Category : Mobile

webdesign_header

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!

Mobile Marketing

2014: The Year of Mobile

Seeing how the mobile explosion will affect your marketing campaign and your business is not simply a matter of building a mobile-friendly website.  Rather, it is a question of understanding how this shift towards mobile communications ultimately affects every corner of business, marketing and consumption.   Marshall McLuhan once suggested that “the medium is the message,” that the characteristics of the medium used are just as important as the content delivered by the media.  When taking the characteristics of mobile devices—cell phones, tablets and the like—into consideration, we are faced with questions of “who?” “how?” and “where?”

cell phone marketingImagine a young twenty-something year old commuting to work in the morning.  She reads her e-mail while waiting for a coffee at Starbucks, which prompts her to click on a link indicating a sale for winter coats.  Her coffee comes; she stuffs her cell phone in her pocket and heads to work. During her lunch break, she logs on to her e-mail on her desktop computer where she then revisits the winter coat sale.  She clicks around, maybe even “favorites” a few items and logs off.  Later that night she logs back onto the site on her tablet, shares the link with her friend for approval and purchases a winter coat.

Thanks to mobile-optimized websites and responsive design, consumers are able to enjoy the convenience of their mobile devices without feeling hindered.  To the extent that an integrated marketing campaign aims to be consistent across all platforms, a mobile strategy as part of this plan should without a doubt be considered.  Both responsive design and mobile applications are ways to boost e-commerce for small businesses by allowing consumers to move seamlessly between devices and match and meet conversion goals.

local search by device

The growth of mobile users also has significant implications for search engines and local search results.  While on the go, the likelihood that a search inquiry for a local service or business will be on a smart phone or a tablet is high. Local businesses, small or not, looking for ways to incorporate an SEO strategy or a pay-per-click campaign into their marketing plan should undoubtedly infuse their ads with local name-dropping and data.

Unlike my father, who refers to Internet Explorer as the “internet folder” on his “screensaver”, Millennials—the generation of people born between the 1980s and early 2000s and on the verge of ruling the world—use mobiles to do more than search.  For Millennials, mobile platforms are a source of social interaction, a way to engage brands and boost sales.

MTV millennials

The growing popularity of mobile applications such as SnapChat and Instagram imply that image-based mobile experiences are thriving.  Pay attention to the way this consumer demographic behaves, for it will provide a light into the way images, words and products are shared, perceived and used.

Lastly, less is more.

“Excuse me?” you must be thinking, “they’re talking Integrated marketing plans, responsive designs, interactive mobile applications, local search content and mobile optimized and trying to tell me that less is more?”

We sure are.  Life is chaotic – why clutter it any more with flashy design and hard-to-use and inconsistent features?  Consumers are much more likely to return to a website, blog or even a store when the experience was positive.  Distracting visuals and over-wordy copy has no place on a mobile site and is more likely to leave a consumer frustrated.  Mobile optimization should offer easy to read and even easier to use experience that is only enhanced by a simple design.

Your mobile optimization speaks about your brand – if you don’t provide mobile access/support/optimization, what does it say about your brand?  If you are interested in mobile marketing and optimization services, contact Strategis today!

RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds & Their Marketing Benefits

Reading through multiple news sites, articles and blogs for information about all of your interests can be a daunting and time consuming task. This is especially true to marketers who are trying to stay up to date on the latest trends and innovations. If you find a lot of your time is lost in these searches, you may be interested in learning about Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Feeds. The RSS feed is an online tool where users can view content about their interests from all over the internet in a single spot. Basically, your RSS feeds are a one-stop shop for your entire internet search needs.

Well, how do RSS Feeds work?
RSS
RSS feeds acquire multiple files and links posted by others on trending topics, blogs, videos or articles. These files are uploaded into a feed to which users subscribe, and users are alerted about the articles when they are published in a feed reader. If you won’t have access to the internet for a while, there are web and phone apps that automatically download content for you to read later.

RSS feeds give you a variety of options to limit your search to contain only the specific content in which you are interested. You have the choice of what content to subscribe to and the websites you follow; therefore eliminating the need to re-read through multiple news sites to make sure nothing was overlooked.

What are the benefits?

The major benefit provided by RSS feeds is staying on top of industry trends and topics, a very important tool for marketers. It’s important to follow your industry or your client’s industry as it changes, and what better way to stay up to date than receiving the latest news and articles as they are published? In fact, subscribing to marketing blogs is always a good idea. Keeping up with marketing innovations and trends will facilitate your company on the road to success!

RSS FeedsAnother plus for marketers focused on SEO is that RSS feeds are not limited to your feed reader; you can also track specific Google searches. Whenever a new blog or article is written in relation to that search, it will be directly sent to you. A RSS feed can also be created for your LinkedIn account, allowing you to see only specified updates from your connections. After establishing proper internet content for your own business, you can then upload your own RSS files to expand your company’s followers and grow your brand name.

RSS Feeds are a powerful tool that can integrate many online resources into a single place. By subscribing to the appropriate feeds, one can gain more knowledge about their industry and keep up with changing trends without having to waste time exploring multiple sources. For a marketer, a RSS feed will save you valuable time and easily keep you informed on the industry and your clients.

Need help with your RSS Feeds or marketing needs? Contact Strategis!

Tap Snap Deposit

Mobile Deposits Are Revolutionizing Banking

Convenient banking no longer requires you visit a branch. With nearly a quarter of all banking deposits now done remotely with Remote Deposit Capture (RDC), customers can deposit checks from the convenience of their own homes.

Mobile DepositThis trend is growing by a staggering 10 percent, while in-bank visits are dropping by the same margin. Our unwavering reliance on our Smart Phones allows for a more convenient method of banking that will be more cost efficient for banks in the long run.

The average cost of a Mobile Deposit Capture is $0.10, compared to $4.25 for an in-person visit. For a bank, this can amount to $50 in annual savings per customer, and over $1.5 Billion in industry savings.

Remote Deposit Capture works by having a user snap a picture of both sides of the check, easily and conveniently through a mobile banking app. The ease of use allows for a quick and seamless transaction on any major mobile operating system.

In August 2009, the San Antonio-based Insurance and Financial Services Institution USAA, which primarily serves military personnel, was the first to unveil mobile deposit with their “Deposit@Mobile” feature on their iPhone App. USAA Bank cited the program as a significant convenience for a large majority of its military clients who are deployed across the country and may not have access to a local branch.

Convenient BankingAs of 2013, the “Big 4” of American banking all offer some sort of mobile check deposit. Regional banks have also started to unveil similar services. The primary theme in marketing this new trend has been the convenience, ease and accessibility of the programs. Anyone with a smart phone can enlist and deposit from anywhere. Dedham Institution for Savings, a mutually owned financial institution with over a billion dollars in assets and over 180 years of experience, markets their program with “Tap. Snap. Deposit. Now you can deposit checks from anywhere with mobile deposit”. Citibank offers a similar slogan with “Sign, Snap, Submit. Deposit Checks from anywhere with the Citi Mobile app.” This trend is present throughout the industry, as ease of use and convenience are the main drivers in promoting Remote Deposit Capture.

Similar to other banking industry changes, smaller banks will follow suit of the “Big 4” and offer this service, creating an industry standard. As the trend grows, in-branch deposits might continue to see a sharp decline in favor of mobile remote deposits. Much like ATM withdrawals, mobile deposits may become the favored method of banking.

BP-branding

Important Steps When Rebranding a Company:

Whether it’s because you made mistakes in your previous business, sales are low, or your market has shifted, it’s important to know the steps it takes to rebrand a company. You may not know what rebranding entails, but GUESS WHAT?! You will! So, without further ado, here are the important steps you should be aware of!

1. Be Ready For Change: Rebranding a business requires you to shift your way of thinking, meaning a clean break. You need to be open to adjusting the way you currently do business. After all, if you are only making subtle changes that aren’t apparent, then what’s the point of rebranding? Exactly, there is none.

2.Determine Who You Want To Be: Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve, so you can take the steps to figure out who you want to be. Why doesn’t your current brand fit who you are? What is the purpose of the business, and what are the goals? How do you want customers, staff and the industry to feel when they see your brand? How do you think you are perceived in the market place, and how do you want to be perceived? These are important questions you will need to answer.

3. Talk to People: You will need to ask your customers, employees, business partners and industry experts their opinion about your current company—it’s products, services, and brand. You will need to find out what they like and don’t like.

research-competitior4. Research Competition: First, you will obviously need to know who your competitors are. Ask yourself, “How do we want to be seen when compared to them”? What do you like about their brand? You will need to figure out what makes you STAND OUT from your competition. You will need to do both quantitative and qualitative research. Find out who your customers are based on age, location and gender. Rethink your customer base. It’s important to understand your market!

5. Create an Action Plan: Write down what is currently wrong with your business, how you want to fix it, and the timeline for implementing all these changes. Identify your niche in your market place. Identify who is going to manage this process. MAKE SURE YOU COMMUNICATE! Get employees to contribute because the new brand is going to touch everyone in the company. Be realistic with costs, and if you don’t have the resources DO NOT do it yet!

6. Inventory List: Make an inventory list of all the things you will need to update and change as your rebrand. You will need to change your logo, business cards, letter head, maybe your e-mail address and URL (if you do a name change), your website, and social media pages.

7. LAUNCH Your New Brand: You will need to set a date for an external launch. It is important to launch the rebranding internally first. Plan a “roll out” for all the items on your inventory list. Announce the rebrand with a Press Release and through social media for your customers, prospects, and local and industry news.

It’s safe to say, rebranding requires a lot of time, effort and resources, but it is sometimes necessary. Take your time, do it right and hopefully you have a good outcome!

References:
http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/11/how-to-rebrand-your-business_pagen_2.html
http://www.fastcompany.com/1771299/rebranding-101
http://blog.studiothink.com/2013/03/how-to-brand-your-business-5-steps-to-rebranding/

World…Meet Snapchat. Snapchat…Meet the World.

The social media landscape is buzzing, yet again, over a new kid on the block that just may give Instagram a run for its money. Meet Snapchat, a social pic app designed to “make social media fun again”. Compatible for iOS and Android mobile operating systems, Snapchat enables users to capture images and send them to select recipients. Sounds like sending a picture message right? Not quite. The catch is, the recipient(s) can only view your image for up to 10 seconds and then it self-destructs in cyberspace, never to be seen again…. supposedly.

 For raunchy “sexters” and silly kids alike, this mobile app sounds like a cure all to erase any evidence that you don’t want the general public-mom, dad, your boyfriend, your office-to know about; however, there are a few loop holes that can shatter this false sense of security. Firstly, 10 seconds doesn’t seem like a long time to view a photo, but it may just be enough time for a recipient to take a screenshot. Although the app is enabled to alert the sender when a screenshot is captured, there’s not much that you can do to stop that person from saving the picture to their own device, and most seriously, sharing it with others. Secondly, that mere 10 seconds is also long enough for a different device to capture the photo while its still viewable through Snapchat.

With this said, its understandable why social media junkies and parents are buzzing over this new app. If you’re an innocent 7th grader, with a fresh smartphone, who just likes to take silly pics of you and your friends at lunchtime, this may be the perfect mobile application; however, if you’re a 10th grade girl, with a slew of boys who’ve been chasing you since you got your braces off, well, this app is a cause for concern for your parents. For us adults, this app can offer one of two things: a great escape from grown-up realities like bills, office work, and kids through silly pictures of our friends; or, a nightmare of embarrassment if you don’t practice discretion in what you send.

So, here’s my advice to you if you’d like to consider using this app:

If you don’t know how to act, don’t Snapchat 😉

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.

New Kid-Friendly Cell Phone Squeakin’ to a Store Near You!

Panicking over what to buy your little tot for the holidays? Check out the new Pipsqueak cell phone, offered by Yip Yap. Developed by an innovative husband and wife duo, the cell phone operates through mommy and daddy’s grown up Bluetooth connection, receiving rerouted incoming calls from select phone numbers. Lucky for mom and dad, there are no contracts or fees associated with owning the phone.

This inventive little toy was designed in the hopes of sparing parents the costly damage following their child’s mishap with their smartphones Although it may be hard for any little tike to let go of a cool touch screen, the Pipsqueak comes chock full of engaging features including a MP3 player, walkie-talkie capabilities, and a voice recorder. This is not to mention the variety of vibrant phone cases and a charging station that will have any three-year-old ready to start their own company.

Although the phone is not in stores as yet, you not only have the opportunity to buy the phone for your child, but also to invest in the future of the toy’s market success. Husband and wife team, Michael and Angela Smith debuted Pipsqueak on Kickstarter, a funding platform where patrons can invest money towards sending creative projects to market. If you’re interested in the product, you can donate at different dollar levels in exchange for bundle sets that include the phone, varied cases, a headset and charger. For example, at the $50 pledge level, you can obtain the phone, a limited edition faceplate, a wall/vehicle/USB charger, and fun stickers to decorate the phone. Donations currently stand at $11,419, with a goal of $187, 545 to reach by November 30th at 11PM.

Now there are probably some of you think that this product is asinine, giving your children an open chance to grow up faster than they should; however, I beg you to consider a different perspective. In our constantly evolving world, where technology becomes obsolete in a matter of months, you may be robbing your child of a head start in our hyper-connective society.  This is not to mention that your tot will surely develop their social and cognitive skills by using this product, whether they’re talking to their imaginary friend Henry or Nana Gabby out in California. If you’d like to take a gander at investing in your child’s development, I’d suggest that you check out the Pipsqueak Kickstarter page and pledge your support to giving another child that very same chance.

Helpful Safety Tool or Aid to Overbearing Parents: The Inside Scoop on this Halloween’s Trick or Tracker

This Halloween, parents have a new and improved tool to help their children stay safe. The Trick or Tracker App was created to ease the minds of parents while traveling in the dark of night for trick-or-treating. Compatible with many smart phones on the market, the GPS enabled app works as a virtual compass between parents and children.

While parents can download the app regardless of what smart phone they own, their children must have an Android OS phone in order to be tracked. The app is easy to navigate for both parent and child, where simple buttons like “Locate my parent” or “Where’s my child?” keep each person informed of their surroundings. Additionally, the app enables parents to establish a geo-fence that their children are allowed to travel within- if they wander outside of that zone the GPS will sense their movement and send an alert to parents.

For parents, this tech savvy app is a savior to their worrisome thoughts on All Hallows Eve. From a notable spike in fall and winter crimes to managing your disobedient children, this app certainly utilizes every scare tactic in the book to reel parents in.

It can be argued, however, that this app also leaves parents solely reliant on technology to look after their children. What happened to the old fashioned days when parents would accompany their kids while trick-or-treating? Or maybe, just allowing them to trick-or-treat alone with a well-communicated curfew? Although technology and social media have changed our lives for the better in many instances, this app leans towards minimizing the effort in parenting, which can be argued to have negative or positive effects. What are your thoughts on the matter?

 

Best iPad Apps For Small Business

Consolidate all the bells and whistles of your company office desk into your iPad with these nifty apps.

Pages

This app is exclusively designed for Apple and helps you create and edit letters, memos, and reports. It works with iCloud and comes with 16 templates.

Price: $9.99

Omnifocus

Provides task management by project, place, person or date. It comes with a map that helps you see the actions closest to you, allows you to break large tasks into smaller ones, and coordinates with Siri. The top rated task management app in the iTunes app store!

Price: $19.99 on iPhone; $39.99 on iPad

Hootsuite

Send and schedule updates for your social media profiles from almost anywhere. HootSuite also lets you translate from over 50 languages.

Price: Free for up to five social media profiles

Hoot Suite

Intuit Go Payment

Accept credit cards with your iPad using this free card reader and app.

OmniGraffle

Create quick diagrams, process charts, page layouts, etc with built-in stencils and more. It turns your iPad into a canvas.

Price: $49.99

Dropbox

Access your photos, docs, and videos anywhere with Dropbox!

Price: Free

Drop Box

SignEasy

Sign documents from your i.Pad securely using your finger or a stylus.

Price: Free

Quickoffice Pro HD

#1 office editing suite for iPad helps you create and edit Microsoft Office docs, spreadsheets, and power points along with PDF files.

Price: $19.99

Scanner Pro

Scan checks, agreements, and receipts with your iPhone/iPad.

Price: $6.99
Scanner Pro 4

iThoughts HD

Got an idea? Capture them, sort them visually, and share with others with iThoughts HD!

Price: $9.99

Penultimate

With this app, you’ll never need a pen and notebook again!

Price: $0.99