Re-designing your website can be a good idea if it has looked the same for years. It can also be an excellent way to reach new markets and attract new customers. We have listed the key factors to consider before starting the process of modernizing your site that will help you increase your chances of getting more leads, increase conversation and overall revenue.
Don’t skip the strategy.
Strategy is the foundation and holds all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Ask yourself; What do you want to achieve with the website? What do you want the user to do when visiting the site? No matter if the website is for a company, product, or service, a solid strategy must be implemented prior to design. When outsourcing the website project to an agency, having a deep understanding of the business structure and ability to differentiate the business’ value is essential. By uncovering how the primary objective of both your business relates to the new website, the designers will be able to visually translate the business’ mission, vision and philosophy.
Something Old, Something New.
Research the latest technology and the potential challenges and obstacles of selecting specific programs and platforms. For example, part of your team may be intrigued by a Flash website. However, what they may not know is that most mobile devices do not support Flash, making your site not easily viewable from anything other than a computer. Luckily, there are alternative solutions that are functional, visually pleasing, and that don’t involve loosing any potential new customers.
Check out the current state of your website.
What pages are getting most visits and how long are visitors staying? Do most users leave your homepage after 3 seconds? How can you change this? This is all important information that will be a decisive factor for the success of the website and the business. Look at the analytics of your site. Setting up certain accounts will aid you in tracking analytics, stats and set future goals for the website.
If the site has not been updated recently, there will most likely be some outdated and irrelevant content. See if there are better ways to present your content like video, sliders, and/or in pdf format. Analytics will be beneficial here to understand the user and how you can reach them more effectively.
Make sure you’re asking yourself and your employees the right questions so that your site ends up serving your best interests and contributes to the growth of your company.
Incorporating social media into your marketing efforts is essential in this digital world. While some businesses have decided to embark on this on their own, by assigning the task to their marketing department, others have turned to what they consider to be the most cost-effective solution – hiring a summer intern.
From the perspective of the Gen Y population, a “deep understanding of social media” or “experience launching viral digital campaigns” is what they do on a daily basis – updating their Twitter statuses every 5 minutes or creating new groups on Facebook.
Image: Business Insider
Sure, these students may claim they are “Social Media Experts” because they know how to upload a YouTube video or follow a Twitter hashtag. But, they may not possess the essential communication skills and strategy experience that are required to move your social media efforts forward.
Below we have listed some of the pros and cons of hiring a college intern or relying on rather than sticking with an external agency.
·If you are looking to bring on talent at the end of the summer, a summer intern is a great excuse to give someone a trial run before handing over a contract
·Summer interns can provide valuable insight if you are launching a campaign or your company target market is the 18-24 age group
·College students know how to chat with their friends on Twitter, but they often forget the purposes of managing this for a company rather than for fun
·Students may not be committed to your company the same way that an agency is, especially if they are not getting paid or receiving minimal compensation
·Agencies have worked with numerous companies with various needs, therefore they have familiar with best practices and understand what works better than someone who has only played with social media for personal purposes
·Summer interns require quite a bit of training to educate them on your company’s messages and core values
Interns are great assets for any business, but after you have spent numerous hours, endless effort, and invested valuable resources on building your brand online, it can be risky to leave a public media channel open to someone who is unfamiliar of the foundation of your company. Social media is your company’s face to the world. Make sure you know this face, and most importantly, that the face knows you and your company.
Until recently, blogging was seen as more of an extracurricular activity rather than a corporate marketing tool. However, in the age of SEO and thought leadership, blogging can now be an effective and fun way to promote your company, share recent events and create a platform on which to share your personality.
A mediabistro Blogging panel that we recently attended got us thinking about what we value in a corporate blog and how one can be leveraged to promote marketing efforts. Below are some tips if you are looking to start or grow your blog:
Streamline your content. Select a clear and consistent messaging strategy that is in line with your company’s industry and communications goals. Consider what those interested in your company may want to learn more about and how you can promote your company’s expertise through insightful, related content.
Create a posting schedule. The most frequently visited blogs are those that are constantly refreshed with new information to keep readers engaged and interested. Whether you decide to post twice a week or every day, create a schedule and stick to it.
Vary post lengths and styles. You don’t have to write a 1,000-word, research-heavy article every time you update your blog. It’s ok to incorporate quick thought pieces with longer, thought-provoking posts. If you’re so inclined, you can also add videos and photos to spice things up and add life to your blog.
Talk to your readers. While it’s important to keep in mind that you’re representing a company on a corporate blog, it’s also nice to know that there’s an actual person behind the words. Make sure your blog has a space for readers to comment. Use the comment section to build a relationship with your readers by responding to their questions and thanking them for reading.
Be an authority. Any blog, especially one you are using to enhance your company’s online presence, is the perfect place for you to demonstrate that you are an authority in your industry. Write with confidence and stay on topic.
If you want to check out some companies that are doing a great job at corporate blogging, here is a list of 15 blogs that are on the right path. Enjoy and good luck!
When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, the idea of a branded mobile application on a high-quality Apple product quickly caught the intrigue of marketers across the world. Although the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone to allow branded applications, it sparked the rush for every company to out-do the competition with the most engaging and unique application to appeal to an audience constantly seeking stimulation and entertainment.
Since the original iPhone made its début, the number of mobile apps in the iTunes store has increased by leaps and bounds. An InformationWeek article from April 6 stated that 2010 would see the number of mobile application downloads increase to almost 6 billion applications, up from 2.4 billion downloads in 2009.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t just include applications designed for the iPhone – there are now thousands of apps available for every type of smartphone on the market. And with the introduction of the iPad and competing tablets, this marketing medium will only continue to thrive, especially as technology allows for more and more advanced features.
Have you considered creating a mobile application for your brand? The positive brand equity that comes with a properly executed application could definitely make it worth your while. But there are a number of considerations to review before pushing ahead blindly to create a mobile application just because it’s what the competition is doing. It’s important to take a strategic look at what you can do to make your application as relevant as possible to your audience.
A CNN source was quoted saying“At the heart of apps that have been successful and that will continue to be successful are apps that are practical and allow people to do something that they weren’t able to do before.” In addition, you want your application to be one that properly resonates with your brand and keeps the user engaged.
When thinking about building an application for your brand, consider:
Will this augment your customer’s experience with your brand?
What level of engagement are you looking to achieve?
How will consumers relate the application to your brand?
What value is this application providing to its users?
Many brands have been successful in creating mobile applications to enhance customer experience in a way that can’t be achieved through static webpages. Restaurants and amusement parks, such as Disney World, have created apps that allow visitors to upload line wait times in real-time. Yahoo! created a fully functional application for Fantasy Football season, which let customers trade players and make adjustments to their fantasy teams up until kick-off.
Consider how to translate the services that your business provides into a value that consumers can benefit from when they’re on the go. Given the huge number of applications in the iTunes store today, how will you stand out from the competition? Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and challenge your vision of what might be involved in the best application that you can possibly create.
When you are trying to determine how successful your campaign will be or is, you must first determine what metrics makes the most sense for your specific needs. These metrics may be in the form of either quantitative or qualitative measurement. Quantitative metrics can be used to track and measure your results in social media based on pure numbers; followers/fans, tweets, etc. You can view results immediately by tracking the increasing number of fans or followers participating in your campaign. Tracking analytics that show click-through rateswill determine how effective your campaign has been at converting those fans to consumers.
While sales are often the main goal, it is important to remember the value of increased viewership to your site. Although they may not be immediately converted, you may have sparked the interest of a new visitor, causing them to return to your site, and thus increasing the chances of a purchase.
The qualitative results of a social media campaign are the customer engagement and brand awareness you build. What direct interaction with your consumers allows is trust building and feedback. Products and services can be shaped by this feedback and thus produce a positive return. What you do with the quantitative results of a campaign, your fans followers and site visits, is just as important as the numbers.
Qualitative metrics, also known as user-generated content, is in fact measuring the word-of-mouth marketing your brand is receiving. Often times, this is the main factor in a purchasing decision. With social media being the new word-of-mouth, using social media for marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools. This organic conversation about a product and/or brand is viewed as unbiased genuine opinion from consumers and holds great value in the marketplace.
Whether you’re looking to track numbers or create brand loyalty, quantitative and qualitative measurement has the same goal: increase sales. Each is important, but what’s more important is to know how you will define success.
Determining your objectives sounds simple. But do you really know what you want? Success only comes after you’ve taken the steps to get there. You want people to recognize, trust, and choose your brand. On top of that, you want consumers coming back for more. Online marketing campaigns can help you reach your objectives; whether those goals are brand recognition, customer engagement, lead generation, or increased traffic to your website.
The swoosh, golden arches, and apple are just a few examples of how companies have effectively built their image in our minds. Strong branding allows your brand to stand out among competitors. Through online marketing, you increase your view to consumers, prominently displaying your brand’s message and engaging them. With the need for transparency being a priority today more than ever before, online marketing is one of many avenues used to remain present in your consumer’s everyday life.
Businesses have three main objectives: make money, save money, and build brand equity. Having access to consumers at your fingertips, literally, will allow you to make an impression on your target audience in real time, actively generate and convert leads, and act in a more cost-effective manner than when utilizing traditional marketing techniques; thus maintaining the main objectives.
As Social Media has taken the stage with many brands, coordinating between your company’s Traditional Online Media and Social Media aims can be confusing. Social should be viewed as online PR coupled with brand management, engagement and active advertising and messaging. When defining your goals or strategy, engage a mediator that will help you keep on target while educating you on key concepts that you or your company may be unfamiliar with. Also, keep in mind that there are both Quantitative and Qualitative metrics within online Media and Social Engagement. They vary by industry and company – you’ll want to define them as a baseline for your projects.
Obtaining your objectives, once you have clearly defined what they are, can be a simple process. If your online marketing campaign raises brand awareness, generates leads, converts leads, or engages your consumers, then you have met your metrics for success.
Talking to people is a free marketing tool. It can often lead to meaningful connections, referrals, or at the very least, beginning a rapport with someone as you enhance the credibility of your business or brand. Nothing is more effective than building relationship, having conversations and making connections.
So get out there! Develop a monthly networking calendar, go out with the right mentality, build your network, jump into the conversation, and put a friendly, receptive face to your brand. If you are feeling really ambitious, host a meet up event and bring the people to you. By distinguishing yourself as a go-getting networker, you will put yourself in great a position to get more business.
With that said, it is important not to forget about your current customers. Developing a relationship built on trust through honest interaction and clear responsive communication, your clients will see your worth and value your advice. People are more likely to work with someone they trust and have a personal relationship with, than those they do not.
2010 is the year that online marketing trends really take off. Businesses, moms, companies, vendors, consumers are all out there cruising the web. Twitter, Facebook, Google, iPhone apps, Bogs, YouTube: are the new vernacular and everybody using it and doing it. If you are out to market your goods, turn on your computer and get to work.
With real time benefits, more interaction and connectivity, and audience engagement, online marketing has become more hands on than ever before. For the first time, business can begin to understand their audience in an up close and personal manner. Who they are, where they spend their time online and how they spend their money–and use that knowledge to create strategy accordingly. Business have already started to employ SEO, RSS syndication, bookmarking, pull marketing, and audience sourcing through Social Media platforms to get their products/services directly to their market.
It is important to remember, although marketing is taking a turn to digital, creating synergy between online and traditional campaigns is still crucial to effectively reaching your marketing aspirations. By employing traditional techniques like using a consistent brand and message identity across all channels and understanding objectives and metrics, utilizing these tools to the online sphere will boost any marketing campaign.
One of the most cost-efficient ways of entering into the New Year is developing a solid business and marketing strategy. While it may be time consuming, the time spent developing a strong plan of attack, will not only save you money all year long, but it will give you a clear vision of how you will reach your revenue goals.
Developing an approach is a lot like performing detective work; you have to become the Sherlock Holmes of strategy. Asking the right questions, uncovering clues of the market, understanding the players involved all in order to obtain the correct answers to solve your business case.
Strategy begins with research. Good ole’ fashion research it acts as your magnifying glass for analyzing the market, recognizing and learning from competitors and having a thorough understanding of your target audience and how to reach them. By defining your customer, identifying who they are, how they make their purchasing decisions, what demographic they are in, will allow you to strategize an effective plan around how you will reach them and secure their business.
After discovering the aspects of the market you can then determine a realist budget
Thinking like Holmes
for your marketing campaigns and prioritize where you should focus your assets and attention on.
Sherlock gets it when he says, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. (A Scandal in Bohemia)” So go out there and get your data and form your theories of how you will succeed in this New Year.
The story of your brand is not determined by words alone. A solid visual brand identity is key to creating positive associations with your brand and boosting your brand’s credibility. When a potential customer visits your website for the first time, their first impression will be based on its visual content. You want to make a strong first impression that is consistent with the core values of your brand and stands out from the crowded digital landscape. When creating your visual brand identity, there are a few important things to remember.
1. Visualize your mission
The most successful websites aren’t the ones that just look pretty. You want your website to have substance and depth. Make a statement with your website by getting back to basics and letting your mission statement and value proposition of your business determine your design choices. Choose powerful colors and images that truly embody what your business is all about and what makes your brand special and unique.
2. Be consistent
Since your brand will appear in many different places both on and offline, keeping your branding consistent is key. You don’t want to confuse your potential customers with distracting or inconsistent branding. Create brand guidelines that cover everything from colors and fonts to use to image placement. Make sure that your whole marketing team is aware of the proper branding procedures.
3. Think about the action
What do you want visitors of your website to do? What information do you want the consumer to remember after they’ve logged off? Visually highlight important information through the use of boxes or side bars. Differentiate key steps by switching up color or font of the text. Whatever method you choose, visually guide the user experience throughout all of your online media.
Keeping a consistent and dynamic brand is essential to your success. Always keep your consumer and the end-action in mind to ensure that your visual branding stands out of the crowd.