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Fresh Thinking

Category Archives: Technology

Do you need a new outfit?

Do you need a new outfit?

By | Culture, Customer Service, Email Marketing, Sales, Technology, The Future | No Comments

You know your audience, but does your audience know you?

We have some shocking information:
“Nearly half of all small business owners do not have a website.” [Clutch]

Without one, as small business author Jim Blasingame said: “You might as well be a ghost.” [Inc.]

That’s bad news for them. But you’re in luck – because you’re reading this blog. Which means you likely are in the market for an exceptional website. That puts you light-years ahead of the competition.

If you don’t have a website, you aren’t giving your audience a chance to know you.

A website is the equivalent of buying a new outfit and revamping your portfolio for a prospect meeting: It’s your chance to make a fantastic first impression. As in life, appearance counts for a lot – 75% of users admit to judging a company’s credibility based on their site design [Stanford] – but that doesn’t mean you can slack on substance. Design draws people in, but quality content keeps them.

Remember: A website is a handy marketing tool for you, too. Tracking activity and buying behavior via Google Analytics makes it easy for you to create the content people are looking for. Which is crucial, considering 96 percent of visitors don’t come to your site prepared to buy. [Hubspot]

Obviously, you want to create an awesome online experience that will turn your prospective customer into a loyal one. Your first step? Answering these three simple questions about your website:

  1. Does it clarify what you do?
  2. Is your contact information clearly displayed?
  3. Does it positively and attractively represent your business?

If your answer to any of the above is “No” or (gasp!) you have no website – it’s time to get started. Your website is the one online destination over which you have complete control – don’t neglect it!

 

 

 

The Polished Approach: Why Uber Doesn’t Scare People

The Polished Approach: Why Uber Doesn’t Scare People

By | Branding, Culture, Customer Service, Economy, Technology, The Future | No Comments

A few days ago I was watching a Comedy Central show called Nathan For You, in which a guy named Nathan “helps” struggling small business owners. Part of the show’s charm is that Nathan often has pretty good ideas, but (primarily for comedic effect) he implements them all wrong. In this particular episode, Nathan decides to initiate a motorcycle taxi service. At its core, the idea isn’t bad – bikes have lots of advantages over cars (namely the ability to legally weave throughout traffic), and the cool factor never hurts. So Nathan recruits a couple of biker-looking bikers in a bar and sends them out onto the traffic-riddled Los Angeles streets, instructing them to pull up alongside stopped cars and offer their services.

Not surprisingly, this approach is not met with much success.
Correction: this approach is not met with any success at all.

Why? Because it centers around a couple of biker-looking bikers grunting, “Hey, wanna get on my motorcycle?” And that’s it.

When you think about it, Uber is kind of a crazy idea too. You’re hopping into the personal vehicle of a stranger (often while inebriated) because they have a “U” sticker on their window. Sure, you have an app. They have an app. We all have apps, but what can the app really do if something goes awry? Yet somehow, Uber makes you feel safe. Uber’s app is cool. Uber’s ads are classy. Uber’s customer service is awesome. In short, Uber’s done a great job of marketing their services.

You need to give your customers a reason to trust your product, and a lot of that has to do with presentation. Even the best concept won’t get anywhere if it isn’t marketed properly – and that’s where we come in.

Don’t get in your own way. Call Counterintuity today!

Image by Mark Warner is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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6 Ways to make your website work in 2013

By | Email Marketing, News, Technology, The Future, Websites | No Comments

Trends change with the times, and web design is no exception. Here’s what we think will be important in 2013 to keep your website (and business) up to date.

1. RESPONSIVE DESIGN
The majority of Internet traffic is already from mobile devices. In 2013, responsive design—enabling interaction from tablets and smartphones as well as desktop computers—will be crucial.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA BADGES
In 2013, it’ll be more important than ever to add social media badges to your website. Why? To build brand loyalty between your customers and you. And be sure to update to the current badge or logo, so no one thinks you’re behind the times. (Ahem, Twitter.)

3. LARGE TYPE
Why? Because it’s easier to read and more visually appealing. Not to mention that larger type lends itself to keeping your messaging concise and action oriented.

4. FIXED NAVIGATION
What’s fixed navigation? It’s a design feature that keeps your navigation bar—links to the other pages and areas of the site—in a fixed position as you scroll around the site. This is a must for sites with heavy scrolling content because it helps people find their way around. In the age of the iPad, this will be more important than ever.

5. BIG PHOTOS
Humans are visual creatures—our brains are wired to respond to images. Expect more of that in 2013: quick visual takeaways that carry an emotional wallop.

6. MORE VIDEO
Now that everybody knows online video keeps people on a website 50% longer, expect to see even more of it. Given how easy it is to produce high-quality, low-cost video, we anticipate that companies of all size will be putting a lot more on their sites.

Ready to get with the times? Email us so we can help.

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Fresh Thinking: Six social media basics you should follow

By | Email Marketing, Facebook, Social Marketing, Strategy, Technology, The Future, Twitter | No Comments

Social media isn’t a fad – it’s one of the most exciting marketing tools at your disposal. Not sure how to work it? Here are six basics to get you started:

1. Create a social strategy

Create a plan for your social media to follow. This means choosing which social networks to use, when and how often. Social media is partially trial and error, but with a defined purpose! Make changes to your strategy as you go, but don’t overthink it.

2. Establish your voice

Social media is great for broadcasting interesting content, relevant articles, fun pictures or timely topics but don’t forget to present all of your content with interactivity in mind. Always listen to your audience and create opportunities for them to respond to your posts, not just read them. You can make any piece of content interactive – so make sure you do.

3. Engage your audience

Have fun with your social media voice! Social media is conversational and smart, fun and informative and never meant to be boring or ordinary. Think about what sets you apart and incorporate it into your messaging. Remember to steer clear of sounding like an advertisement or a lecture – keep it casual but professional.

4. Think quality not quantity

Remember to put out only the best content that you find helpful for your audience. There is no formula for how many social networks you should use or how often you should update, but it’s best to stick with what makes sense for your brand. It’s better to have one solid and consistent social network than several sparsely updated ones.

5. Set realistic expectations

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see an immediate surge in activity and followers – practice patience and stick to your social media strategy. The more you use social media, the more you’ll see the organic growth of your effort.

6. Measure your success

Pay attention to your analytics, numbers and responses. Likes, comments and shares are Facebook’s currency, but don’t get too stuck on numbers. Numbers grow as engagement grows, so stick to your strategy, monitor your numbers monthly (daily, weekly) and measure your success in terms of qualitative feedback.

Need help with your social media? Email us!

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Tech Tuesday: Twitter, play fair so I can share

By | News, Social Marketing, Technology, Twitter | 2 Comments

Let me be clear, Twitter is my favorite social network. I love the simplicity, power and speed that the service allows me as a user. While all the other social networks seem hellbent on coming up with the next big thing, Twitter takes care to refine itself rather than morph into a completely new animal and for that I am grateful. That’s not to say that Twitter hasn’t had its fair share of changes too, but none were so radical that I felt the need to sign petitions. Until now. Kinda.

Twitter has rolled out some new rules regarding its API in order to “deliver a consistent Twitter experience.” In a world filled with inconsistencies, it would be nice to have something simplified and unwavering. But hasn’t Twitter always been the wild West of social media, where users, developers and innovators can take customizing their experience to the maximum of their abilities? I suppose we users can’t really complain since Twitter is a free service. But what about third-party applications such as HootSuite, Echofon and Tweetbot? For them, this means having to play by Twitter’s new rules or getting ready to tank. Say goodbye to any app that uses unauthenticated Twitter API calls. The wild West is over.

So why the changes? Monetization. You can’t blame Twitter for trying to monetize their data and how it’s used, but you can be annoyed. Personally, I don’t see this making a huge impact on my daily Twitter use on my computer as I prefer to use Twitter’s web interface anyway.

Then there’s mobile. That’s a whole different story. I’m anxious to see how these changes play out on my mobile Twitter usage, where I have never used Twitter’s apps. I have used a variety of third-party Twitter apps on Android and iPhone and I prefer any of them to Twitter’s mobile app. It’s mobile that is getting everyone up in arms over these new changes and I have a feeling it’s going to get ugly.

Do you have a preferred third-party Twitter app you like to use? Has Twitter outraged you to the point of no return? I’d love to hear your take in the comments. Rants welcome.

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Wrong way to write

By | News, Technology, The Future | 2 Comments

(image via android authority)

Google just launched a feature called Handwrite that enables mobile search from handwriting recognition. (Here’s more info.) Change a setting on  your smartphone or tablet and Google search can work from your finger-scribbled handwriting.

Theoretically.

I say that because as bad as your handwriting is — and I’m pretty sure it’s not good, given how infrequently you’re deploying it — mine is worse. But even writing as carefully as I could, in block letters, here are the results Google Handwrite gave me:

  • For my name, “Lee Wochner,” I got “lee w0dhto.” (Note that that’s a zero, not a letter “o” in the result. And also:  You would’ve tried your name first too.)
  • For “association,” I got “tion.”
  • “LAX,” the airport I’m sitting in writing this, gave me “yxl.”
  • And, astoundingly, Handwrite couldn’t even recognize the word “Google,” turning up a link to an organization with the acronym “CAATE.”

Let’s just say I don’t think Siri is worried.

Even if this worked (which, so far, it doesn’t), what’s the need? In what way is trying to write by hand on your iPhone more efficient than pecking the letters in from the popup QWERTY keyboard?

Innovation does not always equal improvement.

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A day of digital detox

By | Culture, Email marketing, Email Marketing, Facebook, Technology | No Comments

Yesterday,  thanks to a Baby Bell conglomerate who shall remained unnamed, our office got an unintended retreat from our lifeline, the Internet.

For the first hour, sheer terror set in.  No email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no website access – the very tools of our trade were literally inaccessible.  By hour three, with a bevvy of IT and AT & T (whoops, spilled the beans) specialists working on our equipment like a fine-tuned team of neurosurgeons, panic had turned to acceptance.

Forced to work offline, some began writing, others reading printed materials and whitepapers long ago placed in the “Must Read” box.  Though disconnected from the 21st century, we connected with each other, our clients and our industry by makeshift methods our grandparents would have thought customary.

Yet an inexplicable calm and sense of accomplishment filled the air, even into hour five.  We had unintentionally yet successfully “unplugged” for the day. Instead of Armageddon, we experienced a temporary respite from the online hullabaloo.  We caught our collective breaths, read about advancements in our industry, brainstormed aloud and on paper, and recollected (or for the youngers, learned) what it was like to be marketers in the pre-digital era.

The Internet is back up today. While we’re all ecstatic to have the trappings of our modern workspace back, our unintentional day of surrender taught us that an occasional day spent unwired can be a beneficial and even necessary experience.

In fact, we can’t wait to tell everyone on Facebook about it!

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Don’t buy into the Facebook iframes hype–YET

By | Change, Design, Facebook, News, Social Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Courtesy of blog.madarco.net

We have been diligently researching the Facebook switch on Friday from FBML to iframes.  Our advice?  Don’t panic. Static FBML will be around for awhile.

All this move changes is that developers and designers now need to know HTML and have access to a hosted site in order to make custom applications and graphics for your Facebook page. Most page owners don’t realize that this is simply a change in how the coding of a Facebook app (i.e. a custom page) works.  It’s a slow phasing out of Static FBML, Facebook’s proprietary application that allows users with little coding experience create custom tabs Facebook Pages.

With an iframe application, the main difference is that content must now be located within an HTML document that is hosted outside of Facebook’s servers—usually, your own website (although they can and should be hidden). An iframe is simply HTML code or “inline frame.”  Basically, customs apps will now be a hosted “web page” layered on top of your Facebook Page.  And your designer will need to know HTML.

There is already a lot of hype surrounding this change, and a lot of companies are trying to make money off of it, such as Wildfire and Involver, to name a few.  Don’t buy into the propaganda.  Remember that “Free for 3 months” is not ultimately free.

In fact, there’s even a possible SEO downside to switching to iframes. At present, search engines do not crawl content within iframes, so anchor text links on your existing FBML tabs will not be crawlable.  Unless something changes, iframes have absolutely no search engine value, and FBML does.

Your existing Static FBML tabs (like welcome pages and contests) will be fully supported by Facebook for a while. They can still be edited or replaced with new FBML code. No page owner with FBML-based apps needs to panic.  When your current FBML apps no longer serve your audience, that’s the time to look into iframes.  Right now, the cost of recoding into HTML and adding monthly hosting fees are too high to justify a switch.

For the near future, there is no reason we can see to upgrade existing static FBML tabs to iframes. Rest easy for now, Facebook  friends.