Design-centric Application Development

December 6th, 2016 by Kaveh Saket

Design-centric application development

A design-centric approach to application development (that’s web applications and mobile applications – is there any other sort these days??) differs from customer-centric or technology-centric approaches which have been more common of recent years. A design-centric approach focuses primarily on ensuring that the user experience is perfect – or perhaps more accurately “nearly perfect”.

There is always room for improvement – another revision, a new update – and users want continual improvement to make their life easier. User experience has been made king because research shows that organisations which focus on design significantly outperform those who don’t.

In a customer-centric approach the customer is asked what they want, and then the designer will set about delivering to their requirements. In a technology-driven approach, the technologists build the best algorithm or new solution to solve a particular problem and then look for a customer who values the technical solution. However, following a design-centric approach the designer will research the best current solutions in the problem landscape, put themselves in the customer’s shoes, and determine to provide the simplest way to achieve the desired goals. Gathering feedback on the design from a variety of potential users of different levels of expertise follows, and leads to iterative refinement until the first version is achieved. The developers – the people who turn the design into reality – are then directed by the design team to ensure that the intended outcome is achieved.

The Uber mobile app is a great example of design-centric application development, which is a significant factor in its amazing success. Anyone who has used the Uber App will agree – from being able to see where the on-approach vehicle is on the map, along with the number of minutes until it arrives continuously updated until arrival, to seeing a photo of the driver and vehicle, one press to make a call to the driver, and immediate payment upon arriving at the destination without needing to handover a credit card. I could go on and on about the ease with which you can hail an Uber, and receive a brilliant experience of private transport…

One of the challenges of current application design is dealing with content. Having little visible content is a very quick way to send users heading for the hills … imagine Instagram with no photos when you launch it, or Twitter with no tweets to read, or Facebook with no posts. However, masses of content with no simple way to navigate it, can be just as off-putting. Requiring a user to search has been the standard approach for many years. Filtering and other ways of helping the visitor to easily drill down to the content they are most interested in, have developed more recently.

At Contact Point we have been embracing SCRUM methodology across our organisation, which also readily supports a design-centric approach. Starting with our client’s goals and objectives within their particular competitive landscape, and their customers’ wants and needs, we will:

  • undertake research into common solutions to the design problem at hand,
  • brainstorm other potential approaches with trusted and experienced colleagues,
  • wire frame the potential solution, getting feedback along the way,
  • apply creative design to the wire framed solution,
  • carry out user testing of the design, iterating as necessary to refine the solution, and
  • finally develop the solution, taking care to ensure that the essence of the planned user interaction is achieved

The above steps will be undertaken for each logical entity that collectively forms the solution, at the same time ensuring consistency throughout the solution as appropriate. After the development of each component, real user testing of people across a broad range of skill levels, will then lead to further refinement. Programmatic A/B testing will allow two or more potential solutions to be tested head to head to ensure the best solution evolves.

The successful execution of a design-centric approach involves many steps, and requires an appetite for iteration, well beyond the launch of a new solution. However, the results are impressive, and for all but the simplest of tasks, likely the only way to achieve raving fans of your solution. Design-centric doesn’t mean that the customer is ignored. In fact the opposite is true with a greater focus on experience combined with needs and wants. Neither is technology ignored – utilizing the most up to date and elegant technology is also paramount to ensuring a great user experience.

What is the best user interface you have experienced from a web or mobile application?

 

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Consumer Decision Journey – throw out the Sales Funnel model!

November 8th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

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As the creator of a broadly used email and SMS marketing solution (eNudge) for the Australia marketplace, I thought that over the years I would see a general improvement in the way email marketing campaigns were constructed and delivered. I’m sad to say that on the whole, nothing much has changed. eNudge provides a myriad tools to help you segment, target, automate, measure and analyse, but it’s in the execution where many people fall down. Business owners and marketers get busy, and then just flick off a quick email to get a spike in sales. They are content with a spike and move on.

However, I know there is a better way … there always has been. Many marketers refer to it as lead nurturing, and email campaigns (including the eNudge Message Series functionality) are an excellent way to nurture your leads. For many years, marketing personnel have been working with a Sales Funnel model in mind – a linear movement of a potential buyer through awareness, interest, desire and finally action (buy). Lead nurturing refers to understanding where your lead is in the sales funnel, and give them the next piece of information that they need to take them to the next step in the journey; the next step closer towards being ready to buy.

I could be placated if I saw email marketing being used more for lead nurturing … more value and information being supplied, in a logical flow, engaging with potential buyers and taking them down a path to understanding and trusting you. However, thoughts even on lead nurturing have moved on …

The changing landscape of information availability via the internet including the impact of social media, and more recent research into buyer behaviour, suggests throwing out the sales funnel model and replacing it with what is being called by McKinsey as the “Consumer Decision Journey“. McKinsey research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: 1/ consider, 2/ evaluate, 3/ buy, and 4/ enjoy, advocate, bond. During stage 2 (evaluate) where the Sales Funnel approach says the the options get narrowed down, this in reality is where the brands most active online often replace the brands that were in the original consideration list (perhaps added to the list because of traditional advertising). The consumer’s options actually expand during this phase and the originals often get thrown out where there isn’t enough information online or customer reviews to support them.

Even more critical in what is being seen now in consumer behaviour, McKinsey discovered that during the 4th stage (enjoy-advocate-bond) more than 60% of consumers conduct online research about the products after purchase – a touch point entirely missing from the sales funnel approach. It is during this after purchase where your customer will advocate for your product or service by word of mouth, and produce online content to help future consumers in the consider and evaluate phases.

Other recent research by the Harvard Business Review team has shown that achieving the “full” sale to a B2B client is best achieved by providing the opportunity for that client to purchase small prototypes or incremental products along the buying journey i.e. as part of the evaluate stage. For more about this read: “To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time“.

It was no small task, but the Harvard Business Review article describes an example implementation of changing the view of marketing to that of the ‘Consumer Decision Journey’ lead to a new TV becoming the top seller on Amazon.com and the company’s best performer in retail stores, far exceeding the marketers’ expectations.

To ensure that your product or service is not thrown out by prospects during the Evaluate phase of the consumer journey, and to help new customers to Enjoy, Advocate and Bond:

  1. Make sure your product or service is present online, not only in your own website, but also in comparison sites and marketplaces (for B2C) and online communities (for B2B)
  2. Foster online reviews of your products and services via social media and 3rd party websites
  3. Provide rich and easily accessible information online for people who have already purchased your product or service to help them get the most out of it
  4. Introduce new ways to inspire existing customers to refer their friends and colleagues to you – think DropBox who give away additional storage space for referring business

Your email marketing activities should assist you with with each of the above. Email campaigns should be created specifically for new customers and should point to additional online resources, and specifically ask for reviews or feedback. Email campaigns to your wider database should reference case studies and additional information available to help prospects in the evaluate phase.

If you need help with:

  • creating incremental or prototype products to sell to your clients as they evaluate,
  • creating additional online content,
  • making your online content more engaging,
  • ensuring you have a vibrant social media presence,
  • ensuring your product or service can be found easily online (SEO), or
  • creating email marketing campaigns that engage,

don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We are passionate about helping businesses to grow using online technologies.

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Custom Digital Marketing Solutions are here!

September 1st, 2016 by Cameron Collins

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Providing a customised Digital Marketing Solution ensures that our services are tuned to your budget, objectives, target market, and current position in the digital landscape. We are tuned into giving your organisation a competitive advantage, and delivering measurable results.

The following list summarises the activities that may be part of a digital marketing solution for your organisation. We would love to talk to you about your particular requirements, so feel free to get in touch.

1. Content curation

Content curation involves sourcing relevant articles, media and editorial and then re-posting possibly after adding your slant on the content. The aim here is helping, not selling. Curated content must be engaging, or provide a solution to common problems your target audience would face. Curating content is a cost effective way to gain exposure, whilst building trust and demonstrating your leadership and expertise within your industry.

2. Blog / Editorial writing

Looking for a way to add some personality to your businesses image? Want customers to be interested in who you are and what you are doing? Blog posts let you draw your audience in a bit closer and inform them about what is going on in your organisation and industry. Editorials posted into another businesses blog or email newsletter instantaneously broaden the reach of your organisation.

3. Web content writing

You know what you are selling, but not sure how to present it on your website? People have a hunger for information, yet do not have the time or patience to dig through hundreds of words.

Instead of visiting or calling each store, customers are searching the internet to narrow their selection before talking to sales staff. We construct web content that gets your key points across in a clear and concise manner, and in a tone that engages your target audience.

4. Social media posting

How do you reach out and find new customers that are not actively looking for your product/service, but may be very interested once they know you exist? How do you advertise and create brand awareness, without spending a fortune on television ads and billboards? Social media has levelled the playing field, allowing those in small businesses that have creative and unique ideas to compete with much larger organisations.

5. Social media ads writing

Are you looking to conduct an advertising campaign, but you only want to be seen by your target market, instead of wasting money sending it to everyone? Many traditional forms of advertising are expensive and inefficient – you may be selling cricket bats, but your television ad is being shown to people that don’t even play cricket! We create social media ad campaigns that only reach those you wish to target.

6. Social media management (ads and interactions)

Would you like to have an ad campaign, yet don’t have the time to manage your ads and create new posts? Social media does require regular attention and can cause communication issues with customers if it is neglected. We manage campaigns, respond to customer interactions, seek constant improvement in ad performance and report the key results back to you.

7. Paid ads writing & landing page design and build

When was the last time you googled a product, a service or a shop, before making a purchase? Many people turn to Google almost daily to quickly compare their options and make their buying decision.

If you could ensure your business was on the top of the page when someone searched for your type of product/service, how much money would this be worth to you? We collaborate with businesses to ensure that your name is seen by the right people at the right time!

8. Paid ads management

How much is an adequate amount to spend each time a customer clicks on my ad? How many conversions am I making each month? Who is seeing my ads? Setting up and managing a Google ad campaign on your own can be confusing! We manage the ad campaigns for a variety of clients and know how to give your brand the best exposure regardless of budget. Our monthly reports give you the information you need in a simple, easy to read format.

9. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

When was the last time you looked at the second page of Google search results? You probably don’t remember! Most people don’t have time to look at every website that appears in the Google search rankings, and if they can find what they were looking for in the first 2 or 3 clicks, then why bother?

How many more sales would you make if prospective customers saw your business ahead of your competitors? We work with a wide range of organisations to lift their Google rankings for relevant and popular search terms.

SEO is a constantly changing field. With more businesses optimising their websites for SEO and Google regularly changing their algorithms to provide the best quality search results, websites need frequent attention to ensure they don’t just make the top rankings, they stay there too.

10. Email Marketing

Email is by no means dead … in fact, it is still the most cost effective tool in the Digital Marketing landscape. Of course… we are all flooded with emails, so it is vital that your email campaigns are executed very well. We assist our clients to design, build in HTML (preferably mobile responsive) and send, ensuring that you make the most of technology opportunities to automate a stream of messages, personalise, track interactions, and encourage social and other sharing.

11. SMS (Text Message) Marketing

SMS is a very personal communication channel for your contacts. It has it’s own peculiar advantages and disadvantages. We assist our clients to ensure that this medium is used well, including the ability to easily unsubscribe and receive immediate replies to your messages.

12. Surveys / Diagnostics

Also known as an online questionnaire, these tools can be highly engaging, help to build trust, and of course feed your pipeline with pre-qualified leads. Often these tools will be combined with a pay per click and/or email campaign.

13. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Okay, so you have lots of people coming to your website, and lots of interactions happening, but in the back of your mind you worry that more can be done … but what exactly?? That’s where CRO comes in – the programmatic adjustment of layout, content and imagery to determine which elements, or combinations of factors, deliver the optimal number of conversions (leads, sales, enquiries, submissions).

Let’s not call this list complete! The ways that we can assist you with marketing your organisation using online technologies will continue to evolve.

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The evolution of the mobile phone

August 27th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

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10 years ago, who would have thought that a mobile phone would one day replace your:

  • schedule – and alert you when your appointment is coming up
  • watch – many people no longer where a watch; me … I wear a Samsung Galaxy watch which displays all the notifications on my phone … I accidentally keep calling it my phone, as it nearly is…
  • camera – taking better photos than most of the cameras of 10 years ago. Film free, and easy to share with your family at the press of a button
  • selfie taker – well selfies didn’t exist before the smart phone!
  • photo album – showing off your latest collection of baby photos couldn’t be easier
  • notepad – and store those notes in the cloud so that you can get them from wherever you are
  • weather service – do yo remember the phone number you could call to have todays’ weather read to you. I’m not sure that exists anymore. You probably have todays’ weather showing constantly on your phone home screen. At the press of a button you can get the next 5 days forecast, or the temperature as it will change throughout the day.
  • encyclopedia – need to read up about a particular topic? no problem just type in your search and Google / Bing will have the answer in a jiffy. I wonder who the last person in the world was to buy an Encyclopedia Britannica?
  • map – not only can you find where you need to go, it will also read directions to you as you travel
  • teletext service – write and deliver short messages to anyone in an instant
  • personal music collection – storing not just one ‘album’ of songs, but your whole collection, also backed up in the cloud just in case. Add to your personal collection on the go.
  • word processor – yes, you can write documents on the fly, if you are keen enough
  • calculator – including a scientific version
  • credit card – with the launch of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, it is now commonplace to see people paying at the PayWave machines using their mobile phone. Leave the wallet at home!
  • banking – check your balances, pay your bills, transfer money from one account to another
  • shop – many online stores are now making it super easy for you to shop through their website, even on a mobile phone. Order your new clothes, or your groceries for delivery to your home, while you are on the go.
  • tracking device – let others know where you are, know when the Uber driver is about to arrive, know where your lost phone is …
  • pedometer – not everyone uses one of these, but not having to attach a pedometer to your belt is very convenient. Just make sure it’s not set to track the distance you travel as an indicator of your steps!
  • stop watch – time your sprint, your presentation …
  • health and fitness diary – your smart phone will also come with an app to track your daily exercise, diet and weight. Great for those attuned to the health and fitness of their bodies.
  • your latest novel – reading a book on your phone means one less thing to take with you on your daily commute
  • reference books – for example, the Bible is a hugely popular download, with many options, and allowing you to search and annotate
  • newspaper – catching up on the news is a cinch; no need to buy the newspaper (and don’t the news companies know this!)
  • magazine – most popular magazines now have a phone version
  • dictionary – check the meaning of a word as you read it
  • compass – for those who need to know what direction they are travelling in!
  • radio – and not just the local stations; we’re talking free radio from around the world
  • TV – or playing short videos shared through You Tube and other video platforms
  • in-flight entertainment – connect into the airline provider’s app and play from their collection of TV shows, radio and movies
  • video phone – not just talking … seeing the person you are talking to as well

But wait, you say, some of the above list are only if you have certain apps installed. Well, every function on your smart phone is facilitated via an app. The following are also examples of the apps commonly being used on mobile phones:

  • door key – yes, that’s right … no need to carry your keys; approach your door and voila it opens
  • parking meter minder – one of my favourite apps which makes my life so much easier, particularly as I rarely have coins on my person
  • taxi pager – Uber is the most incredible service combined with app. I’m sorry, but now I’ve used Uber, I’m unlikely to ever hire a taxi again. The benefits are amazing compared to the traditional way of getting a taxi ride, dealing with the driver, and paying at the end.
  • AFL fixture as well as the up to the minute ladder, and scores during the big game
  • watering system controller – another personal favourite of mine, allowing me to stop the watering of my lawn and other parts of the garden if it’s already raining. If I got organised, the watering could adjust itself based on the local weather station
  • mirror – okay, it’s really a live selfie!
  • torch – not the most powerful, but definitely that feature has come in handy for me more than once!
  • spreadsheet – I remember when the first spreadsheet program came out. Amazingly useful for all manner of mathematical modelling or just keeping track of and charting data.
  • expense tracker – there are a myriad apps for keeping track of your expenses, including scanning your receipts
  • shopping list – including ticking off as you fill your basket
  • recipe book – it can be a little tedious keeping the screen alive as you move between steps in your recipe, but I’ve used my phone for this purpose numerous times
  • heart rate monitor – more and more medical apps are coming out to help people monitor not only their heart rate but other important vital readings
  • social commentary – what’s going on in the news / TV / politics / sport … you can be part of it quickly and easily by posting on social media via your phone
  • game console – some games have been developed specifically for small phone screens and the unique way they are held; think tilt

Of course … you can also make phone calls! And you can make those free around the globe, if you have the right app installed.

No wonder people experience anxiety when they lose or break their phone!

Want to re-live the transitioning of the mobile phone? This article captures the main mobile phone models from 1973 through to 2008. The first smart phone only hit the market in 2006. How far they have come in just 10 years!

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UI UX Design Trends in 2016 and beyond

June 14th, 2016 by Chris Torralba

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A Google search of the definition of ‘user experience’ returns: the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

The definition of user interface is the means by which the user and a computer system interact, in particular the use of input devices and software.

Clearly user experience is significantly impacted by the user interface design, but it is also affected by text content and process flow. The overall aim is the creation of websites and apps that provide unique and clean designs, communicating clearly with the user, which not only attract users, but make them want to come back. User interface design uses typography, colour and layout to create the best possible user experience. Below I have described 7 user interface design trends that contribute to a great user experience and which I expect will be very popular this year and beyond.

#1 Responsive Design

Responsive design takes a website and re-arranges and resizes certain elements to display better depending on the size of the screen being used to view the content. With the enormous uptake of mobile devices for internet browsing, responsive design is becoming less of a trend and more of a common practice when it comes to web design. Last year Google announced that mobile responsiveness will affect a websites rank in search results, making responsive design a must have. “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” You can read more about this announcement in our previous blog post: Mobile Responsiveness just became even more important for high ranks in Google and you can read more about responsive design techniques.
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#2 Flat Design

Flat Design is a minimalistic approach in designing websites and user interfaces where all 3D elements, gradients, shadows and other effects are stripped away. Flat design is about allowing the content to speak for itself. By removing unnecessary styling, it makes for faster loading pages, simpler code, and adaptability. Whether viewed on a desktop or on a mobile screen, flat designs are always legible and adaptable.

Below are some examples of flat design icons.
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#3 Material Design

A few years ago Google introduced Material Design which is a design philosophy, or more simply put, a style guide for designers to follow. The name “Material Design” is a metaphor for physical materials (such as paper) which have thickness and are impacted by light sources such as directional light and ambient light, and content which is placed upon the materials. The style guide seeks to apply the rules of physics to the way material is depicted in designs, and the way content is placed upon it. Based on these guides, the goal of Material Design is to allow a unified experience across all platforms and devices. It breaks down everything from colour palettes, font choices, spacing, and animation. Just like flat design, Material Design is also content focused. The popularity of this minimalistic design approach will continue to increase as it makes a website or an app look cleaner and load faster by taking out unnecessary elements.

You can view Google’s complete guide to Material Design here.
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#4 Card Style Layouts

Card style layouts for mobile and desktop websites are boxed pieces of content that looks like it is featured on a playing card. Card style boxes typically hold one unique piece of content or information. The Card style layout is a great way to organize large amounts of content. It is highly functional and can be easily integrated with responsive layouts; designers can add and collapse columns of cards to fit the shape and size of the screen. Card style layouts have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years and developing together with other techniques such as responsive design and flat design.

Below is an example of a website designed by Contact Point which uses card style layout. Read more about in our Henry Langdon website case study.
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#5 Dramatic Typography

Today’s minimal and streamlined web and app designs allow typefaces to be more dramatic and have stronger impact. With free type kits like Google Fonts, designers and developers are able to use fonts that look great on all screens.
image-typography

#6 Large Background Images & Videos

One way of making a website stand out is by having great imagery displayed prominently. Large background images and videos can help engage users more; it is captivating and focuses attention on the content. With browsers supporting HTML5 video, increased bandwidth, the popularity of background images and background videos on websites will grow even more.
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#7 Greater Use of Animation

When used in the right place and at the right time, animations can truly enhance a users experience and it can convey a message more effectively. Well executed animations can help guide and offer context to the user. Conversely, too much animation or transitions can disrupt the flow and distract the user from an otherwise good digital experience.

The Mollard website designed by Contact Point using parallax techniques is a great example of the use of animation.
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Let me know if there are other UI / UX design trends which you believe I’ve missed!

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Getting Started with Google Adwords for your Website

April 5th, 2016 by Trevor Robinson

You’ve heard about Google Adwords or Pay Per Click campaigns to bring people to your website, but you don’t know what’s involved, or how to get started. This blog post will help you take your first steps to enticing additional visitors to your website, and inspiring those visitors to take action (buy, browse or enquire).

Before we get into that, a quick summary of Google Adword… Google’s paid text ads can appear at the top, in amongst, or at the bottom of, the regular (referred to as ‘organic’ in the web developer world) search results. The text ads have a set format specified by Google. You can recognise the ads by a small orange image that says ‘Ad’ – well, that’s for the moment, Google changes ad positions and styles from time to time. Your ads can also appear in the ‘Display Network’ – websites of organisations or individuals who have decided to try earn some extra revenue by being paid by Google to display your ads. The feature embedded into 3rd party websites to show Google ads is called ‘Google Adsense’.

GoogleAd

You can also setup image ads, which can encourage more people to notice and click through. Google more recently has implemented an initiative called ‘Re-marketing’ whereby Google tracks who is visiting the websites of advertisers, and then show that advertisers’ ads to those same people when they visit other sites containing Google Adsense. In a way the ad “follows” the person. This strategy is clearly very effective in getting a person to return and buy the product or service being advertised, however, it can be disconcerting / annoying for some. You need to specifically set up Google Re-marketing if you want your ads to follow people around.

GoogleRemarketingAdsinGumtree

The Google Shopping Feed is another tool for inserting your products into search engine results.

GoogleShoppingFeed

Whenever a person clicks on your ad, they are taken to a page of your website that you specify, and in doing so, are causing you to owe Google a small fee for that click. The fee amount depends on numerous factors, but will usually be around the same amount for a specific ad – when you setup the ad, Google will tell you the likely cost per click. When you setup your ads, you will also set a daily budget for click costs per day, and Google will not exceed that cost.

That’s the summary… now, back to getting started!

Step #1 – your objectives

Knowing what your objectives are is essential for achieving them!

Your objectives for your Google Ads are likely to be phrased in one of the following formats:

  • Attract 50 new visitors looking for product/service XYZ per month, in order to receive 25 enquiries and convert 10 into new customers
    OR
  • Attract 500 new visitors requiring service XYZ, in order to add 400 people to our email database
    OR
  • Attract 1000 people wanting to purchase XYZ product, in order to sell 250 products

It can be tempting for business owners to think that they want unlimited new visitors to their website… why put a number on it!? However, in reality, unless your product or service is 100% delivered in a hands-off manner, there will be a limit to the number you can sell in any given month based on your current stock / staffing / processes etc.

Step #2 – writing your ads

Your ads will potentially appear in amongst ads of your competitors and/or in amongst other search engine results, so it is important that your ad stands out or grabs the attention of the searcher, to be more likely to be clicked.

Before writing ads for our clients, we always look at the ads of competitors, and ensure that we take a different approach.

The set format for ads means that there are very few words for you to play with, so writing a succinct but attention-grabbing ad, which appropriately represents your organisation and the destination page, can be tricky!

Step #3 – tailoring the destination page

Your ad needs to deliver – when the searcher clicks on the ad, it MUST take the person to a relevant page of your website that meets the expectation set by the ad. If it doesn’t, the searcher will disappear in an instant (but you’ve paid for that visit), and your reputation will suffer a tiny bit of damage because you have just wasted that person’s time.

The destination page – also called the ‘landing page’ – will likely need some adjustment to ensure that the searcher knows in an instant that they are in the right place. Repeating that text of your add in the first heading and paragraph of the landing page is one way to achieve this.

The landing page should also include a relevant ‘call to action’ related to the ad. Depending on your objectives, your call to action could be ‘sign up for our newsletter‘ or it could be ‘buy now’… Calls to action are often brightly designed images hyperlinked to another page of your site, or text hyperlinks.

Because of the need to tailor the destination page to ensure that the ad, for which you have paid, delivers the highest return on investment, often you are better off creating a specific landing page for every ad you run.

Call-To-Action-Button-Examples

Step #4 – setting up your ads

Once you have your ads written, and landing pages ready to go, you need to setup your ads inside the Google Adwords tool: https://www.google.com.au/adwords/ You need to have a Google Account to login and start configuring your ads. You also need to attach a credit card to your Google Adwords Account in order to start your ads running.

The Google Adwords tool can be a little confusing at first, because there are so many settings and options for your ads. So, if you are going to do this step yourself, you are wise to work your way through some Google Tutorials on how it is done.

Some important settings to look out for when setting up your ads:

  • Keywords – you associate each ad with a set of keywords, and these keywords are the main factor in the cost per click charged by Google for your ad. Google provides a tool for helping you choose appropriate keywords. The most cost effective keywords are those with low competitor activity (few others bidding for that word / phrase) yet a high number of monthly searches.
  • Exact or broad match – the Adwords tool defaults your keywords to ‘broad’ match, meaning that if any of the words in your keyword or phrase appear in any part of the search term entered by the searcher, or synonyms of your keywords, then your ad can be displayed. For example, if the key phrase you are bidding for is ‘ladies hats’ and the searcher types in ‘baseball hats’ in Google, then your ad may appear if you specified broad match. Google defaults to broad match because it is trying to give your ad the most exposure possible, and relies on your ad being written well enough so that only your target market will click on it. However, you run the risk of people mistakenly clicking on your ad, and costing you money.
  • Negative keywords – these allow you to stop Google from presenting your ad if a particular word (the negative keyword) is included in the searched for words. For example, if you sell top end perfume and bid on the search term ‘perfume’ with a negative keyword of ‘cheap’, then if a searcher types in ‘cheap perfume’ your ad will not be displayed. Use of negative keywords is an obvious way to ensure that only the right target audience sees your ad.
  • Time of day – you can specify which days of the week, and the time of the day, that your ad should be displayed. If it is very unlikely that your target audience are looking for your services at 2:00 AM in the morning, then displaying your ad at that time would be a waste and attract people from the wrong country.
  • Location – you can also specify where the searcher can be located, either by city, region or country.
  • Budget – you can specify not only your daily budget but also how quickly you spend that e.g. spread over a month, or spent as quickly as possible. If your ads are not displayed or clicked on, then your budget won’t be spent.

There are many other settings for your ads; reading Google’s tutorials about these will go a long way to helping you work out the best setting for your ads.

Step #5 – managing your ads

In order for your ads to start displaying in Google search engine results you must have a valid credit card attached to your account, and your ads must be approved by Google. The approval process can take several hours, and is necessary after every change to the text of your ads.

It is important to check on your ads on a regular basis with regard to the following:

  • Ensure they are still running!
  • Ad Impressions – if your ad is never being shown, then it will never be clicked on. You may need to adjust your bid, keywords, or ad copy to improve impressions.
  • Ad Position – you need to check that your ads are being placed high enough in the ads to actually be likely to be seen and clicked. This will depend on advertiser competition, and the amount you are willing to pay per click for your ad.
  • Click through rate (CTR) – some ads will attract searchers more than others – these will have higher CTRs, and are likely the ads you will want to spend more money on, and perhaps pause the others – but only if they are also delivering against your objectives.
  • Actual cost per click – if the average click cost is very close to your maximum bid, you may be missing out on potential clicks and therefore should try increasing your budget. If your daily budget, because the average cost per click is so high, won’t deliver enough potential customers to meet your objectives, then you need to consider increasing your budget or choosing different keywords that attract a lower cost per click.
  • Keywords – over time, the terms being used by searchers to find your ads may evolve, so you may need to adjust the keywords associated with each ad. You may also find that people are clicking on your ad
  • Display Network – if you allow your ads to appear within the display network, you should check that your ads are showing in appropriate sites. It’s time consuming to check each website in which your ad has appeared and then adjust, but you can prevent your ad from appearing again in particular websites.

Managing your ads is a little involved, and not managing them well can either cost you serious dollars or mean that you are missing out of potential customers and not meeting your advertising objectives.

We understand that setting up and managing Google Adwords can seem daunting, so if you need any assistance we’re happy to help.

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Is it time to fix my website?

January 24th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

Is it time to fix your websiteThe start of the year affords most business owners a little more space to consider our organisations from a more macro perspective. For many businesses, their “shopfront” is their website. Making sure that your shopfront is presenting your organisation appropriately, and delivering the best results, are macro questions businesses owners should ask on a regular basis.

A key objective for many websites is lead generation, and therefore another important question is “Am I receiving enough inbound leads, of the right type of people, through my website?”

The right type of person is important. If the leads arising from your website are predominantly from people who need a different product or service, or are looking for a cheaper alternative, or who are too large or small for your organisation to effectively support, then there’s a problem.

The enough will depend on the size and resources within your organisation. Most organisations have a limit to the number of inbound enquiries they can handle well at any point in time.

If the answer is “no”, you aren’t receiving enough qualified enquiry (or sales) from your website, then you will have one of the following problems:

  1. Not easily found. Your website isn’t being found in the search engines, on the right search terms. Or looking at this another way, the right people aren’t searching using the terms for which your site is optimised.
  2. Stopping at the door. When people find your website, its appearance or the user experience is turning people away. For example, they can’t quickly find what they are looking for, or trying to view your website on a phone is difficult.
  3. Failure to engage. When the visitor reads through your content or uses the functionality you provide, they aren’t engaged, their curiosity isn’t aroused sufficiently or their questions aren’t answered, so they move on rather than submitting an enquiry.

If you have invested heavily in your website (e.g. financially, including your own time, or emotionally), it can be painful to admit that it has any of the above problems, or know which one/s. Looking at the data about your website performance will help you hypothesize what may be wrong.

Bounce Rate
Your website bounce rate is a measure provided through Google Analytics which shows the percentage of people who look at one page of your site, and leave your website without clicking anywhere else. This measure can be an indicator of the engagement problem, a user experience problem, or that the visitors who are arriving are the wrong type of people.

Pathways & Exit Pages
Google Analytics will also show you the most common pathways through your website. When a person arrives on page x they then usually go to page y, and page z and then leave. This may help you to identify the pages that need to be re-written so that you aren’t losing visitors because of poor content, or because you aren’t making it easy for them to take the next step at the right point in their likely pathway.
Alternatively, you may find that visitors are mostly going down a path in your content that isn’t the optimal path for the information they require, and therefore the information architecture or calls to action need adjusting.

Device Usage
Google Analytics data will show you the percentage of your website visitors who are using a mobile device. This will help you determine whether it is time to invest in a mobile responsive website. Having a mobile responsive website will also help with your search engine ranking. As of the 21st April last year, Google made it clear that for people searching while using a mobile device, that it would give preference in the search results to websites that are responsive.

Search Terms and Search Engine Ranks
Your Google Analytics data will also give you a guide to what search terms are delivering visitors to your website.
A check on where you are ranking for search terms you are targeting will help you know whether you are likely to be found. You should be aiming for as close to the top of the first page of results as possible, but definitely in the first 3 pages.

Google Keyword Tool
The Google Keyword Tool will help you determine what search terms are most being used to search for your type of product or service, and how competitive those search terms are – useful if you are considering using Pay Per Click advertising to bring visitors immediately to your website when your organic ranks aren’t good enough.

Competitor Research
Assessing the websites of your competitors against a set of pre-determined criteria can help you to identify where your website might be less engaging.

As long as you have Google Analytics setup against your website, easily available data can be a great source of information about what may be causing a lack of inbound enquiry from your website. The following techniques will help you go deeper into the analysis of the problem.

Market Research
Asking a statistically significant number of people in your target market a set of well-crafted questions can help you to identify how your target market are perceiving your website, and what might turn them away.

You need to be able to answer the question: “Will my target audience find the answers to the questions they are likely to ask?” and “Will my target audience find solutions to their common problems?”

Conversion Rate Optimisation
If you have setup conversion tracking on obvious places within your website such as hyperlinks and form submission buttons, you will be able to calculate the conversion rate for visitors being presented with that content. Conversion tracking can be achieved using various tools – Google Tag Manager being one of them.

If you are advertising your website through Google Adwords, click through rate is an important indicator of engagement with your ads.

If the traffic to your website is sufficient, programmatically delivering alternative content to a page, and testing the conversion rate of the alternative text, will provide you with sound data on which alternative is the more optimal for producing engagement. For example, if your analysis suggests that the content is an issue because the text isn’t speaking directly to the target audience you may decide to craft 2 or more alternative headlines, introductory paragraphs and calls to action, and then test these against one another for the most beneficial version.

There’s lots involved in making a website great. “Fixing it” may require a full design refresh and re-build into a mobile responsive website with richer functionality, or it may be as simple as re-writing the content to be more concise, helpful and engaging and/or adding more obvious calls to action.

If you would like to discuss the performance of your website, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Exploring the Introduction of 3D Touch for iPhone 6S

November 22nd, 2015 by Hubert Yap

The release of iOS 9 on 16th September, 2015 introduced two significant new features on iOS devices: Multitasking on iPad, and 3D Touch on iPhone. This blog post will explain what 3D Touch means for users, and how it can be incorporated into mobile apps to improve the user experience.
3D Touch for iPhones

At the time of writing, 3D Touch is only available for two device models: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Unfortunately the iPad Pro, which was released on November 2015, does not support this feature.

3D Touch introduces three new ways to interact with compatible iPhone apps:

  • Home Screen Quick Actions
  • Peek and Pop
  • Force Properties

Home Screen Quick Actions gives the user a kind of shortcut to up to four of the app’s key functions from the app icon on their home screen. Think of it like an additional navigation on the user’s home screen that allows them to navigate quickly to a specific screen or feature inside the app. This is a great time-saver for users, allowing them super quick access to their favourite function within your app.

The Home Screen Quick Actions can be a simple static set of shortcuts, or it can be a dynamic list of actions, or a combination of both. The static shortcut will always appear on top of the dynamically generated shortcut. They can contain up to two lines of text and an optional icon. The user can activate this feature by pressing the app’s icon on the home screen until they feel a small vibration which will then open the list of shortcuts (this is instead of the simple press to open the app, which of course is still available).

Peek and Pop allows the user to quickly preview content, such as a web page, from a link in their browser. This feature activates when pressing a user interface component (e.g. a link). If the link has any previewable content, its surrounding will be blurred to let the user know they can preview the content of that link. As the user keeps pressing with additional pressure, they will feel a small vibration, then a preview window (“Peek” window) will appear, displaying the content that will be shown if the user presses the link in the usual manner.

Whilst seeing the ‘peek’ view, the user has 3 options:

  1. Release the link. By releasing the pressed link, the “Peek” window will disappear, returning the user to the previous screen.
  2. Keep pressing. The user will feel another vibration and this is will “Pop” the window and take the user to the next screen as if they have clicked the link.
  3. Slide the screen up. This action shows additional buttons that the user can click to trigger a related action. For example, if they were pressing a website link, there will be an option to open the link, copy the link, or add it to a reading list.

The peek and pop feature is very useful when the user is not sure what will happen if they click a link, or when they are not sure if the link contains the information they require. For example, your application might present a collection of PDF files, listed by name. “Peek and Pop” allows the user to “Peek” on each file and release or “Pop” it instead of needing to click on each file and go back to the previous screen to click another file, until they find the file they are seeking. Again, it’s all about speed and convenience for the user.

Finally, Force Properties allows the app to detect the force applied to a certain UI component and triggers the app to react on the force event. For example, a piano app can now play a piano sound louder if the user presses the piano key harder; a drawing app can draw wider lines when the user strokes with greater pressure. Force Properties adds to pre-existing gestures such as tapping, tap-and-holding, swiping, and pinching, to allow intuitive behaviour upon additional pressure being applied to the screen.

3D touch opens up possibilities not previously available inside Apple apps. Whilst Force Properties usefulness depends on the interactivity of the app itself, we expect that most applications can enhance their user experience with the Home Screen Quick Actions, and Peek and Pop capability.

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Gamification of your online store

October 28th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

gamificationAll of you who attended the Melbourne Business Network event yesterday morning with me, and heard James Tuckerman speak about “5 disruptive trends and tactics that will reinvent how business is done in 2016″, will undoubtedly have been considering how you can implement gamification.

Gamification is “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts” (source).

But first, if you are interested in some recent statistics on the impact of gamification, here’s an article I found which is a quick read: Gamification in 2015: Top Statistics and Facts. Here’s some more facts and figures.

Here’s a quick brainstorm on how to implement gamification into the online shopping experience (without culling the ridiculous … yes, aliens may get a mention).

Let’s get the obvious out the way first:

  • For first time customers (you can work that out based on their email address) after successful payment immediately reward them with a ‘first time customer’ badge, and give them something as a reward – that might be an additional extra product thrown into their first delivery, a discount off their next purchase, reward points …

By the way, before I go on … congratulations on choosing to read this blog, and getting past the first few paragraphs! Click here to get your reward. Seriously now, click!

Now where were we … okay, back to the perhaps less obvious ideas (and you wouldn’t necessarily do all of these things simultaneously):

  1. After the customer adds an item into their shopping cart, congratulate them with a badge and explain that they are x steps closer to owning their new item. Sounds, visuals and a feeling of game play are important aspects of gamification; so don’t make it too boring.
  2. As the customer works their way through the checkout, make it into a game … giving them fun visuals showing that they are progressing through the purchasing of their prize.
  3. For returning customers, give them a different reward compared to first timers … perhaps accrue points towards their free / goal purchase. To make this feel like a game, perhaps avoid a “frequent flier points” style point system, and lean more towards collecting cute ‘widgets’ to achieve a goal number of ‘widgets’.
  4. For customers who click through from your purchase confirmation email, to track the progress of their order or shipping, show them another badge – the excited shopper award perhaps! Make this sometimes anxious stage of the wait fun for your customer, and ease their mind that their parcel is on the way.
  5. For customers who click through to view your terms and conditions or payment security page, show them another badge – the careful shopper award perhaps. Again, this helps you to turn this more serious matter into something more light hearted and friendly.

Alright … there’s the brainstorm. You’ve probably thought of a few more, so please add to the above list via the comments!

Or tell us if you have noticed gamification popping up in business websites, like the DropBox example 1 and example 2?

NB: There is a real life prize for the first comment added to this blog post. You will receive your surprise gift in the mail.

 

 

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Split Testing Your way to Optimal Web Page Content

September 15th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

What is Split Testing?

Split testing, also referred to as A/B testing or multivariate testing, is a method of delivering multiple versions of a web page in order to gather data about the efficacy of particular content (images, text, forms or video). Incoming traffic is distributed between the original (control) version and different variations without the user knowing that they are actually part of an experiment.

A/B testing involves testing two variations of a web page against each other to distinguish which version of the web page is the most effective.

Multivariate testing involves comparing multiple variations of a web page in order to distinguish which combination of variations is the most effective.

A/B testing is excellent if you are after quick insights regarding isolated page elements, and is best for websites with lower traffic volume. Multivariate testing tends to be a more intricate process. Given the multiple variations and possible combinations, multivariate testing requires more testing time and is better suited to high-traffic websites, in order to yield statistically significant results.

Why Split Test?

Perhaps your website is ranking really well in the major search engines, or maybe your search engine marketing and social media marketing efforts are generating traffic through to your landing pages, but that traffic that you have worked so hard for isn’t turning into conversions (clicks, enquiries, sales, signup…).

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is all about making the most out of your website visits, gathering data about your visitors’ interaction with your website to ascertain how your conversion rate can be improved. Split testing is an important part of CRO.

What can be tested?

Any element that can be moved on your web page can be included in your split tests, however before testing, like any good science experiment we start with an hypothesis formulated after analysing the behaviour of your current traffic perhaps using heat map analysis.

The most important on-page elements on a web page are likely to be:

  • Call-to-action buttons / text / links
  • Introductory headline
  • Web page graphics
  • Text content such as sales copy and product descriptions

How is it implemented?

Once an hypothesis has been agreed, the alternate content needs to be written or designed, and programmatically added to the target web page using special script that will deliver alternate versions of the content to different visitors. A returning visitor will always see the same content, as long as they are using the same PC & browser.

After a statistically significant set of test results have been gathered, the outcome of the test can then be analysed and if conclusive, the winning content can be permanently applied to your web page, for all visitors.

CRO-graph

Running a simple split test on the position of a call-to-action, or the text used in your main headline can make a big difference to your bottom line. Repeating the process and testing another change, and another change, will ultimately lead to optimal content for the desired visitor action.

Split Testing is a tool used by the most savvy websites, and is now available to Contact Point clients – please get in touch if you have a web page that isn’t delivering the conversions you are seeking!

 

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