Marketing

SEO, directories, and more – here’s how to make sure you’re found online.

Why you should consider updating your website in 2016

August 2, 2016

A lot of people ask us why having a modern website is important. Many of these people are local business owners who simply don’t understand why they should spend more money on a new site when they already have an existing site. Today, we will look at some of the reasons a modern website is a critical piece of any modern business and what you are missing out on by not having one. read more

The Importance of Goal-Oriented Design

July 27, 2016

Let’s talk design for a moment.

I’m not talking here about visual design here (that comes after), I am talking about goal-oriented design. In the world of marketing, it is important to have a clearly defined goal that you can measure against. Maybe your goal is to get people to sign up for a newsletter. Maybe it’s to get people to make a purchase. Whatever your goal is, it is important to know and understand it.

By approaching design this way, you are able to craft a website that is designed around your goals. Far too many websites are generalistic, having lots of information and no clear call to action. If you don’t define what you want your users to do, your design won’t be as strong as it could be.

Not all goals are tangible…

…that is ok! For example, you may have a feeling you want to convey to a visitor to your site. Perhaps it’s a combination: You want users to click a button, and also feel good about doing so. As long as you have some idea in mind for the desired outcome, we can work with you to come solidify that idea into something tangible and measurable.

It is important that goals can be measured, because this lets you can check to see if the desired actions are being taken, as well as having a concrete way to show the return on your investment.

Talking to Clients

When we talk to clients, being able to agree on a goal, or set of desired actions for visitors of your site to take, lets us deliver incredibly robust purpose built sites engineered from the ground up to make that goal a reality. By having a clear goal, every other element can be built to support it, from your visuals to your sales copy.

Yahoo!: A History In Brief

July 25, 2016

With the announcement that Verizon is buying Yahoo! for $4.8 billion, I thought it might be a good time to briefly explore the tech giant’s history. From Stanford, through the dot-com bubble, and to the most recent CEO Marissa Mayer’s revamp of the company, Yahoo! has seen some changes – some good, some bad.

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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.

A look into the world of Wordsmithing – A series about crafting messages that engage and delight – Part 3

May 26, 2016

Credibility: Worth Its’ Weight In Gold

Tom Magliozzi (co-host of the hit radio show Car Talk) summed up the customer experience when he said that “Happiness equals reality minus expectations.”

In the previous blog post on wordsmithing, we discussed brevity and how a short message can have greater impact than a long one. In this post, we are covering the third rule in Words that Work; “Credibility”, and why it is so important.

Words define who you are as a company. If the words lack sincerity, contradict facts or fail to live up to what you are selling, you will lose credibility and your customers will go elsewhere. In this case, credibility is synonymous with reputation, and you should guard it as such.

Credibility can be rather simple to establish: Tell people who you are, what you offer, and why they should do business with you. Make sure your company and it’s offerings live up to what you say. Do your best to live up to your company’s stated vision/mission/goal, and people will start to trust you.

If you promise something people pay for,  it better live up to that promise or you will quickly find you have unhappy customers who will leave you for greener pastures and cost you a chunk of your reputation when they do. Credibility can take a long time to build, but a very short amount of time to lose.

What to avoid:

Avoid labeling each product as “new and improved” – Stating that every product you release is “new and improved” is a good example of what not to do. Not only will this quickly turn people away unless the improvements are clearly tangible, you risk scorning customers who bought last years model.

Don’t over-promise – It is never a good idea to promise more than the product or service can deliver.  If your sales pitch raises expectations too high, the customer will have much higher expectations of your product/service. Even a decent experience will seem lackluster if the promises make it out to be more then it is.

The Hype Train while more commonly seen in the movie and gaming world, companies often run into trouble generating excitement or “hype” for a product too far in advance of it’s release date. Enthusiasm for a new product will only last so long, and if you release your product months (or years) after initial excitement has worn off, people won’t be as interested. Keep in mind that even if you do release a product in a timely manner after announcing it, the hype you generate will lead to increased expectations of the products performance.

You might be wondering about companies like Apple who in fact do claim each new iPhone as “New and Improved” and generally ignore these warnings. What they are selling is not just a product or service, it is a feeling – a topic for another day.

Remember: Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

Words that Work, can be found at any major retailer that sells books (ISBN 978-1401309299).

A look into the world of Wordsmithing – A series about crafting messages that engage and delight – Part 2

May 2, 2016

Brevity: Use Short Words to craft a sentence

Abraham Lincoln was once asked how long “How long do you think a man’s legs should be?” He replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.”

Today, we are covering the second rule in Words that Work; “Brevity”, and how you can use it in your day to day communications – with a focus on websites and e-commerce.

When trying to describe a product or service, try to keep the description short and sweet. In the previous blog post on wordsmithing, we discussed swapping out longer, complex terms and jargon for shorter, more effective text. Now, we will look at taking those simple words and crafting them into a powerful sentence.

Some of the best examples of this style of writing can be found in ad slogans. Nike’s “Just do it” or General Mills “They’re grrreat!” Short slogans that pack a powerful punch, instantly bringing to mind an image of a brand and all that is associated with it.

Application

When writing copy for your products or services keep in mind the following tips and tricks:

  • List features as bullets points.
  • Don’t use 10 words when 5 will work.
  • Make your points clear and simple, avoid large blocks of text (Modern readers scan text, make sure your message is clear).
  • Use words with emotional impact. Explain how your product/service will end the customers pain or worry, and use motivational words like “free” and “win”.
  • Use word combos that read smoothly, such as “Try before you buy” or “Money back guarantee” (When it doesn’t sound cheesy.)
  • Use word clusters such as “Easy, Affordable, Safe” or “Quick, Friendly, Professional” to describe your product or service.

Images

We have all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” and to this day that still holds true. If you have an image that can express your intent, cause an emotional appeal, or that describes your product better then your copy, use it.

Images are not only a great way to supplement your copy, but also a great way to keep your text short and sweet. In addition to cutting down the amount of copy you need, images will help to boost your SEO results and drive traffic to a page.

Words that Work, can be found at any major retailer that sells books (ISBN 978-1401309299.)

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.

A look into the world of Wordsmithing – A series about crafting messages that engage and delight.

February 26, 2016

Simplicity: Use Small Words – Part I

“It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” – Frank Luntz

When crafting a message for your business, it is important to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were your own customer, how would you receive the message you are providing? People often craft a message in a way that *they* would like to read it, not taking into account their audience. In this series of blog posts, we will dive into what makes a message great, and look into the art of crafting messages.

Author Frank Luntz’s book, Words that Work outlines several core ideas in how to best make sure your message is heard, as you want it to be heard. Today, we are covering his first rule, “Simplicity.” and how you can use it in your day to day communications – with a focus on websites.

Using Buzzwords

When writing content for your website, don’t get bogged down by using jargon and complicated sounding “buzzwords”.  Simplicity is key.

To quote Luntz, “Using a long word when a short one would suffice tends to raise suspicions: What is this guy trying to sell me? Does he have an ulterior motive?” The most effective language clarifies rather than obscures.“

Remember, short words create credibility and are more memorable to the reader. Many words can be similar in “physical” length, but much shorter in “mental” length.

Consider the following terms:

  • Absolution
  • Audacious
  • Calisthenics
  • Clandestine
  • Prejudice
  • Miscellaneous

Now consider these alternatives for the above:

  • Forgiveness
  • Bold
  • Gymnastics
  • Secret
  • Bias
  • Mixed

Most people will agree that even some of the words in the second list are “physically” just as long, you identify much quicker with them and understand what they are trying to say without having to stop and think about the message. For example, for your e-Commerce site description, consider trying “A mixed selection” instead of “A miscellaneous assortment” when referring to a grab bag or mixed item product.

When writing copy, you might simply be unaware that a better word choice exists. We don’t expect every person to have memorized a Thesaurus. Luckily, several free resources exist online to aid you in crafting the right message. One of them is here. – where you can input the larger word and find a suitable smaller one.  This is another good resource (and where the previous examples come from) for when you run into a really complex sounding word and need to make it more accessible.

We hope this has been helpful in thinking about how you write about your company and products. The art of wordsmithing not only requires the ability to identify what words to use when, but also an understanding of human psychology and social context. Once the art is mastered, however, you will find it much easier to drive sales and acquire new customers.

Words that Work, can be found at any major retailer that sells books (ISBN 978-1401309299.)

Next post we will cover the second principle in Words that Work.

Using short sentences to craft a message.

Social Media App Development

July 10, 2015

There are so many types of “apps” today. Web apps, android apps, iOS apps, amazon apps, and desktop apps just to name a few. One that often gets forgotten is social media applications.

What is a Social Media Application?

It’s a board term, but in general it means it leverages the API of a social media site. It can be used to post on your behalf, read latest posts, or provide statistical information.
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Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.