Bournemouth Pier

Is your online marketing ready?

Every year marketers begin to ponder the future of web design and what are the latest features that will prosper. Every year we get excited about the potential.

What is in store for technological trends this year?

New capabilities and technologies are created every year, however it takes a while to measure the effectiveness of these new technologies. This is because they tend to be incorporated into sites as they are renewed or updated.If it were an incremental update in existing websites maybe the process would be quicker. 2015 was said to be the year of Responsive Design, and that certainly has been our experience at Cracking Media as well as all of our sites since 2014 have been built to be responsive.

What has been the effect of moving to responsive?

Though we build bespoke websites to the requirements of our customers, there has been a move to template websites with responsive capabilities. Because of this, many websites often have the same look and feel to them.

Was 2015 the year for Video?

Video of course has become much more common in our every day lives. Youtube’s role on the Internet has changed. People now use it as a search engine to find information they are looking for. Examples include ‘how to’ videos, product demonstrations as well as entertainment and music. In 2015, social media has also brought in ‘auto-play’ for Facebook, and Periscope for Twitter allowing for a worldwide audience. These trends look to be on track to continue.

#shoutout to 2015 trends… #throwback #tb #vine #instavid #periscope #youtube

What about the trends for 2016?

With all of that in mind, there doesn’t seem to be any talk of a particular trend to be expected in the year 2016. Here are some of the things we have heard and think about possibilities for web design.

Simple, fast designs VS Responsive, Original Websites

Users are continuing to navigate through content very fast. Designs are therefore probably likely to stay minimal or as simple as possible. If your design is very complex or it takes too long to load, the user may not wait long enough for the content.

Responsive design is here to stay, and will continue to be tweaked and improved. Responsive design seems quite a popular idea for differentiation and making your website original. It is vital that you find that balance between innovation and making sure that the website is fully functional, convenient for the user and has fast navigation.

Things like animation or GIFs are being talked about as new styling techniques for web design in the near future. In terms of design, this provides a lot of opportunity for web designers to experiment or create original content for websites. Using animation and GIFs should be done in moderation as they are elements that will take a long time to load on a website. Ultimately if there are a lot of animation on the website too, your customers may not wait around to even see the amazing content you have worked so hard to design.

Flat Design or 3D?

Generally web design much like fashion, will go back and forth with trends. We are currently in a period where designers choose flat designs with priority being given to quick navigation and a clean look. So the usual debate of whether we are about to see a change again is happening now. With brands such as Google changing their branding to a simpler, flat design it is very much a possibility that we haven’t quite finished with flat designs just yet. Perhaps flat design will be something that continues for a couple of years but evolves in other ways so that the website speed is not compromised by making more complex designs.

Is how much we use mobile devices inspiring desktop layouts?

We think so… Have you noticed on any websites that when you go to the menu, the menu button is the typical symbol with 3 lines that lead to a drop down? Well that button was originally designed just for the mobile layout of people’s websites. Now, this button is used again to create a clean, simple appearance to the website, but it’s a universally understood icon and if you are a web designer, it makes for an ever so simpler html code! (every little helps..)

Think about when you are visiting websites online, or using social media? Our behavior and expectations from those experiences usually involve an awful lot of scrolling. But when we are on a desktop, we expect to see a menu and navigate through the website easily by choosing exactly where you want to go. It has been questioned whether on desktop layouts; we will begin to see long scrolling designs, where all of the content is on one page. This does mean that depending on the type of content that you will include and the quantity of it, it could take a while to load your site. Short navigation involves lots of pages and articles on separate pages which is possibly clearer but may put a lot of obstacles in front of the user when they are making decisions about what content they are looking at.

A side note…

To give you some perspective, Augmented Reality has been a trend that has been talked about for years. Even now this is something that is being worked on and discussed. We’ve seen snippets of it occasionally like in the VR Rollercoaster App (on Android), Zombie Shooter VR game or even the Tuscany Drive Virtual Reality holiday retreat for you to escape to. But it’s unlikely that we will be using a more developed version of this technology this year. In fact, who knows if the technology will even reach its peak in the next 10 years? Time will tell…

Our thoughts

The speed at which trends are taken up is always controlled by 2 factors. The first is marketing and business seeing an application for the technology. The second is user acceptance and whether they feel it has a place in their lives.

What to consider when marketing to mobiles

What to consider when marketing to mobiles

More users are viewing online campaigns with their mobiles than ever before, and that trend appears to be accelerating. Marketing to mobiles tends to produce a response that is different to those of traditional methods.

The vast majority of mobile users have their phone within arms reach at all times, this makes your communication with them a very personal one. Some can see it as an invasion in to their life whilst others feel a more personal connection is being made, and as such these people consider the message to be more trustworthy.

User experience is key

Even with new technologies, once the excitement of what can be done has subsided, only the apps, websites and messages that offer the best user experience tend to receive any continued attention. It’s no surprise that a huge amount of money and effort is invested by online businesses into their interface and how it works on a mobile.

Just look at Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linked In have all put a great amount of effort into making the mobile experience as simple as possible. They still offer the majority of the desktop functionality with only a couple of taps of the screen.

This easy user experience has made Social Media instant, without this investment in user experience Social Media would have remained something that we could only enjoy at lunchtime or when we had time after work, on a computer, probably a shared computer.

How to help ensure user interaction

Building a branded mobile experience is very important if you want user interaction on mobile devices. Just because you have a website that is mobile-friendly or even a mobile app doesn’t ensure user interaction. It’s very important that you provide an easy path to the interactions that matter to you, this can take the form of multiple choice options with the preferred answer appearing as the easy option or even the safest.

Users tend to act much quicker on a mobile. At face value this seems like a marketing dream, however this once again puts pressure on the user experience as users are also quicker to ditch content that presents any type of difficulties or unnecessary steps.

How to improve the user experience

The best user experience is uncluttered, uses easy to identify icon graphical elements that have a clear purpose, this also aids faster page loading over mobile data connections. Misunderstood icons waste time and cause frustration, also, is there a back button so the user can retry in the event of tapping the wrong icon..?

By having a single purpose and graphical elements you are reaching your targets and goals faster, by leading the user down the path you have laid out for them, albeit a very short one.

Keep the call to action simple, mobiles have built in apps that perform single functions and this is how you should think. Again keep it simple, do you want a Social Media share, phone call, registration or email..? Choose just one.


With mobile, interruption techniques are just blocking users from what they wanted to do, often with no easy way out which creates frustration.

Remember that users have a different relationship with their mobile phone than they do with any other technology, when you mess with their phone it’s personal.

A simple, fast, graphical user experience is the key to continued user interaction and has a higher chance of creating likes and shares, essentially recommendations to their friends.

Is sponsorship an effective form of marketing..?

Is sponsorship an effective form of marketing..?

Traditional marketing methods have seen circulation, viewers and readership decline, which has effectively pushed up the price of each interaction and lowered return on investment.

OK so this is nothing new, for years now we as the consumer have become hardened to advertising exposure and often look for a little something extra before we part with our cash. This lack of effectiveness has been largely replaced by inbound or relationship marketing, which continues to grow at pace.

The value of customer relationships and niche demographics is far easier to control with inbound marketing, as well as being more accurate to measure so easier to tweak as needed.

What about sponsorship..?

So if relationships and demographics are giving inbound marketing it’s power, where does that leave sponsorship..?

In our experience sponsorship remains pretty strong. The first and most critical decision is which event or cause to align with and should it be negotiated as an exclusive sponsorship, which may help to differentiate yourselves from the competition.

Does the demographic of possible attendees fit your business or is it something that fits the correct niche, or better still, both. Another consideration is whether you can help boost the event through your current contact list and therefore re-open conversations with existing followers.

The benefits of sponsorship

As with all marketing, goals are important, you may be happy to just have your name visible to attendees, however this is not necessarily the best use of sponsorship. A big plus for sponsorship is being able to reach people in a place they have chosen to attend, then opening a dialogue with these people who already have an emotional or passionate connection to the event or cause.

Control is also key, as a sponsor you can choose the level of visibility by creating as few or as many touch points as is needed to suit your goals. These touch points are targetted interactions, helping to increase the potential return on investment.

All levels of lead generation can be considered including, increased awareness through showcasing your community support, gaining qualified leads from a targeted audience with event specific offers, and also on-site conversions of tailored offers through showcasing products and hospitality.

So the answer really seems to be:

Aligning yourself with an event or cause for marketing purposes appears to be holding it’s own and remains an attractive option.

What is Internet Marketing

What is Internet Marketing?

An overview of the nitty gritty…

Increased sales through Internet marketing

In simple terms Internet marketing is nothing more than the benefits of the Internet being used for the purposes of marketing. Just like any other type of marketing it is commercial communications, only distributed via an Internet connection Rather than other traditional means. This can be through different channels such as but not restricted to your website content, search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, affiliate marketing or email. The general objectives of this form of marketing are the same as traditional marketing, those being sales growth, increased market share and name recognition or brand awareness to help your distributors.

Typical Internet Marketing…

Website/Blog marketing

Posting articles on your website allows you to share your experience, knowledge and latest information with your target audience. These articles are generally categorised as blog posts. Blog posts are also great places to share hints and tips about the use of your products as a supplement to FAQs. By regularly adding new content you also attract search engine interest giving a greater opportunity of better results in online searches

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Your business is placed in areas that contain the customers that are looking for your products or services! To ensure your target audience finds you, SEO keyword research is combined with various online ad campaigns. This marketing technique tends to bring immediate success which is highly measurable, so can be constantly optimised to move with market trends!

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is becoming ever more critical, since a better position in the search results gives more customers the chance to find you. Recent updates to the way in which search engines list the results have given genuine businesses a much better opportunity of ranking high. The primary objective for SEO management is to increase the number of visitors to your website, thus increasing lead generation.

Affiliate Marketing

There are two sides to affiliate marketing as an online sales solution. For the product provider you have the opportunity to increase your marketing reach via adverts on third party websites, either via PPC or as a direct affiliate on a commission basis. An affiliate might be an expert in your business sector with no product to sell, so sharing their knowledge whilst promoting your product can prove to be very profitable for all concerned.

Email or Newsletter Marketing

New customers can be acquired through targeted email marketing campaigns aimed at their business sector. They are also a great method for staying in touch with existing customers about new products and services you are developing.

When is the best time to start marketing for…

When is the best time to start marketing for Christmas..?

There..! Right there, you couldn’t miss it..! The word Christmas in a post notification.

Is July too early to mention Christmas..?

I’m not talking about this post, the actual post I am talking about started in quite an apologetic manner because they used the C word in July. As it turned out they used the other C word as well and we’ll get to that in moment.

The great thing about the UK summer is you can rely on it to give you a dreary day or twenty, making it perfect for taking pictures of eager, suitably dressed volunteers on the beach without it being obviously mid summer. This is really handy for PR and social media campaigns on the run up to Christmas.

When I say suitably dressed we are referring to outfits such as, Father Christmas, Christmas Puddings, Christmas Crackers, you name it, anything remotely Christmas themed tends to be the order of the day and these willing volunteers are usually on a surfboard or emerging from the sea Daniel Craig style, if that’s even possible in a Christmas pudding outfit.

Everyone loves the beach in Bournemouth, even at Christmas, am I right..?

Anyway, back to this C word notification… As it turns out it included two C words as this was a post by @whitexmasdip who support the local Macmillan ward at Christchurch Hospital by running into the sea at Boscombe pier on Christmas Day morning. They also happen to be one of the charity events we help as part of our community support initiative. It was great to see them getting the ball rolling early, and yes this article is a great excuse for us to plug the event.

Paradoxically, as you can see on the video from last year, the UK weather decided to give us what looks like a blue summer sky on Christmas Day. This was great for the event as it brought out crowds of spectators and over 600 dippers, most of which were wearing their own outfits, some of which were Christmas themed and some that were just plain wrong.

Here’s everything you need to know if you want to spectate or even better, get involved

The White Christmas Dip supports Macmillan Caring Locally which is based at Christchurch Hospital and provides palliative care for cancer patients in the local community. They also provide specialist accommodation at the Grove hotel in Bournemouth so people living with life threatening illness can enjoy a break by the sea with the support they require.

Want to take part..?

Want a reason to take part..?

Do you know someone with a life threatening illness that deserves a break by the sea..?

Putting your business on the map

Putting your business on the map

google-my-business-on-phoneWhilst many paper-based maps have either been consigned to a cupboard or drawer or even to the recycle bin, online maps today are everywhere, on our car sat nav, our computer and even on the smartphone tucked in our pocket or handbag. Finding local information or directions to a place we need to go to has become very accessible, literally at our fingertips.

But is your business properly represented on those maps? Although online maps provide an excellent opportunity for marketing a business, in a recent survey Cracking Media conducted we found that many businesses have done very little to put themselves on the map.

Mapping your business means more than a pin

In today’s Internet marketing world, ensuring your business is properly represented on the map is much more than just putting a pin in a virtual board with your business name, address and phone number. Whilst it’s useful for customers to see where you are, they are far more interested in what you can do for them.

Mapping your business today should be seen as an extension to your existing online marketing. It gives you an extra opportunity to clearly explain what you do, the problems you can solve or (in the case of hotels, restaurants, bars etc) the experience you can provide. In addition, along with posting the times you are open or the area you serve (if you go to customers), you can share photos, video and even start a conversation. But all of this is possible when putting your business on the map.

Google My Business

If someone Googles your business what will they find? Hopefully, they will find your business on page 1 of search, but there’s more to being found these days than just being found in search. Google set up a free service called Google Places in 2009 to give businesses an opportunity to claim their place on the map. In June 2014 however, Google introduced Google My Business, a rebranded and upgraded product that is still free to be listed on, but now helps your customers connect much better with you and you with them through Google Search, Maps or Google+.

The Google My Business update means that whatever computer device your customers are using, including tablets or mobile phones, your business information can be found more easily. Assuming you have set up your Google My Business page correctly, it also means your business will be seen more clearly than ever before with your branding presenting your business the way you want it to be – across multiple devices. But if you have never claimed your Google My Business page or never updated it since you claimed it – which may have been some time ago when it was part of Google Places – then it’s likely your page will look like the default page below, missing your logo and branding.



The example above (name blurred out) is the Google My Business page for a business that has claimed their page but has never changed the default settings and properly branded and promoted it for their business.


The example above is for our Google My Business page that has been branded and promoted for our business.

Is your business on the map?

So with maps playing an increasingly greater role in our day to day lives, where does your business feature in that. Is your business on the map? Try searching for it to see what you find. If you find it, then is it properly presented and branded to represent your business? Does it reach out to your customers as they are looking to possibly reach out to you? Is the information such as opening hours and the services you provide correct?

With the increasing use of mobile devices (tablets and phones), putting your business on the map is a vital part of marketing your business online. Google My Business is a free service your business can use. But don’t just use it because it’s free, make sure you use it well as the valuable marketing opportunity it is in today’s mobile-driven Internet world. You can do that yourself with your only cost being your time and effort to do that work. But if you prefer, Cracking Media can advise or assist you, so please call if we can help so we can review what’s needed with you and provide a quote.

Most of all… make sure your business is on the map and looks its best!

Peter Lunn – Cracking Media

Develop Networking Relationships for Mutual Benefit

Building Networking Relationships

On the whole it could be said that the human race is by nature “Borderline Narcissistic”.

Generally speaking we enjoy knowing that the things we do make a difference, hope that people notice our achievements, possibly even envy our brilliance and agree with our opinions.

let’s face it, if this wasn’t the case would Social Media have become the phenomenom that it is today..?

Of course we all have the freedom to have our own opinions and some will go to great lengths trying to change peoples minds, open their eyes, show them the error in their ways, etc…

OK, so where are we going with this..?

Researching a person can go along way to help you understand more about them and any mutual reasons you both might have for connecting. This can be on a business or personal level, and avoiding or putting aside your own opinions in the early stages of a relationship can prove very beneficial in the long run.

Just like any relationship it takes time to build a mutual respect. As time goes on your differences will be of less significance and give you the ability to see how others approach business. This is a great way to help overcome issues in your business as well as helping others, after all the best relationships are a two way thing.


If you’ve not got LinkedIn, get it, then connect with all the people you’ve just met. LinkedIn is based more on individual business people than a business as a whole and they may not be very active members but will almost certainly be on LinkedIn. It’s like a professional Facebook and can really go a long way in helping you and your business even if it’s just by referral.

Get Permission

Ask your connections if they would like to be added to the email listings? – Permission rather than just adding them to it, very important. Thank the event host Look for people who are influencers rather than just people who will hire you or you can hire.

Note down all those contacts you’ve met and where you met them.

When appropriate you can email people with useful content articles, for example if they, mentioned a problem to you, then if you send in some way an idea for a solution then it can be gratefully received as well as showing an interest in them.

Keep in touch

Don’t just think I’ve emailed once that’s me done. Make contact fairly regularly so that you are maintaining the relationship. When you go back to or go to another networking event, you’ll know more people so you’ll feel more comfortable, however though this is good for you it may not be good so far as your business is concerned.

Seek Out New Connections

Yes it’s important to maintain contact, say hello to those you have already met, however don’t spend all of your time with them! You’re networking to meet new people! I have to repeat that networking can be an increasingly uncomfortable experience, awkwardness can be currency of some events, but remember it’s not just you.

Don’t panic if someone doesn’t respond immediately or takes their time to respond, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested. The business world can be a busy place, it can take time to build trust so don’t just give up!

Keep reaching out..!

Networking Etiquette: Some Do’s and Don’ts

Networking Etiquette: Some Do’s and Don’ts

There is nothing like the inner fury of British people when the queue system is not adhered to. You’ve been there, seen the queue cutters, the queue ignorers and the very notion offends you. Why does it? It’s etiquette, an expected social norm. Not surprisingly then, networking has its own social norms and thus its own etiquette.

Networking etiquette can be divided into three categories. Before, during and after.


Provided the event isn’t supplying a meal, eat before you go. You don’t want to be in the middle of a conversation when your stomach starts to emit a whale call, causing you to dive for the nearest peanuts and snacks. Additionally there’s nothing worse than being asked a question when you’ve stuffed your face with canapés.

Next, check yourself out! Make sure you’re presentable in every sense of the word, maybe smart and casual or suit and tie. Confidence is everything so preparation is key. It is imperative you arrive on time, fashionably late doesn’t fly at business events, even 7am ones! Do you want to be that person that walks in whilst the host is introducing the event..?


Don’t panic. Remember, you’re the boss. Set your handshake hand free and introduce yourself to someone with a smile; they’ll be grateful that you made the first move! However, be sure not interrupt anyone or attempt to join a conversation that is clearly intended to be private. Introduce yourself as a person with a history rather than a company with a sales pitch. There’s no you in networking, so don’t make it all about you. Listening is a highly valued quality you shouldn’t underestimate it. Treat people as people and not as objects. You’re not simply there to make your services known but to connect with others and see what services they have to offer you. People like to be called by their names, try your best to remember the name of the person you’re talking to. To make it easier some like to wear a name badge, this may work for you. It’s ok to apologise and ask again!

Do not; whatever you do, check your phone during a conversation, not even as an excuse to leave the conversation, its plain rude. Phone goes on silent..!

Speaking of exiting the conversation you need to do so gracefully. Don’t make an excuse and run off, unless you actually have a valid excuse to run off! Conversations do come to a natural end, its ok to want to go and meet more people, that’s the point after all. Phrases such as “Name, it was great to meet you, I know we’re both here to meet people so I won’t take up any more of your time” work really well. Or you can offer to introduce the person to someone else, which is mutually beneficial.


After the event, you’ll have big wedge of business cards, so why not connect with the people you’ve met at the event via email, social media maybe give them a shout out on twitter. This is a great way maintain casually with no pressure until you meet again. Networking is not a one-time thing; it’s a process which requires commitment.

If you’ve managed all this socialness give yourself time to recover; Netflix is wonderful for this.

Now get back out there you etiquette wizard you!

Which Networking Events are Best for You?

Which Networking Events are Best for You?

Ok, so you may decide, after an amount of deliberation, that networking is for you. You’re psyched up, you’ve told yourself you can do this, grabbed a handful of business cards and walked out the door.

This is a great, but wait..! Where are you going..?

Research the type of networking events available to you, where they are and who’s going. For example if you run a plumbing business it may not be effective to go to a wedding fair! You can start by Googling networking events in your area as well as contacting your local chamber of commerce to see what events they’re running.

Also, if you really want to get proactive you can join a local business organisation such as the local Trade Association for your industry. These organisations are tailored to certain demographics, such as Photography, I.T or Retail.

From these associations you can find out about events that might help grow your connections and your business. Networking takes patience. It takes time to build meaningful relationships which is why it’s so important to be committed to networking.

On the flipside don’t spread yourself thin and go to every event out there. We know, as business owners, that time is precious, don’t waste yourself on events that won’t be beneficial to you.

That is, be selective about which events you go to. Ask yourself questions such as: How will this event grow my business? Will I connect with new people that use my services? Will I be able to learn something from going? Will I be able to grow my business by using the services of other attendees..?

If the answer to all of these questions is no, skip it and order a pizza…

Networking events come in all shapes and sizes! As do businesses! If you’re a start- up company with a smaller budget you don’t want to be paying a high attendance fee just for one event. Find the right fit for you; there are loads of free or low cost networking events around where you can quiz the serial networkers for knowledge on what might work best for you.

Networking events take place at different times of the day, so whether you’re a morning person, an evening person or an all-day person there will be a networking event to suit you.

Is Networking Right for You?

Is Networking Right for You?

Networking: The Why

Networking. Do you feel it? The sheer horror at the thought of having to interact with people you don’t know. If you are hit by despair when confronted with a networking event, don’t worry you’re far from alone.

Though a slighted outdated phrase, who you know still holds precedence over what you know. As a business owner you will, without a doubt, be ambitious, intelligent and knowledgeable. That being said, so are your competitors. New businesses are opening all the time so your skills and knowledge may no longer be worth as much as they once were.

By networking successfully you set yourself apart from the crowd and show that you are a valuable contact. The most successful people are the most connected people. Having a large network means more people and ultimately more potential business. It may be a hurdle but it will be worth jumping.

 A networking event is a purely social arena and it is important to recognise that you’re there to be social! Often it is through informal interaction that we gain official contacts. Social conduct obviously is critical when networking. For example would it be rude to introduce yourself and talk about you and your business the entire time..?


If you’re not willing to listen then why should anyone listen to you. We need to focus on a relationship centred rather than self-centred. If we treat people as means to an end, then why should they treat you any differently?

By building genuine relationships with your contacts, they are more likely to spread the word about you and your business as well as referring business your way. 

So could networking help grow your business?