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to the April issue of the Mr Site newsletter; we hope you've had a great month so far! Mr Site has lots of exciting news this month, including the trials of a new live chat support service AND of our new booking calendar tool – read on for more information about how you can get involved. Plus, we have great tips from our friends at Smarta and ideas for how you can optimise the images on your website. Don’t forget…if you’re in the UK, Mr Site is as the Business Startup show May 20th and 21st – it’s not too late to register your free tickets!

Picture optimisation tips

Did you know that Google will now take into account how long a website takes to load up when it ranks its search results? Although this will only be affecting around a tiny 1% of all websites on the internet…have you thought about how long your website takes to load and how many visitors you might lose by it taking too long? This can be helped by simply optimising your images for use on the web – our longest running support team agent, Sukhdeep Singh, has a few easy tips to help you out:

‘During my years at Mr Site, I’ve seen many websites and homepages that too long to load when they really don’t have to. Many of you have probably taken very high-quality photographs of your products from digital cameras at high resolutions, like 2342x2332…the size of an image taken at this resolution would be 3MB.

That’s a BIG picture! Really you shouldn’t be using anymore than 100KB. If you consider the fact that everyone then likes to have several images on their page – let’s say an average of six pictures on a homepage for example – this means when your customers come to your website they need to download 18MB worth of data just to see your homepage alone. Even if you have resized the dimensions (width and height) of your picture in ‘Change Content’, you’ve only shrunk this file so your visitor will still have to download the full 3MB image. If you have Takeaway Website Pro, there is a nifty Image Editor ('Extras' then 'Personalise your site'), which will dramatically decrease the weight of your image when you make the dimensions of the image a recommended 250x250 pixels.

If you are a Beginner or Standard customer, you will need to resize your images in an image editing programme; such as Paint or Microsoft Picture Editor (both already installed on your computer), or you can purchase programmes like Photoshop…alternatively try a free service like www.gimp.org or www.pixlr.com
Let’s say you have five pictures on your page – if you resize the dimensions to 120 x 120 pixels (about thumbnail size), then when you then upload all your optimised images; each will be around 50KB. This means someone going on your website will now only need to download 250KB of data compared to 18MB. If you turn that into loading times, it will only take a few seconds on the optimised images compared to a minute or two on any unoptimised images. Click here to see an example.

Image one has not been optimised and as you visit the page you may notice this image it is still loading, whereas image two will be almost instantly be displayed on the page. However, this only shows one image that has not been optimised so it would still load fairly quickly – if I added more unoptimised images to the page it would take longer to download and display. You can see how both the images are the same size on the page, but image one is 3MB and image two is just 45KB. Right click over each picture and select ‘Properties’ to see the size difference for yourself).

If you want to make thumbnails quickly and easily, either use the ‘Image Editor’ if you have Takeaway Website Pro or the following programmes are both designed for thumbnail creation and are free:

And if you’d like to read more about Google’s new loading time rankings click here

Live chat support trial

As a direct result of your feedback requesting direct 24hr access to the support team, Mr Site will be trialling live chat support over the next few weeks. This trial will be available to a limited number of customers on randomly selected servers, so please do not be worried if you cannot see a live chat option in your account. This trial stage is essential for us to gauge customer demand, test its viability and pilot the technology itself.

If you find you have access to live chat (you’ll see a button on the Main Options page) then all you need to do is click on the link and you’ll be connected to a member of the support team. If we can’t deal with your enquiry straight away, we will log a service request through our email ticketing system; which will be processed accordingly*.

At the end of each live chat, Mr Site will be offering you the opportunity to complete a brief survey so you can score the service received. We’d like to ask and encourage you to participate in this survey as it’s vitally important we know your thoughts and feelings – especially if you’d like to see the service rolled out full-time later in the year.

To test demand, we will be running the live chat trial over three days, using three different time periods:

Day 1: 06.00 to 14.00(GMT)
Day 2: 14.00 to 22.00 (GMT)
Day 3: 22.00 to 06.00 (GMT)

So, again, please don’t be worried if you see it one day and it’s gone a little bit later… it’s all part of the trial. In advance, we’d like to thank you for your help with this.

*Please note a fair usage policy is in place for this service

Become a Mr Site beta tester

Later this year we will be launching our very first booking calendar – our team have been working super hard to bring you this great new tool and we think you’ll love it just as much as we do. Now, we’d like to offer an exclusive number of customers the opportunity to trial the product, plus once the tool is launched
you’ll get free use of the tool for six months (excluding transaction fees). We’d like to hear from you if you own a hotel or B&B; if you’re running events or selling tickets…just anyone that would like to take bookings and booking payments through their website.

Just send us details of your website and why you would like to trial the new booking calendar tool to stories@mrsite.co.uk

Website of the month

Celine Blacow

Congratulations to Celine Blacow of www.soaperstar.com for being April’s Website of the Month! Celine is a passionate Mr Siter and has managed to use Takeaway Website to help move her business from strength-to-strength. Well done for a great website, Celine:

‘The whole mission of my business is to solely trade online – whilst other soap makers are at every market in town, I felt that my product wouldn't quite fit that profile. I wanted to create a certain type of space within which I could showcase my products. However, I had no website skills at all, not a thing. Mr Site has proven excellent in allowing to me to set up a basic site but then to build on the knowledge of what I'd already learnt.
I can now do HTML changes myself and I have growing confidence in my abilities in that area. Having the website has allowed me not only to showcase my products but use social media as a marketing tool - I can include links to my Facebook page, Twitter and my blog. I also love that I can make the site a statement of who I am; who Soaperstar is, and what we do – I design and hand produce all my items, cut and wrap and label everything myself, I photograph them and put them on the site... everything you see on the website is done by me and me alone. And that's exactly what I wanted…Mr Site has allowed me to focus my business in the market I wanted to be in, to include the social media marketing element, to showcase and present my work as best possible and, ultimately, to allow me to be able to do all of this and not have to rely on anyone else. I wanted a level of control that you simply cannot get with other products.’

If you'd like to be the next Website of Month all you need to do is submit your story by emailing us here and tell us why you deserve the award!

Expert of the month

April Expert

This month, we asked Sophie Hobson, reporter at Smarta.com, to give us their top tips for how to get your customer’s returning! Smarta is a new support platform for business owners and entrepreneurs, with an aim is to provide a one-stop-shop where business owners can connect, learn and do business.

It was founded and is run and backed by some of the UK's top entrepreneurs…so we’re sure you’re going to find their top tip extremely helpful!

A base of regular customers is one of the most valuable assets your business can have. Most importantly, it boosts sales, but it also helps you make forecasts, target marketing activity and figure out how best to expand your product or service range. And a happy and loyal customer tells their friends about your business – which means amazing free advertising for you! That said, it's difficult to get the same customers to buy from you repeatedly and consistently – hence why the old business adage that 20% of your customers account for 80% of yours sales rings so true. So here are Smarta’s top tips for encouraging repeat custom:

Incentivise them
Loyalty cards and exclusive special offers are a great way to encourage customers back to your business. Hand out flyers to whoever buys something from your business with an exclusive discount code for next time they shop with you. Or create loyalty cards – you can use a business card website to do it cheaply – and entice them with a free product if they shop with you another four to six times.

Give them freebies
Allow your first-time customers and those who make big purchases a little extra for free, or throw in a product for free every now and then if they place a large order. If they come to your business regularly, you should definitely reward them. This will create goodwill and encourage them to return. For a more advanced freebie strategy, read Smarta’s guide on loss leaders.

Surprise them
Package delivered items beautifully to pleasantly surprise customers – it will help them remember you. And something as simple as a couple of sweets and a personalised note in the parcel go a long way. If they’re buying from you face-to-face, find an item that costs you less than the profit you make on the sale and have it ready to give gratis to everyone who makes a purchase.

Build a relationship
Learn and use your customers’ names – you’ll be amazed at the positive effect this simple step has. Say hello with a smile, always be polite, and always thank them for their custom. Online, send an email of thanks when they place an order – use their name rather than 'Dear Sir/Madam'. If you have their contact info, send customers Christmas or holiday messages at appropriate times - but don't inundate them with mail unnecessarily at other times, which will put them off.

Learn how to research your customers unintrusively

Give amazing customer service
Make sure staff are attentive, friendly and helpful at all times. Train them to know the products and services inside-out so they can explain them to customers. If customers order by phone, never keep them waiting. Answer emails within a day. Use Twitter to monitor feedback on your service and engage with customers.

Check out this case study for more advice and to see what an impact customer service can have.

Handle complaints well
If a customer complains, the first thing they should hear is: "How can we make it better?" A full refund and possibly a free product should be offered to customers with serious complaints. Also, customers hate being passed from person to person. You either need to train staff to deal with complaints or have a system in place that directs them directly to the most senior person available in the business. Profuse apologies at all stages are a must.

Make sure your website works
There’s nothing more frustrating than a website that crashed or sticks when you’re ordering something. Test regularly, and resolve technical hitches ASAP. Expert advice guides and videos on making sure your website is spot-on, view here.

Out-do the competition
Keeping ahead of the competition is crucial if you want customers to come back to you rather than going to them. Undercutting on price will always please a customer - everybody likes a good deal. But remember that brilliant customer service with a smile can mean more than a few quid.

Make it easy for them to come back
Give customer business cards when you sell to them so they can find you again easily. If you have their contact details, follow up a month or so later asking if there’s anything else you can help them with.

Make sure you give them what they want
Asking a customer for feedback can make them feel valued and ensures you give them the service they want. A note of thanks with a one line 'Is there anything we could have done to make your experience more enjoyable?' is enough, as you don't want to annoy them. Face-to-face, always remember to ask if there’s something you could have done better, and what other products they ‘d like you to offer. Then give them what they want.

Watch hundreds of interviews with the UK’s top entrepreneurs for more inspiration and advice on building the kind of business want to return to.

Whats in this issue?

Business Startup show

We mentioned last month that Mr Site will be exhibiting at the next Business Startup Show at London’s ExCel on 20th and 21st May…now we can offer you the full details! We’ll be on stand 310 to give you any website hints and tips – and as usual our co-founder, Stuart Spice, will be sharing his words of wisedom in two search engine optimisation themed seminars.

Hall 1 on 20th May at 12.30 and Hall 2 on 21st May at 1.15. To register for your free tickets click here

We also have another Website Creation Academy running on both days! You can book a 45-minute session with our experts to help you get the best out of your Takeaway Website – just click here for more details.

India News

The Mr Site Business Tour of India is coming to Madhya Pardesh and Gujarat in April. The business team will be visiting all major towns, including Ahmedabaad, Surat, Raikot, Bhopal, Gwaliar, Jansi, Ujjain and many more to discuss how Takeaway Website can help your business grow.

For details of dates and availability in each city, please arrange a meeting with the team by emailing us sales@mrsite.co.in or call 09780531682.

Takeaway Website Beginner has also been featured in Computer Active India – Best Software of the Year 2009, along with the likes of Windows Vista, Norton and Nero. Well done Mr Site!

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