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How To Make Video Testimonials Work For you

September 23, 2017

Filed under: General

Social Media Marketing – it’s on everyone’s lips these days. The questions to ask yourself  is not if you should be using social media, but how you should be using it. Social media is fast becoming much more mainstream. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn (to name a few), another medium that has gained traction over the years is YouTube.

Popular TV programs such as Glee and America’s Got Talent opened up their auditions via YouTube. Teen singing sensation, Justin Beiber, was discovered on YouTube. Thousands of brands these days showcase their promotions and launch new products via their YouTube channel. You can do the same via YouTube or a web Video. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Your customers are your best sales people. Why not build customer confidence with a web Video testimonial? There’s nothing more credible than having your customers talk about their experiences with your company, in their own words. Word-of-mouth, even if it is viral, is so powerful. Where do you start?

Ted Page, cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston, oversees the creative development of videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. He’s come up with the top 5 reasons why, plus 10 tips for making testimonials work harder for you and is based on an e-book, "How to Make Customer Video Testimonials."


WHY

1. Credibility
Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand lends unassailable credibility to your message. Your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are cutting their electric bill, or that their vacuum cleaner is the best.

 

2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content that people want to watch
Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you're not paying a network to air your commercial, or a magazine to place your ad, your media costs are zero. Accordingly, the process of having customer testimonials on your website is simplified.

 

3. More referrals
Customers are honoured to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters and that you value their opinion. It's a source of pride for them. And what do proud people do? They talk with their friends about what they've done. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. Often, the result is additional qualified sales leads and a lower cost for customer acquisition.

 

4. Give people something to Tweet about
Good content and social media go hand in hand. People see something, then send tweets about it to their friends—amplifying the power of your testimonials.

 

5. Get across the personality of your company
The era of un-advertising on the Web is much more personal and human than the brochure-ware of the past. Nothing speaks to the unique personality of your company better than the people who trusted you—and are glad they did. Your customers are your brand, and they have a lot to say.

Clearly, video testimonials are a perfect fit for almost any company—including yours. Now, here are some tips for how you can make them truly effective.

 

HOW

1. Tell a story
Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that your software is easy to use? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you're looking for.
If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative.

See these examples of video storytelling created for First Wind, a developer and operator of wind farms.

 

2. Make your videos "snackable"
Keep each video less than four minutes—ideally not more than 1-2 minutes long. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos.

 

3. Aggregate your videos in an online media center
A media center like this one from Alteris Renewables makes it easy for customers to browse.

 

4. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel
Picture people at their computers, watching your videos. They've watched three or four, and now they're ready to take the next step... perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your Web page that's displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click.

Think of your videos as cups of delicious coffee at Gloria Jean’s. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they're done sipping, or you'll lose them.
You have to be careful, however; you don't want to be in the customer's face, selling overtly. Remember that this is un-advertising: You're educating your customers, but also making clear that you are there for them when they're ready to buy.

 

5. Encourage absolute honesty
When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they're on camera. People see right through BS; they also recognize the truth when they see it.

You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the product you're selling, and how your company recognized the error and fixed it. That approach gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.

 

6. Optimize your videos for search
Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find solutions such as yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms.

In addition, when you post the videos to your Web page or YouTube channel, include some text that's relevant and searchable and make sure the text is in close proximity to the video. Some companies actually publish transcripts or abstracts from the videos on the same page as the videos because search engines can quickly locate text, but not necessarily video files.

In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add "tags" to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (e.g: solar power, cars, widgets).

 

7. Keep publishing new videos
Just as you're constantly gathering customer case histories for print, it's important to continuously publish videos to your site. Customers like seeing new, fresh stuff on your site. And search engines will rank your site higher if it's frequently updated with new content.

 

8. Interview customers who reflect your ideal new-customer profile
Look at the buyer personas of customer groups that are most likely to buy from you, then find current customers to interview who match those profiles as closely as possible. You want your Web audience to relate to the person they see onscreen.

Also, remember that you're not looking for models. You need people who look real—not like they just jumped out of a David Jones catalogue.

 

9. Intermix shots of your customers with images or video of your product
Seeing just customers on camera can get a bit dull. Spice up your testimonials with a roll showing customers using the product.

 

10. Pre-interview your customers
Have a call with each customer before the shoot to give them a sense of what you'll be talking about. You don't want to tell them what to say, but talking with them beforehand in general terms about the subject can set their mind at ease and help them to be more relaxed during the interview.

 

If your product or service is of a high quality and your customers derive satisfaction from them, they would gladly say positive things about your product in videos. The credibility and acceptability the videos would give you and your product is unquantifiable. Ready to get started?

Contact us if you’d like to develop your new website with a video feature added in.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights into the world of digital marketing.

Tags: social media, marketing, video, customers, testimonials

5 Tips For Killer Web Content

October 25, 2013

Filed under: General

Good content is about providing relevant information to current and potential customers for the purpose of building trust, enhancing branding, increasing awareness, and establishing positive attitude. Does the content on your website really speak to your customers? Need a hand developing a plan of attack for your web content? Our guest blogger this month is Sally Bagshaw from Snappy Sentences, who has some cool tips on how you can create killer web content:

1. Know your audience and their motives

It is amazing the amount of businesses out there who do not know anything about their target audience. Basic customer research is easy to do and can involve online surveys, web analytics, or data that has been gathered via other channels that can include newsletters, call centres or user testing.

Don’t be afraid to ask your existing customers why they chose your product or service in the first place. You may be surprised at some of their motives, and the knowledge will enable you to tailor your content to suit both their needs and the needs of potential customers.
 

2. Don't try to sell. Try to solve a problem

Most people are put off by a hard sell. How quickly do you try and get rid of telemarketers who call you at home?

The web is no different. Visitors can quickly leave a site (and never come back!) if they feel you are just trying to push a product or service down their throat, or if you just focus on your business (and not them).

A better way is to understand what problem your product or service will solve for your customer, and shape your content accordingly. Play on the emotions of the customer – use words such as ‘feel’ and ‘imagine’.

For example:

OK - XYZ security screens are the best in the business. Choose from a variety of designs and materials to make your home more secure.

Better - Feel safe and secure in your own home with XYZ security screens (the customer wants to feel safe and secure). You can choose from a range of designs and materials so that your home won’t have the appearance of Fort Knox (the customer does not want their home to look like a jail).  Use this ‘problem solving’ approach and your customers will be able to imagine applying your product or service to their specific situation – a key step in the purchasing process.   
 

3. Choose a tone and style and stick to it

Pick a personality for your site. Is it professional, formal and sensible? Or is it fun, cheeky and conversational? Ensure everyone who writes for the site understands the personality so that the tone and style remains consistent.

Also, decide on some strong call to actions, and use them throughout the site.
 

4. Punctuate consistently and keep sentences short

Develop a shorty style guide to document the rules for punctuating bullets, heading, addresses, phone numbers and the like.

Short sentences are easier to read on the web. Don’t be tempted to cut and paste from a printed document – make sure you review and re-write for your website.
 

5. Write for your audience first. Please them and you'll please Google

Don't turn your site into a keyword overloaded, unreadable mess by trying to include every keyword you can think of in your content.

  • Write content that your target audience wants to read, in the language and terminology that they understand, and you’ll end up doing well in search.
  • Take note of how people find your site (what keywords and phrases they use to search), and tweak your content as needed.
  • If you have a lot of services, break them up over different pages so you can write quality content for each page.

And finally, don’t forget to review your content regularly. Content is not a set and forget component of your website. Keep it up-to-date, keep it relevant, and keep it fresh.

 

Snappy Sentences can develop sizzling web content that will make your customers sit up and take notice of your product or service. They also run writing for the web workshops, facilitate content workshops, write style guides, and offer traditional copywriting services. Visit www.snappysentences.com for more information.

Tags: content marketing, keyword, content, web, web content, snappy sentences, audience, conversion, traffic, website content, low traffic

Are we stifling creativity and thinking?

July 30, 2013

Filed under: General

The little image, below, that I saw circulating on Facebook sparked a rainbow of memories and images speeding its way through my mind.

  Source: Teachers Marketplace

 

The child’s response is not wrong. It’s honest and innocent. In fact, it’s downright ingenius. So why did the teacher cross it out? Was it because it’s not the expected response? I would have given the child full marks for originality!

And that got me thinking about my childhood and some of the triumphs and challenges I faced along the way. At age 10, I discovered I had a talent for sketching and I put it to good use. A friend saw one of my doodles and asked if I’d draw one for her. I did. Then another asked for the same and I thought to myself…..hang on…this could be something. I started selling A3 size sketches of Mickey Mouse (yes, everyone loved it back then) to my classmates for what was a whopping 40 cents apiece. Mum couldn't understand why I needed a new drawing block within days of one being bought. The kids went ballistic. I couldn’t keep up. Till the teacher found out and shut down my very lucrative business.

By no means was I the brightest spark in school and I struggled through a couple of subjects. I never realized why I had such a hard time with numbers till my later years. Or why the words in my books would look as if they were in the wrong order. I remember praying for the ground to open up and swallow me whenever I had a Math lesson. I’d slide down my seat, and hide right at the back left corner of the room but I’d still get picked for sure to work out a problem on the board. I could feel the sweat trickling down my spine, my fingers would be clammy holding that white chalk and I'd have 40 pairs of eyes staring at my back. Talk about pressure. Or why when I did write something, my spelling would be jumbled. I could read it even when it was in reverse so why couldn't everyone else? You’ll never understand the frustration at looking at something many times over and still not spotting the error. Talk about optical illusion. Oh, how I dreaded those years. Over time, I learnt how to cover or overcome it.

These days, they call ‘it’ dyslexia. I still hate numbers so thank god I’m not the one keeping the business books in order. And while I’m no writer, here I am tapping away on my keyboard and giving spell-check a huge thumbs up. If you do spot an error……ah well…..I’ll get to it when I spot it. *smiles*

Music was my Escapism. I couldn’t hold a tune, mind you, but I’d loose myself in the lyrics and rhythm. Music helped free the mind and feed my soul. I’d pick out song titles and phrases that inspired me. Having an active mind, I would relate what I heard in music to real life experiences. Each time I needed a little kick in the butt, I’d listen to the songs. Here’s the top five song that have inspired me:

1. Let’s go crazy – Prince

“Are we gonna let de-elevator
Bring us down
Oh, no Let's Go!

Let's go crazy
Let's get nuts
Let's look 4 the purple banana
'Til they put us in the truck, let's go!”

I’ve had my moments when it all became too hard and I was ready to throw in that towel. When it did, I would take a step back, think about the big picture, the possibilities and the benefits of that far outweighed any obstacles that were put in my path. I never set the bar too high. I believe in being realistic when setting goals. I want to get giddy with excitement when I achieve it. I want to shout it out to the world. Wouldn’t you? It’s important to me that I get there on my own steam and on my own terms.

 

2. Don’t stop me now – Queen

I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go
There's no stopping me”

I didn’t exactly embrace my early school years. I was so terrified of failure. Once I worked out what my options were, I could formulate a route. I had a hugely supportive family. Although it wasn’t what they had in mind for me, my parents fully supported my desire to explore my creative instincts. I loved doing the unconventional and achieve amazing results. Forget about convention. Follow your heart and intuition. And if you fail, pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

 

3. Don’t stop – Fleetwood Mac

“Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.”

When I was in my pre-teens, I remember my Dad started his own little car rental company, with a couple of cars and no driver’s licence. He was an Insurance Salesman, had six kids (me being the youngest rebel) and was an entrepreneur at heart. He never took no for an answer. He was always up to something. He invested in property. He even started his own textile company. He’d ply his trade after work or on weekends when I could tag along.

I’d get a thrill out of watching him wheeling and dealing with the shop owners. He taught me not to fear. I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I just need to know what I am good at and to excel at it. He also taught me to show negativity the door.

 

4. The best things in life are free – Janet Jackson

“The best things in life are free
Now that I've discovered what you mean to me
The best things in life are free”

There’s so much around us that we take for granted. We tend to get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to think about the little things we should be grateful for. Everyday, I spend a few minutes to write down what I have to be thankful for. It gives me a sense of peace, writing it down instead of just thinking about it. It becomes more tangible as I can refer to it anytime I need to. It also acts as an inspiration on those days when things aren’t going eaxctly to plan. Try it.

 

5. Steer – Missy Higgins

“But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know that you control where you go
You can steer”

You’re the architect of your dreams and vision. You’re the one in control. Take stock of where you’re at and what you want to achieve in your life. Once you’ve worked out your purpose, the light will shine and you’ll be on your way to greatness. I struggled for years to try and work out my career path. The key is to look at what makes you happy and just do it. Once you realize what brings you the most happiness, you’ll enjoy what you do and the best part is that you’ll have so much fun doing it. Like I do!

 

In the immortal words of Steve Jobs – Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  We all have unique gifts and talents. We just need to uncover what’s inside of us waiting to be discovered and unleashed. So, let’s unlock that inner you and tell everyone just who you are.

Me? I am a creative thinker. I have a knack for seeing things differently. I love the ability to juggle multiple projects at once. I’m very visual and I love unstructured situations. Did I mention that I enjoy taking risks (it hasn’t always worked out, but….)? And most of all, I love what I do. That’s all that matters. What about you? Who or what inspires you?

 

About Judith Silva

Judith Silva is Chief Inspiration Officer and the driving force behind SPINN Media – a boutique creative agency specializing in web, apps and graphics. She’s been involved in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industry for over 20 years. Judith is a mother of two lovely girls and is crazily in love with her husband of many, many, many years. Get in touch with her at: judith.silva@spinnmedia.com.au

Tags: creativity, creative thinking, thinking, dyslexia, facebook, optical illusion

How Safe Is Your Password?

June 18, 2013

Filed under: General

Do you use one password for all your activities? Or do you have a few that you use? How do you come up with it? Is it random or do you have a system?  The challenge we all face these days, notes Scott Sears in a recent post at the Emma blog, is "creating passwords that are both hard to guess and easy to remember."

Sears offers a few tips that "security-minded geeks like me use to create effective passwords that are both memorable and strong."

Among them:

Create a base word by using one of the following ideas
• String together the first letters of a familiar group of words.
• Song lyrics, poems and famous quotes work great.
• Connect small, unrelated words together.


Modify that base word by using some of the following ideas
• Capitalize a few letters, while leaving the rest lowercase.
• Substitute numbers and symbols for similar-looking letters.
• Add some symbols to the beginning or end of the word.


Sears offers an example of how this system might work
• String "bat," "toe" and "up" together to create the base word: battoeup
• Capitalize some letters (O and P): battOeuP
• Substitute some numbers and symbols (a=@, t=7): b@77OeuP
• And add a symbol (!) to finish the password: b@77OeuP!

 

Too daunting? Sears is reassuring: "If you always use consistent modifications, you'll be able to remember how to reform the password," he explains. For instance, you could always capitalize the third and last letter of your base word and always substitute @ for a, or 7 for t.


As the Web becomes busier and less secure, it may be time to revamp your passwords to make them harder to crack.


Source: Emma & MarketingProf

Tags: security, password

Email Usability: 6 Tips to get Your Email Read

November 5, 2012

Filed under: General

You're probably speed-reading this blog post, so we'll get to the good stuff. Here are a couple of tips for getting the important bits of your email read:

Keep it short
Interest in the content of an email diminishes as the email extends, so cut the copy and keep the most important points of the message near the top.

Optimize your headlines
As the first two words of a headline are the most important, keep them informational. For example, a headline such as "3 tips for improving email usability and response rates" could be rephrased as, "Email usability: 3 tips for improving your response rates".

Get to the point
Most readers will skip any long-winded greetings or introductory text, so decide if it's worth including. If an introduction is necessary, avoid adding any important information to this section.

Focus the message
Where possible, avoid covering too many topics and keep the message simple. You're only going to have the reader’s attention for a few seconds, so make it count by using a standout call-to-action.

Make it scan-friendly
Limit body copy to easily-readable paragraphs, preferably under 60 characters in width. Selectively use images to reinforce your message, as images often take less time to understand than words.

Align to the left
That's because readers of left-to-right languages (such as English) are accustomed to scanning from the top-left first.

Finally, your email design may only get an average of 51 seconds of fame per reader (if it gets 'read' at all).

How will you make the most of it?

Tags: email, usability, headline, response rate

Simply The Best

July 25, 2011

Filed under: General

"The one and only rule to remember when you are seeking to stand out from the crowd," says David Tyreman, "is [this]: Don't become part of the crowd in the first place."

Tyreman’s book World Famous: How to Give Your Business a Kick-Ass Brand Identity  is packed with suggestions to help your business gain a powerful presence in the market. The opening page of the book features a quote from Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead: “Success isn't about being perceived as the best at what you do, it's about being perceived as the only one who does what you do."

How do you set your business apart from your competition? Tyreman talks about the need to offer your market a distinct benefit or value. If you pin your hopes on "just buy from me" with no real value proposition, then you will suffer the consequences.

Marcia Lindquist says, “You need to focus on how you do business, determine if you are the best solution for your customers’ problems, and then go out of your way to meet their needs.” She has developed a 5 step process on how you can hone your customer focus for better results.

1. Focus on your customers’ needs and wants.
2. Assess your own strengths and resources.
3. Differentiate with the customers’ best interests at heart
4. Make a map of their needs and wants and record it
5. Focus! Focus! Focus! only on that map and don’t get off-track

There are a lot of businesses out there offering the same products, services and even benefits. Understanding what makes you unique from these companies can help you better position yourself in the marketplace. This is where you convince your clients and prospects to actually buy from you.

What is your stand on this?
Drop us a line or contact us for a free consultation or a cuppa. We would love to meet you.

Tags: communication, marketing, market

Don't Stop The Music

June 29, 2011

Filed under: General

Someone recently sent us this email that gives us all food for thought. We loved it so much that it is reproduced here:
“ Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes later
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pulled hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly…

45 minutes
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour
He finished playing and then silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.


What no one that day knew was this - the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate musical pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 a piece.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in that metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised were: in a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.....

How many other things are we missing?”

When was the last time you stopped to listen to your: customers, employees and yes, even to your inner self? What pressure points to you need to push to move your business forward? Have you listened to the music?

Tags: business, pressure points, customers

The Seven Step Path to Sustaining Success

January 31, 2011

Filed under: General

“The success of any venture always starts with a passionate, committed and motivated person who empowers their team to deliver great customer experiences,” so says Dennis Price on his recent blog for Inside Retailing. And we couldn’t agree more.

And how do you do that, I hear you ask. Management guru, Tom Peter’s has the answer:

You take care of the people.
The people take care of the service.
The service takes care of the customer.
The customer takes care of the profit.
The profit takes care of the re-investment.
The re-investment takes care of the re-invention.
The re-invention takes care of the future.
(And at every step the only measure is EXCELLENCE.)

Tags: customer, people, service, experience

Five Easy Ways to Gather Client Testimonials

October 29, 2010

Filed under: General

According to Marketing Profs: There are easy ways to garner praise. Search online for positive feedback, and follow up with your fans. Voila! Testimonials

Here’s  an excerpt from Rebecca Swayze's post at the Inbox Ideas blog: “When used properly ... testimonials can help you build a list of engaged email newsletter subscribers and increase sales," Rebecca notes. But how do you collect worthwhile feedback when you haven't ever focused on it? Easy, Swayze says: Just go online. "Without even picking up the phone or sending an email, you have an incredible arsenal of research tools available to you via the Internet," she explains.

Here are five places where you can start looking for kudos right now:

Your email inbox
"Hunt through old messages and look for any positive feedback you can find," Swayze advises. If you come across a nugget of praise, send a quick email back to the sender for permission to use it.

Your blog
Read back over your older blog comments, she advises: "There are bound to be testimonials you can use in your marketing materials."

Twitter
Use Twitter Search to find out whether customers are tweeting about your brand, and follow up positive comments with a quick private message. Mark favourable comments as "favourites" so you don't lose them, she recommends.

Facebook
"You might find the best testimonials (at your Facebook fan page) without even having to ask for them," Swayze notes.

Google Alerts
Choose the search terms you want to monitor. Google Alerts will notify you when they appear in new online content. Follow up with the authors of positive comments.

Finally, you can always just ask, Swayze says. "Post-purchase follow-up messages give you the perfect opportunity to ask customers for feedback," she notes. "If customers are content with your service, they should happily provide a few words of praise."

Tags: client, customer, testimonials, email

5 Items To Delete From Your Website Today

October 11, 2010

Filed under: General

How often have you had marketing experts tell you what your website must have? The must have’s often include: start a blog, monitor social media, or optimize your site for search engines. While all of these things are important, Kipp Bodnar recently created a list of items you should delete as soon as possible from your site. Kipp’s advise is to do something completely different: think about things you should stop doing and offers a few suggestions on things to remove from your business website.

1. Complicated Animations
Flash-based animations can be bad for search engine optimization, but they can also complicate the website experience for visitors. Remember that when users visit your website they looking for something specific. Animations can often be slow to load, which slows down the user and can make them abandon your website. Perform a test. Remove your animation for a set period of time and see how it impacts metrics like lead conversion and time-on-site.

2. Industry Jargon
Your website should be written for your customers. Assuming that potential customers know and understand industry terminology is a mistake. Look through your website and highlight terms that are not commonly used outside of industry circles. If you aren’t sure if a word should be removed, ask one of your customers if they are familiar with it. Delete the highlighted words and replace them with more common explanations.

3. Images
Images are important. Images help to tell a story. However, many websites have too many images. The problem with having too many images is that they can drastically slow down the load time for your website in a web broswer. Search engines also take into consideration page load times when ranking websites. Websites that have been around for a while can often collect lots of images, and some of them no longer go with the content of the site. Keep some images, but go through and remove all images from your website that don’t help tell your company’s story.

4. Long Pages of Text
Research has shown that Internet users don’t like to scroll. Having a product page that is full of text and graphs that takes several scolls to reach the bottom is asking for your information to be ignored. The truth is that if you have long text pages of your website, you are probably trying to communicate too many ideas on that page. Read through and ask yourself, “Is this all about one topic?” If the answer is “no,” then divide that page into a couple short pages that each contain a single idea. This type of simplification will make it easier for your visitors and search engines to understand what your site and business is aobut.

5. “Contact Us” Form
Contact us forms don’t work. Instead of qualified leads, they mostly attract spam. Having your business contact information as part of your website is critical. However, when it comes to using forms, use landing pages. Landing pages provide a dedicated form that is connected to a lead generation offer. For example, if you have a form connected to a free assessment, you clearly know that submissions from that form are related to potential customers who want a free assessment. You don’t have this clarity with a contact us form, and response rates for dedicated landing pages are much higher.

Sometimes, less is definitely more.

Source: Hubspot. Click here for the full post.

Tags: website, marketing, site, customers, contact, information

Email Marketing Permission Guidelines

July 16, 2010

Filed under: General

By far the most important aspect of email marketing is the concept of permission. It’s the only thing separating you from the spammers of this world, but for many, it remains a grey area. It doesn’t need to be. First of all, let’s clarify what spam is, and then what kind of permission you will need to use our email marketing software - SPINN Mail. This is so important, because you may encounter legal issues if you fail to comply with the Australian CAN-SPAM laws.


Being ‘legal’ is not enough - our definition of spam

While the CAN-SPAM laws are a step in the right direction for classifying and reducing spam, we don’t feel they go far enough. Our definition of spam goes beyond the laws in most countries and encompasses what we believe to be true permission email marketing.

Spam is any email you send to someone who hasn’t given you their direct permission to contact them on the topic of the email. But that’s not enough. Permission is a fuzzy word open to interpretation. Let’s get into some specific scenarios so it’s clear what does and doesn’t constitute permission.


The type of permission you MUST have

You can only email subscribers using Campaign Monitor if you obtained their permission in any of the following methods:

They opted in via your web site
This could either be through a newsletter subscribe form or by ticking a checkbox on another form. This checkbox cannot be checked by default and it must clearly explain that checking it will mean you will be contacting them by email.

They completed an offline form and indicated they wanted to be emailed
If someone completes an offline form like a survey or enters a competition, you can only contact them if it was explained to them that they would be contacted by email AND they ticked a box indicating they would like to be contacted.

They gave you their business card
If someone gives you their business card and you have explicitly asked for permission to add them to your list, you can contact them. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by email about the specific topic.

They purchased something off you in the last 2 years
By making a purchase from you they have provided their permission implicitly. Feel free to email them but at the same time, we think it’s always better to ask anyway, so why not include an opt-in checkbox as part of the checkout process.


Scenarios that DON’T equate to permission

Basically, anything outside the examples above doesn’t equal permission in our eyes, but here are some examples to make sure we’re crystal clear:

You obtained the email addresses from a third party
Whether you purchased a list, were provided one by a partner or bought a bankrupt competitor’s customer list, those people never gave YOU permission to email them and they will consider your email spam. No matter the claims of the source of this list, you cannot email them with Campaign Monitor.

You scraped or “copy and pasted” the addresses from the Internet
Just because people publish their email address doesn’t mean they want to hear from you.

You haven’t emailed that address for more than 2 years
Permission doesn’t age well. Even if you got their permission legitimately, they won’t remember giving it to you. If you haven’t sent something to that address in the last 2 years, you can’t start now.

Need more information? Contact us and we'll be happy to guide you through the process of utilising email marketing to grow your business.

Tags: marketing, email, email marketing, spam

5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Online Community

June 25, 2010

Filed under: General

Most individuals I speak to seem to feel that getting involved in online communities equates to having to spend all your time online and besides, how do you determine what works best for you?

Rishad Tobaccowala of VivaKi has developed a useful exercise for figuring out your brand's perceived identity and personality. He suggests you begin by choosing a few key words that best describe your brand, under the following three categories:

1. Niche
What makes your brand different, and what attracts folks to its niche?

2. Voice
How does your brand "express" itself?

3. Story
What story sits behind the formation of your brand and its ongoing role in the marketplace?

Going through this exercise may help sharpen your brand's voice—and boost its social presence. Social Media Consultant, Roderick Low, has outlined below five ways you can easily improve your online community:

1. Make the community prominent
Don’t hide your online community behind a link. Bring it right up to the front page. Anything less, and you aren’t giving your community the respect it deserves. If you are serious about your online community, prove it by giving it serious exposure.

Show that you value the opinions of your members by featuring their content alongside your own editorial content – you are equal partners in this.

This goes further than just proving your commitment to the community. It puts the community in front of eyeballs. A lot of the time, visitors won’t even notice a link to your community – so put it where they can see it if you want them to join and get involved.

2. Keep it simple
You don’t need fancy features and a glamorous site design. Most of the time, these are simply distractions. Keep things simple. There is nothing wrong with basing your community solely on a forum. You don’t necessarily need a full range of ’social networking’ features. People need to be able to communicate – it’s as simple as that. They can do this with a basic forum.

Fancy designs are often just an ego stroke for the organisation that commissioned them. Remember, an online community isn’t about you – it’s about your members. Strip everything back and keep it basic. Your community may not look glamorous, but it will be far more likely to contain activity and member engagement.

3. Tell me why
I come across a lot of online communities that don’t explain or outline their purpose. As crazy as it sounds, there are a lot of people building communities without actually making it clear what the purpose of the community is.

Sometimes this is obvious from the name – but even then, I need to know why I should join your community rather than one belonging to your competitor. Ensure that all visitors to your site know why they should be joining and getting involved in the community. Keep it short, simple, snappy and accurate.

4. Be active
As a community manager, you need to be active in your own online community. You can’t be a matchmaker unless you get to know members of your community. You can’t learn from your members if you don’t know who they are.

Lead by example – get stuck in and enjoy the community. If you aren’t active or if you aren’t enjoying being active, your community has a problem. Fix it.

5. Build relationships at home and away
Some people who contact me stress that they are highly active in their community – in fact, sometimes they are its chief contributor. Of course, a community isn’t a community if there is only one person doing the talking. If this is happening to you, it’s an indicator that you need to be more proactive.

Just because you’ve built an online community doesn’t mean people will flock to it. You need to get out there and find members. Fortunately, that’s never been easier. Your potential members are out there writing blogs, telling the world what they are doing on twitter, and networking on Facebook.

Don’t stalk these potential members, and don’t spam them. Get to know them. Comment on their blogs, provide value. It’s all about what you can do for them – not the other way around.

For more insights and valuable tips & ideas, follow SPINN Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: social media, community, communicate, networking

6 Tips for Effective Recruiting on Social Media

May 19, 2010

Filed under: General

You’re looking for a STAR employee to fill the shoes of your departing high-flying, results producing Executive. How do you start the recruitment process?  Better yet, where do you start?

Sharlyn Lauby recently posted this article on the American Express Open Forum on how you can use Social Media to your advantage. Here’s the full article:

The goal of recruiting is to find the right person at the right time. Logically, that means one source is never enough. You'll want to tap into diverse mediums to find the best candidates. Social media is no exception. Each platform has its own unique demographic. You'll want to consider that audience when making the decision about which applications to use for your recruiting efforts.

Regardless of the application, there are some common elements of using social media for recruiting. Here are six things to consider:
 

1. Create an online presence that reflects who you are
Having a nice avatar, succinct bio and current contact information will make people want to connect with you. Be sure to organize your social media profiles to provide potential contacts with a better idea of who you are so they have a reason to communicate with you and form a relationship.


"It's about being human", explains Bill Boorman, author of the Recruiting Unblog. "People connect with people, not brands. Connect with everyone because you never know who will make that referral or connection for you."


2. Make the most of your time
A large part of any success with social media is involvement. This is especially true if you want to use social media for recruiting. While mobile applications can help with this, Boorman agrees, "It takes a big investment of time to build a talent community." To target your efforts, he suggests asking people directly which channels they use and looking at what your competitors are doing. "Consider directing your messages to a single point, like a relevant blog or company website."


3. Individualize your approach
At some point, you have to connect with people you don't know and become a part of their conversations. "I actually find it easy," says Chris Havrilla, national recruiting manager for Hitachi Consulting, a global leader in delivering business and IT strategies. "I have found if you communicate with people in a meaningful and thoughtful manner, you can never go wrong."


Havrilla's approach is to connect with people who have a genuine interest in his business and industry. "I follow or connect with people related to that space, ‘listen’ to and learn from the conversations, and participate when appropriate. If you are connecting with someone directly, be ‘individualized’ in your approach – take the time to understand who you are reaching out to and be respectful of their time and attention."


4. Be authentic
Recruiters always want to see the 'real candidate' and in order to do that, they have to be real as well. Amanda Hite, founder and CEO of Talent Revolution Inc., says when it comes to social media: "Remember it's NOT about the tools it's ALL about the relationships."


So don't be afraid to be yourself. Hite adds, "Being the authentic, unapologetic you is totally on trend. But more importantly, when you embrace your own authenticity and stay committed to 'being you' no matter what, you'll attract the kind of clients and employees that do the same and are the best match for you."


5. Share interesting stuff
All work and no play is boring. So sharing news and tidbits of general interest can create what might be the equivalent of "social media small talk," which leads to bigger conversations. Sylvia Dahlby works for SmartSearch, a leading talent acquisition system and recruiting business software solution firm. She works from home and lives in Hawaii. "Before social network sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, I belonged to dozens of old-style online newsgroups. Now, I leverage the new social networks much in the same way," Sylvia explains. She says it's still important to interact with others.


One of the things Sylvia mentioned was her Twitter account because she mixes her recruiting knowledge with Hawaii tidbits. "My Twitter account is for personal branding and making connections. I mostly tweet about my work, my product and the recruiting industry during business hours, chat with friends and business associates throughout the day, and throw in a mix of my hobbies and certain interests (such as Hawaiiana). I treat Twitter as my office 'water cooler' or after-hours 'cocktail party' where I can catch the news and buzz from people in various online communities around the world."


6. Focus on substance
If someone directs a question at you via social media, find a way to respond, even if it's to take the conversation offline. "The key is substance," says Steve Browne, executive director of human resources for LaRosa's Inc., a Cincinnati based regional pizzeria with 63 locations. "I'd recommend people using social media for recruiting [focused] on substance and not just resume information. Look at how the candidate is connected in the social media arena, and are they contributing to their profession, or just lurking. If they're engaged online, chances are they would be engaged working for your company."


Many recruiters realize that when it comes to recruiting, social media tools are just that – tools. The real value is in how the tools are used. Havrilla explains, "Social media can give you a great and efficient way to engage with your community – candidates, clients, customers, partners, prospects, etc. – on a very level playing field with the companies you are competing with for talent (or business). The key is to make sure you have the time to invest in to it. At a very basic level this is all about networking. The use of social media tools has greatly enhanced my ability to build, grow, and nurture my network. These tools are not a magic bullet though – to get value from your network, you have to add value to it."

Tags: social media, communicate, conversation, network

7 things to stop doing now on Facebook

May 17, 2010

Filed under: General

Privacy is such an issue these days, especially with the explosion of numerous social media websites that have sprouted over the last few years. I have a soon-to-be thirteen year old who has requested for a Facebook Profile. We’ve made a deal that once she comes of age, she can. We’ve been carefully going through the etiquettes of social media for a few months now and I can only hope that she adheres to the guidelines we’ve established.


For those of you that are still unsure on how to use the medium, here’s a guide that was first published by ConsumerReports.org in an article that appeared in the June 2010 Consumer Reports Magazine.

 

1. Using a weak password
Avoid simple names or words you can find in a dictionary, even with numbers tacked on the end. Instead, mix upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. A password should have at least eight characters. One good technique is to insert numbers or symbols in the middle of a word, such as this variant on the word "houses": hO27usEs!


2. Leaving your full birth date in your profile
It's an ideal target for identity thieves, who could use it to obtain more information about you and potentially gain access to your bank or credit card account. If you've already entered a birth date, go to your profile page and click on the Info tab, then on Edit Information. Under the Basic Information section, choose to show only the month and day or no birthday at all.


3. Overlooking useful privacy controls
For almost everything in your Facebook profile, you can limit access to only your friends, friends of friends, or yourself. Restrict access to photos, birth date, religious views, and family information, among other things. You can give only certain people or groups access to items such as photos, or block particular people from seeing them. Consider leaving out contact info, such as phone number and address, since you probably don't want anyone to have access to that information anyway.


4. Posting your child's name in a caption
Don't use a child's name in photo tags or captions. If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn't on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.


5. Mentioning that you'll be away from home
That's like putting a "no one's home" sign on your door. Wait until you get home to tell everyone how awesome your vacation was and be vague about the date of any trip.


6. Letting search engines find you
To help prevent strangers from accessing your page, go to the Search section of Facebook's privacy controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results. Be sure the box for public search results isn't checked.


7. Permitting youngsters to use Facebook unsupervised
Facebook limits its members to ages 13 and over, but children younger than that do use it. If you have a young child or teenager on Facebook, the best way to provide oversight is to become one of their online friends. Use your e-mail address as the contact for their account so that you receive their notifications and monitor their activities.

"What they think is nothing can actually be pretty serious," says Charles Pavelites, a supervisory special agent at the Internet Crime Complaint Center. For example, a child who posts the comment "Mom will be home soon, I need to do the dishes" every day at the same time is revealing too much about the parents' regular comings and goings.

Wish me luck!

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights and updates.

Tags: privacy, facebook, social media, profile, passwords

Make Video Testimonials Work For You

May 12, 2010

Filed under: General

Social Media Marketing – it’s on everyone’s lips these days. The questions to ask yourself  is not if you should be using social media, but how you should be using it. Social media is fast becoming much more mainstream. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn (to name a few), another medium that has gained traction over the years is YouTube.

Popular TV programs such as Glee and America’s Got Talent opened up their auditions via YouTube. Teen singing sensation, Justin Beiber, was discovered on YouTube. Thousands of brands these days showcase their promotions and launch new products via their YouTube channel. You can do the same via YouTube or a web Video. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity.

Your customers are your best sales people. Why not build customer confidence with a web Video testimonial? There’s nothing more credible than having your customers talk about their experiences with your company, in their own words. Word-of-mouth, even if it is viral, is so powerful. Where do you start?

Ted Page, cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston, oversees the creative development of videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. He’s come up with the top 5 reasons why, plus 10 tips for making testimonials work harder for you and is based on an e-book, "How to Make Customer Video Testimonials."


WHY

1. Credibility
Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand lends unassailable credibility to your message. Your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are cutting their electric bill, or that their vacuum cleaner is the best.

 

2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content that people want to watch
Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you're not paying a network to air your commercial, or a magazine to place your ad, your media costs are zero. Accordingly, the process of having customer testimonials on your website is simplified.

 

3. More referrals
Customers are honoured to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters and that you value their opinion. It's a source of pride for them. And what do proud people do? They talk with their friends about what they've done. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. Often, the result is additional qualified sales leads and a lower cost for customer acquisition.

 

4. Give people something to Tweet about
Good content and social media go hand in hand. People see something, then send tweets about it to their friends—amplifying the power of your testimonials.

 

5. Get across the personality of your company
The era of un-advertising on the Web is much more personal and human than the brochure-ware of the past. Nothing speaks to the unique personality of your company better than the people who trusted you—and are glad they did. Your customers are your brand, and they have a lot to say.

Clearly, video testimonials are a perfect fit for almost any company—including yours. Now, here are some tips for how you can make them truly effective.

 

HOW

1. Tell a story
Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that your software is easy to use? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you're looking for.
If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative.

See these examples of video storytelling created for First Wind, a developer and operator of wind farms.

 

2. Make your videos "snackable"
Keep each video less than four minutes—ideally not more than 1-2 minutes long. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos.

 

3. Aggregate your videos in an online media center
A media center like this one from Alteris Renewables makes it easy for customers to browse.

 

4. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel
Picture people at their computers, watching your videos. They've watched three or four, and now they're ready to take the next step... perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your Web page that's displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click.

Think of your videos as cups of delicious coffee at Gloria Jean’s. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they're done sipping, or you'll lose them.
You have to be careful, however; you don't want to be in the customer's face, selling overtly. Remember that this is un-advertising: You're educating your customers, but also making clear that you are there for them when they're ready to buy.

 

5. Encourage absolute honesty
When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they're on camera. People see right through BS; they also recognize the truth when they see it.

You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the product you're selling, and how your company recognized the error and fixed it. That approach gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.

 

6. Optimize your videos for search
Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find solutions such as yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms.

In addition, when you post the videos to your Web page or YouTube channel, include some text that's relevant and searchable and make sure the text is in close proximity to the video. Some companies actually publish transcripts or abstracts from the videos on the same page as the videos because search engines can quickly locate text, but not necessarily video files.

In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add "tags" to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (e.g: solar power, cars, widgets).

 

7. Keep publishing new videos
Just as you're constantly gathering customer case histories for print, it's important to continuously publish videos to your site. Customers like seeing new, fresh stuff on your site. And search engines will rank your site higher if it's frequently updated with new content.

 

8. Interview customers who reflect your ideal new-customer profile
Look at the buyer personas of customer groups that are most likely to buy from you, then find current customers to interview who match those profiles as closely as possible. You want your Web audience to relate to the person they see onscreen.

Also, remember that you're not looking for models. You need people who look real—not like they just jumped out of a David Jones catalogue.

 

9. Intermix shots of your customers with images or video of your product
Seeing just customers on camera can get a bit dull. Spice up your testimonials with a roll showing customers using the product.

 

10. Pre-interview your customers
Have a call with each customer before the shoot to give them a sense of what you'll be talking about. You don't want to tell them what to say, but talking with them beforehand in general terms about the subject can set their mind at ease and help them to be more relaxed during the interview.

 

If your product or service is of a high quality and your customers derive satisfaction from them, they would gladly say positive things about your product in videos. The credibility and acceptability the videos would give you and your product is unquantifiable. Ready to get started?

Contact us if you’d like to develop your new website with a video feature added in. While we don’t produce videos, we know businesses that do and would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insights into the world of digital marketing.

Tags: social media, marketing, video, customers

Apple's Steve Jobs on why it will not support Flash

April 30, 2010

Filed under: General

Steve Jobs has just posted a long open letter  listing Apple's decision to not support Flash on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Jobs claims Flash drains the battery of mobile devices and is not very good for multi-touch operation. It’s also a proprietary system, and claims that web standards should be open, like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript while admiting that Apple's mobile OS is proprietary.

In short, Apple doesn’t want “a third party layer of software [to] come between the platform and the developer.” He concludes, Flash is a relic. “Flash was created during the PC era –- for PCs and mice,” he says, “but the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards –- all areas where Flash falls short.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Apple has a long relationship with Adobe. In fact, we met Adobe’s founders when they were in their proverbial garage. Apple was their first big customer, adopting their Postscript language for our new Laserwriter printer. Apple invested in Adobe and owned around 20% of the company for many years. The two companies worked closely together to pioneer desktop publishing and there were many good times. Since that golden era, the companies have grown apart. Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products. Today the two companies still work together to serve their joint creative customers – Mac users buy around half of Adobe’s Creative Suite products – but beyond that there are few joint interests.

I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

 

First, there’s “Open”

Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.

 

Second, there’s the “full web”

Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.

Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.

 

Third, there’s reliability, security and performance

Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.

In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?

 

Fourth, there’s battery life

To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.

Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.

When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

 

Fifth, there’s Touch

Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.

 

Sixth, the most important reason

Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.

Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.

Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.

 

Conclusions

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 200,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

 

Steve Jobs
April, 2010

Tags: steve jobs, apple, flash, adobe, google, apps

Give your brand a Karma check with social media site

March 25, 2010

Filed under: General

The world’s biggest brands are under the spotlight with the launch of a new Australian social media website which ranks good and bad brands based on categories such as how they treat their customers, the environment and their employees. As reported in B&T today:

Launched yesterday, Brandkarma aggregates comments on 300 iconic brands providing each with a score. At the heart of the platform is the Brandkarma flower which has five petals focusing on how the brand treats its customers, employees, investors, suppliers and the planet. Users enter comments about one of the five areas and grade the brand with a colour from bad (red) to good (green). The colours are then reflected in the relevant flower petal, depending on the number of responses.

Brands featured on the site - which include Google, Apple, Tesco, Toyota, Nokia, McDonald’s and Nestle among others - can also be compared on the five criteria and overall ranking score. The site, which is currently in beta testing, was designed to help people make better brand choices as well as influence brand behaviour for good.


Increasingly people are understanding there are consequences around the things they buy, and not all brands are made equal. Most people want to do the right thing, if they knew what it was, and they knew where to start and it didn’t cost them much money. And finally people increasingly rely on friends, family, colleagues and strangers more than they rely on business leaders, governments, NGOs and experts and certainly marketing. Brandkarma is a way to pull those things together.

It represents the ever changing dynamics between the five key stakeholder groups which are customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the planet. It is all five of these that gives you an indication of the brand’s karma.

Users need to register at the site www.brandkarma.com where they can fill in their profile details. News feeds about the brands are also included and users who are active are ranked on how much they “Doo” or contribute on the site, enabling them to attain “Super Doo’d” status.

Brandkarma will not moderate comments unless they are flagged by other users.

Tags: brandkarma, customers, social media

7 Ways to Be Worth Following on Twitter

March 9, 2010

Filed under: General

‘How do I get followers on Twitter?’ It’s a question everyone is asking. In a recent post, Twitterholic, Jo-Lynne (follow her at @dcrmom) shares some tips on being the kind of Twitter users people want to follow. Use Twitter to build relationships, to keep connected to the outside world and to find articles and information that you wouldn’t discover otherwise.

Choose carefully whom you follow on Twitter. As with any other social network, there are ways to grow your community. In Twitter-speak, this means to gain followers. Jo-Lynne has put together this list based on the characteristics of the people she most enjoys following on Twitter. We found it to be informative and are happy to provide an excerpt from her article:

1) Be Interesting
It’s fine to announce what you’re doing and thinking and what you had for lunch, as long as you do it in a way that is entertaining to your followers. Twitter is micro-blogging, and like on your blog, if all you do is give a play-by-play of your mundane daily happenings, you will lose followers. The people I enjoy following find a way to make me smile with their quips and one-liners, even if they are just informing me what they had for breakfast. Here are a couple of examples from the past few days.


@subdiva could have said, “Packing to go to Disney tonight!” but instead she wrote: “Packing up to ring in the New Year on the happiest place on earth. No, not the wine store…”


@rocksinmydryer could have said, “I hate dieting” but instead she wrote: “May I just say, for the record, that PORTION CONTROL STINKS? Thank you, that is all.”


Of course not everything you post has to be clever, but if you’re just sharing your thoughts and happenings, try to make it worth reading.

 

2) Be Informative
Not every tweet should answer the question, “What are you doing right now?” If you are going to participate in the Twitter community, you need to give something back. I love it when people post links to helpful articles or leave bits of advice and information. Post whatever comes naturally to you. @skinnyjeans reminds her followers every day to get up and drink a glass of water and gives us a much-needed pep talk in the middle of the afternoon. I love this! @problogger always links to the articles he is reading, and I have found lots of new bloggers to follow this way. Not all helpful information has to be your own. If you see a good tweet, do a “retweet” so your followers can get the benefit of the information that is being shared. 

 

3) Be Interactive
Don’t be a “hit and run” tweeter! In other words, don’t just log into Twitter to tell people what you are doing or link to your post and then leave. Respond to tweets, ask questions, answer questions. Twitter is a conversation, not a monologue, and the more you participate, the more you will get out of it, and the faster your community will grow. 

 

4) Be Promotional
Yes, it’s okay to promote your own work, as long as it’s not all self-promotion, all the time. I love it when people link to their recent posts on Twitter. I almost always follow the links, especially when it’s done in a thoughtful way. I can’t always log in to my feed reader and catch up on my favorite bloggers, but for some reason, if they post a link in Twitter, I usually take the time to follow it, especially when they introduce the link in a thoughtful and interesting way. Which brings me to my next point. 

 

5) Be Personal
For a while I used a plugin that automatically tweets a link to every new post I write, but I have turned off that feature and opted, instead, to write a more thoughtful introduction to the link I’m sharing. Maybe ask a question, or make a comment or introduce the link in a way that pertains to the subject of the post. No one likes to feel that they are getting spammed. And they are more likely to read it if you make it sound like it will be interesting or helpful. Don’t, however, be tempted to use the old bait and switch tactic to get readers to follow your link. They will wise up and you will find yourself unfollowed.


And while we’re at it, TURN THE ROBOTS OFF. It’s impersonal and insulting. I unfollow and block people who use automated responses. Period. The end. 

 

6) Be Considerate
This is definitely a case of “do as I say, not as I do” because I KNOW I am so totally guilty of this. And yet, it bears mentioning because it really does get annoying, at least when other people do it. Sometimes we get into so many conversations or we have so much we want to share that we find ourselves clogging the Twittersphere with a long series of tweets. This is annoying. I won’t promise never to do it again, but it’s something to keep in mind. If you find yourself going back and forth in conversation with one person, it’s time to take the conversation to Direct Messages. Or email. Or text. Or, gasp, the phone. Believe it or not, some people DO still use the telephone.

 

7) Find a balance
Finally, balance all of the above. If all you do is promote yourself, people will tire of you. NO ONE is that important. If all you do is update your daily happenings but never respond to others or give anything back, people will tire of you. NO ONE is that interesting. Balance is key.  


Follow SPINN Media @spinnmedia

Tags: twitter, social, community, blog, tweet

5 Tips For Killer Web Content

February 8, 2010

Filed under: General

Does the content on your website really speak to you customers? Need a hand developing a plan of attack for your web content? Copywriter, Sally Bagshaw from Snappy Sentences has developed these helpful tips for you:
 

1. Know your audience and their motives

It’s amazing the amount of businesses out there who don’t know anything about their target audience. Basic customer research is easy to do and can involve online surveys, web analytics, or data that has been gathered through other channels including newsletters, call centres or user testing.

Don’t be afraid to ask your existing customers why they chose your product or service in the first place. You may be surprised at some of their motives, and the knowledge will enable you to tailor your content to suit both their needs and the needs of potential customers.


2. Don’t try to sell. Try to solve a problem

Most people are put off by a hard sell. How quickly do you try and get rid of telemarketers who call you at home?

The web is no different. Visitors can quickly leave a site (and never come back!) if they feel you are just trying to push a product or service down their throat, or if you just focus on your business (and not them).

A better way is to understand what problem your product or service will solve for your customer, and shape your content accordingly. Play on the emotions of the customer – use words such as ‘feel’ and ‘imagine’.

For example:
OK - XYZ security screens are the best in the business. Choose from a variety of designs and materials to make your home more secure.

Better - Feel safe and secure in your own home with XYZ security screens (the customer wants to feel safe and secure). You can choose from a range of designs and materials so that your home won’t have the appearance of Fort Knox (the customer doesn’t want their home to look like a jail).  Use this ‘problem solving’ approach and your customers will be able to imagine applying your product or service to their specific situation – a key step in the purchasing process.   


3. Choose a tone and style and stick to it

Pick a personality for your site. Is it professional, formal and sensible? Or is it fun, cheeky and conversational? Make everyone who writes for the site understand the personality so that the tone and style remains consistent.

Also, decide on some strong call to actions, and use them throughout the site.


4. Punctuate consistently and keep sentences short

Develop a short style guide to document the rules for punctuating bullets, headings, addresses, telephone numbers and the like.

Short sentences are easier to read on the web. Don’t be tempted to cut and paste from a printed document – make sure you review and re-write for your website.


5. Write for your audience first. Please them and you’ll please Google

Don’t turn your site into a keyword overloaded, unreadable mess by trying to include every keyword you can think of in your content.

• Write content that your target audience wants to read, in the language and terminology that they understand, and you’ll end up doing well in search.

• Take note of how people find your site (what keywords and phrases they use to search), and tweak your content as needed.

• If you have a lot of services, break them up over different pages so you can write quality content for each page.

And finally, don’t forget to review your content regularly. Content isn’t a set and forget component of your website. Keep it up-to-date, keep it relevant, and keep it fresh.

 

Snappy Sentences can develop sizzling web content that will make your customers sit up and take notice of your product or service. They also run writing for the web workshops, facilitate content workshops, write style guides, and offer traditional copywriting services. Visit www.snappysentences.com for more information.

Tags: copywriter, google, guide, call to actions, keywords, phrases, content

How To Fix A Leaky Website

February 3, 2010

Filed under: General

This may sound shocking, but your company may already have more than enough traffic on your Website to achieve your business goals—but the problem is that you may have a leaky Website. That is, prospects and customers are visiting your Website, but very few are taking the next step to do business with you. Do you have a leaky Website?

Bob DeStefano is an international online marketing strategist and professional speaker with over 15 years experience working with B-to-B companies. He tells us how to diagnose the problem and, more importantly, how to fix the leaks.


How to Tell If You Have a Leaky Website

To determine whether you suffer from the symptoms of a leaky Website, review your Web analytic reports that track visitor behavior and look for the following issues:

Your conversion rate is low
How many anonymous Web visitors turn into named leads for your sales process? Your conversion rate is the measure of your ability to persuade your visitors to take action and reach out to you. If your conversion rate is low (or nonexistent), your Website definitely has leaks.

Your bounce rate is high
Your bounce rate measures the number of people who arrive at one of your Website pages and then leave without doing anything. They are a good indicator of whether your Website meets the needs of your visitors, or whether they think it is a complete waste of time. If your bounce rate is relatively low (under 25%), then your Website is doing its job effectively, leading prospects to the next step. If your bounce rate is high (over 40%), you have a leaky Website.



How to Plug the Leaks

If you have a leaky Web site, don't fret. The following tips will help you plug the leaks and optimize your Website for more leads and sales.

Make sure your content is customer-focused
Prospects are not visiting your Website to kill time. They are there to find a solution or solve a problem. Does your Website content draw these prospects in—or cause them to bounce away?
To draw them in, make sure your Website engages prospects by offering customer-focused content that speaks to their needs and provides a solution to their problems. Talk less about you and your company and more about your customers' needs and concerns. If your content is customer-focused, prospects will stick around and ask for more.

Don't rely on your 'contact us' page
Do you want to turn your Website into a lead-generation machine? Then stop relying on your Contact Us page as the sole method for prospects to contact you. Rather, offer visitors easy access to contact information on every page of your Website in a consistent location. You will be amazed at how many more prospects will reach out to you if you invite them to do so.

Make an offer they can't refuse
Now, take it one step further by supplementing your contact information with relevant calls to action that will compel your site visitors to respond.

When crafting your offers, think about the audiences you are trying to attract, as well as the various stages of the buying process they may be in. To attract individuals ready to buy, offer product specials, quote-request forms, salesperson consultations, and online ordering.

In addition, to help you build a marketing database, offer softer calls to action for the tire kickers and early-stage buyers. Examples of soft calls to action include downloadable "how to" guides, whitepapers, "ask the expert" question submission, and e-newsletter subscriptions.

Simplify your lead generation forms
Are your lead-generation forms as daunting as a tax return? If so, simplify them immediately. Don't try to qualify prospects with your online forms—that's the salesperson's job.

The more fields you require to be filled out, the fewer people you will hear from. So, ask only for the most basic information that a salesperson will need to reach out to the prospect and begin the relationship.

Also, make sure that those forms immediately get to a knowledgeable salesperson for follow-up. The best time to follow up with a prospect is when they are still browsing your Website.

Shorten your checkout process
If you sell products online, take a close look at your checkout process to identify leaks. How many customers who add an item to their shopping cart actually complete the sale?
If you are losing many of these valuable customers, look for opportunities to simplify your checkout process, including the following: cut the number of clicks required to complete the sale; communicate shipping costs early; offer a progress meter to let people know where they are in the process; and offer alternative (offline) ways to order.

Make your phone number obvious
According to research, people are highly likely to want to pick up the phone and call when they are browsing a company's Website. To boost the number of inquiries you receive, don't make your visitors hunt for your number. Make your phone number one of the prominent calls to action on every page.  In addition, use a unique toll-free number on your Website so you can accurately track the number of calls you receive from Website visitors.

Tags: website, business goals, customer focused, content

26 Free Tools For Monitoring Your Brand's Reputation

December 16, 2009

Filed under: General

Are you listening? Do you know what people are saying about your brand?

Pam Dwyer, recently posted an exciting article on the most popular tools that you can use to monitor your brand’s reputation. This is an excerpt from one of her recent postings. You can also visit Pam’s blog site on: http://www.pamorama.net/

If you have customers, odds are they’re talking about you to their coworkers, to their friends, and to anyone else within earshot — including those on social networks. Isn’t it in your company’s best interests to be engaged and take part in the conversation so you know what’s being said and can respond appropriately?

As brands get going with social media, they find that understanding who is talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom, and where is a great advantage. After auditing your current brand footprint, you’ll be armed with the data you need to start weighing what’s important to your audience about your brand and where you should have a presence.

Build a list of keywords and terms about your brand, customers, company, and market, then use some of these free tools to get a clearer view of what people are saying — with this knowledge in hand, you can begin to really develop a social-media strategy:

1. Addict-o-matic
Allows you to create a custom-made page to display search results.

2. Bloglines
A Web-based personal news aggregator that can be used in place of a desktop client.

3. Blogpulse
A service of Nielsen BuzzMetrics that analyzes and reports on daily trends in the blogosphere.

4. BoardTracker
A useful tool for scanning and tracking forums conversations.

5. FriendFeed Search
Scans all FriendFeed activity.

6. Google Alerts
Target keywords that are important to your brand and receive streaming or batched reports.

7. HowSociable?
A simple way to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social Web.

8. Icerocket
Searches a variety of online services, including Twitter, blogs, videos, and MySpace.

9. Jodange
Tracking your brand or a product is one thing, but turning that tracking into a measure of consumer sentiment about your brand or product is something else entirely. Jodange’s TOM (Top of Mind) tracks consumer sentiment about your brand or product across the Web.

10. Keotag
Keyword searches across the Internet landscape.

11. Facebook Lexicon
What are people talking about on Facebook? Lexicon searches Facebook walls for keywords and provides a snapshot of the chatter volume around those terms.

12. Monitter
Everyone is talking about Twitter, but what are people talking about on Twitter? Beyond the integrated search of Twitter apps like Seesmic and TweetDeck, Monitter provides real-time monitoring of the Twittersphere.

13. MonitorThis
Subscribes you to up to 20 different RSS feeds through one stream.

14. Samepoint
A conversation search engine that lets you see what people are talking about.

15. Seesmic
Monitors multiple Twitter accounts and enables keyword searches and tracking.

16. Surchur
An interactive dashboard covering search engines and most social media sites.

17. Technorati
Search engine and monitoring tool for user-generated media and blogs. Billing itself as “the leading blog search engine,” Technorati has been helping bloggers and those with their fingers on the blog pulse stay informed for years.

18. Tinker
Real-time conversations from social media sources such asTwitter and Facebook.

19. Trendrr
Want to know how your brand or product is trending compared with others? Trendrr uses comparison graphing to show relationships and discover trends in real time. Use the free account, or move up to the Enterprise level for more functionality.

20. Tweetburner
In the world of Twitter, URL shortening is the key to effectively connecting with the public. Tweetburner also lets you track the clicks on those magically shortened links, giving you some hard numbers.

21. TweetDeck
Not only a great way to manage your Twitter account, but the keyword search means you can see what people are saying about you.

22. Twendz
Public relations firm Waggener Edstrom’s Twitter-mining tool that monitors and highlights user sentiment in real time.

23. Twitter Search
Twitter’s very own search tool is a great resource. Can be subscribed to as an RSS feed.

24. UberVU
Track and engage with user sentiment across FriendFeed, Digg, Picasa, Twitter, and Flickr.

25. wikiAlarm
Alerts you to when a Wikipedia entry has been changed.

26. Yahoo! Sideline
A TweetDeck-esque tool from Yahoo. Monitor, search, and engage with the Twittersphere.

Listening and making sense of how your brand lives on the Web is only part of the calculus — the next step is how you leverage that information to engage with your audience.

Tags: social networks, keywords, twitter, blog, facebook

Getting The Best Out Of Google AdWords

September 29, 2009

Filed under: General

Identifying what keywords to use for your web site can mean the difference between success and failure so it's important to get it right. How do you convince someone to click through and visit your landing page without going over your 95-character limit? Most businesses want a cost-effective way to bring in more customers. The problem that most new business owners face is that they do not have extra money to spend on a fancy research keyword tool. The challenge is to find prospects who are thinking about your products at the exact time that you reach them. 

So what to do? Use what you already have at your disposal and maximize your free resources of course! If you are looking for a free keyword analyzer, try the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

Is your goal to make direct sales via ecommerce on your website? Is your goal to capture sales leads that you can follow up with to make the sale? Alternatively, is your goal a combination of both of these outcomes? Once you have determined a goal, you need a website that helps you achieve that goal.

Your website should be eye-catching and well organized, and include landing pages for your products or services. To see some examples of landing pages, perform a search for your services, and look at what other companies in your market are doing. The landing page for your advertisement might be your main website or homepage if your website focuses tightly on one product or service that you're advertising. Otherwise, the landing page should be a page within your website that focuses on the specific product or service you're advertising.

If you're selling directly from your website, your site should include a secure ecommerce system. Any good, technically competent web design firm can set this up for you. Once you have a goal, web site, and landing page, you're ready to sign up for Google AdWords.

How to write your Advertisements


Include a Strong Keyword or Phrase In Your Title
If people are searching for gift hampers, for instance, their eyes will likely scan for the specific phrase "gift hampers." You have a 25-character title to get searchers' attention, and a 70-character ad to make them interested enough to want to click on your ad. This isn't a lot of text, so make it worth your while.
 

Avoid Long Words
Keep It Simple. "An 'automobile' is a 'car.' A 'giveaway' is a 'gift.' An 'offer' is a 'deal'". Using short words can give you two or three extra words to work with.
 

Be Specific
Stand out from the paid and organic crowds with precise descriptions that go beyond basic keywords. The phrase "16-foot ocean kayak" will attract more relevant attention than the more generic "kayak."
 

Include A Call to Action
Having a good call to action can increase your Click Through Rates (CTR) and also increase your campaign effectiveness. A searcher needs to know what’s in it for him if he clicks on the advertisement. He is already in a page full of related links that he was searching for and you are just one of the many. So if you are going to take him away from this page, you will have to ensure that he knows what he will get from your page.
 

Format Your Ad
Make sure your ad is formatted properly with correct casing & spelling. You only get a very small window of opportunity when it comes to grabbing the attention of your customer. Capitalizing the first letter of each word is a common practice which makes your ad copy look attractive. However, you can test with various other methods and use the method that works best for you.
 

Highlight your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
How different are you from your competitor? What makes your product or service unique? What benefit would the customer get after buying what you sell? Your proposition must be something that your competitors either cannot, or does not offer. It must be unique and something that your customers can relate to and can benefit from. Example: If you offer free shipping, 24/7 support, money back guarantee or you are professionally certified, won awards or anything else that can help you to boost your initial credibility and trust – then Include it in your Ad copy.


When you write extremely short copy, you must remember to stay focused. There is not enough room to sell the customer within your copy, but there IS enough room to pique their interest. Use the limited space you have to punch up the biggest benefits or end results your customers are looking for and you’ll see bigger returns on your AdWords investment.

Watch this YouTube video by Jay Roberts on how to use Google’s free AdWord tool. The proof—as always—is in the pudding. Keep testing and testing and testing until you get ads that grab the attention of the right prospects and then convert best into clicks and sales.

Contact us if you need help in establishing your Google AdWords Campaign.

Tags: google, adwords, google adwords, youtube, video, customer

Using SEO To Help Grow Your Business

September 22, 2009

Filed under: General

Search engine optimization is a method of increasing the amount of visitors and the awareness of a website by ranking high in the search engines. The higher the rank of a website in the result of the search engines the better the chance the website will be visited by users.

Over the last few years we have seen the emergence of some major internet companies, with search engine giant Google now amongst the most influential on the internet. While there are other search engines such as Yahoo! and MSN, which have a place and a presence on the internet, Google is by far the most powerful. If you have no presence on Google, your chances of success will diminish drastically.

Here are some basic SEO tips included in the search engine optimisation tutorial you might consider doing yourself to get better search rankings and increased site traffic:
 

1. Keywords
It’s important to know which keywords to optimise for. If you are a retailer of gift hampers, it’s important to know what consumers type into Google while searching for gift hampers. There are many tools available on Google that can help generate this for you. Try the keyword tool in Google AdWords or Wordtracker

Do a search for your top keywords and analyse the results that Google throws up. View how many times a particular keyword appears in the title, in the description, in the URL and on the page content. 
 

2. Title
Ensure that the title of your page is not more than 60 characters. That’s all that will be read by Google. 

Once you are done analysing the search on your keywords, understand how you can structure the content in your title, description, URL and home page, in that order.  Ensure that you are higher than your competitor. Having said that, don’t try to use all your keywords in such a way that it’s non-meaningful or desperate. It’s a fight between quality and quantity.

It’s important for Google to know that you have not put junk in your title. The way they determine this is by checking if the words in your title match those in the content of your page. If they are not, you won’t do as well as you could. So figure how you can have those keywords on your home page, too.

If you and your competitor have the particular keyword in equal quantities on your title, the next factor becomes the placement of keyword. In this case, you have to ensure that the keyword in your title is before that of your competitor’s. For instance, if the keyword is the 25th character of your competitor’s title, yours should be anything less than that. This way you will feature higher.    
 

3. Multiple URLs and URL address
Don’t place all your keywords in your home page. Optimize all the URLs in your site for different keywords. It’s important to achieve a good balance between content and form. Don’t let extra content kill the design of your site. If your URL address contains the keyword, Google gives it more weight. 
 

4. Keywords Meta tag
Disregard this. Google has stopped reading this a while back. 

5. PageRank
A simple formula devised by Google to check relevancy and the quality of a site is PageRank. It’s a vote that shows how other sites look upon you. If site x points a link to site y, then that’s a vote of confidence in site y by x. This goes well in Y’s PageRank. The more quality links you have in your kitty, the better. Work towards getting more people to point towards you. Read up on PageRank on Google.

Sometimes sites which are less relevant as yours may show up higher than you. That’s probably because they have a higher PageRank than yours. Don’t worry. You can’t help that. Just work on yours. 
 

6. Content
Google will give more weight to content right on top than that below. More brownies will be given to content in H1 (header) tags than regular content. More weight goes to larger font than smaller. Negative marks will be given (and you will probably disappear off Google) if you try to hide content by making it non-readable (either making the font the same colour as the background or making it very small).

Ensure that you have your keywords in a higher density than other words. Quality content is more important than quantity. So, ensure that when you are filling your page with keywords, it still makes sense to the customer. Otherwise, they will leave your page in no time and all time spent on SEO will be worth nothing.
 

7. Images
Don’t use any flash, unless people know your URL and you don’t have to depend on SEO. If you do, use good images that compensate for the lack of flash. Googlebot stops when it sees flash.

Did you know that you could put a name to your images? There is something called alternative text. Use this in the best way you can. What is alternative text? In case your image does not show up in a browser, the alternative text describes the image for the user. So, if I have the company logo and that doesn’t show up for some reason, the alternative text will. So, don’t fill keywords there, but then again, don’t forget to put your company identity / or category in there. 
 

8. Age of your URL
This is another factor that Google considers important. A competitor’s site that is less relevant may show up higher if they have been around longer than you. There’s nothing you can do about this though. Once you cross the one year barrier, you will probably be in the same league as your competitors.

SEO is a high impact, high value tactic for reaching Customers online. It focuses on Customers seeking a business’s service and not the other way round. Many smart businesses are starting to see the potential long term benefits of a committed SEO strategy during tough economic times to get more bang for their buck, so the question asked is why shouldn’t you be doing the same for your business?

Interested in what SEO can do for your business? Speak to us.

Tags: search engine optimisation, seo, internet, optimisation, google, pagerank, customers, keywords

Apply for a Business Stimulus Package

April 20, 2009

Filed under: General

In these difficult times, how you present your brand is more important than ever. We understand the challenging and ever changing dynamics of running a small to medium sized business.
 

We have a few questions for you

  • Is your fear over dropping sales preventing you from focusing on what your customers are looking for right now?
  • Are you paralyzed by fear and uncertainty?
  • Are you playing it safe and staying in a holding pattern until the economy improves?
  • Or have you opted to show courage and leadership by steering your brand to maintain share now and grow into the future?

During this downturn, whatever companies do, or more importantly don't do, will have far-reaching impacts on their customers and brand for years to come. Companies that faced the challenges head-on, retained their wits, and took appropriate actions will be the ones leaving their competitors far behind.

With this in mind (and an excuse to celebrate our new website launch!), SPINN Media is offering all businesses an opportunity to revamp, refresh or create an engaging brand identity with great savings in store.

Sign up for a logo development package by 30 June, 2009 and receive a BONUS stationery design set for FREE! How is that for value? There has never been a better time to purchase a logo development package.
 

This offer will entitle you to the following

  • Logo Design plus these great BONUS offers for FREE
  • Letterhead Design
  • Envelope Design
  • With Compliments Slip Design
  • Business Card Design for up to 5 names

This BONUS offer is only valid for a limited period, so contact us for more information.

Standing still is not an option.

Tags: business, brand, logo, stationery design, development, brand identity

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