The best subjects for your company’s blogs in March

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Building an enduring relationship with your customers through content marketing depends on the creation of content that they find genuinely interesting and useful. So when your company’s writers are composing blog posts for the third month of the year, what subjects should they cover?

Here are a few ideas that could help to cultivate a connection between your store and its target customers that leads to sales.

Success stories

March is a month of optimism – the time of year when the arrival of spring becomes fully apparent and many of your blog’s readers will be looking to put the dreariness of the winter months behind them.

It’s therefore a fine time to publish blog articles outlining success stories related to the industry that your company serves. If you run a health food store, for instance, you may tell your readers about those who have felt reinvigorated by certain products bought from your store.

Essential spring tasks

Spring has long been associated with cleaning and gardening. There are certainly many tasks that your target customers are likely to need to get on with at this time of year, and they’re sure to appreciate informed guidance as to how they can do the best possible job.

Those running a holiday booking site, for example, may wish to use the opportunity that March presents to urge any of their customers still contemplating a summer holiday to book now before their preferred flights and hotels become unavailable for their chosen dates.

Outdoor activities

The brightening days and creeping temperatures of the mid-spring lend themselves well to blog content about projects in the garden, weekend getaways or pretty much anything else embracing the great outdoors.

So, think carefully about what blog posts could motivate your customers to get outside and enjoy the open air. This may mean an online store dedicated to sports supplements suggesting to its blog readers the outdoor workouts that may best suit their get-fit aims this year.

Nutrition ideas

Linked to the aforementioned point, many of your blog readers will be interested to know how they can support their efforts to achieve a ‘beach-ready body’ (if they aspire to such a thing) with the most appropriate nutrition.

Perhaps you could advise your readers on how their kids could eat better during the month, provide ideas for healthy lunchtime meals at work, or indicate what foods could be invaluable when they next go backpacking?

Remember that we offer onsite and offsite blog content writing as part of our Platinum search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing package here at Piranha Designs, alongside such other key services as keyword research and social set-up. Why not get in touch with us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices to learn how our expertise in these areas could benefit your brand?

What can you do to get people to come back to your site?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What can you do to get people to come back to your site?

As much as you might sometimes wish otherwise, your site visitors don’t exist in a state of perfect isolation. They’re browsing your site while surrounded by all manner of possible distractions – sat in their kitchen with their children yapping for their attention, or enjoying a quick lunch break before their boss calls them back into the office, or waiting for a taxi to arrive at their home... the list goes on.

Your site is effectively competing with all manner of ‘real life’ things for your visitors’ attention. So if they do get distracted and then forget about your site, how can you attract them back?

Be more memorable than any of your competitors

While many of us might bemoan popular tabloid news sites that attract attention through lurid headlines and sensationalism rather than truth, the reality is that making your site memorable does work a treat for getting people to make repeat visits.

Sometimes, that principle is taken to extremes – just take a look at the famously garish website for LingsCars, for instance. It’s a genuine business, but you might not have thought so at first glance. Nonetheless, it’s not a website you’re going to forget in a hurry.

But there are other, slightly milder ways to make your business’s site memorable, such as by giving your brand a quirky name, having an entertaining and engaging tone of voice or investing in video ads that are ripe to go viral.

Establish a means of ongoing customer communication

Obtaining a prospective customer’s contact details, or getting them to follow you in some other way online, takes the pressure off your company to immediately convert their interest into a sale. You won’t have to do it within one session, and can instead persuade them over a period of days, weeks, months or even years.

So, how can you establish that means of communication? Well, you could offer them a tempting, no-brainer deal – such as a free trial or demo – with a tiny commitment, such as providing their email address or other contact details, that makes it an almost impossible offer to refuse.

Convincing your visitors to follow your brand on Facebook, Twitter or a similarly popular social platform is another potentially good move. This will be made much easier if your social feeds provide a rich stream of content that is engaging, relevant and usable for your target audience.

Or why not launch an ad retargeting campaign? There’s a strong likelihood that if a given target customer was sufficiently interested in your site once, a well-placed ad will convince them to come back.

How could we help your firm with its 2018 goals?

The above steps can do a lot to ensure that a customer relationship that would’ve otherwise been a one-night stand becomes a longer-term commitment. But there’s much more that we can do to enhance your brand’s online fortunes here at Piranha Designs.

Why not contact our team today to discuss our custom website design solutions or any of our other sought-after services that could help to power your brand to success over the coming year?

Should you still place more emphasis on benefits than features?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One piece of sales copywriting advice that has long prevailed among marketers is that of the importance of outlining a given product or service’s benefits, rather than its features. It’s much more crucial to tell your target audience about how the product or service in question actually helps them, than to simply list its properties – or at least, that’s what we’ve long been told.

Widely accepted advice, and not entirely wrong

It’s a mantra that seems logical enough. After all, if you simply tell prospective buyers that your product or service has a certain feature – for example, that a given health supplement contains vitamin A – the buyer may be simply left asking, “so what?” But if you then tell them that vitamin A could have real benefits for their health, including for their skin, vision and immune system, their imagination is much more likely to be captured.

It can sometimes be worth mentioning even obvious benefits – such as that a given flight will take the buyer to a particular sunny resort – if it helps to transport the prospective customer’s mind there. That’s simply the way our brains work.

However, it doesn’t always hold fast

There are, though, times when it can actually be detrimental to even mention benefits. That could include when the benefit is unimpressive or obvious, such as if you are a new or used car dealer mentioning a given car’s 0-60 figure or top speed.

While it may be worth mentioning such features of the car, you hardly need to then explain what the benefit is of the car being fast, especially if the vehicle in question is a city runabout.

Nor should you avoid all mention of features...

So often, a marketer’s well-intentioned words to a client to “talk about benefits rather than features” is interpreted as meaning “don’t refer to features at all”, which is evidently ludicrous.

For example, stating that a given smartphone’s camera produces “really sharp and vivid images” isn’t enough, as the customer will also want to know what features – such as optical image stabilisation or the number of megapixels the camera has – actually make that the case.

Listing features alone may leave the reader asking “so what?”, but stating only benefits may have them thinking, “yeah, right”.

...save for certain circumstances

Can you get away without mentioning features in certain circumstances? Yes, you can – such as if the stated benefit is so obviously true that it doesn’t need to be backed up with any mention of a specific feature, or if there isn’t much space and it would be best to provide an alternative form of proof for that claimed benefit.

A good example of the latter is a fitness video, where endorsements by celebrities and testimonials from past customers who have actually used the product will probably be much more persuasive than a mere explanation of the various exercises or chapters covered in the video.

Both features and benefits can have their role in sales copy

When you are next writing web copy and you need to consider the vexed matter of ‘features vs benefits’, it’s best to put the oft-stated ‘rules’ to one side and instead consider how your readers will respond to certain content.

If you are listing a feature that will cause the reader to ask, “so what?”, you should go on to describe the benefit. If, though, you are describing a benefit to which the reader will inevitably say “yeah, right”, it’s important to back it up with a specific feature or another form of proof.

Grasping the respective functions of features and benefits, and how these can be explained in web copy, will help you to determine when a feature should be stated, when a benefit should be stated and when both should be stated.

Why not take a closer look at our extensive search engine marketing (SEM) services here at Piranha Designs and how they can assist your efforts to boost your online business’s sales throughout 2018 and beyond?

Reusing your content is just an ‘easy way out’, isn’t it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Erm, no, not really – especially given how difficult it can be to constantly think up great new ideas for your content. You might just, instead, use certain content repeatedly to reach many more people and boost your company marketing’s all-round effectiveness.

You’ve probably seen certain content ideas used again and again – maybe initially in a blog post, then in an infographic, and perhaps later in a podcast or YouTube video. This might have been the case across several different companies, but you can easily do it within your own business – and there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you do it well.

In an age in which organisations seem to be spending more and more time and money on their content marketing, the astute reuse of your content can help you to extract more value from each and every content idea you have.

Content is made to be reused!

If you have any doubts about the ethical side of reusing content, think of it this way: when you tell a famous bedtime story like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Cat in the Hat to your children, you don’t feel guilty about not being the original source.

In fact, to do so would miss the point. Great stories deserve and indeed, need to be told time and time again, and great content tells such great stories. It’s why you should create your content from the outset with the potential for its reuse specifically in mind.

Furthermore, the effective reuse of content brings many real benefits to your business, including the ability to spin off more pieces of content given the fewer ideas you will need overall, as well as the scope to promote a single piece of content across many mediums, including your blog, email newsletters and social media.

Yes, you can reuse your content – to brilliant effect

So consider today how you might create and then reuse content on a ‘multiplication’ schedule that will help to keep it relevant and effective for longer. Could that new blog article you’ve just posted be given an extended lease of life when you share pictures from it on Instagram, grab a quote from it for your company’s next Facebook status update or post a YouTube video based on it?

Whatever anyone tells you about reusing content, it isn’t just ‘lazy’ – indeed, it could be one of the most powerful ways of telling and retelling your company’s most compelling stories, and generating more traffic, sales and revenue in the process.

Check out Piranha Designs’ wide-ranging online marketing services to discover just how far your company could go with our help.

How have company logos evolved amid the rise of responsive web design?

Piranha Designs - Friday, July 07, 2017
Despite the reputation of the company logo in certain circles as something that remains necessarily consistent over time, it’s fair to say that it has been buffeted by various pressures in recent years – not least of which has been the ascendancy of responsive web design. 

Just think, after all, of the circumstances in which so many of today’s familiar brand motifs – the four Audi rings, for example, or the yellow ‘M’ of McDonald’s – were conceived. Until as recently as the 1990s, company logos may have been largely expected to take their place mainly on high-street signs, on printed advertisements and perhaps on the side of commercial vehicles. 

Matters have changed a bit since then, with the rise of responsive web design cruelly exposing the deficiencies of many logo designs. At the same time, though, the challenge of scaling down logos in accordance with the smaller screens of smartphone and tablet devices has helped to demonstrate what always made certain brand logos so great. 

The positive characteristics of such brands of which we are speaking are their simplicity and flexibility that not only makes them adaptable to various formats and layout options today, but was already making them effortlessly memorable yesterday – and continues to do so now. 

A short history of effective brand logos 


When “Purple Rain” hit-maker Prince swapped his name for a logo in the early 1990s, the overwhelming response was one of bafflement. However, the late Artist may have actually been ahead of his time in making such a move – and it’s hard to deny that many people remembered it long after he reversed the decision in 2000. 

Much earlier than that, however, the most impactful brands were evolving their logos in ways that would prove, if inadvertently, highly advantageous for the coming age of responsive design. Apple’s first attempt at a logo, for instance, was certainly intricate-looking, resembling a traditional print depicting Isaac Newton sitting under a tree, with an apple hanging over his head. 

However, such a design could hardly be accused of being simple or modern, so it was perhaps unsurprising that just a year later, a new logo was created. With its simplified, albeit instantly recognisable silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it, it was clear that the logo’s designer, Rob Janoff, had created a classic. While its colours have varied down the years, the basic motif has continued in use, largely unmodified by Apple, ever since. 

Is your firm’s logo fit for the responsive web design era? 


From Twitter’s bird symbol that presents itself to anyone firing up the micro-blogging platform’s app, right through to the Nike swish and the multi-coloured Google G, a variety of brands have shown their ability to create logos that just happen to scale well to any screen size and are therefore brilliantly compliant with our current responsive web design era. 

Could you say the same for your own company’s current logo, or would you like to discuss with us how we could play our part in crafting a compelling and timeless visual identity for your brand? Talk to our professionals in brand identity and logo design today to learn more.

Great product descriptions help you sell more online.

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 03, 2014
We have all had the negative experience of buying something online and receiving something completely different than what you ordered from the net. And we all know how it feels! 
These sorts of experiences are normally the type that as a online seller you want to avoid because it damages your reputation both with individual customers, and more importantly with search engines like Google. Be aware that product descriptions and photos are normally the only reference point your potential clients will have for your products so make sure you do it properly from the start. Don't fall into the same trap as so many others by copying and pasting manufacturer's descriptions or using the same collection of words for all your products. If you are serious about e-commerce check out these tips we have prepared for you to write a good product description from the start.

 Think before you begin
Before putting pen to paper, pause for a second and meditate on what you are selling. Put down the main points that make your product useful and how you can describe them to a potential buyer. By going through this slightly longer process you can ensure that you include everything you want to get across to the public in one piece of text, so nothing important is omitted and you can feel satisfied you have done the best job possible. Style and tone should reflect the audience you are are trying to reach, so make sure you have done your market research.

 Innovate, don't imitate!
Whatever you do always make sure that you don't plagiarize what someone else has already written, even if it is the manufacturer. All text must be freshly conceived in its entirety and therefore never published beforehand on the web. While reproducing previously drawn up descriptions for the product can sound like a really quick and easy shortcut, it is the biggest mistake you can make. The first thing that will go out of the window will be its SEO value, quickly followed by your ranking in search engines. It is better to round up the best ideas from other reviews of your product or those in the same bracket and develop your own words from that material.

 Keywords are the key
Keywords are the mainstay in any product description so make sure you do not forget to include them. This will do two things at once – give you a better SEO ranking and make a client feel they have reached the place where they want to be. At the same time, don't overdo it. If you go overboard with keywords your description will be unreadable and you will be downgraded by your search engine. Most of the time keywords will appear naturally  in your text if you just write what you feel about a product, thus giving the reader an impression that you are having a dialogue with him or her.

 Be seriously funny
The most important thing about product description is that it is accessible and user-friendly. Humour and emotion play a big part in giving these pieces of text life and imagination, but always remember to tailor it to your target audience. As part of this identification with the reader you could also use colloquial terms and cliches which make a connection with your reader. In particular if what you are selling are luxury products, wow as many of the the customer's senses as possible so that they will feel it will really make them feel better.

 Put yourself in their shoes
Ask yourself what the person searching for your product is thinking. How could you make it sound so irresistible that they would not hesitate to proceed to checkout? Which things are imperative to include? Examine what characteristics could be asked for in a buyer's mind and deliver them. When you have written them all up check with someone else to see if they would have anything done differently or if they need more answers than what you provide.

 Improve your layout
Web-users don't normally have much time when they are looking to buy things online so the best thing to do is to avoid is long chunks of prose. Write up stuff clearly and concisely, so information can be examined easily and follow it with tidy bullet-points that summarise the product features to a potential client. 

 Include client feedback
While it would make no sense to point out what could go wrong with your product, it is valid to be able to show that a neutral observer like a past client has had a positive experience both with your company and more specifically, with the product in question. This can be presented in the form of product reviews or as a link to an article written about your product making sure it is recent and fits in with your description. Such a ploy could corroborate your own product description, affirm that your company is open to criticism and virtually confirm a sale. You can find product reviews all over the internet which will boost your e-commerce no end and additional modules can also be purchased online.

 Create a narrative
You want the customer to be captivated by the product and for the description to translate that emotion. One way of doing this by telling a story of the product's journey. Below are some things you could include:

Where it was manufactured
The manufacturing process and what it is made from
Who designed it
The influences that led to the product being created

A product story like this can read more like warm advice from a previous buyer than a cold description from a sales-orientated company, which, when accentuated with colloquialisms, can really create a sense of confidence in the product. A narrative like this can really give you the cutting edge over your closest rivals and will make people take more interest in what your brand has to offer.


• Show why yours is top dog

Nowadays, the harsh reality of the market is that every product has a replica which is could be cheaper than the one you are selling. Additionally, the amount of companies getting acquainted with the Web and its commercial advantages is increasing everyday. This is why your product needs to be a cut above the rest. And the best way to prove that is by contrasting it positively with other brands and using rich vocabulary like superlatives to strengthen your argument. Special offers or free services are always a great way to make your client get over their reservations and order the product immediately.

Examine the advice above to ensure your product descriptions are a real hit which will bring in more sales than ever before. When presented alongside quality images of the product and attractive web design, the results will mean you can just sit back and start taking orders.

Responsive website design - what is it?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Mobile usage is continuously growing. Websites are finding it hard to keep up with all the different devices and screens.

Responsive website design is a solution to this problem.

In simple terms it means that the website 'responds' to the device screen size it is on. This website is responsive. If you view it on a desktop with a large screen you will see that it expands to fill the whole screen. If you then try the site on your ipad you will find that it looks very similar but has condensed the content a little to fit perfectly within the screen. Now when you switch to an iphone or Android smart phone you will see that the site has changed quite dramatically. The menu across the top has become a menu icon which can be expanded on tap. The overall layout has become much more vertical, one column rather than a few columns. 

The important thing with responsive design is that there is only one website with all the content in it, but it responds cleverly to the users device. 

It is a lot more work for web designers like us, but the end result is really worth it. Stats show that over 70% of mobile users switch to a competitor if they find the site they are looking at is not mobile friendly.

Is your site responsive? Is it mobile friendly?

6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Easy tips to make your emails more effective

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We all use email so much that it can actually eat up all our free time. With our mobiles receiving emails and the Ipad too, you can’t seem to escape from them.

Over the years I have learnt many ways of improving my efficiency. I would like to share some useful tips with you, on how you can improve your emails.

Your email signature.


If you are constantly having to type the ending to all your emails, eg: Regards or Thanks – you can put that into your signature.

Make sure your signature is on all initial emails and that it includes all your relevant contact details. It can be really frustrating when you can’t find a persons phone number and you have loads of their emails.

Your Inbox


I have been to visit many clients who have shown me their Outlook with thousands of emails in the Inbox. That scares me. I have seen Outlook crash when there were simply too many emails in the Inbox. When Outlook crashes it can be very distressing!
It takes a few seconds to create folders and then you can organise your emails and keep your inbox clean. I try to leave only things I have pending in my inbox, when it builds up I find sometime to get things done and it all cleaned up again.

Writing emails


To me this is the area that is most important. Some people are extremely brief in their emails and in their SMS messages, others write whole books. I think a comfortable comprise is needed.
After you have said the usual pleasantries, get straight to the point, and make it extremely clear. Try and say everything you need so that the other person will definitely understand, rather than leave any guessing. Here is an example.

Client emails me, or even worse sends me an SMS:

Hi Julian,
My website isn’t working.
Please fix.


There are a few assumptions here:
1. I know which website he is referring to
2. That I know who he is
3. That I have all his contact details

The more effective way to right this email would be:

Hi Julian,

My website www.domain.com is not working. This page shows an error – www.domain.com/about.htm
Can you please fix this?

John Smith
ABC Limited
Tel: 2000000
Email: john@domain.com
Web: www.domain.com

When you write the email try to think of the questions that may arise from the message you are sending and answer them. 

Another typical example is in arranging meetings:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week?

--
Yes, sure when is best for you?
--
Wednesday or Thursday
--
Ok Wednesday morning?
--
What time?
--
11am
--
Sorry can’t. How about 12?
--
Ok 12 it is. At my office or yours?
--
Mine is better.
--
Ok. Wednesday at 12 at your office.
--
Ok see you then.

That’s 11 messages which could have been done in 3. Lets see:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week, I am free on Wednesday and Thursday morning, except for 11-11.30 on Wednesday. It would be best in my office as I have something to show you.

--
Sure, let’s make it Wednesday at 12 at your office. Ok?
--
Great. See you then.

Summary:


• Be specific
• Be clear
• Try not to leave questions open ended
• Explain what you need to in order to avoid unnecessary questions

These are just a few tips that can help you make your emailing quicker, easier and more effective. Let me know any tips that you use to improve your email efficiency, by commenting below.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.


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