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Content and Social - the Fire and the Gasoline of Digital Marketing

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Content and Social - the Fire and the Gasoline of Digital Marketing

“Content is fire, social media is gasoline” according to popular social media and content strategist Jay Baer.  But just what does he mean by this?


We’ll get to that in just a moment, but first a quick refresher on how Google’s search engine works.

Each piece of content on your site is indexed for keywords, which are then matched to people’s search terms.  Meanwhile, inbound links, site quality and other factors are combined to determine how important your site is, affecting the position in the search results.

So, broadly speaking, the more content is available for indexing on your site, the more likely it is that a page from your site will match a particular search term.  

Content: the fire

Whether publishing blog articles, case studies, service and product pages, hints and tips, Q & A’s, white papers, video, infographics, podcasts - you name it - the more content is available, the more there is for Google to index.

And visitors are hungry for that content, as long as it’s of the highest quality. 

A fundamental shift has taken place where creating amazing content is now the name of the game, putting your customers' needs first.  Google is (mercifully) no longer fooled by spammy articles.

Social:  the gasoline

It might surprise you to find out that in a website we launched recently with a combined social media campaign that around 75% of all visitors came from social networks, not from Google. 

Not only that, but the visitors arriving from social networks were more engaged, with higher pages per visit and time on site than other visitors.

So if you are not utilising social media channels to share your content and promote your brand, you could be missing out on a large proportion of your potential market.

Digital marketing trends for 2014

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Digital marketing trends for 2014

With advancements in technology and the domination of tablet devices we all want to know what’s in store in 2014.  Are digital experiences changing and if so how do you keep ahead of the game? We look at popular trends that will dictate marketing strategies over the coming year.

Personalisation

Making services and products appear more personalised isn't a new phenomenon, marketers have known for a long time that the personal touch pays off and is significant when it comes to conversion and retention rates.

Ensuring that your brand delivers a personalised experience has in part become easier due to a rise in the amount of devices and data available. When a person goes online they might well find a whole list of products popping up that are relevant to their search criteria.

The shear amount of information available online is giving marketers an increased insight in to customer preferences, patterns and behaviours. 2014 will see this go even further with more strategies aimed at tapping into personality and lifestyle choices.

So more data means more knowledge, and personalising the digital experience for customers can potentially lead to increased profits. However it is important to monitor and evaluate this information in the right way, making sure it’s meaningful and relevant to your target audiences.

  

Content Marketing

One trend that is inevitable throughout 2014 will be the increase in content marketing. It’s now not enough to have information out there, you have to make the information meaningful, interesting and specific to your target audience.

This has largely been the result of social media platforms and tweaks to Google's search algorithms and it’s changing the way companies are promoting their work.  

2014 will see more significance being placed on copywriters and written skills.

Hubspot's 5 top tips for writing content are:

  1. Educational: make sure it teaches people something or answers a question
  2. Newsworthy: make sure it relates to topical and recent news in your industry
  3. Infographics: people like visual content that is easy to understand
  4. Trends: tell people about trends and try to add some data or stats
  5. Videos: everyone loves watching a video

 

Touchscreen usability

With 2013 seeing the rise of the tablet, 2014 will certainly see widespread responsive web design to improve usability for these popular new devices.  People want to be able to access things any time anywhere and improving touchscreen usability will lead to higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

This particularly impacts on design agencies, we've certainly seen a sharp spike in interest for responsive design this year.

62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales - Hubspot

Marketers will also think more about how content is displayed on tablet devices.

On the horizon is increased use of voice activation and natural language processing - you will be speaking to your device rather than tapping it -  but until that day make sure touchscreen usability is a top priority in your marketing strategy.

Big Data

Big data! Everyone’s talking about it, but who’s using it?

73% of marketer’s surveyed say improving data analytics will be a top priority in 2014 - Ayaz Nanji 

So what do we mean by Big Data? Well it’s what it says really, it’s the collection of huge volumes of data from all kinds of user interactions which usually needs advanced monitoring tools to detect meaningful patterns.

Information is now being generated from more sources and devices than ever before and those that can monitor and manipulate this data can take the competitive edge. However, figures show that a lot of companies are overwhelmed with the shear amount of data available and are wary about spending too much time, resources, and money analysing it.

Therefore 2014 will see more monitoring and evaluation systems being designed specifically for big data and marketers will think more about how they can incorporate big data into their marketing strategies.

 

Visual Content

More and more significance is being placed on the importance of visual effects to increasing brand awareness and profit margins.

Our brains are highly visual and therefore a message that is portrayed visually will have much more impact than written words. This has led to the growth of infographics that instantly get the message across to viewers.

Videos are also becoming more important with popular websites like YouTube and Vine being used by millions around the world.  Making content visually more appealing is going to be a top marketing strategy in 2014, so start getting creative now. 

 

A Shiny Server is Born

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A Shiny Server is Born

As I write this our brand new dedicated server is being spun up by our data centre team, just in time for the launch of one of our biggest ever projects.  

This marks a very exciting time for Siteclick, as we're going to be bringing a greatly improved web hosting experience with more space, bandwidth and processing power to all clients.

The best part is we'll still be protected by RAID disks in case of failure, and full-server automated offsite backups as before.

We can't wait to get our mitts on it!

Launch of N2 Website

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Launch of N2 Website

Last week we launched our latest website for N2 design.

N2 deliver expert and bespoke architectural design to private clients, creating their perfect home. They are part of Nash Partnership LLP, an award winning practice of architects, planners, landscape architects and conservation experts. Delivering projects throughout the UK, their fully inclusive service from start to finish provides a high end professional service.

N2 wanted a rich, immersive design that emphasised to customers the quality of their service with a portfolio of their work in a variety of different settings.

www.n2design.co.uk

 

Inbound Marketing - What It Means for Web Design

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Inbound Marketing - What It Means for Web Design

The birth of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

In the early days of the internet, businesses could attract attention simply by having a website when their competitors did not.  Fast forward a few years to the launch of Google and the expectation that all small businesses must have a website.  SEO was born to try to artificially influence the position of websites in Google's ranking algorithm to gain competitive advantage.
 
That all seems a long time ago now, and marketers are increasingly turning away from producing spammy content and hiring teams of off-shore link builders.
 

Inbound Marketing

The focus today is on 'Inbound Marketing'.  So just what does this mean?
 
It means producing genuinely useful, quality content such as blog posts, articles, social media content, e-books, podcasts, or video that attract potential customers by demonstrating expertise.  
 
This contrasts starkly with the SEO of old, producing vast reams of poorly written articles to trick Google rankings.  Now the emphasis is firmly on producing quality content for humans to consume, and if it improves search rankings too, so much the better.
 
The key to all this is social media.  With quality content likely to be extensively shared throughout social networks, search engines are now only part of the puzzle.
 

Inbound Marketing and Web Design

So what does this mean for web design? 
 
Websites and blogs remain an important tool in the marketers' arsenal, while some content is published elsewhere such as video on YouTube. A large part of the effort is to build traffic via search and social media to quality web articles. This traffic then converts to leads or shopping purchases.
 
One example: I bought a shed recently and was amazed by the amount of information available on the retailers websites.  Videos demonstrated both the product and assembly instructions. Articles explained various methods of constructing the base.  3D rendering had been used to create lifelike graphics of the various sizes available.  All this served to help inform the purchasing decision, and enhance the perceived expertise of the retailer.
 
And all this just for a shed!
 

Putting it into Practice

So where am I going with all this? Today the lesson is this: publish and share quality content demonstrating your expertise both on your website and on as many other relevant digital marketing channels as possible.

Are you a freelancer? We're hiring!

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We're looking to expand our network of PHP freelancers to help us produce a range of website projects. 

Ideally you will have...

  • Knowledge of object-oriented PHP programming techniques
  • Some experience with MVC frameworks, such as Codeigniter, Cake, Zend etc.
  • And/or experience with Wordpress
  • Ability to tweak front-end code using HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery
  • Basic understanding of MySQL databases
  • Experience with Git an advantage

If this sounds like you please get in touch at james@siteclick.co.uk with a brief CV and/or a link to your online portfolio.

New Years Resolutions for your Website

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New Years Resolutions for your Website

1. Make sure your website is up-to-date:

Ensure that you edit your website inline with your customers needs or update any changes to your products or services. 

2. Update any social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin :

Ensure you use these media networks, if you do not you could be missing out on potential customers.

3. Links:

Ensure you have quality inbound links that will lead customers to what they want and need. This will not only lead to customer saftisfaction but will also improve your google ranking.

4. Check Woorank:

Woorank is a service design that helps you to evaluate your website, giving you a good overview of it's general effectiveness and comparing it to other websites.

5. Get customer feedback :

Try to get as much customer feedback as possible, it's good to start the year knowing exactly what your target audiences likes and dislikes are.

6. Develop bigger and better links:

Networking is always important, the stronger links you can make, the more successful your business will be.

7. Regular blogging:

Ensure that if you have a blog it is regularly updated, but if you have not touched it for a long time consider getting a professional to write your blog for you, or get rid of it althogether.  There's nothing worse than stale content!

8. Check Google Analytics regularly:

If you have not done so recently, check google analytics to see statistics on your website visitors. With this information you can then build on your marketing strategy for 2013.

9.Check your keywords:

Keywords that are popular on google are constantly changing, ensure that yours is the most relevant and add any additional ones you think would help.

10. Make sure website is secure:

Use a scanner such as Securi Sitecheck to check for malware.  

Festive greetings to all!

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Festive greetings to all!

Usually we send out lots of cards to all our customers and suppliers at this time of year.

This year we thought we'd do something a little different - so being web designers, we sent everyone an e-card and used the £100 that we usually spend on cards and postage and donated it to the homeless charity Shelter instead.  

We definitely have warm fuzzy feelings that the money has gone to really good use this Christmas, and saved trees in the process.

We hope you like the e-card, and don't feel too upset to not receive a paper card this year - do let us know what you think in the comments below. 

UK Leads the World in E-Commerce

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UK Leads the World in E-Commerce

The UK may be a small island nation, but according to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, it led the world in 2012 with e-commerce accounting for 13.2% of all retail purchases.

So how is this meteoric rise in online shopping going to affect us all?

1. M-Commerce

Whether scanning a QR code on a poster to make an impulse purchase, paying for a coffee via an app, or comparing prices using barcodes, it's clear that mobile phones will become an important shopping companion to add extra convenience to everyday life.

2. Branded Showrooms

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers will find themselves increasingly squeezed by internet shopping.

Brands and retailers will switch to providing showroom space for products to get them into the hands of consumers without actually fulfilling orders - instead the goods will be ordered online.

3. 3D Printing

Bespoke and customised products designed by shoppers will become possible thanks to 3D printing methods.  Smart software will enable consumers to design products without requiring specialist skills.

It should also become easier to source replacement spare parts for gadgets as these can simply be printed.

4. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality apps are already available on smartphones, adding information layers such as attractions, public transport links, or business listings to the image fed from the phone's camera.

Expect to see this take the world of commerce by storm - with customers able to try out jewellery, clothes and more without ever visiting the store.

5. Hand-Made Crafts

While giants such as Amazon become a one-stop-shop for commoditized products, craftsmen and women who make small volume, quirky, hand-crafted products are also seeing their sales flourish by serving customers who want something a little different.  Expect to see more sites like Etsy cropping up to supply this demand for the handmade.

 

Web Design Trends for 2013

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Web Design Trends for 2013

With 2013 just around the corner, it's time to peer into our crystal ball and take a look at some of the latest design trends that are going to be shaping future website designs for 2013.

1.     Responsive Becomes Standard

As the cost benefits of developing a single responsive design become clear to clients, together with the widespread use of mobile devices with a whole range of different screen sizes, responsive web design is going to become the new standard.

With efficiencies introduced by responsive CSS frameworks such as Twitter Bootstrap, and desktop PCs beginning to take a back seat for the first time, responsive will fast become the only kid on the block.

2.     Windows 8 Inspired

While Microsoft is traditionally not seen as leading design in the same way as Apple, expect to see the tile-based interface and bold primary solid colours from Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 inspiring designers to create new interfaces.

3.     Larger UI Elements

As screen sizes become smaller (such as with the new iPad mini) and fingers become fatter, it’s inevitable that navigation elements, buttons and form controls are going to need to be big and easy to tap.

4.     Simplicity

Because mobile users are not prepared to scroll through bloated homepages to find what they need – expect to see marketers think more about the goals they want users to take, and translate this into cleaner more conversion-oriented designs.

5.     Retro-Fabulous

From Chesterfield sofas to polka-dot dresses, it’s hard to escape retro style.  Expect to see this trend continuing on the web for some time to come.

6.     Deeper Social Integration

Did you share your weekly shop on Facebook this week?  You didn’t?  Well shopping is about to get a lot more social, so expect to see products and services that your friends have purchased popping up in your Facebook feed.

If you run an e-commerce site, it’s time to consider how you can make this a more sociable experience for your customers.

7.     Small Businesses turn to Facebook

The smallest entrepreneurs and freelancers will most likely turn to Facebook pages before their local web designer, at least for B2C businesses.

Standalone websites will need to provide content, apps, services, e-commerce transactions, or other added value to remain relevant.