Archive for the ‘electronic marketing’ Category

An Update on Search Engine Marketing (Pay Per Click)

July 22nd, 2019 by Heather Maloney

It’s been nearly a year since we blogged about pay-per-click advertising in the search engines (‘PPC’ e.g. Google Ads / Bing Ads). A lot has changed over that short time including a new name and a completely new user interface for Google Ads; this blog is intended as an update for business owners and marketing managers to help you keep abreast of what is possible, and the best way to approach search engine marketing.

search engine marketing changes in 2019

Most of the change is around the use of AI applied to the smart delivery of targeted ads, making the customisation of ads for mobile phones much easier to encourage more advertisers to display their ads on mobile, and additional control by Google to ensure positive customer experience.

Quality Scores
I’ve been involved in search engine optimisation (‘SEO’ – the art of achieving high ranks in the search engines for relevant, popular keyword searches) since the mid 1990s and organic traffic (people finding you through searchable content) has always been the #1 priority, and PPC ads the more costly way to get immediate website traffic while your SEO efforts grow your ranks over time. Naturally, the search engines, who only make money from paid ads, don’t see it that way.

Google changes the appearance of ads on a regular basis, and gives preference to the display of ads, all in the attempt to make money at the same time as delivering valid results for searchers. It is in Google’s best interest to ensure that not only are organic search results highly relevant to the searcher, but also the ads. Google want people to be just as willing to click on an ad as they are willing to click on a ‘normal’ search result. To that end, even if you want to pay over the odds to Google for your ad in relation to particular search terms, you may find that your ad isn’t being displayed. That’s because the destination of the ad – the landing page, or web page where the searcher ends up when they click – is now also assessed by Google in determining who to show your ad to. This is referred to as the ‘quality score’. If your ad is about treating back pain, and takes you to a web page that talks about exercise without reference to back pain for example, Google is likely to give your ad a low quality score and be less inclined to present the ad to searchers, and when your ad is presented the click cost will be higher (ouch).

What this means is that you must have high quality landing pages / ad destination pages which richly develop the intent of the ad, and the ads must include appropriate keywords that are reflecting in the landing pages, which brings us to dynamic ads.

Landing pages that are congruent with your ads have been important for a long time and has driven the trend of having your landing pages not only disconnected from your main website navigation, but also omitting your site navigation in order to focus the attention of the visitor only on the action you want them to take. This latest evolution is driving the use of 3rd party platforms which make it easier for digital marketers to setup dynamic landing pages, including sophisticated analytics around visitor behaviour.

Responsive Ads [and dynamic landing pages]
The latest overhaul of the Google Ad’s platform provides seriously sophisticated functionality for creating responsive ads – that is, ads whose content programmatically incorporates the search term entered by the searcher, from a set of search terms which you specify, and configures itself to the available space. A combination of 15 alternate headlines and 4 descriptions is possible. Using our back pain example, the responsive ad functionality allows you to create an ad which might have a headline of ‘Suffering from back pain’ or ‘Suffering from a sore back’ or ‘Suffering from a back injury’ all with the one ad i.e. you don’t need to create 3 ads to achieve this. Then, if the searcher types in ‘help with back pain’ your ad will appear as “Suffering from back pain”, or if they type in ‘recovering from a back injury’, your ad will appear as “Suffering from a back injury”. The descriptions in the content of the ads can similarly be filled on the fly to match the searcher’s intent as determined by AI.

To take this one step further, specialised landing pages can be configured to receive the search terms entered by the searcher, and then display those words in the appropriate place. Obviously you need to be careful when doing this to ensure that the dynamic content makes sense in all cases, particularly if you decide to add more keywords a few month’s later. But the end result is a much more relevant landing page, a higher quality score, and additional traffic to your site at a lower cost.

The ability to create responsive ads and content takes a bit of effort to setup, but means that you can create a lot more ads for less effort over the longer term, and achieve greater ad impressions, therefore more clicks, at a lower cost. It doesn’t however take away the need for greater copywriters, creative ideas and overall campaign strategy.

Ad Format
The available ad formats continue to evolve, and now includes:

  • Basic text-only ads.
  • Responsive ads – can insert text from a set of specified options matching the searcher’s search term, transform into text or image ads and automatically adjust size, appearance and format to fit space.
  • Image ads – static or interactive graphics, animated ads.
  • Image carousel ads.
  • Instream video ads – including vertical format ads specifically for people on mobile (you may need two versions), standalone video ads or inserted in streaming video content.
  • Product shopping ads – product photo, title, price, store name+ more details.
  • Showcase shopping ads – image and description that expands when clicked to show several related products and store information.
  • App Promotion Ads – drive app downloads and engagement with app promotion ads.

The ad formats available depends on your campaign type (search network, display network, search + display networks) and campaign sub-type (e.g. standard or all features).

Targeting
How we ensure ads are seen by the right people is continuing to evolve. In the Google Display Network (where websites show Google Ads, rather than ads as a result of customer searching) the placement of ads is much more a result of prior browsing activity and demographics (by users signed into Google) and less about their search terms.

Google’s “Exact Match” setting is no longer really exact … instead it works out intent using AI (read more about the dismantling of exact match over the years). This is a little annoying as taking that control away means that we are relying on the accuracy of the AI and ultimately Google wants you to spend more. It also means that the thorough use of negative keywords (preventing your ads from displaying when particular search terms are used) is even more important. We constantly review the search terms used to display ads, and extend the negative keywords list to prevent waste of our client’s ad budgets.

With Google’s significant improvement in targeting by audiences – whereby you load your known audience (customer database) up into Google and it then targets exactly those people with your ads, or builds matching audiences of similar people – due to it’s use of artificial intelligence, using this feature to target the right customers for your ads has become more useful. You can make the best use of this feature when you have a larger customer database, and when you know where each person or segment are in their buying journey, allowing you to present appropriate ads for each person. New demographics have been appearing in the audience settings including marital status, home ownership and the like, so we expect this area to continue to expand. Although the recent $5Bn fine against Facebook could slow things down in this area?

Many businesses use Google Ads primarily for top-of-funnel (prospects at the very start of a customer purchase journey) and then use other means to communicate with the new prospect such as email nurture programs. Not surprisingly, Google wants businesses to use Google ads all the way through the process. The use of Google re-marketing – presenting a similar ad to a person who has previously clicked on your ads and visited your website – is another cost-effective way to re-enforce your message with prospects, as these ads have significantly cheaper cost per click.

Bing have launched their own audience building feature this year, which is also AI powered across data collected from Bing searches, Skype, MSN and LinkedIn usage, and is not to be ignored for highly targeted campaigns.

Configuration
Setting up ad campaigns for mobile searches (more than half of all searches are carried out on a mobile phone) was previously cumbersome, requiring advertisers to create another set of ads just for mobiles. That’s changed with the new ad platform allowing the one ad, including ad extensions, to be customised within the one place for desktop and mobile.

Goal based campaigns allows the choice of the results you want to achieve – such as increased leads, greater brand awareness or higher conversions – and then Google will provide recommendations for campaign types that will perform best for you and your budget, and provides numerous automatic bid and placement optimisations. Again this is a result of their deepening use of artificial intelligence.

Whilst Google is giving us far more recommendations to use as we configure and optimise ads, sometimes these recommendations conflict; we don’t just follow these without careful consideration to ensure that they fit with your objectives.

Ad Extensions allow extra information to be shown as part of your ads. New ad extensions include Promotion Extension – the ability to include a price or special offer – thus enticing a visitor to click your ad instead of another.

Controls
Google is much more active in the assessment and banning of ads for all manner of legal and ethical reasons. We create ads with the best intentions in mind, include images, and then may need edit after Google has reviewed.

If you are using Click to Call style ads, the business name in your ads must now really be your business name, and mentioned in your IVR or by the person answering (sounds obvious, right … you would be surprised at how less-than-honest marketers have exploited this in the past). Interestingly, with the increase use of mobiles for search, Google removed the extra charge it originally levied on advertisers using click to call ads to provide metrics and reporting such as length of call (now a customisable setting to attribute as a conversion which previously not been tracked).

Summary
Due to the complexity of the ad platforms, increasing competition for organic search ranks, priority of the search companies to drive revenue through search, and the importance of the configuration on the cost of your pay-per-click ad campaigns, it is really important to keep a close eye on your pay-per-click ad campaigns. We work with our clients with pay-per-click campaigns in a variety of models, from strategic advice all the way through to full responsibility for creation and execution of ads. We can pick up your existing campaigns from where they currently are and improve them over time, or work with you to create your first ever pay-per-click ads.

We look forward to having a conversation.

But Wait! There’s More
We haven’t touched on You Tube ads in this article (also owned by Google). With the viewing of You Tube video continuing to grow, presenting video ads within You Tube is an option more organisations need to utilise.

Google does not stand still – it tends to roll out a major update to its ad platform every 6 months. Google has already announced the many new features coming to their ad platform which will likely be rolled out during the rest of this year. Many of these relate to search on mobile phones. Here’s a short list:

  1. A new type of ad – Discovery Ads – to appear in the new Google Discovery Feed app that mobile users are likely using on their phones. Discovery Ads, because they are interrupting people in a similar way to ads inside your Facebook Feed, will have strict quality constraints around them e.g. the requirement for unique (not stock) high quality images.
  2. Images inside search ads, but only on mobile, and only in the first place – this will be called a Gallery Ad.
  3. AI will be used to create interesting 6 second videos from original, up to 90 seconds in length.
  4. Deep links from ads to inside apps.
  5. Advanced bid strategies will allow you to exclude data considered by artificial intelligence when determining when to place ads e.g. particular spikes due to out-of-the-ordinary activities.
  6. Location based ads will start appearing in Google Maps search suggestions and while a user is use getting directions.

We look forward to exploring the use of these changes and more in the Google ads platform.

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Why Write a Blog?

July 10th, 2019 by Dave O'Dwyer

Everyone says you have to blog … but why? No one reads them anyway, right?

Sorry, but that’s just totally wrong. For many of our clients, their blog posts are the best ranking, and most visited, content of their website. If you don’t have an active blog, it is likely to be a significant missed opportunity.

why write a blog post

Why blog?
Here are the reasons why blogging is very important:

  1. Signals new content to Google.
    Google values fresh content because it wants to provide the latest and greatest content to people searching for solutions. Google can tell that a blog post is part of a blog (as opposed to a landing page or other regular page of your website) and more often than not will give your blog content priority over other types of content, because blogs are intended to educate, engage in conversation with visitors, and address a very specific topic or news event.
  2. Builds authority.
    Blogs help to build both domain authority (Google ranking your website as a source of valuable information on a topic), as well as credibility in the mind of the visitor. Being willing to publish on a topic means that you know enough about it to put forward your views. Customers are much more likely to invest in your product or service if they believe you know what you are selling, very well.
  3. Backlinks.
    Informative articles will be linked to by other websites, again signalling to Google that your content is of good quality and worthy of ranking highly in the search engines.
  4. You Own the Content.
    While pay-per-click ads and social media posts, both drive traffic to your website, their impact either requires ongoing payment, or disappears after a short period of time. The blog posts you write if picked up by Google, will be found and therefore deliver traffic to your site for many years to come, and can help you to “own the space” for particular search terms.

The most important aspect of a blog post is that it gives you the freedom to publish super targeted content, addressing the concerns, desires or needs of a very specific segment of your potential audience. Your blog can easily incorporate what is referred to by digital marketers as long tail keywords – phrases that are frequently used people trying to solve a particular problem. For example, if you are the parent of a young child you might search on “how to help my child give up their dummy?” A blog post that addresses this question can easily incorporate this phrase, and related phrases within the content of the article.

Blog posts also allow you to focus in on the intent of the person reading the blog, and help them move forward down the decision path or buyer journey, by taking the time to explain the problem, empathise with the reader, educate, and give alternative solutions.

If you tried to achieve such a detailed response to a specific question through the main pages of your website – particularly if you have a wide variety of solutions to many customer needs – your website would very quickly become cluttered.

Some examples of blogs we have developed for our clients include:

  • Handyman: a blog post on how to change bathroom taps can include more keywords and information than a general handyman services page.
  • Graffiti removal service: removing graffiti from wood vs removing graffiti from glass target different keywords and searches compared to general ‘graffiti removal’.
  • Surf Shop: a blog about how to care for your board, providing value to potential customers, who then become aware of the brand.

How to approach writing a blog
When writing blogs for our clients in order to generate additional, targeted website traffic, we perform the following tasks:

  1. Identify search terms being used by potential customers to solve a particular, relevant problem.
  2. Consider the demographics and other characteristics of the potential customer.
  3. Clarify how our client’s product / service can solve the problem, especially how they differentiate from competitors.
  4. Write a blog post, rich in the phrase/s commonly used by the prospects, empathising and educating at the same time. We are also careful to use an appropriate style of writing and tone of voice to match our client’s brand, and which will engage the target market.
  5. Include at least one call to action within the blog content. The same call to action is likely to be linked to more than once, to ensure that the reader doesn’t miss it, and has it close by when they are ready to act. Depending on what you are promoting and the likely length of the buyer journey, the call to action could be requesting more information, subscribing to receive future updates, requesting a sample, buying immediately, following you in social media …
  6. Incorporate design elements (images, video, headlines etc) into the blog post to keep the reader’s interest and make it more memorable.
  7. Receive client feedback.
  8. Finalise and post the blog.
  9. Share the blog post in social media and through email newsletters.

It’s important not to forget the final step of promoting the new blog post in social media. Sharing the post in your social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, make it easy for others to share on your content, which in turn will achieve greater reach. Google My Business now also allows you to post articles, again extending the reach of your message.

Writing a teaser to your blog post, and including that in the regular emails to your clients, ensures that your existing clients don’t miss your valuable content. Blog content is easily shared by readers due to the social sharing links that are normally included within each blog post (see below … hint hint!).

Don’t have time?
SME businesses are often fully occupied running their business, and don’t have the resources on a regular basis to write their own blogs. In this situation, we are very happy to help. A good place to start is making a list of the problems that you regularly solve and questions you commonly hear from prospects and new customers, then provide us with bullet points of your solution – we can take it from there!

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Latest trends in website design, and why …

January 22nd, 2019 by Heather Maloney

We have just undertaken the huge task of re-designing and re-building the Contactpoint website. Until last week, our website design was over 5 years old, which is ancient in web timelines, particularly for a web design & development company. Our previous website design was aimed squarely at indicating that we were working with the Windows Metro Tiles in our mobile app designs and builds. The Metro Tiles design style was fairly new at the time, which confirms just how old our site design was!

When you have a large website, with lots of historical content created as a result of hundreds of hours of investment, and when your site covers many areas of endeavour and really matters to the way your organisation is viewed in the marketplace, then refreshing your website is a significant undertaking.

Do you have the impression that your website looks a little out of date, but aren’t sure why? Are you wondering whether it is worth the time and resources required to refresh your website? In this article I will address both of these questions, and of course, I’d be very happy to discuss this questions with you if you need a sounding board.

Current Design Trends

First, let’s have a look at the latest design trends that you will be seeing in the newest websites, and some reasons behind those trends.

1. Cartoon / Hand Drawn images:

Latest design trends - illustrations

It is currently very popular to use illustrations, rather than photos, particularly in software-as-a-service or start-up technology company websites. Illustrations are helpful to convey new ideas without the constraint of a photo, and explain a new concept in pictures rather than lots of words. Similarly, we are also seeing much more use of hand-drawn, unique icons to help direct the user to the right information, and to solidify a point being made. The quirky and hand-drawn style of illustrations and icons make websites more friendly and engaging. You can see this in the icons used on the Yelp website and Slack website for example.

2. Lots of white/empty space providing separation of sections of content, also with less information per section. Both of these visual devices make it very easy for the visitor to take in the content, and focus on the key point/s. The new Firefox website shown above is also an example of this trend. This also makes mobile responsiveness easier, as you have less content to deal with on the mobile, however, it needs to be balanced against the impact on search engine optimisation; Google works out where your site should be ranked primarily on the content you include in your site, so you need to have significant amounts of content.

3. Animation of icons, logos and form fields. We won’t be going back to the days of flaming logos, however, with new programming libraries being created that facilitate easier, sophisticated animations using Javascript, animation is being more freely employed to:

  • provide visual cues to the visitor to suggest interaction points
  • gain the attention of the visitor to more important parts of the site
  • provide a delightful user experience

For a beautiful example of an animated logo, check out: Fubiz (you need to wait first for the whole site to download, and the logo animation doesn’t run constantly so you might need to be patient). The Myer website currently employs an animated logo to emphasise the “My” in Myer matching their TV advertising slogan. The Ikea website uses an animated icon to highlight information about their parcel delivery service.

4. Use of video. Like animation, video grabs the attention of the visitor, and provides for deeper engagement with your audience. The use of drones to create unique footage is also continuing to drive the popularity of video, as seen in the home page element of the new Brighter Lines website.

Video is increasing being used in more subtle applications – backgrounds that automatically play in order to add atmosphere to your website without requiring the user to focus on and listen to audio at the same time.

5. Design for mobile. This is not so much a new trend, but designing for a great experience on mobile devices has become even more important with Google’s recent change to “mobile first” for ranking of websites, whether you are searching via your mobile or not. Not only does your website need to look great on very small screens (and every other size) it must also be very fast to load on mobile.

6. Headings, Headlines and Buttons. Examples of the latest trends in headings, headlines and buttons are shown below. These trends are partly about fashion, but also strive to make text shorter, and calls to action, very clear and obvious. They are used to take the visitor down the desired path.

7. Typography. Choice of fonts has become more important with Google making it easier to incorporate a unique font into your website, without sacrificing load speed or readability. The font used in your website will be focused on ease of reading on screen which is why sans serif fonts dominate. Large fonts, and capitalised headings, are used widely, as shown in the examples above. The space between lines and paragraphs are carefully chosen for readability and aesthetics.

8. Cards, tiles and panels. Google’s Material Design was launched in 2014, incorporating flat design – predominantly solid, strong colours – bringing to digital design the concept of surfaces with edges that guide the user, but can extend based on interaction due to the digital nature of the surfaces. “Cards” and tiles with subtle drop shadows, becoming more pronounced on hover, help to focus the visitor’s attention as well as provide subtle interactivity with your website. Google also provide programming language around the elements of their design system to assist in their implementation. Cards and panels are usually implemented in a grid system, which aids mobile responsiveness. An example of cards implemented by CodePen.io is shown below.

Reddit and other news style sites use this design element extensively.

9. Asymmetrical Designs As a break away from the extensive use of grids and boxes, asymmetrical designs are becoming more frequent. The Cloco website is a great example of asymmetry. Our new Contactpoint home page – custom technology Melbourne with angled background sections are an example, leading the visitor’s eye to want to keep scrolling down to see what comes next.

10. Hardware driving design trends. For mobile app design, the iPhone X requires special treatment due to the “notch” cut out of the top of the display and the introduction of “Super Retina” display. The digital screens now surrounding stadiums such as the MCG and inside the Rod Laver Arena, also drive design changes as they extend the boundaries of what is possible, and increase expectations of viewers.

The above is not an exhaustive list of all the design trends you will be seeing on the web, but it will certainly help you to pinpoint why your site might be looking a little old compared to newer sites.

Why is it important to keep up with design trends?

If you are not in the fashion industry you might question why you need to try and keep up. Certainly, we are not planning to change our website design every time something new hits the web. However, the design of your website, and all your marketing material on and offline, is a powerful indicator of who you are, and who you serve.

The following are important reasons why you might consider a design refresh:

  1. Fashion. There are those who make up the numbers of the “standard deviation” (the outliers who like to start new trends, or go off grain) and then there is the majority; people behave in a tribal way, following the trends of the tribe or group of people with whom they want to identify. The concept of Tribal Marketing asserts that when the trends and look of the tribe that your organisation serves moves, you need to move with them so that you are still recognised as being part of the group and serving that group.
  2. Keeping up. The desire to keep up with the latest and greatest, or not miss out, is a strong drive. Looking outdated can be a signal that your products and services are also not up to date. Depending on your industry, falling behind can mean losing competitive advantage or missing out of value available to others.
  3. First Impression. Research has shown that website visitors make a judgement call about who you are in a fraction of a second. Having a good first impression via a strong website design is important to keep a prospect on your site long enough to find out more about your offer.
  4. Improvements in experience. Most of the design trends described above are not just about changing for the sake of fashion; the changes are part of constant improvement to help guide the people you serve, and want to serve, to action, and communicate your most important messages more clearly.
  5. Communication. Getting your message across – all of your message – can be delivered so much more effectively through design and visual elements, compared to all the words it would take to deliver the same message. The other side of this coin is that your design might be communicating messages to your visitor that you aren’t intending, especially if it has been the same for a long time.

We understand all the steps involved in designing a new look site that appropriately reflects your organisation and positions you correctly for your target audience, and then building your new site to achieve the greatest engagement of your visitors. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your website or web application design.

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The Latest Email Campaign Design trends

January 18th, 2019 by Heather Maloney

Design trends are a favourite topic for discussion at the start of each year. However, what is possible in the design of an email campaign is significantly constrained by email programs used by the recipient (or at least, the lowest common denominator of email clients). Email design must also ensure a great experience for those reading on a mobile phone, as well as a desktop computer; as of June 2018, 46% of all emails are opened on a mobile phone(1).

Emails from major brands continue to be highly designed, and consist predominantly of all images. It seems that the major brands expect that their customers will open and download the images so that they can actually see the email, without any further encouragement. Less popular brands and professional organisations, however, would be well advised to intermingle images with text and colour blocks that appear without image download, to entice the recipient to read with more than just the sender’s name and subject line.

One of the most popular design trends in emails is including animated gifs to entice curiosity and therefore click through to the organisation’s website. Animated gifs can also be used to better explain concepts inside an email; a picture tells a thousand words. Because you want the animation to surprise and delight, using them in every email you send runs the risk of becoming predictable, so mix it up.

It is also important to note some difficulties with animated gifs inside emails:

  • Unfortunately Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013 do not support animated gifs, and will show the static version of the animation by presenting the first frame of the animation. That means you need to include all the important information in the first frame, to cater for the high percentage of users still using these versions of Outlook (approximately 8% of the global population).
  • Many frames and complex animations will cause your images to get very large, very quickly. So you should stick to very simple animations.
  • It takes more design skills to create great looking animated gifs, compared to a single static image.
  • Accessibility for the visually impaired can also be an issue. Consider slowing down rapid frame rates, depending on the image.


(image courtesy of Review Australia email)

Including live content in the body of your email – think live results from a poll, count down to the end of a sale or ticket availability, latest content shared by other customers, current weather, something happening close to the location of the opener. Live content is information that is updated when the recipient opens your email. This tactic, if used to provide richer, more relevant experiences for your reader (not just used as a gimmick) will significantly increase the engagement of your audience and possibly aid in community building, and will cause an increase in the number of times that an individual opens the same email. Live content is being seen increasingly in social platforms e.g. Facebook Live where users are streaming video from an event. Live content is also a tactic that you will want to make careful use of, as it can backfire if the live content rarely changes, is of poor quality, or is uninteresting.

The use of live content is likely part of a cross-channel marketing campaign. For example, a physical event, involving sharing of content online, with online ads pointing to the website, and an email campaign promoting the event before, during or after. This trend of co-ordinated marketing across multiple channels has been a goal for marketers over many years, but made difficult by disparate systems. As technology integrations proliferate some of these difficulties are being removed, and the end consumer is seeing the same message in more places, with great effect. Delivering a co-ordinated marketing campaign across multiple platforms – ads, website, emails, offline marketing – requires a lot more design effort and co-ordination across multiple teams in larger organisations, but will produce significantly better results than a message only distributed in one channel.

If you would like help to use any of the above trends in your email marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

(1) https://litmus.com/blog/email-client-market-share-trends-first-half-of-2018

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The Evolution of the Tech Behind Digital Marketing

October 2nd, 2018 by Dave O'Dwyer

Google recently celebrated its 20th birthday. Over it’s short lifetime it has become an indispensable tool that millions of people rely on everyday. Can you imagine life without Google?

Digital marketing has also developed in capability over the past 20 years. Once it was enough to simply have website, and perhaps a well-placed banner ad. However technology and consumer expectation has evolved, and there are a multitude of new ways to reach consumers.

Targeting.
You might think of Google as a search engine, but at its core, Google is the world’s most effective advertising platform.

Have you ever wondered how Google (or Facebook etc) manage to show you ads that are startlingly relevant to your needs? They use thousands of data points on every single one of us to help target the best audience for advertisements. Just like your Facebook stream is personalised to you, so are the ads you are shown on Google, based on your search and browsing history.

For advertisers it can be quite cost effective to advertise on these platforms, as your ad is only being shown to the audience you’ve selected, and that the platform calculates is most likely to respond to your ad. With Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) you only pay when a user responds to your ad, minimising wasted budget on uninterested people.

People use Google when they are hunting for a solution to a need. They are often ready to act, so ensuring your product or service is displayed is critical to marketing your business these days. Underneath the paid ads are the organic search results – the best ranked matches for a search. This is why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial for most businesses online. You need to be there when the consumer is ready to act, and SEO is the craft of optimising a website to rank as top answers to valuable consumer questions.

Personalisation.
Do you have a mailing list signup on your website? Perhaps you send an email every month or so, keeping your customers up to date with your business.

No longer is it enough to send out a general email newsletter to all your subscribers. Consumers expect advertising and messaging to be relevant to their needs and interests. Have you ever bought clothes online? You’ve no doubt received follow up email campaigns that showcase other items you may like to purchase, based on what you have browsed and purchased before.

Their digital marketing platform tracks not only what you purchase, but also what you’ve looked at and added to your cart, and uses that data to build a profile on you in order to send an individual email – just for you. This is dynamic personalisation and email marketing automation, and it’s a core part of modern digital marketing.

However it doesn’t end there. You may go back to the website, and the homepage banner is also relevant for you, and other users who are part of your segment.

A segment is a collection of people that fall under a certain category – gender, age, time since last purchase – there are endless ways we can use data to make offers and messaging more relevant. In fact, segmenting your data is the best way to help keep a positive return on investment for a digital marketing campaign. Your aim is to send the right offer, to the right person, at the right time, at the right price.

Retargeting.
Perhaps you’ve looked at a product in a website but didn’t purchase. Sometimes, ads for that product seem to follow you around the internet – on other websites and social media, or you might receive an email reminding you to complete your purchase. This is called retargeting.

Retargeting is a very effective way to help persuade consumers who have shown interest, but haven’t yet purchased, or taken action. Because the re-targeting is only advertising to visitors that have already shown some interest, it keeps the costs down and the conversion rate up, leading to excellent return on investment for these campaigns.

The always on generation.
That phone in your pocket is more than just a device for phone calls. It’s your 24 hour portal to the internet. As this has become the standard, consumers also expect businesses to cater for them at all times of the day.

So how do you handle this expectation? A recent trend has been the introduction of helper chat popups on websites that can answer consumer questions at any time of the day. These popups can provide customer service using pre-populated answers, or alert you if a potential customer has a query. They are cost effective and can help convert visitors to customers by enabling excellent, on demand customer service.

As technology advances, so does the way we do business online. Above are just a few of the recent trends in Digital Marketing. If it’s been a few years since you have had your site built, or tried a digital marketing campaign, call us today on 03 8525 2082 to arrange a free consultation in order to assess your business needs, and determine cost effective digital marketing strategies that can make your business stand out online.

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Digital marketing … for those who started business more than 5 years ago

September 29th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

If you started your business more than 5 years ago, you could be forgiven to believing that online marketing was something to try out if you had a bit of spare marketing budget. Times have changed. Over the last few years, the reality of digital marketing for small business has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have for most businesses. Consumers are more connected than ever before, and their default behaviour when looking for anything ? products, services or information ? is to grab their mobile phone and search online. Even word of mouth has gone digital; recommendations happen across social media, and online reviews can have a significant impact on your business.

Bottom line: digital marketing is more important now for small business than ever before.

We have many clients for whom we have carried out digital marketing across a wide range of platforms and strategies, many of which achieved significant increases in new business enquiries or sales. Some of our clients now receive the majority of all their incoming work through digital marketing channels.

That’s not to say that word of mouth is unimportant; it’s simply that digital marketing provides you with immediate results and a wider reach at a lower cost.

However, it is very possible to implement digital marketing poorly, and therefore not achieve the results you are seeking. That’s often why we are engaged by our clients to design, write, execute and manage digital marketing for them.

Digital marketing can have a bit of a bad reputation. Unfortunately, there are many less scrupulous service providers who use digital marketing tactics to grow their own business and then fail to deliver tangible results for their clients. Even worse, they use tactics to “game” online platforms like Google for short term gains but ultimately end up with the client being penalised.

At Contactpoint, we take an end-to-end approach to digital solutions for our clients, and digital marketing is just one part of it. It’s our holistic approach that helps us deliver real results for clients, as we take the time to discuss our client’s business needs and only then recommend an approach for digital marketing that can deliver results. We never recommend the latest digital marketing technology just because it’s flavour of the month, nor will we cheat the system to get the quick results.

Just one example of our success in delivering digital marketing results for our clients is Nortan; providers of air conditioning and heating service and installation. Via a range of activities including a great mobile responsive website, pay per click advertising and SEO, Nortan are kept very busy all year round with new incoming leads, and have grown their business significantly over the time we have been providing digital marketing services. In fact, from time-to-time Nortan ask us to pause their digital marketing campaigns, because they are too busy with new work! What a good problem to have!

Nortan heating and cooling services

We work very closely with our clients to ensure that the level of business digital marketing campaigns produce are manageable.

If you would like to revisit your use of digital marketing to grow your business, please feel free to call Heather Maloney for a chat.

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The What and Why of Inbound Marketing

June 26th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

Inbound marketing (aka ‘permission marketing’) refers to the strategy of attracting leads for your business via company-created digital content. That content addresses the needs which your products or services fulfil or problems which they solve, resulting in the right people (those trying to solve that problem or fulfil the identified desire) approaching your organization, and working their way through your material in order to self-select or qualify themselves as a potential customer.

So, inbound marketing is a strategy. You need to assess whether it is a strategy that is suitable for your particular business and marketplace.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

Why Inbound Marketing?

Because everyone hates being sold to … it’s that simple!

When was the last time you were on the end of a cold call, and you thought “oh yes, why not spend the next 15 minutes listening to this offer about why I should switch electricity companies?” And even if you have engaged in such a phone call lately – perhaps to the person from a very worthy charity, rather than the electricity provider – did you end up buying / donating or just wishing them a nice day?

If you are in sales, and you only have to talk to people who are already in the market for your products / services, your job is so much easier.

Inbound marketing the focus is on providing help or value, rather than making a sale. The sale will come as a natural result of providing value and solutions.

Inbound marketing also addresses the new buyer behaviour that we have seen evolve over the last decade; customers carrying out personal research and practically making the decision with regard to what they want to buy, before they ever talk to a vendor. Also, with the proliferation of paid TV, many more free to air channels, internet radio, and free video content, ensuring that a more traditional advertisement is seen or heard is a lot more difficult. This article provides many statistics showing how effective inbound marketing can be compared to outbound marketing.

Please note, I am not saying that traditional marketing no longer works … I heard a presentation from a career telemarketer just last week, explaining the benefits of lead generation via cold sales calls. You need to ensure that your choice of marketing strategy is right for your market and your ideal customers.

Fleshing out your Inbound Marketing Strategy

If you decide that an inbound marketing strategy is right for your organisation, then you need to:

  1. Plan the content you are going to create in order to solve your prospects questions and engage them in their journey of discovery, building trust in your organisation, and desire for your products and services.
  2. Determine which tools or platforms you will use to make your content accessible to prospects.
  3. Create the content!
  4. Disseminate the content and make it easy for people to find, and/or pay for traffic.
  5. Measure and analyse the results, improving the content over time.

Clearly implementing an inbound marketing strategy requires effort and co-ordination of a variety of activities. Utilising a team of resources will help you implement more quickly. Tools such as a content calendar will help you to plan out the creation and distribution of your content in a logical manner.

Which Tools should I use?

Inbound marketing = making your marketing material extremely accessible so that your prospects can easily find the answers to their questions or solve their problems (i.e. find your products or services), when they are actively looking. Your content must add value, and guide prospects for whom your products and services are a good fit, towards the point of purchase. Some people will be in a hurry and will purchase immediately that they find a solution, so being able to buy from any piece of your digital content is important. Other prospects will take their time, evaluate multiple options, test you out, and then finally purchase days, weeks or months down the track. For such buyers, your content needs to educate and build trust.

The following tools are useful in implementing an inbound marketing strategy:

  • Search engine optimisation (‘SEO’) – this activity is very important for ensuring that your digital content ranks above other organisations competing in the same space. Over time you want to “own the topic”, that is, be on the first page of results for every search on relevant words or phrases. SEO obviously needs content in order for search engines to point somewhere. The following types of content will deliver high ranks in the search engines the mostly quickly:
    • Blogs – either a blog on your own website, or blogs published on other popular websites, pointing back to your website.
    • Videos – most commonly distributed via YouTube, giving you access to people searching through this video search engine.
    • Reviews – usually in 3rd party platforms such as Google Reviews. However, they can also take the form of testimonials in your own website, including video reviews.
    • Website content – including online courses, guides, survey results, reports and research, white papers, diagnostic tools.
    • Press releases – often distributed via dedicated PR sites.
  • Pay-per-click advertisements (‘PPC’) – whilst this might sound like traditional outbound marketing, because you can configure your ads to only appear in response to searches for specific keywords or phrases by people located in a particular region, PPC ads can be very useful for bringing visitors to your website who are trying to solve a particular problem. PPC is very useful for bringing in immediate readers of your content while you are waiting for your organic ranks (SEO) to improve. Google Adwords and Bing are the main two platforms for PPC ads, because they are the most used tools for searching for answers to problems. PPC ads must be supported by dedicated content on your website, also called ‘landing pages’. People who click on your ad will arrive on your landing page. To get the best return on your investment in that click (you are paying per click), it is important that the content delivers on the ad, and then takes the visitor along their journey of [hopefully] deciding to buy from you.
  • Social media – people talk about topics on social media, as well as talking about their lives. Find where topics related to your products and services are being discussed, and then get involved in the conversation. Posting your own content in your social media accounts will also help people to find your content when they search for it in the social media platforms ? most social media platforms use hashtags (#) for helping people find content on a particular topic.
  • Social media advertisements – this is PPC within social media platforms. The difference is that for some of the social media platforms, you can configure your ads to only show for people who match very specific demographics.
  • Email and SMS marketing – once people have identified themselves as actively seeking to solve a problem or fulfil a desire, hopefully for your product, they may subscribe to receive future email and SMS messages from you. To inspire visitor opt-in for email / SMS there must be compelling value contained in your digital content. Often your blog content and other website content will be pushed to subscribers in a logical manner.
  • Marketing automation – tools which automatically send a choreographed series of content to subscribe to learn more about your products and services. The more sophisticated of these automation tools will start and stop the delivery of your content, based on the manner in which your prospect is interacting with your content.

One of the great advantages of digital marketing tools is that they enable you to measure the interactions of people with your content, and identify where visitors are dropping off. This can help you to improve your content and marketing process over time, and therefore increase the rate of conversion of visitors to paying customers.

As part of our digital marketing services we would be delighted to help you determine whether an inbound marketing strategy is right for your organization, define and plan your strategy, create the required content, implement, and analyse the results.

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Why Rebrand?

March 27th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

image-rebranding-squareThe visual identity (aka ‘logo’) of the Contact Point brand has just been updated, so the reason why businesses rebrand is top of mind. We are rebranding and have updated our logo for several reasons including:

1. To communicate our purpose more clearly
2. Modernise
3. Be more memorable

The Contact Point brand was established nearly 11 years ago. The visual identity of our brand comprises a hand-drawn asterisk; the idea was that if you were looking at a list of suppliers, you’d mark the one you wanted to contact with an asterisk. My Gen Y colleagues look at me blankly when I talk about written lists, and marking one with an asterisk. And let’s face it, we’re a technology company, so what place does written lists have in that? Time for a refresh!

Our business aim is to partner with our clients to help them be the contact point in their industry, by using the best technology solutions and digital strategies.

Our new logo contains a C, a dot / point in the centre, and a circle surrounding it which work together:
– To be easy to recognise.
– The outer circle reflects both the global nature of our work, as well as the team it requires to deliver.
– The overall logo is also reflective of a target. Our clients have goals that we assist them to achieve, and we are about making them the target – the contact point – of the right customers.

We would love your feedback re: whether you feel that our new visual identity successfully achieves the above goals. Stay tuned for our new website design which will better incorporate the new logo, as well as bringing the user experience up to date.

Other common reasons for rebranding include:

4. Change in purpose
Often such a change means that the brand no longer supports the organisation’s purpose.

5. Reaching new markets
New markets usually comprise people with different demographics, pain points, ways of communicating, and perhaps culture. A new brand may be required to better engage with that new target audience.

6. Consolidating multiple brands
Mergers and acquisitions usually combine brands that clash with one another. A rebrand in this situation will help the organisation to present a consistent message to the market.

7. Changing the name
A new name obviously requires a new brand when the visual identity is tied to or incorporates the original name. Imagine if Coca Cola changed their name (not likely given its value!). Their brand would most definitely need to change.

We regularly assist our clients with creating new brands, or refreshing their brand or visual identity. Feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss this for your organisation.

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Consumer Decision Journey – throw out the Sales Funnel model!

November 8th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

image-consumer-decision-journey
As the creator of a broadly used email and SMS marketing solution (eNudge) for the Australia marketplace, I thought that over the years I would see a general improvement in the way email marketing campaigns were constructed and delivered. I’m sad to say that on the whole, nothing much has changed. eNudge provides a myriad tools to help you segment, target, automate, measure and analyse, but it’s in the execution where many people fall down. Business owners and marketers get busy, and then just flick off a quick email to get a spike in sales. They are content with a spike and move on.

However, I know there is a better way … there always has been. Many marketers refer to it as lead nurturing, and email campaigns (including the eNudge Message Series functionality) are an excellent way to nurture your leads. For many years, marketing personnel have been working with a Sales Funnel model in mind – a linear movement of a potential buyer through awareness, interest, desire and finally action (buy). Lead nurturing refers to understanding where your lead is in the sales funnel, and give them the next piece of information that they need to take them to the next step in the journey; the next step closer towards being ready to buy.

I could be placated if I saw email marketing being used more for lead nurturing … more value and information being supplied, in a logical flow, engaging with potential buyers and taking them down a path to understanding and trusting you. However, thoughts even on lead nurturing have moved on …

The changing landscape of information availability via the internet including the impact of social media, and more recent research into buyer behaviour, suggests throwing out the sales funnel model and replacing it with what is being called by McKinsey as the “Consumer Decision Journey“. McKinsey research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: 1/ consider, 2/ evaluate, 3/ buy, and 4/ enjoy, advocate, bond. During stage 2 (evaluate) where the Sales Funnel approach says the the options get narrowed down, this in reality is where the brands most active online often replace the brands that were in the original consideration list (perhaps added to the list because of traditional advertising). The consumer’s options actually expand during this phase and the originals often get thrown out where there isn’t enough information online or customer reviews to support them.

Even more critical in what is being seen now in consumer behaviour, McKinsey discovered that during the 4th stage (enjoy-advocate-bond) more than 60% of consumers conduct online research about the products after purchase – a touch point entirely missing from the sales funnel approach. It is during this after purchase where your customer will advocate for your product or service by word of mouth, and produce online content to help future consumers in the consider and evaluate phases.

Other recent research by the Harvard Business Review team has shown that achieving the “full” sale to a B2B client is best achieved by providing the opportunity for that client to purchase small prototypes or incremental products along the buying journey i.e. as part of the evaluate stage. For more about this read: “To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time“.

It was no small task, but the Harvard Business Review article describes an example implementation of changing the view of marketing to that of the ‘Consumer Decision Journey’ lead to a new TV becoming the top seller on Amazon.com and the company’s best performer in retail stores, far exceeding the marketers’ expectations.

To ensure that your product or service is not thrown out by prospects during the Evaluate phase of the consumer journey, and to help new customers to Enjoy, Advocate and Bond:

  1. Make sure your product or service is present online, not only in your own website, but also in comparison sites and marketplaces (for B2C) and online communities (for B2B)
  2. Foster online reviews of your products and services via social media and 3rd party websites
  3. Provide rich and easily accessible information online for people who have already purchased your product or service to help them get the most out of it
  4. Introduce new ways to inspire existing customers to refer their friends and colleagues to you – think DropBox who give away additional storage space for referring business

Your email marketing activities should assist you with with each of the above. Email campaigns should be created specifically for new customers and should point to additional online resources, and specifically ask for reviews or feedback. Email campaigns to your wider database should reference case studies and additional information available to help prospects in the evaluate phase.

If you need help with:

  • creating incremental or prototype products to sell to your clients as they evaluate,
  • creating additional online content,
  • making your online content more engaging,
  • ensuring you have a vibrant social media presence,
  • ensuring your product or service can be found easily online (SEO), or
  • creating email marketing campaigns that engage,

don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We are passionate about helping businesses to grow using online technologies.

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UI UX Design Trends in 2016 and beyond

June 14th, 2016 by Chris Torralba

image-ui-ux-design-trends
A Google search of the definition of ‘user experience’ returns: the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

The definition of user interface is the means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular the use of input devices and software.

Clearly user experience is significantly impacted by the user interface design, but it is also affected by text content and process flow. The overall aim is the creation of websites and apps that provide unique and clean designs, communicating clearly with the user, which not only attract users, but make them want to come back. User interface design uses typography, colour and layout to create the best possible user experience. Below I have described 7 user interface design trends that contribute to a great user experience and which I expect will be very popular this year and beyond.

#1 Responsive Design

Responsive design takes a website and re-arranges and resizes certain elements to display better depending on the size of the screen being used to view the content. With the enormous uptake of mobile devices for internet browsing, responsive design is becoming less of a trend and more of a common practice when it comes to web design. Last year Google announced that mobile responsiveness will affect a websites rank in search results, making responsive design a must have. “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” You can read more about this announcement in our previous blog post: Mobile Responsiveness just became even more important for high ranks in Google and you can read more about responsive design techniques.
image-responsive-design

#2 Flat Design

Flat Design is a minimalistic approach in designing websites and user interfaces where all 3D elements, gradients, shadows and other effects are stripped away. Flat design is about allowing the content to speak for itself. By removing unnecessary styling, it makes for faster loading pages, simpler code, and adaptability. Whether viewed on a desktop or on a mobile screen, flat designs are always legible and adaptable.

Below are some examples of flat design icons.
image-flat-design

#3 Material Design

A few years ago Google introduced Material Design which is a design philosophy, or more simply put, a style guide for designers to follow. The name “Material Design” is a metaphor for physical materials (such as paper) which have thickness and are impacted by light sources such as directional light and ambient light, and content which is placed upon the materials. The style guide seeks to apply the rules of physics to the way material is depicted in designs, and the way content is placed upon it. Based on these guides, the goal of Material Design is to allow a unified experience across all platforms and devices. It breaks down everything from colour palettes, font choices, spacing, and animation. Just like flat design, Material Design is also content focused. The popularity of this minimalistic design approach will continue to increase as it makes a website or an app look cleaner and load faster by taking out unnecessary elements.

You can view Google’s complete guide to Material Design here.
image-material-design

#4 Card Style Layouts

Card style layouts for mobile and desktop websites are boxed pieces of content that looks like it is featured on a playing card. Card style boxes typically hold one unique piece of content or information. The Card style layout is a great way to organize large amounts of content. It is highly functional and can be easily integrated with responsive layouts; designers can add and collapse columns of cards to fit the shape and size of the screen. Card style layouts have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years and developing together with other techniques such as responsive design and flat design.

Below is an example of a website designed by Contact Point which uses card style layout. Read more about in our Henry Langdon website case study.
image-card-style-layout-2

#5 Dramatic Typography

Today’s minimal and streamlined web and app designs allow typefaces to be more dramatic and have stronger impact. With free type kits like Google Fonts, designers and developers are able to use fonts that look great on all screens.
image-typography

#6 Large Background Images & Videos

One way of making a website stand out is by having great imagery displayed prominently. Large background images and videos can help engage users more; it is captivating and focuses attention on the content. With browsers supporting HTML5 video, increased bandwidth, the popularity of background images and background videos on websites will grow even more.
image-large-backgrounds 2

#7 Greater Use of Animation

When used in the right place and at the right time, animations can truly enhance a users experience and it can convey a message more effectively. Well executed animations can help guide and offer context to the user. Conversely, too much animation or transitions can disrupt the flow and distract the user from an otherwise good digital experience.

The Mollard website designed by Contact Point using parallax techniques is a great example of the use of animation.
image-animation-2

Let me know if there are other UI / UX design trends which you believe I’ve missed!

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