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How to get better results with email marketing

Posted by: on Sunday, February 17, 2013

Email marketing has been a part of online marketing efforts for years now. But, Internet users have become extremely leery of it. They do not want to get a email box full of spam from a company that they visited once. Website visitors have become more and more hesitant of providing their email addresses to any website. 

If you are lucky enough to get the email address of a customer or a lead, you need to use it carefully. Sending too many emails or low quality ones will backfire and get people to drop you from their email. If you are doing a website redesign, you should update your email marketing efforts to coincide. 

Here are a few tips on how to get better results with email marketing:

1. Optimize the Subject Line
Your subject line will be the first thing your recipient sees when they open their mail. If they see a generic subject line, they will not open it. Your subject line needs to say who you are and what the email is about. For example: "The Top Weekly Tips and Ideas from Company X" instead of "Your Newsletter."

2. Make Sure Your Sender Name Shows Your Name
A major reason for people deleting emails is not knowing who the sender is. You need to be upfront and put your name on the email. Your sender name should be something like "John Smith, Founder of X Company" instead of "John" or "X Company." You want to give a sense of professionalism and openness to your leads. 

3. Less Content is More
Much like a web page, people open emails and want to get the important details right away. A long drawn out email with tons of pictures and text will make people close the email as fast as they open it. Your email should be to the point and offer a link to the website for more information. 

4. Do Not Send Single Image, Flyer, or Link without Reference
Spam often contains a single image, or a single link, or a single flyer without any text. Many email users will see an email like that and automatically delete it or send it to their spam folder. That is the last thing you want to do. Make sure you provide a formatted email with text to avoid that problem. It might take more time, but the results will speak for themselves.

5. Invite Recipient to Read More on Website
Related to Tip #3, you want to give the recipient a call to action within the email. That CTA should provide an invitation and link to read more about what you are talking about on the website. That link will go to a landing page where the email recipient can get the details your email hinted at. When doing your website redesign, you can add landing pages where people will come to see more information.

6. Time of Day is Critical
Did you know that most email goes out in the morning before noon? But, most people do not open the bulk of their email until afternoon or evening. So, if you want your email to be at the top of the pile and opened quickly, sending it in the afternoon is actually a better idea. There are also more popular days of the week. 

These tips show you how you can make your email marketing campaigns be more effective. With a few changes to your email marketing, you should see more leads coming in and more leads converting to sales. That can interlock beautifully with your website redesign efforts. Give your marketing a new face and a new strategy.

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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing Results

Posted by: on Friday, February 15, 2013

How are your online marketing results doing? Anyone who runs a business online needs to have an eye on how well their marketing efforts are going. If you have not done so recently, you need to take a look. You may be surprised that your current efforts are not giving you the results you want. If you are thinking about doing a website redesign, improving your online marketing results should be a primary goal for the effort. 

Here are five ways to improve your online marketing results:

1. Better Calls to Action
A call-to-action is any action you want the visitor to take while on your site. Simply putting a button on the page is not enough. If you want your visitors to do something specific, such as share their name and email address, you have to give them a reason to do so. Using better calls to action will improve your lead numbers and give you leads from highly qualified visitors. 

2. Amazing Landing Pages
Landing pages give your visitors a special place to come to rest on your site. They have likely done a search on Google or a similar search engine and came across your site as one of interest. Ideally, your landing pages should target a specific keyword or product. For example, if you sell auto parts, you may need a landing page for each part manufacturer or car brand. Landing pages need to address the specific needs the customer is looking for and hint at much more available on the rest of the site.

3. Lead Nurturing
With good landing pages and better calls to action, you will likely see your lead numbers going up. And the quality of those leads is going to be higher. The next step in your online marketing efforts is lead nurturing. You want to nurture leads so they become sales. You need to build trust with your leads by building a relationship with them. That happens through quality content and social media interaction.

4. Have a Great Blog
You may already have a blog that you update on occasion. But, when doing a website redesign, it is the time to take your average blog to the next level. Blogs offer so many opportunities to build relationships with leads, new visitors, and existing customers. The most important things to remember with a blog is provide quality content, regular updates, and make your visitors want to come back to see what else you might have to offer. Read: Facts about Blogs

5. Participate in Social Media
You may have been avoiding going on Facebook or using Twitter. Social media is not a passing fad. It is a force you should embrace. If you want to improve your online marketing efforts, you need to embrace at least a few social media channels. As part of your redesign, integrate them into your website and your marketing efforts. You will start to develop a following and those followers are more likely to share your company with others.

A website redesign is the perfect time to take a fresh look at your online marketing strategy. It offers an opportunity to see how you are currently doing and set goals on where you want to go. With those goals in mind, you can get going with your redesign efforts and see the results you expect. 

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What's the deal with mobile responsive websites?

Posted by: on Friday, February 15, 2013

Should you redesign your website with a mobile responsive feature? Watch this video and see if it would make sense for you.

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6 questions to help you define your target customer

Posted by: on Thursday, February 14, 2013

Improving your online marketing strategy should be a part of any website redesign effort. One important part of this is to define your target customer. When you understand your ideal customer, you can refine your website, its content, and the SEO efforts around it. Those efforts will get highly qualified customers to start visiting your website.

How can you define your ideal customer?

The best approach is actually to ask your customers some questions. Ask some of your best customers to fill out a survey. If you cannot ask these questions of your customers or do not want to bother them with a survey, you need to answer them yourself. 

Here are some questions to get you thinking about your target customer:

  1. Where do they hang out? 
    College students will have different hangouts than 40-somethings with older children. Urban populations will have different places to visit than those who live in suburbia. Knowing the types of places your ideal customer frequents let's you know their priorities and what kinds of products or services they are likely to use.
     
  2. What is their age range? 
    A person's age tells much about their priorities and current focus in life, as well as something about their likes and dislikes. Someone fresh out of college will have different priorities from those close to retirement age. Teenagers will have different interests than their parents or grandparents.
     
  3. What do they read?
    Older people still read newspapers and print media. The younger generations read news and other articles online. Some people like fiction; others like non-fiction. Reading preferences differ between men and women in some cases. Getting an idea of reading preferences shows what products or services may be of interest.
     
  4. What do they listen to? 
    Like knowing what your target customer reads, knowing what they like to listen to gives you insight into their personality. Hip-hop enthusiasts are usually a different crowd than those who enjoy classical music. Lovers of classic rock are different than those who enjoy old-time jazz. Those that listen to talk radio have a different focus than those who listen to audio books.

  5. What do they search online?
    An individual's interests can be wide ranging. But most have common searches they do routinely. These searches could be for favorite products like music or movies. Their searches may be related to their work. Business people search different keywords than the scientific crowd. Knowing what they search can give you insight into keywords.
     
  6. Where do they shop?
    Obviously, you want your ideal customer to shop at your business. But, where else do they spend their money? Spending money on toys and games is different from spending money on household goods. Knowing your customers' shopping preferences gives you insight into their spending habits and what attracts them to a business.

All of this information gives you insight into the target audience you want to attract to your website. What you may find is that you have more than one target customer. Many companies offer services or products that take in multiple groups of people. Identifying all of your ideal customers helps refine your online message. Ask these questions of a wide range of customers before you website redesign to find out if you have more than one ideal type.

When going through a website redesign, you need your target audience clearly defined before you begin the design process. What you learn with those questions will guide your content, your SEO focus, and even your color/theme choices. Take the time up front and give your redesign the focus you want.


 

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7 Point Checklist for Your Website Redesign

Posted by: on Friday, February 8, 2013

A professional website redesign is more than just adding new graphics and a new color scheme to your current site. You need to look at where you are now and decide where you want to go with the new design. You need to know what you like and what you do not like. You need to know what your competition is up to and how you want to counter that. All of this is part of a solid redesign effort. 

To help focus your efforts, here is a seven-point checklist for your website redesign:

  1. Current Traffic Statistics - You need up to date numbers about your current website traffic. That will tell you what is actually working on your site and what is not. One of the hardest things to face in a redesign is the reality of your current website. The numbers do not lie. During the redesign process, it is important to stay focused on facts, not feelings.
     
  2. Current Site Map - Look at your current site map. Determine what you want to keep. Determine what needs to go. Create a list of what you want to add. Creating new content and editing old content is part of the process in the redesign. It will bring in new visitors. It will bring new interest to your former clients. You will have the opportunity to bring a few new look and feel to what your customers see.
     
  3. Current Logo - You will need a copy of your logo in a high-resolution, Photoshop format. This file will allow the website professionals to merge it easily into your new website graphics. If you want to update your logo, now is the time. You can create an entirely new logo or just revamp and update your current one.
     
  4. Current Domain Name Registrar - This piece of information is critical to getting your new website up and running. If you do not have this information, contact your current website provider and get it. Without it, no website redesign efforts will work.

  5. Your Top Ten Websites - One way to make the redesign process easier is to create a list of five to ten websites you like. Make note of why you like them. You might have one site where you love their graphics and colors. Another site might have great content. A third site may have a natural easy flow you love.

  6. Your Top Five Competition Websites - You are competing with these companies. You need to understand your competition almost as well as you do your own site. You want to know their content and their marketing.

  7. Your Website Redesign Goals - What is your ultimate goal with your new website design? You may want to increase your website traffic. You may want to attract new customers. You might want to introduce new products or services. Create a list of realistic goals you want to meet with your redesign efforts.

BONUS

  • Your Top Three Website Design Agencies - Create a list of three web design agencies to interview. Take the time to interview each one carefully. You want a company that knows that a redesign is more than a cosmetic update.

You can use this checklist to prepare for your redesign. Take the time up front to get the information gathered and to choose the right web agency. It might seem like a lot to do, but the effort is well worth it when you seen your new website premiere. 

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5 New Items Your Website Redesign Should Have

Posted by: on Thursday, February 7, 2013

Can you pinpoint the year your website went live? It might be the year you opened your business. It might be a decade ago when you realized you needed some sort of web page. It might be five years ago when you upgraded your single web page to a multi-page site. No matter when that website appeared, you need to consider a website redesign every two to three years to stay up on modern design and technology. 

Here are five things you need to make sure are part of your next website redesign:

1. Mobile Responsiveness
Mobile devices are rapidly overtaking both laptops and desktops for web browsing. If your website is not friendly to mobile browsing, consumers will go elsewhere. When you are doing a redesign, it is very important to make sure your website works well on the smaller browser windows of a smart phone or a tablet. 

2. Optimized Landing Pages
In the past, most visitors would enter your site through the home page. Today, that is not the case. You can have multiple entry points to your website. These landing pages offer a place for people to look at specific information you are offering. Let's say you offer car parts for both new and old cars. You can have a landing page for new cars and a separate one for old ones. These landing pages have a design optimized to gather traffic and route it into your larger site.

3. Clear Call-to-Actions Throughout
Vague requests and mild requests do not do the job when it comes to gathering leads and getting sales on your website. Your website needs clear calls to action parsed throughout the entire site. If you want to get lead information, your landing page should guide the visitor to do that. If you want visitors to check out your catalog of products, then a banner pointing to it is a good way to direct that activity.

4. Blog
You may already have a blog. If you do not, you need to add one in your website redesign. Some people think that blogs are fading away. The reality and facts about blogs is that they are not going anywhere. People like to read entries that interest them. They will follow blogs of companies they like to get information on new products and services, to get tips, and to get ideas for new projects. This is a great way to connect with existing and new customers.

5. Social Media Integration
Do you have a company Twitter and Facebook account? Social media is something almost every company needs to use. Social media is here to stay and a smart company will maximize its use to promote new products/services, to introduce discounts, to award loyal customers, and to offer tips and ideas. 

BONUS - Professional Design

Do not let your website design fall into the hands of amateurs. Your web credibility is more important than you think. A new visitor makes assumptions about your company based on your website. If your website is professional looking, works smoothly, and looks slick, the visitor is more likely to give lead information or to consider making a purchase. If your site is unprofessional or looks sloppy, people make the assumption your company is unprofessional or just doesn't care.

Take your website design seriously. Make sure you integrate the features into your site to grabthe attention of new visitors and to keep the interest of existing ones. Leave the design work to the professionals to make the best impression possible. It is an effort that pays off in the end.

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How to Prepare for a Successful Website Redesign

Posted by: on Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Redesigning a website is a major decision for your company. But, all company websites need a revamp at least once every two to three years to stay fresh and current with technology. When you are ready, there are a few things you can do to make this effort worth the time and money. 

Here is a list of six things to remember when preparing for a website redesign:

  1. Know What You Like
    Take some time to explore your favorite sites. What do you like about them? What do you not like about them? Be sure to explore your competition's websites. Look at websites of different industries. Create a list of ten websites you like. Make note of what you like about them. At the same time, if you come across websites you do not like, make note of those as well. Knowing what you are looking for in a website redesign will make the design process easier. 
     
  2. Know Your Color Scheme
    You may already have a color scheme going on your current website. Do you want to keep it? Do you want to freshen it up? Do you want to go with a completely new one? You need to decide this before you commit to the redesign process. If you decide to go with the current color scheme, great. If you decide to freshen it up, what do you want to change? If you decide to go completely new, what do you want in your new scheme? Be clear in your choice of colors. Know your theme and commit to it. Changing colors in midstream is not a good idea.

  3. Inventory What You Have
    Take a look at your website and inventory what you have. What content do you want to keep? What content do you need to get rid of? Do you need to generate new content? Take a look at your website statistics. Which pages get a great deal of traffic and which do not? All of this information will give you an idea of where the bulk of the work needs to happen. 
     
  4. Have a Site Map Ready
    Your current website has a definite layout. Is it working? Your website needs to flow logically and cleanly. A simple website layout works best. The more complex a site map gets the harder it is for visitors to find the information they want to find. Look at your current map and see if you can simplify it. If you plan on adding new content, you will need to add that to your website map as well.

  5. Determine Your Landing Pages
    Landing pages are the place where people first enter your website. In the past, the main landing page was your home page. But, that is no longer the case. You need to have a landing pad for the major keywords in your niche. You may also have landing pages for different products and services you offer. Your landing pages will lead the visitors to look at other parts of your website. 

  6. Hire Professionals
    If you do nothing else to prepare for your website redesign, you need to hire a professional web design agency. You might think your second cousin can do it. However, if your second cousin is not a professional, your redesign will not give you the results you expect and deserve. A professional agency has the expertise, knowledge, and tools to make your new design exactly what you want and need.


Use these recommendations to make your website redesign a fresh restart for your business. You will find the time, money, and effort well worth it when you have professionals at your side during the entire process.

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Meetings & Tradeshows– There’s A Mobile App for That!

Posted by: on Tuesday, February 5, 2013

In 2000, I made the following prediction at the CIC Forum in Washington DC:

“Mobile phones will morph into ‘widgets’ (wireless internet devices for geo-positioning, ecommerce and telecommunication).”

I went on to forecast that our phones will become web browsers, “Walkmen” (iPods were not invented yet), still/video cameras, GPS systems, email managers, calendar/contact managers, micropayment systems and more.

Here is the actual slide shown at the conference:

meetings widget

What fueled my interest was the potential that mobile applications held for meetings. Meetings are mobile and inherently in need of mobile technology to manage event data!

What a difference a decade makes! All these predictions have come true and mobile apps are now the hottest line of software development. There are hundreds of direct applications for events, tradeshows, associations and venues.  Here are several of the significant ones.

Multipurpose conference applications:

These “Swiss army knife” applications provide multiple tools bundled in one application:

QuickMoble www.quickmobile.com
Quick mobile was the mobile application for the MPI MeetingDifferent and will be for the MPI WEC. It also used at major film festivals including Sundance and Tribeca. Features include: full conference schedule, personal agenda building, area guide (with Frommer’s integration), search capabilities for attendees/speakers/exhibitors, integration with social media including Twitter/Facebook/Pathable and messaging. They build apps for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android and mobile web providing greater ease of use than companies that provide only mobile web versions.

Follow Me www.core-apps.com
Follow Me was the mobile app for the 2010 Consumer Electronic Show, one of the largest shows in the tradeshow industry. Features include a full conference schedule, personal agenda builder, maps, exhibit hall way-finding (you are a dot on the map), course notes/literature pick-up, session alerts, Twitter integration, and sponsorship revenue sharing. They also build native apps for the major smart phones ( iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and mobile web for the rest.

EventKaddy www.eventkaddy.com
Similar to QuickMobile and Follow Me, EventKaddy provide native apps for most  smart phones. Shows include the large 2010 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Features include full conference listings, customized attendee agenda building, attendee networking tools, interactive floor plans/maps, multimedia listings for exhibitors, digital coupons/brochures/course notes (in .pdf), conference alerts from show organizer to attendees, with extensive metrics.

EMA www.epromeetingapps.com
EMA provides multiple-platform mobile web applications (iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and mobile web) including conference agenda, exhibit directory, conference alerts, hotel information, local area resources, attendee messaging and social media integration.

Zerista www.zerista.com
Zerista is as an online networking/ business matchmaking tool, but as now put much of their emphasis on mobile networking apps. Their mobile community application Zerista Pro was used at the Mobile World Congress with more than 20,000 users. Features include mobile web meeting scheduler, attendee directory, personal profiles, attendee matching, social media integration (Twitter/Facebook), personal scheduler, full agenda, exhibitor directory, booth locator, virtual booths, floor plans, and local guides.  

Event Media Concept’s Mobile Conciergewww.eventmediaconcepts.com
Mobile web applications providing conference agenda, exhibit directory, conference alerts, hotel information with GPS mapping/star ratings, local area resources with GPS mapping, attendee messaging and social media integration.  Mobile web applications tend to be slower and not as user-friendly as native applications built for specific phones. On the plus side, nothing needs to be downloaded to have it work.

VisionTree www.visiontree.com
VisionTree is a service company focusing primarily on the pharmaceutical industry.  They provide mobile handsets similar to an audience polling service which can be supplemented by attendees mobile phones.  Features include audience polling, text Q&A, feedback forms, conference agenda, speaker bios.

A2ZInc’s ChirpE www.a2zinc.net
A2ZInc has been a pioneer in web-based exhibit floor plan sales, mapping and management providing services for more than 600 shows per year. They are also developing a mobile application called ChirpE. This mobile web application includes a full conference agenda, event alerts, exhibit guide, exhibit floor plan, social media integration with LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter, and personalized agenda building.

A2Z has gone to great lengths to build a mobile platform that will work well with other mobile and web apps including strong matchmaking tools. They have also built some of the best social media integration and aggregation tools for mobile apps for the events industry.

Meetings2Go http://meetings2go.mobi/
This is another mobile web-based product with agenda, exhibitor information, basic surveys, searchable attendee list, basic city guide, and SMS alert sign-up.

Mission Software http://event-master.com/mobile_phone_service_key_features.html
Mission Software, based in the UK, has Mobile Phone Service providing a range of mobile web and on-demand text services for events including agendas, exhibit information, travel info, SMS messaging, and SMS voting.

Text messaging event information services:

Text messaging has some advantages. It is cheap, is accessible on virtually all mobile phones. Here are two similar products incorporating this technology:

SNIPP www.snipp.com and XIPP www.xnip.comn
These two nearly identical products work like this: Identify everything of interest at an event (people, exhibit products, exhibit booths, course notes, articles, weblinks, etc.) with a unique ID code (e.g. A345B). Then text message this ID code to 76477 (S-N-I-P-P) for Snipp or 29292 (for Xnip). Then attendees can access the information collected anytime via a personal web page at the Snipp.com or Xnip.com websites. This provides inexpensive, paperless, and digital ways of accessing event information.

Audience polling and surveys:

Audience polling devices are a great way of stimulating attendee interaction and finding out what they are thinking. However, traditional keypads can be beyond the budget for many events (from $3-12/person/dar). Phone based polling/survey systems, although not as fast or capable as keypads, can be right for some events.

Traditional surveys methods are problematic. Paper surveys are inefficient in tallying and end in landfills. Web surveys often are captured days after the event when impressions are cold often resulting a low response rate. Alternatively, mobile survey tools are low-cost, low in environmental impact, efficient in data collection and capture the data while the impressions are fresh.

Here are several mobile survey products:

NearPod (www.nearpod.com)
iPod and iPad applications for surveys, data collection, prize give aways, presentation tools, and metric tools with applications for meetings and trade shows.

Validar (www.validar.com)
Validar is primarily an exhibitor lead management/intelligence company. Their SMS Survey product provides text messaging surveys at events. Ask attendees questions about the keynote speaker or solicit advice on which sessions met expectations and which fell short. Attendees can respond to surveys using any SMS-enabled device, such as a PDA, cell phone, or smart phone. This system has the capability to ask answer several questions with one text message, making it more convenient survey tool than those using a separate text message for every question.

Zuku (www.zukuweb.com)
Similar to Validar, Zuku provides low-cost text messaging (SMS) polling and Q&A. Responses can be projected live.

Plug and Poll (www.plugandpoll.com)
Plug and Poll is a Dutch firm providing similar SMS polling services.

PollEverywhere (www.polleverywhere.com)
PollEverywhere provides SMS polling and Q&A sessions. They also integrate with Twitter and mobile web responses, and, as with standard audience polling systems, results can be projected live. These polling questions can be integrated directly into a PowerPoint program making it easy for a speaker to use it. Try it for free for up to 30 responses.

Lead retrieval:

Traditional lead retrieval is one-way (from attendee to exhibitor), location bound (at the exhibit booth), and expensive for the exhibitor. Mobile lead exchange provides two-way, less expensive, digital ways to exchange contact information anywhere at the event.

DUB – Mobile Business Card Networking 
www.dubmenow.com
This app was used at the South-By-Southwest 2010 (SXSW), the same Music and Media conference where Twitter debuted two years ago. This app works with iPhone and Blackberry (with Android, and Window Mobile Media coming) to exchange electronic business cards. It allows you to locate people near you at a conference or send your card via SMS or email. This automatically syncs with your phone address book and updates to contacts are updatee automatically. It also integrates with LinkedIn and Twitter.

Bartizan’s iLeads www.bartizan.com/index.php?id=62
Bartizan has been a traditional lead retrieval service for more than 30 years. Their new iPhone app is a tacit admission that the traditional lead retrieval model is on the way out. iLeads is an iPhone/iPad app giving each attendee at a tradeshow a unique 4-6 digit code printed in 16pt.font on their name badge. Those with access to the iLeads database (usually exhibitors) log into a specific event on their iPhone, type in attendee’s 4-6 digit code, and then can see (and record) the full contact information. There are built in qualifier questions, seven standard action codes and an area for notes. All leads are date/time stamped and, using the phone cam, a contact’s photo also can be attached.

Digital show guides:

A primary focus for these apps are on the exhibitor information and floor plan:

Taptopia (www.taptopia.com)
Interactive maps, schedules, and exhibitor info for the iPhone and iTouch sold through the iTunes store.

Member management for associations:

Associations are moving to use mobile tools to provide member services. The major association management companies are expanding their product lines to include these options. Here is a stand-alone one:

VoracitySolutions:(www.voracitysolutions.com/products/mobilemembership)
A range of membership and association mobile web management tools including member directory with full contact info, member photos, personal contacts, special interest groups, staff roster/contacts, and member alerts.

Attendee management:

This will likely be a hot development area where meeting planners will be able to access all online event registration and housing data through their mobile phones.

Ooto (www.ootoweb.com)
Otto is one such example. Veteran designers from the pioneer meetings technology company SeeUThere have built a revolutionary attendee management/online registration product. It has full mobile integration so planners can access all attendee/housing data from an iPhone. The registration product is free for the first month and then only $49/month thereafter with no transaction fees.

Venue and Location Concierges

These applications are designed for the venues to provide to attendees or hotel guests:

SwiftMoble (www.imswift.com)
This nicely designed iPhone application helps conference attendees at convention centers. The “myBCEC” app designed for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is a good example of what other venues could do.  The app contains a full, interactive venue map, local area restaurant/services information, the event calendar for the facility (with Twitter event hashtag links), transit information (including airport departures, traffic alerts, directions, parking information, subway alerts), a wide range of information about the venue (venue twitter feed, lost & found), and exhibitor information (utilities, AV, F&B, cleaning, etc.).

RunTriz (www.runtriz.com/hotel)
RunTriz is a pocket concierge for hotels. Hotel guests can order room service, view the drink menu, contact housekeeping, receive messages from the hotel front desk, schedule a wake-up call, arrange transportation, and view local shopping, restaurants and nightlife. If you don’t have an iPhone, participating hotels will loan you an iTouch.

Geovative GeoTours (www.geovative.com)
Geovative provides destination marketing using multimedia GPS tours with mobile apps.

Micropayment Systems/Near Field Communication:

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range (about 4 in.) wireless communication standard used in Europe. Primarily designed for making quick payments, residents of Estonia, for example, can tap their phones on a parking meter or at a rapid-transit turnstile, making a immediate and easy transaction form the ‘e-wallet’ stored on their phone. Nokia and Samsung are among the phone manufacturers that currently offer NFC and there are rumors that the next generation of iPhone will have it as well. NFC provides great potential for meetings including lead exchange, electronic ticketing, and micropayments. If the new iPhone adopts this standard, NFC will become huge in the tradeshow arena.

ITN International (www.itn-international.com)
ITN, a high-end registration company, is a pioneer in using NFC for events and tradeshows. They provide innovated capabilities for attendee tracking, lead data collection, event micropayment systems and more.

Consumer mobile apps with event applications:

Although this article focuses on event-specific mobile applications, there are few consumer app that bear a brief mention:

Foursquare www.fourquare.com and Gowalla www.gowalla.com
These location-aware mobile applications allow people to check-in at a location to network with others and to share with friends. Although originally used in restaurants, bars, etc. these are starting to be used for events.  Both were used at the 2010 South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin.

Bump http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bump/id305479724?mt=8
iPhone app to share contact information and photos.

WebEx Meeting Center http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cisco-webex-meeting-center/id298844386?mt=8
iPhone app to tap into schedule, attend and start WebEx online meetings

Things http://itunes.apple.com/app/things/id284971781?mt=8
iPhone task management

Google Goggles www.google.com/mobile/goggles
Built for Android phones, this product holds great promise for augmented reality applications. Simply point your phone cam at a restaurant or other object, and get a link to the website. Take a picture of a business card and it converts it to data in your mobile contacts… And much more!

These are just a few! There are likely hundreds more meeting-specific applications on the way and tens of thousands of consumer mobile apps that can help attendees, meeting planners, exhibitor and meeting suppliers at events and tradeshow.  Finally, these ‘widgets” have become a reality and much more will come.


Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com.

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How to Get Started with a Website Redesign

Posted by: on Thursday, January 31, 2013

You have made the critical decision to get your website redesign under way. But, what do you do to get started?

 

If you have no real idea, then you are not alone. The idea of doing a complete redesign on a website is daunting even for those who work with websites every day. You might think that picking colors and fonts is the most important first steps to take. But, you need to set the foundation before you can start looking at the website window dressing.

Here are six simple steps to help you get started with your website redesign project:

Understand Your Company's Needs
What does your company need to get from your website? Some companies use websites to generate leads. Other companies use websites to showcase their products or services. Still others offer a catalog of products and the ability to order online. What else does your company need from the website? You can do a several things with a redesign. You can take your company in a new direction. You can introduce a new line of products. You can offer new services. You want your new website design to go together with all of those needs.

Identify Your Personas
A persona is simply a fictional character that embraces all the characteristics of one of your website's typical customers. For example, a gaming website might have a customer persona as follows: "Greg, age 19, college sophomore, who has been on the Internet since he can remember. Greg spends upwards of four hours a day gaming online." You can make a persona as detailed as you like. By defining personas in detail, you can redesign your website to make it an ideal experience for your customers.

Understand What Actions You Want Visitors to Take 

What do you want customers to do on your site? Some typical actions visitors take include filling out a "Get More Information" form, buying products, scheduling appointments, and requesting a catalog. Different customers may do different actions. A new visitor may want to get more information while an existing customer may go straight to buy something. Those actions need clear definition for a successful redesign.

Find a Reliable Web Agency
Your partner in any successful website redesign is a reliable web agency. You want a professional company that understands the intricate needs of a successful website. With ever-increasing sophistication in Internet users and in search engine logic, your website needs to become an interactive place which attracts both. Expertise in SEO, content development, website layout, and graphics are just a few critical skills your agency should have.

Set an Appropriate Timeline
A successful website redesign will take a several weeks and even a few months. Do not let a company tell you they can have your new website up in two weeks. All they are doing is adding new window dressing. They are not analyzing your current site, optimizing your traffic patterns, or making your content search engine friendly. All of that is part of a successful redesign. Your web agency can help you develop a good timeline.

Set a Clear Budget

How much do you want to spend on your website redesign? Speak with your web agency representative. They can give you an idea of what different redesigns can cost. After analyzing the cost and the changes you want to make, set a clear budget. It will give the web agency a clear amount of money in which they can work.

These six steps will get your website redesign well on its way. The time and money are well-spent when you see increased traffic from new customers and an increased interest from existing ones. 
 
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Does Your Website Need A Redesign Make-Over?

Posted by: on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Have you looked at your website lately? If not, then it is likely no one else has either. A major issue many businesses do not realize they have, until it's too late, is a website that needs a major overhaul.

Here are five ways to know if your website needs a redesign make-over:

Your website is not mobile responsive. 
Studies show that by the beginning of 2015 mobile devices will outstrip laptops and desktops for browsing. The number of mobile devices offering the ability for easy Internet browsing is growing at accelerating rates. You need a website that offers easy browsing and good design on laptops, desktops, smart phones, tablets, and any other device capable of Internet browsing. Adaptive or responsive web design are two options to consider.

Your website is over three years old.
When did you launch your website? When did you make the last update to it? Unless you actively manage your website, it might have been awhile since you last updated it. Every two or three years you need to freshen up your website. You can do a complete website redesign or just a face-lift to give it a fresh look and feel. But, you should have it redesigned with the best practices in mind to make the most impact to your business.

Free Download: Website Redesign Self Assessment Checklist >>

Your website is not getting many inquiries any more.
Do you have a "Contact Us" or "Request More Info" form on your website? How many inquiries do you get through that form each week? If you say none or very few, you are due for a major website redesign. The inquiry form is a basic tool for potential clients to receive more information on your company. With no inquiries, you are losing a major pipeline for new customers. A stale website will often show in the decreasing number of inquiries you get. A fresh website will give a positive impression on visitors that will entice them to ask for more information.

Your website is something someone else must manage for you.
Can you or a designated employee easily update your website's content without help? Do you rely on someone else, outside your company, to do this for you? If so, you need a website that has easy content management built-in. With today's technology, there is no reason to depend on an outside vendor to do content updates to your website. You need a redesign that will make this an easy thing to do so you can keep your website up to date and the content fresh.

Your website does not rank at all for your critical keywords.
What are your critical keywords? Those are the phrases that people commonly use to find your website. For example, if you sell handcrafted dolls from Russia, a keyword might be "handcrafted Russian dolls" or "Russian dolls." When you type that keyword in a search engine like Google or Yahoo, where does your website come up? If you are not on the first or second page, you are not ranking high enough to get attention from clients. You need an optimized website that will get you to those top spots.

If any of these sound familiar to you, your website needs a major website redesign. Consumer use of mobile devices is growing very quickly and you need a fresh new website to keep up with this change. You want your website to pull up in the highest ranks possible on the search engines and you want inquiries to flow in all the time. Add easy to manage content, and you will have a winning website redesign.

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