Friday Fun Fact: The Mobile Marketing Movement

With the majority of mobile phone subscribers now owning smartphones, as opposed to their more primitive ancestors, it doesn’t take an expert researcher to know that mobile internet usage is huge. After all, these devices were invented to put the World Wide Web right at our fingertips, so why would we go back to tethering ourselves to a desktop simply to conduct a Google search or check Facebook? But businesses, especially SMBs, need to see the hard-and-fast data on mobile web usage in order to plan their marketing accordingly. Below, we’ve outlined the basic mobile fun facts that you need to know.

percent-40 The percentage of people who conduct mobile searches on their phones every day
percent-70 The percentage of mobile searches that prompt the customer to call or visit a business, or even make a purchase, during the same day as the initial search
percent-81 The percent increase in mobile data usage between 2011 and 2012, as reported by Nielsen
percent-61 The percentage of retail and restaurant brands, both large and small, that used location-based targeting in the first 6 months of last year to boost in-store traffic. The spending on this targeting grew by an average of 11% per month during this period.
2014 The year that mobile internet usage is expected to outweigh desktop usage

While the mobile trend may seem daunting, and even threatening, to SMBs, it is not going away. The good news is, even though you may be puzzled about how to approach this movement, it actually creates a whole new world of opportunities for you to connect with your customers and bring them into your establishment. Mobile friendly and mobile sites, responsive design, location-based targeting, the list goes on.

So what’s holding you back? Jump head first in to the wonderful world of mobile marketing! Contact us today and see how we can help you meeting your mobile goals.

Keep Your Site in Tip-Top Shape with Your Google Webmaster Report

On Tuesday, we discussed how to spot check your website each week. Now let’s look take a look at the next tool to use to keep your website running at 100%: Google Webmaster.

Google Webmaster

Your website should be connected to this free tool provided by Google to help you monitor its health and progress. The Google Webmaster provides a myriad of different tools to make sure your site is running smoothly. Here are the two main areas of your Google Webmaster:

  • Dashboard: The Dashboard is a quick screen showing you a snapshot of some of the most frequently used Google tools in the webmaster. On this screen you will see Crawl Errors, Search Queries and Sitemap.
  • Configuration: This field is where you find all the tools you need to use Google Webmaster. You will have access to add users, check settings and adjust items pertaining to your web address or URL.
  • The three sections of Google Webmaster described below are used to check a website’s status:

    • Health: This is the area in which you will be able to see if Google has identified a Crawl Error. Should a Crawl Error be found, Webmaster is indicating that the Google bot is unable to access a page on your website – i.e you have a broken link. It’s extremely important to identify and fix crawl errors to ensure your broken links are fixed. Another tool provided in the Health section is the Malware feature, which will tell if your website has been infected by a virus.
    • Traffic: This section relates to being found in Google search queries and the traffic you are receiving. Here you can review both inbound links to your website and internal links.
    • Optimization: This category has some important tools for double-checking your website. Review the Sitemaps feature to confirm that all the content on your website is submitted to Google. If you put up content daily or weekly, then take note of the numbers being seen in Google each week on the report. HTML Improvements is also found in this section and it will show you pages and posts on your site that are missing Title Tags, as well as places where you used duplicates. Google really likes unique titles per page, so be sure to edit these identical tags to properly optimize your site.
    • By spending a little time with your Google Webmaster each week, you can ensure that your website stays in tip-top shape.

You’re in Good Hands…Really?

When we talk about the changes that digital marketing and especially social media have made in the way we do business today, one thing we have to consider is the fervent intensity with which the public now examines claims made by advertisers – and the lightning speed with which any disconnect between the objectively observable reality and advertising message is revealed.

That’s a lesson Allstate Insurance is learning right this moment. The company featured the Hurricane Sandy-devastated home of Sheila and Dominic Traina in one of their recent commercials, in a spot that focused on how caring and compassionate their insurance agents are, but according to local news reports, the real story is that the Traina’s are far from satisfied with Allstate. They’ve only been offered $10,000 for their home, and aren’t one bit happy about it.

Why would you choose this couple to feature in your advertising?

As marketers, we really need to be confident and secure in the knowledge that any time we use a case study or personal example to tout our own products and services, the customers involved were actually satisfied. This is important for national brands, but we think it’s even more important for small businesses that serve focused or niche communities. It only takes one story like the Trainas’ to sway the opinion of a small, tight-knit community. Isn’t it worth the time to double check your sources before you run the story?

Social media has encouraged a strong sense of skepticism among us. The proliferation of amazing claims and jaw-dropping videos (remember the eagle that snatched the baby in Montreal?) have trained us to believe only reluctantly. Any hint that something might not be 100% true brings out legions of people who want to discuss the situation in excruciating detail. Imagine being the business owner at the middle of that conversation. Everywhere you turn, you’re hearing people talk about how your organization is dishonest and cannot be believed. How do you think that influences your current and potential customers?

Smart social media marketing means being aware of the public’s tendency to skepticism, and present information that is true, verifiable, engaging and amazing – all at the same time. We know, easier said than done – but it gets much easier with a plan and practice. In the weeks to come, we’ll be discussing what goes into that plan and practice. If you’re a small business owner, you won’t want to miss it!

How To Spot Check Your Website

For the New Year, I wrote an article on Small Biz Trends titled “Your Website: Do You Know When It’s Time for A Tune-Up?” The purpose of this post was to provide people with a checklist of things to do to make sure that their websites are in tip-top shape. The article discusses how to give your website a weekly, monthly and quarterly check-up. This week let’s look at how the TTG team goes about an item in the weekly check-up.

The 3 items in the weekly check-up are:

  • Spot Check
  • Read Google Webmaster Report
  • Review Your Google Analytics

Today we’ll focus on Spot Checking

When a website is built, most companies spend a great deal of time testing, but after the launch, edits are made from week to week and the testing mentality is not often as thorough. When you spot-check your website, here are a few things to look at:

Review older or staple pages
icon-brokenlinks

Check to see if the links on the older pages are broken. Next, review where the links send your web visitor; is this the copy you expected? They may not be broken links, but the content may not be what you would want your customer to click to if they came across this page.

Often times we have found older pages, or even staple pages like team bios, can have incorrect links, but not broken links.

Check for Inconsistencies
icon-inconsistent

Are all the icons you’re using the same style? Have you found one that looks different? Be sure to click the links and make sure they all go to the same place.

Recently I found two different Twitter icons on a new client’s site; one went to the correct Twitter handle and the other did not. It was not a broken link, but the variation in the Twitter icon that caused me to think someone else created this link, not the original designer.

Comparison of Duplicate Information
icon-duplicate

You have heard me say this before: duplication on your website can be a good thing. You will have your contact information on the contact page, but it may also be in your website footer. Review the duplicate information you have and make sure it is the same.

You’d be surprised how many people change a phone number on the contact page but forget the footer. Also, be sure to look through your site for elements embedded in the copy. For example if you tell people to “Call You at ##” and you have your number on the page to keep them from having to look for it, then that will need changing too. There is no program or bot to help with this; you will need a human being to review and spot check this type of item.

Spot-checking is an opportunity for you to catch things with fresh eyes. Be sure to spot check your web site when you are in a good head space and not rushing.

Don’t Be a Bad Luck Brian: Double Check Your Work in 2013

We’ve all had this problem before in the first weeks of January; whether we’re writing a check or taking down notes, we accidentally write the previous year. It’s a simple mistake that anyone can make out of sheer habit. For a whole year, we’ve been conditioned to date things 2012 and now all of a sudden we must adjust. Due to this issue, many of us may start to wonder where our scheduled Facebook posts have disappeared to.

Bad Luck Brian Facebook Schedule

When you choose to schedule a post, you have the option to either schedule it for a future date or back date the post (you can schedule as far back as 2008). In these first few weeks of January, it can be easy to accidentally choose 2012 rather than 2013. If you fall victim to this mix up, don’t panic. Simply copy the status that was backdated and re-post it with the appropriate date scheduled. Then delete the back dated post.

Facebook Schedule

Though this is a minor mishap, it does remind us that we must be extra vigilant during this transition period, not only when scheduling Facebook posts, but in all areas of our businesses. Check all of your important documents to ensure that they are dated correctly. Don’t stop with the date, let this new found attentiveness seep into all areas of your business. Re-read your proposals carefully for spelling or grammar errors, double check your blog posts, triple check your social media. Set aside the time that you never thought you could afford to take to ensure that everything that leaves your hands meets your standards.

Let 2013 be the year of no mistakes, or at least fewer ones.

How To Avoid Alienating Your Website Visitors

The average internet user in the US spends 32 hours per month online. Spending this much time online means that users run into things they like and things that make them a little frustrated. Below is a list of features that generally annoy users and should be avoided on your site.

  • Logo NOT Linking to the Homepage: Web users have come to expect to be taken back to the homepage when they click on your logo on the top of the page. Even if you have “Home” in your main navigation, visitors will likely click on your logo when they wish to return to your homepage. If the logo does not link back to Home, the visitor will be both confused and frustrated, as depicted in the meme above.
  • Auto-Playing Audio or Video: Users generally do not enjoy being surprised by music or video that they are not expecting to play when they visit a website. They may be listening to music or watching a video in another window, so this automatic media is disrupting to their experience. The auto-play may seem like a good idea to capture a visitor’s attention, but this often causes you to lose them for good.
  • Difficult to Find Contact Information: Many of your website visitors may have come to your site for the express purpose of learning how best to contact a company representative. Little more can ensure that these users never again return to your site than difficult to find – or worse – non-existent contact information. Internet users expect to see a link to a “Contact Us” in two places: the top navigation bar (generally on the far right) and in the footer. Once on the contact page, they want to see an email address, phone number and physical address at which they can reach a company representative. If you have a contact form too, that’s great, but users like to be able to choose how they can contact you, not be forced to fill out a form.
  • Log-In Screens: Screens that immediately pop up asking users to log in block your content and may prevent visitors from clicking through to view your site. If you allow users to surf your site as a guest, do not immediately cover all of your content with a log-in screen.
  • Distracting Ads: Pop-up ads or ads that enlarge when users hover over them not only annoy your visitors, they detract from and hide your valuable content.
  • Required Add-Ins: Anytime you require a user to install an add-in to view your content you are risking them choosing not to install the add-in and simply leave your site.
  • Complex Main Navigations: Your main navigation should be straight-forward and easy to follow. There should be a tab with what you offer (your products and services), who you are (about us), how to get in touch with you, and a tab for your blog. Once you start including too many items in your navigation it becomes difficult for the user to find the information that they are looking for.

Many of these features may have been in-vogue at one time or another, but today’s web visitors use more than computers, they also use tablets and phones, and some of these features can alienate the visitor. If you’re finding that your site contains a few items on this list, you may need a little Technology Therapy®. Contact us for a consultation today!

Getting It Right In 2013

As 2013 approaches, we must ask ourselves what will allow us to “get it right” with technology in the New Year. This year we had to adapt our SEO practices to Google Penguin and continued Panda updates, adjust to Facebook’s new Timeline, learn how to leverage Pinterest for business, and enhance the user web experience with responsive design. Though these were all great additions to our web marketing tool chest, we cannot hope to succeed by continuing to use the same practices in 2013.

Just as 2012 brought changes to social media, SEO, and web design, so too will 2013. What changes can we look forward to in the New Year? Social media platforms will begin offering e-commerce solutions, demand for responsive website design will climb to new heights and big buttons will be everywhere to accommodate the increasingly mobile and touch-friendly web.

Technology is not constant. The web is an ever-changing landscape. What was once effective marketing no longer reaches the desired audience. With so much around you changing on a whim, how can you possibly keep up? Technology Therapy Group remains your stable source for learning and growing with the latest innovations, web trends and marketing practices. Rely on us to help you navigate the New Year and all that it will bring!

Are you ready to leave 2012 in the dust and jump head first into 2013? We are! Change is hard, but that’s why we’re here. As the song goes, “I get by with a little help from my friends…” Add to this a little Technology Therapy at every step of the way so you can get it right in 2013.

Season’s Greetings from your friends at TTG. We wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!

A New Responsive Look to Meet Our Goals

At Technology Therapy Group, we have been discussing the desire for a new website for the past few months. We take pride in our clients and ourselves – I have always said we practice what we teach. So, no more waiting, it was time. We did what we ask our clients to do – we took stock of our goals and the message we wanted to send. Voilá! A new site was designed, coded and ready for launch.

Goal 1: Enhanced Education and Entertainment

learningAs owner and president of Technology Therapy Group, I spend time speaking and writing articles to educate and inform businesses about ways to leverage the digital world when marketing their company’s products or services. The goal with the new website was to grow this area; for this reason, we created a blog style format with daily posts as a way of meeting this goal. So start checking back daily for articles, graphics and videos that we hope will inspire, educate and even entertain you.

Goal 2: Go Responsive

i-responseWhen it comes to developing websites, everyone has to pick a direction. As a team, we all agreed we’re on the side of responsive design. For those of you who are new to the term “responsive,” to put it simply, it means that websites designed in this way will resize for the different technologies that it’s being viewed on. Features stack as the size of the screen changes so you have one design that auto-sizes for computers, tablets and phones. You can see this happen on a computer by changing the size of your browser window. Please take some time and check this out.

Goal 3: Scalability & Social Personality

i-scaleFlexibility and scalability are things we often talk to clients about, and they are important features to us as well. Over the next few months, we will be rolling out new features and pages on the website. We have a new portfolio section coming which is important to us and we’re eager to share it with you. It won’t come as a surprise to those of you who know us that we’re a pretty social group, and the new design was created to make sharing easier for all of us. So please feel free to get social with us, leave comments and share away.

There are a few more goals we had in mind; as we roll out new items, I will share our thoughts on these as well. In the meantime – enjoy the new TechnologyTherapy.com and if you have any questions, please reach out and book some time with me – Jennifer Shaheen, the Technology Therapist®. Thank you for your time and support. Happy Holidays!

Social Media Saves a Holiday Project

What many people do not know about The Technology Therapy Group is that we are a full service digital branding agency. We do whatever it takes to help our clients position themselves effectively. We’re even willing to embrace old-school technologies like print for special projects.

We’ve been working with Talisen Construction since they opened their doors in 2010. During that first year, we designed their brand identity – creating a logo, website and promotional materials. Then the holiday season rolled around. When I asked my client what his holiday gifting plans were, he told me they were giving gift cards and bottles of holiday cheer.

That was good, I told him, but it could be better. In 2011, things were going to be different.

Flash forward. Brainstorming sessions with the Talisen leadership team resulted in the plan for a coffee table book. The concept was to showcase New York City’s most iconic buildings. Our collaborative process made it easy for Talisen – they picked out the buildings they loved the most, and our team created a short, engaging story for each one. When all the pieces were put together, Talisen had a holiday gift their clients loved. The book was a big hit and received rave reviews.

That made planning 2012’s holiday gifting easy: we’d just do another book. But sometimes things that sound simple get complicated in a hurry. Remember Hurricane Sandy?

2012 – The Book That Almost Wasn’t

book that almost wasn't

Everything started out well. Having learned from experience, we deliberately built time into the Talisen coffee table book production schedule. By October, we had our topic selected, and were ready to embark on the project. Our team got to work creating a spotlight of the architecture and style of each neighborhood in New York City, from Harlem to Wall Street.

Enter Hurricane Sandy. No one was expecting a storm like this to hit the East Coast. Everyone was impacted. I’m not ashamed to admit that there was some concern that we would not be able to get the project done in time for print. Internally, we put on extra bodies and set aggressive deadlines and we made it happen. We had the book completed and to the printer before 6pm on 12/3.

On Friday December 7th at 9am I received a call from Talisen a very distressing call: the printer would not be able to deliver the book until after December 25th. This was unacceptable. Clearly we needed another printer!

I started to make some calls and then I stopped myself. Why spend hours searching when I had a whole world of talent at my fingertips?

It was time to leverage the power of LinkedIn. I looked through my 1st degree contacts and found Julianne of Kirkwood Printing. We had met over a year ago at theNew England Expo. That in-person meeting had a big impact: I remembered how much I’d liked her and her friendly, open personality.

printed book

I did not waste time with email – I jumped on a call and explained the situation. Before the end of the day she had a proposal to me and we had a deal. I am so impressed with how helpful Kirkwood Printing has been in a time of need – especially considering we were a new client at one of the busiest times of the year.

linkedin deliversLinkedIn really delivered on its promise. I’d been very uneasy when I’d started my Google search for a new printer. I didn’t know who I’d connect with or how trustworthy they might be.

LinkedIn is populated with people I have some reason to know, through personal experience or the recommendation of a respected colleague. That trust proved to be the vital component I needed to have in place to be comfortable awarding this crucial project.

Social media connections laid long before we ever contemplated doing business together made it easy to choose Kirkwood. This goes to show how important social media is. Even if the value is not immediately apparent, conversations you have today can totally transform the business you’re doing tomorrow.

book

Today we received the the coffee table book. We’re over the moon with the quality. Talisen, our client, is pleased with it – and they’re more pleased that Technology Therapy was able to solve the last minute printing problem, for a better price.

What’s your social media success story? Share it with us. We’d love to hear it!

back of book

Visual Marketing: Do You Get the Picture?

The written word can skillfully describe who you are and what you do, but the old stand-by “a picture is worth a thousand words” may be more impactful. How else can we explain the growing popularity of infographics and Instagram, the viral sensation of memes, why photos get more likes than any other type of post on Facebook and how Pinterest is driving more referrals than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined?  Further proof: on September 19th Twitter introduced the header image feature (similar to Facebook’s cover photo) to allow users to showcase more visuals in their profiles. With all these trends leading to a more picture friendly social sphere, there’s no doubt that you should be incorporating visual marketing into your overall strategy.

We know what you’re thinking: what is the best way to incorporate visuals into your marketing? The first step is to increase and update the visuals in your current marketing materials. For instance, update your Facebook cover photo to reflect the season or to highlight a recent project. Next, consider trying something new. Use Instagram to share pictures of your products and employees. Better yet, invite your followers to post creative images of themselves with your products. Pinterest is another great social media option where you can share gorgeous images of your products and drive traffic back to your website.

Finally, have some fun with visual marketing. The holidays are coming; ‘tis the season to reach out to your clients with personalized e-cards. While cards for the winter holidays are a must, you can stand out from the crowd by sending a spook-tacular Halloween card as well! Holiday cards help your clients relate to you on a personal level. It is a chance to update them on what is going on in the company, as well as to wish them season’s greetings. Think of the warm, cheery feeling you get when you receive a holiday card from a friend who has moved away. This is the kind of feeling that you’ll invoke in your clients when they open a personalized creative holiday e-card from your company.

Here are some tips for a successful holiday e-card.

leaf 1. Show Your Sensitive SideRemember to be sensitive to cultures and religions. For example, in the winter months it is best to send a “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” card, rather than to focus on one specific holiday.
calender 2. Plan AheadStart early especially if you are hiring your marketing or graphic design firm. We know that we get increasingly busy around the holidays, and we’re sure you experience the same holiday rush!
red-bow 3. Tie It TogetherIf your planning an eblast be sure to also post a copy of the holiday greeting in you social media and on your website. This will increase your reach and the joy for your clients.

If you need help with a creative ideas for your business this holiday schedule a free consultation. And don’t forget to keep a look-out for the continuation of our Visual Marketing blog series! Next: Pinterest!

Educate and Entertain Your Audience Visually

Visual marketing not only allows you the chance to share images of your products, it gives you a chance to work your creative muscle. Though all visual marketing platforms require creativity and an eye for design, infographics and memes give you the opportunity to think outside the box more than most. The viral nature of these visuals makes them even more exciting! Who doesn’t want a chance to connect with and inform their target market on a broad scale? Below we delve into what each of these tools is and how you can make them go viral!

Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of information, data and statistics. They allow you to present information in a visually interesting manner. This format not only allows your audience to absorb what you are trying to get across at a glance, it grabs (and holds) their attention. In fact, well-crafted infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than plain text articles.

How can you make your infographic go viral?

  • Stand Out from the Crowd – Be sure that you pick an interesting topic and a memorable title to break through the noise!
  • Keep Text Short and Sweet – The whole point is to be visually striking, and too much text can detract from that. We based our latest infographic, The Chutes and Ladders of Social Media, on the popular board game, allowing the players’ position on the board to depict how close they were to the winner’s circle.
  • Sharing is Caring – Don’t be afraid to share your infographic on social media platforms. Posting it on social media sites encourages others to share it as well and makes it easy for them to do so.
  • Diversify – Use a wide range of sources for information and data.

Memes

Memes are cultural ideas or symbols that pass from person to person within a culture. The term was coined by Richard Dawkins, an ethologist and evolutionary biologist, in the 1970s. Originally, they were spread by word of mouth, but today memes have taken on a whole new life over the internet. Though they may be in the form of a link, a video, a website or a hashtag, for our purposes we will only be exploring the most common type of internet meme: images.

Memes allow you to connect with your target market by capitalizing on a popular idea with which they already identify. For example, Success Kid is a popular internet meme depicting a toddler making a gesture signifying that he has done something right. When we take that image and apply a caption relating to SEO, we get the meme above. Anyone who has gone through the struggles of modifying his or her SEO practices following a change in Google’s algorithm can immediately identify with this meme.

How can you make your memes go viral?

  • Be Choosy – Don’t just pick any popular meme. Make sure that it makes sense with your message, fits with your culture, and won’t alienate your target market.
  • Humor Us – Memes give you a chance to be funny and show your brand’s personality.
  • Socialize – Share your meme on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and any other social platforms that you may use. If your followers find it funny, they’ll be sure to share it as well!

Ready to start having some fun with infographics and memes, but not sure where to begin? TTG can help you create visual marketing masterpieces that will show off your brand’s personality and resonate with your audience!

Read, Write, Repeat

Nobody likes to repeat themselves, but when it comes to marketing and sales, repetition is an important step to success. Repetition is necessary, especially in a world filled with so many distractions. Business owners understand how important it is to connect with their potential clients through various mediums. However, when we start creating content and areas of websites, often times we recommend to clients to repeat content.

Clients are concerned that the repetition on their sites is a no-no. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only will repetition help get you found on search engines, it can also help convert your sites’ visitors to customers. Outlined below are the three reasons why repetition helps rather than hurts!

1. SEO

Repetition of the keywords that you want to be found for is crucial to rank for organic searches. Frequently updating your site with fresh content, such as a blog, featuring these keyword phrases is an important way to improve your SEO. Of course, you must also be sure that you work the keywords in naturally to avoid sounding “spammy” and to choose blog topics that are of interest to your intended audience. This is a fine line to walk, and can sometimes be best left to the professionals.

2. Location, Location, Location

Not every visitor on your site is going to click through every page. Important content such as product or service descriptions, unique value propositions and calls to action bear repeating on several of your pages. When writing a page, ask yourself “if a visitor only saw this page of my site, would he know what my business does and why I’m better than my competitors?” If not, you should consider adding some content explaining your unique value proposition on that page. This is not to say that you should copy and paste the same words verbatim; slightly reword the message each time it is used.

3. Memory

Studies of consumer behavior have shown us that, on average, individuals need to see an ad at least 3 times to remember the product or brand. The same principle applies here. The first time a consumer reads a message on your site, they may just skim over it. The second time, they may read it a bit more closely. By the third time, the message starts to sink in. Thus, important messages should be repeated at least three times on your site, (if not more, to maximize its impact. Also, consider repetition within the page, as well as on different pages for your most important messages.

What does this all mean for your website? Don’t shy away from repetition completely, but do proceed with caution. Work the same five to ten keywords in throughout your website and repeat key messages in several locations. Also consider “recycling” old blog ideas. Search back a year or two in your blog history to see if there are any topics that have seen major changes since they were posted. As we discussed previously in our Business Blogging 101 post, you should take advantage of seasonal patterns for your business, giving you another opportunity for repetition. This strategy gives you a chance to post fresh content AND refer back to your past work, giving you credibility.

When this is all done correctly, your site looks trustworthy and valuable to both search engines and consumers. However, if this is not executed properly, your site will be off-putting to consumers and search engines alike. If you are not sure how to walk this tight rope, request a consultation with the Technology Therapist® to discuss a winning repetition strategy for your website.