I was lucky enough to be asked to speak to the Rotary eClub 5810 in Dallas, Texas. My topic was Grow Your Business with Digital Marketing: Web Sites to Social Media.
I know, I know, it covers a lot of ground in 25 minutes. I talk about everything from the fact that people don’t think you are a real business if you don’t have a web site, to why have a social media presence, which social media platforms are best for you, how often you should blog and post, and why content matters.
First things first, let me define what a Call to Action (CTA) is: asking someone to do something or to take an action. This is pretty simple. You can ask them to subscribe to your newsletter, download your eBook, call for a quote, subscribe to your blog, etc. Some CTAs actually ask for the sale! Through your Call to Action you get to connect with people who visit your web site and continue the conversation. The hope of course is to convert visitors to your site into customers.
What are some specific examples of CTAs: 1. Not every sale is made on the first visit to your site, but getting people to subscribe to your blog or your newsletter you get the opportunity to connect with them over and over again. On The PerfectFit site you can subscribe to their blog on every page of the web site.
2. Green Peridot wanted visitors to their site to be able to book an appointment directly from the site, ergo the Request Appointment Call to Action which allows people to connect with them without having to go to the next step of picking up the phone.
3. eCommerce sites are usually big users of Calls to Actions – notice on the Polychem Coatings site the Buy Now and Email Us buttons, both ways of connecting to their customers or potential customers and driving sales.
Addison Arbor Web Site Design
4. As every non-profit will tell you, the most important thing is to have people support them. Addison Arbor has a Donate Call to Action on every page.
Why Should You Have a Call to Action on Your Site:
That is simple. CTAs help you generate sales and generate leads. Obviously a button that says “Buy Now” helps increase sales. A button that says request a quote might push someone to get a quote, that quote could lead to your next sale! People who go to your site want to have an easy way to take the next step – an easy way to book their appointment, to continue to receive information.
A Call to Action can “push” someone to donate immediately to your great cause, or to buy your product. A CTA won’t guarantee more sales, but it definitely won’t hurt them!
When breaking news happens where do you find it? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Social Media has changed the face of the newsroom and the way all businesses well, do business. Traditional news media often learn about events from Twitter. Businesses make major announcements on Social Media, Twitter announced their IPO on Twitter!
I had the opportunity to listen to Ron Corning of WFAA (the local Dallas, Texas ABC affiliate) speak about this very topic. Now news anchors often hear that the news they deliver is old – I saw that on Facebook yesterday! The one thing our daily broadcaster can bring is the sense of community and bringing it all together in one place. Mr. Corning not only brings local and national stories, but through his outreach helps provide free colonoscopies to the uninsured.
Social media can provide you with the joy of being the first to know the story, often before your local news station has even learned about the story. When US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson the first reports were not from a traditional reporter, they were found on Twitter. And the “iconic” photo – it was taken with an iPhone by a bystander and posted on Twitter.
When Osama bin Laden was captured the entire event was live tweeted – quite by accident – by Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) and later picked up by the media. It was a watershed moment. A secret attack closely followed on Twitter.
The Boston Marathon bombing, while obviously there were reporters on scene, the story unfolded on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. Right down to the announcement that the Boston Police had captured the bombing suspect, you guessed it, on Twitter.
And now Twitter is flooded with details from the Sochi Games about hotel rooms not quite ready for prime time…. It appears that the one thing that is working is social media!
Now how does this relate to your business you ask? The first thing many people do in the morning is check their social media accounts. How can you as a business ignore the place your customers go to first thing in the morning and the last thing at they do before they go to sleep? Marketers have always said you need to be where your clients are, and your clients are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Okay, so you can’t be on every social media platform, I get it. You need to “pick your battles”. You just can’t ignore social media. When you started your business you got business cards, then you “finally” got a web site. Now you have to do social media. Who can forget how Oreo capitalized on social media when the lights went out at the Superdome last year during the “big game”. Yet another watershed moment.
You need to be where the breaking news is happening. Or better yet, you need to be the breaking news!
Geotagging – once again a hot topic in the mobile arena. Geotags add GPS coordinates to your photos along with a myriad of other information. This means that all of your photos have a tag that can tell everyone (with the click of a mouse) where that photo was taken within 15 feet. Which is why everyone is concerned about geotagging. Again. Everyone should be concerned about geotagging. I turned location services off on my camera over a year ago, it is really simple to do on most smartphones.
The reason you want to turn off geotagging is that while all that information is really cool when you go back years later to view your vacation pictures, when an unsavory type is tracking your child on the Internet you don’t want them to easily find where you take every picture of your child (right down to the school, or the bedroom of your house).
While some experts suggest turning off your phones GPS I think that is extreme. Once your GPS is off your maps don’t work, and I find that the maps come in very, very handy when I’m lost. Also, without the GPS turned on Find My Phone becomes inoperable. I think it is better to turn off the geotagging on your camera and on any other apps that you don’t want to use geotagging.
So how do you turn off geotagging? Well this depends on your phone. If you have an iPhone go to Settings – Privacy – Locations Services and then Turn your Camera to Off. If you have an app like Camera! you might want to turn it off as well.
If you have a an Android or Blackberry you can check out this awesome video by CNet! If you have a Windows 8 phone check out these directions. For other phone models, just check Google – Google can help you find anything!
ribit took our cue from Apple and Jonathan Ive and their new iOS 7 design. We have moved away from using a skeuomorphic design to one that simply reflects ribit’s desire to make the web easy to use and beautiful. It is all about simplicity, starting with our redesigned logo. She is still a frog, and yes she is still a girl frog, just in a simpler form.
And our new site, as you can see, is cleaner, faster, easier to navigate and yes – responsive! Our mobile site is very clean, and looks almost identical to our desktop version. It is quick to load (yes Google, we heard you talk about load times) and we worked hard to make sure that everything was optimized.
In keeping with our new theme of simplicity we utilized off-canvas navigation on the mobile version of our site. We thought this was a bit more interesting than the traditional menus and we also get a bit more creative with our site. Now we can give our clients choices!
The other thing we implemented with this site was making the social media icons a bit more prominent. We hope this means that you will share our posts more. Now that our new site is up I plan on blogging a bit more, so come back often.
Wander through the site, check it out on your smartphone and let us know what you think!
We get a lot of people asking if they should mobilize their web sites these days and I have to say that our answer is a resounding YES! Having your site mobilized is imperative. You need your site to work everywhere your clients are.
When it comes to mobilizing your site you have choices – you can decide to create a .mobi site. This is a stand-alone site that is created just for smartphone users. You can create an app (once again a separate entity). Or you can create your site using responsive design.
ribit creates their sites using responsive design for several reasons. First and foremost you only have one site to maintain. If you decide to develop a .mobi site or an app, when you make changes to your main web site you will also need to make changes to the .mobil site / app for consistency. We find it is much simpler to have one database to deal with, and the ability to keep the integrity of the design. Yes it can be technically challenging, but that is what makes life fun!
But can you make the site have a responsive design, have cool features and be visually appealing? Of course you can. I have three very different examples. First Addison Arbor Foundation. They came to us needing a site with a calendar, eCommerce and a blog that would highlight their mission to promote and enhance a sustainable, natural environment in Addison. The site need to look equally as good on desktops, smartphones and tablets. We designed a responsive site using WordPress.
As you can see the site looks the same (yet different). While the interface changes to accommodate the mobile environment, the design is not lost and all their features (calendar, etc.) still function perfectly.
My second example is The PerfectFit. They wanted a visually clean site, easy to navigate and they wanted to highlight their blog – hence the blog slider on the home page. Now you might think it would be difficult to make that feature translate to mobile, with a little finesse we were able to implement the blog slider on all platforms!
There are more differences between the visual “look” of The PerfectFit layouts on desktop vs. smartphone vs. tablet than on some of our other designs. ribit decided to make the navigation completely accessible on the tablet version while still highlighting the blog slider on the tablet version rather than use a drop down. This functionality is easy for the user (touch vs. drop down) while still visually appealing.
The final example is The Green Chemical Store who came to us wanting to have a site that highlights their products in a catalog, allows you to easily contact them with questions about their industry and of course, have a blog. The final result works on both the desktop and on mobile devices.
I’m celebrating Social Media Day today at DFW Rocks Social Media speaking about Video for the DIY. It is a really fun topic since I am definitely a do-it-myself kind of person! I like to use my iPhone, my laptop (I have a MacBook Air) and my desktop (an iMac). You can, of course do video on a Windows PC, I just prefer a Mac.
I do my video blogs using my built-in iSight on my desktop computer, edit it in iMove and upload it to YouTube. For today’s event I used my iPhone to interview a few people using FLIMIC Pro ($3.99) which not only lets you shoot awesome video, it lets you upload directly to YouTube, Facebook,Vimeo, Tumblr, Dropbox, or FTP the video.
I like uploading the video to Dropbox so I can edit the video in iMovie. In a live 30 minute presentation you don’t get to do a lot of editing (especially if you want time to take questions)! Once the video looks great you save it and upload the video to YouTube. When it is on your YouTube channel you can easily embed it in your WordPress blog (or any html page) using either the embed code which YouTube provides or you can use one of the many YouTube plugins. I use the Artiss YouTube plugin, but there are many you can choose from.
Yes, I’ve taken the leap into video marketing. After working with many of my clients to make and post videos on their web sites, I’ve finally taken my own advice and made one for ribit. So I hope you enjoy this one minute video explaining the advantages of leaping into video marketing.
Finally, a day for frogs, leap day! So here I am with seven marketing tips on how to grow your business, or as I like to say: whether its online or offline great marketing can help your business leap off the page and into your customers hearts and minds.
As we all know, being memorable is half the battle. Potential clients can’t call you if they don’t remember you! So how do you leap into the hearts and minds of your customers, read on:
1. A great logo – No matter what you do you need a logo that will grab attention, that people will remember. Okay, I admit naming a company ribit is going to make that easier and the whimsical frog is something no one forgets, but a good strong logo is memorable.
2. An awesome business card – This is often the first face of your business. People still want to have that paper card to associate with you. I met someone two weeks ago whose office went “green” and they don’t have cards, of course I can’t tell you his name…. Fast Company did a great article on Moo.com about the business cards they are printing using Facebook cover photos on side and your contact info on the other (and boy are they busy)! Be sure to have not just your name address and phone number, but links to your social media pages so people can “follow you” on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
3. Consistent branding – Okay, you have a great logo and an awesome card, but you need to make sure that your branding is consistent. You need to be sure your business card, brochures, web site all have the same look and feel. That you have consistent messaging, that all marketing materials appear to come from one company. Look at Apple, Inc., whether you see a product, their web site, their packaging, etc. it all “looks” like Apple. They have consistent branding.
4. Content marketing – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, content is king. Content needs to be relevant and it needs to be applicable to your audience. Yes, you need to know who your audience is and speak directly to them. In the print version of the article on Stripe (a PayPal competitor), Businessweek used the secondary headline “Using Stripe is almost as easy as embedding a YouTube video”. So why is that a problem, well a web developer knows this is easy, for the basic Businessweek reader, not so much – they might not even read the article. So you need good content and you need to know your audience.
5. WordPress web site – Using a WordPress web site will make it easier to update, easier to blog and will allow you to get awesome SEO. And yes, you can make it look any way you want it. We always design custom templates for our clients (you know blank screen, starting with Photoshop vs. purchasing a template from a one the many companies that sells them online). So yes, you can get custom design and WordPress and get all the great functionality and a fabulous web site. Our site is a WordPress site and it definitely does not look like a “standard” WordPress site!
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Now you have your really awesome WordPress site, you’ve started to blog, you have great content. Now you want the world to find you, now it is time for SEO. You add your SEO plugin of your choice (I like the All in One SEO Pack) to your site and get started. It is imperative to have good meta descriptions, key words (including long tail key search terms) and that you make use of all the opportunities to make your site easier for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines to find you when potential clients are looking for you.
7. Social media – There is not a better way to drive traffic to your site and build business than social media. You can engage with potential clients on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest (the latest and greatest of social sites) and a myriad of other sites like www.whosay.com (if you are an actor, musician, writer, athlete, etc. you should be on whosay). I know you are thinking just one more way to “waste” time, but with a few tricks of the trade you can be efficient and you will grow your business. I have not only grown my business (yes, I have actually gotten clients from Twitter!)I have made great friends from social media as well. One of those friends can even help you with your social media! Check out my friend Lissa Duty’s blog Have you taken the Social Media LEAP? on how social media can grow your business!
So if you want to make this a memorial leap day, remember the tips above when you are developing your marketing plans. Seven little tips that will help you “leap into your customers hearts and minds”. Being memorable is half the battle, to have your company remembered when it comes time to make a purchase. Good luck and enjoy today, it won’t come around for another four years. So what are you going to do today to make your company leap into success? Let me know before another four years slips by….
I spent this past weekend at TEDxSMU. To get to attend the live event you have to apply (okay no big deal), fill out a form (name, address), answer the essay question (ANSWER THE ESSAY QUESTION!?!). I haven’t answered an essay question in oh, since college. Oh, and 130 people are going to be selected. No pressure there…
So I filled out the form, wrote my essay and waited to receive the email that says “TEDxSMU invites you to TEDxSMU 2011: Disruption”. Woo Hoo! I’m in. I click to attend (you have to go through Eventbrite to pay) – ah, another TED test. You have 15 minutes to finalize your registration, including choosing three icebreakers (words or short phrases). Yikes, who knew just registering would be so challenging!
Okay, I finally make it to The Dee & Charles Wyly Theatre (where it was held). An amazing group of people; everyone is friendly. I run into people I know almost immediately. We head in and I am lucky enough to get one of the coveted FatBoy beanbag seats right up front and the show begins.
Absolutely amazing speakers. I can’t mention them all but a couple stood out for me – Elise Ballard, Peter Brown and Kate Canales from frog (okay, okay – the girl from ribit liked the speaker from frog – get the amphibian jokes out of the way now…).
Elise talked about her journey to start what became her book: epiphany True Stories of Sudden Insight. She started with an epiphany of her own that changed her life and then she began asking others if they had ever had an epiphany. She then began taping people’s stories and before you know it she had a book, a web site and a new career.
Peter Brown, of Peter Brown Architects took us on a journey through the design of Dallas, Texas. Having grown up here in Dallas (yes, I’m a native Dallasite!) it was a trip down memory lane, as Peter showed postcards of my past – hotels with “modern features”, Neiman Marcusfortnights (does anyone remember fortnights – where Stanley Marcus traveled to far away countries like Japan and turned his stores into a foreign land for a week, where we could taste the food and see the culture…), and the foresight of Raymond Nasher, who built Northpark in 1965 as the largest climate controlled mall in the world. Nasher built the mall with an eye to design as anyone who has been there can tell you, from the art sculptures inside and out. Which all led up to Peter showing us the latest school he designed, the Hector Garcia Middle School. It is gorgeous and still qualifies as a LEED certified building.
And then there was Kate Canales from frog. Kate spoke to us about interesting things she has seen and just had to take pictures of: like the restroom with a sign to the left of the door that said Women’s, a sign on the door said Women’s Room and then someone had taped a piece of paper on it that say Women Only. As Kate said, you wonder what happened to prompt the handwritten sign…. She also showed us a sign she found while looking for someplace to hang some of her clothing in a hotel she was staying in. The sign said (and I am paraphrasing) ‘Do Not Hang Anything on Sprinkler Head. It Will Break and Cause Flooding.’ Kate suggested that if they had spent money on adding hooks people could hang clothes on, rather than signs…. Some designs solutions are just so simple they have to be overlooked!
We learned about many other things: helping to teach children in underserved countries by teaching them where they are, not by trying to get them to schools. That if we use lignin to produce plastic bags, it will cost the same, but they will biodegrade in 150 days and still cost the same as traditional plastic bags! Not to mention how Chef Homaro Cantu took us on a “flavor tripping” experience where he made bitter dark chocolate sweet and lemons less sour!
Going to TEDxSMU was an awesome and inspiring experience. I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to the videos of the event being available on the TEDxSMU web site so I can go back and see if I missed anything!
If you get the chance to go to a TEDx event, go. You will meet awesome people, learn valuable lessons. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to do down front, sitting in a FatBoy!