Archive for category basic web design

Best Ways to Differentiate Yourself Online

individualityDifferentiating yourself from others inspires confidence in those around you.  It shows that you are comfortable trying new things and incorporating what is unique and distinctively valuable instead of relying on established and often dated perceptions. This personal sense of self carries over to relationships we create and business concepts we generate. The thing that motivates us to take pride in our moral compass and exclusive talents can be what makes our business stand out from the rest.

Deconstruct Your Mental Process

Your business is built by you and contains your personalized fingerprint. Examine your original thought process for beginning your company to find the basis for why you felt your business would be better than your competitors. Don’t underestimate your ideas because they are usually better than you realize and only you can adequately explain why. This means that only you can clarify what sets your product or service apart from the rest. You are not just selling this concept; you are representing an idea or situation that your audience will want to gravitate toward.

Practice Empathy

When you are focusing on the customer solution, step into their shoes and show them that it’s not just your materials and features that will improve their lives, but your vision of how a company should operate and appreciate its customers. There are plenty of products and services out there, but you’ll treat them with respect and make it a fun experience. They will choose your environment.

The Right Combination of Push and Pull

Customers often ready themselves to make purchases by having a set of expectations based on past experience. Take them in a less predictable direction by highlighting the emotional investment, value of accessible information, a simple process, and a new way of thinking. Let them come to you when they have finished evaluating your offer and determined a need. If they believe in you and your process, they will return prepared to purchase and share their discovery with others.

Know What Works

Your online presence should reflect your thinking with the latest tools and strategies that make you searchable across several platforms and devices with updated ideas and fresh presentations. Don’t exaggerate what your company offers; keep it simple and honest. You know you have great content if it gets their attention in 30 seconds, makes them want to sign up for a free offer, engage with comments, or download free webinars. Monitor reactions and note best times of day for responses, the demographics being used, and the trends that led you to your targeted audience. Be approachable and consistently available to solve the consumer’s problem. social media tools

Advice

Remember that your competition is no longer local. Online industries are worldwide. Know your goals, messages, and advantages that separate you from others and result in a lifestyle improvement and better customer relationships. Remove any clutter from your websites and social sites so you are easy to identify and find when visitors need you. Embrace technology and change, bolstering positive reactions and flexibility to stay sharp. Creativity within your niche is paramount. Hire an agency to work with you if that is what it takes to get you there.

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Landing Pages and Microsites

landing pages, micrositesLanding pages and microsites steer consumers to information regarding your business and opportunities to take action.  You need to know what your goal is in order to develop a path that leads your visitors to the specific material they need. Knowing the difference between landing pages and microsites can help you target the right visitors and guide them to the appropriate advertising campaigns.

What are Landing Pages?

Landing pages are connected from a social media post or an email capture page and filter out the rest of the website in order to reinforce a specific campaign message. They get your visitor to react with a particular action, to download, sign up, or make a purchase.

  • They are very direct; eliminating opportunities for distraction, while optimizing all aspects from headlines, text, button colors, and placement.

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  • Their goal is maintaining consistency of brand and design to the main website. It is easy to test other versions of landing pages because they have few elements involved and there is a distinct gauge to find which one is working.

However, if viewed at the wrong buying stage, you might risk losing that viewer’s engagement. Also, the simplicity that makes the design consistent can also restrict content and tone.

What are Microsites?

Microsites are not a summarized version of your website. They are small sites with a few pages built around a focused message and a variety of content serving one exact area of your business. The microsite can be dedicated to an academic program, a special offer, or another campaign.

  • They are less driven for immediate action and more toward comprehensive exploration of a product or service without navigating the bulk of your website.

 

  • Their goal is creative and flexible design and content structure, further occasions to engage, and testing new ideas before going site-wide.

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However, they require very specific content and can weaken brand identity, have a vague call to action, and pose challenges involving administration of that particular site.

How to Use Them

Many people aren’t making near the progress they could by being unaware that a major goal for online marketing is taking the consumer to a specific page of your website with a single purpose. A dedicated email signup page is a great example. Landing pages get the consumer decision right away, and microsites give customers reasons to keep coming back to get to know your brand and decide if they see value and relevance for what you’re offering.

 

Advice to Business Owners

Technology can force your hand on whether to use microsites or landing pages.  Your content management system may not be able to integrate third-party forms and it’s easier to create pages. Consider the cost of creating dedicated content and hiring an agency to build a microsite. It can be overwhelming to do one on your own. Your content management system should allow you to share all content materials across microsites even if the design and content are altered.

References

Kilfeather, K., 2013. Landing Pages or Microsites? The Debate Rages On. https://www.percussion.com/blog/2013/December/landing-pages-or-microsites-the-debate-rages-on

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Visual Storytelling with New Video and Display Technology

multi mediaVisual storytelling depends on talented use of graphic designs, photos, infographics, and video. While great content is extremely significant, adding something visual enhances it, making it more aesthetically pleasing and meaningful to your viewers. It needs to catch the consumers’ interest and make a quick, positive impression in a micro-moment. We use YouTube for tutorials, Facebook Video for breaking news, and Instagram and Periscope for behind-the-scenes clips and events starring our favorite brands.  Video consumption is increasing rapidly across all devices for its ability to tell stories to create brand awareness.
What is It?

Your business website and social media platforms are likely using a combination of images, designs, and video to communicate with customers but you need to expand its potential. Studies have confirmed that posts with pictures get more likes and shares. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter all use visual content along with great headlines to draw more people. A website should show your sense of style. If you’re not able to tweak it yourself, have someone help you to optimize your site with your specific audience in mind. It’s all about creating your brand story through quick splashes of expression with visual intrigue. New technology is about to make video a better, more interactive, marketing venue.

Who Needs It?

All types and sizes of businesses will be able to grow the use of video in the next few years with technology that has better quality and quantity of display. Its use is expected to rise quickly over the next 5 years altering the way we take this information in and relate with it. 80% of the world’s Internet traffic is predicted to entertain, promote, and inform us with video content by 2019.

 

Bigger businesses have already begun researching new platforms and interconnect options as well as industry standards for digital display technology. Video is allowing customers to relate to large corporations through the character of the company instead of a faceless brand. Businesses with larger audiences have many websites with several landing pages, and microsites. Video and display experts have more tools and flexibility to create visuals for numerous applications, platforms, and markets.

 

technology ideasAdvice for business owners

Investing in video content, marketing, and advertising should be at the very top of every brand’s digital marketing strategy. Be aware that video is not after the immediate response, but engagement and branding through customer testimonials and inspiring passionate connections between consumers and brands.

Create interactive videos and let customers decide what part of your advertisement relates specifically to them, rather than controlling the experience.  Empowered customers will stay engaged and interested.

Create customer testimonial videos. Let customers get behind the camera and talk about your brand giving them a chance to have their voice heard and a sense that their opinions count.

References

Grayson, S., 2014. What You Need to Know About the State of Online Video Display Advertising, http://www.b2bnn.com/2014/11/need-know-state-online-video-display-advertising/

Source: Video Marketing Strategy: 17 Tips to Win Video in 2015 http://www.reelseo.com/resources/video-marketing-strategy-guide/#ixzz3uKvQIz6l

Source: Spincreativegroup.com, 2015. http://spincreativegroup.com/building-consumer-trust-through-video-marketing-by-spin-creative-a-creative-agency-video-production-company-seattle-san-francisco/

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The Shift to Mobile Devices and Design

LinkedIn_background_04We are all familiar with the difference between using a desktop and a mobile device. Both display digital media on the internet, enabling us to view email, interact with social media, search for websites, listen to the radio, and watch television. As Wi-Fi became more accessible in public and more compact laptops, tablets, and smartphones made access to the internet more portable; we began using these devices throughout the day and from many locations. Smaller devices have increased the need for scalable design. What works great on a 17” screen with a keyboard or mouse, loses effectiveness on an often smaller, touchscreen device.

Size Matters

Design needs to work within a defined space by being easily navigated through swipes, pinches, zooms, and clicks. This intimately touchable area may only be 4” and needs to react to brief and deliberate fingertip contact to grab viewers’ emotions and awareness in a minuscule time frame. If a touchscreen requires multiple attempts to change pages or views, the visitor is frustrated and moves on to a more friendly design. The correct reaction slows the consumer down to focus on getting to know your site better. Mobile design is like a series of blind dates and the one with the best first impression wins every time.  speedox.computer.cellphoneimage.

What are Micro-Moments?

In the last few years, the sheer volume of online content has caused consumers to resort to scanning the bulk of this media looking for something to almost leap off the page and grab their attention. A new term has been coined in the industry to describe the intense moment of sudden interest: Micro-moments. These tiny moments of time are almost a subconscious reflex reaction. They are happening most often throughout the day on convenient, handheld smartphones. Customers are searching the web while standing in line at the store, stuck in traffic, or walking the dog. Their attention is already divided and you have to reach out and snag it.

How to Master the Moments

What are the ingredients to the perfect micro-moment? You have about one minute to get it right. Know your users intent and be in the right place at the most opportune time.  This requires an extremely focused campaign, PPC advertising, and paid social media posts to find your target audience. Then you’ll need the perfect image, call to action, and placement on the page. Continue to test and review results because they are ever evolving. When it comes to video, micro-moments can last as long as four minutes. Your goal is to connect in the briefest time possible but still evoke that emotional reflexive response.

Advice to Business Owners

It is important to have a team, whether internal or external, with a plan to test and monitor results to optimize your websites, user experience, and ads. If not, you risk losing traffic and customers. Always be up to date on your business, marketing, mobile design and technology.     speed image

References

Solis, B., 2015. The New Moment of Truth: Google’s Micro-Moments Reshape the Marketing Funnel, Best Practices: 10 Ways Marketers Can Compete for Micro-Moments

http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/practices-cmos-advantage-micro-moments/298855/

Scheimer, M. 2015. Marketing, social media, and startups on a budget, digital marketing 2016: Five Areas of Focus, http://www.myfrugalbusiness.com/2015/11/digital-marketing-2016-mike-schiemer.html

Think with Google, 2015. An Introduction to Micro-Moments: What We’ve Learned, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/collections/micromoments.html

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Social Media is More Than a Facebook Page

Social MediaSocial Media involves many different sites, individually or connected to each other through links (share buttons) that increase visibility when marketing. What began as a way of personal networking between friends and family are more often being used for business marketing. Each site has special tools for sharing your presence and interacting through conversations and images.

What is it?

Consumers won’t always follow a brand on social media, but they still want to be able to connect when they are ready. Social Media offers a point of contact by making your content constantly available and visible. It is important to find the right platform for your business, give your consumers a reliable place to find you, and create purpose driven posts. Some sites will be more compatible with your specific business goals.

  • Facebook allows companies and consumers to interact by liking a page or post.
  • Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting with brands.
  • Pinterest and YouTube work best for getting information.

How to Use it

Create content that inspires curiosity. Take the time to consider the perfect title to hook your audience and make sure it is relevant to the information that follows. Small paragraphs should contain a sentence that helps transition to the next. Incorporate social share buttons, not only for the convenience of your visitors but also to significantly increase the visibility of your content. If you manage to get some readers, then your content is good and that means some of them will be willing to share your content. They are only going to share if it is easily done in one or two clicks. Don’t make them copy and paste.

Why We Use it  

The purpose of Social Media has become a search for information and entertainment, not promotional pitches. What you really need to do is keep up the conversation with a constant stream of valid and stimulating content. You should be capturing email addresses for future customers by offering free useful tips, relevant downloads, or thought-provoking newsletters. Although your sales may start with activity on social media, the actual sale may not take place there.

Advice for Businesses Ownersanalytics

When introducing your message into social media, use the tools provided as part of the toolset but remember to use the complete function of the platform to get as much out of it as possible. Learn the potential of one platform entirely before adding new ones. A single optimized platform is better than several working at half their potential.

Be the company that monitors your social media complaints successfully. Ignoring them is easy to do, but the backlash from it can create a lasting impact. Protect your reputation by responding and resolving any customer service issues quickly.

References

Constable, K., 2015. 5 Ways for Online Entrepreneurs to Stand Out, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241938

Source: Thesocialms.com. 2015. http://blog.thesocialms.com/difference-content-marketing-social-media-marketing-seo/

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Developing Content for Marketing: Where to Start

I was recently sitting with a client over coffee and we discussed his line of work, his goals, and his current marketing efforts. As a content writer, I have to be aware of what connects my text with the rest of the aspects of the marketing process. This is not the first time this particular client had to deal with marketing, but it seemed to be the first time he’d marketed himself instead of the business. Depending on how long you’ve been in your industry, marketing was always about the business’ products and services and not who you are and how you feel you can help your neighbor.

Things I ask a potential client:

  • How comfortable are they with technology in general
  • How many websites or social platforms do they maintain
  • Which do they like best and why Business Woman ID 137478 Dnadigital Dreamstime

I find quite a few have hired someone to build a website, linking it to other social media pages, and then took the reins over thinking the cost of having the site hosted and content generated was more than they were willing to spend. The result is a website that primarily sits stagnant, spotty content, and rarely used social sites. Many simply don’t know where to start.

My consultation is designed to determine the following:

  • Topics for material and how to best schedule the publishing and posts
  • Finding customer issues in their industry to write an article on how to fix it, optimize the solution, expand on it, and make it a unique experience for each person.

This initial point of discovery is the price of a cup of coffee for an hour preview of what it will be like to work with a freelance writer like myself.

If you fall into the category of not knowing where to take that first step in today’s content marketing world, don’t stress. We’ve all been there and it is not rocket science despite what some experts might have you believe. It can be extremely involved for large businesses and corporations, but the average entrepreneur, small business, start-up, or older local business in need of transition in technology, can get this done rather quickly and inexpensively.

Content writing is a part of marketing and branding yourself in order to give your business a personality. With so many other businesses competing for attention through content online, the only true distinctive qualities your business has over others are your own thoughts, morals, and values on how you represent your significance as an individual business owner. LinkedIn_background_07

Start By Getting Creative

  • Find your original reasons for starting your business because within that are the ways you can empathize with your audience
  • Get answers to specific consumer questions
  • Arm readers with valuable information in an entertaining way to build trust and loyal customers

Your audience will like, comment, and share your website and media pages, doing a big part of the marketing for you just because they like you and know where to find you. Isn’t that how you would like to do business? In this age of technology, your website and social media are ways to insert yourself in between your potential client and his hand held phone at any given point in the day. Embrace it!

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Evolution of the Internet and Web Design

Whether you were here long before the birth of the internet or after, you either can’t believe how far we’ve come, or just really glad you missed the dark ages.

Whatever group you are a part of, take a look at the short progression of digital technology as we know it. Let’s start with the term “Internet” describing a global network of smaller networks that is publicly available and organizationally ungoverned. It is the source of the World Wide Web (www.), email, person to person (P2P) applications, Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), and hundreds of other uses. The digital information used in each of these situations is nearly identical, but each case receives special handling of the data in regard to its reliability, speed, redundancy, and error adjustment. The success of the Internet is based on its flexibility in providing a platform for the different protocols and their distinct needs and uses. None of it existed prior to 1969.

The US Defense Department ARPAnet was the first to bring it online, but it involved common circuit-switching hard-wired between two computers. In 1983, the US National Science Foundation created the first network of computers using TCP/IP protocol. In 1985, domain names were introduced, and by 1991, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web and invited the public’s interest.

It took some time for the general public to understand what it was and what benefits there were to using it. Larger corporations were, of course, the first to spend the time and money in programmers to convey the potential. We see individual users attempting general searches and using email accounts on slow dial-up connections.

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It wasn’t long before faster connections became available and then the high-speed broadband connection. The average citizen finally realizes they are able to build their own websites for global viewing. The first sites were only text based using first generation HTML, but it soon incorporated simple images.  By the late 90s, some text effects were added to roll and move text across the screen with elements like Flash. Colors, scroll bars, and hit counters entered the scene.

By 2000, having a website presence was a major deal for a company’s image. Designers were needed to come up with cool new things. Music was being played, color changing text, table-based features, and new helpful page builders with multiple columns and sections for adding more than just lines of text. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allowed changes to background color, text size, and style. The code would transfer to each page within the site.

Javascript was an important element from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s for things like drop-down menus, better navigation, and web forms. It added versatility to content description in Extensive Markup Language (XML). The presentation of the content using HTML was getting more and more refined.

We are already discovering the use of HTML5 to replace both Flash and Javascript and looking to responsive web design (ready for mobile use), parallax (being able to see things from different angles and positions), and more basic flat design (removing extra effects in a scheme that create realism or flamboyant designs).

With cellular phones having web browsers and modem interfaces, they can carry their own Internet access too. Between the use of tablets and phones, mobile design is now paramount in website construction along with the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The right keywords, tags, and descriptions bring people to you and your website, quickly and easily, no matter where they are and what device they are using.

Most of us use our phone, tablets, and computers for everything from entertainment, shopping, finances, and staying connected with friends and family. Having to return to a world without the internet is something that would be incredibly difficult to do. It has made our lives easier, simpler, and faster, and it continues to evolve at a phenomenal pace.

Can you imagine the world without the internet now? Leave comments here or on my LinkedIn post Click Here.

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