Inbound Marketing: The Basics

April 28, 2016

The world of marketing is ever-changing, and thanks to various web technologies, there are plenty of new and exciting ways in which business owners should think about advertising their business. One of the more effective methods of marketing as a result of these developments is known as Inbound Marketing.

Thanks to the omnipresence of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, marketing has transitioned from being a one-sided act of businesses reaching out to consumers, to an on-going, real-time dialogue between potential customers and growing businesses.social-media-936543_1280

To be more specific, Inbound Marketing is a way in which to manage this dialogue. Through the following steps, businesses and professionals can fine-tune their marketing efforts to convert the passing stranger to the avid promoter of a product or service!

1. Attract

The first step, of course, is to attract strangers to your business. Before stuffing your website with keywords or creating a business account on every available social media platform, consider the personalities and demographic information of your target market. While Facebook is usually a safe bet for marketing purposes, not every business benefits from having an increased presence on Snapchat.

Attracting people to your business is less about the quantity of traffic you bring, and more about the quality. Quantity is still great, but attracting those who are likely to be repeat customers is significantly more helpful than attracting as many people as possible. In fact, marketing to the wrong demographics en masse can cast a negative image on your business.

2. Convert

The next step is to convert these visitors. This happens by getting some form of contact information for them, at the very least an email address. Yet most people aren’t going to give this personal information away without good reason.

The best way to get contact info from a visitor is to offer them something in return. Whether it’s a periodic newsletter subscription, an eBook relevant to the field of your business, a tip sheet, or some other promotional offer, visitors need incentive to supply businesses with their information.

3. Close

Closing on these leads can take time – specifically, there needs to be trust between the business and potential clients. Periodically checking in with clients helps, as does studying analytics to determine which tactics are working best. Analytics can also help you ensure that you’re delivering the right message to the right client – especially if you offer a range of products or services.

In a similar fashion to content-funneling on a website, it is wise to direct specific, targeted messages to the different groups of clients in your system.

4. Delight

Inbound Marketing doesn’t end with the closing of a sale. The trust needs to continue to develop, and clients should be kept in-the-loop. Whether this is accomplished through surveys or continued content delivery, customers need to feel as important as they actually are to your business.

Continued monitoring of social media analytics is a must. This allows you to keep an eye on your customers, and make smart decisions to turn customers into repeat customers and even promoters of your business.

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Gary is a team member at Sephone, helping to design, build and maintain websites. He is also a web design student at the New England School of Communications of Husson University.

Your phone WILL run out of space one day! Are you ready?

April 21, 2016

Are you a person who likes to travel or spend time with your kids?  Summer is right upon us and that means taking lots of photos.  One thing that you do not want to forget to do is backup those precious memories.  There are a lot of inexpensive options out there to help you.

  1. Create a Dropbox account and allow your photos to upload right after you take them.
  2. Connect your phone to iCloud.
  3. Connect your phone to your computer.
  4. Use a micro SD card (if your phone allows it).

There are many other options that you can take advantage of as well.  But these are just a few that I have been doing recently and they have been working out pretty well.  Keeping all the photos backed up on a flash drive and/or your computer plus Dropbox for me is the better way to go.  This way when I erase my photos on my phone, I know they are backed up and I do not have to worry about losing them.

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Alex is a developer at Sephone

Ready for Some Spring Cleaning?

April 8, 2016

It’s springtime and that can only mean one thing, spring cleaning! 1460054555_edit-clearHopefully, the winter days are behind us and we can start getting into warmer weather. Along with warmer weather, our chore lists are most likely piling up with tasks like:

  • Clean out the garage
  • Clean up the yard
  • Clean up the website

The last item may not apply to everyone but it’s an important action to take. Every so often, you should evaluate your website and make sure it is still performing and meeting your goals. If not, it may be time to give your website a little refresh.

A refresh could include things like:

  • Updating your images
  • Re-write the copy on your website
  • Make adjustments to your search engine marketing plan.

Along with evaluating your website, it may be worthwhile to take inventory and remove anything that isn’t needed anymore. This could be old photos, videos, pdfs, etc. Some of these items may be worth keeping on your website for historical purposes but you’ll need to make that determination.  Be careful when removing old files to make sure they aren’t being used anymore on any of the pages of your website.  For example, if you remove an image that is being used on a page, the web browser will display a broken image.

Remember, before you remove anything, you can always make a backup of the file. You can store the backup file on your local machine, in the cloud or on an external drive. That way if you ever need the file again you’ll have access to it.

For a some more tips and suggestions check out our blog post, “When was your last website refresh?

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John is a designer at Sephone.

Mobile Impact on your Business’s Website

April 1, 2016

Since the dawn of the smartphone, more and more people have been using their mobile devices to search and find things.  This includes businesses related to travel and tourism, healthcare, automotive repair and more.   When it comes to mobile, people want to find quick and accurate information at the tip of their finger.  This means making sure that your business’s website is mobile friendly.  We have been talking about responsive design for a while now, and we are going to keep harping on it.  Making sure your site is tailored to meet the needs of your mobile visitor as well as your desktop visitor is paramount to a successful online presence for the future.  Here are some tips for making the most of your responsive website.

Call to action

Every website should have some sort of call to action.  This is the thing that gets people to do something, whether it is to fill out a form, complete an order, or just signup for an email newsletter.  Making sure that your call to action doesn’t get lost on your responsive site is key to getting visitors to do what you want them to do.

Keep important information visible

It is very frustrating for a website visitor to come to your site and not be able to find the information that they need.  Calling attention to things is easier on a large desktop display than it is on a mobile device.  Keeping this in mind and making important things easy to find on your responsive site is a great way to make your customers happy.

Don’t be afraid to scroll

It is hard to fit all of the information from your desktop website into a single view on a mobile device.  Don’t be afraid to let people scroll on your responsive site.  You can use different interactions and visible elements to queue them in to different parts of the site as they scroll through.

If you would like help making your business’s website responsive to accommodate your mobile visitors, get in touch with us.

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Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.

Our Business Is Getting Bored With Facebook

March 25, 2016

There are definitely ebbs and flows with social media.  If there is a schedule and you are sticking to it, maybe you are running out of ideas of what you may want to post.  It happens to us too.  Also it seems like once we get something with the engagement we want, Facebook changes things around again and things are pathetic and not worth it again.

Turn the Page Upside Down

Instead of using your page to get OTHER people or businesses to like you, hoping Facebook will show you some love and put you in their feed, try making the page more about the people that work at your business.  Home (cell phone) videos and photos are very popular and easy to take and upload.

Here are 3 ideas of things you can try:

  1.  Every company has a special person that people like- “A Week In the Life of _______” Feature them on the page for a week.  It could be the person that takes the endless phone calls, knows most of your customers. Photos of them working, getting out of the car going to lunch.  Ask them if they would be willing to share a few personal (not too personal) stories – if they are willing, maybe they will post for a day or two- add some personality.
  2. Special Talents of the Crew – Recipes from your company “Pot Lucks,” activities of your team in the community or of some of the employees on their own voluBrady's Big Announcementnteer projects.  Girls/Boys Scouts, Town Committees, Church or other civic organizations, recognition of employees is something some of your best employees would never think to tell you about.
  3. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Weddings, Engagements.  A NEW PUPPY! We posted Brady on our Facebook page when he told us he was getting married – our page erupted!  Of course we unintentionally “outed him” to his Mom who didn’t know he had asked his long-time girlfriend to marry him (oops!)

In these days of voicemail, email and sometimes the phone, this content on your page puts your crew more visible to your customers. It also shows the dynamic in your company, your essence, your own uniqueness.

In addition, employee “shares” of your post really help boost your visibility on Facebook.  So that means more shares, more potential customers.

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Our Go-To WordPress Plugins

March 18, 2016

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of attempts to compromise WordPress across a number of sites that we host. WordPress is a great platform, but its popularity makes it a fairly constant target for attacks.

Have no fear: the plugin architecture in WordPress provides an easy way to add extra features to your site – including extra security. Here are a few plugins we’ve been adding to many of the sites we host:

  • Jetpack: Created by the same company that built WordPress, Jetpack contains some really great additions for your site: visitor stats, contact forms, carousels, and more. It also includes some security features like preventing people from trying to force their way into your site.
  • Imsanity: Web sites don’t need all 20 megapixels of those images you take with your nice digital camera. Imsanity easily resizes images to make sure you’re not using too much space on the server.
  • WP Super Cache: For sites with a lot of traffic, caching speeds up the amount of time it takes to load the page and also allows more people to view the site at once.

If you decide to install plugins on your site, be careful and make sure they’re safe and secure before you add them. Plugins can have holes of their own that can be used by people looking to gain access your site or post spam comments on your blog!

Of course, we don’t want you to have to worry about this kind of thing – you’re busy enough running your own business, and you probably don’t have time to stay informed about the latest techniques and exploits for compromising a website. That’s fine! When you host your site with us, we stay on top of patches, updates, and techniques to keep your site safe. After all, we want to make managing your site or app as easy as possible so you can focus on your business!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

Permission To Land

March 11, 2016

There are many kinds of apps out there, apps that can perform all sorts of tasks – from keeping track of your daily “To-Dos,” letting you show off your vocabulary to your friends, to pushing a button and hearing any one of many silly sounds. Some apps, especially those which rely on physical hardware to perform these actions, require certain permissions to function fully and properly. In the past, the list of permissions an app needed to function was displayed during installation on Android devices. This is no longer true, as recent Android updates have reformed how apps in the mobile OS interact with phones.

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Out With The Old

Previous versions of Android required apps to display a list of necessary permissions during app installation. This meant that, upon trying to install an app, you’d see a screen much like the one to the left. This screen gives you a breakdown of exactly what information to which the app will have access. This is important because whomever developed the app also have access to this information. We should all be careful when it comes to this data. It’s our data. While it is completely understandable that a GPS app would need access to your physical location via your phone, there are apps out there that request your location that don’t really need it.

In With The New

As of Android 6.0, playfully dubbed ‘Marshmallow,’ apps will now ask for permissions during runtime instead of during installation. For consumers, this is good news in more than one way. First, it really shortens the amount of time it takes to install applications. Rather than having a bunch of screens to click through, clicking install really just installs the app.

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Next, having the app ask for permission at runtime gives users a sense of when, and perhaps why, the software needs certain details. For instance, when loading a camera app, a screen may appear asking for permission to utilize the phone camera. This is expected, but the user can actually deny the app from accessing the camera at this screen. While in this example the app is rendered useless, this is not always the case. There’s a game called Alphabear, and during start-up, this screen is displayed:

While we realize that this feature is used to verify the identity of the phone should there be a purchase of an  in-app purchase, we may choose ‘deny’ for our own piece of mind. Spry Fox, the game creators, make some of our favorite mobile games, and though they proobably wouldn’t misuse the data, but it’s OUR personal information, and until a purchase is made in the game, we would continue to deny the app from accessing these files. And the game plays just as it should otherwise – and is quite fun!

 

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Gary is a team member at Sephone, helping to design, build and maintain websites. He is also a web design student at the New England School of Communications of Husson University.

STILL Trying to Keep Your Employees OFF Facebook?

March 4, 2016

Many companies block Facebook and other Social applications from the companySTOP sign networks thinking that their employees spend company time “playing on Facebook” when they should be working.

While we are not giving anyone the “Seal of Approval” for goofing off while on the clock, we are aware of companies blocking access from employee workstations.  It is difficult, (if not impossible), to restrict someone from using their personal cell phones to check out Facebook, Twitter, etc.  And according to Time Magazine, Americans Check their Cell Phones 8 Billion times a day!

Work With It

Some companies involve their employees with their social efforts.  If you are not one of the them you may be missing the boat.  These businesses often ask employees to watch out for comments on feeds or alert them when they are being talked about.  Some employees offer (and provide) online reviews of the company and products.  Positive reviews are helpful in marketing your company/brand/product.  The shame is in the fact that many HAPPY customers don’t post reviews.  It is the unhappy ones that make the effort.

Positive reviews are helpful in marketing your company/brand/product.  The shame is in the fact that many happy customers don’t take the time out to post reviews.  It is the unhappy ones that make the effort.

2016 Trends

We are still in the first quarter of 2016 and video, text messaging and ads on social channels are leading the pack, according to a Fast Company post. By talking to your employees about how they can be involved, you might find a “budding” talent for video or marketing that has been unknown until you have asked them for their input.  Having your own guerrilla social team within your company can be a big morale booster as well as a profit maker!

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!