Why Your Website Should NOT Use Flash

Posted: April 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Web Design | No Comments »

Oh Steve Jobs, you’ve read my mind. You also started a discussion that is long overdue. Job’s wrote an open letter today about Flash and why Apple has chosen to still not support the software made by Adobe. He makes some good points. I agree on all of them.

There are so many websites (especially restaurant websites) that are built in flash, it just boggles my mind. It’s extremely frustrating when you’re on a mobile device searching for a restaurant. You’ll do a quick search, get the website and location, but when you access the site to check out their menu, hours and delivery details it’s usually a site built in flash, UGH! Even if your phone was able to display the flash content, typically it’s really tacky, tasteless design thats hard to navigate. Usually I get frustrated and move on to the next restaurant.

Calling all restaurant owners! Make the change now! If you want your business to be bustling, then you better order up an experienced designer to build your site hopefully in CSS3 and make your site mobile friendly. Most people will do last minute searches for a restaurant, so not only does your site need a search presence, it also needs to be easily read and optimized for mobile devices.


Technology as a Social Commodity

Posted: March 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

In an interesting experience I had several weeks ago I noticed something about technology. No matter what, there is always a market for something. My girlfriend and I chose to sell our iPhones. In my opinion the iPhone is over hyped, is too restricted with it’s sdk’s, and the AT&T network is just horrible, (we’re getting Droids *plug).

We both posted our iPhones on eBay. They both sold incredibly under 2 minutes of being on auction via the buy now feature. Now here’s the interesting part. I noticed both buyers were Chinese. So I did some investigating and found out a tremendous amount of “gray-market” iPhone demand in China. Turns out that China does not allow wifi enabled iPhones to be sold due to some local regulation.

Suffice to say the phones sold for more than we paid for them with a nice profit. Seems that no matter where you are in the world, the demand for technology whether it’s legal or illegal and whether those determinations are just or not, people want to be connected at any cost. This gives great hope and promise within the social networking arena which much of the world isn’t even participating fully yet.

I believe that technology will actually become a sought after commodity as more and more restrictions come into play. Especially with all this talk about Google filtering China’s search results. I expect that there could also be a large Black Market Internet which will push the limits of technology even further.


Marketing your Website? Don’t be a Qwitter!

Posted: January 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Search Marketing | No Comments »

Ashton Kutcher has almost 4 and a half million followers on twitter. That’s equal to more than half the population of New York City. Dude couldn’t find his car, but he found 4,291,162 people that think he’s worth listening to.

How did he do it?

Ashton Kutcher was one of millions and millions of people–famous and not–that flocked to Twitter and started sharing, chatting, an selling to each other.

Of course Twitter, has been the hottest thing on the internet for two years and was an obvious choice for reaching that huge number of potential movie-goers, reality-show watchers, or whatever else he wanted his fan base to become.

But wait…

Studies show that a full 60% of people leave twitter after a month and never come back. Who are these people? For obvious reasons, I like to call them Qwitters. They heard about a fad, decided to follow it, and then for whatever reason, decided it wasn’t worth their time and lost interest.

Which is fine unless…

You’re an internet marketer. As a web marketer, you aren’t allowed to just stop interacting with your customers or selling your product–a web marketer should always have something to say about their service or product.  Tweet about a new offering, blog about your holiday–or comment on a friend’s blog mentioning it, create some fun link bait, or even post a couple of inspirational quotes. Anything is fine as long as you are asserting your existence an letting your customers know you are there and still believe in the message and stand behind your product.

But I don’t like Twitter!

And that’s fine. We’re the first undead marketers to tell you not to blindly follow web marketing trends. But no matter whether your platform is your twitter page, your facebook, your myspace, your blog, or your email newsletter, never stop letting you’re customers know you’re there.

The point is…

Even aplusk started with a big 0 as his follower count, but he tweeted everyday, stayed on target and never quit. Take the same attitude towards your website marketing. Remember to assert your existence and speak to your customers everyday in any way you can and never be a Qwitter.



Mobile Marketing, Get in on it Now!

Posted: November 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Web Design | No Comments »

mobile-web-apps

The next major leap in web marketing is mobile devices. More people have web enabled mobile devices than personal computers now. Many have also already ditched their land lines for far superior and affordable mobile phones. The next piece of outdated technology to go is the desktop computer. Once web based operating systems take over, you’re going to see an explosion of new mobile devices that will replace old and out of date clunky desktops. People are living faster paced lifestyles in which time is limited and if you want your product to sell, being in front of your customer in the palm of their hand wherever they go is a no brainer. This is an area where you need to establish yourself now in the mobile marketing arena.

Having a mobile version of your website is an absolute necessity. Mobile sites are more text oriented and they should load fast, so images should be used sparingly. Ensure that your customer can easily navigate the site and find what they’re looking for quickly. Adapting an appropriate mobile strategy to co-exist with your current web strategies will ensure you don’t lose customers who may be far more mobile savvy.

The fastest growing mobile trend right now are unique applications (apps) that run on the phones operating system. Devices like Apple’s iPhone is in the lead with thousands of easily downloadable applications most being free or little to no cost at all. Apple’s share of the mobile market is growing rapidly and far exceeding expectations.

Apple has claimed over 2 billion applications have been downloaded. Thats a massive market that is still new and has unlimited potential. It would be in your businesses best interest to start researching how an application for the iPhone could benefit you.

Google recently acquired the company AdMob for $750mil which reinforces the idea and reality of mobile becoming the next big thing.


Web Video Marketing

Posted: November 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Search Marketing | No Comments »

web-video-marketing
It’s not a new concept and has been generating money online for a few years now. Marketing via web video sites such as Youtube and Google Video has yielded some great return for some online businesses. How can you make money from web video? There are a few ways. Depending on your business, showcasing your product with video is a good first step in the sales process. Getting your product in front of your customer in a way that shows them exactly what their getting with verbal explanation is a great way to introduce your product. This educates the customer on whether the product is right for them and in turn creates trust with your brand.

Sites such as HSN and QVC know this and sales have been steady to show this model works. They use their network channel as a sales person and their website as their catalog.

What if you don’t have a product but offer a service? This model of web video still works. Getting face to face with a potential customer even if it’s digital will increase your chances of selling your service through credibility and trust. Purely spoken information will increase leads and sales due to the lack of attention span to read on the web. Most people tend to listen better than they read when digesting information, so take advantage of this method of selling.

Video is even better for advertising online since there are so many sites that promote video. Most sites you can submit your video to are free and some can even earn you money. Driving traffic to your site with customers that have already seen your product tends to yield better conversion since a customer has made the choice to visit your site after seeing what you offer. With a small little investment in a video camera and reading a few simple tutorials online, you will have a new arsenal of web marketing tactics ready to go.


Downsize or Just Optimize Everything?

Posted: November 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Search Engine Optimization, Search Marketing, Web Analytics | No Comments »

downsize the web
With the major economic downturn, some online businesses find themselves going through another sink or swim moment similar to the dot com bust. One thing thats different and can positively affect your online business is that there are many more strategies you can implement if you’re smart enough. You need to be up to date and educated about the web if you’re running your own online business. You can’t just have a build it and they will come attitude anymore. You need to be cutting edge as much as the agencies out there in order to survive.

Optimization isn’t just a term used for search. You can optimize all facets of your business from yourself to your employee’s to software purchases and web hosting packages. You need to itemize the biggest expenses your company has which is probably advertising and narrow things down from there. I know several large companies with million dollar campaigns running with many inefficiencies where their money can be spent better in other areas.

Look for any and all inefficiencies of your online business. Always stay on top of new marketing techniques, make sure you read current industry blogs within your vertical market and ditch anything that doesn’t convert to sales. Pay close attention when analyzing your site for any holes in the sales conversion process. Getting feedback from customers from a quick multiple choice question form is a great way to find out areas your business may be lacking.

Without any major changes, little by little you can save money and potentially save your web business.


Great Customer Service, Why it is Necessary

Posted: November 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Search Marketing | No Comments »

customer-service

Customers are not the same. They are all different and have different needs. If there is one recipe for an online businesses success it would certainly be great customer service. Anyone can sell something online, but it’s how the customer interacts with your site and the attention given to a customer which is integral to creating a loyal, satisfied long term customer.

If you’re selling a specific product, you should be knowledgeable about that product if not an expert. One thing that turns off customers is an uneducated seller who is concerned more with unloading a product for profit than actually believing in what they are selling. When you’re knowledgeable about your product it puts the customer at ease. The customer feels confident buying from you because they know if they have a question or issue it will probably be addressed quickly and thoroughly. People like confidence, especially when buying a product.

One example is the use of mobile applications. The market for mobile apps right now is huge. If your online business is thinking of creating a mobile application, the best strategy would be to provide something that benefits your customers. Giving back so to speak is a great way of providing value to your customers and at the same time can be used as a very effective marketing and feedback tool.

When you provide value to customers that goes beyond what you are selling, it creates a positive memorable experience for them. This is crucial for any future marketing or word of mouth buzz you may want to create through your customer base. If you want your customers to promote your site without them knowing, the best way to do that is to ensure they are spreading the word to their friends and family about your service and why it is a pleasure doing business with your company.

Always keep the customer happy.


Seven Deadly Mistakes an Online Business Can Make

Posted: November 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Web Design | No Comments »

online business mistakes

1 – Letting internal business politics influence website design

Just because an executive may like the color blue doesn’t mean thats the best decision or direction a website should go based on his/her taste and opinion alone. And just because you may want to kiss up and do what the boss says, you’re making a larger mistake in the long run. You will always be respected for doing the right thing and maintaining your artistic integrity then to sell out for quick and cheap short lived praise from the boss. Most businesses run with the “what have you done for me lately model” so a mistake like this can bite you back. There are ways to avoid these situations and easy compromises can be made if you approach the subject professionally with statistics to back you up. If an executive thinks a purple, green and orange color scheme represents the new product best, have documented proof that it doesn’t and discuss how using an alternative and complementing color scheme can be more successful.

2 – Launching prematurely

Personally I think this happens everywhere, even though a few companies have their launch strategy down pretty well, there are some that will just always jump the gun. Most times executives get a little too excited about a new product and think that a site can be launched prematurely, a.k.a. a “soft launch”. Just because it is mocked up in Photoshop doesn’t mean it can be made live the next day. There are so many components to releasing a large corporate site that launching early with limited features will just wind up turning into a mess. There needs to be design sensitivity training for management that focuses on timelines and why it is important to stick by them.

3 – Re-designing for the hell of it

This one of the biggest wastes of time for a designer. Just because your competitor has revamped their site doesn’t mean you have to do the same. There needs to be a clear strategy behind changing your design and not just because it looks cool.

4 – Understaffing and overworking

Having one designer work on a major corporate site is down right insane. I’ve seen it plenty. Not only can you burn them out on working on one project for months at a time, the room for error increases because of the repetitiveness they are engaging in and sheer volume of multitasking they are performing. No matter how great a designer is, and at no fault to his/her own, everyone benefits from having their work reviewed or collaborated with another person. For a major news publication styled site, there should be at least three designers. One for designing core elements such as navigation, page layout. One for CSS and page styling, and one for accents such as buttons, banners etc.

5 – Involving novices for senior decision making

Sometimes team building is best left to staff events. Although newcomer input should always be valued, and is a great way to make them feel more a part of the team, involving newly hired or entry level designers to make decisions that can significantly impact the businesses bottom line is a big no no. Senior people are senior because they have years of experience under their belts and know how to avoid amateur mistakes that a new designer may make to get his/her name known.

Always go with a senior designers advice, even if the boss thinks the newbie is cutting edge and has thousands of people following their twitter account.

6 – Not adhering to Best Practices

Skipping steps. Yes there’s a time and place when deadlines supersede certain processes, but if there is a formal procedure of doing things always stick to it. I have seen first hand the simplest of mistakes slip through for the sake of getting something out in a haphazardly way.

7 – Prematurely partnering for quick bucks

So a new site has alot of buzz, and they get a ton of traffic to their site. You’re in a position to partner up and looks like a win win. All of a sudden a month later, the site goes belly up with some type of scandal, and your name is dragged through the mud with them. Now it’s time for damage control. Cleaning up the mess of your company being associated with a scandal. You spend more time scouring message boards to clear your name then you spent putting into the partnering decision in the first place.

Bottom line, do business with reliable and established businesses. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon for a quick buck. Always think long term.


Slick Marketing Doesn’t Sell Me, But Will it Sell For You?

Posted: October 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

slick-marketing

Buzz words, marketing campaigns, visual overload all vying for your attention and commitment to buy into what they’re offering online. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil we need to accept and deal with. I don’t ever think that once in my life I ever bought something because it had a slick catch phrase or the packaging was cool. Many people are starting to get wise and do the same especially in a downturning economy. Don’t really on fine print or disclaimers to get your business through the door.

Many consumers make purchasing decisions based off of one criteria, customer satisfaction. If someone recommends a product  and swears by it, it usually creates a word of mouth buzz. If the service and product is great, you’ll probably have many happy customers and advocates for your business. This is where I think that search engine marketing and search results will start to become less important in the next few years. More and more web users on social networking sites are starting to take recommendations from friends and word of mouth for information then relying on search.

Avoid wasting time and money on slick ads and expensive creative agencies to try and capture leads for new business. You need to sell your credibility. You need to be and live your product or business. Times are changing and consumers are more skeptical than ever and have become more savvy shoppers. Honesty and credibility has now become a commodity in which you need to be successful. If you give your word and stand by it, that is the true recipe for success.


How Design Represents Your Business

Posted: October 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

web-design

One thing I’ve seen too often, is the release and approval of websites that certainly lack credibility in the design department. Sometimes these decisions are made by managers with no design experience, other times it’s a rush to get a product on the market.

Usually this happens with smaller companies with no in-house design department, but there are also some guilty parties with major design departments in which this shouldn’t happen but does anyway. Many times it comes down to an urgent business need and the rush to have it released rather than to think about how the design portrays credibility of the company to it’s clients is undermined. It is understandable for a product to launch quick and efficiently but always get the opinion and approval of a credible design source.

Here’s an easy way to think about it; you wouldn’t wear your gym clothes to a business meeting, and you wouldn’t wear a suit to go work out in the gym. Then why would you use a cartoon style to represent a strong financial business? Or use a stark minimalist approach for a kids daycare center. I think my point is clear. Design needs to be directly linked to your business. Visual representation is job one with an online business. It’s your front door that welcomes customers in, or confuses them and makes them turn away. So please do some research and put some time into the design of your businesses site.

Personally I have been turned off by a few sites with this backwards approach to design in which I would not do business with the company solely on my first impression of how they represented their business online. If a company cannot get it’s homepage right, there are probably other underlying problems about.

So get it right. Don’t just ask an intern if the site looks good.