Responsive Website Design for Today’s Market

Responsive web design refers to creating Internet content that is not only accessible but optimal when viewed by many different devices, be they laptops, smartphones, tablets, or the next new gadget (i.e. Google Glass). The proliferation of mobile devices has made this the standard expectation in the industry – customer attention and interaction now depends on it.

Responsive Website design

When a user views your site on their smartphone, will they be confronted with a distorted portion of a huge image? Will they be able to push the little buttons with their fingers, or use menus easily? Did you take into account that one popular device that needed some special optimization attention?

The Problem

In the absence of responsive web design, if an industrial marketing business wants their site to be easily accessible from desktops and mobile devices they need to create a separate version of the site for each platform. This means maintaining two versions of a domain, two versions of the content, two versions of the design, etc. Start adding different devices with different requirements (iPad, Xbox, Samsung) and the process quickly spirals out of control.

Two of the most pressing problems facing the responsive website design community are converting older sites to become responsive, and dealing with the massive amount of new devices constantly flooding the market.

So, how are web developers ensuring that their designs are responsive and always look beautiful, no matter the platform? Pictures and videos need to be sized appropriately; buttons need to be big enough and spaced far enough apart to be pressed accurately with fingers; resolution needs to be adjusted to fit screen size and connection speed; orientation needs to be accounted for, if the user might hold their phone upside-down or sideways.

Three Key Concepts

Experts agree that there are three key concepts involved in a responsive design process – media queries, fluid layouts, and fluid images.

  • Using media queries to detect device specifications – Different devices have screens with different heights, widths, resolutions, and aspect ratios. Media queries can be used within CSS3 to adjust for these factors and display properly sized content. Here is a code example, used to create a stylesheet with a maximum horizontal resolution of 720 pixels.
  • This code will ensure that the stylesheet is only loaded on devices with the maximum horizontal resolution specified.
  • Using a fluid grid to create a responsive layout– Proper use of media queries will give you the information you need to create a responsive design, but you will still need to do something smart with that information. Fluid grids let you specify the maximum size of a grid which will automatically resize to fit into a smaller frame. If we want our 720 pixel-wide grid to dynamically adjust to smaller screens, we will create a relative measurement for our grid that will be appropriate for any screen.

To do so, we can take the default font size for browsers (16 pixels) as one em (a unit of width) and divide our grid width by that amount. So, 720 pixels divided by 16 pixels = 45em. We can then use the following code to create a responsive grid with a maximum width of 45em, ensuring that the layout always looks good up to 720 pixels wide:

#container {
position: relative;
max-width: 45em;
margin: auto;
}

  • Using fluid images for perfect sizing – This is much like the previous point. Image sizes can be set to percentages of the total grid, meaning that they never grow bigger than their allocated proportion of the grid. If we have an image that is 360 pixels wide, for example, we know that it should never exceed its native resolution and only ever take up 50% of the total layout space. To create responsive images by setting image width as a percentage, we can use the following code:

img {
max-width: 100%;
width: 25%;
}

Combining these three techniques can provide a wealth of opportunities for creating responsive website designs that are dynamic and prepared for any platform. These clever methods let you write one set of programs to be used in multiple applications, instead of wasting your time writing the same code over and over for different devices.
So, are you doing everything you can to create responsive web content that looks great from every angle?

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The Super Bowl: 6 Marketing Takeaways from the Biggest Stage in America

Super Bowl 46

Marketing is Changing.

February 5th, 2012 marks the day the stage will be set for the one of the most viewed events of the year; Super Bowl 46. A week long hype of the game will lead to the much anticipated Sunday night event that is typically accompanied by more beer and food than the average person would be suggested to consume in a week.

But let’s be honest, most of the 100,000,000 + viewers of the Super Bowl are tuned in for one reason and one reason only, the advertising. Over the past few years, Super Bowl advertising has moved to the forefront of the viewers.? Last year, I even witnessed people who only focused their attention on the 70″ television during game breaks and halftime to catch the advertisers’ attempts to entertain its crowd by using humorous, witty, and sometimes jaw dropping advertisements like this one from Reebok in 2003.

The next day, instead of discussions based around the game, we are flooded with inquiries on “who had the best commercial”.? For most companies, the $3.5 million dollar price tag for a 30 second slot is unrealistic.? However, what’s not unrealistic are the marketing takeaways you can gain from the Super Bowl’s now famous advertising. Here are six of them.

Takeaway #1

Television Advertising is Not What it Used to be

First, lets be frank.? There’s one day a year where television advertising is the hot topic of discussion.? For the rest of the year, we are typically all exposed to viral e-mail, YouTube videos, and other content shared throughout social media networks.? Sit back for a moment and think of the last time someone came up to you and said “…you have to see this commercial on TV” and then you sat anxiously awaiting its air time?? It hasn’t happened. Odds are, you went to YouTube and watched it there.

Takeaway #2

Unique Content Creation is Paramount

If there was ever proof needed that unique content is key to marketing success, this is it.? We don’t watch the Super Bowl commercials to truly compare products, or make buying decisions.? Nor, do the advertisers expect us to. We want to be entertained in a way that we haven’t been recently. The corporate giants who fill up air slots on Super Bowl Sunday spend months preparing the most unique commercial that will be talked about the next day.? Its about creating something worth talking about, its about creating something that will engage a viewer to comeback, its about creating something that will expand the perspective of a brand by positioning it as a unique asset in the eyes of the viewer.

Takeaway #3

Traditional Advertising is Top Heavy

You know what advertisers you’ve seen in the past and its no different now. Bud Light, Pepsi, Doritos, GoDaddy, 15 major car manufacturers, etc, etc, etc.? Money wins in traditional advertising and there isn’t much room to play ball. Plain and simple, if I dished out the money to put an ad up on Super Bowl Sunday, it won’t be remembered. The traditional advertising space is so saturated with corporate giant spending that it almost becomes impossible to become an entrant in the space.

Takeaway #4

Social Media is No Longer an Option, Its a Necessity

Spend some time on Super Bowl Sunday watching the end of the advertisements.? One thing will be certain, almost every major advertiser will promote some kind of social media in their $3.5 million, 30 second slot of airtime. Another prediction of mine for this year’s ads; more valuable time will be dedicated to ensuring the brands’ social media presence is seen. Social media is no longer an option, its a necessity for all businesses.

Takeaway #5

Your Market is Hungry for Fresh Content

What does all of this add up to?? One simple fact, Super Bowl Sunday is living proof that the world craves unique and quality content.? There is no denying that your target market is included in the 100,000,000 plus viewers that makeup the gigantic audience that tunes in every year.? And likely, your target market will be the ones discussing what they saw the night before in between the 60 minutes of football. It’s true, people adore the content they crave and obviously there’s so little of it that an entire night can be dedicated to exposing it.

Takeaway #6

Treat all Your Content as a Super Bowl Commercial

Always think outside the box and offer your audience what they crave, unique content. Dedicate yourself to creating things so unique that people will have no other option but to share it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the other social networks that engage our world today. If you maintain a consistent marketing strategy of uniqueness and tailor your philosophy around it, you’ll be able to reach the masses in a very powerful way. There’s no room to compete with traditional advertisers. Your audience is desperately seeking something to share or talk about. If you can give it to them, they’ll be forever grateful.

Enjoy the game and give some of your own insights to what we will see in this year’s Super Bowl commercials. I’d love to hear the predictions.

 

 

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Don’t be so Quick to Jump Into Social Media

There’s a common theme in small business today. Be on social media. Utilize Social Media. Love Social Media. It is flooding business strategy as if the day you sign up, an instantaneous growth of revenue will occur (it won’t). Companies are flocking to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to get their piece of the pie. As I meet with clients, I can almost be certain that at some point, a question regarding social media will arise. The remarks of “we need to get on Facebook” or “we want to connect with our customers on Twitter” are common modern day client recommendations. And let’s be honest with ourselves here. Is not accurate to say that just about every marketing agency recommends to their clients that they have a social media presence? I completely disagree. There was a point in time where I, too, felt that every business operating in today’s modern business atmosphere would be stupid not to be present on social media. Because of people’s ability to piss others off online, this has changed for me.

don't jump into social media

We All Understand Social Media is a Good Thing

First, let me disclose that I fully understand and support the advantages that social media brings to a business. Social media brings a wealth of benefits to a business. It allows you to more personally connect with your customers. Engage them in ways they have not been engaged. It allows your business to learn more about your customers than ever before and put that data to very good use. It allows you to take advantage of better search results by satisfying the search engines’ new found importance on social media. And of course we could pour in about 1,000 other checkmate arguments to be “where the customer is” on social media. I get it. It makes sense. It’s logical. It’s beneficial. It differentiates future sustained companies from slowing dying ones. Again, I get it. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I feel social media can absolutely hurt a company who’s not ready for it.

Companies hear this battle cry for social media and naturally they are drawn into the big 3 (or 4 depending on your business); Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and in many b2b cases, LinkedIn. They set up their profiles, upload a logo, send out a couple quick updates to give the appearance they’ve been here before and generate a buzz around their offices that they are currently now on social media. The strategy then becomes fairly consistent for most. Put a link to our Facebook page here. Mention our Twitter handle there. Stream the feeds to our website and ensure there is a link to every social media network so it appears we’re “well connected” to our customer. After a few days of posting press releases and updates on the fact that your CEO is speaking at the ‘No one gives a damn’ Conference in Egypt, you notice your revenue hasn’t improved at all. Social media has failed you. You now realize that your social media campaign requires constant attention and the 8 spamming followers you now have on Twitter are lower than worthless. Well, you tried. It was a good run. You laughed while creating the profile, you cried when it didn’t work, and can now confidently say that social media is not right for the company.

But What we Don’t Understand is Social Media is NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING

Here’s the problem. As social media continues to grow, more and more of your customers will become part of it. So in a year when your customers finally decide to reach out to connect you on social media, there’s a problem. Your profile is dated, you haven’t posted anything in 8 months and the 5 comments that were sent to your company from prospects or customers went completely unanswered. Your social media presence that was once such a hopeful and glorified asset to your company, has just made you look worthless. The real question is; “would it have been better to have not been there at all, than to look like you’ve been there and failed? Was it worth the trial and error that was nailed into your mind by agencies and social media “experts”? I can answer that one myself, it wasn’t.

Start Small and Decide if Social Media is Truly For You

Social media is a very visible piece of the marketplace and if you’re not truly ready to dedicate the resources to dive in, don’t. It’s not a small investment of time. It’s not instantaneous. It requires time and resources to be effective. If you don’t have these things spare, don’t dive in. Companies are so consumed with just “being there” that they lose sight of what really goes into social media. Social media isn’t a marketing tool, it’s a method of communication. It’s a way to give your customers access to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you’re not willing to make that commitment, take the highroad and don’t get involved and certainly don’t get involved on EVERY single platform available to start. Learn the ropes. If you’re starting out on social media, take some time to evaluate the different and choose the one that works best for your business.

Facebook – Are you a consumer based business? Do your customers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes? If so, this could be a great place to start.

Twitter – Are you customers ahead of the game? Edgy? Are extremely into the “now”? You notice a common trend about Twitter users. Mr. Smith, your 54 year old industrial engineer may not fit that trend.

LinkedIn – Are you business to business based? Do you focus on executives and management for your business. Are your credentials a big reason that b2b customers buy from you? Try it out.

Google+ – Are your customers early adopting or a younger generation? Google+ is new and fresh. When you utilize words such as “hangouts” and “circles” to describe key features of your service, you get a sense that your audience base will certainly have that “cool factor”.

Closing Thoughts

Choose one and get started. Test out the waters. Give it time to develop and don’t overwhelm yourself. Take it slow and understand the features of your social platform and begin to introduce it piece by piece into your business model. This will eliminate the possibility of looking like a complete jackass down the road if you do get fed up with social media and can’t seem to adopt it. It happens. It will continue to happen. Even with the majority of society screaming for you to get on social media, keep one thing in mind; It’s sometimes better to not show up the party, than to show up and suck. Am I wrong?

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Affordable TV Advertising meets Web Marketing?

Alright, regardless of what the “inbound marketers” say, businesses, including Industrial or B2B companies can benefit from television advertising. Sure it’s not as effective, as it once was, but there is now such a thing as affordable tv advertising. While there is no direct pitch to make to decision makers in B2B TV ads there are very significant objectives that a company can accomplish by using the medium.  First, television advertising can help a company build awareness of its brand both locally and nationally.  Gaining this position works extremely well when the business offers a specialty product or service that other companies typically don’t offer.

affordable tv advertising

Second, along the lines of awareness, B2B companies can also benefit from help with positioning.  A properly targeted advertisement can make others aware of what differentiates the business.  Lastly, television advertising can provide education to those who are watching.  This can be especially effective for those new companies trying to break into well established markets.

However, the problem comes with the nature of media advertising and its associated cost.  The benefits of television advertising are real; however, it takes repetition of the content over a considerable length of time in order for a company to see those benefits.  Of course, repetition substantially increases the cost of running a television advertisement. That’s where it becomes increasingly important to find afford tv advertising options to carry out these campaigns.

And in the case of B2B companies the goals of a branding campaign do not always directly translate to lead generation, therefore television is left to a time in the company’s history when more capital can be spent on advertising in this way. However, is there a way to benefit from the branding effects of television while being able to stave off some of the costs associated with it?

Affordable TV Advertising? Google? I thought they were a Search Engine.

Google has developed a system for television advertising for smaller companies by making it affordable to them.  The company gives small businesses advertising access to over 42 million homes nationwide.

They help companies to offset their expense by giving managers the ability to establish and cap their budget.  They also offset costs by utilizing their technology to ferret out those instances where a television ad is skipped and effectively unwatched.  Interestingly, Google gives managers the ability to target their ad to those who have certain interests or those who are part of certain demographic.

Companies that have a high quality Youtube videos can, in many cases use them in their Google television campaign.  However for those businesses that do not have a video that they are comfortable with, Google can put them in touch with companies that can create ads that fit their budget.

Steps To Implement an Affordable TV Advertising Campaign

1) Determine the specific objective to be accomplished.

Businesses can accomplish an affordable tv advertising, as well as two goals with their campaign: a) market penetration or b) market development.  With respect to market penetration, the company doesn’t look to expand the pool of prospects.  They are looking to direct the prospects away from the competition and toward the company.  In this case, companies promote the most relevant competitive advantage that they have.   Companies with a market penetration strategy expect to gain a larger share of the market.

On the other hand, those companies using a market development strategy hope to add new people to the market. These campaigns are directed toward creating a larger market and capturing them as they come in.  The difficulty in the fundamentals of market development is that a company is ultimately bringing new customers closer to their competitors also.

Irrespective of which direction is taken, every media presentation for B2B companies is an opportunity to educate potential prospects. Because consumers themselves don’t have contact with most B2B companies, it is likely that there is little awareness in what the company does outside of industry circles.  Therefore the television advertising at its worst provides companies with the opportunity to develop favorable attention.

2) Determine the budget to be spent on the campaign

This is an important step to take before entering into the Google TV Ads interface.  Management will need to provide specifics as to how long they want the campaign to run, while at the same time determining how much they are willing to spend in a day.

3) Determine what needs to be said in the video

Marketers call this the creative strategy and depending on the goal, the presentation should lead to a call to action.  The television ad will be less expensive than conventional commercial advertising, but it will not be ‘cheap’.  That means that in order to generate a high ROI on this kind of spending, it will be advantageous to hire a specialist who can craft copywritning for video creatives.

4) Sign-Up with Google Adwords TV Ads

Singing up with Google Adwords so called “affordable TV Advertising” program will require that the form of payment be available at the time of signup.  If the company already has an Adwords account, the signup will be relatively easy. If not, there will be an approval process which is proforma.

5) Design a video creative advertisement

Although companies can typically use any high quality of high definition video to run on the Google TV network, it is prudent to utilize the services of companies hat specialize in using Google’s network.  Google TV Ads has preferred vendors within their network who can create ads for as little as $200.  Of course, if the goal is branding, companies should be willing to spend as much as possible within confines of their budget.

6) Use Google’s tools to determine the target for your advertisement

Google’s tools will assist advertisers in finding the televisions shows for a given demographic.  However, one of the most important factors that those using the network can undertake is to understand who would be likely to respond to the advertisement.  Is there a geographic region to focus on? Is there an age or gender rage?  All of this is important to develop a target for the ad that will direct the investment in the right place.

7) Run the advertisement on Google’s network

Once the target has been determined it will be time to run the actual advertisement.  Google TV Ads undertakes an auction process and a subsequent approval process once the user has chosen a television show. Companies working with a budget should keep strict accounting on what it takes financially to run a particular ad.

8) Wait 24 hours for Google’s report and check activity against quantifiable television campaign goals

Google TV Ads will provide the results of the advertising run in 24 hours, however, companies should tag new leads that come from the ads. This can be accomplished through specially named or coded sub-domains as well as a dynamic tracking system that reveals traffic patterns.   Thus while the television stats will display how the ad ran, the company’s tracking system should display how it went.

9) Either adjust and re-run the ad or take it down altogether based on the ROI trajectory

TV ads typically require repetition in order to accomplish market penetration or market development effects.   However, if the company does not reap the reward that it seeks either through new leads, increased awareness of social media following, then the strategy will have to be reassessed.

Google TV Ads: Prior Knowledge of Market Is Needed For Success

Companies can cost effectively run affordable tv advertising utilizing the Google network.  Executives that thoroughly understand their demographic, as well as their budgets can engage in branding campaigns for market penetration.  Of course, management will need to track their results against the objectives of the campaign.

The question will be whether or not investing in the eventual learning curve to make television advertising on Google effective will be worth the time and resources.  However, since TV is really being made affordable, is there any reason not to take a closer look?

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4 Ways to Improve Your Product Launch Strategy

Bringing a product to market is expensive even before you take into account the industrial marketing costs associated with it.  There is the product design and blueprint that must be worked through and finalized.  If there are any patents or copyrights left to be considered, they must be carefully attended to with a legal team.  There is usually a prototype and beta test conducted in order to wrap up potential wrinkles in the product’s success.  Finally once these preliminaries are completed the product or service can be test marketed forming the overall product launch marketing strategy.

product launch marketing strategy

Often it is at this point when a company’s learning takes place regarding what the market truly desires from a product like the one you have designed.  Assuming that the product is manufactured well or the service is delivered flawlessly, you will get real feedback on whether the product or service design works well.  Companies routinely take these early comments into consideration as they strengthen their offer.  However, waiting to make the adjustment at this time can weaken the value proposition if changes are constantly being made.   How can companies get this feedback earlier in the process to strengthen the product or service before it is launched?

Rethinking the Product Launch Marketing Strategy

Businesses that integrate online marketing into their product launch are at an advantage if they leverage this relationship into product design.  Marketers are able to do research into the search patterns of those interested in topics concerning your industry.  They can give you information on what the searchers’ intentions might be as well as what they are reading on a regular basis.  They gather this data as part of what they do for B2B companies.  Starting with securing search pattern information, here are some steps that a company can take to get prospective feedback prior to product design.

  1. Companies should work with their industrial marketing consultant to determine what search phrases capture the interest of the market.  These search phrases will formulate the rest of the online research the company will conduct.
  2. Using the search phrases gathered from the industrial marketing consultant, the company should conduct meta-forum searches using sites such as Big-Boards.Com, Boardtracker.Com, Omgili.Com and Boardreader.com.  This will give the company access to people who are discussing the issues with other professionals in their industry.
  3. Using the same search phrases companies should look to industry blogs to find out what discussions are taking place in a related manner to the problems that your new problem look to solve. These blogs can easily be searched using Tehnorati.Com, IceRocket.com.
  4. Management should repeat the process looking for the conversations within social media using sites such as monitter.com, samepoint.com, yacktrack.com and socialmention.com.  Although social conversations will be less useful than other meta-searches, companies will be able to locate key industry personalities to talk to.

Takeaway

It is assumed that management is surveying its customer database, following news and trends and attending to industry trade publications.  Much can be learned from following these sources in terms of customer preference.  However, they do not offer a glimpse into more informal online conversations.  Is an industry most likely to share their true thoughts in a formal or informal setting?  Arguments can be made for both.

The question is, are you only taking formal conversations into account for customer preference?  If so, is it possible that you could be missing valuable information that could strengthen a product or service before it came to market?

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