First Month of 2017 is Almost Over and Your Website Still Doesn’t Have Fresh Content

First Month of 2017 is Almost Over and Your Website Still Doesn’t Have Fresh Content

Another new year has begun and prior to January first, like most of you, I had a good few goals I wanted to begin come the turn of the year. I imagined myself doing them, I wrote a few of them down on paper, and I barely started two of them. And that’s me being honest.

That hype that you have about fresh and newness is the same attitude most of your potential customers and visitors are also expecting from your website too. Because they are expecting this, we don’t want to let them down. This is why I’ve started to renew the idea of writing a quality post at least once a week as well as post much more regularly my photographic work on my social media sites.

Being a creative you’d think that I’d have a ton of materials for my website and social sites all the time ready to go. Well, to be honest, as a creative we’re probably the most critical over our work than most others in different trades. So below are five great changes you can make to your website to give it a fresh look for the start of 2017.

1: Update Your Home Page Graphics and Hero Graphics

Whenever landing on a website your eyes are usually first intrigued by the images and graphics that are at the top. Those visuals may be accompanied by text to better describe the graphic or also with buttons that lead to other pages or to a call to action or product. Think about how much better some more relevant images could do for your website in better describing your products or services.

2: Change Some Colors

Not saying you should change your brand identity, but maybe use some of your highlight or accent colors in a different way. Be subtle but make a fresh impact that leads to something worth looking at or reading for your website visitors. I’m recently working with a client where their logo is their first name in gold and they have a couple of other websites that could use the same gold color in the logo to create a linking motive while keeping separate identities for each website. It’s kind of like finding an easter egg in a Marvel movie – when you see it, you smile.

3: Use Video

Video explains so much and when done right will capture and keep the attention of your visitors a bit better than regular text and more so than a static image. For those of you with products, how about creating a video that describes how to use the product, how it saves time, or even the difference of your product over a competitor product. Other video ideas could be you describing what the website stands for, why it’s relevant, or better yet video testimonials from past and current customers.

4: Create a Worth-While Call-to-Action

You’ve gotta create an incentive for people to come back. While “creating great content” is the common phrase you hear all the time, part of that content needs to be something that is engaging or offers some value. We’re all used to seeing the 10%-25% off stuff and even those sometimes don’t entice most consumers to buy alone. Why not offer something that your visitors will actually use. Try offering a free hour with the purchase of the first hour. Or suggest this product to two friends and you get this free.

5: Make it a Point to Post Once a Week

This may be the hardest thing to do. We’re busy, there are other things we must get done, we don’t have time, don’t want to make time, etc. I can give you plenty of excuses. But it’s 2017, there are too many services out there that you can sub-contract your busy work to. For me, Sunday nights are the best times for me to sit down and write out my posts and schedule my social media. I’m more in the mood to do it then and it helps me to get the weight off my shoulders when my week actually does start. Once you get on a roll with it, you’ll find how easy it is to keep going and making it a priority. Don’t forget to track with analytics to better curate your content.

Photo Credit to Pexels

Great Content On Your Website Is Worth Real Money ( In a Way)

Great Content On Your Website Is Worth Real Money ( In a Way)

We often get questions from our clients and people to our website or social media about ways to generate traffic on a website that don’t cost as much as doing full blown SEO Marketing. If you don’t know already, the median cost for adequate SEO (search engine optimization) campaigns can range from $250 – $5,000 a month if not more. Depending on your business’ marketing budget, you may not be able to afford anything towards paid marketing, and that’s ok. One of the best things you can do to promote your business and drive traffic “organically” to your website is to create great content on a your website.

Creating organic content is rather easy in thought. If you’ve got a WordPress website, you’ve already got a blog built in. So logging in and creating a post and publishing it is a snap. Check out our free how to videos if you need a refresher.

The Value Add

The value in your posts is what you talk about and how detailed or defined you can get. It’s not so much on repeating what most may already know about your industry, but a different take on something common or a simple way of solving a problem that most suffer though the hard way. And in there lies the organic and realistic perspective that only you can provide in your words.

The more topics you write about in this same fashion you will build up a fan base. People who respect what you have to say over some industry leaders even. Why? Because of your unique perspective and how relatable you are.

Provoke An Action

Once your readers have consumed your posts, you should ask them to take an action. This action may be fulfilling a promise, sharing your post with 2-3 people, trying out the steps you laid out, or maybe even to prove you wrong in a way. Lastly, you can offer a give-a-way of something of value to your readers. Could be a top 10 list, discount coupon, or something of the like so that they are willing to give you their names and email addresses in exchange for this free option. This is also a great way to build your email list!

Monitor Your Analytics

While you may not see too many comments on your posts, you may notice the increase in traffic to your website on the days you post, and a couple of days after each post. But first lets talk about consistency. Your readers would appreciate knowing that you’ll be publishing new content on a regular basis. That “regular” basis may be once a week or more, but it is at the least consistent. This is probably the hardest challenge of all. We all get bogged down with busy work and life moments that pouring into our business can sometimes be more of a chore than a pleasure. I promise you the results will encourage you, where the lack of publishing will also be seen in your analytics.

While these are just a few benefits of self publishing for what I like to call sweat equity marketing, there are always more. We’ll write more about it next week to keep this post short. In the meantime what are some topics in mind that you are ready to publish? Check out this cool and FREE Editorial Calendar. It may help you put all those ideas down and plan when to write and publish them for the next few days and weeks.

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What’s Better: Content Before Design or Design Before Content?

What’s Better: Content Before Design or Design Before Content?

Creating and designing a new website is an exciting project. Initially you’re thinking of all the possibilities and great ideas of what it will be. Content though, textual, isn’t always a fun thing to conceptualize. Is it a better practice to curate your content prior to designing your new website? Here are some points to argue both sides.

Explaining Your Product or Service is Verbally Easy

When we talk to new clients about their businesses, or why they decided to start a business, I notice them lean forward and eyes widen. This is because they’re enthusiastic about what they do and what they want to do in the world. Even if it’s a community based venture, the excitement of making products that make lives better, or a service that saves time and money is easy to talk about.

Now you’ll need to take those key talking points and make them sound good in sentences and slogans. Stringing together a story that flows correctly from left to right and not jumbled or out of order. In our discovery phase of our projects we like to take time to understand the vision of our client’s business ideas are. We need to understand it and grasp it for ourselves in order to create a website, photography, and business strategies that will not only compliment but also magnify these aspects. This can be daunting for most. Imagine stage fright, but for content on your website.

Solutions:

  • Hire a content or copywriter. They can take notes on your thoughts as you speak and translate the important key elements and combine engaging words that when it’s all put together makes a resonating impact on your readers and visitors.
  • Record your own conversations when you’re describing your trade. Then pick out the things you repeat often, or the things that you notice happen to resonate more with the people you’re talking to.
  • Create videos where you’re talking or describing your products and services. It’s no secret that videos are popular everywhere from SnapChat to YouTube and Facebook Live.

Web Site Pages to Navigation

Typically when creating a website you’re going to have a few common pages like; Home, About Us, Contact, and Services. (Side note, think about renaming those to something more creative. It will entice your visitors to click around more.) Now for the rest of your pages you’ll need to think about what makes sense and what order you’ll need to place them. For example, will it beneficial to have a small photo gallery on your home page? Maybe a three column display of products you have recent on sale under the main banner of your home page? Are you active in social media? And if so will it be best to showcase that in a predominant way?

You’ll also need to think about landing pages. Specific pages that talk about just one topic/product with an effective call to action and opt-in form. While these elements could be found on your home page, there are also many other things found on your home page that aren’t in total singularity. Hence why landing pages can be more effective at mainly selling a product or lead generation.

Page layouts are important to consider. You can go with the same set up for each page, but that’s not always something that works for every website. Some pages are worth being segmented into columns as a whole or various columns throughout the page.

Are sub-menus worth your visitors time and effort? For this you may need to do some split testing to understand what truly works, but it is valuable to consider when designing your pages.

Be creative and captivating with what is above the fold on each page of your website. This is the part of the page you see before scrolling down to see more content on the page you’re on. A lot of times what sits above the fold is crucial to the attention and staying power of your visitors. Pay attention to your bounce rate and see if what you’ve setup is working for you. Content also plays a big role in this too!

Solutions:

  • Consider creating a sitemap. You’re going to want to create one maybe on paper using a pencil to plan out how your pages and subpage structure will be. This flows right into navigation because depending on where your visitors come into your website, you’ll want to make sure they’re not lost as they get around but also easily identify how to get to the information they need and find what page it is on.
  • Check out your competitor websites and see what works for them as a user. Take notes on what you don’t like as well because that’s exactly where you’ll be able to improve on elements and layouts you felt are lacking.
  • A/B testing your layouts for various pages. Your visitors may stay on some pages more than others. See if there are similarities in the page layouts on the pages with more staying power over your other pages.

When Does It All Come Together?

For some of our clients it helps to see examples of page layouts before considering the content that will go on each page. And for others they have a general idea on structure but aren’t sure what pieces of content should go where and what is more important than others to be strategically displayed. We’re more of a proponent to knowing the base pages and names, then the content for each of those pages. Not all of the content usually fits or is necessarily going to work on the initial page(s). After the first round of designing, it becomes evident on what content is lacking and also what layouts are conducive for reading and navigation. We usually make those adjustments and sometimes add filler text or graphics to then bring back to our editors/copywriters to then create more elements to better balance each page.

This is our process and view on how we do things in short. What do you do differently? Let us know in the comments below!

image credit: Patrick Tomasso

Compelling and Captivating Infographics

Infographic general designMost marketers know that one of the best ways to convey pertinent information, especially statistical data, is through infographics.  When potential or new clients ask me what they are, I often say “it is a visually pleasing and engaging way to consume medium to large quantities of information.”  The purpose of the infographic is as multidimensional as the design. Over the years, I have seen infographics used for a variety of purposes – educational, political, business soliciting – you name it.

One that recently caught my attention, made me start thinking about companies and organizations purposes, agendas and the like, that are using this “visually pleasing and engaging” method of marketing to accomplish the their vision and goals.  Join me as we journey though some of the most compelling and captivating infographics published to date.

Peta’s Life of a Cow infographic tops many emotion-evoking infographic lists.  It educates consumers, encourages veganism, and intentionally elicits emotional pain over what baby calves go through to become dairy- and food-producing options.  This infographic holds nothing back when it comes to mapping out the beginning with the fear-inflicted eyes of the baby calf to the ill-fated end of becoming dinner.

Domestic violence is a huge issue in our society, in the U.S. and abroad. It can be physical, sexual, emotional; and the least publicized, psychological.  Millions of Americans, women AND men, have been victims of domestic violence and this infographic displays the ugly truths of these heinous acts.  Developed by NowSourcing for Socialworkdegreeguide.com, Exposing What Happens Behind Closed Doors, is an educational infographic reflecting truth, demographics, and current statistics.  From the first, engaging image through the un-ignorable statistics, this in-depth domestic violence awareness all-in-one definitely does what it should.

Sure to get a few guffaws, this infographic from Killer Infographics is sure to crack the corners of your mouth with statements that most people think but don’t have the guts to say.  I’m Cooler Than You Because…was designed in 2013 to showcase “why certain people are cooler than other people” relying on “bold icons and funny copy to make this infographic super effective!”  And that it does!  So if you don’t have a bunch of nay-saying, humorless colleagues, post this in your cube to surely receive a few laughs and engaging conversation.  And in case you didn’t know and are bold enough to rock it, you can get this on apparel by visiting here.

Eye-opening content is always welcome in my book, and as well, that which is shockingly truthful.  In the 21 Shocking U.S. Food Waste Facts & Statistics, the designers at AZ Solutions, ensure you are well aware as to how much food wasting goes on and its riveting impact. So many of us do it in one way or another, but I had no idea that my disregarding, no left-overs mentality impacts the masses. It was compelling enough to  change both my mind and my own behaviors.

So there you have it folks, just a few jaw-dropping, tear-welling and knee slapping infographics that are out there.  Stay tuned as I may address this topic again in the future and once again reveal why well thought out, skillfully designed infographics are such captivating and compelling content around.

Content Consumption Trends This Fall

Fall TreeAh, the beauty of a New England fall season…The crisp air, apple cider donuts and many trees display the multifaceted colors of fall.  Content consumption trends this fall are just as varied as trees lining I-90 to the Berkshires.  As a device dependent nation, the consumers of content have pushed both manufacturers and marketers to infinite boundaries – a flurry of multifaceted demands to have everything we want (or think we need) at our fingertips all hours of every day.  So for mobile technology, Fall 2013 is blowing in with many winds of change for the content consumption marketplace.

Mobile Device Usage on the riseWill the PC become obsolete?  According to Digital Trends, “research firms have been informing us for some time now that sales of desktops and laptops are on the decline, with consumers turning increasingly to reasonably priced tablets and smartphones that do more than enough to keep them happy.”  Even Morgan Stanley analysts have predicted that mobile web use will outgrow stationary device browsing by 2015.  This is great news for mobile device makers while stationary PC’s and even laptops sales may continue to fall to below expectation when it comes to content utilization.  With the impending November 29th, 2013 Black Friday and Cyber Monday on December 2nd just around the corner, its predicted that consumers’ choices are definitely shifting from PCs to handheld tablets for daily content consumption.

What’s everyone humming about? Yes it is finally arrived – Google Hummingbird.  By replacing the old algorithm, Google has answered the call for easy search queries for people on-the-go.  Hummingbird is essentially an entirely new ranking algorithm that understands the relationships and relevance of words and phrases, instead of just considering a bunch of individual words.  Thus, making it more “human friendly” than ever.  So it focuses on ranking information based on more intelligent and naturalistic search requests – providing more useful, intelligent and higher quality content in the digital world.

Seemingly Unlikely Bedfellows – Adobe & Data Analytics?  Adobe Marketing Cloud is the latest user interface and in the new Adobe Analytics with an iOS operating system for mobile devices reports the baseline norm from historical user trends and then identifies data points that fall outside that norm.  This super smart app offers real-time reporting capabilities to give marketers and copywriters/editors solid intel on readers content consumption, marketing campaign success and on-site conversion as it happens.  An SDK mobile app will provide unparalleled opportunity analyze data collected from mobile apps in Adobe Analytics, giving marketers the ability to serve location-specific content to customers based on their location when they access a mobile app.  I noticed this most recently while on Pandora.  An audible ad, that was specific to my location, popped up to gain my buy-in on their services.  This is perfect for true lead generation efforts and capturing the right demographic for a successful campaign.

Branding, Media Style
This fall, many companies are beginning to understand that they need to think more like publishers and not just marketers.  Connecting brands with online audiences is essential for true consumer, marketing integration and growth. More brands will use sizeably more video and mobile-friendly content in response to the growing number of smartphones and tablets. Media integration helps businesses generates revenue and strengthens customer relationships by leveraging the latest technology and draw on a full range media marketing resources.  Since content consumption is at an all time high, using social video resources like Vimeo, YouTube, Instagram, or Vine ads flavorful social content that reaches your audience in quick and impactful ways.

Content Curation Marketing
For those who don’t know, content curation goes way beyond just making sure website content is both up-to-date and SEO rich.  Content curation is the process of connecting content creators, i.e. marketers, bloggers and writers, to easily and quickly target relevant content.  Since content is king, content curators oversee and manage the entire landscape of content – from driving product development and marketing strategies to social networking integration,   Notably, this is a fantastic tool to boost social media presence and true engagement for key target audiences.

So there you have it folks – all things content and dominant trends for the Fall season of 2013.

What do you think?  Are there other content trends you see fading like the leaves of fall or flourishing in full bloom for 2014?