How video will transform your business in 2018

Video marketing has picked up pace over the last couple of years – but there are still lots of people waiting to make the jump to this ‘next generation’ of marketing.

“People like pictures, people like emails!” – sure, but all that will pale into insignificance when you begin to see how people will respond when you start shooting great video content.

It’s not just for hardcore marketers either, web design companies based in Glasgow such as Think Zap are also now using engaging video content as a way to reach their audience across multiple channels. 

The power of Google

Google loves video – and that love is only likely to increase into 2018.

Google’s algorithms are exceptionally complex and very well guarded – but what we do know is this: Google recognises the power and informative nature of video. This means that if your website has embedded video, you’re likely to be favoured from a Google site ranking point of view.

In bare basic terms; showing up closer to the top result for your chosen search term.

This is especially true as Google increasingly returns results for searches from across a variety of mediums. Notice how you’re getting image and video results returned now rather than just site listings? You’ll only get listed if you’ve got the video to show.

Google also acknowledges the amount of time a person spends on your page when deciding how relevant you are in relation to the search it’s suggested you for. The more time spent – the more relevant you must be – the more relevant you are, the more confidence Google places in your page.

What’s more (as if you needed more persuasion…) – there aren’t many people jumping on this opportunity yet. Start talking to your marketing and search engine optimisation people about this early and you’re going to have one-up on your competitors soon after…

Video creates trust

Without trust your marketing and sales will go nowhere.

Whether that’s the kind of short-term trust that says “I just need to know my order will be fulfilled” – or the kind of long-term trust that wins big money contracts and clients, trust is absolutely key if you’re going to grow your business.

The great news is, video builds trust faster and more effectively than any other digital medium.

The reason really comes down to people – and our ability to read their intentions. It can be difficult to gauge a person’s tone when we’re just reading email. As is often quoted, only 7% of a person’s intended communication is done through the words we use, with the 93% remaining being conveyed through tone and body language.

It’s not until we’ve got close to 100% communication that we can accurately decide on whether or not we trust this person – now you just need to make sure your salespeople are operating with the right intention!

Brand recognition and awareness

In 2016 a major international airline ran some insightful tests on their customers.

Rather than having a real people present their in-flight emergency procedures – they played video to the passengers instead. When subsequently asked to recall those procedures, the airline saw an 80% increase in recollection – versus traditional attendant speech and arm-signalling.

Now, we’re not suggesting you replace your people with video – we already know that there’s no substitute for human interaction when it comes to supporting a purchase, but, this example does show a major hike in a customer’s ability to recall information when it’s been presented in a format they want to consume.

So, if you want people to recall you, your product, your brand or your latest campaign – then showing them video seems to be the primary route you’ll want to explore…

Video increases your conversions

Trust, awareness and Google.

We’ve just covered this online marketing holy-trinity in our first 3 points – so now’s the time to tell you what that adds up to:

Money.

Quite simple really. Those things add up to cash on the bottom line because each one has an impact on your conversion rates. Combine them and you’re rocketing skyward.

More people coming to your site from Google? Better conversions, more money. Customers who know you provide what you say you’re going to provide? Better trust, more conversions – more money. An increased awareness of your brand that trumps your competitors? More customers, increased conversions – more money.

Make your team’s life easy

An increasing number of companies are moving to video as one of their primary means of communication – and moving in the same direction could save your team time and headaches during 2018.

How many times have you sat in front of your computer and written email, then re-written the same email – taking time to make sure you’re getting the right tone and that your message comes across in exactly the right way.

Do you chuck an emoji in to let them know you’re being light-hearted? Surely that would look unprofessional… or would it? Do they know you well enough to be sure they’d understand your intention? How do you sign-off without looking too formal?

All these questions – and more – go straight out the window when you’re shooting quick and concise video. Oh – and your HR team will love you for it too – no more misconstrued emails causing problems between departments!

Video is perfect for mobile users

Consuming media on our mobile phones isn’t (despite what you might read elsewhere) making us more tolerant of screens full of text and image – it’s just causing us to adapt the way we consume.

And by that, I mean skimming. We now skim read virtually everything – before going back should we get the sense that the article we’re reading is going to answer the questions we have.

Video slows this process down. It’s stimulating enough for us to be engrossed and not just dragging the progress bar forward – which means we take in MUCH more than we would if we were reading the same information.

More and more people are accessing the net on their small screen phones. Not ideal for reading – but absolutely perfect for watching video. If you want your product and people in front of consumers, you’re going to need to give them the information in the format they want…

These cool gadgets are a must for home workers

We love gadgets, and we love gadgets that help out when it comes to life even more. One of the areas that gadgets can really be beneficial is for home workers. People who work from home face a particular set of challenges that can take a toll on their productivity, motivation and even their mood. But what they might not realise is that there have been companies out there who are dedicated to making sure that things are a little bit easier.

This is why there has been a number of gadgets developed that are designed with one thing in mind, helping remote workers.

Here are some of the coolest and most popular gadgets out there.

Think Board

Do you need to jot down notes during a meeting, or perhaps you have clients, customers or even colleagues in your home office from time to time? A Think Board is a great alternative to a standard white board, working much the same it offers you a place to write and draw, but it is fully portable, which means that you can move it around and stick it anywhere that you need it. Best of all, it doesn’t leave the surface sticky either!

Remote wireless video monitor mbp36s

If you are a parent who is working from home, then one of the coolest gadgets that you can own is one that lets you get on with your work, whilst still being able to watch your little one. If they are having a nap and you need to be in another room, then the Remote wireless video monitor mbp36s will allow you to watch them through a video link, making sure that all is okay with them.

Wottle

We all hate when we finally get to enjoy that hot drink only to find that it is less than hot anymore. The Wottle is your answer. Not only is it a pretty cool water bottle in its own right, but it is also a power bank and a hand warmer too. It keeps your drinks warm for hours and is ideal for when you need to shut yourself away and really focus on your work, but also really need a coffee whilst you do it.

Amazon Echo

Are you the type of person who finds themselves distracted by surfing the web to find the news or weather? Or do you waste time trying to find a playlist on your phone? If this is true for you then your home office space could definitely benefit from an Echo? Fully voice activated, you will be more than surprised by what your Echo can do. Whether it is tell you what the traffic is like or play your favourite songs, it is ideal for those that can’t tear themselves away from their computer.

Wireless Charging Mat

Find that your tablet or phone keeps running out of battery, need it next to you but don’t like having cables all over your desk? Why not invest in a wireless charging mat, not only do they charge up your device, but they stop you having to deal with cables everywhere, they look pretty cool too!

A portable scanner

Do you need to scan in receipts or any other loose documents to keep track of business costs? If you do, then you could really benefit from a portable scanner. It takes any document and allows you to run down the page, scanning it, before transferring it into a digital copy. This is ideal for those people who need to keep receipts or signed documentation but haven’t the space for a hardcopy.

A doorbell camera

Knowing who is at the door can be a big help when you are working from home, particularly if you are waiting for a delivery or a client to visit and don’t want to miss them thinking it is a cold caller. Having a doorbell camera means that you can see who is there and most of these gadgets are compatible with your tablet or smartphone.

An air purifier

Being holed up in an office for the most part of the day, breathing in the same air, isn’t good for us. If you are not able to open a window, perhaps due to allergies, noise or it being really cold, then it might be worthwhile investing in an air purifier, this will take the air in the room and give it a good old clean, meaning that you will be able to breathe fresh air and keep yourself feeling 100%.

The Upright Smart Posture Trainer

One of the biggest problems for anyone who works at a computer has to be their posture. This means that a gadget which is designed to help your posture is going to be a big hit. This tiny, yet mighty little tool is stuck to your back and it will teach you to try and sit up straighter during the day. Over time it will become second nature and your back will really thank you for making this change.

An under desk work out

We all know that we should be as active as we can to stay healthy, but when you are busy working from home this can be tricky. Rather than worry that you are missing out on vital steps, you can install an under desk work out machine such as Cubii. These are designed to help you to move your legs whilst you are sat down, giving your muscles a workout and keeping you active without having to leave your desk at all!

These gadgets are not only super cool, but they are incredibly useful for your home office space too. So, whether you work from a desk in your dining room or you have a dedicated room all to yourself, why not see if a gadget can help make working from home that little bit easier for you?

Why your website’s user experience is the key to success

‘User experience’ or ‘UX’ for short is a definite 2017 buzz phrase – but not as many people know about the solid metrics backing up that buzz:

200%

…that’s the increase a late-2016 study by Forrester Research says is possible for your website’s conversion rates if you’re operating with a well-designed user interface. Spending some time and resources to make sure you’re at the cutting-edge of UX? Then that figure becomes 400%.

Metrics like that just can’t be ignored – but what’s involved in UX when you cut through the hype? And how does a positive user experience so dramatically increase your site’s conversions?

What is UX?

Put simply, UX is the way a person feels when they’re interacting with a website or application. Generally speaking, this feeling is based on a number factors:

  • Usability: How user friendly is your site design? Do you make it easy for users to navigate and take value from you site?
  • Ergonomics: Does your site effectively respond to the needs of your users – do your users feel comfortable while browsing?
  • Accessibility: Can people with additional physical, intellectual and environmental needs access your content?
  • Performance: Does your site act in the way it’s supposed to as quickly as the user wants it to?
  • Marketing: Does you site do what’s expected from it based on the perception your marketing creates?
  • Utility: How useful and accessible are the secondary functions of the site, how easily can a user sign-in, subscribe, contact, print pages, share content and so forth.
  • Design: Does the site convey the previously mentioned attributes in its design? Do people feel they’ll have an easy and productive time based on how your site looks?

These factors matter because customers will bounce off your site quicker than you can imagine if they don’t feel like their time there will yield the result they desire.

Who does it matter to?

Well, based on that 200%+ metric, UX is going to matter to anyone who’s looking to convert the traffic that’s hitting their page. That said, your business and unique position will decide what you’d like those conversions to be:

  • Startups and new businesses

User experience is the digital equivalent of a potential client walking into your new offices. Based on what they see, are they going to feel confident doing business with you? Would they be happy about referring you to colleagues and associates? Does your site convey the business tone and ethos you’re hoping?

  • Working with limited resources?

If you’ve got a limited marketing budget (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then eking out those extra conversion percentages from what you’re currently spending is the key to driving your business forward. Improving your UX is the ultimate in working smart – you don’t need to throw extra time and money at upping results.

  • E-commerce?

When a customer spends money with you, your website has to answer a number of questions – even if your customer doesn’t consciously realise they’re seeking the answers! Smart UX reassures and offers comfort – two of the biggest factors that will encourage customers to reach for their credit cards. Familiar and pleasing UX means your products are well organised and lets people know they’re shopping safely.

Hosting

Where you host your website can also have a significant impact on your websites overall UX, the last think you or your customers want is a slow loading website. When selecting a hosting providers its important that you do your research. You can find the top reviews here. This is also one of the best hosting resource pages that we have found so also be sure to check this out.

How can you account for UX when you’re designing your site?

Designers and web developers can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking too much about what they want from a site – or perhaps have a misguided sense that creating a solid and impressive brand is more important than driving the right kind of conversions.

If you’re thinking about what looks good in a portfolio then sure – but if you want proven results, you’re better following these design and development points

  1. Who’s your audience?

Empathy is important when you’re thinking about the user experience. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and anticipate what they want based on studies of the demographic or persona you’re expecting to form your traffic.

  1. What are you working with?

Not everyone’s starting from scratch when it comes to designing a site and factoring in UX. Drilling down into current customer behaviour will give you a good idea of drop-off points and areas that need the most pressing work.

  1. What suits your need?

With a number of tried and tested interface designs available – can you pick something off the shelf and make it work for your needs? Or do you need to start with a blank canvas?

  1. What do customers say?

There’s no one better to assess the proposed experience than the customers who’ll be using it. Whether you’re talking to existing customers or people from your potential demographics, there are dozens of analysis tools that’ll give you insight into how the behave when they encounter your site.

  1. Prototyping

Creating wireframe representations of your site gives you a chance to visually assess how elements will fit together and branding can be applied. This stage should also include flow-diagrams that chart a customer’s intended journey through the site.

  1. Work from a pattern

There are pre-existing design patterns and standards that solve common customer behaviour problems. Even if you’re going slightly off-piste with your site, referencing commonly used patterns is a useful starting point whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran.

  1. Consistency

It’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to be working without any brand guidelines – making sure they’re applied consistently and predictably throughout your site gives designers and programmers something solid to create a positive UX around.

UX in 2017 and beyond

Website and service users are increasingly accessing sites and applications over 2 or more different devices – but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – no matter what device that person picks up, they’re expecting to see a similar, if not exactly the same, level of comfort and familiarity from your site.

This means the process that goes into creating an exceptional user experience is going to need applying for different screen sizes, control interfaces, accessibility options and much more.

No one said creating the highest quality user experience was going to be easy – but if you can find another route to bolstering your conversions by 200% plus then we’d love to hear about it…

Using WordPress Caching to boost your WordPress site speed

Using WordPress Caching to boost your WordPress site speed

There are some startling statistics around website loading times and customer behaviour. Did you know that a huge number of people expect a site to fully load within 2 seconds? And that around 4 out of 10 people will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? As such, WordPress speed optimization is important – and one of the quickest routes to speed is WordPress Caching.

What is WordPress Caching?

Imagine you’re a visitor to your webpage, you click on the link or enter the address for the first ever time and you’re on your way. What’s actually happening here is the browser sends a very small and fast request for information from the server that hosts your site. The server looks at the request and responds by sending the information it’s been asked for back the browser – who in turn displays it as intended.

Now, that information could be quite chunky, meaning the time it takes to be transmitted over ethernet cables and to-and-from a satellite might be fairly slow – and by fairly slow we’re only realistically talking about 7 seconds – but don’t forget, the impatient world of internet traffic means people are tapping their watch if they’ve got to wait more than 3 seconds…

So, this is where WordPress caching comes in. There’s essentially two different kinds – client-side caching and server-side caching. We’ll have a look at how each works in some detail:

Client-side caching

If you’ve ever looked at your internet settings, whether on your computer or your phone, you’ll notice there’s a ‘cache’ that can be cleaned. This cache is a bundle of files that have been put there by various websites.

This is because there’s a lot of information that doesn’t change from one website visit to the next. So, visit the BBC news today and when you go back tomorrow morning it’s almost certain that the menus, logos and images that relate to most stories will be exactly the same as they were during your last visit. The site accounts for you being back again and stores a lot of those files in your cache, meaning the page you visit while you drink your morning coffee loads a lot quicker…

Virtually every website does this – and every major browser supports it.

Server-side caching

Now, given you have little or no influence over end-user browsing behaviour, server-side caching is how WordPress caching protocols work. They can be broken into 4 different categories:

  • Page caching
  • Database query caching
  • Object-based caching
  • Opcode caching

Page Caching

Remember we talked about your website visit actually being a request for information from the hosting server? Well, ordinarily the server would view this with no context, meaning as far as it’s concerned the request is simply for a variety of seemingly unrelated information – with the browser making sense of it when it arrives on your computer or phone.

Page caching means your server remembers the requests it’s receiving – which makes sense given that you’re requesting a page at a time, so, any one request is saved in the server’s hard disk or memory. If the same request is made again, rather than collecting all the files and information again, it has a pre-packaged ‘page’ response ready to fire back – without the need for execution of complex database code.

Database caching

WordPress sites rely on a massive behind-the-scenes database that stores, updates, orders and handles data in the most efficient manner possible. To make sure information is current the site will interrogate the database periodically. If that data remains the same, rather than continually run the same interrogations again and again (which is effectively the same as re-downloading the information each time) it will save the result of the interrogation in the local storage. This is database caching.

It’s important to have an intelligent tool that manages database caching – this is because the information can change a great deal. The cached information becomes outdated every time you post to your blog, update a gallery or even when a user interacts with some of your site content – perhaps leaving a review or comment. Without a program checking against this database caching can mean irrelevant or incorrect results are returned from the database and displayed on your site.

Object caching

If you’ve got a site that’s updated frequently it can detrimental to speed to have database caching constantly reconfiguring. Instead, object caching works on user defined elements of the site – for example videos, images or other collections of data that can be defined by a particular name. Even a reasonably popular site with a fair amount of traffic is unlikely to require object caching – as such, it’s a topic to seek professional support with when your traffic numbers are going through the roof…

Opcode caching

Okay, back to the accessing a website example. Your request for a webpage is sent, between the hosting server receiving this request and actually returning the information there’s a communication – this is done in a language called PHP. PHP can do a lot of different things, it communicates with databases, serves web content to a browser, receives and sends cookies – and much more.

Although the actual process of PHP execution is a little more complex than we’re giving it credit for here, opcode caching effectively caches the PHP communication, rather than the information itself. Meaning the requests can be re-accessed time and time again.

Caching plugins working alongside other plugins

Now, if you want a headache, getting plugins to work alongside caching plugins is the perfect topic for you! Most server-side caching is done based on updates coming from standard sources – i.e. user data or visitor data. When you have a plugin that say shows your latest Twitter or Instagram post on your page, data is coming from another (and not always compatible) source. Planning on running lots of plugins and a caching plugin? Be prepared for things to need technical tweaking before it runs smoothly!

Overview of WordPress Caching

Caching in its various forms can offer big speed boosts for your site’s visitors. This is vital if you want to ensure you’re getting the absolute most from what can sometimes be extremely impatient users. There are some great plugins out there, look at Hummingbird, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, WP Fastest Cache and WP Rocket for some great features, ease of configuration and use.