What is Social Media Marketing ?

“How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?.” – Seth Godin

We are at a point of time where technology has completely changed the way we communicate.

Social Media is not ‘just another fad’. In fact, it is an integral part of millions of lives today.

The number of sign-ups and visits on these networks seems to be increasing everyday.

This means that more people getting connected online today than there were yesterday, and the number will only increase. Even people who were not using internet actively seem to be bitten by the Social Networking bug.

What does all this mean to people like you who are trying to reach customers? 

This means opportunity! It has become very easy to reach out to your potential customers. The process of  setting up accounts on these sites is so simple, it hardly takes few minutes to register. It is very easy to share information about your business or brand or cause. The best part is that all this can be done with almost zero monetary investment ! Reaching targeted people has never been this cheap and easy!

But there has to be a catch right? Yes, unfortunately, there is. You have to remember that it is easy for *anyone* to do all this. This has led to a huge surge in spam and irrelevant stream of information. There is way too much chaos. And your message can easily get lost.

How do i get noticed on social media ?

This is not an easy task anymore, owing to the sheer number of people sharing and publishing information online. Every day billions of photos, status updates, videos etc are being shared by millions of people. There is way too much information(useful and otherwise) floating around the web.

To worsen the matters, the average attention span of people in general has reduced so much, that you would be lucky if you can hold their attention for a few moments. So how would someone get noticed in all this chaos ? How can you get the attention of your potential customers ?

Say hello to Social Media Marketing. One of the newest kids on the marketing block.

Social Media Marketing, what ?

Social Media Marketing is one of the latest buzzwords in the online marketing industry. It is the term used to represent the set of activities that one does to reach out to potential customers on Social Networking sites. Lot of businesses (of all shapes and sizes) use social media to interact with their costumers and engage them in some way or other.  If done right, social media marketing can actually help you increase sales (See this article on Bloomberg about Dell’s increase in sales).

Portfolio : Custom Software for WPC India

A couple of years ago, we were approached by one of India’s leading advertising agencies, WPC (http://wpcindia.in/) to help them automate and streamline their process and operations. Here is how we helped them.

The Challenge :

WPC has been slowly expanding its presence all over India and now overseas. The major challenge was to make a software that is scalable and capable to handle the growing needs of the company. We had to come up with a solution that does not require lot of training and can still handle all the complex business operations.

The Solution :

We came up with a web-based software powered by some of the latest technologies. Since the software is web-based, there are no infrastructure costs involved and can be used from anywhere in the world.

The software is at the core of WPC’s day to day operations. 

For eg. Following is a short overview of the Project Management aspect of the software :

  1. Managers create new Projects and break down each project into smaller tasks.
  2. They assign each task to one or more sub-ordinates.
  3. Each sub-ordinate gets alerted when a new task is assigned to him/her.
  4. They can see list of all tasks assigned to them.
  5. Once they decide to start work on a particular task, they fill out the details about the task and click on a button that marks the task as “Ongoing”.
  6. Managers can track progress of each task. They can see who is working on what and can track how much time was spent on each task.
  7. Once the task is completed, people working on the task can upload their work.
  8. Admin can now create invoice and mail the invoice without leaving the software.

In short, they use the software to assign work to employees, create cost estimates and prepare invoices (which can be mailed directly to the client through the software itself), pull out reports, assess employee performance, send messages to one another, have a discussion on a particular task or project etc.

The Result :

WPC has been using our software for about 2 years now. The company’s muck work is handled by the software so that the employees can focus on increasing their creative output and delighting their clients.

We have worked with companies of all shapes and sizes around the world. We understand how crucial good software is for a company to grow or to maintain competitive edge. If you require a customized software solution, please contact us right away. We can work together to develop a custom solution for your unique business problems.

Things to consider when marketing online

There are a few things that you should consider when marketing your business online :

  1. Be careful. Once you put something on the internet, you can very rarely take it back.
  2. Be original. Don’t plagiarize content for your blog or status updates. If your customers find that you use plagiarized content, they will surely not think very highly of your business.
  3. Be consistent. Make sure that you are conveying a consistent message everywhere (even offline). Don’t confuse your current and future customers by sending confusing messages about your business.
  4. Be patient. Don’t fall into the shortcut trap. There are a lot many “businesses” that sell “software” or “services” that can increase your traffic, followers, likes, fans etc. Stay away from them or face the risk of being penalized or banned.
  5. Be precise. People don’t have time and attention span like they used to. Make sure what you write is short and easy to read and follow.
  6. Be focused. Don’t write stuff that is not of any concern to your business and more importantly to your customers.
  7. Be useful. Give your customers a reason to keep coming back for your updates. Try to be as useful as possible.

Why do I need a website ?

  1. First and foremost, a website makes it easy for potential customers, investors, existing customers etc. to know and understand  more about your products/services.
  2. There is always a possibility of selling your products/services online. It is available 24×7 and it is accessible even to people who cannot possibly visit your offline establishment.
  3. Even if you do not wish to sell your products/services online, your website could be an excellent medium to reach out to prospective customers. It could be your salesman who never sleeps !
  4. A website is like an extended, interactive business card which wont get lost in your client’s drawer or closet. You can showcase your products or services or even your previous work. You can have your client testimonials. Best of all, you can update information and the whole world can access it, instantly !
  5. A professionally designed website with properly planned out content can create a very solid first impression.
  6. Chances are that your competitors already have a website and web presence. You might be losing a sizable business to them just because your prospective customers searching online don’t even know you exist !

It makes perfect sense to have a website in today’s internet centric world. People like to search for information on a product/service before they decide to purchase it. If planned and marketed properly, your website can increase your leads and eventually sales.

I would love to read your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment below.

Biggest Web Design Mistakes

Your website may be causing some serious loss in your business, without you even knowing it ! Bad web design is known to put off potential customers away. It is very easy to navigate to some other website if your website does not seem to solve your customer’s problems.

Allow me to give you a simple analogy. Let us assume there is a new super-market in your neighborhood.

The super-market

  • is difficult to reach
  • is unorganized (nothing is in the place where you expect it to be)
  • is not clean
  • has unfriendly and annoying staff
  • looks unsafe and untrustworthy
  • plays really loud and annoying music

Would you like to shop at such a place ? I doubt you will. Even if you enter once, you will make sure you don’t return. And you will ensure that all your friends , colleagues and family members stay away from this super-market, won’t you ?  Effectively, the super-market has lost a lot of potential customers.

And the super-market owner probably wonders why his business is failing. Why the number of visitors is low and why visitors are not returning ?

If you have read our previous post on Important characteristics of effective websites you will know what exactly an effective website should have. In this post, we explore the opposite side of the same coin.

Web Design has been around for a while now. But, many web designers continue to use outdated methods and many repeat the same mistakes over and over.

What are the most commonly repeated mistakes ?

  • Forgetting that people don’t care for your business or website :
    If your website does not talk about your customer’s problems, you are doing something wrong. Please remember people do not care for your business or website, they are on your website to solve some specific problem of theirs. Do you go to the super-market because you need to buy something or do you go there because you care for the business or the store ?
  • Not making it clear what your website is all about :
    Your website should clearly and obviously make clear what it is about. If you do not make this clear, your customer can easily navigate away to some other website that is easy and clear to follow.
  • Using bad design elements :
    Without any doubt, a website has  to look appealing. The layout has to be simple and neat. The text and background colors have to be properly contrasted. The images should not appear too stretched or too compressed.  People hate to see badly rendered images. Overall, the website has to look professional.
  • Using a flash intro unnecessarily :
    Trust me, this is a very big put off. Flash intro used to be very cool. But, it ended up being used so badly and in places where it was clearly not needed that it lost its sheen. Would you like to see a cool presentation about the super-market every time you enter it ? Won’t it be annoying and a waste of time ? Avoid this.
  • Bad Navigation/Organization and not searchable:
    It is very important to make sure that your website is easily navigable. Imagine how difficult it would be to shop for a particular item if the super-market has no proper organization ? Navigation or Organization is really important.  Also make sure you have a search mechanism on your websites that help users find exactly what they are looking for. This is a very ignored facet of web designing.
  • Not reachable easily:
    Unless you are a business like Microsoft or Apple, it is very unlikely that your customers will remember your web address. This means that your website has to be easily searchable through major search engines. Your website should be ranked top for search keywords relevant to your business. This is easier said than done, but it pays if you plan for this from the day you start designing your website.

It will certainly help your business if you keep these points in mind when you get a website designed for your business.

Do a favor to your business and customers and get your website designed by professionals who understand your needs and who help you to improve your business by improving your web presence.

Benefits of getting your website designed professionally

There are close to 200 million websites online today and this number is growing faster than you can imagine. Everyday hundreds of new websites are springing up. More and more companies are getting an online presence. Where does your website stand among this clutter ?

It has to stand out
Today, it is more of a requirement than a luxury to have a website that is crafted carefully to make it stand out. Your website has to reflect the kind of products/services you deal with.

It has to capture attention
People in todays information abundant age, do not spend much time on a website if it is not immediately appealing or solving their problems.

It has to look and be credible
There are many websites which promise and then under-deliver. There is no point in having a website that looks like a rock-star and delivers like a wannabe. This is a big put-off.

It has to be easy to manage
You should be able to manage your website with ease. You should be able to make minor changes without having to call your designer every time.

It has to be easily searchable
One of the largest sources of traffic are search engines. If your website is not search engine friendly, then you are losing a huge opportunity. Many web designers overlook this aspect of your website.

A professional web designing company makes sure that your website is designed to stand out, looks credible and is communicating your message clearly and effectively.

How can we help you improve your business ?

We have worked with many small businesses and helped them develop websites that have helped them reach more clients. We design websites that are not only search engine friendly, but also user friendly.

How free and open source is changing the world

How do you make coffee ? There are many ways. Most of them are known and free for anyone who cares to make a coffee. Basically, the recipe or procedure of coffee making is free and open sourced. Luckily, you don’t have to get special license to make and drink your own coffee !

Now imagine that coffee making was close sourced, that is the original creator chose to keep it a secret. In this case, it might not have become such an insanely popular drink. Even if it had become popular it would be very limited and not very accessible to millions as it is today.

When something is free and open source, people have the access to the recipe or source and are able to add improvisations or sometimes modify the recipe/procedure completely. This might result in some really cool and awesome stuff that the original creator might not have imagined.

Let me share another analogy to drive the point home. Imagine if the cave person who accidentally discovered fire had chosen to keep the process to himself/herself. We would probably still be in jungles. We would be hanging from trees, hunting,  and worse twitter would have been non existent. *shudder* . Lucky for us fire making is open source and today fire is being used in ways that obviously our original cave dwelling ancestor might not have even imagined. It has literally changed the world.

Open Source is clearly not a new thing. It has been with us, without a name, for thousands of years. If used properly and in the right places (open sourcing nuclear weapons is clearly a bad idea), it can create more impact and reach more people.

Is open source changing the world ? Yes it is. Is it an answer to all problems, maybe not. But it does solve a lot of problems and in a very interesting way.

In the coming weeks we will explore some popular open source software and how companies (small or big) can benefit from them.

Important characteristics of effective websites

A website is effective if it provides the right information to the right audience. User interface is definitely important, but should not be too flashy.  People do not visit websites to enjoy user interfaces. They look for information or solutions to their problems.

1) Effective Message (Content) : An effective website is the one which has solid, useful and note-worthy content. People come to your website to solve their own problems. Your website needs to have the content that at least helps them a bit. Say you are searching for information on “D.I.Y. plumbing”. Would you like to visit a site which claims to solve your plumbing problems, but actually provides nothing useful or insightful ? I would not.

2) Effective Design : A good design is one that pleases the eye and creates good first impression. And Effective design is one that helps in carrying the message across and is not obtrusive. In other words, it does not distract rather it engages. It offers them easy ways to navigate or find the content they are looking for.

3) Availability : A website is no good if it is not available at all times. Make sure you invest in a good web-host. You never know when potential clients will visit your website.

4) Searchability : Make sure your website is easily findable. Though there are lot of factors that make your website searchable, good content is one of the most important factors. If your content is good, your readers themselves will spread the word, share links etc and bring in more traffic.