Category Archives: Web Development

Want Great Content? Do What You’re Already Doing

One of the biggest concerns I hear when it comes to content is “But we don’t know what to put out there.”

I get it. When you’re involved in the day to day tasks of running your business, it’s tough to think of creating content.

Fortunately, it’s likely you already have good things going on that you can re-purpose, re-use or recycle to make great content. OR, alternatively, you can add something simple to your daily routine that turns into regular content.

But first, allow me to give you a little inspiration.

You might have heard of a little TV hit called Glee, a weekly show about misfit high school students finding their place in the world through music. Maybe you’re a “Gleek” or maybe you think the show is the silliest thing this side of Fonzie jumping the shark, but there’s no denying that this show set a new precedent in cross-channel content marketing.

glee

In fact, ratings aside (which were great the first few seasons), this show set records with singles, albums and even live tours. For instance:

  • The first ever single released by the cast, “Don’t Stop Believin’” received platinum status with over one million sold
  • The cast overtook Elvis Presley as the fastest act ever to have 20 top 40 hits in just 57 weeks (Elvis was 88)
  • By 2011, just two years after the show aired, they had over 36 million digital single sales worldwide
  • By 2011, they had 11 million album sales worldwide
  • The show has several reality spinoffs, DVD and Blu-Ray releases, an iPad app and karaoke games for Wii
  • In 2011, a live tour kicked off…and of course, it wasn’t just a live tour. A concert film based on the tour was released shortly after the tour ended
  • The show has hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who now create content about the show, often uploading tributes, songs and other manifestations of their fandom to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • And how’s this for power? The casts’ cover of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” actually increased sales of Rihanna’s original single by 189%

Glee also inspired the mega-hits of Nashville and Empire, country and hip-hop nighttime soap operas, respectively. These shows also release albums and merchandise based on the music written and performed for the show. Nashville, now in its third season, has released TEN albums, the first of which reached number one on US charts.

Now, I’m not saying you need to release an album for your business (though that could be fun!).

What I am saying is that it’s likely that you’re already doing things for your business that could easily translate to content you can use to market yourself (and maybe even generate more revenue). Glee didn’t create “extra” music to give to the masses…they already had it within the premise of the show; they just figured out new ways to distribute it.

Here are a few ideas to create content from the regular things you do for your business:

  1. Do you release a newsletter? Each news item could be re-used as a mini blog post, told as a quick 60 second update to an iPhone video recorder, or recorded as part of a podcast series.
  2. Do you often answer the same questions for customers over and over? Create an infographic with great visual answers, start a helpful podcast that discusses and educates people on your industry, or start a “Pro Tips” section on your website.
  3. Do you have a dynamic and engaging individual in your company who loves working for you? Give this individual freedom and creative space to create short videos, take photos and post to your Social channels for you, about you!
  4. Does your company have a rich history, complete with old photos or videos left sitting in a box or lonely hard drive? Scan photos and release them regularly to your Facebook page or Instagram account with the hashtag #tbt to give customers a glimpse of all the great things that make you, YOU. It’s especially fun if you work in a technical field and you can show how far you’ve come!
  5. Does your company have a process you do every day? Document this process every day or week with a photo, then show the collage one month, six months or a year later!
  6. Do you have a customer or two that just LOVES what you do? Invite this individual to create content for you, either by showing off how your product or service works, or giving a testimonial.
  7. Do you have a series of pdfs or articles about a certain subject in your industry? Combine and edit this information as a free digital whitepaper that prospects can download in exchange for an email address.
  8. Do you have a core group of very loyal customers who buy your product regularly? Consider creating a membership club where these customers get “insider access” to special prices, exclusive products, and of course, short videos, articles or podcast episodes that talk about how you created something special for them.
  9. Do you have a salesperson or leader within your company who is especially knowledgeable about your products, trends in the industry, or common problems? Record a weekly podcast where this individual discusses a topic for 15-20 minutes. Upload to Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes at the same time every week and invite customers and prospects to listen and share.
  10. Does your company work with the same vendors time and time again? Profile your vendors on video or on your blog, ask them to explain why they love your working relationship, and post to your respective Social channels.

I’m sure there are many more regular things that you’re already doing in your business that can be converted to content. Don’t overthink! When it comes to content, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Nashville has now released two albums of songs by a particular cast member…after those songs already appeared on another album.

It just goes to show you, sometimes content is just about showcasing something you’ve already done in a new and interesting way. So what are YOU already doing?

How to Avoid Social Media Slip-ups

Okay, let’s talk about your social media plan.

If you have one in place, great. If you are still asking yourself what a social media plan is, that’s okay too. You’re in the right place.

Chances are, if your business has a social media presence, you’ve had to deal with some strange comments, unsatisfied customers or even downright nasty reviews. And the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to experience these encounters. Social media mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can avoid them harming your business by following the steps below:Social media symbols

PREVENTION

  • Have a Plan: Always have a plan that outlines what to do in the event of a crisis. Are you suddenly getting bad reviews because of a defective product? Has one of your employees delivered less-than-exceptional customer service? Make sure you have a plan on how to deal with comments, @ mentions, reviews or if your business page goes viral in a bad way.
  • Bring in the Experts: Do you have someone dedicated to watching your accounts? You should. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes monitoring your social media presence, but a trained PR person will be able to react to just about any situation that comes up. You should have someone dedicated to at least several hours a week — maybe more depending on the size of your business and the size of your social media following — to managing posts and interacting with the users on your pages.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

  • Act Quickly: Do not let complaints or issues on social media sit without response. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours – but within a few hours is ideal. In today’s fast-paced world, the people reading your business page and watching your social media accounts are watching around the clock. They expect answers to questions as soon as they ask. Can you keep up? Because you’re expected to. If you let a negative comment or review sit for long enough, it will turn into an even bigger problem. Do what you can to nip it in the bud early and move the conversation offline.
  • Start a (Public) Conversation: Your customers and potential customers will be watching you to see how you react to the issue and they will judge your company’s morals and standards based on your reaction. The good thing about social media is that if you handle these types of issues promptly and professionally, lots of people will see it. The bad thing about social media is, well, if you handle it poorly, lots of people will see it.
  • Don’t Delete: Never delete comments, tweets or reviews. When you delete comments or try to “cover up” what your customers or potential customers are saying, you will start to lose your reputation and the trust that people have placed in you or your products. Instead, use the opportunity to be real with your audience while reacting and responding appropriately.
  • With that Being Said…There are some fires that you shouldn’t even bother putting out. Offensive language and all-out attacks must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are dealing with someone online who you just cannot get through to, ask them to contact your business or organization so that you can handle the matter privately. If someone is attacking others or using foul language or refusing to work with you towards a solution, it’s okay to pull the plug and walk away.

AFTER THE FACT

  • Apologize and Move On: If you truly made a mistake, own up to it. We are no longer dealing with the days of putting out a press release to cover up a mistake. Our social media world does not allow it. Admit you made a mistake, apologize for what you did, and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it and what you will do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Coming clean and moving on will make your brand stronger and your customers will trust you more in the long run.

At the end of the day, your business needs to understand the power of social media and how professionally-run social media pages can make a world of difference. If you have a solid plan on how to handle negative remarks, comments or reviews, your business will benefit greatly from it in case of an emergency.

Have you ever wondered what that “http” is in your web browser?

httpHTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and it’s a request-response protocol that drives the web. Think of your browser as the client requesting information. It puts this request into a HTTP message and sends it to the server. The server will then send the response back to the browser. That response may be a picture or a webpage, for example.

The current standard HTTP/1.1 has been around since 1999 and it’s starting to show its age. Back then, webpages were much simpler and required fewer resources. Today however, a webpage can contain many additional resources to show you, the user, what the web developer built. Javascript, CSS, images, videos and even Flash are pulled in and rendered by your browser. This results in many back and forth request/responses and puts a large load on the server and the browser.

There are many techniques that attempt to alleviate the data transfer, but these methods are still at the mercy of HTTP/1.1 and its rules. Images can be compressed, resulting in less data transferred, or a server can tell the browser to store files locally (caching) so that future requests for that resource are pulled locally instead of being transferred again by the server. Web developers can bundle and minify resources. Instead of having 3 or 4 CSS files referenced (which means 3 or 4 request/responses over HTTP), we take those files and make one larger file. We can then take out white space and shorten it up to make it as small as possible.

So far, those solutions have worked but what really needs to happen is an evaluation of HTTP and a new version that is in line with today’s web. Enter HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 has been designed to speed traffic in a number of different ways. First, it transfers all data as binary instead of HTTP 1.1s for text message styles. The format is easier and more compact to transfer, meaning it will take less time to transmit. Next, the new version can deal with multiple data requests at the same time. HTTP/1.1 only allowed one data request at a time, meaning first get HTML, next get CSS, next get Image 1, then Image 2, then Javascript – a lot of back and forth. The result of HTTP/2 style requests is a faster and cleaner data connection. Finally, the new protocol includes server push. Today when you access a webpage, the server sends back HTML, your browser parses it and starts requesting additional resources like images, Javascript and CSS. With server push, a response from the server will send a page’s full content.

In order to realize the benefits, both the client and the server have to communicate via HTTP/2 and luckily the roll out of support has already begun. Realizing the full value is still a year or two away, however. Internet Explorer and “Spartan” will support it in Windows 10, Chrome and Firefox already support it. On the server end, the next version of Microsoft’s IIS will support it, with Apache support expected soon.

There is more to HTTP/2, but hopefully this has introduced to you a very important piece of the web, and how it’s being improved.

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5 Times More Reasons To Use Video for Your Business

In case you missed it, the Super Bowl was, ahem, pretty big this year. Arguably bigger? The fbcommercials. Love or hate football, this prime-time TV real estate often boasts some of the best and funniest ads of the year.

And if you’d like, you can easily catch all the ads on YouTube, taking the time to re-watch your favorites, or see the ones you missed while grabbing extra chip dip in the kitchen.

But here’s the exciting part (and the part your business may want to pay attention to): while YouTube absolutely smashed Facebook on overall commercial views, Facebook cleaned YouTube’s clock on overall shares.

FIVE TIMES as many shares, in fact.

As of the Monday after the Super Bowl, YouTube amassed a total of 234 million views on Super Bowl ads. Facebook couldn’t keep up with that number, mostly because not all the videos were uploaded directly to Facebook, and also because Facebook’s search still isn’t nearly as robust as YouTube’s (and people rarely go to Facebook to specifically search for video…at least, not yet).

When it came to overall shares of videos, however, Facebook accounted for nearly 70% of all shares for Super Bowl ads this year, even without many of the commercials being “native” (or uploaded directly) to the platform.

So what does this mean for your business?

  1. Video content is still king, and we know from our own client analytics that video always performs well with audiences, usually far outpacing photos.
  2. Facebook is placing higher and higher importance on native video on the platform. It’s great to host a video on YouTube (and you should continue to do so, since this plays well with SEO), but we already know the Facebook algorithm doesn’t play as nicely with outside links as well as it does to content posted directly to the platform.
  3. Views are nice, shares are great, and the further your video content spreads, the better.
  4. Video doesn’t have to be crazy high production to resonate with your audience. Most newer cell phones have fantastic cameras, so if you have 90 seconds and an iPhone, you can start connecting with your audience regularly with video.

The biggest lesson? Having a diverse distribution plan for your content is key to taking full advantage to how your audience finds you and interacts with you. Facebook is great, but it’s not the sole answer to an overall content strategy. Having multiple channels, and knowing how to leverage each one will contribute to your brand message and business goals.

“Oh I Forgot I Had a Website”

Oh I Forgot I Had a Website ImageWhile it’s not likely that you actually would ever forget that your business has an online presence, but that might be what the content and look of your site tell your visitors.

We all get busy running our businesses and making sure we are selling products. Fortunately, we at TKG are thinking about your website and we care a lot!

We took a look and, trust us, we were equally excited about the big news you announced proudly on your homepage in 2009! Unfortunately, it’s now 2015 so it is not quite as exciting.

That brings us to the photos you have of your team proudly displayed in your About Us or Meet the Group section. Everyone looks great, but unfortunately half of them are now gone as that photo is circa 2005. Or even worse (better?), you now have 30 employees, rather than the 10 shown in the photo.

So all joking aside, what kind of message does this outdated kind of info and look convey to visitors?

  • Do these guys update anything?
  • Are they almost out of business?
  • Is this really a company I want to do business with?

Other recent TKGenius blog posts have talked about the importance of things such as technology, keeping up with browser compatibility and responsive design. What your site says (or doesn’t) can be as important as the technologies used. It’s why we don’t take a one size fits all approach with our clients at TKG. We evaluate what you have, take the time to understand your goals and strategize to make the right recommendations to move your business forward.

So remember that website you have? Go take a look. Are you proud of what it says about your company? Would you want to do business with your company? Is it time for a few updates, a facelift or maybe even a complete overhaul?

We’re here for you. Get connected!

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Real Time Responsive Design Test

Responsive Design – it’s not just a buzzword. We’ve written quite a few blog posts on the subject here at TKG. We’ve stressed the importance of providing a powerful, functional web experience whether the user is sitting in front of their PC or in the back of a taxi cab miles away from home.

Chances are if you are already working with an online marketing firm, you know whether or not your website is, in fact, responsive. But for the small business owner who doesn’t have a bevy of web experts at their disposal, this can be a tricky question.

Enter the Mobile Web Transmogrification Portal! The what? Transmog is a simple tool that generates a real-time working preview of your website as it would appear on various mobile devices. Preview options include the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy S3.  Simply plug your URL into the tool and choose the display choice. You can toggle through the different display types and click through to any page on your website. The display updates real time so you can see whether your entire site is responsive or if your homepage is the only piece that is user-friendly.

TransMogScreenCap

We’ve captured a few examples of what a nice, responsive website looks like on the iPad and Galaxy using this tool. Give it a try! If you aren’t pleased with what you see on the display, you know where to find us!

TransMog Responsive Test - iPad TransMog Responsive Test - Galaxy

Do What Works but Don’t Stop Wanting More

As an account manager of several web marketing clients, my goal is for them (and us) to be successful in growing their businesses. And we do that by aligning our strategy with their company goals, becoming partners who work together in this mutual aim.

Most of my customers want to sell more widgets or get more sales leads, and so we get them more website traffic so they can do just that. Who doesn’t like more customers, right?

If your company website leads or sales are growing, especially by having a content and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, then continue to work your plan. That’s good business sense.

But let’s not stop at just continuing to do what works. There’s always more. It’s time to try new things.

stock-footage-new-ideas-hand-drawn-lettering-with-a-simple-stylized-bulb-symbol-whiteboard-animation-on-whiteWhen it comes to making money, one of my favorite things to do is to try new ideas. It’s fun to test them out and see if you can get a return on investment. Online marketing is no different: Find something that works and expand it. Then, find something else that works and expand it, too. Repeat the process.

Let’s assume you have an SEO and content strategy working for your business. Have you tested some paid digital advertising, yet? What about social media marketing; is that right for your business? And by social media marketing, I mean true strategy that drives results – not just playing on Facebook. How about email marketing to current customers – might you get them to spend more with your company with repeat orders?

There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to growing your business. If you haven’t gone down very far down those roads, there are likely goldmines to uncover.

Above (and Below) the Fold

For years I would preach about keeping all relevant content “above the fold” on the home page. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, it simply refers to the area presented to visitors when a web page loads in the browser window. Wikipedia might explain it a little better. Anything included below the fold was most certainly lost forever. Never to be seen again. Yikes!

Why did I hammer this concept home for several years? Because it was truly believed that people didn’t like to scroll down a page to find what they were looking for. And maybe that was true way back when.

I think that concept is one dimensional and isn’t very true anymore.

While you still want to keep your biggest message on top, you can include many details on a page and people WILL scroll if they are motivated to find out more. Another reason to disregard my old advice is because search engines look at the entire page and index content no matter where it’s at. If it’s relevant, then it deserves a place at the table.

I think a large player in this arena is the adoption of smart phones and the necessity to scroll on those devices. People have become accustomed to viewing websites on smaller screens with the need to scroll. Have you ever spent 5 (or 60) minutes scrolling through Facebook? Yep, you’ll just keep going without any worry.

Scroll On

If you’ve lived in fear of the fold maybe it’s time to reconsider things. You may be missing an opportunity to get great, relevant content on your home page that will ultimately help convert potential customers. Not sure where to start? Call us and we can look at your website together.

 

Responsive Design

Over the years, the ways in which we view the internet have changed dramatically. I still remember the days when my family dialed up the internet on our old Compaq, and now users have the option to access the internet virtually on their TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, netbooks or even their refrigerators. The point is, users are accessing your site on a range of different devices, and you want to be seen everywhere you can.

If your company is willing to invest the time, money and resources it takes to create a digital playground where customers can go to discover your products and services, it’s worth adapting that investment to display correctly on all relevant devices.

According to a recent study by the research firm IDC, there were over 1 billion smartphones sold worldwide in 2013, and according to Gartner, over 195 million tablets were sold the same year. With that many mobile internet users in world, it is important that your website is equipped to adapt to those users’ mobile screens.

So what’s the takeaway? To stay current and relevant in the digital space, it is important to consider responsively designed websites. Responsive sites are quickly becoming the industry’s standard because of their ability to adapt to changing technologies, and bonus: they have all sorts of residual business benefits.

Have additional thoughts about responsive design? We’d love to hear them!

Viewing-platforms

 

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Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?

More Traffic

Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.

So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.

Leads and Sales

There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?

Conclusion

Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?