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Is it time for a single standardised web browser?

Published on January 11, 2013
Tags: Usability

A recent study by Forrester Research has made the case for a single standardised web browser for internet users. The argument for this is that there are hidden costs involved in having multiple non-standardised browsers.

Of the 113 IT professionals who were surveyed, nearly all of them (96%) said they standardise on a single browser for use on work PC’s. Enterprises are now deciding whether to support non-standard browsers as the report suggests it can be costly. According to the firms which offered a multiple browser strategy, 86% experienced on average, more than a 20% cost increase. This means that firms can end up spending around $4000 extra for each web app which is developed for multiple browsers.

The report is however biased since it was commissioned by Microsoft, whose latest web browser, Internet Explorer 10 was released in August 2012 and is the default browser of Windows 8. While the report is limited in its view, it omits any mention to mobile usage, although it has been noted that Microsoft has integrated extensive support for HTML5 on its Windows Phone 8 system.

A breakdown of the Forrester Research results

The results from the survey indicate that while an overwhelming 96% use a standardised single browser for work PC’s, 51% said that their company has enforced this standard by removing admin rights and locking down PC’s. 32% of IT professionals mentioned that there’s a single standardised browser, but they allow employees to install an alternative browser which the company will support if possible.

Meanwhile 13% said yes but that employees can install an alternative browser that isn’t supported by the company, if they so wish. 2% indicated that they had no plans to have a company standardised browser either now or in the future and the final 2% said no, but that this might change at some point in the future.

The costs of running and supporting multiple browsers can be costly for some businesses, especially during times of financial hardship when many companies are cutting back or have limited resources. Alongside these high security costs which are associated with non-standard browsers, app compatibility is another factor which many companies have to take into consideration.

Every time a web browser is updated, it may no longer work well with particular apps. All of these apps need to be tested for their compatibility, which can vary from browser to browser. Extensive testing is therefore required. This can cause complications due to update schedules varying from browser to browser. Companies will therefore need to follow a few guidelines on how to keep in budget and what to expect should they choose to use multiple web browsers.

As internet usage becomes increasingly more mobile and the presence of apps dominates the market, this is going to become more of a contentious issue. Therefore companies looking to enhance their web presence will have to analyse if a single standard browser is the right choice for them.

By Chelsey Evans

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Google+ introduces 18 new features

Published on January 4, 2013
Tags: Internet Communication

Are you using Google+ yet, for either business or leisure? Google’s social media site has now introduced 18 new features to make them stand out against other social media networks. These new features are based around photos, mobile, hangouts and much more.

While some may have written off Google+ as a ghost town, this is an unfair assessment. The social networking site now boasts over 400 million members, 100 million of which are active monthly members. If your business isn’t on Google+ you could be missing out on a valuable way of connecting with your market.

Thankfully these new features that Google+ have introduced provide some great enhancements to Google+’s core functionality and will encourage users to engage much more with the website than they would have previously. The additional features have been added in to enhance the mobile experience of using Google+, a wise move given that the future of the internet is becoming increasingly mobile driven.

What are the new Google+ features?

One of the biggest additions has to be the ‘Link’ button which makes sharing links to blog posts really easy. Meanwhile their Photo button makes capturing your images on the go more convenient. Another addition is the ‘Check-in’ button which allows you to update where your current location is. Location based social media sharing is a big part of social sharing, so it’s a clever move by Google+ who are looking for new ways to connect people.

If you use the Google+ app on your iPhone you’ll notice that on iOS which is the new version, you can swipe through photos albums in a line, so all you have to do is tap the screen once to view them. It also lets the user pan across the screen or zoom in slowly to view pictures. The comments section underneath photos will also look different because it now shows other users your content from small snippets of text to long comments.

The ‘Communities’ feature is a recent addition too and it’s designed as a replacement for the old school groups, forums and message boards. The Communities feature allows users to set up their own place. It’s different to facebook’s profile pages for businesses and is much more like Yahoo! Groups, allowing members to set up their own profile place to discuss their hobbies or interests whether that’s football, technology or world events, etc.

Google+ Communities  gives users the option of creating a community for example about music and then creating a number of sub-categories within this such as ‘Jazz’, ‘Pop’, ‘Country’ and ‘Heavy Metal’ to name just a few. You also have the option of subscribing to any updates from your favourite circles. You can receive mobile notifications from these and the purpose is to encourage more interaction with Google+ Communities on your mobile and tablet devices.

These are just some of the interesting features which Google+ have integrated into their site to make sharing social media even easier and more exciting.

By Chelsey Evans

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Is your content selling? Online retailer sees their blog give them 172% ROI

Published on January 4, 2013
Tags: Usability, Web Design London

If you’ve ever wondered if a blog is worth the hassle to your business, you should check out online retailer ZAGG whose blog has given them a 172% ROI while earning them 10% of the company’s website traffic according to a recent MarketingSherpa.com article.

If you want to emulate their success, you need to understand a few factors around why they have earned such great results and how the blog alone is a great return on investment.

The first thing you need to do is to focus on sales. ZAGG’s blog isn’t shy about promoting their products which in their case is electronic goods and accessories for items such as iPhones, iPads, digital cameras, etc.

By writing about their products in great detail, it allows their target market to decide for themselves what they will buy, based on the advice and recommendations presented in the blog. This makes ZAGG appear knowledgeable and trustworthy as it establishes them as a ‘voice in the know’ when it comes to selling electronic goods.

Produce regular content

The second factor to consider is that to be successful you have to get blogging regularly. This is what ZAGG did as they only started the blog in January 2011 and the idea was to start with a three-month pilot to see how it went. They soon realised, every time they posted a blog, their website traffic increased and so did their sales.

The next step is to take your content viral and share updates about the blog on social media channels like Facebook, twitter and Google+. ZAGG did this by understanding their audience’s preferences and over time created and published different types of posts including news, how to posts, along with entertaining or promotional posts.

Interact with your audience

If you can engage your core market with your brand by getting them to read informative blog posts produced by your website, it will increase sales. You need to encourage your readers to shop with you too however, as getting them to read and share your blog posts isn’t enough – you need to convert these leads into sales.

The best ways to do this is to display adverts on your online shop, buttons which promote products, deals, etc. It’s also a good idea to use a graphic on the blog homepage and on every post so that visitors can tell that they’re on your official blog, which establishes trust between your brand and your target market.

Selective email marketing is one approach which ZAGG has utilised to increase their sales. They selectively promote their posts between their Facebook and twitter pages, so the email content showcases their best posts. It’s working for ZAGG as their content emails give them an 82% higher click-to-open rate than their promotional emails.

Finally, it’s important not to overdo the SEO. Increasing your website traffic is more about creating compelling content that a web visitor can’t help but click on.

By Chelsey Evans

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Hootsuite Adds New Creative Tools for Sharing Social Media

Published on December 11, 2012
Tags: Web Design London

Hootsuite, the social media management tool which allows users to preview and schedule social media updates, has introduced a range of new features to make sharing updates even easier. The enterprise tool has now added Vimeo for video, self-hosted Wordpress.org blogs as well as the picture, video and audio sharing service, Via Me.

Alongside these features, they’ve also added a Pinterest tracker – Reachli. They have also added Scripted, which is a freelance writer marketplace to its third-party App Directory. This has taken the number of sites and services which Hootsuite supports to 41 in total, for all Hootsuite Free, Pro and Enterprise users.

What are the benefits of these new services?

Hootsuite’s most important app for tracking images is Reachli, as it’s the first one that allows users to upload and track images on Pinterest, the popular image sharing website. This is a positive move by Hootsuite and a step in the right direction when it comes to the future of content sharing. It allows you to pin pictures, campaigns and to view metrics on pins.

As Hootsuite already has a range of similar services in its App directory – i.e. YouTube as a video service, Wordpress is the first traditional blog platform to be integrated, although Tumblr which is an alternative type of blogging system, is already supported by its services.

The Vimeo feature allows users to upload, share and view videos using the dashboard on Hootsuite. There is also the option to cross post the videos to other places. Wordpress.org blogs can now be created and pages edited via the Hootsuite dashboard.

Users also have the option of moderating comments. Using Via Me you can upload a range of different visual and audial media to your account and then follow the feed to others too. Meanwhile, Scripted allows you to promote your freelance writing services and find other people for your writing jobs.

Why has Hootsuite added these new creative features?

The move by Hootsuite is to expand their presence on the web from being just another social media management tool to becoming a dashboard for business engagement. Eventually this will be used by more than just social media managers and marketers as it extends across the web and continues to support other websites.

These new additions have been made to encourage content creators to have the necessary tools to get more creative with their updates. This is ideal for Hootsuite’s user base which they claim is mainly made of artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers. As social media and web design is becoming increasingly more image based, Hootsuite’s decision to integrate these design tools means they remain a relevant service for sharing web content.

The decision also puts Hootsuite in a good position, by differentiating itself from other social media dashboards for enterprises such as MediaFunnel, SocialText, Sprinklr and Spredfast. These new creative tools will enhance their services while appealing to a broader audience, not just social media managers.

By Chelsey Evans

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Survey suggests customer mobile adoption is still in its early stages

Published on December 10, 2012
Tags: Mobile Application Development

A recent report by MarketingSherpa found that many marketers’ understanding of how their business’s customers use their mobiles to generate sales is still in its early stages. 27% of respondents surveyed said that their organisation didn’t know the customers’ adoption rate, while only 8% thought that their organisation knew it very well.

Meanwhile 22% of respondents said they presumed that their customers would adopt mobile devices early on in the conversion path, but that they didn’t understand it very well. 17% claimed this wasn’t applicable or that they didn’t know, while 16% believed that mobile adoption could be used somewhat well.  Finally, 10% presumed that customers wouldn’t use mobile devices in the conversion path.

Overall, these figures suggest that organisations need to take the time to understand customer mobile adoption and how it can generate sales. This is particularly important as internet usage on mobile devices is increasing and by 2014, the estimated number of mobile users worldwide is set to overtake desktop internet users.

Why marketers will have to move fast in the mobile age

According to Torni Ahonen of Mobile Web Africa, “The average person looks at their phone 150 times a day, or once every six-and-a-half minutes of every waking hour.” Taking this into account, it’s vital that organisations learn how to expand their sales by keeping hold of their customers during this fast paced digital age.

As customers are increasingly using their mobiles to make more purchases, the organisations who stand out against their competitors are the ones which know how to optimise their web pages for fast and efficient transactions.

MarketingSherpa asked organisations which factors would prevent them from allocating more resources towards gathering this information, or whether a lack of internal resources is preventing marketers from understanding the mobile market. Does your organisation know how to collect data on customer mobile preferences for example?

Then there is the issue of updating your website to make it more mobile friendly. There are many tools you can use to optimise your web pages and make them easier for the average mobile user, but many organisations might not be aware they can do this.

Do you understand customer mobile adoption?

According to the MarketingSherpa report, of the 34% who did understand customer mobile adoption, only 8% claimed to have a strong understanding through internal data collection. While encouragingly, many within this category knew this topic ‘somewhat well’, which suggests they were using outside research to create a company mobile strategy.

Of the 10% of respondents who presumed customers wouldn’t use mobile devices to make sales, it could still be worth implementing some mobile tactics to see if it makes a difference to your conversion path. If it does, you can then start deciding if your organisation sees mobile sales becoming a big part of your sales strategy in the long term – which is looking likely given the future direction that information and sales are being directed.

By Chelsey Evans

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