When Is a Mobile App Beneficial?

I hear/see this discussion all over the place these days: “Should I built an app or a mobile site??” This conversation should never happen! Answering this question properly means understanding the purpose of these two platforms, so let’s go over that first.

Purpose of a mobile site:

  • To be found via search engine by a prospect using their mobile device
  • To provide users an experience that has been optimized for smaller screen size
  • To serve relevant information to that on-the-go user (location specific content, etc..)

Purpose of a mobile app:

  • To engage existing customers
  • To make mobile shopping experiences easier
  • To provide functionality above and beyond what a website can easily accomplish (think location services, push notifications, etc..)

Notice the primary difference here is the point at which people are in the buying cycle. A mobile site, we recommend responsive websites (and so does Google), will help you attract new customers by way of non-branded search engine queries. People aren’t going to discover your company by way of an app store search, they’re going to discover you through search engines.

Now, let’s get into the “when is a mobile app beneficial” part of this discussion. Mobile apps provide functionality that goes far above and beyond what the typical website can do. They can send push notifications for sales/promotions which the user sees instantly and they can use location data to present relevant content to users. For example, let’s say I run a grocery store chain and have an app built to present coupons to my customers, new products, etc. I use my app to notify customers of specials, coupons, and in-store events like wine tastings. One way I might utilize location data is to give users the option that when they are near one of my stores (can even narrow down to just the one they frequent), they get an alert reminding them to check the app for coupons, or to remember to use their membership card. Getting even more targeted, I could install Beacons throughout my store which could fine-tune my coupon serving. Beacons can be installed in stores and pin point exactly where in the store a customer is using Bluetooth. So when you’re in the cookie aisle, your app knows that and we can push you a coupon for cookies you like based on your purchase history (because you’re logged into the app using your VIP info)…talk about serving the right promotion at the right place to the right person exactly when they need it!! This is just one example of app engagement, but the possibilities are endless.

The moral of the story is this: Before you ask yourself if you need an app, you need to evaluate how you want to connect with your current customer base. If you’re trying to attract new customers, you should probably abandon the app idea and look at acquisition channels.

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3 Tools for Mobile App Analytics

Mobile apps have become such a big part of marketing plans, that to build one and not understand how it’s used is almost criminal. Just like websites in the beginning, the strategy for a mobile app was to built it, push it, then update it when enough users complained. Those days are long over, with the new tools that have rolled out, you no longer have to wait to find something users don’t like.

  1. Google Analytics – just like a website, track how many people use your app on a regular basis, find out which parts of the app people spend the most time on, and which parts people avoid like the plague. Notice a lot of people leaving your app after trying to log in? Maybe the log in button is broken, access to metrics like this can provide you with great actionable insights.
  2. Optimizely – Your A/B test dream come true! Run experiments on different imagery, button color, call to action text, et al. This works the same as it would if you were running A/B tests on your website; create a variation on the original, send half of users to the original, and the other half to your variation. Statistical significance will be automatically calculated based on the goals you establish (actions, clicks, views). The best part, is that it rolls out instantly, no need to update your app and wait on approval from the App Store – just instant testing when you want.
  3. Heatmapping - Heatmaps are basically overlays that show exactly where in the app people click/tap. Building on what we’ve already discussed about where people spend time on your app and which color button converts better, is heatmapping. Sure, it’s great that Google Analytics tells us which pages people visit and how long, but how did they get there? Notice a few buttons on the app’s home page that nobody clicks? Get rid of them, no need to clutter up the page with unnecessary actions. If the heatmap is showing a lot of activity around a tiny ‘search’ feature, or particular link? Run an A/B test where you make that feature more prominent in a variation and see which performs better!

As you can see, running all 3 of these tools in unison will give you a mountain of opportunities and endless variations to test. Don’t have a mobile app yet but looking for a developer? Check out our mobile app development services.

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Your Complete Office in the Cloud

You know that flash drive you’ve been carrying around for the past 10 years? Throw it out. “The cloud” essentially made them obsolete. At first, the cloud was just a way of storing documents, but then Microsoft said “hey, we don’t want to be able to just access our files via cloud services, we want to be able to work on those files where ever we are”. So they built Office 365. And the name couldn’t be more descriptive: Access to your Office files anywhere you are.  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook – your complete Office, out of the office.

On a beach in Fiji? Mountain-top resort in the Alps? No worries, as long as you’ve got internet access, you can work on your documents. With web applications for the primary Office products, you can update that spreadsheet, finalize your PowerPoint presentation, or adjust the wording on that proposal document you’ve got in Word. Now I’m not saying you should spend your Fiji beach vacation working, BUT, in the event that emergencies pop up, or you have an idea that you just have to get down, Office 365 will save your day. Web applications have been developed and work just like the desktop program, so there is no learned curve.

Another key benefit of Office 365 is document sharing and collaboration. Are you tired of emailing attachments around and around just so a few other people can add their input? Are there 14 versions of the same file on your network drive created by way of  multiple people working on the same document? Office 365 has solved this problem with document work flow. You can setup a routing order for the document which will notify users when it’s their turn to review the document, see who made what changes, and even put a target end date on the route. No more passing papers around the office and worrying where they might end up, digitize your work flow process through Office 365.

These are just a few examples of how Office 365 can make you life easier and more efficient, but the possibilities are endless. To learn more, check out our Office 365 Solutions today.

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4 Essential Apps for Business Use

Like most people, I have entirely too many apps on my phone, most of them for personal use, a few for work-related tasks. Here are the 4 that I use the most for business, and highly recommend you give them a try if you haven’t already.

  1. Pocket – The mobile bookmarks tool that everyone can/should use. It’s essentially a catalog of different websites or pages that you want to hang on to for later use. I mostly use it as a “reading list” where I catalog blog posts that I need to read. Once read, you can mark it complete and it gets archived for future accessibility. Adding to your Pocket list is extremely easy; most browsers have an extension or add-on for one-click page saving, the app will pick up on copied URLs on your clip-board, and from your phone you can also email an article to be added. Download for iOS or Android
  2. IFTTT – If This, Then That. Their tagline is “Put the Internet to Work For You”…and that’s exactly what IFTTT does. First you create the “This”, or trigger channel and based on that action, you can automatically create another action to happen. Clear as mud right? OK, how about an example: I have a recipe (as they call them) that creates a short-link anytime I add a new item to Pocket. In this instance, Pocket is the “This”, so when this is triggered by adding a new blog post, IFTTT tells Bit.ly (“That”) to create a new short-link for me. There are dozens of channels that you can connect with this tool to automate everything from weather alerts, to business time-savers, to sports notifications. Give it a shot, and share your favorite recipes in the comments! Download for iOS or Android
  3. OneNote – Microsoft’s answer to Evernote. I should mention up front that in order to get the most out of this app, you should be using OneNote on your PC/Mac as well. As a former Evernote user and OneNote convert, I’m here to tell you that OneNote is everything a note application should be. The organization is simple and logical – notebooks > sections > pages. The navigation is familiar because it’s basically the same as any other Office product. The continuity between devices is perfect. The app is extremely handy for those times when you’re not at work and you have an awesome idea that you don’t want to forget – just put it in OneNote and it’s there for you when you get to the office on Monday morning. The app also allows you to add/take photos directly from your phone – I mostly use this to take pictures of hand written notes and add them to relevant notebooks within OneNote – but you probably don’t have to think too hard to find ways you could use it. Download for iOS or Android
  4. Trello – If your desk is constantly plastered with sticky notes of to-dos, or you find yourself overlooking tasks, Trello is your new best friend. This is the to-do list made for business. Not only can you create task lists, but you can setup projects that contain related tasks. The interface is intuitive, which means little to no learning curve. Download for iOS or Android

All of these apps are available for both iOS and Android devices, so give them a try today and start working smarter.

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101 Blog Post Ideas

Blogging is hard. Coming up with ideas week after week is hard. Here’s a list of 101 ideas to get you started, feel free to borrow these ideas for your own blog. Here’s a helpful hint, if you want to blog once a month, grab 12 of these ideas and make yourself an editorial calendar. Tweak them to fit your organization then go ahead and write all of them ahead of time. That way when your deadline comes around, you’ve got your post written already. Better yet, if you’re using a platform with a scheduling feature you can set that up too.

[Rather than create a list with fill-in-the-blanks this list is actual topics that we might write about so you can see how we formulate ideas, but you can replace our industry buzz words with your own]

  1. 5 Reasons to Ditch Flash Now
  2. What Will Websites Look Like in 5 Years?
  3. 3 Ways to Wow Your Creative Director
  4. Ultimate Cheat Sheet for HTML5
  5. 7 Easy Ways to Increase eCommerce Conversions
  6. Calls to Action: The Definitive Guide
  7. How to Improve User Experience in 5 Simple Steps
  8. The Worst Advice You Can Receive About SEO
  9. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Remarketing
  10. KPIs You Should Be Monitoring
  11. How Can A/B Testing Effect Your Bottom Line?
  12. 10 Reasons to Budget for Social Media Marketing
  13. The History of Search Engines
  14. 7 Secrets to Setting Up a Successful PPC Campaign
  15. Marketing & Baseball: 10 Surprising Things They Have in Common
  16. 3 Tools To Improve Your Work Life Now
  17. 12 Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier
  18. Lessons You Can Learn From Your Competitors
  19. 19 Ways to Improve Cost-Per-Acquisition
  20. Common Misconceptions About Website Redesign
  21. 6 Quick Tips for Display Advertising
  22. Web Analytics: A Cheat Sheet
  23. 4 Marketing Blogs You Should Be Following
  24. Why We Love Content Marketing (And You Should Too)
  25. Cornerstones of a Solid Marketing Plan
  26. Buyer’s Guide to Email Platforms
  27. How Call Tracking Can Help Your Business
  28. 20 Myths About Email Marketing
  29. 4 Quick Steps to Improve Your Bounce Rate
  30. 5 Keys to Successful Content Distribution
  31. How to Win at Social Media
  32. 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start SEO
  33. Successful Marketers Do These 3 Things Everyday
  34. What Will the Social Media Landscape Look Like in 10 Years?
  35. How to Choose the Right Social Media Platforms
  36. 6 Insider Secrets to Winning at Email Marketing
  37. Defining Your Audience: Reach the Right People
  38. 12 of the World’s Worst Social Media Marketing Tips Ever
  39. 7 Industry Twitter Account You Should Follow Right Now
  40. How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Your Website
  41. 21 Tips to Make You a Better Marketer
  42. 11 Ways to Improve Your Adobe Illustrator Skills
  43. Web Design: The Complete History
  44. Why Branding Is Limited At The Olympics
  45. Origins of Search Engine Optimization
  46. 8 Compelling Reasons to Use Product Listing Ads
  47. Which Email Solution is Right for You
  48. Rebranding: Do’s and Don’ts
  49. 11 Things House of Cards Can Teach You About PR
  50. 6 Common Social Media Missteps
  51. 4 Quick Ways to Fail at Email Marketing
  52. Increase Your Click-Thru Rates With 3 Easy Steps
  53. Complete Guide to Advertising on YouTube
  54. How to Quickly Build a Social Following
  55. Tips for Winning at Remarketing
  56. Do’s and Don’ts of a Successful Marketing Strategy
  57. 4 Things Top Designers Do Everyday
  58. The Best Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Conversion Rate Optimization
  59. Infinite Scroll Done Right
  60. 3 Secrets to Solid Web Design
  61. Duplicate Content: Quick Remedies
  62. What’s Up With Google Algorithm Updates??
  63. 3 Aspects of Killer Calls to Action
  64. 5 Tenets of Solid Design
  65. Avoiding PR Nightmares
  66. 3 Reasons to Switch Your Email Solution
  67. Considerations for Proper Web Design
  68. Web Analytics: Getting Started on the Right Foot
  69. 12 Ways to do Link Building on a Budget
  70. Follow These 4 Tips to Win at Paid Search
  71. Copywriting: A Complete Guide
  72. Getting Started on Google Adwords
  73. Ask Yourself These 10 Questions Before Your Next Site Redesign
  74. 7 Browser Extensions You’ve Been Missing Out On
  75. How to Write Winning Headlines
  76. Link Building, How Does It Help?
  77. 27 Frequently Asked Questions Answered
  78. The Future of Paid Search
  79. 6 Tips for Engaging Your Social Media Followers
  80. Link Building: 4 Tactics to Stop Using Now!
  81. Optimizing Video for Search Engines: A Primer
  82. Negative SEO: Fact or Fiction
  83. Hashtags: What Are They and What’s Their Purpose?
  84. Keys To Using Twitter To Amplify Your Message
  85. Automated Marketing, Simplify Your Life
  86. Work Smart Not Harder: 4 Chrome Extensions That Will Change Your Life
  87. How to Build a Social Following
  88. Do These 3 Things Everyday to Become a More Effective Marketer
  89. Superbowl Advertising: 2 Companies That Are Winning and 3 That Are Not
  90. SEO: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
  91. 5 Tools Everyone in Marketing Should Be Using
  92. 9 Things Breaking Bad Can Teach You About Marketing
  93. Redefining Your Target Market
  94. Content Marketing: A Blueprint For Success
  95. 3 Things to Improve Your Brand Identity
  96. 8 Things You Should Know Before You Start Paid Search
  97. Link Building: Common Misconceptions
  98. 6 Easy Tweaks to Your Paid Search Campaign
  99. To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand?
  100. Effective Marketers and Dogs: 3 Similarities
  101. Make a List of 101 Things Your Readers Can Blog About

Easy, right? When possible, the important words should be front-loaded in the title; the sooner you tell readers the topic, the more like they are to follow through. Notice the recurring theme of numbered lists – people love lists, it gives them some quantification before they begin reading – “Ok, this post is a list of 3 things, I have time for that now, I’ll read the 20 item post later”. And don’t be afraid to capitalize off of trending things like popular TV shows or movies, global events such as the Olympics, or holidays. Now, stop reading our blog and go write yours!

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5 Examples of Great Looking Landing Pages

A good landing page should focus on several key areas: visually communicating the brand & product, clearly explaining the benefits of using the product or service, and providing users with a clear path towards the next step. By utilizing some basic design and marketing fundamentals, you can craft a landing page that looks great, is easy to use, and effectively drives conversions. Let’s take a look at some examples of pages that do this really well.

Club Divot
great-landing-pages-1
On the Club Divot homepage, the designer has selected a nice, even and familiar color palate that reflects the focus of their product. The large font size for the header grabs your attention and the product’s best features are communicated at a glance, leaving the next section to go into more detail. Screenshots of both desktop and mobile versions are provided, and the page includes a simple, concise signup form with clear social calls to action.



Crowdspottr
great-landing-pages-2
The Crowdspottr homepage is clear and concise. The first thing you notice is two phones, an iPhone and an Android, with the app showing on both screens. You immediately know what the product is (an app), and that it can be used across both platforms. Beside the phones you get step-by-step instructions on how to download the app, with a link to download and a video on how it works. Everything you need to know is above the fold with more detailed information further down. The design of the page is the standard “z” formation that follows the way most people scan a page: from top left to top right, diagonally down to bottom left, and then across to bottom right. The most important elements (what the app does, and how to get it) are colored orange to stand out from the blue.



MailChimp
great-landing-pages-3
This MailChimp page has a nice, open, non-cluttered page that uses a top-down design approach. At the top center of the page, in eye-catching bold text, is the primary message they want to communicate: “Send Better Email”. The video in the center then animates to show you how the process of creating an email in MailChimp works, and is followed by a brief message about how many users they have, plus a clear call to action to sign up for free. Their logo is left for last, unassuming but yet present.



Spotify
great-landing-pages-4
Spotify’s minimalist landing page is an exercise in simplicity: what it is and how to get it. A nice bright product message sits center screen, with a clear call to action in bright green beneath it. By including a “Go to Web Player” link, an alternate path is provided for users that don’t want to download anything. This page is a great example of parallax design, where background imagery takes up the entire page and changes when scrolling down to the secondary content information. The top navigation bar moves with the user as they scroll down, but remains locked at the top of their screen.



Square
great-landing-pages-5
Square uses a subtle color palate that helps draw more attention to the bold center call to action. The headline slogan gets your attention, while the sub-header text tells you concisely what the product does, while communicating how easy it is to get started. Below the hero image, the white provides step-by-step directions to further drive this message home, helping assure users that Square can make a complicated process (like accepting credit cards) easy & fast.


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Social Media Cover Photo Best Practices

There are many ways to promote your brand online, and social media is a great outlet.  First, you’ll want to put appropriate and successful cover photos up in order to gain success. Next, change out your cover photo seasonally or for holiday specials. This will allow you to gauge “Likes” or page visits. Cover photos are great for gaining more traffic and interaction to your page.

More importantly, choose a unique image – photos sell your brand. If you’re not attracted to it, why would anyone else be?  But, make sure it’s your image. Do not use an image unless you own it.

World Cup - Twitter

World Cup – Twitter

Pick an image that doesn’t give your customers or visitors any ambiguity about what you do as a company. If someone new visits your YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter page, ask yourself, does this image clearly represent my company on first look? Like a billboard ad, you only have a few seconds to grab a user’s attention and you don’t want to confuse them.

Keep your typography (words on the graphic) to a minimum. Facebook actually has a rule that you cannot occupy more than 20% of your graphic with text.

Whole Foods - Facebook

Whole Foods – Facebook

Trip Advisor - Facebook

TripAdvisor – Facebook

You can use Facebook’s GRID tool to gauge whether or not your photo meets the requirements. The goal of these guidelines is to ensure your image does not come across as spam or too “salesy.” Your image, on any platform, should not look busy or like you’re being pushy trying to sell something.

Also, cover images are great to get your company’s visual image across, but don’t forget to keep your profile images up-to-date. If you change your logo, or just need a refresh – make sure to change those out at least every quarter to keep things fresh with your users. This indicates to them that you’re active on social media. Just don’t change them out too frequently or you’ll come across as not confident in your social media decisions.

You can also test using customer submitted photos as your cover image. This allows you to interact with your audience more, and keeps engagement up. For example, you could post a timeline entry on Facebook asking users to send their Facebook cover photo options and you’ll choose one to feature for a certain season, featured topic, event, or campaign. You could also do a photo collage for your cover photo of user-submitted images. Just make sure you put a disclaimer that they agree to have their images used and that they own the rights to the images. This is a good way to celebrate company milestones and successes. It also shows you care about your customers and their interaction with your company. A product launch or award are good examples of cover photo options.

The takeaway of best practices for any cover photo on social media are the following:

Nike - LinkedIn

Nike – LinkedIn

  • Keep it simple
  • Clean image, no busy patterns, backgrounds or textures (there are enough busy visuals to distract already on social media)
  • Align your text or call to action on the right or center of the image.  Your profile photo will a lot of times cover the left area corner.
  • Be consistent with your branding. Your profile photo and cover photo should flow well together.
  • On that note, feel free to use your cover photo to direct a users’ eye to a certain area or tab below. This can help encourage likes or involvement with your social media.
Coca-Cola - LinkedIn

Coca-Cola – LinkedIn

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4 Best Practices for Lead Generation Forms

You’ve spent time making sure all of your on-page SEO has been implemented just right. You’ve got some really good links coming in to your inner pages. You’ve worked hard to tailor your content to your target audience. You’ve even narrowed down your content to hit prospects at the right stage in the buying cycle. Users are finding your site, digesting your content and loving your capabilities, you meet all their expectations and are just the solution they’ve been looking for. Then they get to your contact page and everything comes to a screeching halt.

We see this all the time, forms that are too long, have redundant fields, or are just asking for too much information. Here are some recommended best practices for lead gen forms that are sure to improve your conversion rates.

1. Keep it short – How many times have you come across a form on the web where they’re asking for your life story? They want to know how tall you are, your age, your shoes size…you name it, they’re asking for it. And you know what their conversion rate is – nil. People aren’t willing to give up unnecessary information. Keep it simple, only ask for what you need to properly follow up with them.

2. Stop using CAPTCHA! – If you were a brick-and-mortar store you wouldn’t have someone at the door verifying everyone’s identity would you? It’s not worth deterring legitimate leads just to filter out spambots. If you’re using CAPTCHA, it’s often the first thing people see when they get to your form, and will usually be the last thing they see as they’re exiting your site. There are plenty of alternatives that eliminate spam just as effectively without ruining your chances of driving qualified conversions.

Lead Gen Form Best Practices

3. Placement – Don’t hide your form at the bottom of a long page. Keep it above the fold, and going back to the “keep it short” point, keep ALL of the form above the fold. When users can see the entire form without scrolling, they know it won’t take too much of their time.

4. Support privacy protection – In today’s increasingly digital world, privacy is always a concern. People can be reluctant to fill out a form and provide information if they’re unsure of how you’ll use that data. Link over to your privacy policy to put those users at ease. And while we’re on the topic, if you’re asking for personal information and don’t have a privacy policy, it’s time to change that.

Knock down these barriers and get people converting. You don’t want to drive users all the way down the funnel just to run them into a brick wall when they’re ready to buy. You can always contact us if you need some help getting this nailed down.

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