Appearances Matter – Simple Solutions for Creating Engaging Web Content

When not busy working with The Gilbane Conference I spend my time working as a CMS editor. As a CMS Site editor I often times feel torn between my responsibility to preserve the integrity of my employers website by focusing on the content (I.e text) and my desire to enhance the more superficial elements such as the background, graphics, and fonts. 10/10 times I choose to tweak the text as our current software has been fixed to only offer 3 color options and only one font…

While ultimately the content on a site is more important than its overall appearance, I believe that in an age where analytics show that the majority of website viewers spend an average of only 10 seconds on a site they are visiting for the first time, that appearance cannot be ignored. Those statistics are not only discouraging to the average CMS editor, but further proof that in order to make an eye catching site to get viewers to explore and spend time on your site you’re going to need a bigger arsenal then a three choice color palette.

Although many are in the same position that I am in, working on company websites that have pre-programed fonts and colors, and in some cases graphics, there are several simple ways in which to make a big statement without straying to far from what is deemed acceptable and professional by your employer.

  • Add an Infographic

 

(http://www.manmadediy.com)

Adding infographics to your website is not just an easy way to display relevant company data in an engaging manner, they are also great in adding a much needed pop of color and excitement sure to make even the most casual of browsers stop and take a look.

While several companies will make custom infographics for you company at a price there are several websites that will generate them for free. Some notable options are Visual.ly and Piktochart. If you’re feeling especially creative and have time on your hands try creating your own using PowerPoint.

 

  • Avoid large StockPhoto sites whenever possible

 

How many times have you seen a photo on a companies website that looks exactly like this. While we can appreciate the fact that somewhere out there, there may be an office full of people that are always camera ready and enjoy each others company so much that they can’t get rid of their ever present  grins, this is simply not the case for most workplaces. If possible get real photos of real people in your office, and include pictures of your headquarters as well. These are the types of photos that will engage viewers and create a certain level of trust and comfort that stock photos cannot.

  • Make your Headlines and Titles Bold.


As Simple as it may sound by making the text of your article titles and headlines bold you are  creating a natural focal point for site browsers to focus on when scrolling through your website. When there is text to focus on within a sea of words people will be able to identify the content they are looking for easier, making them more likely to read what comes after the title.

 

  • Add a Social Element


It has become the norm for companies to be connected on at least one Social Network, so there is virtually no excuse why this fact should not be advertised on your website. Add a “social bar”, a twitter feed and of course share buttons to all of your blog and article entries. People are apt to feel more comfortable sharing and reading your information when they have visual proof that other have done the same before them. The upside to this is that when people share your content on social sites, it will inevitably lead more viewers back to your web page.

Utilizing even just one of these tools is a sure to expand not just your website viewership, but also the amount of time they are browsing as well. These which will all eventually lead to increase in clients and customers!

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For more information on The Gilbane Conference please visit our website @:

http://gilbaneboston.com

Do Google Yourself – Preserving and Protecting your Companies Online Reputation

With The Gilbane Conference just a few short months away, I’ve been thinking a lot about the evolution of themes and topics covered over the past few years. This year we are pleased to have a session lead by Russ Edelman and Toby Bell on Two Key Management Concerns About Social Media :ROI and Reputation Management. This is an increasingly important subject especially when it comes to the enormous impact online reputation has not just on an individual but a company as well.

15 Minutes. 15 Minutes is all it takes for an angry customer to chip away at the integrity of your businesses’ reputation by casting an instant smear campaign across all of your social networks. In some cases that 15 minutes is a generous figure as today’s internet users are more savvy than ever ,especially when motivated by what they deem to be an unfair experience.

Kasio Martin, a self proclaimed internet professional and blogger recently related in one of her entries how a series of bad experiences with local businesses and the subsequent online smear campaigns she launched against them received very different responses, prompting both positive reactions and further negative behavior from her.

“After the bad transaction I googled the business again. I left negative reviews on Insider Pages, City Search, Yahoo, Google Pages and Yellow Pages. These review sites outranked the businesses own Facebook Page in Google. The next time someone googles that business they will find my review 5 times before they get any other information about the company. This took me about 15 minutes to accomplish.”

The part of this scenario that strikes me the most is not just the short amount of time it took this customer to cause a major headache for the offending business, but also that the popularity of these sites she targeted make them the first picks in online search results. The company’s lack of response to her complaints showed even less integrity as it showed they either had a poor social media strategy or none at all. As to the effect they had on the business itself there is no mention but one can imagine that it served as a major discouragement towards attracting new customers.

Ms. Martin recounts an additional story in which her online complaints against a large chain restaurant were not only heard but resolved before the day was through:

“Because the restaurant was a large corporate chain, I didn’t really expect anything to come of it. But I received an email response within the hour. They informed me that they were getting that store on the phone and fixing this immediately. . . Within only a couple of hours they responded to me on Twitter and offered to help. . . Before the end of the workday they had resolved the issue and I didn’t have a bad thing left to say on any channel.”

While the Ms. Martin’s of the world may scare the faint of heart away from attempting to grow their business through social media, both scenarios show that regardless of whether or not you have made pages on these sites, that a Social Reputation is being made for your company whether or not you’re the one facilitating it.

Social Reputation can not be ignored, but it can be preserved and even strengthened through early intervention and constant diligence.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for getting you started:

  • Do Google yourself: This is simply the easiest way to find what’s being said about your company around the entire internet. For faster results try signing up for Google alerts for your company.
  • Do check your @mentions on Twitter and Wall on Facebook: See what’s being said about you both good and bad in seconds. This is a great public forum to address questions, comments and complaints from your customers.
  • Don’t ignore negative online comments: While the easiest solution to a jaded customer review may be to delete it or simply ignore it, this sends an undeniable message to others that either you don’t care enough to answer the complaint or that you’re not on top of your online presence at all.
  • Don’t let third party sites and blogs outrank your own in search results: If third party pages such as yelp, hub pages, and Wikipedia are the first returns when someone searches for your company then your customers/potential customers will receive biased opinions before they even make it to your own site. Stay active on all of your websites and social media outlets and you’ll be sure to have your companies mission and services heard first and foremost.

And finally,

Don’t let negative opinions get in the way of your business’s goals: There will always be critics of the work you do and the worst thing you can do is let it get in the way of the doing a good job. Stay true to your companies mission and purpose and ultimately that work will speak for itself, hopefully in the form of good reviews for a positive Social Reputation.

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For more information on the Gilbane Conference please visit our website @:

http://gilbaneboston.com/12/index.html

To read more about Russ Edelman and Toby Bell’s Session at Gilbane Boston you can find out more @:

http://gilbaneboston.com/12/conference_program.html#c4

http://gilbaneboston.com/12/speakers.html

 

Gilbane Conference program and speakers posted

The Gilbane Conference program and speaker list are now available in addition to the conference schedule and pre-conference workshop schedule and program – there are just a few details to be added. Other changes between now and the conference will be minimal and will be reflected on the site if/as they occur, so check back once in a while.

The schedule for the product labs/case studies presented by sponsors will also be posted shortly.

Gilbane Conference schedule posted

We have published the conference schedule for Gilbane Boston. We’ll be publishing detailed conference session descriptions with speakers in the next week or so including details on the keynote sessions. It is very tempting to provide more details right here but we are still in the process of a few speaker placements we want to finish up first.

The pre-conference workshop schedule, including detailed descriptions and instructors is also available. If you registered for a conference pass that included a workshop before the workshop options were available, you can make your choice now and contact customer service to have your registration updated.

 

Welcome Social Media Marketing Manager Mary Stevens!

We are very pleased to welcome Mary Stevens to the Gilbane Conference team as Social Media Marketing Manager. Mary is already active on our social channels and someone you’ll be hearing a lot from as conference activity ramps up.

In addition to keeping our social channels updated on conference and related activity Mary is a resource for conference attendees, sponsors, speakers, fans, who follow or want to engage and network with the Gilbane conference community. She’ll be updating you more specifically on what that means to you, but in general, she’ll be facilitating communication, conversations, and networking among all stakeholders. For example, we’ll be publishing speaker social media links to help attendees learn more about our speakers in advance of the event.

Mary can be reached via email; she can be found on our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn pages and groups (buttons below); you can follow her posts on this blog (none yet!); and you can DM her at @gilbane or @gilbaneboston.

Follow the Gilbane Conference!

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What technologies is marketing spending on?

Spencer Ante reports in today’s Wall Street Journal that As Economy Cools, IBM Furthers Focus on Marketers. The title and the short article are focused on IBM’s well-known emphasis on marketers, but the article is of more general interest in driving home the extent of one trend in corporate technology spending – the growth of marketing spending on technology – and provoking a number of questions about what it means. At only 600 or so words the article may be useful for some of you to forward to others in your organization that would benefit by thinking more about the effects of this trend.

The article quotes some recent Gartner research that marketing budgets are roughly 3 times IT budgets as a percentage of revenue, and grew between 2011 and 2012 while IT budgets shrank. Current marketing and IT budgets are both expected to increase, but with marketing budgets increasing at twice the rate of IT budgets – 9.0% vs 4.7%. Gartner has also predicted CMOs will have more control over technology spending than CIOs by 2017. Also, “In total, Gartner says companies spent up to $25 billion worldwide on marketing software last year, up from about $20 billion the previous year. Overall corporate software expenditures totaled $115 billion…”. These are impressive numbers, and our own experience based on discussions with our conference attendees, consulting clients, and other analysts and investors, suggests a broad consensus with the trend. Certainly IBM is big believer.

But the next level of detail is even more important for technology vendors and all CMOs who want to benchmark their competitors spending and strategies – for example, what are CMOs spending money on? what should they be spending on” and how do they organize their infrastructure to learn about, purchase, and manage new marketing technologies, and work with IT?

A vocal segment of the technology press suggest that the future of marketing is all about “social”. A favorite prediction of analysts is that the “Web is dead” and the future is all about mobile. Savvy marketers are beyond such oversimplifications. As important as social and mobile are, I think it is safe to say they are still a small percentage of the $25 billion Gartner number. I would love to be enlightened by anyone who has more details on what the percentage is, and what technology categories others think will benefit most from the increase in marketing spending.

Why is this?

Part of the reason are expensive legacy systems and infrastructures. But a bigger reason is that everyone (not just marketing) is learning. Most of the new technologies have some learning curve, but are not rocket science. The really steep curve is learning how to integrate and utilize new technologies, and especially data they provide, effectively – and that is something we all: technologists, marketers, analysts, will be learning about for awhile.

Learn more at Gilbane Boston.

Our new Gilbane Google+ page

We will be more active on multiple social channels for the Gilbane Conference this year. In addition to Facebook we also have a new page on Google+ for those who prefer it.

Follow us on Google+

 

Follow the Gilbane Conference Facebook page

We have had a Facebook page for a couple of years but it has suffered from neglect. No longer. We have updated the page and have a new secret resource who will be keeping the Gilbane Conference Facebook page active and useful for all those who prefer to stay informed about our conferences via Facebook. The link is http://www.facebook.com/Gilbane.Conferences.

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