Are you looking for some ways to get motion and video built into your brand? Here are four tips to get you started.
Get an early start. Motion designers can help you tell your brand story in unique ways, and including them in the development stage of your brand be beneficial in telling the story of your brand. Remember, motion and video is an essential part of branding, not just an add-on.
Team effort. Give motion designers, cinematographers and animators a collaborative opportunity to work with the rest of your branding team. Motion designers have a different way of thinking that can shed new light on ideas, and it’s valuable for them to hear the discussions of how your brand should come together.
Be flexible. Allow motion designers the flexibility to push the brand in new and different directions. Often times a video can lead to a whole new direction in brand experience that can be retooled into web and print solutions that further push effective multi-channel marketing, thus driving brand recognition. It doesn’t hurt to play a bit and stretch into new territory. You never know how your brand could be elevated from the experience.
Build a library. Lastly, give your work a place to live and breathe. Keep an archive of your motion projects online on channels such as Vimeo and YouTube. This can be an effective branding tool, and is nice to compile as your brand changes and evolves. Plus, older videos can still be accessed and enjoyed for years to come.
It isn’t hard to start integrating motion and video into your brand, and the payoff can be tremendous. If you have any questions about how to start the process for your business, give us a shout.
So you’ve finally decided to run a Facebook contest. That’s great! Social media contests can improve engagement and likes, and encourage your audience to interact with your brand. Besides, everyone loves the chance to win something!
Give away something people actually want to win
If you make consumable products, you have a built in prize. If not, try looking into branded hats, mugs, t-shirts, keychains, or anything that makes sense for your business. You might be surprised how excited people will get over a plastic cup or a notepad. If those don’t seem to be good options, you can always give away a gift certificate.
Add pictures of the prize, if possible
Engaging content has swiftly shifted more and more to video and photo content and if your Facebook fans can actually see the prize they have a chance to win, they are much more likely to interact with your contest. This is your chance to get creative by arranging the prizes in a way that looks the most appealing.
Create a strategy
What do you want to get out of this contest? More engagement? More interaction? More new likes? Take the time to think about what you want out of the contest and plan the terms around it. For example, if you want more engagement, you might want to ask your audience to like and comment on the post. Or if you want more new page likes, you might run a contest to get to your next milestone. Keep it easy and engaging, but somehow tied to your brand.
Promote contest posts
This is important! You can’t just rely on word of mouth or shares for your contest to do well. In order to get the most engagement you need to reach the largest possible audience. As most of you may know, Facebook’s algorithms don’t show every single post to every single member of your audience. Even if you have a small budget, promoting your posts is definitely affordable.
While the contest is going on, be sure to interact with the audience as they are commenting. You don’t have to like or comment on every single post, but some engagement is necessary. When you host a social media contest, you’re bound to get a variety of comments, so make sure you’re checking them regularly and commenting as necessary.
Choose your winner fairly
It might be tempting to choose a winner who often interacts with your page or maybe even someone you know. Don’t. I use Fanpage Karma’s “Good Luck Fairy” to randomly pick a winner from likes, comments, shares or a combination. The best part? You can download a spreadsheet of everyone who interacted with the contest so you can have a hard copy of your winners.
Notify winners and send prizes promptly
Don’t delay with notifying winners. They are excited to hear who won, and I’m willing to bet you’ll be excited to notify them after you’ve ended the contest. Facebook has recently allowed businesses to contact winners directly, but it’s also not a bad idea to write a post notifying the winner or winners.
Study your analytics
Look at your engagement numbers and percentages to see how well you did and learn from it. If you didn’t get the engagement that you hoped, you might want to switch gears and go with a different strategy. Or maybe you want to spend more on advertising or give away a bigger prize.
At the end of the day, running a contest on Facebook should be fun! It’s exciting to see people get so pumped up over winning a prize. You users will be more engaged and watching you to see what contest you’re running next, which leads to more traffic to your Facebook page and eventually to your site.
Having spent nearly 20 years in the web development field, I was an early adopter and strong advocate of the “mobile first” approach that has recently came on strong.
It forces many good habits that, frankly, the industry should have been paying attention to all along. Prioritizing the right content for the visitor’s needs just makes sense.
Mobile first means exactly that – considering what is most important for smartphone and tablet readers to see when they reach your website from those devices. It is (and should be!) a different experience from the desktop.
As Geoff detailed in his recent “Mobile Only is Foolish” post, TKG definitely does not advocate the easily-confused idea of mobile only. Mobile only is very different than mobile first, and it’s easy to see where people may be fooled into mobile only.
Commonly, what happens in mobile only is that a desktop experience existed and then a completely separate mobile experience is considered. With this approach, the likelihood that the brand’s intended experience across devices becomes increasingly fragmented. What happens is you end up cramming all of the information into the smaller displays or just cut it out entirely. Just having a link to everything that you would on the desktop doesn’t mean you’ve successfully delivered the right experience.
Not to mention what it says to Google and your SEO rankings.
A mobile first approach takes more thought and time to plan, but the return is tremendous. Desktop displays afford much more space to play with, and typically require more bandwidth and technology to produce a desired experience. The beauty of a mobile first approach is that the core experience is maintained throughout the site, no matter what device your visitor is using. The mobile experience is delivered with the minimum required components and then is progressively enhanced as the display, bandwidth and technology allows.
Here’s your strategy for doing it right:
Goals: Mobile first thinking immediately brings to the surface the need for clear goals for the site. Most often a conversion is desired, whether that be a phone call, a lead form or an e-commerce sale. This usually isn’t a one-step path. And often, the goal(s) of a mobile user are different than a desktop user, so we must make accommodations for those realities. Some simple things are quick access to things like directions, hours or click-to-call. These are things you might keep available on a desktop experience, but likely tone down.
Content First:Again, with limited screen space, mobile first thinking forces our content to be focused on the most critical messaging. So, as your content is developed, key messaging should be separated from their expanded topic(s), while allowing both to be present for the visitor. This decision-making typically bodes very well then for larger display experiences by allowing a great amount of flexibility when presenting content. Of course, to execute that focus on key messaging, the designer must have the actual content prior to design to properly present it for the varied experiences.
Navigation:Navigation menus can present a substantial challenge, particularly on large sites. Taking a mobile first approach again brings these challenges to the surface early on and facilitates the need (opportunity) for structural prioritization. When possible, simplify. Long lists of navigation are forced to be tucked away as a utility to the visitor to allow key messaging to remain in focus. Remember, out-of-sight is often out-of-mind. The saving grace is that if your goals are clearly identified and your content provides a supporting path, those navigation menus should be able to remain a utility (in non-commerce websites).
Contracting a reputable digital partner to redesign your website from a mobile first approach isn’t the quickest, but I know without a doubt that it’s the most effective. A side benefit is that you only pay to maintain one “website” instead of multiple, which means that Google stays happy too and you won’t get dinged on the search marketing implications of having multiple websites.
Invest in creating the mobile experience first, put focus on your goals and reap the rewards of a better experience for those interacting with your business. As with any change, it’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to move your business forward.
Online marketing is a constantly changing industry, and with each new evolution comes a host of new challenges and opportunities. That’s why, at the end of each year, we take time to reflect on the year behind us, and think about where our industry is heading.
So as 2015 comes to a close, we’re putting together our list of digital trends that we predict will have the biggest impact in the upcoming year. Read on for an exclusive look into the digital trends projected to shake up 2016:
1. Increasing Need for Marketing Automation
Let’s be honest, most visitors won’t make a purchase the first time they visit your site. That’s because it takes time and repeat exposure to form the kinds of relationships that lead to conversions.
In order to facilitate meaningful relationships in 2016, it will become essential to filter content and tailor your messaging to meet your audience’s needs. Personalized follow-up content goes a long way in establishing relevant touchpoints with your audience, and could make a serious impact on your conversion rates.
2. Immersive, Interactive Content will be King
In 2016, interactive content will become necessary for a successful digital presence. No longer is text-based content enough to tell your story. Without immersive, visual storytelling, your content will simply not be as effective in 2016.
Here’s a particularly compelling example from BuzzStream: In 2013, the most popular pieces of content from both BuzzFeed and the New York Times had something in common. And it was not that they were well-researched, journalistic pieces. They werequizzes. And this trend is not going away. As we move into the New Year, effective content will need to actively engage your audience. Passive content simply won’t cut it.
3. Data Will Help Guide Digital Efforts
Consumer behavior has become increasingly complex in recent history, a trend that we expect to continue into 2016. More sophisticated data analysis will be necessary in the New Year in order to understand this complex consumer behavior and guide digital marketing efforts going forward.
If you’re not thinking about customer relationship management, usability or cross-channel marketing, you’re likely doing your audience and your business a disservice. By understanding the ways in which your users interact with your brand in the digital space, you are much more likely to be successful in your digital marketing efforts.
4. Mobile Marketing is No Longer Optional
The use of mobile marketing will continue to be one of key digital trends in 2016. In order for your website and supporting marketing materials to be effective, they must lend themselves to an easy, streamlined mobile experience.
Trust us; geo-targeting, social advertising and responsive design are not just passing fads. As marketers learn more about the ways users interact with their mobile devices, they will continue to push the envelope of mobile marketing – and it’s important that your business doesn’t fall behind.
From responsive design to social and content marketing, TKG has the skills and resources to help you prepare your online presence for the New Year. Contact a member of our team to discuss your digital needs for the upcoming year.
Have other predictions for 2016’s biggest digital trends? Share them in the comments!
What is interactive content? It’s content that engages your users beyond clickable links and calls to action. The 21st century website user demands content that he or she can digest, use and interact with. He or she is selective about which websites he or she engages with, and which websites ultimately get his or her business. While having those important written components on your website are absolutely crucial to pick up Google’s feelers, in order to add that extra “oomph” to your website, you should add some interactive content.
Let’s look at five ways you can add interactive content to your site:
Photos/videos: They may seem so simple, but a good photo gallery of your projects (before, during and after completion) can go a long way. Add calls to action or invite users to submit their own photos of the work you’ve completed for them and you’ll have even more photos to add to your gallery.Videos also play a crucial role in developing interactive content. Use videos to introduce your company to website users, hold a contest (see below), demonstrate case studies, show your business in action or to empower your audience to take action.
Social media: Your company should be have some sort of social media presence. Period. Whether you’re active among all social channels or just dipping your toes into LinkedIn or Google+, make sure you take the time to nurture your accounts and community management. Don’t take the power of social media for granted. On a smaller scale, social media allows you to easily handle issues with customers on a public forum. But you can also use social media to create interactive content. Invite your users to share their experiences with your brand. Ask users for recipes using your product or to submit photos/videos of them interacting with your product. If you’re a service-based industry, ask them to who their favorite person to work with in your office is. No matter what industry, there’s always a way to create interactive content for your users.
Contests: Who doesn’t love to win something free? If your users see you giving away a gift card or product on your site or through social media, they will flock to your contests. This method has been very successful with some of our clients, especially those who give away branded or consumable products. Hold a contest online or through your social media channels asking users to “like” or “comment” or “retweet” your posts and just watch your engagement and brand trust grow.
Challenges: Similar to contests, challenges pose another way to engage your users and to get them involved in your product. One of our clients, Clearwater Systems Ohio, a water softener company, recently held a “Drink More Water Challenge” that was met with great success. Users even took the challenge in a completely unplanned direction by boasting how much water they drank each day—something that wasn’t even written into the contest!
Quizzes: If you’re appealing to the younger generation, a quiz is a perfect way to build brand trust and to interact with users. You can write your quiz to lead users to answers to questions like “Which product am I?” or you can write quizzes that are relevant to your industry, such as the quizzes we wrote for one of our jewelry clients.
Interactive content empowers your users through social media channels or through your website and helps them understand and interact with your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “fun” brand like food or candy or an industrial brand, you can absolutely benefit from interactive content.
Let’s just get this out of the way. Microsoft cannot make a browser that satisfies everyone. If you remember a few months ago, I wrote about how the excitement around IE’s demise at the hands of a brand new browser was losing its appeal to me. At that time a look at the touted new features and work Microsoft had put into IE over the last few years left me feeling ‘meh’ about Edge.
Windows 10 has been out for a little over a month now and as promised, Edge is front and center. Technically it does what a browser is supposed to do – show you a webpage. Its rendering feels snappy and its minimal interface falls in line with what other browsers are doing. Actually trying to use it however seems like it is a very 1.0 release to me. Refinements found in more mature browsers are missing, and in some ways it actually falls short when compared to IE.
Let’s start with my biggest annoyance. As a web developer, I often times have to copy/paste part of the address for a task. To do this, I simply put my cursor where I want to start, and click. If I needed “/web-development-portfolio” below, I’d put my cursor at the ‘/’
So, what happens when I do that? Edge suddenly fills in a lot more of the URL and my cursor isn’t where I intended. The start of the highlight below shows where my cursor was after the click.
Next, I rely on “Home” to get me back to some starting pages I need often through the day. See the address bar image above? Do you see a home icon? Nope, it’s not there by default. Granted, you can turn it on under the hidden ‘Advanced Settings’ but it’s pretty well buried for people like my dad so I’ll get the tech support phone call when he finally moves to 10. Ok, so it’s turned on – you would expect it to take you back to the page or group of pages define in the “Open with” settings, right? Wrong, you get a single URL option that is different from what you see when you first open the browser.
Speaking of the Open With setting, which defines what you see when you start Edge, what a cheap ploy by Microsoft to get traffic to their online properties. MSN and Bing both get top billing for the ‘specific page or pages’ option with a sort of cryptic “Custom” option that allows you to enter a URL 1 at a time for multiple tabs. I know this labeling of “Custom” will be another phone call from Dad.
Finally, remember Cortana – Microsoft’s digital personal assistant? As I mentioned last time, it felt like Microsoft knew they had a hit, so they decided to put her into every nook and cranny if it made sense or not. To find her, you highlight text on a page, right click and choose “Ask Cortana” Below shows her response to my selection of “CMS” on a certain web development company’s website. “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? “Food and Drug Administration”? Thanks, Cortana.
Why isn’t the fact that I’m on TKG.com, which Bing knows as a web-development website, taken into consideration for Cortana’s response? I would expect then to see information about “Content Management Systems” which would be helpful in the context of the site I’m currently on.
I tried, really I did, for a week or so to make Edge my default browser. In the end it just has too many rough edges and no compelling reasons to stick to it. For now it’s back to the dynamic duo of Google Chrome and Internet Explorer as my browsers of choice.
When marketing your business on the Internet, sometimes it may be sensible to offer visitors more than one website. But in most cases, having too many websites can be a detriment to your company.
Over the past two years, we have been asked our opinion concerning having more than one website. Should your company have more than one website? Maybe, but owning numerous websites, we found, can cause lots of challenges.
4-8 years ago: the multiple website mentality
There was a trend—especially with larger corporations—to create websites for each brand or for every whim that came out of the marketing department. For example, if a company wanted to market a new product or service, the quick plan was to build a website around it.
“It’s new. It needs its own website.”
The concept seemed solid: let’s create one site that is all about this product or service, and Google will reward us for it. Oh, how times have changed. Today, that just isn’t the case.
Today’s web and business
Google has gotten smarter. The world’s biggest search engine can tell what type of device you are using, not to mention your location, your behaviors, likes and interests as well as the websites that stand the best chance of meeting your needs.
The Internet has changed; so websites need to adapt quickly. Today, your business or organization must have a web presence for everyone. Your audience is on all devices: desktop, tablet and smartphone computers.
Knowing all of this, how are you going to manage a website for each product or service well and manage the information each type of computer user is seeking (e.g. a smartphone user tends to want brief, bullet-point style answers to questions; a desktop user may want to dig deeper into the information, research, etc.)?
In other words, how can you give visitors to your website a great experience so they want to buy from your business?
Answers to the challenges of multiple websites
The following are some reasons why businesses should want fewer websites – perhaps even condense down to one site.
Mobile-friendliness – It’s important to create a great web experience for all users, especially smartphone and tablet users. This most likely means redeveloping your website in what’s known as ‘responsive design.’ This is costly and time consuming. Imagine doing this for every site you own!
Lower costs – You can save development costs and management time when multiple websites are trimmed down into one good site. Development is less time and money. Hosting is less. SSLs are less. Costs of labor to make changes, additions and updates are less when resources are conserved. Less is less.
Easier to manage – I would say one of the greatest expenses of owning a website is the time it takes to add and update pages. And to do it right, you have to dedicate time to manage your website. Otherwise, the site is likely not doing your company much good. Having fewer websites means less time employees will spend logging in, writing and managing text, photos and videos in multiple website admins. It’s much easier to manage all of your company’s content in one location. (Shameless plug alert:You can also save employee time by having us help with writing content, and managing your website– FYI.)
Search engine credibility – If more content is on one domain, and Google is getting really good at understanding what a business has to offer (not to mention if visitors to a website are finding what they are seeking), doesn’t it make sense that you might be able to leverage the strength of having more content on one domain to your advantage? If that content is consistently being updated in one place (instead of having many websites with some stagnant content – who can manage all that and do it well?), wouldn’t it appear to Google that your company’s website is well-maintained with fresh, relevant content for visitors? If so, we bet Google would reward that.
There IS a solution!
The web is challenging. Our clients are busy, and most have a website (or more) and multiple social media platforms to manage. The challenge is to let go of what you don’t need. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions:
Do we need more than one website?
Can we have just one good website?
Where is my audience on social media? (e.g. Are my customers on Facebook and Twitter or are they on LinkedIn?
If you have multiple websites and are loaded down with doing a lot but not doing a lot well, it may be time to find a better way to market your company.
Let’s get together and talk about your customers and your business goals for growth. Let’s put a strategy together for your website and web marketing.
You can’t sneeze twice in a row these days without a new Social platform or app being introduced and claiming to be the best, latest and greatest thing that combines all of the things you love while adding better features and the ability to use it all while operating a Tilt-a-Whirl. Oh, and you MUST have it for your business or you’re a failure at pretty much everything, but mostly life. And your business.
Pardon me, I get a lot of sales emails. Ahem.
ANYWAY, Periscope is one of the newer apps that has been quietly and steadily proving that it really may be the latest and greatest and can be quite the cool little tool for your business. Here are a few fun facts:
It’s a live streaming app owned by Twitter that’s super easy to download and use right on your smartphone. You can also access and watch online (but what fun is that?).
It allows you to tune in to anyone’s live stream and interact in real time by asking questions or tapping the screen to “favorite” (which are in the form of little floating hearts that are surprisingly addictive and fun).
If you miss a live stream, not to worry, the streams are saved as videos on your profile which you can either save to your phone or send to your other favorite platforms, providing the user with multiple options for distribution and editing.
Want to connect with other users? Click and tap around on the map that shows you a worldwide (!) view of current livestreams.
Future Implications? While, of course, many of the streams are random individuals sitting in their living rooms and watching TV (no joke), some streams are being put to great use. Here are a few of the cool/interesting/savvy things I’ve seen on the platform that I think have big implications for the future:
Breaking news. Get there before the news crews and you have access to events long before the pros. This kind of thing has happened a couple of times on the platform already, with individuals capturing fires or other events as they’re happening and documenting the process live.
How tos. I watched a bakery owner show just how she adds decorations to her beautiful and yummy cookies, all while taking questions in real-time from her audience. It was every Food Channel network show, but faster, “more real” and with less corny editing.
Celebrity and public figure live Q&As and talks. I accidentally stumbled on a Periscope of THE Sherri Shepherd as she and a friend sat in a dark theatre waiting for a projectionist to fix a glitch in the movie they were trying to watch. While she had a little unexpected downtime, Shepherd entertained an on-the-spot audience of hundreds while answering questions and making silly comments on her situation. It was hilarious and cool.
What It Means For Your Business So what can Periscope mean for your business? Well, maybe nothing. If you’re like a lot of small to medium-sized businesses who are already scrambling to find and connect with your customers on Social media, you understand that as easy and as fun as it is to be a part of Social media as a user, it’s an entirely different story to use it well as a marketer. You may want to stick with your tried and true methods on Facebook or Pinterest, because it’s working for you already, and if it ain’t broke…
But! If you see a need in your business to connect quickly and in real-time with your customers, Periscope can be a great solution. How about:
…instead of waiting for studio space and a production team help to do the perfect, glossy how to on your latest product, why not give a quick live demo?
…you introduce new employees live and allow your customers to ask them questions and welcome them in real time.
…the head of your company–a well-known public figure who would never have time to write a full blog post for you–jumps on a five minute Periscope to say what he or she has learned lately in the business.
Explore Your Options to Connect The options for marketing through Periscope are as varied as your imagination allows, and cuts out a lot of the legwork of recording video and uploading to YouTube, or taking hours to edit to perfection.
While this other type of video still certain has a heavy and important place in marketing strategy, Periscope is just like its Twitter parent, and allows for quick connection in real time to customers. I personally don’t believe Periscope is a flash-in-the-pan app and is here to stay for the foreseeable future, so it’s worth a look to see if it could fit seamlessly into your marketing strategy.
Of course, with any new thing that clamors for your attention in the landscape of marketing your business, the question isn’t “if” you should use it, but “why.” If it seems to fit with your “why” after a little research, Periscope could take you to the next level in your Social Media presence and give your customers a more intimate, connected look at the way you do business.
Ad extensions are very helpful for people trying to find your website, or are searching for a site within the scope of yours. Ad extensions provide the ability to customize additional elements of your ad outside of specific page links.
Though sitelink extensions are the most popular form of ad extensions, they should not be the only ad extension used. Specifically, callout extensions can be quite helpful in conveying a small message to the ad’s viewer. A callout extension shows a specific callout message that you want to convey, such as specials, or features of your business that make you great. Remember, the goal is to help drive people to your site. One idea would be to use a callout that brings in regular customers or customers from your other advertising media. One other nice feature of callout extensions is that they do not need their own landing pages as sitelinks do. This makes for an easier set up of ads right out the gate for your new campaign, or if you have limited resources for landing page creation.
As seen in the above example, callout extensions are in place saying ‘Free shipping’, ’24-7 customer service’ and ‘Price matching’. Not only do these three callouts provide incentives for someone looking at your ad to click through, they also allow for more description for your ad. Currently there can only be 35 characters per the two allotted lines of a text ad in AdWords. Throwing in promotional callouts allows for a more descriptive and keyword-centric ad, as they show up at the bottom and do not count against the main text’s character count.
The key here is to use callouts in a way that works best for your customers. They can be scheduled to show up at different times of the day, or to be mobile-specific. Some callouts could be used to highlight inventory, such as ‘Stereos, TVs & More’ or promotional callouts such as ‘New Deals Every Day’.
Callout extensions were recently added to one of our client’s ad groups in AdWords. Two of the new extensions were served up with the ads for multiple conversions over the last two months, where the data points to there being fewer conversions. It also shows a lower cost/conversion when these are present as opposed to the whole ad group statistics. In this case, one callout was used to describe the product further, and another was used as an extra a call-to-action. They may not lead directly to a page on your site, but they can contain other important keywords and actions.
Over the years we’ve seen numerous examples where real world tests don’t always match up with stated outcomes.
Another good example is the flurry over responsive design and how it relates to search engine rankings. Our industry–TKG included–is really good playing into the hysteria. If you’ve followed the industry conversation, you’d think that all websites that are non-responsive would have been removed from Google’s index by now.
The reality is that most sites are not responsive; Google, however, still has to return relevant results to satisfy its users.
Don’t misunderstand me. I believe sites need to be responsive, but for the right reason: because human beings are accessing sites on mobile devices.
We have said for years to our clients, “Don’t do anything to your website just for Google.” If you’re doing it just because Google or your online marketing agency said so then it’s probably not the right move. Make changes to your website because it makes sense for your users and the search engines will have no choice but reward you.
Besides, it’s clear that even Google doesn’t always know how Google works.