Social media – failure is an essential ingredient of success

No one is immune from failure on Social Media – the great thing is to learn from failures and to communicate that to you colleagues.

A lot of Social Media is about experimenting, measuring, adapting and moving on. Usually there is no one solution just some basic rules.

4 things I learned about social media from 4 years at SmartBrief SmartBlogs.

What does Google Bounce Rate mean?

Many of my clients puzzle over the bounce rate quite often for the wrong reason.

The definition of a bounce

If a user lands on a page – i.e. it’s the first page they see on you website – and then leaves to a different website; presses the back button or just does nothing, they are deemed to have bounced.

The definition of an exit

If a user lands on a page and came from another page within your website and then leaves to a different website, they are deemed to have exited.

bounce

What does this mean?

Many of the clients I work with probably want a high bounce because the searcher has found what they are looking for an left the page.

  • A phone number
  • An opening time
  • An email address

So it depends a lot on the nature and objective of the website.

I have one client who publishes articles to get the user to his site so that they will move onto other parts – there a high bounce rate is bad news.

So if for certain pages your bounce and exit rate are high then there maybe something wrong – unless that page is a destination page then it’s a result.

See Kissmetic Bounce Rate Demystified really good infographic

Email still tops social media for online marketing

Over the past couple of years, in a world drenched with talk about the communicative power of social networks, one can be forgiven for thinking email is as passe as phone booths. Yet, a new study finds that email continues to trump social media channels for reaching online customers and markets.

Good old-fashioned email — a medium tainted and polluted with all manner of online pharmacy scams, Nigerian oil fortune hoaxes, and phishing galore; considered a daily time sink — is still providing the biggest bang for the buck for organizations seeking to reach and maintain high-value customers.  That’s the finding of a new study from Custora, which estimates that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last four years:

See full article Email still tops social media for online marketing, study says | SmartPlanet.

also see

E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot.

via Email still tops social media for online marketing.

What does your business need? To develop Mobile Web or Native Mobile App?

Here are some key considerations when choosing to develop either for mobile web or a native mobile app:

  • Platform Integration: Does your content need to be integrated with other native mobile apps on the device—such as email, cameras, contact lists or other hardware controls? – Then you need a native mobile app.
  • Usage Location: Does data in your app needs to be accessed without Internet access? Then you need a native mobile app.
  • Cost and Availability of Resources: Do you have a small budget?
    Mobile web app requires standard web technologies.
    Native mobile apps require greater expertise in various SDKs and specialized languages.
  • Speed to Market: How quickly are you trying to launch your app?
    Mobile Web apps can be launched without delay; bugs can be fixed instantly; data can be provided as required.
    Native mobile apps require a review process, which can take weeks and there can be content issues imposed by the  App stores. Bugs also take longer to fix and update.
  • Does your target market have access to app devices?: To launch and app you need to develop for iPhone and Android and of course this leaves Blackberry and all those older mobiles that will not have access.

The choice comes down to your company’s business objectives and how you want your customers to engage with your company and its content. Don’t forget your customer is the most important target—not the device comes next.

How to organising and structuring your blog content

Topic and Title
As ideas for blog posts pop into your mind, jot them down. You can come back later and expand it into a full title.

Look at products like Content Idea Generator where you can expand a theme and idea

Body Content 
Add some notes about the body content and the key point you want to say. This is especially useful if you have multiple bloggers in your company. It is essential that the content is connected to the title, is concise and to the point. Be engaging and interesting as possible.

Keywords
Suggest what  keyword or key phrases you are targeting with this post. Blogging plays a major role in driving specific web traffic to your website. Integrate the keywords your company is trying to rank for into your blog posts.

Audience
You know who you want to sell to, but you also need to be sure you’re publishing content targeted to them. Try not to post content  for the sake of it. Make sure each post is something that your target audience will want to read and follow through with.

Call to Action 
Make sure there is a clear call to action that encourages the user to move off social media on into your website. Think about what action you would like the user to do when on your website – so the path of the user is clear.

4 Golden rules to maximize the conversion of your landing pages

These rules apply across the online board when coming from email or social media to your website

  1. Take your reader to a page they would expect to see based on the context of the link. If you don’t have a page to take them to then build one or change the message.
  2. Keep the path to checkout as short and as simple as possible. The longer the path (the more clicks and questions) the less likely user is to complete.
  3. Tell a continuous story so that the user is compelled to move forward. A good story answers questions in a timely fashion, keeps the user engaged and minimises resistance to the final call to action.
  4. Lastly do not be tempted to distract the user with other messages and actions – keep your landing page focused.

iPad Mini and the adaptive design issues involved

The iPad mini has arrived in time for Christmas and it is going to be hot (have you seen one?). This is going to add all sorts of new issues into the boiling pot for web designers around the world because the most popular task done on an iPad is browsing the web and you can bet that will be what the mini iPad will be used for. On top of this there is the new Kindle HD – which is basically a tablet – and the Google Nexus 7.

These devices are sporting a new screen size not as big as the iPad and not as small as a mobile but different enough to make the marketing department stop and think.

The aim of every serious player on the web is you need to be adaptive and meet demands of visitors using any device. If you run a website whose revenues are directly linked to the quality of the experience they provide to customers (i.e. e-commerce, multi-channel retailers or media companies) then you must be adaptive and you must starting now.

The iPad mini may be the device that tips the market. A standard desktop site just won’t work acceptably on a 7in iPad Mini screen. A 12px font will be unreadable; normal buttons will not be clickable and clumsy and form inputs will drive people mad with frustration.

So here is a check list

  • Make your text bigger and more readability, we suggest at least 14 px.
  • Add more padding – increase padding and line-height of densely improves touch accuracy. Pay special attention to form elements such as dropdowns, picklists, checkboxes etc.
  • Design flexibility – use design elements that can move around and adapt to the full range of tablet screen sizes – from 600px to 1000px wide.
  • Remove fixing page widths.
  • Remove all mouse hover interactions.
  • Avoid “position: fixed” design elements – they slow down rendering.
  • Cut down on HTTP requests as this will slow performance. Think about all those links to Facebook, Twitter and Google + that will add more load and slow everything down.
  • Optimize your images – you should be doing this anyway. Many of these tablets have (or will have) fantastic high-definition displays but do not be tempted to deliver high quality image as default it will reduce the user experience. Serve the right quality images when requested.
  • Optimize scripts and styles – keep them as compact as possible.

So now is the time to move to responsive and adaptive designs and keep ahead in the market.

The trade off between SEO and Website Usability

A site without serious Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is either for personal use or is so big that people use it by default (like Google and Facebook). Good SEO helps search engines to understand what your site and its pages are about and which elements are more important. But there is a snag because a site written purely for search engines will have poor usability. Search engines are not humans, they are simple beasts not needing structured sentences, navigation in the right place and images.

SEO is what every site needs before a user gets to a site; Usability is what is needed once the user has arrived. There is a fine balance with a trade off between SEO and usability. In the struggle SEO needs to win because is a user never gets to a website in the first place then it doesn’t matter how usable it is. On the other hand when the user arrives on a site we want them to easily find what they are looking for, stay and return. Search engines are now using popularity as a measure of ranking so the experience the user has on site bringing them back is important.

Other methods are available to get people to your website – social media, newsletters and link building – but not be fooled the vast majority of websites are found by using search engines and this is where most of your budget needs to be spent.

What does Google see on page?

To get an idea what a search engine like Google sees when it looks at your site take the following steps.

  1. Enter site:www.yoursitename.com into the Google search box
  2. Hover to the right of a listing and you will see a double chevron which generates a preview of that page.
  3. At the top of the preview you will see the Cached click on it.
  4. This opens the cached version that Google is actually looking at and at the top it tells you when it cached it.
  5. In the top grey box to the top right you will see Text-only version click on it.

This is the text only version that Google is actually seeing – ignoring the layout and images – and showing tags as they are actually expressed ignoring style sheets. This can come as a big surprise and you will quickly see how well your pages are really constructed.

What are the common on page mistakes?

  1. Missing key header tags <h1> <h2> <h3>. Many modern sites use style sheets for everything, which is good but often at the expense of key search engine tags. Make sure your designer is using these header tags.
  2. Over use of <h1> <h2> <h3>. Some designers realise that header tags are needed but then over use them on the wrong parts of the site. Take control and make sure header tags are used sparingly on the right content.
  3. Repeated content. Poorly designed repeated page to page content can make every page on a site look the same. For example many sites now have a common navigation across all pages. This loads the page with large amounts of content that is the same across the site. It also pushes key content down the page reducing its significance. To solve this move common navigation in javascript blocks so they are loaded with the page but hidden from the search engine.
  4. Key content too far down the page. The higher up the page (as seen in text mode) key content is the better – it raises its significance.

As always there is more to just building a website and it is always worth considering how a search engines see your website balanced with how the user sees it.

Monitoring your reputation online – using Google Alerts Tips and Tricks

Google Alerts is a fantastic tool for monitoring the vast amount of online content – you can set it up and then just leave it to work on your behalf.

First you need a Google Alert account but then it is part of your Google account – if you look under “More” and then “Even More” it comes under “Specialised Search” (look down the page).

Monitor a name, client, product or competitor

The first thing you will want to do is monitor your name, your company or client’s name, product, or possibly a branded term. Enter the query expression into the “search query” field, leave the result type set to “everything” and then fill out the rest of the form to create an alert.

You will notice that I have put My Product in quotes this means it will look for that expression.

Leave the rest as default and create the alert – so pretty easy to see who is mentioning your product online.

You can extent this to a whole sentence if you are trying to follow plagiarists or very specific content.

Want to be more precise?

You can get more sophisticated then there are a range of tricks available

  • Use minus sign “-“ to ignore context. If you wish to ignore all comments related to “tennis”  then “Murray –tennis” would do it
  • Use minus sign “-“ to ignore websites. If you wish to ignore all comments related to “twitter”  then Murray –site:www.twitter.com  would do it.
  • Look for word variations. If you want to search for variations then “Murray” OR “Murrey” would look for both spellings.
  • You can also use AND expressions so to look for Andy Murray at the Olympics you could do the following “Andy Murray” AND “Olympic”

Watch for links

If you want to keep an eye on back links to your website then in the query box put  link:http://www.myWebsite.com  You can use this to monitor any link – clients, competitors etc.

Keeping it to a specific website

Because Google Alerts is basically running a Google search you can use it to watch just for content within specific websites. This is especially good for targeting competitor sites or specific news sites. In the search query box enter: “I’m looking for” site:http//www.yourMonitorSite.com. 
This technique is also a great way to monitor listings sites – Ebay, Gumtree – if you are looking for specific items when they are posted you get emailed an alert.

Keeping an eye on news

Google has a News section on its main search you can use this in your alert if you want to monitor news specifically – so make sure that you have “news” selected from the “result type” dropdown menu. You can add a location to this query – but this can be a little un-reliable. To do this add word location: (the colon is important) and then the country you want to monitor eg. UK,   India, Canada etc. I find Google tends to be a bit US biased on it News sites.

Google Alerts is a great tool that is much under used, you can have up to 1000 alerts a one time so it should keep you busy.

What is it about Social Media and Small Businesses?

Social has gone mobile in a big way with constant connectivity – via apps, mobile phones, tablets – at home, on the move and in the car.

According to Nielson research, nearly 70% of smartphone owners use their phone while watching television (it’s so annoying); over 50% go to bed with their phone (under the pillow); almost 60% are on the phone while in the presence of friends and family (look at me when you are talking); just under 60% use it while shopping; 47% while commuting and 23% during business meetings or class (give me that phone).
If this isn’t enough the same survey found that 28% of bathroom breaks may involve a mobile device!

Marketing is beginning to blur the lines between advertising and service, relationships and reputation, experience and outcomes as consumers interact with one another and businesses on a constant basis.
Like many disruptive technologies, those business owners that build on this trend and obtain a significant slice of this consumer base will reap long term rewards. Those that hesitate and lag behind may find it more and more difficult to catch up.

Savvy small business owners don’t have to tackle all the complexities of mobile marketing today; it is sufficient to create a compelling site capable of meeting the needs of consumers in today’s platform. One of the benefits of outsourcing your social media marketing is the ability to grow with demand – have a team of experts at a fraction of the cost required to hire a full-time member of staff.

Just remember, the mobile marketing of today is tomorrow’s connected consumer.