Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Ways to Increase your Email Marketing List

Kim Kolb - Thursday, January 27, 2011

If you don’t have any compelling offers on your site, you’re ignoring a huge opportunity to grow the size of your email list. This is true whether you're a B2C or a B2B company - offers are one of the most effective ways to harvest email addresses and leads from your site traffic.  You'll want to note that a boring quarterly newsletter is NOT featured below.

Here are 4 ways to create offers that can help dramatically increase the size of your email list and lead conversion volume.

Educational / How To Offers

These type of offers are valuable to B2B's because you are giving them valuable information. These can also be good for B2C's because those are most time "How To's". Regardless of B2B or B2C, you are offering a "way" to do something.

  • eBooks – “Download our comprehensive guide to inbound marketing and ecommerce”
  • Whitepapers – “Understand how to nurture your email list”
  • Buyer's Guides – “Which LED underbody kit is right for you?”
  • Fact Sheets – “10 facts you need to know before purchasing a used car”
  • Checklists – “The 5 key steps to preparing your IT department for the iPhone 4”

Free Stuff Offers

Everyone loves free stuff. Every week, I get a free offer from "All You".  Whether I need it or not, I submit my info to receive my free sample.

  • Contests - “Send us your cutest dog picture; cutest picture wins free doggy day care!”
  • Sweepstakes – “Enter for a chance to win a free copy of the book!”
  • Giveaways – “Register for your free welcome gift of a free keychain!”
  • Quizzes –“Who was Warren G. Harding’s dog? Let us know and two lucky history buffs gets a free dog bowl!”
  • Surveys – “Take our survey and get $10 off your first order!”

Coupons and Deals

Like with the free stuff offers above, everyone likes to feel as though they are getting a good deal. Running special offers for a discount is always a great way to get more customers:

  • Coupons for dollars or percentage off – “Sign up for future offers and savings to receive 10% off your next order today!”
  • Free shipping – “Create an account today and get free 2-day shipping through March 1st!”
  • Time-sensitive discounts – “Save 20% on flower arrangements through February 14th – order soon, roses are going fast this year!”
  • Bundled deals – “Fill out the form to get a free iPad if you sign up for our service in the next 2 weeks!”

Events

Events can create huge engagement from your interested prospects and customers. Because events require your prospects to physically show up at a certain place at a certain time – even if that “place” is online – event registrations indicate serious fans of your brand, products, and services. Think creatively about what constitutes an "event" for you: consider sponsoring charity events, conducting in-house mini-events, and use your site to collect registrations with names, emails, and other pertinent information.

  • Webinars – “How to get more leads using Email Marketing”
  • Off-site events – “Meet us at the Fine Arts Center for a fundraising event on Tuesday”
  • On-site / in-store events – “Come in every Friday for free drinks, snacks!”

Spin up a few new landing pages on your site and start experimenting. You will quickly find which have the best traction among your traffic and customer base if you keep an eye on your offer's performance metrics. Encourage your new email signups to share your offers on social media, email the offer to a friend, and get the word out to exponentially increase your offer's reach.

Tell us how you grow your email list?

Creating Great Landing Pages

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, January 26, 2011
1) Remove Navigation and Other Distractions

Your landing page should have one simple purpose: Get someone excited enough about your offer so that they're willing to hand over their information. For best results, you'll want to remove distractions like navigation and additional offers. Keep your visitor's focus on the offer at hand.

Getting Started

2) Use Your Headline to Explain the Value of Your Offer - What's in it for Me?

People's attention spans are short, especially online. Because of this, you'll want to make sure that your offer is as clear as possible. The best way to achieve this is to have a clear title. Specifically, you'll want to make sure your title contains:
  • A clear action (e.g. "Get Started Today")
  • A clear description of your offer (e.g. "Complete form to discuss project")
  • An explanation of the value of your offer (e.g. "Custom Websites")
I've seen many landing pages that miss one of these three key details.

3) Use Caption Text Under Your Image(s)

You should always include at least one image on your landing pages. Images are engaging, they make your offers more tangible, and people like them.

That said, one of the most commonly overlooked elements on landing pages is image caption text. Behaviorally, people are much more likely to read the caption text on an image then to read the body text of your landing page.

Use your caption text to help underline the value of your offer.

4) Use Thank You Pages & Suggest Next Steps

When someone has finished filling out your landing page, what do they see? You should think carefully about this question.

Your "thank you" page is a great opportunity to suggest your lead's next action and should help them further connect with your company or brand. "Subscribe to our newsletter," "Read our blog," "Connect with us on Twitter," or "Share this offer with a friend are all are excellent examples of things you can suggest on a thank you page.

5) Make Your “Submit” Button Engaging

No one get’s excited about submitting their information to a marketing database. Because of this, you should always change the default text of your "submit" button.

The best practice here is to use an action word and to remind your visitors about what they're going to get. Think about which button you'd rather click below:

Bonus Tip: Avoid “Contact Us,” - Create Stronger Offers

A “Contact Us” page does not count as a landing page. If this is the only "offer" on your site, you’re just going to attract spam and sales people. Diversify and create more offers.

Specifically, create one early-stage and one late-stage offer. For example, an early-stage offer could be a guide, a kit, or a white paper. A late stage offer can be a free consultation, an estimate / price quote or a free trial.

Do you have a great Landing Page you want to share?  Send us a link.

What are Inbound Links and Why they are good for your Search Results

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inbound links are the unsung hero of successful inbound marketing. They help increase traffic, and improve SEO.

But what is an inbound link? An inbound link is a link from one website to another website. For example, this is an inbound link to Hubspot.com. The inbound description is generally used by the person receiving the link. So HubSpot might say, "I received an inbound link from HighTouch.

So why do you need inbound links? Two reasons. First, it's an opportunity to receive referral traffic from another website. An inbound link from a blog is an avenue for that blog's readers to visit you. But depending on the amount of traffic that blog or website receives, the link may send a low volume of traffic.

So what does a good inbound link look like? Good question! There are three primary qualities that define the quality and strength of an inbound link:

1. Comes from an authoritative website. So, if Hubspot were to link to HighTouch's blog, they would be an authority since Inbound Marketing is what they are all about.

2. Uses anchortext. Anchortext is the text that "holds" the link. For example, you can link to another site by either writing the URL, or using anchortext (www.hubspot.com or Hubspot, respectively).

3. Has descriptive anchortext. The reason we like anchortext in point #2 is because it gives the linker the opportunity to describe the linked-to site in the link itself. This is great for the person who is receiving the link, because now search engines will have more information about his or her site. (For Example if you have a link that goes off the site, you can call it something relative to what you are talking about like, click here for more Website Design and SEO tips, linking Website Design as the anchor text.)

You can see here from the Analytics what the sites are that refer traffic to HighTouch...  Notice Facebook is at the Top, just a plug for Social Media Efforts.

Have you checked your site for Inbound Links lately?  Blogging is a great way to accomplish this as well as commenting on other relevant blogs.

What is your highest referring site?

International Builder Show Jan 2011

Kim Kolb - Sunday, January 16, 2011

I have just returned from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL where the International Builder Show (IBS) was held. 

This was the first time I have been to the International Builder Show. What a massive production. The show was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. They had a beautiful sign out front with nice glittery lights.. Kinda made me think I was in Vegas. The Displays spanned the entire length of the West Building. I have been to a PartyLite Convention before and I thought it was a big production.

There were tons of seminars for Builders as well as networking opportunities.

I was attending this event because I was asked to be a speaker at the Convention. I was part of a panel that talked about the REDMAR process. I was asked to speak on this process and how Inbound Marketing relates to getting visitors to your site. I love it when I am asked to talk about Inbound Marketing. It really makes me feel like my job means something when I get a client who looks to me for advise on how to start or improve their on line marketing efforts.

Although my trip was only one day long. I do plan to go back to Orlando because there was tons of fun I did not have!

Website Re-Design: Make sure your Web Designer Sweats the Details

Dave Kolb - Monday, November 08, 2010

Most of our business comes from clients who already have websites and are looking for an upgrade to a modern content management system like Adobe Business Catalyst. That said, I find myself looking at a lot of other web designer's work. What amazes me is the lack of attention to detail in the work.

First, this is not intended to bash other designers and developers. For the most part (and there are definitely exceptions), the code I see is good and the layouts are fine. What's missing is the attention to detail, specifically, the boring stuff!

Details, details, details

Here are some examples of details so-called professional web designers often overlook:

  • Optimizing browser page titles
  • Optimizing page URLs
  • Optimizing H1 tags
  • Using ALT tags for all images
  • Spelling errors (ok, I admit...I'm bad at this one, but I try)
  • Clearly defining "who you are and what you do" IMMEDIATELY on the homepage
  • Linking the logo "back home" (not necessarily a rule, but it's expected by most users)
  • Including COMPLETE contact information (personally, I like to have at least a contact link and phone number on each and every page.
  • Including a tag line near the logo (not required, but helps define "who you are and what you do"
  • Not customizing error pages and messages for when things go wrong. Nothing is more annoying than seeing the "stock" error message.
  • Not having a CLEAR call to action and more importantly, not finishing the job by including a well-written auto-responder (with contact information) and friendly landing page (with possibly some up-sell information). 

I'm sure there are other details I'm forgetting, but these are the obvious ones that should be included in the design and development cycle. I know many designers consider "optimization" as part of SEO, and "usability" as part of strategy...which is just code for additional billable hours down the road.

These details, if addressed during the design and development cycle are much easier to do and should be built into the initial estimate. Cutting corners to force-fit a budget is not worth it in the long run.

Please feel free comment on this, or contact me with questions.

At HighTouch, we sweat the details.

How is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, Email Marketing and YouTube Affecting Your Business

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Every month I like to reflect on how my on-line marketing efforts are working with my Social Media efforts and my website.  Here are tools I use, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogging. I have 3 Twitter Accounts, 2 Facebook Accounts, 2 Facebook Pages, 1 LinkedIn Account and 2 Blogs I maintain. Now these are not all my main business accounts with HighTouch Marketing and Design, I also have a passion for Wine in which that is another set of accounts in this mix.  I know what you are thinking..."How does she manage all those accounts?"  HootSuite is what I use, but TweetDeck is also another great tool.

So with all these accounts what is my goal for my business and my passion?  To drive traffic to them! Why? Why would you spend all this time on these marketing efforts and not have a plan?  If you are just aimlessly out there "Playing" then you are not serious about your business. If your goal is not to get more people to your website to find out about you and then to get them to convert to a lead/sale then you really need to stop your efforts. 

Converting a Lead/Sale is different for everyone. With my company HighTouch, my goal is to create traffic to my site so I can convert someone into getting a website redesigned or created and to help that customer market their business.  My Wine site on the other hand, a Lead/Sale is different.  Right now I am working on name recognition, trust and winery profiles. So a conversion can be different for the type of business you are in.

Tracking your efforts

There are great tools like Google Analytics, it is FREE, that you can use to track the traffic on your site, where people are coming from, what they are clicking on, etc.  Tracking your efforts is as important as the actual effort.  You can track all your social media and blogging efforts here as well as putting links on your site to drive traffic to those particular venues.

Here are some Cool Stats from my friend at Bonsai Interactive Marketing. Pay close attention as these stats show you that people are out there and they are searching for you.  What will they see when they find you?

Facebook Stats:

  • The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts,
  • notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared each month.
  • More than 150 million people engage with Facebook on external websites
  • every month.
  • There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook
  • through their mobile devices.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events.
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

Twitter Stats:

  • Twitter’s web platform only accounts for a quarter of its users – 75% use
  • third-party apps.
  • Twitter gets more than 300,000 new users every day.
  • There are currently 110 million users of Twitter’s services.
  • Twitter receives 180 million unique visits each month.
  • There are more than 600 million searches on Twitter every day.
  • Over 60% of Twitter use is outside the U.S.
  • More than a third of users access Twitter via their mobile phone

LinkedIn Stats:

  • LinkedIn is the oldest of the four sites in this ebook, having been created
  • on May 5 2003.
  • here are more than 70 million users worldwide.
  • Members of LinkedIn come from more than 200 countries from every
  • continent.
  • 80% of companies use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every second.
  • LinkedIn receives almost 12 million unique visitors per day.
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn.

Blogging Stats:

  • 77% of Internet users read blogs.
  • 60% of bloggers are between the ages 18-44.
  • One in five bloggers update their blogs daily.
  • Two thirds of bloggers are male.
  • Corporate blogging accounts for 14% of blogs.
  • 15% of bloggers spend 10 hours a week blogging.
  • More than 50% of bloggers have more than one blog.
  • Bloggers use an average of five different social sites to drive traffic to
  • their blog.

YouTube Stats:

  • The very first video uploaded was on 23rd April 2005.
  • By June 2006, more than 65,000 videos were being uploaded every day.
  • YouTube receives more than 2 billion viewers per day.
  • The U.S. accounts for 70% of YouTube users.

So what's the point to all this?  The point or rather the questions are:

  • Are you using On-line Marketing to drive traffic to your site?
  • Are you tracking your efforts?
  • What changes have you noticed, good or bad?
photo credit, jaxxshirts.com


Who's Talking About You and Are you Aware of it

Kim Kolb - Sunday, October 24, 2010

Now that Social Media has been around for a awhile, and I say awhile meaning around 2 years for most people that will acknowledge it. There are still businesses out there dragging their feet at even attempting the use of Social Media.  

If you haven't embraced it in some manner, what's holding you back? Do you know if people are talking about you?  What if someone is giving you a compliment right now and you don't know it? Worse is if someone is complaining about you and again you don't know it.  How do you try to fix something you don't know is happening?

The following story is a true story that happened to a friend.  This person lives in a small town in Bend, OR.  He has frequented a particular coffee shop every day, 365 days a year.  He say's he spends about $1,400 a year at this place.  It is a ritual to stop in, and yes everyone knows him.

On one particular morning he went in to order his usual (he orders the same thing every day) and they tell him that they are out of one of the items that is needed to make his drink.  He is fine with this and asks that they order more.  The next day he goes in and they still don't have the item.  He gives the manager $20 to go buy some at the local store for the next morning.  He comes back yet again the next morning and before he could get out of his car, the manager comes running out and gives him his $20 back and tells him not to come back.  

To me this was an easy fix.  Take the $20 go buy the item and make the customer happy.. Nope, not in this case.  Here is where it gets really good.

Immediately my friend who has been a loyal customer for years has now been insulted and made to feel like he is not valued as a customer and worse, made to feel that his offer of help was really not wanted.

Here is where you as a business can't afford to let this go unchecked.

My friend immediate got a Yelp account and started telling the world about this incident.  He was blogging about it and telling people what crappy customer service he had received after being a loyal customer.

It took about two weeks and after checking back on his Yelp account, the coffee shop has made amends and my friend is back to his regular routine.  Obviously they heard the lesson loud and clear and decided to fix this problem quickly so they wouldn't lose a loyal customer.

This is not just for those in the "service" industry, but for every business.  If you aren't listening you can't be certain what is being said.

It is like that old commercial "You tell two friends, then they tell two friends, etc" get the point?

I am not saying you have to have a Yelp account, although it isn't a bad idea, I am talking more like Facebook and Twitter.  There are more people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn than you would think.  This is where people start their searches.

My advice.  Start somewhere.  Engage your clients/customers and start listening and interacting.

What are you doing to ensure you hear your customers?

photo credit : The Freeman

If Your Own Dog Food Tastes Bad, Tweak The Recipe

Dave Kolb - Monday, August 30, 2010

As a small business owner, the easiest, yet often overlooked question you can ask yourself is: would I buy my own stuff. In other words, does my dog food still taste good? Asking this question should NOT put into question "why you are in business" but rather, "is your business headed in the right direction."

It's a question, if asked, will shed light on the value of your products and services...especially in a down-cycle. The key to having a successful brand of dog food is to stay steady in both good and bad times; and the only way to achieve this balance is to eat your own dog food often, oh and by the way...pretend you are paying for it. Evaluate this regularly and adjust accordingly.

Do you even eat your own dog food

Say you've developed an online accounting web application, but use Quickbooks to manage your business. Why? Because you always have, not enough time to convert, too complex, or "the classic", our product was not designed for businesses like ours? Really? If YOU don't use your own product, it's NOT GOOD ENOUGH for me...end of story.

Try becoming a "real" customer

Say you charge $49 per month for your service. Try becoming a customer. No really...become a paying customer. Go through the sign-up process and have your account debited every month for $49. How does it feel when you get your credit card statement? Does it hurt? Do you cringe, or is it a no-brainer? You'll know if you're charging too much or too little, but one thing is certain.

Eating your own dog food brings perspective and might just jumpstart your business out of a down-cycle. It will reveal your strengths and weaknesses in a heartbeat, and might just be the best elixir you've tasted in years.

No Really, I Don't Want to be Served Your Content

Kim Kolb - Monday, August 23, 2010

I got to your website and really liked what I saw and wanted to subscribe to your RSS feed, but couldn't find one. So I wanted to contact you and couldn't find where to do that, then I tried to comment on a current blog and you needed to moderate my comment. REALLY??

Sorry, today I have had it! I am on a rant! I am going to point some "general fingers". I have been a Certified Inbound Marketer, trained by the best at HubSpot and their partners! I learned that a Blog is soooo very important to you getting found. Why? Because of all the Remarkable Content you have put into it. So, I think I have a pretty good knowledge of what I am talking about.

On with the story. Okay, so I am a wine enthusiast for some time now. Particularly with Colorado Wines, if you are interested in my passion, Cheers!, if not keep reading. So, I get ahold of some blog articles that really spoke to me. What is the natural thing to do if you like something? Follow it, Like it or Subscribe to it, right? Right, but in this case the RSS feed link just went back to the blog, or sometimes there are no RSS feeds. I have even sent a comment asking where the Feed is and nothing. Or what is even better is when I make a comment and it says, "Your comment will display after it has been moderated", REALLY?

What ever happened to spontaneous and true emotion? If I leave a comment, good, bad or indifferent, suck it up and take it!

Don't make a post or ask a question if you can't take the answer!

So with that all said, am I on target or did the rules change and I missed the boat? Do you find that people who try to Blog and do Social Media don't always do the necessary things?

Kinda goes back to a blog I read from Todd DeFren "Social Media Training on the rise". He said that more companies are doing it themselves instead of hiring consultants to do it for them. This is all fine and good, but maybe companies just need to hire a consultant to be trained the correct way.

Thanks for listening, please give me your feed back. I promise my reader works, you can leave a comment and I won't moderate it except to provide a response! "I can take it, I am a BIG Girl"!

Photo Credit: Bank Innovation

Web Designers and Realtors can learn a lot from each other

Dave Kolb - Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A couple weeks ago I was working out on one of those fancy elliptical machines with a built-in TV. I usually watch ESPN or CNN, but it was a slow news day and I was sick of hearing about the LeBron Decision. Anyway, I surfed on over to HGTV, where I watched an interesting program on how to stage your house to sell it.

Many of their recommendations could be applied to a website re-design:
  1. Consider the curb appeal. You want to make sure your house looks great from the outside. First impressions count. Yard should be mowed, trees trimmed and sidewalks washed. No need to invest in expensive trees, shrubbery, etc.

    Designer's view: Your homepage needs to be clean and inviting. I wouldn't invest in any Flash intros, or fancy animations. People will just walk buy, or ignore them.

  2. Get rid of the clutter and de-personalize. Your house should show like a new home builder's model home. Promote negative space and keep the decorating neutral. Less is more. You want the buyer to focus on the home, not the furniture.

    Designer's view: Whitespace is good and you shouldn't feel compelled to fill all 960 pixels. Most websites have too many distractions and it's hard to simply find a phone number, price, or information about the products or services.
  3. Watch where the eyes go. Walk around your house with a friend or family member and watch where their eyes go. Chances are, they are either going towards something they like, or a flaw they've found.

    Designer's view: Look at your statistics and find out where people are going. If you find they spend a lot of time on the site looking at a lot of pages, chances are—they didn't find what they were looking for. If a lot of your visitors are clicking a conversion button, but not converting—you might have something wrong with your conversion page.
  4. Hire a professional. You're personally invested in your home and it will be very hard to step away and follow simple staging guidelines. You'll also probably spend too much money because you don't know where the deals are and what will get you the most bang for your buck.

    Designer's view: If you are considering building a new website, or are re-designing one, hire a professional. Define your budget up front and find someone to work with who can work within a pre-defined budget. Remember, websites take ongoing maintenance so make sure you budget for that to. Nowadays, a Content Management System, or a Blogging Platform can be implemented so you can do most the maintenance yourself.

Now here's a hint for all the Realtor's out there:

Go look at your website. Is it staged properly? Most Realtor websites I go to are cluttered, unorganized and look like they were designed by SEO Specialists, not Web Designers.

My advise to Realtors is to eat your own dog food. Follow your own advise on staging to get your websites to look and function better.

Please feel free to add comments below:

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