What Is Internet Marketing? The Most Significant Insight You’ll Ever Learn 

In this video, the godfather of web design, Jeffrey Zeldman, talks about how he first got into the field back when websites looked like this:


internet marketing

It’s well worth taking the time to watch it, whether you’re a web designer, digital marketer, small business owner, even a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Everyone that has any involvement in internet marketing whatsoever will learn something significant that could change the way you view the world wide web forever.

Around 12 minutes into the video, Zeldman makes a comment that exposes a truly organic outlook on what the internet is and what websites are. It’s a fundamental principle that web designers, developers and digital marketers across the globe should have tattooed across their foreheads, stitched into the inside of their jackets and etched onto their fridges. Go watch it and see if you notice it. I’ll wait here.

Did you find it? Just in case, I’ll tell you what I’m getting at: 

When referring to websites and web designers back in 1995 and comparing their philosophy to his, Zeldman said:

“Nobody was thinking of the web as an exciting presentation medium.”

That insight is so striking, it’s worth reiterating. Zeldman saw (and hopefully still sees) the internet as an exciting presentation medium. How many businesses out there today see their website as an exciting way to present?

As the internet becomes more accessible through the likes of DIY website builders2 and user-friendly platforms like Wordpress, Tumblr and Blogger, are we foregoing creativity for the sake of pulling more people online?

It would certainly appear so, given the amount of similar websites out there. More or less every website seems to follow the same template: logo in the top-left corner, menu across the top, side bar to the right or left (or both) and content in the middle or left aligned. 

There was a fantastic talk on this (among other things), given by Matthew Butterick, called ‘Bomb in the Garden’. You can read the transcript here (and you should). Butterick highlights an absolute abundance of websites; big companies like magazines and newspapers and TV channels, that all have, not just terrible websites, but extremely similar websites! Here’s just a few examples of some of them: 


internet_marketing_sample

internet_marketing_sample2

[Images borrowed from Unitscale]

It’s not just the ‘classic’ style that’s similar, even the more contemporary ‘flat design’ leaves us with with the same issue:

internet_marketing
[Image source]  

Believe it or not, the two above examples are two entirely independent websites created by two entirely independent companies. 

So what’s happening? Are we neglecting exciting presentation in favor of convenience? Are we foregoing creativity for the sake of playing it safe or giving people what we think they want?

At Fast Track, we’ll build anything you design, so break out of the shackles, refrain from designing for your client or browsers and focus on nothing else but your users. Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about how we can break the mold.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014 3:58:00 PM Categories: B2B content development inbound marketing online marketing SMB web trends

Six Tips for More Effective Video Marketing 

video marketing tips

Online videos are proven to aid customer purchasing decisions1 and are becoming the cornerstones of many brand’s digital strategy. Typically, 80% of viewers remember the video they’ve watched2 and 45% take some kind of action, such as visiting the brand’s website or searching for more information1. So we’ve put together a number of tips to help you use video marketing to boost your sales and increase you leads.

1. It’s not about going viral

Viral videos fail to address your specific target market’s unique needs and problems.

While viral videos may well raise awareness in some cases, if you’re looking to increase leads and sales, chances are you have a specific target market with specific needs and problems. By aiming to go viral, you’ll wind up creating light and generic video that fails to convert users or inspire behavior. In doing so, you’ll forfeit the opportunity to speak directly to your target market about how you can meet their needs or solve their problems.

2. Make every second count

You’ve got to make the first 10 seconds of your video as engaging as a hypnotist's pocket watch.

As with anything else online: when a users load a webpage, opens an email or sees an ad, their first impression is made in a split second. Therefore, online, you don’t have long to encourage the user to hang around. Video marketing is no different, with the first 10 seconds proving critical in keeping viewers tuned in. Plus, with an average of 60% of viewers deserting before the two-minute mark1, you’ve got to make the rest of the video just as captivating. 

3. Make it interactive

For complex subjects or in depth product tutorials, use tools that allow users to interact with video content.

Software such as Touchcast3 lets you embed images, web pages, maps, social media newsfeeds and hyperlinks4 into the your video. Viewers can then interact with content without having to leave the video. Software such as this is great for explaining complicated subjects and demonstrating specific features of products and services and is being used by teachers to better explain things to students4. So, why not use it to better explain your offer to potential customers?

4. Include visuals to enhance mobile usability

Many mobile users watch videos without sound, so make sure you include enough visuals so that your video can be understood on mute.

Mobile and tablet users are three times more likely to watch online videos than their laptop and desktop counterparts5, so optimizing your videos for mobile consumption is imperative. On mobile, a lot of people have their device on silent or watch videos in public spaces without sound enabled. Therefore, your video has to be fully understood on mute.

5. Pick the right host

YouTube vs Vimeo

Where to host your video is entirely dependent on the objectives behind its creation. However, the most important factor in choosing a host is that it’s reliable6.

YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world7 and has billions of visits per month8. It’s therefore the best place to host videos that you intend to reach a wide audience with. However, it’s not the only online video host to choose from.

A strong rival to YouTube is Vimeo. Vimeo only allows videos that are 100% created by the user, so you tend to find more creative videos there. Therefore, if you’re using animation or putting together something quite creative, Vimeo is for you.

6. Use natural social platforms

Uploading your videos onto social platforms directly ensure it plays seamlessly from the newsfeed.

Rather than share your YouTube or Vimeo link across your social networks, upload your video to your chosen social platform directly. Although this means that you’ll have duplicated content, and have to rack up the viewership across each platform, you will vastly enhance the user experience through ensuring that videos play seamlessly on each network.

Through following the above guidance, you’ll soon be making captivating videos for your specific target market that are geared for conversions.

References

1 http://www.videobrewery.com/blog/18-video-marketing-statistics

2 http://www.digitalsherpa.com/blog/25-amazing-video-marketing-statistics/

3 http://www.touchcast.com

4 http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/04/touchcast-pcs/

5 http://www.virtuets.com/45-video-marketing-statistics/

6 http://www.socialnomics.net/2013/12/03/video-marketing-the-basics/

7 http://www.socialmediafrontiers.com/2013/10/video-sharing-sites-vimeo-vs-youtube-vs.html#.VA0820voYy4

8 http://blog.qstion.com/youtube/vimeo-vs-youtube-vs-dailymotion-pros-and-cons-of-each-one

Monday, September 15, 2014 3:47:00 PM Categories: content development inbound marketing social media marketing

The Future of Facebook Marketing For Your Business 

future of facebook marketing for business

There may well be over a billion active monthly users on Facebook1, but the social networking giant is going through a phase of change that’ll affect how businesses conduct their social media marketing efforts on the platform in the future.

What’s Changed?

No longer is Facebook a parent-free haven for raving teens and 20-somethings. It’s no longer a place where the young go to hang out, have fun, get drunk and share embarrassing photos. Nope, Facebook has matured and is now brimming with these teen’s, moms and dads, and even grandparents.

We all know that kids enjoy hanging around with their parents as much as an insomniac enjoys the sight of the clock striking 3 a.m., and having your outraged mother commenting on your picture of a phallus-shaped turnip with a “stop being so rude and take this off!”, doesn’t do much for your street cred. So the teens and 20-somethings are heading to cooler, trendier, parent-free places2  like like Instagram (hence why Facebook bought Instagram), Snapchat, Tumblr and Twitter3, leaving Facebook to mature. So what does that mean for the future of marketing on the network?

The Facebook Marketing Future

Well, this will depend on your business, your products, services and your target market. Those looking to sell cool, innovative and fashionable novelties to the younger generation will see their Facebook efforts begin to falter, especially if Facebook keep shoehorning those brands into paying for ads, which those of the younger generation that are left on Facebook, are hard-wired to ignore.

However, those that market products and services to a more mature clientele could see Facebook marketing pay-off for them today and more so in the future. The older generation of baby boomers and the fleeing teen’s parents that are beginning to find their mortgage-free homes empty of once-needy children, have plenty of spare cash floating around the bank and plenty of free time to spend on the network. All that time, attention and money may well be up for grabs for the right business. 

Back to Basics

The Facebook marketing game is certainly changing and, as the network begins to reach maturity, it’ll be less about being cool, ‘going viral’ and being innovative and more about keeping it simple, doing the basics well and reaching the right people with the right product at the right time. Isn’t that what marketing has always been about?

Some things never change.

 

References

1 http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/01/29/facebook-passes-1-23-billion-monthly-active-users-945-million-mobile-users-757-million-daily-users/

2 http://business.time.com/2014/01/15/more-than-11-million-young-people-have-fled-facebook-since-2011/

3 http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-where-the-fleeing-facebook-teens-are-going-2014-1

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 1:38:00 PM Categories: content development SEO social media social media marketing

Landing Pages Vs Micro Sites: Which Should You Choose? 

Landing Pages Vs Micro Sites

Micro sites and landing pages are often used interchangeably. However, to get the most out of either, you need to understand the benefits and pitfalls of each. 

In our opinion, there are specific instances where micro sites will provide more value than landing pages and, conversely, occasions where the opposite is true.

What Is a Micro Site?

Micro sites are typically temporary websites, often with 2 or more pages1 that are created for specific marketing purposes such as:

  • Promoting specific products
  • Limited edition or anniversary products
  • Sales, deals or offers
  • Lead generations
  • Email subscriptions
  • New product launches
  • Re-releases
  • Brand awareness exercises

So What’s a Landing Page?

Similar to a micro site, a landing page can be used for the same marketing purposes, although landing pages tend to consist of a single page, often with a prominent call-to-action (CTA) or a form of some kind2.

Both landing pages and micro sites can lead to the generation of leads, conversions and sales by engaging users and providing value, but which ones should you use and when?

When to Use a Micro Site

Micro sites are better suited for times where you need to do some convincing. Let’s say, you’re releasing a new product into the market that no one is aware of. You’re likely going to have to convince those that land on your site that this product is right for them. Micro sites are great for this, as you can dedicate a page to each feature, provide tutorials of how to use it, screen shots or images, videos, stories, social recommendations and any other form of content that might persuade the user to make a purchase or enquire.

With micro sites, you have more time with your user and, if you make something that’s engaging enough, you’ll have more attention. You can turn a sceptic into a friend right there and then if you’re respectful, provide genuine value and don’t ask for too much too soon3.

Micro sites are best placed following a relatively subtle CTA, such as a flat banner ad, a Tweet or a ‘find out more’-style prompt. When the user lands on a micro site, they ought to be inquisitive. This gives you the opportunity to engage them by allowing them to prod around and investigate. All the while, you’re priming them to convert, so the more dynamic and personalised, the better4.

When to Use Landing Pages

Landing pages, on the other hand, are best served when you've already convinced someone or if the convincing is done somewhere else. For example: if you see a 'Free Coke, sign up today' label on a Coke bottle, then a landing page could be used to simply finish off the transaction. Or if you’re having a flash sale or you’re discounting an existing product, you can use a landing page following a strong CTA, such as “Get 25% off X when you sign up today”. Here, the user has already been convinced as they:

  • Know the product,
  • Are aware of the offer
  • Have built up some interest in the deal
  • Understand what they need to do to benefit (i.e. sign up)

Again, a landing page can be used here to seal the deal.

Landing pages, then, should be free from distraction, include a strong CTA and be consistent with the preceding interaction. If the user sees “Free Coke, sign up today” in red and white with an parasol and sunglasses on the Coke bottle, then the landing page should use the same design, the same tone and reinforce the same message.

Alternatively, you can use landing pages following content where the user has already spent time engaging. Here, the user has again already been sold to elsewhere, such as a blog post about your product, or a rich media ad where users can interact with your proposal. When they land on your landing page following an engagement elsewhere, they are again in a position where they have an urge to convert. All you need to do with your landing page is help them over the finish line.

Micro Site Pitfalls

Both micro sites and landing page aren’t without their faults. Those most notable for micro sites include:

  • They’re typically more expensive to implement,
  • They take longer to create, as there’s more content,
  • They’re harder to maintain for the same reason,
  • They take longer to analyze,
  • More pages = more room for drop outs,

If you don’t position micro sites correctly, you’ll have trouble, too. For example, if you have a strong, long or informative CTA leading up to the micro site, and the user is ready to convert when they land there, they could be distracted by the content, loose momentum and drop out. So go easy on the convincing in your CTAs, let the micro site do the work.

Landing Page Pitfalls

Alternatively, with landing pages, if you don’t provide sufficient motivation or incentive before the user lands on the page, you’ll have a harder time converting users through a single page. In this instance, the inclusion of additional content such as videos will help increase the conversion rate of landing pages with poor CTAs preceding them.

Landing pages are relatively quick and cheap to create, so plenty of brands don’t put as much thought into landing pages as they should. They can sometimes be an after thought or a rushed job. Be sure to take enough time, do your testing and optimising first and strive for a high single digit conversion rate5.

The Choice Is Yours

Although seemingly similar in theory, micro sites and landing pages are two entirely different beasts in reality. Choosing the right one to use in your given circumstance could be the difference between generating leads and making sales and crying yourself to sleep at night, thinking about the money you’ve wasted.

Don’t make the same mistakes as everyone else and get it right first time.

References

1 http://www.slideshare.net/Regalix/the-success-of-microsite-marketing-strategy

2 http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-is-a-landing-page-ht

3 http://www.slideshare.net/marketingexperiments/webclinic-microsites-testedv6-25273142
4 http://www.marketingprofs.com/8/improve-lead-capture-conversion-turn-landing-page-into-microsite-parsa.asp

5 http://dannybrown.me/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Landing-Page-Handbook.pdf 

 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:40:00 AM Categories: B2B content development inbound marketing landing pages website

How to Write for the Web Part 3: User-centric Style 

content marketing strategyIn our How to Write for the Web series, we’ve covered the importance of planning in Keyword and Competition Research, and the importance of crafting a compelling title in The Power of the Title. So now that you have a solid content concept and a title, it’s time write your content.

If you’re going to write an engaging piece of content and stand a chance of nudging your potential customer towards a conversion, it’s got to be built around your user; their needs, wants and behavior. So when writing content, you must understand four things:

There’s MASSES of competition out there. Everybody wants a content marketing strategy or a Facebook page or a blog, so the amount of content generated on a daily basis makes the entire broadcasting history of CNN look like a Tweet. This isn’t a bad thing because it would suggest that there’s a real demand there, but what it does mean is that your potential customers have more to choose from. So you need to work harder to convert those that find you.

People are busy and don’t have time. We’re all living busier lives these days. We have more choice of things to do and less time to do it. When we get some spare time, we can watch a video on YouTube or Vimeo; check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn; catch up on emails; watch an episode on Netflicks or Tivo; play around in an app. You see, you’re not just competing with other articles; you’re competing with the rest of the internet for a slice of someone’s scarce free time. So you’ve got to treat every single one of your readers with absolute respect because they’re giving up everything else to spend time with you.

People don’t care about you. They care about them. So if you spend all your time banging on about how fantastic you are, you won’t make many friends. Whereas if you spend your time genuinely adding value, educating, entertaining and meeting their needs, you’ll earn the trust needed to form a relationship and make a sale.

People Don’t Read. Despite what content marketers across the globe would have you believe, users don’t actually read… much. We’re all far too busy these days, so most people don’t make it to the end of the article1. Some people even tweet articles having only read the title and first paragraph. 

The above points are all things that are out of your control. You can’t change any of it, but it completely changes the way you design and write content. 

What you can do, is use the above to understand the user so that you can create valuable content that meets your business needs, while embracing the user's behavior.

Here are a few techniques to use and skills you can develop that will give your content a better stab at success:

Tell a Story Through Your Headlines

Your headers and sub headers aren’t just important for SEO purposes, they allow your users to scan your blog or article and pick out the main points without having to spend four days reading every word. 

Use Lists
Bullet points and numbered lists help users digest content because they:

  • Make it easy to scan
  • Are quicker to read
  • Look more presentable

If you have a few points to make, always split them up into bullet points and do your reader a favor of helping them take on board your content.

Be Concise 
Why take four sentences to say something that can be said in one? Why use 16 words if you can use 8? By being concise, we make our content less daunting, easier to take in and accessible.

Use the Pyramid Style
Put your conclusion first, then work through your supporting information. A user should be able to tell if they’re in the right place after reading the first few words of your content, then read on if they want more. 

This is the pyramid style of writing that newspaper journalists use and it can be applied to writing for the web so that we help those that are busy understand the general point of our article without having to read the entire thing.

Understanding Users
By understanding your potential customers, you can create content that embraces how they behave online. If you can meet their needs through providing value with your content, then by respecting their time and helping them digest your it quickly and easily, you’ll begin to shape a positive relationship that could lead to sales and conversions. 

Let’s Get to Work

You now have all you need to start creating, original, attractive and compelling content that embraces your user’s natural online behavior. If you do your keyword and competition research, create an engaging title, and write for your user, you’ll be reaping the real rewards of content marketing in no time.

1 http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/06/how_people_read_online_why_you_won_t_finish_this_article.html 
 

Thursday, July 31, 2014 6:56:00 PM Categories: content development inbound marketing
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