Digital Marketing & SEO Tricks for your Web Design

As a small or mid-sized business, hiring a quality Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consultant or agency can be expensive and a painstakingly tricky terrain to navigate. Guiding and effectively managing SEO consultants is equally challenging. What questions do you ask them? What tactics are working? How were results achieved?

Here are 10 do-it-yourself SEO tips that business owners or marketing managers can try before hiring an SEO agency or consultant.

 1. Understand your Online Market and Target Customers

Having an offline, real-world understanding of your market and target customers is only half the story. Habits and behavior often differ online in comparison to the offline world. A prominent offline presence does not equate to a dominant online presence. A leading national store that stocks and sells curtains and blinds, for instance, might have much tougher competition from the online-only curtain and blind retailers.

Search online for products and services you offer and take note of the most prominent websites. Study their customer reviews and benchmark their social media presence and activity. You will likely find businesses you have not come across.

2. Master Keyword Research

You probably understand your industry jargon and are aware that your customers might use different terms than your trade colleagues to refer to your services or goods. The process of keyword research provides a rounded understanding of key phrases, search terms, and also online demand for products or services.

All business owners and managers intending to market online should know how to run keyword research.

I suggest free keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, which requires that you have an AdWords account, and Übersuggest, a Google suggest scraper tool.

If you have the funds, then the paid keywords research tools worth trying are SEMRush and Wordtracker.

Also understand your industry’s head key-phrases (general and highest search volume) and long-tail key-phrases (varied and more specific key phrases usually over four words).

Consider printing out and sticking your keyword research on a notice board as a constant reminder of your online focus.

3. Plan your Site

Now that you have an understanding of the most searched keywords and the most relevant long-tail words, you should have an idea of what pages on your website address those search queries.

Having a list on paper or a spreadsheet of all top, mid, and low-tier web pages and their corresponding keyword focus forms the basis of your website’s architecture. Each high and medium priority keyword from your keyword research should have a corresponding page on your site.

Long-tail keywords should be used in blog posts and FAQs.

4. Build your Site

Now that you have an idea of the pages that should be on your site, the next step is to build the best site in your industry with the help of a professional web designer or agency and with user-testing focus groups.

Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, advises site owners to build great websites that users love and want to tell their friends about — sites that users visit over and over again. Any website built in 2013 should be mobile responsive to cater for smartphone browsers. WordPress is terrific for most small and mid-sized businesses due to its simplicity, flexibility, support, in-built SEO features, and access to a vast library of free and premium plugins.

5. Start Blogging or Producing Regular Content

You don’t have to start a blog, but start publishing your own content on a scheduled basis. I am not advocating turning your business into a publishing company by posting content every day. Scheduling weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly updates is my recommendation — consistency is key. Also, bear in mind that content does not necessarily need to be text — for example, an architectural firm could publish professionally taken photographs of its projects or Realtors could publish weekly video bulletins. Publishing content that is tailored to the content consumption habits of your target audience is the goal.

6. Build your Social Media Network

Join Google+ and then figure out one or two other social media platforms to hone in on. You have lots of options to choose from, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Social media enables you to connect with your customers, publishers, and an audience for the content that you produce. Understanding and nurturing these relationships would swiftly produce results and help your SEO in the long run.

7. DIY Public Relations

Public relations plays a key role in off-page SEO. You should know how to:

Establish and tell a compelling story about your brand;
Get media attention;
Pitch not just to journalists but also bloggers and social media influencers;
Use social media to establish relationships and promote your brand.

8. Understand Google Analytics

Have a basic understanding of Google Analytics. Understand the type of reports each Google Analytics tab covers — Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, Conversions, and Real-Time.
This will help you appreciate the concept of traffic and its sources as well as let you read monthly or weekly reports provided to you by your SEO or web design agency.

The importance of analytics in digital marketing is akin to financial reports in accounting.

9. Read at Least One SEO Blog

Familiarise yourself with SEO by reading a factual SEO guide and then subscribing to an SEO blog — time permitting. Here are my key recommendations.

The top free beginner guides to SEO are Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO, Search Engine Land’s SEO Guide, Google SEO Start Guide, and KISSmetrics’ guide to SEO.
For keeping up to date with SEO changes (especially if you are time-strapped), the two video channels I suggest are Moz’s Whiteboard Friday and the Google Webmasters YouTube channel.
If you have more time on your hands and are keen to follow the SEO industry, then subscribe to Moz, Search Engine Land, and Matt Cutts’ blog.

10. Ask Questions

Anytime you are stuck or need answers, jump into SEO communities to ask questions. Google’s Webmaster Forum offers the largest SEO community on the web. Another good community is the Webmaster World Forum. Others I recommend are Moz’s Q&A Forum, SEOChat — which is where I started learning about SEO, SEO Round Table, and Search Engine Watch Forum.

These communities are also good places for hiring SEO consultants or agencies.

I hope these 10 steps help you save money, get better rankings, and avoid throwing money away. They could also help you become a better SEO client by asking the right questions and utilising the agency or consultant you hire to its fullest potential.

Of course, If you want that agency to be us, we would be delighted to help you on your journey. Just click here to fill out the enquiry form and we can take it from there.

Hope this helps,

Greig

Business Tips & Advice from Outside Media Group Dundee - Web Design Scotland

Good social media presence is not just merely an option, it is necessary for brands nowadays.

In the past couple of years, marketing in social media channels has grown rapidly. New features like ephemeral content by SnapChat, live feature by Facebook, are helping a brand to connect with their customers more effectively.

According to a study by The CMO Survey, the marketing budget spent by brands on social media is expected to double (from 11% to 24%) in the next five years. Also as per records by Statistica, 95% young adults follow a brand via social media networking and the count of social media users at the end of 2018 would be 2.5 billion. But even such highly convincing stats have not been able to convince the remaining ones about benefits of social networking sites and join the bandwagon.

Here are 7 reasons why your business needs strong social media presence these days:

1. Search Engine Visibility

Every business wants to increase traffic and user engagement but will it be possible if your prospects are not able to find you over the internet? Social media profiles help you dominate first search result page in a more natural way, which further increases profits. Consider the fact that millennials spent a large amount of time on social platforms, and their value will increase further.

Moreover, presence on social media channels will not only generate business for you but also stop brand negativity to reach top positions.

2. Company Mouthpiece

Whether you are new to the industry or have been a part of it for many years, a positive word-of-mouth will always help you gain customers. Social media marketing help business owners keep their clients updated about new launches, company policies and also team activities.

Online social networking gives you a chance to build narration to capture your customers’ interest. Each Facebook post and tweet can share company values, ethics, and much more. But don’t flood your followers with x number of updates every day. Make sure that everything is relevant.

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3. Trust-building Channels

Social media presence has become vital to earn customers’ trust. You can survive without a physical store but not having a social presence will be scorned at. Be it online stores or startups, this is true for all online businesses. If you don’t have active presence on social media channels, then, you are missing out on brand critical profiles.

4. Competitive Advantage

Do you think your competitors also don’t care about social media presence? You may be wrong. There are high chances that they are investing their time and money into building a positive online social presence to gain business.

Not having a social media presence will derive you of all its benefits and they will be automatically passed on to your competitor. So, take a good look around and see what they have been doing.

5. Virtual Connect with Customers

It is critical for virtual companies to prove their credibility and gain customer confidence. Social media platforms give you the opportunity to create a bond with your customers. As a brand, you have to know that it is important to engage your customers and thus uses different social media networks to promote your services. For instance, Creative Facebook posts can be used to interact with customers and give them a chance to engage with your business.

6. Sales & Business Leads

Social media is immensely useful in generating leads. With modern social channels like Pinterest and YouTube that allow direct purchases, social media has become even more powerful. Instagram, too, launched a call to action button that helps its audience to shop and install applications.

Social media is evolving very fast and it will very soon drive sales in a big way. And if you will not be there when it happens, well, you will the losing party.

 

7. Marketing Channels

Driving sales is seen as one of the biggest merits of social networking sites. All the social media channels have well-defined marketing machinery in place to help brands connect with their target audience. Facebook’s Sponsored Posts and Twitter’s Marketing Campaigns are two of the most popular ways to market your products and services.

Every social media channel has unique marketing channels. Though you don’t necessarily need to have a social media presence to use these channels, having the same will multiply the gains. Global brands link their marketing campaigns with their social profiles to increase likes and followers.

The power of social media is huge, and it can open the doors of success for your business when used in the right manner. Benefits generated by social media channels are measurable and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using them.

Conclusion

Everything said, make sure you choose the right social channels and step in with a detailed strategy. Just posting images and status updates will not help your business. The right combination of informative and promotion posts are required to generate desired results. Plus, generating leads from social media advertising is entirely different ballgame that requires experience and insights.

To find out how we can take your business into the social-sphere and start generating business online, just ping us an email at [email protected] or visit our project page using the link in the red box below

5 Ways 5G Will Aid Your Business

Business Tips & Advice from Outside Media Group Scotland - Web Design Dundee
I get asked often, where do you see things in terms of digital in 5 to 10 years time. Well, we don’t really need to look as far as 10 years, or even 5 for the next big turn in the digital revolution wheel. Let’s talk about 5G5G remains a work in progress, but that progress is getting closer to completion. Some are forecasting the network’s arrival as soon as 2020, though that remains just an estimate. Regardless, the functionality of the system, once operational, will be remarkable, far outstripping speeds of previous networks. This will undoubtedly have a massive impact on business – for the better.Wider bandwidth means more opportunities for companies, including stabler video conferencing, more options for streaming in-depth content to users and opening doors for distributed artificial intelligence applications.

While the system isn’t commercially available yet, members of the Forbes technology Council are already looking ahead to the potential it could offer to their businesses or the industry as a whole.

This is what they’re expecting:

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The Government wants the UK to be a ‘world leader’ in 5G
1. Older Tech Will Become More Mainstream 

I believe the biggest impact that 5G can bring for my business is actually a backdoor one. For every big new wave in the tech field, the previous high-end tech becomes mainstream. This means that 5G will indirectly enable 4G to be widely adopted across the globe and especially hitting developing countries, which will be great for SaaS companies that offer products built for small businesses.

2. There Will Be More Face-To-Face, Real-Time Virtual Interactions With Our Customers 

With 5G wireless allowing for faster internet speed, there is an opportunity for us to create more face-to-face, real-time virtual interactions with our customers. On the business development front, we anticipate new ways to virtually meet with clients, prospects, and providers. It could also help distribute powerful, original video content for training our employees and associates.

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The future of the Internet of things is not that far away…..
3. 5G Parameters Portend Greater Branch Synergy 

As a company reliant on cloud-based services for seamless data transfer between member branches and partners, faster connectivity and lower latency translates to increased productivity. Besides increasing reliability — and thereby decreasing attention to minor technicalities — 5G parameters portend greater branch synergy, allowing for smoother remote interaction and increased focus on company priorities.

4. Everything Will Be More Connected And Efficient

With faster data speeds, low latency and a more connected world, my business will become for efficient than ever before once 5G is a reality. A 5G network will also do wonders for the industrial scales we design and manufacture. Our customers’ businesses and operations will also improve efficiency and become more connected with 5G.

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It is almost vital to keep your business up to date in today digital revolution.
5. More People Will Move To Cloud-Based Software 

Faster internet speeds lower the cost of innovation. We’ll see more people move from downloaded accounting software to cloud-based accounting, which impacts the number of businesses looking for a product like Quickbooks etc.

It is almost vital to keep your business up to date in todays digital revolution. You don’t need to look too far for classic examples of businesses that fell complacent and failed to embrace peoples changing behavior towards buying online – as a result of the new digital landscape,

Toys R ‘Us, Woolworths to name few….

If you have any questions or need our expertise about the topics in this article, we are happy to answer them! You can contact us by clicking here or email us at [email protected]

Hope this helps,

Greig

Click here to find out more about our Digital Makeovers

 

Business Tips & Advice from Outside Media Group Scotland - Web Design & Digital Strategy Dundee
A good business website is like having an extra employee—one who works 24/7 and can be the face of your company, give information, answer queries and even make sales. But what good does that do you if you aren’t getting visitors to your site? In this post we’ll cover thirteen of the many ways to drive traffic to your website.The Importance of Website TrafficWebsite traffic is both an important indicator and driver of business growth. It can help you to:•  See how well your marketing is working•  Gather insight about your audience to make decisions

•  Improve your SEO and search engine credibility

•  Generate more leads, increase conversions, and get more customers

How to Get More Website VisitorsThere are 1.24 billion websites in the world. That’s a lot of competition, but keep in mind that you’re not trying to attract all internet users. Your goal is to get more people in your target audience to visit your site.

Below are some simple ways to increase the amount of traffic that you are getting to your website.

Hope this helps,

Greig

Here are 10 Ways to generate more business from your website

1. Perform On-Page SEO

There are many SEO tactics you can perform on each of your website pages to increase their rank in search engines and get more visitors. This includes producing high-quality content that your audience is searching for and writing concise meta descriptions for your pages. The meta description appears below your URL in search results. Knowing what a page is about and what will result in a click makes users much more likely to do so.

2. Get Listed

Another way to increase traffic to your website is to get listed in online directories and review sites. For most of these sites, your profile will have a link to your website, so actively updating these listings and getting positive reviews is likely to result in more website traffic.

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3. Post to Social Media with Hashtags

Use social media to promote blog posts and other useful content on your website. This way you can get your social media followers to your site, as well as users in your followers’ networks who share your content.

By adding hashtags to posts that promote your website pages, you can extend your reach beyond your network and get discovered by users searching for your products and services.

4. Advertise Online

Online advertising is perhaps the most basic way to get more people to visit your site. Social media paid search, and display advertising are all excellent channels for PPC advertising to boost website traffic.

5. Target Long-Tail Keywords

While short-tail keywords are often searched more frequently, it is more difficult to rank for them on search engines. Targeting long-tail keywords, on the other hand, gives you a better chance of ranking higher (even on the first page) for queries specific to your products and services—and higher ranking means more traffic. Plus, as search engines and voice-to-text capabilities advance, people are using more specific phrases to search online.

6. Start Email Marketing

Sending out regular newsletters and promoting offers through email is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and can also help to get traffic to your website. Provide useful information and links to pages on your website where they can learn more, such as through blog posts and offer landing pages. Just make sure that you don`t continually bombard your readers with emails or your customers will either disengage with, delete, or unsubscribe from your emails.

Also, put careful thought into your email subject lines. These heavily influence whether or not a user opens your email. If your emails never get opened, they can’t supply traffic to your site!

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7. Use Landing Pages

Create landing pages specific to your offers, such as for redeeming discount codes, downloading a free guide, or starting a free trial. Landing pages are another source of traffic to your website. Plus, they contain the details users need in order to move forward and convert.

8. Guest Blog

Having a micro-influencer publish a blog post on your site can help to increase your web traffic, as they are likely to share the post with their large audience. It can also help to add more variety to your content and show your visitors that you are active in your field. Alternatively, you could ask the influencer to mention your business in their own review or round-up post, or you could turn an interview with the influencer into a blog post that is likely to get traffic.

You can also be a guest blogger. Identify complementary businesses in your area whose audience is relevant to your business. See if you can contribute a post to their blog with a link back to your website. Make sure your content is relevant and useful to their audience so that it’s more of an even exchange.

9. Engage Online

Be active in online groups and on websites that are relevant to your business and community. Comment on blogs and social media posts, answer questions people are posting, and participate in conversations about your industry. The more you engage with your community, the more exposure and profile visits you get. If your social media profiles contain a link to your website, then you’ve turned your engagement into another channel for website traffic. Just be sure to engage moderately and in a sincere way, and avoid including links to your website in your comments

Just be sure to engage moderately and in a sincere way, lest you hurt your online and business reputation. Also, avoid including links to your website directly in your comments, as this is spammy. Increased traffic should not be the goal of your engagement, but rather a secondary result.

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10. Learn from Your Analytics

Use tracked links for your marketing campaigns and regularly check your website analytics. This will enable you to identify which strategies and types of content work, which ones need improvement, and which ones you should not waste your time on.

These are only some of the many strategies you can use to drive traffic to your website. Getting more website visitors does not happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication, but we’ve eliminated the hard part for you: knowing what to do in the first place. Implement a mix of these strategies and you’ll start seeing improvements in your website traffic.

Need help to generate more business online? Click Here

If you have any questions or need our expertise about the topics in this article, we are happy to answer them! You can contact us by clicking here

or email us at

[email protected]

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Business Tips & Advice from Outside Media Group Scotland - Landing Page & Web Design Dundee
First impressions are important. If a customer doesn’t like what they see immediately, they probably won’t try to take a deeper look at a company. As a result, businesses devote time, money, and resources to make them look as appealing as possible. Yet many of them don’t apply the same principles to their web presence, and often wonder why landing pages are important.If your enterprise lacks a landing page, it can affect everything from your social media presence to the way you attract customers and convert leads. These four points can teach you about landing pages’ importance and help you reap their benefits.

Hope this helps,

Greig

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Example: iPad Mini Landing Page from Apple

1. They Can Simplify Decisions for Your Audience

When you’re designing a website, it’s tempting to try to cover every base. You want to make sure potential customers can find what they’re looking for, so you may feel like you need to cram as much information into it as possible. While this isn’t necessarily harmful to your website as a whole, it can be deadly for your landing page.

Landing pages are meant to direct your audience to commit to a given action. If you present them with too many choices, they may get distracted and fail to follow through on your chosen purpose. Landing pages are important because they limit the number of decisions a visitor can make, allowing you to lead them to the outcome you desire.

2. They Can Generate Leads

A good landing page doesn’t just attract visitors. It also allows you to establish contact with them and gauge whether they’re interested in your company’s services or products. You can do this by setting up a form that asks readers for their contact information in exchange for a discount or content like whitepapers and exclusive articles. Potential customers will fill out the form, giving you a lead that your sales team can later follow up on.

3. They’re Essential for Closed-Loop Marketing

But generating leads isn’t the only reason why landing pages are important. They can also help you maximise your website’s efficiency and learn more about your audience. All of this is possible through closed-loop marketing.

The process involves setting up tracking URLs and cookies on your website or in the social media posts you use to share your content. When visitors arrive on your site, you can use customer relationship management (CRM) software to determine which method (email, social media, search engine, etc.) directed them to which page. From there, you can track their activity and see which pages they visit. If they navigate through to your form and fill it out, the CRM software will immediately associate the client and their information with their path through your site. You can use this data to interpret who your customers are and what they need, allowing you to tailor your content and outbound marketing campaigns to appeal to the desired demographic. On the other hand, if many people exit the website when they reach a given page, it may indicate a weak spot in your web presence, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.

4. They Help Your Ad Campaign Succeed

If you are paying for high search engine placement, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your purchase. As a result, you need to quickly and efficiently convert visitors into leads, and leads into sales. When it comes to ads, you’re really only guaranteed one click, and redirecting a customer to another page may cause them to leave. Landing pages aren’t just important because they allow you to convert leads quickly, but also because they can reduce your bounce rate.

Boost Your Custom with Landing Pages?

The options are endless when it comes to generating sales for your business. However, a landing page is the best choice to speak directly to your target audience and offer valuable content. Plus, with easy-to-use templates from Leadpages, you can send qualified traffic to your offer in under an hour

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Most of us will have used a landing page without even realising
Ready to build your first landing page?
Get in touch today for a free consultation
If you have any questions or need our expertise about the topics in this article, we are happy to answer them! You can contact us by clicking hereor email us at[email protected]

TOP Facebook Trends for 2018

Business Tips & Advice from Outside Media Group Scotland - Social Media Strategy & Management Dundee

There is no doubt that Facebook has changed the way people connect and communicate. And with the continued evolution of the platform since its 2004 launch, Facebook trends have increasingly influenced how digital marketers behave. This has made Facebook marketing as crucial an aspect of the industry as any.

Below are some of the Facebook trends you need to embrace in the coming year if you want to keep pace in the realm of Facebook marketing.

Video will still be huge

In 2017, video laid claim to being the undisputed king of content. And while different variations of video emerged throughout the year (ephemeral, live, etc.), in the coming year, video will remain an integral part of Facebook marketing.

There are various studies and stats that back this up, but perhaps none more convincing than Mark Zuckerberg saying that Facebook users watch an average of 100 million hours of video every day. And the unfathomable amount of Facebook videos consumed have been found to get 135 percent more organic reach than photos.

These are just some of the reasons why, even though brands should already have jumped on the video bandwagon, 46 percent of marketers still plan to add Facebook video to their digital marketing plan in the coming year.

Going live

Utilising Facebook Live for marketing has gotten increasingly more important since it was rolled out to all users in April 2016. Search Engine Journal found that their average Facebook Live engagement was 178 percent higher than their average post engagement. The average reach of Live posts also increased to more than double.

Facebook Live videos’ organic feel (as opposed to curated ones), as well as the way it allows for real-time interactions between publishers and audiences are a big part of why the format has been largely successful thus far.

Here are some tips on how to best leverage Facebook Live for marketing:

  • Create a Facebook Event: This is a good way of making your subscribers aware of a coming Live broadcast beforehand. Similarly, you should also publish posts (across all your social media channels) in the lead up announcing the schedule of Live broadcasts, so audiences know exactly when to expect them.
  • Social shares: As the broadcast is happening, schedule social shares using a consistent hashtag, so it will be easier for your followers to find the live content. You should also include the URL of your Facebook page, and tag the pertinent people/brands involved in the broadcast.
  • Recap: If you plan on having regular Live broadcasts, you could further increase awareness for it by publishing recap posts. Include links to the embedded videos, so those who missed out can get more of a visual clue to what went down.

The growth of AR/VR on Facebook

At its Facebook F8 2017 event, Zuckerberg made no secret of the direction they were taking AR and VR. The social media giant has never been known to stand pat, and with Camera Effects Platform, and Facebook Spaces, it’s looking to lead the way towards an exciting new realm of interactions.

Camera Effects Platform

There are three key aspects of Facebook’s new AR platform:

  • Precise location: Precise location can place varying imagery in the camera’s viewfinder. During the event, Zuckerberg showed an image of a cereal bowl with sharks swimming around it, along with a graphic saying “It’s feeding time” rising from the table.
  • 3D effects: The platform is designed to build out 3D environments using a 2D photo.
  • Object recognition: With this, users can use real-time visuals to have new kind of interaction with images. Zuckerberg illustrated this with a photo of a plant, a wine bottle, and a mug. The plant had a thunderstorm graphic pop out to water it, while the wine bottle had an information card showing its price and origins.

In its current form, Zuckerberg admitted that it is but the next step in the evolution of AR, adding that what phone cameras can presently do are just primitive versions of what AR experiences will eventually be.

Facebook Spaces

Initially launched in Oculus Rift and Touch, this platform allows people to interact with friends (as avatars) in virtual reality.

As Facebook’s promotional video shows, Spaces allows for friends to have a place to meet even if they’re not in the same physical space. In the virtual world, users can share various forms of media to each other live.

What it can do for marketers

As noted by Econsultancy, marketers have already had a taste of what sponsored Snapchat filters can do. Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform sees the former’s filters, and raises the bar exponentially.

With the platform’s ability to recognize any object (as opposed to just faces), there is now a myriad of creative branding possibilities. Product information will just be the tip of this new creative iceberg, with the possibility of users pointing to virtually anything (shoes, cars, clothes, food, etc.)—and have all sorts of info (and interaction) pop up. With Facebook Spaces, the platform is dependent on 360-degree content—something brands will be more than willing to provide.

It’s interesting where brands will take this new available technology, but if you’re going to place a bet on anything, it’s on that leading brands are already exploring the vast possibilities.

Other innovative visual content

If a picture paints a thousand words, then GIFs can express what words can’t. And while its entertainment value has long been appreciated by netizens, brands are increasingly seeing what GIFs can do for business.

Naturally, shorter videos get more complete views. This is why GIFs have become increasingly valuable. As noted by WordStream, not only does it stand out from static images, it does not require the same amount of investment, effort-wise compared to videos, carousel, and lead ads. Additionally, you can even repurpose existing video assets as Facebook GIF ads—making it a win on repeat.

And if you need further convincing of how huge GIFs will be in 2018, according to Forbes, Giphy has over 100 million daily users sending 1 billion GIFs each day. It’s become such huge business that Giphy runs its own studio in Los Angeles for massive clients like Nike, Paramount, McDonald’s, and FOX.

Here are some tips on using GIFs for Facebook ads:

  • Keep it smooth: Choppy transitions and strobing effects do not work for this format.
  • Keep it simple: Trying to do too much with your GIF defeats the entire purpose of using it. Make sure that both the message you’re trying to relay, the transitions, and the CTAs are as simple as possible.
  • Use as part of a strategy: Sure, some GIFs just have that viral magic about them, but you can’t count on yours being one of them. Instead of trying to create magic, use GIF ads as a complementary part of a series of visual content. Make sure you understand how to use GIFs before aiming to make it your main strategy.

Press and hold videos

If you haven’t encountered a photo with a CTA to press and hold, then chances are you’re an Android user. The feature (only available for iOS users), basically allows people to physically press a photo before taking them to either a video or an image slideshow. When they lift their fingers off the screen, they’re taken back to the static photo (here’s a guide on how to make one).

What it can do for marketers

Engagement is the name of the game when it comes to Facebook marketing, and this format allows you to interact with audiences in real time right on their newsfeeds. Because the format is still relatively new, you can surprise your subscribers with interesting content—at least while its novelty lasts.

360 Photos/Videos

Considered by some to be a form of VR, 360-degree media keeps right in line with the need to create more immersive brand experiences. And because most of the leading brands will continually increase their pivot to video, you’re going to have to find a way to stand out from what will inevitably become white video noise.

What it can do for marketers

Anthony Holland Parkin, head of VR at Getty Images, notes that technological advancements in 360-degree cameras have provided brands with the tools to tell stories from new vantage points. He cited people going to social media during Fashion Week to have a real-time look at next season’s trends.

“Now, instead of just viewing photographs from behind-the-scenes or on the runway, it’s possible to explore the entire show from all vantage points, as if you were there.”

Another possibility Parkin points out, which could be developed in the future, is the ability to purchase an item within a 360-degree media experience.

Continuous rise of chatbots

According to Facebook, there are now 100,000 monthly active bots on Messenger, providing an instant connection between brands and customers. Customer service remains the main realm of chatbots, addressing basic queries and issues, and providing an automated interaction to drive sales.

Here are some tips for creating chatbots:

  • Create a character first: Chatbots are meant to feel personal, and as such, you need to think of a persona first before focusing on the code.
  • Keep it simple: You want to acclimate your customers to the technology. One way to drive them away from chatbots is by making the process too complicated. Keep it simple, and give them a reason to use it.
  • It won’t be perfect: Customer service is always tricky, and you’re never going to get it perfectly— whether it’s a human or a bot.

Takeaway

The development of new technologies has birthed more creative possibilities for brands to engage and interact with their customers. And with Facebook making the integration of these innovations to its platform as seamless as can be, marketers need to jump at the opportunities to stay ahead of the competition.

Which of these trends can you integrate into your Facebook marketing strategy? Experiment with some of these elements, and test how it works. It could lead to the spark your brand needs to stand out.

Need help with your Social Media and Digital Activities in 2018? Visit outsidemediagroup.co.uk and request a FREE consultation.

Business Tips & Advice from Outside Media Group Scotland - Web Design & Digital Strategy Dundee

With 2018 just around the corner, we look at 11 web design trends you should consider using. Balancing aesthetics with functionality is a difficult act, but get it right and you’ll set yourself up for increased user engagement and higher conversion rates. Find out how you can improve your online presence with these 11 actionable tips.

1. Making Mobile a Priority

According to Statista, “In 2016, 43.6 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 35.1 percent in the previous year.” It’s true that the importance of mobile-friendly web design has been increasing for the past several years, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Now, in the first half of 2018, Google will be rolling out its new Mobile First Index, placing more importance on the mobile version of your website by making it the first to be seen in the search results. This means that your website must have mobile-friendly design.

In 2016, 43.6 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 35.1 percent in the previous year. – Statista

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are also becoming more important. If you haven’t already heard about AMP, it’s an open-source coding standard for publishers that allows them to load their sites quickly on mobile. Traditional mobile websites can be a bit clunky, but AMP ramps up the mobile experience by stripping down code, using external resources for media files and running scripts in parallel to allow pages to load instantly.

Whether you are designing a brand-new site or retrofitting any existing site, AMP is a must for 2018. No potential customer likes a page that loads slowly, and you don’t want to push prospects to one of your (faster) competitors.

2. Irregular Grid Layouts

Grid layouts provide an easy way for designers to tie all of the elements of their web pages together, giving each page a theme and making it easier to navigate. This design theory has been around forever, but there’s been a shift in the way they’re being used.

Many content management systems, including popular platforms such WordPress, use grid design as the basis of their templates. In March 2017, CSS grid was introduced to provide designers with more options. In 2018, we’ll see a shift toward designers using more neutral space and more irregular grid layouts for an ultra-modern design style. Simple styles that include the use of whitespace (or negative space) makes content stand out so that it’s easier to read and navigate. These styles are also easier on the eyes, encouraging users to spend more time on your site.

3. Bold Fonts & Bright Colors

To complement these modern design styles, you’ll need type font that stands out. Bold font styles help users focus on your content, while the whitespace makes it easier to read and skim through. Together, they’re a perfect complement. Because people typically only spend a few seconds, up to a couple of minutes, looking at your pages, you need to catch their attention with colors and designs that stand out. The goal is to create an easy and enjoyable experience for the user to keep them on your site for as long as possible and eventually convert them into paying customers.

In 2018, we may also see these fonts and colors taking the place of images. This makes sense for mobile especially. Unlike images, which slow pages down, scaling the size of your typography won’t impact performance. It also creates cleaner lines on your page that helps your calls-to-action pop. Large buttons, hero images, and clickable images are going out of style and making way for large typographic expressions.

infographics.jpg?ixlib=php 1.1 - 11 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018

4. Increase in Micro-Interactions

Facebook and other social media networks have made micro-interactions extremely popular. Users love the ability to contribute a variety of reactions to posts and private messages, from the traditional “liking” of posts, all the way to a flurry of animated hearts you witness when you share the love in private Facebook messages. These micro-interactions allow the user to interact with others without reloading the page.

This is different to the traditional static website user experience, which requires users to reload pages to take action, such as submitting a review. Such a scenario may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it creates a speedbump for customers that will cause some of them to bounce from the page, meaning you lose out on potential conversions. Micro-interactions help level out these speed bumps and provide users with richer interactions.

Using micro-interactions on your site in 2018 will allow users to communicate real-time and increase the speed and connectivity that they have come to expect in a mobile-connected world.

5. More Advanced Scroll Triggered Animations

Scrolled animation triggers encourage users to keep scrolling down your website pages with specifically triggered interactive elements that increase engagement. Here’s one great example of scroll triggered animation from Apple. These animation triggers are nothing new, but they have begun to be used in a new way. The best scroll triggered animations are minimalist, educational and strategic, designed to increase conversions.

Scroll triggered animations can also clean up the look and feel of your website. Instead of having a collection of buttons and menus, your site will convey a true, interactive experience for your users.

6. Top Sticky Elements vs. Bottom Sticky Elements

You know your users read from left to right, but have you thought about the fact that your users are getting used to clicking at the bottom of their smartphones or mobile apps to navigate? Since mobile app design is so important to modern web design, website developers are beginning to make sticky menu items scroll from the bottom of the site, as opposed to the top of the site’s pages. Progressive web apps are somewhat responsible from this design evolution, as developers start to design for modern functionality.

7. Responsive Design

Responsive design is less of a trend than a principle, and it’s been around for a number of years. However, its importance cannot be overlooked. Responsive design is when your website is designed in a way that it resizes to look appealing across multiple screen sizes: mobile, tablets, TV, wearables or desktops.

Though the UX revolution has been happening for nearly a decade, it’s only recently been implemented on a wider scale. In 2018, we expect this design element will continue to expand to include new forms of technology such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

8. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

They may still sound like terms from a sci-fi film, but artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have hit the mainstream. In 2016, Google’s AlphaGo AI beat a skilled human Go player for the first time, a defeat that had long been sought after, and AI assistants like Siri are available on millions of devices.  So it comes as no surprise that Adobe’s Sensei promises to make AI tools easily available to web developers around the world, while TheGrid has been offering AI-based web designs since 2014. As AI and machine learning continue to advance, we’ll start to see them make their way into webdesign in other, more advanced ways.

9. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs)

Although they are not new, in 2018 you can expect this graphic format overtake more traditional file formats such as PNG, GIF and JPG. SVGs are vector images, not pixels, which gives them many advantages. They are incredibly scalable (while maintaining their quality), meaning they won’t affect page speed when animated because they don’t’ require any HTTP requests. SVGs are essential to providing quality multimedia experiences for users in 2018 (360-degree views, 3D images and Cinemographs).

10. Progressive Web Apps

Apps make up a large portion of mobile media time, and web designers are started taking notice and blending the best of web and app behaviors. This hybrid creation is referred to as a Progressive Web App. In 2018, we’ll see a trend in upgrading websites to add elements such as animated page transitions, push notifications and splash screens. Some websites like Medium, are already there, offering apps that are easily accessible with a click. Such apps will continue to evolve to meet each user’s personalized tastes.

They are useful to users from the very first visit in a browser tab, no install required. As the user progressively builds a relationship with the app over time, it becomes more and more powerful. It loads quicker, even on flaky networks, sends relevant push notifications, has an icon on the home screen, and loads as a top-level, full-screen experience.

11. Internet of Things Connectivity

Connecting web services to the Internet of Things has been a huge trend in 2017, and it will continue on this path in 2018. IoT devices can include objects as simple as a refrigerator to as complicated as a tidal turbine. These “things” use sensor arrays and server-side processing to receive and act on their environments. APIs that allow web developers to connect and communicate with these devices are currently being created, leading to even more interconnectivity of the next several years.

APIs that allow web developers to connect and communicate with these devices are currently being created, leading to even more interconnectivity of the next several years

Simple, Functional, Futuristic Design in 2018

In 2018, the focus will be on designing simple but powerful websites that are well optimized for mobile devices and heavily focused on user experience. These sites will feature new types of formats, styles and technologies. Is your brand’s website ready for what 2018 has to bring?

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