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Blog posts tagged website design

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How online images can dramatically improve customer engagement

April 05, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

How online images can dramatically improve customer engagement{{}}The way businesses and customers interact is changing - and graphics, photographs and videos are making a bigger impact on consumers than ever.

If you are launching a campaign, looking to strengthen your marketing materials or raise brand engagement, you should consider whether you are making the best use of visual marketing methods. If you want to get a great return on your advertising, it might be time to up your game with visual-based marketing content.

Today's brands, big and small, are faced with the challenge of appealing to easily distracted viewers. Many consumers will look at an advert or web page for just a few seconds before moving on - if you don't capture their attention right away, you could lose their interest for good.

To build a loyal and engaged client base, pick your images carefully. That image is likely to be remembered and perhaps even shared by viewers. Studies show that we remember 10% of written information, on average, but when illustrated with a strong image information retention rises to 65%. An image helps to connect your audience with your message, and will strengthen your brand moving forward.

Marketing methods: visual versus textual

Many social media campaigns use image-based platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and even Tumblr to showcase their products; and the use of well-designed graphics can really enhance these marketing efforts. Studies have shown that for 80% of consumers, bright visuals are more attractive and lead to more conversions than text-based or simple image posts.

We've seen a dramatic rise in consumer engagement when presenting information in a visual style rather than as a textual piece. Employing a graphic designer to help with your campaign could also make a huge difference.

A recent Superbowl advert released through Snapchat by Gatorade received over one million views in its first 24 hours. This is similar to the audience reached by TV ads during the game - but the cost is significantly lower.

Businesses can make big savings on marketing while reaching the same audience - and online ads can be watched again and shared, increasing reach.

Brand relevance and image engagement

Adverts and marketing pieces that are accompanied by a relevant and appealing image are 94% more likely to be viewed, according to recent research. This means that the right image is more eye-catching than a headline and is the key to getting noticed.

Studies suggest that people are more likely to respond to pictures they can relate to, so images of people are usually effective. But graphics are also important as they can deliver a lot of information in a simple format.

You also need to understand your audience when choosing images. Instagram, for instance, has a young following that like bold, bright images; short clips and infographics also perform well in this environment. Facebook has a much broader market, with only 33% of users in the under-30 age bracket. On this platform, strong visual content works best when it’s accompanied by word-based content.

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Copyright © 2016 Swapnil Kulkarni, Marketing Analyst at VoucherBin.co.uk. He understands business objectives, and tries to stay informed on market trends and implement right practices by using web analytics and market research tools.

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Five key design elements of an online shop

March 14, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

Five key design elements of an online shop{{}}Ecommerce is getting more competitive. If a visitor comes to your online shop and doesn't like the look of it or finds something that doesn't work, they'll be just a click away from one of your competitors.

In short, getting the design elements right in your online shop plays a key part in keeping your customers on your website and encouraging them to buy.

Keep your content slider clean

A couple of years ago, having large header pictures at the top of every page was a standard look on many ecommerce websites. Today, this is considered a waste of space. Instead, present your top products using a content slider. Don't overload it with graphical elements and text; keep it clean and ensure there is a clear call to action (CTA).

Don't use a welcome text

Welcome text at the top of your home page might seem like a nice way to engage with your customers and add a personal touch but it takes away valuable space which you could use for prominently placing products or special offers.

Our recommendation is to skip the welcome text and add a call to action image or a special offer to lead your customers where you want them to go. If you want to have SEO-optimised text on your home page, place this at the bottom.

Write individual and unique product descriptions

Often, shop owners settle for describing their products with one or two basic sentences or, even worse, by just copying the original product description of the manufacturer.

Not only does this negatively affect your Google ranking but it also sends the wrong message to your customers. Take time to write your own unique product descriptions that are easy to read and show your customers that you know your products well.

Avoid using clichéd stock shots

Your website is the main face of your business but you don't want to have the same appearance as your online competitors. So stay away from standard stock photos and try taking pictures of your own products.

Authenticity and personality are more important than ever. Show your customers what makes your shop unique. If you are not able to produce your own pictures, take some time to look for stock pictures that fit your shop perfectly.

Focus on one font

Have you painted your living room in ten different colours? If not, why should your online shop have ten different fonts? A lack of design integrity gives your website a chaotic and amateur look. Choose your own corporate design and focus on one main font for your headlines and another one for product descriptions.

Copyright © 2016 Richard Stevenson, Head of Global PR, ePages.

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Three ways to find out if your website is harming your business

September 08, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Three ways to find out if your website is harming your business{{}}

It’s an easy mistake to make.

You publish your shiny new website. You wait for the orders to flood in. Then… nothing happens.

It can be really frustrating, especially if you’re a new business.

But why is this? Your website looks great. Your friends and family all agree it looks amazing. But that doesn’t seem to cut any ice with the people who really matter — your customers.

So what is the solution? How do you turn things around without breaking the bank?

Your website needs to perform only three tasks

All you need to do is to focus on three basic functions: prospect, convert and grow.

It’s that simple. Let’s examine them in more detail.

Prospect

All we mean here is that you can attract visitors to your website. Sure, you need to put in some effort, but it is not difficult.

I have analysed thousands of websites and I see the same mistakes. Fix these and you are halfway there.

The most common is the wrong choice of keywords. Once you’ve chosen the best keywords for your business, you need to include them in the metatags, in the URLs, in the text links between pages and in the text of your website itself.

Also, set up a blog. The evidence is overwhelming — websites with a blog do better than those that don’t. Why? Google loves content.

Convert

You’re getting a steady stream of visitors. But you’re not there to greet them.

The next best thing? Create trust. Here’s how…

Don’t say “welcome to our website”. Give them a promise. Think of your customer’s biggest need and tell them how you will address it.

But why should they believe your claims? Use customer testimonials to sell for you. If you ask for them you’ll be surprised.

Add live chat to your site and you’ll be amazed. It’s fast, it’s instant and it gets results.

Offer something for free. Remember your promise to solve the biggest need of your customers? Create a report that solves that issue. Offer it in return for their contact details and you can follow up with them. This can be automated very easily.

People rarely make their minds up instantly, but they now see you as an expert and you are pushing at an open door.

Grow

Now you either have a customer or someone who is on your emailing list. Now you can build that relationship with them.

Remember your blog? This is where you can develop that long-term relationship with them. Keep them up-to-date with developments by email and regular correspondence and you will reap the rewards.

And finally…

Many people get disillusioned with online marketing but it is a vital part of being in business these days. The important point is to think about the purpose of your website and just repeat these three words to stay on track: Prospect, convert, grow.

Copyright © 2014 Tony Messer, founder of www.pickaweb.co.uk and author of The Lazy Website Syndrome.

What is responsive design and do I need it?

May 07, 2014 by Sarah Orchard

What is responsive design and do I need it?/responsive web design word on slate{{}}There is no doubt about it, the unrelenting rise of the smartphone and tablet cannot be ignored. Your customers are constantly on the go and being able to access their life in the palm of their hand makes it all a bit easier.

But does your website do the same for them? Have you tried to undertake your main customer website activities on a smartphone or tablet? Was it as easy as on a desktop device?

For many businesses, the answer is simply “no”.

Smartphone proliferation

A recent article by eMarketer indicated that in 2012 the global smartphone audience surpassed the one billion mark and will reach 1.75 billion in 2014 and continue to rise.

By 2017, smartphone penetration among mobile phone users globally is likely to be approximately 50%. Recent Deloitte research stated that the number of smartphone users in the UK has reached 72% — that means that seven out of ten of your customers may be viewing your website on a smartphone.

Will they like what they see? And how do you know whether mobile customers are important to your business?

If you look at your Google Analytics data you will see the constant rise of your mobile device visitor (you do check your GA reports, don’t you?). I’m certainly seeing this pattern across the website stats for many of my clients. Some business sectors are seeing larger shifts to mobile device visitors than others but I can assure you that every business is seeing these percentages on the up.

The case for responsive design

If you have a website that has a transactional element to it — so your user needs to complete a purchase or a task, like registration or sign up — then I think you need to consider developing a responsive design website. This is the gold standard in mobile web and means that no matter what device is used to access your site it will shrink and adjust how it displays content, making the user experience easy and enjoyable.

If yours is a brochure-style website, you can probably get away with what you have for the moment. However, I would highly recommend you test it on tablets and smartphone devices to see how it renders and if it is still usable. I have seen some absolute shockers in terms of what can happen to your beautiful website when viewed on a smartphone! If it’s unusable for your customer you are risking losing out on business.

Should I get a mobile app?

I would recommend a responsive design website as a minimum and then consider if any part of your customer journey is suitable for translating into an app. Apps have many advantages — generally they do not need an internet connection, the user interface can be streamlined, and you can focus the customer on the task in hand.

But be careful not to get drawn into developing an app simply for the sake of it. You don’t necessarily need one, they’re not cheap (around £5,000 upwards) and they have ongoing development costs, so it isn’t a one-off investment.

As with all marketing tools, it depends on your target audience. Find out first how your customers behave online — are they increasingly accessing your site via their mobile devices. This should drive your decision to develop a more mobile/tablet-friendly online presence to aid website conversion and sales growth.

Sarah Orchard is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a consultant at Orchard Marketing Associates.

Further reading


Want a brilliant website? Ten things you need to consider

March 13, 2014 by Sonja Jefferson

Want a brilliant website? Ten things you need to consider/WWW written in search bar{{}}If you get your website right you will win more business — that’s the reality of promoting and selling pretty much anything today.

That’s all well and good I hear you say, but exactly how do you go about creating the right website — one that really works for your business?

Having worked on over one hundred web projects for service firms in the past few years, here are the top ten things we’ve learned. I hope they give you some ideas if, like us, you are redoing your own site in the coming year.

1. Think content first — before you get the designers in

If you want a successful website, you’ll need put as much time and effort into planning it as your designer spends on building it. Great design has never mattered more but don’t launch straight into it.

2. Choose a web designer with an active social media presence

By hiring a web designer or developer with a strong digital presence — someone who creates great content for their own business — you can be sure that they understand how to get your site right.

3. Involve your clients in the development

If you want to create a site that really engages prospective clients look at what you do from the outside in. See your business through their eyes by asking your clients for feedback. 

4. Give your website a strong story

Your story is a golden thread that runs through all your content and illuminates what you do. Get this right and the rest of the content will flow. Hiut Denim’s website, the super-strong message from Finisterre and B2B firm Desynit are all great examples.

5. Create a valuable online resource for visitors.

Good websites are also packed with helpful and inspiring content. In fact, when it comes to the helpful stuff vs. sales information, try following the 80/20 rule of content.

6. Provide content for every step of the sale

Effective websites equip the visitor with the information they need at every step of the sales process — from browsing and researching to just about to buy. Think through what your buyers need throughout the journey to becoming a loyal client.

7.Remember — relevance is all

It’s neat to be niche when it comes to the web. Whether you focus on one or many niches, the trick is to serve up relevant content that meets the needs of each sector.

8. A working website doesn’t stand alone

Your website is plugged into a much wider lead generation and lead nurturing system. It’s linked to the social web, to your growing email subscriber list, to your contact database, to smart analytics. Marketing automation is becoming more important — it can improve the visitor’s experience, help you power and manage relationships and measure the results.

9. Mobile matters

If you’re creating a new website, make sure its design is responsive, so that it is easily viewable and useable on any device. With the rise of mobile the power of visual content has never been greater so don’t forget to include video content.

10. The work doesn’t stop once you’ve launched your website

A website is a platform to build on, not an end in itself. Be clear on your content strategy, create a publishing plan for the months ahead and keep adding and sharing great content if you want to get found and loved. It takes time to build up that head of steam when it comes to driving leads from the web but hold firm. If you follow these tips and continue to add value, results will come.

Sonja Jefferson is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and content marketing consultant at Valuable Content. Sonja is co-author, with Sharon Tanton, of Valuable Content Marketing.

Are you embarrassed by your website?

January 15, 2014 by Sharon Tanton

Are you embarrassed by your website?/vintage typewriter{{}}The business case for having a good website packed with valuable content is very strong. Many people now realise that 60% of a sale happens before clients get in touch (or don’t — as the case may be). Your website plays an increasingly important part in the path to new business.

But it’s often sheer embarrassment that finally flicks the switch between “we really must get round to doing something about our website” to “we need to do it NOW”.

Worse than driving away potential leads (who we’ll never meet and can therefore ignore), a poor website makes it difficult to look our best amongst people we respect and want to do business with.

Having an embarrassing website is like having a really messy house. You just don’t want to bring people back there. Ring any bells?

Here are six signs that you’re embarrassed by your website:

  1. Like the spooky house on the corner, no one’s touched your website in years. It’s creaking at the seams. You daren’t even look in some places. It feels like it’s covered in cobwebs. If you dig too deep a skeleton will fall out of a cupboard or a bat will fly in your face.
  2. It’s like a ghost ship. Your website is haunted by the ghosts of people who left the company months ago, and the spectre of ideas you’ve moved on from. You’d change it if you could, only changing anything is so difficult, so you just avoid sending people to it.
  3. There’s no room at the inn. Look, you’d like to add some new content, but where’s it going to go? Your website isn’t a house, it’s a tiny caravan, and there’s no space for anything else. It’s just not up to the job.
  4. You’ve lost the plot. There are so many words but no one understands what you’re saying. Your website just doesn’t make it clear what you do. (In fact, you’re so mired in the wrong words that you’re finding it hard to explain it too).
  5. Your website looks like it was decorated by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen c.1993. Web fashions change. If too much frippery detracts from your message or the design gets in the way it just feels wrong. If your website fees like a rag rolling disaster, or a gold spray painted cherub fiasco, you’ll want people to stay well away.
  6. It has childhood bedroom syndrome. Your business is growing. You’ve changed. You’re clear what you offer, and how you help your clients but your website hasn’t caught up. Taking people back to the website is like trying to have a serious business conversation in a room decorated in Noddy wallpaper. You’ll do anything to avoid it.

If this sounds like your website, then it’s time to take action.

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, creative director at Valuable Content and co-author, with Sonja Jefferson, of Valuable Content Marketing.

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