Friday
Jun102011

Call it Mommy Brain...

Some people may think that there's not a place in professional lives for personal details.  Sure, sometimes that's true.  But what happens when you're existing in a space where there's no way to separate the two?

Last summer, I discovered I would be bringing on a new team member to join our Fresh Look Creative team in 2011.  His first day was March 1, 2011, and can I say he's just the cutest little CEO??

I gave myself permission to take a week off when he arrived, and committed myself to being back to work (working from home- I'm not THAT ambitious) the following week. 

I'm not sure if I was delirious when I set this lofty goal, but I certainly wasn't thinking clearly.  The first week Mr. CEO was home, I cried a good portion of the time, unable to figure out how I was ever going to work and devote the amount of time to him that he required.  As I saw it, I was failing on all fronts.

And in reality, I was failing, because I didn't give myself permission to give Mr. CEO the time he needed.  And I didn't make the arrangements on a business front to have a GOOD amount of time off.  So Mr. CEO suffered, and so did my business.

It wasn't until well into Mr. CEO's 2nd month that I finally felt normal enough to take a breath and start working again.  (This aligned well with Mr. CEO's agreeing to sleep through the night.) 

Yesterday, I tweeted for the first time in a long time, and today I make my first blog post.  I could apologize for the extended hiatus, but instead I think I'll just blame Mommy Brain, because that's what it was.  We mother entrepreneurs can aim to do it all, and in fact must realize that there's a rhythm to every part of life.  Just because we can't find time to tweet between breast-feeding doesn't mean we'll never tweet again!  And just because we let Mr. CEO test out his lungs as we finish blogging doesn't mean we're bad mommies. 

Welcome back to the Fresh Look Creative blog.  I hope your work is as ever-evolving as mine is, because we're better business people for it.

Friday
Aug062010

Tricky Advertising and Marketing

*Do not misconstrue any of the following as legal advice.  Always consult with a licensed attorney when you have specific questions regarding statements made in your business advertising.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, and non-profit public interest group, has brought a lawsuit against Coca-Cola, claiming that the company's vitaminwater products make unwarranted health claims.  (Read about the details here.)

The really interesting part is that Coca-Cola's defense is this: "no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage."  Uh, really, Coca-Cola?  I don't know if it's the word "vitamin" or the word "water" that is more misleading, but nevertheless, there you have it.  Coca-Cola doesn't even try to deny the claims that the beverage is unhealthy (in truth, the drink has 33 grams of sugar in it.)

So the question becomes: where you should you, a small business owner, draw the line in your marketing?

While you may never be as large as Coca-Cola, small business owners get themselves in hot water every day by making false or misleading claims in their advertising.  There can be some stiff consequences, not the least of which is some possible nasty publicity. 

Often forgotten is something as simple as coupons, commonly used by businesses large and small.  If you take a look at a large corporation coupons, you'll notice something common among every one of them -- fine print.  That's the lawyers keeping the corporations out of a hot mess.  So why wouldn't you, a small business owner, take the same precautions?  No, it's not silly.  The reason that you see statements such as "Cannot be used in combination with any other offer" and "One per customer" and "Expires XX/ XX/ XXXX" and "Only applies to basic service, not super-duper deluxe service" is because someone has tried to pull any and all of these shenanigans before.  The basic rule is that if a restriction is not stated clearly and simply on your coupon, then you will need to comply with any customer requests in regards to the coupon.

The same goes with your advertising.  If you are offering a special promotion, you can very simply state on all print advertising "Rules and restrictions can be found on our website at www.ourwebsite.com."  Then, add a page to your site with borderplate regulations, with specifications made to fit your promotion.  It's an extra step that you should take, because as soon as you don't, you'll get burned.

The thing is, people don't like to be tricked.  As soon as you appear deceitful, people will get ticked.  In Coca-Cola's situation, understandably, some people believed that they were being healthy by partaking in vitaminwater.  (It's not a huge stretch, based on the product name, even though I personally think people need to read labels!)

Be as honest as you can when it comes to your marketing.  This can be difficult because, after all, most advertising could be labeled as "slick" and "tricky".  But at the end of the day, if you're honest with your clients and customers, they'll thank you for it, and you'll be more likely to earn their repeat business.

Friday
Jun252010

Google vs. Bing and Yahoo

I have a confession.  I'm a Google addict.  There's really no cure- I Google just about everything.  Seems everyone else is afflicted as well, so I haven't really considered this a problem.  Until yesterday.

Let's back up- with the emergence of Bing, we digital marketers had another search engine to worry about.  To tell the truth, I've watched my analytics and really not seen any action on the Bing front.  So when clients and I would discuss different search engines, I didn't fight their mindset that as long as we optimized a site for Google, we'd be fine.

But we've known that Yahoo and Bing will be merging at some point, and upon viewing this video, which details why we need to start thinking about Bing searches, I decided to take a deeper look.  I've pulled statistics for one of my client's sites to show you what I found.

  Visits Pages/ Visit Avg. Time on Site Bounce Rate Overall % of traffic
Google 5,728 3.07 3:24 42.98% 55.69%
Yahoo! 273 2.85 3:33 58.24% 2.65%
Bing 302 3.7 4:16 31.46% 2.94%

 

This is a glimpse at our client's traffic directly from search engines for the month of June.  You'll see that Google definitely drives the significant traffic. 

However, take a look at the Pages/ Visit column for Bing.  You'll see that more of the site's pages on average are viewed by Bing visitors.  Additionally, look at the Avg. Time on Site for Bing.  Visitors directed to this site from Bing are spending more time on the site.  Does this mean that Bing is catering to more serious shoppers?  Better researchers?  All I know is that I want visitors to spend as much time as possible on my client's site- they're more likely to make a purchasing decision that way! 

One other interesting statistic- look at the Bing Bounce Rate.  It is significantly less than both the Google and Yahoo bounce rate.

I'll show you one other example from a different website.

  Visits Pages/ Visit Avg. Time on Site Overall % of traffic
Google 3,111 2.07 1:21 25.32%
Yahoo! 268 2.38 1:17 1.86%
Bing 2,828 2.32 1:01 19.66%

 

This one shocked me a bit.  These are search engine statistics from the last year (June 26, 2009-June 25, 2010).  Look at the Visits number!  The Bing visits for this site almost match those of Google!!  While the other statistics aren't quite as significant, all of the other sites that I examined had only 3.65-4.2% of their overall web traffic from the last year coming from Bing, and this site is rocking it at 19.66%!! 

While research is still emerging about Bing SEO, I'm certainly convinced that it's no longer appropriate to brush Bing aside.  Let me know if you have questions about how you can dive into your analytics to discover what Bing's doing with your site.

Friday
Jun042010

If Your Site Has Flash...

We've designed a few websites here and there, and they range from the simple and informative to sites with flash and video.  We try our best to make sure that the sites we design are specifically purposed for our clients, so they aren't paying for features they don't need and their site visitors won't use.  We also try to steer our clients clear of site elements that may be a detriment to their optimization or simply an annoyance for users (hello, splash pages!! If you've still got a splash page on your site, get rid of it.  Like, now...)

There's been an ongoing debate in the development world for the last 3-4 weeks revolving around Apple technology and Adobe software.  You can read a few articles about the issues here, and also see the letter that Apple CEO Steve Jobs penned in April regarding Adobe software.

Here's the long and short of it:  Flash, an Adobe product, doesn't function on iPhones, iPods and iPads.  Rather, it might function fine, but Apple doesn't allow Flash on these products. 

So, if you have a website, you need to be aware that when your website is accessed with an iPhone, iPod or iPad, any Flash elements will not be visible to these users.  This means that you have a decision to make. 

  • You could remove all Flash elements so that your site is functional for all users (but this is undesireable to a lot of site owners since most paid a pretty penny for the Flash functionality.)
  • You could do nothing.  If Flash is just an aesthetic part of your site and doesn't affect functionality, a user accessing your site with an iPod, iPad or iPhone won't really notice that the Flash is 'missing'. 
  • If you're running a huge site, some organizations have opted to create alternate pages that appear when an iPod, iPad or iPhone operating system is detected.
  • Or, as Steve Jobs suggests, you could utilize HTML5, CSS and JavaScript for your site programming.  Jobs says:

HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash).

If your site functionality relys heavily on Flash, now is the time to start thinking about a game plan.  If you have Google Analytics installed on your site, you can actually dig down and determine how much of your site traffic is accessing your site via iPad, iPod or iPhone.  For assistance in finding this information within your analytics reports, shoot us an email or give us a call.

Thursday
May132010

Facebook Facts You Didn't Know

Facebook: What You Probably Didn't Know
[Source: Online PhD Programs for MashableMashableMashable.com]