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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
Posted in Marketing
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Related article: Effective Website Design
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.
- 6 Startup Tips to Make your Business Successful
- Top Trending Website Design Inspirations
- Why You Should Make Your Web Design Responsive
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Posted in Web Design
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:
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
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
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.
- Problem. Define the core problem that your product or service solves.
- Paint a Picture. Identify the steps your potential customers may have already taken to solve the problem.
- Put your story out there. Show empathy towards their past mistakes (bad product choices etc.)
- 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.
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:
- What made you decide to hire us/buy from us in the first place?
- What’s one thing we do better than others you do business with?
- What’s one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?
- Do you refer us to other, and if so, why?
- 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.
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.
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.
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)
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).
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.
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:
- Create a new, innovative product/service not seen before
- 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’.
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.
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:
- Find influential people In your niche
- Find out what these influencers care about
- Tailor content to these influencers and the subjects that they care about
- 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.
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.
Create a statement of value
Ryan has two simple exercises to help you define the value of your business:
- Define your customer’s before and after state.
- 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:
- A different flavour or approach to the others
- A new or distinctive feature
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.)
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:
- Your free product sample reaches your target audience
- You include enough of your product to be useful.
- The recipient knows how to use your product.
- You make buying easy with a special offer or instructions on where to buy.
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.
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?
- Your competitors are gunning for the same narrow market
- You minimise link opportunities from websites, press and blogs.
- 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.
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.
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
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:
- Do they have the money?
- Do they have a bleeding neck? (i.e.,. do they need a problem solved urgently)
- Do they buy into your Unique Selling Proposition? (Is your offer unique and appealing to them?)
- Do they have the ability to say YES?
- 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.
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
As a sole proprietor or sole trader, you alone are responsible for your staff, supplies, contracts, debts and decisions. If independence is a goal for you, then the sole trader is the perfect business model to start. Becoming a sole trader is the simplest way to startup a business, and here are some steps to lead you forward toward business setup and effective marketing techniques.
Name the business
Find an effective name for your business that resonates with you, and with your business personality. You can drive the business using your own name (for example, “Frank's Flowers”), or you can choose another name. Using your own name gives credibility to the business, but if you intend to sell the business in future then something completely unique may be a better fit. As a sole proprietor you do not need to register your business name, but you do need to ensure that it is not the same as a registered trademark or existing company’s name.
Keeping the name simple, short, and easy to spell will make it easier for people to find you. For example, "Franks Fabulous Flowers Fendalton" is a catchy name, but won't work well as a website address or email address. As an example you couldn't expect customers to email (email@example.com). It would be better to stay simple (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Often we recommend registering two domains names as they work much like signposts, simply pointing to your website location. A domain should only be about $30+gst to register per year, so it's worth having a second domain if it makes it easier for people to find you and spell your name. For example (www.franksflowers.co.nz) and (www.franks.co.nz), where you could use the much shorter email address (email@example.com).
Follow this link for more tips on Naming Your Business.
Get a business brand and logo
Having a brand and logo to represent your business is so very important. Your brand needs to be professional and easily recognisable to be at the forefront of your business. Your logo needs to be simple enough that it can be clear and readable when printed on anything from a pen to a billboard, and instantly recognisable when viewing on either a large screen or on the small screen of a mobile device. Your logo must be unique enough to not be mistaken for any other brand. Your brand should be something you are proud to stand behind so it's worth investing in the talents of an experienced graphic designer to design a stylised and professional logo that will represent your business as it launches, and for many years to come.
Click here for more information on Logos and Branding.
Register your trade mark
Unlike companies, as a sole trader you cannot stop other businesses from using your name – unless you have registered it as a trade mark to protect your brand. When you register you will need to supply a clear description of your trademark, and you can upload your logo to protect it.
Click here to view costs and instructions, and to follow the steps for Registering a Trademark.
Register your domain name
I recommend that before you register your trade mark, you should do a search to see if the domain is available. This could avoid a lot of problems later trying to find a domain name that resembles your company name, or trying to purchase the domain you want - at what will likely be an inflated price if someone has already purchased it for the purpose of onselling it for profit. Consider all the TLD's as well, such as (.co.nz) which has always been popular, and now the new (.nz) which may soon eclipse the (.co.nz) option. If you are an organisation you may want to use (.org) or (.org.nz), and if you intend to trade overseas or build up a business empire, you would do well to secure the (.com).
Follow this link to search for and Register A Domain Name. This search also allows you to search for multiple TLD’s, so you can look for the (.com) domain, the (.co.nz) domain, and the newer (.nz) domain.
Start collecting website content and images
Your business will need to have a strong online marketing presence, and there is no better marketing investment than your own website, over which you can have full control. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter will always have their place, but they will never give you full control like your website will. There are no guarantees with social media sites because rules can change, new charges may appear, and in many cases you forefit ownership of your content by uploading it. On your own website you own and control your own content.
So yes, social certainly media has it's place but it's important to funnel your social media audience and followers through to your own business website, where you can present the full spectrum of what you offer from one clear and professional platform. Once on your website your visitors will also have the option to signup to your newsletter (if you choose to send one), view your location and available hours, and contact you direct through your website contact form. Some websites may include application forms or appointment forms, as well as offering products for direct sale. Talk to us about building the right website with the functionality that would aid your business process and best serve your existing customers and wider online audience.
Even in the earliest beginnings of your business startup it will benefit you greatly in the long term to gather all the information you can. From blogging about your experience, to keeping a note of important dates, significant steps, and photos of the startup in action. Your audience will be better able to connect, resonate and relate to you if you offer more than a window-view of your business, instead present your business with personality and pride.
Tips Checklist to protect your Intellectual Property (IP)
To check if your business name is available go to OneCheck. From here you can do a name search to make sure that no other company is using the same or similar name to what you want to use. If you wish to register your name as a 'Limited' Company, it costs around $10 to apply for your name online. Click here to Reserve a Company Name and for more information.
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Posted in Branding
Starting with an idea.
All businesses start with an idea, launched with the well seasoned advice; “start with the end in mind”. So, you have a great idea for a new business, backed by a passion and drive to mould it into life, now where do you see the road taking you down this new business journey? Some business people will say they envision the business becoming something they can franchise, others say that they will be able to expand and provide jobs, and still others that they simply ARE the business, and it will exist as long as they are there to run it. Envision your own individual business coupled with an easily recognisable brand and logo design and strong online presence, and you're off to a great start.
Your new business presence will need to be maintained by a simple online marketing campaign to ensure you become recognisable and most importantly, competitive. Ensure your online presence reflects exactly the business personality that inspired you in the first place! It’s important to start out with a business plan to give shape and direction to your business idea. Your business planning process should include these steps:
- Decide your own goals and objectives. This may include a strong online presence, selling online with an eCommerce website, and/or for your customers to be able to take advantage of everything you are offering, be it product or service, by using their mobile devices.
- Research, research and research, then note down your business plan. Take a look at your competitors websites. See how they are best serving their customers. How easy is it for their customers to access the products/services offered? Are your competitors providing an online service? And if so, what do you or don’t you like about their website, facebook page, twitter feed or other social media presence.
- Review your business plan. This should be an on-going process, ensuring your plan is relevant in your industry and in line with modern business practice. Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing is good practice and will benefit not just you but your customers as well. Let your customers see that yours is an evolving business, changing to meet current needs and trends, and perhaps creating your own trends and keeping ahead of the competition!
- Maintain a focus on your business plan and continue to update it. Things will change, and for the continued success of your business, you need to keep up with business practices, trends, and technology. For example; If your business plan currently incorporates a website, it is invaluable that you know about Googles recent policy change to give search result priority to responsive websites. If your audience are mobile users, it would be in your businesses best interests to change your business plan to better cater to this audience. There may also be room in your marketing budget for app. development or a dedicated mobile website as another outlet for your products and ideas.
The Business Plan
Business plans are a broad platform that take into account your personal goals and the status and future of your industry. We all know the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”, so putting this into practice means to have a strong, pro-active plan for your new business that will focus your efforts and provide a measure for your results.
It’s good practice to identity your risks, know where the pot holes are, the curves in the road and the temptations (like shiny gadgets and envy-inducing signwritten vehicles). For example; if you are a florist and your competitor has an eCommerce website to provide their bouquets online, but you are starting out with a more cost effective content management website (a cms website does not offer online sales) to advertise your florist store, then target your website content and images to best present your products and welcome people to your store, until an eCommerce website and an SEO campaign is an option that would work with your ideal business model and plan.
Knowing your target market and how they will be able to connect with you is also very important. For example; If you are in the travel industry, perhaps a motel owner, you need to identity the risk of not having a responsive or mobile website. Because your target audience consist mostly of travellers, who would very likely be using a mobile device to search for accommodation, are they able to find you online? And if they do will they be able to easily view your important information and navigate your website on a mobile device? Or will they become frustrated with a website that is not mobile friendly and find an alternative accommodation provider.
Websites and Marketing for New Businesses - The Summary
So you're going to take the leap and control your own destiny, turning one brilliant idea into a platform from which to support yourself (and potentially others), offering your skills to the world. Dreaming big is good but first, pen must be put to paper to define your "vision statement" and "mission statement", before we move on to things like registering your business name and purchasing a domain.
Your vision statement will describe where you see yourself. Using our new business florist idea, here's an example; "We are the most accessible online florist in New Zealand, supporting the gift of giving through top quality floral arrangements and fast, reliable service and delivery."
Your mission statement, on the other hand, will be the outlined plan for how you get there, for example; "We are versatile and state-of-the art. Our classic villa style and store is complimented by the design and functionality of an eCommerce site, attached to our in-store stock management system to ensure real-time updates of product availability. We accept and process immediate online orders and arrange fast delivery. We are versatile and pro-active, providing floral arrangements of the highest quality and offering a new product every fortnight, and sales for special occasions."
So get started today on your new business and marketing ideas, visit some websites in your desired industry and look at the latest in design and layout, as well as the information, services and functionality that is being provided. Make your own distinctions on what you favour, in terms of too much or too little information provided, whether the website complements the style of the product or service being advertised, and if an online presence can clearly tell you what that company's vision and missions are.
Visit our Portfolio today to view some recent website design examples and for a little more inspiration into what's possible with professional and affordable website and branding design.
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Posted in Branding
Being your brand could mean that you proudly represent the business logo, name and brand that fronts your organisation, or it could simply mean being yourself – representing your own integrity and lifting your personal brand and reputation to new heights.
According to Forbes, some of the most reputable companies in 2014 included The Walt Disney Company, Canon, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, The Coca Cola Company and Amazon, the list goes on! These are companies with brands that many of us feel we can trust. These forward thinking organisations have created and maintained their profiles to a level where for us, thinking about their brand generates positive feelings. In short, we trust them to provide what we want - and that’s a part of what a brand is right? It’s a feeling that we have toward a company when we see their logo or products, and even a feeling we have toward a person when we hear their name. A reputation must be made, but if carefully cultivated it can always grow and change.
"Though a reputation evolves behind a brand, it is also what precedes it."
What feeling do people have about your brand? You may have to ask around to know for sure, or you may have a feeling about your own brand already and know some areas that you wish to work on and evolve.
- Commitment to customer care
- Ensuring clarity in all aspects of services offered
- Excellent communication
- Passion for what you/your team provides
- Strong focus on the job at hand
- The work of a master craftsman and expert in the field
- Always going the extra mile
- In touch with modern styles and trends
- Offering modern equipment and techniques
- Down to earth, approachable
- Excellent quality control
- Positive, friendly and approachable
- Creative and adaptable
- Intuitive and Inspiring
- Undertaking the work on time and as quoted
- Thorough and accurate in plan and action
From your 5 chosen characteristics - does your brand present these factors to the world? If your brand correctly represents your integrity and values AND delivers on these things, people are more likely to remember you and mention you to others.
If your business brand is dated, we can work with you to incorporate your values into your brand, promoting more than just a business name. We can work with you to give your brand IMPACT, so it stands out from the crowd. We can evolve your brand so it reflects your business in 2015. Read more about branding here.
Whether you are a business brand or you are maintaining your own personal brand, a good starting tip for ensuring your brand is consistent would be to check your online personal or business profiles to ensure you are presenting yourself professionally and consistently. Your online presence may need to be lifted and updated on sites such as GooglePlus, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even your own website may need some new images to bring it up to date and re-freshing or completely re-writing your content is a good way to make a fresh start for the year. Click this link to find out more about our content writing services.
- Maintaining integrity and good manners, even through challenges
- Making the extra effort to maintain a clean work vehicle or tidy office
- Taking pride in your talents, skills and team
- Making time to update your online presence and provide examples of your work
- Giving more than was asked and going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction
These some of the qualities that work for you to promote a good reputation. A lot of companies I have done content writing for often tell me their biggest reward is the moment when the client comes home and sees their new driveway, or their window installation, or the new feature wall that has been built. I have been assured by many business owners that a positive reaction from their clients is the best thank you they can receive, and the best motivation to carry on to the next job, and the next.
It’s one thing to do a job for the money, and another job completion for your portfolio. It is quite another to do a job because your enjoy and are good at something, and have a confidence that what you can offer will be a benefit to someone who may be overjoyed with the final result.
I will leave you with an example of one of our customers who comes to mind as an excellent example of Being Your Brand: Diane Watson from Hair Therapy. I mention Diane because when I met her she had the light of enthusiasm in her eyes the whole time she talked with me about her team and the services they offer as medical wig specialists. Diane lives her brand, and I know that she gives 110% to each of her clients because she knows how they FEEL. She knows how they feel because Diane herself was a client for 7 years before buying this business that had already made a positive impact on her life, for the purpose of doing the same for others. Diane IS her brand, through living her own values of care and understanding, and going the extra mile to give her customers a quality product and an experience that makes them feel comfortable and welcome.
Because of the excellent representation of her brand that she advertises through her character and enthusiasm, Diane inspires confidence in her abilities and trust that she really does look after her clients. I have recommended Diane's business to quite a few people without having experienced her services myself. That is the power of Being Your Brand.
A BRAND IS A SET OF VALUES. IT IS A STORY.
A BRAND EVOLVES WITH THE TIMES AND YOU ARE YOUR BRAND.
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Posted in Branding
Infinite scrolling is a web design trend that is making waves in todays website landscape. It is simply the ability of a page to infinitely produce more content so that the user can scroll down the page uninterrupted. No more clicking. If you’re a social media buff or a Pinterest personality you will have come across this tool, perhaps without even noticing.
A technology that has grown from the increasing amount of tablet and smartphone users, infinite scrolling provides an easier way to navigate through websites on all devices. It has even progressed to being used as a complete navigation system in websites dubbed as infinite scrolling websites. It is fabulous for some websites but has suffered some teething problems with others. Though it appears simplistic and sleek, endless scrolling can result in confusion and frustration for users when applied inappropriately to websites.
To start with the positives, infinite scrolling can be a powerful tool that when executed well can expose users to more content and improve their experience. Infinite scrolling is hugely effective on websites that specialise in low engagement content (content that does not require active engagement or encourage interaction). Social media sites benefit hugely from this technology because as a rule, the content is taken at face value and every piece of content has the potential to be interesting to the user, meaning that scrolling through a lot of content is not a problem. It provides a more efficient and intuitive way to navigate through a ton of content that requires little action. When done well, the user experiences a truly responsive website that caters for their needs seamlessly.
However, for other sites that require the user to actively engage in their content, to click a button and interact with it, infinite scrolling can cause problems. The endless amount of content can overwhelm users and decrease the value of each piece of content. This can then inhibit user engagement and take away from what the website has to offer.
Infinite scrolling is seen to take the control away from the user, something that is an instinctive need for humans. With the alternative, a user has a defined amount of pages to search and can pick and choose when they have seen enough. With infinite scrolling, the user has no idea when the content is going to run out, or how relevant it is to them and requires the user to simply continue scrolling. If you leave a website feeling that it wasted your time you are unlikely to have a positive response to it.
This is where we are faced with a problem; how do you balance usability on devices, expose the user to more content, and keep them actively engaged? A good compromise is hybrid technology that relinquishes control to the user, yet allows them to scroll through websites using any device, with ease. To achieve a hybrid website all that is required is to predefine the number of pages before a prompt appears asking the user if they would like to see more content. It’s as simple as that to give back control to the user and maintain a consistent data load on the server.
Whether you choose to make a full-blown infinite scrolling website or a hybrid, there are a few things that can help make this tool more effective.
To ensure that the website is seamlessly infinite, Lazy Load content ahead of the user. However, despite the use of this technology, you can’t help when some users skip ahead faster than the preloaded content. In this situation it is essential to provide the user with a visual cue to tell them more content is loading. This way you can keep the user in the loop, letting them know that the site is still working and deter them from leaving. Although this ‘loading’ cue is necessary, it should hardly ever be seen.
The largest issues with infinite scrolling are down to navigational ease. Problems arise when the user navigates away from the infinite scrolling page. Often they will lose their place and when they return the site bumps the user back to the start. This is extremely annoying and can be enough to turn away users from your site as they are forced to spend time scrolling their way back. To remedy this problem, make sure you keep back button functionality so that the user can redirect themselves to the correct spot with just a click of a button. This is also useful to help the user maintain a sense of perspective and control, two things that are important to achieve in order for the website to be comfortable and intuitive to use. An alternative is to program content to open in a new window when clicked. This option has been the cause of much debate as it is said to take control away from the user, and can also cause discomfort on smaller devices.
Infinite scrolling websites can lose their basic navigation systems all together which makes it very hard for a user to access the different regions of the site. The navigational bar is often lost as the user scrolls down the page, and the footer can never be found because of the constant stream of content being uploaded. Making sure the navigation bar at the top of the website is maintained despite scrolling down the page is wise, the user can then make their way to another part of the website without having to scroll all the way back to the top of the page. Having a footer, and being able to access it, is extremely important as it is there to provide important information about the site. The footer is often the last resort for a user to locate a specific topic. If the user can’t find the footer then they are likely to give up and discontinue using the website. A hybrid website can be the solution to this problem, as the prompt and footer can appear simultaneously, giving the user a chance to utilise it.
Lastly make sure you filter, filter, filter. Program the most relevant content to appear at the top of the page. Then hopefully, the user will be able to recognise when content becomes less relevant and can stop scrolling. This gives them the control over the amount of content they are exposed to. It’s best to try not to waste the users time as it will cause them to avoid using your website in the future.
This trend is growing and with more insights on how to use endless scrolling technology to its best advantage, it can only continue to become more effective. To see some examples of successful infinite scrolling websites, click here.
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Posted in Infinite Scrolling
DON'T BE FOOLED BY ALARMIST CLAIMS ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE!
Current marketing trends you need to be aware of include bulk emails (spam) and cold calls that use scare tactics to prompt investment in arbitrary services. arbitrary - adjective: capricious; unreasonable; unsupported.
Many of our customers are calling us after receiving unreasonable and unsupported claims from agressive cold callers. These claims have sofar included:
- suggestions their website is outdated
- false or unsupported claims that their website is ranking poorly and missing out on traffic
- vague offers of design updates and pressure to undertake SEO campaigns
Due to the nature of these cold calls and spam emails, we believe the companies targeting New Zealand businesses are canvasing the industry, using unscrupulous tactics to panic people into investing in unrequired services.
We are hearing from an increasing number of our clients who have wisely contacted us before agreeing to undertake services from companies using these tactics, such as YellowPages, Fatweb and search engine optimisation companies in India. We welcome the opportunity to disprove these negative claims and reassure you.
A Recent Example...
We were recently contacted by a client who was alarmed after receiving a cold call from Fatweb, who claimed they were missing out on thousands of online searches each month and that they ought to get a new website through them. However, doing a simple google search showed that their site is actually ranking 3rd for their product term. A very good result considering no significant search optimisation has been done.
The claims being made are consistently unfounded. As we receive these types of contacts ourselves on a regular basis, we know that most blanket callers are not even looking at the website first (let alone undertaking a technical invesitigation) to see exactly whom they are in contact with. If they had, they would surely realise we are direct competitors who know our stuff and could easily disprove their claims.
An Invitation To Contact Us For Professional Advice...
If you are concerned about any aspect of your website or search rankings as a result of contact from any of these aggressive cold callers or spammers, we encourage you to contact us before making any hasty decisions.
If required we do offer search engine optimisation at competitive rates. Our SEO services are performed using a measured, targeted campaign, and we will be happy to discuss this service with you.
Contact us using our online form or give us a call today on 0800 30 8996.
- Common Typography Mistakes To Avoid
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Posted in Social Media
Typography may not seem the stuff of rocket science, but don’t be fooled by its seeming simplicity. Essentially, typography is the style, arrangement and appearance of text, and can hold a whole lot of power over the aesthetics and communication prowess of your website.
For those of you that think typography is boring and inconsequential, let me tell you - it can be a very interesting communicative tool! You can follow typography trends, collect typography design boards, and typography can even be the cause of very strong opinion; the ‘comic sans’ typeface is often subject to endless criticism and ongoing debate.
Surely your website should be about the content not how it looks? But if you consider how typography can drastically affect how content is communicated it becomes just as important. You can think of typography as including the nuances of speech; to soothe someone you could speak to them in a quieter tone, and the same effect is created in copy by using a lightweight font or smaller typeface.
Proof of the power of typography can be seen in the John Maeda TED Talk, where he shows a number of ways in which alternate typography for the same content can send different messages to the reader.
Typography contributes to your websites first impression, so here are some things to avoid to ensure you make a great first impression with users:
TYPOGRAPHY WEBSITE FORMATING MISTAKES
Typography is not only how the text looks but also how it is positioned within a website. Some of the most common typography mistakes occur during website formatting.
Leading is the space between two lines of text. The name originates from the strips of lead that secured each row of lettering on typewriters, but nowadays it is more commonly known as line-spacing.
The mistakes with leading occur when there is not enough space between two lines of text, or too much. Not enough space makes the copy seem clumped together and causes the reader to lose their place while reading it. Too much space forces the readers eye to jump down the page at a pace that is uncomfortable.
A nice amount of leading has been calculated to be 140% of the font size. For example for a 20pt font size should have 26-28pt spacing.
- Tracking and Kerning
Tracking is the space between each letter within a word. The higher the tracking value, the larger the space between letters. Kerning, though similar, is the space between two specific letters in particular.
If the tracking is too large or small, words can become illegible. Your best bet is to use the pre-set value as they have been specifically calculated for readability. However, this is where kerning comes into play; some letters naturally have too much space around them and others not enough, so you can use kerning to ensure even spacing throughout your text. An example of these letters is the W which often encroaches on the letter A’s space due to their complimentary angles. To make sure you have the tracking set correctly, you can type VV or AV together, and if you can discern them from a W then tracking is fine.
In some cases you can use smaller tracking to your advantage; when used in headings it can help the text seem heavier and more dominant.
- Line lengths
It is possible to set character limits per line, and this is something that every designer should take advantage of.
A long-line length can make it difficult for a reader to maintain concentration. Like small leading it can cause users to have to re-read the previous line in order to gain understanding of the content. In saying this, short lines can be uncomfortable to read as it forces the eye down the page at pace.
Luckily, the optimal line length has already been calculated. Between 50-75 characters long is deemed comfortable to read. Both newspapers and magazines abide by this rule and they have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t.
- Centering Text
The centered formatting option is the Raggedy Ann of formats. As a rule, never center text unless there is an obvious reason to. The symmetry on either side of the text can be distracting and the uneven edge messy. Avoid it if you can.
Contrast is simply the difference in the colour or the tone of the text and the background that it’s set on.
It may be tempting to create the text in a lighter or darker version of the background colour and this can look extremely slick, however, it is also possible to get this wrong. Too much contrast is jarring, and too little is hard to see.
An easy way to see if your contrast is legible is to look at your work with squinted eyes. This reduces your colour perception and can help you ensure that the text stands out from the background.
- Full stop conventions
In the times of typewriters, the convention was to double space after a full stop. This was to ensure there was enough space between the start of a sentence and the end of the last.
With the word processing systems of today, this is an outdated convention as the technology has already taken this into account.
Double spacing makes the passage of text look disjointed and you will essentially be doing something that has already been done for you. You wouldn’t do the dishes after the dishwasher has already done them would you?
Here are some websites that have been commended on their use of typography; http://www.awwwards.com/websites/typography/
TYPOGRAPHY FONT MISTAKES
Typography font mistakes are easy to rectify using these simple rules.
- Don’t use too many typefaces
The typeface is the style of text, for example ‘Cambria’ or ‘Arial’, and sets the tone for the entire website.
The problem occurs when too many typefaces are used in one site. The brand becomes confusing and there is a lack in cohesion throughout.
It is best to have no more than three typefaces in one piece of work.
- Complimentary fonts
The next step once you have chosen your typeface is to ensure your fonts are complimentary to differentiate points of reference within text. You may be thinking; “What’s the difference between font and typeface?” Font is simply how the typeface appears on the page, whether it is bold, italic, or underlined and what size the characters are.
Choosing complimentary fonts throughout the website creates a seamless navigation from point to point.
Here are the 100 best free fonts: http://www.creativebloq.com/graphic-design-tips/best-free-fonts-for-designers-1233380
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The amount of websites that utilise responsive web design is growing with the increasing amount of devices people can access the web from. We want to tell you all about responsive web design so that your website doesn’t get left behind in the dust of this rapidly adopted web designtrend. With people using laptops, tablets, smartphones and varying sized desktop screens, it is important to ensure that your website responds to the technology it is accessed from. A non-responsive website sticks out like a sore thumb in the quickly evolving web-world.
Responsive web design is simply the ability of a website to change its format to correspond to the device it is accessed from. On a more complicated level the tool can enable web designers to provide different content for different users; for example, by accessing the user location a website can tailor information to them on a geographical basis.
The growth in smart phones means that more often people are using websites on smaller screens and if the website is non-responsive it makes navigation around said website extremely difficult. For example; a traditional fixed width screen can cause a user to have to scroll horizontally to view content that was intended to be seen at first sight. If you can believe it, the current attention span for humans using the web is now less than a goldfish; meaning webpages must be both engaging and easy to use to be effective . A non-responsive, ill-fitting format will cause frustration and repel many users, meaning that the crucial messages websites need to transmit to users are not received.
If you don’t believe us, check out your websites stats on Google analytics; you can find out how many users are accessing your website via their cell phones by selecting the ‘Audience’ option, then ‘Mobile’. The time is now to change your website design as the amount of people accessing the web from different devices is only going to increase in this technology driven world.
The good news is, transforming your website into a responsive design is not as complicated as it sounds! There are two options for implementing responsive web design; creating an adaptive website with multiple fixed width layouts set for common devices, or, using multiple fluid grid layouts to achieve a truly responsive user experience. Most web designers will use fixed width layouts if they want more control over how the website will look on different screen sizes, however, this approach does not respond to change in browser size - a common practice of web-users who want to view multiple browser windows at the same time. Fluid grid layouts work on the basis of proportions rather than pixels and the content changes according to browser size. Web content is given a percentage of the browser or screen to take up; as the size of the viewing window changes the content continues to take up it’s assigned percentage of the browser responding to it’s viewing environment. You can even utilise both concepts with a mixed approach to responsive design; having some fixed width layouts for certain devices and some fluid grid layouts for others.
In implementing responsive design there are a few things to think about. The first is that graphics can cause a website to be slower to load on certain devices, so when designing a web-platform to be accessed from cell-phones or tablets with lower capability, it might be wiser to remove or downsize on images, graphics and advertisements. The popularity of touch screens means that there are now two navigation routes to consider; touch and mouse. What may work well for the click of a mouse could be a nightmare for somebody with not-so dainty digits.
It’s that simple, and with the populations’ increasing reliance on technology and high-speed culture, being able to access the information you need, on the go, is a luxury many aren’t willing to live without. The integration of laptops, tablets and smartphones into everyday life has made Responsive Design a necessity for websites that want universal exposure.
Now you may be thinking all this talk of cell-phone and tablet usage means that you should be thinking about creating an application, and this is indeed something to consider. Our take on this decision is that a responsive website may be the better option in terms of universal compatibility. This is because the application world is fickle; often certain brands will only work with apps from certain platforms. With the iOS and android faceoff going down, to allow both apple and android users access to your app, double the work may be required. Having a responsive website guarantees that all devices that have access to the Internet will be able to use your site. Wonderful! No more taking sides.
While vamping up your website it might be a good idea to consider including some other current web design trends. Long scrolling is the new thing in website navigation; the effort exerted through clicking can sometimes be too much! Websites that take the user on an intuitive narrative journey through scrolling; up, down and side-to-side are sought after and savvy. Where the bold and bright colours may have been hip and eye catching yesterday tomorrows request is light and subtle hues. With so much time spent staring at a screen nowadays it can be nice to find yourself looking at a website that is not an assault on the senses. Lastly to get personality into a website and make meaningful connections add simple animations - you might even make somebody laugh!
Responsive web design is a win-win tool as it means ease of use for users and better communication from website beneficiaries.
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