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  • 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Landing Pages

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 by
    5 Tips for Optimizing Your Landing Pages Your homepage is a landing page, your product features page is a landing page, even the pricing page is a landing page. Any page that features call-to-action buttons to signup as a customer can be considered a landing page, but certainly others are more concise and specific than the rest. Typically it is the product's main feature page that gets the most optimization care, because that's the page that drives the most sales, based on the fact that it has an actionable intention. Landing page optimization is all about User Experience and User Interface, although our product can be amazing and solve a lot of problems for our customers, a poorly executed landing page will not drive the same amount of leads that a fully optimized landing page would. And what is the criteria for a good landing page anyway?

    1. Setup an analytics platform

    Google Analytics is a good start, it will give you all the necessary insight about your visitors and some of their demographic information, but for more concise analytics it's best to look into specifically built marketing solutions that can analyze data such as user live interaction, their browsing history on your landing pages, as well as their potential previous interactions with your landing page. All of which will give you a much more broad and clear understanding of how your landing page is being used.

    2. Optimize for sales

    There's little to no value in optimizing a landing page for search engines, if the landing page doesn't perform well in front of live visitors. Search optimization is only a means of acquiring new and organic visitors, what happens next is their live experience with the landing page that you're offering. If the experience is poor, so will be the number of sales. The best way to go about optimizing for sales is to understand basic principles of UX and UI, GoodUI is one such resource that offers several dozens of concise User Experience and User Interface tips that will let you optimize your landing pages for maximum conversion potential.

    3. Remember the basics

    "What problem are you trying to solve with your service and whose problem is that exactly? The answers to these questions will help you identify who your target audience is. And once you’ve found that out, you then need to spend every waking moment researching on what exactly your audience wants." - Fahad Muhammad Your first landing page will be bad, there's no other way to go about it. Mistakes will be made, and changes will need to be done on almost daily basis, until some time a solid landing page forms and you can begin to start testing its performance. However, we have to emphasize the fact that all landing pages share common traits, components that make a landing page what it is, and without these components, the customer can easily get lost:
    • Headline, and sub-headline (optional).
    • Description that explains the value behind the offer.
    • A self-explanatory image to reflect the product.
    • A number of elements that portray quotes and/or testimonials.
    • A form that can be used to gather visitors details. (pre-sales)
    Any other components are completely up to you and your own personal preference and/or experience, since there's no shortage of landing page examples on the web, inspiration can be gained everywhere.

    4. Limit the navigation options

    The job of a landing page is to keep the visitors attention focused on the copy of the landing page and what it is trying to offer, having a full-blown navigation menu available at the top of the page might be used as a means of exiting the page and thus eliminating any possibility of a sale to happen. This can also be seen as distraction. If you're serious about making sales and increasing conversion rates with your landing page, get rid of the menu and see what happens!

    5. Social proof

    One of the best ways to optimize a landing page is by enabling social proof. This can come in forms of testimonials, quotes and case studies that come from your existing customers. You might be wondering, how do I gain access to these? The best way is to reach out to your existing customers and ask them kindly to do some reviews for you so that you can use them on your landing page. This has been a proven technique for increasing sales through your landing page by the means of establishing credibility.
  • Top Tips For Spotting Comment Spammers

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 by
    Top Tips for Spotting Comment Spammers
    User generated comments and reviews are a good indicator of the quality of any blog or site. Engaged users creates a more dynamic website which is both more inviting and valuable. Yet, not all comments are genuine. Link builders and competitors often use comment spamming as a tool for link building and reputation management. So how can you tell if a comment is genuine or if your blog is being used for someone else’s marketing efforts? Be aware that deleting every negative review or comment you don’t like could result in a page that is too polished and users will mistrust. Only delete as a final resort when you are sure it is fake. Here are some top tips for spotting fake reviews and comments.  

    Look At The Text

    Before anything else, read the comment; you will already have a feeling if something is off. Link commenting is oftentimes outsourced to countries where English is not the primary language. If the comment has broken English to the point that you cannot make head or tails of it but it has a link, it is most probably the work of a link builder. These you should delete as it lowers the quality of the page. You should also select the text of the comment and do a search of it, oftentimes link builders reuse the same text across multiple sites for both comments and reviews. Keep an eye out for links to unrelated sites or download pages. Merchants and their competitors will oftentimes comment spam as a strategy for reputation management or to tarnish the competition. You can easily spot this by looking out for blatant ‘Marketing Speak.’ Merchants will include their brand name in addition to the product name several times across the review, no organic user would do this. They will also do a shoebox broadcasting of features rather than discussing the product. A review like this is a clear red flag: “I was a loyal (insert ‘name of competitor’) user for years, a friend made me try (insert ‘name of brand’s ‘name of product’) and I was totally blown away. I especially loved feature ‘X’, (insert ‘name of brand’s ‘name of product’) is the only one for me. I am never going back to (insert ‘name of competitor’).” Merchants will also often go for the oversell so keep a wary eye for overly impassioned users. You should look primarily at 5 star and 1 star ratings as well as any reviews that are written in ALL CAPS. So reviews that read, “THIS IS TERRIBLE IT DOES NOT WORK!!!!!” Or, “These headphones are NOT as advertised! It said it would last 2 years guaranteed. Well I have been using it for 4!!” Also be suspicious of a vague review that is not specific to the product, but rather a push for the company.  

    Look At The User

    One of the advantages of managing reviews and comments through WordPress and similar platforms is the ability to easily eyeball who is commenting. You can easily see if different reviews are from the same IP or email address. Keep a wary eye out for obviously fake email addresses and usernames with 3+ numbers in them, these are oftentimes computer generated bots and pretty easy to spot. The comments or reviews would be generic and of no value with something like, “This is great, thanks!” Or, “really interesting read.” For these bots the comment would sometimes contain excerpted text from the article the comment is on, or sentences that drop off in the middle. If you are unsure of the user, do a quick search for other comments or reviews they have written. Link builders will have used the same username across multiple sites. Not only will you be able to spot carbon copy reviews across sites but the same will show obvious inconsistencies such as the recommendation to try product X came from interchanging genders, ‘when my husband recommended’ then, ‘when my wife recommended’. All in all just trust your instincts, you will be able to smell a fishy comment a mile off. Deleting comments should never be a first choice, but if they are of no value than you are better off without them.  
    *****
    Author Bio: Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Twitter: @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.  
    Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hhoyer/4068770993/in/photolist-7cxvS2-7MiMys-e2VdRY-7EgfX1-gU8VKd-f9cTEV-vNMUL-9Gdjj5-6je5ZS-2SgvEj-7XPs25-8yQxug-7j9Md5-hd2aeT-awvM9C-pke8X-9gfNiF-2g4jpR-2VTXqC-di4stG-auw7hY-8RMVu3-5JZD6x-9VDGEN-bmFfGb-9QWLT4-nwghkJ-awvMof-awvKSb-8HSpRD-6oh2X2-5jE1Jq-5BWNDz-bUgBy5-PyTv5-9w7da5-9U5kcg-C969c-8BVwhT-5dxRx-8CutQH-fwa4fR-4R8X44-8XxFns-9h5GU6-2K4rm-ebPHcv-2TvqGd-ahmJzB-ebVnU9
  • What Makes Ruby On Rails Special?

    Thursday, October 29, 2015 by
    What Makes Ruby on Rails Special
    Ruby on Rails (ROR) was first released on December 12, 2005. Since then, it has been a hot commodity for developers and users alike. It’s an open-source web application and full-stack framework using the programming language called “Ruby,” hence the name. What are some of the engineering patterns it uses? Here are just a few:
    • Convention Over Configuration (CoC)
    • Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY)
    • Active Record Pattern
    • Modern View Controller (MVC) –organizes application programming
    Why do developers choose to use ROR? For the most part, it can take hundreds or thousands of hours to create the app of your dreams. ROR cuts down on work with faster development time. Additionally, it has an extensive library of what are called “Gems,” that can add a bevy of functionality. Moreover, automated testing is available to let you test code as you write it.  

    What Ruby Offers

    With Ruby On Rails, the learning curve is relatively short. Its’ syntax makes the constructs stream logically, and with vibrancy. Currently there are over 200,000 sites supported by Ruby On Rails. There is also the benefit if offers with its modular design. For instance, the gems library is similar to that of a WordPress plugin. You can use gems to perform actions such as creating PDF files, displaying map data, and social media interactions. Additionally, you are given login/logout options as well as integrations with email and/or text messages.  

    What Can It Do?

    The depth that comes along with using Ruby is mind-boggling. Here are some of the features available:
    • URL – You can adapt or develop search engine adaptive URLs
    • Active Records – This development program includes database active library and will automatically map tables to rows and also classes in objects.
    • Debug Applications – Ruby on Rails gives you specific and detailed error logs so you can easily debug all your applications.
    • Tightened Security – Ruby takes away the burden of having to use the ‘h’ method. It now escapes all input by default and if you want to ‘un-escape’ data you simply use the ‘RAW’ method.
    • Bundler – This is a useful new feature to Ruby and helps you manage your dependencies. Just add a line for the gems you need within your gem file, and it will download & configure all gems you need for the project.
    • Action Mailer – This function has been simplified to send mail with ease. Default settings can now be optionally overwritten. It comes with cleaner APIs, and you can also retrieve and manipulate ‘mail’ objects before their delivery.
    • Store Components – Create modularized templates and add components or store your reusable code.
     

    Quicker Development

    Convention over Configuration does exactly as it states. With other programing languages, developers need to spend an extensive amount of time on how their code will communicate with the database. This is also true for the exact file structure for the project, and the wide variety settings needed for configuration files. However, CoC offers what is called “sensible defaults.” These are conventions that already work with a number of applications. This means you spend less time setting up the project and can focus more on any possible issues. Moreover, with the DRY feature, you no longer have to worry about replicating code over and over again. Instead, you write the code once and can use it where needed. It also makes things more convenient for future code changes.  

    What You Need To Know

    If you already have basic or advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS, then learning ROR should not be an issue for you. If you don't, then you should start learning those two languages first. The good news is that they are also quite easy to comprehend and practice. Once you learn the ins and outs of ROR, it might start feel like second nature. Not to mention, it is quite enjoyable. There are a wide variety of resources available, whether it be taking online courses or reading instructional books. Most tools offer straightforward approaches to learning the structure of this dynamic language. In addition to its many advantages, ROR can make it more cost-effective to create and maintain a site and/or application. You will be able to create feature-rich constructions without as much output as one might have expected. Then, if you want additional features, they can be added rather quickly and conveniently. When you consider the power and convenience of ROR, it’s no wonder why they were chosen in the development of platforms such Twitter, Shopify and Basecamp. Their active community is helpful for those new to ROR, making it even more enticing for intrigued developers to test out.  
    *****
    Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Twitter: @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.  
    Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nez/177722693/
     
  • 5 Reasons Your Website Is Turning Off Your Customers

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015 by
    5 Reasons Your Website Is Turning Off Your Customers
    You know that having a website is an important asset for your business. However, if you have very low conversion rates, or have been seeing a steady decrease in traffic it might be time to fix your website. The web is constantly evolving, and your site needs to be up to the current web standards and user preferences if you want to keep your visitors happy. Below you’ll find a series of problems that a lot of websites currently fall victim to. If you’re committing any of the following mistakes it’s important to fix them as soon as possible.  

    1. Slow Loading Speeds

    Most web users are becoming more and more accustomed to fast loading speeds. This means that when your site loads slowly you’re testing your visitor’s patience. In most cases they’ll hit the back button, instead of waiting for the site to load. Having a website that loads slowly can also lead to lowered search engines rankings, as Google factors in page loading speed into their search engine rankings algorithm. Put simply, your website must load quickly and cater to the fastest internet connections.  

    2. No Mobile Optimization

    Our world is becoming increasingly mobile. Mobile Internet usage is only continuing to increase and it shows no sign of slowing down. So, if your site isn’t optimized for the mobile web your users aren’t even going to attempt to navigate your website. When creating a separate mobile website, or are optimizing your current website it’s important that you consider every possible interactive element and piece of your website. For instance, some ads may not display properly, so you’ll want to ensure they won’t display on certain screen sizes.  

    3. Poor Photography

    Stock photography is dead. If you’re using dated stock photos your visitors will be able to tell and it will make your website feel cheesy. However, keep in mind that not all stock photography will have a negative impact on your website. Using images is a great way to create a more emotional experience for your user, but just make sure they’re high quality, unique, and showcase your actual business or products.  

    4. Keyword Stuffed Copy

    Over a decade ago you could get away with having walls of keyword stuffed text across your website. Most web copy was written for the search engine robots, not human beings. However, those times are long gone and your copy needs to reflect this. If your web copy speaks to the search engines more than your readers, you’ll actually see your rankings start to decline. Keywords are still important, but even more important is making a connection to your visitors. The only way to do this is to write copy that’s geared towards your visitors and their needs.  

    5. Too Much Clutter

    When it comes to your website less is always better than more. Even though it can be tempting to hit your visitors with everything at once, and embed interactive widgets, this will lead to nothing but overwhelm. Think about your visitor every step of the way, and engineer your site towards the best user experience for them. By taking time to fix the mistakes above, your site will start to see higher levels of traffic, and increased levels of engagement across the board.
  • 9 Best Practices For Social Based Customer Care

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015 by
    9 best practices for social based customer care
    It is no question that social channels can be an extremely valuable tool for a business. It not only increases brand awareness and connects you to potential users, but gives you a direct channel to your current users as well. Yet, as the saying goes, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ Now that you are talking to your users, know that your users are talking to you, and it is not always positive. Using social media as a tool for customer care not only let users feel heard in a medium they feel comfortable with, but it also sends the right signals to potential customers about how you treat your users. Here are some best practices to doing this properly.  

    1. Don’t Disregard The Issue

    Everyone wants to be heard, and a generic, “take a look at our FAQ’s page for answers to most of your issues,” is just useless enough for your user to look elsewhere. Put a pinned comment at the top of your Facebook page, or in your twitter bio, that sends user to try your customer care channels first. Many may ignore it, but a number will listen and be dealt with there, only coming back if the problem persists. You may need to try harder to keep them happy after the process but at least it isn’t clogging up your social feed.  

    2. Treat Your Users As People Not Problems

    Don’t be afraid to banter and have an informal chat, as long as you don’t make it inappropriate or too personal for a public forum. Users respond to the human element and will have a more positive impression than if they receive generic, robotic answers. Look at your user’s basic information. The instructions you give to a tech-savvy teen, would not be appropriate for someone with less technology experience. Adapt your support accordingly.  

    3. Keep It Short And Sweet

    You need to keep you user engaged, the worst kind of service is one that is met by the sound of crickets because you have lost your audience 4 tweets ago. Make sure your answers are informative but do not drag on longer than necessary. If you can be as effective with three words as using a paragraph, opt for the three. You will maintain your audience’s attention span and not make them feel that their time has been wasted with superfluous information.  

    4. Don’t Be Afraid To Take It Elsewhere

    Some issues are universal and your reply could be of value to all users, if this is not the case, then you should carry on the conversation in a direct message or through email. If they have opened a support ticket before contacting you, take their ticket number and flag it up with your support staff to be prioritized.  

    5. Give Clear Answers

    Try to make your post, tweet or Facebook message as informative as possible. Be aware that talking on your Facebook homepage or through main twitter channels means that anyone can see your interaction. Both current and potential users can be listening, and your decorum can be a make or break for some of them. Make sure not only that you are patient and helpful, but also that you are using proper grammar and punctuation. When someone’s account is frozen, it is not the time to bombard them with emojis.  

    6. Look Out For The Little Guy

    There will always be that shy user that will post once, oftentimes as part of an unrelated thread that will get lost unless you are actively looking out for them. Signaling them out and answering their issues or concerns sets you apart from much of the competition, and lets the user feel important which could result in lifelong loyalty.  

    7. Deal With Complaints

    Some users are out for blood, ignoring a negative comment can be more disastrous than you realize. Be warned that some users may use their social following to bombard you page or ‘trash’ your brand. They can do this by creating inflammatory hashtags or posting multiple comments across all of your social channels. Early intervention is key here.  

    8. Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

    Not all users on your social channels are what they seem. Keep a sharp eye out for competitors looking to harm your brand, and destroy your service’s reputation. If you are sure a user is not what they seem, and they are becoming more hassle than their worth, don’t be afraid to block them from your account. You should only do this as a last resort! A perfect page looks fake, and will cause you to loose trust from potential users.  

    9. Manage Expectations

    If you are a small business, no one expects you to have a large social media support team. Be honest with your audience and don’t spread yourself too thin. If users know that it could take up to a few days to have their complaint attended to, their expectations will be better managed and they are less likely to be fed-up and leave. Just be sure to keep your promises, if you say it will be up to two days, make sure it is.  
    *****
    Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Twitter: @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.  
    Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosauraochoa/3256859352/in/photolist-5XNfPs-dUmKE4-amC4jN-6mYWTq-aFy3bt-dZxNRq-6u2DBs-5XJ1Qc-9eVCSc-99BVQZ-9MoWtb-9hNywz-9x7H6Z-8bspY4-4oUWXS-6DtPYC-axnKy3-6u2Dkq-7rY7do-6qPE85-7YNkeA-7YNkh5-8Q7LKc-8Q7LSH-8Q7LZ4-8QaSeA-9yMPBV-71ZNv4-8NyVNa-yv3t2-6tXvgR-6qPE89-7oytoK-8H6Z3P-6qPE8f-aucWr1-dU7Cn1-9iAUEF-9iAVoa-9iAVf2-9iE4fm-9iATSR-9iE2eb-9iE3uw-9iAWvP-9iATHv-9iAUmz-9iAUY2-9iE4od-9iE47b