Looking for Something?
Browsing Category

Technology

The Mobile Majority Wants Your Small Business

Author:

mobile small business Remember when mobile phones used to be about..making a call? Neither do I. The explosive growth of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices over the past few years has drastically and permanently changed the way we socialize, work, and do business. The net-net? It’s imperative to travel with your customers and prospects wherever they go.

In fact, a recent report revealed that 28% of smartphone users and 55% of tablet users shop online: That means they are searching, evaluating, or making purchases—possibly all three in one fell swoop. That’s why small businesses—whether  a consultant, online site, or retail—are now expected to serve up discoverable, easy to navigate, and actionable content on mobile devices. If not, there is a gaping hole of awareness, customer and  prospect interaction, and the opportunity for your competition to grab business.

Consider these recent mobile device statistics:

Convinced?

Even though you know it’s the “right” move for your business, thinking about the effort required can be overwhelming, or perhaps you don’t even know where to start. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to position your business in the mobile marketing game without reshuffling your plans, allocating a huge budget, or calling yourself a tech-genius.

Depending on whether you have a store-front, are a consultant, ecommerce site, or other business model, you will have one or more content areas to mobile-ize. Additional factors to consider will be your overall marketing goals, tools you use to promote your business, and how often you communicate with your customers and prospects.

Let’s start making your content mobilicious:

  • Entice with easy-to-read mail: The great thing about optimizing email for mobile devices is that you’ll get a two-for-one: Not only will your email be easier to read, visually pleasing, and clear on what action to take, it will result in a better promotion on any size screen. Here are some rules of thumb:
    • Keep the text short and punchy: Edit. Edit. Edit. What email wouldn’t benefit from that?
    • Use time and space wisely with your Call-to-Action (CTA): Think discounts, free offers, and new services you want to promote.
    • Have few images but make them clickable: Streamlined but effective graphics can pull double duty by being touch-friendly to navigate and also prompting action, such as pointing to social media icons, or click to buy, to name a few.
    • Let the fingers do the walking: With virtually all smartphones using a touchscreen these days, make sure your email is “finger-friendly” to open, navigate, and zoom around the content.
    • Consider getting help: If email marketing is a big part of your business, think about hiring a vendor to do the heavy lifting for you, such as Movable Ink or BrightWave Marketing.

So is your small business ready to join the mobile majority? Yes, it will require some initial work, but taking these steps today will put you front and center with your customers and prospects wherever they are, now and in the future.

Once you get on the mobile marketing train, I recommend that you stay up to speed on the trends: Because it’s a growing and ever-changing technology, being ahead of the curve will help improve your chances for mobile marketing success. Check out resources on all aspects of mobile marketing. There are tons more online.

What’s next? Start thinking about blinging out your presence with apps, QR codes, video, texting, advertising, search widgets, which will be covered in my article next month.

Image credit: Bigstock

BlackBerry Wants to Reward You to Make Your Online Content an App

Author:

Blackberry is excited to tell you about our port-a-thon that starts this Friday, January 18th at 12pm ET and runs for 36 hours straight. It’s your chance to earn big rewards for just a few minutes of work.

After our warm welcome, successful app generation efforts and many connections made at NMX in Vegas this month, the BlackBerry team came home to hold the third and fourth in a series of port-a-thons we have been running in our effort to generate apps for BlackBerry 10.

That said, we are thrilled to let you know about this weekend’s “BlackBerry 10 Last Chance Port-A-Thon.” This event expands the acceptable apps to include those built with our BlackBerry App Generator, as seen on site at NMX. It’s a great opportunity for anyone or any business to build an app for BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry PlayBook, and BlackBerry 6/7 smartphones, with no technical knowledge required.

Why does this matter to you? The app takes advantage of any existing content you have in an RSS feed, WordPress or Blogger blog, Tumblr or Posterous site, YouTube channel, Facebook page or Picasa/Flickr gallery.

That’s not all. There are some great rewards for participants, with up to $2 million (USD) available. Register and submit an app during the port-a-thon and you’re eligible for $100 per app, up to 20 apps. Submit five or more apps to be eligible for a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device draw (250 devices to be drawn)!

Register and port your content into an app to see for yourself how simple it can be to provide your readers with an engaging, shareable app.

Can Tablets Take the Place of Teachers? [Infographic]

Author:

Although there’s more technology use in developed countries, those who live in third-world nations are quick to learn how devices work when given the opportunity. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization recently gave tablets to children in Ethiopia to see if kids could learn without the benefit of an actual teacher. Here’s what happened:

Can Tablets Take the Place of Teachers?

Infographic courtesy of BachelorsDegreeOnline.com

How to Use Live Streaming to Create the Ultimate Community Experience

Author:
Nikki in Stitches Live Online Craft Classes

Nikki McGonigal leads a live, interactive online craft class.

Ever since I first clicked on a link to a live-streamed show, I’ve been bullish on live.  This was back in April of 2007 just a few weeks after the first live-streaming platforms launched. As an actor turned producer I had awakened to the realization that in the 21st century artists no longer had to wait for other people to make their dreams come true – finally we had the tools to green light our own work, so by 2007 I was already deeply enmeshed in the online video world and active in social media, shooting podcasts, writing blog posts, Facebooking and Twittering away.  And then came that live-streamed show.  Just 15 minutes into it my heart began to beat a little faster, I began to envision all the possibilities…it was crystal clear to me that live streaming video has as much potential as podcasting, blogging, Facebooking and Twittering combined.

Why Live?

First of all, live is exciting! The knowledge that you are seeing something unfold, in real time right before your eyes is magnetic. Secondly, with live-streaming you get two for the price of one, both a live, interactive show and an on-demand video you can edit and upload to any site you wish. Thirdly, live-streaming manages to be both inclusive and exclusive at the same time. Anyone is free to watch the show and join in the chat room, and anyone can watch the recorded show at a later date,  but only those people who are actually there live get to feel as if they have personal ownership of the content that was created. Lastly, and most significantly, live-streaming is inherently about community.I have long felt that online video soars when it stays true to the interactive platform it is built for, rather than the story telling models we are so used to watching on television. Community – the ability to interact with other people from all over the world, in real time, has been the  greatest differentiator and power of the online world since it’s earliest days. Live-streaming is all about that community.

People come to a live-streamed show from all over the world, not just to see the show, but to see the other people in the chat rooms. Then they come back, episode after episode, partly to see all their chat room friends. So while appointment viewing may seem counterintuitive in a YouTube world, passionate members of your live-streamed show’s community will make a point of putting your show on their calendar. Your live-streamed show? It has now been transformed into an event, and the more your show embraces that community, the more passionate and devoted that community becomes – it’s like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube rolled up into one.

Nervous about live-streaming?

Don’t be! There are so many options and so many of them require nothing more than a computer and an internet connection,and a free account on Ustream or Livestream  or SpreeCast or Justin.tv.  The platform and methods you use depend on what you are trying to achieve…

  • Are you a social media blogger, a political blogger, an inspirational blogger?  Is your main goal to develop deeper ties with a community you have carefully cultivated? You can probably keep it pretty simple –  just a webcam, a live-streaming site, and off you go.
  • Are you a craft blogger or a food blogger and you want to invite your community to create along with you? Spreecast is a simple way to invite up to three viewers right into the video with you – you can all create together and chat with the rest of the audience as you go.
You can of course, get much more complicated as well. My company, VirtualArtsTV works in the performing arts, specializing in translating live theater, dance and music into a live-streaming event tailored specifically to the online video experience.  In order to make sure our audience is always engaged, excited and leaning forward we utilize multiple cameras in every one one of our shoots, we shoot with a small video screen in mind and keep the action and the cuts moving as quickly as possible. While a lot of sites will facilitate switching multiple cameras right in their software, we go one step further and use Newtek’s marvelous Tricaster – which is simply described as a TV studio in a box.  The demands of translating live performance  into a live streamed event require a much higher level of technology than perhaps a talk-show might, but that is the point. There are so many ways to make live streaming work for you, from a simple one webcam experience to a high definition 8 camera event.
Live-streaming enabled us to engage a world-wide community in the performing arts

A few pointers as you begin to experiment with live streaming

  • Embed, embed, embed!  Not all platforms facilitate embeds, but if yours does place your video on your site, on your blog, on Facebook – let your readers embed it on their blogs.  The further your show travels the larger your reach.
  • Create a strong connection!  You can’t control your audience’s bandwidth size, but you can control the quality of the file you upload.  Turn off the wi-fi and use an ethernet connection to ensure you are sending the highest quality video possible to your live-streaming platform.
  • Make it social. Always utilize the Facebook and Twitter options in the chat rooms to further spread the word and grow your community.
  • Shoot with the end goal in mind. If you want your show to be as effective on-demand as it is live, then create it as if you were shooting a regular video.  Search for similar shows on YouTube and play close attention to their camera angles, their editing, their graphics and their speed.
  • And lastly, Embrace your community. Chat with them, call out their names, invite them onto the show with you.
If you haven’t experimented yet with the possibilities of live, now is the time. It is the ultimate, community building, lean forward experience and one of the most exciting, malleable and promising tools of our wired twenty-first century. And if you have experimented with live, what was it like?  What would you do differently next time? And what advice would you give to a live-streaming newbie?

From No Tech Knowledge to a Growing “Tech Tester” Population

Author:

Ten years ago, I was the President of a boutique marketing agency located in the New York Metro area. Although I’m no longer with the company, the lessons learned during my tenure live on. We were an integrated communications firm with clear roles assigned. The PR professionals developed the business stories, the marketing folks creating the sizzle and pushed the creative envelope and the multimedia people developed the powerful interactive applications. We had our share of internal struggles, but none of us argued over the technology that fueled our clients’ programs. Companywide, we knew it was the responsibility of the in-house Web development team.

One day, sitting around the boardroom table, I remember saying to my executive team, “Why can’t the PR people update the online newsrooms themselves? Why do we have to wait on a lengthy production schedule to post a news release? Our job is timely disclosure. We have to move quickly with our news and information.” I’ll never forget the look on their faces. They were surprised (borderline confused) that I wanted the PR people to be much more hands on with technology. Shortly thereafter, my communications department became more actively involved in technology.

Moving forward, our clients’ websites were built with backend content management systems and the PR team was trained to upload images and news releases. They also learned how to update copy on website pages and to maintain the newsroom. This new, hands-on process bypassed the long wait on the Web production schedule, when a client’s news was pressing. Clients were thrilled and PR people rolled up their sleeves and got involved in technology.

Technology has become a Natural Part of the Connection Process

Today, no one would bat an eye to hear that a PR professional or any other professional (sales, marketing, customer service, etc.) were savvier with technology. Social media has created a culture of citizen journalists who create their own media. We see companies taking the time to train different departments, giving employees the right tools and also the policies to guide “proper” participation. The baffled looks I received at the boardroom table 10 years ago would be looks of approval today. This isn’t exclusive to PR, but to those outside of communications as well.

A natural part of adopting social media includes Tech Testing, no matter what your area of responsibility. It’s important to continually research and test technology to make better connections and build relationships. In my book, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional, Practice #3 is the role of the Tech Tester. However, Tech Testing has extended into additional areas of the company, especially as social media is used companywide. From sales and marketing to HR and product development, chances are most people in your company are using social media personally or professionally and experimenting with the resources and applications that go along with it.

How does Tech Testing Work? In some cases it becomes a natural part of the workday and for others, it might be taking the time and interest after hours to experiment. Companies that support the role of the Tech Tester provide social media training classes and toolkits with informational articles or guides. However, you may also be Tech Testing on your own time.

Regardless of when you Tech Test, here are 5 important areas of tech evaluation, which deserve attention. Experimenting in these areas will help you to create better engagement opportunities through social media, with the people who matter to you and/or to your company.

1. Social Media Monitoring & Measurement Tools

By now, you’re probably not a stranger to the term “Listening,” with respect to social media conversations. There are excellent monitoring tools and platforms that aggregate the conversations and offer data regarding daily volume (buzz), share of voice, blogger influence, real-time news and sentiment. Understanding how to listen to conversations and track keywords is a lesson in understanding how your audience wants you to interact with you. If you’re a Tech Tester, then there is no shortage of helpful free resources including Google Alerts, Social Mention, SocialPointer, HootSuite, and Addictomatic, to name a few. When you select the keywords related to your company, brand, industry and competitors (or your personal passion), you will uncover an enormous amount data that you can analyze to gain insights on how to participate more effectively and to build better relationships for the long term.

2. Social Media Influence Tools

When it comes to influence tools, one question is always asked, “Is it influence or is it popularity?” It’s a little bit of both. We all know that popularity will get us large numbers of friends and followers, but influence will have your community members sparking into action, based on what you say or share. Various tools have different algorithms, which are used to calculate influence from Klout, which evaluates about 400 different online and offline measures to gauge influence to other popular tools including Traackr, PeerIndex and Twitalyzer. Building relationships with the right influencers will certainly help to amplify your voice to an audience of audiences.

3. Website Analytics and Measurement

It’s not only the Web and digital interactive professionals who should be paying attention to Website analytics. Where social media analytics end, the website analytics begin. From click to conversion, you’re able to see what content resonates with stakeholders, what drives them to your website and how they behave when they arrive. Analytics including page views, referring keywords, recent visitor locations and user profile data will guide you on better ways to share content and how to contribute as a valuable resource to your social media communities.

4. Design and Visualization Tools

Did you ever imagine taking design into your own hands? Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll never hire another designer for a project or campaign. However, when budgets are tight, the Tech Tester knows how to find the tools and to gather the scarce resources to build attractive and well-designed content, including infographics with Easel.ly. As a Tech Tester, you also learn to identify and leverage key community relationships through visualization tools including MentionMapp and Facebook TouchGraph. Visualization helps in your research because you can identify the stronger relationships and capitalize on them. At the same time you can also see where other connections in your network are weak and require further relationship-building strategies.

5. Blog and CMS Platforms

Understanding and building a blog or CMS platform doesn’t mean you have to study web development. Whether you choose WordPress or Blogger, knowing the blogging basics is a must for anyone who wants to share content and have a voice “in an instance” rather than a voice that misses the real-time dialog. Social media conversations don’t wait and it’s imperative to know how to initiate and join the conversation at the right time. Of course, there will be times that you will need to rely on the programmers for coding, but the opportunity to drive the conversation in a timely manner makes you a more valuable resource to your community.

Researching and testing different platforms, tools and applications definitely help to facilitate deeper connections. Although it’s the strategies and the people who make the communication “go,” it’s the technology that makes it possible to have more creative and often deeper interactions. Using technology the right way will definitely enhance a connection. Being a Tech Tester doesn’t mean you should run out and join Codecademy (whether you’re in communications or not). However, there is a feeling of liberation by being able to create and drive communications the right way through social media, because you understand both the people and the technology.

3 Ways Google Remarketing Increases Sales and Online Interaction

Author:

Every website exists for the purpose of being seen. Whether you are a small business offering products or services, or a blogger looking to gain readers and wider web influence; you want prospective clients to see what you have to offer. However, achieving those site visits is only half the battle.

What you really want is interaction:

– Visitors making a purchase or hiring you for your services
– Readers linking to your blog
– Fellow bloggers talking about your blog through comments and re-posts
– Expansion of social media influence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Google Remarketing is the way to take your site to the next level! It gives you the opportunity to increase interaction, not just traffic.

What is Google Remarketing?

Google Remarketing is an online follow-up tool that allows you to continue to present your ads to prospects, even after they leave your website. You see, not every person who visits your site is ready to jump in. It takes constant exposure to your offers to influence your prospects to make some kind of interaction on your site, be it sales or a blog interaction. Google Remarketing gives you the ability to put tailor-made ads in front of your prospects wherever they go on Google’s extensive Display Network.

Here are 3 ways to use Google Remarketing to increase sales and online interaction:

1. Create More Action with Targeted Ads

With Google Remarketing, you choose what you want your visitors to do. Maybe you want them to buy a certain product, hire a particular service, or make a connection through social media. Google Remarketing gives you a programming code that can tell whether or not your visitor has taken that action step. If they leave your site without taking action, Google will know and that’s when Remarketing begins. After leaving your site, your prospect will be shown custom designed ads promoting your desired action step on every website they visit within the Google Display Network. This is an invaluable tool! Remarketing offers automatic follow-up for your website until your prospect takes the action step you want.

You control:

  • Desired action step (attending your webinar, purchasing an e-book, “Liking” your Facebook page, following your Blog or Twitter account, etc.)
  • Desired demographic. Remarketing allows you to create specific ads for certain target groups. In other words, you can show different ads to a stay-at-home mother versus a young entrepreneur.
  • Site-relevant ads for your products or services. For example, if you offer a landscaping service, an ad specific to that service will appear when prospects visit a relevant site (ie. HGTV.com).

2. Reach a Larger Audience

Google claims on their site that Google Remarketing “reaches 83% of unique Internet users around the world,” so the Google Display Network is an invaluable asset for those looking to achieve maximum exposure for their products, services or content. Every time your prospect visits one of these thousands of sites, they will see your customized ad specifically targeting them. Additionally, because the network is so large and includes so many big-name websites, you gain more than just exposure. You also gain the impression of “being everywhere” and being associated with big-name brands.

Sites within the Google Display Network include:

3. Get the Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck

The best part about Google Remarketing is it can actually get you a lot of free exposure. Google tracks your prospects, promotes your site, and compels those prospects to take the action steps you want them to take, and you don’t pay anything for this promotion unless your prospect clicks on the ad. This means that if your prospect doesn’t click on the advertisement directly, you are still exposing them to your brand and building the credibility of your site. This will make any future advertisements all the more effective. Building your brand and establishing credibility is paramount to turning site visits into interactions. Google Remarketing offers this service to your site with absolutely no risk.

Are you ready to begin building your brand and extending your web influence?

Google Remarketing is an incredible tool that turns website visits into site interactions. More sales. More readers and followers. More clients. You can also improve your local search rankings.

What do you think of Google Remarketing? Please enter your comments below!

Red Routes: What City Busses Can Teach You about Website Usability

Author:

Even though people in London drive on the wrong side of the road, there are still some things we can learn from their transit system. Their bus system, just like every other one in the world, is designed to get people where they want to go quickly and easily. However, they’ve found a way to optimize travelers’ experiences using a system called red routes. This same logic can help you optimize your website to guide your visitors to the information they’re seeking.

As you might expect, some places in London are more popular than others. In fact, just 5 percent of the city’s roads make up a third of the traffic. The city decided to fast-track busses on those popular routes by creating red routes, which received their name courtesy of the double red line land markings. These routes place restrictions on other traffic patterns and prohibit parking in bus lanes. By optimizing the efficiency of these routes, they’ve managed to reduce wait times on those routes by 15 percent in the first five years.

Now think about your own website. Chances are there are one or two pages off of your homepage that make up at least a third of your traffic. On my Web design company’s site, for example, most of the traffic from our home page goes to either a page about our services or our portfolio. I know that these are important pages to my visitors, and I also know how frustrating it can be when you can’t find what you’re looking for on a website. Therefore, I want to make sure this majority group can easily find links to that content.

Just as in London, Web developers now commonly refer to these critical paths as red routes. And, just as in London, optimizing them can have a big effect on your most important metric: conversions.

Identifying Your Website’s Red Routes
The first step is to identify these routes. A quick look at your analytics can shed some light on how visitors flow through your site today. Granted the paths might not be as easy as it could be for visitors, but these numbers will show you the popular tracks your customers are actively seeking out. By improving the flow to these red routes, your goal is to more easily direct the more passive visitor down the same path. After all, all red routes should lead to a conversion.

Optimizing Your Website’s Red Routes
Now you have two good pieces of data: where you want your visitors to go on your website, and where they’re currently going. It’s time to put those together to create a simple path for users to not only get to those pages, but more importantly, to also get from those pages to a conversion. Take this site as an example. Two obvious goals for this site are to get users to opt-in to the BlogWorld newsletter, and to register for the NMX conference. At the same time, let’s assume the most popular page after the home page is the most recent blog post. That is why there are prominent banners on the right of all blog posts showcasing these two things. There are plenty of sites that just feature these types of calls-to-action on the homepage, and they’re missing out on a big opportunity.

Testing Your Website’s Red Routes
Once you’ve identified your red routes and set them up, it’s time to see if they work. While things might look obvious to you, it’s best to try some user testing to see what an average visitor thinks. When testing your own site, it’s always a good idea to give users a series of tasks to complete to see how difficult it is for them. Think of this like a virtual scavenger hunt on your website. You want to know if users can easily find what they want, or in this case, what you want them to find. This is much more valuable than simply asking how your site makes a person feel.

In this kind of testing, it’s critical to test your red routes. Can people locate the content that is most important to them? There is nothing worse than a customer on an ecommerce site who is ready to buy but can’t find the product they’re after. Likewise, a visitor to a blog that can’t find the “subscribe” or “share” buttons would be equally frustrated.

Red routes are just one important way to give your visitors a better experience on your site. If you’re looking for more tips, then you’re in luck. I’m speaking at NMX in January on defining and maximizing conversions through better usability. I hope to see you there!

A Glimpse of the Future Internet [Infographic]

Author:

Earlier this week, I wrote about choosing an extension for your website, and .com remains the most popular option for a variety of reasons, other extensions (.net, .ly, .me, etc.) might also make sense depending on your specific needs.

The Internet is about to get a lot more complicated, though. The new global program to expand your choices is going to start rolling out as early as next year and there were nearly two thousand applications for vanity names submitted. Some major companies, like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft actually submitted multiple applications. Other companies, like Facebook, eBay, and Disney, were notably missing from the list of applicants.

So here’s a look at what is coming in an inforgraphic from Visual.ly. When new extensions are introduced, will you be on board or will you stick to buying .com addresses?

 

New Test Shows Amazon’s Browser Silk is Slow

Author:
Amazon Silk Web Browser

I’m not sure if this test really shows anything we didn’t already suspect, but nevertheless, a new test shows that Amazon’s browser “Silk” is slower than the iPad’s browser “Safari”. The new Kindle Fire runs off the Silk browser and some are saying it’s slower loading than they had hoped or expected.

Google employee and Web performance expert Steve Souders decided to do a little test on Silk to see how its performance stood up to Safari. He used a tool he built called Loadtimer, which measures page load times. His results? Silk is slow.

You can see all of his detailed data on load times for Silk, iPad and Galaxy here.

The test might have shown that Silk is slow, but it also shows Silk is faster when acceleration is turned off on the Kindle Fire. He does have this to say about Silk, which is a positive: “The browser is sound. It holds its own compared to other tablet browsers. Once the acceleration gets sorted out I expect it’ll do even better.”

For those of you who have a Kindle Fire, what have your experiences been with the Silk browser?

What’s New on the NMX Blog:

Day 4 of NMX’s 12 Days of Giving: The Gift of IAWTV Awards & Red Carpet Event

Polish off your tux, unbox your tiara, bring the sparkly dress to the dry cleaner, and get the stile...

Learn About NMX

NEW TWITTER HASHTAG: #NMX

Recent Comments