Plan Develop and Write – content workshop training

There’s a training event run by The Online Academy coming up next Friday 3rd March in Auckland.

 

Content marketing workshop

 

Learn more at The Online Business Academy – how to Plan, develop and Write content that will rock your brand.

 

 

We’re hiring – Marketing Assistant – Digital Marketing

Marketing Assistant specialising in Digital Marketing and Copywriting.

Creative Agency Secrets provides digital marketing services for brands and businesses. We are a leading agency innovating with marketing techniques like social media, community building, direct response and advanced blogging.

Working with us you will learn how to run a website, ecommerce shop, blog, email marketing, database management and social media marketing.

This position is suited to an applicant with 1+ year experience in a similar role who wants to accelerate their learning and move up towards being a Marketing Manager.

An interest in the internet is essential and a marketing, communications, business studies degree is optional. Some prior knowledge of websites, blogs and online marketing is needed. Excellent written communication is required and a writing test in English will be part of the application.

Send your CV and one page describing an event you ran (party, event, gig, trip to the beach etc) what you did to market and promote it. Include a list of the tools and techniques you used, what worked and what didn’t work and the outcomes.

This is a full time job based at our Eden Terrace offices.  Pay is from $40,000 per annum plus 20 days holiday.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning Impact on the Future of Content and SEO

The age of Artificial Intelligence is here and it’s powering up the simplest things in our daily lives. In a nutshell, Machine Learning is the science of giving computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Kinda like showing it pictures of kittens until it creates enough patterns to identify another kitten by itself from new images. It’s very similar to how our human brains learn while we are kids. A few companies already have this type of technology running (and evolving by the second), like Facebook and Google. Every day we input more and more content online as check-ins at favourite restaurants, search queries for hotels for our next vacation, pictures with friends and peers. The list goes on.

Big Brother is watching and he can help sell your stuff

This is a bit of a futurology exercise, I know. But don’t get it confused with any supernatural nonsensery, I’m certainly not writing this article on an Ouija board. It’s pure (computer) science that you don’t have to understand completely, just harvest its potential.

Taking advantage of the massive quantity of data stored online is incredibly useful to pinpoint your target audience, facilitating conversions. Because we blindly “agreed to the terms and conditions” of most online services, social media platforms can freely record information and trace it back to your profile for future use. In a world where virtually everyone is connected 24/7, this is actually a cool thing from the marketing perspective (if you ignore the obvious user privacy issues of having every move tracked online).

Ever noticed how Facebook shows (mostly) spot on sponsored content on your timeline? By analysing everything you like and share, Facebook creates a detailed persona of each user to target ads in the best way possible. And it’s not only what you do on the platform, they can track your footprint in other websites thanks to their Facebook Pixel.

Machine Learning helps predict your client’s future actions

As you probably know, we humans are creatures of habit, which makes recording our behaviour a simple task to the machines. Knowing that, Amazon and Netflix have mastered how to give the best “related products” suggestions you can find online. Their state of the art database is taking advantage of Machine Learning to predict your next clicks offering highly tailored content. Forget one-size-fits-all. To thrive in the current market, companies must pay attention to User Experience like never before.

A simpler (and free) way to implement something a lot less fancy as that is two tools called Content Analytics and Heat Maps, both part of the SumoMe suite. They record data of how far down your readers are getting in your articles and what links are generating more clicks on your pages. With this information, you can do very good educated guesses regarding what’s working and what to change on your website. This is not the “machine learning” approach, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Forget that “beep-boop” bullsh*t R2-D2 has been feeding us for decades

Artificial Intelligence is also being used to write texts without human supervision. For example, the biggest Wikipedia contributor, Sverker Johansson, with more than 2.7 million articles published, is actually using a bot called Lsjbot to create all content.

If you think it would be obvious to differentiate between human or computer generated articles, think again. According to a study from Karlstad University, Sweden, “the readers are not able to discern automated content from content written by a human“. The researchers used two sports articles (these tend to be more factual and analytical) one written by a journalist and another by a software previously called Statsheet (now called Wordsmith). Big media outlets as Los Angeles Times and Forbes already use similar technology as a base for some articles, with humans later improving the content before they hit publish.

And what if I told you that the previous paragraph wasn’t actually written by me, but by software?

Well, I would be lying.

But for one second you actually thought about the possibility, right? Welcome to the future.

Get creative, experiment, innovate

And how can you take advantage of this in your business? There are a few services (like the IBM Watson) that offer the power of “computer minds” to businesses.

One experiment that I believe is worth the try is applying “robot talk” to your images SEO. Using a free tool like Microsoft’s CaptionBot you can let their machines determine the Alt tag for your image in your website. With Google giving more autonomy to RankBrain and relying more upon machine learning to deliver the best search results, it’s not about how you describe an image anymore. It’s how the machines see it.

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Preparatory work for direct mail lowers costs

Direct mail is a highly effective marketing technique that delivers sales revenue in a short time frame.  

Some direct mail is poorly conceived and so does not achieve its potential.

[WARNING – this is not always true].

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

I received three mailers from a printing firm which serve as a great example of a campaign that could have been much more effective with some pre-planning working with an expert in direct mail campaign structure such as us.

Direct Mail campaign structure

Using a mailing list of marketing agencies, three print pieces of DM were posted out.

The copy promoted “digital by nature” and a new world of digital printing.

The positives

  • Each card had a number to show where it came in the sequence
  • Each one showed different paper colours front and back
  • Each card had the print specifications for the front and back detailed which was cute
  • All print was beautifully executed
  • The 3rd card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital White Toner
  • The 4th card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital Clear Toner

The negatives

  • I did not receive the first card so the campaign opener was lost
  • My agency does not buy print or do graphic design, we are not a good prospect for this service
  • No landing page for the campaign on the website
  • When I first visited there wasn’t a mention of the campaign on the homepage, there is now.
  • This goes to a landing page which has the wrong link in the contact us button.

    wrong link

    Wrong link – testing would have showed this up

How I would have improved the campaign

  1. Combined telephone canvassing with direct mail
    1. Checked the database by phone first asking one question “Do you design for print?”
    2. This would have reduced the downstream print and mailing costs, focused the campaign
  2. Published a landing page URL on the collateral
    1. Tested all the links so the contact us URL was correct (it currently references the same page it’s on)
    2. Included a “behind the scenes” video to show the inside track of the skill Valley Print used to create the mailers and the challenges they faced e.g. printing white on black for the envelope
  3. Used a courier delivery not NZ Post to improve delivery success
    1. This is particularly important for a posted print direct mail series
  4. Followed up by phone with
    1. an invitation to watch the video
    2. stay in touch
    3. subscribe to news updates
    4. further qualify for future work opportunities
  5. This would have built a mailing list, fully up to date and ready for in-house new business sales team to continue to work in the coming months
  6. Planned follow up campaigns including more of the excellent tutorials for designers

Ready to talk direct mail with us?

Give us your challenge and let the creative team loose!

2017 light trail fireworks art

January website checks you MUST make

It’s January – we are back from the Christmas break and many firms are still on a skeleton staff.  Some are back full time – but we’re all filled with the pressures of a new year – new marketing plans, new services, new products.

For most of us, we’ve already forgotten the marketing we did in December.  But we shouldn’t.

Because many websites are now inaccurate, out of date or just plain giving WRONG information.

Here’s a good example I called up today.  I got their “out of hours” telephone answering recorded message. It is past the 9th January and nobody’s home…. cooeee…..

Company contact information is wrong

Company contact information is wrong

So if you have a holiday closure message on your website – get that fixed up and corrected pronto.

Copyright dates on website footers are another culprit.  Some are obviously years out of date and others still say 2016

Website with date out of date

MOZ footer date out of date

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Automate publishing

Post Expirator Plugin for WP

Post Expirator Plugin for WP

Website CMS systems mostly offer automation services which allow you to set future dates to un-publish pages and posts.  Take a read of this explanation of how to “expire” a WordPress post using the WP Post Expirator plugin.  Set a future date at which the post will stop being visible – you can choose whether to return to draft or to delete the post.

Use code to update dates

Here is the code to insert into your footer to ensure that the copyright year automatically rolls over on January 1st.  Get it pasted into your website FAST.

<script type=”text/javascript”>

document.write(new Date().getFullYear());

</script>

Better marketing processes

Of course, fixing up your mistakes now is fine – but wouldn’t it be better to not have made them in the first place?

How about you set up reminders in your calendar to nudge you to manually remove or unpublish information?

Get those plugins and extensions installed so the work is done for you by machines.

Or pay an outsourced marketing consultant like Creative Agency Secrets to do it for you.

Happy new year – and if you’re in need of some marketing and new business year planning, come to our Auckland workshop on 26th January.

New Website Needed for Business Coaching Professional

The website has to portray the client’s professionalism and be a strong institutional platform to establish the brand as worthy of their prospects’ trust.

Of course, it has to be fully mobile friendly and take SEO elements into consideration.

An easy to use CMS like WordPress is suggested, but a custom website can be discussed if the price is not prohibitive.

Most likely, the sitemap will contain those 6 pages:
– Home
– About
– Services
– Blog (not yet decided)
– Resources (downloadable checklists and white papers)
– Contact

Timeframe:

To be ready around February / March 2017

How does Sub-Contracted Services Work?

We send you a brief against which you do a quotation.

We send your quote to the client who makes a selection.

You deal direct with the client – bill direct – brief direct.

Creative Agency Secrets does not take a fee from you for this work, nor do we want you to pad the quote in order to pay us commission.  Transparency is key as it builds trust.

We are frequently retained as project managers for the job and so you will find yourself working alongside us.

Are you an agency needing more work?

If you are an agency or a freelancer looking for the easiest way to get new client work – you’ve found it.

Join our “Sub-Contracted services email alert”.  Enter your details below and you’ll automatically be emailed every time we have new projects available.

Enter Your Email To Receive Our Latest Projects instantly.

 

Why Whitespace Matters in Web Design

Your website is a valuable marketing asset.

So it makes sense to invest in its design to make it better for potential prospects. In fact, many of the largest companies pour a tremendous amount of resources into their websites. Because even a single design can have a dramatic impact on conversions and bounce rates.

But it is also important to remember that a simple design is key to driving conversion goals.

Cluttered designs with poorly contrasting colours only serve to confuse visitors. Your website design should be readable and easy to understand so that visitors have an intuitive sense of what to do next.

One way to create a more enjoyable browsing experience is to implement whitespace. The use of whitespace is perhaps one of the most important elements of web design. Yet there are still a countless number of websites that look like an infomercial with elements that bombard new visitors.

Here we look at whitespace in more detail and how this simple design principle can boost engagement on your pages.

What is Whitespace?

Whitespace refers to negative space, or the empty space between elements on a page such as images and text. In other words, whitespace is the portion on page that is not filled up. Although it is called “whitespace”, the empty space can actually be any colour such as black.

Perhaps the best example of whitespace is Google’s homepage:

Google homepage

Other businesses including Dropbox make ample use of whitespace on their sites:

Dropbox Business Page

Now contrast those two examples with this website:

Gates N Fences page

It is not immediately clear what the business offers or what actions visitors should take.

Just with a simple comparison, the advantages of a clean design is immediately apparent. Whitespace may seem like a waste. But as we have seen, it can be used to great effect and keep visitors on the page longer. And this can ultimately mean the difference between exceeding sales goals or struggling to meet them.

Why Whitespace Matters

Whitespace is advantageous for the following reasons:

  • Improved legibility: Nothing is more frustrating than landing on page with text that is too small or with minimal line spacing. Improved legibility is one obvious benefit of whitespace. Just by adjusting line spacing and adding more space around images can help visitors better understand what they are reading. This is key to boosting engagement and reducing bounce rates.
  • Ability to highlight CTAs: Imagine if Google’s homepage was filled with links to other pages or other elements such as banners. Both would likely have a negative impact on the number of search queries, which is the last thing that Google would want. Making use of whitespace then is a great way to highlight call to actions and get visitors to take a single action.
  • Creates a lasting impression: There is a reason why some of the largest invest heavily in their website design. Because online users are quick to make impressions based on what they see. Whitespace is especially important as it adds a sense of elegance to your site.

Less is more as whitespace can really make a difference in terms of your website design.

A clean interface makes it easier for visitors to immediately grasp what a page is about and what actions to take next. The goal for any website is to keep visitors engaged and generate more sales or leads. Whitespace helps to achieve those objectives.

The use of ample whitespace is a basic web design principle that can dramatically improve your website performance in terms of conversions. So take a closer look at all the aspects of your website to identify how you can make your design simple and uncluttered.

 

 

 

bad linkedin, location obscure, fake profile

Do Consumers Need to Know Where Our Business is Located?

Today’s always-on global world could make your business location seem to be an irrelevancy.  But the opposite is true.  Local marketing is now the fastest-growing part of online marketing specialisms.  And it matters.  Let me explain.

So here are 3 examples for you to use when considering international website domains. 

Feel local but act global

A client asked “We operate in Australia and New Zealand and not sure whether our NZ target market (women 25+) will find our Australian connection appealing or a turn off, given how very passionate and patriotic us Kiwis are! I’m getting mixed messages when I ask around.

We don’t want to hide our Australian connection, as it’s very important and where the business was born, with a fascinating story behind it, just not sure whether to include “Australia” and “New Zealand” optional buttons on the landing page to split off there, or if it should perhaps only appear as an option when you need to click on “events” or “locations” etc. that have information relevant only for each country?” 

What should she do?

My advice is to use a single web domain as the master site for both countries and then to have separate pages for the two locations. Here’s why.

Aussies versus Kiwis – Broadly they are correct, New Zealanders want to think they’re seeing local information (and importantly local currency and phone numbers) and of course small differences in language and rugby club orientation may also come through in brand communications over time.  Do Australians eat afghan biscuits?  Do Kiwis eat chiko rolls?

Your Website Strategy

Ultimately the solution you choose MUST be driven by the strategy for each country.  Is the website a place where people find out about you, get news on specials and what’s new, will they email you, will they phone you?  If yes, then the website must facilitate separate information for each site.

Set the strategy for the website first, then worry about the technical implementation.

Take a look at this case study of some work we did for a client who needed his visitors to quickly split up into pages best aligned with their needs. 

apartment specialists website redesign

Driving visitors to the right landing page focuses traffic

A strategic solution

The home page says what the business brand is all about – the owners, your values and passions.

Then you have a “What’s On NZ”  and a separate “What’s on AU” button that take visitors to what is effectively a home page for that location……

I would treat the NZ page effectively as your local domain and give it a really simple URL and so all links to the New Zealand business go there first.

An alternative to this location split is to have parallel websites which have slightly different domains e.g. nz.yourwebsite.com and au.yourwebsite.com   You often see this device used by international law firms and accountants.  This can be set up by your web hosts.

In practice this means few visitors go to the home page…. but that doesn’t really matter as long as local audiences are being served.

A poorly executed country strategyPerth-or-Thailand

By contrast, we got approached by a Perth business asking to do some content marketing with us.

They sounded like a good prospect and we fixed a phone call.  I rang, answerphone with an English man’s voice…. so I looked him up on LinkedIn and it turns out the business name is BusinessName (Thailand) Co.  Which rang a few alarm bells.

And his stated location was Manchester, UK.  Clearly a disconnect.

When we spoke he said although their phones were VOIP and used Australian numbers; he was actually based in Thailand and he couldn’t make outbound calls to international numbers like mine in New Zealand.  As any Aussie or Kiwi business will tell you, it’s extremely odd not to be able to phone the other country while doing business.

Now let’s look at a third scenario

Nimbus Portal Solutions are a client and they trade in five jurisdictions – Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, USA and South Africa plus “Global” to pick up the rest of the world.  

Their chosen solution to the website location question is to locally identify the IP address of the visitor and to quietly re-set the website version to the domain best suited.  So my default goes to NZ.  You can check this top right in their website where a country name displays. 

The main goal for Nimbus is to ensure all the currencies are local and bank account / trading entities switch to match.  Which is important for their business as jurisdiction for secure document storage matters – borders and locations of server hosting are aligned to the local country to stay within data protection laws.

In summary – set the website goal first and the supporting strategy will then drive the solution which works best for your situation.

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine