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Top 5 Best Practices in Franchise Website Design

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Franchises have an interesting dilemma when it comes to search marketing and website design. The corporate hub usually maintains overarching control of the brand, but local franchisees need a relevant website that connects with their nearby customers. To ensure that local franchisees are able to develop a robust presence in their market while adhering to corporate mandates requires a delicate balance. Below are the top 5 best practices for franchise website design and marketing.

  1. Defer to Corporate on Branding: Your franchise has likely built its multi-million dollar brand through years of trial and error. Though you have rights as a franchisee, even minor changes to the logo, color palette, vision statement, and font can have repercussions. You need to leave those elements alone and focus on the regional aspects of your positioning.
     
  2. Franchise Website Development (Marketpath, Inc.)Assess the Local Market: After you’ve accepted that there’s little you can do with company brand, you can focus on the pieces that will draw customers to your local franchise.  Make sure your website has a section specific to your local market, where you can provide content that may be specific to your geographic region.  Having the flexibility to easily feature different products or services can go a long way towards local success.

    You may also want to build online campaigns that speak to problems and solutions in your area. If your business is an auto maintenance and repair company, for example, consider the value you can provide customers specific to your climate. Perhaps your organization sells water filtration systems. You could build a campaign around where your water is sourced. Or if you own a restaurant franchise, consider campaigns that connect to local events, teams or themes.
     
  3. Everyone Likes a Deal: The corporate franchise may have national offers, but as a franchisee, you probably have the leeway to offer specials specific to your market. When designing your website, make sure your franchisor includes a section for deals exclusive to your city or region. Consider including a subscription form to collect visitor email addresses for newsletters and coupons.
     
  4. Keep Control of Social Media: Headquarters will have its own content marketing collateral, which you should be able to use. Yet engaging with your local customers is even more important. If a customer uses social media like Facebook or Twitter to discuss your local franchise, you need the ability to respond and to develop ongoing communication with your customers and prospects. It’s corporate’s brand, but it’s your business and specific customer.
     
  5. Employ a Flexible CMS: Your website and content marketing system needs to meet the needs of both the franchisor and the franchisee while maintaining across the board consistency.  Whatever website management or content management solution you choose should offer the flexibility to streamline corporate branding while enabling local franchisees to manage and update content related to their location or territory.

To learn more about ways to maximize franchise website design and marketing, contact Marketpath today.

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What is the Value of Your Time? The Case against Open-Source CMS

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The debate has raged on for years now about the value of an open-source Content Management System (CMS) versus the on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CMS model. Yes, Wordpress, which holds a large chunk of the market, is free. Anyone can pick a template and toss something up on the web. And everyone likes things that are free, right? Perhaps, but you also get what you pay for.

Marketpath CMS - Efficient and Effective Website MarketingThe concept of a free CMS is a bit misleading. Yes, it’s true that open-source code is developed by a community of people who offer it to users at no charge. But just because a technology is available doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do with it.

Suppose you get through the basic steps of getting a site up and running. Now what? Who do you turn to when you have a question? What happens when it’s time to update the source code? Free technologies don’t come with award-winning 24/7 customer service departments. Your likely options are suspect online documentation and Wikipedia. Not too comforting. How much time do you want to spend digging for answers? What’s that time worth to you?

Take the lack of help desk support a step further. Basic technical support is one thing; get hit by a virus or hacked, and you’re looking at a whole other set of problems. Security should be a primary concern for anyone carving out online real estate. Open source plug-ins can solve some security issues, but they’re not a guarantee. Worst case scenario, you get bugged, information is compromised, and the site comes crashing down. Again, who do you call? How much time do want to spend trying to fix the problem?

How about new functionality?  With open-source systems you can find free plug-ins that add new capabilities to your site.  But you’ll need someone to install them and hopefully understand them from a technical perspective.  With Marketpath CMS, upgrades are included with your subscription and you receive them automatically – no hassle. 

Take a few moments to consider the overall potential for frustration. If you’re a business owner, your focus needs to be building the company - and your website should be a strategic component of your plan to do so. You can’t afford to be bogged down in technical minutia. Marketpath’s on-demand, custom CMS eliminates these concerns so you make the most of your time, increase revenue, and reduce costs.

Contact us today to learn more about our content management, web design and website development services..

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Four Questions to Help You Select the Perfect Website Design Company

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Accent Maid ServicesSelecting the right web designer for your website can be a tough decision. Costs, levels of experience, and expected outcomes all factor into the pick. You’re not alone if it all seems a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be if you keep your process simple and focused. Consider these four questions for selecting the perfect website design company:

  1. Can you show me some examples of your work? A simple question and one that should be completely expected by a design firm. Of course you want to see what prospective company has done of late. Do they specialize in certain industries? Are they incorporating the latest technologies? How would they build the site? Do their designs incorporate their clients’ business objectives and strategies? You’re looking for designs that speak to you and match your rough vision.
     
  2. How do you ensure I can track the data? Building your new website is only part of the plan. You need to be able to gauge whether you’re reaching the target audience and achieving your organization’s goals. Your design firm should understand the importance of website strategy and analytics to measure site results.  They should also be able to train you on the process for assessing your traffic and conversion data.
     
  3. Venture LogisticsWhat is your communications process? You’re investing not just in a firm’s design capabilities, but also in its ability to convey trust. Basically, you want to feel comfortable paying the bill. The firm you select should have a proactive plan to communicate with you about the status of your project throughout the process. At no point should you be wondering what’s going on with the creation of your website.
     
  4. What support and services do you provide? A new website is just the start of the relationship. You want a firm that’s going to be there to offer customer support, training, and a plan to help you make the most of your investment. A site is necessary to carve out your organization’s online real estate, but you need to feed it. Easy to use content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) solutions can go a long way to maximizing your website investment.

The four questions above will help you make the right decision when selecting your design and website development agency. Is your company in line for a new website? Marketpath can answer these questions and more, ensuring that your online presence matches your goals.

Contact us today at our Indianapolis office.

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Website Magazine Names Marketpath One of Top Content Management Platforms

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Marketpath is honored to have Marketpath CMS, our easy to use website content management system, named as one of the industry’s Top Content Management Platforms by Website Magazine. Last month, Website Magazine selected Marketpath CMS as one of their Top 50 Web Content Management Platforms (CMS), based on extensive evaluation criteria. 
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What is Content Marketing and Why is it Important?

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Traditional outbound marketing and advertising have taken a backseat to “Content Marketing.”  Instead of buying ads, banners, and search rankings, companies all over the web are turning to this relatively new form of attracting and gaining clients and customers.   

     Content marketing is the creation of unique content for use in
     blog posts, 
videos, white papers, images (infographics), how-to guides,
     case studies, to gain more leads and acquire more customers.

If the content is unique and interesting, the message can spread across the web quickly.  Users and search engines alike have begun to pick up on this trend, bringing their purchasing power or rankings with it, respectively.  Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Dedicate the Time

Just seeing the words “unique content” might make small to medium sized business owners & marketers cringe.  Creating something that is unique and interesting is the most difficult task of the entire process, so don’t try to skip over it.  It is important that your message is clear, concise and entertaining.

Repurpose Content

Once you have content to market, repurpose it in many different forms.  Often times a blog post can be turned into a short video.  Add more data to the blog post and turn it into a case study.  Take that case study and make it visual, via an infographic.  The same topic can be used throughout multiple channels, minimizing the time it takes to create new topics and content. 

Share it

What good is shareable content if nobody can find it in the first place?  None.  Don’t make the mistake of putting up a blog post and expecting people to get there.  Create an email newsletter and/or tweet out links to it.  Have a video?  Put it on YouTube and share it across your social channels.  Have an interesting infographic or image?  Pinterest and Facebook should be your targets. 

So, why is it important?

With the ever evolving search engine algorithms valuing different tactics, having unique and interesting content has always remained important.  Now more than ever Google is focusing on bringing these content creating websites to the top of their rankings.

More content equals more visitors which usually equals more leads (assuming your website isn’t a complete dumpster fire for conversions).   



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Are SaaS Content Management Systems Right for SMBs?

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We’ve covered this topic a bit before on our blog, but recent data that has come to light makes it worth revisiting.  The question is, being a small to medium sized business (SMB), is it time to take a hard look at software-as-a-service (SaaS) for your content management needs?  The short answer – yes.  The longer answer – SaaS CMS platforms have come a long way over the years and provide companies with flexibility and reliability that installed or open-source systems lack. 

Its Time For SaaS

It's Time to Consider SaaS CMS

According to CMSWire, it is estimated that 34% of SMBs will become first time adopters, or switch their CMS platforms, to SaaS systems.  This is a massive amount of companies that are looking to tap into the benefits of SaaS CMS platforms that are all willing to pay upwards of $500/month. 

A Few of these benefits include:

No Extra Strain on IT Staff

By tapping into the SaaS model, your IT department can unload tasks associated with web hosting, updates, server patches, product patches, and security flaws to the provider.  With SaaS, any problems that arise are on the shoulders of the provider to fix.

No Worries About Versioning

Ever worry that the outdated version of WordPress that your site is running has a security flaw?  How about that widget that you installed that stopped working with the latest update to your installed system?  With SaaS, these problems are a thing of the past, as updates are rolled out automatically and you don’t have to worry about versioning conflicts.

Easier Budgeting

Open Source or Installed options can often times lead to unexpected bills and hourly charges for updates/fixes.  With SaaS, the monthly expense that you agreed to pay covers all of this.  No longer do you have to worry about budget wrecking invoices.

SMBs are always looking for ways to compete with the “big boys” that have seemingly unlimited resources.  Over the past few years, the adoption of the SaaS model within email marketing, CRM, and social communications (among other verticals) has been huge.  SaaS Content Management systems can (and do) provide the same flexibility, freedom, and power to the SMB market that these early adopted verticals have already shown.

If you’re in the market for a new website content management system, you owe it to yourself to take a serious look at a SaaS platform.     



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How Easy is Marketpath CMS? SEO Tools make Optimization Simple!

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Your website isn’t maximizing its value if no one can find it- right?  That’s why Marketpath includes on-site search engine optimization (SEO) services with every website design we provide our clients.  But optimizing a new site is only the beginning.  To improve your rankings with search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, you’ll need to have a living, breathing site that continuously provides new, relevant content for your target audience. 

Marketpath makes it easy to add content to your site, but that’s just the start.  Marketpath CMS also provides SEO tools that allow you, the non-technical user, to easily optimize your new content (pages, images, videos) for on-page search optimization.  What our short video to see how easy you can optimize new content on your site.     

Stayed tuned for our next installment to see how you can easily leverage Marketpath Blogging to create engaging, SEO friendly blogs.

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How Easy is Marketpath CMS? Build a New Web Page in Minutes!

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The holidays and the Super Bowl are over, so it’s time to get back to our “How Easy is Marketpath CMS” series.  This week, we’ll demonstrate how easy it is to create a brand new web page using Marketpath CMS, our web content management system for small businesses.   

Think about it.  Marketpath lets you create any type of new page in minutes: new product pages, promotional offers, event pages, news, resources pages, project galleries, and more.  Now days, online success is all about content marketing - and we’ll let you easily create the content and calls-to-action your business needs to enhance customer engagement, increase credibility and create leads.  In short- we’ll make your website and online marketing easy

Keep an eye out for our next installment to see how Marketpath lets you easily manage your website’s on-page SEO.

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Migrating to a New CMS

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Migrating Content Management SystemsAre you starting to outgrown your current web content management system or blogging platform? Migrating your website or blog to a new content management system can be an intimidating task, depending on how much content your current site has.  But no matter what the reason for the move (capability, cost, support, etc.), there are a few steps that you should ensure are handled carefully while performing the migration.  First things first:

Get Your Content

Whether this means getting into a database and downloading all of the previous content or posts, or copying the content manually, don’t shut the old site down until you have a copy of everything that you’ve done in the past. 

Grab Your Old Sitemap

You may be building a website from scratch, so a lot of these pages might not be getting transferred to the new system.  That’s okay, this step will make sense, I promise.

Set up New Pages/Posts

Within the new content management system, build out your website like its being built from scratch.  When naming pages, consider the SEO value of each page name (be descriptive, but to the point).  Copy the old blog posts into the new system and take note of how the URL is generated. (www.URL.com/blog/blog-post-title)

Set Up Redirects

This is probably the most important, and often times painstaking piece of migrating to a new CMS.  Each blog post from the old system should be set up as a redirect to the new URL. For instance, if your old blog created URLs like this: blog.URL.com/blog-post-title, but the new CMS creates them like this: www.URL.com/blog/blog-post-title, then you want to make sure you redirect the old URL to the new URL as to not lose any link value.  URLs from the old site (you grabbed that old sitemap, right?) should be setup as redirects to new, corresponding pages on the new site. 

Migrating systems can be a daunting task.  Have a plan before moving forward with any content migration to make sure each detail is preserved, and a whole bunch of 404’s aren’t created in the process.       



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Online Tutoring Service Selects Marketpath for Web Content Management

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Mr. T's Online Math & SAT Tutoring
Mr. T's Online Tutoring recently launched their first website, selecting Marketpath for web content management, website design, and search engine optimization (SEO) services.  According to Chris Travers, Mr. T's founder, he selected Marketpath based on Marketpath's expertise with small business websites and the ease of use of Marketpath CMS, their web content management solution.  "Marketpath made it simple for us to launch our first website, providing the service and guidance needed to intoduce our brand to students in both North and South America," said Mr. Travers.

Mr. T's Online Tutoring provides personalized, convenient and and affordable math, SAT, and Spanish tutoring, all online for high school and junior high school students.

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