Last week Dan and I soft launched our latest SaaS product “Way We Do”. No big fan fare or speeches, although we did buy a bottle of bubbly to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work we have put into this new product. The good news is that we have a few customers already trialling Way We Do, providing positive feedback and ideas for future development.
Way We Do was an inkling of an idea when we enrolled in a Turn Key Program at the National College of Business (a school for business owners). Although the course material was great, we discovered that the tools available to help business owners to create operations manuals felt like antiquated software platforms. The software was to be installed on one PC only, it wasn’t in the cloud and was using out dated design and technology. Additionally, this software was not cheap, costing small business owners a large upfront fee which was prohibitive for many participants in the course.
Planning, Prototypes and Customer Validation
So, we set out to transform small businesses and help them to behave like big businesses with the support of a customised Operations Manual. We spent approximately 2 months planning the software and creating a prototype.
Before developing the Way We Do platform, we wanted to be sure that we had validated the concept with real business owners. We approached a number of small business owners and consultants to get their feedback and they loved the idea.
The Way We Do solution was developed to allow businesses to:
- Place their team’s work instructions into the cloud, so that they can access it from any location.
- Purchase individual pre-written procedures and policies to reduce the time involved with writing them.
- Allow procedures to be visual with the use of videos, photos and images.
- Create organisation charts so the team can understand communication lines.
Why do all of this? As we know, successful entrepreneurs and business owners who create a repeatable and scalable business model often document their businesses. They move their vision of the business from their head into a documented Operations Manual, they test the systems created and train others to implement them.
Developing the Way We Do Solution
Dan was unavailable to develop the Way We Do platform full-time and since we were self funding the project, we decided to look abroad to lower costs. Outsourcing software development is not an easy task. Our plan was to hire a development company, rather than an individual directly so the project was completely managed for us.
Spurtree Technologies in India was selected, which was a good choice, although there were a few hiccups along the way. Their account management, service and professionalism was superior to many organisations we have had contact with in Australia and New Zealand.
Dan who is a highly experienced technical lead and developer has high standards regarding code structure and web standards to ensure that a robust, scalable solution was developed. Reducing technical debt from the outset helps to create a product that can scale quickly in the future.
Despite selecting a good development team, the code was not at a level that we required so after several conversations with Spurtree, Dan decided to guide and manage a single developer directly from their company. Spurtree conducted themselves professionally and were genuinely interested in seeing the project succeed.
Design and the “Right Bros”
Writing procedure documents can often be seen as a boring, tedious task so when we designed Way We Do, we wanted it to be fun and upbeat. We wanted small business owners to realise that they could create a unique business and that implementing systems and documenting it within an Operations Manual, is the basis of a successful enterprise.
We came across Fairhead Creative, owned by Adam Fairhead in the US and loved the illustrative designs that he produces. One of our goals was to create a mascot to represent Way We Do and so
the “Right Bros” were born. Based upon real life entrepreneurs, our “Right Bros” were centred on the famous “Wright Brothers” who were inventors, pilots, manufacturers, publishers, trainers and retailers. These chaps were highly entrepreneurial!
Along with creating our beloved mascots, Fairhead Creative designed the logo for Way We Do. It reminds us of car emblems such as Bentley Motors, portraying distinction and class. My vision is to one day present gold or silver Way We Do pins to those business owners that build successful organisations using our platform and saying “now you have your wings”.
Fairhead Creative designed the marketing site incorporating these new brand elements. Although we had tested the prototype of the Way We Do application with customers, we didn’t do any testing of the marketing website design. Since the marketing site had been completed several months before the application was ready for launch, in hindsight, we should have started testing interactions and conversion rates as early as possible.
We’re currently testing the marketing site which is located at www.waywedo.com, so I aim to share the results in another blog post down the track.
The Product Development Journey
Creating any product or service is a journey of which there will be highs and lows. Resilience and perseverance are key characteristics to keep pushing through the “are we ever going to get there” moments.
One lesson that I have learnt during this particular product development round is that we should have been out selling while we were developing the product and is something that we will certainly do more of in future products.
I look forward to sharing both the successes and challenges that we experience along the way, so that others can learn from what we do well and not so well. Of course we want to minimise the latter!
Keyword Intent Pty Ltd
Many of the web developers I have met in Brisbane use their own proprietary content management systems (CMS) as the base of the websites they build. Their justification for doing so is the same across the board… no bloat ware, you only get the functionality you need, low probability of the site being hacked.
However, I have always been wary of such an approach and do not necessarily believe it is always in the best interests of the client. Whenever I mention the use of WordPress as a CMS for a website, they inevitably start sprouting out-dated excuses of why you shouldn’t. Lack of security, scalability and performance are usually the responses. Another is, WordPress is a blogging platform, not a CMS for a website.
When a platform like WordPress powers at least 16% of the world’s websites, and some very large ones at that, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
This week, Facebook announced they have created integrations with WordPress, allowing website and blog owners to publish their content to the social network with a simple click of a mouse. There is no coding required as WordPress administrators can install the Facebook plugin that allows them to publish content to their Facebook timeline or page.
The Facebook integration is another example of why I am a supporter of WordPress. Following are reasons why I believe small business owners should consider using WordPress, or another commercial or open-source source CMS, instead of using a developer’s own proprietary software.
- Most developers do not have the funding to develop their software. They use the budget of their current customer to build the latest functionality into the CMS, however older clients don’t receive this benefit (unless they pay a lot of money to do so). On the other hand, WordPress and other open source and commercial software have a roadmap for their CMS product and have the funding to implement changes so that all customers can benefit from upgrades.
- Many developers who build websites using their own software, do not allow their clients to take the software when they decide to leave. This means that business owners have to pay for the site to be built again on a new platform.
- Clients that are allowed to leave with the proprietary CMS find it difficult to find another programmer to support it. Usually the software has poor documentation and standards are not always adhered to.
- Proprietary CMS products are not known by large web platforms like Facebook and therefore miss out on any useful integrations or plugins that are released. The developer therefore has to build this functionality in at their own or client’s expense.
- Proprietary CMS and blog software often has missing functionality such as comment spam detection and management. It becomes a nightmare for the business owner and their team to manage the site going forward.
My final advice to business owners is to learn more about the CMS software that your developer uses before you engage them. Think about the consequences of not using popular CMS platforms such as WordPress or other open source or commercial software.
My recommendation to web developers is to not build your own CMS, unless you want to commercialise it. Focus upon building really good websites using a fully functional open source or commercial CMS platform that you support. It will be much more profitable and life will be easier if you do that.
As of Monday 21st November 2011 Yahoo Site Explorer has been shut down. Yahoo made their offical announcement on 18th November on their blog. This marks the loss of a vital tool to the SEO industry.
Yahoo site explorer was an incredibly valuable tool as it allowed users to perform searches and explore the link profiles of any website. This allowed users to evaluate their competitor’s incoming links and devise strategies to gain the same or similar links to boost their own rankings. Similarly SEO consultants were able to view the highest performing sites in a particular industry, analyse their incoming link portfolio and strategize with their client in methods of gaining similar links.
Since the move to Bing webmaster tools most of this functionality has been lost. Both Bing and Google Webmaster tools only provide link data about a site that has been claimed within their systems. Therefore neither provides information about a site that is not owned by the user.
Google has deliberately suppressed link information and does not condone the reporting of link data through any of their services, therefore loss of Yahoo site explorer equates to the loss of all free comprehensive link reporting tools.
Third party tools such as SEOMoz Open Site Explorer and Majestic Site Explorer are available; however, they are subscription based and their resources are not exhaustive. Blekko, is a search engine that offers link data reporting tools, although it is much smaller than search engines giants Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
As of November 22nd Google will no longer offer their Gmail app on BlackBerry smart phones. They are also removing the application from the Blackberry app world marketplace so it is no longer available to be downloaded.
For those who already have the app, it will not disappear or stop wording and users can continue to use the service as usual, there will just be no Google customer support team to assist with issues.
Google claim these changes are being implemented to provide a great Gmail experience in the smart phone browser.
BlackBerry users are currently accessing their emails is through the BlackBerry application software and the improvement lies in Google being able to deliver updates through their own platform straight to users.
As the new BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 7OS systems use webkit browsers this provides a better experience than previous models and allows Google to update their system more directly instead of relying on the BlackBerry application standards.
This comes after a three day outage last month that left millions of BlackBerry users across Europe, North and South America.
What do you think? Should Google allow users to choose between a browser or an app, or is it okay for them to make this change because they know best?
Consumers, customers and clients alike are heading to the internet more and more often for information about products and services. Gone are the days when people relied on one way communication for information about brands and companies – the internet has revolutionised the world in hundreds and thousands of ways, one of those is marketing.
As consumers head to the web, internet marketing as an industry continues to evolve to match the interest shown by users. One of the most significant shifts in the way marketing is presented is the communication channels. This shift in the industry has also accommodated a shift from one way communication such as,
- television advertisements,
- radio advertisements,
- direct mail, and
To two way communication channels such as,
- content marketing including
- video blogs,
- pod casts,
- infographics and
- social media platforms including
- Google plus,
- As well as blogs.
As internet marketing has grown there has been an overall decline in the efficiency in old forms of marketing as customers are gaining more control over the media content they consume. This has triggered a fundamental shift in the way brands and companies are communicating with their audiences. Traditional marketing tactics do not provide any extra value to the consumer as they are not developed to educate or entertain audiences – they gain consumer attention by ‘beg, bug, or buying their way in’.
Another reason traditional marketing is becoming less effective is because products and services are being pushed, most times rather intrusively, on consumers when they are not necessarily receptive or interested.
In contrast to this, internet marketing is designed to be useful, educational and/or interesting to gain the consumers attention and earn their respect and trust, hence forming a relationship from which the consumer and business both prosper.
This is one of the main reasons internet marketing has become so effective – consumers now go to the businesses for information. They are engaging with products and services when they are interested in the content – for example, a consumer looking to buy pet food will enter a search in Google and will have a list of businesses selling pet food – this consumer is likely to convert into a sale as they are specifically looking for this product.
A few statistics taken from Voliter in relation to the rise of internet and content marketing are,
- 44% of direct mail is never opened.
- 86% of people skip television ads.
- 200 Million (Americans) have registered on ‘Do Not Call’ lists
- Traditional or Outbound marketing is 62% more expensive than inbound marketing
This last point highlights one of the other major reasons there is a massive incline in inbound marketing: it’s cheaper. Not only does it cost less than traditional marketing, it provides a better return on investment.
Blogs have the best ROI and lead generation with social media and SEO being second and third respectively. Direct mail and trade shows are at the end of the list.
It is clear the way we interact with businesses is transforming on a fundamental level – but this is a positive change for both consumers and businesses alike. Consumers are able to ignore and avoid sales-y and intrusive marketing and find entertaining and educational information relevant to them when they are interested. Businesses are now able to focus on the quality of their products and services and devise ways to creatively earn attention and target their audiences more efficiently.
Voltier Digital VIA Mashable
As an SEO consultant I am frequently asked about blogging as a business venture. Whether adding a blog to a website will increase search traffic, help convert sales, or improve search engine rankings.
To answer succinctly – yes: but only if you are committed. There is nothing worse than finding a website with good design and layout, keyword rich and engaging content only to look at their blog to find their last entry was six months ago about their new website launch and nothing else.
The idea of a blog is not just to create it and be done with it – Google does not award points to websites for simply having a blog. The reason blogs are known for helping websites gain rankings is because they produce fresh and unique content.
It is SEO best practise to frequently update your website, as Google sees this as you ensuring your content is relevant and up to date with the market. A simple and easy way to do this, without having to change content around on your product pages and risk losing traffic from words currently converting, is by writing blog posts. In turn you can be rewarded with higher page authority and therefore better rankings.
Continually adding blog posts also means you are continually adding pages to your website. Each new page you add can be seen as a sales person and the more sales people you send out, the more likely you are to get a return.
When Google recognises that you have updated your website frequently they send out crawlers more often to index pages on in your website. This means there are more of your websites’ pages to be found within Google search results.
You can increase the chances of your content being found further by choosing keyword rich titles and including these keywords throughout your text. You can determine which keywords are being searched upon by your customers in Australia as well as globally by using Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This tools allows you to research keywords and determine how often people are searching for those words.
For example if you are wanting to blog about the importance of using a harness when training puppies, you could title your blog “Puppy Training”. However, while this keyword may gain thousands of searches, it is very vague. Increase your chances of being found and converting traffic (either into sales, to register for a newsletter, or simply to leave their details) by choosing titles that have a mixture of different search volumes (people that are actually looking for this phrase) and relevance to your topic – ‘Training Puppies with Harnesses’.
Another important factor to consider is where you will host your blog. It can be created on your website, as a subdomain, or on a separate website altogether. It is strongly recommended that you create your blog within your current navigation and not as a subdomain or on a separate website. This would make the url YourPageDomain.com/Blog (Puppy.com/Blog).
The url to a subdomain blog page would be Blog.YourPageDomain.com (Blog.Puppy.com) which is essentially a completely separate site. The third option is to host your blog on another site such as tumblr which would make the link YourBlogName.Tumblr.com (BrisbanePuppyTraining.Tumblr.com). Either of the second two options will signal to Google not to count the traffic from your blog in the total traffic for the rest of your website. By sending your traffic to a separate website you are diluting your traffic and therefore your authority.
To summarise, a blog can definitely help increase your search engine rankings, increase traffic to your website, and convert visitors – but you have to be committed. Updating your blog frequently is key; but it is also vital to write engaging, unique, and keyword rich content.
There are many people still asking the question “what is a webinar”? So, we thought it an important post to discuss what webinars are, how to become involved in a webinar and how webinars work.
Webinars are a flexible, interactive and cost effective tool for communication, allowing people to conference or train together over the internet. Webinars are also used to market and sell products or services.
Some of the main advantages of webinars are they have the ability to reach a larger audience, costs are reduced and participants are able to digitally record the event to enable future playback.
Where does the term Webinar come from?
For those who are interested the term “webinar” was coined last century – 1998 in fact, when Eric R Korb used the term to brand the online meeting service he created for his company. The term webinar is short for “Web-based seminar”. There have since been varying versions of the term “webinar” and among those commonly used are online workshops, online seminars, live meeting and web conferencing.
Join a Webinar
Since 1998 webinars are more commonplace, with people feeling more at ease when being invited to attend one. All you need is a computer, internet access and a phone line for listening to any teleconference portions.
For those who have not yet received an invitation to attend a webinar, a good way to become familiar with one is to invite yourself! There are a lot of free webinars to be found on the internet. Often these are promotional webinars to market and sell products and if you do your research you can find one to join on a subject matter you enjoy. Once you’ve booked your place on the webinar, set yourself up with a coffee (or tea) have some pen and paper at hand and along with some good quality earphones – join in. Typically webinars are one-way from the speaker to the audience however some may include limited audience interaction.
Hosting a Webinar
If you want to host a webinar of your own, it is important to choose a company which can accommodate both your budget and your requirements.
Webinar hosts usually offer a variety of services such as programing, producing and delivering the webinar. There are also different formats e.g.: live webinar, pre-recorded webinar or your webinar host can fully produce, present and moderate the webinar. The latter is commonly used for people with limited public speaking experience.
If webinars sound like something you would like to do and if you are interested in having a webinar hosted, Keyword Intent are more than happy to discuss the best options with you.
With systems such as PayPal and internet banking we are all used to being able to shop online without a physical credit card in hand. But imagine walking into your local convenience store, petrol station, or even department store without your wallet, or even credit card in sight and paying with your smart phone.
Through use of near field communication (NFC) technology this is exactly what Google have envisioned and created. The Google wallet.
NCF simplifies transactions and data exchanges through a wireless technology that allows information to be passed between two devices, typically a smart phone and payment terminal, in close proximity.
Google has harnessed the power of near field communication and partnered with US bank Citi to enable customers to make payments in store by tapping their smart phones against terminals. Customers are required to register their Citi credit card details with their smart phone, or opt to create a Google prepaid account and register other credit cards to top up their ‘card’. Once account details have been registered and confirmed customers are able to start shopping at PayPass affiliated stores – wallet-less.
The search engine giant has released Google wallet in the US with companies such as Coca Cola, Foot Locker, and Radio Shack to name a few, who offer support for the services. The vision for Google wallet is that it will eventually be available in all stores worldwide and will be able to store loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets and even your keys! – it will ultimately replace your entire wallet
There is, however, a down side: this technology is not yet available in Australia.
But we are not far behind. We currently use ‘tap and go’ payment terminals which allow certain credit cards to make payments under $100 without the need to swipe and verify – simply by tapping them against a terminal.
This technology has paved the way for Google wallet to be easily introduced into the Australian market. Although at this stage Google has no official time frame for introducing the product into the country.
Venturing into the vast and opportunistic world of social media generally elicits excitement from most marketing and communications experts. But have we chosen the most efficient platform? And are we really making the most from our social media efforts?
Facebook is a great way to take advantage of social media for both personal and business purposes. It is one of the largest social media applications and has a vast reach with over 800 million active users, 50 % of which log on to their accounts on a daily basis. 350 million of these users do not just access Facebook from their PC’s – they log in via their mobile phones.
So Facebook has an excellent user base with good reach but which is type of account is best for you? Facebook groups? Pages? Profiles? Or business accounts?
It actually entirely depends on your purpose, requirement, and intentions for social media as they each have different functions. However, Facebook themselves have branded profiles as purely for personal use. If you are an individual looking to connect with friends, keep up with events, and engage with brands and interests then you need a Facebook profile.
Business accounts are as their name suggests – an account for individuals representing a business or celebrity (authors, models, actors and etc) used to manage Facebook groups and pages. As their main purpose is actually simply to manage other accounts they do not have the same functionality as a personal profile, group or page.
As for creating a social media presence for a business or person, you have two options – Facebook page or Facebook group. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each,
Only Facebook pages (and personal profiles) can apply to have a username URL. This is a short link that redirects to your Facebook page. The purpose of username URLs is for promotion so a person or business can say ‘Find me at Facebook dot com slash company or person name’. Facebook groups do not have this ability.
Facebook groups have excellent messaging capabilities – this is one of the most beneficial aspects of groups. Groups are able to send out mass emails direct to their members’ inboxes; however this is capped at 5 000 friends. Pages allow you to send messages to unlimited followers, but only page notifications, not inbox messages. Messages sent direct to inboxes are proven to be more effective in engaging conversation, but this feature becomes less useful if you are targeting an audience larger than 5 000 friends.
Facebook pages have ‘insights’ which is data collated by Facebook allowing you to analyse your social media use and determine your traction and engagement levels with your audience. They also allow you to see which form of media is being consumed most frequently – audio, posts, video, as well as many other features. This allows businesses to report on social media use, effectiveness and ROI to an extent. The group feature does not have insights.
Facebook pages are able to deliver promotional devices such as the ‘Find us on Facebook’ friends or a likes counter. This is basically an image displaying profile pictures of current likes that links to Facebook, allowing people to easily ‘like’ your page. This feature is also not available for Facebook groups.
Facebook groups have the ability to restrict access to certain individuals although it also depends on the type of group – there are three: open, closed, and secret. Open groups and Facebook pages work similarly – anyone can join and are automatically accepted. Any Facebook user can request to join a closed group; however, they must be approved by an administrator before being added. Secret groups cannot be found in searches, and the only way to join is to be invited.
Facebook Location Targeting
Location Targeted Posts
Facebook pages offer the ability to target the location of your post to a language, country, state or province, and even city. Allowing you to send specifically targeted messages based on language and location. This is an incredibly valuable tool for marketers, as they can create social media campaigns that use one page to focus on several locations and languages, while still sending specific information to each segment.
Both Facebook pages and groups are indexed by Google and generally receive good rankings. Although for SEO best practise Facebook pages allow for more opportunity to optimise their content.
For example including keyword rich text in the ‘About Us’ box is beneficial as it is high up in the html code and is one of the first and only places accessible to search engines.
Also Facebook usernames (which are available to pages, but not groups) allow you to enter keyword rich URLs which Google ranks as quite important.
Facebook Default Tab
You are also able to change your default tab with Facebook pages, but not groups. It is recommended that a keyword rich page such as your wall or info page is chosen above a welcome page.
One SEO practise available for both pages and groups is creating a relevant link neighbourhood. If you are a pet store, linking out to dog groomers, vets, and dog obedience pages creates a good link network. You should also attempt to receive links back to your Facebook page as this is a very effective way to gain rankings.
Overall your objectives and goals for social media will drive your decision in choosing which method to display your communications. However if you are an individual looking at keeping a circle of friends, hosting and attending events, and engaging with groups of interest and brands a Facebook profile is the most suitable option.
Facebook groups are an excellent way for people to congregate and discuss issues pertaining to a particular topic or issue. They are also an excellent means of creating and organising small to medium events.
As for a business or company that wishes to have a social media presence to connect and communication with their customers a Facebook page will allow you more flexibility in discussion, distribution, analytics, optimisation, and promotion.
Using social media tactics and strategies to engage your audience on a platform that is user focused rather than company focused is fast becoming common practise. But how well are you measuring your social media performance? How far is your content being spread? And how much traffic is twitter actually sending to your website?
Christopher Golda, a Canadian technology entrepreneur recently has said that most people struggle to accurately capture twitter analytics. Golda is the creator of BackType, a social media analytics platform that allows companies to analyse their social impact as well as social media’s impact on their business.
It was the acquisition of BackType by Twitter that gave birth to Twitter Web Analytics. Launched just two weeks ago, it is said to be able to,
- Track how much of your websites content is being shared
- Analyse the effectiveness of your twitter button integration
- Measure the amount of traffic twitter sends to your website
Currently this new technology is available to only a small pilot group, but it said to be made available to website owners worldwide in the next few weeks.
Is it worth trialling? Most definitely.
Measurability is key to success in a market that is already difficult to analyse due to the fast pace of the industry and many want to know how social media is directly affecting their bottom line. The ability to accurately report on the effectiveness of social media campaigns, the use of social media as a support for direct marketing, the ROI of outsourcing to social media consultants will be a well sort after tool.
The question is how effective will Twitter Web Analytics be?
Article Source https://dev.twitter.com/blog/introducing-twitter-web-analytics