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.

 

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Posted by Tuesday, October 21, 2014 6:25:00 PM Categories: B2B online marketing SMB social media web trends website

How Online Chats Can Increase Your Sales 


customer support

Have you got a strategy for helping your customers when they get stuck on your website? For e-commerce, e-tailers and service providers that offer complex products, services and a variety of pricing options, users can struggle to find the right product for them. Through introducing online chat, you can help these customers in real time and increase your sales as a result. 

Even the best websites on the planet don’t convert all users because people have differing wants and needs and each user is at a different stage on the path to purchase. And we know that not all websites convert fantastically, so that’s why we have general enquiry phone lines, contact forms and customer service email addresses. 

The thing about the above methods of contact is that they drive people away from the site, they can be expensive for the company to handle and they don’t always result in sales.

Phone Calls
Phone calls are typically costly for the company, as having to staff, furnish and equip a call center will inevitably eat into your profits. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if every call that came through led to a sale, but that’s not what happens in reality, especially on general inquiry lines. 

Emails
Emails break the user journey, disrupt momentum and cost a lot to handle. Go and visit Apple or Amazon right now and try to find a customer service email address. You’ll be just as likely to discover a cure for cancer or a reincarnated dodo. 

At first glance, emails appear to be a perfectly acceptable method of handling contact. At least with emails, you can respond to them at your own convenience. However, responding to emails is more costly than taking phone calls and the potential back and forth exchange as your staff attempt to capture everything they need in order to resolve the customer’s query can rack up the cost into the hundreds of dollars. Plus, by the time the potential customer receives a response to their query, they’re no longer on your website, they’re no longer in the mind state to purchase and they might even have already made the purchase from a competitor. 

Contact Forms
Contact forms are no different to emails. In fact, if you don’t have a CRM, there’s a pretty good chance that your contact forms generate emails! This doesn’t work for your company because it’s costly and it doesn’t work for or your customer because it takes too long to process. 

Introducing Online Chat
Online chat can tackle the pitfalls of all three of the above communication channels and increase sales while the customer is on your website Through introducing online chat, you can increase your customer service and sales through:

  • Explaining product features, terminology, pricing, delivery, returns policies and all other queries in real time
  • Recommending the perfect product according to specific customer needs
  • Directing customers to pages they can’t find or products they weren’t aware of

And, it’s good for the business because:

  • It’s more efficient - chat operatives can chat to 3-4 customers at a time
  • It’s cheaper – no need for heavily staffed call centers or staff spending hours exchanging emails
  • It’s quicker – if you can answer the customer’s query as and when they crop up, you can increase the chances of making a sale through keeping the user on your website and helping them along their journey while they have the intent to buy 

Online Chat Providers
There are a variety of online chat providers including:

  • LivePerson 
  • Comm100
  • BoldChat
  • Kayako Fusion
  • LiveHelpNow
  • Website Alive
  • Velaro

If you’re having any trouble implementing your online chat solution or if you want this feature built into your new website, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

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Posted by Monday, October 20, 2014 10:58:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C ecommerce inbound marketing online marketing sales SMB web trends

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

Do You And Your Business Feel Secure Online? 

online security

Every so often, we hear of an internet virus or scam or threat to our security or privacy that rattles the growing internet community like a babies toy. Are these threats genuine causes for alarm for your business? Or can you sleep safe knowing that your hosting provider has it covered?

The Big Four
Over the years, we’ve had Storm, Sasser, MyDoom and Melissa, four of the biggest and baddest computer viruses of all time. They were disseminated through the internet, causing major issues, not just for users, but also for companies like Microsoft and Google that were directly affected. 

More recently, Apple fell victim to a security frailty in its iCloud backup and storage facility that seen celebrity accounts hacked and private photos spread across the web.

SPAM and Phishing
There’s a constant battle against SPAM and phishing emails, which see scam artists set up fake companies and websites in order to pry personal details from recipients via email. Even though the internet community is working hard and has clamped down on phishing scams, they do still rear their ugly little heads every once in a while. 

Recently, in Ohio, 150,000 customers and employees of the E-ZPass tolling system were targeted by a phishing scam where hackers attempted to rein in tolling payment into their own bank accounts.

Heartbleed
We had the Heartbleed virus last autumn that caused heartache for many internet users that had various usernames and passwords stolen for websites such as Yahoo. This was the biggest threat we’d seen for years and had users across the globe clambering to change all of their internet passwords.

The New Worm
And now, the latest cause for alarm is apparently the Shellshock Worm. It threatens nearly 20% of web server operating systems and could have a worse effect than Heartbleed. 

The vulnerability is relating to a few lines of code in Bash, a program that runs on Linux and Unix operated servers across the globe. Apparently, if this bug is woken, it can jump from server to server, stringing together like a worm, and could end up causing huge problems for networks the world over. 

The Impact
What would happen if your entire site went down tomorrow? What if all of your user’s data or financial information was leaked? The thought doesn’t bare thinking about.The more we hear about these threats and frailties, the more confidence people loose in the internet. It may not be a problem for developers and those with an innate technical knowledge of how the internet works, but what about the small business owners and the average online customer? 

You’re Safe With Us
At Fast Track, we don’t run the Bash program, so our clients are in safe hands. We’re working daily to protect the privacy of our clients and tirelessly on the security of our systems. Your confidence and trust means more to us than anything else and your safety remains paramount. 

Your Thoughts…
Do you feel confident and secure online both personally and from a business perspective? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 1:16:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C SMB website security

The Latest Google Addition That’ll Boost Your Website Traffic 

Google Instant, the feature that pre-empts your search terms and shows the results of your predicted search as you type1, has started including branded business suggestions in the Autocomplete drop down menu. These stand out above all of the other suggested search terms and could be a huge pull for traffic to your website if you’re lucky enough to make it onto that fabled drop down.

What Is Google Instant?

You’ll have seen it before; when you search for something on the Google website and, when you start searching, it predicts what you’re searching for by using Autocomplete2 and shows you the results as you type, like this:

google instant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google claims that by showing you search results as you type, you’ll wind up making better searches because you can adjust your terms accordingly during your search3. How many people actually do this is debatable and there are retorts of this actually slowing searchers down4. The Autocomplete feature that it uses to predict your search also has a built in spell checker so sloppy or quick searches aren’t penalized. 

Google says that it doesn’t necessarily prioritize the most popular searches with Google Instant5, as it tries to keep things personalized. A personalized search is more valuable than a popular one, according to Google5. So depending on what country, state or town you live in1; whether you’re logged into a Google account or if your previous searches are stored in a cookie6, you’ll be seeing personalized searches unique to your location and browsing history. This means that what I see when I search won’t be the same as what you see when you do.

Google Instant’s Relevance for Businesses

Google Instant and Autocomplete work hand in hand and are valuable for businesses on a national and local level. If you’re included in the suggested searches, users can find you quicker. Plus, if you’re SEO strategy is strong, then you’re targeted keywords may feature in there, too. This all helps tempt traffic and potential customers to your website.

However, typically, Google won’t do you any favors and include your business in Google Instant unless it’s sure that you’re the best match for the user’s search. And, even then, you’ll be one of four other suggestions in Autocomplete and many more on the search engine results page. Each one looking identical in terms of the way they're presented with only the physical hierarchy of the list to infer priority or relevance. However, things might be about to change.

New Google Instant for Business

Imagine my surprise to find that, when I searched “Fast Track” this morning, I noticed that Google have done us a bit of a favor. Our logo, address and Google Plus URL are featured in the drop down suggested search terms in Autocomplete. It’s in the style of a mini search result and looks more attractive than a 6 foot cupcake:


 

 

 

 

 

Is Google now prioritizing relevant businesses who are registered with My Business7 or Google Plus in favor of those that aren’t?

There’s no question that our suggested search term certainly looks more attractive and tempting than the others on the list. It makes us stand out. It looks clean and professional and almost like a Google endorsement, as opposed to a simple suggested term. Although the other results aren’t related or our direct competition, will this feature stay when those suggested terms are filled with our competition?

Where Will They Go With This?

The potential for business growth as a result of this is huge. What if, instead of our address and zip code, Autocomplete showed quick synopsis of what we do and a phone number? Or a link to a contact form or our Twitter handle or even our most popular services or customer ratings and testimonials? What if the white space beside our address had a banner, a gif or even a video of a product tutorial? What if these enhanced branded suggestions were presented in a similar fashion to search results pages, so that when users search for “web design Seattle”, the Autocomplete and Google Instant suggest Fast Track in this fashion? 

The possibilities and opportunities that Google could unfurl here are endless. They could even replace the entire search engine results page with an even smarter Autocomplete and Instant fusion where all search results are shown in this fashion in the drop down. And, they could charge businesses for more interactive features, too. 

Whether all that is planned or not, I’m sure we’ll eventually find out. But, if you’re not currently registered to Google My Business7, you should do it now, get in early.

References

1 http://searchengineland.com/google-instant-complete-users-guide-50136

2 https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/106230?hl=en

3 http://www.google.co.uk/instant/

4 https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/106230

5 http://searchengineland.com/how-google-instant-autocomplete-suggestions-work-62592

6 http://boingboing.net/2010/09/09/the-google-instant-a.html

7 http://www.google.com/business/

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Posted by Sunday, August 17, 2014 5:22:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C inbound marketing online marketing social media marketing web development web trends website
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