Mobile Websites: the Dos and Don’ts

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Mobile devices are catching up so fast that it is predicted that mobile web usage will surpass desktop web usage by 2015. It has become so important, a regular website that was doing great deal of good to a business, will no longer be as yielding without a complementary mobile website. Regional businesses in particular, have something to worry about, because more than 50% of local searches are made on mobile devices.

Regular websites, resized for smaller screens, don’t make good mobile websites. So, how is mobile websites different from regular websites? What accounts to a great mobile website? Before you begin working on a mobile website, one needs to understand how Mobile Internet is different.

* Mobile phones and tablets use a relatively slower connection than conventional wired ones.

* The arena is very small; but the audience is the same.

* Mobile devices are most used on the verge of decision-making, so the experience influences the decision.

Only the essentials:

The best mobile websites are ones that deliver the best navigation experience, despite the limited real estate. So the first thing to do is to prioritize the content that would make it to the small screen. What essential can be put in, without a horizontal scroll bar, and without making the page too long.If it is fairly long, have a link on the footer to take the visitor to the top of the page without having to scroll back.

Consistency:

Your mobile website should match your regular website in appearance. This makes it look familiar to returning visitors, and establishes a connection immediately. It could be the color schemes, logo and other trademark visual elements.

Readability.

Mobile devices are most likely to be held at arm’s length. So smaller text and too many links are going to make it all the more difficult to find a speck of information. Interaction is going to be “touch”, rather than point and click. So the interactive items like links need to be touchable icons.

And Writability too. Text input fields on forms can be a pain if there are too many. It is not so easy to type using an on-screen keyboard on hand-held devices.

Speed:

Having too many images as in your regular website can seriously slow the page down on mobile devices. Use very few, compressed images.

Mobile-Specific Features:

Smart phones offer features like “Tap to call” or “send an SMS”. A visitor can touch the contact number on your website to initiate a call instantly. Features like this ensure seamless navigation, resulting in higher conversions.

These mostly are the visual elements that enhance the mobile browsing experience of visitors. There is more to this; the search engine’s side of the story. Stay tuned.


Or, get a mobile-optimized version of your website, automatically, with Zoho Sites.

HelpOnClick live chat software and Zoho CRM join forces

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This is a Guest Post by Neran Ashkenazi, CEO of OnClick Solutions Ltd.

What if I told you that you could generate at least 40% more leads without generating new traffic to your site? Sounds good right? Then you’ll love the innovative chat system we at HelpOnClick have to offer.

Including live chat in your site will give you an advantage over your competitors who do not have this capability. Customers in the digital age do not want to “open a ticket” or send an email through a “contact me” section. They want answers now. Having a chat capability enables this impatient potential customer to have a chance to ask a question in real time and get an answer right then and there. When they get what they want, they’re more likely to continue talking with you and buy something.

To get a better understanding of how this works picture yourself going to a new retail or service business online. You arrive at the site and notice that you are being asked to join a live conversation. You find this great because you have tons of questions to ask and were just about to leave the website. You join the chat and realize you are talking to a live person. You get your questions answered in a short amount of time. As a result you buy the product or service or schedule a phone call to continue the discussion.

CRM software in many ways become more advanced over the years. The need to maintain a strong relationship with your customers is an important rule to follow. Zoho CRM is a great system to do that and close sales. But to do that, you need the leads. That’s where HelpOnClick comes in with our new live chat to Zoho CRM integration that will allow you to enjoy both worlds.

Are you new to HelpOnClick live chat? If you are, we’d love to offer you, as a Zoho CRM blog reader, a free 14 day tryout + 80% discount on your first paid month. Just use coupon code ZOHO during checkout. Check us out on our website: http://www.helponclick.com

- Neran

5 Keys for Transitioning Your Business Online

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This is a guest post by Sandra Faleris of SmBizSuccessTeam. To read more from Sandra, visit her blog.

Every business can use an online presence, whether they think so or not. Save your customers time by putting together a website that showcases your products and services. You don’t have to go e-commerce (allowing customers to purchase online), however, for heavy computer users going to a static website can be frustrating.

The world is moving toward convenience at a break-neck speed. Just look at the competitive cell phone providers who tout faster browsers and cellular technology.

Faster is the new bigger. Knowing where your industry is headed is key.

Losing business to those who offer “more convenience” is something you can count on if you don’t jump on the train now. It’s the way life is headed; one would have to be blind to ignore the fast pace of the information highway.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, e-commerce sales exceeded $194 billion in 2011. This 16.1% increase is another indication that e-commerce is taking a bigger portion of market share from brick-and-mortar establishments.

So far, the categories that are not purchased online are: Gas, groceries, autos, food and beverage services. However, if you are in an industry that is becoming more competitive online, here’s a guide to help get you started.

Half-on, half-off.

No one is recommending that you abandon your physical location, if it is working for you. There are still plenty of customers who prefer to see merchandise or deal with their professionals in person. Doing both is ideal, for the time being.

Here are the primary reasons to get your business online now:

  • To capture sales from the audience that prefers to shop from their home
  • Providing online information helps the sales effort and often allows for less trained or fewer employees on-premise
  • To reduce overhead costs; the higher the percentage of online sales, the more reason to consider smaller, physical quarters and fewer employees
  • To stay competitive

Costs for creating an online presence have been reduced substantially, making it an affordable move for everyone.

5 Key ingredients for a successful online transition:

  1. Planning: Pick a start date that gives more than enough time for development (ideally, 3-months)
  2. Selecting: Find a freelance web designer or consider using a city or industry portal, from where you can post your website. There are also a myriad of services that will create your website: some for free and others for a monthly fee or a percentage of sales. (Check out our recently launched service, Zoho Sites).
  3. Developing: Develop a Content Outline and gather photos to give to the designer.
  4. Writing: Write the text you want included or hire a copywriter to work with the designer. (It’s best if you can at least write the salient points that need to be included.) Remember to set aside an area of the website for specials or information that can be updated on a weekly or monthly basis.
  5. Testing: Test-drive it for a month before going “live”.
  6. Promoting: Promote it with a discount offer for trial usage. Get feedback from the first 100 users and make necessary changes ASAP.

It’s no longer the intimidating move of yesteryear. In today’s techno-age, a website is your calling card, which provides pertinent information about your business and its products and services.  Isn’t it time to move ahead and join the Internet ranks?

We’re flat-world-friendly! Are you?

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In 2005, Thomas L Friedman proposed that the world was becoming flat. Today, we can be certain that it already has! What that has done is to unify consumers and businesses across the World.

All you need today is a product or service that makes life easier for someone, somewhere in the world. The Internet has made it remarkably easy to offer products & services globally. However, it’s not just about selling, now, is it? What you sell, you also have to support thereafter.

At Zoho, we have customers across various time zones. And, our support commitments have to be restricted to each time zone. Selling to a single global market comes with that peculiar challenge. We spoke to some customers and they all said “Hey, we have that challenge too! Can you fix it?”

Much to our surprise, even some popular enterprise-quality helpdesk software didn’t do anything to fix this handicap. So, we set out to do what we’ve always done best. We found a simple way to get rid of the challenge and built it right into Zoho Support. We’re excited to tell you all about it!

You can have a different set of business hours for each time zone. Your SLAs will ‘automagically’ tie into these business hours too. All you have to do is setup the business hours for each of the time zones you’re servicing. Pretty simple, ain’t it? Pretty useful too!

Zoho Support Custom Business Hours

Zoho has consistently empowered businesses to succeed in a flat world. And this is just one more step forward in that direction.

Try it for your business and tell us what you think. We really hope you’ll love it.

Now, Create Workflow Rules for Calls, Tasks & Events too!

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Ok, the title is a give away and I’m sure many of you in Sales & Customer Support will definitely find this one useful.

But before I proceed, here’s a little background:

Ever since the launch of the New, Simpler CRM, our aim has been to make your CRM experience as simple as possible. And with Workflow Rules, you should be able to automate most of your activities, so that you focus on spending more time with your prospects and customers.

This update is also an effort towards the same. Here’s more on that:

Imagine a case where you cold-call prospects in the call center you work for. A successful day depends on the number of calls that you have attended to, and also on the number of calls that you have closed. The chances are high that a prospect you called is interested in your offer and would like a follow-up call. You now have to assign this to a field sales rep who has to follow-up with the prospect. With Workflow Rules for Calls, this is how you’d do it:

Create a Workflow Rule for the Calls module. Name the rule the way you like it. The rule should be executed whenever the Call Result is ‘Interested‘.

Create a related task.

Save your Workflow Rule.

Now every time you change the value of the ‘Call Result’ field to ‘Interested’, your Workflow Rule will be executed.

Think of all the benefits:

  • No manual entry. Your rule will take care of creating a task, assigning it and the notification too.
  • And more importantly, you save time. You can focus on your next call.

There are other ways in which you can use this feature. Like these here:
(Oh, and just to clarify – Activities in Zoho CRM include Tasks, Events and Calls).

  • Send email alerts if your task is pending for a week after the due date
  • Follow-up calls. Trigger the second or third call based on the call type
  • Send notifications to senior management after you complete ‘high-priority’ tasks
  • Send meeting invitations to customers automatically

Do try this feature and let us know your thoughts. If you find other scenarios that work well for your business, please share them with us.

London 2012 Olympics: Stats & Dashboards

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Plotting and visualizing data can be fun. And if the data involves the ongoing Olympics, it can be doubly so! As with previous Olympics (Vancouver 2010Beijing 2008), we have compiled some interesting dashboards for London 2012 Olympics too. The dashboards are powered by Zoho Reports and hosted on Zoho Sites.

We plan to add new data and reports as the Olympic games progress, and we will keep you updated. If you like to see any other report added, do leave your comments.

London 2012 Dashboards

Domain Names. Big Deal.

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A domain name is to a website, what SSN is to you; no two websites can have the same domain name. It is to uniquely identify you in the online space. It is essential that you do it right the very first time, because it is the only best time to do it. So, what factors should influence you in choosing a good custom domain?

1. Subdomains Vs. Custom Domains

www.yourbusiness.someotherbusiness.com is a subdomain. www.yourbusiness.com is a custom domain. Where you host your business website is the last thing your client is bothered about. He needs credibility (She needs even more). Which of the two domains look credible? Which of the two websites above would your visitor feel comfortable in sharing credit card information with?

2. Keyword-laden domains Vs. Brandable domains

Every domain name translates to an IP address that machines understand better. But domain names are for us; humans.

Domains that are easily remembered are the ones that are easy to remember. Straightforward? Short and Brandable domains create an excitement; domains like apple.com. Keyword-laden domains have their advantage as well. If you are a multi-product company, then you might want your domain to be generic, so that all your products can be marketed with the same brand value. But for single-product organizations, having a relevant keyword or an industry-jargon, in combination with a brandable name could be a great bet.

But the best part is, that there are exceptions. And plenty of room for creativity. What would you call a domain name that is an entire sentence, and is about 30 characters long? A bad domain? Before you answer, check this out!

When it comes to SEO, Google says it will treat both kinds of domains equally. So algorithmically, it really doesn’t make a big difference. Watch this Google Video. It is a year old, but should be relevant.

3. Extension

The importance of extensions is immense in Google searches. The results vary depending on you being signed in to Google or not, your region settings on your browser, and lately, the +1′s of your friends and contacts on Google. It is all a measure to display the most relevant results to a searcher.

yourbusiness.com isn’t the same as yourbusiness.org. Each extension has it’s meaning. .com is widely used; .org is for non-profit organizations; .gov the government; and there’s more. If your business is serving a global audience, it is best to pick a .com domain name.

4. Brand Establishment

As and when you choose a custom domain name for your business website, you also need to ensure that the same name is available on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other viral social media platforms. It would hurt your brand if one of them does not belong to your organization, and is posting stuff that is not just appropriate.

5. Business email hosting

When you have your own domain name, you can host your business email too, so that it reads, you@yourbusiness.com, and not you@gmail.com or you@zoho.com. The former promotes your domain name and helps in establishing an identity.

These are why picking a domain name is one of the first things you should do when setting up a business. Like falling in love, all the worse when you do it late. The one in your mind might be taken already. Hope this helps you in picking a great domain name for your business website. And business email, because business website building and email hosting always go hand-in-hand.