August 24, 2016

In the news ... August 24, 2016

Google will punish sites that use annoying pop-up ads

Google is about to deal a small blow to some of the most annoying ads on mobile: pop-ups and interstitials. It’s not a stretch to argue that readers don’t like these ads. So Google is making a call that websites that use pop-ups and interstitials are worse search results and may rank them lower because of it.

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 Marketing Trends for 2016 – Will we be in a post-digital era?

Our look at the latest trends in digital media and technology and how they will impact marketing this year

At the start of each year, there is always a lot of interest in predictions for the year ahead and the latest marketing trends."What's Hot?" and "What's Next?" are always the most common questions when I give webinars and talks! As we near the end of the first month of 2016, and people look to the year ahead, the interest increases. Since it's that time again, in this post and a series of others looking at customer lifecycle tactics, I'll look at what I see as the latest trends in marketing which look set to continue into the rest of 2016.

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 5 Simple Digital Marketing Strategies That Can Help Your Business Grow

Digital marketing is essential in today’s world. With both competitors and potential customers constantly online, digital marketing is the only way to stay ahead. When you’re a small business owner the online world can seem intimidating. Here is a list of five simple digital marketing strategies that any business owner can implement to help their business grow.

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  Med-divider

August 22, 2016

In the news ... August 22, 2016

REPORT: ONLY 17 PERCENT OF CANADIAN BUSINESSES HAVE A DIGITAL STRATEGY

Acording to a research study developed through a collaboration with IDC and SAP, Canadian businesses aren’t prepared for the upcoming digital apocalypse.

While 60 percent of Canadian organizations recognize the importance of a digital strategy, the report reveals that just 17 percent of these businesses actually have one.

Furthermore, less than half are investing resources that place digital at the forefront of their development plans, such as cloud software, analytics tools, cyber security, and mobile solutions. At the same time however, 84 percent of Canadian businesses agree that “every business is a technology business” in some way.

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Ottawa announces public consultation on cyber security strategy

he federal government has started a three-month public consultation on updating its cyber security strategy, asking security pros and citizens for input on how it should not only strengthen the national IT systems and critical infrastructure in the private sector but also help businesses and residents.

Public Services Minister Ralph Goodale said Tuesday the consultation, which ends Oct. 15, will help identify gaps and opportunities, bring forward new ideas to shape Canada’s renewed approach to cyber security and capitalize on the advantages of new technology and the digital economy.

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Spirit of John Lennon lives on in Canadian clothing line

Fashion designer Kelly Pettit started with a simple question in crafting a clothing line inspired by John Lennon: Can she imagine the legendary singer-songwriter wearing it?

She most definitely does, Pettit says, as she readies to première her vision at Toronto Men's Fashion Week on Saturday, noting her years-long development process was driven by a deep reverence for Lennon's artistry.

Read more

 

Med-divider

August 18, 2016

In the news ... August 18, 2016

August 15, 2016

Tips for Building up Your Customer Service Locally

Serving local customers can carry its own unique challenges, but there are also many advantages to having local customer loyalty that you can leverage to maximize your company's overall profits. By focusing on the unique needs of your local target market, you have the potential to not only build a business but a community.


Relate To Customers

One of the advantages of serving customers locally is that they often have more in common with your customer service representatives than they would if you were trying to cater to a more broad range of people. This can include things like local events and news, community hotspots and venues, popular activities and sports teams, and many other conversation starters. Having a conversation with a customer helps to humanize the interaction and will hopefully help the customer have a better overall experience. Make sure you train your CSRs to greet and connect with everyone they talk to, be it in person or on the phone.

The advantage of working with local customers is that there are more opportunities to get to know them. This can be something as simple as having regular conversations and getting on a first name basis. Holding special events can serve as another way to meet your customers and build rapport. Provide customers with as many ways as possible to contact you.

Understand Your Customers

Understand your customers on as many levels as possible and make reasonable accommodations. If you believe the majority of people will likely be tech-literate, like if you are serving a college town, do not over-explain concepts like ordering online. Instead, provide an appropriate level of information and train your representatives to be sensitive to identifying when your customers need more assistance. Perhaps you serve a more rural area where customers need to drive a long way to get to your store. Offer accommodations like door-to-door shipping when products arrive or more parking spaces for the building.

Offer Unique Local Services

Consider special luxury services you can provide your local customers that you wouldn't be able to offer non-locals. For instance, if it would be relevant for your business to offer at-home consultation or an at-home service, this would give your business the edge over a non-local service provider.

Outsource When Appropriate

While you may not think that outsourcing is a great way to build local customer service, this is a great way to supplement other marketing and branding efforts. If your local representatives cannot be available 24/7, having call center outsourcing may be able to fill the gaps and keep returning users happy and satisfied with your service.

Assign Representatives

Consider assigning specific customer service representatives to specific customers. By doing so, your customers will feel they know the representatives and your company better, and will be more willing to work with you. Also, the assigned representatives will be able to provide a more customized service and keep loyal patrons returning.

Build a Community

The greatest accomplishment you could make through a local business is to create a local community built around your business. For example, restaurants, laundromats, and many other businesses have become community centers in a sense. For this to happen with your business, you will want to make it easy for your customers to relax and enjoy your store. This includes remembering to include comfortable seating and access to refreshments. Also, look for opportunities to offer services that go beyond your business, whether it is classes, special fairs, trade shows, or anything else that your locals would need or be interested in.

Great customer service requires a close attention to detail. While this may seem like it creates more work for your business, it will also provide you with the edge necessary to maximize profits and beat the competition.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

August 02, 2016

Packaging Perfection: Shipping Tips to Improve Your Company Image


Packaging Perfection Shipping Tips to Improve Your Company Image
A logo and branding materials represent their companies in a variety of ways. They are the physical things customers associate with your brand and put you in mind whenever they are used. You must use these
items properly in order to enhance your business’s image and to give yourself a boost in the business world. After everything is in place, other important steps must to followed to influence sales and long-term business relationships. Use these ideas to improve your brand image and to put you at the forefront of customer’s minds. 

Use Simple Designs
The most popular logos for big businesses have simple elements. If an image has too much clutter, potential prospects won’t notice it. Customers prefer logos that don’t have numerous pieces because they’re easier to process. A professional image for packaging should have two to three colors that blend with a company’s design scheme. Places like Contempo Card can consult with you on how best to use your images on printed material and packaging, helping you make the most of your design.

Include Specific Brand Elements
If you’re going to ship your products to people around the world, you’ll need a proper image that suits your brand. The colors that you select matter too. Light colors are commonly used on products that are easy to use, and bold tones are often placed on advanced items. Use a part of what your business does like scissors for a shredding company to include physical representations of your service in the image.

Make the Logo Stand Out
The process of selling products and building brand awareness in an e-commerce setting takes time. This is why your packaging must have elements that have the ability to develop customer loyalty. If an image lacks certain elements, buyers will less likely build a strong relationship with the brand.

Design Effective Advertisements
Once you have a great logo and proper packaging, you’ll need to create advertisements to increase sales. All of the marketing materials that you ship with your products should have descriptions that focus on specific benefits. The goal is to share information about different items so that shoppers will want to visit your store. If your budget is limited, you can still improve your company’s image successfully by hiring a professional. Businesses that work with e-commerce companies often structure deals with agencies that place ads on local billboards in major cities.

Press Strategies 
The press can help you reach many new customers if you take strategic steps during the early stages. Before you ship your products, design an effective news campaign by figuring out what information you’d like to share with targeted groups. Next, study the market and find out which outlets your audience uses on a regular basis. If you can reach customers in the press they frequent, you’ll have a greater chance of success.

Enhancing a business’s image is easy if all your packages have a trendy logo. Advertisements are very important to increasing sales and your own visibility. Use these tricks to help solidify your image and put you in the customer’s mind.

 

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

July 22, 2016

3 common pitfalls of simple A/B testing on your website

According to Google Trends ‘A/B testing’ is a phrase constantly growing in popularity and is now 4x more popular than 5 years ago. There is no doubt that evidence-based approach is good in business but there are some common pitfalls that should be considered when conducting simple split tests.

  • When you should stop testing - statistical significance problem

 Let’s start with stopping. When do you know to stop your experiment and that you are ready to draw conclusions? How many observations is enough?

Simply put statistical significance gives you the basis to say that an observed performance difference is not a result of randomness. With the use of basic statistical tests you may assess whether variant A performs better than variant B. Your conclusions will assess the data at a given point in time and with a given probability of error. This probability combines over the number of tests you perform and you may end up drawing conclusions from a coincidence rather than a real pattern.

This problem may be handled by applying sequential analysis and Wald sequential probability ratio test but it reaches beyond a basic A/B testing approach and still doesn’t address the changing audience.

  • Your visitors are changing  - conclusions generalization problem

After executing A/B experiment there is a natural need for extending conclusions to all audience and construct organizational knowledge. It may be a costly mistake.

Visitors learn. For example, global audience behavior changes as more and more online stores display popups to gather emails or provide coupons. It’s commonly known as a ‘concept drift’ and by definition the effect it may have on customer experience is hard to predict.

Visitors come from different situational contexts. Whether a visitor clicked on your ad or found your store on their own may have an influence on their motivation and decision process. Also, the sole phrasing of an ad shapes expectations regarding your website and it may be seamlessly selecting people with different psychological traits.

Visitors change over time. Perception of your website is evolving as you grow your brand and gather customer success stories. The same person who entered your website three months ago may react differently to your messages today.

Those are the root causes of ‘selection bias’ that forbids you to draw conclusions from a sample that is not carefully setup and designed to reflect your audience. Even when stratifying your sample you might end up repeating your tests and draw conclusions limited only to a particular campaign.

  • You may choose the wrong goal - fault in design you cannot mitigate

Optimizing Click Through Rate of your call-to-action button is not the same as optimizing your Conversion Rate, because those metrics might but don’t necessary have to be correlated.

You might have placed funny, clickable popup that encourages your visitors to click but doesn’t address their needs and current step in the decision process. This approach would cause promoting popups that increase the engagement of your website rather than conversions.

The golden rule of solving this problem is to measure and make decisions based on the same metric you’d like to optimize. If your main goal is to increase the number of orders or Average Order Value you have to model the influence of your variants on those particular metrics although having multiple optimization objectives at once is again beyond the basic framework.

Simple A/B testing should be used carefully and rather as a ‘better than nothing’ tool than a silver bullet. Available marketing tools vary in know-how used to build them although there are some really advanced tools on the market which allow you to take care of the problems and bring a proper empirical framework to the business world.

Przemyslaw S. Gliniecki is a Co-Founder of Cart Defender (https://cartdefender.com), which brings machine learning to eCommerce by providing behaviorally targeted popups with automated variants recommendation for online stores. Currently available on Magento Connect marketplace and for WooCommerce with a plugin and for other and custom platforms via an API.  

E-mail: psg@cartdefender.com

Twitter: @CartDefender

 

July 17, 2016

How To Use Whitespark To Improve Your Local SEO

There’s no argument that ranking among the top of your local search results is substantially easier than competing against large brands in the organic results.  That means the small guy still has a chance to tap into the highly profitable search engine traffic, and do it even more affordably these days.


With the help of a single tool, you can easily take over your SEO campaign.  The tool, Whitespark, is currently being used by thousands of local SEO agencies to help their clients generate high rankings with minimal effort.

You can use it to manage your own campaign, or use it as a way to figure out the competency of the agency that you’re hiring.  

This article is going to break down the various ranking factors major search engines are using to figure out where to place your site in the results, which you can also use to determine if the agency you’re hiring to do the work for you is actually doing what they say they’re doing.

There’s a simple 5 step formula that is practically guaranteed to help you rank higher in your local search results.

Step #1: Track Your Rankings

The most important part of any SEO campaign is to actually track your results.  Results, in the terms of SEO means the amount of traffic you’re bringing into your website, as well as the overall rankings for the keywords you have chosen.

Most times, you can use something as simple as Google Analytics to track the amount of visitors that are finding your website.  However, over the last few years, Google has started delivering more (not provided) information, instead of giving you the exact keywords customers used to find you.

That means you need an external source to figure out which keywords you’re ranking for, and how many visits per day those keywords are sending you.  Whitespark handles this for you, by aggregating data from a few different sources to provide you with an accurate representation of your rankings and how you’re bringing traffic into your site.

Step #2: Find New Citation Sources

Citations are one of the biggest ranking factors for local sites.  While they don’t necessarily increase your rankings in the organic search results, they do benefit you in other ways.

If you’re not aware yet, the term “citations” refers to how your business is cited across the internet.  Google uses a standard NAP format, or Name, Address, and Phone Number.  That means every time your NAP is displayed online, Google counts it and compares it against other businesses in your local market and industry.

Whitespark helps you find new sources to get your NAP listed, while also helping you track the existing citations you already have.  If they’re ever changed or removed, you will be notified of the status and given a chance to repair them.

Step #3: Automate Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are another big factor that Google and other major search engines use to figure out how trustworthy and authoritative your business is, compared to others in your area and industry.  Their reputation builder helps you automate the process generating and managing customer reviews.

When a customer is happy, they can leave the review on your website, and then Whitespark will aggregate the data to more than 45 different review platforms.

Not only does the tool let you generate new customer reviews using your email platform, they also let you easily intercept negative feedback, and act on it to either save the customer and make them happy with your service, or at least rectify the situation so that the negative feedback doesn’t show up in other places.

Step #4: Find New Link Building Opportunities

The backlinks pointing to your website are the #1 ranking factor Google uses to determine where you should be ranking in the organic results.  

The more high quality, trustworthy, and authoritative links you have, compared to your competition, the higher you rank in the results.  That’s why it’s so important to focus on building them.  Most people start drawing blanks when it comes time to actually do the work, though.

Whitespark will help you identify opportunities to build links pointing to your site, from other websites that have their own traffic and are trusted in the search engines.  

It will also help you track the links pointing to your own site, as well as links that are pointing to your competitor’s sites, so that you can replicate their link profile.

Step #5: Track Your Offline Conversions

Tracking offline conversions is almost impossible without software tying your Analytics or other stat tracking software together with your CRM.  Tying them together is a fairly complicated task in most instances, but Whitespark tends to make the job easier for you.

A lot of websites use a “How did you hear about us?” form, but most don’t use it properly.  For most business owners, they’ll look at the information provided and then move onto whatever else they’re doing.

With Whitespark, though, you can save the information into a database and then generate accurate statistics to figure out which campaigns are delivering you the best results -- which gives you a chance to double down on those areas of your marketing plan.

Step #6: Pass Out Review Tutorials

When a customer comes into your store but doesn’t leave an email, you can still capitalize on the opportunity to receive a review from them about the service they received.

If they are happy, you can use the automated review generator to spread their testimonial out onto the 45 review platforms mentioned earlier.  If they’re not, you can use the data they’ve given you to improve your operations and figure out where you or your team may be dropping the ball.

Whitespark gives you a review handout that you can pass to customers, that contains the information you need to enter their review into the database, and then push it out to the review platforms major search engines use to display your business’ information in their search results.

Pulling It All Together

SEO can be a complex process, especially if you’ve never attempted to do it before.  Hiring an agency can set you up for failure, because of the sheer amount of “snake oil” salesmen that seem to flood the industry.

With Whitespark, you can either manage your own SEO campaigns, or you can make sure that your reputable SEO, web design, or marketing agency is actually performing the work they say they are performing -- and that they’re focusing on the right areas that will actually help grow your business’ search engine traffic.

 

James Crook - Author, Speaker, Web Marketer - is the best selling author of “Digitally Enhanced” and founder of marketing agency Choc Chip Digital. He works with hundreds of small businesses each year to grow their client base online, and is a passionate advocate for the power of authentic, heart-centred marketing. Widely recognised as a confident and articulate communicator, James draws on his love of digital technology to inspire, motivate and educate audiences across Australia.

July 08, 2016

75+ Simple SEO Steps To Follow When Launching A New Website (Infographic)

75+ Simple SEO Steps To Follow When Launching A New Website (Infographic)

The prospect of launching a new website can often give sleepless nights to many bloggers and entrepreneurs as they need to meticulously check all details before they can go live. Apart from selecting a unique and memorable domain name, they also need to ensure that their website is compatible across all browsers, that it works across all devices, be it desktops, mobile phones or tablets, that there are no bugs, etc. And more often than not, they miss out on the most critical thing that can make or break their brand online i.e. SEO.

You must optimize your website for search engines, understand how SEO works and implement the techniques and strategies to create a brand name for yourself in the online world.

However, for most people the process of optimizing their website for search engines can appear too challenging at first glance, but let me assure you that it is not as difficult as it may seem. All you need is a proper SEO set-up, one that includes all the best SEO practices and latest updates and you have started yourself off on the path to success.

Here’s a detailed SEO checklist that you will need to follow when launching a new website.

This checklist consists of 75+ simple SEO steps that can help you to make your site more accessible to search engines as well as users and help you

generate more traffic to your website, by improving your site’s performance on search engines. Best part, these 75+ techniques are encompassed in an impressive infographic which you can download for free.

So take a look at this stunning post and learn the best SEO techniques that will help to get your new site on its feet!

 

Nirav Dave is the Co-Founder of Capsicum Mediaworks, A Digital Marketing Agency based out of Mumbai, India, that specializes in all things WordPress & SEO. He worships WordPress and loves to read anything and everything written about this exceptional CMS its SEO Techniques.

Email nirav.dave@capsicum.in

Twitter Profile:https://twitter.com/nirav_dave

June 27, 2016

How To Use Real-Life Trade Shows To Generate Online Social Shares

By Brian Gordon, President, Skyline Toronto

It is no surprise that the people of this world have become increasingly focused on social media via their smartphones. However, it may come as a surprise to B2B marketers that one of the best ways to get more attention on their buyers’ smartphones can be started by what they do in their trade show displays.

Here are 3 proven ways you can use your trade show booth as a catalyst for getting trade show attendees to share your company via social media:

  1. Photo Opportunity In Your Exhibit

Attendees at trade shows love to be wowed, and will gladly share what they were wowed about via their social media accounts. So give them a reason to whip out their smartphone and take a picture! Give them the ability to have their picture taken in your booth with cool props like guitars or hats or costumes (and yes, even those mustaches-on-a-stick!), backdrops, or with a celebrity. You can also take their pictures with your own camera, share them on your social media accounts, and then email them the link to their picture, so it’s easy for them to social share them. And if your booth activity is fun enough (entertainers, dancers, artists, and magicians) they don’t have to be in the photo to share it. Add even more reason for shares by offering a prize to those who share pictures of your cool booth activity, along with a hashtag or your social media handle in their message.

  1. Give Educational / Trends Presentations In Your Booth

Many attendees to trade shows go because they are there to learn about the issues that face their industry and to learn how to do their job better. So schedule and promote that your company’s subject matter expert(s) will be giving short sessions about key issues facing your clients. Or have a top member of your team give a presentation about the main trends in your industry. Attendees may record and share these presentations, and for sure your own company can post them to its own social media accounts.   So these presentations can do double duty – they can draw in more attendees to your booth during the show, and then get you more social shares and greater reach after the show.

  1. Create A Post-Show Video Of What Happened In Your Display

Not everyone can make it to the trade show who wanted to go. They wanted to go see what was new, to see the energy and find out which potential vendors are truly trustworthy. So create a video that features your clients who visited you in your booth, raving about your products, your service, and your quality. Make a video of the product demonstrations you gave, so viewers can see them in action. And especially show off your new products that you introduced at that show. Then post the video on your YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts, and use the hashtag from the show to get more views. Go into the LinkedIn Group for the trade show, and post the video as a discussion, for those who were at the show but did not make it to your booth, or those who missed the show but wanted to go.

Trade shows are real life events that have the potential to let you capture and create great, sharable content for social media. Try one of these three ideas out at your next trade show. Just be sure to test the technology before the show, have space dedicated for it in your booth, and really train your booth staff how to pull it off so the whole process goes smoothly. You’ll find that your trade show program can become a strong ally of your social media marketing.

 

About the Author

Brian Gordon is a founding partner of Skyline Toronto, helping companies communicate their message through trade shows, events, and related displays. Clients include a broad spectrum, from Fortune 500 companies to small home-based operations. Areas of expertise include message creation, graphic and architectural design, exhibit display design and build of all sizes, set up and dismantle services locally and throughout the world, repair services, and educational trade show related seminars. Brian can be reached via his website at http://www.skyline.com/toronto-exhibits.

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