Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Characteristics of a marketing god/goddess

Do you work with, or are you the type of person who reacts all the time to what is happening in your environment? Juggling all your balls in the air, catching one only to throw it up in the air again?

Your product launch is this week – quick send e-mails. That event is on this week – quick post on Facebook – lot’s. Something happening last week – quick send out a newsletter. Is this you? Can you relate?

Does this sound like you? Madly telling people all about the news and events of your business in a mad, frantic way. With a few minutes to spare in your busy week do you sit down and post on social media, throw out some quick e-mails, update your website and dash together a newsletter. You are a marketing God – time management Queen (or King) – efficiency plus is your motto!

Did you know that there is an optimal time for posting on social media and sending e-mails to get the best open rates an engagement by your target audience. Information moves so fast – newsfeeds on social media update regularly; inboxes get full – emails are deleted without being opened – gmails new tab format is also making it easier for people to filter e-mails out of their inbox.

So the answer – stop pretending to be efficient with your marketing. You are doing no-one any favours – especially your business.

There are two secrets (reminders) that I am going to let you in on to help be more proactive and productive with your marketing:
1.      
S    Start to plan your content. Develop a  6 month calendar for your business, put in all of your events, product launches, public holidays and specials (ie Christmas). What messaging will you develop to go with these milestones, where will you place those messages – will you put images with them? What is your call to action? What do you need to put into place to ensure seamless interactions.
2.      
       Use a scheduling tool – the leaders are Bufferapp, Hootsuite and Sprout Social – do your research to see which line will work best for you. Like any app my golden rule is that it needs to help with your business and not create more work!

As with any campaign that you develop if you have strong strategy and reliable research behind it you will generate good leads into your business. Like anything else in your life – a little bit of planning will make implementation so much easier!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Wordpress vs. Joomla!: Leading Open Source Content Management Systems Worlds Apart?

Since 2007, Visionary Group has used a great number of proprietary and Open Source website development platforms for development of new business websites, redevelopment of existing sites and as part of an integrated Internet marketing campaigns for clients. After a few years we decided to specialise in a single Content Management System (CMS), so a review of the best platform ensued… the winner (at that time)? Joomla! CMS…


After working on dozens of Joomla! CMS projects over the past 5 years, we still believe that we made the best choice for our clients and our own business. Globally, there are millions of Joomla! websites on the Internet, and with over 6000 extensions and thousands of templates there’s a solution for every need, both free and commercial versions.



But what about WordPress? This has been a question put to us during recent discussions at workshops over the past year… so to satisfy my curiosity, to keep up with latest developments and to confirm (or deny) my decision to opt for Joomla!, I had to look into WordPress again.


WordPress is the most popular Open Source CMS platform globally - it’s free, has lots of beautiful templates and boasts a great deal of extensibility options as well. Lots of company websites are built on WordPress, which speaks volumes that WordPress has evolved away from it’s traditional Blogging origins and now can be used to develop true online businesses.


So, what's the verdict? Depends on what you want to do…


For individuals and professionals, or business who want to start out developing their own CMS platform, WordPress would be the best option. However, if the design brief is a complex eBusiness platform for an organisation multiple stakeholders and users then my bet would be Joomla!


To offer a little more detail, I've listed Pro’s and Con’s for both...


WordPress:
  • Pro’s:
    • Great for beginners
    • No prior knowledge of HTML required
    • Easy set-up
    • Customisable design
    • Favourable format for Google - quick SEO uptake
    • Migration between installations simple
    • Advanced customisation easier (need knowledge of CSS)
    • Easy to create pages, posts and menu items
    • Good extensibility with plugins
  • Con’s:
    • No native multilingual support - plugins required
    • Not as extensible as Joomla!
    • Not updated as often - potential security issues not patched as often
    • Knowledge of WP scripting required for some changes that take seconds in Joomla! - ie dates in a page/post/article
    • Deep customisation complex - often requires development
    • Ongoing maintenance may cost more
    • Apparent limited user community compared to Joomla!

Joomla!
  • Pro’s:
    • No knowledge of HTML required
    • Multilingual support by default
    • Easy set-up despite being more complex CMS
    • Great user community
    • Ideal for networking, forums, building community
    • User access layers native and customisable
    • Scalable - start with a ‘business card’ site and grow with business
    • Extensible - (almost) no limit to what can be done with many extensions
    • Regular security updates
  • Con’s:
    • Steep learning curve for beginners
    • Limited customisation without coding (in CSS, PHP and Javascript)
    • Migration issues from version 1.5 to 2.5+ turning off some Joomla! fans
    • Slower SEO uptake by Google etc - versions 2.5+ better


By no means are these lists complete, also there’s also a lot of comment on the web about other CMS platforms, such as Drupal, Magneto and others in similar reviews - it all comes down to different horses for courses…


We believe that our decision to stick with Joomla! has been well founded, however we have developed WordPress sites and continue to do so… mainly for micro businesses and professionals. For our mainstream ebusiness clients we have positive runs on the board with Joomla! CMS.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm: Continual Improvement Delivering Better Search

Google celebrated 15 years this September, which is a big deal considering the Internet officially started in 1995. Also at this time Google has also rolled out an update of it’s algorithm dubbed ‘hummingbird’, aimed at making searches easier for the user.

SEO experts have been challenged over the past year or so with a raft of rolling changes to Google’s algorithms, also given unique terms such as Penguin and Panda. Some would say they gave them cute names to lull webmasters into a sense of false security when they potentially could have a huge impact on website rankings.


What is an algorithm and what could be the impact of your site? 


Happy 15th Birthday Google!
In general terms search engines utilise a complex series of mathematical formula to evaluate websites, give them a value based on relevance to a search term, ranks sites compared to other similar sites, thus giving the searcher the best site result.


Google has stated that the recent updates have rewarded those sites that have been optimised ethically and legitimately, while penalising those sites that have been optimised with unethical ‘black hat’ methods - put simply, if you've tried to buck the system, the system now is going to bite back…


Many online businesses have witnessed a dramatic change in how their sites have come up in searches as a result of the algorithm changes, some for the better but many also for the worse; Visionary’s clients have faired relatively well over the past and continue to go from strength to strength. We've even had a few situations over the past year where we have saved a client’s site from being ‘sandboxed’ (read ‘put to the back of the queue’) due to a contractor making significant changes to the site without appropriate countermeasures. Through a lot of hard work, monitoring and sustained adjustments over time we we’re able to minimise any negative impact.


Google’s Hummingbird seems to be focusing in how businesses can market and be searchable to other businesses better, while earlier changes have concentrated on improvements for consumer based search. Furthermore, more emphasis has been given to content and how businesses can differentiate not just on keywords but also intent usage of similar terms in other sectors.


Google recently described Hummingbird as a new way to “...have original, high-quality content… (and) to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”  Their message to SEO professionals, webmasters and publishers is to continue to produce quality content regularly and on multiple online channels (especially on Google platforms). Combined with an exponential growth of mobile devices, Google also wanted to deliver search results more accurately and quicker to Tablets and Smartphones and Hummingbird is just another evolutionary step in the process.


Google has delivered better search results for end users, but also in the process has challenged SEO experts and internet marketers to be more professional in their efforts. in many cases this is almost a call to ‘back to basics’ approach - to not focus too much on in-depth techniques, but rather to deliver quality content, which is highly relevant and informative. 

It is, however, even more important now than ever to utilise a SEO professional and Internet marketer to keep up with regular changes in the future.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Owning Your Social Media Presence



You need to own your social media – be seen; be engaging; be responsive – all in a timely manner! Hello good time management skills and apps that will help you manage the amount of time you are actually spending on social media.

Social media is very overwhelming once you start wanting to use it for business and to drive traffic to your website and ultimately sales. Changes happen almost on a daily basis; what worked yesterday to get your post seen – no longer works today.

The use of social media as a promotional tool will only continue to strengthen over time – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, You Tube, Blogs to name the most popular are all continuing to expand their services to make it easier and better for you to communicate with your audience.

Other sites come and go but the strong social media outlets are continuing to evolve and change. This is the future. Businesses need to get on board.

Here are my top tips to helping you own your social media presence:
You don’t need to be across all social media – you only need to be present and active on the sites that your target market is on. There are plenty of resources and statistics that will help you to determine which medium will help you reach your target.

Create a schedule for your posts – what will you post and when? If you have it planned you do not need to think about it and it will be heaps easier for you. Include which site you are going to post what message. There is third party programs that can help with this, Hootsuite is the most popular solution.

Content is king –it is all about quality content – content that is engaging and encourages your likers/followers to like, share and comment on your posts. Use pictures for more emphasis. The more engagement you have on social media the stronger your web presence will be.

Create call to actions to have people flow back to your website or onto your newsletter. This way you can actually measure the success of posts and also particular social media. Many sites have terrific insight data that give you a snapshot (and sometimes very detailed) look at your followers and how you are interacting with them. Make sure you review this regularly. Increasing traffic to your website will in-turn help to increase your search engine rankings!

Be regular and consistent – the latest reports are saying that for Facebook you need to be posting at least twice daily and for Twitter the best performing accounts are tweeting up to 30 times a day. Off course it varies for other social media and at the end of the day this could possibly be somewhat extravagant, it depends on your business and the importance you place on being seen on social media. There is nothing worse than not hearing anything from a business for weeks and then suddenly being bombarded before silence again.

If you are really confused learn more – attend workshops, webinars, read blogs. Social media is not going away, can you afford to let the possibility of talking direct to your target market disappear because you feel overwhelmed.


For more information visit www.visionary-group.com.au

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Apps To Simplify Your Life


The use of technology dominates and has supposed to have made life easier and simple. A quick scan of your phone will show loads of apps (mine is also full of toddler games for miss 2). Some apps I have downloaded because they looked great at the time and I have never used, others I absolutely could not do without.

So when selecting apps to use follow these simple rules:
1.       It needs to do something no other application you have does
2.       It should help you by automating or streamlining a task which takes you time

I recently set myself a mission to get my life organised – I have always prized myself on my awesome time management –until Miss 2 appeared in my life. Juggling mum and domestic responsibilities with a busy business has put me inside the pressure cooker once too often – to the point I turned my business on its ear at the start of the year making major decisions to lessen the load.

Taking my addiction to my smart phone I decided there were apps for everything and there had to be some that would absolutely help me feel and appear to be more organised. Here are my top 8:

Gmail
Since throwing outlook out of my life and using just Gmail I am guaranteed my contacts sync  and I can reply to messages, move them into folders, delete them and it all be done in real time with no risk of something going wrong. Time saver!

The only complaint I have is I can’t set reminders like in Outlook – I am currently experimenting with an app called Boomerang to help with this task, I will let you know how I go.

Awesome Time Logger
Given my time is very limited when I am at ‘work’ I need to make sure I am not only focused but I am also not wasting time. This great little app lets me record my day – allocating my time usage to different categories. It is amazing the little things which are time wasting activities (like always checking e-mails!)

Bank app
Whichever bank you are with there should be an app for it. To be able to pay bills on the run, transfer money or even to check balances without logging in to your computer saves time wasting and makes this task less onerous!

Food Planner
Part of my organisation of my family was to set-up meal plans and also look for interesting, quick and easy recipes (enter my Pinterest addiction). Food planner allows you set up a meal plan (you can use theirs or create your own) add recipes (again you can import some or use theirs), add an inventory of your fridge and pantry and create a shopping list. I have only just started using this system moving from a paper version – and very excited about the app!

Pinterest
Since downloading the app on my phone I am officially addicted. I can be anywhere, scanning and pinning. Creating boards for all sorts of things from recipes and craft to business help!

Pages Manager
This is a Facebook app which gives you access to your business pages, I manage a few for our business and also clients. This app gives you full access to everything (including messages and events) and allows you to post as the page – always. It is also separate to my personal FB page so I don’t get sidetracked!

Google Calendar
Knowing where I am, what I am doing and also what others are doing in my family is very important. There are loads of apps you can download to help you to keep track of your family – but I have separate Google calendars for different areas. I can look at any of them individually or all together. Syncing nicely between my phone and computer in real time!

Google Keep
Googles ‘basic’ version of Evernote. With Google Keep I can write notes, checklists, voice recordings or take a picture and then categorise with a colour. It is saved both on my phone and on my drive account so I can access it anywhere.  I can also share the nore via e-mail or social media.

Great way for recording ideas and reminders on the go.

My biggest problem is when I pull my phone out near my toddler I get asked / pestered for her to use my phone – great toddler boredom busters include a raft of games she can play (and learn from); pictures and video of herself and; You Tube for all her favourite shows! This is great except if I really need to use my phone!

Providing you keep to the simple rules I mentioned above you can keep your life sorted with some terrific apps – and there is bound to be an app that has been developed for what you are looking for!


Visionary members have access to a whole page of cool apps, programs and tools we use every day in our business and life, which continues to expand almost on a daily basis. This available through our members site

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Time For Giving Is Here

A well organised and planned business is starting to think about their Christmas giving. Traditionally this is the time of year for Christmas cards, street decorations, giving presents, work parties and spending time with friends and family. It can also be stressful if you are not prepared, all the social engagements and commitments on top of planning for holidays and slow times in January, can send your head into a spin. Help is an e-mail away!

Christmas Cards: Sent to your staff, colleagues, clients, suppliers and supporters. A personalised card at Christmas time helps to reconnect with people you have worked with throughout the year and hope to continue to work with. 

Don't forget all of your family and friends who you should also be sending cards to! 

Christmas Gifts: It is nice to provide important people with a gift as a token of your appreciation, these can be printed with your branding or left generic and can be as small as a key ring or as big as hamper! Visionary can help you with ideas and even purchase gifts for you.

Christmas Parties: Who doesn't like a good Christmas party and itis even better when you host it yourself, or is. There is alot to plan when it comes to work parties, even a simple event can be time consuming for people who are trying to manage everything else. Visionary can assist with all aspects of organising your Christmas Party, working within your budget we can even create that little bit something different that makes your's the talk of the Christmas Parties.

So with Visionary looking after those 3 time consuming  tasks, all you need to focus on is fitting in all of the socialising and finishing projects before the summer break!