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How to make your website visitors feel welcome

A recent visit to a hotel left me confused. I didn’t know whether I was in the right place – I couldn’t make out whether it was actually a hotel or a conference centre. There was no reception desk or concierge and there were few signs to direct me, so I made a swift exit.

In contrast, Husband and I stayed at a lovely hotel in Belgium. The reception was spacious, sophisticated, clearly signposted and the concierge was friendly and welcoming. They even offered us some coffee and Hors oeuvre upon arrival. We were impressed!

Why am I telling you this? Because your home page is the entranceway to all the wonderful things that your website is offering so it should be impressive. Don’t be that first hotel.

Your homepage is about more than just a few words and a few pictures. It has an important job to do. Just like the Belgian hotel, your homepage should be welcoming, with lovely décor (good design), clear signage and a friendly concierge (clear and welcoming copy) and clear directions to your room (the product or service you need).

So, what’s important to include in the homepage?

Your design

Grab their attention without being overbearing. Well-designed websites are no longer about standing out through busy design, bold colour and all-singing-and-dancing graphics. There’s no need for bells and whistles, that just confuses the eye and sends readers off in a panic.  To stand out these days you need to use the less-is-more approach, using design that it easy on the eye. By all means, express your creative side, but be subtle and delicate. You want a refreshing quality to your home page – some calming, soothing design with simple creative appeal.

Your brand

Like the grand desk of a 5-star concierge, the logo for your company should be represented clearly but not too overpowering. It should include a tagline that gets to the heart of your mission.

Your words

Ensure that you don’t put people off by overwhelming them with words (that’s what blogs are for) or being enigmatic with too little direction. Just like Goldilocks, your website homepage should be “just right” because you don’t have long to make a good impression and you’ve a lot of information to put across.

Your navigation

Page layout and navigability is crucial to the success of your site. And the home page is the signpost that gets readers to where they want to go, with ease. The main navigation area should be prominent – next to the main body of the page or directly underneath it, for example. And group similar navigation items together.

Your connection

Include links to your social media accounts on your homepage if you want to expand your web presence. Sharing icons to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, at the footer of your homepage will allow your audience to share your site’s content easily.

 

Your website homepage is usually the first page customers come to when they click through to your site; it’s the first impression that you give to your readers. And they need to feel comfortable, be impressed and stay a while to browse. Create something that not only attracts visitors but settles them down for a nice cuppa and some Hors d’oeuvre, before they go to their room, (or browse your website with the intention to buy).

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Something Inventive 28: Fake it until you break it

In this episode Al and Ben talk about the emergence of deep fakes, which are video and audio fakes that are so good that they can used to put Nicholas cage in almost every film imaginable.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by our SEO report

Check out our laser focused SEO report. If you need to build up your traffic then this report is for you! Mention our podcast when your order and get 10% off.

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman–Image courtesy of Pexel.

Founder and CEO of 3Sixty Management Services Rocky Romanella [Interview]

Listen on Apple Podcasts app Listen on Apple Podcasts app Listen on Sticher Listen on TuneIn

Subscribe on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Android or search ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


In this interview Ben had a really nice chat with Rocky Romanella. He has over 40 years experience in retail, franchising and leadership development and now has a few stories to tell which you’ll find in his book Tighten the lug nuts.

We really enjoyed listening to Rocky has to say and we think you will to.

(more…)

Don’t stretch yourself too thin on social media – Do one and do it well

With so many social media platforms to choose from, it is easy to get carried away and take on more than you can chew. Before signing up to a new account, think about whether this is an effective way of engaging with your customers.

Rather than signing up for every social media platform possible, start by going – what Business Insider refers to as – platform native and just focus on one or two accounts. Think about what kind of presence you would like to have and the types of product or service you offer? What services most of your audience use? Whether your product is best represented as video, in photos, text, audio or a mix of all of these. Whatever you decide, try to limit yourself to 5 accounts as no full-time employee would ever have enough time to effectively manage more than this.

Remember, social media is a two-way street and should be used as a tool for engagement rather than a soapbox. By focusing your efforts it will allow you to have more time to build a relationship with your readers and develop your brand which will, in turn, create a more authentic network based on quality interaction rather than a quantity of disengagement. Otherwise, you can risk becoming annoying and just add to the stream of noise, which will only push away your potential customers. It is really important to try and engage your audience and to get them to respond and react to your content in some way.

Here are my tips on getting the most out of your social media accounts.

Plan your posts

First and foremost make sure you create a social media strategy and outline your tone of voice, how you would like your brand to be perceived and what kind of content you would like to post. Make a document, a simple excel spreadsheet which lists relevant links, shareable content which you can reference.

Be consistent

Post regularly to maintain the interest of your following but don’t spread yourself too thin. Remember quality over quantity. Research the optimum times of engagement for your particular audience to get the most out of your post. CoSchedule recently compiled their own data and compared them with 23 studies from other social media platforms to find the optimum time to post your content.

Be a professional

Don’t treat your business accounts like your personal account. What your friends and family might find interesting and be supportive of, may not be what your potential customer will find interesting.

Use images and video

Where you can include images and video as this will help catch your audience’s eye and help them digest the information more easily.

Build alliances

Build business alliances that complement your own business but are not a direct competitor. Engage and support each other’s posts to share networks and audience reach. You never know when you might need an ally.

At a certain point, once your account has got to a certain size you will encounter trolls. Don’t take it personally and don’t fall into the trap of entertaining them. Always handle them professionally and know when to respond publicly, when to let it go or to delete their comment (if you can).

Know when to switch off

Don’t fall into the trap of syncing your phone to your social media accounts as before you know it you will come 24/7 and taking work home with you is never healthy.

Educate and entertain

Don’t use your social media platform as a sales platform, capture your audience more creatively and provide useful insights, educational information or entertainment.

Here are some of our earlier blogs which might be able to help you:

Check your spelling

Grammar matters, so check and double check as a small typo can not only be embarrassing but can also cause a whole world of hurt. Have you ever left the L out of Public Service…. Well these days you simply have no excuse as there are free programmes out there like Grammarly which will make sure those cheek blushing moments don’t happen.

Analyse your impact

Create some realistic goals of what you would like to achieve through social media so you can evaluate and justify the amount of time and money you put into creating content. There are many free tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, Buzzsumo, Google Marketing Platform, Google Alerts and so on which can you help you. If your posts are not performing particularly well, evaluate them and work out whether you can improve them or is it time to call it quits.

 

Once you have established a good presence on one platform then consider whether you could replicate that on another platform. Remember, don’t spread yourself too thin, keep it simple and stay consistent.

 

Image Credit: Group of people, dressed in black, in stretching stances Courtesy of Pexels

SEO Affiliate Domination interview with Greg Jeffries

Ben has always been fascinated by the seemly unending ways people can make money from the simplest things, and affiliate marketing is one of them.

So in this interview he spoke with Greg Jeffries who has a ton of experience in this area and shares some of the ways he uses SEO to generate income.

 

 

Image Credit: Headshot image courtesy of Greg Jeffries and Idyllic Beach and Boat scene by Pexels

Interview: QuantumRE Founder Matthew Sullivan

Recently Ben got the opportunity to interview Matthew Sullivan on how his company QuantumRE, is helping people release the equity in their home using a system based on the blockchain (this is the same technology used by Bitcoin).

He had a fascinating career before this even working on ventures with Richard Branson.

 

Image Credit: QuantumRE Founder Matthew Sullivan

The Power of GIFS – Why you should use them within your marketing

In the most basic form, a GIF is a series of still images or a short piece of video compiled together into a short animation on a continuous loop that is suitable for online platforms. It was first developed in 1987 but never quite took off until the early 2000’s. So why is the GIF so compelling and mesmerising in this digital era?

In an instant world, we want instant content, instant feedback and instant understanding. A GIF is easy to consume; within a matter of seconds. We can easily punctuate an emotion, highlight a personality or explain a process within a blink of an eye.

Growing increasingly popular on social media and blog posts, the GIF can have a profound impact on your marketing.. The New York times recorded that Tumblr had 23 million GIFs posted to it’s site a day and when Facebook first started to support GIFs within their messaging app 5 million animations were being sent each day.

Here are 5 reasons how you could use a GIF within your marketing

1. Use GIFs to highlight your company’s culture

2. Animate your email marketing

3. Sneaky preview of a video

4. Show off a product or offer

5. Use GIFs as a call to action

The advantages

  • GIFs are simple to make whether you want to use a short video clip or a collection of still images there are various sites online where you can access free software and customise your GIF within a matter of seconds. Some sites we would recommend are gifmaker , giphy and giphy capture.
  • Unlike Flash animation, viewers do not need to have special plug-ins on their web browsers, which means that your GIF will simply automatically play and you won’t risk it being blocked via the user’s web browser.
    Due to the nature of the GIF it can be compressed without too much distortion allowing you to keep the file size small which allows you to minimise any delay it would have on the page speed.
  • They are easy to make, use and to embed on your site as you simply treat them like a still image.

… and the disadvantages

  • With everything in life, less is most definitely more so don’t get too carried away and try to cram as many onto one page as you can as it will slow down your page loading speed if you embed large numbers of them whilst making your web pages look cheap and unprofessional.
  • GIFs are ideal for social media and webpages but as they are capped by a colour depth of 256 bit they can give a blocky, pixelated, low quality appearance if shown on a high definition screen.
  • Dithering is a term which helps to band gradients of colour in a GIF to prevent harsh colour contrasts however, it can restrict compression and make the final file size pretty large, which will ultimately slow down your website.
  • It is key to try and work out the right speed and the number of frames you would like to use as if there is not enough frames the GIF can be too jerky and irritating.

 

Finally a simple note of caution, if you are a company and are wanting to post GIFs regularly be cautious of using copyrighted work on social media. To be safe, we would always recommend you create your own.

So maybe it’s about time you added the GIF to your marketing toolkit.

 

GIFs Courtesy of Giphy

Is blogging worth the effort? Three reasons it is worth the slog and how it benefits your marketing

Person typing on a keyboard

How can you compete with the online market but still provide a personal service? Despite being seen as old hat; regular, relevant blogging can perform well for you.

As we strive for faster, better connected, portable technology the world of business is rapidly changing and more of us are dipping online for our every purchase. Organisations are losing the ability to meet customers face to face to build genuine rapport, to create a memorable service and add that personal touch. Yet, it might surprise you to know that many of us still seek friendly, personable approach from the platform of our online avatars.

Here are three ways blogging could help your business:

1. You build trust with your customers

Whether it’s an informative article or a more informal account of what is happening in your business. The more information you share online through articles on your site, the more this will help capture your audience. By writing and sharing something of true value you are instinctively building trust with your customer by proving that you know what you are talking about. You could even start a conversation with your customers by asking your readers a question or by simply allowing them to feedback and comment on your posts. Allowing you to build a rapport and gain valuable feedback and an insight into what your customers are looking for.

2. You can become an industry leader in your business

Informative and educational articles are where you will capture today’s audience. If we want to know something we ask Google, from ‘how to fix our washing machine’ to learning how to perfect a certain recipe in a matter of seconds. By sharing helpful tips and tricks, insider knowledge will make you more memorable and possibly prompt a return visit or even a recommendation. In taking the time to share this information your business will gain more credibility when you are competing against the bigger more corporate businesses.

3. It can boost your SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position)

Uploading regular, valuable content to your website will also help boost your website up the Google ranks. Search engines favour sites with fresh, relevant content as it increases the amount of time that is spent on the site, reduces the bounce rate and increases the number of pages visited per session. What better way to create regular content than blogging. It provides new content for the search engines to index whilst providing those all-important keywords to increase your visibility online. Don’t forget all of the content you are gathering could be translated into a video at a later date!

 

Not sure where to start and need some inspiration for own blog?

If you love the idea of a blog but don’t feel confident in your writing skills – or simply don’t have time – then you should consider whether a professional writer can take the stress away and help keep you on top of your content schedule.

Our Rather Inventive copywriters have worked in a range of different industries and sectors, such as interiors, education and engineering and they regularly deliver unique and relevant content suitable for each of our customer’s markets.

Here’s are a few of our clients who use blog articles as a key element of their marketing:

  • Selmach Machinery has started using their blogs as a way to storyboard their how-to and overview videos.
  • Tileflair shares in-depth knowledge and understanding of their product range to help equip their customer’s to make a decision on what would be best for them.
  • Auspicious Kitchens uses blogging as a way to share tips and advice while also showcasing their level of experience and knowledge.
  • Gemini Refurb uses blogs to help answer customer questions and to get them thinking about their options.

Building relationships with your customers can only lead to success, so it’s worthing investing in.

Image courtesy of Pexels

Interview: Minx Media Founder Heidi Chamberlain-Jones

For this interview Ben heads over to Herefordshire to meet with Heidi Chamberlain-Jones the force behind Minx Media, a business development consultancy but also the founder of Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire a much needed destination marketing company and events portal for the area.

They talk about why online directories are still relevant, the importance of mixed marketing for businesses and what’s great about Herefordshire.

 

Image Credit: Minx Media Founder Heidi Chamberlain-Jones and Ben Kinnaird

Something Inventive 27: Science of SEO

Al and Ben are joined by Chris Richards to discuss how he’s improved the search optimisation for his businesses through single-variant tests making SEO a science rather than guesswork.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by our SEO report

Check out our laser focused SEO report. If you need to build up your traffic then this report is for you! Mention our podcast when your order and get 10% off.

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman–Image courtesy of Pixabay