Thoughts

5 Signs You Need a New Website

· Content Development, Digital Marketing, Website

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s time to redesign your current brand website, ask yourself these five questions:

1. Was your website built 10 or more years ago?
2. Is it best serving the needs of your audience, brand, and business?
3. Are you missing the boat on mobile without responsive design?
4. Are you launching a new product, service line, or brand positioning?
5. Do you need to revamp your marketing efforts?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it could very well be time to take the leap and plan for redesign. Remember the longer you put off a redesign, the longer you will be missing out on opportunities to increase conversion and revenue.

There are numbers to back this claim up. For instance, conversion jumped up 60.3% after Purl Soho redesigned their website. This premium knitting and craft brand had outgrown their existing website and found that the redesign was well worth the investment.

Are you showing up in Google search?

Another advantage of redesigning your website is that it can improve your search ranking so your audience to find you more easily. A redesign gives you a chance to think through and plan content with search optimization in mind. This includes targeting keyword phrases and offering valuable content that encourages people to link to you, which ups your ranking.

A redesign also allows you to create a more search-friendly platform by implementing best practices. For instance, you can ensure that important content is in text or HTML. This way it can be indexed by search engine crawlers, which won’t find other content types, such as images without alt tags or Flash files.

Making the decision to redesign

Even if you’re sure it’s time the redesign, it can still be difficult to make that final decision. It is a large undertaking that requires time, resources, and money. You’ll also probably need to hire a website design agency. Most companies don’t have an internal team of digital user experience, design, content, and development experts available for this kind of project.

If you hire an outside agency, you will still need to dedicate some internal resources to the project. For instance, you’ll need a point person to manage the project on your end. This involves making sure the agency has access to the information they need about your business, brand, etc., and helping them gather input from stakeholders.

How should you choose an agency?

You should look for an agency with strong experience and a proven website development process. Of course, you’ll also want an agency that can deliver results in a reasonable timeframe at a price within your budget range.

Keep in mind that it is important to be realistic about timing and cost. For instance, you can find agencies that promise fast, cheap website design. However, they might not be able to stick to their promises leading to deadline extensions and unexpected costs. Additionally, you could end up with a subpar website that doesn’t meet your expectations.

Also be careful if you’re considering big name agencies. You might end up paying more simply because of their brand name. In addition, these agencies sometimes have clients meet with their senior staff, but then hand of the actual work to less experienced employees. If you go with a larger agency, make sure you know who will be doing the work.

Ultimately, you should go with an agency that fits your needs and feels right to you. It’s important that you’re able to communicate comfortably with one another, since communication is a big key to a successful website redesign. And don’t be shy about asking questions. A good agency should be open to helping you understand the process so you know exactly what to expect from your partnership.

6 Top Tips for Email Marketing Success

· Email Marketing

“How can I get the results I want from my email marketing program?” We get asked that question a lot—and have helped brands do just that. Here are 6 top tips based on our experience:

1. Focus on consumer benefits.

Lots of brands love to talk about how amazing their products are and what makes them so special—but not enough talk to consumers about what they can do for them. Hook your consumers in by speaking directly to their issues and needs, rather than simply listing your product benefits. For instance, don’t focus on the features of a garment or beauty product, but on the way it makes a woman look and feel.

2. Mix it up.

Keep your audience interested by changing up the content of your marketing emails. For instance, mix in educational pieces that tell consumers how to incorporate their products into their lives among with emails on press hits, sales and product launches. Consumers will tune out if your emails are always pushing product in the same way.

3. Consider the experience.

When someone clicks on an email, they expect to land on a web page related to the message or product they clicked on. If they don’t, they’ll likely bounce. And if they receive an email that doesn’t look or sound like your brand, they may not click through at all. By aligning email creative with your website and ensuring links go to an appropriate web page, you can boost click through rates and conversion.

4. Capture email addresses.

Add a pop-up to subscribe to emails on your website. You’d be surprised how many brands miss this opportunity. We’ve found that consumers typically don’t mind them. They simply close them out if they’re not interested. But if they are interested, you’ve just opened up a valuable stream of communication. Adding an offer, like 10% off a first order, can really boost results.

5. Find the right frequency.

How often you should email your audience depends on a few factors like the range of products or services you offer, consumer brand loyalty and how well you can switch up the content. Too few emails, and you may be missing opportunities. Too many, and you’ll start seeing a decrease in results and an increase in unsubscribes. We typically recommend one to two per week depending on the brand.

6. Cross-promote with channels.

Don’t forget that consumers who have clicked that “Like” button on Facebook or are following you on Twitter may not have signed up for your emails. They’ve already expressed interest, so why not ask them to do it again? Post a polite or clever update asking them to sign up, and consider adding an offer. You can also do the reverse and pump up your social media following through email.

You can also enrich your email program by leveraging behavioral triggers appropriately. For instance, shopping cart abandonment and “miss you” emails can have terrific results.

 

Want to know more? Contact Truth NYC today.

Is social media good for business?

· Content Development, Social Media

If you’re a small to mid-size company, the answer is: it’s complicated. These days, it’s good to have a social presence. Consumers expect it. But it’s also important not to spend too much energy in ways that may not be working well for your business.

Recently, Facebook in particular has been making it difficult, if not impossible, for businesses to gain any traction unless they pay to play. Even if they have thousands of likes, only a handful may see a given post if it’s not promoted. But even knowing that, it’s hard for some companies to change their current social habits.

A hard habit to break

Social can be a hard habit to break for lots of reasons. It costs nothing to set up and start posting, tweeting or pinning away. It can even be a very kind and gentle place at first offering a nice bump of activity and engagement. And then there’s that addictive rush that comes when a post gets a burst of attention.

But it’s worth taking a step back to evaluate how social is treating your business. The social beast is a hungry one that demands a steady diet of fresh content. It’s all too easy to slip into an unhealthy pattern of spending too much time and energy feeding it with little results to show for it.

Digging for content

The problem of feeding the beast is especially tough for companies that don’t have a large portfolio of products or services. You can run out of relevant things to talk about pretty quickly. It’s no wonder there are so many inspirational quotes and smoothie recipes littering the social space.

Many businesses rely on content they dig up around the web, particularly when they don’t have the resources to write their own articles or blog posts. While this can help align your company with an admirable brand or way of thinking, mostly you’re just spending your own energy to promote someone else.

4 questions to ask

Wherever your company is at with social media, it’s smart to pause and think about how that relationship is treating you and what you can do to make it better. We use these four questions at Truth NYC to help clients start thinking in the right direction:

1. What are your goals for social media? It’s important to understand what you’re trying to get out of your social efforts. Your objectives should be realistic and they should drive your social strategy. For instance, driving sales is more difficult than continuing to engage with current customers. It also probably means relying more on offers and promotions than “feel good” kinds of posts.

2. What kinds of posts are working for you? By understanding what your audience likes, you can hone in on developing the kind of content they want from your company. Just remember to keep some balance. You may lose their interest if you overdo it with one type of content.

3. Are you in the right social spaces to reach your audience? This can help you focus your efforts. For instance, if your audience is mostly professionals, you may do better to target LinkedIn over places like Instagram. You may even want to shed a few social channels that aren’t of much value to your company.

4. How often are you posting? Is it too much? If you’re not getting much benefit out of social media, you may be tempted to double down on your efforts. However, it may be best to gradually pull back instead. There’s no shame in gradually reducing posts and spending your efforts in more fruitful places.

The Truth on… Digital Marketing for Luxury Brands

· Brand, Consumer Insights, Digital Marketing ·

Burberry broke ground with its Art of the Trench campaign in 2009 proving that there was a place for luxury brands in the digital landscape. But most luxury brands have been slow to take up the call and get in on all that digital has to offer them.

Why so slow?

Part of the reason stems from the same business and technical issues many companies face. Existing websites may not be flexible enough to create new brand experiences. And it’s often expensive and time consuming to redesign an entire website or develop a rich mobile presence.

Another reason comes from the belief that luxury brands rely on an air of exclusivity, which puts them in conflict with the open freedom of the Internet. But as the Art of the Trench demonstrated, luxury brands can engage and collaborate with consumers, while still communicating the dream.

Digital can drive desire.

When it’s done right, digital can drive consumer desire, which is at the heart of marketing luxury goods. It can allow consumers to engage with brands when and how they want, tell a story that enhances the luster of the brand and add key touch points to the consumer journey.

Consumer behavior is shifting.

That special in-store experience will always be important, but busy luxury consumers often want it on their own terms. They may not have the time or desire to go to a store. Even consumers who prefer personal attention will look to their laptops, phones and tablets before they make the trip.

And while baby boomers are still the largest group of luxury consumers, generation X and Y are growing strong—and changing the rules of the game. Younger consumers demand digital innovation. By giving them experiences that meet their expectations, luxury brands can build valuable relationships that last a lifetime.

Brand story is everything.

All luxury companies have gorgeous models and fabulous images that convey the aspirational nature of their brands. But this also makes them blend together in the eyes of consumers. Luxury brands need to look to their unique brand story and shout it from the rooftops to stand out.

However, many brands lack a clear understanding of who they are and what makes them different. And that’s a shame, because luxury brands typically have beautiful stories that can be spun from, for instance, their heritage, values, artistry or position as a tastemaker. It’s all about how you pull it together.

By first clarifying their brand and story, luxury companies can then develop strategies to connect with consumers on an emotional level. And as the Art of the Trench demonstrates, these campaigns can be rooted in a brand’s tradition, but still be riveting to a young audience.

Understand the journey.

Not every consumer follows the same journey. Some build gradually to purchase by visiting stores, browsing online, speaking to friends, etc. Others make quick decisions. They see it, they like it and they buy it. And some fluctuate back and forth between these modes.

Whatever the journey, luxury brands need to be there at every point. And they need to be there with a seamless brand message and experience fitting for the medium. For example, tablets are built to feature rich content, like videos and 360-degree product angles, and consumers expect it.

To understand the journey, luxury brands should take a step back and ask themselves:

Burberry seems to have asked and answered these questions successfully. And they continue to push the bounds of digital with live-streamed catwalk shows and creative campaigns, like Burberry Kisses.

Is your luxury brand ready to step up?

The Truth on… Tablets and Marketing

· App Development

Here’s one fact all retail marketers need to know:
Online shoppers are 3x more likely to purchase on tablets than on smartphones (Adobe Digital Index).

This combined with the fast-paced growth of tablets reveals that they’re an important consumer touch point marketers can’t afford to overlook. It also demonstrates that consumers behave differently on tablets than smartphones.

Smartphones vs. Tablets

When it comes to shopping, consumers typically use smartphones for quick references. For instance, they may compare prices while they’re in-store (also called showrooming), look up online coupons or check product reviews.

On the other hand, consumers interact with tablets more like laptops or desktops for shopping. However, unlike laptop or desktop users, tablet users are probably at home relaxing on the couch, not working at a desk.

Here are a few other facts to consider:

These insights can help marketers and their digital teams develop tablet initiatives that connect with consumers and drive revenue.

Three Key Takeaways

The first takeaway is to offer a tablet experience that’s in line with consumer behavior. For example, tablets should provide rich content, such as full-screen videos and 360-degree product views, that invites consumers to engage while they’re kicking back in their living rooms.

The second is to take advantage of the capabilities of tablets. For instance, allow users to navigate with swiping motions and quick taps, and to magnify and move images with their fingertips. Tablets are also very visual by nature, so the experience should feature large and eye-catching imagery.

The third is to consider an app. While brands need a mobile web presence, apps can offer greater interactivity since they’re not constrained by a web browser—and consumers are gravitating towards them. Apps also offer marketers unique benefits, such as opening an ongoing connection with consumers reinforced by push notifications and content updates.

Addressing the Challenges

So why aren’t more marketers taking advantage of tablet apps? They may fear the time or expense, or feel that the end result won’t be worth the investment. It’s also tough to think about developing something new when the next product launch or holiday season is on the horizon, but this is the best time to have an app ready to go.

Obviously, this is when brands can expect more consumer interest and excitement along with spikes traffic. An app can be a valuable complement to any marketing program, or it can be the center point of the campaign easily supported by website content, emails, social media and app stores.

It’s also not necessary to reinvent the wheel to pull off an impressive tablet app. Many retailers have great content, sometimes hidden in their websites, like videos, interactive features or other brand elements. By curating this content and using it to tell a cohesive story, brands can launch a successful app quickly and affordably.

Is your brand ready to take advantage of a tablet app experience? Contact Truth NYC today.

How to Develop a Successful App (in Plain English)

· App Development · , ,

Is an app right for your business? And how do you make sure it won’t get lost among the millions of apps already competing for attention? Here are some important points to consider before diving into the development process.

Apps vs. mobile sites

Consumers expect to engage with your brand on their phones and tablets. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they need or want an app. Strategically, you may be better off optimizing your existing website for mobile. For example, if you’re a retailer looking to provide a simple online shopping experience, a mobile website may be the most efficient solution.

The easiest way to deliver a mobile site is typically through mobile-enabled or responsive design. This allows you to build a single site that automatically adjusts to different sized screens. For instance, images that appear larger on a desktop may shrink and stack when viewed on a handheld device. Responsive design is helpful in that you only have to maintain one site, which can free up resources for other initiatives.

Apps offer a rich set of features

While responsive design has its benefits, apps can offer a lot of interactive features and provide access to capabilities that are part of handheld devices, like the GPS and camera. They also open up unique marketing opportunities that are built into the way consumers engage with apps, such as app updates and push notifications.

Push notifications can be especially useful for marketing. These alerts, which must be enabled by users, display on the home screen even when the app is closed. They can be used to prompt users to complete an action, promote a sale, or just remind them the app is there. Since this feature can be disabled, it’s important to follow best practices, like keeping messages brief and interesting to the user.

Where to start: What will the app do?

It can be tempting to dive right into decisions about technology and development, since this is where the majority of the costs lie. However, it’s essential to clearly understand the purpose of your app first.

To figure this out, you need to consider both your business and user needs. If your app has no business value, it’s not going to be worth the investment. If your app isn’t useful to consumers, it’s likely to be ignored and die on the vine.

Consider Your Business

Some companies lend themselves well to apps, and may find themselves behind the curve without one. For instance, restaurants can grow their business with an app that allows for online ordering and promotes deals or new menu options. Retailers can create or expand on a loyalty program with an app that tracks rewards.

Apps can also be used to establish new services or tools that generate additional revenue for companies. At Truth NYC, we partnered with an organization to create this kind of app, which is offered by subscription. The app taps into our client’s specific expertise to simplify a complex and cumbersome process. It’s unique to the category, which has also helped position the client as an innovator.

Think About User Needs

The key to a successful app is to make sure it’s useful to consumers. Without some real benefit, you’ll be faced with an uphill battle to get anyone to notice, download, and engage with your app. The best way to figure out what kind of app and features your audience would find valuable is through research.

Some companies hesitate over research because they’re itching to jump right into development. However, insights from research often prove invaluable. For instance, many clients are surprised to find out what they thought was the number one concern for their users was actually much further down the list.

These kinds of learnings can help you focus the purpose of your app and decide which features will meet the needs of your users. They can help determine whether an app is successful and is well worth the investment in time and money. Plus, with tools, like online surveys, that investment can often be keep to a minimum.
Shaping the Experience

Once you’ve defined the app and list of features, the next step is to make sure you’re providing a positive user experience. Users should be able to open and start interacting with your app easily. If it’s difficult to navigate, they may give up on it.

To create an intuitive user experience, it’s essential to think through the entire process. That includes mapping out all of the user pathways and following best practices in usability, such as:

Create an overall structure that is clear and well organized Use design elements, like colors and size, to guide users along Incorporate copy where appropriate to offer simple instruction

You should also ensure that the user experience, design, and copy all come together in a way that reflects and reinforces your brand.

Pick the Right Resources

The resources you select to design and develop an app can make or break the project. Whether you use internal or external resources, you’ll need a team that brings expertise in user experience, design, content, and technology to the table. You’ll also need to make sure everyone understands what needs to be done and how they’ll work together to ensure a smooth process and avoid delays.

Committing to Your App

Apps need care and attention beyond their development and initial launch. For your app to be successful, it has to get onto the phones and tablets of your audience. That requires a marketing strategy and plan along with the tactical elements that go with it, such as in-store promotion, emails, online advertising, etc.

In addition, you’ll need to figure out a strategy for app notifications, and decide who will write them up, send them out, and track the results. You’ll also need resources to update your app on an ongoing basis. Updates are necessary to fix bugs and add features, but they have an additional marketing benefit. They remind users about your app and can prompt them to engage with it.

1,000 Can’t Miss Tips on Writing Killer Headlines

· Content Development, Email Marketing

OK, that’s a lie. You won’t find 1,000 tips on writing killer headlines here. What you will find are a few thoughts on the approach to writing marketing headlines that seems to be taking over online.

The trend is to rely on a formula that starts with a number written in digits followed up with an important sounding adjective or phrase:
10 Top Tips…
6 Essential Facts…
8 Need to Know Reasons Why…

The formula works because those digits jump off the page out of the word clutter and catch our eyes. They’re also appealing because we’re all busy people bombarded by information all day long. A numbered list lets us know we can skip through it quickly.

That adjective helps out too. It makes the article seem somehow important. It suggests that we’ll walk away with a bit of extra knowledge. And who doesn’t want that?

Another recent rule of thumb is to focus on the first and last three words of headline, since readers tend to miss the middle part as they scan. It’s interesting that headlines have gotten so long that we need this rule. Then again, it’s easy to go long when you’re trying to insert as many search terms as possible.

No matter how well a headline follows the rules, it’s only the icing on the cake. Articles still need to have substance if they’re going to be effective. There’s also the question of how long this headline formula will work. It’s so pervasive these days that readers may start looking past them.

Plenty of people are probably already yawning when they come across these headlines in Internet searches or on social media. But that doesn’t mean they don’t click on them.