How to Evaluate Your Website Like a Pro

How to Evaluate Your Website Like a Pro

Your business is online, but you don’t really know if your website is good.

This is a #1 fear of business owners when they launch a website. That their website isn’t very good and they spent money for nothing. What if there was a surefire way to a) alleviate your fears and b) handle your worst fear, even if it is confirmed.

I’m going to show you how to evaluate your website like a pro.

Have you told your story?

In order to engage your customers you have to talk about what you believe in. Why do you matter and what does your organization really care about?

If someone lands on your website they should feel a connection to you. If your business was a human being, who would it be and what would it care about? This is how you develop a buyer “persona.”

Have you addressed your customers’ pain points?

People usually spend money for two reasons. First, they spend money to relieve pain. Second, they spend money to pursue pleasure.

Customers are people. The stronger the pain, the more compelling your solution is. Sometimes people can’t even envision a solution. It is your job to offer one.

Think of things that people find frustrating, annoying, urgent or uncomfortable. These should guide you and demonstrate how your solutions make these pain points go away.

Have you decided what people should say about your business?

This isn’t about getting praise or writing a fake testimonial (please don’t ever do this). It’s about being clear about how you want to help people.

If your goal is to help membership businesses get more members, than your customer should say, “X helped us get more members in our organization.”

It may seem obvious. But, you have to be super specific about how you want to help others. Once you accomplish this, your solutions will come to light and other people can spread the word.

If you can objectively look at your website and consider the three things above, you have the skills to evaluate your website like a pro. After you evaluate your website, write down what you discovered and tackle any problems one step at a time.


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Paper Forms Have a Little Known Problem

Paper Forms Have a Little Known Problem

If you’re tired of spending hours on manual data entry you’re in the right place. I find that many businesses are only using a form on their ‘Contact Us’ page. There are many opportunities for using forms. Online forms open the door to automation and streamlining your procedures. But first, let’s look at a little know problem with paper forms.

#1 Problem with Paper Forms

I bet you’re thinking the #1 problem is one of these things:

  • Data entry can be inconsistent
  • Where to store all the paper
  • Possibility for error
  • Time-consuming
  • Handwriting not always legible
  • Misplacing the paper

Although all of the above are common problems. But, the #1 problem with paper forms is that you can’t customize the form easily to your new customer. Let me show you what I mean by that.

Let’s say your membership organization has two membership types – standard and business. There are two options for paper applications: 1) you could create one form with all the questions or 2) you could create two different applications for each membership type.

If you use one form, some of the questions may apply to only one group. Then you have to add subtext like (only complete this question if you are x member type). This often causes confusion. If you use two different forms, then you just doubled the amount of paper and data entry. Now you have to keep up with two stacks of paper.

A Better Experience

We need to make it as easy as possible for someone to join our organization. But, we also want to get some insight into the population. Using our same example above, let’s look at how an online form could be built.

The first question on the form could be, “Are you joining as an individual member or a business member?” Right away, this sets up the ability to ask different questions depending on the answer.

If I say individual member, the field that asks for ‘Company Name’ for a business member could be automatically hidden. If I say business member, a field that asks ‘What is your business industry?’ could appear. You could also ask, ‘Select the annual operating budget your business best fits.’ This can give you insight into the size of businesses that are joining your organization. Bigger business may equal bigger sponsorship. At the end of the form, the dues amount to pay will also change depending on the member type selected. No confusion here! There is no need for an individual member to answer these questions, so why should they have to read it and skip over it?

These type of questions hiding or appearing (tech word: conditional logic) can go on and on. The possibilities are endless.

The Importance of Customizing

By customizing your forms, you are not only providing better customer service but you can now set up automated communication that is completely tailored to the audience.

3 Tips to Supercharge Your Email Marketing

3 Tips to Supercharge Your Email Marketing

Communicating with customers and potential clients isn’t always easy. People just want to get their message out. But in reality, how do you really know if your message is being heard?

Bueller? Bueller?

Sending messages is better than not communicating at all, but if you are serious about tapping into the power of good email marketing, these tips will help you supercharge your progress.

1. List Segmentation

Businesses who really want to customize their solutions to potential customers use segmentation / segmented lists for email blasts. If you have kids, you have experienced segmentation already – half cheese pizza, half everything else? Or how about – mom & dad have a glass of wine and the kids get soda? In both examples, the people are getting food and beverage except it’s adjusted to their unique preference or requirements.

Here are a few more business segmentation examples:

  1. Member vs. non-member for association marketing
  2. People who prefer to receive newsletters 1x monthly vs. weekly
  3. E-commerce customers who are first-time buyers vs. repeat
  4. People who live in Florida vs. the rest of the country

Advice: Start thinking about the type of information you need from your customers and then develop your segmentation from this.

2. RSS-to-Email

If you are writing regularly on your blog, people need to know when there is a new post to read. If you don’t post it on social media, for example, how would a person know to re-visit your site to read it?

Each time you post a blog, you can send it to your email subscribers without even thinking about it. By creating an RSS-to-email campaign, you can set the email to blast automatically on a certain date and time after a new post publishes.

Advice: Setting this up can keep you on track with writing regular posts. You will know that if you don’t write a new post, your email campaign won’t go out to your subscribers!

3. Templates

Create a company-branded template based on your goal. Are you trying to sell products, share some news, or tell a story? By creating templates for different messages, you can keep your style and messaging consistent.

Templates also streamline the process of creating each email blast. You won’t have to muddle over making things pretty; instead, you can focus on your messaging and get it done!


On Wednesday, April 5, 2017 I will be giving a 30-minute tech talk from 12:15-12:45PM on email marketing. You can attend for free. The place is INIE headquarters downtown.  This is part of Women Wednesdays. You can co-work free between 10AM-3PM as well.

Process Credit Cards Online With This Insider’s Guide

Process Credit Cards Online With This Insider’s Guide

How do you process credit cards online? The standard that many business owners use is PayPal. You can use PayPal Payments Standard with no monthly fee, you can accept credit and debit cards without someone needing a PayPal account, and they even offer a card swiper for mobile payments. PayPal also allows you to avoid the pain and headache of after the rules of PCI Compliance (you don’t want to piss these people off). It all sounds like a no-brainer for a cash conscious business, right?

Right – unless you are an insider. Read on to learn what web developers recommend and prefer.

Process Credit Cards Online Like a Pro with Stripe

If you haven’t heard of Stripe – it is a payment processor that works like a dream. The reporting is clear, it connects to all areas of your business you may need, and the pricing is outstanding. It also handles PCI Compliance for you. The only real “extra” that you need is an SSL certificate on your website. This certificate turns your website from http:// into https:// – it creates a secure connection and is becoming the web standard.

If you are using a good web hosting company, you can even install a ‘Let’s Encrypt’ SSL certificate for free. This should be a 1-click installation, not a cumbersome process to start.

How much does it cost to set up? $0

How much do I pay monthly? $0

What is the charge per transaction? 2.9% + 30 cents whether the card is a VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and more

If your business offers a subscription it includes recurring billing, right out of the box. You can also use Apple or Android Pay, and Amex Express Checkout.

Nonprofits? Yes, and if you have 501c(3) status there are discount pricing options.

I have implemented Stripe on multiple websites, and I use it myself to process invoice payments. If you would like to learn more about this please reach out.

Zapier for Love Year-Round

Zapier for Love Year-Round

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m giving you the gift of getting to know Zapier for a year-round love fest. In order to fully love someone, you must at least pronounce their name correctly. Zapier rhymes with happier. Isn’t that great?

What is Zapier?

Here are some of the amazing things this tool can do, straight from their own website:

  • Wave goodbye to busy work
  • Take care of tedious tasks
  • Do-it-yourself automation
  • Connect the apps you use everyday
  • Easy automation for busy people

They have an obscene (over 750) number of apps that you can connect to end busy work.

Real World Example

Here is how I implemented the use of Zapier for a statewide trade association just in the last two weeks. The database of records for this association is now housed in Airtable. If you are using Excel as a database, which is not the purpose for Excel, you NEED to check out Airtable.

We also have a MailChimp account for sending weekly newsletters, reminders, and other communication to the membership. Then, inside our WordPress website our Gravity Forms power membership applications, the contact form, event RSVP, and more. Because we use the developer version, we can also connect Stripe as our payment processor and use Zapier as an add-on to any form we create.

Membership Submission to Airtable

When a new member submits an application, each piece of their data is automatically entered as a new row in the Airtable database. Why should their staff spend time retyping all of that information when Zapier can do it for them?

New Email Address to MailChimp list

If we enter a new contact into Airtable who wants to receive our information, Zapier automatically sends the details straight into our MailChimp list; and in the particular group we want.

Is The Above Example Too Good to be True?

Here is the breakdown of cost so you can decide for yourself:

  • Airtable: $0/mo.
    There are 1200 records or less in the base (think spreadsheet).
  • MailChimp: $0/mo.
    There are 2500 records or less in our list.
  • Zapier: $0/mo.
    The “Zaps” I implemented have only two-steps per zap.
  • Gravity Forms Developer License: $199/one-time first year (I purchased mine with a discount code for $139.30), yearly renewal is only $99.50.

Since the developer license of Gravity Forms includes so much, you’re getting way more for your investment than just the ability to use it for the examples above. Do you need a “developer” to buy it? No. That type of license simply means that it includes all the tools that are possible for the investment.

For my friend Lissie:

When you receive an email to your Gmail, you can add a label to it and Zapier will automatically create a note in your OneNote. 🙂


I hope you’re feeling the love and can see the possibilities for a beautiful partnership with Zapier. If you want some ideas for what is possible I would recommend visiting their explore page. You can type in any app you use to gather tons of ideas.