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What is “HTTPS” and Why Does it Matter?

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Peter Brisette
Digital Marketing Dude


What I want to talk about this month is “https”. What does the “S” stand for in websites? I’m going to show you a couple things here. I’m going to bring up my browser and share my screen with you, and talk about https and something that Google is doing, and what can we do about it, and what should we do about it?

Back in September, Google published this blog post, talking about their browser, Google Chrome.

Right now, when you go to a website that doesn’t have https, which means that it’s not encrypted, and this is really important for if you have a form or a login, or you’re putting any kind of personal information on a website. What it does is encrypts that data, and helps protect it, and keep it from other people getting ahold of it through the “interwebs.” What Google is doing is going to display websites as either being secure or not secure. I’ll show you an example of what secure looks like:

We have https on the DM Dude website, and you can see here, this is what it looks like in Google Chrome. It shows up saying it is secure– it’s got the https. Now, right now, as Chrome Version 53, it just shows an “i” next to the name if it’s not secure. So here’s a website Now this is not a site where you have to put information in, other than your email to sign up for an email list, or to do a search. So it’s not necessarily necessary to be encrypted, but you got the “i” here. When I click on this I, it shows here that this site is not secure. That can make you a little bit nervous about that.

Now what they’re going to, this month, so when they do the Version 56 of Chrome, which should be launched some time in January, it’s going to actually say, “Not secure,” next to that. Instead of just the “i”, it’s actually going to say, “Not secure,” but eventually, it’s going to actually show up in red, with kind of this warning sign. “Warning. Warning. Not secure. It’s not secure.” What should you do about this? All right. Here’s my take on this. Number one: Google is kind of pushing the issue with secure. Not 100% sure why they’re trying to push this.

It’s honestly, in reality, not that big of a deal. Most websites are not capturing a bunch of data, they’re just information websites; they don’t really need to be secure.  But Google is hinting at providing more search engine juice, or improving the search ranking of sites that have https. We don’t know if they’re actually doing that, or how much it will impact your search results. It’s really hard to say, but Google is definitely pushing the issue. The cost of this is maybe a couple hundred dollars a year to have it on your domain, to make it https, so if it’s not a big press for budget-wise, I would say go ahead and do it.

But when do you need to do it? Is it something, “Oh, I got to do this immediately. I got to drop everything and do this right now?” No. I would say, you don’t need to drop everything and do this right now. What we’re recommending for our clients and customers is, if we’re able to do it pretty easily right now and they’re fine with it, we’ll go ahead and upgrade them to the https.  But in general, we’re kind of watching it. Is it absolutely necessary for every single website? The fact is, no. It’s not. Google’s pushing it, but the challenge really is that people are going to get the impression that a website is not safe because of what they’re going to put in Google Chrome.

It’s really not necessarily true, but if it’s a concern for you and your website, and depending on how vital your website is to your business (which for a lot of business owners it is) then it’s kind of a simple process to get it set up and have it done, and then you won’t have to worry about it.

This is the big thing I wanted to share with you here in our Monthly Marketing Message for January. Just kind of one of the latest, greatest things that’s come upon us, and changes that Google is making, and just to make you aware of that.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions about it, and you’d like to have some input on what kind of questions you like us to answer, just put that in the comments below this video. Whether that’s on YouTube, or Facebook, or wherever you might find it.

How to Get Your Business On Google's Map and the First Page of Google Search Engine Results

Thursday, October 13, 2016
By Kendra Fernandez

Local businesses struggle with gaining an online presence when it comes to Google search results. This tutorial should answer the question, "How do I get my business on Google and the Google Map?". Approximately, only 37% of businesses have claimed their listing on Google's map. If you do this today, chances are you will be one step ahead of your competition!

Key People to Add to Your Business Team

Monday, July 18, 2016
  By Kat Rico

You’re in business for yourself, yes, but you should never be in business by yourself. In order to be productive, you need a team of people behind you! Here are some key people we recommend that you have on your side for better and for worse while you’re in business (in no particular order).
  1. Accountant – You don’t have time to learn all of the tax and bookkeeping ins and outs, and you shouldn’t have to. Of course you should have a basic understanding of the concepts, but an accountant can help you figure out where your business might be hemorrhaging money, opportunities to save on taxes, and whether you have adequate cash flow to hire that first employee.

  2. Attorney – Things happen. Contracts go bad. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. Whatever the case, your attorney is there to help you and go to bat for you. They can also help you before you make a potentially bad decision by helping you select an entity type, review a lease, draw up a standard contract to use for jobs and more. Along with your accountant, your attorney can be a strong business ally. The best option is to have an attorney before you need one.

  3. Mentor – This is a person who has business experience, preferably in your industry, that you can bounce ideas off of and will give you constructive advice without sugarcoating reality. Your mentor needs to be someone who doesn’t have a stake in the business (so no investors), they only have a stake in your success. Meet them once in a while and catch up on the good, the bad and the ugly of how your business is doing. Don’t use your mentor just to vent or brag, but to learn about how you can do your business better. As a shameless plug for our services, this is the best area where the SBDC can help!

  4. Banker – Don’t just have a bank, but a banker. A real person you can call at your bank when you don’t understand a fee, need to buy some equipment or need to order checks. Communicate with them on a regular basis. Your banker is your friend and can alert you to potentially fraudulent activity, but only if they know how you normally spend your business money.

  5. Marketer - Your marketer should be able to help you identify who your customers are, how to reach them, and understand if you're reaching them. The best description we've heard comes courtesy of Larimer SBDC Social Media Specialist, Amy Alcorn, who told us, "Not having a marketing person for your business is like trying to flirt and winking in the dark." Don't invest money in advertising, online or otherwise, without talking to your marketer about your strategy.
Of course, there may be a couple of other people you want to regularly consult with about your business depending on your industry, but these are a good starting point to build a supportive network to help your business succeed.

10+ Retail Holiday Marketing Tips

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our partner location the Larimer SBDC recently held a "Retail Holiday Boot Camp" after hours event. Presenter Alyson MacMullan of Peak Retail Group gave some great takeaways that we wanted to share for retailers to remember as they enter their holiday planning period.

1. Lay all your key dates from November through January (yes, January) on a physical calendar
• Sometimes you may see correlations on paper that aren’t obvious in a digital format.• Small Business Saturday is November 28th this year!
2. Determine your goals for the holiday season
• Do you want more sales in dollars or in transactions? Do you have targets for how much inventory you want to move? Are you aiming for less January markdowns?• If you don’t have data from last year to drive your goals, make sure you begin collecting it this year! What works? What doesn’t?
3. Pick a color pallet for your store displays and stick to it!  
• Highlight high margin inventory in your displays.• Hint: It doesn’t have to be red and green, in fact, your store’s brand colors work very well! 
4. Consider all elements for the in-store experience: Sights, sounds, smells 
• Offer extras like a free stocking stuffer, free gift wrapping and bounce back offers with every purchase.• Do everything you can to keep shopping stress-free and easy for your customers. 
5. Proper staffing is a challenge for retailers during the holidays
• Signs are your silent salespeople. Make them informative and interesting so customers can answer their own simple questions.• Arm your salespeople with mobile payment options so they can help customers avoid lines at the register.
6. Social media is your friend!
• Post every day! Use a planning/scheduling service like SnapRetail, Hootsuite or SproutSocial to help you plan out several days in one easy shot.• People love contests and flash sales, utilize these techniques!• An image is worth 1,000 posts. Show your staff decorating the store!
7. E-mail is your friend too, but be cautious.
• Find an e-mail template and stick with it for the season. It will make your life easier and your customers will recognize your communications.• ONE offer per e-mail only, and keep it clean and concise. People are already stressed during the holidays, your communication should make it easy for them.
8. 12 Days of Christmas Promotions are very effective!
• Drive traffic into your store by offering serious discounts (50-75% off) on a high margin, highly stocked item each day.• These are top secret deals! Resist the urge to reveal the promos early. Pre-schedule deal communication to save yourself a headache.
9. Your merchandise assortment shouldn’t vary dramatically during the holidays; the majority of your stock should be tried and true items
• NEVER run out of your top sellers, that’s a missed opportunity!• Don’t accept late deliveries from your vendors. Communicate clearly and directly when you need your merchandise by and if they can’t meet your deadlines, don’t accept deliveries.
10. Restock key items for January and mix up the look of your store

Sound like a lot of information? We assure you, this was only the tip of the iceberg! 

If you’re a retailer and need help digesting and applying this information, we encourage you to schedule with a North Metro Denver SBDC consultant now to help with planning out your holiday strategy!