2018 Best Practices for Android App Development

The release of Android 8.0 (Oreo) is a game changer that is destined to have a huge influence on Android app development in 2018 and beyond.

The Android platform has become fragmented, with many devices running on outdated OS versions. Over 50% of devices accessing the Google Play store in August 2017 were still on 5.x. Oreo aims to solve this by making it a lot easier for device manufacturers to deliver ongoing OS updates.

The benefits for mobile app developers are clear—access to a much larger audience of Android users and the promise of a standardised OS platform to ensure a better and more consistent app experience.

Android App Development Best Practices for 2018

So what are the best practices for Android App development in 2018?

The Need

What need does your app serve? Does it offer something new or improved? Doing market research and workshopping your idea rigorously is definitely best practice and something all mobile app developers should invest in before you invest money and resources. This includes studying your competitors and deciding where your app will sit in the marketplace.

Good Design

A successful app needs a fully developed design before any code is written. Google provides a helpful guide to their Material Design visual language. Working with these style guidelines will make your app feel like a natural part of the wider Android UI. Compelling design is the key to standing out in this highly competitive app marketplace. Poor design is often cited as the main reason why users stop using an app.

User Security

Creating secure apps that protect user information is paramount – nothing defines ‘fail’ more than a serious security breach. The good news? Oreo makes it much easier to push out security updates, but until it’s installed on more devices, developers will still need to ensure their apps work safely on previous versions of Android.


Optimisation

The Android develop community offers many useful tools for optimising your app, including Proguard, which will remove unused code and reduce your APK file size. The Android Debug Database is another great tool for debugging databases and shared preferences in Android applications.

Testing

It’s important to test your app for issues such as faulty code and memory leaks but also from a functional, UI perspective. Get users to test your app before its release using real devices, not just emulators.

Updates

Keep your code up to date and be sure to act quickly on any user feedback you receive through the Google Play Store. Users expect to get updates that not only fix issues but provide improvements. In fact, the key to ongoing user engagement is to connecting with your users, meeting their needs and delighting them with unexpected new features.

Prepare For Success

Unless your app targets a specific niche, it has the potential to attract huge numbers of users—so be prepared! You need to factor scalability into your design and development, so your app continues to grow and caters to the needs of its users.

As Android 8.0 Oreo takes hold in 2018, Android app development will have a unified and cohesive platform that will provide increasing opportunities to reach a larger user audience with apps that work better, are more secure and provide longer-term revenue for developers.

Are you an app developer? Activate Design is a design and software development agency. We welcome any opportunities to collaborate on app development projects. Click here to find out more about what we do, or contact us for more information.

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Posted in Mobile Apps

10 "Must-have" App Promotion and Marketing Strategies

It’s hard to believe it's been less than ten years since the start of the app revolution, and the breadth and ubiquity of mobile app usage have created whole new sources of revenue, marketing opportunities—even entirely new businesses.

But it’s a jungle out there in the app world and your cherished new mobile app could easily get lost in the digital vines without an integrated mobile app marketing strategy. The purpose of most mobile apps is to extend your company’s presence into the mobile space, providing your customers with a new and convenient way to access your products. So a successful mobile app promotion needs to place your app in the context of a wider marketing strategy that provides a seamless experience for users.

10 Mobile App Marketing and Promotion Strategies

 

Here are 10 of our favorite mobile app promotion strategies, ranging from subtle persuasion to blatant promotion, that are proven to get results.

1. Social Media

If you already have a social media presence, marketing your app through these channels should be number one on your to-do list.

2. Promotional Material

It's a no-brainer really—if you’ve gone to the trouble of developing a mobile app, make sure you market it through your company branding and promotional material.

3. Microsite

Develop a simple landing page or microsite that focuses on your app. It could include a blog, reviews, product demonstration videos and of course, links to the appropriate app stores.

4. Product Video

For some apps, a simple product video is a great tool for showing off your app and promoting it through Facebook Ads and YouTube clips.

5. App Store Optimisation

Once they’re in the app store, make it easy for potential users to find your app with a simple and memorable title, appropriate keywords and an attractive icon.

6. Make your App Social

In-app sharing is a powerful way to promote your app to your users and it has also been shown to increase the likelihood that users will keep using the app.

7. Improve Your App

Every app needs tweaking, and you need to keep on top of any issues and negative user feedback to ensure word-of-mouth marketing remains positive.

8. Expert Reviews

Every business sector has influential online commentators who hold a lot of sway with your potential customers. If you’re confident in your app’s quality and effectiveness, getting a positive online post from these individuals can strengthen your credibility amongst your target audience.

9. Make the App Compelling

One of the best ways to maintain ‘the buzz’ about your app is to ensure users keep using it! The best apps use subtle behavioural design tricks like variable rewards, gamification and habit-promoting techniques to keep users engaged and loyal.

10. TV Advertising

If you have the budget—promotion through TV advertisements can be very effective for your mobile app, especially if it’s uptake is encouraged through competitions or limited time offers. People tend to watch TV with their devices close at hand, so your app could be downloaded before the ad break finishes!

One final thing to consider when developing your mobile marketing strategy—how mobile friendly is your company website? Although mobile apps deliver a richer and more complete mobile experience, your website should also provide ‘app-like’ features for your users, allowing them to access your products and services with finger-friendly buttons and menus.

Activate Design is a design and software development agency. This sets us apart from other companies—we provide a seamless process from design and development, through to completion and delivery of the project. Click here to find out more about mobile apps, or contact us for a free quote.

 

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Posted in Marketing

7 Things About Mobile App Development Your Boss Wants To Know

7 Things About Mobile App Development Your Boss Wants To Know

The smartphone is essentially a digital Swiss army knife, enabling people to do so many things. And mobile apps are the “blades” and “tools”. Millions of apps are already available today, and the numbers keep growing.

Your business may be in the process of developing an app right now, which is good. It’s an excellent way to keep pace and cash in on a growing trend. But since you’re still in that process, it helps to know these seven tips for better mobile app development.

1. Program “Native” Apps

There are many fraudsters out there claiming that what they have are “apps”, but in truth are just launchers for mobile sites. If this is the case, then it’s no better than using your phone’s built-in web browser to browse the site. In short, an “app” that’s just a launcher for a mobile site is a complete waste of resources. It also tells people that the developer has no idea of the proper methods of application development.

Instead, develop what’s known as a “native” mobile app – one that works offline for most functions, while only requiring internet access to access data from the servers. Take the Twitter app, for example. When you’re offline, you can still read recent tweets, and you can even compose your own tweets. But you can’t get new tweets or send out the tweet you just composed. That’s the hallmark of a native app – it can still work offline, albeit in a limited way.

With this setup, the app can work even in areas with weak or spotty internet connections. And this is the idea because when people are mobile, internet connections are not always consistent.

2. Mind The Ads

Advertising within an app is indeed a good way to keep it free. But too much of anything is a bad thing. Therefore, a good rule to follow in mobile app development is to never let ads interrupt the user when he’s doing something important. Intrusive adverts are among the most annoying things that people complain about many apps. So if you are to put advertising within your apps, keep them within reasonable boundaries.

3. It’s Not Just About The UI, but the UX

UI means user interface, while UX is user experience. Certainly, good UI is important, but that isn’t everything in application development. The UI and everything else a user interacts with is called the frontend. Equally important is what the user doesn’t see, which is known as the backend. This includes online payment portals, file servers, account management, cyber security features, booking modules, and other such components. Both the frontend and the backend contribute to a good user experience, and UX is often the better quality used to describe how well an app was developed. If the UI is great, but many backend components fail, a very bad UX is the result. Mobile app developers should always aim for good UX.

4. Push Moderately

Push notifications are a staple in mobile apps. They usually remind the user to perform certain actions, important or otherwise. The latter is where it becomes problematic – if the notification informs the user of something not important to him, it becomes annoying. For this reason, many apps give users the choice to disable certain notifications or to disable them entirely. Part of good application development is letting the user decide what’s important to them, and the notifications area is usually where this decision is made.

5. Watch Those Permissions

This usually is visible to Android users, where the Google Play Store gives the user what an app needs access to before letting the user download the app. In iOS, it’s a lot more subtle, but users can see that as well in the Settings. Users are very cautious about permissions because they don’t want apps to steal personal data behind their backs. So if your app doesn’t require them, don’t ask for permissions to location, call logs, SMS messages, camera, microphone, and other unnecessary things. Remember that users are wary of downloading apps with dodgy permissions. If you want their trust, this part is very important.

6. Listen to Feedback

Users usually leave reviews in the App Store / Play Store for others to see. More often than not, you’ll find things they don’t like about your app. Constructive or not, this feedback is actually a goldmine to improve your application development. If you take a good look at those comments, most likely there are valid concerns raised, such as a laggy UI, slow login process, payments not being processed properly, lack of confirmation of user actions, and other such things. These things are important to the user, and therefore you must take action. Fix the problem, or find a way around it that will not inconvenience the user. Then push out an update for your app once done. The users will thank you for it later on.

7. Develop for both iOS and Android

Last, but certainly not the least, you have to consider both types of users. Not everyone has an iPhone, but not everyone has an Android phone either. Staying exclusive to one mobile OS severely limits your user base. A good principle of mobile app development is making your apps available to both types of users. That way, you are truly democratizing your apps, allowing anyone to use them regardless of the kind of phone they have.


Now that you have these application development best practices in mind, it’s time to start creating. If you need a few more hands to help you out, Activate Design would be glad to do so. Get in touch with us to know more about how we can help.

 

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Posted in Mobile Apps

10 Things Competitors Can Teach You About App Marketing

Ten Thing Competitors Can Teach You About Mobile App Marketing

Nearly everyone uses a smartphone these days. And people use them to do nearly everything, from reading the news to booking hotel rooms. In fact, before 2015, a study by Smart Insights revealed that the mobile user base surpassed that of the desktop by about 400,000 users. That was two years ago; most likely that number is much bigger today.

At the core of the smartphone software industry are apps. Ever heard of the old saying “there’s an app for that”? Yes, that already is an old saying; it’s been around for a really long while now. Which means apps have also been around for a while. In actuality, apps are now everyday parts of life as much as coffee is for most people. Our modern world runs on apps and will continue to for a long time.

Because of this, competition in the marketplace of apps is also quite tight. Cyberspace is the new ad space, with millions of apps aiming for attention left and right. For the new guys in this space, you might be asking what the best app marketing strategy is. How can you get people to notice your apps? How can you put a smile on their face each time they use your apps?

Well, here are ten things you should consider for your app marketing strategy. These are what the most successful app marketers do, so you’re learning from the best.

1. Advertise on Mobile

Of course, you want to reach your potential clients using platforms they’re already using. And since people are on their phones most of the time, it makes perfect sense to reach them through their phones. Focus most of your advertising efforts on mobile – in other apps, mobile web, YouTube, Facebook, etc. That way, you’ll reach your intended customers a lot easier than in any other advertising platform.

2. Leverage the Power of Social Media

Most of the apps people use are social media apps. Therefore, you can take advantage of that in your app marketing strategy. Advertise your apps on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., and people will surely find out. With the amount of time most people spend checking social media apps on their phones, it’s nearly impossible for them to not notice.

Speaking of social, it’s also a great idea to allow people to spread the word themselves. Once they’ve used your app and found it good, give them the opportunity to tell others about it. That way, you get free advertising from your very own clients.

3. Cash in on Trends

The digital world is full of hashtag hype. Anything, once enough people post about it, can become a trend. In mobile app marketing, taking advantage of trends is itself, a trend. All you have to do is find a popular topic that relates with your app and, in a way, makes a fuss about it. Build hype around that trend, and drop your app right into it. That way, you’re making your app more #relatable and #relevant.

4. Get Feedback

If you want to win in the app game, you’ll also have to eat feedback for breakfast. After all, there’s a saying that goes “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” And who better to give you feedback than your apps’ users? Ask them to give reviews of the app and/or a rating in the App Store / Google Play store. The more positive ratings your apps get, the more people will likely download them. Apps that lack good reviews and ratings cause people to be cautious, and they might even think those apps are dodgy.

5. “Try Before You Buy”

Many paid apps these days have a sort of “free trial” option, where you can use the app but with limited functionality. This is an excellent method of app marketing because users get to experience the app firsthand. Once they’re convinced that the app does its job well, they’ll soon want to unlock its full functionality – of course, by purchasing the full version. You too can do this by offering two separate versions of your apps – a free “lite” version and a paid “pro” version, for example.

6. Take Advantage of Push Notifications

Because people do so many things on their phones, they tend to forget quite easily. That’s where push notifications come in. You can slide in special offers, discounts, and gentle reminders to your users through those push notifications. Yes, some of those reminders could be to purchase the full version of your apps. Talk about a way to push your app marketing strategy forward, eh?

7. Avoid Intrusive Advertising

We did mention using in-app advertising in #1, but let’s be real: Too much of anything is a bad thing. One thing that users hate the most is advertising that interferes with what the app is supposed to do. That’s a big no-no in app marketing. Never ever interrupt the user in the middle of something important. Instead, move the ads to the bottom, or let the ads wait until the user is done with the important stuff.

8. Sell them on the Experience

Selling the app is a good thing, but selling the experience of using the app is better. Sure, you may have the app, but what does it mean for the user? If it means accomplishing more work in less time, for example, then integrate that idea into your app marketing strategy. People can relate better to experiences than just computer code or interface design. Thus, tell them about the things the app can do for them and how it can improve their lives.

9. Use Content Marketing

In today’s internet, content is king. There’s so much information available online, but not all of it is reliable. Put yourself on the “reliable” end by producing useful content. Write about why people need your apps. Use social media to post snippets of what your apps can do. For extra credibility, you can even contact bloggers, tech reviewers, and tech journalists to feature your apps. Having these influential people on board will certainly be the big boon to your mobile app marketing.

10. Be Adaptable

The digital world changes as fast as trends come and go, and it’s also unpredictable. With this in mind, your app marketing strategy must always be ready to adjust. What works today may no longer work next week, but what works tomorrow may still work next month. Therefore, it’s useful to track your analytics – conversion rates, number of positive reviews, and such – and adjust your strategy accordingly. Keep what works, and throw out what doesn’t.

Apps will continue to dominate the online world. Your business will certainly benefit from the power of mobile apps, so best get started right away. And if you don’t know how to make an app, we have you covered. Activate Design offers app development services at reasonable prices to help your business cash in on the mobile trend. Contact us if you’d like to know more.

 

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Posted in Mobile Apps

13 Amazing Facts About Mobile App Development

smartphone app development NZ

Since the advent of the smartphone, mobile apps are quickly taking over areas of life such as communication, entertainment, shopping, and more. For businesses, mobile app development is becoming a necessity to keep up with consumers’ needs. Mobile application development is a very broad field; to help increase your awareness, here are 13 amazing facts about mobile app development.

1. Tablet sales are expected to match computer sales within the next two years. With mobile app development taking precedence over websites for functionality, there’s less need for personal computers and an increasing need for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

2. Mobile apps are used more than websites. A common assumption is that mobile applications are used less compared to websites. However, people actually spend 87% of their time on mobile apps, making mobile app development a must for businesses.

3. Mobile apps can be developed on multiple platforms. Good app design in NZ is essential because there are different operating systems and different programming languages per platform. Developing mobile apps on multiple platforms is essential in gaining the widest potential audience and maximizing earning potential.

4. 74% of mobile app developers use two or more platforms at the same time. In a 2011 research, it was shown that 80% of developers develop apps for Android, iOS or both. Developers that don’t develop mobile applications for at least one of the two major platforms generally have half the revenue of those that do.

5. iOS is the platform most developers use first. 42% of developers choose iOS as a mobile app development platform, while 31% choose Android.

6. iOS is a superior competitor to Android. Across all competitive points except for cost and how easy it is to learn as a development platform, iOS has more advantage over Android.

7. Android is the most bought mobile operating system in the world. In 2012, 70% of smartphone sales had Android operating systems.

8. Advertising is the most popular source of revenue for apps. In app advertising, revenue is expected to reach $16.9 billion dollars by 2018. 38% of mobile developers use ad revenue, while in-app purchases are used by 37% of developers as revenue.

9. 63% of millennials preferred to make purchases on mobile apps. However, 21% of millennials would be turned off from a business they had a poor app experience with, and 31% would not recommend the business to others. Good mobile app design is important in establishing a good brand.

10. There are 5 million apps available to download. There’s a wide range of mobile applications available, with 2.2 million on Google Play, 2 million on the Apple App Store, and 0.7 million in Windows. Good app design in NZ is essential in making your application stand out. In fact,

11. Every day, on average, 4′375 apps are released on the Google Play Store, while on the Apple App Store, an average of 1′082 apps are released daily.

12. The estimated number of app downloads in 2017 is 269 billion. This would be 33 apps for every person on the planet. Meanwhile, in 2016, there were 493 million app downloads per day. However, in developing mobile apps, one has to ensure that the app provides a great user experience and won’t be deleted immediately.

13. 60% of Apple App Store apps have never been downloaded. Meanwhile, after less than 72 hours, more than 70% of downloaded apps are deleted.

Good app design for NZ businesses is more important than ever to deal with multiple platforms, differentiate a business from the competitors, and give users a great experience.

Activate Design has a firm understanding of the application design and development process and can help you maximise the opportunities this new exciting media has to offer your business. To know more, visit our smartphone app development page, or contact us now.

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Posted in Mobile Apps

10 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Mobile App Development

Mobile Apps Development NZ

Mobile apps are taking over, not only in areas of social media and telecommunications, but also in business, shopping, and commerce. Investing in mobile app development for your NZ business is essential for its growth. Here are ten reasons why.

1. Reach a Global Audience
In the digital age, nearly everyone has internet access, and most internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Mobile application development in NZ allows businesses to reach a global audience and connect with customers from all over the world, promoting market expansion and increasing opportunities for business growth.

2. Accessibility
Having a website for your business is good, giving customers a place to visit for information about your products and services. However, investing in mobile app development will let you virtually put your business in their pocket. Mobile apps allow customers to access all they need about your business in one tap, anywhere and anytime.

3. On-the-go advertising
Whether they’re at home, commuting, or at work, mobile applications let consumers access a customer-friendly place for your business. This easy accessibility and regular use of your app will reinforce your business and brand, making consumers more likely to come to you for purchases.

4. Brand Recognition
Mobile app development in NZ can do wonders for brand promotion. Application development will land your business in the Android and iOS app stores, leading to many potential customers who are searching for the services you offer to stumble upon it and download. A great, well-developed, user-friendly mobile app will leave a lasting impression on customers and help build a reputable brand.

5. Value Creation
Having a mobile app makes businesses’ products or services more trustworthy for customers. 96% of the top 50 online retailers in the UK and 94% of top 50 retailers in the US had at least one mobile app. It also makes businesses more professional, as most companies nowadays have mobile applications.

6. Social Platforming
Investing in mobile app development can give your business exposure in many ways. One of these is making your app a social platform. First of all, you can add features like posts, forums, and in-app messaging that allowing customers to interact with each other, discuss and review products, and help build an active community centered around your product or service.

7. Increased Customer Engagement
Mobile apps give consumers a seamless, all-in-one experience with your business, putting your business right in the palm of their hand. Apps businesses reach their clients more effectively; in the same way, clients can directly receive all the content you put out and easily contact you. This efficient communication helps greatly in improving the relationship between consumer and business.

8. Better customer service
Good mobile app development provides customers with everything they need to know about your product, as well as a quick method of communication with staff. Consumers will be able to make mobile transactions, get notified about offers and announcements, view product reviews, and so much more, all without entering a single store.

9. Increased sales and mobile transactions
With the advent of services like Paypal and Amazon, online commerce is growing popular. According to Internet Retailer, adopting a mobile-focused marketing approach for 500 companies resulted in an 80% increase in sales, with 42% of mobile sales coming from applications. Investing in mobile app development in NZ is therefore essential for better sales.

10. Easier Market Research
Market research is essential to businesses. Mobile apps can quickly and effectively collect consumer data and consumer preferences. This will help you present them with content that they’re interested in, giving them a user experience tailored to their needs.

Activate Design has a firm understanding of the application design and development process and can help you maximise the opportunities this new exciting media has to offer your business.

To know more, visit our app development service page.

 

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Posted in Mobile Apps

Welcome Back! 9 Tips to Generate Repeat Visitors to your Site

9 Tips to Generate Repeat Visitors to your Site

 

If you’re a business owner or look after the marketing for your company, you’ll already appreciate how important good website traffic is to your business. Some organisations devote a lot of resources to attracting new customers, but the real gold lies with Repeat Visitors.

New visitors are probably still researching and comparison shopping. Unless you are trading in very low-value products—people don’t usually buy first time. Make no mistake, that first visit is pivotal, and a well-structured website will hold their attention long enough for them to ‘mentally bookmark’ your site and it’s products or services (or you can go one better and provide a javascript button so they can bookmark your site with ease!).

Repeat visitors know what they want and are often purchase ready. A returning user is also more likely to share your product information, interact with your brand, provide reviews and recommend your site.

 Related: Sign up to our Small Business Marketing course to bring more repeat visitors to your site or business.

So how do you generate repeat visitors and ultimately, valuable customers? In this article, we look at nine simple ways to improve your site’s ‘stickiness’ and make your visitors come back for more.

1. Reduce Your Bounce Rate

To reduce your bounce rate, make sure your site loads fast, uses simple, standard menu terms (e.g., Blog, About Us, etc.), is easy to use and looks professional. Visitors who reach your site via a search query (e.g., ‘web design Christchurch’), want to see a site that matches their search keywords, so they know it’s relevant to them. Your site shouldn’t be about how great you are—its purpose is to solve your customer’s problems or needs.

An often overlooked step in website design is user-testing. A bad UX experience can discourage user from re-visiting your site. So make sure site navigation is easy and intuitive, and product ordering is pitched at novice-level.


2. Reward Them

Generate more repeat customers by rewarding them for their loyalty, whether it’s a points scheme, discounts, free shipping, etc. First-time users who opt in for more information can be enticed back to your site through specials and exclusive offers. Create special events for them or hold invitation-only webinars.

 

3. Contact Options

Everyone communicates differently so make sure you provide options: phone, email and social media links. Live chat is the third most preferred communication option for users and it scores high satisfaction rates. It can be much better for your company profile when issues or disputes are resolved privately through live chat, rather than playing out publicly on social media.


4. Keep it Current

A website that isn’t updated frequently is a turn off for repeat visitors. Make sure your blog section has new posts. If you post infrequently, don’t display the date of your post—it’s a dead giveaway for out-of-date content.


5. Make it Social

Users don’t just browse; they want to connect, share, comment, and engage with other visitors. You can generate more leads by growing your website into a community where users can contribute. Allow people to comment on a forum and you can be sure they will return to your site to check for responses. Wish lists allows visitors to interact with your site and offer you a golden opportunity to ‘re-market’ to them when the product becomes available or on special. When adding social media links to your site, the Follow button is more powerful than the Share button for generating repeat visitors. A user may share your web page or product once, but a user who follows you will receive ongoing exposure to your business.

 

6. Opt-In

You can turn first-time visitors into repeat users through an opt-in approach. For e-commerce sites, you can incentivise users to create an account on your site so that you can provide a more personalised service. For small businesses, a free offer (an e-book or a discount voucher) in exchange for a user’s email address is a great way to build up your mailing list. From there, you can email newsletters and special offers to encourage repeat traffic.

Pop-ups can sometimes be distracting but a simple ‘Hello & Welcome’ light box for first-time visitors helps acknowledge them and provides an early opportunity for them to opt-in and provide you with contact information.

 

7. But Wait! There’s More!

Page elements such as Related Posts, Recently Viewed or Recommended Accessories are simple but effective devices for extending visitor browsing time and delivering a more personalised experience to the user.

 

8. Google Remarketing

When users visit your site but leave without making a purchase or leaving contact details, all is not lost. Google Remarketing is an AdWords tool that allows you to direct advertising to visitors of your site (or even specific sections of your site), while they browse elsewhere on the internet.


9. Two Audiences

Your site needs to cater to both new and returning visitors, two subtly different audiences.

New visitors may not know much about your product or even your industry, so options like a Start Here or a Most Popular section on your site can provide a useful entry point for them.

Return or repeat visitors are likely to be knowledgeable about your site, so you need to keep them engaged with fresh content. Be the first to post new information relevant to your industry and build this into your mailing list and social media campaigns, to encourage these users back to your site.

If you’d like to discuss how you can improve your site’s ‘stick’ability—get in touch with us here at Activate, we’re always happy to offer advice.

 

Sign up to a weekly Small Business Marketing Master Class to learn more actionable strategies to help your business. Fill up the form below.



 

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Posted in Marketing

Taking on the Big Boys: The Best Internet Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in 2017

Taking on the Big Boys: The Best Internet Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in 2017

For consumers, the internet is an incredible resource for product information, reviews and price comparisons. For small businesses struggling to reach their market, this could be a bad thing, but it needn’t be.

Related Read: The Best Advice for Local Businesses from the Top 60 Marketing Experts

Sure, it's hard going trying to compete with big box stores or the multi-national e-tailers, but using some smarter internet marketing strategies tailored to your business—you can cut through to those high-value customers who appreciate the personalised service and quality products you have to offer.

Successful internet marketing for small businesses is all about planning ahead—developing strategies and a schedule that you can roll out through the year. Being prepared in this way helps keep costs down too, as you won’t be making last minute, hasty marketing decisions that might be expensive and ineffective.

Here are some of the technologies and internet marketing tools that will put you ahead of the game in 2017:

Sign up to a weekly Small Business Marketing Master Class to learn more actionable strategies to help your business. Fill up the form below.



1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.

We shouldn’t need to remind you that a mobile-optimised presence (website, apps, social media) is almost compulsory these days. Google will pretty much ignore you if your site isn’t mobile-friendly. Mobile overtook desktops in terms of usage way back in 2015, and your customers carry them everywhere, all the time. So make sure your app or mobile website is location aware and can deliver your clients localised information.

What other trends will influence how we market our business on mobile? Expect to see more e-commerce functionality appearing in the apps for social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Google will start to include Apps and Web Apps in their SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages), particularly when that search is instigated on a mobile device. This means even Apps can be SEO-optimised. Single-page, Javascript based apps are relatively easy to create and can serve as mobile sales-oriented landing pages.

2. Video.

Video courtesy of: Take One Business Communication

Whether it be video ads, video podcasts or YouTube How-Tos—video-based content ranks highly in Google’s algorithms and when you provide credible, informative video content, you will get noticed. Video quality is a subjective matter–clear sound and a stable picture are minimum requirements but don’t feel you need to spend a great deal on ‘production values’, your clients may well appreciate something less slick as long as it’s honest, authentic and informative.

3. Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality apps are expensive to develop and somewhat out of reach for small enterprises. However, there are marketing opportunities to be gained from staying abreast of this technology. Pokemon Go was a great example of a gaming app that provided unexpected spinoff benefits for businesses; who used it to attract customers to their premises. While Pokemon Go has waned in popularity, it is only the first of many apps in development, and we will see many more business-oriented AR apps in the near future.

4. Live Video Streaming

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Periscope have brought simple, low-cost live streaming to everyone and for small businesses with a good following on social media, it's a brilliant way to connect with your customers (and more importantly, see who is connecting with you).

5. Native Advertising

Native Advertising

There are differing views on what constitutes native advertising, but for many a good definition is:

“Paid content that matches a publication’s editorial standards while meeting the audience’s expectations.” 

So we’re talking here about sponsored content, written and designed to fit in with the rest of the publication or website. For a small business, this could entail writing a guest blog post for a third-party website related to your industry. The secret is to provide genuinely useful information, tips or advice. You need to be upfront about your company—don’t try to disguise the content as pure editorial, as readers will see right through that ploy. You can offer a discount or a special offer as a call to action, but generally it’s best to be low-key and not 'hard-sell', as you may create a negative impression.

Joline Buscemi has an excellent blog post on the good (and evil) of native advertising. Her advice? Don’t try to trick the audience, just give them useful information and, if appropriate, make it entertaining.

6. Be Immersive

This may not suit all small businesses but if you’ve got something great to show your customers, why not go total immersion? Using 360-degree video, virtual reality or even live webinars, you can create a memorable experience that creates a buzz and is likely to be shared widely. Live webinars provide an excellent opportunity to personalise your marketing to suit a particular audience and also garner valuable feedback from your clients. The networking company Cisco make a good point on their blog regarding live webinars: make sure you record them. 300% to 500% more people watch a recorded webinar than attend a live one.

7. Partnering

Make Your Business Thrive Through Partnerships

Recently I went to a local glazing company to buy a sheet of glass. After some discussion, it was clear that a sheet of perspex was going to suit my needs better. This company immediately gave me the business card of a nearby plastics supplier. These cards were displayed prominently in their reception. This is a good example of the benefits of partnering with a complementary business. Similar arrangements can be made in the online space—everything from simple cross-links, guest blogs, even agreements to sell each other’s products. Vend have a great blog post that outlines what you need to consider when partnering with other businesses.

Above all, successful internet marketing for a small business means you need to Be Different (it worked for Apple!). Try something different, whether it's a new technology or creating truly original and useful content for your customers. Make sure your online brand is unique, recognisable and nothing like your competitors.

 You might also like:

 

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Posted in Marketing

5 Web Design Tips for Startup Websites in 2017

5 Web Design Tips for Startup Websites in 2017

2017 is shaping up to be a year of change and for start-ups, an excellent opportunity to launch a bold new website incorporating the latest design trends. So what website design features worked in 2016 and what can we expect to see more of in 2017?

Some of the more ‘out there’ website design trends include features like virtual reality in the browser (check out Magic Leap for a taste of things to come), Chatbots and AI-powered interfaces like Zo.

Here at Activate Design, we looked at what worked for us regarding web and graphic design from our own work in Christchurch and other design sites around the net. Focusing mainly on startups or new online businesses, we’ve picked five design tips for startup websites that we think are both cool and (more importantly) will improve the user experience for your customers. A survey by Adobe found that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive, so we not just talking window-dressing here, a good website design is crucial to customer engagement.

1. Minimalism

Minimalist design was big in 2016 and will continue in popularity for two good reasons:

  • It removes visual clutter and helps users to get things done more efficiently.
  • Websites with clean, simple interfaces that offer a cohesive mobile and desktop experience win big with users and customers.

Many sites are stripping back the extras and focusing on their content. This means fewer links, banners, etc. and more white space, which encourages scrolling and exploration. Simple sites load much faster, a vital feature for your site, as most users will abandon a website if it takes more than 2 seconds to load.

One feature of minimalism that hasn’t proved to be so successful is Flat Design, where links can be so subtle that users don’t know where to click and become confused. Semi-Flat Design (also known as Flat Design 2.0), introduces subtle shadows, highlights and layers that give users the necessary signifiers to navigate your site without frustration.

Related article: What are the Advantages and Disdavantages of Using Flat Design

2. Micro-interactions

Micro Interaction

Image credit: wikia.com

As Nick Babich from uxplanet.org describes them, micro-interactions are ‘subtle moments centred around accomplishing a single task’. These can be hovers, click animations, scrolling effects or many other simple techniques that improve UX. in 2017, more of these features will be incorporated into the mobile web, as screen sizes grow and customers expect to do more on their smartphones and tablets.

A good micro-interaction:

  • Provides feedback to the user
  • Gives them a sense of being in control
  • Encourages them to act (the call to action)

 

3. Landing Pages

 Landing Pages

Image credit: formstack.com

Homepages are so ‘last year’! Actually home pages are still vital but more and more, the way to grow your business in the online space is through dedicated landing pages that form part of a unified content strategy. For a lean startup, this approach is particularly effective; you can use social media to generate interest in your company while avoiding the high costs associated with traditional advertising.

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (Source ImForza.com), which means website visitors are not necessarily entering through the ‘front door’, so it pays to create SEO-optimised landing pages that deal more directly with the needs of your potential customers.

 

4. Animation

As the internet becomes more like television, moving visual elements such as animations, GIF’s and cinemagraphs can play a great role in conveying concepts and bringing your site to life. Simple animations load much quicker than video or high-res photos and offer startups a great visual tool to explain abstract concepts. A captivating animation or a cheeky Cinemagraph can also buy you valuable extra eyeball time and keep visitors on your site for longer.

Cinemagraphs are basically classy animated GIFs. They usually employ subtle movement that is appealing without the potential annoyance factor of GIFs. Check out these beautiful examples of Cinemagraphs here.

Animations used to be resource-hungry Flash creations, today, with Javascript and CSS coding, websites run much more smoothly. Animations needn’t be just gimmicks, they can be integral components which improve the user experience. For example, many websites use the shaking effect for login fields to indicate to the user that an incorrect action has been taken.

Related article: Effective Website Design

5. Credibility

Credibility Quote

Image credit: quotesgram.com

In this post-truth age, with fake news and an overload of information, credibility and trustworthiness are valuable assets. Website design can play a role in communicating these attributes. The renowned UX expert Jakob Nielsen offers the following advice to enhance website credibility:

  • Websites should have a professional look with clear navigation and no typos!
  • Be upfront. Disclose all relevant information, e.g. shipping charges.
  • Be comprehensive, correct and current. Any old photos or dead links will send users away.
  • Connect to other sites. Links to other third-party sites is a sign of confidence and standing.

At Activate Design, we proudly acknowledge our Christchurch based location as a Website and Graphic Design company. In this way, customers are reassured that there is a solid, bricks and mortar company behind it all (well, steel and glass in our case!).

It's important to remember that while website design can evolve rapidly from year to year, the online habits of users change very slowly and we need to accommodate their needs by keeping to good human-centered design principles.

So there you go, five website design tips to incorporate into your next website. If you’d like more information on any of these design tips, give us a call or email us. Stay tuned for next month’s blog post where we look at the best internet marketing strategies for small businesses in 2017.

 

Related Reads:

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Posted in Web Design

Top 60 Local Marketing Tips from 20 Experts

At Activate, we think good design can play a significant role in the successful marketing of a small business, but it's obviously not the whole story.

When most people think about design, they think brochures, websites and branding. But design applies to everything about your business; great marketing strategies don’t just happen, they’re designed.

So we’re on a mission to find and gather together the best information from experts around the world on small business marketing. Here’s what we found:

Get the full marketing course straight from these experts delivered to your inbox weekly! Sign up below:



 

Kelsey Libert

How to identify (and sell) to your tribes

In marketing terms, a ‘tribe’ are a group of customers with shared beliefs around a product or
brand. According to Matt Lee from Hubspot, Tribes are “individuals who are linked by their social interests.” They’re not only consumers; they can be avid supporters and promoters of your company if you engage well with them.

Look at your customer base and try to identify the ‘tribal groups’ amongst them. Tapping into these groups and tailoring your marketing strategies to align with their passions and beliefs is a great way to boost your business

Kelsey Libert at Fractl outlines four steps to tribal marketing success:

1. Define your tribe (demographics, core beliefs and where they ‘live’ online)
2. Tell a compelling story (match your content with their goals)
3. Create connections between tribe members with your content
4. Provide or support leadership within the tribe

Why content marketing beats advertising

A recent article by Kelsey looks into the relative effectiveness of Content Marketing vs. Advertising. Content Marketing is defined as “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” (Quote courtesy of contentmarketinginstitute.com)

Kelsey found that good content was more effective at improving your website ranking and generates more leads. Good content is frequently shared, giving you a multiplier effect. Advertising isn’t generally shared unless it offers something of genuine value that users would like to share. Infographics and articles are in huge demand by publishers, and this content proliferates through different platforms such as social media and blogs, whereas advertising only appears once, in the position that you purchased.

How to attract customers

What are the three most effective strategies for attracting customers? Kelsey Libert and her team surveyed 1000 people and here are the top three strategies:

1. Direct mail offering discounts, coupons or free trials.
2. Providing free content with relevant information.
3. A good ranking in search results

Amy Porterfield

How to create Sales Pages that really work

Sales pages are dedicated web pages designed to sell. Amy Porterfield has great advice on the four key aspects you need to include in your sales page.

  1. Problem. Define the core problem that your product or service solves.
  2. Paint a Picture. Identify the steps your potential customers may have already taken to solve the problem.
  3. Put your story out there. Show empathy towards their past mistakes (bad product choices etc.)
  4. Pounce on objections. Use FAQ’s to resolve any lingering doubts they may have.

 

How to grow a profitable Facebook Group

Another powerful marketing tool that Amy recommends is the private Facebook group. She says “ …private Facebook groups are an amazing way to galvanize your clients into a true community.” Generally these pages are used as a support tool for clients who have already purchased product. However they can be a very effective sales tool as well. Unlike Facebook pages, where your fans and potential customers are literally sidelined (their comments appear in a sidebar), Facebook groups offer a way to create proper conversations. In Amy’s Podcast, she speaks to Jill and Josh Stanton from screwtheninetofive.com, experts in using private FB groups as a subtle sales tool. Their advice? Provide free content, create a community and then enable opportunities for the members to easily access your paid products or services when they are ready.

Include Testimonials in your marketing

A simple technique that often gets overlooked is the power of the testimonial.

“Ultimately, you want your audience to trust you. To build that trust you need social proof. You need credibility. You need other people raising their hand and saying that they not only know and like you but that you played a crucial role in getting them results. That’s exactly what testimonials can do for you.” Amy Porterfield.

Testimonials should constantly be gathered, and Amy suggests you create a database where you can store them. They can come from anyone connected to your business, not just customers but peers, suppliers, etc. Facebook groups are a good source of positive feedback. When it comes down to it, people want to know what other people think of you.

John Jantsch

Five questions you should ask every customer

John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing says customer feedback “…is one of the best ways to discover what you do that actually differentiates you from your competition.”

He has compiled a list of five questions you should ask your customers on a regular basis:

  1. What made you decide to hire us/buy from us in the first place?
  2. What’s one thing we do better than others you do business with?
  3. What’s one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?
  4. Do you refer us to other, and if so, why?
  5. What would you Google to find a business like ours?

John has another great question you can add to your customer survey—what other companies (in other business sectors) do they like? This will give you a great indication of who you can learn from or even seek out for strategic relationships.

Why you must advertise

There’s no arguing that advertising can be an expensive proposition. But John Jantsch at DuctTape Marketing argues that advertising is still essential because it supports all your other marketing endeavours, brings exposure to your content and adds credibility to your message. Unlike other forms of marketing, advertising is a tool where you have complete control over timing, location and content.

Leverage your small business advantage

John outlines ten natural advantages that small companies have over large ones and asks the question “…are you leveraging your natural advantages?”

Small companies can be more nimble, offer personal service and more tailored products. Even large companies are adopting these ‘think small’ business practices to satisfy the needs of their customers.

 Tim Reid

Must-haves for your website

Having a company website is a no-brainer these days, but you need to make sure the investment is paying off by optimising your website for usability, search-friendliness (SEO), marketing and of course, helpful content. Some things to avoid? As well as an excellent infographic on the 50 musthaves for your site, Tim recommends you avoid flash animations, background music and videos hosted on your website (much better to use the power of YouTube or Vimeo).

Move your PR campaign online

Audiences are divided - traditional PR campaigns targeting mainstream media are less effective these days. Tim Reid from The Small Business Big Marketing Show recommends you target smaller but more engaged, boutique audiences via podcasts, Bloggers, YouTube, etc. Think of it as PR 2.0.

Be Contactable

By listing your company details in online directories, you ensure your business has a strong presence in online search results. Make sure you are present and that your contact information is up-to-date and accurate. It's usually free, easy to do and could gain you extra customers with little effort. It's also important that you and your staff are easily contactable.

Seth Fendley

Give your customers live chat

Live Chat is a great tool for connecting with users who want a quick answer while they’re browsing your website and as Seth points out, live chat offers perfect timing for sales. Customers can interact directly with you, while they browse your site. It’s a hugely under-utilised tool for customer sales and service. Some platforms, such as purechat.com, even offer free basic packages.

Why your business should be on Instagram

Instagram have launched business accounts which give business owners access to promotion, contact and analytics tools within Instagram. This allows users to not only follow you; they can contact you direct within the app.

Use Events to market your business

Although the online space dominates marketing initiatives these days, there is still plenty of scope for promotion in more traditional areas. Seth looks into how events can be an effective method for marketing your brand. There are three levels of commitment when it comes to events:

1. Networking events (which tend to be one on one relationship building opportunities)
2. Industry Conferences (not just your industry but the industry your clients are working in)
3. Hosted Event (a major commitment but an excellent way to establish leadership & credibility)

Thijs de Valk

Make discounting work for you

Thijs de Valk at Yoast looks at the psychology of discounting. He says it's the thought of missing out that drives the most uptake of discounts and specials. A behavioural scientist, he’s found some deals work better than others. For example, people prefer to get 50% more of a product than save 33% on the original product.

Be mobile friendly

In his SEO blog, Thijs identifies the need for responsive design as one of the key factors in your website’s success. Google provides an online tool where you can test your site’s mobile ‘friendliness’. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ Another simple test is to resize your browser to approximate a mobile or tablet screen and see how it responds.

Create loyal customers

“How do you get the people who have already bought something from you to buy something again?”

Thijs’s tips for creating loyal customers? Be active (Blog Posts, articles, social media) so your existing customers don’t forget you. Be prompt - answer email queries within 24 hours. Reward your customers and make them feel special - and you’ll find they reciprocate (more business, positive reviews, referrals).

Cornelia Cozmiuc

Spy on your competition

Wondering what your competition are up to? Cornelia Cozmiuc offers some fantastic tips on how you can research (i.e. spy!) on your competitors using a collection of online tools such as brand.mention.com, a site where you can track any mention of your brand (or your competitors) on the web.

Customise your email marketing

Your client list is a valuable resource, make sure it's up-to-date with your current addresses, mobile numbers and email addresses.

As Cornelia Cosmic explains in her blog, sending the same standard weekly or monthly newsletters to all your customers doesn’t cut it anymore. Your customers most likely fall into different categories, and you need to target each group with content customised to suit them.

Look for keywords in new places

“Find keywords semantically related to your niche, but not necessarily used by your competitors.”

What to do when everyone’s using the same keywords and the market is crowded? Cornelia’s tip is to look in new places for keywords.

  • Photo sites like Shutterstock and Pixabay can be a great source for keywords, using the photo descriptions rather than the images themselves, as a keyword resource.
  • Amazon, the premier selling site, is another great source of keywords, using the autocomplete feature to show you what people are seeking.
  • Print publications related to your business can be a good source of keywords because the language used often difference from that found online.
  • Wikipedia covers many topics and languages, making it another great avenue for keyword research.

Seth Godin

Don’t be cheap

“Cheap is the last refuge for the marketer who can't figure out how to be better.”

Seth points out that large organisations can do cheap because they have scale and advanced processes. For the smaller enterprise, cheap invariably means reducing customer service to reduce costs and before you know it “Organizations panic in the face of the floor falling out from under their price foundation, and they often respond by becoming a shell of their former selves.”

Look for patterns

“Human beings are pattern-matching machines. Changing our beliefs, though, is something we rarely do. It's far easier to sell someone on a new kind of fruit than it is to get them to eat crickets, regardless of the data you bring to the table.”

Seth identifies two business options for growth:

  1. Create a new, innovative product/service not seen before
  2. Provide a product/service that is familiar and recognised

Seth argues that while real innovation is important to our economy, ‘pattern’matching’ your offering to something that already exists gives customers a comfortable, recognisable product that will sell more readily.

Be better, not bigger

Is bigger always better? Seth suggests that while it might be better more investors, ‘bigger’ can be less beneficial for your customers, particularly in a service-based business. ‘Better’ should always take priority over ‘bigger’.

 Brian Hughes

Improve your ranking in local search results with Google Business

“Google My Business is a master dashboard that connects your business directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+. Think of it as a master information hub from which you can manage all things Google."

Local SEO is important for bricks and mortar businesses who rely mostly on local custom. By adding your business information, location, images, keywords and selecting business categories, Brian shows how you can significantly improve your ranking in local search results.

Improve your ranking with local content

Following on from Google my Business, Brian’s next tip for improving local SEO ranking is by having excellent local content.

“Google’s ultimate goal is to provide searchers with the most relevant content as quickly as possible. To rank at the top, you need to think of yourself as the solution provider. And the solution you’re providing? Great content that answers search queries…”

The trick to creating this content, according to Brian, is to work backwards. Start with your potential users and their intentions (typically they want to do something, know something or find something), and then create the resource that answers these needs.

Engage with your community

“It takes a village to run a successful business, and it takes passion for community to make a business successful.”

For firms that rely on local custom, Brian says it's crucial that you and your staff engage with your community. Providing live chat on your website is proven way to engage with customers and provide customer service. Encouraging online reviews and contributing to local charities also help to build your reputation in the community.

Brian Dean

What your web page needs to rank

Brian has an information-packed infographic on his blog that shows the elements you need on your web page to make it rank well.

  • Put your keyword at the beginning of your title tag
  • Keep your URL short
  • Include videos, images and diagrams
  • Link to other (relevant) websites
  • Make sure your page loads fast (Google downgrades slow loading pages)
  • Post longer content (This increases user time spent on your site and improves ranking)

Increase your web traffic

Brian has four tips to increase your website traffic:

  1. Find influential people In your niche
  2. Find out what these influencers care about
  3. Tailor content to these influencers and the subjects that they care about
  4. Include ‘share triggers’ in your content (give users something they will want to share)

Improve your YouTube ranking

Video plays a huge part in today’s online experience. If you’ve created video content to promote your business, you need to make sure that content ranks well when potential customers are looking at video search results. The key, as Brian outlines in his tip, is ‘video keywords’. Google usually provides Youtube links in it’s search results with search terms like “How-to’, ‘Review', ‘Tutorial’ and of course, ‘video’. So build your content around these video friendly keywords and you will improve your rankings. Brian does emphasise the need to produce quality video because within Youtube; the best ranking videos are those that are watched most frequently and for the
longest duration. If your video is poor quality, viewers will move on, and your video will lose its ranking.

 Neil Patel

Make your blogs perform better

Neil Patel has a great set of tools and tips for improving your company blog posts. His favourite tool is BuzzSumo, a site that promises to “Analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor.” Just enter your blog topic into BuzzSumo and it gives you detailed analysis of that subject, to guide you on what will work best.


Use Social Media as a sales and service tool

In his blog, Neil looks at ways you can leverage social media for improving business results. His suggestions include engaging the service Cayzu, which turns mentions and messages from social media users into helpdesk tickets which you can action straight away. This adds a valuable customer service component to your company’s social media presence.

Boost your online presence

For a new business, establishing yourself online is essential and for businesses with a local focus, social media is particularly effective. Neil’s online marketing tips include managing your social media process through a single portal called Buffer (https://buffer.com/). You can schedule when your posts are released and distribute them to all your social media platforms simultaneously.

Ryan Deiss

Create a statement of value

Ryan has two simple exercises to help you define the value of your business:

  1. Define your customer’s before and after state.
  2. Creating your Statement of Value.

What is your potential customer’s position before they have your product/service, and what should it be afterwards? Once you define this state, you can create your Statement of Value, which can be used in all your marketing content.

Ryan provides examples of this Statement of Value, such as:

“Lego enables children of all ages to experience the joy and challenge of building something that is uniquely theirs.”

Your marketing content should emphasise whats ‘in it for the customer’.

Know what your business is about

A powerful lesson when running your business is knowing when to say no. As Ryan explains in his blog, many businesses fail because they take on too many good ‘opportunities’, without really having a good understanding of what their own business is about. It’s a bit of a cliche, but this is why a good mission statement is so important, as it defines what you do (and equally what you don’t do).

How to deal with competition

Ryan’s video blog on how to deal with competition starts with a simple observation—having competition is a very good sign that you’re in the right business. A compete lack of competition may well suggest that there isn’t actually a viable market for your product or service.

Ryan outlines three points of difference your product or service needs to have to succeed:

  1. A different flavour or approach to the others
  2. A new or distinctive feature
  3. A new or unique way to supply or deliver your product/service.

In the end, according to Ryan, it's all about having a product that adds value, giving your customers something that the competition don’t offer.

Bernadette Jiwa

Tell the right story about your product

Bernadette’s blog looks at the story-telling process that's integral to all marketing content. She concludes that storytelling that focuses on the customer and how they use your product is more engaging and relevant than a story about how your product is better or newer. Campaigns like ‘Shot on iPhone’ put the customer in the middle of the story. As Bernadette puts it:

“Your job is to show your customer how your product makes him the hero of his story.”

Talk when your customers are listening

Businesses may be delivering their social media messages and online content into a void if they don’t take into account their customer’s schedules. Bernadette emphasises the need to communicate at times and places that suit your customer, not your company. She asks “When are
your customers listening?”

Measure the right data

Companies can get caught up in the hard data they gather as part of the sales process and start to believe this tells the whole story about their business. Bernadette urges business owners to look beyond this data and examine the other ‘transactions’ that take place. A salesperson may provide valuable advice that doesn’t immediately translate into a sale and therefore doesn’t ‘register’. However this transaction does have value by strengthening customer relationships and establishing credibility.

Josh Turner

Create a simple 12 month planner

In Josh’s video blog, his tip for taking your business to the next level is creating a 12-month planner. Make the challenge of growing your business more manageable by breaking it into monthly steps. This allows you to plan your strategy, delegate the workload and track your progress.

The right way to build a team

Josh looks at the tricky process of bringing in new employees to grow your business. How do you fund this expansion without losing income? Josh says “ …the key is to make sure you only spend the cash you are netting to bring on a new hire. You don’t want to go into debt to do this.”

Crucially, you need to ensure your new recruit is an income-generating employee who is welltrained and ready to go.

Two actions that ensure success

Josh boils down all the tips and suggestions for business success down to two crucial activities:

  1. Marketing
  2. Taking Action

Company owners can get bogged down with all the advice and tips, together with long to-do lists and operational tasks within their company. In doing so, they neglect the marketing aspect of their business, which is the only way to ‘get the needle moving’. Successful businesses activate market themselves, constantly trying out new strategies. They also take action (following through on sales leads and focusing on income generating tasks, not admin or procedural work.)

Belinda Weaver

Use the power of ‘because’

In Belinda’s copywriting blog, she delves into the persuasive power of the word ‘because’, and why you should include it in your marketing copy. When you use ‘because’, you are providing a reason, and research has shown that persuasive arguments that include reasoning are much more powerful. But it's not enough to just say ‘because’! You need to follow with a reason that also encourages the reader or customer to say Yes. Here’s one of Belinda’s examples:

“Order now because we offer same-day shipping on orders before 2 pm!”

This gives readers a reason to order now and motivates them to act.

Talk to the little voice inside your customer

Belinda writes that “Understanding your reader and what motivates them is the key to effective copywriting”. So why do people buy something and how does this influence the marketing copy you write? Belinda explains that you need to dig deeper into the subconscious motivations of your audience, to find out what’s driving them. It may be a need for power, status or perhaps just social acceptance. The little voice inside them is not the rational voice; it's the one that speaks to their true feelings. When you appeal to this voice, you can win the customer’s trust and establish credibility.

Provide free samples—it works

Providing free samples of your product can be a very effective marketing technique says Belinda,
as long as it is done the right way. You need to make sure:

  1. Your free product sample reaches your target audience
  2. You include enough of your product to be useful.
  3. The recipient knows how to use your product.
  4. You make buying easy with a special offer or instructions on where to buy.

Frank Kern

Get customers to text you for help

Frank Kern tried an experiment where he emailed potential customers who, for whatever reason, did not buy his product. He gave them the opportunity to text him if they had any problems or queries. As a result, he got a significant boost in sales. The reason it works? You offer potential customers a more personal response and texting is a frictionless communication medium that most people are very comfortable with.

Write copy that sells

To write copy that sells, Frank explains that the look is just as important as the content. Keep the text large and readable, sentences short and punchy. In the online space, people skim read, so memorable headings and sub-headings are crucial if you want to get your message across.

Turn ‘No’ into ‘Yes’

It's a fact of life in business that most potential customers will not buy your product. As Frank Explains in his blog post, that's normal human behaviour. We are taught from a young age to be responsible, don’t make hasty decisions, don’t buy on impulse. Frank’s technique for bringing these ‘no’ customers around is to track their behaviour and provide them with multiple opportunities to stay engaged. He uses the term ‘response indicators’ to describe the actions potential customers take before they are ready to buy. The classic example is taking a car for a test drive.

Rand Fiskin

Create great presentations

Presenting at conferences or seminars is a great way to promote your business, but only if you make a good impression. Rand Fishkin at Moz has some great tips on how you can make your audience swoon. Some of the tips include:

  • Don’t share tips or advice that more than 20% of your audience already know.
  • Don’t allow your audience to read ahead on your powerpoint slides (they’ll stop listening to you)
  • Create tension or anticipation, then resolve it.

Apply human behaviour to you marketing

In this blog post, Rand links to a video about an independent game creator, and how his experience can offer insights into marketing and human behaviour. Some key learning from the video:

  • The more compressed information is, the further it travels (it's more shareable)
  • Disproving opinions held by your customers will often bolster their belief in that opinion
  • Companies and products are judged by their associations as much as by the quality of the product/company itself.
  • Media tend to amplify existing beliefs rather than introducing new or more complex concepts.

As Rand points out, “ This is incredibly important for marketers, startups, and entrepreneurs. If you (or your product) have been defined in a certain way by the press, your fans, or a niche community, your best shot at earning additional attention is to leverage the associations you have rather than trying to create a nuanced, complex portrayal. Of course, much of the time, this may come at the cost of accuracy and holistic transparency.”

Keep your content accessible

Rand takes a look at content creation and ponders the question "... should we be writing only extremely focused, narrowly focused content for our specific target audience, or should we be trying to branch out and broaden so that we can reach a bigger audience or a new audience?”

In general, Rand believes a narrow, exclusive focus is counter-productive. The reasons?

  1. Your competitors are gunning for the same narrow market
  2. You minimise link opportunities from websites, press and blogs.
  3. You’re missing potential customers and influencers outside your normal sphere of influence.

His recommendations are to:

  • Nail down the actual content goals with your team, your manager, or your client.
  • Try and distribute those broad versus narrow versus hyper-specific content efforts.
  • Establish some cadence, some channels, some of the promotion efforts that are going to fit the goal and the target audience.
  • Use the right metrics to measure your progress against these goals.

 

Derek Halpern

The right way to use testimonials
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers looks at testimonials and how, if incorrectly managed, can damage your company’s reputation. As users, we are inherently sceptical of reviews, particularly when they seem to be overwhelmingly positive. In some cases, these reviews have indeed been proven to be fake, with disastrous results for the company concerned.

Derek suggests its almost never a good idea to get friends to do testimonials for you. Your audience will sooner or later make connections, and there goes your credibility.

Derek’s tip for good testimonials is to focus on specifics:

“ I encourage you to go deeper and focus on specific customers, specific problems, and help you provide an experience for your prospects that makes them say WOW.”

Take two steps to better sales

Derek has two simple steps that you need to take to grow your sales:

Step 1: Find A Big Problem People Will Pay To Fix…
Step 2: And get paid to fix it.

If your product or service doesn’t solve a customer’s big problem, then selling it is going to be a lot harder. But as Derek indicates in step 1, it has to be a problem that people will pay to get fixed. If they won’t (or can’t afford to) pay for your solution, then your product won’t sell.

Avoid the pricing ‘trade-off effect’

Derek looks at pricing and a simple technique to ensure you sell your product at the price you want. Instead of having one or two price tiers and continually haggling with your customers over discounts, Derek suggests you create a three or four tier price structure. Human nature ensures that most clients will opt for the middle tier pricing (which should be the rate you want), and they are less likely to ask for discounts as you’ve already provided them with price options.

Perry Marshall

Take care of your greatest business asset

What is your most valuable business asset? According to Perry “The most valuable asset you can own is a well-maintained customer database.”

Perry maintains that your customer database is even more valuable than your product - as customers are harder to find and easier to lose. Your next most valuable asset? Your potential customer database. How good is your database? Do you have all their details and stay in regular
contact?

Apply the 80/20 rule when identifying hot prospects

Perry describes how a colleague following the 80/20 rule (where you focus on the top 20% of your customers who provide the most revenue), used this simple sorting method to identify hot prospects:

  1. Do they have the money?
  2. Do they have a bleeding neck? (i.e.,. do they need a problem solved urgently)
  3. Do they buy into your Unique Selling Proposition? (Is your offer unique and appealing to them?)
  4. Do they have the ability to say YES?
  5. Does what you sell fit their overall plans?

Get ready to change your online strategy

This blog post by Perry is not so much a tip as a warning: be ready to change your online strategy as more and more users switch to mobile platforms and app-based content browsing. Your website is a great tool for marketing but what happens when the users stop visiting? You need to be where the audience lives and today this means apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.

Molly Pittman


Use Facebook advertising to boost local business

Molly states that for local businesses “There’s no better way to promote your local business than using Facebook ads. Not only can you advertise on a small budget, turn the campaign on and off whenever you’d like (much different than a billboard or TV commercial), there’s also a social aspect…Your customers can help promote your business to their family and friends on Facebook, and we all know how effective word of mouth is.

The reason Facebook local ads work so well, according to Molly, is the fact that the targeting is already done for you. You know where your customers live, and this makes it much easier to create a geographically specific campaign. The trick when creating your ad is to include local place names or similarly recognisable terms that will catch the user’s attention.

One tip to make your podcast successful

Podcasting can take a lot of investment in time, resources and equipment, but if it succeeds, the spinoff benefits are immense. Molly explains the experience they had at Digital Marketer and the single most important factor in a podcast’s success—the launch.

Molly writes that “When you get the launch right — you can screw up a lot of things and still get tons of exposure on iTunes. The iTunes algorithm rewards podcasts that come out of the gates with lots of momentum and gives zero exposure to those that launch with no momentum.”

Find your target market with Facebook

With over 1.6 billion users, you can definitely find your target market on Facebook. The reason Facebook is so powerful for marketing, according to Molly, is because it “ has more interest based data than anyone else in the world – and it’s about things that actually matter to us as marketers.” Audiences can be targeted by the usual demographics: Age, Gender, Location, Language. But with Facebook, you can create even more accurate campaigns through Detailed Targeting, which includes options such as behaviour and Interests to drill down to your desired audience.

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Posted in Marketing