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The Mobile Marketing Domination [Infographic]

iPhones sell quicker than babies are born these days. Cell phones are owned more than toothbrushes. And 54% of these phones are smart phones. The increasing popularity of mobile usage has climbed by 70% in 2012. Yet, as these numbers continue to stagger upward, investments in mobile marketing still fall short of 2%.

So don’t forget that when you market for your company, you need to target mobile users as well so that when they shop or peruse the Internet, they can shop straight from their hands. Luckily for you, 4 out of 5 phone users use their smart phones to shop.

If you’re trying to sell, you need to create a hybrid between social media and smartphone usage. You want to err on the side of user-friendly. Mobile marketing also means that business employees can take advantage of mobile technology themselves. A great way to sell your product is to have an app with a large, green “Buy Now” button. It’s also helpful for customers to have an app that will give them the information they need fast. Customers want the fast-facts: a store’s physical location and proximity to them, price comparison and product information, coupons and product reviews. And don’t forget to link your mobile audience up with your already-existent social media websites! Mobile marketing has so much to offer:

Mobile marketing infographic

Ivan Serrano is a journalist and infographic specialist from Northern California. He enjoys covering topics such as global business, social media and tech. In his free time he likes getting lost in his photography and relaxing while catching up on his favorite “Bay Area” sports teams.

The Twitter Prowess: Underrated Techniques for Small Businesses

Some rights reserved by mkhmarketing

Twitter for small businessWe’ve all witnessed how social media has evolved to meet the demands of business acumen and operations. Twitter, for example, used to serve as a text messaging service for businessmen to target their market. Since then, the social network has undergone a series of overhauls – features and design-wise – to become the global service that it is today. However, there are still features that most small businesses tend to overlook. When these overshadowed options are maximized properly, it can bring great success into your online presence.

In this article, we’ll show you how you can capitalize on them as well as a feature on Twitter’s plans for a business-centric service.

Targeted Social Listening

Last January 29, Yahoo! Business released five lead generation techniques for small businesses and the blue bird on social media was one of it. The discussion lead to the introduction of ‘social listening’ — a technique wherein you have to know how users perceive your label. While these customers aren’t necessarily prompted to buy your products, author Kildeep Singh notes that they are still selling your label by talking about you online.

For example, we’ll use gourmet home delivery owner Mari Luangrath who selected a target audience among her followers (women from Chicago with ages 18-45) and used the technique to listen to their suggestions. After providing a solution to the biggest issue of her customers, she was able to increase her sales by 94%.

Two-Handle System

As a brand, you’re entitled to two tasks – to inform and to entertain. While keeping one official account is crucial in having a consistent tone, Let’s Get Wise notes that it’s fine to split it into two Twitter accounts. “It’s worth setting up two accounts for the stuff so you can focus on two things: making people aware of products and services, and assisting them with their problems,” as written on Twitter Advice 2014 Edition post.

Depending on your services, you can tweet relevant articles or studies using your information-only handle. If you’re operating a sports apparel business, you can search for articles talking about the benefits of gym and morning jogs. For the entertainment part, conduct a simple contest and use your products as prizes.

4-1-1 Ratio Rule of Twitter

A cardinal rule for lead generation, the 4-1-1 Ratio was popularized by content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi. Its premise is simple – for every self-serving tweet, you must reciprocate it by retweeting one relevant tweet, followed by four relevant articles written by others. According to Pulizzi, this allows you to build brand awareness while considering a consumer-centric approach.

The 4-1-1 rule can also be applied to email lead generation. Turn prospects into potential clients by engaging them into an informal dialogue. The technique is simple: you must craft four educational emails, bundled with one hard promotion and one soft promotion.

‘Contributors’: Twitter’s vision of business success

Since businesses are centered in helping Twitter to grow, the microblogging service decided to reciprocate it by developing a feature for enterprises. In 2009, Twitter announced that they are beta testing the “Contributors” feature. “It enables users to engage in more authentic conversations with businesses by allowing those organizations to manage multiple contributors to their account,” the blog read.

Ideally, it will attach the Twitter handle of the contributor to the tweet byline. For example, if you invited one of your customers to tweet you, their name would be reflected to the tweet beside your handle. This gives your followers the idea that you’re open to collaborate.

Although there are some who still doubt the effectiveness of Twitter to build their brand online, the secret to a stable profit is by having a lead generation marketing plan. Connect, listen, and attend to your customers need online, and we’re certain that they will start retweeting and promoting your brand themselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Twitter Ninja, Sookie Lioncourt knows all the secrets and tricks using the microblogging platform to her advantage. She has read many articles about it before jumping to this new trend. If you’re unfamiliar with this techniques, Sookie gives a tip for free on Twitter (@sookielioncourt).

 

Easy Organization: Helpful Smartphone and Tablet Apps That Help With Organization and Productivity

shutterstock_129038348Remember when smartphones first hit the market? We all just had to have one – for work, of course. Everyone went on and on about how much more productive they would be and how life would be easier.

Now just a few years later, many of us find our lives controlled by these devices. We’re connected to work 24/7 and that ends up putting the rest of our life into the background.

Fortunately, a smartphone can still do more than just provide a direct line to the boss. The same technology can help us organize and prioritize our lives, so that work doesn’t trump writing holiday thank-you notes or finally putting together that bunk bed for your children that’s been sitting in the garage since Christmas.

Here are some of the best organization apps currently on the market.

Easily Do – The Easily Do app is a clever time saver that takes care of tedious micro-tasks so you don’t have to. With your permission, the app sends you notifications and requests to do tasks that the program’s algorithm guesses you’ll have to do anyway, like adding contacts, merging duplicates, wishing Facebook friends happy birthday, and more. While some of the notifications are obvious (like being asked if you’d like to add a date mentioned in an email to your calendar), others are surprisingly helpful. For example, if you make an online purchase and you receive a confirmation email with an ID tracking number, Easily Do will shoot you a message asking whether or not you’d like to see whether or not what you bought has been shipped. The app is free for both Apple and Android devices.

ZiplistZiplist is a free app for Android and Apple phones that eliminates the worst a supermarket shopper can face: forgetting the grocery list. The brilliance of this app is that it allows you to both look up over 1.3 million (not a typo) recipes and their ingredients and create your own grocery lists. Better still, the app allows you to share created grocery lists with family members, ending, once-and-for-all, the age old “you bought the wrong thing” argument.

EvernoteEvernote is an app that allows users to send files, photos, reminders, to-do lists, and tweets to themselves and others to ensure that no part of your day gets lost in the fray. The app is free for both Apple and Android products and is consistently one of the highest scoring offerings in “Best of the Year” app reviews. The beauty is in the notebooks. You can create as many notebooks as you need and then share them with whomever you like, so your ideas will never be lost.

MailboxMailbox is the perfect app for those who need help keeping emails from piling up. It’s easy enough to keep junk emails from taking over your inbox, but it’s much tougher in traditional inboxes to prioritize and sort messages. The app works much like the snooze feature on your alarm clock, allowing you to put off reading and replying to messages that aren’t important in lieu of ones that are. Messages are viewed in a central folder where you can either open them, delete them, or set a reminder to view them later, all with the swipe of a finger. The app is free for both Android and Apple products.

Mint – The folks at Mint have created the quintessential app for organizing and managing your finances. The app links directly to your bank account and automatically keeps track of your expenditures, categorizing them in easy-to-read charts and graphs. The Mint app sends reminders of bills and periodic deductions to connected devices, and even generates a budget based on your expenditures. You can also monitor all your financial information at Mint.com. The app is free for Android and Apple products.

Closet+The Closet+ app helps you organize your closet and make the most of your wardrobe. Just snap photos of each article of clothing and once they’re stored, you can keep track of what clothes and outfits you wore, and how often. The app also makes it easy to pair pieces and plan your wardrobe for the week ahead. The Closet+ app may not be useful for everyone, but for the multitudes of people who waste valuable time deliberating over what to wear, it can be invaluable.

Realize Your Phone’s Potential

These apps – all of which are free – can make us more productive and more organized. They’re tools that make life a little easier and free up brain space so that we can focus on the important things. If you’re not the most tech-savvy smartphone user, know that these apps have little (if any) learning curve. Downloading them is the most complicated thing you’ll have to do – the apps take care of the rest.

Jessica Johnson works for www.extraspace.com and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions.

Choosing the right platform for your email newsletters

So. Your new website is up and it is absolutely beautiful. It has all the bells and whistles to enable you to conquer the world. Right? Now that you have the easy part done, what’s next? Now you have to be able to tell people about it.

Fortunately, there are many choices to enable you to do just that. The best way to accomplish that is through an e-newsletter platform (provider). This is a service that enables you to use your email list to distribute your valuable information to your clients/customers/friends and family.

Naturally, the first thing you need to do is create that list, which is the subject of another post. For our purposes here we will be addressing only the platforms available for your use, whether you are an artist, photographer, blogger, etc.. The graph below highlights the Top Ten, according to Top Ten Reviews (link below).

 Email Marketing Chart

When you are at the point in your business where you need to find new customers as well as market to existing ones, one of the best methods of doing this is through the use of email newsletters, coupons, and announcements.

The following is a list of why email marketing might be your best choice to further your goals.

The role of email in your marketing arsenal:

• 94% of all online adults read or send email

• Email is ingrained in people’s daily routines

• 2.9-billion email accounts worldwide

• $40.6-dollar return on ROI for $1 spent

• Email is checked unconsciously all day

• Email is the #1 online activity

• Email can be easily targeted

• 89% of marketers consider it very important

With that in mind, here are a couple points to consider when deciding to look for providers for solving your email marketing “challenges”:

1. What do I want to achieve by deciding to use email marketing? Do you have a product to sell? Do you want to share your wisdom with like-minded people? Do you want to use coupons to drive business to your virtual doorstep? You may want to create a list of your more immediate goals, in order to be better informed in selecting a platform that will assist you in achieving those goals.

2. What can I afford to pay for this service? Many of the services listed in the above graph allow you free service either by a prescribed period of time or through the use of a limited amount of subscribers, usually up to 1,000. While all of the services can send out your email campaign, several are all-in-one packages that can handle all your email marketing needs, such as excellent tracking, thorough statistics, the ability to schedule events, segmentation of your lists, etc. Others may only offer limited services, such as sending, basic tracking, and minimal statistics.

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is that you might want to select a service that someone you know is using. That way you can “get in” easier and with a lot less effort.

David Wells, who publishes a great photography newsletter, The Wells Point, did just that. “I use Mail Chimp simply because a good friend who is a techy and who helped me build my various sites said it was better and easier to use as compared to others he had used. Once I learned how to use it I had NO interest in learning how to use another program.”

If one of your main concerns is customer service, Todd Shapera from Todd Shapera Photography also feels that is a good point to consider. “Over many years, I also have received terrific customer phone service from iContact, especially when I have formatting and design issues. I also use iContact because it feels user friendly on every level—flexibility in designing the newsletter, linking to other web galleries, managing lists, scheduling and sending newsletters, and receiving detailed user reports on opens and clicks.”

 

The graph above should aid you tremendously in your selection process. It is the best site I have found that offers considerable information in relation to making a well-informed email marketing choice. Each time you click on one of the tabs on the left, a new graph will appear, indicating the levels of “Ease of Use,” for example.

 Email Marketing analytics

 

For my own work I use Benchmark, which has performed very well for me. One of the best statistics I use is the “Campaign Comparison” graph (above). It allows me to compare a number of my campaigns to see which one performed best. I can then use this information to do some research and find why certain campaigns performed better than others.

 

Over the years I have used Constant Contact, AWeber, Mail Chimp, Online Newsletters, WYSIJA (WordPress plugin). Some I found to be awkward to use, while others had insufficient reporting structures. I was doing well with AWeber, but soon found out that users didn’t have the ability to select which segmented list of yours they wanted to opt out of. When I called customer service, the person I spoke with had no idea what I was talking about.

 

Everyone has their own experience, which is why it is up to you to do the research necessary to get the right fit for you.

 

Links:
top graph, http://email-marketing-service-review.toptenreviews.com/
David Wells: www.davidhwells.com
Todd Shapera: www.ToddShapera.com
Tim Anderson: www.reddognews.com

Author Bio:
Tim Anderson is a professional photographer and writer and is the editor of RedDogNews.com and the publisher of Red Dog News, a bi-weekly international photo-based e-mail newsletter, read in more than 128 countries and by more than 5,000 readers and subscribers. He recently spoke at WordCamp Albuquerque, Online Newsletters: Benefits and Challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

Tweaking Your Twitter Profile For Maximum Impact

Image courtesy of photos.com

Do you feel like you’re losing the Twitter race? Are you not growing your following as quickly as you’d hoped? With over 200 million fellow earthlings actively using this extremely popular social media tool, you need to make sure that you stand out from the rest of the tweeting crowd. And one easy way to attract followers and keep them coming back for more is to create a smashing profile.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the impact that your profile has on prospective followers.

1. Profile Pic

When you put your cleverly crafted witticisms out there into cyberspace, you want people to know–and remember–that they came from you. That is why it is important to have a profile picture that is easily recognizable. If you are tweeting on behalf of your company, you may want to use your logo. If not, select a high quality photo that you use across your social media profile accounts. And, ensure that your photo translates well into a thumbnail.

2. Profile Info

You want a clever profile that reflects your unique personality, but make sure that it includes a few valuable tidbits of information including a one line blurb about yourself or your business. You also need to provide a link to your webpage, a way to contact you, and your location. And clarify what you hope to accomplish through your Tweets with a call-to-action such as “follow me for the latest automotive news.”

3. Pretty Profile

If you want to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack, you need to steer away from preset designs. Followers who demand original content will look for original design–and that means a flashy background, sidebar, and header.

  • For the background, choose a quality image that suits you or your company’s unique flavor. It must be less than 2 MB, preferably using a PNG format and centered. Small images can also be tiled.
  • Your sidebar should contain your company logo or personal photo with your contact information.
  • The header image should be dark enough to allow text to show up and be legible.

4. Follow and be followed

In order to achieve popularity, you need to be generous with other Twitter users. Follow people that tweet on topics that interest you. Retweet things that tickle your funny bone or make you say “a-ha.” Avoid, however, following too many people or you will find yourself bogged down in tweets.

5. Don’t become mechanical

When life gets busy, you may be tempted to schedule automatic tweets. There’s nothing wrong with doing this once in a while, but it should never become standard practice. If you want to attract and hold an audience, you need to maintain your friendly and personal tone. Automatic tweets detract from this and can make your tweets sound cold and detached. Remember, tweeting is a form of conversation–not a mode of sharing generic newsletters.

6. Keep your eye on the trends

If you want your tweets to be relevant and attract a large audience, monitor the trends list for interesting topics. If everyone is talking about a subject, it must be of interest in the here and now–making it the perfect topic to attract and maintain followers. Make sure, however, that you are not simply regurgitating stale info or talking about something just for the sake of talking. You need to have something new to offer the discussion.

By following a few handy profile-enhancing tips, you can attract new followers and grow your Twitter audience. Yes, you can stand out in the crowd of tweeting earthlings. All 200 million of them.

What techniques have you used to create an attention-grabbing Twitter profile?

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has written on a multitude of topics including social media marketing, online reputation management, and blogging tools. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Social Media Profiles: The Unsung Hero of SEO

As long as you don’t share the name with a famous person, social media profiles are extremely useful for creating a brand and getting your name out there. When used together, your profiles can reach the masses. They offer a place to share information and encourage others to share it with their followers too. Whether you create arts and crafts, write novels or have your own IT business, here are some tips to make the most of this unsung hero of SEO.

Create your brand and reputation with social media

Use the Same Picture For All Social Media Profiles

You want to create consistency between your profiles to create a brand. Always use the same image for your profiles. Professional ones tend to look better but you always want to look friendly and approachable. Avoid photos where others are in the shot with you and try to use a plain background or somewhere outside.

You don’t have to use a photo. It could be a logo for your business or a graphic that represents you. Whatever you choose to use, have the same one for every single social media profile, from your Facebook business page to your Pinterest account.

Include the Same Information on Each Account

Avoid copying and pasting the exact same descriptions but include the same important information. For example, if your Facebook page says that you write about technology and finance, your Google+ page shouldn’t talk about writing about internet marketing and history! This leads to inconsistencies and your followers won’t know which one to believe. If you do all four, include them all on both profiles!

Keep your profile name the same and make sure it is the same as anywhere you guest post. This will help you build your online reputation quickly. When people come across your social media profile, they will recognize it from the name on a blog post they previously read; and vice versa. People will trust you more from this branding.

Be a Real Person

Don’t constantly automate everything you say on social media. The point of it is to be sociable! Get on there yourself, respond to comments and write off-the-cuff posts now and then about your day. Get involved with your followers and show that you have an interest. As they see that you’re a real person, they are more likely to connect with you and want to know more.

Keep the same personality on your different platforms. Yes, there is a different way of posting but that doesn’t mean your personality has to change! It is also important to be the person you are in real life. That way, if they meet you, they’re not going to be put off by meeting someone different they’ve gotten to know online.


Social media is the best SEO method to improve your reputation online

Social media platforms are excellent for branding and improving your reputation online. Your name or brand will soon become a household name, as long as you follow a few tips. Keep your profiles consistent. That way, people know what to expect between them and when meeting you in person.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Alexandria Ingham is a freelance writer with experience in technology, internet marketing and personal finance.

How Google+ Is Cleaning Up The Internet

Writing garbageIt’s easy to write an article and put it up on the Internet. While that is encouraging for up and coming writers, it’s also a sure-fire way for more garbage to find an audience than can be done via traditional print media. All anyone needs is a computer and web access, and presto! Suddenly, everyone’s a writer! But fear not, o aficionado of non-crappy prose. Google authorship is here to help curtail the flow of trash!

Keeping It Real
By establishing Google authorship, writers link their articles from other sources (such as their blogs) to their Google Plus profile page. This shows Google and online readers that your material comes from a reliable source, an actual author, as opposed to junk articles generated by spammers.

The last thing you want is to be confused with some kind of spambot or other cheesey cookie-cutter content creator (try saying that three times fast!). When people see your name attached to an article, they need to be assured that what they read is genuine, awesome, genuinely awesome, and speaking of which…

Increased Visibility, The Incentive To Do Better
It is said that “character is what you are when no one’s looking”. Well, that’s true. But on the other hand, it can be argued that when everyone’s looking, you get fired up to give your best performance. Really now. Which makes you more eager to hit one out of the park, content-wise? The idea that no one knows (or cares) who you are, and thus no one sees your stuff, or the knowledge that people are following your posts and visiting your site, eagerly awaiting the next installment of deathless prose to emanate from your brain?

Google Plus lets you establish a stronger web presence, and a better showing on search results. By doing that, you’re less inclined to just cough up something and instead really put some time and effort into what you’re posting. The result? Less garbage, more readable content. Because let’s face it; at one time or another we all get lazy.

So, What To Do?
If you don’t have a Google Plus account and home page yet, get one. Fill out the profile, and link your sites to the page, and vice versa.  You can even link your profiles from other social media (e.g. Facebook) to your Google Plus profile. Add other members to your circles, and start getting known! Link your articles and blogs to your page. Here’s a flowchart to walk you through the process.

Everybody Wins
By using the Google Plus model, writers’ content stands out and their reputations are solidified as exposure grows.  This is a crucial part of online reputation management. Readers find their choices of online content narrowed a little more and made more manageable. The articles written by authors with solid reputations will rise to the top of searches while the crap sinks down into the dark depths where it belongs. And, of course, the sites that host your awesome stuff will benefit, since traffic will be driven there thanks to your solid reputation and search engine optimization. So yes, everybody wins.

Get moving, and in time, when people see your name, they’ll think “popular writer of entertaining articles”, and not “sketchy lapdog of spammer overlords”.


John Terra Bio PhotoBio
John Terra has been freelancing since 1985, and his work has appeared in diverse places like Inc Magazine, Computer Shopper, The Nashua Telegraph, and numerous online sites. An uber-geek and old school gamer, he’s also done extensive freelancing for role-playing games systems like Dungeons and Dragons , Star Wars, and others. John lives with his wife and three cats in Nashua NH.

GooglePlus1: “Here’s another batch of quality Internet articles!”
http://www.photos.com/royalty-free-images/the-bulldozer-on-a-garbage-dump/

Photo Credit: Photos.com

 

Google Apps – Tips and Tricks for a more Efficient User Experience

google_apps6464Improving one’s efficiency in the world of Google Apps can not only save precious time, but can also lead to a more organized and productive user experience. Our elaborate resource of Google Apps tutorial videos – GoogleGooru, provides step by step guidance from basic to advanced features.  In this post we’ve compiled a selection of  tips and tricks to help make your Google Apps experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Gmail:

Multiple Inboxes – Keeping Your Inbox Organized:

If you are using Gmail on a regular basis, there is a very high chance that you might find yourself spending a lot of time prioritizing your emails. Have you ever imagined what it could be like to have your emails arrange themselves automatically across multiple inboxes of your choice? In our Top Gmail Labs series we’ve provided a detailed video tutorial as to how to do exactly that.

One of the more powerful Gmail Labs is the ability to create multiple inboxes. In order to enable multiple inboxes (Mail Settings > Labs > Multiple Inboxes) please make sure your inbox type is set to classic. Go ahead and enable it.

Now you can use the mail settings interface to easily specify what type of email you want to appear in each inbox; such as drafts, sent mail  or a certain label.

Labels & Filters – Be More Efficient With Your Emails

One of the best ways to save time in Gmail is through the use of filters. By automatically applying actions to incoming messages, filters can help become more efficient in your workspace. According to the rules that you set – you can label, archive, star, forward, and delete messages automatically. Moreover, the process is rather easy: Gmail filters work just like search: just click the drop-down arrow in the search bar and set your own parameters.

Gmail also offers more organizational features such as labels. Unlike Outlook, Gmail allows you to apply multiple labels to a single e-mail. Using this method, you can organize, file, and later retrieve your emails more efficiently.

Canned Responses – Save Yourself Some Time

As one of the most popular Gmail Labs, Canned Responses allows you to create templates of emails that you send often, and quickly insert the entire template into an email.  That way, messages that are composed on a regular basis can be prepared in advance and later extracted rapidly, saving precious time.

Drive

Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Docs

If you are using Google Drive, you must be using Google Docs on a regular basis. In order to save some time while working with Google Docs, you might want to consider learning some keyboard shortcuts. While most of you must be already familiar with the basic  shortcuts such as cut, copy, paste, undo etc, our tutorials expose you to more advanced shortcuts such as copy and paste of formatting as well as keyboard shortcuts for headers. Check out the video on GoogleGooru to see a few of our favorites.

Advanced Search Operators

If you are a daily Google Drive user, your Google Docs must be rapidly accumulating within your Drive Library. While you can store and organize documents in different folders, it can sometimes be hard to find specific documents you’re looking for. Using Drive’s Advanced Search Operators you can find your Docs using not only their titles as the search word, but also through searching for keywords, frequent words and key phrases used within the Doc you are looking for. In addition, you can narrow down your search using sharing policies.

How to Copy a Collection of Google Docs

Another popular way to save time is through the editing of existing docs. In order to do so, most of us simply copy the docs we are interested in editing. However, Google Drive does not allow for the copying of multiple documents at a time. Fortunately, there is a way to do this using the offline version of Google Drive.

Open the desktop version of your Google Drive > Right click a folder of documents that you wish to copy, and click copy. Now right click again within your Google Drive, and click paste. You should see an identical version of your folder with ‘Copy’ in front of it. Next time you sync your desktop Drive with your browser version, you should see this copy in your Drive.


Matan Levin @thegoogleguru: The Google Gooru is your #1 resource for Google Apps how-to videos and for keeping up to date on the latest updates and new features in Google Apps.

Why You Need to Simplify Your Message

Developing the perfect user experience takes skill, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of hard work. Perfecting UX is an ambitious project for any content management team to undertake. In order to succeed in our goal, every decision we make should bring our content platforms closer to meeting our audience’s expectations, while increasing sales and customer engagement.

But this isn’t always a happy marriage of goals, and nowadays commercial websites have become enormous, complicated structures that require FAQ pages just to answer site navigation questions. Meanwhile, competing websites will continue to offer audiences similar features and prices, but one will ultimately win out because it provided the better user experience.

The study of user experience involves many different aspects of web design and content writing. These are details that your users will always notice on their end, but will often get overlooked by management. Here we will focus on the idea of minimalism, highlighting the potential benefits of offering customers a more simplified experience on your website and in your other content platforms. We will also discuss why this strategy works, and what outcomes to expect. But first, let’s take a look inside the mind of a user and get an idea of where they’re coming from.

What Do Users Want?

People’s habits on a web page aren’t much different than their physical behavior in a retail store. They’ll quickly glance over your landing page, scan some of the text and then click on the first thing that really catches their attention. This could be some sort flashy new content or anything that would lead them towards that thing they came looking for in the first place.

If the new landing page doesn’t fulfill their expectations or wants, they immediately turn back and start the process all over again. As a result, there will be many different parts of your website that users will never actually look at or read through at all. This boils down to two distinct behaviors all users share:

Scanning – Users scan content. A study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that on the average web page, users will read through only 20% of the content. This isn’t a habit that reflects ignorance or disinterest on the user’s part, it merely shows us that people are busy and will quickly scan content to determine whether or not it is any good.

Intuitive Search – Users follow their gut. Most of the time, they would rather find their own way through a site than read through and introduction page explaining the process. Think of it as the equivalent of a guy refusing to ask for directions. As you might imagine, users won’t always make the best decisions as a result. They’ll either end up somewhere completely irrelevant to their goal, or get completely lost and assume that their solution isn’t offered on your site.

Users want instant gratification

This involves the shortest, quickest route possible towards fulfilling their needs and wants. Maybe that’s the quality of your content. If users know that you’re going to deliver really good content on your end, they’ll usually put up with advertisements, call-to-action pop ups, and other intrusive materials on their end.

But the real question is whether or not that’s a necessary risk. If a website falls short on experience even for a second, then the user will bounce and you lose the sale. So instead of focusing on improving experience by adding, try to think about what you can omit.

Users Know Where Things Should Go

According to the many eye tracking studies conducted in the past, users tend to start scanning through the content of a web page on the top left corner of a site. They then proceed through the rest of the content in an F-like pattern, occasionally stopping whenever they find something particularly interesting or useful to them. As a result, users have become accustomed to looking for certain key elements of a web page on certain parts of a website. Let’s take a look at an example:

Category pages enable users to search through product catalogs quickly and efficiently. So where do you typically find category menus on a home page?

amazon

ebay

apple

Users typically begin their search on the top left corner, so it’s easy to see that category menus are one of the most important aspects of an ecommerce website. Each of these websites is unique and has developed incredibly strong brands, and yet their site designs aren’t all that different when you take a closer look at it.

That’s because part of developing the minimalistic user experience involves understanding where audiences will expect to see certain elements of a website. Avoiding this altogether and doing your own take on it will cause users to waste time. Remember, users rely on intuitive search, so unnecessary site reorganization could ultimately lead to user disinterest and a loss of sale.

Users Want It Quick and Obvious

Content should be clean and out in the open. If a website provides a minimalist, simplified design, users will spend less time learning how to find what they want and more time actually finding what they want. The problem though is that we often have so many great ideas and content that we end up throwing it all up at once. It’s almost ironic when you think about it. We spend so much time thinking about cool new things we could add that we end up overwhelming our users with header art, signup sheets, FAQs, drop down menus and other excess materials.

There’s nothing wrong with constantly researching new ways to make the user experience better and more engaging, but it’s important to keep in mind that users want things quick and obvious. They want a clear road that will lead them to their goal, and they want to discover it for themselves. So why make it harder for them? Let’s take a look at this example:

OpenMile.com is a truckload freight broker that brings users with shipping needs to the companies who want to provide them these services.

Here’s their original landing page: 

Open-Mile-AB-test-Control

It’s a very clean and straightforward design. But the problem was that the cover art (original as it may be) proved to be too distracting to users looking to find where they could get a quote. As a result, many of them never noticed the solid “Get a Truckload Quote” button even though it was near the top left corner of the page.

Here’s there updated landing page: 

Open-Mile-AB-test-Variation

Notice how the distracting cover art is gone leaving a plain “Get a Quote” button dead center of the page instead. The surrounding color complements the button by bringing it out in the open instead of masking it in the page. It’s literally the first thing you saw when you looked at it right? This is what I mean about providing a clear and obvious road. Users will discover it themselves and commit because of it. What were the results? Well a study by Visual Website Optimizer found that the change was responsible for a 232% increase in lead generation.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to make a website a new and fresh experience, but you have to remember to keep the ideal user experience in mind first. Don’t force them to relearn browsing concepts they are already familiar with and understand that sometimes less will really mean more.



Vincent H. Clarke is a Marketing Analyst for USB Memory Direct, a wholesaler of promotional USB drives. While he mostly writes about marketing and branding, he also enjoys writing about productivity, content strategy, and user experience. Connect with him on Twitter @_vhclarke.

Can Technology Damage Small Business Efficiency?

web-security-threatsSmall businesses everywhere are constantly being told that the more they embrace technology, the better their opportunities to grow will be and the more efficient they will become. The thought of technology having a negative impact never enters their heads, and why should it. However, as they begin to grow and explore other areas, it is very easy for various technology platforms to start doing as much harm as they do good.

Don’t get us wrong; we are not saying businesses should ditch technology. What they do need to do, however, is ensure that they are cutting out complacency, and maintaining a focus on the products they do use at all times.

We explored some examples of business technology, and looked at how they can damage efficiency, and what they can do to deal with and prevent problems.

Poor IT Procedures

The biggest cause of data breaches in businesses is negligence. Even if you are a local company with no more than five or six employees, you need to have an IT policy and clear procedures in place. Not only does this protect your business, it means you can deal with people who decide to put your business at risk directly or indirectly, and it will improve the use of IT and the whole culture in your company.

Dealing with this problem can cost time, money, and your business’ reputation, and the best cure here is always to be preventative.

IT Maintenance

This is where the line about “the more they embrace technology” comes into focus.

When first buying hardware or servers, you naturally go for the best product available, or at least the best you can afford. As you move forward, however, it is easy to neglect upgrading these services or products, either inadvertently or because you don’t want to invest any more money.

The efficiency you lose because of slow systems or out of date hardware will cost you more than an upgrade, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot!

Not Going Mobile

If a business hasn’t gone mobile, then there are huge opportunities being missed. Why have people in an office sat in front of a computer making appointments, when they could be doing that on the phone while physically traveling to appointments and looking up information and potential leads on a mobile device at the same time?

When you do go mobile, it is important that devices are subject to the same security levels and maintenance as office hardware would be, even if you use mobile as part of a BYOD setup. Many businesses have lost data or been breached because they have accessed data via a tablet or phone, for example, that is otherwise secured in other locations.

Ensure your business is not caught out!

It’s a Must

If you don’t put this advice into practice, then you had better be ready to learn the hard way the importance of maintaining your technology platforms and security. It might seem time intensive and costly, but rest assured, it is more efficient than what you are currently doing, and definitely more so than having to deal with any problems.

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