Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Online Predictions for SMEs for 2011

by Kathryn Richards

As 2010 comes to an end, I’ve just read a great article over at Mashable with some predictions for Small Businesses online next year.

Here’s my take on 2 of the biggest trends that are coming for 2011: - 1 - Increased Spending on Websites and - 2 - More Focused Social Media Efforts.

1. Increased Spending on Websites

It’s definitely true that smart business owners are now recognising the importance in not only having a website – but a website that gets found in Google. Having a website is not a “one-off” cost – but an on-going project – involving managing your online presence through online marketing.

I think the power and control over websites will also be highlighted in 2011. Smart business owners are now realising they not only need a well-designed, search-engine friendly website – but they need to be in control of it. This means a CMS (content management system) that is both simple and easy to manage. This control is essential both from a SEO point of view (Google loves fresh content) and an empowerment perspective (in-house generated content can not only be more valuable but can also valorise employees).

Another focus is linked to this, for me, will be sustainable web design. With the significant rise in the quantity and diversity of internet browsing devices, respecting web standards (best practices such as W3c validation, accessible code, use of CSS for style…) will be no longer a “nice-to-have” – but an absolute necessity. The same goes for extensive testing for the same reasons – what works in Internet Explorer on a PC may not in Safari on an IPad.

2. More Focused Social Media Efforts :
2010 = Testing, 2011 = Refining the strategy

This is another great prediction. 2010 has indeed been a year of experimentation, and testing of the many, many social media platforms and opportunities out there. I think for the beginning of 2011, this will continue. Now is the time for businesses to get out there, see what works best, test, make mistakes and learn from it. By the end of 2011, making mistakes on core platforms such as Twitter and Facebook will no longer be acceptable and may be costly in terms of brand reputation.

In this learning process, both agencies and business owners will certainly be focusing and refining their Social Media efforts. Whereas now, they may have over half a dozen icons flashing next to their blog, in 2011 they will be identifying the platforms that work best for them. It’s simply not necessary – or even efficient – to have a presence everywhere (especially for SMEs) – but instead to be in the same place(s) that your consumers are.

Not only will Social Media campaigns be more focused – but they will be more measured. While, like any PR campaign, it will remain hard to calculate the exact ROI, businesses will certainly be tracking their statistics – whether this is ultimately the amount of sales generated, or indeed in terms of brand management - the amount of reviews left on their e-commerce website, the amount of “likes” on their Facebook page, or the amount of leads generated through networking on Twitter.

The phenomenal speed of development on Facebook means that with the possibilities available with Facebook pages – resulting in almost a “micro-website” within Facebook – mean that businesses will certainly be exploiting this in 2011. Look out for updates to the Art Division Facebook page in the following weeks ;-)

… read here the 5 predictions for Small Business in 2011 (including Increased Adoption of Cloud Computing, Social Shopping and E-Commerce Advancements and the Smartphone Revolution).

Let me know what you think – which trend will have the most impact on your business?

And a Happy New Years from everyone at Art Division !

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

LinkedIn: The Best of Web Video

by Kathryn Richards

LinkedIn has currently over 80 million members, and is considered the world’s largest business network.

Not yet convinced of the opportunities LinkedIn can offer you? Or maybe you have a profile but want to maximise your use – getting introduced to great contacts, expanding your network and building up an impressive online resume – backed up by references, connections and an impressive profile.

Here’s our summary of the best videos on the web to help you with this. Any other videos that should be on this list? Let us know!

Why Join LinkedIn?
Before we even start, watch this video which really explains the power of LinkedIn and your motivation to join.

What is LinkedIn?
The best place to start, as you would expect, is LinkedIns own channel on YouTube. It’s also a great example of business use of YouTube! It has lots of helpful videos, with tips and how-tos.
This video takes you through the basic functionalities of LinkedIn, in simple English.

To Search for a New Job
This video explains simply how to make the most of your second degree contacts – which are likely to be the people that can help you the most in your search.

How to optimise your profile for SEO
Let’s not forget – your profile on Linkedin is an important part of your own, personal web presence. Do you like what you find when you Google your name? Well, having an up to date, completed Linkedin profile is an important step on the way.

LinkedIn Groups
Groups can be based on industry, alumni or professional networks. They’re a great opportunity to share and get involved in discussions with like-minded professionals. Some of the largest groups have hundreds of thousands of members -but be sure not to overlook smaller, localised groups which may in fact offer you better networking opportunities.

Ready to take the next step in LinkedIn? We've already done the hard work for you - here are some great resources to help you on your way:

7 Ways to Get More Out of LinkedIn - Mashable
Where's Waldo? Getting found on LinkedIn - Marketing Profs
10 ways to get ahead on LinkedIn - Econsultancy

Finally, read here about how we successfully used LinkedIn to recruit a new member of the Art Division team back in September and also here to Art Division on LinkedIn

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Power of Testimonials

In the past months, online retailers have really been emphasising customer reviews, feedback and testimonials on their websites. After making a purchase online, it’s even become normal to receive a follow-up e-mail encouraging you to leave a review on their website. Amazon, Topshop, Accessorize… all the big names are doing it. Elsewhere, even the BBC iPlayer website is asking you to make and share reviews and recommendations with your social networks.

How can you integrate the power of testimonials into your online presence?

Your company website is the most obvious place to display testimonials. Of course, the more specific they are, the better.

1 -I enjoyed working with Art DivisionA happy client.

2 - “What I liked most about working with Art Division was the speed and efficiency in dealing with requests, their expert advice and the face to face communication with the team.Donald Ingham, Outerspace Garden Design

Option 2 is clearly better here as we, as potential clients, understand not only why it was a good experience – but the specific reasons. Giving a full name, company, and a photo when possible all add to the credibility and value of the testimonial. Of course, check first with the client their permission to publish their comments. 

Consider not only having a page especially for testimonials, but also weaving them through the site – for example in a side bar - to catch the readers’ eye. Details are important, but they do need to be readable - keep them to 5 lines or so when possible. If you have a very long testimonial, break it up and use different parts in different places over your site.

Taking it further

A testimonial could be for example a twitter feed managed by an employee or group of connected employees – leading to real social media success. It gives potential clients an “insight” into your company – the chance to get to know a little about you and your culture.

Elsewhere, it could be a review of your product or service on your Google places entry – here is displayed not only reviews that  clients have left specifically on Google places, but also a selection of reviews on your company from around the web. When you do a Google search for your industry in your geographical location e.g. “my industry + town”, do you like what you find?

We haven’t stopped hearing about the power of video this year – why not add video testimonials to your youtube channel or company website? Videos give that much more credibility than a short paragraph of text.

Testimonials can be considered the most powerful type of marketing copy – how will you integrate them into your online presence?

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