The Oxiem interactive team is always keeping their eyes open for new trends in the web world from design ideas to content gathering. Here are some trends, ideas and fun snippets that have been on our minds this week…
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
A key goal in designing a website is to make sure it is user friendly, but how do you do that when people have so many different perspectives and ways of learning? From people who are linguistic learners (e.g. someone who likes to read long essays) to those who are more visual spatial (e.g. learn by viewing images and interactivity), make sure you keep in mind who your audience is when designing and providing content.
“As long as it’s attention-grabbing, say whatever you want!”
Well, that’s not entirely true…but what’s on your page is just as important as what it looks like, if not more. When crafting copy for your website, you want to slowly draw the reader in and headlines are a great way to do this. Make sure they are strong and grab the reader’s attention, without deceiving them or telling the whole story.
“The web turned 20 this year. And as all young adults discover, it’s time to look a little more sophisticated.”
As we approach 2014, trends in web design and development are being discussed. Web designers are thinking more about the user experience than ever, and websites are becoming more sophisticated than flashy. Web designers are internalizing that users are becoming more sophisticated too—not only do users want to see a website on all devices, they want the experience to be great on all devices. Hence, the Responsive web design trend. They are realizing that users want simplicity, not “flash.” Users want to get in, retain the information they are looking for and get out. Trends such as flat design (vs. a 3-D experience) and single-page websites are occurring to make websites simple in design, and simple to use and navigate. Read more about the Six Hot Website Design Trends for 2014.
Instagram Researches Ad Effectiveness
Instagram’s focus is more on traditional metrics that brands actually care about, like frequency distributions, changes in brand recall, awareness and association, and eventually longer-term sentiment metrics and sales impact over time.
To deliver this kind of data, Instagram conducts studies and surveys the day after an ad runs to measure brand lift. The same polling questions about things like brand association and ad recall are asked to a sample of users who were exposed to the campaign and a control group of users who were purposefully not served ads from the given campaign. Instagram then looks at the difference in responses for those two groups, and those differences give advertisers a good idea of what kind of exposure their ads received and what kind of reactions they generated.
“A Little Bit Goes a Long Way”
Creating a landing page for your brand is all about capturing those new leads and appealing to the masses. New trends are following the idea of minimalism: keep everything simple and focus on the core of the message. Use landing pages to inform your audience about your product and help them make the appropriate conversion (e.g. sign up for more information, like your Facebook page, etc.)
“Responsive design + content strategy = BFF 4 EVAH”
It’s time we acknowledged that every responsive web design project is also a content strategy project. When working on building your website it is important to understand that your content must be revised. Even though the long-term goal is to serve the same content to every platform, organizations can’t just use what they already have. Smart companies will seize this opportunity to do what they should have done years ago: clean up and pare down their desktop content. You’ll never get a better chance to fix your content and publishing processes.
Structured Content is “content [that] can be disassembled and reassembled to create new information products on-the-fly, based upon context.”
-Cleve Gibbon, CTO Cognifide
Concretely this means content that is stored can adapt to the way in which it is consulted. This is because users have other needs, needs to see content on a tablet, smartphone or perhaps soon on Google Glass or iWatch, and they do not want to be fixed on the concept web. Or as Rachel Lovinger of Razorfish nicely describes: “Simply put, digital content needs to be free – to go where and when people want it most. The more structure you put content into the freer it will become. ” (source)
Target: Did they Miss the Mark?
The recently relaunched Target site is sparking quite a bit of backlash from the design community, primarily due to the site’s abundance of drop shadows and overall cluttered-as-crap vibe. The new look definitely puts a lot more product on the home page, but it sacrifices that minimalist “Target look” that the brand has spent so many years perfecting.
“There is no doubt that Instagram has released enormous creativity in people…”
Marketing agency Archrival recently teamed up with Red Bull to create #THESHOW, a digital project that allows users to turn their Instagram galleries into customized documentary videos and share them globally.
“Not only will the content be more informative, it will be interactive too.”
This year, infographics became a huge hit. An infographic is a visual display of data with the goal of making important facts and figures more digestible to the end-user. In 2013, we saw more static infographics in the form of image files. In 2014, you’ll see more interactive infographics with scrolling/hover effects to display information details & multi-pagniation so users can understand data in manageable parts rather than a complex sum. Effects like this will use programming language such as CSS, HTML & HTML5. See a fun example of an interactive infographic on the future of car sharing. (Source)
“Let’s go take the most popular Jquery widgets on Earth…and re-do them.”
- Steve Newcomb
Famo.Us is expected to launch in full Beta in February 2014, and it is an Open Source platform with many similar attributes to WordPress. It is now offering widgets to gain notoriety among developers. Famo.Us was founded by Powerset founder Steve Newcomb, which was sold to Microsoft and recently merged with Bing.
Famo.Us’ widgets allow developers to use full 3D with the smart technology of physics. They also allow developers to expand on Lightboxes to allow for a more interactive look and a more fluid motion. This type of advanced technology will become more and more frequent, all while allowing websites to become a bigger better version of themselves.
What have you caught onto this week? We’d love to hear from you.
Make A Statement Locally
Until recently, local businesses relied on the yellow pages to be found by their customers. Now that the yellow pages have become an antique, there is a timelier route to guiding your customers to your business – local search marketing.
Local search marketing, or local SEO, generally helps potential customers find your business’ information online. With mobile & tablet visits set to overtake the PC, optimizing your website and online presence is becoming more important every day.
How Does It Work?
Search engines always punch out a local result when a potential customer searches the internet for a product or service offered in their area. In fact, today more than 1 in every 3 searches is considered local.
Increasing the number of quality “mentions” (citations) of your business’ information will improve your local search successes. These citations are commonly referred to as NAP’s.
The NAP is made up of:
- Business Name
- Business Address
- Business Phone Number
Two of the most important factors in finding your business locally are the citation consistency and citation frequency of your NAP on the web. The only complication is that there are a bunch of different local citations vying for your customer’s attention. Therefore, it’s important for your company to make sure that it is included everywhere your customers might be searching and all mentions of your local business on the web are correct and updated.
Local Search Today
Today, local search is a crucial component of being found online. In fact, 70% of mobile searchers may call your business directly from the search page, without ever viewing your website!
Local Search Checklist
If you’d like to see firsthand where you stand with local search, the first step is visiting getlisted.org to gain an accurate view of where customers are finding you online. You may be surprised to learn how inconsistent and imprecise vital pieces of your businesses’ information is online.
Next, you’ll need to claim all of the local citations you can get your hands on. This is often where you can start making mistakes. Things can start to get very hairy if you are unsure what these local citation companies are doing in the background to process your information. It can often take several weeks for each local citation website to approve the changes you have submitted, and they don’t always agree with your information or include all of the details you may have submitted.
The reason for this is that many of the superior sites actually verify the information that you submit against other sites in the industry. Check out the graphic to the right to see how each of the largest players are verifying your business data:
You can see that Google reigns supreme, but there are a lot of other players in the local search market.
While claiming citations, you should also concentrate on finding sites which are discussing businesses like yours and what consumers opinions are about your offerings. This will help you to begin a conversation with your customers. Organizations like local dinner clubs, car clubs, and meet-up groups with websites are great places to start.
Become A Part Of The Conversation
Local search gives you a chance to communicate with your customers. This is a good thing! Many websites in the local search space also come with an option to check in and write a review on your business after visiting. Some companies might look at this as somewhat of a headache, but it’s really an opportunity for you to engage with customers. What do your customers love? What are they not so pleased about? Don’t forget to handle negative reviews with care, and thank your biggest advocates.
The more reviews the better, and you can encourage your in-store customers to review your business online after they leave as well.
Should You Use Call Tracking?
The last task you can mark off your checklist involves measuring the value of calls and “mentions”. This requires some form of lead tracking, and many companies start with call tracking.
Using a call tracking number is a great idea both for training your sales team and identifying qualified leads. What you need to remember in local search is to keep your NAP consistent across the web. If you use a call tracking phone number, it should match the number on your website.
Part of what we do at Oxiem is build lasting value for your business. We pride ourselves on building strategies that add value to your business long after our work with you is complete. Yext and UBL are “enhanced” (read paid) listing services. As a short-term solution, they may be able to provide the visibility that you need, but their long-term effects won’t last.
You will gain more benefit from handling local search patiently and deliberately. If you feel you would benefit from Local SEO, give one of our search representatives a call, or send us a message.
What would you add to this list of the basics? Let us know by leaving a comment!
This quote by H.C. Mattern caught my eye while perusing my local bookstore last weekend:
“Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by.”
I snapped a photo and shared it on Instagram. I wanted to keep the words close to reference, as well as pepper the message into my newsfeed for all my friends and family to read.
Days later, while working on an Oxiem video production, this particular quote popped back into my mind. In that moment, a strange thought came to me—Mattern’s words so eloquently embody why people find themselves connected and drawn to video marketing. At the root of it all, humanity’s greatest desire is to belong and connect. We share what we love and it reminds us what we have in common. This higher level of connectivity created through online videos is almost impossible to obtain through other traditional forms of marketing.
We are bombarded with marketing messages practically every minute of every day. According to Yankelovich Consumer Research, in 1970, the average person was exposed to about 500 advertisements each day. In the early 1990s, it jumped to 5,000. Today it is estimated that people are exposed to over 30,000 marketing messages a day.
With this many messages thrown our way a single day, it’s virtually impossible to cut through all the clutter–but we sure do try. The truth is, even with all the hustle and bustle, people innately want to live simply.
We do this by watching videos over reading text. It’s the simplest way for people to absorb information. Video marketing connects customers with a brand because it creates a face that others can identify with. It simplifies the content and adds a personal touch. This connection allows companies to better establish, maintain, and enhance relationships with their customers.
The best marketing videos evoke positive emotion and “scatter sunshine.” An interesting study done by HBR Blog Network states negative emotions were less commonly found in highly viral content than positive emotions.
One of the best ways for a company to create an emotionally compelling video is to tie their brand to a message for the public good.
One of my favorite examples of this is Dove’s Real Beauty sketches campaign. It garnered nearly 30 million views in ten days. Additionally, it single-handedly added more than 15,000 YouTube subscribers to Dove’s channel over two months, not to mention substantially increased their followers on Twitter and Facebook. The final message in the video was, “You are more beautiful than you think.” This message was a positive one—inspiring women to embrace their true beauty.
People are no longer interested in being sold a product. If a person wants to know more about something, they can explore the company’s website or pull up a quick Google search.
Effective video marketing keeps consumers’ best interest in mind. Rather than spending valuable time promoting a product, videos gain high shareability rates by helping consumers understand that they have the same beliefs. Simon Sinek’s simple, yet powerful golden circle revolves around the concept that the goal is not to do business with people who need what you have—the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. This communal belief is not always something easy to communicate. In fact, sometimes it’s not even in the words we write or speak. It’s often communicated in how a message makes us feel. Visually appealing videos mixed in with great audio and real emotions make it easier to believe and connect on an emotional level.
When it comes to video marketing, incorporating Mattern’s core values—live simply, scatter sunshine and forget self—creates a higher level of emotional connectedness, social engagement, sharing and brand interaction. All of these components lead digital brand advocacy—exactly what you were striving for all along.
A colleague brightened my day today by sharing this video —Sleeping On Strangers On The Subway. A picture that went viral inspired the video and sure enough, the video has now gone viral. In fact, it appeared on the front page of Mashable.
I’m certainly not surprised—the content is simple to digest, the message scatters sunshine and forgets self by avoiding any promotional jargon about the non-profit Charidy, whom it was produced by.
And guess what? As soon as I was done watching—I shared it with everyone I know.
I bet you’ll do the same.
Curious about video marketing and how it can positively impact your business? Drop us a line!
You’ve probably been there. You’ve carefully crafted your email content, painstakingly collected customer email addresses one-by-one, updated your burgeoning Excel contact spreadsheet, wrestled your email template into submission, selected just the right images, sent yourself a dozen test messages… and finally, finally it’s time to hit “send” on that big e-blast.
A few days later, you check your results and find out that the number of people who actually opened your magnum opus – or “masterpiece” for those who never read Charlotte’s Web – is disappointingly low.
Low “open rate” (the term for the percentage of unique people who opened your email campaign) is a common problem for marketers (both in the b2b email marketing sphere and the consumer). But first, what is “low,” and what is “normal?”
Silverpop’s “2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study: An Analysis of Messages Sent Q1-Q4, 2012” reported that the overall average open rate across industries was 19.7% in 2012. Silverpop’s data reveals that nonprofit organizations averaged a 17.2% open rate, and consumer products organizations averaged a 23.8% open rate on their email campaigns.
Warning: Bunny Trail
Even though it’s tough to get your company’s email marketing noticed in your prospects’ inbox, data still shows that email campaigns are an effective source of information for people making purchase decisions. A 2012 original research study launched by Oxiem entitled, “How We Interact,” examined technology’s role and impact on our everyday life. Our study revealed that email continues to be one of the most consumer-preferred ways to learn about new products or services. For business users, email is an even more favored form of content. When seeking information about a problem or need, 25% of consumers listed email as content they might consult, but 37% of businesspeople said email would be a primary information source (following behind search engines [60%], websites [43%], and review websites [38%].)
Our technology habits reinforce the importance of this content form. The average person sends 14 emails per day. 61% of consumers use email frequently on a daily basis, and 85% of consumers use it at least a few times a day. The implication for marketers is that email continues to be a valuable and efficient content form to inform customers about new products or services. And because both consumers and business users spend a considerable amount of their digital energy engaged in emailing, the inbox—whether it be on a mobile device, tablet or laptop—is a good place to get in touch with your target.
So, back from the bunny trail. Now that we know average open rates and why email still represents an important part of your marketing mix, here are four reasons your open rate may be low… and ways to fix it:
Reason#1: You’re sending too many emails.
Hubspot Inbound Marketing Blog author Anum Hussain reported in his post, “Email Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?” that 69% of U.S. email users have unsubscribed from a business or non-profit email because the organization sends too many emails. (I know I have.) The sweet spot, perfect number of emails is going to vary widely from person-to-person and company-to-company. Here are a couple ideas to help you determine how often to email your customer database:
- Segment your list and test different frequencies. Try A/B testing and send a higher frequency of email to half of the list than you do to the other half. Look at the open rates and click-through rates on each after a period of time to see which frequency has better engagement rates.
- Just ask. People like it when brands shoot straight with them, so have the boldness to simply ask your customers how often they’d like to hear from you. This could be done simply with an online survey – or a question they answer during the email list sign-up process.
Reason# 2: Gmail is cordoning off promotional emails.
In May of this year, Gmail introduced “tabs” that effectively siphon promotional emails into a separate tab. (See pic below).
The three tabs are titled: Primary, Social and Promotions. And Gmail does its best to guess which of your emails are promotional and sidelines them into the third “Promotions” tab, effectively keeping them separate from the primary back-and-forth messages you receive. Initial data reveals this may not be a fatal blow to marketers who are trying to reach customers on Gmail. One reason for this is that the tabs are only visible on a browser view – the tabbed categories aren’t visible on most smartphones. Another interesting reason that Gmail tabs may not be marketers’ kiss of death is that customers are often in a more open mindset to read a promotional email when they click the “promotions” tab – because they are consciously making the decision to view special offers or marketing messages at that time.
Reason #3: Your subject lines are terrible.
A good subject line can dramatically increase the likelihood that your email will be opened. Set aside some time to craft a good one. Some things to keep in mind: subject line length, making it descriptive enough to tell recipients what your message is about, and avoiding sounding too spammy. There are a wealth of resources to help you learn how to write more effective subject lines. This blog post by Constant Contact is a good place to start. Again, do some A/B testing and try different subject lines on segments of your email contact list to see what works better.
Reason #4: Your emails are getting caught in SPAM filters.
Many of your email contacts may not even see your email because it is being automatically filtered into a SPAM folder. How do you avoid this? There are a number of different factors that may contribute to a message being flagged for SPAM. You might be using “high risk” words in your message that trigger recipients’ SPAM filters. If you don’t have a clear “From” name and real “From” email identified on your email campaign, this could also trigger a SPAM filter. Subject lines can also trigger SPAM filters if the message seems to “spammy.” MailChimp produced a great guide to avoiding SPAM filters, and often your email marketing platform will have a built-in “Spam Test” to give your message a score and suggest ways to optimize it for better success before you hit “send.”
Bonus Reason: Your emails aren’t mobile friendly.
The number of people who open their emails on mobile devices has grown explosively in the last couple of years. Litmus reported that in quarter 1 of 2013, 43% of emails were opened on a mobile device. Have you tested your email on a smartphone before sending to the full contact list? Does it look ok? Is it readable?
Think you could use a little help improving your email marketing campaigns? Drop us an email. We’ll open it. Promise.
Unicorns are pretty.
Widgets are kind of like the unicorns of the web world. It’s this mythical thing “doing something” on your website. We know we’ve seen something like it on that one website that one time, and it was really, really cool.
Web widgets can be confused with plugins, modules, sprockets, flashy thingies, or any number of cool things we can do with technology. (My clients have called them all of those things, and I love them for it. Technology doesn’t have to be complicated. I know what they mean.) Some people know widgets as the clocks or calendars or other small apps frequently kept on their desktop computer.
Since things notoriously change on the web, I’ll tell you what a widget is to me, and then we’ll let the trolls on the interwebz yell at me in the comments.
Widgets are technically small applications that can be run on a web page by an end user. Most commonly, they call for a bit of information or data from somewhere else to produce a customized display.
Why do you care about what a widget is or does? Well, it’s one of the simplest and most frequently requested features on a website – that mythical thing performing both a useful purpose and increasing the interactivity (ooh pretty buttons I can click and grab!) and engagement of the end user (the people you want to buy your stuff!).
The Little Widget That Could
For Upper Valley Career Center, attracting high school students to choose their own vocational path instead of a traditional high school experience is a key goal. Students who are used to the whiz-bang of video games need something with a cool factor to pique their interests.
We created this explorer widget, sharing all the major programs at the school. Mouse over the program name, and it reveals a photo of an actual student experiencing their education in a real-life setting. Click, and you’re taken to the page about that program.
Heavy Metal Widget
For Allied Mineral, the vast offerings of services paired with applications for specific products or minerals meant confusing site architecture−even after many user interface sessions. To make it quicker and more interactive, we created a glorified table (a.k.a. Solution Center) where users could change the tabs on the top and sides to filter this info down to their particular usage. It’s dry material and for a B2B audience – I always hear those clients lament “my stuff isn’t pretty pictures and sexy content” – but it’s still engaging and purposeful.
Help Me Widget
Another client had a complicated process to get customers through a series of web forms based on a variety of inputs. Depending on both the type of request (tech support or repair/warranty) and the location, former company name or actual product, the form needing filled out changes simultaneously.
We pulled it all down into one very simple, clear widget that lives on all Support pages. It cranks out the right form and guides you to the right person and workflow for servicing a customer’s specific request.
Even better, our client reports lower call volume of people wanting to make a request – because users can now find the form themselves in three clicks or less.
So, what does it take to pull a widget off on your website? It really isn’t magic.
1. Normalized Data
Web widgets live on data. It feeds off it and displays something useful. But it must be normalized – meaning it has to be somewhat organized and “apples to apples,”−otherwise the results generated can’t be logical or reliably produce a useful output.
The easiest way to think of it is to determine if you have or could produce the data needed in a spreadsheet. Can you have one set of column headers working for all the types of data displayed? If you got a new product, would it logically fit in one of those headings? What if you added a new variable – could it easily be appended on to the information? If the answer to these is yes, you have a great bit of data to turn into a useful widget.
This is the hardest part, however, and usually requires the help of subject matter experts (the product guys, the engineers, the analysts) in our clients’ companies to help produce this kind of info. Marketers work hand in hand with these folks to get us this kind of stuff, and when it works, it’s awesome.
2. Data in a Usable Format
Beyond just having the data, is it somewhere we can access and use? Is there a gateway to your internal systems like an XML feed or an API so the website can pull from an ever-changing data set? Or what if you have the data, but it’s (gasp!) on paper?
This really happened. We had the idea for a beer finder widget for a distributor client. The widget focused on a user being able to search the distributor’s website to find where their favorite seasonal pumpkin beer, for example, is carried locally. Amazing, right? My husband is still mad we didn’t pull it off.
The reason it didn’t launch is simply that while the client has all the info – after all, they get the kegs to their clients effectively – it’s stored on clipboards, notebooks and files carried in the trucks and via the facilities of beer producers.
Don’t worry. We at least took their social media outlet content and streamed it onto a beer coaster. Widgets don’t have to be that complicated.
3. A Design or a Result That Solves Problems
Whether it’s through simply making unsexy data look cool, repurposing social content to create a new experience or just getting people where they need to be, solving a problem is what creates user engagement. If it does nothing, your widget sucks. This is more common than you think.
Maybe your idea was great, and you gave people a customized answer based on their inputs – but it fell apart because the answer didn’t help people explore further into your website by bypassing traditional navigation. The user interface is another reason widgets commonly fail. If it’s not intuitive to use through great micro interactions (clues like step 2 graying out if you can’t use it until you complete the first step), people will abandon the widget.
Make sure you really know what problem you are solving, and test like crazy. Tools web dev’s use like wireframes, sample data sets in Excel or beta versions all help make sure the experience of using the widget is easy and useful.
And it’s magical.
Just like a unicorn.
2013 has been good to Oxiem – especially in the travel and tourism industry. Our nearly 10-year-old relationship with Greater Springfield Convention & Visitor’s Bureau has allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the Springfield community in which we serve and work.
As a result, our devoted efforts have won big (again) in the tourism industry. During this year’s Ohio Conference on Tourism, held by the Ohio Travel Association, Greater Springfield CVB was awarded four first place RUBY awards and one Citation of Excellence. Oxiem is thrilled to play a part in two of those first place wins and gain more recognition for Greater Springfield CVB in Ohio’s growing industry.
RUBY represents recognizing uncommon brilliance in the marketing, public relations and advertising efforts for a destination or its services. Submitted artistry came from convention and visitor’s bureaus, zoos, attractions, hotels, museums and everything in between, and judges based their decision on a number of criteria standards.
The Oxiem team and Greater Springfield CVB banded together and received two first place RUBYs for a visitor guide and front desk guide. Both print materials captured all of the attractions Springfield offers tourists through vibrant photos, detailed content and user-friendly planning resources.
Take a peek at other Oxiem Brand Interactions awards showcased in the trophy case!
What is user experience (UX)? The Nielsen Norman Group defines it as encompassing all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services and its products. Essentially, every time a user visits your company’s professional web page they are engaging in user experience. The quality of that experience can determine if you engage a customer or lose one, reduce your support costs or increase them or create a strong or weak brand.
Five reasons user experience should matter to your company.
1. Users Are Impatient
The first 10 seconds of a page visit are very critical. Users generally make a decision to stay or leave a website within three seconds. If you are lucky enough to last longer than 3 seconds, the next seven seconds will determine whether a user identifies your page as “good or bad”. A goal for every professional web design should be to communicate your value to the user within 10 seconds. If you don’t, you risk losing a customer forever.
2. Mobile Matters
Twenty four percent of total website traffic came from mobile devices in the first quarter of 2013. This is up 78% from the same time in 2012, according to a recent report from Walker Sands. Why does this matter? An unforgettable mobile user experience can increase sales. In fact, 62% of companies with a professional web design tailored for mobile had improved sales.
3. Tell a Friend…Good or Bad
A positive user experience increases the likelihood of a positive word-of-mouth endorsement being shared. On the flipside, 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad experience online, and this occurs much more frequently.
4. The Potential to Increase Sales
A recent story about a form that prevented customers from purchasing products from a large e-commerce site perfectly represents how a well-executed customer experience can make or break sales. The problem was where the form lived. Users would encounter it after they filled their shopping cart and before they could actually enter the information to pay for the product. The company saw the form as a way to encourage repeat customers to purchase faster, but through usability testing they found out users hated the hassle of registering before checkout. A shopper told them, “I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.”
The fix to the problem was simple. They removed the Register button. Then placed a Continue button with a simple message: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”
The results were amazing. Customer purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000. Source
5. Productivity Increase
Let’s say you optimize UX for a task that once took 5 minutes to 2.5 minutes, and as a result you have increased productivity by 100%. If you have 100 customer service representatives performing the same repetitive task 5 times a day, it will reduce their productivity by 25 minutes. 25 minutes times 100 people equals 2,500 minutes of reduced productivity daily. Cutting tasks in half could save a company 1,250 hours of potential productivity daily. Source
A great user experience can create a valued repeat customer who is an ambassador for your brand.
Drop us a comment or email us to share why you think user experience matters in professional web design, customer service or other elements within your company.
Currently, the majority of company websites have a blog. It doesn’t matter whether they are an e-commerce site, B2B site or a purely informational site. You will find countless articles touting figures about why every company should blog, but how many companies are actually walking the walk when it comes to a successful blog?
I visit countless websites, check out the blog and find the last post was published almost a year ago—and on top of that, the posts published have not received a single comment. I would suggest that companies with this nonchalant and negligent management omit their blog. In an effort to ensure you aren’t in the company of blogs like the one I just described, I have created a short list of things you can do for your company blog so you are not that blog.
- Ownership – Before creating the first piece of content or even the direction of the blog, it is crucial to determine who owns the blog. This doesn’t mean one person has to create every piece of content because odds are they won’t. However, if no one takes responsibility for the success of the blog, it will end up as a place where content goes to die, at best. Oxiem was once guilty of unreliable ownership as well, but since we have turned over ownership solely to the content marketing team, our blog runs more efficiently.Changes will not materialize immediately, but we are one step closer to optimizing our blog to its full potential.
- Blog Frequently – It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? At the beginning, everyone has tons of ideas about what they will blog about, and they are excited. Unfortunately, everything changes when the time comes to actually write the post. Blogging is work, and work is not always very fun – let’s be honest. My advice is to schedule a content calendar and stick to its deadlines. This helps to ensure the constant creation of content. So, if and when a visitor does check out your blog, they will know your company is still alive and your ideas are fresh—not rotting on the vine.
- Get people to read it – Just because you have created a blog post does not mean people are reading it. In fact, I can almost guarantee lack of promotion for your blog will result in no new readers outside of your company and its immediate network. You need to find your audience and bring them to you.
- Identify your audience – Start by asking yourself a few simple questions. Who is your reader? Where do they hang out? What blogs do they like? What else interests them? After you have answered these questions, make a list of 10 blogs and 3 forums where you think your audience is and see if you were right. Results and interaction will follow.
- Participate – This should be the responsibility of the owner of the blog. It is great if more people want to participate, but you need at least one person you can count on to participate. Now that you have your list, use it. Visit these blogs, forums or whatever they may be and then participate. I mean actually participate. Leave meaningful comments. Most blogs allow you to leave your name (use your real name or alias, but be sure to do the same on your blog) and URL. Take advantage of this feature, but do not abuse it by stuffing it with keywords. The goal of this exercise is to drive visits to your blog, not manipulate organic search traffic.
Like the editorial calendar, create a schedule for visiting these blogs and forums. Over time, you will see which ones you enjoy and more importantly, which ones generate quality visits to your blog. As you see these patterns emerge, you can stop visiting the sites that do not generate visits and focus on those that do.
Following these 5 simple steps will help you create a blog with valuable content—and more importantly, valuable readers.
Various guesstimations have been made throughout the years on the magical number of advertisements consumers are bombarded with in a day. This number can be tens of thousands based the millions of emails, mailers, fliers and billboards we ignore and are exposed to, or it could be a couple hundred based on the brands and messages you acknowledge and recognize. Regardless, consumers in the United States are constantly flashed pieces of self-promoted content.
We get it! You sell the best thingamajig and whatchamacallit in the industry. Stop beating us with your “inconspicuously placed” branded phrases, buzz words and taglines. We know what you are doing, so start admitting ongoing advertisements are only one form of communicating your message to consumers. Constantly pushing selfish marketing content needs to stop because there is another approach that can increase brand awareness, sales, customer loyalty and conversation – lending a hand with useful, unbranded and helpful content.
One of the leading content marketing influencers, Jay Baer, has described this selfless act of marketing as YOUtility. One great example of companies being helpful via social media was exhibited from the folks at Lowe’s. Lowe’s is a home improvement store assisting families with desired enhancements on their home. Their whole philosophy is to lend support through inspiration, appliances, tools, and tutorials, and to never stop improving. Lowe’s created a series of six Vine videos with lifehacks that can be applied around the home. Lifehacks are easy tips anyone can apply to simplify their day-to-day activities, and this message embodies the core of what Lowe’s represents. The videos brought brand awareness without having to speak about the brand.
Another way to unbrand your content is through brand journalism. I recently received a full download on this topic from Lisa Arledge Powell, president of 2013’s Best Health Care PR/Marketing Agency – MediaSource. This technique takes marketers back to some of the basics that we often overlook. The first step is to focus on the audience. Find out your customer’s needs through search patterns, conversations via social media platforms, focus groups and surveys, and other insights. Find the voice your brand wants to practice, but be credible and keep the message simple. For the final adornment, think visual and most importantly, completely strip your content from branding. Any well-written article you read has all of these elements, and the package it is presented in allows readers to maintain interest and find use from it.
By all means, I am not saying that marketing content with zero branding is the way to go, but there needs to be a balance of branded and unbranded, truly useful content. If you are stumped on how to tackle a new piece of content, think about the Youtility process and review this six step checklist to creating helpful and not hyped content or talk to one of Oxiem’s content marketing specialists. We’d also love to hear your stories of unbranded and useful content, so drop us a line and comment away!
3 Ways to Determine Your Website’s IQ
There, I said it. Let’s not mince words, when someone is behaving in a way that indicates a lack of applied learning, we generally refer to this as “stupid”. Stupidity is almost exclusively ascribed to behavior rather than capacity for thought. As a father (and former child), I can certainly attest to the fact that well-designed, intelligent people can sometimes behave in a very stupid manner. This means that one must “act stupid” to be considered stupid. This certainly applies to websites as well.
Is your website behaving stupidly?
Everything is getting smarter. It seems that you can’t buy a car, appliance, or device that doesn’t boast of its smart-ness. In fact, if you really look, you’d be shocked at what they are calling “smart” today. I’ve seen smart toasters, smart fridges—and goodness yes—even smart toilets. With all of this smartness around us, I’m at a loss as to why we’re giving our websites a pass on their underachiever attitudes.
We’ve Identified the Problem, Let the Healing Begin
Your website may be built well, and it may have been built with the best of intentions, but if it’s acting stupidly, let’s acknowledge it and get an action plan in order. How do you know if your website is stupid? Well, let’s take a look at the three best ways to identify whether your website needs an “aptitude adjustment.”
Does your website learn from its mistakes?
Are you able to determine where your website is weak and where it needs to improve? Does your website provide you with the information you need to make decisions on how to improve? If not, your website cannot learn from its mistakes.
- Start with a simple automated analytics report that shows common “page not found” errors
- Create a schedule to fix them
Does your website bring suggestions to you?
Does your website tell you when things go well and give you opportunities to build on these strengths?
- Create a conversion report showing the most common paths, keywords, and referrals to conversions
- Build on it by creating more keyword-rich content that bring great visitors, and be sure to nurture relationships with referring sites that send quality visitors
Does your website adapt to its surroundings?
Does your website change based on user input or behavior? There are multiple technologies available that allow your site to adapt to its surroundings; Oxiem’s Websites That Think technology is one of them.
- Identify areas where your site could adapt to visitor behavior or input
- Create the technology needed to adapt to these inputs or behaviors
Intelligence Must Be Applied Passively
Great news! You have identified a few ways to wise-up your website. Be careful how you apply this knowledge, as it can quickly become annoying or just plain creepy. We recommend that you apply your insights passively with “at risk” navigation or with customized imagery. Very small but smart changes based on visitor behavior can have enormous impact on visitor stay and conversion rates.
Visitor Engagement Through Adaptive Experience
By simply changing the main masthead image of a landing page, we’ve seen over 40% improvements in bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who arrive at a page and immediately leave). For example, if your website knows a visitor arrived from a page or keyword that relates to a specific industry or need, your site should adjust the imagery to help the visitor feel “at home”. The image can offer navigation that takes the visitor directly to their destination as well. This is much better than “confronting” the visitor with their visit information.
Let’s Get Started
If you’d like to increase your website’s IQ, start small. Try creating a few industry-specific landing pages and monitor the results. Once you experience the potential return on the effort, start planning for the technology upgrades needed to make it happen.
Whether you use Oxiem’s Websites That Think technology, or seek a similar solution elsewhere, we’d love to hear how you’ve made your website smarter. Drop us a comment or email and share your experience.