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The Total Image Group   ...Business Alchemists

A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Posts Tagged ‘website’

bebirbal coming soon

Posted Friday, July 11th, 2014

be better, BeBirBal

snap.share.beat.

We’re pleased to announce that Olly Whittle is working on an iOS app BeBirBal which is currently in the second phase of developemnt.

We’ll keep you posted on progress but in the meantime take a look at the website

BeBirBal Website

 


What “Like” Buttons Mean for Web Traffic

Posted Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The new-this-year-yet-somehow-already-ubiquitous Facebook Like button has been around just long enough to generate some interesting numbers relating to Facebook users and web traffic.

The button, which launched in April at f8, Facebook’s developer conference, is now present on roughly 2 million sites around the web, from sports sites to news organizations and many other kinds of publishers.

A media analytics lead on Facebook’s Developer Network Insights team crunched some numbers and found that Facebook Likes not only generate interesting data about the “likers” (a.k.a. Facebook users who are also active on your website) themselves; this data also speaks volumes about clickthrough rates, time on-site and other engagement metrics.

 

Stats About People

On average, a Facebook user who “likes” your content has more than double the number of friends than does a typical Facebook user. This could mean the user is more “social” or more influential; on the other hand, it could mean the user is an attention-seeking narcissist. While it’s fatuous to read too much into that statistic, the number does show that the average “liker” is more active from a social-web standpoint.

An even more interesting stat about the likers is that they click on five times more links to external sites than the typical Facebook user. If clickthroughs are what you’re looking for from your social media strategy, this is good news.

Here’s a stat just for news sites: The average Facebook user who “likes” content on a news website is 34 — that’s about 2 decades younger than the average newspaper subscriber. We’ve known for some time that the future of journalism and social media are, at this point, inextricably linked; this stat provides a little hard evidence for that conclusion.

Stats About Traffic

Most website owners are aware that Twitter refers a ton of traffic. It’s meant to be a content-referral network, so link-sharing and clickthroughs are a given in many cases.

The Facebook “Like” button, however, might be bringing Facebook closer to competing with Twitter in the area of referral traffic, though. Since the button launched and was integrated on millions of sites, many publishers are reporting large increases in traffic specifically due to this kind of social plugin. ABC News reported a 190% increase; Gawker’s traffic shot up by 200%; Sporting News said their site traffic was up by a shocking 500%; and NBA.com said that Facebook had become their second-largest referral source.

Facebook relays messages from publishers saying that these users “are more engaged and stay longer when their real identity and real friends are driving the experience through social plugins.” As an example, NHL.com reported that pages per user was up by 92%, time on-site was up by 85%, video-viewing increased by 86% more videos and overall visits went up by 36%.

Clearly, Facebook is only part of social media referral traffic, but it’s becoming a larger part as the network grows and users become accustomed to interacting with third-party and external content from within the comfort of their social graph.


5 Small Biz Web Design Trends to Watch

Posted Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The importance of having an attractive website that converts visitors into buyers and helps cleverly promote your small business is essential in these fiercely competitive times.

Mashable, 10th August 2010

Your website has to capture a visitor’s attention, entice him or her to stay and browse around, create an interest in your product or service, and result in sales. For small businesses with limited time and budgets, design is an essential factor in both attracting and converting potential customers.

With this in mind, here are five current design trends that most small businesses can utilize to great effect.

1. Minimalism

While this web design style has been popular for some time, it’s worth revisiting as no small business owner wants to turn visitors away with a cluttered, overbearing and hard to navigate website.

Minimalist design effectively strips away the excess and helps the user concentrate squarely on the content. If a page has too many elements, the user will easily become confused about where to focus on, with many elements vying for attention.

With page weight now affecting your Google search engine position, it’s the perfect time to reassess how streamlined your design is.

There are several principles and steps you can follow to create a more minimalist design:

  1. Go through your site and prune any unnecessary widgets or elements which aren’t serving a real purpose.
  2. Make good use of whitespace, which is the space between different elements of a design. Used well, it will allow for easier scanning of your site and help frame the elements on each page.
  3. With fewer elements, choosing the right color palette or accent color is critical. As color has great significance and meaning, it’s best to test how certain colors interact with each other.
  4. Browse your site through the eyes of your visitors, evaluating if there is too much information, confusing or off-putting elements, or sufficient calls to action. Answering these types of questions truthfully will help you prioritize the essential elements.

A minimalist design doesn’t have to be bland and boring; it can easily be modern, fresh, sophisticated, elegant or refined, based solely on the details within the design.

2. Unique Photography

Two men shaking hands, a group of people in suits sharing a joke, the call center girl: these are all tired, clichéd images that litter thousands of business websites. These types of images fail to convey either information on the company or a sense of the site’s character, and are essentially meaningless.

Using custom photography or artwork whenever possible is recommended, though for small business owners, both time and budget are limited and stock photos are a relatively cheap and accessible resource.

So when choosing stock imagery, it’s best to keep in mind these four tips:

  1. Research your competitors and industry and take note of the images used. You can then find a unique way to represent your product or service.
  2. Avoid being too literal in your choice of imagery as abstract compositions often give a more dramatic and memorable effect.
  3. Don’t always opt for the cheaper low-res image, as pixelated imagery devalues your overall design and looks unprofessional.
  4. Veer away from the bland and predictable and let the images ‘break out of the box’.

Imaginative imagery will reinforce your brand message and add greater character to your website. So, when you must use stock imagery, do so with great care and take the time to find the right piece that will convey the true personality of your service or product.

3. Bold Typography

Web design at its core is about communication, and typography is a vital component of that. Great web typography helps bring order to information and creates a coherent, visually satisfying experience that engages the reader without their knowing.

A recent trend is the use of big, bold typography which helps to create contrast between other text while grabbing a user’s attention. Oversized text can help create hierarchy and ensure users understand your message loud and clear.

In order to utilize typography to create a bold statement, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Determine the single most important message you want to emphasize, as too many messages can lead to choice paralysis. Understand the qualities of the message you are trying to convey, and then look for typefaces that embody those qualities.
  2. Choose a typeface that will match the character of your work. For instance, if your company embodies the feel of an Old Style font, you should consider Bembo, Garamond and Sabon. It will also greatly depend on what you want to convey with the type, because legibility is as important as the character of the type.
  3. Give the typography the prominent position it deserves by surrounding it with a generous amount of whitespace. This will add emphasis and create even more focus on the typography.
  4. Test out some of the various font replacement options such as Typekit or Typotheque. These allow you to license fonts to embed within your site, and help you to experiment with beautiful typography.

Typography is an art and the decisions you make are subjective; however, carefully selecting a typeface can make a huge difference to the quality of your design.

 

4. Clear Calls to Action

As a small business owner you want your visitors to complete a certain task when they land on your page. It could be to download, sign up or checkout, but these calls to action are one of the most important (and overlooked) elements in a small business website.

You want to grab your visitor’s attention and move him or her to take action. Crafting a clear, concise call to action is essential.

Here are four tips to keep in mind when designing a call-to-action button or advertisement:

  1. Language: Keep the wording short and snappy (always start with a verb), but also explain the value behind the action the user is taking. In some instances it also helps to create a sense of urgency using words such as ‘now’, ‘hurry’ and ‘offer ends,’ with ‘free’ being the number one incentive.
  2. Positioning: Ideally, calls to action should be above the fold, and be placed on every page of the site in a consistent position. For instance, Squarespace, not only has a large call-to-action button at the top of the page, but also has a slightly smaller button in the footer of every page.
  3. Color: The color should make the call stand out from the rest of the design. Brighter, more contrasting colors usually work best for smaller buttons. For larger buttons, you may want to choose a less prominent color (but one that still stands out from your background), so as to balance out its size.
  4. Size: The call-to-action button should be the largest button on any given page. You want it to be large enough to stand out without overwhelming the rest of the design

.

It’s vital you test different combinations of call-to-action buttons and see how each affects your conversion rates (see A/B Testing below). It’s also best to make sure they fit within your overall design.

  1. 5.      A/B Testing

With competition growing fiercer online, it’s important for small businesses to have a website that converts visitors to buyers and creates a competitive edge. That’s why it is important to continually measure and improve site performance, usability and conversions.

One of the foremost ways of optimizing your web design is via A/B testing (sometimes referred to as split testing). An A/B test examines the effectiveness of one landing page over another. The two versions are randomly shown to site visitors to see which generates the best results. You then evaluate the performance of each and use the best version.

Various elements can be tested, including, layouts, copy, graphics, fonts, headlines, offers, icons, colors and more. Here are a few tips for A/B testing:

  1. Clearly define your goal before beginning any test. For example, if you wanted to increase sign-ups, you might want to test the following: type of fields in the form, length of the form, and display of privacy policy.
  2. Start with elements that will have the biggest impact for minimum effort. For instance, you could tweak the copy on your checkout button to see if conversions can be improved.
  3. Don’t use A/B testing in isolation as this alone won’t give you a well-rounded picture of your users. Instead, use other feedback tools, such as Feedback Army or User Testing, in conjunction with A/B testing to get in-depth analysis of user behavior.

A/B testing won’t make a bad design great, but it will prove an effective aid in optimizing your current design’s usability and conversions until you decide to overhaul your website design completely.

These are just five web design trends that small businesses can take part in to enhance their websites. Which web design changes would make the most sense for your small business?


Social media helps drive purchases

Posted Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Customers accessing an online store via a social media site are 10 times more likely to buy something than other users, claims new research.

Marketingmagazine.co.uk, 29th June 2010

 Social media: undervalued as marketing tool says new research
 The research by Payment provider Sage Pay (PSP) has revealed that whereas 7% of all visitors to an online store make a purchase, a significantly higher 71% of visitors initiated via social media will click their way to the transaction section.

The study showed that while online retailers may be good at attracting consumers to the website in the first place, only a minority will be converted to customers.

It suggests such businesses develop stronger marketing tools to make this conversion, and adds that social media marketing such as advertising on Facebook is an undervalued tool, as it is highly effective.

Simon Black, managing director at Sage Pay, said: “Flitting from site to site, it takes a lot to entice today’s shoppers. Once they’ve arrived in an online store, they might sniff around and put a thing or two in the shopping cart – but even when they have typed in their credit card number, there is still no guarantee that the sale will be closed.”

Black added: “The modern shopper often looks for reassurance from a positive review, a special offer to make it more affordable, inexpensive delivery options and a quick, easy and secure way to pay.”

The study also reveals that despite the findings, just 5% of online marketers polled believed that social media was the most effective communication channel.

Speaking at the Cannes Ad Festival last week, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell likened social media to “letter writing” and suggested it could be “polluted” by attempts to monetise it.

This idea was rejected by Keith Weed, the new chief marketing officer of Unilever, who said it was “word-of-mouth on steroids” and could be harnessed by brands.


5 Online Marketing Resolutions for 2010

Posted Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Resolve to give your online marketing efforts a boost this year by recognizing areas for improvement and putting in place a plan to make positive changes.

online marketing, Jan 8 2010

1. SEO:
I resolve to focus more on maximizing visits and conversions from organic searches. With SEO efforts, it’s easy to get caught up in one goal: getting found via the search engines. But ranking in the search results is only half the story. If potential customers aren’t clicking through to your web page – or other piece of digital content – the ranking doesn’t mean much. Plus, due to variances in what each of us sees in the search results for the same query, rankings as metric are no longer as useful. Personalized search results according to location and web history means your site might rank high for one person, but not another.

Maximize the success of your online marketing efforts by analyzing your metrics report to determine which pieces of digital content are highly visible but producing less than ideal traffic results. Then take some time to ask yourself these questions:

What competitive search results are your potential customers seeing? Assess the title tags and meta descriptions of competitive search results. Are competitors offering customers a free case study or a complimentary product sample? Then consider ways to make your own title tags and meta descriptions out-entice the competition.
Does your content live up to the promise put forth in your title tags and meta descriptions? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: When you first visit your web page or other digital content from an organic search, is the content you find relevant? Potential customers don’t want surprises; they want a solution to the problem that caused them to search in the first place. And they want it as promised.
Not only will searchers respond more favorably to customer optimized titles and meta descriptions, but the increase in clickthroughs will, no doubt, be noticed by search engines and may influence subsequent rankings.

2. Social Media:
I resolve to set goals and track the results of my social media efforts.
There’s no denying that social media is more difficult to justify in terms of ROI compared to other online marketing strategies.  But that’s not to say it’s impossible – or that tracking results should be placed on the back burner. And without goals, it’s pretty difficult to measure success. In 2010, put forth even more effort to set goals for social media participation and tie results back to specific tactics.

There are a host of free or near-free tools available to gauge brand mentions and traffic from social media channels.

Tracking results via social media monitoring tools is just a start. Those results must be tied back to business goals. Potential goals might be:

Develop better customer relationships
Reputation management
Identify and energize brand evangelists
Increase brand awareness
Increase relevant visitor traffic
Improve standard and social search engine visibility
Build up a list for email marketing
Increase leads or sales
Without setting specific goals upfront, social media efforts can’t be definitively quantified so be sure to implement a Social Media Roadmap and all or social bases will be covered.

3. Email Marketing:
I resolve to integrate my email marketing with other online marketing channels. Regardless of what the naysayers may say, email marketing isn’t going to disappear as a result of social media in 2010. In fact, email will continue to play a significant role in most online marketing mixes this year. A study from Silverpop found nearly half of marketers surveyed plan to increase email marketing budgets in 2010.

That’s not to say email marketing efforts shouldn’t evolve with the times. Integrating email with social media is on par to be a popular resolution for 2010: A recent eMarketer report found 40% of executives surveyed willmake integrating the two tactics their top marketing initiative this year. Another 25% of respondents have already implemented an integrated strategy.

Pledge to take email marketing to the next level by encouraging email subscribers to not only forward content via email, but also to get social with email and share it via Facebook, Twitter, Digg and other sites. Conversely, conduct a poll on Twitter or your blog, and encourage followers and readers to subscribe to your e-newsletter for the results.

4. PPC:
I resolve to maximize conversion rates by testing different versions of my ads and landing pages. Most companies using self-serve pay per click programs fall victim to “set it and forget it” habits. They’re busy with numerous other marketing activities or don’t have the time to really get to know the native bid management platforms and test/refine campaigns. Even if PPC efforts are reaching set goals in terms of conversion rates, there’s always room for improvement. You’ll never know until you try.

Consider these three ideas for testing different elements of your PPC campaigns:

Test multiple ad versions that highlight different benefits of your product, service or company. For example, one could tout cost-savings benefits, while another emphasizes a convenience aspect.
Use A/B testing to try out two different headlines on your landing page. Again, each could speak to a different benefit (i.e., cost savings vs. convenience). Google Optimizer is a great tool for this.
If you’re targeting a competitive search term with many competing ads, consider launching two different campaigns simultaneously. Each could offer a distinct piece of fulfillment – a free case study and a product coupon, for example.
A few tools for testing include:

A/B Testing resources: (Google Website Optimizer, 7 Free Resources)
Multivariate Testing service: (Omniture)
Heatmap & User Testing tools: (CrazyEgg, Clickdensity, Clicktale, userfly andEyetools)

5. Mobile:
I resolve to rethink my website design for mobile users.
If your site isn’t already optimized for handheld devices such as cell phones, now is the perfect time to re-assess your site design and how users find your site through mobile search – particularly for B2C companies.

In October, ABI Research forecast that mobile sales of physical goods in North America would reach $750 million by the end of 2009, a 117% annual growth rate. Consumers are doing a lot more than purchasing downloadable cell phone ringtones and games from their mobile devices. These days, clothing, electronics, books and a host of other items are being purchased through mobile commerce. Additionally, social network participation through services like foursquare, Facebook and Twitter are growing dramatically, creating additional opportunities for promotion and traffic to the mobile version of your company web site.

When optimizing web pages for the mobile web, consider a few tips:

Keep fonts in their most basic format
Eliminate advertising to conserve screen space
Take out images unless they are absolutely necessary
Remove Flash, Java or any plug-in content unless absolutely necessary


 
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