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If you feel locked out of Social Media, Blogging…

If you feel locked out of Social Media, Blogging is the key…pt.3

The ROI of blogging

How do you work out if blogging is working for you then? Well…it will start off a slow process. You need to build momentum and keep people coming back.

You need to work out what it is you are aiming to achieve through your blog. You are investing time into it. A popular desirable outcome is something like increasing reach or interactivity online. You can monitor views, clicks and where they are coming from on your social media business pages. But the return you will see will not only be quantitative.

You will build a reputation as well as loyal relationships with your customers. You are present by regularly updating personable content. Not forgetting, that the more you are reading and writing about your topic area, the wiser your employees become in your field. You will use this when communicating with leads online as well as existing customers when delivering a product or service (giving you an expert and trustworthy appearance).

The benefits can be difficult to measure. Unfortunately, your potential leads can often see your content, go away and come back a few times before they convert to a customer of yours. You wont be exposed to that whole process.

Blog! Blog! Blog! It will get you and your employees knowing your brand like the back of your hand. Naturally, it will become engrained in the delivery to your customers and company culture too…

6 reasons why you should offer online coupons on…

6 reasons why you should offer online coupons on social media

Word on the street is we are all pretty savvy when it comes to finding a bargain. And I’m sure you’ve come across an online coupon before…But have you considered using one for your business? Apparently, consumers these days are quite the detectives…doing a lot of research before they purchase a product to see what is the best offer. If you offer a discount, this really could be the deal-breaker for securing customers.

If you aren’t offering this type of promotion, here are a few reasons why it could benefit your business:

– They are easy to track! Especially if you use different codes per social media platform – that way you can see where your customers are coming from. Not to mention you also get feedback that you can use in the future to target your markets. Win-win!

– Online coupons are convenient for consumers to share and don’t require too much effort. This also opens up the potential for conversations to start about your products/ services.

– Reduced costs on printing and distribution – Who doesn’t love that?

– You’ll be showing your appreciation to existing customers. Saying thank you for staying loyal by rewarding them with a coupon will reassure them that they are important to you, and keep them coming back. It’s easier to keep existing customers than get new ones! Don’t forget about them, they are important.

– Coupons attract new customers! Social media is called social for a reason. Increase your reach by using Facebook and Twitter to promote the coupon so that your customer’s best friend’s cousin’s acquaintance and their dog knows about it. You can even appear on coupon websites to reach people who otherwise might not have come across your offer.

– Your social media pages can get more views! Think Return on Investment. As part of your discount campaign, a call to action might be necessary to get the deal, e.g. ‘like’ the Facebook page for a discount… Guess who is winning the popularity contest? That’s right, it’s you!

So all in all, offering a coupon can truly add value to your business to customer relationship. And the data you will collect is invaluable for your future campaigns. So what’s stopping you? Go and plan your coupon!

How to increase your leads through online marketing

How to increase your leads through online marketing

What is a lead?

To put it simply, people who don’t only visit your site or social media page but get in contact with you about your products or request information about your services are considered leads, even a ‘like’ on your Facebook page can be considered a lead.

Total Gridlock! Generating traffic

If you wanted to buy a novel that your friend recommended, would you go straight to the local bookstore that you can’t remember the name of? Or would you look at the prices that Amazon has to offer?

Well it is the same for your business. If you aren’t a well-known brand, the chances are that people are not specifically searching for your name when they are looking for a specific product.

This is where search engines become your best friend. If you incorporate key words into your site that your audience is likely to search for, you increase your chances of being discovered. It is more likely that visitors find you through suggestions or come across you online by coincidence.

Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools for finding new leads. Start conversations with people regularly through your social media. It is a brilliant channel to get noticed as well as to direct visitors to you website. That’s where all the good stuff is, right?

Try to make sure that your online branding and design is consistent across all of your social media and website. Let people know that you are present and up to date, add links to your social media pages on your website and visa-versa. In order to get leads you need to generate traffic.

How to actually get people there

Generating traffic isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Whether or not you are successful often comes down to the quality of your content. You could build an amazing strategy to get more people to your site, but if the content isn’t great when they get there or specifically what they are looking for, you won’t increase your leads.

There are methods that you can apply. Focusing too much on attracting traffic rather than targeted traffic could attract too many of the wrong people to your website, such as those who aren’t interested in what you offer. Here is a reminder of the different channels you can use.

Social Media

Social Media is important because the potential ‘footfall’ is endless!


Don’t just be present on Social Media though. The CONTENT is vital. If you are taking part in conversations online, use these to learn about the questions people are asking. Then add content to your site to cover these topics. It’s highly probable that this is what people are searching for so make sure your site has that information ready to share. If you don’t others will.

Other people will pick up on these conversations through you or even other company pages. Or even through other people that took part in the chat with you, sharing their experience.

Do you know what that means?

It means, the potential for being found increases through discussions, social media, referrals, links and this isn’t limited to just your own content.

You are leaving a ‘virtual trail’ so to speak.

Email Marketing

If you are creating articles, getting involved in a big event or offering an exciting deal…send this to relevant groups who might be interested.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is a technique that is becoming more popular because a user who is looking for something in particular will research it and their options before choosing the one that is best for them.

Blog Articles

Share your blog on your social media. Although the visitor is being sent away from the original post, they are being redirected to your website. Hopefully, they will navigate to other blog articles or around your site.

This is why it is so important that your website is of high quality. Once you have got people to the website, you have done the hard part. You don’t want them to travel all that way to be disappointed once they arrive at (hopefully) the ‘final destination’ aka your website.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing for Small Businesses

Go beyond thinking outside the box…

All you need is your imagination…and some fairy dust. Guerrilla marketing is by no means a new thing. But fortunately for us, the idea was designed for small businesses with low budgets. Guerrilla Marketing is a low cost, high-fun way to communicate with your audience. You can go wild and make it unique. It is usually in the public eye and excites and astounds you, leaving a lasting impression beyond the experience. Just stop what you are doing for 1 minute. Think about any unique marketing you have seen that really stood out to you.

You got one?

Good. Even though you were put on the spot you probably came up with at least one. Say you saw a flashmob campaign for children’s ballet dance classes and I say to you one day “uh I wish I knew where to find a ballet studio, my daughter really wants to start!” you would almost immediately remember that quirky campaign you saw and recommend it to me as a possibility. Do you see what I am getting at? But if you saw another company do basically the same campaign, you may be slightly amused at most – but it won’t be quite so effective, because your experience wasn’t thrilling or new. This is why your campaign should be truly innovative and personable to your business. Guerrilla marketing thrives on new experiences for its target audience.

What is it you want to say?

Cut yourself some slack when doing this. It takes time to come up with a message for your campaign and how you are going to get this message across. I know I know, some small businesses don’t make annual marketing plans with a main goal to achieve. Make your concept strong. Be visible. Your aim is to stop people in their tracks and (gently) force them to pay attention. And in today’s society, who hasn’t got their phone at the ready to grab a quick snap of their Costa coffee cup, a cute selfie…or hey maybe even your campaign?

You know how scary film trailers make you jump…

Some of the most successful campaigns evoke emotion in their audience the same way. If it ties in with your message, then shock is a strong and memorable emotion that works wonders. We remember things that we personally have been a part of. If they responded emotionally or maybe even physically – then well done, you have done your job. If you manage to do this, you have pretty much engraved a positive, memorable experience with your brand in people’s minds. If you change the way they think, the positive association becomes even stronger! (Usually – as long as you don’t offend anyone…)

Incentives – Would you like fries with that?

“So what’s in it for me?” Even if it isn’t directly related to your business, a delighter or incentive really takes your campaign to the next level. If you give them ‘evidence’ to take home with them, they are going to be exposed to that same piece of marketing on more than one occasion. Or you can do it more than once to attract maximum exposure! Result! So make it fun while you are at it. Business cards with a twist…a keychain…FOOD! If it’s free, we love it all.

If you want the audience to do something, this is where you put the incentive. Provide them with a reason for adding this extra task to their day.

1-2-3! Easy as G-U-E-(rrilla marketing) – Make it fun!

Lets make this step as simple as possible. Don’t make your campaign a chore for people. If it is too much effort, with no reward, no one will be interested! Make it fun. Make it easy. Keep it short and sweet.

Some Simple Marketing Techniques

Some Simple Marketing Techniques

Marketing your business doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, clever is okay though. Here are some techniques you might consider using to help grow any type of business.

We are always looking for something new, the next thing…

There’s only one thing that peaks peoples interest more than NEW stuff, and we’ll get to that shortly. First, let’s talk about NEW. Even if you hear talk about how things used to work better or last longer, the truth is, new still attracts attention.

By adding something new to your product line, or through your website, social media, a special offer possibly, you are creating an opportunity to attract sales. It doesn’t need to be big or complicated, it should however be of value.

It could be as simple as tips and tricks to get the best from your products, this would help existing customers, whilst better explaining the benefits to potential customers.

Now we talk about the other thing, FREE..!

FREE doesn’t necessarily mean give away, or cost you money for no return. Think about FREE as part of your marketing budget, by including FREE in your marketing spend you can measure the results. You might be surprised just how often FREE gives you the best return.

Okay enough of the block capitals. Free samples at the supermarket, free drinks and canopies at a sales seminar or even sharing your expertise either live or through your website, these are all examples of free stuff that can be used to attract new customers.

Free samples create an instant want for that product, an impulse to buy, whilst hospitality can be used to add a perceived warmth to your business. By helping people with your expertise you are creating trust that will expose them to your marketing again and again when they are looking for information.

Why should customers make space in their lives for your product?

What will customers achieve by having your product in their life? As suppliers of a service or product we often forget that it’s not necessary for people to know how things are done or how clever something is, they’re only really interested in the end result and how it will benefit or improve their life.

The mobile phone is a classic example of this, very few people want to know how the technology works, all they really care about is what it looks like, is it the latest model, can they text friends, post on Facebook, follow on Twitter and (nearly forgot) call someone..!

For those that love acronyms – USP

What is your USP, what separates you from the competition..? There are very few markets where you will be the only action in town, so what do you do better than the rest..? Faster delivery, better price, amazing results or incredible support, these are all USPs, in your market there maybe others.

Look at selling your product as the beginning of a relationship that you hope will last many years and many iterations of your product or products. Focus on what is important to the customer whilst building a model that provides your business with growth.

Never rest on your laurels or past glory – Any England sports team take note…

Remember where we started with this little journey, NEW. Things move on and although you might not always be ahead of the curve you should plan for change. In our business sector smartphone apps and mobile internet access have been on a surge in the last few years.

To keep up with this change we planned and developed responsive web systems that work across a full range of devices. This meant our customers were ahead of the game when Google announced changes to their mobile search results. Another part of this change was making partnerships with trusted providers we can turn to when a requirement beyond our scope lands on the desk.

What can you do to stay current?

Change will always happen even if your customer base is of a specific demographic. As potential customers enter your sights they will bring with them the attitude they have lived with up to this point and this will almost certainly be different to that of the generation before. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, however this is where trends become an important part of your business planning, website analytics and emerging business strategies can help as indicators of how your emerging customer base react to a variety of marketing techniques.

Business Jargon and Other Annoying Phrases..!

Business Jargon and Annoying Phrases..!

“Customer Engagement” – “Value proposition” – “Clickbait” – “Growth Hacking”

Jargon, Buzzwords, Spiel are not a new thing in business, with marketing departments being guilty of introducing a lot of them, but remember for those people outside of your Business Vertical, often referred to as new or potential customers, jargon is just gobbledegook. Businesses are now releasing content that suggests things like “We want to engage more deeply with customers to better understand their needs“. All customer service agents have just cringed because it’s obvious the marketing department came up with that, you’ll have to excuse them of course because unlike you they have no idea about talking to customers.

Real-Time Engagement on Facebook, Twitter and the like is on the increase and it’s not just big businesses who are learning to monitor enquiries and comments. If you work in PR you already understand the importance of swift action and how this can turn around a possibly damaging situation from negative online comments.

Some Buzzwords such as product benefits can have value when aimed at customers whilst others will just bewilder them. We live in a world where businesses must create a Customer Relationship that keeps people Re-Engaging with their content, after all it’s believed that Engaged Customers are more loyal customers… With this in mind shouldn’t we be using the simplest language possible when we send our content Over The Wall..?

Our job (yours and ours) is to Build Relationships with current and potential customers, so we should be looking for opportunities to join in on both the good and bad, post useful content, reinforce positive content, provide answers during discussions, whilst staying abreast of trending topics to show we have a Helicopter View of what’s happening in the World.

Learn to strengthen your Conversation Marketing, if you’ve managed to build an Engaged Social Community, these followers will often sing your praises and defend your brand and products when under attack from Flamers which will save you from being on a Burning Platform everytime something kicks off.

Social Media Monitoring gives you the opportunity to deal with genuine concerns that deserve your attention, however if you have built good Social Customer Retention then Flamers generally get no support and burn themselves out with no real damage done. Things happen in life, don’t try and Think Outside The Box to hide innocent mistakes but always see if you can make them work for you, if not then honesty is the best policy.

Social Media is a real Game Changer when it comes to Customer Interaction, so embrace the quirky, don’t be afraid of humour, talk about other stuff, social media is not a place to be stuffy and uptight, don’t be scared to relax from the marketing messages, remember most social media is of a personal nature and not a place to be formal. You won’t score points for the amount of Jargon, Buzzwords or Spiel you can get into a post and never forget users can smell marketing a mile off…

Jargon And in English…?
Real-Time Engagement Talking to people, right now.
Touch Base Offline Talk to each other in real life.
Think Outside the Box New ideas not yet thought of.
Content Curation Sharing other people’s content ‘with meaning’ for customers.
Mocial Mobile + Social = an unnecessary combination of words.
Omnichannel The same as multi-channel but marketing at its finest convincing you it is a new thing.
Thought Leader Authority/ The Big Guy in the industry/ The Einstein of [insert subject here].
Responsive Web Design A website design that works on all screen sizes.
Synergy Working together.

So if you are a thought leader that likes to touch base offline, whilst maintaining Real-Time Engagement across an omnichannel strategy offering a Value Proposition on your Responsive Website supported by sending content over the wall via social channels; Just remember there are people out there that won’t have a clue what you’re talking about, so you better know what it means in plain English.

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.

How Important is the Typography on a Website

How important is the typography on a website

When people visit your website they might look at the images and the colours but you can be sure they will be reading the text.

Text does so much on your website

The main task of your website is to convey information, and no matter how many bells and whistles are built in to a design, supplying relevant information is key to the success of any website.

For this reason typography should be considered as a very important part in the development process. In this article we shall look at some simple ideas designers use to keep text under control.

Ditch the Lorem Ipsum ASAP!

Lorem Ipsum is the latin looking text you sometimes see on the web, designers can generate random passages of Lorem Ipsum to use as a placeholder until the final text content is available.

Though a good short term method, it’s always a better idea to have some text content prepared, at least your “Home Page” and “About Us” page written for the start of the website development process. Supplying text content to your web designer at the start means they can read and understand your requirements better.

What is the responsibility of the web designer

Some designers think it fine to just Copy and Paste text into a design and that is the end of their typography duties, however a designer that has a good understanding of the text will find it much easier to produce a stylish and efficient website.

Once the text is in the design you will have the opportunity to see how it looks and reads in place. This can really help to show up any long, difficult to read lines or awkward line-breaks. Typography can itself add shape and form to the design so re-writing text and reshaping images can make a powerful difference to the overall look of a page.

Text and responsive design

Your website is being viewed on many different devices with many different screen shapes and sizes. The main function of responsive design is to give your users a great experience on these smaller screens, so a good deal of attention should be paid to responsive typography.

The designer will need to consider font size, paragraphs and margins to make best use of the space available, special attention should be paid to headings and other larger text elements.

Margins between content blocks will need more emphasis at these smaller screen sizes. Designers will usually like to make these adjustments live across all the popular web browsers, which gives them the best testing environment.


There is no doubt, typography and the font-faces designers choose have a huge impact on multiple aspects of your website. It’s essential designers properly understand the principles of using typography to create a pleasing design, only then can your website properly communicate the key messages of your business.

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.