2016-11-09T12:25:29ZA lot of us are looking for ways to minimize the impact of our business on the natural world. I was shocked to discover that, even with computers getting more energy-efficient, by 2020 the web hosting industry is on track to produce more environmental pollution than the global airline industry! That is a stunning statistic. Incredibly, […] The post Hosting that Helps the Environment? appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. A lot of us are looking for ways to minimize the impact of our business on the natural world. I was shocked to discover that, even with computers getting more energy-efficient, by 2020 the web hosting industry is on track to produce more environmental pollution than the global airline industry! That is a stunning statistic. Incredibly, the average web server, running 24/7, is responsible for pumping 1390 pounds (630 kg) of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. So what can we do? How can we… business owners, web designers, developers, help to halt this trend? Any Such Thing as Green Hosting? Here’s one thing you can do — easily and cheaply. There is a growing global movement in support of carbon off-setting, and other smart ways of investing in energy. One company in the United States, GreenGeeks (*affiliate link), implements a novel approach. They actually purchase wind energy credits worth three times the value of all the energy they use, effectively paying for 3x more clean, green energy to go back into the US grid than their servers take out. Imagine what a difference it would make if everyone switched to a service like GreenGeeks. It would be like removing all the pollution dumped into the atmosphere by airplanes. Every time we choose to invest our dollars in a business that offsets its energy use this way, it’s one more “vote” for sustainable energy. (And we know that votes matter!) Is There a Cost? Nope! In fact, it’s astonishingly cheap to go green. I was surprised when I did a comparison. I pay £39.99 per month for one of my reseller accounts with a UK hosting provider (TSOhost). That gives me unlimited websites on CPanel, and all the bandwidth I need. (In reality, last month all the sites I host on there used less than 2GB of bandwidth!) You can buy reseller hosting from TSO for just under £30/month, that’s US$37.32 in today’s money. For that you get up to 100 websites (see image below). Compare that to GreenGeeks and, well, there is no comparison. GreenGeeks’ most basic reseller package will give you unlimited websites and 500GB of bandwidth (way more than you’d ever use) for just $19.95, practically half the cost of my UK provider. I know I should probably move all my websites over to GreenGeeks, not just to save money, but to save greenhouse gases too. In fact, they offer a free migration service, so that is something I may consider. (Let me say that I have been very happy with TSO’s service and especially support, however I may still look into moving over.) This is not one of those “virtual” pop-up hosting providers, who just resell other people’s services with knock-down support. Over 8 years they’ve built a customer base of 35,000 businesses, and host over 300,000 websites. They’ve won a bunch of awards over the years AND offer a 30-day money-back guarantee to give you peace of mind. Bottom line… If you’re looking for a web host (for any size business), or if you would consider moving to a new provider, you’d need a very very compelling reason not to go green. Peace! * Note: Links to GreenGeeks are affiliate links, so if you agree with me that they look great, and you sign up, I’ll get a kickback. The post Hosting that Helps the Environment? appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. [...]
2016-10-06T09:58:06ZWe were talking in part one of this article about how no one individual can be a true expert in the entire AdWords system. I left you with the thought that you need to go into any AdWords engagement with your eyes open and a solid foundation in place. Going in with your eyes open […] The post The AdWords Foundation appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. We were talking in part one of this article about how no one individual can be a true expert in the entire AdWords system. I left you with the thought that you need to go into any AdWords engagement with your eyes open and a solid foundation in place. Going in with your eyes open means becoming more aware of your true requirements. Most business owners pursue AdWords strategies in a herd mentality. Often it’s as simple as seeing your competitor’s remarketing ads after you visited their website. Other times you’ll do a Google search on a primary keyword and find you are being outranked by a competitor. Usually this leads to a frantic call with whoever is managing your AdWords, to discover exactly what they are doing about it. You should look at your competitor’s websites from time to time. And you should take note if they are appearing above you on particular search terms. But in my experience most companies do not earn an outright profit on AdWords, so blindly following the herd can lead you to a dead end. The answer is to make changes to your own campaigns from a solid foundation. A solid foundation means that you: Keep an eye on your competitors, without blindly following them Have tightly focused, well organised campaigns Test a range of ads and apply winning ad text elsewhere in your marketing Regularly work on your landing pages to improve conversions Use detailed conversion tracking to measure your return on ad spend (ROAS) This foundation typically covers the Google search network, where you place ads on the search results page, and a display network remarketing campaign where you run image ads to people who previously visited your website. I’ve seen AdWords accounts that run display network campaigns and not search campaigns, but it’s unusual. In general your core AdWords campaigns are likely to be search network campaigns and display network remarketing. Creating your AdWords campaigns is somewhat like aiming at an archery target. Image credit: Proadventure.co.uk The gold ring in the middle represents your most important search keywords that are proven to generate profitable customers. For many businesses, mobile traffic is an increasingly important part of the gold ring. In some cases you might even start with mobile traffic ahead of desktop traffic. If I was setting up a campaign for a plumber or locksmith I would probably start with mobile traffic ahead of desktop. The red ring surrounding the gold is normally your remarketing strategy. You can think of this as following up with your gold-level traffic who may not have converted first time around. Most of the other AdWords targeting options sit outside the gold and red rings. Youtube traffic for example is probably in the black ring. It might work for you as a way to expand your reach, but only from a position where your gold and red campaigns are already profitable. On Monday 10th October, I’m starting a four week webinar course explaining exactly how to build a solid AdWords foundation. The course is not a free course, but as a Web Design From Scratch subscriber I’d like to invite you to session 1 at no cost. Session 1 will look at the first step in the AdWords Foundation process: analysing your competitors. More details and free registration here. The post The AdWords Foundation appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. [...]
2016-09-30T06:43:36ZIt’s easy to forget how much AdWords has changed in the last two or three years. The interface looks similar to the interface we have today, but the machinery under the hood is completely different. In 2011 we had the search network, and the display network. And we had a brand new display network feature called […] The post The AdWords Agency Problem appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. It’s easy to forget how much AdWords has changed in the last two or three years. AdWords interface in 2011 The interface looks similar to the interface we have today, but the machinery under the hood is completely different. In 2011 we had the search network, and the display network. And we had a brand new display network feature called remarketing. And that was about it. Today, from the same interface, you can create: Shopping campaigns Youtube campaigns Mobile app campaigns Gmail ads And of course remarketing campaigns, which are now more sophisticated because you can upload lists of customer email addresses, and build remarketing lists from Youtube channel interactions. And those aren’t the only changes. We’ve also had the great ‘right side wipeout’, where all the right hand ads were axed from the search results page. We now have audience targeting within a regular search campaign, meaning you can combine keywords and interests. Sitelink click through rate has become a component of quality score. Mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic in available search volume. We now have the ability to set separate bids for tablet traffic. (Hurrah!) Oh, and don’t forget about the API changes. If you want to automatically customise your ads with your latest prices and inventory information, you can do that. If you want to raise or lower bids based on the weather forecast, you can do that. Are you keeping up? No? Here’s the secret. Nobody is keeping up. AdWords is really six mediums rolled into a single interface. No one human can reasonably be expected to know all of it, and certainly not be a true expert in all of it. The Rise of the Specialists What we’re seeing now is a fragmentation of expertise. Savvy AdWords consultants have realised that specialising in a particular aspect of the AdWords machine is the most profitable way to run an AdWords consulting service. As a few examples, David Rothwell has become one of the world’s leading experts on Google Shopping campaigns. Talor Zamir does local PPC. Ryan Masters and Tom Breeze do Youtube ads. Working with a specialist brings deeper experience and knowledge, but at the same time you run the risk of losing sight of the bigger picture. The Agency Alternative One alternative to working with a specialist is to work with a ‘full service’ agency. An agency will typically charge more than a freelance specialist. Normally they’ll have plush city-centre offices and slick sales teams. An agency will try to convince you that they do indeed know the entire AdWords system. The big problem in the agency model is the people selling the projects are rarely the people delivering the work. And while an agency may have in-house specialists in the different areas of AdWords, often these specialists will be relatively junior members of staff. Usually they will have no direct experience spending their own money on AdWords. These people may know the technicalities of AdWords quite well, but often these are salaried employees with no real investment in the success of your project. They have no real skin in the game, and often it shows. The DIY Alternative If you manage your AdWords campaigns in-house, you’re broadly left with the same problems only from a training perspective. Whoever is managing your AdWords campaigns cannot be a true expert in all aspects of the AdWords system, and will almost certainly need guidance on how to direct their attentions. Whoever is managing your AdWords campaigns not only needs a solid understanding of AdWords mechanics, but also a deep understanding of your business goals. In practice s[...]
I think most designers would agree they spend too much time designing, and not enough time thinking about who they are designing for. The trouble is, how do you think about end users? What do they really want? One answer is to do a customer avatar exercise. If you think an avatar exercise is a […]
I think most designers would agree they spend too much time designing, and not enough time thinking about who they are designing for.
The trouble is, how do you think about end users? What do they really want?
One answer is to do a customer avatar exercise. If you think an avatar exercise is a licence for creative daydreaming, listen to the following interview.
You can also read Ben’s article on personas here.
2016-08-10T12:34:57ZThree years ago my wife Linzi went off to Kyrgyzstan for a month. The day after she left I sat at home, cracked open a beer and fired up Ebay. Just to look at motorbikes. There is something mysterious about Ebay. Maybe it was the ticking countowns. Maybe it was the beer. But 90 minutes […] The post Are you Over-Exposing Your Clients to Risk? appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. Three years ago my wife Linzi went off to Kyrgyzstan for a month. The day after she left I sat at home, cracked open a beer and fired up Ebay. Just to look at motorbikes. There is something mysterious about Ebay. Maybe it was the ticking countowns. Maybe it was the beer. But 90 minutes later my fear of missing out was in overdrive. I bike had come up in Windsor, which was nearby. It was learner-legal, which was what I needed. And the owner was willing to ride it to my home in High Wycombe. What could possibly go wrong? I clicked ‘buy’, and saw the green ‘you’ve committed to buy this item’ message. Uh oh. What have I done… I thought. She’ll kill me… Two days later this arrived. I don’t know how the previous owner had managed to ride it to me. It didn’t have any fuel in it, and hardly any oil. “Oh, here’s the MOT certificate,” he told me. “There are warnings about cuts in the tires. But I can’t see them…” If I had known then what I know now, I would have spotted the hydraulic fluid on the front left turning fork. But I didn’t know that, so I didn’t spot it. I paid him a thousand pounds in cash and the bike was mine. While I thought I’d bagged myself a bargain, what I’d actually done is over-expose myself to risk. I knew I had taken a risk the second I clicked the ‘buy now’ button. I knew because I felt over-exposed. As soon as you spend decent money on anything you always introduce an element of risk. Even if you have plenty of money, seeing a chunk of it disappear from your bank account always makes you pause and think: ‘am I sure this will do what I need?’ This problem is especially bad in the marketing world, where you cannot kick the tyres, squeeze the brakes or supposedly inspect the turning forks. When you hire a copywriter for example, he or she is usually expected to provide a proposal. Proposals are essential because they define the scope of the work, but they are useless at predicting whether the work will do what you need. The big problem when you engage the services of a marketing firm is you don’t know up front whether the work will deliver the results you need. The agency will reassure you it will, but they don’t know for sure. You as the client accidentally take on all the risk, because you pay a hefty project deposit up front with no real assurances of results. If you hire a copywriter and the writing fails to generate sales, there is no downside for the copywriter. They might not get a testimonial from you, but they still get paid. You as the client suffer all the down-side if things don’t work out. The copywriter did what you asked. You just didn’t know what to ask for. If you’re the service provider then things aren’t too rosy for you either. The proposal you sent you was essentially a guess at the value of the work. If the work you do delivers results beyond expectations you as the marketing provider are not rewarded for those results. You only get the fee you guessed at in your original proposal. The answer, I believe, is to move to a situation where neither party ever feels over-exposed. This has to accommodate the risk / reward ratio you are comfortable with. My own take on this is to do a discovery project. A discovery project is essentially a down-payment on a full project. But rather than paying for the full project up front (which escalates the client’s risk), the discovery contract covers time for me to research [...]
It is rare that I ever watch or read the news. I maintain a policy that if something is genuinely important somebody will probably tell me about it. Something that did get my attention this morning was this. Free newspapers like the Metro have to work hard to get your attention. To get your attention […]
It is rare that I ever watch or read the news. I maintain a policy that if something is genuinely important somebody will probably tell me about it.
Something that did get my attention this morning was this.
Free newspapers like the Metro have to work hard to get your attention. To get your attention they don’t waste any time on logic or reason. They go straight for the jugular: emotion.
Whatever you think of the image above I defy anyone to tell me the image above failed to incite an emotion.
I’ve been working this week on some of my Facebook ads. Looking back I’ve been guilty of appealing to logic instead of emotion.
This is an easy trap to fall in to. We know about features, and we know about benefits. We believe people want this information.
And people do want this information, once they are in the buying process. But before they are in the buying process, when they are on Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever, you must lead with emotion.
You don’t have to use anything as strong as the image above. But you do have to make people feel:
Notice these are negative emotions. Negative emotions carry more attention grabbing weight than positive emotions. Our newspapers are full of negative emotional stories because they grab our attention.
If you only ever run positive, happy-happy joy-joy ‘aren’t we great’ ads you are doing your audience a disservice.
If one of your children was about to step into the road in front of a truck would you attempt to get his attention with a positive message, or a ‘negative’ one?
You have potential clients everywhere in the process of making bad decisions. Your job is to look after them. Go and get their attention.
2016-06-03T09:04:10ZEmail follow-up sequences are gold! Here’s why… 1. Permission Marketing First, you have your reader’s permission to send them a message. That means you can assume some level of existing relationship, so you don’t have to write to a “cold” audience. You can take it for granted that they already know about you, and they’re […] The post Email Copywriting Masterclass appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. Email follow-up sequences are gold! Here’s why… 1. Permission Marketing First, you have your reader’s permission to send them a message. That means you can assume some level of existing relationship, so you don’t have to write to a “cold” audience. You can take it for granted that they already know about you, and they’re open to what you’re offering. That gives you freedom to write more directly and more emotively. 2. More Reader Involvement Second, when your emails are read, they are read more intently than web copy. Sure, you can never be sure all your emails will be opened or read, but when they are you have your reader’s attention in a cleaner space. There are no ads, nothing blinking to distract them, and the typography is usually pretty good. So your message is more likely to get into your reader’s mind. According to MailChimp, my average open rate on my primary mailing list is 18.0% (MailChimp says the industry average for the Education and Training sector is 15.2%), and average click-through rate is 4.4% (industry average only 1.6%). 3. Control the Conversation Third, you get to control the conversation in a unique way. You get to sow the seeds of ideas, and then follow up with further messages at a later time of your choosing. You are not dependent on waiting for your prospect to come back to your site or YouTube channel. You have their permission to interrupt them (to a certain degree) by dropping messages into their inbox at intervals that you choose. 4. It’s Automated! Plus, of course, all this is automatic. You get the advantages of a more personal-feeling interaction, with its own rhythm, but all handled by your email delivery software. This way, you get maximum impact but only have to write each message once. Email Copywriting is an Art Form I’m sure you receive a lot of emails that you delete without opening. And I’m sure there are some that you nearly always look at. What makes the difference? Well, that’s where the art of email copywriting comes in! Below I’ll actually show you a whole campaign I wrote for a client, but first let’s get some of the basics out of the way. There are always numerous questions about how to write an email follow-up sequence. I’ll try to list the most common ones here, with concise answers. Q: What tone of voice should I use? Great question! The answer is: the appropriate one! Who is sending the emails? Who is receiving them? So what should the manner of address be? You will need to tread the line between too formal and too familiar. You don’t want to bore your reader to death, but at the same time don’t put them off by coming across unprofessional. You (and your client) will know the appropriate tone. In the sequence below, I’m writing from the business owner (a software developer) to a wide range of prospects, who I’m assuming are small-to-medium business owners in the United States. So I keep it pretty professional, but also try to follow good online copywriting practice: simple, direct, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Q: How long should each email be? My golden rule for copy is: It should be as long as it needs to be. Obviously, it depends what you’re doing. If you’re telling a story, use as many paragraphs as you need to tell the story completely. If it’s a short announcement, maybe one [...]
In this short (7-minute) video, I walk you through how I found a local service I needed today, plus reveal… The one thing this local business did that helped them get my money today. And the one thing they’ve failed to do that could help them get more local business in the future! In brief, […]
In this short (7-minute) video, I walk you through how I found a local service I needed today, plus reveal…
In brief, if any potential customer could ever ask the question, “Where is my nearest…” and your business (or your client’s business) could fit the bill, you MUST be on Google Local!
2016-04-15T13:33:56ZIn the short video below I introduce a new term: “edge marketing”. Essentially, the principle is that growth happens on the edges. We are unlikely to find greatness, breakthroughs, or massive success by repeating the same stuff that has kinda worked before. On the contrary: Safe is now risky, and risky is the new safe. Edge marketing means expressing your brand (who […] The post Edge Marketing appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. In the short video below I introduce a new term: “edge marketing”. Essentially, the principle is that growth happens on the edges. We are unlikely to find greatness, breakthroughs, or massive success by repeating the same stuff that has kinda worked before. On the contrary: Safe is now risky, and risky is the new safe. Edge marketing means expressing your brand (who you ARE) in whatever way comes most completely naturally, without holding back. Like the Fool card in the tarot, it means stepping boldly from the safety of solid ground and over the edge into the as-yet-unknown. (Read more about what the Fool represents.) Good News and Bad News This knowledge gives us good news and bad news. The bad news is that nobody else can show you the way. Only you can find this path. The good news is that only you can find your path! You don’t need anything else. By definition, Edge Marketing tells you that your right path is NOT where everyone else is gathering! You have to do what everyone else is NOT doing. When you start thinking “Edge” you’ll see it everywhere. It will be obvious why “524 Profitable SEO Niches” is direct a path to failure. You will realise that no “guru” can deliver you success. (But, if they’re a good marketing strategist, they may be able to coach you to find the answers you’re looking for.) …that will disappear the moment you try to capitalise on them! Do you remember the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker has to walk into the dark cave to face his ultimate fear? That’s one of the core steps of the classic Hero’s Journey, and it also represents what we must all go through, if we’re going to fulfil our true potential. Face the fear… and do it anyway You’ll know when you’re on your Edge because you’ll experience exhilaration and anxiety in equal measure. Nothing is certain. Anything could happen. Wow! Anything can happen! Watch the Video (16 minutes) id='player803' src='//www.youtube.com/embed/GWcxeU5ajWk?not_used=1&rel=0&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0' height='400' width='100%' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen > Further Thoughts on Your Edge (15 April) I have been thinking constantly about The Edge for the past few days, and have gotten a little more clarity. As I see it, there are three distinct regions where we can dwell… Behind your edge, On your edge, and Ahead of your edge. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with not living on your Edge! Sometimes, life requires predictability and security. And sometimes craziness is called for! But I’ll offer some thoughts on how you might discern where you are dwelling. I’m reminded of this quote from Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote the Tao De Ching. Living Behind Your Edge If the Edge represents the true Moment, being totally present, then to live behind your edge is to dwell in the past. The past is fixed, complete, certain, dead, and appears safe. You will not find anything new in the zone behind your edge, you will repeat what has been done before. How do you know you’re behind your edge? The emotion that best typifies living life behind your edge is probably boredom. That means there is no risk in your life, little change, and really little opportunity. In busin[...]