Why are domain names so important for your business?
Your domain name is an integral part of your positive business image because it forms part of your online identity. Consumers now link your online persona with who you are as a business. Your domain is something that connects your audience with who you are and quite literally helps them to find you on the internet.
Once upon a time, companies made their wads of cash away from the internet. Even when the online world seeped into every corner of our life, websites weren’t an integral part of business until very recently. Right up to the early noughties, you could still get away with owning a legitimate business and not bothering with a website. Now, if you don’t have a website most of your audience will think you aren’t a proper company, and their already shaky trust will start to crumble.
Why? Because every one of your customers will carry out a background check on you, like a digital Sherlock Holmes. Consumers have been around the block and aren’t the naïve customers of old, so their first impression of you will always be wary until proven otherwise.
First things first
When you set up your company one of the first things you think about is your business name because it tells someone in one clever sound bite who you are and what you do. Your domain name is part of that brand story and increasingly influences not just your online consumers but buying behaviour outside of the internet.
Why? Because, like it or not, appearances matter and first impressions stay with your customers for a lifetime. Customers now judge you both online and offline, they will take time to look you up and scrutinise if you are the sort of company that fits their business objectives or even personal viewpoints.
One of the first things they’ll notice when they search for you is your domain name. They’ll then build their impression from your domain as they flick through your website, look at your business card or send you an email. Domain names to branding are a bit like the foundation bricks to a house, take one out or leave a gap and the whole structure could come down. And just like a house, if you start your branding on dodgy footing it will affect the quality and durability of your business.
A domain name also adds much-needed credibility to your business image because it shows you care about quality and being professional. It’s a tough world out there and customers are very quick to snub you if they think you’re lacking the basic hallmarks that make up a modern business – and in 2018 that includes your domain.
For established customers, it’s about keeping your image going or evolving your brand but for new customers, it’s about trust. An audience that doesn’t know you won’t trust you without a bit of solid reassurance. New customers walk into your brand image with a healthy amount of cynicism and it’s your job to unpick preconceptions and build up a positive image as they stumble across who you are and do a little digging.
Think about it this way – if you aren’t willing to invest time and money into your own domain name, why should your audience invest in you? And be in no doubt that customers who see half-hearted branding will assume you are putting the same effort into your products and services.
Brand on the wall
Your domain name is also an integral part of your business image and should feed into your core branding principles. A good domain name is like the first bite of your favourite dessert, unforgettable because it was the first taste of the entire experience. So when you get the first few seconds right with your audience, the positive impression your customers have will stay ingrained as they start buying from you or working with you.
Your audience is also being grabbed and manhandled by every single marketing campaign going. Your audience’s attention is saturated and fleeting, so you need to do everything in your capacity to make sure you stand out in the snowstorm.
When your domain name matches your company name it reinforces your brand and its presence in the market as a serious competitor. And if you buy the domain name early, it can stop competitors from taking the name or non-competitors using your name and diluting your brand image for your online audience.
Good tip – Your brand name won’t just affect your domain, it’ll also dictate your email address, logo and business cards. Make sure you aren’t the only person who understands your witty pun or can pronounce it on the phone.
Does what it says on the tin
And your domain name doesn’t actually need to be your business name, B&Q famously have www.diy.com.
But why choose a domain name that isn’t your business name? When you choose a domain name that matches what you do it can attract walk-in business who are searching for your services. It can also cement you as the leader in the field, especially if you were savvy enough to get the domain name before your competitors.
Some people have several domain names to simplify the brand message for their customers. For example, you’re a company that sells different services and each service has a very different audience, creating a different domain name and landing pages will help keep your brand strong and stop your audiences from straying to competitors who specialise in your products.
The two-domain game is also a good idea if you have a successful business but also want to develop your own personal brand and secure yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Say for example you’re the best hairdresser this side of Manchester and you have quite a good following on your personal social media for your kooky cuts and colourful barber life. The next logical step is to actually create two domain names, one for your business and one for your personal brand. Both domain names should connect to each other and let your follwers or customers see both what you do and who you are.
People always want to know the face behind the brand and having a separate domain for individuals within businesses is quickly becoming the norm. And although having a domain name that explains what you do can add to your brand value, try not to pick a common word or phrase. The domain name will very likely be taken and you’ll have to shell out far too much just to get it from the person who bought it.
Ready Steady Cook
In the end, there are several business stages that are about preference more than necessity. There are some that are set in stone like setting up bank accounts, tax registration, insurance, compliant product development and trademarks. When you don’t take time to invest and mitigate, you could seriously harm your business by not taking core business stages seriously.
If you don’t invest in a domain your business won’t shut down overnight, but you will lose clients without even knowing it, negatively affecting your image along the way. It’s a branding tale as old as time – customers will always choose the company who visibly cares about how their business runs, and part of that story is investing time and money in your domain name.
Psst! Did you know that we aren’t just awesome website designers? We’re also a dab hand at brand development and digital marketing. If you need help rebranding or strengthening your business image, give us a ring and we’ll take you through our think, design, create process here at Bamboo.
Everyone loves a good digital freebie, right? But what is the cost of free when you are the product?
Are we questioning what ‘free’ actually means? We are so happy with our techy goodie bags that we are guilty of ignoring whether companies are offering free services out of the goodness of their hearts or whether they’re actually using us as the product.
The land of the free
We at Bamboo are web designers and digital creatives so we naturally have a boundless love for all things internet. But, what the internet was when it was first flung into our lives is very different from what it is now in the shiny world of 2018.
The people that created the internet had a lot of well-meaning ideals and created something mindbendingly revolutionary for our age. They built the internet because they wanted to create a free and plateaued information network that anyone in the world could access. They hoped one day that very open information forum would quite literally free people so that we could all gain access to education, improve our health, connect us as one planet and bring about the evolution of humankind. And the internet did just that, an earth-shattering achievement that should make anyone sit back in their seat.
At its best, the world wide web is a digital eutopia, but the internet also has a much more sinister side and like all perfect things us humans got involved and made it not so perfect.
One way we brought the internet crashing back down to reality is by using the internet as a vehicle for business. As soon as capitalism crept into the seams, equal and free information was bound to wither. There are of course the internet warriors out there who invent systems or tools and release them to the public for free because they want to do good, but there a lot of people who pretend to do that very thing while making a shed load from their users – and that extends to apps, websites, search engines and online services.
To paraphrase the US free market columnist, Milton Friedman ‘There ain’t no such thing as free searching’ and that’s because most free digital products or services make their money by selling on your information and/or advertising to you. The likes of Google and Facebook sell our browsing behaviour onto third parties who then use that to target you more effectively through advertising. Facebook and the Silicon Valley gang then reuse your information to show you those very adverts, thanks to their clever little algorithms who pick up what you click on, write about or hover over.
When companies hoover up our browsing history or the very words we type to sell to someone else, we as people become the commodity. There are many of us that know but don’t care and are willing to take the risk so we can use kick-ass tools and services for free. The problem is though that companies aren’t being transparent so we don’t realise the true extent of how much these companies know about us and sell on to third parties. The very fact that we open our arms up to digital surveillance without questioning it should also ring huge privacy alarm bells for anyone blissfully scrolling through their apps.
Even if we are sitting ducks and are seen more as dollar signs than users, we must surely be able to choose companies that don’t do that right? Correct, but the problem is that those companies are in the minority, and are losing the battle against some of the worst offenders out there who have eaten up the market.
To give you an example of some standard dastardly practices, we need to look no further than the search engine school bully, Google. The EU recently fined the tech giant £3.4 billion for strong-arming smartphone manufacturers to build Google’s search engine into their phones. How? They refused access to Google Play for any smartphone manufacturer that didn’t build in their search engine. They also took away consumer choice by denying smartphone manufacturers the freedom to choose competitor search systems that Google hadn’t approved.
Google did this because people don’t usually download competitor search engines, they’re more likely to use an already installed one, which meant that Google was able to eat up 80% of the mobile search engine market by forcing manufacturers to use them or be burned by them. It’s also not the only fine they’ve received, the EU slapped them with another £2.1 bn penalty after finding Google skewed the market in favour of their internet shopping service.
The search engine and other digital titans are willing to risk court cases over their illegal behaviour because the potential profit is always higher than the fines incurred. When Google has 80% of the smartphone market they are a literally the God of information and can sell their data loot to the highest bidder. So why wouldn’t they breach a few pesky EU regulations?
The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal is, of course, another colossal revelation into how our beloved apps and social platforms continuously flout our privacy rights as citizens while working in the moneymaking shadows.
And that is the real problem, companies thinking they could do business above the law and users assuming that companies conducted their affairs within the law. In the past, we inherently trusted Facebook, Google et al. much more than we trusted our own governments when we should’ve actually been very cautious of them. We trusted them because they were part of the golden internet generation when mega digital titans could rise up from bedrooms and college dorms, where tech masterminds were inventing tools to improve humankind. But those companies are now wealthier than countries, and that power can be consuming. So they began to act like countries or even Gods, and that is when we and our governments stepped in to protect our freedoms.
It’s a funny state of affairs when the internet, which was supposed to bring power to the individual, is used to strip freedom from users to such an extent that governments have to step in to protect those freedoms by controlling rampant misuse.
And in these pragmatic times, we all know that companies need to make money and can’t operate on lovely hippy ideals, but what we must fight for transparency and our rights to know what companies are doing with our information.
So even if we are the product we should still know exactly what that means and be able to choose how much companies use our data to make money. But we also need to fight for the internet and stop governments killing the very thing that makes the internet magical. A delicate digital tightrope between wanting the internet to be free and being protected from the people that abuse that freedom. We need to step up and proactively find out what’s happening to our data and use that knowledge to stop the tide when one side goes too far and we as users suffer.
One thing that’s clear is we as users are now firmly awake and won’t fall back into our old ignorant slumber. We now know that although we might be products we are also people with governments who won’t forget that the internet belongs to all of us.
We live in an age where modern capitalism is no longer at loggerheads with giving back.
We’ve long since realised that the old dog-eat-dog model, where amoral money making is king, doesn’t quite sit right with us and how we view our role in the world.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) came from our collective will to see companies make money but also do good in the world, to have a society that is capitalist but also conscious. People now expect more from the companies where they work or buy from, they want them to reflect their values and be able to trust them.
It’s a colossal shift in how consumers think, and so companies now have to listen or risk us flitting off and finding a different brand. As consumers, we’ve finally found our voice and understand how to hold companies to ransom – change your ways or we’ll move on – and it looks like it’s working.
It’s not a stretch to say that we all want our companies to do the right thing, to protect us and to improve society. But because we are bombarded by information from all directions and every invention is updating at warp speed, we are finding it harder to see what companies are doing behind the scenes. A bit like walking in a digital sandstorm and trying to find a signpost telling you if you’re going in the right direction.
Recent revelations, such as the Facebook data breach, have made that feeling all too fresh in our minds. In the past, we assumed our rights as consumers were set in stone and as citizens, we were being protected. But we now know that isn’t the case and so we expect those companies to do something about it, and quickly.
We have been moving towards this stand-off for a very long time, we are more aware and more socially minded than ever, so when the bubble officially burst we looked past the business sandstorm and started to see all the shady goings-on. Our loyalty is wavering, and our eyes are wandering to greener competitors and so companies are starting to quake in their boots and are scrambling to find ways to clean up their act.
Listen to me
Many people are still rightly cynical about conscious capitalism, and its shiny image for doing good. They argue the only reason the big bad corporate wolves are getting on the social responsibility bandwagon is that it actually makes them more money, and not because we are crying out for them to change.
But so what if it that’s true? You can’t change such an ingrained money-making mindset in a generation. So if they help make the world better because they’re scared, doesn’t that mean that we are being listened to?
The best thing about capitalism is that it relies on consumers to keep the wheel turning, and so the consumer actually has a colossal amount of power. It isn’t a coincidence that mega companies spend oodles of their precious dough just to understand what you are thinking about and where your buying habits are going. A good marketer always listens to the consumer, because if you stop listening, you can become irrelevant to your market.
And so, if we as a planet are getting greener and more socially conscious, companies will go in the same direction to keep you sweet and to remain competitive.
It’s definitely naïve to think that companies give back because they feel guilty about their murky past and genuinely want to do some good. I’m sure they’re many out there that care, but for most it’s about image, legality, customer loyalty and competitiveness.
But that’s because we as consumers expect more from them and will affect their profits if they don’t do something right now. And so, if that’s how companies are going to change the tide and become positive impactors on the planet, shouldn’t we all be shouting CSR business benefits from our urban rooftops?
Away from the crucial moral reasons why corporate social responsibility is important, there are some pretty practical commercial reasons to start giving back to your community. Here are 3 reasons why doing good also helps your business –
1. Improves your brand image
Modern consumers are more aware and awake than their predecessors, especially so in the younger generations. If you look at societal patterns, the more the youth move into employment and consumer behaviour the more companies are going green. Why? Because younger consumers are much more likely to buy from companies that show their corporate responsibility or their will to be as ethical as possible.
A company’s public image is now at the mercy of social corporate responsibility. Buzzwords like ‘community’ ‘engagement’ ‘social’ and ‘green’ are overused for a reason – they are well received by the public because consumers feel good about buying from a socially responsible company that gives back to society.
The savvy marketer will also tell you that improving your CSR programs will help raise your media presence and exposure in the market, which helps shine a positive light on your business image.
2. Attracts and retains investors or business partnerships
Investors or partners want to know that their money is being used properly. In this day and age that involves not just your business plans and budgets, but your strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Why? Because it shows investors that you don’t just care about profit, you care about brand image, the planet, communities and the longevity of your business. It shows you know how to move with the times and listen to consumer patterns.
Investors also want to see that your employees are being looked after. Any good CSR strategy should have employee wellbeing and empowerement as a core part of the CSR plan, because your social responsibility should be internal as well as external.
3. Improves employee wellbeing and engagement
Scores of studies have shown that when you look after employee wellbeing and career progression it improves motivation, engagement and productivity. It even reduces sick leave and burn-out.
Your workplace will become a much more positive and happier environment which will encourage more creative thinking and better work, which in turn raises your profits. Your employees strengthen your organisation and are interlocked with your business growth and profit, and so when your staff are healthy so is your business.
End to begin
The fact that businesses are sitting up straight and realising how important corporate social responsibility truly is, marks an end to capitalism without conscience. We as consumers want businesses to care about us and the places we live and work, so if the only way to do that is to consume or work elsewhere, that’s what we’ll do, until all businesses reflect our values.
We aren’t quite at a point where all businesses are doing good or are doing enough good, but who knows where the shift in our consumer behaviour could take our businesses of the future. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling quite positive, because when something ends something else usually begins, and I have a feeling this new chapter is a lot greener.
Marketing affects most of your business and is much more multifaceted than just wacking out a few posters. Marketing is basically the bones to your business strategy and includes your pricing, planning, market research, product distribution, advertising and promotion. Having a good think about what your marketing budget is and planning it out with your team is essential if you want to grow or stay competitive and relevant.
And when you think of marketing promotion, you have to think about the whole project from the creative brief to copywriting, photography and graphic design.
As a general rule of thumb, companies should spend around 5% of their earnings on marketing, but of course, that figure can go up and down depending on how you normally attract your customers and what you have planned.
The most logical way to tackle marketing is to think of it as pre-sales. So many people think it floats about on a creative cloud firing off seriously expensive brochures now and again. Marketing is not fluffy or superfluous, it is there to set up your sales and run in partnership with the sales and finance team.
From the moment your business is active and running and whether you know it or not, all of your team is carrying out marketing activities. The finance department’s projection and pricing structures? Marketing. The sales team and their plans to start hard selling in Europe? Marketing. The factory manager who’s streamlining his processes and upscaling his workforce? Marketing.
The real problem is that if you don’t know that this is marketing, then you haven’t got a strategy. And when you don’t have a strategy the business model can be filled with potholes and unnecessary complications. Don’t worry though, it’s fixable.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find a marketing strategy, budget for it and stick to it –
Step 1. – What marketing categories you need for your business
So you’ve put in a marketing brainstorming meeting with your team, now what? Your first step is to add structure to the creative process. Avoid meetings where ideas are chucked on the board but nothing gets done after.
How? Well, there are several finite marketing categories that should factor into your budgeting decisions and should be part of your agenda – that’s because each category will help you forecast correctly for your business and understand what you need for each project.
The following are categories that should always be in a marketing strategy and part of the overall business plan:
product planning and development
production and pricing objectives
promotions and public relations
Each category will be more or less important per business depending on what you do and what your objectives are, but all of them should be considered when you budget. The categories can also be used as a step-by-step process for specific business projects, for example if you are planning on branching out into international markets or want to launch a new product.
Step 2. – Think about marketing subcategories
The next step is to think about each campaign or project you’re doing and what you specifically need. Often with the more creative elements of marketing you’ll need many different skills, from copywriting to design.
Say for example you want to create a website. Do you have the content for the website already? Do you have appropriate photos, or a creative brief locked down? If you don’t have any of these things, that’s fine, but you need to allocate time and budget for them.
And often you’ll need to use external services to help you achieve your marketing goals, especially if your marketing team is small or you don’t have one. Make sure you factor how much websites cost or how much copywriters normally charge within your budget.
Step 3. – Take it on a test drive
When you’ve done all the hard graft, it’s time to fling your plan into action. Let the team use it as the base for everything they are working on and contact agencies with your marketing planning documents in mind.
Top tip: make sure your marketing plans evolve. Marketing budgets shouldn’t be stuck in the mud, they should be flexible because business and priorities take on lives of their own and change with the financial winds. That doesn’t mean that if you allocated 10k for market research or 7k to a website build that your team is allowed to spend 30k, it just means that any project needs to have the capacity to be adapted.
And if you are worried about overspending develop a culture of review. One way of doing this is by having quarterly planning meetings, where the sales and finance team are included. You can then go over marketing activities, which ones worked, which didn’t and the move the budget around accordingly.
In the end, only you can know how much you need to spend on each marketing category. But by taking the time to understand what your objectives are and what each marketing activity involves, it can help you understand all the elements of your projects and stop you from raiding the last coins in the budgeting chest.
Psst! Did you know that we aren’t just exceptionally amazing website developers? We also offer copywriting, graphic design, photography and social media services as a complete digital marketing package. Interested? Contact us for a chat.
As the internet continues to grow and reach the remotest parts of the planet, the need for multilingual sites is skyrocketing.
If you’re an international brand who is selling outside of your own country, there will come a time when you debate whether to translate your website or not. And there are many considerations to take into account – is it worth the investment? which languages should I translate my website into? And do my customers need a multilingual website?
So to set you on your merry way into the world of multilingual websites, here are 5 reasons why you probably do need one:
You are selling to international markets
This one is kind of a no-brainer and should be ringing some sort of website alarm in your head. If you are starting to see interest from a non-anglophone market or have already started trading with one, it’s a good idea to translate your site into their languages.
Why? Because it can only help to localise your website so that your customers understand who you are and are able to interact with you and your services. This is especially crucial for online stores where the user journey is smoother when a customer understands where they’re clicking and heading towards.
Hang fire though before you translate your site in Japanese just because a few people bought a product from you. Only when you see a consistent and stable rise in purchasing from that country should you make that move. And if you operate in several markets and don’t want to litter your website with neon flags, carry out marketing analysis to see which countries are most important to your profit and which countries can be grouped together according to languages – French, Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese are good examples.
The internet is moving away from its anglophone routes
When the internet first pinged around the world it was created as an English-speaking invention and for a long time, the audience was mostly anglophone. However, times are a changing and where English-speaking audiences are plateauing, other languages are seeing a marked rise in usage. Soon the majority of internet users won’t be anglophone and businesses need to accommodate to this online shift if they want to play on the international stage.
It’s also a business savvy move to translate your site for countries where internet usage was low but is seeing a rise and is now going through its growth stage. You are much more likely to grow a healthy loyalty base, see high engagement and investment in your brand simply because there’s less competition and your audience isn’t weary from the many marketing campaigns circling around the anglophone digital world.
Localisation can help your brand image
Sometimes a country will ‘get’ your product much more than another country. It might be because its intune with their culture, a localised trend, daily habits or specific environmental factor. When you recognise this fact and translate your site into their language you are tapping into much more potential for global growth than with a site that solely markets in English. You will be seen as customer-centric and focused on understanding someone’s habits, which will encourage customer loyalty and grow your sales.
It can also be seen as arrogant and misguided that you expect your customers in a given country to understand and buy a product in a foreign language. And for some countries that opinion is much stronger than in others. For example, if you’re trading with France, French customers are more likely to negatively judge your brand if it’s solely in English and not in French. And if you know that about your market and produce a French mirror website, you show you understand the people more, bring down cultural barriers and open up the potential to sell to it in the right way.
International customers can find you
When customers in non-anglophone countries look for products or services they will 95% of the time search for it in their own language. If you have a website that only has English content and SEO, you are allowing your brand awareness to fall between the Google ranking cracks. If you have a webpage and SEO back-end which is written in their language you are more likely to be picked up by their search query and grab their attention because you’ve taken the time to accommodate them and understand their needs.
And for countries such as China, Google is not the default search engine. Homegrown search engines are popular because they prioritise websites in the native language and focus on the habits and needs of their users. And so if you don’t market in the search engine’s language your localised audience is very unlikely to find you.
Beat your competitors
And finally, if you’re one of the first UK businesses in your trade to translate your site into Nigerian, then you’re already one step ahead of the game. You’ll probably be the UK company in your industry that Nigeria will be most aware of because you started early and grew your customer base before your competitors were on your heels.
Trust is also a big thing when it comes to attracting new customers and keeping them loyal. A multi-lingual site can go a long way to build a fruitful and trusting business relationship with a country you are either doing well in or wish to trade with. If your competitors aren’t following suit then you immediately put yourself a cut above the rest and show that you are truly globally minded but also focused on individual countries.
In the end, it’s quite logical – if you show that you’ve taken the time and energy to understand an audience they’ll more likely find you and want to be a customer. It’s like anything in life, act like you want to be treated – most customers want to know that you understand them, and a huge part of that is communicating in their language.
Let me firstly start off by saying that apps are fantastic when done correctly. They can be a really useful tool and can help to seriously grow a brand and engage with your audience.
Apps are integral to our modern lives and we use our handy smartphone apps to help us navigate through our ever busier and complicated lives. So when a company gets it bang on with their app, it can produce some truly fantastic results.
But this is where a lot of businesses fall down the rabbit hole because apps are so important for their audience they think that they automatically need to build one for themselves. This trigger-happy app mentality sees a lot of companies failing to think through their strategy before chucking tens of thousands into an app that is hardly used and not performing to its optimum.
You just need to scroll through Google Play or the App Store to see the trend as clear as day. Thousands of hardly downloaded apps sit pretty and wait to be used, like the wallflowers at the smartphone school dance waiting for a suiter to take a chance and download them.
Game of life
But even when your app finally gets downloaded, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the user is going to stay active. We live in fickle digital times where app loyalty is a hard thing to earn, and so as soon as the download takes place it’s pretty much a fight to the death to keep the user engaged and using the app on a regular basis.
Think about it this way – how many apps do you use in a month? Before you say loads, think about which ones you use and when. I would hazard a guess that you use more than one app every day but that they are often the same ones.
Take my own beloved app usage as a litmus test, I would say I use 5-8 apps on a monthly basis, which include:
RBS online banking
Just to put that into context, I sometimes use (i.e. once or twice a month) some of the biggest apps out there, because they are only useful to me on occasion. I don’t even have many niche, start-up apps on my phone, only well-known apps that serve a purpose.
People download an average of 1-3 apps per month and use an average 0.5 of those apps once downloaded. Why? Because the market is so competitive and there are already some fantastic apps out there. Customers are basically spoilt for choice and only engage with apps that make their lives better in an immediate and tangible way.
This might seem kind of gloomy, but when you build your own app you are basically hedging your bets on very low engagement stats from your audience which any bookie worth their salt would tell you is a high-risk investment.
If you’re going to invest in building an app then you better be sure that it’s going to be the best thing since sliced bread. And what I mean by that is great user experience and that your app is truly useful for the person who is going to download it.
Building an app is the equivalent of choosing to play a game of Russian roulette and thinking that you have a good chance of not dying. Sometimes it’s best to not take a gamble, especially when the risk is unnecessary and there are other options available to you.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-app, they are my favourite digital obsession. But they are also complex beasts and need have a great idea behind them that has undergone solid researching and strategic thinking – and that’s without any snazzy branding and slick back-end coding.
So if you’re starting to think that you need an app for my customers to use, the first thing you should actually be asking yourself is – do I really need it?
If your mobile-enabled website can perform the same function as your prospective app, you could be saving yourself a wad full of cash by ditching your app idea. For example, you want to create an app so that people can access personal or confidential information and you also want to put some interesting marketing tools or industry-related articles on their too. If you create a member’s portal on your website that is only accessible with a password, it can perform this very function at a fraction of the price and will be accessible on multiple devices, not just a smartphone.
And before you steam ahead and contact an agency, you need to tick three boxes for your app idea –
It serves a specific purpose that your website can’t fulfil
The app is useful for your intended audience
It’s interactive (i.e. has tools, functions, games, videos etc.)
If your app doesn’t tick all 3 then throw your app idea in the digital bin and get cracking on improving your website usability.
Another great tip is to actually ask your audience. If you are going to be spending upwards of 20 thousand on an app, it’s well worth the time to ask your customers what they would like to see from the app you are building. Not only will it help you to build an app that is completely tailored around your potential users, it will also help you to raise awareness of your app before you’ve even built it.
Top of the Pops
There are only a handful of apps that actually hit the nail on the head by achieving great engagement and building a true membership base, the rest float around on Google Play and have the engagement levels of a digital graveyard. So before you invest, really think about if the app will do what is says on the tin and if your audience will care enough to use it.
And if after this article you are still 100% adamant that you should build an app for your business, then I would say throw caution to the wind and build that app. Who knows, it might make our lives easier and more hassle-free in the process.
Psst! Did you know that us Bamboo wizards can create pretty nifty mobile-enabled portal pages on your website? Before building that app, have a chat with us about what magic coding formulas with can sprinkle over your website.
So you’ve set up shop and you are doing well for yourself, you’ve got a steady stream of loyal customers who refer you to anyone within hearing distance, for now you’re sitting pretty.
But you’re a business person and you know it isn’t good to rest on your laurels and rely on plan A without having a B and C thoroughly worked out. You know that the next inevitable step to keep the cash a-flowing is doing a bit of marketing and so it’s high time to get on the online branding train and start raising your ‘online presence’, which means creating or improving your company website.
Internally though you’re rolling your eyes, you’ve got this creeping suspicion that it might actually not be worth the investment, especially if you’re doing well without it, right?
First things first, websites aren’t just a money-making machine (although all websites should perform this function to some extent). If you get most of your clients through referral then your website’s primary goal is to confirm what your referee is saying about you. Kind of like an online backup, a trust-o-meter.
People generally like to fact check and have third-party assurance, and one way they do that is to Google you. If for example your referee has told your potential customer that you have a shed load of experience designing bespoke metalwork for bars in the city centre. So they do a little search on you and find a gaggle of case studies on your site which talk about those very projects, which backs up the claim and makes you look like a specialised expert. Or say you’re a jack-of-all-trades and have press releases, case studies and testimonials showing exactly that, then the customer will find it and think Aha, just as I was told!
Your website is part of your customer service and using it to forge a positive customer experience acts as the first building block for a trusting business relationship. And that first brick happens before they even getting get in touch with you because your website is basically carrying out the first customer service step by just floating about on the internet.
Are you alright?
And in this digitally switched-on world most people will check you out online. And when they do, they’ll use it to form part of their opinion on your company by looking for your website, social channels and third-party review sites. If you have no online trace, they will start thinking one of two things –
There is something wrong with you
You aren’t moving with the times
The particularly judgemental people among us, will probably think both. And if you are lucky enough to have clients that don’t care if you have a website or not, who just want to see honest work done properly, then fantastic. But times are a-changing, so the next bout of clients from the infamous millennial pool or generation Z will care.
Think of it this way – every person who looks you up and doesn’t find you is a missed opportunity. A website could’ve either helped the potential customer identify who you are in the market or decide whether they should spend money with you.
Back in 5 minutes
Having said that, no website is always better than having a bad website. My personal web design pet peeve is the ‘this website is under construction’ landing page – the equivalent of airing your dirty laundry in public, nobody needs to see it and it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you are working on your site but you want people to know that you care about your online presence, then use your social channels as a proxy. Especially Twitter and LinkedIn, which have great Google rankings and will help show your professional face in public. As long as people can find a trace of you and are able to discern your principles then you are absolutely fine and dandy.
While I’m on a roll, another cardinal website crime is sites that aren’t mobile friendly or bring you out in a sweat just trying to navigate through it. The whole point of a website is to show your best business self, and so the website needs to navigate like a dream, function well and look like you are ahead of the crowd. If your website isn’t doing that, bring it down for now and work on it, or better yet get the Bamboo boys to step in.
Once you have your website up and running and it’s strutting its stuff on Google, it’s effectively acting as a free advertising beacon. It cost a lot of money to regularly advertise in trade magazines and industry journals, and so if you get your SEO bang on and write relevant content, you will help guide the flock right to your website and your brand with no extra money spent. Think of your website as full-page Ad spreads that have a potentially global and niche audience.
And if you’re willing to loosen those purse strings you can get cracking on some Google Ads campaigns which, when done right, can be cheaper than traditional advertising and reap better rewards or return on investment.
Your website is also a chance for you to show who you are to the outside world and have some sort of control over what they see. This may sound slightly creepy, but if you are truthful then it doesn’t have to be dodgy.
For example, if you manufacture products that are hands down the best in the market, then tell your audience! Put up all the snazzy accreditations you’ve achieved and explain to them what makes your product the bees-knees. When you create sharp, crisp copy that lets you flaunt your best attributes it sets your company apart from the rest.
Or let’s say that you produce some pretty delicious cakes and sell them locally, you are doing well but you want to keep building awareness in the region. You actually really care about supporting local producers to make those cakes, so you buy your eggs and milk from the local farm shop and you purchase your flour from a fellow small and local business. Your first port of call is to tell your audience exactly that! because the type of customers that buy from you will care that you support local causes and will more likely become loyal and tell other people about you. It also strengthens your brand identity, so when people think of you they think of delicious cake and wholesome business practices.
Look into my eyes
If the eyes are the window the soul, then websites are the online doors to your business.
In the end, your website is part of your professional image and is important to get right for any size business. A good website can bring more business to your door, help elevate your brand, set you apart from the rest and provide a back up to what your established customers are already saying about you. And who wouldn’t want that?
We recently posted a blog about GDPR, and how the new regulations are going to affect how you contact your most loyal customers and your potential leads. But GDPR is going to change a lot more than that, it’s going to change how people interact with marketing content, how they come across it and in turn engage with your brand.
Because we all can’t spam our contact list anymore we need to rethink how we interact with and interest our audiences in what we do. A great (and compliant) way to do that is to use your blog to its full extent. If you don’t have one, put it on your to-do list, because having a blog on your website can create some seriously good results for your business.
Have I got news for you
Blogs are a great way to drive traffic to your website because your news and posts have lots of useful words that fly into Google and get picked up by anyone typing queries that match your content.
Say for example you own a restaurant and your write a blog about the best cake recipes of the season, someone might be searching for a birthday cake with trendy flavours, come across your website, look at the menu, like it and book a table for their birthday bash.
Google also enjoys a good blog because it loves nothing better than good quality content, so the clever little Google algorithms will favour your website above others on search rankings because you are writing relevant information that Google knows people want to find. Your content is like a magic door for Google, you help their bots link their users to the information they are looking for.
It makes sense really because if Google is sending people to the wrong sites and those sites start to generate eye-popping bounce rates, Google users are more likely to use another search engine that guides them to the right information.
You are basically doing Google a huge favour when you write up a blog and post regularly, it knows your website is active and that you have enough keywords to interest the person looking for your exact topic, so it lifts you right up the search chain and attract website visitors who aren’t necessarily looking for your brand but would be interested in what you do. An online SEO tango and a match made in heaven.
But be careful, writing keywords just for Google is a big no-no, and Google is training its bots to spot blogs or websites that are just trying to drive traffic. It also doesn’t create the best relationship with your customers. The digitally savvy Joe Bloggs knows what you are up to and will make you seem conceited and only interested in bringing them to your site. It’s actually a mutual respect thing, if you show that you value what your customers care about they will in turn value what you do.
1 in a million
You also set the tone for your brand when you concentrate on your blog. It’s not a coincidence that the blog or news section often has high web traffic. People want to understand your backstory and what you are about and want to know if you have the same beliefs and values as them. The blog should always be part of your whole brand image and provide a holistic view of who you are, with the ultimate goal of encouraging engagement and loyalty from your audience.
Say you are an organic cheesemaker and want to attract the more alternative people your area, writing blogs about the environment, local collectives and social cooperatives will not only ensure your star cheddar flies off the shelves but also matches your brand voice to your audience, heightening awareness in the local area as you go.
It’s also important to not just make up an image to attract a certain type of person. People are very content savvy nowadays, they’ve been around the digital block and know a red herring blog when they see one. If you are a cooperate money making machine and need to attract millennials, writing about how much you hate plastic and love a good recycle will look like a cheap tactic to clean up your image just to attract the Facebook generation, and definitely won’t look like your writing and business values are sincere.
Most businesses also have a list of competitors as long as their arm. Having a refreshing and insightful blog will often distinguish your brand from the other 10 web designers, law firms or café owners in the area. It will also ensure that the people who see your website and then contact you, connect with who you are and will mean you are more likely to build a quality relationship.
The royal treatment
Quality really is the watchword as we move into the bright and shiny new GDPR world. The whole point of the regulations is to protect people from unsolicited and irrelevant content, as well as their undeniable right to know what is happening with their personal data.
The point of quality content is to generate not just a quality image but to also nurture important customers or people who are highly likely to become customers. Marketers are harping on about engagement and not growing because the nuggets of gold are actually within a much smaller circle than you think. Getting your core audience to interact with you is when you are much more likely to get brand loyalty and increase your sales.
So Instead of just throwing out a net out to see how much you can get, concentrate on the people that are already interested. Spending time understanding those people more will help to drive a stronger and more targeted marketing plan across your business and will ensure that you attract more of your core audience without jamming email campaigns down their throat.
Basically, instead of throwing out the net, create an oasis so the fish come to you.
And part of that content oasis is a regular blog, which is shared on social media and which tackles what the people in your industry are most interested in without directly selling anything.
Are you listening?
I go on about this a lot in my blogs, but using analytics really is key to understanding your audience. If you don’t have a look at what is happening behind the scenes you can’t know if your dastardly content plan is working.
I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I thought were lukewarm on the relevance scale but actually generated the most page hits, engagement and longest page duration times. These are kernels of information that you can use to improve and hone your content so that you hit that bullseye every time you write and keep on interesting your audience.
In the end, content marketing is a long road paved with potholes, and you won’t get results straight away. But is it the sort of slow burner that is worth the time invested. Knowing what your audience wants to read means you know that your brand is relevant, and you understand who you are to your customers, which is half the battle to winning over their hearts.
Smartphones are our beloved personal assistants, our communication tools and our secret keepers. A blossoming love affair or deep-seated addiction that has helped smartphones rise to stardom. Our phones are now the way most people in the world search for online information and view websites.
Gone are the days when the home computer or even the laptop reigned supreme. Anyone who checks their Google Analytics will have noticed this trend. People are much more likely to jump onto your site via their phone because smartphones are used as browsing screens that people have to hand and can use while on the go.
The trend has hit such a climax that it’s becoming the browsing norm. Desktop and smartphone roles have been flipped and people aren’t going back.
In the past, Google’s SEO rankings would concentrate on desktop website content, now though Google has released a mobile first indexing to effectively react to the rising use of our handy pocket devices.
So what’s going to change? Before, Google primarily scanned through your desktop version and largely ignored mobile. Google is now going to start reviewing your mobile website before it rates your desktop version. Google will use its crawling, indexing and ranking systems to firstly analyse your mobile content and then desktop.
As we’ve jokingly hinted at in a previous blog, Google is effectively the God of the internet and once it lays down a new way that websites are ranked, web designers and business have to keep up or get out of the game. This means that in the near future, websites will be firstly built for mobile and then desktop. Kooky stuff.
It doesn’t stop there. Google will start to penalise you if your mobile version of your site isn’t up to scratch and you will see both your rank on Google and your traffic go down. If you already have a mobile responsive website, you can relax. Make yourself a drink, sit back and watch the rest of the internet start to scramble. If your website isn’t mobile responsive, then put it on the top of to-do list, because things are about to get rocky.
For the mobile responsive crowd, don’t make your second cocktail just yet, because there’s still a bit of work to do.
Preaching to the converted
Even though websites are accessed via mobile more than 50% of the time, the conversion rates for mobiles (36%) are much lower than desktop. E-commerce mobile websites have much more people dropping off before they’ve purchased. It seems people are more than happy to window shop on mobile but not to buy the product or service.
So what’s turning consumers off?
One reason is simply the size of the screen and the fact that navigation and user experience is still (in general) better on desktop e-commerce sites. Online shoppers can see images more clearly and can easily hop through catalogues of products and back to their shopping trolley.
The biggest issue for mobile is the actual checkout. Always remember that the easier you can make it for a person to buy, the more likely they will. Here are some ways to make your online shopper’s lives a little easier on your mobile site:
Get rid of any obligatory registration forms, or pop-ups that won’t go away, they act as literal barriers to higher conversion rates. Always give people the option to be a member or to continue as a guest.
Enable an autofill option for guests and members. Create a secure section in the members profile where they can store all their payment information once and your site does the rest for them. A two-click or even 1 click shopping experience (Think Amazon) – from product page to the buy button is your e-commerce Eldorado.
Give shoppers options – this includes different payment methods, videos of products, save purchase to buy later and staged payment or deposits for expensive purchases – Airbnb has just introduced a 2 stage payment option.
Promise me the moon
Security and habit are also prime reasons shoppers click off mobile checkouts and go back to their trusty desktops.
People are a sucker for habits and will take a while to start to trust and feel comfortable with new-fangled ways of doing things, especially when money is involved. Shoppers want to feel secure and want to know that their money hasn’t been thrown into a pyramid scheme or that their card details haven’t been flown across the internet to various international fraudsters.
How do you prove to your customers that you aren’t about to throw their money off a cliff? With open, honest information and clear content which is present at every stage of the purchasing process and of course with top end security.
For example, if you deal with large amounts of money or are the middle man between customer and creator, have a third-party banking system and tell your customers how safe their money really is.
We also highly recommend creating a separate page with all your security information and returns policy clearly written and easily accessible from every part of the customer’s journey. The more clarity you provide, the more opportunity you give your customer to trust you.
Definitely don’t exaggerate or claim to provide any form of security that you cannot. And If you are worried about your e-commerce security, there a plenty of web application scanning tools that can help you analyse risk or contact a professional web designer to help you assess any holes in your back-end security.
It takes two
In the end, a successful e-commerce website that builds strong conversion rates is a website that understands how important it is to listen to customer behaviour and nurture a two-way relationship with their shoppers.
If your mobile e-commerce site isn’t doing what it’s meant to, look at your analytics and ask your customer’s how they think the mobile site could be improved. You’d be surprised how much useful information you collect and how your relationship with your customers strengthens.
And remember that the quickest way to an online shopper’s heart is easy navigation, clear options and secure checkout payment.
We’ve got to a stage in our digital adventure where we’ve reached peak information overload. There isn’t a point in the day where we aren’t thrown a statistic, a graph, an infographic or given a slurry of trends to watch out for.
We are now so bombarded by facts, which often oppose each other, that we are even starting to genuinely believe that facts are relative.
One of the reasons for this shift in how we view truth or facts is there are so many well regarded and official polls that have colossally failed to predict voting patterns. And these predication fails have subsequently managed to be part of the mudslide that tipped the world in a completely different direction, Trump and Brexit being the most obvious.
When experts are giving us facts and the reality doesn’t match up, we naturally start to come the conclusion that fact and opinion is part of the same blurry painting, and that one person’s truth is another person’s fiction.
And this isn’t a fringe belief, it’s starting to become an ingrained and popular mindset which has many experts referring to the current era as ‘post-truth’. We are basically living in a time when a fact can be subjective, and that belief is completely linked to how we view, process and interact with data.
The many brushstrokes
When we think of data we think of figures and that those figures are collected, processed and then churned out to show us what is truly happening at any given time. That could either be how long people are on Facebook every day, how many people believe aliens exist or which type of ketchup people shop for in Tesco.
What is consistently happening though, is that people are using a certain bit of data collection and using that as the whole picture. They use one result to tell a version of the story, but not the whole picture.
When you strip out complexity you run the risk of siloing information which often doesn’t show what is actually happening or what people are truly thinking. Much like how priests used the Latin Bible to pick out their own truths in a time when the general population couldn’t read or understand Latin.
We are now digital awakened, so we think of data as gospel. But the data we are absorbing isn’t as much of an all-seeing truth as we like we think, not because the data is infallible but because we aren’t analysing it in the right way. We are relying far too heavily on the cherry picking of data to tell the whole reality of a situation. And when we cherry pick and don’t look past the data to the human story behind the number we run the danger of misleading an audience or even ourselves in the process.
We are forgetting that behind the data are people, and people aren’t wired like computers, often aren’t that logical or feel inclined to follow a predicted trend graph. Putting the humanity back into how we analyse and process data will ensure that we are more aligned with real thought processes and complex human natures, so we can predict things more accurately.
A great example is writing down everything you eat and drink for a whole month and then collating that data and creating results and insights from it. Some of the results might not make sense or be quite shocking. Say for example your alcohol consumption is a lot higher than the national average for the month and that you actually fall into the category of a binge drinker. But then if you have another look past that one result and go back to the story behind that statistic, the actual truth might be that you like a glass of wine every other night in front of your Netflix binge of the moment.
Raw data doesn’t work or isn’t properly reflected in reality when we don’t analyse what is actually happening behind the scenes, especially when we don’t use context or take into account human nature.
Once upon a time
Many people also think analysing data helps us to be more efficient (which it does) but the reason we all love a good statistic is because it helps us to understand the world and our place in it. Data at its best is useful and relative information which helps us to improve as a person, understand the current status quo and how we relate to one another.
We have started to forget what data truly is. Data is always a means to explaining a story, and we as humans love to communicate and understand ourselves through our stories. When we take out the complexity of life and the many layers of human nature from our data, we lobotomise it and make it float apart from reality. The story behind the data is always what matters.
Data is like music – at its most basic it’s just strings of notes which sit flat and lifeless on a music sheet. But once a musician takes time to find the emotive story of each note and processes it into a melody, the musician breathes life into those numbers and it finally makes sense and relates something to us. The individual notes become part of the entire song.
Giorgia Lupi, Information Designer and Data Humanism advocate, says it best in her Ted Talk:
“To make data faithfully representative of our human nature and to make sure they won’t mislead us anymore we need to design ways to include empathy and imperfection. Use human qualities in the way we collect, view and analyse data. Instead of using data to become more efficient we should start using data to become more humane.”
She even suggests that to bring humanity back into our data the most logical step is to take technology totally out of the question. We should start collecting our own behavioural patterns and using beautifully designed visual graphics to show how we think, feel and behave. We then apply those findings to engineer how our technologies analyse data.
Because technology can’t track our thoughts or intricate moods (yet) it is up to us to put our human spirit into our graphs and figures so that our polls and our predictions finally represent ever-changing global stories, people and viewpoints.
One thing is for sure, once we learn how to combine the power of data and our own human natures, we will create a data culture tour de force. It’s something that the whole technology sector is trying to solve, to be able to combine the best parts of ourselves and our inventions to create emotive and efficient technology.
It’s fair to say that there’s been quite a lot of scaremongering about the upcoming GDPR laws flying about the internet and running across offices. You’ve also probably received an Armageddon of email spams from every company under the sun asking you to agree to be spammed for many more years to come.
But before you fall to the ground and raise your hands to the sky and ask what to do, don’t worry all is not lost – and you most certainly don’t need to do a ‘Wetherspoons’ and delete your entire database just to protect yourself.
All shook up
Let’s rewind for a second and talk about why GDPR is coming around the bend and what has triggered the EU government to act.
There is currently a bit of a shakeup going on between businesses and governments, especially when business is done online. Before, the internet was thought of as a boundless and utopian information sharing tool. The very essence of the internet was to have plateaued and free information. But our technological advances have been moving so quickly that governments have been struggling to keep up and protect citizens properly. And so with all this freedom came a darker side to the internet, and one of those murkier realms has always been data collecting.
It’s common knowledge that companies have been collecting personal data records from us without adequate consent for years. We never really liked it but what could we really do about it?
Well, the EU government has now stepped in to push for more transparency and auditing trails from companies to protect the privacy rights of its citizens. And GDPR is the practical application of the EU government’s wish to create a stricter version of our data privacy laws, which will unify EU member state laws and give more power to the people.
The law will come into action on the 25th of May 2018 and will specifically protect EU citizens from organisations using their data irresponsibly and gives citizens more visibility about what information is shared, as well as where and how companies use their data.
Pretty good stuff right? So why is it sending jitters across the business world?
I think we all agree more data protection for citizens is a good thing, but the challenge now for many companies is to understand what GDPR actually is and how they can become 100% compliant. Any businesses found not following the regulations could be fined up the 4% of the company’s global annual turnover. Although this penalty will be reserved for serious breaches, it is understandably a huge risk to be taking if you don’t swat up enough about how to handle your data properly.
The Big Bad Wolf
There is also a shed load of misconceptions about GDPR laws and it’s sending a lot of companies into a bit of a kerfuffle. The regulations aren’t as scary as most will have you think, and they definitely aren’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
So, what can you do?
You can lawfully process personal data without consent if it is necessary for:
A contract with the individual: for example, to supply goods or services they’ve requested, or to fulfil your obligations under an employment contract.
Compliance with a legal obligation: if you are required by UK or EU law to process the data for a particular purpose, you can.
Vital interests: you can process personal data if it’s necessary to protect someone’s life. This could be the life of the person in question or someone else.
A public task: if you need to process personal data to carry out your official functions or a task in the public interest or you have a legal basis for the processing data under UK law
Legitimate interests: if you are a private-sector organisation, you can process personal data without consent if you have a genuine and legitimate reason (including commercial benefit), unless this is outweighed by harm to the individual’s rights and interests.
Wash my sins away
Providing consent is being talked about a lot for good reason. Companies now need an audit trail or record of when contacts in your database give consent (or permission) to marketing, being contacted or having their information shared. If the reason you are contacting someone doesn’t fit in the above list or you don’t have any tangible proof of consent for your current contacts you need to go and get it. And when I say tangible proof I mean that you need the date, time, source, IP address and consent statement.
How? Most companies are directly emailing their contacts to ask them to confirm they still want to be contacted and are using a ‘double opt-in’ process. It’s crucial that the consent is freely given, traceable and that they have a choice to not give it.
Another good tip is to give your database a good cleanse. This prep work will mean that you can delete any irrelevant contacts, eroded data or contacts that appear twice. Doing a data cleanse will save a lot of time in the long run because it will stop you or your team contacting an unnecessary amount of people.
It’s also good to keep in mind that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your contacts. Spending time analysing your contacts and sorting them into importance will help with prioritising your GDPR campaigns and help build stronger relationships with your core customers. It’ll also give you a planned strategy and stop you and your team running around like headless chickens.
If you haven’t sorted out your contact consent by the 25th of May you could be subject to penalties, right? Yes, but don’t panic.
The 25th of May is a cut-off point, but if you haven’t sorted out all your contacts and you aren’t 100% compliant by then just ensure that you have proof that you are enacting the requirements and that you are finalising your data consent or ‘opt-in’ plan. Showing that your data processing is ongoing could stop any infringement fines from occurring. So get your finger off the ‘delete all’ button and start sifting through your database.
Another crucial basis of the GDPR law is that you can send contacts (who haven’t given tangible consent) information if it is in their ‘legitimate interest’. If you can prove the information you are sending could be useful or could interest the person you are contacting, then you are legally allowed to and will be compliant with GDPR. Or in other words, you can choose between double opt-in consent or legitimate interest – music to all marketeer’s ears.
But what does the wonderful vague term ‘legitimate interest’ mean? Can you send adverts about your dance classes to anyone in the vicinity who has two working limbs? No. What you can do though is contact people based on their industry and job title. So what you are emailing them has the potential to benefit their business, themselves or be of interest to them.
As clear as day
There are some things that we all don’t know or can’t predict because the law needs to be alive and kicking to see how the regulations will come into action and how that will affect businesses and individuals. Questions like how does the right to erasure affect archives, how high will the fines be and will suppliers need to raise their prices to account for the loss of lead generation? The fog can only start to lift after the 25th of May when the law becomes a practical day to day regulation that we all work with.
What we all do know though is that GDPR is going to completely change how we receive information and how customers view their own data. GDPR is giving back ownership of our information in a time when information has never been more valuable.
What businesses now need to do is buckle up and except that we aren’t in Kansas anymore, but that Oz might not be such a bad place to do business in. If we accept that we might have to lose a lot of contacts but that we actually gain insight into our most loyal customers, we can actually use the changing times as a way to nurture existing relationships and create valuable content. GPDR will hopefully create a much stronger two-way bond between your business and your contacts, who have opted in to still listen to you.
We recently posted a blog about Google so we thought it was only right to also dedicate a blog to the undisputed e-commerce titan Amazon.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Amazon is just an online shopping platform, a quick and easy service that acts as a middleman between you and the products you need.
Amazon is actually a much bigger beast and is growing at a staggering rate. The e-commerce giant owns 9% of the global retail market, is a book publisher and seller, a hardware and software producer, owns a surprising number of the sites including Twitch, IMDb and GoodReads and has most recently purchased the huge American grocery chain WholeFoods. And let’s not forget its plan to become the king of voice recognition, with Alexa and Echo.
Amazon has grown 560% in value from 2012 to 2018. It’s combined net worth is $177.9 billion which would make it the 55th richest country in the world, sliding ahead of oil-rich Algeria and Qatar. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is the richest man in history and would be the 61st richest country in the world. He is currently richer than the wealth of Morocco and Sudan.
The kiss of death
We all know that money means power, so if a company or a person becomes richer than a country, what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? And why is Amazon’s rapid growth worrying so many experts and politicians around the world? Isn’t it normal for global businesses to grow and acquire new assets?
Sure it is, but the way Amazon goes about expanding and growing could be akin to a Pinky and the Brain episode, but where Brain actually succeeds. And I’m not exaggerating. The Bespoke Investment Group has been tracking 54 retail index stocks that have had brushes with Amazon in the competitive market, the negative effects for those companies were so huge that the BI Group have named it the ‘Death by Amazon Index’ and will soon release an ‘Amazon Survivors Index’ for those that have managed to crawl out of the black hole.
A great example of Amazon’s pull on stock markets is their recent Wholefood acquisition, which saw grocery chain stocks plummet as soon as the news hit that Amazon was moving into the grocery sector. And it seems Amazon’s power is so great that it need only mention a potential partnership to affect the stock market. The e-commerce heavyweights recently mentioned a potential healthcare project with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway which saw healthcare stocks start to move into a downward slide.
Why is the stock market so worried every time Amazon decides to move into a new sector?
When Amazon moves into a new sector, its intention is always to rule the waves of the sector it takes on. Amazon does this with two well-oiled strategies – the first is to be loved by their customers and the second is to use aggressive competitive takeovers to continue to rule their present markets and become kings of their future markets.
Track my progress
Amazon is also arguably one of the best customer behaviour trackers out there. Their analysts and algorithms do such a good job of tracking they can predict what we’ll want next. A bit like how the chain Target managed to predict when someone was pregnant just by what they bought. This obviously freaks people out and actually makes us realise the all-seeing power Amazon and the like have, so Amazon instead uses its omnipresence to subtly point us to a tailored e-commerce dreamland for all of our personal shopping wants and needs. Amazon knows that for customers to trust the brand it needs to show a friendly, cuddly face while sifting through our personal information.
They also use their hoovered-up data to see gaps in markets. So, if they see a large number of people searching for something but then not clicking through, they can see customers are trying to find something which Amazon currently doesn’t provide. Amazon then goes out and finds a partner to provide that service (which negatively affects other competitors) or creates a knock-off version themselves at a cheaper price, and effectively puts two fingers up at everyone else.
It also doesn’t have any problem competing with its own investments. Amazon infamously gave 5.6 million to start-up Nucleus for its Alexa powered conferencing tablet, only to release a very similar and cheaper Amazon device, the Echo Show.
Amazon, like most Tech Giants, is fighting it out to become the supreme leader of IoT, and specifically of voice recognition. To win, Amazon is assembling a tech army whose sole purpose is to see Amazon’s voice recognition software as the go-to brand in the entire world.
Don’t believe me? Here is a direct quote from Priya Abani, Amazon’s Director of AVS enablement.
“We basically envisage a world where Alexa is everywhere.”
A sentence that should strike fear into anyone that has seen enough doomsday films and doesn’t want Alexa to hear their every conversation (even if it forgets it). Or doesn’t want to see a company have pan-global access to a whole lot of personal data.
And when Priya Abani says everywhere she means everywhere. Amazon’s plan is to build Alexa software and hardware that can be built into anything and everything – from light bulbs and jewellery to cars and fridges. And this isn’t a lofty business strategy, Amazon is already working with partner brands to make that happen in the very near future.
Amazon basically wants to be the all-hearing ear in the ‘woke’ IoT world.
Have I scared you enough? No? Good, let’s move on to books.
Another business venture is their online publishing platform and their bookselling arm. Although great for self-publishing, smashing the old publishing barriers and gaining access to cheap literature, it actually serves as a commercially funnelled service for Amazon.
Amazon can pick and choose which books you see and which are recommended for you. Which means it can engineer which books become more successful. And not only can it do this on its publishing and e-commerce platform it also owns goodreads.com, which rates the books. A three-wheeled attack strategy that the Trojans would be proud of.
The end is near
But as Scott Galloway rightfully says in his insightfully hilarious video about tech companies and their mounting grip on the world – it is our role to put pressure on governments to hold tech companies to account so that they follow the same rules and laws that we and countries are governed by.
The internet and technology is truly a wonderful thing and has brought innovation after innovation to create a modern world full of possibilities. But like its inventors, us humans, it can have a darker side that we need to watch out for and not shut our eyes to.
There is a huge global shift ongoing at the moment to bring a bit of light and governance to some of the murkier realms of technology. What we need to do, as a global community, is strike the right balance between governance and the fantastic freedom and reach the internet and technology gives us. If one takes over the other one, that is when we must step in.
How interactive marketing is more than just the flavour of the month
Firstly, what even is interactive marketing? It basically means facilitating a two-way conversation or interaction between the source and the receiver via a marketing message. Or a marketing campaign that is created so that the audience engages and interacts with the brand.
This is an integral change to how marketing used to go about its business. In the past, traditional advertising would flow in one direction, from the people who created the adverts to the target audience. Advertisers did a lot of guesswork around what customers wanted and even went so far as influencing what customers will want in the future.
No film encapsulates the mantra of advertising in the 90s better than the first 5 minutes of the satirical film 99 francs, when the Creative Director of an advertising agency says:
‘I’m sorry to be so ahead of all of you. But I am the one who is going to have to decide what you will want tomorrow(…)Everything is temporary and everything can be bought. A man is just a product, with a limited sell-by date. I am advertising, I am the person who makes you dream about the things you will never have. Blue skies and perfect happiness retouched in Photoshop.’
Modern marketing (which basically ate up the traditional advertising sector as it continues to bloat) is still, of course, trying to influence consumer behaviour but what has changed is that consumers expect to be part of the conversation, they expect to be welcomed and respected participants in deciding what they want to purchase. They don’t want to be told anymore, they want brands to listen.
This is of course mutually beneficial. The people using and buying a brand are involved in making the product or service better so that it fits more with what they want. The brands get to improve what they’re selling so that they can align themselves more with the core audience. Win, win.
Collaborative and mutual feedback is the working mantra for interactive marketing, the whole point of 2-way input is that it helps both sides. Modern marketing is no longer outbound in nature, it no longer prescribes how consumers should think and feel, marketing is now pricking up its ears and listening to what the person at the other end of the receiver wants. In fact, inbound marketing intelligence is so crucial that any campaign that doesn’t analyse and adapt with the market will most likely fall flat on its insular face.
The modern world is moving so quickly, and we have so much more choice at our fingertips that what we want and need change constantly. And so, ideas and messages that aren’t bounced off the people that use them on a regular basis very quickly lose their appeal. Even a timeless idea needs to be constantly rehauled and made to look like it’s timeless and relevant.
And that’s why there is no such thing as too much feedback for brands. Feedback is a bit like a bottomless treasure chest or when you don’t realise how thirsty you are, and you find yourself downing a pint of water. Feedback is basically the fountain of youth for modern marketing, without it you’ll soon start hearing the cruel tick of Father Time.
Feed me grapes
Even the idea of feedback has moved on a bit since paper feedback forms or even electronic ones.
Now feedback can even be involuntary. Your swipes, bounces and clicks are all being hoovered up by clever little analytic bots, who feed it back to the people who know what to do with all that raw data. And because marketing can never have enough information from us, brands are now developing websites, games and marketing campaigns which push for absolute collaboration and total interaction.
Push notifications, moving graphics, quizzes, moments and games or even live stream videos where the host and the viewer can interact with each other are all forms of feedback. They are all out there on the world wide web because they help collate the maximum amount of information from us while at the same time giving us an interesting and positive experience. The audience always needs to get something from the interaction because it’s a two-way deal.
We need you
Interactive marketing reflects how much the world has changed since the 1990s advertising brigade or even the classic wartime adverts. The whole point of marketing now is to create a dynamic process that creates organic interaction, a continuous loop of communication. Dynamic because it is fuelled by us and should react to a substantial change in pattern or behaviour.
Interactive marketing is more tuned into human nature than the older advertising ways. It’s no longer about talking at your audience, it’s about listening. This integral change happened because the consumer is now smarter and more experienced than the consumers of old, they know a plug and a marketing trick a mile off and will only live with it if they are involved in the game of chess instead of the unaware pawn.
Crucially, the target audience woke up and realised that choice was the downfall of any brand, and that if they use their loyalty as a bargaining chip, brands would finally let them sit at the table and listen to what they have to say.
Creatives are a bit mysterious aren’t they? Shuffling about with their macbooks and hipster outfits, paid to have fun and mess around with colours and words. I recently wrote a blog post about graphic designers, and how people don’t really understand what they do – I think copywriters definitely fall under the same mysterious creative banner.
I often think that it’s probably our own fault that we’re seen this way. We never really lift the creative veil and say ‘hey so we actually do some really practical work behind our Notebooks!’ We never really think about explaining our trade our creative process properly.
First things first – we do a lot more than write up words, we (like graphic designers) wear a few different hats that help us create copy that doesn’t just sound good but actually creates web traffic, loyal customers and increases sales.
Which hats do we wear?
I would say any copywriter worth their salt is also a brand expert, a marketer, a creative writer and understands the basics of design. A copywriter also constantly walks a tightrope between the creative and commercial world so that the copy answers a brief, is engaging and taps into something unique. A copywriter’s goal is to captivate the reader and take them on a journey from brand awareness to loyal customer, without them even realising.
Step by step
When it comes to websites, getting the copy right is crucial. Websites are now the first place a person looks to find out more about your business and why they should even interact with you. 80% of website users will never go back to a website if they’ve had a negative experience. If you have a website that looks like a digital dinosaur, they will probably never come back and will hop to your other competitors on Google without a second thought.
Your website isn’t just a shop window, it can be used to push your users to action and should be integral to the success of your business. Great copy helps create a quality customer experience for your website which elevates your brand, company values and creates long-term loyalty.
So why is investing in professional copywriting so important for websites?
1: Attracts potential customers to your website
Great website content improves website traffic, increases customer interaction and raises awareness of your brand and services.
How? By picking the right words that your audience searches for on Google, otherwise known as SEO, which will help more potential customers find your site, and can convince readers to choose you over your competitors.
Good SEO captures google visitors by adding keywords to your website that people search for and stops users clicking off your site by appealing to their interests and needs. Good quality copy works subtle SEO into the body of the text which attracts users to your site and shows them what makes you special.
2: Helps convert a visitor into a loyal customer
Once your content attracts a visitor to your website, the copy should work in tandem with great website design so that you lead the visitor through an online journey which convinces them to browse through your website and ultimately interact with you.
Professional copywriting takes on board what your core audience is interested in and what will help convince them that you are the company to pick. Good content takes on every step of customer conversion – from discovering you on google, browsing through your website to facilitating contact.
The power of words can make a visitor pick up the phone and ring you because they feel you offer what they need and that you appeal to their values. A good professional copywriter will add the right keywords, structure, layout and tone – giving you the building blocks to capture visitors and nurture long-term customer relationships.
3: Strengthens your brand
A strong brand is directly linked to increased sales. People want to instantly understand who you are and what makes you tick.
Words can help you transform how a reader views your brand. Words can create a consistent image that connects right to your target audience.
When a skilled copywriter works on a website project, one of their main aims is to strengthen your brand. They will work on your brand values, what your target audience cares about, and how to let your best-selling points shine.
4: Differentiates you from your competitors
If 10 other companies in your area sell a very similar service or product, how can you convince someone that you are the company that they should go with?
It’s simple – if your website is the best on the market, your customers will think you are the market leader. Or think about it this way – if two people went for an interview and one was sat upright and dressed in a suit while the other was slouching and had a creased and stained T-shirt on, which one would you choose before even seeing their C.V or speaking to them?
Your website is often the first thing potential customers see about your company, and first impressions count. Copywriters work in tandem with graphics designers and website coders so that every part of a website is consistent and shines a spotlight on why you are unique and why someone should pick you above someone else.
Copywriters understand that words have the power to put you above your competitors and know how to use them in the most effective way for your business. A great copywriter will work closely with you to find your unique selling points and values to elevate your company and put you a cut above the rest.
5: Gives a positive online image of your company
First impressions aren’t just about beating your competitors, they are also crucial for your company’s image. 80% of website users will never go back to a website if they’ve had a negative experience. Bad website design and badly worded pages are the top reasons why users click off and find another website that gives them what they need.
Sleek website design and memorable content help users easily find what they want and understand who you are – creating a positive image and helping you to achieve long-term relationships with your customers.
A mix of quality content and web design is the magic formula for creating a website that your customers remember for all the right reasons.
Psst! At Bamboo, we have our very own copywriter, Sara Benaissa. If you are thinking about a new website and need to work on your web copy, give us a call and we can have a chat about how great design and content create the best websites on the digital market.
Whose line is it anyway?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, what even is a strapline?
They are basically business catchphrases, slogans or small groups of words that make up a memorable sentence. A good strapline should reflect who you are, what you do as a business and alert your target audience to your main business values in a snappy soundbite.
The almighty strapline basically sits on top of a carefully planned brand strategy, acting like a beacon, streaming out a bold and simple message.
When it comes to branding, the big bad companies out there spend troves of money finding the right strapline for their brand, because they understand the colossal impact it can have on their audience. They know that words have the power to shape perception and buying habits.
Customers buy from brands they trust and can relate to. Audiences flock to websites that have strong stories and values that align with the individual and society.
Great straplines can also make your company look better than your competitors, who are essentially selling the same product or idea. They can create loyal customers who believe they are buying from someone who understands them and their lifestyles.
Up in lights
To really bring home how much sway straplines can have and how they push you to think in a very specific way about a company, here are two of the best straplines out there:
Because you’re worth it
Just Do it
99% of the modern world know which brands these straplines belong to. The clever trick is that we aren’t just thinking about the company, we’re also subconsciously accepting a very carefully planned brand message.
The globally recognised because you’re worth it, is a brilliantly executed strapline. Firstly, it answers the question ‘Why should I buy from you?’. Secondly, it makes you think that buying luxury or treating yourself is a worthwhile investment. And thirdly, it implies L’Oréal Paris is good enough for your tastes.
The brand flatters your ego, tells you that they are better quality than their competitors and so makes you think they are value for money. All in 5 unassuming words.
Just Do it is a fantastic strapline for a sports brand because it inspires action, positivity, a drive to do better, and ultimately to buy a brand that helps you do that. Nike even capitalises the ‘Do’ so you only associate that exact phrase with the brand.
Great straplines tap into our human nature, for Nike that means playing into our need to always improve and be our best selves.
The Perfect Recipe
So what makes a great strapline?
I asked resident graphic designer and co-owner of Bamboo, Simon Nolan –
“Your strapline basically sits next to your brand and acts as a message, helping users to sum up your ethos, your values and what you are about. The strapline is the introduction and summary of who you are. A great strapline should act like the glue that holds your content together and should be the start of a strong and consistent brand story that runs from your website right through to your business cards.”
Creating a good strapline is like pouring icing on top of a cake so that it trickles down between the layers. It strengthens your image, puts a bold idea out there for your audience to digest and helps streamline your business values.
So how do you go about creating a strapline?
Keep it Simple
If you take one thing from this article, it should be ‘the simpler the better’. Flowery constructions or wordy poetry have no place in the strapline cattle market. You want short, sharp words that pack a punch.
Make it Memorable
Along with a simple idea and message, you want someone to remember your brand, and for the right reasons. Whether you are a big or small company, when a loyal customer sees your strapline they should immediately think of you. In an ideal world they should even speak about your strapline to other people, think Budweiser or Specsavers.
How do you make it memorable? Humour is a great trick, as is appealing to someone’s emotions. You need to understand your audience and what makes them tick and then use your strapline as a mirror back to their own values. But keep it honest, consumers can smell a red herring three google clicks away.
So, you’ve got simple and you’ve got memorable, now you need positive. You don’t want to be remembered for making children cry or horrifying your core audience (although sometimes that can work). Stay positive, people always want a happy ending to a story.
One of the big reasons that straplines work so well is that they help you look different to your competitors and raise you up to a new playing field.
I firmly believe that most competitors sell a very similar product, but not all competitors have the same values. Concentrate on what makes you different from the crowd and create your brand message and strapline around that.
Show your Worth
A strapline helps convince your audience that you are worth their time, money and energy.
How do you get them to think that? Like most things in life, start with the basics. When you are setting up your brand or refreshing your image, you need to have a serious think about your core principles before you decide on a strapline.
When I say core principles, I mean the basic values that define your company. Defining your core values is also about what you and your target audience finds important. You core values should create a bridge between your goals and their expectations – – whether that’s ethics, speed, simplicity, or family values.
Once you’ve thought of them, a good trick is to imagine if someone took those 3 or 4 values away, would you still be the same company? No? then those 3 magic words are your building blocks to branding glory.
Next step is your strapline, which should have 1-2 of your core principles worked into the content, and the best straplines do this without even saying those exact keywords.
The road to Tipperary
Even if you’ve never done any sort of branding before, you know your company more than anyone else, so spend some time thinking about who you are and what makes you unique. Then start using our 5 top strapline tips as the first stepping stones to a great brand story and a star-studded strapline.
PSST! Did you know that we have our very own copywriter? If you want to rework your website and freshen up your content, give us a ring or pop into Ziferblat Edge Street, Manchester – where we’ll be more than happy to have a chat about your website project and how we can help over some Zifercake
It’s official – Bamboo Manchester has spent 365 wonderful days as Clockwork members at Ziferblat Edge Street!
We’ve had a fantastic first year co-working from Ziferblat Edge Street. We still love coming to work knowing that each day will be different – from how the space is used by everyone in it, to the people we meet or the eclectic events constantly going on in the northern quarter’s very own eccentric grandma’s living room.
The origins story
We were actually looking for a fixed office space in the area when we first decided to take the plunge and become northern quarter co-workers. We’d rented an office in Bury for a few years but felt the next logical step was to work more centrally and have a Manchester post code.
We decided to start looking at offices in the Northern Quarter and spent a whole morning traipsing around the quirky red brick streets. By the end of the morning, we’d gone from one white washed room to another and hadn’t really felt that lightbulb moment where you think ‘this is our kind of office!’.
After what felt like the millionth drab space, we went for a much-needed break and decided to put our feet up and eat some cake at Ziferblat. As we sat in the communal living room café, we watched the friendly buzz mill about the room. People were playing chess, working from their laptops, playing on the piano, and having a good chat over a cup of tea on the balcony.
We realised right then that Ziferblat was the sort of place that we’d love to work in. It was the complete opposite to the standard office spaces were looking at. It was brimming with creative character, was friendly and sociable but also had a calm feel about it – exactly what we needed for our web design business!
We then bumped into Ben Davies, the Marketing Manager at Ziferblat, who genuinely loves the living room area so much that he works in the open space with fellow Ziferblatters. We told him our plight over a cup of tea and he told us about the Clockwork Membership.
Let there be cake
Sometimes in life those perfect moments just come out of nowhere, and this was one of them. We’d stumbled across not only the ideal space for us but also the perfect office package. We didn’t even realise that co-working would be ideal for us until we walked into the Ziferblat doors looking for refuge from a draining morning. And there we were, happily signing on the dotted line for membership and a Manchester post code.
Since we became loyal Ziferblatters, a number of surprisingly brilliant things have happened to us. We firstly realised how truly great co-working is and how much it suits what we do. We then noticed a lot of freelancers congregating and eating a lot of cake together on Fridays.
Katy Carlisle, who is the founder of Freelancer Folk, welcomed us with open arms and we are now part of her friendly remote worker community. We meet every Friday and not only socialise but help each other out and even work together on projects. It’s what all offices should be like – open, supportive and motivational.
We’ve also had the privilege to collaborate with other inspiring people just by working in a space that is social and open to genuine conversation with strangers. We’ve even met new clients by having a good chat in the kitchen, sharing co-working tables or having collective breaks in the sofa areas.
We also realised that having the flexibility to work how you want and in whatever type of space you feel like, is helping us be more creative and work more productively. We’ve even branched out into video creation and are working on a rebrand to reflect our Mancunian co-working awakening (watch this space!).
In the end, having that break was one of the best decisions we’ve made, not only for Bamboo but also as individuals. It still makes us tremble in our co-working boots knowing that we could’ve missed working here if we hadn’t given in to our love of all things cake!
Bamboo’s coffee adventures at Ziferblat, Edge Street
Coffee has been married into our lives for a very long time. From the first people that discovered the beans, to the millions of coffee shops across the planet. We just can’t get enough of the stuff.
In recent years, coffee culture has been working fervently underground. Coffee experts have been toiling away in backrooms to ensure that the coffee poured into our porcelain cups is lovingly cared for before we put coffee to lips. Experts, such as Sean from 92 degrees in Liverpool, concentrate on sourcing good quality beans and meticulously processing them into great coffee. The time, temperature, and nature of the roast all adds to why some brews beat the rest of the flock.
Good Coffee is also a staple for any urban co-working space, and very important to the average freelancers and remote worker. So when Ben, Marketing Manager at Ziferblat, invited us and other Ziferblat friends to a coffee tasting of the most expensive brew in the world, Gesha Village Coffee, we threw out the Nescaf’ and listened to Sean from 92 degrees with bated breath.
Freelance folk, Manc Made, MCRhookup and Fraiche Ink were also the resident coffee drinkers, on hand to taste the record breaking brew and listen to Sean, who explained the legend of Kaldi, or the Ethiopian goat that discovered coffee, and why Gesha Village sold at auction at an eye watering 85 dollars.
According to Sean, Gesha village has ideal natural conditions and ecosystem for making the best coffee in the world. The farmers also did something very unusual for the coffee world, they left the coffee plants alone and let them do their thing. Their gamble paid off when the beans went to market and broke coffee bartering records.
So is coffee ever worth paying £85?
All we can say is that tasting the best coffee in the world is like when you think you know what vodka tastes like, and then you try a good vodka and you realised you’ve been sipping on fuel for most of your life. Or more poetically, a bit like seeing colour for the first time, the colour of velvety brown.
Why Google Rankings strategies matter
Your site is up and running, it’s looking sleek and shiny, ready for the whole world to see. You sit at your computer waiting for the thousands of visits and leads that are going to come knocking on your digital window.
So why have the weeks gone by and you’re yet to receive the tidal wave of requests you expected, and your views are struggling to hit the 100 per week mark?
First things first, you are not alone, many companies navigate through the choppy waters of website traffic and have no idea how to bring the boat into port in unchartered territory.
Google is effectively the gate keeper of high search rankings and organic traffic. Meeting Google ranking requirements is one of the most important things for high website traffic, and ultimately lead generation.
What then is the magic Google recipe to put you above all your competitors and become the cream of the Google ranking crop?
Tell me the truth
One of the most important and relatively easiest ways is with quality content. Writing engaging and relevant information on your website which is often refreshed (i.e. with a blog) is a sure-fire way to see your Google rankings rise.
People react most to genuine content that hits a Zeitgeist or speaks to their values. Which means that no amount of hyperlinking or SEO can replace interesting content that attracts your core audience. You can even attract long-tail traffic, which is basically attracting visitors that are interested in what you do but weren’t specifically looking for you.
A good example of this is if a restaurant, which has a website and blog, posts weekly trend setting recipes. A person might research a recipe that is on the blog and stumble across the post, like what they see, look at the whole website and decided to visit the restaurant.
SEO my heart out
Another way is through SEO, a term which is being bandied about a lot and is being propelled as the new way to write content. Away from the marketing jargon, SEO is just writing compelling content for your brand which contains words that people are likely to search for when they are looking for what you do.
It’s important though, to firstly write quality content and to secondly concentrate on SEO. The worst mistake a lot of websites do is to try and drive content by solely concentrating on searchable words, this often created conceited and jumbled up sentences which tends to lead to high traffic but also very high bounce rates.
SEO works when you can’t tell the searchable words are there. They should never be the gravitational pull in a sentence but should instead sit calmly behind the scenes in a genuine piece of writing.
It’s also not just about the words you write for the whole world to see, it’s also important to get your back-end in order. All I mean by back-end, is the page settings in your editor suite, where you can view each of your pages and write meta-tags or searchable terms which help Google understand what your site does, raised your profile and directs the right traffic towards it.
It is also important to do this for pictures and videos. Google is basically a very complex algorithm and reacts to data (a colossal 20 petabytes per day). If Google processes a picture or video without a back-end description it is basically invisible to Google and won’t help your rankings.
Social media also has a big part to play, because it can help drive more traffic to your website. Having various social media accounts for your company effectively shines a stronger beacon towards your website by picking up visitors from a wider angle.
You are quite literally providing more opportunities to be searched for on the internet, and Google likes knowing that traffic is coming to your website from multiple sources. A bit like the popular high school kid, who decides whether you’re worth their attention based on how many friends you have.
Picking which social media platform is right for you is also important. If you’re a design company, Pinterest and Instagram are probably the way to go, if you’re a street food company Instagram and Snapchat will probably get you genuine engagement, where a data analyst organisation will probably look to Twitter and LinkedIn as a more appropriate route.
The key strategy with social media is to get your branding streamlined and to constantly generate compelling content which will, if all things go to plan, drive increased traffic to your website and give you a healthy boost on Google.
In the end, raising your Google ranking can feel a bit like a shooting star, some days your rankings soar and some days you are left scratching your head and wondering what changed from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Don’t lose faith though, the best sign that your google ranking strategy is working is that the long-term pattern is one of growth and that you are enjoying writing your content. Sometimes that can be a reader’s individual feedback, an average increase in session duration or a few more contacts via your website or social media accounts than last month.
Whenever I write for myself or for companies I always stick to a genuine voice and write about what is genuinely interesting to the core audience, and then I back it up with metatags and SEO. Just like in real life, when you are faking it, people can tell, and tend to back away. The need for genuine conversation reaches all corners of our life, including the internet and our websites.
Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.
Why people want to know the story behind the brand
Humans have always connected through stories.
Even when we didn’t know how to write, we passed on stories through folklore, songs and pictures. Some of our most beloved stories and books are actually just modern versions of the most ancient of tales, which shows how truly enduring a good story can be.
And so it comes as no surprise that we want exactly the same thing from our favourite brands. We want companies to tell us why they are doing something more than what they are doing. We want the back story, the origin of the idea, the raison d’être.
Hole in my soul
I’ve talked a lot in my previous blog posts about brand ethics and how consumers are getting tired of being obviously sold something. In the same vein, nothing sells less than knowing that behind the snazzy product or sleek website is a hollow company that effectively has no soul.
What do I mean by this? Well, people want to humanise brands to emotional engage with them. They want to know that the brand reflects their ideals, projected image and values. The easiest way to humanise a brand is to tell the reader a background story.
That is why so many adverts and promotional material now shy away from obviously promoting the benefits of their products, focussing instead on their core principles and how they reflect society’s values. Think about how adverts have changed from the ‘buy me now’ 1950’s poster to the ethereal embedded videos that now freestream on your Instagram or Facebook.
Paint me a picture
Some companies don’t market their product at all, but gamble on the fact that an abstract and engaging story will translate their brand idea and make it more memorable. For me, the undisputed UK maestros are the producers of John Lewis Christmas adverts. Each video never talks about what John Lewis does or sells, but always goes viral and becomes a staple annual discussion point around the Christmas table.
Getting people to truly engage with your brand without actually selling what you do is a very clever thing to achieve. People will always promote your brand when they want to share a great story, and will accept that part of sharing that story is also talking about your brand.
Like most things in life, branding has come full circle. Forward thinking Marketeers have realised that tapping into ancient traditions that stand the test of time, such as storytelling, is a sure fire way to get their audiences more engaged.
In the end, it’s quite ironic but also comforting to know that in our modern, digital world we engage the most with a brand when it lets us do what our ancestors did – share stories that speak to us and bring us closer.
Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.
Why ethical marketing is here to stay
Social responsibility, conscious capitalism and ethical marketing are all buzzing around the internet, are being pinged across email servers and are heatedly debated in meeting rooms around the world.
Why? because those who are paid to watch out for changes in market trends have already noticed that responsible business practices are much more than hipster fads or great searchable hashtags, they are part of a real shift in business behaviour that is in direct correlation with how our relationship with the planet is changing.
My fair lady
Ethical Marketing is a business philosophy that focuses on promoting fairness, honesty, and responsibility in an honest and valuable way. The idea is essentially that making a profit and doing something that is responsible for the surrounding environment doesn’t have to be at odds with one another.
In the past, charities, NGOs, and social enterprises would take the mantle and fight for our rights and protect our already damaged planet against the profit obsessed wheel. Now people are asking, how can we slowly change profit based companies to also care about social and environmental values? The answer is combining the two.
The very fact that modern marketing content now always involves showing the consumer that the company has ‘real values’ is a sign that ethical marketing is not just the cherry on the cake but is actually becoming the basic recipe for successful promotion.
If I were a rich man
Some may scoff and say just because companies are starting to promote ‘green’ or ‘corporate responsibility’ values doesn’t mean they have changed, they are still making a profit out of being ethical – but that is exactly the point! It would be well intentional but entirely naïve to expect the majority of companies to significantly reduce profit margins just to do ‘the right thing’.
We are living in pragmatic times, and we understand that you can’t dismantle such an ingrained economic model without getting a bit messy and revolutionary. But what you can do is improve it and make it more in line with human nature and in balance with the planet.
Marketing also has a boundless power to affect consumer choice and so ethical marketing promotes a product or idea as honestly as possible to avoid misleading the audience. Working under the banner of integrity, value and respect also feeds into a growing hunger among consumers and so is actually a smart business decision.
It’s been a long time coming
Marketers by nature always have their ear to the ground, and have heard the pitter patter of changing consumer values for some time. They know that people are saturated by information and are tired of being obviously sold something or taken for a ride. Consumers are also slowly but surely prioritising companies that give back and that affect the environment in a positive way or in the very least limit their negative impact.
Which is why ethical marketing isn’t just something to appease the recycling loving millennials, it is an idea that is practical, pragmatic and slowly transforms a profit margin obsessed company into a company that still hits its targets but is part of the system of change our planet and our societies so desperately need.
Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.
Following a series of unfortunate events, which I won’t go into here, we have decided to relocate. Bamboo has run from rented office space for over ten years now, and it’s never been as simple as it should be – Landlords take note, your tenants are NOT on-site maintenance staff, estate agents or fire marshals.
We decided to try some kind of co-working space instead. This would allow us to do be based where we wanted and hopefully cut costs and meet more like-minded people. Having viewed a few options, we decided that the Northern Quarter in Manchester was the place for us. It’s where we felt most comfortable, and it’s full of similar, exciting businesses.
We had heard of Ziferblat before, a strange, but simple concept ‘Everything is free inside; Except for the time you spend’, so we gave that a go. The principle is very simple, it looks and feels a bit like a cafe, except you server yourself. There are plenty of drinks – tea, coffee etc, and lots of snacks available – cake, biscuits, cereals, that kind of thing. The big difference is that all the food and drink is free, as well as the superfast WiFi, all you pay is eight pence a minute for the time you spend there.
The first time we tried it we were hooked, it is such a fun, cool place to work that nothing else came close, so after speaking to very friendly people who run it we signed up for a co-worker account which means we get unlimited access and get to use it as our postal address. Now the last bit might sound a bit odd, but in our industry location is everything (Google ‘web design Manchester’ to see what I mean), and this has allowed us to ‘relocate’ Bamboo to the Northern Quarter in Manchester, without moving anything physical and more importantly without signing any kind of lease.
So after ten years of being based in an office in Bury, Bamboo is now based in the Northern Quarter – and we love it!
Breaking Ads – Google Adwords Heisenberg Effect
Setting up a Google Ads campaign is exciting for any business, generally it’s the first time they’ve advertised their website online and the whole prospect seems a little nervy as well as being exciting. Everyone likes to see how the ads are performing and who else they are competing with. But if you do not search and analyse your ads the correct way, you can, and will affect your ads and search results.
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says:- You cannot measure observe something without changing that which you are measuring/observing.
As an example – If you have an ad campaign setup for ‘Your Search Term’ and you google your search term to see where your adverts are but do not click your advert then you have inadvertently affected your ads relevancy for ‘Your Search Term’ in a negative way.
It doesn’t stop there either. I have heard many times people ask me “will my competition click my ads?” and “If I click my competitions adverts will it raise their bill and waste their budget?” – Both of these approaches will damage your own google ad campaign and improve your competitions ad campaign.
How? If you search Google for ‘Your Search Term’ but click on your competitions adverts and not your own, you are inadvertently telling Google your competitions adverts are more relevant than your own. This will improve their ads relevance compared to yours which will make their adverts appear higher than your own, and also lower their cost per click.
What is Invalid Activity?
Invalid activity refers to clicks and impressions that Google suspect aren’t the result of genuine customer interest. Google don’t charge you for invalid activity on your ads and credit those ad click costs back to your account.
For Example – Invalid activity includes clicks and impressions performed by automated tools, as well as accidental clicks – for instance, if someone double clicks your ad.
If you want to track your ads and search results without receiving skewed results due to cookies and ip data then you need to use the Google tools that available in your ad account. The tools Google supply allow us to monitor and track your ads and Google positions the right way 🙂