Interacting with Followers

Interacting With Followers Is Crucial To Your Business. Learn Why!

Content marketing is strengthened exponentially with social media in mind. You can rely on search Social Media Brandingengines to a degree to help bring you a certain amount of traffic, but if you want to accelerate loyalty and possibly sales, you will need to interact with followers through social media. The most popular social networks are Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. You don’t need a presence on each of them, just the ones that suit your goals.

The Power of Interaction

The quote from Ian Conklin that “clients want to believe they found you .. not that you found them” applies to search engines, websites and social media as vehicles for knowledge discovery. People feel rewarded by making the right connections in their networks. Take advantage of the fact that half the world is now looking to make new friends online through social media to help with problem solving and possibly career advancement.

Interaction through the internet is a much more empowering form of communication than a person who passively absorbs television or radio programming. Social media can deliver immediate answers and responses faster than email or any other electronic medium besides the telephone. Social media is more convenient than the telephone, which can be interruptive at times, whereas people with social profiles crave attention. Another strength that social media offers is group discussion that can expand through content sharing.

Mixing Art with Messages

Putting Paint to Canvas

Putting Paint to Canvas

What’s spectacular about social media sharing is that it allows you to express yourself in artistic ways that had previously not been possible. You can now easily associate your message with a song, a movie clip or a painting to help reach a common ground with followers. Sharing original art, music, video or photography with your message can give a personal touch to your campaign. It’s easy to type a post with a link to your blog or article and upload other media at the same time, creating a multidimensional post.

Posting news articles with artistic graphics and a theme that goes along with your writing is a creative way to lead followers to your content. Facebook and Google Plus give you flexibility for combining multiple links on one post. The visual imagery helps pull in readers from their news feed, which is important, since only about 15 percent of your Facebook friends will see your posts in news feeds. Facebook learns through “likes” and comments what the most active friends are for each individual and serves them their own individual news feed of top connections. So it’s important to create as many impressive posts as possible to increase visibility.

Comments and Likes

Your social media interactivity should include reading other people’s posts as well as writing your own. You can write comments on people’s “walls” on Facebook just by clicking their names. If someone likes your comment it’s a good idea to like their comments at least once in a while. It helps remind them of your content and builds a connection that keeps your feeds active.
Adding new unknown followers on Facebook can be done for a business profile, but is discouraged for personal profiles, so you may want to have two separate profiles on Facebook.

Google Plus is more about building new relationships online and engaging in more about knowledge, while Facebook has a more fun and casual orientation. Both social networks allow you to create subgroups focused on specific discussions. Twitter is more about promoting links with simple short statements.Take the lead in content marketing by interacting with followers on a level that creates a meaningful bond that is mutually beneficial.

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Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Ian Conklin - President OTR Web


OTR Web is a Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements

Contact OTR Web.

Lead Nurturing for the Sales Funnel

Lead Nurturing for the Sales Funnel

The whole point to content marketing is getting leads with a good ROI, unless you’re just doing it as a hobby. Most people who go through all the trouble of massive content creation appreciate the business that it can bring. Your business will be elevated by implementing a system that captures, nurtures, scores and converts leads through your sales funnel, which ultimately directs users to your product pages.

Landing Page Optimization

A landing page, as defined by Google Analytics, is the first page that a user enters on a website. Marketers tend to extend the definition to pages where customers arrive after clicking ads. To avoid confusion, you might refer to pages where you sell products as your product pages or lead capture pages, whether the products are physical or digital. Use these pages to develop leads you can nurture for future sales. You can capture leads by offering a form, email address or link to your social media profile.

The most effective product pages will make it easy for the consumer to quickly learn the product name, what it looks like with a thumbnail or image, the price, product reviews and a purchase button. No matter how sophisticated the e-commerce software is, the buying experience needs to be simple. The consumer should have multiple methods for purchasing, such as credit, debit or PayPal. Product images need to be sharp and colorful. Reviews are essential because they provide real life experiences and give the consumer deeper insight.

A/B Testing

One of the ways to improve landing pages is through A/B testing, which is a process of experimenting with various versions of web pages to narrow down the most effective lead generation strategy. Multiple pages can be tested either at one time or in a sequence. The goal is to figure out which type of presentation gets the best click-through and conversion rates.A/B testing does not produce complex statistics. It’s more of a simple approach to decision-making that doesn’t require a lot of time, effort or expense. Variables can be the layout and the choice of wording, color and images.

Creating a QA Page

Offering a QA page is strategically advantageous because it’s what many leads gravitate toward when they have questions and want quick answers. Think of 10-20 or more questions that your customers might ask you regarding the purchasing process and how to learn more about the product. Provide links for further information if necessary. Be sure to also provide a link for followers to ask further questions, which captures leads.

Lead Scoring and Nurturing

As leads come to you through forms, email and social media, you can save time with the conversion process by developing a lead scoring system. You can use marketing automation software such as Hubspot, Pardot, PlanPlus, LeadMaster and a variety of other programs or you can do it manually. Simply create a 0-10 or 0-100 scoring system with the highest numbers being the most likely leads to convert. Then score your leads based on the information the potential customer gives you.

Concentrate your efforts on high scoring leads so that you don’t annoy the people who are not interested in making purchases. Low scores may someday shift to high scores if you nurture them in a friendly way. You can maximizing lead nurturing by keeping all contacts on your radar and interacting with them through social media and finding out more about their lifestyles and interests. Offer them free information whenever you can.

Would you like to get relevant information such as this blog/article  delivered to your mailbox? Join our OTR Web Newsletter now.

Take the lead in content marketing by converting leads to sales based on a sensible system that evaluates followers of your content.

Ian Conklin

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

OTR Web is a Partner with HubSpot.

 

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements Contact OTR Web.

 

Creative Content Marketing Ideas

Content Marketing – Ideas for Creative Content

Content marketing is all about storytelling. Without this major ingredient, the recipe is flawed. It’s about connecting with people and building an audience that’s already searching for the topic in search engines with keywords. All you need to do is expand on those keywords and turn them into stories that you can share through different media, such as your website, blog, newsletter and social media profile.

Several formats can be used for content marketing. Essentially, it involves whatever typecontent marketing is all about telling your story of multimedia you’re comfortable with. Content can be created and shared in the form of text, audio, images, charts, info-graphics, videos or innovative new types of media. Many successful campaigns are built on a large quantity of text mixed with graphics or other media.

Planning Ahead

The first step to contenting marketing is mapping out the universe of possibilities for content ideas. Like keywords, start with general concepts and move toward specific detail. Creating outlines will help guide you to expanding on content because outlines will tell you where the story is leading.

Before setting out on this adventure of producing material, do some research and experience for yourself your topics. Gather information and organize it in a way that’s easy to use for your own reference purposes. Some people create different word documents for different topics and store them in one folder on their computer. Others like to create multiple folders stored in one folder.

Evergreen Content

Plan on creating evergreen instead of static content. Evergreen means something that will always be fresh for the people who discover it the first time, as opposed to content that becomes dated. Almost any subject can be treated in an evergreen style.

Evergreen content can be achieved if you tell a story in an historical context. In other words, the statement “gas prices are $3.50 per gallon” will become outdated, whereas the statement “gas prices hovered around $3.50 per gallon in 2013” is more of a timeless fact that will always have relevance as a time marker.

The reason you want to present your content in an evergreen style is that it saves you the work from eventually changing or eliminating content. Once web pages are created they become part of Google’s index. Even though Google encourages fresh content, they still give old web pages high rankings if they present useful information.

Problem Solving

Think about the buying cycle of your customer. Plan stories that will lead to when it’s right to buy your service or product. Important components of storytelling should be about problems and solutions. Make a list of what your customers tend to complain about. You can do this by studying existing reviews on sites within your industry. Create stories that address these issues.

Tell your story in a conversational manner, even if what you are selling is technical. Content marketing is all about humanizing your brand as opposed to last century’s marketing strategy for bigger than life mystique. Figure out how to tell the same stories in different ways so that you can recycle content that links together. Pay attention to word count and try to get it up to several hundred words per page.

Original ideas

Make your content as original as possible, which helps search rankings and your credibility with followers. Some of the ways to craft original content are to write about your historical perspectives, interviews with experts and lists of tips for efficiency. Check what your competitors are doing and do something different. Write about what the industry needs to improve. Give your readers something they can be excited about so that they’ll share it with friends.

Take the Lead in Content Marketing – Access the OTR eBook on Remarkable Content



Ian ConklinIan Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements Contact OTR Web.



SMB Web Design

SMB Web Design

Many business websites were designed with no purpose other than existence. However, the evolution of marketing and the Internet has transformed the business website into lead, traffic, and sales generating a multi-functioning marketing tool. The undeniable benefits of a well-designed site has caused several business owners to ponder over which provider can deliver the best product for the best price in the least amount of time as possible.     


With three apparent options, business owners may employ the shade-tree web designer, who also doubles as a nephew that creates pages from his bedroom after school. After the nephew, they can choose either a do-it-yourself website builder or enlist the services of a the professional web design company. In either case, you must take the lead and ensure your website meets your expectations and produces the desired results.

Take the Lead by Understanding These Terms in Web Design

Inbound marketing is the notion of attracting customers to your site by providing the information that users are searching for. The most effective inbound strategies are developed and incorporated into the fibers of the web page.

Copywriting refers to all of the text that appears as content on the page.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making your website more visible onwebsite elements a search engine results page. As one of the primary objections of any web site, getting seen is directly correlated to high revenue. The most effective SEO campaigns are the result of being interwoven into the creation of the website.

Search engine friendly refers to the ease that search engine crawlers are able to index and find your page.

HTML5 code is the new Internet language that offers an impending focus on multimedia without the need for plugins. HTML5 was developed to allow low-powered devices like smartphones to run heavy content. Additionally, it allows for the development of universal or cross-platform mobile apps. Overall, HTML5 offers significantly more control over the design of your page.

Cascading Style Sheets 3 (CSS3) is responsible for the style and design of the page. CSS3 bolsters the capabilities of a web designer with enhanced aesthetic appeal and functionality on the website.

The Nephew or Friend of a Friend

While your nephew may offer the most cost-effective method for website creation,
it is highly doubtable that your nephew will be able to create the functionality that is required. With the amazing growth of HTML5, newer and more appealing features are consistently being created. If your nephew is not familiar with the newer code, your site will quickly begin to look old compared to the other sites that use HTML5. In addition to having to develop your own web content (rather than making use of professional copywriters), your nephew will in all likelihood completely negate the importance of intertwining SEO and inbound marketing into the core of the website.

Take the Lead with a Do-it-Yourself Website Builder

DIY site builders are excellent for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to get their website online quickly and then perfect the site along the way. With a  template website, your page won’t break the bank or consume too much of your time. The all inclusive DIY website builder removes the coding process from website design and replaces it with the benefits of drop-and-drag. To begin, you simply choose a template and personalize it with your own tweaks and changes until it looks how you envisioned. DIY website builders also allow you to choose your domain name, work at your own pace, and web hosting is included with the DIY builder. Many DIY builders can generate a mobile-friendly version for smartphones.

There are however pitfalls. One of the major downsides of DIY website builders is the lack of customization in creating a website that reflects your corporate brand. Instead, the DIY website builder offers templates, which can leave a generic impression on visitors. As for SEO, you are left to optimize the page yourself and that can be a daunting task. Many time business owners using the DIY site builders quit in frustration due to the complexity of using the tool itself.

The greatest benefit of using a DIY website builder is the ability to work on your page at your individual pace and the low cost involved. If you have the time (remember also the cost of your time) and are willing to learn about SEO and copywriting as well as the actual DIY website builder tool, then the DIY website builder can be a good solution for you and your business.

Take the Lead with a Professional Web Design Company

Everyone knows that two heads are better than one. A professional web design company uses collaboration from copywriters, graphic designers, SEO professionals, software developers, inbound marketing strategists, project managers and several others to produce fully functional and highly attractive websites. The effectiveness of a professional web design company is the result of a team effort composed of different backgrounds. By using industry experts, a professional web design company delivers highly functional, unique, responsive, and profitable websites with both SEO and inbound marketing effectively interwoven into the website architecture and content.

With the many benefits of using a professional web design company, one disadvantage can be the upfront cost. Even with some services being a la carte, employing a design team can seem to be costly. In addition, a professional web design company will generally take approximately five to eight weeks to complete the site by the time they layout the navigation, create the design concepts, develop buyer persona’s, interview the key parties, research key phrases and then write the web content.

Creating a website that works for you and your clients takes time, no matter whether you do it yourself or hire a web team.

Take the Lead Download the OTR eBook – 10 Step Checklist Website Redesign
    


Ian ConklinIan Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.
OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website Development requirements Contact OTR Web.

Creating Fun Content for Your ‘Snoozer’ industry

Creating Fun Content for Your Boring Industry

Ah Marketing, those of us that get into this industry love the challenge and creativity required. We get to meet with clients who are excited about their product or service and then come up with a corporate branding strategy to effectively present them to the public. It’s challenging, fun, measurable and always changing. Things are be going great and then … ‘the email’ arrives.

Your boss is very happy with your work as of late and has a new client for you. A new iStock_000011073926XSmallproject!! It’s corporate branding strategy and one blog post per week and the client wants excitement, Sweet!! The new client is a Self Storage business. Okay, so a snoozer came down the line and it’s your job to create fun content that targets consumers. Your first thought, ‘Who wants to read about big empty rooms where we store random ‘stuff’ we don’t use?’ ‘*blink, blink*

One of your co-workers passes by your desk and sees the look of stunned disbelief on your face. You just point at the email. He smirks, pats you on the shoulder and keeps walking, wishing you luck as he makes his getaway. Your look in their direction says, ‘take me with you.’ Alas, you are left to deal with the yawner of a job.

Boring < Fun Factor

In this case the obstacle is comparable to a rather large mountain. The kind with a permanent snow cap. This ‘Boring’ mountain is what you need to summit. You are going to need to create the ‘Fun Factor’ here. It’s a good thing that as a marketer you have some artistic freedom. First, you should ask yourself about storage lockers to help you create fun content. Here are a few facts:

  • They come in various sizes
  • They are secure
  • Some are heated

Now you need to ask yourself what is fun about this? Think about a couple doing a cleanup. He sees the 6×8 storage locker as a great garage for his Harley. She figures out that she can store 1248 pairs of shoes in the box in the same space with a walkway down the middle for access! You’re on to something! During your weekly post you can add a fun fact about what you can store in various lockers. Shoes, bikes, garden gnomes, vinyl records, pillows, the possibilities are endless. This will create some fun for the viewer. The main purpose of this part of the corporate branding strategy is fun. Sure it’s nice to know that 1248 pairs of shoes or a Harley can fit into the same storage locker, but it’s not vital. Price, security, space and heating are important, but they aren’t fun. Garden gnomes are fun!

Create Remarkable Content eBook

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Simplicity = Fun

Once you tap into something fun the tendency will be to overdo it. You know what happens when something fun gets over complicated? It ceases to be fun!

Don’t do it!

It is very important that you keep the fun factor = to simplicity. You have selected your fun factor, in this case, ‘how many ? can fit in the storage unit’. Avoid the temptation to build a database of random objects and and locker sizes. That will be fun for only one visit, then the magic will be gone. On the other hand if you release one new Locker Fact per week, it will be fun and some will even return just to see what has been posted. The payoff will come when someone decides they need a storage locker. By creating fun content your clients product will be filed away in the publics’ brain in a positive, fun way. When they need a storage locker they will most likely call Fun Factor Storage first.

Silver ‘Re’ Cap

  • Create the fun. Sometimes it isn’t there to begin with
  • Keep It Simple Silly – Don’t overcomplicate
  • Create fun content (It’s worth mentioning twice)

More examples of fun content for snoozer industries can be found here in our free eBook shown above.

Social Media is a Conversation

 

Colin is the Social Media and Content Marketing guru at OTR Web Solutions a web development and content marketing company since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Hashtags on Facebook Can Make You Look Silly

Hashtags on Facebook Can Make You Look Silly

The other day I saw a Facebook Page status update that really made me wonder what the person was thinking. The status update went something like this (though I have changed it a bit so the writer doesn’t “unfriend” me) – #fabulous #weather for an #afternoon #function! #functioncompanyname helped with the #finishing #touches on two #today. #fabulousfunctions #localregion.

It is hard to know where to start on this post and reminds me of the early days of search engine optimisation (SEO) where a person would stuff the page full of keywords and the engines would dutifully pull them up. Do you remember web pages and meta tags like this, “Our Super-Duper SEO company will guarantee to get you on the first page of  all search engines  with our keyword tools and key-phrase enhanced meta tags. We submit your website to 1,000’s of search engines and build reliable back-links …” and on and on it went. The search engines got smarter and learned how to dismiss this rubbish but stuffing of keywords still pops up its ugly head – as we can see in the phrase above. 

There is a huge difference between a Twitter update and a Facebook status update. They are written to often different audiences for different purposes. Why a business would have their Twitter update post automatically to their Facebook Business Page is beyond me. You post to Twitter a number of times per day and that seems like a real good way to lose your Facebook followers who will soon feel like they are being spammed to death.



The hashtag is an effective way within Twitter to group ideas BUT the Tweet itself still has to be compelling to the reader! A well written Tweet captures the readers attention and directs them to an article, website or landing page.

For example you might write something like this for your Twitter account,” http://bit.ly/15YwRKt What if we were to start a conversation instead #inboundmarketing #SEO ” 

Here we have combined an effective key phrase that directs you to an article and makes use of hashtags for anyone searching within Twitter.

Facebook however is an entirely different post –   We all know that social media is vital to promoting products and services. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Pinterest, YouTube and so on, all provide different methods of delivering our message. The question is, are we doing it effectively? Are we just throwing up words on a page for people to read and then moving on to the next post by someone else, or are we grabbing the attention of the reader and beckoning them to be involved? Quite often I see social media being used by businesses as a form of advertising similar to print, TV, or radio. While this does get the message out on the web, it puts the ‘article’ in a box. It is closed.  What if we were to start a conversation instead?  https://www.facebook.com/otrwebsol

Social Media is important and is critical to SEO as well as and just as importantly as creating an ongoing relationship with your customers. Sure they have to find you but then they need to be compelled to interact with you as well. Contact OTR Web for an evaluation of your online marketing.

OTR Web Marketing Business Online

OTR Web – Marketing Business Online

 

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Social Networking will Market Your Business

Social Networking to Market Your Business

If you are in business and want to be successful,  then you cannot afford to ignore social networking via social media. With more and more people engaging in social media everyday, it is vital that you create, and be active on, accounts for your business. Properly run social media accounts can capture the attention of the people and businesses looking for your services on Facebook,  Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and so forth, and bring those people to your website. More qualified traffic to your website! Who doesn’t want that?

Not convinced that social media can help your business? Here are a few statistics:

  • 27% of total U.S. internet time and 15% of total U.S. mobile internet time is spent on social networking sites. (Experian)
  • Approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision.  (Nielsen)
  • Companies that generate over 1000 Facebook Likes also receive nearly 1400 website visitors a day. (Hubspot)
  • Twitter has 288 million monthly active users. (Global Web Index Study)
  • Facebook has 665 million daily active users and 751 million mobile users every month. (Global Web Index Study)
  • Google+ has 359 million active users monthly. (Global Web Index Study)

You May be Surprised at Who’s Using Social Networking

There are hundreds of millions of people logged on to social networks daily and they are not all under 30 as is a common misconception.  In fact, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook and Google+ is with people between the ages of 45 and 54. Facebook has grown 46% and Google+ 56%, according to a Global Web Index Study. The same study shows that Twitter is currently the fastest growing social network showing 44% growth from June 2012 to March 2013. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter you ask? 55 to 64-year-olds with a 79%  increase in active users over the same time period.

Social Networking is growing and expanding over all age demographics, which means that your target market is undoubtedly actively engaged on a social network.  They are searching for information on products and services that you could be providing for them. You can start by looking at the statistics and finding the social network most likely to contain the target market that uses your product. Start posting relevant, informative content and show your readers that you are an expert and are the natural choice. Social networking provides such a massive marketing opportunity. Where else can you pour out your knowledge, ideas, and personality to your target market?

What’s Your Best Plan of Attack?

Using social media to market your business is time consuming, but the potential ROI is too big to ignore. If you have the time and desire to do it yourself then great, go for it and have fun! If not, you may want to budget for hiring someone in-house. You never know, you may have a someone on your team who is an active blogger. If this is the case, count your blessings and change their job description. If you do not have someone like this on your team yet you understand that you need to get on the social networking train, but you don’t have the time then you may want to consider hiring a firm that specializes in online marketing – including social media. I bet you could find one entirely suitable on a social network! 😉

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As always your comments and opinions are valued and desired.

Colin is the Social Media and Content Marketing guru at OTR Social Media is a ConversationWeb Solutions a web development & content marketing company since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America. 

 

 

 

Targeted Content: Lock On

You’re on our way! You have started a blog and are posting regularly on topics that are relevant to your industry. You have upgraded your web presence to a responsive site. (Most people are using mobile devices these days to gain access to the web and will make buying decisions on their mobile devices). You did not want to miss the boat on that and have potential customers go with a competitor because of the lack of convenience with your web presence! You’ve got your “Calls to Action” and “Landing Pages”; you’re ready. But, ninety days go by and you are not seeing the results you expected. Why? The content is relevant to your industry which is great, but is that content being directed to the right person?

BUYER PERSONAS

We now need to create “Buyer Personas” and do so in an intentional manner. Buyer personas will help us write content that is more relevant to our specific clientèle – both current and future. We need to think of writing content the same way we would write a letter. The first thing we need to consider is: who are we writing to? It would be awfully difficult to write a good letter to someone when  we don’t know the first thing about them!

WHO IS OUR IDEAL CUSTOMER?

Who are they? How old are they? Are they married? Single? What is their income? Are they workaholics? We can ask all sorts of questions to create our fictitious customers. The more we ask, the better. All the questions we ask ourselves will help us identify these personas. After we establish who they are, we need to name them and even give them a picture. This will help us identify with them. We will view them all as people and thus treat them as such. Now what do we do with these personas?

SURVEY OUR PERSONAS

Now we need to find people who are unbiased and fit our profiles. We need at least 20. The more we get, the better our results. We need to make sure we’ve prepared a list of open-ended questions to ask them. Once we’ve gathered all the data on all our personas, we can begin sorting through it and discovering what our target market needs.

CREATE TARGETED CONTENT

We know who it is we want to sell our product to and what it is that they want!  We know who we are writing the letter to!  Now we can make sure our content speaks to them and satisfies their needs. Now that we’ve locked onto their needs as a customer, they will be more likely to seek us out when they are in need of the products and services we provide … because we are building a relationship with them. We understand them. Who doesn’t want to be understood?

SILVER ‘RE’ CAP

  • Who is our ideal client?
  • Are there several?
  • What are their needs?
  • Lock on and feed them targeted content.

Post comments and ask questions relative to your business and asSocial Media is a Conversation a community we can provide input and improve together.

Colin is the Social Media and Content Marketing guru at OTR Web Solutions a web development & content marketing company since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

If you have not yet moved to a responsive web presence  Read This Blog Post

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The Truth About Web Design

You are sitting with the IT Manager of a potential new client, they have been through your portfolio and like what they have seen and recognise that their website needs some professional help. This would appear to be a very good scenario and it is time to go in and close the deal. But wait the IT Manager just asked me what I thought of the corporate logo or the old website design? I had presumed that was why they had called us … because well it is brutal to say the least.

Like a lamb to the slaughter I tell the truth. The design is horrid and needs a complete rework and that is one of  the first places we will start in our brand exercise. There I have said it and I know the client will appreciate my professional honesty, except the look on his face tells me different. I just attacked his work, his baby he was the one that built this, this, what words can describe this brutal attempt at design! There is no place to go, backtracking is a waste of time and the meeting is rapidly coming to a close … but not the deal. No that deal is not going to close, at least with me.

You would think if you have done this once (and I have) you would never do it again! But alas sometimes you get so caught up in the honesty of the moment (and I have) that you forget and blurt out again how bad something is … and again go home without the deal in your pocket. Generally I presume it is not because you want to show the client how bad something is, but rather it is because you are so excited, as you know your team can make a very good impression and build something that works for the client.

Lessons learned in over 14 years in this business? First designers design, sometimes well and sometimes not so well, but for the most part they make very poor software coders. Second software coders write code and again sometimes well and sometimes not so well, but for the most part they make very poor designers. Third, it is probably best not to tell either group that generalisation to their face. It does not go over well.

Lastly and I know this so well from my years in the life insurance sales, a lifetime ago, when you know you have closed a deal and everyone is comfortable and chatting with their guard down … shut up!

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Web Errors That Will Cause Your Visitors To Bounce Away

I received a notification today from a company via one of the Social Media sites about some tech predictions for 2012. It was an interesting headline so I clicked on the link and waited as the page loaded line by line for this HUGE image to download. At first I thought maybe my connection was acting up so I reloaded the page and the same thing … the image loaded line by line and after 30 seconds I could see that I was only about 5% into the image.

I never did read the article, though I suppose it had loaded below the image. I just bounced away and proceeded to write this blog article. The worst part was these people advertised themselves as web developers and designers! You can expect to see a non-optimized image in a personal website or blog … but from a firm that says they are web designers? As I started to compose my rant it made me think there are other things that make us go hmmm when we get to a website. Following is a short list of things that can make your website visitors go hmmm and inevitably bounce away.

Spelling it boggles my mind to go to a web page and find it full of spelling errors. How is anyone going to trust that you can deliver what you promise if their first impression is hmmm? Spell checkers are available … take the time to use them and then check the results, as you don’t want to just accept the revised corrections or you can end up with some very strange words that are entirely out of place.

Wrong Words – My dear oldest sister, who was a very successful mortgage broker almost always used “loose” instead of “lose” … that one will lose me most every time. Too many times we see “to” used when “too” was the correct word or accept when except was the right choice. There are some things we just cannot accept, except occasionally these word errors can cause us to laugh. The list of incorrect word usage goes on and on and I am sure we could fill an entire blog with just such words.

Grammar – This will be short as my wife (the copywriter) is always correcting my writing and if/when she reads this blog she will ask me politely if I would like for her to “fix” it. Most times I do send through my posts to her first, but today she is out writing for a client so you are getting the raw copy! The bottom line is if you struggle with grammar then make use of someone to edit your writing. Check back here in a few days for the “finished” post. 🙂

Color or Colour Usage the spelling of which depends on whether you are north or south of the 49th Parallel.  We write on our OTR site that anyone can build a website and it is true, today most anyone can build a website. However building a website that works and creates a good first impression is another thing altogether. Glaring colours, movement everywhere, a page that is not balanced and unwanted sound are all things that cause the visitor to your web pages to go hmmm and add to a poor first impression of your business or service.

Images are critical to your website. While it is true that the search bots read words it is also true that the search bots do not buy your products or services. People perform that function. Careful selection, optimization and page placement of relevant images will make the interest of your page increase exponentially. Clip art, irrelevant images, non-optimized images, annoying flash or too much movement will all drive your readers away and cause another hmmm.

Social Media Integration – How many websites even today do you go to and there is no social media integration into their website? Communicating with fresh up to date content and building a relationship with your target markets is vital to your overall web success. A blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all valuable relationship tools and can be managed with Social Media Management Software from your desktop. A workable Social Media plan can be found here that you can integrate into your web presence.

Search Engine Optimization – Often we go to  a website and it looks nice and can even be designed well, but the all important SEO aspects have been left out. Some web designers will throw in a few keywords in the meta tag and think that is what is needed for SEO … there is a LOT more to it. Key phrase research, niche market research, local area search, content marketing, website architecture, copy that incorporates the key phrases in a manner that is readable. Each page having a purpose and a call to action … the list goes on.

We have barely touched what goes into a website that works, and by all means build your website yourself … just take the time to research and do it right. If however you have come to the conclusion that you neither have the time or the necessary skills to create a website that works, then contact OTR Web Solutions and we will work with you to build a site for your business … that works.

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.