Category : Internet

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On Good Websites

In today’s digital age, your customers are expecting a website, for branding’s sake!  (pun intended).  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:  a website can make or break your brand.

So, what makes a good website?

Funny you ask—we were just getting to that.  Of course, what makes a website great depends partly on what it will be used for.  A school’s site, a personal webpage or blog, an e-commerce site — the quality is defined by different characteristics.  Below you’ll find a little insight from some of Strategis’ marketing and media mavericks on what they think makes a worthy website, regardless of the purpose it serves:

 

1)    Strategy

Design, meet Content.  Content, meet Design.  Marrying aesthetically pleasing, yet functional design to engaginstrategyg content rife with the appropriate copywriting is no task for the lighthearted, but as our graphic designer, Randi, put it: “content informs design.”   A good website knows that and isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftop.  Consider implementing this content-before-design strategy for all of your online marketing efforts.

 

2)    Usability

Remember, you’re not creating a website for you, but for your audience.  You might have thought that a scrolling feature would keep all the important information on one page, you might have thought that that snappy video was absolutely necessary, and you might not mind stretching your fingers over your smartphone screen in order to read the text clearly.

dilbert comic strip - usability

However, I’m with Creative Director, Juli, when she says “usability comes before design.”  We love sites that are easy-to-read, easy-to-navigate, and easy-to-understand.

 

3)    Personality

We know – there are some really well-designed and inspirational websites out there; but, we’re more interested in what your site says about your brand.  uniqueMaybe you prefer light colors and straight lines, or maybe you want vibrant patterns or interesting fonts.  Clean and simple does not have to be boring, nor does colorful and patterned have to be cluttered.   Account Manager, Lindsay, stresses that “your website should tell your story,” and most importantly, “your website should be cohesive with your brand.” From the get-go, a well-designed website is more than a mere appendage of your brand, it is your brand.

4)    Purpose

Has anyone ever told you to stick to the point? Well, we’ll try saying it in a nicer way:

Your website ultimately serves a lot of functions from product or service information, questions and answers, and creative portfolio, to enrollment, transactions, and contact information…the list is long, however, while a website shouldn’t be ambiguous, Randi also suggests that a website shouldn’t have frivolous information, either.  If you want them to purchase something, provide a checkout page.  If you want them to learn more, give them thorough product descriptions.  If you’re aiming for brand awareness, consider including an RSS feed or links to your social media accounts.  Establish your purpose and make sure that your content and design support it.

 

5)    Functionality

Design?                  green-check-mark                                Usability?                 green-check-mark

Content?              green-check-mark                                   Personality?          green-check-mark

Now, did you double check those links?  Are all forms error-free?  Have any facts or statistics changed over time?  Have you tested the site on other browsers?  Does everything function? Our advice: stay fresh to keep frustration to a minimum.

There will never be a “perfect” website.  There will be, however, well-designed and well-built websites that combine visuals, functionality, usability and act as a great support system for your business.  For some more insights on web design and development, marketing, success, or maverick/ninja tactics, find us here!

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Instagram Turns It Up a Notch

The upgrades continue! On August 7th, Instagram announced some new additions, including a video feature that will allow for its app users to upload videos previously taken on their smart phones (you can finally post that video from last year of you going skydiving!). As simple of an upgrade as it seems, it is a genius idea.

But what about Vine? The creative 6-second video-taking app seemed to spark major interest within a few weeks of launching, and just months later Instagram came out with its own video feature. So, is this copying or just smart marketing? Some people seem to think it was a smart and strategic move on Instagram’s part, while others believe it was a classic case of copying. There’s even a phrase that went viral after the upgrade:

“’Instagram, are you OK?’ ‘Yeah, I’m vine’ What was that?’ ‘I said, I’m fine…’”

As controversial a topic as this has become, most feedback claims that Vine won’t suffer, due to its large amount of avid and loyal users it already had. However, with Instagram’s newest feature, do you think that will change in the future?

In addition to Instagram’s new video ability, they also released a feature that allows you to balance/straighten the photos you wish to post, and a feature that now allows Android 4.0 owners to use the video feature on Instagram. With these constant new upgrades, Instagram is able to satisfy and provide more options for its users.

Now the question is, will Vine do anything in response?

Dun dun dun. The plot thickens.

 

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Xbox One and How It Affects Advertising

The unveiling of the Xbox One has been long awaited and highly anticipated. Microsoft, with creating Xbox One is trying to follow up one of the most successful gaming consoles ever in the Xbox 360. Needless to say, as someone who owns an Xbox 360, I had been waiting for this unveiling to see what new and exciting features that Microsoft had included on their new console. When I first heard about some of the new features of Xbox One, I was crushed to find out that it will not support old games from the Xbox 360. With this information, I had to search further to see if this would actually be a system worth buying. I found a number of qualities that make this console somewhat revolutionary.

One feature I found quite interesting was that you can upload your cable subscription right on to the Xbox One so you can watch TV directly from your Xbox. With this function, combined with the new Kinect feature that has voice recognition, you will be able to change the TV channel without touching the remote. But it doesn’t stop there. With this new voice recognition, users and TV watchers alike will be able to change the channel, surf the internet, or obtain more information about something they saw on TV with a simple voice command.

It has been speculated that if you were watching TV and an advertisement came up that you wanted more information about, you would simply just have to say “More Info” and Xbox would open up a webpage or link that directs you to information about the content. This is great for advertisers as it could possibly allow for more interaction with potential customers. It would also allow them to showcase their product or service even more than just a 30 second ad spot. This could potentially revolutionize television advertising. The interactive nature of the Kinect combined with modern advertising could possibly lead companies to new customers they otherwise would have been able to reach.

            With this new technology that benefits advertisers and the general public alike, Xbox One is being positioned and sold as the center of your living room entertainment. While this is a potentially great step for Xbox, I am not sure about the lack of attention they are giving to their original customer base: the gamers. Without the ability to play Xbox 360 games and some underwhelming projected game releases, it will be very interesting to see how well $500 Xbox One does when it is released.

Is being viral effective enough for Dollar Shave Club?

Introduced last year, Dollar Shave Club lends many forgetful men a hand shipping out blades every month for as low as $3 per month (including delivery) to make sure that every man gets his face clean. The first video of Dollar Shave Club “DollarShaveClub.com – Our Blades Are F***ing Great” gained 10.5 million views so far, winning Best-Out-of- Nowhere Video Campaign in 2012. And there is no doubt about it. According to Business Insider, advertisers need to bring out psychological responses – namely: emotions. They can be funny, warm, nostalgia, shocking, negative, and many more.

The first Dollar Shave Club’s video is hysterical. It embraces being funny, sarcastic, and honest. However, in spite of gaining 10.5 million views on YouTube, the company currently has 200,000 customers, which accounts for only 1.9% of total viewers. The bottom line is…? We can only guess because the company hasn’t revealed its total revenues just yet. But, considering how the company cuts out the middlemen from its supply chain, doesn’t use big celebrities in its communication, and relies on social media, the company has undoubtedly saved a huge sum of budget.

As we all know, more customer acquisition brings more revenues. Yet, we have to keep in mind that viral campaign is good at generating buzz and impressions. And within that impressions there could be intended and unintended target audience. If you have 10 million viewers, that’s great! But, it doesn’t mean that they will eventually become your customers. Some other kinds of marketing techniques like direct marketing and events may be needed to help gain more customers and generate more sales. Take Gillette W.A.L.S. campaign in 2009, for example. The campaign started by forming a group of women insisting men to shave. The campaign went viral on both social media and national media. And Gillette came in with shaving event and promotion. The result? The sales grew 500%.

About a week ago, Dollar Shave Club launched a video “Let’s Talk # 2” on YouTube, promoting its second product for men “One Wipes Charlie”. The video nearly has 1 million views. The product is available to add in the cart without committing to monthly subscription. We expect that the video will surely become popular again. But, will the viral nature of their marketing be effective enough to grow the business? We will have to wait and see.

 

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Netflix Viral Marketing Campaign

 

            If you are a Netflix member/ user, you probably already have heard about the new season of Arrested Development that just came out this past Sunday. There have been several areas where Netflix has been advertising its release. Personally, I have Netflix on my Xbox, and the first thing I would see for a couple of days on the Xbox Live home screen was a big ad for Arrested Development. Smart move on the part of Netflix to try to get maximum exposure from Xbox Live users. This was a smart way to get to Netflix users as you can access Netflix right from your Xbox, but there were a couple other very interesting ways that Netflix pushed Arrested Development.

            One way Netflix has pushed Arrested Development is by bringing it to the streets of New York. Straight from the show, they set up the Bluth’s Original Banana Stand in various spots in New York City selling frozen bananas for about a week. On the banana stand’s final day, fans were told to show up as “nevernudes” by wearing jorts, which is a staple from the show. This interactive strategy brought people to the streets of New York to gain an interest and familiarity with the show. For current fans of the show, it was a great way to interact with something from the show. It was also a great way to create new fans for the show. Netflix sent emails to many members of the media to promote the show by having the email come from one of its characters Dr. Tobias Funke. The email explains that there is a website where you can post his face anywhere in your YouTube videos. He went as far as to make a YouTube video as well. The ability to place Tobias’s head in any of your videos is a new, funny way to interact with Arrested Development.

            Netflix did a pretty decent job with their viral marketing campaign raising awareness for the release of the new season of Arrested Development. But will this lead to more viewers watching the show? Will it increase the amount of members Netflix has? Do you think you are more likely to watch Arrested Development on Netflix, or get a Netflix account after seeing these new and fun advertising pushes? Tell me what you think.

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No Advertising on Google Glass

Google Glass, which has no official release date to the public, could possibly be the most incredible piece of technology that will change the way we humans interact with each other. In an interview with Project Glass leader Babak Parviz, Parviz said that “at the moment, there are no plans for advertising on this device”. This is a very interesting development since advertising is a sure fire way for Google to make a small fortune off of Google Glass, not to mention that currently 95% of their revenue is from advertising. Also Google said the apps for Google Glass, or Glassware as they call it, at this point are also going to be released as free. While this seems like a bad idea for Google, fiscally this is a very customer friendly part of Google Glass.

            There are many reasons why Google should advertise on Glass. First and foremost, Google Glass is an entirely new platform that is destined to attract many new customers. This is instant exposure to many groups of people and there is no avoiding the ads. This could be similar to the way Apple and Android advertise on a smart phone. As a customer, we have grown to deal with the advertisements as a part of the phone and we tend to work around them. However, Google Glass is a completely different animal. Google Glass is at eye level, literally in your face. People may find ads on Google Glass to be invasive and cluttering. It could also take away from the whole experience of Google Glass. We’re not exactly sure how much of your sight line Glass will take up, but people only have so much vision space, and filling it up with advertisements is definitely not consumer friendly. Personally, I do not find ads on my iPhone all that annoying, but more just something that has to be contended with when you purchase free apps. As a person using an iPhone, you have a choice whether or not you want to click on the ad and investigate further, or just skip and move on to the next screen.. As long as they are not very frequent, quick, and do not take up too much of my vision, I do not have a problem with them. Advertisements are part of the world that we live in today.

            At this point, since Google is not allowing advertising on Glass, there could be even more opportunity for more branded apps for Google Glass. This would be a great way for brands and companies to get their name and make their mark on Google Glass. If companies can produce apps that are beneficial to consumers, and are non-invasive, it could be a great way for companies to gain positive exposure and engage with customers. One example of this is coming from the New Orleans Tourism Corp. Mark Romig, the company’s CEO, says that they are developing an app that will allow for potential visitors to “walk the streets, see architecture, taste the food, and hear the music”.

            Google has already distributed numerous pairs of the Google Glass to many CEO’s and developers so they can get a head start in producing apps for Glassware. A couple interesting ideas have already been developed. Two very intriguing apps have been developed by Mike DiGiovanni, one of the tech leaders for Roundarch Isobar. Since Google Glass does not lock like an iPhone or Android does, he saw a major security risk with this. As a result he created an app called Bulletproof that acts as a lock for your Google Glass set. He also developed an app called Winky that allows people to take pictures with Google Glass just by simply winking. This is quite revolutionary and there are reports that major social media platforms such as Facebook have already begun developing apps as well.

            For Google Glass there are still issues that they have to contend with. Apparently, a couple of the outside developers have successfully hacked or jailbreaked Google Glass. While Google has time to fix issues like this, they also still have time to decide if they really want to put advertisements on Google Glass. Would you care if there were advertisements on Google Glass? If there were advertisements on Google Glass, would it steer away from purchasing Google Glass?

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Blackberry Releasing BBM App for Android and the iPhone This Summer!

The creation of a Blackberry Messaging app for Android and iPhone is a major step forward for Blackberry, but it is also quite the risk. With the number of BlackBerry users slowly declining over the last couple of years, BlackBerry knew that they needed to make moves in order to attract more customers. By making their famous BBM system available to Android and iPhone users, they are opening up their business to a much wider audience.

            The timing is right for Blackberry to release their BBM messaging app to Android and iPhone users. To counteract their declining customer base, and bring back some of their customer base, Blackberry had to do something. By making the BBM service available on other platforms and services, Blackberry will generate much needed, positive publicity about their app and the company as a whole. Personally I have been quite fascinated by the BBM messaging system. I’ve had friends who had or have Blackberries and absolutely love them and the BBM messaging system. As someone who has the iPhone and is just used to ordinary texting, the BBM messaging system seems like a strong upgrade over texting. The BBM app is also ideal for people who can’t afford or do not have large data plans. BBM is also well liked by many travelers as you can use BBM anywhere in the world, while some other texting services may not be compatible overseas. With an expected release date sometime this summer, it will definitely be an app worth checking out.

            While this all could be very good for Blackberry, there is a potential risk here for Blackberry. With this new availability of the free BBM app on Androids and iPhone, there is the potential that many Blackberry users could jump ships from Blackberry to an iPhone or an Android, thus taking away business from Blackberry. Why could this happen? Some current Blackberry customers could only be using Blackberry because of the BBM messaging. If current Blackberry customers have only stuck with Blackberry because of the BBM messaging, then they will be very tempted to switch to the iPhone or Android. This is not what Blackberry would want. This would prove the app to be quite counter productive to Blackberry’s bottom line. Overall this app is a gamble. It could provide great publicity, and potentially bring in more business to Blackberry. Or the app could backfire and Blackberry will continue to lose more customers to the iPhone and Android. And with new incentive for BBM fanatics to leave Blackberry and still have their beloved BBM could be very bad for Blackberry. What do you think this bold move will do for Blackberry?

To Vote or Not to Vote…For Facebook, that is the Question.

Within the last week, Facebook has made history again, asking users to vote for the third time in the company’s eight-year existence; but there’s a twist. Facebook users are voting on their right to vote for proposed changes to the social service. Yes, you read correctly, you’re voting for voting rights on Facebook, and if you don’t watch it, you may just lose that privilege.

These proposed changes come in light of Facebook’s review of its governing documents including the Data Use Policy and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. According to Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of Communications, Public Policy and Marketing, the social media site seeks to reorganize their governance process, given their recent growth amongst users and public traders. In a nutshell, Facebook has gotten so big that their current voting system is inadequate and they’d like to get rid of it. The proposal states that the site would replace the system with one that emphasizes the “quality” of a vote rather than the “quantity” of votes.

The problem lies in the previous sentence: Facebook would like to do away with the present voting process, but does not seem to have a
definitive alternative.  I guess deciding upon this alternative would require another vote; but, what system do we have in the meantime? Are we to leave our Facebook policies to be decided upon by this now “big-wig”, publically traded company?

At first glimpse of this story, I wondered, “What’s all the fuss about? At least you’re getting a chance to vote for your vote.” But, if  many people don’t turn out –as history has shown-then you and I are left in a lurch where our voting rights may be null and void. This is just my take on the matter, so don’t take it from me; just consider it food for thought…

 

 

 

#HappyTechsGiving! An Honest Reflection of Our Favorite Online Marketing Tools

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we at Strategis have taken some time to reflect on the things that we are thankful for when it comes to online marketing. From social media management apps to online advertising tools, new developments in web technology have made our jobs much easier as the industry evolves. This is not to mention the innovative channels of communications that have completely changed the way that we interact with one another and with brands.

Although there are many different pieces of technology, apps, and tactics that aid in our day-to-day marketing efforts, we’ve chosen to narrow down our favorites to a list of five:

1. HootSuite:  A social media manager’s savior, HootSuite is a helpful tool when handling the social accounts of various clients. From Facebook to Foursquare, any major corporation or small company can manage and track their social footprint amongst followers. With this tool, you have the ability to schedule up to 200 posts across all social media accounts with just one click, in addition to analyzing the effectiveness of your social outreach. While there are many different social media management apps on the market, HootSuite has always been our go-to tool.

2. Google AdWords: When it comes to enhancing your clients’ online presence, Google AdWords are of great importance. The science behind Google AdWords lies in Google’s “contextual targeting technology”, which only displays your online ad to people are searching for content related to your offerings. You can also tailor your reach to target people of different demographics, from various geographic regions, and even during particular times of the day. This particular piece of technology, allows us to do a more efficient job at targeting the right audience for our clients’ messages.

3. Google Alerts: If you’re looking to keep track of news pertaining to your company or brand, Google Alerts is another useful tool. You can simply enter a query topic(s) and have Google scan and deliver web results as often as you’d like. This is especially helpful when tracking your online reputation and/or staying up-to-date about your competitors or developments in your industry.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) is the process of increasing traffic to your website through search engines like Google or Bing. A number of ranking factors are taken into consideration when boosting your web search prominence including, page content, external links, and social media shares, amongst others. Given the immense amount of emphasis that is placed on a brand’s web presence, SEO is crucial to maintaining a prominent image online.

5.  Basecamp: For a marketing communications agency with many clients, Basecamp project management software is a must-have when it comes to organization. Keeping all project members in the loop, Basecamp offers an array of features including management of task assignments and sharing important documents and files.

As the marketing industry evolves and changes, we look forward to even more developments that can aid us in executing the most effective tactics for our clients. In the meantime, share your most favored online marketing tools in the comments below or via Strategis’ Facebook or Twitter, adding the hash tag #happytechsgiving.

 

…And of course, Happy Thanksgiving from all us here at Strategis… :)

Spotify Leads the Way in Digital Music, Increasing Revenues and Expanding Market

Leading the pack in digital music, Spotify has been making strides in the business world lately. Posting increased revenues for the first half of 2012, returns for the online music streaming service are expected to more than double as we ring in the New Year. With a money smart business model, and a customer-centric music service, Spotify is certainly providing a sense of hope to the much troubled music industry.

Established in 2006, the self-proclaimed, on-demand music site stepped onto the scene providing customers with the ability to generate custom playlists for their listening pleasure. Hailing from Sweden, the subscription-based service also enables users to share their music interests with friends via social media. Spotify has virtually captured every music lover, enticing everyone from hardcore punk rockers to easy-going reggae lovers.

Spotify’s broad appeal to the masses lends a hand to the company’s financial success and subsequent growth within the music industry. Since the Internet boom in the early 2000’s, the music industry has experienced a difficult time in regulating (and profiting from) online sharing of music. The likes of Apple’s iTunes software has certainly reinvented the process of gaining profits for music labels and artists alike; however, Spotify has created a lucrative deal structure with music labels, requiring them to pay either a $200 million annual fee or 75% of Spotify’s revenues in exchange for their artists’ presence on the site. This is not to mention their subscriber based business model where users have three options to either stream music for free with ads, pay $5/month for ad free streaming, or $10/month for streaming without ads and mobile access-which is an absolute must if you ask me.
So, exactly what are the implications of Spotify’s portended success? Well for starter’s, the company’s label deal structure and subscriber based business model are inherently profitable for the company. These two key factors have the potential to reap financial success for the company in 2013, something to the tune of $500 million. Secondly, the service’s customizable offerings are a total draw for new and existing users. From an editorial app that enhances your musical experience, to an app that locates local concerts, Spotify has created a new and improved portal that (legally) gives you everything that you could imagine where music is concerned. This is vital for the modern day music industry that was rocked by the likes of Napster and other illegal sharing sites.

The fundamental takeaway from Spotify’s success is to create a service or product that is equally beneficial for consumers, as it is profitable for your business. Not only must your product or service be beneficial, but it must also carry distinctive qualities in comparison to what is offered in the market. In a nutshell, draw you potential patrons in with a new and innovative product or service, and keep them engaged with relevant and valuable features. For Spotify, up next on the horizon is a web-based version of its desktop software that will enable users to access their custom library while away from their computer or mobile device. This is truly one step for music lovers, one giant leap for saving the music industry.