Three Essential Rules for Online Success 


rules for online success

When working with clients, one thing we notice is that many are focused on site design.  Equally if not more important to consider prior to starting any new site is function and usability.  A nice site design is great, but understanding how your customers interact on your site must be understood first.
 
Typically, the purpose of any website is to prompt a sale (product/service/information).  Understanding how customers navigate through that process is essential.  
 
Here are three essential rules that will help you to think through the process:

  1. Make it Easy.  Confusing navigation is a deal killer. Make it easy for customers to find the products or services they are looking for.  Think about the multiple ways someone will look for something.   Create an outline and test it.  Make sure it’s easy to navigate to everything on your site.  In thinking about your navigation headings,  don't say (for example) "pumps" when you really mean "shoes".  Think through the hierarchy of the selection.  
  2. Make it Obvious.  Don’t hide the customer service essentials, such as links to shopping carts, phone numbers or other relevant contact information.  The easier it is to find, the more it will be used.  Put timely information up front.   
  3. Make it Relevant.  It’s a drag to go back to a site that’s not updated on a regular basis.  Ask yourself what makes you keep coming back to a site over and over?  Relevant and timely information.  That takes work and time.  If you don’t have it, find someone to help, it’s that important.  Check for broken links and invalid pages.  Simply adding a blog feed will help to provide consistent, timely info to your home page.  Update home page articles regularly, especially if you're retail.

Finally, once you have your site set up and running, give it some time and then go back and study how users are interacting.  Are they getting stuck and leaving pages?  How are they navigating to your products or services?  Can you make this quicker for them?  Is the information on that page relevant to what they are searching for (does the page have a high bounce rate)?  If not, it's time to revise the copy on the page and then measure again.  Yep, it's the old "wash, rinse, repeat" cycle again.

This time, you'll be able to see your improvement, because you know what you're measuring.

Keeping these three guidelines in mind when creating and managing your site will save you time and also help to gain sales. 

 

View User Profile for
Posted by Thursday, November 20, 2014 9:08:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C marketing tips online marketing sales SMB web trends

How to Counteract Banner Blindness 

banner blindness

Over time, we’ve developed a complete ignorance towards website banners. So ignorant are we, that when studying banners through the use of eye tracking software, this study found that users blocked out the banners entirely. So if our filters are so sophisticated, how do we combat banner blindness and get our messages into the mind of our users?

Why Did We Use Banners?
Banners were the first form of advertising online and were born through developers and brands aiming to monetize the then new-fangled platform of the internet. However, the inbound nature of the internet is at odds with the outbound character of the banner ad. As the internet has developed, as has our knowledge of what to expect online, as well as our defensive filters designed to steer us clear of threats or, in the case of the internet, irrelevance. 

We have the same subconscious ignorance when it comes to the typical homepage carousel. This was proven by a study reported on Business Insider, which found that users don’t pay too much attention carousels, as they’re perceived as intrusive or ads.  With carousels, lots of competing messages in the same place, usually the home page, leads to focus being lost.

Why Do We Still Use Banners?
Perhaps there’s an element of complacency, as website owners continue doing what they’ve always done in maintaining the status quo. Alternatively, maybe brands continue to believe that banners work. Maybe they’re content with receiving the advertising revenue from their banners. Whatever the case, it doesn’t change the fact that banners still plague our screens and still have the impact of using a toffee hammer to break down a fire door. 

But what should you do instead?
The alternatives to banners will depend on the reasoning behind the inclusion of banners in the first place. 

If you use banners for advertising and revenue generating, there a more effective ways of generating income via your website. For example, you could:

  • Write product reviews 
  • Include ads in the body of your pages as opposed to in the header or side bar 
  • Affiliate schemes, including links to sponsored websites
  • Guest blogging 

If you use banners and carousels for your own benefit; to promote new products, highlight company news and developments or cross-sell services, then instead of using banners, you should consider these two significant things:

  • Timing. A banner is a generic shout at every website visitor. A catchall bellow will always fail to attract the attention of users with specific needs. Your first objective should be to serve your customer with what they came to your site for. Then, once you’ve met their needs, you can show them what would have otherwise been in the banner. Include this information on after sales confirmation pages, your form thank you pages or even underneath product descriptions or blog posts.
  • Placement. People tend to ignore the right-hand side of the page, as they’re aware that, on most websites, this area contains ads. So you need to position your offering in a place where the user is going to focus. Within the content itself could prove profitable and, in particular, at the foot of the page. Not as many people will see something hidden at the foot of the page, but for those that do make it down there, they’re searching for something else to do, a next place to go. As a result, attention tends to increase at the foot of web pages, which will give your offering more chance of being noticed and clicked.

As with most things regarding web design, it’s all about testing and iteratively improving. Try the above and see if it works for you. 

We certainly can’t reverse banner blindness, but our job as designers and marketers is to find alternative ways to make things work for both our customers and our business. Increasingly, we’re finding that banners aren’t the best way to do this these days.

Do you use banners or carousels? Do they work for you? It would be great to get your feedback in the comments below.

 

View User Profile for
Posted by Thursday, October 30, 2014 3:56:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C marketing tips online marketing web trends

The New Twitter Audio Experience: What It Means For Your Marketing 

The Twitter Audio Card

Twitter announced the launch of a "new audio experience" last week, which seeks to integrate audio into the Android and iOS app more naturally. Musicians will see the obvious advantages initially, but there are marketing opportunities for a wider range of businesses on the horizon. 

The Twitter Audio Card

The introduction of the Twitter Audio Card lets users listen to music directly through the Twitter app on both Android and iOS. Significantly, users can run the audio straight from their timeline, and then dock the Audio Card in order to continue listening whilst browsing the app. So you can now listen to your favourite artist’s new releases as and when they’re released through Twitter, courtesy of Spotify. 

The Future: Downloading Music?
Perhaps more exciting, is the future possibilities that Twitter can realise with this. After having recently introduced the facility to download apps straight from within the app, this audio integration may be the first step towards allowing users to download music in the same way. The technology is certainly there already. Imagine: 

  • David Guetta releases his new single and posts it on Twitter
  • You see it on your timeline and listen to it, docking it in the app and continuing your surfing through hash tags
  • The song is so epic that you can download it with the tap of an icon

Now imagine the possibilities outside of music for the likes of:

  • Podcasts, 
  • Audio books, 
  • Speeches, 
  • Presentations, 
  • Radio plays, 
  • Even recorded blog readings or poetry 

This could all help turn Twitter into an audio-centric marketing powerhouse. 

Potential for Marketers
The opportunity for brands within that environment is vast, especially if we can monitor exactly who is listening to what and for how long. Of course, Twitter could easily charge for analytical insights like this, or skim some commission off the top of sold items. Either way, everyone’s a winner, as a new marketplace is born.

Possible Video Integration?
It doesn’t stop there, either. Twitter could introduce the same docking method for video, similar to the YouTube iOS app. The video loads in the main window and, should the user wish to continue browsing or make a new search, they can minimise the video. The video still plays, only it’s docked in the bottom-right of the screen, out of the way, but still in view. 

This would provide opportunities for brands to provide content in a unique and engaging way, without being too intrusive. Plus, there could be some advertising potential here for Twitter. Imagine being able to pay Twitter to play a 10 second clip in the corner of your target market’s timeline. Although, that may prove a little too intrusive.

Worth Taking a Risk
Either way, Twitter is certainly feeding people’s urges for multitasking and is trying all it can to keep people using its services for longer. The results of which remain to be seen, but it’s worth taking a shot at something with potential for those brands out there that can craft compelling audio.

 

View User Profile for
Posted by Thursday, October 30, 2014 3:46:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C online marketing SMB social media social media marketing web trends

The Missing Link in Mobile Payments 

missing links in mobile payments

There are so many companies vying for space on the mobile payment court that, even at this early stage, the market is shaping up like a tin of sardines. Tech companies, social media services, payment providers, banks and retailers are battling to claim an early slice of the still-baking pie. However, even with this level of competition, there’s still one industry keeping quiet. And it may hold the ticket to mobile payments arriving in the mainstream.

Who Are the Major Players?
Paypal is set to split with eBay to concentrate on its own business, with offline and in store mobile payments being a big part of its future plans. Although PayPal is rivaling Amazon and Square from a B2B payment handling perspective, it’s also playing a role on the consumer side in encouraging shoppers to pay in store, on mobile, via PayPal.

Phone Manufacturers 
Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with Apple Pay, which uses near field communication (NFC), coupled with its fingerprint scanning technology to trigger payments from credit card information stored in Passbook. NFC has featured on Android phones for some time, but it’s Apple’s knack for making things work that has the industry predicting its success.

Rivalling Apple Pay is Google Wallet, which also uses NFC, but has only been adopted by the small group of tech enthusiasts so far. However, the same can be said for all other mobile payment options, given the market’s infancy. 

Social Networks
Twitter announced this week that it has teamed up with the largest bank in France, Group BPCE, to launch mobile payment platform, S-Money. This trial will test the waters and, if all goes swimmingly, S-Money could cause a major upset to the likes of PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay, given the vast user base of Twitter.

Joining the party, Facebook recently leaked photos of alleged mobile payment-enabled code that’s sparked rumors of its messaging app having the capability to transfer money.  

Payment Processors
Mastercard’s MasterPass and Visa’s Checkout are digital representations of customer credit cards and see the two payment middle-manning heavyweights also foray into the mobile payment space. 

Banks
There are also rumors of the banks introducing mobile payments via their apps, so that you could pay straight from your bank, direct to the retailer. This will bypass third party services such as PayPal or Apple Pay and potentially provide the most convenient, secure and trusted payment service on offer. 

The Missing Link
Each of the above companies has the potential to dominate the mobile payment market. But, there’s one industry that could disrupt this and it hasn’t yet reared its head.

Network Providers
I’m sure we’ve all used SMS messaging to donate to charities. You text an amount to a number and the cost is added to your cell phone bill at the end of the month. This is perhaps the most convenient method of payments for users and doesn’t require any other account or registration with a third party payment operator. 

What if you could pay in-store for high-ticket items in the same manner? Just text the retailer with the item number and the amount is added onto your phone bill.

The potential is certainly there for cell phone networks to overtake third party payment providers while the night is still young. After all, network operators already have a captive market, secured into contracts, with people that trust them and are familiar with the payment process.

Standardizing Payments
The difficulty in standardizing mobile payments will be immense and the competition inevitably strong. There won’t be room for everyone and we’ll likely see some fall by the wayside. As with any emerging industry, getting first to market may prove to be imperative. But one thing is for sure, cell phone operators could cause a major upset to these first movers, if they get a move on themselves.

Will mobile payments help your business? We’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Thursday, October 23, 2014 5:08:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C ecommerce online marketing web trends website security

Three Social Networks That Could Disrupt The Establishment 


social networks that could disrupt the establishment

Every so often, rumors spread around the internet of the latest big thing. The next big app, the next big website, the next big social network. Most of the time, the hype is exactly that - hype. However, there are certain forces at play in today’s mobile-first world that have forged a gap in between the social media landscape. The result is the introduction of a number of new social networks that intend to exploit these frailties. 

So what are they? And how might the lift off of these new additions create opportunities for your business? 

Yik Yak 
The first of the bunch is Yik Yak, the social network that lets you see anonymous updates from people within 10 miles of your current GPS location. This is particularly relevant for sporting events and could break into the restaurant and retail space in a similar fashion to Yelp or FourSquare.

People only care about what’s relevant to them and the people in their immediate vicinity are just that. You can use the app to discuss the game or concert you’re at, let people know about road closures and local issues, get information on local events and it won’t be long before searching for reviews of local businesses and restaurants is featuring on there, too.

If you have a physical store, this could be a great opportunity to engage with those around you. Those that are in town right now. The mixture of immediacy and locality make this app one to watch for businesses in the future and could take location-based services to the next level.

Ello 
As an exclusive, invitation only network that doesn’t include any advertising, Ello is directly competing with Facebook and Twitter and it stands a good chance of luring users. With 45,000 people signing up per hour, Ello is attracting those who are put off or tired of the intrusive, ad-ridden networks of present.

Users are increasingly put-off by privacy breaches and ads. Facebook pushes its luck daily with advertising and new features that often annoy users, who are slowly leaving and looking for alternatives.

Ello presents an opportunity for brands to get back to basics and focus on what’s important. Making a connection and engaging with people. If your brand genuinely cares and has something to offer that’s more than selling your products, this might be the place for you, if you can get an invite.

Snapchat
From its beginnings as a messaging app that was primarily abused and taken out of context by users sending sexual messages to each other, Snapchat has now morphed into a video sharing network rooted in the here and now. Your videos only last 24 hours so it’s much more about immediacy than longevity and is rivalling YouTube in the mobile space.

The younger generation are all over Snapchat like flies around trash cans. They’re leaving Facebook in their droves and Snapchat is where they’re at.

For those brands that rely on telling stories and engaging or entertaining potential customers, you could find joy on Snapchat, especially if you’re targeting the under 25s.

Built to Last?
Out of all of the above networks, if we had to pick one that is likely to go the distance, it would be Snapchat. It’s fairly established, has a large user-base and has adapted to mobile video exceptionally. However, there’s gains to be made from being first to market on Yik Yak and Ello, especially given the relative complacency of the larger networks.

The bigger networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are beginning to show signs of hair line cracks with certain groups of users. If your brand targets those who are relative early adopters or younger, your social media strategy is likely going to need a revision and one of these three networks would be a good place to start with the change.

 

View User Profile for
Posted by Tuesday, October 21, 2014 6:25:00 PM Categories: B2B online marketing SMB social media web trends website
Page 2 of 5 << < 1 2 3 4 5 > >>