The Marketing Blog

  1. UX Mistakes
    UX patterns are design solutions that can be repeated for common problems. Their aim is to make user accessibility much easier, which leads to better performance in terms of conversion or retention. However, sometimes these patterns can actually become quite a nuisance for your users instead of benefitting them. That’s why I’m here to show you which UX patterns are really grinding their gears and how you can fix them.

    1. Popups

    Popups
    I know you’re with me on this one. You click a link to open up a web page and half way through reading the content you’re abruptly interrupted by a huge overlay begging for your email address. I understand they think they have a pretty good newsletter going that I would probably enjoy, that’s why I clicked on their link, but they will never make new friends by shouting down their throats.

    Instead allow users to read content and get acquainted before asking for anything. Give them the chance to decide on their own instead of forcing it on them. This could either be a subtle pop-out after reading the page, or a popup modal before the user clicks off the page.

    2. Social Integration

    Social integration
    Sharing is awesome. Especially for your business as it’s the most cost effective way to get customers to your website. Social widgets on the other hand should be used sparingly. Why spend hours of your time producing a great piece of content only to distort it with eager social buttons.

    Sharing on social media should be an organic experience, not a forced one. A user will want to share your content more if they are not patronised into it, so limit your widgets and consider using a pleasant message at the end of the content asking them to give it a quick tweet if they enjoy your work.

    3. Page Preloaders

    Page preloaders
    As technology progresses our generation gets more impatient and in 2017 we shouldn’t have to watch a spinner load a 2MB website. I know this might just be a fancy trend, and I’m sure 80% of them weren’t actually loading anything but used aesthetically, but speed should be a priority when building a web application.

    If you are having speed issues, load in the lighter elements of the page first—like the navigation—and use a loader for the heavier content, instead of leaving the user on a blank screen staring at a cute animation. This way the user doesn’t feel like you’ve stood them up on a date, and that you are still there.

    4. Mega Menus

    Mega Menus
    Mega menus may seem like a good solution for a website that has many pages and sections, but it’s not. The problem being is that they create a maze-like experience for the user as they try to find their desired page. It forces the burden of navigation to the user and they will quickly get frustrated or bored.

    If you don’t want your site’s navigation to resemble a game of Where’s Waldo, you can split up the different links into sections. You could also swap out some of the text links for imagery to make it less mundane. Lastly, for the sake of all humanity, please stay well away from hover activated dropdowns.

    5. Infinite Scrolling

    Infinite Scrolling
    While infinite scrolling solved retention issues for us, it created more problems than it fixed. If you need to reach an important page that’s located in the site’s footer and the site has auto infinite scrolling activated, it is a lost cause. Another problem being when you have been scrolling for a while and visit another page. Time to go back and carry on from where you left off? Not a chance.

    Just like mega menus, infinite scrolling has great potential if implemented correctly. Blend the pattern with traditional pagination and allow the user to choose to continue scrolling with an action. This will help keep your footer accessible. In order to fix the issue of users losing where they were up to, have the URL change whenever the page loads up another section.

    Wrapping Up

    A quick disclaimer to bear in mind is that although the above UX patterns are insanely annoying, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid them like the plague. While they are not the best option, some of them might work for your website depending on your requirements.

    However, try empathising with your users and think before you employ any of these patterns.


    -by Nick Hiley
    Courtesy of Web Designer Depot
  2. Apple now lets you pay for digital goods with PayPal
    Users of iOS devices in 11 new markets will soon be able to easily access PayPal as a payment choice, part of a growing partnership with Apple. The feature offers an alternative to using credit cards for mobile payments.

    Apple is opening up its digital ecosystem to PayPal from today, with customers now able to use the omnipresent payment platform to purchase goods through iTunes, iBooks, Apple Music, and the App Store.

    Kicking off in Canada and Mexico, PayPal payments will be slowly rolling out to other markets — including the U.S. — “soon after,” according to a statement issued by PayPal today.
    In real terms, this means that rather than simply setting your credit or debit card as your default payment mechanism, you will now also have the option of selecting PayPal.


    Apple has already embraced other third-party payment methods in some markets. Last year, for example, the company opened to Alipay, a service that is effectively the PayPal of China.

    This latest integration also opens up PayPal to Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant, Siri, meaning you will soon be able to ask Siri to make a payment using the PayPal app directly.

    Notably, this also opens up PayPal’s One Touch payment smarts to Apple devices, meaning you will be able to purchase goods on compatible sites and mobile apps.

    It’s worth noting here that this isn’t the first time Apple has embraced PayPal payments. Apple used to offer PayPal’s Credit service in the U.S. to enable consumers to finance physical products, such as Macs and iPhones, but this was discontinued in 2015 — though it is still available in some markets, including the U.K.
     


    -by Paul Sawers
    Courtesy of Venturebeat
  3. What to know when marketing on social media

    Social media has become an integral part of daily life, but some business owners are still not using this marketing channel to its full potential.  Posting inconsistently, sharing too many promotional messages and allowing accounts to become inactive can hurt your results.

    Social Media has become such an important part of our everyday lives. People of all ages across the globe use Social Media. It has become a major source of news, local information, business information, consumer research, as well as a place to keep in touch with old friends and new or to stay in contact with family that may not be nearby.

    However, one of the most important aspects of Social Media has been the opportunity for businesses of any size, in any location, and any industry to reach an audience of consumers. Marketing and Advertising on Social Media has become a necessity for businesses.

    Unfortunately, there are still business owners and marketers who either do not understand how it is supposed to work or they are still using it as though it were 2010.

    Social Media Marketing has changed drastically over the past several years, and it continues to change. It also requires knowledge and experience to do it correctly and effectively.

    Here are 6 things business owners need to know about using Social Media to market:

    1. Posting an update whenever you think of it may hurt your business.

    Each Social Platform has an algorithm. An algorithm is “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.”

    In Social Media, this algorithm determines what people see, what information gets out to specific people. If you are only posting sporadically your updates are likely not showing in many News Feeds, if any at all. Thus, your updates are not generating any views or interest and basically are not worth the time you took to post.

    In order for your updates to be effective you must post consistently, every day, a few times a day, as well as posting content that is relevant and interesting to your audience.

    2. Posting anything, at any time will not work.

    Social Media Marketers educate themselves on what to post, when to post it, how many times to post each day, what to share, etc. There is a definite method to the madness, and it involves more than just posting a link to one of your products.

    3. Posting only company or sales information is not an effective strategy.

    People are not using Facebook or Instagram to see sales messages from businesses. Sure, they are using Social Media to research their purchases, but they are doing so on their own terms. They are seeking out the information, they do not want the information coming at them when they don’t want or need it.

    Social Media Marketing is about developing your brand and improving your visibility. Sharing information that users want to see, articles related to your business, links to relevant information they can use, posting reviews from current customers are all useful and not annoying or overwhelming.

    Unless you are Amazon or another big box retailer or large company, sharing only company-related information is not a good strategy.

    4. Running an ad does not mean people will be clamoring to buy your products/services.

    In the history of advertising there has never been a guarantee that an ad will generate sales. In the old days, traditional newspaper ads or television ads were sold based on the number of people that would see your ad. These ads were no guarantee that a sale would be made.

    Advertising is an audio or visual form of marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, nonpersonal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea.

    Social Media Advertising is a more direct way to reach people and this is where it is acceptable to directly display your products and services. The overall goal is to reach people and make them aware of your products or services so when they make their purchasing decisions (when THEY are ready to purchase) they think of your business first.

    5. Just having an account on the Social Platforms is not enough.

    If you are going to establish accounts on the Social Sites it is necessary to keep those accounts active and monitor them for comments and questions. Opening an account and listing the icon on your website is not enough. In fact, if you do have accounts on the Social Sites and you are not using them, updating them, or watching for comments it can have a negative effect on your business.
    An inactive account on Social Media sends the message that you don’t care. Additionally, people seeking out your page only to find it has not had an update in weeks or months may think your business is closed. Either way, an inactive page with updates from weeks or months, or even years, ago signals your business doesn’t care and negatively affects your reputation.

    6. An Office Manager, Assistant, Billing Manager, Intern, etc. cannot manage Social Media effectively.

    Just because the Social Sites are free and “anyone” can use them, does not mean that one of your employees or interns can provide an effective and successful campaign on Social Media.

    Social Media Marketing requires experience and knowledge. If you want your marketing and advertising to be useful and profitable it needs to be done correctly.

    Hiring a professional to manage your campaigns is the best way to ensure that your budget and efforts with Social Media are beneficial to your bottom-line.
     

    -by Laura Donovan
    Courtesy of B2C
  4. SEO Video
    5 steps you can take to improve your video search ranking, including transcription, content, keywords and more.

    Videos are becoming increasingly important for B2B marketing. Companies with dedicated video marketing strategies generate more leads, earn more revenue, and enjoy better brand awareness than those engaging in all other forms of marketing.
    Impact of video marketing


    Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are great places to get eyes on your video content, but prospects aren’t necessarily in work- or buy-mode as they scroll through these platforms. 

    We do know, however, that 90% of B2B decision-makers use search to research business decisions. To reap the benefits of video marketing, your videos must be optimized for search. By following a few best practices for video SEO, you’ll enjoy more visible video search results and drive more organic traffic—and qualified leads—to your video content.

    How Does Google Rank Videos?

    In its general search and video search functions, Google ranks videos using the same ranking factors as written content—content quality, number of backlinks, and RankBrain are the most important signals. When hosting videos on your site, the tasks for optimizing video content are similar to those for written content and images. 

    Similar, but not identical. Here are five steps you should take to improve your search rankings so your videos stand out in search results: 

    1. Transcribe Your Video Content

    Providing both a video and transcription on a single page offers dual benefits: it caters to different reader preferences, and it makes video content more likely to appear in general Google searches.
    Video transcriptions can be optimized for search in the same way as any other text-based site content. While this may seem to break duplicate content rules, transcriptions actually provide a good user experience by catering to different learning styles. While some visitors may prefer videos, others may prefer reading. In fact, 85% of business executives prefer reading over watching videos when making business decisions. 

    When transcribing video content, there are two approaches you can take:
    1. Provide a full, word-for-word transcription as Moz does for their Whiteboard Friday videos.
    2. Provide text highlights like Content Marketing Institute does for their This Old Marketing podcast.
    Full transcripts provide more engagement SEO opportunities, while highlights are good for long videos and can encourage more views by teasing readers with compelling content that’s discussed in more detail in the video. Ultimately, use the approach your audience prefers: you can poll them to find out, or do some A/B testing to see which approach drives the kind of engagement you’re looking for.

    2. Optimize Video File Metadata

    Just like general search results, titles and descriptions display in video searches. While Google will find something to display if this data isn’t provided, you’ll drive more views and rank higher in results if this metadata is optimized. 

    Video titles and descriptions should:
    • Be compelling to encourage click-throughs.
    • Be relevant and applicable to the content.
    • Include keywords that match user intent.
    • Feature titles that are 55 characters or less.
    • Use meta descriptions that are 155 characters or less.
    Additionally, Google displays a thumbnail for video results.Thumbnails are to videos as images are to blog posts—choosing the right thumbnail is crucial. While most video processing programs will select a thumbnail using a single screen from the video, you should create a custom thumbnail that illustrates video content, attracts attention, and inspires interest.

    3. Implement Schema Markup

    While some users conduct searches using Google’s video search function, many just use the general search tool. To help videos stand out in general search results, use schema markup (semantic vocabulary) to provide the information search engines need. With schema markup, general search results will appear in the same way as video search results, providing a video thumbnail and length.

    At a minimum, you’ll need to add schema markup for the title, description, thumbnail, and either embed- or content-URL for each video. You may also want to include video length, upload date, and height and width dimensions. Google has a page describing exactly what it expects from schema markup for videos and allows you to validate schema markup with the Rich Snippet Testing Tool.

    4. Submit a Video Sitemap

    While Google’s crawlers will discover videos on your site, you can enhance discovery of site-hosted videos by creating a video sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console. Create a separate video sitemap, or add video entries to an existing sitemap.

    Entries in a video sitemap must include video title, description, play page URL, thumbnail, and raw video file URL, and must match the information included on your site. There are a number of optional pieces of data that can be included as well—video duration, rating, view count, category, and live status. While the optional fields do not need to be included in a video sitemap, they provide additional data Google can use to properly index video files.

    5. Find Keywords That Populate Video Results

    The best way to know if users prefer video content for certain queries is to conduct searches for targeted keywords. If video results appear on the first page of results, it signifies that users are typically satisfied with video content for that query. For example, conducting a Google search for the query “Twitter tutorial” results in a YouTube video in position two, just below the official Twitter support page.

    video marketing keywords

    Prioritize video creation for keywords that populate video results in general search and create videos that are higher quality or more comprehensive than those that are already ranking for relevant keywords.

    The Most Important SEO Video Ranking Factor

    Video content is held to the same standards as text content in search results—it must be high quality. Optimizing fluff videos isn’t a valuable use of your time because—like general content—engagement factors are important. If people are watching only a few seconds of your video and then leaving, your engagement scores will fall, and Google may determine that your video is either irrelevant to the query or low-quality.

    Video content should cater to user intent, provide value to viewers, and have a high production value. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune hiring actors or designing animations that make Pixar jealous, but it does mean that videos should be in focus, audio should be clear, and unnecessary pieces should be edited out.

    Once you’ve created high-quality, engaging videos, upload them to your site, add transcripts, and optimize display in results with metadata, schema markup, and sitemaps. Completing these tasks will enable more visible—and higher ranking—search results for video marketing content.


    -By Nate Dame
    Courtesty of Marketo 
  5. by Paula Borowska

    Design Myths that will ruin your website

    Adhering to design myth guidelines can result in bad design and a poor user experience, Paula Borowska writes. Borowska outlines seven of the most common myths she regularly sees, including the idea that the home page is the most important page and only minimalist designs can be simple.

    When I was a junior designer I made plenty of mistakes. I believed false assumptions mostly because I did not have the experience yet to know better. I still don’t know it all. But, I am always eager to learn new things about design and to see which preconceived notions are accurate or a complete myth. That’s how this post came about. I want to address seven common design myths which I still see influencing design decisions.

    Unfortunately, false design myths like these to lead to poorer quality design and poorer experiences for end users. We can avoid this by making smarter design decisions to improve the quality of our designs.

    1. The homepage is your most important page

    For a long time, people believed the homepage was the most important page. Way back when, it may have been the case when the homepage served as the main directory in getting around to the rest of the pages. It’s no longer the case. The way we browse, and even find web pages, has changed dramatically. Often, visitors will land on a web page from a direct link to a product page, missing the home page altogether. This direct access to other pages is largely due to SEO results or links shared on social media.

    Today, home pages serve one main purpose: to get you to the content, whatever it may be. For websites that are constantly filled with new content such as BuzzFeed or Darling Magazine, the home page serves to show the top stories. There are also websites that show off products or services, like Maison Deux. In both of those cases, the user is bound to enter the content specific page because they are not there for the homepage, the directory, they are there to consume information or make purchases. Next, there are services like Mailchimp or InVision where users are interested in using web apps instead. There are plenty of websites out there whose homepage you don’t see as a logged in users, such as Facebook.

    Viewing many design gallery sites such as Dribbble, Behance or Awwwards by the sheer number of showings of creative and amazing home pages. There is nothing wrong with having a great looking and well functioning homepage. However, let’s get one thing straight: compared to other pages on a website, a homepage is not as important.

    2. Minimalism is the only way to achieve simplicity

    Minimalism is a style, while simplicity is about the overall feel and functionality of an application or website. A complicated and extensive design can be made simple. The goal of simplicity isn’t to have the minimal amount of things such as steps, UI elements or interactions.

    Steven Sinofsky put it well. He explains that minimalist design decreases the visual surface of a design and its experience, whereas simple design—which he calls frictionless design—decreases the energy required for the experience.

    Let’s take for instance the UX of a form with no labels but only placeholder text. We all know this infamous pattern. So although having less visual elements, in this case missing a label, is more minimal the interaction is often confusing for users filling out the input. The interaction is no longer simple. Adding the extra UI element, the label, even providing an example outside of the placeholder, adds to the quantity of UI elements. But, the interaction becomes simpler, easier and more intuitive for the users. That’s a great differentiation between minimalism and simplicity. They are not one and the same.

    3. Limit the number of navigational choices

    Many people misinterpret George Miller’s theory that the human minds can keep track of 7 (plus or minus 2) bits of information at a time. His theory still holds true but it’s exclusive to the human cognitive condition regarding short term memory. Somehow this theory made its way into web design, specifically to navigation and menus.

    Additionally, there is research on limiting the number of choices, which was popularized by Barry Schwartz. Barry Schwartz’s research was referring to choices in product. In his research, Schwartz was referring to jams where the customers had a harder time picking, committing and therefore purchasing a jam if there were a multitude of options. The customers were purchasing jams at a significantly higher rate if they were presented with just a few choices. This can apply to any other product like cars, phones or online subscriptions. They key here is still products.

    Neither of those two pieces of research has anything to do with navigation. The job of a navigation is to help a visitor explore what a website has to offer. Back in 2006, Jared Spool wrote on the topic of link-rich websites which are sites filled with many links and pages. In the article he uses an old version of the Dove website to demonstrate his point, and although the website has changed, the conclusion still stands. Dove’s sitemap was more usable to a visitor than their own homepage’s navigation. The reason for this is that is allowed anyone looking for a specific product to find the necessary product page.

    Navigation can be large but still allow the user to browse to the product they are looking for. Good navigation won’t hide the multitude of pages. Instead, it will cluster and group them into similar categories to be findable by a visitor. Now, if the groups and clusters are poorly made that’s also not helpful to the user. The bottom line is, hiding pages from the navigation is not beneficial to the user.

    4. Everything must be no more than three clicks away

    On computer interactions, the rule is said to be three clicks but this rule has also been extended to mobile devices in the form of two taps. Multiple usability studies prove that this is bogus.

    Visitors and users don’t care about the exact amount of clicks or taps. They care about obtaining the information they are looking for, they care about finishing the task they are doing. Additionally, it’s relevant to the user whether clicking through will get them to the desired information. If the user feels they won’t find what they need in their journey, they may leave without clicking just once even though the information might be revealed after a single click. Users will keep on going through as many as 25 clicks, as found by UIE, in order to complete their tasks. The UIE research also states the importance of user satisfaction is also irrelevant to the three click rule.

    5. Mobile device users are always on the go and are always distracted

    When speaking about mobile apps or responsive websites, both of these points are mentioned. First, mobile device users are presumed to be on the go. Second, they are also presumed to be distracted. Way too often, these two assumptions seem to go hand in hand with one another. Someone who is on the go is bound to be distracted. The fact of the matter is, neither is actually the case.

    Let’s tackle the first assumption first. A 2012 Google study found out that majority of smartphones were used at home, 60% to be exact. Another study in 2012, this time by InsightsNow on behalf of AOL,  found that 68% of mobile page views happened at home. InsightsNow’s study excluded texting, calling and emailing. But, as you can imagine, playing games, browsing Tumblr or Facebook, and any other mobile interactions such as reading articles or shopping, is mostly done at home. Although we should still keep designing for on the go use, it’s not the primary way most of us use our mobile devices now.

    Next is the assumption regarding distractions. Distractions are eminent everywhere, albeit it working, watching tv, driving or using a mobile device. That’s just a fact of life. Just because someone is using their smartphone instead of a desktop computer does not make them more distracted. I will point to the same 2012 Google study which found that while using a PC 67% of the time a user is also using another device compared to 57% while using a smartphone.

    6. Good usability is good enough without aesthetics

    Don Norman devotes a whole book to explain how emotions and design go hand in hand. That’s because while great usability may be a great start and it’s certainly necessary, it still may not actually be good enough. Don Norman’s book centers around emotional connections created through design.

    Positive emotions can be powerful in helping sell products. There are numerous studies to show that more attractive products appear to perform better than products with poorer designs. Not to mention that first impressions are excessively made through appearances.

    More importantly, looks and design are often related to credibility. Stanford University’s Credibility Project proved just that. They presented people with websites to learn about the correlation of credibility. They found the 46% of people based the credibility of a website by its appearance.

    Emotional responses play a greater role in connecting with people than usability. Emotions are human while usability is technological. Therefore, great visual design and aesthetics is a competitive advantage and a differentiator within a marker. Ultimately aesthetics help enhance usability as mentioned in Don Norman’s book, Emotional Design.

    7. Your users will tell you what they want

    This one is my favorite. Asking your users for feedback is important. It’s equally important not to take their feedback literally. Noah J. Goldstein wrote:
    people’s ability to understand the factors that affect their behavior is surprisingly poor.
    And he couldn’t be more right. This type of thinking goes back to days of Henry Ford where he famously said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” That’s because people are bad at explaining their own behavior patterns, intentions, and behavior predictions. This phenomenon is also known as introspection illusion, in psychology. It’s okay, I’m bad at it too.

    Another reason why listening blindly can lead to trouble is that people often speak only about the solution to the problem they might be facing. As a designer, I’m sure you’ve received design feedback such as “make the text bigger” with no explanation as to why. A client or a colleague might have a hard time reading the text with a smaller font or they might feel that the smaller font is less noticeable compared to everything else in the section’s design. The same goes for user feedback. Like I said, it’s important to listen to customers and users. But, it’s more important to get to the bottom of the problem first. Do further research based on user feedback, requests or complaints to figure out what the problem at hand might be, and solve it for that instead of their comments alone.

    Conclusion

    There are still many more design myths and assumptions out there. These are the seven most common ones I see other designers cling to, especially junior designers or design students. We’ve all been there—I’ve been there. It’s important to realize that these assumptions are baseless and be smart about them moving forward. Hopefully, exposing these seven will help you make better and smarter design choices.