Saturday, 20 November 2010

Website in my pocket..

Every few years, something big happens in the online industry that starts to change the way we do things. The product making the biggest noise in the last few years is around portable web devices - namely smart phones.

A smart phone is a device, that although sold as a phone, largely through communications carriers, offers a host of other functions with the addition of web interactivity being at the forefront. With 174 million sold in 2009 alone (a 15% increase over 2008), the world is on the uptake at a steady rate - but what does it mean for your business?

The non-support of flash from the iPhone was the hottest of topics for a while, but the biggest defining change is the viewing area.

The ability to access the internet any where & at any time, at the push of a button and at virtually no cost, means that people are turning to the web for everything. With a GPS system in most devices, there's no longer a need to remember directions and there's no need to write down addresses or phone numbers any more, because if you forget, a quick search on your phone will give you the answer.

As people rely more on their smart phone, they start to use it as their primary device for sourcing information. If that's the case - what happens when they get to your website? Do you offer a mobile-optimised view so that they can still access your information? Are you considering how they interact with you when they're on the road.

Lets take a look at the Digerati Solutions website (a great place to go if you're looking to build a new website or refresh your existing one by the way).

If you look at the site using your browser on a standard computer screen (1024x768) it may look something like this.


If you look at it on an iPhone  it looks like this...


You will notice that although slightly squashed, the primary content is still readable and the information on offer can clearly be seen where to navigate or browse . This is an example of a design that can work in both formats with little real need for change.

Most retail or service businesses will not be so lucky. If we take a site with a lot more content and a lot more happening on the page, you get a different story. Here's a quick look at a few places that have clearly not addressed the issue.


As you can see, its an awkward experience for a user to interact with the site without zooming into a smaller region, at which point they lose the context of the full page.

If your site is similar to this, you may want to consider getting Digerati to help you develop a smart phone optimised version of your site. This basically rearranges the content on your site to hide some of the larger graphic or display areas, and show a clear path to the content that users may be looking for on the run, such as contact phone, store location or functional areas like shipping or order information. There's no need to tell users to visit a different URL, the website automatically determines if a user has a portable device and sends them to the appropriate layout.

Some smart phone optimised sites offer a revised version of ALL of the content, but some cut down the site and only show the key areas, or the most visited areas of the website. Here are a few examples for you to compare with the full version (click on the image to see the full version). You will notice that in these examples, they don't try to show everything you would see on the full website, but take the most important parts of the site and create a streamlined version.



The key for each business is to decide what is appropriate. It's not good enough to simply look at the existing stats to see how many customers use mobile devices, but at the same time, you need to seriously look at your key clients and target clients to determine what is going to make like easier for them - or what's going to make you stand out as a business they engage with over your competitor.

Talk to Digerati today about an appropriate solution for your website - Lets make a website!



Monday, 1 November 2010

Keep them coming back - Part 2. Living Content

« See also Part 1. Email Marketing

While regular contact will keep you at the front of a client's mind, how can you use your site to get people coming back?

First, we're going to have to look at why someone would want to come back more than once to your site. There are 3 main reasons people re-visit sites.

1. Because they remembered the content they found there was good
2. Because they think you may have new information there this time
3. Because they know there will be new content

The difference between 2 & 3 is perception. If a user visits your site in Sepetember and the last 'latest news' post was January, a user may assume that you update the site infrequently, and also assume that although there might be something new a few months later, the chance is low.

For this article, we want to discuss living content, or content that isn't stagnant. Nothing shows you care less to a potential client than a website that has been neglected, but on the flip side, a website with current, relevant content shows that you not only care about your business, but that you're diligent and committed. Relevant living content is also a great way to make your customers bookmark your site and want to come back to see whats new next time.

Ask anyone that has dynamic content on their site and they will tell you that it;s not easy work to keep it up to date. It takes time and effort, and the results are directly proportionate to the effort you put in, so here's 4 steps to consider when you're ready to add some action to your site.

Step 1 - be realistic when setting up your site.

Committing to updating your website every day or week can sound like a good idea at the time, but very soon you start to realise just how big the task is, and it can quickly become the dreaded thing that never leaves your to-do list. A few ways to alleviate this can be changing a title from 'This Week's News' to 'Featured News' or making the expectation for each post to be quite short. Partnering with similar businesses to take turns writing content that you can share can also be a good way of reducing work.

At the same time, work out what frequency is going to be appropriate for your business. Imagine going to your preferred news website (say news.com.au). If they only added news once a month, how often are you likely to go back there? Probably never, because you'd never know when it will be updated and you have other ways of getting the information, more conveniently.

Step 2 - work out what your clients actually want to see.

There's no point subjecting yourself to the rigmarole of writing content every week or month if it's not directly relevant to your site or the people using your site. If you run an accounting firm, keep the content relevant to accounting or at least a related industry. If you find yourself writing about lawncare, then you're going to see reader drop-off.

Step 3 - keep content concise & interesting

Boring content is a fast road to a shrinking email list. Keep newsletters short, and only provide a teaser to articles with a link to the full story. That way a user can scan the extract and see if its relevant to them before proceeding to the article (this is also good because it drives traffic to your site). Sometimes it may be more beneficial to miss a newsletter than to send out dull or irrelevant information that was put together at the last minute just to get something out.

Step 4 - ask yourself why?

Similar to step 2, this step is what you should ask when adding anything new to your site. Write out the pros and cons for adding a feature to fully evaluate the ROI (return on investment) of your time and money. If there's not a compelling benefit to adding a feature, don't bother. Once you've added the feature (say a news feed), make sure you ask yourself every time you post something 'is this going to benefit anyone?'

What are my options?

Okay, so what are your options when it comes to living content? Here's a few examples that might work for different sites.

1. Newsletter / Blog
2. Latest News
3. Social Media Feed (facebook or twitter)
4. Photo Of The Day
5. User Generated Content (maybe a topic for a future article)

Some low maintenance options are;

1. A news feed from an third party source
2. A twitter search feed (searches other tweets that include a specific tag or phrase)
3. Randomly selected featured products

Some examples of living content

Here's a few examples of Digerati sites that have regularly updated content

1. The Sea Life
Updated every day with some photos and surf report.

2.  Inaburra School
Highlights an event calendar and latest news

3. Olive Tree Media
Latest news & featured products


How can we help you?


Talk to Digerati today if you're interested in bringing your site to life with living content.




Sunday, 18 July 2010

Keep them coming back - Part 1. Email Marketing

Having issues keeping your clients coming back to your site for more? In this series we're going to look at a few techniques that can help keep your customers focused on spending money with you.

There's a few things that every business can learn from the marketing tactics of the big online brands, local and abroad. Amazon, Ebay, Walmart & Travelocity (or WebJet for a local comparison). All of these brands have aggressive online marketing and use strategic techniques designed to draw users back to their websites.

Not all of these techniques are going to work for every business, but you should be able to find at least one that can be tailored a little to suit your situation. Chat to Digerati today about how we can customise a marketing campaign for you.

Part 1. Email Marketing

Of the 5 sites listed, only Ebay sends regular text-based newsletters to members. This is because all of them send frequent purchase related emails on a more regular basis, so the need for newsletters are negated. In exchange of the straight newsletter, these big businesses have realised the value of putting deals or special offers in front of the consumer rather than a page of text.

This may be a surprise to some business owners out there, but the majority of the time, your customers generally don't care what you have to say, all the care about is how you can benefit them. Make sure your email contains something that will have the user saying 'I'm glad I didn't delete that email', and you're going to want to do it within about 10 seconds of them looking at your email (or less).

I suggest leading with some kind of time-limited promotional offer. Maybe it lasts 12 hours or maybe its a deal of the day, but something that leads with a reason to read it now and not later. Follow it with some value added or time-relevant sell. This doesn't need to be a discounted product, but could be highlighting a product that has some topical or current event connection. It may be a product related to an upcoming sporting event, or hallmark event like Valentines Day.

You're going to want to commit to a time line that's appropriate with what you're capable of producing and not annoying your customer base. That may be once or twice a week, it may be every second week, but commit to being consistent, both in your timing and your content.

As soon as you start sending emails with any kind of frequency, you're going to lose some customers - that's natural, but a database of 400 people that read and look forward to your weekly updates is much more beneficial than a list of 1000 people who delete your 'every few months' emails.

Its a good idea to keep these types of emails short. Keep blocks of text to a minimum and make sure you keep the focus on the benefit to the reader. Add images, but keep them to a minimum as well to reduce the risk of them not being seen, or your email ending up in a spam filter.

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While email campaigns are effective at getting back in front of your customer's vision, it really only useful for those businesses that have a database of people who have opted into a newsletter, but not so helpful if you're just starting the site.

Note though, if you ARE starting a new site, we always recommend that you include at least a way for visitors to sign up to receive latest news or special offers. That way when you decide to do it, you've got your list. There are very specific laws about just creating your own database with email addresses you have in your contact list.

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Chat with us today about customising a marketing plan to suit you.



Thursday, 8 April 2010

Jumping into social media

Social media (SM) is the new buzz for companies looking at attracting new and untapped revenue, but the opportunity for actually making money seems to be very hit and miss.

Possibly the most well-known of the big players are Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, but there are literally thousands of sites making up the landscape.

Each site has it's own niche group of users and its own niche market of consumers. It's therefore no great surprise that each needs to be leveraged differently, depending on your marketing goal and objectives. Although it heavily seems to favor the service industries more than say retail, there's examples of almost all industries doing well when the right strategy is used. Sometimes it's the combination of SM sites that form the full brand experience.

Here's a rundown of the 3 mentioned and how someone may use each to gain some exposure. In this example we'll use an imaginary company 'Bill's Photography'. We'll assume Bill is a freelance photographer working from his home in Cronulla trying to get more local projects.

Facebook
  • Bill would create a professional 'fan' site and post a selection of his work on the site (with due permission of course).
  • Bill gets his friends to become 'fans' of his business. This means that any time Billmakes an update to the section (either a text note or a new photo), his fans are notified.
  • Bill would 'tag' people in the photos who are then notified that a photo of them is online and they can make a comment on the photo. A note is made on a 'tagged' persons profile and in turn their friends can see the photo.
  • Bill's fanpage would link back to his main website which would list a more comprehensive portfolio and encourage people to hire him for specific services.
  • Adding new photos regularly will keep your name in front of your fans.
Since facebook relies heavily on the friend / acquaintance model, you need to work through your existing networks, and leverage the fact that your clients have loads of friends too, and many of them are likely to be in a similar location as your original client.

Twitter
  • Bill creates a twitter profile specifically for his business (keep business and personal tweeting separate).
  • Bill follows a number of globally well known people in his industry.
  • Bill follows as many local people as he can find.
  • Bill participates in conversations of people talking about photography and photography techniques.
  • Bill uses hashtags to index his services & post at least daily about a service that he offers.
  • Bill offers 'hot' time-sensitive deals which only last a few hours.
  • Bill searches for people talking about needing photographers and sends a short note if they're local or he can be of assistance in their specific case.
  • Bill uses a twitter application such as tweetdeck to manage his groups so he knows which are his hot local leads and which are just industry jabber.
  • Bill re-tweets interesting posts from the industry or tweets that others have made about him / his services.
Twitter is much more of an open global community than a closed local one, but there are generally groups of locals wherever you are. It may be people that follow a local radio station, or community groups. This can be a lot of work, but it can be a good exercise in networking. Just don't try to be a salesman - it doesn't go very far on twitter.

Linked In
  • Bill would create a detailed profile.
  • Bill would join industry specific and local groups.
  • Bill would write articles about his photography projects and maybe some case studies about the background to some of his work.
  • People in the groups would see Bill as a regular and active photographer, and his insight will help people see that he's not just a point and shoot guy, he really understands his profession.
LinkedIn is a lot more industry focused, but great for networking. Having a LinkedIn profile listed on your site can help clients see that you're interacting with the professional community.

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Some or all of the above may seem like a completely different language, and to a certain extent it is - even to people that use the services already.

In summary, Social Media relies on manual labour to actually generate anything meaningful, but since very few of your competitors are probably in the space utilising it, so you might as well start before they're all there and the strategy needs to adapt to the new climate.

Talk to us today about how you can leverage Social Media for your own business.




Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Facebook - worlds' favourite website

Is it to anybody's surprise that Facebook is now the worlds' most popular website? We think not. For a company with next to no renumeration plan, they still exist!

Our customers have had mixed experiences tapping into the new 'social media marketing', we believe it is a strategy worth considering. But a word of warning not from a web designer but a Facebook user, companies can get annoying on Facebook! Have something worth saying when you open your mouth online.

Please leave feedback on your response to social media marketing.




Saturday, 23 January 2010

myCMS 5

Websites are complicated things. At Digerati we endeavor to make things easier for the customer.

myCMS Version 5 has been a year in the making and will be launched within a month. We are very excited what this means for you and how we can better provide a simpler website system.