2 Ways to Get More Email Addresses 2 New Ways to Get Money

For small businesses who are interested in growing their email marketing and transactional email in order to better market and reduce costs, I wanted to share two new ways to collect emails, which just happen to dovetail into two new ways to make money.

2 New Ways to Get Email Addresses:

In the past, you may have ‘straight-up asked’ people for their email addresses with a paper form in your office or a web form on your website. You may have even incentivized them with a coupon for handing over such valuable information. But maybe this hasn’t worked so well for whatever reason (fear of spam? older client base?) so here are two new ways to collect email addresses:

1. Ask the patient or customer at checkout whether or not they’d like their statement receipt emailed to them. If they don’t have an email on file, we add it then. People may be more likely to give you their email address when it has to do with transactional information like statements and balances.

2. Allow patients/customers/donors to make payments online or to buy products (like toothpaste or gift certificates) online. In either of these cases, the patient will be required to enter their email address. These also happen to be the two new ways to get money.

While cost savings associated with email vs. paper mailings, turning off the lights when you’re not using them, and stopping the local newspaper might work for a while, eventually you’re going to want to start getting more cash flow in the door. You’re going to want to leverage the website you’ve already paid for to start collecting payments and/or selling products online.

2 New Ways to Get Money:

If you don’t already take payments online, your paitents or customers are paying in person or by mail. Why are you making it so hard for your constituents to give you money?. Here are two ways you can get patients or donors, respectively, to start paying online:

1. Allow patients, customers, or donors to make a payment online. These payments can be setup as a one-time or recurring payment and can be stand-alone or embedded in an ecommerce platform like OScommerce, WP-e-Commerce for WordPress, or Shopify. I’ve also heard Big Commerce is good, but have no experience with it.

2. Sell something online that you can ship to them – a new revenue source. If your office is already used to mailing out packages daily via USPS, FedEx, and UPS, why not add product sales to the mix? Think of it as a value-added service to your business by saving your customers or patients a trip to the office to pick something up you sell.

Payment Gateways

One of the most confusing aspects of setting up and accepting payments online via credit card or debit card is the “payment gateway” which is the service that actually processes the transaction. There are plenty of banks and other companies that offer this service with a host of different requirements and possibilities. While I recommend using Square for some small businesses, they do not offer a web payment gateway. The alternative to Square is Stripe, which has similar pricing and transparency. Paypal has traditionally been a great option and one I have used in the past, but Stripe is making it easier to stay PCI-compliant due to the way their technology keeps all the credit card processing on their servers. However, according to their site, “SSL is required when you use Stripe.js to make live charges. If you aren’t using Stripe.js, you’ll also need to ensure your server is fully PCI compliant.”

If you would like to learn how to add payments to your website and are located in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, please give Erich Stauffer a call.

Increasing Productivity In Website Maintenance

This is a guest post from Robby Slaughter, who runs an Indianapolis consulting firm.

Hiring a web design company is only one step of the process.  Once you have a new custom website designed that meets your needs, you still have to maintain it.

Sure, there are many website design companies in Indianapolis (and elsewhere) that you can pay to manage all of your site content and marketing. But that may not be within your budget. For many small businesses, keeping their website current falls on their own shoulders. And with all of the work that you have to do for clients, managing the website may fall by the wayside.

Ensure You Have a CMS

One of the benefits of working with a web design firm like Erich Stauffer is their use of a CMS, or content management system, to build your website. A CMS is a software application that lets you edit most of the text and  some of the imagery and layout in your site using point-and-click tools.

WordPress, which is the CMS I’m using to write this post, is a popular and effective product in this category. I don’t have to worry about coding or technical details in order to add content to the site. I just login and type.

Get Training on Your CMS

At first, it may seem like you don’t need training to use a tool like WordPress. It’s similar to a word processor. There’s a box you can type into, and there are buttons at the top that you can use to change formatting or insert pictures.

However, just like a word processor, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are some incredible features inside every CMS and without training, you probably won’t find out about them.

Schedule Time To Maintain Your Site

If you plan to write a new blog post once a week, put an hour aside on your calendar and make an appointment with yourself. Or better yet, reserve a day on your calendar to write blog posts for the next two months. Then use, the scheduling feature of your CMS to parcel the blog posts out over time.

Don’t know how to schedule posts? Talk to your website design company.

Create a Guest Login

This is an incredible productivity secret that will save you time. If you want to have others post on your blog, create a guest account for them. That way, you don’t have to ask them to send their post by email, copy and paste it into WordPress, and deal with formatting issues. Instead, you’ll find out that there’s a new post ready to be reviewed. What could be easier?

In short, you can actually be more efficient when maintaining your website. Talk to your website design company about your CMS. And if you don’t have one, considering checking with Erich Stauffer about moving to a platform like WordPress.

Good luck!

A New Logo for a New Direction

I realize we just updated our logo a couple of months ago, but consider that an iteration on the way to the final product, which you can see here. The last logo was a circle of blue around an empty center, with a cutout at the bottom. It was meant to symbolize a ring of water encircling the customer, but some people just didn’t get it or thought it looked like an unfinished life preserver.

Our new logo essentially means the same thing as the old logo: it’s a water shawl surrounding the customer representing the suite of services we provide. But one peculiar thing happened once the new logo was created. I was on my way to Lafayette to visit a networking meeting and I realized that the “water shawl” could also represent a “cloud”. It was if a light bulb went off and I didn’t know how I had missed it before. Erich Stauffer was a cloud consulting firm that specialized in WordPress web design and Google Apps integrations.

Who is Erich Stauffer?

Erich Stauffer has helped small businesses around Indiana build cloud-powered, WordPress web sites; and cloud-based email, document, and sales management. Erich Stauffer provides cloud technology consulting to help small businesses do more with cloud applications and platforms like WordPress, Google Apps, and Salesforce.com. Our services range from cloud marketing to cloud migration to cloud management. Cloud technology helps small businesses market their business, reduce spam, and be more productive all at a lower price point than traditional software.