Archive for February, 2020

Custom Intent Audiences – a powerful new way to target your audience with Pay-Per-Click ads

February 24th, 2020 by Vidhi Doshy

Launched by Google around mid-2019, and now available once you have upgraded to Google’s new Adwords Dashboard, the Custom Intent Audiences feature makes it possible for you to show your Google display ad to people who have indicated that they are interested in your product/service (rather than displaying to the whole world).

Paid Google Search Ads have always had one big advantage over Google Display Ads: intent. People only see paid search ads when they are actively searching online for a solution to a problem or an answer to a question. If your product or service answers their question or solves their problem (and you have set up your keywords right), they will hopefully see your ads, click and take action (aka ‘convert’).

Display Ads, on the other hand, are primarily used for brand awareness. That’s because, with display ads which are delivered on websites all around the ‘net (as opposed to just on the Google search engine results pages), your target audience isn’t looking for a solution to a problem they are reading someone else’s website. You’re hoping that they’ll notice your ad, realise that they have a need you can help them with, click and convert. To compensate, Display Ads can be configured in many different formats, including images of various sizes, a collection of images and videos. This is all aimed at getting the internet user’s attention.

Custom intent audiences, however, are Google’s attempt to make display ads much more relevant to the searcher. Google has previously attempted this via the use of Google Ad Re-marketing which causes your display ad to “follow you” around – this is possible by Google keeping track of which site you have been to, and presenting the ads related to that site in amongst other websites that allow Google to insert their display ads within their website. You mostly see display ads in websites such as news sites (e.g. www.theage.com.au), and marketplaces (e.g. www.gumtree.com.au, www.ebay.com.au), but you will also see display ads in amongst YouTube videos and mobile apps such as online games.

Instead of throwing ads up in a variety of places and hoping that with enough reach, a few people will respond, custom intent audiences help you put your ads in front of people who are actually looking to buy what you are selling.

Will Custom Intent Audiences Work for Your Organisation?
Ask yourself, what kind of websites will people primarily visit when they are actively looking to buy what I’m selling? While there are a lot of potential answers to that question – including forums, review websites, and other research sites ? an obvious place where people go when they are interested in your product is your competitors’ websites.
We expect targeting using Custom Intent Audience is a winning strategy because it allows you to target visitors who have visited your competitors’ website.

Since most people who are interested in buying what you’re selling are probably checking out the competition too, targeting your competitors’ website addresses is a great way to build a highly targeted custom intent audience. With custom intent audiences, you can create your own audiences based on keywords and URLs related to products and services similar to what you offer. In many ways, this is beneficial for small and large businesses, but especially if you are in a small niche where neither you nor the competition has a lot of website traffic.

We are now using this for our clients and getting great results – greater numbers of ad impressions, delivering more website visitors, and increasing the click-through rate.

A word of caution – custom intent audiences won’t work for everyone. If your offer is significantly worse than your competitor’s, for example. Or if the lead time for your product or service is very short e.g. emergency/instant services required.

If you would like to brainstorm how it can be used for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Adding Voice Control to your Mobile App

February 11th, 2020 by Ishan Geeganage

Allowing the user of your mobile app to instruct it via Google Voice Assistant or Siri is a great way of making it easier for your user to get on with their day, and get the answers or action they need to accomplish done quickly, or when their hands aren’t free or glasses nowhere in sight.

Access to Google Voice Assistant (Android) or Siri (Apple) are governed by the methods available to interact with these APIs, and that means voice control is constrained to very particular functions – although the available functions has been significantly extended since we last wrote on this topic back in 2016. Below is a list of the areas in which we can currently use voice activation / control:

Google Voice Assistant

Domain Supported Actions
Alarm Set Alarm
Set Timer
Communication Initiate a phone call
Fitness Start/Stop a bike ride
Start/Stop a run
Start/Stop a workout
Show heart rate
Show step count
Location Book a Cab
Media Play music from search
Take a picture
Record a video
Open Open URL
Open App
Productivity Take a Note
Search Search using a specific app

Siri

Domain Supported Actions
VoIP calling Initiate Call
Search the call history
Messaging Send Message
Payments Send payments.
Request payments.
Pay bills.
Search for bills.
Search for and view account information, including balances, points, and miles.
Transfer money between accounts.
Photos management Search for photo and show them in the app
Fitness activities Start, pause, resume, end and cancel workout
Ride Booking Book rides
Provide ride status information
CarPlay integration (not supported on watchOS) Activate and save a drivers setting
Change the cars audio source
Change the cars climate
Change the cars defroster settings.
Change the cars seat settings.
Change the cars radio station.
Vehicle integration Activate hazard light or honk the horn
Lock and unlock the doors.
Check the current fuel or power level.
List and Notes Create to-do lists and items.
Search for to-do lists and items.
Mark to-do list items as complete.
Create reminders based on a date, time, and/or location.
Create notes.
Search for notes.
Modify notes.
Media Search for and play music, audiobooks, and podcasts.
Like or dislike items.
Add items to a library or playlist
Restaurant Reservation Create and manage restaurant reservations
Visual Codes Show a visual code, like a QR code or bar code

In every main OS version release, we expect there will be new opportunities added into these services. This blog was written based on:

  • Sirikit support iOS version 10.0
  • Google Voice Action support version 21

It is also important to note that some actions can only be implemented in either Android or Apple, but not both e.g. search can only be carried out in your Android app not in your iOS app. In iOS you can scan a QR code with your voice, but in Android you cannot.

How is Voice Control added to my App?
In order to allow voice control of your app, the app must be programmed specifically to be accessible by voice control and particular Actions listed above. When a person downloads your app and installs it on their device, they must agree to voice control being allowed. Then when a voice command is received by your phone that relates to one of the domains & supported actions listed above, and which has a responding activity within your app, then the functionality of your app can be triggered.

What Can I Make My App Do After Receiving a Voice Command?
If your app wants to access any of the standard apps that can be controlled by voice, then your app can be programmed to interact with those standard apps upon receiving a voice command. For example, in your custom app, if you wanted to take a piece of content from that app and save it to a Note (in-built device app), that can be achieved using voice commands.

You can’t talk to your app about something entirely outside the voice controls mentioned above. For example, you can’t say “Hey Google, in >mobile app name< open my transaction history.”

In some cases, your app will ask for confirmation before taking an action e.g. making payments, confirming you would like to make a particular booking, and so on. This is to ensure that the voice interpretation has correctly understood your request.

What Happens if there are Multiple Options?
Just say your mobile app contains a search feature, and you want to allow the user to use a voice command such as “Hey Siri, search for xyz”. Simultaneously of course your phone will also have at least one other search application. When your phone receives a search command, it will then ask you which app would you like to use for your search: x or y? Once you have answered that question, your search will be performed via the selected app. Alternatively, you could ask “Hey Siri, search >mobile app name< for xyz”.

Can I add a Custom Voice Command?
You might be tempted to try and work around the limited number of voice commands currently available e.g. “oh, I will use the ‘Book a Cab’ voice command, and have that do something completely different instead”. Both Google and Apple check your app before publishing it in the app stores, and we expect that they will reject your app if it has been programmed in this manner. In addition, if your app is not in the category of ride sharing, your app will not be accepted if it contains voice controls in the Ride Sharing App domain.

If you are looking to add voice control to your app, let’s have a chat!

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When to Use a WordPress Multisite

February 3rd, 2020 by Pavithra Kameswaran

WordPress Multisites might sound a bit scary when you think of the potential issues that can occur with multiple websites being handled under a single umbrella with regard to setup, migration, updates, etc. But in reality, multisites are not that difficult to deal with once you understand the underlying mechanisms.

Often, it is assumed that a multisite is required when an organisation has multiple websites, or sites with similar design patterns, or multiple sites that differ only in content, etc. While it is true that for such scenarios we might use a multisite, it is not a mandatory choice. Such scenarios may be better served by individual single sites. In this article we will discuss when we should, and when we should not, utilise a WordPress Multisite.

So what is a WordPress Multisite?

A multisite is a collection of websites, with one primary website and the others being subsites, within a single instance of WordPress. Enabling the multisite structure within your WordPress website requires a small amount of configuration in order for it to be available, so you won’t see the option in a standard WordPress install.

With a multisite, you can allow the certain users to create subsites. It is up to the network administrator to configure which users can create websites, what themes and plugins are available across each newly created website, and how much control is given to each user.

The fact that a multisite means that the primary and all the subsites underneath it share the same WordPress codebase, allows the system administrator to update and maintain the site codebase in a single operation.

In general, a WordPress Multisite:

  • Has single point of top control.
  • Has a primary site.
  • All other sites are subsites of the primary site.
  • Has a super admin user (network admin) which will have control over all the sites.
  • Has a single instance of WordPress shared by all sites, thereby sharing plugins, themes and content.
  • Each site will have its own media content.
  • All subsites will share a common database, but will have their own tables as well within the database to contain their content.
  • The subsites can be setup as subdomains (e.g. subsite.mymaindomain.com) or sub-directories of the primary site, which can be mapped to another URL using a special Multisite plugin for this purpose.
  • All websites within the multisite will share the same IP address.
  • Registered users are shared across all sites (though not necessarily all having permissions for each site).

When to use a Multisite:

The following are common reasons to use a multisite.

  • In a logical sense, if your websites fall under a single umbrella, then it is best to setup as a multisite. For example, if your business has several locations or branches and each location needs to have its own subdomain or folder off your main domain, display different content but still pertain to the business overall theme and pattern, a multisite will be an efficient option.
  • Similarly, where an organisation requires separate websites per product, but wants to retain control of each of those websites in the one environment and set of users.
  • Having an organisation wide intranet, where individual divisions can setup their own intranet.
  • Having development and test sites within the one network, thus ensuring that the environment for both are identical.
  • For personal sites, where you want to have multiple personal sites within the one hosting and codebase.
  • You want to allow other users to create websites in your network.

Advantages

One advantage of a multisite is that all your websites are contained within the one web hosting account, saving you cost. However, a multisite will likely require more bandwidth and disk space than a single website, and therefore depending on your traffic and content, the hosting cost may not be too different from a collection of individual hosting plans. Shared hosting is not recommended for WordPress Multisites, and in fact some shared hosting platforms will not allow a multisite setup.

Another advantage is that once your WordPress theme is stable, it is easy to let another person create a new website employing that theme.

I believe the most important advantage of a multisite is that maintenance, upgrades, security, performance monitoring, etc. can be performed for several sites from a single point of access in one step, rather than needing to carry out these tasks over and over for each website.

When NOT to use a multisite:

  • If managing websites is the only concern, there are other automated tools such as Manage WP. You do not need a multisite for this reason, and in fact it could lead to issues.
  • If the sites are totally unrelated to each other, even though they share the same design, it is better to keep them as separate websites to allow flexibility with regard to the functionality available for each site, and to reduce the impact of any change across unrelated sites.
  • When each site needs to have its own IP address, you cannot use a multisite.
  • If the super admin is not comfortable dealing with the monitoring, configuration and maintenance of a multisite, which can get a little complex when you have several sites under the hood, a collection of individual websites will be easier for the admin to handle.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage of a multisite is that if the primary site is down for some reason, usually the other websites are down as well, and will need to wait for the primary site to be up and running again.


Deciding on whether a multisite is right for your purposes needs to take all the factors mentioned above into account. At Contactpoint we are happy to assist you in making that decision, and also helping you to maintain your WordPress Multisite. Please call or email to discuss your requirements.

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