YPCI Goes Live with New Website

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4/8/2008 - Young Professionals of Central Indiana has chosen Marketpath CMS as their choice for getting the most out of their website.

YPCI's new website is intended to be a tool for both members and YPCI to continue to develop lasting connections in the Central Indiana business community. 
 
Paid members of YPCI will have access to additional features that are not available to non-members, including the ability to edit your profile (including a picture and contact information if you so desire) and to track both upcoming and past YPCI events.  Paid members will also have access to a member directory that includes information about the other members of YPCI (only that which members opt to have shown). 
 
The website also has greater functionality for the Board of YPCI and will allow them to better plan and execute events, as well as collecting information regarding those members who would like to become even more involved in YPCI planning and leadership.
 
For more information on YPCI, check out http://www.ypci.net/.

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Dominion Group Website

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5/30/2007 - Dominion Group, an Indianapolis-based provider of comfortable and affordable housing, launches a new website designed and built by Marketpath, Inc.  The new website incorporates an appealing, modern design with the ability to search for apartments by type and location. 

The Dominion Group website also includes a document management application that enables over 30 apartment communities to share business critical forms and other information.

Visit http://www.dominiongroup.net to learn more about Dominion Group.

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Alway Development Corp Website

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5/14/2007 - Alway Development Corporation, a South Bend, IN based custom home builder, launches a new website designed and built by Marketpath, Inc.  The new website highlights two Alway communities, Fernwood and Deer Hollow, and presents detailed information about homes for sale and available models from which to begin the building process.

Alway manages their website with Marketpath CMS, a website content management solution.

Visit http://www.alwaydevelopment.com to learn more about Alway Development Corporation.

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