Archive for the ‘Optimization’ Category

The Semantic Web. An Introduction.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The web has been in a constant state of evolution ever since the birth of the internet, and we are entering a new phase which focuses on making the web more connected, more open, and more intelligent.
semantic web
There has been much debate about what to call this new phase of the Web. Here are some of the most common names being used today:

  • Web 3.0
  • The Intelligent Web
  • Semantic Web

Timeline and Definition

Web 1.0 was, as it infers, the first generation of the World Wide Web. During this phase, the focus was primarily on making it accessible to everyone, building it out, and commercializing it. The main areas of interest were centered on:

  • the creation of Web sites
  • Internet access through ISPs
  • the first Web browsers
  • open standard markup languages such as HTML and XML
  • Web-centric software languages such as Java and Javascript

Web 2.0

web 2.0
Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the web which began in the early 2000’s. The focus of web 2.0 is centered on:

  • AJAX
  • Social Networking
  • Collaboration
  • Social bookmarking
  • Media sharing
  • Wikis
  • Communication tools
  • The emergence of the mobile Internet and mobile devices

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is the common term being used to refer to a third-generation web. This new phase began around 2007 and is focused on the user experience. More specifically, Web 3.0 makes it possible for machines to better understand information in order to provide the user with a more productive experience. Some of the main areas of interest include:

  • Microformats (see also Schema.org)
  • Resource Description Framework (RDF), an official W3C Recommendation for Semantic Web data models
  • Vocabularies such as OWL and SKOS
  • SPARQL, the query language for the Semantic Web
  • Inference (reasoning over data through rules)

Once a computer can understand the meaning of words, such as the difference between a person, place, and event, it can start helping you engage with and organize these things. For example, let’s say you get an invitation via email for a party. If it is marked up as an “event” and includes an identifiable date and location, you can simply tell your computer to save the event to your calendar. Here is a YouTube video that gives a great simple intro to the Semantic web.

While it’s important to understand the basics of Web 3.0, it doesn’t mean you need to immediately throw away what works today and recode your website. Rather, the semantic web is intended to solve simple problems and adapt to current behaviors and usage patterns.

However, it is highly recommended that you start including microformats into your webpages, the earlier you can start the better. Web technology moves like fire so you’ll be that much ahead of the game and won’t be trying to catch up.

Need help incorporating semantic web technology into your mobile and web platforms? We can help. Call us at 818-806-3868 or contact us today.

Content Marketing Trends Your Business Should Be Focusing On

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Contently recently released their quarterly issue, For the Love. If there is one thing you should read this week, its this publication. Here are few key points we felt were highly relevant to our customers and their businesses.

Content Marketing Trends

Four Content Marketing Battlefronts

Businesses should be conquering these four content areas in the coming year. (Find this on page 3 – The Publisher’s Note)

1. The Brand Publishing Arms Race – to recruit better talent and tell better stories. Here, here!

2. Truth in Advertising and the question of whether brands are going to proudly own their content, or revert to devious tricks.

3. Audience and the rise (and risks) of platforms that are trying to get more eyeballs in front of branded content.

4. The Numbers game in which brands will need to completely rethink publishing metrics and how to tie them to business results.

Three Content Formats About to Take Off (and be Abused)

Read full article on page 13

1. Video and Animation
Interactive brand stories drive engagement – if done right.

“When you have devices like video and animations to use, a brand’s personality – and the emotion of the story – can be more clearly communicated. The more interactive, personalized, multi-layered, shoppable, and engaging your content, the more time a consumer will spend within the experience, it’s in the [metrics].” – Renee Osgood

2. Branded Documentaries
They aren’t radio with pictures. The story must be the forefront, not the sale. Don’t make online and afterthought to bringing stories and articles to life. If you are filming interviews, find a way to propel the story by including “activities and drama that justifies telling the story through video, as opposed to another medium.” – Ryan Spanger

3. Personalized Experiences
Avoiding the creepy to get to the cool. Find a personalization strategy that gives customers an experience that benefits them, no just your bottom line.

“The [customer information] that marketers need to capture in order to create a tailored and delightful experience for their customers is the very information that their customers are increasingly worried about providing.”- Scott Robinson

Remember: The key is to focus on long-term success, not on the tactical.

Built a strategy that is backed by marketing objectives, this is the best way to ensure your marketing effectiveness and overall success.

“Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” – Joe Pulizzi

To read the full issue of For the Love, click here.

Need help creating a content marketing strategy for your business that builds trust, helps your customers and helps your business grow?

Contact us today.

Build Brand Reputation and Visibility Through Expert Question and Answer Apps

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

There are a few websites and apps gaining in popularity right now that are focused on community-based, user-generated questions and answers. The top three biggest players in this field right now are Quora, Cinch, and Jelly. Let’s take a look at each one and see how they stack up against each other. We’ll also give you helpful hints on how you can use these tools in your role as a marketing professional or business owner.

quora_logo_620px

Quora

Quora is by far the most developed of the three platforms and has been around the longest, since June 2009. It is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Questions are grouped by topic, and users can work together to edit questions as well as suggest edits to other users’ answers. You can also “vote up” questions that you want to see answers to.

Quora is available as a website, however they have also developed an iPhone and Android app as well. The cherry on top came last year when they rolled out a blogging platform. The last main updates that Quora released in 2013 is the ability to search the full text of questions and answers, and finally, the ability for writers to see how many people have viewed their questions and answers.

There are already many well-known people that are actively engaging in the Quora community, such as Rand Fishkin and Ashton Kutcher. This boosts the credibility of the website as a whole. If you’re new to the question and answer websites, this is a great place to start.

Jelly

Jelly

If you head on over to the Jelly homepage, they have a very well put together video you can watch that features the CEO and co-founder of Jelly, Biz Stone (Yes, that Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter.) He tells you the main idea behind the platform and how it all came about. Essentially he explains that they wanted to build a search engine that is built for today’s technology landscape. Their concept is “everyone is mobile, everyone is connected, so if you have a question, there is somebody out there who knows the answer.”

Jelly is an app that uses photos and people from your social networks to get you answers to your questions. It uses both your network and your extended network to give you access to a whole bunch of people who may be able to answer your question.

It was founded in April 2013 and naturally is not as developed as Quora. However, the image and social network aspects of the platform are what sets Jelly apart from Quora. Quora is much more text-and-topic based whereas Jelly is image-and-relationship based.

3017957-inline-screen-shot-2013-09-20-at-82439-am

Cinch

Like Jelly, Cinch is a relatively new platform and is only available as a smartphone application at this time (available for iPhone only). Made by the folks at Klout, cinch is “people directly helping other people by sharing their wisdom and knowledge and influencing them to make better decisions.” It is also geared towards the home advice industry specifically, so most users are interested in topics like gardening, cooking, furniture, and so on.

It was launched in September 2013, making this the newest app of all three platforms. It is not currently available outside of the US and there is no dedicated website for the platform. The developers are currently working on creating an Android app with the hopes of releasing it in the near future.

The app has received a bit of feedback from initial users saying it’s a great concept but some of the features are not quite perfected yet. For example, as of December 2013, users are not able to edit or delete submitted questions. Additionally, some users complain that the questions they receive to answer are not relevant to them. These are kinks surely to be worked out in the future since this is a young app.

What makes this app different is you can sign up as an “expert” and the app will automatically send you questions it thinks you can answer. The marketing potential of this app will grow as the number of users also grows.

How-To Use These Platforms For Marketing Your Business

These websites and apps are perfect to establish yourself as an expert in your field by providing authoritative answers on key topics. So for example if you sell a product like baby clothes, you can answer user questions on that topic and people will begin to respect you as an industry insider. The more answers you post, the more people will be able to read your opinions and expert advice.

Great for B2B and B2C Businesses

These platforms can be used as excellent tools in both the B2B and B2C industries. In fact, they offer quite a bit of marketing power for B2B industries, which is great news considering B2B marketing can be challenging in the eyes of many marketers and business owners. For example, Rand Fishkin is very engaged on Quora and answers all types of industry questions about SEO. If you’ve been in the online marketing biz for more than a minute, you know how well-respected Rand is on the topic of web optimization. Imagine the thrill if you asked a question and received a direct answers by Mr. Fishkin? Now imagine if you take the time to answer user questions across these platforms. You can become that type of expert in your own field, so that when people ask a question, they are thrilled to see that it’s been directly answered by you.

Track and Monitor

It’s best to try and get a pulse on your specific industry by setting up “listening” tools wherever possible. Quora lets you follow topics so you can stay up to date on whatever interests you. You can fine-tune your email preferences to only receive notifications about questions and answers you feel are important.

Finally, wherever possible, track your questions and answers to see how many people are viewing them, and actively think of new ways to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Ready to ramp up your marketing in 2014? Check out our services, email us, or give us a call at (818) 806-3868.

Have you used any of these Q&A sites or apps? Share your story by leaving a comment below, on Facebook or LinkedIn.

3 Ways to Improve Your Visual Marketing

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Just a few years ago, most marketing was focused around compelling copy. Crafting your words in just the right way to persuade your target audience to take action. That component is still important but more and more we are seeing how users consume content and that trend is more graphics.

Visual marketing is essentially using  the power of images to boost your brand, its messages and goals. Images can help people make sense of intangible things and abstract concepts, making visual marketing a great tool for B2B companies. Visual marketing can ultimately make your overall marketing strategy more powerful and more memorable. (Visual marketing should not be confused with visual merchandising, which refers to designing retail space in order to maximize sales.)

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.

(Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)

Brands today are spending increasingly more time on visual marketing. In fact, many experts agree that visual marketing is the way of the future. This week we’d like to show you 3 tips to help improve your visual marketing campaigns.

Tell stories.

visual marketing should tell a story
A picture is worth a thousand words. Create images that can tell the story of your business or brand. For individual social media posts, use one eye-catching image that concentrates on a specific point of interest. This will draw your viewers into the frame.

40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.

Source: Zabisco

Get your employees into the action. You can either showcase your business by taking photos of your employees, or you can give your employees a little bit of creative control and let them take pictures that capture their unique point of view.

Get your fans involved. Photographs are an excellent way to encourage conversation. Ask them to share their photo moments as it relates to your image. Photo contests are also a neat way to engage with your fans.

Evoke emotion.

facebook_header_image-blog-full
If you sell products, use pictures in your social media marketing in the same way you’d use a display window for window shopping. The pictures can lure potential buyers into your e-commerce site. Nordstrom’s does an excellent job at this across Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+.

If you don’t sell consumer products you can still utilize visual marketing successfully. Think outside of the box and create images of interest. Ask yourself: What would an outsider want to see about your business? How can you show the personality of your employees in images? For example, maybe you could do a montage of people’s lunches or work spaces.

Be consistent.

Boon-Marketing
It’s important to remember to incorporate attributes of your brand into your photographs. Maybe you want to always use the same frame or filter so that viewers will instantly recognize who created the image. Consistency is key in order to gain loyal followers and fans in the social media world.

Do you have a specific marketing question as it relates to your business? We’re happy to help! Give us a call today at (818) 806-3868 or shoot us an email and we’ll be sure to respond. You can also browse our other social media blog articles for more tips and advice on how to supercharge your marketing campaigns.

Shocking Amazon Cart FAIL: Learning from Big Brand Customer Experience

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

For years, Amazon.com’s cart and checkout process has been used by clients and digital marketing consultants as a best practice. Its ease of use, simplicity and seemingly flawless process is void of friction to the end user.

That is…until now.

eCommerce Conversion Optimization

You may be familiar with the latest Target credit card compromise causing hundreds of thousands of people to have their bank accounts cancel their debit cards and reissue new ones. Whether you’re a Prime Amazon customer or not you probably have that same credit card linked as a default payment in your Amazon.com account.

This reissue of cards did not impede on proceeding as usual with my purchases on Amazon, until Amazon sent me an email saying that my purchase could not be completed due to a declined payment.

Thank you Amazon for sending this email notification. I really do appreciate it.

Customer Experience Friction Point #1:

I receive an email notification that DOES list the products in it that have been declined for payment. I delete and do not click the button in it that says “Manage payment options.” Instead I use the mobile application to attempt to update my billing but, this functionality is not available.

I’ve already deleted the email so I don’t want to go back and find it, plus I feel reservations on clicking a button from an email using my iPhone. Also, I’m more forgiving because Amazon.com usually makes everything very simple for me. Plus, I understand there are certain limitations to billing and payment options/updating through mobile applications.

But, this is where things start to unravel. I need to now remember to update my payment options in the morning when I am at my desktop.

As it happens, I forget. I forget the next day too. I remember just before I fall asleep the night before but I can’t grab my phone. I’ve forgotten too many days in a row to late to update my payment information. My order is cancelled. Okay, fine. I get it. I’m not mad. It’s my fault anyway.

Customer Experience Friction Point #2:

Finally, I remember! My expectation is that I will log into my account (from desktop computer), go to my Orders or Order History and select the declined order. Right? Seems intuitive. But…nothing. No order to be found.

Okay, I start to panic. I then use some positive self talk, “Oh, they probably just put those items back in my cart.”

CART EMPTY! Panic.

The one scenario, quite possibly overlooked, no matter how small a percentage of folks (like me) wait too long to update their payment option. However, the issue is that there is no way for me to find out what items were in my order (unless I go back and find that deleted email, which may have been deleted deleted – you know what I mean). I remember one item, an Animal Bag from Boon, but I don’t know the others because my husband had added them.

Suggested Solutions for this eCommerce Problem:

  1.  Move the declined ordered items back into the customer’s cart, suggest adding a notification that indicates these specific items were added back to the cart due to incorrect billing information or declined payment.
  2.  Allow payment methods to be updated from mobile applications to allow customers to act when they can without device interference.
  3.  Send a new email notification with urgency “Your order will be cancelled unless you update your payment options in the next 24 hours.”
  4.  Send another email notification or SMS text to notify the customer of what has happened to these items OR if you can’t fix #1 and #2, tell the customer to save this email so they can add these items later and provide a link to update their billing.

How can all types of organizations learn from this eCommerce scenario?

45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly.

Forrester
While a good majority of businesses are still in the process of getting basic conversion tracking in place, it is not impossible to plan for optimizing conversions and your customer experience for the future.

Take some time to sit down with your team and map out different cart, checkout and user experience scenarios. Not just for the desktop experience but for your mobile experience too. Sometimes a good old whiteboard comes in handy for this type of exercise versus wireframes. Start from the ideal cart and checkout experience then throw in real life user scenarios to nail down where the holes and friction points are in your process.

55% of consumers would would pay extra to guarantee a better customer exprience.

Defaqto Research

No doubt, as seen in this secnario, some will be missed but if you can map out a good majority of these customer experience scenarios you will be improving your bottom line and eliminating a good percentage of loss in sales or leads.

Need help with creating these user paths for cart and checkout? We can help. Call us at 818-806-3868 or contact us today.

Photo credit: Bill Thompson

Key Takeaways from this Week’s Top 5 Digital Marketing Stats

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

digital marketing stats

Instagram captures 15 times higher interaction rates than Facebook.

According to research from L2 Think Tank which analyzed 249 brands and their social media campaigns, interaction rates for Instagram posts were 15 times higher than those on Facebook. [Source: eMarketer.com]

Takeaway:

If you haven’t yet ramped up your marketing campaigns on Instagram it’s about time you start. As a tip, you can easily insert Instagram custom tabs into your Facebook page now that Facebook owns Instagram. Many companies are experimenting with promoting Instagram campaigns on Facebook due to this higher engagement. For example, encouraging users to submit their own photos with the same Instagram filter (like sepia-tone or Lo-fi). This trend is likely to grow in the future if Instagram engagement remains strong for brands.

The average click-through-rate for Facebook Ads has jumped 275% since 2012.

Facebook has improved its targeting abilities since 2012 which is partly why CTR’s are on the rise. Another reason these ads are seeing more success is due to third-party Facebook ad tools. [Source: Wishpond]

Takeaway:

If you’re not happy with the ROI of your Facebook Ads, take some time to sit down and analyze why your campaigns may not be performing well. Maybe your ads could benefit from additional creative copy, or it’s possible you could have some tracking issues that are preventing you from knowing the true stats of your ads. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other professionals to help streamline your Facebook ad campaigns.

Companies that blog 15 times per month get 5 times more traffic than companies that don’t blog.

[Source: Ektron]

Takeaway:

Don’t let content marketing overwhelm you. Gather your team together every couple of weeks to brainstorm fresh content ideas. Then delegate responsibilities like managing the content calendar, writing and editing articles, and promoting across social media channels to different team members based on their skills and interests.

4 Out of 5 Yelp users visit Yelp.com before spending money, and 93% say that visiting Yelp leads to a local purchase.

According to a Nielsen survey commissioned by Yelp, four out of five Yelp users visit Yelp.com before spending money, and 93 percent say that visiting Yelp leads to a local purchase. [Source: MarketingLand]

Takeaway:

Online Reputation Management is an important part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Whether you’re a local business with a presence on Yelp or a global brand with wide international reach, it’s inevitable that your customers and other key audiences will talk about you online. Creating a plan for ORM can help save time and stress when issues arise and keeps the pulse on emerging competitors and developing trends.

Daily we spend 9 minutes on email via a mobile device, that is 7.6% of the total 119 minutes we use our phone per day.

[Source: EmailMonday]

Takeaway:

It’s time to ensure your mobile email marketing campaign is flawless. If you’re struggling with your email marketing campaigns now that mobile is dominating the market, get help from a pro. You don’t want to miss out on business just because your promotional emails aren’t displaying properly on mobile devices.

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