Tips for Web Images

The old saying a picture paints a thousand words is applicable when adding content to your website. A proven statistic is that blogs with images, receive 94 percent more views compared to those without images. When presented images and text on a website, the reader’s eyes are naturally drawn towards the image. These days, it is almost effortless to capture images or add images to your website content. In this article, I will give you 4 tips on adding great images to increase traffic and boost the quality of your content.

1. Relevance

The first thing you need to ensure when deciding an image for your content is whether it matches the text. If you have an image that isn’t relevant to the text then it could confuse the reader into thinking you are writing about something else. The article shouldn’t be a puzzle for them to piece together. If the article becomes too confusing the chances are they will abandon reading it.

2. Background Removal

So, you have found the your chosen image. Then the second task to do is to remove the excess background of the image. For example, if you are writing about a product you want to draw the product to the reader’s eyes rather than its background. It can also make the file size to be smaller, but I will get to that later. There are a variety of benefits of removing the excess background of your image, not least that it allows to make the photos look a lot more revealing and attractive. More complex benefits of removing excess background and adding to a typical white background is that you may want to use the  Colour Psychology, a powerful way of communicating. The right colour pallet can help to sell your message not only in your photograph but in the whole content as well.

3. Optimising

Not optimising images properly results in extremely slow loading time. When publishing your images online, you must compress it. When uploading an image to the web you want to find the right balance between the file size and the quality. The higher your quality, the better your image will look, but the larger the file size will be. Huge image files on your site will slow down the loading of you page, this can affect your users experience and, after a period your search engine ranking. Most image editng software will have the functionality to optimise images at the point they are saved

4. Naming

Finally, when saving your image be sure to give it a correct file name. Most people just set the image as “Photo1.jpg” or “Untitled.” If you just take a minute to save your image as the correct name referencing its subject matter this too will improve your search engine optimisation. This is because the file name becomes part of the images URL, therefore a relevant name will make your URLs easier to navigate and interpret. All these steps will make our images look a lot sharper. Also, allowing your website to load faster and ultimately benefit your SEO.

Effective Marketing: Sometimes Less is More

Some things don’t change. At its heart, marketing is, and always was, about effective communication and engagement with customers and markets. Get a compelling proposition to a relevant market and people will buy! What has changed dramatically is the ever-increasing range of options for marketing communication – particularly online. Here are some of the more common ones… [su_row] [su_column size=”2/5″ center=”yes”]

Website Instagram
Blog Reddit
Twitter Pinterest
LinkedIn Tumblr
Facebook Flickr
YouTube Google+

[/su_column] [/su_row] Having an effective online presence is vital for any business but with som many options and new platforms coming online so regularly, what is the best approach for your business? The most common mistake people make is to try to run numerous platforms each on its own. Even if they keep them all up to date (unlikely!), it is difficult to maintain a consistent style and message. If you aren’t careful, different people can see your business as different things. This can get particularly confusing for the increasing number of people who can see you on more than one platform!

Take your pick

There is no right answer as to which is the best platform. It depends on you, your business and your target market. What I do recommend is to pick one platform as your focus and then use others to drive traffic back to your main site. Not only do I recommend you focus your attention on one primary channel, you need to be careful how many other channels you use as traffic drivers. Marketing is a process, not an event. You need to stick at it and the more channels you have, the more you must manage. The more channels you have, the greater the danger of letting something slip. It is all too easy to find yourself keeping up to date in some areas but letting others drift. Now you have a dilemma! There is always a fear in stopping some particular marketing activity! What opportunity might you miss? BUT…not using a platform is better than using it ineffectively. If you have content live on a platform that doesn’t properly reflect your business and communicate your proposition, people still see it. What they see is their impression of your business. Take a moment to check over your marketing platforms. Are they consistent? When was your last post/tweet/update?

Maybe Less is More?

If you find that one or another of your marketing platforms isn’t as you’d hope, maybe it is time to think that less can be more? Don’t stress about keeping everything up to date. Perhaps taking the decision to drop a platform is the way forward? For most businesses, a website is a natural choice as a primary web presence with social media, email etc working to drive traffic to your main site. However, don’t assume a website is always the way to go. Many consultants and similar sole-practitioner professionals have a strong presence on LinkedIn which can be easier to maintain and actually deliver a better core presence than a website. Also, think about your target market. People use different platforms in different ways. It may well be that some platforms are more suited to your business than others. Here is a link to a post looking at our own experience with Facebook – and why we dropped it.

Make the most of your content

Even if you do get more selective in the marketing platforms and channels you use, content creation can still be challenging. Producing good content is hard work so don’t be afraid to make the most of it! Reusing content on different platforms (maybe with a few tweaks as appropriate) is a great way to give more time to create great content while maximising the value you see from your content creation efforts. Check out this post for more info Getting more value out of less (but better!) content is the way to go to give yourself the best chance of sustainable, effective marketing communication.

Quality ahead of quantity

Create highly engaging, relevant content that really demonstrates how you add value to your customers. Use this content to continually refine and enhance your preferred primary web presence Communicate engaging links to your content across relevant, carefully selected platforms and channels. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking every marketing platform is a must-have. For effective marketing, less really can mean more….

5 Tips for Running a Social Media Campaign

Talking about a “Social Media” campaign is a little like saying you are planning an “Advertising” or “Direct Marketing” campaign (sorry, showing my age there!). In reality, the term is very broad, and so the first thing to do is to decide what you mean by “Social Media”, and which tools are actually relevant to your business. My first 2 tips will help to make a decision on this. For the purpose of this article, I will be focusing on the 3 main social media platforms namely Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn .

1. Know your Objective

As with any new marketing activity, the first thing you need to decide is what you are trying to achieve. Are you looking for leads that can be quickly turned into sales, or are you looking to build your profile and strengthen your brand, or a bit of both? The fact is that some social media platforms are better for lead generation, while others are more suited to awareness/brand building campaigns. For lead generation, Facebook and LinkedIn tend to be more powerful, with developed and well-targeted advertising offerings. Twitter on the other hand is more difficult to use as a lead generation tool, but can be an excellent option for building awareness.

2. Know your Audience

Knowing your audience, and where they hang out, is critical. There is no point in basing your strategy around Facebook if the people you want to engage with don’t use the platform. In short, you need to make sure that you are using the platforms where your audience is hanging out. More on this subject here. You also need to have a clear idea of what your audience is interested in. Understand these two things and you are half way to a successful campaign.

3. Set Goals

There is one thing that is certain when it comes to social media. It can absorb resource (both time and money) like a sponge. If you don’t have clear goals for your social media activity it is difficult to know whether the resources you are devoting to it are being effective. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all have analytics offerings, all of which allow you to monitor the key metrics for the platform. Couple these with data from Google analytics, and the effectiveness of your activity will start to become clearer. If you want to delve into this subject in more detail, you might find this post interesting.

4. Identify content source

The other thing that Social media demands is content, and lots of it. To be effective, you should be posting to your social media feeds regularly.

  1. Twitter – daily, or at least 2-3 times per week
  2. Facebook – depends on your market, but certainly 2-3 times per week
  3. LinkedIn – weekly, or at least 2-3 times per month

For sure, you will generate some of this content. But unless you want it to become a full time job, you will need to find some 3rd party sources for you social media content. To this end I would suggest a 3 pronged approach:

  1. Identify relevant websites that have active news feeds/blogs, and bookmark these. It’s then easy to check them regularly for shareable content.
  2. Use alert services like Google alerts or Content Gems. Both will send you an email digest of new content they have identified based on Keywords specified by you.
  3. Re share & re-tweet other content that you find, that you think may be of interest to your audience.

The ultimate objective of any content strategy should be to identify & share content that you feel will be of interest to your audience. By engaging your followers with interesting content, they are more likely to respond well to more sales focused messages when you drop these into your feed.

5. Keep at it

The final tip is simple to say, but in reality often proves to be the most challenging! That is to stick at it. Lets face it, there is little more off putting than finding social media feeds that are unused. In many ways, you would be better off not having a presence than having one that is out of date. In reality, the challenges of sustaining a social media campaign, are the same as for wider marketing activity. This subject is a post in itself, and as fortune would have it, one we have written previously – Sustainable Marketing, Keeping it Going.

Your Website – An end or a means?

Yesterday I received an email from a company inviting me to “Check out their new website!”. The email went on to sing its praises and highlight all its cool features. But the question I want to ask, was this the beginning or the end of the process. A process that usually starts with the phrase:

"Our website is looking tired. I think it needs a refresh".

The conversation then moves on to the design & functionality of the site and the process of finding a web designer to build it. And then continues:

  1. The design is agreed
  2. The site is built and tested
  3. The site is launched with a fanfare

Then its back to business as usual. The web development company’s job is done. Whilst this process is valid up to a point, and invariably results in a good website, In my opinion it misses the point, and ignores one key fact.

A website has one function - It is a marketing tool

With this in mind, the process above is missing a number of key steps, and should run as follows “Our website is getting in the way of our marketing efforts” This leads to the following process:

  1. Agree your marketing objectives, and how the website should support these
  2. Agree on design/functionality
  3. Build and test the site
  4. Develop your marketing plan to incorporate opportunities delivered by the new website
  5. Launch the site with a fanfare
  6. Roll out the marketing initiatives on the back of the new site
  7. Monitor/Measure and adjust activities based on results
  8. Tweak the site in light of this activity
  9. etc – on into the future

In other words, the building & launching of the site should simply be another step in the marketing process. In reality however, often the only nod to marketing tends to be “The site should be SEO friendly & keyword optimised” or “lets include a blog/news feed”, which in reality is never used past the first couple of months.

So What makes a website a good marketing tool

I should say at this point, that I am taking the following as givens:

  • A professional look appropriate to your market
  • A well built site with as few bugs as possible/no half finished pages
  • A “Search Engine Friendly” site

Over and above that to be a good marketing tool your site should also be:

Flexible

The fact is that things change. Your priorities & requirements one year on will not be exactly the same as they were when the site goes live. It’s important that a website can accommodate these changes in priorities allowing it to continue to support activities into the long term. This is one of the key reasons we use WordPress as our website platform of choice. The massive user base & development community ensures that new features are regularly being developed, and are usually inexpensive & simple to implement. Meaning that when you have that great marketing idea. the chances are that you will be able to develop the site to accommodate your ideas.

Easy to Update

Today, content is at the heart of Marketing, and is certainly at the heart of our support for clients. Thus your site should be able to accommodate ever changing & developing website content  – Content that tells your story, and proves your value. Whether you are updating the content yourselves, or working with a marketing/PR partner to deliver it, adding the content to your site should be a simple process.

Future Proof

Whilst it is impossible to fully future proof any website, making sure it is being continually developed and easy to update is key. Technologies and security requirements change, and it is important that your website can be updated to accommodate these changes without rebuilding it every couple of years. Again one of the key reasons we use WordPress – Keeping it up to date is a simple process.

So is your website an end or a means?

Hopefully you are now of the opinion that developing a website is not an end in its self. It is a means of easily communication your marketing message in a sustainable & controlled fashion. So as the old wisdom goes, It’s not what you’ve built it’s what you do with it that counts.    

The first step to effective business development: Just Do It!

Doing business is about engaging with people. A company does not do business with another company, people do business with people. Doing good business is about building a relationship between supplier and customer where the customer has confidence in the supplier and the supplier provides the products/services that deliver real value and benefit to the customer. Building relationships takes time. Whether it is a few minutes or several months, or even years, the development of the supplier/customer relationship is a process, not an event.

Stay pro-active

It never ceases to surprise me how many company owners say that they get all their business from repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. (i.e. they wait for their customers to come to them). There’s no question that repeat and referral business is typically very good business. The laissez-faire approach can be great while things are going well (low sales & marketing overhead means more opportunity for profit), but I believe it is dangerous. The wait for your customers to come to you scenario often arises where a company has a close relationship with a small number of key customers. The commitment to dealing with these customers and keeping the trading relationship good can mean that there seems to be no time to look more widely for business. And why should we? – things are going well! While these relationships may be good, the customers are also likely to be key target prospects for competitors and if the business of a key customer is lost – perhaps representing 20% or more of turnover, the consequences are obvious. Alternatively, a company may have promoted itself hard to build a customer base but as the business reaches a level where the owners are happy, the emphasis on Sales and Marketing reduces and after a while it can be difficult to get things moving again should circumstances change. I have said before, good marketing is a process, not an event. Even when things are going well in a business, perhaps to the extent that taking on more work could be embarrassing, the business development process should continue, albeit on tickover, maybe. Every business has its less profitable clients as well as its more profitable customers. New business opportunities might be a potential to reduce business with a less worthwhile customer to improve profitability without increasing the overall volume of business.

A sustained Marketing Process gives you control over your business.

Just do it!

The first step is simple. Decide to do something to develop your business Every Month – or Every Week. If you set aside half a day each week to focus on marketing and developing your business, you will be surprised what a difference it can make. I realise that the phone can ring and customers must be serviced but, in my experience, the time can be found. If you are really struggling, maybe you need to consider getting someone else involved? The word ‘consultant’ can be anathema to some people but, in my experience, they key is finding the right person and, if you do, the impact on both you and your business can be impressive. It certainly works for us! If you’d like to know our story, do get in touch I said earlier that doing business is about building relationships so a decision to approach even one or two new potential customers each week can be all that is required. As long as these contacts are tracked and developed the relationships which will lead to business can be built and the understanding of the market enhanced. Just do it!

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Why is it so popular to try to make a success of NOW – with no thought for the future? Maybe I’m just showing my age but I think Over Promise, Under Deliver is the scourge of the 21st Century In business, this is often true of the sales approach. The push to get the deal now means people can almost feel bullied into business and if the aim of the supplier is always to drive on for the next customer, the last customer can feel let down. As a result, we get a self-fulfilling prophecy. The customer can feel ignored and let down so next time they look for a different supplier. The last supplier loses the business so they are constantly looking for the next new customer – and so the cycle repeats! If you believe your customers aren’t going to stick with you, you will always be focussed on finding the next customer – yet doing this makes it even more likely they won’t stick with you! It’s scary and whether you are in business (or politics!), if you over promise and under deliver, keeping going will be tough. This may be what gets the headlines but underneath, in the real world that doesn’t tend to make the headlines, good business relationships do exist. They are typically based on the trust, confidence and respect that is earned when someone aims to Under Promise and Over Deliver – they deliver real benefit and make things better for everyone. A powerful win:win. If you are after a quick buck then join the rat race and keep chasing the next new customer but without delivering real, sustained benefit, it is hard to grow true business value. Good, long-term business needs trust, confidence and respect. It’s not about being perfect, it is about relationships and how you respond when maybe things don’t quite go according to plan. Poor service is never good. I recently found that my energy supplier had let me fall onto their standard tariff which was around 15% more expensive. I’m sure they sent me a letter but I missed it. Then there was nothing for nearly a year until I happened to pick up on it. I don’t want to spend my life checking on suppliers. They know they have a cheaper deal but don’t make any effort to tell me. They should have communicated regularly (using some of the extra we were paying them!) They know they could deliver better value but made no effort to make it happen. Needless to say, we have now switched! I believe in the principle of Under Promise, Over Deliver. We all have the choice – but I know which I prefer!